Local Government (Roads and Motorways) Bill, 1973: Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

For the benefit of the Seanad I have circulated a revised explanatory memorandum taking account of the amendments to this Bill which were made in the Dáil.

Senators will be aware of the heavy growth in the volume of traffic using our roads in recent years and of the serious problems which have thereby been created for the road authorities and for my Department in seeking solutions to these problems. From 1963 to 1973 the number of vehicles using the roads has increased by 69 per cent from roughly 382,000 to 646,000. In terms of mileage travelled roads at present carry about 96 per cent of passenger traffic and 83 per cent of freight traffic and the indications are that these figures are likely to increase. To cater for the needs of modern society it is clear therefore that the provision of a safe and efficient road system demands a high priority. The most important sector of the rural network is the national road system which although accounting for only 6 per cent of total road mileage carries 30 per cent approximately of total traffic. Many sections of these important national roads, particularly at the approaches to towns and cities, are deficient both as regards pavement structure and traffic capacity. In addition, most of our urban and city street systems are inadequate and seriously congested. These deficiencies cause serious social and economic losses to the community due to traffic accidents, time lost from traffic congestion, wear and tear on vehicles and increased fuel consumption.

The law relating to public roads needs updating in order to facilitate road authorities in their efforts to solve their road problems. The present powers are inadequate in many important respects. For example, the power to provide such modern facilities as dual carriageways has been called into question, and there is no power to provide motorways. The present relatively short Bill, which I hope to follow in due course with a comprehensive measure, is the first step in remedying this situation.

The Bill will in effect, by virtue of section 3, abolish the doctrine of ultra vires in so far as the activities of road authorities are concerned by conferring a wide general power on them to do all things necessary for or incidental to the construction, maintenance or improvement of public roads, thereby enabling them to adopt a flexible and progressive approach in their efforts to provide road users with an acceptable level of service from the aspects of safety, convenience and amenity. I am sure that Senators will welcome this development. It would be naive of course to expect that the financial resources which can be made available by the State would fully match the demands for funds put forward by road authorities from time to time.

At this stage I would therefore like to draw attention to the fact that this Bill is an enabling measure, which does not seek to set up special financial arrangements under which programmes for motorways and national roads could be launched. The provision of financial support by the State for such programmes must continue to be contingent on the amounts which the Government may from time to time decide should be made available for road purposes generally. At the same time I wish to put on record my own intention and that of the Government to ensure, as far as we possibly can, that urgent and essential schemes on the national and major urban routes will not be delayed for lack of funds. As evidence of my own and the Government's concern about the needs of the road system an additional £4½ million was provided this year for the roads programme over the amount provided by our predecessors last year.

In addition to the general powers already mentioned, the second urgent purpose of the Bill is to give road authorities power to construct, maintain and improve motorways. Motorways are now accepted in all developed countries as the most efficient means of carrying large volumes of heavy traffic with maximum safety. It has been established that the incidence of fatal and personal injury accidents on motorways is one quarter to one-third that on all-purpose roads. The stage has already been reached in this country where, having regard to current traffic flows, the need for motorway facilities on certain sections of our road network is already established.

There are two essential characteristics of a motorway: (1) it must be limited as to use to certain specified classes of mechanically propelled vehicles—pedestrians, pedal cyclists, certain types of slow moving traffic and animals are excluded from using it, and (2) access to it is only allowed at properly designed junctions or interchanges. Our existing public roads are "all purpose" roads in so far as they may be used by all classes of traffic, including pedestrians, cyclists and animals. In addition, under common law all landowners have a right of access to the adjoining public roads. Section 6 and 8 of the Bill make specific provision to enable access to motorways to be strictly controlled.

One particular motorway project which is at present being examined proposes to replace a section of the Dublin-Belfast national primary route between the city and a point beyond the Airport. A compulsory purchase order made by the Dublin County Council in 1971 to acquire land for the project cannot be dealt with by my Department until section 7 of the Bill is enacted. Senators will be aware that the Government have recently given approval in principle to a proposal for the provision of a motorway bridge across the Liffey. This bridge and approaches is one of the key elements in the comprehensive programme recommended in the Dublin Transportation Study to meet the projected needs of the Dublin region over the next 20 years. While the bridge and its approaches can be regarded as a self-contained project which would independently afford substantial improvement of traffic flows in central city areas, its actual benefits will be much wider as it will also provide access to the proposed new roads to Dublin Airport and the west and to a new Fairview bye-pass. In addition, surveys in relation to the Dublin-Kilcock road, which are at present being completed by the road authorities concerned, may lead to the development of motorway proposals for sections of that road.

I cannot emphasise too strongly that under the provisions of sections 4, 5 and 6 of this Bill no decision can be taken by road authorities to go ahead with these or any other motorway projects until all interested parties have been duly notified and afforded an adequate opportunity to state their views at a public inquiry. It will be my task to consider all aspects of the proposal, objections and points of view expressed, and the report of the inquiry, before I decide to approve of a motorway scheme. The Bill provides for payment of compensation for damage by depreciation of any interest or enjoyment in land suffered by a person through closure of a means of access to a public road because of the construction of a motorway. Where compensation cannot be agreed with the road authority there is provision for reference to an arbitrator to determine fair compensation. If construction of a motorway involves severance of a holding, the road authorities will be obliged under the Bill to provide means of access from one part of such a holding to another. In addition I will have power to direct that such means of access be provided in any case in which I consider it reasonable to do so.

Allied to the question of compensation is the question of persons displaced from their houses by a motorway. There has been some uninformed public comment on this aspect. Some displacement of houses may be inevitable, but I want to assure the Seanad that it will be kept to the absolute minimum and that houses will not be demolished except when there is no other way of getting round the problem. If people have to be displaced it will be the duty of the local authority to re-house them in as convenient a location as possible and I am sure that a local authority will not fail to meet its obligations fully in this regard.

With regard to the powers of co-ordination under sections 11, 12, and 13 of the Bill, it is necessary in view of the larger scale and complexity of works on national roads and motorways that planning and construction be co-ordinated at all stages in the interests of economy, efficiency and uniformity. The sections referred to will enable the Minister to achieve these objectives. Senators will note that these powers will be used only after consultation with the authorities concerned.

Section 8 (3) deals with a situation where planning permission for development has been granted but the development has not commenced or is not completed. The manner in which notice will be served on the person concerned is to be prescribed by regulations. In this connection I said in the Dáil that I would consider the merits of providing a statutory definition of the commencement of development in relation to a planning permission and I have since reviewed this aspect in detail. I would propose amending this Bill if the implications of an amendment were limited to the purposes of the Bill. As the Seanad will appreciate however such a definition, if it were practical would relate to the general code of planning legislation rather than to roads legislation as such. In the circumstances I am satisfied that it would be inappropriate to use the opportunity of this Bill for the purpose of amending planning legislation by defining the commencement of development in relation to a planning permission. For the purposes of section 8 as it stands therefore the commencement or non-commencement of development where planning permission has been granted will be a matter of fact to be determined by the planning authority.

Finally I should like to refer to the environmental aspects of roads. The Bill, as introduced in the Dáil, contained in section 3 provision conferring express powers on road authorities to undertake works of landscaping and planting and so on in the interests of amenity and environment. In the course of the Dáil debate it was felt that the Bill might usefully contain a statement of general principle in that respect. I therefore included in section 4 of the Bill a provision requiring road authorities to have regard to the preservation of natural and scenic amenities and to consult such authorities as they consider necessary for the purpose before preparing a scheme for a motorway. This provision taken in conjunction with the express powers already referred to, will, I am sure, help to bring clearly to the notice of road authorities the importance which the Oireachtas attaches to amenity and environmental considerations.

Other amendments made to the Bill in the course of its passage through the Dáil, and which I suggest have made it a better Bill, include provision to make it clear that fences and retaining walls forming part of a motorway will specifically be the responsibility of the road authority, and extended provisions in relation to service of notice of the making of a motorway scheme.

I commend the Bill to the House.

As far as this side of the House is concerned, naturally this Bill is welcome as being a Bill with substantial preparation by the previous Government and, regardless of which Government are in power, a Bill that is essential if we are to provide a proper road network in our community. Indeed, the purpose of section 3, which I regard as the key section in this Bill, is all-important in that it enables the road authority for the first time to do all things necessary for, or incidental to, the construction, maintenance or improvement of public roads. The abolition of the ultra vires rule in this respect certainly removes a grave inhibition that existed on local authorities in regard to undertaking road works. That is the key enabling section in the Bill and one that now enables a road authority to proceed with their plans and with any incidental or ancillary matters in regard to heavy roads that need to be done by a road authority.

Section 4 makes it quite clear that motorways can be undertaken by road authorities. Here again we are jumping out of the old restrictions or inhibitions placed on local authorities by reason of the traditional common law and old statutory rights in regard to road authorities providing for other than mechancially propelled vehicles. Sections 3 and 4 now quite clearly enable a road authority to proceed with a motorway for mechanically propelled vehicles without any inhibition in regard to other users who may claim right to use such a road or without inhibition in regard to the road authority's right so to proceed. These two sections form the kernel of the Bill.

Sections 5 and 6 deal with the rights of people concerned, both land owners and householders. Their rights are fully protected. The proper arbitration provisions and the proper notices that should be given to people who are living beside any such proposed motorway are again incorporated for their protection. As far as this side of the House is concerned, the overall principles and provisions in this essentially enabling Bill are welcome.

The most important matter which has been referred to in the Parliamentary Secretary's speech is the finance to be made available to implement the provisions of the Bill. Now that we have given the enabling power to the road authorities, in consultation with the Minister for Local Government, to proceed on a proper motorway network, the next practical matter that arises is the financing of such proposals. I do not think it is anything to talk about the fact that there was an increase of £4½ million in the current year on what was expended last year in the field of road construction. That is a negligible increase, only in accordance with the fall in the value of money. What we want are substantial increases in this direction, and I should like to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary if proposals are at an advanced stage in regard to securing substantial loan finance either from the European Investment Bank or from the World Bank to really engage in a crash programme in this direction. For too long we have been approaching the question of road construction on a niggardly annual basis. Budgetary figures were fought out first of all between the Department of Local Government and the Department of Finance—proposals coming from the road authorities first of all, being considered in Local Government, then over to Finance, then back to Local Government, and then down to the various road authorities and back and forth between the three institutions concerned. Budgetary criteria each year take precedence over the need to provide a proper road network for the community, one that is all-important in an island country, and when you consider how dependent we are on exports and how necessary it is to get exports moving as fast as possible to the ports.

We are now facing up to this measure but not fully unless there is an imaginative financial policy adopted in regard to the implementation of the provisions now freely available to the Minister and the road authorities. I suggest that, as long as this aspect is subject to annual budgetary restrictions, both on the capital and current sides, it will never be undertaken. That has been the experience over a number of years as far as this particular area of development is concerned.

I know that when the previous Government were in power there were very real approaches made and the early work was done in obtaining loan facilities for these purposes from either of the two financial institutions I mentioned. I should like to know how far this has advanced? I am not talking about small money here; I am talking about a substantial loan, in the region of £100 million, from either of these two financial institutions, as a once-and-for-all allocation. Unless it is approached in that manner and unless this investment by way of capital is regarded as being outside the ordinary State capital programme and outside the ordinary capital and current restrictions and the ordinary budgetary restrictions, we will be years behind here, and we will never solve it by such a niggardly approach. We certainly will not solve it by adopting an annual budgetary attitude or by just seeking a small loan that would get us over an immediate hump in regard to providing improvements on the Dublin Airport road or other improvements mentioned in the Parliamentary Secretary's speech in regard to the provision of an extra bridge over the Liffey.

All these matters are desirable. The improvement of the western road out of Dublin is overdue. In my view it can only be approached by submitting a total road network plan for the whole country and for all forms of traffic, this plan to be submitted in toto spread over a number of years—ten to 12 years possibly—and immediate commitments dealt with as part of that plan, something on the lines of what was done in regard to the Telephone Capital Bill.

We adopted an attitude something like this in regard to the complete refurbishing of the Aer Lingus fleet some years ago. Aer Lingus got the capital from outside the normal capital sources of the State. It was regarded by the Minister for Finance as being a separate capital project that did not involve the ordinary day-to-day financing of the State. For that reason, authority was given to Aer Lingus to proceed in that manner. They are now in a highly competitive position. They were given authority to raise the money on the basis that they would put themselves into a commercial position as regards the raising of finance for any future refinancing of that magnitude.

Something of that type will have to be done in this case. Otherwise the real work that is envisaged in this Bill will never be put in hand. I should like if there was some reference made to this aspect when the Parliamentary Secretary is replying. This is the right Bill to meet our needs. The enabling provisions are there. It is a question of raising the finance in a proper way to match the intentions of the Bill. The finance to be raised must be raised in an imaginative way from an outside financial source and must not in any way be restricted to the annual curtailments of the State capital, current and budgetary programme.

I welcome the Bill which, when enacted, will give the local authorities the necessary powers to build the type of motorways that modern traffic, both private and commercial, now requires. I should like first to make a few brief comments generally on the Bill and more specifically afterwards.

I am a little concerned that there does not appear to be any overall coordinating agency for the building of these projected motorways. We have a large number of local authorities in the country. We have about 30 major authorities. I do not know if the boroughs are included in this. If the boroughs are included we must have more than 40 authorities in the country that would now have the powers to construct and maintain motorways. They would have very far-reaching powers in regard to the acquisition of land. I am sorry that some consideration was not given to utilising the regional development organisations to implement the terms of this and similar Bills dealing with the construction of highways. With the best will in the world it will not be possible to get tight co-ordination among a large number of local authorities, certainly not the same co-ordination which would exist if the regional development organisations, which consist of anything from three to five local authorities, could have been used as the agency for implementing the Motorways Bill.

In saying that, I appreciate that at the moment the regional development organisations are purely voluntary bodies with no specific powers beyond the powers of discussion and possibly recommendation. A case has already been made to the Minister for Local Government by representatives of the RDOs throughout the country to put them on a statutory basis. Among the points made to the Minister by the various representatives was that motorways would be the type of thing that the RDOs could successfully implement. I hope the Minister will give careful consideration to using the RDOs for this and similar types of major works that would straddle county and provincial boundaries as undoubtedly the motorways will when they are built.

Incidentally, when I read through the Bill originally, the first question I asked myself was "What is a motorway?" I do not think it is spelt out anywhere in the Bill as far as I can see, although we have some examples in the North, I presume, of motorways. I do not know if a dual carriageway, for instance, is a motorway. When does a road cease to be a road and become a motorway? Is it a two lane, a three lane, a four lane, or is it a dual carriageway? What is a national road? If one were to look at the explanation in the Bill, a national road could be anything from a viaduct, an underpass, a subway, a tunnel, an overbridge, a flyover, a pipe, an arch, a gulley or a footpath and so on and so forth, including margins and lay-bys and hard shoulders—whatever that is— cycle tracks, islands, medians, central reserves and so on. Obviously the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to reply to that question.

I suggest that in conjunction with this Bill the time is overdue when the whole question of regrading of roads should be tackled quickly. Anybody who is a member of a local authority will agree with me that the difficulties which arise each year at the annual estimates meeting when one is looking for grants, whether they are a 100 per cent or 50 per cent grants for main, primary, secondary or link roads, are that members are seeking regrading of their roads by the Minister for Local Government. I am sure the same thing appertains in every local authority throughout the country. That has to be tackled.

If we are to have motorways and national roads, the general road system throughout the country will have to undergo a drastic re-grading if it is to be adequately financed. In that regard I want to agree completely with Senator Lenihan that Bills, Acts and grandiose plans will not come to anything unless the necessary funds are available. I do not know if funds can be made available partly or wholly from EEC sources as has happened in the case of the development of the telephone system. It is something which perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary could answer. Certainly, if we are to try to facilitate these enormous juggernauts which are now entering the country daily, almost hourly, from Europe, I think it would not be unfair or illogical to look for some European funds to finance the roadways to carry these enormous vehicles which at the moment are clogging up our towns and villages and even our cities, which were never built to carry vehicles of that size.

If I might touch on the question of towns and villages for a moment, I think the time has come when we have got to face up to the fact that many of our towns and villages cannot be reconstructed while retaining anything like their normal shape or size to take the modern traffic and the traffic that will obviously come with our membership of the EEC. The days when a local authority objected strongly to even a diversion sign because it might take business away from a town are dead and gone. Passing traffic will not stop even if you route it through a town. Most traders and shopkeepers would now agree that the type of business they want is not the motor car or the truck that speeds past their doors and makes it impossible for their normal customers to pull up and buy their goods at shops and warehouses.

That type of traffic should be diverted away from the towns and villages to allow the towns and villages to do what they were built to do, that is, to service their local populations, the farming and working communities, the communities employed in local industries. That is what they are there for and they have no function that I can see in this day and age of servicing high speed passing traffic. The best thing we could do with that type of traffic is to put it on motorways that would pass our towns and allow other traffic to go about its business in safety.

In that regard I should like to mention an area that will be familiar to the Parliamentary Secretary, that is, the River Shannon. We have been talking for generations about saving the west, opening up the west and making rail and road traffic more accessible between east and west. The one great natural barrier there is the River Shannon. It is obvious, not in the years ahead but in the immediate future, that serious planning will have to be undertaken to ensure that there are sufficient bridges across the Shannon to carry not only the current but the expanding traffic that will come.

We in Limerick Corporation are already planning to put two bridges across the Shannon. One, we hope, will be built within the next three to five years, quicker if possible. The second one is away in the future. But the second one is as important as the first because the first bridge is merely to ease internal traffic in the city. The other bridge, which will be downriver a couple of miles, will be linked up with the north and south ring roads. In other words, it will be the type of bridge which will link up with what will presumably be motorways from the east to the west and south of the country in the years ahead. That is why, when we are planning motorways, it is urgently necessary that we take into consideration the crossing of natural boundaries such as the River Shannon and do it in good time. The sort of funds which will be required for that type of operation will be very substantial. Again I should like to think that some of these funds would be forthcoming from sources other than the national Exchequer.

Another development I should like to see, and I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will give it consideration, is the setting up of some form of highways authority. An authority of this kind was first mentioned, if I am correct, in the Milne Report. Very few people would even remember the Milne Report now. It must be about 25 years since it was published, pigeonholed and forgotten. Sir James Milne, who was a great advocate of railway development, proposed at that time the setting up of a highways authority to co-ordinate the development of not only the railway lines but also the roads. He had a point there which is quite valid today.

After all, it was only a few days ago that the Minister for Transport and Power announced that CIE would be spending £23 million in the next few years among other things to ensure that their losses would not exceed £30 million by the end of this decade but in addition, and most important, to try to entice more passenger and goods traffic to the railways and to provide a better, more frequent and faster service.

You cannot talk about developing the railways without some regard to the development of the roads. They are inter-connecting. I should like to see some form of highways authority set up that would co-ordinate the development of the road and rail traffic, both passenger and goods traffic, to ensure that the funds, which will be very substantial, will be properly spent and directed and that we will not have needless overlapping as we have at present when we have CIE trucks and trains competing against one another, indeed almost running parallel in some instances. If we are to make the most of the funds that will come to us either from our own or outside resources, it is essential that there is co-ordination of all forms of service traffic, both road and rail.

I should like briefly to comment on a few points in the Bill. I am all in favour of the road authorities having powers to acquire the necessary land for those motorways. However, I am a little disturbed at what will happen if the road authorities do not in the Minister's opinion act up to their responsibilities, or in other cases when they do carry out their responsibilities and where there is a case of access being done away with he may require them to provide an alternative access. The trouble about this is it sounds grand in Bills and Acts but when you come to put it into practice the inordinate delays which occur when they get to the planners, the civil servants and the rest and particularly when they get to the central authority could result in very severe hardship to an individual who through no fault of his own was injured through the blocking or seizing of a route that he and his family before him had enjoyed for many years.

That is one thing we will have to watch very carefully in this Bill while giving adequate powers to the local authorities to ensure that the rights of individuals are paramount and that they are protected. This applies specifically to land owners. It is all right saying that you will take a piece of land from a landowner and pay him the value of the land you have taken, but it could very well happen that a valuable farm might be ruined even by taking quite a small section of land from it. I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary: will the landowner or farmer be paid just for the bit of land taken or will he be entitled to compensation for injury done to his farm as a whole? It is important at this stage to have these things teased out and the House satisfied that there is nothing in this Bill that could lead to injury to any individual, however humble he may be.

Section 8 (3) states:

Where a scheme is made by a road authority under section 4 of this Act, the planning authority for the area to which the scheme relates shall serve notice on all persons who have been granted planning permission for development (which has not been commenced or has not been completed) on any land affected by the scheme.

Naturally I can see the point in this subsection but it seems to me that as it stands it could lead to a grave injustice, certainly in the case of a development which has been commenced and has not been completed. It would be possible for a development to be 95 per cent complete, as I read that subsection. If it is not 100 per cent complete the road authority can serve notice on them withdrawing the planning permission. Maybe I am wrong in my interpretation, but that is how the subsection reads to me. If my interpretation is correct there is a real danger in that subsection that an injustice could be done to the developer, whoever he may be—maybe a person building a private house or it might be somebody building a factory or a block of offices or something. It seems to me that inherent in that is the danger that the road authority, with these great powers, might cause an injustice to somebody or other.

I have already touched on the question of delay—possible delay by the local authority in providing alternative means of access. Again I think there should be some time limit in all this. It is all very well to say: "We are going to take away your right of access"—perhaps to another farm, to a house or something—"and we will provide you with an alternative". But when? There should be some time limit in all these things and the individual should have some right to expedite the provision of an alternative means of access. Indeed I will go further: it should be provided before the local authority do away with the right-of-way or right of access.

Section 12 (2) states:

Where the Minister is of opinion that it would be more convenient that any function which may be performed by him by virtue of an order under subsection (1) of this section, should be performed, whether generally or in a particular case, by a road authority or by some other person, he may—

(a) require the road authority to perform the function, or

(b) make an agreement with such other person for the performance of the function by him on the Minister's behalf,

and thereupon the function shall become performable by the road authority, or such other person, as if the road authority or such other person, as the case may be, were the road authority in respect of whose function the order was made.

They are all the comments I wish to make on the Bill at this stage. I think it is very necessary. I agree with Senator Lenihan that the sooner it is put into effect the better. I agree with him that ample funds are necessary but I do want to draw attention to certain dangers which I see in the Bill and which I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to allay when he is replying. The type of planning and the type of construction that we are talking about in this Bill could best be implemented by larger authorities than county or city councils.

Ba mhaith liomsa, maraon le Seanadóirí eile, fáilte a chur roimh an mBille seo. Sílim gur rud an-mhaith é, rud a bhí ag teastáil go géar, agus molaim an Rúnaí Parlaiminte as ucht é a thabhairt ós ár gcomhair.

I suppose from time immemorial the importance of roads has been observed and their usefulness realised. The Romans in days gone by built great highways and so did Napoleon in his time. All modern countries strive to have decent modern communications so as to ensure that they will cope with the great increase in traffic of all kinds and the movements of populations from one portion of the world to another and from one part of a country to another.

We being an island country, internal communications are important to us. We are a small country that exports quite a lot of our produce. To remain on a competitive basis it is important that we should ensure that we would have adequate communications in order to help industrialists, manufacturers and everybody else interested in getting top prices for their finished produce to get the finished materials to the ports in the quickest way possible. Much of the goods we export could be termed perishable and it is highly important that we would have decent roads.

I welcome the move that has now been made to ensure that we would have a national net-work of decent roads. It was way back, probably in post-war years, that the late Seán Lemass first published a map of a new road network for this country. It was rather far seeing in those days but the changes that have taken place since regarding the increase in motor traffic, the abolition of many of the railways and various other matters, have brought it home quite clearly to us that it is important to have such a national network.

I agree with Senator Russell that— and indeed I have been thinking of this in one way or another—it is important in an exercise such as this there would be some overall authority to co-ordinate the road making of the various local authorities. In the past there may have been some duplication regarding the purchase of expensive machinery by neighbouring county councils. Money might have been saved in the past by making it possible to have larger units and to use the same machinery in two or three counties.

This would have to be done either through the regional development organisations, as Senator Russell suggested, or by forming a national body composed of elected representatives from the regional development organisations or some other authority to ensure there was uniformity in the standards of roads from one county boundary to another. Those who invented railways in days gone by would never attempt to do it on a county council basis. The railway authorities ran from one end of the country to the other and in that way they tried to make them as competitive as possible.

Speaking of railways, I may say that in my part of the country there are no railways and that decision was more or less made by the Six County Government when the Great Northern Railway was cut off from our area. For that reason we in the north-west suffer in the industrial field and in many other ways by loss of transport to get our finished products out to the ports. As Senator Markey on the other side knows quite well—he is on the same regional development authority as I—we have been trying to get a regional road from County Cavan to County Monaghan and into Louth to bring our goods to port. It is essential that such a provision would be made as soon as possible because industrialists like to have proper ways of communication. It has puzzled me for years that when travelling from County Cavan into County Meath you have a first class road but when you come into County Dublin at Clonee, Mulhuddart and right on into Dublin city the road is so narrow you cannot pass a car in front of you. That situation in 1974 is deplorable and it is unfair to the people who live in the north-west and in the west, because they cannot get through the traffic here to get to the port.

There are people who came into our area and set up industries there. We were very glad to see them coming in, and indeed we should like to see an industrial estate being established there. There is no doubt that the first thing these people look at are the possibilities of getting the finished material out to the market. Immediately they condemn us because of our roads. We in that area want to see that position rectified and if this is a way of doing it, we certainly welcome it very much.

Last week the Minister for Transport and Power was seeking authority to enable CIE to raise, I think, £23 million. None of that will be spent in our area. We cannot blame the Minister for that because the railways were removed before he came on the scene. We do not wish to complain, but merely seek a fair share of the cake. The population in our area is decreasing. We are hampered along the Border. There are various reasons why those in authority should ensure that our area gets fair treatment.

Under EEC regulations new vehicles such as juggernauts are being used on our roads. Our engineers and local authorities have been taxed to the limit to cope with this problem. Some railway grants were given in our area, but they could not compensate for the amount of traffic which was put on the roads. This was a problem for engineers because some of the bridges were not strong enough. The whole exercise was very costly and should have been attended to by the State.

The acquisition of land for carrying this programme through is important. The work of my county council in regard to some new roads they were planning has been held up. I agree with Senator Russell that the rights of the farmer who has lived along a road for many years should be protected. This may be a difficult matter for engineers and planning authorities. Where a farm is subdivided into two or three parts or where water rights or watering places for cattle are cut off because an arterial road is being constructed through the land, a farmer suffers a substantial loss. It is the wrong approach to compensate him on the market value of that portion of land. He should be compensated in a generous way. Years ago when this happened, bridges were built to enable the cattle to get across and they replaced some amenities to compensate for the losses to the individual farmer or landowner.

The by-passing of small towns is not new. In the Six Counties you could travel into Belfast from Dungannon without going through any town. The M.1 and roads of that type have by-passed the towns, which have not suffered from lack of business as a consequence. Many of the streets in our towns are too narrow for modern traffic. In some cases there is only one road going through a town and valuable time is lost in this way. Industrialists take all this into consideration.

Proper financial arrangements should be made to ensure that the work goes ahead, as this is an urgent matter. We are members of the EEC now. Figures have been given by the Parliamentary Secretary regarding the amount of traffic on our roads. There is an enormous amount of money being collected in motor and petrol taxation. All this should be put into a fund.

I should like to conclude by referring to the question of safety. We should not have too many openings on to main roads. It is annoying to the people in my area to see inconsistency in matters like this. In neighbouring counties they have been allowed to build fine houses along the main road, yet in our county they are being refused this permission over the years. We have had a fall in population. We feel sore about this matter. There should be a uniform standard applicable to all counties. Safety is all important. The numbers killed on our roads have become appalling. We are all contributing to this in some way. Successive Ministers for Local Government have endeavoured to ensure that this would not happen. The reduction of the speed limit will help. The road planners have done their best in the past to ensure that our roads were reasonably safe. There have been accidents in the past where road repairs were taking place. They could have been prevented.

I welcome this Bill and the overall plan for making these roads. I should like to see financial provision being made and the work going ahead immediately.

I agree with a lot of what has been said by Senator Dolan and Senator Russell. There should be an overall authority for the construction of these roads. Local authorities have failed to make our roads safe. It is like travelling on a patch-work quilt to travel from Dublin to the west, as there is a bit done here and a bit done there. The bits which have been avoided are stretches of road which are very dangerous. If a national motorways board had been founded years ago we would not have the existing position. The first move would have been to improve the roads going from the centres of populated areas. We would not have such a road as the road from Dublin to three miles outside Kilcock, which I travel twice or three times each week. In wintertime it is a hazardous journey. If a few lorries create a convoy in front of you, you must stay behind them until you travel three miles the far side of Kilcock. From there on there is a motorway on which you can travel at 60 or 70 miles per hour without any trouble. Most of the traffic has thinned out by then but in the Dublin area it is almost an impossibility to travel at 50 miles per hour in the winter.

A national motorways board could get manpower from different counties to operate the scheme in their own counties. With the type of traffic at present on our roads, it is essential that something should be done immediately. Senator Lenihan stated that an additional £4½ million would make no great impact. He is quite correct in this, although an extra £4½ million would be welcome. A huge loan is required, plus manpower and machinery.

The question of the division of farms is included in the Bill. Here again, if there had been a proper body to deal with road works and not leave them in the hands of the local authority many of the things that happened in the past would not have happened.

In one case a man's farm was cut in two. It would have been quite easy to put in a subway without any fear of flooding because there was a valley to be filled. All that had to be done was to build a subway under the road so that the man's cattle could cross the road. Traffic moves very fast on that part of the roadway. It was pitiful to see that old man trying to move cattle from one side of the road to the other. He was left without water on one part of his farm, which I think was terrible. I am glad to see that this Bill provides that such a thing will not happen in the future.

It is mentioned in the Bill also that a survey is being made of the road from Dublin to Kilcock. At Leixlip, for example, I see no solution at all except to provide a flyover. It might be better if the Department would consider opening up a complete new roadway to the west. Many of these roads that are called main roads now are secondary roads. A new road to the west should be opened up and these roads by-passed. There was great opposition to the by-passing of towns. I proposed that a by-pass should be provided at Mullingar which would take all the heavy traffic. There was considerable opposition to this because publicans, businessmen, restaurants and so on thought that they would lose their business. These heavy lorries now come into the town. None of them can stop because there are no parking facilities for lorries 60 feet long. In fact, people are losing business because these lorries take up so much space that they make it most difficult for the ordinary motorist to get parking space.

I think it is a good idea to have fencing done on the motorways by the local authority. There is something else I should like to mention. The road is built first and then the "carpet" is put on. The hard shoulders are left unfinished. Cars travel very fast on these roads. Time and time again I have observed where cars hopped off the main road and on to where the hard shoulder should be. There have been accidents go leor in the midlands as a result of the hard shoulders not being completed at the same time as the road was being made.

I welcome the Bill. I hope that the surveys will not take too long and that we will get down to business and give motorists some sort of comfort travelling in the country.

I regard this as a most disappointing Bill. It is inadequate in several important respects First of all, it is a dated Bill. I appears to take no account of the world energy crisis and of the change in perspective in regard to road usage and usage by vehicles in general. It appears to be based on very little research of the position in other countries, of attitudes towards motorways in these countries and of the way in which these countries are adapting to the world of 1974 and onwards and not looking back over the mistakes made by other countries. There seems to be no awareness that in some countries motorways are being regarded in some respects as white elephants. We must be very careful in a small country that we do not make the mistakes which have been made else where.

I regard it as a most disappointing Bill because I think it is an inexcus able omission not to have cast and duty on road authorities to maintain roads and not to have made then liable for failure to maintain road and motorways. How can we expect to have an improved network if we do not have any duty to maintain these roads placed on the road authorities? I propose to introduce an amendment to that effect—to put a duty on the road authority. I will deal with this point in more detail in a moment.

The Bill does not appear to show much research into the whole question. We were told by the Parliamentary Secretary:

From 1963 to 1973 the number of vehicles using the roads has increased by 69 per cent, from roughly 382,000 to 646,000. In terms of mileage travelled roads at present carry about 96 per cent of passenger traffic and 83 per cent of freight traffic and the indications are that these figures are likely to increase.

I regard that as a statement of a fact, a statistic, but I regard it also as an alarming fact rather than one on which we base the conclusion that we need more space to be taken up by large roads or motorways. This is the trend: "We need motorways." What we need—I would support Senator Russell here—is some highway authority who will assess the way in which far too much of our traffic is travelling on our roads; the way we must co-ordinate this, particularly in the light of a world energy crisis, and evolve a pattern which must change and reverse the very different situation operating now. We must not allow our roads to become increasingly cluttered. We must not build the sort of roads which will only aggravate rather than diminish the problem.

Therefore I agree very much with Senators who said that we cannot talk about the road system and road usage in isolation from other methods of travel, particularly in isolation from the railways. There must be a great deal more policy content in the thinking behind a Bill of this nature. I am not at all satisfied with the statement by the Parliamentary Secretary that the present relatively short Bill, which he hopes to follow in due course with a comprehensive measure, is the first step towards remedying the situation. Too often we get these relatively short Bills which are supposed to be followed by more comprehensive measures. It is time for a much more comprehensive approach. A much more thoughtful approach should be made in a situation which must just not be reacted to. We should not just react to the fact that 69 per cent more cars are using the roads. We should consider the implications of this. We should take positive steps not just to eat up more of our countryside with huge motorways. We should have a much more thoughtful assessment of the implications of this. We should have an assessment of incentives to use other modes of transport in order to cut down on the usage by private motorists of our roads and also the use of alternative means of transporting freight.

I should like to say immediately, lest it might be thought that I am trying to drag Ireland back to the nineteenth century, that I am very much in favour of improvement both of road and rail traffic in this country. It is essential. This is a Bill which is most deficient in this respect because it omits inexcusably, to impose a duty on road authorities to maintain these motorways and national roads which the Minister is going to proclaim and authorise.

I should like to refer to a dormant statutory provision because I think it is at the root of the inadequacy of this Bill. I am referring to the provision of the Civil Liability Act, 1961, which was supposed to make road authorities liable for failure to maintain the roadways which we have at present. Section 60 of the Civil Liability Act unfortunately contained a subsection which said this section shall come into operation on such day, not earlier than the 1st day of April, 1967, as may be fixed therefor by order made by the Government. Therefore, this particular section of the Bill did not come into operation with the rest of the Civil Liability Act and did not come into operation before April, 1967. I took the trouble to look at the debate during 1961. I noticed that one Deputy at least was alarmed that this provision could not come in before the 1st April, 1967. I wonder what he thinks now that it has not come in by the 1st April, 1974—a full 13 years after the Act itself came into operation.

Section 60 provides:

(1) A road authority shall be liable for damage caused as a result of their failure to maintain adequately a public road.

(2) In proceedings under this section, it shall be a defence for the road authority to prove that—

(a) they had given sufficient warning that the road was a danger to traffic, or

(b) they had taken reasonable precautions to secure that the road was not a danger to traffic, or

(c) they had not a reasonable opportunity to give such warning or take such precautions, or

(d) the damage resulted from a wrong committed by any person other than the road authority.

(3) In determining whether a road was adequately maintained, regard shall be had in particular to—

(a) the construction of the road and the standard of maintenance appropriate to a road of such construction,

(b) the traffic using the road,

(c) the condition in which a reasonable person would have expected to find the road.

(4) In determining whether a road authority had a reasonable opportunity to give warning that a road was a danger to traffic or had taken reasonable precautions to secure that a road was not such a danger, regard shall be had to the standard of supervision reasonable for a road of such character.

(5) In this section—

"road authority" means the council of a county, the corporation of a county or other borough and the council of an urban district;

"public road" means a road the responsibility for the maintenance of which lies on a road authority and includes any bridge, pipe, arch, gulley, footway, pavement, fence, railing or wall which forms part of such road and which it is the responsibility of the road authority to maintain.

(6) This section shall not apply to damage arising from an event which occurred before the coming into operation of this section.

(7) This section shall come into operation on such day, not earlier than the 1st day of April, 1967, as may be fixed therefor by order made by the Government.

Surely we are not now going to allow this situation to continue? There is no liability, or duty to maintain existing roads. I have heard people talking about the road to the west. I have travelled the road to the west, too, and I can confirm what they say. Some parts of that road are very bad and they are a danger to road users. There is no duty or no liability to maintain them on the road authority. Are we going to authorise in this Bill the building of bigger, more dangerous roads on which traffic will travel faster at more risk to everybody and not have built into that a duty to maintain the motorways and national roads? That would be a very irresponsible move.

I welcome the fact that this is the ideal, legislative instrument in which to bring in at last this particular provision of the Civil Liability Act, 1961. The appropriate way to do that is to repeal this particular provision, which has lain dormant for 13 years, and to enact a general provision creating liability on road authorities for the existing roads and for any future, designated motorways or national roads under the powers in this Act. I propose to bring an amendment to that effect on the Committee Stage of this Bill. The argument surely does not need to be made that the wider and faster the roads the more dangerous they are to traffic and the more irresponsible it is not to confer on the road authorities the duty to maintain them.

Having said that, I think this Bill is a very disappointing one. There are certain aspects of it which are welcome, particularly the extension in section 3 of the powers of the road authorities in certain respects to do all that is necessary and incidental in regard to the construction and maintenance appropriate to public roads, and the fact that they should take the environment and the amenities of a particular area into account. It is good that the road authority are given this power and that they can and should take into account the environment, the local amenities and the views of the people living in the particular areas.

I do not think sections 11 and 12 of the Bill are satisfactory because they are the most centralising sections I have ever seen in a Bill. They take from the local authority all their power. The Minister can wipe away entirely all the power of the local authority and substitute his own powers in relation to the motorways and national roads. Therefore, this is not a Bill which increases the powers of local authorities. It is a Bill which appears to give added powers to local authorities but proposes to give the Minister most draconian measures to deprive the local authorities of their powers. I am referring to section 11, which reads as follows:

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other enactment, a road authority shall, in the exercise of their functions in relation to a national road or motorway, comply with all or any directions that may be given by the Minister pursuant to subsection (2) of this section.

These relate to every function of the road authority under this Bill.

(2) The Minister may, after consultation with the road authority, give directions in relation to all or any of the following matters—

(a) the management of national roads and motorways;

(b) the planning and construction of national roads and motorways;

(c) the standards and specifications to be applied to works carried out for the purposes of national roads and motorways;

(d) the programming of works;

(e) the execution of works;

(f) the taking of surveys;

(g) the provision of traffic signs on national roads and motorways; and

(h) the co-ordination of all or any of the foregoing matters, or any matters relating thereto, either within the area of any one road authority or in conjunction with any other road authority or road authorities.

What makes that a very broad condition is the definition of the word "works". "Works" includes "works of construction, maintenance and improvement". In other words, any functions exercised by any local authority under this Bill can be taken away from them and superimposed by the Minister.

Sections 12 goes on to say:

(1) Whenever a road authority—

(a) fails or refuses to comply with a direction of the Minister given under section 11 of this Act, or

(b) fails to comply with such a direction in a manner satisfactory to the Minister.

the Minister may by order require the road authority to comply with such direction or to comply with such direction in a satisfactory manner, as the case may be, and the Minister may, if he thinks fit, specify in the order the manner in which or the time or times within which such direction is to be complied with or both such manner or such time or times, and if the road authority fail to comply with the requirements of the order or fail to comply with such requirements in a satisfactory manner, the Minister may by a further order invest himself with such of the said functions of the road authority as he considers necessary and may thereupon perform those functions.

(2) Where the Minister is of opinion that it would be more convenient that any function which may be performed by him by virtue of an order under subsection (1) of this section, should be performed, whether generally or in a particular case, by a road authority or by some other person, he may—

(a) require the road authority to perform the function, or

(b) make an agreement with such other person for the performance of the function by him on the Minister's behalf,

and thereupon the function shall become performable by the road authority, or such other person, as if the road authority or such other person, as the case may be, were the road authority in respect of whose function the order was made.

In other words, section 12 together with section 11 allow the Minister to replace the road authority and to control them in a detailed way. Once again there is need for co-ordination and planning in relation to these roadways so that they are a coherent and properly functioning net work and so that a certain standard is maintained. There is a difference between control and co-ordination of that sort and the draconian powers which the Minister has in this Bill.

To illustrate the effect that the combination of sections 11 and 12 as they stand would have: if the road authority in a particular area in the execution of works—"works" being "construction, maintenance and improvement"—or in improving a particular section of a motorway decided to take into account environmental factors and in some way to make provision in an area to ensure that a particular view was preserved or whatever the local idea was and if the Minister did not feel this was a good idea all he had to say was that it was not done in a satisfactory manner and then he could either direct the road authority to do it the way he wished or divest the road authority of their powers and direct some other authority to do it.

It seems that the Minister is unnecessarily diminishing the status and the powers of the local authorities. It would be better if an institution was put between the Minister and the local authority, something on the lines of the highway authority that Senator Russell mentioned. We should not talk about the devolution of power and the giving power to local and regional bodies and at the same time write into Bills the extremely far-reaching powers which the Minister has under section 12. All the Minister has to say in relation to the various activities of the road authorities is that they are not satisfactory in his opinion and he can then direct that the whole thing be done otherwise. If it is desired that the Minister has power to direct how each little work of construction, maintenance or improvement be carried out why not write that out in a straightforward short Bill and have a totally centralised system with the road authorities being at the end of the various strings which he pulls and which are totally under his control? That is the present effect of the provisions in sections 11 and 12. I should hope that it will be possible to introduce an amendment qualifying the power of the Minister in this respect, possibly requiring that whatever direction he might desire be brought in draft before the Parliament or, alternatively, that in some way there may be an appraisal of the way in which the Minister is substituting himself or directing a local authority to operate in a particular way where they had desired initially to operate in a different way. This is the sort of safeguard which we must insist on if we are to prevent far too much centralisation of power in the hands of the Minister in a way which allows the Minister to exercise an unlimited discretion provided he does not regard as satisfactory the present way in which the road authorities operate. I say this with absolutely no personal comment on the Minister for the time being. I am talking about the structure we are creating under this Bill and regardless of who may be the Minister from time to time.

These are the main points I wish to raise on the Second Reading of the Bill. It is a Bill which needs to be gone into fairly thoroughly on Committee Stage and, as I said, I shall be introducing an amendment to impose liability on road authorities for the maintenance of roads. Not to do so would be irresponsible and would not achieve the very object of this Bill, that is, to improve the network of roads in this country.

In common with the other Senators who have spoken I welcome this enabling Bill. I realise that in the situation we have today and which we shall have tomorrow it is necessary to upgrade our whole road system. However, there should be a separation between motorways and other roads. A Motorways Bill should stand on its own with all the provisions and implications involved. There are two very different situations created when you separate a motorway from a road. I do not know a lot about motorways but I notice that there is provision in the Bill in respect of farmers who have land on each side of a road and, also, that there cannot be access to a motorway directly from any farmer's field or place. What the result of this will be inevitably is that you will have to have a service road on each side of a motorway. There is no other way that I can see a motorway constructed unless it has a service road on each side of it to deal with farms, small villages and other amenities.

The Bill also mentions the much talked about road between Dublin and Kilcock. I hope that a motorway will be constructed there as quickly as possible. I expect that the Bill will get a quick passage through the House. Senator Robinson said she would be introducing some amendments. Incidentally I was intrigued to hear her say that local authorities are not responsible for maintaining the roads. I do not know what code of law road authorities have been working under during the years but I know, as one who has been a member of a county council for 25 years, that it is a condition of a road grant that a certain amount of the grant be expended first, in the construction and, secondly, for county road improvement. The grant was conditional on total maintenance of the county road system being carried by the county council. It would be interesting to know whether we had been expending ratepayers' money down through the years without having the responsibility or the authority to do so.

Landscaping is also mentioned in the Bill. Every one of us, particularly those in the west of Ireland, knows that when roads are widened to main road standards the carriageway remains as it is for a considerable time to come. There are margins on both sides of the road that will never be hard-shouldered and which are left in an appalling condition. Many of us have said at county council meetings from time to time that the sides of the roads should be properly graded and that grass seeds should be sown and the grass kept trimmed. Whenever I inquired about this and also as why they did not even tidy up the side of the road, where loose boulders and stones and other things are left for years until the wild bunch grass covers them, I was told by the engineering staff that the Department would take a poor view of spending money on tidying up and that a carriageway was more important than the sides of the road. Some of the roads are a disgrace. If anybody was unfortunate enough to get off the hard shoulder on to the sides of the road he would find himself in difficulty because of the presence of boulders.

There was mention by other Senators of a roads authority. This, presumably, would be a departmental board, or a board comprised of technicians, engineers and people of that kind. If motorways were separated completely from other roads you would need an authority to deal with the situation that would then arise. The answer to national primary roads problem could be the setting up of a road authority. It would have to consist of representatives of the regional development groups. The same specification would be used throughout the whole roads system. There is always a fear, at county council level particularly, that if you establish this type of roads authority—I was surprised to hear Senator McAuliffe saying today that you should start off from Dublin to do all your roads—it will be 20 years before this type of road reaches the west of Ireland. There would have to be a lot of consultation before you could have a roads authority—unless of course they were to make their decisions in conjunction with the other county councils and that a certain amount of the money was spent in the western, northern and north-western counties as well as the counties adjacent to Dublin. We know that the traffic problems are greatest in Dublin and its environs, but we also know that every other small or fairly large town has this type of traffic problem. Our road system was never designed for modern traffic.

Mention has been made of the juggernauts that will come in from Europe. We see some of them on the roads already. This means inevitably that the cost of building roads is going to rise dramatically. If you are going to have a road specified and built to carry this type of vehicle and if this involves redesigning our bridges an enormous amount of money will be required. I would agree with Senator Lenihan that there should be an enormous loan raised on the best possible conditions so that this problem can be attacked immediately.

The Parliamentary Secretary has mentioned £4,500,000 of an increase from last year. When I tell the Parliamentary Secretary that the estimate for bringing our roads in Mayo up to the main, secondary, regional and county road standard will cost us £18 million I hope he will realise how inadequate though, nevertheless, welcome a sum of this type is. A massive injection of money must go into road building and improvement. This money must be borrowed. We cannot depend on the rates and on the Road Fund alone for the maintenance of roads. The deterioration of road surfaces today, because of the increased volume and weight of traffic is amazing and appalling. Roads which were constructed a few years ago and looked very good have gone to pieces. It is nobody's fault. The engineers and designers were doing the best they could in the financial situation and with the traffic loads that prevailed at the time. This has changed so much that there will be a complete deterioration of our road system in the not too distant future if some kind of weight control is not put on. Larger juggernauts are being designed and built in Europe. If our economic future is to be dictated by the amount of traffic and the weight these lorries can carry, and if our industrialists have to use this type of transport to get their products to Europe, we will have to bring our roads system up to the required standard.

There is provision in the Bill for the payment of compensation to a farmer or any citizen who has his rights interfered with. The question of fences makes me smile. Down through the years the position has been that after the construction of a road it was difficult to get the county council to repair a fence alongside such a road because it was regarded as being the responsibility of the landowner. I wonder whether a person who would give a little touch with a car to a road would come under this penalty of a £200 fine, on conviction. If this were the case our accident rate would possibly be reduced.

I want to speak for a minute or two about standardisation of road signs. It is a hardy annual at estimates meetings of county councils that you have references to one type of sign here, another type there and too many in other places. You can also get the odd youngster who decides that turning the sign in the opposite direction is good fun.

More than youngsters do that.

The poor fellow who is going to Kiltimagh and finds that he is on the road to Dublin does not like it. This is part of the problem we have to deal with. Standardisation of signs is something that must interest everybody. I hope to see a time when some individual will be given the power to say where a sign goes, whether it is to be a 30 m.p.h. sign, a 40 m.p.h. sign, a direction sign or a forward sign because the siting of them in many cases leaves a lot to be desired. It should be for the roads authority alone to decide where a 30 m.p.h. or a 40 m.p.h. sign should be placed.

We all have been asking for more money for our road system. I do not want to bore the Parliamentary Secretary but I would mention expenditure on roads in Mayo. We hope to have extensive job intensive industry in north Mayo in the not too distant future. This will put a tremendous strain on very bad bog roads and we will be asking the Minister for more money. As a council we are prepared to spend more rates money on roads and we have been allocating money to build a road to a fishing bay that is being developed at the moment. The National Pilgrimage Association of Knock Shrine are building a new church at a cost of £250,000 or more. There is tremendous development proposed for the area. The national primary road has been redesigned so that it will go through the village of Knock. We want an immediate allocation of money from the Department for this particular section of the national primary route from the north to Galway. We would hope that the Parliamentary Secretary would take a note of this very necessary development.

I do not think I have any more to say except to congratulate the Parliamentary Secretary and his Minister on bringing this Bill before us and I hope that we will have a far more comprehensive measure to deal with roads other than motorways in the future.

At a glance, one can see that the Bill brings about minor changes and improvements. I had hoped we would have had something here that would result in a real important contribution to the roads of the nation because, if you look at it briefly £4,500,000 extra hardly meets the present inflationary trend. I would agree with some Senators who said that we would need to know where the money is going to be spent because unfortunately the Departmental thinking does not go too far out of the city regardless of what Minister or Parliamentary Secretary we have. It is to be seen even in the Parliamentary Secretary's speech. Most of the references are to motorways—the road from Dublin to Belfast and the road out to the west. You can spend £750,000 on building one mile of roadway. Therefore I do not know what impact on a national basis that £4,500,000 is going to have. I would have hoped that the Minister and the Government would have taken their courage in their hands and did something really worthwhile for the roads.

While there are some things in this Bill that will improve or streamline The administration, the big problem with local authorities is lack of money. I represent a county that has suffered desperately as a result of the closing of the railways. All kinds of promises were made that we would get special road grants as a result of the closure of those railways but these have not materialised on a scale that would substitute for the transport the railways would have provided. We should have at least two types of authority—one to provide for the national primary roads, let them be ordinary national primary roads or motorways or truck routes, and we should have also an overall authority to look at the road needs of the whole country. I have often said to our engineers in Donegal: "Why can you not make a case to the Department for more roads and more funds?" They always replied: "The Department have convinced us that we are doing reasonably well." But "reasonably well" seems to mean that many areas in the country are not getting vast sums. Two weeks ago we provided an extra £38 million for the improvement of the railways. The part of Donegal I represent will get little or none of that money. We will get no money either for airports or for harbours. Under various headings we will not get any money at all. It is only fair that these considerations should be taken into account when there is any renewal of policies for road improvement in the country.

It was mentioned that there would be improved compensation for farmers or other people who give land for road development. I should like to draw to the notice of the Parliamentary Secretary a problem that exists in this regard. Where there is road re-alignment the amount of money and the time lag involved has been unacceptable. There was no businesslike approach to the matter. I would hope that not only will statutory measures be introduced here but that the Department will take an active interest in following up the progress made. Most of the delay has been caused by waiting for sanction for road re-alignment and road schemes which have been held up in the Department's office for years. I hope that this Bill will bring about new thinking in the Department.

An interesting case arose in County Donegal. I do not wish to dwell on the local area but this is a point of interest. The beauty of the scenery in Barnesmore Gap was destroyed by some people taking gravel away from an area that extended over three miles. The local authority took a case against them and those responsible for the depredation were fined a shilling. It was most discouraging for the local authority after they had prepared documents, taken a case to court and produced a lot of evidence, to find that the whole thing was thrown out and the man concerned was fined only a shilling.

The present situation is ridiculous. The whole roads programme, as between local authority and Local Government, is bound up in Civil Service jargon that has been outdated for years. This is only an attempt to look at the problem. I would have hoped that the Minister, the Parliamentary Secretary and everybody concerned with our road needs would have taken a more serious look at the problem and, rather than postpone the more comprehensive Bill, would have had one good "go" at it and would have provided extra money. While we welcome the extra money that is provided, it is only a paltry sum and I doubt whether much of it will reach the roads in rural Ireland.

There is a reference in the Parliamentary Secretary's speech to an extra bridge across the Liffey. That is a long-term effort. The provision of funds for any extra bridges or major roadworks should be completely separated from money being provided for roads throughout the country. It is unfortunate that there is not a special provision for the maintenance of county roads. This is one aspect of the Bill that disappoints me most. In County Donegal we have an expenditure estimate this year of nearly £500,000 for county road maintenance, all of which will have to go on the rates. It is disappointing to see that this has not come to the notice of the Department. I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary, who comes from a county with problems similar to those in County Donegal, knows very well that county road maintenance in County Kerry is a serious problem. He should know what I am talking about. All of that money has to be put on the backs of the ratepayers. I am disappointed that no relief has been given in this Bill.

Senator Robinson suggested that the Bill should impose a penalty on local authorities. I do not think anybody who ever served on a local authority would make such a statement. I found local authorities very anxious to get on with the job of road building. The real problem is to find the money each year. Those of us who are involved these days in dealing with estimates in local authorities find that engineers are at their wit's end to find money. This is the major problem. To say that we impose penalties on local authorities without saying where they have fallen down seems to be due to lack of experience. I do not wish to criticise a very able Senator, but it is a pity Senator Robinson made her little contribution, left the House and would not sit and listen to hear the other side of the story. Her comments can only be put down to lack of experience.

Senator Lyons referred to the need for money for bog roads—and here I would strongly support Senator Lyons—this year especially when we have experienced a crisis in the fuel industry that we have vast resources in our bogs yet. This was an opportune time for the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary to provide money for local authorities to do something about bog roads in rural Ireland. Now is the time to provide it, because local authorities all over Ireland are crying out for a special contribution towards the maintenance, the improvement and making of new bog roads.

I would ask here, before we finally adopt this Bill, that the Minister would set aside a sum of money to local authorities, especially local authorities in the west of Ireland or other places where there are bogs to be developed. I hope also that the Government this year will replace the money that they did not provide in last year's Estimate for the rural improvement schemes. Here again I feel the Parliamentary Secretary will know very well what I am talking about. There was a reduction last year in the amount provided for rural improvement schemes, that is, for accommodation roads, bridges, small drainage work and so on. This was a terrible blow to local authorities and had serious consequences. Many schemes have piled up and are very short of money. I do not know why this money was removed and I am hoping that it will be replaced this year.

The local authorities throughout the country will not be one bit excited at an announcement that there will be an extra £4½ million for major roadworks that are necessary. I would have hoped, as was suggested by Senator Lenihan, that we could have gone ahead and borrowed a major amount of money, in the region of £100 million, because it would have done two things at this stage. It would have provided roads now at a price for which we will not build them later and it would have eased the employment situation in rural Ireland. It would have been good value and of long-term benefit. It would have been as good a business proposition as building houses, or as any other capital expenditure that we could get involved in. I only hope here that the further Bill the Minister refers to will not be in the distant future but will be in the near future, certainly within the next year.

In the first instance I do not think we should look on this Bill as submitted by the Minister as being anything other than the first contribution towards a modus operandi for the provision of motorways in this country. The Minister in his outline speech has been realistic enough to acknowledge that the financial commitment necessary for such works is so vast that the works can be undertaken only in stages. I think it can also be regarded as a desire on the part of the Minister to give to local authorities, on the one hand, certain powers and yet to reserve to himself, since he holds ultimately the purse strings on behalf of the citizens of this country, the final say as regards what planning there should be and what general direction and instructions there should be in regard to the provision of the motorways.

In providing this enabling legislation he has taken the opportunity to fill in certain gaps and loopholes which have existed in our current legislation. Sections 3 and 13, particularly, fulfil this desire on his part, namely, the provision of adequate safety measures and, indeed, amenity measures such as landscaping, under section 3, and enabling local authority to do work for another local authority, under section 13. There is no harm whatsoever in these provisions being there.

The point has been made by Senator Robinson, I think, that there was no duty on local authorities to carry out the necessary maintenance of these motorways and the national roads. Section 11 says:

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other enactment, a road authority shall, in the exercise of their functions in relation to a national road or motorway, comply with all or any directions that may be given by the Minister pursuant to subsection (2) of this section.

(2) The Minister may, after consultation with the road authority, give directions in relation to all or any of the the following matters—

(a) the management of national roads and motorways;

(b) the planning and construction of national roads and motorways;

(c) the standards and specifications to be applied to works carried out for the purposes of national roads and motorways;

(d) the programming of works;

(e) the execution of works;

(f) the taking of surveys;

(g) the provision of traffic signs on national roads and motorways; and

(h) the co-ordination of all or any of the foregoing matters, or any matters relating thereto, either within the area of any one road authority or in conjunction with any other road authority or road authorities.

(3) In this section—

"traffic sign" has the meaning assigned to it by the Road Traffic Acts, 1961 and 1968; and

"works" includes works of construction, maintenance and improvement.

I submit to the superior knowledge and experience of Senator Robinson on this point, but I would have thought that that would have covered the point of maintenance being undertaken and imposed a duty on local authorities, as directed by the Minister, to carry out the necessary maintenance on motorways and national roads. There are difficulties, of course, and it would be unrealistic not to see that they arise under various headings. For instance, the small property owner may well be faced with the position where his land —and worse again if it is a small holding—is split to enable a motorway to go right through it. I would certainly hope that the Minister would try to get over this problem. I do not think going around such a small holding would unduly disturb the direction of the motorway. It does not have to be the straightest line all the way from A to B.

As I said in my initial remarks, I am afraid there is a great likelihood of piecemeal construction of motorways. It has certainly taken far more wealthier European countries up to the last decade to provide the type of motorway we have now become accustomed to seeing on television and, indeed, which we have seen in Northern Ireland. I do not think we have the finance to build a complete and new motorway running from A to B. I do not think that can be done, but, unfortunately, if we are going to do it on a piecemeal basis it will mean working on existing parts of our current road network and converting those parts into motorways and at the same time having the situation that users must go from the existing network on to a new motorway and then perhaps come off that motorway and back on to the existing network. This is going to present many difficulties to us. One Senator referred to signposting and to certain properly identified indicators for the road users as to where exactly they are going and the risk they run by not reading the instructions before them.

Another difficulty is that the Minister has preference for local authorities undertaking a good portion of this work. I think that can be read into the wording of the Bill, and it raises the question whether the local authorities can really do this job. Being a member of a local authority myself I must admit to having certain reservations about it. I have seen the ways in which local authorities have carried out works of improvement and there have been endless delays. Perhaps there will be an improvement in this regard since the overall control and direction will lie ultimately in the hands of the Minister. Perhaps it was with this in mind he has written in section 11 and section 13 of this Bill which leave with him the final say as to how motorways are going to be planned in the initial stages and how they will ultimately be developed.

A Senator asked for a definition of a motorway as this was not done in the Bill. It states:

"motorway" means a public road or a proposed public road which is declared to be a motorway....

That is not much use to anybody who really wants to know what exactly a motorway will be. To me it would appear to be the safest and the quickest means of getting from point A to point B. The safety aspect is the nub of the whole question and we must admit that unfortunately motorways in any part of the world have some endemic dangers. There is the monotony of mile after mile of endless straight road with one-way traffic. This can create complacency and fatigue for the motorist. These are matters which the Minister must bear in mind. There should be proper signposting and notices on these roads reminding the users of the dangers which exist. We are all inclined to take advantage of driving on the M.1 or the M.2 in Northern Ireland, for instance, and forget the dangers which are inherent in any motorway.

Standards change with the passing years. When the Germans created the first motorways in the mid-1930s in the form of the autobahns they would have provided a different type of motorway if they had the experience gained over the past 20 years. Would the old Roman Empire have built the Via Appia or the Via Iraria if they had the experience gained in the use of them? Those who have used the M.1 or the M.2 in Northern Ireland will see this point. The M.1 was built in the early 1960s and the M.2 was built during the past five years. The difference can be seen by anybody who travels on either of them. The Department should bear this point in mind.

The by-passing of towns has been mentioned. Some Senators have stated that this difficulty no longer exists in the sense of criticism from local business people. But there has still to be a public relations job on the part of everybody concerned. Business people are business people no matter where they are, and, irrespective of the experience of the past decade, where there have been motorways provided in England, Northern Ireland and on the Continent, business people in this country will still be anxious that not one iota of business be diverted from them, if possible. There must be a good selling job here on the part of local authorities and all elected representatives.

Senator Robinson stated motorways alienate people. In my experience they do just the opposite and enable people to reach each other more quickly and to visit each other more frequently. It is not very enticing for a person to undertake the journey from Galway to Dublin on the existing road network to visit relations. If there was a motorway it would be more attractive to do so.

It is stated in subsection (2), section 5, that the Minister may dispense with notice in the case of public inquiries. I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to spell out to us where these circumstances would arise. I can understand the situation where he would dispense with notice where the body concerned is a local authority or land is owned by the Department. There could be circumstances in which people would feel alarmed that they would not be notified of the public inquiry and be allowed to make their submissions.

This has happened in regard to planning permission under the 1963 Act. There have been omissions, whether accidental or otherwise, and we should make every effort to avoid this situation in the future.

As a result of this Bill becoming law there will be regulations in regard to the public inquiry notice, as I have mentioned briefly, and other matters in the Bill. Those regulations should be made available to the public for full scrutiny.

I welcome the opportunity of making some comments on the Roads and Motorways Bill. It is a good Bill if its contents can be implemented, but this is doubtful without huge capital sums. The Bill is not worth the paper it is written on unless that huge inflow of capital can be made available, from whatever source it can be obtained.

In his speech the Parliamentary Secretary stated there was an increase of £4½ million being made available to the road authorities, but I was disappointed that he did not mention the increase in motor taxation on private cars last year, by 10 per cent to 12 per cent, and on various categories of commercial vehicles, up to 37 and 38 per cent. That places additional burdens on the motoring public and also brings in more money to the Exchequer. The £4½ million which has been mentioned in the Bill goes nowhere near the amount which was collected through this increase in motor taxation.

Motor taxation in itself is not adequate to meet the ambitious road programme which the Bill envisages. Therefore I must re-echo the sentiments of previous speakers in stating that the capital will have to be made available to us from whatever source is necessary.

We can see those gigantic juggernauts on our roads every day, many of them of Irish origin. Legislation would be necessary to control the speed of those vehicles and to provide further traffic lanes so that those long heavy vehicles can use a separate portion of the road and allow the light vehicle to move along more speedily. About a month ago at 11.30 p.m. one of those laden juggernauts passed me on the road at over 63 miles per hour. This was an unreasonable speed for any such vehicle and this is the cause of many of the accidents which occur. The argument will always be made that our roads are not adequate to cater for those heavy trucks, that we did not succeed in keeping pace with the advances and design of mechanisation. This is true to some extent but it must be borne in mind that during the past 30 years we have made great strides with regard to the provision of a reasonably satisfactory roads network throughout the country. We are now at the stage where the cul-de-sac is being done in most counties through the assistance of county road improvement grants.

This Bill deals mainly with the provision of new and super highways. The hard shoulders should be brought up to the standard of the centre portion of the road. The hard shoulder could be used to a greater extent by those heavy juggernauts which are using our roads so extensively at the present time. I would say, too, that those hard shoulders should be brought into alignment with the centre portion of the road. It can be dangerous if there is too much of a camber to the grass margin or if there is a jolt down from the main road itself on to this hard shoulder. Some new standard will have to be provided to ensure greater safety on those hard shoulders. There should be no mention of hard shoulders, and the entire road network should be of equal strength.

The Bill deals at length with the rights of the people who are being inconvenienced by the provision of those new highways or the improvement of existing highways. I am critical of the Bill because it does not provide for disturbance allowance. It may be good enough to compensate a man for loss of land but loss of land is loss of income and it is here the disturbance allowance comes in. More will have to be done. If a man loses his job because a factory closes down he can be provided with another job. If a man loses his land, if a roadway is constructed right through the centre of his land, that man's livelihood has been taken away from him and the Department of Local Government should either approach the Land Commission with a view to giving him an additional parcel of land or else give him adequate compensation to enable him to purchase land in the place most convenient to him. That is something which is worthy of consideration, and I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to give it serious consideration.

In 1974 the disturbance allowance which is being implemented by local authorities is not adequate to cater for the loss of income which has been brought about by the acquisition of land throughout the years. The same applies to a dwellinghouse whether it be a vested cottage, a private house or a farmhouse. If the level of the road is raised from its old level the house becomes embedded in a hole and it loses its value. Again, an effort will have to be made to compensate that house owner or that property owner for the devaluation of his house which has been brought about through no fault of his own. The provisions which existed in the past are not adequate. More moneys will have to be made available and a clause will have to be written into the Bill to ensure that people receive adequate and fair compensation for the losses which they have suffered through no fault of their own.

It was suggested here today that we should have a new roads authority. I doubt it we should have a new roads authority. After all, the people who are best equipped to deal with our road problems are the various local authorities throughout the country. Those people have long experience of the methods operated for the acquisition of lands; they have the men who are best equipped to construct the new highways and to improve the existing highways. Greater co-operation is necessary between various local authorities so that joint works can be carried out. It can be frustrating when the boundary between two counties is reached and it is found that one local authority may have its arterial road brought up to the arterial road standard while the other county did not even commence the work. Co-operation is necessary between the various authorities so that the work can be streamlined and so that there can be greater continuity on the various stretches of roadways throughout the country. I live in a county situated in the midlands which caters for all the traffic from Dublin to the west and from Dublin to the north-west and all the traffic which goes from Belfast right down to Limerick, to Mitchelstown, to Killarney, Tralee, and all the other southern counties. They all must use the roads in our county and for that reason I feel that a county such as County Westmeath should receive a greater allocation of the main roads grants and the arterial roads grants because of its geographical location. I witnessed over the years the continued steady growth of traffic on all those roads and the Westmeath County Council are not in a position to improve those roads as fast as is necessary because they have not made available to them adequate sums of money. Local authorities located in the various geographical locations should receive a greater share of main road grants for that particular reason.

Take a local authority at the end of the country somewhere. The density of traffic on those roads will not be as great as the density of traffic on roads in midland counties. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary and his Minister to consider seriously increasing the grant allocation in the forthcoming financial year for that particular reason. The Parliamentary Secretary is smiling. I do not know what message he is trying to convey in that smile but I would ask him to consider seriously a greater allocation of the main road grants to the counties that have to carry such a high percentage of heavy traffic and the counties that are situated in those geographical positions.

With regard to the planning of our roadways a long-term policy must be drawn up by all local authorities and the Department of Local Government must be able to say to any local authority how much of the capital allocation they will receive, say, for a period of five years, six years, seven years and so on, to enable them to prepare their plans in advance. Unfortunately grants vary from year to year and local authorities are reluctant to carry out a great deal of advance planning because they do not know what capital allocation will be made available to them. A long-term policy is necessary. Greater co-operation is necessary between the Department of Local Government and the various local authorities to iron out the long-term financial allocations and enable the local authorities to acquire the land, enable them to have the necessary compensation paid out to landowners. When the grants become available they can then proceed to do the work and cut out as much of the piecemeal work as possible. There is nothing more frustrating to landowners and the general public than to see bits and pieces of road constructed here and there with the result that, at the end of each piece of construction, trenches are left unattended to and farmers, in particular, suffer severe losses from badly constructed fences. There is great need for long-term planning and local authorities must be informed in advance of their allocations which they may expect over a five-, six- or ten-year period.

They have the necessary expertise and the necessary personnel available to carry out this long-term planning and they are also in a position to negotiate with the landowners. They have been doing it up to the present and all that is necessary is to put a little more bite into their efforts. That can be done through the Department of Local Government.

Every effort should be made to make the maximum use of the existing roadways. There is always a tendency to go out into new stretches and to build new roadways and to ignore the existing highways. Land is valuable, especially building land adjacent to towns or villages. The cost of land acquisition will impose a heavy burden on all local authorities embarking on the provision of new motorways in the coming years.

For that reason, the best possible use should be made of the existing roadways. That would help to carry out the work more speedily. Consideration must be given and some thinking must be done with regard to the energy situation in Europe at the present time and the fuel situation as it affects Ireland. We must ask ourselves are we to have continuing growth in the number of motor vehicles or have we reached the peak. These are things worthy of serious consideration because there is no good in building any more super highways if we are not to have the traffic to make use of them or the fuel to service the vehicles which use those roads. Much more research will have to be done in consultation with our partners in Europe and in consultation with the oil supplying countries to determine exactly what our position will be with regard to the supply of fuel for all our motor vehicles in the coming years.

I was surprised to hear Senator Robinson talking about placing duties and obligations on local authorities. I have been a member of a local authority since I was 21 years of age and I want to say that by and large they have made every effort to maintain all our roads. In recent years they may have fallen down a little on the maintenance of our secondary roads and some of our county roads but they have done their work as well as was possible taking into account the limited resources which were available to them each year in the form of rates and road grants. If Senator Robinson had decided to become a member of a local authority she would fully realise the duties, the work and the activities of the various local authorities and there would be no need to talk of any amendment imposing any further obligations on them because they are doing their work adequately at the moment and I feel there is not any need for any further amendments in that regard.

There should have been mention of speed limits. All the various activities relating to roads should be taken together. The local authorities should have complete power to decide where speed limits should be imposed. Local authorities throughout the country have carried out traffic surveys on various roads—they are still doing it— and they know the density of traffic in specific districts, they know what will become a fully built-up area and they are best qualified to decide where a speed limit should go. Long delays are created by requesting the Garda authorities to submit information with regard to where a speed limit should go and whether it should be a 30 mile per hour speed limit or a 40 mile per hour speed limit.

I am pleased that local authorities and the Department of Local Government have worked out a scheme for public lighting on our highways. That is very important and will save money in the long run. There is a great deal more involved in that we must bear in mind the activities of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs with regard to their further extensions of telephone cables. We do not like to see roadways being dug up again when work has been completed. That is another Department which must be consulted whenever future road development is being carried out in any county. There is need for greater co-operation between the different sections of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, the Office of Public Works and all the other Departments involved. The ESB are another body involved and I feel that the time has come—it may not be pertinent to this Bill—to get the ESB to carry out long-term advance planning with regard to the laying of wires and that an effort should be made to put as many of those wires as possible underground. I am pleased to see that this has been done in many housing schemes which have been built throughout the country.

This is a step in the right direction because there is nothing more unsightly than a complete network of high tension cables and low tension cables strewn throughout the countryside.

All those various activities require consultation and planning and none of us would try to minimise the amount of administration involved. We all know that there is a great deal involved and it is for that reason that full use must be made of the resources which are available at present to the Department of Local Government.

Another problem that should be considered in dealing with the subject of our roads is pedestrian crossings which are close to crossroads, schools or churches. These are worthy of consideration and I would appeal to the Minister and his staff to deal with them. Another problem that must be considered in the future construction of highways is the provision of new towns and villages outside of Dublin. We all know that Dublin is top heavy and the difficulties we encounter in trying to get in and out of the city— the length of time we spend at traffic lights, in traffic jams, traffic queues and what have you. Greater effort should be made, if we are to build new roads, and new towns and villages within a 50- to 60-mile radius of Dublin, to try to locate new towns and villages on port roads. As we are becoming an exporting nation, we should build our roads so that industrialists can make use of the roads nearest to them in order to get their goods to ports other than the ports of Dublin. Ports like Dundalk, Drogheda and others throughout the country should be more widely used. Again, that requires more planning and more consultation.

There is a great need for new villages at the present time because they would relieve the top-heavy population and traffic problems which we have here in Dublin and it would also ensure faster movement of goods and faster movement of people who want to commute from area to area.

There is need for long-term planning, and as I said before, I should like that each local authority would be asked to prepare either five-year or ten-year schemes so that land would be acquired and that when the money would be made available the local authority would be in a position to go ahead and carry out the work. I would ask that local authorities be required to expend all their main road capital allocation in a particular area each year. This would eliminate all the piecemeal activities. Now that local authorities have more mobile crews they would be able to move them from one part of a county to another and when they start a job they would be able to stay at that job until it is completed. That is very important and in the long run would give greater value for money and greater value for the manpower which is available.

I would make a final appeal to the Parliamentary Secretary to consider those counties which because of their geographical location have to carry such a heavy burden of traffic, counties such as Westmeath, and I would ask that serious consideration would be given to greater grant allocations in future.

This Bill is one to be welcomed and one which requires a certain amount of examination. Some of the provisions in the Bill do not seem to measure up to what might be regarded as a national demand. If we are to have motorways they must be motorways of a national character. They must extend across the country in directions where such traffic is most appropriate.

In the Parliamentary Secretary's opening speech he made references to certain aspects of road services around Dublin. He referred to the Dublin-Belfast road, and the road between this city and Dublin Airport. He also referred to the fact that the characteristics of such a motorway would be that certain slow moving traffic— animals, pedal cyclists and so on— would not be allowed on it. This brings one to the examination of what was in the mind of the Minister or his Department to decide that such a restriction should apply. Suppose we are to have a national motorway standard—by that I mean first primary roads—with the exclusion of tractors, livestock, pedal cyclists, and in the west, north-west and north midlands the exclusion of horses and carts or whatever a farmer takes milk to the creamery with, are we to consider that these new motorways are to be completely apart from and in no way associated with the ordinary main road or trunk road system we have now? Does it mean that the road between Dublin and Sligo or the road between Dublin and Galway may be converted or designated as a national motorway? If so, is all this sort of traffic to be excluded? Is the position one where a secondary road will be built parallel to the motorway? If it is to be built parallel to the motorway to suit the people who use these roads for the purposes I have just mentioned, if they are to be served will they be served on alternative roads or must they go miles out of their way in order to get to their destination?

Suppose somebody in Longford wants to get to Edgeworthstown or Mullingar and the primary road there through Longford to Mullingar becomes a motorway, will the farmers using their tractors, the man using his milk van or the pedal cyclist, have to go through Ballymahon or through Granard in order to get to Mullingar? These are questions we have to ask ourselves. These are questions that will arise when this Bill is passed. If it is passed, and I expect it will, I should like to have an assurance from the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary that an interpretation of the policy in his opening speech is that the rights of the people will not be taken away in the particular way that has been referred to here.

I think we are in need of the upgrading of our road system. Listening to many of the Senators speaking here, the one that first comes to mind is Senator Keegan. In Senator Keegan's county there is a considerable amount of traffic crossing to all parts of the country, as indeed is the case with my own county, Longford. We carry an immensely greater portion of traffic than any of the other counties, either the maritime or the immediate inland counties. We carry the bulk of this country's traffic.

As an example of how lopsided is the Departmental thinking on the priority of roads, or has been over the years—and I am sure Senator Keegan, or anybody who has travelled the road between Longford and Dublin, will bear witness to this—in the Longford area the primary road is something that remains in the memory of anybody who traversed it as being a first class road, well designed, that is the road from the border of Westmeath to the border of Leitrim or Roscommon. As soon as you come to Westmeath it gets narrow, it gets dangerous, it gets treacherous, with many bends. We have "black spot" notices between there and Mullingar on this national road. The reason is not the fault of Westmeath County Council but the Department insisted that Westmeath County Council must neglect that portion and apply all their efforts towards constructing the road between Athlone and Kinnegad. That is what they have been doing.

We had observations here about having a national roads authority. If we are to have a national roads authority, what is it intended to do? Is it intended it will be composed of people who will continue to have this chop and change sort of structure, —an excellent road in one county, an example of what a good road should be, and as a continuation of the same road to the capital an example of what a real bad road is, what no road should be? The answer to this is that the Minister or his Parliamentary Secretary should sit in with the county engineers—not the borough men, because it would have to be a different structure in the boroughs— and say: "I am going to have a national policy on roads and this will be the standard and this will be the direction and these are the areas to be served". I suggest that the service of this country with a national road network should be to areas where there are large population and where industry is located, and from those areas to seaport towns or cities.

The south of Ireland does not carry the same burden in regard to road traffic as does the road through Mullingar, Longford, Roscommon, Sligo, Carrick-on-Shannon and up to Donegal, or through Mullingar, Athlone to Cork, because these are long distances on which the whole industrial and agricultural output of the nation generally has to be transported, and for that reason I agree with Senator Keegan that the requirements are greater and the need for immediate improvement more urgent. I would join with him in appealing to the Minister to deal with that. The condition of these roads is grim. Every county engineer, whether he is the man from Westmeath, Kildare, Laois, Longford or Roscommon, would know he had the same sort of a road as is in the county beside him, having a certain width and contour. That is all a difficulty for the Minister, for his Department and for the administrative officers or county engineers of the various authorities.

The second consideration is that road services at the present time—and this is where some of the observations of Senator Robinson come in—have been geared to meet certain eventualities, certain services, in the past. With the ever changing situation as far as industry is concerned, we must now be prepared to utilise turf. We must in future provide roads which will ensure the safe and speedy transport of fuel from bogs and the transport of workers to the bogs. We are at the stage, in the midlands at least, where we have a very big bog area, marginally greater than in any other part of the country. Development has taken place to some extent. Much more development could take place and it needs to take place if we are to be ready to meet the difficulties that may arise in the future because of a shortage of oil.

The road from the Bord na Móna works at Cuil na gCon in County Westmeath, carries an immense amount of traffic through Westmeath, from the village of Cuil, through the village of Abbeylands and on to Carlow and no more difficult and hard and unnegotiable or more dangerous road with heavy traffic could be found. I think the Minister or his Parliamentary Secretary when he is coming to measure up, and I hope they will measure up on the basis of what I have submitted, will take into account the bringing up of back roads to trunk road standard. I am a member of a local authority. Longford County Council submitted proposals to the Minister to upgrade portion of that road. He upgraded part of it. He has refused to upgrade the rest of it. I am not saying that he is not taking into account the industrial use of that road. However, the balance of the road which goes through one of the most scenic areas of this country—it has been described as another Killarney— is one of the most dangerous in the country, over which many of these heavy trucks and lorries travel. It is not safe.

The Minister is taking powers in this Bill to provide grants. I hope he includes the maintenance of such roads and I would ask him to be retrospective in this respect. This is a sore issue in my constituency where immediately after the war farmers had their land acquired by the county council for realignment of roads. At that time the county council had mesh wire fencing erected replacing a natural mound fence. These fences are pathetic to look at now. If farmers have to replace this fencing it will cost them more than £1,000. I appeal to the Minister to make it an obligation on the county council to replace these fences and to shoulder the responsibility which should be theirs. Senator Robinson spoke of obligations but this is a particular aspect of the obligation of a local authority and I would join with her in asking the Minister to impose it.

The provision of roads is something we all have to look forward to. I do not agree that the oil, fuel or energy crisis will develop that quickly or that the national, international or world resources of oil will disappear overnight. When we come to consider the expenditure of money required to give a reasonable standard of road networks, an immense amount of money will be needed. That brings me to the point made by Senator Keegan in regard to £4½ million. I welcome the provision of £4½ million. I should like to point out to the House and perhaps to Senator Keegan that the increase in taxation on cars and the other problems that arose as a result of the last budget are due to increases in the costs of maintaining the national services as they are, without any improvement, and that the Minister's effort in this direction is to be welcomed. I agree that £4½ million is a small figure in relation to the size of the problem with which the nation is confronted. I agree that the Minister is making a gesture which is to be welcomed and is setting out to do something that has been neglected over the years. This should have been started years ago. We may say we did not have the same ideas about the sort of transport we would have to provide for. We did not have a notion about the present industrialised trends. We did not have the resources. I accept that.

We hope—and I am certain we have every reason to hope—that we are on the road to a greater industrial prosperity. We must utilise whatever national finances we can make available to make our road system a unified one that will enable the people of this country, irrespective of whether they are industrialists, farmers, pedestrians or tourists, to pass from one part of this country to any other part in safety.

In that regard access to these main motorways should be such that we will not have the experience of weekly or daily announcements of serious accidents as is the case on some of the similar roadways in Northern Ireland and Britain. I must admit that pile-ups and deaths do not often happen between Kilcock and Dublin because everyone has to go too slowly. People have to be careful because it is obvious that the road is difficult and dangerous. The efforts to achieve road improvements will have effect. Are the references made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the difficulties in Dublin, the new bridge over the Liffey, and the new direction of roads up to the North Wall to be taken as indications that this is going to be a Dublin effort entirely? Will there still be roads like the Kilcock road? Will there be difficulties of access to the farms, and of farmers taking their cattle on or off the roads——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Could I interrupt the Senator for a moment please? It is now 6 o'clock. It is customary for the House to adjourn for a tea-break. I understand there has been some discussion.

It has been agreed that we carry on.

What is to be done now is to be done entirely in Dublin. I think it should be designated a Dublin Bill, and not a national one. If it is to be done in a general way I hope it will be done on an immensely greater scale than the work that has been done in the past. I hope also that what will be put into effect will be more or less of a conclusive character. In other words, where a certain stretch of road-widening takes place it should be in conformity with what is happening in the rest of the county.

I appreciate that this is a great effort. It is an effort to deal with something that has been neglected. I wish to compliment the Minister, through his Parliamentary Secretary, on the Bill. I think it is worthy of support.

I have very little to say on this subject but I must admit, having listened to the references to highways and superhighways, that I am almost speechless. I drove 210 miles today to reach this House and for 130 miles I was forced to travel on roads that are narrow, twisted, dangerous and in many cases full of potholes. I drove here to arrive in this building to find that a Dublin-orientated Government and, indeed, a fast-becoming Dublin-orientated Parliament, want to proceed with the provision of motorways in this country at a time when the roads in my county and the roads in Counties Leitrim, Mayo, Clare and, indeed, Kerry, are in many cases no better than glorified bogroads. We find from the Parliamentary Secretary's speech that these motorways will be limited as to use to certain specified classes of mechanically-propelled vehicles and that slow-moving traffic will not be allowed on them.

As I listened to Senator Keegan talking about the highways and the superhighways in Westmeath my heart bled for the unfortunate motorists in my county who are not looking for highways, who certainly are not looking for superhighways but who want simple, safe, well-constructed and reasonably wide roads. When these are provided in the entire country then, and only then, should we consider the provision and the construction of motorways. It could be argued that these motorways in many cases will not be constructed but that they will be designated.

Here I must refer to the point raised by Senator Kilbride, who said that this is something that the farmers, the merchants and the truck-owners will not stand for. You cannot tell someone who has been using a road from point A to point B all his life to drive his cattle, to haul his goods or for any other business purpose that he can no longer use this road from A to B but that he should take a roundabout of ten or 15 miles to get to his destination. I believe that the agitation will be such that more and more money will be sought from the Government to provide these motorways in places where they are not needed at this time. I emphasise "at this time" because I am not for one moment suggesting that they will not be needed in the time to come. What I am saying is that I feel that we have our priorities all wrong. Ireland consists of four provinces, not simply Munster and Leinster. There are two provinces left—Connacht, where the roads are certainly nothing to be proud of, and that bit of Ulster which still remains under a Dublin Government.

When Senator Markey referred to the roads in Northern Ireland I presume that he was referring to six of the nine counties of Northern Ireland. I have always said that a stranger driving through the Six Counties, if there was no customs post to tell him where he was, would immediately recognise the fact that he had arrived in County Donegal, County Monaghan or County Cavan because the roads at these points become inferior. There is a vast difference between the standards of roads in the Six Counties of Ulster and in the other three remaining counties of Ulster. I recall stating in this House on a number of occasions that one way to persuade or to encourage our friends across the Border that our standard of living is as good as theirs would be to provide roads along the Border counties on a par with those in the Six Counties. It is true that as far as roadmaking is concerned the Six Counties throughout the years could have taught us many lessons. It is also true of course that the amount of money spent per mile on their major roadways is excessive in comparison with what we spend. I think it costs something like £1 million per mile to construct a major roadway in the Six Counties today but I often watch them and compare the material used on the roadways to the muck that appears to be used on this side of the Border.

It is true to say that the dear job is the cheap job in the long run. Roads on which we spent a nominal sum to construct, say, ten years ago by now have become quite inferior whereas the roads constructed throughout the Six Counties ten years ago show no signs of deterioration.

I agree with Senator Keegan who advocated that the local authorities should have a greater say in the location of speed limit signs. The procedure involved in having speed limits provided in villages and towns is slow and, indeed, often ineffective. It is true that the local Garda officer has a voice, with the local engineer or the county engineer, in determining where these signs should be. The fact that an official of the Department of Local Government is also involved in my opinion slows the matter considerably. I have perhaps practical experience of the delays that this can bring and of the dangers involved, particularly where an area outside a town is built up. I remember some seven or eight years ago making representations for almost 12 months to the Department of Local Government, to the local authority and to the then Minister for Local Government, who represented my constituency, to have signs erected in the Ballyraine district of Letterkenny.

Having failed for 12 months, and having listened to the agitation of the people for 12 months, I went out one night with three of those people and we moved the signs ourselves. I finished up in the District Court in Letterkenny, and was not in any way ashamed of it because I believe that the fuss that we created then was instrumental in those signs being moved officially a short time later.

Protests of this kind should not be necessary in this day and age. If the full responsibility in this matter was left with the local authority and the Garda Síochána these problems could be solved in a proper manner. In his speech, the Parliamentary Secretary stated, as evidence of his own and the Government's concern for the needs of the roads system, that an additional £4½ million was provided this year for the roads programme over and above the amounts provided by our predecessors last year. When I read that I was not sure whether the Parliamentary Secretary was boasting or apologising, as the provision of an extra £4½ million for roadways is a mere pittance, particularly in the north and north-west where only a small proportion of this amount will be spent.

In last year's budget the Government increased motor tax by 10 per cent and the tax on other vehicles by almost 30 per cent. Apart from that the Government introduced a new tax about which I became aware last week when I was taxing a new car. I then discovered I had to pay £5 to register that new car and I realised for the first time that this was yet another new tax which was quietly introduced by the Government in last year's budget.

With all due sympathy for the Senator, I am sure he realises he is going wide of the provisions of the present Bill.

I would be reasonably satisfied if the money collected in this way was used entirely for road maintenance. I should like if the Parliamentary Secretary would tell me what percentage of the Road Fund is spent on the roads. Perhaps it is all spent on the roads. There was a time when it all was so spent. In 1956 the then Coalition Government for the first time raided the Road Fund and used part of the money for purposes other than the maintenance of the roads. The procedure down the years was to use the money collected in this way on the roads. I should like the Parliamentary Secretary, to state the present position. Is all the money paid by the motorists in road tax and all the £5 that new car owners must pay invested in the roads? If it is, that is fair; but, if it is not, it is most unfair to car owners and lorry owners. The Minister should consider this matter carefully and ensure that the money paid in taxes by motorists is invested in the proper manner.

First of all, I should like to thank all the Senators who took part in this debate. Most of them welcomed the Bill. Senator Robinson had genuine reservations which will be discussed on the Committee Stage. Senator McGlinchey seemed much out of tune with Senator Lenihan, who welcomed the Bill. Senator Lenihan is the leader of his party in the Seanad.

The Parliamentary Secretary will agree that I am entitled to my own opinion.

Senator Lenihan made a very useful contribution to the debate. The point he made about raising money from abroad, either from the European Investment Bank or the Regional Development Fund, was excellent. For his information, discussions have taken place with international finance institutions on the general question of financing capital development such as roadways and other projects. CIE and the Department of Posts and Telegraphs have already got substantial loans from the institution I have mentioned. However, to obtain such a loan, as Senator Lenihan is well aware, one must have specific proposals, with costings and so on, before they will come up with the finance.

Senator Russell asked for a definition of a motorway. It is clearly defined in section 2 and it enables the Minister to declare any road to be a national road or a motorway.

Senator Robinson referred to the duties of road authorities. This is stated in section 24 (1) of the Local Government Act, 1925 which reads:

On and after the 1st day of April, 1925—

(a) the maintenance and construction of all county and main roads in a county shall be the duty of the council of such county;

(b) the maintenance and construction of all other roads in an urban district shall be the duty of the council of such urban district.

That should allay any suspicion Senator Robinson had about the duties of county councils or urban councils as the case may be.

A number of Senators spoke about a roads authority. When the Minister spoke on this in the Dáil in the course of his reply to the Second Stage he intimated, inter alia, that he would not in any circumstances agree to put in jeopardy the livelihood of thousands of road workers by handing over the entire road system of this country to a national roads authority or to contract work. In the course of the Committee Stage debate he indicated that he disagreed with Deputy Blaney on the question of having a national organisation, a national roadway board, or whatever you like to call it.

Senator Robinson said that the Minister was going to take away the power of local authorities. In fact he does not take away any power. This is designed to co-ordinate the way in which local authorities will discharge their duties. The alternative is a roads authority, which would take away all the powers the elected members have.

Regarding the remarks made by Senator McGowan and Senator McGlinchey, as far as the Department are aware, there is no big delay in any major scheme for County Donegal at the moment but if the Senators have any specific case in mind we would be only too glad to hear about it. As far as is known in the Department we have not got any scheme for Donegal at the moment awaiting sanction. Senator McGlinchey perhaps could also take up that remark at his next county council meeting, send up proposals to us and then we can take a look at them.

Senator Markey asked for the definition of a "motorway". It is difficult to define the term precisely and a precise definition was more or less avoided in the interests of flexibility. By and large Senator McGlinchey was not against motorways as such. He was probably thinking ten years ahead. It is felt in the Department that it will be years before this scheme gets off the ground anyway. It will take at least ten years to provide a relatively short motorway. This Bill is an enabling measure. With the best will in the world it will be years before we have motorways and there is no need to worry that primary or secondary roads will be deprived of additional allocations because these motorways will go ahead. This is purely a long term project. As everyone in the House knows—it was said quite forcibly at times—we will have to think ahead for the next ten or 20 years. If not, the generations which will come after us will never forgive us.

The debate has been quite useful. We had many Senators repeating what other Senators said. I think I have covered all the points made. The main point was that some people wanted this roadway authority set up and, as I said at the beginning, the Minister would not agree to such a roads authority being set up because he felt it would deprive many thousands of roadworkers all over Ireland of their livelihood.

I again thank Senators for taking part in the debate, especially Senator Lenihan who set the tone of the debate.

Question put and agreed to.

When is it proposed to take Committee Stage?

I would suggest a fortnight's time to enable consideration of amendments to be made, particularly in view of Senator Robinson's statement that she has a specific amendment. I understand that there may be amendments in the circumstances.

The difficulty here is that if we order for a fortnight's time it cannot be taken earlier. If we order it for next week it could be taken here next week or the week after.

Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 27th March, 1974.