I will just deal with the amendments before me. To remind Senators, we are seeking to use land that is lying idle right now. We talk about new communities or regeneration but we are not excluding anyone. Some of these are old industrial units or old hospitals, such as the site in Dundrum. In many instances, it is about creating new communities. The amendments tabled, specifically Nos. 9, 10 and 16, seek to amend section 2 to include reference to “vibrant, sustainable, mixed income communities” or to change references to social background. As currently drafted, section 2(c) provides that one of the purposes of the Bill is "to counteract segregation in housing between persons of different social background". Section 2(n) provides that a purpose of the Bill is "to facilitate measures designed to achieve socially integrated housing". These are very strong, clear provisions. I oppose the amendments as I believe the issue is adequately covered and the amendments do not substantially change anything. We all want the same thing. It is covered in the Bill. We want the Land Development Agency, LDA, to actually deliver and build homes.
We all recognise the importance of greater integration in housing and the delivery of mixed-tenure affordable and social public housing on public lands. We are trying to achieve that with this Bill. If one looks at the original general scheme of the previous Bill on the LDA, one will see that we have moved forward a great deal. It is now focused on delivering mixed tenure and social and affordable homes. That is key to building sustainable communities.
It is vital that the State uses its land to provide affordable homes for purchase and rent as well as social housing using, as Senator Cummins said, all the means at our disposal. We have to do that as we are still in a crisis. We may deliver 20,000 homes this year, between public and private. We need to be building 33,000. We needed to build 33,000 last year but built 20,000. Already, 26,000 homes that should have been built were not built because of Covid. That is the situation we are in. We cannot continue to debate matters back and forth, although it is another thing to say that in a debating chamber. We just need to get on with it. The Affordable Housing Bill has just passed without any dissent in this House. It passed with 101 votes for and 8 against in the Dáil. That gives us the tools to deliver affordable and cost-rental housing at scale. Through the Land Development Agency, we have an opportunity to ensure the State uses its own lands properly for the good of everyone. What can be wrong with that? Most people will agree that is where we should be. Some do not and I respect their position but they must be really clear. I am not making a political point with a view to causing difficulties but I cannot agree with parties that say they want a Land Development Agency but that they do not want it to build or plan for homes. We need an agency that will partner with that awful thing, the private sector, in some instances. That will happen and it will deliver homes for people and for families. It will deliver more public homes than have ever been delivered before. These are good things. To be fair, I know that all Senators recognise that and want it to happen.
I cannot accept amendments Nos. 9, 10 and 16. Amendment No. 11 seeks to amend section 2(d) by inserting the word "existing" after "new". The subsection already provides for the sustainable development of new and regenerated communities. The State has lands on which there was never housing before. I am not talking about gentrification of areas but about bringing lands that may have been industrial or commercial lands back into use for housing to bring about regenerated communities. I do not believe this amendment adds significantly to the provision. I will not be accepting amendment No. 11.
Amendment No. 17 proposes to delete a subsection which provides for the establishment of "appropriate mechanisms and collaborative structures between public and private bodies to develop relevant public land, land owned by the Agency and [in some instances] land that is privately owned that is identified as suitable for the strategic and timely delivery of housing". I oppose that amendment because it would shut off an avenue completely. We had a discussion on this matter in the Dáil as well. We also got to a stage when discussing elements of the Affordable Housing Bill at which it became clear that some Members would never accept any type of private finance and that they would only accept the use of Exchequer moneys. That is not sustainable. We need both. The State needs to lead. We are the biggest investor in housing and the biggest builder, and rightly so. The State will do that but it is necessary and wholly appropriate for the LDA to partner with other bodies and to establish commercial arrangements, where appropriate, in line with other commercial State bodies. In its role as a development agency, the LDA will work with other public and private sector landholders to develop larger sites for the provision of housing and the regeneration of communities. This happens in many other countries. These countries do not just say that one cannot touch public lands. While these provisions are fully appropriate, I remind Senators of what is important with regard to the LDA in light of some of the concerns that have been raised, which I do not share although I do understand them.
The Land Development Agency will remain in the ownership of the State with the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform as its only shareholders. It is a public body and there is no provision for any other shareholders. In addition, all dividends will be returned for the benefit of the Exchequer. Ministerial approval will also be required for the establishment of any subsidiaries of the LDA and, with significant oversight, the LDA will be fully accountable to the joint Oireachtas committee in any of its activities.
Amendment No. 30, which I believe is the last one, seeks to amend section 14 by replacing "facilitate the provision of housing for the public good" with "deliver social and affordable housing". We are talking around this because this is what we are already doing and it is not necessary. The housing will, of course, be for the public good and we want to ensure that it is. It will be social and affordable and it is clear from the Bill that the LDA will be delivering affordable, public and social housing on public land. I will therefore not be accepting any of the amendments that have been tabled. I thank the Senators, however, for having done so because it allows us to have this discussion around the important elements of housing delivery through the LDA.