Local Government (Planning and Development) Bill, 1973: Committee Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on amendment No. 92:
In page 20, line 3, to delete "in the interests of amenity" and to delete all words from and including "to" in line 5 down to and including "interest" in line 8.
—(Deputy Haughey.)

I am very reluctant to incur your displeasure by being in any way repetitive but I feel that the Minister has not, as yet, replied satisfactorily to the argument I have made on the question of making conservation orders. I want to assure the Minister that I will not labour this point. It seems to me that the change made by him will not improve matters. I confess that I cannot elucidate from him his reasons for these changes. I am leaving aside the question of his adding the word "outstanding" to "natural beauty", as a qualification for the making of a special amenity area order. There is no point in pursuing that any further. The Minister has given his reasons. I do not regard them as very adequate reasons but there is no point in arguing further about it.

I ask the Minister to look at his proposals for conservation orders again. The situation is simple. Under the principal Act the planning authority could make a conservation order more or less for any time they thought desirable to do so, for any part of their planning authority area. When this change is made by the Minister such planning authority will only be able to make a conservation order for a particular species of flora or fauna if a special amenity area order has been made. As we know, special amenity area orders have not been made up to now. We have no guarantee that they will be made more frequently in the future. Therefore, to a large extent, this new provision of the Minister will bring about a situation where conservation orders will not be made by planning authorities.

I do not think it is valid for the Minister to say that the new Wildlife Bill, introduced by the Minister for Lands, will take care of the situation. It certainly represents a considerable advance and is welcome. If it is worthwhile leaving the power with planning authorities to make conservation orders then it is worthwhile making sure that the power to make conservation orders is effective. Otherwise, it would be better to abolish conservation orders altogether and leave it all to the wildlife legislation. I do not think that would be satisfactory, and I am sure the Minister would not think so either. No matter what the wildlife legislation provides it is important that planning authorities should have this power to make conservation orders. If they have the power then it should be effective power. If this restriction is introduced restricting conservation orders to areas where special amenity area orders have already been made then this is of no value whatsoever.

The point I am making is very valid. I suggest that the Minister consider it. If my amendment is adopted then the new subsection (1) of section 46 will read as follows:

If it appears to a planning authority, after consultation with the prescribed authorities, that it is expedient to make provision to preserve from extinction or otherwise to protect any flora or fauna in an area or part of an area they may make an order prohibiting,

and so on. In other words, we are just spelling it out quite clearly and simply that, if the planning authority thinks there is a need for one of these conservation orders, it will have the right to make that conservation order irrespective of whether or not there is a special amenity area order already in existence. You will also notice that I am deleting the words "in the interests of amenity" even though I admit they existed in the original subsection (1) of section 46. My only reason for deleting them at this stage is because I do not think they add anything to it. The Planning authority can decide that it is expedient for any reason not necessarily in the interests of amenity. I do not think there is much point in pursuing this argument to the point of exhaustion, but I cannot be satisfied that the Minister is improving the situation or that, in any reply that he has given me so far, he advanced any valid reasons for this change that he is making.

As Deputy Haughey said, there is no point in repeating, and I think one of the faults in having such as we had, a break for an hour is that we tend to start off again from where we were at first and tend to reargue. I think that would be a pity as we are all so anxious to get this Bill through the House. The existing legislation, which is wide open for 12 years, had only two such orders made. One of them is on appeal.

Does the Minister mean special amenity or conservation?

Special amenity, one, and conservation, two. The conservation one is on appeal to the High Court. Its landowner has appealed against the decision of the local authority. As it stands, it is like a certain section of the Road Traffic Act. Because it created a certain offence of manslaughter, nobody was ever charged because it was too serious an offence. Nobody wanted to do this sort of thing. Nobody wanted it used. What I am trying to do is to make it tight so that people will know exactly what they are dealing with and will, if they consider it is important, deal with it.

With regard to Deputy Haughey's second point, it is true that at the present time going through the Seanad is a Bill which—the Opposition did not know this but I knew it—is going to deal with the question of preservation. The Department of Lands will be dealing with flora and fauna but we felt that that was not enough and that the right should be there with the planning authority, in case that they felt that at national level it would not be dealt with, and there might be a section that they would like to put a special order on so we are leaving the authority there for them. It is as simple as that.

But you are restricting it to special amenity area orders.

Nobody is using it. In regard to special amenity areas we are encouraging people to use it for those particular areas. We cannot prolong the argument about it any longer.

I am not going to prolong it. I merely want to make one point and, as I do not want to prolong the debate now, I will not go into the details. I want to make this point in favour of Deputy Haughey's amendment and the necessity of keeping the broadest powers possible. It is not the problem, as it has been the Minister's argument that the invocation so far has been minimal; it is the problem of development and the cost of putting things right. I am thinking particularly of coastal areas where a real conservation problem can develop. I am not thinking only of Dublin. I am thinking of our west coast and so on. It is very important that the broad powers that Deputy Haughey is talking about should be with the Minister for Local Government as the ultimate here. Looking to the future and the cost, if things are let go out of control, if there is any delay in having the proper controls now we will pay for it. I will content myself with saying that in the interests of expedition.

Question: "That the words proposed be deleted stand" put and declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.
Question proposed:"That section 31 stand part of the Bill".

Is the Minister satisfied with the level of the fine of £50 in regard to noise?

I think £50 is enough. I will have a look at it but I will not guarantee to change it.

The Minister will agree that noise is now becoming one of the most serious problems we have and for that reason I think it is essential that we should take all steps possible to abate this nuisance.

Question put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 93.

In page 20, between lines 28 and 29, to insert:

"(iv) (b) measures to reduce or prevent the emission of heat, gases or particulate matter into the atmosphere."

One of our greatest problems today is the emission of fumes into the air. There may be provisions enabling local authorities to take action but there seems to be very little action taken. An eminent consultant of St. Luke's Hospital has said that there was a greater chance of getting cancer in Grafton Street from the fumes emitted from buses and cars than there was from smoking cigarettes. More action should be taken in this area. We have factories burning fuels, in some cases sub-standard fuels, emitting quite a lot of sulphur or other matter into the air and very little, if any, action is taken. Smokeless zones should be looked at and examined and action should be taken where necessary. The air we breathe determines to a great degree our health. I accept that local authorities have certain powers but these powers are not being exercised. When granting permissions certain codes of conduct are laid down but that seems to be the end of it. The permission is granted and those concerned go ahead and proceed to pollute the atmosphere and very little action is taken.

I am asking the Minister to look at it and examine it so that something can be done which will ensure clearer air and that factories adhere to the standards laid down. Stricter codes should be laid down for heavy vehicular traffic which is becoming heavier on the roads. Every day of the week, as you drive along, you can get a belt of carbon monoxide gas in the window and this is not very healthy.

It gives one a lovely red face.

It would be worse if you got a belt of the car.

It might not be.

There is no objection to the spirit of the amendment but the wording would need a bit of tidying up. This is a genuine amendment at which I would like to have a look and, if necessary, bring in on Report Stage. I would not like to guarantee I would bring it in because, when it is further examined, it may be found it does not adequately cover the situation. I will have another look at it between now and Report Stage.

That is the spirit in which I put it down. I hoped the Minister would look at it and have it examined.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 94:

In page 21, lines 2 to 6, to substitute the following paragraphs for paragraph (a):

"(a) the substitution in paragraph (a) of section 82 (2) of ‘appeal to the Minister' for ‘reference or appeal';

(b) to insert in paragraph (b) of section 82 (2) ‘,or any oral hearing held pursuant to section 76 of this Act, as amended by section 34 (1) of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1974,' after ‘hearing' in paragraph (b);".

This is a drafting amendment. It sets out in separate paragraphs the provisions and regulations to be made in relation to orders made. There are two types of case which will be made by the Minister, appeals in relation to building regulations and closure of public rights of way.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 33, as amended, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 95:

In page 22, between lines 1 and 2, before paragraph (a) to insert the following paragraph:

"(a) the addition to subsection (6) of section 2 of the following paragraph:

(c) A declaration made under this subsection may be amended by the council of a county by whom it was made and the making of any such amendment shall be a reserved function.' ".

The purpose of this amendment is to provide that the areas declared by a county council to be comprised in a town, specified in Part II of the First Schedule of the Principal Act, may be amended by that. A number of planning authorities have drawn attention to the fact that provision in the 1963 Act does not appear to give the necessary power to amend the declaration.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 96:

In page 22, subsection (1),

(i) between lines 6 and 7 to insert the following paragraphs before paragraph (b):

"(b) the insertion of the following new subsection after subsection (1) of section 4:

‘(1A) Where a planning authority in their development plan, for the purpose mentioned in paragraph 5A of Part IV of the Third Schedule to this Act, (inserted therein by section 34 of the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1974), indicate objectives for the preservation of specified fixtures or features which form part of the interior of a structure specified in the development plan and which are stated in such plan to be of artistic, historic or architectural interest, then, notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, works which involve the alteration or removal of, or which may cause injury to, any such fixture or feature shall not be exempted development for the purposes of this Act.';

(c) the insertion of the following new paragraph after paragraph (c) of section 14 (2):

‘(cc) a body or person providing homes or shelters for stray or unwanted dogs and cats,';",

(ii) between lines 15 and 16 to insert the following paragraph before paragraph (d):

"(d) by the substitution of the following paragraph for paragraph (c) of section 21 (1):

‘(c) Where the draft includes any provision relating to any structure or internal fixture or feature proposed to be preserved because of its artistic, historic or architectural interest, they shall serve notice (which shall incorporate particulars of the provision) of the preparation of the draft on the owner and on the occupier of the structure concerned.';",


(iii) between lines 35 and 36, to add the following paragraphs to the subsection:

"(g) the addition of ‘buildings or structures for the purpose of providing homes or shelters for stray or unwanted dogs and cats', to paragraph (b) of section 77 (2); and

(h) the insertion of the following paragraph in Part IV of the Third Schedule before paragraph 6;

‘5A. Preservation of plasterwork, staircases, woodwork or other fixtures or features of artistic, historic or architectural interest and forming part of the interior of structures.'."

This is a lengthy amendment entailing the insertion in section 34 of five new paragraphs consisting of various amendments to the 1963 Act. They relate to only two matters. One is the preservation of internal features in certain buildings and the point has sometimes been made that, while the 1963 Act enables buildings to be listed for preservation, it exempts internal alterations,vide section 41 (g) of the Act. Thus no protection could be given to distinctive features of special interest. Joint committees of a number of voluntary bodies have sought to have this remedied by an amendment of paragraph 5 of Part IV of the Third Schedule of the 1963 Act to enable a development plan to have objectives for preservation of both the exteriors and interiors of buildings. The matter is not simple and a number of related amendments are also necessary. A new paragraph (b) amends provision in section 4 of the 1963 Act giving exemptions for internal alterations. New paragraph (d), the second part of the proposed amendment, applies the provisions of section 21 of the 1963 Act in relation to a special notice which is required at present if a building is listed. This notice to the owner and occupier will have to be given if either the structure or internal features is or are being listed for preservation.

New paragraph (h) in the third part of the amendment enables inclusion in a development plan of an objective to secure the preservation of internal fixtures or features of artistic, historic or architectural interest. This would include things like staircases, plaster work, oak panelling, fireplaces and so on. While it is difficult to secure effective control over internal features, and there has been some doubt as to the value of the provision, nevertheless there is something to be said for listing certain features and placing some obligation on the owners and occupiers of buildings in which they are located. Since this is 1975 Architectural Heritage Year, the House might agree that provision should be made on the lines indicated. That is not the only reason, but it is an additional reason.

The second matter dealt with in the amendment may appear inappropriate in a Local Government Bill dealing with planning and development. For some years past there has been an expectation that the permissive powers of local authorities would be widened. This would enable them, if they wished, to do something about the problem of stray or unwanted dogs and cats or assist the voluntary bodies concerned. As far back as 1965, Dublin Corporation expressed their willingness to subvent the Dublin Dogs and Cats Home but they had no statutory powers to do so. During the past year numerous representations have been received from the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and other interested parties. Accordingly, it has been decided to take this opportunity to remedy the position. So new paragraph (b) in part 1 of the amendment is to amend section 14 of the 1963 Act so as to permit assistance to be given to any appropriate body or person. New paragraphs (g) of part 3 is to amend section 77 (2) of the 1963 Act so as to enable a planning authority to provide buildings or structures as homes or shelters for stray or unwanted dogs and cats.

I am all in favour of endeavouring in so far as possible to preserve worth-while internal features in a building. In relation to the external features, they are pretty obvious to everybody and therefore it would be relatively easy for a planning authority to decide that a certain control should be exercised. It is quite a different situation in regard to the internal features because in some instances the external features might not be anything out of the ordinary while the internal features might be out of the ordinary and I would like to know from the Minister how it will be possible to get some information in relation to internal features which are worth preserving?

It is a very good question. Perhaps everybody in this House is aware of certain buildings in which there are features which should be preserved but in regard to which no preservation order and no notice has been served. It is not going to be perfect. It could not be because there will be many internal features that should be preserved, and will not be preserved and what we are hoping is that at least some of them will be preserved. But there will have to be a notice served. Perhaps it would not be a bad idea for those of us who know of such internal features in building to go to the trouble of bringing them to the notice of the necessary authority so that a notice could be served.

In answer to Deputy Faulkner's point very often photographs of these things are submitted.

That is so. Those that are photographed are usually easily picked out. Many of them in this city are not photographed. People keep altering the inside of houses for their own accommodation and I suppose that is fair enough.

Suppose a person were to apply for a reconstruction grant, would it be part of the duty of the official investigating the case, if he notes that the internal structure is worth preserving, to make this known to the Department or the local authority?

What Deputy Faulkner has said might be an idea worth considering. Certainly, as of now, it is not part of his job.

It would not be possible to do anything as of now, would it?

Will the Office of Public Works be exempted from these provisions?

They will.

In this city some of the best ceilings and fireplaces are in houses and buildings owned by the Office of Public Works. One would like to see these included. The provisions, for what they are worth, are worth while doing. In other parts of this legislation the Minister says the work is not worth while doing for all that is involved. We are, perhaps, inclined to be a bit more forthcoming in that regard than the Minister is.

I cannot help thinking of a famous occasion in this House when Deputy Joe Brennan was Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. He was being questioned about whether or not a letter box which had been removed from a wall would be put back. In his capacity as Minister for Posts and Telegraphs he replied to the effect that the letter box could not be resored in its former position in the wall because the wall had since been demolished. It is very doubtful if it is worth much to make preservation orders for interior features if, at the same time, you do not insist that the structure itself be preserved.

That does not follow. Deputy Haughey should understand that already in this city quite a number of ceilings, for instance, have been removed and preserved when the buildings were demolished, and fireplaces too.

Public buildings are more important in this context than private buildings to a great extent. By and large, it is much more important to preserve the structure as a whole rather than to itemise one particular internal feature.

Be that as it may, it interests me also that the Minister is prepared to provide facilities for establishing homes and shelters for stray or unwanted dogs and cats but he is not at the same time prepared to assume responsibility for the preservation of our natural environment. The contrast intrigues me.

Deputy Haughey would then say that because of the fact that I am not looking after frogs and squirrels and snails, dogs and cats should be allowed to suffer. I do not follow that line of argument at all.

As far as public buildings are concerned, I agree, but there is already legislation—the 1963 Act—for the purpose of having buildings preserved. What we are afraid of is that people will gut the inside of a building without any reference to features which should be preserved. Quite frankly, this is an effort which will have to be worked on over the years. It is a step in the right direction.

I compliment the Minister on the spirit of the section. On the other hand, I am mildly disappointed that we are not indicating how it is proposed to carry out the preservation in question. If any of us know of parts of buildings that should be preserved there is a responsibility on us. I would like to see the matter tightened considerably more than that.

In European capitals there are perfect examples, most noticeably in the city of Bruges where there was part preservation. In some places the gable end of an old building has been married to a more modern structure and staircases have been preserved. I understand they are more vigilant than we are and it is not left to chance. I wonder if the Minister visualises the introduction of some scheme whereby that which is worthy of preservation will be preserved.

Deputy Tunney is talking about the mechanics of it. I have just said this is something that will have to be worked on. We must have it in the Bill now. If we get it passed and it becomes law, we must devise a way in which we can operate it. It will not be possible to force people to give the evidence which they may have and it would be wrong to do that. On the other hand, Bruges is a long way off the beaten track but if you take Paris and Rome, which many people have visited, in Rome there is an almost complete preservation order on the older part of the city. No work of any kind can be done without special permission. This has boomeranged because certain well-known establishments such as the Colosseum have been falling down. It was nearly all down before they realised they had overstepped the mark. In Paris recently an order was made that certain buildings must be kept up to standard. If they are not, if he cannot afford to do it, the owner of the building must dispose of it.

The Moulin Rouge.

Try that in Dublin and see what would happen. We are attempting to do something. Maybe the step is too small but it is a step in the right direction and I would ask the support of the House for it.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 34, as amended, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 97:

Before section 35 to insert a new section as follows.

"35.—(1) The Minister shall have the authority to list buildings as being of histrical or artistic importance and shall be empowered to publish such lists from time to time.

(2) In the case of listed buildings, no structural changes or alterations may be made either to the exterior or the interior of such buildings without prior enquiry by the Board. In the event of permission being granted by the Board for such structural changes or alterations, specific grounds for such permission shall be stated.

(3) Such power to list buildings shall be exercised by the Minister in consultation with the local planning authority and such other bodies as he may from time to time determine.

(4) If it appears to the Minister that the environs of a listed building are endangered by building construction or other developments, he shall have authority to make such regulations as may be necessary to conserve such environs."

We have quite a number of buildings of historical and artistic importance. Some of them are listed already but there are quite a number that should be listed so as to ensure that the public know about them. In many areas there are buildings of historical importance and the information in relation to them is available in the locality. Very often, outside of that, there is little knowledge of them. It would be worth while in this respect adopting the proposal put forward by Deputy Molloy. It is a pity some such section was not inserted in the original Bill because many of the buildings which would have been of historical and, perhaps, artistic importance have now vanished from the scene. There should be an obligation on the planning authority to ensure that such buildings are not allowed to fall into decay.

There are buildings which may not be of any great utilitarian value but if they have an intrinsic value we should concern ourselves about them. Some of the buildings Deputy Molloy had in mind housed some of the greatest patriots we had. They were allowed to fall into disuse. If the planning authority concerned themselves about such buildings, they would be preserved for posterity. It would be a pity to allow them to vanish. We are very proud of our past history and we should concern ourselves about the physical aspects of that history. Therefore, I would request the Minister to give favourable consideration to the amendment.

The amendment is not acceptable. The new section proposed would transfer to the Minister responsibility for listing buildings of historical or artistic importance and would remove from the planning authorities the present discretion in the matter despite the fact that they would have to shoulder responsibility for any compensation liability which might arise. A lot of extra power should devolve on the local authorities but this would be the direct opposite. The authority is there and the power and I would not like to be responsible for taking it from them. Deputy Faulkner will agree on reflection that this is a matter which would be better left with local authorities rather than have the State taking up the responsibility as suggested here. Even though there is provision for consultation in the amendment it would be seen as removing a function from the planning authority and contrary to the policy which I have enunciated. It is undesirable that the whole question of preservation of buildings should be dealt with in this way. I would not be prepared to accept the amendment.

Is the Minister satisfied in present circumstances that the local authorities and the planning authorities are fulfilling the obligation which the Minister says is on them?

Not as well as they should but I have been reminding them.

That is, more or less, the basis for the amendment. We want to ensure that they would carry out the duties which are their duties but which in many instances they are not doing anything at all about.

I would prefer to try to keep pressure on them which I have done to get them to do more of this work but I would not be prepared to agree to this amendment.

Is the Minister satisfied with the position of a building listed by a local authority on its development plan for preservation?

What is meant by the position of the building?

Is he satisfied that the mere fact that the planning authority list it on its development plan for preservation is sufficient?

It cannot be demolished without the permission of the local authority.

Have they any power to help in its preservation, for example?

They could assist in many things but if they started to agree to pay compensation to preserve buildings of this kind, I could see quite a list.

I am looking at it from the opposite point of view. I do not think the existing law is adequate.

I am not happy that it is being operated to the full but it is adequate if it were so operated.

I know a house which is listed on a development plan for preservation but it is an idle exercise to list a house under a development plan for preservation. It does not really go beyond that; there is no follow up; there is no inspection. Even accepting the Minister's principle of the devolution of this authority and task to the local authority, there is scope for further improvement in respect of the type of building in which we are all interested. I have gone into this in the case of one or two buildings I know. What happens is that the planning authority, in preparing their development plan, list the buildings of significance and importance in a particular area. The authority mark them down on their development plan as being category A or category B, but the matter ends there; there is no follow up.

There is one thing which might not be of much importance to Deputy Haughey but is of importance to us, the question of money. The cost of putting and keeping in repair some of those buildings which are listed would be astronomical. While we all strive for the ideal, I am trying to ensure that the local authority have the onus to list them. If we agree to provide the money to have them repaired, it would cost an awful lot of money. If, on the other hand, as soon as a building was listed we tried to force the owner to do that we all know what the result would be.

Let me be specific. In my immediate area we had a very prominent feature which was old Feltrim mill.

Over the quarry?

Yes. Someone, who shall be nameless, came along one weekend when none of us was paying any attention and knocked it down. That was the end of it and there was nothing we could do about it.

It is about the only thing that happened around that area night or day that somebody did not see.

It happened over a weekend. It is gone and the neighbours and everybody concerned were very annoyed about it. It is a great loss to the whole area. It was a very important amenity and it disappeared but there was absolutely nothing we could do about it.

I do not think it was listed.

Even if it had been, what could we do about it? It disappeared.

I do not think it was listed.

Will the Minister state what the purpose of listing is?

It was Deputy Molloy who put in the amendment.

The Minister has stated that the planning authority must list.

Those who introduced the first legislation must have considered there was some merit in it. I have been urging the planning authorities to give more attention to this problem. I agree we should attempt to preserve those buildings but there is no point in passing something here and saying it should be done if we are not able to put up all the money required. We cannot force people who own those buildings to preserve them. If the building referred to was to be preserved, I pass that road often and could have missed it; it might not have been terribly important——

It is important; I have a very good painting of it.

It should be worth more money now since the existing building is not there. Since we have not got any way in which we can preserve them all, we are asking that they be listed. It is just a gesture.

My interest would stretch a little beyond single buildings. I would be hoping that we should be concerned with the preservation of dwelling houses. The Minister for Local Government, more than anybody else, should be concerned about the type of houses we have had here for the last century. They need not necessarily be special Georgian or Victorian type but houses which would indicate the history of building. It is a pity that we have not a policy towards the retention of houses. I am thinking of two houses built in Finglas in my youth. At that time we were all interested because they were a Swiss idea. They were built without blocks under a system whereby a form of sacking was first erected and onto the sacking was applied some other material. I am indicating that as an example. Across the road from that there is an example of the attractive labourer's cottage type of house. Our future generations will be thankful to us, apart from the houses referred to by Deputy Faulkner and the building referred to by Deputy Haughey, if we retain examples of dwelling houses and houses which would indicate the evolution of housing here. There is no better man than the Minister for Local Government to do this.

Let me give a very brief answer. I have encouraged local authorities, particularly Dublin Corporation, to do what Deputy Tunney has said. If those older houses can be acquired and made habitable by local authorities and those who need houses put into them that is the ideal way, even better than Deputy Haughey's mill. I would rather see money spent on them. If they are preserved, they are listed and they cannot be demolished without special permission. Maybe a lot more of those type of houses should be listed but, again, it is a matter for the local authority rather than passing it to central Government.

What about the evolution of oil refineries?

The one in Dublin Bay will be painted eventually, no doubt.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 98:

In page 22, in line 42, to delete "and" where it secondly occurs and in line 44 after "paragraph" to insert "; and paragraph (c) of section 82 (2)".

This is a consequential amendment. The new section, 21, provides specifically for reports of oral hearings and their consideration by the Minister. Accordingly, it is no longer necessary that the regulations of section 82 of the 1963 Act should cover the matter and the relevant paragraph is being repealed.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 35, as amended, agreed to.
Section 36 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 99:

In Article 1, third line, after "land" to add "necessary for the proper functioning of the Board".

The Minister will agree that this is a very reasonable amendment. I agree that the board are unlikely to go on a land-acquiring venture but——

They might go into the land speculation business.

I would not know about that.

——we should set some bounds as to what the board are entitled to do and this should be clearly set out so that a person who might be aggrieved because of some action by the board would have grounds on which to take action.

It is difficult to understand the purpose of this amendment. It seeks a provision which has been long accepted as standing, for instance, in respect of the Arts Act, 1951, the Opticians Act, 1956, the Industrial Training Act, 1967, and the Higher Education Act, 1971. Bodies set up under these and other Acts have been given the same power to hold and dispose of land normally to provide office premises for themselves. It is not to be suggested that boards would be any less trustworthy than those bodies. There is a misunderstanding in the thinking behind the proposal and I would ask that the amendment be withdrawn. Technically, it is defective but that does not arise here as its effect would not appear to be that the board would be authorised not only to acquire and hold but also to dispose of land necessary for the proper functioning of the board.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 100:

In page 23, Article 2, to delete "two" and to substitute "four".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 101:

In Article 2, to delete all words after "not less than" and substitute "four ordinary members at least one of whom shall be a qualified architect and one of whom shall be a qualified town planner; both of whom shall have at least ten years approved experience in their respective fields at senior level".

Perhaps we can take Nos. 101, 102 and 103 together since they are all allied. Deputy Molloy has a very good point but in view of the fact that the Minister has increased the number from two to four we could agree to withdraw Deputy Molloy's amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 102:

In Article 2, page 23, after "two" to insert " and not more than five".

In this amendment I am proposing to restrict the board to not more than five people. I do not know how many people for membership of the board the Minister has in mind but we should restrict the membership to some number. In amendment No. 103 I am proposing to specify that at least three of the ordinary members of the board should be either a qualified civil engineer, a qualified architect or a qualified town planner. There is some merit in that.

We have seen the way the Minister —perhaps not this Minister but other Ministers in this present Administration—are inclined to put completely unqualified pals into all sorts of niches and jobs. We do not want this to happen to this board. The members of the board should have some qualifications apart from membership of either Fine Gael or the Labour Party. Therefore, the Minister should consider laying down some qualifications for them.

If we take amendment No. 114 with these and if I accept amendment No. 114, the problem should be solved. I know the trouble that Deputy Haughey and his colleagues had with this matter in previous Governments. I appreciate they are anxious to ensure that nobody else will do what they did.

Is there provision for a deputy in the event of the chairman being ill for a prolonged period?

There is provision for a deputy.

Amendment No. 114 deals with casual vacancies.

It is consequential on amendment No. 100 so that if we take those two together, we will arrive at what the Deputies opposite are seeking. They have already accepted amendment No. 100 and amendment No. 114 provides for certain qualifications.

It has nothing to do with qualifications.

I will accept amendment No. 114 if we drop the others.

Amendment No. 101 has been withdrawn and we are suggesting in amendment No. 102 that the Minister should limit the number of the board to five.

There is no way of knowing at this stage the number of ordinary members required. It would be a mistake to limit it to five now. It depends on the volume of appeals.

We do not want a board of 21 people but we want an effective working board. We are suggesting that the number be limited to five.

Would it not be possible to have a number of people, say ten, from whom the four or five would be chosen to sit on the board for any one appeal having regard to their expertise, and so on?

If we had a bigger number of ordinary members, they could undertake hearings.

How many has the Minister in mind?

It is very difficult to state a figure. If the present volume continues, a very big number would be required. It is one of the reasons why there is a hold-up in planning, and I would prefer not to put in a specific number, should the Opposition accept the fact that this is simply a matter of trying to have enough people to try to get around.

Normally on a board like this you put some upper limit on the number.

Is it the case that there must be a big number to clear the present backlog? What happens when the——

The present backlog is not an issue because they do not pass on; unfortunately they stay with me. But with the volume of appeals that have been coming in, and I assume will continue to come in, it requires a bigger number. For instance, one of the troubles of the Labour Court is that disputes have been held up because there are not enough officials to go around doing——

That is not the real trouble.

It is one of the troubles, because they have not been able to deal with these. The people who are doing it are being overworked. What I am suggesting is that if we leave this open certainly there will not be more appointed than is necessary but at least we would have enough to deal with whatever cases were coming.

Has the Minister any idea what qualifications those geniuses are going to have?

I think it was Deputy Callanan who said that he would rather trust the TDs here in the House than anybody else, so if we take a cross section of TDs with no qualifications at all, they might do quite well.

Yes, and I know just as much about planning as some of the Minister's appointees who would have high qualifications——

Do I understand from the Minister that he could visualise a board of, say, up to 21 and that what would happen is that a panel would be selected from this board to deal with a particular planning appeal, and that, if necessary, this board would go on circuit to hear planning appeals?

Individual members of the board. I would suggest that we put it at 10 and on Report Stage I will put in a definite amendment.

Does the Minister then expect that the members of the board will do the work that is being done at the moment by the Chief Planning Inspectors in the Department?

The same type of work. They could, yes, that is right.

Carry out inspections?

Does the Minister think that if a number of people are sent to the appointments commission, a number of them will be called? Will the board sit on every planning appeal? There are certain people being called on that board to deal with a definite——

At the present time an inspector is selected for a hearing so I would assume the same system would have to operate.

Ten, out of which there would be someone selected to do each case.

Is the Minister assuming that one particular individual would be called on to deal with a particular appeal?

You would not send the ten out to do one appeal.

I would not like to send one of them either.

Unfortunately we will have to send one.

I would not like——

Is the Deputy suggesting that we ignore the Bill and that I should proceed to do it myself?

No. I am saying that whatever Minister is there has to account to the people for his decisions.

Is the amendment withdrawn?

Withdrawn on the understanding that an amendment will be brought in on Report.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 103:

Before Article 3 to insert a new Article as follows:

"(3) At least three of the ordinary members of the Board must be either a qualified civil engineer, a qualified architect or a qualified town planner."

Would the Minister not agree that it would be very helpful in a board of this type that you would have people who were qualified to assess and evaluate the expert advice which will be available to the board? I am aware that expert advice will be available to the board, but I would hope that if there were some experts on it they would, from their experience and knowledge in their particular professions, be better able to assess the advice that is given.

However, I do not want to suggest that I want all experts on the board. Some experts are suggested by Deputy Haughey and particularly now that the Minister proposes to have quite a considerable number of members on the board, I am not pressing that all of the members should be professional people, very far from it. I am very anxious that the members would be available and would be fully represented in any decisions that are made. Nevertheless I do think that the Minister might consider the amendment put forward by Deputy Haughey.

The only trouble is, where are we going to stop? Are we going to stipulate that there should be an architect, various types of engineers, solicitors—go right around the whole way? At the present time we have technical advice in the Department. That technical advice will still be available. There are some of them who are qualified in those fields. It is quite possible that people like that could be appointed. I think it would be a mistake to tie ourselves down now and we then have to introduce people. A hearing takes place and an architect takes the hearing. The question arises would it be better for the person appearing if it was the engineer who turned up that day or the lawyer? You have all sorts of these qualifications being considered and we have requests for individual members to do certain things. I do not think we should tie ourselves in this way. I suggest that we leave the number and see if we can get the best possible people to make up the board.

I understood that the board would take the decision collectively, in other words that the combined membership of the board or the quorum for a meeting of the board would sign the decision.

It would not be possible to have a whole covey of board members travelling around the country for appeals, because we would get only one appeal a day. What Deputy O'Leary is saying is quite correct. When the decisions are taken the members must come back in, discuss them and make a decision at that level, but the hearing, the process of preparing it, will have to be done at individual level. The board will not base the decision principally on the report of a Departmental Inspector. They will base the decision on the inspection and on the report of a member of the board. Deputy O'Leary is confusing the report and oral hearings. A report which is made is one thing; the oral hearing is a different thing. I am talking about oral hearings——

I understand.

In the circumstances where there may be a membership of ten on the board it would obviously be advisable to have such expertise as is indicated here. On the other hand, I would hope, again in circumstances where the members of this House who are discussing this Bill at the moment do not qualify under these professional heads, that when considering membership of the board he would also bear in mind that there are non-professional people who have views to offer and who are capable of adjudicating——

This is the point that Deputy Callanan has been talking about all the time and one with which I agree. It is all right to make a case for professional people but where do we start or where do we stop?

Three out of ten——

All right, three out of ten. But what three are they? Do we have an engineer, an architect, a solicitor or a town planner? Who are we going to have? I could list off another half dozen people who would be considered just as qualified and who would feel that if we are going to look for professional people who know the job they should be on it. We are going to try to select the best, and if we are going to have the best selected then we should have as wide a field as possible. I agree entirely with Deputy Callanan. You may get some fellow who has not any academic qualifications for the job but does in fact know more about it in ordinary common savvy.

I made the case for both qualified and for the ordinary man——

I imagine we should have a cross-section of both. It is the only way it is going to work.

As the Minister's friend would say, he will have a proper mix.

I do not like the board but I accept that if we have one we should have on it a cross-section of the professional and ordinary people. Engineers and architects do a good job but men who have no qualifications in these professions are also aware of the value of an amenity. A cross-section of the community is absolutely essential. Deputy O'Leary raised a very important point. Previously oral hearings involved an official of the Department who reported to the Minister, who made the final decision. Now the oral hearings will be conducted by a member of the board. Am I to understand he will come back and put his views before the whole board who then make the decision? Is that correct?

Not quite correct. The oral hearing will not in every case be conducted by a member of the board. In minor cases it can be done by an official but the important cases will be done by a member of the board. In each case it must go back before the full board. The report of the official who is not a member of the board will then be considered. that is what Deputy O'Leary was talking about.

Would the Minister consider letting the NAC appoint a chairman?

It is a High Court judge.

I have had an indication in an undertone that amendment No. 103 is withdrawn.

I do not know why the Chair should say it was in an undertone. The amendment was withdrawn.

It was not heard.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 104, 105 and 119 may be taken together as they are related.

I move amendment No. 104:

In page 23, to delete "The chairman of the Board" and to substitute "The chairmanship of the Board shall be whole-time and where the Government appoints a person who is a former judge of the High Court to be chairman of the Board the following provisions shall apply, namely, he" in Article 4.

Amendments Nos. 104, 105 and 119 are all consequential of the provision of the new section 4 instead by amendment No. 2. Amendment No. 104 amends Article 4 to maintain the position that the chairmanship of the board will be a whole-time job but to limit the application of the remaining provision to a case where a former judge is appointed.

Amendment No. 105 is just a drafting change in Article 5 to take account of the position of a judge nominated as chairman. Article 28 provides for the making of a scheme for the granting of pensions to board members. Amendment No. 119 inserts a new paragraph excluding any provision being made in such scheme in respect of a chairman during any period while he is a judge of the High Court. In other words, we do not want to have a duplication there.

I am not clear about the change from chairman of the board to chairmanship of the board. Would the Minister mind repeating that?

It is only a technical term. It means the same thing.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 105:

In page 23, to delete "The chairman may at any time resign his office" and to substitute "The chairman of the Board may resign his chairmanship" in Article 5.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 107 may be taken with amendment No. 106 as it is an alternative.

I move amendment No. 106:

In page 23, to substitute the following Article for Article 6:

"6. Where the chairman of the Board is a person who is a former judge of the High Court, the Government may remove him from the chairmanship if he has become incapable through ill-health of efficiently performing his duties, or if he has committed stated misbehaviour, or if his removal appears to the Government to be necessary for the effective performance by the Board of its functions and in case a chairman of the Board is removed under this Article the Government shall cause to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas a statement in writing of the reasons for the removal."

Amendment No. 106 substitutes a new Article for Article 6 and will apply only to an appointed chairman. It is consequential on the provision of the new section 4 inserted by amendment No. 2.

Suppose an ordinary member came in on that? Could the Minister remove him also?

If we are going to have five as a quorum and if we only have five we might be in difficulty. If we have ten then we will be able to substitute.

Suppose somebody came in and the Minister wanted to remove an ordinary member? Can he do that? It is not mentioned here.

Yes. Article 10 provides for that.

The basic concern we must have in relation to this board is that it must be free from any Government interference. The Minister will agree that the purpose of setting up the board was to remove from the Minister the power he had relating to planning appeals and the transfer to a board. The chairman will be a very important factor in decision-making. Therefore, I think it is vitally necessary that he should be free from any Government interference; otherwise I feel the purpose of the Bill could be nullified. If the Government have the right themselves to remove the chairman at will he is no longer a free agent. He needs to be a free agent to carry out his duties properly.

I do not think it necessary. Article 6 requires the Government to show cause if they remove the chairman of the board from office. If the Government wish to do so they are restricted. The chairman must be incapable through ill-health of efficiently performing his duties or his removal must be necessary for the effective performance of the board of their functions. The board will have considerable administrative responsibility in trying to handle about 4,000 appeals a year. It is unlikely that the chairman will prove grossly inefficient or adopt an obstructive attitude or frustrate the intention of the legislation, but it is necessary to provide for such a situation in case it should arise. It has been known that High Court judges have done some rather peculiar things.

Deputy Molloy drew attention to another aspect, misbehaviour, and it is proposed to cover this specifically in amendment No. 111. If such a situation arose it would be essential for the Government to act promptly. Article 6 restricts the circumstances in which they may act and they have to state reasons in writing which must be brought before both Houses of the Oireachtas, so that there would be no fear that they would act perversely. If the matter had to be debated first in both Houses the effects might be prejudicial to the chairman and the board. Even if he was not removed from office his position would be undermined. It has to be reported to the Dáil and the Seanad. In Article 6 it states the reasons for which he may be removed. We discussed this fully when we were discussing Article 6.

If the reason for removing him was that he was frustrating the intention of the Act, who would decide that? Can the Minister visualise a situation where the Government simply wanted to get rid of the chairman and put this forward as a reason?

If they did that it would then be brought before the Oireachtas and the two Houses have the right to discuss it. Could Deputy Faulkner visualise any Government doing that? Certainly, I should not like to be the Minister involved.

Deputies will appreciate that if the Minister's amendment No. 106 is carried, Deputy Molloy's amendment No. 107 cannot be moved. Deputy Molloy's amendment is an alternative to the Minister's.

Amendment No. 106 agreed to.
Amendment No. 107 not moved.

On behalf of Deputy Molloy, I move amendment No. 108:

To delete Article 7 and substitute:

"7. Each ordinary member of the board shall be appointed through the Civil Service Commission on the basis of independent interview and shall have such qualifications and hold his office on such terms and conditions as the Minister, with the concent of the Minister for the Public Service, determined."

The Minister will accept that over the years the whole question of planning appeals has been rather emotive. It certainly has been very controversial and has brought a fair amount of frustration and annoyance to Ministers Local Government. I think that what Deputy Molloy has in mind here is that the question of the appointment of the board should not in any way militate against the manner in which the members of the board would operate. However annoying it is for politicians to say it, apparently hitherto the taint of the political has been referred to. The members of the board, if appointed by the political head of the Department, may be mildly embarrassed by it. As proposed in the amendment tabled by Deputy Molloy, if members are appointed through the Civil Service Commission, nobody can ever accuse any Minister of having any interest at all. The members of the board would be free from whatever charges, however unfounded, that might be made against them because they might be described as political appointees.

I support Deputy Tunney's plea that members be appointed through the Civil Service Commission, in fairness to both sides of the House and of future Houses.

The amendment is technically ineffective because civil service appointments are made by a Minister after selection by the Commission by way of competition, which provides for interviews as a method of selection. It is not as cut and dried as Deputy Tunney suggests.

The Minister is the sanctioning authority but under the Bill here it is proposed that the Minister himself would make the appointments.

To achieve the Deputy's aim the Article should provide for selection by the Commission by way of competition and appointment by the Minister, which would be the normal way. There appears to be no precedent for this. If I could see a way out of making the appointments I would do so but all State boards are appointed in this way. We would be establishing an entirely new precedent.

This board will be different from the normal State board.

Why would it?

Members of ordinary State boards, with the exception of the chairman, are usually part-time, and I assume from what the Minister said that most of the members of the proposed board, if not all of them, will be full-time and they will be acting in more than just a policy making capacity. They will be acting more in a management capacity.

There are quite a number of State boards which have a lot more power than this board will have.

These boards have not had, or when they were being established, did not have the past that has been attached to planning appeals generally. There is no precedent in the matter of establishing a board for the past that one can attribute to this board. The reason the Minister is establishing the board is that he wants to have planning appeals removed from the political field, as it were.

That is so.

If he pursues that to the ultimate, a case can be made that the Minister, even though he would be a sanctioning authority for the members selected, should not select them.

I am also saying that in the unlikely event of there ever being a change of Government, the present Opposition would have the same right to appoint and I would trust them. I have yet to see a planning decision made on a political basis. I have made decisions on planning appeals and I have bent over backwards deliberately for some persons because they had a doubtful case and they were certainly not political supporters of mine.

Do not go to that conclusion on that one. Would the Minister have any ulterior motive?

No. If I give permission to a Fianna Fáil controlled county council I am not doing it so that they will vote for me at the next election, am I?


The Minister is hardly suggesting that I am casting a slur on him.

There was a slight suggestion here that I had given permission to somebody who was a supporter of his party in the hope that it would be of some use to me. That I will not do and have not done.

The Minister does not really think I was casting a slur.

The point I wanted to make was that the lesson the Minister learned as to the impartiality of his predecessor in the matter of planning appeals is one he has learned because of his privileged position, but unfortunately he is the only person in the country who has had the opportunity of learning that. Other people still think along the wrong lines— whether we should thank him for that or not is another thing—but the fact is that the further planning appeals are removed from the political scene, the better it will be.

There are two points I would make. There is genuine difficulty in applying procedure of this kind in that qualifications have to be declared and selected people would have to be accepted. The quality of the board would be dependent on the number and type of candidates who would present themselves for short term appointments, and the more experienced people are the civil servants who have been dealing with appeals. Even if they were excluded from a competition, there is a danger that the result would give an unbalanced corps consisting mainly of lawyers, architects or members of some other profession. In this Deputy Callanan and I are on the same ground. Professional qualifications are not nearly so important in this case as integrity, common sense——

I withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On behalf of Deputy Haughey I move amendment No. 109:

In Article 7 after "appointed" to insert "in a whole-time capacity" and to delete (a) from and including "and" in the second line down to and including "years" in the third line and (b) "the foregoing and to" in the fourth line.

It would be agreed that this board which will be dealing with planning appeals will have a full-time job and the members should therefore be appointed in a whole-time capacity. This amendment simply stresses that fact.

This board differs from most State boards in that the members will be acting in a direct capacity rather than in the capacity members of boards usually act in. Therefore, these words "in a whole-time capacity" might be inserted.

The effect would be that all ordinary members of the board would have to be appointed in a whole-time capacity in the same way as the chairman. It was left open because it was thought that the Minister might wish to consider appointing to the board persons who might not be free to act whole-time but who might be valuable in an advisory and consultative capacity. I am thinking particularly of members of professional associations. It is normal practice to specify a term of office of members of boards of semi-State bodies and this enables rotation of membership although there is usually provision for reappointment. This would apply in the case of An Bord Plannála.

Deputy Faulkner says that this is a different board and that there is a case for continuous service so that advantage could be taken of the experience members would gain over a period. That could be an argument but I think that you propose to delete the provision enabling the term of office to be fixed for three years and the consequential amendment. I am not happy about it. I think it will do something which would tie it up and produce the type of board which this House would not want.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment No. 110. As amendments Nos. 118 and 120 are consequential, we will take them together.

I move amendment No. 110:

To delete Article 8.

I fail to see the need for this specific provision. If the Minister can appoint anybody he wishes to the board, it will be open to him to include his serving officers. I am disturbed that this provision is being inserted. As I said before, the purpose of the Bill is to transfer the responsibility for deciding planning appeals from the Minister to the board. By inserting this section, it would appear that the Minister could, to quite a considerable extent, retain certain power in relation to appeals because the members of his Department would be subject to him as Minister and would be responsible to him in many ways, in his Departmental duties. Everybody would be happier, and I am sure the Minister himself would be happier if this Article were deleted.

Article 8 will allow the Minister to appoint an ordinary member of the board from his serving officers. No decision on this matter has been taken and the power need not be exercised. But strictly speaking, the Article is not necessary and its purpose is solely to draw attention to the possibility that it might be desirable to have someone with experience in planning development and control of policies to provide a measure of continuity and to assist this board, especially in the initial stages. We had a long discussion on this when the Article was discussed here and while it is possible that some of the serving personnel might be the right people to have on the board, particularly when the board is starting and they can show them the ropes at the same time, to exclude them completely would mean that if there was nobody on it, they would all have to start in the new. If at any time there was a shortage, and there could be, it may turn out that people will not be falling over each other to look for appointment to this board and if that happened, we might either have to appoint somebody who was not the type we wanted, or fill it with an excellent serving officer. It would be wrong to exclude him.

The question of looking after pension rights, and so on, would have to be guaranteed if they were included, even for a part-time period. The idea of having the right to put them on the board is a good one. The whole thing is tied up with the early discussion of whether we should have so many planners, engineers, and so on, on the board. A number of people referred to this. It was suggested that these people would be left off, if planners belonging to the Department were put on. That was the argument as I saw it. There is nothing wrong with the suggestion that, if necessary, they should be eligible.

Surely the Minister would agree that it probably would be a happier situation if they were not necessary.

I think it is very necessary at the start.

Would the Minister not agree that it is not necessary that people should be on the board to help the board? In other words, if the board is set up, I am sure the people he has in mind would be available to assist them, direct them and help them in every way possible. The only question I would ask is: is this Article here because it relates to pension, and so on? In other words, had the Minister to insert this because of pension purposes.

That is it exactly. If it was decided to put them on, and this was not there, it would upset the pension situation.

It does not relate to appointment, because the Minister appoints anyway.

That is right. As I said a moment ago, if we are going to do it, we need it to safeguard their pension. That is the only reason it is in.

The Minister will agree that it is not the best solution.

Not quite. Let us be honest about this. At the start, it would be excellent if we had an experienced planner on the board, otherwise he would have no say in the decisions, only in the recommendations. The actual drawing up of planning is a very technical matter, as we all know.

The Minister will agree, that apart from the fact that he would be subject to the Minister——

Not in this case.

——not directly in this case, but in his capacity as a civil servant he would be.

Not at all. Let me make one thing very clear. Deputy Faulkner is suggesting that if a planner from the Department of Local Government is put on the board, that that planner would be chasing back to my office saying look at this; this is what they are doing, and so on. He will be completely clear and will have no connection with the Minister for Local Government as long as he is on that board. That is his job, and what he does there has nothing to do with the Minister nor is he entitled to bring back reports of any kind.

I never suggested that. What I was suggesting was that as a civil servant he would be subject to the Minister, not as a member of the planning board. This is a different thing. My point is that the Minister can appoint anybody he so wishes. I do not think it is desirable. To be quite frank, from the Minister's point of view I do not think it is desirable either. However, the Minister insists on it: I withdraw the amendment.

In my view, the right for a Minister to do it should be there.

The Minister has the right anyway.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 111:

In page 23, to insert ", or who has committed stated misbehaviour," before "or whose removal" in Article 10.

On the Second Stage Deputy Molloy agreed that there must be procedures for removal of the chairman from office, but suggested that the grounds be confined to ill-health, stated misbehaviour or incapacity of some kind. Amendment No. 106 adds stated misbehaviour to criteria for removal from office of a chairman who was a former judge. Incapacity through ill-health is already covered specifically in Article 10 and specific provision is now being made for stated misbehaviour. The same criteria will apply to removal from office of an ordinary member. It says to insert "or who has committed stated misbehaviour," before "or whose removal" in Article 10. This has been done to comply with what was asked for on Second Stage.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 112:

In Article 12, second line, to delete "or for election to either House of the Oireachtas" and in the third line after "of" to insert "either House of the Oireachtas or of" and in the fourth line after "of" to insert "either House or of".

I do not know the mind of Deputy Haughey on this. As far as I am concerned, in a matter of professional integrity or impartiality I would rate a Member of the Dáil or Seanad Éireann as high as anybody else in the land. I do not like the inferred reflection which occurs in legislation where we exclude Members of both Houses. On the other hand, I am not advocating that they should be members. I do not see why, if somebody has been offered a nomination for the Seanad, a professional man—we have accepted that professional men can be members of this board—the President of the Engineers' Association, the President of the Architects' Association, or indeed anybody else who might offer himself for election to the Seanad or the Dáil, should be prevented from being a member of this board. The Minister may say that this is a precedent. It is time politicians removed themselves from that. If a politician can be Attorney General I do not see why if somebody offers himself for membership of this House or of the Upper House thatipso facto he should disqualify himself from membership of this board.

I am sorry to disagree with Deputy Tunney on this. I have always held that there is an undue discrimination, not against politicians but against members of politicians' families. Time and again sons and daughters, or brothers or sisters of politicians, are discreetly barred from certain employments because they have a political connection. It does not matter which side of the House they are on. There are people who think there should be some kind of a bar against everybody connected with politicians. I hold that that is wrong. I would not hold that an active politician—he must be such or he would not be nominated for office in either House of the Oireachtas——

Nominating bodies for the Seanad are not active politicians at all.

The Deputy should go into the House and watch how they vote and he will then see whether they are active or not. I am not casting a slur on them. Perhaps in their own interests it might be as well that they are not. They could be embarrassed by somebody putting pressure on them. I ask that the amendment be withdrawn. I agree with the principle behind it, particularly with regard to politicians' families. Perhaps some day we might have to do something about that. I think politicians are a special case. It would react more against them than anybody else if we allowed them to——

We are again convicting the innocent.

I am not.

Before we withdraw the amendment could I mention one thing? When I was on that side of the House I remember having a Bill before the House, and a very strong case was made by both Fine Gael and Labour Deputies, to have not only those who were nominated to the Dáil or Seanad on boards but Deputies. They felt it was most unfair that Deputies or intending Deputies should be singled out for this type of treatment. They made such a good case that I tended to agree with them except that I did not think that we should introduce it in this particular Bill, but that a special Bill to deal with it should be introduced. I accept that there is a difference in this case.

Do I gather from the Minister's statement that in the case of a person who accepted a nomination for membership to a local authority or for membership of either Houses of the Oireachtas a number of years ago he is debarred from becoming a member of a board now?

That is not so.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 113.

In page 23, to delete "such nomination" and to substitute "nominations as a member of Seanad Éireann, or upon nomination for such election," in Article 12.

This is a drafting amendment. It arises from the need to bring the wording of Article 12 into line with the provisions of the Electoral Act in relation to nominations for elections. The purpose of the amendment is to avoid using the words "excepting" in relation to such nomination. Amendment No.21 to section 12 arises from the same point.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 114 was taken with amendment No. 100.

I move amendment No. 114.

In Article 14 to delete all words after "less than" and substitute the following "five such members, the Government or the Minister, as may be appropriate, shall take such steps as are necessary to fill the vacancy as soon as possible".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 115:

In Article 17, to delete "may" and substitute "shall".

The only point to make here is would the position remain as it is, with the powers continuing to be vested in the Minister?

It does not really matter.

Nevertheless there is a possibility that the whole Act would be frustrated.

We accept it.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 116:

To delete Article 18 and substitute a new Article as follows: "18. The quorum for a meeting of the Board shall be two".

Is there a quorum fixed?

Yes. Four.

Was it already accepted?

Article 18.

When Deputy Haughey put down this amendment it was intended that there would be fewer members on the board than the Minister now intends. Would that be right?

Yes, we did not know the number at the time.

In those circumstances we will withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 117:

In page 24, to delete "of its employees" and to substitute "person" in Article 24.

This amendment is consequential to amendment No. 42 to section 19 under which the board may as an interim measure make arrangements for the supply of services. If this included staff it would be necessary that such staff should for the purposes of Article 24 be in the same position as applies to the board. Article 24 is a standard provision for statutory bodies which avoids the necessity for a board decision or resolution to authorise the exercise of each function in each case.

References of appeal, and so forth, are matters which must be decided at board level, but other functions may be entrusted to the staff under such practical administrative arrangements as the board thinks fit. The amendment is necessary to avoid the possibility that if an arrangement for the supply of staff were made under section 19, as amended, an appeal decision by the board might be challenged in the courts on the ground that the board was not being advised and serviced by its own employees appointed under section 10, so it is to avoid a High Court case at the very start of the board's life.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 118 was discussed with amendment No. 110.

I move amendment No. 118:

In Article 28 (1), to delete all words from and including "and" in the fourth line down to and including the end of the sub-article and substitute "and the ordinary members of the Board".

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 119:

In page 25, to insert the following paragraph in Article 28 before paragraph (2):

"(2) A scheme under this Article shall not provide for the granting of a pension, gratuity or other allowance to a chairman of the Board in respect of a period during which he is a judge of the High Court."

This amendment was discussed with amendment No. 104.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 120:

In page 25 to delete Article 28 (7).

This amendment was discussed with amendment No. 110.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.

I would suggest the Report Stage be taken on the first sitting day after the Recess.

Could we not try to get time next week?

As Deputy Faulkner knows, we have a lot of amendments and it would not be possible to take the Bill next week. There is no point in creating obstacles. It would not be fair to the staff. They have been working on the amendments but because of the number and having to go backwards and forwards through the Bill it would not be possible to reach anything like finality on them.

Could we try the week after next?

That would be the first week in August. It will be a long hot summer.

I am sure the Deputies behind the Minister will be anxious to remain on to complete the Bill.

I do not hear any anxiety being expressed by anybody now to remain on. I thought sanity had returned to the House.

Could we have a date for the Report Stage?

I would ask that the Report Stage be ordered for the first sitting day after the Recess.

Might I protest?

If the Deputy wants to protest, let him produce the Dáil debates and show who held up business for so long.


When will "after the Recess" be?

A date may be fixed for the Report Stage but that does not mean that Stage would be moved on that date.

Will the Minister agree that he helped to filibuster?

No. I tried to get the Bill through as quickly as I could. I am more anxious than anybody to get it through.

We are anxious to get the planning board established.

Report Stage ordered for first sitting day after the summer Recess.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.25 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Friday, 18th July, 1975.