Yesterday, the Cabinet approved the defective concrete block remediation Bill. After months of delay, homeowners affected by pyrite, mica and pyrrhotite have sight of the Government's intentions. Tomorrow, the Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage will sit for six hours to scrutinise the general scheme of the Bill. We will hear from homeowners, experts and officials. It is disappointing that the full Bill has not yet been published in advance of that meeting and it is concerning that the Government is allowing just three weeks for the legislation's passage. It is a complicated Bill that comes with a price tag possibly exceeding €3 billion and there is a concern that the Government will not afford adequate time for full committee consideration of the Bill over the next number of weeks. This concern is shared by homeowners, and it should concern the taxpayers, who are being asked to foot the bill.
No Deputy wants to delay the passage of the legislation, but surely we all want to get it right. As it stands, the legislation is not fit for purpose. It is defective. Like the homes it promises to fix, it is filled with cracks and holes and stands on weak foundations. It will not provide 100% redress for many homeowners. The formula for calculating costs is deeply flawed. The proposals for addressing cost inflation are wholly inadequate. The exclusion of foundations is contrary to the science. There are no mechanisms for penalty-free downsizing. There is no clarity on meeting current building and energy efficiency regulations. There are concerns that homeowners will be denied demolition and rebuilding even where that is the most sensible option. There are fears that the damage threshold will exclude many affected households. There are concerns that the appeals process may not be fully independent.
Just as the Bill has been delayed, many are worried that the subsequent regulations will be, too, meaning that the new scheme may not be open and available for applications until 2023. I wonder why the review of Irish Standard, IS, 465:2018, which underpins the scheme, will not be concluded in parallel with the Bill, if it will also be delayed and whether it will address key issues such as, for example, foundations and pyrrhotite. These are all genuine concerns expressed in recent days by affected homeowners, families who have lived in the most appalling and stressful of conditions for more than a decade, who have been repeatedly failed by Governments and who are urging all of us to work together to get the Bill right.
Ultimately, responsibility for defective buildings lies with industry - rogue quarries, block manufacturers and, in other cases, contractors - but the Government is also to blame. Light-touch regulation introduced by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael in the 1980s and 1990s created the context in which such rogue operators could survive and flourish. Thankfully, we now have the opportunity to clean up that mess, do right by homeowners and, crucially, deliver 100% redress.
My question is simple. Will the Minister commit to working with all of us on the committee over the next three and a half weeks to ensure that we address all of these issues and give the homeowners in the affected counties the redress scheme that they desperately need and rightly deserve?