Before the adjournment for lunch I was on the point of saying that the management of CIE have a great responsibility towards the effective running of that company. Indeed, the efficient management of any company, above all a State company, must plan ahead and must learn to motivate workers with qualities of leadership and ability. Management must look for changes in transport systems of other countries and other societies to see if some of these changes can be adapted to our own society here in Ireland. It is sad that the management of CIE through the years have failed all too often in these areas and have been lacking very much in the qualities I have described. They have failed to show the leadership, initiative and enterprise necessary to tackle some of the problems and issues outlined during the course of this debate on this Bill. We have heard from speakers on both sides of the House how political appointments have found their way into the management of CIE. I deplore this, because we need the very best management in this area and we have not had that in the past. I know that it is very easy for somebody like me to indict management in all areas right across the board. It is a very handy way of looking at the overall situation and trying to pinpoint flaws and difficulties. However, in this area of management I am on very solid ground in speaking on this because it is a key area and the people concerned in management have not had the necessary philosophy of transport or, indeed, at times a basic understanding of the issues and problems involved.
There are some good things about CIE which I must welcome. I am trying to be fair and truthful in what I am saying. I welcome the innovation of the election of workers to the board of CIE. That is a positive step forward which I must applaud and I want to go on record here as saying that this is something that I have advocated through the years. It is a good thing now that we have workers from the floor on the board of CIE to talk on the issues of the day and to help in advising that board on how CIE should play their role in Irish society and how they should go forward. It is a big improvement on the old system of Ministerial appointees being nominated to the board of CIE, which was called industrial democracy by parachute. These nominees of the Minister's were dropped in through the sky-light and they had no control at all and no involvement with the workers on the shop floor. I would like to see the Minister concerned adapting that to local areas like Cork, Limerick, Galway, Wexford, Dundalk and Drogheda and thoughout the country. There should be some local consultative committee or body in these areas to advise the management at that level on issues concerning them. There should be joint management-labour committees not only at national level in CIE but also at local level and embracing trains, buses and road freight. I hope the Minister will take some notice of that.
There is need in CIE for a proper consultative advisory service and for a grievance procedure at national and local levels. There is a basic right of workers nowadays in any company, semi-State or private, to have a say in the running of that company, enterprise or undertaking and that should also be at all levels. It is important for the Minister to be aware of this and to endeavour to have democracy running right through CIE. There is an old saying in Irish, "Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí"— praise the youth and they will respond. If you encourage the workers you will have a lot to gain from them. You are tapping a potential that has not been tapped in the past and you can get the workers to respond to you and tell you how they would like to organise things by harnessing their potential for good in the company. In the past that aspect of the workers' determination of their working environment and conditions has been totally ignored. Therefore, I hope the Minister will respond to my initiatives in those areas.
In our society we are inclined to hive off difficult areas and areas which do not make profits. It is a handy way out. Areas where profits can be made are kept by private enterprise and private enterprise is propped up with all sorts of grants and subsidies from the State. In this area CIE are fulfilling a social function. It is difficult to use the same criteria for private enterprise because this work has been given to CIE as a means of providing a public service. Other more lucrative and profitable areas of society are kept under the control of private enterprise.
I am not going to comment in any great detail on the history of industrial relations in CIE. Suffice to say I am unhappy about some aspects of their policy. For instance, during industrial disputes the policy is to issue protective notice to blue collar workers. In the present dispute bus drivers and conductors have the threat of protective notice hanging over them. This notice is never extended to management or to white collar workers. This is discrimination and would not be tolerated in any other society. If protective notice is to be issued it should be done across the board. The day is gone when you can tell workers that they are the casualties and will have to go. The Minister will have to look at this situation because I intend to speak about it often in the House. There should be no discrimination against any kind of worker. The present system is not just or fair. I have spoken to the Minister for Labour, Deputy Kavanagh, about this and I hope to speak privately to the Minister for Transport also.
It is a time of great challenge for CIE. Something should be done about the bus and rail systems because, at a time when oil and petrol costs are going sky high, and when our roads are clogged with traffic, we must look to our road and rail systems to see what we can do to exploit those systems to our advantage. Although our rail system has been stripped in many cases, it is still intact in many areas. I do not think we have the will or the determination to face up to the challenge. It is important that we have new thinking in these areas to meet the challenges which are before us and to use whatever systems are available to us. Other countries have adapted their rail and bus systems to suit themselves.
Deputy Higgins mentioned certain things on which he looked back with nostalgia. Perhaps there is a place for nostalgia and sentiment in any person or, indeed, company. I have a fondness, when travelling up and down to Dublin by rail, for looking at those Victorian railway stations built by the British. They are stations of great beauty and character. They are of beautiful design and stonework. We have not refurbished them too well. Much of the work done by CIE in this regard has not been good, although some of the engineers, architects, tradesmen and supervisors have been very good conservationists. Some of those stations, from Heuston down to the smallest station, are works of beauty. Our stone bridges, perhaps built under a different regime, are also very important. They give character to cities and towns and it is important to preserve them. I hope the Minister will look at that area.
There is one other area which is often ignored — our canal system. We have woefully neglected that area which could have a great tourist potential. It is a more leisurely throwback to a bygone age. Nevertheless, in other countries they have used networks of canals for tourists as well as for internal travel. We should not fill our canals with concrete and cement. We should broaden and clean them so that people may use them. We are supposed to be backward in terms of visual art. The Minister is well aware of what I am talking about and how we should use the canals to beautify our countryside and provide amenities. I hope he will do something about providing a potential attraction for continental and British tourists who used to come here up to a decade ago and are, unfortunately, at present conspicuous by their absence. I hope they will come back again to fish and to boat on the waterways.
I also have to record another sad fact. An English historian, who has an interest in social history, came to me some years ago to complain that the annals and records of canals here are stored in vaults at Heuston Station, in damp and dirty conditions. They are the records of people who worked on canals, bargemen, labourers and all those people who gave their time to transporting goods and people on our waterways. They are a very valuable social documentary. I would ask the Minister to rescue those books and papers and make them available to the National Library. It could be even better if we could set up a transport museum and exhibit them. They should not be gathering dirt, damp and cobwebs.
This morning the Bombardier plant at Shannon was mentioned. I believe Irish workers can build buses as well as anybody in the world. It is unfortunate that the then Minister, Deputy Reynolds, has some bad memories of his trip down there to drive the first bus. I will not go into those memories. There are always teething troubles. I have been impressed at the quality of the work carried out at the Bombardier plant. Their achievements should be praised. The company have received bad press and television reports because of an unfortunate few incidents. We cannot see the wood for the trees. They have turned out a lot of work in a short time and the craftsmanship and skill shown by those workers are a credit, not only to the region, but to the country as a whole.
I welcome the suggestion by Deputy Deasy that there should be a full discussion in this House on the McKinsey Report. I agree with that so I will not comment on it now. Somebody said recently it would make a fine bonfire. That is a frivolous way of dealing with it. It cost an awful lot of money and it should be discussed in full.
It gives me great pleasure to support this Bill. I add one small rider — that the money being provided will be wisely and well spent.