Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Amenity Grants Scheme.

43.

asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state his policy in relation to the operation of the amenity grants scheme.

44.

asked the Minister for Local Government the reason for reducing the annual allocation for amenity grants.

I propose, with your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, to take Questions Nos. 43 and 44 together.

I have not made any change in policy in relation to the amenity grants scheme. I would have liked to develop the scheme further this year but on assuming office I found that the provision for 1973-74 had been affected by a decision taken last year and at the same time I found it necessary to put all the additional funds available to me into the expansion of the housing and sanitary services programme and towards the relief of the rates burden on ratepayers.

The original provision for the schemes last year was £300,000. During the year it was decided to allocate a further £165,000 to the schemes but the Minister for Finance at the time. Deputy Colley made it a condition of his sanction that there would be a corresponding reduction in the budgetary provision for the scheme for 1973-74. I would point out that this sum of £165,000 and the net £240,000 provided in this year's estimate together comes to £405,000, more than a third more than last year's original provision.

No matter what way the Minister tries to twist these figures he comes out in a very poor light. May I ask the Minister whether he is satisfied that he should reduce substantially, by nearly 50 per cent, the amount of money allocated for the provision of playgrounds and amenities of that nature, which the whole community are crying out for? Each local authority are unable to proceed with such schemes because of inadequate funds. The scheme had shown a substantial increase since it was introduced and now the Minister, in his wisdom——

The Chair cannot allow this at Question Time. Deputy Molloy will have to desist from making speeches.

I do not intend to make a speech. It is a great disgrace that this very necessary allocation has been reduced.

The Deputy cannot proceed along those lines.

As it is getting close to four o'clock, and in case Deputy Molloy gets away with it, I should like to point out that the cause of the trouble is that Deputy Colley told him last year when he got an extra £165,000 on top of the original £300,000 which is only £60,000 more than I gave this year, that he would not be allowed to use this money again this year and he must make provision for it out of last year's Estimate. Deputy Molloy is responsible for this and no blustering in this House will change the position.

It is past 4 o'clock.

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply given by the Minister on this serious matter I wish to give notice that I wish to raise this matter on the Adjournment.

The Chair will communicate with the Deputy. The remaining questions will appear on tomorrow's Order Paper.

The Minister for Local Government was allowed on a few occasions to refer, in a somewhat disparaging way, to me. I did not get an opportunity of questioning him on these remarks. Am I permitted to do so now?

It was not a bit disparaging.

The time for questions has expired.

Very well, we will deal with the Minister for Local Government and his arrogant blustering again. We will keep at him and we will teach him a lesson.

What the Deputy could not do during the last 20 years he certainly will not be able to do in half an hour.

I am calling on the Taoiseach for the Order of Business.

We will have to get Liam Nolan in here to ask the questions.