I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. The object of the Bill is to continue the present Rent Acts in operation for a further period of one year pending the outcome of the Government's review of the whole problem. As Deputies will recall, the Rent Restrictions Act of 1946, which was a consolidating Act, was to have expired at the end of 1950 but in October of that year the Government appointed a commission under Judge Conroy's chairmanship to investigate the working of the Act and to make recommendations. The commission reported in June, 1952, and recommended that the existing controls be continued, with certain increases to landlords who are liable for repairs, and that control be extended to dwellings built since 1941 or to be built hereafter and it also recommended the extension of control to furnished lettings. There were a number of other recommendations, some of which are technical but no less important for that.
When the present Government took office the various interested Departments had not concluded their examination of the report but since then the principal recommendations, together with departmental observations thereon, have been submitted to the Government which have been considering what is best to be done for the common good. It is over 40 years since the first of the rent restriction measures was passed and in the meantime a host of new and complicated legal relationships have come into existence. This is one of the relevant considerations. There are, of course, other considerations which have to be taken into account. Since 1952, when the Conroy Report was presented, there has been an improvement in the housing situation and in living standards. On the other hand, very few houses have been built for letting by private enterprise though a large number have been built for tenant purchasers, and there has been a high rate of building under the Housing of the Working Classes Act and Labourers Acts. There is, nevertheless, a housing shortage, particularly in Dublin and Cork, which has yet to be overcome.
All of these aspects are receiving consideration but it will be some time before the Government are in a position to take final decisions. Meanwhile, it is necessary to continue the Acts in force for a further period. Every effort will be made to have the Government's legislative proposals communicated to the House during 1956. In conclusion, I would like to take this opportunity of saying that authority has been given for the preparation of a Bill on the general lines of the second report of the Conroy Commission, that is to say, the Report on Reversionary Leases under the Landlord and Tenant Acts.