That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to enhance and expedite the transparency of the bidding process during the sale of land other than by auction.
This short Bill is an amendment to the Property Services (Regulation) Act 2017 and concerns the issue of bidding transparency. At present, during the process of the purchase of a property, agents retain the records associated with any bids made on the property and, if there is a fear on the part of those seeking to buy a property that there may have been fake bids during that process, it is only after the transaction that this can be investigated by the regulatory authority. While we do not cast any doubt on the industry or on the regulatory authority that is in place at present, we feel there is a gap in the legislation. As there is this fear, we believe this Bill can be used to accommodate a ten-day freeze during which an investigation can be carried out by the authority. It is up to the third party investigation to clarify that fact for all concerned; the procedure can proceed thereafter and there would be no cloud over the transaction once it is completed.
As I said, this is not to cast any aspersion on the industry and the current system but, especially given the current crisis, I believe every effort has to be made on our behalf to ensure that those who are seeking to purchase property can do so without any doubt about the process they enter into. There has to be fair play for everyone concerned and I believe this Bill sets about addressing that issue. I hope it will not be opposed and that it will proceed to the relevant committee for pre-legislative scrutiny in order for it to be enacted as soon as is practically possible. It is just one element of a system that is, unfortunately, broken in regard to the manner in which the housing programme and housing crisis are being managed by the Government. We want to play our part in ensuring this process is above reproach and that we can learn from the mistakes of the past. As few mistakes as there may have been, if there was one mistake in this area, it is one too many. This is a loophole that has to be closed. I would ask the Government's indulgence to proceed.