Committee on Finance. - Transport Bill, 1958—Committee Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following amendment:—
15. To delete sub-section (1) and substitute a new sub-section as follows:—
(1) The board may not close to navigation any canal or part of a canal belonging to it save with the consent of the Minister who shall before giving such consent, seek the views of interested parties and also consult with the Commissioners of Public Works as to the feasibility in all the circumstances of maintaining such canal or such part of a canal as a navigable waterway.—(Deputy Norton.)

Before the debate was adjourned I had been referring to the economic advantages which could be derived by the nation from the utilisation of the channelled waterways for the transport of goods and to the unrivalled facilities which these two waterways offer to tourists, especially foreign tourists. I think—and I think it is recognised now by the Minister for Lands—that in our appeal to members of coarse fishing clubs in England, who have a membership of approximately 3,000,000, there are considerable possibilities of augmenting our tourist income. That can be done by encouraging the use of the Grand Canal for cruising, boating and fishing purposes as a means of giving our people pleasurable entry into the enthralling beauty of the general waterway itself and the lakes which lung out from that magnificent water highway.

It would be a pity, at this stage especially, if we were capriciously to decide to give C.I.E. power to abandon the canals because if the Grand Canal, for example, is abandoned, it reduces considerable the advantages which we can now offer in the form of boating facilities between the east coast and the West of Ireland. I see nothing in the economics of C.I.E. which justifies giving them power to abandon the Grand Canal system.

When I was referring to that just before I reported progress, the Minister invited me to read my 1950 speech which I thought indicated that the Minister had done some research into the speeches which I made on transport that year. One of my colleagues, who apparently did not know the Minister as well as I do, took the trouble of looking up the transport debate in this House in 1950 only to discover that in fact I did not speak on the Bill at all because I was not the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

A slight historical inaccuracy.

I said to my colleague: "What you did was most commendable, but if you knew the Minister for Industry and Commerce as well as I do, you would know that he has brought to a fine art this old game of chancing your arm and making statements which have no foundation in fact or truth whatever."

But the Deputy voted on it.

The Minister should not try to mend his hand. He should lay his cards on the table, no jokers up his sleeve in this debate. I said: "If you did know that the Minister was such a specialist in chancing his arm, you would not have wasted your valuable time in pursuing this matter. It is one of the many demonstrations which the Minister gives of resorting to the low-down and thoroughly disreputable practice of making statements which he knows have no foundation whatever in fact."

Nothing I said in 1950 or any other year is inconsistent with anything I am saying now or inconsistent with the logic of the situation. As a matter of principle, I do not think we ought to give C.I.E. power to close a canal and nothing that C.I.E. would say from now till the end of the year would induce me to believe that they are right or wise in seeking to close a canal.

I remember many years ago when the wiseacres of the then G.S.R. decided that they would single the line from Dublin to Galway. That was then recommended to everybody as something that was essential something that was sensible, the postponement of which could not be further delayed. In due course, one line, virtually the whole way from Dublin to Galway, 135 miles, was ripped up. About three years ago, I had the melancholy experience of finding the directors of C.I.E. coming to see me to ask if there was any chance that they could get £900,000 to relay the line to Galway.

Does the Deputy remember who was responsible for that?

Who was responsible does not matter. Would the Minister like to have a guess as to who was responsible? Maybe he would be more accurate this time. Who was responsible does not matter at all. All I am talking about is the crazy economics of tearing up 135 miles of railway line and coming to me three years ago to ask: "Do you know of any place where we would be likely to get £900,000 to relay the line?" They realised, as I said then, that they could not compete with road haulage, unless they could give a faster service by doubling the line. They could not give a faster service so long as they had to work on the principle of keeping a train at a junction until another train passed by.

As surely as we are deciding to give C.I.E. power to close these canals, and if they do close them, some later generation sitting in this House will have recommended to them a decision to reopen the canals for navigation which they will have realised to be more economic than they were at the time C.I.E. abandoned the canals under the powers we are giving them in this Bill.

C.I.E. ought not to be allowed to perform that operation in regard to vital waterways in this country. I do not trust their knowledge, their skill or their ingenuity to pass judgment on that question. They know nothing about what the future development in tourist traffic will be. They know nothing about what the public taste is likely to be. They cannot assess, and have no ability or experience to assess, what the tourist potential of the canal and the Shannon is and as to what extent they will attract visitors to use these waterways for boating, cruising and fishing.

The House should refuse to give authority to C.I.E. to close these canals for navigation purposes. They should be kept open, and C.I.E., in conjunction with Board Fáilte, ought to boost the tourist possibilities of the Grand Canal and the Shannon. If that were done, I am quite sure it would attract a great number of visitors to spend their holidays along these delightful waterways. I still believe that there is a transport potential on these waterways and I do not believe that the closing of the canal would in any way divert to C.I.E. the traffic which is now being carried on these canals. The curtailment of the transport on the canals has not meant a diversion of that traffic to C.I.E.; rather has it gone to the licensed haulier and perhaps the illegal haulier.

The House should ask C.I.E. to exercise the powers given to them under this Bill to make a success of their undertaking. At this stage, and until we have further experience of the ability of C.I.E. to carry out the tasks assigned to them in a new climate and under new circumstances as are envisaged in this Bill, we ought not to give them power to truncate the excellent waterways which we have in this country both for transport, if we desire to use them, and for the development of our tourist potential as well.

The matter can be looked at at the end of five years when we must have fresh transport legislation to deal with some of the matters in this Bill which are left over for further review. It is not unreasonable to say to C.I.E.: "Go and make a success of the undertaking as a result of the new powers given in this Bill, and we shall look at the canal situation five years hence." That is the least the Minister ought to do, seeing that C.I.E. are getting valuable concessions in this Bill. They will be given three main facilities from their point of view. They will have debts to the extent of £16,500,000 written off; they will have power to close branch likes without obligation to provide alternative road services, and power to abandon canals for navigation purposes, and on top of that they are given power to abandon the responsibility which reposed in them as common carriers. The Minister ought to save the canals from destruction by C.I.E. Let us look at the situation five years hence in the light of how C.I.E. can perform with new and exceptional facilities which are being provided for them by way of relief from obligations under this Bill.

Deputy Norton's speech had relevance neither to the policy which he, as a member of the Government, recommended to the House in 1950 nor to the amendment he has just moved. Would the Deputy look at the amendment?

Let us get some accuracy into this. I said I wanted to discuss this matter against the background of the section. I have an amendment down to oppose the section and my speech was in opposition to the section as a whole.

The section makes little or no change in the law as it was established by the Government of which the Deputy was a Minister in 1950. Any changes in the law are purely coincidental. The Deputy was a member of the Government which decided to foist the canals on C.I.E. C.I.E. did not want them. They told the then Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Norton, that they did not want them. They said that if they got the canals their sole concern would be to close them down as quickly as possible. They were still given them canals and they were given the power that they could withdraw, without anybody's consent on prior notification, the services of barges which they were operating on one of the canals. They were also given power to close the canal, if all services of barges were withdrawn, with the consent of the Transport Tribunal. The only difference in this section is that the Transport Tribunal having been abolished it is no longer necessary to seek its consent. Otherwise the law is precisely as Deputy Norton thought it should be in 1950.

I remember that debate well. I was opposed to the idea of handing over the canals to C.I.E. I moved an amendment to the Bill to try to prevent that and challenged a division on it. I asked the Government if they could name a single canal in the world which after being handed over to a railway company had survived for five years. Yet they persisted in their decision to hand over the canals to C.I.E. against the protests of C.I.E. and in the knowledge that the management of C.I.E. had said that if they got the canals their sole concern would be to get rid of them as quickly as possible—but that is all irrelevant to this section. This section does not change the law one iota. At the present time C.I.E. has no obligation to maintain a service of barges on the Grand Canal. They could stop it to-morrow if they wanted to do it, so far as the law is concerned. At present, if a canal is in fact not used for three years and no barge has passed up or down it, C.I.E. can get authority to abandon it. The only change which this section makes in that respect is this. In the arrangement under the 1950 Act they had to apply to the tribunal before abandoning the canal and in future they will be able to do it when the three years have elapsed during which nobody used the canal, having given necessary public notice of their intention.

Does public navigation mean private firms or individuals using the canal as distinct from C.I.E.?

The precise difference between Deputy Norton's amendment and mine is this. Deputy Norton says C.I.E. can abandon the canal with the consent of the Minister and I have put in an amendment which enables C.I.E. to close the canal if it has not been used for public navigation for three years or more——

Public navigation includes private firms or individuals?

I want to deal now entirely with this question of canals as a means of transport. Whether or not there is any case for keeping canals open as a tourist attraction, I do not know. I doubt it. Certainly if the Beddy Committee are correct in saying that C.I.E. will save over £100,000 by ceasing operations on the canals there is no case for it, but if anybody thinks there is a case for it C.I.E. is prepared to give them the canals, locks and stocks and everything else free of all liability.

There are two canals, as Deputies are aware. The Royal Canal is not being used by anyone. Is it sensible to keep on C.I.E. the obligation of maintaining it as a canal when nobody uses it? Must there not be some means by which C.I.E. can, in fact, get out of the obligation to maintain it and abandon a canal which nobody wants to use? It is mainly in relation to the Royal Canal that my amendment is put down so far as matters stand now.

There are barges operating on the Grand Canal, C.I.E. barges and, I think, two others operated by private enterprise. In relation to the continued operation of these barges, the position of C.I.E. under the 1950 Act is that they have no legal obligation to continue operating them, but whether or not they will in fact withdraw them is a matter which they will decide in the light of their own consideration of the commercial consequence of maintaining them and the facilities they provide for their customers.

Suppose nobody wants to use barges and C.I.E. has to withdraw them. Suppose that for three years no boat travels up or down the canal. Should we still keep the canal there as a tourist attraction? It does not make sense to me; it did not make sense to the Government of which Deputy Norton was a member in 1950. My conclusion from the facts is just the same now as it was then. We cannot resurrect the canal company and give them back their canal because their organisation has been completely integrated in the C.I.E. organisation. Therefore, we have to consider the situation in which C.I.E. has these canals which they do not want and on which they are losing money. We are prepared to put them in this situation in regard to the canals: that where nobody has used a canal for three long years for any purpose they can abandon it. If anybody does use it, they cannot abandon it but they are not under any obligation to maintain barges of their own in service unless they——

Will the Minister make it clear whether anybody may use it? Even if a single individual uses it for cruising or pleasure? Must it be for transport purposes?

Representations have been made by an organisation called The Inland Waterways Association regarding the continuation of the canals for purely pleasure purposes. That is a point of view with which I would have some sympathy but, as purely practical men, let us consider how much should the taxpayers pay to keep the canals in operation when they cease to be of any commercial value and solely for the convenience of a very limited number of people who may have yachts and may wish to bring them down the canals? To say C.I.E. can save £100,000, I think is saying too much. Indeed, I would argue that those who think the canals should be retained for that purpose should approach the problem on an entirely different basis from that of putting an obligation on C.I.E. to maintain them regardless of cost when they are no longer serving a transport need. C.I.E. is a transport organisation. Its job is to provide transport facilities and not amenities for yacht owners or tourist attractions. I would not support the plea that the canals should be retained for these limited uses when they are no longer required for the purpose of transport services.

That is not quite the position as regards the Grand Canal. There are commercial firms sending goods by canal on C.I.E. barges who have urged that the withdrawal of these facilities would be injurious to them, that the system of transportation by way of canal suits their business and that they would not wish to see the services withdrawn. The position in that regard will be the same in the future as in the past. In the past, C.I.E. have had the right to withdraw barges any time they wanted. They will consider any representations and make their own decisions on the commercial prospects of operation, whether they can get back in charges for the services they render enough to meet the cost of providing the services.

But in the case of the Royal Canal, I see no point whatever in putting on C.I.E. an obligation to maintain it when in fact nobody has used it for years. Indeed, that was the decision taken in 1950 when C.I.E. were given power to abandon it, subject to a decision by the Transport Tribunal in favour of their application. Their failure to avail of that particular procedure was more due to defects in the manner in which the section was phrased in the Bill rather than to any desire to maintain the canal when it was not being used.

For the information of the House, C.I.E. wanted to withdraw their services of barges from the canal many years ago. I do not know what represenations they made to Deputy Morrissey when he was Minister for Industry and Commerce, but shortly after I resumed office in 1951, they approached me to tell me that they never wanted the obligation to operate services and that they proposed to withdraw their services of barges very shortly afterwards. I urged them at that time to continue the services of barges. The railway system had not then been reconstituted, the capital investment programme had not been begun and it seemed to me that the transport requirements of the country justified the retention of the services.

Whether I would give them similar advice now, I do not know. It would depend very largely on the importance of the provision of these facilities for the commercial firms still using the canals. I would not be able to assess that, nor would it be my job to assess it. Under the Bill, it would be the job of the C.I.E. management. As far as the Bill is concerned, it makes no change in the law except the one change I indicated. At present, under the 1950 Act, C.I.E. have full power to withdraw canal barges. Deputy Sweetman asked why there was a three years' period in this section rather than the five years' period in other sections. The answer is that the 1950 Act established that condition: that they could proceed to abandon a canal when it had not been used for three years. It seems to me that is long enough anyway to test whether anybody wants to use the canal.

Would the Minister mind answering a question which I put? The Minister said that anybody can use the canal. What does the Minister mean by "anybody"?

How does the Deputy mean?

In the course of his speech, the Minister said that if the public want the canal, anybody can use it. What does "anybody" mean? Does it mean that a single citizen can sail a small boat down the canal?

There is a public right of navigation in the canal. Anybody can use the canal. If the Inland Waterways Association decide to keep the canal in existence by using it, they can, under the provisions of the Bill as drafted, ensure that it may not be abandoned.

Suppose three people annually sail three boats down the Grand Canal. They will be using the canal?

I think so.

That would prevent C.I.E. from closing it?

That is my interpretation of the law: a limited number of boats using the canal in the year would create a situation in which C.I.E. would not have power to abandon the canal. If there was any argument about what constitutes use of the canal, it would have to be settled by the courts. If any of the firms now using C.I.E. barges decide to use their own barges on the withdrawal of C.I.E. services or if the Inland Waterways Association decided to use the canal by boats owned by their members, it ensures that C.I.E. cannot abandon the canal.

Is that certain?

If one, two or three boats go down the canal once a year, that constitutes "use" for the purpose of the amendment?

If the canal has not been used for public navigation for three years or more——

It would be used if the Minister or myself went down in a boat once a year?

I am not quite sure of the significance of "public navigation" I think we would have to pay a toll.

Suppose we could get over that, do I take it C.I.E. cannot close the canal? May I take it the Minister says "yes" to that question: that C.I.E. cannot close the canal, once it is used by any person for that purpose?

Any person using the canal and paying for the right to use the canal.

For pleasure or for business?

I take it whatever charge would be imposed would be the same on an individual? It would not vary because of the fact that only one person was using it?

C.I.E. are not under any legal obligation.

I suppose it is not relevant at this stage to deal with the question of the acquisition of the Grand Canal Company by C.I.E. We might as well discuss whether the D.U.T.C. wanted to be amalgamated with the G.S.R. The answer would be "no", just the same as the Grand Canal Company. The Minister should consider the wisdom of the suggestion in these amendments. There is this difference between the law as it stands at the moment and the section in this Bill, that hitherto the Transport Tribunal had to give a closing order before C.I.E. could close the canal. Now, if the Bill goes through in its present form, without hearing the views of any interested parties, C.I.E. can close it themselves.

Admittedly, the traffic on the canal has declined considerably. On the other hand, quite a number of traders still use it. I have received representations from one trader who sent me particulars to show that for six months of this year the firm had 70,000 barrels of grain carried by the Grand Canal Company. It does not follow that in a year they would carry twice that, because grain haulage is a seasonal business. They go on to make the point that a number of warehouses and stores are built on the canal, quite a number of mills belonging to either malsters or millers are erected on, or in close proximity to, the present canal system and that factor does lend itself to the satisfactory carriage of grain and malt. In fact, I think the Sugar Company at peak periods of the year carry beet on it.

There is then the question that arose before. It is a question that could arise again. During the emergency, when no alternative system of transport was available, the canals were used, and used satisfactorily. Nowadays, most canal barges are operated by means of oil. Consequently, if there was another crisis like the Suez incident, a shortage of oil might affect that form of transport, but, in view of the fact that so far the canal is in a satisfactory condition for usage, I would suggest that the Minister should either accept the amendment in Deputy Norton's name, or in the name of some of the other Deputies, or alternatively extend the period in his own amendment to five years.

If this Bill has a life of five years, there is no reason why the three years enshrined in the 1950 Act should not be extended, particularly as under that Act the Transport Tribunal could hear the evidence of interested parties. As this Bill stands, C.I.E. can themselves decide to close the canal and they require no ministerial sanction. Neither are they obliged to take into account the fact that other private firms may use it. In all the circumstances, therefore, I believe there is a good deal to be said for caution in this regard, because not all C.I.E.'s decisions in the past have been characterised by great wisdom and there is something to be said for postponing a decision on this matter until we see, at any rate, how the workings and the operation of the canal will proceed for a few more years.

I do not want to leave the House under any misapprehension. C.I.E. are anxious to withdraw their service of barges on the Grand Canal. They have always been anxious to do that. They have maintained that service reluctantly and at considerable loss. They have always had the power to withdraw that service without reference to anyone and they will continue to have that power in the future. Whether or not they will withdraw will no doubt depend upon the commercial situation to which I have already referred. If they withdraw their barges then, of course, other people who wish to do so can operate barges. There are some private traders operating barges on the canal and, so long as they continue to operate, they can prevent C.I.E. from closing the canal. It is only where there has been no exercise of the public right of navigation for a period of three years that C.I.E. has power to close the canals.

In the case of the Royal Canal, no barges have operated on it since 1951 and I should imagine that C.I.E. will proceed forthwith to withdraw the right of navigation and take measures to ensure that their obligations in relation to the canal will be preserved at minimum cost. They will have to undertake certain works in order to meet the statutory condition that they must prevent flooding and have regard to drainage facilities which the canal may afford.

In the case of the Royal Canal, while I would not attempt to forecast what C.I.E. may do with their own barges, so far as the law is concerned they will have to keep the canal open if the canal is used. If it is not used, there is no obligation and, in that regard, the position will be the same as it has always been since C.I.E. were given the canals. Under the 1950 Act, which was imperfectly framed, the consent of the tribunal had to be obtained, but I do not think that mattered much and nobody could visualise any tribunal of sensible people not giving the right to close a canal in circumstances where C.I.E. can show that nobody, in fact, uses the canal. Therefore, the change this Bill makes in that regard is of very minor consequence.

I do not think it is of minor significance at all. The Transport Tribunal which C.I.E. always regarded as a fetter and a shackle on them——

And rightly so. That is what it was intended to be.

——did provide some security from the point of view of the public inasmuch as the whole question was thrown into the arena for discussion and public opinion could be brought to bear on the directors of C.I.E. They do not own the railway company or the canals and they must have regard to public opinion. Through the medium of the Transport Tribunal, one had an opportunity of bringing the public point of view to bear on the tribunal and on the directors of C.I.E. against their pursuing a course on which they might have decided to embark.

At this stage, we need not bother with comparisons between the 1950 Act and the present Bill. I gather the Minister is now prepared to say that this amendment provides that, if any member of the public uses the canal for transport or pleasure, C.I.E. will thereby be prevented from closing the canal. If the canal is used by a member of the public or by a firm for transport or pleasure at any time during the year, that fact will prevent C.I.E. from closing the canal. That is what the Minister said in reply to my previous inquiry. That is his explanation of this section.

The Deputy cannot keep it open by getting a rowboat and rowing up and down between the third and fourth lock. The public right of navigation must be exercised.

So long as some people genuinely use the canal for the purpose of sailing boats down to Shannon, the position is safeguarded.

The same as a right of way.

Provided they pay the toll.

Provided they pay the toll.

The normal toll.

Whatever toll C.I.E. may decide.

Can C.I.E. make it prohibitive?

The position in that regard will be the same as it has been since we gave the canals to them in 1950.

That is not enough.

Let us get this clarified. I take it that, under the Minister's amendment, if the public at any time use the canal, C.I.E. are stopped from closing it. The canal must be abandoned by everybody for three years before C.I.E. can close it for navigation purposes. That seems to be all right, but we want the Minister to make it more than three years.

Why did the Deputy make it three years in 1950?

I was not personally in charge of the Bill. The Minister's colleagues have done stupid things, too.

The Minister said just now that in 1951 C.I.E. told him they never wanted the canals.

They did not tell me. They told Deputy Morrissey. He was Minister for Industry and Commerce too.

The Minister said they told him.

They told me they wanted to withdraw the barges.

They wanted to get off the canal. The Minister has probably had the circular from the Inland Waterways Association. A few items are mentioned here. It seems to be typical of C.I.E. policy. Just after the war, they drove the traffic off the iron rail and on to the road, by deliberate policy.

According to these accusations here, unless the Minister can answer them, it seems to me that C.I.E. deliberately set out to sabotage the whole of the canal system. According to this document circulated by the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland:—

"Though the Grand Canal Company operated at a profit until its acquisition by C.I.E., its system has since been run at a loss. This has been achieved by:

1. Breaking up the integrated service offered by the Grand Canal Company.

2. Withdrawal of advertising.

3. Travellers and agents deterred from seeking business.

4. Disciplinary measures against any employee trying to get water-borne trade.

5. Failure to introduce modern methods of handling cargoes.

These are very strong accusations and if they are true the position is very serious. If the accusations are not true, they should be repudiated immediately.

There are a few other questions which I should like to put to the Minister. However, my experience of Ministers is that if you ask a Minister too many questions he will answer one or two of the two-mark questions and leave you on the beach with the six-mark questions. Therefore, I shall content myself now by just asking the Minister to clear up the matter I have raised.

There is no difficulty about that. The canals were forced upon C.I.E. in 1950 by the Government which the Deputy supported. They said they did not want them and that, if they got them, their sole concern would be to get rid of them as quickly as possible.

And ruin them?

Nobody got any compensation out of that decision by the then Government who forced the canals on C.I.E. except the private owners of the canals—just as nobody got any benefit out of the changes made in the constitution of C.I.E. at that time except the private stockholders. They got a Government guarantee of 3 per cent. stock in return for a common stock which bore no interest at all. The whole effect of the 1950 Act was to benefit a certain number of private people who no longer have any interest in transport and C.I.E. were saddled with an incubus which is costing them £100,000 a year in losses.

It is very difficult to understand the enthusiasm of the then owners to get rid of the canals if they were a paying proposition. They were operated on the basis of appallingly low wages and very difficult employment conditions. If, in fact, C.I.E. should retire any of the former employees of the canal company, under the compensation provisions of this Bill, these employees will have much more money in their retirement pensions than they were getting when they were working with the old Grand Canal Company. I think Deputy Larkin could agree with me on that. Indeed, the Grand Canal Company were not making the canal pay. They had a number of assets other than the canal. They had warehouses, investments, properties of one kind or another, which were bringing in revenue. However, only the canals were handed over to C.I.E. The effect of that has been just to increase C.I.E.'s losses.

Did the Minister say that only the canals were handed over?

They got the road transport service as well.

And the rents—the whole undertaking, lock stock and barrel.

I am not representing that C.I.E. had any enthusiasm for the canals. They had not.

I am not concerned with that at all.

The question arises: what shall we do about them? It is a reasonable proposition to say that they are free to close down a canal if nobody uses it for three years. That is my sole proposition.

I am not concerned with who shot whom, who got money out of the canals, who got money out of C.I.E., who profited by the Bill of 1944 or the Bill of 1950, who tied the canals round the railway's neck or who tied the railways around the neck-of the D.U.T.C. That is not what I asked the Minister at all.

A few doubtful shillings were turned in 1944.

The Minister had a hell of a neck to talk about stockholders getting profit.

It is not my recollection that the stockholders were not very enthusiastic about the 1944 Act.

The speculators were.

A lot of people who attended a party in the Gresham Hotel at that time made money out of it. I asked a question and that is why I sat down and did not ask any further questions. I asked the Minister if what this document here says is true. Is it true that C.I.E. deliberately set out to break up the canal system?

Go back to your Inland Waterways Association of Ireland and tell them I shall give them the canals as a free gift.

That is typical of the Minister.

That is not the answer to my question. They smashed up the canals, according to the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland. These people say that C.I.E. broke up the integrated service offered by the Grand Canal Company; that they withdrew advertising; that travellers and agents were deterred from seeking business; that disciplinary measures were taken against any employee who tried to get water-borne trade and that they failed to introduce modern methods of handling cargoes. I do not want to know anything about the 1944 Act or the 1950 Act. I want to know if the Minister believes that the accusations contained in this document are true. Does the Minister believe that is a fact?

C.I.E. never tried to develop the canal.

Would the Minister say C.I.E. deliberately set out to sabotage the canals?

When Mr. Morrissey came to C.I.E. and said, in effect: "We are giving you the canals", they said, in effect: "We do not want them and if we get them our aim will be to get rid of them as quickly as we can."

Is it a fact that they set out to sabotage the canals?

I do not think so, but they certainly did not spend any money.

Why should the Association be allowed to get away with it?

They own some yachts. I do not know that very great attention should be paid to them. They do not own any barges.

We are sent here to represent the taxpayers. We see that something has been turned over to C.I.E. The ordinary taxpayer saw what C.I.E. did with railway transport. That was almost deliberate sabotage of railway transport, too. They drove everything out on to the roads. I am trying to have this cleared up. Would the Minister agree with me that when C.I.E. say they were reluctantly compelled to take over the canals they said, in effect: "We will get level now with this Minister for Industry and Commerce"? Will the Minister agree with me that they set out to sabotage the canals?

I would not say that. Hard as I find it to disagree with the Deputy, I would not go that far.

I will give a party some time in Dáil Éireann when I get a Minister on those benches to answer some of my questions.

The Minister for Lands, Deputy Childers, is your man. You will never stop him from talking.

So far as the debate on the amendment has gone, there has been reference to the fact that C.I.E. apparently did not want to take over the canals and that, having got them, they wanted to get rid of them as quickly as possible. The second point that has emerged is that the Minister is fully satisfied to let them do so.

No, that is not my aim anyway.

I think that is a fair interpretation.

No. I am quite willing to let them get rid of the canals if nobody wants to use them.

Does it not strike the Minister that this afternoon by virtue of a Fianna Fáil vote, and with everybody else against it, we passed a section of this Bill under which it is possible for C.I.E. to delete any branch railway it wishes? Does it not strike the Minister that a lot of the railway systems of Ireland are to disappear and, if this section goes through, many of the inland waterways of Ireland are going to disappear also, and, as a result of these two sections, excessive traffic will be placed on the roads? A second result is that we shall have the harbours of Ireland entirely dependent on one or two places.

Many of the smaller harbours—I might cite one instance between my constituency and Waterford, New Ross —are largely dependent on the inland waterways. During the emergency, if the Minister turns his mind back, he will remember that were it not that New Ross was kept open, and were it not for the inland waterways, along which goods could be transported safely and economically, when road motor fuel was not available, this country would have been in a very bad way. It is possible that the same set of circumstances might arise again. If we abandon the inland waterways, we are abandoning a safeguard for an emergency, we are abandoning a cheap method of transport—if the canals were properly serviced—and we are losing the goodwill of the people who are prepared to utilise the canals.

The Minister mentioned the Royal Canal and said it has not been used for some years. That may well be; the reason the Royal Canal was not used was that C.I.E. did not want to take over the inland waterways and, therefore, they did not use it. They had no great incentive to reduce expenditure because they could always recoup any losses they had by coming to Dáil Éireann. There is no reason why the Royal Canal should not be useful in an emergency. Every other country makes good use of their waterways and the Minister stated to-day that seemingly waterways in other countries were not controlled by the railway system of these particular countries. I cannot dispute that point of view because I am not quite sure of the facts, but I am inclined to think that some waterways in other countries are tied up with other transport services of those countries because transport services, in practically all countries, have been nationalised since the war.

I think the Minister should accept the amendment. From what the Minister has told us it is suggested that there is a sufficient safeguard but, having heard the Minister on this amendment, I do not feel that is enough. This House should refuse to agree to the promiscuous closing down of waterways. I think it will lead to transport confusion generally. I should like to ask the Minister, before I sit down—I presume some discussions took place in Dublin with the officials of C.I.E. and those who are generally advising him—did he consider having any discussions with those who are associated with inland waterways, not necessarily the Inland Waterways Association, but with other people concerned, such as tourist interests and so forth? Did he consult with them before coming to the House with this Bill?

I am trying to explain that this Bill makes no change except in one unimportant matter.

Before amendments were put down to this Bill, Section 22 was an entirely different affair from what it now is. As it is now, it is different from what was in the Minister's proposal. At least the amendments put down have had the effect of making the Minister change his mind and see the light to some extent in this respect. Let us be quite clear for the record, however, that the Minister was wrong a minute ago when he said that C.I.E. in 1950 took over only a certain part of the canal company's assets. They took over the whole of the undertaking, including road transport services, including lands owned by the canal company which brought in substantial amounts in rents, including warehouses and certain water rights and water rents. Let us be quite clear also, in putting the record correct, that until C.I.E. took over the canal company they were making a modest profit on the whole undertaking. If the Minister wishes to look back on the records he will find that the whole undertaking was one global entity.

They started to lose money and they went to Mr. Morrissey and said: "Get us out of the canals." He said: "We will hand them over to C.I.E. and they will look after the losses."

C.I.E. wanted to take over a part only. They wanted to skim the cream and, of course, the Canal Company would have been foolish to be left with the skimmed milk after C.I.E. had taken the cream. Thus, the decision was made that C.I.E. had to take the whole lot. It would have been quite outrageous to have agreed to the one-sided suggestion that was made at that time. The section, with the Minister's amendments, will be somewhat better but, if one were cynically-minded, one could visualise a situation, when it comes to be interpreted by the board of C.I.E. and by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, in which the words "public navigation" in amendment No. 17 will have some type of a different meaning from the meaning that we anticipate.

The Minister has clarified that as "any member of the public".

And one could find that they will be asked to pay more than a reasonable toll for using the canal. As far as I understand the situation, C.I.E. can change their tolls on the canal without the consent of the Minister for Industry and Commerce. If I am wrong in that respect then the situation is protected in a different way, if the Minister's consent is necessary. But I want it made quite clear that for any members of the public utilising the canal at the ordinary figures, bearing comparison to present tolls and present costs, those tolls cannot be increased prohibitively to amount to a virtual prohibition. If we are all right there, then the amendment that has been brought in as a result of the pressure put on the Minister in relation to this section, has been worth while and has achieved something, but I do not think it goes far enough.

The canals have been losing money because they have lost transport, just the same as C.I.E. C.I.E. cannot be forced not to withdraw its barges, if, by doing so, it will save over £100,000 per annum. It is also significant that the private traders' usage of the canal has been going down every year. Whatever one may say about C.I.E. forcing traffic off the canal, I do not think we can accept the same argument that the private trader is forced off. He is going off because he can get a cheaper service and a faster service elsewhere, probably by his own lorry.

It would be disastrous to close the canals. I do not understand the technical differences between closing canals to navigation and closing canals —in other words, putting them into a state when they can never be used again. If they are closed to navigation, can they be opened to navigation again at some future date?

I do not think so.

The Beddy Report skips over that aspect of closing down and makes no recommendation. The Minister's amendment goes a good way to meet my objection. If he is accepting Deputy Cosgrave's request to extend the period to five years, for my part, I should be glad to withdraw the amendment I put down.

The Deputy's amendment caused me no embarrassment at all, because the canals are not economic and never will be so. The Deputy's amendment will make no difference.

I accept that and I do not think that in present circumstances, the canals will pay their way, any more than I think C.I.E. itself will ever pay its way. Unless you force traffic back on to the canals or on to the railways, you can not make either entity pay. But there is a strong case for maintaining the canals and keeping them in navigable condition, because we cannot see very far ahead and they may be required again. They are unnavigable at the moment, not being used. C.I.E. does not want them and regards them as a liability, as the Minister has made it clear; but we may want them in five or ten years and may not be able to have them and I think we should see they are maintained, at the least possible cost to the taxpayer. That is all I wish to say on the point. I can see that we should not force C.I.E. to lose £100,000 a year, if they can avoid it.

Let us be clear about what is involved here. The maintenance of the canal is not itself an expensive business: it is on the operation of the barges that C.I.E. lost money and it is the impossibility of operating barges without losing money that has produced this virtual disappearance of the private barge owner. They have gone out of business almost completely. In that regard, I see from the Beddy Report that so far as C.I.E. have had in the past freedom in respect of charges, which they will have in the future, they have used that freedom to give a preference in favour of canal traffic as against other kinds of traffic, a differential of from 5 to 12½ per cent. in favour of the canals.

Of course, you are charging the whole of the canal maintenance to canals and if you take the traffic off the canals and put it on to the roads, the local authority and the Road Fund will pay the cost of the maintenance there. You are not comparing like with like.

I think the Minister ought to do what he suggested and give the canals over to somebody else, to the Board of Works, and let them keep them in order. As far as profits were made, I dare say it was on the warehouses and rent and whatever contracts they had, but I understand now there is an obligation on them to maintain certain drainage which will cost something like £40,000 a year— £24,000 on the Grand Canal and about £17,000 for the other. The Board of Works already has charge of the Shannon navigation and I think the canals should be handed over to them. The State may as well pay by giving a bigger grant or subsidy for that to the Board of Works, instead of doing it by subsidy to C.I.E.

Like Deputy Russell, we do not at present see any chance of having transport on the canals, but we do not know what the future may bring. A State Department which already has something to do with navigations is the proper body to deal with this and let C.I.E. keep the other assets, because they may as well get the money that way as by direct subsidy. I agree with this, but I say it is very likely that, when the five year period is over, they will still want a million a year. I would be very much surprised if whoever is the Minister of the day then does not come in to ask for a renewal of the subsidy of £1,000,000. It would be a logical and sensible thing for the Minister to do what he almost suggested he was prepared to do—to take them away from C.I.E. and hand them over to a body which is already managing navigation of the River Shannon.

That is a suggestion certainly which would commend itself to C.I.E. I want to make it clear that the losses which C.I.E. experience on the canals are due almost entirely to the operation of the barges. The actual cost of maintaining the canal, according to the Beddy Report, was only £27,000 a year. The loss of £108,000 was due to the barges.

There is a figure of £24,000 there from rents.

The present cost of maintenance is £27,000, but they are losing £108,000 on the operation of the barges.

And they get £24,000 from warehouses.

So far as anyone wants to use the canals, they will keep it navigable.

And bring disciplinary action against anyone who tries to get traffic there?

Would the Minister not consider keeping the Barrow navigation alive in view of the fact that the House has possibly voted out the New Ross railway connection this afternoon? Otherwise, New Ross will be isolated except for road transport.

We are dealing only with two canals here.

Deputy Sweetman is afraid—notwithstanding the explicit assurance given by the Minister that if the public use these canals C.I.E. will be prevented from closing them— that somehow or other the C.I.E. directors may fiddle with this phrase and say it does not mean what the ordinary person would interpret it to mean, having regard to the discussion which has taken place here. I think that the C.I.E. directors, being servants in a great public enterprise, must respect the wishes of this House. The Minister made it clear, as a result of interrogations, that he desires that C.I.E. should not close these canals, if the public used the canals in the future and that it is only when they do not use the canals over three years that C.I.E. could consider closing them. If a member of the public sails a boat genuinely on the canal, even once a year, C.I.E. is prevented from closing it; that is the Minister's desire.

Now, if that is indicated here as parliamentary policy and Government policy towards the canal, we must assume that the directors of C.I.E. will not set out deliberately to thwart the intentions of this House. If they were so reckless and so irresponsible as to do so, we can always table a motion here asking the Minister to remove the directors who have deliberately flouted an understanding arrived at here in Parliament and which indicates the manner in which the canals should be operated in the future. In the light of this discussion and the Minister's intention, I do not think the directors will attempt to get behind these intentions. I am prepared to accept the Minister's amendment, interpreted in the way in which he has interpreted it in lieu of the amendment we have set down.

Would the Minister examine, between now and Report Stage, whether "public navigation" makes it quite clear that use by a private individual or firm will permit the keeping open of the canals? Some of the firms concerned may use only a portion of the canal, say, between one warehouse of theirs and another. It might conceivably be a hardship or a liability on them to ask them to run a barge from, say, Dublin to Carlow or Athy or Shannonbridge, merely for the purpose of complying with the statute.

Whatever about the enactment of this measure as it stands, I think there is something to be said for the suggestion made by Deputy Boland. It might be examined, if it is quite likely that C.I.E. are not equipped to maintain a canal in a navigable condition, or alternatively are not equipped to maintain a canal in a navigable condition, or alternatively are not equipped to maintain it to comply with drainage requirements. Deputy Boland suggested that the Board of Works might take over the canals and although I imagine that they do not want to undertake further liabilities they are probably better equipped to deal with them from the technical point of view than C.I.E. is.

I want to make my difficulty in regard to canal navigation quite clear. Take the analogy of road transport. If a merchant carries his own goods in his own lorry, that is private transport on the road. If, on the other hand, C.I.E., or a licensed haulier, under the 1934 Road Transport Act carry goods of other people on the roads that is public transport. On the canals there are the same two forms of transport. If C.I.E. take the goods of other people in their own barges that is clearly public navigation. To mention one case Minch, Norton and Company, of Athy, carry their own goods in their barges. I want to be quite clear, though that might be the analogy of public transport on the roads, that in relation to this amendment, even thought they might be considered private transport goods—they only carry their own goods—that it is public navigation for the purpose of keeping the canals open.

There are not many of these by-traders. I think there are only a couple left and they only do a fraction of the traffic they did some years ago. So long as they want to keep operating C.I.E. must keep the canal fit for navigation. As regards the River Barrow navigation to which Deputy Esmonde referred, I see in the Beddy Report that there have been no barges south of Carlow for three years.

Better keep a few yachts on it. It would save the Barrow.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 16 not moved.

I move amendment No. 17:—

In sub-section (1), page 8, line 9, to add, at the end of the sub-section, "which has not been used for public navigation for three years or more."

Will the Minister not make the period five years?

I think three years is reasonable. It is the period fixed already.

Can the Minister say what canals have not been used for three years for public navigation, if any?

I think that is true of the Royal Canal. I would not like to say that it is absolutely true but so far as I know it is.

Would the Minister make it three years from the date of passing the Act——

It is three years——

——so that people would get notice now?

Is not the way that I am doing it the better way? It will be three years prior to the date on which the board attempts to take the decision.

Make the three years run from now.

No. In view of the condition in which the Royal Canal is at the moment a rather substantial expenditure would be required to make it navigable and nobody wants to use it.

Are there no branches of the Grand Canal which the Minister has in mind?

No branches over which there is no public navigation at present? If the Minister gives me that assurance I will be satisfied.

Any information I have is in the Beddy Report.

If the Minister assures me that is so I am happy.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 18 not moved.

I move amendment No. 19:—

In sub-section (2), page 8, line 11, to delete "one month" and substitute "two months".

This is to make the period for the statutory notice two months instead of one.

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 22, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

On the section, in sub-section (3) it says "that such closure shall not release the board from any obligations, including obligations in regard to drainage or the prevention of flooding". What does it do in regard to drainage?

The closing of a canal does not release the board from any obligation it has, including these obligations and others which are set out in various statutes.

How is money saved by this?

The saving by closing a canal to navigation is not very considerable.

There is virtually no saving except on the operation of the barges.

If that is the case, could it not be kept in a fit condition for navigation? Under sub-section (3)——

That is where the canal has not been used by anybody, they can close it to navigation but they must nevertheless maintain any of the other obligations that are imposed on them.

Excluding keeping it fit for navigation?

In the case of the Royal Canal, a very considerable capital expenditure would be necessary and I could not ask the board for that.

I am talking about keeping it in a fit condition. I have no idea what that would cost as against the cost of drainage.

In the case of the Grand Canal the cost of maintaining it is £27,000.

That is in a fit condition for navigation?

That section excludes the board from that liability?

It will not arise in that case at all, except in the circumstances where the canal is closed to navigation where nobody uses it for three years.

If the canal is closed down do they still get the rents of £24,000?

They paid a lot of money for them.

Who pays them?

C.I.E. took over the canal company's property.

And they still get that amount?

Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 23 stand part of the Bill."

This section seems to exempt C.I.E. from the provisions of Section 7 of the Road Transport Act of 1932. Section 7 of the 1932 Act provides that no person shall carry on a passenger road service save under and in accordance with a licence granted to him under the Act. My interpretation of that is that before C.I.E. or anybody else can operate a road passenger service over a particular route they must go to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and seek a licence and that in issuing that licence the Minister may attach certain conditions which he would regard as desirable.

I feel that in invoking these powers attaching conditions, that naturally the Minister will attach such conditions as he would regard as in the public interest and possibly not in the interests of those who have to operate the buses on such a service. Whatever may be behind this section is not clear to me, but it would appear to me, and to any ordinary layman, that the obligations imposed on C.I.E. or anybody else under Section 7 of the 1932 Act, could not be regarded as onerous in any way.

It appears that they simply write an application to the Minister for the licence. That would not appear to throw too much work on anybody in C.I.E. Because of that, I am at a loss to know why the Minister should now include Sections 23, exempting C.I.E. from that obligation.

It is an extremely foolish procedure, where we have a publicly owned transport undertaking under an obligation to provide a transport service, that the law should provide that in respect of each road passenger service it operates, it must every year get a licence from the Minister for Industry and Commerce. A whole lot of unncessary clerical work is imposed on C.I.E. and the Department of Industry and Commerce. It was an unforeseen consequence of the provisions of the 1932 Act that all this unnecessary issue of licences was required and we propose to get rid of it. C.I.E. are entitled to trun passenger services. They do not have to get a separate licence every year for every service they run. There is not question of conditions now. They have to go through the formality of applying every year for a licence. There is no sense in it.

I do not think it is true to say that there was no question of conditions. According to the Road Transport Act, 1932, "no person shall carry on a passenger road service save under and in accordance with a licence granted to him under this Act". That would imply that it was open to the Minister at any time to attach any conditions he might deem fit.

The condition would be that the services would be from Patrick Street to Watergrasshill or something of that kind.

The only thing is to get rid of a lot of unnecessary paper work?

Are there no conditions imposed by Section 7 of the 1932 Act, except from the point of view of indicating the point at which the service commences or concludes?

I agree with that aspect of the Minister's proposal. It seems obviously right to cut out unnecessary clerical work but where there is a proposal to run a new bus service over a new road, particularly in a rural area, the present situation is that C.I.E. and the local authority have consultations about the condition of the road, and so on. I think the present position is that, before the Minister will give them a licence, he must be satisfied they have cleared matters with the local authority. How will that arise? I think it would be desirable that there should at least be consultation.

Yes. That situation is completely unchanged.

Is it a different statutory provision?

It is under the Road Traffic Act.

Under the Road Traffic Act and not under the Road Transport Act.

The normal position is—at least, it applies in some of the new housing areas—that, where roads are constructed, not so much by corporations or local authorities as by private developers, there is a great delay before the county council or the corporation, as the case may be, take them over. The developer leaves them is one position and the local authority says it will not take them over until they are in a proper condition. In the meantime, people are residing in the houses. C.I.E. will not run a service on the roads because they are not authorised to operate a service until it is approved by the local authority. I do not know if this will do away with that.

It does not alter it at all. They will still require the approval of the local authority to operate a bus service over an estate.

They do not require the approval of the local authority under this section?

Under the Road Traffic Act.

Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 24 stand part of the Bill."

What is behind this section? It seems to me that C.I.E. is charged with the responsibility of providing a public transport service. This section seems to suggest that, although they are charged with providing a public transport service, they may not provide a service on a route which is already served by a private transport operator, without the consent of the Minister. I should like to know what gave rise to the inclusion of that.

What gave rise to it is this very question we discussed earlier. Suppose C.I.E. close down a rail service and do not undertake to provide a road transport service in substitution, some person is licensed to provide that. It is to protect the existing licensed operator who may get a licence to operate a passenger service. Without the assurance that they would be allowed to operate the service, the difficulty would be increased.

Does this apply only where the private operator has come in to provide a service which C.I.E. would not provide?

That may be what is in the Minister's mind, but it is not what is in the section.

They are providing a service which C.I.E. have refused to provide.

If somebody is providing a road passenger service at the moment and if the residents on the road served by the private company feel that the service is unsatisfactory or in any way inadequate, the existing company would not be protected against the possibility of having the service for the community improved by allowing C.I.E. to operate on the road.

It means that C.I.E. will have to make a deal with the licensee.

Suppose the private operator does not make the deal. Suppose the road passenger operator does not make the deal.

These are all cases where C.I.E. had the option of providing a service and declined to do so.

Does the Minister not see the danger? If you are now going to confirm those who have a private passenger-carrying service and if they are protected against the possibility of C.I.E. ever going back on that route against the existing operator, then there is no reason why the existing operator should maintain an efficient service. The Minister says he will not allow C.I.E. back on that road to operate again.

C.I.E. can do it with the consent of the Minister.

That is what I mean.

As far as I know, all the existing licensed passenger services were services which were in existence in 1932. C.I.E. could have acquired them on the payment of compensation but, after examination, C.I.E. decided not to acquire them. I can see Deputy Norton's point. The Minister can give consent to C.I.E. to operate.

And the Minister can give consent and would not withhold it where it would be an improvement?

The Minister must also be concerned to protect whatever interests the private operator had.

The Minister will agree that he should not fortify the private operator in a position in which the private operator allows his own service to deteriorate?

What I would have in mind is that the provision of the 1932 Act should be applicable; in other words, if C.I.E. wanted to go in on the service, they should negotiate to buy out the licensed operator or, in default of agreement, get a settlement by arbitration.

Question put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 20:—

In sub-section (1) (a), page 8, line 45, to delete "being used by" and substitute "owned and operated by."

This amendment is put down because of a complaint received by licensed hauliers that C.I.E. operate some sort of permit system which, apparently, is accepted by the Garda authorities but which does not comply with any known piece of legislation and that, in fact, some unlicensed hauliers are operating lorries using these paper permits issued by C.I.E., to the detriment of existing merchandise businesses. It is for that reason that this amendment proposes that the words "being used by" should be deleted and the words "owned and operated by" should be substituted.

May I say straightway that this section is in the Bill on the advice of the Garda Síochána, who have urged that the change proposed here will facilitate them in their efforts to eliminate illegal haulage? Their contention is that it is unnecessary to have a plate upon a C.I.E. lorry because a C.I.E. lorry is easily identified, but the practice of plating lorries hired temporarily by C.I.E. to assist them in handling beet traffic does, they fear, mean that these plated lorries are used for traffic other than that for which they are hired by C.I.E.; that the tendency of the local Gardai is merely to check whether there is a plate on the lorry and to assume, if there is a plate on the lorry, that it is entitled to carry all traffics under all circumstances, and that they are not as a rule inclined to check very carefully as to the scope of the authority conferred by the plate. They have urged, therefore, that, in respect of these lorries that are hired temporarily by C.I.E. and under the control of C.I.E. when these peak traffic periods are in operation, plates should not be issued because, they say, the issuing of plates has in the past facilitated illegal haulage.

Are these lorries owned by private, non-merchandise, operators?

Some of them would be plated, anyway.

That is, the plate is extended, so to speak?

That is true. They are entitled to carry traffic under licence but most of them are just private lorries hired by C.I.E. for the purpose of supplementing their own fleet, for peak traffic. The Guards would prefer that these lorries should not be plated because, if they are plated, they believe they are used for illegal haulage, to some extent anyway, on the assumed authority of that plate. There are limited licences issued for some vehicles for the distribution of Sunday newspapers and, again, they have urged that that limited use should not require plating because, again, they believe that the plating of these vehicles for that limited use facilitates them in unlimited use for other purposes, for which they are not authorised.

Is not that a weird argument?

How does it happen that private lorries could be used for purposes other than those required by C.I.E. if, in fact, they are under the control of C.I.E.?

They are, yes, but they have got a plate and they have a plate on the lorry and the Garda authorities say that it is not usual for a Guard checking up on illegal haulage to do more than just see is there a licence plate on the lorry and that he assumes, if there is, that it is therefore carrying on an authorised business, whereas in fact it may not be; that it would facilitate them in the elimination of illegal traffic if these lorries employed by C.I.E. in peak periods were not plated, and that the same applies to vans used in connection with the distribution of Sunday newspapers.

I understand the position to be that the licensed hauliers complain that C.I.E., not merely hire licensed hauliers, but hire unlicensed hauliers——

That is right. They are entitled to do that.

——and to issue them with a "paper" plate. That probably is not the correct description. The complaint is that, not merely do some of these lorries operate outside, in conflict with existing licensed hauliers, but that after they cease to be used by C.I.E. they retain the plate——

That is right.

——or the paper permit and that, in fact, in at least one particular case, the lorry was sold or was sent to auction by the unlicensed haulier with this permit on it. Does this mean that the paper permit will go for the future?

Yes, that these lorries will not have this plate on them. The Garda say that that will facilitate them in checking illegal haulage through these lorries.

Is not the only result that the Guards will not have anything to check?

Exactly and, therefore, if the lorry is carrying goods for reward, they know it is not licensed.

Following that out to its logical conclusion, is not the only effect of that that there will be no checking and the Guards will not know if it is engaged in illegal haulage whereas, at least, if there is this permit there, they have an opportunity of checking? I do not follow the argument. It seems an extraordinary one.

When C.I.E. hire a private lorry for peak traffic, there is a plate put on the lorry which represents C.I.E.'s authority. The lorry is for the time being C.I.E.'s lorry but, when it ceases to be used by C.I.E., it still has the plate on ——

Why? Why do they not take the plate back?

It is a permit rather than a plate.

—— and that means that after a time they could operate carrying other traffics believing that the Garda will be satisfied when he sees the plate on the lorry that they are authorised to carry other traffics, and that it is a far better system that they should not be plated when they are hired by C.I.E., that that will enable the Gardai more easily to check illegal haulage by these lorries.

How will he prove that he is working for C.I.E.? Will he have no document now?

That can be easily checked.

I do not see.

I am convinced that the Minister is very well intentioned in making provision in this section to endeavour to stamp out illegal haulage. I think he is as concerned as anybody in this House to get to grips with that problem. He has produced a most novel and silly way of doing what he hopes to do. I think he will not succeed. We all know that the success of C.I.E. has been bedevilled down through the years by illegal haulage more than anything else and we are all quite aware of the attendance at fairs and marts of nondescript lorries that ply for hire and draw illegally from those fairs and marts and draw illegally from one part of the country to another every day of the week.

In those circumstances, if I had been charged with amending the matter so as to ensure that the Gardaí, or whoever is charged with checking illegal haulage, would be facilitated, this certainly would not be the way that I would choose. It appears to me quite obvious now that the Garda's task will be more difficult than it ever was. There will be no indication on a lorry as to whether it is entitled to draw the traffic that is on the lorry at that particular moment or not. I would have gone the other way and would have introduced new signs or plates——

A big poster on the windscreen.

——a compulsory description on the cab or some part of the lorry that would make it abundantly clear to the most stupid Garda in the Force that the lorry was drawing traffic illegally if it were doing so. While I am sure that the Minister is as anxious as anybody here to stamp out illegal haulage, I implore him to reconsider this particular section. It is novel and silly to my mind. I suggest that the Minister should have another look at it. He has been very badly advised.

I am not saying the idea occurred to me. We had a conference with the Garda authorities as to how best we could check this illegal haulage and the strongest recommendation they made was to stop plating the lorries that are used by C.I.E., and have limited licences.

Why do C.I.E. not take up the permits after the season is over? What I gather has happened is that C.I.E. do not take them up and that they left them so long that they were sold with the permits on them. To take the permits up would be the best solution.

Put the plate on every morning and take it off every evening?

What happens is that they work eight hours for C.I.E. and eight hours for someone else.

Assuming that someone is hauling in the beet or wheat season, surely at the end of the season, after six weeks, or two months——

No. That is not the problem. They work eight hours for C.I.E. and spend the rest of the day hauling for somebody else on the spurious authority of this plate, and the Garda say: "We can stop that if you stop plating the lorries."

I do not understand this amendment at all. It seems to me quite daft. It will have this effect. There is no plate and there is no permit. A guard stops a lorry that is genuinely working for C.I.E., issues a summons against that lorry because he does not believe the driver concerned. The driver concerned will have to pay a witness from C.I.E. to come down to the District Court to prove——

No, he still has this paper permit.

No, he does not.

We are talking here only of the steel plate. He still has the licence in his pocket.

What is the difference?

The difference is that the Garda say that the temptation is for the local guards to look to see if this metal plate is on the lorry and if it is they assume that the lorry is entitled to carry for C.I.E. In fact, he has got that plate only for the purpose of the limited traffic for which he has been engaged for C.I.E., but he uses the availability of the plate to engage in other traffic as well. The Gardaí have urged that for this seasonal traffic we do not plate the lorries and that if we do that we shall cut out a good deal of illegal haulage.

But he has the permit?

Supposing he is a licensed haulier operating for C.I.E., how is he going to prove it, if he has no plate and has no permit?

He has his licence in his pocket.

His driving licence?

His licence from C.I.E. C.I.E. have employed him for the time being on a C.I.E. lorry.

Can the Minister see any objection to providing for a special type of plate which will show that so far as C.I.E. is concerned it is a temporary plate? If the guards see that, they can then ask for the permit when this vehicle is in use and can ascertain from the permit whether a man is entitled to be using it for C.I.E.

The Garda say this is by far the most satisfactory method.

A Deputy

Is there anything but beet involved?

Very little.

Not so much. It is almost entirely beet.

I suggest to the Minister that he should have another conference with the Garda. As I put it to the Minister before, it seems to me that the only advantage in this system is that if there is illegal haulage going on, the Garda are saved the trouble of investigating it because they will not know anything about it. Under the present system apparently, the guards have some difficulty in investigating, but they are saved the trouble of investigating here.

It is the other way round.

I would suggest to the Minister that there are 101 ways in which an effective system could be evolved. One is, as I have suggested, by putting on a distinctive type of plate.

This is the one the Garda suggested.

I seriously suggest to the Minister that he should go back to the Garda and discuss this matter with them again in the light of what has been said here.

I suggest to the Deputy that he should contact some of the Garda officers who are trying to eliminate this illegal traffic, and get their views.

It should not be beyond the ingenuity of C.I.E. or somebody in the Department to devise a special plate for this seasonal haulage. To my mind, that should make it easier for the Garda to detect persons engaged in illegal haulage, but it is a cockeyed argument to say: "Strip down everything and let the guards start from scratch and question everybody."

No. We are aiming to cover only a certain class of people, those who are employed by C.I.E. for a limited period and who have that limited licence.

During the beet season, if a person who is drawing legally on this temporary licence under contract has no special plate, every other lorry owner who is not entitled to draw at all will chance his arm during that season and the Garda will be forced, if they are to detect and prosecute, to stand at every cross-road and question the driver of every lorry.

I will undertake to bring the observations of the Deputy to the Garda authorities.

I do not think the Minister believes the arguments himself. The Minister trusts the guards.

I believe in trusting the experts.

At present C.I.E. hire lorries which have merchandise licences and then there are those which will have merchandise licences under this section. Does the Minister mean that none of these lorries will be required to carry plates?

Of course, the plated lorries will have their plates anyway.

They will be required to carry the plates?

Is it worth while building this superstructure for the purpose of dealing with the small number of people who are engaged for a short period carrying a specific type of freight, because quite clearly it is easy to detect these people if the Garda want to detect them? These people, in the main, are employed for the purpose of hauling beet or grain. If they are hauling otherwise, it is a matter for the Garda to detect them because they have no plates for operating anything other than beet or grain. There may be some hidden depths in this which I am not capable of plumbing, but it seems to be peculiar to say that the best way to identify a thing is to remove all identification from it. I give it up.

We have been discussing so far paragraph (1) (a) of Section 25, but does the Minister seriously think that whatever weight is in the arguments that have been presented to him by the Guards in relation to that sub-paragraph, the same weight applies to sub-paragraph (b), that is, those with limited licences?

Perhaps not so much. It is true they are smaller vehicles and the abuses perhaps, therefore, less serious, but they are plated, although they are authorised to operate on only one day in the week.

They operate on only one day or night and consequently there is no question of their being used otherwise, but is there any difficulty in the world about producing a distinctive plate from those merchandise licenses?

Remember this: some of them are light cars and some of them are station wagons.

And if this section goes through is there anything to prevent my taking my car in? Is any Garda entitled to stop me?

I again make my offer——

With all respect to him, the Minister has been helpful enough——

They sold me on this idea and I am not unsold yet.

Was the idea of a different coloured metallic plate for these buses discussed?

I presume so.

"No, is was not," is the answer.

Is the Minister prepared to say to the House in relation to this section what suggestion was put up by himself or the Department at these discussions with the Garda? Was it a question of accepting a memo from the Garda?

It was a general discussion as to how we could have eliminated this.

Deputy Sweetman has asked if a distinctive plate could not have been considered and I understood the Minister to say he did not know——

But also that I am sure it was.

I should like to have something more than the Minister's assumption, if it was.

Will the Minister tell us what objections the Gardaí made in regard to that idea?

I do not know.

The Minister is responsible and has inserted into this Bill a section which seems to every Deputy who spoke except the Minister himself to be an amazing one. While we accept the Minister's bona fide about the garda being responsible for the selection, nevertheless the Minister's arguments put up here were quite unconvincing. I have not heard Deputies on the opposite side give their views but I feel sure they would agree with ours.

Surely the Minister will at least fulfil his obligation by saying between now and the Report Stage he will discuss with the appropriate Garda authorities whether a distinctive plate would not be a better method and if not, why not, so that the House can be told on Report Stage?

I agree to that.

The Minister is reasonable.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 21 not moved.
Section 25 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 22:—

22. Before Section 26 to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) All road motor vehicles used for the transport of merchandise shall be maintained in sound mechanical order and generally in a satisfactory condition.

(2) The Minister shall make regulations providing for the periodical inspection of all road motor vehicles used for the transport of merchandise to ensure compliance with sub-section (1).

(3) The name, address and business of the owner of any road motor vehicle used for the transport of merchandise shall be clearly painted on the near side cab door of every road motor vehicle used for the transport of merchandise.

This amendment seeks to insert a new section before Section 26 providing for three things, first, that all motor vehicles used for the transport of merchandise shall be maintained in sound mechanical order and generally in satisfactory condition. I do not think I need delay the House by bringing arguments to bear on the desirability of such a provision.

May I interrupt the Deputy? I am not going to argue against the amendment. My only point is that it is appropriate to road traffic legislation and there will be a Road Traffic Bill before the Dáil this year. The Deputy might consider that the section would be inappropriate to this Bill but that it would be appropriate to the road traffic legislation on which a new Bill will shortly be before the House.

I am not arguing against this but the amendment was not ruled out as inappropriate——

It would be appropriate to the road traffic legislation which will be proposed. The Deputy could consider whether it would be appropriate to the situation as he sees it to press this amendment now or to await the new Bill.

I am simply making the point that the amendment was tabled and was not ruled out of order.

The new Road Traffic Bill will be along shortly, perhaps not this session but certainly this year. It may be introduced this session but I do not think we will be enthusiastic about taking it.

I shall accept that.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

On a point of order, before the Minister moves amendment No. 23 I wonder whether it is strictly in order. In making that point I would refer you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, to the fact that amendment No. 9, standing in my name and that of Deputy Larkin, was ruled out of order last week. I had a communication from the Ceann Comhairle stating it was outside the scope of the Bill and I saw fit to question that at the time in the House when you were in the Chair. You explained to me and to the House. —I am quoting from the Official Report, column 919, of last Thursday —that: "This Bill deals only with the reorganisation of C.I.E." You proceeded to rule out of order my amendment which dealt with the Irish Railway Clearing-House because, as you said, this Bill was a C.I.E. Bill. Similarly, when I rose to move amendment No. 22 it was explained to me by the Minister that that amendment was more appropriate to the Road Traffic Bill. If I accept that, I am certainly mystified as to how amendment No. 23 by the Minister which permits a farmer to haul cattle from a farm or mart is appropriate to this Bill. Certainly, it would seem to me that the arguments that have been brought to bear in ruling out my first amendment and in inducing me to withdraw my amendment a few minutes ago would apply to this case. There is nothing in this amendment that applies to C.I.E.

The points raised by the Deputy were carefully examined by the Ceann Comhairle and he decided that the Minister's amendment was in order on this Bill.

The points raised by me were considered by the Ceann Comhairle?

All relevant points were considered.

But I did not raise it outside this House. Am I to understand that somebody did raise it, because there were some doubts as to whether the amendment was in order?

There is not any question of doubt. All these points must be considered before it is decided that an amendment is in order.

Is there a different law for Deputies and Ministers?

There is no different law.

Would you explain to me, Sir, and to the House, how this amendment is in order and how my amendment No. 9 was ruled out of order?

The Chair informed the Deputy why amendment No. 9 was out of order, and went fully into the matter.

Yes, Sir, and the explanation was that this was a C.I.E. Bill. That is the explanation I got. Now we have an amendment regarding the haulage of cattle by farmers which has nothing to do with C.I.E. and am I to take it that it is in order? It is certainly mystifying to me.

It has been decided it is in order.

You indicated, Sir, that the points raised by Deputy Casey had been considered by the Ceann Comhairle. I should like you to explain to the House how the Ceann Comhairle could consider the points before the Deputy spoke or made these points?

I pointed out to Deputy Casey it was usual to consider all the relevant points affecting every amendment.

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.

Can the Minister say if "auction marts" include fairs?

No. That is one of the questions I put to the National Farmers' Association: whether I was likely to have pressure put on me to extend this facility to fairs? They said "No". They said fairs are still held in a number of centres to cater for cattle brought in from a comparatively small radius. The problem of the auction marts is to move cattle from a far wider ranges, a longer distance than the cattle could be walked. There is a transport need there which could not be met in any other way.

The Minister is aware there were four or five weighty arguments against this. Having considered these, the Beddy Committee decided, nevertheless, that this should be done. Has the Minister considered whether or not it is necessary further to extend legislation, once this farmers to use their tractors in this way and to obtain the lower rate of tax?

That is not a matter for this legislation, but certainly the case made by the National Farmers' Association was that this facility would be of no use, unless at the lower rate of tax.

That is what I am saying. Will it be necessary to make that clear in the amendment or in the Bill, that it shall be at the reduced rate?

It would not be in this Bill. It would be in the Bill dealing with taxation.

But in the interim period? I am not clear on this. What happens if this goes through in the morning?

If it goes through now, it is of no use to them. They are merely authorised to carry. By reason of this amendment, they do not get the benefit of the lower tax rate. That has to be done by other legislation.

Is Deputy Sweetman moving his amendment?

Yes. I move the following amendment to the amendment:—

In the fourth line to delete "drawn by a tractor".

I thought I could not move an amendment to an amendment until the first amendment had been accepted.

The discussion will cover the two amendments.

On the amendment, could the Minister say how he can reconcile the fact that earlier this evening he said licensed hauliers found it more difficult to get employment with his statement now that C.I.E. do not want this new business of taking cattle to cattle marts.?

I did not say that. I said it is not the type of service C.I.E. are equipped to provide and I cannot see them equipping themselves to provide it.

What equipment is necessary?

This is a service which could most conveniently be provided by the tractor and trailer.

In my opinion this is a sop to Cerberus. Hitherto, they could always carry provided they did not get paid for it or take a reward. Now, all farmers within a two mile radius of one another should be good neighbours. This will not just be a neighbourly act; this will be doing work which should normally be done by C.I.E. or by licensed hauliers. This is another inroad on an industry which pays good wages and does a good job. It is proposed now to hand this work over as a sideline to people who will pay no wages or, if they do, they will be low wages as compared with those paid by C.I.E., and the licensed hauliers.

Let us be clear, first of all, as to what this is. This is not haulage in the ordinary sense at all. This is a man picking up a beast or two from one small farmer, another couple of beasts from another small farmer, and so on. It will operate only under the restriction of the two mile radius. It will not operate as an ordinary haulage business. We all know that a farmer going to a fair or an auction with a tractor or a lorry— I shall deal with the lorry later—is afraid at the moment to take his nextdoor-neighbour's beast for nothing, because if he is stopped by a Guard the Guard will not believe that he is carrying these beasts without reward.

The effect of this amendment will be to leave them free to carry their neighbour's cattle without any fear of the type of investigation that takes place at the moment, an investigation which undoubtedly deters some farmers from doing an ordinary neighbourly act. The two mile radius means that such haulage cannot become a business in the ordinary sense. This haualge will not compete with licensed hauliers or with C.I.E.

I am in some doubt as to whether the Minister is wise in restricting it to an auction mart, as distinct from a fair. The tendency is for farmers, who have lorries or trailers, to go to fairs, even if they are not bringing in animals of their own, so that, if they happen to buy, they have their own transport to bring home their cattle. Now, suppose a small neighbouring farmer buys a beast, is it good business from an economic point of view to send a C.I.E. lorry ten or 15 miles out of its way merely to deliver one or two beasts to that small farmer? Under this amendment that trifling service can be rendered by a large neighbouring farmer and, having regard to the very restricted type of business it will be it will not matter a hoot from the point of view of other road operators.

I visualise the larger farmer in Kildare, for instance, taking an odd beast for one of his neighbours either to an auction or mart, or home from it, and I say that the provision should be extended to cover fairs as well. This service will not operate where there is a full load available because the full load is a different type of business altogether. It will only be the odd beast which will be carried. I do not believe either C.I.E. or the licensed hauliers want the job of going ten miles out of their way to bring one or two beasts to a small farmer, and then going another five miles out of their way to drop another beast to another farmer. That would be bad economics from the national point of view or, indeed, from any point of view. The large farmer with the tractor or the lorry cannot take his neighbour's beast at the moment because he knows, if he does so, the Guards will not believe that he is doing it without reward and he will have the job of trying to persuade the Guards and the district justice that he is doing it for nothing. Rather than go through that rigmarole, he just will not take his neighbour's beast.

I am unconvinced by the Minister's explanation as to the necessity for this section and Deputy Sweetman has, to a great extent, confirmed my fears. I do not believe there is any question of this section working on the basis of neighbourly assistance. It is quite clear to me it will constitute the beginning of a commercial operation. It is easy enough to say that it will be restricted to a two-mile radius; the Guards and those who have the task of enforcing the regulations will have to go round with a tape measuring the distance between the carrier's residence and the other farm, or farms.

There is, too, the question of the suitability of a tractor and trailer for carrying live stock for a distance of 20 miles or so. It is quite clear that the carrying of live stock over that distance is the business of C.I.E. and the licensed hauliers. The underlying suggestion in Deputy Sweetman's submission is that those who have occasion to sell or purchase live stock, sell or purchase only one beast at a time. Deputy Sweetman, in supporting the amendment and, in effect, in supporting the Minister's amendment of the section, made a fairly strong case to the effect that the persons using the tractors or trailers for this purpose would be collecting one beast here, travelling half a mile and collecting another beast, then another half a mile and collecting another beast—all within the little radius of two miles, to carry the beasts 20 miles.

I feel that the inclusion of this sub-section could very seriously affect the trading position of C.I.E., while, according to the Minister, the whole purpose of this Bill is to help C.I.E. to become a self-efficient, self-supporting, economic organisation within the next five years. As has been explained on more than one occasion by other Deputies, even with the substantial financial assistance which the Bill proposes to give C.I.E., if its operation can be prejudiced by the inclusion of sub-sections such as this, then a part of the purpose of the Bill itself may be prejudiced.

In addition, there is the other form of competition that this new sub-section would, I feel, introduce. Whatever about the management and the operation of C.I.E., generally speaking, the national transport company is required to have some regard to the conditions under which its employees work—the hours they work and the payment they receive for that work. Having regard to the manner in which those employed directly in agriculture are treated not only as regards their working hours but also as regards their rates of payment for their work, I can readily see in local areas this type of service providing a very unfair competition.

I take it that those employed by farmers would, if the amendment is approved, be driving the tractors and trailers on the public road. One need hardly say that the payment which they might receive for their services of driving what would amount to transport vehicles on the public road in carrying out this work would be, I am quite sure, a percentage of what is recognised as a reasonable rate for driving any public service vehicle or merchandise vehicle on the road today.

I think the inclusion by the Minister of this new section in this Bill would lead to a very unsatisfactory position as a whole. I would ask him to reconsider the position.

I should like to support the Minister's amendment, but I think he should consider the question of extending it to fairs. One of the essentials of the eradication of bovine tuberculosis requirements is to prevent cattle from being moved very often by road. They are not moved much nowadays by driving them on the roads, but nevertheless farmers might be tempted to do it. They are entitled to carry them either to or from the fairs where there is an auction mart which will enable them to comply fully with the tuberculin testing of cattle requirements.

Can the Deputy get a definition of "fair" as distinct from a weekly market?

It is difficult, but I suppose there is a generally accepted definition. At any rate, there probably is a definition in the Fairs and Markets Act.

I think there is.

I mentioned that the people who came to me from the National Farmers' Association wanted this arrangement for auction marts only. They may have a particular interest in confining it to auction marts. It would be far more suitable, from my point of view, so to do. I see no difficulty whatsoever as regards enforcing this arrangement in the limited conditions contemplated here because these auction marts are held once a fortnight or so, and clearly it would be a day on which one would expect to see this transportation taking place, whereas, on any other day, one would not expect to see it.

Did the National Farmers' Association put to the Minister the proposition that the tractor should be allowed to operate within 20 miles of the owner's residence?

Not more than 20 miles from the auction mart.

What is the difference?

It is not 20 miles around the owner's residence but around the auction mart.

Suppose the owner's residence is 20 miles from the auction mart, does the Minister seriously contemplate using a tractor with a trailer for 20 miles for driving cattle?

I would hate it myself. I would not sit down for a month after it.

Nor would the Minister get up for two months.

These fellows are used to it.

A month there and a month back.

Is it suggested that this tractor, with the vehicle behind it, would take cattle 20 miles?

I do not think so. Twenty miles is the outside limit.

Where did the Minister get the 20 miles?

It is quite common.

I send cattle to a market 33 miles away.

These prodigious feats have been performed in various places. Dr. Vivian Fuchs recently did some prodigious things with tractors. Is it contemplated that it would be a normal operation that these tractors would be used for a 20 mile journey to the mart and back?

There are very few auction marts which draw cattle from more than 20 miles distance. The average distance travelled is a great deal less.

Is it contemplated that the penalty set out in Section 26 of the Bill will apply to offences committed in respect of the amendment which the Minister has now introduced?

Would the Minister consider allowing the use of a tractor to take cattle to a railway station? In the West of Ireland, the cattle markets are very far away from one another. One is probably the most that can be set up in each county. Take my own county, for instance. Two cattle markets are held there—one at Ballina and the other at Ballymote. I know people and the nearest they can get to that is 30 miles. I appeal to the Minister to consider, between now and the Report Stage, increasing the 20 miles to at least 25 miles. I know there will be great hardships in that. I also urge that permission be given to bring the cattle in a lorry. Consider the position if cattle are being sent to the Dublin market. Take a man living 30 miles from a railway station. How would he get the cattle there?

I could not agree to that at all. The attraction of this proposal, this limited modification of the restrictions of the Road Transport Act, from my point of view, is that the Guards can be facilitated in permitting its operation. They will know the day on which the auction mart is held They will be able to check any operations carried out on that day and, furthermore, they will know the position as it applies on any other day when an auction mart is not being held.

This could be 40 miles away—20 miles on either side of the residence.

Once you are talking about transportation to the railway stations or fairs or something that could be done on any day—then, of course, it becomes impossible.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 4th June, 1958.