Public Business. - Town and Regional Planning Bill, 1933—Report Stage.

Leas-Chathaoirleach

Government amendment No. 1:—

Section 2. To add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—

(3) For the purposes of this Act the placing or keeping on any land of any shed, van, tent, or other object (whether fixed or movable or collapsible) which is not a structure shall be a use of such land.

I second.

On the Committee Stage I undertook to consider the points then raised by Senator Douglas, in connection with amendments proposed by him to Section 2, so as to include tents or caravans that are placed on land. I have had the matter further considered, and I think the amendment now proposed will fully meet the case the Senator had in mind.

I am quite satisfied.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:—

New section. Before Section 16, and in Part I, to insert a new section as follows:—

16.—(1) It shall be lawful for the Minister by order to establish consultative councils for giving, in the manner prescribed by the order, advice and assistance to the Minister in the exercise of his powers under this Act.

(2) Payments may be made by the Minister, out of moneys voted by the Oireachtas, to members of consultative councils and committees thereof, to such extent as may be sanctioned by the Minister for Finance, in respect of all or any of the following matters, that is to say:—

(a) payment of travelling expenses;

(b) payment of subsistence allowance;

(c) reasonable compensation for loss of remunerative time.

(3) Every consultative council established under this section shall consist of persons having practical experience or special knowledge of the matters in respect of which they are to give advice or assistance.

I believe this amendment is somewhat similar to one that was proposed in the Dáil, the object being to give the Government power, if they find it necessary or advisable, to have consultative councils. It does not provide that the members of these councils shall be paid officials, but there is power, which is not obligatory, to pay travelling expenses, to pay subsistence allowances, and even in particular cases to pay reasonable compensation for loss of remunerative time. That is permissive. One of the difficulties is, that I do not think there are many officials, and certainly not many other people, with experience of town planning. I recognise that it may be difficult at present to get suitable consultative councils. I am not at all certain that, in practice, it may not be found desirable, at a later date, to bring a small number of people into consultation in a strictly legal way. I believe this is one way in which to get a very considerable increase of interest in the working of the Bill, and I suggest that that is a good reason why this power should be given, without having to introduce a further Bill.

My objection to this amendment is that it tends to overload Departments. I presume if there are consultative councils to advise the Minister these councils will have clerks and officials.

I cannot imagine consultative councils without an office, and some clerks, and other arrangements of that character, so that our Departments will become in a very real sense circumlocution offices. A consultative council was appointed in connection with the Department of Fisheries. That was in quite a different category to the proposals contained in the present Bill. A town planning scheme is not to be settled by a Minister. It is to be settled by a local authority. So far as I read through the Bill, the function of the Minister is to see that schemes settled by local authorities are in conformity with the law. I do not see that consultative councils are necessary in this case at all, and I am opposed to the principle of consultative councils, who are to receive travelling expenses and other allowances. The proper course for the Minister is to do his own work on his own responsibility, subject to Parliament, and not to shield himself behind the advice of other people, non-elected, who are to be paid at the expense of the taxpayers for the work of consultation which they are supposed to undertake. I am wholly against the principle of consultative councils in relation to town planning, or in relation to any other question which the Minister by law is required to do.

An amendment practically similar to this was discussed in the Dáil. It was put down by Deputy Dillon on the Committee or the Report Stage. I said then that I would like to hear what support the suggestion had in the Dáil. I must say that it got very little support. Probably one Deputy gave it some backing, but I think everyone else, including some colleagues of Deputy Dillon, opposed it at the time. I said then, and I say again, that I had no very rigid objections to it, but that I would like to hear if there was any strong backing for the proposition. I repeat that now. Since the Bill was discussed in the Dáil I have given this question further consideration, and I must say that it has not gained favour with me. I inquired about similar Councils that were set up under other Acts. Certainly in one Department my experience has been that similar bodies have not acted, I might say, at all, and have not been of much value or assistance either to myself as Minister, or to my predecessor. Perhaps when we have had more experience of town planning and of the working of this Bill, with people like engineers, architects and citizens generally who are interested in civic welfare, we may be able to get a body of men and women who could be called upon, with their experience and knowledge of the subject, to form councils. I do not think we have such a body of people in the country to-day. Another reason I have against this proposition is this, that this is experimental legislation—something new. We have had nothing of the kind up to the present. Certainly this is not the last Town Planning Bill. Before much time passes we may have amending legislation as a result of our experience. If so, it would be useful if we got the experience and advice of people who take sufficient interest in the subject to go on such councils, with or without payment. I am sure the Minister or anyone in my place would agree if it was found feasible to do so. At present I do not think it would be worth doing.

This is not entirely a scheme of my own. I put down the amendment because some architects and others suggested that it would be well to see whether, on further consideration, the Minister was not prepared to make such a provision in this Bill. I knew that this was not in any sense a Party measure and that there were differences of opinion about it in the other House. The view which was strongly expressed to me was, that while these powers might not be taken at present, it would be found— perhaps earlier than the Minister thinks—that there are a few people who have given a great deal of time and thought to the question, who might be called on in some way to assist. I do not want to press the amendment against the Minister. My reason for withdrawing it is not that mentioned by Senator Comyn, who objects to the Minister shielding behind persons who are not elected, but are in the Government service. I have no objection to the Minister working with civil servants or shielding behind them. There is a place for people like servants of the State on Consultative Councils.

What I object to was the expense foreshadowed in the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Leas-Chathaoirleach

Government amendment No. 3:—

Section 35, sub-section (3). After the word "scheme" in line 61 to insert the words "and by order approve of such scheme as so made."

I second.

This is a drafting amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Leas-Chathaoirleach

Government amendments Nos. 4 and 5:—

Section 39, sub-section (3). After the word "for" in line 38 to insert the words "and manner in".

Section 39, sub-section (3). To add at the end of paragraph (b) the words "or in any manner except a specified manner."

I second.

I am asking the House to take amendments Nos. 4 and 5 together, as they deal with Section 39. In view of the amendment to Section 2 of the Bill, it is well to provide in clause 39 that a planning scheme may contain provisions controlling and limiting the manner in which, as well as the purposes for which, land may be used.

Amendments agreed to.
Amendment No. 6 (Government amendment):—
Section 48, sub-section (1). Before the word "every" in line 51 to insert the words "without prejudice to any civil remedy which may be available in the circumstances to the planning authority or any other person."

I second the amendment.

Senators will remember that there was considerable discussion in Committee on the question of the contravention of a special prohibition. Arising out of the discussion on that question in the Committee Stage, I introduced this phrase to be inserted before the section as it stands. It is desirable that the penalty for contravention of a planning scheme should be without prejudice to any civil remedy which may be available to the responsible authority or any other person, as is proposed in the case of the contravention of a special prohibition, and I recommend that Section 48 be amended as proposed. I suggest the substitution of the word "responsible" for the word "planning" in the amendment.

Alteration of amendment agreed to.

Amendment, as altered, agreed to.
Amendment No. 7 (Government amendment):—
New section. Before Section 57 to insert a new section as follows:—
57.—(1) When a planning authority has passed a resolution for the making of a planning scheme and has, before such planning scheme comes into operation, made a special prohibition in relation to any work, such planning authority may, if they are of opinion that the prejudicial effect of proceeding with or doing the work to which such special prohibition relates would be of such nature as to be incapable of being remedied after the coming into operation of such planning scheme, declare, at any time before such planning scheme comes into operation, that any contravention of such special prohibition before such coming into operation shall be unlawful.
(2) Without prejudice to any civil remedy which may be available in the circumstances to the planning authority or any other person, every person who proceeds with or does any work which is a contravention of a special prohibition and is by virtue of a declaration under this section an unlawful contravention of such prohibition shall be guilty of an offence under this section, and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for any term not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.

I second the amendment.

This amendment is substituted for the amendment proposed in Committee and left over for further consideration. The section has been widened to meet the views expressed in Committee. A planning authority may declare that any contravention of a special prohibition in respect of any work proposed to be undertaken before the coming into operation of a planning scheme shall be unlawful. Should the work be proceeded with, every person who does so shall be guilty of an offence under the section now proposed and be liable, on summary conviction, to the penalties therein contained. This power is without prejudice to any civil remedy and the planning authority or any other person interested may seek an injunction. The amendment does not provide an additional penalty for a continuing offence and, with the permission of the Seanad, I wish to insert after the word "pounds" in the third last line of sub-section (2) the following words which are taken from Section 48 of the Bill:—

"together with, in the case of a continuing offence, a further fine not exceeding five pounds for every day during which the offence is continued."

and also insert after the word "fine" in the last line of the sub-section the words "or fines." There was considerable discussion in the Seanad on this section on the Committee Stage and to meet the views then expressed by Senator Brown, Senator Comyn and others I introduce this amendment.

Alteration of amendment agreed to.

Amendment, as altered, agreed to.
New section ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Amendment No. 8 (Government amendment):
Section 57, sub-section (1). To add at the end of the sub-section a new paragraph as follows:—
(g) in the case of an appeal from a special prohibition any contravention of which has been declared by a planning authority to be unlawful, revoke such declaration.

I second the amendment.

This amendment is consequential on the adoption of the last amendment.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 9 (Government amendment):—
Second Schedule, Part III, paragraph 2. To delete all after the words "preservation of" in line 1 down to the end of the paragraph and to substitute therefor the words "views and prospects and of the amenities of places and features of natural beauty or interest."

I second the amendment.

On the Committee Stage, I undertook to consider an amendment, in the name of Senator Douglas, proposing to insert in paragraph 2 the words "hills, slopes, summits, valleys." I had this matter under further consideration and the amendment I now propose will, I think, meet the requirements of Senator Douglas.

I read the amendment carefully and I think it does meet my requirements.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 10 (Government amendment):—
Second Schedule, Part III, paragraph 5. To delete in line 10 the words "on any ship, boat, raft, or other like object" and to substitute therefor the words "or any temporary erection, on any vehicle, boat or other movable object (whether on land or on or in water)."

I second the amendment.

This amendment is introduced in fulfilment of a promise I gave on Committee Stage.

I think that the amendment is all right but I am not sure that the word "temporary" is necessary. Would not "any erection" be better?

I think that it would be safer to retain the word "temporary."

You could not claim that it was a permanent erection if it were a wagon.

With the word "temporary," we are given even greater power than if the word were omitted.

The question is whether "any temporary erection" is wider than "any erection." If it is, I am quite satisfied.

If it is permanent, it is a structure, and a structure is already covered.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 11 (Government amendment):—
Second Schedule, Part III, paragraph 5. After the word "advertisements" in line 11 to add the words "or other public notices."

I second the amendment.

This amendment is also introduced to fulfil a promise made on Committee Stage.

Amendment agreed to.
Agreed to take the Final Stage of the Bill now.
Bill passed through Final Stage.
The Seanad adjourned at 5.55 p.m. until Wednesday, 23rd May, 1934, at 3 p.m.