With regard to the question raised by Deputy Hughes, I will undertake that the Ministry will investigate any specific complaint of delay. There have been some cases of complaints. Investigations have taken place, but the complaints have been more or less of a general character. If specific instances are furnished we will undertake to deal with the matter in a way that will give satisfaction, I think, to the Deputy.
In regard to the question raised by Deputy Davin, the functions of the Transport Ministry in regard to railways cover Finance and Statistics, Public Safety, Appointments of Baronial Auditors, Rates, Fares, Facilities, Liquidation of the Control Agreement between the railways and the British Government. Owing to the unsettled conditions of the railways, the Department has been largely kept engaged since its transfer to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce on special matters regarding the functioning of the railways, their future policy and questions arising out of wages and conditions of service.
With regard to the matters raised by Deputy Figgis and Deputy Davin, they have not yet reached the point at which it would be to the interests of either the railway companies or the Government to make a statement on them. We know that negotiations, suggestions, recommendations, and so on, take a very considerable time. If the railway companies cannot come to an agreement that undertaking that was given by the Minister will have to be carried into effect, but we believe that it is better still to spend a little more time in seeing if it be possible to come to some accommodation. In the first place it would be more satisfactory, and in the second place it would probably speed up the ultimate settlement of the question more than if we had to come along with a cut and dried scheme of our own.
The Department's functions also include various matters in connection with tramways, railways, canals, docks and harbours, including the receiving and examination of accounts, returns, Sinking fund, powers to reduce rates in certain circumstances, appointment of auditors, power to impose penalties, and also matters of public safety. I am also informed that increased powers for the Transport Department are desirable, but they can only be conferred on them by new legislation.
Deputies, I am sure, appreciate the difficulty of introducing new legislation, or even dealing with some of the many complex problems that we have by reason of the shortage of time and the necessity for going slowly to avoid mistakes. It is better not to make mistakes. They are not easily remedied, and they may have very bad reactions if they are made.
With regard to the question raised by Deputy Seán O Laidhín, the scale of pay of established messengers is 25/- a week, rising by 1/- to 29/- plus the Civil Service bonus, which is equivalent, at the current rate of bonus, to 47/5, rising to 56/- per week. Unestablished messengers receive uniform and overtime in respect of hours in excess of forty-eight per week. A limited number of subordinate employees, fire-lighters, etc., are on a scale of 18/-, rising by 1/- to 22/- plus Civil Service bonus, equivalent at the present rate to 34/2 and 41/9. This is the scale we received when we took over from the British and we have paid that since.