Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Housing of Small Farmers.

21.

asked the Minister for Local Government if he will indicate (a) the powers of county councils to erect houses for small farmers, and (b) the grants, loan and other facilities which are available for such purposes; whether any agricultural valuation defines the category of small farmer; and whether any such housing schemes have been approved by his Department, and, if so, in respect of what county councils and under what conditions.

The general powers conferred on county councils by the Labourers Acts to erect houses are wide enough to enable them to consider the claims of small farmers.

May I point out that there is a conversation going on and that I cannot hear the Minister's reply?

The Chair has often asked Deputies not to hold conversations when business of the Dáil is in progress.

I suggest that the dispute should be settled in Limerick, not here.

Would the Chair ask Ministers to speak up?

The Chair will maintain order.

The general powers conferred on county councils by the Labourers Acts to erect houses are wide enough to enable them to consider the claims of small farmers. Many county councils have provided houses for such persons. The usual loan terms, including two-thirds State subsidy of loan charges over 50 years are available for the purpose. Facilities available to persons including small farmers for the provision of their own houses include State grants of up to £310 and supplementary grants payable by local authorities, advances under the Small Dwellings Acquisition Acts of up to 95% of the market value, and advances of from £100 to £200 from the Land Commission. New houses erected with these facilities qualify for rates remission in the normal course.

The term "small farmer" is not statutorily defined for the purposes of the Labourers Acts. Housing schemes under these Acts are not designated exclusively for small farmers but houses provided by county councils for this class would normally be those erected on the specific application procedure. Between September, 1952 and January, 1961 over 40% of all rural houses built by county councils were provided under this procedure.