On the last occasion the House was discussing this section and the Labour Party amendment. The section introduces so many things that were dealt with on previous sections that it is rather difficult to know just exactly where we stand at the moment. It deals principally with whether or not a vested cottage should be in a particular condition before being handed over.
Housing Bill, 1965: Committee Stage (Resumed).
I do not want to interrupt the Deputy, but we are on amendment No. 118 and must confine ourselves to that.
Amendments Nos. 118 and 119 are being taken together.
Dealing with the section——
I cannot allow the Deputy to proceed on that line. We must first dispose of the amendments and, after that, if the Deputy so desires, when the section is put, he may raise any points he thinks desirable.
Amendment No. 118 proposes that the section be not accepted as it stands and that there should be substituted "good structural condition". I have known cases of vested cottages being taken over. They looked to be in good structural repair but, when the tenants went in, they were unfit for human habitation because the roofs were bad, the windows were bad and the sanitary arrangements were very imperfect. I believe the important thing is to ensure that, when a tenant takes over a cottage, that cottage is fit for human habitation. If this section were to be passed without sufficient safeguards for the tenant, this House would not be doing its duty. The Minister should accept the amendment in order to ensure that the cottages will be in good sanitary condition. Under other sections the Minister will force local authorities to make vesting orders within a very short time and if as a result of a vesting order the local authority hands over the cottage in an unfit condition it is the tenants who will suffer.
The Minister may make the case that local authorities are too slow in carrying out repairs and the local authorities may make the excuse that the cost is too great. If the Minister imposes a vesting order and forces a local authority to hand over unfit houses, both the local authority and the Minister will be doing an injustice to the people concerned. I realise that local authorities will find it difficult to get money for repairs because the impact of the cost of repairs on rates is very important in more places than Dublin.
It is a pity that certain sections could not have been left out of the Bill. The section with which we are now dealing uses the words "Whenever a housing authority propose to make a vesting order under section 17 of the Act of 1936 or to sell or lease a dwelling under section 89 to the tenant thereof" but section 89 covers "any person" as well as the tenant who may be there at the time. That is not stated in section 102 but it is stated in section 89. In my view a person who goes into a cottage that has been occupied may find it in bad condition. There have been many cases in the area from which I come where tenants had very little respect for the cottage while they were in occupation and an incoming tenant found fittings broken and in some cases the staircases burned. If the incoming tenants finds that under section 89 the local authority have to prepare a vesting order and he will be forced to take the cottage without having a guarantee that it is in good sanitary condition as well as in good structural condition, he will not be getting justice.
Under the section there is a right of appeal to the Minister within a certain time. In the event of appeal on the grounds that the cottage is not in proper sanitary condition, what officer will the Minister send down to investigate the matter, or will the Minister have to depend on the local authority officers to give him the information, the local authority officers being the persons charged with the responsibility of putting the houses in proper condition? If the Minister sends down an official to investigate and that person finds that the appellant has a case, how will the Minister force the local authority to put the cottage in good condition? The machinery for doing that does not appear to be stated. I would have my doubts that the person making the complaint would in any conceivable time have justice done to him by the cottage being put in a proper state of repair.
The appellant would have to pay a fee to the Minister before the matter would be investigated. I cannot see a poor cottage tenant deciding to pay a fee to the Minister to get an investigation into the condition of a cottage and waiting while the Minister sent down somebody to verify matters.
I am afraid the Deputy is travelling outside the scope of the amendment.
I bow to your ruling. If I am travelling outside the scope of the amendment, I shall resume my seat but I would ask the Ceann Comhairle to allow me to speak on the section.
The Deputy is entitled to speak on the section when it arises.
The fact that this matter has been discussed at length on more than one day in the House tends towards repetition and in order to avoid that I want to say that we are prepared to accept the Minister's assurance given on the last occasion that he is prepared to re-phrase subsection (4) and we hope that when the Minister is doing that he will have a look at the other portion where we have suggested "good structural repair and sanitary condition" be substituted for "good structural condition". We consider that there is no point in re-phrasing subsection (4) if something is not done in the other case. One is bound up with the other.
The Minister may have given all the reasons as to why he wants to make the proposed change and why he is not prepared to accept the Labour Party amendment. The Labour Party amendment seeks a reversion to the position that existed prior to this legislation.
I wonder if "sound structural condition" would take in, for instance, dampness. Quite recently I have come across a case where a house was so damp that the ESB refused to wire it but the house was structurally sound. Would that case be covered if the Labour Party amendment is not accepted? I think it would not be. There should be an obligation on a local authority to put a house into good sanitary condition also, mainly because of dampness. There are many houses which have no damp course. A house that shows dampness to a large extent is not fit for human habitation. Dampness should come within sanitary condition. It should be an obligation on the local authority to eliminate dampness. There are many ways and means of doing so but they are not inexpensive and it is not fair that a tenant purchaser should be saddled with the expense of making his house fit for human habitation by eliminating dampness when it is such a big job as to be beyond his means. It should be regarded as the obligation of the local authority.
However, if the members of the Labour Party are prepared to accept the Minister's assurance, I shall not disagree with them.
That decision governs amendment No. 119.
There should be some clear explanation made as to what the Minister has in mind by "sound structural condition" and what exactly is covered by it. Such explanation is not given in the explanatory memorandum. The words "sound structural condition" are open to such a variety of interpretations that it depends entirely on the engineer, architect or technical officer of a local authority who may examine a house. There should be a directive to local authorities as to what is expected under this phrase and that should be made clear to the tenant purchaser in advance.
The Minister has made the case that nobody would buy a house that was not in sound structural condition. I do not know the position in other local authority areas but I do know that once a tenant applies to Dublin County Council for repairs to be carried out for the purpose of vesting, he must decide that he will purchase. He cannot back out. The only recourse he has if he is not satisfied with the standard of repairs is to the Minister. It is quite wrong to say that nobody will buy a house that is not in sound structural condition. Tenants are compelled to buy, once they apply to have repairs carried out for vesting purposes. From that day they are compelled to purchase. There is no way out. If they cannot decide at some stage—when they see the repairs needing to be done—that they will not purchase and that the dwelling is not in sound structural condition, if that decision is not open to them at that stage, then I think they are beaten. There should be some way out.
I would be the last person to advocate leaving this thing open so that every crank in the country could bring back a local authority on several occasions and point to this or that slight fault. They should be sufficiently able themselves to move in and do something about it. There are people who would not replace a broken pane of glass if they could get away with it and others who would not even clean their own gutters. I have come across this very often. But, at the same time, I think they should be safeguarded against repairs of a major character. It would be wrong to leave it open to local authorities to recover possession in certain circumstances.
That is exactly what I wanted to say. I should say to the Minister, in regard to section 89, that there are cottages down in Mayo—we have only 21 of the type mentioned in section 93—which could be usefully sold under section 89. They could be put in good structural condition and repair, and that would save the local authority from having to prepare this vesting order which is very expensive, between publication, notification and so on. If the Minister would look into the cases such as those I have mentioned in Mayo where a small number of cottages of the type mentioned could be dealt with under section 89, instead of having to prepare this expensive vesting order and if the local authority could be told to go ahead and dispose of the cottages under section 89, it would save everybody a lot of trouble. The Minister himself said that it might be more expensive to prepare a vesting order and that it might cost the local authority more than they would get from the rent out of the cottages eventually. I would ask the Minister to look into the matter and see if he could deal with this type of case under section 89.
I think I had better restate what I said earlier on this matter, lest it may not have been understood or, indeed, heard by some of the Deputies here, that is, that in so far as subsection (4) of the section is concerned, my intention, expressed to the House earlier, is that this subsection will be amended so as to bring about the situation wherein repairs which will be required to be done before vesting, and which cannot reasonably be expected to be done by the tenant, will be included. I think this is the matter to which Deputies Clinton and Lyons have adverted and which was raised many times by speakers in both the Labour and Fine Gael Parties. It is the intention to amend subsection (4) so as to get over the objection to the section as a whole, in that it is felt by those who have spoken against the section that the provision is not sufficiently satisfactory from the point of view of the tenant. This proposed change in subsection (4), in whatever form of words may be thought necessary by the draftsmen, will bring about the situation that repairs, other than those which can reasonably be expected to be done by the tenant, will in fact be carried out by the local authority.
With regard to the vesting procedure operating heretofore, which Deputy Lyons is complaining about, this will not operate in regard to houses provided after 1st January, 1966. It will apply only to those already existing up to that date. While there may still be a number of them around, at least once this operation is carried through, it will not occur again under the present procedure, which I agree is pretty lengthy and which we are eliminating.
Amendments Nos. 120, 121, 122, 123, 123 (a) and 124 may be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 120:
In subsection (1), page 67, to delete all words from "If" in line 30 to "ascertained" in line 39 and insert the following:
"If during the payment period—
(a) the owner of a house sold or leased under section 11 of the Housing (Ireland) Act, 1919, cannot be found or ascertained,
(b) a special condition applying as respects a dwelling is not complied with, or
(c) the owner of a dwelling sold or leased under section 89 of this Act cannot be found or ascertained,".
The purpose of these amendments is to substitute the word "owner" for the words "the person to whom a house was sold or leased", or his successor in title, wherever they occur in section 103. It is a change of description and substitutes "owner" for the person named earlier.
Amendment No. 123 (a) is really consequential if these are accepted.
Amendment No. 124, I should mention, restricts the powers of a housing authority to recover possession of a house sold or leased by them to the period during which any purchase money, rent or other payment in respect of the house is outstanding.
I should like the Minister to explain one matter here. I mentioned last week the question of a house which was occupied by an old man who subsequently took in a young couple to live with him and they looked after him until he died. He made no will and they remained in possession of the vested cottage. They are still living in the cottage and there is rumour that there is a thirty-first cousin hanging around who may claim ownership. Is there any way in which these matters can be tightened up because, as I see it, the occupier is only a payee and has no legal title to the house? This other person can come along at a later stage, after the final payment has been made, and obtain possession of the house by claiming relationship to the deceased owner. Perhaps the Minister would say whether or not this type of case can be covered in this section.
Undoubtedly a difficulty will arise in so far as the vested cottage is already in existence and has been sold. Only recently we have had one such case brought up by a local authority. We are pursuing that at the moment to see whether we can get around or avoid the difficulty which exists. In so far as the vesting of houses and buildings is concerned, under this legislation, that particular difficulty will not arise. It is only with regard to existing vested cottages sold that the difficulty can possibly arise.
I am not quite clear about this. The Minister says that those vested from now onwards will be dealt with but subsection (a) of section 103 says:
the person to whom a house was sold or leased under section 11 of the Housing (Ireland) Act, 1919, or such person's successor in title, cannot be found or ascertained.
In the case to which I am referring, the alleged owner can be found. There is somebody who will claim ownership but just because there may be grave doubt about that ownership, will it be covered at all?
The particular point the Deputy has just raised will be covered and will be covered in the way that the person who will be owning the cottage, as it were, must use it as his normal place of residence. So, from that point of view, he is all right. Then, so far as the possible difficulties that may exist as of this moment are concerned, we will go back to the Labourers Act, 1936, subsection (d), which says:
where it is not possible by reasonable enquiry to ascertain who is such owner or where such owner ordinarily resides, by delivering it to some person over sixteen years of age resident or employed in the cottage or by affixing it in some conspicuous position on the cottage.
That is the law.
That would be simply for the purpose of the local authorities to take possession of the cottage.
I should like to refer to an actual case—I am not inventing it—where the owner, a single person, has been in a mental hospital for years. As far as the experts' knowledge is concerned, they say he will be there for the rest of his lifetime. What can be done in that case to recover possession?
He would not be occupying the house.
It is a vested house; it is standing idle and nobody can take possession.
They will after this Bill becomes law.
Not unless the annuity is still being paid. If it is finally cleared they cannot take possession.
The exemption will last for only 18 months and in the case which Deputy Clinton has referred to we can assume it will be longer than 18 months. The right to opt or to do anything in that particular time will no longer exist.
The Minister is talking about a house on which the annuity is being paid, but according to what Deputy Clinton says, I assume the annuity has been cleared.
As a matter of fact, a relative in another county is sending the annuity.
The 18 months absence still holds in that case.
I move amendment No. 121:
In subsection (2), page 67, to delete all words from "person" in line 48 to "title," in line 49 and insert "owner of the dwelling".
I move amendment No. 122:
In subsection (3), page 68, lines 10 and 11, to delete "a person or a successor in title mentioned in subsection (1) of this section" and insert "the owner of the house or dwelling".
I move amendment No. 123:
In page 68, subsection (6), lines 33 and 34, to delete "a person or successor in title mentioned in subsection (1) of this section" and insert "the owner".
I move amendment No. 123a:
In page 68, subsection (6), line 36, to delete "the said subsection (1)," and substitute "subsection (1) of this section,".
I move amendment No. 124:
In page 69, subsection (8), between lines 14 and 15, to insert the following definition:
" `payment period' means the period for payment to the housing authority of purchase or other money or of rent in respect of the relevant house or dwelling;".
I move amendment No. 125:
In page 69, to delete "may, with the approval of the Minister," in line 18 and insert "shall" and to delete "for which advances from the local loans fund" in line 19 and insert "approved by the Minister for which capital money".
The purpose of this amendment is to rectify a loophole in the original draft. It is really, in the main, substituting the word "shall" for the word "may" and thereafter deleting certain other words. This is intended to bring about the situation wherein capital money may be applied for a purpose approved by the Minister and for which capital money may be separately applied. As it stood, this was not terribly clear and I am asking that we should here change the particular wording.
I move amendment No. 126:
In page 69, line 25, to delete "(other than a function under Part IV)"
Section 105 empowers local authorities and housing authorities to perform any of their functions outside their functional area other than functions under Part IV dealing with unfit houses. The original intention, in excluding Part IV, was to ensure that two local authorities did not serve overcrowding notices, repair notices or demolition orders in respect of the same premises. The likelihood of this is extremely remote and on consideration of it it is not regarded as necessary to provide specifically against it. On the other hand, it is necessary to ensure that county councils may continue to act under Part IV in areas under town commissioners. Town commissioners have not got the necessary engineering or technical staff to ensure the operation of Part IV. The only way in which Part IV can be operated in a town area is by having a county council operate it and under this amendment such arrangements can be made.
I move amendment No. 127:
In subsection (1)—
(i) in page 69, to delete in paragraph (a) all words from "to" in line 38 to "committee" in line 41 and insert "for purposes connected with the performance of any of their functions under this Act,", and
(ii) to delete in paragraph (b) all words from "in" in line 43, page 69, to "committee)" in line 3, page 70, and insert "(in this section referred to as a joint committee) in accordance with subsection (2) of this section, consisting of so many persons as the parties to the agreement think fit, for purposes connected with the functions under this Act which are common to both parties to the agreement."
The purpose of the amendment is to get away from the assumption that a committee can perform any of the functions of housing authorities under the Bill. This assumption, I should add, was never intended under the original wording. A committee could not perform executive functions which would be the manager's business. The wording of the amendment is based on section 11 of the Public Assistance Act, 1939.
I was wondering if the Minister was going to allow the section to go through as it was. Perhaps the Minister could clarify this? The Minister says a housing authority may, if they think fit:
establish a committee consisting of such number of their members as they may think fit to perform any of their functions under this Act which in the opinion of the authority would be better performed by means of a committee.
Does that, in fact, mean what it is supposed to mean? Does it mean that a member of a local authority could establish a housing committee who will have full authority to proceed with a housing programme in their area?
The House will agree that, whatever we may feel about it, obviously a committee cannot do what those who appointed them were not able to do themselves. In other words, a council, in its full membership as a council, can perform an executive function so it would be obviously completely wrong that a committee by themselves should, in fact, be able to perform an executive function which they themselves can do, or cannot do.
We understand that but under the amendment they have the right to perform the function of the local authority. In other words, the housing committee proceeds under its own scheme to devise and carry out a housing programme without reference to the parent authority.
I would not agree that this would be so. They would have to report back to the people who appointed them.
That is not what it says.
Is the Deputy afraid they will not?
I am not.
I suppose if they can do those things without money, we would all appoint them.
They could do it and afterwards the money would have to be got somewhere. Is the Minister satisfied this is watertight?
Might I ask if the Minister already had the power contained in section 107? If the Minister had not this power, how did he proceed in the case of Ballymun?
Ballymun, let it be clearly understood, was done possibly, or, if you like, engineered to be done, in a particular way, that is, by resolution requesting me to do it. That is the way it came about.
The Minister had not the power he is seeking here.
I had not. Ballymun was done by a request from the Corporation to me.
Subsection (1) says:
Whenever the Minister is of opinion that a housing authority have failed to perform any of their functions under this Act, or have failed to perform any such function in a satisfactory manner, he may by order require the authority to perform the function, and the Minister may, if he thinks fit, specify in the order the manner in which or the time or times within which the function is to be performed.
How would the matter be brought to the notice of the Minister? Is there any specific procedure laid down as to how this would come to the notice of the Minister?
The requirement will say under the Act that such provision outlined in the building programme for the local housing authority would be required to be done in the future. Failure to do that could be one of the cases where it was clearly obvious that they had failed to perform their duty.
The Minister has something like that in mind?
It is not confined only to that. They might have a programme and not be doing the job of getting on with the programme.
Some are great at programming and not much at housing.
That is possible, too.
What way does the Minister hope it is to be provided? At present the vocational education committee provide a certain amount of technical assistance. Is it something like that the Minister has in mind?
They may be in a sort of group effort to provide housing. It may be co-operative housing or a housing association. This will enable them, if they think fit, to provide technical assistance. This would come within the ambit of their circumstances.
It might save the committee a lot of money.
It could do. In the long run, they might save quite a considerable amount.
Does the Minister give any grant towards this assistance?
If they are going to make a lot of money, I am wondering if we might not look for a bit back.
Is this going into competition with the tidy towns?
This will be confined.
To local authority houses?
Not necessarily. It will be individual houses as distinct from towns.
I think I should mention that I am not at all sure about fixing the figures mentioned in the Bill. I am thinking of it rather in terms of leaving it more flexible to meet changing circumstances over the years. I may possibly come back to the House at a later stage seeking other procedure whereby these figures will be fixed by order related to the circumstances of the time. These figures might be obsolete in a short time.
That would be more sensible.
I move amendment No. 128:
In page 71, between lines 36 and 37, to insert before section 111 the following new section:
"111.—(1) A person shall not vote as a member of a housing authority or any committee mentioned in section 106 of this Act upon any resolution or question which is proposed or arises in pursuance of this Act, if it relates to any house or other land in which he is beneficially interested.
(2) Any person who votes in contravention of this section shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds.
(3) In case any person votes in contravention of this section the fact of his giving the vote shall not invalidate any resolution or proceeding of the housing authority or committee."
Perhaps we could also discuss amendment No. 134 which is consequential on amendment No. 128.
The purpose of these amendments is to take the substance of section 88 of the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890, from that Act and to incorporate it in the Bill, thus enabling all of the 1890 Act, except the provisions dealing with compulsory land acquisition, to be repealed. The compulsory land acquisition provisions can be dealt with later as part of a general Land Acquisition Bill. I should say that section 88 of the 1890 Act provides that a person shall not vote as a member of a local authority or county council or any committee thereof upon any resolution or question which relates to any house, building or land in which he is beneficially interested. The section provides for a fine not exceeding £50 for contraventions.
I know the procedure suggested in subsection (3) of the new section is the usual one, but I have been wondering if it is the correct thing. I know its purpose is to prevent the proceedings of the local authority being invalidated by someone voting who was not entitled to vote, but it could happen that the amount to be gained by voting might be worth far more than the amount of the fine.
Before dealing with Deputy Tully's point, I want to give notice that it is possible that some further modification of this section on Report Stage may be necessary. We want to make this more up to date and we might make it a disqualification rather than anything else. I should like to consider the possibility of bringing in a further amendment or modification.
I move amendment No. 129:
In page 71, after "committed" in line 39 to add the following: "and in case the offence relates to a function being performed by or on behalf of the Minister under section 107 of this Act, or by a housing authority outside their functional area, the offence may be prosecuted by:
(a) in case the function is being performed by or on behalf of the the Minister—the Minister, or
(b) in case the function is being performed by a housing authority —that authority."
Section 105 enables a housing authority to act outside their functional area. Under section 107 the Minister may require a housing authority to perform the functions of another or he may himself arrange for their performance. Section 111 provides, however, that an offence under the Bill may be prosecuted by the authority in whose functional area it is committed. This would not cover action of the sort mentioned under sections 105 or 107. Amendment No. 129 will remedy this particular omission.
Amendment No. 130 has been deemed to be out of order and amendments Nos. 131 and 132 have also been ruled out of order.
I move amendment No. 133:
To insert the following repeals in the appropriate places:
41 & 42 Vict., c. 52.
Public Health (Ireland) Act, 1878.
Sections 82 to 86 and sections 100 and 101.
53 & 54 Vict., c. 16.
Working Classes Dwellings Act, 1890.
The whole Act.
No. 2 of 1930.
Housing Act, 1930.
The whole Act.
No. 13 of 1936.
Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) Act, 1936.
The whole Act.
Section 82 of the Public Health (Ireland) Act, 1878, provides that it shall not be lawful to let or occupy as a dwelling any cellar built or rebuilt after the passing of the Act. Sections 83 to 86 contain further provisions relating to the use of cellars as dwellings. The sections are unnecessary in view of the wide powers given in Part IV of the Bill, enabling housing authorities to require the demolition or closure of property unfit for human habitation. The amendment will, accordingly, provide for the repeal of sections 82 to 86 of the 1876 Act.
Sections 100 and 101 of the Public Health (Ireland) Act, 1878, deal with the powers of sanitary authorities to make bye-laws as to houses let in lodgings. These bye-laws provide for fixing the numbers of persons who may occupy a room, for the registration and inspection of lodging houses and for enforcing drainage, sanitation and cleanliness. In so far as the number of persons who may occupy a room is concerned, sections 64 and 65 of the Bill give housing authorities adequate power. In so far as the other matters for which the bye-laws may provide are concerned, the remaining sections in Part IV contain adequate powers. The amendment, therefore, proposes the repeal of sections 100 and 101 of the 1878 Public Health (Ireland) Act.
I should say that under this amendment it is proposed to include for repeal the Working Classes Dwellings Act, 1890. The repeal is of minor significance. The Act of 1890 provides that section 16 of the Charitable Donations and Bequests (Ireland) Act, 1844—which provided that no pious or charitable donation, devise or bequest should be valid unless executed at least three months before death—should not apply to land for working class dwellings. The 1844 Act is repealed by the Charities Act of 1961.
The purpose of the further part of the amendment is to include among the repeals the Housing Act, 1930. The Act, which amended the Housing Act, 1929, is spent and the repeal is merely of a tidying nature.
The purpose of the further part of the amendment is to repeal the Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous Provisions) (Amendment) Act, 1936, which provided for exemption from rates for houses for which reconstruction grants were made under section 5 of the Housing (Financial and Miscellaneous) Act, 1932. The Act of 1936 is spent and the proposed repeal is of a tidying nature.
Amendment No. 134 is consequential on amendment No. 128 and has been discussed.
I move amendment No. 134:
In page 75 to delete all the words in the third column in respect of the Housing of the Working Classes Act, 1890, and insert "The whole Act except section 1 and the Second Schedule".
I move amendment No. 135:
In page 75 in the third column of the reference to the Irish Land Act, 1903 after "Part IV" to insert "except section 96".
I understand that the Land Commission already do what is sought to be done by this amendment.
Is there any reason why the Minister should not accept the amendment? The Land Commission do it, but they are not bound to do it. If the Minister accepted the amendment, it would then be the normal procedure.
The only thing is that we have said so much already. It is big enough as it is. It is in the Land Acts. Therefore, to insert it here would be duplication and would add nothing in favour of the argument.
Would the Minister quote the section in the Land Act? What Land Act is it?
The Land Commission practice under the powers conferred by section 31 (d) of the Land Act, 1923; section 27 of the Land Act, 1936, and section 29 of the Land Act, 1950.
That is covered all right.
Amendment No. 136 has been discussed with amendment No. 114.
I move amendment No. 136:
In page 76, in the third column in respect of the Labourers Act, 1936, to insert "; in paragraph (a) of subsection (2) of section 27 the words `(in this subsection referred to as the consolidated holding)'; paragraph (c) of that subsection; subparagraph (iii) of paragraph (d) of that subsection" after "24".
I move amendment No. 136 (a):
In page 77, to insert the following repeal in the appropriate place.
No. 24 of 1965.
The Labourers Act, 1965.
The whole Act.
This is on the list of additional amendments.
Sections 97, 98 and 99 contain provisions similar to those of the Labourers Act, 1965, and, in the circumstances, the Labourers Act can now be repealed. In my Second Reading speech to the Labourers Bill, I announced that its provisions would be retained in the Housing Bill, 1965.
That is the shortest-lived Act that I think was ever enacted.
At least that is one record made.
The Minister has referred to matters to which a housing authority are to have regard for consideration whether a house is unfit for human habitation. Would the Minister have in mind applying this test to cottages when they are being examined for pre-vesting repairs or for appeals or for post-vesting appeals? Is this the type of thing his inspector would be looking for?
I was very glad to be reminded that this was, in fact, in the Second Schedule to the Bill. This is certainly the sort of yardstick I hope the Minister had in mind when he talked about sound structural condition. Must this complete list, in fact, be considered? Must the local authority have regard to this list when they are deciding whether a house is in sound structural condition? It certainly fulfils what I was looking for. It covers dampness and all the other elements to which we have been objecting and which we feel would be the cause of pretty heavy expenditure which a tenant-purchaser could not normally be expected to meet. Is this the type of list the Minister has in mind when he sets out to revise section 102 which we have already discussed?
I would say, straight away, that this yardstick would invariably have to be used in deciding and determining whether or not a house was in a fit state for vesting.
That is fair enough.
That is satisfactory, if it is the Minister's idea. It is mine too.
Second Schedule agreed to.
I move amendment No. 137:
In page 78, article 2, line 40, to insert "subarticle (a) or (b) of" before "this".
I should mention in regard to this amendment that the word "subparagraph" should have been used instead of the word "subarticle".
I move amendment No. 138:
In page 78, article 2, to delete "the receipt shall" in line 45 and in line 46 before "be effectual" to insert "the receipt shall, where it is given by a person who may be dealt with as absolute owner or by a person entitled to a mortgage or charge on the interest of any such person."
Articles 2 (a) and (b) provide that a local authority may pay up to £500 to a person who has been in occupation of land for six years or to a person having a mortgage on the land. Under article 2 (c), a receipt for this money is to be "effectual to vest the land in the authority". It would obviously be incorrect to enable a receipt, given by a person who has a mortgage only on a leasehold interest, to be sufficient to vest the fee simple of the land in the local authority. The amendment will, accordingly, provide that only a receipt given by a person who may be dealt with as absolute owner or by a person entitled to a mortgage or charge on the interest of such person will be effectual to vest the land in the authority. The wording is a return to the wording of section 11 of the Labourers (Ireland) Act, 1906, on which article 2 is based.
I move amendment No. 138a:
In page 78, line 52, to delete "subarticle" and substitute "paragraph."
Amendments Nos. 138a, 138b and 138c are related amendments and may be discussed together.
In these three cases, no change of substance is involved. Their purpose is to correct incorrect references.
I move amendment No. 138b:
In page 79, line 1, to delete "subarticle" and substitute "paragraph".
I move amendment No. 138c:
In page 79, line 8, to delete "section" and substitute "article".
I move amendment No. 139:
In page 79, article 2 (k), line 48, to delete "purchased" and insert "acquired".
Paragraph 2 (k) of the Third Schedule refers to land purchased compulsorily. The other land acquisition provisions refer to land acquired. This amendment is for the purpose of achieving consistency. No change of substance is involved in this amendment.
I move amendment No. 140:
In page 82, article 2, lines 1 and 2, to delete "other than a house mentioned in article 3 of the Third Schedule to this Act".
Article 2 of Part (II) of the Fourth Schedule referred to premises "other than a house mentioned in Article 3 of the Third Schedule to this Act". These words are unnecessary since Part II of the Schedule deals only with land other than unfit houses.