Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Friday, 11 Apr 1924

Vol. 6 No. 40


I move the Second Reading of the Bill. The subject of railway re-organisation has been under constant consideration for over a year, and has been tentatively discussed several times in the Dáil. Deputies will, therefore, need no assurances from me that before arriving at the solution of the problem embodied in this Bill every aspect of the matter has been given long and patient examination.

The main elements of the problem can best be explained by reference to the White Paper prepared for the information of Deputies in considering the Bill. The railways dealt with in the main provisions of the Bill are those wholly within the Saorstát, and the White Paper gives such particulars as are necessary to understand the general position of those undertakings to-day. These railways fall into two groups, the baronially guaranteed lines which are shown in italics in the White Paper and what I may call the main line companies.

There will be found in the White Paper particulars of all the railway companies wholly in the Saorstát dealt with in the Bill, of their capital and of their net earned income over a period of years beginning in 1909. This net earned income is not quite the same as the net revenue. To obtain the latter figure there has to be added the payments made on account of baronial guarantees, and, in the years before 1913, other minor adjustments would require also to be made. Railway accounts were placed on a new basis in 1913. But the particulars given in the White Paper will enable Deputies to appreciate with sufficient accuracy the fluctuations over a long period of years in the earnings of railway companies.

It will be seen that from 1909 to 1913 the annual net earned income rose constantly. The 1913 figure is the peak figure, and it has not been reached since. British Government control covered the period from January, 1917, to August, 1921, and since that date the annual net receipts have fallen very considerably below the 1913 figure. The main cause of the fall was, of course, the damage and destruction caused during the times of trouble in this country, and it is the fact that since British Government control ceased, the railway companies have not had a normal year. For the payment of the usual dividends in 1922 and, to a less extent, in 1923, the sums paid to the companies by the British Government in compensation for control have had, in some cases, to be drawn on, and there is not very much of those sums left.

It is impossible at present to say what the annual net revenue of the companies would be in a normal year. But the results of 1922 and 1923, even when full allowance is made for reductions in traffic and losses due to damage and destruction are such as to raise doubts whether the railway system unless radically re-organised, could with reasonable charges yield its shareholders the returns they received in the past. Working expenses have increased enormously since 1913, and the efforts made to reduce them in recent years have, for one cause or another, not produced great results. It is true, of course, that the rise in working expenses has been accompanied by a very considerable increase in freights, but the possibilities of recoupment in this way have obvious limitations. Diminished traffic must ultimately result from increases in rates, and in any event, it is universally agreed that the present level of railway rates in this country is unbearable. Rates must be substantially reduced, but some doubts have been expressed as to how far this can be done with justice to the interests of railway stock-holders. The view which the Government takes on this point will appear when I come to deal with the detailed provisions of this Bill, but I may say that the Government anticipates that the radical changes for which the Bill provides, if operated with energy and ability, will amply secure the interests of shareholders.

Turning now to the baronially guaranteed railways, Deputies will find in the White Paper a table giving details of the guarantees in respect of dividends in 1913. Briefly, the position of these railways is that the baronies in which they are situated are in law liable for a guarantee of the dividends on the paid-up share capital, and also for any losses on working that the lines may incur. From the Table in the White Paper the manner in which the guarantees operated in 1913, can be seen. The total amount necessary to pay dividends on the paid-up share capital is £50,648. Of this amount, the Great Southern and Western Company guarantees £1,960 per annum in respect of the Tuam and Claremorris Line. The remainder, viz.: £48,688, is a liability of the baronies subject to their right to recover from the Treasury an amount equal to one-half of what they pay under their guarantee up to a maximum of 2 per cent. on the capital of the railways. Translated into figures this means, as shown in the Table, that the Treasury has a maximum liability of £20,586 and the baronies of £28,102 per annum.

In 1913 neither party had to meet its maximum liability. Some of the lines made a profit and the liability of the baronies in that year amounted only to £21,298. This sum was subsequently reduced by some £6,500 received from the Local Taxation Account under a provision in the Local Government Act, 1898, whereby that account is made available for relief of the railway rate to the extent of one-half of the amount by which that rate exceeds 6d. in the £.

During British control the baronies generally were not called on to pay more than they paid in 1913, and it would not be easy to determine exactly what the results of working the baronial lines were under control. Since control ceased in 1921 the position has been very different. The group of baronial railways mentioned in the Table actually made a working loss of approximately £107,000 in 1922. According to the law, therefore, the baronies were liable in 1922 not only for their maximum contributions to dividends, viz., £28,102, but also for a further £107,000 to meet losses in working. 1922 was, of course, an abnormal year, and in 1923 the loss on working fell to approximately £30,000. But even in that year it will be seen that the liabilities of the baronies were nearly four times as great as their actual net payments in 1913.

Needless to say, the baronies have not met these liabilities, and I do not think they have been asked to. The lines have kept open by using their share of the amounts received as compensation for control from the British Government, but these amounts are approaching exhaustion, and under the present system, some at any rate, of these baronial lines cannot go on much longer.

The essential features of the problem we have to consider, therefore, are these: The main line system in its present form is doubtfully remunerative, even with rates much higher than the trade of the country can bear, and the smaller lines have no prospect of continuing except by imposing burdens on the baronies which the baronies could not reasonably be asked to sustain. That is the problem briefly stated; it is obviously not a simple one, and it is certainly not one to be disposed of by a phrase.

Fortunately, it is a problem on which much light has been thrown by Commissions, Royal and other, that have examined it at intervals. All of them arrived at one agreed conclusion, that the Irish railway system was the victim of too many independent managements, and that it plainly needed concentration of control. The experts differed as to the best form of control, but that it should be unified as far as practicable they were unanimous. It has often been remarked that the mileage of the whole railway system of Ireland does not amount to that of one of the old trunk line systems in Great Britain before 1921, in which year much larger groups were formed, and the task of managing the whole of the Irish system has, with some exaggeration, been represented as a light and agreeable part-time occupation.

At the beginning of our investigations it was left to the main line companies to submit any proposals they had to make with regard to the first obvious step to be taken, namely, the elimination of redundant managements, the Government expressing a leaning towards unification, but indicating its readiness to consider with an open mind the railway companies' views on the matter. The companies spent some considerable time on discussions between themselves, and the Government showed considerable patience in awaiting the result so that it could not be charged thereafter, with thrusting any theoretical devices of its own on the practical men engaged in the business.

From the outset the Government indicated that it was not prepared to force on any of the lines operating both in the Saorstát and the Six Counties any arbitrary divisions of their undertakings at the boundary. Had those lines voluntarily made proposals for re-organisation consistent with the public interest of the Saorstát the Government was fully prepared to give them every consideration. But it was and is convinced that any proposal to divide those undertakings into two parts at the present boundary, involving as it would the formation of two new companies, one in the Saorstát and one in Northern Ireland, with all the complications of a revaluation of shares and division of stock and equipment, and another adjustment all over again when the boundary is finally determined—involving, possibly, when Ireland attains to her inevitable unity, the entire reversal of all these adjustments—would neither be good business, good politics, nor good sense. None of these companies have come forward with any proposal to alter their present position, and under the circumstances that exist to-day, the Government does not intend that they should be forced to adopt such a proposal. It is not in any sense necessary to a sound re-organisation scheme for the railways situated wholly within the Saorstát.

After a number of months the discussions between the companies bore some fruit. A provisional agreement was arrived at between the Great Southern and Western Company, the Midland Great Western Company, and the Cork, Bandon and South Coast for amalgamation, and they were joined shortly afterwards by the Cork and Macroom Company and the Cork, Blackrock and Passage. Accepting the view that companies crossing the boundary could not at present be amalgamated with the companies wholly in the Saorstát, this provisional agreement provided for all the larger companies of the Saorstát except the Dublin and South-Eastern Company. As it was all along obvious that the larger companies would have to be made responsible for the baronially guaranteed lines, the companies' discussion of the position had by this time practically, resulted in the conclusion that all lines wholly within the Saorstát should be amalgamated, the position of the Dublin and South-Eastern Company alone remaining undecided.

I should explain that the Dublin and South Eastern Company had made itself responsible for a wholly different scheme based on wholly different principles. This scheme I will deal with in detail later on. The Government, after close and careful examination, could not approve this scheme and decided that there were many good reasons in favour of and no convincing reason against amalgamating the Dublin and South Eastern with all the other Saorstát companies. Thus, I will not say by general agreement, but at any rate with the Dublin and South Eastern Company alone objecting, a scheme of unification was approved. From the beginning the Government inclined to a scheme of unification, and for these reasons: The primary object of re-organisation is a reduction in railway rates. From the figures I have quoted earlier it will be seen that the best prospect of securing this object, consistently with a fair deal for railway shareholders, was by effecting every possible economy in the management and working of the lines and by eliminating all waste and overlapping. The greater the number of units concentrated under one control the greater the possible economies. Moreover, the main lines had to become responsible for the baronial lines, and whatever burden this might mean would obviously be lightened by placing it on as many shoulders as possible. No Saorstát line could be left out of the unified undertaking if it was to take its fair share of responsibility for the baronial lines, and, at the same time, by sharing in economies, brought to a maximum by having the largest possible area for their operation, to give its users the benefit of the greatest possible reductions in rates. To leave out the Dublin and South Eastern line, for instance, would mean that the other main lines became responsible for its proper share of the baronial lines, though under the provisions of the Bill that is a small matter; the more serious objection is that the Dublin and South Eastern would then not be one inch advanced towards any possible reductions in its rates below their present level.

I have said that an alternative proposal was put forward through the Dublin and South Eastern Company. It is remarkable that only one alternative to unification has been put forward after the many months given to examining the question, and Deputies will, therefore, have only two schemes between which to decide. The alternative proposal was as follows:—

1. The Dublin and South Eastern and Midland Great Western were to amalgamate and the Great Northern line as far as Dundalk was to be joined with this group.

If the Midland Great Western was committed to the Great Southern (as was the case) the group was then to consist of the Dublin and South Eastern and Great Northern to Dundalk.

2. Running powers were to be arranged (it has never been explained how or with whom) over the Great Northern from Dundalk to Derry or other connection with the Donegal railways.

3. The group was to exercise running powers from Waterford to Limerick and Cork.

4. The other companies in the Saorstát were to be formed into a second group.

5. To round off the scheme the possibility of a railway from Bundoran to Sligo was adumbrated in vague terms.

6. So far as legislation in the Saorstát could bring this scheme about it reduced itself to a group consisting of the Dublin and South Eastern and the Great Northern up to the Boundary, competing with the second group for traffic at Limerick and Cork.

This scheme has not secured the approval or, indeed, the serious consideration of any of the companies except the Dublin and South Eastern. From the Government's point of view, it involves the splitting of the Great Northern with a ragged edge cut in 14 places at the boundary, whatever voluntary arrangements someone might thereafter make with someone else for running powers over the boundary. The group, so far as we had any control over it, would not be self-contained, and I have already given the reasons for regarding a division of the Great Northern Railway as impracticable. The group is then to compete for traffic at Limerick and Cork by running over the Waterford to Limerick railway. Now, the greater part of the Waterford-Limerick line is a single line, and the Dublin and South Eastern from Bray to Waterford is also a single line, not constructed for fast, heavy traffic. This route, which is very roundabout, could not be made an effective alternative route from Limerick and Cork to Dublin without a very large expenditure. We have not been informed as to who would provide the necessary funds, but it is not likely that the lean end of the Great Northern Company or the Dublin and South Eastern in its present financial condition, could or would do so. The Dublin and South Eastern cannot be taken very seriously in recommending an expensive scheme which it would be totally unable to carry out itself, and in which its intended partner, the Great Northern Railway, has no faith at all.

The main justification given for this scheme is that it would provide competition and so reduce rates. Now there is very little scope for competition to-day. Such competition as exists is practically limited to cross-channel traffic, and it is principally with cross-channel traffic in mind that this grouping scheme has been devised. Competition in any real sense for local traffic could not be provided by the existing railways, and to secure it new lines would have to be constructed at a very large cost.

Suppose the Government were to accept the view that the proper method of re-organising the Irish railways was to adopt this scheme for creating an intensified competition for cross-channel traffic, what would be the result? Someone would have to spend large sums of money on doubling and strengthening the South Eastern line and the Waterford to Limerick line. Else the competition would not be effective; the Dublin and South Eastern Company to-day has the right to run over the Waterford-Limerick line, but it prefers to the exercise of that right a payment of considerably less than £3,000 a year. How would a return on this great expenditure be obtained? Not, obviously, from cross-channel traffic; that is to be carried at reduced competitive rates. Local traffic, for which there is little or no competition, would have to pay-and pay through greatly increased rates, the present charges being barely sufficient to yield the ordinary dividends and a great deal of fresh capital having by hypothesis been spent on which a return must be obtained. The disparity between through and local rates, which is already a grievance of Irish manufacturers, would be immensely increased.

And what of the other group in the meantime? It is general knowledge that some of the most serious difficulties of the Irish railway companies arise from the fact that the substantial centres of traffic are widely distant, that the companies have long hauls with little opportunity to add to their revenue en route; in short, that there is barely sufficient traffic to go round. If, therefore, one of the two groups proposed in this scheme succeeded in abstracting any substantial quantity of traffic from the other, that other would be left with a business reduced below the existing remunerative minimum, and (if it did not sell itself to its victorious competitor) would have to make large additions to its rates in order to keep its head above water. Such additions, presumably, could not be put on to the competitive cross-channel traffic, and would have to be borne entirely by the rates for local traffic. I should add that the Dublin and South Eastern group does not propose to take any responsibility for the baronial lines —the other group is to take the whole of it.

The only remedy I have heard suggested for the obvious defects in this scheme is that they should be left vaguely for the beneficence of the big English company to remedy. We are to depend on the spending by the big English companies of large sums of money in competing against each other for cross-channel traffic while internal traffic, like Cinderella, humbly awaits the appearance, some time or another, of a fairy godmother.

Now the big English companies have done a great deal for Irish trade, and they are rich and powerful corporations. Their continued services are of great importance to Irish trade, and I was gratified to notice statements recently made in London indicating that these services would continue and be developed. There is nothing in this Bill to discourage the English companies. Their present position is maintained and protected by it. All the agreements and arrangements on the faith of which they have incurred expenditure on their Irish services remain entirely unaltered, they have ample scope for new agreements in the future. It would, however, be expecting too much of them that they should plunge into a large and unremunerative expenditure on our account, and even if they were inclined to do so the British Railways Act of 1921 contains stringent checks on any such inclination. The British Rates Tribunal will see that British railway companies do not engage in any such orgy of uneconomic expenditure as the Dublin and South Eastern would have us rely on. No Irish Government could seriously propound as a scheme of re-organisation for the Irish railways, their being dangled as a prize before rival English companies, interested in the development of one side only of our railway service. We can ensure the due development of that side, without leaving the future of the other to chance. By making the most, under Irish control, of our existing system in the way provided for in this Bill, we leave ample scope for future competition at the ports in cross-channel traffic, but such competition will be concentrated at the ports and not disorganise or complicate the internal economy of our transport system.

On this subject of competition there are one or two quotations I would like to give to the Dáil. In a book on the Irish railways, written by a gentleman who has held and still holds a very responsible position in the railway world —and who must have listened on a recent occasion to statements by the chairman of his company with much uneasiness—I find this:—

The advantages of railway competition in Ireland are greatly overrated by the public. From the nature of things it is physically impossible that effective railway competition should exist in Ireland except between a very few favoured pairs of places. Moreover, competition is, in most places, only a temporary expedient, and the keener it is the stronger the inducement to bring it to an end by compromise. Railway managers, if they are wise, will be constantly on the look-out for opportunities for terminating antagonism at competing points by some sort of mutual arrangement.

That does not encourage us to leave everything to competition between the big English companies.

Will the President give us the author's name?

I will have to look up the author's name. In the 1910 report of the Scotter Commission, perhaps the most expert of all the Commissions that have considered the Irish railway question, there are conclusions to the following effect:—

1. For internal traffic the Irish railways are essentially non-competitive.

2. Very few places in the country are linked by more than one line of rail communication.

3. The only effect of competition between railways is a tendency to increase the cost of working and thus prevent or delay reductions in railway tariffs.

4. Such competition benefits neither the companies nor the public.

5. The Irish companies appeared to be following the lead of the great English companies in discontinuing competition and substituting the more economical and profitable system of pooling receipts. The economies in working to be secured by such arrangements would go, normally, to increase dividends while railways remained in the hands of commercial companies, while a public administration would be more likely to avail of them to reduce charges.

6. Through traffic with Great Britain was essentially competitive and would remain so under unification. A unified administration, whether public or private, would direct through traffic as far as practicable by the shortest route, resulting in more economical working and increased net revenue, available for dividend or reduction of rates.

Deputies will, no doubt, ponder these very definite statements by experts on the subject of competition.

To put the case against this grouping proposal shortly, it offers no present remedy at all for what I have stated to be the two chief elements in the railway problem: firstly, the excessive rates on traffic, particularly internal traffic, and, secondly, the difficulties of the smaller lines, unless it is a remedy for the latter problem to tack the whole of them on to your rival's group. The scheme is really one which leaves the future of the Saorstát railways partly to chance and partly to external exploitation, with the constant risk of every benefit it is supposed to confer being swept away in a night by such an agreement between these external interests, as the Scotter Commission thought to be an obvious point of railway policy. The Dublin and South Eastern has recently suggested that if the virtues of the proposal which it has made are not immediately apparent it should be left in its present position to make such arrangements hereafter as it may consider beneficial. I would ask the public dependent on that line what it thinks of having to shoulder the burden of the present rates and fares for an indefinite time; because that company, standing alone, can do little to reduce them, and I would remind the company that the rôle of an outpost waiting on the turn of events here, is a rôle for which there is now no scope.

The Government has no hesitation in preferring the plan in this Bill, but I have explained in detail the nature of the only other plan submitted to it so that Deputies may judge of its merits themselves.

Now, unification is itself open to definite objections. It creates a monopoly against which the public must be protected. The Bill contains many provisions for this purpose, the principal being those creating a judicial tribunal, which, and not the monopoly, has the sole right to fix its charges. The same judicial tribunal has power to decide complaints as to the services rendered and facilities provided for railway traffic. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has the right of access to this tribunal, on all questions affecting the public interest. He has also the fullest powers of investigation into the whole management and working of the unified undertaking. The basis prescribed for the fixing of rates is such that while the interests of the railway shareholders are reasonably safeguarded, the management of the unified undertaking is given the necessary incentives to economy and efficiency. In every direction in which the public interest might be prejudiced by the unification scheme ample checks have, in our judgment, been provided, but if it is shown that there is anything we have overlooked we will be glad to consider provision for it also.

Special interests have represented that the Bill would prejudice them, and in particular certain members of the Port Board of Dublin have expressed anxiety. Its case, as put to the Government, was that under an agreement between the Great Southern and Western Company and the Great Western Company of England all traffic is to be diverted to Rosslare, that after unification this will apply to the whole unified undertaking, and that to secure the Port of Dublin against these dangers reorganisation should be based on the policy of promoting internal competition in the Saorstát between English companies.

Now, the agreement with the Great Western Company of England does not provide for the diversion of all traffic via Rosslare, but merely of unconsigned traffic arising on certain defined parts of the Great Southern system, traffic normally amounting to about 10 per cent. of the total cross-channel traffic of that company; the Bill specifically provides for the maintenance of this agreement, but definitely limits its operation to those parts of the undertakings to be unified to which at present it applies; lastly, while the interests of the Port of Dublin are of undoubted importance, that importance is not so overwhelming as to justify us in subordinating to them the whole future of the railways of the Saorstát under a scheme which we regard as essentially unsound. All Saorstát ports are fully protected under the provisions of the Bill, and if any of them are prejudiced in competing for traffic, it will not be by reason of the railway services rendered by the unified undertaking. There are, in fact, provisions included in the Bill of general effect for the protection of the ports, which in a particular case, the Port of Dublin has effectively invoked for its own protection in the past. I may observe again that, as a matter of obvious good faith, the Bill maintains all other agreements between English and Irish companies, such as that between the Dublin and South Eastern and London, Midland and Scottish Companies, similar in its general effect to the one between the Great Southern and Western and the Great Western of England.

It is, perhaps, desirable that I should deal plainly with what is generally known, that the principal fears of those who objected to the scheme in this Bill are based on the obsession that it puts the Great Southern and Western Company in control of the Saorstát railways, that that company having commitments with one of the English companies, will use its influence to the prejudice of the other and of the ports in which that other is interested, and that in effect the Bill gives the Great Southern Company an autocratic monopoly in railway traffic. Now I do not pretend that any railway company is a disinterested body. I have not met any railway directors who neglected an opportunity to advance their company's interests, nor have I met many to whom the directors of a rival company were not the objects of an almost feverish suspicion and hostility. No doubt these feelings arise out of past experience, but the area of railway competition has progressively diminished, and no Government need base its railway policy on the mutual suspicions of the past. It is everywhere recognised that railway companies must submit to a large increase of public supervision, and I would ask any sane person who studies this Bill dispassionately, whether, in reason and in fairness, it can possibly be described as a Bill to hand over the railways to the will and pleasure of the Great Southern Company, or of any other company. If the Bill has that effect nothing is further from our interition, and we are ready—it is known that we are ready—to make any amendments necessary to give effect to what is our intention, that our domestic railway system should be made as efficient and economical as our resources permit, to serve the trade of the country without favouring any internal interest or discriminating against any external one. We do not intend, nor will we permit, this Bill to be used by any one party to further its own private interests or to prejudice those of others.

Another objection has been urged to the scheme in the Bill. It is said that the competition of the lines crossing the boundary which are not included in unification, will prejudice the Saorstát. The Port of Dublin makes this point, so it is evidently not whole-hearted in its advocacy of competition. Now this competition exists to-day, and I fail to see how the Saorstát or any particular interest is prejudiced by a scheme designed to fortify the Saorstát lines—a scheme that by increasing their efficiency while reducing their rates, must greatly assist those lines to face any competition.

Can the President say how you can control the rates beyond the border?

I will be able to explain that when we come to the Committee Stage, to the Deputy's perfect satisfaction. The units in the amalgamated undertaking will, as the result of this Bill, be in a stronger not a weaker, position to cope with competition from the North. It has been said that this is not true of the main lines since they will have to accept the burden of the baronial lines. When we come to the details of the Bill Deputies will see that there is nothing in this point—the baronial lines involve a negligible, if any, burden, and it is many times counterbalanced by the advantages that will accrue to the main line from unification. I do not think traders will see any disadvantage in having for the time being alternative routes across the boundary open to them, nor do I think the closing of those routes in the interest of any particular port could be defended. They will serve as a stimulus both to the railways and the ports in the Saorstát, to provide the services that traders require.

I have now dealt with the main points of policy in the Bill, and will only deal briefly with some of its more important details. They will, of course, be fully considered in Committee.

In providing for the judicial fixing of rates it is necessary to determine the basis on which they should be fixed. For this purpose we have adopted the principles of the British Railways Act of 1921, and have provided that the rates should be such as will yield a certain standard annual net revenue, provided the management is economical and efficient. This standard revenue, which represents approximately the sum divisible as profits, we have fixed at the average of the three years ending in 1913. In England the year 1913 was adopted for this purpose, and the Irish companies naturally pressed us to do the same. But as will be seen from the White Paper, the net revenue in 1913 was the peak figure. It had never been reached before, and notwithstanding greatly increased charges, has not been attained since, though admittedly the companies have not had a normal year since. In our view, it is not wise for the railway proprietors to demand a standard which they might have difficulty in attaining, and which may be inconsistent with such a level of charges as the trade of the country must have. Though, in our opinion, the scope for economies in the railways to be unified is large, it naturally cannot be so large as among the very much bigger undertakings out of which the new British groups were formed. The British groups, therefore, had much more chance of maintaining a higher revenue out of the same or a lower level of rates. If, notwithstanding the great increase in working expenses, shareholders receive the average of the three best normal years in the history of the railways, and after any year in which the railways earn more, retain 20 per cent. of the increase, they should be well content. We have accordingly provided that the standard revenue should be the average net revenue of the three years ending in 1913. The average earned income in these three years amounts to £1,088,233. To arrive at the net revenue there must be added the contributions in respect of the baronial lines. These amounted to £36,225 in 1913. The precise amounts for 1911 and 1912 have not yet been ascertained, but they may be taken at about the same figure. The total average net revenue thus becomes, approximately, £1,124,458, and this is exclusive of the interest allowance in respect of additional capital expenditure since that date.

The capital ranking for dividend is £27,310,334. £1,124,458 represents 4.12 per cent. on this capital.


Actual. The figure of 3.48 per cent. quoted in the statement issued by the railway companies, therefore, gravely misrepresents the true effect of the Bill on railway shareholders. I must take this occasion of deploring the too common tendency in business circles and the Press to rush into print with inaccurate comments on Government proposals based on imperfect examination of those proposals. Responsible business men should be slow to make statements from a partisan point of view, which, as in this case, are not supported by the facts and tend to undermine that public confidence which is essential to the prosperity of business. The statement that scant consideration is shown for shareholders by this Bill is, in the light of the figures I have quoted, absolutely without justification. It might, with greater accuracy, be said that what does receive scant consideration, at least from railway companies, is the fact that rates here are 150 per cent. or more over 1913 rates, while on the British railways the increase is only 50 per cent. I think the railway companies now realise that most of the over-hasty criticisms of the Bill contained in their statement results from misunderstanding the effect of the Bill, and that, on re-consideration, they cannot be substantiated. Experience only will show whether the consideration shareholders are in fact given is consistent with a reasonable level of railway charges.

Some, though not all, of the railway companies profess to regard the economies to be secured by unification as comparatively small. I think this is rather their "brief" than their real anticipation. It would not be a wise attitude for them to adopt, because unless they are able, by their ability and efficiency and with all the opportunities given them by this Bill, to provide adequate services at reasonable rates, I think the country may be forced to adopt some other scheme for running the railways.

Very soon, too.

I hope not. Personally, I am no expert, but I am quite confident that if they put their minds to it—and a satisfactory service depends as much on their doing that as on the shape given to the railway system by any legislative measure—the companies will make good on the basis of this Bill. By making good I mean, chiefly, providing the services the country requires at rates the country can afford to pay. On any basis more favourable to the shareholders than the Bill provides their future would be more doubtful, while as it is, if they can do better than it anticipates, they retain a share of the improvement gained in each year so that they can steadily progress.

The next point to touch on is the arrangements relating to the baronial lines. So far as the unified undertaking is concerned, it will be expected to provide for any losses in working the baronial lines, while it will receive from the Government for a period of ten years an amount equivalent to the dividends on the capital of those lines. Now, I have said that the losses on working the baronial lines in 1922 was £107,000. In 1923 this dropped to £30,000, and that was a year in which the effects of the disorders were still being felt and traffic was still dislocated. In a normal year the loss on working should not exceed at the very worst £20,000 and of this at least one-half should be saved by bringing the baronial lines under one management. Since the normal working expenses of the undertakings to be unified amount to about 4½ millions, a sum of £10,000 more or less is really negligible. Having a direct incentive to do so, the unified undertaking will no doubt reduce this figure nearly to vanishing point in a very short time.

The figure of £41,000 quoted in the statement issued by the railway companies is, in our view, a serious overestimate, and that statement makes the wholly false point that the loss, whatever it is, will fall on the shareholders of other companies. On the contrary, it must be met out of railway charges, so that the shareholders may receive their standard net revenue. In any event, even if the loss amounted to what seems to us the fantastic figure of £41,000, this would only mean 1¾d. in the ton on the rates for merchandise traffic. The railway companies' own statement quotes 2½d. in the ton as a negligible figure.

With regard to the payment to be made by the Government, it will be seen from the White Paper that the guarantee of dividends is in part a liability of the baronies and in part of the Government. The Government will, for ten years, find an amount equal to its maximum liability; we are asking the baronies to find for the same period the amount they found in 1913. Thus, of a total annual sum of £48,688, the Government will provide £20,586 and the baronies £21,298; the remainder will be provided by the Local Taxation Account. Since in 1913 the baronies were subsequently relieved out of this account to the extent of some £6,500 they will, under the provisions of the Bill, be paying £6,500 more than their actual net payment in 1913. But this increase is a very moderate amount, compared with their legal liabilities under present conditions which, in respect of dividends, amount to more than £28,000, and in respect of losses on working, to whatever those losses may be. Moreover, their whole liability, now in most cases perpetual, will terminate in ten years. Since, in certain cases, the Bill would involve some increases in the local rate for railways as compared with the year 1913 powers are taken, on the application of any County Council, to spread the rate over a wider area than at present, over the whole country, if desired, and thereby to lighten its incidence. Particular baronies have borne the whole burden for a great many years, and it is anticipated that some Councils, at any rate, will be prepared to ask the whole of their county to see these payments through for the ten years that remain, it being undeniable that the whole of some counties gains definite benefits, direct or indirect, from the maintenance in it of these baronial railway services.

The limit of ten years after which the unified undertaking will continue without payments from the Government has been fixed, because as a plain matter of business the unified undertaking will, before the expiration of that period, either have realised our expectations to an extent which will make baronial dividends a negligible item, or else will have been replaced by some other system. An arrangement which necessitated the maintenance of guarantees after a period of ten years could not be regarded as a final or satisfactory solution of the Irish railway problem.

The arrangement by which some of the larger companies are to be amalgamated first and the smaller companies then absorbed is adopted simply as a matter of convenience. If each company has to negotiate with all the others the discussion and settlement of terms, by agreement or by the tribunal, would go on interminably. If the larger companies are first amalgamated as the nucleus of the scheme half the work is done, and decisions as to the terms on which the others are to be absorbed are then much simplified.

There are not many other points to which I need refer now. Though there is a detailed agreement in operation governing the procedure for dealing with questions of wages and conditions of employment on the railways, we have not scheduled it to this Bill, as was done in England, because the creation of the unified undertaking will presumably involve corresponding changes in the wording of the agreement. We have, however, provided for any such agreement being given official recognition so far as it may be desired.

The present charges made by the railway companies result from an Order issued by the British Minister of Transport in 1920. As the fixing by the railway tribunal of the new standard charges must necessarily take a considerable time, we have provided for an interim review by the tribunal within three months from the passing of the Bill, of the rates authorised by that Order, so that if there has been a change of circumstances since it was made the change may be reflected in modifications of the rates.

Certain powers relating to the railways crossing the Boundary are taken by the Bill. Provision is made for the tribunal to hear any applications by traders or the companies for modifications in existing rates for conveyance on the lines within the Saorstát, which the tribunal will determine by reference to the reasonableness or otherwise of those rates. This corresponds to a similar power retained by the British Government in respect of rates on these railways across the Border. The Bill also requires all railway companies operating in the Saorstát to make full disclosure of any agreements relating to the conveyance of traffic originating in or destined for the Saorstát.

Questions relating to canals and inland waterways have recently been discussed in the Dáil. An inquiry supplemental to that of the Canal Commission and directed primarily to the commercial aspects of inland navigation is now proceeding, but we are not yet in a position, even if the necessary funds were available, to put forward a drastic scheme of re-organisation for the Canals. The old Railways and Canals Commission, however, had power to deal with questions relating to the facilities and accommodation provided for traffic on the canals and this power is transferred to the Tribunal under the Bill. Charges on canals are at present regulated by orders which the Minister for Industry and Commerce has power to revise under the Statutory Undertakings (Continuance of Charges) (No. 2) Act, 1923, after reference to a body called the Rates Advisory Committee. The Bill substitutes for that Committee the Railway Tribunal, so that it is on the advice of the Tribunal the Minister will act in any revision of existing charges. Canal undertakings are empowered by the Bill to complain of exceptional competitive rates instituted by railway companies. So that this Bill, while it does not purport to effect a re-organisation of the inland waterways, does give the users of them definite means of redressing grievances in respect of charges, accommodation and facilities for traffic and against undue rate-cutting by rival railway undertakings.

Does this Bill include control of the Royal Canal by the new amalgamated company?

Yes. The suggestion was at one time made that the Government should nominate some directors on the unified Railway Board, but, after careful consideration, this suggestion was not adopted. Such directors would be in an anomalous position with a divided responsibility. It is preferable o take powers, as is done in the Bill, for the Ministry for Industry and Commerce to obtain full information about all details affecting the working of the undertaking; with these powers and the right for the Ministry to appear in proceedings before the Tribunal the public interest should be amply safeguarded.

These are all the points into which, I think, it is necessary to go at this stage. All I have to add is this—the Government puts forward this scheme as the only one which, after close and unprejudiced examination, it believes to be consistent with the public interests of the Saorstát as a whole. It is a scheme which strikes a fair balance between the interests of railway proprietors on the one hand, and traders and public on the other; it provides equally for our internal and our external traffic; for main lines and for baronial lines it preserves undiminished all the present rights and interests of English companies and of Northern companies without surrendering or derogating from our economic independence. And, lastly, it secures, in a reasonable and at the same time effective manner, for the necessary public supervision over an essential service.

Are we to adjourn now?

The Dáil stands adjourned until 2.30, when Deputy Hewat will resume the debate

The Dáil adjourned at 1.30 p.m. and resumed at 2.45 p.m., An Ceann Comhairle in the Chair.

We listened with pleasure this morning to the President's explanation of the Bill before us now for Second Reading and called the Railways Bill. The statement of the President was evidently very carefully prepared and indicated, I think, that he was not very sure of the reception the Bill was going to get, and he was at very considerable pains to put forward a strong case for it. This Bill proposes to establish unification of the railways of the Free State. Naturally, one would like to have an explanation as to why it was necessary for the Government to bring in a Bill of this very drastic and far-reaching nature. There are three bodies of people concerned largely with the railways:—The railway owners covered by the Directors and the management, who are the representatives of the shareholders; there are the business people who want the convenience of having their goods carried over the railways at the best possible terms; there are the public who look to the railways to give them certain accommodation. These three parties have intimate association and connection with the railways, and one would expect that the introduction of a Bill in Parliament would be at the instigation of one of those groups, if not possibly all. I fail to find that among any of the three classes there has been any demand for a Bill such as that now before the House. We must, therefore, look to find out what is the cause or inspiration of the Government's movement in this direction.

The President in his statement has indicated that the baronial railways, a very small section of the railways, are in a bad way. He has instanced the case by pointing out that freights and rates are very high, and that this Bill is intended as a remedy for these two evils. I rather think that the inspiration has come from outside the Saorstát altogether. At the end of the Great War the railway companies in Great Britain and Ireland, following the very deleterious effects of the necessary control which operated over them in connection with the war, found from the experience they had gained, or rather the Government had found in the network of railways covering Great Britain, and owing to the urgency of getting down rates, that there was a lot of unnecessary competition amongst the railways in Great Britain. They proposed to the railway companies that they should handle this matter themselves, and very much on the lines of the quite successful policy that was followed by the banks in amalgamation, and which resulted in the creation of the Big Five, and they considered that something on the same lines applied to the railways would be useful and economical. The railway companies propounded their scheme. In other words, they fell in and co-operated with the Government in their effort to do what was undoubtedly a desirable thing. But you do not find that the Britisher, and however we may look at the Britisher as being a stupid person as compared with the more brilliant Irish, we do not find that he is in any way unable to mind and to administer his own affairs in a very successful manner.

Now, clearly the policy of the British Railway Amalgamation is to amalgamate, but still to keep the competitive elements alive. The British railways and the British Government did not go to the L.M. & S. and say: "You must amalgamate with the G.W.R." They did not do any such thing. They said to the G.W.R.: "You form a group, and let the L.M.S. form another group," and that has been successfully accomplished and carried out. I ask any Deputy in this House who knows anything about railway matters to look at the results of the amalgamation of the railways in Great Britain and to say whether it has had the effect of eliminating competition.

I say to-day there is a growing competition between these people, a sane and wholesome competition, not a cutthroat competition, but a sane and healthy competition amongst these railways in Great Britain, which is of eminent importance and advantage to the trading community. We see the effects of it over here. Now, in our desire not to be behindhand in this railway question, I understand that the Government have said to the railways here: "Go thou and do likewise." As far as they have done that I am with them. In so far as they propose this Bill I condemn it; I condemn their methods, and I ask the Dáil to condemn them. The basis of this Bill is unification of all the railways. The Free State main railways are the Great Southern and Western, operating from Dublin to the South, and the Midland Great Western, operating from Dublin to the West. These two railways have no more cause to amalgamate than would the G.W.R. of England with the L.M.S. There is no earthly justification for amalgamating them. They practically do not touch one another; the are separate entities, serving separate districts, and what I might almost call separate peoples. The amalgamation of these two railways, in my opinion, is not in the interests of the Free State in any way. I say that the amalgamation of these two railways is not going to save anything that matters in administration, but, rather, in my opinion, it is going to saddle a monopoly upon the people, which they are going to pay through the nose for, and is going to establish an autocratic control of the railways that will be unapproachable by business men, and is going to establish a stranglehold on the country as a whole.

Take the case of the Great Southern and Western Railway. They were approached and asked to consider the taking in of companies. I understand they did so, and put forward proposals to take in practically all the railways in the South of Ireland. It seems to me that, in doing so, they showed sanity, because that would give continuity to the railways which is very desirable. In connection with that amalgamation, there may be some railways under the title of baronial railways. It is not too much to say that that larger amalgamation would be saddled if necessary with any railways that the Government felt that they had an obligation for in their own district.

The President made some points in connection with the baronial guaranteed railways, and as to their inability to make dividends for their shareholders. They certainly are a charge, in some cases, on the county or the barony. If that charge were spread over the whole county it would not necessarily be much; but, at all events, on the basis of their being originally built—I presume they were built on the claim of the people of a district that a railway should be made—I think the people might be reasonably expected to have had the foresight or the knowledge to form an opinion as to whether the railway would pay or not. At all events, if it was at their instigation that the railway was built, and if they willingly and voluntarily committed themselves to pay a charge, and if the thing was a failure, it does not seem to me that the whole proposition raised by these railways being run at a small loss is any justification for a wide-spread measure of unification such as is involved in this Bill. I do not think that they present any very great difficulty; certainly not an insuperable difficulty, in connection with the railway problem.

The basis of this plea for unification is that the railway charges are high, higher than they should be, and that must be admitted. We must also recognise that in the year before the war, the year 1913, the railways were not doing anything wonderful in the way of making profit, but still they were in a sound financial condition. During the period of the war they came under control owing to the war. After the war, we had our own little war, our own big war, and we have just emerged from that, and as we all hope have emerged from it for good, but if we have emerged from that state of affairs, is it not fair to ask that the railway companies should be allowed to go on in peace and see how far their difficulties have been overcome? With a better state of trade in the country, and a more peaceful outlook, the railways would materially benefit, and I, for one, am not in the least pessimistic about their position. Why, therefore, this question of unification? If the unification proposition came from the railways themselves, while not agreeing with it and probably resisting it, still it would not have the insidious effect of a Bill proposed by the Government, involving Government control and practically putting the railways in the position that really in my opinion would be almost better covered by the Bill proposed as a Private Bill in this House and discussed and rejected by this House, which was put forward by the Labour Party. What is the difference between these two Bills? In this Bill, in my opinion, the Government can take control. They do not take any responsibility for financing in so far as the financial running of the railways is concerned. They are run as private concerns. This Bill is only a step in the same direction as that which was advocated by Deputy Johnson when putting forward his Bill for the nationalisation of the railways.

Now, if nationalisation is going to be an accepted principle as regards the Free State, it is well we should know it. You cannot stop at railways. What are the railways? The railways are a highway through the territory.

A public highway.

Many of the railways on the Continent were built—certainly they are all controlled by the military situation. In other words, they are largely strategic highways which the Government and the military see will be a useful engine in the event of war. There is no such question arising here. We are an island, but our railways are largely fed by coastwise and foreign shipping. The outlet from Ireland is through the ports. The inlet to Ireland is through the ports. As regards the coastwise and foreign shipping, that is a natural link—if I might put it as the missing link—which links up the two lines of railways on one side of the water and the other. If you have any question of the nationalisation of railways, can you stop there? I think not. I think you have got to take into account the connecting link. That in itself would, I think, in the future some time, lead to the nationalisation of shipping. But at all events, in either case it will, if accepted as a principle, effectually do away with private enterprise. In my judgment private enterprise is the principal incentive by which business should be carried on. Any interference with private enterprise is not, I think, for the good of the country, although other parties may argue the question from the other side. I think the trade largely depends on initiative. Initiative is not the most conspicuous feature in connection with Governmental control. Without initiative I think you are apt to get want of efficiency in management.

We have it in wars. I mean you have initiative.

I think that is a very apt interruption. I am obliged to Deputy Davin for the interruption. We have had experience of control and nationalisation during the war.

And initiative, too.

Will any businessman say that he wants a continuation of the state of affairs that existed during the war? I do not know whether anybody would advocate that state of control, but at all events I have a very strong opinion that the very acceptance of the principle of nationalisation will cut at the roots of private enterprise to an extent that you in the Dáil cannot realise at the present moment. I go so far as to say that our building difficulties to-day largely arose from Government interference, and Government interference right through has created, or, rather, has prevented a settlement of the housing problem and has made it a very expensive proposition for the country. I expect you to call me to order for that as a distinct digression from the subject. I think the President anticipates that in the unification of the railways a large amount will be saved in connection with management that will enable a reduction to be made in the rates and charges of the railways. In that I think he is very sanguine. May I say also at the same time that I think if the railways had not had this question of Government interference before them for the last 12 months they would have made a better and more successful effort to meet the real needs of the traders in the country, and would certainly not have taken the passive attitude that they have taken in connection with the demand for reduced rates. I am not in any way speaking for the directors or for the railway management. I do not profess to consider that they are perfect. I do not profess to say that improvements cannot be made, but we had better get this question out of the way. If we get the question out of the way one way or another, I think that the road will be clearer for individual effort on the part of the business man to get redress from the railway company, and in that way I am glad that at all events the Government have brought this Bill before us. With the following they have at the present time, the reconstructed following, if I might put it that way, I think there is very little doubt but the weight of the Government Party will carry this Bill through. I think possibly, added to the weight of the combined Government Party, will be the weight of the Labour Party.


We want to hear about that. If that is so, the few of us here who are styled as Independents, will not have much effect. We will be up against a stone wall. But whether we have or not, at all events we have a right to express our opinions, and throughout the whole of this Bill I hope we will give expression to very grave difference of opinion with the Government on this matter. If by chance we can persuade the Government that they are entering on a very dangerous road, even in doing that we will have done good work. This is a new Government and a new administration. We have started on two bad roads. Are we going to pull up in time or are we going on to what is going to be either the millenium or destruction? It may be the millenium. It may be that the country will demand that state control will enter into their lives and interfere with their pleasures.

Of the two cases in point recently, one is in connection with Clause 8 of the Housing Bill, and the other is the whole of this Bill. I do not say in regard to this Bill that there is nothing in it I approve of. I think there are many valuable suggestions which may be dealt with by the railway management as a whole; but I see no reason why this Bill should be put into operation at the present time. I see very grave danger ahead of us in putting it into operation. If the Dáil is willing to pass the Second Reading, we then pass into Committee. I am not going to attempt to go into the different clauses or proposals in it; but on the Committee stage I hope we will concentrate on trying to do away with the worst parts of the Bill. At the present stage I am only concerned in asking the Dáil not to touch this evil thing; not to give it any Second Reading. I ask the Dáil to throw it out straight away on its head; and, if they do not do that, the responsibility is theirs. I protest, and I will call for a division in due course, and whether I am in a minority of one, or whether I have two or three or six followers, at all events it will be on record that I objected to this Bill.

As far as I am concerned, I shall certainly go into the same lobby with the Deputy who has just sat down, but not, perhaps, from the same motives that he has expressed. I think this Bill as it appears upon the paper should be approached, in the first place, from the national as apart from the particular point of view. I must confess that personally I am of opinion that the whole project is premature. My reason for that opinion is that no case has been made for immediate interference with the existing railway systems in the Free State. The railway systems in Ireland are one of the few, the very few, links which still remain between the Free State and Northern Ireland. I fear that by proposing to deal with a section of that system, namely, the railways in the Free State, we shall be only building up another bulwark against the final unity of our country.

This Bill confines itself, not to all indeed, but to only certain of the railways in the Free State. The Great Northern Railway is, to a large extent, within our territory. To my mind any measure dealing with the railway system of the Free State, and leaving out of consideration the Great Northern Railway, is like producing Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. Not only is the Great Northern, but also several of the lines bordering upon the North of Ireland, are left out. Why? For the very good reason, as stated, that at the moment we do not know where the boundary is, and most of us hope that there will be no boundary at all in future.

I venture to protest against this tightening up and cementing, as it inevitably will be, of the unfortunate position of temporary partition which we find ourselves in to-day, by cutting off portion of our railway system from the railway system which should be one and unified throughout the whole country. I think it will be also another difficulty in regard to the Boundary question. It could hardly be suggested that our friends in the North of Ireland would be in favour of giving a monopoly to certain railway companies in the South if ever they (the Northerners), as we hope they shall, see their way to join up with the South.

I noted the President's remarks when he said that he did not consider it good policy to bring in the Northern railways. Of course, it is not good policy to bring in the Northern railways; but I go further and I say it is not good policy to here and now adopt a system which will not be compatible with the future working and desires of the controllers of the Northern railways. I believe this proposal of the partial interference, and what I might style hybrid monopoly, will not bring about the future unification of our railway system. Now, talking about monopoly, the speaker who has just sat down objects to this Bill, because he says it is only a step in the direction of nationalisation. I object to it from a totally contrary point of view, because my view is that if there is to be a monopoly let it be a State monopoly, and not a hybrid production such as this is, controlled as it is to be, not entirely by the State, not entirely by the directors of the various private enterprises, but controlled by a mixture of both.

The argument that is put forward that the group system in England has done away with competition does not stand for a moment. It is said that the rates on the various lines were similar, and are similar to-day. Well, that is true, but there is no doubt about it that though the rates may be the same, if the general public have an option of an alternative route, they certainly also have the option of the choice of alternative facilities and accommodation. The object of this Bill, the main object I take it, is to reduce the rates. I cannot, for the life of me, see upon the face of it how the rates shall be reduced by this measure. We hear use made of fine phrases, such as economy and efficiency. All very nice in general, but in particular, I fail to see how by this proposal—at least it has not been shown to my satisfaction—any greater economy or efficiency is to be brought about. It is true, perhaps, that there shall be a small saving in Directors' salaries, and in a few officials also, but that will be a very small amount when spread over the working of a great system such as this will be. What I would like to know is: Have the public been in any way consulted in regard to this measure? Who wants it? Do the railway companies themselves desire it, or do the general public desire it? Because, unlike, perhaps, my friend upon my left, I regard the railways, though they may be nominally private property, as the public highway of the people. As far as I can learn, there has been no demand from any class or from any quarter for this particular measure. It is true that there has been, and is, an incessant demand, and a right demand, for a reduction of rates, but I have yet to learn how this measure will bring that about. The President dealt with some specific details, and I would like to take the opportunity to refer to one or two matters with which he dealt. He stated that there was opposition to this proposal from the Dublin Port and Docks Board, and gave a fair account of their attitude in the matter—because they believed that it would be injurious to the trade of Dublin and that, in particular, certain agreements embodied in British Acts of Parliament, which are to be perpetuated by this Bill, will operate injuriously as against Dublin. But Dublin is not alone in this regard. The agreement referred to by the President is contained in clause 19 of the 7th Schedule of the Fishguard and Rosslare Act of 1899, and that was an agreement between the Great Western Railway of England and the Great Southern and Western Railway of Ireland. That agreement provides that these two Companies were to undertake to use every endeavour to send all traffic via Rosslare. Now, that agreement worked in the past most detrimentally to the city of Waterford, and presumably also to the City of Dublin, but it is proposed to perpetuate it in this Bill, and I must certainly, at this stage, protest most vigorously against a proposal to perpetuate that agreement for the benefit of private Companies for the use of a private port, as against the general public for the use of the public ports of Dublin and Waterford.

Might I ask if the Deputy is urging that it would be in equity for us to move that it should be determined?

Yes, Sir, I am in favour of doing away with all these agreements. If this Bill is persisted in I would be in favour of scrapping all agreements in existence as between the various private companies who previously were permitted to run as private companies, but who are now to be embodied in this proposal, and treated, not as State concerns entirely, but as half-private and half-State bodies. The President also mentioned the agreement between the Dublin and South Eastern Company and the London North-Western Company in regard to Dublin. If this Bill is persisted in I would also be in favour of scrapping that agreement. As far as the trade of Waterford is concerned, it may be of interest to know that previous to the Act of 1899 there were six sailings per week from the Port of Waterford of full ships, and that since then the sailings have been reduced to three, and very often they have not full cargoes. In spite of the Government's protestations, both through the mouth of the President and in the Bill, that they do not intend to give preference to one port over another, I say that the perpetuation of this agreement between these private companies is nothing less than giving a preference to a private port over the ports of Dublin and of Waterford. Certainly, as far as that is concerned, I shall most vigorously oppose it. The Bill in many other respects deals with other agreements, and again I say that I am prepared, if the Bill is to go through, to scrap all these private agreements. The President also stated—I do not know whether it was a quotation or his own statement—that "for internal traffic, Irish railways are essentially non-competitive."

It was a quotation.

As a general proposition, I might subscribe to that statement, but there are certain outstanding exceptions, and the City of Waterford is one particular instance. That city is served by two systems —the Great Southern and Western and the Dublin South Eastern—and while the rates may be the same in regard to both, yet at the same time the public in the districts served have always the alternative I have previously mentioned, of service, and facilities, and accommodation. It may be said that one of those systems is not very efficient. That may be so, but if the Bill passes the risk is that both of them may not be efficient. What I especially object to is the proposal to place the whole of the South of Ireland in the hands of one monopoly, not controlled entirely by the Government and not controlled entirely by one company. What is usual in these cases is that everybody's business is nobody's business. I do not think that there is any reason for the introduction of this Bill. I think that it would be far better if this matter were left until the Boundary question was settled, one way or the other. I think that it would be far better if the railway companies were given a chance. They have gone through a serious period, like the rest of the country, for the last two years. They have not yet been able to show what they would be able to do when they would have had time to recover. There is no doubt that the conditions prevailing in regard to wages, etc., have a great deal to do with the rates; all that being so, I fail to see why it is necessary to bring in this measure now to bind us in the Free State to a policy in connection with a portion of the railways, even in the Free State, and for which approval certainly has not, as far as I know, been got, and even as far as I am aware, not been sought, from the people in Northern Ireland. I think that it would be a good thing for the future unification of the country if the railways at least were let alone for the moment and if the railway companies were allowed to endeavour to compete with one another for the benefit of the public at large.

Deputy Hewat has told the Dáil that he will oppose this Bill from the beginning to the end, even if he is the only opponent; and he has again informed us of his consistent opposition to every vestige of State control. He is in favour in railway affairs of private enterprise, and he believes that if only the trading community had been free to approach the companies individually, they could have done better out of the companies than by any other means. It is refreshing to hear the advocacy of a Deputy so consistent in his opposition to any vestige of State control as Deputy Hewat. He has not said, of course, that he is in favour of allowing any group of people to build a railway, as another representative of public organisations advocated; and he has not explained how it happened that there have been three, four or five public Commissions to inquire into the working of the railways in response to the public demand, the demand of traders, merchants and farmers, about the unsatisfactory working of the railways. It has not been made quite clear to us how all this vast volume of opinion for a generation or two should have declared that something had to be done to interfere with the railways, the private control of the railways, and that the free approach of the merchants, traders and manufacturers to the companies was not enough. As a matter of fact, time and time again have there been appeals to Rates Commissions, and demands made that the powers of these rate-fixing Commissions should be enlarged, and these demands have come so continuously from the merchant and trading community that it is, as I say, a surprise to learn from one who speaks authoritatively, I suggest, for the merchant community of Dublin at any rate, that all that is required to bring a perfect railway system into being is to allow the free operation of private enterprise and no Government interference. Deputy Hewat spoke of the absence of a demand for this Bill; no public interest had requested it. He spoke of three elements that might be likely to call for a Bill of this nature, or at least a Bill dealing with railway services, railway owners, the business interests and the public, and I want to call attention to the distinction between the business interests and the public. Deputy Hewat drew attention to the fact that in approaching the consideration of this measure the Government had apparently taken its cue from the action of the British Government in regard to the British railways, and he said that the Government had approached the railway companies with a message: "Go thou and do likewise." He regrets that the railways had not been able to do likewise; but I would ask Deputy Hewat to note that the Government has gone and done likewise. They have, as a matter of fact, taken over, word for word, many sections and clauses of the British Bill. They have done exactly with the Irish Bill what the British Government did with their Bill in regard to British railways. I am not very often in agreement with Deputy Hewat in such matters as railway control and railway service, and public questions of economics generally. I suppose I am not in agreement with him on the question of economics on this occasion, but I have arrived at the same conclusion by an entirely different road. I agree with him that this is a bad Bill and ought not to pass.

Adversity makes strange bed-fellows.

Deputy Hewat disavowed his ability to speak on behalf of the railway companies, and I am quite sure he spoke honestly when he said that. He was not able to speak on behalf of the railway companies or the directors in this matter, but we have learned a good deal in recent years, and we have learned even something within the past week of autosuggestion. I make the suggestion again that Deputy Hewat in opposing this Bill, for the reasons he has stated honestly here to-day, is really acting at the suggestion of the railway companies, pretending that they are opposing the Bill, pretending to be antagonistic to the passing of the Bill, but in reality hoping against hope that it will surely be passed, because it is a Bill entirely playing into the hands of the railway companies and the railway directors. They are not opposing the Bill in the least. They are merely suggesting to the public that they are opposing the Bill, because they know the public are not going to respond to the call of the railway companies. They see that their interests are conserved right to the letter. As a matter of fact, they are benefiting in every possible way by this Bill. They have secured the very best return they have ever had in their history for ever and a day by Government guarantee. They pretend, of course, that this is something detrimental to the interests of the railway companies and to those of the shareholders, but they wink the other eye and say: "Don't do anything that will prevent it passing." The Government seems to have been taken in— seems only to have been taken in. It has not really. There was an unintentional slip, perhaps unintentional, but the truth slips out. There is a phrase in Section 3 in the last line on the first page of the Bill proper which says "the amalgamating companies may, on or before the 1st July, 1924, submit to the Minister an amalgamation scheme framed in accordance with the provisions of this Act which has been agreed to by all these companies." This Act which has been agreed to by all these companies. Of course it has been agreed to. It is guaranteeing the very best year they ever had perpetually. That is wrong; it is making them so secure for the day, which is foreshadowed in every line of this Bill, when nationalisation will have to take place, and it is improving the position of the companies and of the shareholders in such a way as to make that position immensely better when they come to bargain with the community in five or ten years' time. That is the purpose of the Bill, and that is why the railway companies have agreed to it.

I regret that the President, in his exposition, or, rather, in his opening statement, did not attempt to expound the Bill with any degree of fulness, but he spent most of his time in replying to criticisms made outside and which, I suppose, were intended to forestall criticisms which might be made here. I suppose it is to be taken as a testimony to the assiduity and care with which Deputies read all these measures and understand them that it was not necessary to explain in non-technical language what the Bill meant, but it has been the practice, either on the First or Second Reading of a Bill of this kind, to give the Dáil and the public some indication of what it contains. When we did not have an explanation on the First Reading, I hoped for and expected a full explanation on the Second Reading which, by the way, might have been avoided had we had a memorandum explaining the Bill, following the good example set in the Transport and Communications Bill. I suppose we have to be content with the testimony to our ability to understand draft Bills of this kind for ourselves. It is one of the prices we have to pay for the honour of being elected. I have suggested that the purport of this Bill is to make secure the financial position of the railway shareholders, pending the time when the Bill's usefulness has come to an end, or, rather, when the public is generally satisfied it is not useful for the public, but that the shareholders' interests will have been so well-established that the State will require to pay a very much higher sum as compensation, or purchase price, than otherwise it would require to do. "Transition period" is written all over this Bill.

The President in his statement has more or less confessed that this is intended to cover a period to give private enterprise another chance, and as a sop to make quite sure that private enterprise, or rather private unenterprise, is going to be paid well for its lack of enterprise. We are to guarantee to the Companies by means of a scheme of rate-fixing the highest net revenue that ever they earned in their existence. Traders and the travelling public are to be required to pay rates which will secure to the Companies that amount of revenue and, in effect, this is to be a State guarantee of the best period of railway history, when the highest profits were made during the period when self-confessedly those people who did the work on the railways were underpaid, a statement which the railway companies themselves agree to. They say that they were under-paid and that they ought never to be brought back to that same condition, quite apart from any change in the relative value of money. But they are to be guaranteed, at the expense of the trading public, of the farming community, and of the travelling public, the highest revenue they earned even in those days of sweated labour. In a few years time, when the trading public, and when Deputy Hewat, have been convinced of the inefficiency of private enterprise in railway management, and when Deputy Gorey will have come to the conclusion that railway companies as well as salmon fisheries ought to be nationalised, and when the whole travelling public will say that something must be done to remove this incubus from their backs, we shall be expected to go to the railway companies and say: "What will you take?"

They will say: "You entered into a compact with us. You refused to allow us to continue our own way. You imposed on us a certain obligation with regard to rates, and you guaranteed a revenue equal to the highest years of our earning power. You must base your price on that and give us what you are now depriving us of." Surely the railways will not object to that. Surely the railway shareholders are going to be behind their newspapers, chuckling, by pretending to be very adverse to the scheme of this Bill. Do not believe it for a moment. I wonder what would be said on the Government Benches if a claim were made from these benches that the highest rates of pay, the average of the highest three years in railway history, were to be guaranteed henceforth by the State with a prospect of a sliding scale upward, such as is in the Bill, for any improvement in earning powers. I wonder would the Ministry say: "Yes, we are going to back that proposition." I am inclined even to make a bargain with the President or the Minister for Industry and Commerce, if he will say: "Support this Bill, and we will give you what you ask; we will give a guarantee to the railway workers, and any other public servants, of the average of the highest earnings for the future." There is no response, I notice, to that suggestion.

I will address myself to that subject afterwards.

Will Deputy Johnson explain the enormous increases shareholders experience in the cost of living during the period of the old control?

I am not quite sure that I understand Deputy Hewat's interruption. All I know is that the Government in this Bill is proposing to guarantee to shareholders the best three years of railway history, three years before the war, and I am prepared to ask the Government if they will guarantee to workers in those industries the best three years of their history. They will not, of course.

Hear, hear.

Why? They at least worked for their money. The railway shareholders merely wait for theirs.

They are still waiting.

Do not make a mistake. They are not merely waiting. They are receiving, and waiting for the next. Some of them, at any rate, are constantly receiving. The State is coming along now and saying "we will guarantee it, or in effect guarantee it." Let me remind Deputies that the position we are asked to re-establish is a position that when a trader pays 20s. for the carriage of certain goods he is going to hand over six shillings and eight pence to railway shareholders. The pre-war position was that round about one-third of the railway revenue went to railway stockholders. You may justify that if you can. You may be pleased or displeased with it, but that is the proposal of the Government to ensure for the future that such a position of affairs would be maintained.

There are a couple of sections in this Bill to which I want to draw special attention. Notwithstanding all that Deputy Hewat speaks about national control, there is, in fact, no national control. He speaks of it as a hybrid. I agree. One half of the hybrid is ineffective, the companies are dominant and the State is recessive. There is no national control, and there is no assurance that the railway rates are going to be reduced. There is not the slightest likelihood of any advantage coming to the trading, farming, or travelling community through the operation of this Bill. There is to be a tribunal. A railway tribunal is to be set up, and almost at once it is proposed to have in hands an examination of schemes proposed by the company, or failing those, schemes propounded by themselves for the amalgamation of the companies. At the same time it is supposed to be engaged in a revision of rates. All this is to be done before the 1st January, 1925. You may think that is an impossible task. You may think that to ask a railway tribunal as from, say, the end of May, to examine and pronounce upon the merits of amalgamation schemes, the fitness of such schemes to suit the national needs, or failing such schemes being satisfactory, to produce a scheme for themselves, and while doing that to be engaged in a revision of railway rates to satisfy the trading community—you may think that is impossible. Everybody will agree that such a proposition was a futility, but it is not so foolish as it seems, because, as a matter of fact, there are provisions in the Bill which will make the work of this tribunal as an amalgamating body quite a sinecure.

They will not have any duties there at all. It is already done. Section 7 of this Bill contains provisions as to the determination of the terms and conditions of amalgamation, and it says: "That for the purpose of determining such terms and conditions the Railway Tribunal shall take into consideration all the circumstances of the case, and in particular the value of the net revenue-earning basis of each of the Companies," and so on. But Section 9 provides for what are called preliminary schemes, under which the companies may produce schemes and submit them for the approval of the tribunal. All the companies, except one, perhaps, may have come to agreement, and that is all that is required to submit that scheme to the tribunal and it shall be approved. Any two or more companies may submit such a preliminary scheme, and the Railway Tribunal shall approve of any such preliminary scheme provided that the procedure preliminary to the submission of the scheme has been complied with, such procedure having reference to the shareholders and stockholders, and so on. Section 7, as put into the Bill, is intended to re-assure the public, but it is only a pretence. It is what is commonly called "eye-wash." These preliminary schemes are already made. The approval of the shareholders, in some cases, has been already obtained, and I think it will easily be obtained, and the Railway Tribunal has no option but to approve. Consequently, the Railway Tribunal's duty in this respect will be very light, indeed.

These clauses are, as well as many others, taken from the British Act, and the experience in the use made of them by the British companies ought to have been taken as a warning by the Ministry here unless they want to play into the hands of the railway companies. I am not particularly concerned, of course, with the interest of railway shareholders as such, but there is a very good reason why we should be watchful. The Great Western Railway of England, under these clauses, made certain agreements. "The Western group" was formed, and under these preliminary schemes there was a decrease in the nominal capital amounting to over fourteen million pounds, but under this scheme, by the manipulation of the adjustments and the proportions for guaranteed interest and debentures and ordinary shareholding, there was an increase of the annual charges for interest on debentures and dividends amounting to over ninety thousand pounds. That is to say, while there was a nominal decrease in the total capital made by the scheme, there was an increased charge upon the public. I am putting it crudely and bluntly, but it is a charge upon the public of over ninety thousand pounds a year additional to what had been charged upon the public for the previous years before the capital had been reduced. There may be other ways of manipulating the shares of these companies so as to strengthen the position of existing shareholders in the stock markets, of improving their position in the stock markets, but at the same time imposing a future obligation upon the public, the trading public, or the travelling public. We will find that under these schemes there will be, by one means or another, changes in the capitalisation. Capitalisation may be too high. At any rate, the total guaranteed interest will be increased, the obligations to shareholders will be greater, and the charge upon the public will be enhanced. Then we shall have, in a few years' time, the cry as is so often repeated by companies which have manipulated their shares: "Our earning capacity is not high enough; look at the low rate of dividends we are paying; we must have powers to raise our rates and powers to raise our charges to enable us to pay a fair dividend on the capital invested." In this way the Railway Tribunal will be obliged to enter into this nice little scheme of putting its finger into the eye of the public under the guise of a scheme for protecting the public.

Now the plea is made by the President, and I have no doubt at all it is a bait that is thrown out to farmers and merchants and the trading public, and to shopkeepers who may be represented on the Government Party. Benches, that they will be able to apply to the Railway Tribunal to ensure that rates will be reduced. The cry will be for lower charges for railway transportation, and they will be told: "We shall be able to go before the Rates Tribunal, and they will fix reasonable rates in the interests of the public." Well, I do not know whether, when you have railway companies whose reason for existence, as Deputy Hewat says, is to satisfy the demands of shareholders and to respond to the stimulus of private enterprise, that those railway companies and their servants, the railway managers, will not be able to do better for the companies than the tribunal will do for the public.

at this stage took the Chair.

Remember that this Tribunal is not a Tribunal which is going to adjust the rates fairly as between interest and interest, all being parts of the public. It is going to try and adjust the rates as between the public and the railway companies, the railway companies not being part of the public as a public institution serving the public for public interest, but the railway company being as a private monopoly seeking to improve its financial position at the expense of the public. The railway tribunal will be bombarded by different interests, none of which interests will know the case for reduction as well as the railway companies will know the case for maintaining the present charges. I propose to quote again the statement of a railway manager, one of the Commission that sat and discussed the Irish railways under the Scotter Commission, Mr. Acworth. Speaking of the utility of appeals to tribunals of this kind, he said: "For every shilling cut by an expeditious tribunal off a rate it is easy for railway companies, if they are agreed to act in harmony with each other, to withdraw two shillings worth of facilities, and the traders may make up their minds that this is what must inevitably happen if the railway companies are confronted with lower rates simultaneously with the rapid rise of working expenses. Assume that your Tribunal can fix a reasonable rate; what is the use of it unless it can schedule to its judgment a minute specification of the quality of service to be given in return for the rate. The railways can bring down troops of expert witnesses. How can the Tribunal refuse to hear them when every student of railway economics knows that the reasonableness of each particular rate depends not merely on its own individual circumstances but on a comparison with all the other rates, and a consideration of the company's entire business. But for a farmer or a shopkeeper, with the assistance possibly of a local attorney to undertake to fight trade railway experts with the lifetime's experience and with every fact and figure at their finger's end is only to court defeat."

We are asked to rely upon this railway tribunal to fix rates, after hearing the evidence of inexperienced and perhaps inefficient amateurs in opposition to trained railway experts, who have every fact and figure on their finger's end, before a tribunal set up to fix rates. The chances of getting a reduction in railway rates before this tribunal are very small, indeed, and there again I agree with the dictum of Deputy Hewat. But supposing the House is prepared to give a Second Reading to this Bill, the case has not been made, and no attempt has been made to make a case, for the Bill by the President. All he has done is to reply to criticisms which had been made before the Bill had been explained. But supposing the House is convinced that, at least, a Second Reading should be granted, what are we to say about the omissions? Why, for instance, has the Ministry forgotten that monument to railway efficiency, one or the seven wonders of the whole of Ireland, the Lartigue Railway? Why is Ballybunion left out?

And the Blessington steam tram——

The Blessington steam tram is in a different category. The Blessington steam tram requires consideration from a different angle. The Lartigue Railway is a curiosity, and attracts visitors from all parts of the world. The Lartigue Railway is quite a phenomenon, and why not preserve it and keep it in being so that the Tailteann visitors will have an opportunity of learning something about balancing?

But seriously I do not understand why, if we are to consider the unification of Irish railways, any railways that are serving, quite efficiently within their limits, the districts which have asked for them, and which have been served by them for a good many years should be left out. It seems to me that the Bill ought to include both the Blessington Steam Tram and the Lartigue Railway and any others that may have been omitted, but certainly those two are railways. Although the Blessington steam tram is called a tram it is, in fact, a railway, and has been guaranteed in the same way as other baronially guaranteed railways have been, and there is no justification whatever as far as I can see for omitting these railways from the scheme.

That, no doubt, is a matter that will have to be discussed more intimately in Committee, but I am putting in this plea at this stage in the fear that the Bill may get a Second Reading, and in the hope that if it does get a Second Reading that the interests of people concerned in and round about these railways shall be taken account of just the same as every other railway within the Saorstát. I agree a good deal with what Deputy Redmond has said about the defect of the Bill in respect of the Northern railways. The Northern railways ought to have been included in this Bill; certainly the Northern and such other railways as come into the present jurisdiction of the Saorstát. Whatever we might say about the provisoes or modifications of a temporary kind, there ought not to be exclusion of any railways from the purview of the Bill.

I think that the Bill fails in one other respect, and it signifies a departure from the policy of railway amalgamation, or, shall I say, a departure from the policy which has been so closely copied, of railway amalgamation in England. The intention, at any rate, of the promoters of the Bill in England, was that there should be an active policy of co-ordination of transport services in general. Sir Eric Geddes, when moving the Second Reading of a similar Bill in England, said:

"The Government has come to the conclusion that some measure of unified control of all systems of transportation is necessary; that there must be somebody who can be asked what the transportation policy of the country is, and whose responsibility it is to have a policy. There is none to-day, and it is only the State—the Government—that can centrally take that position. With our transportation agencies in the condition in which they are, it appears almost inevitable that to a greater or lesser extent we must forego private interests and local interests in the interests of the State. In the past private interests made for development; but to-day I think I may say that it makes for colossal waste."

We made a plea for co-ordination of the transport service in the Transportation Bill which was introduced from these Benches. Apparently our plea has had no effect. The Government is quite prepared to allow private enterprise to control transportation services—there shall be no co-ordination; roads, canals and railways may compete with one another and waste each other's energies and efforts in senseless competition, wasteful competition; that there shall be no feeding one by the other and no suiting the traffic to the particular means of transportation. The Government has failed to respond to that very necessary need, and one which ought to be taken in hand at this stage of the country's existence. We have had hints from the Government Benches of possible developments arising from electric power production. Let us assume that the Shannon scheme is to be a success. Let us assume that big works will be developed, first in the utilisation of the Shannon for the production of power, and secondly, in the building of factories for the developing of industries on a small scale in the western parts of the country. This is part of the Government project. The railway companies are going to get the benefit of it by this scheme, if it is going to do anything. Thousands of tons of traffic will be handed to those companies without any effort on their part. Thousands and thousands of pounds of revenue will come to them without any effort on their part—unearned increment undoubtedly —by the action of the Government and of the community and not by the action of the companies. But we are asked in this Bill to ensure to the companies all the benefits and to guarantee to the present shareholders, or to the shareholders for the time being, the very highest revenue they were ever able to obtain, when private activities prevailed, before Government control began, and when the day that Deputy Hewat thinks ought to continue for ever did, as a matter of fact, exist. The highest period of prosperity is to be guaranteed by State action to the railway companies.

I say that the hope and expectation running right through the Bill is that within a very few years clamour will come from the public for nationalisation. In the meantime the railway shareholders will be assured of their incomes on a higher scale than they would otherwise have been able to obtain, and the price of nationalisation upon the community will be very much increased. The future burden will thereby be greater than it otherwise would. I say, having refused to consider nationalisation proper, let the railway companies carry on. Let them prove their capacity under the conditions which they themselves had determined. Let Deputy Hewat and those who act with him do their best to make that service an efficient one, but do not allow the State to be used as a means of fixing for a considerable number of private shareholders of railway companies an income which they are not earning, which they could not obtain by their own activities, and which will in future be an incubus upon the community as a whole.

I did not think I could be astonished by anything Deputy Johnson said, but I confess that when he said that the railway companies and their directors were praying that this Bill might become law it was something of a surprise to me. I do not frequent the society of railway directors. I have no shares myself in any Irish company. I am entirely disinterested. But it did happen that yesterday I was speaking to a director of a railway company, and he expressed the opinion that the terms offered to the shareholders in the Labour Party's Transport and Communications Bill were very much more favourable than those offered in this Bill, and that the majority of the shareholders were now regretting the fact that Deputy Johnson's Bill had been rejected.

I know that they were too good.

Deputy Johnson quarrelled with the fact that the shareholder's revenue is guaranteed; guaranteed, as he said, on the highest scale. What is that scale? "We needs must love the highest when we see it," particularly when it is a case of return on capital. But that scale is a little over four per cent. Does Deputy Johnson say that that is an excessive return on capital which has rendered public service, because, after all, whatever our views may be on collective ownership, at the time these railways were built— in the middle of the Victorian era— there was no possibility of their being undertaken as a State proposition. If they had not been built by private enterprise they would never have been built at all. Four per cent. is surely not an excessive return for capital that has rendered a public service. If you put the money in the National Loan you would get over five per cent. These shareholders—no matter what Deputy Johnson may say—are really philanthropists, who have sacrificed a certain amount of interest in order to render a public service. Is it so monstrous that their revenue should be guaranteed? There is a Schedule in this Bill guaranteeing labour—the employees of the railway companies—certain terms. That is in the third Schedule of this Bill, and I seem to remember that there was a somewhat similar provision in the Transport and Communications Bill of the Labour Party. I do not quarrel with that condition, but if labour is going to stand out and say that it must not get worse terms of employment than they have now, surely the shareholder is entitled to take the same view, particularly when the claim is such a moderate one. I rather dislike the talk of shareholders in the abstract. On the whole, I dislike talk in the abstract. The picture of the shareholder as a vague and monstrous entity—conjured up by Deputy Johnson—oppressing the public and taxpayer is not a true one. Shareholders are of all sorts and kinds. I am not going to say they are widows and orphans, because talk about "widows and orphans" affects me in very much the same way as talk about "the aged poor," but I am going to say that there is no such thing as a typical shareholder. They are of all ranks of society. Many shareholders of railway companies are institutions, some of them religious institutions, some of them charitable institutions, possibly some of them are even trades unions. Trades unions certainly hold shares in English railway companies. I do not know if they do in the Irish companies. Therefore, we cannot conjure up shareholders as a monstrous vision of capitalists battening on the people of the Saorstát. We must consider this as a problem which affects people in every class of society. My first quarrel with the President is on the grounds on which he elected to compensate the shareholder. He said that he had taken the average of the three highest normal years. I am not in agreement with the claim that has been put forward on behalf of the railway companies that the highest year should be selected. I agree that it should be an average for three years, but I would like a definition of "normal."

There is no definition, as far as I know, in the Bill, and I do not know why the President selected 1911, 1912, and 1913 instead of 1913, 1914 and 1915; the war only came into being two-thirds through 1914, and it did not really affect the Irish railways. It affected some people. 1915 was not a normal year with me. But it did not affect Irish railways very much until British Government control came into operation in 1917. If I were simply trying to make a case, I should say, "Why don't you take 1917, 1918 and 1919," because those were absolutely the three highest years? I do not ask that. I think it would be a fairer basis to take 1913, 1914 and 1915 and average them than to take 1911, 1912 and 1913. They were as much normal years, and they have as great a right to be taken into consideration. The difference in the average is not enormous, but I feel it would be a fairer basis in a Bill of this kind.

Now, I come to the question—the rather thorny question—of baronially-guaranteed lines. I would like to say I agree with Deputy Johnson that if you are dealing with baronially-guaranteed lines you cannot make fish of one and flesh of another. If you have a baronially-guaranteed line, whether tramway or railway, if it has a normal guage and has carriages pulled by steam, I regard that as a railway, and I am fortified in doing that by observing that the Schull and Skibbereen Tram and Light Tramway is included in the Bill. That being so, I cannot see why the Blessington Tramway is not included. That is, assuming they are to be included on the terms suggested in the Bill. I have been told the Amalgamated Company, if it comes into being, ought to be very grateful for getting these lines for nothing, that these lines, if not an asset, are a potential asset, that they cost money to build, and that the companies are getting money for nothing.

Assuming the President were to give me an elephant—but I will not assume that the President would give me an elephant—because I am sure the Minister for Finance would not allow him—but assuming that Deputy Davin gave me an elephant, I should have no doubt the pleasure and pride of possessing an elephant; I should have a mount that was up to my weight; I might be able to give the Attorney-General a lift, and we would probably get along almost as quickly as if we were on a baronially-guaranteed railway. But, when the bill for the elephant's keep came in, I might find it was rather an expensive luxury. I do not know whether, on the Committee Stage of this Bill I shall move as an alternative title—"A Bill to provide the Amalgamated Company with White Elephants." That is what a great many of these baronially-guaranteed lines will be. My personal opinion of them is that they are a survival of the past, and that if our legislators and Chief Secretaries had been prophets, and had been able to foresee the development of motor transport—motor lorries and motor charabancs— a good many of these baronially-guaranteed railways would never have been built, for they would never have been necessary. Some of them, according to the White Paper, have been run year after year at a large, constant, and continuous loss. In the case of the Tralee and Dingle Railway, since 1910— the first recorded loss—anything less than a loss of £3,000 is absolutely exceptional. These railways are not a business proposition. They never were a business proposition. And if you wish your Amalgamated Railway Company to be a business proposition, you are doing an unfair thing in saddling it with these uneconomic propositions. The President has estimated the loss at £20,000 in a normal year. The railway companies estimate the loss at £90,000 in a normal year.

The difference between us is partially due to the fact that in one case the interest on the shares is included. If we take off £50,000 we have the actual difference between us.

I think £48,000 is the contribution proposed in the Bill. There is still a difference between £68,000 and £90,000. At any rate, there is no general agreement on that point.

The loss may be more than the President's estimate.

That being so, it would hardly seem to be a good omen for economic working, to saddle your new company with these non-paying companies. I would suggest—I am not sure whether an amendment to this effect on the Committee Stage would be in order—that as there is a certain loan due to the Government from some of the railway companies that will make up the Amalgamated Company—a loan of approximately £300,000—that that loan should be wiped out and the company would be in a much more satisfactory position to undertake these baronially-guaranteed railways and not make a loss.

I turn to the Tribunal, which is one of the most important factors in the Bill—one of the factors by which the Bill will stand or fall. On the nature of the Tribunal depends whether the Bill will be a success or not. I quarrel with the temporary nature of the Tribunal. It is only to be set up for five years. That means, to my mind, that just at the time that it will understand its work it will be dissolved. There is to be only one member experienced in railway work on the Tribunal; of the other two, one is to be a barrister and the other a business man. Certainly their first two years will be spent in learning what they are dealing with, and the fact that they are automatically dissolved at the end of five years seems to me to be a handicap.

Another detail of the Tribunal is that its powers are very definite and its responsibilities are very vague, and I seem to detect in that the hand of the Attorney-General from what I know of his draughtsmanship. There is nothing said as to how this body is to be paid. Is it to be paid out of money provided by the Oireachtas? Are we to have the liberty of criticising it in that way, or is it to be paid out of the Central Fund, as a judicial body? In every other Bill that I have seen provision has been made in this respect. It is not made in this Bill so far as I can find. It is a very long Bill, and it may have escaped me, but, so far as I can find, there is nothing set out about that. There is nothing to show what Minister, if any, will be responsible to the Dáil for this Tribunal. There is nothing to show whether we will be entitled to ask questions about it or discuss it. I venture to think, before we come to a Second Reading of this Bill, we ought to know a little more on this point. Under Section 24 of the Bill it is quite clear that the Tribunal has got to recommend new rates within three months of its coming into existence. I am anxious to see new rates. I suppose everybody is anxious to see new rates, but these rates must be drawn up on some definite, scientific basis. Is it possible for the members of the Tribunal, two of whom are quite unversed in the matter, to learn as much in three months as will enable them to make a complete set of new rates for every class of goods traffic? I have doubts on the subject. I hope the President will resolve my doubts. But when I am told, as I was told by a Deputy belonging to the Labour Party and what he said must be true—that railway rates are now in a mass of confusion, that there is a different rate for almost every kind of commodity, that the rates have been annually revised, that there is 100 per cent. increase, then another 20 per cent. increase and another 30 per cent. increase, and a 7½ per cent. rebate, when I am told that—I am only giving it as I was told—they will have to take three months in order to find out what the rates are, not alone to revise them. I agree with Deputy Gorey: he is probably trying to find out the rates himself. It is not easy to do so. A little while ago I had a small thing sent to me from England and I discovered that the railway rate from the North Wall to Dalkey was more than the railway rate from a place in Kent to the North Wall.

Why? What of the £30,000 a year?

I fought it out, and I did not pay. All these complications exist, and it is very doubtful, to my mind, if the Tribunal will be able to tackle them in a period of three months. If they go simply on the basis of the President's statement that the rates must be cut down, they may do very grave injustice. When the President replies, I have no doubt he will ask me and Deputy Hewat—he will not ask Deputy Johnson—what alternative we offer. It is the obvious answer. Well, the alternative that can be offered depends on the object of the Bill. Now, the Labour Party applauded a good many passages in the President's speech. I think there was one passage, mentioning that the Bill was intended to provide the services the country requires at rates the country can afford to pay—I hope I am quoting that accurately—that the Labour Party did not applaud. Once you go into that question, it is not merely a question of the rates a man who travels or who sends goods by train can afford to pay, but the rates the country can afford to pay and the rates the country will be able to afford later on.

I find that factor lies at the bottom of the whole thing. That is the real difficulty, and unless some means of surmounting it can be arranged, I do not believe that this Bill will get us a yard further. What economy is possible? Can you make economies by eliminating wasteful competition? The President has said that there is no real competition in the Saorstát. The only place where there would be competition would be Waterford, and there the competition is largely an unreality. Nominally there is competition in Sligo. Three railways run into there. A man could, if he so desired, travel to Sligo by Enniskillen, or if he happened to be insane he could travel to Sligo by the Great Southern Railway. In practice, however, everybody goes to Sligo by the Midland Great Western line. In those circumstances there is no real competition, and there is no wasteful competition, and therefore you cannot eliminate it.

Here and there you can run a station with one or two of a staff. That could be done at Dromod, for instance. But again, under Schedule 3 of the Bill, you have to pension out and compensate any men who may be discharged. I think the Ministry already know what a burden a pension vote can be, and what a burden it is to compensate people who have lost their employment. There is no great economy effected in those circumstances. There is economy, perhaps, through a reduction of the number of redundant railway officials, an economy which may amount to about £10,000 a year. As the President said, when you are dealing with figures like those what does £10,000 matter? It is not going to reduce rates to any considerable extent.

There are one or two possible methods by which rates can be reduced. One is a reorganisation on mechanical lines of the railways in the Saorstát. Electrification may be a solution. If the Shannon scheme is developed then electrified lines, shorter trains at more frequent intervals, and short, quick goods trains carrying perishable traffic may possibly solve our difficulties. The only other solution, frankly, is a reduction in labour costs. That is not anticipated by the Bill. It would be no more possible under this Bill than under the existing situation. I am reluctantly forced to think that the hope of a reduction in rates held out here, is a vain and fallacious one.

The President said that under the existing system there will be no reduction of rates and fares for an indefinite period. I am afraid that the same will apply to his Bill, and unless a stronger case and a more definite promise of economy, of definite improvements in working, and of a certain reduction in rates and fares is made, I cannot vote for it.

I do not propose to follow along the main lines of argument. They have been fairly well covered by previous speakers. I will endeavour to confine myself to some of the lines specifically mentioned in this Bill, and particularly the baronially-guaranteed lines. In this matter I should like to say that Deputy Hewat mentioned some very interesting things. He told us that the people responsible for the introduction of the baronially-guaranteed lines were the people in the districts through which those lines run, and that, therefore, they should bear the burden. Let us take a glance at one line which may be said to be typical of most of those lines in the country. I refer to the West Clare line. What do we find in regard to it? We find that at the Spring Assizes of 1884 a resolution was passed by the Clare Grand Jury declaring in favour of the line and declaring that a dividend of 4 per cent. per annum shall be guaranteed and payable half-yearly in perpetuity upon a sum of £170,000. Does anybody in the Dáil suggest that the Grand Jury of Clare in 1884 represented the views of the people of Clare at that period, or that a Grand Jury of Clare would represent the opinions of the people there at this period?

We want to analyse why this burden should be placed upon the ratepayers of County Clare. In 1884 the line was established, and between the guaranteed dividend and a working loss we find there was at least £6,000 lost annually to the county. Over a period of 40 years that loss comes to £240,000. On top of that we find we are asked to pay £4,320 for ten years more, which amounts in entirety to £283,200. That is all for a burden that we had no responsibility in placing upon ourselves, and for a burden which an absentee body put upon us. In the matter of this guaranteed dividend there was a representation of three to five. The County Council had three representatives, and there were five on the other side. I have studied the Bill as carefully as I could and have endeavoured to ascertain what representation the people now asked to foot the bill for the guaranteed dividend are to get.

If my history is right, I think there was a revolution on the motto of "no taxation without representation." I do not suggest there will be a revolution as a result of this, but it certainly merits very serious consideration, and I would like to know where those who are asked to foot the bill are in the matter of representation? It may interest the President to know that some people who are asked to pay for this railway have never seen the line. As a matter of fact, to their own personal knowledge they could not swear that such a line exists. If there is power to extend the area over which this rate can be struck, there should also be power to revoke it, and find the money from some other sources. The President, I think, said that the burden of a baronial line is a negligible quantity. If that is so, it is not a negligible quantity so far as the ratepayers are concerned. They do not get any service from the line at all adequate to the amount they are asked to pay for it. The service they get is not at all adequate. In calculating the income of the main line, it would be very interesting to know whether the main line would take into account the source of income that these baronial guaranteed lines were to the main lines. That is, say, they act as feeders. They have brought thousands and thousands of pounds to it, and they have given it income from a thousand and one sources, and it would be very interesting to know whether any calculation would be made of the sources of income these baronial guaranteed lines were to the main line. This is a point which requires attention in the matter of the feeding of the main lines.

There are in this particular line— and I am taking this line as being fairly typical of other lines—sources of traffic which, had it not been brought to the main line by these baronial lines, would be diverted to other ways. It would be diverted to the Shannon, for instance, and to the sea, towards Galway. In that case the West Clare line and the South Clare line come on to the main line and act as feeders for it. What compensation is going to be paid for that? In the matter of bog in the centre of Clare, it is well known that that is a source of considerable traffic. Is that going to be taken into account? Are the rates going to be relieved of the incubus put on them? What choice had the ratepayers; had they any representation when this incubus of four per cent. per annum baronial guarantee was put upon them? There are other sources of traffic, too, which these lines bring to the main line, the slate traffic and such things. When these industries get under proper control, and are worked in a proper way, what amount of traffic will we find being brought to the main line by these baronial lines? I suggest to the President that these things should be taken into account and that the rates of that county and of every county, for that matter—this is only a typical instance—should be relieved of the burdens cast upon them because they had no representation on the old Grand Jury when these things were forced on them. I would also like to have, from the President, what representation those ratepayers who pay the guaranteed dividends are to have in the way of control over the amalgamated or unified line?

I want to make a suggestion, and it is this: the President should not press this Second Reading to a division to-day.

I have no intention of pressing it to a division. I expect it will be passed without a division.

That is a point that is worth consideration. I want to make one point also that is worth consideration. No one will question the magnitude or the importance of this Bill. No one will urge that this Bill should be rushed through without adequate consideration. The present stage is one of considering the general principles of the proposal. There have been several important speeches made to-day. These bear upon that important aspect of the measure. These speeches were carefully prepared, I am sure, and they are worth very careful consideration. I do think that, taking into consideration the magnitude of this Bill, and taking into consideration the fact that the speeches that have been delivered to-day on the Second Reading of this Bill are such as deserved very, very careful and weighty consideration. I also say that we in the Dáil ought to have an opportunity of considering this Bill and these speeches during the recess. We should have an opportunity of resuming the discussion and the consideration of the general principles of this measure in the light of the statements that have been made to-day, and we could do that better when the Dáil re-assembles after the recess. I cannot see that there is such terrific urgency for the carrying through of this Second Reading that another day after the recess would be too late to have the Second Reading decided. But I do think that the consideration that those who are interested in this measure would give to this Bill and its principles and its implications during the recess would add considerably to the weight and value of the decision that would be given on the Second Reading, if the Second Reading were deferred until then. I would therefore put it to the President whether or not there is such terrific urgency for the resolution carrying the Second Reading to-day, and whether or not in the interests of the country, and in the interests of the value of the measure, that this would give us more time to consider the Second Reading and to consider the general principles of the Bill before a decision is taken on this Stage.

If there is an answer expected now——


Is this to conclude the debate, or is it an answer to Deputy Milroy?

It is an answer to Deputy Milroy. If it is a question of answering that question now, I must say I cannot see my way to agree to that. This Bill has been in the hands of the Deputies now for a week, and, if there are infirmities in it, they have had considerable time to put down amendments. I usually know my ground in these cases, and I know the influences that are at work in this Bill, and in connection with it. I want these influences either to beat me now or to get beaten—one way or another.

I am not acting at the instigation of any influence.

I know that; I am not referring to Deputy Milroy.

But I am simply thinking of the interests of this measure and of its bearing on the interests of the country, and I cannot see how the measure will be jeopardised, how the consideration of its value will be diminished by a fuller consideration. The President said the Bill has been in the hands of Deputies for some considerable time. It has been in my hands for about a fortnight, but I have to confess that my time has been so occupied that I have not had time to read the text yet.

Does the Deputy intend to speak on the measure now?

I do not. I am simply pressing the point that a further opportunity for consideration of the Bill ought to be afforded to the Dáil. I am not opposing the Bill at all.

In case Deputy Milroy might be under a wrong impression so far as I am concerned, I want to assure him that I have not prepared a speech, and consequently my observations must necessarily be very brief. Deputy Johnson expressed the opinion, and with that opinion I quite agree, that the protest that was made to-day by Deputy Hewat, although he said he was not speaking for the directors, that the directors and the shareholders were opposed to this Bill, was not a genuine protest. Deputy Cooper took issue with Deputy Johnson on that, and gave as a reason and as a justification for his opinion a conversation which he had with a railway director yesterday or the day before. It was only at the concluding portion of the President's speech, when he made a statement that they would be very glad to give the greatest possible consideration to any amendments for the improvement of the Bill, that I realised that he held a different opinion on this question from the opinions and the views of the railway directors. We, and I am sure other Deputies also, have been supplied with a document in the names of the Great Southern and Western, the Midland Great Western, and the Cork, Bandon, and South Coast Companies, giving their considered views, and, I daresay, representing the views of the shareholders upon what was, in their opinion, not really a Bill but an Act, the best possible proof, by the term which they gave to this document, of their desire and their hope that the Bill should become an Act, without any amendment. When a Government brings forward a very complicated and exhaustive measure, complicated in many ways by reason of the numerous Bills dealing with this question previously, a Bill for the re-organisation of the railways, I suggest that it does not bring it forward at the request of any particular class. That was not the view expressed by Deputy Hewat when he stated his opinion that the measure was brought forward on the representation of some particular class. I daresay that a Government, in a measure of this kind, should only be actuated and prompted by the desire, as the representatives of the people, to re-organise the railways in a way that would enable them to be of great advantage to the trading community and the nation as a whole. I suggest that although we are a small State, divided temporarily, the re-organisation of our railways, or lines of communication, have a bearing, and a very important bearing, on our lines of defence. In saying that I do not anticipate a war, but we must be prepared for such things, and in considering the question of railway communications we cannot ignore that of national defence.

Is Deputy Davin supporting the Bill?

I will let the Deputy know that before I sit down. I would have been in a better position to speak on the Second Reading had I had the advantage of making a careful study of the President's speech. Following it as well as I could, lengthy as it was, I could only come to the conclusion in the end that it was not a detailed explanation of the Bill such as we were entitled to. In my opinion, it was something more in the nature of an address, such as one would expect that the President, on an occasion of this kind, would deliver to a meeting of the Dublin Stock Exchange or to railway shareholders in general. If that was the object, rather than a detailed explanation of the different clauses of this complicated measure, then I am sure that the railway stockholders and the members of the Dublin Stock Exchange will be in a very happy frame of mind when they read his speech tomorrow morning.

I have for a long time taken the view that the railway system of this country was not established or constructed or intended to meet the requirements of a country that was likely to devolop its resources. The directors were much more interested in dividends than in developments. That is quite the opposite to the case of those who control the railways in England, and who, as may be seen by their different activities, have always anticipated development, rather than wait for something to come which could not come without their assistance. We have a glaring example of that in the huge amount of money, millions and millions, at present being expended by the British companies, money that has been raised from the British taxpayers and handed over as compensation representing deferred maintenance in connection with control during the European War period. One company, I see from the Press and it is only one example, has decided to expend £14,000,000 in improving its lines, in building new engines and rolling stock, and in that way, from the national point of view, helping to relieve unemployment. What is the position from that point of view here? The Irish railway companies— and I am only giving this as an example and a proof of my statement—received £3,000,000 for the same reason as the £60,000,000 was given to the British railways, and although this was handed over by the British Government, it was collected from the Irish taxpayers, in discharge of compensation representing deferred maintenance. Instead of being expended for the purpose for which it was given, that money was set aside for the payment of dividends.

That is, I contend the best proof that one could look for to show that those who control the Irish railways are not interested in the development of the country as much as in the earning of dividends and fees for the shareholders and themselves. I contend, therefore, that the Government, having declined to adopt a system of State ownership and control, should in this measure take as much control as they possibly can, from the point of view of compelling the company to carry out their duties in that respect, and any clauses that give control to the Government to deal with the company and make them recognise their responsibilities in that respect I certainly will not dissent from. Some time ago a question was asked here as to whether this Bill would deal with canals as well as railways. The Minister for Industry and Commerce definitely stated that the Bill would only deal with railways, but what do we find? We find that the Bill deals with railways and canals inasmuch as it gives control to the greater combine which it is proposed to set up, over one of the principal canals. I think the Government should reconsider that particular aspect of the Bill, especially in view of the fact that the Minister for Industry and Commerce has previously stated, and the President has confirmed his statement that the Government have not yet come to a final decision as to whether the canals, which are or should be one of the great public highways, are or are not of any use to the community. Until a final decision on that matter is come to by the Government, I do not think that they should prejudice the decision by the inclusion of the Royal Canal in the combine. I take exception to the composition of the Amalgamated Company. I believe that the Bill should have a conditional clause, and another Schedule which would include railways working into and out of the Free State, such as the Great Northern, Sligo and Leitrim, and the Northern Counties, whereby it could be made possible when the Boundary question is settled to the satisfaction of the Government, that these railways, particularly those the greater portion of whose mileage is in the Free State area, should come in on an appointed day.

I have for a long time held the opinion, and expressed it here, that the Boundary Question is bound up very much with the settlement of the railway problem. I believe that a conditional clause of that kind would be one of the best levers the Government could use to compel the Six Counties, or the Northern Government, to realise that they will be up against a very stiff proposition if they do not conform to the spirit of Clause 12 of the Treaty, on many grounds, but that one principally. That is the reason I submit why the Government should reconsider that aspect of the case, and adopt the principle put forward in the Transport and Communication Bill, by naming an appointed day and making it possible for the Great Northern Railway and others that on the appointed day, and when most convenient, they should be brought into the jurisdiction of this Amalgamated Company on the same conditions as the other companies are brought in. I contend, following that argument, that the Great Northern and other railway companies should be included in the Second Schedule, and should be called on to bear their share of the burden which has been taken off the baronially guaranteed railways, and placed on the other railways which are to form the Amalgamated Company. I see no reason why the wealthiest company in Ireland, the Great Northern, should be relieved of the payment of whatever reasonable share of compensation should be paid by them for the relief of the amounts taken off the baronially guaranteed railways. The Great Northern Railway Company, in particular, will share in the benefits of the baronially guaranteed railways in so far as either directly or indirectly these railways are feeders of the Great Northern.

There is the question of the constitution of the new Board. I have considerable doubt as to the wisdom of the composition of the new Board, but it was hoped at one time, and suggested, that the new Board would include representation on behalf of the Government. I fully realise that representation, if it was not a majority representation, would be useless in many respects, but there is one very useful purpose which even a minority representation, or a small representation, on that Board could serve, and that would be to learn a great deal from the inner workings of the directors of this company, and to use that knowledge on behalf of the Government for the purpose of assisting them in carrying out whatever constructive measures may be necessary in the interests of the nation from time to time. I believe the information that would be secured from representation on that Board would repay to a great extent any compensation that may be necessary to secure it.

A good deal of comment has been made upon the composition and powers of this tribunal. I admit that the tribunal have very great powers, indeed, and I have a considerable amount of sympathy with them, whoever they may be, in endeavouring to carry out the work which will be placed before them so early after their formation. I imagine, although they are only given a period of life of five years, and the first five years will certainly be the hardest, the Government may be compelled to pension them at the end of that period. The tribunal in reference to the question of rates will have power only to deal with the section of the excluded railways which run inside the territory of jurisdiction of the Free State Government. Supposing—I put this to the President, and I hope he will answer it— that there is an unfair diversion of traffic taking place to Belfast Port as a result of the quotation and application of uneconomic rates over that line, how will he meet a situation of that kind? He may say the railway tribunal will have power to determine the rates over the Great Northern section of that railway up to the Boundary. Assuming the railway rate within the Free State, or from a given point within the Free State to the Boundary, is raised for the purpose of placing the Great Northern Railway on fair competitive terms with other companies feeding the Port of Dublin, or feeding other places from the Port of Dublin, I say that the Great Northern Railway Company, through the powers that still remain in their hands, will have power to reduce the rates beyond the Boundary to the Port of Belfast, and so nullify the action of the tribunal. I ask the President how he proposes to deal with a situation of that kind, with which I am sure he will be faced as a result of the setting up of this tribunal, and the powers they will have. Deputy Johnson has pointed out that the tribunal has the double task of revising the rates inside a period of three months from the date of the passing of the Act, and at the same time dealing with the terms under which the railway or railways may be compelled to come into this scheme, if they are not willing to do so. I seriously suggest that is a task, I care not who the men are who may be called on to perform it, that will be impossible to carry out within the time limit laid down, to consider the rates on the one hand and the time limit for the coming into operation of the Act. Deputy Johnson has also referred to a very important point as to whether or not the tribunal will have all the powers which they are supposed to possess in dealing with the question of capital, and other questions in connection with the financial arrangements of that section of the amalgamated group who have already come to some arrangement about which none of us know anything.

I also want to know whether the Government are prepared to lay on the Table of the Dáil—I suppose an amendment to that clause of the Bill would be necessary—the rules and procedure which will govern the Railway Rates Tribunal before it sets out to carry on its work. I think it is very important that the rules and procedure adopted by the Tribunal should be laid on the Table of the Dáil so that, if necessary, a discussion may take place on them. I suggest that the Bill makes no provision for such things. We have also heard a good deal about the question of private agreement between English and Irish railway companies. We have been told by the President—and it is true—that an understanding exists between the old Great Western Railway of England and the Great Southern and Western Co. of Ireland, to the effect that all unconsigned traffic south of certain points on the Great Southern system must be sent by the Rosslare and Fishguard route. I contend that the shortest route is not necessarily the best. The shortest route, from the point of view of the user of the railways, is not necessarily the shortest route from a mileage standpoint, but it is the most expeditious so far as traffic is concerned. If you have three sailings a day from the port of Dublin as against two weekly sailings from Rosslare, I suggest that it is not in the interests of the traders that an agreement of that kind should be allowed to remain in existence, and that traffic should be sent by the route by which it can reach its destination in the most expeditious way. I think that the existence of such an agreement which enables the Great Southern Company to do that, is not in the interest of the traders who are assisting the railway companies to earn their dividends. I suggest also that, even in the interests of the railway company, it would be desirable to send the traffic by a longer route, because in the case of through rates the railway companies send traffic over a longer route which would be the most expeditious and would get the greatest amount out of the rate on a division basis. For these two reasons I contend that it is not desirable in the interests of traders that the railway companies should be allowed to continue the existence of such arrangements.

I have evidence here in a letter which has been handed to me that that particular agreement to which I refer is being carried out to the letter of the law at present. The agreement was come to in 1906, and circulars were sent to the stationmasters and other officials in the areas affected on the de-control of the railways, and there is the closest possible supervision over all railway officials to see that that agreement is carried out to the letter of the law. The President stated that all agreements upon the strength of which expenditure is being incurred will be continued. It would be information for me to know that expenditure was incurred in connection with the making of that agreement. Deputy Hewat, who always makes himself very vocal in regard to this matter, is very keen on the question of competition. I remember hearing Deputy Hewat express different views on that question when it was a question of the canals coming up against the railways. Although I mention this matter, I have no interest in the working of the canals, but I believe that the waterways which were constructed at a high cost to the community should not be allowed to go out of existence until there is good reason in favour of it. Deputy Hewat would not encourage competition between railways and canals, so that his argument falls to the ground on that question. I am not sure that he would favour agreements between tram companies, railway companies and canal companies to stop that competition.

I would like Deputy Davin to give an instance of where I said any such thing.

Unfortunately, I cannot turn up the official records at the moment, but I have a distinct recollection of that statement being made.

I hope that the Deputy will look it up and let me see it.

I will try. The President said that the amount of unconsigned traffic which was carried in accordance with these private agreements does not amount to ten per cent., or about ten per cent. It would be very difficult to estimate the amount of traffic carried under such conditions, because it is owing to the lack of interest in the carrying of traffic on the part of the senders that the traffic is so consigned. It would be very interesting from one year to another to see how the balance of ten per cent. for unconsigned traffic was arrived at. It is the experience of officials, especially in rural areas, that most of the traffic is unconsigned, except there is a very alert and energetic canvasser acting for a company in a particular town. Undoubtedly in the large towns and cities there is very little traffic handed to the railway companies in that way.

I want to draw the attention of the President to a matter upon which I have received a good deal of pressure. In the British railway group that now exists—and even prior to their existence, so far as the smaller companies were concerned—they always took sufficient interest in the staff, both outdoor and indoor, to make some provision for them in their old age. Pension funds have been in existence and improvements have been made since the grouping in England in conditions and services so far as pensions are concerned. Railwaymen have always gone into the railway services on the assumption that their low wage was a result of permanency of employment and of perquisites, such as passes and other privileges to which they were entitled. Negotiations have been in progress for a considerable period with many of the Irish railways, including the principal ones which will be parties to this new Amalgamated Company, requesting them to agree to the formation of pension funds for their employés, particularly their outdoor employés, on similar conditions to the pension funds in operation on railways across Channel. The latest reply which I have here from the General Manager of one of the leading companies is that they were unable to entertain any proposal of this kind in view of pending railway legislation. I hope that the President will, between this and the Committee stage, take this matter up with the representatives of the companies, with a view to getting them to agree to the inclusion of a clause in this Bill making it possible for the establishment of such funds, and between the date of the passing of the Act and the date of the coming into operation of the new group, that detailed consideration and detailed schemes will be drafted and handed to the Minister for Industry and Commerce, making provision for the setting up of such pension funds, which are very desirable in this and in every other country where railway men are employed.

I also want to draw the attention of the President to the fact that in most railways of this country the railway directors, against their will and desire, were compelled to agree to a system of open examination for their clerical staff. Many railway companies, up to the point of the blocking of their Bills in the British House of Commons, eventually agreed to the opening of their service for the younger men who were anxious to go into the service of those companies through open competitive examination. I suggest that a clause should be inserted in this Bill making it compulsory on the new Amalgamated Company to recruit their clerical staff through the system of open competitive examination. I would also like to draw the attention of the President to the fact that at one time there existed a railway called the Birr and Portumna Railway. I would like him to ask the officials who are advising him in connection with this Bill to look up the history of that company, and to find out the conditions under which it was taken over by the Great Southern and Western Railway and what they did to see that the railway was destroyed, and to say at the next stage of this Bill whether he is prepared to compel the Amalgamated Company, part of which is the Great Southern and Western Railway Company, to include this old line in the new scheme. The railway, laughable as it might seem, was originally constructed out of public funds, and I do not think that any business undertaking that has been established upon the strength of the taxpayers' money should be allowed to go out of existence if it is possible to maintain it. I contend also that the Bill ought to contain a provision for preventing the companies capitalising in the future against the State, the State assistance to the railway undertakings. Even the President himself has assumed that this system may ultimately fail and that as a result of its failure—it will, I suppose, get a limited period of trial—it may be necessary for the State to take over the railways of this country. I suggest that any assistance given by the State should not be capitalised in the undertaking and charged later when the State thinks it advisable to take over the railways.

I, as one of the members of the Labour Party who supported the Transport and Communications Bill in this House, have hesitated before taking part in this debate. I wished, first, to hear the views of the farmers and others who helped the Government to turn down that measure. Surely if the Farmers' Party supported the Government in turning down the Transport and Communication Bill what is their alternative views now as to their solution. What is their alternative policy? I hope that the Farmers' Party, who have always been so interested from a debating point of view in the railway systems of this country, will state that the section of the community which they represent is the only section which has suffered from the present system, and that Deputy Gorey at a later stage will produce a better Bill than the one now before the House. As one who supports only a system of railway organisation owned and controlled by the State, I cannot subscribe to the measure now before the House. Therefore, on principle, and as many of the clauses do not meet with my approval, I propose to vote against the Bill if it is put to a division.

I am sorry to disappoint Deputy Davin in not rising before. I am even a closer sticker to my seat than he is.

at this stage took the Chair.

Deputy Hewat said he was not aware of any demand from any section of the community which is concerned in connection with this measure. This question of railway rates has been a burning question with the people that we represent for the last four or five years. Since the war it has been a hardy annual at congresses, meetings, etc. The newspapers always published our discussions and conclusions on this matter. Still, no one seems to be aware of it. The fact is that the position is intolerable from our point of view. At the moment we would welcome anything. We were almost at the point of welcoming Deputy Johnson's Bill, and only this Bill was in the offing I am not quite sure what our attitude would have been. We approve of the main provisions of this Bill that it is hoped will effect the desired necessity of a reduction in railway rates. If it does that we welcome it.

If it does not?

If it does not we can take a further step.

Hear, hear.

It aims at the reduction of overhead charges, and because it aims at that we support it. We are quite aware that the reduction of overhead charges with regard to management is not the only reduction which this railway system will face. It must face a reduction from top to bottom. This Bill makes an arrangement that the railway management will put its house in order at the top. We hope it will continue that progress to the bottom, and if it does not there is another step to be taken, and we will have to take it. Deputy Hewat referred to competition. We know there is no such thing as competition among the railway companies. The Great Southern Company and the Dublin and South Eastern Company are only meeting at one point where they could compete, and the possibility of competition at that particular point is almost nil. Competition at the Port of Waterford between those two companies is impossible. Competition between other companies coming into contact has been got over long since, and those companies, long before this measure was thought of, had arranged that there would be no competition between them. When we talk about competition we talk about something that any business man here knows did not exist for years.

I hope Deputy Gorey will not take me as assenting to that heresy.

Or me either.

We know that Deputy Redmond is very fond of Waterford, and that he may be thinking more in terms of Waterford than in terms of the nation.

When Deputy Gorey said that there was no possibility of competition in Waterford in regard to these two railway companies I disagreed with him, and I disagree with him still. There has been competition between the London and North Western and the Great Western Railway of England in Waterford. There is competition still between them, and this Bill will show whether that competition will last.

The Deputy is entitled to his opinion, but he has not convinced me. I am not aware of what the London and North Western has done in the way of creating competition in Waterford.

They compete with the Great Western Railway Company for the business of Waterford through the Dublin and South Eastern Railway Company. Perhaps I might inform Deputy Gorey that the Dublin and South Eastern Railway Company goes into Waterford as well as the Great Southern and Western Railway Company.

That is not news to me, but still I hold that as an effective competitor it does not exist.

That is the point.

It is, and Deputy Redmond knows it.

Does the Deputy mean to say that the London and North-Western Railway Company is not an effective competitor with the Great Western Railway of England?

In England, yes, but not in Waterford.

I say that is not a fact.

If you want facts I think you ought to enlighten yourself on questions of fact, and if you want to do that, look at the railway rates charged by the Dublin and South Eastern Company. It is a wonder to me that the people of that district have stood these charges so long.

And the charges also. I suppose, of the Great Southern and Western Railway Co.?

Yes, to a lesser extent. If the Deputy wants to make another speech I will sit down. If he were to put all his interruptions together they would form another speech. As I said earlier, we are not very enthusiastic about this measure. We do not think it will do a lot of good, but we do believe that it will do a little good. We believe it is the choice of the best of a lot of bad roads to get relief from the burdens from which we have been suffering so long as far as the railways of the country are concerned.

What is your road?

I will tell you before I am finished. With regard to the baronially-guaranteed lines, the people whom we represent here are largely the people who have to bear the burden of these lines. In some areas the burden, as far as these lines are concerned, is at the moment 1s. 6d. in the pound on the rates. That is an extraordinary burden. I believe that the rate varies in some places from 6d. to 1s. 6d. in the pound, and I have just been informed that in a few instances the rate goes up to 2s. in the pound. Those of us who live in the more favourably circumstanced areas, where no such burdens have to be borne, have considerable sympathy with the people in these districts who have to pay rates on these baronially-guaranteed railways. As far as these people are concerned we have no objection to see them relieved, and I want to make it clear that I mean relief and not release. It is a matter that must be considered very seriously. At the moment we do not advocate absolute release, but we do advocate relief. This is an aspect of the Bill that, on the Committee Stage, will deserve very serious attention indeed. Now with regard to what my alternative is. Deputy Davin seems very anxious to find out all about it. I will first give him what my ideas are, roughly, and will then elaborate them. Our Irish railway system is largely a rural system with very little traffic over it and very few trains running. We have a railway organisation at the moment and it is absolutely ridiculous to have it continued. Imagine that on some of these railways in our rural areas of Ireland an eight-hour day is operating with, perhaps, one train passup and another passing down in the day. That is the kind of thing that must end.

Are you sure that that system operates in all the rural areas?

Certainly, in many of the rural areas.

Not in the rural areas.

I am familiar with rural areas and I know that the system does operate in them.

I am speaking with knowledge, and I know that the system is not in operation in rural areas.

The cost of staffing to the railway companies as between pre-war days and now is a sufficient answer to the Deputy.

Not on that point.

I want to say this, that an authority which can give us unified railways can also nationalise railways. The authority that can do that can take a further step if necessary, and in this measure the railway owners perhaps are getting a last chance of putting their house in order.

And of filling their pockets at the same time.

The railway owners are now getting a chance to make their organisation right from top to bottom, and if they fail that further step to which I have referred can be taken, and as far as we are concerned we are prepared to take it. As the President pointed out in his speech, the rates of the Irish railway companies to-day are 150 per cent. higher than they were in pre-war days, while in the case of the English railway companies the rate is only 50 per cent. higher. The remedy for that, I think, is very plain, and that remedy will have to be found and explored. Deputy Redmond in his speech approached this question more from the particular than from the national point of view. I am inclined to approach it from the national point of view, leaving out altogether the particular point of view.

I cannot allow that statement. I did not say that I approached it more from the particular than from the national point of view. I said I approached it first from the national, and then from the particular point of view.

Perhaps I misunderstood what the Deputy said, and I apologise. I heard a lot of talk about Waterford in this connection, and perhaps I have got Waterford on my nerves. I heard so much about Dublin, too, that it also got on my nerves. We heard a lot about the injury that would be done to the port of Dublin and to the port of Waterford. To my mind, all the ports in the country deserve the right to develop as much as Waterford or Dublin. I do not stand for a monopoly for Dublin or Waterford or anywhere else. What we want are cheaper rates and a better and quicker service.

Do you think that this Bill is going to give you that?

I am not referring to this at the moment, but to some arguments used here by other Deputies. My friend, Deputy Johnson, if I might call him so, referred to my attitude with regard to nationalisation. He instanced, I think, my attitude with regard to the fisheries. There is no analogy whatever between the two. The railways were provided by private enterprise, but I have yet to learn that private enterprise made either the rivers or the fish.

Was it private enterprise made the railways?

I think it was—If I am wrong Deputy Davin must get his information elsewhere. I am not in the position to give it to him; there is no analogy between fisheries and railways. Fisheries, to my mind, stand alone, at least that is my idea of the matter. My idea was that we should have a big national scheme of development. Obviously the spending of a large sum of money upon a scheme in that direction by the ratepayers for a national act could not be used for the interests of any individual. If the State made the railways it would be a different matter, but they did not make the railways. As I said, we have no very great enthusiasm about this scheme. We do not think that it can do much, though it may do something. We think it is a first step in the right direction, and that it will make things ready for the adoption of a larger and more effective measure, and is, I contend, a step in the right direction.

I think after the blessing Deputy Gorey has given to this Bill there is not much good left in it. However, this is a most inopportune time that the Government has chosen to introduce this Bill. As far as I know the different Ministries in connection with our Government are all choked up with business at the moment. In fact, the President complained several times last week, that there were so many other things to attend to there was not even time to call the Executive Council together, yet, notwithstanding the congestion of business in the various Departments of the Government and in this House, we now have this Bill on top of all that. I was told to-day, before this debate took place that we had business enough in hands at the moment to keep us busily engaged on five days a week up to the 1st August next. I do not know who was responsible for this idea, but I believe he had some inside information, and if not, on top of all this business we are to enter on a discussion of this most contentious measure, which will take up a very considerable time, and if on top of that again we are to have a Prices Bill and an Education Bill —and the Minister for Agriculture told us yesterday he had four Bills ready to introduce—I do not know when we will finish. I do not know where Deputies will be found to attend to this legislation that the Government is bringing forward. I, as a business man, feel I am giving more time to this House than my business can afford; and if the Government continues to accumulate business on top of business, I do not know where it will end. Take the Housing Bill—I am ashamed of it, but there is no time to go through it properly. The fact is measures are pulled out of the oven before the cook has time to cook them, and if that congestion is to become worse in the future than in the past, then the measures will get less cooking.


It would be a good thing if the Deputy would address himself to the Bill before the House.

I think what the country wants, instead of contentious measures of this kind, is peaceful legislation for the benefit of the country. If you consult the business men, say, in Cork or Tullamore, or anywhere else, I am sure you will find the same idea prevalent as exists among the business men in Dublin, that what the country needs most is a holiday from legislation for a number of years. That being so, why are measures forced upon us here for which to my mind there is no urgency at all?

I have not been able to listen to the whole of the discussion, and I have not heard what were, I am sure, the interesting speeches delivered by Deputy Johnson and Deputy Davin and others, but I have yet to see the urgency of this measure. Who is calling for a measure of legislation of this kind? Surely from the business men's point of view it would be much sounder policy to hold up this measure until the important question of the Boundary is settled than forcing it through now, because if a settlement is arrived at on that most important question, in accordance with what is in the mind of some of the members of the Government, it will be necessary to recast this Bill. Deputy Gorey says that there is no competition in Ireland at the moment. I am afraid if he consulted the businessmen in the rest of Ireland, in Limerick and Cork and Waterford and Dublin, he would find very few of them to coincide with the views he expressed that there is no competition at the moment.

No competition among the railways?

Let me give Deputy Gorey some information. He is always anxious for information, and I would like to give him some information on this point. The railways in Northern Ireland charge a flat rate of seventy-five per cent. over pre-war rates. The railways in Southern Ireland, without exception, charge a flat rate of 120 per cent. over pre-war rates. The President gave a higher figure. He put it, I think, at 150 per cent. Now what is happening in the West of Ireland where the Northern Railway is looking for traffic, and where other lines are looking for traffic? The Northern offers to convey traffic on their lines to the Port of Belfast at rates 75 per cent. higher than their pre-war. The other companies looking for traffic in the South for their railways charge a rate which is 120 per cent. over the pre-war level, yet according to Deputy Gorey there is no competition in Ireland.

No competition between the railways mentioned in the unification scheme.

You have to go to Waterford to find that.

I am quite satisfied that when this Bill is passed a great deal of the competition that exists in Southern Ireland and that we, business men, well know does exist, will be killed by this scheme.

On a point of information——


You cannot ask a question on a point of information.

On a point of explanation——


There is no such point at the moment.

I am satisfied that the Bill as it stands, if passed, will kill whatever competition there is in Southern Ireland. But it will not kill competition in the West of Ireland, which is spreading, and spreading considerably. Northern business men are capturing a great deal of the trade in the West. Through the different railways opening into the West they are able to deliver goods in towns at prices that Dublin men and Southern men cannot touch. This Bill will not give any protection to that trade. This Bill is certain to prevent competition. This Bill is going to stabilise existing rates of 120 per cent. over pre-war rates, as against 75 per cent. on the Northern line. Probably the latter rates will be considerably lower. You will add to the burden of these main Southern lines, baronial and other non-paying railways which will be such a burden on them that it will be impossible for us to hope for any reduction of rates in the future. The result will be that the whole trade of Southern Ireland will suffer, and suffer severely, as a result of this measure. So I say with all earnestness to the President and members of the Government, let us have a little more daylight on this question before you ask us are we prepared to accept it. Business is not normal in the Free State—I mention that instead of "Southern Ireland," as some of the Deputies the other day objected to my calling it "Southern Ireland." I only wanted to call it "Southern Ireland" to contrast it with "Northern Ireland."

In what part of Southern Ireland is Donegal?

The Free State, as we understand it, includes Donegal, and I would like to know, as the President has interjected that remark, what benefit Donegal is going to derive from this measure.

I will tell you when I speak.

Donegal is cut off from the railways in the Free State. What return is Donegal going to get though it is going to pay its taxes in order to subsidise the railways in the Free State? Let us be fair with this question. We, business men in Ireland, have got to compete with those across the water. All our main industries are competitive industries. If railways in the Free State are going to charge a rate of 120 per cent. over pre-war rates what chances have we got in the markets on the other side against producers who can put their goods in the same markets at rates 50 per cent. over the pre-war level? The thing is obvious. Deputy Gorey says he cannot see that this Bill is going to do much. If we cannot see that the Bill is going to effect some improvement, why force it on the country? I am satisfied that it is going to do no good. As far as I am concerned, if it is going to do no good, I am not going to support it. Deputy Gorey also mentioned that as far as he was concerned all ports should get equal treatment. Is this Bill going to give ports equal treatment? Deputy Redmond referred to the undertaking which exists and which will continue to exist between the Great Southern Railway and the Great Western Railway of England, whereby all possible traffic is to be diverted to Rosslare. Is that fair to the port of Galway? Is that fair to the port of Limerick? Is that fair to the port of Waterford? Is that fair to the port of Cork? Is that fair to the port of Dublin?

May I intervene to correct an obvious mistake on the part of Deputy Good. "All" traffic, I already stated to-day, has been erroneously stated by the Port and Docks Board. That is not the case. If Deputy Good had been here during the whole of this debate he would not have fallen into that error.

I am in the happy position that I am not a member of the Port and Docks Board, so that I am not tied to any port. As far as I am concerned, I am anxious to see what best can be done for the Free State, and if I were satisfied even that we were to sacrifice the port of Dublin, if this Bill would do good for the Free State, it would have no more wholehearted supporter than myself. But I am satisfied that this Bill is going to injure not only Dublin but every port of the Free State with the exception of the port of Rosslare, through which the whole traffic of the Free State will be forced. Traffic from the West of Ireland at present comes possibly through Dublin. If this Bill is put into force I am satisfied from the figures I have already given that that traffic will go over the Northern Railways and through the port of Belfast. A considerable volume of it is already going through Belfast, but that volume will be largely increased. Do what they like, the Government cannot prevent that. If you tell me that you can get traders to give you 45 per cent. more, that traffic may be carried through the Free State, instead of by the Northern route, I do not understand business men.

There are many other things that I would like to say on this Bill, but I will have to reserve them for later stages of the Bill. It has been mentioned that business men are anxious to retain competition in the railways. I hope I have made it clear, without going into any unnecessary detail, that competition exists at the moment. If any Deputy has any doubt about that let him come with me to my office for half an hour and I am satisfied that when he leaves it he will have no doubt on that subject. Not alone is there competition, but there is keen competition at the moment. We business men say, and we are absolutely of one view on this, that if we are to hold the markets that we sell in at the moment we must have competitive rates in the future even to a greater extent than at the moment. Everyone who has the welfare of the commerce of the Free State at heart is interested in having that competition increased. That competition can be increased, I am quite satisfied, not by unification, which will kill competition, but by grouping—I am not going to suggest any groups at the moment —as has been done on the other side and many of the burdens that railways are carrying on under at the moment done away with. I am satisfied, however, that the time to arrange those groups is not now. I said that this Dáil is too congested with business to give proper consideration to such an important matter as this at the present time. Normal conditions do not prevail on our railways or in our businesses, and it is unwise when matters are in that state to alter our systems. Let us get into a settled state, and then we will be in a position to judge. The last thing I would say to you, gentlemen, is this—let your railways alone until your boundary is settled; when that is settled you will be in a position to consider the whole matter properly and, I hope, efficiently.

By way of personal explanation, may I read for the Dáil the exact terms of the agreement I referred to in my speech. I declined to read them at the time, because I did not think it was necessary. It is only a matter of a few lines.

I think the Deputy, if he wished to read them, should have read them when he was making his speech. I allowed him some latitude in personal explanation when he was interrupting Deputy Gorey. I think he made his case clear.

By way of personal explanation, may I read the exact terms of agreement which it is proposed to perpetuate under this Bill?


I have already said the Deputy may not.

Very well, Sir.

On a point of order, this House has got to make up its mind as to how it is to vote. As two contradictory statements have been made——

Is this a point of order?


It is a point of order. I want to ask are we not entitled to guidance in the matter. The President said an agreement does not exist as read out. The Act of Parliament is there, and I think we ought to be entitled to know what is in it. There is an agreement, and I hold that it is unfair to rule Deputy Redmond out.


The Deputy is not entitled to question my ruling.


May I read it, as I have not spoken to-day?



You are not in possession. I am in possession.


I have not called on anybody, and I did not observe Deputy Wilson rise. I now call on Deputy Alfred Byrne.

I do not generally stand up to make speeches, but I would like to quote the text of this Agreement:

"The companies parties hereto, of the second and third parts, will on the opening of the railway between Rosslare and Waterford forward by the Fishguard and Rosslare route, and in the meantime via Waterford, traffic of all descriptions that they can control between such portions of the districts served by the respective systems in the South and West of Ireland and the South and West of England, including London, as may hereafter be agreed between them and as can in the interests of the public be most conveniently forwarded by the Waterford or Fishguard and Rosslare routes."

Now we have the mare's nest!


That Agreement, I hold, injures various ports in the Free State. It ties up travellers and competitors in order to get all the possible traffic for the Rosslare route. Deputy Gorey asked for fair play for all parties and said that Waterford and Dublin got on his nerves. It is better for all parties to know the truth.

As a matter of interest, am I entitled to ask, Sir, if your interpretation of that Article is in any way different from what I stated to-day?


I did not hear the President's statement to-day, and I cannot answer the question.

I said "unconsigned traffic," and I hold that there is no difference between what I said and the actual document read out by Deputy Byrne—the document Deputy Redmond failed to read. I referred to "unconsigned traffic."


It is not a matter on which the Chair can possibly rule.

I wish, as briefly as I can, to reply to the strictures of Deputy Good on this Bill. His remark in opposing the Bill is, "Leave the railways alone." Leaving the railways alone gives us a rate of 120 per cent. over the pre-war standard in the Free State, and we have got to live and compete with the North with a 75 per cent. increase over the pre-war standard. Leaving the railways alone, according to Deputy Good, will help the situation. I cannot understand that reasoning. He said also that we could have this question settled by a rearrangement of groups. He more or less suggested that the groups would be the grouping we have to-day, with the exception of one railway, as opposed to a grouping which would be North and South. I take it that that is the only rearrangement——

I did not specify any groups.

I read that into the Deputy's speech. It is the implication. There is no alternative.

Indeed there is.

The competition we have to-day under private enterprise is competition for through-rate traffic. We have no competition in local traffic. The home trader is very adversely affected by reason of that fact. Deputy Good said: "Why bring in this Bill now? Why not wait until the Boundary question is settled and then bring in a Bill?" It is only a question of time with Deputy Good whether this Bill should be brought forward or not. It is not the principle he is objecting to; it is to the time he is objecting——

When will the Boundary be settled?

I am struck by the continuous interruptions which always take place when any members of these Benches stand up to speak. We are very patient in listening to speeches from the Labour Benches, but I think there have been too many interruptions from them.


There has been a great deal of interruption from every Party. I do not think there has been more from one Party than another, and I do not think there has been unfair interruption on the whole.

I do not complain. We have heard about this Great Southern and Western agreement, but we have heard nothing about the D.S.E.R. and L.N.W.R. agreement. The same competition will remain, because the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and the D.S.E.R. have these through rates in competition with the agreement Deputy Redmond is objecting to. I do not think we will be in any worse position when amalgamation takes place and when both agreements are there. I am very much disappointed that, having referred to the fact that this country consists mainly of agriculturists, no provision has been made by the President by which we would get preferential treatment on these railways. The President has stated he will not bolster up any industries. We do not want him to bolster up the agricultural industry, but I would like him to examine the circumstances in connection with agricultural traffic in Australia, South Africa and Canada, and consider whether it would not be fair in this Bill to give agriculturists preferential treatment. He has not seen fit to do that; although I think he should have done it. Still, I am prepared to support this Bill. The object of the Bill is the elimination of waste in the operation of the railway system. There is nobody here will object to that. That is what we want. We want cheaper transit, we want cheaper rates, and, if we get it by elimination of waste, nobody can object to it.

I do not know whether Deputy Wilson——


Is the Deputy rising on a point of explanation?

On a point of interruption !

The thing which concerns the farmers in this matter is how they are to get cheaper rates, how they are to get rates which will enable them to get anything at all out of the commodities they produce. If Deputies can give us a scheme, or if any alternative scheme be put forward better than this one we are prepared to accept it. But we are waiting for those suggestions. Even Deputy Good has made no suggestion. He says: "Wait until something else happens." In the meantime, we have to pay rates and annuities and we are being bled white by railway rates. If this Bill will bring us relief in railway rates, we will take it with whatever disadvantages it brings. That is the position we occupy.

I want to point out that nationalisation, which is the pet toy of a lot of people here, will not give us cheaper rates. I am sure it will not. You have got the same advantages under this unification scheme that you would have under a nationalisation scheme—absolutely the same advantages. You have got private enterprise working these railways, and at the same time you are not committing the State to anything except a certain dividend to be paid to the owners of the railways. That will come from the people who use the railways; it will not come from the State. Under nationalisation, what would happen would be that you would have to make up a deficit every year amounting to £2,000,000 or £3,000,000. In every country I know of where there has been nationalisation of railways, it has made a tremendous demand on the finances of the country. We all know that. It has been found to work out in practice everywhere. In some of the European countries we know what is happening. They are giving up those State-owned railways and handing them back to private ownership. Now, this is the best scheme, as between those two. It gives you private enterprise; it means better money, and it gives us at the same time, by the elimination of waste in management, a chance of reducing the expenses, and therefore of giving us cheaper rates. If we get cheaper rates, we are quite satisfied. At the present time 80 per cent. of the total receipts go in management.

Yes, 80 per cent. of the total receipts go in expenses.

It goes in running the railways.

That is the same thing. Fully 80 per cent. goes in the case of the three principal railway companies in keeping the services going.

Hear, hear.

Quite so. Now, if you could arrange that 50 per cent. of the receipts could run the services the country would then get the benefit in cheaper rates.

Higher dividends.

That is the point I want to emphasise. If the railway workers would take a reasonable view and give their quota towards enabling us all to live, the thing would be settled. We have heard something about this being the wrong time to bring in the Bill. We have had several Railway Commissions to enquire into the Irish railways, and they have all undoubtedly directed their findings more or less on the lines of this Bill.



Might I ask Deputy Wilson to allow Deputy O'Connell to make his speech.

Now, our approval of this Bill is conditional on the fact that it will give us cheaper freights, and I hope that the President, when he makes a statement, will guarantee to us that we will get cheaper rates, and then he will get our approval.

Will you accept that guarantee?

resumed the Chair.

I have no direct connection with business interests: I have no connection with railway interests except occasionally travelling in a railway carriage when I cannot go in any other way. I have no connection with farming in any way. I do not suppose that the Labour Deputies would allow me to sit on their Benches if I wished to do so.

Oh, they would, as a Labour man.

No, I do not think so. They would want me to work only an eight-hour day, and I could not limit myself to that. I would like to tell the Dáil how this matter strikes one who is not an expert in railway matters, who has no expert knowledge of these things, and whose only qualification is a certain capacity for understanding figures, and who has, perhaps, an average amount of commonsense. Deputy Johnson gave expression to certain views on political economy, with which I generally find myself in complete disagreement.

I am led, however, to the same conclusion to which he came in the end, namely, that this was a Bill which should not receive a Second Reading from the Dáil. I am led to that conclusion by the admission of the President that it was impossible at present to form any estimate of what the position of the railways would be in normal times. Now it seems to me the very essence of putting forward a Bill of this sort is that we should be able to know what is a fair and just position, or a fair and just view, to take of the position of the railways. We should be able to say what would be the fair treatment on the one hand for those who have put their money into railway interests, and developed the railways of the country, and who in many cases, as I have said before, are waiting for a return on that money. In continuation of that we have the statement that there are two things to be gained by this Bill—first, that those shareholders are going to receive a just return for their money; and, second, that those who want a just reduction in rates are going to get it. Both these are very desirable. But I have been greatly struck by the speeches from the Farmers' Benches. They do not seem to have satisfied themselves as to where the money is to come from at all to produce these two desirable results. We are told there are going to be economies. There are, we are told, to be economies due to the savings on Boards of Management. That would be a very small economy, and even that economy is going to be curtailed by the terms of the Bill, by the compensation that is going to be offered to those who are deprived of their employment. Even that economy is to have set off against it the costs of those railways and the burdens which have been undertaken by those who are legally liable for this. But these burdens are to be now put on those railways, and may be well taken as a set-off against that economy, which, however, is small in that kind of management.

Now the arguments put forward by the President seem to lie in two parts, and those two parts seem to cut directly across one another. We have had a good deal of discussion here as to whether there is real competition within the Free State in railway traffic. On the other side we had the argument that you had not real competition. On the one side we were told that there was not real competition within the Free State on the railways. Others were arguing that there was such competition. Now I say those who say that there is no real competition between the railways in the Free State cannot have it both ways. The second part of the President's argument said that economies in working would come from the fact that there was going to be in fact real competition for the traffic within the Free State. Now I think those are contradictory, and I submit that the President cannot have the argument both ways. Either there is competition or there is not. If there is competition, then you have the possibility of effecting economies by working the two things together. But if there is no such competition you have no possibility of making economies on a large scale in order to provide money for the two desirable objects which the President has set himself out to achieve. That is the first point which led me to feel that I could not support this Bill—namely, that I could not satisfy myself in any way as to how this economy would come so as to effect the desirable objects in view. That impression was intensified by the only arguments that we have heard from the Farmers' Benches, and which led us to believe that they were satisfied that such economies were possible. I do not think those arguments have satisfied us all. I have further points against the Bill, too. I think it introduces principles into legislation which should not be there. I take, for example, the fact that the State, on its part, has in connection with certain railways a liability in perpetuity so far as I understand it. And along with that there is on the baronies a certain liability also. The President said that that liability was too heavy on the baronies. But if that be admitted, I do not think that it follows as a consequence from that that you should remove their liability altogether after a period of ten years. It might come as a natural and logical sequence that you should diminish their liability, but not that you should remove it and spread it over the other parts of the country who do not directly profit by the concern, and who have enough burdens of their own to look after, without taking a share in supporting other burdens. I see on the one hand no justification for relieving the State of the liability it took for the formation of those railways without any limit of time, or, on the other hand, for relieving entirely and spreading over the whole country the burden which was undertaken by certain districts for their own particular advantage. In the third place I have against the Bill the objection that it deals with the problem from two contradictory points of view and two different times. It sets up this tribunal, and it indicates that the tribunal is to fix the charges on a certain basis, and that that basis is to be a certain standard of revenue. But in another part of the Bill it takes a totally different basis, and says the tribunal is immediately to proceed to fix the charges, and not on a standard revenue, but on some reduction which occurred in costs within a certain recent period. I do not think we ought to have a Bill which proceeds on different principles in different parts. I do not wish at all to go into the points which might be better dealt with on the Committee Stage. But certain of these difficulties which I have referred to seemed to me to be difficulties which it is not possible to deal with on the Committee Stage, and therefore I have referred to them. I think I should require for my own part a great deal more definite information as to how the necessary economies are to be effected, and which would be required in order to secure the two objects I have referred to before I could give my support to the Bill, and therefore it is my present intention to vote against it.

The thing that strikes me most about the opposition to this Bill is how persons with such contradictory opinions regarding certain parts of the Bill come together on a common ground against it. I can quite see Deputy Thrift's case in objecting to our treatment of the baronially-guaranteed railways, but I fail to see how he can find himself in the same bed as Deputy Hogan, who approached the matter from an entirely different standpoint. On the other hand, I am a little amazed and a little amused with those peculiar specimens of antique furniture that we have in the shape of business men talking to us.

One would really imagine that the business men of this country had something to be proud of and something that they could point to and say: "There is work of ours that we have done; there is a credit we have established, and there is a prosperity we have made, and we are letting the people of the country enjoy it." Is that the case? I do not think so. If they want to know what my opinion of them is, it is this: If there is one class in this community more responsible than another for the disorder that has taken place during the last two years, it is the so-called business men. Not one of them made an effort to develop business, or to show any public spirit or to indicate what confidence they had in their country.

Is this in order?

It is perfectly in order, because we are dealing with the situation which has, to some extent, been brought about by that disorder.

I do not think the President should cast any reflections of that sort; they are not justified.

For the last two or three years the Government of this country has been held up to public odium because we were accused of confiscating property, and we were told that we were interfering with things that concerned business men and which we knew nothing about. There was one piece of advice that I got from the business men of this country during the last twelve months, and that advice was to pay 5 per cent. at 90 and 91. I did not take that advice, and the people of the country are benefiting by that now.

We are told by business men that this Bill is an evil thing, that it is worse than nationalisation. If this Bill does not achieve the purpose that we have in mind, then other considerations will have to come before us and we will have to take decisions on them, whether or not the antique furniture department agrees with it. Antique furniture is a thing of beauty and with splendid ornamentation, but its usefulness in certain cases is doubtful. There are business men who are directors of the railway companies.

Hear, hear.

We have not heard their shrieks over this Bill. If we have, we have heard the last of them. We were told that this Bill is going to interfere with the Boundary question. I was told twelve months ago that the railways were going to solve the Boundary question. Twelve months ago I was told that. I find the very same interests and the very same influences have been at work here in getting up opposition to this Bill. All the fears, all the spectres, all the dangers and all the incompetences of government are held up. This, we are told, is the real danger, and we are also told that we are interfering with business. The business of this country is something to be proud of, with 80,000 unemployed, is it not?

Whose fault is that?

There is one fault in it, if it is to be known, and that fault is that the business men of this country have no confidence in their fellow-countrymen, and seldom had. Ten years ago I remember, when on the Dublin Corporation, asking for 2d. in the £ for housing, and the business men objected to it and said: "This is not the time." That is what we are told now—"This is not the time for this Bill. Wait until we have got ourselves ready and until we have had more time. When we have attended to our business, then, if we have spare time, we will try to do something for the State."

I was told that the Boundary question was going to be solved by the railways. I did not get the solution during the last twelve months. I have not got the solution, and have not got any sign of one. Now the boot is on the other foot. "Do not touch the railways until the Boundary question is settled." That is what we are told by the political and business magnates. On the one hand we are told: "Do not touch the railways until the Boundary question is settled," and on the other hand we are told the railways are going to solve the Boundary question. I observed, during the discussion on this Bill, the whole opposition was centred against the Great Southern and Western Railway, and not a word was said about the agreement until Deputy Wilson mentioned it. That is the agreement between the London, Midland and Scottish Railway and the Dublin and South Eastern Railway.

I got political solutions for this railway difficulty from a railway director. What have those political solutions come to? Bosh—absolute nonsense. When I am told that those are the people who have the business of the country in their pockets, and who alone are responsible for the business of the country, I am not a bit surprised that the business of the country is in such a condition as it is. We are told we are confiscating public property. I have looked up this list, and I think that Deputy Johnson did not do me justice when he stated that I took the three best years. I took one year that was the best, and I find that there are six years better than the other two years I took. I do not think he was fair to me in what he said.

They are the three best successive years, certainly.

The best year the Irish railways ever had was 1913, and the profits in that year were £1,146,000. I am leaving out the odd hundreds. In the following year they had £40,000, almost, less than in the year preceding. In the next year there are £44,000 more than in the year I took. The years 1911, 1912 and 1913 form as fair a basis as any of the years occurring since, if we leave out the years in which abnormal conditions affected the issue.

Does the President consider anybody is going to take war years as a basis of compensation, even after or before control?

We cannot take a lean year and put with that a peak year. We must have some basis. As I have already stated, the British Government took 1913. In order to get rid of 1913, I originally put up the five years preceding 1913, and as a sort of compromise I met the rail-pay companies by agreeing to three years. I certainly think that that was fair. It is unfair to say that I took the three highest years. The years I took happened to be 1911, 1912 and 1913. They would have been entitled to claim that I should have gone on for one year, because in 1914 there were only five months of war. They would have been entitled to claim that year.

There was a big movement of troops in that year.

There might have been, but the extraordinary thing about it is that even with the big movement of troops they were £40,000 under the profits of the previous year.

Do they show the amount they receive from the British Government in compensation for the movement of troops?

I have not got that.

That has to be added.

Captain Redmond, in criticising this Bill, wanted to know where economies were to be effected, and that formed the burden of some of the swan-songs that we heard afterwards. I do not know if Deputies have found time to examine the returns issued. If those Deputies who were criticising will look at the last two columns where the percentage, or ratio, of railway working expenses and traffic receipts are set out, they will find something that they can take home and study, and then they can come back here and talk business. Look at one company, the Midland Great Western. The percentage of working expenses to traffic receipts in 1913 was 62.95, and in 1923 the percentage was 79.48. Where is the business man who will show me a better ratio than that in his own business? And if that can be achieved in one company, and an important company, why should not the benefits that are derived through what economics have been effected there spread out to the rest of them? Is it impossible?


What about the baronial railways?

That is another question. I can deal with that afterwards. When the Deputy is thoroughly knocked out with regard to the other question I will come on to the baronial railways, and if that be his case I will make him a present of it—the baronial railways, for all they will effect the cost per ton of merchandise that he is so anxious about. Deputy Redmond did not give us his proposals or tell us what his solution was. I took it that he was against nationalisation. I cannot say if he is against nationalisation. If he be, he has turned a somersault from his town tenants' arrangement, because apparently he has different views on that, and the extraordinary thing about these views is how we can fashion our principles according to the particular subject that we have before us. Somebody said something about competition. Anybody who has any dealings in business, as far as the railways which are to be amalgamated are concerned, knows that compensation is a joke, an absolute joke, put forward by the business men as a bogey. "Do not take that away from us, or we will be destroyed; the business of the country will be ruined."

It is not even a joke.

Deputy Johnson will admit this, that if he were interested in a charity, in a trustee endowment or anything of that sort, considering whatever income he had from that for distribution in the years 1911, 1912 and 1913, it does not bear anything like the same value that it did in that period, and if out of his earnings or the earnings of the person who gave that endowment, a comparison was made with the amounts that are earned by the employees, there would be some reason for complaint. If, for example, a railway man, about 1910, had invested all his savings for his wife and children left behind by him, that his wife had £100 a year out of it, and if she looked at the changed circumstances of the persons who were engaged in that particular industry, I do not think there would be so much room for criticising the payment of the average between these three years in respect of whatever savings her husband had. As Deputy Cooper said, you cannot get a typical shareholder. It is impossible. They are drawn from all classes and all orders in the community.

Hear, hear.

Somebody questioned the economies. There are redundant managements; there is the possibility of the concentration of workshops; there is the question of the purchasing of stores in bulk; there is the standardisation of rolling stock; there is the simplifying of account-keeping, and there are many lessons that have been learned during the last year or two in connection with railways which anyone with experience of them will tell you has shown railwaymen how to make further economies. These are the things which I am positively certain will make Deputy Good's and Deputy Hewat's nights much easier twelve months hence, when they have seen the error of their ways, when this Bill is passed, and when they are reaping the benefits of it, which the work of Deputy Gorey, Deputy Wilson and myself have brought about for them.

It was Deputy Johnson, I think, who rather unjustly criticised the railway tribunal. According to what he said, the prospect of a reduction of rates was almost out of the question. I think that our tribunal is much the same as that which he proposed himself, and in any case supposing that it had all the infirmities that he suggests, how can we get a reduction of rates? I do not see any prospect except by this tribunal. Deputy Good raised the question as to the right of this tribunal to come in three months after the Bill is passed and to review the rates. I would remind the Deputy that the increase in rates was put on by, I think, an order of the Ministry of Transport, in 1920. It was, I think, something like 120 per cent., and it was probably done by a stroke of the pen. Possibly the Minister for Transport of that time was a very respectable man, and not connected with the confiscation of the property of the people, and his pen may have been much more solid than ours, or that of the tribunal. But the effect has been the same. There has certainly been a reduction in working expenses since 1920. There is a case for a reduction, and it is the duty of the Government to see that such reduction should take place. Perhaps the Deputy, in his zeal for business, does not want any reduction, because that is what it comes to. But if business is to be helped at all, how is it to be helped unless this Bill passes? Where is a reduction to come from unless we bring in a Bill authorising some tribunal to do it?


Deputy Cooper, I think, raised a question as to how we are to pay for this tribunal. He will find in Section 14, sub-section (4), that "the remuneration of the members (including temporary members)" and so on, "and all other expenses of the railway tribunal incurred shall be defrayed out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas, and a sum equal to one-half of the excess as determined by the Minister for Finance," etc. I believe that answers his point. I think it was Deputy Hogan who raised the question of the representation of the baronial lines on this company. I can understand pomposity, but I have never heard of a more pompous claim than that. The value of the other lines is about twenty-seven millions, and the value of these baronial lines would not, I think, amount to a million pounds. As there are to be fifteen directors it would obviously mean that the value of the baronial lines would have to be something like two million pounds to give them one nomination. How the baronial lines would be entitled to representation, considering that for the next ten years they will only make a contribution of half towards expenses, the Government giving an equivalent amount, I cannot see. I do not think the Deputy will, on reconsideration, press that particular claim.

Will the President tell us the reason why he left out the Blessington line?

Well, when we are getting on so well together I would rather not get into conflict with the Deputy. He can raise that on the Committee stage. The alliance between his Party and mine, I would like to continue until after the Second Reading.

There is a serious point I would like the Minister to explain. I do not see it in the Bill. Certain debts are owed by the baronies. Is there any intention to relieve them of these debts? Are they to be paid over a period, or what is to be done with them?

I think the debts due up to date would have to be paid. It is a legal liability, and unless they are relieved by a corresponding legal enactment, I cannot see how they can avoid it. But we are doing this, at any rate, determining the length of time from which such liability will run, and on the Committee stage I would have no objection whatever to considering most favourably an amendment to enable any local authority to borrow a sum so as to spread it over even a longer period than ten years, making it easier for them during that period. Deputy Hogan raised a question as to the liability of these baronies for acts done by the Grand Juries. If questions like that are going to come into dispute, I do not know where we are going to stop. The Grand Juries were at that time the persons responsible for the work of the counties. I am not expressing any opinion on their capabilities, their rights, or anything of that sort, but they were the people recognised by law, and in the same way, having been recognised as such, their decisions on matters of that sort bound the counties, rightly or wrongly. I think that is an accepted principle in business that the person having the title at the moment, in possession of it, and making a decision, or giving an undertaking, or making a contract, bound those who came after him. It should be also said, that I think it was open to particular ratepayers if they liked to enter an objection to push that objection. But the facts are that the Grand Juries having done this, unquestionably some benefit came to the places concerned. The money for the construction of the railway was spent in that area, and the ultimate result, whatever it was, came to that particular district. It would not be right or just, or fair, or moral, to repudiate that claim, and say that "We were not consulted at the time, and we do not accept responsibility." Put it another way, every person going into such an area and purchasing property there, purchased all the disadvantages that came with it, and this would have been one of them.

As far as feeding the principal lines is concerned, we have taken that into consideration in saying that at the end of ten years we are not going to continue this payment. The companies objected to this very strongly, but we considered that the economies that would be effected by reason of this unification will enable them to meet that charge, and that more than possibly the economy that can be effected on these baronial lines will present a very different picture in ten years. Even in twelve months the difference was £77,000. I admit it was a most abnormal year when there was £107,000, but I do not admit that last year was a normal year. Deputy Davin has raised quite a large number of points as to unfair railway rates by the Great Northern Company. I want to put to the Deputy this particular case, that on the one hand I am told we must have competition, and here is a case where we have it. But what is food for one is something obnoxious for another.

I do not think I made any complaint as regards that, but I asked the President how he could control the activities of the Great Northern Company over the border.

If the Deputy looks up the British Railways Act, I think, of 1921, he will find that there are opportunities for correcting that. But I put it to him, is it advisable, when there will be keen competition, that you should interfere with a matter of that sort? It is our intention to safeguard the interests of the property in the Saorstat, but is it advisable to do it so as to ensure that there will be no sort of competition from outside? I do not think it is. As a matter of fact, I think I put it to Deputy Good, when he called on me a couple of months ago, as a business man, with all his desire to preserve the Saorstát, that if he could get goods from Belfast a pound a ton cheaper, would his patriotism come before his pocket, and I think he admitted that his patriotism could not stand the strain of that.

It showed his sanity.

But I want to show him his bed-fellow in this. Deputy Davin raised an important point as to privileges of the men. I would rather not be pressed on that just now. I put it to the Deputy, if he is to get all these conditions from me, am I going to lose his vote? Privileges of the men raise a very big question. I admit at once if you want good service you must give good and satisfactory conditions, and also, if you give good conditions you must get satisfactory results.

What I asked the President was: would he give an assurance that he would make representations to the people who will control the Amalgamated Company, so that they would agree to the formation of a pension fund, a contributory fund.

I do not think that they are opposed to it. I am almost certain they are not, and I am told they are very favourably disposed towards a provision of that kind, but I cannot give an undertaking.

Can you give an undertaking to approach them, and make representations with regard to that matter?

I do not know that I would. I will consider the matter very carefully and very favourably.

Is it a case of bribery and corruption from Deputy Davin?

Well, I have got nothing from him yet.


He is unpurchasable. He cannot be bought.

Deputy Davin suggested that the Government should be represented on the tribunal. We do not want that. We are giving a great chance to private enterprise, about which we hear so much, and I hope it will not be the last chance we will give it to show what is in it. We do not want it to be said that we packed any tribunal. We want to be able to give them a great chance and a fair chance. Five years will be sufficient time to enable the members to learn their jobs, but I am quite open to consider an extension of that period.

Is it proposed to continue the existence of the tribunal beyond the period of five years?

It was proposed to continue it, but to have it differently constituted. We considered that at the end of five years it would not be necessary to have a man engaged in it as a whole-time job, but we recognise it cannot come to an end at the end of five years. We are open to give consideration to the matter. Deputy Davin, I think, raised some question about a railway that disappeared, and I have a short statement about it. The railway was built out of money provided by somebody, I think it was the British Estates Commissioners. It was worked by the Great Southern and Western Company for a term of years on a certain basis which the company considered inequitable. They refused to continue its working, and though attempts were made to come to an arrangement, they failed, and the line was left derelict. I am also informed that the people round about lifted the rails for hay barns and the sleepers for fences, and other people finished the job by moving their boundary fences on to the permanent way, thus obliterating the track and wiping out the railway.

Is anybody getting the interest on the capital?

I am afraid the capital has gone along with the railway. We are putting forward this Bill in good faith.

There is one question to which I would like to get a definite answer, and that is, whether the Government will be prepared to bring in a clause in the Bill for competitive examination as being the only medium of recruitment for clerical service in the Amalgamated Company.

I am open to receive an amendment of that sort, and I will consider it on its merits. I favour competitive examination. I favoured it when I was a member of the Dublin Corporation, and I favour it as a member of the Executive Council. I am satisfied that it is the best way to get the best results. It was mentioned that there is competition now in the North, and that somewhere about the West the competition is in favour of the North because the Northern Railway rates are 75 p.c. above pre-war, while Southern Railway rates are 120 p.c. above pre-war. We are told this competition is healthy and good, and that it is benefiting the people in Belfast, or the Belfast Port, and that possibly the Belfast or Northern Railways also benefit. That is urged as another reason why this Bill should not pass. That is to continue, and we are told that the longer that continues the fatter we will grow down here, the better our railway companies will be, and so on. I fail to understand what is meant by bringing in such an analogy as that. I hold, and I am satisfied from information received officially, and from information which I have collected unofficially, that there are possibilities for economy in the management of these railways; that there are opportunities for reducing rates; and that out of four and a half million pounds there should be great opportunities for better results than those we have got up to this. The opposition to this Bill comes from one section, and one section only of the community, operated I may say, and I am not afraid to say it, by practically one man and his influence. He can set people going in various parts of the country, drawing attention to the danger to business people and to capital, and so on, and not one of his dupes knows who the man is.

On a point of order, I think such a person should be named. As far as I am concerned no such person influenced me.

It is not necessary to name him.

That statement, so far as I am concerned, is untrue, and should be withdrawn.

I did not say it affected Deputy Good. I said that the influence one man exerted had been exerted not directly, but indirectly.

In my case it is absolutely unfounded, directly or indirectly.

I know that.

It does not affect me.

I know that.

I would like to say the same.

I know all that. That is what I was going to say when I was interrupted.

It is not fair to interrupt the President.

I have been interrupted so often that it does not affect me in the least. Notwithstanding all the abuse it got, the Bill is a good measure, and no one will be prouder of it than its most ardent critics when they see it in operation. There are safeguards in it for every section of the community. When the railway system is criticised for having distributed thirty-three and a third per cent. of its receipts in 1913-14, and when that distribution is now down to twenty-five per cent., considering the reduction it is not an unfair distribution.

It will rise.

It will not.

If it does it is through good management it will rise. In all conscience, it is not an unfair or inequitable distribution on £27,000,000 at 4 per cent. at a time when money was more valuable than it is now. I think, sir, I have made a case for the Second Reading of this Bill.

You did not promise anything to the farmers.

Question put. The Dáil divided. Tá, 43; Níl, 15.

Earnan de Blaghd.Séamus Breathnach.Seoirse de Bhulbh.Séamus de Burca.Louis J. Dalton.Máighréad Ní Choileáin Bean Uí Dhrisceoil.Patrick J. Egan.Osmond Grattan Esmonde.Desmond Fitzgerald.John Hennigan.Connor Hogan.Liam T. Mac Cosgair.Maolmhuire Mac Eochadha.Pádraig Mac Fadáin.Pádraig Mag Giollagáin.Risteárd Mac Liam.Eoin Mac Néill.Seoirse Mac Niocaill.Liam Mac Sioghaird.Pádraig S. Mac Ualghairg.Patrick McKenna.

Martin M. Nally.John T. Nolan.Peadar O hAodha.Mícheál O hAonghusa.Criostoir O Broin.Seán O Bruadair. Proinsias O Cathail.Aodh O Cinnéide.Partholán O Conchubhair.Séamus N. O Dóláin.Tadhg S. O Donnabháin.Peadar S. O Dubhghaill.Pádraig O Dubhthaigh.Eamon S. O Dúgáin.Donchadh S. O Guaire.Séamus O Leadáin.Fionán O Loingsigh.Pádraig O Máille.James O'Mara.Domhnall O Mocháin.Seán M. O Súilleabháin.Nicholas Wall.


Earnán Altun.Seán Buitléir.Sir James Craig.John Good.William Hewat.Séamus Mac Cosgair.Tomás Mac Eoin.Tomás de Nógla.

Tomás O Conaill.Aodh O Culacháin.Liam O Daimhín.Domhnall O Muirgheasa.Pádraig O hOgáin (An Clár).William A. Redmond.Liam Thrift.

Motion declared carried.
Third stage ordered for Tuesday, 6th May.