Planning and Development (Amendment) Bill 2015 [Seanad]: Committee and Remaining Stages

Section 1 agreed to.
SECTION 2

Amendments Nos. 1, 1a, 1b and 3 to 7, inclusive, are related and may be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, line 14, after “requirements” to insert “that, notwithstanding subsection (1), are required”.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 2, as amended, agreed to.
NEW SECTIONS

Amendment No. 1a has already been discussed with amendment No. 1.

I move amendment No. 1a:

1a. In page 3, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

“3. Section 28 of the Principal Act is amended by inserting the following after subsection (1C):

“(1D) These guidelines shall include, but are not limited to, the standards for apartments laid out in Tables 1, 2 and 3 and in paragraphs (a) to (e):

(a) the minimum sizes for apartments in these guidelines shall be as laid out in Table 1;

(b) the minimum ceiling height for apartments in these guidelines shall be 2.7m;

(c) the minimum storage areas for apartments in these guidelines shall be as laid out in Table 2;

(d) the minimum balcony size for apartments in these guidelines shall be as laid out in Table 3;

(e) the guidelines shall include a provision that all apartment developments contain adequate play areas for children;

(f) in drawing up the guidelines, the Minister shall have due regard to Ireland’s emissions and climate obligations and targets.

Table 1

No. of bedrooms

Minimum apartment size

1 bedroom

45 sq. m.

2 bedroom

80 sq. m.

3 bedroom

100 sq. m.

Table 2

No. of bedrooms

Minimum storage area

1 bedroom

3 sq. m.

2 bedroom

7 sq. m.

3 bedroom

9 sq. m.

Table 3

No. of bedrooms

Minimum balcony size

1 bedroom

6 sq. m.

2 bedroom

8 sq. m.

3 bedroom

10 sq. m.

".

The amendment seeks to insert certain changes in the section. The guidelines should include but would not be limited to the standards for apartments laid out in Tables 1, 2 and 3 and paragraphs (a) to (e), inclusive. The minimum sizes for apartments in the guidelines should be as laid out in Table 1. The size of 45 sq. m for a one-bedroom apartment refers back to the old legislation. I am not opposing the Government's move. It is, obviously, a climbdown from Dublin City Council's recommendation of March 2007 of 55 sq. m. for a single bedroom apartment. We can live with small sizes for single bedroom apartments.

Likewise, I have not opposed the idea of a studio apartment, given that more and more people are living separately and alone in Irish society than ever before. Nine out of ten people who got married last year will probably separate within 15 to 20 years - a lot of them perhaps within ten years. There is nothing wrong with this; I am separated myself and can recommend it. It is all part of life and I have no regrets either way. There is a demand for small studio apartments. The average size of a one-bedroom apartment in Paris is about 35 sq. m. The idea that we only build one bedroom apartments here of 55 sq. m is a little off the wall.

I have included 80 sq. m as the minimum size of a two-bedroom apartment and 100 sq. m as the minimum size of a three-bedroom apartment. The Government might think that is draconian, but I do not. We have a serious problem with apartments in Ireland and how we approach their construction. We have never built apartments fit for family use. I have to hold up my hands and say that, as a company, we did not build apartments that were good enough for families either. If we are to avoid covering the country in concrete, Ireland will have to embrace the idea of apartment living. If we are to do so, however, it is unfair to expect people to raise families in the apartments we have been building. Therefore, my proposal for a minimum size of 80 sq. m for a two-bedroom apartment and 100 sq. m for a three-bedroom apartment is geared towards the idea that we must stop thinking about apartments being a transitory place for single people or childless couples until they have children and then have to move to a house. That is not the way forward. We have to start building apartments in which families can live. There are many aspects to it, but we have to examine the European model. I have looked at many apartments elsewhere in Europe in which families live very well. They work, but they are a very different animal from what we are producing here.

In dealing with the spatial aspects if one is to build two-bedroom apartments of less than 80 sq. m, they will not be fit for family use. There are, obviously, other dimensions in terms of what an apartment should have if it is to be fit for use by a family. For example, a big problem in Dublin city is that there are no play areas for kids in apartment complexes. We provide basement car parks and sometimes small landscaped areas in a courtyard, but there are no proper play areas. In general, apartments do not have nearly enough storage space or large balconies. Some may think it is all right for Europeans on the Continent to have balconies because they enjoy suitable weather conditions. In fact, however, the winters in northern Italy are much colder than in Ireland, yet one sees big balconies there. Of course, they have better summers than we do, with much more heat. They are able to seal balconies for the winter with perspex or glass and remove it during the summer. We could do the same here. It makes a massive difference if an apartment is airy and has balcony space.

In the Bill the Minister of State is agreeing to move to a depth of 2 m for balconies. The amendment also addresses the issue of minimum balcony sizes. It proposes a minimum size of 6 sq. m for a one-bedroom apartment, 8 sq. m for a two-bedroom apartment and 10 sq. m for a three-bedroom apartment. It is doable. In the last apartment complex we built, the two-bedroom apartments had an average of just under 12 sq. m. It makes a considerable difference to an apartment. To build good apartments the element of a balcony is crucial.

The same applies to storage space. There was no storage space in the original apartments we built in Dublin in the 1990s. Some apartments have almost zero storage space and one would wonder how it could work. It does not work very well. Storage space is not something one thinks of in a house because there is not really a shortage of it in a house, but it is a big challenge in an apartment. Especially in an apartment block of 30 to 40 units, there is nowhere else to put stuff. With a house there can be a garage, outhouses etc., but there is always space. There is an attic in a house. There is no attic in the average apartment. There is a 300 mm concrete floor sitting above one's head. There is a huge lack of storage space. One just cannot pretend that the need is not there because it is. One might say that people should not clutter so much, but everybody has things and needs storage space for them.

The sizes I have specified in the amendment are not unreasonable. I am perfectly comfortable to live with the idea of one-bedroom and studio apartments being small. However, will an apartment be habitable if we adhere to these guidelines? It will be if we build it properly. Will it be built properly? I have always insisted that the building regulations in Ireland are A1; there is absolutely nothing wrong with our building regulations. We have powerful building regulations in Ireland and we do not need to adjust them. However we need to apply them. If we want to be sure they are being applied, we need supervision. That is why, as the Minister of State will know, I argued very strongly here for the return of independent inspections by the local authorities. It would play a huge part in ensuring things were done right.

In every profession on the planet there are people who are really keen to do things right and those who are not so keen to do things right and want to cut corners. It is not just builders; it is everybody across the board. In every profession some people take a more positive approach to how they do their work than others. Building is no different. Architects and engineers are no different. We need inspection. It is not unrelated to us allowing military planes go through Shannon without inspecting to see what is inside them. We will never know what is inside them unless we look. I can understand the Government's reason for not looking because I do not think it would like to see what is in them.

If we look at construction, the return of the tariff of works would be very positive. I think the Minister of State agrees with me. Anyone who has worked in the profession knows it makes sense to check what is done; that is not rocket science. There is another aspect. Obviously, we are moving into a different era with regard to housing in Ireland. Not long ago 85% of Irish people owned the place in which they were living. I do not believe that day will return. I do not see a problem with that. Home ownership is just over 70% at the moment. In our lifetime it could reach 50:50 between home ownership and otherwise, including social and rented housing.

Obviously, not much will happen between now and the general election, but the next Government, whatever its make-up, will need to take a serious look at how we do housing. For example, in talking about social housing in Ireland at the moment, we think of these large ghettos that have not really worked well. They were built badly. The raw material used and the workmanship were of the cheapest kind. We built loads of them together and there was no mixture. As they were not mixed very much with private housing, they became problematic and there are major social problems attached to many of the social housing developments in Ireland. However, it does not have to be that way and it could be done differently. I believe we will have to do it differently.

For example, when Part V was in operation, even as poor as it was and it did not serve us well, when people were building 20% social or affordable units, builders and developers were getting away with using cheaper material in the social units. It was not legal but they were not being pulled up on it. I would challenge the State to tell me where the builder or developer was pulled up on that. I knew of it happening on a wholesale basis. It was mad.

Even in the same development, the social and affordable units were not being built properly. White deal was being used for skirting, doorframes and doors in the social and affordable units, whereas solid wood was being used in the ones to be sold privately. It should not have been allowed, but why did it happen? Nobody was watching; nobody was inspecting. Nobody knew what was happening in the apartments. We had an inspection rate of less than 15%. Even then, the inspectors were so under-resourced and they had so much to inspect, they were not even going that far; that was way past what they were looking at. They had bigger issues to look at as far as they were concerned. There was no inspection of the material being used.

The level of workmanship being applied was a different area again. That also was not being inspected. If one is concerned about the level of workmanship that goes into the building of an apartment or a house, it requires constant monitoring because otherwise one does not know what is happening. Homebond used to inspect the foundations, wall plate and roof. Did Homebond know about what happened in between? It did not. Its inspectors very rarely made it out for the three inspections. So they knew bugger all about what was in the building.

There are so many things that can be done cheaply in between. The construction industry is a problematic industry. The capacity for cheating is massive. There is huge potential for saving money in many areas along the way. Some people do it in order to save loads of money and there is nobody there to inspect them. I would be a huge advocate of consistent on-site inspection. Someone must be on-site all the time to ensure things are done right. Even if we are going to adhere to minimum sizes here and there, we will still have the problem of doing things right. We will still have the challenge of whether we are going to start doing local authority social housing well.

I could bring people here to look at social housing in Turin and they would not believe what they would see. It is better than how we do private housing here and it works very well. I could bring them to some fantastic developments that work so well and are so good to rear families in. It is magic. We can learn from other people. The Italians had toilets 2,000 years ago and we were swinging out of the trees 200 years ago. We should not be afraid to learn from them.

I am convinced that housing will remain a huge challenge for the next Government. I do not see a serious appetite to deal with it. We keep introducing measures do deal with various aspects of the problem but it is all sticking plaster stuff. We must rethink the entire approach to housing. I fully agree with the Central Bank's requirements on mortgages in terms of the 20% and 80% ratio. That makes sense. It will stop people buying property on which they might not be able to afford the repayments at a later stage. However, it will mean that only 50% of people in this country will be able to afford to own their home. The State must take up the slack and take responsibility for the sector. We must provide housing. The rental market is not the answer. I am sorry but the rental market will not provide the solution to the vacuum. I understand the Government’s argument on rent supplement and the reason it is way below the rents being charged. Of course it is. If the rent supplement was dramatically increased there is a good chance rents would also increase. The chances of the State being able to control the rental market is slim. If the chances were slim a couple of years ago they will be slimmer in the future.

We have seen a major shift in property ownership in this country. When the developers ran into trouble a lot of property was put into NAMA. A total of €74.8 billion worth of par value assets went into NAMA, which became the biggest real estate body on the planet. There was also a lot of property in other banks. Most of it was sold in fire sales. Ulster Bank sold property with a par value of more than €5 billion to Cerberus for less than €1 billion. NAMA has sold more than 90% of the rental properties in this country to US investment funds. That is a major change in the rental market. All of a sudden Irish people do not own those rental properties. I have heard people giving out and saying the problem is that Fine Gael backbenchers own properties and that is the cause of the problem with the market. They are not the problem. Someone owning a couple of properties and renting them out is not the problem. There was nothing wrong with that. Anyone that makes such an argument is living in cloud cuckoo land. I am worried about the fact that the Minister for Finance is comfortable with having professional landlords in this country, be it Hines, Kennedy Wilson or whoever else. They now have a cartel in our capital city and that is having a dramatic effect.

I built apartments in Dominick Street. The rent cost €900 a month three years ago and now they are €1,500. This is a street in the city centre where people are afraid to walk when it is dark. The reason for the high rent is that US vulture funds now control the bulk of the rental market in Dublin city and they are getting a hold on it in other cities. Things will not change dramatically in the future because these buggers have bought up most of the good development sites that were among the stressed properties that were in trouble with the banks or ended up in NAMA. The vulture funds have bought them up and are getting planning permission to build on the sites. However, they will not sell the properties, they will rent them because this is a great city for rental income. It costs a maximum of €400 a month to rent an apartment in Turin and most Italian cities yet one can get €1,500 a month in Dominick Street, a working class area where the lighting is not good enough at midnight.

We have a serious problem. The Minister for Finance might like professional landlords but I am not so keen on them. Neither am I keen on the fact that we have outsourced our rental market to US vulture funds who have only one ambition, namely, to make the maximum money every year for their shareholders.

At least four more Deputies want to speak. I am not stopping Deputy Wallace because I cannot as it is Committee Stage but I wish to make that point.

Okay. I do not wish to take all the time so I will let someone else speak.

The next speaker is Deputy Clare Daly who has also tabled an amendment.

I will add to some of the points made. Section 28 of the principal Act deals with ministerial guidelines for building standards. Deputy Wallace has dealt with a number of those. One of the problems we have and the reason we oppose section 3 is that we do not think concentrating more power in the hands of the Minister is the right move to make. We discussed that on Second Stage. The belief is that part of the Bill has its origin in the moves by Dublin City Council to have a higher standard than the minimum. It has been under pressure for many years to change that situation. My view is that the council was quite good in the stance it took. Not only are we providing for increased ministerial input but there is no provision for democratic oversight.

In amendment No. 1b we insert a provision that would subject any guidelines drawn up by the Minister to a vote of the Houses of the Oireachtas. That is reasonable if the views of Members are to be taken into account on a critical area of concern. In amendment No. 1a we set out minimum standards for apartments. Deputy Wallace dealt with some of them. They are not exhaustive but we see them as being basic, minimum standards for many different elements which should comprise a modern living space. It will be necessary to draw up more detailed guidelines and while we wish to leave it open to local authorities to set higher standards we think it is only right that the national guidelines should be subjected to parliamentary scrutiny. That is very important and it is contained in amendment No. 1b in this group of amendments.

The Minister is on record as saying that even if the Bill is passed we will still, supposedly, have the most generous minimum apartment standards in Europe, but we cannot say that for certain because we have not seen the guidelines yet and we do not know what they are. The current national minimum guidelines might be generous compared with London, for example, but London is not a good benchmark given the problems families and others have trying to live in London. I would not set up London as an example. The reality is that our standards are miles behind other European cities. For example, the minimum guideline size for a two-bedroom family apartment in Germany is 88 sq. m. In the 2007 national guidelines, which it is unlikely the Minister will change all that much when he updates and publishes the new guidelines, the minimum size for a two-bedroom apartment is 73 sq. m, which is 15 sq. m less than the minimum in Germany. That amount of space is the size of a living room in a family home. That is the issue we are trying to address.

I agree with the points made by Deputy Wallace. We need a cultural shift in attitude to apartment living, but we are not going to get it if people are subjected to dog boxes in tiny spaces that are not suitable for family life. Current planning is based on low density housing in the suburbs which contributes to climate change because people are forced to transport their children to access amenities and that is not a good way forward. Apartment living can be good if it is done properly with the minimum standards we want to include such as decent, well insulated and sound-proofed large apartments with high ceilings that one does not bang one’s head off when one goes in, where one has enough storage space in medium density blocks with some outside space. That is the best way to raise a family but it is not the norm in this country.

It is the norm in Germany, Italy, Austria and elsewhere. It allows for a concentration of amenities such as playgrounds, shops, post offices and restaurants. Cycling and walking can be encouraged in that environment. That is the way forward rather than what we have now where people are condemned to low density, suburban living, with a long commute, adding to our climate change and emission standards.

The problem we have is that 40% of all of Ireland's residential housing stock was built between 1991 and 2010. That is the biggest proportion of new housing stock anywhere in Europe, with Spain coming second. Given that very little construction has happened since 2007 when the new national guidelines were brought in, the majority of existing units were built in that period of explosive growth when the standard size was 55 sq. m for two-bedroom apartments. I return to the point I made on Second Stage that we do not have full data on this area. We believe there is a sufficient stock of small units, of small two-bedroom apartments and small two-bedroom houses, and that we need to consider building larger apartments. That is what our amendments are geared towards because we believe that we have enough of the rest.

Ireland has the single greatest proportion of single family houses, relative to apartments, than anywhere in Europe. Some 90% of our residential stock is made up of houses but only 10% of it comprises apartments. By contrast, it is 40% in Germany and just under 35%. We have an under-provision of apartments with a knock-on effect in terms of poor transport policy, energy efficiency and a spatial strategy. What we are trying to do in these standards is to direct a new approach to a better type of living, which will provide a better quality of life and will be better in terms of meeting climate change obligations into which we must be linked.

Insulation in Ireland is laughably bad. It is frightening and, combined with the dearth of apartment living, it means that Ireland has the greatest CO2 emissions per useful floor area in its buildings by miles compared to the rest of Europe, including eastern Europe. Irish buildings emit more than 120 kg of CO2 per sq. m. By comparison, emissions in Italy are just over 40 kg of CO2 per sq. m while in Germany, emissions are around 65 kg per sq. m. The average in Europe are 54 kg per sq. m, which in light of the discussions that took place in Paris last week are incredibly important. To talk about more generous minimums, more storage space, bigger balconies and higher ceilings is not socialist utopia or anything like that, far from it. We would say that Germany, which has had quite a right-wing government since 2005, would be horrified by the quality and style of accommodation that Irish people are expected to live in and by the dreadful state of our public transport network. What we have is the legacy of a failure on the part of successive Governments to stand up to the Construction Industry Federation and so on. Some 2,700 ha of land across all the Dublin local authorities are zoned resident. In the heart of the inner city, 60 ha are already zoned. That is about 96 football pitches worth of land that is already zoned but nothing has happened on it. We are trying to put better standards in place for such zoned land in order that we can have some quality, family-type living in the heart of the city centre.

I refer to the points Deputy Wallace made about real estate investment trusts, REITs and the role of NAMA in distorting the market. What is happening is frightening. It is not just the numbers of units that have been handed over to US vulture funds but the Irish Residential Properties REIT has become Ireland's largest landlord, acquiring 800 units from NAMA last year, and that group has decided to up the rents by 20%. The same group is on the verge of acquiring 442 units from NAMA in Tallaght for €83 million and 40 units in Terenure for €12 million. The annualised rents in these dwellings, which have 85% occupancy, are approximately €5 million, so this group is already making money. These units are being given over for a song and because of the scale and the size of these organisations, they are distorting the rental market, which is having an enormously negative impact on our citizens and leading to many of the problems all of us on all sides of House have to grapple with on a daily basis. That is why we are putting forward this group of amendments. We think it will put shape on development as we move forward, it will give some accountability to the Houses of the Oireachtas, rather than just Minister per se and it will still allow the local authorities a certain leeway to build beyond the minimum standards.

I welcome the opportunity to speak on this Bill. The concern is that this Bill could become the planning and developers (amendment) Bill 2015. Most people would agree that the quality of the units built during the boom was pretty poor. I was in an apartment in my neck of the woods, the main living room of which was shaped like a banana, and when I sat on the couch in that room, the back of which was to one of the walls, my feet were able to touch the skirting board on the far side of the room, and I am of average height. Work that one out. That development unit was passed for planning because it had the required number of sq. ft. but the developer thought it was a good idea to shove in another apartment within the frame of the building, which is what was done, and it was rented out. There is a funny side to it but it was anything but funny for the people who had to live in that apartment. Such cramped living conditions affects people's mental and physical health and it not good for children.

I am disappointed that my three amendments were ruled out of order and I question why they were. My amendments Nos. 2, 8 and 16 oppose the Government's amending of the Planning and Development Act 2000 and propose to amend that legislation by inserting other provisions that would have strengthened the provisions, as provided for in Part 5 of the 2000 Act, for social housing and provided safeguards against the use of substances that were not up to standard in the building of houses. We know the importance of that in terms of pyrite and the other material that was found in Donegal.

We are not dealing with that amendment. The Deputy can speak on the section.

Those three amendments were ruled out of order while my other amendment No. 17 was accepted. I am disappointed at the arbitrary way in which those three amendments were ruled out of order.

There is a concern that there will be a return to the development of shoe box size apartments. Dublin City Council has set out guidelines-regulations for Dublin city and it uses the democratic power available to it. However, this Bill will remove the democratic leeway that the council has had. I am not sure that we should have a one size fits all model. I support the building of good quality apartments.

In that regard, the amendment put forward by Deputy Wallace is good. I would question the 45 sq. m size he proposes for a one-bedroom apartment. I do not know if any Minister has lived in a 45 sq. m house or apartment but I did and it is not too nice. The positive aspect of this amendment is that it recognises that if one has a family, one will need a two-bedroom apartment and the size set for it increases to 80 sq. m and for a three-bedroom apartment, the size is 100 sq. m, which would be the size of a standard three-bedroom semi-detached. That is what we want. It is important that other factors are taken into consideration in the amendment, including the storage area. The Deputy is correct in that one does not have an attic in an apartment. People need places to store bicycles and the basics that people use.

The balcony sizes are good because that is important. I visited Rome a number of years ago and I was struck that people almost had small gardens growing on their balconies. They had all sorts of plants and grapes growing on their balconies, which was amazing, whereas here people would be lucky to fit a flower pot on the window sill.

I am concerned there will be a return to shoe box apartments. Even if he says he will safeguard us against all this, the Minister of State might not be in office following the election. The next fellow or lassie who takes over from him could want something completely different and if the Minister of the day is given all this power, we will have no way of stopping him or her. We have witnessed that many times in this Chamber over the past five years. When Opposition Members tried to put forward alternatives, we were listened to on few occasions. The former Minister, Mr. Phil Hogan, listened to us on a few occasions and I have to give him credit for that-----

Not that often.

-----but there were many times when he did not and he was wrong not to do so.

Storage size and balcony height are important issues, as is ceiling height. There is a reason a ceiling in a standard house is 8 ft. 6 in. It is a fact of life that people are getting taller as well. The generation coming behind us are a good bit taller than we are. Ceiling height has an effect on people's psychology. If one goes into one of the old cells in Long Kesh, for example - I recommend a visit because it is educational-----

I do not know what this has to do with the Bill. The Deputy should deal with apartments.

Was the Deputy in it?

It has a great deal to do with ceiling height. The ceiling in a prison cell is much lower than in a house. That was done to psychologically damage the prisoners but they failed in that.

I have raised another important issue with the Minister of State and the previous Minister, Mr. Hogan, and I would like the senior officials who are present to come back to me on this. There is an issue regarding the use of plaster slabs to separate apartments. They have concrete floors of a specific thickness to separate each deck but I have visited apartments blocks, which I can take the officials to see, where studded partitions were used to divide the plaster slabs. There are a number of problems with that. The first is the lack of privacy as everything going on in the apartments either side can be heard. What is happening in an apartment two doors down can even be heard. If one is in No. 20, one can hear what is going on in No. 22. It is not nice that families have no privacy whatsoever. There is also a fire safety concern. I raised this with the Department a number of years ago when I was a county councillor and it sent me a diagram outlining how safe the complex was and where the fire would go between the plaster slabs and so on. I do not buy that. I have not travelled the world that much but in the dozen or so countries I have visited, I have never entered an apartment where the party wall was hollow; they were all concrete. We have to get away from hollow walls. We cannot put people in apartments like this. The least we can do is ensure they are separated by a minimum nine inch solid wall.

The Government has the power to push this legislation through this evening. I am taking off my party hat and I ask the Minister of State to do the same. More and more people will live in apartments in the future for the reasons outlined by the previous two speakers. The population is increasing and we need to give people security, privacy and safety. Plaster slabs are not safe because they are a fire risk. Apartments currently do not afford privacy because every noise in the surrounding apartments can be heard and they are not secure. I canvassed in an apartment complex in which the units were sold for big money. One guy had a row with a fellow living in another apartment and he put his foot through the wall. I was shocked when I saw this. That is not conducive to proper living and the least we can do if people are forced to live in apartments is ensure they are separated by solid walls. The Minister of State does not have to give me a complete response tonight but I would like him to come back on that. I make that appeal sincerely.

In former eastern bloc countries, apartments are large and they have large balconies but where groups of three or four blocks are sited together, they have play areas in between the towers. Parents or whoever is minding the children can congregate there with the children but they also have parklands nearby. Reference is often made to conditions in the Soviet Union and I was not a fan of the command economy but they thought through their planning and development policies. In some areas, there were large parks where people could get fresh air. Apartments in this State should be located in strategic zones with recreational areas, which provide two levels of recreation - small areas for children where parents can meet and play with the children and larger parks like the Phoenix Park. Perhaps they should not be as big as that but I have seen huge parks near developments in eastern European countries.

Significantly more apartments will be built in future. Some of those constructed in the noughties were shocking and they need to be pulled down. What developers got away with was nothing short of criminal. They led officials and politicians by the nose and wrote the script. They landed in helicopters accompanied by architects and engineers and anybody who opposed or questioned what they were doing was told he or she was anti-jobs. That was a load of nonsense. We are all pro-good jobs but we have to think about where people live because that affects them psychologically and this has been proven time and again. While the Minister of State thought my reference to Long Kesh was funny, I mentioned it to illustrate that if people are living in confined spaces with low ceilings, they can be affected negatively by that. Apartments do not need to have ceilings that are 10 ft. or 15 ft. high but they should be similar to that in a standard three-bedroom house. The low ceiling height was deliberately planned by the boyos who designed the Kesh for a reason. Let us not allow developers to build apartments with ceilings lower than the standard height of 8 ft. 6 in. and let us try to maintain that because people need breathing space.

I support the amendment.

I commend the previous speakers on their excellent observations. I had experience in this area in the 1980s. I worked with ICC Bank and I was responsible for providing development finance to large house building groups such as Sisks, O'Malleys, Sorahans and so on and to those building apartment blocks in our cities. Generally, the bank took a hands-on approach to what was happening. One does not live in square metres or square feet; one lives in cubic feet. Anywhere people live or spend a minimum of eights hours a day sleeping or looking after children is a cubic space.

Psychology studies have shown that children who grow up confined to low-ceilinged rooms with poor window aspect have lesser emotional and intellectual development than children who, for example, grow up in badly heated apartments. It is very important for the human mind that one is not depressed or stunted, which is literally what happens when there is not sufficient ceiling height. Developer-builders who added an extra four or six inches to the average height sold their apartments at better prices because when they were showcased, people thought there was a nice feel about them because they had good aspects and balconies. When we were considering the financing possibilities for apartment developments, we looked at the plans - kicked the tyres as the Americans say - and looked at ceiling heights, materials, partitions and anything that physically made sense. If one does things that make physical sense, financial well-being follows. Deputy Wallace mentioned Dominick Street where rents are now at €1,500 a month or €18,000 a year. That represents a huge portion of gross income, which the average wage could not handle, in particular before tax and USC are deducted. For an investor, a 7% or 8% yield on €18,000 a year would be €270,000. One arrives at the investment price by multiplying the annual rent by 15. That is what people look for in cities around the world, such as Berlin.

I will try to connect a few other wheels and cogs on the position of the country. Does the Minister of State remember what is in the drawer of Professor Phillip Lane, which was previously that of Professor Honohan? There is €25 billion outstanding of promissory bonds. The big trick was to liquidate IBRC in February 2013, which Deputy Wallace is very familiar with. The promissory note which was then about €28 billion was converted into €28 billion of promissory bonds long dated for 40 years.

What has this got to do with the amendment?

I think the Deputy is straying a little bit.

I am not straying, I am joining up the dots. That €25 billion has a totally toxic and odious provenance - the losses of two banks forced on the Irish people. Professor Honohan lost his temper with me and Deputy Stephen Donnelly at a meeting in July 2014. Did Deputy Boyd Barrett attend that meeting or was it Luke "Ming" Flanagan? It was former Deputy Flanagan. At that meeting, I put it to Professor Honohan that in September 2008 the guarantee was entered into on false grounds, namely, the inaccurate and misleading balance sheets of the banks and overstated loan portfolios, which could have been determined at the time. The guarantee was entered into under duress and the strong arm tactics of Olli Rehn, Klaus Masuch, and all those guys. Does the Minister of State remember their names? They are embossed on my mind. The €25 billion that stands today should be cancelled unilaterally and Mr. Draghi should be told it is done.

Deputy, please, we are talking about apartment heights.

I am coming right to it.

The Deputy is taking a scenic route, if he does not mind me saying.

A €25 billion cancellation-----

The Wild Atlantic Way.

It is a new aspect to this.

I want to stay with this point. What could we do with a €25 billion cancellation?

What has that got to do with apartment standards?

There was €17 billion of National Pensions Reserve Fund money plundered.

I have a point of order.

The Minister of State-----

I have a point of order.

The Minister of State has a point of order.

I am not sure what this has to do with apartment standards and the amendments to the Bill that we are speaking about.

I have said that. I am also conscious that three more Deputies wish to speak.

This will be wrapped up very quickly. There is €17 billion to reinstate the National Pensions Reserve Fund which is the pension fund the Minister of State and his children will need in a few years' time. It was plundered and depleted to €4 billion in March 2012, which was wrong.

The Deputy should relate that to apartments.

The connection is that €17 billion from €25 billion leaves €8 billion; €4 billion of that €8 billion cancellation is used to mend the water pipes and water treatment works. Irish Water, which was set up by the Minister and Minister of State-----

Deputy Mathews supported it too.

-----says it will need €8 billion for repairs over the next number of years, so there is €4 billion left. Social housing is the connection; it would get €2 billion of the other €4 billion.

Deputy, this Bill is not about social housing. Deputy Stanley was ruled out because of that.

It is about apartment standards.

Social housing will include apartments.

It is the Christmas season and I have as much goodwill as Deputy Mathews but he is straying away from the issue.

Deputy Mathews should respect the Chair.

Deputy Wallace will mention the 90% purchase by hedge funds with strong US dollars-----

This Bill is about apartment standards.

These hedge funds are buying the apartments.

It is about physical standards.

The connections have to be made otherwise the right sort of apartments will not be built. The Minister of State will be doing meaningless stuff disconnected from the reality of where we stand. If one lines up all the materials for a programme or strategy and gets the measurements right, whether of money, materials, designs, drawing, strategies, timing or calendars, one will succeed. I have experience of this in the 1980s, which was a bad time to be building and developing. We did it because we made physical sense of it with people who had experience - builders, developers, architects and quantity surveyors. One should examine and line up one's ingredients and do it for the right reasons which means thinking long term and including storage, playground areas, access and bicycle spaces. All of these things are needed. One needs window outlets because people will live there through their lifecycle, from their single days through marriage or partnership and family. It can be done.

I am glad the Deputy is back to apartments.

I am showing that €25 billion of cancellation allows us to reset the clock and do it for the right reasons. The Government has been afraid of its own shadow and has squeezed people who should not have been squeezed and allowed inequality to arise though a bad and unbalanced taxation system. Multinational corporates are now actually paying extra tax yet the Government is scratching its head and asking where it is coming from.

Deputy Matthews was elected on the same manifesto as I was.

The Government could have actually billed them with it four years ago and did not.

The Deputy has quickly forgotten that.

The Minister of State has missed the point because he does not want to hear. I am not personalising the debate but it is a bad habit that comes from having too many numbers. Everybody stops thinking, inquiring, being curious and taking new ideas from the House.

The Deputy should stay with the amendment. I am conscious that other Deputies wish to speak.

Those vulture funds will make €5 billion-----

Now, look, Deputy-----

-----that could stay in the country. The amendments that have been made and suggested are dead right. There should not be noise between apartments; it is a living requirement. Deputy Wallace was shaking his head and saying one does not necessarily need concrete block walls between apartment units. Is that right?

I do not know if he said that.

I will explain that.

The living space of neighbouring apartments should not be intruded on by the living noises of those next door. Good window aspect and light is needed. Ceiling heights should be nine ft. tall because people are growing taller. Bicycle parks and playgrounds are also needed.

People need access to public spaces, parks, football clubs and so on. This can be built in as a requirement prior to planning being approved. If a building or a proposed development is not within a minimum proximity to public parks, the seaside, promenades and so on, then planning permission should not be granted. Consideration must be given to the quality of life of residents. When people are balanced in terms of their psychological and physical well-being, we have better communities and along with that comes generational support from grandparents through to grandchildren. The planning stage of a development is crucial. If we do not get that right, any mistakes made will be with us for up to 40 years.

Bhí orm bheith as láthair ar feadh tamaill ansin mar bhí mé ag freastal ar chruinniú coiste. These amendments relate to the standards applicable to apartment complexes, in particular. An amendment was made to the Bill in the Seanad which allows the Minister to overrule the standards set by local authorities. While I agree in part with some of the amendments proposed by Deputy Wallace, I do not agree 100% with them.

Great care must be taken when setting standards or giving powers to a Minister to overrule a democratic institution. I refer by way of example to the decisions taken in the past by Dublin City Council, none of which I was party to, to set a standard for apartments in Dublin, which was above that set by the Department. I accept that some of the guidelines set by Dublin City Council were somewhat impractical. The process of discussion within Dublin City Council on its current development plan, in terms of the number of submissions received from councillors and members of the public, would indicate that people, having looked again at that plan, are of the view that because of the restrictive regime within Dublin City Council, it is difficult to build apartment complexes of the type envisaged by those trying to ensure that apartment build in this city is fit for residential living rather than to meet the needs of the transient population to which Deputy Wallace referred.

If this city is to develop without sprawling into several other counties, we will have to address the need for apartments and ensure that whatever apartments are built in the future, lend themselves to successful apartment living. A detailed document to which the city council was party, entitled Successful Apartment Living, set out a vision in this regard for Dublin. In the development plan thereafter, particular areas were designated as suitable for high rise development while build in other areas was to be of only seven or eight storeys. While not everybody in the city agreed with that vision, it set the standards for the apartments that would be built to facilitate modern expansion. The planners and developers thought there was no end in sight. It was possible to build in certain quarters apartment blocks, similar to those in other cities around the world, of up to 20 to 30 storeys. The only thing wrong with that was that in Dublin until then anything that was being built did not have the additional services required, such as playgrounds, communal spaces, sufficient space between apartment blocks, proper access for traffic and a mix of communities. They also did not include shops, restaurants and so on.

Some of the apartment complexes built in Dublin in the past 20 to 30 years have been successful. Somebody needs to examine why they were so successful and why they excelled when others did not. In this regard, I refer to some of the apartment complexes with wooden frontage. In most cases, these were disastrous because the wrong wood was used or because a management contract that would require the wood to be revarnished every year was not put in place. What looked very fancy in the brochures produced to sell these products does not look so great now, including the ones in my own area, the wood on which has turned black and the walls have not been painted since they were built. The council document, Successful Apartment Living, called for the setting of a standard that would meet the needs of single people, couples and retired people.

As I came into the Chamber, the issue of ceiling height was being discussed. As far as I am aware Irish people are, on average, taller now than people here were 30 years ago. The ceilings in many of what were previously known as corporation houses are only 8 ft. high and the doorways are only 6 ft. high. There are many young people in Ireland nowadays who are taller than 6 ft., such that they bang their heads in these doorways as they are coming and going. This needs to be examined. The same can be said in regard to the population in Japan. The height of the Japanese has increased substantially over the past 50 years, as a result of which Japan had to review its height standards. If people are, on average, now 6 in. or 1 ft. taller, then accommodation proportions need to be different.

The house in which I lived up to six years ago was a corporation house. Like many other corporation houses and apartments in this city, it had major problems in terms of air circulation, which led to condensation. It was not built to the standards now in place. A ceiling that is 10 ft. high, which is the height of the ceiling in the house in which I now live, allows for greater circulation of air. That is why people set standards. They are not set to impose an additional burden on developers, although I would have no problem with that because developers will just add any additional cost to the selling price if needs be. Standards are set to ensure that people can live in a manner appropriate to modern society. In another era, we did not have many possessions. In the 1930s and 1940s, people were happier to move from the tenements in Dublin city to council houses in Crumlin, Drimnagh and elsewhere. They were a godsend to them in many ways. The standards in place then fitted with the needs of people at that time. We are now in a different era, so we have different needs. There are many houses in areas such as Crumlin and Drimnagh that have not been upgraded since they were built, many of which have only one socket per room. In terms of even minimum standards, a single socket per room or a wooden window frame with single glazing would not suffice in this day and age.

Dublin City Council sought to set standards that would stand the test of time for the next few years. We know that the Department is not happy with those standards, that it considers them too restrictive and that it is fearful that other local authorities will be encouraged to set similar standards.

In many ways, they were not restrictive because most developers, if they wanted to build a house or an apartment block, could make money on it, even at today's prices or those of a number of years ago. What happened, however, was that most developers wanted not only to make a profit on what they were currently building but also enough profit to make up the losses they had accumulated over the previous five to ten years.

When considering giving a power to a Minister to dictate to, or overrule, a local authority, one needs to be mindful of why we have local authorities at all. The local authority, through its development plan, already has to consider its standards every five years. Every standard that is set is reviewable by the authority's elected members. It is, therefore, reviewable by the public as they elect the councillors. The public includes those who work in the construction industry and those who run it and they can make submissions and ask for changes to be made. It is at that stage that Ministers should be involved rather than having the power to come in willy-nilly and impose their diktat on what they think is appropriate. What might be appropriate in Tipperary or Galway may not be appropriate in Dublin city where there is a different outlook. Dublin is a capital city with more than 1 million people concentrated in it, with the possibility that many more would be concentrated in it in the future. One needs to be cognisant of that fact. Standards have been set.

I find it strange that Dublin City Council encourages the possibility of high-rise development in certain areas but when developers submit plans for high-rise developments, they are shot down. Developers are not getting planning permission for proposed houses. It is for the planning authority in the city council to decide these applications but some of the decisions seem odd. Dublin City Council put a plan to the Minister in respect of a senior citizen complex in my area. The plan was for 75 apartments. The Minister said it would have to be reduced to 65 apartments. This is ridiculous in the middle of a housing crisis but councillors and the Minister who made the decision will have to live with the decision.

I have a major problem with a power being given to a Minister to set a standard, which may be irrational, in place of that which councillors have democratically debated and agreed. Rather than taking this undemocratic stance and ramming this provision through, the Minister should have regard to the process each council completes in preparing its development plan.

As I stated on Second Stage, this Bill deals with the most fundamental, urgent and important issue facing the country. It is particularly the case now but it is arguably the case at any time. The issue is the provision of housing and putting roofs over the heads of our citizens. It concerns the delivery of the volume of housing needed but also ensuring the housing is of a quality that will ensure a decent existence for our citizens living in those homes. It should be self-evident but we have failed dramatically in this regard for at least 20 years at all sorts of different levels. This failure played an enormous part in the economic crash we faced and the ensuing housing crisis, which is the worst one the State has ever seen.

I wish to make one general comment, which relates to the fundamental flaw in the thinking behind this Bill. What went wrong in the past 20 years - I put it roughly at 20 years but it may be slightly longer - in housing is that we fully privatised its provision. The consequences have been utterly disastrous for the economy as a whole and particularly in terms of the provision of housing for those on low incomes.

On the amendment, please, Deputy.

It is on the amendment. The privatisation of housing has resulted in an enormous crisis. The thinking behind this Bill is to say, in response, that we must dilute standards in order to incentivise private developers. Standards are to be diluted and the Government is to be given the power to override local authorities attempting to uphold standards. Talk about compounding a disastrous mistake.

These amendments are an effort on behalf of Deputies Wallace and Clare Daly to put in place some sort of minimum safeguards against this extraordinary folly on the part of the Government. It was the market that got us to this point but the Minister seems to think we need to give more incentives to the market to get us out of this crisis. The most likely scenario, however, is that the market will bring us right back round in the circle which brought us to this mess in the first place.

I do not know if the Minister heard the comments by the delegates from NAMA at the Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform.

Deputy, on the amendment, please.

This is relevant to the amendment because we were talking about housing. The delegates said that the pleas of the developers, claiming it is currently not viable to build housing anywhere in Ireland, are false. The delegates said building houses is viable but the reason the developers are not building is the profit to be made is not enough for them. In other words, the reason is greed. The implication - in fact, it was pretty explicitly stated by Frank Daly - was that the developers are essentially holding the Government hostage in order to batter down standards so they can make an even bigger profit. The Government has handed them the ammunition to do this by selling, via NAMA, vast amounts of property to vulture funds. These vulture funds are now effectively holding the Government hostage in terms of housing. This is happening to such an extent that they are now putting pressure on the Government to dilute housing standards.

Frank Daly informed me that the vast majority of the existing 15,000 units NAMA took over and the development potential for 70,000 units - which is a huge number - has already been, or will be, transferred to these vulture funds. Even then, they are still not happy. They are so flipping greedy, they want to be able to build box apartments that are rubbish and are pressurising the Government to override standards.

I have had some indication of what this is likely to mean in my area of Dún Laoghaire. One of the things mentioned in Deputies Daly's and Wallace's minimum standards concerns Ireland's emissions and climate obligations. They are trying to ensure that we shall pay attention to these things when drawing up guidelines.

How eminently sensible is that? In the last week or two, however, the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government has contacted Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and told it that the requirement for passive house-building standards, that is, good insulation which will be good for the occupants and also help us to meet our carbon emissions targets, must be deleted from the development plan because the developers do not like it. It would cost them too much and they cannot make enough profit that way. In the same week that the Government is trumpeting its commitment to dealing with climate change and the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy White is producing his white paper and declaring our commitment to the targets, it is also telling a local authority not to include passive home requirements in the building standards for houses that will be built in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown. That is what we are getting in reality. All of the aspirations, whether on climate change or building standards, are sacrificed as the Government dances to the tune of the developers who got us into this mess.

These amendments are a second line defence against what this Bill proposes and I support them for that reason. However, the best protection we have in terms of building standards is democracy, to underline the point made by Deputy Ó Snodaigh. What do I mean by that? Who is better placed to decide what sort of standards should apply to the houses we build than the people who will live in them? That is how one has good planning, development and building standards. I know of some examples of this, one being the redevelopment of York Street in Dublin city centre. In that case, progressive architects working for Dublin City Council worked with the residents in developing the plans for York Street. They worked together on every single detail of the apartments, the play areas and the green areas and agreed balcony sizes, ceiling heights on so forth. All of these aspects were discussed with the residents over a period so that they had a proper input into how the places they would live in and raise their families would look. That is how one does good planning. One certainly does not let the developers decide because they are only worried about how much profit they can make. Furthermore, one does not let central Government, no matter how enlightened it might think it is, make these decisions either. One puts democracy at the heart of the process. Giving the Government power to override the little bit of democracy that we have is the opposite of what we should be doing. We should be enhancing and expanding democracy at the local level to ensure that we have the highest possible standards.

I wish to give another example of the cynicism and greed of developers in the context of building standards. There is a development in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown which is half finished. The Part V requirement was originally 20% but in the second phase of this development that will probably be reduced to 10%, although that is still unclear. Those units will be leased back to the council, of course. To discharge their obligation to provide 20% social housing, the developers, with the agreement of NAMA, put all of the social housing units in a north facing corner of the site. The units were of a completely different quality and standard to those built on the rest of the site which were for sale on the private market. They produced yellow pack housing for people on the social housing waiting list. Will the Minister of State, in the context of the reduced Part V requirement, guarantee that the 10% will not be hived off into the worst corner of development sites with lesser building standards than those applied to the other 90%? Will the social housing units be genuinely mixed in to ensure the social mix which the Government claims to support? Will the 10% be of the same quality as the other 90%? To date, that has not been the experience. Developers seek the cheapest way to discharge their commitment to provide social housing, which they really do not want to do because all they are interested in is money.

The fundamental problem here is that this Bill is driven by the belief that in order to deliver the housing we need, we must dance to-----

The Deputy believes his own cynicism.

No, it is a fact. I have given the Minister of State a concrete example. Why did his Department contact Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and tell it to remove the passive house ---

I will answer that shortly.

Please allow the Deputy to speak without interruption.

The Deputy is getting carried away now.

I am not getting carried away at all.

The best way to have minimum standards is for the State to build the houses. In that way, there is a floor below which one does not go. The provision of local authority housing by the State itself, as opposed to outsourcing it through Part V and so forth, is the way to have the best minimum standards.

That is ridiculous

Again, however, the Government is moving in the opposite direction. It is saying that the State is not going to deliver social housing but will rely on the private sector to do so. It is intent on incentivising private developers and removing any obstacles they claim are getting in the way of the delivery of that housing but all the developers are trying to do is figure out how they can profit from this exercise. NAMA confirmed that today at a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform. It is not just me who is saying this - NAMA confirmed it today.

I want to voice my support for the amendment proposed by Deputy Wallace. We must acknowledge that the Government, in its efforts to address obvious deficiencies in our building standards has somewhat curtailed the flow of units onto the market. I ask that the Minister of State would respond positively to the suggestions and proposals being put to him. I am not suggesting that they be taken on board exactly as proposed but there is much merit in what has been said with regard to the size of units, particularly in the context of suiting various family forms and household types.

In the context of its efforts to fast-track housing developments and make them available to the market as soon as possible, it is incumbent on the Government to ensure that the Minister retains absolute control and power over the building standards. Those standards are extensively debated, scrutinised and analysed by local authorities and members of the public through the consultation process that follows the initial publication of any development plan. There is much merit in that system and its virtues should not be lost through any proposals that emanate from this legislation. In that context, I ask the Minister of State to take on board the suggestions that have been put to him and to acknowledge the good intent of the proposer and those members of the Opposition who are supportive of them. I would ask that he consider making alterations which would address the deficiencies, whether minor or major. It is incumbent on the Minister of State to investigate these matters, to make further proposals and to accept those amendments which were proposed in good faith and are based on the experience of people who have observed the process as it evolved over time.

In the course of development plans, councillors and Deputies alike have seen this process in train and they have seen the deficiencies as well as the merit involved. There are standards that need to be addressed but these proposals definitely take cognisance of the form of family units these days. Developments of apartments, in particular, should have standards in regard to the square footage applied and the number of units in the make-up of the various units within any complex in order to take cognisance of today's forms of living. As Deputy Wallace said, there are many single people, and people who find themselves divorced or separated, who may have their children with them on a regular basis and need ample space within these complexes in order to live there in a proper manner.

I thank the proposers of the amendments for giving us the opportunity to have this debate, which has been very interesting and wide-ranging. It has touched on many aspects of the issue of housing and apartments, not only in terms of the standards and regulations that apply but also in regard to how they are financed, all of which are pertinent issues in the wider debate.

Deputies regularly raise in this House their concerns regarding housing supply and the need to meet demand that is legitimate, and I have no issue surrounding that. However, one of the obvious barriers to supply that we have identified is the whole issue of viability of construction and ability to buy and to rent. Until the supply issue is addressed, many of the other issues will not be resolved.

Deputy Boyd Barrett is right in one respect, namely, the State needs to build more social housing, which is why the Government is committed to doing that. However, the Deputy does not even acknowledge that in his contribution. I would respect him more if he acknowledged we are doing some building but he does not even mention it. He is clouded in his cynicism and, while he is entitled to be cynical, his view is being clouded by the extreme view he takes.

It built zero council houses last year.

He does not acknowledge the investment the Government, for the first time in many years, is making in social housing. We are doing that through the local authorities and through the affordable housing bodies. The Deputy does not recognise that and, while he is entitled to take that view, I believe he is clouded in that respect.

Deputy Boyd Barrett raised the issue of passive housing in Dún Laoghaire. I want to put on record that I do not hold any candle for the construction sector - none whatsoever. I am in the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government to respond to the housing challenge that we all know is there at the moment. I, the Minister, Deputy Kelly, and our officials are using every avenue that is available to us to try to address the shortage of supply in housing and apartments throughout the country. With specific regard to the direction issued to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council in regard to passive housing, the existing building standards equal or exceed the energy efficiency performance of passive housing. Passive housing is a brand, a commercial entity, that the Deputy is buying into and for which he is holding a candle, whether he realises it or not. It is anti-competitive to impose a commercial brand or a standard across the board within a local authority jurisdiction. What the Government is proposing is consistency of approach and a minimum standard for apartments across the country.

I listened carefully to all of the contributions, especially that of Deputy Wallace because I know he has experience in this area. I agree with a lot of what he said, although I do not often agree with him. We need to be careful in this regard in that we need to distinguish between building standards and building control regulations. The Government introduced building control regulations in a way that has never been seen before to ensure we have compliance in terms of good quality building in this country again. I agree with Deputy Wallace that there is a role for the clerk of works. I believe we have not gone far enough and, if I am back in this Department at any time in the future, I will work to ensure an enhanced role, first, for local authority inspections and, second, for onsite oversight, which is a job for the clerk of works. The clerk of works should be on top of every stage of the development, from breaking the ground, to foundation, to construction, to completion. If we are to learn anything, I believe it is that there is a role for the clerk of works. This is something we should work on because it is the clerk of works who will identify those subcontractors and others who are trying to take shortcuts. There is no place for that.

The regulations introduced by the Government have moved a long way towards bringing accountability in terms of sign-off and certification, although I have no problem saying more needs to be done. It is something I want to work on and I have already instructed Department officials to begin building capacity in terms of the local authority building control departments because they, like the planning and housing sections, were also denuded. If we are to learn from the mistakes of the past, we need to bring up the capacity of those units through the addition of qualified people to inspect and ensure that buildings are being constructed in line with the regulations the people want and deserve.

I would agree with Deputy Stanley's points on plaster slabs, sound-proofing, proper fire regulations and party walls. The regulations have already been enhanced by the Government to ensure that sound-proofing and fire regulation and control is enhanced.

Plaster slabs can still be used.

Plaster slabs can still be used but they have to meet a standard, as is the case with sound-proofing and fire compliance. This has already been enhanced under the Government's regulations.

To go back to the distinction between building standards and regulations, building control regulation is a debate for another day, although Members are right to raise the concern here and I have no issue with that. This Bill, however, is about building standards and apartment sizes. People are criticising the Government by saying we are bringing back shoe box housing but that is not correct. Essentially, what the Government is doing is restating the 2007 guidelines for apartment sizes, which compare favourably with other jurisdictions. Speakers mentioned the UK and Germany. For a one-bedroom apartment, we are suggesting a minimum size of 45 sq. m, whereas the UK has a size of 39 sq. m and Germany has a size of 48 sq. m. Therefore, we are well above the UK standard and, while it is slightly bigger in Germany, it is not a whole lot bigger. For a two-bedroom apartment, the minimum standard proposed in Ireland is 73 sq. m, which is substantially higher than the UK, where the minimum standard is 61 sq. m, and slightly higher than Germany, where it is 70 sq. m. Therefore, our guidelines compare quite favourably with other jurisdictions. They are not shoe boxes; they are just a minimum standard that ensures a good standard of living and viability and affordability so we can deliver on those apartments.

Reference was made to ceiling heights and, again, we compare favourably. I am not sure about Long Kesh as I was never there and I never want to be there, to be honest. However, I take Deputy Stanley's point about low ceilings and cubic space.

The reason we are bringing forward these guidelines is to ensure we have a minimum standard that applies nationally and a consistent approach in terms of guidance to local authorities across the country. That said, there is nothing preventing any developer or proposer from building larger apartments or having belts and braces or whatever they want. What we are introducing here is a guideline of minimum standards, so we are not imposing unaffordable costs that will ultimately impact on the cost of buying or renting an apartment. Viability and delivery of units has to be realistic and affordable and that is the fundamental basis for this Bill.

For example, one of the guidelines we are issuing is that one lift would suffice for six to eight apartments rather than having one lift for every four apartments. We believe that is reasonable and it would have a big impact on cost, so apartments are more viable for purchasers.

It is important we consider viability in the context of the guidelines we issue.

On the proposed amendments, I have already referred to the minimum standards and sizes and to how we compare with the UK and Germany. The Government opposes amendments Nos. 1a and 1b. Amendment No. 1a proposes that the content of what would normally be included in guidelines issued by the Minister in regard to apartment standards should be put in primary legislation. We do not agree with that. Section 28 of the Act already empowers the Minister to issue guidelines to planning authorities regarding their functions under the Act, principally to have regard to these in the determination of planning applications and the adoption of local area development plans. Under this provision, a comprehensive range of guidelines have issued to planning authorities.

The Deputies are now suggesting that issues normally dealt with in guidelines, such as apartment sizes, floor to ceiling height, storage areas and private amenity spaces should now be specified in primary legislation. This would not be appropriate or practical when these matters, which are generally quite technical in nature, are more properly addressed by way of ministerial guidance and the expertise of ministerial advisers to planning authorities. The amendment now proposed by the Deputies would also be quite inflexible and onerous, as guidelines are often updated and any revision or updating of them would require changes to primary legislation. We believe it is unworkable and that it is not appropriate to have technical guidelines issued in primary legislation.

Amendment No. 1b proposes that all section 28 guidelines should be debated and voted on by both Houses in order to be approved. Such a provision would run contrary to the existing section 28 provisions which empower the Minister of the day to issue guidance to planning authorities. Certain planning regulations are already required, under section 262 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, to be presented to the Oireachtas and to be the subject of a positive resolution by both Houses before they can be made by the Minister. However, such an arrangement would not be appropriate in respect of guidelines, which as I have already outlined are generally quite technical in nature.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh spoke about eroding the powers of elected members or the democratic mandate of councillors. This Bill is not about doing that. It is not about eroding the powers of elected councillors. It is primarily aimed at ensuring all local authorities adopt a consistent and fair approach so that we do not have a situation where various approaches are applied throughout the country that would be unsustainable and could drive up the cost of the provision of houses or apartments as we all want to see increased provision, particularly where demand is most acute.

The provisions of the Bill support the aim of revised apartment standard guidelines shortly to be introduced, which is to make apartments more economically viable for builders to build and more affordable for people to buy or rent. Fundamentally, we cannot accept the amendments tabled. We feel they are too prescriptive and binding for primary legislation. Guidelines, based on the advice of senior departmental advisers are issued constantly to planning authorities by the Minister. This Bill is about addressing the concerns Deputies have consistently raised here about the lack of and need for more housing and apartments to meet demand. We feel the measures in this Bill will address some of the barriers and will not erode the minimum standards which compare well to those in other European jurisdictions. We have good energy efficiency and building standards already that will not be eroded by measures proposed in the Bill. Therefore, we oppose the amendments.

I wish to return to the issue of insulation and sound-proofing of walls. A flat concrete block with plaster on both sides will not necessarily pass the sound-proofing test, because a concrete block is only five Newton in strength, whereas a person building a wall uses 35 Newton concrete. One can build a wall with double slabbing and insulation that will give better sound-proofing than a concrete block on the flat, but a concrete block on the flat is of course better. This has nothing to do with the Bill, but the point I am making is that the regulations were not being applied. If apartments have walls where the person next door can be heard, the building was not done right and was not tested.

A wall of nine inch concrete blocks on the flat I built was tested in 2006, but it did not pass the sound-proofing test, although it had 20 mm of plaster on both sides of it. I had to add an inch batten and another slab on both sides for it to pass the test. That is how good the test is. Following that, we only built nine inch solid concrete walls, with reinforced 35 Newton concrete. That is the perfect job for fire and sound-proofing. It is a brilliant job and the Government should apply that standard. While it is expensive, it would be great if it was done everywhere. It is the right way to build a party wall.

Many issues have been raised here. One of these relates to ceiling height. The average ceiling height for a three-bedroomed house is 8 ft. and the same average applies to apartments. My argument is that 8 ft. is not adequate for apartments, because apartments have a more cramped feeling than a house. For example, apartments are either single or dual aspect, while a house is three or four. There is a much greater sense of air and space in a house than in an apartment. In Europe, 10 ft. or 11 ft. high ceilings are not abnormal. The ceiling height I would use is 2.7 m, which is just under 9 ft. This would make an incredible difference and would not change the price significantly.

I understand this presents a huge challenge to developers. If a developer is allowed build four floors of apartments at a ceiling height of 2.4 m, and the slab is 300 mm, this means the height of the floor is 2.7 m. Four such floors would give a total of 10.8 m, plus a roof. If the Government decided all ceiling heights should be 9 ft., or 2.7 m, it should give developers the extra air height and allow the development go a bit higher. In the case of five floors, we are talking about going up an extra 1.5 m. This makes sense because if a developer goes to a bank to seek backing for building an apartment complex with five floors at 8 ft. ceilings, but then goes to the local authority to seek permission for a 9 ft. ceiling and permission to go 1.2 m higher, but permission is refused, he is forced back to an 8 ft. ceiling because he will not have the finance otherwise. The local authorities should give on that. We do not build high enough in Dublin.

In the early 1990s, we were building four floor blocks, a commercial ground floor with three residential floors above it. Zoe built most of such blocks in the city centre at the time. Then we increased to five floors and then six. In European cities, ten floor blocks are quite regular. As other Deputies have said, if we do not want to cover the country in concrete, we will have to move towards far more apartment living. However, we must do it better. These amendments seek to introduce minimum standards in order to ensure that and to guarantee future apartment building will be better.

The Minister of State has said our amendments are inflexible. They are not minor amendments. They are good standards and, therefore, can be inflexible for a long time. If we want to build even bigger and higher apartment blocks in ten years' time, it will not be the end of the world if we have to go back to change the legislation. These standards will be good for a long time and we will not have to go back and change them next year or the year after. We could live with them for a long time.

I believe if we want to build good living spaces in apartments, an extra foot in ceiling height is enormous and makes a bigger difference than anything else. Apartments are cramped spaces to live in when ceilings are low. This is something that is not felt in a house. I do not see a demand for a greater ceiling height than 8 ft. for houses as important as it is for an apartment. This is an issue the Government should think about. It need not cost builders a fortune to achieve this, provided local authorities can live with the fact that the building will be higher overall.

The Minister spoke about lifts and the provision of one lift for six or eight apartments with which I fully agree. The notion that there should be only four apartments for each lift is crazy.

It requires a good standard of lift and the lift company to stand over the fact that the lift can serve eight apartments. I have zero problem with that.

The Minister of State touched on on-site oversight, and we agree on that. To move slightly away from the Bill, I have talked about how I expect only 50% of people in Ireland to live in their own properties in the years to come and about the fact that we will need much more local authority and social housing. I disagree very strongly with the principle of selling social housing.

The English have done powerful research on this and 40% of social housing units that were sold into the private market have ended up with landlords renting them back to people who need rent supplement from the State to afford to live in them. It is the wrong way to go and we should think about it.

If the Minister of State and we are returned in the next Dáil, we will certainly push him on the idea of on-site inspection and the restoration of the clerk of works, as that is vital. The new regulations only identify somebody that can be sued and do not stop any of the bad practices.

The Minister of State made a point on how we compare with the rest of Europe but his information was slightly misleading. I made the point that we should definitely not compare ourselves with Britain and London, where the standards are appalling. Nobody wants to be benchmarked with them. The Minister of State's information from Germany was slightly inaccurate; he quoted a 70 sq. m figure for a two-bed property but that is for a two-person two-bed property. The German standard for a family two-bedroom unit involving four persons is 88 sq. m. In that sense, what we are proposing is not excessive relative to European standards and is very much in keeping with them.

The bottom line is we are opposing section 3 because it concentrates too much power in the Minister's hands. It is not a good way to go. Removing the power of local authorities to set higher standards is dangerous. Housing is a long-term game and leaving it to a Minister who may be here for one office term is not a good way to go about things. We need more accountability, oversight and long-term thinking. The idea is strategically good as the larger minimum sizes we propose are not excessive by any means. They will stand to us. Reports done in Britain around 1961 set the idea in principle that additional space is a longer term investment that will yield, apart from increased well-being, return on investment in terms of quality of living.

With regard to power being centred in the Minister's hands, I will use the example of what is happening in Dublin's docklands when it is in the gift of a Minister to drive planning policy and achieve his own objectives without scrutiny or oversight from anybody else. We can consider what the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, has called Dublin's Canary Wharf. He has told NAMA to basically go ahead and build it, and it has complied. Dublin's docklands has 22 ha of undeveloped land, 75% of which is in the control of NAMA. The Minister has spoken about this being a rare opportunity, but what are we getting from it? We are getting more office space than was previously envisaged, which itself is an amount already deemed to be too much.

Please speak to the amendment.

The point is about the danger of ministerial control. Across the 22 ha., which is the size of 35 football pitches, there will be just 2,600 residential units, with only 260 for ordinary people as social housing units. This is in an inner city development at the height of a housing crisis. It is absolute lunacy. We need democratic check and oversight, and that is why the provision to have the Oireachtas scrutinise the standards is really good. We would all benefit from it, as we have from the discussion we have heard today.

I have never heard such claptrap in my life. The Minister of State indicated one of the barriers to construction was the viability of construction.

One of Sinn Féin's Deputies said that on Second Stage. Does the Deputy realise that?

The Minister of State may stand and speak, if he so wishes.

I will be the judge of that.

I can cede to the Minister of State if he has a point of order.

In my area in Dublin South-Central there has been much construction. The Minister of State might know this as he passes through it regularly, and he may be familiar with some of the sites. Despite the collapse, construction has continued and a number of proposals have gone to Dublin City Council in recent years. The vulture funds mentioned earlier do not have a problem complying with the existing rules, regulations and guidelines contained within the Dublin city development plans. They are building at Clancy Barracks now as the plan was developed a number of years ago; it collapsed in the downturn when developers overextended but a company came in, bought it and is going ahead with it, regardless of price increases and the Minister of State's proposals to undermine the democratically elected councillors in this city who set out guidelines above the Department's guidelines. There are a number of other examples, and I mentioned earlier a number of proposals from both private and public developers who wanted to go ahead but were prevented from doing so, sometimes because of Dublin City Council. That was the case with the Davitt Road site, which is now in the ownership of the HSE. The plan was to build duplexes on the site but Dublin City Council indicated that was not dense enough. The developer felt it could make money from a site at low density but it was prevented from doing so by the city council planners. That is their issue.

There are other proposals that were prevented by the Minister only a number of months ago. That had nothing to do with money as it was social housing. The site I mentioned is Cornamona on Kylemore Road. The city council sought to build 75 units for senior citizen accommodation on the Cornamona site but the Minister ordered the plan to be resubmitted as he wanted only 60 units. That was absolute madness, and it happened within the guidelines currently set. The site is empty but it is serviced. It has been sitting there since before the downturn because buildings were knocked down. The city council has waited for funding from the Minister. The council has resubmitted the plan and the Minister agreed with it but it now involves lower number of units. It is welcome to an extent, as it defeats the purpose when land is available.

I am living in an area zoned for high-rise buildings on the Naas Road, as there are no houses within the industrial estates surrounding the likes of the Red Cow. The Minister of State might recognise the area. There are local area plans but there are no major objections to high-rise buildings. When some of the developers submitted plans under the current guidelines, they were still not allowed to go above five storeys, which is crazy, as there are no problems involving local residents. The zone is away from houses and builders want to make the best use of a site within current guidelines. As Deputy Wallace stated, if a builder wants to go up a floor or a couple of floors, so be it, especially in areas designated as higher density by the democratically elected councillors. It should be allowed. We do not need somebody like the Minister of State or the Minister coming in and telling a city council that it cannot approve certain plans and that it must lower its standards.

We, as a society, should always seek to raise our standards, not lower them.

The Minister of State spoke about England and Germany. Just because it happens in England and Germany does not make it right. In fact, we should go higher than them. The other thing to bear in mind when referring to Germany is the fact that German family size is smaller than that of Ireland and has been so. The Minister of State should bear that in mind when setting standards for two and three-bedroom apartments. The standards for successful family living and successful apartment family living for Irish families mean that we need apartments that can contain not just two people and one child but two people and three or four children. This relates to the guidelines set out by Deputy Wallace, which set out storage space. Anybody who remembers the apartments, or flats as they were known, will remember that they all had pram sheds because Dublin City Council recognised years ago that there was a need for them. The problem was that they had to be knocked down because they were used for the wrong purposes, or that is what the council felt. In some cases, they could have changed them and made them more secure so that they would not be used for purposes they were not set up for. That was a recognition even in those days when people did not have as many belongings that you need storage space. People have far more belongings now. Perhaps they will not have so many in 50 years' time. We might have changed again. As a result of changes in telecommunications, televisions are getting smaller and people do not have DVD players, VHS or Betamax. People have fewer books because they have tablets so they might not have as many possessions in the future.

The Minister of State also argued that it would be madness to bring the guidelines back to this House but he did not even consider whether it might be appropriate to bring them back to the select committee and let it have a discussion once a year or once every ten years when these guidelines need to changed. The Minister of State just ruled it out altogether and said it would not be appropriate. He spoke about how councils and planning departments were denuded of staff. Whose fault is that? First, we have the lack of funding for local authorities and, second, both this and the previous Government had a jobs embargo, although this Government eventually changed it. When people retired, they were not replaced.

I am responding to a point made by the Minister of State. It relates to the amendments and the guidelines.

The guidelines must be complied with by the planning people-----

The Deputy is referring to staff. That is not on the amendments.

Planning department staff.

That is not on the amendments.

The planning department staff are the ones who would impose the guidelines so that is why I mentioned them in response to what the Minister of State said. If the Acting Chairman wishes to impose order, he should be in order.

The clerk of works was also mentioned by the Minister of State. He believed that it was a good point. Why did he not introduce a relevant amendment in the Seanad? He had an opportunity to do so. He brought in the other amendments. That would have been a more suitable amendment, would have been more respectful of the local authorities around the country and would have had a greater effect on housing standards in the future than what he is trying to do here. It would have ensured that apartments in the future were liveable.

Whether he likes it or not, the Minister of State is eroding the democratic mandate councillors and the council are given by his suggestion that they are introducing or introduced guidelines that are impractical. The fact that, as we speak, Dublin City Council is taking on board some of the suggestions made by Deputy Wallace and the Minister of State about lifts shows that things can change and they are willing to listen. This is being discussed at the moment yet the Minister has already taken the decision for them. Why bother having a discussion around the development plan in any shape or form when the Minister is going to make the decision for them? They should leave it and say the Minister is the representative on the planning SPC or whatever part of the city council takes the decision.

What the Minister of State is trying to do is a disgrace. I know he said he is not doing this for any developer and I would not suggest that he is. I do not know him well enough and I do not know his background but I know exactly what the consequences of what he is doing will be. It will facilitate developers in screwing people even more and taking more money out of a plot of land than they are currently able to take. Every developer in this country can make a profit on the price of houses on the land on which they are sitting in this city. There are plots of land around the city that could be built on and houses or apartments sold when they are built and those developers would still make money. They just want more money and that has always been the case. It was the case prior to the collapse. If one looks at the price of houses and apartments in this city, particularly those for rent, one can see that all we are doing is adding to the future crisis. It is cyclical in nature.

The amendments introduced by the Government from the Seanad represent a retrograde step. I support the amendments we have been discussing here, particularly those from Deputy Wallace. We need a reasonable set of standards that can be complied with rather than a diktat from a Minister and a Department.

I again thank the Deputies for this debate which is interesting, relevant and important. I acknowledge that the amendments are made with good intentions. I have no issue with that but Government considers it important that we get the balance right. We consider that minimum standards must be generous and they do compare quite well with other areas, as I have already stated. We must also ensure that they are energy-efficient. I remind Members that the Bill refers to minimum standards in guidelines. There is nothing stopping any developer or local authority building an apartment that is far bigger and more complex in any way they wish. What we are essentially setting here is a minimum standard that is affordable and efficient and can meet demand.

The fundamental reason for the Bill is to ensure we have a mechanism whereby we can deliver more houses and apartments that are economically viable to meet the needs the same Deputies rightly identified. I reiterate that I hold no candle for the construction industry. It will now have to step up to the mark and prove that it can deliver the apartments and houses it says it can deliver.

Deputy Clare Daly mentioned the issue of Dublin docklands earlier. The planning provisions relating to Dublin docklands are being transferred back to Dublin City Council, which will have the same oversight in terms of planning. That is the way it should be. The Dublin Docklands Development Authority (Dissolution) Bill 2015 is taking care of that. It is only fair to note that 15,000 jobs are located in the docklands where previously there was nothing. This is making a huge contribution not only to the national economy but to Dublin city as our capital.

Deputy Wallace raised the issue of ceiling heights. I know where he is coming from. The guidelines we are proposing call for a minimum ceiling height of 2.7 m on the ground floor and a minimum ceiling height of 2.7 m in north-facing apartments because we want flexibility rather than the imposition of dual aspect. Where an apartment is north facing, we will have the higher ceiling height so that there is more light and all other floors would have a ceiling height of 2.4 m.

Deputy Wallace and other Deputies raise pertinent points about the height of buildings. My understanding is that greater flexibility is being introduced in the Dublin city development plan that is currently being drafted and considered. I feel there is scope for increased height in appropriate places. My understanding is that apartments and offices will now have similar heights. Where a footprint is available and where it is serviced in an urban area by public transport and all of the other utilities and services are available, we should utilise that and utilise height as far as possible. I have a proviso relating to that.

I believe everybody would agree there are sensitive areas in our capital, in particular the Georgian areas. People spoke about how we need to protect them and we do need to do so. Imposing large-scale building developments on top of those areas needs to be sensitively treated. Ultimately, that is a matter for the planning authority but I understand that greater flexibility is being introduced in terms of allowing the building of taller buildings so that we can have more buildings on the footprint in urban areas.

I welcome this debate. It is important to continually review and evaluate our buildings and the standards we want to adopt. There is nothing new in Ministers issuing guidelines. It happens all the time but to prescribe them in primary legislation is not acceptable because it is too restrictive. If guidelines have to be introduced to change those in any way in the future, we have to introduce new legislation. We want minimum, good, efficient standards that meet the needs of our citizens and that deliver economically viable units which is what everybody wants to see.

Almost all the Deputies on this side of the House like the idea of matters being set in regulation and not left in the hands of a politician no matter who he is or what party he represents. It is not the way forward. We would do policing in Ireland if the politicians did not have their paws all over it. Likewise, building regulation should be independent of the paws of politicians. It will work better. The Minister of State says he is setting only minimum standards and anyone can build bigger.

They are generous.

The Minister of State calls them generous. I call them not generous enough.

They are substandard.

I am speaking from experience too.

If the Government is going to take the position that it is setting a minimum standard, it is really saying this is as low as developers can go. That means the developer who buys the land and manages the construction will set the regulation. He has the very minimum to work with and will then decide whether to make the apartments bigger, incorporate more ceiling height, storage space or a decent play area or just not bother. He has only the minimum to confine him and I disagree with that.

Developers and builders get kicked to death in here. I know many builders and developers who did things right and were not prepared to do things wrong and cheat all the time. It is the same as any trade where there are people who do things better than others. Not everyone was a crook. They were not all gangsters trying to do things badly. If the Government creates a base level and no one will be obliged to go above it, saying people can build better if they feel like it is not the way forward because developers will build as they see fit just above the Government’s minimum standards or just within them. There will be no great incentive to do anything else.

In respect of ceiling height, the regulation will be 2.7 m on the ground floor and only with a north-facing aspect. That does not address the problem. A minimum height of 2.7 m is needed in every apartment in Ireland. It would be great if that was used in housing too but it is essential for apartment living if we want to build better spaces for families to live in. We have to stop the notion that an apartment is only a place for people to live until they start a family and then they move to a house. There will not be enough houses. We will run out of grass to cover with housing.

In recent legislation, the Government reduced the social affordable dimension in developments from 20% to 10%. That makes it more financially viable for the developer and easier to finance. It was not the worst move in the world but 10% social and 90% private in a development is not a sufficient mix. We have had a huge problem with ghettoisation in Ireland.

The Deputy should speak on the amendment. Social housing is not in the Bill so the Deputy cannot discuss that.

He is raising issues raised by the Minister.

The Deputy’s colleagues want 100% ghettoisation.

I do not want any interruption please.

The State should buy an element of the private housing in the development to use for social housing in order to tackle ghettoisation.

The idea that we would set national standards rather than leave it at the whim of the Minister of the day is not rocket science. It would be a very sensible way forward. The standards need to be set for the entire country. The point was made on Second Stage that there is too much diversity throughout the country. If, however, we set these minimum standards in primary legislation they will work for the whole country and there will be a standard across the board. These are workable. The Minister of State might say that in the country it is not necessary to have such a high ceiling, but it should be. Why should it be any different? It is cheaper to build in the countryside than in Dublin. It is more expensive to build in Dublin than in any other part of Ireland. That is a fact. The idea of introducing legislation right across the board with really good standards would be a brilliant way forward.

It will not tackle all the problems in the housing game or the construction industry. There are many problems but it would be a great start.

Amendment put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 36; Níl, 58.

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Keaveney, Colm.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Mathews, Peter.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Níl

  • Barry, Tom.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Collins, Áine.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Coonan, Noel.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Twomey, Liam.
  • Walsh, Brian.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Clare Daly and Mick Wallace; Níl, Deputies Joe Carey and Emmet Stagg.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment No. 1b:

In page 3, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

“3. Section 28 of the Principal Act is amended in subsection (5) by inserting the following after “Oireachtas.”:

“Each House of the Oireachtas shall be called upon to debate and vote upon approval of these guidelines following the laying of these guidelines before the Houses.”.

Amendment put and declared lost.
SECTION 3

Amendment No. 2 is out of order.

Amendment No. 2 not moved.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 3, line 19, to delete “requirements of”.

Amendment put and declared carried.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 3, between lines 20 and 21, to insert the following:

“(b) in subsection (2) by inserting the following after paragraph (a):

“(aa) When making its decision in relation to an application under this section, the planning authority shall apply, where relevant, specific planning policy requirements of guidelines issued by the Minister under section 28.”,”.

Amendment put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 54; Níl, 36.

  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Collins, Áine
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Twomey, Liam.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Keaveney, Colm.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Joe Carey; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Brian Stanley.
Amendment declared carried.

I am now required to put the following question in accordance with an order of the Dáil of this day: "The amendments made by the Minister are made to the Bill; each section, or section as amended is agreed; the Title is agreed; the Bill as amended is reported; Fourth Stage is complete and the Bill is passed."

Question put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 55; Níl, 36.

  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Butler, Ray.
  • Buttimer, Jerry.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Coffey, Paudie.
  • Collins, Áine.
  • Conaghan, Michael.
  • Connaughton, Paul J.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Costello, Joe.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Daly, Jim.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Dowds, Robert.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frank.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Hannigan, Dominic.
  • Harrington, Noel.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Kevin.
  • Keating, Derek.
  • Kenny, Seán.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lawlor, Anthony.
  • Lynch, Ciarán.
  • Lynch, Kathleen.
  • Lyons, John.
  • McCarthy, Michael.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mulherin, Michelle.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Nash, Gerald.
  • Neville, Dan.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Mahony, John.
  • O'Reilly, Joe.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Perry, John.
  • Phelan, Ann.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Tuffy, Joanna.
  • Twomey, Liam.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Colreavy, Michael.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Fleming, Tom.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Keaveney, Colm.
  • Kirk, Seamus.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McLellan, Sandra.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Wallace, Mick.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Joe Carey; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Barry Cowen.
Question declared carried.

The Bill which is considered, by virtue of Article 20.2.2o of the Constitution, as a Bill initiated in the Dáil Éireann, will now be sent to the Seanad.