Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Unsurfaced Laneways.

19.

asked the Minister for Local Government if he will introduce grants to local authorities for the purpose of resurfacing or the surfacing of unsurfaced laneways in residential areas with a view to alleviating the present high level of unemployment.

There are no special funds available to me to make specific grants for such a purpose. All the funds available in the Road Fund for grants for work on public roads are fully allocated for this purpose.

Is the Minister aware that during the period of office of a previous Coalition and at a time when we had a similar type of unemployment problem to the one prevailing now, unemployment relief schemes were initiated and grants made available to local authorities to enable them to undertake non-essential work for the purpose of creating work and having desirable work carried out?

Perhaps the areas in which the present unemployment has occurred are different from those in which the problem arose in previous slump periods. Therefore I should imagine that what the Deputy has in mind would not be of the use it was on a previous occasion.

The Minister must be aware that the only reason people are not sitting on O'Connell Bridge on this occasion is because of the pay-related benefit scheme, a scheme that was initiated by the previous Administration?

I would say that Deputy Lemass probably knows a great deal more than I would about what would happen. I take his word for it. The previous Administration passed the legislation but did not operate it. That was the difference.

Would the Minister state whether his Department have considered any way in which to increase employment?

That is a separate question.

A number of ways are under active consideration.

How soon would the Minister say we will have some news in this regard for the many thousands of unemployed and for the many thousands who will be added to the unemployment list?

That is not part of Question No. 19, which relates to unsurfaced laneways in residential areas.

The Minister introduced the subject in his reply.

Arising out of the Minister's reply and in relation to the question of surface works to alleviate unemployment, the Minister said unemployment is now occurring in different areas from those in which it previously occurred. Is the Minister not aware that unemployment is widespread all over the country and surely the initiation of a scheme such as this would relieve some unemployment?

The Deputy knows the Chair's ruling.

I know the Minister is not in touch in his own constituency and probably it does not worry him therefore.

The Deputy obviously did not understand what I said. I am sorry he did not. The type of people laid off now are people employed in the textile and manufacturing industry and if Deputies are suggesting they should be given shovels and sent out to fill in holes on bog roads then I think it is the Opposition Members who are not in touch.

103,000 textile workers—is that what the Minister said? It is the Minister who is out of touch.

Surely the Minister is aware that local authorities are not replacing workers who retire and temporary men are not being taken on because of lack of money. These are the workers we are talking about, the ordinary unemployed labourers.

In every village in the country.

I am surprised at a responsible Deputy like Deputy Callanan making a statement which is not correct. More manual workers were employed during the last summer than for a number of years past. If a Member makes a statement here for goodness sake, would he get his facts straight?

(Interruptions.)

I have allowed a great deal of latitude and the subject matter of the question is being departed from.

I cannot get even temporary employment for people in my constituency.

The Deputy is making a statement.

The statement is not correct. There were more regular council employees employed during the last summer than there had been for a number of years.