(Cavan): Section 9 is a far-reaching section. It is a section that excludes certain buildings from the Bill and in my opinion it could undo everything that the Bill sets out to do. The section reads:
(1) This Act shall not apply to the demolition in whole or in part or the use otherwise than for human habitation of any habitable house where—
(a) a planning authority or the Minister has, before the passing of this Act, decided to grant a permission or approval under section 26 of the Act of 1963 for development involving the demolition or change of use, or
I have no objection to that but I regard subsections (2) and (3) as being dangerous. It is very difficult to follow what exactly subsection (2) means. The subsection reads:
A permission under this Act shall not be required in relation to the use otherwise than for human habitation of part of any habitable house for, but only for, so long as the house is principally used as a dwelling and the change of use does not cause to reside elsewhere a person who, immediately before the change of use, was ordinarily resident in such house.
It is not easy to understand that subsection and while I am doing my best to follow it, I believe it could operate in the following way. A person could have a large house set out in flats and if the halldoor flat became vacant and was vacant for some time, the owner of the house could decide to turn the ground floor of that house into an office and, in my opinion, subsection (2) of section 9 would relieve him of the necessity of applying for permission to change the use of the house because, of course, the ground floor or halldoor flat being vacant, there would be no question of anybody being compelled to reside elsewhere as a result of the change in use. The community could be deprived of this house which was ordinarily used for human habitation.
I know the subsection says that the house shall be excluded from the measure for, but only for, as long as the house is principally used as a dwelling.
I should like the Minister to tell us what he has in mind in relation to subsection (3) which says:
This Act shall not apply in relation to the following, namely—
(a) the demolition of a habitable house in case the demolition is of a class, or complies with conditions, prescribed for the purposes of this subsection,
(b) the use of a habitable house otherwise than for human habitation in case such use is of a class, or complies with conditions so prescribed, and
(c) a habitable house situate in an area which for the time being is so prescribed.
This subsection, in so far as I can see, gives the Minister power to make regulations prescribing certain things which, in effect, exclude whole streets or areas from this subsection. It is a pity that some of the Labour Deputies who spoke at such length on some of the other sections did not remain to try to find out what this particular subsection means. It is my opinion that we are dealing with this measure because the Minister was enabled to make regulations under the Planning and Development Act and when he was making those regulations he decided that demolition was not development and, therefore, demolition was excluded from the Planning and Development Act. In other words, it became unnecessary to get planning permission to knock down a house or to knock down a whole street of houses That is the only reason why the Minister found it necessary to introduce the Bill with which we are now dealing. As I have said, subsections (2) and (3) of section 9 can undo all that the other sections, especially section 3, sets out to do. I shall not say any more at this stage but I should like the Minister to tell me and to tell the House what, precisely, is the meaning of subsection (2) and what he has in mind in subsection (3).