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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 23 Feb 1971

Vol. 251 No. 12

Private Members' Business. - Road Transport Bill, 1970: Report Stage.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 3, line 50, after "the State" to insert the following:

"but was not so authorised by virtue of an extension of the operation of the licence granted under section 115 of the Transport Act, 1944, solely to authorise the carriage of livestock throughout the State".

This amendment is designed to ensure that the intention of the Committee Stage amendment introduced by me is rendered effective. As the House is aware, I introduced an amendment on Committee Stage to enable any of the 26 county licensees who obtained such a licence on the 1st January, 1969, to have an extra vehicle attached to the licence. Deputy O'Donovan expressed concern about the purpose of the amendment and asked that figures be made available as to the transfer of licences since 1933. Perhaps I can refer to this matter in the course of the discussion of the amendment since both are related under the same section.

One hundred and six licensees will qualify for the concession. Ninety-three of these licences have been transferred from the original licensees. That meets the point made by Deputy O'Donovan. Fifty-eight of them have been transferred twice and several of them have been transferred as many as four times. In 71 of the 93 cases there was a commercial type transfer which involved another business as well as the licence itself, so that there was involved, as well as the licence transfer, the purchase of a business. All State licences which had been transferred, changed hands more than 200 times. Six of these were in the 1930s, 28 in the 1940s, 66 in the 1950s, 75 in the 1960s and 26 since 1st January, 1969. Therefore, it all amounts to a situation of consolidation in regard to the haulage industry as well as a movement towards what we are seeking to do here — achieve a greater professionalism in the road transport business.

To get back to the amendment, which is related to what I have said, it is designed to ensure there is no further extension of this in any way by any legal interpretation of the section, as amended by me on Committee Stage, other than the 106 licensees who will qualify for the concession. About 500 or 600 existing carrier merchandise licensees, from 1966 on, were extended to authorise the carriage of livestock throughout the State. Although they remained restricted in the original licence to their basic area, they got a 26-County extension for livestock— this was leading up to what we have done here in this legislation. I am advised by the Attorney General that, as it stands at the moment, this amendment is open to the interpretation by these 500 or 600 carriers that they can come in under this extra vehicle provision.

It is made clear in the amendment that people who got this concession will not get the bonanza of an extra vehicle. This, obviously, would be against the whole purpose of the amendment, which is to ensure that there is reasonable equity for those 106 licensees who held 26-County licences — most of which have changed hands since 1933 — and who were in the situation where it could be argued that, under the terms of the Bill, every other haulier was getting an extension while these particular people, the best of the professional road hauliers in the country, were not securing anything under the Bill. They are people who, in the great majority of cases, have paid substantial sums for their 26-County licences. The thinking behind this amendment is to give to them a concession, in a very limited way, in the form of one extra vehicle for the 106 such licences.

Mr. O'Donnell

Having listened to the Minister, I am satisfied that it was necessary to have this amendment for the purpose of clarification. If all those covered under section 115 of the Transport Act of 1944 were to get a 26-County general licence, it would introduce a degree of liberalisation which would not be desirable at this stage. Therefore, I think the Minister's amendment definitely clarifies the section. I am satisfied this amendment was necessary. It clears up any doubt there might be about possible future misinterpretation of the section and I have no objection to the amendment.

I am glad the Minister and his advisers picked up this point because we will not now have an amendment Bill brought into the House on a single section. The workers of CIE around Dublin are rather more concerned than I anticipated. Would it be possible for the Minister to do something to allay that feeling which they have? Would it be possible for him to make available to the Transport and General Workers' Union, which has the bulk of those people in their unions, a full list of the people who are licensed hauliers?

I will certainly do that.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill received for final consideration.