Might I allude to one small verbal amendment which, I think, had better be made? Senator MacLysaght carried an amendment yesterday with regard to the Irish language, and the place in which it is fitted into the Bill is before Section 67. Sections 66 and 67 deal pretty well with the same subject, so that it would be an interruption of the normal order to have this section intervening. If it could be made a new Section 68 the other two sections that follow could be numbered on.
SEANAD IN COMMITTEE. - RAILWAYS BILL—(FIFTH STAGE).
If you wish, I will move that the change be made.
On the motion that the Bill be now passed, as this is the first Bill the Minister has dealt with in the Seanad, I would like briefly to express the appreciation of Senators on these benches, and I think of the Seanad generally, of the manner in which the Minister has treated this Bill, and particularly the way in which he has endeavoured to meet the suggestions put forward from various quarters. Even in cases where the Minister did not see his way to accept suggestions he did so in such a nice way that one felt it was almost unreasonable to ask him to do so. The Bill leaves the Seanad with comparatively few amendments, but I think it has been amended for the better. Of course, it would have been better if all the amendments put forward from these benches were accepted. Perhaps that would be too much to ask. It would be too sudden to become so progressive as to fall in with our line of policy. Taken with the Courts of Justice Act, and the Land Act, I think the Railways Bill can be looked upon as one of the three great measures of a more or less progressive character that have been put through the Oireachtas.
In this particular measure private enterprise is given a chance under exceedingly favourable circumstances to justify its existence in controlling a great public service. Nobody will be better pleased than I will if it succeeds. But if it does not succeed I am confident that there is only one other step to be taken, and when that step is taken, Senator Sir John Keane will be found to support it, because I believe that he is not nearly so non-progressive as he pretends. Notwithstanding his repeated declaration against nationalisation I feel that inwardly there are promptings that convince him that that is the only right step, and I believe that these repeated statements of his are merely assurances to himself that he has not changed. I believe that this Bill is a good Bill, as good a Bill as it could be made. I hope it will be a success. We congratulate the Minister on the unexampled tact and ability he has displayed in piloting this measure through both Houses.
I think it is only due to the Minister for Industry and Commerce that the Seanad should congratulate him on his conduct of the Bill. I am very glad that Senator O'Farrell raised the point, because as we have been passing Bills at such a rapid rate there was the danger that it would have passed through without our saying anything at all about this. I congratulate him on his manner in getting through an extremely complicated Bill. He knew what he was talking about from top to bottom. All the provisions of the Bill were elucidated by him, and nothing could exceed the good temper in which the whole Bill was passed through the Seanad. I think the Benches opposite have shown that they appreciate this Bill, and consider it a good Bill. Whether it is going to bring about perfect peace in our railway world or not I cannot say. But I hope it is to be a step in that direction. I quite agree with Senator O'Farrell that private enterprise has now a great opportunity of showing what it can do. If it will not succeed in pleasing everybody it certainly will succeed in pleasing a good many people in the long run if it gives as efficient and cheap a service as possible. I think we have done a good day's work in passing this Bill.
I would not rise except to reply to the suggestion made by Senator O'Farrell that because I do not believe in Nationalisation, I am, therefore, unprogressive. I contend that I am progressive, but not through the medium of Nationalisation. I do not believe that Senator O'Farrell is quite right in assuming that Nationalisation embodies progress. There is one school of progress which believes in Nationalisation, and another school which does not. I would like to join with the other Senators in congratulating the Minister on the manner in which he has piloted the Bill through.
This is the first ministerial adventure of the Minister, and I would like to congratulate him on the courtesy, good temper, and tact displayed by him throughout, as well as the exceptional information with regard to all the provisions of the Bill which he laid at the disposal of the Seanad.
Might I also be permitted to add my share to what has been said by Senator O'Farrell and the other Senators. This Bill, as the Seanad knows, has not been passed at the instigation of the railway companies. It is the outcome of suggestions that have been made by those who wanted to see the Irish railways improved, and it will it is hoped better the service in the future. I would like to say that I think no one could have handled the various matters connected with this Bill better than the Minister handled them. I think the Government deserve credit in trying to get over a very difficult question. I think it is due to all concerned to hope that the best means will be taken in the future to make this Bill a success. Its success will not be for the benefit of any particular class, but for the benefit of the whole country.
I rise to add my few words to what has been said as to the splendid way in which the Minister has carried through this Bill. I have known the Minister for years, and I knew very well that any task he undertook would be well done. I rise more particularly to say that as one of the believers in private enterprise. It may be an old-fashioned idea but I am sure that we would be able to give a good account of ourselves. I do feel that some of our members would want training in the County Cork, in Blarney, if we are to cope with the efficiency by which members of the Seanad are able to cajole Ministers.
I do not see Senator Douglas in his place, but I understand that he intended to suggest that both these Bills might be referred to a Joint Standing Committee of both Houses. You may remember that they were introduced to the Seanad on the motion of Senator Douglas. We still have a great number of Bills to consider. Senator Douglas made a suggestion to me to-day which occurred to myself previously. We agreed that it would be a desirable thing if it could be accomplished, and I know that he went to speak to the responsible parties in the Dáil on the matter, to know if they would agree to these Bills being disposed of by a Joint Committee of both Houses. Therefore, we will go back on this question when the Senator resumes his place in the Seanad.