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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 19 Jun 1952

Vol. 132 No. 11

Committee on Finance. - Housing (Amendment) Bill, 1952—Committee Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on amendment No. 21.

The reply, if one can call it a reply, given by the Minister on this amendment is very unsatisfactory. The Minister stated that this was originally introduced by a Minister here who was a member of the Labour Party. There is no use in the Minister trying to throw that across my path in relation to this amendment, because when a Labour Minister did introduce this originally there was some protection for the local authority. I am not dealing now with the case of the aggrieved person vis-à-vis the present occupant of the post of Minister for Local Government. I am looking to the future. We none of us know who will be the Minister for Local Government called upon to decide this issue at some time in the future. In dealing with legislation we must always bear in mind the fact that we do not know what attitude a particular Minister may take at a particular time. I think that is a fundamental point to be considered in relation to this amendment. It is certainly a point worthy of consideration.

When this was first introduced some years ago the local authority had some say at least in the matter. Now the overriding decision is in the hands of the Minister for Local Government in the case of an aggrieved person appealing against the decision of the local authority. It is quite contradictory for us to stipulate for more progressive local government on the one hand and, at the same time, insert a clause in a Bill whereunder the unanimous decision of a local authority can be completely nullified by a decision of the Minister. If we reach that stage in local government, then all local government will be on the broad highway leading to destruction because it will no longer be possible to have the views expressed collectively by a local authority and its executive officers properly considered by the central authority. That is the difficulty under this section.

The Minister has given no indication of what he considers to be a fair rent. If a local authority is not satisfied in the case of a first application for this rent, which, after all, over ten years represents £400 to a local authority and if the Minister is not prepared to consider that difficulty in assessing what we regard as a fair rent, what is there to prevent these new-found landlords from charging a rent of £4 per week? At the present time they are charging rents ranging from £3 2s. 6d. to £3 10s. 0d. per week and who will decide ultimately in the case of new houses where the demand outstrips the supply if these landlords find it convenient to charge up to £4 per week? Is there any protection afforded under this measure to the prospective tenants of such houses? Is there any means by which rents can be limited?

I was amazed by the way in which the Minister acted in relation to this amendment. We have tried to meet this measure by offering criticism of a constructive nature. Yet the Minister gets up and ignores every point raised and refuses to touch on the possibility of the disability which will be imposed on incoming tenants as regards the rate that must be paid because the landlord can escape the responsibility of paying rates. That burden will be placed then on the shoulders of the incoming tenant. Yet the Minister does not consider it worth his while to suggest any possible remedy in that respect. It seems a waste of time to discuss this at all.

The Minister has taken unto himself the right to ride roughshod over decisions. He has the machine behind him. He has the voting strength behind him. Nevertheless we shall continue to expose what we believe to be blatant difficulties and disabilities imposed on tenants in rural areas or those living in proximity to cities or towns. If the Minister wishes to continue on that road, let him do so. He can take that onus on himself. He is so important in his own estimation that he can refuse to listen to any form of constructive criticism. He demonstrated that attitude last night and again to-day. Eventually he will find, irrespective of which side of the House he happens to be on, that time will prove all that has been said here and the justification for some of the amendments that have been refused by him will be abundantly demonstrated. We will be justified in asking for this protection for incoming tenants, a protection that the Minister has blatantly refused to provide.

This matter was fairly fully gone into by me on the Second Reading debate on this measure. I intervened briefly before the adjournment to set out the facts as I saw them and with which I was trying to deal. The 1948 Act, which contains Section 19, was passed through this House and, after becoming law, was administered by the late Minister for Local Government, Deputy T. J. Murphy. The section itself did not give the Minister the right to adjudicate in the event of an appeal. It was thought then that the Minister had power to make regulations which would give him that right. The then Minister, I stated briefly, appealed to all the different semi-State and commercial concerns in this country—banking institutions, Bord na Móna, Comhlucht Siúicre Éireann, Teo.—to take advantage of this section.

At that time the Minister who was charged with the responsibility of administering that section thought that he had the power to do what I am making clear I have the power to do. It was only when these regulations were made and when they were being applied that certain legal advice was secured by the Cork County Council to the effect that the Minister had no such power. We do not know whether or not that was correct from a legal point of view, but anyhow it raised a doubt sufficiently strong to warrant the course of action I am taking here. All my predecessors thought they had the power I am seeking. It is not, therefore, a question, as Deputy Desmond says, of seeking power to ride roughshod over local bodies in this matter. It is a question of clarifying the position and of making certain of that which they, in their time, thought was certain. In addition, when the amount of the grant in each case is finally determined the State recoups the local body concerned by two-thirds. Surely in these circumstances, and with the assurances and guarantees which are held out to the concerns affected, it is the duty of this Parliament to see to it that no successful attempt will be made by a local body to avoid meeting its fair and just responsibilities.

There is provision and there was provision for making appeals to the Minister. A number of appeals have come before me and a number of appeals came before my predecessor. The rents that were being charged were being examined from the point of view of whether or not they were fair and just. In all cases, both in my predecessor's time and in my time, it was found that the rents being charged would not, even after making allowance for the grant, recoup the individuals and the concerns who erected the houses. Deputy Desmond suggests that there was no objection to giving those people a fair return. Deputy Desmond, and people on local bodies who adopt the attitude which Deputy Desmond has taken in this House to-day, make sure not to say what they regard as a fair return.

If the Minister asks a question I will answer him.

If you regard the amounts which you fixed as a fair appreciation of the responsibilities that had to be met on foot of legislation passed in this House then that is enough for me and it is enough for any fair-minded person who wants to approach this question in the manner in which I feel it should be approached. I am not trying to convince Deputy Desmond of anything because I realise that he wants to play his hand when he goes down to his local body. He is free to play whatever hand he likes and to take whatever kudos he can get from it. He is free to say that the Minister saw to it that a section was inserted in this Bill that enabled him —as Deputy Desmond will describe it beautifully—to ride roughshod over local authorities. We shall not hear Deputy Desmond say one word to the effect that after I have done what my predecessor thought he had the right to do and attempted to do and was prevented from doing—after I have ensured that the persons who have erected these houses will get what the State guaranteed they would get—the State will refund two-thirds of the entire amount to the local body concerned.

I have taken part in ceremonies in respect of the blessing and opening of houses which were built in Cork and elsewhere. I saw through houses that were let to bank officials and towards which the State had made, through the Transition Development Fund and otherwise, a fund contribution. I have not, in any detailed fashion, gone into how that contribution would compare with what was aimed at in Section 19 of the 1948 Act. I should have no hesitation in saying, however, that if we were able to secure that houses would be built for these classes of persons by these concerns it would result in a very substantial saving both to the ratepayers and to the taxpayers. My only regret is that unfortunately this section was not taken advantage of by the persons and by the business concerns for whom it was intended. Perhaps one of the main reasons why advantage has not been taken of it—to the advantage of everybody—is the attitude that local bodies have taken up, for example, the attitude taken up by the Cork County Council in regard to the matter.

I do not want to deny Deputy Desmond all the freedom he desires to go down the country and distort my action in respect of the insertion of this section in the Bill. When all comes to all, and when this whole effort is stripped to its bare nakedness, this section merely sets out to make quite sure that I have the power to do what my predecessors thought they had the legal right to do and would have done in exactly the same way as I will, so long as that responsibility is mine.

I want some clarification both as to the effect of Section 19 and as to this amendment. Section 19 of the 1948 Act sets out:—

"A housing authority shall, subject to regulations made under this section, make to any person erecting one or more than one house in the functional area of the authority, a grant not exceeding the appropriate sum...."

As I understand the position, the Minister's case which he has just made is that the housing authority should make a grant of the amount specified in the Fourth Schedule to the Act of 1948. I would like to be quite clear as to whether that is the view put forward by the Minister. The Fourth Schedule to the 1948 Act specified that for a three-roomed house the grant would be £25 per year; in the case of a four-roomed house £35 per year, and in the case of a house with five rooms or more £40 per year. The amendment deals purely with the rent to be charged for the house but I would like to know whether I am misinterpreting the Minister when I say that I understand that he believed that the grant should be the amount specified in the Fourth Schedule.

If I am misinterpreting him in that respect could he explain the circumstances in which the grant should not be provided in the Fourth Schedule, because quite frankly it is on that that my opinion regarding the amendment would largely be based? I took the view on Sections 9 and 10 that every house put up by anybody would help to solve the housing problem. Although the Minister attacked me fiercely on that attitude on Sections 9 and 10 I think that it was the same case as the Minister is making now in different words. In other words, the case which I was making and which the Minister was dead against is now made by him, and I suggest that Deputy Desmond is taking the line that the Minister took on previous occasions. It is not altogether logical unless there is something in Section 19 of the 1948 Act which I find difficult to understand from the Minister's remarks a few moments ago.

I do not say that the full amounts set out in the Schedule must of necessity be paid, but where a case comes before the Minister on appeal regard would be had to the size and cost of the house and the rent it is proposed to charge for it. He would also consider the amount of grant proposed by the local body. Even if it were less than the maximum so long as it appeared to the Minister to be reasonable having regard to the other factors he would allow the grant to go through.

Section 19 of the 1948 Act and Section 16 of this Bill were incorporated for the purpose of helping co-operative societies or private firms to build houses for their employees. They are admirable sections, because they remove the onus from the local authority to provide houses for people for whom they would otherwise have to provide them. As a member of a housing authority and the only member who supported an application from a co-operative society for the maximum grant under the section, I believe that the Minister should allow local authorities more discretion than it appears he is going to allow them. In my judgment, the Minister is taking dictatorial powers and the local authority will have no discretion whatsoever. The opinion of local members—and the majority opinion at that—is that where the local authority must find the money to pay those grants they are entitled to have some say as to the type of person who will be eligible for them. Their big difficulty and obstacle is that, so far as the fixing of rents is concerned, they have no power whatsoever. The opinion of many local authority members is that co-operative societies and private firms would build houses only for their senior staffs and higher-paid employees. In other words, their employees who would be able to pay a good rent. In the case of one or two companies which have availed of these grants in County Cork, that is quite true. The employees for whom they provided houses are those in the higher income groups who could reasonably provide houses for themselves, and then a rent was charged, which, to say the least of it, was more than an economic rent. Local authorities cannot see why they should be obliged to hand over the ratepayers' money, which, as we all know, is very limited at the present time, to those companies to build houses for employees in the higher income groups who could reasonably be expected to build houses for themselves. While I do not agree with all Deputy Desmond said with regard to the section, I think the amendment is reasonable. The position that a firm can build houses for its employees and get an economic rent or more, if possible, and can get into the bargain a present of £40 a year from the ratepayers is a position which should not be allowed to obtain.

There is little use in my suggesting to the Minister that he should leave local authorities any say on such matters because I know that he and the Government of which he is a member are entirely against local authorities having any discretion in any matter whatsoever. In fact, they are going so far that the day will shortly come when they will abolish local authorities completely and, as they have taken almost all their power from them, it would be a great saving of public funds if they did abolish them altogether. In all those matters the responsibility is the county manager's, but the day must soon come when the Minister learns the lesson that there are members of local authorities just as capable of administering local affairs and with just as much interest in the welfare of the people whom they represent as the Minister himself or any county manager in the country. Conditions in Cork may be different from conditions in Donegal, Mayo or other counties and discretion should be allowed to the local authority to decide whether an applicant is entitled to a grant or not. There is no doubt in the world that the amendment proposed by Deputy Desmond should be acceptable to the Minister. It will not interfere with his powers to any great extent but it will be a safeguard against employers or business concerns building houses for their well-paid employees, letting them at a more than economic rent and, into the bargain, getting from the pockets of the ratepayers £40 per year, less the two-thirds subsidy if they did not avail of the grant from the rates.

I would appeal to the Minister not to consider the suggestions just made by Deputy Murphy. He is very much in error when he says that £40 a year would be taken from the ratepayers and given to such industries or undertakings as would avail of the section. I think that the Minister should go out of his way to encourage industrial concerns and such to avail of the opportunity given under this section. I suggest to Deputy Murphy that he calmly consider the position and that he digest in particular the reference to the £400. That £400 will be payable over ten years at £40 per year. According to my mathematics, we are getting a return of two-thirds from the Department, which is £26 13s. 4d. a year, and rates will provide £13 6s. 8d. These houses— what are called the better-class houses —will very seldom come under a valuation of £10 or £12 a year, and we must take into consideration the fact that such houses will come into immediate valuation, and must contribute from the day they are finished. I know of no town, and in particular a town where there are any industries, in which the rates are under £1 in the £. Consequently, we stand to gain, and at the expiration of seven years such property will come into full valuation, so that it would be false economy to discourage such people from availing of the opportunity of providing houses. If industries do not avail of the opportunity, the responsibility falls upon the local authority at much heavier cost, and, if not upon the local authority, these people will be obliged to avail of the Small Dwellings Act, and there again it will be heavier in the long run on the national Exchequer. For these reasons, I appeal to the Minister not to delete this section, but to go out of his way to encourage and induce industries and institutions to provide houses for their employees under this section.

With regard to what Deputy Walsh has said, I did not mention the position of industrialists as industrialists at all. I did not mention any State body or board. I believe that if an industrialist or State corporation, such as Bord na Móna or any other such body, builds houses, it is prepared to rent them to prospective tenants at an economic rent. I am quite prepared to admit that, but the dangers which faced us were not in respect of concerns of that nature but individual people who built to suit themselves. These people built houses at a cost, roughly, of £1,700, and there were cases in which we asked to be furnished with the rent charged. For houses built for £1,700, some of these private individuals were charging rents of £160 a year. In ten years, that amounts to £1,600, and in 11 years these landlords had the full cost of the house back in rent. After 11 years, they were free, because we are surely entitled to assume that such a house would not be in urgent need of repair for a period of 25 years, which is a fairly normal period. If, after 11 years, these people had been recouped in full through the rent charged, surely no Minister can say that £160 a year afterwards, coupled with a grant of £400, is not an exorbitant profit? In fairness to some of the concerns the Minister mentioned, I believe they would not set out to reap such profits, but I am objecting to giving such a profit to a private individual. No one can say that if a man has been repaid the cost of building in 11 years and if afterwards he gets £160 a year, plus £40 a year grant for ten years, it is not an exorbitant profit.

The Minister apparently held the view that I would go down the country seeking political kudos. Let me remind the Minister that in South Cork, the area which I try to the best of my ability to represent, there is not one such case. I will gain no political kudos from this. We have not had one application from such people as these in South Cork. They are in the Cork County Council area, but it is the Deputies of the Minister's Party who are involved in these areas. I am not, and I will not gain one iota by all this. Still, even though these districts are not in my area for Dáil purposes, I believe that my responsibilities must take me further afield than merely my own small part of the county. Let the Minister understand that when the late Minister, Mr. T.J. Murphy, brought his Housing Bill in, he, as Minister, did not try to steamroll me. I adopted the same attitude at meetings of the Cork County Council after the 1950 Bill was passed as I am adopting now. I had a free hand as I am using that free hand now, not for my own individual sake but for the sake of the people who, in the ultimate, will have to pay the piper.

I think the Minister has made a case which cannot be argued against when he says that the central body is providing two-thirds of the funds and is, therefore, entitled to have an overriding discretion, provided that discretion is used in a reasonable way. If it is not so used, there are half-hours provided at night here when we will have an opportunity of bringing the Minister in to deal with it.

It seems to me that this is an unusual way of framing a section giving a right of appeal. In the 1948 Act, Section 7 (2) provides that any person may appeal and so on, but this is rather an unusual phraseology here, quite apart from the retrospective provision in it. I should like the Minister to consider between now and Report Stage whether there was any reason for abandoning the usual formula for an appeal and providing the rather unusual wording which is contained in Section 7.

I want to say further that the Minister was quite right when he said it was a great pity that Section 19 of the 1948 Act was not more widely availed of. There must be a case, I think, for saying that one of the ways in which that section would be availed of more widely would be by making the grant a fixed sum in the Fourth Schedule instead of leaving it a maximum sum. If the grant were a fixed sum and if a person knew that he would receive such fixed sum if he complied with the regulations in a a proper and reasonable way, such knowledge might prove to be an inducement to him to apply for the grant.

Amendment No. 21 put and declared negatived.

Question proposed: "That Section 16 stand part of the Bill."

I am opposing the section. In my opinion, the Minister has taken too much power. The Minister mentions that Deputy Desmond feels he may ride roughshod over the local authorities. I will omit the word "may", and I will put it that the Minister has ridden roughshod over the local authorities. I understand that, in a case where a dispute arose between the person who was seeking the grant and the local authorities, the local authority had power to appeal to the Minister. I know of certain cases where people who built houses applied for a grant to the local authority. They got a notification about the grant and, instead of raising the matter with the local authority again, they went right over their heads and approached the Minister. Likewise, instead of the Minister writing to the local authority and saying: "I feel that the local authority, in view of certain circumstances, should have allowed a greater grant to this person who is building his house, or to this company", the Minister sent down word to the local authority to give the full grant every time.

I am acquainted with a case in which a bank applied to the local authority for a grant to build houses for letting purposes. I proposed at the time that they should get a grant of £20 per year, £200 in all. However, the members of the Minister's own Party in the county council proposed that instead of giving this company a grant of £20 per year, or £200 altogether, they should be given a grant of £4 a year. I was opposed to that idea, but all the same I eventually agreed to it due to the fact that the majority of the members were in favour of it. The Minister did not even acquaint us of the reason for his decision. This showed very little regard for the members of that particular local authority who had assembled to do their work to the best of their ability. The local authority felt it was hard lines if they had to raise a loan at 4 per cent. or at 5 per cent. and give it to a bank which was only paying interest at the rate of 1 per cent. on their depositors' money.

You would be getting a recoupment of two-thirds of the amount.

I was about to come to that point. The position was that most of the members of the county council did not understand they would be recouped to the extent of two-thirds. If the Minister had the courtesy to treat the members of the local authority properly, he would have written and said: "Go ahead. You will be getting two-thirds of the money back. I feel it would be a good idea to encourage the bank to build houses for their employees. If they do so, there will be other houses vacant for somebody else." I feel that such a suggestion would have been very good, but it was not forthcoming from the Minister. Instead, apparently, some of the officials said: "Here is a case in Kilkenny. Give them the full grant." In my opinion, if the Minister had used a little discretion and courtesy it would have been much better. The members of this particular local authority and the members of the Minister's own Party in particular, felt that they should not be expected to raise money in one bank and pay 4½ per cent. and 5 per cent. interest on it, for the purpose of lending it to another bank which was only paying 1 per cent. on the depositors' money.

I am prepared to withdraw my opposition to this section if the Minister assures me and the House that, in future, where he thinks there is a case for a greater grant he will write to the local authority pointing out his reason for so thinking. In any case where the Minister believes the local authority are not reasonable in the grants they allow, he should be prepared to give his reason for thinking the grant should be increased.

Once more, I want to say that these regulations were put into the 1948 Housing Act which contained Section 19. These regulations were made by the late Deputy Murphy when Minister for Local Government. I will now quote one of the regulations made by him, which I acted on and on which Deputy Keyes, when Minister for Local Government, acted. I hope Deputy Crotty will not be shocked when I read this regulation:

"9. (1) Any doubt, dispute or question which may arise as to the interpretation of these regulations and as to the making or the amount of a grant in respect of any house to which these regulations apply shall be determined by the Minister and such determination shall be final."

That was the dictatorial Minister who made this regulation.

A Deputy

It was all right for that Minister to make it.

Why does not the Minister change some of the wording in this section?

I am not a draftsman. Draftsmen have different ways of doing their business just the same as other people have and it so happens that the draftsman in these two cases——

——was a different man?

Yes. I am only interested in the fact that what they draft will give me, or the like of me, the sort of power and freedom we want. Anyhow, I do not mind how dictatorial I am supposed to be. In dealing with these matters, I am only doing what others have done.

It surprised me to learn that Deputy Crotty knew nothing of what was in the Bill.

I only said that many members of the county council were not aware of certain facts.

Deputy Crotty should not have said the Minister was discourteous to the county council because some of the members of that body did not understand the regulations embodied in the Bill. I am surprised at Deputy Crotty, who is competent in such matters.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 17 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 21 (a).

In sub-section (2) to delete all words and figures after "any grant" in line 55 and substitute the following: "under Section 16 of the Act of 1948 where the grant was allocated and notified to the applicant under the said Section 16 before that date and reconstruction was begun before that date."

This amendment is designed to meet the case of persons who had applied for a reconstruction grant before the date specified. If the section were not amended the persons would be obliged to accept a grant that was in vogue even though he had done no work at all. This amendment enables such people to make a fresh application, and thus enjoy the improved reconstruction provisions.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 18, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

I want to be quite sure on one point. In the Schedule to the 1948 Act, as now amended, the term "agricultural labourer" is used and is carried on here. I take it that "agricultural labourer" as defined is the same definition as local authorities have in considering prospective tenants for housing. In other words, anybody who works for hire in a rural area.

While that will cover anybody who works for hire in a rural area, there are, in the County Kildare along the fringe of the Bog of Allen, people who do not work for hire but who work cutting hand-won turf themselves and sell it in Dublin to a fairly substantial extent. Do those people come in under this section of the Bill or not? They do not work for hire for anybody nor would they be entitled to consideration under the section in regard to urban areas.

I take it that the selfemployed person who works at any business of that nature and who does not employ persons other than members of his own family is covered.

He might employ a man to help him to cut.

I should imagine that he would not mention that too widely.

Not to the inspector from the Department anyway. We hope the inspectors from the Department will take the Minister's hint.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 19 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 22:—

Before Section 20 to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) Sub-section (1) of Section 7 of the Act of 1950 is hereby repealed.

(2) Sub-section (1) of this section shall have and be deemed to have had effect as on and from 29th day of April, 1952, but the repeal of the said sub-section shall not affect a grant under Section 7 of the Act of 1950 in respect of a house if—

(a) where the grant is in respect of the erection of a house, the erection commenced before that date, or

(b) where the grant is in respect of the purchase of a house, the contract for the purchase of the house was completed before that date, and

(c) a scheme under Section 7 of the Act of 1950 was duly adopted by the housing authority before the 1st day of April, 1952, and

(d) the grant is made under and in accordance with the said Section 7.

(3) Where a person is aggrieved—

(a) by the refusal or failure of a housing authority to make a grant, or

(b) by the amount of a grant,

which, by virtue of sub-section (2) of this section, could be or was made under Section 7 of the Act of 1950, the person may appeal to the Minister who may direct the authority to make any grant to the person which the Minister thinks just and which could have been made by the authority under the said section and the authority shall comply with the direction.

(4) Sub-section (2) of Section 7 of the Act of 1950 shall cease to have effect as on and from the 1st day of January, 1953.

Deputies will realise that it is not an easy matter to get an amendment that will be all-embracing without going far enough or going too far. I tried to give the House an idea of the type of case I wanted to cover. My attention was drawn to the fact that the Bill, as drafted, contained this weakness. I happened to be in the country and met a county manager who saw at once that this section, as proposed, would inflict hardship. I thereupon, without any consultation at all, and not knowing what difficulties the draftsman might have in putting into legal phraseology what was in my mind, said: "Here is what is in my mind." I set out for him the type of case I thought should be covered. He said that would meet the situation entirely, but when I came to the House I found that all sorts of problems arose. We then got a draft of what was thought to be sufficient to meet all the cases that were mentioned here and mentioned by any other sources. Even then, I was doubtful as to whether that would suffice. I would prefer to avoid the provision in relation to the appeal to the Minister if I could, but no matter how wide an amendment of this nature is you will find very often that some cases of hardship will arise here and there. These cases are reported and the Minister has to say in this House or outside: "I am just precluded from doing so, although I admit there is a case to be covered." That is why I am providing here for an appeal in the event of any case arising that would not be covered already. I think there are several other amendments, but I think this amendment of mine fairly meets all the cases that could possibly arise and which would demand a sympathetic approach and consideration.

It does not meet every case. There are a few amendments of mine. The Minister, however, has made a very substantial effort to meet the cases that were put up to him on the earlier stage of the Bill. Schemes adopted by local authorities contained, in our case, a provision that the house had to be completed before the 31st March, 1952. We put that in because the 1950 Act expired on the 31st March, 1952. We were bound to put it in. While we put that in, it was quite clear that it was the view of every section of the county council that they would extend the period when they were empowered by law to do so. I take it that the Minister's amendment will provide that, so long as the house has been commenced and was put up in accordance with the scheme, the fact that it was not finished by the 31st March, 1952, will not count even though that date was in the county council's scheme?

That is so.

Then I accept the amendment.

The Deputy must move his amendment.

My amendments seek to insert words in the Minister's amendment. Surely the position is that I cannot insert the words until the Minister's amendment is put before the House?

The amendment has been proposed by the Minister and is before the House. The Deputy must move his amendment.

Am I entitled to move an amendment to a section that is not there?

In that case, I will do so after questions, Sir.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.