One of the remarks Deputy Davin used about this is a remark I shall have to use about pretty nearly every amendment in the paper, that is, that they are amendments more appropriate to a general transport measure than one which is simply aiming at removing, from a particular type of company, a disability which is on it at the moment, and which it is thought should not be on it. There are quite a number of these amendments which seek to impose restrictions upon the railway companies entering on the road that are not on any of their competitors. If sought to be imposed on everybody together they would have to be considered on their merits, but I submit they are out of place in a measure of this sort. Deputy Davin's other remark, the soundest remark in opposition to Deputy Baxter's amendment, is that Deputy Baxter can only preclude the railway company from opening upon a road which Deputy Baxter says cannot bear a service in addition to those already there, but the Deputy's. amendment will not prevent, as Deputy Davin pointed out, some three or more bus companies starting three or four more additional services. If the Deputy's amendment was to have some sort of regulation on all and sundry routes, even that amendment could not be moved, because the Bill is not before us, and it would be out of order in this Bill. I submit it is unfair to put restrictions on a railway company. I myself seek to put restrictions on a railway company seeking to run bus services and some people consider those restrictions will make the whole Bill unworkable, and that they will be so onerous that, as one Deputy phrased it, the gift given to the railway companies will prove dangerous to them and not an advantage.
The matter Deputy Baxter spoke of would arise for consideration and it would have to be considered, but not with his conclusion, because at least the final decision cannot be on the point raised by the Deputy—Can an area or route bear another service? One may see three services going on at a particular time, but competition will drive out some. If there are two operating at the moment and there is an additional one put on, unless there is some extension of traffic over that route the three will not last. Some one or other must go, and it is a matter of which can give the best public service. The railway has imposed on it the restrictions which this Bill seeks to impose on it—the maximum rate, the rate once fixed not to be raised without the approval of the Minister, and a service put on not to be withdrawn or discontinued or even minimised without approval. If the railway company under these restrictions can give the best service, I think it should be allowed to give it, no matter who was there before it. I do think, however, that the points the Deputy has put down in his amendment are points that will have to betaken into consideration. If, for instance, in considering them it appeared that the railway company was not likely to give a better service, and in fact could not stand the competition under the restrictions imposed on it, then approval would not be granted, because it is part of my duty to see that railway revenue is not prejudiced by the railway seeking to enter into competition which is injudicious and which it could not stand.
I have another objection to the amendment. I have been often warned by the parliamentary draftsman in regard to measures to be very careful about setting out a list of things that have to be considered, because there is a legal rule that the inclusion of certain things of a general nature is to be interpreted as the exclusion of everything else, and this might suffer that fate. I say that the things referred to by the Deputy are ones that would ordinarily tall for consideration with a variety of other things, and if the Deputy is only concerned to get these matters brought forward, I think this will meet him to a certain extent. I had an opportunity since the Second Reading of meeting the Motor Bus and Coach Owners' Association. We had a discussion in which a number of matters were thrashed out, and it seemed at one time as if we could have come to an agreement that would be satisfactory to all the interests. It simply has been found impossible to draft the rather larger type of amendment that at one time I desired, but they desired one thing, on which I was prepared to meet them, and it would meet Deputy Baxter to a certain extent. I am not now pretending to quote the section as it would finally appear, but I am prepared to insert something of this type: That where a route on which a railway company proposes to run a road motor service for the conveyance of passengers is, in the opinion of the Minister, substantially the same, in whole or in part, as a route on which a road motor service for the conveyance of passengers has been run by some other person, the Minister shall not approve of such route until he has given notice thereof to such other person and has considered the representations, if any, made by such other person.
That does not get the Deputy the full length. It gets him really the full length of his amendment as phrased, but it does not get him the full length of his intentions. It only gives security to this extent—that these would be the further points obviously that somebody else occupying the route would raise: the area to be served, traffic that is likely to be had for passengers and other services, and the existing service. It will get consideration for those items, because they will be raised by the interested parties—the opposition parties, the parties already there. As I say, it goes the full length of the amendment, as phrased, because the amendment as phrased does not preclude me, after taking into consideration these things, from approving the route. It only says that the Minister shall take into consideration various things. That other amendment which was prepared to bring in after meeting the Motor Bus and Coach Owners' Association would, I think, meet that particular point, that it will give security to this extent, that the other people previously occupying the route would naturally raise those points which the Deputy has in mind: service the sufficiency of it the area to be served, and whether there is likely to be extra traffic which another service would be necessary for.
I have one difficulty about that proposed amendment, which, of course, will appear in a regular form on the next stage, and that is that it is difficult to give notice to every other person that may be on the route. There with have to be some limitation on that —that one could not bind oneself to give notice to every hackney driver who ran over that particular area. There will have to be some limitation with regard to a company or a particular reasonable type of service. Of course I can see to that later. That will meet the Deputy to a certain extent. I do not know that it goes the whole length of his amendment, but it meets it, I think, to the only extent which is reasonable, because it gives the other people the right to make representations and be heard, and thereafter there is still leave to approve the route if it seems that the railway company could offer the public the best service, despite all the restrictions which the railway company are being put under.