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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 31 Mar 1971

Vol. 69 No. 15

Road Transport Bill, 1970: Report and Final Stages.

Government amendment No. 1:
In page 6, to delete lines 5 to 9, and substitute the following new paragraph:
"(b) Nothing in this section shall be construed as permitting a person to use a vehicle, in respect of which a restricted road freight licence has been granted, for the purpose of the delivery in the State of goods which have been loaded on to that vehicle in the State."

During the Committee Stage of the Bill both Senators West and Sheldon expressed some doubts about the wording of paragraph (b) of subsection (1) of section 8. Senator West, in particular, felt that there could be loopholes in the words "intended to be" and "exported". Section 8 (1) (a) of the Bill contains a provision which enables the Minister to include in a restricted road freight licence any conditions which he may see fit to impose and specify in the licence. This provision would enable the Minister to include in the licence a condition that the vehicle to which the restricted road freight licence applied could not be used for the purpose of loading goods at one point in the State for delivery at another point in the State.

The necessity to prohibit lorries from outside the State from engaging in point-to-point haulage from within the State is very important. In order to put the question beyond doubt we put section 8 (1) (b) in the Bill. It was recognised that in prohibiting the loading of goods at one point in the State for delivery to another point in the State by a foreign vehicle circumstances might arise where such vehicles could break down between the loading point in the State and the point of exit from the State. In these circumstances the goods would have to be unloaded on to another vehicle. As Senator West pointed out, the vehicle which broke down would have been involved in point-to-point haulage in the State. To provide for this situation the expression "intended to be exported" was included in the original section.

In the exceptional situation mentioned by Senator West, the paragraph as drafted would contain loopholes, so we are now proposing to delete the existing paragraph (b) and to substitute a new paragraph which provides that a vehicle in respect of which a road freight licence has been granted may not be used for the purpose of the delivery of goods in the State which have been loaded on to that vehicle in the State. If there is a breakdown, the provision now is that the vehicle in respect of which the road freight licence has been issued may not be used for the purpose of delivery in respect of goods which have been loaded on to that vehicle in the State. The possibility of a breakdown is not specifically provided for but this is a matter where discretion can be exercised in regard to the bringing of a prosecution. It should be possible to distinguish between genuine breakdown and a deliberate attempt to evade the prohibition on point-to-point haulage.

I think this covers the point made by Senator West and I should like to thank the Minister for introducing the necessary amendment. I should like to ask the Minister if Irish carriers have reciprocal rights or are they prohibited in the same manner as, say, in continental countries?

This section enables us to deal with the foreign haulage firms coming into this country. It also enables us to negotiate this type of arrangement for ourselves abroad. The section empowers the Minister to make reciprocal arrangements with other countries. Naturally, in making such arrangements we would ensure that the arrangements for our hauliers in that country would not be any worse than the arrangements for that country's hauliers in Ireland. We obviously would not agree to any situation whereby our people hauling in France or Germany were worse off than German or French hauliers hauling in Ireland.

If Irish hauliers are permitted to carry goods between points inside, say, France or Germany, is the Minister tying himself by this section to giving similar concessions inside this country?

The section is only an enabling section. The Minister has discretion: I can grant a licence or make regulations on any basis I wish. If the Senator will look at subsection (2) (a) of section 8, he will see that I may by order declare that a licence or class of licences issued by the competent authority in another State, in pursuance of an international multilateral or bilateral agreement to which the State is a party, shall be deemed to be a restricted road freight licence. In other words, the discretion lies with me to decide on the licence or class of licence which is issued in respect of a multilateral or bilateral agreement to which the State is a party. All the licence issuing arrangements are flexible and will depend on bilateral or multilateral arrangements reached by the State with another state or with a competent authority in another state.

There is nothing in this section to prevent outside hauliers coming into this country empty and taking back goods to, say, a continental country?

There is nothing to prevent it, but obviously this is the kind of arrangement to which the Minister, whoever he would be, would not agree to without the proper conditions attaching to it. One of the conditions envisaged would be the one the Senator just mentioned. This is a matter for arrangement. The section enables the Minister to allow this but this does not prevent the Minister in any way from attaching conditions such as the Senator mentions, insisting on a full load in before allowing a load back, as is done at the moment in regard to the North of Ireland hauliers. They are not allowed to come in here at the moment by arrangement, except on the basis of coming in with a load and going back with a load.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill, as amended, received for Final Consideration and passed.