Ceisteanna—Questions Oral Answers - Dublin Flat Charges.

18.

asked the Minister for the Environment if he is aware that flatdwellers in Dublin are being charged exorbitant rent for accommodation which in many cases is of a very poor standard; and the action he proposes to take in view of the financial and social hardships being caused to flatdwellers.

While I am aware of the pressure of demand for rented accommodation in Dublin I have no specific information on the level of rents and no evidence to suggest that there is widespread charging of exorbitant rents. Except where the Rent Restrictions Acts apply to certain unfurnished accommodation there is no general control on rent levels and I have no power to intervene to set such rents.

Is the Minister in a position to clarify whether his Department, the Department of the Environment, or the Department of Justice have responsibility in administering the law and bringing in new legislation in relation to the whole matter of landlord and tenant law and residential property?

As the Deputy knows, there is a case before the Supreme Court at present. Part of the law was found to be unconstitutional in the High Court and the matter is now before the Supreme Court. Until there is a decision on that, I shall not be in a position to bring in a new Bill. It will be my Department that will introduce the new Bill.

In view of the fact that the Supreme Court can say either yea or nay to the High Court's decision, will the Minister say if the heads of a Bill have been prepared by his Department?

Yes, I am looking into that.

Have the heads of a Bill been prepared and have they been circulated to the Cabinet and to other Government Departments.

The Government know about it, but I do not know what the Supreme Court judgment will be and it is very difficult for me to say what the position will be. The Deputy may take it that when the decision is made we will immediately look at the position and take the necessary action.

With the indulgence of the Chair, I shall ask the question briefly again. Has a Bill been prepared in anticipation of the Supreme Court's decision and, if so, have the heads of that Bill been circulated to the other Government Departments? There is a yes or no answer to that.

I do not wish to say that in view of the fact that the case is before the Supreme Court.

A final supplementary from Deputy Tully.

In view of the fact that the previous Government decided to transfer responsibility from the Department of Justice to Local Government, now Environment, and that most of the work was done prior to 1977, would the Minister not agree that, no matter whether there is a Supreme Court case or not, the heads of the Bill should have been prepared before now and, if not, will he guarantee that it will be done immediately, at least the preparation of the Bill because the remainder of the material should have been — and was to my knowledge — ready in the Department?

We have looked into all that and immediately the Supreme Court decision is made we should be ready to bring in a Bill.

That is rubbish. They will all be evicted by the time it is through the Oireachtas.

I can assure Deputies that it will not be three months.

The Minister is not assuring anybody.