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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 8 Jul 1981

Vol. 329 No. 3

Transport Bill, 1981: Second Stage (Resumed) and Final Stages.

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

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.

I also support the Bill. One must accept that a new Government, only recently in office, are compelled to adopt this measure to provide for the on-going finances of CIE. However, a major review of our transport policy must be undertaken, and undertaken fairly quickly. All too often, the impression is given by senior CIE officials, among others, that in some way our transportation services must be regarded as some kind of industry which should, at least, break even, if not, indeed, make a profit. That I could never accept. Transportation services must be regarded as a social service. CIE have run deficits and continue to do so and this may be due to their pricing policy—the level of fares which they have been imposing over the years. People living in the area I represent find the burden of bus fares into and out of Dublin city alone a crippling burden. Many cannot afford journeys into the city centre on more than one or two occasions weekly. Incredibly, bus fares have reached a situation where they can present a real financial hardship, running into pounds per week, which simply cannot be afforded.

The level of the service appears, in many respects, inadequate. Many potential users of CIE are put off the service by reason, firstly, of their pricing policy and, secondly, of the lack of speed of the service. Two essentials which any member of the public asks for in a transport service are speed and cheapness. We have been falling down on both these counts. I strongly suspect that if the prices charged by CIE on their bus routes, particularly in the Dublin city and county areas, were slashed, and substantially slashed, far from producing a reduction in their revenue is would bring about an increase in revenue. Furthermore, if a fast and adequate service were introduced on many routes, many who now travel by car would be impelled to use the public transport service.

We should use every device possible to ensure that the maximum number of people at present using their cars would divert to public transport. In Dublin city and county now at peak hours our transportation is literally grinding to a halt, bringing this city to a halt. Journeys which should take ten minutes are taking an hour. The expenditure in terms of resources of petrol and energy and with regard to the balance of payments must be overwhelming.

Increased finances should be made available to CIE for substantial improvements in the frequency of their services and to enable them to substantially subsidise their fares, particularly to the newly developing areas in County Dublin. This would increase the use of the public transportation system which would, in turn, relieve the burden on our roads and the appalling loss of time and wastage of energy of people driving to and from work.

I turn very briefly to the question of rail links to the newly developing areas in County Dublin and, in particular, to the new town of Tallaght in my constituency, which I am sorry to have to say is very poorly served by public transport. We have the paradoxical situation in the provision of bus services that those newly developing areas and new estates which have mushroomed so much over the past decade in County Dublin are the areas worst served by buses. On the other hand, the more settled areas have relatively speaking, a first-class service, established over the years. The new towns being built on the periphery of the city and county get a second-class service — inadequate schedules, inadequate buses, inadequate timings, but at a very high cost. The paradox is that those people require the service far more than people living in the old, settled areas who are better equipped with alternative transport.

Many of these new estates are two miles from the nearest bus route, served, more often than not, by a country bus rather than an urban city bus. Most people living in these estates do not have motor cars and must walk up to two miles to reach, at that stage, a very inadequate system. The new town of Tallaght with 50,000 inhabitants and tending to increase, desperately needs the provision of a rapid rail link into the centre of the city. Dublin County Council have made provision for the land to be reserved for a station and I would urge the Minister to ensure that, during the currency of this Government, the finances be made available to CIE with all possible speed for that essential link for Tallaght and the other new towns in the west of County Dublin.

I support the Bill. I am well aware that CIE are providing school transport services which, everyone must agree, cannot be very lucrative for them. On the other hand, I wonder if there is interference by any other authority which is preventing CIE from running a very lucrative road haulage system.

In the town of Mallow, where I come from, from October until mid-January the large haulage trucks draw beet to the sugar factory and CIE are noted for their absence from that very lucrative business. CIE must not allow that financially rewarding business to be taken over entirely by private enterprise.

First, I thank the various Deputies who contributed to this wide-ranging debate for giving consideration to the Bill and its implications. I thank them, on a personal note, for their good wishes towards me. These will be needed when one considers all the problems raised in their contributions.

Every measure touching CIE which is brought before the Oireachtas provokes a wide-ranging debate, wider than the strict terms of the Bill might at first sight suggest. It is only right that the debate should be wide ranging and that this House should have the views of as many Deputies as possible and on as wide a number of aspects relating to CIE as possible.

In the course of the debate it became clear that there is a widespread wish for a fundamental examination of CIE and of a transport policy generally. The point was made by Deputy Deasy that we need a transport policy. Deputy Higgins, in the terminology of his profession, a sociologist, put the point more graphically and, when describing the urgent need for basic planning, said it was not enough at this stage to take the McKinsey Report as the base for new thinking on CIE. I took him as saying that we need to go behind that and set aims and objectives in the context of Ireland's social and economic needs and then relate our transport policy to those aims and how best they can fulfil those needs. He does have a point because the McKinsey Report is an examination of results and is suggesting changes on a present base which may be an altogether improper base.

The consideration of the McKinsey Report is going on apace. I take the point that this House should have an opportunity at some stage to debate it. It was suggested that the opportunity should come early but I would not like to commit myself to an early debate on something so basic, because it will take some time to get all the views of the parties who have a deep interest in this subject, to consider their views and to formulate my own views. It may also be necessary to look at the matter in the very basic terms proposed by Deputy Higgins.

The general level of criticism one hears levelled at CIE and their operations — the critical perception of the public has been heightened in recent days by the present unfortunate bus strike — imposes an obligation on me and on this House to consider the whole transport policy of the nation from stage one. That, of course, is an immense task.

This debate was useful in pointing up and highlighting the need for some radical changes. Deputies touched on the various symptoms of dissatisfaction. Deputy Reynolds mentioned that CIE morale was low and queried the attitude of CIE management and unions towards each other. Other Deputies made similar points. The collective worries of Deputies in this area is pointed up by the present strike. Deputy Reynolds asked if we cared about this strike and its consequences, and how we showed our care. I would like to assure him that all Deputies, myself included, care very deeply about this strike and about the real hardships it is causing to a large number of people in this city and we show our care by engaging in the negotiating processes in an urgent way.

As Deputies opposite know, the responsibility for those negotiations lies with the Minister for Labour. I want to assure the House that he is engaged in the negotiating processes in an active and urgent way. There was an implication yesterday that these processes should be by-passed in favour of some sort of direct consultation. But Deputies opposite must know — bearing in mind that they were members of a Government which by their dogged insistence on negotiating procedures left us without telephones and post for nearly half a year — that you cannot throw the book of procedures out the window because by that type of action you could be inviting industrial anarchy. There are procedures and they have to be observed. They have to be used vigorously and energetically, intelligently, and with skill and sensitivity. That is the task of my colleague, the Minister for Labour, and I am satisfied that he is doing that with all urgency and with the necessary degree of commitment and skill.

People are entitled to ask if anything can be done to ameliorate the hardships being endured by the public at the moment. The Government are sensitive to this need. The calling in of the Army to assist in ameliorating the plight of Dublin citizens has not been excluded, but I do not want to go any further than that at this stage. I want to take this opportunity to appeal to Dublin motorists to come to the assistance of their fellow citizens who normally travel by bus, to give them lifts, and I would ask bus travellers to stand at bus stops to indicate their willingness to get a lift. I appeal to the community of Dublin to show solidarity towards each other in this time of hardship. If a high level of solidarity can be shown, considerable amelioration of the hardships imposed by the strike can be effected.

I want to place on the record that the Government are seriously concerned about the strike and are doing, and will continue to do, everything that can be done to have the strike settled as quickly as possible and to ameliorate its effects on the public.

It is ironic that the industrial disputes which seem to cause the greatest hardship to the greatest number of people mainly emanate from the State and semi-State spheres where the people are in protected employment and guaranteed safety from the cold winds of recession. I find that a disturbing comment to have to make. It is a matter of great regret that there is not greater acknowledgement by people in those spheres of their protected positions within the community and that there is not a greater recognition by them of that protection by reciprocating in a higher level of service to the community they serve.

As the House knows, this is not the first strike by CIE workers. In the last number of years there have been a number of disputes, most of them unofficial but, so far as the suffering public are concerned, the hardship is the same. An organisation which produced in the last four years 102 unofficial disputes, even though the majority of them were for only one day, is symptomatic of a malaise which is recognised by the public and has inspired Deputies here today to seek a fundamental reappraisal of that organisation. The starting point for the reappraisal has been the consideration of the McKinsey Report and the options those considerations throw up.

Having listened to Deputy Higgins, I begin to wonder whether we should go further back and look at the problem in a more basic way. There are many options to be considered and Deputy Deasy touched on some of them when he spoke of hiving off the rail and bus services into separate units. That is an option which may have to be considered. The management and control of such units would have to be considered carefully in the light of certain specific social and commercial objectives. A serious task faces the Government and will in due course face the Oireachtas in deciding the changes to be made in our transport system so that we may have a system which serves the needs of the people and on which they can rely. Such a service must be provided as cheaply and efficiently as possible. This is all fundamental. In the meantime we must carry on with what we have.

Many Deputies touched on various aspects of the present operations of CIE. The concern expressed by Dublin Deputies was essentially related to the bus and rail services. As I pointed out earlier, the capital expenditure which is required is related to the electrification of the Howth-Bray line and the acquisition of more mainline carriage units. There is also the commuter rail service from Maynooth. These extensions, are of course, desirable because if the services are free from interruption and efficient they will provide a preferable mode of transport for most people. They will encourage people to leave their cars at home and travel by train. The implementation of these new developments is a matter of urgency. I know it was being pressed urgently by my predecessor and I will continue with the same urgency.

Deputy Ahern asked what stations will be served by the Maynooth commuter line. I understand they will be Maynooth itself, Leixlip, Clonsilla, Blanchardstown and Ashtown initially and at a later date Coolmine and Drumcondra. Deputies McMahon and Taylor raised the possibility of a similar service to the Tallaght area. A proposition to provide such a service is at present under examination and will be dealt with speedily. All these things are in the future although the electrification of the Howth-Bray line is continuing apace and will be completed comparatively soon.

This emphasis on providing a commuter rail service must be seen in the context of Dublin traffic. I share the concern of Deputies that something radical must be done about the traffic problem. At the moment it is being considered by the Dublin Transportation Task Force and they are developing remedial measures such as the bus lanes which have been very successful and are to be expanded. This task force is also preparing for the establishment of a Dublin transportation authority which will bring together all the agencies having responsibility for different aspects of Dublin traffic and they will have the power to enforce their views by statute.

The stage has been reached where really radical measures are needed to unclog Dublin traffic. I know that the physical lay-out of the city and the situation of the port and access roads compound the difficulties but in addition there are far too many private cars whose occupants could be enticed to use public transport. If they cannot be enticed to do so consideration might have to be given to measures that would be a financial deterrent to using cars in the city centre. We have a hen and egg situation because unless we get rid of the cars the buses will not be able to move efficiently while, on the other hand, unless there is an efficient bus service people will not leave their cars at home. That circle must be broken and we must attract people to the buses. The new factory at Shannon will make buses available and we must ensure that they can run speedily and to time.

Deputy Taylor said that bus fares are too dear and that if they were slashed CIE would have an increase in their income due to increased usage. I would agree with that assertion if the traffic situation were such that buses could run quickly and to time. In that situation there would be an immense growth in traffic and it would then be possible to consider altering fares. I do not think that an alteration at present would make the slightest difference to the volume of passengers because the main inhibition is the slow service and irregular schedule.

Likewise many people travelling from the provinces to Dublin would be very glad to come by train if two conditions could be fulfilled. Firstly we should have a higher standard of rolling stock. I disagree with Deputy Flynn, who said that air conditioning was a bit extravagant and that our climate does not require it. Anything that enhances the standard of our carriages and makes them more comfortable should be pursued to attract the customer. This Bill will enable CIE to update their rolling stock as a matter of urgency as the present standard is deplorably low.

Will all the new carriages have air conditioning?

That is a matter for the designer and I will not stand in his way. I did not see the design of the carriages and I will leave it to the professionals in CIE.

Does the Minister consider it necessary in this climate?

I am not a professional railway carriage designer but I imagine that it would add to the comfort of the train. I would like to see the carriages properly cooled in the summer and properly heated in the winter.

Would the Minister consider that, if it adds unduly to the cost, it is warranted?

We have to be advised by the professionals, the people who build the carriages at Inchicore. There is a great craft tradition and a great pool of expertise in Inchicore and I would leave the design and building of the carriages to them. They will build what is best. I have no doubt that the people in the west who have good carriages only on Sundays would welcome good carriages every day of the week.

Will the Minister give a commitment to make them available in the west at the earliest opportunity?

I am surprised that Deputy Flynn did not give that commitment last month.

I am glad that the skills in Inchicore will be used on work on the new carriages, which will be of a high standard so as to provide an incentive for people coming to Dublin to consider the train option. That would help to keep cars out of the centre of Dublin. The second incentive for such people is to know that when they reach Dublin a reliable fast transport system will be available. That too is tied up with removing cars from the city and leaving roads as free as possible for buses.

The frustrations of Dublin bus crews are immense because of the heavy traffic and its interference with their schedules. People who have been left waiting often vent their frustrations on the unfortunate bus crews. One can sympathise with the crews' feeling battered and bruised and if their morale is low following these experiences.

Both Deputy McMahon and Deputy Higgins raised the question of extending bus services on a regular basis to the more extended areas of the city. I am aware that there is a considerable amount of dissatisfaction with bus services to new estates and I am aware of the hardship caused to the residents. It appears to be very bad planning not to arrange for something as basic as transport services for these estates when they are first planned. It gets back to the availability of capital for CIE. One of the objectives of this Bill is to cure that lack so that CIE can provide extra buses.

Deputy Flynn deplored what he called CIE bashing and I share his apprehensions. Constructive criticism is necessary but a constant barrage of unperceptive bashing is not good for the morale of management or workers and it compounds the situation in that company. In CIE there is a good esprit de corps. It may be latent but it is there. I know many people who are second and third generation CIE employees and that spirit is there, although latent at the moment because morale is bad. It could be ignited very quickly if they saw that the Government were concerned about their affairs and were concerned to defend them from unfair criticism which does not take into account the difficulties which our failure to provide the re-organisation and the capital has led them into. If they felt that concern, we would get willing and quick co-operation from all the employees in CIE. This goes back to the fact that some fundamental thinking on transport and transport policy is necessary.

Deputy Flynn was disappointed that the input of Irish industry into the new goods being manufactured on foot of this further investment would not be 100 per cent. Both I and my predecessor can confirm that the maximum Irish input has been sought for any manufacturing process or any reconstruction or assembly process that will be engaged in following this investment. We will continue to monitor that scene and if the present level of Irish input can be improved it will be improved urgently. As Deputy Flynn suggested, the good offices of the IDA will be utilised if appropriate. We will arrange for close liaison between CIE and the IDA to ensure this.

Deputy Callanan was anxious for better quality carriages and I share his view for the reasons stated earlier. The Deputy also spoke of the need for consultation between staff and management and wanted better relations. The Deputy expressed puzzlement as to why so many industrial disputes seem to affect that company. This is something I intend to look at to see what can be done urgently in the short-term. I am sure that concerned people have had the same ambition but it is something that must be constantly followed up. It is my role to keep in close contact with the company to see that there is a constant review of relationships there to ensure that circumstances that give rise to disputes are noticed early and that appropriate action is taken.

Deputy Flanagan made an interesting contribution as a Deputy who participated in the debate when CIE were set up in 1943-44. It was interesting for him to recall that at that stage the essence of the debate was the question of whether a monopoly should be created and given to this State company. The Deputy voted against it then and felt that the historical outcome has vindicated his view that a monopoly was not appropriate. Who at this stage could say that he was wrong? Does this add to the suggestion in the McKinsey Report that a break-up of that monopoly might now be the answer? We cannot give that answer until we give fundamental consideration to the whole question of transport policy.

Deputy Ahern mentioned also that there should be a continuing emphasis on the railways as the area for development in transport more so than roadways. He was worried about the environmental effects of large scale roadworks in builtup areas and of the social effects, the damage they can do to a whole community and to individuals. There is no doubt about it that large scale roadworks inevitably have that effect. In this age, in which everything is en masse, we are inclined to lose sight of the individual; he is inclined to be disregarded. The individual worker becomes part of the union, the individual householder becomes part of the country and, if a roadway has to affect him, so be it. But we must continue to pay attention to the needs of individuals. I share Deputy Ahern's concern that roadways, while they can be justified on economic grounds and possibly on purely cost grounds, can have social consequences that cannot be quantified. If they can be avoided by greater emphasis on railways, I would share that general philosophy.

Deputy Deasy referred to the McKinsey Report and the need for debate on it. He spoke also of the present management structures in CIE, more with reference to the board of CIE and the fact that it has a part-time chairman. He was critical of the fact that the chairman is part-time. Of course, the chairman of CIE is much more involved than most chairmen of State boards in so far as he gives more of his time to the affairs of CIE than normally do the chairmen of State-sponsored boards. Deputy Deasy, and I think other Deputies also, made the point about the need to strengthen the boards of State-sponsored companies. He made the point also, as did Deputy Flanagan, of the lack of parliamentary control over the affairs of State-sponsored companies, having regard to the immense amount of public moneys they are involved in spending.

Deputy Deasy made reference to the Joint Oireachtas Committee, which is of course the first step by Parliament in exercising a review relationship with the State-sponsored section. The Oireachtas, during the course of the last Parliament, appointed a Joint Committee of both Houses, when one of the bodies reviewed was CIE. However, Deputy Deasy made the point that it is now something over two years since CIE was reviewed by that committee and that it would be necessary to have the companies reviewed on an annual basis by the Oireachtas Committee. Quite obviously that committee, as presently constituted, could not possibly deal with all the State-sponsored companies on an annual basis. It would have to be expanded considerably and might have to work through sub-committees. Again, that is something that might be considered. Nevertheless, as a member of that committee, I think it was a worthwhile one and provided the necessary link between the Oireachtas and the State-sponsored section. But what I should like to see done in the course of this Oireachtas is that there be a procedure devised whereby reports of that Committee would be brought before the Houses of the Oireachtas and debated, because much of their work is wasted and their watchdog role on behalf of the Oireachtas is pointless unless the Oireachtas pays attention here in a formal way to their reports.

Deputy Higgins indicated in what were graphic terms—because he spoke in the language of the discipline and as a sociologist—the need for fundamental planning in regard to transport policy generally. I accept his point of view.

Deputy Kemmy, like other Deputies, was concerned about the management problems of CIE and of the need to consult workers. He indicated the gulf that would appear to exist by the fact that protective notices which have been served consequent on this strike were served on certain sectors only, and that clerical workers and those at higher management levels had not been served with notices. Of course the situation in a strike such as we have now means that from day one there is no work for bus crews but there may continue to be work for other levels. However, as the days and weeks go on obviously the situation will develop in which protective notices must be served on them as well. I take the Deputy's point that it does seem to be discrimination, having regard to the colour of the collar, and that this can cause a certain amount of unrest. I do not know what is the answer at this stage but I take the Deputy's point that it is something to be looked into.

I must say Deputy Kemmy struck a very sympathetic note with me when he mentioned our canals. We have a lot to answer for by allowing the Royal Canal to fall into its present state of disuse. Indeed I regret to say that most of the damage was done in my native county, Longford, where many of the bridges were removed, flattened, a culvert put in and the canal finished for navigation. It was short-sighted at the time. It is something with which I must familiarise myself. I think there is a sort of tug-o'-war as between a number of bodies as to who should have responsibility for either the praise or blame for what happened to the canals then. This is something that will have to be clarified. Certainly I share his view that our canals constitute an environmental asset and as feats of engineering are quite outstanding. They deserve to be preserved so that they will be available for generations to come to provide whatever amenities they can to enhance the quality of life here. Of course they have great tourist potential. I know that some work is in progress on the Royal Canal at present and I would be concerned to see that that would be expanded.

I was interested to hear also Deputy Kemmy's comment with regard to the records. This could be very interesting social history. I will certainly look into that and will direct the attention of the State Archivist to these records. I have no doubt that with his expertise they could be rescued and collated in whatever way is deemed proper.

Deputy Taylor spoke of Dublin traffic—I have dealt with that—and of the need for radical changes. I want to assure the House that it will be my intention to continue the work started by my predecessor with regard to the Transportation Task Force to ensure that they are encouraged to devise initiatives and innovations that will improve Dublin traffic, even radical ones that people might not care for at first sight, and press on also with the Dublin Transportation Authority so that if radical innovations have to be introduced there will be a body there to give them statutory effect.

Deputy Taylor was concerned also with the Tallaght situation. I think I mentioned that one of the proposals before me is for a commuter line to Tallaght. It seems an appropriate area in which to introduce such a facility. Having regard to the size and continuing growth of that whole area of the city, that has to be done.

Deputy Sherlock raised the question of CIE and road haulage. Of course that opens an immense question and goes back to the fundamentals of transport policy. CIE were in road haulage in certain ways and are still in road haulage in a differing way. It may be that their involvement is the proper one for CIE and that for the private sector the haulage that the Deputy sees at Mallow and the other beet factories may be the appropriate way with which to deal with that product.

Deputy Treacy spoke on the situation as it affects him in South Tipperary. He said that the bus service in South Tipperary is not good and that buses do not seem to recognise pick-up points. He was possibly talking about Expressway buses which have not pick-up points because they are express buses going on long distance journeys without intermediate stops. I will look into that for the Deputy and see if the position can be improved. He said that holders of travel vouchers from the Department of Social Welfare were not being transported by certain private operators. I regret to hear that but I promise the Deputy I will look into that position and see what is happening and the improvements that can be made.

Deputy Briscoe suggested that I visit Inchicore. I look forward with pleasure to visiting the Inchicore Works because, as I said already, I am aware that there is a great residue of skill there and I am very anxious to see the Inchicore works and meet the craftsmen employed there. I have covered most of the points raised in the debate. I want again to thank Deputies for contributing to the debate. Their contributions will be taken seriously and will be considered in regard to some very fundamental thinking about our whole transport policy.

Deputy Loftus raised the question of the implementation of various traffic management techniques. I assure him that all of those techniques will be considered by the task force and implemented. Some of them, such as bus lanes, have been implemented and any others which are suitable will be implemented as well. He asked about the possibility of allowing taxis to use the bus lanes. At the moment we do not have standard type taxis and it would not be possible to permit that because it would not be possible to enforce it against other cars. The Deputy also made a considerable point about the value of CIE property and if its use was maximised a lot of the capital problems in CIE would be solved. CIE are conscious of the need to maximise their property but they are conservative in parting with property because they have been criticised for parting with property a couple of decades ago and there is a need for that now. They will have to be conservative. The amount of property which could be freed for that purpose would not be significant having regard to the total capital requirements of CIE.

The next step which faces us is the consideration of the McKinsey Report. I look forward to that debate with a mixture of apprehension and anticipation because it will certainly throw up problems with whatever solutions it may also throw up. There are immense social and economic considerations in this but I believe the time has now come when they will have to be grasped and radical changes will be called for. It is heartening to know that there is an interest in the House on a non-party political basis and I have no doubt that, with the goodwill of all sides in the House and all sections in the community, a solution will be found.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Bill put through Committee, reported without amendment and passed.