Local Government (Toll Roads) Bill, 1978: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

(Cavan-Monaghan): When I reported progress when this Bill was last before the House I had not overcome the shock that I had suffered at the brevity of the introductory speech of the Minister, the lack of information concerning the proposals behind the Bill and the Government's proposals for major road development to anticipate the demands of the eighties—to use their own words—and also concerning the Government's policies for an efficient and economic transport system for goods and passengers.

The Bill was introduced by the Minister in a speech which takes barely three-quarters of a column plus something more than a half column in the Official Report. It seems an extraordinary way to treat the House and the country in introducing a Bill such as this which represents a complete departure from past and existing policy regarding the provision of roads and bridges and the method of financing these. For the first time in modern history road users are to be asked to pay as you travel. That is the first time we have had this system of financing the capital cost or the maintenance of roads or bridges. It took this country a very long time to get rid of a toll system of one kind or another which was the property and prerogative of the landlords of old. We had tolls for fairs and markets and for some bridges and they were always operated by the landlord class. It is only a short time ago since the present Government decided to abolish road tax, a charge for using the roads. The proposal in this Bill seems to be another way of charging people for using the roads. I should have thought that the Minister would have told us whether it is intended to abolish road tax altogether on commercial vehicles and so on and substitute a form of tolls. All we know, as far as the Bill and the Minister's speech are concerned, is that the Bill gives authority to local authorities and the Minister to charge tolls on existing roads and bridges if they decide to provide a toll scheme, submit it to the Minister and get his approval. There the Bill begins and ends.

The Minister makes some oblique reference to the fact that a private enterprise is interested in operating the toll system but he leaves it at that and does not say exactly what is behind the Bill. One would have thought that, in seeking to put on the Statute Book a Bill which represents a complete departure from existing road policy, the Minister would have given a comprehensive statement spelling out exactly what Government policy is in regard to tolls, to what extent they would be operating and to what extent it was proposed to change the present system.

It is very hard to deal with a Bill the provisions of which are so comprehensive. It is an enabling measure. The local authority and the Minister might use it for very extensive purposes just as the Imposition of Duties Act, 1957, is to be used for a purpose for which it was never intended. In putting a Bill like the present one on the Statute Book we should be very careful that we know what Government thinking is on it. I find it very difficult to contribute to a debate on this Bill when it has been introduced without a comprehensive statement giving the Minister's and the Government's thinking on road and transport policy.

There is no doubt that the Fianna Fáil Party have been thinking about this policy in the past. In their manifesto, which brought them successfully through the last election, they said in regard to roads that they would prepare a major road development plan designed to anticipate the demands of the eighties. In regard to transport, they say they will establish a transport authority to investigate and report on measures necessary to achieve the most efficient and economic transport system for goods and passengers having regard to the need to maintain a flexible and competitive transport system thereby ensuring the facilities necessary for industrial development throughout the country as a whole. Regarding the transport authority, I have a feeling that perhaps it was set up. I tried to check this before I came into the House but, due to the breakdown in the telephone system, I was unable to contact the Department of Tourism and Transport.

They call it a commission, for the Deputy's information.

(Cavan-Monaghan): It is referred to as an authority. The Bill, though short, is all embracing because it confers extraordinary powers that were never enjoyed before by a local authority or by a Minister for the Environment. I would have thought that the Minister in introducing this measure would have spelled out in a fairly lengthy, well-researched speech, the Government's policy on roads and transport. However, the Minister did not do that. He introduced the Bill with a few words and left it at that.

The Bill is premature having regard to Government proposals for a road and transport policy. We should have been told exactly what that policy is and where this Bill fits into it. If, as I suspect, this Bill is being introduced on anad hoc basis for one specific purpose it should have been introduced on that basis and should have dealt with the purpose for which apparently it is going to be used. That is not what happened. It has been introduced as an enabling Bill which could last for decades and which could change the whole face of road transport and the methods of financing it. This has been done without any explanation, good, bad or indifferent.

I sympathise with the Minister, because he obviously had to push this Bill through without any decision from the Government on road or transport policy. We have not been told how the toll system is worked in other countries. Surely we should have had the benefit of the Minister's research and knowledge on that. My information is that they have proved expensive and are not all that popular. Tolls in a general way would be quite unsuitable for a small country such as ours. The Minister has given us no information on that or what his Department's records and research show.

The roads in this country are beginning to show signs of neglect and become run down. Some of that deterioration is due to the fact that the Minister, in his capacity as holder of the local authority purse, is not providing sufficient money and not allowing the local authorities to provide sufficient money. Coming here today from Cavan I travelled on the Kingscourt-Navan road and, while it is not a major road it is not a minor road either. It is in a bad state of repair with potholes and so on over an extensive length of it. The Minister should tell us about that type of thing when he brings a Bill like this before the House.

The Minister said it is public knowledge that interest has been expressed by the private sector in the provision of new road and bridge facilities on a toll basis. That is the only reference made by the Minister to the purpose of this Bill. If the only purpose of this Bill is to make possible the provision of a bridge in the city of Dublin, and if the Bill is to fall into disuse when it has served that purpose, the Minister should tell us that. If that is the only toll bridge to be provided, we all know it could be provided by the local authority just as well as by private enterprise. It is sure to be a financial winner. A charge will be imposed on the users of that bridge which will be as expensive as, if not more expensive, than the road tax the Minister abolished.

I am not against private enterprise doing a job if they can do it as well or better than the public sector, but it should not be a case of the private sector spinning off the cream without becoming involved in any other enterprise or work. If private enterprise undertake work like this, it should not be just once on a site on which they are sure to reap a rich reward. They should undertake other work which might not be so remunerative but where their expertise might be able to make it pay. It should not be the policy of the Government or the House to hand over a prime project to private enterprise and not ask them to do some less rewarding work. I hope I am getting that across.

Having regard to the Government's published policy for major road development and transport development, it is wrong to set about it piecemeal or on anad hoc basis as this Bill proposes to do. Being the first speaker I am at a disadvantage because it is not possible to come to a conclusion on Government policy on tolls, on what their short-term, medium and long-term policy is to be on tolls generally, and on the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges by the private sector. The Minister has done himself and the Government less than justice in introducing this Bill without giving us that information.

I would describe it as a most extraordinary Bill, introduced in a most extraordinary manner, with a complete lack of information on what it is intended to serve and a complete lack of information as to Government policy. For that reason, and because of the way the Minister has put the House into blinkers, I find it impossible to support the Bill. I propose to oppose it.

Things have changed completely since we first saw the Fianna Fáil manifesto. I do not want to read it again, but it promises these three things—a major road development plan designed to anticipate the demands of the eighties; a transport authority leading to an efficient, economic transport system; and we have had road tax abolished for the vast majority of road-users. After a complete transformation in the promised approach to road networks and transport since the Government assumed office, this Bill is thrown before the House giving the local authorities and the Minister authority to provide tollsad lib on old roads and bridges and on new roads and bridges. We are given no indication as to whether there will be one toll bridge in the immediate future or toll bridges all over the country. Without giving us this information, the Minister seriously expects this side of the House to vote him these powers. It would be a complete dereliction of duty on the part of the Opposition parties in this House, and certainly on my part, to give the Minister the authority he seeks in this Bill in the absence of any explanation as to how it is to be used.

The Bill is wide enough to impose tolls on every road and every bridge. It might not be used at all, or it might be used on one occasion only. The House is entitled to know the thinking of the Minister and the Government on this matter, especially as it is a complete departure from existing policy on roads and bridges since the foundation of the State. I am unhappy about the Bill. If it had been introduced to make possible the provision of one bridge, we could investigate it to the best of our ability and debate it in the House, but that is not what we are being asked to debate. All the information we have about that is a passing remark by the Minister in his short introductory speech—that it is well known that private enterprise is interested in this and that this Bill will facilitate them. That is not good enough; it is not the proper way to treat the House or the country. It is because on some occasions measures like this get through the House without being discussed properly, and without a proper explanation being given, that we find ourselves in trouble later. I do not want to be responsible for putting the House and the country in that sort of trouble.

The Labour Party regard this Bill as dishonest, badly drafted and totally at variance with the statements made by the Minister in his opening speech. It was no surprise to me that the Minister's speech was so historically short. Anybody introducing this Bill in the context in which it has been introduced would be extremely shy about saying anything. I want to try and explain why I have made that kind of charge against a Minister for whom I have some regard. In this instance, willingly or unwillingly, he is the voice for what can be described only as a rather nasty hatchet job between a number of Government Departments.

We are told this is an enabling Bill for local authorities throughout the country. A lot of valuable parliamentary draftsmen's time has gone into its drafting. A lot of Dáil time—because we have a full Order Paper—will be used in this and the other House debating it. If the Minister was simply the Minister for Roads there would be some justification for introducing such a Bill. But I would sincerely and respectfully suggest to the Minister and his advisors that had they dusted the files on local government reform and removed theultra vires restriction that currently prevents local authorities from taking initiatives in the form in which this Bill now enables them, a far better day's work would have been done without the contradictions buried in the fine print of the Bill. Let us not fool ourselves about it being an enabling Bill and the apparent neutral umbrella under which such a Bill can sail through this House. There are other ways of providing enabling legislation that would be much more beneficial to all local authorities and would achieve the Minister's objective in this regard. I do not regard the Bill as simply an enabling one in that sense although, in the strict legal interpretation of the words, it enables local authorities to do things which previously they were unable to do. In my opinion it is a wrong way to go about it.

The second thing is that the motivation for this Bill is very clearly and explicity stated by the Minister in his short opening speech when he states:

It is the Government's policy that, subject to certain primary considerations on which the provisions of this Bill are based, private enterprise should be facilitated in participating with road authorities in the financing, construction, maintenance and operation of suitable projects. The Bill before the House will accommodate such a development in that it will enable road authorities to enter into agreements with private persons who are prepared to participate in the improvement of our public road system.

This is a response to the private sector which, on a number of occasions, has indicated its willingness and desire to participate in financing and benefiting from that financial involvement in our overall roads system. I recall the presidential address to the annual lunch of the CII in May last—the President. Mr. O'Donovan, did not deliver the paper; rather it was delivered by the then Vice-President, Mr. Williams, to whom the Taoiseach responded—in which they clearly indicated their willingness and enthusiasm in becoming involved in improving the roads system. In their newsletters and other documentation the CII have repeated this willingness. Understandably the building materials section have shown no reluctance to participate in any kind of activity that will promote the improvement of the roads system because, whether the private sector or the State finances it, the building materials industry will have to provide the material. Any proposal to improve and develop the roads system will automatically be welcomed by such a body. If this is a serious response to the request by the private sector to become involved in helping and developing our roads system would it not be fair to investigate whether this Bill enables the only one, specific, hard-edged application of the private sector to significantly develop our roads system at present? Could not the question be reasonably posed to the Minister for the Environment that if this is a Bill designed to enable a one-off project, then it should have been so phrased and introduced here. Subject to correction by the Minister my interpretation of the provisions of this Bill is that they will exclude specifically the only one explicit response the private sector has made in terms of wanting to improve the roads system. I am referring to the proposal to construct a bridge in this capital. By explicitly excluding harbour authorities and boards as having no role under the provisions of this Bill the Minister will exclude any prospect of the private sector responding by way of investment in a bridge project in any of our major cities. Why do I make that charge? I make it for the following reasons: any serious study of toll facilities in Europe, or more explicitly in the United States, will show that the majority tend to be bridges or ferries rather than roads. The figures are taken from an article in theIrish Engineer—unfortunately I do not have the date; the volume number is 32, the number is 2—by Wilbur S. Smith, Chairman of Wilbur Smith and Associates. The title of the article is: “Toll Road Facilities”.

In that article, which I am sure is known to the personnel in the Custom House, the following figures are given with regard to toll facilities. In the United States, of 394 such facilities, 190 were bridges, 132 were ferries, 11 were tunnels and 62, or 15 per cent, were roads. Of that 15 per cent many of the roads were toll roads in semi-private condominium resorts and not part of the major system. They were privately run, of course. On the basis of experience in other countries, the most likely prospects are bridges as distinct from roads. Yet in this Bill harbour authorities in Limerick, Cork, Waterford or Dublin are seen as having no role whatsoever. My interpretation of the definition section of the Bill is that they would be explicitly excluded from having any say.

Studies done here on the possibilities of toll facilities have clearly indicated that the volume of traffic throughout the country is, relatively speaking, quite low and would not in many instances justify a commercial private investment in toll roads: there are only a certain number of areas where the volume of traffic, coupled with the time saving by the shortening of a distance over a river, would represent a serious prospect for commercial investment. I am satisfied with my own research in this regard. I am satisfied that if there is a commercial possibility for toll facilities here it is located in those large urban areas where there is sufficient demand in terms of volume of traffic and where an effective saving in terms of travelling time would result from the construction of a toll facility. I also know that in most instances port authorities would have a major role in agreeing to, participating in or supervising the provision of such a bridge or ferry facility.

Therefore, for the Minister to come in here with a page-and-a-half of a speech and to say that this enabling legislation, which has taken up valuable time, is designed to meet the response of the private sector here is, I can only conclude, at best an attempt to confuse this House. I would have liked to have heard in a Second Stage debate the indentification of the private sector interested, the scale of its interest, the form of its interest and the identification of the balance between the public and State which must be established at national level in order to facilitate a known interest by the private sector in developing our road facilities. The Minister opened his career as Minister for the Environment in this House by abolishing rates on domestic houses and introducing the Local Government (Financial Provisions) Bill of 1977. This Bill, which, regrettably, is now law, had the effect, among other things, of taking away the financial autonomy in any real sense of local authorities. For that Minister to come back within the same calendar year and to give them extraordinary powers through this enabling legislation, so that they can all go off and make separate profit sharing and non-profit sharing arrangements with the private sector up and down the country, is to demonstrate total confusion and chaos either in the mind of the Minister or in the mind of the Department.

I have some respect for the people in the Custom House and I am brought to the conclusion that this is a token response to the private sector. This is not a response at all. I challenge the Minister to show me in his reply exactly how he anticipates the private sector will actually respond and to tell me the areas the private sector might be interested in. In case the Minister might say he does not wish to reveal commercial interests or breach confidentiality, and does not therefore want to release either names or venues, he could indicate whether we are talking about bridges or by-passes or stretches of inter-town dual carriageway or motorway. These are the three basic modes, since ferries do not really worry us in this island of ours. They are the three basic facilities—roads, bridges, by-passes and possibly tunnels, although tunnels and ferries are non-starters in my view.

I would like to hear from the Minister, in his summing up which presumably will be a little longer than his introduction, what is the basis of his assessment of the private sector's interest in the road system and their desire to invest in it—to meet which he has gone to the trouble of introducing this enabling legislation. Or is this really based on the response to an after dinner speech? Is Dáil Eireann reduced to debating legislation which is drafted by a Government Department and circulated to 14 other Departments on the basis of an after dinner expression of interest in participating in improving our roads? Because, if it is, the Minister should make it very clear—not just to Deputies but to the public—that that is the way this Government are drafting legislation. I am constrained to make that rather sarcastic observation because of the total absence of any assessment by the Minister last week when he introduced this Bill. I was being sarcastic, because I do not believe it was drafted in such a form—I think the Minister takes his job far more seriously than that. But we would like to see the figures. Does having 84 seats in Dáil Éireann now remove from any Minister any kind of responsibility for arguing the case? Are the remaining Fianna Fáil Deputies taken so much for granted that they do not even have to be persuaded in public to say nothing about persuading us?

Before I turn to the Bill itself I would like to look at what the Government have said on a number of other occasions about roads and the road system. Let us start with the Book of Genesis, which in this instance is the Fianna Fáil manifesto. On the question of roads it states, at page 27, item 10:

Fianna Fáil will prepare a major Road Development Plan designed to anticipate the demands of the 80s.

Item 11 goes on to local authority structures:

We have a commitment to produce a road development plan.

The first White Paper reiterated that commitment and confirmed the Government's, as distinct from the party's, commitment to it. The Green Paper published on 16 June stated at paragraph 510, page 56:

An accelerated investment programme in road improvement would not only provide welcome extra employment both directly and indirectly but would also lead to the up-grading of deficient parts of the road system. An allocation of up to twice the 1978 provision of £23 million for road improvement could be put to good use by 1980. If these funds were made available the works undertaken would be chosen from those to be programmed in the Road Development Plan promised in the Government's preelection Manifesto. Work is well advanced on the preparation of the Plan which will give high priority to the improvement of the main access routes to Dublin and to the development of the major route networks linking cities and larger towns. It will also be concerned with the construction of major bridges and relief roads in a number of cities and towns, the need for which has been established by studies already undertaken.

The Green Paper was followed by another document, which was published in January of this year, despite the fact that it had been indicated on the previous occasion that a number of studies existed already which would serve as the basis for road improvements around the country and that the areas for major improvements had self-evidently been identified by referencing to Dublin and to other major cities. We know that the Custom House is besieged with road proposals from Dublin city and Dublin county local authorities. The officials in the Custom House concerned with these matters are well aware of the explicit proposals for road development in the Dublin region but we can only wonder why the road plan is not before the House. It was not available before the publication of the last White Paper, paragraph 5.24 of which reads:

Present indications are that the bulk of increased traffic arising from economic development will fall on the roads. In terms of kilometres of road per head of population and per vehicle registered, Ireland has one of the most extensive road networks in Europe.

That is attributable more to the benign concern of the famine landlords than to any advantageous programme of Government planning. The paragraph continues:

It is recognised that there are seriously defective elements in the road network and a substantial programme of investment is essential to improve, in particular, the principal urban and inter-urban routes.

Again, this is focusing on the areas of need but this time there is a change of phraseology. I suppose the Government had to change something. The paragraph continues:

The importance of these routes can be gauged from the fact that the National Primary Routes alone, which comprise only 3 per cent of the road network, carry 25 per cent of the traffic.

Another paragraph in this White Paper is the first official indication, apart from the Government's announcement in August or September last, that toll roads legislation would be introduced. I quote from paragraph 5.28:

Legislation has been introduced under which road authorities (subject to the approval of the Minister for the Environment) would be empowered to enter into an agreement with other persons or bodies to provide roads and bridges and to defray costs through toll charges. The Government hope that the private sector will respond to this opportunity to participate in the improvement of the roads system.

That is an explicit statement of hope from a Government who, by constitutional definition, have collective responsibility and it is backed up by a Minister with explicit responsibility in this area. Again we have the Government saying that the legislation is in response to the private sector, but it is a piece of legislation which, if my reading of the Bill is correct, excludes port authorities by virtue of its definition of "road authority". Consequently it must lead effectively to the discreet killing of the only explicit response to the private sector on the question of the building of roads. Who is trying to cod whom?

I suggest that we are wasting much time having regard to the definition of, for instance, "public road" in the definition section. I shall not bore the House by reading out the long list but shall move on to the definition of "road authority" which is the council of a county, the corporation of a county or other borough or the council of an urban district. On the surface that appears to be a reasonable definition of a road authority. In respect of 99.9 per cent of activities in relation to roads it is an accurate definition. However, if we talk in terms of a public road meaning, among other things, any bridge, viaduct, underpass, subway, tunnel, overbridge, flyover and so on, we are talking in the context of toll road legislation which has the explicit purpose of responding to the private sector's interest in participating positively in development. In this case we must be talking about major urban areas where bridges might be built. In such areas there are usually substantial harbour facilities. To exclude harbour authorities specifically is to put a discreet but sharp trapdoor under any proposals which may be before the Government.

I can only regret that the Minister has seen fit to bring in first this piece of legislation rather than legislation dealing with the roads development plan. I should be happy to sit here on Saturdays and Sundays debating such a plan and to support the Minister on the corresponding legislation, because it is something we have been lacking for many years and is needed badly. I assure the Minister that in principle he will have every support from this side of the House for a properly-balanced national roads development plan. The Labour Party recognise fully the importance of such a plan for commerce and industry with the consequent effect on employment throughout the country. We recognise also that the cost of fully implementing such a plan would be enormous and that, regardless of what kind of shuffling one might try to engage in either in terms of the Regional Fund or in terms of EMS money, the shortfall in terms of actual capital required would be large.

The Labour Party, who have a creative approach to the State sector, would welcome a recognition on the part of the Minister for the Environment that one of the interests expressed by the private sector in participating in the improvement and development of our road system is an interest expressed by the managers of long-term finance who wish to seek some kind of gilt-edged return on their investments. The managers of such long-term finance in many cases are the managers of the pension funds of the employees of the State sector. They are the managers of the pension funds of such bodies as Bord na Móna, Aer Lingus, the ESB and other State agencies. Those managers must ensure that over a period of time there will be an adequate return to ensure the payment of such pensions. The pension fund manager of the blue chip fund of Irish Life—I have a personal interest in that—is guided by the same concerns and interests.

If the State constructed some kind of framework which would enable investment in a national roads improvement system the State would provide for such pension fund managers and managers of long-term cash a safe and gilt-edged return. Some of the difficulties in relation to capital needed for a national road programme could thus be overcome. There would then be the possibility, within the context of enabling legislation, for a positive role for tolls in that regard. If the Minister told us that we drastically needed roads and that irrespective of how we raised money there would be a shortfall which would impede economic development and our job creation programme and for this reason it was his intention to try to attract capital that otherwise would not have gone into the road building sector then we would be involved in serious legislative business. The Minister could expect from the Members of the Labour Party constructive legislative participation in relation to such business.

The Minister has done a disservice to himself in introducing this legislation because he has not put forward any supporting arguments. A case can be made in a variety of ways, and there is a case for this legislation. The only case that has been made is that which is contained in the White Paper, a hope that the private sector will respond. Can anybody on the Government side give any indication of how they anticipate a pension fund manager or private developer deciding to get going on this. The Minister's party like to say that they are the party of reality, among other things, and they have enough contacts in the construction industry to test privately how the private sector is likely to respond to this enabling legislation. It would be interesting to hear the results of such soundings on Committee Stage to find out whether the private sector has any role in an entrepreneurial sense to play in the improvement or provision of public roads. I doubt if the private sector is interested. I am not party to the details of the national road development plan but I have a reasonable cursory knowledge of the work done to date and the areas needing improvement.

One objective in relation to improving our road system certainly concerns time saving. A lot of time could be dramatically saved on the journey from Dublin to Cork or Dublin to Shannon by the provision of a number of urban by-passes. It is conceivable that these could be partially financed through a system of tolls but, other than making the capital available, what would the entrepreneur contribute? The scheme would be prepared by local authority engineers or consultants and the local authority would be the managing authority on completion of the scheme. Local authorities are the only bodies in a position to acquire land for such work and in most cases have already attempted to do so. In most cases local authorities have plans prepared, irrespective of the merits of them. Local authorities have the technical staff, the experience of building roads and the accumulative responsibility of maintaining our roads system. Cash is needed, not for pump-priming, but for long-term capital. A national roads plan should not impose on every local authority the responsibility of setting up their own terms of participation, of coming to their own conclusions as to how the balance and the mixture should be but should point out the defects in the national primary routes to be financed partly by way of tolls.

Such a proposal not only makes sense but, if adopted, would suggest that the Right wing drift within Fianna Fáil was stopped or turned around partially. Sadly that is not the case. How does the Minister envisage private sector participation? Does he anticipate that somebody would put a proposal, for example, to the Kildare County Manager for a by-pass or put a proposal to the Westmeath County Manager for an Athlone by-pass? All entrepreneurs can do is provide cash and then they are into the realm of total speculation as to how the thing will develop. They would have to get from the manager an idea of the rate of toll and conditions of contract. If the manager is interested he must prepare his scheme and then get the permission of the Minister. The Minister did not give us any indication as to what his attitude is likely to be. There is no indication that he would propose, as part of the legislation but separate from it, a draft of the ideal form of participation by the private sector.

Local authorities do not get any assistance. Some local authorities are not adequately staffed at the best of times and they are certainly not staffed to do the complex exercise this would entail. They no longer have the financial autonomy to hire consultants to do it for them. It is not as if they were not a precedent in this area. In terms of drafting national building by-laws and by-laws under the 1966 Housing Act for rented accommodation, the Custom House were not slow to produce a draft model local authorities could adopt. No indication is given that such a draft model would be provided by the Custom House in this instance.

Again I am drawn to the reluctant conclusion that this Bill is not what it appears. I do not believe it will enable anything to happen but I do believe—perhaps sinisterly this may be part of its motivation, and I do not make that charge lightly—that it is designed to prevent some things from happening. If that is the case, it is time for a bit of political honesty in this House. If that is the case, why try to cod us by referring to the private sector? I qualify all my remarks by saying that this is a party judgment, a personal judgment, which is put on the floor of this House by way of argument and if it can be refuted I will accept it. From my analysis it appears that it will not effectively respond to the private sector. I can only marvel at the amount of time that has been spent drafting this legislation and the time spent debating it here, all regrettably, in my view, to no avail.

The January White Paper alluded to the fact that we had probably more kilometres per person in terms of roads than any other population in western Europe, and the concentration of traffic is confined to a number of areas. The Minister could have given some indication of how he envisaged his Department facilitating the operation of a toll system, because other than simply referring to the agreements or the explanatory statement there is no indication from the Custom House as to how they would be responding to any action or any draft explanatory statement that would come from Clare, Cork, Kildare or anywhere else for the Minister's approval. It would have been interesting to have heard the Minister's response to the fairly substantial volume of documentation on toll roads that now exist.

Do the Department share the view of the British Ministry of Transport which reviewed the question of toll roads and the extensive motorways system and decided that the cost of collection would be too high to justify it? The figure given stated that 25 per cent of all revenue collected would be required to service the cost of collection. Have the Department, in preparing this legislation done any specific research here as to the minimum level of vehicles per day for any route which would be required before a toll road could be operative? The figures I am aware of would suggest that a minimum flow of something like 10,000 vehicles per day would be the basic threshold a road would normally have to carry before a toll would begin to make sense. Have the Department carried out this kind of study? If so, are they in a position to identify the routes and demands in terms more explicit than those set out in paragraphs 5.24 in the Green Paper and 5.28 in the January White Paper? If they have not carried out such a study, why is this legislation being introduced? What technical study was drafted beforehand? What kind of interaction in terms of transportation plans took place between the Departments of the Environment and Tourism and Transport? Had the latter any observations to make in relation to the transportation impact of such toll roads generally as indicated in this enabling legislation?

I do not wish to delay the House unduly but every section of this legislation, other than those sections which are self-evidently consequential, raises questions to which one can only suggest speculative answers—obviously from this side of the House they can only be speculative. We have heard nothing from the Minister about what the answers to those questions could be. One point to which we must return over and over again is the primary motivation of this Bill, which is to respond to the private sector. It is not clear to this party how that sector might be likely to respond. The other sections, which govern such things as the system of public inquiries and so on, are reasonable and we do not have a great deal of opposition to them. On the contrary, while one might look for streamlining of the possibility of separate inquiries under the CPO legislation, the Motorways 1974 Act and this Bill, it would be conceivable to roll the three inquiries into one. That would be my intention because the prospect of three separate inquiries would exhaust even the most enthusiastic supporter or opponent of motorways.

One must look at this legislation in the context of road legislation generally, but specifically in the context of CPO legislation and the Motorways Act. Officials in the Department of the Environment, devoted themselves to drafting four or five pages of legislation. That energy would have been put to better use if they had proposed to amend the compulsory purchase legislation which is very ancient.

As far as we are concerned this legislation is unacceptable and badly drafted. As far as we can judge, it cannot meet the objectives for which it was introduced. The Minister has not only failed to convince this side of the House of the merits of the legislation by the way in which it might respond to the private sector but has simply avoided doing so. In principle, the way in which it is proposed to operate is such that it would not really enable local authorities to take on the role laid down for them in this legislation for the simple reason that the framework within which the local authorities would be asked to draft the explanatory statement is not indicated in the Bill, which is understandable, and there is no suggestion that the Minister would attempt to assist on a national basis any local authority which wished to finance part of their road system directly from a toll. My reading of this may be inaccurate and if it is I will welcome a correction.

For those reasons we will be opposing this legislation on Second Stage but in anticipating that the Bill will reach Committee Stage we will be putting down a number of specific amendments which will be based on my comments. At that stage, and if the Minister gets his enabling legislation, we hope he will be open to constructive amendments which will attempt to give effect to some of the measures he is trying to introduce.

I will not be very long. This Bill is very interesting and simple to read and digest. The idea of tolls is not new but most countries are reverting to the principle of tolls. It is a fact that any country which charge road tolls have a very good road system. I do not know if that is entirely due to the fact that they have toll roads. However, the people in those countries know that when they pay tolls on some of those roads they have good roads for pleasant private motoring or road haulage. I hope that the private sector will respond to this Bill by a good input of finance so that we can improve the road pattern of the country in general.

Roads are very much in our minds at the moment, especially those within the city area, because we are very much aware of the shortcomings of our road system, the traffic jams and the chaotic traffic conditions there are. The general public are always asking us to do something about the roads because Dublin is being choked to death by traffic. There is an application for planning permission for a toll bridge before An Bord Pleanála at the moment. While I cannot say what their decision will be I hope they will give permission for the erection of this toll bridge because it will be a contributory factor towards the improvement of our road system. It is not, as some Deputies suggest, a swing to the right by allowing private enterprise to do this.

Last summer I visited a socialist dominated country where they were charging tolls on some of their very fine roads. Everybody using those roads pays a toll except members of the diplomatic corps who are exempt. There is nothing new in the participation of private enterprise in the erection of a toll bridge. In the UK after the last war, when many of their cities were destroyed by bombings, local authorities found they could not rebuild them. They brought in private enterprise and told them they would give them certain plots of ground which they would develop according to the specifications of the local authorities. This enabled the UK to rebuild their cities very quickly. No doubt this happened in other countries as well.

In this city, on a smaller scale, we have brought in the entrepreneurs who are developing open spaces according to the plans of Dublin Corporation. People may ask why do the local authorities not do all of this. They have not got the money to do it. We are seeing the development of an area because of the contribution of the private sector. I do not know what the future of toll roads is and I do not know how successful they will be. The private enterprise group erecting this toll bridge have to take the risk. This Bill will enable this type of thing to happen. It will also enable a local authority to do the same thing.

When the Government removed rates from private dwellings some people said that the Government were taking away the fiscal power of local authorities. This is not true because rates are still charged on commercial properties. This Bill gives power to local authorities to enter into agreement with the entrepreneurs to build new roads, bridges or tunnels. I campaigned for many years for a tunnel under the River Liffey rather than have a bridge across it. I urged the firm who are erecting the toll bridge to erect a tunnel but I was told that the cost was so great the private sector could not stand it. That may be peculiar to our country but I am sure that on the Continent we will find places where there are toll tunnels. Up to now we did not have the power to facilitate any private sector entrepreneur or a local authority to undertake this kind of work.

I cannot understand why the Opposition parties intend to oppose the Bill. I can understand them trying to amend the Bill. Every Bill brought in here can be improved by amendments, but it is a pity that the Opposition feel they have to oppose this Bill. Neither of the two speakers from the Opposition I heard speaking today have convinced me that they have any real grounds for opposing the Bill. In fact, it seemed to me that when Deputy Quinn spoke he was in favour of the Bill. His reference to the local authorities was not very convincing.

We should try to encourage local authorities to get involved in this type of enterprise. We should not have to look to the State to do everything. We have to show that in the private sector there are some people who are quite willing to get involved in the construction of a toll bridge. Such bridges are only attractive when there is a heavy flow of traffic. I am sure many local authorities could devise schemes where they could have a toll charge on bridges or roads to finance some other worthy objectives. I hope that when this Bill becomes law many firms will be attracted towards providing roads, bridges, tunnels and any of the other items mentioned in the Bill.

This is a very short Bill but it is a very important one. I hope when it is enacted that it will be used extensively for the improvement of our road system. In this city we have again adopted a road proposal. I have lost count of the number of times we have done this, but so far we have not come up with a real road pattern. When the previous Government were in power, the Minister said there would not be any motorways in Dublin because the money for them was not available. The fact that this money was not available emphasises the point that we must attract finance from sources other than the Central Fund, not only for motorways but for main roads and toll roads.

We are saying to the private sector that there is an opportunity for investment. They will have to test the market themselves. I would urge local authorities to consider the powers being given to them under this Bill. This Government abolished rates on houses and they now give local authorities a sub to run their areas. This Bill gives them the opportunity to show some initiative, instead of saying that they cannot carry out roadworks because they have not the money. They must examine the possibility of raising funds by the method provided here, especially in view of the ever-increasing cost of road maintenance.

Deputy Tom Fitzpatrick of Cavan-Monaghan criticised some of the roads along which he travelled this morning and we must accept his word that the roads needed some improvement. Perhaps the local authority have already spent the money. I am not in a position to know whether they spent it wisely or not. Local authorities must assume a new role by becoming entrepreneurs in initiatives like this. Why should they not avail of the powers being given under this Bill, not just criticising the alleged defects in it? There is great merit in this Bill and it is very straightforward. Above all, it shows initiative. We cannot continue to depend for everything on the Central Fund.

A toll is a very just tax in that the person using the road pays for it. It is very hard on the old age pensioner to have to pay tax to the Road Fund when he may do no more than go for an afternoon walk. With the toll road the user would pay. I do not know whether pedestrians are allowed on toll roads but it does not matter very much. The driver of the truck, car or juggernaut will have to pay. It often seems unjust that people who do not own cars must pay tax towards the Road Fund. This is the case under the financial system in most countries. Here is an opportunity of making the person benefiting from the service pay for it.

The people who build the road will maintain it in good order. In one instance in this city, they will add a very valuable road to the network. When the Bill becomes law, I hope private firms and local authorities will examine it and see how they can use the powers it contains to help in providing a better road system for the country in general.

The previous speaker from this side of the House indicated that he would oppose this Bill and he gave his reasons. I will be saying much the same thing. The Bill states that up to the present we have not had toll charges and this is enabling legislation which will allow such charges to be imposed. The Bill does not go much beyond that.

Deputy Moore made the point that this would appear to be a new way to finance our roads. Whether or not it is a good idea is open to debate and discussion. Before a Bill is passed, I believe this side of the House should be aware of its full implications. The idea of the toll was put forward during the past few years when a particular individual and company decided they would go into this business by building a bridge. People asked why local authorities did not think along the same lines. If local authorities had suggested charging tolls on roads and bridges there might have been a hue and cry and they saw their role as providing roads for use and not for fund raising. No doubt the private entrepreneur will be selective in deciding where he wants to build. Someone has said that this type of operation is a licence to print money. If so, we should be very slow indeed to allow the private entrepreneur into a selective part of the market. It should be the responsibility of the local authorities to deal with our roads. I would be opposed to the entrepreneur coming into this area unless he is prepared to provide a full and comprehensive road service. If he is not prepared to do so I am not prepared to support this idea. It is easy to go into the market place and pick up the best side of the market and that is exactly what would be happening here. Local authorities would be providing road structures in areas where the private sector would not be interested because there would not be enough profit.

I am surprised at some of the views expressed by Members of the Labour Party. I am in favour of private enterprise but entrepreneurs should not be allowed to come in and cream off the profits, not putting very much back. If the local authorities charged tolls we could be assured that the money would be ploughed back into road structures.

This idea should be fully debated. In what areas do we charge tolls and for what reasons? They are generally charged on roads by-passing towns to enable people to get through quickly. That is reasonable. If expensive by-passes are built somebody must pay for them. What I am concerned about is where do we stop? Do we put a toll charge on all our major roads? Deputy Moore seemed to be implying this and I wonder if this is Fianna Fáil policy. In their manifesto and in the Green and White Papers they talked about the need for comprehensive road plans. Are these to be financed by building roads and putting expensive tolls on them? If that is what they mean they should say so rather than bringing in legislation which does not say very much.

This Bill is not being opposed for the sake of opposition. It is being opposed because there is a lack of information. It is important that the Minister in his reply spells out clearly his idea of road tolls. Are they being introduced as a bonus for people in private enterprise? If that is what they are for I oppose them. I am opposed to the entrepreneur coming into this area at all. If the local authorities have not been as efficient as they should have been it was because of lack of finance. If we introduce tolls, they will be self-financing. They will inject finance which will come back into the whole road system. That is the only way I see any merit in having tolls.

This is like most things that have been introduced. We introduced turnover tax at 2½ per cent and then we had VAT. Everybody knows the structures we are now hitting at. It will be the same with tolls. We will start with X road and then they will be put on Y road and so on. It will be a new form of revenue spinner. It will be a further imposition on people in the transport business who are already paying high taxes and heavy excise revenue on petrol. It will be an additional cost to the consumer because costs are always passed on no matter what. This will also be the case in relation to the infamous 2 per cent.

I am suspicious about this Bill. It is a document of less than one-and-a-half pages. It is not what it says that worries me, it is what it does not say. If we are to have tolls they should be confined to specific areas and should be operated only by the local authorities. They can do the job well and they have the personnel. We should be very wary about handing it over to private enterprise. It is not specifically stated in the Bill that it has to be done by private enterprise but it is implied. I believe that we should exclude private enterprise. I am not against private enterprise where it is useful and necessary but this is an area where local authorities have been involved. It would not have been popular for local authorities to introduce tolls. If they had done so, there would have been pressure on elected representatives to play it down. Now that this measure is before us, it will give local authorities an opportunity of examining the whole concept of tolls. As Deputy Quinn said, the sooner we have comprehensive road proposals before us the better. In relation to the overall need, this is a mickey mouse exercise.

If we are serious about developing we must have comprehensive road proposals. We can then make decisions and see where toll roads should be, if they should be, and who should operate them. If we proceed along these lines we will get some place.

This measure is an exercise in semantics. It is stated in the manifesto that it is intended to have comprehensive road proposals and that will solve the problem. It will not solve anything. Private enterprise will come into the areas where the gravy is, take it all and leave the other areas out. The local authorities will then have to redesign the whole scheme. We should be very slow to let this out of the hands of the local authorities. They should have a say in how this operates and should become involved in profit-making. Profit is not a dirty word. Without it and without generating wealth we cannot expand. Now that rates have been removed from private houses, local authorities are restricted in their expansion. If they are allowed to operate the toll system it would be a first step towards enabling them to generate finance. The profit would be going back into the community. I do not blame private enterprise making their own calculations with regard to traffic flow and the money that will be generated. An undertaking is right to do that kind of exercise. They will not have to put up any enormous amount of finance because they will go to the merchant banks and sell them the idea. There is no great risk involved. I have heard it said that it is a licence to print money. The local authority should cash in on this money.

I am rather sceptical about this Bill. It says very little and there are forebodings that we will have toll roads all over the place. This legislation should be suspended until proper road proposals are before us. This Bill was introduced because the other matter is before An Bord Pleanála and the two have to be taken together. The whole matter is unsatisfactory in that we are building something but we do not know what will be the end product. If this legislation was deferred until the House had an opportunity to look at the road proposals there might be general agreement on this Bill. The House should not be asked to write a blank cheque. The Opposition are not opposing just for the sake of doing so. It is our duty to examine the facts and in this case they do not stand up. This is a cause of worry to this side of the House and we have to reject the Bill. We are rejecting it because of the lack of information and proper proposals. These are valid reasons why we should hasten slowly on this legislation.

If the Minister would shelve the Bill for a while until we look at the overall proposals, subsequently we might get general agreement. This House should try to get agreement rather than bulldoze legislation through the Chamber. Members were elected by the people and we should try to get a consensus. We should be able to get this consensus but the Government side, knowing that they have the numbers, want to proceed in their own way. Because they have the numbers they can do this but it is wrong. This Bill should be shelved until the House sees the overall proposals and then we can make the right decision. If we go ahead now the decisions taken may be wrong and it will be too late to undo them. That is one of the reasons I am opposing this legislation.

We must question the principle of people paying directly and on the double for the privilege of moving around their own country. The provision of roads and the way in which the taxpayer pays for them is indirect by way of income tax and other taxes. The concept of people paying directly must be looked at very closely. It will not find a sympathetic response in many people and, therefore, it could be unworkable. The worry and fear of that situation will mean that only the most lucrative avenues for exploitation by the toll road merchants will be the ones that will succeed. By definition these are probably the ones where the local authorities or Government agencies should be already active in providing.

I have no doubt that the only relevant proposalvis-á-vis toll roads or the toll concept that we shall see for a considerable time is the matter of the bridge spanning East Wall and Ringsend. That proposal has acted as a major catalyst to the production of this legislation and I wonder why that should be the case. There has been extraordinary haste in facilitating a specific proposal for which there has been no public demand—the common excuse that Ministers give for inactivity if not inertia on various issues. I have not heard one single voice looking for a toll road but yet, almost overnight and while not even one live application was before the Department, a Bill was presented to us. I only wish that the same sense of urgency and concern could be extended to many other areas of social activity and concern which are much more pressing, for example, the housing sector. There is no movement there. With a certain degree of cynicism and a certain element of suspicion I question why this legislation was introduced so rapidly and in such a manner.

I suppose the Minister could not be faulted for thinking that he cannot win in this case; if he does not produce legislation he is blamed and if he does introduce legislation he is blamed also. I should like him to tell us why this Bill was considered essential at this stage when other legislation which he and his colleagues have in the pipeline and which is admitted to be extraordinarily pressing is logjammed somewhere along the line. I do not believe that this Bill was the most crucial and important to come from his Department at this time and the ratíonale behind its introduction needs to be explained.

Another major concern of mine in relation to tolls and the toll road concept is its presentation to us in total isolation from any kind of transportation thinking or policy. Time and time again the Minister and his junior colleagues have told us in the House in effect that there is not a transport policy. The Government now have a commission of some kind inquiring into transportation, and no doubt sometime in the future we will get a report from this worthy body and will find, probably, that many of their conclusions were reached many years ago by other people.

The Bill presents the idea of toll roads or bridges in isolation from other matters of transportation. Of course, Dublin city's road pattern could not come into it because the Department do not have a transportation policy and the Minister is not inclined to commit even one pound because of his lack of a road transport policy. However, this does not inhibit him from setting up a system of tolls throughout the country.

Frankly, I believe motorists are paying enough already and, though I have reservations about their perambulations around my constituency and the city generally, I have no hesitation in saying that the suggestion of toll roads and bridges will be massively unpopular and that the average motorist will go miles out of his way to avoid toll bridges. Therefore, we could have saved time and the use of finance and expertise in processing the type of Bill we now have because it may be useless in the ultimate.

I am at a loss to understand why, if this is such a good project, we should not have direct control of such schemes by local authorities, why the Revenue should not benefit as well as private interests. The only interest Tom Roche or anybody else will have——

The Deputy should not mention an outside person in the House. He can make his point without doing so.

The only interest any of those people will have is to make a profit. I do not say there is anything wrong with that, but if this is such a good proposal, if it is so essential—from the Minister's introductory speech and from its brevity one doubts his enthusiasm about this—why should the local authorities not be concerned directly in it? I do not see any such power in the Bill. In reply to a question in the Dáil last year to Deputy Quinn the Minister said that if private entrepreneurs and business people committed capital to the building of such roads they should benefit from it. That is simplistic and naïve. I believe that it would be a very good investment for the Government to raise the money, as they have done for much more wanton projects, rather than have these things done in a way that will be of no value to Government funding, to the Exchequer.

There is no provision in the Bill in regard to the kind of controls we would have over the tolls concept if a number of bridges are being operated by tolls. There could be an understandable decline in maintenance. What would happen in the case of an industrial dispute occurring overnight on the toll bridge, say, linking Ringsend with the East Wall? This could quite easily happen considering the deteriorating industrial relations situation. I do not think that we will have any less industrial trouble unless there is a massive change of heart on the part of the Government. The idea that motorists could find themselves confronted with closed toll bridges here and throughout the country is, therefore, not an impossible proposition. In such a situation what would the Minister do? He could take the example of his colleagues and not do anything but blow his whistle and not take any action. The whole transportation system of a city could be thrown into virtual chaos.

There has to be a great lot of consideration given to the introduction of a general piece of legislation of this kind without any parameters built into it in regard to analogous situations which could arise because of dependence on the particular interests of entrepreneurs, because we might see less commitment, we might find that these people would discover a new toy after the novelty of the toll bridge concept had worn off. There would be less interest in maintaining these toll bridges. The operators, for instance, could decide to close them down daily from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. All these problems are involved and they have not been answered in the Bill or in the explanatory memorandum. They have not been answered here and I have not had adequate answers outside.

The concept of a toll as a feature of Government policy generally is analogous to the handing over of the public service sector, or parts of it, to private enterprise. Whether one has a rooted objection to this idea is not important. What is important is that this type of precedent should be set for saying that other areas of the public service, areas where the public have certain rights, should be handed over to people who may not share the same concern as the Government for the provision of these services. Free access to roads and bridges in towns and cities throughout the country is a public right. It needs to be safeguarded, maintained and improved if we are to ensure that communities in our cities and towns are to improve their general environment, if they are to be integrated socially and so on. I do not believe that will be helped by the introduction of a massive private enterprise dimension in the form of tolls. Once again, in line with the pervasive thinking of Fianna Fáil, the concept of tolls allows the guy with the money to have access but the fellow without the money not to. The latter may very well not have a car, but this creates a situation which caters only for a certain sector of the community, a sector for which this Government so far have shown an overriding concern since they came into office.

This brings me to the problem of pedestrians and cyclists crossing these bridges, the matter of the right of people who do not have cars to have access across the Liffey, or the Shannon, or any other river. Nowhere is that type of thinking in the Bill. I would not expect it because all we have had from this Government is a series of measures and decisions designed to put money into the pockets of their supporters.

Deputy, we are dealing with toll roads.

I am dealing with toll roads.

At every opportunity the Deputy is going on to deal with something else. It is not in order to use something to make other statements and other charges.

I will try to curb my natural enthusiasm.

It would not be any harm at this stage.

I am using this Bill as a symptom of a deeper malaise in Government thinking which shows a priority in its concern and in its administrative action——

The Deputy knows as well as I do that he cannot use a Bill that deals with a specific matter to bring in other points.

I take the caution and will do my best to do as you say, Sir. In this Bill there is no interest shown in, no concern with and no reference to people who do not have cars. The question of access to roads and bridges is as important to the man who has no car as it is to the man who has a car. I want to know what the Minister's thinking is on that point or whether he will guarantee certain rights in the context of this Bill.

Another major deficiency in the Bill is that it is wrong, despite the temptation that some Governments have to do things quickly, for a measure such as this, which is mainly a transport issue, to be introduced in isolation. It is clear, the Minister must agree, that the various elements which make up the shattered pattern of transport badly need to be knit together. If they do, it is conceivable that the capacity of a transportation authority to handle transportation issues may make the question of toll roads redundant. We should demand that the Government apply the same haste to the introduction of a responsible integrated transportation policy as they applied to this slim measure, which will be used once and then forgotten, unless it pleases some future Minister for Finance, when scratching around for a few shillings to fulfill irresponsible election promises, to screw some section of our society.

I can see a situation emerging where the power in this Bill could be abused, where the toll road concept could be handed out freely to people whose overriding concern was with making money. I do not find comfort in the fact that the Minister has the power to sanction specific proposals. If the Minister was acting responsibly he would give prior attention to the introduction of a Transport Bill which would have the power to set up a transportation authority. This would mean that toll roads might well be a feature of it. If it was, we would at least know that it was meaningful in relation to the overall transportation pattern. Introduced as it is, how can we know that it will be relevant? I know it is an enabling measure. I worry about enabling measures because they are used for political expediency. I am not aware of the falling into disuse of these measures. We should not put legislation on the Statute Book unless there is a genuine need for it. The Bill is not necessary at this time. It is necessary to facilitate one or two enterprises at the heart of which there is little concern for the public good.

Regrettably, we find ourselves debating a piecemeal measure, totally new in recent times and outside the wider, more important issues of transport. I do not see any concern with the problem of funding public transport or with any other issues relating to transport. Why the concern with toll roads? The toll road concept is nothing but taxation in another form. The Government would be able to convince the public of the wisdom of such a measure if it were seen as part of an integrated whole which represented a genuine policy on transport instead of representing the incipient beginnings of the handing over of the Government's responsibility to the private sector because the Government have not the will or the wit to carry it. In either case, this response is less than wholesome. If it comes to a choice between profit and public good, all of us know which one will win. I regret that the Minister has chosen to introduce this measure at this time. It will not help to solve our transportation and traffic problems. If the Minister applied the same urgency to transportation policy as he has done to this Bill, we might be better off.

Various local authorities are still awaiting a scintilla of response from the Minister and his Department to requests for funding in relation to future road building. Instead of a commitment, they get an enabling measure which will allow some responsible people and some fly-by-nights to become involved in the provision of a service which is seen as a public service. The question of handing over a public service to the private sector is a big debate and should not be discussed in the context of this Bill. I worry about the possibility of this Bill being used as a precedent in relation to other areas of the public service. Accordingly, I reject this Bill.

I am worried about the lack of clarity of the scope of the Bill. It is difficult to give the Minister and his colleagues an enabling measure without being able to understand the limitations of its power. How extensive is this toll road concept to be? Could we envisage a situation where the now defunct road tax would eventually be replaced by a toll road tax all over the country? Is that too far-fetched? The Bill does not suggest that it is. Theoretically the Bill provides that every road in the country that has any traffic on it could have a toll if it gives promise of being profitable to somebody. That is not the way to operate access to public roads. It is going to have a major effect on social issues because of its concern with people who have the vehicles and the money at the possible expense of those who do not.

I am also concerned about the effects that this Bill could have on the commercial sector. Are we to understand that a firm like Roadstone, for example, plying across this bridge ten, 20, 30, 40 times a day, would have to pay a road toll every time they go across the Liffey? Roadstone or any other company would be horrified at that thought. I do not see in the Bill an exclusion clause, and therefore, the only conclusion must be that they would not use the road. They would use the labyrinthine streets in the East Wall area which are already suffering from the ravages of Government policy in a variety of ways—on which I will be happy to elaborate if anyone wants me to—and the small streets would be clogged with large lorries even more than they are at present.

If, on the other hand, a toll is payable by these various lorries, juggernauts and so on, what is going to happen? It will be passed on to the consumer and the public. For example, in the case of the company I have mentioned previously, who are involved in house construction and the provision of materials for building, housing and construction costs will be even higher than at present, because the toll for commercial vehicles will inevitably be passed on. The private motorist who has not an expense account or some means of passing on the toll is going to pay. In other words, this is a Bill which is going to hit at the very small sections of society. What is the financial and transportation wisdom behind that?

I ask the Minister to be good enough to refer to the inflationary impact of tolls on businesses, job creation and so on. I am mindful that the Government recently, somewhat belatedly, expressed interest in creating a small industrial enclave in the East Wall area. I would like to think that no action by the Government in the Department of Industry and Commerce would be circumvented and the fruits of that Bill limited by virtue of a toll on people travelling to and from that enterprise. If that is the situation, people will find it more attractive to operate out of reach of these tolls. This is not as far-fetched as it might seem. For example, if a toll bridge is provided across a river, it is perfectly clear that the local authority statutorily responsible for public transport and for the provision of roads, bridges and motorways in that area will conveniently decide, perhaps rightly in some cases, that there is no longer any need for them to be overly concerned about access across that bridge or through those roads because the need has already been filled by the toll bridge or road.

If that is the case we will get a contraction of the local authority's responsibility and their executive function in this area wherever a toll operates. That must be a legitimate fear on the part of people who would be concerned about ensuring maximum standards of public service in this regard. The presence in the vicinity or environment of a toll road or bridge will make it a great deal easier for the local authority who have statutory responsibility in that area to evade their responsibilities and would bring about decreasing standards of public service in this way. I would not like to be construed as envisaging a toll road 30 yards from a local authority road. If major tracts of public transportation and access roads, bridges and so forth are to be handed over without condition to the private sector the inevitable result will be that the profit motive will dominate and the interests of the commuter, the local resident and the healthy life of living communities will take second or third place, and if prevailing economic winds dictate, those roads or bridges will close. They may close for reasons of industrial dispute or non-viability, and in that case the people involved will not have access along these routes. Let no one tell me then that that will be time enough for the local authority to step in.

All kinds of fears are involved, and the Minister in his introduction did very little to deal as sensitively as I and many others would like to see him dealing with these issues. He introduced this with an extraordinarily brief speech which amounted to a declaration that we can either take this Bill or leave it. That does not make for the best cross-House cooperation. We all want to see better standards of public transport, and indeed better standards of parliamentary cooperation, and many of us would be happy to facilite that. However, it needs some greater dialogue than the short, relatively snappy speech with which the Bill was thrown to us. Presumably, we are allowed to chaw on it for a certain length of time and the Government eventually will muster their large majority and the Bill will be approved anyway.

Those are my main objections to the Bill and I hope the Minister will be good enough to refer to them when he is summing up. This Bill was introduced with extraordinary haste despite no public demand for it and despite the more pressing legislation in the pipeline in the Minister's Department. It is being taken in isolation from a public transportation policy, which is essential. We see transport daily deteriorating around us, with the local authorities divided among themselves as to what to do about it. Yet we have a Toll Roads Bill which could be made redundant, depending on what a public transportation authority would undertake.

There is also the question of the major freedoms which this Bill seems to allow without any concern about safety and guarantees for public access. There are questions relating to the implementation of the toll. How can we be sure how it will operate? If industrial disputes come about are we expected to assume that one half of a town will be separated from the other half? This is quite a reasonable proposition if the toll road or bridge is what links them. It is quite reasonable too in view of the present industrial relations chaos which is growing and being incited to grow by virtue of the provocative policy of this Government.

The toll road is of concern primarily to the motorist. We do not see reference to other types of transport, and I include here everything ranging from the pedestrian to, in some rural areas, the horse and cart. There is the cyclist and the woman with the pram. All of these people have a right to know whether they can cross this bridge and if they are going to be levied.

Is this a tax in another form? Is it designed to replace road tax? Theoretically the possibility exists that on every road in this country, or at any rate on the major roads where the traffic is most dense, we are going to be paying tolls. How is it going to operate? Are we going to find a whole new alien idea imposed on us in a society which is small demographically in an economy which does not need this concept? All it needs is a courageous Government willing to make certain decisions and to do what is right. These issues are very germane to the Bill. The Minister, by his dismissive introduction of this legislation and by the brevity of the Bill, merely gives cause for concern about the sincerity of his approach to public transport. Unfortunately, therefore, we are unable to be our normal co-operative selves in this matter and we must reject the legislation before us as having no transportation impact, as having a questionable economic impact, as being a tax in another form. It is certainly open to the accusation of being specifically designed to cater for one or two particular applicants, and of being irrelevant to transportation policy which is what the Minister should be talking about and of being geared specifically with concern for a small sector of the community with no social comprehension or concern for the people who might not have cars. Finally, tolls will have an undoubted impact on commerce and industry if they are obliged to pay.

I am not against the principle of toll bridges and toll roads. I oppose the Bill because of its obvious inference that private enterprise will have the right to erect such bridges or provide such roads. The Minister said that it is the Government's policy that subject to certain considerations on which the provisions of this Bill are based private enterprise should be facilitated in participating with road authorities in the financing, construction, maintenance and operation of suitable projects. The Minister's introductory speech was very short and gave the impression that the Bill is partly if not totally framed for the benefit of private enterprise. Private enterprise should not be allowed to become involved in profiteering at the expense of the public.

A case can be made for toll roads and bridges. They are not without precedent even here, and they have been operated with great success in recent years in Britain and perhaps in other countries. The Government should solve the problems that exist off their own bat and should not allow the situation to be dealt with by private enterprise. Fianna Fáil told us in their manifesto that if they were returned to power they would prepare a major road development plan designed to anticipate the demands of the eighties. As far as I am aware, we have not had any such development plan. The manifesto also says that if returned to power

Fianna Fáil will establish aTransport Authority to investigate and report on the measures necessary to achieve the most efficient and economic transport system for goods and passengers having regard to the need to maintain a flexible competitive transport system—thereby ensuring the facilities necessary for industrial development through the country as a whole.

We have not seen any sign of that transport authority. We would all welcome the setting up of such an authority because there is a great need to improve our road structures generally. The cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford are constantly snarled up with heavy traffic jams and there is obviously a need for a number of extra bridges plus an improved road system. On a wet miserable evening such as this it would not be unusual in Cork city for traffic to move only one hundred yards in an hour. The provision of three or four bridges in each city would probably assist greatly in solving the problems but the Government should not hand it over to private enterprise.

We as a party feel that the Government are abdicating their responsibility by handing it over to private enterprise. We also feel that if this is operated by the Government or the local authorities it will be a new form of road tax and I would ask the Minister to allay our fears in this regard in his reply. The Minister's opening address for this important Bill was extremely short and that is one of the reasons why we are suspicious of the motives behind the Bill. Toll roads and bridges should only be provided in exceptional circumstances, in cases where motorists would be saved travelling a considerable distance. For instance, if one were to build a bridge 30 miles downstream from Limerick it would be a tremendous saving for motorists travelling from Kerry to Clare andvice versa. This is the reasoning behind the toll bridge erected on the Severn estuary in the south of England. That bridge probably cost hundreds of millions of pounds but it has been a great success as it saves 50 to 60 miles for people travelling from the south of Wales to London. If the Minister told us that his proposals were along those lines he would get the backing of this party. The Minister seems to be opting out in favour of private enterprise and we certainly do not agree to that.

We have one toll bridge in Fiddown. It spans the river Suir joining Kilkenny and Waterford. It is run by semi-private enterprise. It is the responsibility of CIE. Our experience has been that while the bridge was making money CIE were quite happy but when the condition of the bridge deteriorated they wanted to get rid of it because it was a liability. For years they have been attempting to hand the toll bridge over to the Kilkenny or Waterford county council. The same thing could happen with private enterprise. While money was to be made they would maintain it but if it deteriorated or became structurally unsound would they opt out like CIE are attempting to do at the moment.

I can appreciate that the Government may be financially embarrassed and are not in a position to build the number of bridges required. Nearly every town has a bridge which needs to be replaced but the four major cities I refer to need additional bridges immediately. The Government should not hand it over to private enterprise to supply the need. Surely the Regional Fund was set up with a view to providing this type of infrastructure. Why can this type of roads and bridges envisaged in this Bill not be financed from the Regional Fund? That is surely one of the natural places to seek the finance.

We feel that there is sufficient tax on road users, the tax on petrol, insurance premiums and so on, and it is a bit much to expect motorists to bear this further form of taxation which is what tolls are. I am in favour of handing back much of semi-State property and semi-State companies to private enterprise. The Posts and Telegraphs services, for instance, do not bear mentioning.

They cannot hand them back, they would have to give them.

CIE is another company which is a liability and would obviously be run much better in private hands. It is costing the country a stack and is highly inefficient. The ESB is probably the one semi-State body which is providing a reasonably satisfactory service. However, private enterprise should not be entertained in this area. We do not expect to pay for something which the local authority or the Government should provide. If the Minister could point out that the type of bridges and roads which would be provided under this Bill would be for the benefit of the public and would be a saving to the public, such as the Severn Bridge which cuts off a vast roundabout trip, we would all be with him.

I should like the Minister to tell us if such figures are available: what it costs the State at present for our very inadequate road system? What amount do we lose each year due to traffic jams, the type of chaos we meet daily at Naas, in Dublin and Cork at every rush hour? Places like Naas should have been bypassed years ago. I do not blame the Minister; it is probably the fault of all Governments in the past 20 or 30 years; they are a headache for motorists. Perhaps the Minister intends when the Naas by-pass is built that it should be a toll road. I would like to know if any study has been carried out by An Foras Forbartha or some such group showing what has been lost in man-hours or what assessment can be made of the losses incurred due to traffic snarl-ups. Naas is an obvious place; one could name many other towns near Dublin but bad as these places are and badly as we need by-passes I do not regard them as the type of project that should be liable to tolls. Such roads are a necessity, not a saving to anybody. The public have a right to such facilities and should not have to put up with the nerve-racking experiences they must endure at present. I wish we had some study that would set out the cost to the State at present because it is obvious that it would be money well spent if the State were to remedy the present inadequate structures. I should like the Minister to state what practical proposals he has to present if this Bill is passed.

This is an unusual Bill. It is one that has caused some concern. From the time I first heard of the possibility of toll roads and all that follows from them I was very anxious to see what this Bill would contain. The Title of the Bill is interesting. It says:

An Act to provide for the charging of tolls in respect of the use of public roads, to enable road authorities, with the consent of the Minister for the Environment, both to makes schemes for the establishment of systems of such tolls and to enter into agreements under which persons do one or more of the following, that is to say, provide, maintain, improve, manage and operate roads the subject of such tolls for, with or on behalf of those authorities upon such terms and conditions as may be specified in the agreements (including the payment to, or retention by, them of all or part of the proceeds of the tolls) and to provide for matters connected with the matters aforesaid.

The Title worried me to a certain extent because it includes making "schemes for the establishment of a system of such tolls and to enter into agreements . . . that is to say, provide, maintain, improve, manage and operate roads the subject of such tolls. . . . " I should like the Minister to elaborate as to what exactly he means by this. I presume that we shall have bridges provided at certain river crossings, as he said near the end of the speech. He said it was an enabling measure which would provide an additional option to road authorities for the financing and operation of particular road facilities such as major river crossings which are necessary in the general traffic and transportation interests.

My reason for concern is that at the time of the general election I had heard that Fianna Fáil promised to abolish road tax and I was curious as to how finance would be made available later on to provide future roads. It was at the back of my mind that at some stage we would have toll roads. When I ventured to suggest this at different meetings I addressed, some people believed that we might have toll roads while others did not. I suggest that people who are using roads at present are paying enough. I honestly believe that our road network leaves much to be desired, but while that is so, I do not think toll roads are the answer. No doubt the Minister will say that we will have beautiful motorways provided and excellent bridges and so on and that all of these when provided will save motorists many miles. This is probably true, but I would ask: Is there not a possibility, if not a probability, that over the years some of our roads will be allowed to deteriorate and people will have little option but to use toll roads? There are toll roads in Europe and in America, but in Ireland people should not have to pay for the privilege of using a road provided by the local authority. It is wrong and unfair, and it is another form of taxation.

The Minister will probably say people will not have to use toll roads but they will because the present roads will not be kept up to present standards. A public road is defined in the Bill. How will the people in rural Ireland be affected by this Bill? The short statement made by the Minister does not answer any of the questions I have to ask. Will there be toll roads and bridges in Laois-Offaly, Galway, Westmeath, Longford, Kerry and Donegal? I see dangers in this. There are many bridges across the River Shannon. Will we have to pay tolls to cross that river? When will these roads and bridges be built? Where will they be built? Who will have to pay for building them?

The Minister's statement is less than frank. He had a duty and an obligation to go into far more detail in his opening remarks to the House. It is all very well to speak about objections people may lodge, and notices and statements that will be published. It is all very well to talk about statutory objections. The Minister emphasised that it will continue to be the responsibility of the road authorities to decide whatever projects might be undertaken under the terms of this Bill. The Minister had an obligation to give some examples of the type of toll roads he has in mind.

Will we have a toll road in the vicinity of Naas? There is a bottleneck in Naas. Will people have to pay for the privilege of taking a short cut around Naas? I do not think they should. That work could have been done out of moneys from the Road Fund. One of the main reasons why this Bill is before the House is the loss of revenue suffered by all the local authorities. I can appreciate the difficulties of local authorities. We are dealing here with the duties of local authorities who are responsible for building roads. Motor taxation was a simple system of collecting money and providing roads. As far as I can see, people are still working in motor taxation offices and dealing with the £5 car disc. This Bill is a device to make up for the revenue lost by the abolition of motor taxation. It may prove very unfair to many people who will be obliged to use toll roads regularly. It will militate against them.

There is an enormous amount of work to be done on our roads system. No matter how you approach the city of Dublin there are difficulties. The method the Minister is considering is not the answer to the problems. He should let the people know exactly what he has in mind for the erection of toll roads and bridges. What proposals has the Minister in mind in regard to a road system for the country? Will the future situation be one in which the reconstruction of major roads will mean that they will become toll roads? How many of the people travelling into Dublin from all other parts of the country will be faced with toll roads? What will be the situation in regard to people who have to use bridge across the River Shannon? Indeed some of those bridges at present are in need of maintenance, improvement and perhaps replacement. Will any of those bridge across the River Shannon be toll bridges?

Taxation can be applied in many ways. I said some considerable time ago that our people would be faced with having to pay for the privilege of using our roads in the future. When I made that forecast I did not realise it would materialise so soon. When people fully recognise what the Minister is setting out to do here they will be opposed to the changes he has in mind. The whole system before us this evening is something to which our people will be opposed. Our people are entitled to travel along our public roads as of right without having to pay for the privilege of so doing, be it to a local authority, the Department of the Environment or any private person who might take over their administration at some future date. There will be a lot of people very sad, upset and annoyed at the realisation that they will have to pay for the privilege of using some of our public roadways. The principle involved is something over which I could not stand and I am totally opposed to it. It is the duty of local authorities to build and provide these roadways and the system obtains already for that purpose. It is now proposed to change all of that and to charge people for using those roads, which is something the Minister must reconsider.

The most important task of the Minister here this evening is to explain to us in detail what roadways and bridges he had in mind that will be affected by the provisions of this Bill. He should set out clearly for us the areas that will be affected. He should inform us whether it will be throughout the whole country or in Dublin only.

There is a lot of controversy in regard to the Dublin road system. In regard to the proposals discussed last evening by Dublin Corporation, I believe that the new motorway envisaged will in some way improve the traffic system in and around Dublin. Something will have to be done in regard to Dublin because the city is slowly grinding to a halt. It is bad for business, for industry, for tourism and, most important of all, for the people living in the city.

The whole system of roadways in rural areas must be looked at also. People who are living, not on national primary or secondary route, but on the smaller roads require these to be improved enormously, which in turn brings the requirement of further financing from the Department of the Environment, because the moneys available already have proved insufficient. A lot of our smaller roads are becoming dog tracks and bog roads. The Department of the Environment will have to face up to the responsibility of providing the necessary funds for their improvement because many of these roads are in a serious condition at present. This is a task that must be undertaken because there is grave dissatisfaction with the present condition of roads.

Those are the comments I wish to make on this Bill. I cannot see my way to supporting it.

This is a very short, enabling Bill. Even though it is a short Bill, it is amazing to note the two conflicting interpretations of it. On the one hand, Deputy Quinn maintained that the Bill was designed to exclude the only proposal afoot at present—a proposal by a certain individual—or his company. On the other hand Deputy Keating maintained that the Bill was designed to facilitate that specific proposal and that was its only purpose. Both interpretations are quite wrong.

I do not think anybody said they were against toll roads even though they said they would vote against the Bill. We are all agreed that more money is needed to create a proper roads structure for the country. These funds are still badly needed to bring our roads up to the desired standard. Even though a few Deputies referred to the fact that not sufficient money was being made available by the Government at present for road structure, I should like to point out that the 1979 allocation is 80 per cent higher than the 1977 allocation of moneys by the National Coalition—not a bad performance by this Government in a little over 18 months in regard to our roads. It is an example of their serious intent to improve the roads. At the moment there is no way anyone could set up a toll scheme here. Without this enabling legislation one could not attempt to do it because the Bill is necessary to permit it.

The criticism has been made that in this Bill we are handing the roads over to the private sector. This is not true. Not only will this Bill permit a local authority to join with the private sector to create a toll scheme, but without this Bill the local authority could not contemplate a toll scheme even on their own. This Bill now permits a local authority to set up their own toll scheme if they wish to do so and to benefit from that scheme on their own. It also facilitates their entry into agreement with the private sector to set up such a scheme if they think it is worth while.

In regard to this Bill there is absolutely no question of compulsion or pressure on any local authority to set up tolls for public roads. In addition, the Bill is so drafted as to preserve in full the existing statutory responsibilities and the power of decision of the road authorities in relation to the provision of public roads in their own administrative areas. All the important decisions of road authorities, such as the making of toll schemes, the making of bye-laws for the operation of toll roads, bridges or whatever the scheme is and entering into agreements with private persons for financing, construction, maintenance and management of a toll project, and further, the making of agency arrangements with other road authorities, are reserved to the elected members of the local authority concerned. It is the elected members who make these decisions and, this Bill enables them to do so. A very important factor is that it allows the private sector to invest money in the building of roads, bridges, tunnels and so on. They can invest money which they have already expressed an interest in investing. That expression of interest is not solely confined to the one company which has been referred to here. There are other interests which have expressed a desire to become involved.

Deputy Quinn mentioned the question of pension funds. There is nothing whatsoever to stop people operating pension schemes in the public sector or otherwise getting involved with any road authority in a scheme to attract the necessary funds to enable them to operate their pension scheme; the Bill permits them to get involved.

Deputy Keating was worried about the position of pedestrians and cyclists in relation to toll roads. He wondered who would be excluded from the use of the bridge here in Dublin which he specifically referred to. I would suggest that he read section 3 (3) (b) of the Bill. He will see that the road authority—in this case Dublin Corporation—will decide what classes of vehicles or other road users will be permitted to use the bridge he referred to. He also said that the Bill was to facilitate a single proposal. That is not so. It is to facilitate any proposal where a local authority might wish to enter into an agreement with the private sector or to implement a proposal on their own. Of course, we recognise that all areas of the country would not attract a toll scheme. There would have to be a certain volume of traffic to make it economically feasible. There are certain areas which will attract toll proposals. Deputy Moore was correct when he said that a local authority could introduce a toll scheme under the Bill. They can also enter into an arrangement with the private sector to do so.

Deputy Quinn referred to harbour authorities in relation to the Bill. The harbour authority in question is not a roads authority. Dublin Corporation is the roads authority in the area that Deputy Quinn referred to. This Bill could not make the harbour authority a roads authority. It would have to be done under the Harbours Act and not under this Bill.

Deputy Fitzpatrick and others referred to the manifesto and whether or not a transport authority would be set up. As I said here at Question Time, my colleague, the Minister for Tourism and Transport, has already set up the Transport Consultative Commission and this commission has already produced a discussion document which has been very widely publicised.

Another matter which has been referred to by many people here is the question of a roads plan. In accordance with the commitment given in the manifesto a roads plan for the 1980s is at a very advanced stage of preparation and will be published in the near future. Some people thought that should be published before bringing in this Bill. Once this Bill becomes law it will only assist in the overall picture with regard to the planning of our roads and on where money should be spent initially in order to do something about the traffic jams which people are experiencing in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Naas and other places. The plan, when published, will make it easier for people in the private sector who are interested in investing in our roads on a toll basis to identify the areas where it would be worth having consultations with a view to doing so. The two are complementary to each other. Without this Bill there would be no legislative standing for a toll roads programme in any area. This Bill, having gone through the House, will surely have the desired effect on this country with regard to road structure. To continue under the present system with the Exchequer making money available to build more roads would be slow despite increases from year to year so this Bill is introduced in an effort to speed up the development. It will bring in moneys which otherwise we would not have access to for this purpose. The local authorities are the people who will be responsible for the arrangement for running any toll schemes throughout the country.

With regard to the question of charges being exorbitant for different types of vehicles these charges had to be agreed by the local authority and, in turn, have to be approved by me as Minister for the Environment so the public interest is going to be protected under this Bill.

Deputy Keating asked what inflationary effect toll charges would have on the products of firms, one or two of whose names he mentioned. These firms, whether they are using articulated trucks or cars are being held up in traffic jams and, consequently, they are losing financially because in the business world it is important to be able to move quickly from point A to point B. We must face the fact that this congestion must be relieved with the minimum of delay. I have been accused of bringing this legislation in hastily, but 18 months ago we said clearly that we were prepared to consider toll schemes for different parts of the country. We made it clear also that any decision in this regard would require legislation. What I am doing here is providing for an intake of money for the toll systems. All the evidence to date indicates that many groups in the private sector are waiting for this legislation and are willing to invest money in the various areas. The Bill will enable them to put forward their proposals and to identify the areas that will be of interest to them. The Bill is not a question of putting the cart before the horse. It is a question of putting everything in the proper order of priority.

As I have said the roads plan for the eighties will make it easier to identify the areas where it would be feasible to have toll schemes and to identify the areas in which it would be attractive to have these schemes. This plan will be published shortly and we should hope that coupled with the legislation it will enable us to achieve a better road structure and to eliminate the traffic jams and long delays that we experience on the roads now. The quicker we advance our roads structure, the more development we will have.

This Bill is short and simple. It is an enabling Bill whereby the proposals can be considered. Nobody should be confused by them. Responsibility for our roads will not be handed over to anyone. The final decision will remain with each local authority concerned. In other words, the decisions will rest with the elected members of local authorities and surely that is a guarantee that the interests of the public will be protected in relation to any road toll scheme.

In setting up toll schemes we shall be assisting the public and ensuring that business people will be able to reach their destinations much faster. If there are people who wish to vote against the Bill, that is their right but I emphasise again that the legislation is merely enabling the setting up of toll road schemes and that this is in accordance with the wishes of most of the people. I trust that the Bill will be enacted within a reasonable time so that we may achieve our aims in this regard.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 55; Nil, 43.

  • Ahern, Kit.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Barrett, Sylvester.
  • Brady, Gerard.
  • Brady, Vincent.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Callanan, John.
  • Calleary, Seán.
  • Collins, Gerard.
  • Connolly, Gerard.
  • Cowen, Bernard.
  • de Valera, Sile.
  • de Valera, Vivion.
  • Doherty, Seán.
  • Fahey, Jackie.
  • Farrell, Joe.
  • Faulkner, Pádraig.
  • Filgate, Eddie.
  • Fitzgerald, Gene.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom. (Dublin South-Central).
  • Murphy, Ciarán P.
  • Nolan, Tom.
  • O'Connor, Timothy C.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Malley, Desmond.
  • Fitzsimons, James N.
  • Flynn, Pádraig.
  • Fox, Christopher J.
  • Gallagher, Dennis.
  • Geoghegan-Quinn, Maire.
  • Haughey, Charles J.
  • Herbert, Michael.
  • Keegan, Seán.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Killeen, Tim.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Lalor, Patrick J.
  • Lemass, Eileen.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Leonard, Jimmy.
  • Leonard, Tom.
  • Leyden, Terry.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Moore, Seán.
  • Morley, P.J.
  • Power, Paddy.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Walsh, Seán.
  • Wilson, John P.
  • Woods, Michael J.
  • Wyse, Pearse.


  • Barry, Peter.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Begley, Michael.
  • Belton, Luke.
  • Boland, John.
  • Bruton, Joh.
  • Burke, Joan.
  • Clinton, Mark.
  • Conlan, John F.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Creed, Donal.
  • Crotty, Kieran.
  • Deasy, Martin A.
  • Donegan, Patrick S.
  • Enright, Thomas W.
  • FitzGerald, Garret.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom. (Cavan-Monaghan).
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Gilhawley, Eugene.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harte, Patrick D.
  • Hegarty, Paddy.
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Keating, Michael.
  • L'Estrange, Gerry.
  • Lipper, Mick.
  • McMahon, Larry.
  • Mannion, John M.
  • Mitchell, Jim.
  • O'Brien, Fergus.
  • O'Brien, William.
  • O'Connell, John.
  • O'Donnell, Tom.
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Leary, Michael.
  • O'Toole, Paddy.
  • Pattison, Séamus.
  • Quinn, Ruairi.
  • Ryan, John J.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Tully, James.
  • White, James.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies P. Lalor and Briscoe; Nil, Deputies Creed and Pattison.
Question declared carried.

When is it proposed to take Committee Stage?

This day week?

(Cavan-Monaghan): Subject to agreement with the Whips.

Committee stage ordered for Tuesday, 6 March 1978.