Public Business. - Road Transport Bill, 1933—Second Stage (resumed).

A Chinn Comhairle, the policy enshrined in the Railway and Transport Bill is a complete repudiation and reversal of the transport policy of the Fianna Fáil Party as declared by the Minister in this House and in the country during the past two general elections. Deputy Norton quoted at length from documents of this House and from reports of speeches made by the Minister outside the House, quite clearly showing to those who are concerned that the Minister for Industry and Commerce, when he was shadow Minister in opposition in this House and when speaking for his Party in the country in February, 1932, committed himself and his Party to a solution of this important problem along the lines of unification under public ownership. There is nothing in either of those Bills to show that that promise, given in this House on behalf of the Party, and that pledge given to the people of the country previous to the general election, are being honoured. There is nothing in either of the two Bills to show that the Minister is anxious to solve the problem along the lines of unification under public ownership, or along the lines of compulsory unification under private management.

Deputy Norton quoted the Minister, and speeches made by the Minister in this House in 1932, and also quoted from his speech reported in the "Irish Press," which was delivered by the Minister on 9th February, 1932, and previous to the general election of that year. I go back still further to quote the Minister, and to quote him as having spoken in this House on the 13th June, 1929. I quote from Col. 1378 of a debate in which the Minister took part on that date in connection with the Vote for the Department of Industry and Commerce. The Minister said, amongst other things:

"The railways have fixed assets. They have the lines, the stations, etc., whereas the omnibus companies own only omnibuses. These have a limited life, and I believe very little hardship would be imposed on anybody if it were enacted that after a particular date, let it be one year or eighteen months ahead, the sole right of running public services on the roads would be vested in that transport board, the establishment of which we suggest."

Where is the provision for the establishment of a transport board in any section of either of the two Bills now under discussion? Where is the provision for the central or co-ordinating authority that must be set up if we are to have a nationally owned reorganised transport service? The Minister, speaking in the House yesterday, is reported in the "Irish Press" to have said:

"It is clear that if the railways are to be maintained and play their part, if only under modern conditions, they must be made part of a wider and centrally controlled transport organisation."

Where is the central control provided in this Bill? The only control I can see, and which the Minister asks for in this Bill, is the power of a dictator, the power first of all to close down, what he has acknowledged in his speech to my amazement, large sections of branch lines of the Great Southern system, to disemploy hundreds or perhaps more railway men without any certainty of giving them compensation, and to write down by from 15 per cent. to 90 per cent. capital amounting to £26,000,000, subscribed by Irish citizens. I should like that the railway workers of this country, who are still in employment in that industry which in 1924 gave employment to 20,898 citizens of this State, and also railway shareholders, who still have an interest in the preservation of the Irish railways, to purchase a copy of the Official Report of the Minister's speech made in this House yesterday, and to try and find in any sentence or paragraph of that speech anything which would indicate that the Minister had or held or ever held pro-railway views. In March, 1925, as I said, there were 20,898 able-bodied citizens of this State employed under trade union conditions in the railway industry. In March, 1932, that number was reduced to 14,128. Since March, 1932—the Minister I am sure will be able to confirm this from the records of his own Department— another 1,000 have been added to the list of the unemployed as far as the railway industry is concerned— another 1,000 without having received the compensation which they were originally promised under the Amalgamation Act of 1924.

Now, apart altogether from the speeches and the promises which were made by the Minister when he was a shadow Minister in this House and outside the House on behalf of his Party, I want to say this: I have been listening to members here in this House challenging President de Valera as to his right to proceed on certain lines in regard to the Land Commission annuity question, as to his policy and as to the advisability of his policy. President de Valera on all occasions, and perhaps rightly, clearly pointed out that he had a mandate from the people to proceed on the lines he was going on. I want to suggest that what President de Valera asked for, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, on his behalf, also asked for, and got as clear a mandate to proceed on certain lines for the solution of this particular problem as he did on the question of the Oath and the Land Commission annuities. I should like to hear from the President, if he speaks in this debate, what justification there is for a change of policy in view of these very definite pledges announced by his Minister for Industry and Commerce. The people to whom these pledges were given, and the people who accepted these pledges, are certainly entitled to some explanation, and also the people who are likely to lose, as I am certain they will lose, their employment on the railways.

We are told, and I am still prepared to believe it, but one has to make certain mental reservations, that the plan and policy of the Fianna Fáil Party is to build up a new economic structure in this State. Does anybody seriously suggest that they can erect that new economic structure which they have in mind while they have the banking and credit system of this country under private control and ownership, and while leaving the transport system in the hands of the people, who have mismanaged the transport services of this State already? If you are going to build up a new economic structure in this State you will have to have more control over the banking system, and you will have to have more control than you are asking for in this Bill over the transport system.

Before Fianna Fáil came into this House the members of this Party gladly supported Deputy McGilligan, then Minister for Industry and Commerce, in taking control of the water power resources of this country. That was a step which was taken at a time when you had the Seanad much more reactionary than what it is to-day; that was a bold and courageous step taken at a time when there were no Fianna Fáil members in the Seanad, and when there were very few Labour members there. The Minister for Industry and Commerce came along yesterday and suggested—and I would not mind if it were at the cross-roads during the election—that the real reason he could not go forward on the lines of the policy previously announced was that there was not a majority in the Seanad. I remember hearing the Minister making that statement to a private conference at which I was present, but I never thought that he would come to this House and try and thrust that argument down the throats of intelligent Deputies. As Deputy Norton pointed out, he did not consider the position of the Party in the Seanad when he sent other Bills to that institution. He did not consider the likelihood of other measures being held up by the Seanad. Are we to understand that the policy of the Fianna Fáil Government in the future, and the programme of legislation which they are going to present to this House, will be considered in the light of what the majority of the members of the Seanad are likely to do with those measures? I would ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce does he know what the Seanad is likely to do with the Land (Purchase Annuities Fund) Bill? If he was assured by somebody that was in a position to advise him that the majority of the members of the Seanad would throw out that Bill, would he give the same reason for refusing to present it to the House as he has given for refusing to proceed along the lines of his stated policy in regard to the solution of the transport problem? That kind of argument is all very well to use at a cross-roads meeting to a gathering of people during election time where the individuals listening to the Minister would not understand the actual position of the Seanad in relation to the constitution of this State. I am not accepting that argument as a sound argument for the refusal of the Government to proceed along the lines previously announced here and elsewhere.

The Minister stated—I am glad he did so—in relation to the Railways Bill that it was not designed to save the railways. That is certainly a plain and straightforward statement. It makes it quite clear that the Minister never had any right to anticipate the introduction, as promised, of pro-railway legislation into this House. This is not a pro-railway Bill. It is a Bill for the partial destruction of the existing railway system. I refer to the proposal contained in it in regard to the writing down of capital. That is a matter upon which members in other parts of the House would have a better right to speak than I would, but I just want to draw the attention of Deputies concerned to the proposals presented to the Government and published in the newspapers in regard to the purchase of the railways by the State: proposals which were presented to Deputy Cosgrave when he was President, and subsequently to President de Valera and the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I would like to draw attention to this: that the Minister, apparently without any consultation with financial experts and without, as he has stated, agreement with the people who have financial interests in the company, has put in certain proposals in this Bill. Now, I would like to quote from the proposals which we presented to the same Minister the conditions under which we suggested that the railways should be purchased by the State for the people and run as a national industry, as was originally intended, to be run under public ownership by the Fianna Fáil Government. We suggested that:]

the price would be based on the Stock Exchange quotations over a specified period where such existed, and in other cases by agreement between the owners of such undertakings and the Minister with the approval of the Minister for Finance or, in default of agreement, to be settled by a transport arbitration tribunal.

At any rate the suggestion put forward by the Labour Party in regard to the acquisition by the State of the railways was on the basis of the Stock Exchange value of the various stocks over a given period, and we suggested that the period should be not less than three and not more than five years. That may be of interest to Deputies who sit in certain parts of this House and who have repeatedly suggested that the Labour Party stood for a policy of confiscation.

I said that this Bill had not even proposed the unification of the transport services under private management. The Minister is, I think, wrongly reported in the "Irish Press" as to what he said in the House yesterday in regard to this matter. He is reported in the "Irish Press" to-day as having said in regard to this matter:—

"It (that is, the Railway Bill) definitely required that the road services owned by the Great Southern Railways Company should be brought under the same management and control as the railway service of the company."

Will the Minister, when replying, point to any section of the Railway Bill which would indicate that that was the policy: that it was his definite desire and intention to have the road services which were purchased by the shareholders of the Great Southern Railways Company run under the direct control and management of the traffic or general manager, of the Railway Company? The Minister is well aware that the Railway Company, or the directors of the Railway Company, out of the shareholders' money purchased the I.O.C. and Messrs. John Wallis and Co. some years ago. Notwithstanding what may be said to the contrary, I am in a position to repeat what has been said here and elsewhere before: that the firm of Messrs. John Wallis and Co., although owned by the shareholders of the Great Southern Railways Company, has been running in open competition with the railway system itself. I believe that if the Minister consults the files in his own Department he will find evidence to support that. I understand the statement that was made by me in this House to that effect some time ago was subsequently denied in very plausible and very vague language by the general manager of the Great Southern Railways Company, but if further evidence of that policy and that procedure is required by the Minister I undertake here and now to see that it is supplied to him.

Why should any transport company, in particular a railway company, have road services, whether passenger or commercial lorries, without having those services under the direct control and management of the company that is supposed to own them? I have listened to people quoting cases where the clerical staffs of the Great Southern Railways Company have been instructed to go out and canvass for traffic for Messrs John Wallis and Company. Is it any wonder, with a policy of that kind, that the railway system is being wiped out and that the Minister is now suggesting that certain sections of it can be closed down even without any inquiry?

I now come to that portion of the Railways Bill that deals with the number of directors. The Minister was quoted at length by Deputy Norton yesterday as having expressed the opinion that the management of the company, under the present system, was inefficient. A statement of a more drastic character, but along the same lines, was made by Senator Connolly some short time ago. We have here in this Railways Bill a proposal to continue in existence the very same people and the very same system which has brought the railway industry to the verge of bankruptcy. The proposal in the Bill is to reduce the number of directors to seven. Sir Walter Nugent, speaking at a shareholders' meeting the other day informed them, according to the report of his speech that appeared in the newspapers the following morning, that that suggestion was put forward to the Minister's predecessor, and stated that the Board were willing themselves, strange to say, to have the number reduced to eight, the minimum to be six. He suggested that the present Minister for Industry and Commerce is merely splitting the difference.

I think you are not going to have under private ownership an efficient directorate unless the number is considerably reduced. The Labour Party feels that the number should be reduced to three, and that it certainly should not exceed five. Does the Minister believe that a body of directors which up to some time ago consisted of individuals, some of whom had reached the age of 89, are the best and most efficient that can be found to manage a transport system under modern conditions? Does he suggest that any man at the age of 89 could possibly have a proper outlook on the present transport needs of the people? One director at the age of 89 died in harness only a short time ago. I am informed that whenever he went to the directors' meetings he said nothing, but attended the luncheon held subsequently. We suggest that the number should not exceed five under any circumstances. I hope the Minister will agree to reduce the number and accept an amendment to that effect on the Committee Stage of the Bill.

The Minister is quoted by Sir Walter Nugent as having "courteously intimated his willingness to consider reasonable amendments, the acceptance of which may modify existing impressions." Imagine the Minister giving that very courteous intimation to the chairman of the company after having accepted the company's Bill practically in its entirety with two or three exceptions. This is not the Minister's Bill; it is the Railway Company's Bill with two or three exceptions. I should like to ask the Minister will he accept an amendment fixing a maximum age for the directors of the company who will have the grave responsibility of bringing this industry out of chaos? The reason I make this request is that the directors have made a regulation that all servants of the company, whether "quill drivers" or engine drivers, have a maximum retiring age fixed-60 years of age in the case of the "quill drivers" and 65 in the case of the engine drivers. Surely, if the directors of the company think that their own employees are either mentally or physically unfit to carry on the work of the railway after a certain age, the same argument is good, and has perhaps greater force, for those who are giving the directions themselves. I suggest that it would be in the interest of the company itself to have a maximum age fixed and that the shareholders would be well advised to see that the Minister inserts some maximum rather than that an old man should die in harness at the age of 89.

There is a proposal also in this same section of the Bill that the next election for the new Board after the passing of the Bill shall be under the new system of ballot voting and I compliment the Minister on inserting that. I think that the election of the new Board should not be delayed until the next annual meeting. There are good reasons why the election should take place as soon as possible or as soon as convenient and I would urge on the Minister to see that the election of the new Board should be within at least six months from the date of the passing of this measure.

I come now to Section 8—that portion of the Bill which is undoubtedly the company's section as a whole and in which the Minister asks for powers from this House, without any previous inquiry, for the closing down of branch lines of the Great Southern Railways' system. When I read this Bill I thought it was a fairly bad Bill, but I was certainly amazed to hear the Minister's own explanation of this section and to hear him claim the powers to close down large sections of the branch lines without any previous inquiry of any kind. Sir Walter Nugent, I understand, at the shareholders' meeting the other day, informed the shareholders that he had put up a similar proposal to Deputy McGilligan when that Deputy was Minister for Industry and Commerce, and he expressed his gratitude to the present Minister for having now accepted a proposal which, I understood him to say, was turned down previously by Deputy McGilligan. The whole of Section 8 of this Bill is the company's proposal, not modified as far as I know by the Minister after having received it from the company. I would not have the same objection to the claim put forward for the inclusion of Section 8, if the Minister would agree that a public inquiry should be held beforehand at the expense of the company, and that interested parties— parties interested in the preservation of the railway system, traders in the locality concerned, travellers on the line and others likely to be affected by the closing down of the branch lines— should have an opportunity of stating their case.

The Minister asks for dictatorial powers and I am certainly not prepared to give such dictatorial powers to him, especially in view of the unfortunate statement which he made here yesterday. I asked him how many, if any, applications he had received from the railway company for the closing down of these lines, and he said none up to the present, but that he had received six or seven applications for the reduction of the services. But he said that he was convinced that a good case could be made out for the closing down of certain branch lines, and when it was suggested to him that there were objections to the closing down he advised Deputies not to bring these opposing such applications to him. Will the Minister be good enough to say where he got that information, and whether he has examined the figures submitted by the company, and whether he reserves the right to tell them, when they come in with objections, that he will close down these branch lines and will not listen to any objections? It is a most unfortunate situation that he should pre-judge a situation of that kind in that manner, especially when he admitted that he had not received any application of the kind up to the present. I have been approached, as several Deputies in this House have been approached, affecting a proposal of that kind, concerning my own constituency. Deputy Moore almost wept tears of blood here yesterday evening at the closing down of what he called the Tullow section. He counterbalanced that, of course, in another part of his speech by weeping for the poor farmer living in some by-road who would not be able to get his cattle or sheep or pigs along that by-road to whatever fair he wanted to bring them without a motor lorry. May I remind Deputy Moore that he lived in a part of the country where there were no lorries in the old days and when the good old horse and cart were good enough to bring the cattle and the sheep and pigs to the fairs? I know he was born and reared in circumstances which compel him to realise that there are other ways and means, as there were in the old days, of getting cattle and sheep and pigs to the fairs and markets without having to get them out along a by-road in a motor lorry. I wonder did Deputy Moore have any information from the Minister that that particular line is likely to be one of the first to be cut off, and is that the reason Deputy Moore objected to that part of the Minister's statement? I suspect that the Minister had been in previous consultation with Deputy Moore and informed the Deputy that this is one of the lines likely to go, and that that is why the Deputy wept tears about a section that cut across portion of his own constituency. If that branch line closes down and results in the unemployment of the men engaged there, I would advise the railwaymen who may lose their employment by the closing down of that branch line to look to Deputy Moore for consolation if they do not get compensation.

The Minister, in this section of the Bill, in his usual eloquent style, has assured us that all the railwaymen who may lose their employment as a result of the closing down of these branch lines would be provided with compensation. I want to tell the House that the sub-section of this section of the Bill which proposes to provide compensation for those who may lose their employment through the closing down of the lines is certainly copied from the Company's Bill. There is no doubt about that. I want to point out to the Minister that the Railway Company can find many ways and means of evading this section, and can find many ways and means of depriving railwaymen, who lose their employment as the result of the closing down, of the compensation which the Minister promises them under this section of this Bill. Every railwayman of every grade is, and can be transferred from one point to any other point of the company's system, and I venture to suggest that most of the men who are now employed on these lines have been transferred at some time or other during past years from a main line to a branch line, or from a branch line to a main line. The company have always had the right to transfer employees from any one part of the system to any other.

Does the Minister deny that under the reading of this sub-section, promising compensation to those who may be dismissed, the company could not, a day, a week, or a month before the line would be closed down, transfer the employees from the section of the line that is going to be closed down, to the main line or some other section that was not going to be closed down, thereby evading the obligation placed on them under the terms of the section? If the company decided that they were going to close a branch line at any particular date and the Minister sanctioned their proposal, they could easily evade the obligation by transferring the employees concerned, merely leaving a skeleton staff on the branch line on the day it was closed down. Having transferred the employees to the main line or some other section, they could on the day after the branch line was closed give notice of dismissal to the people who were transferred, and there would be then no compensation for them under any conditions. I pointed out the amounts of compensation that were provided under the 1924 Act. I think the Minister can get particulars as to the number of employees who have been denied compensation as a result of methods of that kind.

One clause in the Bill has been introduced by the Minister to the amazement of railwaymen in this country. That is sub-section (d) of Section 8, which states:

Such railway company may, notwithstanding any agreement or practice as to the dismissal (in cases of redundancy of employees) of the latest employed of its employees or as to the division of such railway company's railway system into districts for the purpose of the promotion or dismissal of employees, redistribute its employees in such manner as appears to such railway company to be proper, but not so as to impose any undue or unnecessary hardship on the employees of such railway company.

I am amazed that the Minister should in a Bill of this kind bring in a sub-section which would cut across and smash an existing agreement between the unions and the railway companies. The Minister denied yesterday that that was the intention. The Minister knows perfectly well, and he has plenty of communications in his Department to show it, that the method adopted in getting rid of redundant employees was "last man in, first man out." That has been an agreed policy between the unions and the railway companies. When the Minister was in Ottawa last year, the present general manager of the Great Southern Railways Company challenged that particular procedure. In company with other colleagues I was appointed to wait on Senator Connolly, who was then acting Minister in the absence of the Minister himself. After having explained to him the arrangements which were in existence between the unions and the companies, Senator Connolly—and I am very glad to have to say so in this House, as I already said at meetings of members of the unions—stoutly stood behind the principle of getting rid of redundant employees by adopting the method of "last man in, first man out."

This agreement has been arrived at between the unions and the companies after years of agitation, aye, and in some cases industrial action, and the Minister may take it from me—and I am speaking for the unions in this matter—that we are not going to allow this section to remain in the Bill if we can get it cut out. The general manager, as I say, proceeded to challenge this procedure. He was told by members of the Board that the policy should be to "sack the duds." Who would be the duds in such circumstances? They would be the members of the staff against whom the departmental head had a grudge. The duds would certainly never be members of the staff who held the membership card of the famous Molesworth Street Club, and they would certainly never be members of the staff who had acted as blacklegs during industrial disputes. We have a few monuments of that kind as a result of the work of managers in the old days, and the unions are not going to allow this procedure to be challenged by an Act of this House, or to allow an agreement of that kind to be smashed. If necessary, I shall give an opportunity to members of the House to put their names on record in the Division Lobby as to whether they stand for this policy or not. Sack the duds! Of course the general manager of the Railway Company, in explaining that particular sub-section to the Minister, did not explain that that was the policy in the past, and that that was the procedure before the unions became strong enough to challenge it. I think there is no fairer method to get rid of redundant employees than to adopt the policy of "last man in, first man out."

I should like the Minister to say what were the grounds which influenced him in turning down the method which his acting Minister stood over during his absence in Ottawa. There seems to be some conflict of opinion, and the only explanation I can suggest is that the Minister accepted this Section 8 from the Railway Company without getting any explanation. I suggest to the Minister that it would not be unfair to ask him whether he sought the opinion of any union leader or secretary before he put that section in the Bill. If he thought it right and fit to consult the general manager and directors of the railway company, surely it would be only right and fair for him to consult some of the union leaders as to what they thought of this particular proposal put forward by the companies? No matter what they thought, we are not going to accept this sub-section in the form in which it now appears in the Bill. I hope the Minister will, if necessary, after seeing the union leaders on the matter, wipe out this sub-section and leave it to the unions and companies to settle matters of this kind. There are one or two other minor matters to which I wish to refer.

What about the next sub-section in Section 8?

What is that?

Sub-section (e).

I am very glad that the Deputy has drawn my attention to that matter, because I think I have a recollection that in this House the Fianna Fáil Party supported a motion put forward at a particular period by me in opposition to, and in favour of the repeal of, the Railways (Existing Officers and Servants) Act, 1926. Consequently I am rather surprised that the present Minister, who supported his own Party in this House at that time, should take cover behind this amending Act which deprived many railwaymen in this country of the compensation which they were promised and to which they were rightly entitled under the original Act of 1924. I see the Attorney-General smiling, because probably he knows the meaning of this particular Act and the rights to which railwaymen were entitled under the original Act. I am sure if he takes any part in this debate he will be able to enlighten his own Minister as to the consequences to many railwaymen of the operation of that particular Act. I am surprised, as I have said, that the Minister has taken cover behind it, and instead of allowing many of the railwaymen, dismissed without compensation, to get compensation by this Act, he is going to arbitration.

Does the Deputy object to the railway arbitrator's judgment under that Act or the reason for that judgment?

I would not give any opinion upon the decision of the arbitrator. I am not sufficiently acquainted with the decisions of the arbitrator, and it is not for me to pass judgment or to say whether the action of the arbitrator was wrong or right.

Then it is all right.

I am not going to be dragged into a discussion across the floor by the ex-Minister for Industry and Commerce upon that point. Coming to the Transport Bill. I cannot understand why the Minister proposes to exempt from the operations of this Act licensed carrying companies who operate within a radius of fifteen miles of the twelve principal cities or towns, because he knows that the cream of the traffic that may come to the railway companies comes to and from areas exempt under this measure.

And is carried only fifteen miles.

I say the cream of the traffic comes from the port towns exempted from the operation of the Bill.

That has nothing to do with it.

The Minister proposes to allow the carrying companies, without imposing the same conditions upon them, as are imposed upon the railway company, to operate within these large areas, and thereby to steal the best portion of the traffic from the railway company.

It is only short-distance traffic.

Why has he fixed 15 miles radius? He gave no reason to the House for fixing that radius. Does he realise that it is not workable between towns like Drogheda and Dundalk? Does he realise the distance that lies between Drogheda and Dundalk? Let him have a look at the map and he will probably, without advice from anybody, revise that portion of his proposal. The Minister yesterday, as quoted by Deputy Norton, already expressed himself as being in favour of the municipal ownership of transport. He said in this House on the 9th December, 1931:

"We are strongly in favour of public ownership of transport services with unified control outside the boundaries of the municipalities. Inside the boundaries of the municipalities we are in favour of municipal ownership of these services."

Can he give any reason why he did not say five miles or ten miles and why he fixed a limit of 15 miles? He knows if and when the railway company begins to operate a road service in that area they will be operating in an area with definite conditions laid down before they receive their licence. They will have to prove to the Minister's satisfaction, before they operate, that they are paying trade union rates, and that their employees are working only for reasonable hours, and they will have to submit their classification of goods to the railway tribunal. Will all these conditions be applied to the companies that will operate only within the 15-mile area? Will the Minister explain why they are not placed on a footing of fair and reasonable competition on reasonable lines? He seems to forget everything he said upon this matter in the last three or four years, and seems to have, consciously or unconsciously, forgotten them since he became Minister. I think the Minister indicated, although I have no actual quotation from his speech to show that he did, that he would reconsider the point laid down in that section of the Bill. I hope he will see, when reconsidering the matter, that if there is to be fair competition within the present industry, and that he cannot see his way to provide for compulsory unification or amalgamation of the railway services under one board of control, that all those who operate outside or inside the 15-mile limit will operate on fair and equitable lines and that the conditions imposed on one will be imposed on the other.

I want the Minister to say, in reply, whether he is satisfied that the definition of existing carriers, as laid down in Section 2 of the Transport Bill, is a hard and fast and fair definition. He is defined as a person who carried on at some time between the 1st July, 1932, and the 8th February, 1933. I ask Deputies to mark the words "at some time." If he is an individual who has been operating within the periods named he will come under the definition and will get a licence under this Bill. Does the Minister realise that that proposes to give the right, under that very loose definition, to any individual who may have carried on for a week or a month, to get a licence, and then hope that some other carrying company will buy him out, thereby getting compensation which under this loose definition I think would be inevitable? I ask him to compare that loose definition, and the probability of persons coming under it getting compensation, with a very clear definition under a section of the Bill which defines the right of employees who lose their position to compensation. There is a very clear and definite section in the Bill that a man must have been continually working for five years before he gets compensation, but in the case of a person who wants the licence all that is required is that he may have operated, at some time, between the 1st July and the 8th February. There is something wrong there which certainly requires to be put right. Among the things that the Minister must do is, he must have due regard, in considering the application for a licence, to the question of wages and hours of those who are to be employed by the carrying company. I hope the Minister will indicate whether it is possible for him to accept an amendment making his own viewpoint upon that matter much more definite. The reason I suggest that is that the House will remember that the Minister, and the Government, gave an assurance last year, that before granting a licence to the passenger omnibus companies the question of reasonable hours and wages would be considered. The Minister has reason to be aware, and so has the President, that that promise was not carried out in the spirit in which it was, I understand, given to the people who made representations on behalf of the trade unions concerned, and his own Department experienced considerable trouble in dealing with people who got licences without having complied with the reasonable labour conditions.

There is another section dealing with compensation to companies which may be bought out on the initiative of an existing carrying company. It makes provision for the appointment of an arbitrator, but there is nothing clear in the Bill laying down the matters that should be referred to by the arbitrator when endeavouring to fix a fair figure for the company that is being bought out. Will the Minister indicate what matters the arbitrator will bear in mind when fixing suitable compensation for the company or carrier that may be bought out under an order issued by himself?

There is another section in which the Minister seeks the authority of the House to appoint the arbitrator. I suggest it would be far better if the appointment of the arbitrator were left to the Chief Justice. The Minister would be well advised to relieve himself of that responsibility by accepting an amendment on the Committee Stage.

Section 57 deals with the question of compensation to employees of existing road-carrying companies who may lose their employment. I think it is right to point out that the provision with regard to the period of continuous service makes me feel that very few of those who are likely to lose their employment may have any expectation of getting compensation. Has the Minister any information to show the number who are likely to get licences and who have been in existence for a period of five years? If a carrying company has not been in existence for five years, and if an individual who may lose his employment because of this measure has not five years' continuous service, he will get no compensation following the loss of his position. Is the Minister prepared to reduce the period in that case? He would be well advised to do so.

I have a pro-railway mentality.

The Minister would be well advised to reduce the period if he wants to make it at all possible for the majority of those who lose employment to get compensation. There is no use in promising compensation to those who, in the majority of cases, will not get it. I hope that in this instance the same condition will not apply as did apply in the case of the railway men whose positions were affected under the various Railway Acts passed since 1924.

There is a defect in the matter of making provision for compensation to employees. In the case of a dispute between an employee, who thinks he is entitled to compensation, and a company, will the Minister indicate what provision is made with regard to a settlement? Is there any provision for the settlement of a dispute of that kind? Will the Minister reconsider the matter with a view to making suitable provision for such an emergency?

This Bill pretends to make provision for the unification under private ownership of all road services in the State. That is merely a pious hope. There is nothing in the Bill to justify the Minister in making that claim, because unification of the road services, if it ever comes about, will come only under the terms of this Bill through proposals put forward by existing carriers for the purchase of other people engaged in the industry. The Minister said yesterday that the unification of the road services operated by the Great Southern Company could be brought about by a stroke of the pen. Will he explain that statement more fully? He said he had no objection to the unification of the road services; he had no objection to the road services being brought, as they should have been long ago, under the direct control of the traffic or general manager of the Great Southern Company. Will he accept an amendment which will compel the road services owned by the Great Southern Railways to be brought under the direct control of the manager of that company?

There is a point in Section 9 regarding the provision for the inspection of commercial lorries by members of the Gárda Síochána. That matter was brought under the notice of the Minister for Local Government by a trade union deputation. Members of this Party and those engaged in the coach building industry have a decided objection to the employment of Gardai for the purpose of inspecting commercial lorries and omnibuses. I am sure the Minister for Justice can tell the Minister that there are very few men skilled in this respect in the service of the Gárda. I do not know that any member of the Gárda, a sergeant, an inspector, a superintendent or even a chief superintendent, would be the right person to employ on work of this kind. If there was a proper man engaged on that work many of the taxis and omnibuses at present plying would have to be repaired or reconstructed or put off the roads altogether.

I have been asked to point out that in connection with Section 8 (d) certain things have happened recently in connection with the Great Southern Railways which would seem to point to the fact that were it not that the management knew this clause was going to be inserted they would not have made certain promotions which were recently carried into effect. I have evidence which can be submitted to the Minister showing where unfair promotions took place, promotions out of keeping with previous procedure. There were certain promotions made by the general manager and the board of directors of the Great Southern Company which would not have taken place and could not be justified were it not for the fact that they knew that this sub-section was going to be inserted. I know of one case in which the secretary of my own organisation made representations as recently as last week. He protested to the general manager against a certain promotion which could never be justified under the agreements which existed between the unions and the company. I suspect it is the insertion of this section which induced the company to proceed upon lines quite contrary to their usual practice.

I have endeavoured to cover most of the important points in the Bill. The only thing I can congratulate the Minister upon is upon having withheld the publication of these two Bills until the results of the last election were announced. I venture to prophesy that if the Minister, as he promised to do, published these Bills before the last general election, he would not have received the enthusiastic reception he is supposed to have received when he was addressing a meeting of railway workers in Inchicore. Would the Minister now have the courage to go out to Inchicore to justify to a meeting of railway men the insertion in a Bill of this kind of Section 8 and support it by the speech he made here last evening?


I hope he will take advantage of that opportunity before the Committee Stage is finished in this House. If he does he will find that he will get a different reception from the railwaymen at Inchicore from what he is supposed to have got when addressing them recently at the General Election. I am not going to criticise the Transport Bill without saying something in the other direction. I admit that the Transport Bill goes some way to regulate some of those people who have been engaged on pirate services on the roads during the past three or four years, and who while operating as road carriers without licence or without control of any kind, have stolen the best part of the traffic from the Railway Company. These people are the real cause of the bankrupt condition in which the railway companies find themselves to-day. I warn the Minister that he should not lightly be a party to the closing down of the branch lines on the Great Southern Railways system, and I advise him, and I think he would be well advised, to agree to the insertion of a protective section in this clause, a section which will enable an inquiry to be held at the expense of the company. The Minister should not, on his own authority and without inquiry, order the closing down of any branch line. There should be a public inquiry first.

A public inquiry for what?

A public inquiry as to the necessity for closing down the line. The Minister yesterday talked about branch lines not paying. Will the Minister tell us what arguments he can give the House in support of that statement? What information has he got? What figures has he in his possession which justify him in saying that a certain number of branch lines could to-day be closed down by him? Has he been supplied with any information or any figures by the Railway Company in support of that assertion? I asked the Minister yesterday had he received any such applications for the closing down of branch lines, and he said "no." Then, how could he have in his possession any facts or figures which would justify him in saying that branch lines should be closed down? Deputy Moore pointed out that if the Tullow branch, in which he is interested, closed down it would be impossible to have a road service run covering the villages and towns served by the Tullow branch railway. The only way in which a branch service can be closed down is by the making of more roads at the expense of the ratepayers. That would have to be done in order to provide the people now served by the branch lines with the same facilities as they have been hitherto served.

I was never opposed, and I could not give any reason for being opposed to bus services and other road services in many areas. I would not oppose a licence being given for the collection and delivery traffic to and from areas not properly served by a railway system. The present management and directors of the Railway Company had no vision when they saw the advent of the motor traffic five or six years ago. That was due to the fact that most of the directors were at that time 65 to 70 years of age, and were unable to see that to-day was anything different from the past, or anything different from the days when they were young, and when they were first appointed on the Board. I do not suggest in any way in making this statement that the hands of the clock should be put back. I do not suggest that the public who want proper transport services, and are entitled to it, should not have it. They want service, and when they do they are entitled to it, but they will have it under the strict control of this House by some body or board appointed by this House.

I believe the Minister himself is one of the most hard-working men in the present Ministry. I believe he is overworked. I also believe he has created a great deal of additional work for himself in connection with tariffs which have been imposed without any justification up to the present time. I suggest to the Minister that he should now relieve himself of the responsibility of personally considering all applications from existing carriers for the renewal of their licences or applications for new licences. The Minister would be well advised to pass that work on to some other body if terms can be agreed on.

When the Minister suggests that Deputies should not be coming to him asking him not to close down branch lines, then it is obvious that he has already made up his mind that there is a case for the closing down of branch lines, and that he does not want to hear the case against their closing down made by any Deputies, even by members of his own Party. I would suggest that the Minister should not take the responsibility for dealing with matters that should not be dealt with by the Minister. I make that suggestion for ordinary reasons, and for the reason that the Minister has other work to do. I hope the Minister will agree to insert the necessary amendments during the Committee Stage, and that he will give reasonable time for the consideration and presentation of these amendments. I hope that some of the suggestions I have made will not be made matters where the members of the different Parties will be tied. If the Minister wants to secure the passage of a better Bill than the one now before the House he will agree to leave these amendments to the free vote of every Party in the House.

The speech that we have just listened to from Deputy Davin, like the speech we listened to last night from the Leader of his Party, calls, I think, for one or two remarks at this particular stage. Deputy Norton blamed all the losses, from which the railways are suffering at the moment, on the capitalistic system. We have been accustomed to hear from Deputy Norton on every occasion when economic questions are before this House statements like that. The Deputy tells us in almost stereotyped speech that the cause of the trouble is the capitalistic system. Then he usually winds up recommending that the capitalistic system should be removed in order to get rid of the trouble. It seems to be a sort of patent medicine dealt out to this House on these occasions by Deputy Norton. Deputy Davin, who has just spoken, is usually a little more cautious. He does not put down the loss suffered by the railways to the same cause at all. He tells us that the troubles arise from the inefficiency of a large number of the directors.

The Deputy suggests, without hesitation, that these directors should be dismissed. I could not help being struck with the fact that when he was dealing in the next breath with the dismissal of the members of trade unions he made the case that they were not to be so summarily dealt with as the unfortunate directors. Their case was to be carefully considered by the Tribunal and every opportunity was to be given to them to see that they got fair play. That is how the trade unions were to be treated. But I did not hear one single word from the Deputy that that same fair play was to be extended to any of the directors notwithstanding the long service that some of them had in the interests of the company. Might I remind the Deputy that what we complain of and what we have heard about our railways here is not at all uncommon in connection with railways all over the world at the moment? As one who has the misfortune to be a shareholder in some of these more distant railways, as well as in our home railways, I can speak with some little authority on the subject. I study occasionally, when I get the time, the balance sheets of these more distant railway companies and I find that the financial conditions are very similar to those which surround our own railway companies. Coming nearer home, one finds that the head of the board of one of the large railway companies in the sister isle is a well-known economist. I am sure that he has brought to bear on that position the ability he is known to possess. Yet, notwithstanding that, we, poor shareholders in that company, are getting no return at the moment on our money.

It is proposed as a means of getting rid of our directors that we should have—Deputy Davin recommends it— postal voting. Doubtless, he is more optimistic about that proposal than I am. I see very little difference between that proposal and the method of election which exists at present. Under the postal system, as I understand, every shareholder would send in on a voting paper the names of those he wished to support. These names would be recorded by the board. Under the existing system, shareholders, if they are desirous, on reading the report, of supporting the board, are asked to send in their proxies. The only difference between the proxy and the postal vote that I can see is that the names of the directors appear on one and that they do not appear on the other. But the principle is the same. If the shareholders are prepared to support the board, they send in their proxies. Under the postal system, if they desire to support individuals, they will send in their signed paper in exactly the same way. I hope that the Deputy will get some advantage from this new proposal which, I take it, emanates from his Party. At all events, I have heard it suggested from that source on previous occasions. Doubtless, they see in it some advantage which is not apparent to the ordinary eye. It appears to me that these two Deputies consider that there is only one class of persons whose interests should be before the minds of the Dáil when a Bill of the importance of this Bill is under consideration. That class consists of the employees of the railway company. I have the greatest sympathy with those employees. There are some 14,000 of them. But when you come to deal with a problem of this kind, the sacrifices must be borne by all. That is usually expressed by saying that there must be "equality of sacrifice." As I understand the position—it has been made fairly clear by the chairman of the company on many occasions—the employees of the Great Southern Railways Company are at the moment in receipt of wages which are 140 per cent. over pre-war level. That statement has been made publicly on several occasions by the chairman of the Great Southern Railways Company and I have not seen it contradicted by anybody. It has been further pointed out that if that figure could be brought down to 100 per cent. over pre-war level, it would be about the same rate of increase as the best paid trades enjoy at the moment. A number of them, I am sorry to say, have a great deal less, but what we look upon as the best paid trades have a wage which shows approximately 100 per cent. increase over pre-war levels. One would think, when we talk of sacrifice, that it would not have been too much for the railway employees to consider, in the interest of the maintenance of their own employment and in the interests of all concerned, how their wage might be brought down to that figure. Incidentally, I may say that the chairman of the company has stated that the economies which would be derived from such a reduction would amount to about £300,000—a very considerable saving. What do we find? We find an absolute refusal on the part of the men to consider any such proposal. In fact, the men who enjoy this wage of 140 per cent. over pre-war level are engaged in a strike because the railway companies have attempted to reduce their wages by something less than 10 per cent. When we talk about sacrifices, let us remember that position.

Now let us consider the other side of the problem. I said that there are 12,000 or 14,000 workmen employed by our railway companies. In Southern Ireland alone, there are 27,000 persons whose money is invested in the company in this area. In many cases, their all is invested in the company. A little while ago, I had a letter from the wife of a well-known resident of this city, who died some years ago. He had saved a sum of £2,000. To make the little income which would accrue from that sum safe, he invested it in the 4 per cent. guaranteed preference stock of the Great Southern Railways Company. That widow continued to receive £80 from that investment up to the end of last year. At its last meeting, the company passed the dividend on that particular stock as well as on others. In other words, it is only paying at the moment on its debentures. What is the plight of that unfortunate woman? Absolutely penniless. And that is the position, I am sorry to say, of hundreds of people in this State at present. In these circumstances, it is only fair to say that there should be some equality of sacrifice. In addition to losing the dividends what have those people lost in the way of capital? In 1925, the capital of the company was valued on the market at £14,000,000. At present, the value of it—though one could not attempt to put any number of shares on the market without depreciating the market very much—is something under £5,000,000. In other words, there has been a loss of £9,000,000 of capital on the part of those 27,000 shareholders in seven years. And Deputy Norton stands up and says those are the people who must bear the burden! All I can say is that if that is the Deputy's idea of fair play to the different interests concerned I leave it with him. I do not think from my knowledge of this House that many will agree with him, either in his words or in his policy.

There will be an opportunity later of discussing many points in connection with the Railways Bill. May I say at this stage that I am exceedingly sorry that the Railways Bill did not precede this Bill? This Bill proposes to put a number of burdens on the motor industry which I will not go into at present. In other words, you are going to add considerably to the expense of the transport industry. Nobody will question that statement who has given even a superficial study to this particular Bill. What is the object of burdening the transport industry at the present time? As the Minister stated yesterday the object is to help the railways. I have studied the Railways Bill very closely and, except the Minister can explain I cannot see that the railways are going to derive any material benefit from the Bill in its present form. My difficulty is this. I am quite satisfied to support this Bill to place these additional burdens on a particular portion of the transport system provided it is going to help the railways and that the railways are going to benefit. But, if I cannot see as a result of these two Bills that the railways are going to benefit, then I cannot see my way to support at all enthusiastically the proposals in this Bill. Probably, however, the Minister, when he comes to deal with the Railways Bill, will be able to show us in it factors that do not appear on the surface. The Minister in his statement yesterday, I am glad to say, was sympathetically disposed towards the railways. That has brought on his head coals of fire from the Labour Party, which is not surprising. I was also glad to hear from Deputy McGilligan yesterday that the Party he represents is sympathetically disposed towards the railways. I am not, therefore, without hope that, as a result of these two expressions of opinion, one from the Minister and the other from an important member of the Opposition, benefit will accrue as a result of this Bill to the railways.

I have heard it stated on many occasions that there is some doubt as to what the railways want. I should like for the purpose of giving the Minister an opportunity of replying to them to reiterate the claims of the railways. The relief which has been asked for by the company is set out very clearly in the statement which they issued recently. The first item they asked for is legislation regulating and controlling freight road traffic by licence and importing a fair allocation of road costs according to user. The Road Transport Bill before us certainly aims at regulating and controlling freight road traffic by licence, but so far the Minister has been absolutely silent on the financial side as to what burdens are to be placed in future on that particular form of traffic towards the maintenance of the roadways.

If the railway companies want to contribute more than they are doing they can contribute direct. They will be the principal operators of road traffic.

I should like to see in the Bill, if I might mention it at this stage, a greater incentive to profit for the railways from running on the railway lines instead of on the roadways. That is one objection to the Railways Bill. I may be wrong, but the only additional revenue that I see for the railway companies under the Railways Bill is to be derived from road traffic and not from railway traffic. The next item in the relief asked for by the company is as follows: Legislation relieving the railways from the following disabilities arising out of the Railways Acts of 1924 and 1932, viz., the financial burden of carrying on lines baronially guaranteed in respect of which the railway company is obliged to carry on and maintain the same at great loss and without any subsidy. How far are the railway companies granted relief in that respect under the Railways Bill? In the Railways Bill the Minister sets out three particular items. Do any of these items include the £45,000?

Or £48,000. This seems like bidding at a junk auction, but we will take the higher figure. That liability——

That was not a liability. That was the amount they received every year from the State.

As I understand the matter the State at the moment carries portion of the baronial liability, but under the Act of 1924 that burden ceases to be carried by the State next year. It was for a period of ten years. The liability falls on the railway company next year. The amount of that liability, I understand, came to £47,000. Is the railway company to carry that burden or is there any proposal in the Railways Bill that would relieve the company from that burden which falls upon it next year?

They paid no dividends at all this year.

We will keep to one stage at a time. Will the Minister answer that question? Is there anything in the Bill that is going to take away that burden of £47,000 which will fall on the railways next year under the Act of 1924? They do not carry it now, but it will fall on them next year. Is there anything that will take it off?

There are a number of sections.

Is it the intention of the Bill——

——that that burden should be removed from the railways?

I would much prefer if I could get that answer definitely from the Minister. Is it the intention of the Bill to relieve the company from that burden?

I do not know how it is a burden on the railway company to receive £48,000.

I quite agree with the Minister that it is not a burden, but if, on the other hand, they become liable for a further sum of £47,000 per annum by reason of these baronial payments——

Liable to whom?

They are carried now by the State, but next year will fall on the railways. Is it intended to relieve them?

To whom is the liability? The liability presumably is to the owners of the preference shares and when they paid no dividends on the preference shares there is no liability. The £48,000 which they receive this year for the payment of dividends on the baronial stock is being used to pay dividends on debentures.

The sum is £47,288. I was nearer to it than the Minister.

I cannot press the Minister further on the point, but I hope he will look into it and deal with it when replying. It is a very serious matter for the railways. The next point I would like to speak of is the financial burden.

I wish I had burdens like that, of £48,000 yearly.

We have burdens enough without adding to them. In his statement the Minister mentioned that the L. & N.W. Company had advanced to the old D. & S.E.R. Company a sum of £100,000, and that attaching to the loan to that company was the right to nominate a director. That right is being taken away under this Bill. Is the loan to which that liability was attached being paid?

Surely a right to nominate a director on the old D. & S.E.R. Company has nothing to do with the question of the right to nominate a director on the Board of the G.S.R. Company.

Will the Minister look up this particular point when that Bill was under discussion?

I do not see why we should give the London, Midland and Scottish the right to nominate a director on the Great Southern Railways in consideration of a loan of £100,000 given to the old Dublin and South Eastern Railway.

When the loan was not paid at the amalgamation and transfer to the Great Southern Railways, the condition attached to it was that they got the right, in view of that contribution, to nominate a director.

Under what Act?

The right is being taken away and the liability is being left. Is that the position?

I say again that I am not aware that the right to nominate a director on the Great Southern Railways was given the London, Midland and Scottish because of a loan given to the Dublin and South Eastern Railway Company.

As I understand it, by reason of the loan to the old Dublin and South Eastern Company, they got the right to nominate a director on that Company. In other words, that right attached to the loan. Is that right being taken away without the loan being repaid?

The Dublin and South Eastern Railway Company has ceased to exist.

It was amalgamated and its liability was taken over by the Great Southern Railways. The Great Southern Railways are responsible for the £100,000. Is the Great Southern Railways paying the £100,000? Does the liability still exist, or is the right that it carried taken away?

I would not attempt to explain the extraordinary considerations that induced the Government of 1924 to give this right to the London, Midland and Scottish, and the reasons they gave to the Dáil had nothing to do with the £100,000 loan.

May I take it that whatever right there was for a director of that company to be on the Board for the last nine years, as a result of the loan, that now this Bill is going to take away the right to nominate a director while the loan still exists?

I would like the Deputy to refresh his memory by reading the speech that was made here by Deputy McGilligan, who was Minister for Industry and Commerce, when introducing the Bill which gave the right to the London, Midland and Scottish.

I remember the incident quite well.

Deputy Mulcahy voted against the Bill.

I do not mind who voted for or against it. That is another matter. What is of importance is that the money was accepted by that company with the condition attached to it. The condition is now being removed by an Act of Parliament, and the money has not been repaid. That is not good business. I would like to ask the Minister another question in connection with this financial burden, the liability for which is being taken away from the railways. Will that loan be paid by the State, or does it become portion of the money that is now in dispute between Great Britain and this country?

We are not trying to widen the issue.

I just want to understand the position on that point. The State accepts liability for the debt to Great Britain, and I take it that will be paid quite irrespective of other circumstances.

We are undertaking no liability to repay that.

If the Government has accepted liability for the loan, which it does not intend to pay, it is possible that the Railway Company may be held to be collateral security and liable.

If I might refresh the Deputy's memory, I have here Act No. 61 of 1924, which conferred on the London, Midland & Scottish Company the right to nominate a director on the company, but there is not a word in it about the loan. There is no word in it about a loan. There is a reference to "certain concessions, allowances and advantages, including special proportions in division of receipts from through passengers and perishable or other traffic," but no word about a loan.

Would the Minister read the preceding paragraph?

What does it say?

The preceding paragraph sets out that the London, Midland and Scottish Company had the right to nominate a director to the Dublin and South Eastern Company.

By virtue?

By virtue of this loan.

Then it is there.

The Deputy seems to have forgotten all about it. He should read his own speeches about that period.

I do not recollect having made one on the subject, but I do recollect the transaction.

And the quite abusive speech he made when, I think it was, Deputy Alfred Byrne suggested that this right should be transferred from the Dublin and South Eastern Company to the amalgamated company.

The Minister admits that there is a debt and admits that there are advantages. Is one of these being enforced and the other being lost?

Neither one nor the other.

Will the Minister confirm that solemnly—that neither the debt will be collected nor the advantages lost?

I will leave the subject where it is at the moment. I think it is in very good hands. The next item I find amongst the reliefs asked for by the railway company is that they should be relieved of obligations to run services on non-paying lines originally constructed out of Government grants and public moneys in respect of which the railway company have received no consideration. I was very glad to hear yesterday the very definite assurance from the Minister that, so far as he is concerned, if a case is put up to him by the railway company that they should be relieved of the burdens of maintaining lines which are uneconomic, he will see that they are carefully considered and, if possible, support will be given to them from his Department. The next item is "obligations for loans made by the British Government to the Constituent Companies prior to amalgamation and in respect of which the Constituent Companies were unable to meet their obligations at amalgamation." We have discussed those already, so I will not take up the time of the House further on them.

Oh, no; those are different loans.

Are there further obligations than those we have mentioned?

The loans we are talking about now are different from the loan given to the Dublin and South Eastern Company.

Yes, there were other obligations besides that. We have spoken of three of which the Government intend to relieve the company. We have spoken of a fourth attaching to which was the appointment of a director. Are there others? The Minister has a Department behind him. I am an individual. If there are others let us know of them. Another point mentioned by the company in their statement is "Restrictions imposed on the Railway Company in respect of rates, fares, conditions of carriage, etc." I have the figures somewhere of the amount of rates which are paid at present by the railway companies. They amount to a fairly considerable sum. Last year, the companies paid £113,400 in rates to local authorities. Those rates went largely towards the maintenance of roadways on which their competitors were to run. Are they to be relieved of that burden of £113,400 in rates in the future? Supposing a number of these branch lines are closed, will they still be subject to rates, in addition to the other liabilities for the maintenance of crossings, bridges and other liabilities on lines which are unproductive? That is a matter which I think the Minister might consider. That amount of £113,400 is a very important sum. The last point they make is in respect of certain repeals and variations of the 1924 and 1932 Acts. The Minister doubtless has had a number of interviews with these directors. He knows what these burdens are that are set out in this particular section, and I should be glad to know from him in his reply how far he is prepared to meet the company.

How far would the Deputy suggest?

I should want, first of all, before I could make any suggestion, to know the particular items that are embodied in this particular proposal. If the Minister will give me those items I should be very glad to study them and to give him my suggestions if they would be of any use to him, but, without the details, I think it would be hopeless for me to attempt to assist the Minister. As I have said, if I were satisfied that this Transport Bill and the Railways Bill would materially benefit the financial position of the country, I should be prepared wholeheartedly to support them. I agree that the maintenance of the railways is essential to the welfare of our State, but the railways cannot be maintained unless the financial position is improved, and improved materially. The Minister has made promises—I will not go back for any number of years—but I have in my hands a statement that was made by the Minister on 9th January last, and when I tell him that I am reading from the report of the "Irish Press" he will not attempt to question it——

Not at all.

Speaking at Clonmel on 9th January, 1933, the Minister gave expression to the following statement when speaking in connection with the railways: "Fianna Fáil faced the situation determined to put it right——"

That is right.

That is what we ask of the Government on behalf of the railways at the moment. We ask for fair play and we ask for nothing more. I presume that that is what the Minister meant and what the Deputies now behind him support him in—that they are determined that the situation shall be put right. The Minister goes on to say:

"Efforts have been made to place the blame for the present state of the railways on the changes of policy effected by the Government. That was not right. In fact last year's passenger receipts showed no decline on the previous year, while the fall in the figures representing the value of goods traffic was more due to the cutting of rates than to any diminution in the value of the goods carried."

The figures given by the Minister yesterday in reply to a Deputy—I forget who the Deputy was who asked the question—showed in the last six months of last year, that is the year 1932, compared with the last six months of the year 1931, a falling off in receipts by the railways from merchandise and livestock of £250,000. The Minister will be able to explain what that is due to. It may not be due in any sense to the policy of the Government, but I question that. The only other portion of the Minister's speech which I would remind the House about is where he goes on to say:

"The principal railway company of this State is not a bankrupt concern. It is going to make for this year all its working expenses, pay its dividends and interests and a lot more besides."

I am afraid I cannot accept that as an accurate report.

I am reading from the "Irish Press" of Monday, 9th January, 1933.

It would be very hard to find the truth in that journal.

It certainly did not get it that time.

Does the Minister contradict it?

That is the first time I heard it contradicted.

"If we are to secure its permanent and successful operation certain steps must be taken. We will not rush in with quack remedies, seeking temporarily to patch up the situation. We drew up our plans, examined them in every detail, and finally got them into shape and incorporated them in a Bill, the Second Stage of which will be taken when the Dáil reassembles."

All I ask of the Minister in conclusion is that he will carry out in this Bill what he said in Clonmel on the 9th January last.

I realise that the Minister had a difficult task in preparing this Bill. I believe he has made an honest effort to help the railways and that the Bill is going to help the railways. I wish to appeal to the Minister to insert a clause in the Bill which would provide compensation and pensions for the unfortunate men who were dismissed from the railway service within the past few years. Those unfortunate men, most of whom have large families, are now existing on the rates and drawing home assistance. Over 100 shop men have been dismissed at Limerick, most of them having from thirty to forty years' service. They were dismissed without any compensation after those long years of faithful service. I sincerely trust and believe that the Minister will accept an amendment when presented to him to deal with this state of affairs and to help the unfortunate railwaymen who were dismissed without any compensation.

I do not approach the consideration of this measure with any great enthusiasm. I am not at all satisfied from having read the Bill—in fact the two Bills—that there is either a complete comprehension of the situation or a real attempt to solve it. Those two measures, or one of them at any rate—the one which has formed the subject of most of the discussion, the Road Transport Bill—stereotypes the present situation. It really leaves things as they have been for the last few years, and whatever deficiencies or weaknesses there were in the transport problem during that period are going to remain. There is no real attempt to correct them. Whatever attempts there are, are so slight as to effect practically no change. When the Minister addressed himself to this subject during the last few years, either as Minister or as a member of the Dáil, he spoke merely as a politician, much in the same way as we have heard speeches from the Labour Party. We are not taken in by the abuse which is going on between the Labour Party and the Fianna Fáil Party over this particular transaction. We know pretty well that adversity has made strange bedfellows, and they are going to remain, however they may quarrel, in the bed. The real situation with regard to the railways has been ignored. In fact, with regard to the transport question, what ought to have concerned the Minister, and what ought to have engaged his attention is what transport is there in this country to be carried, how best and most economically can that be done, and how in all the circumstances ought there to be consideration given to the huge sum of money that has been invested in the Great Southern Railroad and all its branch lines? It was rather amusing if not tragic to listen to the contribution which has come from the Labour Party, not alone to-day but on other occasions, regarding the Act of 1924. Yesterday one member of that Party was speaking in such a way as to attempt to proscribe the Railway Act of 1924,—that it had harnessed on to the Great Southern Railroad all those branch lines, which were dragging it down and making it impossible for it to live. He said a few moments later that he was sure perhaps the very worst clause in all the Acts we had before us, clause 8, ought not to be in operation. What was it? The closing of the branch lines. That is the nonsense the people of this country have had served up to them, by the Labour Party with occasional hear-hears and occasional hurrahs from some of the unfortunate Deputies who have supported them during the last few years. The consideration with regard to this country is what amount of traffic is there in it and how best can it be carried at the cheapest price and with the greatest advantage. In all my journeys around the country there was only one town in which I got a clear appreciation of the advantage of the 1924 Act,—the town of Tralee. There there was not alone consideration of it but almost unanimity on the part of the people with regard to a clear judgment of the Act. They had banded themselves together—shareholders, business people and operatives—with the result that there was practically no lorry traffic going in and out of Tralee. The railroad and the railway terminal were in an economic condition and the business people appreciated the real advantage of the 1924 Act, in so far as business men, —A, B, C, D and so on, each and every one, —paid the same freight and got the same advantage, no man getting anything more than another.

One of the claims the railroad company puts up, and I cannot see how it can possibly be conceded, is the fact that they are competing with people who are entitled to bid almost any price in respect of traffic. When I read about the maximum charges in the Bill I think it is the joke of the whole measure. Nobody is going to charge anything in excess of the maximum charge, because of competition and so on. The trouble as far as the railroad is concerned, from my information, is that they have had to deal with people who are prepared to bid under them, and the railroad, by reason of the clause in the Act of 1924 which protects business and commerce, unable to bid a lower price for traffic, cuts its expenses and gives the advantage to everybody else who is dealing with the railroad company. That is a problem which requires less politics and more business. If we had less politics in connection with the consideration of this matter and a good many other matters we could approach the solution of them with less fencing and less attempts to cajole and mislead the people.

Listening here this evening and last night to one of the Labour speeches, I was satisfied there was very little hope of getting a matter of this sort discussed in this House, or getting from people such as Deputies Norton or Davin real, honest opinions about how things should be conducted.

What is the situation here with regard to these railroad companies at the moment? The Minister's speech in January last, and the Minister's speech yesterday, were a nice contrast. At the one he is speaking to a huge number of people, I expect, each one of whom thinks that he is the rising hope of the Fianna Fáil Party—all the rest of them are duds—and well they might be. I have noticed an entire absence of any Ministerial support in connection with this measure. For a short time he was planked with the President but he escaped as soon as was possible. I do not believe the Ministers could stand an examination of this Bill. If so, the Executive Council has considered this matter very carefully, as we heard yesterday about the equities of the reduction of the railroad stock and so on. I do not believe the Ministers had before them the history of the company, how the ordinary stock holders started, how the preferences were added on, how the four per cent. guaranteed came after them. I do hope that the Minister will give, at least a historical account of that before we reach at least the Committee Stage of the next Bill. What is the situation? Here is a company, and I suppose the Minister, although he gave a half-hearted blessing to the railroad company yesterday, has some interest in it. He represents a constituency in which there are more railroad men living proportionate to the population than in any other district, and even considering he had no interest there, the fact that his constituents are there ought to give him some. What is the situation? Last year the railroad company got something like three millions for receipts, paying debenture stock and paying their ordinary working expenses. What is left over? Forty-four thousand pounds. According to the Minister yesterday necessary renewals had not been carried out in certain portions of the track. According to him during the last few years very much money ought to have been spent upon renewals. If my recollection is correct, I think he went into the neighbourhood of six or eight thousand pounds in that connection. We have from the Labour Party and other members of the Fianna Fáil Party absolute indifference to the rights or privileges of the stockholders or debenture holders. Let us ignore that for the moment. What is the position of this company at the present time? Who owns it? Who has prior charge to-day or prior lien on it? The debenture shareholders, who are usually rich men. Why is it held by rich men? Because it affords a maximum security for the money invested. It is a much higher price, and the consequence is you have to accept a lower dividend. If, and when, there is a further reduction in the receipts of this company, if next year they are unable to pay even the £3 8/- per cent., the Minister proposes to reduce the dividend upon this debenture stock, and if the Minister's advisers tell him that the situation in regard to the railroad track is such that money must be spent on it, who is going to find it? Where is it to come from? Is the State going to put it up? Is this Bill a real attempt at what is called nationalisation by the Labour Party? What is nationalisation? Does it mean that the State is going to come in and accept whatever property there is there to put it into order? Does it mean the State is going to subsidise a concern in order to put people in employment whether or not the results are such as would entitle them to remain there? I think by this time, at any rate, Ministers of State will have abandoned that idea if they have had it.

The position with regard to this railroad company is this, as I see it: They are down this year on the receipts of last year, in eight weeks, something like £57,000. The Minister can contradict that figure if he likes. Taking the eight weeks as a proportion of the year it would mean if it were to go on at that rate that they would be down something like between £350,000 and £400,000. If that goes on for the year then I cannot see where the interest is to be paid on debenture stock, and if we are to take the Minister's statement about the renewals which ought to have taken place and that the work must be done some other time in the future, then I put it to him he must consider the question of the debentures from a different standpoint than in this Bill. Equity—all these nice terms are of no avail if you want to borrow money on something in respect of which there is no return going to come. I would strongly advise an examination of the whole transport problem by, let us say, two officers of his Department, whom he knows as well as I do, with an accountant and an engineer added to them, to present to the Ministry, what, in their opinion, would be the best scheme that ought to be adopted in order to give the people an economic transport system and to get the maximum number of persons employed; to save, if it is possible to save, the money which is being invested in this enormous concern, and to meet the natural and normal requirements of the people.

Listening yesterday and to-day to the talk that is going on from the Labour Party about messing in the railroad company, one might ignore the fact that in practically no country in the world are there prosperous railroads at the present moment. In the most prosperous countries they have been down, unless in recent years. We cannot ignore the fact that an army has come in to attack the receipts of railroad companies and that the receipts of railroad companies have been diminished and that their expenses are practically maintained, and that this Bill is giving no relief in that connection, unless it is accepted by the Ministry that the reduction of 12 per cent. on debenture stock is going to be of advantage. Looking over, as I have said, all the particular regulations that are made in order to prevent, and it is only preventing, not improving, any further attacks in respects of carrying merchandise, there is no other advantage to the railroad company in this connection. In a very short time, if not at the present moment, the railroad company would be unable to acquire any of these companies or of their property. Their cash position is not such as would make that an attractive proposition, and it is not likely to improve. Enormous economies have been made, and the amalgamation scheme, which took place some years ago, enabled economies to be made, and it is all nonsense to talk about five or six or seven monuments that are a heritage of the late Administration. The fact is that people do not bring traffic to the railroads—either merchandise or passengers—and you cannot expect directors to mine gold or silver or copper if the receipts do not come in from the goods, and they cannot be expected to be able to maintain the various employees. A stage may be reached within the next few years if better attempts are not made to deal with the situation, and I do not believe this Bill is sufficient to deal with it, when further inroads will be made on rail employees, and further reductions are almost inevitable in the circumstances. Do you think for a moment, even members of the Labour Party, that it is a pleasure to railway directors to let men go? Do you think that if there has been a change in the transport system or transport agencies of the country that people are disemployed in one direction they are not employed in another? In a publication issued by motorists it is claimed that 100,000 persons are at present employed in motor traffic. I suppose I would be two of those, having two hands employed. The Minister is probably another. They probably doubled the number of cars in order to get the number of persons employed. If five, six or seven thousand men have gone out in railroad transport a considerable addition has been made in the other direction. It is all nonsense to be bringing in that kind of stuff here when the problem that has got to be solved requires sane consideration and a sound judgment in order to effect it.

The Minister's proposals in this connection are utterly and entirely incomplete. The advantages that he offers to the company—to allow it something like £15,000 a year—are negligible. Deputy Norton said last night that if the Ministry had £285,000 to give away there were other people to give it to. It is gone already, and there is no question of the railroad company getting it. It is the interest on the money which the Minister is graciously foregoing. I suppose he realises that in a short time he is not going to get that. I take it from the other portion of the speech that he has made that the position of the company, as Deputy Good pointed out, requires more careful consideration from two angles. I have here the speech of the Chairman of the Great Southern Railways Company in connection with the position of the director who represents the L.M.S. I have before me the Act providing for that appointment. The Act is No. 61 of 1924. The Minister was otherwise engaged at the time that Act was passed, and as he may not have read it I will quote a portion of it for him.

I was very usefully engaged.

At practices which he abandoned very shortly afterwards, making an amendment of his life, as the Scriptures say. This Act to which I have referred provides:

Whereas the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company under and by virtue of the Agreement made the 25th day of February, 1904, between the London and North Western Railway Company of the one part and the Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford Railway Company of the other part scheduled to and confirmed by the London and North Western Railway Act, 1905, is entitled to nominate a person to be a Director of the Dublin and South Eastern Railway Company one of the amalgamating Companies mentioned in the First Schedule to the Railways Act, 1924:

Now there was an agreement. What was it? Was it in connection with the loan of £100,000, and if that particular accommodation were not afforded would the railroad company have been liable for the repayment of that sum of £100,000?

Would they?

I am asking the Minister.

I am asking the Deputy.

I have got the opinion that they would. Has the Minister got a contrary opinion?

The Deputy has got the opinion that they would.

Has the Minister got a contrary opinion? Will he say that they would not?

I do not purport to express an opinion at all.

But this is a matter of very great concern to the railroad company if they are liable. If by reason of the action of the Minister, the railroad company are liable for the sum of £100,000, plus interest, is not that a matter of very grave concern to them?

Surely if they repay the £100,000 they will not have to pay interest.

I did not catch what the Deputy said.

I am suggesting that if a person repays £100,000, then the interest does not have to be paid.

I am afraid the Deputy will require a little instruction on that point.

Not if the money is repaid.

If the money is to be repaid it does not follow that the interest is not chargeable and due.

The Deputy has suggested that they would have to pay back the £100,000 plus interest.

The Deputy knows nothing about this.

I know a good deal.

We do not want any more stupidity in the matter than is there already.

I am glad the Deputy admits it.

This money was borrowed almost 30 years ago, and the interest, I understand, is to run from date—probably compound interest. Does the Deputy understand what that means?

I do well.

We will leave it at that. By reason of that Act and that arrangement the company was relieved of the obligation either to pay the money or pay the interest. The Deputy is not a Minister, though he may have pretensions in that connection.

None whatever.

The Minister is the person responsible. He is standing over this Bill. It makes an alteration in that arrangement which, as I have said, I am advised leaves the railroad company liable for this sum of £100,000 plus interest. I have here before me the statement of the chairman of the Great Southern Railways Company, who dealt with that point at the meeting of the shareholders on Friday last, 3rd March. He is reported in the newspapers on the 4th March to have said:

"The Free State Government of that day, however, for reasons which they fully expounded in the Dáil, passed a special Act in 1924, providing for that London, Midland and Scottish representation, which in their judgment was necessary to conserve most valuable financial advantages.

"The reports of the Ministerial statements in the Dáil leave no doubt as to the weight and importance of the financial considerations which induced the then Government to provide by Statute for this representation. These considerations, so far as I am aware, exist to-day in full, as they did then, and it is naturally a source of serious alarm and apprehension to us to feel that the continuance of very substantial and undoubted financial benefits may be in peril or disappear with the enforced removal of the London, Midland and Scottish representation on our Board."

One of the members of the Labour Party spoke in this debate last night. Listening to him one would think that this was a great national triumph— getting rid of a Britisher on this Board. What is the position of Deputy Davin with regard to that? Has he got any Britisher in the trades union which regulates his business? He is a member of a trades union, that, I understand, has an Englishman guiding its destinies. I wonder if Deputy Davin and his friends think it a great national triumph to come in here and see this thing, which is going to cost us money happening? I understand that the sum of money involved is £100,000, and that there are advantages in connection with through rates amounting to something like £20,000 a year. Are we to throw these things away lightly?

The other item referred to by Deputy Good was that the losses of the railroad company are even greater than £47,288 per annum. They were getting something from the local authorities. It is right to say that we absolved the local authorities some eight years ago of the payment of this sum after 1933 or 1934, but the fact is that the nonpayment of this sum by one year or two is going to be serious for the railroad company. It practically means that they will be without £50,000 worth of receipts after paying the 4 per cent. preference, but that is beside the point. I am concerned with two main things (1) that something like 14,000 persons are employed in the railways at the moment and that their continued employment is a matter of grave concern; (2) that if and when further moneys are required for renewals or for other expenditure in connection with railroad work the writing down of the capital of the company, the reduction in receipts and the further difficulties due to losses in income will be all against any borrowing that may be made. To speak of nationalisation simply means that the national coffers are going to be used as a sort of sieve to make up what might be reasonably expected from commercial or other enterprise. These Bills, to my mind, will not help the situation. Deputy Good mentioned some cases of hardship amongst stockholders. I have heard of many other cases—people who during the last twenty or thirty years, seeking for a safe and national investment and desirous of keeping their money here at home, invested it here at home in the belief that their country would be able to survive the general economic depression and that they would be investing their money well if they put it into this company. Now we see, according to the Minister's statement, that there is very little hope for the ordinary stockholders or for the guaranteed preference or the debentures. The suggestion that I have made regarding an examination of this question might command very much more political support than the Minister thinks. It is agreed, I think, on all sides that the country is entitled to a sound economic transport system. It is agreed, perhaps, that the changes that have been made during the last few years necessitate a different approach to the solution of the problem. There are districts in the country which were not supplied at all with a competent or efficient transport system some eight or ten years ago and those are now served by various transport services. A question which we might consider is: can each and every one of those individual services, individually owned and individually run, afford a livelihood to each of the persons engaged in them, or would a unified system of road and rail transport, fashioned on a sound basis and managed on a central basis, give as good service and, at the same time, give employment to a considerable number of people and secure for the investors that confidence in the business capacity of the company which is desirable in all cases?

Before concluding, I should like to say a few more words. The last six months have been perhaps the worst which the company has known. If the economic war continues, the next six months will perhaps be even worse, and the Ministry might reasonably consider when and how far they can get rid of their politics and get down to business and realise that the best interests of this country are in the expansion and improvement of the agricultural industry and that it cannot bear any taxes on the exports of the country.

I propose not to discuss, in the few sentences I wish to speak, the question of the financial provisions of the Railways Bill, but I want to examine one statement made by the Minister and one statement only. I would like to get to the bottom of it, if I can. That is, the statement in which he said that the policy of the Government in this matter was essentially bound up in the connection between these two Bills. The Transport Bill contains provisions by which the Minister hopes to secure, as I see it, the transfer of the transport of the country largely to one body which, at present, is the railway body. But the method that he indicates for securing that transfer is— and I hope he will correct me if I am wrong—that that company should be enabled to buy up existing interests in other modes of transport. Now, the only way in which I can explain his insistence upon the dependence— the fundamental dependence—of these two Bills upon one another is the following—at least, it would seem to me that this would be the sequence of events that are likely to occur. Whether that was his plan or his reason for thus connecting the two Bills I am not prepared to say, but, as I foresee the future of the matter, it would be this: That if his wish is secured and a unification of the transport modes brought about by the buying out of other interests by the railway company, that would involve a large addition to the capital of that railway company and that, therefore, it would be necessary in the first place to diminish what he believes to be, and what a great many people believe to be, the already excessive capital of that company; and that, therefore, he regards it as necessary to take this other measure, which I regard as an unprecedented measure, for proceeding by force to diminish that capital. The process, therefore, would be that by the Railways Bill we would forcibly cut down the capital of the company. We would give the railway company the power to buy out other existing interests in transport and, if the Minister's object is secured, in order to do that they would have to spend a very considerable sum of money and thus again increase their capital. What guarantee is there, when that has been done, and the company is again brought to the position of having more capital than it can pay dividends on, that another Bill would not follow to again cut down the capital in the method as indicated in the Railways Bill? I want to ask the Minister if that is a likely forecast for the future of the sort of security that is afforded to the railway company in its attempts to secure the capital which would be necessary in order to carry out his own policy? I do not propose to discuss the methods of the Railways Bill at all now, but I hope to reserve that for a later discussion. I do think, however, that it is important to analyse the reasons for what is claimed to be the essential connection between the Transport Bill and what is called the Railways Bill.

I think that the surest indication which we have had yet that these Bills are likely to have the effect that we intend on the transport situation in this country is that, apparently, they please nobody. Most of the Deputies who have addressed themselves to these Bills and who expressed their opinions on them did so from one point of view or the other—either from the point of view of the employees or the owners—and the fact that neither is satisfied is an indication that we are attempting to effect the changes which the situation calls for without regard to the particular sectional interests that are likely to be affected. Another indication which we got from the speeches is that of which the President spoke at one time—I mean that the desire to eat omelettes without being under the painful necessity of breaking eggs still persists in certain parts of this House. A number of people think that it is possible to take out of the present chaotic disorganisation of the transport system an organised, economical system, without prejudicing particular interests, without rubbing certain people the wrong way, and without producing squeals from different sections when injury is inflicted. We have found here a transport problem which is almost insoluble. It may be that these measures will not succeed in solving it. It may be, in fact, that we will have to reconcile ourselves to some transport organisation other than we now contemplate, a transport organisation without railways, or if with railways, railways subsidised out of State funds. Whatever the future holds for us I do not know, but these Bills represent the last attempt that can be made to build an efficient transport organisation on the basis of what is there now. If Deputies are not going to face facts or try to prevent people from facing facts, then they must bear some part of the responsibility for the increased disorganisation that is likely to exist in the future if our efforts to translate that disorganisation into organisation at this stage do not succeed.

What Deputy Cosgrave's speech was intended to do I am not quite sure. Every second sentence of it had a question mark at the end of it. He flung out a series of rhetorical questions and did not attempt to answer one of them. He said these measures were not going to improve the position of the railway company or were not going to solve the transport problem. He expressed the opinion that the 1924 Act was the best possible Act that could be passed and is apparently quite astonished and rather displeased that that Act did not produce the prosperity that it was thought would follow from it. He therefore suggested that we should establish a Committee which would draw up an economic transport system for the country. He put a further series of questions in relation to the directors of the board. However, I do not suppose Deputy Cosgrave had any other idea in mind than to discharge his obligation as Leader of the Opposition in participating in the debate. In any case, I am quite certain he did not intend to get answers to any of the questions he asked. He did not ask them as if he intended to get answers. He was careful to avoid, in the most obvious way possible, having to express an opinion on any of the matters to which he referred.

Will the Minister put any definite question to me now and I shall give a definite answer to him?

I cannot think of any definite question that would arise out of the Deputy's speech. He asked are we going to have railways or are we going to have roads or a combination between railways and roads, and what would be an economic system for the country.

Keep the railroads.

Only? And shut down the roads?

Not necessarily.

Then you will have to have some relation between rail and road transport?

Better than in the Minister's Bill. This is a political Bill.

He has talked about politics within the Dáil. This is a new invention of the Deputy, probably even worse than some of the things he has tried already. We all heard of the slogan, "No politics on local councils," but if we are going to have a Party standing for no politics in the Dáil I do not know what the future of the country is going to be. I would advise the Deputy to look in any standard dictionary at a definition of the word "politics." If he does that and puts that definition in the phrase he used, he will realise how utterly foolish it sounded.

I am very much indebted to Deputy Good for it.

The Deputy never suggested of "no politics in the Dáil"?

No; that was the best joke I heard yet.

I do not, however, intend to deal with generalities at this stage but to deal with the Bill. I understand the arrangement is that although we are discussing both Bills now, we have to dispose of the Road Transport Bill first. We shall then discuss the Railways Bill. I am not quite clear what the position is, but I propose at this stage to deal with the points made affecting the Road Transport Bill and perhaps one or two points dealing with the Railways Bill. We shall then have the Road Transport Bill disposed of. In moving the Second Reading of the Railways Bill I shall deal with the points raised in regard to the railways, and the debate can presumably start all over again.

Would it not be better if the Minister first knew what the arrangement is?

I am telling the Deputy what the arrangement is. I am going to make a speech now. There will be a brief interlude, during which certain things will be put from the Chair, and I will make another start. Then everybody else can make the same speeches all over again that they made to-day and yesterday. The main objection to the Road Transport Bill arises out of the provision about exempted areas. I have not really found that any Party in the Dáil is opposed to the Road Transport Bill as such. We are all agreed that the transportation of merchandise by road should be brought under control and that that control should be exercised by the institution of a licensing system. Some of us are also agreed, at least Labour and the Deputies on this side are agreed, that the same authority that controls the administration of the railroads should also control the administration of these road services. Deputy Davin is not quite sure of that.

I am not quite sure of what you are sure of.

In any case, the main purpose of the Bill is to bring these services under control and to ensure that nobody will be able to start a service for transportation of merchandise by road unless he has a licence to do so and that these licences will be available only, firstly, for those who are running existing services, and, secondly, for those who are running railways, shipping companies or canal services. Deputy Davin took in question our definition of an existing service. If he can produce a better definition we shall be glad to use it. The Deputy will recollect that these Bills were originally introduced in December. We took a period of six months before the date of their introduction in December. The Bills had to be resurrected following the General Election and we took the period between the 1st July and the 8th February and said that anybody who was running a road service between those two dates should be regarded as operating an existing service. A merchandise service is not like a passenger service. A man running a passenger service sends out a bus at 8 a.m. and that bus runs all day, irrespective of the number of passengers he may have to carry. A man running a merchandise service only sends out a lorry if there is in fact to his knowledge merchandise to be carried. Consequently a merchandise carrying service might one day have nothing to do and on other days have more to carry than it could attend to. What we are proposing to do is to ask persons applying for a licence to demonstrate that they were running an existing service during that period—between July of last year and February of this year.

During the whole of the period?

Not for the whole of the period but during any part of the period. We are indicating that those who had an existing service on the 8th February are to be regarded as operating an existing service, even though for the week prior to that or for some days prior to that they might not have been engaged in the carriage of goods at all. The restrictions imposed on these people are quite considerable. It is the fact that these restrictions are there that makes it quite unlikely that any of the developments which Deputy McGilligan foresaw are likely to happen. Deputy McGilligan mentioned that there were roughly, 8,000 lorries in the country and that of these 8,000 lorries some 6,000 were in the hands of private traders. He suggested that the operations of this Bill would induce each one of those traders to apply for a licence as a common carrier. I think that is not so. The number of private traders who at any time use their lorries for the conveyance of goods for hire is very small. One cannot imagine large establishments like Clerys or Switzers, or other of those big firms that have motor lorries for the distribution of their own goods, wanting to become common carriers, subject to all the limitations and restrictions which this Bill would impose upon common carriers and leaving themselves liable to have their business compulsorily acquired.

Deputy Dillon asked what is a common carrier? A common carrier is a person who must carry all goods that he professes to carry. The applicant applying for a licence must set out the goods he wishes to carry, the part of the country that he is going to serve, and he must carry in that area these goods when offered by anybody. He must carry them for reasonable hire and must take due care of them in transport. The railway companies are not common carriers for many classes of goods. A person who gets a licence under this Bill will be a common carrier for all the classes of goods he professes to carry. Out of the 6,000 privately-owned lorries of which Deputy McGilligan has spoken, 5,207 are under two tons. I do not think that anybody is likely to establish a substantial carrying business with lorries of only two tons. There are a number of persons engaged in carrying merchandise for hire on roads as a commercial proposition; there are people who do nothing else. These people are endeavouring to compete on an economic basis. They may not be able, but it would be their desire to carry out their business on an economic basis. In addition to these, there are privately-owned lorries, and these are used mainly for the conveyance and distribution of their owners' goods, but they occasionally take some other person's goods for transport at remarkably low prices, at any prices they can get for them. These people have a depressing effect upon the transport business of the country, both on the railway companies and private carrying companies. The main objection, however, was the exemption of certain areas. The general principle of the Bill is approved, and the question of the application of this principle in detail can be considered later on. I think it will be found that the matter to which the Bill proposes to give effect in principle is satisfactory.

The general principle is not approved.

I am not quite sure where Deputy Davin stands on the matter.

I am sure that if you had carried out your previously declared policy we would approve.

In what respect is it disapproved? However, we will discuss the question of ownership later. That is a separate matter. If the Railway Bill was a nationalisation Bill this Bill would be necessary without the alteration of a word or a line. Deputy Davin is not quite sure whether he is pro-railway or anti-railway. He wants to have a foot in both camps.

He would like to see the railway acquire control over road services, operating them for the benefit of the railways. At the same time he thinks that the restrictions upon certain road companies are too great. He thinks the railway companies should be required to pay more when they acquire the road services. He thinks the clauses, in respect of employees of road companies, are not wide enough. In other words, he suggests a good number of things that might be inserted in this Bill, but would make it a little more difficult for the railway companies to acquire that control over road services that would enable them to fulfil the policy that he advocated earlier. The Deputy ought to be careful not to contradict himself. He cannot face both ways.

Oh yes, he can.

I am prepared to take the Deputy's word for it. I am facing only one way at the moment.

You are quite in agreement with Deputy McGilligan on this matter.

If Deputy McGilligan agrees with me, it means he has one lucid interval, we ought to be glad instead of trying to discourage him.

It is you are coming my way.

I do not think that the objection made by Deputy McGilligan, that the operation of this Bill is going to increase the number of common carriers, will be found to have any weight whatever. Rather, I think the inclination will be that people who occasionally engaged in the carrying business, who own motor lorries but for another purpose, will cease to engage in the carrying business after this Act comes into force.

I shall get back to the objection to the exempted areas. I think there is one amendment necessary, in the Bill, to make it clear that the only services that will be exempt from the operations of the Act are those services carried on exclusively in one exempted area, that is, within a radius of fifteen miles of one of those towns. I admit that as it stands at the present, the section could be interpreted to mean that a service carried on in two areas, where these areas overlap, would be authorised. That is not the intention. The intention is that the provisions of the Act shall not apply to the short distance distribution trade which exists, or may exist, in any of the towns specified there. I do not think that traffic is the slightest use to the railways. I do not think the railways are in the least anxious to get that short distance haulage. So far as I have been able to ascertain from the railway managers, they are quite content if where two exempted areas overlap it would not be possible for a person to run a service in both areas. That was not our intention. Our intention was that the short distant service, which I referred to as suburban service, would not be liable to the conditions and would not be able to get themselves compulsorily acquired by the railway company or some other company did not want them. It is not a question of exemption from the payment of standard rates of wages or standard conditions or matters of that kind. No such conditions enter into it.

I want to ask Deputy Norton, who spoke about the length of time people engaged in public service vehicles have to work on the road, to read the Traffic Bill circulated over a week ago. There is there a section which regulates in a very definite manner the hours of service of those people. Within these areas which we propose should be exempted areas, road transport is performed mainly by local carriers who do not compete with railway haulage. I do not think anybody these days would be likely to send goods by rail over a distance of ten or twelve miles. It seems to us that it would be a waste of time and an unnecessary expense to bring in persons engaged in that short distance haulage and make them subject to the licensing provisions.

Is that true of Bray and Dublin?

I think it would be true. We can consider special cases when we are in Committee. I am not putting forward this exempted area clause as a principle. We are merely anxious to get the most convenient method of administration. The intention is to exclude from the scope of the Bill these short distance carrying companies who serve a useful purpose and do not compete with the railways. They are likely to serve quite a useful purpose in the future, and they can be left there without being subject to licensing provisions and without feeling that any damage is going to be done to the main transport organisation in consequence.

To each of the towns mentioned in the sub-section there is also a regular steamer service, and whereas most of the steamer companies operating these services do themselves undertake a certain road distribution business, they frequently engage these short distance haulage companies. I do not think it is advisable they should be put in a position where they might be required compulsorily to purchase them out. It is true there is a certain discretion retained for the Minister for Industry and Commerce, but there might easily be a public agitation if the Minister failed to use that discretion in order to compel the purchase of these companies.

Deputy Davin is quite clearly misunderstanding the proposals of the Bill when he talks about all the most valuable traffic originating or ending in these exempted areas. That has nothing to do with it. The only services excluded are services entirely within that radius. It has nothing to do with traffic originating in one of these areas and ending outside it or ending in one of these areas and originating outside it. Any person proposing to engage in that sort of transport business would be required to have a licence and would be subject to the proposed restrictions.

On what grounds did the Minister fix the 15 miles limit, and why did he go outside the area of the municipality?

It seemed to us to be a reasonable limit. Of course, if the Deputy is prepared to suggest any other distance let him propose it on the Committee Stage and we will argue the merits of both proposals. It is intended to provide for what might be regarded as the residential area of any town.

Fifteen miles out?

Let us take as an example a 15 miles radius from Ballina.

A matter of that sort could, perhaps, be better discussed on the Committee Stage. Deputy McGilligan asked what good was it going to do a railway company to have men on the pension list instead of on the pay roll. I am not quite clear as to what the Deputy is getting at, unless he is taking the line that the railway company should get control of the road services without paying for them. If the railway company acquires a road service, the acquisition price should include compensation for such of the employees as can prove a reasonable case for compensation. We think five years' continuous service is a reasonable condition to impose when it is a question of compensation for the termination of an appointment. Deputy Davin can bring forward an alternative proposal and we can argue it out. I do not know that there is a case of any Act passed here proposing to give compensation for loss of employment occasioned by a public statute where the period of service is less than five years' duration.

What is the average life of the carrying companies affected? This proposal arises out of a Railway Bill and we are well aware that the railways have been in existence for many years.

Of course the life of the railway is much more than a period of five years. As regards the other carrying companies, I cannot say at the moment what is the average life. I am not standing on five years as a principle. Deputies should bear in mind that the more difficult and costly it is made for the railway company to acquire these public road services, the less likely is it that the Act will speedily result in the way we wish, that is, the bringing of all these services under the same control.

Why confine this question of compensation to the transport business?

Where does the Deputy want it extended to?

When, through Government action, people are knocked out of employment, why would they not be compensated?

Does the Deputy mean people such as ex-Deputies of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party?

Take, for instance, the case of Gallaher's factory. Why not compensate in one case as well as in the other?

We could argue, for instance, the question of compensating a number of people knocked out of employment after the last election.

I am putting a perfectly serious question to the Minister. Why introduce this matter of compensation into the transport business only? The Minister said something about redundancy.

I do not think I used the word in the course of this speech. It has nothing to do with the question. Deputy Norton spoke about the wages conditions. The Bill provides that there may be attached as a condition to any licence that certain wages shall be paid to persons engaged upon the service. The Deputy seemed to imply that was unsatisfactory and said that he was going to move as an amendment that certain standard wages should be paid. What does he mean by that? Is he going to set down the number of pounds, shillings and pence which every person engaged in the transport service is to receive, or will he indicate the nature of the wage with reference to something not under our control? It seems to me the only way you can have supervision exercised in matters of that kind is by giving discretion to the person administering the Act. He and Deputy Davin spoke on this matter as if a similar power exercised under another Act was not exercised. He seemed to indicate that at the moment there are persons operating omnibus services who are not paying fair wages to their workers. If there are such persons, Deputy Norton and Deputy Davin should not keep the information to themselves. We publicly invite it.

You will get it.

We invited it at the time these licences came for renewal last October. Does Deputy Davin know what happened? Does he assert an objection was not made? It is undoubtedly the existence of that provision that has tended to prevent undue wage-cutting being introduced into an industry where competition is very keen. It is where that type of competition exists that the tendency to cut wages unduly operates. That tendency was in that particular trade, and it was checked by that provision in the Act, but I want it proved before it is asserted that the powers given by the Act have not been used as they were intended to be used.

The Minister then granted licences to bus companies who were paying conductors employed by them 17/6 a week. To my knowledge, as a result of the representations made, that wage has been increased to 25/- a week; but that does not get away from the fact that the licences were granted when the low wages were being paid.

The Deputy has to bear in mind that the Act which came into operation last year was operated so that licences were given to all persons who were entitled to and asked for them in July; but these licences came up again for renewal in October. It was in October, after the Act had been in operation for three months, that this question of an objection came into operation. Licences were given to persons entitled to them at the earlier date. That was the date which had been fixed at which these licences would be given. These licences came up for renewal and then it was open to hear objections as to the rate of wages paid or to hear objections on any other grounds. If objections were then made and sustained the licensee would be required to conform to the conditions which would make it possible to renew the licence. I think the best course for me to take now is to conclude on the Road Transport Bill. Most of the things that I have to say relating to the Railways Bill can, I presume, be said immediately the motion for Second Reading is made.

Perhaps the Minister would be good enough to tell the House the definition of "common carrier" which he has indicated to the House he has. Has he any information to give the House on that matter?

Where ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be wise.

I am glad the Deputy has found that out.

Will the Minister make his speech on the Railways Bill now?

Yes. I propose to get the Road Traffic Bill out of the way and then to deal with the Railways Bill. Deputy McGilligan cannot move his amendment until I move my motion.

The Minister will look into the "common carrier" question further, I presume.

Has the Minister any idea as to how many of those propositions with regard to "common carriers" will remain economic propositions after this Bill is passed?

As far as the Great Southern Railways are concerned they have never suggested that there would be any financial difficulty in carrying out the policy of acquisition. In fact, their only difficulty has been in respect of goods services. Until this Bill is passed they could not carry out the policy of acquisition of these services with safety, as a new service might spring up to replace the service which they had bought and paid for. When the Road Transport Bill of 1932 came into operation the difficulty with regard to the acquisition of the bus services was removed and the company were able to carry out successfully the policy of acquiring the competing services, and the railways company has now a monopoly in its own area of the passenger carrying business. They have intimated to me that they are willing to carry out the same policy as regards the goods services. It does not follow from that that every goods service will be acquired or that I will make an order for the acquisition of every goods service in the area. As to the point made that the railways company may not be in the position to do it I want to say that they have never suggested to me that they would not.

Have they looked into that particular question at all? In other words, has this Bill been before them for such time as would enable them to look into the matter?

Deputy Davin alleges that they drafted it themselves.

Take it that a certain business is paying at present with a small margin. The question arises, is it to be bought out. The profits will have set off against them the preliminary charges and compensation, and so on. How much of these profits will then remain?

I do not think many of them will but surely it is to the advantage of the railways company to get control of the transport services in its area.

I hope that the Minister is right when he says that he hopes this will produce a solution of the difficulty.

I asked a question yesterday and the Minister is reported in the "Irish Press" as saying "it is definitely required that the road service owned by the Great Southern Railways Company should be brought under the same management and control as the railway services of the company."

The "Irish Press" report is wrong.

It is wrong?

Question:—"That the Road Transport Bill be read a Second Time"—put and agreed to.
Committee Stage fixed for Wednesday, 22nd March.