Committee on Finance. - Finance Bill, 1974: Report and Final Stages.

There are amendments to this Stage of the Bill.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 5, between lines 40 and 41, to add to section 3 the following subsection:

(3) Interest payable on any investment not exceeding £5,000 in a registered building society shall not be subject to the charge to income tax created by this section.

This amendment is similar to an amendment in Deputy Colley's name on the Committee Stage which was discussed fully. For that reason I do not think it necessary to go through all the arguments againin extenso.

However, there is a major difference between the Committee Stage amendment and this one in that in this instance the proposal to have the interest payable on investment in building societies not charged would be limited to an investment by any one person of not more than £5,000. This is to get over the difficulty that was pointed out on Committee Stage of the possibility of someone with a very large sum of money like £50,000 or £100,000 putting it into a building society for the purpose of avoiding tax on the income that would arise from it. We feel that the limit of £5,000 investment—that does not mean £5,000 interest, because I think that suggestion was made from the Government side in the course of the Committee Stage—is a reasonable one and that it would not leave the situation open to the possibility of this concession, if it were granted, being abused by people of considerable wealth.

I think it is necessary to reiterate briefly the necessity that exists in the country at the moment for an increase of investment and deposits in building societies. It is notorious at the moment that virtually all of the building societies are not giving out loans or if they are giving them out it is on such a very limited scale that for the great bulk of potential house purchasers they are almost unobtainable. I think we demonstrated here the last day that with the very stringent limits on income on the amount of the loans that are available through local authorities, most of the houses that are being built at the moment and most of the houses that are being sold at the moment cannot be purchased by people who have to rely on loans from local authorities.

If you take the cost of the average semi-detached three-bedroomed house, which is the usual sort of one that most people buy—at the moment about £7,500 to £8,000—with a maximum loan from a local authority of £4,500, the prospective purchaser, usually a recently married man, is left with the problem of finding £3,000 to £3,500 or possibly £4,000 out of his own resources. That, of course, is patently beyond the ability of the great majority of people, particularly young married people, to find at this time. As the Government have refused to increase the amount which can be borrowed from a local authority and have also refused to increase the income limit of eligibility to borrow, the situation arises that a huge proportion of prospective house purchasers have no source of finance which is adequate to them to buy their own house.

That is why we have the situation, despite what the Minister for Local Government and others say, that so many builders are this very week laying off large numbers of men. It is why so many builders have indicated that in the next few weeks they will have to lay off more and more men. The solution to that very serious, social and economic problem lies within the grasp of this House now if it will avail of the opportunity to pass this amendment. It will open up new sources of finance for the building societies and when those new sources, which are not available at the moment because of the high cost of money elsewhere, are opened up immediately, the building societies can start to lend again to the sort of people to whom they have traditionally lent, and for whom in the last five years in particular they have proved a great boon. I do not know whether the Government realise the serious straits that so many young married people are in today. They simply cannot buy their own houses.

What about the thousands who would not have a house at all were it not for the present Government?

I am not aware of any.

There was never such a record of house building in modern years.

They are putting Fianna Fáil plans into operation. They have none of their own.

Deputy O'Malley, please.

It is very hard, having been up all night.

The houses that were completed in 1973 were all started while the Fianna Fáil Government were in office. The Central Bank have told us that in the first quarter of this year housing starts are down by 60 per cent on the corresponding quarter for last year. I think that answers Deputy Flanagan's problem. I think he should reflect on those figures because they are very serious indeed. Even with the reduced output of houses this year we have the situation in all our cities and larger towns that there are houses ready for occupation and plenty of people willing to buy them but they cannot do it because they cannot get finance from the traditional source of finance for such houses—that is the building societies.

The Government by accepting this amendment can go a very long way to solving that problem now at the stroke of a pen. This House has the opportunity between now and nine o'clock this morning, by accepting this amendment, to fill those houses and ensure that more and more houses will be built this year and to ensure that the trend we have seen on the Central Bank figures for the first quarter of this year will be reversed in the second half of the year. If the House fails to pass this amendment it is ensuring that those houses will continue to remain empty because the people who are anxious to buy their own houses will be unable to do so. It is perfectly simple now to solve that problem. It cannot be argued as it was legitimately argued, I accept this, on Committee Stage that what we are now proposing would in any way help people who have a considerable amount of money to invest because the limit we are proposing here on investment is £5,000 which is a reasonably small sum and is not going to allow anybody of——

I want the Deputy to conclude now.

I conclude.

The Deputy wants improvements but his party did nothing. His party had 25 years to do it.

Very briefly I want to say that later today there will be very good news for house purchasers.

And they will not like that either.

Is the Minister not accepting the amendment?

Amendment put and declared lost.

The question is: "That all amendments set down by the Minister for Finance for the Report Stage are hereby made to the Bill, and the Report Stage is hereby completed and the Bill is hereby passed by Dáil Éireann."

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 55; Níl, 49.

  • Barry, Peter.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Begley, Michael.
  • Belton, Luke.
  • Belton, Paddy.
  • Bermingham, Joseph.
  • Bruton, John.
  • Burke, Dick.
  • Burke, Joan T.
  • Burke, Liam.
  • Collins, Edward.
  • Conlan, John F.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Cooney, Patrick M.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Coughlan, Stephen.
  • Creed, Donal.
  • Crotty, Kieran.
  • Cruise-O'Brien, Conor.
  • Desmond, Barry.
  • Desmond, Eileen.
  • Dockrell, Henry P.
  • Dockrell, Maurice.
  • Donegan, Patrick S.
  • Dunne, Thomas.
  • Esmonde, John G.
  • Finn, Martin.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Cavan).
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Gilhawley, Eugene.
  • Governey, Desmond.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Kelly, John.
  • Kenny, Henry.
  • Kyne, Thomas A.
  • L'Estrange, Gerald.
  • Lynch, Gerard.
  • McDonald, Charles B.
  • McLaughlin, Joseph.
  • Malone, Patrick.
  • Murphy, Michael P.
  • O'Brien, Fergus.
  • O'Donnell, Tom.
  • O'Leary, Michael.
  • O'Sullivan, John L.
  • Pattison, Seamus.
  • Ryan, John J.
  • Ryan, Richie.
  • Spring, Dan.
  • Staunton, Myles.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Toal, Brendan.
  • Tully, James.
  • White, James.

Níl

  • Allen, Lorcan.
  • Blaney, Neil T.
  • Brady, Philip A.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Brugha, Ruairí.
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Callanan, John.
  • Calleary, Seán.
  • Carter, Frank.
  • Colley, George.
  • Cronin, Jerry.
  • Crowley, Flor.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Cunningham, Liam.
  • Lemass, Noel T.
  • Leonard, James.
  • Loughnane, William.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacSharry, Ray.
  • Meaney, Tom.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Moore, Seán.
  • Nolan, Thomas.
  • de Valera, Vivion.
  • Farrell, Joseph.
  • Faulkner, Pádraig.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Dublin Central).
  • Flanagan, Seán.
  • French, Seán.
  • Gallagher, Denis.
  • Gibbons, Hugh.
  • Gibbons, James.
  • Gogan, Richard P.
  • Haughey, Charles.
  • Healy, Augustine A.
  • Herbert, Michael.
  • Hussey, Thomas.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Kitt, Michael F.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Malley, Desmond.
  • Sheridan, Joseph.
  • Timmons, Eugene.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Walsh, Seán.
  • Wilson, John P.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Kelly and B. Desmond; Níl, Deputies Browne and Healy.
Question declared carried.

This Bill is certified a Money Bill in accordance with Article 22 of the Constitution.

May I take this opportunity on behalf of all Members of the House to express our very sincere gratitude to all the staffs of Oireachtas Éireann who have assisted us during somewhat difficult and strained and strange hours? Without their help and their loyalty we could not have completed this business. This reference is extended to the Captain, the Ushers and to the Official Reporters—this is something which might make us nervous because they have had to record every word we have spoken over many, many hours, hours when we would normally be asleep and when we may not have been very alert. I wish also to express a word of gratitude to the gentlemen of the Press who were in attendance at all times to record our words of wisdom and otherwise for the benefit of our electorate. Might I also mention on this occasion people who are never mentioned but to whom we owe a special debt of gratitude at all times, the civil servants. When we are discussing a Finance Bill it is a time which is particularly difficult, with all sorts of technical difficulties, and I should like to say a special word of thanks to the officers of the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners who at all times were at my elbow to convey to the House, through me, their guidance and wisdom. To all these people, without whom the democratic machine could not operate, we owe a special debt of gratitude.

I should like to be associated with the expression of gratitude which we have heard from the Minister for Finance, to all those whom he mentioned and also the staff of the restaurant and the bars, who obviously were kept somewhat busy, those serving in the kitchens and all those who were involved in this difficult operation. When one considers that the staff are about to face another long day and also a session of the other House, one appreciates the strain that is being put on them. We very sincerely appreciate the help and co-operation we have got from them.

I should like to join with those who have already spoken in regard to the staffs. Might I make the suggestion, a very practical one, that for all those who have had to do this work unnecessarily during the small hours of the night and morning and are getting nothing extra for it——

——there is a more practical way of dealing with it than the manner in which it is being done by way of expressing thanks?

The Dáil adjourned at 9.15 a.m. until 11 a.m. on Thursday, 25th July, 1974.