I move amendment 1:—
In page 5, line 10, Section 7 (1) (a), to delete the word "fifteen" and substitute the word "eight".
The inclusion of this section in the Bill is, as has been previously stated from these benches, the most objectionable feature of this whole measure, and the amendments that are now moved are moved with the sole object of bringing the principle contained in this section into line with the Minister's previous political pronouncements concerning the transport policy of the Fianna Fáil Government. I read for members of the House on Committee Stage a statement made here by the Minister in which he said that the transport policy of the Fianna Fáil Party at the time was unification under public ownership and, in so far as the Fianna Fáil Government had any policy, their policy was to put transport services in municipal areas under municipal control. The Minister, in my opinion. made no case whatever for exempting from the provisions of this Bill the areas where traffic is densest and greatest, and where regulation is most necessary.
It is a peculiar state of affairs that the Minister claims that the Bill is one for the regulation and control and, presumably, the unification at some time or another, by voluntary or compulsory methods, of the transport services of the State. If regulation and control are necessary anywhere, surely they are necessary in the areas where you have dense traffic like we have in the cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford. Personally, I do not think that there is any case for bringing the other cities or towns named in this section within the ambit of the exempted areas. By reducing the exempted areas in Dublin and Cork from 15 miles to eight miles, you are, so far as I can see from a map of the cities concerned, limiting the operation of the exemption clause to the municipal boundaries—in some cases, probably outside, but as closely as they can possibly be brought, within the municipal area—and thereby making it possible for this or some other Minister who may come after him and who may have more courage to carry out the policy of the Fianna Fáil Government than, apparently, this Minister has, to bring the transport services in municipal areas under municipal control.
We are anxious that the Minister would accept this in order to bring the measure, in so far as it affects the working of this section, within the confines of his own policy, that is, in so far as policy pronouncements from the Minister and the Ministry are worth anything. There is no case whatever for bringing Ballina or Westport within the ambit of the exempted areas. I understand that the population of Westport is something in or about 3,400, whereas Kilkenny, which does not come within the range of the exempted areas, has a population of about 10,000. There is no sense or meaning of any kind in the policy aimed at in this particular section except to give full freedom to operate anywhere and under any conditions they like to certain privileged persons who may engage in transport services within the areas now laid down in the Bill. That should be limited as far as it is possible to limit it.
The Minister contended during the previous discussion on this section that it would be impossible to administer the measure without making provision for exemption in the cases of the cities and towns named. I think that the administrative difficulties that will be created by the inclusion of the exempted areas clause is going to make it impossible to administer the measure as a whole. I suggest that the amendment now moved in the name of Deputy Norton and myself would make it much easier, if accepted, to administer this section of the Bill and, also, would remove many of the administrative difficulties that the Minister spoke of in previous discussions.