I move amendment No. 1:
In page 2, to delete lines 36 to 40.
The purpose of this amendment is to delete from section 1 lines 36 to 40, that is subsection (3) (b) (ii) which states: "It applies in relation to occupation of the whole or part of the tenement under any other lease or contract of tenancy that is in force during the whole or part of the currency of, and is made after the making of, the first-mentioned lease or contract of tenancy."
From the Explanatory Memorandum circulated with the Bill, this appears to be very straightforward and simple legislation. The Minister, when introducing the Bill and again in response to Second Stage, stated that it is aimed at financial services companies only. My belief is that in that general aim, unwittingly or otherwise, other concepts are being drawn in.
The Minister mentioned the example of a bank manager living over the premises or in adjoining premises. Does he not envisage persons coming to work in a financial services company staying on, and being independent of the company maybe because they leave the company's employment, they are dismissed, they retire or the company ceases trading? It appears the legislation is not designed to deal with such eventualities. The people living on premises adjoining or contiguous to the tenement might have entitlement to stay on or remain in the area of the Authority but the purpose of this Bill would be to deny them occupational rights.
We must be clear about this. The 1931 Act, the 1980 Act and this Bill in part are designed to deal with two separate types of tenancy, one of which is a business lease. That can be clearly understood in the concept of the authority and the area. The business of financial services, where it is established, would clearly come under the terms of a business lease. Consequently in law, as it stands prior to the passing of this Bill, at the end of three years that company would be entitled as of right to a renewal of the lease for 35 years. The Bill is correct not to allow that right to exist. It reflects the importance of the site and of the authority maintaining proprietorship, and dominion, and it also reflects a desire to maintain the integrity of the centre as a business financial services area so that a company coming in initially under the guise of financial services does not convert to subsidiary activities or, on gaining proprietorship, sell their interest to a company not engaged in the same type of activity.
The concept is right in regard to businesses, but I do not think the same concept is right in regard to people who might come, to live in premises or areas within the centre. I am trying to make the case that legislation should reflect what the local authority are trying to do and what we as legislators should try to do, that is, to encourage inner city residential occupation. If, by whatever means or design, a person takes up occupation of part of the premises within the area, the laws should be there in full to protect them.
Then we deal with the other distinct concept, that is, the right to renewal of the lease for 35 years of a person who has lived on the site for 20 years. That is an inordinate long time but, nonetheless, there are people who would be there for that length of time and who would appreciate that right. As I have said, in the Irish Life Centre, over the bridge from the docks site, the position is similar in many respects; there is an area for business interests and there are shops on the ground floor. There are many people there who are fast approaching their 20 year tenancy and who will have fixity of tenure as a result. They can continue to live there under conditions to be negotiated.
A very important feature of this legislation, in answer to anyone who has suggested otherwise about convenants, is that you cannot contract out of the rights that accrue to you under this area of the law. It recognises that people, who in business have committed themselves for three years or are in occupancy for 20 years, get rights that are so important that they cannot be contracted out.
Arrangements and agreements for introducing cognisance in the leases cannot deal with the problem. The Bill must exist if one is to deal with the problem. I am trying to tease out whether we are being over protective of the authorities dominion on property on the one hand to the detriment on the other of encouraging people to take up leases for living purposes and remaining there until their initial intentions have ceased, namely work with or involvement in a financial services company. That is my worry and it is illustrated by all of the neglected, unoccupied and undeveloped living areas that exist in the uppermost floors of commercial premises throughout the city. I do not want the same blight to afflict this worthy development when it is in full commission. I am concerned that the law is being unduly restrictive regarding people who are in occupation of premises. I cannot understand when one has two distinct concepts of business on the one hand and occupancy on the other how the Minister can maintain that we are dealing exclusively with business or financial services. If he says it is occupancy in connection with financial services I would accept that but I say we should legislate not to disadvantage those people. Even if they come in initially as the bank manager or as the financial services company manager they should be entitled to the protection of the law as it exists. They are required to remain in occupancy for up to 20 years before anything can accure by way of rights under this legislation. I do not think that is unreasonable and it is something that would help to secure a permanent residency dimension to the financial services centre. Perhaps, therefore, the Minister would look again at the proposals and the reasons we advanced them.