While we welcome the decision of the Minister to extend the provisions of the Rent Restrictions Act for a further period of 12 months, we cannot but express our regret that he has been unable to present us with a comprehensive Bill based on the report of the Conroy Commission. This is a matter of very urgent importance, not alone to those people who might be classified as landlords, those people in possession of flats and housing accommodation for letting, but to those people who would be accepted as tenants. The withholding of certain safeguards from these people must be a very serious matter. I should like the Seanad to direct its attention in particular to the importance of the part played in the past by those people whom we might now classify as landlords. They are not landlords in the present meaning of that word. They are people who have acquired property and who are making that property available for the accommodation of our people whether it be a flat or a house. I suggest that failure to provide some safeguards for those people must in general retard the provision of housing facilities. In my opinion, the many Rent Restrictions Acts that we have passed over the years have contributed to a reduction in the facilities that would otherwise be available for those who would like to avail of housing accommodation. That, I think, is putting it very pointedly.
Take the case of a person who invests his money in an industrial undertaking and, on the other hand, the person who is prepared to invest some money in the provision of houses for our people. I think that the State must assure to the latter that he is entitled to get from his investment in the sphere of social activities the same remuneration as he would get if he had invested the money in an industrial undertaking. To my mind the Rent Restrictions Acts since 1914 have retarded or influenced people against investing their money in the provision of houses for our people. On the other hand, we have passed that burden over to the local authorities which, at the moment, are our biggest landlords. I do not think that is a thing we should encourage. I think we should encourage the building of houses by private enterprise. People who are prepared to invest their money in that way should be assured of the same remuneration as if, instead, their investments had been in an industrial undertaking.
The Minister may not agree with my outlook on that. He stated here to-day, and earlier in the Dáil, that this was a temporary measure. He has asked for the indulgence of both Houses so that he may be in a position to introduce a comprehensive measure within 12 months. The Conroy Report has been before the Government for quite a number of months. In view of the representations which were put before the committee presided over by Judge Conroy, I think it is only reasonable that we have an assurance from the Minister that within 12 months he will be in a position to put before us a comprehensive Bill. While we ask for that assurance, we are prepared to give the Minister the Bill that he has introduced this evening.
I suggest to the Minister that his comprehensive Bill must have regard to the responsibilities of those people who are prepared to provide housing facilities for our people as well as the capabilities of the people themselves to meet the obligations which they will thereafter be under. If the Minister, or the Government, is not prepared to do that, there is only one alternative, an alternative which has been exercised to a very great degree, in the past, namely, that there are very few private individuals who to-day, are prepared to undertake the building of houses for letting purposes.