Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Select Committee on Finance and General Affairs díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 1 Dec 1993


Amendments Nos. 47, 48 and 49 are related to amendment No. 46 in the name of Deputy Doyle. It is proposed to take amendments Nos. 46 to 49, inclusive, together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 46:

In page 23, subsection (1), line 26, after "dwellings" to insert "(other than those which have been sold or are in the course of being sold)".

We are now at the specific area of perhaps major concern to Dublin Corporation and indeed to others who care about the whole provision of housing and the housing needs of Dublin city in the years ahead. I am proposing, specifically, that only local authority dwellings that are tenanted at present be transferred to the county council within whose functional area they are located. Any houses vested or in the process of being vested should remain with Dublin Corporation.

I also believe that land owned by Dublin Corporation in the new county council areas should remain with Dublin Corporation at least pro tem until, perhaps, the new regional authority or whatever co-ordination procedure is involved in this area has proper time to assess the basis on which Dublin Corporation will provide land and housing to meet the needs of its considerable housing list and transfer applications. Will the Minister detail for the committee the basis on which Dublin Corporation will be compensated on the proposals that exist in the Bill?

I ask the Minister to accept this amendment as there is a case for transferring non-vested local authority houses to the county council of their functional area. Deputy Gilmore spoke earlier on this. There have been difficulties because of the lack of democratic accountability by the tenant in those houses getting adequate access to maintenance of their house. Whether they are more perceived than real I do not know; I am not a member of any local authority in Dublin. However, there is a strong view that because of the lack of interest by members of Dublin Corporation in the tenants of their houses in another functional area, as there is no electoral regard and no democratic accountability, effectively these tenants, who are now in corporation houses in the Dublin county council area feel they have not been looked after.

There is no need to pursue that matter. However, it is a reasonable cause for complaint and I ask the Minister to compromise and accept my amendment which would effectively transfer the tenanted houses. There is a considerable number of such houses. Of the 11,000 corporation houses in Dublin County Council areas, 7,500 are tenancy dwellings and the others are either vested or in the process of being vested. I suggest that the 7,500 tenancy dwellings transfer to the county council of their functional area. The land bank of Dublin Corporation, and the vested houses should remain with Dublin Corporation.

The argument has been well rehearsed and, therefore, I do not need to provide details to the Minister. I am sure he heard many times the concerns of the Dublin city area in relation to its ability to meet its major statutory function of providing houses for people in its functional area and for those that meet the requirements and criteria of the Housing Acts.

I would be concerned with effectively limiting Dublin Corporation to providing houses only within the corporation bounds. The cost of providing housing in that area for the numbers required is not practical. There is room for more infill sites in Dublin Corporation which I support, I also support the idea of making our cities living cities and restoring and renewing them under urban renewal schemes and various other incentive schemes as well as having residential housing schemes in the inner city area. These are most important, but in terms of the sheer number of houses that Dublin Corporation will be required to provide to meet the needs of the 5,200 people on their list, and indeed the 7,000 on the transfer list, to get out, mainly, of high rise flats, the Minister will have to be more flexible than is proposed in the Bill. It is worth putting on the record that there are 5,152 applicants on the corporation's housing list. The scale of needs for the new county council areas will be quite different. Fingal has 906 housing applicants on its list; in South Dublin there are 870, and in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown area 615. These are the figures on 8 November. One can see the imbalance and the huge problem and the pressure that will be put on Dublin Corporation by the Minister's proposals. Apart from the overall difficulty, the fact that the Minister has given no guarantee to fully compensate Dublin Corporation for any houses and/or land that will be transferred to the county councils will have major financial ramifications in terms of its ability to deliver its statutory duties. I ask the Minister to take my amendments on board and to indicate clearly how Dublin Corporation will be compensated for the houses he proposes to transfer, assuming he accepts my amendments that the land will not transfer.

Speaking as a city councillor I am in agreement with these amendments although perhaps I should take a wider view. As stated, the 7,500 houses in the county belonging to the corporation form 40 per cent of our total stock of houses. They are the newer houses and bring in a net positive revenue. It has often been said about local authority houses that more is spent maintaining them than they earn in rents but that is not true in the case of the newer houses in the county area and this change would certainly have an effect on corporation revenue.Whatever argument is made about the tenancy houses — and I accept the county council people complain about what the corporation do in the county — it is not a case of just handing over 7,500 houses to the county councils. If it is to be done it will have to be over a long number of years so that the corporation do not find themselves pushed out suddenly. The amendment mentions the houses being bought out at present — there may be up 3,000 of them — but there is no reason a tenant purchase house should be involved in this change. The houses are being bought by people and sold by the corporation. These people are paying on a weekly or monthly basis and there is no need to change——

No changes are involved.

They are owned by people who have bought them out. To start telling these people that they are buying a house from the corporation one week and from someone else the next is bureaucracy, it is getting into a legal nightmare and creating trouble. In addition, the city council will lose money. From a bureaucratic point of view I see no point in changing.

Two of the amendments deal with land and we are reasonable in the corporation in accepting that there is an argument to be made on the tenancy houses but not in the case of land. The corporation has about 1,800 acres of land in the county area built up over a number of years and the loans have been serviced by revenue account. It has been said that the land was built upon through grants given to the corporation but that is no so. Loans might have been administered through the Department but, if so, they have been serviced by the corporation for a number of years. The land is the corporation's investment. It does not need that land today or tomorrow but it is ludicrous to take away its investment. It has also been suggested that an individual ratepayer could take a court case against it because if the corporation lost its asset which it had maintained and built up over the years it would have an effect on the rates of the city and a ratepayer could take a constitutional case against it.

The council has a similar amount of land at present which, I presume, will be divided fairly equally between the two new bodies. They are not in need of corporation land and if they get our land presumably they will be free to sell it since it was not acquired for any statutory purposes. Will this be a sale of the century for the councils? Instead of rezoning they will have a great time selling corporation land. The Minister has been bashing the county councillors on rezoning but city councillors now feel that while we were the good guys we are now to be penalised by this event and that the county councils will have a new toy to play with and be able to sell off land left, right and centre.

It is not enough to say that the management will sit down and talk about this next year when everything has happened because any arrangement should be sorted out in advance. It does not make sense to say that we will get the new structure in place and talk about the money afterwards. If this goes ahead as some people understand it the city council will be destitute. It has created an investment which just cannot be taken from it. Perhaps I only see things from one point of view and I accept that, but as a city councillor these amendments make perfect sense to me and I hope they can be taken on board.

I will not go back over the arguments about the common housing list in relation to the tenancies. Deputy Ahern clearly indicated the difficulties of Dublin City Council in relation to vested houses and the land bank. The way the land was acquired over many years before land prices escalated, through compulsory purchase orders on the basis of loans and moneys provided by ratepayers and the taxpayers of the city, creates a special role for the land, acknowledging, of course, that there is quite a significant land bank owned jointly in the county area by the city and the county councils. Despite some of the remarks today, it provided a tremendous development role in the development of the Dublin region over the last 30 to 40 years in relation to the provision of industrial parks or the land for the Tallaght town centre, for example. Those land banks would not have existed except for the fact that the corporation or the city council created them in the first place.

We are now faced with a situation where nervous officials who look in the Third Schedule of the Bill can see that ultimately the Minister can make the relevant decision on what will happen. There is no independent right of appeal in relation to valuation and the final settlement of the land. We are left relying on the good grace of the Minister as to what will happen and it is no accident that nervous officials are perhaps preparing to sell significant quanities of this land. Disposing of the land in a last minute fire sale is the last thing that should happen to it. It should be a valuable resource for the new counties and for Dublin city for the years to come.

While I accept the general thrust of Deputy Doyle's amendments — and I would like the Minister to think again — the bottom line for Dublin City Council and for all parties represented on it would be to insert in the Third Schedule in Part I article 4 (d) which is the implementation of section 35 lines and Part II article 4 (d) to replace article 4 (d) and (e) something along the lines of "in default of agreement between the principle authorities concerned——

See amendments Nos. 55 and 56.

—as to the consideration to be given, the order shall record such failure and the consideration shall be determined by arbitration under and in accordance with the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, as amended, extended or adapted by any other legislation."

I am not sure whether that wording, or the one proposed in amendment No. 56, should be exactly the way to proceed. There has to be a fall-back position and some independent means of arbitration regarding this huge resource which Dublin City Council depends on for funding. It would be unfair to have this suddenly swept away leaving it denuded and having to rely on the Minister's generosity as to what would happen to its most important asset. If capital grants are included, the council receives only 15 to 18 per cent of its funding from central Government, so the vast bulk of its income comes from its own resources.

On this important section of the Bill, I would not like the discussion to be perceived as Dublin Corporation versus Dublin County Council, whether it be the management or public representatives. What we are talking about is what is in the best interests of the people residing in the area. We can all say, from our own perspectives, that if we have X acres of land and X number of houses then we will have X millions of pounds. It is the reality that counts, however, and that means getting people involved in the local community with their local representatives and administering their own estates. There is a major problem but the administration, whether it is over one or two years, must be transferred to the relevant county council. In Fingal there are 1,720 corporation houses and the needs of those living in them must be addressed. Local representatives must be seen to play a meaningful role in improving the environment there.

I disagree with Deputy Doyle on the question of land use. There are about 250 acres in Tallaght, 600 acres in Lucan and Clondalkin and 1,000 acres in Blanchardstown, although I do not know whether some of that land has been sold in the past few weeks. What is relevant is the policy in relation to the use of that land. How can we have an acceptable arrangement when Dublin Corporation is taking decisions on land use when the people in the area are not responsible to the various new county councils and have different public representatives? We must deal with that in a meaningful way and we can do that with new councils and corporations.

There is a recommendation that if we do not reach agreement locally the question will go back to the Minister, but perhaps there is a need to tighten up the process and I would welcome the Minister's comments on that.

I agree with Deputy Ryan that the important thing is the people that this process is supposed to serve. There are two categories of people that must be looked at in this context: the first are the tenants and purchasers of dwellings, and their needs, and, secondly, the people on the housing waiting lists of Dublin Corporation and the other three authorities in Dublin. It is important that the Minister appreciates this because I would not want him to think that this is in some way a peculiar Dublin authority row being acted out here and that he has to come charging from Tipperary to sort it all out. The problem is one for which the Minister is responsible; a shortage of houses. We have enormous housing crisis in Dublin. I understand the problem of Dublin Corporation where, in addition to having 5,500 on its housing waiting list, it faces another problem because the area of land colonised in the county as a means of resolving part of the problem may be transferred to one of the new county areas. The corporation will, therefore, be left without a land bank. This problem, however, is not confined to Dublin Corporation. The new Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown county, for example, will have a similar problem — no land and nowhere to put the 1,300 people who constitute the highest waiting list of any county council.

On top of that, there are the complications of variations in house prices affecting people who want to apply under the various headings of the plan for social housing or who want to buy under the shared ownership scheme. If people are living in an area where house prices have risen they cannot buy a house in that area so they are being driven out of their own communities with all the social consequences that entails.

Even if the issues of land and houses never arose, there would still be a necessity for the housing crisis in Dublin to be addressed. I ask the Minister and Minister of State to examine the problem urgently before allocations for housing provision are made for the coming year. That is the overriding problem behind all this.

The specific problem being addressed here is the question of the transfer of houses and lands. As I understand it, Deputies Broughan and Ahern seem to accept that the tenanted dwellings should be transferred. It would appear that there is no dispute about that. That is also Deputy Doyle's position and would be the intent of her amendment. It is right that that should happen because people who are tenants of one authority have no recourse to that authority although they pay rent to it. They also rely on that authority for maintenance but if something goes wrong they have no way of getting satisfaction because they do not elect anybody to the council of that authority, and the people they do elect do not have any recourse to that authority either. There is a litany of examples of where members of Dublin County Council made approaches to the management of Dublin Corporation and they might as well have been somebody walking in off the street for all the heed the management of Dublin Corporation paid them because, of course, they had no hold over them. They could not turn up at a meeting, propose a motion and make them accountable. I hope colleagues will not misinterpret what I am saying, but it is unfortunate that a culture seems to have developed in Dublin Corporation that it was the premier authority in Dublin and that the county council was some sort of a lesser body, and that these new county councils will be some kind of lesser suburban bodies that——

We have the mayor.

——is all part of the same idea. There is this thinking in the corporation that it is the premier authority and that has spilled over into the housing area. It regarded areas of County Dublin in much the same way as the pioneers regarded the wild west. It thought it could take this land and use it for its own purposes without being subsequently subjected to accountability. This has been unfortunate.

Tenant purchase dwellings should be transferred because while there is no responsibility for maintenance, there would be responsibility if one of these dwellings was subsequently sold. There is also the question of permission being granted and other connections with the local authority which arise when houses are being sold. This issue of land must be considered because nobody could reasonably suggest that Dublin Corporation should be denuded of land for its potential housing programme.

Having said that, if Dublin Corporation again builds on the land, as it will inevitably do, what will become of those dwellings? Will they be handed on? I am a little concerned about the possibility that the process of transferring the dwellings or lands might be delayed. The amendment suggested by Deputy Broughan seems to be designed to frustrate that exercise. If there is any question of delay, I will propose an amendment on Report Stage which would set down deadlines by which some of these transfer arrangements should be made.

The ultimate problem we face, and one with which the Minister must deal, is that, at the rate at which he is providing funds for local authority housing, it would take a long time to build on the 1,800 acres Dublin Corporation has in the county area.

I concur with the last speaker. We are all concerned about the provision of housing. This problem is not going to be tackled in the short term but the Minister should come up with creative solutions. We have made some progress, which is welcome, but we have a long way to go. When Deputy Lawlor gave numbers for those on the housing list, I wanted to tell him to increase them a little because there are 1,300 people in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown waiting for houses. It is generally conceded here, and I agree, that local authorities should have responsibility for housing matters.

I understand Dublin Corporation's difficulty over land but this position will not be easily resolved. It is not a case of the land grabbers being grabbed in return but of discussing it and arriving at a reasonable arrangement. As a local authority member, I would say that members of Dublin County Council and the three new county councils would look more favourably at these provisions than Dublin Corporation. It does not take a genius to realise this.

People have a genuine commitment to discuss the matter and arrive at an equitable arrangement despite the issue's unfortunate history which has been spoken about by county councillors throughout the debate, particularly on Second Stage. There was condemnation of the views of Dublin Corporation officials towards cases made on behalf of tenants by people who were not electorally involved. I will now conclude because the issue has been well debated at this stage.

The combined purpose of these amendments seems to be to substantially limit the scale of the transfer of responsibility for local authority dwellings and land to the local authority in whose area it is located. Amendments Nos. 46 and 48, which would omit dwellings sold or in the course of disposal, must be rejected. They could lead to a very confusing, highly inefficient and illogical situation on the ground. The residual interests of the local authority in houses which happened to be purchased before the effective date of the transfer, would continue to be held by Dublin Corporation, whereas those purchased after the date would be held by the relevant county council. The principle of the transfers is to establish clear responsibility for houses. The amendments would be in conflict with the aim of the provision, which is to ensure that all responsibility for local authority houses rests with the authority in whose areas they are located. This requires that the corporation will no longer have a housing presence in any of the new council areas.

Once its tenanted houses in the county are transferred, Dublin Corporation will no longer need a rent collection structure in the county. It would be an inefficient use of resources for the corporation to continue to collect purchase payments outside its area, alongside council staff collecting rents from tenanted houses. Tenant purchasers are required to apply for, and obtain the consent of, a housing authority before they can sell their dwellings. This responsibility would remain with the corporation if their interest in purchased houses in the county was to continue. The local authority for the area in which the tenant purchaser resides is in the best position to make judgments regarding the applicant's housing circumstances if applying for permission to sell.

At a time when three new county councils are being established, it is important not only to establish clear responsibility but equally that local communities are aware of where responsibilities for different matters rest. The amendment confuses rather than clarifies in this regard, with neighbours having to deal with different local authorities and personnel and at different locations.

The corporation's ability to deal with its housing list does not have to rely solely on new building on green field sites. It can, for example, engage in infill developments or purchase new or second hand houses. The transfer schemes can allow it to avail of casual vacancies from their former stock in the county. Also, county authorities can provide dwellings for corporation nominees.

Amendment Nos. 47 and 49 deal with the land held by the corporation in the areas of the new councils. As Deputy N. Ahern said, it has a substantial land bank in the county amounting to 1,850 acres. This was acquired for housing, commercial, community and other purposes at a time when the corporation was undertaking large scale housing construction in the county. It now sees its future focus as concentrating on the revitalisation of the city area. To fail to transfer housing lands would be inconsistent with the general acceptance that corporation houses in the county should be transferred to the county authorities. It would set the scene for again putting in train the present unsatisfactory situation which the Bill is seeking to resolve.

There have been complaints about the management and control of corporation land in the county. There is an obvious need for close co-ordination of development planning, service provision, future local authority infrastructure and other development. It is clearly undesirable, therefore, that one local authority should have very large land holdings in the area of another at a time when new local authorities are being established to have responsibility for their own areas. A single authority with responsibility for all local authority land in its area gives a clearer focus, prevents disputes and improves efficiency of land management.

The principle of land transfers was accepted by many speakers on Second Stage, including Deputy Doyle's colleagues. The amendment would omit land from the transfer of provisions contained in the Third Schedule. The amendment seeks to overturn this principle; therefore, it cannot be accepted. The detailed arrangements to apply in relation to land transfers, including timescale, circumstances, the basis for the giving of any consideration, transitional provisions as to management of land, etc., are matters to be determined by the local authorities by way of schemes prepared under Part II of the Third Schedule. A local authority is authorised to acquire land in pursuance of its duties and functions. The concerns of Dublin Corporation can be catered for in the land transfer scheme. It is not intended that the corporation should be forced to carry financial burdens for the new authorities, but neither should they seek gains at the expense of the new local authorities.

A number of contributions have been made this evening but they are in the minority in terms of the total contributions based against Second Stage contributions. Nevertheless, there are certain fears about the corporation's capacity to deal with its difficult housing problems at present. I would like a debate to take place between the four authorities to resolve these matters in an amicable and satisfactory way. However, the corporation can no longer see itself getting involved in large green field local authority house building. It knows we have come to the end of such local authority housing provisions. I do not want Dublin Corporation's or Dublin County Council's present views coloured by what happened in the past because none of the new councils will be able to pursue that policy again. It means we are down to smaller type infill schemes, whether in the county or city.

For years Dublin Corporation insisted there was no possibility of meeting its house building remit without going outside the city. With an increased house building programme this year, I am delighted it has found it possible to locate all the houses in the city area. It shows the corporation's determination to look at new opportunities in the city. I respect there are also limitations to this policy but I am grateful to the corporation for what seems to me to be a changed approach to building in the county.

It makes sense that the new local authorities in the county area should have responsibilty for the land and houses in their jurisdiction. This is difficult to achieve and the reorganisation committee which considered this, including officials in my Department and the Lord Mayor's Commission on Housing, which was established within the corporation, strongly recommended this approach.

My Department and I are not trying to create problems. This matter has been carefully considered by different groups of interested people who are trying to resolve the problem. That is why we are providing the framework for this to happen over a period of time. The time should be used advantageously by all the authorities to get the best possible local resolution to the problems involved in reaching an acceptable and desirable goal. I do not wish to make it difficult for the corporation. I will do anything I can to help the corporation and the elected members with the special problems they face because of recent developments in our attempt to move forward.

I thank the Minister for his comprehensive reply, although it does not answer the case put forward by my amendment. I want to make it clear that, unlike some of the contributors here tonight, I am not a member of either Dublin Corporation or Dublin County Council. Therefore, my views can be objective.

As a member of a local authority, I strongly believe that local authorities are not an end in themselves. They are a means to an end and to providing a coal face service to those living in their functional area. Therefore, I have no hang-ups about preserving or jealously guarding traditional rights or aspects of a local authority's functions if there is a better way of providing that service to the public.

If the Minister introduces a common housing list for all the Dublin local authorities, in particular between the corporation and South Dublin County Council—and I am not saying a common housing list is wrong — it will be a diminution of the statutory housing function of Dublin city councillors. Perhaps that is what the Minister is saying. I agree with infill schemes and I made that point earlier before the Minister reiterated his views. We must make Dublin city a living city. Therefore, we must have infill schemes anywhere we can. However, these schemes will not be able to cope with the demand required by Dublin Corporation, particularly with over 5,000 applicants on the housing list at present, and we do not know how many will be added in the next five to ten years.

Land use policy was mentioned by Deputy Ryan. The 1,800 acres owned by the corporation in the county council area is designated for development, be it industrial, commercial or housing. Some of it may be agriculturally zoned. There may be a case given the Minister's clear indication that the large green field developments in the county council area of Dublin Corporation are no longer in progress. I assume that does not preclude some housing scheme developments by Dublin Corporation in the county council area. Is the Minister saying that Dublin Corporation will never again build a house in the county council area?

No. We have some way to go in terms of the negotiations between the various authorities to resolve these difficulties. In the long run, we want the orangisation and management of affairs in the county area to be exclusively in the remit of the county.

Exclusively in the remit of the county?

Yes. As we work towards this goal, certain problems must be overcome, including the fact that the corporation is not confined to such a resolution of its housing problem. It proved this to me this year by finding accommodation for all its starts and acquisitions in the city area, although for years the corporation told my Department this was not possible. This means we must look again at what is available to work on.

As a result of the numbers on the Dublin Corporation housing list, additional features must emerge and it could reach accommodation with the counties in different situations. However, I will not become involved in that this evening. One of the speakers mentioned the fact that housing is a big area and a national question, both in terms of resources and the type of schemes we want to develop. I will leave the door open as wide as I can in the interim period for the local authorities, the three new counties and the corporation, to reach the best solutions to these problems. In the long run, whatever accommodations are reached in the interim period, it makes sense that one does not collect the rent for my house and I collect it for his house.

The responsibility for one area lies with one authority and for another with a different authority, which is the simplest way. We are short of time so I may be rushing through certain matters.

This is an important section of the Bill and I wish to clarify one matter. There would be no difficulty with Dublin Corporation keeping an agreed proportion of the 1,800 acres. The corporation may not need 1,800 acres on which to build houses in the next 50 years but it does need land. Perhaps it can keep a reasonable amount of land to meet its needs for the next six to ten years.

Any housing estates built by Dublin Corporation on land in the county area could be transferred to the county council in the relevant area as long as those housed there were taken off the corporation list. In the absence of common housing lists, whereby applicants to Dublin Corporation for housing would be given equal opportunity to be housed, in Dublin south for example, the corporation will have to find land, build houses on it and, if necessary, transfer the estate to the county council in whose area it was built. At least it would have been looking after applicants on its list.

There is major concern at again having to buy a pig in a poke. We will be accepting proposals without knowing what they will mean for the ability of Dublin Corporation to meet its statutory housing function in the long term.

I made clear in my last contribution that there will be an interim period during which arrangements will be operated between all the authorities to find the best solution they can. In the final analysis, the land, land management, ownership, housing, roads, etc., within the functional area of each authority will be its responsibility alone. If, after that interim period, local authority houses are to be built for people on the housing list within the corporation, they will be built by the county council and the tenants will become county council tenants. If they want to make an agreement with the corporation to do so that will be fine but we will not start that cycle again.

I do not disagree with that, it is more or less what I was saying. I could see houses built by the corporation in the county council area becoming the responsibility of the county council to operate when tenanted. Is that the Minister's intention?

No, built by the county.

Will the Minister indicate whether the theory of the absolute responsibility for housing, roads, etc., in the functional area being that of the relevant local authority will have national application?

If we go back in history——

Not too far; time will not allow that.

——to pre-famine times, land tenure was broken up. We will not return to rights-of-way and all the other matters involved in deciding who owns land. We are seeking a consolidation process which I hope will help both sides. I have indicated my sympathy and understanding for the corporation in particular, because it has large numbers on its lists and big problems to solve. I want to help, not just through the primary legislation but in any way I can, to facilitate that development. It is far better for a local authority to bear responsibility for management, maintenance and upholding the best possible profile and practices within its functional area.

Wexford Corporation has many houses and housing estates in the county council functional area which causes problems because there are different services in different parts of an estate. There is also the problem of democratic accountability for the management and repair of the houses although it is not as acute as in the greater Dublin region. Will the Minister's theory of strict responsibility of the local authority for everything in its functional area be applied nationally?

I have one other question which requires just a "yes" or "no" answer. Will Dublin Corporation be compensated for the land bank the Minister will remove from it and transfer to the relevant county council and for the houses it will lose?

The second question must be addressed in the context of the negotiations which will take place between the authorities and I will not prejudge what will emerge. The Deputy heard the debate, Members from the county area said they are inheriting considerable problems as well as assets. Members from the city area said there will be grave losses and that they will seek compensation. That matter is for further consideration.

In relation to the first question, Wexford Corporation recommended that its boundary be extended to take account of these problems and there has been local agreement on this matter.

Agreement has not yet been reached.

I have some helpful suggestions which I will not go into tonight because we do not have time. I will be making them in the context of a new local government Bill. There will be a certain amount of interest attached to what I propose.

We wait in anticipation.

I remain worried. Corporation land in the county area is not all for building. The corporation needs land for playing fields, cemeteries, etc., as 500,000 people must be buried somewhere. Land may also be used for allotments.

Infill has been mentioned and this year the corporation has built in the city area although many of those are senior citizens' flats, which are compact. In the area I represent around Drumcondra and Glasnevin we can see we may reach the stage where there will not be a blade of grass within the corporation's boundaries. There used to be church and institutional land in my area, mostly private developments. All the land around Griffith Avenue, Collins Avenue, Tolka Lodge and Artane owned by the Christian Brothers and other religious orders has been bought up. The pocket park beside City Hall will be the only green area in the city. One could count Croke Park although I would not.

Infill building could be taken too far and we will not know what grass looks like. A balance must be found and the corporation must get the land it needs for playing fields and the other facilities I mentioned. When the price is struck I hope it will be the right one and that it will not be a giveaway. Everything has its price and if the corporation gets the money it should be allowed to buy. That is not likely to happen.

Who will pay?

That is the question. The Minister is talking about paper money but where does that leave the corporation? It needs land and the councils will not look after corporation playing fields, there is no point asking them.

I am always amused when people say there will be no more green field building in Dublin. It was a mantra of the 26th Dáil because money was not provided by previous Governments for public sector housing. That is why there is now a huge housing backlog.

A massive amount of green field building is going on and will continue in the three new counties. Just north of my constituency a new parish of 1,100 to 1,200 houses is being built. It will be the same size as a reasonably large country town. The density of that development will be high, about 14 houses an acre. The roads are now being built for it in the Ayrfield area and it is ready to start.

It seems to be fine to have massive sprawl if the development is private but if there is an element of public development it is a different matter. Given the way we are proceeding we may be taking a decision which will have implications for the development of Dublin city, for the reasons mentioned by Deputy Ahern.

We have a standard policy at the moment in relation to the quays and so on of low level development. However, it may happen that, for whatever reason, Dublin will have to develop upwards, perhaps because of decisions we are taking today. In large areas of the northside, every green space is going for housing and that is the reality. We have a real problem here.

I accept what the Minister said that there is a need for flexibility, common sense and so on between the four authorities. The two authorities always worked closely but they did have the same senior staff. Such ongoing co-operation is needed if the greater Dublin area is to develop into the kind of city which, broadly, we all want — a place where there will be a high level of amenities and the lifestyle will be good and decent. It is important that we get this right. From that point of view, I hope the Minister will rethink particularly the point that some other tribunal or authority might have to intervene and arbitrate where there are difficulties.

I am certain I made this clear because I can recall distinctly what I said in relation to green field development, that we were never again returning to single class local authority housing on green field as in the past. If the Deputy is talking about major private development, I want that interwoven with our development of local authority housing. We will, of course, have green field development but I hope it is of a mixed character and not confined as it has been in the past. It is also fair to say that the corporation has made considerable progress in the city. Most of us — I say this with all humility — totally underestimate the amount of land which is under utilised and serviced in the heart of every village, middle sized town and city in Ireland.

Amendment put and declared lost.
Amendments Nos. 47 to 49, inclusive, not moved.
Section 35 agreed to.
Sections 36 and 37 agreed to.