Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Public Transport Role.

37.

asked the Minister for Transport and Power the extent to which public transport will be treated as a social service; if he will state the new subvention structure which will be formulated for CIE to enable it to conform with EEC regulations; and if that structure will also apply to Aer Lingus.

Final decisions have not yet been taken on a new subvention structure for CIE to conform with EEC requirements but I hope to submit proposals in this matter to the Government for approval at an early date.

The EEC regulations in question include provisions for compensation in respect of losses incurred on services operated under public service obligations. The extent to which these provisions will be applied to CIE's services is one of the matters for determination in connection with the proposed new subvention structure. I should add, however, that there is a limit to the amount of State subvention which can be paid in respect of public transport and CIE will, as heretofore, have to take all practicable steps to minimise losses.

The EEC common transport policy does not at present apply to air transport. There is no question of subsidising Aer Lingus. The company's revenue taken from year to year has been adequate to finance their operations.

Would it not be reasonable to expect that information on subventions for the forthcoming year should have been available before the budget, which I understand will be next week?

The subvention structure will apply from next Monday, 1st April. The Deputy will appreciate that in accordance with EEC regulations there had of necessity to be a great deal of consultation, not alone between my Department and CIE but between CIE and the Department of Finance and my Department. To make sure that we did conform with the regulations there had to be consultations with the EEC Commission in Brussels.

Would the Minister accept that there should be subventions from a social service point of view for public transport?

Regulation 1191/69 could be interpreted in that way.