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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 5 Nov 1970

Vol. 249 No. 5

Road Transport Bill, 1970: Second Stage.

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The Bill proposes amendments of road transport legislation to free the carriage of cattle, sheep and pigs for reward from the merchandise licence requirement and to provide for a measure of relaxation of the restrictions on the road freight haulage industry to enable the industry to adapt itself more easily to present and future requirements.

The proposal to decontrol carriage of cattle, sheep and pigs arises out of my consideration of the findings of an interdepartmental study group which examined whether restrictions on the carriage of cattle, sheep and pigs should be removed or relaxed. The group found in effect that the licensed haulage industry including CIE had been unable to meet adequately and flexibly the special needs of the livestock trade and that haulage of cattle, sheep and pigs could operate more effectively if restrictions were removed. A group set up by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries a short time before that to inquire into the store cattle trade also commented adversely on livestock haulage facilities.

It is apparent indeed apart from these studies that illegal haulage by interests associated with the livestock trade has become firmly established on a widespread basis and that reversal of this situation is impracticable. I am satisfied that a licensing system adequate for the exceptional needs of the livestock trade would involve the issue of so many licences that the effect would be equivalent to decontrol and wasteful of the time of civil servants, the gardaí and the courts. I consider, therefore, that the sensible and efficient solution is to remove cattle, sheep and pigs entirely from the scope of the Road Transport Acts. This is proposed in the present legislation.

It is not proposed to exclude the carriage of horses from the scope of the Transport Acts because the special considerations that warrant this course in the case of other livestock do not apply in the case of horses. Moreover, it would not be feasible to liberalise haulage of horses without including bloodstock. CIE who are virtually the only professional bloodstock carriers in the country are fully geared to cater for the needs of that traffic. Bloodstock carriage calls for highly specialised equipment and handling, and CIE have invested in a fleet of modern sophisticated bloodstock vehicles. The board also has special arrangements for door-to-door transport of horses between Ireland, the UK and the Continent. In addition the board co-operates with the racing and breeding interests by plating a panel of stud owners to enable them to carry for reward to and from stud farms within a 40 mile radius of their own studs. I am convinced that liberalisation of carriage of bloodstock would merely facilitate the erosion of the valuable traffic built up by CIE and undermine the economics of the regular service and costly equipment which is necessary.

As a result of reports in recent years it is now possible to measure the overall composition of the road freight transport market and to make a quantitative assessment of the extent to which the rigid restrictions on road haulage for reward either assisted the maintenance of railway services or affected the cost or efficiency of road haulage in general.

An analysis of road freight transport was carried out by the Central Statistics Office in 1964. This was published in 1967 as Sample Survey of Road Freight Transport 1964 and was presented to the Oireachtas (Pr. 9572). Subsequently, a paper based on the survey was delivered to the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society in 1967 by an officer of the Central Statistics Office in which the results were further analysed and relevant comparisons made with railway statistics and with the results of similar road transport surveys made in Britain. The survey was, of course, conducted on a sample basis and is subject, therefore, to sampling errors. The Central Statistics Office believe that the sampling errors for total road freight activity are only of the order of 2½ per cent but that sampling errors for detailed subdivisions may be significantly greater. Projections of these results and certain other figures used in these studies are also estimates and therefore subject to reservations. Nevertheless, this survey brought to light a great deal of new and valuable information of great relevance for national transport policy which has been of great assistance to me and my Department. I would like to take this opportunity of expressing my appreciation of the work of the Central Statistics Office in this field and of the officers concerned. I have been anxious to have similar and improved surveys carried out at regular intervals but, because of staffing difficulties, the Central Statistics Office have not, so far, been able to conduct further surveys.

I cannot deal at great length with the results of these studies but I should bring to the notice of Deputies some of the more important and relevant figures. Total estimated ton mileage for road freight traffic in 1964 was 1,048 million ton miles. Of this total it was estimated that 83 per cent was accounted for by haulage on own account using a total fleet of 44,180 vehicles. CIE road transport with 860 vehicles accounted for 6 per cent of the total and licensed hauliers with 1,140 vehicles for 11 per cent. This total figure, of course, included local deliveries and similar kinds of transport for which CIE and the licensed hauliers do not cater, but this element could not be segregated with any accuracy. Nevertheless, it is significant that for hauls of over 100 miles 81.5 per cent of tonnage was carried on own account, 4.7 per cent by CIE and 13.8 per cent by licensed hauliers.

In the same year, ton mileage of railway freight amounted to 212 million ton miles or 17-per cent of total estimated freight ton mileage for 1964. The railway, however, accounted for 24.9 per cent of tonnage for haulage over 50 miles. Comparisons with rail are relevant, of course, only where rail services are available and it is estimated that in 1964 the railway carried 43 per cent of tonnage originating in Dublin and 38 per cent of tonnage consigned to Dublin. The overall picture of freight transport in 1964 is, of course, a static one and it is necessary also to consider trends. Detailed or strictly comparable estimates are not available to anything like the same extent for other years because the sample survey was confined to 1964 but there are figures or estimates available which do show the trend. Thus total estimated road freight tonnage increased from 38 million tons in 1960 to an estimated 64 million tons in 1968, an increase of 26 million tons.

This latter figure is based on a projection of the 1964 sample survey results. CIE road freight tonnage increased from approximately 2.5 million tons by 1½ million tons to 4 million tons in 1969. Tonnage figures for licensed hauliers are not available except for 1964 when they amounted to 6.4 million tons but total mileage accounted for by licensed hauliers increased from 27 million miles in 1964 to 33 million miles in 1967, and it may be assumed that tonnage increased in at least a comparable ratio. Rail freight, which amounted to 2.69 million tons in 1960, fell to 2.46 million tons in 1964 and increased to 3 million tons approximately in 1969. The general picture which emerges is of a growing volume of freight of which the railway share is relatively static. A small part of the increase is accruing to CIE road freight and to the licensed hauliers but the bulk of the increase in volume is being carried on own account.

The increase in rail tonnage since 1960 is due mainly to increases in bulk long-haul traffic and this is reflected in the steadily increasing average length of haul from 82.2 miles in 1960 to 101.27 miles in 1969. While CIE has been able to maintain, and even increase, the absolute volume of rail freight this continues to be a diminishing portion of the growing total volume of freight. Moreover, maintenance of the volume of rail business has involved keeping down rail freights to highly competitive levels. Thus average rail receipts per ton mile which were 4.93 pence in 1959 amounted to only 4.37 pence in 1969 despite the heavy increases in costs in the interval. It is clear that the prospects of increasing rail freight depend very much on bulk and long-distance traffic carried at rates sufficient to deter large commercial and industrial interests from using or increasing their own fleets.

A striking feature of the figures I have quoted is the inordinate proportion of road freight carried on own account. In Ireland in 1964, 81 per cent of total tonnage was carried on own account and 81 per cent of tonnage hauled over 100 miles was also on own account. By contrast, in Britain in 1962 only 51 per cent of total tonnage was carried on own account and only 32 per cent of tonnage on hauls over 100 miles was on own account. A further contrast is to be found in vehicle utilisation. In Ireland own account lorries over five tons performed on average 186,000 ton miles as compared with 132,000 in Britain showing greater utilisation of own account vehicles in Ireland. But in the case of haulage for reward annual average ton mileage for similar vehicles in Ireland was only 109,000 compared with 293,000 in Britain, indicating an inferior utilisation of Irish vehicles in this sector.

Disparity in vehicle utilisation is also reflected in much higher empty mileage per vehicle in Ireland than in Britain. A further contrast with Britain lies in the composition of the whole road haulage fleet. In Ireland the professional road haulage industry consists of CIE with some 860 vehicles, unrestricted as to size or area, together with some 840 professional hauliers of whom 700 are restricted to only one vehicle and not more than 20 can operate three vehicles or more. Only 100 hauliers are licensed to carry throughout the State. In Britain there is a large number of substantial firms engaged in the industry who suffer no restrictions as to size or area such as apply in Ireland at present.

These comparisons, despite the differences in condition in the two countries, do suggest a significantly lower level of efficiency in the road freight industry in Ireland with consequent higher costs and poorer quality of service for industry and trade. Indeed, it is clear that individual firms limited to one or a few vehicles and in most cases restricted as to area cannot offer comprehensive or efficient services, avail themselves of modern management techniques, or employ highly qualified personnel. Neither can they benefit from economies of scale or organised back-haulage so as to enable them to offer rates more competitive with own account operation.

The CIE road freight fleet is, of course, subject to no similar restrictions but its management must take account of the interests of the railway, provide railhead deliveries and collections and operate regular services, not always economic, to meet public need and replace withdrawn railway services. Against this background, therefore, it is not surprising that over the years there should have been a very marked trend to own account haulage by larger industries and traders accompanied by complaints of high transport rates and inadequacy and inflexibility of transport facilities.

The existence of inadequacy of facilities is well borne out by the fact that the price payable on transfer of a single-vehicle licensed business exclusive of goodwill and the cost of equipement, has, I am informed, exceeded £7,000. This figure merely represents the scarcity value of the licence and is by itself a very strong indication of the inadequacy of the private sector of the licensed haulage industry.

The considerations I have outlined suggest that not only have the rigid restrictions of the Road Transport Acts led to reduced efficiency and to a consequent inordinate growth of carriage on own account, but have not served to protect the railway to any significant extent. As I have indicated, rail freight has remained relatively static in our rapidly expanding economy, consisting more and more of the long-haul bulk traffics for which it is specially suited and the maintenance of this position has required holding down rates to a level competitive with large scale own account road transport.

Road transport licensing, which was always very much less restrictive in Britain, was the subject of a public Committee of Inquiry there in 1965. The report of this committee found, inter alia, that the restriction of road transport by licensing reduces efficiency with no off-setting advantages, had not helped the railways and could not do so without a very large and complex administrative machine and without placing a heavy burden on industry and trade. Restrictions on road freight transport in Britain have now been abandoned.

In other countries, also, quantitative restrictions on road transport haulage have been largely abandoned. Transport policy in Common Market countries aims at the most economic and efficient use of road transport under harmonised conditions of competition. Own account haulage in these countries is unrestricted and there is free access to the professional haulage industry, subject only to qualitative conditions related to professional competency, technical and safety considerations and financial integrity. We must accept that in the Common Market we would have to move towards a completely liberalised position for road transport.

Indeed, the conclusions I have earlier drawn would, in any case, indicate that in our own interests we should move in this direction. In our expanding economy with its growing element of foreign trade and dependence on exports the overall efficiency and cost of transport must be the main aim of transport policy; the possible effect on CIE's finances in my view must be a secondary consideration. In any case, I do not believe that the adverse effects on CIE, even of complete liberalisation, would be unduly serious.

The railway is maintaining its role in the bulk and long-distance carriage for which it is best suited but is doing so only by keeping rates down to a competitive level. CIE road freight services operate profitably. In so far as any particular measure of liberalisation led to an overall increase in efficiency with lower transport rates by licensed hauliers, CIE might well have to adjust their rates to remain competitive. The main competition to the railway, however, will inevitably continue to come from own account transport.

It is in any case indisputable that the cost of any reduction in CIE freight rates, in itself a very desirable measure in the interests of the economy and the export trade, would be very much less than the total reduction in cost over the entire transport sector and the consequent benefit to the whole economy, brought about by any general reduction in road freight rates. Even if this involved some marginal increases in subsidy to maintain the railways we would have to face up to it. Moreover, an increase in efficiency and reduced rates in the professional haulage sector should help to direct traffic from the own account sector with benefit to both the licensed hauliers and CIE.

In the light of what I have said it might well be argued that we should move rapidly, if not immediately, towards complete removal of quantitative restriction on road freight transport for reward subject only to qualitative conditions directed towards technical and professional competency, financial integrity and general social and economic interests. But there are other important considerations to be taken into account. The existing licensed hauliers whose opportunity to expand and improve their businesses has been impeded by the restrictions under which they work must be given an opportunity to put their house in order. Likewise, we must bear in mind the need to protect their substantial investment in vehicles and equipment and to avoid heavy over-investment in equipment which might be encouraged by too rapid measures of liberalisation.

We must also bear in mind the uncovenanted but real scarcity value of their licences for which many new entrants to the trade have in recent years paid in cash when acquiring existing licensed businesses. Already relaxation of administrative restriction on the transfer and acquisition of businesses and on lorry weight have permitted some expansion of activity and should permit the emergence of larger and more efficient units with consequent reduction in real transport costs. My aim is to proceed by stages so as to permit the existing haulage industry to expand and improve in efficiency in our growing economy to the point where we can consider the complete removal of quantitative restrictions and the admission of new entrants to the haulage business without prejudice to the equitable rights of existing efficient operators.

For this reason I am, at this stage, proposing only a modest measure of liberalisation which should facilitate some expansion and improvement in the efficiency of the private sector of the industry and which should have no significant adverse effects on the railway or CIE, but it is abundantly clear that in the context of our probable entry into the Common Market and the overriding need to improve efficiency and reduce transport costs in the interests of the export trade and of industry and agriculture generally, we shall have to move further in due course in the direction of abolishing all quantitative restrictions on haulage for reward. In the meantime, the market is growing rapidly and there is ample opportunity for all efficient operators, including CIE, to expand and improve their businesses.

The present Bill provides, firstly, for the removal of weight limitations on licensed vehicles. In earlier years the standard lorry weight provided for in hauliers' licences corresponded precisely with the weight of the vehicles as weighed for tax purposes and enforcement of the weight restrictions was simple and uniform. Changes in the law relating to vehicle taxation and the special weight concessions granted administratively to permit the use of diesel engines, creels, et cetera in the interests of more efficient operation have, in large measure, made it impossible to enforce weight restrictions satisfactorily. Most licensed hauliers are now operating the size of lorry which suits them best and the relaxation provided for in this Bill goes little beyond recognising the facts of the existing position. Instead, therefore, of being confined to the standard lorry weight prescribed by their licences as modified by existing concessions, hauliers will be free under the Bill to use the size of lorry best suited to their business but they will be limited to the number of lorries which they had in operation or were entitled to have in operation on the 1st January, 1969. This date has been chosen to ensure that hauliers who, in anticipation of this legislation, might have expanded the numbers of their fleets by acquiring lighter vehicles will not enjoy any unfair advantage. There is provision at section 4 of the Bill, however, to enable me to make fair and equitable adjustments in the case of hauliers who at the prescribed date were not operating their normal complement of vehicles.

I know that Deputies will be concerned lest a substantial increase in the number of heavy lorries should have deleterious effects on our roads. I do not anticipate that this measure will lead to any rush by hauliers to plate larger vehicles. As I have already indicated, they are at present generally in a position to use the type of vehicle that suits them best. There is no limitation at the moment on the size of vehicle used by CIE yet only half of the CIE fleet consists of lorries in excess of five tons unladen weight. Similarly, only a small percentage of the private account fleet consists of very large lorries. Licensed hauliers would have no greater incentive than CIE to use heavier vehicles. The dimensions and carrying capacity of vehicles are, of course, the responsibility of my colleague the Minister for Local Government from the safety and traffic point of view and nothing in this Bill affects any regulations or prejudices any steps which he may feel it necessary to take. I am satisfied, however, that any restrictions on the size or type of lorry which may be justified by safety considerations or in relation to wear and tear on the road system should apply all round and should not be confined to licensed hauliers who have less than 5 per cent of the total road haulage fleet. Of all lorries over five tons weight CIE, licensed hauliers and unlicensed hauliers—i.e. for turf and in city areas—operated 1,042 in August 1969 as compared with 2,041 such vehicles on own account.

This Bill also provides for the abolition of existing restrictions on area of operation. Of the 840 licensed hauliers concerned only 100 are at present entitled to carry throughout the State. The balance are entitled to operate in areas ranging from a radius of ten to 15 miles or a single county up to substantial areas comprising the greater part of the State. These restrictions have been a major factor in preventing improvements of efficiency in the industry. They have militated against the provision of comprehensive and efficient services to industry and the export trade and against the organisation of back-haulage with consequent reactions on costs. They have also discouraged the amalgamation of businesses into larger and more efficient units and have excluded a large number of hauliers from participation in the cross-border trade which was liberalised some years ago with the result that an unduly large proportion of this trade has now been taken over by Northern Ireland hauliers who are not subject to any restrictions of this kind. A final consideration is that liberalisation of cattle transport will bear heavily on those licensed hauliers who were legitimately engaged in it and it is both equitable and in the public interest to provide them with alternative opportunities to maintain and develop their businesses.

I should explain that the concessions provided for in respect of commodity and area apply only to existing carriers, that is those professional hauliers who were licensed under the 1933 Act or the 1944 Act which brought certain previously exempted areas within the ambit of the legislation. They do not apply to special licences granted since then to meet local needs or special circumstances such as licences to permit the use of small vehicles for local distribution of Sunday newspapers or for the operation of local services such as exist in Valentia and Achill islands for which no licensed transport was available.

Section 8 of the Bill will enable me to authorise road transport for reward by hauliers coming from abroad. The Government in 1966 authorised the complete liberalisation of cross-border haulage for reward subject to the exclusion of haulage from point to point within the State. This decision was taken because of the overriding importance of our export trade and the development of trade with Northern Ireland generally. With the development of car ferries between this country and Britain and the Continent there has emerged a rapidly growing roll-on/roll-off traffic, particularly in perishable commodities, including fruit and other imports from abroad and export of meat and other produce from this country. This traffic has been facilitated as far as possible by administrative measures which somewhat strain the statutory provisions of the Road Transport Acts. It is desirable and necessary to make appropriate provision to deal with these developments on a comprehensive basis. I should point out that it is the long-term policy in the Common Market and among the member countries of the European Conference of Ministers of Transport, of whom we are one, to achieve complete liberalisation of international road haulage subject to harmonisation of fiscal, technical and social conditions of competition. The Common Market countries and the European Conference of Ministers of Transport have already agreed on the establishment of experimental multilateral quota schemes which will enable holders of multilateral licences to operate freely throughout the territories of member countries. Presently, such international traffic in Europe is facilitated under bilateral agreements concluded on a reciprocal basis. To permit us to become parties to such multilateral or bilateral agreements and so enable CIE and our licensed hauliers to engage in this potential traffic and to regularise entry of foreign hauliers under formal agreements or otherwise the powers provided for under Section 8 of this Bill are essential.

Section 7 of the Bill provides for the regularisation of the licence held by a particular firm. It was found in the course of preparatory work for this Bill that this firm's licence, which had been issued under an incorrect category in 1937, was now on a strict interpretation of the law no longer valid. The Bill aims to remedy this position on a reasonable and equitable basis. I will deal with this point in detail on the Committee Stage.

I have spoken at some considerable length on what is after all a relatively short Bill which will not make any immediate substantial change in the law or practice governing road transport for reward. I have done so mainly because the Bill marks a departure from previous thinking and policy in this field and must be regarded as a first important step towards a completely new regime more in keeping with the growth and orientation of our economy and foreign trade and the practice in other countries, with whom we are likely to become very closely associated, even if we were not to become members of the Common Market. Our present legislation is very much a relic of the very different conditions and climate which prevailed from 30 to 40 years ago. It is now inadequate and inappropriate and the Bill represents the first of a series of measures which we shall have to take on a phased basis, over a number of years.

Before closing, I should reiterate that nothing in the present Bill should militate against existing legitimate interests. The aim is to secure greater efficiency and reduce transport costs, and to reverse the present trend of the industry to haulage on own account to the advantage of the professional haulage industry of which CIE road freight is the largest component. It is up to the haulage industry to ensure that these objectives are achieved by offering to all users of road transport the improvements in quality and efficiency of service which these relaxations are intended to provide.

I recommend the Bill to the House.

In so far as the actual provisions of this Bill are concerned we have no objection to them on this side of the House. In fact, I might say that the liberalisation of livestock haulage has been strongly advocated from these benches over the years. I recall in my time here in the Dáil that, in particular, my colleague Deputy Mark Clinton, played a leading part in focussing attention on the need for liberalisation of livestock haulage. Of course, there is also the report which the Minister has available to him of the inter-departmental study group which examined the whole question of the carriage of livestock.

This is a relatively minor Bill. In fact, looked at within the context of the whole question of modern transport and future developments vis-á-vis our possible membership of the EEC, it is a very minor Bill and is insignificant to a large extent. However, as the Minister said in his concluding remarks, it represents the first of a number of measures which will have to be taken over a period of years to gear our transport system to meet the tremendous challenge which lies ahead.

The Minister has advanced valid arguments for the liberalisation of livestock haulage. Of course, the most important is that the growth of illegal haulage in livestock was becoming widespread and was reaching a stage where the whole thing was becoming chaotic and even farcical. I welcome this move towards liberalising the haulage of livestock. I feel it will lead to better transport services for the Irish farmer and that it will lead to a more efficient operation all round. I agree with the Minister when he says that the sensible and efficient solution is to remove cattle, sheep and pigs entirely from the scope of the Road Transport Act.

The transport of horses has not been liberalised. I have given a good deal of thought to this and have discussed it with a number of people. There is by no means unanimity of opinion about the wisdom of excluding horses from the scope of this Bill. However, I must admit that I can see most of the points in favour of excluding horses, particularly the fact that bloodstock transport is a highly-specialised operation. You are hauling animals which can be valued at tens of thousands of pounds and therefore the safety aspect has to be taken into account. CIE have done a good job in equipping vehicles for the transport of bloodstock. I can see the point in separating the carriage of horses from the carriage of bloodstock. I have in mind particularly the non-bloodstock animals, in other words, ordinary farm animals. I suppose it possibly would lead to chaos and confusion defining what was bloodstock and what was not.

You would have first class and second class.

I am not arguing about the matter. I merely comment on it. The Bill itself, in so far as it removes some of the problems which have been encountered in the transport of livestock, is overdue, and I am in agreement with the measures proposed. I may have some amendments for Committee Stage when I get down to a more detailed study of the provisions over the week-end but in general, since it was circulated it has received a large measure of agreement, not merely from the agricultural industry, who have of course welcomed it, but also from the transport operators. The Minister has had a number of meetings with the road haulage associations and I have had discussions with them as well. There appears to be a general measure of agreement except for some technical amendments that have been suggested.

The significance of this Bill, in my opinion, lies not in the actual provisions, which are relatively minor and are purely interim measures, but in that it pinpoints in a very dramatic way an almost complete absence of national thinking and of a detailed study of the whole question of transport. I must confess, as spokesman for my party on transport, that I have encountered immense difficulty in trying to secure information, documentation and studies in relation to the whole field of transport.

I am surprised that the Minister did not avail himself of the opportunity, when introducing this Bill, of giving the House some indication of what is the thinking of the Government in relation to the future development of transport in this country. I have called in this House for the publication of a White Paper on transport which would be an in-depth study of the whole question of transport, both internally and externally. I pointed out in the EEC debate some months ago that with our possible entry to the European Economic Community transport will become a key factor in determining the competitiveness of Irish exports. This fact is not generally recognised. It certainly does not appear to be realised by the Government or by the Minister for Transport and Power that our geographical position and our remoteness from the heart of the European Economic Community will mean that Irish exporters will have to bear much higher transport costs in getting their goods to the market than will their competitors on the mainland of Europe. Transport will play a key role in determining the competitiveness of Irish exports in the EEC. Of course, the competitiveness of Irish exports in the EEC is basic and fundamental to our survival in the European Economic Community.

There has been a complete lack of consciousness on the part of the Government in this regard. No official study has been undertaken since the 1964 survey to which the Minister referred. The Government's White Paper on the EEC contains a chapter on transport which consists of about two or three pages, the subject matter of which is vague and gives no indication of what our future policy will be in relation to transport. I can only again avail of this opportunity here to urge on the Minister the vital importance of producing a White Paper on transport as soon as possible. He indicates here that this Bill is only an interim measure and that further legislation is on the way.

I submit to the Minister that it is impossible for the average Deputy to express a considered opinion on this highly technical and complex matter of transport unless the Government, with the resources available to them, and the Minister, with the expertise available to him in his Department and from the State companies, make an in-depth study of the whole question of transport. A White Paper should be produced and circulated to Members of this House and to all those involved in transport. This would enable a further study and discussion to take place and would enable this House to engage in a constructive manner in a debate on transport. A national transport policy is a matter of extreme urgency and this is the one recommendation I would make to the Minister.

The Minister has referred to the survey of 1964 and has extracted certain figures from it. I refer particularly to page 3, paragraph 6, of the Minister's speech where he gives a breakdown of the actual figures produced in this survey. I do not intend to go into a detailed discussion of the statistics in that survey but an extraordinary situation has come to light. We find that of the total road freight traffic in 1964, 83 per cent was carried in own-account vehicles, that is, firms who operated their own transport; 6 per cent was carried by CIE, and 11 per cent by licensed road hauliers.

The fact that 83 per cent of the total road freight traffic was carried by people who had operated their own vehicles is a complete indictment of the restrictive transport legislation in force since 1933, and proves conclusively the need for these measures of liberalisation and perhaps for further measures of liberalisation as well. I would express the hope that, as a result of this liberalisation now, there would be a significant reduction in the number of own-account vehicles which will be operated.

That is the purpose of it.

I sincerely hope this will happen. I have been thinking about this matter and I believe that the restrictive legislation has prevented the development of professional, highly efficient, low-cost transport operations by hauliers. Because of all the restrictions in the various legislative measures, the licensed haulier was unable to equip himself to make the best possible use of economies of scale and so forth. I think it would be reasonable to assume that this legislation will bring about a reduction in the total amount of traffic carried by own-account hauliers and an increase in the amount of traffic carried by professional licensed hauliers and perhaps by CIE as well.

There is one problem that occurs to me and it is one the Minister will probably have to bear in mind. I think the licensed hauliers organisation may have brought it to his attention; they certainly mentioned it to me. It is that if the licensed road hauliers are to grasp the opportunities presented to them now and if they are to gear themselves to the maximum possible efficiency, this will entail a considerable investment in equipment, in vehicles and so on. It may well be that there will be a case for financial assistance, perhaps by way of grant or loan, to enable the licensed road hauliers to bring their fleets up to international European standards. Every day we see huge vehicles coming in here from the Continent and transporting products across to the mainland of Europe. Not far from my own place, in the north of the neighbouring county of Cork, I see refrigerated trucks which come from southern Italy to a local meat factory— incidentally, the proprietor of the meat factory is from the Minister's constituency—cross the ferry, drive down to Charleville, load up and drive back again. Seeing these monsters, their dimensions, the highly sophisticated equipment and so forth they contain, I could not even hazard a guess as to the cost of these vehicles. However, if the licensed hauliers of this country are to attempt to compete for this business they must be equipped to do so.

If continental hauliers can come in here, collect goods and carry them across Europe, I see no reason why our licensed hauliers should not be able to engage in this type of traffic. They may be but I have not analysed this sufficiently to be able to say definitely or even to suggest to the Minister the type of financial assistance they should get to enable them to buy adequate equipment and vehicles for this international traffic. If we become members of the European Economic Community this type of international traffic is going to grow and it will raise a whole new series of questions and problems. I would ask the Minister to look into this further and see if there is a case for some measure of assistance for the road haulage industry. There may well be a strong case—certainly it should be considered—for State assistance for the road haulage industry somewhat on the lines of the re-equipment grants and the adaptation grants which have been given to manufacturing industries.

I am sure the figures in the 1964 survey are outdated and I think it would be worth considering having another survey carried out. The 1964 survey states that 11 per cent of the total traffic was carried by licensed hauliers and 6 per cent was carried by CIE. I agree with a remark made by the Minister the other day in relation to CIE that one has to think of the employment and the social repercussions of any particular legislation, but fears have been expressed to me by certain people employed in the road freight section of CIE about the future and about the possibility of redundancies because of this liberalisation. I have looked into this problem as best I could. It is only right to say that Members of this House have had very little time for cold, rational, analytical thinking during the last few weeks and it was difficult to get down to it, but I do not think there are any grounds or should be any grounds for fears in the road freight section of CIE. It is my opinion that the future role of CIE in freight will be in highly specialised, highly technical, highly capitalised haulage. I am conscious of this because of two instances which I have seen in my own constituency: one is the bulk haulage of cement and the other is the haulage of iron-ore from the Silvermines to Foynes. These are two highly specialised type of bulk haulage, and I feel it is this type of haulage which CIE will be engaged in in future because private enterprise hauliers would not be able to find the capital to provide the equipment and vehicles to engage in it. There is no doubt that with the development of mining and the expansion of building, provided CIE is properly equipped and does its job properly, the expansion in its freight traffic should continue in the next decade. If this anticipated increase along the lines of bulk haulage materialises there should be increased opportunities for new employment in the road freight section rather than redundancies.

The absence of a national study on transport is very apparent here. It is wrong to discuss transport in the narrow, restricted context of road transport. One cannot think in terms of a national transport policy by confining oneself to roads. There must be an integrated transport system where the optimum use is made of both road and rail transport.

I was astonished to find out, during the recent studies and research I have done on this question, that our internal transport costs are the highest in western Europe. In the light of what I said at the outset about the implications of EEC membership for the Irish transport industry this is a very serious matter which will have to be tackled. It is impossible for any student of transport to get a clear picture of the whole transport situation here or even to analyse the reasons why we have such a high cost internal transport system because of the lack of study and information. The obvious reasons which spring to mind are duplication, overlapping, restrictive legislation and so on. Even though transport may not have been emphasised from the national point of view in the past, it is going to come more and more into the picture in the future. The Government, the Minister for Transport and Power and Members of this House will be failing in their duty if they do not tackle this important problem of transport and devise ways and means of ensuring that when we join the EEC Irish exporters will have an internal transport system as efficient and competitive as in any EEC country. I would fear for the future of many Irish exports if we cannot solve this problem. Internal transport is only one aspect of the whole question but the present system and the costs give cause for alarm and if these costs are not tackled and brought down our exporters will face a very serious problem. There is a serious obligation on the Government and the Minister for Transport and Power and all concerned with this business to tackle these problems as a matter of urgency and get down to the task of gearing our internal transport system so as to provide Irish exporters with the lowest possible transport costs.

The picture is brighter when one looks at the developments in external transport that have taken place recently. Particularly relevant to this Bill is the advent of the car ferries and the growth in freight traffic on them. Most people here look on the ferries as car ferries transporting tourists to and from this country but I have been agreeably surprised to find from inquiries I have made and from various documents I have read that there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of freight carried by these ferries in the past couple of years. I quoted one example earlier in regard to freight vehicles coming from southern Italy to Charleville to bring back meat in refrigerated containers. The growth of this traffic has been fantastic. I have no figures readily available but in the issue of Business and Finance for 30th October, 1970, there is a report for the year on the Normandy Ferries by Mr. Michael Stynes. On page 28 it states:

1970 has been the most successful year so far for Normandy Ferries as regards freight...

This is highly significant because Normandy Ferries is a continental ferry.

It is noticeable that this season an increasing number of English and Continental hauliers are using this service in competition with the Irish hauliers. The large number of French, German, Italian and Spanish lorries which have been seen on our roads this year illustrates this. The growth of this type of transport in Ireland has indeed been very slow, and has in no way kept pace with the increases in traffic. Perhaps one of the main reasons for this is the fact that all suitable towing or tractor units have to be purchased in England, as none are readily available in Ireland...

To give an idea of the capacity of these vehicles and the dimensions of them and so forth Mr. Stynes goes on to say: is not unusual for some to carry 950 frozen lamb carcases...

He gives details of some other commodities as well and then says:

This would represent up to 20 tons net weight.

There has been a colossal growth in the amount of freight traffic carried by trucks through the ferry and most of this traffic is being carried by continental hauliers who are coming in here and taking out goods. There has been no parallel development in this country. I understand that CIE have built one vehicle and that it has been carrying out test runs to the Continent. I think the Minister mentioned this last year in the debate on the 1969 Transport Bill and said that CIE had manufactured a heavy haulage vehicle which I think was refrigerated, and which was carrying out test runs to various continental countries.

Experts in the business forecast a considerable growth in this type of traffic and it would be a pity if all this future traffic were to be taken over by continental hauliers. This emphasises once again what I was saying earlier about the need for an examination of the Irish haulage industry and the possibility of helping it to gear itself for the future by purchasing heavy vehicles and equipment and so on to enable it to compete with continental haulage. This will become a serious problem when we enter the Common Market because under the common transport policy of EEC there will be free movement of goods between one country and another and we must permit continental hauliers to come here. Similarly, Irish hauliers will be permitted to work on the Continent. Of course, foreign hauliers coming here will not be allowed to engage in point-to-point traffic within the country and similarly Irish hauliers will not be able to pick up goods in Paris and drop them in Dieppe or elsewhere.

There is colossal growth in ferry freight traffic and a considerable increase in the number of continental road vehicles coming here but there has been no parallel development on the Irish side.

That is because of the situation up to now. This Bill improves that position.

I suppose a number of private commercial firms may be bringing in products direct to the Continent through the ferries.

This Bill will help by removing some of the restrictions.

My point is that there has been no parallel development in the licensed road haulage business here. I wonder whether private commercial firms with a large export business are in fact bringing out their goods through the Continent in their own vehicles——

That is developing. This Bill will enable more professional hauliers to do that sort of thing. There are some private haulage companies who I hope will do precisely what the Deputy is talking about.

The Minister referred to transport developments in Europe and to the changes which will have to be made in transport legislation here in the light of our possible entry into the EEC. Major legislative changes will be necessary because, if we enter the EEC, we will have to subscribe to the common transport policy. A policy has been evolved over the last ten years, somewhat slowly, but certain important rules and regulations have been made covering conditions of work, daily hours of driving, the fixing of tariffs, the taxation of vehicles and the weight and dimension of vehicles. We will have to have common rules and common regulations under a common transport policy if we enter the EEC. Much bigger vehicles are permitted on the Continent. The driving hours per day are fewer than they are here. Taxation and so forth will have to be harmonised and brought into conformity with the common transport policy.

One important aspect from the point of view of greater harmonisation is the growth in the number of heavy vehicles and the problem such vehicles will create on our roads. The Minister referred to this, but not in any great detail. He does not anticipate any rush by hauliers to operate larger vehicles. There is no limitation as to size in the case of vehicles used by CIE, but we must face the fact that there is a limit to the carrying capacity of our roads. If there is a continuous increase in the number of heavy vehicles using our roads this will pose a serious problem for the road authorities here. This is a problem which will have to be tackled.

We shall have to decide what our policy will be in relation to internal transport. To what degree will road transport take over from rail transport? To what degree can rail transport be utilised to provide an efficient haulage service? These are highly technical questions posing complex problems. The only way in which to cope with the situation is for the Minister to take the initiative. The time is overdue for such initiative. The Minister must initiate an in-depth study of internal transport here and he will have to publish the results of this study. I shall be very critical of the Minister if he introduces further legislation on transport without an in-depth study of the entire situation. I am rather surprised that the Minister has not engaged in this type of exercise.

There are too many studies in depth. What we want is a bit of action.

The transport companies have done a great deal of very valuable work in their study of the problem. I have here a report from the shipping companies, transport companies and the road haulage association. There is need now to co-ordinate and harmonise the contradictory viewpoints.

There has been considerable controversy as to whether or not a national transport planning authority should be set up. The Minister must decide now what future transport policy will be, whether there will be a national transport planning authority, on what lines future transport development will take place and by whom it will be controlled. There is grave need for formulating and implementing a proper transport policy designed to make the optimum use of all our transport resources by rail, road and sea.

The Minister has a serious responsibility in this matter. The Minister's comprehensive speech broadened the scope of the debate. When the Committee Stage is reached there will be some technical amendments upon which, perhaps, we may be able to reach agreement.

For what appears to be a relatively modest Bill, this Bill seems to be quite revolutionary in a most satisfactory way. That does not mean I have not a particular criticism to make, to which I shall refer later in the light of information I have been given. On the whole, the liberalisation of road transport of livestock is merely a recognition of something that existed. As the Minister has mentioned, there were only about 100 existing licences that covered the entire country; many were restricted to relatively small areas. There is no doubt that from the general economic point of view this Bill contains worthwhile provisions.

On the whole, the rather messy approach to the question of road transport is almost entirely a creation of Fianna Fáil. Among other reasons for this was the fact that there was too much concentration on the comparatively small losses incurred by CIE, in view of the fact that CIE are almost part of our social organisation system. It is strange that this Government, which was almost a radical socialist Government in the 1930s, never got round to dealing with transport in a radical socialist way. Fianna Fáil did not even nationalise the railways; it was left to others to nationalise them in 1949. The railways were not relieved of the duty of being common carriers until much later and this has had serious effects during the years.

I appreciate the Minister's review of the system but I am rather surprised that he was not able to give us more up-to-date figures. In paragraph 6 of the Minister's statement there are some interesting figures but they relate to 1964. Perhaps the Minister could not have given us figures for the private side of transport in more recent years but he should have been able without difficulty to have interpolated some figures in relation to CIE. The private side of transport has constituted the greater part of the system in this country and this is a discovery one makes when one investigates this matter. The Minister has stated that 83 per cent of the total ton miles was accounted for by people using their own transport — a total fleet of 44,180 vehicles. I suppose there is no more difficult subject in economics than the economics of transport. There are a variety of reasons for this, one being the inevitability of return journeys that gives rise to what are known in other parts of the study of economics as "joint costs". This gives rise to the most complicated difficulties. The most successful people in the transport business are those who are able to get return cargoes.

The Minister did not refer to one matter in this connection, namely that the road freight department of CIE is one of the more successful parts of that organisation. For example, in the last complete financial year there was a net profit of £84,000. On the basis on which other organisations work there was an operating profit of nearly £200,000. I have voiced frequently my objection to the words "operating profit", but I suppose one could not repeat it too often. It is interesting to note that now the Minister is liberalising the carriage of livestock. According to the last report the receipts were only £170,000; this is only one-half of 1 per cent of the total receipts of CIE. It is only a flea bite in the organisation——

It is not a flea bite in the context of disemployment.

This is the point I wanted to make and I noticed the Minister did not refer to it in his brief. I take it he expected someone to make the point and he would reply to it at the end of the debate. I have had representations from the men employed in the road freight section of CIE in the Waterford area. They are extremely concerned about the possible effects on their work and whether there will be redundancies in that area. From the figures that are given here I do not think it will be as important in the Dublin area where the railways seem to shunt most of the freight in and out of Dublin. I should like the Minister to deal with the question of whether there is any danger of unemployment in the Waterford area.

One could make a very good case on rational grounds for the complete nationalisation of transport. Whether it would work is a different matter; I am not advocating that course but am merely making an observation. There must be a great deal of waste in private firms who, for reasons of convenience, use their own transport——

It is the purpose of this Bill to diminish that waste.

The Minister is going to help it a little. There has been an appalling mess made in this entire matter. One of the Minister's predecessors, who used to pride himself on talking about efficiency, did not attempt to deal with this matter in the long period he was in the Department. This problem of the illegal carriage of livestock, as it was called, did not grow up in a day or two.

In order to be able to operate efficiently — and I am talking about economic efficiency — a firm must be relatively large and must be able to engage teams of people, such as work study experts, in the organisation of their transport. Large firms like Unilever and the ICI in England reorganise various sections of their transport from time to time. We have practically no other organisation of the size of CIE here. Some time ago the Department of Industry and Commerce were pressed by CIE to push the Irish Sugar Company out of the carrying business. They got very little help from me on that occasion. I did not necessarily think they were wrong and although I am fond of fighting battles I do not like fighting battles with one inevitable result through time, and the final result in that battle, when General Costello was in charge, would have been defeat for anybody who tried to impose the national system of transport on the Irish Sugar Company. The suggestion never came to anything.

So far the discussion has been pin-pointing the problem. It is not much use phasing the problem. It is easy to phase a problem. The difficulty lies in coming up with some solution. That often requires much blood and sweat. One thing seems strange to me and that is not that the Minister has kept the carriage of bloodstock for CIE— the reasons given in his speech for that are cogent — but I do not understand why the Minister did not liberalise the carriage of horses for slaughter. We all see these horses in open vehicles with their heads sticking out sideways. I only have the knowledge a person gets from seeing things, but the kind of vehicles in which bloodstock are conveyed are often quite different from the kind of vehicles used for carrying horses for slaughter.

It is a specialised thing.

I am fully in agreement with keeping that with CIE. There is a provision under which a number of people coming together can get a licence. This is all perfectly logical. Maybe there are difficulties and arguments about whether the animals are bloodstock or horses for slaughter.

It is an enforcement problem mainly.

I should like to come back to the question of employment in the private sector of this industry. In the private sector of the industry at one end of the scale we have the oil companies and the ESB, although they are not quite so good as employers, and at the other end of the scale we find transport workers are among the lowest-paid workers in the country. The people employed driving lorries in parts of the country where the trade unions are relatively powerless are very badly paid. When one considers the hours they work and their responsibilities one sees that they are among the lowest-paid workers in the country. It is extremely desirable for that reason that CIE should remain in the business. With this liberalisation CIE will continue to do some carriage of livestock.

Before this Bill ever came into the House we were aware of these enormous contraptions on the roads. Two things will have to be done. This practice of having two enormous trucks, one behind the other, and one being a container and the other being the truck itself, 40 to 50 feet in length, going along the roads at 40-50 miles an hour, is extremely dangerous. There is one firm I shall mention not because of anything unusual about them but because their vehicles are certainly very noticeable, and they use these enormously heavy vehicles. This firm is Roadstone. Every time I see one of their vehicles approaching me I hope that it will not run off the road. One gets that feeling about them. These vehicles are like 50-ton tanks and they could do great destruction if there were an accident or if they went off the road. This question of mechanisation obliterating man is one aspect of a major problem in our society.

Deputy T. O'Donnell and the Minister himself referred to the awful wear and tear which these vehicles cause on the roads. The damage to the roads must be enormous. Admittedly very high licence fees are paid for these vehicles. I have a suspicion that the licence fees are not nearly comparable with the damage they do. We must decide some time that in this relatively small island, which is only 150 miles wide and 300 miles long, we must stop imitating the Americans. There is no point at all in this continuous imitation of what the Americans do. Deputy T. O'Donnell said that if we entered EEC transport would become a key factor. The Minister also used the conditional tense.

There is a reason for transport becoming a key factor which cannot be disposed of, and this is our distance from the ceneral industrial triangle of the EEC. There is nothing we can do about this. No matter how good we become we have no hope of affecting or disposing of this problem no matter which method we might adopt. In his speech, the Minister said he would liberalise licences and he continued:

A final consideration is that liberalisation of cattle transport will bear heavily on those licensed hauliers who were legitimately engaged in it and it is both equitable and in the public interest to provide them with alternative opportunities to maintain and develop their businesses.

I think the writer of that sentence allowed his mind to run away with him at that stage. Already we had been told that this carriage was being carried on illegitimately on a vast scale. It could cut both ways. It does not do any harm to have it provided for but I do not think it is logical if we did in conjunction with the earlier part of the Minister's speech. Sometimes when we are preparing a manuscript, when we come to the end of it we forget what we have written at the beginning. If people make long speeches here they tend at the end to forget what they said at the beginning and they contradict themselves. This is not unusual.

On the whole, the Minister is to be congratulated for having tackled this problem. I should like, however, to deal with a statement he made towards the end of his speech.

Before closing, I should reiterate that nothing in the present Bill should militate against existing legitimate interests.

I think the employment of road freight workers by CIE in and around Waterford is a legitimate interest and it has no reference to the vested interests which we are so careful to protect in this country. Subject to that consideration, which I hope the Minister will refer to when replying, I welcome the Bill which, it seems to me, might well have been introduced many years ago.

Like Deputy O'Donovan, I welcome the Bill, which represents acceptance of an idea I tried to put into the mind of the previous Minister for Transport and Power in regard to the inability of CIE to cope with our expanding need for road transport. So many unlicensed hauliers had suffered in the courts by way of fines because of the lack of foresight of the previous Minister in this respect that I and a few others can claim a considerable amount of credit for the introduction of this Bill: through persistence, dedication and knowledge of the facts, we have brought about a change of heart within the Department in regard to the perpetuation, through subsidisation, of CIE as sole road hauliers.

Since the day I came here I have been fighting to have a Bill of this type introduced to alleviate the problems we have been suffering from in regard to road haulage, problems which have been growing in proportion to the expansion in our economy. We have been experiencing greater need for road transport. The people realise this and I am glad to say that this Bill shows the Minister has come to realise it also.

However, in welcoming the Bill I want to say that there is one matter in regard to which the Minister should make a slight change. The Bill provides that all existing licensed road hauliers will benefit with the exception of what are described as 26-county hauliers. There are about 100 of those at present and their position is that if they have licences covering three trucks they can cover the entire area of the 32-counties. Those who have licences covering only one truck can cover only three, six or 12 counties and they are competing against the other people. I am glad that the latter have been given this facility but we must consider it in conjunction with the position of the 26-county hauliers who have not been given anything. In all fairness, those people, who have paid large sums of money for their imminence of a Bill of this sort, should be treated realistically.

I understood that those 100 hauliers were the original people——

Not necessarily.

The bulk of them are.

Not necessarily. A number of licences have changed hands during the past eight years and even during the past two or three years. What I am asking the Minister to do is to give a licence, or a plate as we call it, to every 26-county licensed haulier in respect of what he has lost because of his involvement in this trade. It is only fair that he should do this for people who kept this trade alive, people who had to compete against CIE, who were subsidised, and against the unlicensed hauliers. CIE could not cope with the work, the licensed hauliers were overloaded and illegal haulage was going on to such an extent that something had to be done about it. The regrettable thing is that so many people suffered before the introduction of this Bill.

I accept the principles of the Bill but I ask the Minister to insert a provision which would compensate the 100 people I have mentioned for their losses. If they could be given even a plate to cover one more lorry it would be compensation of a kind. They have been the heart and soul of the licensed haulage business and now, when the whole thing is being thrown wide open, they deserve special consideration.

I shall not be able to comment on all the points raised by Deputy Foley. He mentions the 100 hauliers who hold a 26-county plate. As far as I understand the situation, these plates were very coveted and men were prepared to pay extraordinary prices for any old lorries so long as they carried a 26-county plate. Deputy Foley has expressed a wish that these people should be compensated in some measure for the loss of the relative monopoly which they have enjoyed up to now and he asks that another lorry be given to them on their existing plate.

I do not know in what light the Minister would consider that. I would have to do a lot of thinking before deciding whether the Deputy is right or wrong in his suggestion. No one likes to see any small section of the community suddenly disaffected by legislation of which they could have had no knowledge and they could not have had any knowledge that this legislation was impending because this thing has been dragging on for a number of years.

Our whole history of efforts in the field of transport has not been satisfactory. Indeed, such efforts have not been satisfactory in any country. The British transport system, for instance, and, particularly, the British rail system, was faced with great difficulties. Our CIE evolved from the Great Southern Railways. Many years ago there was a solvent transport service here in Dublin, the Tramway Company. At that time private buses operated up and down the country. One particular company which was initiated in Dublin was sponsored by a family in my home town of Cashel. That company was known as Green Buses. It operated in competition with Dublin Tramways who also had a fleet of buses in the country.

A gentleman who was employed as an accountant with Green Buses later became a member of that company. Later, still, he was employed by Dublin Tramways. He succeeded in buying out the Cashel company and amalgamating it with Dublin Tramways. It was at that stage that Mr. Lemass introduced his transport reorganisation here and took over Great Southern Railways. The gentleman who was in charge of Dublin Tramways was appointed head of the new CIE and Mr. Lemass's brother was appointed general manager. That was the beginning of our movement into State management of transport.

Down through the years we have been bedevilled by the notion that CIE must be solvent. Various measures and considerable expenditure were involved in trying to achieve that aim and it was to be achieved on the basis that CIE should be given a monopoly. However, it is accepted now that the notion of rendering CIE solvent has been more or less forgotten. Year after year we come here and vote a substantial subvention to CIE. People have gone past the stage of asking why the company is not paying its way and it is being regarded as much in the nature of a social service as a commercial concern.

In general, I welcome the Bill. It is a small measure but a very important one. It represents a fundamental departure in thinking. I believe it should have been introduced some few years ago. In introducing this Bill the Minister has been forced largely by pressure of events: it was more or less a Hobson's choice. We had the position where illegal haulage in livestock had become virtually irreversible. We had reached the stage when the gardaí were going from mart to mart summonsing farmers and bringing them before the court. When these men were fined, they wrote in outraged anger to the Minister for Justice complaining that fines had been imposed on them for having brought a few cattle to the fair. There was little sympathy with the gardaí in their efforts and they were being brought to the stage of unpopularity and disrepute by their activities in summoning farmers for what the farmers regarded as their right to bring their own produce to the mart or to the fair.

Therefore, it will be seen that the Minister is merely accepting a position that has already arisen and which is now irreversible in relation to this illegal haulage. In any case, there is no point in calling this haulage illegal. We introduced a system of legislation which the people have found to be unacceptable and if people will not obey a law there is no use in pushing that law to the stage where it is ridiculous.

Another factor mentioned was that already most of the road freight haulage has passed into the hands of private hauliers, that about 83 per cent or four-fifths has gone already to these private hauliers and that there is no point in trying to hold the remainder in the hope that somehow or other CIE, at some future date, might become solvent by getting control of that type of work. That is not a practical proposition. To use a modern term, it is not on.

I give no credit to the Minister for having introduced this Bill. A third factor which forced him to introduce the legislation is our projected entry to the EEC and the transport liberalisation which our membership of the Community would involve. If we are accepted as a member of the EEC, this liberalisation will occur. Therefore, the Minister has not done anything unusual: he is merely accepting the inevitable.

Yet another factor which made it incumbent on the Minister to accept the position as he has accepted it is that our Irish haulage system, as has been shown in his own speech, is and has been more restricted than the corresponding haulage system operating in Great Britain. In fact, Irish utilisation of haulage trucks and lorries, measured in terms of efficiency, is only about one-third of the utilisation efficiency obtaining in Great Britain. Therefore, the same position obtains here as one might say obtains in the case of small farmers who buy a lot of heavy machinery which they leave lying in their haggards for the greater part of the year, such as tractors and so on. They have not got the superstructure or the necessary set-up to utilise the expensive equipment with which they have become involved. In the same way it would appear that our haulage system suffers from over-capacity and under-utilisation, if that is the correct interpretation of what the Minister stated.

A fifth reason, and this, too, is brought out in the Minister's speech, is the question of the North of Ireland hauliers. He rightly stresses the importance of our trade with the North of Ireland. Small though that trade may be, by virtue of the fact that Northern Ireland like ourselves is a small community, it is the only country in the world, or rather the only area with which we have a positive trade balance and, therefore, it is important that we should improve our transport with the North of Ireland. The unrestricted facilities available to Northern hauliers must be met here by a corresponding liberalisation of transport facilities to give our people in that field equal opportunity so that they might be equally competitive with our northern fellow-Irishmen and able to hold their own.

These are the reasons which have induced the Minister to introduce this liberalisation measure. Deputy Dr. O'Donovan said that from our general economic viewpoint this Bill is necessary. I think that is correct, that the general economic circumstances of our community take precedence over any narrower viewpoint such as the preservation of CIE or any obsolete attempts to make CIE a solvent concern. In general, I feel that the Minister has accepted the inevitable, accepted a departure from the type of administration which over the years has been foolish and did not show very much deep thinking or planning ahead. It is regrettable that the rosy promises made many years ago by Mr. Lemass when he moved into transport and established CIE have not materialised. However, we have to accept that position, a position in which we are not alone because difficulties in trying to make transport systems solvent have also arisen in other countries and it would be unfair to lambaste Mr. Lemass and the Government entirely with failure in this regard. It has been a feature in other countries where they are better conditioned and better placed to make national transport systems work.

Deputy Dr. O'Donovan mentioned that we had not nationalised the railways. I do not know what difference that would make. I cannot see what nationalisation as a doctrinaire philosophy would have done, whether it would have done more for us than what has been done. CIE are being managed as a semi-State body and I do not know what the difference is between that and nationalisation. It must be some kind of dialectic novelty that escapes me for I do not know what difference it would make.

They were nationalised in 1949. My point was that they should have been nationalised in 1933.

What difference would that have made?

It would have made the difference that they were common carriers and had to carry freight or goods whenever they were offered them even if they were enormous losses on them, whereas the ordinary carrier could refuse traffic if he wanted to.

I recognise that.

That is an important point, is it not?

But then you must recognise other aspects of CIE's activities. For example, if you take a concern like the Sugar Company who have a contract for the transport of beet to their factories and if CIE run short of lorries at the peak period and are unable to meet that contract they enjoy a position of relative monopoly and they can sublet their business to the private haulier, but even when they do that they draw a commission on every load that is brought in. The small man with a small lorry can apparently make a living and survive doing that and pay a commission to CIE——

7½ per cent.

They have, in that field anyway, enjoyed a monopoly.

This does not prove anything. Parts of an organisation like this are highly remunerative and other parts are not.

We recognise that. It was in order to make CIE viable that the move was made at their establishment to take over the Dublin transport system.

Did Deputy Hogan ever go into the question of what it would cost the private haulier who does this odd day's work for CIE and who works for CIE under licence, to put him in the same position? Would he be able to give anything to anybody if he had to pay all his outgoings himself?

That is raising an entirely different question.

You must compare like with like.

I was taken down a side road there. I merely mentioned that CIE enjoy close to monopoly conditions in many fields and despite all that we have failed to make them a solvent proposition.

But the road freight section does not do too badly and this is the one we are talking about.

I know that.

Almost all of CIE's losses are on the railways.

I know that but if the road freight section was so good why have they not dramatically increased their hold of that business?

They do not do too badly.


I am talking about the losses on their operations financially.

Deputy O'Donovan was on the right line. The specialised type of road freight that they can do they do very well.

While I welcome this Bill it is, as the Minister mentioned, a limited measure. We will probably know more about it when it comes to Committee Stage and we will have the opportunity of having the thrust and parry of debate and getting more information from the Minister about what exactly he has in mind. As far as I can understand it weight limitations and area restrictions are to go. The removal of the area restrictions is calculated to lead to the evolution of larger scale, more efficient transport company formation.

That is an excellent idea and I can only hope that that will be the end result of the removal of the area restrictions. The Minister said that it is a limited measure because he is afraid that a number of people may have already jumped the gun. Weight limitations will go but the number of lorries which any concern may have will be limited to the number which they had on 1st January, 1969. That provision is being retained to cut out the smart alecks who may have jumped the gun and increased the number of their lorries to meet this legislation which they may have foreseen. I do not know whether that is worth doing. I do not know how many of these smart alecks there are. Maybe the Minister has investigated from the local authorities how many new lorries have been registered since. That would give him an indication. He has not told us whether there has been much jumping the gun in that respect. If there has been a considerable number of new registrations he may have a point but, until he can tell us the figure, we cannot know whether that restriction is worthwhile.

In general, I feel the Minister should have introduced a measure like this before now. He gives us figures based upon a survey taken in 1964 and bases some of his arguments on those figures, but surely those figures were a ground for the same arguments in 1964? The Minister also mentioned that another reason for the introduction of this Bill is our projected entry into EEC. Back in those times, too, our application had been made for entry into EEC. The Minister also argued that the restriction on private hauliers has become virtually non-operative. All of these facts were operative several years ago. The then Minister for Transport and Power should have considered those points and acted upon them. Therefore, a Bill of this type should have been introduced several years ago.

I do not know if our people as a whole realise how increasingly important transport will be as a cost factor in our trade, particularly as we are situated on the outskirts of Europe. The quantity of goods being transported is increasing every year. Our cattle trade is vitally important. Many people think that the transportation of live cattle will decrease because of transport costs and that our cattle export trade may take the lines of carcase beef or perhaps even boneless beef——

The trend is there.

There is even evidence that this will increase. In general I welcome this Bill. My only criticism is that its introduction is a bit late. In general, it presents the picture of a Minister who is reluctantly forced to accept the economic necessities of the 'seventies — a position which he or his predecessor should have faced in the 'sixties.

I shall be brief. Deputy O'Donovan dealt with most of the points in which we were interested. Because of our projected entry into EEC, the Minister states that the liberalisation of road transport is a "must". The haulage of animals has been a very big problem because very often CIE, with their limited number of vehicles, have been unable to supply transport. A local man with a lorry— which is supposed to be for his own use — would then haul his own neighbour's cattle — particularly sheep — with the result that the Garda set up a special squad to catch some such fellow. Instead of searching for people who had committed criminal offences the Garda would set up road blocks to catch some fellow who was (a) attempting to earn a living for himself and his family and (b) who was helping his neighbour by hauling his stock when that neighbour could not get any other means of transport. While there has been a considerable easement of the position in the past 12 months, people are being charged with carrying cattle or stock for reward without having a licence to do so.

I am amazed to hear the Minister talk of the number of people who haul their own property and the number of people with their own lorries for hauling. Practically everbody who was held up for hauling any type of property said he was the owner. It could be proved only later if he was not the owner and eventually he would be charged with a road haulage offence. An awful lot of people who say they are doing their own haulage are telling a white lie and I can quite sympathise with them in having to do so. There are people with licences for one or two lorries but they must be the most wonderful lorries in the world because they can be seen all over the place at the same time. The Minister does not have to go terribly far to be able to pick that one out.

The whole purpose of the legislation is to get rid of these anomalies.

The Minister does not have to try to get rid of monopolies. At present either a person has a licence for a lorry or he has not. If he has a licence for one or two lorries and he is running ten or 12, he is breaking the law as it stands, and nothing is being done under this legislation——

The whole purpose of this legislation is to get rid of the anomalies. At the moment it is unenforceable.

I wish the Minister the very best of luck in ridding himself of these anomalies. Deputy Hogan mantioned the CIE arrangement for farming out certain jobs if they find they are unable to deal with them themselves. Indeed, this has been happening. I do not know whether or not it is a good idea but it is the idea that seems to be working at present. Frankly, I do not think this Bill will do anything which will make that easier to operate if CIE have not got the lorries. If they are required to do a particular job and the lorries are not available, can the Minister tell me in what way it can be done except under the present system of giving a temporary licence to an unlicenced haulier?

It is not effective.

No, it is not effective but it was being referred to as if there were a remedy for it.

The Deputy is right.

A few years ago a very simple thing happened. A fish meal factory in the north-west of Ireland ran short of fish and, at the same time —and these things seem to happen— shoals of fish came in on the coast at Clogherhead. They nearly gave themselves up. The fishermen caught the fish and then they had to be brought across country by CIE lorries from Clogherhead to Killybegs. This was discontinued after a short time because the cost of the haulage of the fish was far greater than the value of the fish. This is one of the extra ordinary things that happen.

First of all the Minister says he does not think this will have much effect on the employment question in CIE. Maybe I have misread it, but I think he hints that even if transport were liberalised completely it might not have much effect on the employment problem. Am I right in assuming that?

It would reduce the own account.

Does the Minister not agree that very substantial employment is given by CIE on the road haulage side and that, in fact, this is one of the paying propositions of CIE?

We want to make it even more competitive.

More competitive. Does that mean that the Minister wants more competition which will result in a lowering of prices, which will result in this being turned——

And employment.

——from making a profit to making a loss?

We want them to make a profit and to give more employment. We want them to have a really modern specialist type of transportation. There is a very big future for the whole road freight section of CIE in this field.

I hope there is. Can the Minister go a little further and tell me something else? As we know, CIE have been using an almost standard type of lorry for general haulage. Is it proposed to allow for the importation— because apparently they are not being manufactured here—of a certain type of haulage lorry to operate here? Is any change being made there?

Section 8 would enable me to make regulations under EEC conditions.

That would be under EEC conditions only?

That is the purpose of the section.

Not this year or next year or the year after?

That is right.

For example, at present no refuse collection lorries are manufactured in this State. If CIE were using them they would have permission to import them, but I understand that private hauliers are not given permission to import them. The Minister might give his mind to that because there may not be another opportunity to clear it up. If the Minister feels this can be dealt with under existing legislation and that he can say: "OK. I can clear that up by order or by simply giving them advice", that is all right, but I believe that is not so, or at least I am told it is not so. If it is not so, could it be dealt with while this Bill is before the House? Until the question of the EEC is finally dealt with I suppose we will not be dealing with another Transport Bill. I am sorry if the Minister feels this is a little more complicated than it should be, but I can assure him that it is a real problem and, since it is a real problem, I beleive it should be dealt with. As the Minister will be dealing with it. I beleive this is the place to mention it.

Recently a man told me that he was hauling for a firm and he had not got a licence. I told him he was breaking the law and I advised him to go to CIE and find out if they would give him a temporary licence. He stopped doing the haulage and CIE took over. He came back to me afterwards and told me that people had told him that, while they had been paying him £7 a run for the same job, they were paying CIE £28 a run for the same job. He had been making money on it. I agree that there is a big difference between a private haulier who has to look after himself, his lorry, his petrol or his diesel oil and a huge firm like CIE but, when the Minister talks about economies——

The Deputy is on very dangerous ground from his own point of view.

If I did not know what I was talking about I would not mention it here. Does the Minister consider that CIE, who kick up such a terribly big row every time a worker employed by them looks for a wage increase, and give 1,000 reasons why they are unable to give that increase, should charge four times what a private haulier would charge? That is a fair question.

The Deputy should ask some of the people in Liberty Hall.

I am asking the question because Liberty Hall represents the workers employed by CIE. I am stating here now that the reason for the high rates is not the wages paid to the workers employed by CIE. Last week I had the experience of meeting some gentlemen from CIE to discuss wages and I found them away back in the William Martin Murphy era. It was my first experience of negotiating or trying to negotiate with them and I am quite satisfied that any trouble there has been in CIE was brought about by these people. Wages do not cause the high costs. I would like the Minister to say what cause the high costs. If there is an arrangement by which one section of CIE is making a lot of money and subsidising something else which is considered to be a social service, and we know that, that is fair enough. I would hate to have the sort of system where a State-operated company appear to be charging an exorbitant rate for doing a job and the only answer which can be given is that the workers are getting too high a wage. I want to state here categorically that the cause of this increase is not the wages the workers are getting because the private haulier to whom I was speaking told me he had a good wage after he had paid all the outgoings and he only charged one-quarter of what CIE were charging for the same job.

Anything which will help to make available, particularly to the farmers, a better mode of transport is welcome because I have met these people and I know the frustration they feel when they miss a market or a sale because transport is not available and should be. If this helps I am prepared to agree that the idea behind it is good but I want to make two points.

First of all, I want the Minister to state categorically whether his idea is that this is the thin end of the wedge to completely remove any type of restriction on transport because we will have to do it anyway in the EEC. That is the position. I made inquiries a couple of weeks ago and was told the system is free transport. There is no question of anything like what we have here. The second thing I want to ask is whether the Minister is satisfied that any action he has taken will not jeopardise the employment of people because there are enough people losing their jobs at present without adding to them.

I am glad that the limited concessions in this Bill at least have been granted but I feel, like some of the other speakers, that we are not facing up to the problems that beset us with the transport regulations and the transport company we have here.

I should like the Minister to consider releasing the transport of fish as well as that of cattle, sheep and pigs because the fish industry is a developing one which needs very fast transport and with our experience of the operations of CIE we cannot call them fast. We have in Dingle a European firm which is transporting some of its own fish at present directly through Britain right across into the Continent and back, doing a twice weekly service. These people were not anxious to undertake heavy capital investment in this type of equipment but because they could not get the service they wanted from CIE and the private hauliers would not be allowed to operate this service was brought into being. I maintain that private hauliers would be much better suited to this type of transport and that fish should be one of the products also released from the transport restrictions.

I have given considerable thought to the transport system in operation here. I have every reason to do so because my own firm is continually coming up against difficulties and problems. We are subsidising a transport system in this country that is completely out of date, unsuited to modern methods of transport and is as obsolete as the donkey and cart. Simple things delivered to us are not delivered as they were handed to CIE. In our business we had to put a charge of 5 per cent on every ton of cement we sell because the cement is not delivered to us as it was handed to CIE. The system of transporting it by railway wagon and rehandling it for delivery to us means that there is at least one hundredweight of waste in every ton of cement delivered to us. This is a serious imposition on the business of this country. Many times I have had to make up to five or six phone calls for single articles. This at considerable cost, is another imposition on top of the very high charges we have to bear.

Early this year I was in Bonn. I got figures from the German trade people in the hotel in which I stayed. A train passes along this particular main line every 2½ minutes. They are colossal freight trains having three and four very heavy engines. They all use the bogey type carriage—a very long carriage with a complete braking system which eliminates the clanging and belting that is so common in our railway wagons here. I was taken into one of those wagons and I saw extremely fragilc articles like glass loaded beside heavy machines and there was no question of danger to any of those articles. There is a danger in our wagons. It is not the fault of the men. It is probably not the fault of the officials either. It is the system. Antiquated material, the old type of wagon that was operated in other days when they carried ordinary bagged material and articles, because timber was cheap, were relatively well crated.

I had four cases about four weeks ago within one week. A very valuable machine was delivered to a new German factory in Waterford. It was a machine that cost several thousand pounds. It was delivered to CIE in Tralee to be road-freighted from Tralee to Killorglin. In the removal of the machine from the railway wagon it was dropped to the ground and completely wrecked. The machine had to go back again and the industrialists were held up for a fortnight waiting for a replacement. The replacement had to be sent down by the suppliers direct by their own lorries.

I got five small boxes of Marley floor tiles sent down to Killarney station myself for collection by us there. One box arrived at Killarney, three were eventually unearthed four days afterwards, although we wanted them urgently, in Tralee and the fifth box has never been found since. The firm had to send out another box. It took us eight days to complete an order which we wanted to complete within 24 hours. This is the type of service we are getting. The Lord knows there are plenty of personnel, many more personnel than should be needed in the ordinary case, to look after matters in CIE. This is the type of archaic system that is foisted on us and under which they cannot do the work that is to be done. I hate having to stand up here and say this about any of our people, about any organisation, but hard facts must be stated here because we are facing a trying and a testing time when we get into the Common Market and we need a transport system geared to the demand that that market will impose on us. We need an efficient service and unless CIE equipment can be modernised I cannot see how this can be provided with costs so high at the present time. CIE are not facing up to the challenge of the Common Market. There should be a release from the restrictions imposed on private transport. People in business have to operate lorries of their own to ensure that they can get materials which are fragile. There is a lorry in my own firm which has to travel to Athy to bring a load of asbestos because we could not trust it to CIE. Those heavy costs are imposed on us because of the way CIE carry out this work. If the private hauliers were allowed to do this job it would suite us much better than having CIE doing this type of business.

The sooner we face up to the facts which are staring us in the face the better. As Deputy Tully stated a transport firm could operate privately but the charges we have to impose for demage and the extra charges for telephone and other things would go far beyond the increases Deputy Tully mentioned. I have had experience of this and I can give facts and figures to the Minister or anybody who wants them that this is an everyday occurrence. We get deliveries of paint but we cannot get the entire consignment. from CIE.

I raised the matter of the machine at Tralee that I referred to earlier with a senior official who said that it was uncalled for to have this machine damaged but that it could have been avoided if the machine had been properly crated. That is an answer which completely ignores the facts of the case. First of all, you have to get timber, which is frightfully expensive, to crate a machine of that type. You then have to pay extra charges for the weight of the timber. When you add this extra cost to that of the machine itself it shows how completely removed CIE are from realities. They are thinking back to 50 years ago when that type of goods had to be heavily crated.

The Minister should take cognisance of the fact that if industry is to be freed from the restrictions imposed by the Road Transport Acts, if it is to meet the challenge of the future and to do the job that is expected of it then there must be a release from restrictions for private transport and other referred to as private persons who would provide transport for the benefit of business. Most business firms do not want to have transport of their own. The small man is ideally suitable for this work. He can keep his records right and enter into an arrangement to be available on the spot.

I am disappointed the Minister did not go much further than he has. I shall be taking cases up with the Minister on the present CIE system. I see in Killorglin delivery taking place of what I term parcel goods from Tralee. A ten ton lorry comes in day after day with whatever limited quantity of goods it has and it has to borrow its way through traffic and even create further congestion in order to deliver parcels. You see the man having to travel 50 yards across the street with a parcel on his shoulder. This is the type of thing which should be avoided.

We have a heavy lorry in our own business the equivalent of a CIE lorry for deliveries around the town but we do not use it. We leave it standing idle because a small vehicle can do the job in half the time. It can get around much more efficiently and at much less cost than those large lorries. I have had letters from the Minister time and again stating that CIE have found this the most economic system. Of course they have because there is no economy within their structure. They have only to come back to us every time they are short of money. Any firm in business with a Government at their back would not have to worry about costs.

An outside body should be set up to examine the whole structure of CIE. They are not fitted to do the work which is necessary today, from the point of view of industry in this country. This is the age where the cardboard carton and paper wrapping is all that is needed for parcels. The method of handling by CIE is not suitable for doing this job. Vast sums of money have gone down the drain through damage in handling. When this is added to the other extra charges business people have to bear it can be seen how many of them find it hard to remain in business. I would ask the Minister to have a further look at this matter, particularly in the advent of our entry to the Common Market and give us a transport system in the business world which will help us to meet modern needs and demands and to keep our business alive.

The method by which this piece of legislation was introduced is to some extent typical of the procrastination evident in Government procedure. The liberalisation of the legislation introduced here was recommended by the Store Cattle Study Group which reported in April, 1968. The case for liberalisation was well documented at that time but instead of acting on that recommendation the Minister had to set up a further group, an inter-departmental study group to make exactly the same recommendation on the same grounds. Why was it necessary to have two study groups to make the same recommendation when we could have acted on the first?

Subsequent to the report of the Store Cattle Study Group in April, 1968, and prior to the introduction of this Bill, apparently the gardaí turned a blind eye on those who were breaking what was admitted to be an archalic law. This is not very good example. Either you have a law and you enforce it or you do not have it. When the Store Cattle Study Group made their recommendation in April, 1968, the Minister should have introduced this legislation and should not have waited two and a half years.

I am particularly concerned about the fact that it is only cattle, sheep and pigs which are covered by the liberalisation here. There are products such as beet, wheat, creamery milk, silage and other agricultural goods which should have been included in the liberalisation. The case for including those other goods in liberalisation was well set out in a presidential address, delivered to the Agricultural Economic Society, as reported in the Irish Times of the 26th October, 1970 by Mr. John Richard-Orpen, the newly-elected president of the Agricultural Economic Society. He made the case very strongly for including these other products which I have mentioned.

Debate adjourned.