I think this amendment was put in on the suggestion of the Seanad.
SEANAD IN COMMITTEE. - SHANNON ELECTRICITY BILL, 1925—REPORT STAGE.
Those two amendments are to be taken together. They specify a point which you raised yourself on the last stage.
Before you come to the next amendment I would like to say that the Minister, when the Bill was in Committee, agreed to consider the question of extending to three months the period for depositing plans, etc. Is the Minister prepared to do so?
If you remember, I said I would not look into it with much favour. We have reconsidered the matter, and our attitude is that inasmuch as we give a month's notice of an intention to take, and three months in the case of a dwelling-house, the matter of plans is a small one, and a month should be sufficient.
Section 11, sub-section (3). Before the words "An account" in line 54 to insert the words "on or before the first day of October in every financial year."
Section 11, sub-section (3). To delete the words "on or before the first day of October in respect of the last completed financial year" in line 55, inserted in Committee, and to substitute therefor the words "the previous financial year."
Section 13, sub-section (3). To add at the end of the sub-section the words "Provided always that any saving effected by any such local authority or other public body or any company owing to their obtaining their supply of electricity under this Bill at a lower rate than they are at the time obtaining it shall be passed on in full to the consumer."
I do not think the Minister will have any objection to this amendment. It is to provide that where the Shannon scheme passes a town where some company or local authority are supplying electricity, and where it is costing that local authority threepence a unit to produce electricity, the Minister can give it to them at one penny, and insist on their taking it at a penny, and that the difference of twopence should be passed on to the consumer. I do not think it will be an injustice. It is only fair that the consumer should get the benefit of the twopence.
I must make the old objection that this is not a supply Bill, and that the matter of the amendment is relevant to a Supply Bill. Clause 13 only gives me power to supply in so far as the first clause is concerned.
Will you put it in the Supply Bill?
I cannot promise that.
That disposes of the matter.
The amendment does not appear exactly as it was handed in. As I said at the time, it was necessary to have it looked at by the draughtsman. This is the draughtsman's version, to which we agree in substance.
Section 17, after the word "interference" in line 18 to insert the words "including excessive use thereof."
This amendment is to provide for a case where a contractor who, we will say, is constructing lines of supply over the country would be conveying by lorry heavy poles and other material along country roads. It would be a great temptation to such a contractor, if materials were landed in Dublin, to put them on a lorry and send them down over the public road. Anyone who has any experience in these matters knows that there is nothing so destructive to roads as carrying poles, which swerve as the lorry goes along I think it is very undesirable that a contractor should be permitted to use the roads for bringing these materials longer distances than is absolutely necessary. It is very undesirable in the interests of the ratepayers. The Minister should see that such materials are not carried further than is necessary from the nearest canal depot or railway station.
Is the Senator speaking to amendment No. 10 or No. 11?
I think both are the same. Amendment No. 11 reads:—
Section 17—To add at the end of the section a new paragraph as follows:—
"(e) it shall be incumbent upon the Minister to provide in all contracts executed under the provisions of this Act that all heavy materials, poles, cables, etc., for the execution of the works for distribution of electricity under this Act shall not be carried by road for a longer distance than would be involved in the carriage of the same from the nearest railway station, canal harbour, or other public depôt for the handling of goods."
I have some knowledge of the methods that were adopted to try and deal with excessive use of the roads by motor lorries. The county councils, in order to meet cases where there was excessive use of the roads by lorries, made a comparison of what the expenditure was before the roads were so used and afterwards. They found it quite impossible to carry that comparison out unless tolls were levied. It would be impossible, in such a case as this, to select a certain branch road, as the materials might be going from Dublin to Castleconnell.
My amendment proposes that heavy materials should not be allowed over the roads for long distances, but be brought from the nearest railway or canal depots.
As I understand it, the amendment that Senator Barrington desires is to prevent the excessive use of the roads by lorries. Where the roads are used to an excessive extent, those who use them should pay for them. The owners of motor lorries that drew timber had to pay for the use of the roads. They were prosecuted by the county councils, and damages were successfully obtained against them. A contractor, if he wanted to make as much money as he could, might ruin the roads with heavily-laden lorries.
I think the matter is adequately provided for already. Senator Barrington said that heavy poles would obstruct the traffic. The remedy should be to prohibit them on the road.
I do not think I said they interfered with the traffic. I said that they interfered with the roads.
If the amendment said the excessive use thereof, in so far as excessive use is liable to damage the roads, and if that is the aim I would ask the Senator interested in the amendment to look at sub-section (b) of Section 17 of the Bill.
Paragraph (b) of section 17 says: "The Minister shall, at or before the completion of the works, either restore the road or bridge to its former condition, or construct, after consultation with the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, a new permanent road or bridge." If I am bound to restore the road to its former condition where it has been cut up by heavy traffic, I do not see what is outstanding.
That may be the reason why, as I understood it, the Senator was unwilling to pursue the amendment. We will now go back to Amendment 11.
I have already moved that amendment.
In answer to this amendment I urge that in so far as it is an attempt to provide against damage being done to the roads, that, as I have already said, is met by paragraph (b) of Section 17. I would like to point out what the expense and inconvenience would be of following out the proposed new section (e) to its conclusion. Take as an example that part of the country lying between Sligo and Boyle. There are railway stations at both these points, and of course there are other stations in between. I am getting the transmission line extended to Sligo, and I may take material by road towards Sligo. There will have to be carted a certain number of poles and wires for the purpose of laying the line. So long as I go towards Boyle, I am getting to a point at which I can use Boyle railway station. But if I want to reach a point beyond Boyle, I will have to deliver the poles and wires at the next station, which may be some miles away, and then cart them back a certain number of miles by road. That is going to involve more expense and more destruction of the roads. I think that all that is met by paragraph (b) of Section 17. Let me take a station ten miles from Boyle. I may want to erect poles and wires a distance of 6 miles away. That will mean that after delivering the poles and wires at a station 10 miles away, I will have to cart them back a distance of four miles.
Take the transmission line from Limerick to Dublin, which I suppose will be the principal one in the country. Say that you want to deliver poles and other materials at some place between Roscrea and Maryborough. You may find it more convenient to send the material on a lorry from Dublin to the point at which the poles are going to be put up. The lorry may be sent the full distance from Dublin, whereas if you use the railway and deliver the material at Roscrea Station you would save the roads a great deal of wear and tear. There are several other places all over the country where the same thing may happen. The poles used in connection with the erection of transmission lines are very heavy. These poles extend a long way over the lorry. They surge up and down, and they cause tremendous wear and tear to the roads. I suggest that if the roads are to be used for this purpose they will be cut to pieces, and that is what I want to guard against.
In view of the paragraph in Section 17, to which the Minister has called attention, it is natural to assume, I think, that the Government will do this in the way that will inflict least injury on the roads, because you must remember that under that paragraph in the section the Government have undertaken the obligation of putting the roads back into proper repair. I am sure they will do this in the way that will cause least damage to the roads.
What I fear is that the contractor will employ the easiest and the speediest means that occur to him to handle the material, and if all these heavy materials are to be taken over the roads of the country, then enormous damage is certain to be done to them.
Under an old Act of Parliament any person who made an excessive use of the roads and caused exceptional damage to them could be proceeded against and made pay for the restoration of the roads to their original condition. I do not know whether that is still in force.
If the amendment is to be taken seriously it means that all the heavy material, such as the engines and machines used in the construction of the canal, are going to be taken by road.
I had not that in mind at all.
All the heavy machinery needed for the excavation of the canal is to be taken by rail and landed at Foynes. There is provision for the building of a special railway for the carrying of heavy machinery to the place at which it is required in connection with the making of the canal. As a matter of fact, I might say that these transmission poles are not heavy at all. There will be no great traffic occasioned by the transport of the poles and wires required for the transmission lines. It will be a matter of getting these things landed at certain points, and then transporting them by some means or other across fields to the points at which they are required. If you leave out the machinery required in connection with the construction of the canal the amount of material taken by road in connection with the Shannon scheme is going to be very small.
The Minister is drawing a red herring across this question by suggesting that I meant that the heavy engines were going to be taken by road. I only meant the material used in connection with the distribution of electricity.
The amendment reads: "All heavy materials, poles, cables, etc., for the execution of the work for distribution of electricity." That includes, I take it, the engines required in connection with the generation of electricity, and surely generation is a matter that is precedent to distribution?
If the Minister had the experience that I have in these matters he would see, I think, that lorries going up and down the country with heavy poles cause a great deal of damage. My idea in moving this amendment is to save the ratepayers of the country from having to bear the damage caused by this kind of traffic.
Amendment put and negatived.
Report Stage concluded.