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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 13 Mar 1986

Vol. 364 No. 9

Road Transport Bill, 1985 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed).

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

I was about to conclude my contribution before Question Time. We were talking about the elimination of the restrictions on the carriage of merchandise by the haulage industry up to now, and abolishing weight restrictions on vehicles. An indication of the size of the industry is that there was an increase in the number of licences authorised for the carriage of general merchandise from 100 to 841. This liberalisation increased sixfold the vehicle capacity on existing carrier merchandise licences subject to a maximum of 80 vehicles for any one business. The Minister said that prior to that more than 500 licences authorised the use of one vehicle only while about 150 licences authorised the use of two vehicles.

The Minister said there are grounds for controlled liberalisation of the laws to suit our mixed economy but I must alert him to the dangers in doing this. He said there is an opportunity to expand businesses in the haulage section and to prepare themselves before the industry is open to new entrants. He said the first phase outlined by the commission was a restructuring of the existing licensing arrangements in a way which would permit existing hauliers to compete on equal terms and that this restriction should take place during a two year transition period. He said that, at the end of the transition period, general haulage licences would be made freely available to all applicants, including own-account operators, who satisfy the EC requirements for access to the profession of road haulage operator.

The Minister also mentioned the supposed growth in employment as a result of the gradual easing of restrictions. However, I question that there has been a growth in employment because many people go out of this business nearly as quickly as they come into it. It is all based on the operation of quality controls which, the Minister said, will serve to raise the standards of safety and efficiency throughout the industry. I should like to sound a note of caution in that regard because I doubt that these standards will be applied. They have not been applied heretofore and we have an abysmal, appalling record of carnage on the roads as a result of non-application of standards and the Road Traffic Act.

We are taking an onerous responsibility on ourselves when we decide to have a free for all for hauliers as a result of the Bill. We will be relying on inspectors and the Garda to enforce regulations when we know all too well that these regulations were totally ignored in the past. We know that people drive too fast, that they overload their vehicles and do not keep their vehicles in good condition. Tachographs are supposed to indicate the amount of time which a vehicle has been moving or stationary and the speed at which it has been travelling. However, regulations have not been applied in the past and are not likely to be applied in the future. There should be a stay on the Bill until stringent safety measures are introduced. I hope these points will be brought to the attention of the Minister.

We are putting a moving industry on to the road. It is terrifying to see a huge vehicle loaded with 20 or 30 tonnes of merchandise travelling at 60 mph on appalling roads. I also mentioned unfair competition from semi-State bodies against the thousands of people involved in this industry. The State are subsidising B & I to the tune of £12 million and, although they cannot compete with the professionals, they can carry goods to the UK at a loss because the Government are subsiding them. However, the taxpayer should not be asked to subsidise inefficiency in order to keep a semi-State body operating.

Liberalisation could destroy the livelihood of many existing hauliers and I do not know if they are fully protected in the Bill. The licensing restrictions imposed by the Road Transport Act, 1933, were designed to protect railways and do not meet the needs of today. We are not yet ready to adopt the principle of quantitative control and we should bear that in mind. I hope to make suggestions to the Minister between now and Committee Stage and I hope he will bear them in mind because there is more to this Bill than meets the eye. It is legislation which will have a great effect on business and people generally.

We have an obligation and a moral responsibility to ensure that we do not unleash a free for all on the roads as we know that controls were ignored in the past. This has led to some of the worst driving conditions in Europe. We also have the worst drivers, decrepit vehicles and appalling breaches of the Road Traffic Act with up to 60 per cent of people driving without insurance. The fact that we intend to put in a few inspectors to liaise with the Garda does not mean that we will exert any more control on the industry. We do not operate like that in this country and the record is there for all to see. That is why I urge the Minister to be cautious.

The last part of the Minister's speech differs from the earlier part, perhaps as a result of the debate in the Seanad. However, there are important points and I hope they came about as a result of that debate. I welcome the measure in that it is attempting to introduce order on the road transport industry and I am sorry that there have not been that many contributions.

I welcome the Bill. I listened to Deputy Skelly and he placed a lot of emphasis on drunken driving. If more people were jailed for drunken driving, there would be less crime.

The broad objective of this Bill is to liberalise road transport and to remove restrictions on those offering transport services. The Bill is necessary because road transport now involves about 97 per cent of the total tonnage moved in Ireland. When the late Mr. Seán Lemass was in charge of industry he introduced legislation to protect the railway system. This put less emphasis on road transport. That legislation involved strict limits on the carrying of goods. In the late fifties and sixties there was a massive increase in industrialisation and the rail system was found not to be modern enough to cater for the new growth. We had embarked on a whole new era of containerisation, refrigeration and so on, and that involved a problem for the rail system. Consequently, the legislation was changed to allow manufacturers carry their own goods. In the mid-sixties this involved more than 80 per cent of road transport and economically that was wasteful.

In 1978 the Government permitted licence holders to increase their quotas and in 1981 the Transport Consultative Commission recommended that anyone who could satisfy the quality standards should be allowed carry goods. That was a welcome change. The recommendations of that commission are incorporated in this Bill in terms of liberalising the law. While the proposed measures are necessary I have some reservations as to the benefits of the new legislation, if there is not adequate provision to have the regulations enforced strictly. This begs the question as to whether we have a sufficient number of trained gardaí or other personnel to enforce the regulations. However, the Bill is welcome because up to now too much transportation of goods has been undertaken by manufacturers on their own-account. It should be possible for them to hire good transport operators and this situation can only come about if the Government allow that development to take place. There are too many own-account hauliers on the road. Any change which will restrict transport to those who can satisfy quality and skill standards can be only an improvement.

The future of our economy depends on increased exports and in that regard we need a good, effective and efficient road transport system. In the thirties and forties we catered mainly for the same market but now there must be an expansion of exports if we are to create jobs.

Road structure is one of our greatest problems. At today's cost the amount involved in acquiring a tractor unit and all the various equipment that would go with that for haulage purposes is in the region of £200,000. It is well known that a truck or a tractor unit in other countries such as the UK would be still roadworthy with a mileage of 200,000 whereas the comparative mileage here is about 80,000 miles. This is because of our road structure and network but it is an aspect that is imposing an intolerable burden on industrial transport generally. Consequently, it is an area that must be tackled before we can have an efficient and modern transport service.

In terms of cost effectiveness, transport absorbs 12 per cent of manufacturing costs, a higher percentage than is the case in other European countries. This cost could be reduced by introducing a reliable and appropriate transport service. In the past legislation permitted companies to lease trucks because this was not considered tantamount to becoming involved in haulage for reward. The result was that companies were forced to spend more than was necessary. The new Bill provides for the leasing and hiring of vehicles. This is a helpful measure.

Section 9 is very relevant and important. We all appreciate the volume of working capital that is required. It is not easy for the ordinary man in the street today to provide the type of capital funding that would be necessary to purchase haulage equipment whereas a leasing or hire purchase arrangement can be very helpful in the starting up of a haulage business. In addition, it has other attractions such as tax reliefs and so on. It may provide that extra leeway to invest in better equipment and to keep this equipment serviced properly. In the past, considerable time, money and effort were wasted when operators were forced by law into completing a round trip with the vehicles unloaded for one half of the journey. Permitting a licensed holder to carry for reward in addition to his own account is a measure designed to encourage a more cohesive transport system and to reduce the cost to the consumer. Under utilised own-account transport has been a serious threat to our transport system, the milk sector and the public service sector. In my area, which is a strong agricultural area, there is very heavy transport. We have the co-operatives and the creamery business and from now until September milk supply will be at a peak. Then we will go into the grain season. That is the time too, when there will be heavy haulage of beet.

This Bill will help people involved in these areas to avail of hired transport instead of depending solely on their own transport. This should result also in reducing the costs by reason of the maximum utilisation of trucks. I should like the Minister to clarify the position in respect of livestock haulage. A substantial amount of our cattle livestock is carried by modern transport and much of this haulage is carried out by self-owned haulage vehicles. Is there anything in the Bill that will interfere with that practice?

I have some reservations about the Bill. One of the concerns of the carriers is that they will be faced with unrealistic competition from hauliers who will be allowed operate free in any area, hauliers from Northern Ireland, for example, who would tend to have better access to cheaper fuel. Our fuel costs are prohibitive. From this side of the House we have been appealing for a number of years for a more realistic taxation on fuel which is a major component cost of haulage. If we are to be able to compete with our Northern brethren our costs in terms of fuel most be realistic. In addition, our insurance costs are outrageous in terms of people, hauliers or others, owing mechanically propelled vehicles. This element too, makes our competitive ability with the Northern people very poor. Again, in the area of income tax and corporation tax we are being very much out-priced. A much more favourable climate is required in this regard. This whole area must be tackled and we must take some corrective action to make our people as competitive as those from across the Border. There has been little control over the Northern hauliers who come down here and drive at reckless speeds. I have experience of travelling along our roads and seeing Northern hauliers passing one another at reckless speeds. I hope this Bill will help to prevent that.

When our haulage people travel to the Continent it is known that their trucks are often impounded at the point of entry, although we would class them as being in immaculate condition, due perhaps to a cut in a tyre or some small blemish. It is possible to travel along our roads without such actions being taken. The same strict regulations should apply to people who haul into this island as our people have suffered while hauling on the Continent. Due to a very small problem with a truck an Irish driver was practically landed in jail because he was unable to pay a fine. That proves the seriousness with which people abroad take the haulage business.

More people will probably opt out of transporting their own goods and this will create a greater market for licensed hauliers. I referred earlier to the seasonality of the agricultural business and the hauling of various types of produce. Cooperatives and other organisations will be less dependent on their own transport and this will create more competition among licensed hauliers.

Undoubtedly one of the most serious aspects is enforcement of the law. There has been considerable illegal haulage in the black economy. These hauliers have no licence, employ people who are technically unemployed, use red diesel and operate badly maintained trucks which they overload. They also have trucks with poor lighting and often use inexperienced drivers who drive at excessive speeds. All these things have been mentioned by Deputy Skelly. Overloading is very serious because of the damage caused to our road structure and bridges, which has to be paid for by the local authorities. It is very important that overloading should be stamped out. Many of our county roads are not able to take heavy articulated vehicles. Poor lighting is another hazard, as is speeding, and the laws will have to be strictly enforced. There should be some kind of control to prevent trucks from travelling above a certain speed. I understand there is an instrument available which can be fitted to mechanically propelled vehicles to prevent them exceeding the legal limit. I urge the Minister to consider making the fitting of this instrument obligatory.

The black economy is flourishing in our society. We all know of late night deliveries by people involved in that economy and I hope this Bill will do something to stamp out this blatant practice. If these illegal practices are allowed to continue there is no incentive to the man who has a licence and does his job properly.

All our roads, with the exception of those which have been rebuilt in recent years, are in a very bad condition. Our most important route, the Cork-Dublin road, is hazardous in many areas. Generally standards have tended to be poor.

If this Bill is to liberalise transport, there must also be a system of control and enforcement to guarantee fair and equitable access to the market. I welcome the proposed setting up of an inspectorate and I hope it will have suitable teeth to enforce the regulations and ensure that vehicles and drivers meet the necessary standards. Specialist gardaí will have to get training for their task. I have had some experience of truck driving and it can be difficult and frightening at the beginning. The inspectors will possibly carry out spot inspections but generally they will not be driving the trucks. A course should be held on an annual basis to keep them up to date with technological changes in the manufacture of trucks, modern gear boxes etc.

It is essential that the Bill should be complemented by policing throughout the country in order to protect the licensed hauliers and the general public. Hauliers of good repute must have access to the transport industry. They should be of good financial standing and possibly there should be a bonding system. They should also hold a certificate of competency and perhaps there should be a period of apprenticeship. Many haulage companies are family owned and there may be some kind of unofficial apprenticeship when a son begins to take part in the business. However, the theory as well as the practice is very important and some kind of course should be held. As in the case of other trades, there should be a period of training. Perhaps a single authority or council might be set up where members could meet together to discuss all aspects of the trade and maintain control of standards and services.

Finally, I welcome the Bill because it regularises licensed haulage and helps business by encouraging the growth of haulage. If we can get people out of their own transport businesses and into haulage it will help that whole area. It would cut costs in industry. It would provide more cost effective transport. Section 9 allows for the leasing of vehicles which is very relevant when there is a shortage of capital. With leasing and attractive hire purchase terms better equipment can be purchased. This Bill is essential in order to tighten the regulations which already exist and to enforce quantitative regulations to meet the needs of hauliers in the manufacturing industry and in Irish industry generally.

I welcome the Bill. It has negative and positive aspects. It brings legislation in relation to road haulage up to date. This is extremely necessary having regard to the fact that the 1933 Act governed quite an amount of road haulage. Over the last couple of years tremendous change has taken place in transport from what was, a few years ago, an industry that was confined to flat and small trucks. It gradually generated into what is now a massive industry, highly mechanised, highly organised and at the same time highly destructive to the road network. There is not a town or village in the country that has not paid the price for the heavy loads which are carried to and fro every day. People, including legislators, possibly have not realised as quickly as they should the fact that the whole system changed from 1978 onwards, with the EC legislation of 1977, the 1978 Act and the subsequent changes in the whole volume of road transport. The weight of road transport has developed on a scale which nobody could have foreseen a few years ago.

The Bill will now remove the restrictive practices which applied and will also remove the operation of the closed shop over a period of time. We all know the type of restriction that is operated. There are two aspects to that. First of all, the people involved in the road haulage industry who provided the country with essential road haulage services over the past ten to 15 years in a competitive fashion had, hanging around their necks, this practice whereby licences had to be bought and paid for at exorbitant sums. There were many cases of brokerages and a number of licences were being corralled by groups who in turn were able to hand them out to the highest bidder. Thus a highly restrictive and highly counter-productive practice continued. The end result was that it increased the cost of transport and haulage to firms who needed the use of these services.

I appreciate that the Bill provides for a gradual introduction of the changes which are necessary. I know that quite a number of the existing hauliers are concerned about how they will face up to the new and open competition which will apply from now on. There should be no restrictive practices. Given that they have the required degree of confidence and have compiled with the usual regulations, everybody should have the right to set up a transport business and provide the economy with an efficient transport service. I expect and I hope that the people who have provided the service over the years, albeit with restrictions, will not find themselves too unfairly treated when the new legislation comes into operation. On the other hand, it will also bring into the area people with new ideas and new standards of efficiency and competence who will be able to offer competition. There is an old saying that competition is the life of trade. There is no exception in this area. Obviously the cost and efficiency of road transport must have a bearing in the entire economy. It is imperative that, given the amount of materials being transported by road, we should have an efficient road transport service.

The only worry I have in relation to this legislation is that there might be a certain degree of encouragement for people who may lack the experience and all that is involved in running a very mobile — no pun intended — type of business. It is subject to fluctuations on a very large scale which are brought about by increases in inputs such as diesel, electrical applicances in relation to trucks and general operating costs. I hope those entering the trade at this stage will be mindful of the major role which the road transport industry has to play in the economy. That cannot be over-emphasised.

The Minister referred to own-account operators and Deputy Wilson dealt at length with that matter. I welcome the liberalisation in that area in the sense that it will make for a more efficient use of a transport fleet and ensure that less time will be spent driving empty trucks to and fro across the country. As a result it should have the effect of reducing the transport costs of the firm concerned.

There is another side to that argument. Own-account operators, while reducing their own transport costs, could create a sharper degree of competition for those in the purest part of the transport business, the haulier who operates haulage transport for hire. There is a danger there which I hope will not materialise. I would be worried lest the situation should arise whereby the own-account operator might be able to put jobs at risk among the hired fleets and those making a living in the business. I know that there are some fears within the industry along those lines.

The proposed legislation before the House will also result in a further increase in the volume of heavy vehicular traffic on our roads. One of the main things we have failed to recognise over the last ten years is the determental effect of heavy traffic on the roads. One need only study a heavily laden articulated vehicle negotiating a sharp bend to see the entire road surface moving under the weight. Obviously repeated operations of that nature are having a serious effect on road surfaces. The increased volume of traffic engendered as a result of liberalisation will not help in that area. The Minister might consult with his colleague in the Department of the Environment to make some allowances when the road grants are being made available to the local authorities. Roads are a very emotive issue and have been an emotive issue for a number of years in most local authorities. Roads were an emotive issue even when the Members on the opposite side of the House were awarding the grants.

They became an issue in the last couple of years.

Despite what Deputy Browne says, this has been an issue in the last ten years, in particular since 1978, as a result of decisions taken which meant that less money was available for roads.

I would refer to the enforcing of the legislation with reference to restrictions regarding safety, speed, loading and so on. Most hauliers are quite happy to accept regulations provided they are universally applied. It can make a big difference to a haulier tendering for a contract if he finds that in the area in which he proposes to operate there is lax implementation of the regulations under the Road Traffic Acts or under this legislation. Concern has been expressed about this. It has been brought to my attention that in tendering for a contract it can make as big a difference as 10 per cent in the computations if the persons doing the computations believes that there will not be restrictions. The obvious way to get around that is to ensure that there is adequate policing of all the regulations, and that they are universally applied so that everybody has a fair slice of the action, the consumer is protected and the roads are being protected.

Other speakers mentioned trucks careering along our national primary and secondary roads at high speeds and driven by drivers whose tachographs would indicate somewhat considerably longer driving hours than is permissible. That is another matter that has a major bearing in tendering for a contract. If the person placing the tender could do so on the basis that there would be a universal application of the regulations in relation to the tachograph, he would know where he stood. There is always that small margin of doubt where people will, perhaps, ignore the regulations and get away with it for a long time, as a result putting in jeopardy the business of those who operate within the regulations.

A number of speakers mentioned the operation of the haulage industry by hauliers from outside the State. This legislation should assist our industry in competing with these hauliers. Foreign hauliers from the North and the UK seem to have a less than average concern for the regulations in this country. They are notorious for exceeding the speed limits and they have fairly scant regard for other road users both with regard to speed and regard to loading regulations. I know that loading regulations do not come within the ambit of this legislation to an extent which would allow me to deal with them at great length but the legislation will have to be dealt with in the context of other legislation in relation to the universal use of weighbridges to check loading at regular intervals. This should be fairly extensively provided for now and in such a way as to ensure that everybody will operate under the same restrictions. Many people have been in touch with me over the last number of weeks because of the prospect of the operation of weighbridges on a number of national primary routes. Quite a number of hauliers fear that those who operate within a five mile radius of weighbridges will be unnecessarily restricted and will have the regulations enforced against them whereas others lucky enough not to be geographically close to the weighbridges will escape. We should try to phase in regulations universally so that they would apply to the entire industry and so that everybody could operate from the same base.

We have often heard complaints with regard to Northern Ireland, UK or continental hauliers that they come into this country with a load and along with the load they also have full tanks of diesel and they often operate to the disadvantage of Irish hauliers, particularly with backloading. I know that the Revenue Commissioners have a certain criterion for dealing with this but in practice it has not always been possible to enforce that criterion as rigorously as it should be enforced in order to give the home operator an equal chance of competing.

Generally, the liberalisation of the laws is to be welcomed. I hope it does not militate against those who, perhaps, in recent years have paid vast sums for merchandise licences who will now find themselves having to compete in a different arena altogether. I hope liberalisation will bring with it enforcement of all road haulage legislation so as to protect the industry and the interests of the people by making sure that too great a damage is not done to our roads,

The explanatory memorandum states that the Bill gives effect to the main recommendations of the TCC on haulage. The Bill is intended to liberalise the entire industry to bring it into line with EC requirements. The people involved must be of good repute and of sound financial standing and professional competence. This type of Bill is to be welcomed, provided it will protect professional hauliers already in business.

At present we have three different types of hauliers: there are the legal professionals who are making every effort to obey regulations; we have the "cowboy" hauliers who have no regard whatever for the law, who ignore every regulation — they use red diesel and even if they are caught and fined they find at the end of the year that it is cheaper to use the red diesel regularly; they operate broken down trucks only fit for the scrap heap and they make no effort to pay VAT, income tax, or PRSI — and we have the foreign hauliers who seem to have a free run here, particularly Northern Ireland hauliers who seem to be ignored by the law and can do whatever they like.

The Minister must tackle this. Last year I made representations to the Minister about Bulgarian hauliers who came in here for loads and bring loads in on the cheap. This, of course, affects professional hauliers here. The market is so slack these days that it is barely able to cater for the type of haulier I would like to see operating.

In my constituency the industry is based mainly on family type operations. Major programmes to foster small industries have been initiated, but haulage is one of the main contributors to the State, both from the point of view of jobs and financially, because hauliers are paying high prices for their imported trucks and parts and high tax on their diesel. Yet very little State and has been given to them. Despite the massive amounts of money being collected from them by the State, if one looks at the deplorable condition of our roads one will admit that hauliers are getting very little in return. If we are to compete in the EC against major economies with top class roads we cannot continue to have our roads in the deplorable condition they are in now. It makes it difficult for hauliers to make a profit or to maintain decent trucks and to operate within the law.

Transport legislation here has been in limbo for many years and this Bill is to be welcomed to a certain extent. Much of the havoc caused to the transport industry can be traced to the general inefficiency and mismanagement of CIE who throughout the years had a monopoly in this industry. For too long CIE had a firm grip on all kinds of road transport with the added advantage of being subsidised by the taxpayers. Private owners accordingly never had a real opportunity to compete fairly. Different Ministers of different Governments safeguarded the CIE monopoly and therefore the private haulage industry was neglected and was not developed to its full potential. In Northern Ireland the haulage industry which people tell us is 20 per cent cheaper to operate, has begun to use the Six Counties as a base for increased work here. According to many observers much of the heavy freight leaving the Republic is carried by Northern Ireland or English companies. The Minister should comment on this. Many people in the industry say this is the case.

The legislation opens up the whole transport industry. Some changes were necessary and other proposed changes may be questionable. Bringing other hauliers into an already over-crowded market is hardly imaginative on the part of the Minister. This is the second largest industry in the country — many would contend that if all the facts were known it is the largest. However, over the years Governments have been slow to recognise this and to recognise the high employment and the general effect it has on the economy.

Most of the legislation on road transport dates back to the 1933 Act which was biased towards protection for CIE. There have been many amendments since, the most notable being the 1971 Act which allowed a twofold increase in the number of vehicles operating in the business. In 1978 this was increased by sixfold. That was a simplistic approach considered at that time to be adequate. It is not adequate nowadays.

If one looks at the history of licensing of the carriage of freight for reward by the 1933 Act, one can see that in the years since developments have not been of the type one would wish for. The incidence of illegal haulage is considerable. Road transport has been abused over the years, with very little protection from the State. The legislation is based on the TCC recommendations and one wonders now whether that report is not out of date. The Minister may have to look at this again. When the commission were established haulage people were concerned that there had not been a representative of the industry on the commission. I suggest that may have been a mistake. it was not a recognition of the amount of work and effort made by haulage licenses to protect and develop the industry in the best interest of the State.

I do not think the haulage industry is against change. Members of their association would welcome any changes that would be to their benefit It is only natural to expect that they would be protected because they have made strenuous efforts to build up the industry. They have tried to fight all the illegal efforts to undermine them. The State should be looking at the provision of aid for the industry. Deputy Yates spoke earlier of the small industries programme. The committee of which he is chairman have made welcome suggestions and I hope the Minister will take some of their suggestion into consideration so that the lot of the haulage industry may be improved. Road haulage is a tough business and has become even tougher in recent years with unfair competition from a variety of sources inside and outside the State. Many in that industry find themselves with very little profit and with many expenses with the costs of trucks, parts and diesel oil. When price increases come about one wonders why the Minister would not make an effort to allow such increases in the transport industry. The hauliers are finding it very difficult to survive and to make a living. Most are family run businesses.

The Revenue Commissioners should also examine one aspect of the road haulage business. The owners of the business who have sons and daughters working in it may not be too familiar with all the revenue details and may find it impossible to make the claims to which they are entitled as they are not on the PAYE system and no tax allowance is given. A number of such cases came up recently. The taxation system, the type of roads we have and the enforcement of the law which those in the business suggest should all be examined. A Bill should not deal only with certain aspects, but with all of them.

Foreign based companies are a bone of contention with our hauliers because the cost of insurance for foreign based companies is particularly low and also the cost of vehicle parts and the labour content. This places our road hauliers at a very severe disadvantage. The own-account business should also be looked into. The feeling is that those co-operatives and the larger industries which will be able to do business during the slack periods will pick up the monopoly of the business and try to use their influence to gain control of the market. This must be looked into.

I welcome the Bill. I hope the Minister is prepared to listen to suggestions from this side of the House, particularly those from Deputy Wilson, and that some of the worries and reservations of those in the transport area will be given priority.

The Minister to conclude.

First, I want to thank Deputy Wilson and all the other Deputies who participated in the debate on this important Road Transport Bill. It is important because it should have a very beneficial effect on Irish industry. It should reduce costs and make the road haulage industry more efficient. It should reduce the number of lorry empty miles by enabling a great deal of front and back loading. It should also create better conditions, not only for industries which need efficient road transport to carry their goods but, in particular, for the road haulage profession.

In the few minutes left to me I want to say a few words about that profession. I know that they have been worried about this legislation. In fact, they are the only people so worried. Otherwise the legislation has been given a very wide welcome. I know that the profession have had apprehensions about the impact which this legislation might have on them, their business and livelihood. I have told them something that I believe very fervently indeed, which is that this legislation will improve their lot as every other step towards liberalisation in the past has done. This is the final step towards further liberalisation which will create additional opportunities for the road haulage profession. The end result, borne out by what has happened in the past, will be that that profession will increase significantly their share of lorry miles and, conversely, the own-account percentage will decline. Industry in general will find it more and more economical and efficient to use the professional haulier. It is true that the Irish Road Haulage Association have other concerns which are very well founded indeed, in particular their concern about the area of enforcement. That is a worry that I have shared. I held back on this Bill until I was able to achieve an arrangement in relation to enforcement with which I was happy.

It is necessary to describe the situation as it exists today. First, we have so many Government Departments and statutory agencies involved. We have the Department of Labour whose responsibility it is to monitor and control the carriage of dangerous substances. Secondly, we have the Department of Industry who are concerned with insurance and the like and also with the cost competitiveness of the industry. Thirdly, we have the Department of Justice and the Garda Síochána who are the primary upholders and enforcers of every law enacted by this Parliament. Fourthly, we have the Department of the Environment who are responsible for the Road Traffic Acts. Fifthy, we have the Revenue Commissioners who are responsible for revenue offences.

That is not the full list. There are different inspectors doing different jobs and it has happened that enforcement has fallen between all these stools. It has fallen down, not just on the road freight side but also on the road passenger side. The enforcement provision which I shall be introducing on Committee Stage will apply equally to those two areas. This should lead to a greatly improved situation in relation to enforcement.

There are too many cowboys operating. They have got away with it for far too long. They are breaking many laws and operating unsafely, in some cases. This will be ended by the multi-purpose inspectorate which will be set up in my Department and will have a cross-departmental responsibility to enforce road transport law, road traffic laws, possibly some revenue laws in connection, for instance, with red and white diesel, in relation to insurance certificates, lorry markings and so forth. That should be a very welcome development as far as the industry is concerned. That is all I have to say now. Some interesting questions and points have been raised by Deputies during the course of the debate. As I have not time now, I intend to respond to them individually.

Would it not be possible for the Minister to take another period to reply to the extensive debate and the very wide ranging issues raised during the course of today? I am inviting the Minister to take another opportunity to finish the Second Stage of the Bill. This is much too short a reply to the debate we had today, which was very interesting. I understood that is what was going to happen.

Acting Chairman

I invited the Minister to conclude.

There was no arrangement about that, but if the Minister wishes he may adjourn the debate.

Acting Chairman

What does the Minister wish to do?

I am very anxious that progress be made with this Bill, but I have made my reply and I will answer individual points when they arise.

Acting Chairman

Is the motion agreed?

I object very strongly to this. I am not accusing the Minister of having taken advantage of the situation but Deputy Browne thought Deputy McGinley was coming in and we understood the Minister would have an opportunity to reply in full to the Second Stage debate. I do not want to be acrimonious, that is not my purpose, but this is an important Bill which got a good arising here today. I appeal very strongly to the Minister to allocate enough time to himself to make a full reply to the Second Stage debate.

I do not want to be disagreeable because Deputy Wilson's remarks are normally very constructive If he like, with the agreement of the Whips, we could provide another hour or half an hour next week for me to complete my reply.

I am more than grateful to the Minister.

Debate adjourned.