THE SEANAD IN COMMITTEE. - RAILWAYS BILL.

The following motion appeared on the Orders of the Day in the name of Senator Linehan:—
That a railway map of the Saorstát should be officially provided for the use of Senators when discussing the Railways Bill, 1924, and that a return showing the total receipts and expenditure of each of the railway undertakings affected by the said Bill for the financial year ended 31st December, 1913, should be furnished for the information of Senators.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

With reference to this motion I understand that there was printed and circulated a Government Paper which contains all the particulars that you seek in the second part of it. You will be able to get access to that paper, so that there only remains that portion of your motion that asks for a railway map during the progress of the Railways Bill. I hardly think that is a matter for resolution, and that if you called the attention of the Seanad to the desirability of having this map, and if the Seanad expressed a desire to have it. I would have that wish communicated.

What you say is correct. I was not aware that this return had been printed and circulated. I did not receive it. I have been supplied with a copy now, and I find that it carries out all I require. I do not now intend moving the first part of the motion. But I would ask the Seanad to express the opinion that it would be desirable to have a railway map available for consultation when discussing the different sections of the Railways Bill. I might also ask for the provisional draft scheme of the railway companies which is mentioned in a circular dated the 8th May.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Perhaps I would read a letter for you that I received from the Secretary of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce:—

25th June, 1924.

I am directed by the Minister for Industry and Commerce to say that his attention has been directed to the motion to be moved by Senator Linehan in An Seanad to-day, asking for certain information to be provided for the use of Senators when discussing the Railways Bill, 1924, and I am instructed to forward herewith a Railway Clearing House map, showing the Irish railways, and also a copy of the railway returns and statistics for the year 1913, which it is hoped will afford the information desired.

I am to add that a copy of "Biggs' Railway Acts," containing statutes dealing with railways which are referred to in the Railways Bill was furnished to you last week, and that it is understood copies of the White Paper circulated with the Bill in the Dáil, giving certain particulars about the railway companies included in the Bill, have already been made available to Senators.

If there is any further material in the possession of the Department which would be of use to Senators in connection with the Bill, the Minister will be glad to furnish it if given an early intimation to that effect.

That is very satisfactory. The only other information I think it would be desirable for the Senators to have would be the original draft scheme prepared by the railway companies themselves for amalgamating, laid on the Table of the Seanad, so that it would be consulted by the Senators. I see by the circular letter which they sent to the Senators on the 6th May, they say, "Certain schemes subsequently were suggested by the companies to the Government." I would like to have these schemes also laid on the Table here so that we might see what they proposed to do. In this letter of the 6th May, they say: "Certain schemes subsequently were suggested by the companies to the Government, who further intimated their desire that the principle of unification of all the undertakings situate wholly within the Free State should be adopted. Renewed negotiations on the lines indicated by Minister resulted in the several provisional agreements for amalgamation which have been arrived at, affecting in all six of the railway companies concerned, including the two larger ones." I would be very anxious to see a copy of the schemes laid on the Table, and I am sure the other Senators also would be glad to see copies of the schemes.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

That is a wholly different matter, and it is not contained in your resolution. That would be a roving inquiry into confidential documents mentioned by the Minister. However, you can have a try and ask them for it, but I strongly recommend you not to devote any of your time to reading Mr. Biggs' important work on railway statutes. I think Senator Brown will give you the same advice. Now, with regard to the Committee Stage of this Railway Bill, up to date there are 62 amendments received, and some of them have not yet reached the printed list. It is hoped these amendments will be in the hands of the Senators when they sit to-morrow. I wish to take the views of the Seanad as to the time when we ought to sit. We have evidently a fair day's work before us in getting through 62 amendments, and my suggestion would be to sit either at 10.30 or 11 o'clock in the morning.

Would that be with a view to getting through in one day?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Yes, if possible.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I think we will be very busy next week. After all, we finished in an hour to-day, and I do not see why we might not do two days work to-morrow. At any rate, we could see. If we sit at 10.30 or 11 we need not sit beyond 5, but I think it would be desirable to have a morning sitting for such an important Bill as this.

Provided you do not want to sit late, I am quite satisfied. I do not believe in burning the candle at both ends.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Then we had better begin at the top, and burn daylight. We could begin at 11, have an hour's interval for lunch, and probably rise at 5 o'clock.

Have you any information as to what we will have next week in the way of legislation?

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I mentioned the Bills to the House the last day.

But you may have had some more definite information since then.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

The Bills received since then are the Unemployment Insurance, National Health Insurance. Local Government (Rates on Agricultural Land) Bill, and a Bill about eggs.

Can we take it that we are not likely to have to meet on Tuesday? Sometimes we meet on Tuesdays when there is urgent business, and I would like to have an expression from you as to the probability.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

I do not know about that. It might be that the Seanad might prefer to sit on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week, rather than on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, but really I find that our gloomy anticipations about the amount of business to be discharged have been so often falsified that I do not like to make any prophecy about it. But if it would be to the convenience of any substantial body of the Seanad not to sit on Tuesday, I would not think of suggesting it. In fact, it had not occurred to me to suggest it. We will consider that to-morrow.

The Seanad adjourned at 4.5 p.m. until 11 o'clock on Thursday, June 26th.