Local Government (Rates) Bill 2018: Report and Final Stages

Amendments Nos. 1, 9 to 11, inclusive, 13, 14, and 19 to 21, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

Bill recommitted in respect of amendment No. 1.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 5, line 7, to delete "enactments" and substitute the following:

"enactments; for purposes unconnected with the foregoing, to amend the Planning and Development Act 2000 and otherwise make provision in relation to certain regional spatial and economic strategies, and to amend the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 and the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019;".

Amendment No. 1 is to change the Short Title and amendment No. 19 is to change the Long Title to reflect the non-rates related amendments we are to discuss this evening. Amendments Nos. 9, 10, 11, 13 and 14 are to change references to the Local Government (Rates) Act 2019 to the Local Government Rates and Other Matters Act 2019 to reflect the proposed changes to the Short Title of the Bill.

Amendment No. 20 is to allow for the collective citation of this Bill with the Local Government Acts of 1925 to 2019, with the exception of the planning and residential tenancy provisions. Amendment No. 21 is to allow for the collective citation of the planning provisions with the Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2019 and the residential tenancy provisions with the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004 to 2019.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill reported with amendment.

Amendments Nos. 2 and 5 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 6, line 1, to delete "Valuation Act 2001" and substitute "Act of 2001".

Amendment No. 2 is a technical amendment to clarify that the reference to "rating authority" has the same meaning as it has in the Local Government Act 2001.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 6, line 19, to delete "(1) In" and substitute "(1) Subject to this section, in".

Amendment No. 3 is a technical amendment changing the wording for grammatical reasons in page 6, line 19.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 6, line 20, to delete "relevant property" and substitute the following:

"relevant property included in the valuation list caused to be published by the Commissioner of Valuation under section 23 of the Act of 2001".

The Minister of State has not told us anything about amendments Nos. 4 and 5.

Amendment No. 5 was to be discussed with No. 2. We will deal with it in a second. Does the Minister of State want to inform the House about amendment No. 4?

Yes. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan is correct that I did not deal with all the amendments. Amendment No. 4 clarifies which properties the rate is to be levied on, that is, on relevant properties on the valuation list. This detail was omitted from the Bill, as published, and is now inserted to provide legal clarity. That is the purpose of amendment No. 4.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 7, between lines 23 and 24, to insert the following:

"(9) Where the valuation of a relevant property on the valuation list is amended pursuant to section 28 of the Act of 2001 or a new relevant property is included on the valuation list on foot of a valuation carried out pursuant to that section, the rating authority concerned may amend the amount of the rate calculated under subsection (2) or levy a rate, or both, as the case may be, in respect of the relevant properties.

(10) Where a rate has been levied in respect of a relevant property in any local financial year and the liable person to whom a rates bill has been given under this section ceases to be the owner or occupier, as the case may be, of the relevant property before the end of that year and has not paid the rate so levied, such owner or occupier shall be liable to pay that portion of the rate levied in respect of the period during which he or she remained the owner or occupier and the remaining portion of the rate shall be levied on any subsequent liable persons on a pro-rata basis.

(11) In this section—

"Act of 2001" means the Valuation Act 2001;

"valuation list" has the same meaning as it has in the Act of 2001.".

Amendment No. 5 modernises the rates collection process in two ways. Currently rates are levied on properties that exist on the valuation list on the date of the making of the local authority budget. This means the addition of new properties or amendments to the valuation list during the year are not effective for rates until the financial year following the making of the next budget. Amendment No. 5 allows for additions and amendments to the valuations to become effective immediately for rating purposes. It is now proposed that a new or revised valuation will trigger a new rates liability to reflect the new or revised valuation. Amendment No. 5 also provides that where a person commences the occupation of a relevant property or becomes entitled to be the occupier of a relevant property after 1 January in any year, a local authority may levy a charge for the remaining period of the year on a pro rata basis. Again, this is a new initiative. Where it occurs, the local authority shall adjust the charge levied on the person in occupation on 1 January. The current position is that the person in occupation on the date of the making of the rate is liable for the entire year. It is now proposed that the local authority shall adjust the rates bill issued to the person who is in occupation on 1 January or after 1 January where there was more than one previous occupier in that year, and such that the charge for the full year is apportioned between the different occupiers on a pro rata basis. This is a fairer system of levying rates. The current situation, where the occupier on the date of the making of the rate is liable for the whole year, is outdated and unfair and derives from a time when commercial occupation did not change frequently. As Members will know, that is not necessarily always the case at present. The new method is a more equitable and modern method of levying commercial rates where occupation changes in a rating year.

The amendment is also a technical amendment to clarify that the reference to "Act of 2001" in section 4 of the Bill refers to the Valuation Act 2001 and the reference to "valuation list" has the same meaning as in that Act.

I am seeking clarity. There are only two times in the year when there can be a change. One is when the rate is made and the other is on 1 January following that. Is that correct?

What we are proposing is that once the valuation list is revised, the new occupier will be the person who will be liable for rates. This contrasts with the current position, which is the opposite.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 7, between lines 23 and 24, to insert the following:

"Rate Book

5. The contents of a rate book prepared by a local authority may be stored electronically and may be published on the internet.".

The rate book is prepared by the local authority every year in accordance with existing regulations as soon as may be after the rates valuation has been determined. The rate book includes all relevant properties that are liable for rates. This amendment is proposed in order to allow local authorities to store and publish the contents in electronic format. This will be less onerous than producing a physical book for inspection and will allow for greater security and control access to individual ratepayers' data.

Currently, legislation provides only for a physical copy; this will provide for an electronic copy.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment Nos. 7 and 8 are related and may be discussed together.

I move the amendment No. 7:

In page 9, to delete lines 4 and 5 and substitute the following:

“(e) the public consultation process that must be followed by a local authority before a scheme under this section is approved;

(f) any other matters which appear to the Minister to be necessary or expedient for the purposes of this section.”.

The amendment relates to a vacancy alleviation or abatement scheme on which there should be some public consultation. A scheme should be publicised by the local authority. This serves two purposes. First, it makes the process more transparent and, second, it engages with the commercial ratepayers. The more we educate our commercial ratepayers on the exact processes, the better. The amendment helps the process.

The same applies to amendment No. 8 which relates to a different section. I realise in reading this today that is there is an error in the drafting and I believe the Minister is aware of this error. The amendment should not delete line 4 but should be inserted after subsection (e). This amendment also provides for public consultation on an abatement scheme. The general thrust of this amendment is to engage the public in an alleviation or abatement scheme and allows the commercial ratepayer to engage in that process, which would bring greater transparency into the system.

Notwithstanding the drafting error, as I have said on Committee Stage, we are supportive of this amendment. If memory serves me correctly, this is one of the Opposition amendments that the Minister of State said he was going to examine and he was to consider coming forward with his own wording. I will be interested to hear what he has to say about that. I presume that Deputy Casey will have to withdraw this amendment due to the drafting order and resubmit it in the Seanad. We are happy to support it in that way given the error that is there.

I am accepting amendment No. 7, as I indicated to Deputy Cassells on Committee Stage, which allows the Minister to make ministerial regulations on local authority vacancy abatement schemes. Amendment No. 8, as pointed out by Deputy Casey, has an unintended consequence, as currently drafted. It would mean deletion of section 14(1)(c), which is an important subsection that provides that a scheme for a waiver of rates may be made to support the implementation of the local area plan. I agree that Deputy O'Brien's amendment has merit, and having discussed it prior to Report Stage with officials in the Department, section 14(5) includes a broad regulation-making power for purposes relevant to the Bill. I will consider whether that provision can be relied upon to ensure a public consultation such as that envisaged by this amendment can be held. While I agree that the amendment has merit, it cannot be accepted in its current form. Failing that, section 14(5) would allow me to make the ministerial order. I commit to inserting an amendment along the same lines, but subject to ensuring that no provisions are inadvertently deleted in the next appropriate Bill to be brought forward by the Department.

Based on the information the Minister of State has given us, I do not believe we have any option but to withdraw amendment No. 8. I take his point on section 14(5). On consultation, the emphasis and thrust of this is that the policies for an abatement scheme should be included in all the plans that will be there. Inadvertently, perhaps there is some consultation in that process. On that basis, I withdraw amendment No. 8.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 8 not moved.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 15, lines 16 and 17, to delete “Local Government (Rates) Act 2019” and substitute “Local Government Rates and Other Matters Act 2019”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 17, lines 15 and 16, to delete “Local Government (Rates) Act 2019” and substitute “Local Government Rates and Other Matters Act 2019”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 18, lines 2 and 3, to delete “Local Government (Rates) Act 2019” and substitute “Local Government Rates and Other Matters Act 2019”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 18, to delete lines 22 to 24.

This section, referencing this Bill on enactment in Part 19A of Local Government Act 2001, will no longer be required if amendment No. 26, which repeals Part 19A of Local Government Act 2001, is accepted.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 18, line 28, to delete “Local Government (Rates) Act 2019” and substitute “Local Government Rates and Other Matters Act 2019”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 14:

In page 18, lines 30 and 31, to delete “Local Government (Rates) Act 2019” and substitute “Local Government Rates and Other Matters Act 2019”.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill recommitted in respect of amendments Nos. 15 to 18, inclusive.

I move amendment No. 15:

In page 18, between lines 32 and 33, to insert the following:

Certain regional spatial and economic strategies

23. (1) Notwithstanding paragraphs (a) and (b) of Article 2 of the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018 (Commencement) Order 2019 (S.I. No. 133 of 2019)—

(a) sections 31AQ and 31AR (inserted by section 4 of the Act of 2018) of the Act of 2000, and

(b) the specified amendment,

shall, in so far only as they apply in relation to a relevant instrument, be deemed never to have come into operation.

(2) Section 31A (as, by virtue of subsection (1), it is deemed to operate in relation to a relevant instrument) of the Act of 2000 is amended, in so far only as it applies in relation to a relevant instrument, by—

(a) the substitution, in subsection (3), of “6 weeks” for “4 weeks”,

(b) the substitution—

(i) in paragraph (a) of subsection (10), of “Minister” for “Office of the Planning Regulator”, and

(ii) in paragraph (b) of subsection (10), of “Office of the Planning Regulator” for “Minister”,

(c) in subsection (19), by the substitution of—

(i) “assembly” for “authority” in each place that it occurs,

(ii) “assemblies” for “authorities”, and

(iii) “assembly’s” for “authority’s”,

and

(d) the insertion of the following subsection:

“(21) The Minister may, at any time, request the Office of the Planning Regulator to—

(a) advise him or her in relation to any matter in connection with a regional spatial and economic strategy or any report under this section, or

(b) prepare, and submit to the Minister, a report in relation to any such matter,

and the Office of the Planning Regulator shall, within such period as the Minister shall specify, comply with that request.”,

and the said section 31A as so amended in relation to a relevant instrument is set out in the Table to this section.

(3) In this section—

“Act of 2000” means the Planning and Development Act 2000;

“Act of 2018” means the Planning and Development (Amendment) Act 2018;

“relevant instrument” means—

(a) a notice in respect of which the functions under subsection (2) of section 24 of the Act of 2000 were performed (in whole or in part) by a regional assembly before 3 April 2019,

(b) a notice or draft regional spatial and economic strategy in respect of which the functions under subsection (4) of the said section 24 were performed (in whole or in part) by a regional assembly before that date, or

(c) any regional spatial and economic strategy made before that date;

“specified amendment” means the amendment of section 31A of the Act of 2000 specified in column (3) of Schedule 1 of the Act of 2018 opposite reference numbers 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 43, 44 and 45 specified in column (1) of that Schedule.

TABLE

31A. (1) Where the Minister is of the opinion that—

(a) a regional assembly, or assemblies, as the case may be, in making the regional spatial and economic strategy has ignored, or has not taken sufficient account of submissions or observations made by the Minister to the regional assembly or assemblies under section 24 or 26,

(b) the regional spatial and economic strategy fails to provide a long-term strategic planning and economic framework for the development of the region or regions, as the case may be, in respect of which it is made, in accordance with the principles of proper planning and sustainable development and the economic policies and objectives of the Government,

(c) the regional spatial and economic strategy is not in compliance with the requirements of this Act, or

(d) if applicable, in relation to a regional assembly or assemblies whose regional area or part thereof is in the Greater Dublin Area (GDA) that the guidelines are not consistent with the transport strategy of the National Transport Authority, the Minister may, in accordance with this section, for stated reasons direct a regional assembly or assemblies, as the case may be, to take such specified measures as he or she may require in relation to that plan.

(2) Where the Minister issues a direction under this section the regional assembly or regional assemblies, as the case may be, notwithstanding anything contained in Chapter III of this Part, shall comply with that direction and the chief executive or members shall not exercise a power or perform a function conferred on them by this Act in a manner that contravenes the direction so issued.

(3) Before he or she issues a direction under this section, the Minister shall issue a notice in writing to a regional assembly or regional assemblies, as the case may be, no later than 6 weeks after the strategy or strategies are made.

(4) The notice referred to in subsection (3) shall, for stated reasons, inform the regional assembly or regional assemblies, as the case may

be, of—

(a) the forming of the opinion referred to in subsection (1),

(b) the intention of the Minister to issue a direction (a draft of which shall be contained in the notice) to the regional assembly, or assemblies, as the case may be, to take certain measures specified in the notice in order to ensure that the regional spatial and economic strategy is in compliance with the requirements of this Act and to provide a long-term strategic planning and economic framework for the development of the region, or regions, as the case may be, in accordance with the principles of proper planning and sustainable development and the economic policies and objectives of the Government,

(c) the part of the regional spatial and economic strategy that by virtue of the issuing of the notice shall be taken not to have come into effect, and

(d) if applicable, requiring the regional assembly or assemblies, as the case may be, to take measures specified in the notice to ensure that the plan is in compliance with the transport strategy of the National Transport Authority.

(5) The Minister shall furnish a copy of the notice referred to in subsection (3) to the regional assembly, or assemblies, as the case may be, and the National Transport Authority.

(6) (a) Notwithstanding anything contained in Chapter III, or any matter prescribed thereunder, a regional spatial and economic strategy shall not have effect in accordance with that Chapter in relation to a matter contained in the strategy which is referred to in a notice under subsection (3).

(b) If a part of the strategy proposed to be replaced under section 26 contains a matter that corresponds to any matter contained in the strategy which is referred to in a notice under subsection (3), that part shall not, save where subsection (17) applies, cease to have effect in respect of that matter.

(7) No later than 2 weeks after receipt of the notice issued by the Minister under subsection (3), the director of the regional assembly, or assemblies, as the case may be, shall publish notice of the draft direction in at least one newspaper circulating in the area of the regional assembly, or assemblies, as the case may be, which shall state—

(a) the reasons for the draft direction,

(b) that a copy of the draft direction may be inspected at such place or places as are specified in the notice during such period as may be so stated (being a period of not more than 2 weeks), and

(c) that written submissions or observations in respect of the draft direction may be made to the regional assembly, or assemblies, as the case may be, during such period and shall be taken into consideration by the Minister before he or she directs the regional assembly, or assemblies, as the case may be, pursuant to this section.

(8) No later than 4 weeks after the expiry of the period referred to in subsection (7)(b), the director shall prepare a report on any submissions or observations received under subsection (7)(c) which shall be furnished to the Minister and the members of the regional assembly, or assemblies, as the case may be.

(9) The report referred to in subsection (8) shall—

(a) summarise the views of any person who made submissions or observations to the regional assembly, or assemblies, as the case may be,

(b) summarise the views of and recommendations (if any) made by the members of the regional assembly, or assemblies, as the case may be,

(c) make recommendations in relation to the best manner in which to give effect to the draft direction.

(10) In relation to the notice issued by the Minister under subsection (3), the members of the regional assembly, or assemblies, as the case may be—

(a) may make a submission to the Minister at any time up to the expiry of the period of time referred to in subsection (7)(b), and

(b) where so submitted, shall send a copy of it to the Office of the Planning Regulator.

(11) The Minister shall consider the report furnished under subsection (8) and any submissions made to him or her under subsection (10) and—

(a) where he or she believes that no material amendment to the draft direction is required, or that further investigation is not necessary in order to clarify any aspect of the report or submissions, he or she may decide, no later than 3 weeks after the date of receipt of the report under subsection (8), for stated reasons—

(i) to issue the direction referred to in subsection (4)(b) with or without minor amendments, or

(ii) not to issue the direction referred to in subsection (4)(b), or

(b) where he or she believes that—

(i) a material amendment to the draft direction may be required, or

(ii) further investigation is necessary in order to clarify any aspect of the report furnished under subsection (8) or submissions made under subsection (10), or

(iii) it is necessary for any other reason,

he or she may, for stated reasons, appoint an inspector no later than 3 weeks after the date of receipt of the report under subsection (8).

(12) The inspector appointed under subsection (11)(b) shall be a person who, in the opinion of the Minister, has satisfactory experience and competence to perform the functions required of him or her pursuant to this section and shall be independent in the performance of his or her functions.

(13) The inspector appointed under subsection (11)(b) having regard to the stated reasons for his or her appointment—

(a) shall review the draft direction, the report furnished under subsection (8) and submissions made under subsection (10),

(b) shall consult with the regional assembly, or assemblies, as the case may be,

(c) may consult with persons who made submissions under subsection (7)(c), and

(d) shall no later than 3 weeks after he or she was appointed, furnish a report containing recommendations to the Minister.

(14) Copies of the report of the inspector referred to in subsection (13)(d) shall be furnished as quickly as possible by the Minister to the regional assembly, or assemblies, as the case may be, and persons who made submissions under subsection (7)(c).

(15) The persons who have been furnished with the report of the inspector referred to in subsection (13)(d) may make a submission to the Minister in relation to any matter referred to in the report no later than 10 days after the receipt by them of the report.

(16) No later than 3 weeks (or as soon as may be during such period extending that 3 week period as the Minister may direct) after receipt of the report of the inspector referred to in subsection (13)(d), or any submissions made to him or her under subsection (15), the Minister, having considered the report, recommendations or submissions, as the case may be, shall decide for stated reasons—

(a) to issue the direction referred to in subsection (4)(b),

(b) not to issue the direction referred to in subsection (4)(b), or

(c) to issue the direction referred to in subsection (4)(b), which has been amended by the Minister to take account of any of the matters referred to in subparagraphs (i) or (ii) as the Minister considers appropriate:

(i) recommendations contained in the report of the inspector referred to in subsection (13)(d); or

(ii) any submissions made pursuant to subsection (15).

(17) The direction issued by the Minister under subsection (16) is deemed to have immediate effect and its terms are considered to be incorporated into the regional spatial and economic strategy, or, if appropriate, to constitute the strategy.

(18) The Minister shall cause a copy of a direction issued under subsection (16) to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.

(19) As soon as may be after a direction is issued to a regional assembly or assemblies, as the case may be, the assembly or assemblies shall make the direction so issued available for inspection by members of the public, during office hours the assembly, at the offices of the assembly, and may also make the direction available by placing it on the assembly’s website or otherwise in electronic form.

(20) The Minister shall publish or cause to be published in such manner as he or she considers appropriate directions issued under subsection (16).

(21) The Minister may, at any time, request the Office of the Planning Regulator to—

(a) advise him or her in relation to any matter in connection with a regional spatial and economic strategy or any report under this section, or

(b) prepare, and submit to the Minister, a report in relation to any such matter,

and the Office of the Planning Regulator shall, within such period as the Minister shall specify, comply with that request.”.

This amendment relates to section 31A the Planning and Development Act 2000, and there are consequential amendments to sections 31A(q) and 31A(r), regarding regional spatial and economic strategies, RSESs. This is a time-critical amendment that arises in the context of the establishment of the new Office of the Planning Regulator, OPR, on 3 April 2019. Section 31A of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, provides for ministerial directions regarding RSESs. As currently enacted, the section provides only that the Minister can issue a direction on foot of a recommendation made to him or her by the OPR, on the basis of the regulator having been involved in the RSES process from the outset and having made submissions on the draft RSES document. The requirement relating to the planning regulator being involved from the outset, however, cannot be satisfied for the current strategies, as the process for all three had formally commenced prior to the establishment of the office. In all three cases, a draft regional strategy was published prior to the establishment of the office and submissions have been made by the Minister.

This amendment provides for transitional arrangements to ensure that the Minister has a robust legal basis to issue a direction to a regional assembly, if necessary. In the case of the current RSES process, the amendment will allow him or her to issue a ministerial direction to the regional assemblies to take such specified measures as he or she may require regarding that plan, which may be required to ensure that the RSES is consistent with, and does not deviate, from the national planning framework, NPF, and other key Government strategies and to bring it in line with national policies.

This amendment has the effect of reverting to the position that obtained prior to the establishment of the OPR. However, in the spirit of the Act, and in recognition of the new office, as established, the proposed transitional arrangement includes provision for the regulator to be requested by the Minister to enter and RSES process in an advisory role where the process had commenced and was under way on the date of the establishment of the office. To facilitate this advisory engagement in the context of the current RSES process, the four-week timeframe for the Minister to issue a draft direction, which was the norm prior to the establishment of the OPR, is being extended to six weeks. The proposed amendment will only apply in respect of the three current RSESs that commenced prior to the establishment of the office.

Section 31A, and related sections 31A(q) and 31A(r), will remain valid in the case of RSESs made in the future.

I did not make a comment on this last night, but this is my third time to contribute to a debate on legislation, where we are bringing in amendments to other Bills on Report Stage. It is disappointing and I accept that there was a presentation on the amendment last week on Committee Stage. My basic understanding is the regional planning process and the regional plans had commenced prior to the OPR being in place and, therefore, the legislation, as drafted, was not then in sync with the current regulator.

The amendment gives the regulator an extra two weeks to review the regional plans and give his or her opinion to the Minister to ensure that they conform with the national strategies. It also allows the Minister the standard four weeks to issue his or her instructions to the assembly. On the basis of the information that we were given on Committee Stage and in the Chamber last night, we have no problem with supporting this amendment. This situation is disappointing, though. This is the third Bill I have handled and it is the third time that we have used different legislation to sort out other problems. There will be another such amendment after this one.

I have given some consideration to the amendment. I will not support it. I echo Deputy Casey's view on it. This six-page amendment is half the length of the Bill that we are discussing in the first instance and is not pertinent to it. I will repeat what I said on Committee Stage and last night. We need Ministers to stop using this mechanism of tabling Report Stage amendments - at times very detailed and technical ones - that have nothing to do with the Bill. This is not a criticism of any of the officials or the Minister of State, as this is not necessarily his fault, but it is bad practice. Our committee has been very flexible with the Department and the Ministers, but that will not necessarily always be the case.

I am opposing the amendment for the same reason I opposed the final piece of legislation on the Planning Regulator. It was then Judge Mahon's central recommendation, which was critical of the overcentralisation of power in the Minister as regards local government and planning, that that power be devolved to fully independent bodies such as a planning regulator. My central objection is not that the Minister should not have oversight of local authorities. I fully accept that there should be oversight, but there should be independence. It should not be the case that a regulator undertakes an investigation or report and recommends a course of action to the Minister and he or she can then ignore it if he or she so wishes. If the Minister chooses to ignore it, all he or she has to do is lay before the Oireachtas the reasons for same. That is not what an independent planning regulator should do, nor is it what Judge Mahon recommended. My principal objection does not relate to oversight but to the Minister's power to decide whether the recommendations from the Planning Regulator are acted upon, which is contrary to the letter and spirit of the Mahon tribunal's key recommendation on planning. Therefore, I will not support the amendment.

I echo the point that I made last night and that has been made again in this debate about making this very long amendment to the Bill even though it does not concern this legislation. I have expressed a different view from Deputy Ó Broin regarding the question of the Planning Regulator. That the Minister must explain to the Houses if he or she is taking a different view from the Planning Regulator means that the Minister is accountable to the Houses for the decision in question. We have a number of bodies that make large decisions for citizens but are not accountable to the Oireachtas. There are transport, health and other bodies that we cannot require to appear before us regarding decisions of theirs that are relevant to citizens. It is a question of balance, but it is better that the Minister ultimately be accountable to the elected Members, who are here on behalf of the people. It is a judgment either way, but in this case it is right. It would be brave or foolhardy of any Minister to make a decision that is contrary to what the Planning Regulator has said is the appropriate action. Nevertheless, the reason behind this measure is to ensure accountability to the elected representatives of the people. While I agree with other Members about the methodology being used in this long amendment, I do not have the same view as Deputy Ó Broin as regards the Planning Regulator.

May I ask for information?

If the Minister disagrees with the regulator and comes before the House, is that the extent of his or her accountability or must he or she get the sanction of the House? Is accountability just another discussion or can the House decide to disagree with the Minister and vote on the matter? Most of the decisions taken around this issue or issues like it in respect of other legislation in the Dáil or at committees involve us noting matters, but we cannot change them or cause there to be votes on them. Are we just to note what the Minister says or will Deputies be able to vote on it?

Can the Minister of State clarify?

I acknowledge the Deputies' comments on the inclusion of this matter. In my years in the Oireachtas, it has not been uncommon for amendments to be made to subsequent legislation from the same Department after situations have been discovered. That is what is happening in this case. I acknowledge that this is a long amendment, but that is due more to the technical nature of what we are discussing than to anything else. My officials and I will endeavour to ensure that such situations are kept to a minimum.

Regarding the points raised by Deputies Ó Broin, Jan O'Sullivan and McGuinness about the Office of the Planning Regulator, OPR, I fully subscribe to the view outlined by Deputy O'Sullivan that the final political decision lies at the Minister's door. The Minister must lay before the House the reasons, but it is just that.

It is a document.

To the best of my knowledge, the sanction of the House is not required under the OPR legislation. As with everything that is laid before the House, however, that does not prevent discussion within the House. I agree with Deputy O'Sullivan's point that any Minister who differed from a decision of the Planning Regulator would place himself or herself in an invidious position, but it is correct that the Minister of the day should be the person who has the final say.

Amendment put and declared carried.

I move amendment No. 16:

In page 18, between lines 32 and 33, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 11 of Act of 2000

24. Section 11 of the Act of 2000 is amended—

(a) in subparagraph (i) of paragraph (b) of subsection (1), by the substitution of “paragraph (a), (aa) or (ab)” for “paragraph (a)”,

(b) in subparagraph (ii) of that paragraph, by the substitution of “paragraph (a), (aa) or (ab)” for “paragraph (a)”, and

(c) in subparagraph (iii) of that paragraph, by the substitution of “paragraph (a), (aa) or (ab)” for “paragraph (a)”.”.

Section 11(1)(b) deals with the incorporation of the national planning framework and the regional spatial and economic strategies into the Cork city and county development plans. This is a minor technical amendment to the Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2018. Section 11(1)(a) requires a planning authority to give notice of its intention to review its existing development plan not later than four years after the plan is made and to prepare a new development plan for its area. Sections 11(1)(aa) and (ab) allow for alternate notification periods for Cork city and county councils whereby they may extend the notification period to review their existing development plans from four years to a maximum of five years by way of ministerial order. This is to facilitate the significant workload and range of complex issues arising from the revisions to the local government arrangements in Cork, as included in the Local Government Act 2019. However, the special provisions for Cork city and county councils are not included in section 11(1)(b) for the purpose of enabling the incorporation of the national planning framework and a regional spatial and economic strategy into a development plan. For legal certainty, this technical amendment inserts the special provisions for Cork at paragraphs (aa) and (ab) into sections 11(1)(b)(i), (ii) and (iii). This ensures consistency with sections 11(1)(a) and 11(1)(b).

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 17:

In page 18, between lines 32 and 33, to insert the following:

“Amendment of Residential Tenancies Act 2004

25. (1) The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 is amended—

(a) in subsection (1A) (inserted by paragraph (a) of section 3 of the Act of 2019) of section 3, by the substitution of “but does not apply to a dwelling” for “but does not include a dwelling”, and

(b) in subsection (5) of section 19, by the substitution of the following paragraph for paragraph (a) (inserted by paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of section 6 of the Act of 2019):

“(a) to the rent first set under the tenancy of—

(i) a dwelling—

(I) in a protected structure or proposed protected structure within the meaning of the Planning and Development Act 2000, or

(II) that is a such a structure,

provided that no tenancy in respect of that dwelling subsisted during the period of one year immediately preceding the date on which the tenancy concerned commenced, or

(ii) any other dwelling, provided that no tenancy in respect of that dwelling subsisted during the period of 2 years immediately preceding the date on which the tenancy concerned commenced,”.

(2) In this section “Act of 2019” means the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019.”.

This amends the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 as it relates to provisions in the recently enacted Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019.

Subsection (1) of the amendment is a technical provision to improve the consistency of the wording in section 3 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 by substituting “but does not apply to a dwelling” for “but does not include a dwelling” in subsection (1A) dealing with student accommodation, as inserted by the 2019 Act. The remainder of the amendment replaces paragraph (a) of section 19(5) of the 2004 Act, which paragraph was also inserted by the 2019 Act and describes the works that would bring about a substantial change in the nature of the accommodation such as to warrant an exemption from the 4% rent increase restriction applicable in rent pressure zones. Concerns have been raised that it would not be possible for works undertaken to protected structures to satisfy this prescription and that this could result in the loss of such units from the sector. That is the case because works to extend, adapt for disabled use or change the layout of a property are less likely to be permitted in protected structures. Works to improve the energy rating of a protected structure would not qualify them for an extension because such structures are exempt from the BER regulations.

In recognition of these factors and to encourage continued investment in this type of property for use in the rental sector, the proposed further change to section 19(5)(a) will allow for the first rent set under the tenancy of a protected or proposed protected dwelling not rented in the previous 12 months to be the market rent. Thereafter, the 4% annual rent increase ceiling will apply. For all dwellings that are not protected or proposed protected structures, the required vacancy period will remain at two years. The enactment of such an amendment in the immediate aftermath of the 2019 Act and the changes therein should help to eliminate any potential negative impact of the changes on the planned refurbishment of protected structures in the rental sector and help to maintain supply of that type of rental property.

I am not minded to support the amendment. I appreciate that the original definition did not take into account pre-63 properties or the protected structures to which the amendment relates. However, the Minister of State has gone too far in trying to solve that problem. The definition is too broad. It would have been possible to provide a more specific definition or, for example, to waive the BER rating change or provide greater flexibility in adaptation for persons with a disability. A 12-month vacancy period is too short. When the original rent pressure zone legislation was being introduced, with the inclusion of a reference to substantial refurbishment, many on the Opposition benches made it clear that the provision was too broad and urged the then Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Deputy Coveney, not to allow the legislation to go through with that broad definition. We were proved right. That deliberate exemption was widely abused, which is why the improved legal definition of substantial refurbishment was contained in the Act which the Minister of State is now trying to amend. I am not opposed to trying to find a way to tackle the difficulties in the case of pre-63 properties or protected structures, but this is not the way to do it. On that basis, I will not support the amendment.

I indicated yesterday that I had questions about this proposal. I would like to tease it out a little more. There is an issue with the BER ratings which are provided for in the Residential Tenancies Act. I ask the Minister of State to clarify the position. He has stated the rent set for a protected structure is the market rent. Does that mean that a landlord may set the rent at whatever level he or she wishes and that it will be accepted as the rent when he or she is letting the property after the specified period of the tenancy? To echo what Deputy Ó Broin stated, this is a very broad exemption for these properties from the protections in place in respect of other rental properties in the same electoral area. Will the Minister of State provide further clarity on why he is proposing this broad exemption in rent pressure zones for protected structures?

The phrasing is used in the amendment in order bring it into line with the other provisions of the 2019 Act.

To answer Deputy O'Sullivan's specific question, the initial rent sought by a landlord is, by its nature, the market rent in the sense that there is no cap on what may be charged. One may set the initial rent for one's property at whatever rate one wishes. The rent pressure zone legislation acts to limit increases thereafter. In that sense, there is nothing unique about the position on pre-63 structures or the protected structures affected by this provision. I understand its phrasing may seem somewhat unclear, but the phraseology is necessary. Our system does not seek to put limits on the rent sought by a landlord letting a property for the first time, although there is a limit on the rate of increase thereafter. Obviously, there is a limit to the market rent a property can achieve, although such limits have been higher in recent years than was previously the case.

The amendment will affect a small number of properties. There is a limited number of protected properties being let. There is an acceptance that necessary works to make them occupiable are limited by the fact that the properties are protected. The amendment is to deal with an omission from the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 and relates specifically to the small number of protected structures.

I will give the Minister of State a real world example. I live in a protected structure in Clondalkin which I rent from the Church of Ireland. It is one of four houses built in the 1870s. They are beautiful and unique stone buildings. The current rent has complied with the 4% rent pressure zone cap in the past two years and is less than half the current market rent in the area. My rent is currently €936 per month, while the market rent in the Clondalkin area is between €2,000 and €2,200 per month for a house of comparable size, albeit one built in this century, rather than 150 years ago. Through the amendment, the Minister of State is allowing my landlord to make some alterations to the property next door to me if it becomes vacant, sit on it for a year and then charge €2,200 for a property that is currently being let for €900. That would be permissible because it would be in line with the market rent. The landlord would not have to do anything to the property, apart from leave it vacant. One may ask why a landlord would do so as it would involve the loss of rental income for a year. However, if one can achieve two and a half times the rent currently being received without having to do anything other than sit on the asset, one may choose to do so.

The problem is that the families who live next door to me are on low to modest income and there is not enough accommodation available for such families. The Minister of State is correct that the amendment will have a limited impact and only affect a very small number of properties. However, it could result in the property in which I live or the neighbouring properties moving from a rent of €900 per month to €2,200 and, thereafter, €2,400, €2,800 and so on. There is a need to work out a solution for properties which, for example, cannot be adapted under the disability regulations or have a BER rating. That should be done because there are derelict properties in this city that could be renovated and rented. However, the amendment is too broad and not the right way to achieve that aim. For every property the amendment may affect in a positive way - that is what the Minister of State is trying to achieve - we may lose a property which is currently on the market for families on modest income who are working and renting. That is not a risk we should take.

It may be helpful to note the situation where a landlord is seeking to let a non-protected structure.

The landlord cannot seek a rent that is higher than the 4% threshold if the property is in a rent-protected zone and if it has been let within the previous 24 months. This provision for protected structures reduces the 24-month period to 12 months, as outlined by Deputy Ó Broin.

Deputy Ó Broin is a lucky man because I think I know the properties he is speaking of in Clondalkin. Certainly, it is not the intention of this legislation or this amendment to seek to diminish the rights of tenants in any way, shape or form. It is an attempt to ensure that this limited number of protected structures that could be subject to letting are provided for in the legislation. I emphasise to the House that what we are talking about is not a situation where a landlord can, at the end of a tenancy, simply return and charge any rent he wishes to charge. The rent pressure zone limit of 24 months is being reduced to 12 months in the case of protected structures. If a new letting takes place within that 12-month period, then the 4% rent pressure zone limit will still apply.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 52; Níl, 19; Staon, 0.

  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deasy, John.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • 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.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanton, David.

Níl

  • Brady, John.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Sherlock, Sean.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Seán Kyne and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Eoin Ó Broin.
Amendment declared carried.

I move amendment No. 18:

In page 18, between lines 32 and 33, to insert the following:

“Amendment of Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019

26. The Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 is amended—

(a) in section 22, by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (2):

“(2) (a) If a tenancy (other than a tenancy to which subsection (1A) of section 3 applies) commences within 3 months from the coming into operation of subsection (1) (other than subparagraphs (ii), (iii) and (iv) of paragraph (b)), the application in respect thereof under paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of section 134 of the Act of 2004 shall, notwithstanding clause (II) of subparagraph (ii) of paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of that section, be made not later than 4 months from the said coming into operation.

(b) If the anniversary of the commencement of a tenancy falls within 3 months from the coming into operation of subsection (1) (other than subparagraphs (ii), (iii) and (iv) of paragraph (b)), the application in respect thereof under paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of section 134 of the Act of 2004 shall, notwithstanding subsection (2B) of that section, be made not later than 4 months from the said coming into operation.”,

(b) in section 25, by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (2):

“(2) The amendment of section 137 of the Act of 2004 effected by this section shall not apply in relation to an application under subsection (1) of section 134 of that Act—

(a) made after the commencement of paragraph (a) (as it relates to paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of the said section 137) of subsection (1), and

(b) that was required to have been made at any time before such commencement.”,

(c) in section 26, by the substitution of the following subsection for subsection (2):

“(2) The amendment of section 137A of the Act of 2004 effected by this section shall not apply in relation to an application to which subsection (2A) of section 134 of that Act applies—

(a) made after the commencement of this section, and

(b) that was required to have been made at any time before such commencement.”,

and

(d) by the substitution of the following section for section 37:

“37. (1) The Act of 2004 shall apply to licences to which this section applies and licence agreements as it applies to tenancies of dwellings referred to in subsection (1A) of section 3 of that Act and tenancy agreements relating to such tenancies, subject to the following, and any other necessary, modifications:

(a) references to tenancy shall be construed as references to licence to which this section applies;

(b) references to tenancy agreement shall be construed as references to licensing agreement;

(c) references to landlord shall be construed as references to licensor;

(d) references to tenant (other than a tenant to whom the definition of ‘multiple tenants’ in subsection (1) of section 48 applies) shall be construed as references to licensee;

(e) references to dwelling shall be construed as references to a residential unit (whether or not self-contained) situated in student accommodation;

(f) references to rent shall be construed as references to payments or charges (howsoever described) payable under a licence agreement to the licensor by any person (whether or not the licensee) in consideration of the licence concerned; and

(g) the deletion, in paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of section 12, of the words “and exclusive”.

(2) This section does not apply to a licence in respect of student accommodation in which the licensor (other than a licensor who is not an individual) resides, and references in this section to licence to which this section applies shall be construed accordingly.

(3) In this section—

‘licence’ means a licence—

(a) given by the owner (in this section referred to as the ‘licensor’) of student accommodation to a student (in this section referred to as the ‘licensee’), and

(b) created not earlier than one month after the commencement of this section,

permitting the licensee to enter and reside in a residential unit (whether or not self-contained) within that student accommodation in consideration of the making by any person (whether or not the licensee) of a payment or payments to the licensor;

‘licence agreement’ means an agreement (whether or not in writing) between the owner of student accommodation and a student giving a licence to which this section applies to the student;

‘owner’ means, in relation to student accommodation, any person (other than a mortgagee not in possession) who has an estate or interest in that accommodation;

‘student’ means a person registered as a student with a relevant provider (within the meaning of the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012);

‘student accommodation’ means a building, or part of a building, used for the sole purpose (subject to paragraphs (a), (b) and (c)) of providing residential accommodation to students during academic term times—

(a) whether or not the building or part of the building concerned is used for any other purpose outside of those times,

(b) whether or not any such students are permitted to reside there outside of those times, and

(c) whether or not any person other than a student resides there, provided that the purpose of the said person’s residing there serves the first-mentioned purpose.”.”.

Amendment No. 18 amends four sections of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Act 2019 which relate to the application of the legislation to student-specific accommodation, whether occupied under licence or tenancy. It also addresses the arrangements for the commencement of annual registration for tenancies both generally and in the student-specific accommodation sector. The primary change applies to section 37 of the 2019 Act, which provides for the application of certain aspects of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 to student-specific accommodation occupied under licence. The intention is to commence this provision in mid-July, in time for the coming academic year. At that point, the 4% per annum rent increase restriction in rent pressure zones, RPZs, the dispute resolution services of the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB, registration requirements, and the new RTB sanctioning regime for improper conduct will all apply to the student-specific accommodation sector. The definition of "owner" used in section 37 of the 2019 Act has been identified as enabling its possible circumvention through the use of lessors to occupy the accommodation. The proposed amendments to the definition will close this potential loophole prior to the imminent commencement of the provisions by clarifying that an owner is any person with an estate or interest in the property.

Also, to improve the clarity of the provision, the substituted section 37 places the text at the end of the enacted subsection (2) into a separate new subsection (2).

The other three sections of the 2019 Act amended by amendment no. 18 are sections 22, 25 and 26 and these sections relate to the introduction of annual registration for student-specific accommodation and other tenancies, which will happen in 2020 when the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB has completed its preparations for this change. These three technical amendments arise from the fact that the move to annual registration will take place after the commencement of the student accommodation provisions and the 2019 Act consequently makes separate provision for the registration fee applicable to student-specific accommodation. The amendment to section 22(2) clarifies that the three-month phasing-in arrangement relates to tenancies other than those in the student-specific accommodation sector, which are provided for with a separate but similar three-month phasing-in period via a provision in section 22(1). Sections 25 and 26 of the 2019 Act deal with the amount of the registration fee applicable generally and a reduced fee applicable to dwellings provided by approved housing bodies. The technical amendments to sections 25(2) and 26(2) clarify that the changes to registration fees under the 2019 Act will not take effect in respect of tenancies, other than those in the student-specific accommodation sector, until after the introduction of the annual registration fee regime in 2020.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.

Amendments Nos. 18a and 22 to 27, inclusive, are related. Amendment No. 18a is consequential on amendment No. 27. Therefore, amendments Nos. 18a and 22 to 27, inclusive, may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 18a:

In page 18, to delete lines 36 and 37.

Amendment No. 18a is a technical amendment. Part 2 of the Schedule outlining regulations to be repealed is being deleted as a consequence of amendment No. 27; there are now no regulations to be repealed in Part 2 of the Schedule. Section 23(2) refers to Part 2 of the Schedule. It is thus proposed to delete section 23(2).

Amendment No 22 is a technical amendment to remove the repeal of section 65 of the Poor Relief (Ireland) Act 1838 in order to retain the provision for a rate book. Amendments No. 23 is also a technical amendment. As Amendment No. 5 has been carried, allowing an apportionment between the different occupiers in a given year, on a pro rata basis - this relates to some of points made by Deputy Jan O'Sullivan - it is proposed to repeal the existing Victorian and archaic provisions in relation to pro rata apportionment.

Amendments Nos. 24 and 25 are technical amendments. Section 8 allows for a local authority to make a scheme for abatement of rates in respect of vacant properties. Amendments Nos. 24 and 25 propose to repeal existing provisions relating to rates on vacant premises in section 71 of the Local Government (Dublin) Act 1930, section 20 of the Cork City Management (Amendment) Act 1941 and section 14 of the Local Government Act 1946 in relation to rates on vacant premises. These provisions, if not repealed, would undermine the ability of local authorities to devise policy in relation to vacant properties and make abatements schemes provided for in section 8 accordingly.

Amendment No. 26 is a technical amendment to remove the provisions included in section 211B of the Local Government Act 2001, allowing for an entry year property levy on newly erected or newly constructed relevant property. As amendment No.. 5 has been carried, allowing for additions to the valuation list to be immediately effective for rating purposes, the entry year property levy should be repealed to avoid a situation where a ratepayer can be liable for both the entry year property levy and rates.

Amendment No. 27 is a technical amendment to retain regulations 21, 22 and 25 in the Local Government Financial and Audit Procedures) Regulations 2014. It is intended to retain the provisions in relation to the rate book and to amend the regulations in the future, to reflect amendment No. 6, allowing for the storage and publication of the rate book in electronic format.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 19:

In page 18, line 39, to delete “Local Government (Rates) Act 2019” and substitute “Local Government Rates and Other Matters Act 2019”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 20:

In page 19, line 1, after “Act” to insert “(other than sections 23, 24, 25 and 26)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 21:

In page 19, between lines 2 and 3, to insert the following:

“(3) Sections 23 and 24 shall be included in the collective citation, the Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2019.

(4) Sections 25 and 26 shall be included in the collective citation, the Residential Tenancies Acts 2004 to 2019.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 22:

In page 20, to delete lines 10 and 11 and substitute the following:

1

1 & 2 Vict. c. 56

Poor Relief (Ireland) Act 1838

Sections 61, 70 and 71

”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 23:

In page 20, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

4

53 & 54 Vict. c. 30

Poor Law Acts (Ireland) Amendment Act 1890

Section 2

5

61 & 62 Vict. c. 37

Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898

Section 62

”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 24:

In page 20, to delete lines 16 to 21 and substitute the following:

4

No. 27 of 1930

Local Government (Dublin) Act 1930

Section 63 (other than subsection (4)), 71

5

No. 5 of 1941

Cork City Management (Amendment) Act 1941

Section 16 (other than subsection (4)), 20

”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 25:

In page 20, to delete lines 24 and 25 and substitute the following:

7

No. 24 of 1946

Local Government Act 1946

Section 14, Section 18 (other than subsection (3))

”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 26:

In page 20, to delete lines 31 to 35 and substitute the following:

10

No. 37 of 2001

Local Government Act 2001

Clause I of subparagraph (i) of paragraph (b) of subsection (7) of section 103, Part 19A

”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 27:

In page 21, to delete lines 1 to 8.

Amendment agreed to.

Before we proceed to Fifth Stage, under Standing Order 154(3), I have to report to the House that as a result of amendment No. 1 being agreed on the recommittal earlier, it is proposed especially to the Dáil that the Bill's Long Title has now been amended.

Bill, as amended, received for final consideration and passed.

I thank everybody for their co-operation.

The Dáil adjourned at 10.15 p.m. until 9.30 a.m. on Thursday, 4 July 2019.