Vocational Education (Amendment) Bill, 1962—Committee and Final Stages.

Section 1 agreed to.
SECTION 2.
Question proposed: "That Section 2 stand part of the Bill."

This is the Section to which we took exception, not because more money is being made available for vocational education but because the ratepayer, as distinct from the taxpayer, is being asked to provide this money. We think there should be a greater contribution from the Central Fund. In the old days, technical education was a rarity in this country and the householder was asked to put up the greater portion of the contribution. However, vocational education has now reached a very important stage in the education of the entire nation and a greater proportion of the burden should be borne by the taxpayer generally. That is the sole criticism we have of this section.

We are in favour of the provision of more money for education but we consider that every person in the State should contribute towards it and not the unfortunate ratepayer who already has a burden to bear which is heavy enough in most counties. The Minister, in his wisdom, should have another look at this method of raising money for vocational education. He should see if more of it could not be extracted from the Exchequer and less from the local authority fund.

The local authorities are not asked to contribute towards primary education. So far as I know, they are not asked to contribute towards university education. Why, therefore, for this most important branch of education should the ratepayer be asked to contribute so heavily? It is something the Minister should look at.

The Bill serves a very necessary purpose. It is an acknowledgment of the brutal facts of inflation. The old figures which limited the contribution of the local authority are no longer sufficient. It shows that more moneys will be made available from such sources. Of course, it implicitly acknowledges the importance of this kind of education in 1962.

On the occasion of the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the Dáil, I devoted quite a lot of my speech to the need for greater investment in this kind of education. I think there is a realisation of the importance of the spread of this kind of education throughout the entire community. If we are to grapple with the future, this, I believe, is our most important weapon. Therefore, the Bill is welcome.

I must agree with Deputy P. O'Donnell about the sources of the moneys. As the Minister knows, very complex problems arise in that regard. The Minister says that such education should be supported mainly locally and, broadly, that is desirable. However, the difficulties are obvious in areas where education is being provided for a much larger population than is living inside the supporting area. The Minister will understand my reference.

In the city of Cork, for instance, a very large scheme is carried out. Practically 5,000 pupils are being taught under the scheme. There are literally hundreds of teachers. There are five important schools, two of which are of the utmost importance because of Cork's growing industrial potential. In one of these schools, the most advanced technological training is being given. This is vital to the growth of an industrial community. It does not occur outside Dublin and I think it merits special consideration.

The committee in charge of the scheme are very far-seeing. The classes and subjects that must be provided must be provided actually before the need for them arises. Afterwards it is too late. The public responses to the provision of these classes prove that. Now we are in the situation that we are not able to do the work; we have not enough teachers to carry on the work that we are able to do, and I think that a major break-through is needed. A big capital programme is in project and it is necessary that the demands of the future be met. We have the industrial expansion and the promise of future growth in Cork. We have the young people but we have not adequate buildings or staff and the provision of these calls for investigation both in terms of money and in buildings.

The situation in Cork is completely unusual. Geographically, Cork contains a little more than one-half of the city's active population. That has been investigated elsewhere, but the present position is, that, of almost 5,000 pupils, practically 2,500 live outside the rating area. Until that situation is adjusted special consideration must be given to Cork. Cork's potential, I think, is too important to be left without this great service. We have a population of 130,000 to be catered for by a rating area of 70,000. Until that rating area is extended the burden must be carried elsewhere, but the burden cannot be discarded unless we are to make a mockery of all that has been said here about this branch of education.

The Cork case is exceptional, the problem of teachers is exceptional, the situation of the buildings is exceptional, and if this work is to flourish, if the next generation is to be fitted to do the work which we hope awaits it, this investment of money and effort must be brought to bear on the problem. I commend that action in respect of Cork. Its facilities for vocational training, its shortcomings and its needs, its ambitions towards industrial expansion, are obvious to the Minister and his Department and call for their alert consideration.

I just wish to intervene briefly regarding what has been said by Deputy P. O'Donnell concerning vocational education and the transfer of the cost of this branch of post-primary training to the Central Fund. I feel that what he has said in regard to the national schools is not altogether correct, since it is true that in the building and reconstruction of national schools the local people are asked to make a contribution.

That is correct in respect of the building.

The same also would apply to heating and cleaning.

But not the ratepayers—the local people, every person in the area.

After all, the money that comes in must come out of somebody's pocket in the locality. It is not coming from direct taxation. Therefore, I say the comparison the Deputy made is not correct on the face of it. In other words, local people also have to contribute towards the upkeep of the national schools, towards the heating, cleaning and reconstruction of these schools. I also feel that if we were to carry this thing further, it is inevitable that we would have extra national taxation because the Central Fund must get the money from the general taxpayers, and while there may be some virtue in it in so far as explaining to the local people that they could call on the Central Fund for this money, I really feel that it is not at all easy to do it because we still have not got free education right from the bottom to the top and it will be many years before we can attain that.

As it is, I believe there has been fairly adequate machinery available to the local people to try to advance a little further in this field of vocational education. There are many counties that have not yet reached the maximum permitted to them—15 pence in the £. The only point that worried me slightly was whether some counties may be getting a little more than their just share in comparison with others. They may have allocated this 15 pence all right, but my mind is not at ease as to whether that is true or not. I know that in my constituency of Cavan, which must be regarded as an undeveloped area, we have felt that we are suffering very much from lack of facilities for providing post-primary education of any sort.

We have not a great number of secondary schools and we have not, either, a great number of vocational schools. Our terrain is a very difficult one to manage. It will be very costly on our ratepayers if they are to provide the number of schools and teachers necessary properly to serve these vast tracts of our county which still have not got post-primary education facilities. We are not looking for any special concessions; we want only to be reassured that we are getting our fair share in so far as vocational education is concerned.

Might I ask the Minister in the case of a local authority raising the maximum amount of 2/- in the £, what would be the Departmental contribution?

It depends on the local authority concerned. We have not an even overall contribution.

Suppose a local authority did not raise the maximum of 2/-, what would the Department's contribution be?

The first few pennies would have to be raised without any contribution from the Central Fund and then in some counties it would be £1 for £1, in others £2 to £1 and in still others, £4 to £1. It will not be in terms of pennies. To answer the Deputy's question, I would need, first of all, to know how much a penny rates in terms of pounds in particular counties.

Let us take County Donegal as an instance. There a penny in the £ raises £1,300.

Towards that £1,300, there would be an identical amount from the Central Fund in respect of some counties, but in the case of Donegal, there would be twice that amount.

Hear, hear. I appreciate Deputy Dolan's point of view but there is the difference, which the Deputy possibly missed, that in the case of a local contribution for the building of a national school, the manager is responsible for the raising of the money. He generally raises it not as a levy on each ratepayer or the head of a household but by organising functions, by getting the children to hold raffles. However, supposing the manager had to raise his local contribution for the building of a national school through a levy on each ratepayer or each householder in the parish, would there not be an outcry?

That is being done.

To the extent of 10 per cent.

I know that in my county it certainly is not.

There is a good gambling element up there.

It is not a question of gambling at all. It is a question of the children being asked to attend functions or the householders being asked to raise the money, but I have never known the managers in my county to put a levy on each household.

It is done generally.

In my county, the levy on the householders is only infinitesimal in cases where we are raising the money for, say, an £8,000 school. The local contribution is generally about £500.

That would be a very poor district.

I said "parts of it." The local contribution is usually made up of the purchase of the site and the lay out. Mind you, despite what the Minister for Lands said last night about the price of land in the congested areas, when we come to buy a site for a school, we pay the market value for it, not Forestry Division values.

However, as I say, that is the procedure in my county and I cannot speak for any other county. The local people could pay it, as distinct from the local householders. I think that would be the proper way to do it and it would also be the proper way to raise money for vocational education —the taxpayers as distinct from the ratepayers should put up the money. It would not be such a heavy burden because there would be more people contributing to the pool because there are more taxpayers than ratepayers, possibly twenty times more. That is why I am advocating this charge on the taxpayers instead of on the ratepayers.

The Deputy still has not got over the fact that there is a local contribution towards maintenance and erection of local schools.

I quite agree with the Deputy, but the Minister does not say to the vocational education authorities: "Your local contribution is £1,000 and you must take it from the ratepayers." He says to the manager of the school: "You can get it where you wish," when he is speaking of national schools, but when he is speaking of vocational schools, he says: "Your local committee contribution is £1,000 but you must take it from the ratepayers." That is my argument. While you have rates at the moment of £2 12s. 3d. in the £, you could add another 2/- to them under this Bill.

Naoi bpingin. Níl ann ach árdú 9d. mar tá ? ann cheana i bhfurmhór na n-áiteacha.

If you wish to take the maximum rate permissible under this Bill——

Sin dhá scilling —ardú 9d. Ní hionann 9d. sa phunt agus 2/- sa phunt.

The Deputy says 9d. is nothing.

Ní dúirt me a leithéid. Dúirt mé nach raibh ann ach ardú 9d., cé go ndúirt an Teachta go raibh ardú 2/- ann.

We are getting very subtle.

I said you could raise it to a maximum of 2/- in the £ under the section we are dealing with now. Where it is 15d. in the £ at the moment, we are entitled to put on another 9d. in the £, although since it may be done over a number of years, the impact will not be felt in one year. I say that 9d. in the £ on a rate of £2 12s. and a few pence is a very severe impact, whereas if the entire people of County Donegal had to raise an equivalent sum, as distinct from the ratepayers, it would not be such a severe impact. That is my argument. If Deputies in the Fianna Fáil benches say that 9d. in the £ is nothing, let me remind them that when the local authority estimates come up in the month of February, we all have to pare and strip down as much as we can the estimates provided by the county manager, and we are lucky if we can take 1d. or 2d. off the global picture. Ninepence is a considerable sum. I am not sure what the rate is in the Deputy's constituency.

Clare, is it not?

I do not know what the rate is in Clare. I would like the people of Clare to know that the Minister's colleague says that 9d. in the £ is nothing.

Ní dúirt mé sin. Dúirt mé nach raibh ann ach árdú 9d., cé go ndúirt an Teachta go raibh árdú 2/- ann.

That is what the Deputy said. He said that 9d. in the £ is nothing to the people of Clare. I do not know Clare very well——

I think he said that 9d. in the £ is not 2/- in the £.

He said that an increase of 9d. in the £ means nothing.

Ni dúirt mé a leithéid. Dúirt me nach raibh ann ach árdú 9d. cé go ndúirt tusa go raibh árdú 2/- ann.

Tá sé de cheart ag an dTeachta bheith páirteach san díospóireacht.

If the Minister wants to disown a member of his Party——

I did not disown him.

Éirigh as an gcamastaíl agus bí macánta id raiteasaí.

The position is that where the contribution is 1/3d. in the £ at the moment, we are giving them permission to contribute 2/- in the £. That is a difference of 9d., and the Deputy tells me that 9d. is nothing.

The Deputy said that 9d. is not 2/-.

I shall leave it to the House.

Duirt an Teachta Ó Domhnaill go ndúirt mise gur neamh-ni é árdú 9d. ar na rátaí. Ní duirt mé a leithéid. Dúirt mé go ndúirt seisean go raibh árdú 2/- i dtreis sa Bhille. Duirt mise nach raibh ann ach ráta 9d. Más fiú leis casadh ar bith a bhaint as sin, tuig leis é a dhéanamh cé go bhfuil fhios aige nach fíor dó a leithéid a rá. Cé hiad na daoine a cuireann breis ar na rátaí—na coistí gairm beatha a toghtar ins gach contae? De réir an Achta Gairme Oideachais, siad baill an chomhairle contae iad. An coiste meastacháin ar an gcoiste sin, tuig leo sin pinghin breise nó dhá phingean breise nó leath réal breise do chur ar na rátai de réir an Bhille seo ach ní call doibh é a dhéanamh maran fonn leo é. Toghadh na daoine sin ar an gcomhairle contae chun aire a thabhairt do gnóthaí an chontae agus fágtar futha rud ciallmhar a dhéanamh sa chás seo.

Mar chríoch ar mo scéal, iarraim ar an dTeachta Ó Dómhnaill, más fonn leis Béarla a chur ar mo chuid cainte, é a dhéanamh go caoin macánta gan cur leis ná baint de agus gan casadh do chur ann fé mar a dhein sé sa mhéid a duirt mé inniu.

Listening to the members of the Fianna Fáil Party one is prompted to ask how daft they can get. Deputy O'Donnell makes a perfectly simple proposition. He says vocational education is now being levied very largely on the rates; that it has become a growing burden upon them and that since primary education is a national charge the time has come to ask ourselves whether the bulk of this charge for post-primary education should not be found from the Exchequer rather than from the ratepayers. There are hoots of rage from the Fianna Fáil Deputies who say : "Sock it on the ratepayers. Why should they not pay for vocational education? They are paying for the primary schools out of the rates." When they are challenged on that they say : "Do they not make a contribution to build schools?" Have they woken up to the fact that this is a proposal for an annual rate of 2/- in the £? You do not build a national school every 12 months.

But you have to sweep it and clean it.

You build a national school once and if you have any useful Deputy in the constituency, you pay ten per cent. of the cost.

I would not say "any useful Deputy". I could not afford that.

You pay some percentage of the cost once in a lifetime and you want to compare that with an annual charge of 2/- in the £. There seems to be some etymological argument as to what the Deputy from Clare said, or did not say, but when you propose an increase of 9d. in the £ on the rates for vocational education which affects the ratepayers of rural Ireland, have you forgotten that you sent the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Local Government in here six months ago to make an annual contribution of £2,500,000 from the Exchequer to relieve the rates, on the ground that the farmers could not afford to pay them? Why did you provide £2,500,000 in relief of rates on agricultural land? Was it not the argument here: "We have reached the absolute limit of the farmers' capacity to pay and the only way to relieve the situation is to take a lump sum of £2,500,000 per annum off the rates on land"?

Agricultural land.

They trotted in here six months ago to say the burden of rates on the agricultural community had become so insufferable that £2,500,000 per annum must be contributed to reduce that rate. Within six months, they are back and the Deputy from Clare proclaims that 9d. is a bagatelle.

Ní duirt sé a leithéid agus mara dtuigeann an Teachta an méid a dúirt mé, nil leigheas agam air.

We know what the Deputy said and the people of Clare will find out. We shall get it into the local paper.

Cleas maith é sin.

I shall not go into the etymological argument as to what the Deputy did say but the Fianna Fáil Deputies here today are saying: "Why not put it on the rates? What is Deputy O'Donnell talking about when he says it would be more appropriate that these growing charges should be made from the Exchequer?" How do you square that with the case made six months ago that the rates could not bear the burden they were then carrying?

It is all right for Deputy O'Donnell to be talking, if he is getting two to one from central funds.

Do not let us get away from this point. How do you square the proposition here that the rates can well afford an additional 9d. for vocational education with the proposition you made six months ago that if £2,500,000 were not provided in relief of rates on agricultural land, the farmers could not carry on? Both propositions cannot be true. Is that not so?

Did you say the farmers could not carry on?

You said it.

I did not say it.

I presume you speak as a corporate whole. Why did you provide £2,500,000——

You can provide relief——

——for the relief of farmers six months ago?

In my presence this morning people have said Deputy Ó Ceallaigh said something he did not say. Now you say somebody else said something and I am inclined to doubt it because of this other instance.

If Deputy Ó Ceallaigh is being misinterpreted, it shakes the Minister's confidence in the recollections of human beings. Would any Minister or Deputy say why did we provide £2,500,000 in relief of agricultural rates six months ago?

Does the Deputy really want to know?

Coming as he does from a rural constituency, the Deputy, I am sure, can tell.

I can recollect the case which was made here. It was thought that other sections of the community had received increases in salaries and wages whereas the agricultural community had not and in an effort to achieve more equitable distribution, this step was taken.

I am very much obliged to the Deputy for that interpretation of this somewhat dramatic method of restoring agricultural income. It is interesting to note that the fellows who got the rise in wages, the civil servants who got increases in their salaries and all the others who got an increase, are not going to be asked to give back some of that increase for vocational education.

Yes. The rate contribution is only a third of the amount. The taxpayers will——

Yes, this is the very argument Deputy O'Donnell was making that this burden should fall on the taxpayers, then everybody would bear his fair share—the civil servants, the civic guards, the trade union employee, the shopkeeper, the employer, the farmer, everybody. If the rates are to bear a large proportion of this burden surely what we are doing is taking back from the farmers in November a substantial part of what we gave them in June.

Ná ndíolann na siopadóirí aon rátaí?

I suggest to the House that the validity of the case we are making is very strong. It is quite true in the case of certain areas the State contribution, I think in certain cities, runs up to four times the local contribution.

Not cities.

A city like Cork.

For instance, Galway city and Tralee.

Would get £4 for every £1 they raise?

Where the amount col lectable from the rates is insufficient.

Where they have a large population coming in from outside the actual urban area to avail of the facilities in the urban area, there may be pound for pound. But if we are to deal with it seriously, we ought ask ourselves whether we should not first face the fact that post-primary education is a proper charge as primary education has been. Otherwise, we are going to end up by taking back from the rural community what Deputy Colley has described as the payment from the Exchequer designed to give them some kind of equality with all other sections of the community. I think the Deputy will agree with me that it would be grossly inequitable to give the rural community £2,000,000 to bring them up to the level of others and then proceed to take it back from them immediately afterwards with the corresponding contribution from everybody else, which I think is the burden of Deputy O'Donnell's argument. If everybody took up this 2/-, and there are corresponding increases by the Department, doubtless that would make a material contribution to the expansion of vocational education which is eminently desirable.

We are reaching the point where we should try to do it with a larger contribution from the Central Fund. In that connection, I should be glad to know from the Minister, at some stage of this discussion, how far can he urge on the vocational education authorities the necessity for certain branches of instruction. Can he urge on a local authority which proposes to increase the rates, say, by 3d. in the £. with a corresponding obligation on him to match it with a suitable grant from the Central Fund, to provide specified facilities? What is present in my mind, apart from the actual technical instruction, is: can he lay emphasis on the teaching of modern languages in the vocational schools?

That is being done.

It is being done, I imagine, in Dublin, Cork and large places like that, but whether it is being done outside these urban areas is doubtful. My consciousness of the problem was increased by my recent experience on the continent of Europe where there is a most striking and dramatic development going on. If you speak to a middle-aged Scandinavian, or a middle-aged Dutch person or a middle-aged German, or Belgian, a multiplicity of languages is probably no more frequent than it is here in Ireland, but if you speak to Scandinavians from Denmark or Sweden, or to Belgians, Dutch or Germans, under 25 years of age, it is altogether bewildering to discover how many of them know two and often three languages, including their own. That is to say you will meet a young Dutchman or Dutchwoman who speaks Dutch, English and German and what is even more staggering is that frequently when you speak to them, you find they speak very good English and if you ask them: "When were you in Ireland or in England to learn the language?", they will say that they were never outside their own country but learned the language in their secondary schools.

That has been the deliberate policy on the continent, consequential on the European Economic Community mentality which has been growing there for long before the Treaty of Rome emerged. But it is a very striking indication of how far we have fallen behind in that matter in Ireland. I am not at all sure that England is not pretty far behind the continent in that matter also but there is a danger that our insular position will leave us an immense leeway to make up, unless we face up to the fact that modern languages are an absolutely essential part of post-primary education.

I should be glad to hear from the Minister if outside urban areas any substantial teaching of modern languages is going on. I know that in some centres like Enniscorthy, and towns of that size, modern languages are being taught. I should be glad to know first if general facilities for the teaching of modern languages are available; secondly, if it is not within his power to press on the vocational education authority which looks for supplemental funds, consequent on the increased rates contribution, their obligation to provide language teaching there; and thirdly, despite Deputy Colley's helpful intervention, I should be glad if he would examine his conscience and ask himself, if Deputy Colley's explanation is adequate, how does he justify providing £2½ million for the relief of rates and agricultural land six months ago, and now proceeding to legislate in order to take it back from the community to which the Government felt it urgently necessary to give it, with the unanimous consent of Dáil Éireann, so very recently.

Apart from going away from fact, we have gone away from the section and if the House does not mind, I should like to get something clear that caused a momentary panic in my breast when Deputy Dillon said any worthwhile Deputy can get a school for a local contribution of ten per cent. No Deputy can achieve that. In some areas where obviously it would be a very heavy burden on the local community, we do make a bigger central contribution but it has nothing at all to do with the activity of Deputies. This is to save much trouble——

It is useful to use at election time.

The Deputy should know. What has been raised fundamentally, I think, is the administration of the system of education which is a system peculiar to this country. In terms of the national system, the administration is through the management method and we do require the managers to contribute some money, just to help them feel their responsibility in the local administration. The contribution is not an annual one, except for heating and cleaning, but for buildings it is and it can be relatively substantial for the local area concerned but mainly it is demanded because of the local nature of the management. Vocational education is again administered on a local basis by a statutory committee and again the financing of it can be through a combination of local and central funds.

And school fees.

And, to some extent, school fees. But the administration is again mainly local and I think the strong charcteristic of our vocational system has been its local administration. Its adaptability and success is perhaps to a great extent due to the local nature of its administration. The administration in secondary education has been mainly a private affair. The schools concerned find their local contribution on a private basis from the payment of the fees by the scholars, the State paying a capitation grant and incremental salaries. The ownership of the school is private. To overcome the difficulty of people who cannot pay a fee, the State has introduced in conjunction with the local authorities scholarship schemes. All the way through the system, there is that combination of contribution, sometimes nominal, by the local authority, manager or administrator and a central contribution, which is very often the main contribution. The question of how vocational education should be financed was decided many years ago on a local basis of administration and that makes me think it is well to continue this.

What Deputies have lost sight of is this. This 9d. has been the main topic this morning. But the financing will not be 9d. but about 27d. Taking the matter globally, it will be roughly one-third locally and two-thirds from the Central Fund. For every £1 raised locally, the Central Fund will contribute £2. It is not right to say that the bulk of the burden is falling on the ratepayers. The bulk of the added burden will fall on the taxpayers again. Neither is it right to represent the ratepayers as the rural community alone, because the ratepayers in Dublin and Cork and our cities, towns and villages will pay rates as well as the farmers.

There is good value for the money spent on vocational education. It may be that in certain areas this Bill will not satisfy the demand for funds. Cork are particularly worried. From my consideration of this, I think Cork will be able to manage their affairs as a result of this Bill, if it becomes law. If they cannot, then, as an administrative act, the Minister for Education, with the permission of the Minister for Finance, can give central grants. There is nothing in this Bill to prevent my giving more from the Central Fund, giving assistance in the form of a grant or in the form of a higher ratio of central contribution.

Of course, the rate of increase will not be a sudden one. As I explained on the Second Stage, the demand which the vocational education committees can make will be 1d. in each year. The rating authority may give up to 3d. if they want to in any one year. The committee is appointed by the rating authority. Experience up to now is that the representatives of the ratepayers have been happy about and have dealt with alacrity with any plan put up to them for increased expenditure on vocational education.

On the question of languages, Deputy Dillon mentioned the smaller countries in Europe which, of necessity, because they were at the cross-roads, had to know more than one language. Our position here is— and perhaps the same is true of much bigger countries such as Britain, France and the United States—that we have never had the need for another international language, because we do use an international language as well as our own. In the last couple of years the possibility of a need for modern continental languages has become obvious. In our secondary schools and vocational schools and in a variety of private institutions the Irish people are pressing in to learn world languages. There has been a remarkable increase in the number of people taking foreign languages in schools and in the number of adults taking them privately. I have encouraged this in the secondary schools by providing for incremental credit for teachers who work in the countries where modern continental languages are spoken. I hope to find other ways of encouraging the teaching of modern continental languages in the secondary schools.

Apart from any action I have taken, there has been a considerable increase in the number of students taking these foreign languages. I have a list of vocational schools here where committees are providing classes in modern languages or endeavouring to do so: Donegal, Galway, Clare, Limerick, Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Wexford, Wicklow, Dublin, Louth, Cavan, Meath, Westmeath, and Kildare. These can be recalled offhand. In County Clare, places such as Ennis, Kilrush and Scariff have classes going in modern continental languages.

The question was raised by Deputy Dillon, if I could use force in this case. It has not been found necessary at any time to force them. A suggestion has always been sufficient to get a response from committees to undertake valuable work. Of course, I am in a position, because we do contribute, to bring pressure to bear; but that has never been found necessary at any time. I think Deputy Dillon can rest assured that there is not any neglect by our people. Up to now we had not needed any other language, but since the possibility of the necessity arising, there has been an unbelievable demonstration by the people of enthusiasm and hard work in learning languages.

If the Minister would have it conveyed to the young people that there are very good jobs going for young people with a knowledge of German, Italian or French, he might get enthusiasm for learning these languages. I want to express my gratitude to the Minister for what he has said. We are aware that the local contribution for vocational education is only a percentage of the whole and that the State is really supplying the most of it. The fact of building anything on the rates structure is dangerous in this context. It is a dangerous pillar to lean on. Rates are very high and it is very easy to stampede ratepayers. This is a traditional expenditure. Frankly, they grudge expenditure of this kind; and the work of vocational education is far too important for cheeseparing. I would prefer if it were taken out of the short-sighted picture that local finance would impose on it. Controversy of any kind in this matter would be very dangerous because there would be always the danger of the child being thrown out with the dirty water.

I was amazed to hear the system of financing primary schools being compared with the system of financing vocational schools. I worked in a primary school down the country for 20 years and I would not wish our vocational schools to be carried on under the same system. On the Minister's main Estimate, I said it would be a good thing if the Minister had at his disposal a central fund to pay for the building, repair and upkeep of the primary schools. In my time, anyway, the conditions under which the primary teachers worked were not at all satisfactory. The only way for the Minister to get money in addition to what is spent by the central authority is through the rates. No doubt the present rates must be increased because we have increased salaries, increased cost of living and increased cost of material. One of the colleges in Dublin which four or five years ago was supposed to cost £800,000 is now costing in the neighbourhood of £1¼ million or £2 million. Prices, wages, salaries and everything else have gone up.

Something that is very necessary, and I wonder if the Minister could do it or whether it can be done, is this. When you borrow £1,000,000 at 6, 6¼ or 6½ per cent. for 25 years, the school that costs originally £1,000,000 by the end of 25 years will have cost about £2¼ million or £2½ million. If money could be provided for schools at a lower rate of interest, it would be a great help to the ratepayers and to the Government. I have advocated this in Dublin Corporation but it does not seem to get anywhere. I do not know if it is possible, but if it were, it would lower the rates.

The more vocational schools we have the better. The need for them is greater. The horse is going, so far as the farmer is concerned, and it is very necessary to have vocational schools in each area where farmers' sons and those in charge of agricultural machinery will have an opportunity of learning all about that machinery. Only vocational schools can provide that opportunity.

In certain parts of the country, we have no secondary schools and sometimes children have to go ten or 12 miles to a secondary school. Their parents are not in a position to send them as boarders. If it were possible, as a temporary measure in cases where vocational schools exist, for the Minister to give the pupils in that area the temporary use of portion of the school as a secondary school, it would be a great advantage. I understand we have three separate, watertight educational compartments but it is possible to do this if the effort is made.

It is not necessary to congratulate the Minister. I do not like gilding the lily but no doubt over the past five, six or seven years, there has been a great advance in vocational education here and I hope it will continue.

I do not wish to delay the House further but in view of exchanges which took place earlier, I feel I should say something in regard to Deputy Dillon's comments. The Deputy appears to accept the argument I put forward as to the reasons for the relief given to the agricultural community in regard to rates and he quoted a figure of £2½ million and argued that under this Bill we are now going to take that back again.

It should be pointed out that the amount which falls on the ratepayer as a result of this measure before the House depends, as Deputy Ó Ceallaigh pointed out, on the members of the committees concerned. It is up to them to strike the rate, the contribution for vocational education. Secondly, the amount of increases which are raised will to some extent be in respect of the provision of new and better services and so far as they relate to increased costs of salaries and maintenance, I think this country has been spoiled in the past by having education so cheaply that they do not value it because they do not have to pay for it to anything like the same extent as other countries. To the extent that increases in rates attributable to vocational education bring home to the ratepayers and the people in general the fact that we must pay for our education and that in fact the odds are that we are going to pay a lot more in the future, it is a good thing.

The main principle that seems to have been argued here by Deputy Dillon and Deputy O'Donnell is that ratepayers should not be asked to pay for vocational education because it would be more equitable to spread it over the much larger number of taxpayers. I ask Deputy O'Donnell to reconsider that argument very seriously. Vocational education is based on an Act introduced by Deputy O'Donnell's Party before my time and I think before his. That Act gave vocational education a most valuable characteristic which was the amount of local initiative, control and selfreliance which it involved. It is the outstanding characteristic of vocational education and there is a grave danger that if the principle advocated by Deputy O'Donnell were accepted, this local control and initiative would disappear. We had a little hint of it in something the Minister said when he was answering Deputy Dillon's query about whether he could enforce things on committees; in other words, whether he could tell them: "You must teach continental languages."

The Minister said it had never been found necessary to do that, that committees had always responded to any reasonable suggestion but he did say that since we paid so much money, we must have this power. We have the power but we do not exercise it. That is perfectly legitimate and I think that would be the view of Dáil Éireann in such a case, but consider the implications of it. If you abolish the local contribution from the rates, you are putting yourself in the position where inevitably this local control and ability to relate vocational education in a particular school to the district will be lost. That valuable characteristic will go. I ask Deputy O'Donnell to reconsider the matter very seriously.

I welcome Deputy Colley's valuable contribution to the debate. I see much logic in his arguments but when the old Cumann na nGaedheal Government in the early 30's or 1929 introduced what is known as the Principal Act, the 1930 Act, we must remember what vocational education was in those days. We must remember the subjects that were taught in the technical schools. While I cannot speak for Dublin, I certainly can speak for rural Ireland.

In rural Ireland, the principal subjects taught to girls were domestic economy, shorthand and typing. The only subject I knew to be taught to men was carpentry. A person who graduated in any of these subjects procured employment locally. The girls generally became domestic servants in the locality. The classes were known as cookery classes. Cookery was the only domestic subject taught and these girls procured employment locally. They were of benefit to the local ratepayers. Generally, there were itinerant teachers who went around three or four localities. In those days in rural Ireland, you were very lucky if you had one permanent school in a county. The carpenter who did his apprenticeship in the technical school found employment locally. He benefited the local ratepayers. The shorthand typists, of whom unfortunately there were very few, generally procured employment in some local business or professional man's office.

Compare that with what is happening today in vocational education. We have magnificent schools that compare with vocational schools in any part of the world. We have some of the finest teachers. Consider the subjects being taught. The Minister has very rightly told me that modern languages are being taught. Will the students of modern languages find employment amongst the local ratepayers? I do not think so. The apprentice mechanics who attend these schools, and acquire a technique there, do not usually find employment locally; they move out to some of the cities. I am referring to rural schools as distinct from city schools. Graduates in the commercial subjects being taught to-day do not acquire positions locally. In other words, the local ratepayer is paying for something which is of advantage to the general taxpayer. That is the difference between the 1930's and the 1960's, in so far as technical education is concerned.

Again, if we establish marine classes, as I hope we will, particularly in one of the premier seaports such as Killybegs, we hope pupils from all over the Twenty-six Counties will come there. They will acquire practical knowledge from practical teachers there and have an opportunity of doing practical work on the seaground. If we expect pupils to come from the entire Twenty-six Counties, why should we ask the local ratepayer there to pay a contribution towards it? An argument used by Deputy Colley, and a very good one too, is that he fears control may pass from the local authority, namely, the vocational education committee, to the Minister. I do not think he need worry that that might happen. The vocational education committees are in the same position as managers of national schools and, with the odd exception, we never hear of a clash between a Minister and one of the managers down the country.

That is right. You do not hear of them.

They are something that can be sorted out at departmental level. Again, there are exceptions. We need not mention them to-day. Generally speaking, there is 99 per cent co-operation between the Minister and his managers. The only time they do fall out is as to the amount of local contribution in the case of a new school. I think the vocational education committees are there to stay and that through their CEOs they will continue to cooperate with the Minister.

May I point out to Deputy Colley, through you Sir, that what I object to is this: A ratepayer is a taxpayer and although the Government will give a two to one contribution, that is, for every £1 the ratepayer puts up, the Government will give £2, that £2 comes from the taxpayer. The ratepayer is also a taxpayer. So, the ratepayer, in addition to paying his contribution through the rates, is also paying his contribution as a taxpayer. That is very unfair. As Deputy Dillon pointed out, it is only three or four months since we relieved the agricultural ratepayer to the extent of £2½ million. Now we are taking steps to take back from him some of that £2½ million. That is not fair. Perhaps Deputy Colley was not in the House when I said that we are in full agreement that the more money provided for vocational education, the better. All sides of this House are in agreement on that.

The only thing that we in Fine Gael object to is that we think it is time the rates became stablished. We have now reached the limits of taxation in so far as local rates are concerned and we think vocational education has reached such a broad level, it benefits so many people throughout the entire State, that instead of asking the local ratepayer to make a contribution, the taxpayers of the entire State should pay the full amount. That is the only difference between us. There is nothing else.

Deputy Barron congratulated the Minister on his approach to this matter. I should like to join with him. I think the Minister—like his predecessor—and his Department officials are doing a marvellous job for vocational education, a really magnificent job, if one thinks of 30 years ago, when you might have in a local authority one technical school. Go around Ireland to-day and see the number of ceard scoileanna erected—magnificent buildings staffed by some of the finest teachers in the country, in which a wide variety of subjects are taught, which are most beneficial and possibly much more useful than subjects taught in secondary schools.

It is on that basis that we have approached this Bill. It is on the basis that the Minister and his colleagues in Government recognise the fact that the ratepayer has reached the limits of taxation, so much so, that they relieved agricultural rates to the extent of £2½ million and under this Bill permission is being given to local authorities to increase the rate by as much as 9d. in the £. I know the Minister will say that, if the local authority increases the rate by 9d. in the £, he will give twice that contribution. If so, in addition to the 9d. in the £ being taken from the ratepayer, he will take some of that contribution from the ratepayer as a taxpayer. That is my objection.

Let nobody think that we in Fine Gael wish to obstruct the Minister or wish to retard vocational education. We do not. We are in full agreement. We are united on this. I think without exception in the House we are united that we must push forward vocational education but we disagree on the method of raising the funds to finance it. That is all. We think the money should come from the taxpayer rather than the ratepayer, that it should come out of central funds instead of from the local authority.

The question is: "That Section 2 stand part of the Bill."

We certainly protest against this method of raising the money, although we are most anxious, as I have said, to push forward vocational education. Although we protest against the section, we certainly will not oppose it because we think that might retard and hold up some of the very fine schemes which vocational education committees have now in preparation. So, while we are protesting against the method of raising the money under the section, we are not challenging a division or voting against it.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 3 agreed to.
SECTION 4.
Question proposed: "That Section 4 stand part of the Bill."

Perhaps the Minister would explain the section? Even to the legal mind, there is difficulty in understanding it. If the Minister would explain the section, we might possibly be able to contribute something to a debate on it.

It is the rateable valuation. Theoretically, the rates raised on an area can be said to be based either on the rateable valuation of the total area or on the rates collectable from the area, taking into account any rebates or other concessions. There are two possibilities: one is the theoretical rateable valuation of a county and the other is the rate which can be collected. The difference is the net rate, or the total rate minus any rebates or other concessions.

The original Act has been interpreted as meaning that a vocational education committee would get a rate based on the total rateable valuation of the area. Committees, therefore, have got more than their share of the collected rates. The position was left as it was until it was questioned by, I think, Dublin city and county; they thought the amount given should be based on the amount of rates collected. It is a matter which can only be determined by changing the wording of the provision to make it quite clear or else by having it determined in the courts. I took the opportunity of this Bill, necessary for the financing of the vocational education committees, to clear up the point. If one takes a county in which there is a certain valuation but in which, as far as the county council is concerned, that total valuation will not be collected because of certain rebates and other concessions, then what the county council get is net. But up to this money for the vocational education committee was based on the generous interpretation of the valuation of the county.

It is a real percentage of the real rate.

That is the difficulty. There are a number of hereditaments in counties on which no rates are paid. Is that not so? There are churches, local authority buildings and so on.

And new houses receive a rebate.

Under the Housing Acts. Supposing the total rateable valuation is £1,000,000, and supposing the local authority decide to give 2/- in the £ to the vocational education committee, will that be 2/- on the £1,000,000 rateable valuation or 2/- on the various hereditaments on which rates are actually payable?

It will be 2/- in the £ on the total rate.

On the assessment.

If it is 2/- on the total rate——

On the total valuation.

If it is 2/- on the total valuation but certain people do not pay rates, it will be much more than 2/- in the £ on those who actually do pay rates. Is that not so?

In practice, that is what has been going on since 1930.

I know, but at that time the contribution was 1/3d. Now we are proposing to give permission to raise that to 2/- and, despite what Deputy Ó Ceallaigh said, it is a serious matter.

The Deputy anyway understands the position now.

I do, thanks to the Minister. Even as a lawyer, I found great difficulty in interpreting this.

You cannot fool the doctors.

It is a good thing to have a doctor in the House. The Minister will understand our concern. We think 2/- is high enough but the number of instances in which there are rebates and in which no rates are collectable is substantial and the actual ratepayer must make up for these, for want of a better word, delinquents.

When the Deputy says "delinquents", does he mean the churches?

I am referring to the churches. I am not referring to the proprietors. Delinquents is the best word I can think of at the moment. You can include in that, if you wish——

The churchgoers.

——those who do not go to church. It is they who are the delinquents in that sense. These hereditaments on which no rates are paid are delinquent from the point of view of ratepaying. The actual ratepayer then, who puts up the actual cash, has to make a contribution for them.

But he is still paying only 2/-

Mr. O'Donnell

He will pay more because the total contribution is based on the gross rateable valuation.

As far as he is concerned, it is only 2/-

But the money must be got.

It is put down on the rates. If it does not turn up, it cannot be added to.

But the Minister told us it can be added to.

The 2/- in the £ will not come in for several years.

But we are legislating for the future. The trouble is the future will not be able to protect itself. It is our duty to protect it now.

What is happening in the city of Dublin is that the rate is 18d. but it is actually 19½d. to make up the amount.

There you are. What will the position be when it is 2/- in the £1? The Minister is right when he says that will apply in the future. Who worries about the future? It is our duty to protect the future ratepayers. This is the time and the place to protect them. I would much prefer the Minister to amend that section by saying the rateable value of the hereditaments on which rates are collectable. That may reduce the contribution but it will be more equitable to the ratepayer. I do not think the vocational education committees would object. Let the ministerial contribution be on the gross rateable valuation, if that is desired, but, as far as the local authority is concerned, let it be on the net.

The previous year's collection.

If you wish to put it that way.

Suppose out of a total rate of 40/- a sum of 2/- will be given to the vocational education committee, that 2/- is roughly 1/20th. Let the net rate be collected and let one-twentieth of it go to the vocational education committee. I am trying to lessen the impact of this section on future ratepayers. This is the time to do it. We all go round the country at certain times criticising past legislators because those legislators were permitted to rush legislation through Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann, without thinking of the future, forgetting the impact it will have in the future. That is my sole reason for criticising this section.

Must the same amount not be collected to implement the scheme decided upon?

It must, of course.

I should like, through the Chair, to explain the matter to Deputy MacCarthy. As Deputy Barron pointed out, the rate in Dublin is 1/8d. That rate is on the gross valuation of the city of Dublin, but, unfortunately, there are a number of ratepayers in this city who, for numerous reasons, do not pay rates, but the local contribution is 1/8d.

It is 1/7½.

All right—1/7½. That must be made up by the city council to the vocational committee on the gross valuation of the city of Dublin.

That is what I am saying—the same amount must be provided.

On the gross valuation. It means that instead of 1/6d., you have 1/7½.

You have 1/7½ because the committee decided that a certain amount of money was required.

No. When the local authority strike a rate, they are not aware of who will be delinquents in the following year. Let us interpret the word "delinquent" in its broadest sense.

If it is on the total valuation.

That is what we want to avoid. I have opened the debate and let someone else finish it.

Dúirt mé cheana agus deirim arís é nach ndúras gur neamh-ní é naoi bpingin.

Tá mé sásta leis sin.

Ba cheart don Teachta Ó Dómhnaill éirí as an gcamastaíl sin.

Tá mé sásta leis sin.

Is dóigh liom gur mithid dó bheith sásta. Má éirionn le comhairle contae 90 faoin gcéad de na rátaí, a bhailiú, cad a dhéanfaidh siad mar gheall ar an 10 faoin gcéad eile? Cuirfidh siad leis na rátaí é san mbliain atá chugainn. Má theipeann ortha é a bhailiú, caithfidh siad dul i bhfiacha san mbanc. Nach mar sin atá an scéal?

Go díreach.

Cén fáth go mbainfí de na rátaí go léir an t-airgead atá ag dul do choisti gairm-oideachais? Dúirt an Teachta Ó Dómhnaill agus an Teachta de Barúin gur thug an Rialtas £2,500,000 do na feirmeóirí. Nuair a bhí an Páirtí seo ag túirt £2,500,000 do na feirmeióirí, do chuaigh an Teachta P. Ó Dómhnaill ina choinne.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 5 and 6 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendments.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Bill received for final consideration and passed.