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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 21 Apr 1999

Vol. 503 No. 4

Road Transport Bill, 1998: Report and Final Stages.

Amendment No. 1 is in the name of the Minister. Amendment No. 2 is consequential. Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 may be taken together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 10, to delete lines 1 to 18, and substitute the following:

"(1) Where a member of the Garda Síochána alleges to a person that the member suspects that such person has committed or is committing an offence resulting from a contravention of–

(a) the Principal Act (including an Act construed as one with it) or any instrument made under the Act, or

(b) any regulation made by the Minister under the European Communities Act, 1972, providing for the carriage of merchandise by road or the carriage of passengers by omnibus or the issuing of transport discs,

the member may require of such person his or her name and address, and if such person gives an address outside the State, the member may require the person to give to the member an address within the State, which is satisfactory to the member, for the service of any summons, and may, if such person–

(c) fails to give his or her name and address,

(d) gives a name or address which the member has reasonable grounds for believing is false or misleading, or

(e) having an address outside the State, fails to give an address within the State or gives such an address which the member has reason to doubt is satisfactory for the service of a summons,

arrest such person without warrant.

This amendment amends subsection (1) of this section. The amendment ensures that the member of the Garda has power to require a person he believes to have committed or to be committing an offence to give a name and address. To take account of a suggestion by Deputy Stagg on Committee Stage which I acknowledge as an important one, if an address outside the State is given by the person the member is given power to require an address within the State for the service of a summons. Therefore, if the member has reasonable grounds for believing that a person is committing or has committed an offence and the person fails to give a name or address, gives a name or address which the member has reasonable grounds for believing is false or misleading, or if the person is from outside the State and he or she fails to give an address within the State or if the member has reasonable grounds for believing that the address within the State given by that person is unsatisfactory for the service of a summons, then he may arrest the person without warrant. The new subsection is a more comprehensive provision and is recommended to Deputies.

I welcome the Minister's amendment. As he stated, it was discussed on Committee Stage. Deputy Stagg and I were in agreement on the necessity for such an amendment. Clearly it would be unsatisfactory if travellers on our roads were treated unequally before the law. Therefore, those from outside the State should be treated in exactly the same way as people from within the State.

If a person from outside the State was asked to give an address within the State, we clarified on a previous occasion that the address of a solicitor, for example, would be satisfactory. I want the Minister to put on the record of the House that the address of a solicitor, for example, would be satisfactory to a member of the Garda Síochána and would come within the terms of the legislation.

I welcome the amendment and thank the Minister for considering the matter and bringing it forward in this form. It is a safer provision than the previous one. It improves the Minister's previous provision. The matter of dealing with people from outside the State is important, as I stated on Committee Stage. It will create a level playing field for operators from within the State. We have had experience of operators from outside the State breaking the regulations and the law and being immune from the effects of the law which is applied stringently to operators from within the State. From that point of view, the section is improved by the amendment.

I am happy to acknowledge that this emanated from a meritorious suggestion on Committee Stage. As I mentioned on Second Stage, the tendering of the name and address of a solicitor will suffice to a Garda, who will take it as being appropriate. We have reached the stage where out-of-State hauliers are being dealt with and this new subsection provides for that more comprehensively.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 10, line 19, to delete "subsection (1)(b)" and substitute "subsection (1)".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 11, line 7, after "transport" to insert ", including the engagement or use by a person in the premises or place of the services of an undertaking for the carriage by road for reward of merchandise in a vehicle".

This amendment amends section 16(a) of the Road Transport Act, 1986, as inserted by section 15 of the Bill. The wording is consistent with a change made on Committee Stage to section 14 of the Bill and ensures that transport officers of my Department may apply for a search warrant to enter the premises of persons or companies who engage or use hauling services to exercise their powers under the Acts.

I welcome the strengthening of the powers of the Minister's inspectors which they need to do their job effectively. This is about enforcement and applying the law. Without the powers defined in this section and the amendment it would be more difficult for the job to be done. I support the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 14, to delete lines 23 to 25, and substitute the following:

"(7) In this section ‘the Board' means Córas Iompair Éireann.".

This is a technical amendment which deletes the definition of Minister in section 19(7). The Minister is already defined in section 1.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill reported with amendment and received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I thank the Minister and his officials for improving the legislation published by the previous Government. I welcome the section dealing with out-of-State hauliers which was not contained in the previous legislation. Operators in this State were disadvantaged by the fact that out-of-State operators did not have to comply with the regulations and, therefore, had a commercial advantage. I also welcome the sections that deal with consignor liability. For too long large well-known companies in the State forced their hackers and operators to work under illegal contracts. They are now liable for any such illegality which may occur, which is to be welcomed.

I also welcome the co-ordination of the licensing system which will make life easier for transport managers, companies and owner-operators who operate their systems on a shoestring. The weighbridge changes are also welcome, particularly in my constituency where county roads, which were never intended for big lorries, were being used as rat runs so lorries could keep the necessary distance from weighbridges. This will no longer be possible under this Bill. The by-roads of Kildare and other counties will no longer be ploughed up by 40 tonne lorries designed for motorway use.

This legislation is positive. I ask the Minister to ensure the measures contained in the Bill are effectively enforced and that the breaking of regulations will be the exception rather than the norm. This Bill should provide a guideline for the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and the Department of the Environment and Local Government. We now have four million visitors to Ireland each year who are also immune from legislation which impinges on the privileges and rights of Irish citizens. It is time to ensure traffic and other legislation applies equally to tourists. I thank the Minister for expeditiously introducing this legislation and improving it.

I agree with Deputy Stagg's commendation of the Bill. This is good legislation but it depends on enforcement. Good legislation is often not enforced, I hope this legislation is.

I appreciate the co-operation and support of Deputies Stagg, Currie and others on the various stages of this very important legislation. A number of important innovations have been introduced in the Bill. We are all enamoured with the measure dealing with consignor liability. It was important that the issue of out-of-State hauliers, to which Deputy Stagg referred, was attended to once and for all. Irish hauliers were at a distinct disadvantage and we now have a level playing pitch. There were many other aspects which needed to be dealt with and we have done so. Provisions have been introduced to deal with the employment of unlicensed hauliers and cowboy operators. This legislation will make for a more efficient haulage sector which is becoming more important to the growth of our economy.

Question put and agreed to.