Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Prices Commission Paper.

38.

asked the Minister for Transport and Power if he is yet in a position to state his decision with regard to the recommendations contained in the National Prices Commission's Occasional Paper No. 6.

In reply to a question by Deputy Lemass on this matter on 21st June, 1973, I said that I was having the recommendations in the National Prices Commission's Occasional Paper No. 6 for the establishment of a transport users' council and an electricity consumers' council examined by my Department in consultation with Córas Iompair Éireann and the Electricity Supply Board.

In the meantime both CIE and the ESB furnished their views to the Department on the establishment of the respective councils. I have had a detailed examination of the proposals carried out and I have been in close consultation with the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, who is dealing with the establishment of a post office users' council.

In the light of the examination and having regard to the wide-ranging nature of the proposed transport users' council, which would entail preparation of legislation and impose new obligations on CIE, I have set up a working party to develop practical proposals for such a council. The working party is representative of my Department, the Department of Industry and Commerce and CIE.

With the advent of the energy crisis following the Middle East conflict last autumn the Deputy will appreciate that for the time being priority has to be given to the maintenance and control of essential energy supplies over all other considerations in the energy sector. As a consequence, consideration of the proposals for the establishment of an electricity consumers' council has had to be suspended. Further consideration will be given to the matter as soon as circumstances permit.

It is nine months since I last raised this matter. Is the Minister saying that this is being suspended now?

No I am not.

Was it only an idle promise which the Minister made at that time?

No. Legislation is necessary to set up the transport users' council. Unlike the post office users' council, which comes under the control of the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, the ESB and CIE are semi-State bodies outside my direct control. There have been prolonged negotiations with both bodies, but these were suspended because of the ESB energy crisis in October. Naturally the ESB had many other matters to deal with at that time. The transport users' council is actively going ahead.

Can we expect a development before the summer recess?

The Deputy may expect developments.