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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 12 Jun 1990

Vol. 399 No. 10

International Carriage of Goods by Road Bill, 1990: Committee Stage.

Sections 1 and 2 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 3 stand part of the Bill."

I do not intend to oppose this Bill or delay its passage through the House but I want to put down a marker on section 3 on the question of the carriage of goods by road. This section sets down certain penalties for failure to comply with the provisions of the Bill. I regret that the Bill concerning the international carriage of dangerous goods, which will give rise to accession to what is known as the ADR Agreement is not being brought before the House at the same time as this Bill. Not only is there no legislation to deal with the modern safe carriage of toxic waste by rail, but there is no legislation to deal with the modern safe carriage of toxic waste or related dangerous substances by road. The ADR Bill is long overdue and should be before the House in tandem with this Bill.

This is an indication of inertia within the Department of Tourism and Transport and this is further witnessed by the fact that we are the last European State to sign the ADR Agreement and to introduce the appropriate legislation. I make this point on section 3 because I believe that the Bill is overdue and we will be in very difficult circumstances if there is a major toxic problem on road or rail. I will draw the Minister's attention to what is called the "Asahi Express" which travels on a line where we have had a derailment and almost a second derailment caused by cattle crossing. These incidents could have occurred while the "Asahi Express", which carries highly toxic substances from Dublin to Mayo was on the line. I think we should be taking the ADR legislation in conjunction with this Bill so that we can come to terms with the question of a safe carriage of toxic goods by either road or rail. This needs to be attended to. However, having said that I do not want to delay the passage of this Bill. It is purely technical legislation which has the support of the haulage industry and also has European-wide support. I am sorry we are the last country to deal with this matter and that this inertia exists. We should be taking the ADR Bill in tandem with this one and deal with the whole question of the transport of toxic waste by road and rail and also the transport of other dangerous goods.

I confirm that Ireland has not acceded to the ADR — we are the only member state of the European Community in that position — because it has not the required legislation or administrative or technical arrangements in place. The Deputy is right in that a Bill would be needed to be passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas and arrangements put in place for the testing and certification of equipment and packaging and driver competence. I assure the Deputy that consideration is being given at present to whether Ireland should accede to the ADR and arrangements put in place for implementation of the ADR if accession is to proceed.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 4 to 7, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 8 stand part of the Bill."

Given the experience of recent times, can the Minister assure the House that any expenses incurred in the administration of this Bill will be properly monitored by his Department? For instance, I am concerned that there is not even one accountant in the Department of Tourism and Transport, and I use this occasion to highlight that matter. It is totally unacceptable that, in a Department of its size, with so many State and semi-State bodies under its aegis, there is no fully fledged accountant capable of monitoring these expenses and advising the Minister and Minister of State on matters of a broader nature in relation to this industry and also in relation to semi-State bodies in general. As we are allowing the Minister to incur expenses in the administration of the Bill, I use this occasion to make that comment.

I am glad to have the opportunity of saying a few words on this Bill. It is legislation whose origin goes back quite a few years. We are the last country to implement this directive which will be to the benefit of all concerned. Up to now a substantial part of our road haulage business was to the North of Ireland and to Great Britain.

Perhaps Deputy Moynihan would hold his contribution until the Minister moves the question. "That the Bill do now pass." We are dealing with Committee Stage now and will invite the Deputy to comment later.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 9 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Schedule be the Schedule to the Bill."

On Article 1, why does this convention not apply to funeral consignments, furniture removal or carriage performed under the terms of any international postal convention? Specifically in relation to funeral consignments, what comeback would a citizen have if, for example, the body of a loved one — or indeed the ashes of a loved one, given that cremation is now available to us — was mislaid or damaged or went astray? Recently I had experience of a case where a person imported the ashes of a loved one from the UK. What would happen in that case if the ashes went astray? Why have funeral consignments been exempted from the provisions of the Bill? What is the thinking behind this and how would people be protected in those circumstances?

On Second Stage I gave details regarding the consignor and the consignee.

Would the person involved be the consigned?

You can interpret it whatever way you like but the same applies as with ordinary goods. As regards the case to which the Deputy referred, that would be a matter for the funeral undertaker and the person with whom that undertaker has made a contract. In my view, the responsibility lies with those two people.

It is more in the area of contract law than carriage of goods legislation.

Question put and agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Bill reported without amendment.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

Will the Minister explain precisely when this Bill will have the force of law? Will it be when the Bill is signed by the President or when it is lodged with the Secretary General of the United Nations? In other words, when will this legislation take effect?

I am sure the Minister will be appreciative that we did not hold up the progress and passage of this Bill. I want to make some comments at this stage, and particularly to highlight the fact that it has been alleged that members of the Labour Party, The Workers' Party and the Progressive Democrats were not present during the debate last Friday. I was attending another function in Trinity College relating to transport which was of equal importance — some would argue it was of more importance. Deputy Mitchell need not have got as excited as he did in our absence. I am aware that word went out to various officials of the Department——

The point I made last Friday was that the Deputies concerned are very good at giving out to the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Parties but not one of them was in the House to represent their parties or the interests of the public when this Bill passed Second Stage, and that is a matter of record. If the Deputy was in Trinity College or anywhere else he should have asked somebody else to be in the House.

Please allow Deputy Byrne to proceed without any further interruption.

It is important to point out that officials of the Department of Tourism and Transport were also present at the conference in Trinity College and, in fact, had to be paged to come to the House, but unfortunately my paging system broke down.

The Workers' Party do not oppose the Bill. It is a relatively straight-forward and non-controversial measure, aimed at enabling this country to ratify the Convention on the contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road. As a Deputy representing Dublin city, the Minister will be very conscious that the amount of goods conveyed through our congested and built-up city streets is the cause of major problems. Although this is a technical Bill, it indicates that more companies than ever will be conveying goods cross-Channel and into Dublin. The Minister might consider other methods of transporting these massive container trucks which cause so much damage to inner city roads. He might look at a system in operation in Europe where the containers are driven straight on to trains that take them to locations outside the city boundary.

I must interrupt you, Deputy Byrne, and ask that you agree to report progress. We must move on to other business.

Is it not possible for us to have the Bill passed at this stage?



I hope Deputy Moynihan will be here the next day. He was not here last Friday. The Deputy will be very welcome.


You should keep your mouth closed, you are the people who dropped the ball last week. You were not here on Friday for the amendment, now you want to hold up the Bill and bring everybody back again.

We do not have to listen——

The Deputy was not here for Second Stage. Friday, I suppose is a bad day for him to be here.

Debate adjourned.