I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. This Bill is being introduced to amend and extend the Housing (Gaeltacht) Acts 1929 and 1934 and to repeal the Housing (Gaeltacht) (Amendment) Act, 1939. The general purpose of this measure is to make more money available for Gaeltacht Housing and to bring the level of the grants available under the Housing (Gaeltacht) Acts into line with the revised grants for which provision has been made under the Housing (Amendment) Act, 1948.
The Housing (Gaeltacht) Act, 1929, which was the first and principal Act passed by the Oireachtas to cater for the special housing requirements of the Gaeltacht, made provision in respect of grants and loans for one quarter of a million pounds (£250,000). Subsequently under the amending Acts of 1931, 1934 and 1939 further moneys were made available which brought the aggregate sum by way of grants and loans for housing in the Gaeltacht to three-quarters of a million pounds (£750,000). Under the present Bill it is proposed to increase this amount by a further sum of one hundred and fifty thousand pounds (£150,000), thus increasing the aggregate amount available under the Acts to nine hundred thousand pounds (£900,000). This is being done under Section 2 of the Bill. The balance remaining from the £750,000 referred to is approximately £90,000. This balance together with the provision of £150,000 proposed under this Bill, will give us a total provision of £240,000 for new grants and loans for housing in the Gaeltacht.
As Deputies are no doubt aware, the grants available under the Housing (Gaeltacht) Acts for persons erecting houses for their own occupation were up to the time of the passing of the Housing (Amendment) Act, 1948, greater than those obtainable under the general Housing Acts. By Section 3 of this Bill I propose to restore the differential in favour of applicants from the Gaeltacht. Under sub-section (1) (a) of Section 3, I propose to increase the grants in respect of dwelling-houses, the erection of which commenced on or after the 1st day of November, 1947, to the sums specified in the First Schedule to this Bill. The maximum grants which could be made heretofore were related to the aggregate rateable value of all the property of the applicant. They were: (a) £90 where the aggregate rateable value did not exceed £5, (b) £85 where the aggregate rateable value exceeded £5 but did not exceed £10 and (c) £80 where the aggregate rateable value exceeded £10. For the future, I propose that the making of grants on a valuation basis shall be discontinued in respect of applications sanctioned under Section 3 of this Bill, and that the grants in respect of dwelling-houses the erection of which commenced on or after 1st November, 1947, will be as follows: Where sewerage and piped water supply are not available: (a) for a house with three rooms, £150; (b) for a house with four rooms, £200; and (c) for a house with five rooms or more, £250. For similar roomed houses where sewerage and piped water supply are available, the grants will be (a) £200, (b) £250, and (c) £300.
The maximum improving grant under the present Acts is £40. Sub-section (1) (b) of Section 3 provides for the increase of this improving grant to a maximum of £80, in the case of an improvement or extension commenced on or after 1st November, 1947.
The new housing grants of sub-section (1) (a) of Section 3 represent an increase in each case of £25 over and above the maximum grants available for similar houses under the Housing (Amendment) Act of 1948. The increased improving grant provided for in sub-section (1) (b) of Section 3 is the same as that available under that Act.
Sub-section (2) of Section 3 makes provision for grants in respect of dwelling-houses the erection of which commenced on or after the 1st November, 1945, but which were not occupied on or before 1st November, 1947. The amounts of these grants, which are specified in the Second Schedule to this Bill, will be as follows:— Where sewerage and piped water supply are not available (a) for a house with three rooms, £105; (b) for a house with four rooms, £140; and (c) for a house with five rooms or more, £175. For similar roomed houses where sewerage and piped water supply are available the grants will be (a) £140; (b) £175 and (c) £210. These grants, which are to be made available irrespective of rateable values, represent an increase in each case of £17 10s. over and above the maximum grants available in similar cases under the Housing (Amendment) Act, 1948.
I also propose in this Bill to increase the amount in the case of an improving grant where the application therefor was made before the 1st day of November, 1947, and where the improvement or extension, in respect of which the application was made, was commenced but not completed before the 1st November, 1947. In sub-section (3) (a) and (b) of Section 3, I am making a provision to have the improving grant in such cases increased to £60. This is in line with what has been done under the Housing (Amendment) Act, 1948.
Sub-section (4) of Section 3 is self-explanatory. As I mentioned earlier, I propose that the making of grants by reference to aggregate rateable value will be discontinued in respect of future sanctions. This sub-section is inserted to cover my proposal in this regard. It provides that the amount of any grant which may be sanctioned under Section 3 of this Bill will not be subject to the limitations imposed by the relevant sections of the 1929 and 1934 Acts, whereby the amount of the individual grant was governed by the aggregate rateable value of all the property of the applicant.
As the Acts stand at present, a person to whom a grant has been made may also be provided with a loan when it is apparent that the assistance given by way of grant is not sufficient to enable the work of house erection or improvement to be undertaken. In the case of the erection of a new dwellinghouse the maximum loan which may be sanctioned at present is £80. I propose in Section 4 to increase the amount of this loan to a new maximum of £100. In this connection, I am providing in the Second Schedule of this Bill for the repeal of sub-section (2) of Section 3 of the 1934 Act which limited the aggregate amount of building grant and loan in any individual case to £160, as such provision could no longer apply in the altered circumstances. No change is being made in the amount of the maximum loan of £40 which is available in cases of improvement or extension of existing dwelling-houses.
Section 5 provides for the cessation, after the enactment of this Bill, of the sanctioning of grants for the erection of poultry-houses and piggeries. In order to provide for any cases where the sanction has already been issued and where the work has not so far been completed the relative sections in the 1929 Act are not being repealed. The Minister for Agriculture has agreed that provision in the Housing (Gaeltacht) Acts for grants for poultry-houses and piggeries is no longer necessary in view of the general farm buildings scheme being administered by his Department, under which larger grants are available than those provided for under the Housing (Gaeltacht) Acts.
Following on Section 5, provision is being made in Section 6 to repeal sub-sections (2) and (3) of Section 7 of the 1929 Act.
These sub-sections refer to poultry-houses and piggeries and made the granting of assistance for house erection or improvement conditional on the provision of suitable accommodation for the keeping of poultry and pigs. Under Section 6, the whole of the 1939 Act is also being repealed. This Act dealt only with the aggregate amount provided by the Oireachtas for grants and loans, and is now superseded by Section 2 of the present Bill.