I move amendment No. 23:—
Before Section 26 to insert a new section as follows:—
Notwithstanding Section 9 of the Road Transport Act, 1933, a person whose only or chief occupation is farming may, without being the holder of a merchandise licence, carry for reward in a vehicle drawn by a tractor owned by him livestock owned by a person resident not more than two miles from the carrier's residence if the livestock are being carried to or from a farm from or to a livestock auction mart on the day on which the auction takes place at that mart and they are not being carried in either direction on any part of a public road which is more than twenty miles by public road from his residence.
The Beddy Committee recommended that the provisions of the Road Transport Act should be amended to permit farmers to carry for reward by means of a tractor and trailer the goods of neighbouring farmers resident within two miles of the tractor owner, subject to the condition that the carriage for reward should be limited to farm produce and requisites within that radius. They urged that that concession should not affect the eligibility of the tractor owner for the reduced annual taxation rate. I considered that recommendation very carefully and decided I could not accept it, that it would be impracticable to circumscribe the concessions effectively to ensure that farmers would not engage in haulage for reward on a commercial scale in unfair competition with the public undertakings and licensed hauliers.
Therefore, the Bill as introduced did not contain any proposal to give effect to that recommendation of the Beddy Committee. But since the Bill was circulated, I met representatives of the National Farmers' Association who limited their representations to the particular point raised in this amendment. They asked that the Road Transport Act should be amended so as to permit a farmer to carry cattle to an auction mart on a day an action was being held and that the concession should be confined to servicing other farmers living within a two-mile radius of the farm of the tractor owner. Their argument was that a new type of traffic need has arisen, in consequence of the development of these auction marts, which cannot conveniently be met by any of the existing transport services, and that if that concession were allowed, a benefit would accrue to C.I.E., in the sense that the collection of cattle in these marts offers to C.I.E. the type of transport business they are seeking, that is, a large volume of freight of a specialised kind collected at a particular centre on a particular day.
I considered the representations they made and I felt considerable sympathy with them. I discussed the matter very fully with them and I emphasised my desire to ensure that no concession of this kind could possibly bring into existence a new type of transport operator who would be seeking to get a livelihood from the provision of this service and who, in default of being able to get a sufficient livelihood, might be tempted into another type of illegal haulage. I feel that, subject to the conditions set out in the amendment, this facility could be allowed without undue risk, that is to say, to allow a farmer, a person whose only or chief occupation is farming, to undertake this service for his neighbour, to carry by means of tractor and trailer live stock owned by a person resident not more than two miles from him, subject to the condition that the live stock is being carried to and from an auction mart on a day on which an auction is taking place and subject also to the over-all limitation that the distance which the live stock can be transported by public road is not more than 20 miles.
I cannot see that that facility can in fact do any harm to C.I.E. I do not think they could provide the type of service which is required and, as I said, it is a new type of transport need which C.I.E. is not equipped to handle. The likelihood is that C.I.E. would be facilitated by the extension of this facility. Indeed, I think I should say that on that occasion the National Farmers' Association paid tribute to the efficiency with which C.I.E. is handling the transport problem arising at these auction marts in the transport of cattle from the marts to their destinations. They believe that the whole operation would be greatly facilitated, both from their point of view and from C.I.E.'s point of view, if this facility were allowed.
I undertook to bring an amendment to the Dáil and that is what I am doing now. I do not think the danger I had to safeguard against is likely to arise from it—the danger of a new type of transport operator coming along who would seek to supplement what he could get from this operation by engaging in other transport operations—provided it is limited to tractors and limited to the conveyance of live stock to auction marts on the day such marts are held.