There is nothing very extraordinary about this amendment. It is equivalent to inserting a fair wages clause in the industry now to be controlled by the State in its own interest and for its own preservation. That in effect is the principle involved. I know we are at great disadvantage in discussing most important matters of this kind just at this particular time. The political correspondent of the "Irish Times" in his notes published to-day says, and I think he is right: "It seems to be the general opinion that the Government supporters will be present in the Senate in sufficient numbers to ensure that it will be unnecessary to summon the Dáil to meet and that there will be no alteration in these measures." So, according to that source Government supporters are here in sufficient numbers to-day to ensure that no amendment will be inserted in this Bill. Whether that is true or not it is the duty of those who move amendments to give reasons for them. I am afraid that is the only justification we have for talking at all in regard to these amendments.
Now this amendment is moved in different interests. In the first place it is moved in the interests of the travelling public; secondly, it is moved in the interests of the men who drive the buses that will carry the public. It is also moved in the interests of the companies, and particularly the companies that are at present paying reasonable rates of wages or that at least observe reasonable hours of work. Senator Farren mentioned eight hours per day. I only wish that eight hours were observed on the part of the whole of those running the transport services at present, but unfortunately I think we can at least add 50 per cent. in certain cases. As I pointed out on the Second Reading of this Bill, a man, whether an owner driver or not, who works more than he is capable of working while driving a bus is a menace not only to the people he drives but to everybody else who uses the highway.
Senator Sir John Keane talked about a man who may be well off on a small salary and a man who may be exceedingly poorly off on a high salary because he may be a bad liver. I do not know how many people can afford to get a bad liver by over consumption of anything in these times in this country. The fact is that a very big part of the duty of a driver of a bus, particularly on bank holidays, is to avoid killing people who have plenty of money and who indulge themselves not wisely but too well. Senator Sir John Keane talked about the world being in a mess through over State regulation of all kinds. The railways are in a mess because of the doctrine of laissez faire or Paddy Go easy which Senator Bagwell glorifies. He will find if he reads the papers, as I know he does, that State regúlation and control are becoming increasingly necessary and will become more and more necessary if the existing order is not to collapse in the lifetime of most of us. State regulation is absolutely necessary now in order to save the existing order.
The Minister in the Dáil argued against a somewhat similar amendment to this and said: It would be bad for the worker because he would have to fix, or might fix, a particular rate adequate in itself even though it was well below the maximum rate fixed. That is a matter for the workers. These amendments are put down after due consideration and the workers are prepared to take the risk. We are concerned mainly with the small man who has a few buses and who is able to get people to work for anything because of the existing state of employment and because they are starving and are prepared to work at any rate. He is able to get men and to work them on certain occasions up to 14 hours per day and give them anything he may please. They are prepared to do this work because necessity knows no law. Four or five of that type of bus competing with a company that pays reasonable rates make it impossible for them to continue these rates if they are to continue charging the same fares.
Then we have the other problem of the one-man bus where the conductor is also the driver. He has, therefore, a double responsibility put upon him. Having to pay only one man that employer is effecting a considerable saving and he should be compelled to observe reasonable hours of duty and pay the trade union rate of wages. The whole tendency to-day is to try and dispense with men. That is creating huge unemployment everywhere. They have at present machinery in America which turns out 73,000 electric bulbs per day which were previously turned out by 2,000 skilled operators. They have a tabulating machine that does the work of one hundred skilled persons. They have machinery for excavating and laying concrete streets and sewers which attended by 70 operatives do work which previously employed 7,000 men working with pick and shovel. All these are tendencies to throw men more and more out of employment while the employers hope to grab a greater share of the profits. It is not working, it cannot work, because there is nobody to buy the commodities which are turned out.
The same development has taken place in transport. You have the driver acting the part of the conductor, and where you had on the railways the permanent way and the signal cabins, and stations and all the rest, you have now the bus owner with at most two men on a bus, with a highway ready-made, with Civic Guards acting as signalmen, and a whole lot of other privileges conferred upon him by the State and the ratepayers. In return he simply thinks of dispensing with more men, and is consequently able to make greater profit than if he had been running on rails. I suggest, in these circumstances, seeing there are so many people anxious to run buses, seeing that they have such special privileges conferred upon them in that branch of transport, as compared with others, that they be compelled to agree, when they come to the Minister for a licence, when he says: I shall only grant the licence on condition that you work your men for what, in my opinion, and in the opinion of everybody else, is a reasonable number of hours, in the interests of the men and in the interests of the public, and that you shall observe at least the same rates of pay and conditions of service as are observed by other companies in the same district running similar services.