Committee on Finance. - Vote 26: Local Government (Resumed).

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

When I reported progress yesterday I had dealt with the demand for a hotel in Dún Laoghaire, under the auspices of Ostlanna Éireann Teoranta; the whole social problem of itinerants, particularly relating to the Dublin city area; and the need for a vast tract of land similar to that of the Phoenix Park to be made available to people on the south side of the city.

In dealing with this question of a park I suggested that an area of the Dublin mountains be taken over and developed or, alternatively, that there should be a development somewhat similar to the national park concept in the United States. Within this park there should be created the type of amenity available in the Phoenix Park, football pitches and other recreational facilities.

It is important to keep in mind that in ten or 20 years time people will have quite a lot of time on their hands. Not everybody has a car and not everybody has the time to go from, say, the area of Sandyford or Stillorgan to the Phoenix Park. Another important reason for it is the growth of population. I would imagine that in ten or 20 years time the population on the south side of Dublin will have doubled or trebled. There are no real recreational facilities there. We have, of course, community centres like Glenalbyn in Stillorgan, a first class project of its kind where there are facilities for football and tennis, and where there will be a swimming pool in the very near future. However, this caters for and is adjusted to a particular area. It is not that people cannot avail of the facilities there, but the location would not be convenient to everyone. Furthermore it does not perform the same function as the Phoenix Park. It is geared as a social centre where people can gather in groups and so on. Therefore I would ask the Minister to examine the possibility of making available an area on the south side of the city for a project of this nature.

The Minister mentions in page 12 of his brief the concept of co-operatives in the building of houses, where a group of people come together, form a co-operative society and pool their knowledge and resources in relation to the availability of loans, grants and so on. He mentions the co-operative effort by the Vocational Teachers' Organisation. The Vocational Teachers' Organisation are one group who do this excellent work.

There are many other co-operatives and one in particular that I should like to mention is the South County Dublin Co-operative Society and the Ballybrack housing co-operative group. A group of young people who were in need of accommodation came together and did the same thing as the Vocational Teachers' Organisation. The Minister met one of the groups and was very impressed by what they had to say and to show. I am glad that they have now almost solved their housing problem. They are building their own houses in the Ballybrack area of Dún Laoghaire. We should be grateful for this kind of development where you get people to accept that they should do something for themselves and apply the old Sinn Féin philosophy which operates to a great extent in the country areas particularly where a group of businessmen come together to advance their own interests. They advertise in British journals to get new industries and so on. In this way they achieve what they set out to do for themselves. They do not rely on the State to any great extent but, of course, they take advantage of available grants and so on. That is the whole concept of co-operation.

I think the Ballybrack people are to be congratulated on the way they achieved their objective, namely, the placing of a roof over their own heads. I trust they will not finish their operations when they are re-housed. I hope these co-operative organisations will form themselves into a national organisation and pool their knowledge and experience for the benefit of others seeking houses. I hope those concerned will take note of this suggestion.

The Minister dealt at some length with the Ballymun housing project in his introductory speech. Deputy Clinton, in his own fashion, tried to misrepresent the situation there. I think the project was completed within the contract period but one can appreciate that when people are put into a new housing complex before it is actually completed there will be problems. Snags must be ironed out. Quite a number of families were put into Ballymun before it was completed. Roads were not ready and the shopping centre was not finished. I was up there in the last six weeks and the roads are completed leaving only the matter of shopping centres, et cetera. Deputy Clinton, by design or otherwise, forgot to mention that the people of Ballymun have formed an active residents' association and the corporation's arrangements for estate management are currently being extended. Therefore, you have a watchdog on both sides in Ballymun: the residents' association on one side and the corporation's estate management corps on the other. If problems exist for the people of Ballymun they have an outlet for their opinions through these two bodies. The residents' association will, of course, be elected by the people and they also have the corporation estate management team, which is being extended.

The Minister said that these developments are occurring simultaneously. While problems crop up from time to time which tend to attract disproportionate publicity, in four years an impressive contribution has been made to the Dublin housing pool. More than 10,000 people have been housed in Ballymun, a remarkable achievement of which those concerned should be proud.

Another development in the Ballymun housing scheme is the provision of a communal television aerial thus avoiding the plethora of TV masts which tends to destroy the appearance of many housing estates. I was glad to note recently that the Government have decided to have a system of communal television aerials throughout the country. This will obviate the ugly array of masts on roofs in housing estates.

This Estimate lends itself to discussion, to a great extent, of matters relating to one's own constituency. I refer to one matter which was brought up in the House a few weeks ago in relation to a development in the Newtown Park area where a concrete firm decided to build a ready mix plant in the middle of a housing area. I am all for factories and the encouragement of them, but I do not think that the place for a ready mix concrete plant is in the heart of a housing area. Dublin County Council have an obligation to the people of the Newtown Park/Blackrock area generally to make some other site available for this plant outside the built-up area. If you take the site as at present proposed, you have on one side of the proposed plant—permission has not yet been given for the building of it; I trust it will not be granted—the Kingstown and Avoca Schools with 450 pupils.

That is just one factor. There is also the question of lorries going up and down Newtown Park frequently. I do not understand the thinking behind this type of development in a housing estate. These people say that they will test in court any decision that is given in relation to their proposal. I cannot understand the thinking behind the setting up of a factory of this nature in the heart of suburbia. The lives of the people who live there are hard enough, with rates and so on, without putting this extra burden on them. It is contrary to the spirit of the Planning Acts that a ready mix concrete factory should be sited on Newtown Park Avenue. It is as if Cement Ltd. were to move from Drogheda to the middle of Foxrock. It is a totally wrong concept. If we relate this to Conservation Year what must the children who attend the nearby school think of it with all this cement dust, air pollution, water pollution and so on which will result from such a factory? I wish those people who intend to pursue this matter would examine their consciences. I wonder if any members of the staff of this company live around there. I doubt it.

I want to refer to unfinished estates. We have an estate in Stillorgan called the Redesdale Estate which has been neglected for 20 years. There are a number of other estates in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown area where the builders, unfortunately for them, left, due to lack of finance and so on. I do not want to go into the history of these unfortunate people. They had a living to make too. However, I would ask the Minister to take a special note of Redesdale Estate where the roadways are very narrow and dangerous from the point of view of children and people cannot park their cars outside their homes.

It is gambling with one's life to try to get across the main Stillorgan-Bray Road at the Stillorgan-Lower Kilmacud Road traffic lights. I have pressed, and I am sure other public representatives have pressed, for a pedestrian crossing just before these lights. I am told it would hold up traffic. Whether it holds up traffic or not, if it saves one life it is worthwhile.

Hear, hear.

Pedestrians press a button and a "wait" sign comes up. Then it changes to "Cross Now" and they have five seconds in which to cross the road, even if there is a group of people there. This is disgraceful.

Has the Deputy ever succeeded in getting one of these pedestrian crossings, because I have not?

I do not understand the thinking behind this. This is just beside the Stillorgan shopping centre and there are housing estates on the other side. I have asked the Garda, who have been most co-operative, to have a look at the situation. This is now being done, but I am not satisfied that the answer is the extension of the time allowed to cross to 20, 30 or 40 seconds. The answer is a pedestrian crossing and, if it holds up traffic, so what? We have had prevarication about this for a number of years and we have been sent from Billy to Jack.

There are a number of landlords in the Dún Laoghaire area who should be ashamed of themselves. I am not talking about the landlord who is in business in a decent way but there are three or four houses, to my knowledge, which contain ten families in each house, each family paying £3 10s and £4 a week rent. They are living in terrible conditions—a family of three or four in one room with a toilet which would not be seen in darkest Africa. These people, who set themselves up as Christians, should examine their consciences. I know that legislation does not exist at present to deal with this, and we cannot advocate legislation on the Estimate, but the Minister might consider tightening up the situation which allows this type of landlord to get away with dealing in human misery.

We heard of Rachmann in London some years ago but we have our own Irish Rachmanns. There are many good landlords who have first-class conditions and give a fair return for the cash they are receiving, but there are a number of exceptions. I could easily name the areas where these people have their houses but I do not know whether it is a good thing to name people who may not be able to defend themselves. There are people there who earn £10 to £14 a week and must pay a rent of £3 or £3 10s to live in these deplorable conditions. Dún Laoghaire has the reputation, rightly, of being a first-class borough, but there is this sort of thing in the midst of happy harmony which makes one stop and think and worry. If this type of landlord is allowed to get away with speculation in human misery here, he might extend his operations elsewhere. If we can contain them within an area and expose them it is all the better for the people whom they are depriving of a decent standard of accommodation.

On the question of Rock Road—an area between Booterstown and Blackrock—there is a demand there for a pedestrian crossing or a crossing of some kind. I noticed Deputy Desmond had a question down about this matter some time ago. It has been suggested that there should be an over-pass there and the Deputy mentioned this but I should like to give the credit to the person to whom it is due, to Councillor Niall O'Keeffe on the Dún Laoghaire Corporation. He has been pressing this matter for quite a number of years and if the over-pass is erected there it will be a tribute to his pertinacity and to nobody else——

Now, now.

Let us be fair about this. We must give credit where credit is due and the Deputy has been making an effort, unsuccessfully, to take credit——

This is a national Parliament.

This day week will tell.

It will tell that Fianna Fáil have 76 seats in Dáil Éireann. The Deputy is doing a lot for the by-election sitting here. I do not know the significance of this day week; I am sure it will hold significance for the Opposition Parties but we shall take it in our stride.

The question of the over-head pass is very important. For a man of, say, 75 years of age who wishes to cross the Rock Road it is most frustrating to have to spend so long in trying to cross the road. There is a real demand for this over-head pass or, alternatively, a pedestrian crossing.

Many cars go at 50 miles an hour.

This is the other side of the coin where the pedestrian crossing might cause harm and, therefore, the obvious answer is either an underpass or an over-pass. The suggestion of the over-pass was originally the idea of Councillor O'Keeffe and he must get credit for it.

That is all I have to say in connection with this very important social document. It is a pity it has been compounded in this form and I should like to make a suggestion for the benefit of the House that the Minister might get out the brief in booklet form. It deals with many matters that touch on our everyday life, it is an up-to-date assessment of the situation and will remain so until this time next year when the Minister brings in another Estimate. For that reason I would ask the Minister, through his Parliamentary Secretary, to get out this document in booklet form for the benefit of students of local government.

May I conclude by thanking the House for its indulgence and thanking the Minister for the many delegations he receives from my own area of Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown and to refute entirely the allegations made by the Deputy from North County Dublin, Deputy Clinton, who suggested the Minister was unavailable and did not meet people. This is totally unrelated to the facts and I consider the allegation reckless. The Minister is no longer in the Deputy's constituency and one fails to understand why he pursues this particular line.

I shall commence by saying that I regret the Minister is not in the House to hear my first few sentences.

No doubt the Minister will get to know what you have to say.

I thank the Parliamentary Secretary. I knew the Minister's father extremely well and he was one of the most courteous men who ever occupied a seat in this House, whether in Opposition or in Government. Not alone was he courteous but he did not use very many words and was loved by the civil servants of the Department of Justice no matter what political views they held, and that is no mean achievement. He was respected by people and I shall content myself by saying that the present Minister does not do himself justice in this House and perhaps he should have another think about the matter.

On the other hand, I should like to compliment Deputy Dr. Garret FitzGerald on his contribution to this debate. It was long—about four hours— but he did refute in a most careful and thoughtful way the pedestrian statistics that were quoted to us. I shall not go over all these statistics to the relief, I am sure, of the Ceann Comhairle and the Parliamentary Secretary also, but by taking thought Deputy FitzGerald showed that the Government has not made any impression on this appalling social problem we have in the city of Dublin.

I cannot take a better area than the Crumlin area. In the 1965 election—in which I did not do so very well—the housing situation was not such a serious problem but today one can see house after house with two families living in it, the parents and their married children. This has burgeoned up and the real reason is that since this present Government came into office no houses have been built on the south side of the Liffey. The last two schemes were excellent and were both built by the second inter-Party Government: the scheme at Nutgrove, Rathfarnham, which was then regarded as a little far out, and the other scheme was the lovely flats behind the Garda Síochána barracks at Rathmines. This was one of my few successful efforts in politics and I owe gratitude to the Parliamentary Secretary for housing in the second inter-Party Government. As soon as I told Deputy Davin that the Corporation had this seven acres of land in their possession for 21 years and had done nothing with it the next day he took out the officials of the corporation to look at the site. The excuse was given that there was no entrance; they bought a house and took it down and there was the entrance. This is a good scheme in the right place where housing was required. Take the scheme at Nutgrove in Rathfarnham and compare it with the major effort by the Government in Ballymun. Ballymun is seven or eight miles from the centre of the city. It is typical of the kind of prestige effort the Fianna Fáil Government make. Prestige, my foot! It cuts across, and very seriously, the rule that there should be no high building close to an airport. Of course, when the Fianna Fáil Government want to throw the rules out the window, they do so with impunity.

Ballymun is only between four and five miles from Dublin city centre.

Is that as the crow files? You know, one cannot get out of Dublin as the crow files.

I may be wrong, but I believe the airport is ten miles from the centre of the city and I have been in and out of the airport often enough. There was one summer in which I was almost like a taxi driver, I made the journey so often. I may be wrong and the Parliamentary Secretary may be right. The rents out in Ballymun and the cost of transport make it utterly impossible from a domiciliary point of view for any man working on the south side of the Liffey. Some people really cannot take accommodation out there if they have to get to work early in the morning anywhere south of the Liffey.

I noticed the Minister—he is quite entitled to do so—had a carefully organised effort on his side of the House; I noticed him signalling to certain Deputies to get up. I have nothing against that. I know it was an effort to defend what he has done. Deputy Andrews said the Minister's speech should be published. All I can say is that it would want to be completely re-written first because the style is utterly pedestrian.

We had Deputy Dowling's long speech. We had Deputy Seán Moore, who went berserk when I called for a House so that somebody might come in and listen to him. I am sorry he is not with us at the moment. We had an interesting speech from Deputy Burke about the quantities of land, acre by acre, bought for housing and he talked about as few as two houses being repaired. We had Deputy Dowling talking about Kilbarrack until my head was ringing with the word. To be frank, I do not know where Kilbarrack is, but I certainly know the name now; if he said it once he said it 20 times. All this was a carefully organised effort by the Minister. I have no objection to it, but it was a very flat-footed effort in defence of what the Minister has done or has not done during the number of years in which he has been Minister for Local Government.

Why have we this problem here? We have heard the official answer. I must say this for the Fianna Fáil Party: when they want to organise something they really do it well. The official answer was that in any city growing the way Dublin is growing there is a major housing problem. This was repeated ad nauseam. I have a simple, straightforward view on this matter. I may be right or I may be wrong, but I believe that this serious social problem in the city of Dublin is due entirely to the “lost years”, as I call them.

No houses were built in this city in 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962 or 1963—six lost years. The position was entirely different when the so-called disastrous inter-Party Government were in office. We built houses by the thousand and, when we went out of office, there were 40,000 corporation houses in the city of Dublin. Of that number 400 were vacant. I heard Deputy Burke say 1,800 were vacant. That was a gross exaggeration. There were 400 vacant houses and, in the main, they were out in Ballyfermot, which was regarded by people living in Rathfarnham, Rathmines or Donnybrook at that time as being very remote. People did not want to go out there. Since they did not want to go that far the Fianna Fáil Government decided to teach them a lesson; Fianna Fáil are great at teaching people lessons. They sent the people out to Ballymun. The people who did not want to go out to Ballyfermot ended up by finding themselves in Ballymun. Mark you, there is a great demand now for houses in Ballyfermot. It is a very different story. My constituency is broadly middle-class but, even so, there are people there by the thousand who want a house in Ballyfermot today. As I say, there were 400 vacant houses out of 40,000 corporation houses. That was 1 per cent. Is it unreasonable to have 1 per cent of houses vacant? I regard it as the kind of minimum store to have on hand.

Deputy FitzGerald is right when he says the Government deliberately decided to transfer capital expenditure from the social side to the economic side. Unfortunately, they transferred too much from the social side to the economic side. I know that the capital transferred was intended to pay for itself, but a great deal of it did not. I notice the Government making a kind of left-footed effort to get back now to housing, SDA housing in particular. The major effort in regard to housing since the last war was the effort made with Marshall Aid moneys, which the Fianna Fáil Party attacked so vociferously. The interest rate was 3¼ per cent and the whole area of middle-class housing running from Clonskeagh to Stillorgan was built with this money. I happened to be an official in the Department of Finance at the time and for a period I was the man who issued the money.

A financial wizard, no doubt.

I remember it well. Half a million at a time to Dublin County Council. I wonder if Dublin County Council has even once got half a million from the present Government for housing. That vast area was covered with excellent houses. The interest repayments are, roughly speaking, about 30/- per week, making about £75 a year, and another £20 perhaps to repay the capital.

I have certain social beliefs and this is the place to express them. There was in this House for many years an excellent Labour Deputy, Deputy James Hickey, many times Lord Mayor of Cork. Time and again he advocated here that money should be made available for housing at one per cent. I am not left with so many positive notions at my age but that is one idea that I support heartily and it is in the Labour Party policy. If we ever get any say in Government we will put that idea into operation. I certainly will not be around if it is not put into operation.

I was thinking.

Let me put it this way: What is the reason for borrowing £25 million, as the Government did a few months ago, from the banks, at 7½ per cent interest? Why did the Government pay the commercial banks in this country 7½ per cent interest for this money when in fact the only cost to the banks arising out of it would be whatever part of it came back as deposits, which would be marginal? I tried to make a calculation as to the cost to the banks—one of these calculations that other people are so fond of making. I arrived at a figure of 2½ per cent. The Government paid them 7½ per cent when the British Government and all the other belligerents fought the last war on money at 7/6d per cent. I have heard many people in both the conservative parties—let me put the two of them together—talk of this idea of James Hickey's as being lunacy and asking how could you do it. All the big belligerents, the Germans, the British, the Americans, fought the last war on money at 7/6d per cent. The man who gets most credit in the English-speaking world is Lord Keynes but, in fact, the originator of it was Dr. Schacht who was Hitler's adviser on monetary matters. I do believe in this and I do believe that there is no trouble in doing it but it makes a big difference in the accounts of the Government and where it really impacts is in the accounts of the Government. It also impacts—and this is the serious angle of it—on the Government's method of looking after the treasury. What about the unfortunate flat dweller in Ballymun who is paying £4 10s to £5 a week in rent and, living in a place that is seven miles from the city, the bus fare into the city is probably 1/6d?

Is he not paying rent related to income?

£20 a week is still a good wage in this city and if he pays £4 15s to £5 a week he is paying one-quarter of his income in rent. This was never regarded as reasonable in this country. This was New York. We have now reached New York standards.

What remedy does the Deputy have?

I am giving you the remedy. Did you not listen to it? Provide the money at one per cent. Why did the Government pay 7½ per cent to the commercial banks for making an entry in their books to provide them with £25 million a few months ago?

If the Deputy is able to do it I will vote for him as Minister for Finance. Is that not fair?

There is not the slightest trouble in doing it. I have told you it was done for thousands of millions of pounds in the last war.

In different circumstances.

What was the difference? I will tell you what the difference was. Some of the money that the British Government raised at 7/6d per cent was used to destroy the city of Dresden. That is what it was used for and that was really its sole contribution — the destruction of the beautiful city of Dresden. We hear this kind of nonsense that you cannot tell the commercial banks to write up an amount in their books.

Let me tell the key story about this. Lord Fisher, who was secretary to the British Treasury, was giving evidence before the McMillan Commission on Money which sat after the war. They asked him to tell them how the war was financed. He said: "Every Friday I went down to the Bank of England and had lunch with them and after lunch I told them how much I wanted". One of the members of the commission said: "And you were never refused?" and Lord Fisher answered, "I was never refused". No Government in this country will ever be refused if they tell the commercial banks here that they want them to write up in their books £10 million, £20 million, £30 million, £50 million, £100 million for housing and will pay them whatever is the rate the money will cost them; that they must make their profits on their ordinary commercial business but that housing is a social service. If the good Lord spares me I will see it in operation in this country yet. I do not mind what has been done in other countries We will see that in operation when the Government here changes.

Let me explain. I am not sticking arithmetically to one per cent. We will pay the commercial banks whatever it will cost them and not one penny more and we will cover their administrative costs as well as whatever little percentage of the money comes back on deposit on which they will have to pay interest. The bulk of it will come back into current account on which they will have to pay no interest.

That would be Santa Claus.

No, it would not be Santa Claus. That would be the way the last war was financed. Why did they not finance the last war the way they financed the 1914 war? It was because they realised that it would make hay of the whole classical, capitalist financial system.

Does the Deputy know the price——

The Deputy will get an opportunity of making a speech. This is very interesting but it is not in order.

It is all right. Deputy Carter and I are old friends.

Would the Deputy tell the House the price of war loan at the present time, what it is worth and the depreciation?

I will tell it to the best of my knowledge. May I just say, if I might make a little joke about it, that it has been going up recently?

From what figure?

We will build a special monument to the honourable Deputy.

I want to give Deputy Burke a few words about his figures. This is serious comment on the figures Deputy Burke produced. He really proved that all the allegations made by the Minister for Local Government about a farm which was bought from a Labour Deputy were false. That is what Deputy Burke proved. His figures showed that land was bought out at Dundrum and various other places by Dublin County Council at £2,200 an acre. That is all Deputy Burke proved. He proved that the Minister for Local Government had made false statements.

Deputy Burke had nothing to do with the argument one way or the other.

The Deputy produced untold figures down to two houses being repaired somewhere or other.

Yes, I did but I did not mention anybody's name. The Deputy is mentioning a person's name now.

I am saying this because the Minister repeated it yesterday. He said that there was a land speculator on these benches. That is why I am saying it. At Question Time yesterday he said it.

And there is.

How many are there on that side of the House? I do not know and I am not interested. Fair is fair. Deputy Burke proved that the Minister for Local Government made false statements. The Minister said time and again that the land that was bought from Deputy Justin Keating was the dearest land that was ever bought by Dublin Corporation. All that Deputy Burke did was to prove that this was absolutely false by his strings of figures showing prices of land, many over £2,000 an acre— not in the middle of the city.

I think the Minister said that it was the dearest in Tallaght.

I do not know. Does the Parliamentary Secretary know whether it was the best land in Tallaght? I am talking from the point of view of housing. He does not know and neither do I. I do not know where it was. I noticed the statement issued by the officials of Dublin Corporation at the time, that it was a prize purchase. That was what the corporation officials said.

Do not say that the Parliamentary Secretary does not know where it is. He knows well where it is.

That is more than I do, to be frank about it.

I will bring the Deputy on a tour of County Dublin some day. Why did you not get that cheap money when you were in office in 1956?

It was a lot cheaper than the money Fianna Fáil are now getting. We got money at 4 per cent. We floated a most successful loan at 4 per cent. On top of that, the Small Dwellings (Acquisition) Act loans were available at the time to purchasers on an economic basis of 5 per cent.

There was not a bob left when you left—not the price of a smoke.

Let us deal with realities. Deputy McGilligan and I——

Now we are getting it.

Let me finish the sentence. We tried hard to persuade the Government to get the premium bonds going. It had been advocated in the Economist but we never succeeded in getting the second inter-Party Government to do it until it had begun in England.

Is that why the Deputy left them? Be honest about it.

Perhaps, I will be back with them again in a different way.

Shall we get back to the Local Government Estimate?

I was speaking about the awful problem that was created because of the fact that the present Government lost six years completely from the point of view of housing. They managed to get a few hundred houses built around Dublin and, I presume, in the rest of the country. I have dealt with the Minister's statement and the various speeches by Deputies but before I finish I should like to say something about housing in this city, and it is the only aspect of it that appeals to me. I want to come back to the social problem in a specific way. I became aware of it only this week.

I want to pay a tribute to the officers of Dublin Corporation because when people with big families get into serious rent arrears the corporation officials who deal with this matter are most helpful and decent in the way they handle them. Of course, unless they are to evict the people, the reason they must behave decently is that in this country there are not proper children's allowances payable. Children's allowances here are only half what they are in England and in England they are only half what they are in France and in Italy. Therefore, we give only quarter of what they do in those EEC countries.

Deal with housing.

A pamphlet "The Common Market and the Common Man" was circulated to Members recently. I am not in favour of going into the Common Market but I agree that it has decent points about it. I know the Minister for Local Government has a good record in attempting to deal with the intinerant situation. When I think of those unfortunate people, my mind always goes back to the occasion when they occupied a field owned by a Protestant firm on the outskirts of Dublin, on the west side. The firm were good enough to leave them there and then Dublin County Council cut off the ordinary water supply from that field. I thought it was one of the most inhuman actions which any public group of people ever were guilty of in this country.

I wish to make a special appeal to the Minister here. He has promised to improve matters for itinerants in the sense that they will be in caravans at least, that they will be reasonably looked after by next winter. In the meantime I appeal to him to deal with an urgent problem. Near Milltown, not in my constituency, at the approach to Columbanus Road there is a wide stretch of virgin land between the road and the Dodder and above the road under the cliff. There was no house there except the publichouse at the corner. There was no house within 100 yards of the itinerants who lived there, yet they were moved and the area has been ploughed up. As I passed there last winter I said to myself that the Minister for Local Government was getting somewhere. As usual when I think something good has happened, I am wrong.

What happened in that instance was that the itinerants were pushed out of the place. They are now out in Walkinstown and above Nutgrove in Rathfarnham, still living in tents, the unfortunate people. I appeal to the Minister and to the Government to get those people who are living in tents, lying on the wet ground during the winter, into some kind of caravans during what is left of this winter.

That is a matter for the local authorities. Should not the local authorities provide some place for them? Are some of them not doing it?

The Minister could detail an officer to look after this problem. The Itinerant Settlement Committee under Dr. Barnes cannot do everything. I must say I never objected to the itinerants and I lived quite close to them until recently. Perhaps, they made life a little awkward for the shopkeepers in Rathgar, which was their nearest ground of action, so to speak. I was appalled when I learned that they had been moved from this place where they had been for generations and where they were not interfering with anybody.

It is only a few weeks since gardaí on night duty saved a family from being burned to death. They were living in a tent which caught fire during the night and they would have been burned to death——

The same thing can happen in a house. It has happened.

Three caravans have been burned during the past six months.

The present Government Party and Dublin Corporation acting under them demolished huge numbers of houses in the city because two small children were killed when a house fell in Holles Street. The court accepted as absolute a certificate from the dangerous buildings committee and there was no appeal. It is, again, the saying "out of sight out of mind": people do not seem to believe there are families still sleeping in ditches on a piece of old linoleum with a four foot tent over them. I have seen them in Columbanus Road.

It is true that there are increasing numbers of caravans. A caravan may not be the finest place to live in, especially the covered wagon type with wheels, but it is far better than sleeping on the ground in the middle of winter. It is a matter for the local authorities but there is a division of function here. Could not the Government buy land for the purpose of resettlement of itinerants? Could the Government not do this directly?

The local authority could do it far better.

They have not done it better.

They have, and much better.

The Deputy is behind the times. He knows nothing about it. His sentiments are like rubbish on the roads. Let him get out of the way before he does any harm.

Surely all those people could be dealt with in a month with very little money, a mere bagatelle.

It shows the knowledge the Deputy has of it.

I know the ultimate aim of the Itinerant Settlement Committee. It is to integrate those unfortunate people into the community. I know that excellent work is being done, but there is no point in waiting until everything is nearly arranged and the sites have been purchased and so on. I ask the Minister for once to cut the red tape.

Surely there must be running water on the site before you put them on it? The site should be serviced anyway.

I agree with the Parliamentary Secretary that they are ideal conditions but here we have a serious problem with young children getting pneumonia and people living in primitive conditions. It is this winter which counts and something should be done to help these people now. If the Minister were to make a radical decision on this matter I believe he would have the full support of this House, certainly he would have the support of the Labour Party.

A few months ago two children were killed by a motor car which ran off the road into one of these sites; two small children were killed because a house fell down in Holles Street; Dublin was made a shell and the city parish population was reduced from 10,000 to something like 1,500 people. Accommodation was built for these people miles away from their work in spite of protests made by Father Tuohy. If the Government had the will to do it they could give these poor wretched members of the community a shelter instead of letting them live in these lay-bys This is a dreadful scandal which calls for immediate attention.

Some months ago I met a family living in a basement in Harold's Cross Road. I wrote to the corporation about the conditions in which they were living and the reply I received was that there were people living in worse congestion than this particular family. I should point out that the family had been offered certain accommodation but for their own reasons they would not take it. When I met them the father, who had a good wage, the mother and two children were living in a basement which was 12 feet by 10 feet at the most. I came across a similar case the other night when I found a woman with four children living in a single room in a corporation house in Crumlin. When the inter-Party Government were in power the minute a second child was born the family were given a house. I do not think it is too bad having a father, mother, one child and a small baby living in one room but I think it is terrible to find a mother and four children living in a single room in a corporation house. Presumably she has lived in this room ever since she was married and presumably no matter how much the family increases they still will not get accommodation.

I agree with Deputy Andrews about the need for walk-overs. Walk-overs are essential on roads such as the one he mentioned in Blackrock. They used to be called pedestrian crossings when they went over railway lines. At every railway station there was one of these crossings and if the railway company were able to provide them I cannot understand why it is impossible to put them over roads, such as St. Helen's Road, Booterstown and the roads in the Blackrock area. The cars travel along these roads at about 40 to 50 miles per hour even though the speed limit is 40. One finds, when trying to cross these roads, that even if a car is 150 yards away in no time at all it is on top of one and the only thing for the pedestrian to do is to jump out of its way.

There is no international swimming pool in this city. The land for such a pool was bought by the old Rathmines Urban District Council, which was abolished nearly 50 years ago. The land was left there in allotments until a few years ago and it has now been made into a car park. The Government said they would build swimming pools in areas like Crumlin and Ballyfermot and not in places like Rathmines, but the Government have not built a single pool. The only thing the Government have done with regard to the provision of a swimming pool was to give a private organisation a sizeable grant—to my recollection it was about £30,000—towards the cost of a swimming pool. In my opinion this was a most improper business.

It was given to a development company and if the Deputy knows anything, he must know that is the only way to do it.

It was not a development company.

What sort of an organisation was it then?

I have answered the Deputy's first interruption but I am going to behave like the Minister for Local Government and not answer any more of his interruptions.

About seven or eight years ago, Dublin Corporation investigated the cost of building these pools. They found it would cost around £300,000 to build proper swimming pools in Rathmines, which is near enough to Crumlin for all practical purposes. When they heard the cost, they decided they could not do it.

Deputy Andrews spoke about pedestrian bridges over roads or underground passes. Certainly, there is one part of Dublin city where there should be underground passes for pedestrians. Deputies know the places in this city to which I am referring. I do not know why it is not done. My remarks apply equally to Cork city.

The Department of Local Government is now almost completely concerned with roads and housing. There are potholes in all the main roads around the city of Dublin, some of them to a depth of six or eight inches. An engineer tells me it is awkward to deal with potholes. Why can some mixture not be dumped into them? The traffic could then roll over the potholes. I should imagine that one lorry of tarmacadam and a couple of men should be able to deal with this whole problem in Dublin. The late Deputy Thaddeus Lynch of Waterford once asked me if we pay any motor tax in Dublin: at that time, the roads here were even worse than they are now. Fianna Fáil built roads—tourist roads around the coast. I cannot but wonder if the Mercedes cars are extremely well sprung.

I travel most of the time in my constituency in my own car.

The Parliamentary Secretary has to get in and out of Dublin. Has he ever noticed the potholes?

I have yet to see them.

Then the Mercedes cars are extremely well sprung. Whenever I hit one of them at 30 miles an hour I nearly go up in the air. They are all over the place—the road to Collinstown Airport, Donnybrook, the Bray Road——

My business is in Áras Mhic Dhíarmada and not on the Bray Road. I try to look after my business and after my Department.

In view of the intensity of traffic on the Bray Road, there ought not to be potholes every 100 yards. I was down Holles Street the other day and there is a series of potholes there, too. When the second inter-Party Government came into office, our county roads were in a deplorable condition because Fianna Fáil had engaged in building main roads. We transferred large sums of money towards the county roads from Monaghan down through the middle of Ireland so that, when we left office, there were excellent county roads even if Fianna Fáil allege there was no money.

Is cúis áthais dom go bhfuil suim mhór ag an Rúnaí Parlaiminte sa Mheastachán seo. Tá a fhios agam go bhfuil sé ina chónaí sa Ghaeltacht agus tá súil agam go dtiocfaidh an lá, sar i bhfad, nuair a thabharfaidh an tAire airgead ar leith do na comhairlí contae le caitheamh sa Ghaeltacht—i nDún na nGall, i nGaillimh, sa Chlár, i gCiarraí, i bPort Láirge agus i gCorcaigh. Tá paróistí éagsúla anseo agus ansúd sa Ghaeltacht gan seirbhísí uisce agus séarachta.

Tá a fhios againn go léir go bhfuil an Ghaeltacht ag laghdú. Tá na figiúirí agam agus tabharfaidh mé iad don Rúnaí Parlaiminte le linn na díospóireachta ar an Meastachán le h-aghaidh Roinn na Gaeltachta. Chuirfeadh na figiúirí sin eagla ar dhuine. Bíodh sin mar atá, is ar sheirbhísí uisce agus seárachta sa Ghaeltacht atá mé ag smaoineamh faoi láthair. Is ait le daoine i bparóistí áirithe a fheiscint go bhfuil na seirbhísí sin le fáil i bparóistí eile. Dá bhrí sin, iarraim ar an Aire Rialtais Áitiúil airgead a chur ar fáil chun seirbhísí uisce agus séarachta a sholáthár do gach paróiste sa nGhaeltacht. Iarraim ar an Aire, freisin, impí ar Aire na Gaeltachta níos mó airgid a chur ar fáil chun tithe nua a thógáil.

It is very refreshing to hear the Minister saying in his opening remarks that he has a special interest in the Gaeltacht. My appeal here this morning is that the Minister would use the powers he has to make money available to the different councils in Donegal, Galway, Mayo, Kerry, Cork and the small part of Waterford where there is still a Gaeltacht, to enable them to continue water and sewerage schemes that have already been started. Undoubtedly, the Gaeltachtaí in some areas are getting smaller, and everything possible should be done to make life more pleasant for the people still in the Gaeltacht. Some parishes, I am glad to say, have water and sewerage but other parishes in between seem to be out on a limb.

I was glad also to hear that the Minister had increased the housing grant, but it is a pity he did not give more money. One hundred pounds, £50 from the local authority and £50 from the Minister, is not much of an increase, especially with building costs, the cost of labour and the initial cost of the site; one must pay at least £600 for a decent site now.

It is hard to understand why the Minister did not increase the reconstruction grant. Reconstruction can sometimes be dearer than new building. When the work starts, if it is by contract, the contractor says extra work has to be done, then there is another extra, and before the job is finished the reconstruction costs between £400 and £500. I would appeal strongly to the Minister to increase the reconstruction grant.

Being a member of a local authority for nearly 10 years, I find the delays in the building of rural labourers' cottages very frustrating. The engineers go out and inspect the site. The site is passed by the council and then it must go to the Department. Then an engineer must go down and look at it and report back to the Department. The project must then be sent to the Land Registry and there is usually a period of nine or ten months before that site can be passed for the building of a labourer's cottage. If the Minister had an official on the road he could go along and look at the site when it was passed by the local authority engineer. The Department's engineer should then be able, there and then, to tell the local authority: "You may build on that site now." There seems to be no need for this up-and-down, up-and-down. Maybe there are reasons for it but if the Minister could speed up the process I am sure every member of the local authorities would be grateful to him.

A new abuse has crept in recently in regard to vested cottages. Maybe its not happening all over the country but it is certainly happening in my county. The local authority builds a house for a person and, perhaps, the person decides to vest the cottage, as he is entitled to do under the Act. The next thing, the vested cottage is offered for sale. In one instance a cottage made something like £3,000. I know the council got one-third of the price back, but it is entirely wrong that these vested cottages can be sold especially in the scenic areas of Kerry. The Minister should take a close look at the sale of these vested cottages and ensure that the people who acquire them are on the local authority housing list. It is wrong to have outsiders coming in, people with means who can build their own houses and who possibly would have no hope of getting planning permission to build a house in such a place. I know the Minister wants to see the right people housed, and the council should have the power to take back those cottages and put people who are in need of a house into them.

Some time last July a circular was sent from the Department to the different county councils relating to the reclassification of roads into main roads and secondary roads. Every Member is entitled to be parochial in this House now and again: I cannot understand why the main road from Tralee to Dingle was not included in that list. It is not even regarded as a secondary read. I do not know who made out this list, whether the county councils recommended it or whether it was the Minister's own engineers who decided what was to be a main road and what was to be a secondary road. The Tralee-Dingle Road is as important as most roads that were left in and I cannot understand why it was left out. The county engineer has told me he will furnish traffic statistics if required and they will prove beyond doubt that the Tralee-Dingle Road is certainly worthy of being called a secondary road.

Various speakers have referred to the rural improvements scheme. I suppose we cannot complain in Kerry, because we got extra money, but I am sure many speakers will agree with me that if we dropped two miles of main road improvements in every county and allocated the money to rural improvements schemes it would be well worth while. People living in boreens and lanes cannot understand why thousands of pounds—about £40,000 in my own county—can be spent on main roads while they must travel through the gutter and over stones, humps and hollows for three-quarters of a mile. No local authority member can convince them that this is right.

In Kerry we have at least 500 roads on the waiting list for rural improvements schemes. We try to do as many as possible but if the Minister allowed some of the main road money to go towards rural improvements schemes for two years, or even one year, it would make a tremendous difference, especially in western counties.

We were told recently that the Minister intends to take over the main roads from the county councils. I should like to know who will then be responsible for the public lighting on these main roads, the Minister's Department or the local authority? These main roads go through small towns and villages and local authorities have always provided public lighting but local officials now say that main roads are no longer their responsibility and they are not required to provide lighting on them. It should be clearly stated who is to be responsible for main road lighting in towns and villages.

There seems to be a complete lack of co-ordination between the ESB, the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and the county councils. A road is repaired and tarred and then the ESB or Posts and Telegraphs come and tear it up. There should be some long-term planning to provide that before the road is repaired all services would be put in, otherwise there is a tremendous waste of money. I ask the Minister to look into that point.

We seem to be in Queer Street as regards planning in Kerry. We have had so many plans that we do not know which is the correct one. We first had the Lichfield plan which was unacceptable to the council. They decided to produce their own plan, the Kerry County plan. Then Bord Fáilte produced a plan and lastly we had the Buchanan plan. It is time the powers-that-be in local government and Bord Fáilte, the councils and their officials came together to work out guidelines and decide on one plan.

At every meeting of Kerry County Council we have about 14 or 15 section 4 cases. Some are justified but it seems hard to understand why section 4 must be invoked to give an individual the right to build a house or develop a housing scheme. If the Minister were to arrange a meeting, as I suggested, I think all parties in Kerry County Council would agree because there is never a vote on these section 4 cases; the members feel that a grievance exists and until we have a final plan that is acceptable to the Custom House and to Kerry County Council we shall have these section 4 cases.

Deputy Murphy from Cork appealed strongly to the Minister about providing compensation to owners who are deprived of the right to sell a house to a man who is prepared to pay a substantial price for it. I agree with Deputy Murphy that some scheme must be introduced to compensate people who are not allowed to sell. In Kerry we believe the city mentality is somewhat biassed against rural districts. City people like to drive out on a Sunday and see green fields and mountains but if they see a house springing up here and there they say: "Look at that monstrosity." Personally I would prefer the sound of children's voices at play to all the mountain scenery in the world. I would rather see people in these areas. The more people we have in the rural districts the better the living everyone will have there. Perhaps, the Minister in the new Planning Bill would cover that aspect and check on the planners in Dublin at present and make sure that at least some of them have a rural background because the city mentality and the rural mentality are entirely different so far as some aspects of planning are concerned.

Group schemes are all the rage now but I do not know whether the Department have met the increased demand for group schemes by increasing the amount of inspectors or advisers. I certainly know that the poor man in Kerry at the moment has an awful life. He is out at 11 and 12 o'clock at night meeting groups in different areas. I do not know whether he has any home life at all. I only met him a few times. I do not know if the same position exists in other counties but it is time that the Minister gave consideration to providing another man for relief work in Kerry.

I do not know if the Minister has the power—if he has, perhaps, he will tell me—to pay the grant where people are in receipt of home assistance or disability benefit or unemployment assistance and are not able to pay the £30, £40 or £50 required. There are group schemes held up because the neighbours are not able to pay the required deposit for these people who cannot pay their own deposit. I have such a scheme in the Kerry Gaeltacht where there are three such families and four others. One could not expect the other four to pay the required deposit for those three. Perhaps the flexibility is there already but if it is not I feel that the four people who are willing to pay should not be deprived of their grant because three others cannot pay through no fault of their own. That scheme is at Ballinahown, Ballydavid, Dingle. The Minister should have the power to say to his inspector: "They cannot pay. We will give them the grant once it has been proved that they have not got the necessary means."

I want to speak about the junctions of county roads and secondary roads. All the money allocated so far is for county roads. I would suggest that the Minister should be adventurous and offer a grant to a landowner where the county road meets the secondary road. He should say: "We will give you £50, or whatever it is, if you will lower that ditch and do it in a certain way." Fatal accidents have occurred and will occur at these junctions because they are completely blind and the cars just shoot out. The driver may only have a provisional licence, perhaps no licence at all, or he may be a good driver. The Minister is an adventurous man and he should introduce such a scheme of grants.

Deputy Begley made a good speech and dealt with a number of problems which arise at local authority level but I want to refer to the speech made this morning by Deputy O'Donovan. In the course of his arguments on housing he stated that money could be borrowed from the banks at the rate of one per cent for housing. He seemed to differ from the Government's current housing policy. He did not agree with the differential rents system. If Deputy O'Donovan looked up the Minister's speech with regard to rents and subsidies he would see that the aid being given at present in relation to local authority rents is running at the rate of £8 million and only for the fact that we have the system of differential rents it could well run to £50 million.

Our total housing expenditure this year will possibly be not lower than £75 million. I should like Deputy O'Donovan, when he is referring to housing matters again, to tell the House what this money borrowed from the bank will cost and how he proposes to bridge the gap between one per cent and 9¼ per cent. He mentioned Dr. Schacht. I think Dr. Schacht was a monetary dictator. He also mentioned J.M. Keynes. Whatever about Keynes as a financier I would not like to relive my life under Dr. Schacht nor would I like Dr. O'Donovan to be obliged to do so. I should like to point out to him that Britain sold a great amount of treasures and impoverished many people to pay for the war and they have paper debts they will never repay. Unfortunate people invested money in war loans and if they were middle-class people today they would be completely broke.

When Deputy O'Donovan refers to the financing of the housing drive the should be more precise and lay down guidelines so that we will not be bankrupt in five years time. We must carry on with housing the people; not merely that, we have to plan ahead for this. When he refers to the differential rent system I should like to remind him that the section dealing with it in the 1966 Housing Act was unanimously passed by the Dáil and it was accepted by all people at central and local level that the differential rent system is the only means we have of maintaining our housing drive. The system is fair: it is rent related to income. We cannot house the poorer people unless we have a system of differential rent and other aids—the other aids being subsidies. I should like to draw the Deputy's attention to the fact that the rent necessary to cover the cost of providing and maintaining a house worth £2,600 is about £4 10s to £4 15s, plus rates.

As a member of a local authority, I know that in other circumstances where some local authorities tried to fix a flat rate renting system they failed and this occurred particularly in areas where the authorities sought to apply those fixed rents in relation to new housing schemes. There were some instances where the proposed rent was £2 to £3 per week, plus rates, and the State subsidy and contributions from the local rates made up the difference. Most of the people we set out to house under the 1966 Act could not be housed were it not for the fact that local authorities undertook to apply the differential rent system.

I did not hear anyone in this House during this debate object to housing those who could not pay any rent at all. When one hears criticism of the housing drive one would like to hear that criticism related to realities and one would expect from a professor of economics some realism on this question. We can all appreciate in a housing drive whereby we hope to build 14,000 houses in the current financial year that there will be mistakes and omissions but one would like that any criticism made related to the realities of the present situation, to the realities of whatever scheme might be in progress, and to the financing of such a scheme. We assert that the differential rent system is the only system by which we can achieve our aim. We further assert that we can only do this by an equitable distribution of State and local authority funds.

I shall deal with a few more points on this question because I was appalled to discover that economists could be so far out and so dismal on this subject. I shall go further and say that differential rents are a form of insurance. The points to note here are, first of all, if the tenant falls sick or his income goes down, the rent automatically decreases. As I said to Deputy O'Donovan, talking on this matter in terms of anguish or sympathy is like so much rubbish on the road.

It is time we got away from this sentimental attitude with nothing concrete to back it up. We have faced realities at local authority level. We are living with this problem. Since the reorientation of the housing drive as a result of the 1966 Housing Act, to which Deputy FitzGerald did not refer in the course of his tour and a half hour speech, certain steps have been taken and it is our hope ultimately to house all those people who are not able to house themselves.

I would also point out—my figures may be a bit out of plumb here, but I do not think they are much out of plumb; certainly they are not as much at odds with reality as Deputy O'Donovan's were—that the State subsidy for new houses built by local authorities is the equivalent of a capital grant of roughly £1,100 and, if one adds on the local authority grant, one has another £400 to £600. Taking into account the fact that our national income per head of the population is not all that high this is a fairish effort. It is not a burst or boom policy. We hope in the foreseeable future to house all our people. Most local authorities have, I think, adopted this scheme. In Longford we have fixed maximum and minimum rents for each type of house. We have set out the terms and no tenant will be asked to pay more than the maximum rent but every tenant must be prepared to pay at least a minimum rent. Those who can pay no rent have been disregarded. We have set out the terms in relation to changes in income.

As I said earlier, this is an insurance scheme. The system is a very fair one. One must have regard to the balance of advantages and disadvantages and to the fact that housing schemes today must be built to certain standards and the tenants of these houses are expected to conform to certain standards. In those things that we disregarded we did not take into account scholarships awarded from any source, children's allowances, allowances in respect of boarded out children, old age pensions, blind pensions, disabled persons' maintenance allowances or home assistance. In that way we worked out a scheme which we believe will be acceptable to all tenants. We grouped the tenants and we revised the rents. We took every factor— humanitarian, social and economic— into account. When Deputy O'Donovan talks about differential rents and borrowing cheap money, I will be out with him to the bank as soon as the House adjourns because, if he can borrow cheap money, then he is the best man I know.

The next matter with which I wish to deal is related to roads, housing and other services. Before I go on to housing in general, I want to mention this matter while it is fresh in my memory and to relate my experience as a Member of this House and as a member of a local authority. I have read some reports about a proposed industrial campus here in Dublin. I think the Port and Docks Board have in mind the development of a site somewhere at the North Wall. Now the road system around Dublin is poor. The network of approaches from the north-west and west into Dublin is bad. The approach from Kilcock to Dublin is bad and crowded and the road is crooked. I can come from Longford town to Kilcock in the same time as I would travel from Kilcock into Dublin. That is one example. There are other roads which need realignment and some of which need remaking.

The road system in the scheduled regions is better because the local authorities there availed of the road grants and invested the money when materials and other elements in road-making were cheaper than they are now. The result is that there is a fairly good network of roads outside the immediate Dublin area.

If, in fact, an industrial campus is indicated for this area of the city around the North Wall, where will the line run? Will the traffic come through the heart of Dublin and will the existing network of roads that are now choked at peak periods be asked to carry this traffic and, if this development is proceeded with, what effect will it have on regional development?

Our aim was to industrialise on a regional basis in the knowledge that Dublin has grown at a rapid rate in the last number of years. Further development of Dublin would have the effect of increasing the growth rate in the environment of Dublin which, in turn, would have a depressing effect on regional development and a melancholy effect on the roads around Dublin, especially those in the centre of the city. It is manifest that at this stage there is no road network around Dublin that has been prepared for development of this sort on the west of the city, in regard to which the Wright Report went into some detail. In my view it would be bad planning to propose development which would have the effect of bringing traffic in and out of that complex through the heart of the city.

There are elements in this question other than communications. But in any development of this sort communications are of prime importance. The most important element would be good road works. I want to re-state a few points. What effect would a project of this sort have on regional development and is it feasible in the circumstances in so congested a part of the city? Our policy is aimed at countering the excessive growth of Dublin, not in trying to promote it and, as I have said, as far as possible, directed towards regional development. I should like to hear the Minister's comment on the proposition because I would not think that at the present time it would find general favour.

I come back now to some matters regarding the housing drive that we have. I listened to most of the speeches that were made on this Supplementary Estimate. I did not hear any great criticism as to the aim of the housing drive. I did hear Deputy Dr. FitzGerald finding fault with the rate of development and as to the amount of money allocated to this development. Here again, when dealing with this matter, he kept far away from realities and every time he came up against a naked fact he steered his way around it.

Tell us about the lost years.

I will, as the Deputy asks me, but not just for a moment. The Deputy is drawing me off the point I was about to make. I will tell him about the lost years. I have not the least hesitation in doing so. I have plenty of ammunition, if the Deputy wants me to use it. He more or less stated that our efforts in promoting private housing was a system of torture for some people and that our emphasis on private housing was in the wrong direction, that we should change from that system and house our people through the local authorities.

He did no say that.

Indeed he did. I am not misrepresenting him.

That is not true.

It is true. The Deputy was not in the House.

I read the reports.

The Deputy did not. Do not make assertions.

I was in the House.

So was I.

The Deputy is misrepresenting Deputy FitzGerald.

I am not making a serious allegation against the dear doctor. I am pointing out what the Deputy said.

I quoted what he said. I am pointing out that Dr. FitzGerald——

Deputy FitzGerald. The Deputy should not be personal.

He was very preoccupied with all the reports. I notice that most Deputies without practical experience or membership of local authorities are preoccupied with reports. The Deputy, in the course of a few seconds, cited the Lichfield Report, the Devlin Report, the Maud Report, the Wright Report—you would want a creel to cart them all into the House. Those of us who have been in this House and who have been members of local authorities for some time know about planning, we know about regionalisation and we do not swallow, undigested, reports by any of the people mentioned. We do not take such reports at their face value because Deputies—I include Deputies of all parties—who are also members of local authorities have grown up with this system. They know the difficulties attached to house planning or to other matters. Because of this, we prefer to be able to build castles on the ground rather than in the air, although it is much easier to build a castle in the air. In relation to our national income, to our gross national product——

They are not the same, you know.

I know, but there is some relationship.

There is but it varies.

In relation to both items mentioned we are, on the social side, in our circumstances doing as much as any other Government in any other country.

Not true as regards housing.

I am talking about the social side, which includes housing. I have demonstrated, and I think the House agrees, that there are certain ways which we have laid down by which we can achieve the figures we hope for in housing, but we can achieve these figures only by realistic financing. I do not want to rehash the entire statement I made——

Sorry I was not here.

It would not have made any difference because at the start of the Deputy's speech he was at odds with reality when he said that money could be borrowed or brought from the banks at 1 per cent and that the Government should step in and make up the difference.

I would not buy it from them. It is not their money.

It is the people's, which is the same thing.

I refuse to talk to the banks about selling other people's money.

I do not want to fight with the Deputy. He is not a member of a local authority and he does not know the pitfalls that beset members of local authorities. The House may think that is a cynical thing to say but I find that in local authorities members of all parties get down together to get the work done. We work within our resources. We have to because except for Government subsidies we have not got anything. We cannot get credit. In the past two or three years we have made relatively good progress.

I did not suggest that local authorities had the slightest thing to do with this matter.

The Deputy was talking about finance for housing in general and I referred to Deputy FitzGerald's speech in this respect. The point I wish to make is that, if we want to be able to carry on with our social programme on a wide front, if we want to be able to spend £50 million or £60 million on education, the same on health, if you take local authority and Government spending, if we want to be able to carry on the social welfare side of our programme, then 14,000 or 15,000 houses, as projected, do not constitute a bad effort having regard to the number of houses reconstructed and the numbers repaired.

In my local authority at the moment, under the 1966 Housing Act we are paying subsidies for houses on which we get no return at all and against which we have to borrow in the short term. We set out to do this because otherwise the people who live in those houses would never have been able to take advantage of the subsidy which we operate through the Department. The local authority has to pay the full price for reconstructing those houses and it has to borrow the money to do so. The aim of the 1966 Housing Act— and I did not hear this mentioned by either Deputy FitzGerald or Deputy O'Donovan—was to house people who could not afford to pay rent at all.

You will not carry it far at 9 per cent. Castle in the air.

It is not castles in the air.

That is the Deputy's own phrase.

When I was talking about castles in the air I was speaking about the Deputy's own speech.

I thought the Deputy was speaking about Deputy FitzGerald's speech.

It is hard to know who is worst, they are well matched. I do not know if Deputy O'Donovan is as ignorant about housing as Deputy FitzGerald is, I shall have to read his speech, but I do not think it would be possible for Deputy O'Donovan to be as ignorant as Deputy FitzGerald about housing.

We have done as much as any Government in similar circumstances would be able to do to try to solve this problem. Fifty years ago housing in this country was very bad. Some rural houses were 150 years old and but for emigrants' remittances from America a number of houses would not be there at all. I am not trying to win favour for the Government but merely saying that they have made every effort to deal with the problem by undertaking huge programmes of housing and house replacement.

A factor against housing in rural areas was—and I hope I am correct in using the past tense—the isolation of the houses and the difficulty of obtaining power and water supplies The present Minister for Local Government, as far as I remember, is the most active Minister in the field of water and sewerage. While he is direct, at least one knows where one stands with him. Where the local authority lays the headworks for a group water supply scheme, secretarial help and an engineer to help with the drawing up of the plans should be provided. Deputy Begley, in the course of quite a good speech, mentioned certain weaknesses in the scheme which should be straightened out. One of the main weaknesses is the lack of preliminary work due to a lack of secretarial help and engineering advice. I do not think the provision of such outside help would interfere with the Minister's overall controlling interest in the scheme. It is going to require a huge effort to pipe water to every house because of the distances of some houses from the main arteries. The best aid towards achieving this result is visual: where one group sees a neighbouring group developing a scheme the other group immediately wants the same standards.

Planning is a very desirable activity of mankind. Very often the men who think up schemes end up being smothered in a mountain of paper work and I am afraid this is going to happen in the case of our present planning system. The number of run-of-the-mill objections to planning schemes adopted by local authorities is between 75 per cent to 80 per cent of the total number. I should also think that this number will smother the headquarters of the planning section in the Custom House. The present delays may be unavoidable from the point of view of the Custom House but, in some instances, delays are costing money. Unfortunately, costs will not stand still. The Minister should consider an alteration in the Planning Act so that a number of objections may be dealt with on the ground. He has his chief planning officer in each county who is the county engineer. I shall not say who should compose any such local board. The Minister will be issuing a White Paper later on regionalisation. He has built up the necessary experience to make a change, if one is called for. In my view, a change is called for because of delay in dealing with applications.

By and large, I think it will be agreed that housing estates fulfil a very useful function. Building societies started off as co-operatives. There is a high degree of mutuality in a building society. They started off as savings societies—a very desirable aim. They collected money from savers who did not want a house and they gave it to others who wanted a house. They are not earning a very big profit. They have to win investors by competing in the payment of dividends against industry and against other agencies. I should be glad, in the whole context of housing, if the Minister, in discussion with the building societies—at any rate, the Dublin building societies—would investigate the pooling of resources for the creation of a housing estate. Whether or not such a proposition would be received favourably by the building societies, I cannot say.

In general, housing societies might have something to contribute by the creation of a housing estate. We are doing all we can, as local authorities, in the building of houses but we have not always the time or maybe the resources to create what might be deemed a pleasing housing estate. Within the framework of the Minister's aim to keep down costs, I should think that the housing societies—as a consortium or otherwise—might be invited to consider the creation of a housing estate.

Last week, or the week before that, I saw a plan of a proposed housing estate in Rathfarnham. On paper, it seemed to have very pleasing aspects. We talk a lot nowadays about planning, layout, and so on. It would be well if building societies were permitted to undertake some such scheme. It might be more effective than all the literature we could issue on planning because visual aid is a great incentive. Such societies might bring a new concept to the general housing programme. Some of our housing schemes seem rather dull and are insufficiently relieved by amenities such as playgrounds, and so on. It might be worthwhile encouraging housing societies to give a demonstration in this direction.

I do not wish to detain the House now. I had intended dealing with planning and conservation in general, but most of what I might say will no doubt be dealt with in the general course of the debate. The Minister has started the greatest housing drive ever in this country. There are bound to be complaints. When one is working at such pressure on a housing drive such as that at present being undertaken, there are bound to be complaints about planning, water and sewerage schemes, grants, and so on. In the Custom House, I have always received a firm response and courtesy. I am grateful the Minister is firm in his decisions: one always likes to know where one stands as regards a proposition.

I intend to deal mainly with a few problems affecting the constituency which I have the honour to represent. We have a serious housing situation in County Monaghan, where a number of people are living in very undesirable housing conditions. A number of schemes have been submitted to the Department of Local Government for approval. Some of those schemes have been submitted for a very long time but the approval has not so far been forthcoming. We recently had two schemes sanctioned in Glaslough and Smithborough which were on the books for a very long time. Those two villages were seriously in need of housing. The scheme in the village of Smithborough has never been tackled seriously. The announcement of the sanctioning of those loans and plans was made under very peculiar circumstances. An announcement was made in the local press by the Tánaiste that the plans had been sanctioned. It was only when at a subsequent county council meeting, a councillor from the Glaslough area queried when the scheme was due to start that the county engineer explained the housing loan had not been sanctioned. I am happy to say that, for one reason or another, the Minister did see fit to sanction that loan and we hope the building will commence in due course.

There is another village, Scotshouse, a border village, situated right on the county boundary along the border. A scheme for this village was submitted to the Department for sanction some considerable time ago but so far it has not been satisfactorily finalised. Emyvale is another border village for which a scheme has been with the Department of Local Government for a very long time. Neither the loans nor the plans have so far been sanctioned for that scheme.

In one of the larger towns of the county, Carrickmacross, a scheme known as the Cloughvalley housing scheme, has been going back and forth to the Department of Local Government for the past three or four years but still there is no hope that the building of those houses will be commenced in the very near future. We have also with the Department plans for the erection of 34 houses in Ballybay and for the erection of 14 of what are called farmhouses. Those are houses which will be built throughout the country for people in condemned houses who live on farms. Those people are on the waiting list for over two years and are forced to live in these condemned houses. So far we have not received any concrete proposals as to when the plans or loans will be sanctioned. The delay in sanctioning those plans and loans to which I have just referred means that in County Monaghan there are many people living in chaotic conditions.

There is one particular house I have in mind which has a thatched roof. The county council, in order to preserve the roof until such time as those farmhouse loans are sanctioned, covered the roof with plastic and on top of that put wire netting to keep the plastic from blowing away. Needless to say, the plastic became holed and the condition of that roof is nothing better than a riddle. Still the Minister has not sanctioned the plans and those people are compelled to live in those circumstances.

We have in many of the towns in County Monaghan people living in very undesirable dwellings. We have people in Ballybay who urgently require houses. Many of them are living in houses which have been condemned. They have been told by the medical doctor that many of the ailments from which they suffer are due to the condition of the houses in which they are forced to live. I believe this is a situation which merits attention. I would request the Minister to deal with it immediately.

I was rather amused yesterday to hear one Deputy criticise the building policy of the inter-Party Government. He mentioned the imbalance between the number of houses built and the population. He stated the reason for the abundance of houses at that time was emigration and the low population rate. I can inform that Deputy that the 1956 census showed County Monaghan had a population of 52,064 people and the 1966 census showed the population was down to 45,732. Four years later still we have a housing situation which can best be described as chaotic.

I was pleased to hear one of the Government speakers state this morning that some of the houses and flats which existed in his constituency would only be seen in darkest Africa. I support what he says and I can tell him that I could bring him to many of those condemned farmhouses and a similar situation would only be seen in darkest Africa. I have had representations from a husband and wife with ten children. They want the council to build a house for them. They are living in a two-room condemned house without water or sewerage. A case like that merits very urgent consideration. We have the Cloughvalley housing scheme in Carrickmacross which has been delayed for three or four years. There is no prospect in the immediate future of the county council commencing building there. The plans which were submitted two to three years ago have been sent back and forth between the council and the Department. The net result of the delay is that scores of unfortunate people are forced to live either in flats or condemned dwellings.

I understand the National Building Agency is at present considering plans for the erection of 100 houses in Cloughvalley. The previous tenders submitted by private building contractors were rejected on the grounds that they were too expensive. This has resulted in the National Building Agency being called in. Carrickmacross is a town with an increasing population. It is a town which needs houses pretty quickly. There are houses there which were condemned years ago. It was proposed to demolish them but there is an obstacle to this. The people who live in those houses have no alternative accommodation. It is of vital importance that the new housing scheme at Cloughvalley be finalised and proceeded with in the immediate future.

The last speaker referred to the provision of houses ultimately for all people. No doubt houses will be provided ultimately for all people but for the many old people, especially in rural areas, the only comfort they can have is the comfort of a decent house. It is regrettable that in this day and age we cannot afford them the comfort of a decent house of their own. I would ask the Minister to review the housing schemes to which I have referred and to do everything in his power to allow the council to proceed with the building of the houses in these schemes in the immediate future.

We have also in the county a number of proposals for water schemes. One of the best-known is the Killineale water scheme. This is a scheme which was supposed to serve the Killineale houses between Monaghan and Glaslough. This scheme was submitted to the Department a long time ago. Four months ago I asked the Minister if he was prepared to sanction the scheme or whether arrangements to have it sanctioned had been completed. The Minister promised me he would make a statement on the matter very shortly but no statement has since been issued by the Minister. The people in this area are compelled to carry water a long distance. They are compelled to use water from a pond at the foot of an adjoining field. I saw the water which these people were drawing from the pond. If the Minister realises the importance of these schemes and if he saw the conditions under which the people live he would have no hesitation in sanctioning the water schemes.

There is another village in the county known as Drum village. It is a fairly sizable village situated on top of a steep hill. There is a great water problem there and proposals for a water scheme have been submitted to the Department. I hope the Minister and his officials will deal speedily with it. There are two or three other housing schemes at Coolreagh and Corrinshigo where houses have been built by the county council. There are no water of sewerage facilities provided for any of these houses. Nowadays where a group of houses are situated in close proximity to each other adequate water and sewerage facilities should be provided. The Monaghan County Council had proposals for a regional water supply scheme. This scheme covered the south of the county. It would have supplied Carrickmacross and south Monaghan to Inniskeen. The county council approved the scheme in so far as they were concerned. I understand the scheme has been delayed by the Minister or the Department for the moment.

The water situation in Carrickmacross town is very serious. Many people would buy sites there and build their own houses but they are prevented from doing so because the water supply is not sufficient to provide proper facilities for the houses they would like to build. There are also many people on the waiting list for county council houses in this area who would build their own houses were it not for the same reason. Unfortunately the pumps and the well are not capable of supplying any extra water. Due to the nature of the soil in this limestone area it is impossible for any private person to sink a well which would provide a proper supply. The Department have authorised the county council to bore a further well to service the town. I hope this proposal is not delayed for too long and that it will not cause a delay on the Loughnagergiman scheme. If towns and villages are to develop they must have an ample water supply. At least one factory in Carrickmacross was forced at great cost to procure an alternative water supply. The county council could not offer a supply and if the management of the factory had been unable to find an alternative supply, they would have been forced to leave the area. The regional scheme in a countryside such as south Monaghan which has so much limestone rock would be of great benefit not only to people living in the town but to villages like Inniskeen as well as to the farming community. It is only within the past couple of months that some people in south Monaghan have been exploring the possibility of extending the water supply from the village of Inniskeen to the Essexfort and Coolreagh houses. However, on investigation the county manager had to inform them that the supply already available in Inniskeen would not be sufficient to serve Essexfort or Coolreagh. The investigation of such schemes is only a waste of time for the people of the area. It would be better if the Department would tell them whether or not they can be provided with a scheme.

In an area such as the one I have mentioned it is impossible for many private individuals to secure a private supply or a sufficient supply. I would request the Minister to reconsider his views of the regional water supply scheme in that area.

On the question of housing grants I consider it to be ridiculous when assessing means that the house valuation is included. In many cases, especially in rural areas, the house valuation can be quite substantial. In some cases when a person gets an allocation of land from the Land Commission there is a house and farmyard of what was once a very substantial holding and if the house valuation in such a case is taken into consideration, irrespective of the amount of land or the ability of the person to earn a living, he is prohibited from securing the maximum grant for either new buildings or repair work.

It is my belief that repair grants should be substantially increased. The Taoiseach recently told us what the £ is worth now as against ten or 15 years ago and if repair grants are to be taken on that basis a substantial increase is not only desirable but very necessary.

The Minister was asked recently in the House by way of question what was the latest figure of total indebtedness of the Department of Local Government to local authorities and in his reply the Minister said that he had given the position on 31st March, 1969, and, again, on 11th November last. The Minister should tell us what is the total indebtedness of his Department to local authorities. If he fails to do so we will assume that the indebtedness has grown considerably since he stated the position in November last.

Reference was made to the maximum amount a person may receive by way of grants but anybody who has had any dealings with the public on this matter knows that the number of people whose valuations would qualify them for a maximum grant is very limited. As I have said, house valuation should not be taken, into account when assessing a person's entitlement to a grant. I admit that there are cases in which the house forms the main portion of a farmer's income. Perhaps a scheme of that nature would be open to abuse but some means could be found whereby it would not be open to such abuse. Certainly in the case of a small farmer it is unfair to include his dwelling-house and out-offices.

Hear, hear.

Quite a lot was said on the matter of roads by the last speaker. Grants towards the maintenance and construction of roads should be increased. The Minister should signify his intention to each county council of the amount he proposes to allocate to them before they present their estimates. Last year Monaghan County Council had to adjourn their estimates meeting on two occasions pending the Minister's decision and at the third meeting, the final one, they could hold, the Minister's decision was still not forthcoming although the officials had written to the Minister and had telephoned the Department. However, there was one interesting point in connection with that meeting and that was that a Fianna Fáil Senator was able to inform the county council that he knew the amount of the grant and, when further questioned, he revealed that he had been in touch with the Department that morning and had been told the exact amount.

I believe in that instance the Minister was, to put it very mildly, casting a slur on the county council. He was casting a slur on the county council in general and on the officials and the elected representatives of that body. The Minister should signify his intention to the county council to deal with them in a business-like manner. It was not unreasonable to request that information from him or his Department and he was most unreasonable in not furnishing them with it. I hope when the time comes this year, if similar information is sought, it will be forthcoming through the proper channels and not through any backdoor or through any announcement made by party colleagues.

Mention has been made of pedestrian crossings. This is a problem which could be tackled without any great hardship to anyone. One satisfactory solution to the problem would be to build an underground tunnel. Somebody mentioned that they are to be seen in other countries but they are also to be seen in parts of this country and they operate very effectively.

With regard to the rural improvement scheme which has been taken over by the county councils, Monaghan is one of the unfortunate counties in so far as the council receive a figure in the region of only £7,000 each year with which to carry out this work. This is a very necessary scheme and I appeal to the Minister, if at all possible, to increase that amount from £7,000 to any figure. A substantial increase would be appreciated. If the Minister realised the hardship which is imposed on many people, especially in the rural areas, people who are forced to live at the end of long laneways, he would have no hesitation in increasing that grant if it at all possible.

I have in mind a number of people who are substantial ratepayers and are forced to live at the end of long narrow laneways. With an allocation of £7,000 the county council are not in a position to carry out reconstruction schemes in these areas. These people are substantial taxpayers and ratepayers and they are living at the end of narrow lanes. They are unable to bring in tractor machinery for very important purposes especially at harvest time. I have in mind one particular case where a combine harvester has to be brought across fields with the permission of the owners to get it up to the people who live at the end of a long lane.

There is a another problem in relation to people who live in laneways or boreens used by more than one or two people. One often finds that some people living in these long lanes are forced to bear the expense of reconstruction because many of the other people who use the lane have access to property down that right-of-way but they do not live there and for that reason they do not contribute towards repairs. In cases where people cannot contribute, through no fault of their own, the amount required the Department of Local Government should come to their assistance. It is unjust and unfair, to put it very mildly, that in this day and age people should be forced to live perhaps a mile or a mile and a half down a long narrow lane and have to pay the exact same rates as people who live convenient to a main road.

The Minister should do everything in his power to ensure that in relation to people in rural Ireland who are forced through no fault of their own to live in backward areas, the roadways and rights-of-way to their places of residence are brought up to a proper standard so that they can bring in any type of machinery they wish to bring in, machinery which is so vital especially at harvest time to save their crops. The Minister should increase substantially the amount paid for these schemes so that the county councils can carry out the work speedily and effectively.

There is also the problem of drains. It is much the same as the problem of the lanes. This is not peculiar to one county. I think it is common to all counties. There are many people who have small rivers flowing through their land. Some of them flow for long distances. It might be possible to clean them effectively if the money were forthcoming. Money spent on the cleaning of small rivers is money well spent because, in many cases, it opens up to farm land which was hitherto useless. In many cases it could relieve the situation of a small farmer paying a considerable amount every year for conacre. A real and genuine effort should be made to alleviate the hardships which exist in many parts of rural Ireland, hardships which exist by virtue of the fact that people are forced to live a long way from a public road or else they have a small river flooding much of their land.

The Minister should make a genuine effort to increase the allocation to the county councils and especially those county councils whose allocations are very small. It may be said that the allocation is based on the amount of money spent in a particular year. I do not believe that answer will suffice for people who are in need of this scheme; neither do I believe it is a fair answer. There were people who made application to participate in that scheme within the period set and they were informed that the scheme was not operating at that time. There are people in my county who have received letters stating that the scheme was not in operation and it is on that that the figure of £7,000 has been based. The Minister should have this figure increased substantially. There are many people whose property would be enhanced; there are many people who are large taxpayers who must live in unsatisfactory conditions.

At this time of year, as every councillor and Deputy knows, we have the old problem of rates. It is time the rating system was revised. In County Monaghan—and this is common to other counties—the worst land in the county has the highest value. This situation arises because, when the valuations were carried out, the worst land was then used for the growing of flax. With that industry being wiped out, that land in many cases is useless, and yet that type of land sometimes carries the highest valuation in the county.

Main road expenditure should not be imposed on rates. Again it is very unfair to compel a small farmer who has a large house valuation to pay rates on buildings which are useless to him. There are also many people living in small towns and indeed in large towns who have big premises, perhaps a shop in a large building, from which they derive very little income. A person paying income tax may complain that the amount is too high but it is related to his income. The payment of rates is not in any way related to income. There are many people in every county who own small tracts of land with a large house valuation. Some years ago it was the policy of the Land Commission to allocate small tracts of land, and even the present day holding, which is supposed to be viable, sometimes cannot support the buildings on that holding. A farmer is allocated a portion of land from the Land Commission and on that land stands an old residence and farm buildings which might have been intended for a 1,000-acre farm. That unfortunate farmer must either demolish the buildings or pay the tax on them.

Valuations are not the responsibility of the Minister, and a change of valuation would require legislation.

Rates are paid on valuations.

As the Minister has no responsibility for that, the Deputy may not continue on that line.

I am sorry. In recent months there have been some unfortunate incidents in County Meath which will compel the ratepayers to pay for malicious damage of which they themselves were innocent and in which they took no hand, act or part. I would suggest that the malicious damages claims resulting from recent happenings in Meath should be a national charge. When Nelson Pillar was blown up not so long ago it was considered that the people of Dublin, having had nothing to do with the incident, should not be required to bear the cost. A precedent was created, and the Meath incidents should be paid for on a similar basis. I would sincerely request the Minister to give this matter his urgent and sympathetic consideration.

The Minister, having made progress in relation to many aspects of his Department has still a great deal of work to do. There is an enormous task before the Department in regard to housing, water and roads. I referred previously to housing but there were one or two points I omitted. The imbalance between housing and population at the end of the inter-Party Government has been mentioned. In County Monaghan, while the population has dropped, since 1957 until recently only 24 houses were built. Admittedly, a housing scheme at Scotstown is now in course of completion but until that only 22 or 24 houses were built. The Minister will correct me if I am wrong. Such a situation arose because no serious effort was made about housing in County Monaghan. The Minister should reconsider his views within the finances available to him and sanction housing schemes without further delay.

Housing can be regarded as one of the most vital amenities—necessities would be a more correct description— that should be made available to the people. The Minister should ensure that alternative accommodation be provided imediately for those living in condemned houses. No progress can be regarded as satisfactory when people are compelled to live in houses condemned by the public health authorities. If the Minister is genuine and sincere he will review the housing needs of County Monaghan and will sanction the loan applications and plans that have been a long time in his Department. There is also need for housing in certain areas in other parts of my constituency, in County Louth and County Meath, and I hope the Minister will consider them sympathetically as a matter of urgency.

In conclusion, I hope that in the very near future the Minister will do something positive in regard to the water and sewerage problems of south Monaghan. The town of Carrickmacross urgently needs a booster supply of water and I trust the Minister will give this immediate and careful consideration. I have explained why water is vitally important in that area and, again, I emphasise the importance of the regional water supply scheme in south Monaghan.

I recall coming into this House in 1965 and speaking to the late Deputy Seán Dunne about the problem of housing. He expected on the progress at that period that the Dublin housing waiting list would be considerably reduced in the two-year period thereafter. We are now in 1970 and the housing situation is still extremely serious with little hope or likelihood of housing being provided for a number of people in Dublin. There is no certain information about the number of people requiring houses at present. It is true that the official waiting list numbers about 5,000 people but we know that list does not indicate the full extent of the problem. It does not indicate the number of families in search of decent accommodation in Dublin at present. I suppose this is also true on a national basis and that there are no up-to-date accurate figures for the number requiring houses throughout the country at present. The Minister said, in answer to questions on the subject some weeks ago, that his Department had no comprehensive figures from the local authorities. So, the Department itself does not know the number of people seeking houses at present.

There are many theories about how we should settle the housing problem but there is no denying—and I think the Minister is wasting his own and public time in denying it—that the problem exists. Undoubtedly, the problem exists. It is not something evoked by television—when there was television—or by agitation groups. The problem exists for thousands of young married couples in Dublin and elsewhere in the country and we should be bending our energies towards accepting the gravity of the problem, assessing the figures for the numbers at present seeking houses and seeing what the programme will provide in the next five years, seeing how great the shortfall will be between the demands and the supply and to realising that the people today are rightly more impatient to attain higher standards than were people 10 or 20 years ago.

This explains much of the incomprehension of older people and politicians, especially on the Government side, in looking at the housing problem. They speak of the progress —and Deputy Browne has spoken of it—made in slum clearance in Dublin city. One often hears people say: "Look at the achievements in housing. Great improvements have been made. Why should people complain?" It is part of the whole contemporary spirit that people here and in other countries are no longer prepared to wait indefinitely for things they regard as their birthright.

Common to all people looking for houses today is a demand that at least the possibility of living in decent accommodation should be within their reach. The alarming feature of the present situation is that to so many of them the answer of those from whom they seek advice must be: "There is no hope in the immediate future that you can be housed in decent conditions." One cannot say to the young married couple seeking a house of their own where the husband has £16, £17 or £18 a week that they have the possibility of getting a house of their own. You cannot say that they have the possibility of saving £700 or £800 for a deposit out of their wages and, at the same time, paying £6 or £7 per week for one room while they are waiting. That is the alarming feature of the present situation, that there is no possible hope for many thousands of young people that they can either get decent accommodation under the local authorities or that society itself will provide them with facilities by which their savings can obtain them a house.

I would suggest to the Minister, an energetic man, that he should cease wasting his time on speeches and public utterances denying that a housing problem exists. It undoubtedly does exist and the energies of his Department would be better employed giving some legislative hope to the thousands of young married people around the country that in the near future something can be done about their plight.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.