Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 are similar. Amendments Nos. 3, 6 and 12 are consequential. Amendments Nos. 1, 2, 3, 6 and 12 may be discussed together.
Transport (Re-Organisation of Córas Iompair Éireann) Bill, 1986: Committee Stage.
Or may be dealt with separately too.
If the Senator wishes we can have separate decisions on them.
A single debate and a separate decision on them.
If amendment No. 1 is not accepted, Nos. 3, 6 and 12 cannot be moved. Amendment No. 2 can only be moved if amendment No. 1 is withdrawn. This is a little complicated.
That certainly is very complicated. I do not agree to that.
If you read the amendments and the section you will agree to it.
I will not agree to the last statement the Cathaoirleach made, that only if amendment No. 1 is withdrawn No. 2 becomes operative.
Amendment No. 2 has the same effect as amendment No. 1.
Why are we short-circuiting? What is the idea of us going through this Bill in this manner?
We are not.
I put down amendments in a reasonable manner. They have been down for some time and I find today that those new amendments are in today and they are all consequential. I would like to have fair play here.
If the Senator looks at amendments Nos. 1 and 2, he will see that they are similar.
Not on the basis that amendment No. 2 only comes into it if amendment No. 1 is withdrawn.
If the Senator gets into any trouble the Chair will get him out of it.
I move amendment No. 1:
In page 4, subsection (1), lines 18 to 20, to delete subsection (1) and substitute a new subsection as follows:——
"6.—(1) The Board shall cause two companies limited by shares conforming to the conditions laid down in this Act, to be formed and registered under the Companies Acts."
I would like to put it in the context of the position that has developed since the Second Stage debate on the Bill. As the Seanad will know, during the debate on Second Stage, members of my party expressed various concerns in relation to the Bill as originally drafted. We indicated, at that time, we would welcome the opportunity of having discussions with the Minister prior to Committee Stage. Those discussions have taken place and arising from them I am glad to say we have reached agreement on a number of matters which were contentious between us during Second Stage. The areas in which we have agreement are indicated in the amendments tabled in the name of the Minister, with one exception which arose for different reasons.
At the end of that process of discussion, some matters of difference still remained between us. These are indicated in the amendments tabled in my name. Those amendments do not represent a personal position, although I obviously support them. They are the view of my party and are tabled in my name on behalf of my party.
I hope during the course of this Committee Stage debate that we will be able to resolve the differences which remain following our discussions with the Minister. Significant improvements, in my view, in the Bill have been made with the assistance and full co-operation of the Minister. I hope, as we progress through Committee Stage, that we can reach further agreement on the matters outstanding still. As Senators in my party said during the Second Stage debate, it is clearly in the public interest, and in the interest of the workforce in CIE that that company should be made as efficient, as cost effective and as consumer-orientated as possible. That is in everybody's interest and in the national interest.
We welcome the very rapid increases in productivity which have taken place within the company since 1983. We welcome the initiative in 1983 to set down clearly the financial framework within which the company can operate. That framework makes it possible for the company to see ahead and not to be in a position where they do not know from one year to the next what financial arrangements will be made to support the operation of their transport system.
Significant gains have been made in terms of productivity, increased efficiency and in terms of the ability of the company to plan forward. The position of my party in the Second Stage debate was that we were not at all clear as to the reason why they should be subsidiary companies. The arguments that have been made for subsidiary companies are that greater transparency can be achieved in the financial arrangements for the various services offered by the company if there is a subsidiary company structure and, secondly, that more efficient management can be achieved through subsidiary company operations because of the smaller scale on which the operations are taking place.
Most of us argued during the Second Stage debate that it is equally possible to achieve the level of transparency of accounts required and the level of efficiency which is appropriate and desirable through the creation of divisions within the one company as through the creation of subsidiary companies. That seems to me to be still a case that has not really been met to any degree of satisfaction.
On the question of transparency the annual accounts of CIE are very transparent. I instanced this on Second Stage by indicating the very large numbers of accounts that are shown in the annual accounts that companies hold covering every aspect of the company's work, including refreshment rooms in restaurant cars working account, canals working account — that is now transferred to the Board of Works — international activities working account, road freight working account, vessel working account and so on. The accounts of CIE are highly transparent at the moment within the context of one company. There is no doubt that they can be disaggregated even further should that be required.
On the question of efficiency of management and questions of management being essentially more efficient through smaller scale operations, that can be achieved just as well in a divisional structure. We know of many companies internationally which are larger than CIE and which operate on a divisional structure basis. The basic position of our group is that the benefits, which subsidiary companies are intended to deliver, can be delivered within the existing single company structure just as well, but the single company structure has additional benefits which seem to us to be fairly significant, the benefit of integrated public transport provision, which is referred to in another amendment which I have down and the benefit of complementarity, sharing of resources and so on.
We recognised, during the course of the Second Stage debate that the Minister feels strongly that subsidiary companies offer a better opportunity to achieve the objectives that I mentioned. We are anxious to reach an arrangement which will be mutually satisfactory. It was in an attempt to reach that arrangement that we suggested the notion that CIE should, if the company have to be divided into subsidiary companies, be divided into two such companies rather than three, one covering Dublin city bus services and one covering the provincial road and rail services together with DART.
The rationale to the two companies idea as opposed to three is the following. Dublin city bus services are already an entity and recognised as such. They are already reasonably autonomous in terms of their operation within the company. It makes sense, if there has to be a subsidiary company structure, that Dublin city bus services should be one. Once you go outside Dublin, the argument for complementarity within the one company between provincial rail and provincial bus is very strong indeed. We are concerned with the notion, which is reflected in one of the amendments before us, that competition is expected to take place between provincial rail and bus in the future.
Obviously there will be, in the normal course of human events, some competition between rail and provincial bus. Some controlled competition is not entirely unacceptable provided it is geared towards the provision of an integrated transport service for the entire country. Competition is probably the wrong word. Separation of services would be better. Surely the outstanding point to be made is that we are trying to deliver an efficient public transport system country wide. It seems that can be best achieved if there has to be subsidiary companies through having one subsidiary company which is geared to seeing to it that provincial rail and bus operate, first of all, efficiently — everybody is agreed on that — and second, in a way where each is complementary to the other through careful planning, proper scheduling and proper resource allocation as between the two services. It seems that is better provided in one company with one management system and one board than in two. For this reason I have tabled this amendment on behalf of my party.
It is rational, in a society which is small both geographically and in terms of population to operate a public transport service in which bus and rail outside Dublin work closely together in a carefully controlled fashion, in which the decision that arises will be whether an area is better served by rail or road as oppposed to the idea that there should be two companies, one overseeing rail and one overseeing provincial bus, having as one of their objectives controlled competition between them. It is true to say that the holding company, the CIE board, would have under this Bill a responsibility to see to the affairs of all of their companies and to see that there is some degree of co-ordination between the activities of each of the companies. I would like to compliment the Government and the Minister on this. This is a significant improvement on the position as proposed by McKinsey in 1981 where he said that CIE should be abolished and there should be three separate independent companies operating in competition with each other without the benefit of a holding company board to control events and to institute proper planning.
It is for these reasons that I move this amendment. It is perfectly rational to have two companies, one company operating the public transport service outside Dublin city bus services. It will be seen in time that it is the most efficient way to do things and also the one which best meets the requirements of consumers who are at the centre of all our concerns in this matter.
One would have to agree with most of the sentiments expressed by Senator Flor O'Mahony on this amendment. As it is tied up with many other amendments as the Chair said I would like to have a look at it from a different point of view. I am disappointed that Senator O'Mahony could not qualify the facts that were circulated to every Senator concerning the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union and the negotiations that went on with them with members of the Government and of the Labour Party where certain promises seem to have been made. I am also disappointed that Senator O'Mahony has not mentioned NATE, the organisation representing the National Association of Training Engineers, in the Stella Ballroom at the Labour Party Conference in 1982 where certain promises and assurances were given by the Leader of his Party, Deputy Spring. "Guaranteeing" was the word that was used by a delegation that came to me to speak about their worries and anxieties concerning this Bill. I do not know what went on at the Labour Party Conference in Limerick but in the statement of that union they said publicly that clear and defined promises were made to them by the leader of the Labour Party.
It is not for that purpose that I have my amendments down. I would like to remind the House that they are aware of those promises which were made. I am surprised that the Labour Party did not come in here today to explain that matter. If a promise cannot be kept there is nothing wrong with that, but at least this House should be informed that promises were made. It is from that point of view that I make the point. They seem to be very upset about the situation in which they have been placed. I want to make that fact publicly known because that is an important fact in this matter. I wanted to talk about this from the divisional structural point of view that Senator O'Mahony spoke about, which sounds very reasonable, and the possibility of the administration from a single structure. There is no need for me to be repetitive on that point because it is something one accepts.
As regards the Minister's efforts here, I have to say, in fairness, that I do not see very much wrong with the view of going from the original proposal on report to this set up of the companies. The only problem I have with it is that it is absolutely ludicrous for the division into three companies rather than into two for the following reasons which are very pertinent. First of all, take the city arrangement. The taxpayers have spent an enormous amount of money on the DART proposal and it seems to be going to the satisfaction of the users in any event whether it is going to the satisfaction of those who are paying the piper is another question. At least it seems to be a good service. I will not talk about the cost of it at the moment because I do not have the figures as to whether it will ever be profitable.
I feel that service should have been tied in to the Dublin city bus services. The whole city and its environs should be under one administration. I know there would be huge complications as regards the right of way on the rail tracks for the DART service but I believe that it is part and parcel of the services in and out of the city just as much as the internal bus routes and the bus services of this city from a CIE point of view. One fits into the other and it is very natural and normal that they should be linked. There are probably snags but that is what we are there for. If there are complications we should be able to sort them out but once and for all we should have an efficient service in the city. That is our aim.
The Minister has not gone far enough. He will probably say to me that the complications are vast. If they are they should be resolved. There is a method for resolving such complicated matters and they should be taken in hand. We should have two rather than three companies. It is fatal to separate rail from rural bus services. That is exactly what we are doing.
Competition is the life of trade and it has certainly done a lot for CIE in recent times. I remember a time when you would get into a train in Galway city to go to Dublin and pay £19.50 or £21 if you were coming back within a couple of days. It was absolutely ludicrous. It is still that price if you are not in at a certain hour in the morning and if you are not one of those who are in before the first number of people who are getting on the train. Those days are gone. We should have a rapid, economical and good service.
The bus services feeding into that are of vital importance. The alternative to that is that we have the innovation of the luxury coaches doing their daily trips to and from the major cities and provincial capitals. They are doing it at a very low price varying between £10 and £6 and even £5 on occasions. That is the competition CIE have to look at because they are operative and they are being used by an enormous number of people whether we like it or not. There is no point trying to bring in legislation here that does not take that as a pointer. If we are going to separate rural bus and rural rail we will create more competition against something that is absolutely struggling. We should be making CIE more competitive. If they are separate companies — it is an important point and I hope the Minister will reply to it — how will the separation be made? Will there be a rapid train leaving Galway city at 8 a.m. and arriving here in town at 11.30 a.m.? Will there also be a rapid bus leaving Galway at 8 a.m. and arriving in Dublin at 11.30 a.m.? It does not sound reasonable. Third, will the local coaches start from Galway at 8 a.m. and arrive in Dublin at 11.30 a.m., all operating at varying costs?
CIE should be integrating the bus and rail services, making them more rapid, more competitive and tackling, as it were, this great new opposition that they have on the ground. CIE, from the services that they give around the country do not deserve to lose passengers. There is nothing we can do here about them if they do not shape themselves up into an efficient and competitive company and in these times and onwards offer an alternative and a better service than is on offer elsewhere in the private sector. I believe that that is an essential ingredient for the success of CIE rurally.
How, for example, in the intricacies of this Bill and the setting up of the three companies, are CIE going to divide up the properties they have around the country? Are they going to draw a white line across the railway station in any rural town and say: "That is bus; that is rail. If you cross to that side you are on the rail side, and if you cross on this side you are on the bus side". Instead of knitting the services together they are more or less separating them. There is not much logic to that. I cannot see any logic in running two parallel services from provincial cities to Dublin daily. I do not know what quantity of fuel is involved. The cost factor is not being taken into account. If the bus company is going to be separate from the rail company the bus company has to be viable. It is not going to be viable unless it offers good conditions, good facilities, speed and efficiency for long distance haulage.
At the same time we are running exactly the same service with CIE rail. What are we doing separating those two companies? Would we not be better off making a saving and giving a better offer to the passengers who chose to go by CIE, a service run efficiently and quickly and at a reasonable cost? I am not saying that costs should be lower or that they should be higher but they should be reasonable, CIE fares on trains today are absolutely unreasonable. The Minister will probably reply by saying that rail is losing money. I do not believe that the CIE structures of today can actually reveal who is or who is not losing money.
That is exactly the point.
Yes, but if we are separating the companies to show that one or the other is losing money, then we are falling right into the trap. Surely there are structures within the framework of CIE which could accurately give us the facts. We remember the old strategies of days gone by; when CIE were dissatisfied with the rail line from Limerick to Sligo we know what happened; that line was closed. Two years prior to that CIE made a decision in their office, probably in Dublin, to close that line. They got the books out and loaded the figures and then two years later they presented the figures for that particular line and showed they were losing an enormous amount of money. Of course, it was shown by prepared accounts; I am not saying they were deceitful but they were prepared so that the light would shine down upon this great argument that was made at the time that this particular line was losing a small fortune. That was done. We know the tricks of the semi-State bodies. If we were in Government we were placed in the onerous situation that we had to defend the old tricks. Deputy Mitchell is placed in the same situation.
If we are honest with CIE and honest with ourselves we should say that there must be two companies. I am not too pushed about the holding company. Perhaps it is necessary to have a holding company, a watching company over them, but in the long term it will be proved to be ludicrous and stupid to separate rural rail from rural road, making the bus company and the rail company two separate companies. It does not stand to reason. I do not know why the Minister and the Government have made this decision. I think what they both need is assistance from each other rather than competition and that is what it is going to be.
Senator O'Mahony sort of apologised because there might be competition. It will be nothing but brutal competition. There will be a fall guy in that competitive world. Who will fall, I cannot predict. It seems from the whispers one hears around the country that it is the railways that will fall. Can we afford to let the railroads fall? Everybody will tell you the bus companies are making a profit in CIE. I do not know. I have not the figures. Other people will tell you the rail company will do well, that the bus company will fall. If the bus company falls who is going to feed the rail company? There is no imagination attached to this decision. I ask the Minister seriously at this stage to reconsider it. I think Senator O'Mahony has made the point very clear. It is a reasonable amendment. I would ask the Minister to accept it because we are only beginning this exercise. I think the public are baffled by what the Minister is doing. People are talking about this ludicrous decision to make two separate companies in the rural parts of the country. It does not seem logical.
We will be more than helpful to the Minister in any way we can because I know it is a difficult task to change such a mammoth organisation as CIE. I think this amendment should be accepted. I was not party to all the discussion that went on yesterday and the day before and on the Second Stage of this Bill. I know that the Labour Party and the Minister and the Fine Gael Party have had a lot of deliberations. I do not know whether they were cordial or not. The matter has been a thorn in the side of the Coalition Government; there is no question about that. I know they have received a few thorns in recent days and had a big one yesterday. I do not want to be political about it. I would like rather to be on the side of CIE on this issue, now that we are tackling the problem at last, and help to make CIE better for everybody including CIE. My kindness and generosity are always extended, I hope for the betterment of a good social service.
CIE has an element of a social service; that is not denied. People who think otherwise are just fooling themselves. If we do what the Bill proposes that portion of CIE that has a social service attached to it will be lost because the competition will wipe it out. I would rather see CIE basically in its rural operation attacking the market and attracting people to it, giving the comforts of their workplace to those that work in it and giving the comforts of good transport to the people who consistently used the service over the years until the alternative service became available, so as to win them back. I believe it can be done in this way. I shall certainly press this amendment.
I wanted to say that whatever about his sincerity I thought Senator Killilea would never be accused of having a short memory. I would like the House to recall the genesis of this Bill. The Fianna Fáil Government set up the McKinsey report. McKinsey made his report and in the meantime the then Deputy Mark Killilea was appointed a Minister of State at my Department.
The Senator was Minister of State at my Department.
Wrong; it was at the Department of Posts and Telegraphs.
Which is part of the present Department.
No, it was not. Deputy Flynn was the Minister for State in the Minister's Department.
The Senator was Minister of State in that Government. What did that Government decide? What memorandum was circulated by that Government — and was stopped when I became Minister? To accept McKinsey in full and break up CIE completely. Here is this patently insincere contribution from Senator Killilea today, when they proposed to break up CIE completely, to completely disestablish CIE and to accept in full the McKinsey report, how can the House expect me to accept that there is any sincerity whatever in what Senator Killilea has said? Moreover, much of what he did say would lead any logical person to the conclusion that what was needed in CIE was these three companies.
It is worth looking at the history of CIE over the past 20 years. I would point out that in every single year until I became Minister CIE's losses escalated and escalated so much so that between 1969 and 1982 the loss had gone up seven times the rate of inflation. Every year since it has come down in real terms. That situation has been brought about because of the policies I implemented within weeks of coming into office to stop the shenanigans of the way CIE was treated which is a story of the most appalling ineptitude and political recklessness. Most of the problems of CIE over the years have not been CIE's fault but have been visited upon them by politicians who have not addressed the problems sincerely and who have been expedient just like Senator Killilea is here. In the process the gap widened in those 13 years from a small loss to £109.2 million in 1982. If that had continued for another year or two we would now be talking about massive losses — £250 to £300 million.
We arrested that trend by introducing a new financial regime for CIE within months of my coming into office. We stopped the nonsense of telling CIE two weeks before the beginning of the financial year that their subvention would be as for the following year, usually a figure wishfully picked out of the air to fit in with the Book of Estimates. For instance, the figure picked out by the Fianna Fáil Government in 1982 and told to CIE a few days before I came to office on 14 December was £86 million when in fact they were about to declare losses for the year just finishing of £109 million. Yet, every single effort that CIE made to cut costs was blocked by perpetual, constant, day-to-day interference by the same politicians and then CIE were blamed. That has been changed. The financial regime which we have inaugurated is a five year projection whereby they know exactly where they stand; they know that if they beat the target they keep the money to pay off their debts, they have an incentive to work for and this has worked with dramatic effect. I never tire of repeating that everyone in CIE deserves credit for that. If I was criticising them today I know that would get headlines but the fact that I am praising them is not likely to get the same headlines but I do hope it is mentioned because it is important to people in CIE to know that the improvements have been noted.
This Bill is designed to cement that improvement, to guarantee the future of CIE and each of its components. That is what it is designed to do, to give it management closer to the ground in each case so that they can be flexible, so that they can act decisively in their own area. Senator Killilea also said this in relation to the closure of the Limerick-Sligo lines. He said that CIE came up with figures that he suggested were grossly exaggerated in order to justify the closing of that line. I cannot comment on the accuracy or otherwise of what Senator Killilea has said but it is possible within such a large conglomerate to reallocate overheads by taking very optimistic or very pessimistic assumptions. I believe that it has been at times a feature of what has happened in CIE. It has been one of the difficulties in getting CIE's costs under control. If those costs had not been got under control and had continued as they were, half, if not more of CIE would be on the scrap heap today. There would be no future for the railways and no future for the buses if the trend of 1969 to 1982 had continued any longer. It was escalating out of control.
We have achieved a turnaround in CIE's affairs without massive redundancies, without massive cuts in services which is something I was always confident of doing, having been very close to that company since my childhood. I want to reiterate that the purpose of the three companies is central to the Bill. If we did not have three companies there would be no need for the Bill. What is suggested is tantamount to saying: "Take out Dublin city services and leave the rest to CIE". There would not be a need for a Bill if that is all we wanted to do. We could have used section 14 of the 1950 Act to do that. Some people suggested we could divisionalise the company but the same difficulties would be there with divisionalisation as are there at the moment because if the board have not got clearcut boundaries of each company's activities where costs are clear, where profits are clear, where performance is clear there will always be a danger of allocating overheads optimistically or pessimistically which will not give clarity to the results and objects of the company.
We decided that the proposals of the Fianna Fáil Government and my predecessor, Deputy John Wilson, were not acceptable. We said "no" to the disestablishment of CIE, that it did not make sense because there are economies of scale that can be brought about, for instance, in centralised computer services, in joint maintenance of buses as between city buses and provincial buses and that there can be benefits for the entire group by the prudent exploitation and development of the assets of the group, something which has been disregarded for years. That is why we felt it was right to retain CIE as one group of companies. We also believed it right that there should be reorganisation of the group into three companies so as to give each of the main functions of the board its own management, its own clear objectives.
In relation to the provincial bus services and the railways — both of which are very big — even with this arrangement, the smallest company will have 2,500 employees, which by our standards is very big. I want the provincial bus company to be a learn and fit body, not to compete with the railways because the parent board will see to it that the interests of the group are looked after. In order to reiterate that point I have an amendment tabled to make it clear. I want the provincial bus company to get out there and compete with other operators who are poaching business from it and be in a position to react flexibly. It is absolutely crucial from that point of view to have its own separate management. Likewise, it is crucial, if the railways are to be as efficient, as economical, as cheap as possible — that is what Senator Killilea wants — that they have their own management with their own objectives.
One of the difficulties that has permeated CIE for years is industrial relations. If you consider the size of CIE it is not surprising that industrial relations has been a problem. Decisions have had to go up to the top in an organisation of up to 20,000 people. One of the reasons for the poor industrial relations, which admittedly in recent years has been mainly — not exclusively — a Dublin city services problem, has been the remoteness of management and because there was not clear management. One of the great benefits to be gained by the re-organisation into three companies will be better industrial relations because management will be closer to the ground and more ready to deal with the unions and the employees, be more responsive to their needs and be able to make decisions more quickly.
I cannot accept the amendments because to do so would undermine the central purpose of the Bill. Whatever Senator Killilea's motives in putting down his amendment, which is a complete contradiction of the stand taken by his party in Government when they wanted to go much further, I can understand that Senator O'Mahony's motives are somewhat different. The worries expressed by the unions are unjustified. Because they are unjustified I have gone to great length to remove them, by tabling extensive amendments to ensure that, if, in the most unlikely event any of the companies ceased to function, those employed on vesting day would be reemployed directly by the board and without interruption of service and the functions of that company would be resumed by the board without interruption.
We have tabled a very extensive amendment to section 17 which clarifies beyond doubt the rights of workers and their trade unions. I have tabled amendments to provide for the presence of worker members of the board on the subsidiary companies. We have clarified the question of competition between the companies; it will have to be controlled by the main board which will bear in mind the interests of the particular companies as well as the board. Those provisions make clear beyond doubt the security of tenure of the present employment of CIE workers, whether in the railways, provincial bus services or the city bus services, or road freight, it will not in any way be affected by the re-organisation. On the contrary, the re-organisation will greatly improve the prospects of CIE and each of its component companies. Because of the new structure, because of the new financial regime, the likelihood of success is all the greater.
The future of the railways is secure certainly for my lifetime. At present carriages are being built in Inchicore, a programme commenced since I became Minister. The lifetime of those carriages, which number about 130, will be 20 or 30 years. Senator Killilea's remarks —he seems to be trying to peddle fear — that railways are going to be closed, is absolutely and totally——
That is not a true statement. I am not trying to peddle fear. If the Minister wants to start off with that attitude we can cut a rough deal.
That is, unfortunately, a view that would have to be taken——
Senator Killilea will have an opportunity later.
The future of the railways is secure.
That is the Minister's interpretation.
Senator Killilea will have an opportunity to reply in a moment; the Minister to continue without interruption.
Without any doubt, the future of the railways is secure. The closer specific management will greatly improve that security. As long as the railways can operate within the financial target set out for them there is absolutely no problem. I am glad to be able to record that in 1983, 1984 and in 1985 the railways, like the other components of CIE, have met their target. There has been a very substantial renewal of the rolling stock in terms of coaches and in terms of DART.
The same is true for the city services. Dublin city services have a substantially new fleet: the provincial bus services have a substantially new fleet. The renewal of CIE which this Bill seeks to cement is built not only on the financial reforms I mentioned but also on huge investment over the last number of years, going back to the time when Fianna Fáil were in office, in a substantially new fleet of buses and new rolling stock.
While I understand some of the worries that have motivated some Senators, I hope the amendments which I have tabled will allay those fears. I hope that when the Bill is passed with three companies as proposed it will provide for the brightest possible future for CIE. That is its purpose.
I am sorry that the Minister has started off this debate in a most acrimonious manner. I have never heard such tripe from a Minister before. He has wafted himself away on a cloud of self-indulgence and self-praise. How can the Minister suggest to this House that the motivation behind the amendments of Senator Killilea and Senator O'Mahony was different? It is ludicrous that the Minister should read into these amendments things that are not in them. I understood that we were to discuss the future of CIE, the future of the workers of CIE and to ensure that whatever changes are made will be for the benefit not alone of the company or the State but of the employees. I can guarantee the Minister a rough ride here today if he continues in the vein he started in. We are here today to work for CIE and its workers and the State. But if the Minister indulges in personal attacks in regard to the motivation of Members on this side of the House, he will be here for a long time.
A number of matters which the Minister raised are suspect because he has not in any way addressed the problems put forward by Senators O'Mahony and Killilea today. He has not given one solitary good reason why there should be only two companies as against three. He suggested that there would be more efficiency in the running of CIE and its subsidiary companies. He told us that there will be closer co-operation on the ground and that there will be better industrial relations and no competition as between rail and road. How can he assure us that the railway will last his lifetime? I did not know that the Lord had come down and given the Minister a life span which can be compared to the life span of a railway. How can he give a life span for the railway system before the setting up of the new rail board if such will be set up? Has he taken away the powers from the main board to dictate what should happen in the railway system? If a new company to run the railways is to be set up has he already decided what will happen? Does this take away from these companies theirraison d'être?
The Minister addressed himself in a very short aside to the situation of the workers.
While the amendments he has brought in may give absolute protection to the workers, he did not address himself to the problems which will be associated with the splitting up of CIE for instance, lack of promotional prospects because there will be three smaller companies. There will not be the same promotional prospects within smaller companies as there would be in a bigger company.
How will it be possible to ensure that competition will not be carried on as between road and rail? The Minister did suggest that there would be no such competition because the main board would ensure that this could not happen. What is the situation on the ground? When, for example, Kilkenny are playing Dublin on a Sunday morning and the rail company decide to run a special train to Dublin and the bus company decide to run special buses, does that mean that a decision will have to be made at board level as to which of these systems will work? This is simplifying a major problem which will arise if this system of break-up takes place, particularly outside the Dublin area.
It is ludicrous to think that we can split up the bus and rail services as they are set up at present. If that is done, local management structures, which are separate, will have to be set up. You will not be able to amalgamate your global services as they are at present to a large degree. Not alone will office space have to be split up but there will have to be separate telephone lines and all the various things which today are co-ordinated and which, being co-ordinated, are cheaper to run than separate service lines. It is absolutely certain that if you split up the rural bus and rail services, you will duplicate, to a large degree, many services throughout the country. There will be no savings.
There is a chance of improving management structures down the country. I do not blame local management for the inadequacies of the transport system as it is. The management system at local level do a good job within the constraints placed upon them by the Board of CIE at present. These same constraints will be there irrespective of whether there is one, two or three subsidiary companies, because the board will still have the final say in what happens in terms of management.
One question which the Minister posed was a very relevant one. He asked whether there was need for this Bill at all. There are a number of people who suggest that there is no such need but that there is a need for re-organising the management structure of CIE and if it were altered there would be absolutely no reason for the setting up of these companies. The Minister has not shown us that there will be increased efficiency in the separation of the various services as laid down here. He did mention that remoteness of management has created industrial problems throughout the country. But he did at least admit that the majority of industrial relations problems are related to Dublin city bus services. This is quite true.
I do not think that workers in CIE down the country have any feeling of remoteness from their local shop stewards and management if problems arise or, indeed, from the worker/directors in the regions in which they work. At least, I have not heard that it is remoteness which caused industrial relations problems. I agree that remoteness of the higher echelon of management would have something to do with many of the problems that have arisen. Perhaps one of the problems of the Dublin bus service is that they are so close to the management that they can see the inefficiencies at board level clearer than people down the country.
It is ludicrous to think that one can disassemble the rural bus and rail services. There has to be co-ordination between these services in terms of pricing structures, timetabling and competition. In the past, to a large degree, we have not had this co-ordination.
At our ports there has been no co-ordination of services as between ships coming into port and the rail or road transportation system from the ports. Again, there has been no co-ordination of services from the boats to areas where divergent routes are needed. We have seen people coming into Rosslare Harbour and having to wait for a bus or train to get to Waterford and then to wait five or six hours in Waterford to make a connection to the west or the midlands. There is need for the co-ordination of the services but there is no need for the breaking up of the provincial rail and bus services. There is a need for controlled competition as between road and rail.
As was suggested by Senator Killilea, there is a need for a realisation by people in CIE that the private bus companies are providing a very good service on 99 per cent of their routes. It is not a service that is being provided, as suggested by certain Members in this House and people outside of it, by cowboys who do not pay their taxes and proper rates of wages. Ninty nine per cent of the people who operate private buses in this country operate to a stricter regime than do CIE. If one goes along the road to see the maintenance of road transport, one would find that, because of the age of much of CIE's rolling stock, their maintenance is not up to the standard that the private bus companies have to adhere to. They have to have their MOT certificates. They have to have their tachographs right. They have to have their tyres right because they are stopped every day of the week. If they are not stopped by CIE bus inspectors, they are stopped by the Garda. If they are not stopped by the Garda they are stopped by the Department of the Environment checking their tachographs and so forth.
I met about half a dozen beautiful new CIE buses on the way up today.
Yes, but, unfortunately, the problem is that they are all beautifully liveried and half full.
Senator Lanigan to continue without interruption.
If we could get the Americans back over here, we might be able to fill them if they stop running scared of the people of this country. I would ask the Minister to quantify the savings that will be made in terms of cash in splitting up these services into three. I should like the Minister to quantify the savings made in personnel throughout the country. I should like to ask the Minister how physically he will change premises, how physically he will not have to set up a duplication of offices.
Finally, I should like the Minister to satisfy us in this House that there is any justification for the break-up of provincial rail and bus.
There are major problems for Dublin Bus — many of these problems have to be taken in conjunction with the road system in Dublin. We can see that the road system in Dublin can get clogged up and the Dublin bus system has to fight against many elements it should not have to fight against. Changes will have to be made in the Dublin road system to ensure that the buses can run on a regular basis without too much hindrance except the normal hindrances that would apply in any urban scenario.
DART has been mentioned. There is a need to consider DART, whether as a separate entity or in conjunction with Dublin Bus, I am not too sure. It would appear that there is — and this was not referred to here at all — a need for an extension of the DART system to other areas of the city and other areas of the Dublin suburbs. If there is such an extension, the co-ordination aspect as between Dublin Bus and DART will have to be addressed very carefully.
The genesis of the Bill was mentioned as was the McKinsey report. Former Governments have also been mentioned. If we sat down here today and addressed ourselves to the problems as they are and to the future we would be doing a better job for CIE, for ourselves and for the country than going back, as the Minister attempted to do at the very beginning of this debate.
I should like to echo that last comment by Senator Lanigan. I do not think there is anything useful to be gained by going back. I could accuse Senator Killilea of making a Second Stage speech which is different from what he was doing on the section. A previous Fianna Fáil Government made a decision and it is different from this now. In fairness McKinsey itself differed.
I beg the Senator's pardon. We are dealing here with the Bill before us.
McKinsey deals specifically with the number of companies, which is what this amendment is about. The consultants in 1971 rejected the idea of breaking up CIE, saying that the major disadvantages would include, and I quote:
The loss of a single national integrated transport company with the benefits it can provide to the community; the diffusion of management talent over a large number of small companies; and the duplication of facilities such as personnel, the computer, research and engineering workshops which are shared at present.
That is stated at page 58 of the McKinsey report of 1971. McKinsey in 1981 had a different view. It called for the disestablishment of CIE as an entity and the formation of a national railway company, a Dublin bus company and a national bus company. On Second Stage I put on the record of this House that the Labour Party as a political unit were opposed to the philosophy of McKinsey. We gave that at national conference and we gave public commitments to that effect. The trade unions had reservations about it and expressed them to us and, I am sure, to Senator Lanigan and Senator Killilea. They have expressed them to the Minister, that in some way this Bill might be McKinsey by some side door or back door or it could be misrepresented as it. On Second Stage I put it to the Minister that it was his duty to reassure the House here that what he was doing, particularly regarding the two or three companies, would in some way reflect the views of the trade union movement, the views of us as politicians in this House but, more importantly, just to bring it above the plane of ordinary politics, which is what all of us want to do, we collectively are expressing a reservation what people in the country have particularly regarding diffusion of the number of companies, in that one of them, which to us in rural areas is of paramount importance, that is the provincial rail service, could suffer in a three-company situation. The Minister said that was dealt with in other sections of the Bill, that he had addressed himself to this problem and that that would not happen.
In the process of our discussion on this amendment, aided by the Minister's response, we will be able to overcome that problem. We will be able to reassure people that, if finally the Minister is adamant that this is what he wants, the people in the country, the workers and the users of the transport system will know exactly where they are going with a view to a future integrated transport policy as an overall Government responsibility and response to the demands.
I asked the Minister on Second Stage what was the reason for having three companies as opposed to two companies. I listened to him now when he said that it is imperative that management be responsible for the day-to-day running of any enterprise and that there must be some element of competition, otherwise there would be no incentive to provide a better transport system than is there at the moment. If there is a little element of competition between sections, that is a healthy thing provided we do not disregard the fundamental fact that there will always be a social element in that service, particularly for the transportation of our people. I have mentioned this on Second Stage and I mention it now. It is important that all the companies, no matter how many there are — and we will agree before the day is out possibly on the numbers — have regard to social need.
Who will agree?
This House will agree, right? I am talking to the House and I hope the Minister is listening.
They have not agreed yet. The Senator is looking at me.
No, I shall look at the Chair so. It is much more attractive than looking at the Senator.
This is the Parliamentary process that I talked about on the last occasion. It is a very important and useful thing for us, as elected people here, to carry out. It is imperative that there is inbuilt into all of them an element of social content to which the State must address itself and be financially responsible for; otherwise half the service in the country would be closed down for economic reasons and many people who need to be transported, who cannot afford private transport, would be at a disadvantage. I think the nation has a responsibility to ensure that there is a transport system to suit the people who are in that category. All of us, irrespective of our political affiliations, have agreed on that. We have agreed that that element must be there.
I had suggested to the Minister, because I realise that you must have a management structure at different levels, that you could have an overall policy formulating company called Córas Iompair Éireann, which would have a board elected to it, as of now, including worker directors, who make a very useful input into board decisions. I suggested that that board would have an overall managing director responsible for the whole integrated transport policy for the country, that they would sit intact and would distribute down to other boards their policy and their direction of how that policy should be carried out. In that formulation I felt that there was the possibility of having a board responsible for rail and national bus with their own management, worker directors included, and that we would also have a company called Dublin Bus who would have their own board, management and policy handed down from the top board.
That gives you the three board concept which the Minister is talking about. I understood in discussions we had with all the people interested in this that that formulation of what the Minister wanted would have been acceptable. The actual terms of Senator Flor O'Mahony's amendment addresses itself in black and white to that problem and proposes that we would have just two and not three. We can have a three situation within two, if we wanted to play about with numbers or with boards or with people whom we felt should be in the business of making decisions, who would have something to contribute to the actual process of providing a transport system.
Having discussed that particular prospect, could I now put it to the Minister that to achieve the same thing he wants to achieve, to achieve the same thing we want to achieve, in this three company situation, two of the companies would have, majoratively speaking, a similarity of membership so that they would not be going off an diverging tracks.
Going down the same road, which would be far more serious.
Yes, the same road. If you get two companies going down the same road, then you have an extroardinary overlapping of services, a waste of facilities, a waste of staff and personnel, a waste of everything. If you had a similarity of board membership, it might not be possible to write that, legislatively speaking, into the Bill. If it is, let us talk about it. Let the Minister respond to what I am saying to him now because there are many processes involved in this legislation. If you accept that with separate management — who would be responsible, after all, only for carrying out the decisions of the boards, the policy of the boards — which will give the Minister what he is looking for because he feels that is the best way to achieve what he wants to achieve in this area, you would have management particularly responsible in these three areas.
May I suggest that in two of the areas, to avoid all the anomalies that we on all sides of the House visualise now, in so far as is possible, majoratively speaking, there would be the same type of board because that board would be nominated whether by the Minister or the trade union movement or whatever. If you have two separate boards responsible to two separate managements, but if they are similar at board level, then the worries and the fears that we have on all sides of the House would not materialise.
Perhaps, the Minister, in his response to that suggestion would be able to have another look at this section, if not now, then on Report Stage or something else. I am anxious that we would try to establish in the Minister's mind the fear we have, particularly those of us who represent rural areas, about a possible disadvantage that would accrue to any section of our integrated transport system by another section doing the same job but having decided advantages in doing it. That is something this House will have to address itself to.
The Minister has had available to him all sorts of expert advice from everybody, from the Parliamentary Draftsman, from the Department and from existing management in CIE. He has also had advice from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union, from the Federated Workers' Union, from the Labour Party, at political level, at Parliamentary level, at annual conference level and at policy formulation level. This is because we have a particular interest in transport policy.
I am not suggesting that anybody else does not have, but we have a particular interest in this area and we are very proud of it. We have taken every opportunity to put on record our attitude towards a transport policy. It is on the basis of that policy in that that the Minister could achieve what we want and what he wants, that is distinct and separate management but in the case of two of the companies a similarity of the boards. They do not have to be exactly the same, but the same majoratively speaking, so that you would not have one board making decisions over another one and directing a management to carry on an enterprise down the country that would only be creating a situation clashing of interests and a waste of public finance. All the boards will eventually be looking for a subvention to meet the demand we will be making on them for a social service.
This is quite a serious matter. It is one that I want to address sincerely and with an element of understanding both for what the Minister wants to do and for what the public in general want. The public at large have an interest in CIE. As I have often said, they are very quick to condemn them when they have a strike situation, but many people are so dependent on CIE that it is important that we would realise that you cannot just legislate up here and forget the views of all the people down the country. It is very important that the views we are expressing would be done without any political haggling at one another. I accept the sincerity of what Senator Killilea is trying to do. I accept that Senators O'Mahony, Harte, McGonagle and many other members of the Parliamentary Labour Party as well as myself have——
And Senator Lanigan.
Yes. All of us have been working for weeks on this to try to reach a consensus that would settle the problems as we see them now. That is, in my opinion, the Parliamentary process. You get a Bill cleared at Cabinet who address themselves to it within whatever time factor that is available to them. Of course, if every Bill was just to come out of the Cabinet and not be amended, it would be a very extraordinary Bill. Most Bills that have come before this House in particular have benefited from their passage through this House and have been amended by consent nine times out of ten with the Minister and have been amended by the Minister listening to the case we were making. None of us wants a confrontation on this aspect of it. I feel that the formula I have put forward might meet what the Minister wants and what we want. I would certainly say that if you had a majority membership of two boards, they would be most unlikely to reach decisions to direct management to do something that would be detrimental to the responsibility held in another board. In that regard I would ask the Minister, the Cabinet and whoever else would be responsible for the composition of boards, to address that particular aspect.
The total similarity of boards, apart from the management, is the ideal. It is one we, as a parliamentary party, would approve of. It is one that I am quite certain, with explanation, that the trade union movement would accept and approve of. There is fundamentally nothing wrong with the same people with the same concept of what a transport authority is sitting on different boards with different managements, but having an overall view. As a matter of fact, I would accept that the membership of those two boards should also be reflected in the overall policy boards. I would hope that the Minister would take that into account in his response. That is how we could achieve progress in this legislation.
Senator Lanigan asked whether it was-necessary to have this Bill or was it a good thing or a bad thing. There is no doubt, from all of us who have spoken to people involved in this area, but that there was a need to address the problems in CIE. There is no doubt about that. There is no doubt but that this Minister, in his Green Paper on public transport and with his approval a few days ago to the Dublin Transport Authority, has addressed himself, with a lot of credit, to these particular areas. I would like to commend him for that.
I think the Senator knows the rules of this House a lot better than I do, but he is drifting a bit.
No, I am not drifting. I am requesting that the Minister who has a commitment to the overall policy of the public transport — and his commitment has already been shown by way of legislation and documents published — would listen to what we are saying on this section and address himself, if not directly to the amendments, to the suggestions I have made which would achieve the goal which we all want. It would eliminate the triplication that Senator Lanigan, Senator Killilea and Senator Mahony have spelled out if there were three separate companies. There would be duplication and waste of valuable scarce resources. There would be unfair competition because of the differences in costs of providing rail or bus transport. A board who were responsible for bus transport only, could reach a decision in isolation which would create a further demand on local authorities which they are not geared to meet but that same board, if they were running the two companies, would not reach that kind of decision. The rail board would be capable of saying, "We can provide that service because we do not have to have competition in this particular instance". As Senator Lanigan said, if there was a match in Dublin two different boards could make a decision to provide competitive transport to transport people to it. That is not how one runs a public service. That is not how a public service should be run, with one public service competing with another.
It is important that a public service should compete with the private sector. I think they can do it well and have done it well. They have also provided a service where the private sector would not go because there is no profit in it. That has happened. It is for that very reason that there is a social content in all these boards, whatever number we finally agree on. I am putting it to the Minister, sincerely and as dispassionately as possible, that he can achieve what he wants by way of board membership which would control the particular companies, and can make a decision as to the number of companies.
When other Members speak in this particular context I suggest that they address themselves to this problem. Then, possibly, we might be able to make progress.
I was annoyed when the Minister intervened in this debate so quickly and so ferociously by way of a great personal attack on me and on my party.
He just asked what your policy was.
The Senator is the last man in this House who should talk about anybody knowing anything about policy. He got his teeth pulled out of the Fine Gael Party on numerous occasions.
I will tell you one thing. I have quite a number of teeth left.
Senator Killilea to speak, without interruption.
We know the Minister's policy from his history. Since he came in here today he has been praising himself for all he did for CIE. We know the price he got for theIrish Spruce last week. We know what he did to Irish Shipping. If I am correct, I know what the Labour Party are afraid of in this Bill. It is that the same thing might happen to some of those companies. I want to take Senator Ferris's point but before I take that point I want to ask the Minister a straight, honest and honourable question.
Tell us your policy.
I know why he did that. He was trying to weld you all together to put you against us. I want to refer to a letter which was sent to every Senator in this House and, I suppose, to every other public representative. It was sent on 30 April 1986 from the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union. In the first page there is a paragraph I want to read to this House because to me it is very important. It has not been answered and nobody on this side of the House seems to know what is going on. I would like if this matter could be cleared up for us. I quote:
We are opposed to the concept of splitting up the company. Here it is absurdly clear that any of the proposed three new companies which would be registered under the Companies Act can be liquidated.
We know that the Minister is renowned for his capabilities in such fields. The wording of the Bill conflicts with the promise — and this is what I want to emphasise — made by the Minister for Communications to an Irish Congress of Trade Unions' deputation at a meeting on 29 October 1985, and confirmed subsequently by letter dated 8 November 1985. I would like to hear the content of that letter. I think that is very important.
I want to follow through on Senator Ferris's point because I have already spoken on this. Senator Ferris, I am afraid would compromise himself out of a pit of snakes. I want to take his argument, separately from the matter of the fixing of the particular boards with the appropriate people who would fall into line — and no better man than Mr. "Fix It" himself sitting beside the Senator to set those up. The Senator would want to follow that argument through. I think the point has got to be made that if we take the All-Ireland Final and even if we do not care which counties are involved transport to the match from major towns in the counties concerned would be needed. We must follow the argument through because this is where it is important. The bus company and the rail company want to do business on the match weekend. They are running on a parallel road to Dublin. The senior board may decide that the rail company are providing the transport and that the bus company may not be involved. Who is going to compensate the bus company for the loss of revenue for that weekend?
Who compensates the private sector?
Nobody. If, consistently and persistently, the senior board state the rail or the bus company shall provide the transport, whichever one they select, and say to them: "you do that", or "you do this" the other company will not be allowed to provide transport if we follow through the argument of Senator Ferris who wants to set up two companies with the same people on their boards. If there is a bias in that company — and the Minister might not be able to help it — and they say: "Let rail do it," all this time the bus company would suffer a loss in revenue. Who compensates them? They have to get compensation because under this legislation they can be told not to become involved. One of them has to stay at home. It would be nonsensical to have the two of them travelling to Dublin from the same market place.
What is happening now?
We are talking about this Bill and the three companies. There is no reasoning to this point of view. Therefore, it shows the illogical proposal of having the rail and bus companies separated rurally. They should be complementing one another and be all thrown in as one major force to run an economic service to Dublin. The reason why the private companies are doing well is that one can travel from Dublin to Galway in a luxury coach for £7 on a daily or weekly ticket. Can anybody in this House, including the Minister, tell me the cost of travelling to Dublin by CIE on a weekly return ticket?
It is £7 on a day return on Thursday.
What about if you want to go on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday? I know how they operate. If you are in in the morning at 7.15 and one of the first 40 or 50 people at the rail line you will be lucky enough to get to Dublin for £5. But if you are 41st or 42nd you pay £21. People do not have to get up at an extraordinary hour if travelling by luxury coach because you telephone them the night before, book a seat and for Galway to Dublin or Athlone to Dublin. It is a provincial service and you know what you are paying and can secure a seat generally speaking, it is a "flea market" situation. If you are in time, good luck to you, and if not in time, hard luck to you. This is no service. Let CIE be a functional organisation where they say "We offer a service with certain extras in it for a certain price". Let them become competitive. Let them become competitive as a unit against private enterprise. I am sure they will be successful and we wish them luck. The reason why we have this Bill here today is that every day the number of private enterprises coming into this city are growing at a rapid pace. Let us ask why. Value for money is the reason. Nothing else.
I want to refer to the point made by Senator Lanigan concerning the allegations made about cowboy operators. I do not see anything cowboyish about them. The Minister brought in legislation last week and the first people to welcome that legislation were the express coach people to the city of Dublin. I have seen the articles in our local papers, that welcome it. Their services will now be under the guidance and, I hope, under the tight security of the Department of Transport. All the nonsense about the operators being cowboys should be stopped. They are all reasonable people trying to do business. One cannot blame them, but that does not mean that we cannot assist CIE to make them a very fine company too. That is what we should be doing.
Senator Ferris's argument goes way out because somebody has to make a decision as to who does that business at weekends. Otherwise we have duplication. Otherwise we are going to have two companies running two services to Dublin, with the total numbers not being utilised at all. It is nonsensical. If one follows it through, the day will come — may be a long time before Deputy Mitchell passes out of this world, to quote his own phrase — when some major decision will be made that the bus service is not going so well and that as the figures are beginning to show a loss, as was done in the old times, it should be cut out or liquidated. Then we will have problems. That can happen. We have listened to the Minister, Deputy Mitchell telling us about the wonderful job that he has done in CIE since he came to the Department and about the financial state that he has created, as if it were alive and going well. I do not deny that the Minister has done a little, but he should not let the cap fall down over his eyes. The Minister has done a lot of bad things to. Bombardier in Limerick is not successful. The Minister cannot wink out at that company from under his cap. The Minister should not stand up here and bestow laurels on himself.
We have seen his performance in Irish Shipping as well.
An Leas Chathaoirleach
Back to the Transport Bill, please.
It is a bad sign to see a person clapping himself on the back. The Minister should be careful. He is in a tight position here. He has got this situation slightly wrong and would be far better off giving his attention to it. I do not think he has followed it through. Senator Ferris has not followed his point through either. I believe that we cannot have those two companies leaving the same market place and serving the same destinations. If they are going to be viable they have to be competitive. If they are going to tackle the private enterprise people, who are competitve, they have to be even more competitive. Certainly, we are not going to have three of them viable doing all that.
I, personally, believe that the private buses will stay in operation unless the Minister does something, because they are offering a magnificent service. Senator Ferris asked: "What about the poor people if they had no CIE to travel on?" They would not be able to travel. If they are not old age pensioners they cannot travel by CIE unless they are up at 6 o'clock in the morning, standing outside the station for the bargain that Senator Higgins was talking about.
That is not true. I am reluctant to interrupt, but the private buses leave Galway at exactly the same time as the train, 8 o'clock in the morning. I get the train twice a week at 8 o'clock.
If Senator Higgins were in poor circumstances and did not have free travel on CIE——
I do not have free travel. I am not an old age pensioner yet.
What would the poor people do without CIE? The only people with whom they can afford to travel today are, in fact, the private luxury bus people with their express bus service because the amount of money it costs to travel from Galway to Dublin——
The private buses will not take people with free passes.
I know that, but I am talking about a poor person who has not a pass. The only people who have passes, as you know, are old age pensioners.
No, there are invalidity pensioners and others.
If you were a DPMA person who was on the bottom line, who had to come to Dublin tomorrow morning and had to pay for the ticket, who would you choose to travel with?
They can get a free travel pass from the health board.
Can they? It is a valid point. Going back to the point made by Senator Ferris, that if a person on DPMA had to travel to Dublin and did not have a facility from his health board, who would he travel with, I will guarantee this House today that he will go on the express private bus service. Why? Because CIE is too expensive. Secondly, what are we trying to do now? We are actually helping to make CIE a strong and viable company, which will have competition to keep them alive and keep them going well. CIE need both the buses and the rail to do that. That is the reason why I think that the point put by Senator Ferris, as a compromise, has not been followed through. It is very important that the end result has got to be taken with the beginning. If I could see viability coming from Senator Ferris's suggestion, I would go for his compromise, but I am afraid I do not. When it is followed through to the very end it does not have the intention that it had at the beginning. The intention at the beginning sounds fine, but when it is followed through it does not have the realism it should have. It does not have the factuality that is needed. That is most important at this stage before we go down a certain avenue. I do not think we could follow it because of that reason.
On a point of order, Fine Gael Senators have been here since 11.30 a.m. and no Fine Gael Senator has been called in this debate yet. It is now two hours and twenty minutes into the debate.
You will have a long day.
We might have a long day but I wonder what system is used.
I appreciate that but it is not a case of one party or another where I am concerned. There were not very many speakers since we commenced at 12 o'clock today. I should have given way to the Minister, rather than to any other Senator.
I am anxious that I answer the points being raised by Senators. There have been fairly long contributions by both Senator Killilea and Senator Lanigan, and also a constructive contribution by Senator Ferris.
What about Senator Ferris?
I did not mean to infer that the contributions by Senators Lanigan and Killilea were not constructive. I am appreciative of their interest in this Bill.
Senator Lanigan took exception to my first contribution. I am sorry if I vexed him, because I know Senator Lanigan is normally a very constructive and reasonable man, as is Senator Killilea but it is a little hard to take, in the light of this document, dated September 1982 to the then Fianna Fáil Government, where it is stated that the Minister for Transport was seeking the authority of the Government to prepare a plan for the creation of a separate Dublin bus company by 1 January 1984 at the latest, and the creation of a separate national railway company and a separate national bus company by 1 January 1985 at the latest. The then Minister for Transport was seeking the termination of road freight and sundries activities then owned by CIE by 1 January 1985 at the latest. That was their plan — total disestablishment of CIE — very strongly argued in this very large document from Deputy Wilson, the then Minister. It is only fair that I should point out that fact. In Senator Killilea's own speech——
On a point of order, we are talking about a Government document and one particular page of it and one particular sentence on that page but if we are to be fair I think that the Minister must start at page 1 and continue to the end to get the whole context of it. The Minister cannot leak part of the document without leaking it in full.
An t-Aire, without interruption.
I am giving the essence of what was proposed by the then Fianna Fáil Minister to his Government.
I also want to highlight the fact that at Second Stage Senator Killilea welcomed the Bill. At no point that I can recall did he refer to the two-company, three-company issue.
Not in my recollection but I stand to be corrected.
The Minister was not here for all of it.
It is right to put on record that Fianna Fáil were disestablishing CIE, breaking it up and closing the road freight. This Government said: "No, there are good reasons to retain CIE as a group for reasons of co-ordination."
Senator Lanigan mentioned that promotional opportunities were being reduced because people would be working in smaller companies. That is not so. I have specifically provided that promotions and transfers can take place within the group. Secondly, I have provided that there would be a common pension scheme for the group to underline the unity and cohesion of the group.
Some other points made by Senator Killilea seem to ignore some of the amendments that will be dealt with later by the Seanad, for example, the amendment about winding-up and competition. For instance, we say in the amendment with regard to competition:
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.
With regard to Senator Ferris, I feel very strongly that the company has to be structured into three companies. I am prepared to consider suggestions as to having a certain commonality of membership of the boards concerned. I would be prepared to consider something in that direction.
May I ask one further point?
I am deeply shocked to hear that it was the intention of the Fianna Fáil Party before they left office to disestablish CIE and to set up three separate transport companies in its place. That is a shock to me, given the attitude that the party is adopting in this Committee Stage debate. Senator Killilea was highly critical of the Labour Party and their performance in relation to this legislation. I can say two things there——
I was not critical.
——one, that the Labour Party are doing this business effectively on this legislation in consultation with the trade unions and in consultation with the Minister who is piloting the legislation through the House. Secondly, any deficiencies which Senator Killilea can see in the position of the Labour Party are at nought compared with the idea apparently put forward by their Minister, Deputy Wilson, in 1982 to totally destroy CIE. However, I would like to confirm what the Minister said about the very significant improvement in the performance of CIE since 1983. There is no doubt in anyone's mind who has looked at the experience within the company since then but that there have been major changes and improvements in productivity and that there has been a very substantial improvement in industrial relations, particularly in the Dublin area. There has been a very substantial improvement, too, in the company's ability to plan forward because of the new financial framework. I think the Minister is absolutely right in that. Credit is due to him for that. A great deal of credit for that improvement is due in no small way to the commitment of the unions to make the company work. They have shown that, over the period I referred to, by having a very low level of industrial disruption compared with past history. I have no doubt that the main interest of the trade union movement in relation to this Bill is to see to it that the company not just survive but develop and attract more and more of the business which is going to the private bus operators. The unions have an interest in that company. They want to see it develop but they have a right to express certain concerns about the measures proposed in the Bill. Where those reservations are real, then they must be taken account of by all of us.
The question I posed at the beginning as to why a divisional structure was not put in place has not been adequately answered. A divisional structure would serve the same purposes in relation to management efficiency, personnel relations and financial transparency as the three subsidiary company structure would serve. I do not understand why it is impossible to have a divisional structure in a relatively small company by international standards when it has been achieved successfully in many very large multinational corporations. However, we have gone beyond that in the debate. The Government are committed to a subsidiary company structure of some kind.
We are aware of course that the holding company board will have, by definition, a responsibility to co-ordinate the activities of the subsidiary companies. In the Bill we had two primary sets of concerns and as a result two primary sets of objectives. I would like to spell these out as carefully as possible. The first objective we had, during the Second Stage debate and in the discussions we have had with the Ministers, has been the security of the employment of the workforce who would be transferred from the statutory company, CIE, to the subsidiary companies set up under the Companies Acts. We wanted to ensure that the transfer from the holding company of people to the subsidiary companies would of itself lead to no diminution in the security of employment and conditions of service which they now have within the main board. As a result of our concern in this area, we suggested to the Minister a set of proposals which we asked him to consider for incorporation in the Bill. These proposals to a very considerable degree have been accepted by the Minister because he recognised the validity of the case we made and they have been put down in the form of amendments. The principal one is amendment No. 17 (7) which reads:
If any of the companies is wound up, the functions of the company shall be exercised by the Board, and the Board shall accept into its employment without interruption of service all officers and servants employed by the company in consequence of subsection (4)...
That is the subsection which tranfers the workers from the holding company to the subsidary company. That is the principal amendment which the Minister has accepted. This amendment secures the jobs and conditions of service of the workforce under the new system as opposed to the situation as it is now.
There are other amendments which I will not mention at this stage. They are concerned with the central first theme that we have had in our discussions which is to ensure that the security of employment of the workforce would not suffer any diminution as a result of the new arrangements. The second set of objectives we had is to——
The Senator is moving away from the amendments.
The second set of objectives in our discussions and in our amendments is to secure an efficient and integrated public transport service operated under the aegis of CIE. That is why we have made the suggestion for two companies — two companies would secure integration between rail and pro vincial bus services. It is also why we made the suggestion in our amendments Nos. 10 and 11, where we talk about seeing to it that the companies operate an integrated transport service.
We will get to that, Senator.
What I am saying is that amendment No. 1 in my name is part of this strategy of securing an effecient integrated public transport service which links with amendments Nos. 10 and 11. They must all be seen as a sign of our concern to try to get both an efficient system but also one which integrates the various services into one national system. No reasonable argument has been put forward as to why, in the case of the provincial rail and bus services, there should not be simply one company. The case has not been made as to why there should be more than one company if we are concerned with this notion of an integrated public transport system where rail and bus services are used to complement each other in a planned way throughout the country in a manner which is consistent with the financial framework within which they have to operate.
I would like to make, very briefly, a contribution to the debate on this amendment. I am disappointed that the amendment is not drafted the other way, that instead of having three companies, we decide to have four companies. One important portion of the CIE framework has been totally ignored in this debate. It is a section which has been completely and wrongly downgraded over the years. It is the intention that the road freight section should be incorporated into the rail section. What is wrong with the road freight section is that it was always considered to be an adjunct to the railway operation rather than an independent operation in its own right. It is considered always to be an addendum to the operation of the rail freight service rather than competing with the ever increasing number of road freight operators. The construction proposed by the Minister provides for the re-enforcing of the role for the road freight section. The road freight section consigned to that role is inevitably doomed. It cannot continue to provide a service which consists primarily of — or which at least a significant proportion of its service is bringing goods to and from the railheads. That is an incorrect assessment of what the proper position and role for the road freight section. I would have been much happier if there were four companies instead of three, one to deal with road freight, the others dealing with rail, bus and the Dublin city services.
There is one reason I would like to put forward which has not been mentioned here, as a reason for changes being made. Some people seem to think there should be no changes. It is quite obvious that each of the political parties have different policy viewpoints on CIE. It is obvious that in so far as Fianna Fáil have a policy, their policy would be to break up CIE and to develop the functions on to totally separate independent companies. That would appear to be the latest policy they expressed as indicated by the Minister. It would appear that the Fine Gael policy——
I do not think the Minister is the one to tell Senator O'Leary what Fianna Fáil policy is.
If Senator Killilea will not tell us what it is, we will have to depend on the Minister. If Senators Killilea or Honan wish to tell us what the policy is we will cancel what we have said, say, "yes, they have a new policy". In the absence of any statement of policy in spite of repeated invitations expressed forcibly from this side of the House we have not been told that there is any different policy. We can assume that that policy is at least, if not the present policy, the last policy they had on the matter. The Bill probably represents a compromise between the Fine Gael Party policy and the Labour Party policy. The Fine Gael Party would have been for a greater degree of devolved power and the Labour Party would have been for less.
Some change in CIE is necessary because of the dynamic of change. Change in itself in large organisations which have got into ruts is a good thing. As Members of the House will know that change in itself was developed by the Chinese communists into a political philosophy of its own. The dynamic of change has, in fact, a function to play. I have seen very many examples in business where people in large organisations centralise operations for a few years, then decentralise them and then centralise them again. Very often people may also say why change every few years. In the process of changing, a dynamic is created which is for benefit to the organisation. Prior to this Government and the Minister for Communications coming on the scene — I do not wish to give him all the credit — CIE were in a position where no change had taken place in the organisation over a long period of time. As a result the company were going steadily downhill.
In my view, it is not necessary that each and every change should be perfect. The fact that change takes place creates within that organisation a new awareness and a sense of achievement which is very important. I am not worried whether the structure is two, three, four, five or six different companies so long as it remotivates the people who work in CIE because it is a most difficult task, to be working in a national company, who are providing a social service which cannot be valued and as a result depending on a substantial subvention from the State demotivates the members of that organisation in a very serious way. This demotivation is what must be tackled periodically by Ministers and by those in authority in organisations such as CIE. It is because of the dynamic of change that changes are necessary.
I consider the proposal put forward in the Bill as a good one, leaving aside the question I raised about road freight for a moment. The idea that rail and bus are providing similar services is too narrow a viewpoint. The rail service does and always will provide a substantial freight element which is almost totally lacking from the bus section. To consider rail as being only a passenger service in function, is not to give its proper importance. Therefore, to think that one can automatically conclude that the bus and rail services are providing the same service along different highways to the same parts of the country is to misunderstand the real function of the bus and rail service. Overwhelmingly, the bus service provides and continues to provide a passenger service. The rail service must go far beyond that and should be encouraged to do so.
In addition, the rail and bus services should be encouraged to be in competition with each other. I do not see anything wrong with two State companies being in competition with each other. It is ludicrous to think just because a company is a State company that it cannot go into competition with another company which also might happen to be a State company. From time to time they should compete for passengers. It is only by the people exercising the choices which competition provides, that those in authority within the areas of organisations which are the subject of those choices can gauge how they are responding to the needs of society. To give the same example as was given by a number of Members on the other side, if one is talking about the choices which are being presented in the event of an All-Ireland final with people travelling from Kilkenny and as to whether they should travel by rail or by road. I do not see anything wrong with giving people the choice. I do not see anything wrong with both services being run by the State, through State sponsored bodies of one kind or another. If on one occasion one of them loses money because they are not providing the service that is a signal to that organisation that it has to get its act together so that a better service would be provided the next time Kilkenny are playing in an All-Ireland final. We must not be afraid of the word "competition". We must not automatically assume that the word "competition" has no part to play in State organisations. It has a part to play and we should encourage that kind of thinking within State organisations.
Having said that, I am delighted we are discussing this amendment in such depth. The Seanad, and indeed both Houses of the Oireachtas, are places in which to discuss these matters and to come to reasoned and sensible conclusions — compromise where possible — and if not, the inevitable conflict of votes must take place. I would hope that this is not a one-off exercise but that we can look forward to a similar attitude of mind and an independence of mind when it comes to other issues. I must recognise that on the only occasion that I had to put that to the test, Senator O'Mahony certainly was not found wanting in that regard. Other people were. More independence of thought within the Houses of the Oireachtas is a good thing in the long run and something which Governments even though they are uncomfortable about it, should encourage.
For all those reasons I support the Minister's proposal. However, I am disappointed that the road freight section is being consigned to a position where it has become a mere service adjunct to the rail network rather than a service seeking to enter into competition with the other road freight operators in the country which would be a healthy way in which to revive interest and support for that lagging arm of the CIE organisation
If a traveller from rural Ireland were listening to this debate, and it is about one company outside Dublin or two, they would come to the conclusion that it would not matter very much provided they could travel at the lowest possible fare. It is not as simple as that. There are more subtleties to it than tweedledum, or tweddledee.
When we in the Labour Party are advocating one company outside Dublin, an integrated rail and road system, we are not indulging in tweedledum or tweed-ledee politics. We are trying to assist this nation and its people in the matter of having a good transport system. It is only right and proper that I should compliment the Minister on what he has been doing in the past two or three years in this arena by way of introducing efficiency measures. This Bill, broadly speaking, is welcome — even though we have reservations as an ongoing process adding to and supplementing what he has been doing for the last two or three years in CIE. Having said that, by way of approval I should go on to say that it was not too difficult because the situation was so bad that the Minister could not have failed even without the knowledge of efficiency measures, job evaluation and good management, which also means, that there is probably room for improvement yet.
This Bill must be taken as an experiment. It is not only going to be subject to change after the passage of some years but it is subject to change even now. The Minister seems to be satisfied when he insists that two companies outside Dublin — which are called three if one is outside Dublin because of the separateness of the identities of rail and road outside Dublin — will lead to efficiency. It depends what you mean by that. I do not know any canon law in economics that points to separateness of units of production, distribution or services which indicates clearly that the separateness of the identities leads to efficiency.
On the other hand people ask, what is efficiency? Some people say that efficiency is measured by profitability. That is rubbish. That is not the only measure of efficiency. It cannot be the measure of efficiency in an arena where one requires, and the people and the labour movement insist on, social service. Even though one is not making a profit it can be efficient, and probably is in many instances. Efficiency should not be measured by profitability first. Efficiency is measured by good industrial relations and good management which involves them in their relationship with their workers. Efficiency should be measured by the consensus between worker and management as to a job being done in the shortest possible time and, if it is production of some commodity, the quality not suffering thereby. In this case it is a service.
Nobody knows better than workers when a service is efficient; from time to time, they even know better than management. The distance that workers are from management in that context means that management are not getting the brain power of the worker applied if there is a remoteness. This has already been referred to. They are not getting the benefit of the workers' brains. I know from 35 years experience as a trade unionist, as a work study engineer involved in the building industry, and construction industry, the engineering industry, the ship repairing and the clothing and textile industries that, nobody can tell a worker about the quickest and best way to do anything at the work bench, on the road or anywhere. If management lose contact with the worker, they have lost the contribution in that manner.
Motivation with workers is most important in the context of good management and efficiency. That is what the Bill strives after. That is why I am complimenting the Minister, in broad terms, on the provisions of the Bill. I am still wrestling with the ideas put forward in trying to explain to us why he insists on two companies outside Dublin rather than one. It is not clear to me. If my argument is based soundly, and if three are as good as two, and two are as good as three, why does the Minister not adopt the attitude of saying let us have two companies rather than three, that is, one outside Dublin? The lay person outside would say: "It is a good idea to have rail and road integrated. "Notwithstanding what Senator O'Leary has said about freight from my experience, having sat on the Northern Ireland railway tribunals and having looked after the County Donegal railways in my time and knowing something about integrated rail and road services, I can say that it is potentially as efficient to have an integrated rail and road service outside Dublin as it is to have two separate companies.
It has been said by somebody that the operations must be transparent. We want to see who is losing money and who is making money. What is the point of seeing who is making money and who is losing money? I can understand the point of watching who is efficient and who is inefficient. The profitability yardstick again is being used to determine this. If company A loses money and company B is making money, it is assumed that company B is more efficient than company A. It is assumed that company A is inefficient because they do not make money and company B is more efficient because they make money. It must be said that one cannot have efficiency without making profit, especially in the field we are talking about, the necessity of providing a social service. Efficiency depends on good management and the relationship with the worker getting the proper motivation and getting the contribution that only a worker can make in that context. That is efficiency. Seeing who is making money or losing money is not a sound basis on which to endeavour to establish, through legislation, the three companies complex. That could have been done with one company and there could be two divisions. It is only an accountancy problem.
The question of competition then comes into it. Of course there can be competition. Nobody has suggested for one moment that because one company governs an integrated rail and road system, there cannot be competition. Why not? That is what efficiency means. If competition is a contributory factor towards making anything competitive and, therefore, efficient, there is nothing wrong with that. I say to Senator O'Leary that there is nothing inherently wrong with competition. What the workers would be worried about — and what we would be worried about — is that competition would produce a net result of cutting back, cutting down and eliminating at some stage the size of the company or the company that was not making money. It could be claimed that because it is not making money and is a drain on the State it should be shut down.
I am one of the people from the North who called for the nationalisation of the old railway system between the two countries for two reasons. First, the people required a social service. It was not being provided very efficiently. That was done many years ago. Second, it would add to the co-operative element that was required between North and South. We were involved collectively in the trade union and labour movement. Then to our dismay we found that not only did they cut back but they eliminated parts of the railway system from Derry to Dublin. They did not eliminate the Derry to Belfast line. They were going to but were warned that they should not do it. One has to balance between what the people require and efficiency and profitability, which is not a very useful yardstick when you look at it.
The second argument put forward by the Minister in defence of the three companies is that of the remoteness of management from the workers. That is a sound basis for any argument. If the remoteness is to be put out of the way and the closeness of management and workers brought together, that is a good thing. What he has failed to do is relate that to the idea that the remoteness would disappear just because there are two separate companies. How does the remoteness disappear just because there are two companies rather than one? Surely the closeness of management to the workers, with all the contributions that workers can make is brought about by intelligent management, day-to-day decisions, no procrastination, trying to understand the motivation of the labour force, and moving all the time in a positive direction rather than negative, and good management.
Why can that not be done in one company outside as well as two companies outside Dublin? I cannot see the strong argument that I am looking for in support of three companies, that is two outside Dublin. I keep repeating that. I cannot see it, but I heard the Minister say today that he was taken with Senator Ferris's suggestion, and thinking about it positively, about the same personnel occupying two company board seats. I would like the Minister to repeat that for us today, because that might be the basis on which we would have a look again at our amendment to see if possibly we could accept that situation, because the unnecessary and unwanted competition that might bring about bad results might be resolved in that manner. I thought I heard him say that but I would like him to say it again clearly for us, that he would have second thoughts about that.
We are not using this disagreement between us as a political football. We are trying to be helpful in the interest of a good transport system for the people, and in the interest of the consumers' social needs and so on.
I have been listening here for quite some time to the debate on this amendment. My concern about the stance of the principal party opposite is of course, greatly increased this week. I begin to wonder about the state of mind of the party opposite. They are developing a certain restlessness, a certain total lack of conformity in relation to a series of matters which just do not encompass this amendment. I had the extraordinary experience in the last 48 hours of watching their total change of mind in relation to the building of a road near St. Patrick's Cathedral. They developed suddenly a conscience about the architecture and the history of the city of Dublin which had never been part of their concern previously. Here we have relating to the McKinsey report back in 1981.
I would not mind the conversion. I welcome their conversion on Monday night last. It they began to explain themselves in any fashion that would lead you to believe that they had given the matter any great thought, then one's perspective would be quite different.
The thoughts that come out of my mind in relation to this matter are how they can possibly deal with the questions that have been posed by the Minister in relation to the McKinsey report. They have not said that they, as a party in Government in 1981 and 1982, were not committed to the total disestablishment of CIE. They do not seem to treat that statement.
We are discussing the Committee Stage of a 1986 Bill introduced by Deputy Mitchell, Minister for Communications.
They do no concern themselves with the fact that not only was this the position taken by the party in office in the 1981-82 period and by Deputy John Wilson, the Minister at the time, but it was equally part and parcel of the development——
We would like to hear the Senator's thoughts on the Bill.
I presume I have floor and I am entitled to speak without the constant barrage coming from Senator Lanigan across the floor. It is not simply a matter of commitment in a general way in relation to transport we are talking about. We are talking about the commitment of the party opposite to the McKinsey report, which is very much embodied in the drafting of this legislation with one major difference, which the Minister and the Government sought to incorporate into this Bill by way of the holding company and the co-ordination that that holding company would give towards retaining many of the features of CIE as we have known them through the years, and also giving the new companies that are to be set up under this Bill, the possibility of identifying new growth areas individually. The Minister mentioned earlier the kind of growth areas that could be seen in the development of the provincial bus company in relation to dealing with much of the slack, very little competition that CIE have afforded the private bus companies throughout this State in recent times, and of course, they could be much more alert to this in the future.
I believe we are going through a period in which many of the large statutory bodies are being looked at as being too large, maybe requiring a more modern and a more dynamic approach. We have seen, in the course of the last year, this House debating the establishment of a new local authority structure. The trend in that area has been, of course, to reduce the scale of our local authority system, the Dublin area being changed from two major local authorities to four.
We have in this area a work force of the order of 20,000 people. I can understand what the Minister says in relation to the remoteness that must give the company in handling a workforce of that scale. There is a lot to be said in the creation of a new environment within the company. Why not, if we are establishing two companies, go ahead and establish the three and allow those three to have a much greater chance of identifying the role they play within the board structure of CIE and their holding company rather than continue for the vast majority of the people who will come across CIE, the very same structures and the very same type of organisation at local level that we have known to date?
We would, by not accepting the force of argument there is in the direction of three companies, be allowing most of this State to continue as if the state of organisation in CIE were, at this point in time, perfectly satisfactory and that there was no need for change. The need for separation of services is not simply one of making the Dublin bus system separate from the rest. That argument should apply to the rest of the country and attempt, in this new reorganisation of CIE, to bring the management and staff within the companies, each to identify with a new company, to open up not just competition between themselves but competition with other providers of services in the country resulting hopefully in not just a series of annual returns of CIE, which have been encouraging in recent years — the Minister gave them a much more ordered approach to the finances that would be available to them — but also an opportunity to identify and to develop these companies individually, in the same way that we have managed in the course of the last couple of years to deal with the first step in reorganising CIE's structure with the CIE hotel group, showing the first signs of successful out-turn on their financial operation running as a separate entity.
I hope that we will be supporting the Minister in this area as the amendment does not have the guts of a decision that goes far enough in order to grasp at the problems CIE have. If we do not take on the full range of what is incorporated in the McKinsey report, although with one major improvement the Government have seen to by way of the holding company, we will not grasp the serious difficulties CIE have. Let us not be worried about white lines, stations and provincial towns around the country. Those kinds of organisational difficulties can be overcome.
I want to ask the Minister a question. He quoted today from a Government memorandum concerning supposed legislation that was on the agenda for the previous Government. It is only appropriate that that document now be made available in the Library so that all Senators may read it or failing that the statement should be withdrawn. I do not think it is quite fair that the interpretation of a Government memorandum should be left to the interpretation of one person. It is appropriate now that that document be made public by way of being placed in the Library.
I am very sorry if Senator Killilea is embarrassed by the revelation of the document. I thought it was necessary in this case to highlight what I consider to be the insincerity of the Fianna Fáil stand in this House today.
On a point of order, I do not think that answers my question. My question is quite relevant and quite specific. There is a former Government memorandum being selectively interpreted by the Minister here today. We have a right as individual elected Senators in this House, if he can interpret it and produce it here in this House, to have it made available to us in the Library. I am asking the Minister if he will make the document available in the Library.
If the Minister quotes from a document, that document must be made available but so far as I know he did not quote from it.
I was not here at the time.
I quoted from a summary of the document on the decision sought by the then Minister for Transport. I challenge Senator Killilea to get Deputy Wilson to deny the accuracy in detail of what I quoted.
That is not relevant to the question I have asked. The Cathaoirleach made a ruling that if the Minister, quotes from a document——
If the Minister quotes from a document he should make it available.
If he does not make it available where do we stand?
If he quoted from the document he should make it available.
Will the Minister make the document available? After all, it was a Government memorandum. He is selective in that he read two paragraphs from it. He illustrated to us that it was a huge document of many pages. We would like to see the remaining pages of that document.
The Senator is only entitled to see the portion the Minister quoted from.
Is it normal standard for a Minister to quote a memorandum circulated to a previous Government or indeed any Government publicly in the House?
Perhaps not. I am only concerned with this case.
This case has highlighted this particular aspect of it. The Government memorandum has been produced here. It has been shown to us here in this House as though it were a document of a most sincere content. It has been used here today for political purposes and one section of it has been read out by the Minister. I ask the Minister either to put up or shut up on this matter, either to make this complete document available in the Library or else not to refer to it in this House anymore. Individual interpretations by any Minister, from any political party are not relevant to the facts we are talking about.
Senator Michael D. Higgins.
It is not enough that we just leave it there. The question has been asked.
I can go no further.
The document has to be produced to the House.
I do not know if the Senator was here at the time, I was not here. I have that disadvantage.
I was here. The Minister quoted from the document.
If the Minister quoted from it he is entitled to produce what he quoted.
He is not entitled to. He has to.
He quoted from the document.
Can we have the document?
Will the Chair ask the Minister to produce it for us?
I am informing the Minister of——
I will consider the request. I would have to take advice on whether I should produce it and perhaps consult Deputy Wilson. Suffice to say that I quoted from the summary of the memorandum inaccurately that part of the decision sought which deals with the breaking up of this company. I want to repeat that the proposal was to disestablish CIE completely, to have a separate Dublin bus company, a separate provincial bus company, separate railway company and to close down road freight completely. I want to know from Senator Killilea whether he denies that.
How can I either deny or agree with what the Minister is saying because he is talking about one paragraph in a document which, in my opinion, was practically an inch thick and which I estimate to be about 100 pages. One can pick from any document any selective paragraph and give it one's personal interpretation but that is not adequate. It is a horrendous decision of the Minister to walk in here today and claim now, as he is claiming, that he has to seek legal advice. Did he seek legal advice when he walked in here today?
He did not say that.
He is saying now that he wants to seek advice. He is seeking advice after the act. I do not think we should go any further here until we allow the Minister the opportunity to get advice to see if he is going to circulate this document. If he is not going to circulate it I will ask the House to have him withdraw that statement.
Will the Senator resume his seat please?
I am asking the House to adjourn to give the Minister the appropriate time to produce the evidence.
Will the Senator resume his seat? I have asked the Minister to produce a copy of what he quoted from the document. I was not here at the time so I am not too clear on what he quoted. If the Minister quoted then he must produce the document. The Minister has said he will look into that.
On a point of order, I propose that we adjourn the House until such time as the Minister produces the document or otherwise. I do not think the debate can continue until we see this document.
I would like to summarise because at this stage we have gone through many of the different arguments in favour of the amendment and the response to it. I very much support those who say that what we all want is the best possible Bill, as it will govern public transport, to come out of our discussion. In that sense I can accept the contributions which have been made either in this discussion or at different stages on different sides of the House.
I want to argue, however, slightly at variance with some of the contributions that have been made by some of my colleagues in the House in relation to the desirable effects of competitiveness on the affairs of CIE, which are suggested might ensue, following the company having been divided into three companies. I was interested in the two different versions of McKinsey between 1971 and 1982. The second McKinsey report came before the drafting of this document which occasioned some discussion a few minutes ago. In the 11 years between 1971 and 1982 the change in McKinsey's thinking was very significant. In 1971 they were arguing that the loss of integration, which presumably they felt capable of defining, in the early seventies would be a loss from the break up of CIE into several different companies.
They equally were able to address themselves to the question of diffusion, the effect it would have and the lack of economic yield from the duplicating of certain services and facilities in relation to a number of areas including personnel, computing, work shops and so on. In 1982, however, when the commissioning masters changed a difference in emphasis could be detected but the variation and the thinking was never really explained.
Very briefly in favour of this amendment in the name of Senator O'Mahony I would like to just develop what I think happened between 1971 and 1982. What happened was external to the consultants and external indeed to CIE to some extent. An atmosphere grew up in the country which was decidedly anti public service and which was decidedly anti semi-State and it argued in a rather vulgar way for accrued profitability as measured by commercial performance.
When you try to look at the concept of transparency and its origins you will find the concept of transparency is lurking in there somewhere within this as a kind of methodological aid towards achieving and seeing commerical profitability. All of us know, in relation to transport, that since the State was founded, all of the transport Bills that have come before this House and the other House have always, even if it was not believed, paid lip service to the social goals of transport. I spoke about this on Second Stage and I will not stray from appropriate Committee Stage discussion. I referred to the fact that there was a constituency that might not be a voting constituency but one that was non-car owning and that you could see the shift in different country's transport policies as they move from catering for people who are non-car owning to people who are predominantly car owning and the implications that will have.
We have to be careful in this regard even if we accept the best intentions of the Minister. I know there are many people who feel that the Minister cannot be replaced, that a better person for the job would never be found. There are other people who feel that this could take place. Be that as it may it is very unlikely that he will be the Minister in charge of the operations of transport for ever. I have to address myself to the circumstances in which, externally, an atmosphere will develop in which people will be anti-public transport.
I see it happening already. There are Senators who are not present in this House. I notice that the new grouping from the Progressive Democrats who are comprehensively against public subventions of State and semi-State bodies have not come into the House to argue their case today. The fact is that we live in an atmosphere in which people more and more are really going in two directions. People are complaining about high levels of taxation, about Government expenditure and certainly on the case of those who have and those who are in a position to pay tax is being expressed increasingly. It is being manipulated by political groupings who are offering the public the concession of cutting back on public expenditure, be it in relation to health, to transport or to any other area.
We have to consider therefore that if you believe in public transport and in the delivery of an adequate range of public transport in a major urban area such as Dublin and then in the rural areas through bus and rail, what company structure can best stand against a changed atmosphere in which people want transparency? Why do people want transparency? I have listened with great care to the speeches that have been made developing this concept. I hear people saying, for example, that transparency will enable the employees in a company to be motivated by profitability levels, that it will enable people to know where achievements have been made and so on. What you are really saying, when you translate this one way, is that when you take the drag off in many ways, for example, the burden of rail away from provisional buses, perhaps the buses will spring into profitability and this will easily be seen.
That is one translation. The other translation is that you simply want to know how performance is being measured against stated goals, but you can do that within the existing structure of CIE without any reorganisation into a corporate structure altogether. To go back and follow the first translation a little further down the line I see that in an atmosphere so hostile as we are in now in relation to public expenditure that to separate out the rural rail services and the freight and passenger services would be to leave them at an extraordinary and unnecessary level of frailty in relation to future survival.
At this stage I want to say a couple of other things in relation to the bus side of the operation. Let us say that you move away from an integrated bus and rail service in provincial areas. What will you then have? The provincial bus can choose indeed to go into competition with private buses but now we have encountered a problem here. Many private buses, let us be clear about this, are operating outside of both the spirit and the detail of the Transport Acts in this country. Equally, they are motivated entirely by returning a profit. I listened to my colleague from Galway talking about how they provide that service but I think that even he would agree that they provide a service in areas that will return profit without having to carry the obligation of providing a general service to other less densely populated areas.
Are the buses to enter into competition with an entity that does not have the same purpose as the original purposes for which we established a provincial bus or is it that the goals of the provincial bus service have been changed? I believe we are coming closer and closer to saying that we are really speaking about the single criteria, the primary criteria, in relation to provincial transport being a matter of profitability. You turn it around the other way and suppose that even in the spirit of the Transport Bill we want, over and above everything else, to be efficient, goal oriented and profitable in as much as is possible but that at the same time the ultimate purpose of transport legislation is to provide things which are both profitable and also things that are necessary. Every Minister who has ever presided over this area has had to address the fact of what is necessary but not profitable. If that is the case you have to turn around again and ask if it has any logic at all to be setting the two instruments by which you are delivering these services into competition with each other or having the competition of what was CIE bus now being defined in terms of its market relationship to private buses.
I have heard the argument which has singularly unimpressed me that there are rail people and bus people. This is as meaningless as to say that there are people who are ice cream people and lollypop people in a sweet shop. I do not accept it because what you can have within CIE — I have been a defender of them and their consumer services — is a wide range of management expertise some of which is delivered into specialisms.
Can the Senator give me a moment? The Minister wants to make an announcement.
In deference to your ruling, for the information of Senator Killilea and the House, I will make available the relevant extract from the memorandum I quoted from.
We are only getting an extract from it.
That is all.
Were those proposals accepted by Government?
They were circulated by the then Minister in that Department.
Anybody can send a memorandum to Government. Were they accepted by the Government of the day? It is a very important question.
They were accepted by the Minister of the day.
I have no control over that.
We have a Minister coming in here plucking from the depths, trying to get a bit of evidence to substantiate his own argument. He uses a Government memorandum which was not even discussed probably at Government so far as we are concerned.
I cannot do any thing about it.
He is talking absolute tripe and nonsense.
On a point of order, this is not acceptable. The Minister is quoting selectively from a Government document which is not available to us. What is the situation regarding Government documents? Can Government documents be produced to the House?
That is a matter for whoever uses them.
Can a Government memorandum be produced in this House?
I have not the experience of serving in a Government, so I do not know. What I do know is that if the Minister quoted from a document he has to produce it and he is prepared to do that.
On a point of order, he has not said he will produce it. He said he will produce the extract that he quoted. He has not said he will produce——
The relevant extracts.
The rule of this House has always been that if you quote from a document the document has to be produced. Otherwise, anyone can come into this House and produce any sort of gibberish and say it is from a document. There is no way that we can accept that references made by the Minister here are from a document unless we can see the Government memorandum. If what he has done here today is going to be the norm every Government memorandum that has ever been produced will be produced in this House.
I have to accept it from the Minister that he is producing what he said from the document.
We will not accept that. He is only producing an extract. He is running away from the Bill that he produced. He is trying to put up a smoke-screen here about something that happened in the past which has no relevance at this stage. He has not answered one question that he has been asked here today. He runs away and hides behind something that happened in 1981. We are not denying that a memorandum was produced to his Department.
He said our Government "agreed"— that was the word he used.
I did not.
If the Minister wants to produce the full document, that is all right, but the only thing I am asking him to produce is what he said from the document.
I am sorry for this row. I was so taken aback by what Senator Killilea said this morning and it was so much in conflict with my recollection of what was Fianna Fáil policy when they were in Government that I sent for the particular document to clarify my recollection and, having that document, I quoted from it. Perhaps I should not have done so. I am prepared to provide, under your ruling, the relevant extract from the document. The status of that document was that it was decided on by the Minister for Transport and was circulated to other Ministers. At that stage the Government changed, while that was still in process.
That meets my requirements.
On a further point of information, the Minister said it was Fianna Fáil policy. He contradicts himself because he said a while ago that it was circulated to the Departments. It was not passed by a Fianna Fáil Government, so it could not be Fianna Fáil policy. What he is saying here today is rubbish. He is trying to get away from an issue on which he finds himself in a knot within his own Government.
The Senator will have to finish.
I will be very brief because I can appreciate people feeling strongly about different issues. There are lessons to be drawn from it which I would not dream of suggesting. People who want to avoid wasteful competition between the two sides of what is currently CIE provincial services, bus and rail, are very anxious that as far as possible there would be an integrated delivery of services. On Second Stage the words "integrated transport policy" seemed to present some problem as being something that could not be easily defined. What it means essentially is this, and this is the nub of the matter because it is now arising every day: if you are talking about provincial bus services, if you say that they will be provided where the market will bear the fare then you end up providing them in something that is quite close to the competitive model of the market place of the private bus operators. If, however, you accept that in a large local authority development, people are earning low incomes and you have some people who have no cars and a number of children who want to travel to different areas, you are accepting a different criterion for putting a bus service there.
I believe that what you need in relation to the provision of transport services in provincial and rural areas is an appropriate mix of rail and bus services or else will end up allowing both to be seen to compete. First, there is the bus in the context which is not necessarily the one that is very much in the public interest. In the overall sense it might be politically attractive; it might be attractive to the public of the day who do not want any subsidy to that form of transport. Equally, the rail operation is very much exposed. There is a case to be made for the two fulfilling goals which go beyond the marketplace in a complementary fashion. I equally think, in order to avoid waste — and I now take up the McKinsey report, version 1971 — that instead of supplying both services in a dual fashion that you should be able to draw on the services that McKinsey mentioned in 1971, common computer facilities, common projections, common research and servicing and so forth.
There is the third point in relation to the overall social purposes. I favour, not only the integration of the two sides of the CIE services in relation to provincial and rural transport services but also a far greater transport integration between these and local authorities. There is an extraordinary situation at the present time in which the local authorities perceive themselves as having a very diminished role in relation to transport services while CIE, on the other hand, feel they have to provide, let us say, a simple thing like a bus shelter where the market warrants it. Thus, to take my example to its absolute end, people have been writing about transport. We need shelter at bus stops where there are younger people using the buses who are not necessarily the people contributing most towards the costs in a market sense. There is a need for that kind of integration in relation to local authorities and transport facilities. It is something that I have long felt has been missing in relation to the delivery of these services. If you have transparency in both operations you will have easily perceived goals which will serve as a motivational impetus for workers and management alike. This is rather like the case of the technique taking over from the purpose. All of these aims can be achieved, once we have solved the question of how we meet our purposes in relation to transport.
A number of suggestions have been made in the course of this morning. I think the Minister is correct in regarding them as constructive, for example, if there are mechanisms by which you can stop one operation from being in total conflict with another. I am not attracted by the division of these two companies. My reasons are political ones and we are all political people. I see easily a situation arising in the future — and we are very far down that road at the present time — in which people are seeking to milk a philosophy of selfishness and a philosophy of the private, a philosophy that is anti-social, that does not care, that is arguing that we want to spend less, we want to see less transferred to subsidising public transport.
I referred on Second Stage to an atmosphere that saw the railways close down on the promise of replacement bus services in County Clare. The effect of it was that older people who used to travel to the marketplaces of Ennis and so on now stayed at home. A number of people who found it easy to participate in life found it suddenly much more difficult because the replacement bus services were very far from where they lived. Now we would have a division because the bus would not be there to provide a replacement for rail because the bus would be competing with the private bus company.
Perhaps it is a concession to those of us who believe in certain philosophies in this country in relation to transferring public expenditure but there is now a gathering momentum to that kind of shabby, miserable, insular thinking that goes away back beyond public transport. We have the kind of people who would argue that you should not provide electricity light, water and so on without making people pay for it. That thinking is abroad in this country and it is that that would slash rail. The interesting side about it is that the people who are talking about cuts in the public realm are among the most cowardly people in political life because they keep saying this so as to whet the appetite of what they see as a greedy electorate but they never specify where the cuts will be made so as to avoid any political accountability for what they are saying. That defines them as the most yellow-bellied political cowards that I have ever encountered in politics.
In relation to all of these issues it is because I do not accept the argument for transparency, which is a confusion of technical questions of management with the basic purposes of transport, and because I believe that some of the arguments put forward by McKinsey in 1971 were argued with more cogency than the later arguments of 1982 and because I believe that the case has been made well by Senator O'Mahony and others that it is when we have a complementarity and an integrated transport service delivered and when we are seen to meet social demands both now and in the future, that the most secure way of developing the transport facilities outside Dublin is not by seeing the two wings of what is now CIE set into competition with each other with different philosophies. I would urge the Minister to respond generously if he can to the arguments put forward. There have been arguments aimed at integration, aimed at eliminating wasteful competition, aimed at meeting what are the needs of workers — and to that he has made a considerable response already — to meeting the needs of consumers and also the needs of taxpayers who want to see an adequate service not only for those who can pay for it but for those who are entitled to participate in the life of the nation and to have a transport system that meets their demands.
Having listened to part of what Senator Michael D. Higgins said I find it offensive both politically and personally to have to sit in this House and listen to such diatribe from someone that I reckoned before was a colleague. To call people who have just been formed into a party in the last six months yellow bellied political cowards, is an insult to this House and an insult to the people of Ireland.
I referred to all those who want to cut public expenditure.
It is an insult to the individual——
Will the Senator get back to the Bill? I do not think Senator Michael D. Higgins made reference to any political party; he did not name anyone.
He made reference to the West Clare Railway.
I did not. On a point of order, if Senator Conway wanted to quote from my speech he should have come in and listened to it. I did not make reference to the West Clare Railway but what I did make reference to was the new, emerging group of people who are in favour of cutting public expenditure without specifying where they will make the cuts.
He made reference to the rail system in County Clare and in that he was referring to the West Clare Railway.
I was not.
I travelled on the West Clare Railway. It would take approximately five hours to get from Kilrush to Ennis using that service. There were many people on that line who were actually standing outside the railway stations waiting for people to come because they could not travel to Ennis to the fairs on the West Clare railway because it would take too long. To say that this organisation to which I belong is anti-social is totally wrong.
That is not the rumour that is out.
Do not mind rumours. The question before us is whether you have two or three companies. From an economic and management point of view and a moderate point of view if you want to control the situation in transport in Ireland I believe that if you must have the units in which to explore that possibility, you should have them. There are three companies, Dublin Bus, Irish Rail and Irish Bus. I see that as a perfectly good way of controlling the transport system in Ireland. It is a good way of seeing where losses are being made and where you are doing well. I can see no reason for not accepting that. I deplore Senator Higgins's remarks.
I think the onus is on people who believe in cuts in public expenditure to say where they will make the cuts. I was not referring only to Senator Conway or his grouping, I was being polite in not mentioning that party. There are several other people who believe the same thing.
Obviously the Senator is going to make politics out of it.
I am being very honest about it. Where are you going to make the cuts?
I think if some of the discussion could take place outside of this Chamber it would be more appropriate. It is not relevant to the Bill.
It seems that the Minister has far better liaison with the PDs than he has with the Labour Party.
To sum up that comment I suppose you never know who your friends are these days. I refer to the section to which there is an amendment down. I made a suggestion to the Minister some time ago in connection with the similarity of boards to run Irish Rail and Irish Bus. The Minister said that he found it interesting and that he would look at it. Could I suggest that in order to try to progress on this item, the Minister should be as specific as possible and if possible also, to come forward with his amendment at this stage regarding what I suggested. It can either be done in that section or it can be a new subsection 11, a new subsection (c) which would ensure that the membership of the boards of Irish Rail and Irish Bus would be so comprised that a majority of the directors would be members of Boards. As the Minister has agreed to six as the membership of the board, I take that to be four out of six. If we get four out of six on two boards, as a legislator I have no doubt that those two boards could not make decisions which would lead to all the problems that have been outlined by Senator Killilea, Senator Lanigan, Senator Higgins, Senator Flor O'Mahony, and all the other people who have an interest in this matter. If we could be as specific as possible, my colleague, Senator O'Mahony, would probably have no objection to withdrawing the amendment. That kind of formal commitment by way of legislation could be written in. The Minister might require time to do it; I would like him to respond positively in the hope that he can do it. If it is done in that way and if it is explained fully to all the people, as we have been trying to do in the trade union movement — explain to them the implications of every section — that is the way to go down the road, or the railway line, with the people involved.
You are still separating them.
The most important thing is that they would not be making decisions which would be contrary to the interests of either one or the other. At least you would have people making decisions which would be complementary to one another. It is a matter for the Minister to be as specific and as forthcoming as possible and follow my suggestion through so that we would know what would arise out of a decision by one or other of these boards which will have the same people sitting on them for all intents and purposes. I do not expect 100 per cent on the board because you would have a management directorship which would probably be accused of having different interests that would be incompatible. If you get four out of six directors which will include worker directors, I think that we will be ensuring that we will not be getting decisions that will give rise to all the problems that we have been talking about. Could I have a response on that subject from the Minister so that we will see where we are going to go with the amendment, whether we are going to withdraw it as a group or whether the Minister might take on board my suggestion and replace it with a new subsection.
I would also like an opportunity to have a discussion with Senator Flor O'Mahoney. He has done a lot of work on this. Perhaps he will put his views on the record of the House on this particular move that we could get on this section. I am sure when the Minister replies that Senator Killilea will also be satisfied. I respect everybody's right to amend or even to have a change of mind about things. Senator Conway has changed his mind. Anybody may change his mind and that is to be respected. That is democracy. To put down the amendment and discuss it and we hope the Minister will respond to it. Senator O'Mahony can indicate if the reply meets with his reservations. Senator Higgins discussed it in the same terms as myself. Then we might move forward from this section. I am sorry that it has taken quite some time to arrive at this stage. That is the parliamentary process. We are all trying to achieve an improvement in the structures of CIE which will provide a service for the public and protect the rights of workers. I commend the Minister for removing the obnoxious section 29.
An economic service.
Yes, and an economic service to the public, so that the taxpayer will only be called upon to supplement the running of CIE, particularly in the area of the social needs they fulfil. It is the responsibility of the Government to fulfil the social needs of the public. Other than that each board must have its own economic reasons for trying to do the best job they can at the best and most economic prices possible. We must ensure that there is a service in rural areas where needed. In Dublin you can have buses, railways, DART, and everything but we in the country must survive also. Clonmel does not have a rail link with Dublin: people have to drive to Thurles or Limerick Junction. This is unacceptable. We would hope that with this new structure, with the suggestions I made about the boards, their management, their function and their role — if we could compromise on that we could make progress.
I want to tell my colleague, because of the lovely atmosphere of this House, that I shall call on Senator Lanigan next, then Senator O'Mahony, then Senator Conway and then an tAire.
I am glad that we have got back to discussing the Bill again. It is hard to sit on this side of the House and find the Minister trying to run away from the implications of certain sections of the Bill. It is the first time in my short term here in this House that a memorandum to Government has been discussed as if it were Government policy and as if it were a policy that had been produced in Bill form. I am not satisfied with the ruling by the Chair on this matter. If a Minister comes into this House and quotes from a document, it is not enough that the quotation only should be produced. This House should have the benefit of the full document. Otherwise, the Minister is making a total farce of the operation of this House. Perhaps that was his intention when coming in here today. I have absolutely no doubt that he has not addressed himself to the problems enunciated by Members from the Labour Party and by Members on this side of the House. He has not answered any specific question that has been raised.
I do not see any merit in having the same directors on the three boards — I think basically he was talking about two boards, Iarnród Éireann and Bus Éireann. What you would then have is one board of directors running two companies. If we are going to have two companies you should have two separate boards of directors who would run both companies as a board with the holding company having the ultimate responsibility on policy matters. If you are going to have a single set of directors or even a majority of directors who are on both boards it does away completely with theraison d'étre for the boards. It would be a better policy to have a single integrated system of transportation for rural areas. The Minister has not given any good reason for having the separate companies. I do not accept what Senator FitzGerald said. It is not purely a matter of drawing lines in railway stations or in bus offices. That is the type of problem that will arise in the breaking up of the intregrated system that is there at present. That is not the type of problem that would arise from the separation of the bus and rail services as they exist.
From the beginning of this debate I have tried to say that I have two objectives, since there has to be legislation and the Government have decided that there should be legislation to create the subsidiary companies within CIE. The two objectives I have are, (1) that the security of employment and the conditions of service of the workforce are safeguarded absolutely in law in the sense that their security of employment and their condition of service will not be changed if they move from the main board to a subsidiary company as is proposed. In relation to that question, the matter has been dealt with in later amendments by the Minister. The second objective is to get accepted the idea that the proper way to go about delivering a public transport system is on the basis of complementarity in providing an intergrated transport service.
It was because I and others had a great deal of concern about the possibilities for widespread competition between the provincial bus and rail companies that we began to put down amendments to deal with this aspect of the question. That is why we put down amendment No. 1 which if enacted, would ensure that there would not be large scale competition between provincial bus and rail services. It is also why we put down amendments Nos. 10 and 11. The Minister when reply ing might comment on these, because amendments Nos. 1, 10 and 11 are all designed to try to secure in the passage of this Bill a legal obligation on the board and on whatever number of companies is set up to provide an integrated transport service on a planned basis in which bus and rail act in a complementary way and in which social service needs are met. If the Minister responds to what Senator Ferris said, he might also respond in a slightly broader way to amendments Nos. 10 and 11.
Our concern arose because when one looks at section 8 there is no restriction on competition between the companies. It is quite clear from section 8, as it now is, that you could have bus and rail competing in a very dramatic way indeed. That is the one reason we put down this amendment.
Like everybody else in the House, I would like to get the best possible solution. My concern remains that without amendments Nos. 1, 10 and 11 or some other appropriate amendment which the Minister might like to suggest, it is difficult to see how we can ensure in this Bill that competition between rural bus and rail systems is curtailed and how we can ensure that an integrated public transport system will be provided. The arguments made by Senator Higgins and others are very real. That is why amendments Nos. 1, 10 and 11 are there. It is not because we wanted to have discussions, arguments and debates at length for the sake of them but because they reflect a particular philosophy that we have in this party about the question of public transport.
I would be interested to hear the Minister's reply to the suggestion made to him by Senator Ferris. Certainly, the similarity of board membership does enhance the possibility of co-operation between the two companies if there have to be two companies. We cannot deal with that in isolation as amendments Nos. 10 and 11 are also important. Perhaps the Minister could respond and give his views on amendment No. 10 when dealing with the suggestion made by Senator Ferris.
I should like to speak briefly on this. I can see the logic in Senator Ferris' proposition in that if there are two different companies — and I agree with what Senator O'Mahony has just said — Irish rail and bus — there could be competition, one against the other, but I can see the logic of having a board which would incorporate some of the members of each of the boards which would eradicate that problem. I welcome the security of employment and working conditions for the staff.
I see the three companies operating. I see them operating because if you want to find efficiency and inefficiency and also if you want to outline the social side of it, one way of doing it is through the three companies. I think you can easily manage a massive company by doing this, by dividing it into sections and getting down to the nitty-gritty of how much money needs to be put into it to keep up the social side of it. It is vital to the whole transport system.
I see Senator O'Mahony's problem about competition and it is a real problem. One will be faced with big competition between bus and rail. If there were separate boards one company would try to make profits at the expense of the other and, therefore, at the expense of the consumer. If the Minister can accept that, it would be a fair compromise to this whole problem.
I want to assure the House that I am very open to persuasion always in putting legislation before the Oireachtas. I am also open to suggestions for improvement in legislation and, indeed, the very purpose of having different readings in both Houses of the Oireachtas is to improve legislation. I am not a Minister who comes in and says there will be no changes. Indeed, I very much welcome the contributions made on Second Stage, and, indeed, on Committee Stage so far.
I will not consider changes which, in my opinion, would fundamentally affect the prospects of CIE or alter the central purpose of the Bill which is to set up CIE for the best possible future in all its components. That is why I had to resist the proposal that there should be only two companies. I believe very strongly that there is a need for three companies which will have quite distinct, if complimentary, roles and that it would be in the interests of the CIE organisation, its workforce and the public, who are there to serve, that this should be the case. The companies should be as distinctive as possible.
Having heard the contributions of Senators, I would be prepared at the very limit of what I think is wise to accept the proposal and make an amendment in a subsequent section. Section 11 is probably the appropriate section. I would propose to insert a new paragraph in section 11, in view of what has been said and in substitution for the amendments before us, along the lines that larnród Éireann — Irish Rail, and Bus Éireann — Irish Bus, shall have a majority of directors common to the two companies. That has the effect as Senator Ferris said, of giving two thirds or four directors out of six who would be common to both companies. I have some concern about that. It is barely within the limits of what is acceptable to me but in view of the strong points made by Senators, I would be prepared to go that far.
Senator O'Mahony has raised the matter of amendments Nos. 10 and 11 in connection with amendment No. 1. I would point out that I myself have amendment No. 9, which has substantially the same effect in relation to competition as Senator O'Mahony's amendment. What he is concerned about is the phrase "an integrated public transport service". I do not see what that really means. It was in the 1950 Act and it was dropped in the 1958 Act. He then refers to amendment No. 11 about social services deemed necessary by the board on social grounds. I had considered an amendment along the lines of amendment No. 11. The more I thought about it, the more difficult it became. Is it the board that should decide on social services or is it the Government that should decide on social services? If it is the Government who should decide, what would be the basis of deciding that? How rational will the decision be? How effective will the decisions be on the basis of by-elections or local elections occurring where all rationality goes out the window? There are mortal dangers in getting into that area. The end effect could be that because political decisions were made CIE's costs would escalate, and politicians would then blame CIE as they have done in the past. They would be demanding cuts and it would be the workforce in CIE who would be most threatened. The more I thought about it, the more I wished to keep away from that.
However, I want to reiterate that the Government have come to the global view that one third of what CIE do is a public service obligation and, therefore, one third of their expenditure would be paid for by the Government. That was a formula we introduced in May 1983 and which has worked very well. So the social service obligation in general is recognised and financial targets are set recognising the social service dimension. I should like to give notice to the Leas-Chathaoirleach that I now propose that later on Committee State, if it is not too late and if it is I will do it on Report Stage, we would insert a new paragraph in section 11 providing that a majority of the directors of Iarnród Éireann — Irish Rail and Bus Éireann — Irish Bus shall be common.
There is one factor I want clarified first. I asked several times today if the Minister would please clear this up for me. It seems to me that the Labour Party, the Fine Gael Party, others and the Minister have had conversations about this matter. I have before me this document — and it is not a sacrosanct document — from the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union and from which I read a paragraph earlier. This relates to the letter sent by the Minister to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions following their deputation on 8 November 1985. I have not seen the contents of that letter and I should like to hear what promises were made to them. I must have this information.
I have major fears about what we are now agreeing to. I cannot see the workability of this. Primarily, I do not think it is fair to the same group of people, four, five or six, who will be appointed to those two boards and who will be given the authority and the responsibility of making both of those boards viable.
Further down the line the viability operations in regard to competitiveness are not being taken from them. At the end of the day they will have to sit down at the table and say: "We are responsible for both Irish Rail and Irish Bus." It may be a soft option at the moment to get out of this problem, the Minister having dug his heels in, but in the long term it is my firm belief — and I think it is the belief of many people here today — that it is not reasonable to ask those people to run both those companies as viable companies because crucial decisions will have to be made by them when at any given stage of the week a route and a passenger service have to be provided. It is ridiculous to think that that company can afford to say: "Open up the gates and off go both of you, pick from the market and fly to A, B, C or D, wherever you are going". Alternatively, the suggestion will be: "Sorry, Bus, you do not do that job this week; Rail you do it. Bus come along and financial pressure is put on them later in regard to viability. The administrative officers of the Bus company will say, "But board, what can we do? You stopped us on a very lucrative market. You gave it to Rail last week. It is no wonder that Rail are a very viable product because you seem to favour Rail rather than Bus." The Minister is right or wrong. It has got to be said that viability is on for both and that they should get out there and be competitive. Bus and Rail should sit down together as they are the one board administering both companies and are responsible for the viability of the whole unit. Each must recognise the competitor who is visible every morning. Their attitude must be: "we have to attack that competitor, we have to become competitive with him and offer the services and the perks."
The only argument the Minister put up today for having two separate companies is the "Donnybrook Set" argument, that we have got to get the finances correct. He has broken the back of CIE by only dividing it into two companies with the holding company. We talk about union-management relations. It has been a hard long dirty old road but if you dissect it further you find that the disharmony in CIE is great. If the Dublin bus people are out, the rail are running. If the rural bus people are out, the city bus service is usually running. The problem has been that the rural bus people have always felt from the union point of view that the weight is in Dublin, that whatever they say is right and whatever they say they have to get their way.
This has been the consistent argument among CIE workers from what I can gather. They arrived at stages where they hated one another. Why? Because of the numbers of people involved in it, the difference in their job and their job operation. It is quite different. A city service and a rural service are poles apart in regard to the type of service they run. Take a rural bus going from Ballymote in Sligo to Galway city. It brings everybody and everything from old age pensioners to fine young people, from parcels to day old chicks. That bus gives a tremendous service. Could you find anything similar in any of the city services? No, you could not but we are going too far. We are only doing it from the point of view that the Minister has made loud and clear here today from an outward visibility of the financial running of CIE. Once we have separated city services, DART should be included. Everybody will not agree with me in this but it is my opinion. The train drivers and the people responsible for the trains will say: "Well, you know it is Rail. DART is Rail. It is part and parcel of the rail service in general." The only reason there would be any confrontation concerning rail is the right along the track, for a train coming from Wexford, say, into Dublin city. If DART are operating with precision, as they should be — and I am sure they can be — and if the rail is acting with precision, as I am sure they can and they will, it can be easily worked out. Instead of the Wexford train arriving up here 15 minutes late and upsetting all DART, it will compel them to be on the spot at the time allocated to them to come into the city on the dual line. It will sharpen up the rail people to say: "at 1.45 I have got to be at Bray and if I am not at Bray at 1.45, those people will have to wait while this other machine is going in and out of the city because it is taking up the track that was allocated to me. It sharpens up CIE. It sharpens up DART to know that they cannot be late coming out and when the doors close they close and you move on. That is what we want, efficiency. If we can achieve that, profitability will be achieved.
That is a separate argument but it is still a pertinent argument from my way of looking at it. It is relevant to all this because if we do not get the Minister to see the points we are making concerning the amalgamation and the putting together and the entwining and not the separation of rail and rural bus in the foreseeable future, which will not be so far away, I believe that this thing is going to smoulder and fester and the wounds are going to be extended from the relationship point of view of the rail workers against the bus workers. That can happen and that will happen. We are going to have this competitiveness against the service rather than for it, rather than having the busman saying he must be in Galway, Athenry, Ballymote or Athlone at 8.10 a.m. with his busload of passengers for the train service to Dublin. He must be because the train service will not wait for him. If it does, it will upset the DART service in Dublin. One flows into the other. To be reasonable about it, the bus people have got to help the rail people and the rail people have got to help the bus people. No matter what documentation is there, if one is doing better than the other at a later stage, blame will be put on the board for favouring the other.
I know Senator Ferris means well. He is trying to put the two together from the board point of view. That works fine. I can see his point but in three years time when competitiveness that should be there comes into it and is put into it, or is not put into it, it is there the problem will start. Where do we go from there?
I want to make those points clear. They are very relevant. I appreciate that the Minister has gone a certain way at the request of Senator Ferris but I think we should press it home. I do not know what Senator Tim Conway was talking about. He was only defending himself from something he thought Senator Michael Higgins said about him. His argument did not last two seconds. It went down the drain.
Senator Alexis FitzGerald — he is a very loyal and strong member of the Fine Gael Party and I would not expect anything from him but to come in here and defend the Minister because that is what he is supposed to do. The reality of the situation is what I am saying. It is not often you see my name with that of Senator Flor O'Mahony on an amendment. Both our names are there on the board all day since 12 o'clock. The Minister has not convinced, I know in my heart, Senator Flor O'Mahony or me that what he is doing is correct. He has not yielded one bit to the reasonable argument we have been making.
We have gone over much ground and the Minister has pulled old wools out of the bag. They did not work for him. A Government memorandum was introduced. Let us be sensible about a Government memorandum. It is what is presented to the Government. It is what goes to the Government. It is not what comes from the Government. I am sure that when the Minister has gone out of his Department, which will be soon, there will be many memoranda which were sent up to him and sent to Government which were not accepted. So that old trick in the bag is not on. What the Department sent up and circulated around the other Departments is one thing. What the Government decided is something else. Does the Minister admit that?
That is accurate.
I thank the Minister very much. I am delighted because I am trying to take him out of the quandary he put himself in. He knows the golden rule is that he should not take that document here with him at all.
I did not. I sent for it when I heard what the Senator was saying.
That makes it even worse because the Minister said to me here today that he had to get opinion on it. He obviously did not get opinion on presenting it here but he will not get out of presenting it here. I know the Minister is in a quandary but he will learn. Time teaches one and the Minister will learn.
I am beseeching Senator Ferris, Senator O'Mahony and, above all, the Minister to see our point of view on this matter. Let me put it the other way. From the Donnybrook idea of financial rectitude, if the board decide against the bus or rail people because they did not take the peak period passengers to wherever they wanted to go, the bus or rail people whichever the decision is made against, can say as I have no doubt they will: "How can you bring out the facts and figures against us when you stopped us last week, month or year? "Somebody has got to put the figures down. If we went to Dublin, we would have made X amount of money. Therefore, we are viable.
I live beside the Tuam sugar factory. I know exactly what I am talking about. This history is well known to us all. Senator Ferris is going to live beside another factory which is developing the same history as in Tuam. The lads with the swinging chairs in Dublin can swing the chair around and they can swing it slowly to one place and avoid the other place. That is the way it is done. We know the tricks of the trade. I mentioned them here today.
I appeal therefore to the Minister to accept Senator O'Mahony's amendment and to accept mine, which is put in far simpler phraseology. The only difference between us is that he quoted the figurein toto with “two” in it and I just sought to delete “three” and put in “two”. I am afraid my mind is rather simple in those matters. I certainly am not withdrawing the amendment. In fairness to the Minister, he went part of the way to accept Senator Ferris's suggestion, and if Senator Ferris follows his arguments through, he will have to agree that what I am saying is absolutely correct, because as sure as day follows night at a later stage when one of those companies is doing better than the other, the administration and the unions representing the weakest are going to start complaining. They will start off with small complaints which will mature into major ones. There will be animosity between the rail and road if they are separated. Surely in 1986 with all the modern technology available to us, it is possible to assess the viability of those two companies inside any administration and see which is doing better without having to separate them.
The question of liquidity, despite what the Minister said, is not settled in our minds, because the animosity will come and if the animosity comes between the workers participating in rail and bus services, it is going to blow. I instanced here today and that what has happened to date is that the rural people feel that their unions are being dictated to by Dublin and whatever Dublin do they will do the exact opposite. That has gone on, sadly. Whatever Dublin buses do, rail will not do because this friction is between them. What we have done is correct in dissecting that part of it because the rest of it is a togetherness rather than a separation. Looking at it from a CIE point of view if it does not work, the obvious enemy gaping straight at one every morning is the rapid service to Dublin by private enterprise. The rapid service is the enemy so far as CIE are concerned. They have to become competitive. Together they can, but separated they cannot.
I plead with you Minister, seeing that you have moved away from the situation and as we are at a very early stage in this debate from the point of view of documents coming out to take it from here. The Bill will go to the Dáil. Probably there will be bits and pieces which we skipped that they will pick up.
The main argument in this Bill — and I say it categorically — the thrust of this Bill and the question in this Bill concern the separation into three companies rather than into two. I plead with you, Minister, at this stage after the long day we have had, to yield to us and to our reasoned arguments.
I was a CIE user. I travel by car now but, occasionally, if I had to I would travel on the rapid bus service — a private enterprise — fundamentally because it is about a third of the price. I am quite frank about it here today, because there is no point saying otherwise.
The enemies of CIE are the services that are being created by people in private enterprise. More luck to them, because they are bringing CIE to their senses. It is about time they were brought to their senses. Give the workers a chance. Give the services a chance. Give integration a chance between rail and rural buses. Give them a chance to work together again and set them off with togetherness rather than separated. I plead with the Minister to do that.
Following the contribution of Senator Killilea I want to deal with this question in the constructive way in which he has put it. There is very little dividing us now. Apart from the Minister's view, there is very little dividing us on both sides of the House on what we want to achieve on this. If the amendments were carried, as we wanted them, we would just have two companies — rail and national bus would be one company, and Dublin Bus would be the other company.
I think we should not call it "Dublin Bus". We should call it "Dublin City Services".
Your point is taken, but that is basically what would be the ideal. The Minister's argument, as I understand it, is that he must have a management responsibility to deliver the service in the best way he considers, and that can be done better, he feels, in a three-way divide. That was his argument. It was the first time I heard a real argument about why we should have the three companies. What I was trying to overcome was the problem of three boards sitting with no relationship to one another, making all sorts of decisions contrary to one another, which would be one-upmanship and, at the expense of everyone else, making decisions in that board's interest only, delivering that decision to management to carry it out irrespective of the consequences. As I understood it from my compromise situation, if we had at least one board which would have members in a majority position, and who were common to both companies, they would run the two companies apart from the Dublin City services. If there was one board, those kinds of decisions would not be made because we could not have two groups of people making different decisions and handing down different instructions which would be detrimental to one another, because they would have to answer for it as members of another board. The more I analyse it, the more I realise that this might be a better way to do it than just the two-company situation. The two-company situation sounded excellent and with all the arguments we could justify it, but this other way might be a more controllable way in that the board, with an overall view of the two operations, could formulate a policy that would benefit the two sections which we are worried about. We do not want them to compete with one another to the detriment of one or the other. We still want both of them to be as efficient as possible. One way we can do that is to have a similarity of company running it. The management is important. I accept the Minister's point on that. The management is vital. The management will have the overall responsibility of planning out the board's policy. I accept that, but if we have the right policy being handed down to management — and we could achieve it in this combined board situation — I think we could achieve what we want in this House. I think we have a measure of agreement, if I can put it that way. I accept the arguments as being legitimate. I try to consider the counter-arguments. I think we could achieve what we want by doing it in this way.
I want to thank the Minister for being forthcoming in suggesting an amendment from him, with his legal advice and his parliamentary draftman's advice to section 11 (2) (c) so that there would be a new subsection written in there. If Senator O'Mahony is happy with that, and if the response to the other two problems which he raised — and he may want to elaborate on those again — is satisfactory we may have achieved the kind of integration we want, the kind of board decision which we would want, and management can then carry it out. That is as I read it. If there is another argument against that particular view, I am prepared to listen to it. We could really achieve what we need by doing it in this way and that Irish Rail and Irish Bus would have a similar board of management, which is the very same.
The alternative is to have one company running both of those. What will they be doing? They could sack half of the employees. They should start playing one group of workers against another group. When they are separate companies, at least there would be separate sections of workers. There would be separate union representation, maybe, for them. I do not know what the structure is. The unions would be represented at board level as well. That could break the deadlock we have arrived at. We could achieve what we want to achieve. The Minister, although he has compromised in this, will have come a lot of the way to meet us. I know from discussions which I have had with the unions that even they will be compromising their situation which was the two company situation versus the three company situation. I feel that they would compromise to this, because they are not unrealistic and are not removed from the problems of trying to provide a service.
That is not what they said yesterday.
All right. I do not know what discussions the Opposition Senators had with them, but we tried to have an ongoing dialogue with them all the time. I am just putting it on the record that in our most recent discussions with them, although it would be a compromise situation for them, they can see the overall thinking behind the decision and that it would remove some of their worries if there were three separate companies with three separate boards, three separate managers or directors. In their opinion, everything would be lost then. We could avoid that loss in this way and make sure that there would not be unfair competition between the two companies and that there would be a correlation of overall policy. After that, I agree with everything said about the kind of service that should be given and the integration of it, and how it should be integrated. There is no doubt in my mind what an integrated transport service is. There seems to be a doubt in the Minister's mind and the more he talks about it the more he worries about it. That is the Minister's right as well; he is the Minister and he has the overall responsibility. We are trying to be helpful and I am glad that the Minister has responded to the House. I hope we can reach agreement on it.
Basically everything Senator Ferris has said reinforces the argument for having only two companies. Every word he has said reinforces the argument because basically the only change the Minister has suggested is that there should be joint directors and that directors would work on both boards at the same time. I think it would be totally wrong from a business point of view. Basically what we are getting at is that there should be one board. If we have one board we should have only one company, apart from Dublin Bus. One board operating one company and with a management team is the proper way to coordinate services in the rural areas. When I say rural areas there are quite a number of people involved outside the Dublin area. There is the Cork, Waterford, Limerick, Galway city services which are very large services in their own right.
The Minister, in suggesting that he will amend section 11, is making a decision which is not being made on the basis of good judgment. It is not being made on the basis of good business practice, but is something that he is conjuring up in an attempt to show the House that he is prepared to move towards the amendment. He knows that it would appear that the two amendments, as put down, which are similar in nature, is the proper way to proceed. Senator Ferris said that the unions would agree with his assessment of these joint directors on the two boards. He must not be listening to the members of the unions. It would appear to me that that is what the union members are saying but I can guarantee him that on the ground that is not what the members are saying down the country.
I have had conversations today with people in Kilkenny, Waterford, South Tipperary and Carlow on this matter. The workers in CIE in the country are not looking for joint members of the boards. They are looking for an integrated rural service. When I say "rural" I mean basically outside Dublin services. They do not want anything else except an integrated rail and road service which will provide for the people outside Dublin city a proper service and which could give profits to both entities within the same company. If we go down the road the Minister is suggesting we go down, there will be a fall out and the fall out is likely to be in the rail section. I have absolutely no doubt that that is going to be the end result.
It cannot be stopped.
We have not had an answer here as to how the Minister is going to be able to separate——
I cannot answer the points being made.
It is not my fault if the Minister is not being allowed to answer. The points that have been made have not been answered because every time the Minister gets up he goes off at a tangent. The Minister does not answer questions. I will sit down if the Minister answers any of the questions that I asked and if he does not I will get up again. I am giving the Minister the opportunity now to answer them.
I have to protest at the lengthy half hour Second Stage speeches through this debate. It is a most unsatisfactory situation to allow a Minister to be exposed to the accusations that he is not answering questions. It is just impossible to deal with Second Stage speeches at Committee Stage.
There is a huge number of amendments down to this Bill now. Senator Killilea asked me about the correspondence which I had with the Congress of Trade Unions, and what was in it. The main thrust of what was in it was to assure them — this was before the Bill was published — that the Bill would contain provisions which would provide against the possibility of privatisation, and that it would contain provisions which, for instance, would retain the commonality of employment in the group — a point that Senator Lanigan raised earlier which I did answer, but by the time I got to the answer he had left the House and that was on the question of transferability of staffs. Staff will be transferable and promotable as between companies. I indicated to the Congress the provisions along those lines.
In relation to the future and security of the companies and the employees of the companies I do not think the Bill, plus the amendments that are before us, could be any clearer. For instance, my amendment, No. 4 proposes that:
A resolution for the voluntary winding up of a company shall not be adopted unless a resolution has been passed by Dáil Éireann consenting to such winding up.
Later on, I proposed an amendment to the affect that anyone employed by a company in the very unlikely event that it might wind up reverts to employment of the board without interruption of service.
That was only put in as an amendment.
Yes, but it puts beyond any doubt whatsoever——
The Minister said he gave an assurance to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions that this would be put into the Bill. How is it that it took an amendment by the Minister to put it into the Bill? Why did he not put it in the Bill?
I gave an assurance that there would be a section providing against privatisation, which there is. I gave an assurance that the security of tenure, the conditions of employment of employees of the board today will not be in one whit diminished. In order to underline and reiterate that commitment and that principle, which underlines this reorganisation, I have put in extensive amendments.
Why did you not put it in the Bill?
I personally believe that the situation was already there, but in order to allay fears we will spell it out again and again in the Bill. If the Senator looks at amendment No. 17 he will see that it is giving extremely extensive security of employment to the existing workers there. Their position is in no way diminished. The very purpose of this Bill is to organise things in such a way as to maximise its future and maximise the likelihood of success in the future; not just for CIE as a group but also for the success of each of its components. I hope that the record of the past three years warrants a certain amount of faith on the part of the House of my handling of CIE.
In conclusion, I would urge that the amendments here be not accepted. As indicated earlier, I will introduce an amendment to section 11 at the appropriate stage.
It is very clear from the long discussion we have had that the concern being expressed from the floor of the House is to have a situation in which the provincial bus and rail system would act in a complementary fashion together and that they would not compete against each other to the point where either company was put at risk, while at the same time providing acceptable level of service to the community at large. That is the objective we all share. That is why amendment No. 1 in my name was tabled. A similar one is in the name of Senator Killilea. It is also why amendment No. 10 in my name also is tabled. If the Cathaoirleach would allow me to raise amendment No. 10 in conjunction with amendment No. 1 it might help us to reach a quicker conclusion.
The Minister, in relation to amendment No. 10, said it is not clear what an integrated public transport service is.
The Senator can make reference to it but not discuss it fully.
I was wondering would the Minister be prepared to concede that the idea of an integrated public transport service is a good idea that should be somehow incorporated into this legislation. The Minister has gone some distance in the indication that he is going to introduce a new amendment on section 6. Can the Minister see any room for moving beyond the point that he is prepared to concede in amendment No. 9 towards that which is in amendment No. 10, even if, if necessary, we come up with a different formulation of words? The important thing in this Bill is that, as originally drafted, there was a very heavy emphasis on competition between the three companies.
It is still there.
While accepting the notion of creating greater efficiencies, where that is possible within CIE within the transport system, we are trying to see to it that other objectives beyond financial effectiveness are met, such as the assurance that people in all parts of the country will have reasonable access to public transport of either the bus or rail kind, which is why we talk first of all about one company for the non-Dublin services in amendment No. 1, and in amendment No. 10 an integrated public transport service.
Amendment No. 9 which was mentioned by the Minister goes some distance towards that in so far as it tries to minimise competition in the interests of both the board and the individual companies, but it does not go the next step which is to see to it that the companies together meet the requirements of the public in terms of an integrated transport service. Could the Minister go any further on that one?
I have gone a very long way in accepting amendments. I have discussed them at great length with a number of Senators, including — and especially — Senator O'Mahony. I am not in a position to accept an amendment as put down, if he says other formulations of words can be found. I cannot exclude that. I do not want to get involved with amendments of that sort because I am trying to provide for a situation where the regime under which CIE and their employees operate is neither diminished nor increased. At every stage I have avoided putting new impositions on CIE or at the same time giving new concessions to CIE. The "integrated public transport service" means different things to different people. It was in the 1950 Act; it was dropped in the 1958 Act; I do not know why. I think it was proposed by the Beddy Commission. If we do not include it, CIE will have the same duties as they now have — absolutely unaltered. All we are doing is restructuring the organisation in order to maximise their opportunity to succeed. We are not changing the general regime or the duties and obligations of CIE.
Surely the Minister is not saying that he is not changing what we have at the moment. I accept totally his sincerity about his concern for the staff, but he is going to put the various groups in Irish Rail and Irish Bus working opposite to each other. That is exactly what he is going to do. The Minister has agreed with Senator Ferris that he is going to put the same persons on the two boards. I think he should still leave the two companies, and not three. Earlier references were made to mistakes that were made by past Governments. Such reference was made by Senator Michael Higgins. Mistakes were made. I am big enough to stand up and say that. I do not find any trouble in criticising previous Ministers of my own party if they made mistakes. I am not being political about this. There were mistakes made with CIE by former Fianna Fáil Ministers. That does not mean that we should make a further mistake. I have had very close associations with CIE for 35 years and have used the service. My husband used the service when he was here also. I can only see deep trouble if the Minister puts the rail and the buses in separate positions. It just will not work.
I totally accept what Senator Killilea has said. Transport is a different scene once one goes outside Dublin. Leave the one concept of travel in Dublin, but leave the other companies together for the rest of Ireland.
I am greatly surprised by the persistent views. Guinness's are a very successful group of companies in Ireland with which I have had a long association. They have several subsidiaries — several successful subsidiaries — many of which have common directors. Some of those subsidiaries are competing with each other in that they are in the drinks market. There is Harp lager, Smithwick's in Kilkenny and Guinness in Dublin, but, of course, the main board of Guinness (Ireland) ensures that the overall interests of the group are well looked after. It was thought better, for management purposes, that there should be separate companies to deal with them and separate management. That is a feature of a lot of successful companies, not only here but abroad, where they segregate their activities and get separate management. If an operation becomes too big it becomes very complex to manage.
We want two companies and the Minister wants three, which is bigger.
I honestly believe one of the reasons CIE have had difficulties in the past is that they are so big. That is why we are proposing now that there should be three companies. As a concession, I mentioned earlier that I would be proposing an amendment — No. 15a on section 11 (2) but the parliamentary draftsman advises that the amendment proposing a new subsection should be inserted in section 11. The amendment reads:
In page 6, between lines 37 and 38, to insert the following new subsection:
"(3) A majority of the directors of Iarnród Éireann — Irish Rail and Bus Éireann — Irish Bus shall be common to both companies.".
We have had a long discussion on this matter and there is no point in prolonging it further. My party have taken a very deep interest in this Bill. Today, during the period I was in here since the debate began, they have considered the amendments we are now discussing. It is their decision that in the willingness of the Minister to put forward the amendment which he is now putting forward, whereby a majority of the members of both the non-Dublin board will be the same persons, and in view of the fact that he did appear to be prepared to consider possibly some way in which we could make an amendment at a later stage similar to my amendment No. 10 if we can agree on suitable words, the decision of my party is that we will withdraw the amendment which is now down——
Is amendment No. 1 withdrawn?
I am prepared to withdraw the amendment.
I absolutely disagree.
- Belton, Luke.
- Browne, John.
- Bulbulia, Katharine.
- Burke, Ulick.
- Connor, John.
- Conway, Timmy.
- Daly, Jack.
- Deenihan, Jimmy.
- Dooge, James C.I.
- Durcan, Patrick.
- Ferris, Michael.
- FitzGerald, Alexis J.G.
- Fleming, Brian.
- Higgins, Jim.
- Higgins, Michael D.
- Hourigan, Richard V.
- Howard, Michael.
- Howlin, Brendan.
- Kelleher, Peter.
- Lennon, Joseph.
- Loughrey, Joachim.
- McAuliffe-Ennis, Helena.
- McDonald, Charlie.
- McGonagle, Stephen.
- McMahon, Larry.
- O'Brien, Andy.
- O'Leary, Seán
- O'Mahony, Flor.
- Quealy, Michael A.
- Robb, John D.A.
- Rogers, Brid.
- Ross, Shane P.N.
- Ryan, Brendan.
- de Brún, Séamus.
- Ellis, John.
- Fallon, Seán.
- Fitzsimons, Jack.
- Hanafin, Des.
- Honan, Tras.
- Hussey, Thomas.
- Kiely, Rory.
- Killilea, Mark.
- Lanigan, Mick.
- Lynch, Michael.
- Mullooly, Brian.
- Ryan, Eoin.
- Ryan, William.
I sought this morning to get agreement to discuss amendments Nos. 1 and 2 together and the House gave me that agreement though some Senators complained about such an arrangement. The situation now is that if anyone wishes to discuss amendment No. 2, they are at liberty to do so. This was the point I was making this morning when I was accused of trying to rush the Bill through the House.
Thank you a Chathaoirligh. You acted in a very responsible manner.
I hope the Senator will, too.
I move amendment No. 2:
In page 4, subsection (1), line 18, to delete "three" and substitute "two".
Amendment No. 2 is exactly the same as amendment No. 1. It is sad that it took a parliamentary meeting of the Labour Party to make a decision as to whether they should yield to the Minister for Communications and to the Government. A few moments ago, we were informed by Senator O'Mahony that his party had met today and the decision was that they would withdraw their amendment on the grounds that certain promises would be given.
Would the Senator get to amendment No. 2?
My amendment is very simple. We have spoken since 12 noon on this matter. There are a few new faces in the House since then and I hope their contributions will be constructive. There is no doubt in my mind that the Labour Party have sold out on their union membership on this major issue within a semi-State organisation where the unions believed they had a tremendous grasp of the Labour Party. It is a sad reflection to see those who claim to be socialists and those who——
Would the Senator get to the amendment?
I am at the amendment. This is what will be written in the papers tomorrow morning and this is what will be relevant.
This is opportunism.
The biggest decision ever taken by the Labour Party in political history was taken today when they sold out on all their unions. It is little wonder that at the recent union conference they were told to pack up and get out. Not alone are the unions fed up with them but the country is, too. They have scurrilously turned their backs on the unions. I am saying here what the Labour Members have been saying on their amendment which has now been withdrawn.
Get to the amendment Senator.
It was the biggest sellout yet. My amendment is quite simple: "three" to be substituted by "two" in page 4, subsection (1), line 18 of the Bill. It speaks for itself. We spent hours talking about it and there is just one matter I want to deal with regarding the reply given to me by the Minister.
I read the letter which was circulated to all of us concerning the Irish Transport and General Workers Union. The Minister stated in relation to my amendment that he had told them the tenure of employment was safe but he and the Government were forced, by the amendments I and my party submitted, to yield to that.
That is not so.
Earlier on in the day I would have said that Senator O'Mahony's performance in the Labour Party was unique but I am afraid——
Never mind Senator O'Mahony.
The Minister had the audacity to stand up and say he gave an assurance to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions on 8 November 1985. The only assurance we could extract from him was that he had put down an amendment to the Bill since that date. That speaks for itself. It shows the contempt with which the Minister and the Government have treated the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. An amendment today by the Government consoles them and only an amendment today consoles them. I am putting my amendment that we delete "three" and substitute "two" for the reasons that I have put up. I believe that the Minister is now setting up two companies which eventually will be at loggerheads with one another because of the competition created. I appeal to the Minister at this late stage to concede and to stop this ferocious war that is going to break out in the years ahead between those two companies. As sure as day follows night the bus company is going to direct its passengers to the bus company, and what is the rail company going to do for passengers? He has made a verbal compromise in an amendment he has put in later on which reads:
A majority of the directors of Iarnród Éireann — Irish Rail and Bus Éireann — Irish Bus shall be common to both companies.
What will happen if two or three of those members cannot agree with one another? You have the two worker directors lining up with, say, two of the original directors. Is there not a minority situation for the plans which the Minister and Senator O'Mahony are talking about? We all have different opinions.
Like the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party.
Perhaps the Senator would refer to the Minister for Education, Deputy Cooney. He is the man for you. He is dealing with you daily. More to come.
He is allowed to speak in our party.
The Senator would be far better off if he went back to his little nest because his contributions would be tempting me to go up an avenue that I do not want to go. If the Senator wants me to travel up that avenue I can trip along. We had the incident yesterday of Deputy Joe Bermingham. There may be more little incidents coming. Your roller-coaster is going downhill now, watch it. You are on a slippery slope. Once you start on the slippery slope it is damn hard to pull up.
The Senator knows from experience.
Stay on amendment No. 2.
On amendment No. 2, since I was distracted from it, I want to say that no matter how the Minister for Communications, Deputy Mitchell, might try to choose this board, human nature being what it is, that board of directors could have a difference of opinion. The decisions will fall with the worker representatives. There is no need for me to inform this House that the worker directors are going to look after themselves, and rightly so. We would have a majority decision of the members of the board who have this irregular situation created between the Minister's selected members and in addition to that the two worker directors. There and then we have confrontation and a separation of the two companies. No matter what we say and no matter what the Minister says we are on two different and separate avenues. I cannot see Irish Bus hauling passengers into Irish Rail. I do not care what the Minister or anybody in this House says to me. That can happen. Every board decision is taken by roll call vote. We are leaving it to the Minister for Communications, Deputy Mitchell, to choose those people who, no matter what the cost, will never have a falling out. That is what he is asking us to believe. Three weeks ago in the Labour Party a certain Senator who has now joined the PDs was an outstanding member of that party——
What has this to do with amendment No. 2?
I am illustrating how a difference of opinion on a board can come about. The Labour Party is about the same size as this new board is going to be. Indeed, after the next election it will be lucky if it is that size at all. I am giving the illustration that a man can actually have a difference of opinion. He was a financier or a financial adviser of that party and one day at 12 o'clock he was no more. He was on the opposite side. He fell out. The same thing can happen with the formation of this board. After a falling out what happens? Does the Minister for Communications, Deputy Mitchell, come along, take out his little axe and cut the head. Now that is the other option. No better man to take out the axe and cut the head.
Ah, he would not do that.
Renowned for it. He has a track record unparalleled in Ireland. That man would swing the axe day and night and at any hour of the day or night. It is very relevant to all of this because who are going to be the sufferers at the end of the day? Irish Bus and Irish Rail — they will be the political sufferers, no matter what we say. We all know the capabilities of the Minister in that field. Even at this late stage and perhaps because I lost my temper due to the manner in which the Labour Party instructed Senator O'Mahony to withdraw his amendment — I am sorry for that ——
You said that four or five times.
Personally I do not want to insult Senator O'Mahony because I have respect for him.
We are on amendment No. 2 and not amendment No. 1.
With regard to amendment No. 2, perhaps Senator O'Mahony could see the new light that I have brought to this subject. He knows that it can happen.
He would want to have very good eyesight.
He has a far better example, his good, decent and loyal friend and a friend of mine too, Deputy Cluskey. The history is there.
Would you get to amendment No. 2 and never mind Senator O'Mahony or Deputy Cluskey.
Senator Chris Kirwan was not here today to vote because I know well he has got so sick of them now that he would not dare come into the place, and he is right. That is a question that Senator Kirwan is quite capable of handling himself. I am sure he must be disgusted with the performance of the Labour Party. I am sure Senator O'Mahony in his heart is disgusted——
Would you get to amendment No. 2.
For those reasons I am appealing at this late stage to Senator O'Mahony, because of the Minister's track record in that field of dealing with boards that he knows what can happen and what will happen if they do not toe the line. They would not go out for ideology or they would not go out for any reasons because they wanted to protect the rights of the workers. They would go out because they did not protect the rights of the Minister for Communications, Deputy Mitchell and the Fine Gael Government. That is what they go out for. He knows it, I know it, everyone in this House and everyone in the country knows it, that the Minister for Communications, Deputy Mitchell would take the head off any man on behalf of the Fine Gael Party, as has been proven in semiState boards in the history of this country. You could not say the truth often enough. If I repeated it ten thousand times here today, I would be telling the truth every time.
You might begin to believe it yourself.
I am sure of it. Every man in this House or outside of this House is sure of it too because as I said his track record is there to see. Do you not remember RTE?
RTE has nothing to do with amendment No. 2.
It is an example. It is a semi-State organisation, the same as this. I do not want to go back on his history but I just recollect a few little things. Memories are there. Memories are to be believed. In view of the circumstances, — on a far more serious note — that competition is being created and will be created and has to be created and that one of those in the future years has to go to the wall, I am asking at this late stage for a change of heart by the Labour Party because they can on this last occasion make the Minister change this aspect of the Bill by backing my amendment.
We have discussed the content of this amendment at great length already and I do not propose to add to what I said earlier on. I find it very difficult to stomach the comments made by Senator Killilea.
That is ludicrous.
Senator Flor O'Mahony.
During the Second Stage debate Senator Killilea was prepared——
Senator O'Mahony without interruption.
Senator Killilea opened the Second Stage debate on behalf of his party and during his contribution he made it quite clear that he welcomed the Bill in its original form.
I did not.
It is quite unbelievable that, having done that, he would come in here today and make the kind of comments he has been making. It turns out today that a Fianna Fáil Minister, at the end of 1982; was prepared to recommend to the Government of the day that CIE be disestablished, abolished and eliminated in line with McKinsey.
He did not.
With that kind of background I do not think Senator Killilea should continue in the vein he has been going on for the past ten minutes.
The Senator should come to amendment No. 2.
I thought these points should be made to Senator Killilea.
If the Senator has to answer all the points Senator Killilea made, I will be here until morning and so will the Senator.
My view on the two and three companies is quite clear. I urge Senator Killilea to look at the amendments introduced either by the Minister following discussions between myself and himself, or by myself, which provide a great deal of additional security in this Bill for the work force compared with the Bill as originally drafted.
The Minister went a long way with us and I thank him for that. If the work force were relying for security on the amendments which Senator Killilea has tabled, they would not have a great deal of security.
When I asked the Minister some questions before we had the last vote, I said he was avoiding answering the questions. He said he was not, that he got no opportunity to answer them. He spoke at length, but what he said had no relevance to the questions asked. He went on to talk about the security of employment of the workers. At no stage did I ask questions about the security of employment of the workers, because that matter will come up on later amendments. In rural areas how could you break up services which are operating jointly? How could you break them up without bringing in separate telephone lines? Every detail of running a company, now run on a joint basis, will have to be separated. You will have extra people to operate two services whereas at present you have one set of people operating the bus and the provincial train services.
Where buildings are being jointly used at present, what will be the method of assessing the ownership of these buildings? These are practical things that will have to be confronted. There is a totally different set of circumstances here from when the Department of Posts and Telegraphs separated into An Post and Bord Telecom. Could the Minister tell me how this separation will take place on the ground?
This is not unusual. I cited the example of the Guinness group of companies where there are several subsidiary companies operating side by side, very often sharing facilities. That is what will happen here. It will be a matter for the board of the parent company to decide what offices, depots or company property should be assigned to the use of any one company, or the property which should be used jointly by those companies. That is a matter for the board. There is only one new point I could make out of what Senator Killilea most recently said about where the board disagree. In a subsequent amendment which I have tabled I deal with this point, that is, amendment No. 9 which says:
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.
If there is any dispute between the companies it will be a matter for the parent board to decide. That is just as it is today. It is just as it is in any group of companies.
If you have a separation of the two services and conflicts arise on the ground the Minister is saying now that these conflicts will be adjudicated by the board. I presume the Minister is talking about the main board. This will mean that on the ground every day decisions will have to be referred to the main board, because otherwise services will stop while a resolution of these conflicts is adjudicated on by the board. The Minister is talking about a remote decision being made, taking away from the local management the right to operate the services to give the best value to the company that will be operating, whether it be the bus or the rail services.
It is one of the functions of retaining the main board. That is one of the major differences between my proposals and what was proposed by my predecessor in 1982. We retain CIE as a group, acknowledging that there is a need for co-ordination of services, there are economies of scale in computerisation, pension arrangements, servicing, etc. The main board's primary function will be to co-ordinate the activities of each company. When there are disputes between the companies, the main board will resolve them. It will also be the main board's function to ensure that the affairs of each of the companies are conducted in such a way as not to be detrimental to the interests of the other companies, or the group as a whole.
What is the situation regarding the road freight service?
I am happy to say that the Government decided in the context of the national plan in October 1984 that, if the road freight service was not at break even, or better, before the beginning of 1986, it would be phased out. In fact, it is more than breaking even and its future is now secure.
Where will the road freight service stand in relation to the new companies if they are set up?
The road freight service will be run by the railway company.
- Belton, Luke.
- Browne, John.
- Bulbulia, Katharine.
- Connor, John.
- Conway, Timmy.
- Daly, Jack.
- Higgins, Michael D.
- Hourigan, Richard V.
- Howard, Michael.
- Howlin, Brendan.
- Kelleher, Peter.
- Loughrey, Joachim.
- McAuliffe-Ennis, Helena.
- McDonald, Charlie.
- McGonagle, Stephen.
- Deenihan, Jimmy.
- Dooge, James C.I.
- Durcan, Patrick.
- Ferris, Michael.
- FitzGerald, Alexis J.G.
- Higgins, Jim.
- McMahon, Larry.
- O'Brien, Andy.
- O'Leary, Seán
- O'Mahony, Flor.
- Quealy, Michael A.
- Rogers, Brid.
- Ross, Shane P.N.
- Ryan, Brendan.
- de Brún, Séamus.
- Fallon, Seán.
- Fitzsimons, Jack.
- Hanafin, Des.
- Honan, Tras.
- Hussey, Thomas.
- Kiely, Rory.
- Killilea, Mark.
- Lanigan, Mick.
- Lynch, Michael.
- Mullooly, Brian.
- Ryan, Eoin.
- Ryan, William.
Amendment Nos. 4 and 5 are alternatives and may be discussed together.
The point was made very well that if the Bill was not amended along the lines I propose here there was a danger that companies would be, at some future date, put into liquidation. I have proposed this amendment to put beyond doubt that it will not be possible for the board or the Government to wind up any of the companies without a motion to that effect being previously passed by Dáil Éireann. Therefore, I recommend this amendment to the House.
I should state that in respect of the wording in Senator O'Mahony's amendment that it was not possible to accept it as it would have widespread implications for company law in general. For instance, it would leave creditors in an impossible position if such a situation arose. However, it is provided in subsequent amendments that if, as I stated earlier, in the most unlikely event of any such company being wound up in any circumstances that the functions of that company and their employees employed on vesting day would be transferred automatically back to the employment of the board without any interruption of service. The functions are guaranteed to continue and the employment of people employed at vesting date will also be guaranteed.
I thank the Minister for coming a long way towards meeting the point I made in relation to this question of the possibility of liquidation at some time in the future. I also accept very much that this is a most unlikely eventuality. The difference between the Government amendment and mine boils down to two points. One is a small one where I speak of a resolution having to be approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas whereas the Minister is suggesting that it should be approved by Dáil Éireann only. I am not sure why it is confined to Dáil Éireann. I do not want to make a substantive issue of this, obviously.
The more significant issue is that if the Government amendment is adopted, we will be in a position where neither the Government nor the board can wind up any company except following the passing of a resolution by the Dáil, whereas it would still be possible for a creditor to take proceedings to apply for the winding up of a company. It is this eventuality, as well as the ones covered already in the Bill and in the Government amendment, that I was trying to meet.
I am not clear as to why the amendment I have down, which covers not just the voluntary winding up of the company but also an application by a creditor to a court to have a company wound up, is not in order. I do not see that it would have any implications for company law in general because it is put in specifically into this Bill which relates only to CIE and their subsidiary companies. I do not see that it places any extraordinary burden on the Oireachtas because what it will be asked to decide in the event of a creditor seeking in the court to have a company wound up, is whether it was prepared to allow that proceeding in the court to go ahead or whether it was prepared to take steps to meet the financial requirements of the creditor. Subject to hearing the Minister further on this the particular form that I have closes off every eventuality. The Minister has gone a long distance towards that. I do not see why there should be a complication with it.
I will briefly add this consideration to what has been said by my colleague, Senator O'Mahony, in this regard. It is a procedural principle in relation to company law that interests me. You can look at the lien of company law on Bills such as this in two ways. One is to regard the basic company law instruments as being defective. From the consultations we have had with workers and with their representatives in trade unions, and also with members of the public who are interested, to use a fashionable word, in the maximum possible transparency in relation to the legal proceedings involving companies as much as anything else, that the basic pieces of legislation in relation to company law, are far from adequate in either affording workers or the public sufficient access to the justification for proceedings that may be taken which affect their livelihoods.
There are two roads you can travel. One is to regard a restrictive and somewhat defective framework of company law as something that cannot be changed except by being addressed in a specific undertaking which would be the reform of company law, something for which both Houses have shown no great enthusiasm. The second road is, where you see new corporate entities being created, you seek to try and establish as many principles of departure as you legally can. Therefore, after a certain period of time you look at the arguments that have been put forward at Committee Stage and elsewhere in both Houses and you say that it has arisen in the case of this State body, and so on. These, if you like, come together to form an alternative framework where you are taking the evidence of the requirements of companies in terms of information and openness as being an incentive to reform the company law. I do not agree really with the legislative drafting principles that argue from the first option, that argue really from the idea that because the implications for company law are restricted we should be held back by that. Therefore my question would be in two senses. I would agree with Senator O'Mahony that it would need to be demonstrated to me where in fact the difficulties arise precisely within the context of company law. Is it in terms of the principle of consultation or is it in the terms of the time? Or is it in terms of the two things put together? The second question would be that if these would not definitely and precisely contravene a requirement in relation to company law, would it not be a very good idea to evolve toward a different version by making the kind of changes he suggests?
I am not an expert in company law but I think the House will take it that I have had very extensive advice on this matter and I have entered into the discussion in a favourable frame of mind wanting to meet the main points raised. The main points are first that the functions would be continued. That is an important point but I suppose even more fundamental is that the employees' position will be protected. This amendment should be read in conjunction with the amendment to section 17, the third subsection of that amendment, which says:
If any of the companies is wound up, the functions of the company shall be exercised by the Board, and the Board shall accept into its employment without interruption of service all officers and servants employed by the company in consequence of subsection (4). Such officers and servants shall resume their employment with the Board on the same conditions of service as applied before the vesting day unless otherwise provided for in a collective agreement negotiated with any recognised trade union concerned.
If we are to go further than that you could have a situation, for instance, where a company owed money and had not got the money to pay and you have creditors owed money by the company and those creditors not being in a position to seek redress in court. A very major point arises here if not even a constitutional point. Secondly, there is an onus on directors of companies under the companies law not to continue trading if the company cannot meet their liabilities as they arise. You could have the situation where that might arise and the directors of the company would resign and you would be left with no direction for the company. For those reasons and bearing in mind that the principal concerns are the continuation of the services and the continuation of the employment, the wording I have come up with in this amendment and in amendment No. 17 is the best possible way of dealing with the situation.
Would the Leader of the House report progress?
We are well launched on the discussion of amendment No. 4 coupled with amendment No. 5. There seems to be very little difficulty about it. I understand Senator Killilea wants to make one brief point on the section itself. I suggest we carry on to dispose of the two amendments to the section before breaking.
May I just pursue the matter a little further because I acknowledge totally that the Minister, like myself, is trying to reach the optimum solution? The area that is not covered in the Bill or in the amendment before us is the area to do with a situation in which creditors might wish to make application or petition the court to wind up one or other of the subsidiary companies concerned. That right to creditors must at all times of course be guaranteed but what the amendment in my name is proposing is that that right is retained — the right of the creditors to petition the court for a winding up — but it is delayed somewhat to give the Oireachtas the opportunity to consider what steps it will take in the circumstances. Will it, for example, allow the petitioner to proceed to court without taking any action or, on the other hand, will the Oireachtas be prepared to initiate some activity of its own to avoid the need for the creditors to go to court? It is really an attempt to copperfasten a set of amendments that the Minister is making to cover this particular area. I accept very much that we have agreed amendments whereby the workforce and the services return to the main board in amendment 17 in the event of any winding up for any reason. I am still not quite clear why this small remaining piece in the jigsaw puzzle cannot be put into place, given that the creditor would retain the right to go to court under this amendment but would not be able to do so for a period of time while the Oireachtas considered what it would do in the circumstances.
Just one small comment: I can see both points, the point the Minister is making and the point Senator O'Mahony is making. They are very relevant points and the Minister has explained his position clearly. I would recommend the Minister to have another look particularly at the last point Senator O'Mahony has made. The other question which I think is pertinent is why is it just the Dáil? Why is it not the Oireachtas? What would happen on an occasion when the Dáil had dissolved and there was an election? The Oireachtas then totally comprises of the Seanad which has a power right through that time. I cannot see the logic of just using the Dáil and it is a point the Minister did not answer. I would like to know why the Seanad would be played down in this particular aspect.
On that point I would certainly be prepared to substitute "but passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas". If the amendment were accepted at Committee Stage I would propose to have it further amended at Report Stage to say "both Houses of the Oireachtas". One of the difficulties here is if Senator O'Mahony's wording were to be accepted you might very well find that people would not do business with the company on the basis that there was a danger that, in the event of the company running into financial difficulties, they would not have recourse to the courts until the Oireachtas decided and the Oireachtas might decide against and then where are the creditors? You are getting into a legal quagmire and that is the very strong advice available to me. I would repeat that the main concerns are that the functions of the company be continued and that the employment be continued. We are trying to avoid the pitfalls while making the maximum provision for the continuance of services and employment.
In the circumstances I am prepared to withdraw this amendment on the understanding that I can consider the points made by the Minister and see if there is a way in which they can be met. Obviously nothing can be done in this Bill by way of amendment which is not in accordance with normal legal practice. I see a problem here and I will see if I can come up with a way in which it can be met by an amendment for Report Stage.
You may remember that on Second Stage I felt, and I think the Minister agreed with me, that there was a lot lacking in the names given: Iarnród Éireann, Irish Rail, Bus Éireann, Irish Bus and Bus Átha Cliath, Dublin Bus. It is a poor effort. I thought the Minister would have come up with a brighter idea for naming. They are flat, non-attractive names. They mean what they say basically but I think in this modern age that we should have them up a little and given them appropriate names. For example, Irish Rail and Irish Bus are not attractive names. Because of the fact that I had earlier amendments down we were placed in the awkward situation in trying to change them through amendments. I could not change the names because it would complicate the whole process of Committee Stage. I appeal to the Minister, the staff of the CIE board and the wonderful staff in the Department of Communications to do something about the names. They do not meet the requirements of today.
I want to pay particular attention to Bus Atha Cliath or Dublin Bus. If we thought about it and called it Dublin City Transport, it would be an improvement. DART and Dublin Bus Services are part and parcel of the operation of the services of this city. I believe for the betterment of the services transferring DART into the Dublin city transport services is very important. I know there are certain complications and serious implications as regards the right of way over the rail track and so on. If a train leaves Wexford in the morning and it has to be at Bray at 9.46 a.m., and if that means what it says it has to be at Bray at 9.46 a.m., because the right over the rail line from Bray into the city of Dublin is then the train's right, not DART's right. If the DART service is travelling out from the city at 1.47 p.m. it must mean what it says because, if it does not travel at that time, it will affect the national rail service in or out of the city. It makes people realise the responsibility of being on time. If the Minister could do something to make the rail services respond to the meaning of the word "time" it would make a great difference to many people travelling, and business people in particular.
I travelled on a train the other day and it was three-quarters of an hour late getting to Dublin. That is not good enough. I had the misfortune to travel home recently on the Castlebar-Claremorris line at 5 p.m. and from Dublin to Athlone I could not get anything to eat because the dining carriage on the train was "broken". I was told it was "broken" for one full month. We can call these boards what we like, and we can call these companies what we like, and we can stand here with pious attitudes for as long as we like, but if that nonsense continues the business is finished. That is why I say that if you take DART into the Dublin city services you are compelling people to be on time. For the first time ever, they will have to be on time because, if they are not, there will be no track for them to travel on, both ways for DART and for rail. They have got to wake up to that fact. That is why I am asking the Minister to reconsider this. On Report Stage we still have a right to put down an amendment, I believe. I could not state my thoughts on changing the names now because that would complicate the position. People must be made responsible for being in time. We have a glorious opportunity to do that now.
Because you raised that point on Committee Stage you can put in an amendment for Report Stage.
Ní chuirfidh mé moill ar an Teach ach os rud é go bhfuil suim agam i gcúrsaí Gaeilge, caithfidh mé cúpla focal a rá. It is only because I attach an importance to the use of the Irish language and am involved in other areas to try to extend its usage that I really must agree with those who are unhappy with the titles. The old company name Córas Iompair Éireann, when translated means the Irish system of transport. There are two fundamental concepts: one is the concept of transport itself "iompair" and the other "córas" which is a concept of system. Where these three titles differ is that in fact they are descriptions of a single version or mode of transport. They make no reference to the concept of transport and they make no reference to the system which was in the old córas.
It would have been much better to have called these Córas Taisteal na hÉireann Iarnródacha or Córas Taisteal na hÉireann Busanna. I would even advise purely for the sake of our respect for the language itself that a change be made. It would have to be made on Report Stage anyhow because Bus Éireann means an Irish bus in translation. I am sorry to have to advise the House on that. Equally, Iarnród Éireann — I am not certain about the title of that — cannot be translated as anything other than an Irish piece of railway and also Bus Átha Cliath means a Dublin bus. I quite sincerely urge more felicitous use of the Irish language in this regard. There is an enormous amount of goodwill in the country towards the Irish language which has not been tapped properly. For that reason I urge different and more attractive titles.
I remember Myles na gCopaleen writing about An Lár and about The Centre and how it came to be, and how he used this term. These terms are quite unsatisfactory in a linguistic sense. They miss the generic meaning entirely, the matter of transport and the matter of there being a system of transport. With the old name, if you were dividing it up, you could say a system of transport by means of rail, a system of transport by means of urban bus, a system of transport by means of rail and bus service in rural areas. They are quite different and you would end up with a different form of words. It is only to be of assistance that I would urge the Minister between now and the next stage to think of an alternative formulation.
I am very interested to hear the points made by Senators Killilea and Higgins. I am not unsympathetic to what they are saying about the titles because I do not think they are very good titles. It is not that I did not do anything about it — I certainly did — before Second Stage and since Second Stage and we have not been able to come up with any better formulation. Tá an Seanadóir Ó hUiginn i bhfad níos feasa ná mé sa Ghaeilge and therefore I would not wish to dispute his literal translations of the titles. The titles have been provided for us by the linguistic experts available to the Houses of the Oireachtas.
What Senator Higgins has said could apply to Telecom Éireann, for instance, or Radio Éireann or Telefís Éireann. There seems to be a difficulty in the Irish language in taking trade names or thinking of imaginative trade names as Gaeilge but what is important is that we have a title which is generally understood and makes clear what service is being provided by the particular company. It is not just the Irish version of names that I do not like; I do not like the English ones either. Maybe I should have a prize for the best suggestion from Members of the House at Report Stage. I have given it a great deal of thought. I think the word "iarnród" is a fairly modern word in the Irish language; it sounds like a translation of "iron road". If Senators have any suggestions I would be delighted to hear them. I will continue to think about it.
Senator Killilea referred to the DART and its place. This is something that was considered at great length, whether it should be in Dublin city services or with the railways. Having given it very careful consideration it was considered right that it should remain with the railways, that it had more in common with the railways than it would have with the city bus services. This is influenced by the fact that we are retaining CIE as a group and that of course there will be co-ordination. For instance, we know there are feeder bus services already from city buses into the DART and I hope there will be more of those. When you think of not just sharing the slots on the railway for times of different trains passing, there is also maintenance and drivers and so on and the interchangeability of people. The correct place for the DART is with the railway company.
Senator Killilea also spoke about trains being on time. I agree with the Senator and assure him that every effort will continue to be made by the board and myself to have the trains run on time. My understanding is that the record of the Irish railways, especially in recent years, has greatly improved and compares quite favourably with railway systems elsewhere. Inevitably there will be delays. Criticism is sometimes made that the train from Rosslare leaves on time and does not wait for the boat. There is a certain validity in that criticism. If a boat is going to be half an-hour late it seems that there is a strong case for the train to wait, unless there are stronger countervailing arguments, for the boat. You may have some other unavoidable delay. I agree in general with Senator Killilea's point. The train and bus services should as far as is possible be on time. I have seen bus services in some cities in Europe where you know the very minute at each bus stop that the bus will arrive. People can be there one minute in advance and not be there 10 minutes earlier in case it comes a few minutes earlier or arrive 10 minutes late in the belief that it is going to be late anyway. I have seen a situation in West Berlin where buses can be timed per stop within a minute of their scheduled time. I would aspire to that sort of service; I am sure the public would be appreciative of that service also, as would everybody in CIE.
Just one further point — the DART is not a great name. Tá cúpla focal agamsa sa Gaeilge, ach beagáin. This Dublin Bus is a horrible thing: it is an obnoxious name, we have to get away from it. Irish Rail or Irish Bus is not as bad, but Dublin Bus is as flat as a pancake. I think you should call it Dublin City Transport Services. If Senator Michael D. Higgins can transfer that into Irish with a blas I would appreciate it. I think it envisions transport service within the city. If you do it with the buses you must include DART. I am appealing to you to reconsider this matter so as to avoid putting down amendments and going through this procedure all over again.
If there are any suggestions, I will certainly consider them.
I think the line of approach is that of which we have an example, Telecom Éireann which translated can embrace telecommunications. The difficulty about these titles is that they are identified with a particular part or mode of the service rather than the service itself. Perhaps all of us can think between now and Report Stage and if we can be of assistance, we should.