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Private Members' Business. - Vote 27—Local Government (Resumed).

Wednesday, 5 October 1966

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 224 No. 5

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Debate resumed on the following motion:

That a sum not exceeding £8,581,450 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1967, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Office of the Minister for Local Government, including Grants to Local Authorities, Grants and other expenses in connection with Housing, and Miscellaneous Grants including certain Grants-in-Aid.

—(Minister for Local Government.)

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley Zoom on Florence Crowley I was saying that a lot of Deputies on the Opposition side have been indulging in politics and uttering petty and derisive catcalls about the shortage of houses. However, an honest and prudent assessment of the situation shows, and I do not think anybody can deny this, that there has been a tremendous gain in housing and the improvements over the past six or seven years have been pretty substantial. The worst offender on the Opposition benches has been Deputy Barrett who never misses an opportunity to groan and moan about the housing situation. I regard him as the chief Jeremiah on the opposite benches. Many of his assessments have been wilful distortions of the true facts, bloated accounts of the realities of the situation. A lot of facts and figures are just pushed aside as if they did not exist, with a complete disregard for truth or honesty, or used deliberately as a good political hobbyhorse. However, these complaints have a habit of returning to plague the inventor.

In 1965-66 the total number of houses completed by housing authorities and private enterprise was slightly over 11,000, which is about twice the [697] number provided four years ago and about 1,000 above the provisional target set out in the Second Programme for Economic Expansion.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins Is that not dead yet?

Mr. Crowley: Information on Florence Crowley Zoom on Florence Crowley The figures are there and Deputy Collins or Deputy Barrett may judge them. The fact remains that this is a very suitable yardstick by which to judge the vigorous growth in housing.

I should like to conclude by saying that I am very happy to be on the same side of the House as the Minister who has the interests of the poorer sections of the population so much at heart. I feel confident that with his guidance and energy, the situation will improve and I can assure him that every assistance that can be given to him from this side of the House will be given. The Opposition may think that their catcalling and derisive remarks will gain them a certain amount of political favour but in the long run they will only be used against them.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan I want to put the case of my own constituency in this debate. If we all look after our own end, we will eventually have a proper picture of the national situation as it exists. There is no use fooling ourselves by juggling around with figures. Figures are made for juggling and we can use them to suit whatever case we wish to make. In this case I must say that the Minister and his Department have been juggling deliberately with figures and deceiving the ordinary people in regard to the amounts allocated for housing. I could bring the Minister back to 1933 and 1934 when houses were built in Limerick for something in the region of £200. The cost of that house today is in the region of £2,400 to £2,500. I indict the Minister and his Department when they say they are giving more this year than last year. That is all nonsense and is a deliberate deception.

As public representatives, we all are aware of the housing demands and here again the Department stands indicted because we know the dilly-dallying [698] and the yo-yo tactics that have been adopted by the Department when plans are sent to them for sanction. I believe that every representative here of a local authority will agree with me that our engineers and architects are just as good as, if not better than, the men employed in the Department of Local Government. Last August 12 months I had occasion to inquire about a housing plan which we had sent to the Department. I was informed that the engineer in charge was on holidays and that it would not be touched until he returned in a month's time. That was the position. I believe that all this sending of plans up and down from the country to the Department and back again just because there is a red line where there should be a blue line, or because something is there which should not be there, is adopted for purely delaying purposes and to hold up the efforts local authority representatives are trying to make to house their people.

Furthermore, it must be agreed that the architects and engineers on the spot have a local knowledge. They know the land and the layout of such things as water, sewerage and so on, and everything connected with the scheme, and I cannot for the life of me see why these plans have to go up and down and down and up. It is only for one purpose, that is, to delay the housing programme which we local authorities have set before ourselves. The fact that targets have been set was mentioned here. Since I came into public life, I am sick of listening to this. I have yet to see the bullseye being reached, and, indeed, we are far short of it. This is another of the complications and of the deceitful practices of the Government in order to try to take people's minds off the urgent necessity which exists in regard to housing.

Now, I want to come to the position prevailing in my county. We have 500 applications for houses, or 480 to be exact. In 1965, 68 houses were completed. There are 35 SDA applicants waiting months on a waiting list for their grants from the Department and nothing is being done about it. We have water schemes held up and we [699] have also group schemes held up. Plans have been sent up. The groups have been organised. Everything has been waiting and ready but nothing has been done with regard to them. Men have been laid off for want of money in regard to building and repairs to council houses. That is the position with regard to the county.

We have practically 1,000 applicants for housing in the city of Limerick and we have 139 houses under construction. I remember a time, and it is on record, when the present Minister for Education as a member of Limerick Corporation demanded that our target should be 400 houses a year. We are now in the sad position that out of 1,000 people who need houses we are in the course of constructing 139 houses. We have been sending up, time out of mind, plans, plans and more plans and they have been going back and forth. I was on a deputation which went to the Minister and he told me that he would consider nothing until it had reached the tender stage. He did not deceive us because we knew he was hampering it before ever reaching the tender stage.

We have a situation in Limerick which is tragic in the extreme. That is because the Minister will not sanction sub-tenants for first lettings. I have stated before—and it has been reported—that we have 18 and 20 people living in three-roomed houses. We have four families living in the one house with six people living in one room. We have a married couple with boys and girls 18, 19 and 20 years of age living in one room. They are all sleeping in the one room because we are not allowed to rehouse our subtenants for first lettings.

This is a matter of grave importance and as far as Limerick is concerned it is a tragedy. We have this question of sub-tenants before us at every meeting. What are people to do? A boy and girl get married. There is no such thing as rooms to let because when rooms are vacated, the roofs are taken off and the rooms locked up. [700] Those rooms cannot be re-let unless the people go in to live under conditions which would not be tolerated anywhere. Even if they go in the corporation will evict them. Those unfortunate people, who want to get married, have no alternative but live with their inlaws. There the snowball starts.

You have the first marriage. Then the second, third and fourth marriage comes off and before we know where we are there are five and six families living in the one corporation house. If that is Christian living and if that is what the Department and the Minister for Local Government call Christian living they live in a different world than I do. This is tragic and immoral to say the least of it. I want to impress on the Minister that those sub-tenants must be considered on the basis of overcrowding. We can consider them in other cases outside corporation houses on the grounds of overcrowding and we can house them and give them first lettings. The only thing we can do now is wait for any vacancy that may occur.

Very few vacancies occur. If by chance a vacancy arises there are 50 or 60 applicants for that vacancy. It is about time the Department gave sub-tenants the same conditions as anybody else. They are Irish people just as we are. They are married and bringing up young families the same as anybody else. They are living in overcrowded conditions and they should be treated in that light. I hope the Minister, his Parliamentary Secretary and his officials take note of what I am saying. I have raised this on many occasions, and please God. I will raise it next Monday night at the Corporation meeting in Limerick.

The position then is this. We have something over 300 applications from sub-tenants. At the same time we have only 66 demolition orders on our books so that, putting one figure against the other, 66 houses to be demolished on the one hand, and 300 sub-tenants seeking accomodation on the other hand, surely to heavens it is about time now they were allowed to move into first lettings. Those figures cannot [701] be denied. There has been talk about the cost of building and that more money is being given this year than last year.

Rent increases in most cases have been authorised by the Minister for Local Government. The Minister sent us down his circular, M1/65, demanding that we increase the rents or, if not, we would not be considered for further housing loans or grants. The gun was put to our head and the manager had to move or be removed, one or the other. What happened? Rents in some cases went up 200 per cent and more in my city. Some unfortunate people who went into those houses contracted for a maximum rent based on the figures and the terms and conditions of work at the time, be it five years, ten years or even fifteen years ago. Maximum rents were agreed by Limerick Corporation at that time. We got the fire order from the Minister that those contracts had to be broken. Those tenants contracted for a maximum rent which now had to be broken by a fire order from the Minister. Those unfortunate people are now faced with the fact that their rents, in some cases, have increased by 200 per cent. If you call that Local Government, if you call that progress and if you call that good living and good Government I know nothing whatever about it. It is foreign to me. I can understand the feelings of those people who contracted for a maximum rent. Those maximum rent tenants contracted for a figure at the time. That has been increased on three occasions in the past couple of months by Limerick Corporation.

Now, I want to come to the problem of rents. Here, again, the Department in their intolerance and in their smug approach to the conditions under which people have to live have ordered a differential rents system. I went to the trouble of acquainting myself with the conditions and ascertaining the differentials in the areas in which they operate. No two figures were alike in regard to any particular house or the number of dependants in any house.

[702] It is only half an hour since I was looking at the differential rents system which obtains in the Parliamentary Secretary's own constituency. The information is obtainable in the Fine Gael rooms with regard to Wicklow. Having considered and having examined all the systems that prevail I find there are no two boroughs or differential areas which agree on a figure, bearing in mind its full relation to the cost of the house and the income of the dependants living therein. I cannot see why—all over the country prices are the same, from £2,400 to £2,500, conditions are the same, and contracts are comparable—a figure cannot be laid down that will be just and fair and equally applied in all differential rent schemes. That is a matter on which the Department have slept—one of the many—and is one that has been avoided by the Department. It has been thrown over locally. The Department said: “Look after your own affairs but let us do the Pontius Pilate and wash our hands of it.” It is the duty of the Department of Local Government to ensure that there is equity in regard to all our people. Does this prevail today?

Another point I should like to put to the Minister for his consideration is this. The Department of Local Government, in conjunction with the Department of Defence and the Department of Justice, should devise a scheme to house both the Army and Garda. We have men, particularly in the Army, living in conditions in married quarters and, honest to God, I would not put pigs into them. They cannot turn on the electric light. That question was raised here time and again. They cannot put in a TV set or an electric washer or an electric cooker. The rain flows down all over the place. These are dirty, filthy, stone buildings, a relic of British days. Something should be done about a scheme of housing for the Army men.

The case is similar with regard to the Garda. There should be a scheme in the Department of Local Government in co-operation with the Department [703] of Justice whereby these men would be properly housed. It obtained in the past and, while I do not want to take a leaf out of the book of John Bull, this must be said for him. He looked after such men properly in this respect.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin I do not think the Minister for Local Government is responsible.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan I am making a suggestion that he should contact his colleagues.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin The Deputy will get an opportunity on the relevant Estimate.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins I knew the Minister was responsible for plenty of bull but I did not know he was responsible for John Bull.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan I do not want to be as long-winded as the boy who left a few minutes ago.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins He was a promising boy.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan He is a growing boy, God bless him. The question of repairs is of vital importance in the constituency from which I come. I raised it time and time again. Not a nail was driven in some of the houses since 1934—since the day they were built. There is no day that I do not send in ten or 20 requests with regard to repairs. There is no money for repairs. Then when the avalanche came and when the hurricane blew an inspector was sent along. What he inspected nobody knows because he did not give himself time to blow his nose in Limerick.

Mr. Geoghegan: Information on John Geoghegan Zoom on John Geoghegan It is a pity the Deputy did not get a hold of him and keep him there.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan It is, indeed, a pity I did not get a hold of him. He came in the dead of night and silently crept away in the darkness and we are still awaiting a report from this inspector. The Minister took it on himself to [704] send down an inspector—I do not want to go into it too deeply as I might be accused of bringing personalities in— and from what I know very few people saw him. I do not know where he visited but I am trying to find out.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke The Deputy did not bring him into the local?

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan It is only to the Deputy himself I offer my hospitality when he arrives in my city and well he knows it.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke The Deputy did it very well indeed.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan I do not wish to prolong the debate on this Estimate. The matter, so far as Limerick is concerned briefly, brutally and without a semblance of imagination is tragic in the extreme. People can paint pictures about Dublin and pictures about Cork but I will paint a reality for any inspector who will come down to meet me in Limerick. I will show him, and bring him to houses, where a man and his wife and a brother and sister of 18 years of age are all sleeping in the one room and that room is not much bigger than the table.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins That is a fair size.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan This is nothing to be laughed at or scorned. It is a reality that must be faced and it points to the fact that there is some stubborn reason for it or that there is a stubborn, alleged intelligent person in the Department who says that sub-tenants cannot be considered for first lettings. That rule should be changed, and the regulations should be changed, and if you want you can change them.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Not me but the Minister.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan Yes, by the Minister. The Parliamentary Secretary represents the Minister and he is well able to do it I must say. The situation in Limerick is tragic. I want the Minister to give full consideration to the points I have raised, particularly with regard to the differencial rents and first lettings for sub-tenants.

Mr. Crotty: Information on Patrick J. Crotty Zoom on Patrick J. Crotty I heard two different [705] voices in the debate supporting the Government. Deputy Crowley says he is quite happy that everything is going ahead and that the housing position is satisfactory. I think he is the only one in the country who says that. A different voice came from Deputy Molloy who says that the Government should employ the engineers, who are now idle in Galway due to the closing down of housing, on the surveys rather than employ surveyors. I think Deputy Molloy when he states that these engineers have to emigrate because there is no housing going on in Galway, either private or public, was nearer to the mark than our friend Deputy F. Crowley who stated that he is satisfied with the present position. I would ask the Minister to come out into the open and not try to create a false impression, because he is only fooling himself. The Minister will never admit publicly that there is a real shortage of money for housing. Indeed, when we hear him day after day at Question Time, if a question is raised about housing, he never really states that there is a real shortage of money and that that is the principal reason for the situation. I have no doubt that if the Minister had the money, there would be no scarcity of houses but why can he not say that? I believe that if we had a deputation of Deputies to the Minister in his office, he would come out and tell us that, and say: “I am sorry; I just cannot do that now, but I will try to do it when I get in more funds.” If he would only take the people into his confidence, as well as taking the Deputies into his confidence, everyone would know the position. I do not blame the Minister for, after all, he is in an awkward position; he is in charge of a big Department where most of the money is being spent to repay loans on houses built years ago. I do not blame him for the position he is in and for the way in which he is embarrassed here every day, when he has not enough money to spend. Then, of course, he passes it over to the local authorities. I heard him say here today: “Oh, where is the local authority which did not apply for that years ago?” I think I heard the Parliamentary Secretary say [706] the same thing to Deputy Pattison as to why something was not provided in Carlow. There is not much point in trying to push it over on the public, who are doing their best to get the Government to realise the position in the country. My honest opinion— and I believe it is the opinion of most of the people in the country—is that the responsibility for this lies with the Government.

When the Government came into office in 1956, they found there were ample houses being provided at that time and they decided that housing, in itself, was non-productive. Rather than keep on with the housing programme, they decided they would invest their money in other projects. They closed down housing, although the Taoiseach at that time, who is now President, said that his first responsibility to the public would be housing but, apparently, his voice was outweighed by the Government and he was not allowed to carry out what he stated was his aim at that time. Within the past few years, things have developed to a terrible crisis: houses have been falling and it was only then that the Government began to move, it was only then the Minister for Local Government was able to impress the views of the people of the country on the Government and only then did the Government relax somewhat. They relaxed in one way in that we were allowed to rehouse sub-tenants in corporation houses. Up to that, irrespective of whether there were three, four or five families living in one house, they could not be rehoused or, if they were, this was done at a price they could not afford.

We had a survey of the housing position in Kilkenny recently, when the county medical officer reported that 150 families needed houses, some of whom were living in shocking conditions. Deputy Coughlan mentioned the case of a father, mother and two adult children living in one room. Apparently the county medical officer reported that there were two married couples living in one room in Kilkenny, which is a disgrace to the country. Only within the past week, a woman with five children took possession of [707] a corporation house which had been condemned. The woman was in dire circumstances looking for a house, when she saw her children wasting before her eyes. She had her name on a list of 150 and she is not even in the first 27 to be housed.

I do not think that any Party in the House would object to my suggestion that money be transferred from the Road Fund to housing to get over this present crisis. If things go well again, then, by all means, repay that money to the Road Fund, but, at the present time, housing should be a first charge on any reasonable Government or any reasonable people. We know the Minister cannot get money from the Government in the normal way. I am making the suggestion that he get it from the Road Fund rather than continue with the arterial roads programme for the time being. I would like to see the roads maintained and kept in proper condition—we do not want to see our assets go down—but a certain amount could be spared from the Road Fund to facilitate housing of the people.

There is no point in the Minister for Health touring the country with a White Paper to ascertain people's opinion on it, if, at the same time, the root cause of ill-health in a great number of families is not being removed. That is the first essential. If we had good housing, good sanitary services, good water and good sewerage, quite a lot of the ill-health of our people would be eliminated and Ardkeen Hospital would not have to cater for many of the children for whom they cater at present. During this very big crisis in housing, due to shortage of money—we all know there is an actual shortage of money and the Government have gone to London in an attempt to raise a loan of £5 million to relieve the position—I would suggest that money be transferred from the Road Fund to housing.

One matter brought me to my feet tonight especially, that is, to voice the opinion of my local corporation on the new electoral voting system which the Minister intends bringing in. Up to [708] 1938 in Kilkenny city, we had two wards, each with 12 members: 24 members in the corporation. About that time, the system was changed and the number of members was reduced to 12. The electoral unit was reduced to one for the whole city. That has proved very satisfactory over the years since 1938. I am a member of the corporation and we have practically an 80 per cent attendance at corporation meetings every month in the city. At special meetings, we have the same. It has proved very satisfactory because when there were 24 there were too many and some members did not bother to attend meetings. Now it is more difficult to get elected. When they are elected, they appreciate the position all the more and turn up to meetings when they are called. Politics do not enter into our local affairs.

All the members of the corporation are most anxious to promote the welfare of the city and the three Parties in this House can only boast of six members out of the 12 on the corporation. The other six members are elected from representatives from various organisations in the city: there are some from the chamber of commerce, the Ratepayers' Association, a few Independents and others. All these representatives do their best and I think these organisations should be congratulated on putting up representatives of the public. Those who come forward for election should be congratulated on taking an interest in the welfare of their native city. After all, that is what we are anxious the people should do—work for the good of their own city and for the good of their country. These men have the courage to come forward against the various political Parties here in the House and, as I said, six of them were elected as against six members of the political Parties in this House. When this matter was raised, the Minister gave his word that if any council were unanimous in a decision to carry on with the present system, he would reconsider it very seriously. I can assure the Minister that not one voice was raised in Kilkenny in favour of a change in the system. Not a single voice was raised by a member of his own Party in support of the Minister's [709] proposal: they were all most anxious that the present system should be maintained.

The result of that discussion went to the Minister and I understand that when it was received on the following day, his officials checked back to Kilkenny to know was this a genuine and unanimous vote, and they were told that it was the genuine and unanimous vote of Kilkenny Corporation that the present system should be maintained. I took it for granted then that it would be maintained. After all, a man's word should be as good as his bond. I took the Minister's word here in the House and I said that he would reconsider not changing the system. Everyone in Kilkenny got a great shock last week. As a matter of fact, I was away for a few days and I saw in the Independent that the Minister intended bringing in the new system.

What advantage does he hope to get from it in Kilkenny? What advantage will it bring us in Kilkenny? There might be an argument for it in a city like the city of Cork where there are 40 or 45 representatives on the corporation and there is a ballot paper with 80 or 90 names on it. In Kilkenny we have the same ballot paper today as we had under the old system. The voters in Kilkenny are acquainted with any candidate who goes forward and they know whom they are voting for. In Cork or in Limerick, there may be a case for a new system. In Kilkenny, we do not interfere in anyone else's business. Is this a compliment to the organisations who have the good of the country and the city at heart? The Minister should encourage these people and all people to take an interest in public life. There is a suggestion that we should have civic classes in the schools to teach our children civic spirit. Now we are being told that if we do not belong to one of the big political Parties, we can no longer be members of the corporation.

The Minister said there would be no change in towns with a population of under 10,000. Our population is 10,057 —57 over the mark. Have we not got enough trouble already in this country with borders without the Minister [710] bringing three borders into Kilkenny city? The river makes one division and you would have to look at a map to see the other division. It goes up and down and you would not know what street or what side of a street is in the different areas. Will the Minister tell us what the Government have at the back of their minds in regard to this change? I can appreciate that there might be a reason for it in a city like Cork where there are a big number of candidates, and big voting lists, and people may get confused. In Kilkenny, the biggest number of candidates we would have would be 24, and everyone knows the candidates. I am sorry the Minister is not here to hear my appeal but I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary will convey my views to him. Even at this eleventh hour, he might reconsider the matter. When he is replying, would he give us some idea of what he had in mind when making this change? Is it for the good of a town like Kilkenny, or is it for Party political purposes? I should hate to think it is. We are a happy family in Kilkenny and we try to do our best. We try to invite industries, and to build up the city to make it a bigger city than it is now.

I am glad that the Minister has sanctioned the Mooncoin regional water scheme, but I understand that expenditure this year will be confined to £45,000. A very good firm in Kilkenny got the contract and I would prefer if the Minister would let that firm go ahead and get the job done. There are many farmers in the south of the county who are supplying the creameries with milk and they need water for cooling. There is to be a bonus payment of 2d a gallon and I am sure they will be anxious to get that bonus. This scheme has not been as long on the stocks as the scheme Deputy Dunne mentioned for County Dublin, but it has been considered for a long number of years. It is a pity it was not carried out long ago. Some people have provided water for themselves. The scheme would have been more economic if it had been carried out some years ago. However, we will be glad to have it done.

Members of corporations feel that the Minister put differential rents into [711] our heads. It is an advantage in a city like Kilkenny to have low rents. Some inducement must be offered to the people to stay in the country, and if we charge the same rents as are charged in Dublin, they will not have that inducement. This will also increase the cost of living and we have been asked by the Government to maintain the cost of living. If you want to increase the cost of any material, you have to apply to the Department of Industry and Commerce for sanction. We have to apply to the Department to bring in a differential rents scheme. I do not think tenants who could afford to pay more would object to some small increase in their rents, an increase sufficient to cover the increase in the cost of repairs so that the houses will be maintained in proper condition. No tenant who can afford to pay would object to that. Similarly, if there are any old age pensioners who would suffer hardship through differential rents, they might be relieved. But I would not agree that differential rents should be used to subsidise rates. It is all very well when a family is reared and money flowing in but the father and mother had to go through 16 or 20 years hardship to rear that family, and when they achieve a little prosperity, we do not want the corporation to come along and rake off that prosperity in differential rents.

I appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to convey my ideas to the Minister. He already knows my ideas on housing and the shortage of houses in Kilkenny. My purpose in speaking was to support the Minister in getting money from the Government to relieve the housing shortage, not to embarrass him. I want him to get a share of the money, which I feel is being wasted in other directions, directed to housing. I also asked the Parliamentary Secretary to convey to the Minister the general views of members of the corporation from all Parties and Independents, regarding the present position of the corporation, and I would ask him not to go ahead and divide us.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

[712]Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke I was not present yesterday when some of my colleagues spoke of the North Dublin regional water scheme. I believe great play was made with it. The present Minister is responsible for starting that scheme which is costing about £3.5 million. About 12 miles of the scheme have been carried out and we hope to continue the work until completed. I shall not minimise the urgency of that scheme but during the six years of inter-Party Government, they put nothing on paper and made no promise in regard to it.

We are doing our best but with all the proposed development in North Dublin, especially in the Swords and Donabate areas, we find, despite the original advice we got from our technical people, that the pipe is not large enough and we are awaiting the Myles Wright Report to see what direction future developments take in North Dublin. We have had a number of meetings at planning and general development level and have gone into the matter carefully. We have made good progress and the only thing holding us up is not lack of money but lack of technical advice.

The advice we got originally that a certain type of pipe would be suitable —they were very large pipes; I got through them myself—does not apply now because of the enormous development in North Dublin. We must now get a further report on development plans. We are starting to build new towns in North Dublin. We want water very badly but we cannot go ahead with the scheme unless it will cater for all the needs created by future development.

We are very concerned about this scheme. It is easy to make fun of all this but one does not get consulting engineers or town planners to do a job overnight. We have been pressing them very hard and I intend to continue doing so until we get this Report and are able to say: “We want this particular type of pipe to go ahead with the remainder of the scheme.”

In the past few years under the present Minister we extended water schemes to various parts of County [713] Dublin and while we may not have done enough, we have succeeded in doing something worthwhile in the past four or five years. I hope the Minister will do his best to see that this Myles Wright Report comes to hand as soon as possible so that we can get on with a very urgent job. We need the scheme completed for many reasons with which I shall not bore the House. We want it for general development, for horticulturists and agriculturists and for people living in various towns where the water supply is inadequate.

For these reasons I want to pin down the North Dublin regional water scheme. While this scheme was discussed for many years, we could not get water until Dublin Corporation and the ESB began the Poulaphouca scheme. We also had a number of technical difficulties to overcome. It was a very big effort. A few years after we had taken over government, the economy had been built up again. In 1957 when we took over, there was not the price of a bag of cement left and we proceeded to build up the economy of the nation and to advance sufficiently to be able to sanction water and sewerage schemes not alone in Dublin city and county but throughout the country. If Deputy Seán Collins would listen to me, I can tell him all about it. I do not know what he is mumbling about over there.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins I said that we had to hawk our credit around the world and that the Deputy is talking baloney about money.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin Deputy Collins might allow Deputy Burke to make his speech.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins If he wants to provoke me, he will get it.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke It is so seldom he is here to say anything that I must have patience with him. We have been going ahead with the Dublin regional water scheme and with other schemes and it was no mean act of the Minister to sanction the regional scheme which will cost approximately £3 million. I admit I had been pressing for this scheme before I entered public life but [714] at that time there was no money. As soon as the Minister got the opportunity, he allowed the scheme to go ahead and gave it his blessing. I am grateful to the Minister and I hope we both shall live to see the day when he will come out to see the scheme completed. If Deputy Seán Collins minds himself, I might invite him.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins I suppose he will give us tea and buns.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke Housing is one of the problems on which we are all of one mind. All of us are anxious to see more and more houses built. Great advances have been made in Dublin city and county but we are up against the problem that in both areas the population has increased by more than 70,000. We also had to face the situation that houses were falling down around us. Then the Minister came to our aid and one of the results is to be seen in the very fine township at Ballymun. Things are going along very nicely and the people of Dublin are grateful to the Minister for helping the local authorities to ease the housing situation.

For one reason or another, we were not able to come to grips properly with the housing problem in the city. Among other things, we had a number of bad houses and we had overcrowding. When prosperity came along under Fianna Fáil, the people began to come back from England. During 1965 and 1966——

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte During the holiday period.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke ——people started to come back again when they knew there was a good Government in office and that things were improving. I am making a factual statement. Everybody knows about it, of course, but in case the Opposition might be under a misapprehension, I want to repeat it for them and to remind them again of the good times we are living in by comparison with the times they left us in 1957. At that time they left 350 houses unfinished at Santry and a number of contractors overnight had to go to [715] Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. Now, though I admit there is a shortage of money, the Minister for Local Government is doing the job very well. He has not let things get out of hand as they did in 1956 when there was no money for anything. At that time a Bill was introduced providing that a man earning £10 or £11 a week must make his own arrangements to build his house. I hope we will never go through such a situation again.

Money has become scarce in England and other European countries, and even in the great United States. Though money has become a bit scarce here, the Minister has been handling the job well. If he had not, we would have mass unemployment and all our housing schemes would have been shut down completely. Naturally if the Minister had enough money, we could build more houses and do a lot of other things. With the present Minister, we are pushing an open door. He has been pressing local authorities to build more and more houses and to acquire more land and develop it.

Dublin Corporation have been easing the situation in relation to their priority list for housing. I remember the time a few years ago when a man had to have five children to qualify. That has been adjusted now to three children and, with God's help, we will see it improved further so that a man with two children will qualify. At the moment fewer of our people are going away. There was a time when we had 1,800 houses vacant, 1,000 houses vacant and so on. That day has gone and fewer of our people are leaving. I hope the economic winds will blow favourably for the Minister so that more money will be available for housing in the near future. Houses are more important than hospitals because it is no use treating people in hospitals if they have to return to bad houses.

I am very concerned about the scheme of tenant purchase. I am anxious that every corporation tenant should be able to purchase his house. There are such schemes throughout the [716] country and they have proved a great advantage to the people concerned. Owing their houses encourages them to be better citizens, gives them a greater sense of responsibility and a new pride in keeping their houses in good order. In Dublin, we pay £500,000 a year towards maintenance of our 40,000 corporation houses. About 5,000 corporation tenants have purchased their houses and I should like to see the day when more of our tenants can do so. I appeal to the Minister and to the City Manager to do everything possible to bring this about. It is possible that some tenant purchasers might abuse the scheme by selling their houses but most of them will not.

In the matter of roads, great progress has been made in County Dublin during the past few years. Twenty years ago some of the roads leading from Dublin were no better than prairie tracks. If I wished to travel from one end of the city to the other in a hurry, I could not do so because if a heavy truck were being driven in front of me, there was not room to overtake it. People will say we are spending too much money on roads and ask why we do not switch it to something else. This expenditure is long overdue. Dublin County Council are 20 years behind the times in regard to roadmaking. The Bray road should have been completed years ago but pressure groups protested and said the road that was there was all right. That road has been responsible for numerous accidents. It is a very dangerous road. Since I became a member of the Council of Europe, I take a keen interest in the way they keep the roads there. The roads are a credit to them. I would urge upon the Minister no matter what our financial position is, to carry on, within reason. with the making of main roads out of the city of Dublin.

Another thing of which I am in favour—and I see it on the Continent also—is the by-passing of towns. I travelled in the north of England and I was told that where towns are bypassed, the trade improves, because people will go in there and park their cars. On the main roads, one may not [717] pull up. I hope the Minister will follow this pattern as regards towns in north and south Dublin, and especially on the road to Bray.

In ten years time we shall have ten or 15 per cent more cars on the road. Where I live in Santry, I find that, especially on a fine evening in the summertime, unless I have the car out and facing in the right direction, I cannot get out at all. If we are to cope with future traffic, greater road development is essential.

I should also like to see the roads lined where they are wide enough. Some people will keep to the centre of the road although the road might be wide enough for two cars. If the road were lined, they would have to keep in on their own side. While it might be a little more expensive to do that, it could prevent the tragic accidents that occur from time to time.

Any support we can give the Minister and his Department on road safety we should give. I was at the funeral of two unfortunate boys aged 18 and 20 years who were killed on Saturday night last at Hart's Corner. It is appalling the number of young and old people who are killed every day. A lot of it has to do with bad manners on the road. Passing out other cars is a matter of life or death for some people. They want to do it in all circumstances, even if they are in a line of traffic. They have no regard for themselves or anybody else. People should take the numbers of cars of people who display bad road manners. We should be more public-spirited in this regard. In France they have set up courts on roads and done a lot of other things like that. If the people who have bad road manners realise there is somebody watching them and that they will be penalised if they do something wrong, it may improve their manners. People will say drink is the cause of most accidents. There are many other causes. There are people who think they can do anything they like on the roads, turn into other roads without giving signals and so on. Such people are a danger to themselves and to everybody else.

The Minister dealt with the question of lifesaving. God be with the days [718] when I used to be in the swim. I was 12 years secretary of a swimming club, and I must say my health improved when I was swimming. Every encouragement should be given to lifesaving. Many people along our shores, in rivers and other places, lose their lives because they are not able to swim.

I know housing is more important but some thought should be given to the erection of swimming pools. There is no use in talking about a big swimming pool. We have had a lot of discussion in Dublin Corporation about swimming pools. Instead of a swimming pool costing up to £100,000 being built in one area, I would prefer the idea suggested first by the Department of Local Government and the Minister that a number of smaller pools would be provided, even of the type that has been built in Longford. More would be achieved in that way. People might say that the pools were not sufficiently large for a populous area. I consider that they would be sufficiently large.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte See that they are better than the one in Templemore.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke The Longford pool is very good.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins There is a bit of a leakage in Templemore.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey That is unfair.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins It comes under a different Minister.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke I am dealing with the city and county of Dublin. I would not dare go as far away as Templemore from my constituency.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins Not half. There will be a few by-elections. Cheer up.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke To have a number of smaller swimming pools would be more advantageous than having one large pool. It is of no use to erect a large swimming pool in a large area in the city and say that other areas must wait 20 years before being provided with a pool. If a pool of the type provided in Longford were [719] erected in big housing schemes, whether privately or by the corporation, they would be of great advantage to the people. All swimming pools should be heated. I have no regard for the old type of swimming pool which consisted of a hole in the ground filled with cold water.

I dealt with the question of estates last night and therefore will not take up the time of the House in dealing with that matter again. In areas where there are no playing pitches the residents are anxious to acquire sites for amenity schemes. I shall not press the Minister too hard because I realise that he is most anxious that that should be done. When times improve, I hope he will have regard to this matter. I would like to play football but I have got down to serious work and have not the time. May I introduce a European note into the discussion ?

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke Last year I took the European Flag to Kinsale, where it was very much appreciated by the people. Castlebar has applied to have the European Flag next year. The matter will come before a sub-committee next March and if I am alive, I will try to get the flag for Castlebar. I shall not delay on this matter but it does concern the Minister for Local Government. The idea of the European Flag should be developed. Ireland has made many friends through various delegates over the years to the Council of Europe. The delegates have done a very good job there.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan How is the Minister concerned ?

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke It is a local government affair in the Council of Europe. The Minister sent a representative to the last local authorities conference in Strasbourg, in June.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey That would not prove it was relevant.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke I should like to see [720] more towns applying to have the flag and developing the European idea as we have been trying to do in applying for admission to the Common Market, and so on. The conference also dealt with the question of town twinning, that is, a town in Ireland would twin with a town in any part of Europe. That idea is developing in Europe and in England. These are matters of a European flavour which I wanted to mention as means of creating a spirit of goodwill and harmony and of eliminating misunderstanding. Some other time I will give a lecture on the subject of my travels in Europe, and we will put Deputy seán Collins in the Chair and then he will not be able to interrupt.

I want to put on the record of the House that we wish to congratulate the Secretary of the Department of Local Government, Mr. Lawless, and hope that we will have him with us for many a day and also heartily to congratulate Mr. Garvin who has retired and who has been a very worthy Secretary and a great public official. We wish him many years of health and happiness.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey That is a personal tribute.

Mr. P.J. Burke: Information on Patrick J. Burke Zoom on Patrick J. Burke It is, yes.

Mr. Tierney: Information on Patrick Tierney Zoom on Patrick Tierney First, I should like to draw the Minister's attention to the question of housing in North Tipperary. We were always led to believe that any Government other than Fianna Fáil were short of money but that the Fianna Fáil Government had an abundance of money. We find in North Tipperary, in Thurles, Roscrea, Nenagh and in the rural areas, a waiting list of at least 200 priority cases for housing. All members of the county council, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour, were anxious that the houses should be provided. We have complaints from the county council officials that there has been long and undue delay in the Minister's Department in sanctioning proposals for the houses. Maybe a window was two inches too high or three inches too long. The county council make the adjustment [721] and send the plans back. It is four or five months before we get a reply back from the Department maybe refusing sanction or putting another obstacle in the way.

An example is the Bulfin Road scheme where we set a large number of houses to a contractor. We gave him a guarantee we would give him 13 houses in the same area at the same price. At that time we were working on the undertaking the Minister had given North Tipperary County Council in regard to long-term planning. We did plan in the long term, but then we discovered the Minister had refused sanction. We were on the verge of letting the contractor go and disappointing the people waiting for houses. Then we sent a deputation to Dublin to meet the Minister. I was rather surprised at that deputation when the Minister suggested we were not so bad in regard to housing in North Tipperary since the Silvermines people were building houses and would sub-let them to the people in the Bulfin Road area. However, I must congratulate the Minister. He has changed his mind on that and has sanctioned the Bulfin Road scheme, and the contractor we engaged is to complete it.

The people of Ireland knew there was a shortage of money. I believe the majority of them would have accepted that, and accepted the need for a slowing down in housing, if the Minister had said so publicly. But instead of making a clear statement of that kind week after week, when questions were put to him here in Dáil Éireann, he denied there was any shortage of money for housing or that there were any long delays in his Department. He made the case a lot worse for Deputies and county councillors on all sides. They read his statements that the money was there but that they were not doing their work properly and were holding on to plans for so long that they were the cause of the delay.

At present there is a long list of water and sewerage schemes and housing projects from us awaiting sanction. There is no use in my going back to North Tipperary and telling the [722] people they are held up in the Department or that the Department have no money to meet them. When the Minister concludes in this debate, they will read in tomorrow's papers there was never more money at the disposal of the county council. That is not a fact, and the Minister knows it. In future, Ministers and Deputies should be straight with the people. The Irish people will accept that and meet them half-way.

I wish to refer to a problem concerning road workers in North Tipperary. I do not know whether it affects any other county. Our road workers are waiting for the last increase—the increase given to every worker in the country except county council workers and forestry workers. I am led to believe the Minister has refused to sanction the increase to the county council workers in North Tipperary. When a wage increase is awarded, private employers have to pay it. Yet we see Government bodies giving increases of up to £30 or £40 a week to their higher-paid officials but refusing to give the road workers the last increase of £1. The Minister may say he is agreeable but that he does not want the increase to be retrospective to a certain date. He is giving the workers a very raw deal. At present they are getting a very small wage. If he has not already done so in the past few days, he should notify North Tipperary County Council he will now give the increase retrospective from 1st April last. My council are prepared to go to the people of North Tipperary to meet that increase. The county manager is willing to pay from May but I understand the Minister does not want to pay until June. I hope the Minister will clarify the matter within the next few days.

Recently we awarded a contract for a sewerage scheme in the town of Roscrea costing around £200,000. There have been complaints to the Department both by the people of Roscrea and by the fishermen of North Tipperary concerning the discharge of refuse into the Brosna River. I am led to believe that the £200,000 expended with the Minister's sanction has been a waste. When I raised this matter at the county council, I was told I was [723] not right in doing so because negotiations were going on with the contractor and by raising it, I might hamper them. I was informed that the county council were now going to complete the work.

There is not proper supervision of these larger schemes. Whether it is at Departmental level or county council level, I do not know. In regard to the Roscrea scheme, I am told that during the two weeks' holiday a contractor, who should not be a contractor under local government law, put in 400 tons of stones when there was no clerk of works and no workman on the site. The contract was supposed to be for washed stone. I am led to believe these stones were brought in from the head-lands and ditches with clay on them and piled into the reservoir, with the result that now, at the present time, the sewerage from Roscrea is flowing as strongly into the River Brosna as ever it was. I should like the Minister to inquire more closely into that.

I do not know if the Minister has any great function regarding the supply of water for cottiers. I have a feeling that North Tipperary County Council have failed completely in the matter of supplying water for isolated cottages. Up to some years ago, we used to provide money for pumps where there was no regional water supply. We have no regional water supply in North Tipperary but when we were thinking of adopting it, we used to allocate a certain amount of money per annum for pumps but that money has been cut out for the past six years or so and we have people drawing water out of quarries, and so on, for distances maybe up to a mile. It is a North Tipperary problem and it is not altogether the Minister's problem. Could he, at least, bring in some scheme to compel county councils to provide a water supply for the rural areas?

On the subject of new driving licences, I am informed that the scheme for qualification for a provisional licence is misleading inasmuch as a person who submitted to the test told me has was asked the different road signs and all the usual questions. In my view, a lot of the accidents that have happened in recent years in this [724] country never happen at dangerous bends or on a crooked road. All the major accidents happen on roads that have cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. I often wonder if that money which has been spent on our roads and on making some of them into racing tracks would not more usefully have been spent on housing in Dublin, Cork, Tipperary and elsewhere.

Take, for example, the road from Nenagh to Limerick city. Since the Department have done that road, more people have been killed on it than were killed on it since the motor car came into existence. It is now a case of one or two every month. Take the place where those poor unfortunate people were killed between Naas and New-bridge. The accident happened on the widest part of that road where there was a clear view for perhaps three-quarters of a mile. These things happen, I suppose, more through speeding than anything else. I often wonder if we are wise to devote so much money to making racing tracks for a certain type of individual. I admit that people are driving cars, and always will, who have road sense, but no matter what kind of restriction is imposed regarding driving licences, we will nevertheless meet characters who, when they get a good road, want to see what the car will do. A strict test for a driving licence will not cope with that problem and I would ask the Minister to reconsider the strictness of the test.

In this year of 1966, I think the age for driving a tractor should be lowered. Every young boy in rural Ireland who is working for a farmer or for his father can drive a tractor in the fields and on the roads, if he is not caught, from the time he is nine or ten years of age. I know that people will say that if you reduce the age for driving a tractor, you will have more accidents and more deaths, but I do not think so. This is the machine age and things are not as they were 40 or 50 years ago on our farms. I have seen farmers' sons driving at the age of nine and ten years, and good little drivers they were. At the same time, I am not advocating that age but I think the age for a tractor driving licence should be reduced by at least a couple of years.

[725] I want to thank the Minister again for the Bulfin Road scheme. He has now rectified the mistake that was made.

I would ask the Minister, or whoever will succeed him, to give the Irish people at least the credit of having a small bit of intelligence and not to state that more money is being spent on housing this year than was spent last year and the year before that. We all know that a house that cost only £900 or £1,000 two years ago now costs £1,800 or £1,900. Furthermore, the Minister should be honest with the people in relation to the shortage of capital. Tell the people that, due to circumstances over which we have no control, or due to a blunder—nobody will admit to a blunder —the position is not favourable at the moment: tell them the truth. The people will accept an honest evaluation of the facts and Teachtaí Dála and county councillors will not then be pressed by people in relation to matters which cannot be tackled at the moment owing to our stringent financial position.

Mr. Governey: Information on Desmond Governey Zoom on Desmond Governey After five days of this debate, there is very little more that can be said on housing. I want to draw the attention of the Minister to the position that obtains in Carlow which is no different, I think, from that in any other county in this country. On numerous occasions we have heard Deputies speak of houses falling down on the people in Dublin. One does not have to come to Dublin to see even that. At a meeting of Carlow County Council on Monday last, the council asked the manager for permission to build a prefabricated house for a family as the council was not prepared to allow them to stay any longer in a dangerous house. Carlow County Council are waiting for sanction for the erection of 60 to 70 houses which are badly needed. I can well understand the Minister's position due to financial difficulties and, like other Deputies, I think the actual financial position should be made plain to the people.

Mr. P. Brennan: Information on Patrick Brennan Zoom on Patrick Brennan And was it not? [726] Did the Minister not indicate to each local authority in April last the amount of money they would have this year ?

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte How little they would have, not how much.

Mr. P. Brennan: Information on Patrick Brennan Zoom on Patrick Brennan How little or how much, it is all the same.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte It is not all the same.

Mr. Governey: Information on Desmond Governey Zoom on Desmond Governey He did not tell the local authorities that they would not have the amount of money they required to build the houses which are needed. It is all very fine producing a document of this size with a great quantity of writing in it but it provides no consolation for a Deputy who still finds that there are people in his constituency living in overcrowded conditions. I know of one case in the town of Carlow; there are 17 people living in one urban council house. I appreciate the difficulties in which the Government find themselves and I am sure the Minister has tried to persuade the Cabinet to give him all the money he wants for housing, but he has not succeeded in getting it. That is my complaint.

With regard to reconstruction grants, over the past 12 months, and even before that, there has been delay in the payment of these grants. People who have carried out reconstruction work have got credit from local traders and have had to wait for payment of the money due to them by the county council. That waiting was due to the fact that the money did not come down in time. These honest people, who were anxious to pay their way, got a bad name with the traders who were giving them credit and, all the time, it was the Department and the county council who should have shouldered the blame. That has happened on numerous occasions. People have had to wait for their money and traders, who could ill afford to do so, have likewise had to wait for their accounts. Something should be done to solve that problem.

With regard to housing, with all the new methods of taxation—the turnover [727] tax and so on, and two Budgets in one year—surely the Government should at some stage have enough money to house the people ? The people are taxed to the hilt. One wonders where all the money collected in taxation is going. I have a feeling that the money is not going in the right direction. The first duty of the Government and the Minister is to house the people properly.

With regard to water supply schemes, the Parliamentary Secretary opened our regional water supply scheme during the year. There are other areas in which group schemes are the solution. In one area the people got together three years ago to start a group scheme; inspectors came down and inspected the source; another source was suggested; the thing was thrown around until it is only now the scheme is getting off the ground. That is the sort of thing that is happening all the time.

An earlier speaker tonight mentioned failures in driving tests. According to the Minister's statement, there are 49 per cent of failures out of 35,000 applicants. If that 49 per cent take out a provisional licence in order to do the test a second time, £17,150 is collected in that way alone. I do not know if there are enough testers but I know of a case in which a person took out a provisional licence and paid her £1. She gave notice six weeks before her provisional licence expired that she was ready to do the test. Before she was called to do the test, her licence had expired. In the meantime, tests had been carried out in the town but that particular applicant was left with no alternative but to pay another £1 for another provisional licence. There must be tests and they must be rigid. There are still too many accidents on the roads. We in Carlow County Council have co-operated with the Minister in every way in relation to the road safety campaign and all of us should stress at every possible opportunity the importance of safety on our roads.

With regard to town planning, whilst there is necessity for planning, I think we are going a little too far and there [728] is too much of an element of dictation in this regard.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins Hear, hear.

Mr. Governey: Information on Desmond Governey Zoom on Desmond Governey In my town a person applied for permission to erect an electric sign to advertise his business. The local authority turned him down. He was a day or two late with his appeal to the Minister. He applied again to the local authority and he was again turned down. He appealed to the Minister and he was turned down on appeal. I can bring the Minister, or his Parliamentary Secretary, or anyone else, into the town of Carlow and show him the neon signs over various premises. But this man was deprived of the opportunity of advertising his business. That is going a little too far with town planning. There are signs all over the place and just one extra sign is refused. I should be anxious to know at some stage the number of appeals to the Minister and the number that have been reversed by him.

Mr. P. Brennan: Information on Patrick Brennan Zoom on Patrick Brennan About 50 per cent.

Mr. Larkin: Information on Denis Larkin Zoom on Denis Larkin A great many of them should never have been reversed.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte A significant figure. That was almost the result in the Presidential election.

Mr. Governey: Information on Desmond Governey Zoom on Desmond Governey We are, I think, going a little too far in this.

Mr. P. Brennan: Information on Patrick Brennan Zoom on Patrick Brennan What is the point then in having appeals?

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte Why are the reasons not given?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Patrick Hogan Zoom on Patrick Hogan Order.

Mr. Governey: Information on Desmond Governey Zoom on Desmond Governey I spoke about housing at the outset. We all know how bad is the need for housing and that it must be a first priority.

Another matter I would like to raise, and which has been raised by several other Deputies, is the matter of swimming pools. In the town of Carlow in 1965, the people had the foresight to collect money for the maintenance of a swimming pool, the [729] erection of which they expected would be sanctioned by the Department. People went around voluntarily and collected over £5,000 for the maintennance of this pool. On 14th December, 1965, I asked the Minister when it was hoped to sanction the plans which had been submitted for the swimming pool and the reply was that the Minister could not say when a decision would be reached on the proposed swimming pool, the plans for which were being examined at that time in his Department. Work on that swimming pool has not yet started. As far as I remember, the Minister at that stage proposed a prototype pool and when I mentioned that it was not suitable, I received an answer to the effect that some people had more money than sense.

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte Zoom on Patrick D. Harte That cannot be said of the Government.

Mr. Governey: Information on Desmond Governey Zoom on Desmond Governey The people are still waiting for sanction for the pool. I know that when there is no money available for houses, the Minister will probably not be in a position to give money for a swimming pool but——

Mr. P. Brennan: Information on Patrick Brennan Zoom on Patrick Brennan Exactly.

Mr. Governey: Information on Desmond Governey Zoom on Desmond Governey ——I would ask him at least to sanction the plans which were sent up from Carlow Urban District Council——


Mr. P. Brennan: Information on Patrick Brennan Zoom on Patrick Brennan We will pay as we go: that is one sure thing. That is more than you people did.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins They have only two speeds, dead slow and stop.

Mr. Governey: Information on Desmond Governey Zoom on Desmond Governey I do not speak very often and I am not in the habit of interrupting, and I would not expect to be interrupted by the Parliamentary Secretary.

Mr. P. Brennan: Information on Patrick Brennan Zoom on Patrick Brennan I am sorry.

Mr. Governey: Information on Desmond Governey Zoom on Desmond Governey The Department have had these plans since 1965 and all I am asking for is their approval so that in Carlow we will know that when money does become available, [730] we will at least be certain that we will have this pool, that we will have the type of pool we want and that we will be assured that we will not be left in the queue when the money is available because we insisted on this type of pool rather than the prototype.

Mr. Larkin: Information on Denis Larkin Zoom on Denis Larkin Christmas is coming.

Mr. Governey: Information on Desmond Governey Zoom on Desmond Governey In conclusion, I would again appeal to the Minister to do everything possible to sanction at the earliest possible date the applications for housing in my town and county and I also appeal to him to sanction this swimming pool. As it has been considered since 1965, somebody by now must have made up his mind.

Mr. Geoghegan: Information on John Geoghegan Zoom on John Geoghegan It is not my intention to speak for very long because those who have spoken already have really covered every point in regard to town planning, local government administration and everything else. However, I feel it my duty to add my voice to what has been said in regard to town planning. I agree that town planning had to come but the way it is being implemented calls for some comment. Some 12 months ago on this Estimate, I asked the Minister to call every county engineer in the country up to his Department, to take them province by province, if necessary, to meet the senior officials of the Department and himself in order to come to some agreement in regard to plans for nearly everywhere so that a person would know how he was going to get on.

There is one aspect of town and regional planning which I feel hits one section of the community more than another and that is the section of the community living on islands around our coast. Perhaps we have more islands off the west coast, and especially off Galway, than any other constituency and with more inhabitants on them.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins I have a good few.

Mr. Geoghegan: Information on John Geoghegan Zoom on John Geoghegan In such cases, in regard to town and regional planning, there should be a conference between the Minister's Department, the Local Government engineer under his jurisdiction, and the Gaeltacht engineer under the jurisdiction of the Minister for the Gaeltacht. If an applicant [731] wishes to build a new house under the Roinn na Gaeltachta scheme, he gets a plan and there should be no need for him to send a site plan looking for planning permission, or outline permission, to build on whatever piece of land he has on an island. If an applicant is going to build a house under the grant given by the Department of Local Government, the same applies. In the first place, an applicant must state how many feet he is back from the centre of the main road or broad and if he is not back a certain number of feet, he will not get sanction to build. There should be some co-operation between the two engineers, the applicant and the Department, so that a man would not have to give a site plan so that he can build a house on an island.

We have the three islands of Aran and for several days or weeks in the year, it is very difficult to land on at least two of them. If you land on one of the islands and if the sea plays up, you may have to spend a week or two there. Any sensible person will say to himself that no engineer will go out there to draw up site plans or housing plans for those people if there is a danger that he may be caught there and has to stay on the island for the night. It would be sufficient if arrangements were made by the local authority engineer and the two other engineers, the Gaeltacht engineer in charge of Gaeltacht house planning and the Local Government engineer in charge of house planning so that permission could be given to applicants when they visited him. This would avoid the engineer having to go out to the islands. The person on the island would obtain permission on the spot and would then be able to go ahead with the new buildings without submitting any more plans.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins Sound man.

Mr. Geoghegan: Information on John Geoghegan Zoom on John Geoghegan It is the only sensible thing for any authority to do. This would be giving justice to those people. A lot has been said here about the lining of roads, warnings, corners and that type of thing. I feel that the Minister for Local Government should impress on the local authority in Galway to instal traffic lights at all [732] the bad corners in the city in order to carry the traffic through safely. There have been a lot of accidents in the city over the past six months. The roads are lined by the local authority. I often ask myself: “If an accident takes place and one vehicle is slightly over the line and the other vehicle is well within its own rights but the line is not in the centre of the road, who is responsible?” That is a fair question to ask the Department of Local Government. If an accident takes place and the line is not properly on the centre of the road, who is responsible? It is the local authority who put the line there, or the man who is slightly over the line?

There is a question I would like the Minister to look into, and that is, the matter of town and regional planning, especially around cities. You have applicants from around the city boundary—I know of them in Galway —many of whom try to get on with the building of new houses but who are often refused permission. They get the refusal from the local authority, who say that there is not enough soakage and they cannot allow any more septic tanks. They ask the applicant to get more ground and perhaps he will get permission. It is asking too much when you ask him to provide two acres of ground. If the local authority have a sewerage system that you can sink from the site where the person is building a house, and he cannot get permission, then there is something wrong with the local authority. The local authority should be able to sink a sewerage system out to where building is taking place. I feel permission should be given within reason.

That was my only reason for intervening in this debate. I would sincerely ask the Minister, to come back to my first request, to investigate town and regional planning as it affects applicants, and also to give the people living on islands some chance. It is hard enough for them to get concrete blocks, cement, sand, timber and other building materials, without being held up for building permission. It is not easy, even if he is willing, to get an engineer to land on an island when he is not sure he will get off again. I [733] should like to join with my friend, Deputy Burke, in his last remark, that is, to congratulate the new secretary of the Department of Local Government. He is a west of Ireland man and I feel he will give sound judgment in the cases which come before him.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey I do not intend to delay the House very long with what I have to say. I have listened to the debate and, in my absence, I have studied the contributions that have been made. They have been very interesting and very valuable indeed. They have covered a wide field in relation to the authority of the Minister, but I must say, coming from a particularly built-up area, from the city of Cork, that, with all due respect to the previous speaker, the difficulties the speaks of in respect of road lines and septic tanks, must, to us, take second place to the grave problem the two major centres, Dublin and Cork, experience in respect of housing.

I should like to urge strongly on the Minister, before he addresses himself to what I might refer to as minor problems, that he should come back on the lines and address himself to the obligation which he appears to have forgotten, the matter of re-housing our people in the city of Cork, the city of Dublin and the built-up areas generally. When I say that I say it in the sense that that is his job and we will not thank him for addressing himself to that problem. That is his major job. If I may suggest, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, the Minister and the Government have a miserable record in this regard.

Instead of devoting himself to matters we regard as footy-footy matters, he appears to have no concern at all for the very grave problem of re-housing our people who are living in hovels, flats and slums. If anything should be noted regarding his activities, it is that there has been a breakdown with regard to local authorities in this regard. I do not want to be personally offensive to the Minister. Indeed, far be that from me, but any member of any local authority, and indeed any member of Cork Corporation, in particular, including [734] Deputies sitting behind him, and councillors who are supporters of his Party, will vouch for the frustration which we have known in this regard.

I remember, when I had the honour previously of being Lord Mayor of Cork during the period of the inter-Party Government, I was upbraided every night by the people sitting opposite now. The present Minister for Finance upbraided the inter-Party Government for not supplying the funds to build sufficient houses in the city of Cork and we had Deputy Jack Lynch, as he then was, coming in moving motions condemning the Government, the then Minister for Finance and the then Minister for Local Government for not providing the funds which ran to the extent, at that stage, of £750,000. We have no such motions now and no such money. We have nothing like the money that was being provided then for the building of local authority houses but there were plenty of motions condemning the Government and condemning me as Lord Mayor of Cork. I want to place on record now that there was more money available then for the building of local authority houses in the city of Cork than there is at the present moment and we have no such resolutions from the Fianna Fáil Party either in this House or in Cork Corporation.

Quite candidly, Sir, I do not want to make political capital out of this and I do not think any member of Cork Corporation, whether a member of my Party, the Fine Gael Party or the Fianna Fáil Party, would wish to do so. Every member of our City Council is anxious to build houses——

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins Hear, hear.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey ——and certainly I do not want to score a political point. I want to speak on behalf of all of us. Seeing that the Government supporters are so silent, I think I might speak on their behalf as well as on behalf of every person in Cork City Council. We need thousands of houses and the fact of the matter is that by reason of the financial situation of the Government at the moment, there is no money to build houses.

[735]Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan Zoom on Fintan Coogan Hear, hear.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey We have been prudent men, as Corkmen are usually prudent. We have acquired plenty of sites. We have no shortage of labour to build houses. We have our plans drawn up. All we need is the go-ahead, the indication from the Minister that the money is there to proceed with our plans, but, of course, we are not getting that. The Minister is not brave enough to stand up and say: “Look, you cannot proceed with your housing programme in Cork because we have no money.” He is not brave enough to say that. Any time I pick up the newspaper I read that he makes statements somewhere or other—at some chamber of commerce dinner—that there is more money being provided this year than ever before. We would like to see the proof of the pudding. In other words, we in Cork Corporation would like the Minister to say to us: “All right, go ahead with that scheme of 600 houses I so seriously interfered with not very long ago.” Perhaps I should explain to you, Sir, and to the House, that we had a very well designed scheme of house building. We took the precaution over the years that we would never be short of land on which to build houses. We acquired the land well in advance so that at no stage would we be short of land on the perimeter of Cork city. We went further and got our planners to design the schemes and everything was well advanced.

We cannot be accused, as has been insinuated by one of the Minister's advisers elsewhere, that we fell down on the job. We had acquired the land, schemes designed and the labour available to build houses and then the Minister, in no sinister way but ill-advised by somebody, intervened to say that he thought we should introduce the system building scheme, and he went to the trouble, and we are grateful to him for it, of coming down to address us in relation to the Glen-Ryan/Assumption Road area where we had planned to build 600 houses. I think the Minister was well-intentioned. I do not mind saying that were it not for the stupid advice he got from [736] somebody and the stupid advice he conveyed to us on that occasion in Cork Corporation, we would now be well forward in the completion of 600 houses and, God knows, we require 2,700 houses in the city of Cork, but the Minister, ill-advised as he was, intervened and we, stupidly enough, accepted his word. The net result is that, whereas the Minister said he would immediately undertake the erection of these 600 houses and could do it by system building much more quickly than we could, there is not a brick on a brick.

The land is there but there is no house. The Minister, and his advisers, are still talking about it and exchanging correspondence but my constituents, whom I meet every day, are living in hovels and garrets. It is no use for me to say to Mr. Patrick Murphy when he comes in and tells me he has a wife suffering from tuberculosis and three ailing children and that he is living over a pub and cannot get a pram up there, poor consolation for him, that the Minister for Local Government many moons ago told Cork Corporation that he could build houses more quickly than we could build them and that we were foolish enough to accept that statement? Can you imagine my explaining all that to that man and can you imagine him going back to his wife and explaining that to her? Quite obviously—I can see it now but I did not see it then —the fact of the matter is that with the limited amount of money available for the building of local authority houses the Minister had to resort to some gimmick to deny Cork Corporation their rightful share of whatever moneys were available.

The Minister should be brave enough and man enough to stand up and say to the House and to the country: “Look, the position is so and so; we have not the money available that we would like to make available: we have not the money which local authorities require and we have not money available to carry out the promises we made at the last general election.” I remember quite well, as does every Deputy, the slogan at the hustings at the last general election: [737]“Let Lemass lead on”; “Prosperity is around the corner.”

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan Zoom on Fintan Coogan He is going to resign now.

Mr. Casey: Information on Seán Casey Zoom on Seán Casey “If you want a house vote Fianna Fáil.”“If you want El Dorado, vote Fianna Fáil.”“If you want heaven on this earth, vote Fianna Fáil.” I can assure the Minister that, in respect of the administration of his Department, the people are —to put it most charitably—more than disappointed. I have in my room in this House my housing file for the city of Cork. I would not mind showing to the Minister for his edification and, perhaps, his education, the list of living conditions of the people who have called on me seeking rehousing in the city of Cork. I presume they do not all call on me—most of them do— but it would be a revelation for him. Or, if the Minister could spare one of his officers some day to come down to the City Hall to me, I will show him the cases authenticated by the Medical Officer for Health in the city of Cork as to the conditions in which some of our people are living. If there is anything upon which all of us, of all Parties, in Cork Corporation over the years are united, it is in our efforts to endeavour to rehouse these people.

Then we have the Minister, misguided by his advisers, asking us to stop building 600 houses, which we would have been progressing with now because he has a scheme and he would build them overnight. I think the Minister should have a look at this; I think he was fooled by the boys in the Department of Finance and he succeeded in fooling us. He cannot retrieve the situation in which we now find ourselves but I would appeal to him, even at this very late stage, to regard it as a lesson in his relationship with the Department of Finance and never again be fooled or, if he is fooled, to say so and not try to fool us. The situation is that the Minister has never admitted he made fools of us, as he did—not deliberately; I am stressing that—he made fools of Cork Corporation, of the people of [738] Cork and, worst of all, he made fools of the unfortunate people waiting for rehousing.

I said I would confine myself to that point. I hope it will sink into the Minister's head, that he will believe I have made a genuine contribution here and that he will look after it.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins There is no doubt at all that this debate is overshadowed by the difficulties which have escalated into real crisis proportions in relation to rehousing throughout the State. While I do not in any way wish to interfere with the problems of my Labour colleague, Deputy Casey, living as I do within the perimeter of the city of Cork, I know perfectly well how serious the situation is and, if authentication were necessary, it would certainly be forthcoming from me that the situation, as described by our Lord Mayor, is absolutely true. While it is a tremendous problem in the city of Cork, it is no less a problem in many of the isolated areas, particularly in many parts of my constituency, in the áiteanna iargcúlta where every possible contribution which can be made in the way of housing and social amenities becomes a priority because we have to try to arrest the flow of emigration from these areas which are so susceptible to it.

I am a little chagrined that any Minister should have the effrontery to try to cover up a situation in which no suggestion of additional money is appreciated by local authorities or by the people seeking rehousing because they know perfectly well that, in fact, the moneys being made available this year will do less and considerably less for rehousing than the moneys contributed before. We know prices have escalated in an alarming way. We know that over the past couple of years the costs of building have become extremely high and that the amount of money necessary to finance a building scheme has accordingly, and in proportion, increased.

There is no satisfaction in going back to your constituents and the Minister's colleagues behind him know that as well as I do. They have read some charming statement by the Minister which means Sweet Fanny Adam and [739] they try to persuade you that now the road is clear. You go back to the local authority, to the various central authorities and you find the situation is still the same. There is not only a deadlock in relation to planning and sanction but there are, as I have said emphatically, only two speeds appreciated by the Department of Local Government—dead slow and stop. The real explanation is, of course, that the financial situation, to the knowledge of all of us, was extremely difficult. But had we been a little more honest about that, had we got a more realistic spirit of goodwill and co-operation into this House, based on honesty, we might have been able to tackle the problem with less vituperation, with less condemnation than we now do.

There is no way out of it. No Ministerial utterances, no slavish repetition by the Minister's henchmen will alter the fact that the people who are actually seeking grants, housing loans, various sanctions in connection with private building, and the local authorities in connection with their public buildings, are experiencing delays, frustration and there is a completely detrimental situation where the morale of these people seeking rehousing is slowly being undermined. I know, and everybody listening to me knows, how frustration can build up in an unfortunate family with three, four, five, six, seven and, in some cases, eight children in dire need of rehousing. We know how that frustration can lead to all kinds of social abuse and difficulty, and the responsibility for that can always be laid fairly and strongly on the maladministration, lack of cohesion, lack of co-ordination and lack of effort in the Department of Local Government.

I am fundamentally a progressive thinker; I am fundamentally somebody who wants to go along with advances, who wants to go along with new methods. Despite the fact that we have many new developments in building techniques, many new labour-saving devices, many new prestressed methods of construction, we are still lagging behind in any worthwhile, house production to meet the grave [740] necessity, the grave urgency and the grave moral duty there is on this House to give our people habitable and decent conditions in which to live. If we seek to establish a law-abiding and worthwhile society in this country, surely it is our social and moral duty, as rapidly as possible, to provide proper hygienic housing conditions for our people, irrespective of class or creed.

One of the big difficulties is that we do not get our sense of values, our sense of priorities right. While I may argue and will argue on another Estimate in connection with the many things that are not being done in regard to agriculture, there is one thing on which we can find agreement: this House will be unanimous in making money available to deal with the problem of housing. Whether it be in Dublin city or Cork city or in other parts of rural Ireland where the immediate urgency merits a priority, I think we could get unanimity of purpose and strength of co-operation in this House to divert money even temporarily from other developments to get housing under way, to get it tackled realistically, with some real possibility of reaching a solution.

We all know that in the development of modern society the Government have to find more and more of the capital as well as more and more of the current money to keep the big services going. I do not think anyone in this House would cavil if something extra were given to alleviate the problems of those people who are living in hovels, in animalistic conditions, in some cases in surroundings worse than the cow byres or outhouses on our farms. Whole families are living in virtually roofless houses, in conditions so primitive as to be very nearly incredible. I do not think anyone would cavil if the Government gave them priority in the matter of housing. At the same time, the Government must encourage with every possible injection of finance and drive, those people who are prepared to undertake the building of their own houses with grants and SDA loans.

I know perfectly well that the Minister [741] is not in charge of the till but he can take it from the trend of this debate that in so far as he wants encouragement to raid the till, he will have the support of all sections of this House so that he can get on with the job that is so necessary. Strangely enough, I do not think the Minister himself likes the fact that there are so many of these delays and so many of what I would describe as the spurious queries—I am glad the Department officials are here because I want to repeat emphatically “spurious queries”—of the engineers and the so-called experts which go hither and thither between the local authority and the Department. They are people with equal qualifications and of equal merit and the engineer is on the spot and has more knowledge and more appreciation of the situation than the gentleman who is in a more authoritative position sitting in a luxurious armchair and superintending the plans.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin The Deputy should address the Minister and not the officials.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins I am not addressing the officials. I indicated that I was glad they were here and that while I was addressing the Minister, they could listen to my opinion of the activities of the Department under the Minister's control. With respect, I think that is perfectly within the rules of order and altogether a part of the duty of a Deputy who wants to discuss a situation that has got out of hand and which we are responsible to the public for getting back into shape.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin The Minister is responsible for the Department, not the officials.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins The officials are part——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin I do not want any argument from the Deputy. I am telling him the position.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins I am telling the Chair——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin The Deputy will not tell the Chair anything.

[742]Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins With respect, I am submitting that it is perfectly in order on the Estimate for the Department of Local Government for which the Minister is responsible—I am addressing my remarks to the Minister and I am dealing in globo with what the Department have to do——

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin It did not sound that way to the Chair.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins I am sorry if the soundings are wrong. With due respect, I do not intend to go outside the rules of order or indeed to be interrupted unnecessarily by the Chair.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin Zoom on Cormac Breslin The Chair will intervene whenever it feels it to be necessary.

Mr. S. Collins: Information on Seán Collins Zoom on Seán Collins If it sounded like that to the Chair, the Chair was the only one in the House to whom it did so sound. We have to face the fact that while we must give priority to the housing problem, there are many other problems in the Department which are worthy of mention. We must get down to basics and to a commonsense analysis of what limits should be placed on town planning. There is no doubt that the appeal to the Minister has been effective in many cases. The Parliamentary Secretary indicated this evening that as many as 50 per cent of the appeals had been successful. That in itself indicates to me at once that there is some weakness in the system. We know there has been some cavilling at some of the Minister's decisions. If 50 per cent of the appeals have been successful, the inference is that there must have been some terribly unnecessary refusals.

That is not the major issue on which I want to cross words with the Minister on town planning. Deputy Governey referred to permission being refused for a sign in Carlow. Indeed, Inter alia, there was a simple case in my constituency where an unfortunate person who had put a considerable amount of money into rebuilding and refurbishing a hotel could not get permission to put up a sign indicating where his hotel was: town planning would not allow it. His personal assessment [743] of the Department was typically American. He had spent many years in America and had come back to invest his money in this type of development in his native area and he would now be very glad to get rid of the whole establishment as quickly as possible.

There is a dreadful tendency in the type of bureaucracy that is growing up in the country to take every Act as a “must”and in the case of every power given under an Act to assume that you must exercise it against the interests of the individual. We seem to be putting the individual in the dock always and making him justify things that really need no justification. Whether that is because of a Parkinson's Law effect that builds up in this situation I do not know, but the fact remains that it has come to exist widely and wildly. All sorts of things that should be resolved at local authority level are being refused. Reams and reams of circular letters are issued. Automatically, an application coming in is refused, apparently on the basis that this gives them time to think or will make the other fellow do some thinking. Small things such as additional rooms, signs and so on should surely be determined without bringing into force the sections of the Town Planning Act. The Minister, in consultation with the local authority, their officials and his Department, could draw up a sort of general plan under which many of the matters I have referred to and such as those mentioned by Deputy Geoghegan, town planning in islands rapidly being denuded of population, or in areas where all this clap-trap about main roads and main sewers is only moon-shine could be dealt with reasonably and quickly. The Minister should stipulate that all these matters would be dealt with locally and kept out of the realms of this contentious and acrimonious town planning business.

I agree completely that in many areas of the country, particularly as regards maintaining a reasonable appearance of progress and development of good type houses and other services, it is necessary to have town [744] planning but in the case of the small changes being made by the addition of a room or by the erection of a sign or where people apply in rather isolated areas for certain types of permission, there should be no question of their applications being refused if they are in the general category of meeting a reasonable standard of planning and the engineers are satisfied that the work will be structurally sound. It has been indicated that nearly 50 per cent of these appeals succeed and thus it seems reasonable to think that many of the refusals were unreasonable and footling.

Much has been said about necessary repairs and reconstructions. Throughout the country the benefits were immense where substantial repairs and reconstruction were done and particularly throughout my constituency where expensive reconstruction has been carried out where grants were available. Immense progress has been made. Because of that, now that there is a slowing up in grants and in dealing with plans submitted for reconstruction, the impetus is going out of the effort that was so successful. It is not entirely the Minister's fault but I urge upon him that any extra money he can scoop from the till should be directed as quickly as possible towards the resurgence of these reconstruction and repair grants so that our standard of housing can be maintained and improved and so that the bad will that has been growing up between the local trader and people who are trying to carry out reconstruction as a result of delays in getting grants, can be obviated and the whole effort revitalised.

We would all like to see that impetus restored which would enable us to have a conscious pride in the rural areas such as my own and see the standard of housing improving consistently. Not only do many of these places cater for our particular type of tourist trade or package holidays with farmers but they also leave a lasting impression that our standards are improving considerably and that, we as a country and particularly the Government, are making an effort to create [745] excellent conditions for a very wide section of the people.

I do not in any way want to give priority to anything else over the main rehousing problem but the Minister should be able, at the same time as he is dealing with the rehousing problem, to maintain the emphasis and vitality of reconstruction and repair work throughout the country generally. There are many complaints by the county council in Cork regarding delays in getting sanction, delays at the planning stage of schemes submitted for housing. I ask the Minister to do what he can to obviate this delay, and even if money is not available now, at least to approve the principles involved and give priority to the schemes so that when money again becomes available for housing, we can have a fair amount of progress.

It is time for the Minister, together [746] with his experts, to examine many improved methods of construction that will cut down the time factor in the provision of houses. The delay that has occurred has created a crisis which is putting a time element into the necessity for a tremendous effort to get the houses built. Without changing conventional methods and with the development of new and quick, effective methods of building, it might well be that we could cut very considerably the time factor in the construction of houses, particularly in the case of vast estates that have to be built by local authorities.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 6th October, 1966.

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