Sé phríomh cuspóir an Bhille seo ná deontais le haghaidh an furmhór de thithe príobháideacha a árdú, deireadh a chur le deontais le haghaidh tithe áirithe eile agus mion-athraithe a dheanamh san dlí tithíochta.
Tá súil agam go ngríosfaidh forálacha an Bhille tógáilithe chun tithe níos saoire agus de chaighdeán réasúnta a chur ar fáil, agus nios mó tithe, san iomlán, a thogáil.
The explanatory memorandum circulated with this Bill details its scope. I propose, therefore, to refer here only to its main provisions. In the 1960s, 98,000 houses were built and a further 93,000 reconstructed. At the end of the period the number of houses being built annually was more than double the numbers built annually at the beginning—just under 14,000 dwellings in 1969-70 as against about 6,000 in 1960-61.
While these achievements represent some progress, and are an indication of the priority given by the Government to housing, there is, I imagine, hardly a Senator in this House who would argue that enough has been done. In the 1969 White Paper—Housing in the Seventies—it was estimated that some 59,000 houses were needed to replace unfit houses and to eliminate overcrowding and related problems, and a further 9,000 houses, as a minimum, annually to replace dwellings lost through continuing obsolescence, demolitions, conversions, etc., as well as for internal migration and the increasing number of married couples living in the country.
The White Paper estimated that, to meet all these needs, housing output would have to rise from about 13,000 houses a year in 1968-69 to between 15,000 and 17,000 houses a year by the mid-1970s. Achieving this target and maintaining the present level of reconstruction and improvement works will involve an increase in capital expenditure in building and reconstructing housing from about £52 million in 1968 to £75 million approximately by 1975 at constant (1968) prices, and an increase in public current expenditure —mainly on subsidies—from about £11 million to £17.5 million by 1975.
The Bill is part of the programme to achieve the objectives of the White Paper.
The part of the Bill providing for changes in the system of grants for private houses will provide for the erection of houses of moderate size to meet the demand for dwellings from persons setting up homes; it will ensure that a greater number of houses are built for any given amount of capital; and, finally, it should encourage a greater flexibility of design, according to modern tastes and requirements.
Under the Bill, grants for private houses will be based on floor areas rather than room numbers. The Bill provides for increases in State and supplementary grants of up to £150 per house, with the largest grants for houses of between 800 and 1,076 square feet approximately, and for the abolition of grants for houses exceeding 1,249 square feet.
There has been some misunderstanding about what type of house exactly would come within the new floor area limit of 1,249 square feet. To remove doubts I should like to make it clear that an ordinary local authority house is usually about 800 square feet. A private house for which a house-purchase loan is made by a local authority is normally about 1,000 square feet. A house of this size would provide two living rooms, three bedrooms and reasonable ancillary accommodation. In fact, the house which won the commercially sponsored "House of the Year" competition was just over 1,100 square feet. I give these figures so that the persons can appreciate that the limit of 1,249 square feet on houses which will qualify for grants is by no means unreasonable. It would allow of four bedrooms and good living accommodation.
Although the new maximum floor area is reasonably large, I am conscious of the need to cater for the special requirements of the larger than average family. Accordingly, reconstruction grants will continue to be available for the addition of rooms and my Department will encourage, as it has in the past, the production of houses which are readily capable of expansion at reasonable cost.
The Bill also provides for the payment of grants for houses by reference to floor areas measured on a metric basis—this is in accordance with the Government's commitment to support the programme for the change to the metric system in the building industry. The Bill will also restrict grants to dwellings intended for use as ordinary places of residence.
or flats exceeding 116 square metres or
In the Bill as now before the House, it is proposed that grants for houses 1,249 square feet would be paid only if the house or flat is commenced on or before 31st August, 1970. In view of the recent dispute in the cement industry, I hope to arrange the moving of committee stage amendments to ensure that the date for the abolition of grants for dwellings with floor areas exceeding 116 square metres be put back from 31st August to 31st December, 1970. I will also seek to have amendments moved to increase the income limit for supplementary grants from local authorities and to provide for the recovery of expenses of paying such grants where a county has been divided.
In July, 1969, my Department announced that, pending the introduction of legislation providing for the payment of grants by reference to floor areas instead of room numbers, floor areas of individual rooms would have to conform with certain minimum standards for grant purposes which had been fixed administratively. For example, the minimum floor area of any bedroom could not be less than 70 square feet. I would now like to make it clear that, once a house commenced on or after 1st October, 1969, complies with the overall floor area limits laid down in the Bill no further minimum standards will apply in regard to the floor areas of individual rooms. My intention is to give designers greater freedom within overall floor area limits to decide on the sizes of individual rooms such as bedrooms, kitchens and so on.
Section 2 of the Bill sets out the rate of grant for ordinary houses. A State grant of £325 will be paid for a house of 75 to 100 square metres— 807 to 1,076 square feet approximately. A person buying a house of this size and qualifying for an additional supplementary grant of £325 from the local authority could be paid a total in grants of up to £650.
Section 3 deals with grants for farmers and certain other persons. Special provision is included in it for payment of grants to farmers providing houses in towns.
Section 4 will enable grants to be paid for flats in a building of less than six storeys at the same rate as for houses. If the flats are in a higher building and a lift is installed, the grant will include an extra £50 per flat.
Section 5 authorises State subsidy to be paid at the higher rate for dwellings provided by local authorities, in association with the National Building Agency, for the accommodation of key workers brought into an area for new or expanding industry.
Section 6 will facilitate the compulsory acquisition of land by local authorities.
Section 7 requires county councils who pay supplementary grants, to pay them subject to the same conditions in urban districts and boroughs in their area, other than boroughs or urban districts designated by regulations made by me. The principal reason for this provision in the Bill is that many small urban district councils simply cannot afford to operate supplementary grant schemes, with the result that there is an undesirable inducement to persons within the supplementary grant income limits, to buy or build houses outside urban areas, in places where water, sewerage and other services are not readily available.
Sections 8 and 13 will provide specifically that a local authority may pay a second or other reconstruction grant where a further State grant has been paid.
Section 10 will enable local authorities to pay supplementary reconstruction or essential repair grants in instalments—as they are already specifically authorised to pay supplementary new house grants.
Section 11 provides that the graduated rate remission over nine years provided for in the housing code will apply to dwellings provided by the Shannon Free Airport Development Company which conform with broadly the same conditions as to structure, size etc. as houses for which grants are paid under the Housing Acts, where the houses are completed after 31st March, 1969. The Shannon houses currently qualify for rate remission over seven years under the Local Government (Temporary Reduction of Valuation) Acts. The phasing out of this form of rate remission has already been announced. The section will also extend the nine year rate remission to houses completed after 31st March, 1969 by, or with the aid of grants from, the Land Commission, if the houses have floor areas which do not exceed the limits laid down in the Bill.
Section 12 will facilitate the execution of repossession warrants issued by the District Courts for houses provided by local authorities or the National Building Agency. The section extends the period during which warrants may be excuted from one week to one month and the time for execution of warrants from between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. It also makes the unauthorised entry into or use of local authority dwellings an offence, for which the penalty, on conviction, will be a fine not exceeding £50 or a prison term not exceeding one month or both such fine and imprisonment.
I commend the Bill to the House.