Road Transport Bill, 1933.—From the Seanad.

The Dáil went into Committee to consider amendments to the Road Transport Bill, 1933, by the Seanad.

Amendments 1 and 2 are associated and I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in these amendments:—

Amendment 1:

Section 2. Lines 13-17 inclusive deleted in page 4.

Amendment 2:

New section. Before Section 3 a new section inserted as follows:—

3.—(1) Any person who claims that he is a person who carried on an existing merchandise road transport business, within the meaning of this section, or that he is the successor in title to a person who carried on an existing merchandise road transport business may, not later than one month after the date of the passing of this Act, apply to the Minister for the grant of a certificate under this section.

(2) Every application under this section shall be in writing and shall state fully the facts upon which the applicant claims that he or his predecessor in title is a person who carried on an existing merchandise road transport business.

(3) Where any application is made to the Minister under and in accordance with this section, the Minister shall, if, but only if, he is satisfied that the applicant or his predecessor in title is a person who carried on an existing merchandise road transport business, issue a certificate to the applicant accordingly, and any person to whom a certificate is issued under this section and no other person shall be an existing carrier for the purposes of this Act.

(4) A person shall for the purposes of this section be a person who carried on an existing merchandise road transport business, if he was carrying on such existing merchandise road transport business at the date of the passing of this Act and such business was during the whole of the period necessary to constitute it an existing merchandise road transport business carried on either by such person or successively by persons from or through whom such person claims to be entitled to such business and by such person.

(5) For the purposes of this section the following provisions shall have effect, that is to say:—

(a) each of the following shall be an existing merchandise road transport business, that is to say:—

(i) any merchandise road transport business which was commenced after the 1st day of July, 1932, and before the 8th day of February, 1933, and was carried on in the manner required by this sub-section during the whole of the period beginning on the date of such commencement and ending on the date of the passing of this Act,

(ii) a merchandise road transport business which was carried on in the manner required by this sub-section during the whole of the period beginning on the 1st day of July, 1932, and ending on the date of the passing of this Act.

(b) a merchandise road transport business shall not be deemed to have been carried on in the manner required by this sub-section during any period unless during such period such business was

(i) having regard to its nature, carried on with reasonable continuity, and

(ii) carried on with mechanically-propelled vehicles duly licensed in Saorstát Eireann under Section 13 of the Finance Act, 1920, as amended by subsequent enactments.

The matter dealt with in these amendments was discussed when the Bill was passing through the Dáil. There was a question raised concerning the definition of "existing carrier." A question was raised in the Seanad also as regards this matter and, finally, this amendment was produced to deal with the situation. It provides that any person claiming to be an existing carrier can apply to the Minister for a certificate to that effect. The definition of "existing carrier" is one who has carried on a bona fide transport business from 1st July to the passing of the Act, with reasonable continuity, having regard to its nature. The person who gets the certificate is then automatically entitled to a licence. The amendments do not involve any change in the principle, but merely effect a change in the machinery.

With regard to the question of "reasonable continuity," will the Minister be empowered, under that phrase, to consider the case of a man who is driving his own lorry and who is incapacitated for several months? Could the Minister take that circumstance into account in deciding whether or not a service had been carried on with "reasonable continuity?"

Yes. To some extent, this amendment is designed to meet unusual cases of that kind and to give a certain amount of discretion in determining whether an applicant is an "existing carrier" or not.

Amendments agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendments 3, 4 and 5 as follows:—

Section 3. After the word "vehicle" in line 41 the words "or a vehicle drawn by a mechanically-propelled vehicle" inserted.

Section 8, sub-section (1). Before the word "road" in line 57 the word "merchandise" inserted.

Section 10, sub-section (2). After the word "licensed" in line 59 the words "in Saorstát Eireann" inserted.

Amendments agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendments 6 and 7 as follows:—

Section 37, sub-section (1). After the word "months" in line 59 the words "or such longer period as the Minister may allow" inserted.

Section 38, sub-section (1). After the word "months" in line 29 the words "or such longer period as the Minister may allow" inserted.

These are really drafting amendments and they permit of a certain amount of elasticity in the periods fixed in the Bill.

Amendments agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment 8 as follows:—

Section 50, sub-section (2). Before the word "send" in line 14 the following words inserted:—"at any time (other than during the period commencing at the expiration of one year after the date of the passing of this Act and ending at the expiration of three years after the said date)."

This amendment is designed to meet a certain objection raised by persons licensed under the Road Transport Act, 1932, to the provisions in this Bill. These persons contended that if application were made to have their licences transferred under the compulsory section to an authorised merchandise carrying company and if that application was refused, they should be protected against further application being made on the initiative of an authorised carrying company for some period following the rejection of the first application. It was not possible to meet that view entirely, but this device was adopted as going some part of the way towards meeting the objection. It provides that the Bill shall operate as intended for a year but at the end of one year there shall be, as it were, a close season for omnibus operators during which no order for the compulsory transfer of the licence can be made. At the end of the three years, we hope the position will have so regularised itself that there will be no further question of compulsory orders.

Amendment agreed to.

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in amendment No. 9:—

Section 56. The section deleted and a new section substituted therefor as follows:—

56.—(1) Where an arbitrator in any arbitration before him for fixing compensation under this Part of this Act awards compensation, such arbitrator may, if he so thinks fit, award to the person entitled to such compensation, in addition to such compensation, such sum as he thinks reasonable to cover the expenses of such person in relation to such arbitration, and any sum so awarded shall be payable by the person liable under this Part of this Act to pay such compensation.

(2) Where

(a) a transfer order or a reduction order in relation to a merchandise (existing carrier's) licence is made on the application of an authorised (merchandise carrying) company, or a transfer order in relation to a passenger licence is made on the application of an authorised (passenger carrying) company, and

(b) an arbitrator in arbitration before him for fixing the compensation payable under this Part of this Act in respect of such order to the licensee under such licence does not award compensation,

such arbitrator may, if he so thinks fit, award to such licensee such sum as he thinks reasonable to cover the expenses of such licensee in relation to such arbitration, and any sum so awarded shall be payable by the company upon whose application such order was made.

This is intended to provide that the arbitrator may award costs if he thinks fit. As the Bill originally stood he was required to award costs to the person whose licence was transferred, payable by the transferee. The section now, with amendment No. 9, leaves it to his discretion.

Amendment agreed to.

I move that the Dáil agrees with the Seanad in amendment 10:—

Section 58. The words "by the person liable under this Part of this Act to pay such compensation" deleted in lines 20-21 and the following words substituted therefor:—"by, in case such arbitrator awards compensation, the person liable under this Part of this Act to pay such compensation or, in case such arbitrator does not award compensation, the person who, if compensation had been awarded in such arbitration, would have been liable under this Part of this ‘Act to pay such compensation."

This is really a consequential amendment. It provides that where costs are not awarded the fee of the arbitrator shall nevertheless be paid by the transferee.

Amendment agreed to.

I move that the Committee agrees with the Seanad in amendment No. 11:—

Section 73, sub-section (2). The words and figures "When fixing the charges necessary to produce the standard revenue, within the meaning of Section 53" deleted in lines 45-46 and the words and figures "In any review under Section 54" substituted therefor.

This is purely a drafting amendment.

Amendment agreed to.
The Dáil went out of Committee.
Amendments reported and agreed to.

A message will be sent to the Seanad accordingly.