Seanad Éireann - Volume 57 - 13 May, 1964
Local Government (Repeal of Enactments) Bill, 1964—Second and Subsequent Stages.
Question proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”
Minister for Local Government (Mr. Blaney) Neil T. Blaney
Minister for Local Government (Mr. Blaney): It will be seen from the Long Title of the Bill, and from the first paragraph of the explanatory memorandum which has been circulated to Senators, that this Bill arises in consequence  of the enactment of the Local Government (No. 2) Act, 1960. Part II of that Act rationalised local borrowing powers by giving local authorities a general power to borrow or lend for the purpose of any of their functions or duties, and provided for the control of such borrowing and lending. Section 9 of the Act precluded borrowing or lending by local authorities save pursuant to Part II of the Act. When section 9 was under discussion during the passage of the Bill through the Dáil, I intimated that I was considering the introduction of a Local Government (Repeal of Enactments) Bill to repeal the earlier enactments empowering and regulating borrowing by local authorities.
Prior to 1960, the practice was that every statute enabling or requiring local authorities to perform a function or carry out works included provisions to authorise borrowing specifically for the purpose of performing that function or carrying out such works. The statute usually regulated the manner of borrowing and in some cases the repayment of loans and related matters. All of these matters are now governed by the 1960 Act and the primary purpose of the present Bill is, therefore, to remove from the statute book the provisions which were rendered ineffective by the 1960 Act.
The provisions replaced by Part II of the Act of 1960 are contained in a multitude of enactments, reaching back in time for more than a century. It will be appreciated that the borrowing powers were associated in a good number of cases with enactments which are now in themselves ineffective or obsolete, having been superseded by modern legislation, or having otherwise become unnecessary through lapse of time. Some of these enactments have been included in the schedule of repeals, where specific repeal seemed desirable and could be effected without widening unduly the scope of the Bill.
The effect of the Bill, as I have stated, will be to remove from the statute book provisions which are, in fact, already spent or obsolete. There is one divergence from this principle which I would like to mention. It relates to grants by a local authority  to a vocational education committee under the Vocational Education Act, 1930. That Act required the consent of the Minister for Local Government to the making of the grant, and gave power to borrow for the purpose of making a grant. The function of sanctioning the borrowing has already been transferred to the Minister for Education by the Local Government (No. 2) Act, 1960, and the proposed repeal of the relevant clauses in subsections (1) and (2) of section 51 of the 1930 Act will transfer to that Minister also the function of consent to a grant. I would emphasise that, apart from this one exception, which is a logical sequel to the 1960 Act, the proposed repeals will remove from the statute book provisions which for one reason or another are no longer operative, and will effect no change whatever in current local government controls or practice.
Professor Hayes Professor Hayes
Professor Hayes: This is a desirable Bill. It deals with the vast complexity of financial provisions in Local Government Acts for just a century, from 1860 in the British days to 1900. Perhaps one would be allowed to say, in passing, that as we are clearing out a great deal of deadwood from these Acts, the Local Government (Ireland) Act, 1898, is one of the most important Acts passed with regard to Ireland by the British Government. On my calculation, the word “obsolete” or “spent” occurs nearly 150 times in the present Bill. That is, we are taking nearly 150 cases, which are professionally obsolete or spent and removing them, that is, clearing away the deadwood. It makes it easier for professional people, for local bodies, civil servants and everybody concerned.
As the Minister says, it is a measure of rationalisation. Perhaps, since the Minister has put his hand to this work and a certain amount has already been done, something could be done with regard to consolidation of local government measures so that one can find local government law in one consolidated Act. I know that would be by no means a simple matter to do but it is one of the things upon which this House might be usefully employed. We have done it before in certain  other cases. I recommend to the Minister that it might be done in the case of local government as well.
The Bill is eminently desirable. The one exception which the Minister mentions, which deals with the Vocational Education Act of 1930, transferring certain powers of the Minister for Local Government to the Minister for Education throws light on some of the peculiar anomalies of our education system. We have trouble at the moment about one particular part of it. One of the troubles is that primary, secondary and vocational education are in separate compartments with separate histories and nothing is being done about them much as the Minister is doing to rationalise them. Vocational education is partly under Local Government and partly under the Department of Education. Perhaps the rationalisation of that matter which occurs here in the amendment of the Vocational Education Act, 1930, might get rid of some of our troubles with regard to teachers and examinations.
However, so far as the Bill is concerned, we are in complete agreement with it. I recommend to the Minister that, having gone this far, he might contemplate consolidating all local government law, and he might consider putting it in the hands of this House.
Mr. Blaney Mr. Blaney
Mr. Blaney: In regard to the codification and modernisation of local government law, it is only fair to myself and the Department to mention what we have done.
Professor Hayes Professor Hayes
Professor Hayes: I know something has been done.
Mr. Blaney Mr. Blaney
Mr. Blaney: We have gone quite far in the Electoral Act, 1963. We have brought the housing loans and grants legislation fairly well up to date. In the Planning and Development Act, which is not yet actually in operation, we have brought the law fairly well up to date. We have had the Road Traffic Act, 1961, and we have had the Local Government (No. 2) Act, 1960. In so far as other measures are concerned, I can tell the House that various Bills are at various stages of preparation at the moment. We have the  Electoral Petitions and Disqualifications Bill which is a hangover from the original larger measure which we have already enacted. A Bill consolidating the electoral law is also being worked on, and there is a Bill which is quite far advanced to consolidate the local authority housing law. We are also working on a Sanitary Services Bill. So I think the end which Senator Hayes has mentioned as being very desirable is well within sight.
I am very grateful for his offer to do any or all of these things through this House, and to help in any way he can, and I may be taking him up on that offer in whatever way I find is useful to get the job done.
Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Bill put through Committee, reported without amendment, received for final consideration, and passed.
Seanad Éireann 57 Local Government (Repeal of Enactments) Bill, 1964—Second and Subsequent Stages.