Road Transport Bill, 1931—Committee Stage.

Sections 1 to 10, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 11.
(2) In the case of an application duly made in accordance with this Act for an annual passenger licence to commence on the appointed day by a person who carried on an existing service (within the meaning of this section) identical or substantially identical with the passenger road service (in this sub-section referred to as the proposed service) in respect of which such application is made, the Minister shall not refuse such application except upon one or other of the following grounds, that is to say:—
(a) on the ground that in his opinion such existing service was not carried on efficiently with a due regard to the requirements of the public;
(b) on the ground that in his opinion such existing service was not sufficient, in regard to frequency of service or in regard to daily duration of the service or in regard to any other matter, to meet the requirements of the public;
(c) on the ground that in his opinion the organisation and equipment at the disposal of the person making the application are not such as to enable him to carry on the proposed service in accordance with the conditions which the Minister considers should be inserted in the passenger licence to which such application relates.
(d) on any ground on which the Minister is expressly authorised by any other section of this Act to refuse such application.

I beg to move amendment 1:—

Section 11, sub-section (2). After the word "requirements" in line 34 to insert the words "and safety."

I know many buses which would satisfy most of the requirements set out in this Bill—the services are carried on frequently and efficiently—but I am also aware that in a district where I travel fairly frequently there are buses operating that are a positive deathtrap if a fire were to break out in them. I do not observe any clause in the Bill which deals with the safety of the public. Of course, the Minister will possibly say that adequate requirements in regard to public safety are embodied in the road traffic legislation. I think it is necessary to have some reference contained in this Bill to the safety of the public who utilise buses.

Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. McGilligan)

The question of the safety of the public is provided for in the Road Traffic Bill, which seems to me to be the proper place in which to make such provision.

Amendment put and negatived.

I propose amendment 2:—

Section 11, sub-section (2). Before paragraph (d) to insert a new paragraph as follows:—

"(d) on the ground that in his opinion the rates of wages paid to and the hours of duty worked by the drivers and conductors employed in such existing service, or which it is intended shall be applicable to the proposed service, are in the case of wages unduly low and in the case of hours of duty unduly long, and are such as to give such service an unfair advantage over competing services in respect of which the rates of wages and hours of duty are regulated by agreements between the employers and the trade unions representing their employees."

This is an amendment the object of which is to give power to the Minister to refuse a licence to existing services on certain grounds which are not those stated in the Bill. As the section stands the Minister is practically bound to grant licences except on certain grounds—that the existing service is not efficient, that the frequency and duration of the service do not meet the requirements of the public, or that the organisation and equipment at the disposal of the persons proposing to run the service are not satisfactory. There are certain other grounds on which the Minister is expressly authorised under sections of the Bill to refuse to grant a licence to applicants. I want to give the Minister power to refuse a licence to existing services if, in his opinion, the conditions of service of the employees of that concern, the drivers and conductors, are not satisfactory, that is if the wages paid are unduly low and so constitute an unfair advantage to that employer against other competing services where the wages and the hours of service are regulated between the company and the trade unions.

I do not think there can be any difficulty in this from the point of view of administration, because the Minister is empowered to get all the information he requires in regard to the rates of pay and the hours of work that have been in operation in the past and the rates and hours that are proposed to be put into operation. As the Minister for Industry and Commerce is in a position to know the arrangements that are being made between the trade unions and the employers in regard to the wages and hours, this information can be easily secured. I think I may take the position in the Dublin area and point out that there are services—well organised services, such as those which the Minister hopes or intends some day shall in fact control the bus services in and around Dublin—and in these services there are agreements between the people running the service and the organisations representing the drivers and conductors.

But these bus services are meeting with severe competition from bus owners whose drivers and conductors are paid very low wages in some cases. In a considerable number of cases they are paid considerably lower wages in respect of the drivers and very low wages in the case of the conductors. That kind of competition is disastrous not only for the employees in the better organised services, but it is disastrous for the companies running those services. It is also dangerous for the public inasmuch as there is no regulation regarding the hours on which the drivers or conductors are to run those services. The proposition in the motion is clearly that once we enter upon the question of licensing and regulation, as the Minister said, with a view to ultimate extinction, or shall I say a considerable reduction, of the anarchic kind of competition that at present prevails, we should begin right at the beginning and give the Minister power to refuse a licence to any service which he is satisfied is being run under uneconomic conditions.

It has been often said that trade unions ought to have some regard to the position in which their employers are placed. I think there is a great deal to be said for that point of view. In this case we are asking that employers who are prepared to pay fair wages and give humane conditions to their employees should be protected against this anarchic competition which pays no regard to the conditions under which the employees work. Unfortunately when employment is sought by scores, hundreds and thousands of people, and when these people are pressed by the economic conditions because their children are crying for bread they accept low wages. I trust the House will see that no encouragement will be given to employers of that kind so as to enable them to take advantage of the economic condition of hungry and workless people. The giving of a licence in respect of a bus service should be governed by the conditions of the employment of the various competing companies and these various competing companies ought to be placed on a fair level.

I think there are members of the Seanad who have within recent months expressed certain views with regard to competition from abroad in respect of commodities they sell here. These Senators were very loud in denunciation of the freedom of importation from countries where the people were supposed to be employed, or alleged to be employed, under very bad conditions. Unfortunately, it is not possible for this country even though it has high ideals regarding the conditions of employment to ensure that the conditions of employment under which goods produced abroad shall be satisfactory. But we have power here to ensure that the conditions of employment shall be made satisfactory in respect of this particular corner of the industrial life of the Saorstát. We do want to prevent the good employer from being damaged and from being forced in a downward direction in regard to rates of pay, hours of labour and conditions generally. We want to see some encouragement given to the idea of organisation on the employees' side and on the employers' side, and that the two sides shall come to some kind of reasonable and decent agreement, and that the State should use what influence it has in that direction.

This Bill gives an opportunity to the Minister to bring the necessary pressure to bear upon employers to raise the level of the low wage service, and to raise it to that of a fair wage service, such as is given by the fair wage companies. I ask the House to agree that it is a reasonable proposition that the good employer shall not be damaged by virtue of the fact that the freedom of competition in respect to wages and hours is allowed in the licences that are proposed to be given for the existing services as well as for future services.

I suggest there are at least two reasons why this amendment should not be passed by the House. In the first place it goes too much into particulars and, in the second place, I consider it is unnecessary. Section 11 (b) contains a reason justifying the Minister in refusing a licence. He can refuse the licence if he is of opinion that the existing service is not sufficient in regard to frequency of service or in regard to daily duration of the service or in regard to any other matter. That covers the point which the Senator has in mind, as well as any other point that might arise. Further than that, Section 12 (k)—it is the section which deals with the attachment of conditions to passenger licences—sets out that whenever the Minister grants a passenger licence he may attach to it such conditions as he shall think proper, such as "the rates of wages and hours of duty of employees and agreements or arrangements in reference thereto in the working of the passenger road service to which a licence relates." I suggest the amendment is unnecessary having regard to these points.

I rise to support the amendment. It suggests that before the licence is issued the Minister shall take all precautions necessary to safeguard the interests of the public. There is one matter of vital importance to the public arising from this amendment. Those of us who know conditions with regard to bus services in the city know that there is a positive danger to the public because of the long hours that some of the drivers and conductors are compelled to work. I have in mind certain buses in the Dublin area on which the men work the 365 days of the year—they have not one day off. Imagine a bus driver being compelled to drive continuously eight hours each day through the very heavy traffic in the city and suburbs. Imagine that man being obliged to work 365 days in the year. Could any sane man confidently say that by allowing that we are safeguarding the rights of the public? Would any member of this House who drives a car be prepared to go through that ordeal, not to speak of having the responsibility of the lives of twenty or thirty people in the bus? Is it reasonable to ask any man to undertake that responsibility for the 365 days of the year?

That is a statement I am prepared to prove. That does not refer to the one-man bus only, but to companies employing large numbers of men. Worse than that, in some cases the men work their full eight hours at one stretch with an interval of ten minutes to get a cup of tea.

Are we safeguarding the interests of the travelling public by allowing that to take place? This amendment asks that the Minister, before granting a licence in these cases, shall take the necessary precautions to safeguard the interests of the public. No doubt we have the interests of the employed people to consider also in connection with this matter. Senator Johnson has pointed out quite fairly that if a number of companies are going to get licences to engage in bus traffic in the city and suburbs of Dublin, at least there ought to be fair competition amongst them. The amendment asks that where agreements have been made between trade unions catering for the employees and companies engaged in the transport service, at least the conditions prevailing in these cases shall be the conditions under which the other companies shall work. Nothing could be more reasonable or fair than that. Apart from all that, I am putting to the House the importance of safeguarding the public. There is no necessity to speak about the terrible bus tragedies which have occurred in the city and suburbs. It is almost impossible for a man engaged in driving for the 365 days of the year, with the ordeal of going through the enormous traffic in the city and suburbs, to be able to do it continuously. No Senator would like to do it, and if that is so, we ought not to ask anybody else to do it. Further, we ought to insist, in any legislation passed governing this question of transport, that at least the safety of the public is protected. I ask the House to support the amendment for these reasons.

With the main objects of the amendment as stated by the two Senators, I am in agreement. I have always in this House held that it is good neither for the employee, the employer or the public to have workers working unreasonable hours. But I cannot see that the method proposed in this amendment would be either satisfactory or achieve what the Senators want. We are dealing now with the State. To my mind, the State can only fix either a minimum wage or a maximum number of hours to be worked. It cannot or ought not give to the Minister a discretion over and above fixing a minimum wage or a maximum number of hours. If I understand the next section in the Bill, it clearly gives the Minister power to fix a minimum wage, if he thinks fit, or a maximum number of hours.

While I do not know the transport business sufficiently well to know whether there is need for the fixing of a minimum wage at present, I have no doubt whatever that there is need for the fixing of a maximum number of hours for employees. I do not say that there is no need for the other—I simply do not know. Assuming that that is done, and the power is given to do it in Section 12, unless I completely misunderstand it, then this amendment proposes that over and above that the Minister is to have a discretion to refuse a licence—although the company cannot have a licence at all unless it is keeping within that minimum—because though keeping within the minimum it is possibly paying a lower wage than may have been agreed to between the trade unions and certain other companies who might represent the majority. I have always been in favour, so far as it is reasonably possible, of employers working harmoniously with the trade unions, and I believe it is in their interest to do so, but I am not prepared, in the event of a dispute between the unions or a dispute between the employers and the trade unions as to what are reasonable rates, to say that the Minister for the time being is to come in and say to certain companies, who may be either employing men of a different union or men who may not belong to any union —I am assuming that there is a minimum rate fixed—that although they are keeping the law they cannot have a licence because he does not like their rates of wages. That is what is proposed in this amendment. I think that is the wrong way of doing it. I think the only right way of doing it at the present time, in our stage of development, is for the State to fix something which it regards as a minimum, and let the employers and the trade unions work out under normal conditions the improvements that may be made above that minimum. It is the State's duty to fix maximum hours of work, particularly in a service of this kind where it is obvious that a man working anything like the hours mentioned cannot be fit to drive a bus continuously.

I think there is a very grave danger in this amendment. If you look at this thing as a matter of principle I think you must agree that we have got largely, not only in the railways but all over the world, into a mess by over-regulation and restrictions and largely by the sheltered position of certain wage earners who maintain wages at an uneconomic level. I see Senator O'Farrell getting his notebook ready, so I know that I am in for it in a minute. We have more or less now an opportunity to mend our hand. We are starting to a great extent on a new adventure. Do let us have regard to experience and to the present state of the world brought about by all this regulation. I think also that Senator Johnson's amendment is a great confession of weakness, because surely with the organisation of labour and with the great power they have in many industries they could secure these conditions themselves, if they have the support of their own people. I would ask Senator Johnson, if he is prepared to give the Minister power to regulate wages, is he prepared to give up the weapon of the strike completely? Then, I think, the position might be more logical, but of course he is not. He wants to have it both ways. This sort of vague talk about bad conditions meaning danger and lack of safety of course is far too remote, because you might pay a man very good wages and he might be a bad liver. Without exactly appearing the worse for drink on duty he might spend a lot of his spare time in the public-house. He might have a debilitated constitution and he might be a thoroughly undesirable man as a driver and a danger to the public. You cannot carry that to that extent. You cannot actually follow up how a man lives. The same way in regard to wages. Who is going to regulate the question of degree? We all know that if two families get the same wage one may be very thrifty and do very well while the other may be in poverty simply because of bad management. Whatever powers the Minister has with regard to the regulation of wages —I am sorry to hear he has any; Senators Douglas and Bagwell seem to think he has some; it comes rather as a shock to me to hear that he has any—I hope he will exercise them sparingly. Let us get back to common sense and back to realising that wages have a commodity value as well as everything else.

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.

Senator O'Farrell talked a lot round this subject, but he did not reply to Senator Bagwell in his reference to paragraph (k) of Section 12, namely, that the Minister has certain powers to regulate wages.

He says it is no use.

Senators are alive to the legislation passed on this matter all over the world. They have not pointed out where any country has gone to the extent they desire we should go in regulating bus wages. There is regulation of traffic in Northern Ireland, in England and in France, and I am sure if there was anything of this kind in the legislation there Senators would have pointed it out. If it is there Senators made a bad case in not pointing it out. I do not agree that it is the right of any Minister to fix wages. He should only interfere where it was necessary to safeguard the public. He does not fix railway wages. He never had power to fix wages in any industry I know of.

This does not give him power.

It means he must insist on whatever are the rate of wages current, or he will not grant the licence otherwise. The whole thing shows what Senator Sir John Keane pointed out, that the labour side are not properly organised to force these people to pay proper wages.

Do you prefer the strike method? If you want it, you can have it.

I am not talking of strikes. If you were organised properly you would not have them working at low rates of wages. I have to pay the rates of wages current in my district. If people were properly organised they would secure the proper rate of wages. You should be properly organised and not be asking the Minister to do your work.

I would like to disabuse Senator Wilson's mind on the question of a compulsory rate of wages. He has not to go very far, only across the Irish Channel and he will find that there is a compulsory rate of wages for agriculture. I wonder how he would like to have compulsion applied here. It is not so long since we had a compulsory rate of wages for agriculture here.

And fixed prices.

Yes, and the trade unions had to take action nearly every day in order to get the arrears of the miserable wages paid. If Senator Wilson had his way bus drivers and conductors would not be paid at all.

Not at all.

They would be made to work for any wages they could get. As to Senator Sir John Keane's regulations, the present chaotic state of the world is testimony to the benefits accruing from the regulations which he and his class made regarding the trade and commerce of the world. I have personal knowledge of one bus driver who had to drive 62 miles from a certain city in the Saorstát, and who, at the end of the journey got one half hour off before he drove back again. He had to make a third journey the same day and had to remain at his destination at night. The next day he did the same journeys in the opposite direction. As a result he had to sleep in a different bed each night. Another bus driver operated a similar bus in the opposite direction. Neither of these men received an equitable wage. The result was that one bus broke down four drivers in three months. One driver who was fairly virile stuck to the position for three months and had then to go into hospital. That is happening all over the Free State. One of these drivers lost control of his bus and only that there happened to be a protecting wall at the side of the road the thirty passengers would have fallen fifteen feet into a field. Accidents are bound to happen from time to time if the present conditions are allowed to continue. There are regulations on the railways as to the engine drivers' hours of work. It was found necessary to introduce these regulations for the protection of the public. It is only when there is some big catastrophe and when there is proof that bus drivers and conductors are overworked that some protection will be given to the public. Why not give that protection now by imposing reasonable conditions in bus services, and by seeing that the workers are paid a rate of wages which would enable them to maintain their physique and to give satisfaction to the public and to their employers?

We have one delight here, and that is to hear Senator Sir John Keane, because he always voices the real meaning of those about him, the real meaning of, say, Senator Wilson, Senator Bagwell and perhaps the Minister. I am not so sure about Senator Douglas. Senator Sir John Keane really gives voice to the underlying philosophy of the other Senators. "Let us get down to realities."

"Let us recognise that labour is a commodity and has its price."

That is the essential issue between the Senator and all those with him and the Senators on these benches. "Labour is a commodity."

And capital is a commodity.

Labour is a commodity and has its price, and if there is a supply of labour over and above the demand, then labour must be cut down to the lowest possible level, to the margin of subsistence. Keep a man in being, give him sufficient food to keep up his labour powers, and that is all you need think of, because labour is a commodity. That I suggest is what Senator Wilson thinks in his heart, what Senator Bagwell thinks in his heart, what all those who will vote against this amendment think in their hearts, but it is absolutely opposed to every decent thought, to every decent ethic, to every decent system of morality and to every decent system of religion. Labour is not a commodity.

The amendment does not ask the Minister to fix wages. The amendment gives an additional power to those which he has asked for. There are certain things which the Minister takes to himself as reasons for refusing a licence to an existing service. These things will have to be enquired into, and these things imply regulation on the ground of inefficiency, inadequacy and inability to carry on the service as it ought to be carried on. All require some kind of State intervention. Am I to understand that the opponents of the amendment are against the whole sub-section? If they are against State intervention then they should oppose this Bill.

Hear, hear.

The amendment asks that the Minister should have power to refuse a licence if the conditions of labour are not up to a level which has been agreed upon between employers and employees in decent services—the services which the Minister says he desires shall eventually have a monopoly. I do not know how those who are supporting the Minister can oppose this amendment, because it seeks, by regulation of the transport services, to make easier the establishment of that monopoly. It is a move in that direction admittedly, accompanied by the desire to humanise the conditions of the workers in competing services in the first period before the monopoly stage is reached. Senator Sir John Keane and Senator Wilson appear to have joined the active syndicalists.

Who are they?

Those people who are against political action in industrial affairs, and who say to the workmen: "Organise one hundred per cent. in your trade unions and use your industrial power to force what you wish on the community." That is the position of Senator Sir John Keane and Senator Wilson. "If perchance you are not able to organise your workmen one hundred per cent., when you have fifty per cent. organised you are powerful enough to disorganise the transport services, to make yourself a nuisance, and to put pressure on the employers and on the public. The strike weapon is the weapon you should use." That is what Senator Sir John Keane and Senator Wilson advocate. I wonder do they desire that? Are we to take it from the action of those who oppose this amendment, that it is the will of this Seanad that workmen shall use the strike weapon to disorganise the transport industry, to prevent transport services running unless they are run under decent conditions, to leave political affairs alone and to use the industrial weapon?

Senator Bagwell and Senator Douglas have both pointed to section 11 of the Bill, and Senator Bagwell quoted paragraph (b) of sub-section (2) which sets out that the Minister may refuse to grant a passenger licence "on the ground that, in his opinion, such existing service was not sufficient, in regard to frequency of service or in regard to daily duration of the service or in regard to any matter." The Senator emphasised the phrase "in regard to any other matter" and suggested that that gave the Minister the power which we seek by this amendment to give him. The Senator, however, forgot to continue the sentence —"to meet the requirements of the public." I am not putting forward this amendment for the purpose of meeting the requirements of the public, though it would incidentally increase the safety of the public. There is no power in paragraph (b) of sub-section (2) to enable the Minister to use wages and hours as a reason for refusing a licence.

The two Senators argued that Section 12, paragraph (k), was sufficient for the purpose. I wish I could believe that it is sufficient, but I cannot do so in view of what the Minister said in the other House. Section 12 deals with the attachment of conditions to passenger licences. The Minister, in discussing that matter in the other House, said: "I am pointing out that it is not going to be very effective. My objection to it is that it is not going to have any effect." The Minister points out that the paragraph is no use there. It is not going to be effective; to be effective it ought to be in some other place. If the House is agreeable to putting the amendment I have down into section 11, I am quite agreeable to remove it from section 12. If the Minister assures me that what he said in the Dáil was wrong, I can understand a certain amount of weight being attached to the objections made by the two Senators who have spoken. But I am accepting the Minister's view, that, where it stands, this paragraph is of no use whatever, that it is quite ineffective. I want to make it effective somewhere. Consequently, I have put down the amendment in regard to the issue of licences to existing services and to the issue of licences to new services.

We would like that these matters should be arranged so far as possible between organised workers and organised employers. But no matter how well organised, short of perfection, workers or employers may be, there is always a minority outside. If you desire that non-legal pressure should be brought upon this minority, and if you legalise that we might be very pleased, but we do desire that this matter should be regulated by other means than by the use of the strike weapon. It is perfectly true that the insertion of these amendments is an admission of weakness, to the extent that all the possible drivers and conductors of buses are not organised in a trade union. The more unemployment you have the less is the efficacy of a trade union. The House should ask itself whether it is prepared to use that weapon of hunger—the fact that people are unemployed and, therefore, are willing to work at low wages—as a means of bringing down the wage levels of those who are already at work and are getting decent wages. The employers' contention always is: "We cannot compete with others who are getting preferential treatment by virtue of low wages." Consequently, the pressure is downwards all the time. We are asking the House to make one little effort to humanise and regularise the conditions of employment on the buses to be licensed under this Bill, when passed.

Senator Johnson raised one point which I think requires to be cleared up. He referred to paragraph (k) of Section 12. That section provides that the Minister may attach conditions to passenger licences respecting "the rates of wages and hours of duties of employees and agreements or arrangements in reference thereto in the working of the passenger road service to which a licence relates." Senator Johnson said that that condition could not be operative and, I think, he said that the Minister admitted that in the Dáil. If the Minister admitted that, it is a very serious matter. I do not intend, by my intervention, to spoil in any way the beauty of the discussion between Senator Johnson and Senator Sir John Keane as to whether wages are a commodity or not. Speaking now as a member of the public and as one who uses the roads with a motor car, I think there ought to be efficient regulation as regards the hours worked by these bus drivers. It should be definitely laid down that men in charge of buses ought not to work unduly long hours.

And that they should get one day of rest.

I think there ought to be not alone one day's rest, but that there should be several hours' rest between each journey. I do not know anything so dangerous as a sleepy bus driver. If the Minister admitted in the Dáil that paragraph (k) of Section 12 is not sufficient to prevent the working of bus drivers over an excessive number of hours or on too frequent journeys such as were referred to by Senator Duffy—if that state of affairs is to continue, it is a frightful danger to the public and to the people using the roads. I intend to vote in favour of the amendment. I would ask Senators who intend to vote against it to have the question of hours cleared up; to have from the Minister a clear statement as to whether he thinks paragraph (k) of Section 12 is sufficient to prevent owners of buses from employing men for hours that are too long and from the danger of having worn-out, sleepy drivers in charge of these juggernauts to the general danger of the public.

In regard to the last point made by Senator Comyn, as to whether paragraph (k) of Section 12 is effective or otherwise, might I quote what the Minister said in the course of his speech in the Dáil in regard to it? He said, "May I say, putting it from any angle, that the amendment, if I may use the word, is harmless; and if I might use another word, useless. I will go further and say that it simply will not be effective."

Senator Farren spoke of the amendment.

That is now paragraph (k).

Mr. McGilligan

No.

That is a different thing altogether. A member of the House, who is a learned K.C., made the statement, "if the Minister says so." He did not say that it was not effective. He did not venture an opinion. In my opinion, and I am only a layman, it is effective.

On a point of explanation, I was rather surprised, because I thought that if the Minister attached a condition, and that the condition was not complied with, he might revoke the licence.

Mr. McGilligan

Certainly.

Then it may be that the Minister has no power of revocation?

Mr. McGilligan

I have, distinctly.

In any case it is a matter that ought to be cleared up.

I am not a lawyer, but what we are seeking is to put in Section 11 the words "the Minister shall." In Section 12 the Minister may do any of the following things therein set out or he may not. There is a difference.

Mr. McGilligan

I want to preface my remarks by saying, in regard to labour, that I do not share the philosophy alleged by Senator Johnson to be that of Senator Sir John Keane and of others. So far as this amendment is concerned, I am clearly of opinion that paragraph (k) of Section 12 is sufficient. In a moment I will refer to the remarks that I made in the Dáil dealing with it. First of all it has been objected to paragraph (k) of Section 12 that it only has relation to the attachment of conditions once a licence has been granted, whereas this amendment wants to stop the granting of a licence. I think that I can show in a moment that there is not much difference between these two things. Secondly, I expected to have it said that it is somewhere in the penumbra of the consciousness of those moving the amendment that section 12 gives considerable power to the Minister to grant a passenger licence. He may attach certain conditions. With regard to the two points, so far as the Minister is concerned he is about equal as between the two amendments. Under the amendment as put down a licence may be refused on the grounds that "in his opinion"—so that the same judge is to act as between the two types of amendments. The Minister may attach conditions if he thinks they are required, or at any rate he may refuse a licence if he thinks that the hours are unduly long or the wages unduly low.

I do not think there is any difference on the point of preventing the Minister from granting a licence. In fact it does not prevent him. It gives him power. It is entirely at his discretion to refuse a licence if certain conditions are not complied with. This amendment refers to hours of duty worked. That is peculiarly in the past tense, but by contrast it is intended that it shall be applicable by reference backwards and forwards. So far as reference backwards is concerned, my attitude is that I prefer to have it that the licence must be granted if the applicant has for the previous twelve months been on the road running a service efficiently and adequately. If he has been running it unsatisfactorily the Minister operating the Act can attach conditions at once. If the man concerned cannot comply with the conditions attached, then he has to get off the road. I think further it would be slightly inequitable to refuse a man a licence on the ground that he had not observed certain standards in regard to wages and hours which had not been previously laid down.

I think that the main desire of those moving the amendment is to look to the future. They are not so much concerned with the past. The future is safeguarded in regard to paragraph (k) Section 12. The only point that has been made against it is something that I said in the Dáil. I notice that from the three or four columns of matter that I spoke in the Dáil only one particular phrase has been pulled out. Senator Wilson jumped to the first point that I was speaking against the insertion of a particular amendment, not exactly this, in another part of the Bill.

It was moved to put the particular amendment into Section 12 at the point where paragraph (k) went. As the Senator will see if he reads it my argument was founded on that. At any rate that argument referred to wages fixed in a particular way. To meet the distinction in the clause, I said that in so far as it related to hours of duty there was some value in it. I said in so far as it related to agreements, either referring to wages or hours of duty, there was value in it, but that in regard to standards of wages, which were left to me to be decided, it was ineffective. I said that the minimum would have to be fixed so low that it would give a bad indication to good bus proprietors as to what they might do. On the amendment which was accepted and which stands as paragraph (k) of Section 12, I stated in the Dáil: "In regard to hours of duty I do say that there is a possibility that that might not be as ineffective as the rest. I do not know what this means exactly—‘agreements or arrangements in reference thereto.' If that means something corresponding to what is in the Railways Act of 1924, then I think it may be of use. The Act of 1924 provides, or at least establishes, this sort of procedure, that there should be registered agreements that were entered into as between the Unions and the Companies and that where these agreements were registered they should be brought within the framework of the Act. If this amendment means the same thing it may be of use." Similarly I said: "The amendment will have some use in relation to the hours of duty. It may be of some use in relation to either hours or wages where these things are in particular areas covered by agreements entered into by the unions and the men, because possibly it will have some good effect in these cases ... I accept it for what it is worth." At any rate the clause is there as it stands. It gives the Minister power to attach these conditions. The amendment gives the Minister discretion as to whether he is going to refuse a licence on the ground of these abuses or not. If you have an unsympathetic Minister he is not going to refuse a licence or to attach conditions. If he is going to be sympathetically disposed from the Senator's angle, he can attach conditions and impose regulations, both as regards wages and hours of duty. Therefore I think paragraph (k) meets the whole situation.

I think it is necessary to make some comment on what the Minister has said, not on the conclusion he arrived at but on the statements in regard to the course of procedure which led to the insertion of the amendment. Originally there were a number of amendments put down in respect of other sections of the Bill with something like the same object in view.

Mr. McGilligan

But none in relation to Section 11.

None in relation to Section 12, except one not dealing with this purpose at all. There was another amendment put down in relation to Section 11. There was no amendment put down in this matter to Section 12, but there were later amendments, and it was intimated that they were perhaps outside the scope of the Bill, and the actual amendment that is now inserted in the Bill was submitted almost at the last moment. That was the amendment to Section 12 which would be permissible under the Rules of Order in the Dáil, and it is that amendment which now appears in the Bill, and which the Minister said as has been quoted, that he accepted for what it is worth. He was not concerned. I was not able to understand the arguments of the Minister. I was not able to understand why it was not of some value in Section 12 if it gave the Minister power to attach conditions to licences, but I give him credit for knowing the working of his Department and what powers he would have, if he had the will, under the amendment. But in view of what he said, right from the beginning to the end of the discussion, belittling the value of it even to effect what was desired. I came to the conclusion, under my reading of the Bill as it passed the Dáil, that this sub-section was defective. The Minister was satisfied that it was not going to do any good. It was quite harmless and innocuous, so we sought to get something in the section which was of benefit. Now we have the Minister telling us it may be of benefit. It may be of equal value as a condition attached to the licence, as it would be if inserted in Section 11. Frankly and openly I admit at once that everything depends on the discretion of the Minister. This is not a Bill placing obligations on the Minister in regard to these things. It is a Bill giving power, and I would be delighted if I could think that the Minister would take into account the conditions under which employees are expected to be employed in regard to wages and hours, and that there will be attached to the licence certain conditions in these respects. I do not know whether we can take it from the Minister that there would be an inclination in that direction if he remains in his present position. I would like to have that indication. If we had it, I do not think we need press the amendment, but in the absence of it, I think we will have to.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 18; Níl, 24.

Tá.

  • Chléirigh, Caitlín Bean Uí.
  • Comyn, K.C., Michael.
  • Connolly, Joseph.
  • Cummins, William.
  • Dowdall, J.C.
  • Duffy, Michael.
  • Farren, Thomas.
  • Foran, Thomas.
  • Griffith, Sir John Purser.
  • Johnson, Thomas.
  • MacEllin, Seán E.
  • Moore, Colonel.
  • O'Farrell, John T.
  • O'Neill, L.
  • Quirke, William.
  • Robinson, David L.
  • Robinson, Séamus.
  • Ryan, Séamus.

Níl.

  • Bagwell, John.
  • Bellingham, Sir Edward.
  • Bigger, Sir Edward Coey.
  • Browne, Miss K.
  • Costello, Mrs.
  • Counihan, John C.
  • Crosbie, George.
  • Desart, The Countess of.
  • Dillon, James.
  • Douglas, James G.
  • Fanning, Michael.
  • Garahan, Hugh.
  • Granard, The Earl of.
  • Keane, Sir John.
  • Kennedy, Cornelius.
  • MacKean, James.
  • Milroy, Seán.
  • O'Connor, Joseph.
  • O'Hanlon, M.F.
  • O'Sullivan, Dr. William.
  • Parkinson, James J.
  • Phaoraigh, Siobhán Bean an.
  • Toal, Thomas.
  • Wilson, Richard.
Tellers: Tá, Senators O'Farrell and Johnson; Níl, Senators Bagwell and Wilson.
Amendment declared lost.

I move amendment 3:—

Section 11, sub-section (3). To add at the end of the sub-section a new paragraph as follows:—

"(d) whether the rates of wages and the hours of duty of the drivers and conductors to be employed in the proposed service are in the case of wages unduly low and in the case of hours of duty unduly long, and are such as to give an unfair advantage over other services on or in the neighbourhood of the route of the proposed service in respect of which the rates of wages and hours of duty are regulated by agreements between the employers and the trade unions representing their employees."

I would ask permission of the Seanad to amend this so that it would apply to hours of duty only, leaving out references to rates of wages. Have I the permission of the Seanad to that?

Cathaoirleach

Does the House agree that the amendment should be altered to leave out rates of wages?

We do not agree.

Cathaoirleach

I am afraid if there is not agreement we cannot allow you to alter the amendment.

I bow to the superior wisdom of Senator Wilson. The amendment that has been disposed of dealt with the position of existing services. This deals with new services. Whatever might have been said against the imposition of responsibility in this matter in respect to existing services, I think the case for new services is a much stronger one. That is to say, that if there are people coming along asking for licences to carry on a new service it is reasonable that the position of the employees in that service should be considered, and that the licence might be refused on the grounds stated in the amendment, that the wages and hours proposed to be applicable create an unfair competition with those already existing services. I do not think I need argue the case again, but it will be obvious to any Senator who has his mind open in the matter that, in regard to the position of an applicant for a new service, if he is going to apply for a licence to run in competition with certain existing services, it is surely reasonable that the terms on which the persons who are going to be engaged in that service should be employed should be taken into account by the Minister before issuing a licence. I was quite prepared to ask the House simply to take into account the hours of duty, but as the House is not willing to give me that permission, I must ask that the amendment be put forward in the case of the new services in accordance with the terms of the amendment on the paper.

I should like the Minister to state if he can give any idea of his attitude towards a new service of this kind where two brothers want to run a service. Of course they can camouflage wages to any extent. There is no test of wages. There is a test of hours alone. I think it would be wrong that any pioneer enterprise of that kind should be, in any way, limited. It has been one of the most refreshing features to me to see the variety of buses around Dublin. Some of them are unregulated, but it rejoiced my heart to see them with those names Brown, Carmel, Pioneer, etc. It showed a proper pioneer spirit to see the way they are being set up. I am not in favour of those large aggregations of capital which Senator Johnson suggests I have a sinister regard for. I like to see one man get ahead with due regard for public safety.

You do not. You must be careful.

Provided public safety is assured. That is the way of life and you can never get away from it, in this modern life. I wish the Minister would give an indication as to how he would regard applicants of this kind. If those are not to be encouraged it is to my mind a blow at enterprise.

I can think of reasons against having one man or two men starting a single bus company, but I do not propose to deal with them. The Minister will be able to do so, but I cannot see any difference in this amendment of Senator Johnson in principle as against the other. I still believe that a proper method of controlling hours, which is what he is concerned with, is by setting out conditions governing the maximum hours to be permitted and putting them in the licence and not by putting in specific cases. I believe the proper way to deal with hours is to put down conditions. If the Minister is not able to do that I think the proper thing for the State is to make conditions governing hours and to put those in the licence.

Mr. McGilligan

I have the same reply to this as I made previously with regard to paragraph (k) of Section 12 because of the power that is required. I point out also that in Section 11 I have absolute discretion to grant or to refuse an application for a passenger licence. Paragraph 3, which calls attention to certain things, says that the Minister shall (without prejudice to the absolute discretion conferred on him by the first sub-section of this section) have regard to the following matters, that is to say. I personally would much prefer to see any items regarding rates of wages and hours of duty dealt with by way of an attachment of the conditions if there is to be any regulation of this at all. Certainly I think there ought to be such a regulation as would do away with some of the scandalous abuses I have heard of. I have not very much experience of but I heard of the extraordinary hours of work being imposed on some of these people who are not proprietors. Where the proprietor decides to work a certain length of time himself, subject to this that we should see to the safety of the public, that person should be allowed to work and encouraged to work as much as he can. I would much prefer to stand by paragraph (k) of Section 12.

Senator Sir John Keane puts the point of the two brothers who propose to run a bus service. With regard to them I have not any definite attitude because it will depend entirely on the circumstances. There might be remote areas in the country where one would look to the small man working on his own where he would be the only person where the traffic is not very much and where it would require a great deal of enterprise and very hard work on the part of one person or two at a maximum to get a service run there. There that person would be favoured, but I think in the main the single man or one or two men will not be very much favoured in the administration of this Bill.

I have in mind cases that I know in England where certain outlying villages are served by bi-weekly services in market towns. The proprietor has other work. It is suggested that that class of person, which common sense fits into the realities of life, is not to be given ample scope under this new system. Perhaps I was rather lacking in diligence when I did not take the Minister up on the Second Reading when he pictured our having the whole transport organisation in the hands of three rather big companies, one in the Dublin area and two outside it. I should have perhaps been more apt then. Surely it is not contemplated that these big capitalist organisations should cater for these small outlying villages that might be quite satisfied with a bi-weekly service to a central town? If that sort of thing is going to be brought about by this Bill it will be very bad for the future of transport and for the general travelling public.

Mr. McGilligan

When I did speak of three zones I spoke of one as being occupied mainly by the Great Southern Railways Company and its allied services. I was careful to add plus such number of bus proprietors as have given good service and can show that they will continue to give good and sufficient service. I made that reservation in all my speeches on this matter.

I would like to know from the Minister whether it is his intention to make use of paragraph (k) with regard to the granting of new licences, whether it is his intention that there shall be insisted on a rest day in the week.

Mr. McGilligan

That is going to be imposed by law in the Traffic Bill.

It is not in this.

Mr. McGilligan

A weekly rest day will certainly be insisted on. It is an actual clause in the Road Traffic Bill.

I think I made a mistake when I said the men had to work 365 days a year. I forgot that they get a holiday every four years. They will have one this year.

There is only one remark that I want to make. It is, if the Minister has this absolute discretion, I wonder why all these subsections and paragraphs are in the Bill at all. I take it the purpose is to indicate to the Minister for the time being what the intentions of the Legislature were, at least to give a pointer to the Minister in the exercise of his discretion. When the Minister points out, in objecting to an amendment of this kind, that in any case he has an absolute discretion in all the other matters, if his argument has any value at all, he need only have a section saying: "The Minister shall have an absolute discretion to grant or refuse an application for any passenger licence," and that would have been quite sufficient. I assume there is some value in putting in these indications of the will of the Legislature to the Minister for the time being, even though he has a discretion as to how he shall apply them. Consequently, we desire to add to the number of things which he should take into account this question of hours and wages.

Mr. McGilligan

I want to reply to that very briefly. This piece of legislation was in fact originally drafted with the opening paragraph as it is: "The Minister shall have absolute discretion subject to the provisions of the section." The original provision had only this, with regard to the company that was already on the road for a year, giving adequate and efficient service. Then we decided to put in these other points. I call attention to paragraph (c) "whether the organisation and equipment at the disposal of the person making the application are sufficient to enable him to carry on the proposed service in accordance with the conditions which the Minister considers should be inserted in the passenger licence to which such application relates." Surely that carries terms of reference to Section 12, where we have inserted this item with regard to wages and hours?

That is quite satisfactory, but we had your assertions in the Dáil——

Mr. McGilligan

Assertions against a particular amendment, not this.

The amendment we are discussing.

Mr. McGilligan

The Senator will remember that the Ceann Comhairle drew attention to the fact that there were something like four amendments put down. He suggested that three were out of order and asked that one should be discussed. We were discussing the four amendments.

Were not three ruled out?

Mr. McGilligan

There were four amendments proposed, three of which were ruled by the Ceann Comhairle to be out of order. We were allowed to discuss what was intended. At one time, Deputy O'Connell either with drew the particular amendment that was under discussion or put up another. The Ceann Comhairle, as a matter of fact, at that point made an explanation. He said he had fastened on one that seemed to meet the case. These were the circumstances in which I spoke.

Amendment put and declared lost.
Section 11 put and agreed to.
SECTION 12.

I move amendment 4:

New Section. Before Section 12 to insert a new section as follows:—

12. Where a person who carried on an existing service as defined in the preceding section is refused a licence, such person shall be permitted to continue such service for a period of twelve months from the date of refusal or alternatively shall be entitled to fair and reasonable compensation, such compensation to be fixed by the Minister and payable out of public funds. All moneys paid for such compensation shall be repayable by surviving and new licensees under such conditions of amount and time as the Minister may direct.

I am rather heartened in moving this amendment by the remarks of Senator Sir John Keane in regard to the enterprise of the smaller bus proprietors, in which views I might say candidly I have always shared, but it is fairly clear now, under this Bill, that most of these smaller proprietors will be put off the roads at very considerable loss to themselves. The Minister was very frank in telling us that they anticipated that this traffic would go into the hands of three large undertakings with others that might be sanctioned. It is fairly clear that he secured to some extent a monopoly for three powerful organisations and that a number of smaller individuals will be severely financially injured. My amendment is to minimise, so far as possible, the financial loss to these people. If a small proprietor is refused a licence a bus or a couple of buses will be on his hands, absolutely an unmarketable asset. Most of us know pretty well those buses are frequently only taken on on the hire-purchase system, and in addition to being knocked out of business the man may possibly be bankrupted. Not only will he not be able to carry on his existing business but he will be precluded from going into another line of business that may be open to him.

The amendment is to the effect that such a man, who has an existing service and who is now refused a licence, may, at the option of the Minister, run his bus for a period of 12 months or, alternatively, that he be granted a sum as compensation, such compensation to be fixed by the Minister out of moneys payable out of the public funds, and to have this compensation recouped to the Exchequer by instalments from the surviving licensees or by the new licensees. I think it is a perfectly fair and equitable proposal and I will now ask the House to give an assent to it.

I have some sympathy with the view expressed by the mover of the amendment, but I am against the amendment because I do not think it is a practicable amendment. There would be hard cases, perhaps, but if this amendment were carried it would practically set up a problem which would be difficult of solution. It would be very difficult to assess the amount of compensation to be paid. All this would lend itself to a very great deal of discussion, expense, and so on, before the matter was wound up. I might suggest that the House should have regard to the fact that if a licence is refused it is refused for very good reasons. Everybody knows what these reasons are; they are good and sufficient reasons. I suggest to the House, therefore, that the amendment is one which should not be passed.

Mr. McGilligan

I was going to ask at the beginning if this amendment were in order. In the first place the amendment imposes a charge on the public funds, or it proposes to impose a charge on them. I am not sure if an amendment of this kind can be moved by a Senator. I am assuming, however, that as the amendment has been allowed to go on, it is in order. The arguments made for it do not impress me. Senator Dowdall here presents himself in various disguises to this House. Sometimes he presents himself to the House as a protectionist and sometimes as a life-long free trader.

Consistency is not the Minister's strong point.

Mr. McGilligan

Except that I have an extremely good record on that point as compared with certain other people. The Senator generally expresses himself as being against people who have sent things into this country, and I have heard his Party, if not himself, on more than one occasion talk about the bait held out by the hire-purchase system. He now tells us that most of these buses for which he seeks to get compensation have been brought in here on the hire-purchase system. Then they are all the more easily got rid of. The Senator is running counter to the policy of his Party as explained in the Dáil. The idea of his Party was that these buses were to be ruthlessly got rid of, and that they should be wiped off the roads.

Senator Bagwell put up another type of argument. That was on the merits. This refers to the type of bus-owner who has been refused a licence. Why? On the grounds that he has been running an unsatisfactory service. Senator Dowdall thinks that that is the reason why we should compensate him—we should compensate a man who has been running an unsatisfactory service, and because he was doing so failed to get a licence. I do not think it is fair, as the Senator suggests, that such an owner should be compensated by other people. That is quite unfair.

The Minister in his opening statement was quite frank and clear about it that one of his objects was to create such a position as would enable the railway companies to run buses free from existing restriction and therefore to enable new powerful licensees to get a practical monopoly. It is an injustice that those people who were allowed to invest their money freely should now be faced with the position that legislation is being brought in to knock them off the road. I know that this amendment is in order. But whether this amendment is the best way in which the matter should be dealt with is a thing to which I am not pinning myself. I am prepared to assent to any form of amendment which will give consideration to people who had enterprise to cater for a necessary public service.

The debate on this amendment is an example of unreality. There is a sort of feeling in the Seanad that the Bill cannot be amended on account of other reactions. I feel, therefore, that there is an unreality about it. I honestly believe that there is a great deal in what the Senator has stated. It is unjust to refuse any person who is running a service at the present time a renewal of his licence without giving him an opportunity of winding up. If the Senate were dealing with a Bill like this in normal and more realistic times and under more realistic conditions it would examine more closely than it does now the spirit of this amendment.

Amendment put and negatived.

I move amendment 5.

Section 12. Before paragraph (b) to insert a new paragraph as follows:—

"(b) the provision of waiting-rooms and sanitary accommodation for passengers at appropriate intervals on the route of such service."

This amendment proposes that one of the conditions which the Minister may attach to the granting of a licence shall be the provision of waiting-rooms and sanitary accommodation for passengers at appropriate intervals along the route on each service. I think it will be agreed that that is a reasonable condition. We are to-day going back to very primitive conditions so far as sanitary accommodation is concerned in connection with road transport. Take the position of a bus setting out from Dublin to Cork, a distance of 160 miles, and no provision is made for waiting-rooms or sanitary accommodation of any kind. It is not sufficient to pull up outside a public house. That may meet the requirements of men who are not over particular, but it does not meet the travelling requirements of women and children. This would apply pretty well entirely to any long service route. The Minister has told us that he hopes that two of these zones which will cover the long distance routes will eventually be controlled by the two railway companies. Now the railway companies had the railway stations generally convenient to towns, and they could easily avail of the accommodation already there in their waiting-rooms, and these could be fitted in with the bus services. I do believe that when the State does proceed to make regulations with regard to transport and the issuing of licences for transport this should be one of the conditions. The railway company would not be allowed to run a service without having certain sanitary accommodation.

To-day where there is much competition with regard to transport, and when we have become more modern with regard to hygiene it is deplorable that there is not a waiting-room and no sanitary accommodation of any kind from the time a person leaves until he reaches his destination, unless he avails of the charity of the publican or the hotel proprietor. The travelling public should not be at the mercy of people whom they are not paying and with whom they have no contract. I would earnestly commend this amendment to the consideration of the House and to the consideration of the Minister. I know that there are restrictions, and the Minister would not probably accept anything at all that would alter this Bill, but if the Minister cannot accept some of those amendments then I put it to him that he might agree to an adjournment until after the election. It is deplorable to find, after the length of time during which this Bill has been in preparation, that we should here now in the teeth of an election be told that the matter cannot get consideration because of political necessity.

Very many motives have been imputed in this debate. Perhaps the unkindest of all is the proposition that some of us are opposing amendments because we desire no amendment to be carried. I can assure the House that so far as I am concerned I speak with complete innocence on every amendment. I am opposing this amendment on the merits. I can conceive where people can be put to inconvenience through the circumstances of their transport, but that we should insert amendments of this kind which practically impose on the Minister the obligation of looking into the whole question of the provision of waiting-rooms and sanitary accommodation for road services, is, to my mind, really going a great deal too far. It seems to me to be absurd.

How did people travel on the roads before motor buses came? They were accustomed to travel in traps, horse-drawn vehicles, pony or donkey-carts. Was it necessary in those times to provide sanitary accommodation? Of course it was not. At the moment those people travel a considerable distance in order to join the bus. In the towns there are sanitary conveniences adequate for the needs of the people.

I think it would be unjust further to burden this service. It would make this method of transport more expensive if this accommodation were to be provided, because in order to provide it the ground would have to be properly drained and kept. In my own experience as general manager of a railway company I found that it was necessary, in the case of waiting-rooms and sanitary conveniences, to employ a person to look after these places, because otherwise they would be abused and rendered in such a disgusting condition that they would be no use to any respectable person.

I am against this proposal, because it would mean making these arrangements all along the country roads, and that would cost a great deal of money. Besides, it would necessitate employing some person to look after each place, as otherwise they would very soon become unfit for use.

Just as in the case of other amendments, Senator Bagwell is "agin" this amendment. His speech is a deplorable example of the attitude of a general manager of a railway in regard to modern requirements. The last day he boasted that he had been general manager for fifteen years. He now gives us his idea of what modern travelling conditions should be. How, he asks, did our forefathers do without lavatories? A speech like that from an ignorant farmer from the backwoods would be understandable, but, coming from a man of the standing of Senator Bagwell, who was general manager of an important railway for fifteen years, it is really extraordinary. It is a remarkable example of the attitude of the railways, and probably it is one explanation of their decay to-day. Laissez faire or “Paddy-go-easy” has been the policy adopted, and Senator Bagwell wants to perpetuate that by introducing it into the new form of transport.

In view of what we have heard from the Senator, we need not be surprised that to-day the railways are crying out for assistance. As far as I can see, their position is due to lack of enterprise, and we have had a glaring example of that in this debate as far as an ex-general manager is concerned. Senator Bagwell makes a comparison of present and past travelling conditions. He talks of a pony-trap taking people to market, and he compares that with a family going by bus a distance of 160 miles, say to Cork! Surely there is no comparison!

The Senator says that there should not be any sanitary accommodation, because it would be necessary to have somebody to attend to it. Did anyone ever hear such an argument advanced seriously against the establishment of modern hygienic conditions? The amendment suggests the introduction of certain conditions, and the Minister would be failing in his duty if he omitted to include them in this measure.

I am sure everyone would be in sympathy with Senator O'Farrell's proposal if it were at all practicable. The adoption of this suggestion would mean the erection of waiting-rooms and sanitary conveniences all along the road to Cork. I agree that that would be most desirable and necessary if it could be done, but I do not see how it can be done. I daresay everyone would like to see it done if it were at all economically feasible.

Senator O'Farrell invariably takes an extreme viewpoint, and to-day he is certainly taking the extreme when he talks of a journey from here to Cork. Senator Bagwell took the extreme view on the other side when he spoke of a pony trap. The real point at issue comes in between these extremes. I contend that the Minister has the necessary power under Section 11 (b). He can refuse a licence on the grounds that in his opinion the service is not sufficient in regard to frequency or daily duration or "in regard to any other matter." There is ample power contained in the Bill, and it is at the discretion of the Minister to insist on all the things that modern civilisation demands.

Whether this amendment passes or not, I think we should be all very glad that attention has been drawn to the great scandal that exists. Road transport services are utilised to carry people distances of 70 to 170 miles without suitable accommodation being provided. The Minister's attention has, by means of this amendment, been directed to a grave necessity, and we all hope that something will be done. So far as difficulties are concerned, everything you attack, if it is new, presents a difficulty. Everything you attack in this world presents a difficulty.

With regard to setting up lavatories at the main stopping places I do not think much difficulty should be experienced. It was never thought that these conveniences should be set up on country roads. I think in villages and towns there would be no great difficulty experienced. No reasonable objection could be put forward, even on the ground of expense. If shops were given a small amount I am sure they would provide reasonable accommodation, particularly for women and children. The Minister has the necessary power, and I am sure he will exercise it.

I do hope that we will not shirk our duty in the matter of a statutory obligation of this kind. My experience in human affairs leads me to believe that all these things ultimately settle themselves. If there is a demand for this accommodation, and if there is any element of competition, all these things will arrange themselves. The Senator starts out as if he were living in some sort of detached academic atmosphere, imagining all the modern things that we should have. To my mind this is all the outcome of the doctrine of Karl Marx that everybody should have everything straight away, cut and dried. Life is not directed that way; it is a process of evolution. For my part I am unimaginative. This proposal never suggested itself to me; it never occurred to me until the Senator got up that there was any difficulty about this matter. I have travelled miles on buses and I never heard any mention of it. To carry this proposal into effect would mean a huge amount of expense, and the cost of travelling would be increased. The railways have met with very heavy losses and, of course, shareholders have suffered. I do think we should not carry matters to extremes; we should let this private enterprise system have a fair run.

Mr. McGilligan

I would like to point out that Section 12 gives me sufficient power to deal with this matter if it is found necessary to deal with it at all. "Whenever the Minister grants a passenger licence he may attach to such licence such conditions as he shall think proper...." He may impose conditions in respect of several matters. There is power enough in Section 12 if it is required. I am not sure that it will be used. It will not be used in the beginning. I think the way in which one will find this matter having effect will be that the railway-controlled buses will be able to give accommodation, such as waiting-rooms, better than can be provided otherwise, and that will be another point in their favour.

With regard to the point raised by Senator Wilson, I would not under any conditions refuse to grant a licence to a company that was otherwise satisfactory on the grounds mentioned in the amendment. There is power enough if the matter has to be dealt with, but as I say it will arise later.

Amendment put and negatived.

Amendment 6 not moved.
Sections 12 to 30 inclusive put and agreed to.

I move amendment 7:

New section. After Section 30 to insert a new section as follows:

"31.—(1) A railway company to which this Part of this Act applies shall keep such accounts and make such returns in relation to road transport business as the Minister shall from time to time direct.

(2) A railway company which has acquired the whole or any part of or any share or interest in the capital or undertaking of a company carrying on the business of road transport shall include in its annual statement of accounts issued to its stock or shareholders a copy of the last published Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss Account of such company.

(3) A company which fails to comply with the provisions of this section shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding five pounds for every day during which such failure continues."

The proposed new section deals with railway companies who run road motor services, and provides that they shall keep and furnish such accounts as the Minister shall direct. The important part of the amendment is paragraph 2. I may say that I did not put down this amendment without consultation with some important railway shareholders. Railway companies embarking upon road transport have either to pledge their credit or use the reserves of the railway undertaking itself to purchase these road transport undertakings. In certain cases, instead of buying and running the buses under the name of the railway company they acquire a controlling interest in another company. Take, for example, the Great Southern Railways Company, which owns the Irish Omnibus Company. There is a certain arrangement whereby the profit or loss of the road transport section is shared by the railway company. So far nothing has been shared by the railway company except losses. The railway company has had to make up very big losses. When the shareholders meet once a year they have no opportunity, good, bad or indifferent, of discussing the manner in which the road transport section has been run, which was purchased with their money or through their credit. They cannot see whether it is run efficiently or otherwise. They have got nothing to do except merely to make up the losses. All that appears on the balance sheet is an item like this: "Balance of payment to or by other undertakings under working agreement in respect of working expenses," and you see a loss of £33,246, which the railway company has to make up. They have nothing to do but to make it up. They cannot discuss it. There is no statement of accounts of the road transport company which they own. That transport company is run as a private company which does not issue a public balance sheet or statement of accounts. There is no criticism of its working. It is, in my opinion, an absolutely irregular form of commercial transaction, and involves a grave abuse of the reserves of the railway shareholders, and, incidentally, of the railway employees, whose productive efforts have gone to make up the deficit.

The Railway (Road Motor Services) Act, 1927, in Section 8, contains a provision compelling the railway companies which run a road motor service under the Act to keep such accounts and make such returns in relation to such services as the Minister shall from time to time direct. They do that in regard to those particular services that they run themselves definitely as Great Southern Railway services, but where they made an agreement with another company, or used their reserves to purchase a company and run it under its own name, they made no return. So that, in fact, they are not accounting to the people who supply the cash or the credit for the running of the services, which might involve a very considerable loss. I have discussed this with shareholders who are quite dissatisfied with the present position and who believe that this amendment should be inserted in the interests of the railway company and in the interests of commercial integrity.

Mr. McGilligan

I was hoping to hear from the Senator any of the points, say, on which he had found Section 22 of this Act deficient, because I have myself adverted to some defects in the accounts to which the Senator has referred and had thought that we had provided for the future sufficiently well by what is contained in Section 22. The Senator has referred to Section 8 of the 1927 Act. We go much further in Section 22 as we take power by regulations to prescribe the accounts to be kept by every person carrying on a passenger road service, not merely a railway company owning such a service. We go much further in sub-section (3), because we take power to publish, as and when it seems proper, all or any returns made under the section and also statistics compiled from such returns. I had thought that Section 22 at least enabled the Minister to get everything he wanted in the way of accounts. I hesitate to ask the Seanad to consent to the passing of the amendment in this form, because the opening part merely says that a railway company shall keep such accounts and make such returns as the Minister shall from time to time direct. The amendment goes on to be quite mandatory in the second clause which says that a railway company which has done certain things shall include in its annual statement of accounts a statement of certain things. If there are shareholders dissatisfied with the way returns are published at present they can, if they are sufficiently numerous, get a change made in that. Even if they are not sufficiently numerous to sway the directors to carry out their desires in the future, if they are a sufficiently numerous body in other respects they can certainly get regulations made which will force on the company the keeping of the accounts and they can get them from the Ministers themselves in published form. I think Section 22 meets everything that the Senator has in mind.

Section 22 depends on the type of regulation which the Minister will make. Largely what he wants is a return showing the number of passengers carried, the number of miles run, and the receipts per passenger and so on. These are of absolutely no use to people who have invested money, and who want a full statement of accounts. They want to know what the expenditure in regard to the various branches of working has been. They want to be able to see for themselves whether there has been waste or inefficiency, and so on. The railway company is different from an ordinary bus company, particularly where it has a working agreement with, or has purchased, another company but run it in the old name. The railway shareholder has only his railway balance sheet before him. It is all very well to say that the shareholders should make certain demands. Hardly one in 500 shareholders turns up at the meetings. The shareholders send their proxies to be used by the directors. A director naturally is not going to put himself to any trouble, and he is going to use the proxies against the people who are present at the meeting if he thinks their demands are unreasonable or inconvenient. I should like to know if the sort of accounts the Minister proposes to ask firms to keep is the type of accounts that already he has asked them to make returns of? He will agree that they have been merely certain statistics showing the number of passengers carried, etc.

Mr. McGilligan

We have in mind the getting of much more information than what is ordinarily supplied to us. I do not think that the Senator should insist too much upon what was done in the past by, say, a railway-owned bus concern where the ownership was absolutely clear or less clear than it might have been, because obviously the accounts would have been kept according to the circumstances of the arrangement. There will be no necessity for that type of arrangement in the future. There will be a more clear-cut and direct association possible where you aim at that type of return that the Senator has in the main been thinking of.

In view of that statement, I shall ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment 8:

New section. After Section 30 to insert a new section as follows:—

"31.—(1) If the whole of the capital of a company carrying on the business of road transport is acquired by a railway company the name of such railway company shall be exhibited upon all vehicles used by, and inserted in all notices, business letters and documents issued by such road transport company in such manner as shall reasonably indicate that the ownership of the capital of such road transport company is vested in such railway company.

(2) A company which fails to comply with the provisions of this section shall be guilty of an offence under this section, and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding five pounds for every day during which such failure continues."

This amendment may appear a bit complicated. I do not know whether the wording will give effect to what is required. The effect of it is, in any case, that where a railway company owns the whole of the stocks and shares of a particular bus company, the railway company shall put its name on the buses, on its billheads and tickets and so on. I am moving that because of the lamentable experience we have had of the present practice. You have for instance the railway company completely owning two road transport services, one a passenger road service and the other a merchandise service, running them under their original names. They have separate headquarters, separate officers, separate directors, and all the appendages an ordinary company has. Directors of the railway companies are appointed as directors of these companies also, some three or four of them in each particular case, and they get double fees for acting in this capacity. One director, for instance, who acts as managing director in this little road transport company gets £1,400 a year free of income tax. He draws his salary also as a railway director, and the same sort of thing applies throughout. It is a lamentable exhibition of waste at a time when economy is so necessary and when railwaymen and others are being thrown out of employment on the ground of financial stringency. Worse even than the waste is the lack of coherence or co-ordination in the policy of those companies. Needless to say, if you set up a separate concern like a road transport company, although it belongs to the railway company, it has its own officers and directors, and their one object is to make that part of the concern a success, even at the expense of the railway, which is the parent company. I gave an example of this on the last day. An agent from one of these transport sections goes down on instructions from his manager to get a railway clerk to go out and canvass traffic from the railway that bought this road section in order to protect the railway interests. That is going on all over the place. Railwaymen go out and canvass traffic and get it at reasonable rates. Then the representative of their own road section comes along and wins it back or gets it because he offers more favourable terms. The tendency in this Bill is to encourage railways to develop on the roads rather than on the rails—a lamentable tendency in my opinion— and to induce these companies to compete with their own parent company. We want to end that.

If there is to be a service that will be economical and efficient there should be unity of policy between the railway and its road transport section. There should be only one management, one board of directors. Under the same management, apart from any question of unity of policy, it would at least save an enormous amount of unnecessary expense and duplication and triplication of salaries such as exist at the present time.

This system is creating an immense amount of unrest throughout the railways. Because when the men have been asked to make sacrifices and to work four days a week instead of six days, and take four days' pay when they have been asked to accept dismissal and the prospect of starvation, to see one man draw two or three large sums in salaries and a man with a huge pension brought back and paid a salary has a maddening effect upon the four or five thousand men involved. If the Minister cannot accept this particular proposal I hope he will at all events use his power to insist upon the elimination of this wasteful system that exists in regard to transport throughout the greater part of the Free State at the present time.

When I hear Senator O'Farrell talking about economy I am reminded of Satan reproving sin, because of the disparity of the wages paid on the railways to those earned by the workers in primary industries. I know he stands solid behind those wages which are, I suggest, at the root of the burden placed on the commercial community and on trade, and are at the root of the whole railway trouble. With regard to this amendment it seems to try by a side wind to defeat the whole principle of company law. There is power under company law for one company to hold an interest in another. I cannot see how it would be just to single out railway companies who wish to control bus companies for special treatment on these lines. Moreover, I want to point out that the amendment is wholly ineffective because it says "the whole of the capital." Of course we know a railway company could control a bus company without owning the whole of the capital. As long as it has 51 per cent. control, it can impose its conditions. I suggest that the whole of this is reactionary and defeats what is given in this Bill, and that is a return to freedom of operation in regard to road services. It shakes off the trammels that are imposing the burden that has brought the railways to their present deplorable condition.

Mr. McGilligan

Again I am going to raise the question of Section 12, which gives me power to attack two types of conditions to passenger licences. This matter can be dealt with under that section. I give the Senator this assurance: that it is the type of regulation which I would insist on in the main. I do not want to go into the details which he has gone, but I do think it is better to have the road auxiliaries of any big company identified as such. I am not sure it is going to lead immediately to the economies the Senator has spoken of, but it may at any rate, by a certain process of ridicule, lead away from some of the more absurd things that are happening. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the statement, but the statement was made to me that a trader in one town was quoted a rate by the railway company, and immediately after he was quoted that figure he was canvassed by an I.O.C. canvasser who offered a lesser rate, and within an hour or so after he was canvassed by Messrs. J. Wallis and Company, who quoted a third rate. I do know that a handbill was issued by the I.O.C. Company in connection with Fairyhouse Races, with the slogan to people to travel by cars with the guarantee that they would not be left two miles from the course, which was a slap in the eye to the Great Southern Railways Company. If by putting the name of the railway company or tramway company on all vehicles owned by them it would eliminate that peculiar kind of competition by the road section then it will be all to the good. I think we would almost necessarily have to insist upon this type of thing, but circumstances, particularly at the beginning, may be a little bit difficult, and I do not want to insist too much upon it. All these things arose under peculiar circumstances. The 1927 Act was found not to be very effective unless certain peculiar arrangements were entered into, and I think pretty nearly everything else flowed from that. I would not like to have that amendment forced upon me as binding, particularly in the early days of the new régime that we want to establish. Under the powers given in Section 12 I think I can deal with this matter. It would be my intention to deal with it more or less on the lines suggested by the Senator.

I saw that there was a considerable amount of legal difficulty in giving effect to what most people think is necessary. The Minister's statement is satisfactory to the extent that he says he will not encourage a continuance of that type of administration which seemingly Senator Sir John Keane thinks is an admirable example of private enterprise. He seems to glorify the most stupid and wasteful thing that is done, provided it is done free of State interference. I quoted for him an example of what was done without any State interference at all, and the Senator actually seems to think it was an admirable regulation. He then quoted the case of a railway man drawing 35/- a week as being responsible for the present state of the railways, while when I quoted a glaring example of duplication and triplication of salaries which are huge in this country he had not one word to say against them. That sort of speech and mentality is enough to make Communists of what would be sane Christian men—this talk of economy at the expense of the workers while there is the most colossal and shameful waste on the part of the people who have the big money and the big salaries. However, in view of the assurance given by the Minister, I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Mr. McGilligan

While the argument has gone on a certain line I would like to go another stage. There was an accident recently on a station of the Great Southern Railways and an inquiry was held into it. Not merely the railway officials, but the representatives of the National Union of Railwaymen travelled by road to the investigation.

That is obviously not correct, as the railwaymen could travel free by rail and would have to pay on the buses.

Mr. McGilligan

And they did so.

There may be certain circumstances that would explain the situation. If there was no railway connection for instance. That sort of statement is made occasionally and made without explanation of the circumstances. A man who could travel free on the railways is not going to pay unless he had some particular reason for doing so.

Mr. McGilligan

Such as avoiding the railway service.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Schedule and Title agreed to.
Bill ordered to be reported.
The Seanad went out of Committee.
Bill reported.
Fourth Stage ordered for Thursday, 28th January.