Business of Dáil

I understand the Government Whip has a proposal to make.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in the Orders of the Dáil of Tuesday or yesterday, that today there shall be no suspension of the sitting after the weekly division time and that if the proceedings on the Report and Final Stages of the Road Traffic Bill 2016 have concluded before 3.30 p.m., Questions to the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality shall take place immediately following the weekly division time.

No, it is not agreed. The expectation of the House was that the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill would be before us today. In fact, the expectation is that the Bill would be concluded today in order that it could go to the Seanad and be law before Christmas.

Thousands of tenants are looking at this House expecting that to happen. The proposal that we should simply not deal with it or that we might have a revised Order later in the day, if agreement is reached between two parties in the House, is wholly unacceptable. Not only is it unacceptable, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, it is an insult to the rest of us.

I propose that we deal with the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill. A range of amendments have already been submitted by parties and individuals in the House. We should let the majority in the House determine the policy in this area. If "new politics" is to mean anything, then let the majority in the House decide these matters. The majority cannot be thwarted by any minority.

We object fundamentally to this change in the Order. It is absolutely unacceptable. It was agreed at the Business Committee and there is a widespread expectation in the House and beyond that a Bill dealing with the disastrous rental crisis will conclude in the Dáil today and that we will sit for as long as it takes to conclude that Bill. Moreover, the expectation was that the issue of rent caps, rent controls, rent certainty - whatever way we term it - would be dealt with.

We will not go into the detail.

We will go into the principle of it.

I am simply pointing out the expectation inside and outside the House. Instead, all of that will be scuppered because Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are rowing over how much profit landlords should make out of this entire situation. That is totally unacceptable.

The Deputy is opposing the proposal. Is that correct?

We oppose the Government proposal. There has to be a vote on it.

This is the first time in the history of the State that the Dáil has the prospect of dealing with its own agenda. This smacks of the same thing we heard from the last Government to the effect that it was a national government. In those days, anyone behind the division barrier on my left was treated as though they did not exist. We are seeing exactly the same scenario today. Either there is a Business Committee or there is not. This Dáil is not only made up of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

I have serious problems with the Bill. I agree with some of what those in Fianna Fáil are saying in respect of the inclusion of other areas. However, the idea that the business of the Dáil can be changed in such a unilateral way is completely unacceptable.

In addition to the concerns expressed is the fact of how the whole process is being amended, as well as the time we were given to consider amendments. This raises the question of why we are pulling it. It adds to the problem. As I understand it, the only difference, as articulated on the radio this morning, is over how rent limits are extended to other areas outside Dublin and Cork. We have not had time to consider some of the amendments.

I do not see why we should not proceed with the Bill. If that is the only difference, the amendment can be discussed here. It should be thrashed out in debate in the House on Report Stage. This is the perfect place to do it, rather than leave our country in an uncertain position and leave people facing rent increases that will be caused by the uncertainty of this whole process.

First, I want to make it clear that we want to be constructive and engage on the critical issue of the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill 2016 in terms of rent certainty and so on. I do not believe the Bill should have been pulled. There was no need to do that. As a general point, I think the whole idea - at the 11th hour in the parliamentary schedule, in the last day or two of the session - of bringing in substantive legislation pertaining to rent certainty was somewhat reckless and, in my view, disrespectful to the House and calculated, in a way, to get into difficulty. The narrowing of the space to try to get this matter resolved was unnecessary. If we have learned anything from the past, the most notable illustration of this type of approach was the water services legislation that was rammed through in 48 hours some years ago. We in this House should have learned lessons. We do not have to ram stuff through in 48 hours on Report Stage of a Bill. The general public might not get the detail of all of this, which I appreciate, but there was no Second Stage or Committee Stage debate on these amendments. They were announced on Tuesday.

To the press, rather than here.

Every Deputy was told: "You take it as a fait accompli in its entirety, essentially, and there is no change. Take it this way and no other way". I do not agree with that approach. We will continue to endeavour in respect of this matter and we are still open to engaging on it. However, the Dáil has to have an input as well. I want to make our position clear. We are not going to unilaterally say to the rest of the Dáil that this Bill should not be debated today. In my view, it can be debated today. There is a need for some space, to be frank, to see if there can be a basis to have the Bill debated today.

I was somewhat surprised that the Friday sitting was taken out of the equation by the Business Committee yesterday, for different reasons. I would have thought we should have kept the Friday sitting as an option, given the fact there could be difficulties with resolving this Bill. There were other reasons why people felt there was no need for a Friday sitting, and it is not the Government's fault on that one - I will be straight up on that. Nonetheless, caution and a bit of experience would indicate that we would give ourselves extra time to try to have this issue resolved.

There will not be agreement across the House on all of the issues, which I acknowledge. However, the issue of rent certainty has been put on the table arising from the Cabinet decision. The attitude seems to be, "You either take it the way we have prescribed it or you do not take it at all". That is not a basis for getting matters resolved. I want to make it clear we are open to engagement but we have to respect the House and we have to respect the rights of other Members to have an input into the legislation as well. What I propose, if it is agreeable, is that the sitting be suspended for a short period to see if we can get an agreed basis on which the House can do its business today and, if necessary, tomorrow.

I also want to put a counter-proposal in respect of that Bill, particularly that the proposals on rent would be discussed and debated on the floor today. The Government is in a minority on this so I am assuming Fianna Fáil will support such a proposal and force the Government to bring these proposals onto the floor of the House. We have a Dáil. It is not the Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael backroom club. We have amendments down on this and we want them brought to the floor of the whole Dáil for discussion and debate. It seems that there is no voice for tenants in this Dáil and that the two big landlord parties sat late into the night. Their disagreement apparently is not over the 4% increase that can be levied in Dublin and Cork, meaning, in effect, by the way, that the average rent could go up by €170 a month, but in south Dublin, where €3,000 a month is the going rate-----

I do not want to interrupt but we are not going into the detail.

It is very important.

It may be but there will an opportunity, perhaps, to-----

There may not be an opportunity.

We will see. We will try to accommodate all. Please stick to the principle-----

I have a right on the Order of Business to speak without the Leas-Cheann Comhairle interrupting me.

The Deputy has a right but it is about the principle of the Order of Business, not the detail.

It is about the issue. The point is that this is a burning issue. Threshold has said that the number of evictions over rent and other issues has increased.

Rent rises are going to happen. The Government has created a vacuum.

I want the Deputy to be reasonable.

Is the Leas-Cheann Comhairle going to allow me to speak?

I want the Deputy to be reasonable. She will have an opportunity perhaps.

If the Government withdraws this Bill today, a vacuum will be created whereby landlords will know that rents are going to increase, possibly in January. The Government has created a vacuum whereby landlords can rush through rent increases of 20% and 25%.

They cannot do that.

We will let the House decide.

We need to discuss this matter today and get it agreed, and have it made retrospective as well. The landlords are sharpening their knives to look for ways in which they can increase rents. This Bill must be discussed today. The cap should not be 4%; it should be 0%.

Let the House decide how we are going to-----

That is the rate of inflation and that is what should be brought in front of the Dáil today. It is a pity the Leas-Cheann Comhairle interrupted me throughout my whole contribution.

I have a job to do.

This is an important Bill. It is vital for people facing rent increases. The Leas-Cheann Comhairle seems to be not letting me make the point about its importance.

We are dealing with the proposal.

We are allowed a minute to make the point without being interrupted.

I thank the Deputy and call Deputy Connolly.

The Leas-Cheann Comhairle talks about the principle but what I see here is a great absence of principle. The leader of Fianna Fáil stated that he does not agree that it should go away today, yet, if agreement had been reached last night, we would not be having this debate - or what stands for a debate - from Fianna Fáil. There is certainly Tadhg an Dá Thaobh i gceist anseo maidir le Páirtí Fhianna Fáil.

On the principle, I fundamentally object to the adjournment today in regard to this matter. I came in prepared to make contributions on this Bill. I fundamentally disagree with what is being proposed by Fine Gael. However, that is what it has put forward and it should be discussed in the Dáil today and tomorrow, if necessary. There is a serious problem and the exclusion of other areas alone brings the whole thing into disrepute. That Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael would be arguing over a percentage, not the principle of the serious crisis both in the rental market and generally in housing, beggars belief.

In the context of Deputy Micheál Martin's proposal, Fianna Fáil knew the detail of the so-called rent predictability proposals before they were launched. Fianna Fáil also knew that the amendments by the Minister were going to be tabled and that we would get them this week. We knew this for weeks, yet at no stage did I hear any objection from Deputy Cowen, the party's housing spokesperson, or, indeed, from Deputy Micheál Martin. In fact, Deputy Cowen was not even at the meeting of the Select Committee on Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government when the amendments were presented by the Minister, Deputy Coveney.

Those in Fianna Fáil say they want to be constructive but I just do not think that is true. What we have seen is, in my view, a very bad proposal that is going to hurt renters being published by the Government this week. Fianna Fáil, which, up until the point that the proposals were published, was going to go along with this, recoiled when it saw negative reaction from the media and tenants-----

For God's sake, sit down.

Take a look at yourselves lately.

-----and is now trying to present itself as being opposed to a proposition that it was actually going to agree to all along.

Regarding the Order of Business, we have not seen the full set of amendments for this Bill. We were told by the Bills Office that they would be available at 7 p.m yesterday but they have yet to be published. I would like to know why. Did the Government block the publication and circulation of those amendments in time for us to have the discussion? We should have this debate today. Those of us who tabled proper amendments in respect of rent certainty want to have them debated and voted upon. At that point, Fianna Fáil can put its money were its mouth is and support real rent certainty, rather than increasing the enormous financial pressure on hard-pressed renters.

More three-line solutions.

New politics was supposed to mean that this House organised its own affairs. What we have this morning is total disrespect for the House and its Members on the part of the Government. If new politics means anything, we are surely entitled to organise our own affairs collectively and not have anything imposed on us by the Government party and Fianna Fáil. We are all entitled to our own input into the organisation of affairs of the House.

Second, this whole thing is a complete charade. Everybody knows that we have a housing emergency, the Minister has said so on numerous occasions. What we do not need is rent increases, which is what the Government and Fianna Fáil are suggesting and recommending. What we need is a rent freeze and a halt to evictions.

Go raibh maith agat.

There are 27 people in my town of Clonmel who are before the courts today and facing eviction. We need to stop that.

I thank the Deputy.

We need to declare a housing emergency in the Dáil today to ensure that there are no further evictions, that we do not add to the crisis that already exists and that we have a rent freeze for tenants who are trying to make ends meet, and failing to do so, and who are under huge pressure this Christmas.

The House will take a decision shortly on how we should proceed. Finally, I call Deputy Jan O'Sullivan and then I will call the Government representative.

As a housing spokesperson, I came in here today ready to debate the Bill as did other spokespersons. We have tabled amendments and, as we speak, people are worried that their rent is going to increase. We were elected to do a job in here, to deal with legislation, and we are prepared to do it. Two parties in this Dáil, however, have had discussions and talks and now Fianna Fáil is proposing that we postpone the debate. This is just throwing the matter back to those two parties again.

The Deputy did nothing when she was in government. It did nothing.

Get it back on the floor.

Fianna Fáil is looking for more time, and it has proposed that we take more time. That in effect is putting it back to those two parties again.

The Deputy did nothing when she was there.

The rest of us are democratically elected. We want to deal with this issue. We are here to represent the people. There are people out there who are worried right now that they are going to lose their homes. We should deal with this legislation now, as agreed and as tabled by the Business Committee.

I call the Minister and then the House will decide.

First, I want to set the record straight on a number of points in relation to the process here. I agree with Deputy Ó Broin in that regard. We have flagged for many weeks that we may use Report Stage of this Bill in order to ensure that there is a very short period between announcing quite a radical change in how the private rental market in Ireland will work and legislating for that change. It does not make sense to have a gap between announcing a big policy change and implementing that in law because of some of the concerns that people have raised, although landlords cannot simply bring forward rent reviews. There is a 24 month rent freeze once rents are agreed.

That did not happen last year and it was Government policy.

It is important that everybody understands that the process was agreed here by spokespersons across all parties. It was debated in the Seanad at length and I flagged the issue that we would probably deal with this amendment to the legislation in the last week before Christmas so nobody should have been taken by surprise by that.

I accept that the process is unusual but the legislation we were planning to debate today has been subject to a lot of debate in the Seanad, in committee and in the Dáil on Second Stage. It was always suggested that the amendment on rent predictability or certainty would be brought forward on Committee or Report Stage if possible. That is exactly what is being proposed. That particular element of the legislation was the subject of three months of consultation, of nearly 500 written submissions to try to get the balance right-----

Let me finish with this because others had their say.

I have to deal with the Minister the same as everyone else.

-----of ensuring that we do not undermine-----

We are not going to-----

-----supply coming into the market as well as trying to protect hard-pressed tenants. As Deputy Micheál Martin said, we want to be constructive but as Minister I cannot agree to take a Government Bill in Government time if I do not know what the outcome is likely to be on Report Stage.

If I do that, I am likely to have to face the prospect of having to implement a Bill that is neither legally sound nor makes sense.

The Minister wants to overrule the Dáil.

We need to have some certainty on the detail of a final Bill that I will have responsibility for implementing and the Dáil will have responsibility for holding me to account on. Until I have some certainty on what the final Bill may look like-----

How will that be legally sound?

-----which is perfectly normal when a Government has a majority. We are operating in a minority situation which requires a new approach-----

Wake up and smell the coffee.

-----which requires a new approach to politics and that is being tested today. We want to be constructive and try to find a way forward.

The Minister is testing it.

I am the person who proposed the timeline here and nobody wants to get this done today more than I do, but in an effort to get this done quickly, I am not going to facilitate flawed legislation.

It is the Minister's way or no way.

No, it is not my way.

That is right - play to the Fine Gael gallery.

I am not going to facilitate and I am certainly not going to implement legislation that is not in the interests of the country.

Not in the interests of the landlords.

Not in the interests of the landlords.

That is why we are proposing that this morning we would proceed with work on the Road Traffic Bill 2016. I will endeavour to work with all parties here, and I recognise the fact that Opposition parties have worked with us on this Bill up to this Stage in a very progressive way to try to get this done on time before the end of the year.

I would like to return to it today and we will try to facilitate that, but unfortunately we are not in a position to do it right now. We should use the time to make progress on the Road Traffic Bill 2016 which is also important legislation. I will certainly endeavour to ensure that we can come back to the housing legislation before the end of the day. I am open to suggestions on that.

That is not acceptable.

I remind Members of the House, although it may not be necessary, that the Bills Office worked throughout the night. I met some of the officials early this morning. We should recognise that and I believe the House appreciates that.

Deputies

Hear, hear.

Was there political interference in the publication of those amendments?

No, not from the Government side.

Furthermore, all the amendments are on the web and are also available in hard copy. I am stating those facts and we have to pay tribute to those who worked throughout the night.

We have an amendment proposed by Deputy Micheál Martin-----

I proposed an amendment-----

Yes, and so did I.

I was the first to speak on this. I proposed it when I stood up. I know some of the Fianna Fáil Members were not here at 10 a.m.-----

Only Deputy Howlin's party was here.

-----but I proposed that we would take the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill 2016 now. That is the first proposal.

Can I make a suggestion? It is only a clarification.

That is a proposal.

I just want to make a point of order on my amendment. People want to know-----

I think I will make a helpful-----

I proposed an adjournment to see if there can be a basis on which to do both the Road Traffic Bill 2016 – I have no objection to that – but also-----

We should take the proposals in the order they are made.

Can I make a suggestion to the House?

I want to seek the Leas-Cheann Comhairle’s guidance. I have no objection to finishing the Road Traffic Bill 2016 but I equally believe we should finish the planning Bill and we are open to discussions on how to engage in it. It would make sense if we could adjourn for 30 minutes to see if we could get a basis to do both and hold out the option of meeting tomorrow if necessary-----

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael had a chat.

We can agree to that.

Can I make a suggestion to the House? I am not prioritising anybody’s amendment but I am in the hands of the Members-----

The rules are there.

-----that we would consider an adjournment to allow the Business Committee to meet for a period of time.

The Business Committee is meaningless. We met yesterday and agreed to do this today and it has just been ridden roughshod over. What is the point in that?

I know that, but I am trying to be helpful.

I am trying to be helpful too but we cannot just set aside the rules of the House. There is a proposal on the Order of Business. There is a series of amendments and the rules of the House require the amendments be taken in the order in which they are proposed.

Deputy Howlin is not the Leas-Cheann Comhairle now.

I am asking a simple question of procedure. Perhaps procedure is irrelevant in new politics and Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael think they can run the show between them.

The Deputy was a failure in government. He should be ashamed to be here.

Can we deal with the amendments in the order in which they were proposed in the ordinary way and let the House decide these matters?

Let the House decide.

The Deputy should propose his amendment to clarify it.

I propose that, as agreed by the Business Committee, the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill 2016, Report Stage be taken now.

Question put: "That Report Stage of the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenacies Bill 2016 [Seanad] be taken now."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 38; Staon, 0; Níl, 79.

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Chambers, Lisa.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Curran, John.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lahart, John.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Keeffe, Kevin.
  • O'Loughlin, Fiona.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Zappone, Katherine.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Brendan Ryan and Jan O'Sullivan; Níl, Deputies Regina Doherty and Tony McLoughlin.
Question declared lost.

Amendment No. 2 to the Order of Business in the name of Deputy Micheál Martin proposes that the House be suspended to allow the Business Committee to meet and agree the business to be taken. Is that agreed?

How long is the proposed suspension?

I propose 45 minutes.

Deputy Martin has proposed that we suspend for 45 minutes.

A Leas-Cheann Comhairle -----

We have had the debate, Deputy Adams -----

We have had the debate?

-----and your spokesman -----

Deputy Adams has not had his porridge yet.

I am going to put the question.

(Interruptions).

Ní raibh díospóireacht againn faoin amendment seo.

Ní bheidh díospóireacht againn ar seo.

Tá mé chun an cheist a chur.

Ní féidir liom tú a chloisteáil.

Caithfidh mé an cheist a chur.

Nach bhfuil cead agamsa caint air seo?

Níl, ag an bpointe seo.

Bhí díospóireacht againn. Chuir an Teachta Brendan Howlin leasú roimh an Teach. Cailleadh an leasú sin. Táimid ag cur leasú an Teachta Martin anois.

Agus tá Micheál Martin ag cur rúin eile.

Bhí díospóireacht againn ar seo.

Bhí díospóireacht againn.

Ní raibh díospóireacht ar bith faoin gceist seo.

Bhí díospóireacht. Is iad sin na rialacha. Cuireadh leasú Uimh. 1. Cailleadh an leasú sin. Tá dualgas ormsa anois leasú Uimh. 2 a chur anois.

Sílim go bhfuil tú mícheart, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

B'fhéidir nár-----

No. Ní "b'fhéidir" ar chor ar bith.

Is é sin do bharúil.

Is this new politics?

Is é sin do bharúil. I am putting the question-----

New politics, my arse.

(Interruptions).

Caidé ar dúirt an Teachta Martin?

Deputies

New politics, my arse.

New politics, my arse.

(Interruptions).
(Interruptions).

Deputy Adams, please resume your seat.

(Interruptions).

Deputies, please. Níl a fhios ar mhothaigh mé tú i gceart nó nár mhothaigh, ach ní dóigh liomsa gur cheart focal mar sin a úsáid. An bhfuil tú ag iarraidh é a tharraingt siar?

The Leas-Cheann Comhairle will have to say that in English. Deputy Adams does not understand it.

Muna bhfuil, leanfaimid ar aghaidh.

Sin polaitíocht nua.

On a point of order.

There can be no point of order when we are taking a vote.

I must make a point of order -----

Deputy Ryan, there can be no point of order while we are taking a vote.

As a member of the Business Committee-----

-----the idea that we would go off and discuss this is a joke. If there is any decision to be made, it should be made in here.

(Interruptions).

I am not the one to judge that.

(Interruptions).

The question has been put. Is it agreed? Agreed. The House is suspended for 45 minutes to allow the Business Committee to meet.

Sitting suspended at 10.48 a.m. and resumed at 11.33 a.m.

For practical reasons, it was not possible for the Business Committee to convene until 11.20 a.m. I would appreciate it if Members would accept my suggestion that the House adjourn until 12 noon. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Sitting suspended at 11.35 a.m. and resumed at 12 noon.