Road Transport Bill, 1933—Committee.

Debate resumed on amendment 46.
Before section 14 to insert a new section as follows:—
(1) The wages paid by the holder of any merchandise licence to persons employed by him in the operation of his business of merchandise road transport and the conditions of their employment shall not be less favourable to them than the wages and conditions generally recognised by trade unions and employers as the wages and conditions applicable to employees in the business of merchandise road transport.
(2) Any trade union representative of persons engaged in merchandise road transport may make representations to the Minister to the effect that the wages paid to, or the conditions of employment of, any persons employed by the holder of any merchandise licence are not in accordance with the requirements of the preceding sub-section, and the Minister shall, after a review of the facts, take such action thereon as he may deem appropriate, including the revocation of such merchandise licence.

The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that if we are going to have some kind of State control and regulation in the matter of road transport it is desirable that fair conditions of labour and fair rates of wages should be paid and recognised in the transport industry. Under this Road Transport Bill licence holders are given certain statutory rights which they formerly did not get. The State has come in now and is issuing licences to people in the road transport industry and giving these people certain rights which they never had before. It is desirable, therefore, to see that if the State is going to interfere by control or regulation in road transport something should be done to protect the interest of the operatives engaged in that industry.

This amendment seeks to make it obligatory under penalty for individual licence holders to comply with the rates of wages generally accepted in the industry for the other people engaged in that industry. The object of the amendment is to ensure fair conditions of employment and to the extent to which it will do that it will ensure that the employer who is paying a fair rate of wages and giving fair conditions of employment is not driven out of business by reason of the activities of another employer who is paying cheap wages and is not observing fair conditions of labour. The amendment seeks to eliminate the inequalities which will be bound to arise if there is not general control in the matter of wages. It is obviously the kind of amendment which will commend itself to the Dáil. I feel that an amendment of this kind will be acceptable to the bulk of the people in this business so as to ensure that such employer as I have referred to has not an unfair advantage over his colleagues in the industry.

The principle of the amendment is not new. It has already been accepted by the Government in the Cereals Bill and in the Housing Act of 1932. I hope the Minister will agree to accept the amendment as its provisions are similar to the provisions in the Housing Act, 1932, and of the Cereals Bill.

I do not think that it is necessary that we should discuss this amendment at length as we discussed the idea of regulating wages in this manner at considerable length when the Bill was before us on Thursday last. There is no divergence between the object which Deputy Norton wishes to secure and that which the Bill aims to achieve. Any difference is merely in the matter of machinery. The Deputy says the purpose of his amendment is to ensure that fair wages and conditions of employment will prevail in the road transport industry. The Bill provides for that already. The powers conferred upon the Minister for Industry and Commerce under Section 14 will be used definitely to that end. In fact I can say that the manner in which these powers would be utilised would be to give effect to what is embodied in sub-section (1) of the Deputy's amendment, that is, to ensure that the rates of wages and the conditions of employment operating in respect of any licensed service will not be less favourable to the employee than those generally recognised by trades unions and employers in the business as a whole. I am satisfied that the machinery proposed by the Bill is much more likely to achieve the aim which the Deputy has in mind with less amount of dislocation than his amendment would achieve it. I again advert to the experience of those engaged in the road transport industry as to the manner in which the powers under the Road Transport Act of 1932 have been exercised. The Bill and the amendment are both trying to achieve the same thing. I am still convinced from my experience of the Road Transport Act, 1932, and for other reasons that the proposal in the Bill is infinitely better than what is in the amendment.

Does the Minister realise that Section 14 set out in the Bill itself gives power to the Minister for Industry and Commerce to do what he likes? The Minister may take a favourable view of the conditions which operate. But to that extent there is a very big gap between what is in Section 14 and what is sought by the amendment to be inserted in the Bill. Section 14 depends upon the view that any Minister may take of the matter. Amendment 46 is designed to make sure that the Minister will see that the holders of a merchandise road transport licence will be compelled to observe the trade union conditions. I think there is a very big gap between the possible intentions of the Minister as set out in Section 14 and the very definite provisions which it is sought by the amendment to have observed.

The Minister has already accepted in principle, and in somewhat similar language, in the Cereals Bill a similar amendment, and also in connection with the Housing Act of 1932. If it was desirable to have a very definite amendment on these lines inserted in the Cereals Bill and in the Housing Act of 1932, I cannot understand how the Minister contends that it is not desirable to have this amendment inserted in the Road Transport Bill. I am not satisfied to take the Minister's intention, as indicated in the House, in relation to Section 14. I think it is too weak, too loose, and depends all the time on what the Minister's views on decent wages and decent conditions are. So far as I can ensure, I am not going to trust any Minister in any Party to be the sole arbitrator in the matter of decent wages and decent conditions. I want to have this amendment accepted, so as to oblige merchandise licence holders to pay trade union rate of wages and to observe trade union conditions. It imposes no burden upon them, because they are only asked to accept rates of wages which are generally recognised by trade unions and by employers in the road transport industry. I think the Minister might reconsider the matter, and do in relation to this Bill what has been already done in the Cereals Bill and in the Housing Act of 1932. There is no difference in principle.

The point at issue shortly, is whether trade unions shall boss the State, or whether the State shall boss trade unions. Broadly speaking, I think that the State should boss the trade unions. This House is perfectly capable of calling the Minister to a recognition of the propriety of the case if he errs in any particular instance. This House is likely always to be a democratic House, and I do not see that there is any reason to fear that the Government, which is dependent upon democratic favour in this country, will err in the direction that Deputy Norton fears. I appeal to the Minister not to weaken in his attitude.

I wish to support the amendment moved by Deputy Norton. I am strengthened in my views after having heard the opinions expressed by Deputy MacDermot. I feel sure that that opinion will have some effect on the opinions that have been expressed.

What opinions?

The opinions so often expressed by those who would like to see the trade unions crushed, and who take every opportunity to decry the efforts of trade unionists to better the conditions of their fellow members. I agree with Deputy Norton that the amendment gives the Minister arbitrary powers. It might be that the present Minister is sympathetic to the claims of those persons who will be engaged in the transport services, but as the Section stands it reads:

Whenever the Minister grants a merchandise licence he may attach to such licence such conditions as he shall think proper.

In my view, that gives to any one Minister too much power. I know that there is a body in existence in the railway industry which, to some extent, regularises the wages paid to the various grades of railwaymen. I am wondering if the Minister could see his way—and I am making the suggestion without having discussed the matter with the Labour Party—to have a body on the same lines as the Railway Tribunal on which both sides would be represented, namely the people primarily responsible for the transport system and the operatives. If that was done I feel that it might usefully perform the functions suggested by Deputy Norton's amendment. I am throwing out the suggestion for what it is worth. I know that the Railway Tribunal has its imperfections and limitations, but it enables persons with grievances to appear before it and discuss these grievances.

The statement made by Deputy MacDermot that this is an attempt on the part of trade unions to boss the State is on a par with, and is as correct as the statement made recently by the Deputy at Enniscorthy, that Labour candidates at the last election were financed by British unions. The Deputy should not jump at conclusions of that kind without recognising their weakness and the comparative weakness of the Labour Party in the House in relation to the present Government. The Minister is wrong when he says that the difference between what is in the amendment and what is in the section is merely a question of machinery. That is not so. The difference between us is very little and if the Minister reads the amendment carefully he will see that. When application is made for a licence the question is that the Minister should have reference to the matters mentioned in the amendment. No watertight regulations are being applied for here in the way that the Minister claimed they were put forward in a previous amendment. The Minister then said he pretty well agreed with us except on the word "maximum." Let the Minister read Deputy Norton's amendment carefully and tell the House what sentence or word he objects to. Is it not fair, when considering applications for licences, that he should have some regard to the wages and to the conditions of work in every section of the road transport industry? Is there anything objectionable in asking that, or, so far as the Minister is concerned, in allowing the trade unions to make representations which would enable him to have the full facts and to say whether a licence should be revoked or not.

Can the Minister not do that anyway?

He will be obliged to do so if he accepts the amendment. He could do a good deal less under the section as drafted. I would like to hear what are the words to which the Minister takes such strong objection.

My objection is to impose upon an industry, which is at the present time entirely unorganised, and in relation to which we have very little information of a definite character of the conditions prevailing, something about which we have equally indefinite information. We want to know what we are doing. I say to the Deputy that we are taking power in the Bill to impose conditions on which licences shall be granted, as to the conditions of employment which should operate, and that we will use those powers in the manner that similar powers under the Road Transport Bill of 1932 are operated. In relation to that Act, not merely were those concerned permitted to make representations, but they were invited to do so. On every occasion on which representations were made by them the conditions to which they related were fully examined with the result that we have been able to effect improved conditions in the passenger road transport business. But the conditions are not uniform. The unions themselves have agreed to different rates and different conditions in respect of services where different circumstances operate. It is precisely to allow for that elasticity, that mutual arrangement, having regard to the difficulties of the situation and to secure a general levelling up without serious dislocation that the machinery in the Bill is designed. That machinery can operate to that end, whereas we have no pledge of what would happen if Deputy Norton's amendment was passed. If clear knowledge existed it would not make much difference. I still say that the machinery envisaged by the Bill is far preferable, in so far as it permits of each case being considered on its merits, having regard to the circumstances existing, and in consultation with the representatives of the unions and with those holding licences. If the Deputy can say that similar powers given by the Act of 1932 were not operated to achieve the aim he has in view, I will admit that there is some weight in his argument. That is why I think that the Bill should be allowed to go through as it stands as it embodies far more effective machinery than Deputy Norton proposes. On the point made by Deputy Anthony, I would like him to put that to the unions responsible, and ask them whether they would or would not prefer the machinery in the Bill to the establishment of machinery analogous to the Railway Wages Board; whether they would prefer to have it as a definite condition, enforceable by law, that certain wages and certain conditions of employment should operate, or to have merely a Railway Wages Board, the findings of which are not binding upon anybody.

I can appreciate the Minister's difficulty but when he mentions a flat rate I do not know whether it would be acceptable to the Labour Party or not. I have not discussed it with them. The Minister speaks of a flat rate; it is a common practice in many unions to recognise that there are such things as district rates.

I was not talking about district rates.

The Minister used the words "flat rate."

It may ease the difficulty that the Minister appears to experience if one or two words were inserted——

"Flat rate" is what the Minister said.

But the unions do not recognise a flat rate; in fact they have negotiated agreements involving varying rates in the same district. I am suggesting that there may be a way out of this apparent impasse. The Minister appears to make an attempt, at any rate, to be fair to the employees in this particular industry. The bogey that he is conjuring up in his own mind is the bogey of the flat rate; in other words, that the rate that would apply in the City of Dublin should apply also in the town of Ballina. My experience goes to show that the unions catering for the transport industry are always very willing to meet either the Minister or a body set up for the purpose of securing proper rates of wages in certain districts. It is a common practice in many unions to have varying rates. If that is the only thing the Minister has in his mind I feel sure that Deputy Norton will alter his amendment to meet that point.

I do not know whether the Minister has read the amendment, but its clear purpose is that the wages and conditions of employment shall not be less favourable to them—that is the persons employed in the merchandise road transport business—"than the wages and conditions generally recognised by trade unions and employers as the wages and conditions applicable to employees in the business of merchandise road transport."

What are they?

Whatever are agreed upon.

I suggest that the Deputy should try to find out what they are. He will then have a better appreciation of the difficulty.

I know a good deal about the matter. It would be well if the Minister knew as much. This amendment seeks to make applicable to licensed holders whatever rates are recognised by trade unions on the one hand and the employers of the district on the other hand. If the employers and the unions meet together and agree upon geographical rates, or agree on rates determined by the size of the lorry or the distance to be traversed, all these separate sub-agreements as it were can be applicable to anybody else in the industry under conditions similar to those agreed upon. If the trade unions and the employers meet and say that there shall be five rates of wages, based upon area or upon distance or time occupied in travelling, then there is nothing to prevent that agreement being made applicable to other licensed holders in the industry, each of them finding the different category under which he would fall. If there was a flat rate agreed upon by employers in the industry it would apply under this amendment; if there was a varying rate, based on district rates, it would apply under this amendment; if there was a rate based upon distance travelled, or time occupied in travelling, it would apply under this amendment. There is no question whatever of making it obligatory to pay a flat rate. The only issue involved is that if the trade unions on the one hand and the employers on the other hand agree to certain rates of wages or certain conditions of employment they should be made applicable to the people in the industry.

I just want to point out that that has not been found possible in relation to the omnibus business; that in fact the trade unions have negotiated separate agreements with each separate employer, and that they did not try to get uniform rates.

They did not try?

They did not try. They were quite satisfied to permit all the circumstances of each undertaking to be examined separately, and an agreement arrived at designed to secure the best conditions possible for their members in all the circumstances. The same thing will apply to the road transport business. It is because of our knowledge of the manner in which the powers under the 1932 Act were operated, and the difficulties we encountered, that I must resist the amendment in Deputy Norton's name. The proposal in the Bill is much more likely to achieve, and achieve speedily, the end Deputy Norton has in mind.

The Minister is trying, I think, to mislead the House. I will not say he is deliberately trying to do so, but he wants the members to believe that everything is going lovely and working smoothly in relation to the Transport Act of 1932. That is not so, and the Minister knows it quite well. I know for a fact that the Minister has been in constant consultation with political friends of his in connection with the drafting of this Bill.

That statement is not true.

And very likely some of his political friends can boast that this is their Bill.

They would have no justification for it.

Who are they?

The people who tried to get an economic road transport service. Deputy Moore knows them very well.

I know nothing whatever about them.

The Minister says nobody has any clear knowledge of the conditions existing in the road transport service. Did he not meet representatives of the Road Transport Federation, accompanied on one or two occasions by Deputy Seamus Moore? Does he deny that there are people engaged in the road transport service who pay a wage of £1 a week to the drivers of lorries? Does he not admit that it is part of the duty of members of certain sections of his Department to find out whether that is true or not?

It is not part of their duty. We have no power of regulation or control in connection with the road merchandise transport business. We will have, if this Bill becomes law.

Is it not part of their duty to see that regular returns of bus services operating in the Free State under the 1932 Act are rendered to the Department?

The Deputy is confusing this matter with omnibus services. In relation to omnibus services we have full information, and the Deputy's information is not correct. If the Deputy has information that a wage of £1 a week is paid to drivers why has he kept it to himself? When asked, through the Press to come forward, why did he not do so?

I am suggesting that the Minister is wrong in attempting to persuade members of the House that everything is working smoothly in regard to the Act of 1932.

The Act has been worked to the satisfaction of the unions concerned.

It has not.

If the Minister will go outside Leinster House, and take a bus to Westland Row, he will find that the bus is operated without a ticket being given to the person who pays a fare. I suggest in such a state of affars that the conditions laid down under the 1932 Act are not being adhered to.

The Deputy has been keeping some information to himself.

The Minister has a staff under his control whose duty it is to find out whether what I say is correct or not. How can such people, who do not issue tickets to passengers, render a proper return for the information of the Minister? These are the people who come along and tell the Minister, on faked returns, that the bus companies are bankrupt in the Free State. The Minister used the words that he has no clear knowledge of the existing conditions in the road transport service.

Merchandise service.

Why does the Minister come to the House with this proposal if he has not a clear knowledge, even a rough and ready knowledge, of the conditions that operate in the road transport service? Is he satisfied that this section of the Bill, as drafted, will enable him to administer the Bill fairly and impartially? The Minister suggested that this amendment purported to seek a flat rate for all those engaged in road transport over the country. But the Minister must know well that in every area in the Free State there is no such thing even as a flat rate for railwaymen. Is he aware that, here in the City of Dublin, different rates prevail for railway porters—goods and passenger porters? It is not fair for the Minister to suggest that this amendment purports to set up a flat rate for the road transport service because the unions have not insisted on that, and for very good reasons. The Minister should argue against the amendment on its merits, and I suggest that he should not have used some of the language he did in opposing it. In fact I do not think he properly understands the amendment, because otherwise he would accept it.

I just want to refer to Deputy Davin's remark about the political friends of the Minister in connection with the drafting of this Bill, and to his association of my name with that remark. I want to tell the Deputy that I have no earthly interest in any association or society or in any organisation that is in the smallest way affected by this Bill. The Deputy referred to a deputation having been received by the Minister, but that deputation, I would remind him, was received after the Bill had been circulated. Is it not usual for deputations to be received frequently in connection with measures to which they are opposed?

What, then, is the meaning of the Deputy's remark, and of his other statement that this is a Bill to please the political friends of the Minister?

I say that it is not right for the Minister having received a deputation of that kind, to come to the House and in opposing an amendment of this nature say that he has no knowledge of the existing conditions.

I do not think that adds much to the Deputy's previous statement. The people who went on that deputation and were received by the Minister were people who believed that their business was being ruined and their livelihood taken away. So far as my going with the deputation is concerned, I was asked about two hours before it took place, in the most informal way, to join the deputation, but I want to make it clear that I have nothing whatever to do with the Transport Federation. It was as an act of courtesy that I went with the deputation. As a matter of fact, I went with the deputation not at the request of any member of that body, but at the request of the solicitor acting for that body. I suggest to Deputy Davin that he should be more careful in making statements of that kind, statements that apparently are intended to be a reflection on the character of Deputies of the House. The Deputy, I think, could not have made a more direct statement with regard to political wire-pulling than he did. His statement was much more than an insinuation that there was wire-pulling. If there was wire-pulling going on, I know nothing about it.

I never made any such insinuation against the Deputy. I suggest to the Federation and to Deputy Moore that, if they were not able to give the Minister better information about the existing conditions in connection with road transport services they should not go to the Minister on a deputation again. I suggest to Deputy Moore that he should not go there again with a deputation of that kind.

These things did not arise at all. I am not going to go over all that happened. The deputation discussed the general provisions of the Bill. I am afraid that though Deputy Davin talks of the Minister not having proper information the Deputy's own information is not always too reliable. The Deputy referred to bus companies not issuing tickets in every case to passengers. I can speak of the bus companies operating in the district where I live and that pass Leinster House gate. My experience of them has been this, that the bus conductor never allows a passenger to leave without issuing a ticket. In fact, in a rush, I have seen them push tickets after passengers when leaving the car.

I would not suggest anything wrong about Deputy Moore's way.

I want Deputy Davin to give me some information with regard to one thing he said. He said that there were some people outside this House claiming that this was their Bill, I would like to know who they are because, as far as I can discover, there is no one who has expressed satisfaction with the Bill. Apparently, there are some people pleased with it, people who are anxious to be associated with its authorship. I would like to know who they are.

I can give the name of a gentleman who, at a recent meeting of the Road Transport Federation at which a resolution was brought forward protesting against the terms of the Bill said: "Keep up the protest and we will get better terms."

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá 14; Níl 75.

  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Davin, William.
  • Davitt, Robert Emmet.
  • Dolan, James Nicholas.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Keating, John.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Norton, William.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Cooney, Eamonn.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Doherty, Joseph.
  • Donnelly, Eamon.
  • Dowdall, Thomas P.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hales, Thomas.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Kent, William Rice.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • MacDermot, Frank.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Connor, Batt.
  • O'Dowd, Patrick.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Kelly, Seán Thomas.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C. (Dr.).
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Corish and Keyes; Níl: Deputies Little and Traynor.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment 47:—

In line 21, before the word "conditions," to insert the words "of the prescribed."

The object of this amendment is to limit the Minister's powers with regard to these conditions which he may attach to a licence, but to limit his powers only to the extent set out in a later amendment. It only limits whatever the Minister may do in addition to prescribing.

I do not think we could accept this amendment. I think it is necessary to have power to impose conditions that will have relation to all the numerous circumstances that may arise. In my opinion, these conditions could not be prescribed. The Deputy himself, when he was Minister, had the same difficulty in the Road Transport Act of 1932, and this is a transcript from that Act. The Deputy found the circumstances were so numerous and so difficult to foresee that the conditions could not possibly be prescribed in advance. Whatever difficulties would apply in that case would apply equally here.

The Minister has got to prescribe them in advance for himself, because he has to attach them to the licence?

Very well, then; if it is possible to do that, it is equally possible to put them before this House. The Minister's power to impose conditions is not held up in any way by putting them before the House. The only thing is that the House has information given to it in regard to them. They can be changed at any time. The Minister can amend them. Whatever he can do, he can do with this amendment in, with the simple addition that he puts these changes or amendments before this House. That is the whole point. There is no argument in what the Minister has just said—that it is impossible to think out all these things beforehand. He may not think of them all at first, but he may think of something else afterwards, and this only means that he should put these before the House also. Unless he is going to attach conditions after the licence is granted the amendment is quite as easy. It means transferring them from the licence to an ordinary Order Sheet of this House and putting them to the House.

I call the attention of the Labour Party to this amendment I have down because it will ensure that whatever the Minister is going to think proper, with regard to wages and conditions of employment, will be notified to the House before these conditions come into operation and, therefore, I think it is a valuable check to have on the Minister's ideas with regard to reasonable conditions of employment and wages.

Will the Deputy now state why he did not put in the word "prescribed" when drafting the corresponding section of the Road Transport Act, 1932?

I was not questioned on it, to start with.

It did not occur to him?

It might have but I might have had reasons which I was not asked to give. If the Minister is going to take it as a set rule that he adopts whatever is laid down in previous legislation, we will accept it if it is worked universally, but not if he is allowed to choose here and there.

The reason why the word "prescribed" is not there is because it would be completely impossible to foresee the conditions that might have to be attached to a licence.

But you are going to foresee them before you give the licence.

Very good, then. Bring them before the House.

And a new condition might arise after the licence had been given and the conditions would be changed.

And they can be announced then as a change.

It involves all the formality of laying them on the Table of the House, before the licence can be issued or the conditions attached.

Let the Minister confine his observations to the point of accuracy. Merely putting it on the Table of the House; refusing to operate a licence until the conditions are passed and merely giving notice——

It means drafting the order.

What I have said, I think, is accurate. The Minister is going to have attached certain conditions. He gets those drafted for the licence and gets a second copy made and brings it into the House. That is the beginning and end of the amendment.

No, there is a lot more than that in it.

What else is there in it?

I do not quite follow the technical phrase "of the prescribed conditions." Does it simply mean that if the Minister proposes under Section 15——

Section 14.

No, Section 15. Does it mean that if the Minister proposes to add to an existing licence he lays the order on the Table? If the Minister for Industry and Commerce notifies the Dolphin's Barn Transport Company that they may not carry pigs' heads on the Dolphin's Barn route, is that condition to be specifically laid on the Table? Is that the meaning of this —that every condition made in respect of every licence must be notified to the House singly?

Except that it refers to Section 14.

The Deputy will observe that under sub-section (1) of Section 15, the Minister has the right, during the currency of the licence, to amend, add to, or take away from any condition that was in the original licence, and put in new conditions?

But not to lay them on the Table.

What I am asking the Deputy to explain is whether his amendment means that every individual amendment, subtraction from or addition to existing conditions in a licence are to be laid on the Table in the form of a State paper?

I had hoped so, but the amendment is actually deficient in that respect. It does not carry that out.

Does the amendment mean that, where a new licence is being issued, the conditions attaching to that licence and to each individual licence shall be laid on the Table as a State paper, or does it mean that the Minister will set out a whole series of conditions which he may or may not apply to a licence, and then say to a licensee: "You are subject to conditions 1, 7, 12 and 15 as laid on the Table in the schedule of conditions"? I do not quite understand what the words "of the prescribed conditions" mean. I do not know whether they mean that each set of conditions which attach to each licence is to be laid on the Table or whether the Minister may not prescribe a condition that he has not already incorporated in a State paper which has been laid on the Table.

In case of any misunderstanding, I should like to point out that there will be no secrecy about the conditions. There is a provision in this Bill for the preparation of a register of licences which may be inspected. There is no similar provision in the Road Transport Act of 1932.

With all the conditions?

Yes; and any interested party can ascertain what are the conditions attaching to any licence.

In answer to Deputy Dillon, I should say that, in fact, to carry out the intention, I should move to insert the word "prescribed," but the amendment I have moved is attached to a later amendment, amendment 93, I think it is, which necessitates regulations being published in the Iris Oifigiúil and being laid before the House. All I want is that, taking them in relation to the section to which they are moved, in relation to the conditions which the Minister may attach to a licence and, in particular, with regard to wages and conditions of employment, these should be notified by simply being laid on the Table, as we understand that phrase. The Minister objects to that because he says it means terrific trouble, but I say that it only means taking a second copy. He is going to attach conditions to a licence—very good; duplicate it and bring it before the House. That is the simplest notification that one can ask him to give.

If that was the effect of the amendment I should strongly support it. I am strongly in favour of that procedure but I doubt if it would be the effect of it, because the section would read, if the amendment were put in:

The Minister may attach to such licence such of the prescribed conditions as he shall think proper.

Suppose the Minister prescribes a particular condition for the Terenure Transport Company. That does not come within the scope of this Bill until it has been laid on the Table and, if it has been laid on the Table, does it become a prescribed condition for every other company or will it have to be laid on the Table every time the Minister proposes to apply it to any other carrying company? If this amendment simply means that, when the Minister makes an individual regulation, he is constrained to act in accordance with amendment 93, I support it but as to whether it has a wider meaning which might give rise to difficulties in regard to his special regulation being binding, owing to the definition "prescribed," I am doubtful. Can the Deputy assure us, from his experience, that this form, "of the prescribed conditions," will be met by his amendment 93?

I think so but, after what Deputy Dillon has said, I am inclined to agree that the amendment would better have been phrased as "such prescribed conditions" leaving out the words "of the". I am taking the Deputy's interpretation of the amendment that the Minister must first prescribe a general set of conditions, and that he can then attach any of these to a licence, but that he cannot attach anything to a licence except it is in the general conditions prescribed. That was not the intention. The intention was that, whenever the Minister attaches any condition to a licence, he shall specify it and prescribe it and, by a later amendment of mine, regulations would necessitate the bringing of it before the House. That was the intention, but the amendment does not exactly meet that point.

Does the Deputy contemplate drafting a fresh amendment that will meet that point for Report Stage?

Is that quite definite?

I want to say that an amendment of that kind could not be accepted. It would impose conditions of working under the Act which would be intolerable.

For precisely the same reason that the Deputy did not impose them himself.

It was not because they would be intolerable.

Surely the Minister will do us the courtesy of communicating his reasons for objecting to this procedure, and not simply lean across to Deputy McGilligan and say: "Because you did not do it, I am not doing it." If he makes a regulation constraining a transport company, it imposes no hardship whatever on him to send a carbon copy up to the printers and get it through the usual procedure to have it laid on the Table of the House as a State paper. There is virtually no difficulty involved.

The Deputy knows nothing whatever about it.

I know a good deal about it. I am well aware it involves the technical possibility of being revoked in 21 days, but has the Minister ever known such regulations to be revoked in 21 days in his experience? Amendment No. 93, which is consequent on this amendment, provides that the regulations may well operate at the moment that they are made. Even if they are revoked in 21 days it indemnifies the Minister and the carrier for anything done under such regulations. It is a kind of limitation that the Minister himself often defined when he was in opposition. It cannot possibly involve him in any inconvenience whatever, if accepted in the revised draft suggested by Deputy McGilligan.

The attitude adopted by the Minister, in his last sentences, proves quite clearly that he wants to throw aside all parliamentary control over his Department and his administration at the moment. The adoption of the Fianna Fáil transport policy now, or in the future, by some Minister, visualises at the same time the setting up of a transport board.

Have we not enough officials already?

I do not propose to go into the necessity for the establishment of such a board, but the refusal of the Minister to set up a board over the administration of such a measure shows that this measure will be administered by his Department. What reasonable objection can the Minister advance against the principle of Deputy McGilligan's amendment, which provides that there should be some way of criticising the regulations made by the Minister in connection with the administration of this measure? I could not possibly conceive the Minister standing for anything like that when he was in opposition.

I did, and so did Deputy Davin.

The Minister consistently claimed more control over administration when Deputy McGilligan was in office. At any rate, whether the Minister or Deputy McGilligan stands for that or not, in view of the Minister's words where he tells us he would not submit to such control, I think the House should divide on this amendment.

Deputy Dillon talked of sending a carbon copy of the regulation made to the Clerk of the Dáil. If the Deputy knew the first thing about it he would know that it is mere nonsense to talk like that. If regulations are prescribed they must be prescribed by order. The statute lays that down. It is impossible to foresee the incidents that may arise that would necessitate the imposition of conditions and power should be given to the Department to deal with every possible eventuality and the whole set of conditions that may attach to a licence. The amendment is impossible because it would involve a new statutory order on every occasion that a new set of conditions had to be attached to a licence. It would make administration exceedingly difficult. It was precisely, because of that, in connection with the Road Transport Act, that neither Deputy Davin nor myself, in view of these things, asked the then Minister to accept such an amendment as this.

Many measures passed by the late administration and, also, by the present administration, made it necessary, in connection with those measures, to have certain papers laid upon the Table of the House. The Minister well knows that Deputies have never taken an unfair advantage of that. But Deputies belonging to the Fianna Fáil Party, and other Deputies, should see to it that effective parliamentary control is maintained over measures of this kind. If the Minister, and the staff attached to his administration, know that they are likely to be challenged by the Dáil on the issue of these regulations it would make them much more careful.

The Minister can be challenged every time.

Why does the Minister like to try to bluff? What is the meaning of saying that the procedure suggested by amendments 47 and 93 would lead to frightful complications, and dreadful difficulty, and is calculated to make his work impossible? What part is calculated to make his work impossible or a source of difficulty?

Assuming that Deputy McGilligan alters his amendment, in the sense suggested, it would make the Ministers's task quite easy. All the Minister is then required to do is to publish in Iris Oifigiúil the regulations he has made and to lay them on the Table. Unless they are cancelled by resolution within 21 days after they are laid on the Table they are immune from further interference. If such procedure was never adopted, in any circumstances, I can conceive that there would be some inconvenience, but I assume in the Minister's Department where dozens of these orders are made and laid before the House there would be no difficulty. I have seen Statute after Statute passed in which Papers were required to be laid before the House, where the Minister has to make an order, and if such order was not repealed by resolution within 21 days it becomes law. That is a common procedure. There must be some routine method in his Department through which orders of that kind are passed and appear upon the Table. Amendment 93 deliberately provides that no red tape delay should take place that would delay the Minister in bringing his regulations into force. The regulation here come into force the moment he makes them, and he can insist on its observance. If there is anything in what the Minister says about the intolerable difficulties calculated to make his work impossible perhaps he would kindly explain them to the House.

I have done so. I have pointed out that it would be impossible to foresee the circumstances that would necessitate attaching conditions to the licence. In every other Act that passes through the House similar difficulties are met in precisely the same way as we are doing here. In other Acts where regulations have to be made by order, and laid upon the Table, it is always taken that one set of regulations will apply almost permanently or for a definite time. This amendment would necessitate a new order in connection with every licence. Do Deputies contemplate the staff that would be required for such work as that?

The Minister is mixing up two things. If the amendment meant that no licence could be ratified without coming before the House I agree it would be a cumbersome procedure, but so far as I understand this amendment, the order is good until the House has nullified it. I do not understand what difficulty there is if the Minister has to make 500 regulations; they can all be laid upon the Table, and they hold good unless they are nullified by the House.

In the interests of economy it is not necessary that that should be done.

Let us try to find out what it is that the Minister says in regard to this amendment. Deputy Dillon has described the Minister's answer as bluff, and he was right. The Minister says that you have to foresee before any licence is granted, a great number of things. You have not.

You have.

You have not. Deputy Dillon stated that the whole thing amounted to sending a carbon copy to the Clerk of the Dáil. The Minister, in order to make that appear difficult, talked about statutory orders. The wording there is somewhat involved. You have such phrases as "Be it hereby enacted, or made pursuant" to a particular thing. Then you get the carbon copy. That is all that it amounts to—a carbon copy with one preambulatory phrase. This has not even to be done specially for the House. If there are conditions of this type they have to be specified in the licence according to the Minister's own procedure.

And the licence is open for inspection.

Let us think of the situation. If there are no conditions attached, then this amendment of mine causes no trouble. If there are conditions attached, they are to be specified in the licence. Before being specified they have to be drawn up. What is the difficulty? There must be some formula thought out for this and put into the licence. That formula is taken, with the preamble I have spoken of, and 500 of these forms can be printed for next to nothing. All there has to be done is to put in the carbon copy of whatever the specification is containing the conditions, and that is put before the House. That is what we are asking to be done and the principle is that the House in that way gets brought before it the particular things that the Minister wants to attach in relation particularly to wages and conditions of employment, notification of the agreements made in relation to such business by the licensee with other persons engaged in transport—that is to say, to make public these agreements which used to be called secret agreements—and, thirdly, there is the matter of whether or not the vehicle is manufactured and to what extent in Saorstát Eireann.

There is a lot more than that.

These are the three things the Minister thought fit to set out as big points. We want to have this House given information about these and whatever else the Minister attaches to the licence; that after he has drawn up the formula, after he has specified them in the licence, he will simply put on the Table of the House a carbon copy of the specification with the preambulatory phrase I have spoken of.

I should like to draw the Minister's attention to this. It is one of the reasons why I mentioned Section 15, because Section 15 gives the Minister most extraordinary power.

And other sections too.

I ask the House to glance for a moment, in order to understand this point, at Section 16 (2), which recognises that the licensee has a certain claim to continuity; that the licence shall continue in force for a period of 12 months and that it is not within the Minister's discretion to withdraw it, except for cause stated, for at least 12 months. Section 15 (1) provides that "the Minister may, on his own motion during the currency of a merchandise licence amend (whether by addition, omission, or variation) in such manner as he thinks fit the conditions attached to such licence." That gives him the power to do covertly what he is prohibited from doing by Section 16 (2). Supposing he wanted to take a licence from a licensee and could find no legal reason for doing it, under Section 15 (1) he could proceed to prescribe impossible conditions and, having laid down impossible conditions, charge the licensee with a breach of them and withdraw his licence under another section. All we are asking him to do is to lay a copy of any conditions he makes or attaches to a licence on the Table of the House, so that if any Minister attempted such an enterprise as I envisaged for the purpose of withdrawing a licence from a licensee, this House would be in a position to pass judgment on his action, and to prevent the execution of his purpose. That may seem a remote contingency at present, but it will reflect on the commonsense of this House if they permit such a situation to arise. We ought to reserve to ourselves the right to restrict the Minister from doing a thing of that kind, if we give the Minister the right to prescribe conditions in the way the Bill lays down.

Deputy Dillon seems to suggest in his final remarks that parliamentary action would be impossible in the event of very severe conditions being imposed on any licensee; that, unless the amendments that are being discussed are passed, the House will be unable to defend any licensee that the Minister may wish to drive out of business, or upon whom he may wish, for other reasons, to impose exceptionally severe conditions. Surely if anything like that were to happen, the method of parliamentary question is usually a great deal more effective than by this formal publication and placing of the regulations made by the Minister on the Table of the House.

There is power to revoke by resolution.

In all my experience here I have not once heard a Deputy complain of statutory regulations laid on the Table of the House or call attention to them.

That redounds to the credit of the Ministers who made them.

It redounds to the discredit of Deputies. They are the very last things which are read. I think that Deputies McGilligan and Dillon when emphasising the importance of this are deliberately forgetting that it is a formality that is almost useless; that nobody ever takes the least notice of regulations laid on the Table of the House. If they are anticipating anything like what Deputy Dillon has referred to, namely, the Minister being unnecessarily severe or unjust towards a licensee, if they are motivated in their amendments by a desire to prevent a thing of that kind happening, then I think that they are on the wrong track. I submit that people who are treated with injustice like that are not slow to come to their representatives about it, and I think the Minister will be much more in fear of a debate being raised on a question that may be asked with regard to an act of that kind than he will be of any criticism likely to arise through the regulations being laid on the Table of the House including one which may be objectionable to a particular Deputy.

May I speak possibly as a little bit of an expert in this matter, possibly with as much experience as anybody else, and, say that I never yet encountered a Minister who was very much afraid of, or who ever considered important, any debate on the adjournment. The only way in which a matter which has been raised by way of question and answer in the House can be considered is by a debate on the adjournment upon which there is no division, and in consequence there is no real parliamentary control at all. Moreover it is within the knowledge of the House that a Minister is able to give sometimes, if he wishes, in answer to a question a very slender amount of information and then hold his tongue.

Is the amendment withdrawn?

On the understanding that Deputy McGilligan will introduce for the Report Stage——

I am not agreeing.

May I observe that the amendment as at present drawn is thought not to represent the Deputy's intention at all?

We must dispose of it now.

The Minister might have the courtesy to refrain from interrupting me. The amendment, as it at present stands, does not represent the intention of the Deputy. If there is a desire on the Labour Benches to test the principle, that test will arise on amendment 93, where the procedure is laid down for laying these regulations on the Table. To challenge a division on this simply means that the principle will not be tested, because we cannot vote for this amendment as it does not mean what the Deputy said he proposed to deal with. It is a highly technical procedure that he is trying to deal with and he has expressed the view that the actual words here do not exactly reproduce the procedure that he desires to carry into effect.

The Minister clearly stated that he refused to accept the principle of this amendment, apart altogether from whether the wording represented the Deputy's point of view or not.

He is right in that.

I am almost afraid—I am very nervous—to refer to anything that Deputy Moore said, but Deputy Moore has been in the House since 1927 and he knows the difference between a question on the adjournment and a question——

I was under the impression, a Chinn Comhairle, that you had risen to put the question.

I rose to put the question and cannot permit a continuance of the debate on this amendment.

The Minister is endeavouring to suggest by his attitude that if this amendment is divided on a somewhat different amendment will be ruled out of order on the Report Stage.

That is for the Chair to decide.

If the Minister is looking for a division——

Surely we can dispose of it now after an hour's debate?

If the Minister is looking for a division, I would ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Is there any objection?

Then in order to reach a decision the question must be put.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 20; Níl, 60.

  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Davin, William.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Keating, John.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Norton, William.
  • O'Connor, Batt.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Reidy, James.

Níl

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Doherty, Joseph.
  • Donnelly, Eamon.
  • Dowdall, Thomas P.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Geoghegan, James.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Dowd, Patrick.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Kelly, Seán Thomas.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hales, Thomas.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C. (Dr.).
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Doyle and Esmonde; Níl: Deputies Little and Traynor.
Amendment declared lost.

On behalf of Deputy McGilligan I move amendment 48:—

In line 30, to delete the words "and approval by."

Paragraph (b) contemplates that the Minister will require, among some of the conditions that he will apply to the granting of a merchandise licence, that any persons holding a merchandise licence and entering into any arrangements or agreements with one another, must not only notify these arrangements and agreements but must get the Minister's approval for them. Would the Minister give us some idea of the matters in respect of which he wants these full powers?

In this matter, we are merely carrying on the policy of the late Government. It is obviously desirable that the Minister should have a certain power of control over arrangements and agreements to be entered into by transport organisations. A similar clause was inserted for that purpose in the Road Transport Act of 1932. If we have that control in relation to passenger road services, we should have it in relation to merchandise road services. It is designed to operate so that the Government will have definite information concerning, and be in a position to regulate, the secret agreements about which we used to hear so much some years ago.

Can the Minister give the House any information, as regards passengers, as to the type of matters that have been dealt with under this power?

Nothing arose definitely apart from the relationship of railway companies with other road companies. This is merely a power designed to ensure that we will know about arrangements, in the first place, and, in the second place, if the national interests are likely to be prejudiced, that we can interfere.

Has the Minister in mind any type of arrangement or agreement? These, I take it, are reciprocal arrangements under which railway companies might give mutual advantages over their respective routes?

Pooling arrangements, generally.

Reciprocal advantages. That the Minister should be notified is all right, but why should it be essential to the validity of the contract that the Minister should approve of it?

The public interest might be very definitely prejudiced by any such arrangement or agreement. The main purpose of the agreement might be the exploitation of the public, and the State should have power to prevent such an agreement coming to a head.

I support the proposal by which the Minister will be made aware of everything that happens, and be obliged to approve of it. He cannot then come to the House and, when questioned, plead ignorance of the conditions prevailing.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment 49 not moved.
Section 14 agreed to.
SECTION 15.
(1) The Minister may on his own motion during the currency of a merchandise licence amend (whether by addition, omission or variation) in such manner as he thinks fit the conditions attached to such licence.
(2) Whenever the Minister proposes to amend, in exercise of the power conferred on him by the immediately preceding sub-section, the conditions attached to a merchandise licence he shall cause a notice to be served on the licensee specifying the amended conditions which are to attach to such licence and upon service of such notice the said amended conditions shall attach to such licence.

On behalf of Deputy McGilligan, I move amendment 50:—

Before Section 15 to insert a new section as follows:—

"No condition attached to a merchandise licence shall affect any merchandise road transport business carried on by the licensee in any exempted area."

I think we had the subject matter of this amendment discussed on a previous amendment.

If the Minister is not accepting the amendment, which seems a reasonable one, perhaps he would give us some idea of his reasons.

We are holding out to persons operating merchandise services in and around the principal towns, a definite inducement to confine themselves to the exempted areas by saying that if they want to operate long distance services, they are going to be subject to regulation and control, not merely in relation to those long-distance services but in relation to the whole of their services. The main purpose of that Part of the Bill is to ensure that persons whose main business is short-distance transport around port towns will not set themselves up in competition with the railway companies for long-distance business. If we were to give complete exemption to licensees in the exempted areas, everybody would seek to operate on the long-distance routes and the operators would put themselves in the position that they would have something which the railway company would have to acquire. This is a sort of penalty the operators must pay if they want to continue in or go into the long-distance haulage business. No doubt, a number of operators will go into that business in any event because it is their man business, but there are others whose main business is the haulage of commodities in and about the principle cities and port towns. We want to give these people a definite reason for confining themselves to that work and not have them setting out on the long-distance routes.

When we were discussing this measure on the Second Stage, I really felt that this whole "exemption-area" provision was an inversion of what was in the Minister's mind and that we would have a much more satisfactory measure if the exempted areas he had in mind before—15 miles—were really reserved for the big companies to batten on in the development of their industry. That would avoid the dangers of interference in respect of the kind of transport services we have outside in the rest of the country. The Minister insisted that the right idea from his point of view had been enshrined in the Bill. The proposal now will further react on the major distributing bodies who are deprived to some extent of trade in the exempted areas and given a thinner field outside. If they are taking advantage of the trade in the exempted areas that even, with a considerable amount of competition, they might take advantage of, they will be prejudiced by this proposal which seems to hit against the main idea the Minister has in mind of building up large transport companies in the country.

We discussed this matter at very considerable length on Section 6, and it is hardly desirable that we should reopen the discussion. The Deputy should appreciate that if we had no exempted areas or no restrictions upon anybody in exempted areas, then obviously a person in the haulage business operating a short distance service around Dublin would have every reason for applying for a licence to operate outside the Dublin area, a licence to which he would be entitled under the Bill as it stands. In so far as he would have a right to conduct a service outside the exempted area, he would be a potential competitor of the railway company and would have to be acquired by them if they wanted to acquire a monopoly. If that business were acquired the person concerned could always go back to the exempted area and start business again, because there would be no restriction. Our point is that if he wants to go outside the area where the bulk of his business exists, then he is going to be subjected to certain definite handicaps, not merely in relation to his long distance services but in relation to the whole of his services. If we were to amend the Bill and abolish the exempted areas, in my opinion it would make it much more difficult for the Bill to achieve its objective. It would be more difficult for the railway companies to get into the position of being the sole long-distance carriers.

I am sorry if I am bringing the Minister over already covered ground, but there is one point here that we ought to be clear about. It is proposed to issue a licence to persons who form authorised merchandise carrying companies. Then you have a second class of existing carrier and other analogous classes. Does the Minister contemplate applying restrictions to an authorised merchandise carrying company operating in the City of Dublin? Is he going to apply restrictions to that company in respect to carrying goods inside the 15 miles radius around the City of Dublin?

A company operating within the exempted area is subject to no restrictions whatever. Such a company may pick and choose its traffic and may refuse traffic. The licensee is not a common carrier. He is subject to no regulations whatever. But if he wants to operate the service outside the 15 miles radius, then the whole of his service will be subject to whatever conditions may be attached to the licence. He will be subject to all the regulations imposed by the Bill both in relation to the goods he must carry and the facilities he must afford to people who want goods transported.

That means that the Minister is now going to put the railway companies in an inferior position within an exempted area?

Surely the authorised undertaking will have the conditions imposed by this Bill attached to their licence both inside and outside the exempted areas. This amendment proposes that within the exempted area the railway company will be free to compete with any of the other carrying companies on their own terms.

It also permits more than the railway company to do it.

The Minister's attitude appears to be that he is going to gather into the exempted area the maximum number of carriers in order to prevent them going out through the country. I contend that the railway company is practically the only carrying company within the exempted area which is going to be in an inferior position. They must do the carrying work.

They will not be the only company.

They will be one of very few companies that will have to go into competition with carriers who are completely exempted from all regulations within the exempted area. Surely, if this is a Railway Bill—and I am beginning to suspect it is nothing of the kind—the railway company ought to be put on the same footing as their competitors within the 15 miles radius.

It might be well if the Deputy got the opinion of the railway company on this amendment.

I am neither under the thumb of Cumann na nGaedheal's past history nor the thumb of the railway company, the tram company or any other interest. I recognise it is the duty of the Dáil to decide these questions on their merits and from the point of view of national welfare. I do not think the railway company will consider it desirable to be placed in an inferior position in, for instance, the Dublin or Cork areas. If they think otherwise, they are wrong and it is time they shuffled up the board of directors. I think they are entirely wrong and it is a foolish thing to put them in an inferior position as they will undoubtedly be within the exempted areas.

I am not particularly concerned with what the railway company think about it. What information have they which enables them to think about it? I am looking for information that will enable me to think about it. Take the position as between Waterford and Wexford, where you have in each case a radius of ten miles. Then you have New Ross outside the Waterford area. What restrictions are the railway company in Waterford going to suffer under? What is the position if they want to go outside the area for the distribution of their goods? I understood the Minister to say that if they keep a particular service within the defined radius they are perfectly free of restrictions of all kinds.

The railway company?

Not at all.

The railway company will be the licensee in respect of a much wider area than ten miles outside Waterford. The company will have a licence to operate over the whole of the Free State, with the exception, possibly, of areas served by other railway companies. But an independent operator confined entirely within the radius would be free from regulations and control. If that same person proposed to run a service outside the exempted area, then he would be subject to the control imposed by this Bill and that control would extend to his whole service. He would have to specify the goods he was prepared to carry and he would have to be prepared to give to everybody, in relation to these goods, the same terms, conditions and facilities. He would be subject to these regulations, whereas the people who do not go outside the exempted area may pick and choose their traffic and may refuse facilities to persons if they so desire. The intention is to give an inducement to persons the bulk of whose business is in an exempted area to confine it entirely to the exempted area and thus reduce the number of operators outside the exempted area who would otherwise have to be acquired.

There was no necessity to offer inducements to any clear-minded carrier as to why he should remain within an exempted area. However, the inducements are now quite clear, and the Minister will see the advantage that will be taken of the measure in that respect. The man who knows the value of business inside the exempted area is not going to be so foolish as to leave that area when he knows that he can compete within it on preferential terms with the railway company and other companies. It would be much better if the Minister had the courage to tell the House that he has finally abandoned the policy of unification in the case of public ownership or private management. If he did that I could quite understand his case for giving preferential treatment to one set of carriers in an exempted area as against others. We are still led to believe, without having any positive assurance on the matter, that the Minister still stands for definite unification.

Does that arise on this amendment?

Of course it does. Unification means that there must be fair competition for all who compete inside or outside the area. Does the Minister believe in fair competition? Would the Minister, as a merchant, or if he had an interest in a business, support in this House any proposal which would put £100 upon a licensed trader or shopkeeper at one end of the street and only £10 licence fee on another shopkeeper doing the same business in the same street or near it? Would that be fair competition? Would the Minister support a proposal that one shopkeeper paying trade union rates of wages should pay £100 licence and allow another shopkeeper to escape with £10? Would he say that such would be fair competition? The Minister knows very well that no case whatsoever has been made for freedom and lack of control or restrictions for one set of carriers within an area competing with another set of carriers, and putting on the other carriers severe restrictions in the very same area. The position will be that one set of people doing the carrying business will have to take whatever traffic is offered and the other will please themselves as to what traffic they will take. They will take the traffic that pays best, and they will refuse the other traffic. Naturally, people who will be in the position of taking whatever traffic they like will take the better paying traffic. They will have an inducement to take only the better traffic, and it will not be necessary for them to take the less desirable traffic.

I think it would be better if the Minister would say whether this matter of an exempted area is based on speculation or on an inquiry. A very considerable number of carriers will remain within the exempted areas and will not apply for licences under the Bill. It would be a very regrettable thing, I think, if, in a Bill like this, in which exempted areas are one of the big features, the whole idea of exempted areas proved to be based on a calculation that was not justified. I do not think there are many carriers earning their living by carting within exempted areas. If the Minister, in coming to a conclusion with regard to exempted areas, was basing his conclusions on speculation I do not think that would be a satisfactory thing. I would suggest to Deputy Mulcahy or Deputy McGilligan that the wording of the amendment is not in accordance with the explanation given by Deputy Mulcahy. As the amendment is worded, it suggests two separate businesses altogether. It does not suggest one business encroaching on an exempted area, or that a licensee was living in the provinces and taking business within the exempted areas. It does not suggest a licensee living in Dublin and going all over the country. As the amendment is worded, it suggests to me two businesses: that Mr. Murphy of Tullamore gets a general licence and the amendment proposes that no condition attached to his licence shall affect any merchandise road transport business carried on by him in an exempted area. In that respect as a matter of fact, the licence is supererogatory. If the amendment were worded differently it would effect more strictly what the Deputy had in mind. But as it is worded at present, it does not accord with the intention as proclaimed by the wording.

What the amendment asks is that a merchandise road transport licence which is held by the railway company, shall not be allowed to contain any condition dealing with the carrying on of the work of that company.

I know that is the intention, but I do not think that is the way it will work.

I am satified however that the wording is quite right. The Minister is exempting an area of 15 miles around Dublin and ten miles around Drogheda but there is to the east of these areas a small triangle containing the town of Skerries. If the railway company is working the town of Skerries either from the Dublin or Drogheda end by road transport, it is going to be subject to certain restrictions until it comes to these four miles from Skerries on the Drogheda side and two miles from Skerries on the Dublin side. What are the restrictions?

It will be subject to the same restrictions inside and outside the exempted areas. It will be the same inside as outside.

Then there will be certain types of merchandise which will not be carried by road into Skerries at all.

No. That is not the position.

The Minister suggested that he should ask the railway companies what they would choose. I wonder would the Minister say what is the opinion of the railways. I remember the Minister on a previous occasion stating when an amendment was before the House that the amendment was accepted by the railway companies. A number of Deputies challenged that here in the House. These were Deputies who had some doubts in the matter. I since then learned that the railway company's opinion, which the Minister presumes to be in possession of, is apparently the opinion of the Great Northern Railway Company. Is that so?

I will explain it at some length in relation to the section.

I would not have raised the matter at all were it not for the fact that the Minister threw that statement across the House and suggested again that the railway companies had accepted the idea of the exempted areas.

The House has accepted the principle of exempted areas.

Surely the question of exempted areas is still open.

The question raised in this amendment is the conditions that are to apply in exempted areas. That was discussed at great length and this amendment could not now be carried.

The amendment is withdrawn.

The Chair has not ruled that this amendment is out of order.

The sponsor of the amendment has withdrawn it.

I move amendments 51 and 52:—

In sub-section (1), line 38, to delete the words "on his own motion" and substitute the words "with the consent of the licensee."

To delete sub-section (2).

Those licences will run for 12 months and here it is proposed that the Minister may, on his own motion, amend the conditions attaching to the licence. Both these amendments go together I understand.

Yes, one is consequential on the other.

The amendment asks that the licence which is being granted for 12 months will be amended only with the consent of the licensee. We have very little information as to the type of conditions the Minister will apply to the licence, and I think it is reasonable that whether an amendment of the licence is carried out on the Minister's motion or on the application of the licensee, it should not be amended during the 12 months.

Section 15 is in direct accord with the other sections. The Bill proposes to give the Minister power to grant the licence on such conditions as he thinks fit, and to alter or vary the conditions on renewal. In the Act of 1932 we found that power to amend the licence during the period of its validity was very necessary and desirable. It would be more necessary and desirable in merchandise road transport concerning which we have less information as to the difficulties which are likely to arise than when dealing with passenger transport. No doubt after three or four years the powers proposed in Section 15 will probably not be utilised at all. In the first few years it will certainly be necessary to have power to amend the conditions attaching to a licence during the period of its validity. As the Minister has in fact power to impose conditions at his discretion, it seems necessary and desirable that he should have power to amend. Our experience in relation to the Road Transport Act was that not merely was the proper administration of the Act prejudiced, but frequently the interests of people engaged in the industry were prejudiced by the absence of such a provision.

The Minister is now to be taken as a dictator, with no one to interfere with him. If the Minister had indicated his intention of accepting amendment 93 this would be less objectionable, although it would remain objectionable. At present it means that if the Minister had a quarrel with any individual licensee he could put him out of business by a turn of his hand and there would be no one to say nay to him. He can impose conditions. Although he makes a pious gesture in sub-section (2), in the next section there is a guarantee of the licence for 12 months. In Section 15 (1) he takes power to make the retention of the licence absolutely impossible. The Minister piously says that that solicitude for the welfare of the licensee was brought in because of the administration of the 1932 Act, that if he had not this power the poor licensee would suffer terribly. The amendment proposes to delete the words "on his own motion" and to substitute the words "with the consent of the licensee." The Minister's previous solicitude for the licensee goes by the board. This gives the Minister an opportunity of withdrawing the licence and that is what the Minister proposes. I do not know why the Minister objects to the amendment, seeing that it does not interfere with his right, at the end of the 12 months, to put a man out of business if it is for the public good. The Minister has made no case except simply that he finds it difficult to administer the Bill without this power. He makes the pathetic case that the licensee may make a claim, the fact being that the Minister wants power from the House to run the show without interference.

Quite, but subject to certain definite procedure.

So long as the Minister is accompanied by five per cent. of those on the opposite benches and by the rest who are waiting for the bell he will get that power.

If the Deputy knows of a better way to settle the transport question he should tell it to the House.

I am asking that the Minister should leave it to Parliament to decide the rights of individual citizens and of the people carrying on a legitimate trade. To that procedure the Minister gravely objects, saying that they should be committed to his kindly care and that he would look after them. The reason I object to that is that I am afraid the Minister will look after them too well. In the only possible way that I can I desire to object.

There are certain institutions in the State, the inhabitants of which have the peculiar idea that they think everyone else is mad except themselves. Deputy Dillon appears to think that no one can act in a rational manner, certainly in a manner that is not entirely malicious, except himself. He always contemplates that every power given to a Minister is to be exercised for personal spite or for some secret revenge. If the Deputy could only get it into his mind that Ministers will act rationally, and that any power given to them is power given by the Dáil, that they are responsible to the Dáil, and that the Dáil can take away the power if they act irrationally, I think he will be able to bring to the consideration of these measures a much more unprejudiced mind than he has at present.

The Minister is always charming when he becomes bland. The Minister knows the principle at stake. He has defended it in the past from the Opposition Benches, time after time, and very properly, when overruled. Grave abuses have arisen in certain cases where unlimited power was given to make alterations during the currency of a licence, without reference to the House for confirmation. This is an extension of that regulation and gives further powers, which no Minister asked for before, to make changes in the course of the licence and not at the time of renewal. I object to that because I think it is wrong and open to abuse. The Minister knows perfectly well that I am not alleging he is going to abuse his powers. I am alleging that the powers given are open to abuse and that we should not give them.

In previous amendments I agreed that the Minister should not be given such powers. As he did not accept a previous amendment I think it is essential he should take the powers asked for now. I prefer that the power of control should be with the Minister, and not with the licensee. It was sought in a previous amendment to have the conditions in the industry recognised, so that employers should conform to these regulations. As that was not accepted by the Minister it is evident that he must take stock of the situation from time to time, must take power to step in and stop abuses that may arise in the case of some licensees. It is essential in the interests of transport that the Minister should have the power he is seeking.

Can the Minister or Deputy Keyes give any idea as to the possible conditions the Minister would require after the granting of a licence, and during its normal life of 12 months, to call in the licence and add additional conditions? The objections and the suspicions that Deputies speak about arise from the fact that we have no information. If we had, some reasonable attempt to give the House some idea what those conditions might be, and when they would be necessary in the middle of a period of a licence, we would know where we stood.

My feeling is that under the Bill there is no restriction which would prevent an existing carrier getting a licence. We know that there are abuses and it is sought to remedy them in this Bill by having regulations. I am not quite happy in the Minister's taking all the powers, but I think it is the next best thing rather than leaving the matter to the licensee. If the attention of the Minister is drawn to irregularities or to anything objectionable, he should have power to step in and make the necessary alterations. There are other sections to prevent the licensee being harshly treated.

We have been given no idea why it would be necessary to amend the licence.

I suggest that one such case would be concerning the question of hours at which a service would be available. Take a case where the first condition of a service was that it would ply from 7 a.m. It might be found, following representations from farmers and other people in a district that that hour was not early enough. In order to give transport to the people in such districts the Minister might have to amend the licence by insisting on an earlier hour. Surely that is a condition the Minister would be entitled to impose in the interests of the community, without the consent of the licensee.

For merchandise carrying. A person gets a merchandise carrying licence on the understanding that he is facing 12 months' trial. Now Deputy Moore tells us that the licensee can get a letter from the Minister telling him that he has been accustomed to send a car along a certain route at 9.30 a.m. but that in future he should send it there at 7 a.m. That becomes a condition of the licence. I think that is a very strong case for the amendment.

In the interests of the licensee and of the community. The licensee may not be so concerned about the interests of the community. Does the Deputy recognise that he voted for the principle of this Bill, that in the average rural district there is no duplication of services, and that the community must be considered regarding the conditions to be imposed on the licensee? The Minister will be able to prescribe the conditions that are suitable to the community. Where a transport service has been established for three or four months, complaints from the community might be so numerous and so strong that the Minister would compel the licensee to make an alteration owing to the fact that the people were being inconvenienced. Is not that a reasonable suggestion for justifying the alteration?

Does the Deputy understand that this Bill deals with road transport services in the country? I think I have already said I did.

Then the Deputy ought not to go off on the line on which he has just gone.

The position is that such transport services as will be left—carried on under difficulties— may, if they are changed in the way the Deputy suggests they may have to be changed, turn a year with a small amount of profit into a year with a small amount of loss. This is simply a smoke screen helping the Minister to get away from answering the question and giving us some information to help us in dealing with the matter.

What I said was, in the opinion of those who listened to it, at least as convincing as the case the Deputy has tried to make for the amendment. The Deputy is forgetting that it will not necessarily be the convenience of the licensee which will have to be considered. That will have to be a very minor consideration. The interests of the community which the licensee serves will have to be the paramount consideration. If they do not get paramount consideration the whole principle of the Bill will very quickly be endangered, the people will rebel against the measure, and there will be agitation for the repeal of the Bill.

Amendments 51 and 52 withdrawn?

Yes. It would be a pity to spoil the Bill.

Sections 15 and 16 agreed to.
SECTION 17.
(1) Every person who is the licensee under a merchandise licence which is in force (whether by virtue of the original grant or of a renewal of such licence) may, within the prescribed time and while such licence continues so in force, apply to the Minister for a renewal of such licence.
(2) Every application for the renewal of a merchandise licence shall be in the prescribed form and be made in the prescribed manner and shall contain the prescribed particulars.
(3) Every person who applies under this section for a renewal of a merchandise licence shall, when required by the Minister so to do, furnish to the Minister all such information as the Minister may require for the consideration of such application.
(4) The Minister may require any statement of fact made in an application for the renewal of a merchandise licence or made to the Minister in response to a request for information under the next preceding sub-section of this section to be verified by the statutory declaration of some person having personal knowledge of the fact so stated.
(5) If any person fails to furnish any information or any verification which he is required by the Minister under this section to furnish, the Minister may, on the ground of such failure and without prejudice to any other power of refusal conferred on him by this Act, refuse the application in relation to which such information or verification was so required.

I move amendment 53:—

In sub-section (1), page 9, line 1, to delete the words "and while such licence continues so in force", and substitute the words "or within such extended time as the Minister may allow."

I think it might be a wise thing to allow an extension of time in which a renewal might be looked for. The time might pass; then I think the Minister would be bound to consider the application a new one, and the successor in title to an existing licensee might lose his position.

There might be some necessity here for a little elasticity that does not apply in the Road Transport Act, because, as the Deputy says, a new application cannot be granted. I will have the point looked into.

Amendment 53, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment 54 not moved.
Section 17 agreed to.
SECTION 18.
(1) The Minister may refuse an application for a renewal of a merchandise licence on one or more of the following grounds but on no other ground, that is to say:—
(a) on the ground that in his opinion there was, during the currency of the licence or of the last renewal thereof, a breach of or a failure to observe or comply with one or more of the conditions attached to such licence;
(b) on the ground that in his opinion there was, during such currency, a breach of or a failure to comply with the provisions of this Act or of the regulations made thereunder;
(c) on the ground that the licensee under such licence has during such currency been convicted of an offence (whether under this or any other Act) in relation to the merchandise road transport business to which such licence relates or the vehicles used therein.
(2) Whenever the Minister grants a renewal of a merchandise licence, the Minister may amend (whether by addition, omission or variation) in such manner as he thinks proper the conditions attached to such licence.

I move amendment 55:—

In sub-section (1), line 22, after the word "application" to insert the words "in whole or in part."

I have pleasure in moving this amendment. I take it the Minister does not see any reason why he should not accept it. It is purely a drafting amendment.

I am afraid I cannot see any reason why this amendment should be accepted. It seems to me that what the Deputy is trying to do is to put upon the Minister the onus of defining the nature of the application that should be made. I am not clear as to what the amendment purports to achieve.

Surely the Minister does not contemplate a licence which will have to be either accepted or rejected? Surely it may be in part accepted?

The section to which the Deputy is moving the amendment is Section 18, which prescribes that under certain stated conditions the Minister may refuse the renewal of a licence. The amendment says he may refuse an application "in whole or in part." Perhaps the Deputy proposed to put the amendment down to some other section. I certainly do not see how it fits in with this one.

Surely the section contemplates a renewal in part? Is the Minister's point that Section 18 deals with the refusal of an application?

As far as licences are concerned there must be a renewal unless certain conditions arise, but the Minister may refuse a renewal on any of the three grounds stated, and on those grounds only.

There may be three conditions attaching to a licence: (a), (b), and (c). He may refuse (a) and (b) and allow (c) in the renewal.

The only question that would arise is whether there has been a breach of a condition or a conviction in court so serious as to justify the cancellation of the licence entirely. That is the only question that would arise. If the Minister, as he would in probably the majority of cases, came to the conclusion that the breach of the conditions or the conviction in court was not of sufficient magnitude or seriousness to justify the cancellation of the licence, then the licence will not be cancelled, but in so far as there has been a serious breach of the conditions, or a conviction in court for a serious breach of the Act, then the licence may be refused.

Might I point out to the Minister that under sub-section (2) there is provision for a qualified renewal. It says: "Whenever the Minister grants a renewal of a merchandise licence, the Minister may amend". I call the Minister's attention to the words "may amend". I take these words to mean that the conditions attached to the new licence may be different to the conditions in the original licence.

They may be.

I ask the Minister to bear these words in mind in view of the suggestion made in the amendment. "The Minister may refuse an application in whole or in part". He is refusing there in part, and as I read Section 18 it means that he has no power to refuse in part. The two things appear to me, a layman, to be in conflict.

The only way by which the Minister could refuse in part would be by amending the conditions which would have the effect of restricting the services conducted by the licensee or something of that kind.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment 56:—

In sub-section (1) (a), line 25, to delete the words "in his opinion."

Amendments 56 to 60 have a common principle and might be debated together. A decision can be taken on amendment 56.

All these amendments have very much the same purpose. They are applicable to different sub-sections of Section 18. The purpose of this amendment can be described briefly enough. It is to limit the peculiar discretion which the Minister is taking to himself in all these matters. As the section runs, an application for renewal may be refused because: (a) in the Minister's opinion there was a breach or failure to observe or comply with one or more of the conditions attached to the licence, or, under paragraph (b) because the Minister believes that there was, during the currency of the licence, a breach or failure to comply with the provisions of the Act or of the regulations made thereunder. Where the phrase "in his opinion" occurs in the section I want to have it removed so that the Minister will not be the final authority in these matters. If there is going to be such a penalty imposed upon a person as a refusal to renew his licence then, I think, the Minister's discretion should be subject to review by the court.

I also want to put his terms of reference for the court not merely in paragraphs (a) and (b), but also in paragraph (c), so that there would have to be such a serious breach or failure to observe or to comply with the conditions as to make the licensee unfit to hold a licence. In other words, that we would not impose upon the court to find automatically that there had been an offence, but that there had been an offence so serious as to make it decide that the licensee was unfit to hold a licence. The purpose common to all the amendments is to have the Minister's discretion overlooked, so that when a person is brought to court he is not going to be met there by the mere statement of the Minister: "Well, I think there has been a breach or a failure to comply, and because I think so that ends the matter." I think there should be some appeal given in these matters.

I take an entirely different view of this. I think that the Minister for Industry and Commerce, whoever he may be, assisted as he would be by the officers of his Department who are from day to day dealing with transport matters, is much more competent to decide the question arising for decision under the section than any judge or court, because they will relate to matters of public policy. The question that would arise is whether, having regard to the transport situation existing and the transport needs of the future, the particular offence which the licensee was guilty of, breach of conditions or other offence of which he was convicted, he should be allowed to continue in the transport business. That is a question of public policy in the first instance. It is a question which can be decided much more competently by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, advised as he will be in the way that I have described.

I would again remind the Deputy that in this matter we are following the very excellent example which he laid down in the Road Transport Act of 1932. It is an important consideration that there should be, in relation to both Acts, some similarity in practice, and in so far as the Road Transport Act of 1932 gives these powers in relation to the refusal to renew a licence we should have the same powers in relation to merchandise transport. In any event, the opinion definitely held is that the administration of these Acts should be entirely in the hands of the Government Departments concerned, and that they should be allowed to take into consideration the questions of public policy that would arise in refusing the renewal of a licence as is proposed here, bearing in mind that the Minister is always responsible for his acts in that connection to the Dáil. In the last resort the Dáil is the final court of appeal, apart from the general body of the people, on matters of general policy. If the Minister abuses the powers given to him, or acts contrary to what the Dáil considers to be good public policy, then he will have to answer for his actions here. Therefore, I think it is the Minister and not the court that should determine this.

The question of public policy does not arise.

I submit it does.

How? Public policy is laid down by the Act and by the regulations under the Act, and once that has been determined I think the court ought to have the right to say whether there has been a breach of any of these regulations.

The Deputy is asking the court to say whether there has been a breach so serious as to render a person unfit to get a renewal.

First of all I want to take out the phrase "in his opinion". That does not prevent the Minister from making any regulations he likes so long as they are within the Act. He can modify public policy in whatever way he likes and in whatever way it is open to him to do under the Act, but after that the Minister says: "Having made the regulation I am now going to determine not whether the regulation was right or whether the person should have obeyed it, but whether he has obeyed it". That is a different thing. It is a question of fact, and I think should be left to somebody else to decide. In connection with that, I propose to put in the words in one of my amendments, "was so serious a breach"... "as to make the licensee unfit to hold a licence," because I think a mere technical breach should not prevent a renewal of a licence. If those words were not there, the court might find itself constrained to give the Minister power to refuse. I think that they, in their discretion, should be enabled to say that, as a matter of fact, there has been a breach of, or a failure to observe, or comply with one or more of the conditions attached to the licence, and that it is so serious a breach of, or failure to observe or comply with these conditions that they may give that power to refuse. As it is, that does not operate at all. The Minister still makes the conditions and, therefore, he still makes public policy. What I want is that the court should be enabled to decide on this point as to whether or not there has been a breach of, or a failure to comply with the conditions and whether that breach or failure to comply is so serious as to render a man unfit to hold a licence.

Similarly, with regard to an offence. I think it ought to be an offence of his own act or of his own negligence and of so serious a nature as to make him unfit to hold a licence; but no talk of public policy should be allowed to override this.

I submit that the main matter is a matter of public policy.

Last week I cancelled a licence because there had been a breach. I feel certain that, if that matter had to be determined by a judge of a court who knew nothing about the transport situation, he would have given a verdict which would have made it impossible for the Minister to cancel the licence. Yet, the licence was cancelled by me, and I venture to say, properly cancelled.

That is begging the question.

I am giving my own opinion, of course, and I say that in my opinion it was properly cancelled. If the facts were known I am quite prepared to stand over my action.

What about telling us the facts now?

I do not want to drag that matter up now. I expect that we will have the matter out here some time and I am quite prepared to justify my action. But the point is that it referred to matters the seriousness of which would not be appreciated by anyone who was not familiar with the details and with the manner in which public policy should be applied to that problem. This procedure here, which is precisely similar to the procedure in every Act passed here for the last ten years with regard to licensing and conditions of licensing, is desirable and from every point of view preferable to the giving of matters of this kind over to a court for decision.

I am not objecting to laying down the conditions. I am not pressing the matter of referring it to a court. The exception to (a) and (b), I take it, is "on the ground that in the Minister's opinion there was, during the currency of the licence or of the last renewal thereof, a breach of, or a failure to observe or comply with one or more of the conditions attached to such licence." That is a matter of fact, is it not? That is apart from whether the Minister, or anybody else, forms an opinion or not. It must be a question of fact. For instance, I form an opinion that X has committed a breach, or has failed to observe or comply with some of the conditions. I form an opinion. Surely, there is some machinery to report the matter if there has been a breach committed, or a failure to observe or comply with the conditions. Is it the Guards or who is it? It is simply a question of whether or not it is a breach of the regulations. Public policy has nothing to do with it.

Take (c) which says: "on the ground that the licensee under such licence has during such currency been convicted of an offence (whether under this or any other Act) in relation to the merchandise road transport business to which such licence relates, or the vehicles used therein." That is, obvious. The question simply is when and where did a breach take place? What was it? That is not a question of opinion or of belief. It is a question of fact.

All throughout the discussions on the various amendments, or most of the amendments, put up by Deputy McGilligan, the Minister has come along on every occasion and, in a most graceful tribute to his predecessor, Deputy McGilligan, says: "This has been copied from the Act of 1932, for which you took responsibility when you were Minister and I was in opposition." He pays this graceful tribute— I hear somebody say disgraceful—but it shows how near they are to each other in a matter of this kind. Anybody who was in doubt as to where the Minister and Deputy McGilligan stood on the policy enshrined in this matter, such as wages and conditions and every other aspect of it, need have no doubt where they are now.

I do not think people in glass houses should throw stones.

Thank you very much. I agree with Deputy McGilligan that there is no question of public policy involved. I remember the Minister, when he was making the case in favour of getting dictatorial powers for the purpose of closing down certain branch lines on the railways, saying that he wanted Deputies to realise that they must face the facts of the situation and that he did not want deputations coming to him or representations being made to him afterwards for the keeping open of these lines. I can quite understand Deputies sitting behind the Minister making a good case and appealing to the Minister to see a deputation representing certain people who would be associated with the refusal of a licence, and I can visualise the Minister seeing his way in such a case, perhaps in a weak moment, to receive a deputation or to listen to representations before he would make up his mind as to whether or not there had been a breach of existing conditions. Is that not possible? Will the Minister say here and now that under no circumstances will he receive a deputation or hear representations from anybody?

The Deputy is mixing up two Bills. The amendment which we are discussing still leaves to the Minister discretion as to whether a licence should be renewed or not if the conditions have been broken so seriously as to justify a refusal to renew.

I realise, of course, that this may be what might be called a lawyer's amendment and likely to be welcomed by briefless barristers in court. But I realise the value of having a safeguarding amendment of this kind in the Bill. It would make Ministers and others concerned much more careful before they would take a chance of being brought into court. The Minister is asking for dictatorial powers. I am not saying that the Minister himself would act in that way, but some other person who might succeed him might be open to certain persuasion on the matter of whether there was a breach of the regulations or not. The Minister, in his usual manner of camouflaging the dictatorial powers he is seeking, says that the Dáil is the final appeal on matters of this kind. But we can realise the value of that by his action on a previous amendment when he refused to lay papers before the House and give Deputies a chance of challenging certain matters. This, then, is the final court of appeal! What kind of a court of appeal is that where you will only get an evasive answer to your questions? If there is an appeal to a court by a licensed carrier the Minister cannot afford to ignore it. I want to see less power in the hands of the Minister. I want to see the overriding power which Deputy McGilligan is asking for in this amendment inserted in order to make the Minister and his officials and advisers more careful in the administration of the dictatorial powers he is asking for and, apparently, going to get, in this Bill.

I want to urge again, and particularly with regard to those amendments which aim at cutting out the phrase "in his opinion"—there are two of these, one to lettered paragraph (a) and the other to lettered paragraph (b)—that it seems to me to be a bad thing to leave the licensee subject to the Minister's simple statement: "I think that a breach has been committed."

When did the Deputy first get that opinion?

If he wants history, I will give the Minister a bit of history. These phrases were all part of what I think is a bad tradition, started by the House on a particular Bill. It arose, first, in connection with the Live-stock Breeding Act. That measure, as introduced, had not the great discretion reposed in the Minister which, afterwards, was placed in the Minister. The reason why it was put in was because the House, as a whole, was in favour of a very sudden move against people who were said to be destroying the export trade of the country by certain malpractices but, when that Bill came into the House, there was not this terrific discretion given to the Minister and the conditions were different from what they are in this regard. It was recognised at that time that every association—I think the Minister said on Second Reading that he had been in touch with every association, certainly with regard to the Eggs Bill, which was one of the first and, I think, he said it with regard to the Live-stock Breeding Act—had urged him to bring in this measure. He was appealed to by the then Deputy Johnson, who led the Labour Party, and by the then leader of the Farmers' Party, to insist on very rigid conditions indeed and, because the House asked it unanimously, and because the statement was made that the exporters' associations, who were mainly concerned, had asked for the measure, the Minister was granted the very extensive powers which he afterwards got, but these powers were not in the Bill as it was first introduced to the House. I think, as a matter of fact, that one of the phrases actually came in by way of an amendment by a Deputy of the Farmers' Party, by which the exporters of eggs and those who were engaged in the breeding of cattle were put under the control of the Minister. That, unfortunately, stood as a precedent, and, because no great objection was taken to the matter thereafter, it was extended away from those two or three measures, in respect of which the associations had been entirely in favour of a rigid regulation, to another series of measures in respect of which, if the people had been consulted at all, they were certainly not unanimously in favour of giving the Minister this power. Those concerned, at the moment, have not expressed themselves by any means unanimously as desiring that the Minister should have this power. A certain number have, in fact, said the very contrary and it is because of that that I think that this phrase should be removed and that the Minister should be subject to a check in the only way in which that check can be exercised—the check of the courts.

Again, remember that it is a different circumstance. There is the question of a licence in which the Minister is taking power to step in; where he is doing that without the approval of the associations concerned and where he is taking power to say: "I think the offence has been committed," or "I think a breach has occurred and a failure to comply with the conditions has occurred," and, then, he simply stops the licence. I myself think that, in the circumstances of this measure, it is too wide a discretion to give to the Minister. I am amazed that the Minister, after introducing a case as a headline, would not go on and give details of the case which he says would prove that the Minister must have this power in his hands. He said that a case was prominently before his mind on the other measure in which he refused a licence where he thought it proper and in which he believed that the court would not have refused to grant it or renew it.

The breach of the conditions related to the observance of a time table. It was a matter of keeping to a time table or not. Because the licensee not merely failed to keep to the time table but persistently failed after warning the licence was cancelled. The Deputy will appreciate, in relation to the omnibus position, particularly, in the City of Dublin, the importance of making the licensees adhere closely to the time table they themselves prepare, but anybody not familiar with that position would not necessarily attach the same importance to the fact that the time table had not been rigidly adhered to.

That is a question of fact and not a question of opinion.

It does not get us much further. The Minister did tell us that he believed the court would not have upheld him——

It might.

That is getting a little bit away from it. We were told distinctly that the Minister believed that he had properly refused the grant or renewal and that the court would not have upheld him. He tells us now that it was a question of a breach of a condition to keep to a time table. I do not know whether it is his evidence that is at fault. Did he get evidence of the breach?

Was there any doubt in his mind that the court would have regarded the evidence he could produce as good?

On the question of fact, there was no doubt.

Then the only question was would not the court have upheld that? I wonder why he says that the court might have refused. The Minister proceeds on the basis that the court will not regard public policy. Why does he say that? The courts have been known to do that and the courts do consider public policy and, if the courts had the Act before them, and had the Act which allowed regulations to be made in order to carry out certain things which were left a little bit vague in the Act, and, if these regulations were produced, I have not the slightest doubt in the world that the court would take that as material for its consideration in making up its mind as to whether there had, first of all, been a breach and, secondly, whether the breach was sufficiently serious as to warrant cancellation.

My point is that the Minister, advised by his Department, is more competent than a court to make that decision.

That is the net issue. Let us get away from the argument about public policy. It has been thrown overboard. The Minister agrees that public policy is entirely within his control by the regulations and modifications he can make within the four corners of the measure itself and the only thing, then, is the citizen's right to have a court decide, with the facts presented to it, with the measure presented to it and with the regulations presented to it, whether or not there has been, in fact, a breach, and, secondly, whether that breach is so serious as to warrant the refusal of renewal. That is the issue. I do not know why the Minister should refuse this. The conditions are definitely apart from those associated with the earlier measures in which this type of discretion was given to the Minister and I think it is about time that we made a new precedent in the new circumstances and, if necessary, the Minister might go back and amend the 1932 Act in the same way. If, as he says, there is an example before his mind of a refusal made under his authority which the courts would not have upheld, he really should go back and amend the earlier Act. This is a very ordinary right that is being asked for and, where there is property at stake, the people concerned should have that right not entirely subject to the Minister's sole discretion and the position should be that, on the rare occasions on which a man would want to go to the court to get a decision, he should be enabled to do so.

Would the Minister say what type of evidence he acts upon before he forms his opinion? Would he say whether the licensee is given an opportunity for making a case?

In relation to Section 18, where application for a renewal of licence has been made, there would, undoubtedly, be every opportunity given to the person to make his case. In the section power is given to cancel or alter the conditions of the licence during the term of the licence, and the person is given notice of that fact, and is entitled to make representations. In this case application for a renewal is made. The licensee is informed that he broke the conditions or, perhaps, that he was convicted on evidence, and then the question arises whether we should renew his licence or not. It may be refused on the ground that the renewal of the licence will conflict with sound policy. But every opportunity will be given the licensee. In fact, all Departments of State are much more likely to err in such cases in favour of the licensee rather than against him. In almost all such cases repeated opportunities are given to the licensee to rectify the matters complained of against him. In the case I referred to, three times during the six months, notice was given that the licence would be cancelled if things were not made right, and it was only after the third time that the licence was cancelled. That is always the case, and necessarily so, seeing the conditions and the responsibility that a Minister has to the Dáil. I could not contemplate any modification of the powers there. And apart altogether from the general question of the advisability of getting away from the bad precedent Deputy McGilligan has set and his Government established——

That the House has established.

That the House has established, we should secure the greatest possible uniformity in powers with the Act of 1932. In certain circumstances they might have been one Act, and our aim should be that the conditions that apply to one kind of transport should apply to another. If a change is made in the general practice it should be after this Act, not before.

The Minister said that people will be heard, but there is no obligation to hear anybody.

That is so, but the responsibility is there.

Amendment put and declared lost.

That governs amendments 56, 57, 58, 59, 60.

Amendments 61 and 62 not moved.
Section 18 agreed to.
SECTION 19.
Every renewal of a merchandise licence shall commence immediately upon the expiration of the licence or of the renewal of the licence (as the case may be) of which it is a renewal and shall (unless it previously lapses or is revoked under this Act, and subject to any suspension under this Act) continue in force for a period of twelve months from the date on which it commenced.

I move amendment 63:—

In line 42, to delete the word "shall" and to insert the words "whether actually granted upon the expiration of such licence or of the renewal thereof in force or at a subsequent date shall be expressed to".

This amendment is to meet a point to which I referred on amendment 53 and it was to be held over for consideration.

Yes. I will have it considered.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The same applies to amendment 64.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 19 agreed to.
Section 20 agreed to.
SECTION 21.
(1) The Minister may at any time revoke a merchandise licence upon the application of the licensee thereunder.
(2) The Minister may at any time on his own motion and at his absolute discretion revoke or suspend for such period as he shall think proper a merchandise licence on any ground on which he is authorised by this Act to refuse an application for the renewal of such licence.
(3) The Minister may at any time on his own motion and at his absolute discretion revoke a merchandise licence if he is satisfied that such licence was obtained by fraud or misrepresentation.

I move amendment 65:—

To delete sub-section (2).

This corresponds to a previous amendment moved on Section 15 and the same arguments apply.

Having passed 18, I think this should be passed. It is logical that if a Minister can refuse an application for a licence he should be able to revoke a licence.

Upon the Minister's own absolute discretion without notice to anybody?——

On the grounds that I have stated.

The Minister may tear up a licence without ground being given to anybody.

Ordinarily the licensee will have been informed that a breach of conditions has taken place, and he will be asked to put it right; or he might have been convicted in a court on evidence, and he would have reason to assume that the revocation of his licence was under consideration, if not decided upon. The practice has been, as I have said—I again quote the incident of a licence cancelled last week—where notice, not once, but several times, was given that unless the matter was put right the licence would be cancelled. Any Minister responsible to the Dáil would have to act in that manner.

Would the Minister say what would be the conditions where the licensee asked him to revoke a licence and the Minister refused. What obligation is the licensee under?

He is under the obligation to maintain the service which he undertook to maintain by his licence.

How can you compel a man to maintain a service that he does not want to maintain.

Somebody else might have been refused a licence because that service was already there. Recently, in the past six months, I have refused applications for licences on the grounds that somebody else was serving the route for which the licence was sought, and that an injustice would be done to those already on that route. The man on the route, therefore, should be held accountable for his failure.

I can understand the case where the Minister would say you have not carried out the promise on which you got your licence, but here is a licensee who applies to the Minister because he does not want to maintain his licence any longer, and who says I refuse to carry out the licence any longer.

It would constitute an offence under the Act.

When he comes to apply for a renewal he will not be granted a renewal. It is not very material.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment 66:—

In sub-section (3), page 10, lines 1 and 2, to delete the words "and at his absolute discretion."

Amendments 66 and 67 go together. I find it difficult to deal with this subparagraph at all. I knew there was going to be objection taken merely to moving to take out certain phrases but that is really the proper amendment— to take out "and at his absolute discretion," to take out "on his own motion" and to take out "if he is satisfied." I would leave it then that a merchandise licence may be revoked if it could be proved—of course it would be a matter of court proof—that it was obtained by fraud or misrepresentation. The Minister is now going to be as another Minister made himself in another Act, the judge hereafter of fraud or misrepresentation, one of the things about which, if the Minister is going to decide in any judicial fashion, he will have to read probably the biggest body of case law in relation to any matter. How he is going to do that I do not know. The phrase "if there is sufficient evidence" is intended definitely to bring in the right of appeal to a court, and that appeal would allow it to be decided to the satisfaction of everybody whether or not there was evidence of fraud or misrepresentation. I do not know how the Minister is going to decide that.

In this section we are only following precedent. Is the Deputy blaming the Dáil or the previous Government for the precedent?

The whole of Section 21 is word for word taken from the Road Transport Act of 1932.

I would be prepared to accept what is in that measure if the Minister will say: "We are following it in the whole," but if he is going to pick and choose, neglectful of the circumstances in which the phrases were used, and the conditions of the particular associations that were being dealt with, and the industry that was being dealt with, I do not think it is any answer. It might be a good retort to get the Minister out of an ugly position, and that is the beginning and the end of it.

Both this Bill and the Road Transport Act, 1932, are perfectly analogous.

People always have to learn if they are wise.

Has the Deputy learned?

I have. It is wrong to introduce that any Minister is to determine whether a licence has been obtained by fraud or misrepresentation. It is a most difficult thing.

Is the Deputy withdrawing the amendment?

Yes, I will take the division on amendment 67.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment 67:—

In sub-section (3), page 10, line 2, to delete the words "if he is satisfied" and substitute the words "if there is sufficient evidence".

Question—"That the words proposed to be deleted stand"—put.
The Committee divided. —Tá: 59; Níl: 43.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Corkery, Daniel.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Doherty, Joseph.
  • Donnelly, Eamon.
  • Dowdall, Thomas P.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Hales, Thomas.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Kissane, Eamonn.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O'Dowd, Patrick.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Kelly, Seán Thomas.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C. (Dr.).

Níl

  • Alton, Ernest Henry.
  • Anthony, Richard.
  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Burke, Patrick.
  • Byrne, Alfred.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Davin, William.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Davitt, Robert Emmet.
  • MacDermot, Frank.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGilligan, Patrick.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Minch, Sydney B.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Norton, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Dolan, James Nicholas.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Good, John.
  • Keating, John.
  • Kent, William Rice.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • O'Connor, Batt.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Reidy, James.
  • Thrift, William Edward.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Traynor; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.
Amendment declared defeated.
Section 21 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
SECTION 22.
(1) A merchandise licence shall not be transferable by the licensee or by operation of law to any other person.
(2) Where the ownership of a merchandise road transport business has been transferred, whether by act of the parties or operation of law, from the licensee under the merchandise licence relating to such business to another person the following provisions shall have effect, that is to say:—
(a) if such licensee is neither an authorised (merchandise carrying) company nor a shipping company, the following provisions shall have effect, that is to say:—
(i) in case such person is an authorised (merchandise carrying) company, a shipping company, or a relative of such licensee or in case such person has become entitled to such business under a will or intestacy, the Minister shall, on the application of such person, transfer such licence to such person,
(ii) in any other case the Minister may, on the application of such person transfer if he so thinks proper such licence to such person;
(b) if such licensee is an authorised (merchandise carrying) company or a shipping company, the following provisions shall have effect, that is to say:—
(i) in case such person is an authorised (merchandise carrying) company or a shipping company, the Minister shall, on the application of such person, transfer such licence to such person,
(ii) in any other case such licence shall cease to be in force.
(3) Every application for the transfer of a merchandise licence under this section shall be in the prescribed form and contain the prescribed particulars.
(4) Where a merchandise licence is transferred under this section such licence shall be deemed to have been transferred as on the date on which the business to which such licence relates is transferred.
(5) For the purposes of this section each of the following persons and no other person shall be the relative of a licensee, that is to say, the husband of such licensee, the wife of such licensee, and any person related by blood to such licensee in the first, second, or third degree.

I move:—

In sub-section (1), line 4, to insert at the beginning of the sub-section the words "Save as provided by this Act".

This is a drafting amendment.

I am afraid I do not understand it. The Bill does not provide for any exceptions. I do not think the words could possibly have any meaning as they stand. The Bill provides that a licence cannot be transferred by law, consequently these words are not required. There are no exceptions covered by the words.

Surely the Bill provides for the transfer of licence in certain cases. That is the operation of law.

Oh, no. The Minister may transfer a licence in certain cases which are set out.

In accordance with the Bill?

That is the drafting amendment that is suggested.

No. Sub-section (1) states that a merchandise licence shall not be transferable by the licensee or by operation of law to any other person. There is no exception to that. In certain cases the Minister may transfer a licence from one person to another but the licensee cannot transfer his licence.

That is the question. I wish the Minister would explain whether in law the licensee does not transfer his licence if he goes to the Minister and asks that he might give up the licence in order that the licence may be transferred to another person.

If the Minister transfers, how does he do it?

He transfers from one person to another.

But how? Under what authority? Under the authority of the law?

Under the authority of the Bill.

But in the first subsection you say that it shall not be transferable by operation of law.

By the licensee.

"By the licensee" does not govern that. Does the Minister take part in transferring the licence under the measure?

He does, therefore, transfer it under the law. Then he says the licence shall not be transferred by operation of law.

I think the meaning is that it shall not be transferred by any other law. I will have the draft of the section looked into. It is purely a drafting point.

That is all Deputy Thrift said.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendments 69, 70 and 71:—

In sub-section (2) (a), line 11, to delete the word "neither" and substitute the word "not."

In sub-section (2) (a), line 12, to delete the words "nor a shipping company".

In sub-section (2) (a) (i), line 15, to delete the words "a shipping company".

These are all consequential amendments.

Amendments put and agreed to.

I move to report progress.

Progress reported. Committee to sit again this evening.