I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."
'Sé príomh-chuspóir an Bhille ghearr seo ná sraith na n-Achtanna a bhaineann leis an faoiseamh ó rátaí a chuirann an Deontas Talmhaíochta ar fáil a choimeád beo. Íochtar an deontas seo ón Státchiste i dtreo 'so go mbíonn na h-údaráis aitiúla i ndan faoiseamh a thabhairt ó rátaí ar thalamh talmhaíochta. So bhliain seo, 1972-73, íocfar suim thart ar £28 milliún dosna na h-údaráis áitiúla le h-aghaidh an faoiseamh seo a chur ar fáil. Baineann an Bille atá againn anois leis an tréimhse cúig-bliana ó an lú Aibreán, 1970, go dtí an 31 ú Márta, 1975.
Section 2 of the Bill provides for the continued payment of the agricultural grant for the five-year period covered by the Bill, thereby providing for the continuation of the existing primary, supplementary and employment allowances. The primary allowance relieves 100 per cent of the general rate on land holdings the valuation of which does not exceed £20; this allowance effectively derates 77 per cent of all rated holdings of agricultural land. In the case of holdings between £20 and £33 valuation the primary allowance relieves 100 per cent of the rates on the first £20 of the land valuation and the rated occupier is liable for rates on the remainder only. Land holdings with valuations in excess of £33 qualify for a primary allowance of 80 per cent in respect of £20 valuation and a supplementary allowance of 30 per cent on the remainder. The employment allowance is available, in appropriate cases, towards the relief of the net rates payable after deduction of the primary and supplementary allowances on holdings with land valuations over £20.
Section 3 of the Bill contains an adjustment of the conditions relating to the grant of the employment allowance. The purpose of this section is to give legislative effect to the change in the employment allowance which was announced by the Minister for Finance in the 1968 Budget. Up to 1st April, 1968, when the provision came into effect, the employment allowance was not available in respect of a workman who himself was the rated occupier of land with a valuation of £5 or more. The 1968 budget raised this valuation limit from £5 to £15.
The agricultural grant affords relief from the general rate in the £. Following on the raising of the primary allowance to 100 per cent in respect of holdings with valuation under £20, provision was made in section 8 of the Rates on Agricultural Land (Relief) Act, 1967, to enable local authorities to waive the levying and collection of separate charges on such holdings where the amounts would be so small that collection would normally be uneconomic. The provision in the 1967 Act was however related solely to the grounds on which such charges generally arise, that is, in respect of compensation for malicious injuries. It has since come to notice that these small separate charges can arise also in respect of other matters. Section 4 of the Bill provides for the extension of the powers of local authorities to waive these small charges, which it would be uneconomic to collect, irrespective of the grounds on which the expenses arose.
I commend the Bill to the House.