DAMAGE TO PROPERTY (COMPENSATION) (AMENDMENT) BILL, 1926—COMMITTEE STAGE.

The Seanad went into Committee.
Sections 1 and 2 put and agreed to.
Question proposed—"That Section 3 stand part of the Bill."

Sub-section (3) of Section 3 reads:—

"No reinstatement condition shall attach or be attached to any sum payable by the Minister for Finance under Section 2 of this Act."

I do not know if it is possible to attach a reinstatement condition with regard to these payments, but one would naturally like that if possible the proper proportion of this additional ten per cent. would apply to the reinstatement of destroyed buildings. Some of the grants have been in excess of £50,000, and addition of ten per cent. will be an appreciable amount, and one would like to see, because of the circumstances under which it is granted, that it would be spent in the country to the extent of restoring such a building. Here it is deliberately omitted. There may be some practical difficulty in the way, but I would like to have such a difficulty overcome so that the proportion of the addition might apply.

The Damage to Property Act, 1923, specified various conditions under which reinstatement would be involved. I would like to emphasise the difference between the Damage to Property Act, 1923, and the International Commission, called by some the Shaw Commission and by others, the Wood-Renton Commission. That Commission dealt with cases all of which occurred pre-Truce. The Damage to Property Act, 1923, dealt with cases that occurred after the Truce and up to, I think, May 14th, 1923. In the case of the Damage to Property Act ample provision was made for reinstatement. There were various forms. In the case of a very big house, in respect of which there might be a grant of £50,000, it was open to the applicant for compensation to apply for such a sum of money as would enable him to rebuild the premises as they were. In a case of that sort a certain deduction was usually made by the Judge because of the increased value of the premises after restoration. That was case No.1. Case No.2 would be where a person made application for the transfer of the grant to a site in another county, and in that case reinstatement was a condition precedent to receiving any money. In either of these cases money would only be paid on the receipt of a certificate from the architect. There was a third case where a person did not desire to rebuild, and in that case he could claim what would be assessed as the market value of the premises. That bore no relation whatever to the cost of restoration. It has varied in cases from, say, £2,000 in the case of a £10,000 building to probably £4,000 in the case of a £50,000 building. In that case the sum awarded, being only a proportion—ten or twenty per cent.—of the actual value of the property and not the market value, it would not be a very large sum. But the main purposes of reinstatement have been attended to under the Damage to Property Act. I think that anybody who has any experience of its working will admit that every possible precaution was taken by the Oireachtas to ensure that where considerable sums of money were being paid in compensation to restore buildings a reinstatement condition was the inevitable outcome of the proceedings.

The difficulty with regard to imposing a condition of reinstatement in a case of this sort resolves itself into this: that in no case that I have heard of has a sum been awarded in excess of the cost of restoration. In other words, the sufferer in all cases had to supplement by a very considerable sum the amount granted in order to carry out the work. In that case, of course, it will be seen at once that it would be unreasonable to ask for a still further extension of the terms in order to permit of this grant being paid, and, generally, I should say that the difference between the sums awarded in the case of the Wood-Renton Commission and in the case of the Damage to Property Act would vary from ten per cent. to thirty and forty per cent. in favour of the Wood-Renton Commission. I think that having in this case taken every reasonable precaution that could be taken to ensure that a reinstatement condition would be attached to every decree for destroyed property, it would scarcely be reasonable now to insert a further reinstatement condition.

Question put and agreed to.
Remaining Sections and Title put and agreed to.
The Seanad went out of Committee. Bill reported.