I think the only reservation he put on the whole thing was, if any other measure is ever to be introduced it will be a nationalisation measure. He faneied himself as a prophet when he said that. In extension of that argument he said he had the belief that this Bill would do good to the main transport agency of the country. Will it do any less good if the exempted areas are cut out? Will it do more good if they are abolished? That is the test I put to him? The measure is designed to help the chief transport agency of the country. The Minister has the firm belief that it is going to help them and make them a really good transport agency. Will it hinder their becoming a really good transport agency if the exempted areas are cut out? Do you put any further burden on them by allowing them—not necessarily foreing them—to take transport inside those areas? If you simply allow them to operate there, and do not give anybody a preference against them in those areas, will that impede the Minister's desire to put the railway companies into a sound position? Deputy Moore spoke more or less on these points and I want to deal with a few of his arguments in a moment.
I will now turn to another aspect of this matter. There are amendments put down here to which the Minister alludes. Deputies Reidy, Bennett, Lynch and O'Sullivan have down amendments enlarging certain named areas, and Deputy Anthony spoke on that point. Examining the comments that have appeared in the newspapers, to which any of these amendments could be related, I find myself in some difficulty as to what are the reasons behind them. I think it is clear that there is either of two reasons impelling these amendments. One is the idea of preventing undue preference being given to one port as against another. Alternatively, the only reason I can see is the point to which Deputy Moore alluded-I do not know whether he takes a firm stand on it. He said he was not too sure that the community yet knew what was going to happen when this measure came into force, and that it would definitely deprive them of certain services to which they had grown accustomed. It is possible that the people, say, in Cork, are not thinking of undue preference against the port of Cork, but are thinking simply that they have no great belief in the Minister's measure or in the railway company as such, either under this measure or before it, and therefore, they want to have a big area around the City of Cork in which the existing road vehicles will be preserved because they will not be subject to any licensing conditions. If it is the second reason, I think that the House in the main is against it, because I think there has been agreement that, in the main, they want to put the railways into a better position, and they are prepared to impose certain hardships upon road vehicle owners and users rather than let the railways go down. Therefore, I am going to take it that the argument which is behind those amendments is the argument about the port preference. There I find myself in considerable difficulty. There is a section in this measure, Section 13, which is the best endeavour that has been made in this measure to deal with the question of port preference. Of course, the phraseology of it is peculiar:—
"No licensee under a merchandise licence, shall, in carrying on the business authorised by such licence, make or give any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to or in favour of any particular person, trade, industry, district or port, nor subject any particular person, trade, industry, district or port to any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage."
Then there is a provision that there may be an appeal to the Railway Tribunal. That is all right so far as it goes. I think if that phrase were brought to the attention of the Cork and Waterford people they would probably say that the Railway Tribunal may not operate that section properly, or that it may in fact be impossible to get them what they desire. We cannot answer that except by saying that we will do the best we can to give them an impartial tribunal.
There is another situation which has got to be met. In fact, I think, what Cork and Waterford want is not that they should be put on equality with other ports, and that undue preference against their port should be prohibited, but that they should be preserved in their present position, which, in my opinion, is one of preference. I think that is what they want. If they want that, Section 13 does not meet it. I do not know if the Minister has considered this particular question—which is one of the most difficult to meet in the whole matter—from that angle. The section undoubtedly does not meet that point. If it is true that Waterford at the moment has a particular preferential situation, Section 13 will immediately destroy that, because the whole object of Section 13 is to put all ports on an equal basis, relative to the surrounding areas.