I move the following amendment:—
Section 9. To add at the end of this section the following words:—"Provided that this section shall only apply to the purchase or manufacture, storage, transport, and sale of materials or appliances to be used in an area in which the Minister, after a local enquiry under Section 8 of this Act, is satisfied that the cost of any materials or appliances in that area is excessive and restrictive of the output of building work."
I introduced this amendment with the idea of restricting the trading activities of the Government to areas where they found prices were wrong or where contracts were so expensive as to stop the work. If they institute such an inquiry they can use the powers they are taking under Section 9, if necessary. As far as the discussion on this subject went on the last occasion in the Seanad, it was evident from the vote that was taken that the majority of the Senators were in favour of the Government entering into trading operations on a Bill that is to last only for 12 months. The Government was to have power to establish factories and purchase quantities of material. As well as I could, I pointed out that these trading ventures could be entered into without getting the consent of the Oireachtas. The President stated that every expenditure would have to be sanctioned by the Oireachtas, but the wording of the Bill, as far as one can judge, provides for the expenditure first and for sanction afterwards. There is nothing to show that that is not the practice that is going to be followed.
I do not think I ever knew of a Bill, especially a temporary Bill, giving sanction beforehand for what might be a disastrous course of trading, and interfering perhaps with the perfectly legal profits of persons that this Bill wants to induce to come back to business—speculative builders. These restrictions are evidently aimed at speculative builders who may happen to build houses and sell them at a profit. I should think that it would have paid the State to have some body of men connected with housing to deal with the matter, so as to induce people to speculate in house building, and put their money and labour into it. Instead of that this Bill insinuates that everybody connected with the supply of material for builders and with contracts is trying to rob the State. The amendment seeks to restrict trading activities to areas where the cost of materials or appliances is proved to be excessive, so that the powers taken shall not be used all over the country.