Transport (Re-organisation of Córas Iompair Eireann) Bill, 1986: Second Stage (Resumed).

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

I spoke briefly the last day we discussed this legislation. I had only four or five minutes available to me to sound a note of caution to the Members of the House and indeed to the Minister, Deputy Mitchell. This House should not be seen to rubber stamp or to rush through this Bill without a proper level of discussion at all Stages and on all sections. I did this on the basis first of all, of the reservations that Members of my party have about the legislation, the reservations that the trade union movement have about the legislation and indeed the reservations I have, as a Member of the Oireachtas. I do not think any Minister should introduce a Bill and, expect to get all Stages immediately without a proper discussion from all sides of the House. I sympathise with Senator Killilea who is the spokesman on this legislation. We should try to facilitate him.

It is important for this side of the House and for the Labour Party to know exactly what the Fianna Fáil attitude to this legislation is. Only by so doing, are we likely to get, at the end of the day, legislation that can be implemented on the ground, legislation that will have the co-operation of the people involved in the transport business and of the CIE workers. It was because of these considerations and the importance of this legislation that I expressed the reservations I did on the last occasion.

The Minister showed his disapproval of my reluctance to give a speedy passage to the Bill. I want to remind him on the record of the House, that it is my function and my role as a legislator to look at legislation properly, to deal with it specifically as I see it, item by item, and at the end of the day, when this House so decides, then the Minister will have his legislation, and not before. There has never been a question in this House of any legislation being railroaded through or a guillotine on a discussion on any resolution or Bill. As a member of one of the Parties in Government I want to have the opportunity to put my reservations on the record of the House. We are a distinct political party with a policy on transportation, with a policy on CIE and with a special committee set up to deal with the problems that a restructuring of CIE will create. At the end of the day, we will by that process, have achieved what the Minister wants and what the people involved in the implementation of the legislation want. I reserve the right, as a legislator, to have that role. If not, I can only sit down at parliamentary party meetings and listen to a decision that has been taken at Cabinet, and there is no role for the Houses of the Oireachtas. I am putting that on the record of the House for the information of the Minister, who expressed his reservations about my contribution on the last occasion.

I will now proceed, to put on the record the Labour Party point of view, on this legislation, and the trade union movement's reservations about this legislation, to listen to the Minister's response when all of us have had our opportunity to speak. When the Minister has responded, we can consult with him, with other individuals inside and outside of this House and then proceed to Committee Stage. I am not sure how long that process will take. I have no intention of precluding anybody from making a valid contribution to this legislation. As the Minister said in his opening remarks on Second Stage this is historic legislation. I am respecting his view on that and I want to treat it as such.

There are people involved in the workings of CIE who have expressed reservations about this legislation because they see in it a similarity to the McKinsey report which looked at all aspects of the reorganisation of our transport system. That report was subjected to a lot of critical analysis, not just by legislators but by people involved in the business, by workers involved in CIE who looked at McKinsey and felt that it would create problems which would set back the reorganisation or the proper restructuring of our transport policy in this country for decades. Because of that various resolutions were passed at Labour Party conferences. One in particular comes to mind, that McKinsey would not be implemented by the Government and there was a specific commitment from my party publicly at our annual conference that we would not implement McKinsey. There are people now within the trade union movement and elsewhere who see a similarity between this legislation and McKinsey. It is a matter for the Minister to explain where it is dissimilar and where there are distinct differences. As is commonly known, that is the Labour Party position on McKinsey. It is on the record now of this House and is on the record of our party policy committees. Following that decision at conference not to implement McKinsey we felt, as a responsible political party, that we had an obligation to set up specialised committees to deal with all aspects of the transport policy. We did that in the light of the publication of the McKinsey Report, the rejection of it by us as a political party and the publication of the Government planBuilding on Reality. It is arising from the plan Building on Reality that the Minister has, through the Cabinet process framed the legislation before us. I trust and hope that this is a Bill for discussion and debate, and amendment if necessary. It is in that context that I intend to proceed with my Second Stage contribution.

Having set up these specialised committees in the party on transport on 2 October and 16 October when we sat down formally to consider the plan, we considered that only those aspects of the plan which would affect public transport by road and rail and CIE in particular would be considered by this specialised committee. I will put on the record of the House at a later stage the comments of this committee, the reasons for their findings and the reason we are offering them as suggestions for the legislation. I know that apart from this legislative process all sorts of other opportunities will be availed of by everybody, including ourselves, to have discussions with the Minister to find out his views. Indeed we will listen with attention to his Second Stage reply.

You should have started with the promise given by Dick Spring to the train drivers association in Limerick prior to the last election. That would be a better start. He guaranteed that there would be no dissecting of CIE. What has happened to that?

Senator Ferris.

I went back to a conference decision in Limerick before we entered into Government to say that there would not be an implementation of McKinsey. It is from that standpoint that I am making my contribution, and if Senator Killilea can wait around long enough to hear the views expressed on this——

We will have amendments. Do not worry.

We will. We have changed legislation here before. The Labour Party have been instrumental in changing legislation and Labour Party Ministers have conceded amendments in this House before.

We understood last week that Senator Killilea was happy with the Bill.

No, he is not.

In spite of efforts to discredit what is a responsible response to legislation I want to continue, if at all possible, with some constructive comments.

There is a major dichotomy between the plan and the treatment which was given to the road mode and the rail mode and CIE as a whole. In sections 324 and 329 of the plan the importance of the road network is mentioned to justify accelerated State investment. On the other hand, sections 342 and 343 talk of the declining importance of CIE and the heavy and growing burden it has placed on the taxpayer. The railway is promised a package of retrenchment measures and no substantial investment. I travel to Dublin regularly by train. I complimented CIE and their employees last week for the service they give. Many people knock them but they give a tremendous service. At the moment CIE are giving a tremendous service from the provinces to Dublin. There is a mainline rail service from Dublin to Cork which is second to none. I would not like to see any restructuring of CIE which might put the provincial part of that service in jeopardy. I know there are over one million people living in Dublin and that they need transportation but there are many people in the country who need transportation also. The express bus services do not give that transportation. I know old age pensioners who have free travel and they have no buses to pick them up. I know old age pensioners who have free travel and they have no railways, they have no stations at which to wait for a train. They have to hire a taxi to reach the nearest train station. I live in a rural constituency in the province of Munster which is totally dependent, not on a mainline rail between Dublin and Cork, but on a cross country service. The vast majority of visitors arrive at Rosslare Harbour, and they cannot get to the west of Ireland without changing from railways to buses and from buses to railways, some of which run parallel with each other. The west of Ireland is one of the major tourist attractions in the country. These visitors are almost diverted by a decision made by somebody sitting in an office in Dublin who might not even know about a province requiring a cross country service. I have been a co-ordinator of an all party Oireachtas committee for the whole of the south east — talking into account Wexford, Waterford, Carlow, Kilkenny, North Tipperary and South Tipperary — to ensure that the rail link from Rosslare harbour to Limerick Junction, which then goes on to service Limerick and the west, remains intact. On numerous occasions in the past ten years it has been under threat. If that line goes as a tourist line it also removes the viability of Thurles sugar factory which is totally dependent on the transportation of beet from the beet growing areas of Wexford and Kilkenny. Therefore, it has a very important structural implication for the provinces I talk about.

We have none from Sligo.

The Senator is quite right. I thoroughly agree.

I want to make sure that whether we have two, three or four companies restructured in this Bill, the provincial services will not be second class in the mind of some board whose first priority might be to maintain a service in the city of Dublin only. I have stressed the importance of providing that facility in Dublin because over one million people require transportation in the city in some form or another. The other two million people are spread throughout the country. That does not exclude the responsibilities on a transport authority to provide an adequate service for people in rural areas. I will be fighting for that and I will be against anything in the restructuring of our greatest transportation company that might put any part of that service in jeopardy. I know the Minister has addressed himself to the problem of subsidy with a social content and that above a certain line the service given by CIE is considered to be a social and not an economic one. It is important for all of us as legislators to realise that there is a social content in a lot of transportation. In other countries throughout the world it is so important to give transport to the people that even some Governments give that transportation free to ensure that people can move from one place to another. Infrastructural development in transportation is of vital importance. It is important that CIE and the board of CIE should realise that.

When I talk about the board of CIE I want to pay a special tribute to the worker directors on the board of the company who by their contributions within the board's structure have proven that they are capable and qualified to be members of the board and have had a major development role within the board to ensure that the kind of philosophy I am talking about has filtered through. I would like to see more of that and I would like to get an assurance about various rail lines which I am concerned about. I would like assurances that the defects of the Barrow bridge will be looked after to ensure that the proper rail link from Rosslare Harbour into Waterford and on to Limerick Junction and then to the West will continue. I want to thank CIE for having received me on numerous occasions representing the Oireachtas Members and with many of my colleagues of all parties on that specialised committee. They have put quite a lot of capital investment into the renewal, repair and relaying of much of that line. That was a welcome development for us because we could see at least that they were serious about this cross province line which is so vital to the infrastructure of the country. I am delighted to recognise on the ground a development of a new rail head at Rosslare Harbour which is an indication that we recognise that that is a port of embarkation for many tourists to this country and it is appropriate that we should develop the services there for them.

It is important also that tourists who purchase Euro rail tickets, before they arrive in this country, can have the fullest possible use of those rail tickets in Ireland. At present the ticket cannot be interchanged between trains and buses. It must be used specifically for rail. I hope that tourists who come in with a Euro rail ticket can use it to the fullest and have trains to get them to all parts of Ireland, particularly tourist areas.

The Labour Party in formulating this response to the problem of the reorganisation of our transport, in setting up this committee, talked about the importance we attached to what we considered was an effort in the legislation to meet some of the problems and what we feel may create some more. That is what this House is about to discuss, how we will underline those problems and reconcile them.

There is a stark contrast in the plan also between the accelerated investment in roads and the cutbacks in rail investment. We have had a major road infrastructural development programme. This Government, to their credit, have invested a lot of money, public money and European money, into the development of a proper road infrastructure. We all welcome that. If we are going to have industrial development we must have a proper road structure. It is a cardinal sin however to use road transport where there are railway lines which could be used to carry goods and services and do so cheaper and more efficiently. It is a waste of public money to develop the road network when, in fact, the railway network is there ready to be used if properly designed rolling stock is put on it that will suit commuters and tourists and can also be used by industrialists.

I had the problem — and I brought this to the attention of the board of CIE when I was making a submission about the importance of the rail link I talked about — that Thurles was a central railhead, that goods which were despatched to Tipperary station to be distributed to shopkeepers in Tipperary and other areas, arrived in Tipperary and it had then to be sent by train from Tipperary to Thurles and it had to be forwarded from Thurles by road back to Tipperary for distribution. Somebody had to ask questions about that. That is the kind of distribution that we have had and that is the kind of thing that we want to come to grips with. Those are the kinds of inefficient activities that we want to stop. We want to try to make sure that proper links are available in the network to be able to deal with that type of operation.

Many people transport goods by rail and if they are not transporting them by rail there is something wrong with the service being given for the transportation of goods. It means that we have not the right network or the right stations; it means that we are not doing it correctly because it is the most economical, fastest and most efficient way of doing it. It is cheaper to run an engine on a rail line towing carriages which will carry a hundred times more goods and passengers than to put a bus on the road to carry a fraction of the passengers with a fraction of their luggage. There is no doubt about the economics of it. The rail links are there.

I was talking to some people from Clare before I came up here and mentioned that we were going to discuss this Bill. They asked me to put on the record what a tragedy it was that we ever removed the west Clare rail link, the west Clare railway line, the narrow one, the one that is sung about. Imagine the tourist attraction it would be now. Somebody in their wisdom considered that it was defunct and took up the railway line. If we had it now we could make a fortune on it. In any other part of the world the people who would decide to remove such railway lines would be assassinated.

Other railway lines have also been removed. The major town in my constituency, Clonmel, does not have a rail link to Dublin. People have to go to Limerick Junction or Thurles to catch a train. That is not meeting the demands of the people. That is not a way to transport people from their workplace or where they are living to the main cities. They have to drive 30 or 40 miles one way or another to get to the nearest railway station. These are some of the problems. We had a railway link from Waterford to Tramore. Then we decided to run buses on the roads creating traffic jams with cyclists, pedestrians and motorists while there was a railway line which could transport most of them; but we took it up and left nothing.

All these things need forward planning. I would hope that in the restructuring of CIE and coming to grips with this problem this kind of error will not be made again and that we would sit down and discuss with everybody concerned the best way to achieve a transport policy for this country.

Section 3(c) of the plan also promised cost benefit subsidies for major road schemes to determine priorities. There is no suggestion of using cost benefit analysis for railway investment and for any schemes for railway investment or to determine priorities between road and rail and road or rail. There is no cost benefit analysis proposed to help decide between road investment and rail disinvestment. These are the decisions I am talking about. There is a definite need to link the two costs. If CIE decided to close this railway link from Rosslare to Limerick Junction I as a member of a local authority would now have to find the money somehow by estimates, rates, by demands on central Government to provide the alternative road link that would be then required for the transportation of heavier goods on the roads. I consider that the roads are no place for these big vehicles or juggernauts, these articulated lorries. All these goods should go by rail. That is what the lines are there for. In every other country in the world, in India and places like that which are impoverished in comparison to us, they use all that kind of infrastructure to get people and goods off the main roads. In section 3(2)(iv) of the plan the existing rail network is compared to the total road system. This is evidence of bias in the compilation of the plan. The comparison should be like with like if that was even possible. There is even a more positive aspect in favour of the rail links.

The Labour Party policy committee on transport when they further considered this, concluded that the proposals for public transport contained in the plan were almost unacceptable unless explained and teased out to the fullest extent. These proposals even run counter to the spirit of the intent of our party on transport policy development on many very important issues. They are also contrary to specific party policy.

The plan proposes to begin with what could be considered as in some way, by sleight of hand or by deliberate intent or by accident the introduction of McKinsey under another name, like changing the name from Windscale to Sellafield. You can change the name but it does not make any difference if the end result is the same. We are anxious that the Minister in his response will reassure us on all the fears that we have in this particular area.

Various resolutions which specifically dealt with transportation and were carried at our party conference actually need to be put on the record of the House so that the Minister will realise that I have not just something in my bonnet about this problem but that I have a serious concern which I feel it my duty to express. I feel that the Minister himself could probably benefit from listening to the tone of the background information to us and the way we want to process the legislation.

Following the party conference which I referred to in 1982 we produced at that conference a party programme which is not just individual policies but is an evolving programme which takes on board the existing policy and promotes it, gets it into legislation and moves on to another area. We are quite a democratic party in that respect. Because of that we treat seriously these areas of legislation in which we feel we have an expertise and indeed I think we could say we have a direct link with the trade union movement involved in this area. I would quote from the programme of the Labour Party on transport under the heading "Transport — Radical Policy", section 1(1) which says:

Labour believes that a radical transportation policy is required in order to obtain the following social and economic objectives:

(i) Equal mobility for all citizens.

(ii) Efficient and energy conserving systems.

(iii) Economic and efficient movement of freight.

(iv) Protection of the environment from noise and air pollution.

We will be dealing with the Air Pollution Bill in the near future. There will be many people who will have comments about pollution from nuclear power plants in other countries and in other states over which we have no jurisdiction. We would like to ask them to close down their plants or do other things that we do not have the power to do and within our membership of the Community we will be using whatever influence we have. Here is a way to guard our environment. Particularly since the advent of diesel anything can help to promote the protection of the environment from air pollution, especially diesel air pollution, is something that we have to encourage. Our party programme has stated in its radical transport policy that this is one area to which we should have regard.

Section 11 (2) of the same programme says:

Labour is committed to the provision of a public transportation system as an essential social service. Labour is determined to improve and extend the public transport system within built up and new urban areas, but equally within our rural areas which have seen the decline of an effective public transport system. Labour therefore express their commitment to public transport as an essential social service and in line with this commitment will positively examine

(a) the concept of the flat fare for urban services

(b) the re-organisation of existing routes

(c) the development of the urban rail network.

From that section of our party programme one can realise why I have put on the record of the House our commitment to the whole philosophy of public responsibility for transportation but also our attitude towards the social service it provides and the fact that there should be Government commitment, capital and otherwise, to ensure that this will all fall into place. That is not confined to the urban area of Dublin where a lot of people depend on public transport but rural areas should not be denuded of a transport system and certainly rural people should not be treated as second class citizens.

That is why I have reservations about the number of companies the Minister has in his legislation. If we have one company dealing with the Dublin rail and one for Dublin bus transport and one company dealing with provincial rail and bus transport, as a provincial representative I could find a bias in favour of the city. From an economic point of view it would be difficult to argue against that because the major income will be from the urban areas but as a socialist I would like to think that all transport systems throughout the country would help each other and that there would be an inter-dependence and inter-linking between the two of them and this is where members of the staff come into it. At the moment staff can exchange within the structure of CIE. If they are broken up into different companies and there are redundancies in one company they cannot change to another because they will be separate companies. If that is not the case then let the Minister tell me that it will not happen and that in the setting up of companies he will have an overall transport company, CIE as it is known now, that the others will be subsidiary companies only who will carry out the policy of the parent company and that these will only be at executive level. If that is the case let us tease it out and see if that is how it will work on the ground but certainly the workers in the transport industry at the moment could have no assurance that with this restructured CIE there will be any future in the company for a lot of them. This is one of the areas they have reservations about. It is because of the labour content, the service they give, the service we expect them to give and the cost to the taxpayer of the service—which is good value for money —that the Labour Party want to discuss the implications of this legislation.

Motorways in themselves are important. There is a new motorway outside Naas and the pay-back for that is beyond doubt. Everybody now agrees that the economics of making that motorway were justified and Naas people have proved that they can actually survive being by-passed by giving additional services off the line. Our buses use these motorways, which is important if we are going to have a provincial bus service as well as a provincial rail service. We are opposed to the construction of urban motorways through existing urban environments as was originally proposed for the Dublin region. We oppose those because of the environmental and social impact of providing that type of infrastructural development of motorways within a city like Dublin. It would absolutely ruin the city. I would agree with any type of transport system which would be underground but proposals for any systems overground should be looked at with a very cautious eye because we could spoil the entire city of Dublin by building motorways linking various routes by overhead bridges and otherwise. As members of local authorities we would have to ensure that all the people involved would have concern for pedestrians, cyclists, disabled people and so on. We would be concerned about the traffic congestion which exists at present and we can learn a lot from other cities which have been faced with traffic congestion and have approached the problem in a different manner from what we were proposing.

The Labour Party in their policy document also said that the rural bus services should be improved. We suggested that standard 54 seater bus should be used only on a few high density routes, that we should experiment with low demand routes, post office buses and private operators in rural areas. There is nothing ideological wrong with that. We are talking about a major national transportation service that has to be run by the public service because nobody but the State will run an uneconomic service, uneconomic in terms of whether a route is profitable. I am more concerned with the social aspects of some of the routes and I hope that any new boards which are set up will have regard to the actual social impact of a transport system.

Many cases have been made against McKinsey on widely known views and we would contend that in breaking up CIE into smaller units there would be no overall co-ordination or control. Perhaps the Minister will confirm that the executive board at the top will be the policy formulating board. If that is so, let us discuss it and find out if there will be overall co-ordination or control of the system. We fear there could be a reduction in the railway size or a reduction in the importance of railways or the ability to provide a service by rail. We would fear that rural bus services, insignificant as they are in some cases now, might be decimated and we would also fear that there would be a reduction in access to transport for those who are now at the greatest disadvantage. I have dealt briefly with those in the social welfare category who have the facility of free transport but are now disadvantaged because they cannot get to where the transport is. This is exactly opposite to what my party would stand for in an integrated policy structure of planning and co-ordination of all our public transport services in the most effective and efficient manner. We would like also to advocate an increase in access to comfortable efficient transport for those who are disadvantaged, physically or financially.

I should like to pay tribute to the former chairman of CIE, Dr. Liam St. John Devlin. I crossed swords with him on numerous occasions but I want to pay tribute to his commitment to the whole concept of a transport authority. He had his own views on McKinsey. In fact the existing chairman of Córas Iompair Éireann also has his own views on it and his views are well known. Certainly they are well known to staff members and there is no point in me putting them on the record. If we are to have a dynamic board in CIE we must have a dynamic level of participation by board members. It is very important that the people on the board should be on it because of their commitment to the concept of public transport and for that reason I was able to pay tribute to the worker directors on the board because I know of their commitment to the service. They are elected by their peers, by the men on the buses and trains at all levels who go through a voting procedure to appoint the worker-directors. They can bring to bear at board level the views of the people involved in the industry. Those views should not be lightly turned down or disregarded because they would be the most constructive views that could be given to a board. Our compliments to the previous Minister for Labour who initiated the legislation to ensure that they could be elected to their own board. The whole principle of worker democracy and workers participation is followed through in that regard.

The trade union movement, including the ITGWU and Congress, have also expressed various reservations about this legislation, and we are arranging a process of discussion and dialogue with these people because they have expertise available to them that may not necessarily be available to legislators, and it is through that process that we must try and improve the legislation. I know that the Minister and the parliamentary draftsmen in preparing the legislation had available to them also certain levels of expertise in this area. It is a blending of the two sides and a blending of these expert views put before the Cabinet and the Houses of the Oireachtas which will allow for legislation which we can stand over. My own union have told to me that they are recording certain objections to this Bill. They feel that the Bill is an effort to implement the McKinsey report under another heading. Officials from the ITGWU will be speaking on this legislation and they will be reiterating this and stating their own views. They are opposed to the McKinsey report being implemented in any guise. That viewpoint from the union is well documented. They say that they have consistently opposed many Government plans — not just this Government's plans in respect of CIE over the years as invariably these plans totally neglected the social aspect of the CIE operation both urban and rural and paid no regard whatsoever to the welfare or job security of the workforce in the company.

I have already stated that as my personal view and my union substantiates this view. It is the responsibility of the Minister to reassure the workers in CIE that they do have an element of job security and that in a restructuring situation we will have to ensure within the legislation that their security will be ensured in so far as it is practicable. We had to do that when we were legislating for An Bord Telecom and An Post because the original drafting of the legislation gave no such assurances. It is necessary when making fundamental changes by way of legislation to have regard to the existing workers and also the views expressed by their unions because their unions will be faced with the problem of negotiating for their members when all the legislators have finished and gone. Then it will have to be put into operation on the ground; so, we must overcome the problems as we see them now before we get to that stage so that when the Bill is passed it will reflect those views and will make the operation of the legislation much more beneficial and realistic.

The Transport Union are stressing that the Bill, if enacted as it is, would be to the detriment of the company, its workforce and the community it is charged to serve. These are fairly strong words from a very responsible union and they do not like to make these accusations. They are prepared to back them up by submissions on various sections. I think it would be inappropriate to deal with too many sections on Second Stage; it would be more relevant to Committee Stage. They are objecting to certain sections. They are asking for the repeal of some sections, the withdrawal of some of them and the amendment of some of them. We will be going through that process in this House. They are opposed to the concept of split- ting up the company as it would be clear that any of the proposed three new companies which would be registered under the Companies Acts could be liquidated. The wording of the Bill they say conflicts with the promise of the Minister given to the ICTU deputation at a meeting on 29 October 1985 and confirmed subsequently by letter of 8 November 1985. Again, the union are making the point that to break up CIE into three companies is contrary to the wishes of the unions.

We have sufficient problems with unions at the moment, whether they be teachers' unions or agricultural unions, etc. No Minister should lightly go into an area where he would have a confrontation with the unions especially if the union are prepared to discuss and negotiate with him before he implements legislation or before he finalises it. This is appropriate because CIE is a major employer in this country. There are many people in the company who are represented by very powerful and responsible unions. If there are problems we must sit down and discuss them. We must listen to the unions and try and compromise in some areas and by so doing we will have served all the interests for which we are responsible.

There has been reference to section 14, (2) and (3), which state that consultation and agreement on appointments and terms of conditions etc. would be needed from the unions. They mention that the wording in this Bill conflicts with the Government's letter of 8 November. Again, it is important to read the Minister's statement in respect of this section where he said:

It empowers the board to designate existing employees for employment by a company and it obliges staff so designated to transfer to that company.

So on the one hand it is being made obligatory through legislation and on the other hand it is being left open to negotiation and discussion with the union. It cannot be both ways. It has to be either one way or the other. Up to now the unions have proved that they are capable of negotiating on behalf of their members.

Congress, which is the overall co-ordinating body of the whole trade union movement, issued a press statement recently in which they said that the CIE unions have considered the Government's legislation on the proposed reorganisation of CIE. I will quote from their Press statement of 14 March:

The Unions support the idea of renewal and improvement of CIE services.

That is the first fundamental principle. They agree with and support the idea of a renewal and improvement of the services. They recognise that all is not well: they want to improve it and they are prepared to do so. They think that this Bill is not the best approach and that the proposal to increase Government control over CIE wages and conditions is a recipe for chaos in the industrial relations of the new companies.

That is a problem because one cannot statutorily and legislatively control wages because if one does, one is eliminating the whole concept of the trade union movement which has been built up over many torturous years, from the foundation of the trade union movement in 1910 up to the present, and has given rights to people to negotiate on behalf of their members. If there is a statutory control over that right then we could be heading for trouble. It is important that the flexibility of discussion, agreement or disagreement and the powers presently vested in unions should not be lightly discarded by legislating to make it obligatory. Guidelines can be set down by Governments and it is appropriate that there would be guidelines. There could be guidelines set down by the social partners, the Government and the trade union movement who not only represent the working people of the country but who also voice opinions of behalf of the under-privileged, the social welfare recipients. In many of the national wage agreements between the social partners those under-privileged who had nobody to speak for them found an ally in the trade union movement. So, one can have national wage agreements and one can have agreed national concepts of wage agreements but it is a far cry from statutory control because in that way you could have any Government at any time with a majority in the Houses of the Oireachtas, deciding that they would put a statutory embargo on a particular wage or on the possibility of improving a wage increase. That is one of the reasons the Irish Congress of Trade Unions have reservations.

The unions are disappointed also that the Government, in drafting the Bill, have totally ignored, in their opinion, the views of the CIE workforce, expressed through their unions. In particular, they are critical of the proposal to separate the different sections of CIE into independent organisations under the Companies Act, particularly in the light of the experience of the taxpayer and the workers in Irish Shipping. Divorcing the railways and provincial bus services is not practical, the Congress says, as the services share joint facilities. That is an important point to consider. Existing facilities are shared between different services in the overall transport service. If we suddenly, through the registration of different companies, have a demarcation line between one and another, and set up division lines, we will create some problems. There is no doubt about that. With joint facilities it is very difficult to legislate about who should be responsible for what. At present, we have one body responsible for all. There can be joint sharing without separate accountability, or if there is accountability, it can be justified by the sharing of the facilities.

The Congress feel that this could lead to a costly duplication of services and the eventual deterioration of the service in the provincial community. This is a point that I cannot over-emphasise. Coming from the provinces and the rural part of Ireland, I am afraid of any move that could put the services in the rural part of the country into jeopardy. I will be looking for the strongest possible assurance that whatever we do at the end of the day, we will take into account the fact that people in other parts of the country require a service as well.

Congress go on to say that the unions think that the proposed legislation should be amended in consultation with all parties. I hope that the Labour Party will act as a catalyst in this and that they will arrange that the fullest possible consultation goes on between the unions, the Government and the Houses of the Oireachtas. They feel that if the legislation is suitably amended it could help in improving the services provided by a national transport company.

Those are some of the reservations which I wanted to put on the record of the House on the last occasion. I hope that in so doing I have confirmed to the Minister that there was need for reservations and that because something was agreed at Cabinet level it does not necessarily mean that it could not be open to discussion at the greatest length, and to amendment if that was considered necessary and agreement reached on it. If we followed this road or rail link in this legislation, we could achieve what all of us want to achieve by way of good legislation.

I deliberately will refrain from dealing with the various sections because I am privy to some comments that have been made at the various subcommittees on various sections of the legislation. I will leave those for discussion on the Committee Stage of the Bill because by the time we arrive at the Committee Stage, whenever that is, the Minister will have had the opportunity of having consultations with us in order to tease out proposed amendments or perhaps amendments on which we can agree. Perhaps there will be amendments which he will confirm are not possible. This is the spirit in which I want to approach the legislation. This is the spirit in which I hope the Minister will approach it. I am sure the Minister will recognise the role we have as legislators in formulating our attitude to a Bill and the completion of it and in trying to perfect the legislation. There is no Bill that has ever come before me that was not subject to amendment or improvement.

I will put it another way. There was no Bill ever before me that did not have something imperfect about it, whether it was drafting or an oversight in another House to amend legislation — that has happened — or whether it was the emphasis in the words used by parliamentary draftsmen. No Bill that ever came before us was not capable of discussion and amendment. This Bill is no exception. I would safely say that this Bill is one which could improve by way of amendment. The overall thrust of what the Minister and the Government want to do can be improved by amendments, possibly in this legislation. That would not in any take from the thrust of whatBuilding on Reality was all about and what the whole principle involved in that programme of the Government was all about. I sincerely hope that at the end of the day when all our problems have been aired and responded to by the Minister and agreements have been reached, the legislation which we will send to the Dáil will be legislation that we, in the Seanad, can be proud of.

I want to defend our role in this House to follow that line. If I did not defend that role I would be agreeing with other people that this House should be abolished. I feel that this House has a major role to play. I thank the Minister for initiating the legislation here. By initiating it in the Seanad he will be assured that by the time it gets to another place for another perusal and another look by other legislators it will have benefited to no small extent from having been before us in the first instance. We will be looking at it calmly with a lot of expert advice available to us. We will be looking at it outside of the hurlyburly of the politics and votes of the Dáil. The voting strengths in this House are irrelevant because at any time if we wanted to call a vote on this side of the House on a particular section we could carry it. That is not that way we have ever legislated in this House. We have always listened to the Opposition side, even if they had a smaller number of people there. They have a valuable contribution to make in formulating legislation. Their views are ones we should listen to. There are other minority views in the House. There are views from the Labour Party side of the House and those views are important. Those views can carry with them the power and the influence of the trade union movement with which we have such close links, particularly in the area of transport.

I say that with a degree of pride. My grandfather, in the era of Connolly and Larkin, was a Labour Party councillor. He originated from County Kerry and was, in fact, an employee of the old-structured Great Southern Railways, and I am very proud of that. I have a long personal association with the industry and with the whole transport services in this country. I have an interest in it. I want to make a valuable contribution. I want to arrange any dialogue that is necessary between ourselves and the Minister, or between the Minister and the unions, or any other forum. I have had that kind of link with it in the past. One of the greatest tragedies, in my opinion, that happened in my village of Bansha was the fact that we closed our railway station. It was a very important link between the people there and the nearest towns, and with Dublin, Limerick Junction and Rosslare Harbour. I do not want to see that link being eroded by either legislators or anybody else. I would like to have an input. It was for that reason — although the Minister reprimanded me for it — that I expressed caution and asked the Minister to "stop at a few stations" on the way. There are a lot of mainline stations in this legislation. I am referring to "stations" in the terminology of sections. There are many sections here that we will need to consider very carefully.

We will need to talk about them in order to know if they are valuable or otherwise, and whether they can be deleted or if they must be kept because they are necessary. The Minister was born and reared near the railway terminal at Inchicore. He will know what my interest in it is. I go back very far in it, as I said.

I almost lost one of my family in a major rail disaster — the Buttevant rail disaster. One of my children was the only survivor in the carriage in which most people were killed. That was a trauma. That was something that altered all our lives as it altered the lives of many people in this country. It took the lives of many people. Thankfully the boy survived and is well, but I want to thank the authorities for the sympathy they showed to us in those traumatic moments of a major rail disaster where so many people lost their lives and where I thought my son had lost his life. I want to thank everybody in CIE at the time who were most helpful to us. It is a service that I am very proud of. It is a service that cannot be praised too much.

The people working in the industry are to be looked up to and complimented. They work extraordinary hours, day and night, to provide a service to the community. There are trains and transport on the move day and night during the beet season. They are bringing letters throughout the country. It goes on all the time. Much of the activity happens when the rest of the people, who complain most, are in bed asleep. There are people working on shifts, and even on late night shifts. The people involved in this work should not have a deaf ear turned to them. I would like to think that we would listen carefully to their views. Eventually when the Minister gets the legislation completed, and amended, as it might be, he should feel before it goes to another House, that it is legislation which he is pleased he brought to the Seanad. I hope he feels that it will have improved as a result of bringing it here, following the fullest discussions in this House.

I certainly feel that this is a Bill that requires the fullest debate in both this House and in Dáil Éireann. It will have major consequences on future transport policy. If it was suggested by somebody that the Bill should pass through this House with some haste, then Senator Ferris is totally correct in saying that should not be the way. It is my strong view that every single line of this Bill should be examined at Committee Stage.

Many people have an interest in this Bill — professional politicians at this level and in Dáil Éireann, local politicians, Government, staff and workers of CIE and, of course, the trade unions. I was, indeed, amazed to hear from Senator Ferris that little, if any, consultation took place with the unions in regard to this legislation. If that is the case, then it is very wrong. Here we have a company employing 14,000 people. This Bill is going to affect their lives and their work situation for the rest of their lives. Certainly, I would like to think — even if that is the position as the Senator outlined — from now on that consultation would take place immediately with interested groups.

The unions have a role to play in this area. Of late I find myself getting correspondence from unions. I had a long letter today from the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union. It seems to me to consist of three pages of amendments to the Bill. I would have hoped that all this would have been taken care of long before the Bill came before this House. I can refer to that at a subsequent stage in my address.

In this Bill, as I said, we are talking about the major consequences for the future transport policy of this country, a policy that will affect generations to come. It is vital that we get what is best for the future in terms of an effective transport system. It is important that we get in this legislation something that will help to allay the genuine fears of the workforce of CIE.

Senator Ferris referred to the fact that his party are opposed in principle to the implementation of the McKinsey report. One may call this Bill whatever one likes, but it seems to me that it is an implementation of the McKinsey report under a totally different heading. The Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill reads, in the introduction:

The Bill, which implements the Government decision on the re-organisation of CIE as published in the National PlanBuilding on Reality provides for CIE being retained as the parent company to three new operating subsidiaries to be formed by the Board of CIE and registered under the Companies Acts.

The new companies are mentioned, Irish Rail, Irish Bus, and Dublin Bus. The Bill also:

... sets out the principal objects of the companies and provides for the assignment to the new companies of staff and the protection of conditions of service of staff.

It is, as I said, quite an important Bill. As I said also, it is the McKinsey report under another heading. I find from my experience as a local politician over the years that CIE are very nice people to meet in regard to problems that exist. Over the years there was always — certainly in the area I represent — very close liaison between CIE and the local authorities. There was a complementary role which I always felt was important. In Athlone we have had, over the years on different occasions, to meet different district mangers and their staff about problems. Many times we have had deputations either to CIE or from CIE. There was always a very good relationship. This is as it should be. I have often found, unfortunately, for the people concerned, that CIE were governed by regulations and rules. Despite the best will in the world when the various problems were discussed, little headway might be made. If we have this Bill going through with the holding company plus the three other companies, we are going to have further layers of bureaucracy which will not be helpful. We have the four companies, the holding plus the other three companies. Clearly we are going to have extra layers of bureaucracy rather than a diminution of that situation, which I think would be preferable.

Another problem which will rear its head is a very big one and is talked about. It is the problem that in the event of any of the three companies not proceeding as we would like there would be, or there could be, the possibility of a liquidation or a privatisation of the companies. For many of the staff this is one aspect of the Bill that will obviously worry them. They know about the control which the Minister has within this particular legislation. They are mindful of what happened with Irish Shipping. We had the voluntary liquidation of Bombardier which had close associations with CIE for obvious reasons. The Minister should allay the fear that if in the event of any of the three companies failing there would be liquidation or the company would be privatised. Would that be the soft option which the Minister could adopt?

The mention of Bombardier raises the question of the school transport system. It is well known that the Government wish to hive off the school bus section of CIE to private operations. This has been one of the profit-making sections of the transport industry and if this proposal were implemented it would have very far-reaching consequences for every CIE garage in the country, and for many of the staff. Naturally, the staff of the various garages and those who are involved in the scheme are worried and would like clarification. As it has been paying its way more than other sections of the industry, this scheme should be retained by CIE.

Take the Athlone region where 20,000 students a day are being carried. It is an enormous task. The scheme is run by a small staff who are very efficient and very caring about their job. Their position should be clarified as soon as possible, because they have worries, as have many others. It has worked well for CIE. They have shown great expertise in the management of this section of the affairs. I believe it should be retained.

As the Minister knows, and we all know, it was suggested that pilot schemes would be operated by the Chief Executive Officers of the Vocational Education Committees in Counties Laois and Clare. It has been suggested to me that that is now scrapped. Deputy Enda Kenny, the Minister of State at the Department of Education, made some comments in regard to this matter. I would ask if the Minister would publicly comment on the exact position for the reasons I have outlined. Again, this raises the question of the condition of the buses. Assuming that CIE continue to operate the scheme, will there be a replacement of the buses? I understand many of the buses could be improved. Certainly, this would be welcome.

The Minister, in his address to us, indicated that he did not wish to say anything about privatisation in connection with this Bill, for the simple reason that privatisation has nothing to do with the Bill. It is simply a red herring in this debate. I must agree with the Minister that it is not mentioned in the Bill. At the same time we cannot ignore the facts, because privatisation is a very live reality on the ground. You cannot ignore the fact that, for example, to travel from Athlone to Dublin and return by CIE in one instance costs £14 and in another costs £12.50. In the private buses you can get to Dublin and back for a figure less than half the CIE rates. I appreciate that private buses can run cheaper for very obvious reasons such as overheads, salaries and so on. People who want to go to Dublin will not be concerned with the fact that it is a national outfit that they should deal with. They will be looking for value and in that situation many of them will go for the cheaper rate.

It is not just sufficient for the Minister to call for public confidence in the transport services that are provided. This confidence will be restored by improving the quality and reliability of the trains and the buses, but also by every effort to reduce the fares to what might be described as realistic figures.

The question of the restructuring of the three companies — the holding company plus the other three — is obviously the thorny question of this whole Bill. Lately I am getting correspondence from the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union. I am not in the least influenced by their letter. I am totally convinced that the right way for the future, if CIE is to be split up, is to have a Dublin city bus service and a provincial rail and bus service, two companies rather than three.

The reasons are obvious. In a situation of having buses and trains operating in the provinces, we would have two companies. Both of them would be in competition for passengers and for trade generally. Take, for example, the Athlone area and such other areas around the country. The very important fact that we have so many shared facilities cannot be overlooked. Both staffs would be working from the one terminal. At present, we have the same booking clerks, the same passengers are using the same terminals and the same toilets. There is one switch board. The waiting room is being shared. There are clerical staff who deal with both rail and bus matters. The interchange of passengers facilitated by both rail and bus from some terminals would disappear. I feel very strongly that the provincial rail and bus services should be as one. I further feel that if it is decided to break them up it will be the rail services that will suffer; it is far easier to be flexible with a bus situation. Indeed, if it happens, I anticipate increases in both rail and bus services charges. I anticipate that the rail section could close in many parts of the country. It has been suggested somewhere that it could become so bad that the rail system itself might cease to exist. The Minister has asked for debate and for comment, and rightly so. Those are my personal beliefs and ideas on this Bill.

The Minister has said we must get the subsidy right. We must never again revert to the excesses of growth that characterised the seventies. The correction process is well in hand but more has to be done. I certainly hope I am wrong but I see a worse situation in the future if the Bill is agreed to in its present form. The views I have expressed are my own sincere views. They are my own opinions. That is the purpose of this debate and I would like to think that the Bill would be a better Bill by the time it leaves this House. That has been the experience with many Bills that have come to this House first. I can recall many Bills — the Dentist Bill was one — that were totally different after leaving this House. I know it is a totally different area, nevertheless Bills generally receive very thorough investigation in this House. I hope that this Bill will be dealt with in the same way.

There are a few questions that the Minister might answer on various sections. On section 11, the Minister might state if there is any provision for worker directors in the various subsidiary companies he is recommending. On section 11 it would seem to me — and perhaps the Minister would comment on it — that the section might work against ordinary people contesting elections and might in some way cause them some financial loss. Again, does this section operate in regard to the worker directors of the company? In conclusion I would compliment the staff and the board of CIE for the benefits produced over years of problems, struggle and difficulty. They certainly have done a remarkable job in difficult days. I want to stress that the views I have expressed are sincerely held personal views. Because of its importance the Bill should receive great consideration. The Seanad should debate this Bill, particularly on Committee Stage, very thoroughly. Hopefully, at the end of the day, we will have a better piece of legislation which will be for the benefit of future generations.

I welcome the tone of the debate so far. It has been constructive and reflects the fact that all of us on all sides are committed to trying to ensure that the Bill which emerges from the House after due scrutiny will give CIE the best possibility for long term viability and development.

The general objective of my party in looking at the Bill is to attempt to see to it that CIE are given a clear mandate to provide an efficient and integrated public transport system which meets appropriate criteria of cost effectiveness and social benefit. I have no doubt that those are the general criteria which all of us in the House would apply in looking at this Bill.

It is true that the Bill alone cannot be the sole vehicle for meeting the objective I have mentioned. The financial framework within which the company will operate and the existing body of legislation have, of course, important roles to play in this regard also. But, this Bill will set out the operational framework within which CIE will carry out their tasks. It is of great significance for this reason. Because of this, my party have scrutinised the Bill very carefully indeed. We have done so from our stance that an efficient and integrated public transport system will be of vital significance to this country's future economic and social wellbeing and also because we recognise genuine fears among the workforce of CIE as to the future security of their jobs and indeed the security of their company.

As a result of our study, we have identified a number of areas of real concern in the Bill, areas which are of genuine and deep-seated concern to us in the Labour Party and to our colleagues in the trade union movement also. With the imprimatur of our parliamentary colleagues a number of us have discussed these concerns with the Minister in the recent past and I am pleased to say that the dialogue we have had so far has been of an entirely positive nature. The Minister with his commitment to seeing to it that CIE works in the long run on a cost effective basis has recognised the validity of some of the concerns we have expressed to him in discussions so far but some of the matters we raised have not yet been the subject of agreement.

That dialogue which we have begun with the Minister in a most positive and constructive way will continue between now and the Committee Stage debate in this House. This form of dialogue, it seems to me, is entirely appropriate both from the point of view of the reality that our two parties share responsibility to govern at this time and from the point of view that Seanad Éireann has a particular responsibility to closely scrutinise all legislative proposals. I would like to express my appreciation to the Minister for the openness with which he has approached our discussions although, as I have said, some highly significant matters still remain to be resolved.

It is a matter of fact in public affairs that the public's perception of what is happening sometimes lags behind what is, in fact, taking place. To some extent if not to a significant extent, CIE suffers from this phenomenon at present. It is true to say that the realities in relation to CIE have changed radically since 1983. It is likely in my experience that the perceptions which people have of the company have not kept pace with those changes. As the Minister said in his opening remarks, one of the significant developments has been that the rapidly escalating deficit or, if you wish, subvention level to the company, has been brought under control. Had the pattern which was experienced during the seventies and early eighties continued the subsidy level required now would be of the order of £200 million, give or take, as compared with the present £100 million, give or take.

There is no doubt in anybody's mind that had the deficit level continued on that trend to the point where it would have come to £200 million, there would have been a very major crisis for CIE within the mind of the public and the political parties and the Oireachtas generally. It is not for me to say at this point what the appropriate level of subsidy to CIE is. It is important to recognise that it is necessary to have financial control over all of our semi-State companies. This, of course, is a statutory company, not a semi-State company. I am glad for the sake of the company, the consumers and the workforce that proper extraneous financial control systems have been put in place.

It is true to say also that the public perception of the company in relation to its industrial relations has not kept pace with the current reality. In recent years there has been a dramatic improvement in the industrial relations experience of the company. So far as I can remember, no days were lost last year through strikes and none or very few have been lost in the current year. This is a recognition that this company have got to get to a point where workers and management work together towards a common objective. The industrial relations pattern also is now remarkably improved compared with the seventies and early eighties.

In other respects in terms of the quality of service offered there have been remarkable improvements also. I am thinking in particular of the dramatic improvement in mainline rolling stock which has occurred in recent years and which has led to a significant enhancement of consumer satisfaction with that particular aspect of the company's operations. It is true to say also that productivity levels within the company have risen dramatically. I read a report recently, written by Professor Foster who, as Senators will know, was one of the authors of the NESC report on transportation policy. He commended CIE on the dramatic increase in productivity witnessed in the company in recent years. These productivity increases have been brought about by the willingness of the unions to agree to realistic and reasonable proposals to increase the cost effectiveness of the operations of the company, combined with, I suspect, a more skilful level of personnel management on the part of the company themselves.

As far as the public transport system in Dublin is concerned, the introduction of the DART system and the agreement reached last year on one-man bus operations have been major developments in the recent past. The fact, however, that the Dublin traffic authority has not yet been inaugurated must be a matter of serious regret to all of us and to management and workers in the company. Until that Dublin traffic authority is set up and until it sets a framework for sorting out the traffic management crisis in this city, there cannot be an efficient public transport system operational in the area. No matter what measures are introduced internally within CIE there is no possibility of operating a bus service in Dublin city which is satisfactory to the consumer and which is at the same time cost effective as long as we have the traffic crisis which exists in the city area. There is no point in talking about an efficient system so long as buses cannot move around at a reasonable pace.

Whatever about their faults, CIE are frequently blamed for matters which are outside their control. I have mentioned the question of the Dublin traffic authority and the absence of an effective transportation policy and traffic management system in Dublin, which is crucial to the perception of Dublin people of the company and their operations. It is also true, more significantly for the company as a whole, that they have suffered for many years from a failure on the part of Government to determine clearly and in advance what levels of subvention they were prepared to give to the company. No company, either private or public, can operate without having some indication of what levels of financial access will be available to them over time. Yet, CIE was expected to do this year after year in the past. I am glad to say that the financial framework introduced in 1983 has attempted to overcome that very major obstacle to efficiency within the company. Without commenting on the levels of subvention which are currently operating within the framework, the fact that a framework now exists is of great significance; the fact that it exists on a five year basis is also to be welcomed because it allows the company to see ahead and to plan accordingly in consultation with Government.

Regarding the Bill itself, we in the Labour Party had a number of serious reservations. First, in relation to section 6 of the Bill I do not see or understand why it is suggested that there should be three subsidiary companies operating under the Companies Act. I know where the three company idea came from — it came from the McKinsey report in the late seventies or early eighties. It will be remembered by Senators that the McKinsey report recommended that CIE should be disestablished and that there should instead be three separate companies, one for Dublin bus services, one for railway services and one for provincial bus services. I could not agree with the concept of disestablishment of CIE, as suggested by McKinsey — no member of my party would agree with that concept. Nevertheless, there was a certain inherent logic in that proposal which is self-evident within its own terms. However, once it is agreed that CIE should remain in place, I do not see why it is necessary to opt for the subsidiary company structure at all. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility or the wit of man to create a divisional system inside CIE which will be management effective on the one hand and financially transparent on the other hand. Logically, the best solution would have been to hold CIE, as has been done, and to operate the company on a clearly defined divisional management basis, each division with its own set of objectives, each division with its own financial targets and each division with its own published statement of outcome. However, we have, at this stage, gone beyond that point. The suggestion in the Bill is that the board shall remain in place as a holding company and that three subsidiary companies shall operate under it.

In this context I can see that the Dublin city bus service should be a separate company, for all kinds of obvious reasons including the fact that it effectively operates as an independent division already. However, I do not see why provincial rail and provincial bus services should be separated into two subsidiary companies, each with an onus to competition and to optimising financial outcomes. I presume the argument for this suggestion is twofold, first, that you get a greater transparency in the accounts of the operations concerned. I cannot accept that argument because there is no doubt that there is considerable, and rightly so, transparency already in place in the company's annual accounts. Each area of activity is accounted for separately in the annual accounts and it is readily possible to identify the costs of each general set of operations. If I can indicate the range of transference available there is a set of financial data related to the railway working account other than the Bray-Howth suburban services; there is a separate set of financial data for the Bray-Howth suburban services railway — the DART. There is a road passenger working account for Dublin city services, a road passenger working account for provincial city services and one for other services. There is a road passenger working account for tourism and private hire. There is a road freight working account. There is an international activities working account. There is a refreshment rooms and refreshments and restaurant cars working account. There is a canals working account. There is a vessels working account. There is an extraordinary and welcome degree of transparency provided in the accounts of the company as to its various operations. As the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the company reported in 1979, it is possible to disaggregate that data even further if it is felt necessary on the basis of existing data.

Therefore, the argument for two companies outside Dublin on grounds of transparency accounting purposes does not seem to stand up. The other argument is that you get greater management responsibility as a result of setting up the two companies. I do not accept that that argument necessarily holds either, for the reasons I have given earlier about the possibility of getting into place appropriate line management assistance within a divisional structure. I am not, therefore, convinced of the arguments put forward for three companies, in particular for the two companies operating outside the Dublin city bus services.

The arguments in favour of two companies could be stated as follows: if we are going to have a cost effective and integrated public transport system then it makes a lot of sense for the provincial bus servics to work closely with and to be coordinated with the rail services. That seems to be commonsense. I worry about the present formulation in the Bill whereby it would appear that they will be autonomous companies with competitive instincts. In this situation I am not at all content that the railway system will come out as well as it should. If both companies are in a position of competition, then it is easy for the bus company to refuse to co-operate as necessary with the rail company to ensure that the rail company is not placed at a disadvantage.

I would tend to argue very strongly in favour of the idea of two companies. I know the holding company in theory can perform a coordinating function in this regard. It is not clear from the Bill what precise functions the holding company will have. Holding companies can have different kinds of roles and responsibilities and can perform in different ways. Some can be highly active with very close control over policy for its subsidiaries. Others can be quite passive. It is important during the course of this debate that we clarify clearly the role of the holding company in relation to its subsidiaries and in particular in relation to this whole question of complementarity between buses and railway systems outside Dublin. My own view and the view of many of my colleagues is that in this situation a two company solution is better than the three company option.

The difficulty is that if we have two subsidiary companies, one operating bus and one rail, how do we in practice see to it that, for example, that for somebody going by rail from Dublin to Sligo with the intention of going on to Bundoran, there will be a bus there to meet him on arrival in Sligo. If the system is integrated totally then management will see to it that there is a bus there to ensure an ongoing passage for the person concerned but if those two companies are, in fact, quite separate it defies me to see how that linkage can be put in place unless it gets to the point where the holding company will actually sit down and engage in a timetable exercise with both the subsidiary companies to ensure this kind of complementarity and linkage which is so important to an integrated public transport system. In the absence of that there is the real possibility that the rail system will in practice be confined to delivering passengers only along the routes of the mainline railway at present. That does not seem to be the most perfect solution. That is one very major concern which we have and I hope it will be possible for the Minister to respond to it in the course of his own reply and the discussions we are having with him at present.

The second concern we have, and this too is a fundamental one, is that we wish to see an insurance in the Bill that none of these subsidiary companies whether they be two or three can be wound up, nor shall any application of a petition to wind them up proceed without a prior resolution being passed in both Houses of the Oireachtas and without prior consultation with the recognised unions by the board and the company concerned. This is a necessary safeguard which should be put into section 6 in a new subsection (9) in order to avoid the type of situation which arose under the Irish Shipping legislation where insolvency was the cause of the company winding up without the requirement that the matter be looked at in the Oireachtas. I am not making any particular point on that. I am just talking about the law as opposed to any particular point related to Irish Shipping. It is also important that that requirement of prior consultation be built in to prevent the company being wound up or closed for any reason other than insolvency.

I would argue strongly that a new subsection (9) to section 6 be introduced to safeguard entirely against the possibility that any one of the subsidiary companies could be wound up for any reason without prior decision of the Oireachtas.

In relation to the principal objects of the companies there are two points I would like to make and these are in respect of section 8. One is that we need to spell out clearly in section 8 the function of the holding company to see to it that its subsidiary companies together, whether they are two or three — as I said, in my view, they should be two — provide an integrated transport system on one hand and also that they meet certain requirements to do with what might be called social obligation. By this I am thinking of certain requirements in relation to regional criteria and requirements in relation to share access criteria for citizens generally. As we know, the so-called social obligations placed on CIE over the years have changed from time to time. It is interesting to note section 15(1) of the Transport Act 1950 when referring to the general duties of the board, says:

It shall be the general duty of the Board so to exercise its powers under this Act as to provide or secure or promote the provision of an efficient, economical, convenient and properly integrated system of public transport for passengers and merchandise by rail, road and water with due regard to safety of operation, the encouragement of national economic development and the maintenance of reasonable conditions of employment for its employees and for that purpose it shall be the duty of the Board to improve in such manner as it considers necessary transport facilities so as to provide for the needs of the public, agriculture, commerce and industry.

There is a certain outdatedness involved in that set of objectives given to CIE in 1950 but they contain certain elements as to social obligation on grounds of regional criteria and on grounds of fair access for the public as a whole criteria which we should not entirely lose sight of. I say that particularly because if one looks at the present duties of the company, as I understand them, they are defined in the Transport Act of 1958, which gives a much more limited set of responsibilities to CIE. It says that their responsibility requires them to:

provide reasonable, efficient and economical transport services with due regard to safety of operation, the encouragement of national economic development and the maintenance of reasonable conditions of employment for its employees.

That clearly is a more limited set of objectives for the company than those provided in the 1950 Act.

The only basis on which CIE are legislatively empowered in that provision as I understand to provide non-profitable services, that is services which are social in character, is given in that word "reasonable". Reasonable is interpreted as implying a duty to provide socially desirable services which may not be necessarily in themselves economic or self financing. In the present set of objectives in section 8 of the Bill it seems that although that provision of section 58 appears to remain in place, happily in relation to the board as a whole, it would be desirable that we build in a provision for meeting social obligation into this section also. I suggest that we on the one hand clarify the responsibility of the holding company to provide an integrated public transport service and, secondly, that we build in specific criteria of meeting social obligation as well. I hope we can discuss both these matters with the Minister in due course.

Senator Fallon mentioned during the course of his contribution that he was concerned about the absence of a provision in the Bill in section 11 for worker directors on the executive boards of the subsidiary companies. That is a valid concern and it is one I share. I recognise that, of course, these are intended to be executive boards but the principle of the rights of workers to be on the boards of all commercial semi-State companies or statutory companies is one that should apply regardless of whether these boards are executive in nature. That, too, is a matter which my party would hope to have discussions with the Minister on in the course of the period ahead. It is important that we make provision in this Bill in the spirit of the Worker Participation Act 1977. I strongly urge the Minister to agree to meet this request in the course of amendments at Committee Stage.

In the case of non-worker directors on the subsidiary boards there should be a specific provision in section 11 so that they would be required to disclose any personal interests they might have in matters under discussion at board level. This would be a normal sensible declaration of interest provision. In relation to section 13 I was glad to note during the course of his opening speech that the Minister indicated his intention to make an amendment to this section. It is necessary that this be done. I note that he recognises and accepts the need for it.

In relation to section 14 there are two points I wish to make. One is that it is necessary to copperfasten in a tighter way than is already in the Bill — I am sure the Minister will have no difficulty in meeting this suggestion — a number of matters. One is that any employee transferred from the board to a subsidiary company shall enjoy conditions and service not less beneficial than the conditions of service to which he was subject immediately before the vesting day. It is necessary to make that absolutely precise. I do not understand the phrase "in aggregate" and I suspect nobody who would be asked to adjudicate on this matter in the future would be entirely clear about the meaning of the phrase "in aggregate" as set out in section 14(5). It is also necessary in this section to write in a specific provision that all existing agreements made between the company and the unions remain in existence under the new subsidy company structure unless negotiated changes take place by agreement. This is an essential requirement so that the conditions of service and the agreements under which workers operate at present are continued in the future as if they remained working for the holding company board.

The suggestion in section 14 is absolutely essential to allay the fears of both my party and the unions about the future of the subsidiary companies. It should be provided in this section that in the event of any company being wound up for any reason that the employees of that company will revert to being employees of the board from which they were transferred after the vesting day mentioned in the Bill. This provision is absolutely essential so that the present conditions of service and security of the employees of the company are maintained. Obviously it will be open to management to negotiate any change of service that they wish to negotiate with the unions. The principal concern must be that that is subject to negotiation and not for dictat in all cases.

I want to make a small point on section 17 which I do not think is a quibble. If it is, the Minister no doubt will correct me. I would like to have included in subsection (1) in the first line after the word "and" the phrase "including buildings and all permanent fixtures". This is a necessary safeguard for the property of the holding company against any vicissitudes which may befall subsidiary companies in the future although if the suggestions, which I made previously, are put in place this concern would become less significant than it is under the present format of the Bill.

Section 21 states that the Prices Acts 1958 to 1972 shall not apply to any service provided by a company after the vesting day. I would like to raise a matter in relation to this point from the purpose of discussion rather than because I have any hard view on it at present. As I understand it this provision would mean that if the Prices Commission was ever resurrected again it would not be involved in agreeing rates and fares for CIE and their subsidiary companies but that the Minister would retain the right to agree rates and fares.

There is a firm body of opinion among economists, politicians and others in relation to semi-State companies or, as in this case, a statutory company operating in the commercial world, that it might be best if the company were left to determine their fares and rates in the knowledge that they would have the best information as to what the market would carry and in the knowledge that very often politicians interfere in the commerical operations of these companies by delaying necessary increases in fares and rates for political purposes but never make recompense to the companies afterwards. Equally, CIE or their subsidiary companies might in their wisdom find a way of reducing fares and rates and increasing volume with a better optimum result if left to themselves. In other words, if this company are going out into the world under the Companies Act then it might be better to let them have control over themselves regarding their pricing system. Indeed it has been my opinion for a long time that in relation to commercial semi-State companies or, in this case, a statutory company, CIE, we should be prepared, not just to give them freedom to set their prices and rates, but freedom to hire and fire management at the market rate of pay and remuneration. This would seem to be reasonable if we are going to make the State sector operate at a level of competence which we would all like to see it operate at. However, that point is something of a red herring at this stage.

In relation to section 24, which gives the Minister very sweeping powers to make policy directions in writing to the company, I would argue that these powers are too sweeping. It can be looked at from many points of view. Let us take a best case example where any Minister at any time could say to the company in writing that he wants a railway line running from Dublin to an entirely non-profitable area, say Ballyhaunis and on issuing that instruction the company are forced to put that railway line into operation. The railway line may be put in place simply to meet the political requirements of the Minister of the day but no account is taken by him under present legislation of the consequences of such a decision on the financing of the company. I urge that a provision similar to section 51 of the Postal and Telecommunications Act 1983 be inserted in the Bill to protect the company against this form of sweeping directive which is not unknown in the history of the State in relation to CIE and indeed other State commercial companies.

That is one form of directive that the company must protected against. There could conceivably be other forms of directives which the company would need to be protected against, for example, directives relating to pay which would contravene normal negotiation rights and Labour Court procedures — I will deal with that under section 29 — or one could conceive of a whole set of directives which, as I understand section 24, would come about simply at the behest of the Minister for reasons which may or may not be good ones. Although I know that section 24 is intended to reflect the fact that the Minister is the sole shareholder of the company on behalf of the State and therefore has a right to issue directives, I would argue that this power is too sweeping and should be qualified. I hope we can discuss this on Committee Stage.

My final comment on behalf of my party is in relation to section 29. Section 29 refers to the terms of employment of staff, including remuneration and conditions of service and refers to the requirement that they shall have regard either to Government or national agreed guidelines which are for the time being extant, so that that section should not be in the Bill and should be deleted. So far as I am aware — I stand to be corrected on this — the only other company to which this provision applies is Bord Gáis Éireann under the 1976 Act. Although I know the Government are apparently concerned to place a provision of this kind in all future legislation relating to semi-State companies it is nonsense, from an industrial relations point of view, and given the reality that the Government already in any event control the overall financial framework within which the company will operate. It has the potential for very serious industrial relations disruption and industrial relations crises and I strongly urge that it be deleted from the Bill.

I know the Government have said they would like to see a provision of this kind placed in legislation relating to all semi-State companies. If that is the case and if that is what they feel — I think they are wrong to think this — then let them bring in legislation covering all companies. It is not wise to introduce the concept at all but if it is to be done it is certainly not wise to introduce it in connection with one or a limited number of the companies concerned. I strongly urge that that particular provision should be deleted. I have spoken to the Minister for the Public Service, who has responsibility in this area, along those lines.

All of us wish to see this Bill being the best possible Bill to secure the future cost effectiveness of CIE and to place the responsibility on them to meet not just strict financial criteria but to meet certain social obligations as well. There is a framework there which certainly provides the possibility for serious discussion between my party and the Minister. That discussion has begun in a most serious and positive way and I hope that before this Second Stage debate finishes we will have reached common positions on all of the matters I have mentioned and that we would be able to satisfy, in my case my colleagues in the Parliamentary Labour Party and in all cases our friends in the trade union movement, that we are securing their rights and their position within a set of companies whose future will be bright and which will in the future deliver the kind of effective integrated public transport system I have mentioned.

I will not delay the House very long at this Stage of the Bill. However, there are a number of points I should like to make. First, I feel it is time both Houses had an indepth look at the operations of CIE and their implications in every aspect of Irish society because we are dealing here not just with a Bill of financial provisions but a Bill which will mean major sociological changes in many parts of the country. It has financial implications and it has a number of sections which would seem to create major problems in relations between management, the board and the workers in CIE.

For many years CIE have been the butt of much criticism. They have very seldom been praised for what they have done. They have produced a great range of services throughout this country which have been of great benefit in terms of employment to many areas. In terms of the purchase of materials used to maintain the system they have spent enormous sums of money. I suggest that since this is so we must be very careful before we make a major change in the system.

I feel there should be no suggestion of having four companies as suggested in the Bill, a holding company and three operating companies. I cannot see why we have to have four companies. If there is a need for a holding company so be it but I cannot see why it should be necessary and I cannot see why we cannot have two separate companies run on a commercial basis, one dealing with Dublin city bus services and the other company dealing with the road and rail services on a co-ordinated basis throughout the country. Anybody who lives down the country and who observes the operations of road and rail throughout the country would find it extremely difficult to see how you could have two competing companies operating profitably.

There is no doubt in my mind that in the next few years if CIE go in the direction this Bill is suggesting they should go we will see the elimination of CIE buses throughout the country. There will not be a CIE bus service in the country. I wonder how strong the rail service would be without a co-ordination or a rationalisation of the service between buses and trains. If you localise it down to Kilkenny you will have to set up two separate management structures at local level to run the bus and train services. You will have to set up parallel offices for the issuing of tickets, you will have to set up parallel offices for the co-ordination of all the services. I do not think this can be done very easily and I do not think it can be done very cheaply. It would be an extremely costly operation.

Throughout the world at present it seems to me that in public transport we are seeing the co-ordination of services between air, road, rail and sea. We do not have a co-ordinated service between road, rail, air and sea in Ireland. It is time that we did get down to this. If one comes in by air the situation can often be chaotic if one is looking for a proper public transport system from our national airports at Cork and Dublin and the regional airports, particularly at Waterford, because there is not a proper co-ordination of services between the shipping and rail or bus services. In Rosslare and Waterford when people get off the boat there are no trains to meet them. If they get the train as far as Waterford and if they want to get from Waterford to Limerick, to Kilkenny or any place else they might have to wait for five of six hours before they can get a connection, so there is not a proper co-ordination at present. If we split up the rail and road services, as proposed in the Bill, the situation will be chaotic because we will have two services competing for the same type of business. We could have a train waiting to leave Waterford at 9 a.m. with two or three buses outside the railway station touting for traffic.

At present CIE are complaining about the situation where private bus companies are touting for traffic. If this Bill goes through I can see the same type of operation going on between the road and rail services because you will have companies, which can be closed down if they do not make money, and there will be a lot of competition for each company to operate on a profitable basis. They are basically trying to do the same thing, which is to transport people, and obviously the competition might have short term benefit for passengers but would, I think, have very grave long term implications for either one or other of the two companies, which I suggest, not the three.

In the public image CIE are perceived as being very bad in terms of relations between management and staff. If one examines the problems it appears that 90 per cent of those problems have been in the Dublin city area and that many of them seem, in the past number of years, to have been created by a union who are not a member of the Irish Council of Trade Unions and who seem to act in a cowboy situation a lot of the time. The public perception is that this is a one man union.

Down the country I do not think I remember a CIE strike. I do remember a major strike in CIE years ago because I grew up with CIE in the sense that my father was a driver who worked with IOC, GSR, and CIE years ago. I grew up with CIE because I had to use public transport as a child and I use public transport at present quite often. I think that unless the nettle of the relationship between the union in Dublin particularly, and CIE is grasped, there is no sense in setting up a Dublin city company because that company will run into trouble and will continue to run into trouble. There is a major job to be done by trade unions, management and Government to ensure that if there is to be a Dublin city service company set up, it will operate so that people in Dublin will be able to get public transport when they need it. Because we do not have a very good road network and we do not have any real alternative to buses in terms of bringing people to and from the suburbs or across the city, it is essential that whatever company is set up to run Dublin city services all the efforts of everybody involved will be directed towards ensuring that staff relationships will be good from the very start. Otherwise, we are going to have major problems. There is a public perception that in CIE there are very bad relationships between management and workers, but, as I said, this is not true when one gets down to analysing where the major problems have been.

I am afraid the idea of setting up a holding company which will have directors, including workers directors, and then having subsidiary companies — basically that is all they will be — without worker directors is something that will not help the relationships that have been growing between management and staff within CIE. The Bill itself creates certain problems in terms of the changeover from CIE to the smaller companies because it would seen that workers will not have the total right to move if they want to move. It would seem that the board could force people to move and if they are forced to move, it does not seem that this Bill gives them the protection that a worker would need to have in such a situation. Section 13 provides that:

Where a director of a company is— (a) nominated as a member of Seanad Éireann, or (b) nominated as a candidate for election to either House of the Oireachtas or to the Assembly of the European Communities, or (c) regarded pursuant to section 15 of the European Assembly Elections Act, 1977, as having been elected to such Assembly to fill a vacancy, he shall thereupon cease to be a director of the company.

That might be all right in terms of a company which would not have worker directors but I think that section does create problems for worker directors. I do not see that they should be forced to leave the board of the company by virtue of the fact that they are nominated as candidates because it states in subsection (2) that where a person employed by a company is nominated he shall thereupon stand seconded from employment by the company. I cannot see why a worker director should not be allowed to stand seconded for the period of time during which he would be challenging for a seat. It would be up to himself afterwards if he did get the seat to stand down as a director of the company or to leave the employment of CIE.

There have been a number of very good changes in CIE in the past number of years, particularly in the railway section. Anybody who travels by mainline rail will see that there have been major improvements in the service and because of this there is an improving seat usage on mainline rail. I believe that CIE in the past have fallen down in their marketing. Too much of the marketing has been done on anad hoc basis. It would seem to many people that the people who run marketing in CIE think of a number on a Monday morning, put an advertisement in the paper on a Wednesday and that is that, that the system will run for a week, a fortnight or a month. There does not seem to be any co-ordination of marketing in the public eye as between road-rail, rail-air, road-air and road-sea. There does not seem to the general public to be any co-ordination of marketing within CIE.

I notice a lot of brand new tour coaches going around the country at present with names like Bonn and Stockholm written on the side. I have not yet seen a CIE timetable to show that there is an international aspect to CIE. I do not know whether these coaches are travelling to these places but I did see one of them stop in Naas recently and they seemed to be doing some sort of a marketing job there. Maybe they are going to do a round the country trip to sell the international aspect of CIE or maybe they are not. The public would like to know what exactly is to happen.

A lot of criticism has been directed by CIE at private bus owners in the past number of years. They have been called everything from cowboys to illegals and so on. Of course what has happened is that the people who are running these other buses are proving that they are running services which the public want, to places where the public want to go and at times which suit the public. This is the reason these companies are in business. CIE management did not seem to want to become involved in the type of traffic that has now been generated all over the country. I was in town today and I must have passed 60 or 70 private buses which were travelling from remote areas. They all seemed to be full and the people in the buses seemed to be getting the type of service they require. For the life of me, I cannot see why a company such as CIE, who are in business for so long, could not have got into that particular business or, if they have not got into it, why they should criticise the people who are in it because there is no doubt that the private bus owners are giving a service that is, as I said, necessary and good and which will continue. It is up to CIE not to criticise and carp and chase these buses around looking for faults that are probably not in them. It is up to CIE to get into competition with them and if they are good enough, to beat them. That is what the public would like to see.

The Bill has major implications for not alone the workers in CIE but for workers in many other industries throughout the country, when one considers that possibly up to £50 million of the subvention that CIE got last year was paid for goods and services which were provided by outside contractors — small garage owners, tyre manufacturers, caterers and seat markers. There is hardly any business in Ireland that is not directly connected with CIE in some way or other. Whatever happens, CIE has a big bearing on a lot of businesses throughout the country. There are many businesses which have been built up because of CIE and they could easily be knocked down through CIE. We saw recently the number of jobs that were lost in Clare and in the surrounding counties when the Bombardier company closed down. Not alone were the workers in GAC let go, not alone did the country lose that bus building capacity, but many firms which were dependent on that company have gone out of business. When we talk here about CIE, we are talking about workers and industries which would seem to have no connection at all with the transport system.

There is a major job to be done in letting people know that a lot of good things have happened in public transport in the past number of years. Many people have worked extremely hard so that personnel relationships would be maintained at a high level throughout the company. There is a major job before the companies to ensure that the public in Dublin get the type of service they deserve, that it will not take ten or 11 years to have the implementation of such things as the one-man buses brought in. There is a need for the extension of the DART service from the single line they have at present to a line going to Tallaght, which seems to be the obvious place. There is absolutely no doubt that there is a need for a much greater public transport service to that huge Tallaght area. There is a major obligation on the Government and on the new company to ensure that the DART or some sort of better public system than buses is brought in to service that whole area.

There are a number of points that we will be raising on this Bill on Committee Stage. It would seem there is a major one that has to be addressed by the Minister and that is on the form of articles of association. Section 11, (2) (f) reads:

The company shall, in consultation with trade unions and staff associations recognised by the company, set up machinery for the purposes of negotiation concerned with the pay and conditions of its staff.

Section 28 and 29 would seem to give a lie to the suggestion that the company shall, in consultation with trade unions and staff associations recognised by the company, set up machinery for the purposes of negotiation, because irrespective of what machinery is set up it would appear that according to section 29 the Minister for the Public Service will be the person to sign the cheque at the end. He is to be the one who will decide whether negotiations can be entered into. It would appear that there will be a major problem confronting the workers in CIE as a result of section 29 of this Bill.

We all want to see a revitalisation of public transport in Ireland. Within CIE we have the people who can do that. There has to be a co-ordination of the efforts, not alone in the management of the resources, but in the marketing of the product. There has to be a realisation that with the number of people involved, approximately 14,000 we have to be extremely careful that in attempting to get a better public transport system we do not break up the system we have and produce three companies or two companies which will not operate on a profitable basis and which will be in direct competition, particularly in the country areas, with each other. By being in direct competition with each other they may not alone force CIE totally off the road but, if they engage in very hectic price cutting as between the two companies, the two companies could go. I would prefer to see a co-ordination of the trains and buses in the provincial areas and the provision of the transport system that the people need, not the transport system that McKinsey would suggest they need. McKinsey came in to many companies in Ireland and many companies around the world in the seventies and early eighties. I wonder has anybody done a study on McKinsey and has anybody done a study of the companies which McKinsey has been in to see where they are now and what benefits have been derived from McKinsey's intrusion into these companies. I would suggest looking at the way things have gone in the past number of years. Many companies changed their methods and changed their structures because of McKinsey and they are now gone out of business.

This Bill is basically a McKinsey Bill. It is nothing more and nothing less than an implementation of McKinsey except for the fact that you do not have the disestablishment. It is McKinsey in essence. It will be McKinsey in operation if it goes into force and for that reason I would have reservations. However, it would appear there are to be changes. I sincerely hope the Minister will take into account what everybody has been saying here in relation to the number of companies and the problems that could be created if he creates four companies rather than either a holding company and two subsidiaries or else two fully fledged companies.

I am glad to have the opportunity to make a contribution towards this Bill. I welcome the Bill very much to the House. I congratulate the Minister for taking the initiative in looking very seriously at an institution we have that was dying and dying a very unnatural death. I welcome the Government's statement that it is their intention to continue to support an established national transport system within the country. It is important that that is stated clearly to allay the fears that existed before the details of the Bill were known. Many people feared that we had here a Bill to totally dismantle our national transport systems. I am glad the Minister has brought this Bill in so that the fears of people with vested interests as well as those of employees can be allayed now that we know the contents of the Bill.

If one was to examine the history of CIE, while most people have been critical of them and many of their operations, the most damning feature of the company has been their total failure to come to grips in any way with the changing times down through the years. Since the establishment of the company they have failed to cater for the changes in the nature of transport and the changes in the demands of the public. This is one of the reasons why the Government have to make a subvention in the region of £100 million to the company and much more in the years gone by. CIE relied on subventions to bolster up their inefficiencies in many cases.

The last occasion on which I had the opportunity of speaking in the Seanad on matters relating to CIE was when the hotel empire was given over to a different management structure. Many people welcomed this changeover except those who still maintain that CIE should be a social employer. While we, politicians in particular, demand that CIE remain as a social employer, whether it be in rural Ireland or in Dublin City, we must accept that CIE can always come to us and say they have failed because they had to provide this social service, they had to employ people. This should not be the case any longer. Traditionally public relations in CIE have been bad; industrial relations have been worse and the company have got off the hook on many occasions because they traded on the idea that they were a social employer. I shall return to this subject later on in my contribution.

Despite the many advantages that CIE had in the hotel sphere, as a transport system which could feed those hotels, they failed to act on the advantage they had over ordinary commercial hotels. I described CIE then — and I have no reason to change my mind now as a jack of all trades and master of none. Slowly but surely they have shed some of the responsibility they had then. They have effectively opted out of the freight service where it failed. We have in its place a small involvement in freight and it too is showing itself to be inefficient. The fasttrack system which CIE operate has been pushed aside by a far more efficient and less costly private operation which is the courier system. Fasttrack cannot compete because it is too expensive. It is too expensive because of the time involved in cataloguing and re-cataloguing at the other end. That involves a mountain of costly paper work which the other courier service can provide much more quickly and efficiently. CIE have almost opted out of their road freight service. It is still in existence in some areas by way of the container system but that is about to fail also.

In other areas CIE command privileges which are unfair and I should like them to be dealt with in the Bill. These privileges include the issuing of licences to which Senator Lanigan referred earlier in a different way. CIE cannot compete fairly and squarely with the private bus operators. The issuing of licences to these operators has been a slow operation. Many of them have got around that situation by providing, for example, membership of clubs. The only official response from CIE has been from their union representative on the national television network who castigated the private bus owners organisation, PAMBO, for such things as hiring drivers and part time workers who are on social welfare as well. This was a serious allegation and it was a sure sign to me that CIE were backed into a corner and that the only way out was fighting. It is a scurrilous attack on private enterprise which is attempting to provide a service by stepping into a vacuum created by CIE.

The fears that many people might have that we will have a duplication of services between bus and parallel systems in certain areas are, I believe, unfounded. I am aware that in the past when CIE wanted to kill a service they did so. The Limerick-Sligo train service was withdrawn, and CIE produced numbers to justify this. I know that at the very time the Limerick-Sligo train was pulling into a particular station, Gort in Co. Galway, CIE also ran a bus passenger service running five minutes prior to the departure of the train making it more attractive to travel from Gort to Galway City by bus rather than by rail. CIE killed off this train service because they wanted to do so. The idea that it was a social service was forgotten but when it suited CIE to claim that they were providing a social service they did so on many occasions.

Debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended at 5.30 p.m. and resumed at 6.30 p.m.