I propose to take Questions Nos. 93 and 153 together.
These questions relate to my engagement with the haulage industry. I know that Deputies Áine Collins and Heather Humphreys have been seriously involved in issues relating to the haulage sector since their election. I recognise the important role of the sector in the transport of goods and the difficulties it is facing in the current climate. My officials and I have met representative organisations on several occasions and I am due to meet them again in the coming days.
One of the main concerns of the sector is fuel prices. My colleague, the Minister for Finance, has established a working group to examine taxes and duties on fuel. I understand this group has completed its work and reported back to the Minister. The industry has also expressed concerns about unfair competition from illegal and unlicensed hauliers which I was able to address in the Road Transport Act 2011 which substantially increased fines for illegal hauliers and consignors who use them, of up to €500,000 and three years in prison.
To improve services for operators, my Department is working on a computer project to go live in early 2013. It will provide an online licence application system and also allow operators to view and manage their own fleet records with the Department. The project will also support compliance monitoring and enforcement by facilitating communication with enforcement authorities throughout the European Union.
Another issue of interest to some haulage operators is cabotage carried out in the United Kingdom. I have met my UK counterpart on this issue and the two Departments are working together to identify what progress can be made on a bilateral basis.
Road safety is clearly important for the haulage sector. The Oireachtas recently enacted legislation that will transform the system for the roadworthiness testing of commercial vehicles. This will lead to an improvement in the quality and safety of commercial vehicles on the roads, thereby enhancing the reputation of the haulage industry. In addition, following representations from the industry and consultation with the relevant road safety and enforcement agencies, earlier this year I signed a statutory instrument into law increasing the maximum speed limit on motorways for heavy goods vehicles, HGVs, from 80 km/h to 90 km/h.