Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Road Transport Legislation.

Michael Moynihan

Question:

41 Mr. Moynihan asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport when it is proposed to publish the text of the amending legislation to the existing road transport legislation.

Mervyn Taylor

Question:

48 Mr. Taylor asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if he will elaborate on his recent suggestion that he would be prepared to subsidise private bus operators; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Joe Sherlock

Question:

71 Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport when it is intended to publish the promised Road Transport Bill: if he will outline the main provisions of the Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 41, 48 and 71 together.

I am in the course of completing my consideration of the level of liberalisation of bus services to be provided for in a new Bus Competition Bill which, with Government approval, I hope to present to the Oireachtas early next year. While details of the new legislation cannot be published until after they have been approved by the Government, I can assure the House that the Bill will provide for and facilitate a considerable greater degree of competition than is possible under existing legislative provisions. More specifically I am confident that the new provisions will give rise to significant improvements in the quality and range of bus services available to the general public.

It would be premature at this stage to elaborate on the possibility of private bus operators being subsidised. All I can say is that this is one option which was implemented successfully in Britain in the case of services provided by private bus operators on loss-making routes.

I am disappointed and, to some degree, disturbed by the nature of the Minister's reply. On at least two previous occasions from Government benches it was intimated that this Bill would be published, first in the session ending in July last and, at a later stage, in the autumn. Is the Minister aware that there is considerable anxiety and concern among workers in both the rail and road sections of CIE in relation to this proposed complex Bill which may present some difficulties? Workers allege that the publication of this Bill may well be delayed until a new national wage agreement has been completed. In the light of that serious concern felt by workers and unions would the Minister not agree that he should have arranged a meeting with the unions in order to specifically outline the nature of the proposed legislation——

For obvious reasons I am anxious that we have brevity.

Workers may feel that having knowledge of such legislation which may impact on their jobs or security would be vital from the point of view of the unions before the completion of a new national wage agreement.

I, too, regret the delay in bringing forward the legislation. I am working at it as hard as I possibly can. The delay is because I wanted to have further consultation with all parties involved and I will, of course, be meeting with the trade union movement, as is our understanding with them in regard to such a major measure. The Deputy will be aware that the last legislation governing bus competition to this extent was in 1932 and that a fairly substantial overhaul is now required, which is what I propose to undertake. Let me reassure the workers in the company concerned that they have my fullest confidence and admiration for the work they have put in. I will seek to ensure that when we talk to the union movement about this legislation every facility is given to them.

A final question——

A brief question.

Will the Minister undertake to have such discussions on the proposed outline of the legislation prior to the completion of the national wage agreement?

I am not following that deadline. I am trying to overhaul transport legislation. I am working as quickly as I can to do that because I want to ensure we have an effective Bill that will give better quality of service in the years ahead to the public, considering the last Bill was in 1932. If I can have that achieved before the agreement is finalised I will certainly do so, but I cannot give that guarantee. I will do my best.