Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Bill 2016: Report and Final Stages

I welcome the Minister of State to the House. A Senator may speak only once on Report Stage, except the proposer of an amendment, who may reply to the discussion on it. On Report Stage, each amendment must be seconded. Amendment No. 1, in the names of Senators Grace O'Sullivan and Alice-Mary Higgins, arises from Committee proceedings. Amendments Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together, by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

If I speak on this, will I be able to speak later on other amendments?

They are to be discussed individually but Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, are to be discussed together. Therefore, once the Senator speaks on the group, she may not speak later on amendment No. 3, for example. There is to be just one contribution on amendments Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 7, between lines 21 and 22, to insert the following:

"(2) An application for a strategic housing development under this section, other than for the alteration of an existing planning permission granted under section 34, may not be made by a prospective applicant who holds a planning permission for over 100 housing units in the same local authority area or in an adjoining local authority area for which a commencement notice has not been submitted to the relevant planning authority, unless the Board is satisfied that there were considerations of a commercial, economic or technical nature beyond the control of the applicant which substantially militated against the commencement of development pursuant to the planning permission.".

Amendments Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, are in my name and that of Senator Grace O'Sullivan. We will not be seeking to press all five amendments to a vote. The reason we have tabled five amendments in this area is to respond to the debate we had on Committee Stage. On Committee Stage, there was wide acknowledgement across the House of the reality that there are circumstances in which those who hope to apply for fast-track planning permission under the new measures set out in the Bill already have potentially large numbers of planning permissions. Particularly during the period of the capital gains tax waiver applying to investment property, for example, quite a large number of sites with planning permission changed hands. There are sites that have been held by speculators who have not been building on them and holding back the provision of much-needed housing by refusing to commence on the outstanding planning permission they hold.

We have proposed that those who already have outstanding planning permission for 100 units or more should have to file a commencement order. There is no penalty; it is simply a matter of commencing before applying for new fast-track planning permission in respect of another site. Some legitimate concerns were raised in this regard across the House. There was recognition of the value of the recommendation but there was also recognition that there may be exceptional circumstances, for example, where people have a site in a different part of the country or where there may be issues of viability beyond the control of the developer or applicant. In this regard, we have set out five variations of our proposal. We have set out one very clear amendment that suggests that where a prospective applicant has planning permission for more than 100 units in the same local authority area in respect of which a commencement notice has not been submitted, he or she should not be able to proceed. We have another version that refers to "the same local authority area or an adjoining local authority area". A clause in amendment No. 1 states, "unless the Board is satisfied that there were considerations of a commercial, economic or technical nature beyond the control of the applicant which substantially militated against the commencement of development".

We have addressed the concern over people who may have sites in different parts of the country. We are talking here about people who have sites in the same area. We know that people have had sites in the very centres of Galway, Cork and Dublin cities but have chosen not to develop them until the prices reached a level where the profit would be more attractive. They have drip fed development at times. We are talking about circumstances in which the outstanding and new planning permissions are for the same local authority area. We allow that the condition might not be imposed if the board can be satisfied that there are considerations of a commercial, economic or technical nature beyond the control of the applicant. People will be very familiar with these criteria if they are seeking an extension of planning permission. An individual seeking an extension of planning permission needs to show why he or she has not developed to date. We are setting the same standards here.

This is our attempt to address the concerns raised and come up with a credible, realistic and approachable version of what we desire. It is essential, however, that we send a signal that fast-track planning permission is not a reward for those who have sat on their existing planning permission and refused to move. It cannot be a reward to them. Those with credible reasons for not having developed have sufficient grounds. I am asking the Minister of State to indicate to us which of these amendments in the group he believes to be amenable to him. I will press only that amendment. If the Minister of State has further suggestions on how to tackle this issue, I would be interested in hearing them. The issue was acknowledged by the Minister of State's fellow Minister as an issue.

I second the amendment.

I want to be 100% sure about a matter. I must talk through the Chair to clarify something. I take it from what the proposer said that she would settle for one of the proposed options. Rather than prolonging the debate, it would be interesting to hear the Minister of State's response now. Is he amenable to any of the proposals? He does not have an amendment tabled under this section. Is he happy with the status quo or is he prepared to accept one of the proposed amendments? I do not really know. What is important tonight is that we get to the core of the matter. We debated this at great length. I am interested in hearing the Minister of State's response on whether he sees the light in any of these amendments. Can he support any one of them?

May Senators contribute after the Minister of State, or is it only the proposer of the amendment?

Senator Higgins has spoken, so she can come back in once more.

Is she the only one?

I probably do not have any answers that will satisfy the requirements of the debate but I will outline our reasons. I do not propose to accept the amendments. We understand the motivation but cannot accept them for a number of reasons. Some of these amendments, if accepted, would effectively prevent a developer who had not commenced building on foot of planning permission for more than 100 houses on one site from proceeding to seek planning permission for a strategic housing development on another site in the area where there is greater demand for housing. We certainly do not want to reward anybody for inactivity but we want to try to generate activity. That is the motivation for this Bill.

In the past couple of weeks, I visited approximately ten councils where I discussed this Bill along with other matters. I explained the motivation behind the changes; it is to activate sites. There is a danger that these amendments would have the opposite effect. I understand the reasons behind them, but we could end up with sites not being activated, be they existing sites or potential sites.

Both the Minister, Deputy Simon Coveney, and I indicated last week that there might be a number of valid reasons and circumstances a developer might not have commenced work on a housing scheme for which planning permission has been previously granted. Such reasons could include poor market conditions, declining demand for housing in the area concerned, a change in demand for particular house types, delays in the provision of infrastructure, etc. There is a list of reasons and there are some positives and negatives. In essence, we would not be in favour of the type of restrictive approach advocated by some of the amendments tabled, particularly in the context of the current housing supply shortage, in which we should be endeavouring to facilitate the construction of housing developments in the areas of greatest demand.

Some of the amendments are slightly less restrictive in approach in proposing that before being able to grant permission for a second development of 100 houses or more, An Bord Pleanála would be required to satisfy itself that, where a developer had not commenced work on a previously permitted similar development, there were considerations of a commercial, economic or technical nature beyond the control of the developer which had prevented the commencement of the first scheme. While the amendments are slightly less restrictive, they would potentially make the overall application procedures for strategic housing developments more cumbersome and unwieldy. First, the board would have to identify any such uncommenced planning permission previously granted to the developer in question and then undertake an assessment of the reasons for the non-commencement of the permitted development. It is likely that this would delay the decision-making process. There might also be some difficulty in identifying such other previous planning permissions granted to a particular developer, given that planning applications might have been lodged under different company names, which is common practice.

It is also often the case that large-scale developers will have a number of projects in the pipeline at various stages of development. Some developments may be at design concept stage, while others may be at planning permission stage, under construction or nearing completion. In addition, a developer may have a number of projects which have secured planning permission but which may be scheduled for development sequentially. The planning system should be sufficiently flexible to take account of different scenarios, while still ensuring necessary large-scale housing developments can be brought forward in the right locations where they are most urgently needed, having regard to market conditions, and at the right time.

It is also important to note the position on a different amendment on a related matter proposed by Senator Grace O'Sullivan on Committee Stage last week which I accepted. It proposed that a developer who received planning permission under the new streamlined procedures for large-scale housing developments be able to obtain an extension of the duration of the planning permission only in circumstances where substantial works on the development had been carried out during the original planning permission period. The amendment will have a positive effect and incentivise developers to act on planning permissions and not to sit on and hoard the sites in question. This approach provides for a better overall balance, contrary to the approach taken in the amendments which, as I have indicated, are aimed at preventing planning applications from being made.

For all of these reasons, I must oppose amendment Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive. While I understand the motivation behind them, they could delay, rather than increase, activity. Our sole aim in the legislation is to activate sites. While it causes concern in certain areas, the objective is to bring forward plans, but the amendments could delay this. While I accept the intentions behind them, I cannot accept them.

I regret that the Government is not accepting any version of the amendments. I know that there are 28,000 planning permissions outstanding in the Dublin area. That is why we spoke about the local authority area alone. While I appreciate that the Minister of State and the Department took on board the constructive proposals we offered on Committee Stage in order to try to future-proof the Bill, unfortunately, there is no measure to address the 28,000 planning permissions outstanding which are not being moved forward. I hope the Government will come forward with proposals to tackle the issue. When we talk about generating activity, we should not generate speculation or planning permissions only. The activity we all want to generate is building. This is a key point of leverage. The Department is delivering something to developers and the construction industry. I urge the Government to use this point of leverage to bundle and ensure that if developers want to build on new, highly desirable sites, they will also have to move forward. We have set a very reasonable bar in that regard. Given that we do not have extensive time available, I will press only one of the amendments, amendment No. 1, on which I will seek a division, given that an opportunity has been missed.

The Minister of State asked how we would know where developers' other sites were. That is a flaw in itself. In this new planning permission regime it would be very reasonable for the Minister to require those applying for fast-tracked planning permission to provide information on where they had outstanding large-scale developments. I imagine it would even be necessary to ensure they had a track record in delivering and completing developments, an issue raised on Committee Stage. I urge the Minister of State to come up with proposals not to miss the opportunity to deal with the 28,000 empty spaces in Dublin city alone which should have houses and families in them. If he chooses not to use the tools we have provided, I urge him to develop his own.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 2

In page 7, between lines 21 and 22, to insert the following:

“(2) An application for a strategic housing development under this section, other than for the alteration of an existing planning permission granted under section 34, may not be made by a prospective applicant who holds a planning permission for over 100 housing units in the same local authority area for which a commencement notice has not been submitted to the relevant planning authority, unless the Board is satisfied that there were considerations of a commercial, economic or technical nature beyond the control of the applicant which substantially militated against the commencement of development pursuant to the planning permission.”.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 7, between lines 21 and 22, to insert the following:

“(2) An application for a strategic housing development under this section, other than for the alteration of an existing planning permission granted under section 34, may not be made by a prospective applicant who holds a planning permission for over 100 housing units for which a commencement notice has not been submitted to the relevant planning authority, unless the Board is satisfied that there were considerations of a commercial, economic or technical nature beyond the control of the applicant which substantially militated against the commencement of development pursuant to the planning permission.”.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 7, between lines 21 and 22, to insert the following:

“(2) An application for a strategic housing development under this section, other than for the alteration of an existing planning permission granted under section 34, may not be made by a prospective applicant who holds a planning permission for over 100 housing units in the same local authority area or in an adjoining local authority area for which a commencement notice has not been submitted to the relevant planning authority.”.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 7, between lines 21 and 22, to insert the following:

“(2) An application for a strategic housing development under this section, other than for the alteration of an existing planning permission granted under section 34, may not be made by a prospective applicant who holds a planning permission for over 100 housing units in the same local authority area for which a commencement notice has not been submitted to the relevant planning authority.”.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 are related and may be discussed together.

Are we going to discuss the amendments?

Yes. As they are Government amendments, the Senator had better wait to hear what the Minister of State has to say.

I appreciate that.

Regarding the previous amendment, we will be using many incentives to try to encourage owners to develop their sites. Much of the approach in our action plan to the unused 28,000 planning permissions is to incentivise development and make it worthwhile for everybody. While we do not want to give anybody increased profit margins, we will work with him or her on his or her sites. History proves that use of the carrot can often work better than use of the stick. Certainly, we need the right combination. We are trying to use the carrot as well as the stick.

Government amendment No. 6:
In page 7, to delete lines 22 to 24 and substitute the following:
“(2) (a) Not later than 30 October 2019, the Minister shall—
(i) review the operation and effectiveness of this Chapter, and
(ii) lay before each House of the Oireachtas a report of his or her conclusions from the review.
(b) The Minister may, by order made before the expiry of the specified period, extend such period during which this section shall continue to apply but—
(i) no such order shall be made before paragraph (a) has been complied with,
and
(ii) any such extension shall not be made in respect of a period after 31 December 2021.”.

The Bill proposes that the new streamlined planning procedures for large-scale housing developments apply as a temporary measure, initially for a period of up to three years to the end of 2019. It further proposes that the Minister may, by order, extend the period for a further limited period of two years, up to the end of 2021 to coincide with the timeframe for Rebuilding Ireland.

There was much discussion on these extension provisions on Committee Stage last week, specifically on the need for a review mechanism prior to any such extension being provided for. There was general agreement that a review procedure should be provided for, although there were differing views on the exact form any such review might take. As both the Minister, Deputy Simon Coveney, and I indicated on Committee Stage, we are also in favour of an extension review mechanism. It was inherent in the provisions in the Bill that coming to the end of the initial three-year period, the operation of the fast-track procedures would be reviewed, including taking account of the level of activity under the new procedures, before any decision would be made to extend the period of the new streamlined provisions for large-scale housing developments. If the indications are positive that there has been a good take-up of the procedures by developers, that they are delivering on their objectives in facilitating an increased housing supply, and that the continued operation of the procedures would bring further benefits in terms of housing supply, it is likely that they would be extended for a further two years. That will be the extent of the fast-track procedures under the provisions in the Bill.

Likewise, if a review indicates that there has been poor take-up of the procedures by developers and that it has not delivered on its objective in terms of facilitating the delivery of increased housing supply, it may be the case that the procedures would not be extended beyond the end of 2019. That was and is the intention, although I acknowledge it was not explicitly provided for in the Bill. However, I agree with the principle of a review and having considered the various contributions on this point on Committee Stage, the Minister, Deputy Coveney, indicated that he would bring forward an amendment to deal with the matter. In this regard, we are proposing amendment No. 6 which I feel is an appropriate approach in the circumstances.

In this connection, the amendment proposes that prior to the end of the first three-year period and not later than 30 October 2019, the Minister will review the operation and effectiveness of the strategic housing development provisions. A report on the conclusions of the review would then be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas with no extension of the operation of the provisions being possible before the review report is laid before the two Houses. In addition, and as previously indicated, no extension can be for made for a period beyond 31 December 2021, the timeline for the duration of Rebuilding Ireland.

Amendment No. 7 has, in effect, the same meaning as Government amendment No. 6, the latter has been drafted by the Parliamentary Counsel and its wording is more legally correct. It is purely on that basis that I oppose amendment No. 7 and move amendment No. 6, which does achieve what the Senator is trying to achieve in amendment No. 7.

I welcome the ministerial amendment but there is a slight difference between amendments Nos. 6 and 7. We want a report to be prepared for the Oireachtas but that has to do with all the different housing agencies. I and other Senators are members of the joint committee that deals with housing. Our view is that it is crucial to have the input of all the various housing agencies and then for the report to go back to the Oireachtas for scrutiny and also in terms of accountability and information. The Minister of State must clarify the issue today. As he outlined, there is very little difference between amendments Nos. 6 and 7 but from Fianna Fáil's point of view it is important that it does go to all the various housing bodies and Departments as well. I ask the Minister of State to clarify the issue.

I have listened to what the Minister of State said and I will support him. I am disappointed however in that it is not correct to say the amendments are the same thing.

They achieve the same thing.

They achieve the same thing but one cannot be judge and jury in one's own cause. That is a very simple principle. This is an initiative on which I am generally happy to support the Minister. The Minister came to the House all smiles and he was very reasonable. All I can say from my first few months in the Seanad is that it is a very disappointing set-up. There are very few people in the Seanad, but the public are listening and I appeal to the media to report on it. People have put in a lot of solid work both in the background in terms of the officials behind the Minister of State and in providing the responses. We will have another day for that. It is very disingenuous for the people who put in enormous effort and hard work into the legislation and then one looks at the empty benches in here. The same people are bellyaching on the street and out on the plinth instead of being in here doing their work. That is very disappointing, but that is the way business is done. We have a lot to learn and I am only new here. Day by day I can see this place needs radical reform.

We sought an independent review because the Minister of State needs to be reviewed. The Minister also needs to be reviewed, as do his officials. The people in the Custom House dealing with the section on fast-tracking the system need to be reviewed. The Minister of State referred to the term "fast-track" three times. The Minister does not like the word, as he announced recently to us in here. He does not believe it is a fast-tracking process, yet all over Rebuilding Ireland we read "fast-track". The language appears to be somewhat different depending on the person to whom one speaks.

We have no choice but to accept one of the two options. Fianna Fáil said it would look at an amendment with us but no one contacted us. There is no suggestion of an independent review in Fianna Fáil's amendment and I will not support it for a number of reasons. First, there was no meaningful engagement since we last spoke in here. I take things seriously. If people say to me they will engage with us then let us engage. The Minister of State's amendment is the better of the two. I respect what he said, based on what his officials have said, that amendment No. 6 is the more legalistic parliamentary wording. I fully accept that.

It is disappointing that the review is not independent. The Department will be acting as judge and jury in its own cause. The only consolation in all of this, which I welcome, is that this scheme will not be extended after 31 December 2021. I am disappointed there is no independent element in the review but, as someone said to me coming up the stairs to the Chamber, I should not be surprised, that this is how the public service works, and that is how the civil servants structure everything. We are stuck with a system that has been initiated by the Minister and his officials, and sometime at their leisure, before the sunset clause comes into effect, they will carry out a review of themselves. That is very disappointing.

This is only the start of the process. I will speak to a number of my Independent colleagues. People who support the Government should listen and bring this message back. I will endeavour to make some changes. What I have learned out of this process is that if they think it is dog rough in here they have still to get into Dáil Éireann. I think a lot of what the Government has thrown out in this Chamber will come back to eat them in that Chamber. I mean in a political sense. A lot of good, meaningful work, in particular in regard to this matter was not dealt with but that is where we are. Of the two amendments I will support the one sponsored by the Minister of State.

Like my colleague, Senator Boyhan, I look in particular at my colleagues in the civic engagement group. A huge amount of work has gone into five amendments but there is nobody here to listen. Five, six or seven of us will say "Tá", one will say "Níl" and the vote is lost.

That is unfair. Members are listening on the monitors. They are in their offices.

In fairness, this is a hugely important Bill.

It deserves an a lot more from this House than it is getting.

I have said previously in the Chamber, Senators should not comment on where others are. There are spokespersons on various topics and it might not suit everyone to be here. On another day Senator Craughwell might not be here and he might not like someone saying asking where he is. I would disavow mentioning what other Senators are doing at this point in time.

I have not mentioned any name.

I accept that.

A number of Senators are in the UK on business.

By saying it generally the Senator is tarring everyone with the one brush. All I will say is bí cúramach.

I accept your point, a Chathaoirligh. I acknowledge that a number of my colleagues are in the UK with the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly and Brexit is a hugely important issue.

I, too, will support amendment No. 6. Is there any chance the Minister of State could give us some reassurance? I refer to the line, "not later than 30 October 2019, the Minister will review the operation and effectiveness of ... the provisions." Am I correct in saying it would be open at that stage for the Minister to call for an independent review to report to him? I support the amendment. I do not wish to delay the Bill but I wish to ask the Minister of State the question.

There would be nothing to stop the Minister of the day seeking to have an independent review. However, I think Departments generally do well in carrying out reviews. It does not mean they review themselves. Generally, reviews involve stakeholders getting involved in the process and giving written submissions. I have been involved in many reviews. The process of having an action plan for housing is similar to the process involved in the Action Plan for Jobs. Stakeholders have been involved every which way from a very early stage. There have been stakeholder events and both oral and written submissions. The report that will be brought before the Houses will not just be the view of one or two people in the Department.

In general, the reviews carried out are done fairly, as one would expect. There will be ample time to discuss the report in the Houses of the Oireachtas and for all the views to feed into the process. Departments specialise in reviews and involving everybody in consultation. I do not think it is a case of trying to close down debate but it gets very complicated when one brings in outsiders to do reviews due to the tendering process, procedures and costs involved, which tend to delay the process further when we want to get down to business.

There will be ample time given all the actions involved throughout the Rebuilding Ireland process for reviews, conversations and debates because it will involve a massive spend of taxpayers' money. There will be no shortage of discussion from either the Minister, Deputy Coveney, me or officials throughout the process. I guarantee that. Neither the Minister nor I are short of words and we can say a lot on this issue. We are happy to discuss it as much as we can.

I welcome the Minister of State's amendment. It has arisen from the debate in this House. The amendment strengthens the Bill and makes it much better. After three years the Minister will review the process and there is a possibility of extending the procedures for a further two years if it is considered that it is necessary to do that. If the process is not working the procedures will not be extended. The amendment which has arisen from debate in this House makes the Bill better and stronger.

The objective of amendment No. 7 can be met at a joint committee. It could carry out a review if the Houses of the Oireachtas are not happy with what has happened in respect of the Bill. The joint committee could take it upon itself to carry out a review on whether the Bill is doing what it is supposed to do.

Although she is not supposed to come in again, I will allow Senator Murnane-O'Connor to speak briefly.

Local authorities play a massive role because they deal with this on a constant basis. Will the Minister of State clarify whether the report, which will involve Members of the Oireachtas, will also involve local authorities and the expert housing agencies, which are the leading bodies?

All the stakeholders will be involved in any review, which will feed into the Department. Their thoughts and concerns will be included in a report by the Department. The Department does reviews well. The review is meant to be inclusive. All of the actions were part of a process. They were not one person's great idea. They came from discussions, reviews and consultations with stakeholders. Everyone has a role in making this happen. I have said it at every council meeting I have attended, and I cannot stress it enough, that councillors have a major role in ensuring we reach our targets in Rebuilding Ireland. It is not intended in any way to close down debate but to keep things moving at a fast pace.

That clarifies the situation.

There seems to be broad acceptance of amendment No. 6.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 7 not moved.

Amendments Nos. 8 to 10, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Government amendment No. 8:
In page 15, after line 40, to insert the following:
“(4) (a) In this subsection and subsection (5) “relevant elected members” means—
(i) in the case of a local authority referred to in paragraph (b), the elected members of the Area Committee or Area Committees (established under section 50(1) of the Local Government Act 2001) in respect of the local electoral area or areas, as the case may be, in which the proposed strategic housing development would be situated;
(ii) in the case of any other local authority, the elected members for the municipal district or districts, as the case may be, in which the proposed strategic housing development would be situated.
(b) The local authorities referred to in paragraph (a)(i) are as follows:
(i) Cork City Council;
(ii) Dublin City Council;
(iii) Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council;
(iv) Fingal County Council;
(v) Galway City Council;
(vi) South Dublin County Council.
(c) On receipt, under subsection (1)(b)(i), of a copy of the application and any environmental impact statement or Natura impact statement, or both of those statements, the planning authority or authorities in whose area or areas the proposed strategic housing development would be situated shall—
(i) notify the relevant elected members of the making of that application, the information specified for the purposes of subsection (1)(a)(iii) and the information provided for the purposes of subsection (1)(a)(vii), and
(ii) at the next meeting of each Area Committee concerned, or each municipal district concerned, as appropriate, inform the relevant elected members of—
(I) the details of the application,
(II) the consultations that have taken place in relation to the proposed development under sections 5(2) and 6(5),
(III) the notice issued by the Board under section 6(7), and
(IV) where the meeting concerned takes place after the expiry of the period specified in subsection (1)(a)(iii)(II)—
(A) information relating to the matters referred to in subsection (5)(a)(i),and
(B) where the Chief Executive has formed the views referred to in subsection (5)(a)(ii), such views.”.

I thank the many Senators, including Senator Boyhan, for their contributions on the subject of these amendments, specifically the role of the elected members in the new procedures for large-scale housing developments. There was extensive debate on the issue in this House last week, which the Minister and I as well as our officials have listened to carefully.

The Minister indicated last week that he is favourably disposed to the general principle raised in the discussions last week, which is to provide a mechanism for the elected members to be informed of proposed large-scale housing developments at an early stage in the process and to have an opportunity to express their views on such developments. In light of the detailed discussions, the Minister accepted Senator Boyhan’s Committee Stage amendment, which provided that the planning authority would notify and inform the elected members at a council meeting of any proposed housing developments in their area. In case the Senator missed it, the Minister did accept his amendment last week.

However, while accepting Senator Boyhan’s amendment last week, the Minister also reserved the right to revise the wording of the Senator’s amendment and to potentially go further and to enable the views of the elected members on any such developments to be reflected in the chief executive’s report on a proposed development to the board. This would enhance the involvement of elected members in the new procedures, giving them an opportunity to input into the process and to represent the views of their constituents in accordance with their democratic mandate. This is the essence of what I am proposing in amendments Nos. 8 to 10.

In summary, amendment No. 8 provides that, as soon as a strategic housing development application is received by the board, the planning authority shall notify the elected members of the relevant local area committee or municipal district. At the next meeting of the relevant area committee or municipal district, the planning authority will then inform the elected members of the detail of the proposed application, including details on the pre-application consultations with the planning authority held under section 247 and, if available, information on the submissions and observations received from the public during the public consultation part of the procedures. The local area committee or municipal district meeting will also be informed if the chief executive has formed a view on the proposed development. If the meeting of the local area committee or municipal district is held before the deadline for the submission of observations on the proposed development to An Bord Pleanála, it will also be open to elected members to separately and independently submit their views on the proposed development to the Board.

Amendment No. 9 provides that the chief executive will include a summary of the views of the relevant elected members on the proposed development as outlined at a meeting of an area committee or municipal district. Amendment No. 10 removes the previously accepted amendment by Senator Boyhan as it is now overtaken by the enhanced provisions contained in amendments Nos. 8 and 9.

Therefore, I am proposing amendments No. 8 to 10 are passed but my officials and I are willing to listen further to the views of Senators on this particular aspect of the proposed provisions. The amendment that was proposed earlier was accepted, but it has been made stronger.

I thank the Minister for accepting the amendment, which mainly came from this House. This will make the Bill better and will give local authorities and local representatives an opportunity to voice their opinions on particular planning applications that are greater than 100 houses in size. This is a worthwhile amendment and I thank the Minister of State for it.

I hope the consultation with the councillors will be meaningful. In the past, we have seen Bills that proposed that Members of the Oireachtas would consult and have meetings with local authorities, but many of them have fallen away and many others have not been great. In lots of cases, one would wonder if some of the meetings between the local authorities and Members were at all worthwhile. I hope that the consultation with local authorities will be meaningful and not just a window-dressing exercise and that local authority members will have the opportunity to say what they feel on planning applications.

Like my colleague, Senator Paddy Burke, I welcome the amendment. There was much debate on Committee Stage by Senators on all sides of the House who were asking that an opportunity be given to elected representatives to express and record their views and, if they have any, concerns on applications in their local areas and to submit them as part of any report that goes to An Bord Pleanála for decision. It was also noted on Committee Stage that this was a concern of the Association of Irish Local Government, which is one of the representative bodies for elected members. I am satisfied that the matter is being addressed and thank the Minister for taking into account what he heard in the Seanad on Committee Stage.

It is also important to put on the record that under this legislation no development can or will get permission if the lands are not already zoned. The reserved function of the elected members has primacy. They zone lands appropriately so that our towns, villages and cities can grow in a sustainable way. It is important to note and to reiterate this evening that the legislation will not allow An Bord Pleanála to grant permission if the land is not already zoned. The Minister of State may wish to clarify the situation, if he wishes, but to me this legislation enhances the powers of local authority members for large-scale developments of over 100 houses. My understanding is that An Bord Pleanála could, if it justified it, grant permission for developments on lands that were not zoned or where zoning needed to be changed. Under this legislation, the lands must be zoned residential. This is a positive aspect of the Bill which needs to be communicated to our local authority elected members as well as the executives of councils.

If the legislation is passed, how does the Minister of State intend to notify local authority elected members and executives of its provisions? Will it be by circular or directive? This is emergency legislation and we want to see applications moving forward. It is, therefore, important that councillors and the executive are fully aware of the legislation once it is passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas.

On the power of councillors in respect of material contraventions and the recommendation of a chief executive officer, does the process under this legislation allow a chief executive officer to recommend a change in zoning to a council? Normally, this might apply to the accommodation of extra housing, etc., on the borders of a zoned area. Alternatively, does it have to be dealt with fully in the county development plan? In other words, does a material contravention come into play under this legislation. It may or it may not. Will the Minister of State clarify the situation?

I thank the Minister of State for taking for taking this into account. The primacy of the local elected member, the councillor, is being enhanced in this legislation. I welcome that.

I thank the Minister of State. This section of the Bill has necessitated the longest debate. I acknowledge that the Minister of State and his officials have worked something in to this Bill, but I believe it is unworkable. I will give a number of reasons. There are no municipal districts in Dublin, there are only area committees many of which take place in very small rooms. We spoke about the need, and the box, and the Minister of State himself has acknowledged it. One of the weaknesses in this legislation in the initial scheme that was drafted was the weakness of transparency, the weakness in its public engagement and the weakness in its acknowledgement. The Minister of State and his officials accept this. To be fair to him he has worked practically and well with the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, at our meetings in this House and at other briefings held off-site to discuss this legislation. Some council meetings are not webcast, and the Minister of State has said that he liked the idea of them being webcast because there was a feeling that the public could view the proceedings of the meetings.

This is a new trend in local government. Consider a local council with 40 members. Those 40 members are not going to be allowed to speak because this is now being sub-divided into an area committee or a municipal district or whatever. In Dundrum, which is part of the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown council which is one of the more advanced councils regarding IT and webcasting, there is no webcasting of the area meetings. Now the Minister of State is closing off that option. He is closing down the aspect which last week the Minister had said was the opening up of the process for the public to absorb and engage. How does the Minister of State propose monitoring it? He has now put a huge burden onto the executive of the councils.

The chief executives have made their views very well known on this. I have spoken to a number of them and they have made the views of their respective associations known to the Minister and his officials. Anyone who has been in local government will know that council meeting minutes can be quite contentious, so now the chief executive staff will have to have a minute of the meeting, as a right. We may need more fundamental legislation. The minutes will have to be approved and there will have to be a further meeting convened of the council to approve the minutes. Anyone who has dealt with councils will know that minutes can be amended, varied and further drafts can be brought back. The Minister is now elongating this process. His staff has put him in a situation where, if this was to be agreed, the whole process is elongated because the minutes cannot be approved and cannot go up on the website until they are a true, accurate reflection. This will be quite controversial.

How does the Minister of State propose placing such a burden on the executive of the councils to, in some way, articulate this? These meetings can go on for some two or three hours. One can imagine the heap of papers that are going to be gone through because the Minister of State is saying that the chief executive will have to bring a report on the reviews.

I do not believe that any of this is necessary. Perhaps the Minister of State could go back to the amendment we initially had last week which proposed that the chief executive of the council would be obliged to brief the elected local authority members on the application and lay before them the drawings and various reports, etc., to deal with environmental impact statements and assessments and various development requirements. This could all be simply done if the Minister - he indicated that he was favourably disposed to this - allowed a reduction in the fee. He has not yet set the fees so we do not know what the elected members will have to pay. Given that elected councillors have a mandate from the people to represent their communities, it would be simpler. Let us go for the simpler options and practical solutions where we can. It would be very easy to just empower the elected members to make their own submission. It could be a positive submission, it does not have to be an objection. The observation or submission could be made to An Bord Pleanála within the subscribed period of time, as for anybody else. The elected members could be given that opportunity. Many might not want to be involved. That is a very simple way to approach this.

The Minister is the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government - the big LG - and he has the remit to enhance the capacity of elected members. I know the Minister is committed to that and I am not criticising him. I am very supportive of this Minister on a range of issues. It would be so much simpler, with regard to this specific Bill and the elements on fast-tracking, for the Minister to decide that elected councillors would be empowered to make a submission without a fee to An Bord Pleanála. It must be remembered that councillors do not have the power to make planning decision, and rightly so. They are the guardians and custodians of their respective county development plans. That is the power. They have the power to re-zone in the county development plans every five years. That was simple. I thought we had an understanding, and on the fringes of meetings, that this was what was going to happen. The Minister of State has now come in to add a whole rigmarole, but he has no basis for it. He has not even set out in what format the chief executive would have to make a report to the board. The Minister of State needs to add more to this. The method or mechanism for recording councillors' views has not even been set out, and those councillors would also have to be given an opportunity to look at the report and seek to amend it. One cannot make representations on behalf of elected members without them having the right to review the minutes and approve them, and chief executives would not attempt to do this in any event. The proposed process is long, cumbersome and, as such, it is not the answer.

I take on board what the Minister of State and some Senators are trying to do. We want three things. We want councillors to be able to express their views as democratically elected representatives of communities. We want some mechanism of recording these views and we want the members to be able to submit them. There is no third party appeal in this new process and there are serious questions about the process, but let us take it as it is for the moment. For the final time I appeal to the Minister of State to strengthen the capacity of local elected members and give them their right to make an observation to An Bord Pleanála directly. This would cut out any misunderstandings and it also ticks the boxes in empowering elected members who have the right to represent their communities.

In the context of the previous speaker's comments I believe the amendment goes a step towards what we are all trying to achieve. Senator Burke is correct. If we look at the current modus operandi under which we now operate as Oireachtas representatives in engaging with city or county councils, in many cases it is merely going through the motions. The level of dialogue or information to Senators is quite poor by comparison to that going to members of the council. Senator Paddy Burke alluded to giving meaning to councillors' contributions, and I think the Minister's amendment is trying to achieve it. Senator Coffey has said that councillors' views can be recorded through their expression, their recording and their submission to An Bord Pleanála. I know we are talking about in excess of 100 housing developments in this case, but to make the Bill better it is fundamental to look at - as was said by Senator Boyhan - the council executive, how it reports and what is the process and structure.

I am concerned about the level of engagement. We cannot live in the past all the time. We cannot allow the sins of a few to tarnish all who are involved in local government. We do, however, have local area committees, and ward meetings in the case of Cork city, and we have municipal districts. The Minister of State is trying to make the Bill a better one. I know we cannot be too proscriptive in how the management and councillors engage, record and report their meetings, but with regard to the views of chief executives on amendment No. 9 for example, perhaps the Minister of State could clarify the role of the chief executive now as contained in amendment No. 9. Senator Boyhan spoke about who meets, who records and so on, but we already have a process for minutes in local government which works well. I have a concern around whether the minute is merely a recording of a decision taken or is the amendment now sufficiently strong to show that the minutes should record the contributions and, as Senator Coffey has said, what was expressed and then the councillors being able to submit further? To be fair to the Minister of State and to Senator Boyhan we have come a long way since last week.

Like Members on this side, the Senator has engaged. It is important that we do what is right. In some cases, planning has moved the hearts of towns and cities to the periphery. We need to avoid that, and the Minister's amendments go a long way in that respect.

I was present last week when we discussed this matter ad nauseam. As Senator Boyhan mentioned, this is probably the matter that we discussed the most. He made many good points then and I added a few. Going through my notes, our main discussion was on bringing this back to a local level, for example, counties, larger dwelling areas in cities, municipalities, areas, etc. The Minister has done his best to address this flaw. The meeting will be open like all such meetings and the chief executive will synopsise the concerns of councillors at the meeting for An Bord Pleanála when it is making its decision. Quite a great deal of work has been done on this amendment. I mean no disrespect to the Minister of State or those from whom it came, but what was presented to us on the first day was shoddy. Certain proposals have been clarified or strengthened.

Another point that was raised is not evident under this section. Perhaps it is further on. I am referring to fees in the planning process. Previously, the Minister referred to the possibility of proportionate fees, the planning fee, etc. Will the Minister of State clarify this matter? The Minister gave an undertaking as regards various fees for planning permission being allocated to the relevant counties, but I may be overlooking it in this section.

I thank the Minister of State. We are supportive of this amendment.

I support most of what Senator Boyhan said about recording and fees. We were given to believe on Committee Stage that something would be done as regards fees. We are not looking for Deputies, Senators or anyone else to be exempted from paying fees, merely those who represent locally, namely, councillors. Perhaps it can be done by regulation. That is a suggestion for the Minister of State.

I regretted the loss of the word "independent" in previous amendments in terms of the review, given the importance of an independent review. I recognise the solid work that has been done on the Government's amendment. For example, paragraph (c) sets out the kinds of material that should be available to councillors when discussing applications. As someone who is not a former councillor but who lives in an area and likes to know what is happening in my local council, I regret the loss of that word in this context.

The Minister of State has said that this will be a superseding provision. I would love it if there could be a supplementary amendment to the amendment that was agreed by the Government on Committee Stage to allow for a formal council meeting that is publicly webcast. As a normal citizen in a community, I will not necessarily have access to minutes. If I do, it will be after a considerable delay. It will not be an option for me to watch what my local representatives are debating and to use that to inform any engagement that I might wish to have around a development. There is a time lag for the ordinary citizen, in that people will not be able to see what their local councillors are proposing. Given the fast-track nature of the planning process, will the Minister of State address this concern and accommodate in the amendment that was agreed the practical proposals that have been made? Public visibility and accountability are not just about what is on the record. Timely access for local constituents to information on what is being debated is an issue. I say this as someone who would like to know what is happening in local councils.

There is a fundamental difference in how we view this section. We do not believe that local authorities have been the drag on the planning processes. The Government has done further work on this matter, but as Senators Boyhan and Higgins have stated, this amendment is not workable. If the Minister of State spoke to any councillor about this, that is what he would honestly be told. We will oppose this section.

I will try to answer most of those questions, working backwards. I disagree with Senator Gavan that this is not workable. I have been involved in the process and it has worked. It happens regularly. It certainly did when I was a councillor. I am referring to strategic development zones and councils making submissions to An Bord Pleanála hearings. In my years in politics, everything has been workable when officials want to do something.

Contrary to the opinions expressed, councillors want this amendment. I have been engaging with them at council meetings for the past seven or eight weeks. The intention was always that this would happen, although it was never explicitly said. That is what caused many of the concerns last week. Many of the councillors of all parties whom I have met would welcome this involvement. It is kind of the standard procedure for any sane chief executive who has the time to do it because bringing everyone with him or her works out best for the process.

The amendment, which sets out the procedure clearly, follows on from Senator Boyhan's Committee Stage amendment. We decided to go a bit further and strengthen the process as well as the democracy of same. I am surprised by the reaction. To us, this is a positive amendment and is not meant to be negative. The meetings in question are public and can be webcast.

They should be. Area meetings are. If they are not, that is up to local authority members. It is a local decision. We would encourage it.

Standing orders would deal with that issue.

That is not the same thing.

If there is a major concern, we can examine the matter in the Dáil, but meetings should be public. They are meant to be. When I was a councillor a long time ago, they were public. It is up to local authorities. We can go further and try to recommend public meetings, but my understanding is that they are a given.

Generally, most meetings have been tweeted before they are even finished. We can work on this issue, though. If it is the Senator's main grievance, we can discuss it.

Senator Coffey referred to material contraventions. They are not allowed. A material contravention would have to be dealt with before any application. It could not be addressed in the middle of this process.

We respect the powers of local authority members. The process can only occur in respect of zoned lands. As such, there is no danger in that regard. If Senators analyse this provision more, they will see that we are strengthening the hand of local authority members in planning applications of more than 100 units. Even with these amendments, councillors will have more involvement in planning applications than ever because there will now be a formal process. Before, the process was informal. A councillor might have been able to get a meeting with a planner, make a phone call, catch him or her at a meeting, etc. Under the formal process, a councillor can sit down and go through every large planning application. We attempted this when I was on a council 15 years ago. It worked for a couple of weeks until everyone got overworked. I accept that it will be a great deal of work, but the process is right and we have to find a way to make it work because it led to better planning decisions. Councillors could discuss with officials what an application needed in terms of infrastructure, the community, links with the next site down the road, etc. All of that could be missed otherwise. Under this process, none of that should be missed. It is an enhancement, including for councillors, and is followed by many local authorities in respect of planning and other decisions. They can manage it.

I have answered Senator Coffey's second question. The amendment strengthens councillors' position.

The point on fees was a fair one. It was proposed that we address the issue in another planning Bill.

We will try to see if we can get it done in the Dáil. It is certainly not restrictive. I cannot provide an answer on the issue of fees now, but it can be dealt with before the end of the planning process. If anything, it will enhance a council's position. It does not involve blocking anything.

Will the Minister of State just tell us what the position is?

It has not been worked out, but it will be done. We will try to get it done, if we can.

The issue of levies was raised. It is a given that they belong to local authorities because they are based on contribution schemes put in place by them. They assess the need for infrastructure throughout a county, including amenities, bridges, roads and everything else. That is on what levies are based and the money belongs to councils to be spent on the infrastructure that will be needed. That is what the contribution schemes are about.

Fees will be apportioned appropriately between An Bord Pleanála and the local authorities. The matter will be clarified, but that is a given. I hope we have dealt with it.

Having been a councillor and engaged with councillors in the past few weeks, I think the amendment puts them in a much stronger position. Some have doubts or concerns about the Bill, but it enhances and strengthens their role and should do away with some of the doubts because councillors are at the very heart of this proposal. It is not the case that they have missed an opportunity to put their views forward because there will be a formal setting. It is a positive change. I hope I have dealt with everything as best I can.

Amendment put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 24; Níl, 13.

  • Ardagh, Catherine.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Maria.
  • Clifford-Lee, Lorraine.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Davitt, Aidan.
  • Gallagher, Robbie.
  • Hopkins, Maura.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Ó Céidigh, Pádraig.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Ned.
  • Reilly, James.

Níl

  • Boyhan, Victor.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Devine, Máire.
  • Gavan, Paul.
  • Higgins, Alice-Mary.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • Ó Donnghaile, Niall.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Sullivan, Grace.
  • Warfield, Fintan.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Gabrielle McFadden and Michelle Mulherin; Níl, Senators Paul Gavan and Trevor Ó Clochartaigh.
Amendment declared carried.
Government amendment No. 9:
In page 16, to delete lines 5 to 12 and substitute the following:
“(i) a summary of the points raised in the submissions or observations received as a consequence of subsection (1)(a)(vii),
(ii) the Chief Executive’s views on the effects of that proposed development on the proper planning and sustainable development of the area of the authority and on the environment, having regard in particular to—
(I) the matters specified in section 34(2) of the Act of 2000, and
(II) submissions and observations duly received by the Board as a consequence of subsection (1)(a)(vii),
and
(iii) where the meeting or meetings referred to in subsection (4)(c)(ii) has or have taken place, a summary of the views of the relevant elected members on that proposed development as expressed at such meeting or meetings,”.
Amendment put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 23; Níl, 14.

  • Ardagh, Catherine.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Maria.
  • Clifford-Lee, Lorraine.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Davitt, Aidan.
  • Gallagher, Robbie.
  • Hopkins, Maura.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Ó Céidigh, Pádraig.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Ned.
  • Reilly, James.

Níl

  • Boyhan, Victor.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Devine, Máire.
  • Gavan, Paul.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • Ó Donnghaile, Niall.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Sullivan, Grace.
  • Ruane, Lynn.
  • Warfield, Fintan.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Gabrielle McFadden and Michelle Mulherin; Níl, Senators Paul Gavan and Trevor Ó Clochartaigh.
Amendment declared carried.
Government amendment No. 10:
In page 16, to delete lines 39 to 41.
Amendment put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 22; Níl, 11.

  • Ardagh, Catherine.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Maria.
  • Clifford-Lee, Lorraine.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Davitt, Aidan.
  • Gallagher, Robbie.
  • Hopkins, Maura.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Ó Céidigh, Pádraig.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • Reilly, James.

Níl

  • Boyhan, Victor.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Devine, Máire.
  • Gavan, Paul.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • Ó Donnghaile, Niall.
  • Ruane, Lynn.
  • Warfield, Fintan.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Gabrielle McFadden and Michelle Mulherin; Níl, Senators Paul Gavan and Trevor Ó Clochartaigh.
Amendment declared carried.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 33, to delete lines 17 to 23 and substitute the following:

" " (c) Where the development in question is a housing development, for a resolution to have effect under paragraph (b) —

(i) it has to be adopted by a majority of the members of the local authority,

(ii) it has to be passed not later than 6 weeks after the receipt of the manager’s report, and

(iii) in the case of a resolution not to proceed with a proposed development, it shall state the reasons for such resolution.

(d) Where the development in question is not a housing development, for a resolution to have effect under paragraph (b) —

(i) it has to be passed not later than the first Council meeting after 6 weeks after the receipt of the manager’s report, and

(ii) in the case of a resolution not to proceed with a proposed development, it shall state the reasons for such resolution.".".

I second the amendment.

I must oppose the amendment which relates to the changes proposed in the Bill to the Part VIII procedures for the approval of local authority own-development proposals, including social housing. In this regard, the Bill proposes a number of key changes to the existing procedures in section 179 of the Planning and Development Act 2000. The public consultation period for a proposed local authority own-development proposal is being shortened from eight weeks to six. Subsequent to the public consultation process, the local authority chief executive will have eight weeks to issue a report to the elected council members on the proposed development and the public consultation process held. No timeline is incorporated into the Part VIII approval procedures for the submission of the chief executive's report to the members which could significantly delay decisions on the approval or otherwise of such development proposals. After receiving the chief executive's report on the public consultation on a proposed development, the elected members will have six weeks in which to consider the proposal and, by resolution, to vary, modify or decide not to proceed with the proposed development. A council resolution on a Part VIII proposal will require the support of a majority of the elected members, rather than a majority of the members present at the meeting, as applies at present. This is in line with normal democratic procedures and a better proposal. A resolution not to proceed with a development must state the reasons for this decision.

The primary purpose of the changes is to streamline the timelines for decision making on local authority development proposals, thereby providing certainty around the timeframes for the Part VIII process. Under the revised procedures, the maximum timeframe for the determination of local authority own-development proposals will be 20 weeks from the date of issue of the proposals for public consultation. As I have indicated, under the current procedures, there is no maximum timeframe for completion of the Part VIII process which could result in significant delays in the delivery of local authority own-development proposals, including social housing.

The amendment proposed by Senators Grace O'Sullivan and Victor Boyhan would result in the adoption of different procedures and approval timelines for social housing development proposals, on the one hand, and other local authority own-development proposals, on the other, which I do not think would be a good idea. The proposed new streamlined Part VIII procedures should apply to all local authority own-development proposals, whether they relate to social housing, road enhancements, other infrastructure, libraries, swimming pools or any other form of local authority own-development. In essence, the amendment proposed by the Senators would run contrary to the intention of the Bill, which is to streamline the Part VIII process for all local authority developments, be it housing, works supporting housing or otherwise. On this basis, I must oppose the amendment.

We take on board what the Minister of State has said and will withdraw the amendment. I am happy to say we will have other opportunities, as the Bill will be brought to the Dáil where, no doubt, the Minister of State will deal with all of these issues again. I hope the matter will be raised in another forum with him and thank him for his time. Unlike others, I do listen and have taken on board what he has said which I accept.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 12 and 33 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 33, after line 34, to insert the following:

"Amendment of section 5 ("relevant date", "landlord", "tenant", "lease", etc.) of Act of 2004

27. Section 5(1) of the Act of 2004 is amended by deleting the definition of "landlord" and substituting the following:

" 'landlord' means the person for the time being entitled to receive (otherwise than as agent for another person, excepting where that person is acting as receiver) the rent paid in respect of a dwelling by the tenant thereof and, where the context so admits, includes a person who has ceased to be so entitled by reason of the termination of the tenancy;".".

I second the amendment.

In this amendment we propose a practical measure to address the fact that for many tenants part of the growing insecurity they experience is the fact that the property in which they are living may not be owned by a landlord but, in many cases, has been taken over by a receiver. Those who act as a receiver are freed from the most basic of obligations of a landlord to a tenant, not only the duties set out in the Bill but also basic obligations such as providing for periods of notice.

Tenants have nobody to deliver their tenancy rights and may be summarily evicted without being given the most basic and appropriate period of notice. The purpose of this reasonable and appropriate amendment is to require that a "landlord" would mean "the person for the time being entitled to receive (otherwise than as agent for another person, excepting where that person is acting as receiver) the rent paid in respect of a dwelling by the tenant thereof and, where the context so admits, includes a person who has ceased to be so entitled by reason of the termination of the tenancy". The amendment makes clear that receivers are acting as landlords. It also makes a clear exception for cases where a professional management company with its own administration is involved.

To give a sense of the scale of this issue, in the second quarter of 2016, more than 900 buy-to-let properties were taken over by receivers and more than 300 properties were taken over by banks. In one quarter of this year alone, the rights of tenants living in 1,200 properties have magically disappeared. These tenants face the likely outcome of eviction because the task of a receiver is to maximise profit and return. In developing this proposal, we spoke to those who act as professional receivers and they made clear that their normal course of action is not to continue to act as a landlord and take small rent returns but to quickly seek to maximise profit. This involves the eviction of tenants to allow them to turn around the property quickly.

The amendment proposes to require receivers to meet the minimal standards landlords must meet when they decide to sell a property. This means providing the same basic periods of notice and meeting other conditions. We are trying to introduce a countervailing pressure to the pressure on receivers to achieve maximum profit by imposing on them a set of obligations in respect of the rights of the tenant. I am disappointed the Government did not accept this reasonable amendment on Committee Stage. We have re-introduced it on Report Stage to give it another opportunity to accept it.

The Minister of State will tell the House that the Government will soon produce a rental and tenancy strategy. The Bill deals with the current emergency. As I stated, more than 1,000 families per quarter face the prospect of eviction. As such, in the one, two or three quarters the Department will need to produce its rental strategy and translate it into legislation, thousands of families will be placed in jeopardy. The amendment does not propose a radical change in strategy.

The Minister acknowledged that this is a loophole and we are simply calling on the Government to close it. It is not necessary to wait for the strategy to do this. We would like the Minister of State to accept the wording of the amendment.

I recognise that the Fianna Fáil Party has also tabled an amendment on this issue. We would be happy for the Minister of State to accept either amendment. We cannot allow a scenario to continue where up to 1,000 people could be evicted without notice in any given quarter. I ask the Minister of State to accept the amendment.

While I welcome the amendment and agree with it in principle, I believe the Fianna Fáil amendment is slightly stronger. The Bill does not address the issues raised by the Tyrellstown case, namely, that receivers and lenders are not considered landlords under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. Lenders or receivers may seek to evict a tenant without giving the notice required under law. This amendment provides that where a bank or vulture fund appoints a receiver over a rented property, it should be required to take on all the responsibilities of a landlord. This is crucial as it means receivers would have exactly the same obligations to existing tenants as landlords with regard to Part 4 of the Residential Tenancies Act. This includes its provisions relating to the security of a tenant, the maintenance and upkeep of rented properties, notice to quit provisions etc.

The amendment also seeks to address the position of tenants whose landlords are in receivership and remain solely and fully responsible for returning the tenants' deposits, even though they are in receivership. The amendment also imposes an obligation on the receiver to return a tenant's deposit in full. This is an important provision.

We discussed this issue on Committee Stage. These are important amendments which Sinn Féin supports. The Senators outlined clear reasons for introducing them. People have been caught in circumstances where a receiver has taken over a company that owns the properties in which they live and have been turfed out of their homes as a result. This is a practical response to addressing the loophole in the law.

I am disappointed that, following the comprehensive debate on this issue on Committee Stage, the Minister of State did not at least acknowledge that there is a loophole that must be closed. He appears to be showing utter disregard for the case of tenants in this scenario and to be working instead in favour of receivers. Perhaps he will explain why he is willing to leave the current provisions in place. It is astonishing that he has not proposed to accept the amendment as it is not a radical proposal. It would have enhanced rather than detracted from the Bill but it appears the Government is being obstinate in refusing to accept it.

There is merit also in amendment No. 33. It is a shame, however, that the Fianna Fáil Party has not supported some of the other amendments that have been introduced. We will certainly support this amendment when it is proposed. It would be better if the Minister of State were to accept the amendment and avoid a division because the Government may find that the numbers are against it.

It is terrible that people with small children who have a lease with a landlord and have paid their rent discover that a receiver is allowed to sell a property from under their feet and turn them out on the road. We hear a great deal of rhetoric from the Government about keeping people in their houses, not having people homeless, trying to cut back on couch-surfing and ensuring everybody has a bed. The amendment proposes taking a practical step in this direction and I hope it gains cross-party support. I also hope the Fianna Fáil Party will find its conscience and support other positive amendments the Opposition will put forward, rather than finding in favour of unscrupulous landlords and vulture funds. Sinn Féin supports the amendment.

On Committee Stage, I pointed out that we have been caught in this position because receivers are obliged, when they take possession of an asset, to maximise its value for the person who appoints the receiver. I recently came across a case involving an excellent landlord who got into difficulty. He kept the rent for a group of people I know at the same level for the best part of seven years.

He is a decent man trying to run a business. Given that he had overstretched himself with a couple of other apartments and had lost tenants, he suddenly found himself in a situation in which there was a repossession order on the lot. He agreed to allow the business to go into receivership and the receiver decided vacant possession was the only way. This resulted in seven families being given their marching orders. That is wrong.

The mistake we made when we bailed out the banks was that we did not force them, where they were taking back buy-to-let properties on which the landlords were unable to meet the costs, to establish letting agencies and run the tenancies themselves. If we had, we might not have the homeless problem and rental escalation we have today. That is spilt milk and there is very little we can do about it. While I am open to what the Minister of State has to say about amendment No. 33, I am inclined to support it.

What is to stop a landlord collusively agreeing to appoint a receiver in order to throw out the tenants and get a better price at any stage? Is there anything in the law that stops it? I do not think there is. One can run up a debt, sign a debenture and have a receiver in any day of the week. One does not have to go to court to have a receiver appointed. There is some force in the argument that a landlord who appoints a receiver should not be in a radically different position from a landlord who may need the money just as badly for other reasons but has not got a receiver to collect the money on his or her behalf. I would like the Minister of State to explain why a receiver has so much more power than a landlord who might just as urgently want to sell the property but who gets no facility similar to that of the receiver.

I suspect that a man in the Senator's position would not ask the question if he did not know the answer. There is no law to prevent it happening. There is a mistake being made here in that people think a receiver can walk in and turf the tenants out. They cannot. The tenants' rights, obligations and security of tenure do not change if a receiver takes over their homes. There are other issues regarding deposits, etc. That is a different story. A perception has been given here and on Committee Stage that if a receiver takes over, the tenant's security is diminished. It is not. There is an obligation, and it does not change. It is based on the length of time a tenant has been renting and occupying a property. This does not mean a receiver will not try to evict tenants. However, legally the receiver cannot. Tenants are entitled to their security of tenure, be it four, six or, in some cases, nine months. It is the law and I have seen it in practice.

We are examining the other issues, including deposits, in the rental strategy. While I do not want to disappoint Senator Alice-Mary Higgins, some of the changes she wants are premature, given that the rental strategy is due to be published within a couple of weeks. The legislation will not be finished before the rental strategy is published, that much I can promise. If any changes need to be reflected in the legislation to speed up the protection, we will do it. Many of the issues the Senator has raised here will be addressed in the rental strategy.

Security of tenure is not affected. A receiver does not have any more rights to make people sell their properties or evict them. Tenants have rights under the Residential Tenancies Act, and that is the bottom line. There is an issue to find solutions to encumbered buy-to-let properties. It is an important focus of the strategy and we are examining the possibility of four amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act which could help bring greater clarity to the area and benefit tenants and receivers alike. I accept that appointing a receiver can cause people concern. There are interpretations and confusion, and it causes distress. However, the statutory or contractual rights of tenants under the Residential Tenancies Act do not change. It is affecting people's decisions regarding how they will vote in this debate.

The reason we are reluctant to make other changes before the rental strategy is published, although Senators may raise relevant issues, is that the interplay between the receivership laws and the Residential Tenancies Act is very complex and it is imperative we do not make any amendments that make matters worse or lead to legal uncertainty. It would not help anybody, tenants, receivers or landlords. I am not just being awkward. There is a concern and it is a very complex area of law. We are developing the rental strategy and everything is being examined. We will make relevant changes, if need be. Although Senator Alice-Mary Higgins does not say it, others speaking on her amendment keep saying people can be turfed out at a day's notice. It is not the case. Tenants have rights, and in some cases they may need to be given nine months notice. A receiver cannot change this.

I refer to some information from Threshold's pre-budget submission to the Department on the issue. It states:

In the case of repossession, tenants cannot refer a dispute to the Residential Tenancies Board for resolution, [which obviously puts them further on the back foot] as a lender will not generally be regarded as a party to the tenancy (Residential Tenancies Act 2004, s. 76). Their landlord will not be held liable for terminating the tenancy without the requisite written notice, as it will be the lender rather than the landlord that is effecting the termination. This means that tenants in mortgaged properties can be evicted without any means of redress.

Threshold believes that a simple amendment to the definition of "landlord" in the Residential Tenancies Act 2004, so as to explicitly include both receivers and lenders, would introduce a welcome degree of certainty for landlords, tenants, financial institutions and receivers. It would impose a requirement on a lender that has commenced repossession proceedings to terminate a tenancy in the manner provided for by the Residential Tenancies Act 2004. It would also impose a responsibility for repairs and the return of the tenant’s deposit upon the expiry of the tenancy.

In addition to this legislative change, Threshold is seeking the introduction of a code of conduct on buy-to-let mortgage arrears.

I have read the Threshold submission and it has been well investigated as part of the rental strategy. We have received the same submission a couple of times. It is a very strong submission. I am not saying we are not prepared to take on board some of Threshold's changes. We will make some changes through the rental strategy. The legislation is complex and we want to ensure we get it right if we make changes. The Senator mentioned repossession. There is a difference between a repossession order and a receiver. This week, I dealt with a case in which a house had been repossessed. The judge ensured notice was given to the tenant. The law protects the tenant. Tenants must have a minimum notice period, whether or not there is a receiver. While I accept that some will try it, the law is not on their side but on the tenant's side.

Trust me, the rental strategy that is coming forward will provide clarity on many of these matters. The Senators are raising other issues of concern that genuinely need to be addressed. They are different from this case of tenants being turfed out or obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act being changed. They do not change.

Given that we feel Fianna Fáil might have the numbers for its amendment, which we will support, we will withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 33, after line 34, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 19 (setting of rent above market rent prohibited) of Act of 2004

27. The Act of 2004 is amended by the insertion of the following new section after section 19:

“19A.(1) Any subsequent increases in the level of rent under the tenancy of a dwelling shall not be greater than the rate of inflation, as provided for by the Consumer Price Index as issued by the Central Statistics Office.

(2) The provision outlined in subsection (1) will remain in effect until 31 December 2019 at which point the Minister may by order extend the specified period which this section will continue to apply.”.”.

My contribution is mostly on behalf of Senator Colette Kelleher, who cannot be here. We met earlier to discuss the amount of work and research she has put in, especially regarding Threshold's submission.

I wish to speak about the need for rent certainty across the State. According to the Private Residential Tenancies Board, over 704,000 people are in registered residential tenancies, while an unknown number are in unregistered residential tenancies, all of whom are affected by rent increases. Many renters wait anxiously for the dreaded call from a landlord demanding a rent increase. For some, it will mean cutting back on basic necessities, while for others, it will mean moving across the city or county in search of cheaper rent. For some children, it will mean leaving school friends behind. For a few, the call will be the beginning of a spiral into long-term homelessness. We know that the housing market is broken and we all have to accept that it needs interventions, with a major focus on hosing supply. Rebuilding Ireland is ambitious and commendable, but without solid rent certainty, that policy is and will be undermined.

According to the Private Residential Tenancies Board, private rents rose by nearly 10% across the country in the second quarter of 2016 when compared with 2015. These statistics are compiled by the ESRI and this is the most accurate and authoritative rent report of its kind on private accommodation. The consumer price index compiled by the CSO shows that in the same period across the economy prices rose by only 0.4%. An increase in rents of 10%, while prices in other areas of the economy have increased by less than 1%, proves that rents are out of control and that urgent action is required. We need to do all we can to stop rents from spiralling, end the fear and uncertainty and ensure people can afford to stay in their homes. Last year a staggering 345 people slept rough on the streets of Cork. I should really have said that in a Cork accent, as I am sure Senator Colette Kelleher would appreciate it.

We thought the Senator did.

That is almost ten times the number in 2011 when Fine Gael took office. If the crisis is not resolved soon, we should not be surprised if the rental crisis becomes the new Irish Water.

I have listened to the contributions of the Minister of State and various other Senators and accept that the issue of rent certainty is complex. Since Committee Stage I have examined it in more detail and I am impressed by the well developed and extensive proposal for the introduction of rent certainty drawn up by Threshold, the national housing charity, which includes, as per the amendment, linking rents with the consumer price index, on which it expands. It notes that the current rent regulatory measures provided for under the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 do not protect landlords or tenants from rapid increases or decreases in market rent levels, thereby exposing tenants to the risk of homelessness and landlords to uncertainty in their rental income. According to Threshold, there is no obstacle, either under the Constitution or the European Convention on Human Rights, to the introduction of rent certainty measures, provided such measures amount to a proportionate interference with the exercise by landlords of their property rights.

Threshold's proposal reads:

Rent certainty measures may be introduced by amending the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 to provide for:

- the insertion of definitions of ‘rent’, ‘lawful rent’, ‘reference rent’, and ‘deposit’;

- the creation and publication of an index of reference rents by the Private Residential Tenancies Board, drawn from the existing register of tenancies, whereby landlords and tenants may determine the average market rent for comparable properties in similar locations over the preceding four year period;

- the setting of initial rents at the market level for comparable properties in similar locations;

- the making of regulations by the Minister ... whereby initial rents in areas with high levels of demand and low levels of supply may be determined by means of the index of reference rents;

- the determination of the rate of increase in rent during the lifetime of a tenancy with reference to the annual percentage change in the consumer price index...

Threshold's proposal obviously covers much more and I accept that we need to get the rent certainty mechanism right. I am willing not to press the amendment if the Minister of State commits to including Threshold's proposal in the upcoming rental strategy. I believe Senator Colette Kelleher gave him a copy and I am sure he has read it inside out. Action on this issue cannot wait. We know that from Sunday, 4 December, for some, the two-year rent freeze will start to end. Rebuilding Ireland promised a rental strategy by the end of the fourth quarter, which is only four weeks away. I urge the Minister of State to incorporate this detailed proposal from Threshold in the rental strategy that is needed without delay.

I second the amendment.

We have heard about the hundreds of thousands of people who are renting and vulnerable to rent increases that are completely out of sight. On Committee Stage we heard stories about many good landlords and there are good landlords. However, for every good landlord who did not increase rent or increased it by only a small amount, there are others who are increasing it by vast amounts because the average annual increase in rent - the factual figures do not lie - is almost 12%, which is absolutely out of line with increases in any other area of the economy. It is certainly out of line with the meagre increase in the minimum wage. We need some mechanism to put a brake on it. While the average increase is 11.7%, we know of areas where it is 15%. We have all heard the anecdotal evidence that it is as high as 19% and 20%, even though some choose to increase it incrementally by 1% or 2%.

There has been a vast increase in the numbers of landlords. On Committee Stage the Minister spoke about his fear that if the reasonable parameter we were proposing was implemented in the rental market, people might leave it. I do not believe that would be the case. Those who are serious about being landlords are able to manage a predictable and manageable increase such as the structured increase we have proposed. We still await the Minister's proposals. The more detailed and nuanced proposals from Threshold have provided a rental strategy for him in terms of predictable rent increases. In the interim, people cannot be held hostage to out-of-sight rental increases, with no brake on the level of profit that might be sought. There is no mortgage on approximately 50% to 60% of houses being rented, which means that the rental income is straight profit for the landlords. Such figures are not reflected anywhere else in Europe. On Committee Stage we pointed out that larger-scale landlords had said they had never seen such increases anywhere. This is an emergency measure.

As the Minister has promised to address this issue in the rental strategy, we have not resubmitted all of our amendments; we have only resubmitted one amendment in this area. The amendment is very reasonable in that it does not seek to anticipate the outcome of the Minister's rental or tenancy strategy. Instead it proposes an interim emergency measure up to 31 December 2019, a date which has been designed to mirror the emergency measures the Minister has introduced in respect of planning. He has acknowledged the lack of supply and believes supply will not be adequate until December 2019, hence emergency measures must be taken in planning. While there is such a deficiency in supply, we should not see a huge imbalance, a dangerous distortion of the market in rent increases. Those who increased rents by 12% in the past year have taken three or four years' rent increases. Therefore, we are asking the Minister to introduce this measure which would ensure already high rents would not be increased by more than the rate of inflation for the next three years while he addressed the supply problem and introduced a more substantial, detailed rental strategy. We ask the Minister to accept this emergency measure. Even if he wishes to take a different and more nuanced approach in the long term to address the issue of rent predictability, we ask that he accept this as a necessary interim measure.

This is a very important amendment. We fully support it and I would go so far as to say that I hope the Independent Senators push the amendment because if they do not, we will push it to a vote. When legislation is brought before us in these Houses, it is our chance to effect change. If we do not do that, we are not fulfilling the mandate we have as elected representatives to represent those people who raise issues with us. This is about the crux of rent certainty. We have heard much hand wringing about rent certainty. On Committee Stage, Fianna Fáil said that it expected amendments to come from Government around rent certainty but I do not see any Government amendment around rent certainty here. I maintain that it is an ideological issue and that Fine Gael is opposed to rent certainty. I do not know where Fianna Fáil stands on it because it says one thing and votes a different way so we need it to vote in favour of rent certainty in respect of this amendment. The ideology around rent certainty is Thatcherite-Reaganite free-market economics that says we cannot interfere with the market, which must be allowed to do its thing. It was very strange that when we were bailing out banks, we were able to intervene in the market. Free market and liberal policies were not allowed to play out in that scenario. We had to bail out the banks and we know how much that has cost us.

If the Minister of State was a car salesman, he would be asking us to buy a car that he will have in a few weeks' time. We do not know what colour, make or year it is and we do not know what we are going to be buying. A strategy such as a rental strategy does not necessarily have to be voted on in these Houses. We only have power regarding legislation so we can only effect change to legislation. A strategy is merely a strategy. A Minister and a Government can bring it in and we have very little control over what is or is not in it. I do not believe we will have the type of rent certainty Threshold and the Independent Senators have advocated for. I do not believe we will see it in the Minister's strategy. We do not want to buy a pig in a poke. If that is to be the situation, the Minister of State should tell us now and we can have a proper and decent vote on the amendment and know exactly where people stand.

This is the fourth time we have given Fianna Fáil the opportunity to get off the fence on this issue. We have seen a rent certainty Bill that was put through the Dáil in the summer. We brought the rent certainty Bill to the Seanad. We voted on rent certainty last week. Fianna Fáil hummed and hawed on it and now needs to get off the fence on the issue of rent certainty. If it is going to vote for rent certainty and tell people it is in favour of it, it needs to vote in favour of this amendment. That is the bottom line.

The rent certainty Bill we wanted to introduce would have linked rent reviews to the consumer price index, as is being called for here. It would have provided that stability that is needed in the private rental sector for landlords and tenants so that people could plan their finances. The situation I see in Galway is dire. In the past year, we have seen rent increases of 13% in the city. We have not seen a 13% increase in social welfare payments or wages. We have seen other costs of living going up. This is why something like rent certainty is crucial for the people I represent. Families facing rent reviews in the coming months might see their rent increase by between 10% to 20%. It is not out of the realms of possibility. We are seeing significant issues where vulture funds are coming in. I have been told that there is a new phenomenon when houses come on to the market. These guys in very slick suits come in. They are the people representing the vulture funds because they are buying up properties as investment properties. Many of those investment properties are being rented out at a very high price to people who can pay a lot more or are being used for something like Airbnb where there is a larger turnover and the return on investment is much higher. This all puts more pressure on tenants.

It also puts pressure on the Government and local authorities when it coming to paying rental accommodation scheme, RAS, payments or housing assistance payments, HAP. We might as well admit that even though there were meagre increases to HAP and RAS, they are nowhere near what the market rents are in most of the areas we are talking about. There are some scenarios where extra payments are made to keep people in their houses but in a general sense, RAS and HAP levels are under rental prices. We know that there are still situations where people have to top up those payments and pay landlords extra money to stay in their houses. They do not have any other choice to do that. It is not as if they have a free market so they can go out and find a house somewhere else. They cannot pitch landlords against each other. I spoke to some students during the week. When houses are being rented to students, there are queues of up to 60 or 70 people so the landlord can pick and choose whoever he or she wants.

This is what rent certainty would try to combat. I am really disappointed that both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil previously voted against these measures. I think it is an ideological issue. I will not argue with the Minister of State about it. Ideology and politics are what we do in these Houses. We believe in one way of running the country while the Minister of State believes in a different way. I believe he has a fundamental liberal marketeer attitude. Will he tell us straight out whether he believes rent certainty will be in the strategy because that is what we are voting on here tonight? He should not ask us to buy a pig in a poke or tell us it is coming in the future because this is where we are right now. It is a hugely important issue and I hope Fianna Fáil will come around and vote in favour of this amendment. I hope the Independent Senators will push this amendment because, if not, on a point of principle, we will push for a vote on it.

The issue around the private rented sector was not caused by tenants. It was caused by a failure of regulation, the banking crisis, vulture funds, etc., but tenants are the ones paying the price. All we are asking for is for Senators here tonight to take one very small step for those people in private rented accommodation and give them more security to let them plan for the coming years what their income will be and how much of an outlay they will have and know that it will only go up or down by a certain amount and within certain parameters. That is all we are asking for. The Minister of State needs to take this on board. It is already on board in countries like Sweden, Denmark, Germany and France. There is a form of rent certainty with the setting of differential rents. Rent certainty is more flexible in nature and allows for rent increases or decreases in line with inflation. I hope Senator Davitt, who has great experience in this area and property, in particular, would like more stability in the market rather than spikes up and down in the housing market so that he could plan better-----

That is why we have a Bill coming.

We have a Bill coming. We will probably have an election coming as well.

Could we stay on the matter?

It is very important we support this amendment.

We need to clarify something. Fianna Fáil proposes an overall reform package to deal with rental inflation and increase the supply of affordable rental properties. The package proposes regulations to reduce excessive rent inflation and increase security of occupancy for tenants coupled with a range of incentives to expand the supply of rental properties. Incentives to increase supply include cheap financing for new build-to-rent units, incentives for landlords to maintain long-term leases, an empty property refurbishment grant to return some of the 260,000 vacant properties nationwide to the market and assistance for involuntary landlords in negative equity. We also propose more favourable tax treatment of rental income and measures to enhance the supply of affordable rental accommodation. If implemented, these proposals would bring some stability to the rental market.

We are all here because we all want rent certainty. One cannot compare Dublin, Cork and Limerick to the likes of my own area of Carlow, a rural town where one would rent a house for €800. One cannot compare that to cities. We must make sure there is a balance for everybody. We need to work together in the long term. We need rent certainty and Fianna Fáil is putting in a Bill-----

Now is its chance.

We have and we are working on it. We will have a submission going into the Dáil for some of the incentives here relating to tax treatment and all the different things we will work on. It is not as easy as Sinn Féin makes out. One cannot compare different areas. I deal with homelessness every day in clinics. I hear what Sinn Féin is saying but I know that a balance can be found and Fianna Fáil will be working on it.

I welcome the Minister of State. On the proposal on rent certainty, it is very unwise to tie anything to the rate of inflation. It is fine when the rate is as it is currently, showing very little increase. What if there is a sudden increase of 10% to 12%, which happened in this country previously? Do we then rush in to amend legislation the following day?

What is the Government going to do to stop that happening?

I did not interrupt the Senator so he should have the courtesy not to interrupt me.

Do we rush in to amend legislation to take out this proposed clause? That is why I am totally against it. I agree, however, that we need rent certainty. This has to be planned over a period.

Having been involved in the legal profession for over 25 years, I note that a person who is renting a commercial property can get a 20-year lease and five-year rent reviews, while all the internal work in the property is done by oneself. I refer to the provision of furniture, carpets and fittings, for example. We need to start moving in that direction in this country. I am not saying we are ready for it yet. It can be done over a gradual period. In Germany, for example, the landlord is not responsible for any of the fitting, be it of kitchens, bathrooms or otherwise, but he or she is still getting a return of 8% on the investment. The tenants have a quite low rent.

We still have a basic problem in this country, namely, the cost of building. We do not seem to have been able to deal with that . Why does it cost a lot more money to build in this country than in other jurisdictions? That is one of the issues we need to deal with.

We have a big problem in that there is a large cohort earning over €35,000 per annum but who will not qualify for a local authority house. At the same time, they will not be able to borrow, especially if living in an urban centre. This is a major problem, especially for the age group between 28 and 45, who lost out over the past ten years. For the foreseeable future or rest of their lives, they will be living in rented property. I am particularly concerned about people with young families. I came across a case in which a family with four children was suddenly asked to vacate but they could not find a property in the location in which they were living. Trying to move children to another primary school is difficult, especially if one's lease expires at the end of the year. Trying to move children to a new school in January or February because one cannot get accommodation where one was living is a big problem with which we must deal. We must be comprehensive in the way we deal with it. The approach will have to evolve over a period but we need to start planning now. This amendment will not do anything to stabilise rents.

We must determine how to keep people who are providing property in the market. Every day of the week I come across more and more people who bought property ten or 15 years ago and who were able to manage it during the downturn but who now want to get out of the market. They are going to wait another 12 months to two years, perhaps, before getting out. From 2008 to 2008, property was regarded as one's pension policy. People have now learned all of a sudden that if one wants to have this type of pension policy, there is a lot of work involved, including maintenance and responding to the requirements of tenants. We need a better way of thinking, from the perspectives of both the landlord and tenant, about individual responsibilities. I certainly do not believe this amendment will do anything to stabilise the rental market.

I wish to add to the remarks of my colleague, Senator Colm Burke. Many Senators have raised the concerns over increasing rents but one has to look at this in the context of the overall property and construction market, which has now been dysfunctional for some time. I heard Sinn Féin representing landlords last year as multimillionaires. Some of them may be millionaires but many of them are colleagues of ours, and probably colleagues of Sinn Féin Members. They include teachers, doctors and nurses who did not intend to become landlords in the longer term but who bought into the property market when prices were high and subsequently rented. When the crash came, they found themselves in serious difficulty with their mortgages and in terms of maintaining their properties to the required standard. There is the added difficulty of negative equity. In recent years there were lower rents because the rental sector crashed in addition to the property sector.

As the economy recovers, we will see a recovery in the rental income on some properties. People are rightly talking about the increases but are they actually talking about sustainability in the rental sector? If the sector is not sustainable, people will exit. The last thing we want before construction returns to any normal level is the smaller landlords exiting the property sector. If they do so, the houses will go up for sale and will be bought, with the result that the tenants we all want to assist will have a considerable challenge in finding an alternative property. While the intention of the amendment might be positive and good, there are concerns that if we interfere with the market, landlords will exit. Subsequently, that will have an impact on tenants.

There is existing legislation allowing that if somebody increases the rent, he can do so only at the current market rate. If he goes beyond that, there is a right of appeal for tenants through the Residential Tenancies Board. The rent is retained at the lower level until there is a final independent determination. On top of this, there are also measures for tenancy sustainment where people are under pressure. Some people mentioned the housing assistance payment and other Government initiatives. If there is a particular case where the housing assistance subsidy is not high enough, there is a facility for increasing it on a case-by-case basis. That has been done in thousands of cases around the country. It is not true to say that tenants are being left in the lurch. The Government is doing all in its power, with the levers available to it, until the property sector normalises.

The Government has had an independent analysis of the property sector that took into account rent certainty. This constitutes independent advice. If we interfered with the market, we could seriously run the risk of having a lot of landlords exit, with the unintended consequence that tenants would be without a home.

I am voicing concerns on behalf of people who are our neighbours and friends, and they are landlords. We need to be very careful in any interventions we are making. I welcome the fact that the Minister of State has outlined that a new rental strategy will be announced in the coming weeks. I believe there will be measures in the strategy to enhance tenancy sustainment. That should be supported. I, for one, am prepared to await the new strategy. We should all get behind it to try to help those who are in difficulty. There is a challenge and, until the supply increases through construction, it will undoubtedly remain. Let us all work together to try to ease the pressure on the tenants to whom I refer.

Here we are again. Senator Coffey said tenants are not being left in the lurch. Eighty-five people came into our Limerick Sinn Féin office last week, over 70 of whom came in regarding housing. The biggest housing issue in Limerick is hikes in rent. I accept it may be different in Mullingar, in fairness to Senator Davitt. The hike is close to 10% in Limerick and 13% in Galway, yet Senator Coffey says tenants are not being left in the lurch. If they are not being left in the lurch, why are the constituents coming into our office? Are they making it up? Are they coming in with fairytales? Senator Maria Byrne, whom I respect, will know the circumstances in Limerick as much as I do.

There is a crisis in housing in Limerick. There is a crisis for tenants in Limerick. Yes, they are being left in the lurch. The Government has an opportunity to do something about it but there is a problem. I recommend everyone to read a very good book called Sins of the Father that was written by Conor McCabe as it details the history of housing in this country. The certain fact is that the best way to predict the future is to look at past performance. The past performance of Fine Gael in respect of tenants' rights is nothing less than abysmal.

That is not true.

Tenants' rights were enhanced by the last Government. Senator Gavan has made an incorrect statement.

This evening Fine Gael has told us it will come up with a strategy.

That is not true.

Week after week Fine Gael says it is coming up with a strategy that amounts to a pig in a poke. One thing that the Minister of State and his colleague, the Minister, have not said at any point is that they will legislate for rent certainty. It is generous of our colleagues in civic engagement to say if we give that commitment then they will work with us.

One would have a worse housing crisis the following day.

According to the landlord party, and I got stick last week----

Through the Chair, please. I do not want interaction across the floor.

It is the landlords who are to blame.

We will see how many Senators are here at 1 a.m.

Fair play to the Cathaoirleach.

In fairness, Senator Coffey has also said that we know of colleagues in this situation. Let us address the elephant in the room. One in four Members of the Oireachtas is a landlord and I want to put on the record that it is a factor here. Landlords will not vote for measures that will impact on them. Frankly, there are too few people from a working class background in these institutions and too many landlords.

We know there is a crisis. Anyone who holds a constituency clinic knows there is a crisis, and I accept what Senator Murnane O'Connor has said, yet here is the Minister of State again. As my colleague has said, this is the fourth occasion to debate the matter. It is an opportunity for the Minister of State to do something about rent certainty. We have recommended a civic engagement measure but once again the Government will turn it down.

I acknowledge that some landlords are struggling. By way of solution the Government should tackle the banks that are still trying to cripple landlords who are in debt. Again, the Government has done nothing about the matter.

We could see the State intervene and buy some of the houses. That policy could be enacted but there is no word of doing so. As my colleague, Senator Ó Clochartaigh, correctly pointed out, there is an ideological problem with the State buying houses and a mindset of leaving it to the markets and landlords as God forbid that the State should become involved in buying houses. Housing has gone wrong because we have a homelessness crisis.

The State has bought houses.

Tonight there are homeless people sleeping rough on the streets of Dublin. There are homeless people in Limerick and that is a new factor. The problem did not exist five or six years ago but it is now commonplace in Limerick city. Yet Senator Coffey has said that tenants are not being left in the lurch.

The State has bought houses.

We have the worst homelessness crisis in the history of the State.

The statements that the Senator has put on record are incorrect.

The Senator has said that landlords are not being left in the lurch.

The State has bought houses.

I am sure that the people of Waterford will be very interested to hear what the Senator has said.

Local authorities and voluntary housing bodies have bought houses.

I am sure that the people of Waterford who decided not to elect the Senator the last time will be interested to hear what he has said.

I had 7,500 votes all the same.

Tenants are not being left in the lurch. We know better. It is shameful what Fine Gael-----

The statements that the Senator has put on record are incorrect. The State has bought houses.

Fine Gael has an opportunity to do something for tenants. Rather than talk about it I suggest Fine Gael does something positive. We are here to legislate. We have an excellent proposal for civic engagement that Fine Gael will not back.

I am disappointed with Fianna Fáil. I accept the bona fides of my colleagues here. They want to do something but there is a problem. I do not know whether it is the deal the party has with the Government or there has been a genuine mishap. This is the fourth occasion on which Fianna Fáil will vote down rent certainty. Again, it is the wrong decision and lets down the very people who are in crisis. I would like to hear a little less about landlords in crisis and a little more about the real people who are in crisis. I refer to the people who have been made homeless and the people who I met last week who will be homeless by Christmas with three children under the age of ten. The tenants are not being left in the lurch. What a statement to make.

While passions are growing strong on this debate we should remember a few things. First, it is the case that some tenants are being gouged by excessive rent increases. The people who are riding the crest of a wave of a shortage are exploiting other people to provide them with housing. I look forward to hearing what the Government will do about the matter. I listened with interest to what was said by Fianna Fáil Senators about their plans to address it.

We are not in the simple binary situation suggested by Senator Gavan of either one does this or one does nothing. That is not the policy choice that is before us. We live in a world where the rate of inflation, due to international austerity and banking policies laid down by the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, is going to be between zero and 2% indefinitely as far as I can see. Senator Colm Burke referred to a period when inflation was at 10% and 12%. I cannot imagine, as long as we are members of the euro, that this will happen again. If that is the case then the Senators, with their rent certainty or CPI-related proposal, are advocating a situation where rent is completely taken out of the market sector and made into something equivalent to a static value of money. That is what CPI is about. The proposal will mean that properties will be available in five years' time for the same real amount as they are today. That proposal has been dressed up with the phrase "rent certainty". It is not rent certainty but a rent freeze. If the Senators are proposing a rent freeze, subject to the real value or purchasing power remaining the same, then as far as the property market is concerned in future there will be a permanent rent freeze in Ireland that has been dressed up as a rent certainty proposal.

If it had been suggested here that 3%, 5% or 7% was a figure over which there should be an excess profits tax or something like that then I can see somebody saying this represents a measure of social justice. To describe a permanent rent freeze as rent certainty is codding oneself.

Senator Gavan is full of genuine passion because he has seen people at the wrong end of the housing shortage who have suffered as a consequence. I fully accept his bona fides in respect of that situation. When one legislates for a market situation please let us remember one thing. Let us examine all of the consequences of a proposal.

Senator Coffey has made a point that I think is unanswerable. That may be offensive for some people to hear but it is unanswerable. If one effectively institutes a permanent rent freeze, subject to CPI, there will be consequences for those who would otherwise invest in properties for others to live in. There will be consequences for those who have such investments now as to how they treat them in the future.

The Cathaoirleach and I are long enough in the tooth to remember when there was rent control in this country. In those days there was a differentiation between furnished and unfurnished accommodation. It was interesting to hear what was said about Germany. In some places in Germany the landlord provides the shell of the building and the tenant, thereafter, is responsible for everything apart from the basic structure of the building. Installing washing machines, erecting beds, hanging curtains and laying carpets falls to the tenant. We have had that differentiation before. If one wanted to escape rent control in the days of rent controlled accommodation then one had to let one's house or flat furnished. The Rent Restrictions Act was very clear about what was and was not a furnished flat.

However, it should be remembered that if one says one will have it CPI related, meaning the real value of the rental property will never change over a period of five, ten or 15 years, one should ask oneself who will pay for the new carpets and curtains. Who will pay for the washing machine or cooker when it goes wrong and the new television when the old one is antiquated? Who will do all that sort of stuff? Who will buy a new sofa and repair the kitchen chairs when they break in this system? No one seems to be addressing this issue and no one is asking what are a landlord's obligations, but it goes further than that.

There are people who bring their savings to the post office to get whatever the best rate is on deposits. It may be 2% or 3%. I do not know what rate is available, but I presume it is in that territory these days. Most people who are investing in rental accommodation are looking for a return of 5% or 6% per annum. That is the return most people actually have in mind. If they get up to 10%, they will say it is a really good investment. If a property rental roll was yielding 10%, there are certain people who have plenty of money who would just pour it into that property to get that kind of return. However, the important point is that if one is going to invest one's pension pot in bonds or savings schemes in local authorities or in some fund operated by an international financier, one is going to expect a return of 2% , 3% or 4% per annum. If one is willing to take the risk of being a landlord, one will require more than this. They are not the same thing. There is a risk in being a landlord. One has a problem if the roof falls off one's property. One has a problem if the tenants become insolvent or the place will be vacant for a while. These are risks that must be remunerated. To say the rate of return on properties is frozen by reference to the consumer price index is simply to turn off the remuneration associated with that risk.

I see a considerable moral force in saying one cannot gouge people for increased rent when there is an acute housing shortage. I can see the strong force in that argument, but, equally, what is being proposed fails to learn the lessons of history. It will involve a flight of capital from the rented sector, an exit of money, landlords and the like. They will ask why they should bother being stuck with a poor investment when they can get a return of 2% or 3% simply by placing it in an investment fund. These are the choices they make. They are not the plutocratic rich. They are people who, as has been pointed out, find themselves as accidental landlords. They include married couples who used to have two apartments with a mortgage but who have moved into one or who sold one to buy a family home and ended up with one on their hands, sometimes leaving them in negative equity. These are real situations. Those which involve vulture funds are not the norm in Ireland. It is not the case that if one goes around a rural town, one will find vulture funds rushing in to buy up all houses for letting. It is usually individuals who own these properties, including farmers and shopkeepers and members of Sinn Féin, not members of the grand classes in our society.

All of these proposals on so-called rent certainty which is not rent certainty but rent freezing will be counterproductive. If we enact them, we will find in two years time that there is less property available for rent. People will walk away from the rental market because it will simply not be worth their while to participate in it. If the ideologues who have decided to link with the consumer price index and freeze the real value of rents indefinitely have their way on one night in the Oireachtas, the result will be a trickle which will grow to be a stream of money leaving private provision of rented property. The money will go to other places where the law is more remunerative. I remind the House that some genius in Dublin City Council decided a number of years ago, for the very best of reasons, to get rid of bedsit accommodation. That genius said it was no longer acceptable in the early 21st century for people to share a bathroom. Any accommodation let out on that basis would be illegal from a certain date. I often wonder about this because now one has the phenomenon of a group of people renting a house and sharing a bathroom, but it was decided that the idea that they could all have their own separate rooms and share a bathroom was no longer acceptable. As a result, between 10,000 and 12,000 housing units were taken out of the market. Whole houses were emptied of their tenants at a time when there was an impending housing crisis. The only reason I mention this is that I have no doubt that the person who came up with that policy thought as passionately as Senator Paul Gavan that he was going to improve the living conditions of people who had the least in our society. The result was that he drove them out of their accommodation and exacerbated an emerging crisis.

Let us look at the consequences of linking a rent freeze with the CPI. If people really believe the consequence of that policy will be less capital being invested in providing homes for others, be it by small or big landlords, let them not make that mistake. This country has made many mistakes. The mere fact that one is well intentioned and passionate about the justice in one's case does not excuse one from the responsibility to look around the corner to see what market there will be in two years time if a rent freeze is introduced. For the foregoing reasons, I am opposed to the proposal. I fully accept that there are issues of social justice at stake, but nobody who proposes a rent freeze will stand up in two or three years and say, " I am sorry; I got it wrong. I drove out landlords and made fewer properties available for people to rent. I did not realise it at the time. I was blinded by the immediate injustice in people being gouged by a small minority of landlords and made a mistake." Apologies will not do. We have a responsibility to get our policies right and look at the consequences of the changes we are proposing. Freezing rents by reference to the CPI, even temporarily, although the small print indicates that this is not a temporary arrangement, will be counterproductive and have the effect of reducing, rather than increasing, the number of properties available to rent. Everybody who spoke this morning and this evening in the House has said supply is the issue. Please, do not turn it off.

I clarify that Fianna Fáil is committed to providing for rent certainty. We are bringing forward a comprehensive Bill as outlined by our spokesperson, Senator Jennifer Murnane O'Connor. While there is merit in what Sinn Féin proposes, the mechanics and fundamentals of some of the points made will not stack up.

The fundamental principle of supply and demand is where this issue lies. We have a problem because we have little supply. We know the reasons - increased building costs and increased regulation. There will be much more of the latter if this amendment passes. Other reasons include dezoning, the spatial strategy and the pre-1963 housing alluded to by Senator McDowell.

As I told the Minister of State's ministerial compatriot, Deputy Coveney, when he was present, this is down to the cost of building. The Government's Front Bench has told him. Prior to each of the past two budgets, I made submissions regarding building costs. We introduced a good measure and changed the VAT rate for the tourism and hotel sectors. As a result, they have flourished. That has been one of the great successes of Fine Gael's tenure in office. We are a long way off discussing developments of more than 100 units, but if anything comes of this debate, the Government needs to consider the VAT component of building costs. We are tinkering with everything - the Governor of the Central Bank, Dr. Philip Lane, has moved from 20% to 10% and there is also the new grant to help first-time buyers - except the logical element, namely, reducing the cost of building. If it reduces, supply will increase, which will solve many problems. It will certainly stabilise or reduce rents. It is a numbers game, and costs will keep increasing if the numbers are short.

Senator Gavan made a good point. He referred to 70 people from Limerick who had presented to him. He is a hard-working Senator. Coming from Westmeath, he could be nothing else. How many of those are presenting for the first time, that is, people who are starting off in life and are approaching their council only to be told that it has nothing for them and they should present to the private sector, which is where the council is sourcing its own housing? Social housing building needs to be addressed. The Government is making inroads, but this will solve much of the problem.

Vulture funds have appointed receivers where people have gone bust, but the number of individuals entering the market as landlords is small. People are not jumping into the property market. We need not fool ourselves about the killing that is to be made. I do not know whether all of those Senators to whom I listened are aware, but if a landlord gets rent, he or she must pay tax on it. That is 40% for most people. Landlords must also pay USC. After all of that and whatever expenses they incur, they have lost up to 50%. If people believe that there is a pot of gold and everything goes into the landlord's back pocket, I wish that I could use that accountant. I could do with seeing him or her. The belief is not the reality.

I implore the Minister of State on the matter of building costs. We are tinkering around with schemes, but that is a load of rubbish. Helping with building costs will help everyone.

It is déjà vu. This sounds similar to a debate that we had previously. I will address a couple of issues.

Of us all, Senator McDowell summed it up best. This is about getting the balance right. If one or two changes are introduced without an overall package, there is a risk of affecting supply. The solution to all of our problems - social housing, private housing and the cost of rent - is supply. A package of €5.5 billion of taxpayers' money has been put in place to drive up the supply of social housing and return us to where we were ten years ago, increase the supply of private housing, address the costs of rent and supports, etc. There are many solutions to the crisis, but implementing this blunt instrument without proper mitigating measures to protect supply would actually endanger that supply. That is the fear. It is not down to ideology, but practical common sense. We can almost guarantee that supply will be affected. Even if we could say "might be", we would still be concerned.

Senator Ó Clochartaigh insisted that this was down to ideology, but it is not. I can be no clearer. We are a solutions-focused Government that is supported by most of the Dáil in tackling the housing crisis. We will do what needs to be done to address the issue of homelessness, the shortage and cost of housing, the cost of rent and so on.

This is about doing, and getting, the right thing, that being, the overall package. Senators referred to buying a car, a pig in a poke and so on. I told Senator Kelleher, one of the sponsors of this amendment, in conversation that we would introduce a package in a few weeks' time. It will be a full rental strategy. If Senators wish to revert to the car analogy, we will introduce a full car in a few weeks' time. Not a wheel of the car or just one part of it, but a full strategy that will balance the situation.

It is assumed that landlords and investors do not want certainty or predictability but that is untrue. The majority of people who invest money want reliability and certainty. They want to know what they are investing in. They are happy with an overall package, but they like predictability and reliability. We want investors. Even with the best will in the world, we cannot solve this crisis just by building taxpayers' houses, that is, social housing. We could not do it quickly enough even had we all of the money tomorrow. Some €5.5 billion has been allocated, but we need private sector investment, the existing accommodation and so on. All of the housing supply is needed to tackle the issue, which cannot be fixed overnight. There is a danger that, if we use the proposed blunt instrument, we will scare away investment.

Can anyone tell me how the amendment will increase the housing supply? If we all agree that increasing the supply is the solution to our problems, we must increase it, but this measure will not help. That is not to say that we will not introduce a package next week to deal with the various issues involved. We are committed to doing that. There will be a major focus on supply but the package will also include mechanisms for setting and reviewing rents. This legislation will not be finished before we introduce our strategy. It is a question of having a package that achieves a balance and does not affect one end of the market more than another. It is important that we get this right.

Many issues were raised about the cost of building. VAT is not the only solution. It only forms part of the cost. Site costs, levies and infrastructure are significant issues. We are analysing the cost of construction. Compared with the UK and the rest of Europe, our construction costs are not that much out of synch. Measures in the action plan will deal with the issues. There is more to building costs than VAT. It is not that I am against reducing the rate for housing, but we cannot guarantee that the reduction would be passed on to the purchaser. The help to buy scheme gives purchasers their own tax back. However, we will monitor the VAT situation. Everything is being considered to keep construction-----

The chance that the previous Government took with the hotel industry-----

-----has repaid fivefold.

It has paid off.

It is worth taking another chance on a six-month or one-year basis.

Allow the Minister of State to respond.

I agree that the VAT measure paid off, but the question is whether it is still needed in every part of the market. When one looks at the prices of hotel rooms in this city, one would question it. The change worked for a couple of years and we retained it because it helped to create jobs, but there are other ways to reduce the cost of a house. We are considering those, for example, funding infrastructure, reducing site costs and working on State-owned lands.

We will not accept this amendment because we will introduce proposals next week based on a full policy package. It would not be right of us to accept one or more amendments at this Stage without having our full policy worked out.

Again, everybody was involved in formulating that policy. There were submissions from all sides. Threshold, which I will meet next week, was involved so everybody has had a say in this. It is not tipped in anyone's favour. Our motive is to increase supply. Senator Ó Clochartaigh spoke about car sales. I am not asking him to buy a car.

They are buying a pig in a poke.

I am asking him to wait and see what is in next week's market and we will bring it forward.

A pig in a poke. Will it have rent certainty?

I did not interrupt Senator Ó Clochartaigh.

Allow the Minister of State to conclude.

I am not telling the Senator to wait and see the car next week. I am just telling him the way it is. We cannot tell him what our policy is until we have formulated it. It will be produced in the next few weeks and will dictate legislation that has to be implemented. If we can introduce it in time for this, we will bring forward changes. That is the truth. I am not asking the Senator to buy a car at all but this is not a full vehicle. It is part of one. It is one suggestion - one amendment - and on its own, will not achieve what the Senator genuinely wants it to achieve. It will not achieve that, which is the concern we have. For this reason, we will not be accepting this amendment.

I want to comment on a number of points. It is unacceptable for Bills to come through the House if they are not ready to be amended and we have to wait for a strategy to feed into them. It seems like a pointless exercise. It seems that it is being rushed through all Stages in the Seanad so that it will be too late for us to pick up on the things we want to amend, which removes the Seanad's scrutinising role and its ability to feed into policy. We are being asked to wait until a later date when we will have no input.

This amendment is not about supply. We support the legislation in respect of increasing supply. This amendment is about decreasing homelessness so to attach it to supply is not accurate. Senator McDowell gave an overview of the situation this amendment could bring about. I think this is also incorrect. Our amendment will cease to exist in December 2019 and the only way it will continue will be if the Minister extends it. This is an emergency measure for a short period of time, not something that will ensure stagnant rents forever more, as Senator McDowell argued, because it will cease in 2019, hopefully, when we have come out the other side of a housing emergency, which should declared a national emergency. Any sort of emergency strategy that is introduced should be supported. If something better arises out of the rental strategy, fair enough but in the interim, this amendment is too important for it not to be pressed at this stage.

There is another provision in the law, which is that rent cannot be higher than the market rate. This amendment will strengthen that. That means there will be two provisions in place to effectively decrease the level of homelessness in this country for the next number of years. I think Senator Colm Burke said that if inflation rose by 10% or 15%, rents would also rise. We are not attaching rents to inflation. We are saying that one cannot have rents that are higher than inflation. We are not suggesting that when inflation shoots up, rents shoot up with it. We are just saying that one cannot go higher than the rate of inflation. We will press this amendment.

Amendment put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 13; Níl, 24.

  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Devine, Máire.
  • Gavan, Paul.
  • Higgins, Alice-Mary.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • Ó Donnghaile, Niall.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Sullivan, Grace.
  • Ruane, Lynn.
  • Warfield, Fintan.

Níl

  • Ardagh, Catherine.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Maria.
  • Clifford-Lee, Lorraine.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Davitt, Aidan.
  • Gallagher, Robbie.
  • Hopkins, Maura.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Ó Céidigh, Pádraig.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Ned.
  • Reilly, James.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Alice-Mary Higgins and Lynn Ruane; Níl, Senators Gabrielle McFadden and Michelle Mulherin.
Amendment declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 14 to 32, inclusive, are related. Amendment No. 26 is a physical alternative to amendment No. 25. These amendments may be discussed together. Each amendment must be seconded.

I move amendment No. 14:

In page 34, between lines 3 and 4, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 28 of Act of 2004

28. The Act of 2004 is amended in section 28(2)(a) by the substitution of “for an indefinite period from” for “for the period of 4 years from”.”.

I would also like to speak on amendment Nos. 15 and 16. Amendment No. 15 states: "In page 34, to delete lines 4 to 6." Amendment No. 16 states:

In page 34, between lines 6 and 7, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 34 of Act of 2004

29. The Act of 2004 is amended in section 34 by the deletion of paragraph 3 of the Table.”.

I would also like to support amendment No. 17.

You do not have to read them all out. We understand that they are grouped. They are on the Order Paper.

I support amendments Nos. 17, 18 and 24.

I know that. You are grand. Is there a seconder for amendment No. 14?

I second the amendment.

Does the Minister of State wish to speak?

I would like to speak on amendment No. 25.

Do you want to speak on it now?

It is part of the grouping.

You can only speak once on the group.

I am speaking on amendment No. 25 which states: "In page 35, line 8, to delete “20 or more” and substitute “5 or more”". We welcome the so-called Tyrrelstown amendment in the Bill, which provides that where a landlord proposes to sell 20 or more units in a development within a six-month period, the sales will be conditional on existing tenants remaining other than in exceptional circumstances. However, we were worried that the figure of 20 units appears to be too many. The rationale behind the 20-unit provision is that such a large scale would have a significant impact on reducing the supply of the rental unit in the local market.

However, why should householders in large developments enjoy greater security of occupancy than other tenants? We believe there is an argument against completely getting rid of the option to sell as a reason for renting a tenancy. The criteria of 20 units could reasonably be reduced to a lower level of five units. This would offer more secure occupancy to a large number of tenants without having a detrimental impact on the market by preventing involuntary landlords from selling their properties.

We want the number of units involved to be reduced from 20 to five. In the long term, we also want to look after smaller landlords. In smaller areas, such as where I live in Carlow, and in other rural areas in Ireland there are smaller landlords. This amendment would include such landlords. I hope the Minister of State will address the amendment.

We have tabled a number of amendments to this section. Many deal with drafting and technical matters, but there are also a couple of key issues.

Senator Murnane O'Connor referred to the proposal that we reduce the number of units in the so-called Tyrrelstown amendment from 20 to five units or more. We know that 0.54% of landlords are covered by the current proposal of 20 units. The 20-unit provision that purports to deal with the situation in Tyrrelstown and other areas would not go very far as it only covers a small number of landlords. By reducing the number to five or more, we would cover a wider range of landlords. Nonetheless, landlords who have five or more units are, we believe, professional landlords. We emphasise that we are not in any way impinging on their right to sell their property. Rather, we are simply saying they should not have the right to evict their tenants and sell properties on. For every one landlord there are potentially five families in residential units. If 1,000, 2,000 or 3,000 landlords are affected by the provision referring to five units or more, in each case one can multiply by the figure by five in order to calculate the large numbers of families who are affected. We want to ensure that when properties change hands there are no inadvertent consequences leading to homelessness.

There are many figures in the Hooke and MacDonald report. I will refrain from reading out the detail of the report, but will instead provide one figure as an example. We know that under the capital gains tax waiver a large number of investors and vulture funds came to Ireland to take advantage of the fact they could hold to a property for seven years and gain tax advantage from so doing. The waiver ran from 2012 until 2014. Hooke and MacDonald describe how towards the end of 2014 over 3,000 residential units had been purchased in Dublin by international investors. The report is very explicit. It states that the budget measure, which provided the capital gains tax exemption for properties purchased prior to 31 December 2014 and held for seven years, has proved to be an attractive stimulus for investors and the intensification of buying activity is occurring prior to the cut-off date.

A significant number of landowners and landlords in the property market entered it because of the tax waiver involved. They will leave the market in three or four years' time and would of course prefer to sell properties that are vacant because they will make more profit by so doing. They are immune to the pressures of public opinion because, in many cases, the investors will move to the next place that is in crisis and purchase there.

Our amendments ensure that the proposal in the Bill does what it sets out to do, namely, address the dangers of property flipping and consequent homelessness. We co-sign and support the proposal that the figure of 20 units or more be reduced to five or more. We have made a number of other suggestions which I will not enumerate. For example, we sought a reduction in the provision that allowed for 20% profit to be the bar - it should instead be 30% or 40%.

Lorcan Sirr, writing in The Sunday Times, said a landlord could drive a coach and four through the provisions in the Bill and that the bar which asks landlords to justify large-scale evictions by simply saying that they show they can make a better profit than 20% is too low. Any letting agent would be able to prove that. The other part of the proposal suggests it is unduly unfair that landlords should not be allowed to exercise mass evictions. The phrase "undue unfairness" is far too loose and wide in this regard.

The Minister of State has genuine people working in his Department who are endeavouring to tighten this area. However, we have not received proposals from the Department on tightening this area. We have put forward seven or eight amendments, one or two of which I will signal now that we intend to press. The Minister of State should ensure that the bar would at least include a change from "or" to "and" so that landlords who propose to throw people out of their apartments at a time of sale would, at a minimum, have to show not only that they can make a profit but that they need the profit and would suffer undue hardship if they did not accept it.

I also have amendments to remove the entire section, because subsection 35A(3) is unacceptably loose. I ask that the Minister of State accept at least this most reasonable and mild of our amendments, which would ask that landlords proposing to evict their tenants in properties of five or more, if we are successful in that amendment, or 20 or more, would have to meet at least two bars of proof. "Undue unfairness" is a loose term and I cannot imagine any landlord worth his or her salt who could not find some narrative to say he or she was suffering "unfairness" which would allow him or her to proceed in this regard. I apologise for speaking too long. I know we are keen to move the debate forward. I ask the Minister to accept the amendments, or we will have to press them.

Does Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh wish to speak again to wind up?

No, I am fine, thanks.

Are you all right, Trevor? I am getting worried about you.

I cannot accept amendments Nos. 15, 18 and 24, which propose to delete sections 28 to 30, inclusive, of the Bill. Section 30, together with sections 28 and 29, provides for what is known as the Tyrrelstown amendment. This provision gives effect to action 4.2 of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness to legislate to deal with circumstances where there are large sales of property with tenants in situ.

I am aware that this provision does not deal with security of tenure for all tenants, and that the Bill does not resolve all the problems in the rented sector; it was not intended that it would do so. To legislate for the problems in the rented sector in advance of having a strategic plan for the sector risks exacerbating the very problems that the Government is trying to solve. I will not go back over this again. I made the same point last week. This was not meant to be a rental strategy Bill and this is why we are not bringing forward legislation regarding the policy. This Bill is to deal with many other matters. We decided the Tyrrelstown issue was an important one to try to deal with. That is why Rebuilding Ireland commits to the publication, by the end of the year, of the strategy, which will set out measures to address immediate issues affecting the supply, cost and accessibility of rental accommodation.

Regarding security of tenure, including the termination of tenancies for the purpose of sale, the strategy will examine all options to improve security of tenure for tenants. Therefore, I cannot accept amendment Nos. 14, 16 and 17, which pre-empt the proposals in the strategy relating to security of tenure.

Amendments Nos. 19 to 23, inclusive, 27, 31 and 32 all relate to the exemptions provided for landlords from section 30. We have carefully considered the arguments made in respect of these amendments on Committee Stage in this House, and we have taken legal advice in respect of them. Some good points have been made and we are minded to redraft the exemption provision to ensure it is effective. However, while I accept some of the amendments in principle, specifically amendments Nos. 19, 22, 23, 31 and 32, we will require time to redraft the provisions in line with the legal advice we have received and I ask that the amendments be withdrawn. We will deal with the matter on Committee Stage in the Dáil, if that is acceptable.

Amendments Nos. 25 and 26 propose to reduce the number of dwellings referred to in the Tyrrelstown amendment from 20 to five, or, alternatively, from 20 to ten. I cannot accept amendment No. 25 although I understand the intention behind it. The purpose of the Tyrrelstown amendment, which is limited in its scope, was to take early action before the rental strategy was complete, to indicate to institutional investors buying large-scale developments that when these properties were being sold, the existing tenancies in those properties would be protected. The figure of 20 units was chosen because anything above it represented a medium-sized development. However, I have listened to the submissions made on this issue on Committee Stage and a case has been made to reduce the number of dwellings to ten. Therefore, I will accept amendment No. 26.

Amendments Nos. 29 and 30 propose to increase the figure of 20% to either 30% or 40%. I do not propose to accept these amendments. The figure of 20% is reasonable and represents a significant difference between the value of the property sold with vacant possession or with an existing tenancy.

Amendment No. 28 deals with the role of the Residential Tenancies Board, RTB, where a tenant challenges a notice of termination served by a landlord pursuant to the exemptions provided for under the new section 35A. Where a tenant is served with a notice of termination under the section, and does not believe the exemptions apply, the tenant may refer a dispute to the RTB. The RTB is an independent statutory body, with quasi-judicial powers. The dispute is heard, in the first instance, by an adjudicator who has a statutory obligation under section 97 of the 2004 Act to inquire fully into each relevant aspect of the dispute concerned and provide to, and receive from, each party such information as is appropriate. Any order made by an adjudicator may be appealed to a tribunal, which holds an oral hearing for that purpose. The tenancy may not be terminated during the dispute process. Section 97, and the 2004 Act generally, provide for a robust and independent assessment of the validity of any notice of termination in these circumstances and, as such, I am not accepting this amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 15:

In page 34, to delete lines 4 to 6.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 16:

In page 34, between lines 6 and 7, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 34 of Act of 2004

29. The Act of 2004 is amended in section 34 by the deletion of paragraph 3 of the Table.”.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 17:

In page 34, between lines 6 and 7, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 34 of Act of 2004

29. The Act of 2004 is amended in section 34 by the insertion of the following in paragraph 3 of the Table:

“This provision shall not be available to any landlord whose property was purchased with a buy-to-let mortgage or whose property benefitted from any section 23 tax relief or where the landlord is a professional landlord with three or more properties with tenancies registered with the Residential Tenancies Board.”.”.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 18:

In page 34, to delete lines 7 to 27.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 19:

In page 34, line 18, to delete “section 35A(3)(a)(i)” and substitute “section 35A(3)(a)”.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 20:

In page 34, line 22, to delete “20 per cent” and substitute “40 per cent”.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 21:

In page 34, line 22, to delete “20 per cent” and substitute “30 per cent”.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 22:

In page 34, line 24, to delete “where section 35A(3)(a)(ii) applies,”.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 23:

In page 34, line 27, to delete “undue unfairness to or”.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 24:

In page 34, to delete lines 28 to 39, and in page 35, to delete lines 1 to 35.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 25:

In page 35, line 8, to delete “20 or more” and substitute “5 or more”.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 21; Níl, 17.

  • Ardagh, Catherine.
  • Clifford-Lee, Lorraine.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Davitt, Aidan.
  • Devine, Máire.
  • Gallagher, Robbie.
  • Gavan, Paul.
  • Higgins, Alice-Mary.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Ó Céidigh, Pádraig.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • Ó Donnghaile, Niall.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Sullivan, Grace.
  • O'Sullivan, Ned.
  • Ruane, Lynn.
  • Swanick, Keith.
  • Warfield, Fintan.

Níl

  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Maria.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Hopkins, Maura.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • Reilly, James.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Catherine Ardagh and Lorraine Clifford-Lee; Níl, Senators Gabrielle McFadden and Michelle Mulherin..
Amendment declared carried.

Amendment No. 26 has been superseded by amendment No. 25 so we will not be moving it.

The Senator should move it.

It is not that we are not moving it. We can move it but it is dead in the water.

Is it being withdrawn?

Yes. It is superseded.

Amendment No. 26 not moved.

I move amendment No. 27:

In page 35, to delete lines 11 to 26.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 28:

In page 35, line 12, after “Board” to insert “, them also having due regard to perspective of the tenants and other independent sources”.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 29:

In page 35, line 15, to delete “20 per cent” and substitute “40 per cent”.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 30:

In page 35, line 15, to delete “20 per cent” and substitute “30 per cent”.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 31:

In page 35, line 16, to delete “or” and substitute “and”.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 22; Níl, 15.

  • Ardagh, Catherine.
  • Clifford-Lee, Lorraine.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Davitt, Aidan.
  • Devine, Máire.
  • Gallagher, Robbie.
  • Gavan, Paul.
  • Higgins, Alice-Mary.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • Ó Donnghaile, Niall.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • O'Sullivan, Grace.
  • O'Sullivan, Ned.
  • Ruane, Lynn.
  • Swanick, Keith.
  • Warfield, Fintan.

Níl

  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Maria.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Hopkins, Maura.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • Reilly, James.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Alice-Mary Higgins and Lynn Ruane; Níl, Senators Gabrielle McFadden and Michelle Mulherin.
Amendment declared carried.

I move amendment No. 32:

In page 35, line 20, to delete “undue unfairness to, or”.

We are asking for the removal of the term "undue unfairness" because we feel given "undue unfairness", "undue hardship" and "unduly onerous" are the three----

The amendment has already been discussed. We cannot allow debate.

I am giving the reason. If those terms were applied to the rental area, to tenants, we would see many tenants would not pay rent. I am going to move this amendment to remove the phrase "undue unfairness" but it would leave the other two intact.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 22; Níl, 16.

  • Ardagh, Catherine.
  • Clifford-Lee, Lorraine.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Davitt, Aidan.
  • Devine, Máire.
  • Gallagher, Robbie.
  • Gavan, Paul.
  • Higgins, Alice-Mary.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • Ó Donnghaile, Niall.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • O'Sullivan, Grace.
  • O'Sullivan, Ned.
  • Ruane, Lynn.
  • Swanick, Keith.
  • Warfield, Fintan.

Níl

  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Maria.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Hopkins, Maura.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Ó Céidigh, Pádraig.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • Reilly, James.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Alice-Mary Higgins and Lynn Ruane; Níl, Senators Gabrielle McFadden and Michelle Mulherin.
Amendment declared carried.

I move amendment No. 33:

In page 35, between lines 35 and 36, to insert the following:

“31. (1) Receivers appointed to mortgaged properties and lenders who have initiated repossession proceedings are regarded as the landlord in relation to existing tenancies.

(2) Where appointed, the receiver of the property shall be under the same tenancy obligations as landlords as specified in Part 2 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004 and associated regulations.

(3) Where appointed, a receiver of the property shall be responsible for promptly refunding the tenancy deposit, subject to conditions in section 12(4) of the Residential Tenancies Act 2004.”.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 21; Níl, 17.

  • Ardagh, Catherine.
  • Clifford-Lee, Lorraine.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Davitt, Aidan.
  • Devine, Máire.
  • Gallagher, Robbie.
  • Gavan, Paul.
  • Higgins, Alice-Mary.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • Ó Donnghaile, Niall.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Sullivan, Grace.
  • O'Sullivan, Ned.
  • Ruane, Lynn.
  • Swanick, Keith.
  • Warfield, Fintan.

Níl

  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Maria.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Hopkins, Maura.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Ó Céidigh, Pádraig.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • Reilly, James.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Catherine Ardagh and Lorraine Clifford-Lee; Níl, Senators Gabrielle McFadden and Michelle Mulherin.
Amendment declared carried.

I move amendment No. 34:

In page 36, to delete lines 10 to 13.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendment No. 35 has been ruled out of order as it involves a potential charge on the Exchequer.

Amendment No. 35 not moved.

I move amendment No. 36:

In page 38, between lines 22 and 23, to insert the following:

“Amendment of section 151 of Residential Tenancies Act 2004

38. The Residential Tenancies Act 2004 is amended in section 151(2) by the insertion of the following new paragraph:

“(b) The Board shall publish performance statistics to include average waiting times and other user statistics that may be prescribed by the Minister, on a quarterly basis in relation to the performance of its functions as prescribed by subsection (1)(a).”.”.

I second the amendment.

Amendment put:
The Seanad divided: Tá, 22; Níl, 16.

  • Ardagh, Catherine.
  • Clifford-Lee, Lorraine.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Davitt, Aidan.
  • Devine, Máire.
  • Gallagher, Robbie.
  • Gavan, Paul.
  • Higgins, Alice-Mary.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Ó Céidigh, Pádraig.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • Ó Donnghaile, Niall.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Sullivan, Grace.
  • O'Sullivan, Ned.
  • Ruane, Lynn.
  • Swanick, Keith.
  • Warfield, Fintan.

Níl

  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Maria.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Hopkins, Maura.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • Reilly, James.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Catherine Ardagh and Lorraine Clifford-Lee; Níl, Senators Gabrielle McFadden and Michelle Mulherin.
Amendment declared carried.

Amendment No. 37 has been ruled out of order as it involves a potential charge on the Exchequer.

Amendment No. 37 not moved.

Amendment No. 38 has been ruled out of order.

Amendment No. 38 not moved.
Question put: "That the Bill, as amended, be received for final consideration."
The Seanad divided: Tá, 30; Níl, 7.

  • Ardagh, Catherine.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Maria.
  • Clifford-Lee, Lorraine.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Davitt, Aidan.
  • Gallagher, Robbie.
  • Higgins, Alice-Mary.
  • Hopkins, Maura.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Ó Céidigh, Pádraig.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Grace.
  • O'Sullivan, Ned.
  • Reilly, James.
  • Swanick, Keith.

Níl

  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Devine, Máire.
  • Gavan, Paul.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • Ó Donnghaile, Niall.
  • Warfield, Fintan.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Gabrielle McFadden and Michelle Mulherin; Níl, Senators Paul Gavan and Trevor Ó Clochartaigh.
Question declared carried.
Question put: "That the Bill do now pass."
The Seanad divided: Tá, 28; Níl, 7.

  • Ardagh, Catherine.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Paddy.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Maria.
  • Clifford-Lee, Lorraine.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Conway, Martin.
  • Craughwell, Gerard P.
  • Daly, Mark.
  • Davitt, Aidan.
  • Higgins, Alice-Mary.
  • Hopkins, Maura.
  • McDowell, Michael.
  • McFadden, Gabrielle.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Ó Céidigh, Pádraig.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donnell, Marie-Louise.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Grace.
  • O'Sullivan, Ned.
  • Reilly, James.

Níl

  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Devine, Máire.
  • Gavan, Paul.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • Ó Clochartaigh, Trevor.
  • Ó Donnghaile, Niall.
  • Warfield, Fintan.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Gabrielle McFadden and Michelle Mulherin; Níl, Senators Paul Gavan and Trevor Ó Clochartaigh.
Question declared carried.

When is it proposed to sit again?

Ar 10.30 maidin amárach.

The Seanad adjourned at 11.20 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 30 November 2016.