Supplementary Estimate. - Road Traffic Bill, 1931—Second Stage.

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time." Reference to the schedule enumerating the enactments proposed to be repealed by this Bill will show that half a dozen statutes are repealed and parts of a large number of others, so that this Bill codifies the useful part of the road traffic legislation that we have at the present time. It also introduces suitable provisions to meet modern traffic necessities. It contains practically no legislation by reference and it may be regarded as a complete statute for persons, whether motorists or not, making traffic use of the roads. The Bill is based on the report of the Inter-Departmental Committee consisting of representatives of the Departments of Local Government and Public Health, Industry and Commerce, and Justice set up in 1927. Copies of the report were circulated in October, 1928.

The Committee's duty was to enquire and report as to whether, and if so, how far, the existing law relating to the control and regulation of road traffic in all its aspects required modification, more especially in view of the growth in the use of the various kinds of motor vehicles. The Committee took evidence, both documentary and oral, and their report is based mainly on such evidence.

I think a word of praise is deserved by those who prepared the report dealing with a statement of the existing law, a statement of the evidence received and a statement of the recommendations made. The report is a model of conciseness and comprehensiveness. A large number of witnesses, both as individuals and representing a large number of different societies, gave most valuable help in the tendering of evidence, and went to very great trouble in connection with it. If the Bill, which has been before the House and the public for some time now, has had the rather kind reception it has had, the fact is entirely due to the co-operation that there has been on the part of a large number of associations and individual witnesses in going to the trouble they did go in preparing and giving evidence before the Inter-Departmental Committee.

The setting up of the Committee voiced a general demand for an examination into the existing traffic laws, due to the steady annual increase in the number of motor vehicles and to the fact that the existing legislation was scattered over several enactments passed from 25 to 75 years previously. It sub-divides mechanically-propelled vehicles into definite classes, and describes each class in language which is at once suggestive of the type of vehicle concerned.

The law as to driving licences has been re-cast and enlarged. Minimum ages have been fixed in respect of licences to drive motor cycles, light motor vehicles, goods vehicles, and public passenger-carrying vehicles, respectively, and no person can obtain a licence who makes a declaration that he is suffering from a disease or a physical or mental disability which would be likely to make his driving a danger to the public. A licence may, however, be issued to such a person on the production of a medical report as to his fitness to drive, and on his undergoing a competency test to be set up by the Gárda Síochána. Under certain conditions, a licence may be granted limited to the driving of an invalid carriage or a vehicle specially adapted. The Bill contains special provisions to deal with the person who drives a motor vehicle while he is drunk or otherwise unfit. It imposes substantial penalties, by way of fine, imprisonment and disqualification, for this offence, and makes a distinction when the offence is committed in relation to a public passenger-carrying vehicle and a vehicle of any other type. More extensive powers are given to the courts to disqualify persons from holding driving licences. In the matter of endorsements and disqualification the Bill provides for the circulation of the information to all licensing authorities (councils of counties and county boroughs), so that the possibility of issuing licences to disqualified persons should be considerably lessened. Heavy penalties are proposed in the case of persons driving or obtaining licences to drive while disqualified.

The Bill prescribes the maximum speeds governing the driving of certain types of vehicles. In the case of motor cycles and light motor vehicles no speed limit is prescribed, but in a prosecution for dangerous driving, 30 miles an hour will be prima facie evidence of dangerous driving. Power is given to fix special speed limits for particular areas, and the law in this respect is being enlarged by enabling the Commissioner of the Gárda to apply to the Minister for an order fixing a special speed limit. The existing authorities entitled to seek such orders are the county councils and the municipal corporations with populations of over 10,000. It is proposed that urban councils and town commissioners will also be entitled to ask for such limit orders, as such bodies are immediately concerned with the amenities of the town.

The Bill makes a distinction between the driving of a vehicle carelessly and dangerously, as a vehicle can be driven in such a way that, while not actually dangerous, it is the cause of undue anxiety to other road users, and may be a potential danger. It includes specifically the necessity for giving reasonable consideration for many other persons and vehicles using the road, as for instance the case of a bus being driven in such a way that other vehicles are pushed almost on the footpath. The penalty for careless driving is a fine not exceeding £10. Under existing law there is no offence of careless as distinct from dangerous driving, and the penalty for the latter is, for the first offence, a fine not exceeding £20, and for subsequent offences a fine not exceeding £50 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months. These penalties are considered inadequate, and it is proposed that persons convicted of dangerous driving be liable in the case of a first offence to a penalty up to £50 and/or 3 months' imprisonment, and for subsequent offences penalties up to £100 and/or six months' imprisonment, with power in both cases to the court to disqualify the convicted person for holding a licence.

As in the case of other countries, the Bill includes provisions whereby all persons who bring mechanically-propelled vehicles on to the public roads will be in a position to compensate other persons who suffer damage by the improper use of these vehicles. The arguments in favour of such provisions will be obvious, and are discussed in Part XIII of the Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on the Control and Regulation of Road Traffic. The Bill obliges the driver of a motor vehicle to cover, by an approved policy of insurance, an approved guarantee or an approved combined policy and guarantee, his legal liabilities for injuries caused through negligent driving of the vehicle, whether such injuries are committed against persons or property. The Bill provides for a sum without limit of compensation both in the case of damage to persons and damage to property. A considerable amount of discussion has taken place already on this Bill. A large number of suggestions have been made. Discussions have taken place between the Department and a number of bodies concerned in the motor industry. In discussing the matter of compensation in respect to property the case has been made by the insurance companies that they think it is not reasonable that there should be compulsory insurance in respect to damage to property without limit. They suggest that a car with petrol might drive into a shop window in O'Connell Street, and that as a result a fire might be started that would do considerable damage. That is not the real intention of our providing for compulsory insurance in respect to damage to property. A lot of property such as houses would normally be covered against such risks by ordinary insurance. In view of the fact that property may be damaged belonging to persons who are not normally in the habit of insuring their property, such as poor persons, and people who may have their means of livelihood taken from them as a result of an accident of one kind or another, the idea is that their property would be insured to a reasonable extent for them. This is a matter that probably will come up for discussion on the Bill. I would be prepared to put a limit to the amount to which property ought to be compulsorily insured.

The Bill provides for fines and imprisonment if convicted of driving an uninsured vehicle, and enables the court in certain cases to inflict a fine in lieu of damages, the fine to be paid over to the injured person. Provisions to safeguard the insured person in the matter of deposits by the insurers or guarantors are also included. The form of insurance or guarantee is to be approved by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and the liability of the insurer or guarantor is not to be avoided on account of any fraud, misrepresentation or false statement committed by the insured. The cover must extend to the personal representative of the insured. Provision is made for the punishment of fraud in obtaining a policy or guarantee, and for the carrying by insured of certificates of insurance or guarantee, and the production of such certificates on demand by a member of the Gárda Síochána.

The most varied opinions have been expressed as to the necessity for testing the skill of the drivers of all types of motor vehicles, of whom in the year 1930 there were 66,838; but after the fullest consideration of the pros and cons it was felt unnecessary to institute such a test for all drivers. It was considered, however, that where vehicles are used for public hire and the drivers are complete strangers to their passengers, different considerations arose. It is proposed that no person will be permitted to drive an omnibus, charabanc, or small hackney vehicle unless he holds from the Superintendent of the Gárda Síochána a certificate that he has the skill and competency to drive such a vehicle. For this purpose, of course, the Superintendent will have the assistance of motor experts within the force itself. Persons who are unwilling to make a declaration as to their physical fitness or who are unable through some deformity or defect to drive a motor vehicle of the ordinary pattern, must also obtain from the Superintendent a certificate of fitness before they can be granted driving licences. In such cases the Superintendent must have before him a medical report furnished by the applicant as to the latter's fitness to drive a particular type of motor vehicle. It will then be the duty of the Superintendent to have the competency of the applicant examined, and if satisfied to issue the necessary certificate. The certificate in this case would be of a limited nature. This brings us to the control of public service vehicles. It is felt that the whole machinery for the examination of public passenger carrying vehicles, the issue of licences and certificates in respect thereof, the licensing of drivers and conductors, including the revocation and suspension of such licences, should be in the hands of the Gárda Síochána, and the Bill makes provision accordingly. It contains, of course, provisions as to appeals either to the courts or to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health.

The broad distinction between the jurisdiction of the court and the jurisdiction of the Minister for Local Government in these matters will be, that the court will be appealed to in the case of character of the owner, driver or conductor, and the Minister for Local Government and Public Health will be appealed to in connection with any question arising as to the suitability of the vehicle.

Regulations will have been made by the Minister as to the construction and equipment necessary for public service vehicles, and the duty of the Gárda will be to examine the vehicles proposed to be used so that no vehicle which does not comply with the regulations can be put on the public roads as a public service vehicle. The Bill provides for the fullest inspection by the Gárda of vehicles used for public hire. There will be a periodical inspection and there will be occasional inspections, but occasional does not imply rare; it is intended that inspections will be frequent. While it is intended that all motor vehicles carrying passengers for hire must come under the provisions of the Bill, it has been necessary to deal with the special case of the conveyance of school children, and provision has accordingly been made for the issue of licences by the Minister for Education in certain circumstances.

Complaints have been frequently made as to the running of omnibuses on unsuitable roads. The Bill lays down that this shall no longer continue and that no omnibus service can be set up in respect of any road not approved by the Minister for Local Government and Public Health. Provision is also made to prevent overcrowding in public service vehicles and to deal with the necessities of rush-hour traffic. To give effect to the International Labour Convention concerning the application of weekly rest in industrial undertakings, the Bill provides that every driver and conductor of a large public service vehicle shall have one day's rest every week.

Special provisions will also be found as regards the small hackney vehicle and power is being sought to insist on such vehicles in areas to be specified, if hired in public places, to be fitted with a taximeter. Hitherto it has been the practice to describe small hackney vehicles as taxis, whether fitted with a taximeter or not. This has resulted in misunderstandings; it is obviously quite misleading; but it is intended that in future the term "taxi" cannot be lawfully applied to any vehicle not fitted with a taximeter. Generally, it will be found that comprehensive arrangements for the regulation of public hire vehicles are being proposed, and that little, if anything, is omitted in this respect.

The traffic on the streets is at present controlled by the Gárdaí, but their powers have not been as wide as they should be to meet modern traffic conditions. The law in this respect is accordingly being strengthened and enlarged. It is intended that in areas of dense traffic there should be recognised crossing places for pedestrians. The position with regard to parking places and the attendants at such places is specifically dealt with for the first time in our legislation. Obstruction of traffic, including the practice of cyclists holding on to other vehicles, is also specially dealt with. In the provisions for the protection of bridges from excessive burdens or the closing of particular roads which are unsuitable to vehicles, the existing law has been codified and enlarged. Under the Roads Acts, 1920, the closing of roads to vehicles was limited to motor vehicles.

Incidental to the regulation of traffic is the lighting of vehicles. All the existing provisions with regard to the lighting of vehicles, whether motor vehicles or otherwise, have been entirely recast and considerably enlarged. Although at least two lamps are almost invariably carried on the front of motor vehicles, the existing law does not require them. All it says is that one lamp on the off-side shall be carried. This requirement has been availed of in a very limited number of cases, but the fact that it has been availed of renders it necessary to alter the present law, as with one lamp only on a fast-moving vehicle there is risk to other road users. Accordingly it is proposed in future that two lamps, duly lit, shall be carried on the front of a motor vehicle, except, of course, in the case of a motor cycle used without a side-car. Provision is made for rear lights or reflectors on the ordinary push bicycle or animal-drawn vehicle. Special conditions are being laid down for the carrying of lights on vehicles towing other vehicles, as well as in the case of the vehicle which is being towed. Numerous other provisions respecting the regulation of lighting of different classes of vehicles used for special purposes or in special circumstances are also submitted, as well as a proposal for the carrying of lights while live stock are being driven in public places.

The Bill also deals with matters of a miscellaneous character — the punishment of the joy-rider, the person who without liberty takes another car and makes use of it, unlawful interference with the mechanism of motor vehicles, the fixing of damages by the judges instead of juries, the extension of liability for injuries to the real and personal estate. Under the present law if a person driving a motor-car negligently injures another in an accident in which he himself gets killed, even though he might have been insured for third-party insurance, the person who is injured does not get the benefit of the insurance. It is felt that that is unreasonable and that the insurance ought to cover cases like that. Certain duties are laid down for drivers on the occurrence of accidents. There is also provision for the reimbursement of hospitals of the costs incurred by them in affording treatment and maintenance to injured persons.

Generally speaking, the Bill places the responsibility for its administration on the Department of Local Government and Public Health and on the Commissioner of the Gárda Sióchána. This is nothing new in the matter of traffic regulation, but the existing statutory powers have been found quite inadequate to deal with many situations which modern traffic has brought to public attention.

From any comment there has been on the Bill, on the part of those who have had a part in shaping it whether before the Committee or otherwise, we can be satisfied that the Bill is on sound lines. A considerable amount of work may require to be done in Committee, but there is a very good framework for the Committee to deal with the matter and to see that the Bill when finally finished is a first-class Bill.

This is a Bill that has been badly needed for a good many years and it is a good thing that it has come even now. In the nature of things it is not a Bill that can be treated in any sense as a Party matter. My colleagues on these benches have gone through the Bill fairly thoroughly and they are satisfied that it is a measure that meets the needs of the time to a very considerable extent. As the Minister has already told us, it codifies the law relating to traffic on roads and in so far as it does that, it is also to be welcomed. It is certainly an improvement that as far as legislation in this House is concerned. the practice so often indulged in of legislation by reference, is not adopted in this Bill. That is an improvement in legislation that should be noted by other Departments which will be bringing in similar Bills in future. As to the principles laid down in the Bill, I think there is fairly general agreement that the Bill is one which meets modern traffic conditions and one that is needed badly.

There are, of course, many sections in it that will meet with opposition. There are sections in, at any rate, to which amendments will be offered by Deputies from this side and perhaps from other sides too. There are differences of opinion with regard to say Section 19, which sets out the age limits for person seeking licences to drive mechanically propelled vehicles. Some of my colleagues have maintained in discussing this Bill that the limits of age set out are too young and that in some respects, at least, in re gard to some of the sub-sections, the limits should be raised. There are many points of that kind in the Bill. The Bill is one of 160 clauses, and while as I say there is general agreement as to the principles of the Bill, it is hardly likely that in regard to a Bill of 160 clauses you would get everybody in a House of this kind of one mind. Therefore there may be a considerable number of amendments offered on which there may be justifiable differences of opinion. It may be that the amendments which will be offered from this side of the House will improve the Bill. In our opinion, they probably will.

One point of view with regard to fines was put to me by more than one person. That was that the procedure adopted of fixing maximum fines at a fairly severe figure could be justifiably called "class legislation"— that to a fairly wealthy individual a fine of £50 or £100 would not be sufficient, whereas that fine to an ordinary bus driver or a poor motor owner would perhaps cripple him for years. It was urged upon me that some consideration ought to be given to the circumstances of the individual concerned. I do not say that everybody would accept that view, but it is a view which has been expressed and which will, I think, find a considerable amount of support both inside and outside the House, particularly as the fines — perhaps justly so —for certain offences relating to drivers of motor cars are being put at a severely high figure in many cases.

Section 26 deals with drunken persons in charge of motor cars. It has been suggested to me that there is no reason for differentiating between the drunken person in charge of a private car and in charge of a public service car, that the individual driving a private car is, if drunk, as great a danger to the public as the drunken driver of a public service vehicle — of a bus, for instance. It has been put to me that any person in charge of a mechanically-propelled vehicle driving on the public roads, where he may come into contact with other vehicles, might be the cause of very considerable danger to life and limb, and that the driver of a private car is just as great a danger to the public as the driver of a public service vehicle. Therefore, it is argued that there should not be any differentiation between the driver of a private car who is under the influence of drink and the driver of a public service vehicle who is under the influence of drink.

Section 46 deals with the question of speed limit. There has been a fair amount of discussion in the public Press, particularly the Press relating to motoring, on that clause. There is a considerable difference of opinion as to the wisdom of sub-section (3), which says:—

Proof that a person charged with an offence under this section was, at the time at which such offence is alleged to have been committed, driving a mechanically-propelled vehicle at a speed exceeding thirty miles an hour shall be prima facie evidence of the commission of such offence.

While no speed limit is directly fixed in the Bill, a speed limit is set down indirectly. It is the opinion of many people with whom I have discussed the Bill that to put in a limit in that indirect way is not wise and is not just. I have heard many experienced drivers say that an experienced motorist can be as careful, and less a source of danger to the public in driving a car at 40 or 45 miles an hour, than other individuals would be in driving a car at 20 or 25 miles an hour. I do not offer myself as an authority on the subject, because I do not think I ever drove at more than 40 miles an hour. I am not an experienced driver, either. I do not drive very often. Therefore, I am not offering this opinion from my own experience. I am giving the opinion of many persons of long experience who are expert drivers. They say that fixing a limit of 30 miles an hour in that indirect way is not wise, and is unjust to the experienced and careful driver. All the expressions of opinion I have seen in motoring newspapers declare that that sub-section as not one that ought to be passed in its present form.

Another section that has come in for criticism is Section 48 relating to the hiring of taxis and making the hirer of taxis responsible for accidents that may happen. Section 48 (2) says:—

The driver of a street service vehicle and also the driver of a mechanically-propelled vehicle hired on terms under which the services of such driver are included in the hiring shall, for the purposes of this section, be deemed to be under the control of the hirer of such vehicle.

That means that any person taking a taxi on the public streets makes himself liable for any accident that may happen to that taxi. That is the meaning which has been taken out of that section by several persons who have read it with me. If that be the meaning intended, it would seem unjust that the hirer of the taxi who would not ordinarily, except rushing for a train, give authority to the driver to break the speed limit and take any necessary risks, should be held responsible. Unless such hirer gave explicit instructions of that kind and it was proved that he gave such instructions, it would be unfair to make the hirer of such a public service vehicle or street vehicle responsible for any accident which might arise during the time he occupied the taxi or other vehicle. There may be just reasons given why it would be right that the hirer should be responsible, but I have not heard them. Any discussion I have heard so far convinced me that it would not be fair to make the hirer of a street service vehicle responsible for any and every accident that might happen to the taxi he hired.

Part 5 of the Bill, dealing with the question of insurance, is one that gave rise to considerable discussion. Everybody is agreed that it was necessary to bring in legislation of this kind making it obligatory on the owners and drivers of mechanically-propelled vehicles to be insured in the fashion set out in the Bill. Some of us have known in this city some grievous harm being done to individuals driving in public service vehicles. We have known people to lose their lives and other people to be maimed for life, but on account of the owners of these vehicles not being properly insured against risks, these individuals suffered. A case in particular that was brought under the notice of many members of this House happened about a year ago when a public service vehicle —a bus — took fire and was burned down in the Coombe. Ten or twelve people were very seriously injured, and if there was nothing else to justify the introduction of legislation of this kind that accident alone, and the unfortunate results of it, would justify legislation for compulsory insurance being adopted. There have been frequent accidents and frequent cases brought under the notice of Deputies, making it evident that legislation of this kind was absolutely necessary.

With regard to the doctrine of compulsory insurance, there were a couple of matters brought to my notice that I should like to mention. The first is, there is nothing in the Bill, and I think there ought to be some clause in the Bill, giving preference, at any rate, if not going further, to Irish insurance companies. A very large sum of money goes out of this country every day for insurance purposes. Somebody else will be able to give the exact figure or an estimate.

A net sum of £1,000,000.

Deputy Moore says that £1,000,000 leaves Ireland for insurance purposes annually. After the passing of this legislation that sum will be considerably increased, and it would be wise if we could come to any arrangement by which we could do our own insurance. Some people have suggested that there should be a clause in the Bill making it obligatory to insure with Irish companies. Others have gone further and stated that the State itself ought to be its own insurer in this matter. If there could be a subDepartment set up under the Local Government authorities, such as the National Health Department, which would take charge of these insurances under the Traffic Act, and let the State carry it out and reap whatever profit there would be, I think it would be a good thing. I am told by some people connected with insurance companies that there is not likely to be much profit; that there are quite a number of insurance companies that do not wish to take these risks. Therefore, it is quite possible that many drivers of motor cars and owners of motor buses who have, perhaps, in some cases through no fault of their own, and in other cases through their fault, got a bad name with the insurance companies, would not be accepted, and would find difficulty in getting companies to take their risk. Therefore, it may be necessary, if the Act is to be put into operation in a thoroughgoing fashion, that the State should take up this question of insurance and carry it through themselves. However, that is a big question, and so far as our Party is concerned, we would stand for the State setting up an insurance department in any way that the Government might see fit, either under the present Local Government Department or some other Department. At any rate, we would favour the taking over of insurance by the State in this connection. If that is not done, and the Government does not see its way to undertake that responsibility, it is quite possible that many difficulties would arise in connection with Part 5 of the Bill.

There does not seem to be any arrangement in the Bill whereby an individual of the type I have mentioned, who might have been unfortunate, and might have had accidents for which he was not personally responsible, and whose proposal for insurance would be refused by the companies operating in Ireland, could comply with the law as it will stand. Therefore, some arrangement will have to be thought out whereby an individual who could prove that he was not personally liable for the accidents he might have had and which rendered him, in view of the insurance companies, an unprofitable investment, should not be deprived of the right to drive or own a car. I am told that there are individuals who have been refused insurance policies even though the companies, in some cases, were satisfied the individual was not responsible for all the accidents that happened. Nevertheless, while it was at any rate an open question as to whether he was responsible personally or not, they would not take the risk, and therefore that individual under this Act would be deprived of the right perhaps to own or certainly to drive a car. In this connection there is a clause in Section 5 which, I think, says that servants of the State will not be responsible. Section 5 states: "This Act (except Part V thereof) applies to persons in the public service of the State and to vehicles owned by the State." We would like to know whether the exclusion there in Section 5 of servants of the State from Part V of the Bill means that persons in the service of the State driving motor cars and causing accidents are excluded altogether from the purview of the Bill, and whether they would not be liable as other drivers of motor vehicles would be for the payment of damages under this compulsory insurance clause. Would the State take the responsibility? Would the State insure these cars and pay the compensation the same as any private owner, or is it intended that the State shall have no liability, so far as its servants are concerned, with regard to Part V of the Bill.

A question was put to me with regard to Section 74, which deals with the granting of licences by the Commissioner of the Gárda Síochána. It was suggested to me that it is quite possible under the terms of this section that a licence could be refused. Sub-section 2 states: "The Commissioner may refuse to grant a public service vehicle licence to a person who in his opinion is, by reason of his character or previous conduct or for any other reason, not a fit and proper person to hold a public service vehicle licence." It was suggested to me that the section was so wide in its terms that it might be possible that the Commissioner would or could refuse a licence to a person whose politics the Commissioner did not agree with. I said it is hardly likely that would happen, but even stranger things have happened because of politics in this country, and it would be well to have an assurance that the wide terms of that Bill did not include the giving of power to the Commissioner or any other person in the Gárda Síochána to refuse a licence to an individual because of any political or other views he might hold.

The Minister mentioned Section 110, which deals with the weekly period of rest for drivers and conductors. It is undoubtedly wise to make provision for a proper weekly rest for drivers of motor vehicles. It has been suggested to me that a better way of making provision for the proper period of rest for drivers would be to specify that the driver should not drive more than so many hours a day. In the section as set out here a driver might be asked to drive as many as 15 or 16 hours a day. There is nothing against it in the Bill. Surely it could not be held that especially the driver of a heavy motor vehicle, a bus or any other heavy vehicle, ought to be allowed to drive for a consecutive period of more than four or five hours without some break or rest. There is no limit so long as the driver gets one day a week off. So far as this section is concerned, his employers will satisfy the law, but in the view of many that is not enough. You should satisfy the public or to make certain that you will not have worn-out and jaded drivers working, as some of them are at present, twelve and even fourteen hours a day. If this Bill becomes an Act you will find drivers driving for seven or eight hours for a time without stopping.

14 hours.

I do not know if any one drives 14 hours without a stop.

There is a meal hour.

That is hardly possible, but certainly five or six hours without a stop to the driver of a heavy vehicle are too much, and provision ought to be made for a proper period of rest per day for drivers of public service vehicles.

In Sections 106, 124, 133, 135, 136 and 138, there are references to the powers to be given to the Commissioner to make regulations of various kinds with regard to motor driving and motor drivers in the streets, stopping places, parking places, proper routes for omnibuses and motor vehicles in general, but while there is suggested here that power be given to the Commissioner to consult with certain officers of the local authority, the local authorities themselves are absolutely ignored, and I do not think that is right. I think in all these cases whatever regulations are to be made by the Commissioner should at least out of courtesy, if for nothing else, be submitted, before they are put into operation, to the local authority concerned. The local authority in all cases knows the needs certainly equally as well as the Commissioner, and perhaps in many cases much better than any Commissioner or any Superintendent of the Gárda Síochána is likely to know it. I think it is the least, in the way of courtesy, to put it on no stronger grounds, that there should be given to the local authority the right to visa the suggested regulations and to be enabled to offer their view to the Commissioner on the proposed regulations before they are put into operation. Under the Bill as it stands there is no obligation on the Commissioner or other Gárda authority to consult with the local bodies. That ought not to be allowed to remain as it is in the Bill.

In Section 138 power is given to a Gárda to arrest on the spot an individual who refuses to pay the fee of the parking attendant. I would suggest that that is too drastic a power to put in the Bill. If an individual refuses to pay this charge he could be asked to give his name and address. If of course the Gárda had suspicions that a false name and address were being given it might be wise at that stage to give authority to the Gárda to arrest the individual. But along with the name and address of the individual the Gárda would have the number of the motor car and could easily trace the individual. To give a Gárda power to arrest without further reason any individual who refuses to pay parking fees is going a little too far.

In Section 153 power is given to a judge to assess damage. The jury is taken out of the question of damages. A jury may be allowed to give a verdict on the question of facts, but when it comes to the question of discussing damages the jury is taken out of the law. In our opinion that is not just or proper. A jury is as likely to give a fair verdict and to assess fair damages as any judge and is more liable to act with greater justice than a judge in such circumstances on the merits of the case. That is our considered opinion. The experience of anybody who has ever sat on a jury will I think bear out the opinion that a jury is more likely to be just in measuring damages from the various points of view than any judge no matter how careful he may be.

With regard to the certificates of competency for drivers, it has been suggested that some standard ought to be adopted whereby superintendents and others in charge of the issuing of drivers' certificates would agree on the amount of proficiency to be required. It is suggested that unless some regulations are drawn up, a superintendent or an individual acting for a superintendent in one county may demand a much greater amount of proficiency in a driver than would be required in another county. You would therefore have injustice being done, unconsciously perhaps. In some cases individuals competent to drive a car might be refused a licence because they could not perform some driving feat that a superintendent in a particular area may demand. It is a matter that might be looked into with a view to seeing if some regulations making a suitable test which could be applied by all superintendents might not be agreed on.

This Bill which was long overdue in our opinion goes a long way to solve purely traffic problems, without at the same time making any effort to deal with transport as such. We propose in the Committee Stage of the Bill, with the co-operation of the Minister, to make the Bill a better one. It is far from being watertight. There is nothing in the Bill to guarantee that a regular or efficient transport service will be maintained. It would seem desirable that while regulating the traffic on roads the national authority should make some provision to ensure the maintenance of a road service where it is needed and when a public service is authorised that regularity will be assured and the public be able to depend upon the time tables being strictly adhered to. The Minister no doubt is well aware that in several districts around the city of Dublin and presumably in some of the other borough areas some of the people who run buses run them to suit the traffic that they may be able to pick up at a particular period without taking into consideration the requirements of the travelling public during other periods of the day or week as the case may be.

In Sections 44 penalties are imposed for exceeding the speed limit. It would appear that a proviso should be inserted in sub-section (3) authorising a court to impose the penalty in respect of speeding on the owner of the omnibus if it can be shown that he is primarily responsible for the acts of his agents. The Minister no doubt is well aware, as many Deputies are aware, that when cases come before a District Justice he imposes heavy penalties in some cases upon the driver of a bus where the driver of the bus has merely been carrying out orders, working to a time table laid down by his employer. I know cases where fines have been deducted from the wages of the driver and I think it is grossly unfair that the owner who is responsible for the time table should be allowed to evade his responsibilities. I hope that something will be done by the Minister in the Committee Stage to make the owner responsible in such cases.

It would appear desirable that a new section would be added providing for the issued of road services licences. Attention is directed to the provisions of Section 72 of the British Road Traffic Act, 1930, covering this point. It appears these provisions are valuable and that in fact they are the only provisions which give effective control to the police authorities to deal with speeding, cutting-in and other similar abuses, and also provide for control of fares and time tables.

Part 7 of the Bill is concerned with the regulation and control of public service vehicles. It would appear that provision should be made in this part of the Act to insist on cleanliness, ventilation, etc. We trust the Minister will agree to a section prohibiting the conveyance of dogs in motor omnibuses. Very frequently we find three or four big greyhounds brought into a bus to the annoyance and sometimes the danger of passengers. I had personal experience coming from Edenderry one Sunday evening when a number of sporting gentlemen boarded a bus at a certain point accompanied by a number of greyhounds. I think it is desirable that some regulation should be made in the Bill before it passes its Final Stage to prevent that sort of thing happening.

It is recommended that Paragraph 41 of the Motor Car (Public Service Vehicles) Order, 1928, No. 67 of 1928, should be inserted in the Bill in order to insure that the driver's seat should be so enclosed as to isolate the driver from the passengers in the case of all public service vehicles. I think that is general in the case of buses plying for hire in Great Britain, and I think it is desirable that it should be done in this country also.

The Bill is faulty from the point of view of the workers employed on the public road service in so far as it does not provide for the statutory protection in respect of hours of continuous work. It is necessary for the safety of passengers that the drivers should not be permitted to be on duty for excessively long periods. The British Road Traffic Act recognises this and provides for obligatory rest periods. Deputy O'Kelly has referred to that. Section 19 of the British Road Traffic Act, which, no doubt, has been very carefully studied by the people who prepared this Bill, lays down very definite obligations in this regard. It says: "With a view to protecting the public against the risk which arises in cases where drivers of motor vehicles are suffering from excessive fatigue, it is hereby enacted that it shall not be lawful in the case of (a) any public service vehicle;(b) any heavy locomotive, light locomotive or motor tractor; or (c) any motor vehicle constructed to carry goods other than the effects of passengers, for any person to drive or cause or permit any person employed or subject to his orders to drive (1) for any continuous period of more than five hours and one half; or (2) for continuous periods amounting in the aggregate to more than 11 hours in any period of twenty-four hours commencing two hours after midnight; or (3) so that the driver has not at least ten consecutive hours for rest in any period of twenty-four hours calculated from the commencement of any period of driving."

I hope the Minister will sympathetically consider the insertion of a clause similar to the section now contained in the British Act which I have just read. In fairness to the employees and for the protection of the travelling public such a provision should be inserted in this Bill. The British Act contains sections providing for fair wages and conditions of employment. Similar provisions ought to be inserted in this Bill, so that where fair wages and conditions are not observed the licence to carry on the service should be cancelled or withdrawn. Deputy O'Kelly has referred to the conditions laid down in the fifth section. Section 5 states that the Bill, except Part V, applies to persons in the service of the State and vehicles owned by the State. I would like to be assured about the effect of accepting Part V (which deals with compulsory insurance) on State-owned vehicles. Does the specific exemption of such vehicles have the effect of reducing the obligations or liabilities of the State in the case of damages suffered by the employee or any member of the public in the case of accidents? I would like the Minister to answer that point when he is replying.

[An Ceann Comhairle resumed the Chair.]

Sections 50 provides that it shall not be lawful to drive a motor vehicle in a public place unless the vehicle is covered by third party insurance. Sub-section 4 provides that if the offence is committed by a driver it shall be a good defence to prove that he was acting under the orders of the owner. I would like to refer to Section 5, which provides that Part V of the Bill shall not apply to State-owned vehicles or vehicles in the public service. The question has been raised and assurances are required whether, in view of the exemption, a driver of a public vehicle might not be held responsible even if acting under orders of his employer.

There are a few minor points which we propose to submit for the consideration of the Minister, and the Deputies on the Committee Stage of this Bill, but we would like the Minister to consider seriously and sympathetically some of the points to which I have referred and which Deputy O'Kelly has dealt with at considerable length. I would like if the Minister would reply to the points raised by Deputy O'Kelly in connection with the effect of the exemption on public service vehicles and the responsibility, if any, of the employees who act as drivers of these vehicles, and whether that absolves the men employed from all responsibility if that exemption is allowed to remain in the Bill.

I think that we can agree with the Minister that this Bill in form and structure is one of the most satisfactory measures that have been submitted to this House for some time. There are a number of points in it in which we think the Bill can be improved, but the general scheme of it is everything that might be desired, and the phraseology adopted in the majority of the sections is much more lucid than in Government measures, and particularly in measures introduced by the Minister for Local Government and Public Health. The satisfactory appearance of the Bill is some excuse for the long delay that has taken place in its introduction. It is a number of years now since the Committee to which the Minister referred submitted its report, and the Bill which we are discussing is very long overdue. The Minister will remember that he asked leave to introduce it here in 1929, and then he asked leave to withdraw it in 1930. It only comes before us now when the condition of traffic on the roads has become much worse than at any time in consequence of its growth. The volume of that traffic now calls very urgently for regulation. We have been discussing for the past few days the necessity for taking urgent steps to deal with the political situation, which has resulted in the death of a few persons, while we have been delaying for years in dealing with the traffic situation, which is responsible for four deaths and 70 persons injured per week in this State.

The Bill produced is some excuse for the delay, but not the whole excuse. The Dáil should not hesitate, I think, to pass its censure on the Minister for holding the Bill up as long as he has done. The principal defect in this Bill as I see it is that it ignores the pedestrian. If its purpose is, as I presume it to be, to make the roads safer for those who have to use them, then the omission of the pedestrian from the scope of the Bill is, in my opinion, a very serious defect. Unless that defect is remedied in some way, the number of fatal and non-fatal accidents are not likely to be diminished in consequence of this Bill.

The statistics available as to the causes of accidents show that in the majority of cases accidents, particularly fatal accidents, arise from the action of the pedestrians and cyclists, and only in the minority of cases through negligence on the part of the motorist. If that be so, the omission of pedestrians from this Bill and the failure of the Bill to deal with pedestrians on the road will mean that in the majority of cases the causes of accidentes will not be removed. I move the adjournment of the debate.

Debate adjourned.