I move amendment No. 1:
In page 4, before section 2, to insert the following new section:
"2.— This Act shall come into operation from the day that is three months after the date of the passing of this Act.".
I propose an amendment to section 2 which would replace the existing section in the Bill to read: "This Act shall come into operation from the day that is three months after the date of the passing of this Act." It is acknowledged that there is an urgent need to provide legislation for derelict sites. It is hoped that this Bill, when it is passed through this House, will solve the current problems in this area. The current section 2, in effect, leaves it to the Minister to determine when the Bill or part of the Bill will come into operation. It is not known whether this Bill itself will come into operation in six months, a year or two years or how long it may take regulations, that may be intended by the Minister to be published, to be brought into being to give effect to the Bill.
On our side we take the view that this legislation should become effective as soon as possible. Indeed the Fine Gael Party published a Private Members' Bill some months ago under the the name of my colleague, Deputy John Boland, due to our concern about this issue. We do not believe it is good for this House to pass an entire Statute through the House and then leave the Act passed in abeyance, in a sort of legislative limbo, until the Minister or his Department decide to bring different parts of it into force. It is our view that this Act should come into force as early as possible. We accept it may take some weeks for local authorities to make whatever arrangements are necessary to carry out some of their functions under the Act and the Minister may require some time to deal with any regulations or statutory instruments he intends to make. We would also assume that as the form of the Bill is known in his Department — the Bill has come through his Department — the Minister and his officials have particular regulations in mind to be brought into force by way of statutory instrument.
In the circumstances, we think it is reasonable that section 2 be amended so as to provide that this Act should come into effect within three months after the date of its passing. It is not unusual that such a provision is contained in a Bill. Unfortunately, over the years there has been a precedent whereby this type of provision that the Minister has included in this Bill ultimately has had the effect that some legislation has never been brought into force. There is the notorious example — not from the Minister's Department and it is no fault of this Minister — of the new Mental Treatment Act that was passed in 1980 but was never brought into force. There is still the extraordinary anomaly under the Civil Liability Act, 1961, in which there is a provision whereby local authorities can be sued in certain circumstances in the context of someone suffering an injury as a result of the authority being negligent in their maintenance of pavements but that has never been brought into force. We are not happy with this provision which lays down no maximum period by which the Bill must become operative. We hope the Minister may be able to indicate his support for the amendment we have proposed here.