HC Deb 04 December 1916 vol 88 cc747-52

(1) Subject to the provisions of this Section the corporation may advance money on the security of the ownership of the site of any house or building which has been damaged or destroyed in the course of the recent disturbances for the purpose of enabling the house or building to be rebuilt or restored in such manner as will comply with the requirements of any by-laws of the corporation under the Public Health (Ireland) Acts, 1878 to 1907, as extended by this Act.

(2) The advance shall not exceed the difference between the amount which the Local Government Board certify to be the total cost of rebuilding or restoring the house or building in such manner as aforesaid and the amount of the compensation granted out of public moneys in respect of the destruction or damage of or to the house or building, and no advance shall be made unless such compensation has been granted and unless the Local Government Board certify that the advance is necessary for the purpose aforesaid.

(3) The advance shall be repayable within such period, with interest at such rate and by such instalments or otherwise as may be agreed upon subject to the-sanction of the Local Government Board, but the term of repayment shall not exceed thirty years from the date of the advance, and the rate of interest shall not be more than ten shillings above the rate at which the corporation can at the date of the advance borrow money for the purpose from the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland. Provided that in the case of an advance in several sums successively the foregoing provisions as to the term of repayment and as to the rate of interest shall have effect as respects each sum advanced as if it were a separate advance.

(4) The repayment of the advance and interest as aforesaid shall be secured by a mortgage of the site of the house or building in such form as may be approved by the Local Government Board. The mortgage may contain provisions for authorising the advance to be made in several sums successively as the works of rebuilding or restoration proceed, and for ensuring that the advance will be applied in defraying the expenses of those works and such other provisions as the Board deem necessary, and no money shall be advanced unless and until the Board certify that they are satisfied that the value of the estate or interest assured by the mortgage is sufficient security for the repayment of the advance and that the title to the estate or interest so assured is one which an ordinary mortgagee would be willing to accept.

(5) The corporation may exercise all the powers and remedies for recovery of the principal money and interest which are expressed in the mortgage or implied therein by law.

(6) In this Section the expression "ownership" in relation to the site of a house or building means such interest or combination of interests as constitutes an estate in fee imple or fee farm in possession or a leasehold interest in possession of at least sixty years unexpired at the date of the mortgage.

Amendment made: In Sub-section (1), leave out the words "by-laws of the corporation under the Public Health (Ireland) Acts, 1878 to 1907, as extended by this Act," and insert instead thereof the words "existing by-laws of the corporation and any requirements of the city architects under this Act."—[Mr. Duke.]


I beg to move, in Subsection (2), after the word "building"["building and no advance shall be made"], to insert the words "after deducting their existing charges."

I move this in order to give the Chief Secretary an opportunity of considering between now and the Report stage whether the Bill as at present drafted, without these words, might not have a prejudicial effect upon the holders of mortgages existing prior to the destruction of the property. I dare say between now and the Report stage the banks which are largely concerned may look into this matter and make representations. It does not seem fair that mortgages which were in existence at the time of the destruction of the property shall now take second place, and I ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider the matter.


The hon. Member has accurately forecasted the class of difficulty which will arise if this Amendment were adopted. There are strong business interests to be considered here, and it is impossible to set them aside. If those mainly concerned in this matter will put forward some mode in which the difficulty may be met I will consider it, and those in my office who advise me upon these matters will also consider it.


Will the right hon. Gentleman consider if they can be paid out of the exgratia Grant existing charges?


The hon. Gentleman will see that if once I make a bargain out of what he calls the ex gratia Grant it would cease to be an ex gratia Grant.

Amendment negatived.


I beg to move, in Subsection (2), to leave out the words "and no advance shall be made unless such compensation has been granted and."

I have some experience of the courts-martial which have been held in Ireland, and, in my opinion, many innocent men were condemned on insufficient evidence, and I wish to make sure that it shall not be possible for anybody to be condemned for complicity in the recent outbreaks without being given an opportunity of defending himself.


The Chief Secretary has not informed the House of his intentions to make this Bill a penal Bill. The words which it is proposed to leave out are penal words. They are penal words founded not upon the result of any inquiry or any sworn evidence, but on the secret evidence of detectives and spies. I respectfully submit that this Bill is not an occasion for a punitive enactment. Dublin has suffered enough. The Chief Secretary will admit that, that Dublin has suffered enough, and should put down now once and for all these punitive and penal measures. The words I propose to leave out will cleanse the Bill of that ugly defect. I sincerely trust that this Bill brought forward by the new Chief Secretary will not be sullied with a provision of this discreditable character. Let the Bill be purified from this proposal and dealt with on its merits as a Bill for the reconstruction of Dublin. The meaning of these words is that those persons to whom compensation has so far been denied on the evidence of detectives and spies are not to be allowed even to benefit through the Corporation of Dublin. That is a most unworthy proposal, and I trust it is only necessary to urge the Chief Secretary to purify the Bill of this nasty proposal and let it go forward to be dealt with on its merits.


I desire to support the Amendment. My object in doing so is to say that there has been brought under my notice a case which is one of clear injustice and to which, I think, the Chief Secretary will give some personal attention. If he does so, I think he will admit that it is a clear case of injustice. It is a case of a partnership in which the junior partner of the firm had a very small share, and he was supposed, at all events, to be a participator in or to have sympathised with the recent rebellion, to which the other partner was entirely opposed. Men in the same partnership may have different political views, but a report has been widely circulated that the firm will not get a single penny of compensation. I think the Chief Secretary will admit that that would be a gross injustice. If a person deliberately takes part in a rebellion or sympathises with it there might be some argument, but it is absolutely no argument against a man who has no sympathy with the rebellion at all. I hope the Chief Secretary will not allow a man to be victimised because he happened to be in partnership with one whose political opinions he was not perfectly clear upon. When he was forming the partnership he naturally only tried to ascertain the business capacity of his partner, and not his political views.


I will deal with these matters separately. First of all, with regard to the Amendment. The effect of the words which it is proposed to omit is not, I think, accurately appreciated by the hon. Members who spoke on the subject. The words are not necessarily of a penal character. I take notice of what has been said as to the effect which is apprehended. I am not sure that the House would be willing to legislate for what is regarded as a creation of facilities for persons who may have taken part in the rebellion, but if benefits are intended for a class you must not habitually exclude any man from that class. He must have an opportunity of being heard. That is a perfectly reasonable proposition, and I would ask hon. Members not to press this Amendment now. I will consider between now and the Report stage whether any language is necessary to render the meaning of the Bill more clear. With regard to the question of partnership raised by the hon. Member, it appears there is some citizen of Dublin who runs the risk of being penalised for somebody else's misconduct. I may say with regard to the administration of this grant that it is purely an administrative matter and, so far as I am concerned, I should be the last man in the world to punish A for the misdeeds of B. The hon. Member, if necessary, can raise the question of this particular case.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


I beg to move to leave out the words "but the term of repayment shall not exceed thirty years from the date of the advance."

The explanation of this Amendment is this: A term for repayment of the intended loans is contained in the Bill as it now stands which upon consideration is found not to be necessary for the protection either of the rates of Dublin or the public Exchequer, and is found to be on the other hand, somewhat stringent having regard to the difficulties. Irish borrowers, it has been said to their credit, are good payers. I have no doubt they will pay well in this case. The Treasury has not objected to a prolongation of the term for which these loans are made, and the proposal I am now making is to admit of further prolongation of the proposed term.

Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move, after the word "Ireland"["the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland"], to insert the words "and the term of repayment shall be a term six months less than the term for which the corporation can so borrow, unless a shorter term is agreed upon."

That will enable the citizens of Dublin who are placed in difficulties by the events of the rebellion to get from the corporation substantially the best terms the corporation can give, borrowing from the Public Works Loans Commissioners.

Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move to insert a new Sub-section:

"6. An application for an advance in accordance with the provisions of this Section shall not be refused, except where and so far as the corporation cannot borrow money for the purpose from the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland."

This is part of the scheme for making the process of facilities for loans available on all hands. Apprehension was felt—I do not think myself that there was any ground for it—that there might be some capricious refusal of the facilities which had been granted by Parliament and by the Treasury, and it is to meet apprehensions of that kind that these words are proposed.

Amendment agreed to.


I beg to move, in Sub-section (6), to leave out the word "sixty"["at least sixty years unexpired"], and to insert instead thereof the word "ninety."

This is consequential upon the other proposal. It is in order to cover the longer period of borrowing.

Amendment, agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.