As I stated when speaking before the break for questions, my contribution was by design discursive as the CIE company covered a very wide range of activities in the transport area and even outside it in the State. Perhaps I could go quickly through the Minister's speech — it will not take long — and refer to some points from that speech.
I appreciate very much that the Minister paid a tribute to the planners who originally established CIE. When I want to get to the sources of planning for transport I go back to the Official Report and read what the then Minister, Deputy Seán Lemass, had to say in this regard. I appreciate very much what the Minister said by way of compliment to the planners who are planningin vacuo to a great extent in that a good many decisions were taken during the war and the best of guesses of what would happen after the war were not good enough in many economies, let alone ours.
The Minister touched on the history of CIE and mentioned a time when Dublin buses were paying the bills for the rest of the country. That is long past as indicated by the figures I read into the record of the House before Question Time. He mentioned Erskine Childers. Seán Lemass became Taoiseach and Erskine Childers became President, so the Minsiter, Deputy Mitchell, is allowed a smile when he thinks of his potential future. He criticises the management and marketing assumptions. I am not so sure that the criticism is valid on marketing. I agree with him that the marketing area is important and will be increasingly so. I have the greatest confidence that Mr. Conlon, chairman and chief executive now, will emphasise marketing in the sense of developmental marketing, not in the sense of restricting activities in any way in order to show a neater profit.
The Minister said that he has to get the subsidy right, and that is true. I indicated that I was fully in support of it in so far as any remarks made in this House should try to build up morale in CIE with a view to developing in areas where profits would be made, but I still adhere to my thesis that transparency of accounts is important all around for the House, for CIE themselves, and for the citizens.
The Minister went on to deal with how CIE developed and took over the Dublin United Tramways Company, and did not even taste badly in the mouths of citizens at the time. He referred to the major dieselisation programme. He made the point that CIE are now benefiting by much cheaper fuel. That should be showing in the accounts and in increased efficiency for the same expenditure of money. The long debate that took place about the electrification of the line between Howth and Bray when we were in Government between 1977 and 1981 will always remain with me because Deputy Pádraig Faulkner was then Minister and he was pregnant with this whole electrification programme. He debated the matter privately with members of Government and in Government for a long time and finally came to a decision which has been criticised by the Minister and presumably by the Taoiseach on occasion, but in my opinion by general acclaim it is very successful indeed. I know that people are calculating how much per passenger it is costing. That is inclusive of capital cost. When we are talking of what a passenger on a bus from Dublin to Kildare costs, we should be considering the road cost as well in that one if we are contemplating carrying out a similar exercise.
The Minister and I have referred to the capital programme and I appeal to him that he would do for Cavan what I did for Inchicore when I decided to spend £43 million on the carriages when I was Minister for that short period of ten months.
With regard to the link or interface between CIE and the Departments of Defence, Education and Social Welfare, I have already commented on the education and social welfare schemes. I regard both of them in their own spheres as highly enlightened schemes as is the one for the Department of Defence. Many writers on social welfare throughout both the US and Britain have been on occasion in praise of those enlightened schemes. I am glad to claim credit for them on this side of the House for the most part.
The Galway-Aran ferry service has a subsidy of £0.8 million. There is a problem there of the provision of a proper boat service and I would like the Minister to call the attention of the CIE board to that fact. He visited the island of Inis Mór at some stage, and I hope that the provision is being speeded up.
On looking through his script I see the word "transparency". I am with him on that. Our definitions of "transparancy" may not be the same but I will continue to pursue greater transparancy. Time and time again in the course of the debate this whole idea of competition between national rail and the provisional bus service will come up. It is exercising the minds of everybody connected with it. I am puzzled as to how it will work out. The Minister might well be advised to have another look at it to see his way to maintaining two companies rather than one. Twice during the course of his speech the Minister mentioned the old CIE commitment to the hotels and their being siphoned off to CERT. I would like some transparency there too, because CERT are in receipt of Social Fund moneys. The hotels are being run commercially, I presume. There is, as far as public funding is concerned, a grey area there and I am putting down a question to the Minister for Labour whose responsibility it is, to see how that funding is going.
The amendments from the Seanad were obviously designed to strengthen the parts of the Bill dealing with industrial relations, workers' rights and so on and as such they are welcome. I have a suspicion that they are a sop so far as the trade unions are concerned as they do not consider that the amendment which gave joint directors to the companies and the amendments about industrial relations and so on are adequate.
In relation to the auditing of CIE accounts, I am pleased that, for example, the 1985 accounts have been available now for some weeks. I will decide later as to whether I will put down an amendment about fixing the time for the publication of audited accounts. I am not saying this in reference to CIE, but some of the semi-State companies are very slow in producing accounts. I was waiting for some time for an account from B & I which is a full State company. It is a difficult thing with three companies, or two, if the Minister accepts our amendment, and a central parent board to put the accounts in order very quickly but there is enough expertise to produce the accounts without more than a three month delay. A three month delay would be an optimum if it could be managed. I would like the Minister's views when he is replying.
Iarnród Eireann, Bus Éireann and Bus Átha Cliath are the three suggested names. It is difficult to find names. CIE took off wonderfully. Nowadays nobody would know what one was talking about if one did not use the name Bord na Móna. The ESB was anglicised and stayed that way although I always pay my cheques to An Bord Soláthair Leictreachais. If we could get a good succinct Irish name for the companies it would be desirable. When the late Dr. Andrews was chairman he put on a big push for the Irish language inside of CIE and they deserve credit for their efforts in that regard. There are still people in CIE who are very interested in and have a competence in the Irish language. It has been a tradition in that company for many years.
There is an awkward piece of English in section 8 (1) where it says:
(1) The principal object of the railway company shall be stated in its memorandum of association to be to provide...
Some of the draftspeople should improve on that. I would also like a definition of that part of subsection (3) of the same section which reads:
The principal object of the Dublin bus company shall be stated in its memorandum of association to be to provide a passenger service by road for the city and county of Dublin and contiguous areas and to provide ancillary services...
What exactly do we mean by contiguous areas? Is the Bill meant to cover areas that Dublin city services are covering now or is it the intention to extend the areas that Dublin city services cover?
The amendments made in the Seanad are interesting. Subsections (7), (8) and (9) of section 8 reads:
(7) Where any function of the Board is, by virtue of this Act, a function of a company every provision of any enactment relating to the Board shall, in respect of that function and subject to the provisions of this Act, apply to the company as it applies to the Board.
(8) Each company shall undertake the functions assigned to it by virtue of this Act in compliance with such directions as the Board may give to the company in writing from time to time.
(9) In relation to competition between services of the companies, the companies shall have regard to the overall interest of the Board and in any conflict between the companies the Board shall decide the issue with due regard to its overall interest and the interests of the particular companies concerned.
I can see the purpose of those provisions. It was to meet some of the criticism of the two companies idea, and the question of competition and its possible deleterious effects. I would be afraid that the board would become too involved in the minutiae of the provincial bus and rail company because their real function is not that at all. They are being given powers in the Bill to settle disputes. They may well end up spending most of their time settling disputes, at least for a number of years if the two-companies idea is put through. Subsection (10) of section 8 reads:
(10) The Board and the companies shall have due regard to the Board's social role and the need to maintain public transport services integrated to the maximum extent possible within the financial resources available to them.
The social role has been accepted by the Minister, by the Fianna Fáil Party and by most Members of this House. For most people, the social role would be what they do in regard to school buses, old age pensioners and others and for the former members of the Defence Forces, the old IRA and so on. It is, as now defined by the Minister, covering the whole area of the subsidy, whatever that is, and we will be pushing for transparency in that regard also.
Section 11(2)(c) relates to the problem solving role of the chairman of the board. It reads:
(c) The Chairman of the Board may, with the consent of the Minister, be appointed on his own nomination to be chairman or a director of the company and may be removed from that office by the Minister;
In section 11 (2) (f) a piece has been added on in the Seanad to the Bill as initiated. The original Bill read:
(f) the company shall, within a period specified by the Board, set up machinery for the purposes of negotiation concerned with the pay and conditions of its staff.
Added on has been:
and to this end consult with and make every reasonable endeavour to reach agreement with the trade unions concerned.
I would have thought that that was self evident philosophy in regard to industrial relations.
Section 11 (3) is also new and states that the directors to be appointed to each company shall include two persons selected from the members of the board appointed under the Worker Participation (State Enterprises) Act, 1977, provided that such persons are willing to accept office. Subsection (4) is also new and it says that a majority of the directors of the railway company and the Irish bus company shall be common to both companies. Both those amendments were designed to meet the fears and the objections, especially from trade unionists, of what would happen when the two companies were welded together if the weld did not take too well. If the Minister accepts my amendment in regard to two companies there will be no need for subsections (3) and (4) although if the Minister wishes to leave them in I will not object.
In regard to section 13 which deals with membership of either House of the Oireachtas, I had a chip on my shoulder about this during the years 1973-77 when in Opposition because Members of the Oireachtas were excluded from various offices. I suppose I have matured a little over the years and I am glad that there is a distinction made between director and employee. There is provision for the seconding of an employee. I do not know if that existed before but it is an advance and I commend the Minister for including it.
Section 14 (5) says that every person who, immediately before the vesting day, is an officer or servant of the board shall not, while in the service of the board or a company, as the case may be, receive a lesser scale of pay or be brought to less beneficial conditions of service than the scale of pay to which he was entitled and the conditions of service to which he was subject immediately before the vesting day. The information I got in regard to the specific case I mentioned in relation to the switch from Westland Row to the North Wall is an instance of where conditions of service immediately before vesting day will be worse than before. The same applies to subsection (6) which says that the conditions of service, restrictions, requirements and obligations to which they were subject immediately before the vesting day shall continue to apply and may be exercised or imposed by the board.
I have already spoken about the auditing of accounts. I will listen to the Minister's reply and I will then decide whether to include a period of three months in my amendment. Perhaps it will not be possible to audit the accounts within three months, it can be extended to four months if necessary. Section 25 (1) says that the Minister may, by order, confer on the board such further functions. including functions in relation to the development of the assets of the board, as the Minister thinks proper and specifies in the order. Subsection (2) says that any such order may contain such incidental and supplementary provisions as the Minister thinks necessary or expedient for giving full effect to the order. Subsection (3) says that every order under this section shall be made with the consent of the Minister for Finance. They are fairly wide ranging powers but perhaps on Committee Stage we will be able to tease out the sections.
Section 26 (1) says that the Minister may give to the board such directions in writing as to policy in relation to the functions of the board, the companies, or any of them, as he thinks proper. That is a fairly strong section. Subsection (2) says that the board shall comply and ensure compliance by the companies with every direction under this section. In other words, the Minister has the power to direct the board and the board have the power to direct the companies. Subsection (3) says that a direction under this section shall, if the board so request in writing, be given by the Minister by order.
The whole Bill is connected with the social scene and the definition of the total subsidy is that it is a social one. That being the case, this House decides it and I do not know what directions the Minister will give. However, I am sure the Minister will expand on it.
I support the Minister in his efforts to improve the morale of CIE and to exploit the full potential of the company. We agree that there is great potential in their management and workforce whether in Inchicore, on the buses and trains or working as fitters in garages. I came to that conclusion while studying the calibre of the people taken into it, by specific policies of CIE in the past and by reading their in-house magazines. I realised what good they can do in the community apart altogether from their transport services. When you have that kind of potential, good leadership, good management and high morale great results can be achieved. I know that cynicism is an animal that grows and that many words spoken here in regard to CIE will be treated cynically. However, the cynic has never achieved anything and he or she is well defined as someone who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. The House can do something in regard to morale and potential.
I should also like to refer to transparency. I would like a breakdown of all figures. I made the point about leaving certificate pupils who in the past were accustomed to sitting examinations for CIE, I said their employment depended on public competitive examinations. I hope CIE adhere to that arrangement. I will be putting down a substantial amendment with regard to two companies instead of three because of the various difficulties to which I referred and because too heavy a burden will be placed on the board who will be very busy developing the company and, like the conductor of an orchestra, keeping the three companies, or two as the case may be, going and in tune.
I am not complaining about CIE's audited accounts this year. However, I fear that bad habits might develop as has happened in other semi-State bodies and whose accounts when published are out of date. When that is the case people cannot make any useful contribution in regard to improving the operations of a company.
I mentioned policy directives from the Department. I should like to refer also to the European aspect of transport in this country. CIE are the major transport company but we have not got a transport committee of the House. Thanks to MEP, Paddy Lawlor, I get literature from the European Parliament when they speak about transport committees. The House has committees on public expenditure, semi-State bodies and so on and it should certainly also have a committee on transport.
I am sorry that the Dublin Transport Authority is not the one I envisaged because no one from CIE has been appointed to the new board which the Minister announced. Someone should have been involved in the transport scene, especially in Dublin city. However, perhaps we will deal with that another day.
Bhí áthas orm faill a bheith agam páirt a ghlacadh sa díospoíreacht seo agus tá súil agam do n-éireoidh go geal le Córas Iompair Éireann sa todhchaí. Mar a dúirt an tAire féin, bhí sé go maith san am atá thart agus is dócha go bhfuil sé in am feabhas a chur ar staid CIE.
Nuair a bhí mise im' Aire, bhí áthas orm fáilte a chur roimh Airí Iompair na hEorpa, ní amháin Airí as an EC ach Airí as an Phortaingeil, an Spáinn — ní raibh siad san EC ag an am — an Ioruaidh agus, sílim, Ar Fhionlainn. Chuir mé glaoch ar Chathaoirleach CIE ag an am chun a rá leis go raibh sé tábhachtach go mbeadh an traein — bhí traein breá galánta againn ó Bhaile Atha Cliath go dtí Luimneach — in am. Chuir sé sin fearg ar an gCathaoirleach: "Cén fath nach mbeadh sé in am?" A dúirt sé liom — agus bhí. Agus tháinig sé in am churig Luimneach freisin. Cuireadh gliondar croí ormsa mar gheall air mar go raibh na hAirí eile ansin agus ba linne an traein agus ba linne an ócáid. Tá súil agam go seasfaidh CIE leis an chaighdeán sin sa todhchaí.