This Bill has seven important purposes: to establish, on a statutory basis, Temple Bar Renewal Limited as the company to approve projects for incentives as provided for in the Finance Act, 1991, and to provide that the company shall lay their decisions on the approval of development proposals before both Houses of the Oireachtas for their information; to establish on a statutory basis Temple Bar Properties Limited as the company to implement the development of Temple Bar on behalf of the Government; to provide that the Minister for Finance may guarantee the borrowings of Temple Bar Properties Limited; to provide that Temple Bar Renewal and Properties Limited will be subject to public service pay guidelines; to provide that tenants in Temple Bar may not assign, sublet or share possession without the prior consent in writing of Temple Bar Properties Limited; to provide for powers of compulsory purchase in the Temple Bar area to Temple Bar Properties Limited; and to provide for the exemption of Temple Bar Properties Limited from stamp duty in relation to the properties they acquire in the Temple Bar area.
These provisions together with the relevant incentives provided in this year's Finance Act are the basis for a major cultural and tourism development in this our capital city of Dublin.
Temple Bar combines a strong cultural heritage, especially from Viking and early Christian times, with a strong modern sense of place. This unique combination make the Temple Bar area ideal for a development that will build on what is already happening there and create a renewed area to attract many people both from Ireland and from abroad to visit, to work in and to live in. In the renewed area the historical traditions will be interpreted in an authentic yet appealing way to mix with the development of the cultural themes already present in Temple Bar especially of theatre, music, film, visual and graphic art and sculpture. The renewed area will overlay this with its bustling character especially of its restaurants and second hand shops. The total mix will have undoubted appeal in generating many extra visitors both Irish and foreign.
In Ireland we export £700 million out of a population of 3.5 million people in tourism revenue while inward revenue from the rest of the world is £1,000 million. There is, therefore, vast potential to accelerate the numbers of tourists, and the revenue arising, coming to Ireland. This is a prime focus of current Government policy.
Ireland offers a unique experience to visitors in terms of heritage and culture and it is the policy of this Government to promote activities which will enhance our environment and extend a wider knowledge of our culture to overseas visitors in particular.
This is the policy that is being pursued in the Temple Bar area. Economic investment by way of tax incentives have been provided in this year's Finance Act, for the reconstruction and refurbishment of buildings in the Temple Bar area.
In this way the area will be a showcase, both nationally and internationally to indicate the great potential for inner city renewal where there is a cohesive plan, supported by Government, city planners and the people from the area itself.
The Temple Bar area has spontaneously become a cultural "village" within the city. There already exists a vibrant intertrading and interdependence among the tenants involving artists, traders, restaurateurs, musicians, business people, publicans and residents. These activities will be nurtured by the Temple Bar companies. Cultural activities which would not in the normal course be fully economically viable, will be supported by subsidised rents.
As a place to visit, Temple Bar is and will continue to be crucially about the people who work and live in it. The success of the renewal of the area is critically dependent on keeping and developing its existing character. The work of Temple Bar Development Council has been a major significance in this process. The Taoiseach and the Government intend that the consultation and involvement of the people of Temple Bar will continue as a key part of the development process.
I want today to dispel a number of myths which Opposition speakers have attempted to promulgate about the Temple Bar development. They have argued that there is something unusual in the Taoiseach's involvement in the project. This is, in fact, perfectly straightforward. The Taoiseach is the leader of the Government and is the Minister with responsibility for cultural affairs. In that capacity he has responsibility, for example, for the National Museum, National Library, National Gallery and the recently opened and widely praised Museum of Modern Art. To ensure that this perfectly straightforward process is clearly seen to work in practice the Bill before us today contains a series of provisions to ensure that the development of the Temple Bar area is, and is seen to be, fully transparent and accountable. The accountability and transparency of the renewal of Temple Bar will be underpinned in particular by the facts that the decisions of Temple Bar Renewal Limited will be laid before the Oireachtas, the borrowings of Temple Bar Properties Limited will be authorised by the Minister for Finance who will inform the Oireachtas of the outcome and the operation of Temple Bar Properties Limited will be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General whose report will again come before the Oireachtas.
In this connection, I want to underline that the Minister for Finance, his Department and the Revenue Commissioners will act fully in the normal way in relation to the Temple Bar companies. The role of the Revenue Commissioners is particularly important because it is they and they alone who will decide what specific expenditure qualifies for tax allowances in every case.
I believe these key aspects of the development will provide ample opportunity for all in the Houses of the Oireachtas to be fully satisfied that Temple Bar is being developed as it should be.
Opposition speakers have argued that, in some way, the powers of Dublin Corporation are reduced in the case of Temple Bar. Nothing could be further from the truth. The approach adopted by the Taoiseach and Government to the development of Temple Bar is to provide for a unique three-way development partnership of the local community, Temple Bar Development Council, the local authority, Dublin Corporation, and the central authorities, the Departments of the Taoiseach, the Environment, Communications, Tourism and Transport, Bord Fáilte and FÁS. All are involved in the development process which the Bill underpins. This partnership of local community, local authority and central Government is one which draws together the key actors in development and has widespread constructive application right across the board. The Government and the social partners have used the same approach in the new area based response to unemployment.
I am happy to take this opportunity to wish the new Lord Mayor of Dublin, Alderman Seán Kenny, well for the year ahead. As the Lord Mayor of the day, he will be Chairman of Temple Bar Renewal Limited. I am confident he will oversee a major part of the Temple Bar development in the year before us.
Other myths that the Opposition have attempted to put abroad are that there will be widespread windfall profits in the Temple Bar development, that CIE will lose out in the disposal of the property they own in the area and that there is something unusual in two companies being involved in the Temple Bar renewal.
The reality of the renewal of Temple Bar is that it will be essential that rents be low in many cases. That is the nature of the activities that are the heart of Temple Bar. To the extent that profits are made these will be reinvested by Temple Bar Properties Limited in the overall development. The keynote of the renewal will be small scale and this does not and will not lend itself to major windfall profits.
CIE will be fully compensated for their property holding in Temple Bar. An independent valuer was agreed by CIE for this process. He has made the necessary valuation. It comes to almost £4 million. This will be paid to CIE very shortly after this Bill becomes law.
The need for two companies in developing Temple Bar stems from the need to separate decisions on the activities to benefit from incentives from the implementation of the development. The renewal company will be responsible for the first policy function, the properties company for the implementation function. The companies will operate at arms length. I understand, for example, that directors of the renewal company involved in particular projects will not, as is normal, participate in the discussion of incentive issues in those cases. This will apply to projects coming from the properties company and to any other cases arising.
I trust that what I have said makes clear that the essential development of Temple Bar is one in which significant imagination will be necessary to achieve a development in sympathy with low cost but one which, if successful, will undoubtedly bring many extra visitors to the area, our capital city and ultimately, our beloved country.
I am confident that the Members of this House will make their usual positive contributions on the important provisions before us in this Bill. In that way we can all contribute to the partnership that is at the heart of the renewal and development of this unique and historic area of Temple Bar in the heart of our great capital city.