Building Control Bill 2005: Committee Stage.

Deputy Cregan took the Chair.

The meeting has been convened so that the committee may consider the Building Control Bill 2005, a Bill which was referred to the select committee by order of the Dáil on 2 March 2006. I welcome the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Deputy Roche, and his officials to the meeting.

I suggest we consider the Bill until 2 p.m. before adjourning for lunch and reconvening at 4 p.m. Is that agreed? Agreed. I also apologise for the Chairman's absence. He will be with us as soon as he can.

SECTION 1.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 5, subsection (1), line 21, after "Control" to insert "and Professional Registration".

I cannot accept this amendment. It refers to control and to transposing an EU directive. The Bill amends the Building Control Act 1990, which is the original legislation and the two Acts will be construed and cited together as the Building Control Act 1990 and 2005.

Deputy Quinn's point was a good one and I gave some consideration to it, but it is better to leave the Title as it is.

This means the entire body of legislation on building control will be construed under the one Act. I accept the argument.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 are cognate and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 5, between lines 28 and 29, to insert the following subsection:

"(4) Notwithstanding subsection (3), section 15 shall not be commenced until at least 3 years have elapsed after the commencement of section 10.”.

This amendment will provide statutory space between the coming into effect of the requirement to file for registration and the enforcement of the penalties.

It is anticipated that while approximately 90% will be processed fairly quickly there could be some outstanding cases of clarification and verification. In the meantime people must maintain their daily activities. If someone presents himself as an architect trying to get his affairs ratified through whatever the final process is, he could find himself in breach of the law even while attempting to have himself regulated by the law.

I have very strong advice not to accept this amendment. At a human level I understand precisely the point Deputy Quinn is making and I will give further consideration to it. Perhaps Deputy Quinn and I could talk between now and Report Stage. Neither Deputy Quinn nor I want to allow rogues to continue to call themselves architects, surveyors or anything of that nature.

In the normal course a commencement order will only be made for any section when a related section is ready for commencement or already operative. If Deputy Quinn does not push this amendment I will return to this issue on Report Stage. I see the point he is making and it is a reasonable one. Equally, I do not want to allow space for people who are abusing the title "architect" to continue to do so. I hope Deputy Quinn sees my dilemma. We both understand that people call themselves planners, architects and surveyors although they are none of those things. It is my strong desire, from the point of view of consumer protection, to get the legislation fully operative.

I appreciate the Minister's comments. I suggest his attitude should inform the entire Committee Stage approach. Many amendments have only recently arrived on our table. I know the Department has burned the midnight oil on this Bill.

And beyond it.

If we can put down markers in respect of issues where there is a shared concern but a difference of opinion as to the most appropriate wording I will be happy to accept that as a modus operandi and to proceed with a view to arriving at the desired outcome. We will not come around this track again for a long time, so we need to get it right.

I thank the Deputy for that. That is exactly my view. If we pool our individual wisdom, such as it is, we can improve things. The Deputy's point is a reasonable one at a human level. He also understands that I am anxious that people who misuse and abuse titles and therefore cause pain and difficulties in people's lives should be stopped. Deputy Quinn does not wish to go against my objective.

I am informed by the same view as Deputy Quinn. We should try to enact legislation which will last and stand the test of time. If Deputy Quinn does not press this amendment I will return to it on Report Stage.

I will try to work on wording which would achieve what Deputy Quinn wishes to achieve and consult him on it.

I appreciate that the Minister will come back to this amendment on Report Stage. His initial response was to say he was strongly advised not to accept this amendment. Could he elaborate on the strength of this advice not to accept the amendment so that the Opposition Members know the approach to take on Report Stage?

Three years is a reasonable time to allow people to register. I agree with the Minister that this amendment is not intended to allow people to use titles they are not qualified to use. Perhaps the Minister would brief us on the strong advice not to accept this amendment.

It would prevent the coming into effect of the prohibition on the abuse of the word "architect" for three years. We are all anxious to prevent abuse. The point Deputy Quinn made is that there is a tradition in Ireland of leaving everything until the last minute, so at a human level I understand the point he is making. I will try to create some flexibility. However, three years is too long because abuses are ongoing. As recently as this week an unfortunate family attended my clinic. They had gone to an "architect", and the mess this gentleman made of their planning application was nothing short of disgraceful. He had no right to call himself an architect and he caused the family in question the loss of thousands of euro and the loss of planning permission which could have been properly dealt with. We are all anxious to stop that. Equally, to go back to Deputy Quinn's point, we are anxious to do so in a way that does not cause undue hardship.

Messing up planning applications is not confined to unqualified people. It happens with qualified people as well. I know that from experience.

Deputy McCormack is right. However, people have some comeback in such circumstances. The problem is that with fly-by-night operators they have none. We need to protect the title "architect" but we need to protect consumers as well. We need to do that in a way that will not grind people down.

I apologise for being late. I understand the Minister has agreed to return to this amendment on Report Stage. What we want is to give people enough time to qualify if they can and at the same time have clarity.

That is the point Deputy Quinn made. He made the point that people who are busy and have been a lifetime in operation and who are operating ethically may need some time.

I have elaborated on it. There is currently a bull market but it may not always be that way, and their competitors may begin to raise questions or attempt to have proceedings initiated. Through no fault of their own their technical assessment on the other side of the registration body may be delayed for reasons over which they have no control. Perhaps, as is the case with the patents legislation, application pending might be one way of giving protection. This is a matter for detailed discussion later.

Deputy Quinn has made a very fair point regarding technical assessment.

It could involve getting papers from a university on the far side of the globe.

We will return to that on Report Stage.

I will not press the amendment but reserve the right to reintroduce it on Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 3 not moved.
Section 1 agreed to.
SECTION 2.

Amendment No. 18 is cognate with amendment No. 4. Amendments Nos. 4 and 18 may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 5, subsection (1), line 29, to delete ", unless the context otherwise requires".

These amendments seek to clarify certain definitions. New definitions are inserted where necessary and as advised by the Parliamentary Counsel. I am satisfied that the Parliamentary Counsel's approach is clear and that it is wise to make the amendments.

Amendment agreed to.
Deputy Haughey took the Chair.

We now come to amendment No. 5 in the name of the Minister. Amendments Nos. 6, 8, 10, 11 and 15 are related. Is it agreed to discuss amendments No. 5, 6, 8, 10, 11 and 15 together? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 5:

5. In page 5, subsection (1), to delete lines 31 and 32 and substitute the following:

" "adaptation period" means an adaptation period of such duration as the Admissions Board determines in accordance with the Directive;".

The proposed amendments seek to clarify definitions. I was advised by the Parliamentary Counsel to make some definitional changes and the arguments for making the changes are well based.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 6, subsection (1), line 6, to delete "determines" and substitute "determines in accordance with the Directive"".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 6, subsection (1), between lines 6 and 7, to insert the following:

" "architect in practice" means an architect who has been working on a full-time basis as an architect for at least two out of the previous three years,".

I cannot accept this amendment. I do not consider it necessary to define an architect in practice by reference to a minimum period of practice which could be difficult to verify in the terms proposed.

This has been requested by a group of people who feel it is necessary, and they are at the cutting face of practice. We want clarification of the definition. We have acquiesced to three of the Minister's amendments where the Parliamentary Counsel advised that for clarity of definition it would be useful to define what it means. There are people like me who are not in practice and others who have qualified as architects and who would not in any sense of the word be professionally competent today to deal with aspects of building control legislation and building regulations. This is a belt and braces measure. I do not believe it disturbs the essence of an architect in practice. It is consumer protection. The assumption is that the person is in practice and is, therefore, familiar with the workings of the system.

There are practical difficulties with it. If we put it in, and we are talking about two out of the previous three years, we would import an additional difficulty and it is not clear what the benefit would be. Architects operating in parts of the public service are architects, but they are not necessarily architects in practice in the terms used here. The Deputy says it is a belt and braces measure. It is normally this side of the House that wants belt and braces measures. I cannot see the practical benefit but I can see that it creates an additional complication. I am aware of the submission to which the Deputy refers but I can see no practical benefit from doing this and there could be a practical down side to it.

The argument I will make will inform much of the response from this side of the House, articulating, as we are democratically mandated to do, the views of citizens who are in this area and who will be affected by this legislation. They have come together and, on the basis of their own working experience, have decided they would like to see such safeguards. Subject to the overall objectives of the Bill being achieved, and not wishing to damage the interests of others, they have sought this definition. The grey area in terms of consumer protection and the maintenance of standards is that there are people working and practising as architects who have not come down the conventional route but who, by dint of their operation in the marketplace, have been performing and behaving in a responsible manner and they want this definition. They have behaved in a responsible manner in that they have been in practice for a sufficient period of time. The definition of architect alone may be weak from their point of view because of an inadequate array of qualifications but that is more than counterbalanced by a substantial period of experience and a body of work to demonstrate that, the difference between doctors and architects being that our mistakes are above the ground and doctors' mistakes are below the ground. It is possible to see whether somebody has a credible track record. This is what is sought by the people who suggested this amendment to us, and that is the argument behind it.

I thank the Deputy for his helpful contribution. I understand his point that it is a "belt and braces" approach from the perspective of the category of persons to which he referred. However, I am even more strongly opposed to the amendment in this context. For these people — architects in practice but not in name — the process that allows for them to be registered more than adequately addresses their concerns. When I first read the amendment, I initially thought it represented the views of Engineering Ireland and I wondered about its objective. I can see where the Deputies are coming from but I ask them not to press the amendment. I do not want to vote it down because I acknowledge that they have put forward a reasonable argument.

The concerns of this category of persons in regard to recognition for the purposes of this legislation are well captured elsewhere in the Bill. This amendment is unnecessary and it would be unwise to accept it. Deputy Quinn is well aware of the issues I have raised because he himself is an architect who is not in practice. That does not make him any less an architect. There are others in the same category in the public service. This amendment would introduce an unnecessary complication given that the concerns of such persons about their status are accommodated elsewhere in the Bill.

We will explore this issue further as we progress through Committee Stage. Deputy O'Dowd and I will not press the amendment but we may return to it on Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 6, subsection (1), between lines 12 and 13, to insert the following:

""EEA measure" means a measure or decision taken by the Joint Committee under the EEA Agreement;".

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 9, 104 and 105 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 6, subsection (1), between lines 12 and 13, to insert the following:

""grandfather clause" means the provisions of this Act which enables a person to be registered as an architect based on training acquired by practical means;".

This amendment reflects the concerns of a group of independent architects who approached me for this purpose. It seeks to include a statutory definition of — or, at least, a statutory reference to — the term "grandfather clause". This group believes it is important, that reference may be made to the "grandfather clause" in other contexts, and that such a reference should have a fixed and ascertainable meaning.

I see the point of the Deputy's amendment. We all have an intuitive grasp of what is meant by "grandfather clause". It is a phrase, however, that is not used in the text of the Bill and it would not be usual to include in legislation a definition of a term that is not contained in that legislation. I am not disposed to accept the amendment for this reason.

The arrangements for registering a person who is practising in the circumstances the Deputy outlined are dealt with in the Bill. It is unnecessary to include this definition.

It is a term that is in common usage when talking about these matters. The first time I heard it was during the debate on this Bill. It is not be included in the text but it is certainly part of the lingua franca.

It is undoubtedly the case that this term is commonly used. My point, however, is that it is not necessary to define it in the Bill because it is not used in it. There are many phrases that are part of the lingua franca but are not necessary to define. I have several in mind. Such an inclusion would be otiose because the phrase is not contained in the Bill. The definitions section is generally used to elaborate definitions of words used in the text.

I accept the point the Minister makes. However, it is likely the phrase will be used in petitions by applicants to the registration body and there could be a dispute about what constitutes a grandfather clause. It is common parlance in these matters. If, for example, a person disputing a decision of the registration body were to invoke the phrase "grandfather clause", as is common, and there was no agreed definition, one is open to either side reducing or maximising its impact. An agreed definition would facilitate clarity.

We have already spoken about the terms "architect in practice" and "practising architects". These too are common phrases but they are not defined in the definitions section. I accept that Deputy O'Dowd is putting forward an argument that was made to him. I reiterate, however, that it is unnecessary to include in the definitions sections phrases, even if they are used commonly, that are not used in the Bill. It would be bad practice to allow for such an inclusion in one case but not in another. That could introduce an element of inconsistency.

I would not be negative if I believed there was a positive reason for accepting this amendment. We must try to make the best we can of this Bill because it is something architects and practitioners have sought for generations. We should strive for a Bill that is elegant rather than importing unnecessary additional text. This is the basis of my argument against the amendment.

I may return to this issue on Report Stage.

Our aim is to produce the best legislation we possibly can. I will listen to the argument again on the next Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 6, subsection (1), to delete lines 15 to 18 and substitute the following:

"(a) on the State being required to implement an EEA measure having an effect corresponding to that of the Directive or any other Directive adopted by an institution of the European Union for the recognition of professional education and training, an EEA State;”

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 6, subsection (1), line 20, after "state" to insert "(other than a Member State of the European Union)".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 6, subsection (1), between lines 23 and 24, to insert the following:

""prescribed" means prescribed by regulations made by the Minister under this Act;".

This definitional amendment is included on the advice of the Parliamentary Counsel.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 14 is an alternative to amendment No. 13 and amendment No. 17 is related. These amendments may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 6, subsection (1), to delete lines 27 and 28 and substitute the following:

" "registered professional" means a person who is registered in the register under Part 3, 4 or 5, as the context requires;”.

Amendment No. 14 is unnecessary because its objective is achieved by what I propose in amendment No. 13. This amendment clarifies the definition of a registered professional under the Bill. It and amendment No. 17 were formulated in respect of representations we received from Engineering Ireland, formerly the Institute of Engineers in Ireland. I understand this body was concerned to ensure that the definition of a registered building professional would not prejudice the definition of a competent person for the purposes of obtaining a certification of compliance in the context of any future regulations made under the 1990 Act.

I am advised that my amendments meet these concerns, which Deputy O'Dowd seeks to address through his amendment No. 14. The definition of the title of chartered engineer meets the concerns of Engineering Ireland. It also has a separate legal protection under the Institute of Engineers of Ireland (Charter Amendment) Act 1969. The amendments I have proposed deal with these concerns. We have accommodated the issue the Deputy wished to cover but from two slightly different directions.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 14 cannot be moved because we have agreed amendment No. 13.

Amendment No. 14 not moved.

I move amendment No. 15:

In page 6, subsection (1), to delete line 39 and substitute the following:

"of the Directive or any other Directive adopted by an institution of the European Union for the recognition of professional education and training, and".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 16:

In page 7, subsection (1), line 5, to delete "1990" and substitute "1999".

This is a minor textual change but it is of some significance because it corrects the citation of an Act. A typographical error meant that the final digit was "0" instead of "9".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 17:

In page 7, between lines 7 and 8, to insert the following subsection:

"(2) For the avoidance of doubt, the definition of "registered professional" in subsection (1) does not have the effect of requiring any class of person falling within that definition to be the subject of any designation or other specification in regulations under the Act of 1990 of a person or a class of person for any purpose of those regulations.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 18:

In page 7, subsection (2), line 9, to delete ", unless the context otherwise requires,".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 2, as amended, agreed to.
Section 3 agreed to.
NEW SECTION.

Amendments Nos. 19 to 26, inclusive, and 31 to 36, inclusive, are related. Amendments Nos. 27 to 30, inclusive, are alternatives to amendment No. 26. Therefore, amendments No. 19 to 36, inclusive, will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 19:

In page 7, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following new section:

"4.—Section 3 of the Act of 1990 is amended by the insertion of the following after subsection (13):

"(14) No building shall be built, opened, used or otherwise occupied, save in accordance with regulations under this section, including a fire safety certificate and any conditions attached thereto.".".

This amendment addresses the concern that the number of buildings without fire safety certificates is significant in several local authority areas. The Minister provided an assessment on this serious issue. Some local authorities insist on vigorous compliance with standards. However, a significant number, although a minority, have not been able to complete this work. There are occupied buildings in Dublin city and elsewhere which do not yet have fire safety certificates.

That is an important point which I have discussed with the Deputy. Under the arrangements being made in the Bill, a building will not be occupied in such circumstances.

The point is that the legislation should apply retrospectively to buildings which are occupied but for which there was no application for a fire safety certificate.

With respect, that is a misunderstanding. The Bill will not introduce a retrospective provision. It provides for new arrangements for all buildings from a specific date.

The amendments in my name in this grouping are technical and designed to clarify the provisions of section 4. The most important amendments provide that where the design of a new building requires a fire safety certificate or a disability access certificate, the building cannot be occupied, opened or operated pending the outcome of an appeal to An Bord Pleanála on the relevant certification.

Another important amendment will require an application for a regularisation certificate, referred to by the Deputy, for a building where the design is not covered by a fire safety certificate to give a statutory declaration, not just an undertaking, that the relevant building comes within fire safety provisions of building regulations. I am proposing an amendment which will explicitly allow the Minister to exempt special classes of buildings from building control fees. This was requested by the Minister for Education and Science and intended to refer to small schools. It is not a contentious issue.

Under the system operated since the introduction of modern building regulations in 1992, the design of new non-domestic buildings or apartment blocks may be certified as compliant with Part B of the building regulations in respect of fire safety. I am advised that the system has significantly improved the quality of fire engineering in design, thereby reducing the risk of fire and enhancing the chances of people escaping from a building in the event of a fire.

Approximately 8,500 certificates are issued annually. In 2005 more than 90% of the certificates were issued in the statutory period of two months. The other applications were delayed because they were incomplete or of poor quality. To address this issue, the Department is developing a checklist for fire safety certificate applications in informal consultations with local authorities. It is hoped the checklist will expedite the granting of certification to applicants.

The building regulations advisory board established an expert group under the chairmanship of a chief fire officer to make a report and recommendations on how to improve the operation of the certificate system. One worrying feature of the report was the significant number of building projects started and completed without the requisite certification. Deputy O'Dowd has made this point to me in private and I share his concerns. The expert group recommended various reforms of the fire safety certification system which will be implemented in Part 2. Among the recommendations are the introduction of new forms of certification, including a regularisation certificate for a new building started without a certificate and a seven-day notice system; the prohibition of the occupation, opening or operating of a new building without a certificate; and the empowerment of the local building control authority to enforce this by way of a High Court injunction.

I am more than happy to make this briefing note available to members of the select committee and it can be returned to on Report Stage.

I acknowledge the points made by the Minister. The key issue I wish to tease out is how will the Bill regularise existing occupied buildings which never have been inspected. This is based on a report given to me by the Department that showed a significant number of local authorities not enforcing compliance with fire safety regulations. I do not have the names of the local authorities concerned. I submitted a freedom of information request but they were not identified. The chief fire officer for County Sligo drew up the report but did not mention which local authority areas were affected. I do not know if they are cities or small towns. This is a serious issue which the Bill is attempting to address.

Retrospective certification can only happen where the building design complies with the building registration standards.

The difference is that in some cases a qualified person could sign off on the drawings presented at the planning stage but not the building, of which there is no physical inspection.

The Deputy is correct in that the sign-off by a fire officer is on the basis of the design of a building.

That is fine if I submit a design and erect a building that is fully compliant with fire safety regulations. However, what about the alternative scenario? It is possible to seek retrospective certification some years after a building has been constructed, during which time it may have been in occupational use. There is no physical examination of its structure to affirm the construction was as per design.

Spot-checking takes place but it is not universal. I understand the Deputy's point regarding the problem with retrospective applications.

Such buildings may be apartment complexes or large shopping centres. The problem is that we do not have this data. Will the Minister come back to me on this issue? I will be happy to work on it further.

I draw members' attention to section 4(c)(viii) which provides a building control authority with the power to “inspect (before it decides whether to grant such a certificate) a building in respect of which an application has been submitted for a regularisation certificate” and grant that certificate only if it considers it appropriate. This is a new requirement.

I appreciate that point. Does this provision apply only to new buildings or will it also cover existing buildings?

It applies in respect of all applications for a regularisation certificate. It is also retrospective, which is precisely what the Deputy seeks.

The Deputy mentioned there was some deficiency in the information he had received from the Department on inspections.

The information was not in itself deficient but it provided no identification as to location.

I will check the reasons for that.

The Minister gave me the full report but it did not include the locations.

It did not break down the information according to location.

No. I would like to obtain and examine that information.

I will examine this matter further. The Deputy should have that information.

In fairness, it was not given to the Department; it was compiled by another agency. I must defend the Minister's officials in this instance.

The Deputy is being generous. My view is that performance, whether good, bad or mediocre, should always be identified with the particular local authority. This is what I have done in other instances where the Deputy has asked for information. His concerns in regard to the regularisation certificate are addressed in the section to which I referred.

Did the Minister say he would circulate to members the note to which he referred?

Yes, I did. It is a detailed note and it is only fair that members should have a copy of it. I am willing to listen to any concerns on this point they may wish to raise again on Report Stage. It is a serious issue. Deputy O'Dowd has made the fair and reasonable point that buildings in respect of which a retrospective regularisation is sought should be subject to a more detailed inspection.

Yes, there should be a more serious investigation.

I agree.

If necessary and possible, that investigation should incorporate an examination of the substructure of buildings.

I have outlined the conditions that will apply in regard to retrospection. They will act as an inducement to ensure people get it right first time rather than constructing a building and then seeking retrospective certification. It will be more difficult to do this and there will be more inspections. Furthermore, section 4(c)(vii) states the regularisation certificate “shall not have effect unless, within 4 months after its being granted, any conditions attached to it by the authority (including conditions as to the carrying out of additional works) are complied with”. This introduces the level of direct, specific inspection for which Deputies O’Dowd and Quinn have called for many years in debates and parliamentary questions. I share their concerns. These provisions will make inspection necessary where a regularisation certificate is sought.

I thank the Minister for his support of my colleague, Deputy O'Dowd. Post-construction examination and certification of existing buildings to ensure compliance with drawings or, alternatively, to identify gaps between the drawing design and the built structure are comparatively simple in traditional domestic two-storey buildings. It becomes a nightmare, however, in the case of reinforced concrete multi-storey apartment blocks, for example. In such cases, one cannot definitely say whether there is compliance with standards and regulations, unless one cuts into the structure.

Undoubtedly, there are cowboys in the current building boom. To deter them, we must ensure there is legislation in place that will prohibit a shortcut approach, whereby regularisation can easily be obtained for buildings already done and dusted. Builders and professionals who operate in this way have an unfair competitive advantage over compliant builders and other professionals. It must be made clear that those who take the fast route will face serious scrutiny and must submit to a cross-sectional analysis by physical examination using modern technology or simply by hacking it out to see whether the reinforcing bars are in place and so on. This will be a deterrent for rogue builders and professionals.

The Deputy is correct. When he has had the opportunity to consider the points I made and examine the section I identified, he will see that this legislation will ensure persons who take the fast track route could find themselves in significantly more difficulty because there will be much more in the way of inspection. Concerns in this regard relate not only to rogue builders. The disastrous events of 11 September 2001 in the United States, for example, raised important questions about the engineering of the twin towers. The buildings imploded not because they were built incorrectly but because the design standard applied meant that the destruction of one element meant the collapse of the entire structure.

I share the Deputies' concerns on these issues. However, I believe they are adequately addressed in the Bill, specifically in the subsections to which I have pointed. I will also circulate the note from which I read.

Deputy Quinn put his finger on the issue. There are serious concerns in regard to constructions which have not been regularised, particularly where those buildings are for residential purposes. Will the Department seek information on the breakdown of such constructions by local authority and analyse the results? In some areas, 20% to 30% of buildings are non-compliant. The Department should identify buildings such as apartment complexes that are at risk and devise a priority list according to categories.

Cowboy builders have done tremendous damage. We have an obligation, as Members of Parliament, to address this issue. I ask the Minister to use his good offices to ensure culpable local authorities are identified. We must discover why there is this problem and what the authorities propose to do about it. The Minister must identify the volume and types of buildings to which such problems apply. He must spare no cost in insisting on a retrospective and vigorous application of all the rules and regulations. As Deputy Quinn said, we owe it to those who have conformed to the correct specifications and regulations.

The current arrangement is that some 12% of buildings are inspected. The Deputies make a fair point in saying a person seeking certification retrospectively is looking for something he or she should have obtained in the first instance. I am open to considering any further concerns on this issue but the Bill stipulates a requirement for inspection in such cases. I believe it achieves the objectives of the Deputies. Deputy O'Dowd's second point is that this information should be available. Those local authorities which do not have a good record in this regard should be identified. I will examine the Deputy's information. I intend to be open on this issue to protect us all.

In some EU member states, if a building collapses, the architect and builder can be put in jail at the outset of the investigative process and the investigation follows tout de suite.

I hope the Deputy is not making that suggestion.

I am not.

I hope they are not in the Fianna Fáil tent in Galway.

They would never be in a tent in Galway with me.

I am not sure.

I am not a racing fan.

I agree with Deputy O'Dowd on providing this information. Members on every side of the House are entitled to it. It is good to identify local authorities ahead of the posse and those which are not. The same constraints apply to them all. If some can do it and others cannot, the question arises: why not? Many of them will claim they need more staff. I always argue they have plenty of resources and should use their staff more efficiently. I will circulate the briefing notes and we can return to them on Report Stage.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
SECTION 4.

I move amendment No. 20:

In page 8, lines 1 and 2, to delete "will promptly carry" and substitute the following:

"will, within such period as may be specified by the building control authority, carry".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 21:

In page 8, line 24, to delete "building regulations," and substitute the following:

"the provisions of building regulations relating to fire safety,".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 22:

In page 8, line 38, to delete "certificate" and substitute "statutory declaration".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 23:

In page 9, lines 16 and 17, to delete "if in its opinion the building or extension" and substitute the following:

"if in its opinion the design of the building or the extension".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 24:

In page 9, lines 19 and 20, to delete "would comply with" and substitute the following:

"would comply (subject to any relevant dispensation or relaxation already granted under section 4 or 5 or to any appeal under section 7 which has been allowed) with".

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 25 not moved.

I move amendment No. 26:

In page 9, to delete lines 35 to 45 and substitute the following:

"(xi) that all new building, or existing buildings in respect of which an extension or a material alteration has been made, shall not be opened, operated or occupied or permitted to be opened, operated or occupied, unless a fire safety certificate and disability access certificate (or, as the case may require, a revised or regularised certificate of either kind) has been granted by the building control authority;”.

I must declare an interest in that I am a member of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland.

I am concerned that there are too many get-out clauses for the building industry. In the Bill we are still not being sharp enough in targeting those who do not perform in planning and building construction. Deputy Quinn referred to cowboys. There are many cowboys in the industry and I am concerned that many of them are supping with the Minister's party, whether it be Noel O'Callaghan, Jim Mansfield or Jerry Beades. Many of them have had problems with planning authorities, whether it be knocking down protected structures or failing to get planning permission before work began on new buildings. Some of these cowboys are at the top table. It is crucial the Minister tackles them and that his legislation goes right to the heart of shoddy planning and building practices.

I am concerned about the status quo. While there are spot checks, a much more rigorous building control system is needed to pick up bad practices and put in place appropriate penalties. I was disturbed to learn through a series of parliamentary questions that while the Minister was aware of prosecutions taken by local authorities for non-compliance with building regulations or fire safety certificates, he did not have any meaningful data on what problems had arisen and the reasons local authorities went to the courts. While the Bill goes some way in addressing this, very clear data on which parts of the building regulations are being broken and the degree of compliance are needed. We may well need to move beyond spot checks to a more rigorous system, such as is in place in several European countries.

Amendment No. 26 emerged from discussions with the Disability Federation of Ireland which is concerned that every new building should be accessible. Many new buildings are not compliant with fire safety or disability access certificates obtained at the planning stage. It is common to find significant obstacles put in the way of full access to new buildings. Disability access certificates must be obtained and complied with for new buildings.

I am not surprised because smear is Deputy Cuffe's normal tactic, particularly when he is making a weak point. He has named three individuals and I doubt he would have the courage to do so outside the privilege of the House.

I have done so.

Fine. It would be better if the Deputy spoke to the point and left people out of it, particularly as he is not always blemish-free in all matters.

Will the Minister expand?

There was the small matter of his shareholdings some time back.

Was there anything in regard to building construction or planning?

Is there anything the Minister would like to repeat?

We are discussing legislation and would be better off-----

That is what I am directing my comments at.

The Deputy made smears against people whom I do not know. As they are not present to defend themselves, it is a bad way to progress. As I have dealt with the other two Deputies who made points, I am interested in creating legislation that will be modern, rather than scoring little political points. If any Member has a coherent argument when drafting legislation, I will listen to it. I have proved that point in my responses. We would do the people a much better service if we focussed on legislation rather than individuals. I believe Deputy Cuffe damaged his point by adopting this approach.

I will not accept amendment No. 26. Section 4(c)(ix) prohibits the opening, operation or occupation of a building, unless the necessary fire certificate, disability access certificate or revised certificates of either kind have been obtained through the building control authority. The fire safety certificate system and the proposed disability access system only apply to non-domestic and apartment blocks. They do not apply to housing schemes or single and individual houses. The practical problems of applying them to every building structure would be self-evident to most sensible and sane people. They are obviously not self-evident to Deputy Cuffe.

Amendment No. 31 proposes to require a local building control authority to inspect every completed building and certify they comply with Parts A to M of the building regulations. Local building control authorities simply do not have the manpower or resources to examine every single building. One can argue that they should but we must stay within a reasonable period. One must discriminate and focus resources on what one can do best. That is why the provisions in my amendments address new builds and the specific requirements that are more detailed and onerous in retrospection. The primary onus on ensuring compliance with building regulations should continue to rest with the designers, builders and owners of the buildings involved. That is why I favour having a close look at the recommendations for the introduction of a system of self-certification by designers and that is why it was recommended by the working party report of the main building professional organisations. I have already made a commitment to examine the feasibility of such a system once the Building Control Bill has been enacted. However, to do what the Deputy suggests would produce chaos. What he is suggesting would not be workable. We must have solutions that protect the public interest and that are workable

Self-regulation is fine if we can have close to 100% confidence that it works correctly. We cannot have that kind of confidence because the Minister does not receive adequate data from local authorities. In response to my parliamentary question the Minister could only tell me that two years ago there were 80 or 90 prosecutions. He could not give the details I requested on the nature of the lack of compliance. We cannot be certain that fire certificates or building regulations are being completely complied with unless we have much stronger proof of inspection and compliance. While I accept that the professionals involved have to sign off on the buildings, I am not convinced that what is on the drawings is being built in 100% of cases, or close to that. That is the source of my concerns.

On the detail of my amendment No. 26, much rests on changing the word "or" in line 40, page nine to "and". The Minister appears to have an out clause that does not insist on a disability access certificate even for those buildings where it should be required. Perhaps he could clarify that. It appears not to insist on a disability access certificate in the case of buildings that would require them.

The use of the word "or" instead of "and" is the advice of the Parliamentary Counsel because the interpretation of "or" includes "and" and that is the wording normally used. This issue has been discussed before. It is similar to "shall" and "may". If Deputy Cuffe feels it weakens the provision I will re-check it and ask the Parliamentary Counsel to elaborate. That is not a problem. My interest is in producing legislation that will stand the test of time.

I am happy to withdraw the amendment if the Minister will examine the issue.

On the other issue of councils in the survey work we have done, it is reasonable that there should be more detail. Deputy O'Dowd made this point less contentiously than Deputy Cuffe. I will seek a further breakdown and will be prepared to make it available as soon as I have it. I have no problem with that because in principle it is important that if there are areas of the country where local government is doing the job well we should identify them. It is even more important to identify the areas where they are doing it less well so that the local councillors can take on their responsibility as elected representatives to ensure their local authorities perform to the same standard. Deputy O'Dowd and I have discussed this both privately and across the House on several occasions. I am attempting to achieve that, through the publication of the performance indicators, for example, which give us more objective data. I agree with Deputy Cuffe that we should publish objective data and I will do so.

I am not sure if I heard the Minister correctly. Did he indicate that he would have the Parliamentary Counsel's notes on interpretation circulated to us?

No. With regard to the words "and" and "or", I said that the use of the word "or" is normal in this context. Deputy Quinn will recall from his period as Minister that the word "or" incorporates "and". If he wishes I can revisit the issue. I was not promising to circulate notes.

I am slightly bemused because I read in both the Bill and the amendment: "unless a fire safety certificate or disability access certificate" is required. Does the Minister suggest that this can be interpreted so that a fire certificate and a disability access certificate would be required because "or" is equal to "and"?

We are talking about the necessary certificate which is deficient in this regard. We are talking about subparagraph (xi). It may need one or both certificates, so it refers to whichever certificate is required.

Does this depend on the category of the building?

It does.

I am consciously nitpicking because I heard the Minister say, perhaps inadvertently or wrongly, that "or" equals "and" and if that were the case we would require both certificates.

The point I was making is that in parliamentary drafting the word "or" normally includes "and" in the way that one sees "and-or" in normal language. In normal language one would say "certificates A, B and-or C as the case requires". The word "or" is used here in the sense in which it is normally used in parliamentary drafting. As I said to Deputy Cuffe, the aim is to be comprehensive, not selective. Subparagraph (xi) is comprehensive as it is expressed.

While we all agree that in small domestic construction one does not need a fire safety or disability access certificate, in larger buildings one clearly needs both and there is an obligation to provide both. That is where I am concerned about the use of the word "or".

As I have already said, I have no problem checking that, although the normal construction uses "or", which is comprehensive. The intention in paragraph (xi) is to be comprehensive and if there is any suggestion that it is not comprehensive I will return to it.

My concern is that in common English usage it is the opposite of comprehensive.

The Deputy is correct, because in normal English we would say "and-or". I do not disagree with the Deputy.

I feel like I am walking into a "Yes, Minister" sketch. I await the Minister's clarification on the issue.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 27:

In page 9, to delete lines 40 to 45 and substitute the following:

"occupied—

(I) unless a fire safety certificate or disability access certificate (or, as the case may require, a revised certificate of either kind) or a regularisation certificate required by regulations under this Act has been granted by the building control authority in relation to the building, or

(II) if such an appeal is made to it, pending the determination by An Bord Pleanála of an appeal under section 7 relating to a refusal to grant any of the certificates or revised certificates referred to in clause (I) or the attachment of conditions to any of them;".

Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 28 to 31, inclusive, not moved.

I move amendment No. 32:

In page 9, to delete lines 48 to 58 and in page 10, to delete lines 1 and 2 and substitute the following:

"(i) the form and content of—

(I) certificates of compliance,

(II) applications for fire safety certificates, revised fire safety certificates, regularisation certificates, disability access certificates and revised disability access certificates,

(III) each of the certificates referred to in clause (II),

(IV) 7 day notices and 7 day notice statutory declarations,

(V) applications for certificates of approval and certificates of approval,",.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 33:

In page 10, between lines 13 and 14, to insert the following:

"(g) in subsection (2), by inserting the following paragraph after paragraph (h):

(ha) the exemption, in specified circumstances, from fees referred to in paragraph (h);”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 34:

In page 10, paragraph (g), line 15, to delete “and”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 35:

In page 10, paragraph (h), to delete line 16 and substitute the following:

"(h) in subsection (2), by inserting the following paragraph after paragraph (k)—”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 36:

In page 10, to delete lines 19 to 22 and substitute the following:

"section 6B) shall be valid and the time when it shall be provided to a person,

(i) in subsection (5), by inserting ", 7 day notice, revised fire safety certificate, regularisation certificate, disability access certificate, revised disability access certificate" after "fire safety certificate" in both places where it occurs in that subsection, and

(j) in subsection (6), by inserting ", 7 day notice, revised fire safety certificate, regularisation certificate, disability access certificate, revised disability access certificate" after "fire safety certificate".".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 37:

In page 10, between lines 22 and 23, to insert the following:

"(i) by the insertion of the following after subsection (6):

(7) In the case of a regularisation certificate, no appeal to An Bord Pleanála shall be permitted.".

I am not disposed to accept this amendment, although I will accept some amendments. It is important that we retain the right of appeal to An Bord Pleanála against refusal of a regulation certificate. It is usual, in building control and planning, to have the right of appeal and we would find ourselves in difficulty if we were to completely remove such a right.

That is fair enough.

I did not mean to be negative. I see the point the Deputy makes. He is trying to put a greater onus on people who do not comply in the first instance and I agree with that general principle. However, in this case we would find ourselves in some legal difficulty.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 4, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 5.

Amendments Nos. 38 to 40, inclusive, 43 to 48, inclusive, and 50 to 52, inclusive, are related and amendment No. 45 is an alternative to amendment No. 44. These amendments will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 38:

In page 10, to delete from "(1) Where" in line 25 down to and including "building." in line 34 and substitute the following:

"(1) Where a person proposes to construct a building the person shall ensure, before work commences on its construction, that due consideration has been given to the technical, environmental and economic feasibility of using alternative energy systems in the proposed building, and use of such systems has been taken into account, as far as practicable, in the design of the proposed building.".

The purpose of my amendment is to tighten up our building regulations with regard to energy efficiency. While the Minister has taken his first few faltering steps into the area of tightening up building standards, he is not going far enough. We have seen energy prices shoot up and come back down again in recent times. Doubtless they will shoot up again over the coming years. There is an obligation on this generation to put in place much higher energy efficiency standards. If there is any lasting legacy the Minister can leave, it would be an improvement in the building regulations, given the unprecedented output in the construction sector, particularly in the domestic arena. Approximately 90,000 new homes will be built this year. If that is repeated over the next five or six years, by the time the Kyoto Protocol comes into force in 2012 we will have built half a million new homes. If the Minister was to improve the energy efficiency of those homes by 20% or 30%, he would put in place a fitting and lasting legacy of which he could be proud. I am concerned that we are falling behind in this area. We are falling behind the United Kingdom, where condensing boilers have been mandatory for the past five years. Companies like Grant Engineering (Ireland) Limited are exporting most of their output to the United Kingdom because we are not looking for that standard of energy efficiency in new homes here. Ireland is one of the most energy dependent economies in Europe and has a phenomenal output in the construction sector. In that context, the Minister should put much more rigorous standards in place.

Amendment No. 38 proposes that we should examine alternative energy systems in smaller buildings. A building of 1,000 sq. m. is fairly large. A gold-medallioned builder with a four wheel drive wishing to build a mansion in the heart of Westmeath might be hard pressed to remain within the category of 1,000 sq. m. for his primary residence, but we are not tackling the buildings that could be up to 10,000 sq. ft. or 11, 000 sq. ft. That is where action is needed. Of the 90,000 new homes being built per year, approximately 1% are more than 10,000 sq. ft. and the residents of such buildings would have serious difficulties with their heating bills anyway. This amendment proposes that when an individual sits down to plan a new building, of any size, he or she should consider alternative energy systems.

Amendment No. 39 proposes what is commonplace elsewhere in Europe, not only in the Mediterranean region but in the Scandinavian area. Many homes in those areas obtain their energy for hot water heating from simple solar panels on the roof. We should make that mandatory in new homes in Ireland. It would improve our economic and environmental performance and would make sense in a world of volatile energy prices.

The other amendments I have tabled deal with similar issues and are aimed at making new buildings less dependent on fossil fuels. My background in architecture and planning tells me that if there is the will, one can dramatically reduce the ongoing running costs of buildings. However, carrots and sticks, as well as regulation, are required. I hope the Minister will go further along this road and tighten the building regulations and legislation even more.

I support the thrust of this amendment. A senior official in the ESB informed me recently that 113,000 connections were made by the company last year, which is a very good indicator of the real number of housing completions. In the same year, the official figure was in the region of 90,000 and in that context, the argument made by Deputy Cuffe is very compelling. Approximately 80% of the output would be exempt from this provision. I ask the Minister to explain where the magic figure of 1,000 sq. m. came from, as it is a very large area.

It is in contained in the EU directive.

It may well be but we are not prisoners of the directive. It is possible to go further than the provisions contained within directives.

We do not have the energy production facilities available to other countries. In France, for example, approximately 40% of electricity comes from nuclear or hydro power and in that sense is free from the vagaries of carbon fuel prices. Our economy is the most dependent in Europe on imported fuel and all indications suggest that will continue. The alternative to imported gas or oil is coal but even using the cleanest technologies available, coal leaves one with net carbon dioxide which is akin to nuclear waste and cannot be destroyed or burned. It is a permanent residue that remains in the environment and must be stored in a safe way.

Everyone is familiar with the arguments and I do not want to waste committee time on a philosophical debate. We are here to discuss the tightening up of legislation and I wish to focus on that. In this instance, 1000 sq. m. is far too high. Provisions should be made for buildings of a much smaller size. I would be happy to informally discuss this matter now and revert to it on Report Stage. Effectively this provision does not apply to the construction output of the economy of Ireland because the vast bulk of it will be exempt. Therefore, we must find another way of going about it.

I support the thrust of the amendments tabled by Deputy Cuffe. The public is ahead of the Government and the building industry on this issue. Particularly in the case of one-off homes, people are recognising the savings and benefits to be had from using alternative energy sources over the lifetime of a mortgage. In that sense, they are well ahead of the Government.

The benefit in terms of cost savings of including alternative energy sources at the development stage is enormous but encouragement through legislation is required to make it happen. An enormous number of so-called starter homes are being constructed at present, and while they are all that many people can afford, I am concerned about the quality of some of those homes, particularly with regard to energy efficiency. People may have difficulties heating such homes in the coming years, when normal wear and tear comes home to roost. I strongly support what Deputy Cuffe is trying to achieve with his amendments.

I support the views expressed by Deputies. Fingal County Council, independently of the Government, has introduced a requirement in its planning rules that a certain percentage of energy for new buildings must come from renewable sources. I commend Deputy Cuffe on his amendments and urge the Minister to follow the route he suggests. It would be an important action to take. Rather than being prescriptive on the percentage, it can be included as a definition for everybody. Countries have differing views on the proportion, depending on availability and so on. It is an important provision which should be included in the Bill.

The first point to be made is we would not differ at all on the logic of producing buildings — this was Deputy Morgan's point — of much better quality. We are transposing a directive introduced by the European Union into Irish law.

Amendment No. 38 in Deputy Cuffe's name is setting out a desiderata in a prescriptive way. It is setting out what it would be desirable to do in a prescriptive way. In other words, it would make what we would all like to do mandatory but it would not be practical to do this.

With regard to dwellings generally, as we know, the Government has offered encouragement. Deputy Cuffe thought it was so good that his party circulated a document highlighting the inducements.

It is a false start.

It is a good start. Every step begins with a good start. Deputy Morgan knows better than I that all big journeys start with the first step.

The Minister sounds like a Chinese emperor.

Perhaps a very wise Chinese emperor.

We will see.

The Government has sought to incentivise and encourage precisely what the Deputy suggested rather than to mandate systems. The proof of success of this action is that at the beginning of last month over 8,500 people were in with SEI. I agree that the public is now actively considering how to move. However, we are making law. To introduce a mandatory provision that would apply to every property, irrespective of size, would cause difficulties.

The figure of 1,000 sq. m. which was queried by Deputy Quinn is actually included in the directive itself. The European Union will review this issue, which would be wise. I do not think we can make this mandatory in all cases.

Deputy Cuffe also makes reference in amendment No. 39 to energy requirements for heating space and water in buildings. It would be wise to move in that direction but to require it in law would cause difficulties. The Deputy mentions somewhat tangentially that there are difficulties in certain areas such as solar panels and I would not disagree with him. Some local authorities have adopted a hard-nosed attitude towards the installation of such panels. I have stated in the House in response to the Deputy that I would be disposed to introducing new guidelines on their installation. The idea that a person seeking to put a small solar panel on the roof of a house must go through the process of gaining planning permission completely goes against the spirit of the SEI grants scheme currently in operation. From a practical perspective, we would have to change this.

The Deputy has not mentioned them, but we could also consider small wind turbines, one of the best ways of converting wind energy into storable heat for heating systems. This could be done by way of individual regulations and incentivisation.

On energy conservation standards generally, the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources and I launched the relevant Green Paper last Sunday week. It requires new levels of energy conservation, which is the way to go. I do not disagree with this. I make the point, however, that encouragement and incentivisation would be more appropriate, particularly when considering individual dwellings.

Deputy Morgan mentioned one-off dwellings. Imagine the chaos if we were to enact in legislation the desirable, but rather open, wording being proposed by Deputy Cuffe in amendment No. 38. Planning permission would never be granted for a one-off house by some of our local authorities. It is difficult enough as it is. There is a more practical way of achieving the aims of the amendments. Incentivisation and encouragement, rather than mandatory requirements, should apply to most smaller buildings.

Deputy Quinn has asked where the magic figure of 1,000 sq. m. comes from, but it happens to be the one mentioned in the directive. I do not know why it was selected. I suppose the idea was that one had to start somewhere. There is a commitment to revise the figure. The Deputy is correct to state 1,000 sq. m. is a very large area.

Desirable as the aims underlining Deputy Cuffe's amendments may be, the practical arguments against proceeding along the mandatory route are compelling. It could not possibly be done and would cause difficulties.

I am confused. One moment the amendments contain a desiderata and the next one hears the words "imagine the chaos". The Minister's job is to do much more than simply implement directives from Brussels. If he talked the talk about energy efficiency in a big launch a few weeks ago, he should be walking the walk as a result of this Bill but he is not doing so. He is not going far enough. That is my concern.

In this green-wash with which Fianna Fáil seems to be surrounding itself because the Green Party is up a little in the polls, it comes down to what the party is actually achieving and enacting into law. The Minister is dismissing out of hand a proposal to improve energy efficiency by using the words "imagine the chaos that will be caused", but it is the acid test of whether the party is actually delivering on a green agenda. The Minister's job should be to go further than EU directives.

We held a green energy fair in Leopardstown racecourse some months ago and 3,000 people came through the doors. They wanted solutions and regulations to change. They wanted the bureaucracy, whereby a person can be brought to court for putting a solar panel on a roof, to be tackled. The Minister knows as well as I that if a person wants to place a wind turbine on a roof, planning permission is required under the current planning regulations. That issue is not being addressed in the proposed law before us today and I have not heard any public pronouncement from the Minister stating the regulations will change.

I receive many telephone calls and e-mails about this issue. The Minister must make some move. Even if it was the introduction of a desiderata, it would be better than nothing. All I am looking for with amendment No. 38 is a wish list. I am not telling anybody to go out and put a solar panel on any building. I am simply indicating that we should consider the matter.

We should try to get back to where we were on the issue. There is no mandatory provision, either in the amendment or the Minister's own text. In section 5 of the Bill, after the reference to the 1,000 sq. m. threshold, it is stated "the person shall ensure before work commences on its construction, that due consideration has been given to the technical, environmental and economic feasibility of using alternative energy systems in the proposed building, and use of such systems has been taken into account, as far as practicable, in the design of the proposed building". That is as wide as the M50 in terms of legal constraints and requirements. The only difference is that it only applies to about 15% to 20% of building output. There is no mandatory requirement above or below the threshold of 1,000 sq. m. in the amendment proposed by Deputy Cuffe. The wording is virtually similar. While it is an exhortation, it would have some merit in being inscribed in law. We are all moving in that direction, even more so as the cost of energy increases.

The Minister made a point on the EU directive. These are compromises, as he will know because he has negotiated them in his time, as have other Members. If a Minister or spokesperson from the Department of the Environment in France or the Nordic countries was at the negotiating table, his or her country would not have the same exposure to carbon fuels and pollution. Therefore, those countries can live with a different threshold because it does not affect them in the same way.

We have to take the directive as a guide, not as an absolute. We should not take the compromise lowest common denominator where we need to improve standards because of deficiencies in our domestic standards. These standards were arrived at by the EU15 as distinct from the EU25 and address different situations. The energy requirements of a country such as Greece are different from Ireland's. It can be less compliant in energy efficiency. We have to tailor this to building output. Last year housing output in the Republic of Ireland was 90,000, similar to the figure in the United Kingdom. We are at peak construction activity that will not last forever. We need to take extra special measures while we can and not await the outcome of the Green and White Papers on energy.

I agree with the last two Deputies. The key phrase in amendment No. 38 is "due consideration". No one is arguing with practical considerations for technical, environmental and economic feasibility. Amendment No. 39 simply states "a person shall endeavour to ensure". The purpose of the amendments would be to ensure, or at least require, designers of homes to examine the option of energy efficiency. Unless we get them clued in to examining it, we will never achieve anything in energy efficiency. This would not put a halter around a designer's neck or the person paying for it but ensure the entire construction industry would come to a greater understanding of energy efficiency. It would not grind the planning processes to a halt because it would be simple to demonstrate that due consideration was given to energy efficiency. I appreciate Deputy Cuffe left the wording of his amendment wide to ensure it would not create a bottleneck in the system.

Deputy Cuffe claims people want solutions, not just desiderata. Putting a wish list into law would not be best practice. If this amendment was to be incorporated into the legislation, difficulties could arise in the planning process where a third party could cite this provision as having not been met. Ipso facto, a one-off house cannot be built. I am not arguing with having the desire for much better standards. There would be, however, a real danger in making such a provision mandatory.

The term used is not "mandatory" but "to consider".

There are enough difficulties with one-off housing when people introduce all sorts of extraneous arguments. There are real dangers in this area. I am persuaded of the benefits of better energy efficiency but to make those requirements mandatory, as proposed by Deputy Cuffe, would be a dangerous way to go. I cannot accept the amendment. If the Deputy comes back with a different wording that would achieve the same objective without causing the difficulties I foresee, I will listen to the argument again. The reality is that we are making law that will affect thousands of people, not just the large builders and developers. Incorporating wish lists into legislation would only cause all sorts of difficulties.

It could be made mandatory through planning regulations as some local authorities have already done. It is a constructive suggestion. I note the Minister's comments about a different wording. All that is required is for energy efficiency to be considered. For the one-off rural house such a provision would be advantageous because of environmental factors. The Minister should think again and accept the amendment.

I will not accept the amendment because if I do, I will have the job of unpicking it later. There are good and cogent reasons I should not. Deputy O'Dowd made a good point on regulations but, as Deputy Cuffe should know, there is no one so deaf as those who simply will not hear. I have said in Deputy Cuffe's company several times the pedantic requirements introduced by some local authorities for solar panels are negative. Every day I see advertisements in local newspapers for the installation of such panels. I have announced several times in Deputy Cuffe's company that I will introduce regulations in this area. Deputy O'Dowd is much more sensible than Deputy Cuffe because regulations give an opportunity——

The Minister should not give me such a reference.

The Deputy sees my point about the term "mandatory".

Deputy Cuffe referred to a superfluity of bureaucracy in the planning system. If he thinks seriously, incorporating this list would give those bureaucrats who want to avoid making decisions even more reason to do so. I would consider a more focused wording in the amendment but I cannot accept it as it is.

The Minister is arguing both sides of the case. The wording has three caveats, "due consideration", "feasibility" and "as far as practical". If we cannot get that through Committee Stage, what are we doing here? If it was more strongly worded, the Minister would oppose it on the basis of it imposing an unfair cost.

Designers who want better energy efficient homes are already struggling with the issue. It is more complex than putting desiderata in legislation. Work is going ahead on software which will help people to get to the checkout point on what they must do. This is complex enough for those constructing large buildings. Can the Deputy imagine the difficulties this would cause for someone building a one-off house?

All the more reason to consider the amendment. This is about raising the bar and improving best practice.

It is about raising the bar but it could make life difficult.

Will the Minister look someone building a house in the eye and say it does not make sense to consider alternative energy systems?

It is commonsense to consider all options and I encourage people to do so. The way to do this is by inducement, incentives and changes, rather than by making it mandatory. Deputy Morgan is correct that people are conscious of the benefits of energy efficient homes.

Are we talking about including a requirement in the building control regulations? They are not part of the planning process per se in that they are self-certified and have to accompany a set of drawings and would not be subject to objections under the planning process. Is that a correct interpretation of this debate?

There is no such requirement for one-off housing. They are not the problem. The problem lies with the cowboys who cut costs and claim to do the job cheaper, faster and better. That is what is at issue. I support Deputy Cuffe's proposal.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 4; Níl, 8.

  • Cuffe, Ciarán.
  • McCormack, Padraic.
  • O’Dowd, Fergus.
  • Quinn, Ruairí.

Níl

  • Cregan, John.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Jackie.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • O’Connor, Charlie.
  • Roche, Dick.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 39:

In page 10, between lines 34 and 35, to insert the following:

"(2) Where a person proposes to construct a building the person shall endeavour to ensure that at least 30% of the building's space and water heating comes from alternative energy systems in the proposed buildings.".

Future provisions of Part L of the national building regulations will be the appropriate mechanism to deal with the issue the Deputy raises. If this were to be a specific, mandatory requirement, it would create real difficulties for people. Members have mentioned one-off housing, for which the amendment could cause problems. While it would be very desirable to reach the 30% level, to put the goal in mandatory form would cause very serious difficulties which would be much more severe than those caused by the Deputy's previous amendment which he described as his "wish list".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 40:

In page 10, between lines 34 and 35, to insert the following:

"(2) Where a person proposes to extend or renovate a building over 1000m2 the person shall ensure, before work commences, that due consideration has been given to the technical, environmental and economic feasibility of using alternative energy systems in the proposed building, and use of such systems has been taken into account, as far as practicable, in the proposed renovation of the building.".

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 41 and 42 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 41:

In page 11, to delete line 7 and substitute the following:

"for the proposed building,

and a study under paragraph (a) (subject to any technical requirements the Minister may specify in an approval under that paragraph that the technology must comply with) may be constituted by the employment of information technology for that purpose and the provision of the results therefrom.”.

The amendments illustrate some of the difficulties we have been discussing. They are intended to allow the use of software to help designers to assess the feasibility of alternative energy systems when designing buildings over 1,000 sq. m. A legal requirement to consider alternative energy systems will definitely require the employment of specialists. While we all have views on the matter, those views are not such as to equip us to undertake feasibility studies. The aim of the amendments is to make the implementation process as easy as possible. Implementation of the requirements set out in the directive will be onerous and problematic for designers, which state of affairs the steering group has recognised. Special arrangements must, therefore, be made to assist designers and ensure uniformity in the practices adopted. It should also be noted that among the proposals the European Union is considering is a reduction of the 1,000 sq. m. figure to 500 sq. m. We must be practical and create in the legislation we pass arrangements which are workable. In this instance, we are discussing software which will help designers to adopt a uniform approach and apply the best available technology.

The Department has obviously had a change of heart. Does deleting "a particular feasibility study for the proposed building" and leaving in the words "for the proposed building" mean it will be possible to submit in one's overall documentation an off-the-shelf, generic package which could apply to any building over 1,000 sq. m?

Deputy Quinn has hit the nail on the head in using the word "generic". The European Union recognised specifically that even though it was setting the bar at 1,000 sq. m., difficulties would be created. Rather than have a specific study for each building, it is, therefore, possible to adopt a more generic approach. The use of the software will ensure a common system operates. While I do not wish to rehash old boiled eggs, it will be difficult, but the provisions recognise this. The provisions have the benefit of creating a consistent approach which will apply in all cases.

While one can employ all the theories one wants, what matters to the consumer is whether a building meets certain energy efficiency standards. When one buys a car, one reads in the advertising brochure what mileage it should achieve per gallon, but what is important is what mileage it delivers in practice. The same is true of buildings. I am not completely clear what methodology the Minister intends to use to provide energy performance certificates for buildings. The preferred option is to find out what the performance of buildings is in practice, which is why I propose to amend the provision by adding the words "to ensure the building meets certain minimum energy efficiency standards".

We are on amendment No. 41 in the name of the Minister. I am not sure to what amendment Deputy Cuffe is referring.

I am sorry, Chairman. I was referring to amendment No. 43.

We will come to that amendment shortly. I did not realise that was the amendment to which the Deputy was referring.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 42:

In page 11, line 10, after "person" to insert the following:

"(who may employ appropriate information technology for that purpose)".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 43:

In page 11, to delete from "(1) A person" in line 15 down to and including "production." in line 30 and substitute the following:

"(1) A person who constructs a building of a prescribed class construction of which commenced on or after such date as may be prescribed for the purposes of this subsection shall, before such building is occupied for the first time, ensure that the building meets certain minimum energy efficiency standards and secure a building energy rating certificate (hereafter in this section referred to as a 'BER certificate') in relation to the building and shall produce such certificate—

(a) where the construction of the building was commissioned by another person, to that person, and

(b) to the building control authority in whose functional area the building is situated, on demand being made by that authority for its production.”.

I will not repeat what I have just said. My aim is simply to ensure buildings meet certain minimum energy efficiency standards. We must be sure they meet standards in practice as well as in theory.

The Deputy seeks to introduce an additional requirement that relevant buildings meet certain minimum efficiency standards. His proposal goes beyond the building energy rating provisions. Part L which sets out a separate legal requirement contains our national building regulations and constitutes a way to conserve fuel and energy. Future adjustments to Part L will be a more appropriate way to achieve the Deputy's goal than amending the Bill. Part L is due for review in 2008. We are already halfway through it.

I worry that the Minister is putting the matter on the long finger. We have spoken about the number of completions every year. As time passes, it will be seen that we will have lost an amazing opportunity. Some countries five times the size of Ireland do not have the same rate of residential output in a given year. The time to do this is now. The Minister cannot shut the stable door once the horse has bolted and homes have been built.

The problem is, as the Deputy says, that some countries five times the size of Ireland do not build at the same rate. If we were to introduce a series of mandatory requirements, we could stop the building rate very rapidly, causing difficulties for many. To suggest halfway through the life cycle of Part L that something should be done every year would give rise to practical difficulties. The Deputy is an architect by training and knows the difficulties people encounter in keeping up. If we were to start shoving in more and more mandatory requirements, we would cause serious problems in the real world. It is fine to talk in theory, but in practice we have something more important to do.

Can we cool this down a little? The Deputies on this side are all living in the real world also. We have approached the legislation with a constructive approach. The people ultimately living in the real world are those living in poorly constructed houses who face substantial gas and electricity price increases. The Minister recommends a particular approach. A rose by any other name is the desired result. Why do we have to wait until 2008 for Part L revisions? Can they not be brought forward? Even if they are, they will only apply to new construction, which means a further gestation period of two to three years. I do not know what constraints there are in the Department which I realise is under great pressure, but is it possible to bring forward revisions from 2008?

The norm has been to operate the requirements for five-year periods. There would be a practical restraint in doing it more frequently. I do not disagree with the Deputy. We are all trying to achieve the same goal. However, we have a responsibility to an industry which is already under strain in its technical capacity to keep abreast of the current level of output. I am not sure anything legally constrains us from carrying out a review more quickly. The EU directives generally specify that it is done every five years. Deputy Quinn's point is that one could make it more frequent than that.

Again, the European norm relates to housing and construction output that is a fraction of ours. This is Deputy Cuffe's point. I suspect some sections of the construction industry would welcome a managed slowdown so they can sustain the output and maintain quality. Large sections of the delay in construction are in the capacity of the local authority to process applications. These are complex areas. We are not normal in the EU. The Government likes to trumpet the fact that we have twice the economic growth rate of the EU and boasts that as a badge of honour. We cannot throw out that logic and adopt the EU norm of every five years because, happily, we are not normal. We have much catching up to do. This is permanent construction, and once built, it has implications.

The Deputy made a fair point. The next priority will be Part M and disability where we have much catching up to do. Part L is due for review. Nothing is legally preventing us from doing it earlier and in the context of the Green Paper some changes will be made. That is already mentioned in the Green Paper.

The Government is anxious to do anything that it can but we must be practical, particularly as we are attempting to incorporate amendments into legislation. We must ensure we do not produce the kind of bureaucracy against which Deputy Cuffe has rightly spoken, where people are thinking of reasons not to make decisions rather than getting on with making them. This goes beyond the EU directive.

We are transposing the directive and discussing some of the elements within it. While there is no harm in that, we must be practical. I have already mentioned that if we adopt this suite of amendments we will have a problem. Most people seeking to build a house are conscious of high energy costs and the need for insulation and examining the alternatives. One could find a situation in which a person is told his or her planning application will not be processed because he or she has not done a certain assessment. Desirable as the objectives may be, we have a responsibility not to incorporate wish lists into legislation. Legislation must be firm and focused.

I want to change the ethos of the construction industry. I do not doubt that there are many reputable construction firms ensuring that every slab of insulation is put in place perfectly, that there are no cold bridges, that cavities are closed, and which deal with the nitty gritty. However, I have seen sites where there are gaps in the insulation and air gaps. I have been in show houses and show apartments where there is a roaring gale coming through the ceiling. These issues must be tackled and this can be done only by sending a clear message that it is unacceptable, that the "as built" construction needs to meet stronger, clearer requirements. The beauty of this is that it is a level playing field. It brings everybody up. It does not discriminate against one construction firm or method over another. Everybody has to pull up their socks. That is what I seek.

I have not met anybody who has looked me in the eye and said we should not do this, except for the Minister. His message is to go slow, be careful and practical. The same arguments were used during the civil rights movement in the 1960s. People said they should hesitate to change, defer it, do it in five years. The Minister should look at what is happening in the world. Energy prices are sky-rocketing. The requirement to halt climate change is becoming clearer every day. Now is the time for the Minister to leave his mark on the legislation and raise standards, not next year or the year after. There is no compelling reason, other than some odd bureaucratic quirk, that we should do this only every five years. There is no reason not to do it, and there are many compelling reasons, as Deputy Quinn pointed out, to do it now while output is so high.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 44:

In page 11, to delete lines 31 to 47 and substitute the following:

"(2) A person who offers for sale or letting (whether in writing or otherwise)—

(a) a building construction of which commenced on or after such date as may be prescribed for the purposes of this paragraph (in subsection (4) referred to as a ‘new building’), or

(b) a building that is in existence on or before such date as may be prescribed for the purposes of this paragraph, and any agent acting on behalf of such person in connection with such offering, shall ensure that the building meets certain minimum energy efficiency standards and produce a BER certificate in relation to the building to any person expressing an interest in purchasing or taking a letting of the building and, on demand, to the building control authority in whose functional area the building is situated,

and any agent acting on behalf of such person in connection with such offering, shall produce a BER certificate in relation to the building to any person expressing an interest in purchasing or taking a letting of the building and, on demand, to the building control authority in whose functional area the building is situated.".

We have said everything that should be said. If a building energy rating is required under Article 7 of the directive, separate from the required minimum building energy efficiency standards, then the latter requirement is more appropriate to Part L. We have already discussed that issue. Building energy rating gives the consumer information about the energy performance of buildings to inform consumer choice. This is different from setting and enforcing performance standards. While we all wish for these standards, we must be careful before making them mandatory in law. I am not disposed to accepting the amendment.

I am disappointed. The publication of the national climate change strategy in 2000 was a false dawn. It contained great recommendations about examining tax benefits for buildings that met higher energy performance standards. All kinds of good ideas were suggested, but all we are doing here is complying with the bare minimum of a European directive rather than showing leadership on the issue. I wish to press the amendment.

I disagree with Deputy Cuffe. As he knows, we are transposing a directive and implementing a series of policies to achieve the objectives set out in that and other documents which the Government published.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 45:

In page 11, line 36, to delete "in subsection (4)" and substitute "in subsection (5)".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 46:

In page 11, between lines 47 and 48, to insert the following:

"(3) A public body shall, in relation to a building occupied by it with a total useful floor area exceeding 1,000 square metres—

(a) construction of which commenced on or after such a date as may be prescribed, or

(b) that is in existence on or before such date as may be prescribed, secure and display a BER certificate in relation to the building in a prominent place clearly visible to the public.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 47:

In page 11, to delete line 48 and substitute the following:

"(4) Different dates may be prescribed for the".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 48:

In page 12, to delete line 1 and substitute the following:

"(5) Where a new building of a prescribed class".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 49:

In page 12, line 18, to delete "letting, or to" and substitute "letting, to".

Amendments Nos. 45 to 52, inclusive, clarify the provisions of section 5, which transposes the directive. The most important amendments require any person issuing a building rating certificate to have successfully completed a training course to be prescribed in regulations, which will be made by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. I will prescribe only courses that meet specified standards drawn up in consultation with the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland and the Further Education and Training Awards Council.

The other amendments of interest allow the use of software, which I have already mentioned, which will assist designers in a complex issue. While we all know the theory, the practice is complex for some of the reasons Deputy Cuffe mentioned such as quality of insulation and finish. Sustainable Energy Ireland will make the software available free of charge by the end of November. A public body, which I did not mention, is defined for the purposes of the requirement that the building energy rating certificate must be displayed in public service buildings over 1,000 sq. m.

That is a requirement of the energy performance directive. The definition is based on the Disability Act 2005 which makes the same point. I reiterate that we are making good progress in transposing what is a landmark and complex directive. At the end of January last Ireland was one of only ten of the 25 EU members states that had notified any transposition measures to the European Commission. Notwithstanding the negative points made by Deputy Cuffe, we are to the fore in this regard. Three fifths of EU member states have not notified any transposition measures to Brussels; to suggest, therefore, that we are lethargic or behind in the game is simply false.

One of the biggest transposition challenges for all member states is to develop the technical methodologies, software and certification processes, which is not a simple matter. It must be done in a practical way. I acknowledge that work has been done by a variety of public agencies, including SEI, in organising and providing the necessary technical backing to introduce this measure. However, it is one matter to introduce law, but quite another to introduce the underpinning measures to support it. That is what we are doing.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 50:

In page 12, to delete lines 22 to 35 and substitute the following:

"(6) In this section—

‘building energy rating certificate' or ‘BER certificate' means a certificate respecting the rating of a building according to its energy performance that is—

(a) in a prescribed form and contains prescribed information,

(b) issued by a person who has successfully completed a prescribed training course, and

(c) accompanied by a report, prepared by the foregoing person, containing recommendations on how the energy performance of the building may be improved in a cost-effective manner,

and the reference to a provisional such certificate is a reference to such a certificate respecting the rating of the relevant building according to its energy performance based on the plans for the building's construction referred to in subsection (5) (a);

‘public body' means—

(a) a Department of State,

(b) the Office of the President,

(c) the Office of the Attorney General,

(d) the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General,

(e) the Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas,

(f) a local authority,

(g) the Health Service Executive,

(h) a person, body or organisation (other than the Defence Forces) established—

(i) by or under any enactment (other than the Companies Acts), or

(ii) under the Companies Acts, in pursuance of powers conferred by or under another enactment, and financed wholly or partly, whether directly or indirectly, by means of moneys provided, or loans made or guaranteed, by a Minister of the Government or shares held by or on behalf of a Minister of the Government.".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 51:

In page 12, to delete line 36 and substitute the following:

"(7) The fee (if any) charged by a person".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 52:

In page 12, line 37, to delete "subsection (5)(b)” and substitute “subsection (6)(b)”.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 5, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 6.

Amendments Nos. 53 to 59, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 53:

In page 12, line 44, to delete "Section 7(1)" and substitute "Section 7".

This and the other amendments to which the Chairman referred are drafting amendments, advised by the Parliamentary Counsel.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 54:

In page 12, between lines 44 and 45, to insert the following:

"(a) in subsection (1)—”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 55:

In page 12, to delete line 45 and substitute the following:

"(i) in paragraph (c), by substituting “approval, or” for”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 56:

In page 12, to delete line 47 and substitute the following:

"(ii) by inserting the following paragraphs after paragraph (c):”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 57:

In page 13, line 2, to delete "certificate,"." and substitute "certificate,", and".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 58:

"(b) in subsection (3), by deleting paragraph (c).”.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 6, as amended, agreed to.
NEW SECTION.

I move amendment No. 59:

In page 13, before section 7, to insert the following new section:

"7.—The Act of 1990 is amended by inserting the following after section 7:

7A.—(1) Subject to the approval of the Minister, An Bord Pleanála (hereafter in this section referred to as ‘the Board') may determine that fees shall be payable in relation to appeals under section 7 and, subject to subsection (2), such a fee so determined shall be paid to the Board by the person making the appeal under section 7 at such time as the Board specifies.

(2) The power of the Board in relation to fees referred to in subsection (1) includes a power of the Board—

(a) to determine that different such fees shall be payable in respect of different classes of appeal under section 7,

(b) to exempt a person from the requirement to pay any such fee in such circumstances as it determines, and

(c) to remit or refund in whole or in part any such fee that has been paid in such circumstances as it determines,

and the exercise of the power under paragraph (b) or (c) (as distinct from the determination of the circumstances in which the power shall be exercisable) shall not require the approval of the Minister.

(3) The Board shall review the fees determined under subsection (1) from time to time, but at least every three years, having regard to any change in the consumer price index since the determination of the fees for the time being in force, and may amend the fees to reflect the results of that review, without the necessity of the Minister's approval under subsection (1).

(4) For the purposes of this section, ‘change in the consumer price index' means the difference between the All Items Consumer Price Index Number last published by the Central Statistics Office before the date of the determination under this section and the said number last published before the date of the review under subsection (3), expressed as a percentage of the last-mentioned number.

(5) Where the Board determines or amends fees in accordance with this section, it shall give notice of the fees in at least one newspaper circulating in the State, not less than 8 weeks before the fees come into effect.

7B.—The Minister shall be deemed always to have had the power to make the regulations under section 3 of the European Communities Act 1972 entitled the ‘European Communities (Energy Performance of Buildings) Regulations 2005' (S.I. No. 872 of 2005) and, accordingly—

(a) the amendment of section 3(2) purported to have been made by those Regulations shall be deemed to have been validly made and to have been in operation as and from the date those Regulations were purported to have been made, and

(b) the Building Regulation (Amend-ment) Regulations 2005 (S.I. No. 873 of 2005) made in the purported exercise of the powers conferred by sections 3 and 18 shall be deemed to have been validly made and to have been in operation as and from the time that those Regulations provided that those Regulations were to come into operation.”.”.

At present, fees payable to An Bord Pleanála for determining appeals under the Building Control Act are set by regulations made by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. I propose to give An Bord Pleanála a measure of independence in fixing fees, based on a model set out in section 144 of the Planning and Development Act 2000. I have set the initial appeal fee. An Bord Pleanála will be required to review this fee every three years and will be empowered to make the necessary adjustments, in line with inflation, as measured by the CPI, without having to seek prior approval. The amendment proposes a modification of the current system which it is prudent to mention now.

Amendment agreed to.
SECTION 7.

I move amendment No. 60:

In page 13, line 20, after "to" to insert "the Circuit Court or".

This amendment was suggested by our parliamentary adviser and would substitute the High Court for the Circuit Court.

The amendment is to allow the use of the High Court. Is that correct?

It would give the citizen the choice of going to the Circuit Court or the High Court. As it was suggested by a lawyer, it would probably not benefit the legal profession.

The argument is that the High Court is normally the place where such issues would be resolved. That court certainly has powers specified in a number of planning areas. Citizens do not have the choice of A or B in this. If the Deputy bears with me, there should be a more coherent-----

The note I have on the amendment states it is designed to save legal costs, something we should strive for at all times. It seems appropriate to give a jurisdiction to the Circuit Court, rather than the High Court, to restrain those in breach of the Building Control Act. I am happy to allow the Department to examine the amendment more closely. We can revisit it at a later date.

I see the point the Deputy is making and it is worth further consideration. I ask him to revert to the matter on Report Stage. I will examine the amendment in the interim.

I thank the Minister for that assurance.

I see that it relates to the issue of costs.

It is purely concerned with costs, yes.

I may have initially misinterpreted the basis of the amendment. Unless there are coherent reasons to do otherwise, in which case I will revert to the Deputy, I can see the positive benefits of doing as the amendment proposes.

It would give people a choice, rather than prescribing which court they should use.

Yes. I will examine the issue further and revert to the Deputy on Report Stage.

I thank the Minister.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 7 agreed to.
Sections 8 and 9 agreed to.
SECTION 10.

I move amendment No. 61:

In page 14, subsection (1), line 18, after "Part" to insert the following:

"provided that the Institute shall establish procedures to ensure a separation between the performance of its regulatory functions under this Act and of its existing representative functions, and shall ensure that the regulatory functions are performed independently by the Admissions Board and are not subject to the influence, direction or control of any other authority within the Institute".

This amendment deals with the separation of procedures.

It relates to the registration of architects.

We had a discussion about this and the view is that we have already achieved the purpose sought by the Deputy. It is unnecessary to press this amendment because its purpose has been achieved. We are at a loss to understand it. It may be that matters have moved faster than its proposer was aware but the objective has been achieved.

I appreciate that there have been good, open channels of communication with civic society concerning this matter. Since we spoke on Second Stage, there has been a number of proposed changes and amendments. As the Minister's own amendments came to us rather late in the day, there may be an overlap in terms of what appears on the Order Paper.

That is the point. I will give the Deputy a note which indicates this. Some of the amendments we have yet to discuss cover the same ground. The people from civic society to whom the Deputy has been speaking framed a view at a particular point in time but events have caught up with them in the interim. I have no problem with the principle proposed in the Deputy's amendment but believe it has already been achieved in the legislation. I will ensure the matter is re-examined and if the Deputy's objective has not been achieved, we can return to it at a later date. However, he may see that the requirement in the amendment has been satisfied.

The primary objective of the amendment, at the time of its drafting, was to establish the principle of a Chinese wall within the institute to ensure the activities it engaged in would not inform, impinge on or distort the proposed new set of activities. That is not a difficulty.

On a broader point, I reiterate that we have all cleared our decks to try to complete Committee Stage today. That is my objective. Therefore, I will co-operate fully in terms of contributions, timing and interventions to facilitate its completion, but only if it is clearly understood that there will be a requirement for dialogue between now and Report Stage. We will try, in so far as is possible, without damaging the Oireachtas, to produce something with which we could all live on Report Stage.

I hereby give the Deputy an undertaking that we will do so. This amendment was not included in the grouping list we received last night, which is why we appear to be rather imprecise in our response. It has already been dealt with. We will clarify the matter over the next few hours and come back to the Deputy. If something further needs to be done to create the Chinese wall, I will listen to any argument on that.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 95, 110, 112, 121, 138, 142, 145, 150, 166, 171 and 174 are related to amendment No. 62 and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 62:

In page 14, subsection (5), lines 32 and 33, to delete all words from and including", appointed" in line 32 down to and including "Minister" in line 33 and substitute the following:

"who shall be appointed as chairperson by the Minister".

In March, the Competition Authority report on architects recommended that to increase the transparency of the independence of the chairperson, he or she should be appointed by the Minister rather than by the registration body, with the consent of the Minister, as originally proposed in the Bill.

I have decided to accept this recommendation. I propose appropriate amendments to the relevant sections of the Bill, and that is why there are so many amendments being discussed together. They provide for the appointment by the Minister of the chairpersons of the admissions board, the technical assessment board, the professional conduct committee and the appeals board. The Bill assigns a limited role to the registration bodies, including the RIAI.

The registration eligibility criteria are defined in the Bill and will not be set by the registration body. All key decisions are not made by the registration body but by the appropriate admissions board, technical assessment board and professional conduct committee. There is a safeguard of a right of appeal against all such decisions to an appeals board, and ultimately to the High Court.

All the boards and committees will have a majority of lay representation, that is, from outside the register of building professionals involved. They will be independently chaired, either by a retired judge or a person of legal standing. Deputy Cuffe referred to his concerns about self-regulation. This addresses all those concerns. It is pity, having made the point he did not stay to listen to the response.

While confirming the decision of the RIAI as a registration body, I made a firm commitment that other detailed recommendations made in the Competition Authority report should be considered on Committee Stage. I now propose some important amendments to honour that commitment. I will outline and extend on them when we come to the relevant amendments.

This flows from the report of the Competition Authority in March of this year. If some consideration is given to the set of amendments, they can be seen as being wise. To use Deputy Quinn's own words, it helps to create that sense of a wall. I do not think there would have been any great harm done the other way, but this makes much sense. In future, it will mean the independence of these individual boards will not be thought of as simply being the weaker self-regulation, to use Deputy Cuffe's phrase. There is a good involvement of people outside the professions here, and everybody will gain from that.

I am happy to proceed, with the caveat that when I read the report, I will decide if I concur. I must admit I am not sure I follow the internecine links of all of this,

That is as fair a way of putting it as possible. To be fair to Deputy Quinn, we are in complex enough territory. Basically the amendments provide that the Minister of the day will appoint the chairperson.

I welcome that principle, and it goes to the heart of many concerns. We might reflect on how the consultation process operates. Clearly, appointments can be made in different ways and the Minister can consult the interested parties. I do not suggest we prescribe that, as we have done with An Bord Pleanála, but it should be done in the spirit of the way this legislation has evolved. It should be done to meet the legitimate concerns not just of the Competition Authority but of other practitioners who for different reasons do not want to be associated with the RIAI but want to continue practising as architects. As citizens of the republic they should be allowed to exercise the right. The Minister has gone a long way towards meeting that concern.

That is a very fair point. I am grateful to the Deputy for making it in those terms. There has been an ongoing issue for generations, and we are trying to come to an equitable solution that will keep the public interest, as well as every other interest, in focus. We have achieved that.

If the Deputy, having further time to consider it, wishes to make a further point I will be more than willing to listen.

There are time pressures on all of us, and when we get to the floor of the House on Report Stage it may be too late to act. In fairness to the Minister and his colleagues, with his permission I might submit informally some of the thoughts I have. I do not wish to exclude any other colleague, but if we can negotiate those in advance-----

I am willing to do that.

The objective is to get the best possible outcome.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 10, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 11.

Amendments Nos. 63 to 69, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 63:

In page 15, subsection (2)(a)(I), lines 3 and 4, to delete all words from and including “has” in line 3 down to and including “examination” in line 4 and substitute the following:

"has passed a professional practice examination specified by the body referred to in subparagraph (i), (ii) or (iii), as the case may be”.

The Bill as published proposed that professional practice examinations should be prescribed, which would normally mean prescribed in regulations made by the Minister. Deputies will agree that it would be more appropriate for such examinations to be prescribed by the relevant third-level institutions. I propose suitable amendments, starting with section 11. It is not appropriate for the Minister to prescribe examination formats.

The Bill provides for automatic right of registration of fellows or members of the RIAI. One amendment restricts this right to those who are RIAI fellows or members on the date of the passing of the Act. This amendment was recommended by the Competition Authority in its March report. This means future RIAI fellows or members will generally be required to show they possess an architectural degree and have passed the professional practice examination.

This is also consistent with the general principle that eligibility criteria for registration are set in this Bill or by regulations made by the Minister, and not set by the RIAI as the registration body.

Another amendment provides for the recognition of the educational qualifications of a citizen of a third country, whose educational qualifications are not recognised on foot of agreements between the EU and the European Economic Area of the Swiss Confederation or the World Trade Organisation. That is a fairly normal approach.

I want to clarify a point with regard to amendment No. 67 subsection (2)(g)(i) which says “has been awarded in a state, other than a Member State or a state which is a member of the World Trade Organisation, a degree, diploma or other qualification in architecture, and”. The concern I have is that there is a limbo between member states of the European Union and the WTO. There is another category of states that are either candidate states or applicant states, such the Ukraine and Russia. There are quite a number of people participating in the construction industry here with qualifications from those countries. What is the effect of that fairly tight definition of member state or WTO? Does it exclude people from the Ukraine or Belarus, for example, who work here?

Non-WTO countries are covered in a separate section.

I will take the Minister's word for it.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 64:

In page 15, subsection (2), line 12, to delete paragraph (b) and substitute the following:

"(b) a person who is a fellow or member of the registration body on the date of the passing of this Act;”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 65:

In page 15, subsection (2)(e), lines 23 and 24, to delete all words from and including “who” in line 23 down to and including “section” in line 24 and substitute the following:

"(who is eligible for registration under this section)".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 66:

In page 15, subsection (2)(e), lines 27 to 33, to delete all words from and including “equivalent” in line 27 down to and including “examination;” in line 33 and substitute the following:

"equivalent to any degree, diploma or qualification referred to in paragraph (a) and who has passed a professional practice examination specified by a body referred to in subparagraph (i), (ii) or (iii) of that paragraph;”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 67:

In page 15, subsection (2), between lines 39 and 40, to insert the following:

"(g) a person (not being a person who is eligible for registration pursuant to section 12 or 13) who—

(i) has been awarded in a state, other than a Member State or a state which is a member of the World Trade Organisation, a degree, diploma or other qualification in architecture, and

(ii) can demonstrate that he or she has sufficient post-graduate experience of performing duties commensurate with those of an architect;".

This amendment covers the specific question asked earlier by Deputy Quinn on non-WTO criteria.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 68:

In page 15, subsection (2)(g), to delete line 43 and substitute the following:

"provided under section 19;

(h) an Irish citizen who as attested by a certificate of the registration body is authorised by the registration body to use the title of “architect” by virtue of the distinguished quality of his or her work in the field of architecture (which authorisation the registration body is empowered, by virtue of this paragraph, to grant).”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 69:

In page 15, between lines 43 and 44, to insert the following subsection:

"(3) The registration body may accept as sufficient compliance by a person with subsection (2)(a)(II) a statutory declaration by the person that he or she possesses the experience referred to in that provision.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 128 and 156 are cognate with amendment No. 70 and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 70:

In page 16, subsection (5), line 12, to delete "of Ireland." and substitute the following:

"of Ireland or the Higher Education and Training Awards Council as appropriate.".

This amendment requires the Minister to consult the Higher Education and Training Awards Council in addition to the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland in prescribed qualifications to be recognised for the entitlement to register as architect, quantity surveyor or building surveyor. It is more appropriate that the Minister should consult the appropriate awarding bodies rather than be effectively in isolation in determining these issues.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 71:

In page 16, subsection (6), lines 14 and 15, to delete all words from and including "who" in line 14 down to and including "Environment" in line 15 and substitute the following:

"whom the Minister had proposed to certify".

This is a technical amendment.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 11, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 12.

Amendments Nos. 72 to 78, inclusive, 80 and 84 are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 72:

In page 16, subsection (1), between lines 44 and 45, to insert the following:

"(c) a national of a Member State who has been awarded in a Member State a qualification that the State, pursuant to a relevant measure, is obliged to recognise as corresponding to a qualification referred to in section 11(2);”.

This amendment provide for the recognition of architectural qualifications awarded in other EU member states on foot of mutual recognition agreements between the EU, the EEA, the Swiss Confederation and the WTO. The remaining amendments are drafting changes.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 73:

In page 17, subsection (1), between lines 7 and 8, to insert the following:

"(e) a national or resident of a state who, by virtue of the following agreement, is entitled to have his or her qualifications in the field of architecture recognised in the State, namely, an agreement that—

(i) is entered into between the European Union and the World Trade Organisation, and

(ii) provides for the recognition by the states to which the agreement relates of qualifications of a class specified in the agreement;".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 74:

In page 17, subsection (1)(e), lines 9 and 10, to delete “paragraph (a), (b), (c)or (d)” and substitute “any of the preceding paragraphs”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 75:

In page 17, subsection (2), line 32, before "may" to insert the following:

"(other than paragraph (e) thereof)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 76:

In page 17, subsection (3), line 37, after "subsection (1)” to insert the following:

" (other than paragraph (e) thereof)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 77:

In page 17, subsection (4), line 40, before "or" to insert the following:

"(other than paragraph (e) thereof)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 78:

In page 17, subsection (5), line 47, before "as" to insert the following:

"(other than paragraph (e) thereof)”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 79, 82, 130 and 158 are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 79:

In page 17, subsection (5), lines 49 to 52, to delete all words from and including "of" in line 49 down to and including "subsection (3)” in line 52 and substitute the following:

"of the completed documentation by the applicant to the Board".

These are technical amendments that clarify the timescale for the assessment of completed documentation from applicants for registration from other countries under EU Directive 2005/36/EC, the recognition of professional qualifications.

Does the amendment delete the three-month provision?

No, it is from the date of completed application. It clarifies when the clock starts ticking for the three months.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 12, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 13.
Amendment No. 80 not moved.

Amendments Nos. 81, 83, 85, 86, 107, 129, 131, 133, 134, 140, 157, 159, 161, 162 and 169 are cognate and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 81:

In page 19, subsection (10)(b), line 7, to delete “prepaid post” and substitute “prepaid registered post”.

These are technical amendments which propose to provide consistency that all registration-related decisions must be sent to the person affected by registered post.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 82:

In page 19, subsection (11), lines 14 to 17, to delete all words from and including "of the" in line 14 down to and including "subsection (7)” in line 17 and substitute the following:

"of the completed documentation by the applicant to the Board".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 83:

In page 19, subsection (12), line 21, after "sent" to insert ", by prepaid registered post,".

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 84 not moved.
Section 13, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 14.

I move amendment No. 85:

In page 19, subsection (2), line 30, after "prepaid" to insert "registered".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 86:

In page 19, subsection (2), line 35, after "by" to insert "prepaid".

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 87, 195 and 198 are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 87:

In page 19, between lines 46 and 47, to insert the following subsection:

"(5) In this section, "specified", means fees which have been specified by the registration body with the agreement of the Minister.".

This amendment seeks to clarify that the term "specified" means the fees are agreed between the registration body and the Minister. It is to ensure the body cannot charge whatever it likes which could be seen as anti-competitive and exclusionary.

This is captured in an amendment to section 58 which provides that all registration-related fees must be approved by the Director of Consumer Affairs.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 14, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 15.

Amendments Nos. 88 to 92, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 88:

In page 19, subsection (1), line 47, to delete "A person" and substitute

"Subject to subsections (3) and (4), a person”.

I received representation from several individuals and bodies, including the Competition Authority, that the restriction of the use of title "architect" to properly qualified persons could inadvertently restrict their legitimate use of long-established titles including "architect" and "architectural". To prevent that unintended result, this amendment will allow the continued lawful use of such titles as, for example, "landscape architect", "naval architect", "architectural technician", "architectural technologist" or "interior design architect". The word "architect" used in these contexts has a different meaning to that in the Bill. The list of titles I have outlined may not be exhaustive. I am proposing to provide for the lawful use of other similar titles by way of regulations.

I will withdraw my amendments. Amendment No. 92 covers it in a comprehensive and coherent way.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 89 to 91, inclusive, not moved

I move amendment No. 92:

In page 20, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following subsection:

"(4) The use by a person of the words—

(a) “landscape architect”,

(b) “naval architect”,

(c) “architectural technician”,

(d) “architectural technologist”,

(e) “interior design architect”, or

(f) such other words as may be prescribed,

to describe himself or herself does not, in and of itself, constitute a contravention of subsection (1).”.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 15, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 16.

Amendments Nos. 93, 135 and 163 are related and will be taken together.

I move amendment No. 93:

In page 21, subsection (6), line 5, after "cause" to insert "a copy of".

I am interested in the Minister's response to this in light of the amendments that have been accepted.

Sections 16, 30 and 44 require that when a registrant receives a certificate of registration from the registrar, the certificate will be displayed in the office where the person practises architecture. It is only right that the original authentic certificate should be displayed, as is the case with medical practitioners. There are good and practical reasons for this.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 16 agreed to.
Section 17 agreed to.
SECTION 18.

Amendments Nos. 94, 96, 98, 99, 100 to 103, inclusive, 106, 108, 109, 117, 118 and 208 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 94:

In page 21, subsection (2)(a), line 47, after “body” to insert the following:

", at least two of whom shall be architects in practice".

I have difficulty in understanding why a qualified architect who does not practise or has ceased to practise should be excluded from appointment to the board by the registration body. That may be unnecessarily restrictive. I can think of many architects who have ceased to practise for various reasons, perhaps ill health, and I do not believe we should exclude them from appointment to the board. It may be that I am misreading the intention of the amendment but that would be its effect.

This registration process will deal with people practising architecture as distinct from people who qualified as architects. The practice has evolved considerably and current requirements are quite different from those which applied ten or 15 years ago. A person without direct experience may not have as deep an understanding of those obligations and requirements.

A number of people qualify as architects and I am sure there will be more. The amendment seeks to maintain focus on the purpose of the registration body and the certification and related processes seek to ensure the enablement of people properly capable of practising architecture to do so from the point of view of maintaining standards and protecting the consumer. That is the thrust of the proposal. While it is restrictive, I do not believe recently retired architects would be covered by this in practice. It may be necessary to revisit this matter on Report Stage.

The Fine Gael thinking on this issue is similar. The Minister stated the provision as drafted excluded retired architects. However, that is not true because the subsection provides that "....at least two of whom shall be architects in practice". This leaves room for the appointment of one retired person. It is felt it would be better to engage persons who have an up-to-date knowledge of the requirements to practise. It would still be possible to appoint a retired person to the board even if the amendment were accepted, given the wording of the subsection.

I forecast we may have difficulties with technical assessment boards, which will be fairly time-consuming. Given that the profession may currently be operating at a premium, some practical problems could arise. The unintentional effect of the amendment might be negative. Deputy McCormack made a reasonable point. However, the technical assessment boards will also comprise four lay nominees and an independent chairman, who will be a retired judge or lawyer. The board will also have the assistance of an expert panel. I accept the point being made but I can foresee some practical difficulties.

Perhaps the Minister could come back to us on Report Stage with a revised wording. It is always dangerous to try to deal with these matters on the floor during Committee Stage. I suggest the following wording: "at least two of whom shall be architects with experience of practice".

I will examine it further. While I accept the Deputy's point, some practical considerations arise.

Retired partners from firms might wish to serve on the board but it would be time-constraining.

That is a fair point. As Deputy Quinn stated, there may be qualified architects who have not practised for many years and who went on to distinguished academic or political careers. We do not want to exclude them either. I will take another look at this to see if we can come up with another form of words.

The Minister understands the essence of what we are trying to achieve. It is up to him and his officials to see how that can be accommodated.

The way I read it, the board will comprise a chairperson, seven ordinary members, three architects and four other persons, a total of 15 people. To request that we ensure that at least two of those people be practising architects is not unreasonable.

The Deputy is misreading it. There will be only seven members on the board.

The Bill states that the technical assessment board shall consist of a chairperson, seven ordinary members, three architects and four other persons. I understood that to mean that the three architects and four other persons were in addition to the seven ordinary members.

I do not mean to be pedantic but there will not be 15 people on the board.

In relation to the four persons who will not be architects who are to be appointed by the Minister, can we avoid the prison visitors' syndrome?

I am not a fan of prison visitors' syndrome.

We are all agreed on the need for safeguards. We have all experienced what I am speaking about. We cannot appoint just any four people off the street as this affects people's livelihoods. We must appoint people who have a background in assessing technical or professional competence, though not necessarily architects.

Deputy Quinn makes a fair point. I am not a big fan of prison visitor syndrome and never have been.

It has been abused by all of us.

I am not sure if we can include a qualification.

While we want the provision to be as wide as possible, it is, as drafted, too wide.

I support the amendment.

I think this provision may have been borrowed from another piece of legislation dealing with medical practitioners. The practice of which Deputies are speaking does not occur in that instance. I will examine this to see if we can include some further protection. I would be happy to consider any form of wording which Deputies may have in mind. I am no fan of prison visitors' syndrome and I agree with the point that this is not as simple as somebody taking a trip across the country; it is a serious matter that touches on the quality of architecture and on people's professions. I will re-examine the Act from which this is borrowed because I do not believe any abuse has been inferred in that regard.

The building industry is a much wider industry than the medical sector. The desire to get into the building industry would be greater than it would be on the medical side. While we must put in place safeguards, they should not be too restrictive.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 95:

In page 22, subsection (3), lines 3 and 4, to delete all words from and including ", appointed" in line 3 down to and including "Minister" in line 4 and substitute the following:

"who shall be appointed as chairperson by the Minister".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 96:

In page 22, between lines 4 and 5, to insert the following subsections:

"(4) The Technical Assessment Board shall establish a panel of architects being architects who the Board considers possess the requisite expertise for the purpose of performing the functions assigned to members of the panel under subsection (5).

(5) The Technical Assessment Board shall, in respect of each application under section 19, appoint not less than 3 of the members of the panel established under subsection (4) to—

(a) examine the documents furnished to the Board under subsection (2) of that section (and any additional information furnished to it under subsection (3) of that section),

(b) interview the applicant, and

(c) give to the Board their opinion as to whether the applicant is eligible for registration pursuant to that section.”.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 18, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 19.

Amendments Nos. 97, 139 and 168 are cognate and will be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 97:

In page 22, subsection (1), line 10, to delete "the passing of this Act" and substitute "the commencement of this section".

This proposal seeks to ensure the satisfactory implementation of the legislation. It relates to time phasing of which I spoke earlier. The Minister may have made changes elsewhere in the legislation. I do not know if provision exists to introduce certain sections by regulation, but the intention was to deal with people with day jobs who wish to make applications.

I discussed the matter yesterday with my officials. I share the Deputy's view on the deletion of "the passing of the Act" and substitution with "the commencement of the section". Overnight, officials checked to see if the amendment would have unforeseen consequences, barring which I am inclined to accept it. It would be better to withdraw the amendment now and reintroduce it on Report Stage.

I accept the Minister's undertaking.

The Deputy's proposal makes sense.

All I ask is that the Department proofread the amendment to ensure it does not have an adverse effect somewhere else.

It does not appear there would be unforeseen consequences. If the Deputy moves the amendment on Report Stage, I will accept it. I do not see how there could be a problem.

I would be happy to see the Minister introduce the amendment in his own name.

We will do that.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 98:

In page 22, subsection (3), to delete line 32 and substitute the following:

"considers it necessary; such an interview shall be in addition to the interview conducted by the members of the panel referred to in section 18(5) (which latter interview is subsequently referred to in this section as the “panel interview”).”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 99:

In page 22, subsection (4), line 33, after "interview" to insert "under this section".

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 100 not moved.

I move amendment No. 101:

In page 22, subsection (5), to delete lines 35 and 36 and substitute the following:

"(5) The panel interview and any interview under this section shall each be recorded in writing or in such other form as the members of the panel concerned or the Technical Assessment Board, as appropriate, may decide, and additional".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 102:

In page 22, subsection (6), line 39, to delete "interview" and substitute the following:

"panel interview and any interview under this section".

Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 103 to 105, inclusive, not moved.

I move amendment No. 106:

In page 23, subsection (7), to delete line 10 and substitute the following:

"for the work could be established,

and, in addition, shall have regard to the opinion of the architects referred to in section 18(5) as to whether the applicant is eligible for registration pursuant to this section (but that opinion shall not be binding on the Board).”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 107:

In page 23, subsection (8)(b), line 20, to delete “prepaid post” and substitute “prepaid registered post”.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 108 and 109 not moved.
Section 19, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 20.

I move amendment No. 110:

In page 23, subsection (3), lines 38 and 39, to delete all words from and including ", appointed" in line 38 down to and including "Minister," in line 39 and substitute the following:

"who shall be appointed as chairperson by the Minister".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 20, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 21.

Amendments Nos. 111, 144 and 173 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 111:

In page 24, subsection (3), lines 11 and 12, to delete "a solicitor, a barrister" and substitute "a practising solicitor, a practising barrister".

The thrust of the amendment is to ensure we have someone who is up to speed with what the Minister referred to earlier as the "real world". The Minister may consider the provision restrictive. Obviously, a person aged over 70 years will not be appointed. What is the Minister's view?

The amendment would have the restrictive effect of limiting the choice in the appointment of a chairman of the appeals board to practising solicitors and barristers. I do not see why people who are qualified as solicitors and barristers but do not practise and are retired should be excluded from appointment to the chair. We will have enough problems finding people for the various boards, in which case it would be unwise to limit ourselves. Earlier, Deputy Quinn mentioned panels from which people are drawn for appointment to An Bord Pleanála. While Deputy Quinn will recall from his experience as Minister that there was warfare among people to get on panels, he will be surprised to learn that for the most recent appointments to An Bord Pleanála a significant number of nominating bodies could not come up with a single nominee. There are practical problems. I was amazed that very significant bodies involved in the building and construction industries did not come up with a single nominee. Deputy Quinn knows me well enough to know that I am not being bloody-minded or negative but think it would be unwise to restrict ourselves in the way the amendment suggests.

Given the nature of the work the body will carry out, someone with experience as a barrister or solicitor will be adequate.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 112:

In page 24, subsection (3), lines 13 and 14, to delete all words from and including ", appointed" in line 13 down to and including "Minister" in line 14 and substitute the following:

"who shall be appointed as chairperson by the Minister".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 21, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 22.

Amendments Nos. 113 to 116, inclusive, 146, 147, 175 and 176 are related and may be discussed together, by agreement.

I move amendment No. 113:

In page 24, subsection (2), line 20, to delete "2 months" and substitute "3 months".

The time limit of two months creates a reasonable period in which to lodge an appeal against a decision by the admissions board, the technical assessment board or the professional conduct committee. After all, two months is the time limit allowed to make an appeal against a decision of a planning authority which affects property rights. A standard time limit for appeals should be fixed in the Bill to provide the benefit of certainty. The limit should not be capable of variation in individual cases by the appeal board to avoid the kind of negative effect we saw yesterday of ambiguity about the date of a decision a statutory body had to make. Given the importance of certainty, two months is a reasonable period.

Sometimes an appeal may be of a very technical nature and require a considerable length of time to prepare. The amendment seeks to provide applicants with the time to prepare the very technical appeals that might prove necessary in some cases.

I agree with Deputy McCormack. Much of the work of the body will be front-loaded as a great many people who are already in the system will wish to apply very quickly to have their titles, experience and qualifications registered.

The Deputies have been very reasonable. While the arguments strongly favour a time limit of two months, I am prepared, provided it is on a level and involves the establishment of a definite period, to go to three months, which is what I think the Deputies have in mind. As the Deputies have been more than reasonable, I will agree to make such an amendment and hope the roof does not fall in.

I thank the Minister for his response, which I am sure Deputy McCormack appreciates also. Our point is that while two months is a reasonable time limit, the appeals board should be able to accommodate with a period of grace an applicant who can show specific difficulties.

It would be in exceptional cases only that a three-month period would be necessary. Provision should be made to allow the time limit to be extended to three months where a case is made that it would not be possible on technical grounds to prepare an application within two months.

That would be unwise given that two months is deemed adequate to make an approach to the High Court. If we were to permit variations, litigation would be inevitable. While the Deputies' arguments which recognise that applications are difficult and represent very important decisions for people persuade me to go to three months, I must establish certainty with respect to the date. I am quite prepared to accept amendments which extend the period to three months, but it would be unwise to create variations which could lead to legal challenges.

In that case, we should extend the period to three months to provide certainty and flexibility. I would opt for the tight timeframe of two months as the norm and for the provision of one extra month in special circumstances, thereby removing the prospect of litigation.

It would be better to opt for the three-month timeframe. If the Deputy thinks about it, he will see that every case is a special circumstance, given the individuality of cases. We might as well make it three months if we are going to provide flexibility.

The Minister is accepting the amendment.

Yes. This issue is also dealt with in amendment No. 115, which I will be accepting.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 114 not moved.
Section 22, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 23.

I move amendment No. 115:

In page 25, subsection (1), line 41, to delete "2 months" and substitute "3 months".

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 116 not moved.
Section 23, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 24.
Amendment No. 117 not moved.

I move amendment No. 118:

In page 26, subsection (1), between lines 21 and 22, to insert the following:

"or

(c) referred to in subsection (9) of section 19 and the Schedule referred to therein,”.

This amendment was discussed with amendments Nos. 108, 109 and 117 which I understood were all being withdrawn.

I reiterate that it would be unwise to set time limits for the completion of each phase of the technical assessment as set out in the Schedule. The technical assessment board is likely to receive at least 200 applications for assessment to register from older architects who do not have the requisite form of qualifications. Such applications will be grounded on work experience and portfolios. Each applicant must be carefully and fairly assessed. A time limit would undermine that process and would be unwise in the circumstances.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 119:

In page 26, subsection (2), line 26, to delete "may" and substitute "shall".

I do not know why, but we always seem to have an arid debate on the words "may" and "shall". There is a coherent argument for the amendment in this case. Insertion of a mandatory requirement, which is what this provides for, in section 24(2) in regard to action to be taken by the appeal board following a complaint under the section could give rise to some difficulties. In the circumstances, it would be better to retain the word "may".

I am not against the use of the word "may" in normal circumstances. However, the section states that on the hearing of such a complaint and having given the admissions board an opportunity to be heard, an appeals board may, if it thinks appropriate, give a direction to an admission board to make a decision or may make such decision itself. It would be far better if the board were obliged to do this. Substitution of the word "may" with "shall" would place such an obligation on the board.

Acceptance of the amendment would mean that where a vexatious or frivolous complaint arises, the board would be forced to pursue the issue even though, on the face of it, it had no value. That would be unwise. It is the cogent reason I cannot accept the amendment

Perhaps the Minister can clarify the following point for me. In retaining the word "may", is a third unspecified option available to the appeals board, namely, to do nothing?

Yes, in cases were the issue is vexatious or frivolous.

This will apply in relation to crank appeals or objections.

Yes, and unfortunately we get many of them. A person making such a complaint could cause difficulties for no coherent reason.

We have all met that type of person. The word "may" provides the board with a third option, namely, to do nothing.

It provides for a degree of flexibility. We are setting up an appeals board and providing it with the power to make important decisions affecting people's lives; we should also trust it to exercise common sense.

I want to be sure I understand this. In pursuing the matter the appeals board could write to the complainant informing him or her that having considered the matter, it feels there are no grounds for it.

I just wanted to tease that out.

That is what it means.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 24 agreed to.
SECTION 25.

Amendments Nos. 120, 137, 141, 143, 149, 165, 170 and 172 are cognate and will be taken together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 120:

In page 27, subsection (4)(a), line 5, to delete “the registration body” and substitute the following:

"the registration body following consultation with the bodies referred to in paragraphs (b), (c), (e) and (f) of section 26(2)”.

The first amendment will require the Society of Chartered Surveyors, as registration body, to consult other surveyors and organisations in making quantity or building surveyor nominations to the admissions board, the technical assessment board, the professional conduct committee and the appeals board, namely, the quantity surveying division of the Society of Chartered Surveyors, the Chartered Institute of Building, which now incorporates the architects' and surveyors' institute, the Association of Building Engineers and the Institute of Civil Engineering Surveyors.

The amendment was proposed by the Society of Chartered Surveyors with the agreement of all of the other organisations. I commend it to the House. I wish to advise members that amendments Nos. 137, 141, 143, 149, 165, 170 and 172 arise as a direct consequence of amendment No. 120.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 121:

In page 27, subsection (5), lines 10 and 11, to delete all words from and including ", appointed" in line 10 down to and including "Minister" in line 11 and substitute the following:

"who shall be appointed as chairperson by the Minister".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 25, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 26.

I move amendment No. 122:

In page 27, subsection (2)(c), line 30, to delete “or associate” and substitute “or member”.

This amendment arises from the fact that there are no associates, only members, of the Chartered Institute of Builders.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 123, 151, 152 and 167 are related and will be taken together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 123:

In page 28, subsection (2)(g), line 8, before “Architecture” to insert “the”.

These are minor technical amendments which adjust the wording by the inclusion of the definite article in a number of cases.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 124, 125 to 127, inclusive, 132 and 136 are related and will be taken together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 124:

In page 28, subsection (2)(g), line 10, to delete “Engineering Surveyors” and substitute the following:

"Engineering Surveyors and who, in each case, has at least 3 years practical experience of performing duties commensurate with those of a quantity surveyor".

I want to briefly explain the more noteworthy elements covered in these amendments. Amendment No. 124 requires the relevant surveyors to have three years' practical experience in their profession to be eligible for registration. The reference to persons holding a higher education diploma in quantity surveying is being deleted as there is no such qualification in Ireland. Provision is being made for the recognition of quantity surveyors from member states of the WTO on foot of the agreement between it and the EU, from the EEA and the Swiss Confederation and from third countries which are not members of the WTO.

The proposed right of registered quantity surveyors to become members of the Society of Chartered Surveyors will be deleted. The RIAI agrees that all registered architects should be entitled to join the RIAI and gain recognition to practise in other EU member states under the architect directive. However, an equivalent right for quantity surveyors to join the Society of Chartered Surveyors is not necessary and was not sought by those surveyors who are currently members of the surveyor organisations.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 125:

In page 28, subsection (2), lines 11 to 16, to delete paragraph (h).

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 126:

In page 28, subsection (2), between lines 19 and 20, to insert the following:

"(j) a national or resident of a state who, by virtue of the following agreement, is entitled to have his or her qualifications in the field of quantity surveying recognised in the State, namely, an agreement that—

(i) is entered into between the European Union and the World Trade Organisation, and

(ii) provides for the recognition by the states to which the agreement relates of qualifications of a class specified in the agreement;

(k) a national of a Member State who has been awarded in a Member State a qualification that the State, pursuant to a relevant measure, is obliged to recognise as corresponding to a qualification referred to in paragraph (a);

(l) a person (not being a person who is eligible for registration pursuant to section 27) who—

(i) has been awarded in a state, other than a Member State or a state which is a member of the World Trade Organisation, a degree,diploma or other qualification in quantity surveying, and

(ii) can demonstrate that he or she has sufficient post-graduate experience of performing duties commensurate with those of a quantity surveyor;".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 127:

In page 28, subsection (3), lines 25 to 27, to delete all words from and including "but" in line 25 down to and including "body" in line 27.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 128:

In page 28, subsection (5), line 39, to delete "of Ireland." and substitute the following:

"of Ireland or the Higher Education and Training Awards Council as appropriate.".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 26, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 27.

I move amendment No. 129:

In page 29, subsection (10)(b), line 44, to delete “prepaid post” and substitute “prepaid registered post”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 130:

In page 30, subsection (12), lines 7 to 10, to delete all words from and including "of the" in line 7 down to and including "subsection (7)” in line 10 and substitute the following:

"of the completed documentation by the applicant to the Board".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 131:

In page 30, subsection (13), line 14, after "sent" to insert ", by prepaid registered post,".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 132:

In page 30, between lines 17 and 18, to insert the following subsection:

"(14) The Minister may by regulations make provision for the admission of persons who hold equivalent qualifications from states other than member states of the European Union and may by regulations apply this section with necessary modifications to such persons.".

The matter is already covered by an amendment to section 27. I thank the Deputy for raising it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 27, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 28.

I move amendment No. 133:

In page 30, subsection (2), line 23, after "prepaid" to insert "registered".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 134:

In page 30, subsection (2), line 28, after "by" to insert "prepaid".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 28, as amended, agreed to.
Section 29 agreed to.
SECTION 30.

I move amendment No. 135:

In page 31, subsection (6), line 48, after "cause" to insert "a copy of".

The logic behind the amendment is that an original copy of a document has a degree of value. It may be burnt or destroyed, which is something the Minister might consider on Report Stage. It is a question of safekeeping.

If it is burnt or destroyed, one can obtain a new one, as with a degree. Where a degree or diploma is destroyed, one obtains a new one which is not a facsimile but a new copy.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 30 agreed to.
Section 31 agreed to.
SECTION 32.

I move amendment No. 136:

In page 32, subsection (1), lines 36 and 37, to delete "paragraphs (a) to (i)” and substitute “paragraphs (a) to (l)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 137:

In page 32, subsection (2)(a), line 42, to delete “the registration body” and substitute the following:

"the registration body following consultation with the bodies referred to in paragraphs (b), (c), (e) and (f) of section 26(2)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 138:

In page 32, subsection (3), lines 47 and 48, to delete all words from and including ", appointed" in line 47 down to and including "Minister" in line 48 and substitute the following:

"who shall be appointed as chairperson by the Minister".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 32, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 33.

I move amendment No. 139:

In page 33, subsection (1)(a)(ii), line 14, to delete “passing of this Act” and substitute “commencement of this section”.

While the Minister has accepted the thrust of the amendment, will he revert to the matter on Report Stage? We have dealt with architects and we are doing the surveyors. There is a degree of repetition.

We have agreed that and are looking for a formula of words.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 140:

In page 34, subsection (7)(b), line 4, to delete “prepaid post” and substitute “prepaid registered post”.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 33, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 34.

I move amendment No. 141:

In page 34, subsection (2)(a), line 13, to delete “the registration body” and substitute the following:

"the registration body following consultation with the bodies referred to in paragraphs (b), (c), (e) and (f) of section 26(2)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 142:

In page 34, subsection (3), lines 22 and 23, to delete all words from and including ", appointed" in line 22 down to and including "Minister," in line 23 and substitute the following:

"who shall be appointed as chairperson by the Minister".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 34, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 35.

I move amendment No. 143:

In page 34, subsection (2)(a), line 30, to delete “the registration body” and substitute the following:

"the registration body following consultation with the bodies referred to in paragraphs (b), (c), (e) and (f) of section 26(2)”.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 144 not moved.

I move amendment No. 145:

In page 34, subsection (3), lines 43 and 44, to delete all words from and including ", appointed" in line 43 down to and including "Minister" in line 44 and substitute the following:

"who shall be appointed as chairperson by the Minister".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 35, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment No. 146 not moved.
Section 36 agreed to.
Amendment No. 147 not moved.
Section 37 agreed to.
SECTION 38.

Amendments Nos. 148 and 177 are related and may be discussed together, by agreement.

I move amendment No. 148:

In page 36, subsection (1), line 43, to delete "section 27(12)” and substitute “subsection (12) of section 27”.

The amendment was suggested by the Parliamentary Counsel.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 38, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 39.

I move amendment No. 149:

In page 37, subsection (4)(a), line 30, to delete “the registration body” and substitute the following:

"the registration body following consultation with the bodies referred to in paragraphs (b), (c) and (e) of section 40(2)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 150:

In page 37, subsection (5), lines 35 and 36, to delete all words from and including ", appointed" in line 35 down to and including "Minister" in line 36 and substitute the following:

"who shall be appointed as chairperson by the Minister".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 39, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 40.

I move amendment No. 151:

In page 38, subsection (2)(d), line 16, to delete “Quantity” and substitute “Building”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 152:

In page 38, subsection (2)(f), line 28, after “Building,” to insert “the”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 153 to 155, inclusive, 160 and 164 are related and may be discussed together, by agreement.

I move amendment No. 153:

In page 38, subsection (2), lines 30 to 35, to delete paragraph (g).

It is proposed to delete the reference to persons holding a higher education diploma in building surveying as no such diploma is awarded in Ireland. It is also proposed to provide for the recognition of building surveyors from member states of the WTO on foot of agreements between the WTO and the EU. Further provision is made for those who come from the EEA, the Swiss Confederation and third countries which are not members of the WTO.

A further amendment deletes the proposed right of registered building surveyors to become members of the Society of Chartered Surveyors. The RIAI has agreed that all registered architects should be entitled to join the RIAI but an equivalent right for building surveyors to join the Society of Chartered Surveyors is not necessary and was not sought by the surveyors who are currently members of the surveying organisations. The provision follows the logic we applied in another instance.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 154:

In page 38, subsection (2), between lines 38 and 39, to insert the following:

"(i) a national of a Member State who has been awarded in a Member State a qualification that the State, pursuant to a relevant measure, is obliged to recognise as corresponding to a qualification referred to in paragraph (a);

(j) a national or resident of a state who, by virtue of the following agreement,is entitled to have his or her qualifications in the field of building surveying recognised in the State, namely, an agreement that—

(i) is entered into between the European Union and the World Trade Organisation, and

(ii) provides for the recognition by the states to which the agreement relates of qualifications of a class specified in the agreement;

(k) a person (not being a person who is eligible for registration pursuant to section 41) who—

(i) has been awarded in a state, other than a Member State or a state which is a member of the World Trade Organisation, a degree,diploma or other qualification in building surveying, and

(ii) can demonstrate that he or she has sufficient post-graduate experience of performing duties commensurate with those of a building surveyor;".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 155:

In page 38, subsection (3), lines 44 to 46, to delete all words from and including "but" in line 44 down to and including "body" in line 46.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 156:

In page 39, subsection (5), line 8, to delete "of Ireland." and substitute the following:

"of Ireland or the Higher Education and Training Awards Council as appropriate.".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 40, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 41.

I move amendment No. 157:

In page 40, subsection (10)(b), line 14, to delete “prepaid post” and substitute “prepaid registered post”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 158:

In page 40, subsection (12), lines 26 to 29, to delete all words from and including "of the" in line 26 down to and including "subsection (7)" in line 29 and substitute the following:

"of the completed documentation by the applicant to the Board".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 159:

In page 40, subsection (13), line 33, after "sent" to insert ", by prepaid registered post,".

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 160 not moved.
Section 41, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 42.

I move amendment No. 161:

In page 40, subsection (2), line 42, after "prepaid" to insert "registered".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 162:

In page 40, subsection (2), line 47, after "by" to insert "prepaid".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 42, as amended, agreed to.
Section 43 agreed to.
Amendment No. 163 not moved.
Section 44 agreed to.
Section 45 agreed to.
SECTION 46.

I move amendment No. 164:

In page 43, subsection (1), lines 9 and 10, to delete "paragraphs (a) to (h)” and substitute “paragraphs (a) to (i)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 165:

In page 43, subsection (2)(a), line 15, to delete “the registration body” and substitute the following:

"the registration body following consultation with the bodies referred to in paragraphs (b), (c) and (e) of section 40(2)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 166:

In page 43, subsection (3), lines 20 and 21, to delete all words from and including ", appointed" in line 20 down to and including "Minister" in line 21 and substitute the following:

"who shall be appointed as chairperson by the Minister".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 46, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 47.

I move amendment No. 167:

In page 43, subsection (1)(a)(i), lines 26 and 27, to delete “the Society of Chartered Surveyors,”.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 168 not moved.

I move amendment No. 169:

In page 44, subsection (7)(b), line 27, to delete “prepaid post” and substitute “prepaid registered post”.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 47, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 48.

I move amendment No. 170:

In page 44, subsection (2)(a), line 36, to delete “the registration body” and substitute the following:

"the registration body following consultation with the bodies referred to in paragraphs (b), (c) and (e) of section 40(2)

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 171:

In page 44, subsection (3), lines 45 and 46, to delete all words from and including ", appointed" in line 45 down to and including "Minister," in line 46 and substitute the following:

"who shall be appointed as chairperson by the Minister".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 48, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 49.

I move amendment No. 172:

In page 45, subsection (2)(a), line 6, to delete “the registration body” and substitute the following:

"the registration body following consultation with the bodies referred to in paragraphs (b), (c) and (e) of section 40(2)”.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 173 not moved.

I moved amendment No. 174:

In page 45, subsection (3), lines 19 and 20, to delete all words from and including ", appointed" in line 19 down to and including "Minister" in line 20 and substitute the following:

"who shall be appointed as chairperson by the Minister".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 49, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment No. 175 not moved.
Section 50 agreed to.
Amendment No. 176 not moved.
Section 51 agreed to.
SECTION 52.

I move amendment No. 177:

In page 47, subsection (1), line 18, to delete "section 41(12)” and substitute “subsection (12) of section 41”.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 52, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 53.

Amendment No. 178 is in the name of the Minister. Amendments Nos. 179, 180 and 182 are related; therefore, amendments Nos. 178 to 180, inclusive, and 182 will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 178:

In page 47, subsection (1), line 38, to delete "registration body" and substitute "Professional Conduct Committee".

The most important amendments provide for the code of professional conduct to be drawn up by the relevant professional conduct committee rather than by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, RIAI, or the Society of Chartered Surveyors, SCS, as the registration body, as currently provided in section 53. That is an important change. The change was recommended by the Competition Authority's report in March last and is designed to limit the influence of the RIAI and the SCS in setting standards under which registered architects or surveyors, including non-RIAI and non-SCS members, may be subject to disciplinary proceedings, including those leading to suspension or termination of registration.

Another amendment was required that the professional conduct committee, in drawing up the code of professional conduct, engage in public consultation, which is prudent, and seek and take account of the views of the Competition Authority. These are prudent amendments deriving from a recommendation in the Competition Authority report with which I agree.

This is where the protection of the consumer comes in. I am examining it now in the context of what we have decided elsewhere. I want to put down a marker that I may want to come back to this issue.

To return to the point Deputy Cuffe made about cowboy builders and professionals who go along with certification and so on, if complaints are made against professional conduct, and the Minister cited an incidence earlier, the operation of the procedures on this committee must be seen to be credible, unlike other professions such as the Law Society which, without doing damage to anybody in particular, is perceived by many ordinary people as not being a credible self-policing body to the extent that people would like it to be.

If this legislation is to have public credibility, the registration of title is welcome. The Minister is giving a person a privileged position under the law of the land on the condition that he or she behaves in a proper and professional manner. If a customer or citizen feels aggrieved and has grounds to prove he or she was badly treated, the sanction should be clear, up to the point of loss of livelihood as is the case with both the medical and legal professions. I am not sure we have included everything in this that we would like at this time and I am putting down a marker that I may table an amendment on Report Stage.

I thank the Deputy. I agree with his point. I have an inherent dislike of self-regulation. No judge can be a judge in his own court and solicitors and organisations that represent that august body have not exactly covered themselves in glory over the years. The changes being made here, therefore, are prudent and are in line with the Deputy's view that there should be objectivity.

The issue of misconduct is dealt with in a later amendment. We will not construe misconduct in the narrow sense like other so-called liberal professions. Misconduct would also include failure to perform, which is something the professions we are talking about are willing to take on board. It is a pity other liberal professions would not be as liberal in that regard. I welcome the point made by Deputy Quinn. We are introducing more objectivity that can be found in other organisations. The more broad stroke definition of misconduct is a line that could be taken and followed elsewhere also. I am grateful for the Deputy's support.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 179:

In page 48, subsection (2), line 1, to delete "registration body" and substitute "Professional Conduct Committee".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 180:

In page 48, between lines 2 and 3, to insert the following subsections:

"(3) A draft of the proposed code or any amendment of it shall be—

(a) published by the Professional Conduct Committee, in such manner as it may determine, together with an invitation to the public and any organisation or other body which appears to the Committee to have an interest in the matter to comment on the draft before a date specified by the Committee in the invitation,

(b) submitted by the Committee to the Competition Authority with a request for the furnishing in writing (before a date specified by the Committee in the submission) by the Authority of its opinion as to whether any provision of the draft would be likely to result in competition being prevented, restricted or distorted.

(4) The Professional Conduct Committee shall take into account any comment received by it in accordance with an invitation under subsection (3)(a) and any opinion in writing of the Competition Authority received by it in accordance with a request under subsection (3)(b) in relation to the draft code or any amendment of it before it prepares the code or the amendment.”.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 53, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 54.

Amendment No. 181 is in the name of the Minister. Amendments Nos. 183 to 188, inclusive, and 191 are related and may be discussed with amendment No. 181.

I move amendment No. 181:

In page 48, subsection (1), line 8, to delete "to professional misconduct" and substitute the following:

"to professional misconduct or poor professional performance".

These amendments broaden the scope of behaviour to be regulated by the professional conduct committee from professional misconduct to include also poor professional performance. That reflects the fact that there can be poor professional performance adversely affecting the public which may fall short of gross professional misconduct, including unacceptably long delays in providing a service, failure to respond to correspondence, very poor quality of architecture, surveying services and so on.

This is broadening the narrow definition of professional misconduct to poor professional performance, which everybody in the profession would accept. There will always be some people who fall out at the far end, so to speak, and are not coming up to standard. We must protect both those who are operating professionally within the profession but, more importantly, the consumer. That is the aim in this case.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 182:

In page 48, lines 9 to 13, to delete subsection (2).

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 183:

In page 49, subsection (11), line 20, to delete "professional misconduct was established" and substitute the following:

"professional misconduct or poor professional performance was established".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 184:

In page 49, subsection (12), line 24, to delete "professional misconduct" and substitute the following:

"professional misconduct or poor professional performance".

Amendment agreed.

I move amendment No. 185:

In page 49, subsection (13), line 26, to delete "professional misconduct" and substitute the following:

"professional misconduct or poor professional performance".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 54, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 55.

I move amendment No. 186:

In page 49, subsection (1), line 30, to delete "no professional misconduct" and substitute the following:

"no professional misconduct or poor professional performance".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 187:

In page 49, subsection (2), line 34, to delete "professional misconduct" and substitute the following:

"professional misconduct or poor professional performance".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 188:

In page 49, subsection (2)(a), line 37, to delete “the conduct” and substitute “the conduct or performance”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 189 is in the name of Deputy Quinn. Amendment No. 190 is an alternative; therefore, it is proposed to take amendments Nos. 189 and 190 together.

I move amendment No. 189:

In page 50, subsection (6), line 29, to delete "ex parte".

This is a legal obligation given to us. The Minister may want to comment whether it is constitutional for an ex parte injunction to be taken without notifying the person affected by it. My note states that it is probably unconstitutional if it is intended to allow the registrar apply to the High Court.

Can we try to finish by 2 p.m.? Is that agreeable to Deputy McCormack?

We will go into private session to deal with that issue.

The joint committee went into private session at 1.30 p.m. and resumed in public session at1.31 p.m.

I will consider in principle Deputy Quinn's amendment, which proposes the deletion of the words "ex parte”. I will consider the position further and report back to the House. There is a slight imbalance in the argument made.

I will leave the matter with the Minister.

(Interruptions).

I am not quite sure.

I am not sure about it either and I thought I might educate myself.

It is one of those extraordinary drafting styles. Those concerned like to put the words in italics and I do not understand the reason for that. It was probably done in Queen Mary's time on the same day wigs and black gowns were first worn in the courts.

I will withdraw the amendment on the understanding that the Minister will consider it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 190 not moved.
Section 55, as amended, agreed to.
Section 56 agreed to.
NEW SECTIONS.

I move amendment No. 191:

In page 51, before section 57, but in Part 6, to insert the following new section:

"57.—In this Part—

"poor professional performance" in relation to a registered professional, means any failure of the registered professional to meet the standards of competence that may reasonably be expected of registered professionals practising the profession concerned;

"professional misconduct" in relation to a registered professional, means any act, omission or pattern of conduct of the registered professional that—

(a) is in breach of the code prepared by the relevant professional conduct committee, or

(b) if the registered professional has been granted by a body established in a state, other than the State, a licence, certificate or registration relating to the practice of the profession concerned, is a breach of the standard of conduct or performance that applies to a person holding that licence, certificate or registration and that corresponds to a standard in the code referred to in paragraph (a).”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 192:

In page 51, before section 57, but in Part 7, to insert the following new section:

"57.—(1) If a person wishes to provide, in reliance on Article 5(2) of the Directive, architectural, quantity surveying or building surveying services in the State on a temporary and occasional basis, the person shall apply to the Admissions Board for a decision that he or she is entitled to registration in the register under Part 3, 4 or 5, as the case may be, for a temporary period for that purpose.

(2) A person who applies under subsection (1) shall, if the occasion of the application is the first occasion on which he or she intends, on foot of such an application, to provide architectural, quantity surveying or building surveying services, as the case may be, in the State, submit the following to the Admissions Board:

(a) a declaration of his or her intention to provide the services in accordance with Article 7 of the Directive, which declaration shall include details of insurance or other means of personal or collective protection with regard to professional liability;

(b) proof of his or her nationality;

(c) an attestation of the competent authority of the Member State where he or she is established that he or she is legally established in that state for the purposes of providing the activities concerned and is not prohibited from practising architecture, quantity surveying or building surveying, as the case may be, temporarily or otherwise, at the time of delivery of the attestation;

(d) evidence of the relevant professional qualifications; and

(e) if required by the Directive as respects an applicant who has moved from the Member State of establishment, evidence that he or she has performed functions commensurate with those of an architect, quantity surveyor or building surveyor as appropriate, in that Member State, for at least 2 of the 10 years preceding the application.

(3) If the occasion of the application under subsection (1) is not the first occasion on which the applicant has intended, on foot of such an application, to provide the relevant services in the State, the Admissions Board may, if there has been a material change in the situation substantiated by any of the documentation referred to in paragraphs (b) to (d) of subsection (1), require the applicant to submit to it fresh documentation of the kind referred to in the paragraph or paragraphs concerned.

(4) If a period of more than 12 months has elapsed since the registration, pursuant to this section, of a person in the register under Part 3, 4 or 5 (and the period for which the person is so registered has not expired), the Admissions Board may, unless the person does not intend to provide the relevant services in the State in the ensuing period of 12 months, require the person to make a fresh declaration of his or her intention to provide the relevant services in accordance with Article 7 of the Directive; if the person does not make such a declaration, the Admissions Board may remove the person’s name from the relevant register.

(5) Where the Admissions Board decides—

(a) that the applicant is entitled to be registered, pursuant to this section, in the register under Part 3, 4 or 5 for a temporary period for the purposes of providing architectural, quantity surveying or building surveying services, as the case may be, in the State, it shall take the necessary steps to register the applicant in the relevant register, without payment of a fee by the applicant in respect of the registration, for a period not exceeding the period requested by the applicant, or

(b) that the applicant is not entitled to such registration in that register, the chairperson shall immediately send a notice in writing to the applicant, by prepaid registered post, to the address of the applicant as furnished in his or her application, advising the applicant of the decision, the date on which it was made and the reasons for it.

(6) Where the applicant is registered in the register under Part 3 for a temporary period pursuant to this section, he or she shall use the title of architect while providing architectural services in the State until his or her registration ceases.

(7) Where the applicant is registered in the register under Part 4 or 5 for a temporary period pursuant to this section and is providing quantity surveying or building surveying services in the State, he or she shall—

(a) if a professional title exists for the activity or quantity surveyor or building surveyor, as the case may be, in the Member State where he or she is legally established, use that title, which shall be indicated in the official language or one of the official languages of that Member State, or

(b) if no such professional title exists in the Member State where he or she is legally established, indicate his or her formal qualification in the official language or one of the official languages of that Member State,

in a way that avoids confusion with the title of quantity surveyor or building surveyor.".

This amendment provides for the temporary registration of architects, quantity surveyors and building surveyors who wish to provide a service in this country on a temporary or occasional basis. Temporary registration is being provided for in accordance with the requirements of the consolidated Directive 2005/36 on recognition of professional qualifications, which was adopted by the EU on 7 September 2005. We adopted that directive quickly — it makes sense.

Amendment agreed to.
SECTION 57.

Amendments Nos. 193 and 194 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 193:

In page 51, subsection (1), line 18, to delete "A registration body" and substitute "Subject to subsection (2), a registration body".

The Competition Authority report of March recommended that certain functions should not be contracted out by registered bodies to third parties. Accordingly, this amendment prohibits registration bodies from delegating the following functions to any third party. The first is the removal from a register of a registered architect, quantity surveyor or building surveyor under sections 17, 31 or 45. Second, these bodies cannot effectively farm out fitness to practise proceedings under Part 6 or prosecutions under section 63. These are prudent provisions.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 194:

In page 51, between lines 20 and 21, to insert the following subsection:

"(2) A registration body shall not make an arrangement referred to in subsection (1) as respects the discharge of the functions under section 17, 31, 45 or 63 or Part 6.”.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 57, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 58.

I move amendment No. 195:

In page 51, subsection (1), line 28, after "may" to insert ", subject to the agreement of the Minister".

I will withdraw the amendment on the understanding that this matter will be addressed. The section states that a registration body may specify that a fee shall be payable. I propose the inclusion of a safeguard already discussed, namely, the inclusion of the provision with the agreement or the approval of the Minister.

That relates to the Director of Consumer Affairs. It will be provided for later and I understand the Deputy is happy with the inclusion of that provision.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 196 and 197 are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 196:

In page 51, subsection (1)(b), lines 33 and 34, to delete all words from and including “(and” in line 33 down to and including “Affairs)” in line 34.

The Group of Independent Architects of Ireland recommended that registration related fees should be subject to the approval of the Director of Consumer Affairs and the Competition Authority recommended to Government that registration related fees should be restricted to covering costs directly attributable to registration. These amendments implement both of those recommendations. The second recommendation is interesting because the covering of costs means that registration would not become a cash cow to be milked, which is fair, just and reasonable.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 197:

In page 52, between lines 4 and 5, to insert the following subsections:

"(3) A fee shall not be specified in accordance with subsection (1) without the approval of the Director of Consumer Affairs.

(4) The amount of a fee specified in accordance with subsection (1) shall not in any case exceed the total of—

(a) the costs in providing the services in respect of which the fee is paid, and

(b) the reasonable costs incurred by the registration body in collecting, accounting for and administering the fee.”.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 198 not moved.
Section 58, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 59 to 62, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 63.

Amendment No. 200 is cognate with amendment No. 199; therefore they may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 199:

In page 53, subsection (3), line 14, to delete "or dates".

These are simple drafting amendments.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 200:

In page 53, subsection (3), line 16, to delete "or dates".

Amendment agreed to.
Section 63, as amended, agreed to.
Section 64 agreed to.
NEW SECTION.

Amendments Nos. 202 and 204 are related to amendment No. 201, amendment No. 203 is an alternative to amendment No. 202 and amendment No. 205 is an alternative to amendment No. 204. Therefore, amendments Nos. 201 to 205, inclusive, can be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 201:

In page 53, before section 65, to insert the following new section:

"65.—(1) Subject to subsection (2), any persons nominated by a registration body for appointment by the registration body to a committee or board established under Part 3, 4 or 5 shall be chosen for the purposes of such nomination by means of an election in accordance with bye-laws made by the body under this section.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to—

(a) nominations for the purposes of the first appointments made by a registration body of persons to a committee or board referred to in that subsection, or

(b) the nomination of a person by a registration body for the purposes of the person’s appointment by the body to fill a casual vacancy that arises amongst the persons the subject of those first appointments.

(3) For the purposes mentioned in subsection (1), a registration body shall, with the consent of the Minister, make bye-laws providing for the election, by persons of the following class, of persons from among that class, namely, persons who are registered or eligible to be registered under Part 3, 4 or 5, as the case may be (and who are not excluded from that class by virtue of bye-laws under subsection (4)).

(4) Bye-laws made by the registration body may exclude from the foregoing class any person who is not resident in the State at a specified date or who does not comply with any specified condition or requirement which the registration body considers appropriate to specify in the bye-laws for the purposes of ensuring that the bye-laws operate in a practical manner.

(5) Bye-laws under this section shall provide that the election referred to in subsection (3) shall be held by means of a ballot and in a manner specified in the bye-laws.

(6) Bye-laws under this section may provide for such supplemental, incidental and consequential matters as the registration body that makes them considers necessary or expedient, including the deeming of candidates to be elected without an election having to be held, where the number of persons validly selected as candidates in the proposed election is less than or equal to the number of vacancies in the board or committee to which the proposed election relates.".

The Competition Authority's March report recommended that architects, quantity surveyors and building surveyors appointed by admission boards, technical assessment boards, appeal boards and professional conduct committees should be decided by a election, except in the case of the first such appointments and there will be no register of electors until the relevant building professions are registered. The principal amendment provides for such an election process and the making of by-laws to govern such elections. Such by-laws will be subject to the approval of the Minister of the day.

Amendment No. 203 is no longer necessary because of the amendments I tabled to section 65. Amendment No. 202 sets out the procedures for filling casual vacancies through registration related bodies or committees.

Amendment No. 204 provides that the quorum for meetings of registration related to boards or committees shall be four. The majority of those present at relevant meetings must have been nominated by me as Minister as lay nominees or as chairmen. This is prudent to make sure the majority of people present at such meetings are not disinterested parties. That is to ensure that the non-building professionals are represented in the making of all decisions. The amendment is very much in accordance with the March report of the Competition Authority.

I do not propose to accept amendment No. 205, as it is already covered by another amendment I made.

I am only digesting this detail as we are dealing with these amendments. I would like to express a reservation about it for consideration on Report Stage. I like the principle but I would like to think it through and consult on it.

I accept that because it is complex.

It is certainly complex.

It is a new section. There is a good deal of prudent good sense in it but I fully appreciate that the Deputy needs some time to consider it.

I am not opposed to it I would like further time to study it.

I know that.

On amendment No. 205, if the quorum is four, all the members present could be architects. The reason this amendment was tabled was to ensure that at least two members shall be "non-architects".

I refer the Deputy to amendment No. 204. Itprovides that the quorum for meetings of registration and related bodies should be four but it also provides that the majority of those present from the relevant bodies must have been nominated by the Minister as either lay nominees or as chairmen. That will ensure the involvement of a majority of non-professionals in all registration decisions. That achieves the purpose the Deputy was talking about and it means there will be a majority of disinterested persons or persons who do not have a potential conflict. It achieves the same purpose.

Amendment agreed to.
SECTION 65.

I move amendment No. 202:

In page 53, lines 48 and 49 and in page 54, lines 1 to 3, to delete subsection (4) and substitute the following:

"(4) (a) Any requirement (whether as to consultation, obtaining of another’s approval or otherwise) that applies with respect to the nomination of a person for appointment to a board or committee established under this Act shall apply to the nomination of a person for appointment to fill a casual vacancy amongst the membership of the board or committee.

(b) Where the term of office of a member of a board or committee established under this Act terminates otherwise than by reason of effluxion of time, the period of office of the person appointed to fill the vacancy occasioned by that other’s ceasing to hold office shall be specified to be the unexpired period of that other’s term of office.”.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 203 not moved.
Section 65, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 66.

I move amendment No. 204:

In page 54, line 23, to delete subsection (5) and substitute the following:

"(5) The quorum for such a meeting shall be 4 members of which, subject to subsection (6), the majority shall be members who were nominated for appointment as members of the board or committee, as the case may be, by the Minister.

(6) There may be reckoned for the purposes of that majority the chairperson of the board or committee, as the case may be, if he or she is present at the meeting.".

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 205 not moved.
Section 66, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 67.

I move amendment No. 206:

In page 54, line 31, to delete "order" and substitute "regulation".

I propose to accept the amendment in Deputy Quinn's name. The purpose of section 67 is to provide for the carrying out of additional duties to implement an Act of an institution of the European Communities by any of the boards or commissions. The more commonly used word would be "regulation" and, therefore, it seems that it is a prudent change which I will accept.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 207:

In page 54, line 32, to delete "Act" and substitute "act".

This is a minor drafting change.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 67, as amended, agreed to.
Section 68 agreed to.
Amendment No. 208 not moved.
Schedule agreed to.
TITLE.
Question proposed: "That the Title be the Title to the Bill."

I wish to thank members of the committee. This has been a long saga and I understand that discussions took place on this matter before the foundation of the State. Deputy Quinn can take some quiet personal satisfaction because he has championed the changes that we are introducing in the Bill. It is a good Bill. Some of the changes that we have introduced, particularly those concerning misconduct, could quite reasonably be reflected in other liberal professions.

On the issue of energy performance, we are transposing a European directive into domestic law in a timely fashion. We are usually chastised, and rightly so, for being lethargic in that regard. This has been a full and interesting debate, notwithstanding my occasional personal exchanges with Deputy Cuffe. It would always be helpful if we focused more on the content of legislation rather than on personalities who are not present.

We all share the same views on energy conservation. The negative comments I had to make were simply a reflection of the fact that I regard certain propositions as being impractical or having a potential to give rise to difficulties. I am not in any way at variance with the views expressed by members of the committee on the need for us to do better in that particular area. I want to thank Deputies again, particularly those, including Deputy Quinn, who stayed throughout the debate. He has been in contact with me on several occasions over the period and I appreciate his contribution very much.

I thank the Minister and his officials for what they have done not only today but also in recent years. I am sure they will be glad to see the back of this legislation when it is finally passed. Without wishing to be rancorous or insensitive to the compliments that have been paid to me, much of what we have processed today is relatively new to our sight. I am reasonably happy that great progress has been made on some of the concerns expressed by the Competition Authority and others. I am not so sure that professional conduct and other aspects and qualifications may meet what we are seeking through some of the changes we have made.

While not wishing to repeat what has already been said across the floor of this committee, on my own behalf and that of interested civic institutions, I wish to maintain the dialogue so that when we get to the floor of the House on Report Stage we will have a fair idea of what we are dealing with. In that case, we will be reasonably happy with the outcome. We will not achieve perfection because there are different interests at stake but we can obtain a final improvement on Report Stage. Procedurally, the Bill will go through the Seanad also, as it must, so does the Minister's timetable envisage the Bill being passed in this calendar year?

It will depend very much on the availability of time in the House. I am anxious to do so. I take the Deputy's further point and I am willing to listen to all points that are raised. As the Deputy said, we only have the opportunity to do this once. It has taken us 80 years to get to this particular point, so we should do it right. I will certainly listen to any points that are put forward. The opportunities for dialogue are open.

I thank the Minister.

I wish to thank the Minister and the Opposition spokespersons for their help and co-operation in progressing Committee Stage of this Bill so efficiently today. For the record, I was unhappy that Deputy Cuffe mentioned specific names in the context of a debate on this Bill earlier this morning. That could be construed as an abuse of parliamentary privilege.

Once again, I wish to thank the Minister and his officials for attending today's session.

Question put and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.