Committee on Finance. - Vote 32—Local Government.

I move:—

That a supplementary sum not exceeding £200,140 be granted to defray the charge, which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1961, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Local Government, including Grants to Local Authorities, Grants and other expenses in connection with Housing, and Miscellaneous Grants.

Deputies will observe from the text of the Supplementary Estimate, as circulated, that it comprises two items, one £200,000 for housing grants and the other a small item of £140 being the State's portion of the liability under a statutory guarantee.

As regards the main item, the voted provision for housing grants for the year 1960/61 was £2,095,000. Of this sum, £1,943,468 had been expended at the 31st January, 1961 (allowing for credits by way of refunds, etc.), leaving a balance of £151,532 to meet commitments maturing before the end of the financial year. In view of the present rate of the demand for payments, this balance would be insufficient to discharge claims arising before 31st March next, and to meet the estimated deficiency a supplementary sum of £200,000 is now being sought.

The bulk of the excess expenditure (£130,000) arises on new house grants. The upward trend in the allocations for these grants in the year 1959-60 has continued during the current financial year. The present indications are that the allocations for this year will amount to about 4,700 as compared with a figure of 3,868 for the financial year 1959/60.

Apart from the very substantial increase in the number of new house grant allocations, payments for all types of grants have shown a tendency to mature more speedily than in former years.

It is satisfactory to record that the generous assistance available for private housing operations—including the provision of private water supplies and sewerage services—has in the past two years greatly accelerated the demand for these grants.

The purpose of the item of £140 in the Supplementary Estimate is to enable recoupment to be made by my Department towards the expenditure of a housing authority in meeting a guarantee under a scheme made by them in accordance with the provisions of Section 10 of the Housing (Amendment) Act, 1956, under which they guaranteed part of an advance made by a building society for the purchase of a house.

The guarantee given by the housing authority extended only to that part of the advance which would not have been forthcoming from the society in the absence of the guarantee. The amount paid by the housing authority in pursuance of the guarantee was two-thirds of the loss incurred by the building society concerned. The sum of £140 to be recouped to the housing authority by my Department represents 50 per cent. of the payment so made.

I think it is undesirable that this Vote should be sought until we know exactly the amount which will be required at 31st March. The Minister says the main item on this Vote for 1960/61 amounts to £2,095,000: "Of this sum, £1,943,468 had been expended at the 31st January, 1961 .... leaving a balance of £151,532 to meet commitments maturing before the end of the financial year." We would like to know what are the commitments to be met out of this sum of £151,532. Has the entire sum been committed or what is the Minister's estimate of the commitments at 31st March, next? If there is this sum still to credit in the Department surely the Minister should await an estimate of the exact amount which he will require up to 31st March before coming to the House.

I note that the Minister states that it is satisfactory to record that the generous assistance available for private housing operations including provision of private water supplies and sewerage services has greatly accelerated the demand for these grants. One would think, listening to Fianna Fáil speakers, that there has been a great upward surge in the building of houses since they took office four years ago. It is no harm to put the facts on record. As reported in Volume 180, in reply to a Parliamentary Question the Minister, on the 29th March, 1960, said that in the year 1954 local authorities built 5,697 houses and private enterprise built 4,793, a total of 10,490 houses. In 1955, 4,143 houses were built by local authorities and 4,873 by private enterprise, a total of 9,016. Then, in what Deputy Briscoe and others wish to refer to as the bad year, 1956, 4,218 houses were built by local authorities and 5,859 by private enterprise—a total of 10,077. In the three years of the inter-Party Government 29,583 houses were built by local authorities and private enterprise.

Fianna Fáil came into power in 1957 and in that year 4,123 houses were built by local authorities and 3,925 by private enterprise, a total of 8,048. That was the first year of the present Government. In their second year the total number of local authority houses fell to 2,033 and the total number of houses built by private enterprise fell to 2,904—1,000 fewer than in the previous year—giving a total of 4,937. In 1959, 2,399 houses were built by local authorities and private enterprise built 3,066, making a total of 5,465. In the three years of the inter-Party Government, 29,583 houses were built and in the first three years of the present Government, 18,450. In other words, there was a fall of 11,000 in the three years of the present Government. That is something we should remember.

I prophesied at the time—evidently, I was justified—that there would be a tapering-off in the building of houses. The Minister, as a matter of fact, in introducing his Estimate last year said much the same thing. He confirmed what I had said three years earlier. I am glad he is now getting back to the provision of water and sewerage and reconstruction and repairs. I remember a speech I made in Bandon, where I appealed for more reconstruction, more clearing of derelict sites and building thereon. I am glad—although I was criticised for it at the time—that that is the policy of the present Minister and that he and his Department are now concentrating on reconstruction and repair grants. We must never forget, however, the fact that the inter-Party Government built over 11,153 more houses in their three years of office than Fianna Fáil did in three years. We have not yet got figures for the year ending December, 1960, but they will be available very soon and we shall then see how they compare with former years.

The figures I have given were given in reply to a Parliamentary Question in March last. They bear out the contention that the Inter-Party Government did much more for housing than has been done by Fianna Fáil since they came into office. We have no objection to the provision of this Supplementary Vote, but we think we should know the actual commitments of the Department before voting additional money.

It is clear from paragraph 3 of the circulated copy of the Minister's speech, that the additional money provided for in the Supplementary Estimate will be needed to meet commitments up to the 31st March. I take it, therefore, that the House will gladly approve of the Estimate so that the State may meet its commitments in respect of house building, but I should like to draw the Minister's attention to one aspect of housing grants, that is the delay which takes place in paying these grants.

Many of the reconstruction and repair grants are sought by persons who have practically no resources or extremely slender ones with the result that these people enter into arrangements with contractors to carry out the necessary reconstruction work and many of these contractors themselves are small men with the result that, the moment they finish the job, they are seeking payment and, unfortunately, the person for whom the work is being carried out must depend on the Department and the local authority for the grant in order that he may pay the contractor.

From cases which I have personally handled it seems there is some delay in the inspection of these reconstructed houses on the part of the inspectorate of the Department. I gladly acknowledge that once the facts are brought to the attention of the staff in the Minister's office no time is lost in investigating the matter and the necessary contact is made with the inspector concerned. But I find it necessary, in most cases, to do that in order to ensure prompt treatment. Unless one pursues the matter in that way and follows up representation there is apt to be considerable delay in the payment of the grant. Of course, as the Minister knows, the local authority grant cannot be paid until the State grant has been paid.

I can quite understand that if there is increased activity in the field of repair work and in the field of reconstruction, inevitably that taxes the resources of the inspectorate but I plead with the Minister to recognise that many of the contractors who do repairs and reconstruction work are men with practically no resources and every effort should be made to pay the grant in instalments and to pay the final instalment as soon as possible. That necessitates the close and, perhaps, unremitting attention by the inspectorate to the reconstruction or repair of houses.

The Minister may plead—if he does, I shall understand his plea—that, with the staff at his disposal, he is doing the best he can. May I put it to the Minister that, recognising the special circumstances of the small man struggling to have his house repaired or reconstructed, the small contractor, without resources, endeavouring to meet his requirements—no one else will do the work except the small contractor —very special steps should be taken to pay the first instalment as early as possible and the second moiety, or final instalment, as expeditiously as possible. That may necessitate more frequent inspection. I suggest that should not be an insuperable difficulty. I ask the Minister to examine that aspect of the matter to ensure that the efforts of these people, people with no great power and very little wealth, will be encouraged because of the facilities which the State will provide.

There are some other matters affecting housing activities but I think they would more properly arise on the main Estimate. I shall leave them until then.

I am always very amused when Deputy O'Donnell gets up and, with the red flag of housing waving before his face, resorts to a defence of his own administration in the Department of Local Government. He started off, in his welcome of this Supplementary Estimate, by giving us facts—indisputable facts—and figures about housing activities over six particular years. He started with 1954 and placed to the credit of the Coalition Government the fact that almost 10,500 houses were built in that year. Surely Deputy O'Donnell does not think one can build houses overnight? Housebuilding takes a considerable time. First of all, the site has to be selected; the plans have to be completed; tenders have to be sought; tenders have to be examined. Finally, there has to be the approval of the Minister for Local Government. Following that, the house are built.

Deputy O'Donnell has not allowed for the fact that Fianna Fáil were in office for almost half of 1954. If he had wanted to be quite truthful and quite fair, he might have said that 5,000 of the houses built in 1954 could go to the credit of the Coalition Government but I defy contradiction of the statement that the Coalition Government cannot claim credit for even one of the houses built in the year 1954. The whole 10,490 go to the credit, if credit is to be claimed, of the Fianna Fáil Government which ceased to function as a Government in 1954.

Deputy O'Donnell claims credit for 1955 and 1956. I am sorry Deputy Larkin is not here. He is chairman of the Housing Committee of Dublin Corporation. He has been chairman for a great number of years. He would agree that you cannot decide to build a house on Monday morning and have it available for occupation on the following Friday. Deputy O'Donnell referred to the three years of Coalition Government—1957, 1958 and 1959. The figures were somewhat lower. He did not explain in detail, of course, that there was a great falling-off in private building because the moneys that should have been available under the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Acts had dried up in the last year in which the Coalition Government were in office. It had to be provided de novo almost on the re-advent of a Fianna Fáil Government.

Deputy O'Donnell referred to tapering off. He dismissed it in a few words. He realises that over a great part of the country essential needs have been met almost entirely. Much still has to be done in Dublin city and there tapering off is not possible. The type of building has now greatly changed. We have changed from the building of artisans' dwellings around the perimeter to flat building in the centre of the city. Anyone who knows anything about houses knows that flat building takes longer and that such building is more costly. Even with the expenditure of more money, fewer dwellings will be provided as compared with ordinary houses.

I do not want to delay the House with technical details. I know that Fianna Fáil waged war on slumdom and the elimination of a situation in which whole families lived in single rooms in tenements. It was Fianna Fáil who initiated a general policy of providing better housing for our people. I am happy to inform the House that the time is not far distant when we shall see an end to the housing problem in Dublin city. Having examined the position carefully, we estimate that we will finish the job within five or six years. We require something like 11,000 more dwellings. To a great extent, these dwellings will be flat dwellings, built on approximately 60 different sites. There are some smaller schemes of ordinary houses.

That policy initiated by Fianna Fáil has proved successful in our own lifetime. Successive governments have provided substantial sums for housing. I claim, and I am proud of the fact, that Fianna Fáil, from 1932 onwards, tackled this problem in a most realistic way. I should like, too, to give credit to the late Deputy Murphy who helped considerably to speed up the solution of the problem by the amending legislation he introduced. We shall never get anywhere if we keep on comparing notes, but I claim that Fianna Fáil's record in relation to housing will stand for ever as a monument to the Party.

I have read contributions made to debates in this House, particularly the contributions made by Deputy O'Donnell. Those contributions sought to indicate that my protests about the mal-administration of the Coalition Government in relation to housing were wrong. I am sure our Minister for Local Government has access to everything in his Department and he will be able to bear me out——

Not on this Supplementary Estimate, I hope.

——when I say that I was always correct and proper in my protests.

Not on this Supplementary Estimate.

I know, Sir, but Deputy O'Donnell, in a sense, brought it in with his usual battle-cry of "We built more than you did during your period of office and you built less than we did when you took over after us." They built more because they completed what we had started, and we built fewer houses in the following three years because they had failed to provide the necessary moneys to enable the programme to continue as it had done in the past.

I was one of those who went on deputations to the Minister for Local Government and other members of the Cabinet on a number of occasions on behalf of Dublin Corporation. Our attitude was confirmed by the City Manager who came with us. The then Minister for Local Government, Deputy O'Donnell, gave the House advice as to how the Dublin Corporation and other local authorities could provide money for Small Dwellings Acts cases by going to insurance companies, and he was to make the arrangements. We know how successful that was. We know the extent of the money that was made available and the rate of interest demanded for it.

I am speaking as one who for a number of years has been active in this important and necessary work for the citizens of Dublin. I know what has been happening. I know that when the job will have been completed five years from now, the citizens of Dublin will know to whom to be grateful.

I had to smile when I heard Deputy Briscoe's attempt to defend the Government's action in building 11,000 fewer houses during their first three years of office.

The Deputy does not know anything about it.


Deputy Briscoe thinks I know nothing about housing?

In Dublin.

Any Deputy from the West of Ireland has to do much greater work in connection with housing than any city Deputy. I know a great deal about housing. The majority of the houses in the West had practically to be re-built. Not alone were the houses themselves old and practically uninhabitable, but the sites were wrong. No matter what Deputy Briscoe says, it is a disgraceful thing that the number of houses built should have dropped by 11,000 in the three years after Fianna Fáil came into office.

I am not familiar with the city housing problem, nor do I claim to be. I must, however, take notice of the figures of the number of houses built by private persons, which relate mostly to the rural areas. In 1954, 4,700 were built; in 1955, 4,800, and in 1956, 5,800. Against that, in the first year of the Fianna Fáil Government the figure went down to 3,900; in the following year, it was 2,900, and in the third year, it dropped to 3,000—almost half the 1956 figure.

While I fully agree with the Supplementary Estimate before the House, I would suggest to the Minister that £300, the grant for a new five-roomed house, including water and sewerage, is absolutely inadequate. It was reasonable three or four years ago. The Minister may smile, but I know what I am talking about.

The Deputy does not because he did not have it three or four years ago.

Four years ago, a very decent five-roomed house could be built in the country for from £900 to £950. Due to wage increases brought about by the increased cost of living and increases in raw materials, the same house will cost now £1,450. For that reason, I believe the time has come for a fairly steep increase in the amount of the grant. Today, the smallness of the grant is preventing many people from building houses who badly need them.

I do not know what the mentality of the city people is, but in the country people are very slow to go into debt for building. I admire them for that. It is possible that they could get a loan or mortgage at the bank on their land to help them erect the house; but past experience has taught them it is very easy to tie a millstone around your neck but very difficult to untie it. Therefore, I would ask the Minister to increase the grant by at least 33? per cent., or more, if he can do it.

There is one other matter I should like to raise with the Minister, although I am afraid I cannot offer any suggestion as to how it might be dealt with. Throughout the country, there are people living in houses that have now reached a very dangerous condition. These people are absolutely too poor to build a new house, even with the help of the most liberal grant from the Department. Something should be done for these people, and the Minister's officials would probably be able to advise him. It should be possible for the Department to build a house and to arrange a loan, repayable by way of annuity, much the same as Section B of the Land Reclamation Scheme and the scheme under which the land itself was purchased in years gone by. A good many holdings are now free of rent and many more will be free of annuity in a few years' time. Such holdings could bear a small annuity again to provide a new house. These people are the worst off in the whole country. Their houses are too old and unsafe to be reconstructed, and a new house is the only answer. The Minister would be doing a good day's work if he could deal with that matter.

My purpose in intervening was to make specific reference to a few matters in relation to the administration of housing under the Minister's Department, but having listened to Deputy Briscoe, who, I regret to say, has fled the House, I am compelled to refute some of the allegations he made. The figures which Deputy O'Donnell revealed drew from Deputy Briscoe denials of their accuracy, but these denials cannot be substantiated. Deputy Briscoe advanced one reason: he said that houses cannot be built overnight. That is agreed. However, one would expect that in the course of four years, there would be substantial improvement in a situation which was so vigorously criticised by Deputy Briscoe in the year before his Government assumed office. It is remarkable that over the long period in which the present Government have now been in office, we have not seen the revival in the building trade envisaged, if one were to assume that the criticisms offered were backed by the intention to do dramatically better, if given the opportunity.

Whether Deputy Briscoe appreciates it or not, it is a fact that in relation to housing under the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Acts, in Dublin city alone the amount of money being expended is one-half of what it was in 1956. Would not anyone listening to Deputy Briscoe, and not knowing these figures, believe that he was convinced that that is not true? He asked us to ignore the number of dwellings under the Housing of the Working Classes Acts because of the greater expenditure involved in the erection of communal flats.

In 1956, the year in which Deputy Briscoe ran riot, the year in which he created a panic in this city, £2,540,669 was spent under the Housing of the Working Classes Acts. In 1960 that expenditure dropped to £833,358— one-third of the amount spent in the year in which Deputy Briscoe ran riot. Those are the facts based on the argument Deputy Briscoe advanced with regard to the increased costs involved in the provision of the dwellings. I regret the Deputy is not in the House because he would have to concede that these are the correct figures. He would have to agree, because they are not my figures, but figures provided by the Minister's office.

The Deputy talked about the difficulty of accelerating building and about how difficult it was to get it under way—the provision of sites and so on and so forth — and he spoke about building over a period. In 1947, only 742 houses were built by the local authorities. There was a change of Government in 1948 and the figure went up to 1,371. In the following year, it was 4,226 and in the year after, 1950, 8,117 houses were built. The period I am citing is equal in length to the period this Government have now been in office. We were told they would get cracking in many fields; yet here is positive proof that they certainly have nothing to record to their credit in relation to effecting an improvement in housing conditions since they resumed office.

Deputy Briscoe said that the only remaining difficulties relating to housing are in the city of Dublin and, to some extent possibly, in the city of Cork. That statement has led to an acceptance by the people that everything is grand and that housing is adequate throughout the country, with the exception of these heavily urbanised areas. I say there are rural towns in which housing conditions are extremely bad.

In the town in which I live myself, Bandon, in Deputy MacCarthy's constituency, there are at least a dozen families living under shockingly primitive conditions, and seeking tenancies the moment anything becomes available. Pressure is brought to bear on public representatives of all Parties in that regard, although there is a serviced site there. This is a problem of the utmost importance and urgency. That is a centre where housing is required, and action should be taken forthwith to ensure that these people are housed.

I am glad this Supplementary Estimate is being introduced, if the intention is to improve that situation and to ensure that in the course of some months the Department will expedite the payment of grants for the erection of houses. Before the Minister introduced this Supplementary Estimate, I was looking forward to an opportunity of mentioning the complaints to which Deputy Norton referred with regard to delay in the payment of grants for new houses or for the reconstruction of houses and the delay in sending inspectors to visit the houses. In our various constituencies, we find that, as Deputies, we are approached on more occasions on this particular aspect of administration than on any other. Therefore, I would ask the Minister to try to expedite, in the first place, the visits of the inspectorial staff, and secondly, the payments of grants.

There is another glaring injustice in relation to supplementary housing grants which I would ask the Minister to rectify. There seems to be some confusion in local authority offices in regard to the interpretation of the qualification clause for a supplementary housing grant. I find that in some cases they are compelled to accept the income of the applicant in the year in which the application was made. Sometimes a person changes his abode because of special circumstances. He might be a retiring member of the Garda, who thinks that he is now sure of his location for the remainder of his days, and who applies for a grant such as a supplementary housing grant; but because he has received a gratuity— something which will not be repeated but which is down in black and white as if it were a continuing income—in the year in which he makes the application, it is regarded as his income for that year.

I ask the Minister to look into that matter because it is a great injustice that any man should be denied a supplementary housing grant, on being pensioned off from a Department of State and given an amount of money which is intended to sustain him and his dependants for the rest of his life, because his gratuity is regarded as an income sufficient to bar him from getting a supplementary housing grant.

There are other instances I could quote. I know a case of a relative of a farmer who worked without any reward whatsoever for 30 years, and when the people who owned the place retired from farming and made over the price of the farm as an award to the person for the 30 years' service she had given to the family, that money was recorded to her credit in the year in which she made application for a housing grant, and she was refused the grant. That is a glaring injustice and one which could be readily remedied by administrative action.

Those are a few of the instances that inspired me to make these comments. I would ask the Minister to take action as soon as possible so that these individual cases—and they are not many in relation to all who qualify for supplementary housing grants—will not suffer a distinct injustice and hardship.

I can assure the Minister that housing in the South Cork area is being carried out under a planned scheme in the various electoral areas, in turn, under a housing inspector who visits the areas and examines the conditions of the applicants in order to satisfy the local authority and the Department. The survey for the town of Bandon and the surrounding area has now been completed and is awaiting implementation.

Deputy O'Sullivan referred to supplementary grants. Of course, they are not the concern of the Minister at all. Supplementary grants and the conditions on which they are issued are matters for the local authorities, the county councils and the various advisory boards. I agree with what Deputy O'Sullivan has said, but this is not the place to have these matters rectified. The fact that a member of the Garda retires from the service of the State and gets his gratuity in the particular year in which he applies for a grant should not operate against him.

The same can be said about the overtime earnings of people engaged on urgent projects. The Whitegate Refinery had to be completed within a certain period. The extra time worked by people there was counted against them for the supplementary grants. That is something that is not likely to arise again in a lifetime. We shall have to rectify that matter in the county council of which Deputy O'Sullivan is a member. It would be more appropriate to do it there. Less time would be lost if we raised such matters with the appropriate bodies.

The local bodies advised that it was a matter for the Department of Local Government.

I want to place on record my disappointment at the progress in housing in the past 12 months. In regard to the manner in which the Department of Local Government treated applicants for housing grants and grants for reconstruction, apart from delays in payment, I have no serious complaint.

I want the Minister to ensure that the Housing Section of his Department will see to it that when files are sent out to the various inspectors, the inspectors will not carry them around with them for weeks. I trust an effort will be made to have the various houses reported upon without delay. In many cases, applicants for reconstruction grants have had the work satisfactorily carried out, having obtained the cement, timber and other material from merchants who want to collect their money. There have been many distressing occurrences because of delays.

I am quite satisfied that any time delays were reported to the Department, action was taken. It should not be necessary for applicants to seek the assistance of Deputies. With speed and efficiency in the Department of Local Government, including the Housing Section, it ought not be necessary for an applicant to voice his grievance to any member of the Oireachtas to obtain speedy payment of the grants.

We would lose our jobs.

There is a change in the voice of the Fianna Fáil Party on housing in the past 12 months. Those of us who recall the panic of Deputies such as Deputy Briscoe and others a few years ago cannot but notice their silence now, despite the fact that less money is being spent on housing.

There seems to be a slowing-up in the housing drive throughout the country. During the last general election, we were told from every Fianna Fáil platform that if elected to office, Fianna Fáil would abolish slums and provide a house for every family. They have now been in office for four years but, particularly in regard to the performance of the past 12 months, that promise has fallen short of fulfilment.

If the Minister feels there is a housing problem only in Cork and Dublin, then he is not in touch with the people. There are very great housing problems in practically ever progressive provincial town. I have often wondered why the Department has not at regular intervals circularised every local authority so as to have an up-to-date survey of housing requirements continually under review.

For every local authority house that becomes vacant in Portlaoise, there are at least 15 to 20 applicants. The housing situation there is desperate. The fault cannot lie on the shoulders of the local authority. They have submitted plans and proposals and informed the Department of their activities. There seems to be unusual delay in giving sanction to local authorities for schemes.

In Birr, the housing position is so appalling that in many cases three, four and five families are living in the one house. The housing position in Tullamore can be described only as horrid. Despite the best efforts of Tullamore Urban District Council, another 200 houses are required there. At least 100 houses are required in Birr; at least 100 in Portarlington; and at least 100 in Portlaoise.

The Government should keep abreast of modern housing conditions. The State will have to play a bigger and more important part in housing schemes. By the time the housing subsidy is taken into consideration by the local authority, the rents for the houses they provide are prohibitive and frequently the persons most deserving of such houses cannot pay for them. Often an unemployed father with a large family must remain in a condemned house against the wishes of the local authority or stay with his in-laws. He could not possibly pay the rent for the type of house he should have.

The problem in my constituency is no different from that in every constituency. Local authorities realise they cannot go ahead with housing schemes because of the high rents which must be charged. There must be a new approach to the financing of local authorities in relation to housing schemes. The Minister is in his last year of office. If he wants to do something really practical, he should recast housing policy. The State should play a greater part in assisting local authorities to provide houses.

I want the Minister to say if the State has not a duty to provide houses for its citizens. There seems to be no evidence of house-building in our large provincial towns. There is no evidence of local authorities erecting cottages in rural districts. Ministers and other responsible authorities are constantly appealing to people to stay on the land. We must build up parish life by providing houses in rural areas. A farm worker, for instance, should be provided with a house convenient to his work. We have rural electrification, and the Minister tells us we shall have water supplies in even the most remote part of the country.

I fail to understand why we do not try to keep our people on the land. I feel that farm workers should be given special consideration and that there should be a special scheme for financing local authorities in regard to the erection of houses on sites which will be voluntarily given by farmers for the purpose of housing the agricultural worker. No provision is made in this Estimate nor was provision made in the last main Estimate in relation to the provision of houses for agricultural workers and I would ask the Government to give serious consideration to the matter.

There are many agricultural workers who have to travel long distances from the towns to the farmers employing them. In such cases we have examples of farmers who are prepared to give sites voluntarily upon which to erect cottages for the farm workers. Local authorities will not undertake that work unless some direction is given by the Department of Local Government. There is a very big problem in relation to housing throughout rural Ireland apart from the urban housing problem. The urban housing problem exists in all our cities and there is a demand for houses and flats. A very peculiar type of problem with which every Deputy is familiar exists in regard to the very small farmer who is unable to build a house for himself. The local authority will not touch that type of person and the Department of Local Government will give a grant only to repair an old house which will not pass the conditions laid down in regard to the reconstruction of houses.

You have many small farmers in this country under £15 valuation. They have not sufficient capital of their own. They do not want to enter into any commitments in regard to the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Acts simply because, in nine cases out of ten, in rural Ireland the occupant has not taken out administration to the lands on which he lives. Unless there is full title, a local authority will not give a loan under the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Acts.

The Deputy will appreciate that this is a Supplementary Estimate and that many of the points he mentioned do not arise on it. We are confined to the subheads listed in the Estimate.

I agree with the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, but I thought I might focus attention on the failure of the Government successfully to solve the housing problem in this country. The general trend of housing throughout the whole country is entirely slowed up. It is unsatisfactory and out of date. I feel that the time has come when the Government ought to review their entire housing policy in accordance with their desires and wishes prior to the general election. If the Government acted in accordance with what they said they would do in regard to housing, the problem of which I and Opposition Deputies speak would be solved and there would be no need for comment.

The grants for the erection of new houses are not sufficiently generous. I would ask the Minister to provide in his main Estimate a greater sum. If he does that, I am sure he will have the backing and support of the Opposition in this House because the amounts now payable either for the reconstruction of old houses or the erection of new ones are not in accordance with the cost of materials, wages and other costs which have fallen heavily on people who have to build houses. I hoped that long ago there would have been a statement made by the Government in relation to a new approach.

I want to say how disappointed I am because the Government have fallen short of the country's expectations in relation to housing. Less money is being spent on houses. Fewer houses are being built and there is a greater demand for houses. The demand from local authorities and the citizens in general has fallen on deaf ears. The Minister has turned a blind eye to the problem of housing in rural Ireland. I want to express my disapproval and condemnation of the present Minister's activities in regard to housing. I am not satisfied with the progress. It falls very short of the country's requirements and expectations. I trust the time will come when steps will be taken seriously to solve the problem by providing all our people who require houses with a new house and seeing to it that the proper finances are placed at the disposal of the local authorities to proceed with the work as speedily as possible.

Unfortunately, I came in only during the latter part of Deputy O'Sullivan's speech. I had the doubtful privilege of listening to Deputy O. Flanagan's dissertation. It is most surprising to hear Fine Gael Deputies criticise the Fianna Fáil Government for their lack of progress in regard to housing above all other matters which come within the ambit of a Government Department. In passing I should like to place on record—I am very glad he is not here because it would be a source of embarrassment for me—that I think the present occupant of the Ministry of Local Government is one of the most outstanding, conscientious, energetic and hardworking Ministers we had in that onerous position for many a long time. I think the Department and its officers are a credit to him. I am in constant communication with these people on various aspects of housing and I am very familiar with the question of housing generally in Ireland today. I should like to place that small tribute on record.

Deputy O'Sullivan gave certain figures. He quoted statistics for 1954 and 1955 and said they were the peak years of the Coalition's housing drive. Everybody knows that the Coalition Government came into power in the latter half of 1954. The houses which were built in 1954 and 1955 were planned and passed by the previous Fianna Fáil Government. Any suggestion that the Coalition Government increased the tempo of house-building during their short three and a half years' reign is absolutely fantastic.

I also heard Deputy O'Sullivan quote certain figures in relation to the amount of money expended in those years, particularly in the years 1954 and 1955. It ought to be remembered that the year 1956 was an appalling year with regard to the building industry but the amount of money quoted by Deputy O'Sullivan in regard to 1954 and 1955 bears no relation to the true facts. For the first time Dublin Corporation and Cork Corporation were given access to the Local Loans Fund. Therefore, if the figure in regard to housing expenditure from the Local Loans Fund in those years shows twice the amount of previous years the explanation is that the Dublin Corporation did not borrow from the public because they could not get it owing to the financial state into which the Coalition Government brought the country. Cork Corporation were unable to borrow from the general public and the Government had to assist them through the Local Loans Fund for the first time. That is the answer to Deputy O'Sullivan, the former Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach.

Deputy Flanagan spoke about delays in the payment of supplementary grants. Every Deputy knows there are delays in the payment of supplementary grants but it is unfair to place that blame at the door af the Minister for Local Government or at the door of the Custom House. Everyone knows there are certain procedures to be adopted when one seeks a reconstruction grant. First of all, one applies to the local authority, having filled up the application form setting out the schedule of the work proposed and an estimate of the cost. The local authority, in turn, simply convey to that person that, in their opinion, the work would be worthy of a grant, but that has to be sanctioned before payment can be made by the Department of Local Government and a certificate to that effect issued.

When the alleged delays in the payment of these reconstruction grants take place, it is the person himself, the applicant for the reconstruction grant, who in every case is to blame. There is no question about that. In other words, the inspector will get his file, visit the job where the reconstruction work has been carried out and in many cases will say that the work specified has not been done, that something has been omitted, thereby reducing the global amount of the grant. If it has not been omitted then in many cases the work has been done in a slipshod fashion and it would be the height of folly to expect the Department of Local Government or an inspector to certify inferior work for payment. It would also be against the wishes of this House.

As I say, there are delays in the payment of reconstruction grants but the manner in which the criticism of the delays is made is completely unjustified. The remedy is to observe the statutory regulations and it lies in the hands of the people themselves. If they did that, there would be no hold-up in the payment. If they carried out the work according to the specification and the schedule submitted and approved in the first instance, there would be no complaints and if they waited—and this is an important point—to get approval before commencing the work. In many instances, people have gone on with the work without having got approval, so that the criticism is unfair.

Deputy Flanagan also raised the question of hardship on merchants waiting for payment for supplies of timber, cement and so on used in a reconstruction job. Everyone knows that the Department of Local Government will act on an assignment of the grant in question, which is a legally binding document, directing that the grant payable to John Jones, or whatever the name is, of such-and-such an address, be paid to Thomas Smith, hardware merchant of such-and-such a place. There is really no hardship involved, and I do not think it is reasonable or justifiable criticism.

I have covered the question of access to the Local Loans Fund. For the first time, Dublin and Cork Corporations have shown that that is how Deputy O'Sullivan got this very high figure. With regard to the drop-off, as has been alleged by Deputy O'Sullivan, in the number of houses being erected, I am afraid he must be one of the few people in the country who believe that that is the case. It was the debate in December, 1956, which helped to put the Coalition Government out of power. If we cast our minds back, we will remember that the building industry had been brought to its knees. Merchants, not for three months but for a couple of years, could not get the moneys due to them and apart from merchants, the local authorities could not get any payments from the Department of Finance via the Local Loans Fund, not for work to come, or partially done, but for work actually completed on schemes of houses wherein the people were actually living. That was the critical position. A circular letter from the then Minister for Finance, Deputy Sweetman, instructed members of local authorities to accept no further commitments. He had this famous meeting with the County Managers' Association when a certain instruction was given which left these managers under no doubt that the "kitty" was completely empty.

That was the plight of the building industry towards the end of 1956. The emigration of our skilled tradesmen, to Britain particularly, reached very high proportions and, unfortunately, we are now in the plight that one of our greatest difficulties in the building industry, a difficulty which, in my opinion, is one of the main reasons for the high tenders for local authority houses, is the fact that skilled tradesmen, particularly carpenters and masons, are not available.

However, I do not wish to go into detailed matters on this Supplementary Estimate. It would be well, however, for Deputy O'Sullivan when he discusses the number of houses completed in any particular time to bulk private housing and public housing, Housing of the Working Classes operation, plus the activities of those who availed of the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Acts. Indeed, time out of mind, circular letters have come before local authorities from the Department of Local Government urging those who are in a position to do so to take the burden off the local authority by building their own houses. The result is that the upward trend of private housing is of such a nature that it has exceeded the greatest expectations of the Minister's advisers and, therefore, this Supplementary Estimate is necessary, because by 31st March, the amount we voted for Local Government last year would not be sufficient to pay grants to those who are constructing their houses at present.

Then, again, it is only reasonable for the Opposition to concede that we inherited a problem whereby the central city areas in the larger cities, Dublin, Limerick and Cork, had to be built on. Business was being lost to the trading community. People were objecting to the cost of transport from the outlying areas and the centres of the cities were not only becoming eyesores but completely denuded of any semblance of life and were fit only for the parking of cars. Indeed, in many cases, they were not even capable of being used for that purpose, due to the ruins and so on, which were dealt with on the Derelict Sites Bill, which was introduced some time ago.

Derelict sites in central city areas cannot be built up overnight. Title has to be investigated and there are other procedures which involve delay and hold up progress. These delays are tiresome and appear unreasonable to the ordinary man-in-the-street. They are unavoidable and the public should be educated to that fact.

Ask any trade unionist what the position in the building trade is to-day. It was never better. There is full employment in the industry. The worry is how to get some of our skilled men back from England because the indications are that for many years there will be continuity of employment in the industry which is the second largest industry in this country.

Deputy Flanagan bemoaned the fact that in certain towns in his constituency there are cases of three or four families living in one house. I wish the Fine Gael Party would make up their mind. According to Deputy Flanagan there are three or four families living in one house. According to the Leader of the Opposition the position in rural Ireland is that there are houses in perfect condition with the windows shuttered, the occupants having fled.

Deputy Flanagan also bemoaned the fact that persons for whom houses were being built today could not afford the rents of the houses. Deputy Flanagan is a member of a local authority and should be aware of the powers vested in the local authorities in regard to the fixing of rents. There are ample provisions whereby the tenant's means can be taken into account and the rent adjusted accordingly.

There is one point on which I do agree with Deputy Flanagan. There is a very large demand in rural Ireland for agricultural cottages. I think the figure would be about 20,000. There is no political issue involved in this matter. The members of local authorities are concerned about the cost involved. It is quite fantastic that an ordinary agricultural cottage should cost £1,200 to £1,300 to build. This is a serious problem for the Minister. I do not know what the solution may be.

When I was recalling the part of Deputy O'Sullivan's speech that I heard as to the expenditure by the Coalition Government on housing, I omitted to say that in March, 1957, when we came into power the then Minister for Local Government, Deputy Smith, had to issue immediately nearly £1,000,000 from the Local Loans Fund to pay off debts to local authorities incurred by the previous Government which they had let lie and because of which many reputable building contractors and builders' providers were brought to the Bankruptcy Court with unfortunate results. The position was examined by the Fianna Fáil Government. The debts were paid. The housing problem was tackled.

At the present moment there is no unemployment in the housebuilding industry. In one year under the Fianna Fáil Government over 11,000 houses were built. I am not sure if the figure was not 13,000. Taking into consideration the total number of houses erected by private builders and under the Housing of the Working Classes Acts and the number under construction at the present time, it will be seen that the position is very satisfactory indeed.

One thing which must be stressed, as against the previous Government, is that where a local authority submit a scheme and get approval and carry out the work they do so in the knowledge that they will be paid for the work, that they will not be in the same position as they were in in the past of being faced with mounting overdraft charges.

One of the first things that Deputy O'Donnell wanted to make quite clear was that he felt this Supplementary Estimate was not properly before the House, in other words, that it should not be sought or granted until the end of March when the actual commitments would be known. Of course, we want to continue to pay our commitments as they arise. Deputy O'Donnell might not be aware of that. In order that these commitments may be met, it is essential that the money should be there to pay them as they arise. If we were to accept the view expressed by the Deputy, we would stop paying any grants as and from this week and no money would be forthcoming until some time next April. We do not believe that that is the best way of doing this type of business and therefore we have come to the House to seek an amount that, from fairly reliable estimates based on allocations and inspection records, we believe will fall to be paid before the end of this financial year.

As a matter of record, at the moment, out of the entire Vote provided for this purpose, we have £151,000. Therefore, one can readily see that if we are to continue making payments beyond the next few days it is absolutely essential to have this Supplementary Vote granted. The Deputy quoted the figures and the time which has elapsed to which these figures apply in respect of grant outpayments. He would seem to suggest that, on the average of the months gone by, that would apply on the average to the months intervening since we first came to look for this Supplementary Estimate, and a figure would arise that would not bear out the amount for which we are now looking.

The fact is that these demands have been accelerating and the outpayments anticipated are in the region of £200,000 for the month. With £151,000 in the kitty and a little over a month to go, I do not think anyone can suggest we are boosting the amount we need. Why should we do so? In the normal run of things, no Minister is anxious to have to come back to the House during the year looking for more money. He has been given the amount that, it was anticipated, from the outlook a year ago would be sufficient for his particular service. However, in this case it is somewhat different, in that it is in respect of a service which all of us, on all sides of the House, are most anxious to continue. If it expands, as it is expanding, everybody should feel quite happy. For that reason Deputy O'Donnell and the other members of the Opposition should be satisfied that there is no gimmick in coming here looking for this supplementary amount, that in fact it is needed and that the entire amount we are asking for will be required and paid out by the end of next month.

I might say, although it is rather late in the discussion to make any observation on it, that the debate has largely centred on the issues raised by Deputy O'Donnell on local authority housing and many other matters completely unrelated to this Supplementary Estimate and the debate that should follow from it. The matter with which we are dealing here is purely and simply a Supplementary Estimate for money to defray these costs and these grants from the Department of Local Government and all the matters which have been discussed by Deputy O'Donnell do not fall within the ambit of this discussion at all.

However, the answers which Deputy O'Donnell was given very ably by Deputy Briscoe and Deputy O'Malley should suffice in relation to the statements he and other Deputies on the opposite benches made in trying to make it appear, as it was sought to make it appear a year ago on a somewhat similar occasion, that this Government is falling down on the job in relation to housing. They even had the audacity to try to make comparisons, to the disadvantage of this Government, with the performance of the last Government. If Deputy O'Donnell would refer to the Volume of the Dáil Debates from which I think he quoted this afternoon, he would find there the reply which I had then to give in this House and which is an adequate answer to all he has said.

If I may correct the Minister, I was quoting from a reply to a Parliamentary Question.

It sounded so much like what I had heard said here on another occasion that I presumed it to be from that debate, but I would still refer him to that debate of a year ago. In that debate he will get full and adequate answers to similar suggestions made by the Deputy and others on that side of the House. I would advise him to digest them fully before occasion is again taken to raise this matter. Let me repeat that when we took office in 1957 we took over after a grand spree of spending in all directions without thought to the future, to the ability of the then Government to pay or the ability of the economy of the country, as it was then, to stand up to it. We took over at a time when this spree had of necessity to come to an end because there was little left in the kitty with which to continue it. We took it over when the evidence of the dead hand of the Coalition was there to be seen more completely in regard to matters of local government than in regard to any other matter.

Since then we have continued to arrest the decline and brought about a new upsurge in the trend, having paid off, as has been said here this afternoon, the outstanding debts that were incurred without thought by the then Government. The encouragement we have given has not been merely circular letters to county councils or grand exhortations to the members of these councils on any opportune public occasion but rather the concrete way of, first of all, clearing the decks of the Local Government Department of all the debts that had been incurred, clearing out the files and the chests in the Department wherein were buried many worth-while and worthy projects for which no sanction had been forthcoming from that Government.

We then proceeded to instil some confidence in the local authorities that the new Government would meet their commitments to the local authorities in regard to these matters. We went on from there to introduce new housing legislation in which we increased the grants under various heads in order to give greater financial encouragement to the ordinary people througout the country, the private builders and those who had houses to repair. The effects of the efforts we made are quite evident to-day and for some time past. During the discussion on the Estimate last year, it was quite clear that the steps we had taken, and are continuing to take, were bearing fruit. The results were encouraging; the trend was again upwards in these spheres and the situation to-day is that that trend is continuing despite what has been said by those who would rather not see the evidence which is so obvious to everybody else.

Deputy O'Donnell also spoke of the statements he made as Minister at some time, I think, in Bandon. He said he advocated greater attention to and spending on the repair, improvement and conservation of our existing housing stock. More power to the Deputy if that is what he said. There is no harm whatsoever in that. He also said he talked about the effort that should be made to clear up these derelict sites. It is all very well to talk, but I am asking now: did he do anything more than talk? We have. We have brought in legislation which makes it possible, in a speedy and satisfactory manner, for local authorities to clear up these eyesores. Furthermore, in a very telling fashion, we have brought in a scheme of grants by which to encourage their clearance. I want to nail this, lest, in a few years or a few months, as the occasion may arise, the Deputy or possibly somebody who has listened to him or who reads what he has said to-day may claim, in a short while, that the Parties opposite were responsible for clearing derelict sites and that all that may be done on that problem in the future will be attributed to the good work started by Deputy O'Donnell, merely by talking in Bandon some four or five years ago.

Deputy Norton raised the question of delays. I am no more happy about that than Deputy Norton or other Deputies who have alluded to delay, but, as I said before and repeat now, we have had difficulties in maintaining our staffs of inspectors in sufficient number to meet the growing demand. We have taken every possible step on several occasions—and even in recent months by way of advertisements, boards and interviews—to keep up the strength of the staff, but despite all that has been done, it is only now—and we are still somewhat under strength—that we have a situation in which the inspectorate staff are reasonably well able to cope with the demands on them. But there is a backlog which they are trying to liquidate and which may still require some little time before it is completely wiped out. That will depend also on the strength of the staff remaining at the present level.

I have done, and I am continuing to do, everything possible to minimise delay by inter-changing, by supplementing, by taking an inspector from one part and sending him to another that appears to need him more. We do not want delays, and we are trying to get rid of them, but the difficulty in regard to inspectors has been there throughout the past year or so. I hope that the coming financial year will be better from that point of view. The House may be assured that all steps necessary are being taken and will be taken to reduce the delay to the minimum. I am fully alive to all that has been said in regard to payment of instalments and I realise the advantage it would be to the people building, particularly those having the work done by small contractors without financial backing, to have payments made quickly. We are quite conscious of that, and we shall continue to try to serve those people with the least possible delay.

For some reason, Deputy Blowick introduced himself as a person knowing practically everything about houses, grants, and costs and told us how totally inadequate is the grant of £300 which is available for the erection of a serviced, five-roomed house in the country. Actually, that figure should read £310 but, knowing so much—by his own profession—I was surprised to hear him say how little use the grant was compared with four years ago. At that stage, I could not help but interject that those figures were not then available. He passed from that to tell us in a very vehement and definite way that the grants were not sufficient and that a steep increase was needed.

I am sure the Deputy and other members know that the amount of money available to-day by way of grant for building houses is greater than it was at any other stage in our history. In addition, these grants of £310 for a serviced house in a non-serviced area may be, and are in very many cases, supplemented by the local authority to the tune of £300. It is possible in rural Ireland now to get £610 in grants to build a house. If that is not considerable, even though costs have gone up, I do not know what is.

One thing has increased. Deputy Blowick might know something about this, since he knows so much about housing. For the same type of house in the Gaeltacht, the grant is £450, plus anything up to £300 from the local authorities. We are thus operating on terms of £600-£750 in grants for the building of a house, depending on the part of rural Ireland in which the person resides. That is the extent of aid for housebuilding from public funds at present. Yet, we have an ex-Minister, an expert on housing, according to himself, telling us that steep increases are needed. Certainly if we could build houses for nothing, everybody would be happier or at least they would appear to be for the moment, but in our circumstances generally, I do not think anybody can say that State assistance is ungenerous as has been represented here.

Deputy Blowick also said something that did not make much sense to me when he spoke of people in the country being slow to borrow and said that he admired them for it. Presumably, he is prepared to admire them for staying in a bad house rather than undertaking to repay some of the cost of a good house in which they could live in better conditions. He actually gave the lie to the impression he had already created by talking about the very poor people who, he said, should be helped by a special grant yet to be devised and he suggested their holdings should become annuity-free and that a special effort should be made to give them special loans, repayable on an annuity basis. He cannot have it both ways: he admires those who will not borrow even though they can get the money and yet he wants a special scheme of loans to enable the particularly poor people to borrow. I leave it to the House to judge the value of his argument.

Deputy O'Sullivan mentioned the inadequacy of housing other than in the cities. I think he suggested that some people were inferring that there was no real need for housing except in the cities and that only a little remained to be done and that he did not agree with them. I do not agree with them either. There is still quite an amount of housing to be provided throughout the country, but unfortunately the position is that we are not clear as to what the amount is exactly and in what category it arises. Without that knowledge, we are not able to sit down, as we should like to do, and devise, if necessary, further steps effectively to eliminate what I believe exists—isolated bad houses throughout rural Ireland, particularly in the case of small farmers.

With this in view, I invoked the powers available to request local authorities to do their duty and in May and in August of last year, I asked them to carry out comprehensive surveys of all the houses required in their functional areas, regardless of whether or not people living in unfit houses had applied for council houses—in other words, a survey that would give us a picture in the Department of Local Government which would enable us to take any steps that may be necessary, based on factual knowledge rather than on observations of mine or of Deputies who, to a large extent, are talking of what they see in their own areas or as they pass through particular parts of the country. The local authorities have an obligation to do this: they have not been doing it in the past, possibly due to the fact—so obvious for so long—that it was a question of building what you saw was needed. You did not have to look for work.

The point is that we have asked them to honour that obligation, an obligation which they are in duty bound to observe. We are awaiting the result of the surveys. The return so far has not been as good as we should like it to be and we have sent out reminders. We have got certain promises from some of the counties. We have got quite a bit of action from others. Then there are some who are quite far behind. The surveys are being done at my instigation. It is a nation-wide survey. There is a duty on local authorities under the Inspection of Districts Regulations to do these surveys and keep them up to date. We have asked local authorities to do these surveys so that we shall know exactly where we stand. In due course, when we have these surveys, we shall be able to find out whether changes are needed in the law or the regulations in order to solve whatever problems may be thrown up by these surveys.

Specific Instance building schemes are not being availed of to the fullest extent. Some local authorities appear to be vaguely aware of the scheme. Some utilise it a little. If local authorities drew up schemes and forwarded them to us for approval, there would be less need for criticism here in relation to housing for the poor and the small farmer. I exhort members of this House who are also members of local authorities to bring Specific Instance schemes before their local councils, with a view to relieving some of the hardship that still exists because of lack of proper housing for certain categories. There are people who prefer to live in rather dire circumstances in rural areas rather than migrate to nearby towns or villages. They will not accept houses in villages or towns, even if they could get them without paying any rent at all. There is good reason for their reluctance to leave. They can eke out some kind of existence in their present homesteads. The Specific Instance procedure should be adopted more widely in the case of such people.

Deputy O'Sullivan talked about his own town and about people living there in primitive conditions. If these appalling conditions exist, then the members of this House who are also members of local authorities brand themselves as lacking in any sense of duty towards their constituents. It is their duty to ensure these primitive conditions cease. Every Deputy who is a member of a local authority and who charges the Government with responsibility for these conditions, hoping the charge will stick, shows himself up in a rather sorry light. I hurl the charge back and tell the Deputy to go back to his local authority, do his job there properly, get houses built and wipe out these primitive and appalling conditions from his town or village. There is no reason why such a situation should exist. Those responsible should get on with the work. When cases of this nature come to the Department, the money is never refused. I exhort those who criticise so freely to go back to their local councils and set about taking steps to build new houses for these people who, they say, are living in primitive and appalling conditions.

On the question of supplementary grants, these grants are available. Schemes are at the discretion of the local authorities. Naturally, local authorities adopt whatever scheme will give the best value in particular circumstances. This is permissive legislation. It does not really come within the ambit of the Minister or his Department. It has been my experience over the years that the approach to these schemes is a sensible one.

Deputy Flanagan made quite a noise here about the housing situation in his constituency, with particular reference to Portlaoise, Birr, Tullamore and Portarlington. He claimed that a couple of hundred houses are needed in Tullamore, 100 in Birr, 100 in Portarlington, 100 in Portlaoise. A survey has been sought from the Deputy's local authority area. At the moment the survey is complete in three dispensary districts and partially complete in two—five surveys altogether. There are 15 in the area. We asked for these surveys eight months ago. Fairly recently reminders were sent out.

In relation to Birr, where the 100 families are supposed to be in extreme need of houses, plans were submitted to my Department on 11th January from the Birr area for two houses. In Portlaoise, where it is obvious that 100 houses are needed and where there are three or four families to each house, we have had a 52-house scheme proposed for that town. Approval for that scheme issued on 20th January, but, according to Deputy Flanagan, we need at least 50 more houses. The Deputy is a member of the local authority and it is for him to bring to the notice of the local authority the "500 appalling cases" he speaks of in order to have appropriate action taken. I believe that when the facts of these "500 appalling cases" in these four towns are examined, the Deputy's statement is likely to be very far from a statement of the true position.

The Deputy also stated that a new housing code was required. In case there might be credit given in any direction for anything being done at present, Deputy Flanagan brings in this umbrella cover that a complete new code is needed, that more money is needed and that, unless there are world-shaking developments to meet a situation that exists more in his imagination than in reality, the Government may be accused of not doing their duty. That is typical of the Deputy and does not require comment from me.

What we were called upon to discuss here is the matter of the moneys required for the continuation of prompt payments of all grants that fall to be paid between now and 31st March. I have indicated that this money is definitely needed—needed, in fact, within a matter of days. We are down to the last of the moneys available to us from the ordinary Vote. Due to the increased demand, which we are glad to see, we require this extra £200,000.

Vote put and agreed to.
Vote reported and agreed to.