Transport (Re-Organisation of Córas Iompair Éireann) Bill, 1986: Committee Stage (Resumed).

Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 not moved.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 5, lines 37 to 41, to delete subsection (6).

I wondered at this particular phraseology in section 8. It is hinged about the first item we spent so long discussing today and here it is proving the point that I have made. If one reads subsection (6) carefully one can understand what I am trying to say. It says:

Each of the companies shall have power to do any thing which appears to it to be requisite, advantageous or incidental to or which appears to it to facilitate the achievement by it of any of its objects as specified in this Act or in its memorandum of association and is not inconsistent with any enactment for the time being in force.

This is a repetition of the provision in the Postal and Telecommunications Services Act and the idea is that we give the companies the maximum flexibility to go for new business. It is one of the advantages of the company format that it allows this. I strongly believe that there are enormous skills and assets to be exploited, not necessarily directly related to transport but which could be exploited to the advantage of the company, the workforce and the public. For instance, Aer Lingus, have been able to get involved in ancillary activities which has been enormously beneficial to it; in fact this has kept them in profit for the past few years. I would be very keen to encourage CIE to use their property assets, to use their human skills, of which they have a vast amount, for other purposes where appropriate and that is the purpose of this paragraph, to enable that to take place to enable provisions along those lines to be included in the memoranda and articles of association. We already have this provision in the memoranda and articles of association of An Post and of Telecom Éireann to give those companies that same sort of flexibility to go for new business and new areas that would be beneficial to the company.

There is a certain validity in the point Senator Killilea has raised in relation to subsection (6) of section 8 but I think that this subsection must be read in the light of other sections of the Act. It is important to consider first section 10 which provides that the form of memorandum of association of the companies shall be such as is approved of by the board with the consent of the appropriate Ministers. Section 11 makes similar provision in relation to the articles of association and section 12 provides that the memoranda and articles of association may only be altered with the approval of the appropriate Ministers. Bearing those facts in mind there is also section 24 of the Bill which provides that the Minister may give the board such direction in writing as to policy in relation to the functions of the board as the Minister thinks right or proper bearing in mind the activities of any one of the three companies.

Bearing in mind the constraints which are there by virtue of sections 10, 11 and 12, bearing in mind the power which exists at Government level by virtue of section 26, is subsection (6) of section 8 not therefore superfluous?

No it is not superfluous. I am satisfied that if it were not there and the company later had a business proposition which was advantageous to them somebody might assert that they did not have the authority or the power to get involved in those activities and I think that would be very restrictive of the companies. I think this is very important because, as I have said, CIE have enormous assets in terms of property and in terms of human skills which I honestly believe represent a great source to be tapped for the future wellbeing of the companies and the board. I see this as very important for the future of the organisation. In relation to section 24 I will be seeking to empower — and I have already tabled an amendment — the board to seek any directions in writing and that where directions are sought in writing an order would have to be made for these to be tabled in both Houses.

I never cease to wonder at this Minister. He is a most fascinating person. I want to give a few examples. Up to a couple of years ago CIE owned and controlled all of the Great Southern Hotels in this country. They were major CIE hotels and when the crunch came what did the Minister do? He threw them out to the vultures.

They are not gone.

Of course they are gone. They were taken out of CIE's control and——

They are now making profits.

The Minister is talking now about CIE being adventurous. When they did have an adventurious hotel system he took it from them and handed it over to CERT. I just want to make the point. Let me illustrate this with a better one. I am sure there are Senators here who believe this. We had a wonderful operation working in Shannon in the Bombardier project. CIE had a strong influence in that project. What happened? The moment the Minister got what he wanted from them he sent them away. Did he not sit back and for a moment consider that there was potential in that company? It is a fair question. For the tenth time today, I heard the Minister comment here that there are new, green field areas for CIE. That may be so and their potential certainly should be harnessed but when the crunch will come and the pressure comes on the Minister will be the first person to wilt under the pressure as has been proven. I assume that good projects may come up; CIE have fine property and fine potential in many of the towns and cities that can be utilised to bring in revenue. I agree with that. What we agree with here and what is happening out on the ground are two different things and I fear in the case of the two major issues of which the Minister was talking the number one sinner was the Minister himself because he wanted to do the typical thing — take the pressure off his back. That is what happened.

I think it is nonsensical for the Minister to come in here trying to persuade us that he has a new idea for CIE. We had lovely ideas. What happened to them? At this stage it is important to say that over the years since CIE became a wholly semi-State organisation a lot of good has been done for this country by CIE and their workforce and for the general public. Over the difficult years in the early days CIE's facility was a unique one and one which won great admiration. In recent times, because of the fluctuation and pressures, because of the new sales ability and because of the new financial constraints on passengers in particular, other services have come along and seeing the loophole hopped in and offered a service and have gained a fine victory. One can say different things about them. I know of a person who applied for a licence in my county and CIE said: "Give him the licence for that particular route because there is no business in it for CIE". Today there are seven or eight buses operated by a private company under licence from the Department. More power to the Department for giving it to them because the company are giving a service for which CIE said the potential was not there. Why was it not there? The question was not examined.

What we should be doing is not day-dreaming about the future but tackling the real problems today in CIE, the problem that they are losing passengers wholesale. This is the emphasis in all of this debate this evening and during the day, to try to get CIE into a situation where they can win back support that they have lost and win it back in honourable competition. That is my inclination all the time. It is not day-dreaming to say we have new pastures to cherish. We had them before and we know what happened. We all know what happened to the fine employment in Shannon: one morning the doors were closed. There might have been a problem; CIE might have had to think if there was a new way by which that company could have continued to give good employment, give a good service and present a good product at the end of the day. That is what they were doing. But what happened? The doors were closed and here is the Minister today trying to tell me and the Senators that there might be fine, bright ideas for CIE in the future. That may be, but the main bright idea that CIE need at the moment it to win back in a competitive way the business which they have lost. Let us not lose track of that situation. That is why I put down this amendment. I do not want this Minister or his Government to go on public platforms announcing startling new ideas for CIE. The startling new idea for CIE is to win back the traffic that they have lost and to win it back honourably and competitively before anything else.

I must say I think the Minister is absolutely right to have this section in the Bill. The point about increasing the efficiency of CIE is not inconsistent with the idea of enabling CIE to take on a range of additional activities beyond those directly related to passenger or freight movement. Without this section the memoranda and articles of association could not contain the possibility of engaging in a whole range of other activities which would be appropriate to a company in the business of either using or developing its property or providing additional services in conjunction with transportation.

I have always felt that there has been far too much control over semi-State companies as regards what they could do. They are not allowed, in most cases, to get into the marketplace and to develop and expand in competition with the private sector. It is totally constraining on them to have them in that position. I know that Aer Lingus is a different situation because it is not competing with Irish private sector companies and therefore it has the flexibility in practice to get into a whole range of ancillary services. Too many of our State companies are constrained.

I am glad to see this provision here because it does enable CIE, as it develops, to do a whole set of things which hopefully will bring extra money into it. I very much look forward to seeing the memoranda and articles of association and I hope that they will include a whole set of activities which would be possible and which we would not now imagine to be appropriate in relation to a transport company but which in other countries are quite normal.

I would adopt the same attitude as Senator O'Mahony on this section. Whatever we try to do as legislators we should not put ourselves into the position of members of the board. It will finally devolve on the board to formulate policy and that board will include worker directors who will have an input. It is important to provide something positive which would convey to the boards the view of the Legislature, that we are anxious that they would take every opportunity to go into areas of new business. I have no idea what the new business would be. Obviously it would be related to the area in which they operate at present or something akin to it. The board of CIE would welcome this kind of initiative from us. I go along totally with what the Minister said as to why this provision is in the Bill. It is important that we would convey positively in legislation that we are now placing certain requirements on the board to get up and get at it and to go forward, to involve the NDC if they want to. There is a whole range of activity available to them.

In fairness, relating this section to what happened to the hotels under the jurisdiction of CIE, I would not blame the Minister. I know that the board of CIE felt that that section they were dealing with was not totally in line with what they were doing. It was to retrieve that situation that we ensured that those hotels remained within public control and they are now functioning efficiently and profitably under the board of CERT. It is a welcome development that the Government did not sit back and allow that asset to be dispersed into the private sector where it would have become a readymade business for some hotelier to acquire and use for private purposes. The only benefit immediately would have been the capital that they would have secured in the sale and probably the hotels would have been sold cheaply.

We worked diligently through the parliamentary process to ensure the best future for those hotels.

This section is aimed at ensuring that the board of CIE know that we, as legislators, want them to be positive and up and doing in this area. If there are projects that come forward which merit the approval of the board in consultation with the Minister and using every other resource of the State, it would be a tragedy if, for lack of direction from us in the legislation, the board would say: "Can we go into that area? We have no statutory obligation to go into that area, so we will refrain. We will leave it. We will carry on and run our buses and trains around the country as heretofore."

This section is positive and does expect and request them to take advantage of every opportunity that can be profitable for the board and give a service to the people. I would leave it to the board, with this kind of positive section here, to avail of it and act accordingly. I am sure that that is what Senator Killilea also wants to happen. By having this section here what he wants to happen will happen. If we take out this section there will be no direction and plans and projects would be left on desks with people sending memos to the board saying "the Act does not require us to do anything like that and so we will not do it." This is a positive thing and I welcome the Minister's explanation of why it is included.

I just want to make a quick response to what Senator Killilea has said. First, CERT was taken out of CIE and transferred elsewhere in the public sector because it was felt that was the right thing to do both for CIE and for those hotels. The passage of time has vindicated that decision. In the West Galway constituency with which Senator Killilea has close connections, are two hotels and most of the jobs in those two hotels were saved by that move, as was the case in the other hotels. I am glad to see that the hotels have returned a profit this year and hopefully will achieve better profits in the years to come. In relation to GAC, this is a private company. Its sole customer is CIE. We extended its life a couple of times and indeed the company and unions there were more than grateful to me for the extension of life given to it on two previous occasions. I am very sorry that it closed down. It was always clear, even from the Fianna Fáil Government at the time, that the long term viability of that company depended on achieving export orders which were not coming.

It would have been very wrong of me and inimical to the interests of CIE if I were to force CIE to buy buses that they did not need at the time and which they could not afford. That sort of interference by Ministers in the past has been the bane of CIE's life and has got CIE into a lot of trouble and accounts for much of those escalating losses in the past. It is the board, management and workforce of CIE who have to bear the brunt of public criticism and it is not fair. I have tried to adopt a policy of not getting involved in the day-to-day running of companies or interfering in things which are proper to the boards of those companies. It has worked well. Dublin Port and Docks Board has now turned around. CIE's performance over the past three years has become better and better. Aer Lingus is back in profit when it was in loss four years ago.

Do not go on about your achievements. We heard them already today.

They are valid.

We know how good you are. I do not want to hear it all again.

I very much appreciate the compliment from Senator Honan because she is a person of great esteem in this House and praise from her is praise indeed. It is worth recalling that there has been a turn in the State sector. The State sector has been damned by the way Government have treated it in the past but the State sector get the blame and then you have people saying State enterprises do not work. I believe very strongly that State enterprise can work if we give it the right regime. We have demonstrated that in the companies under the jurisdiction of my Department.

May I make two comments? First, I want to get the situation absolutely clear regarding the CIE hotels which are in my constituency. The work-force in the CIE hotels in Galway told me in deputations with other politicians of different persuasions, two years prior to the handing over to CERT that if certain things were done by CIE management the CIE hotels would survive. It had to come to the situation where we had to remove them from CIE and give them to CERT to make people do what was expected of them and then the results were forthcoming. Had CIE tackled the problems there would have been no need to remove the hotels. That is my point.

Yes, but the counterpoint is that if you have an organisation that is too big or you have a scheme of things not suited to the enterprise the likelihood is that it will fail. If you change those things and get the regime right your chances of success are greater. We made a judgment that a better regime for the Great Southern Hotels was in a company or an organisation like CERT rather than CIE which is a very big organisation. As it transpired, we made the right decision.

The other point I wanted to make concerns the Bombardier project. No private bus firm in Ireland, other than CIE, could buy a bus from Bombardier. I know people who wanted to buy buses from them but could not. The matter therefore was in total control of CIE; the contract was to CIE. All the expertise and all the diligence and the fantastic workmanship and training in that plant was dissipated the day CIE stopped buying buses. There are people in Ireland who are still importing buses but they were not allowed to buy a bus from Bombardier: that was a tragedy.

Openness is a great thing. I put down this amendment because I wanted to find out what the Minister was about. Could this section lead to unrestricted competition between the subsidiary companies? We may say it could not; we may also say it could. Section 24 deals with policy directions. The Minister says that every single State organisation is being plagued by Government. This Minister is not remedying this very much in section 24. The question should be put so as to have this finalised. We have extracted something from the Minister on that point. I welcome the situation that CIE can go about business which is outside their normal role, remembering that their biggest obstacle is, first, to win back the support they had in the past. This should not be done by the crucifixion of those operating as opposition. I hope we have an open mind on this situation and are prepared to be competitive. The emphasis is on competitiveness and out of that will come better value to the State, to CIE and above all else to the customer. This is badly needed. I would like the Minister to comment on unrestricted competition.

Amendment No. 9 deals with that question and the control of competition as between companies.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 are alternatives and may be discussed together.

Government amendment No. 9:
In page 5, between lines 48 and 49, to insert a new subsection as follows:—
"(9) In relation to competition between services of the companies, the companies shall have regard to the overall interest of the Board and in any conflict between the companies the Board shall decide the issue with due regard to its overall interest and the interests of the particular companies concerned."

This amendment is to put beyond doubt that it is not intended — in fact it would be the reverse of what is intended — to allow disruptive competition to take place between any of the companies of the group to the detriment of the overall interest of the group or the interests of the particular companies. That is the reason for the amendment. It is to make clear, in addition to the fact that they cannot be unrestricted and engage in damaging competition between companies of the group, that where there is any conflict the onus is on the board of the group to resolve the issue in the overall interests of the group.

Where there was conflict in the past what did the board do? The board hived it away — I believe on the instruction of the Minister. There is the example of the hotels. We had two hotels in our city. The CIE board wanted to close one and leave the other open. However, we did what we had to do and both of them are booming. The board did not make the decision; they backed away from the decision and shifted the hotels into another sector. When the conflict came, who shied? The board backed away.

It turned out that that was the right decision.

Why did it turn out to be the right decision? Because the board failed to make a decision about the actual company within it. I am not being critical; I am giving it as an example.

May I say that the amendment put down by the Minister goes a considerable distance towards the objective I have in mind in my amendment No. 10. The concern I had with the Bill as originally drafted was that while the board would retain a responsibility for overseeing the operations of the three subsidiary companies at the same time the individual subsidiary companies had objectives which seemed to be separate for each of them and which did seem to allow for a great deal of competition. I do not understand why two companies under the same holding company board should necessarily engage in competition at all. The concept I have is that they should efficiently set out to produce a comprehensive public transport system on a regional basis and in terms of fairness of access for the population throughout the country.

I am seeking to put very real constraint on the degree of competition that can exist between the companies and that is why I tabled amendment No. 10. The difference between the Minister's amendment and mine is that while he does go a considerable distance in saying that the companies shall have regard to the overall interests of the board when it comes to the question of competition between the services of the companies and that in any conflict between the companies the board shall decide on the issue, this does not take account of the basic concept I am trying to pursue that there should be an integrated approach to the delivery of public transport services. That is to say that they should be planned on a basis that provides for complementarity as between the services and provides for their co-ordination to the extent desirable to provide an efficient and comprehensive service. That is why I have suggested the concept of an integrated public transport service. Like any phrase of this kind obviously that phrase is open to interpretation. What I mean by it is that the companies would act together in a complementary way to provide an efficient and accessible public transport system throughout the country.

I should like to deal briefly with amendment No. 11. I thought it desirable because of the very heavy emphasis on a separate service provision in section 8, even though this is not in the main CIE Act, that a provision be inserted indicating that the public transport system must also provide or meet a social need. In an effort to reach accommodation with the Minister on this I suggest that while adopting amendment No. 9 which he has proposed, he and the House would consider adopting a new amendment at Report Stage which would meet as far as is possible the idea of an integrated service and a social service provision. I suggest that between now and Report Stage a new amendment to replace Nos. 10 and 11, along the lines that "the board and the companies shall have due regard to the board's social role and the need to maintain public transport services integrated to the maximum extent possible within the financial resources available to them." If the Minister can see his way to acceding to that suggestion, I will be happy, in the circumstances, despite the serious reservations I have expressed about setting up subsidiary companies, to withdraw amendments Nos. 10 and 11 and to accept amendment No. 9.

I am very grateful to Senator O'Mahony for his constructive suggestion but I do not think that what he has suggested is necessary. On first consideration I would be disposed to favourably considering his amendment if he tables it for Report Stage.

What has been going on here today is like the courting of Dora. Everything is constructive between the Labour Party and the Minister. It reminds me of the man taking his puncture repair kit with him for his journey along the bad road. As the air comes out of the wheel he puts a patch on. Why was this not decided yesterday? Was there disagreement between the Labour Party and the Minister? Obviously, he got so far but could not get any further. Now you are plámásing one another the rest of the way. Everything you are doing is destructive. As I said about Senator Ferris, he would compromise himself for political purposes out of a den of snakes. I reflect on the remark made by Senator Honan that in the past perhaps we all have erred. That does not mean that we come in here today and avow the Minister to continue to err. Would you stop this nonsense of passing compliments to one another. If there is a problem it should be sorted out. There was supposed to be a policy for Government that you were supposed to draft. You were all supposed to live rigidly within the rules. They were drawn up after the last general election when you saw that you could put Fianna Fáil out of power. A programme for Government was drawn up. What happened?

I feel sorry for Senator O'Mahony. Obviously, he is pushing the point of a true Labour representative. Other Senators about him are falling down. Senator O'Mahony may say that is not true but it is very obvious that every time Senator O'Mahony makes a statement the Minister replies, "that is a wonderful suggestion." This is all too much to take. I have never witnessed anything like it before.

I raised the matter of competitiveness on the previous amendment and pointed out that it could lead to unrestricted competition. I am sorry that I am harping back in regard to the case of the hotels but it is the one instance which is very fresh in all of our minds. The Minister this evening praised the new wonderful programme in relation to the hotels. I would ask him to indicate whether it is true that there is an enormous amount of money owed by the CIE hotels, now the CERT hotels, in VAT and that the Torc Hotel is running on a three day week. If everything is rosy in the garden, is it because this semi-State organisation is not paying its taxes? If every other hotel did the same, there would be visits by inspectors from the Revenue Commissioners. I should like the Minister to tell the House if those debts that are supposed to be owed by those hotels in respect of VAT are taken into account in the praise being given to these operations and in describing them as very viable. That would be unfair competition.

I am sorry that Senator Killilea is disappointed at the amount of co-operation between the Minister and the legislators on all sides. It merely happens to be Senator O'Mahony's amendment and his suggested composite amendments that the Minister has responded to positively and the idea was good and that he would consider it.

Senator O'Mahony asked the Minister if he would take into account certain new phraseology. The Minister jumped up and said, yes, it was lovely.

Is not that what this House is all about? I am sorry that Senator Killilea is disappointed with that. That is the whole process.

It is as if there was divine inspiration between the two.

And only on that side.

Senator Ferris, without interruption.

I am trying to commend the two separate brains that worked on the amendments. Even the Chair decided they were complementary to one another and could be taken together and discussed together. The Minister in his amendment No. 9 confirms the reservations expressed earlier in the day in regard to another section. He has confirmed that this section with the formula we agreed about the similar boards——

(Interruptions.)

I am talking about Senator O'Mahony and the Minister.

I thought we had a big programme.

It has been inferred that somehow or another there was collusion between the Minister and Senator O'Mahony and that they would put down the amendments separately.

There was a hell of a row.

I am sorry to disappoint the Senator.

I would say that the tooing and froing for the last two weeks has been absolutely enormous.

What is wrong with having discussions inside or outside this House?

They should have been finalised outside of this House and put down in black and white so that we all could have a look at the outcome.

The Senator can have a look at what is proposed.

I cannot have a look at what Senator O'Mahony is proposing.

I should like the Senators to address the Chair.

I have been trying to explain the process that is followed. We have an amendment by the Minister which confirms that he wants to take action to ensure that the problems we are concerned about do not arise. This represents a positive response from the Minister. Senator O'Mahony, in his right as a Member of this House, wants to ensure that the formula of words he has in mind is incorporated in the Bill. He wants to get rid of any doubts that may be in the minds of people we have consulted. Nobody can say that we do not have a right to consult other people. Senator O'Mahony has suggested to the Minister that he is prepared to withdraw amendments Nos. 10 and 11 if the Minister undertakes to look at a combination of words he has suggested. The Minister, like any good Minister, agreed that the words were worthy of consideration before Report Stage. If that displeases Senator Killilea, I am sorry.

Can the Senator tell me what the words were?

If we achieve that I will be grateful.

Will the Senator repeat the words.

I cannot although I know the words. They are on the records of the House. The words are available and they can be quoted.

Can the Senator repeat the words without asking Senator O'Mahony to do so?

The Chair may not permit me.

Acting Chairman

Senators should address their remarks through the Chair.

I am trying to make progress.

The Senator does not know what he is talking about.

I object to that remark.

The Senator does not know what he is talking about. Can he quote the compromise of words?

I know as much about this legislation as Senator Killilea and I have had as much, if not more consultations with the workers, trade unions, the Government, and the Ministers than he has had.

The Senator has been plodding about. On a point of order, will Senator Ferris tell me, seeing that he has been doing all this work, the words Senator O'Mahony has suggested to the Minister? The Minister did not give any Member time to respond to that suggestion; he jumped to his feet and accepted them and Senator Ferris who was sitting in the middle does not know the words now.

Is that a point of order?

Acting Chairman

It is not a point of order and we cannot have offensive remarks about other Senators. When Senator Killilea was speaking Senator Ferris did not interrupt him and I ask Senator Killilea not to interrupt Senator Ferris.

One would need divine inspiration to know what Senator Ferris is talking about.

There is nothing wrong with the process. As soon as the words are contained in an amendment from the Minister, or Senator O'Mahony, Senator Killilea will have the opportunity to discuss them. The formula is an effort to take into account the Labour Party view as expressed in amendments Nos. 10 and 11 tabled by Senator O'Mahony. The Minister has favourably responded to them and said he is prepared to consider the suggested wording. Another Minister in the House last week did the same thing on the Courts Bill and we all welcomed that. After hours of argument the Minister agreed to consider a suggestion put forward in the House. There is nothing wrong with that process. I am sorry if Senator Killilea is disappointed that there is no difference between us on this issue. In fact, there is a whole area of agreement. Just because we manage to do it, and he did not, he is disappointed that he was not in on this act. We are making progress on this issue.

We did not see any sign of an amendment until this morning.

Acting Chairman

The Senator should be allowed to proceed without interruptions.

I am pleased the Minister has given a positive response and we await Report Stage with interest. We accept the Minister's amendment on the basis that he will consider the two amendments Senator O'Mahony tabled.

When Senator Ferris rises in the House he paints for us a wonderful rosy picture. I should like to stress that there was not on any official document any amendment to this Bill other than my own in the last four weeks until yesterday or today.

On a point of order, if the Senator reads my Second Stage speech on this Bill——

I am not talking about a Second Stage speech but about amendments.

Acting Chairman

This is not a point of order——

If the Senator read my Second Stage speech he would know where I stand.

I am more interested in a few home truths. It is time the truth was told. There were no amendments on the Order Paper to any section of this Bill other than mine up to yesterday morning and that cannot be denied. I do not want to hear any more of the nonsense, "we in the Labour Party" and so on uttered by Senator Ferris. I know for a positive fact that the Labour Party have been tooing and froing about these amendments, and the Minister has been doing his job with them. We seem to forget that the Labour Party are part of this Coalition Government. If that is so why is it that Senator O'Mahony, for the first time I can remember in the House added his name to amendments put down by me?

That is not so.

The Senator should read what is in front of him. I refer him to the amendment sheet issued today. Amendment No. 7 is in the name of Senator Mark Killilea and it has been added to by Senator O'Mahony.

On a point of order, am I not right in saying that the amendments down in my name and, indeed, in the Minister's name, are in order? Secondly, were the amendments in my name tabled separately from any amendments Senator Killilea had down? It so happens that some of our amendments are similar.

That is what I was waiting on. That is what I wanted to hear from the Senator.

Our amendments are shown together but they were tabled quite separately.

Senator Killilea's amendments were tabled first.

It ill becomes Senator Killilea, as I said earlier, to engage in this harangue against the Labour Party given that he supported the Bill in its original form on Second Stage and given that, apparently, a Minister of his party, when in Government put a memorandum to the Government to disestablish CIE entirely.

We got over that little obstacle today and the Minister apologised for the statement. The Senator was not present for that. The point I was making, before I was so rudely interrupted by a so-called point of order, is that if all this tooing and froing took place in the last two weeks, and agreement was reached there should not have been any need for Senator O'Mahony to put down amendments on behalf of the Labour Party. We heard that the Labour Party had a meeting and the Senator got instructions that they had agreed to withdraw the amendment. That was what we heard in this House today. I was so annoyed that I jumped to my feet and said "I will not allow you to do that". We had a vote on the matter. That is what happened. The point I want to make for Senator Ferris is, if they have been in cahoots for the past two weeks why did they not resolve all the problems? Senator O'Mahony rightly said he would withdraw the amendment provided the new formula of words be agreed to by the Minister. Senator Ferris does not know the new form of words. What are they?

They are on the record.

Get up and tell me what they are. He does not know them. There is no point in talking like that to me. I was amazed that the matter was not settled in all the tooing and froing that went on last week and then set down in black and white for us all to see. Why do we have to postpone it to next Stage? It is obvious that the Labour Party and Fine Gael were at loggerheads for the last two weeks.

Acting Chairman

Senator Killilea, we have heard it all before. Senator Honan was objecting to the long-playing record but we have had a long playing record from the Senator now. We are going back on the whole history now.

We are talking here about a formula of words that the Minister jumped up and agreed to tonight without even allowing a response from the other side of the House. After all, we try to be a constructive Opposition. I put my amendments down and anything I have to say is written down here. Senator O'Mahony, on behalf of the Labour Party, agreed with me on most of it until he was told to withdraw the amendment.

I would like to say for the record that Senator Flor O'Mahony placed amendments Nos. 9 and 10 and the other amendments on behalf of the Labour Party. He was not given any instructions by the parliamentary party or any other group in the Labour Party this morning to withdraw them. That is factually untrue and I am in a position to know because, unlike Senator Killilea, I was at the meeting.

Just briefly, I have always adopted the attitude that these are legislative proposals and the very process of going through both Houses is to improve the legislation. I brought to this House the legislation dealing with postal and telecommunications services and I remember Senator Lanigan playing a very important role in improving that Bill here in this House. He will remember I was very forthcoming in considering improvements to that Bill and likewise in the Air Transport Bill. That is the very essence of legislation. That is what the five Stages are for in each House. I have had extensive discussions with Senator O'Mahony and other Senators over the past number of weeks to try to get a much improved Bill.

In fairness to Senator Killilea — I am defending him as he has just left the Chamber — he is not objecting at all to the Minister's discussions with his fellow-colleagues in the party that keep the Coalition in Government. He is speaking for the main Opposition party and he feels completely left out of it because so much talk has obviously gone on outside this Chamber today. I do not think Senator Killilea is playing party politics with it. He would have liked some discussion to have taken place with him or else to have all the discussion here in the House. He is not objecting at all that the Minister should have had all these chats with Senator O'Mahony, or indeed Senator Ferris or anybody else. We are all here to try to get the best Bill out of this House for everyone.

I appreciate a lot of what Senator Killilea has said and also what Senator Honan and Senator Lanigan have said.

I feel I must defend him. Senator Killilea could have gone home an hour ago to Galway, where he expects to take the third seat the next time, instead of staying arguing about two or three companies. At this stage he feels totally left out of the discussions. I have very good friends in the Labour Party and Senator Flor O'Mahony is one of them. Senator Killilea feels that some of the talking that was done out in the corridor should have been done on the floor of the House here. That is all Senator Killilea is saying.

In amendment No. 9 I think what the Minister is trying to bring in here — is introducing it in opposition to or in parallel with Senator O'Mahony's amendments — is that in the competition between services of the companies, the companies shall have regard to the overall interest of the board; but the overall interests of the board might not coincide with the overall interests of an individual company within the board's jurisdiction. Basically, what the Minister is suggesting in his amendment is to eliminate competition between the company entities. He is suggesting that the board will have overall responsibility, that the board will decide what happens. Therefore, there cannot be competition between them. If a competitive element emerges it would be resolved at board level, which takes away totally from the individual companies the competitive urge they should have. I am afraid what will happen is that because of the constriction the Minister is now placing on the companies they will not get into competition with the private companies that are in transport in Ireland at present, that they will sit back, take the easy option, because if they do not do that the Minister or the board will take over.

There is very little difference between Senator O'Mahony and the Minister in these amendments. Each company shall, in performance of its duties and functions pursuant to its objects, at all times have regard to the provision of services deemed necessary by the board on social grounds. The Government have already decided that one-third of the operations of CIE shall be deemed to be on social grounds. Obviously, if there is going to be a break-up of CIE into constituent companies, each of these companies is going to have a one-third social aspect and that might be the straw that will break the camel's back in any one of these companies. There may not be a one-third social aspect in the train services but there may be a one-third social aspect in the bus services. I would like the Minister to tell me where in the constituent companies do we draw the line as between the social aspect of their operations and the commercial aspect.

Are we talking about a one-third overall social aspect in CIE? If we take one-third social aspect in CIE, is it suggested then that the one-third should be brought down to its constituent company? Is the suggestion that the Dublin buses will be one-third social, the provincial buses will be one third social, and that the provincial train services will be one-third social? If we are to have three separate companies, or four separate companies, where do we get this one-third social element involved? I would like to ask that question.

The answer is that the Government have made a judgment that one-third of the overall group role is social and, therefore, we are prepared to pay one-third of the group's expenditure, subject to certain controls. We have also set targets for the next five years. We started back in 1983. It was revised in 1984 for five years — it has been rolled over for a further year since then — in which we have set targets for the provincial buses to turn around the situation from £4 million losses two years ago to £4 million profits at the end of the five year projection. We have set a target for the Dublin city services to have their losses in the five year period. Obviously, that will reduce significantly the social call on those services to the advantage of the railway, obviously.

The Minister is, therefore, saying that provincial buses are making a profit on the projections and Dublin buses are making a profit on the projections.

No, they are halving the losses.

On the provincial bus service there will be no need for a one-third social input. Does the Minister add the one-third social input on to the profits of the provincial buses? I would like to ask the question specifically. If the Minister is suggesting a break up, in the case of the provincial bus services where they make money——

I am sorry to interrupt the Senator, but I want to call on the Leader of the House.

We have been discussing this item all day. We have made a considerable amount of progress. This is a Bill that has been delayed and has been with us for a long time. The Minister is anxious to get the Bill back to the Dáil. I would suggest that we should sit beyond our normal time of 10 p.m. until midnight in an effort to complete the Committee Stage. It seems to me, with regard to the amendments that arise on Report Stage, that these amendments have been substantially agreed beforehand.

I want to point out to the Seanad and I want to point out to you, A Leas-Chathaoirligh, that I have been here working on this longer than any other Senator since 12 o'clock today. It has been a long day. It is a very intricate Bill. It is a Bill that has vast implications. I am not suggesting that the Minister should not have it and bring it to the Dáil. I do not suggest that at all. I would like that this Chamber would be entitled to get the time that it deserves to deal with such an intricate Bill. We may have political arguments from time to time, and they probably delay time. It is only a fool of a politician that could not see and take the opportunity.

I am sorry that we have not gone further at 10 o'clock, but I am rather exhausted. I am telling the truth. Furthermore, we have agreed here today, with all the notes that have passed from all of us to the Minister, and from him back to us — there have not been as many to me as there have been to the Labour Party — we will take the next stage on Tuesday. I would plead with the Leader of the House and with the Seanad to let us all reconsider the matter under discussion. The next stage has to be taken on Tuesday. That is standard agreement. I would be prepared to say that we should quit now, resume at 12 o'clock on Tuesday and continue throughout the day. The Minister, I am sure, has not got it ordered for Tuesday in the Dáil. He can have it on Wednesday in the Dáil. We should be allowed to give ourselves the full time that this Bill deserves. I do not like to be rushed into it. I would like the Seanad to go through it. I would like to send a good Bill, if possible, to the Dáil, so that they would be proud of our efforts.

The Leader of the House should take into account the exhaustion of some of us after this long day. Discussion has been rather intense. It is a very opportune time to make this statement — some of us are working for this House for a pittance in remuneration. We are working as hard as the Dáil is working but we are not getting paid for it. May I take this opportunity of saying so? If this Bill gets the close scrutiny in the Dáil that it is getting here in the Seanad, the Members of the Dáil will have justified the exorbitant salaries they are getting in comparison with the humble salaries that we receive.

There are three things we can do. One is that we can sit on tonight in the hope of finishing the Committee Stage tonight. The second one is that we could leave the Committee Stage over until tomorrow. We are then left with the question of the Report Stage. I understand that Senator Killilea is saying on behalf of the Opposition that he wishes a separate Report Stage and that he wishes time to consider amendments. It has always been the convention in this House that such a request is acceded to. I would ask Senator Killilea that if we do adhere to that convention of giving a separate Report Stage when requested, he should summon up some reserves of strength and finish the Committee Stage by midnight.

I would rather take the second point that the Senator made — that we resume this debate tomorrow morning. That certainly is not an option as far as we on this side of the House are concerned. We cannot do it tomorrow morning. Secondly, in fairness to everyone of us, let us all go home and rethink. I promise tonight, on behalf of our side of the House — I cannot promise on behalf of the Labour Party — that we will take the remainder of this Committee Stage and all of the other stages on Tuesday. That is a fair offer and it should be accepted.

I suggest we should carry on. I wish to facilitate the Opposition, if possible. I would suggest that we should at least dispose of the amendment that we are on for the sake of neatness. When we assemble, whether it be at noon or at 2.30 p.m., I will then on behalf of all the parties, be able to announce on the Order of Business that it is agreed to take the Committee Stage and all remaining stages.

On Tuesday? I would solemnly ask the Leader of the House that we name the time here this evening as 12 o'clock on Tuesday so that we will not be pushed into sitting unearthly hours of the night.

I will accept that.

I was in the middle of making a point.

We are sitting until section 8 is finished.

This is one of the times that one would love to have instant recall like they have on the television for soccer matches, because I was making a point and I am afraid that the point that I was making has disappeared. Could the Minister answer part of the point that was being made?

The main point was the question of the one-third social expenditure. The social dimension of CIE's expenditure has been identified as one-third. The Government are committed over the next five years, to pay one-third of their expenditure subject to that expenditure being controlled at certain limits. That formula has been in place since May 1983. It has worked very well and has brought the finances under control. Within that one-third expenditure, we have set different targets for the different companies. As I have said, we acknowledge that the major railways cannot be expected to make profits or make any dramatic dent in the losses. In the case of the railways we are trying to curtail the losses whereas in the case of the provincial buses we are trying to turn the situation around from a loss making situation of about £4 million to a profit making situation of about £4 million over the next five years. In the case of Dublin city services we are trying to halve the losses in the next five years. In all cases I am talking about real terms. In other words we would allow for inflation in that as well.

Just to re-cap on the principles of amendments Nos. 10 and 11 and the Minister's own amendment No. 9, subsection (8) of section 8 in the basic Bill states:

Each company shall undertake the functions assigned to it by virtue of this Act in compliance with such directions as the Board may give to the company in writing from time to time.

The intention, as I understand it in amendments Nos. 10 and 11 is to go beyond the point that has been acknowledged by the Minister in his own amendment which reads:

In relation to competition between services of the companies, the companies shall have regard to the overall interest of the Board and in any conflict between the companies the Board shall decide the issue with due regard to its overall interest and the interests of the particular companies concerned.

The difficulty about that is that I can conceive of no situation in which it would not be available to interpretation that something was in the interests of at least one company or two companies or on the other hand that it was in the interests of the overall company. It is a formulation that is convenient, but so convenient that it allows itself an ease of interpretation in practically any way one likes. The advantage in amendments 10 and 11 is that it carries it much further on. It clearly establishes in amendment 10 that rather than the conflict arising in the first place and being adjudicated in favour of one interpretation or the other it is expressed much more positively that the companies in the first instance shall avoid wasteful competition that would damage either or both and that this would be achieved by developing an integrated public transport service. I feel that the principle of integration here is the substance of the amendment.

In amendment 11 equally the same arguments would apply. It is rather than leaving oneself with adjudication in an negative sense that the positive principle is being established. Perhaps it is understood already that the Minister will be seeking to achieve the obligations of the board in relation to its social purposes. What is required there is the carrying through of what is acknowledged in amendment No. 9 to accept the principles of integration in amendment No. 10, and the commitment very overtly to the obligations on social grounds for the provision of transport in amendment No. 11.

Senator O'Mahony suggested to the Minister that instead of amendments Nos. 10 and 11 — I am sorry Senator Killilea is absent because he was looking for these words all night and now that the golden words have been put on the record for the second time he is not available — other wording would be included. The Minister responded favourably saying he was prepared to consider that proposal for inclusion at Report Stage and that there could be an amalgamation of Nos. 10 and 11, leaving it to the Minister's discretion as to whatever section he wants to put the words in. He suggested putting them in this section on Report Stage. The suggested wording is that the board and the companies should have due regard to the board's social role and the need to maintain public transport services integrated to the maximum extent possible within the financial resources available to them.

That was the difference between us. That was a suggestion from our side. That was the formula that I used earlier today. The words were not the subject of passing notes to one another. It was a question of asking the Minister if he would consider it. The Minister responded. Then we asked for an amendment. Eventually, we reached agreement and Senator Killilea accepted that although it was not exactly what he wanted, we had an area of agreement in the formulation of words that the Minister finally accepted. There will be a new amendment 10 and the Minister can deal with that at Report Stage. That is a measure of agreement. I welcome it. It would achieve exactly what Senator M. O'Higgins has just said. The Minister has agreed to look at it in that light. I think Senator O'Mahony would be pleased if the House would agree to that formulation being adopted.

Can I just say, irrespective of what the Minister wants or what the Labour Party want, that the ultimate effect of these amendments and the Minister's amendment to the Bill will be a weakening of the competitive edge by each of the companies who will be involved in the transportation system. Basically, what is being said in these amendments is that there shall be no competition and we shall sit back if a competitive edge is being got by one side or the other. I can guarantee that the private enterprise area will come in. Because there are going to be delays and because there is to be cohesion of opinion between the various companies, there is no way that either company can be competitive. These rules negate all competition. They negate everything that a commercial company would be asking for. They are giving to the private enterprise people the opportunity to take over. Everything in this set of amendments is going to give the sharp edge of competition to the private companies. There is nothing in here that does anything else except take from CIE and take from the constituent groups in CIE the competitive edge because they are going to have to consult and they are going to have to go away from the normal economic decisions that are made at 8 a.m. or 10 p.m. This section is negating the competitive edge that CIE might be seeking.

Does Senator Lanigan think, for example, that in the Smurfit organisation, they allow disruptive competition to emerge between companies within that group to the detriment of the group? They do not. It makes sense to make provisions along these lines. Do you think the Guinness group allow disruptive competition? Of course, they do not. The other point is——

May I ask the Minister, on a point of information, if there is any cohesion within CIE and the organisation of CIE? Is there any parallel between them and the organisation of Smurfit or Guiness?

No, but we are creating a group of companies. Everything that I am trying to do in this Bill is designed to show the cohesiveness of that group. This amendment is completely in keeping with that. For instance, we made provision at my insistence for the intertransferability of staff between companies — a question Senator Lanigan raised earlier — the commonality of the pension scheme and the fact that there will not now be disruptive competition between companies in the group. That makes good sense.

We cannot get to the stage where there will not be competition between the groups. We cannot say that one group within this reorganised organisation can compete commercially unless it is disruptive of the other group.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 10 not moved.

In talking about amendment No. 10 I took the liberty to deal also with amendment No. 11 and to indicate that I will be withdrawing that also in view of the fact that the Minister appears to be happy with the alternative formulation I gave to amendments Nos. 10 and 11.

Is that agreed?

Senator O'Mahony will be proposing an amendment along the lines suggested.

Amendment No. 11 not moved.
Section 8, as amended, agreed to.
Progress reported: Committee to sit again.