SUPPLEMENTARY ESTIMATE. - OIREACHTAS (PAYMENT OF MEMBERS) BILL, 1928—SECOND STAGE.

I move: "That the Oireachtas (Payment of Members) Bill, 1928, be read a second time." As Deputies are aware, the payment of travelling expenses to members of the Oireachtas is at present confined to railway fare. That has been found to be inconvenient and unfair to Deputies in many cases. The development of the bus traffic throughout the country has meant that many Deputies can more easily, speedily and conveniently travel by bus than by rail, but if they do so, at present, it means that they have to pay their own expenses. There are also Deputies who own private motor cars who could much more easily and conveniently to themselves come to town in their cars than by rail but if they come in their own cars they must do so at their own expense. The purpose of this Bill is to make it possible for Deputies who travel by bus or by other public conveyance to do so, if it is more suitable than by rail, and also if Deputies find it more suitable to come in their own cars, that they can be paid an amount not in excess of the first class railway fare. I think that arrangement would be more satisfactory to Deputies than the existing one and the cost would not be much greater. As Deputies will see, we propose slightly to alter the present arrangement in one respect. In the Act:—

the expression "travelling facilities" means the provision of free, first-class railway travelling and the repayment of such other travelling expenses as the Minister for Finance shall be satisfied to have been reasonably incurred.

In the Bill we set out in sub-section (b) of Section 1:—

"the repayment of such other (if any) travelling expenses as the Minister for Finance shall be satisfied were reasonably incurred."

In fact we have not paid any other travelling expenses but there may be circumstances in which it would be reasonable to repay certain other travelling expenses. For instance a Deputy might find that he could travel home by rail but that if he did so it would mean passing a night at some place on the way. There are Deputies who have complained of that, that when they go home by rail, it means that they must pass a night somewhere on the way because the trains did not suit. It is proposed to make regulations in consequence allowing members to use their own cars, but that a Deputy who has not his own car and travels by rail to a certain point, and who would, if he were to make the whole journey by rail be compelled to pass a night on the way, to allow that Deputy to hire a motor car for the completion of the journey. Regulations will have to be drawn up covering that. There are at present a few difficulties of that nature and it is proposed to meet them under this paragraph. However these are minor matters. The main purpose of the Bill is to meet the case of Deputies who travel by bus or those who travel in their own cars.

Why should motor cars be singled out purposely? Are there not other ways of travelling, and are there not other vehicles that Deputies might use as well as motor cars?

Of course when aeroplane traffic becomes general we will amend the Bill.

There is such a common method as travelling by motor boat. Assuming that I might find it desirable to get from Cork and go down the river by boat——

I think when these difficulties arise we can amend the Bill. As it stands the Bill meets difficulties that have been brought to our attention up to the present.

The Minister says that the Bill will cost very little more than the present cost. The view of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges was, and I think there was no dissension from any Party, that they would not ask for the concessions if it were to involve additional expenditure on the State. That was the view of the Fianna Fáil Party, the members of which very clearly and forcibly expressed their views, and it was also the view of the Party that I belong to, the Labour Party and the Independent representatives. I do not think the Bill should involve any increased expenditure, because it is more convenient for a good many Deputies to travel by bus than first-class by train. The fare by bus is much lower than it is by train. I think, before the Committee Stage, the Minister might consider inserting sub-section A (2):

"The repayment of fare paid for travelling in any public tram, omnibus, charabanc or similar public conveyance..."

the provision that exists already in sub-section (iii):

"where railway travelling is available over any portion of a journey travelled in such motor car, not exceeding in respect of such portion of such journey the cost of first-class railway travelling..."

I think, as the Bill stands, it might conceivably be open to a Deputy to travel to Donegal by way of Cork in a bus, possibly addressing certain meetings en route, and under the Bill his expenses could be paid. Of course it can be dealt with by regulation. The desire of the Committee on Procedure and Privileges, and I believe the desire of the Dáil, is not to throw any additional cost on the taxpayer. This is merely a re-arrangement to meet the situation, the fact that there are buses running on certain routes, and that certain Deputies have private motor cars and find it more convenient to use them. We do not want to throw any additional cost on the taxpayer at all. I would like the Minister to consider the situation of Deputies residing in the city and county of Dublin. Up to the present Deputies from the city and county of Dublin have not, as far as I know—certainly I have not in four years—received any free travelling at all. I think that applies to the other Deputies also. If you bring in bus and tram it might be possible—although it is hardly worth while—for a Deputy living in Rathmines to charge 2d. a day for tram fare coming in and 2d. a day going out. I believe I am speaking the mind of the Deputies from the city and county when I say that we do not want that done. We are satisfied if the Minister makes regulations.

You are generous.

Is this an obstructionist speech?

After all, we can walk. I do not know when Deputy Flinn was talking about travelling by boat if Deputy Good could sail around.

We do not want any concessions. If there was a County Dublin Deputy living in the extreme north of the county —in Skerries or Balbriggan—I think he might reasonably ask for them. But we who live in or near Dublin do not want to be put to the trouble of filling in forms every day or every week, and consequently we do not want hereafter to be any more of a burden to the taxpayer than now.

It hardly seemed to be necessary for Deputy Cooper to get up and repudiate the idea that he wanted twopence a day. I do agree—and I got up specially to endorse what he had said—that the understanding in the Committee of Procedure and Privileges was that we did not desire that the cost to the State of travelling expenses for Deputies should be increased. As far as I can see, in the great majority of cases in which these facilities are used it will probably mean a reduction of the total charged. That will probably leave something over for particular cases which are now cases of hardship. I think the special value of this is that it will economise the valuable time of Deputies. There are at present Deputies in Kerry, West Cork and other places who have practically only one day at home in the week if they spend three days here. I regard this measure as one which ought to be supported, on the grounds that it will economise time and in a really material manner convenience Deputies in doing their work for the purpose of the Dáil. We do not anticipate that it will increase the expense to the State. I do not think it ought to, and if it would to any very large extent I think it ought to be opposed. But in so far as it will not, I think it ought to have a perfectly free passage.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, July 18th.