I move amendment No. 3A:—
In page 2, to insert at the end of line 41 the words "and includes a part of any such structure".
This is to remove any doubt about the definition of a building meaning part of the building.
Vol. 84 No. 16
I move amendment No. 3A:—
In page 2, to insert at the end of line 41 the words "and includes a part of any such structure".
This is to remove any doubt about the definition of a building meaning part of the building.
As amended, it would read: "the word `building' means a house, shop, factory or other similar permanent structure and includes a part of any such structure." I had an amendment down to include a dividing wall in a garden. Would that be included?
I take it that would be included.
Supposing there is an outhouse or garage built against a house which is, so to speak, attached to the house. Is not that part of the building?
Yes, I take it that that is included. That is my understanding.
Supposing the garage is at the end of the garden?
Even so, the garage would be included.
How does the Minister make that out?
I had an amendment to put that in and it was ruled out on the grounds that it would mean extra cost to the State.
I am told by the draftsman that it would be included.
I do not think so. If there is a structure at the end of the garden, as is customary with old houses, that is not a house, it is not a shop, and it is not a factory. Therefore, it cannot be part of a house, or part of a shop, or part of a factory. Equally, it cannot be part of a similar structure, because it must be similar to a shop, similar to a house, or similar to a factory.
The Minister wants to bring these things in and therefore it can be attended to.
Yes, I want to bring them in.
The Minister will look into it?
I will. I do not object to the point being raised, because I would like to have them included.
Subject to what the Minister may say, I do not think my amendment is necessary. The section says:—
"The word `injuries' includes total or partial destruction and, in relation to chattels, includes loss or disappearance."
My amendment is to add the words "or damage".
I am told by the draftsman that Deputy Mulcahy's point is met.
That is what I think.
I move amendment No. 5:—
To insert the following definition at the end of the section:—the expression "local authority" means—
(a) in relation to a building situate in a county health district— the board of health for the county health district,
(b) in relation to a building situate in a county borough or the borough of Dun Laoghaire—the corporation of the borough, and
(c) in relation to a building situate in any other borough or any urban district—the council of the borough or urban district.
This is a drafting amendment.
I move amendment No. 5A:—
To insert the following definition at the end of the section:
the expression "district planning authority" means a district planning authority for the purposes of the Town and Regional Planning Acts, 1934 and 1939.
This is necessary in connection with an amendment that is being moved later on to Section 20.
I had an amendment down to this section—amendment No. 6—asking that the date, the 26th August, 1940, be changed to 3rd September, 1939, and it was ruled out of order on the ground that it would involve increased cost to the State. If it would involve increased cost to the State, then I think it ought to be put in because that implies that something happened before the 26th August, 1940, which was proper to be dealt with in the Bill. If, however, the Minister assures me that nothing happened prior to the 26th August, 1940, and that the insertion of my amendment would not mean an increased cost to the State, I am satisfied.
We have no record of anything having happened previous to the Campile case. There is no record of any claim of any kind before that, and that was on the 26th August.
This section refers to the different ways in which damage may be caused and I take it paragraph (a) is typical of the rest. It is confined to projectiles, bombs, or other objects or any substance propelled or dropped from a foreign aircraft. Supposing one of our own aircraft drops one of these?
That is covered by the Army Vote and the Army is liable.
The person concerned can get full compensation?
Yes. There is provision in the Vote to pay compensation.
How do you sue the Minister for Defence?
That is a matter for the Minister for Defence.
There is a decision of the courts that you cannot sue for a tort and this would be clearly a tort.
They have paid damages.
They have paid damages euphemistically known asex gratia grants. That is the peculiar method of paying compensation. The fact is that they cannot be sued and, consequently, there is no real remedy.
As to the point about compensation for damage caused by our own aircraft, the Minister explained that that is provided for.
Yes; in the Vote for the Department of Defence there is provision made for that.
Is similar provision made in respect of damage caused by one of our own mines?
That I could not answer. Presumably, yes, if it is caused by one of our own mines set by our own Army. I am not certain, but I imagine it is so.
It is only anex gratia payment?
That is all. They have paid damages.
The citizens ought to pray that, if there is any projectile dropped, it is from a foreign aircraft. That is what it comes to.
I move amendment No. 7 on behalf of Deputy Dockrell:—
In sub-section (1), page 3, after paragraph (c) to add a new paragraph as follows:—
(d) every person to whom the persons enumerated in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of this sub-section have assigned their rights to compensation under this Act.
This amendment enables any of the classes indicated in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) to assign their rights to compensation under the Bill to any other person and makes provision that the person to whom such rights are assigned would stand in relation to the law in the same way as the persons originally provided for in the section.
There is nothing to prevent a person assigning his interest in any compensation he may be likely to get, but we would like to ensure that the injured party should be the person to make the claim and produce the evidence. Any assignment would be apart from that altogether.
I put down an amendment for the purpose of getting information. Why is it that sub-section (2) was put in? Was it merely a shelving of responsibility? A local authority which may find that certain property in respect of which it is interested has suffered damage cannot claim compensation. I presume it was simply a matter of saying that the local authority could take it out of the ratepayers, but will not take it out of the people who subscribe by way of taxation. There is another point, but I presume it is a matter which is decided by the inter-action of paragraphs (a) and (b) of Section 3. Paragraph (b) sets out:—
If the said property is real estate, the said personal representative shall hold such compensation upon trust for the person who became entitled to the said property under the will or on the intestacy of such deceased person.
The only other provision made is a sort of general provision in (a):—
... such compensation shall be deemed to have formed part of the estate of such deceased person at his death;
Then you get the further provision about real estate. Is everything supposed to be covered, every contingency, so to speak, by the combination of (a) and (b)?
They are all supposed to be covered in the combination of the two. Does the Deputy suggest that there is something left uncovered?
I am taking the opposite of (b). Suppose the property is not real estate, but that it is personal estate. Is (a) supposed to be the full complement of (b)?
Sub-section (4) provides that where a person who has suffered injury has got any compensation from a Government or authority outside the State, no compensation shall be paid under this legislation to such a person. I direct the Minister's attention to the idea expressed in my amendment No. 9, which has been ruled out of order on the ground that it would impose an additional charge. It is quite possible that a person may get compensation from a Government or authority outside the State which may be entirely inadequate in view of the loss or damage sustained. I wanted to have the sub-section so changed that a person, who considered the compensation he got from a Government or authority outside the State inadequate, could make an application under this Act, and that in circumstances where the Minister for Finance or the court was convinced that a person within the scope of the Bill had suffered injury to a greater extent than that for which he actually received compensation, he should be paid the difference between what the Minister or the court judged to be the proper amount of compensation and the amount actually received.
There have been, I understand, one or two cases in which compensation has been paid by an external authority in connection with falling aircraft or something of the kind, but we have no records of complaints that the compensation paid in these cases was inadequate. So far as we know, the compensation was adequate. In future, of course, they will come in under this Bill.
Then the Bill is almost an invitation to persons not to seek compensation, in cases in which they may be able to seek it, from an outside authority.
In any cases we know of in which they were open to make a claim, they have made the claim, and have been paid, and we have no reason to believe that they have not been adequately compensated.
Having regard to sub-section (2), in the event of a bridge being destroyed by foreign aircraft, where is the compensation to come from? The sub-section excludes all property vested in local authorities, including bridges, and where is the compensation to come from and how is it to be assessed?
There is no compensation.
The local authorities are expected to repair damage to their own property.
Will that in any way prejudice a subsequent application by the State for a refund?
And if the State recovers compensation from the external authority, will it recoup the local authority?
It will, yes.
I move amendment No. 10:—
In sub-section (2), line 29 and in line 31, to delete the word "three" and substitute therefor in each case the word "twelve."
I do not know why three months is set down as the period, or whether there was any thought given to it. I have not given much thought to the 12 months period, except that it allows a longer time.
I will accept amendment 11, which extends the period to six months.
May I recall what I stated to-day? There are houses which were damaged in January which are not yet fit for re-occupation and I do not know how a claim for compensation can correctly be submitted until we have passed beyond that stage.
The application could be made, but not in detail.
It must be made in the prescribed form, and if a person does not accept the Minister's offer, he cannot bring any new evidence or make any new claims to the court.
It is more than six months since 3rd January.
It is amazing how long it takes to make out a claim.
The experience of every statute in which a statutory period for doing anything was put in is that exceptional cases always turn up.
I will accept the 12 months.
What I would prefer to do is to give power to the court to extend the time, in proper cases.
We have an amendment to make it 12 months.
I move amendment No. 12:—
Before sub-section (3), page 4, to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
Where it appears reasonable in any case the Minister for Finance may extend the period mentioned in the foregoing sub-section.
Following what Deputy Costello said, I propose that this addition be made.
Then we ought to drop the 12 months provision, if that be so.
Oh, no. I should not like to trust the Minister's reasonableness.
The proposal is really designed to convenience the Minister as well as the applicant.
We would like to get the applications in reasonable time, but there are people who simply put them off and off for God knows how long, when it would be in their own interests to put them in. If they get 12 months, I think it is reasonable.
Where, in exceptional circumstances, it is not possible the Minister will have stymied himself and he will have to get an Act passed or something of the kind.
I move amendment No. 13:—
In sub-section (1), page 5, line 2, before the word "shall" to insert the following words "within three months after the making of such application".
The object in this case is to ensure that, having received an application, the Minister shall do certain things within a defined period. At present, it is not possible to tie the Minister down to any particular period, and the amendment seeks to ensure that he will do these things within three months after receiving an application.
It would be absolutely impossible to do that. There are 2,000 applications with the Dublin Corporation now. Suppose we get these immediately this Bill is passed. It would take more than three months to have them investigated, no matter what staff we put on them. Even if we made it six months, I do not think we could guarantee that every applicant would have received some award from the Minister within that time. What the Deputy suggests is that every application must be answered and we could not do that with justice to the applicant or to ourselves. If we got 2,000 applicants we certainly could not do it in six months.
Within what period could you do it?
I would like to be able to specify a period but I honestly do not see how I can, though I realise that this thing ought to be cleaned up with all possible speed.
Does not the Minister realise that the present section is very wide, if he is not tied to a particular period?
I realise that but what are you to do?
I want to tie the Minister down to saying three months. I am willing to give him six months.
The Minister has two choices. He can simply say at the end of three months that no offer will be made and then they can go to the court.
I can do that but that would not be a fair way of dealing with it.
I think the entire machinery in this Bill for the assessment of compensation is far too cumbersome. I had considerable experience of the working of the Damage to Property Act of 1923. Unfortunately for myself, I had sheaves and sheaves of files in connection with the investigation, not of claims, but of actual decrees by circuit judges and those things went through for years in the Department of Finance and through the various legal sections. I have no doubt that unless this machinery is changed or some amendment of the type proposed by Deputy Norton and Deputy Mulcahy is accepted it will be this time five years before one quarter of these claims under this Bill are even brought to a circuit judge. I have no doubt that when this machinery operates these applications will go into the limbo of the Department of Finance and there they will stay for a very considerable time before they are released from bondage. I do not see any reason why the machinery is so complicated as it is. What should be done is that the claims should be given in detail to the Department of Finance in order to allow them to investigate the matter—that is very proper—but they should only be given a reasonable time to investigate the matter and then the applicant should be entitled to go into court inside a very limited period of three, or six months.
People who have suffered this loss are not going to get what we have been talking about earlier in the day, consequential damage. It will take years before they can get their house rebuilt, or before they can get their business started, because it will take them years before they can even get the claim out of the Department of Finance and into the court. It will take some time in court, and it will take some time before the money is paid and it will take some time for the reinstatement condition to be fulfilled. I cannot see any practical effect being given to this Bill inside a period of half a dozen years on the machinery that is here at the moment.
Is the Minister agreeable to bind himself to come to some decision after some defined period?
Deputy Costello says it will take five or half a dozen years.
I say that is what will happen under this Bill.
Deputy Costello says that is the consequence of not tying the Minister, that five years hence, in the next Parliament, questions will be asked of the Minister or his successor as to when it is proposed to pay compensation in respect of a person who was bombed in 1941.
I would certainly like to avoid what Deputy Costello suggests has happened before, and if the Deputy is satisfied I will put in 12 months.
The case would be met if the Minister would agree to let the applicant go to court to have his claim dealt with after the lapse of a certain period, six months—or 12 months, if the Minister likes—if the matter is not dealt with by the Department of Finance. They will have a sufficient period in six months to enable their valuers and investigators to go into the matter, and if they have not come to a conclusion within that time as to what offer they are going to make then the applicant ought to be entitled to go into court and say to the Department of Finance: "You will not make an offer. Let the court decide between us."
The machinery, as far as I can see, is only to enable the Minister to avoid costs. He is entitled to have ample opportunity of investigating the claim, I think, and he should get ample opportunity of investigating the various claims put forward but if, after the expiration of a reasonable period, something concrete does not emerge from the Department of Finance, the applicant ought to be entitled then and there to go into court. I think that is only reasonable. Otherwise, there will certainly be court proceedings: there will be very great hardship. The Minister is probably aware of all the difficulties caused by reason of delays in connection with military service pensions. He will have exactly the same thing under this Bill. This difficulty is caused by the machinery of the Bill, not by any inherent difficulties in having these matters heard by the circuit judges. The whole thing can be avoided if the applicant is entitled, after a reasonable period, to go into court. The Minister then can go into court again and ask for an adjournment and get it from the judge if he is entitled to it. He will not be damnified in any way. But unless the applicant is entitled to go into court within a reasonable time I cannot see the North Strand being rebuilt inside half a dozen years.
What is the next best offer?
I will say 12 months.
On the basis that Deputy Costello has indicated—that the Minister can make his case to the court that, on account of the multiplicity of cases, he was unable to deal with the case—surely the time limit ought to be much less than 12 months?
The section rules that the Minister shall consider every application for compensation under this Act duly made and then make each one of them an offer. We would never be able to do the 2,000 with the staff we have.
I think the Minister has put far too complicated a machinery in this.
I am told it is much less complicated than the 1923 Act.
That may be so, but the courts are there to decide these cases. They are well able to do it. They have got ample experience, far more experience than the Department of Finance officials. It is their job. It is their training, and why not put the thing straight into court, after giving the Minister an opportunity, through his valuers and investigators, of investigating the matter? All that the Minister should require is an opportunity to investigate the thing so that he can rebut evidence and give evidence, and let the people who are paid by the taxpayer to decide these matters decide them without putting further expense on the taxpayer by having file after file after file in the Department of Finance and various other Departments. I know—I have seen it myself operating—that these files will circulate through half a dozen Departments, that they will go from the Department of Finance to the Chief State Solicitor, from the Chief State Solicitor to the Board of Works, from the Board of Works to the Department of Industry and Commerce, from the Department of Industry and Commerce down the country to the local State solicitor, and back again; then to the Revenue Commissioners to find out if there are any claims against it. There will be simply circulation of files, and the cost to the taxpayer would probably pay the entire cost of the damage to the North Strand before it gets into court at all.
If the Minister is able to make an offer, all that machinery will be avoided.
But he will not be able to make an offer.
On the basis that the Minister can get an adjournment on an application to the court, if the court thinks reasonable, why should he not say: "Very good; go to court after three months if I do not make an offer"?
We had some of these cases before the South Cork Board of Health in regard to damage done by mines washed up in Cork. The position there was that the board of health engineer went out immediately to inspect the damage and carried out repairs in so far as repairs were required. Payment for the damage is awaiting this Bill. I cannot see why something on the same lines would not be done here in Dublin. I, for one, am anxious to see these cases kept out of the courts as much as possible.
What sort of a mine was it—foreign or Irish?
A foreign mine. It was released for one reason or another and blown into Ballycotton. We have already repaired damage in Ballycotton to the extent of £1,200.
To houses damaged by mines. To my mind it is the most direct and the cheapest way for the Department and the Government, and the best way for the taxpayer to get rid of it.
The Deputy is labouring under a very severe illusion if he thinks that. He has not the experience I have had.
I know I have not, but I had once.
Of this particular thing?
I may tell the Deputy I had to pay a lot. For what you would pay to lawyers and counsel by going to court you could have enough to repair five or ten houses.
That is a good contribution to this debate.
Would three months suit?
Make it six months and let him go to the courts then.
Even a limit of 12 months would not be sufficient to have them all investigated.
That indicates the length of time it may take.
And it indicates their view.
This war will be over and another will have started before these are dealt with.
The Deputy should accept 12 months as a generous measure. We do not know how many claims may come in.
I appreciate the difficulty of investigating claims. In that investigation an enormous amount of time will be spent. It would be far better to have the places looked at by the valuers and the investigators of the Department of Finance and then go into court and find on the evidence.
If the injured party does not accept the offer, he comes to court.
Why have all the complicated machinery of acceptance of an offer?
The only idea is to avoid Circuit Court costs. The only result of this is that Circuit Court costs will be saved in odd cases.
And the 50 guineas to counsel.
They are part of the costs. That is the whole result of this enormous complication of offer and counter-offer. Incidentally, without this the Minister could always make a lodgment, as he is in the same position as any other litigant.
Is the amendment being withdrawn?
Would the Minister undertake to deal with them within 12 months?
I would like to consult the staff first.
The Minister made an offer.
I did, but I am told I would be doing an injustice. I will consider it.
I move amendment No. 15:—
At the end of Section 5, page 5 to add a new sub-section as follows:—
The Minister shall not in any case impose under the foregoing section any condition which has not been provided for under regulations made by the Minister under this Act.
Sub-section (2) (a) of this section says:—
"the Minister may, when making the offer, attach thereto such (if any) conditions as he thinks proper in relation to the expenditure of the compensation thereby offered;"
I think that the Minister should make regulations which could be objected to in this House in the usual way and that, when making an offer of compensation under this Bill, he should not attach conditions which could not be challenged in this House if they were of the general nature that required such challenge.
That would make it very difficult and complicated when we have to draw up regulations.
What kind of conditions has the Minister in mind?
The conditions I have in mind are those in regard to reinstatement, but there may be regulations in regard to other kinds of conditions which may come up later. In any case, if regulations were made and brought before this House, they could be changed and that would probably add to the difficulties. It would not expedite matters in any way.
It would secure that the House, by reason of the regulations issued from time to time, would be cognisant of the general lines under which the Minister was imposing conditions. If this remains as it is and the Minister can impose conditions without making regulations, the House has no idea of the general run of conditions that are being imposed in these compensation awards.
The conditions would be very few in connection with the principle of reinstatement. There are no others I have at the moment.
The situation now is that the Minister has to consider the applications, possibly within 12 months, and in the end he may make an offer or say he will make no offer. Then the rest of the section applies. May I point out that the objective in this machinery of making an offer or no offer is to give the applicant the choice—that he will take something from the Minister or go into court to be mulcted in costs? It probably will be a relatively small amount that will be at issue, and I do not see why the Minister desires to set up this complicated machinery. He gives himself leave to make conditions and attach them. He has said that the conditions he has in mind are in regard to reinstatement. That is especially referred to in Section 9. In fact, the compensation is, in the main, to be subject to reinstatement, and would not require any regulation of the Minister at all.
There is another thing in Section 9 —that payment may be made by instalments and that the Minister may stagger them over a considerable number of years. The time is entirely inside the Minister's control, as far as this section is concerned, and it is absolutely wide open. I had an amendment down to sub-section (2) (e), but it has been ruled out of order as imposing an extra burden on the State. I ask the Minister to consider a case. Supposing a person has a property which, after the accidental discharge of a bomb or a mine, suffers a particular type of injury. He puts in a claim based on the injury as known at that particular point. The Minister, seeing that the damage easily may be greater, suddently shoots out an offer, which the man is unfortunate enough to accept. Then the building collapses or it is revealed that there is worse damage. What happens then? May he make a new claim?
I am taking a very extraordinary case of a building that appeared to have superficial damage and then collapsed. There is a fundamental difference between the original injury thought to have been caused and that discovered later to have been caused. One can narrow that to buildings where they appear to be damaged, and an offer is made and accepted and then worse damage appears, though not so bad as a collapse. If the owner is prohibited from making an extra claim, I think that is a hardship on him. It is not likely to occur often, but we do know that some of the houses in other parts of the city stood the first shock of the last bombing and then collapsed afterwards. That might happen over a longer period and yet be traceable to the bombing.
Was it contended seriously that these houses collapsed as a result of the bombing?
There are undoubtedly very well founded theories that they did.
In regard to what Deputy McGilligan says, I was in conversation with a technical man who has been examining certain houses in the city and whose attention has been called to the appearance of very serious cracks and defects immediately after the bombing. He informed me, in the course of conversation last week, that he feared the effect of the bomb damage never would be adequately measured. That is a support for the case made by Deputy McGilligan, that a claim may be made for a small amount of compensation for damage which appears on the surface at this stage, but that the effect of the bombing may be that the house subsequently collapses or appears much more seriously damaged than was thought at first. That person should be entitled to make a new claim. There is no question at this stage of paying compensation on the claim. A person ought not to be prevented from making the claim and having that claim investigated if, in fact, it subsequently transpires that the house is much more seriously damaged than was, at first, thought to be the case. Will the Minister examine the matter?
Would it not be up to the person concerned to make an adequate claim in respect of his building, whether it be a house or garage? Is not that what will happen in a hundred per cent. of the cases? They may have to modify the claims later, after thorough examination, but I should say that in all cases adequate claims will be made. Deputy McGilligan had in mind a different type of case—a case in which the person accepted the offer made and later discovered that much greater damage had been done than was covered by his original claim. It is suggested that he should be allowed to make another claim. If we were to allow that, there would never be an end.
That difficulty arises from the machinery. I gave the Minister an example put to me by one of the corporation officials who examined the Donore Avenue area. A house there, apparently, escaped all damage. Something happened to an adjoining property, which led to an investigation. The amazing discovery was made that this house had been moved several inches. It had been shifted from its foundations and rocked, with the result that there would be a subsidence of that house, though it had not occurred at the time and may not occur for some time. One of the inspectors under the Dangerous Dwellings Act brought the matter to my notice. That may be an exceptional case but, in an exceptional case, why should not a claim be allowed? Take the case I have mentioned of a house, apparently only slightly damaged. A person was paid for that damage and the house collapsed. It seems to me that the person concerned would have a new cause of action but I am not sure that the phraseology of the section would permit of a new claim being made. There ought to be some omnibus provision for special cases. It will cause a certain amount of Departmental trouble and Departments are loth to have to keep on dealing with such cases. They prefer to shut down the hatch but the people concerned may not get justice.
I shall look into the matter.
I move amendment No. 16:—
In sub-section (2) (b), line 1, page 6, to delete the words "one month" and substitute the words "six months".
This amendment deals with the time for going into court. The provision in the Bill is that the application must be made not later than a month after the date on which the applicant refuses an offer by the Minister or the date on which the applicant was informed by the Minister that he did not intend to make any offer. Why should there be such a narrow limit as a month? The Minister may not know the difficulty that attends the bringing of an ordinary civil bill even in a case where there is a clear cause of action. I have suggested that the time allowed be six months. Some enlargement is necessary. The Minister is not likely to be embarrassed by proceedings being held over. A person is likely to move speedily, but more time should be allowed for putting in the formal application.
What about three months?
That would be better.
I move amendment No. 17:—
To delete sub-section (2) (c).
I take the case which I put before— where a person has suffered damage, that damage has been investigated and valued at a particular point, the valuation has been put before the Minister and the Minister makes an offer. At that particular point, suppose the applicant refuses the offer on the ground that it is not adequate and he discovers, when going into court, that the damage is much greater than he originally thought. Back of this provision, there is an effort to save costs. The Minister will say that he should have had this new fact brought before him when the application was being considered by him and that the applicant is tied rigidly to his original claim. He has to make his application in prescribed form and we do not know if there will be an opening for any addition to or enlargement of the application if evidence of additional damage should be forthcoming in the meantime. I do not think it is right that the applicant should be tied to the allegations of fact contained in the form which he sends in in the first instance. If there should be grounds for a new statement of fact, why should he be prevented from bringing it in? Take the case of a person who refuses an offer in connection with damage to a house and, before the case comes on, the house collapses. Why should he not be allowed to go into court bearing with him the tale of a collapsed house instead of that of an injured house? This is merely an effort to save costs.
I have very strong objection to sub-paragraph (c) because I think it is likely to do very serious injustice. It will be extremely difficult to fill up the forms which will be sent out by the Minister in accordance with a previous section. A very technical judge may rule out very material evidence on the ground that the fact on which it bears was not precisely alleged in the form. Deputy McGilligan said that this was a question of costs. The Minister will be protected in that regard by the ordinary court procedure. If an applicant makes a different case in court from that which he has made to the Minister, the Minister may be absolutely certain that that will be taken into account by the judge. The judge will either refuse to allow him to make such a case or, otherwise, see that he pays the costs resulting from the making of the new case. That is the ordinary procedure in court, and I do not think that this provision will give the Minister additional protection, while it may result in crippling an applicant in advancing his case in the ordinary way in court.
These forms will, probably, be filled by valuers, auctioneers, engineers, or people of that type who may not be trained as lawyers. They may not cover every material fact that should be brought to the attention of the Minister. If they leave out something of that kind, on a strict construction of this paragraph, it cannot be referred to in court. The Minister should drop this paragraph. He has ample protection in court procedure against the costs of the making of a new case.
I shall look into that.
With a view to defining the issues, there is a procedure in court by which people ask for particulars, especially in negligence actions. Those concerned put everything into the particulars that comes into their head so that, instead of narrowing the issues, they widen them, and one is left obfuscated. The Minister may find that his investigators will, by reason of this provision, be put to the trouble of investigating a lot of things unnecessarily owing to the number of a allegations of fact put in.
I suggest that the Minister might reconsider this matter of looking for costs. I had drafted amendments on the matter but they have been ruled out. I took them from the Transport Act. The Minister may remember that when the Transport Act was passed here it allowed the railway companies—I am putting it crudely— to go in on private property, and to confiscate it. The situation that was developed by the Act was that the applicant for compensation never had to pay the costs of the railway company which sought, or whatever company sought, to take his property. Sometimes he had to pay his own costs, on occasions where an offer was made by the acquiring company and the arbitrator's award did not come up to that. In no case had a person to pay the acquiring company's costs. I suggest that this is a small matter and the Minister is put in here between the courts and the applicants—I would think it an admirable procedure—with a view to getting speedy decisions. The Minister is here in a superior position and I do not think he should take stand as if he were an ordinary litigant. He might be a bit generous in this matter. It is not going to run to a whole lot and applicants will be all the more likely to take their money than to go to court if they feel that the Minister does not hold this terror over them.
I shall look into it.
The Minister has indicated that he will see whether he cannot introduce an amendment that will bind him to making an offer of compensation inside a particular period. Whether for clarity or otherwise, I think the Minister might as a corollary to that consider an amendment to the section that will enable a person to go to the courts if the Minister has failed within a particular period to make him an offer.
I am intrigued to know why the procedure is being adopted of referring matters in dispute to the Circuit Court particularly as Circuit Court judges may lack the technical knowledge to enable them to deal with issues in respect to compensation for property where conflicting evidence is submitted. Why is the Minister not adopting the usual practice of referring the matters in dispute to an arbitrator as is done in the case of a local authority where a dispute arises in connection with the acquisition of land? As far as I can see, that would be a much more satisfactory way of dealing with these disputes than referring them to the Circuit Court because, as I pointed out, it is quite on the cards that a judge may not have the necessary technical knowledge to give a good judicial decision where there is conflicting evidence.
I think there are at least as complicated cases coming every day before the Circuit Courts and other courts and the country accepts the decision in these courts as fair and just. I think the judges have as much technical knowledge, or can get it, as any other tribunal is likely to have.
And they have much more experience than anybody else.
The Deputy is not aware that arbitrator's proceedings cost five times as much as court proceedings. It is a common delusion that arbitration is cheap.
In the light of this Bill, the law appears to be most virtuous. Would the Minister say why a case has to be brought to the Circuit Court? That seems to imply a limitation on the amount of compensation that can be awarded. I understand that the Circuit Court has a limited jurisdiction of £300.
I do not think that is so.
In ordinary civil cases.
If the case has to be brought to the Circuit Court, it would seem to imply that the maximum a person can apply for is £300.
There is no limit so far as I know.
It depends on the procedure. If it is brought by way of ordinary civil bill would not the limit be £300? Would the Minister clear up that point?
There is no limit. Deputy Hannigan raised that point on the Second Reading and I looked into it.
When you have a special statute of this kind giving jurisdiction to hear these cases without limit in the Circuit Court, the Circuit Court has conferred on it full jurisdiction to hear all claims of this character.
This is the pivotal section of the whole Bill. We have been precluded from putting down amendments which would entirely delete paragraph (a) and also paragraph (c). With regard to paragraph (c), I only put down the amendment to get information. In paragraph (c) compensation is confined to damage done to ships or boats which are either registered in the State under the Merchant Shipping Acts or else are owned by an Irish citizen or an Irish company. It may be that there is some other provision made for some other ships. Are other ships that might happen to be lying at the docks and might suffer as a result of bombing of the docks provided for?
They will not be covered by this Bill.
Are they covered by other Acts?
It is generally accepted that they would be insured.
I am not sure that war insurance applies to damage to ships inflicted inside territorial waters. It seems to be limited to risks on the high seas. The Minister might consider the case of foreign boats which are lying in our docks and which get damaged. It might be well worth considering at a time when we are suffering from dearth of supplies, part of which could be borne by foreign ships. We have had to search the world to get the few ships which we have at the moment. Is it worth while for the sake of a few pence to make conditions less attractive for foreign ships to come to our ports? The fact that these ships are not eligible for compensation may well prove the deciding line when we are seeking the services of foreign ships to bring commodities to our ports. Owners of foreign shipping may say: "We are not going to send any ship in there because if anything happens we shall get no compensation although nationally registered ships will."
That may not occur to the Minister as a very important point but I suggest that it would loom very largely in the consideration of ship owners, and it might mean a very considerable difference to us in the hire of foreign ships to bring commodities to our ports.
Paragraph (a) is important. We said on the Money Resolution that much change is not going to be got from the Minister on this paragraph. I said then that it is a definite hardship if the Minister is going to weigh against the claimant the difficulty of rebutting claims. If he is going to weigh that in the balance and press the balance in his favour on the other side, there is a question of doing justice. Let the Minister take the case where people have chattels. Most people have chattels in their houses, and they are not always of the jewellery type, but there might be people with personal property of the watch type and other articles that are here called personal ornaments. I asked a question on the Money Resolution, and I thought I got an affirmative nod from the Minister, that the phrase covered clothing. You have in the ordinary middle-class family a certain amount of the wealth of the family in articles of clothing and furniture and other things. No matter what a person could prove by way of the production of dockets or invoices or bills from shops to show that certain clothing was in the house, or if he produced evidence from other people that the daughter of the house had so many changes in outer garments in a particular period, or a man had so many changes in his outer garments, he is not going to get very much.
The only case made here so far is with regard to the difficulty of rebutting possible extravagant claims that will be made. The commonest feature in an ordinary running-down case is a claim for compensation for damage to clothing. If a person gets into conflict with a bus, a tram or motor car and gets tossed about the street, obviously his or her clothes suffer, and one of the items in every special claim is in respect of clothing. The courts rule on that very rigidly, and they insist on damage to clothing being carefully considered. All sorts of queries are raised—could the clothing not have been repaired, invisibly mended or cleaned? If it is a question of destruction of clothing, particulars have to be set out as to what the garment cost and when it was bought. There is not going to be such an amazing amount of difficulty in rebutting claims as the Minister imagines. The main point is to try to set up a person in the same position as he occupied before the damage was caused.
I wish the Minister would take a more lenient view of this matter. The committee recognise that some people will make extravagant claims, but the majority of these falsified claims will be found out. There is not going to be very much in the way of special damage claimed, and not proved, that a person will get paid for. I think the Minister should tip the balance a little more favourably towards the claimant. Most people will not have a great deal of postage stamps in their possession. That is not going to amount to a whole lot. Then, again, postal orders and post office orders are not generally held to any great extent.
As regards coins and postal orders and currency notes, if there is any satisfactory evidence produced the Currency Commission will repay.
I was dealing with the position as regards postage stamps and post office orders.
If people have any evidence in connection with those things, they will be paid for whatever has been lost.
Such things as coins and legal tender might matter particularly in these days.
There must be some evidence tendered, and if it is considered satisfactory the Currency Commission will repay.
I do not know if the Minister is aware of it, but there is a tendency these days for people, who would ordinarily think of keeping not more than £4 or £5 in the house, to keep as much as they possibly can in the event of the money being required in an emergency.
If the Currency Commission are satisfied with the evidence produced, they will repay.
So far as this prohibition about articles of personal adornment is concerned. I should like the Minister to look on the matter with a more lenient eye. I think we could assure him of our support as a Party if he becomes involved in anything in the nature of consequential loss. If he becomes liable to any greater burden and has to bring in some special provision in order to meet the situation, it might be a strain on us but we will pass it in silence, if we would not even pass it with applause.
Recognising that there is something in the Minister's case that it may be very hard to assess the true value of these things, to assess them in any kind of adequate way, I want to be allowed to amend paragraph (a) so that it will read: "the Minister may consider a claim or a judge may decide to submit to the Minister a report, in respect of loss or damage", and also "and the Minister may pay in respect of such loss or damage such amount as in his opinion is justified or necessary to prevent hardship." I submit that is not opening the door too widely, but it would put the Minister in the position of seeing that definitely established loss which involves hardship could be met by compensation, and the whole matter would be left in his hands after an investigation. Perhaps the Minister will accept something like that?
I have, all the time, a certain sympathy with the idea that it would be a hardship to rule out any compensation for articles of personal adornment. What decided me in standing by this was the discussion on the 1923 Act. That is what made up my mind, seeing so definitely that there might be a tendency to mulct the Exchequer.
That was 18 years ago and we did not know where the finances of the country were going to.
We were very young then.
I agree that articles of clothing ought not to be excluded. The clothing of a person ought to be paid for. I do not think it is excluded in the wording here. Perhaps some judges may look at it that way. Somebody might think that clothing was only an ornament.
It certainly is in some cases.
It is certainly not my intention that clothing should be excluded. As regards the other point about watches and jewellery, I will look into the matter again. The other things are covered by the possibilities of repayment that are now open to people who had coins or legal tender notes or other Government notes destroyed and who have evidence to convince the Currency Commission that they should get repayment. I will look into paragraph (a) and see if I can open the door somewhat.
Does opening the door include giving some consideration to the door I would like the Minister to open through amendment No. 23?
I do not know, but I shall have amendments Nos. 22 and 23 looked into.
The following amendment has been submitted by Deputy Norton and myself:—
In sub-section (1), page 7, line 48, to delete the words "on the site of the injured building".
I think it is covered by one of the Minister's amendments.
I do not know that my amendment covers what the Deputy has in mind, that the reinstatement must take place on the site. The Minister has power to waive that on certain facts being put before him. We do want to have the power to say, where an area in the city has been destroyed, that it should not be left derelict. The Minister wants to be able to give the local authority power to take over the whole site.
And the town planning authority would be the guiding light for that?
We are satisfied.
I move amendment No. 26:—
In line 50, after the word "valuable" to add the words "or serviceable".
Under the Bill compensation is to be subject to a reinstatement condition to this effect that it:
"shall be applied either in or towards erecting a new building on the site of the injured building or in or towards repairing the injured building, but so that the new or repaired building shall be not less valuable than the injured building...."
The test there is value. We all know that building costs have gone up. If a person is to put up a new building on the site of the old building, the position, I take it, will be somewhat like this. He will first of all get a valuation of what the old building was worth at the date of destruction, and then a certain amount of money will be given out. But even with that, taking into account how building costs have gone up, it will not be possible with the amount of the award to put up a building of the same value as the old one, though it may be possible to put up an equally serviceable building. Suppose the old premises consisted of a shop on the ground floor and some living accommodation above. It may have been a three-storey house. The new building might be collapsed into a two-storey house, and it might be an equally serviceable building. What I am aiming at is that the person given the compensation will have a limited amount of money to deal with. The sub-section provides that the new building shall be not less valuable than the old one. With the amount awarded it may not be possible to do that, but it may be possible to put up a building equally serviceable, and to do that within the amount of the award.
Take the case of a building erected 25 years ago that was damaged or destroyed. To put up one of the same type to-day would, I suppose, cost two and a half times the price of the original building. Our idea is that the compensation should be such as would put up a building that would be as useful and as serviceable as the building that was destroyed. I am advised that the word "valuable" is meant to include "serviceable". I take it that the compensation award will be such as will enable the owner to put up at least as good a building for his purpose as the old building was, whether it was a factory or a home.
Take the case of a small factory in which there is a certain amount of machinery. I understand the scheme of the Bill to be that someone will come along and put a value on the old building. He will find out the date it was erected, and get particulars with regard to depreciation, both of the old building and machinery. The owner will be told that he is now getting a new building and new machinery: that instead of having written off ten out of 20 years' life of the machinery, and ten out of 50 years' life of the building, he is getting a new start. Some deductions will be made in respect of these items. That might be all right in the case of a company that had some money in reserve. But take a proprietary business, in which you have an individual living from day to day, with no bank balance. What is his position going to be if he is told that, instead of being given a 40-year-old house he is getting a modern, substantial structure, but that it is going to cost him a bit? He has no money to add to the amount of the compensation awarded. In a case of that kind, I do not think the provision in the Bill should be insisted on, provided he puts up a building that is equally serviceable and does that within the limits of the amount of the award. Suppose you had a lot of damage done in Dublin by bombing, you might have a big number of people of that class in the position I have described.
As I have said, I am advised that the word "valuable" includes "serviceable".
I am sure it does, but I think "valuable" goes further than "serviceable". "Valuable" would put a bigger strain on the person who gets the compensation.
I am accepting the Deputy's point of view about this, and will look into the matter.
I move amendment No. 29:—
In sub-section (1), page 8, line 25, to delete the word "Minister" where it occurs twice, and to substitute in each case the word "Court", and in sub-section (2). lines 33, 36, and 40, page 8, to delete the word "Minister" and substitute therefor in each case the word "Court".
I want to bring in the court in various places in the section. Paragraph (e) provides for the payment of compensation in instalments—according as to how much of the reinstatement condition has been complied with. The sub-section, as I see it, will work in this way: that the court would grant a certain amount of money in compensation. The compensation would be tied to a reinstatement condition, and the Minister would dole out the money in instalments according as the building went up.
On the architect's certificate.
This paragraph (e) provides that the decision of the Minister as to whether or not a reinstatement condition has been complied with shall be final. I think that final decision ought to rest with the court. If a person gets money tied to a reinstatement condition and there is a difficulty at the end as to whether that reinstatement condition has been complied with or not—the Minister having certain retained moneys in his hands, towards the end—I think that the final decision with regard to the disbursement of the retained moneys ought to lie with the court and not with the Minister. I urge the same point in connection with the case where a reinstatement condition has become impracticable or where, in the end, it has to be modified or abandoned. I would not mind having the power in the hands of the Minister if there is an appeal to the court, but where it is a final and conclusive thing the court ought to be brought in. The circumstances are not likely to arise very often, I would say.
This is the same as No. 23, and no case arose under No. 23.
The argument cuts both ways; as it is only an odd case it ought to be sent to the court.
It is largely a case of administration. As the building goes up, the architect's certificate is submitted, and I think it would hardly be helpful to have to go into court with each architect's certificate. All they have to do is to come to the Minister for Finance and say: "There is the certificate; we want payment."
But suppose the Minister refuses payment, despite the architect's certificate, and says that he is advised that there is some deficiency, what is going to happen then?
It did not arise before, and is hardly likely to arise now.
I move amendment No. 30A:—
To insert at the beginning of the section the words "Subject to the provision of the next following sub-section of this section" and to add to the section a sub-section as follows:—
(2) Where the occupier of a building which sustained an injury to which this Act applies was compelled by reason of such injury to vacate such building and thereby incurred expenditure in excess of what he would have incurred if such injury had not been sustained, on the provision of housing accommodation for himself, for his family, or for his business or on the removal or storage of any movable article, compensation may be awarded under this Act in respect of such expenditure, but such compensation shall not exceed, as regards any particular claim, £30.
The effect of this provision is to enable compensation up to a maximum of £30 to be awarded in respect of out-of-pocket expenditure incurred, in circumstances arising out of injury to property, on the provision of alternative housing accommodation, or on the removal or storage of household effects or other articles such as shop goods.
When we were discussing the Financial Motion, we referred to this matter. We impressed on the Minister that there was really no necessity for imposing a limit of £30; that, if justice was to be done, each case ought to be dealt with on its merits. We pointed out that, where persons may claim that they had to get alternative housing accommodation, that they had to go to another place of business, or that they had to remove or store furniture, all those are expenses which can be easily vouched for, and that it is an unreasonable hardship and injustice to impose a limitation. There is not here the same necessity for safeguarding the Minister against the unknown as there is in the case of jewellery and so on. I would very strongly urge the Minister to drop that limitation of £30. He may ask what other limit should be put in. I suggest that there is no necessity to put in any limit. I should also like to have that section amended in such a way as to cover a case in which a person who had been ill in one of the houses which was damaged or destroyed, and who could have been adequately treated at home, had to go to hospital and incur expenses there. Again, that is definite and vouchable expenditure necessarily undertaken, and it ought to be met under this Bill.
We discussed this at fair length already on the Money Resolution, and I do not think I can add anything to what I have already said with regard to it. I do intend to meet here the type of cases mentioned by Deputy Mulcahy when he spoke on the Second Reading. In one case of which he gave details—he gave details of more than one—the total cost of moving and storing the furniture amounted, I think, to £50 or £51. I am prepared to go up to £50, in order to meet the Deputy to that extent.
May I point out to the Minister that there are people from Donore Avenue who have not yet got back to their normal accommodation? I quoted a number of cases on the Second Reading, as reported in columns 1956 to 1959 of the Official Debates. In one particular case a family had to go into a flat and pay £1 5s. 0d. weekly for six months, and the removal and storage of their furniture cost £37. In a case like that, assuming that those figures can be vouched for, £50 is only part of a definite and necessary expenditure which had to be undertaken. It is inconceivable that people who suffered this damage on, say, 3rd January, and who are still in alternative accommodation, could get out of it for £50, including the cost of removal and storage of furniture. When it is a question of a limited number of cases, in a definite catastrophe like this, and the sum involved is only the difference between £50 and £80, or between £50 and £100 or £110, I do not think anybody could see the necessity for imposing a limitation. Certainly the amount of money involved is not such as would create that necessity.
The maximum is to apply in respect of any particular claim? Does that mean that £50 will be the maximum, say, in respect of one person claiming (a) for alternative housing accommodation; and (b) for storage, or would it be £50 in respect of each of those sub-heads?
The £50 would be comprehensive in the case of one family moving its furniture and getting alternative accommodation.
Is the amendment agreed to?
As far as the amendment goes—I think it enshrines a definite principle—we accept it, but we are pointing out to the Minister that it ought to be amended again by the deletion of the words "thirty pounds".
I am making it £50.
The Minister is not just to himself, and he is not just to the position. I do not see what is the use of imposing a limit of £50 except to put an increased debt on struggling families who are already badly hit.
Of course, there would be a desire to get the £50 on the part of those who have not got that much of a claim, but on the other hand it is hard lines on the person who has a bigger claim, a much bigger claim than £50. Would the Minister reconsider that point between this and the Report Stage?
The Minister, I am sure, will take it out. After all, if you review the cases of the ordinary people who have been involved in this, the ordinary Dublin family, I think it will be admitted that any of them that have credit at all are in debt and this catastrophe makes their position much worse in that regard.
Oh, debt is a thing that the Minister knows nothing about.
Two thousand claims at £50 would be £100,000.
Yes, but supposing they prove every penny of it, and that they have lost it, is £100,000 anything to be crying about these days and in view of that catastrophe?
Of course, no money will repay these people for what they have suffered. That is admitted. Even if we made it £200,000 or £400,000 or £500,000, it would not repay them for what they have gone through.
Yes, but the Minister has to bear certain things in mind in this connection: first of all, the general economic conditions in Dublin at the present time, then the type of people that these people are— rearing families and so on and doing their best—then having this accident coming down on top of them, and then, unnecessarily, and simply because we want to think of a figure, we load them with an additional and unnecessary debt of £15 or £20 or £50. I do not think the Minister, standing over any particular case and judging it, and seeing that that thing has happened and that that expenditure has taken place, would say: "Well, we will give you £50." I think he would have to say: "We will pay you the cost that this has been to you."
Well, I have moved away very considerably from my stand on the Second Reading in regard to consequential loss. This was one of the things on which I gave way and I thought I was meeting the wishes of the House, to some extent at any rate.
The Minister is.
Yes, he is meeting the House to some extent. However, I take it that loss of business is completely out?
Yes, that is completely out.
Is the amendment agreed to?
The Minister is making the amount £50 now?
Well, I would certainly accept £50 as against £30.
And then come back at it again?
Yes, on Report Stage, and I am quite sure the Minister will think of it between now and the Report Stage.
I take it that "thirty pounds" is being withdrawn, and "fifty pounds" substituted?
Yes, and the amendment agreed to.
On the section, Sir, I take it that buildings and chattels are both in this?
Because we have it referred to in the word "injury", which includes "total or partial destruction and, in relation to chattels, includes loss or disappearance". Take such a chattel as a motor car. I understand that there have been motor cars destroyed in some of these houses. Is a motor car covered under this?
Tentatively covered, at any rate?
Very good. Well, then, there are certain other things that the Minister has left out, such as rent, rates, and taxes, which are charges that fall on properties.
I have had that matter in mind, but I was advised that it is a matter between the tenant and the local authority, and not a matter for us. This is a Bill for compensation, and I am advised that we could not very well bring the question of rates into this Bill.
That is as regards rates; but supposing a person is under obligation to pay rent for a house during the period in which he cannot use that house, he is not getting any recoupment for that?
Or if he owns one of these houses and, as the owner, is liable for income-tax charges in respect of his ownership of the house, he gets no relief there?
These are the two items I have in mind, which would involve hardship, it seems to me.
Well, from my experience—speaking of the Dublin Corporation at any rate—I think they would not demand payment of rent for houses that had disappeared.
Only for the period.
The period during which the house was uninhabitable?
The Minister would still get at it under Schedule A.
Supposing the property is so badly damaged as not to be usable for building purposes, it still stands there as a dwellinghouse, and the person will be charged on the five-fourths again for income-tax. However, the only outstanding thing that the Minister may think of, between this and the Bill going to the Seanad, is this thing of a person moving from one place to another. There is provision here for certain expenditure incurred in removing a business; that is to say, in the case of a person who looked around and wanted to start in a little business in another place, but he will not be allowed for loss of profits?
Well, that seems to be something of a hardship.
I move amendment No. 36:—
Before Section 11 to insert the following new section:
11.—Where a building is destroyed or damaged to such an extent as to be rendered uninhabitable by an injury to which this Act applies the following provisions shall apply, that is to say:—
(a) the ground landlord of the site on which such building was erected shall be stopped from claiming or recovering ground rent in respect of such site so long as such building is uninhabitable or as the case may be until a new building has been erected thereon and the tenant thereof has entered into possession of such building, and
(b) the owner or other person entitled to receive from the occupier of such building or from any other person having an interest therein any rent or equivalent payment shall be stopped from claiming or recovering such rent or equivalent payment so long as such building is uninhabitable or as the case may be until a new building has been erected to replace the building which has been destroyed and the tenant thereof has entered into possession of such new building.
The purpose of this amendment is to prevent ground landlords from claiming or recovering ground rents in respect of a site, the building on which has been rendered uninhabitable, until such time as a new building has been erected there and the tenant has entered into possession. The second portion of the amendment is designed to impose a similar restriction on the owner of the house so far as the collection of rent from the occupier is concerned. The general purpose of the amendment is to ensure that there will be equality of sacrifice all round. It would clearly be an injustice to impose on people, who have suffered the inconvenience of being bombed out of their houses, the obligation—or rather not to exempt them from the obligation—of having to pay ground rents.
This case is on all-fours with the case that Deputy McGilligan has been mentioning with regard to rates and income tax. With all respect to the Chair, I would say that, in my opinion, this does not come within the ambit of this Bill, which is a compensation Bill. If this principle were adopted here, then the next thing would be that you would have the ground landlord applying for compensation also.
Even if that were so, I think it would be much fairer to have some provision like this.
I do not think so. This amendment is concerned with agreements between a landlord and a tenant, and such agreements are outside the purview of a Bill of this kind. At any rate, it does not come very adequately into this Bill—the dragging in of something that, as far as I, at any rate, can see, would not come easily within a Bill of this type, the purpose of which is to give compensation to people whose property is damaged. I cannot see how it could properly be brought in here. I was told this morning that something of the kind was done in England, but it was done there by a special Act dealing with matters of this kind, such as contracts between landlord and tenant and local authorities with regard to rates and rents. In England, however, it certainly was regarded as not being within the ambit of a Compensation for Damage to Property Bill. If it is to be dealt with at all it should be dealt with by an Act entirely separate from an Act such as this.
Will the Minister undertake to have the point, which has been raised in this amendment, dealt with by some other Bill?
Well, I shall not undertake that.
I move amendment No. 37:—
Before Section 11 to insert the following new section:—
12.—(1) It shall not be lawful for the owner of a ground rent in respect of a building which has suffered an injury to which this Act applies to increase such ground rent on the rebuilding or reconstruction as the case may be of such building.
(2) It shall not be lawful for the owner of or other person having an interest in a building which has suffered an injury to which this Act applies on the rebuilding or reconstruction of such building to increase the rent payable out of or in respect of such building.
In view of what the Minister has said on the previous amendment, I do not see what we can do on this.
We dealt with that matter on the previous amendment.
Yes, but there is one rather serious point in connection with this. Supposing the occupier is leaving a house on which, under the Rent Acts, the rent is strictly controlled; when the house is rebuilt I presume that the landlord will be able to go into court and get what is called the permitted increase, and a very heavy rent may be fixed thereafter. People who are quite content to live under certain conditions and do not want better premises will find themselves possibly faced with a rent beyond their means.
It would have to be dealt with by a special Bill.
It should be met in this Bill by recognising that as a likely consequence and meeting it under the consequential damage section.
I move amendment No. 38:—
In line 54, page 8, to add at the end of paragraph (a) the words "and is entitled to be paid under such insurance in respect of such loss or part thereof."
This is a small matter. Under Section 11, generally, the court will inquire whether a person is insured, but there is a peculiar difference made in one part of the section as between a person being insured and being entitled to be paid the insurance.
I am told that the section covers it and that the Deputy's amendment is not necessary.
I do not think it is necessary but it is a question of clearing the matter up. If the court makes inquiries which result in the findings in the later paragraphs, it ought to inquire whether the person is insured and whether he is entitled to payment. I suggest that there should be no diminution in the award, unless it is clear, not simply that the person is insured, but that he is entitled to be paid. There might be some flaw in the insurance.
Will the Minister consider that matter? This is a case in which a person takes the precaution of insuring his premises. To that extent his action will save the State in the event of damage being done. Surely he is entitled, at any rate, to be repaid the premium. Will the Minister consider that?
I will. That is one annual premium or half annual premium.
If he insured from the beginning of the war, he should be entitled to a little more consideration. Let us assume that a person had taken out an insurance for £4,000 and that the premium was £400 or £500. If, by reason of his foresight and his expending £400 or £500 for 3 or 4 years, he saves the State practically £4,000 at least he is entitled to the stake he put down for that ten to one chance.
Is there a company doing that type of insurance against war damage?
I cannot say. I know it was done in connection with the previous disturbances we had.
I will look into that.
As a matter of fact, I think the sum involved in the pre-1921 cases was £100,000 or £150,000.
The damage was covered by insurance?
I move amendment No. 40:—
In line 37, page 9, after the word "Minister" to insert the words "or, on application made to the court, the court."
This is a small point. The whole section deals with this rather unlikely matter of the recovery of the chattels in respect of which compensation has been awarded. It is clear from the preamble to sub-section (1) that the cases covered are those where compensation is given either by the Minister or awarded by the court. I am simply aligning paragraph (d) with that, to say that the Minister or the court, on application to the court, may apportion the compensation. In other words, if it is a court award, the court should apportion it. It may be that the Minister does not regard the section as likely to be brought into use.
There were only two cases before.
I move amendment No 41:—
In page 10, line 3, to insert before the word "this" the words "paragraph (d) of Section 11 or paragraph (d) of sub-section (1) of Section 18 of".
It is merely a drafting amendment.
I move amendment No. 42:—
Before Section 14 to insert a new section as follows:—
14. Where any compensation under this Act or any sum under the next following section of this Act is payable by the Minister and any money is owing by the person to whom such compensation or sum is payable to a Minister of State or to the Revenue Commissioners or to the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland or to the Irish Land Commission, it shall be lawful for the Minister to pay and discharge out of the said compensation or sum the money so owing by the said person and to pay to the said person only the balance (if any) of the said compensation or sum remaining after such payment and discharge.
It is also a drafting amendment to substitute a new Section 14 for the section in the Bill.
The only addition is that the old Section 14 only met the case of compensation paid under the Bill, whereas this meets the case of compensation payable by a foreign Government.
It is a scandalous provision. If the Minister could blush, he would be a rosy red. It is a Shylock sort of business and we ought to forget that it was ever inserted in any Act.
The circumstances under which such a section was inserted previously are entirely different and distinct from the present circumstances. On that occasion the people concerned were trying to escape, and, in fact, I think one was apprehended on the boat. It was done in times and circumstances which were different from the present ones.
Admittedly the times are different.
Will the Minister contemplate that the man whose house is destroyed because the roof has been blown off is awarded compensation in this way: somebody makes the calculation that the old roof was worth £50 as it stood, and it would take £100 to put up a new one. They give him £50 compensation, and then the Department says that he owes £4 odd for income-tax and they are going to take that out of the compensation. It seems a scandal to recover it in that way. Are not the ordinary processes of law still open for the recovery of the debt? I am sure there will be very few cases under this Bill, as circumstances are entirely different now. It looks a real churlish business, something that Dickens would have loved to write about long years ago, and we should not put ourselves in that position.
I move amendment No. 43:—
After the word "Minister" where it occurs the third time to insert the words "with the consent of the said person."
This is an amendment to the new section just inserted. This is to allow the Minister to take the debt if the person agrees.
I will consider that.
I move amendment No. 44:—
In lines 29, 30 and also in line 39, page 10, to delete the words "may, if he so thinks fit" and substitute therefor in each case the word "shall".
I am moving to put in the word "shall" instead of the word "may" in certain cases, the situation being this. Supposing an external Government pays and it is found that the external Government has paid more than the court has awarded, why should not the Minister pay that over? This says that he may if he thinks fit.
I agree that he should pay.
Then make it "shall".
It will be paid over.
I hope so.
It will be paid; the Deputy need not worry about that.
I move amendment No. 45:—
To delete paragraph (e), page 10, and substitute a new paragraph as follows:—
(e) if or when any money has been paid to the Minister under the next following section by reference to the said injury, the Minister may pay to each council of a county and corporation of a county borough, out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas, such sum as he thinks proper by way of recoupment or partial recoupment of so much of the said money so paid to him as was paid by such council or corporation.
There was a slip in the original draft and this is to correct it.
I move amendment No. 46:—
To delete paragraphs (e) and (f).
My intention was to bring about a situation in which this would be a State contribution and not a contribution from the local authorities, and in anticipation of that, which refers to a later section, I am moving to delete paragraphs (e) and (f). I presume the Minister is going to insist on this being partially borne by the ratepayers of an area, instead of being a nation-wide charge. The circumstances, I think, are such that the nation would not be disposed to object to its being made a charge on the taxpayer, instead of on the ratepayer, because it has to be recognised that this type of damage is more likely to fall on certain areas than on others and, even inside the ambit of neutrality and not being at war, it is quite conceivable that a large amount of damage could be done in a particular area. I thought it better that it should be spread, instead of having part of it borne by the local authorities.
I move amendment No. 47:—
In sub-section (1), page 11, to delete in lines 7, 8 and 9 the words "(including sums retained by him under this Act out of compensation under this Act)".
Amendments Nos. 47, 48 and 49 go together. Amendment No. 47 is consequential on amendment No. 48. Section 16 (1) is defective as it stands inasmuch as deductions made under Section 11 (d), in respect of insurance, would fall to be included in ascertaining the amount of compensation paid within a particular year. The first part of the new sub-section (2) proposed in amendment No. 48 rectifies this. The second part of the new sub-section is to ensure that the entire amount recouped to the local authority under Section 18 (1) (a) should rank for the 25 per cent. assessment against the general body of local authorities under Section 16 (3). Amendment No. 49 is a drafting amendment, consequential on the new sub-section (2).
I move amendment No. 50:—
To add at the end of the section a new paragraph as follows:—
(f) notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing paragraphs, if such local authority are satisfied that temporary repairs to such building are immediately necessary, it shall be lawful for such local authority to carry out such repairs immediately.
This amendment is put in at the request of the City Manager. Its object is to ensure that, without consent or notice, that is, in the absence of the owner or occupier, the local authority may carry out immediate temporary repairs to enable premises to be occupied, to prevent further damage or deterioration, or to prevent injury to health.
I move amendment No. 51:—
To add to the section a new sub-section as follows:—
(2) Where before the passing of this Act a building suffered an injury to which this Act applies, any entry made or any act done by a local authority before the passing of this Act in accordance with a general or special authority given by the Minister for Local Government and Public Health for the purpose of ascertaining the nature and extent of such injury or for the purpose of repairing such building shall be and shall be deemed always to have been lawful.
The object of this amendment is to validate the entering and repairing of premises by local authorities before the Bill becomes law. The Dublin Corporation have already been authorised by the Minister for Local Government to carry out repairs.
I move amendment No. 52:—
Before Section 18 to insert the following new section:—
18.—Every person who was at the time of an injury to a building to which this Act applies in the enjoyment of a lease or letting agreement in respect of such building or the site on which it had been erected and the successor in title of such person shall if such lease or letting agreement expires within ten years of the date on which such injury was suffered be entitled to have such lease or letting agreement renewed on the same conditions and for a like period as such lease or letting agreement.
What I said in regard to amendments Nos. 36 and 37 applies also to this amendment. I cannot accept it.
I move amendment No. 52A:—
Before Section 20 to insert a new section as follows:—
20.—(1) Where a building has been injured by an injury to which this Act applies and the relevant district planning authority considers that the acquisition of the land consisting of such building and its site is expedient for the purposes of a planning scheme for their district (whether already made or in contemplation), such planning authority may take steps to acquire in accordance with the Schedule to this Act such land.
(2) Where a district planning authority has acquired in accordance with the Schedule to this Act any land, the following provisions shall have effect, that is to say:—
(a) if, immediately before the making of the order under the said Schedule by which such land was acquired, any person had any estate or interest in or right in respect of such land, such person may apply to such authority not later than three months after the making of such order for compensation in respect of such estate, interest, or right, and such authority shall pay to such person by way of compensation an amount equal to the value (if any) of such estate, interest, or right;
(b) the said amount shall, in default of agreement be determined by arbitration under and in accordance with the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, as amended by the Acquisition of Land (Reference Committee) Act, 1925 (No. 22 of 1925);
(c) for the purposes of the determination of the said amount, the value of such land shall be deemed to be the same as if the relevant building which sustained an injury to which this Act applies were still in the condition in which it was immediately before such injury occurred;
(d) no compensation shall be payable under this Act in respect of such injury;
(e) the Minister shall pay to such district planning authority the difference between the value of such land immediately before such injury occurred and the value thereof immediately after such injury occurred; and
(f) the difference mentioned in the immediately preceding paragraph shall, in default of agreement, be determined by arbitration under the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919, as amended by the Acquisition of Land (Reference Committee) Act, 1925 (No. 22 of 1925), in like manner as if such difference were compensation for land compulsorily acquired.
This amendment arises, firstly, out of the remarks of Deputy Benson. I had the matter re-examined and submitted to local authorities, the Dublin City Manager and Town Clerk, and the Department of Local Government, and the amendment is designed to deal with the situation from the town planning point of view, which might arise in a case such as that of the North Strand.
In sub-section (2) (a), there is a three-months' limit. Does that not seem to be a period which might have to be extended? It may, of course, interlock with some other notice-giving procedure.
I shall have it examined. It might have to be extended to six months.
It may be that it is required to interlock with some other provisions.
I think the City Manager and the Department of Local Government have examined it.
I move amendment No. 53:—
In page 13, line 25, to delete the word "three" and substitute therefor the word "ten".
There is a time limit of three years set out in this section, and the amendment seeks to have that increased to ten years. Any other number might be thought of as well as ten or three. I do not know why it is fixed at three years. The Minister has had the experience already with regard to quite a number of compensation Acts that amending Acts, to allow people to make claims afterwards, have had to be brought in. Is there any reason for this three-year period?
A desire to get it cleared up. This acts as a kind of impetus to get the Department itself, as well as the public, interested in getting the matter cleared up at an early date.
I recognise the necessity of having the thing brought to a conclusion. One ought to be able to get a clearing up of the burden which has to be borne in this connection, but three years is not a big period when one views any period in the light of the experience of other compensation Acts. I suggest that it be enlarged somewhat.
Let us agree to increase it to five years.
I move amendment No. 53A:—
After Section 24 to insert a Schedule as follows:—
ACQUISITION OF LAND BY DISTRICT PLANNING AUTHORITY.
1. A district planning authority proposing to acquire any land shall by order (in this Schedule referred to as a preliminary order) declare that they propose to acquire such land.
2. A preliminary order shall not be made save within—
(a) where the relevant injury to which this Act applies occurred before the passing of this Act—four weeks after such passing, or
(b) where it occurs after the passing of this Act—four weeks after its occurrence.
3. The occupier or any person having an estate or interest in or right in respect of the land to which a preliminary order relates may, not later than 21 days after the posting in accordance with paragraph 16 of this Schedule of a copy of such order on or near the land to which such order relates, apply to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health for the annulment of such order, and, on such application the said Minister may at his discretion either annual such order or restrict the application of such order to portion of the land to which it originally related.
4. Before determining an application under paragraph 3 of this Schedule, the Minister for Local Government and Public Health may hold a public inquiry into the subject matter thereof and Article 32 of the Schedule to the Local Government (Application of Enactments). Order, 1898, shall apply in respect of every such public inquiry in like manner as the said Article applies in respect of the local inquiries therein mentioned.
5. If no application is made under and in accordance with paragraph 3 of this Schedule for the annulment of a preliminary order or if, where any such application is made, on the determination thereof such preliminary order is not annulled, the district planning authority by whom such preliminary order was made shall by order (in this Schedule referred to as a vesting order) acquire the land to which such preliminary order relates or, where such determination has restricted the application of such preliminary order to part of such land, such part of such land.
6. The time within which a vesting order shall be made shall be—
(a) where no application is made under and in accordance with paragraph 3 of this Schedule for the annulment of the relevant preliminary order—14 days after the expiration of the time within which such application could have been made, and
(b) in any other case—within 14 days after the determination of the application under the said paragraph 3.
7. Where a district planning authority, before making a vesting. order, become aware that the land to be acquired by such order is subject (whether alone or in conjunction with other land) to any annuity or other payment to the Irish Land Commission, to any annuity or other payment to the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland or to any charge for estate duty or succession duty payable to the Revenue Commissioners on the death of any person, such authority shall forthwith inform the Irish Land Commission, the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland or the Revenue Commissioners (as the case may be) of the intention to make such order.
8. A vesting order shall be in the form specified by regulations of the Minister for Local Government and Public Health (which he is hereby authorised to make) and shall contain a map or plan of the land acquired by such order.
9. A vesting order made by a district planning authority shall operate to vest the land to which it relates in such authority in fee simple free from incumbrances and all estates, rights, titles and interests of whatsoever kind on a date stated in such order, not being earlier than 14 days after the making thereof.
10. Notwithstanding anything contained in paragraph 9 of this Schedule, where a district planning authority has acquired by a vesting order land which is subject, either alone or in conjunction with other land, to a purchase annuity, payment in lieu of rent, or other annual sum (not being merely a rent under a contract of tenancy) payable to the Irish Land Commission, such authority shall become and be liable, as from the date on which such land is vested in them by such vesting order, for the payment to the Irish Land Commission of such annual sum or such portion thereof as shall be apportioned by the Irish Land Commission on such land as if such land had been transferred to such authority by the owner thereof on that date.
11. The district planning authority by whom a vesting order was made may enter on and take possession of the land acquired by such order on the date on which such land is vested in them by such order or on any later date and, if any person obstructs or interferes with such entry or taking possession, such person shall be guilty of an offence under this paragraph and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding £20 or to imprisonment for any term not exceeding three months or, at the discretion of the court, to both such fine and such imprisonment.
12. Where any land has become vested by means of a vesting order in a district planning authority, such district planning authority shall, as soon as may be after the date of vesting, send to the registering authority under the Local Registration of Title (Ireland) Act, 1891, such vesting order, and on receipt thereof the registering authority shall cause the title of such district planning authority to the ownership of such land in fee simple to be registered under the said Act and such registration shall comprise a statement that such land is vested in such district planning authority subject to the payment of any purchase annuity, payment in lieu of rent or other annual sum or portion thereof, payable to the Irish Land Commission under paragraph 10 of the Schedule to the Neutrality (War Damage to Property) Act, 1941.
13. A district planning authority may use any land acquired by them by a vesting order for any purpose connected with their powers and duties (whether as such district planning authority or otherwise).
14. Where the whole or any part of any land acquired by a vesting order is not required by the district planning authority by whom it was acquired, such authority may sell or let by public auction or private treaty in any one or more lots the whole or such part (as the case may be) of such land, but no such sale or letting shall take effect unless and until the Minister for Local Government and Public Health has consented thereto.
15. Every sum received by a district planning authority in respect of the sale or lease of land acquired by a vesting order shall be applied by such authority for the purpose of their powers and duties (whether as such district planning authority or otherwise) in such manner as such authority, with the consent of the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, think proper.
16. Whenever a district planning authority make a preliminary or a vesting order, they shall, within seven days after making such order—
(a) post a copy of such order on or near the land to which it relates, and
(b) give a copy of such order to the occupier (if any) of such land and to every (if any) person having an estate or interest in or right in respect of such land whose existence and name and address of ordinary residence can be ascertained by such authority by reasonable inquiries, and
(c) give a copy of such order to the Minister.
17. Where a preliminary or vesting order contains a map or plan of the land to which such order relates, such map or plan may be omitted from the copies of such order posted and given in pursuance of sub-paragraphs (a) and (c) of paragraph 16 of this Schedule, but a copy of such map or plan shall be deposited in the office of the district planning authority making such order and shall there be kept open for inspection at reasonable times and the said copies of such order shall contain a statement that such map or plan is deposited and kept open for inspection as aforesaid.
18.—(1) Where a copy of a preliminary or vesting order is required to be given to any person, such copy shall be addressed to such person and shall be given to him in one of the following ways, that is to say:—
(a) by delivering it to such person;
(b) by leaving it at the address at which such person ordinarily resides;
(c) by sending by post in a prepaid registered letter addressed to such person at the address at which he ordinarily resides.
(2) For the purpose of giving a copy of a preliminary or vesting order to a company registered under the Companies Acts, 1908 to 1924, such company shall be deemed to be ordinarily resident at its registered office.
(3) For the purpose of giving a copy of a preliminary or vesting order to a corporate body, not being a company registered under the Companies Acts, 1908 to 1924, or to an unincorporated body, such body shall be deemed to be ordinarily resident at its principal office or place of business.
19.—(1) Where a preliminary order relating to any land is annulled under paragraph (3) of this Schedule, the provisions of this Act relating to applications for compensation shall have effect in relation to such land as if the relevant injury to which this Act applies occurred on the date of such annulment.
(2) Where the application of a preliminary order is restricted under paragraph (3) of this Schedule to a portion of the land to which it originally related, the provisions of this Act relating to applications for compensation shall have effect in relation to the remainder of such land as if the relevant injury to which this Act applies occurred on the date of such restriction of application of such order.
This amendment has been requested by the local authority and the Department of Local Government, so that they may have power adequately to deal with an area such as the North Strand or the South Circular Road— the North Strand more than the South Circular Road—in respect of replanning.
When is it proposed to take the Report Stage?
I hope to take the Report Stage to-morrow, but I am wondering about the amendments I have promised to consider. I know it would be depriving the House of an opportunity of re-examination, but we will have another run over it again to-morrow.
If the Minister puts the Report Stage down for to-morrow, he could get it and all other stages to-morrow.
There will not be very many amendments.
No, but there are some that I promised to re-examine.
Everybody is familiar with them.
I do not know the result of the last amendment that was passed. It might be worth while considering it.
It was an act of faith.
The last amendment is a very useful one.
The Minister will get the Bill to-morrow.