A Chinn Comhairle, I should like to add to what has been said in favour of having notices prominently displayed about the weights of vehicles which can go over certain roads and bridges. I hope this idea that information need not be circulated to the public is not going to extend, because it would be a most unfortunate matter for our tourist traffic if, in various publications, tourists were advised that there were special regulations of which notices were not displayed, and that they would have to make themselves aware of them either by reading the public Press or consulting certain documents. I feel that this is an aspect of this matter which has not been brought to the Minister's notice and, therefore, I would like to impress upon him the desirability of accepting Deputy Haslett's amendment.
Road Traffic Bill, 1933—Committee (Resumed).
I wonder if the Deputy has had his attention called to Sections 155 and 156, which prescribe that in cases such as those mentioned here last night notices must be put up by local authorities. This particular section—Section 16—deals particularly with the county boroughs, and it is proposed to leave the law as it is. It is not proposed to alter it in any way. In so far as this law has been in existence no case has arisen where anybody has brought to the attention of the Government or the Department concerned any disability or any inconvenience arising out of the absence of any notices. The weight of vehicles is restricted, and if they are above the weight registration would be refused to them. At any rate, in practice, so far as the Department concerned is aware, no case has arisen in the last eight years where any owner of a heavy vehicle raised any point to the Department that a difficulty had arisen owing to the restrictions imposed on heavy vehicles. In view of that the law has been left as it is. We do not propose to alter it, and do not think there is any necessity for the amendment.
I take it this amendment is purely designed for the purpose of ensuring that conspicuous notices are to be erected. Did I understand the Minister to say that no transport company had admitted that they were using vehicles of a weight greater than that permitted over certain bridges in the country?
This, as I say, relates to the county borough, and vehicles of a weight beyond what is allowed would not be registered. Every vehicle which is in use is a registered vehicle or a licensed vehicle, and they would not be licensed or registered if they were above the weight.
Might there not be a case where a vehicle would go out of its ordinary route and come into a borough such as this? Whilst I can see the Minister's point of view, would it not make assurance doubly sure if the driver knew of the existence of the regulations?
All I can say with regard to that is that for eight years the law has been as it is now. Not one solitary case has been brought to the notice of the Department by anybody; not one solitary case has been brought to the notice of the police by any individual or user of the road or any vehicle owner that any inconvenience has been suffered by the local authorities or anybody else. We cannot discover that any case has been mentioned and the law has been as it is for the last eight years.
There is a sub-section, sub-section (4), which was not in the original Bill. I want to call attention to the reading of it: "Whenever a member of the Gárda Síochána observes a vehicle which he suspects of being then used in such manner as to constitute an offence." I thought there was a method of expressing that idea so that the Guard would have to justify his suspicions. I thought there was a phrase about "reasonably suspects" or "has reason to suspect." In this case the Guard will not be required to give any reason whatsoever for his suspicions. We all know that in a force numbering thousands of men and where they are so much in contact with the public that it is inevitable that there will be personal differences from time to time between members of the Gárda Síochána and members of the public. A member of the Gárda Síochána might take advantage of this to get his own back in respect of some little quarrel or another. I suggest it should not be left as it is at present and that the Guard, without giving any reason whatever for his suspicions either to a superior officer or anyone else, should not be entitled to say he suspects an offence has been committed, and thereupon order a vehicle owner to submit himself to considerable trouble as is described in that sub-section.
Is not the Gárda Síochána going to be all right now?
They might, and they might not.
I move amendments 3, 4 and 5:—
In sub-section (2), line 49, to delete the word "employ" and substitute the word "engage".
In sub-section (2), line 49, to insert after the word "employ" the word "knowingly".
In sub-section (3), line 54, to delete the word "employs" and substitute the word "engages".
The object of my amendments is to take off the employer the onus of seeing that on a proper date the licence is renewed. I think it is quite right that if a person engages a driver he should satisfy himself that the person is entitled to drive and has got a proper licence. I do not think it is reasonable to expect the employer to be the person who is responsible for seeing that a proper date is observed, and that when the licence falls out of date it should be renewed. I think in this case the driver should be the person responsible and the driver only. I am not quite sure that the word I suggested will meet the object, but I put it down in order to have the matter discussed. I suggest that the word "engage" should be used instead of the word "employ", meaning by that to leave on the employer the responsibility of seeing that the driver is properly licensed, but taking off his shoulders the responsibility of seeing, when the time comes for renewal, that the proper date is not overlooked. In these circumstances I suggest the word "engage" instead of the word "employ".
Deputy Thrift wants to remove from the employer the responsibility of seeing that his driver must be licensed all the time while in his employment. Our view is that the responsibility ought to be on the employer and we would prefer to keep the word "employ" rather than "engage." If the amendment be accepted it would relieve the employer of that responsibility. We think at all times when an employer has a man in his employment he ought to make it his duty to see that the man is properly licensed.
The man engaged is not a child. It is his duty to look after himself. Speaking as the employer of a driver, I am bound to say that I find it exceedingly difficult to remember the exact date to renew a licence. I am quite sure I would not do it as I would forget. I do not agree with the Minister that it is reasonable to expect the employer to see after those kind of details. I think that is the driver's duty and the driver's duty only.
I do not know whether the Minister has any experience, but most companies pay the licence duty for the drivers, and these men know that they simply have to hand in their licences to the office, to be sent to the proper authorities for renewal. Sometimes, as a result of this, the men get very careless. The authorities in the office are not able at all times to get in touch with these men, and I think you are taking the onus off the driver unnecessarily. He certainly should be compelled to see that his licence is kept up-to-date and in good order. The employer has no objection to do it, but there is no use in putting an obligation of this kind on the employer. The driver should be compelled and forced to see that his licence is in good order. That is my own experience and I have to deal with a lot of drivers myself.
Would the Minister consider accepting amendment 4 in the names of Deputies Ernest Alton and William E. Thrift?
We would be much less likely to accept amendment 4.
Would the Minister accept amendment 3, because I think it is very easy for an employee to mulct his employer and make him responsible for a penalty. It seems to me to be unreasonable to take this particular responsibility off the employee or driver. It is more likely that each man could look after his own licence better than that one should look after a group of licences.
If I might point out to the Minister, I really think he is more likely to secure his object by accepting my amendment than rejecting it. If the driver feels the responsibility is the employer's, and not his, he is very likely indeed not to take out any licence at all and let the matter slip, and amidst a lot of other things, the employer might very easily forget.
The law is there to look after the driver and he is also responsible. A driver must not drive without a licence, and he is personally liable in law. Certainly there is responsibility on the driver too—the responsibility is on both.
If the driver feels that the owner is going to pay up he will be less careful.
I do not think that follows at all. If a driver is held up and if he is in the employment of a firm, it does not follow that the employer is going to pay his fine for him. He is certainly liable in law.
Who is responsible at the moment?
The driver solely.
Why alter his responsibility?
We think it is a desirable thing to do, to make assurance doubly sure.
If it works satisfactorily at the moment why change it? I have not heard any demand in connection with it.
As far as changing the wording from "employ" to "engage" the Bill as it stands, I think, leaves the responsibility on the employer.
I think I am right in saying that if the Bill goes through, even with my amendment, there will be some change in the present law. I prefer to accept it as satisfactory that an employer should satisfy himself when engaging a man that that man has a licence. Having done that I submit that in fairness his responsibility ought to end.
It would mean then that when a new man was being engaged by the employer he would ask him to produce his licence, and when that licence expired he would have no further responsibility. As far as this Bill is concerned, my position is that I would like to leave this matter to the House. We do not want to stand here and to have it thought that we have here something that we are defending against all comers. I want to get a consensus of the views of the House but, so far, I am strongly advised that it would be in the interests of everyone concerned that the word should be "employ." The legal side of my Department and those with practical experience of the working of the law advise me to stand by the word "employ" rather than "engage."
I am very pleased to have heard what the Minister has said. I am only speaking in a general way but my own feeling is that this is an important little change, if you like to put it that way. At the same time I am absolutely ready to fall in with the views of the majority and if these views are expressed I will not press the matter. I would like, however, to know the general feeling of the House.
Is the Deputy not pressing the amendment?
There is evidently no demand to change the law as it stands at present or evidently the demand is not strong enough.
Adverting to sub-section (3) would that include cases where a taxi driver was employed?
It would be where you employ a man with your own vehicle.
I move amendment 6:—
In sub-section (2), line 25, to delete the word "either" and in line 26 before the word "granted" to insert the words "and a certificate of competency" and to delete all words after the word "application" line 27 to the end of the sub-section.
The amendment is to secure that persons applying for drivers licences for any class of mechanically propelled vehicles shall furnish certificates of competency similar to those required by drivers of public service vehicles under Section 101. The amendments standing in my name have been submitted by a committee of the Dublin Corporation which was appointed specially for the purpose. The amendments are officially put forward for the Corporation. I hope the Minister will see his way to accept them, because they received very careful consideration in the Legal Department and from the City Manager.
The Deputy has made a very strong appeal to me as an old member of the Corporation. I am afraid I am unable to accept the amendments. The statistics we have in the Department show that accidents are caused not by incompetent drivers but by competent drivers taking chances. As a rule incompetent drivers are very careful, but competent drivers will take chances and try to get through where the less competent and, perhaps, wiser persons would not. Another point is that this amendment would necessitate the immediate examination of over 60,000 persons for certificates. Apart from the difficulty about machinery I am afraid I cannot accept the amendment, as the Deputy, who is Lord Mayor of Dublin, knows I have very great respect for the body which sends them forward.
May I ask is it the Minister's intentions when this Bill is law that people who will have to apply for a licence will be refused because of physical disability, such as having one arm? If they are able to show that they have been careful drivers over a certain period will they be interfered with, or will they be able to get renewal licences?
The point raised by Deputy Moore is a very important one. There are numbers of people driving cars who, if they had to undergo an examination say for their eyesight or for other defects might not be passed by the medical authorities while at the same time they have a record of many years of careful and safe driving. The record of a person who has held a driving licence for a number of years, and who has had no mishap, of a serious nature, should be ipso facto taken as a certificate of fitness for a licence.
If that point is not attended to many very serious cases of hardship will arise. I happened to hear of one case of a man very seriously crippled who was only able to get to business from his home by driving his car. He is perfectly capable of driving but I am quite certain that no doctor will certify him. It is partially with the object of dealing with such a case that amendment 8 has been put down.
I had a letter this morning from a man who has been driving for a number of years and who, according to his employer, is a model driver. I understand the man's employer has appealed to the Minister directly that under the provisions of the Bill he should not be debarred from getting a renewal of his licence. I had two other letters within the past week dealing with the same subject.
Of course the question of fitness will be decided by the Gárda and I take it that the Gárda will take into consideration the fact that the man has been driving for a number of years. If a man has been driving for a number of years without accident that I think ought to be ample evidence of his fitness. That will not rest with the Minister but with the Gárda.
Are you not changing the law as regards vehicles? There are men with one arm driving motor cars. Take a man who wears glasses, technically he is unfit to drive a car. Take another case, a man with one leg, he cannot be granted a licence because the contrary is laid down in statutory form. It was different in the past.
If the Minister could transmit to the Gárda the spirit in which he has received the suggestions that have been made it would meet the point.
He cannot do that.
I appeal to the Minister to make sure that between this and the Report Stage such cases will be safeguarded.
You will find, in Section 24, that there is a declaration to be made by the individual seeking a licence, which runs as follows:—
"I hereby declare that to the best of my knowledge I am not suffering from any disease or physical or mental disability which would be likely to cause the driving of a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place by me to be a source of danger to the public."
In case the individual applying for a licence cannot, in conscience, make that declaration, then he has to submit to the Gardaí.
How are the Gárdaí going to pass a man suffering from a disability such as that suggested by Deputy Moore—say, a man with only one arm?
As to that, I have two people of my own acquaintance, one with only one arm, who uses some kind of mechanical hand, who has driven not alone an ordinary motor car but even motor lorries and who, I believe, has done it successfully for a good many years; and another man, with one leg, has driven a motor for a number of years and has done it very successfully and without accident. I am quite sure that such people would be able to get a licence.
A Gárda at present cannot say that such a man is fit.
I submit that the Gárda is not called upon to say it. If a man makes the declaration, and if it is only when an officer of the Gárdaí under Section 32, suspects that a person is not fit to have a licence, the Gárda challenges his fitness and he has to challenge that before a District Court and if the case goes against the applicant, the applicant has an appeal to the Circuit Court. So that, once an applicant, from his own experience, finds himself in the position to be able to make the declaration, then he has to get the licence and his fitness can only be challenged under Section 32.
I beg to move amendment No. 7:—
In sub-section (1), page 16, line 6, after the word "business" to insert the words "or profession."
I am advised that the words are not necessary—that the word "business" includes "profession."
That is what we want to know.
Why not put them in for safety's sake?
I beg to move amendment 8:—
Before sub-section (2) to insert the following new sub-section—
Notwithstanding the provisions of the foregoing sub-section, a person who has driven a particular type of vehicle for six months prior to the Act coming into operation and who is not otherwise debarred from driving, shall not be disqualified for the driving of that particular type of vehicle.
Personally, I am not in favour of letting people who are too young drive cars or even motor bicycles; but it has been put up to me very strongly that there are certain individuals, certain young people, engaged in driving cars, who drive them with skill and competence and discretion at the present moment, and that if this section of the Bill goes through it will mean possibly that some of these young people will be put out of employment. The amendment is one of a transitional nature and will tend probably to prevent such cases of hardship arising. I should like the Minister to consider this amendment sympathetically if he can. The object of it is to prevent a young man, say of 16 years of age, who has been driving a car and driving it well and carefully for six months prior to the carrying of the Bill, being put out of employment.
There is no intention to rule out the case of such a young person. If he has been driving for six months prior to the Act and is not debarred otherwise he can get a licence.
I thought that that might be so, but the matter was put up to me very strongly that it would not.
I move amendment No. 9:—
In line 50 to insert the word "calendar" after the word "twelve."
This amendment is moved in order to clarify the situation. I do not know exactly whether the word "month" means a calendar month or not. If it does, the word "calendar" is unnecessary; but the amendment is put down to raise that question and I should be glad to know if the word "month" as used in the Bill means a calendar month.
Yes, it means a calendar month.
There is one difficulty which I see here. Sub-section (1) says that "every person who drives or attempts to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place while he is drunk shall be guilty of an offence." I suggest that neither the Minister nor anybody else will be able to define when a person is drunk. I think we should get some sort of a legal definition of that word "drunk."
In sub-section (3) such a definition is given.
That is not very definite. This is a very serious matter. I have one case in my mind where a man has had six deaths to his credit and he is still driving a car. Of course, any man who is drunk and has a serious accident should not be allowed to drive again, but I suggest that the definition is very indefinite even in this sub-section (3).
If the Deputy would be good enough to send us in a suggestion as to how to define it I should be glad to consider it.
Would it not be sufficient to say: "When a person has been convicted more than once of being drunk in charge of a motor car?"
If he was convicted more than once how was it decided that he was drunk in the first case?
That does not define drunkenness.
I feel that I ought to draw the attention of the Minister to sub-section (4). It seems to me that that sub-section puts a power into the hands of the Guards which might be easily misused. I quite recognise, that, as a force, the Guards are exceedingly efficient and do their work exceedingly well, but there are bound to be members occasionally whose opinions in such a connection would be worth very little. I think that under this sub-section the liberty of the subject is definitely placed at the mercy of a Guard's opinion. A Guard can just say in justification of his arrest: "Oh, I thought so; I thought I was entitled to do so," and so on. I think it puts a very serious power in the hands of every individual member of the Gárdaí, and that it ought to be considered very carefully before the House adopts it.
Deputy Thrift objects to the giving of this power to the Guards under this section, but on an earlier section he did not support me, and was quite content, apparently, to give power to the Guards, where they suspected an offence had been committed, to order a person to drive a vehicle a certain distance along the road and cause that person all kinds of trouble.
Surely Deputy Moore sees the difference between requiring a person to drive a motor car down a road a certain distance and incarcerating a person in Mountjoy or in the Bridewell. Citizens have the right to resent being made criminally liable for things they never did, but they have not the right to resent being asked to take reasonable precautions against the commission of an offence.
I see no difference whatever.
If the Deputy had to spend a night in the Bridewell he would know the difference.
The emphasis is on "suspicion" in these cases. Deputy Professor Thrift objects to a Guard being allowed to suspect the man of being drunk.
No, to arrest him without a warrant.
He objects to a Guard having that power. In the other case, because it does not involve imprisonment, but involves a lot of trouble, loss of time and money, neither Deputy Dillon nor Deputy Professor Thrift sees anything unreasonable in the Guard having the power proposed in the section.
Is it being argued that if a man is considered to be drunk in charge of a vehicle that he should be allowed to continue to drive simply because he does not admit that he is drunk?
Might I point out that the Guards exercise what I might describe as a wise discretion? I have known cases where the Guards have prevented certain persons from continuing to drive a car when they considered that they were not in a fit condition to do so? It appears to me, however, that if the section is passed in its present form and if the Guards find people in a certain condition they will have no alternative but to arrest them. If a man adheres to the decision to drive his car, and the Guard thinks that he should not be allowed to do so, then I think that in order to protect the public the Guard will have no alternative but to arrest him.
The section says that he may arrest.
I think it would be well if the section as it stands were reconsidered. It appears to give a power to the Guards that it is undesirable to give to every Guard. Some Guards exercise a wise discretion. Others of them do not seem to be able to do that. Possibly, if the section were redrafted it would meet the views of different Deputies.
Under the law as it stands a Guard may arrest a man whom he suspects of being drunk even if the man is only walking along the street. I think Deputies will agree that it is much more desirable that the Guards should have power to arrest a man suspected of being drunk in charge of a motor car.
Certainly, if when the matter came before the court the Guard was able to produce strong evidence to show that he was entitled to hold that opinion. What I object to is the laxity of the words in sub-section (4): "Whenever a member of the Gárda Síochána is of opinion." Under the section as it is it would be sufficient defence for the Guard to say in court: "Oh, I thought I was entitled to arrest under the section." I think the Minister should come to the conclusion that the words in the section are very lax.
I strongly disagree with the last Deputy. It seems to me that for the safety of the ordinary citizen the Guards should be protected in this way. It is always a matter of opinion whether a man is drunk or not. It has been found very difficult to define drunkenness. If the Guards were without this power and felt that they had absolutely to prove afterwards that a man really was drunk, then I am afraid they would often allow men to continue in charge of motor cars when they ought not to be in charge of them.
The Deputy entirely misses my point. I never suggested that a Guard should be able to prove that the man was drunk. What I did suggest was that he should have some evidence, at any rate, to justify his forming the opinion. It is there the difference is between the Deputy and myself.
I suggest that the Guard should be compelled to give some reason for his opinion in this case as in the section I referred to previously. Here, in this section, it is simply "I suspect; I am of opinion." The Guard has not even to give any explanation to his superior officer as to why he was of such an opinion. We can all have certain opinions, but it is another matter to give a reason for them. I suggest it is quite unreasonable not to ask the Guard to give some justification for an opinion that may lead to grave consequences for those concerned.
The Deputy seems to miss the point. The Guard has to charge this man subsequently, and has then to give reasons for his opinion. The Guard will not arrest a man with the intention of charging him with an offence under the section unless he has evidence which satisfies him that an offence has been committed. The Guard has to justify the charge in court.
Has it not happened on a score of occasions within the last three or four years that the Guards have accused men of being drunk, that when the cases came up in court they were not able to support the charges made and the court found them unjustified.
The same thing happens with regard to every type of charge.
Would the Attorney-General say if he thinks it necessary to introduce this sectiton into the Bill at all? So far as I know, the Guards already have adequate powers to deal with people suspected of this class of offence.
One reason is that there is a special statutory definition of drunkenness in sub-section (3).
And this is simply, I take it, to bring an express statutory definition into the administration of the law, and adds nothing to the existing powers of the Guards?
I move amendment 10:
In sub-section (2), line 11, to delete the word "three" and substitute the word "five."
I think the period of three days is rather short. Circumstances may arise in which it may not be possible to deliver the licence to the district court clerk within three days. I think five days would be a reasonable period, and I hope the Minister will see his way to accept the amendment.
I was anxious to hear if there was anybody else of the same opinion as Deputy Haslett, that this amendment ought to be accepted.
Make it seven instead of five; it will not make much difference one way or the other.
If there is any strong opinion that it should be five instead of three I am satisfied. We would prefer three, but if the House likes to have five we are prepared to give way.
It is only an extension of two days and, in certain circumstances, that might be absolutely necessary. I agree with the Deputy who suggested that postal arrangements may sometimes fail, and, then, serious hardship might accrue. The extension of three to five cannot hurt anybody.
I move amendment 11.
In sub-section (2), line 35, to delete the word "five" and substitute therefor the word "three."
This is a case where a licence is being granted that had elapsed, or it may be a licence that had no previous existence. We are now dealing with the particular section on endorsed licences. A person who has had such a licence for three years is entitled to get a new licence provided the period has been a continuous one. If the period has not been a continuous one, then the whole of the calculated broken periods must be equivalent to five years. I think that is somewhat of a hardship because there are many of those drivers who have long periods of unemployment. I do not think it is desirable to harass them by reason of circumstances beyond their control. In this amendment we propose that where broken periods amount in the aggregate to three years they should be accepted. We, therefore, propose to substitute the figure "three" for the figure "five" in connection with the broken periods. If a man, with a continuous licence for a period of three years, is entitled to a renewal, we think that a man with broken periods aggregating three years should also be entitled to a licence.
We feel strongly that the section in the Bill, as it is, should be allowed to stand. Sub-section (2) makes a concession compared to what was in the original draft in the Bill. From inquiries and experience we feel that that section should now be allowed to stand as it is.
Will the Minister say why it is that a man who has broken periods should be compelled to have those periods make up five years, before he is granted a licence, and that a man with unbroken periods gets the same licence after three years. My point is that the man with broken periods is harassed. He has, unfortunately, through circumstances beyond his control, been unemployed. We should not burden him further than he is burdened already.
This does not necessarily apply to a man who has lost his licence through want of employment. Our view is that the section ought to stand as it is.
Would the Minister be good enough to consider the matter further, because the people who asked me to put forward this amendment laid considerable stress upon it. They consider the sub-section as it is is going to act unfairly and harshly against certain people.
I certainly will look into it.
I move amendments 12 and 13:—
12. In sub-section (1), line 17, to delete the word "three" and substitute therefor the word "seven."
13. In sub-section (1), line 17, to delete the word "three" and substitute the word "five."
The first of these amendments deals with the case where the driver of a motor car has been called upon to show his licence, and, for some reason or another, he has not the licence with him. There may be negligent people, and we must provide for these people. The case I have in mind is that of a tourist who, for some reason or another, has left his licence behind him. He may be going some considerable distance from the place where he is asked to produce his licence, and some time may elapse before he is able to get his licence and bring it back to the particular area where he is called upon to produce it. For that reason it is suggested that the period of three days might be reasonably extended to seven days. The next amendment deals with the case where the owner of the licence is called upon to produce it personally. That I think is unfair. I think, in the first place, it is desirable to give a person a little more time to produce his licence if he has to get to his destination for it and then come back again to produce it. I suggest that three days, in that case should be extended to seven; and, now, further we propose that the person should not be called upon personally to attend in producing the licence, and that if he could get some other person—his legal representative or somebody like that—to produce the licence for him, it should be sufficient.
I think the purpose which the Minister is out to achieve in this section would be accomplished if the person was allowed to produce his licence at the Gárda Síochána station nearest to his own home. If that were done I think it would be an improvement on what is outlined in the section.
With regard to the first of these amendments I think it is wiser that we should stand by the period of three days as mentioned in the sub-section. In practice, and where it is necessary, the Gárda do give an extension of the time. The Guards have never acted strictly on the letter of the law. They have allowed any extra time that would be necessary.
Surely they have not got a discretion now.
The court always has a discretion. They have exercised it whether they have it or not. I must say they are not always right in doing so. If Deputies would agree, I would be prepared to give five days instead of three. With regard to the points of the discretion that is exercised, if we gave seven days it is quite possible that the discretion that would be exercised might extend it to ten days. It has been the practice to allow a little longer in that way. We think it is unreasonable to allow it. In regard to the second point, the handing in of the licence by another person, I am advised that it would lead to very great difficulties in identification and to evasions of the law, if persons who could not be identified put in the licence. It would be very unwise to accept the amendment.
Would not there be some other way of dealing with the matter of identification? We are all anxious to encourage tourists to come and spend their time and money in this country. Take the case of a man who is in the West of Ireland and who is called upon to produce his licence. He is coming on to Dublin and his licence is in Dublin. Would it be fair to ask him to go back to the West of Ireland to produce his licence?
He is not asked to do that; he can produce it in Dublin.
He can produce to the Gárda here in Dublin and they will accept it and convey word to the Gárda in the West.
Take the case of a man who has not his licence with him but who has left it at home. Surely the home station is in the best position to identify the man and the licence?
If a man who comes from Monaghan is held up in Galway and is found without a licence by the Gárdaí there, he can produce his licence at his home barracks inside five days or whatever number of days is considered sufficient. The Monaghan Gárdaí will advise the Galway Gárdaí that the man has produced his licence.
Is that the practice at the moment? Possibly the Minister could enlighten us on that matter, because it does seem a way out of the difficulty. As I read the clause, he would have to produce the licence at the point where he was held up.
No. "Unless within three days after the date on which such production was demanded he produces his licence in person to a member of the Gárda Síochána at a Gárda Síochána station to be named by such person at the time at which such production was so demanded."
Under the law as it stands he is bound at all times to have the licence with him. He has no option. He cannot say: "I will show it in three days." Now he is getting an option to show it in three days.
But is it not a fact that at the present time the Guards have a discretion? We are now making a definite provision and we are specifying a definite time and a definite way for the production of the licence. In regard to the poor Monaghan man referred to by Deputy Mulcahy who is found without a licence in Galway, it may happen that his business will not take him home in three days.
If he is going on to Killarney he can say that he will produce it at Killarney.
He can write to his wife to forward it to him.
As one who has been numbered amongst those forgetful people recently, I think I can say that no person need be afraid if he has forgotten his licence. If he says that he will produce it at a certain place the Guards will accept his word. That has happened to me during the last week or ten days.
If you insist on having a place named, you will tie him down to producing it at a particular place.
He ties himself.
He is bound by the section to name a place.
But he can name it himself.
I am accepting amendment 13.
I think the decision on these amendments might also govern amendments 27, 28 and 29, as they deal with the same point. However, we shall come to them later.
Section 39, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Any member of the Gárda Síochána may request any person driving a mechanically propelled vehicle to sign his name in a book and with a pencil to be provided by such member and at the place in such book indicated by such member, and if such person on being so requested and on being provided with such book and pencil refuses or neglects to sign his name in such book or with such pencil or at the place in such book indicated by such member he shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding five pounds.
I move amendments Nos. 17 and 18:—
In lines 3 and 4 to delete all words from and including the words "in a book" line 3, to and including the words "such member" line 4, and in lines 5 and 6 to delete the words "and on being provided with such book and pencil" and in lines 6 to 8 to delete all words from and including the words "in such" line 6 to and including the words "such member" line 8.
In line 4, after the word "member" to insert the words "always provided that after due examination and verification the signature is forthwith destroyed or defaced in presence of such person."
The point involved in these amendments may be rather remote but still the section as it stands is capable of being abused. A person is called upon to leave his signature in a book or on a piece of paper. When the licence has been identified and the signature verified there is no point in keeping the signature and there may be a certain amount of risk in it as the signature may be used for another purpose.
This section has got very considerable consideration by the Department, by our legal advisers and the draftsmen and they are unanimous that it should stand as it is in the Bill. I do not know what use might be made of the autograph. Possibly if it were Deputy Haslett's, the Gárda would paste it into his autograph book but in most other cases he would tear it up. I doubt if any improper use would be made of the name of anybody when written in a book which belonged to the Gárdaí. I do not think it is likely to happen.
What is the point of keeping it?
I move amendment 19:—
In sub-section (1), line 14, after the word "so" to insert the words "within a reasonable time."
I think that the suggestion I make should commend itself to the Minister —that reasonable time should be allowed for the production of the licence. The proposal does not weaken the section as it stands. The section as it stands at present suggests that the licence must be immediately produced and that seems unreasonable.
But, surely, if a man is going to court on a charge of any kind he ought to have his licence with him. That is the one particular occasion on which he should have his licence with him, and that is the time his licence is certainly going to be demanded. It is then that the justice would like to see the licence to enable him to make up his mind as to whether he will convict or not or, perhaps, after he has convicted, in order to see if there is any endorsement on the licence. I think it is the time when he ought to have his licence in his possession and be ready to present it there and then, and not several days or a week or a month after.
I would not suggest a week or a month.
It depends on what one's definition of a reasonable time is.
A reasonable time would, I think, be the time within which the licence could be obtained, say, by post. The licence might have been left at home.
But is it not reasonable to expect that on an occasion like that a man should have his licence with him?
But the fine here is rather heavy, and I suggest that the addition of these words does not weaken the force of the section in any way. It might be decided that a reasonable time was two or three hours or even a day.
I really think it would defeat the object of the section which is to enable the judge to determine the penalty after conviction. A driver should have his licence there so that the judge could see whether he has a clean sheet or not, because it would influence him.
Before we go on to Section 46, there is a point I should like to raise on the question of the issue of licences which appears to be fully dealt with in the clauses up to clause 45. One is tempted to ask whether it would not be necessary for a driver to have a licence to drive a trailer. Can any man with an ordinary licence drive a motor lorry with a trailer behind, carrying six or eight tons, and not under proper control, or are we now going to admit the principle that one driver can drive a heavy lorry and to have behind it what is equivalent to two or three cars with the one licence? Heavily laden lorries do considerable damage to our roadways and to our railways. They do not provide any compensatory employment when there is only one licence. Those of us who have travelled on the country roads have seen one man driving a heavily laden car with a trailer wobbling about behind with neither a man nor a boy in charge of it. Would it not be necessary in order to protect our railways to see that there shall not be this procession of heavily laden motor lorries? The second or third vehicle, as we all know, is not under proper control when it is heavily laden, and any of us who have travelled the roads recently have seen some of these cars driving along with the second vehicle more than half way over on the other side.
I have seen lorries with double decks of milk cans and double decks of sheep, and in one case, I saw double decks of cattle, and I say that, under the Bill that we have before us, those trailers cannot be considered as being under proper control. I hope the Minister will go into it at some later date. They do not give any compensatory employment for the work done or the damage done to the roads. I suggest to the Minister that he might be able to introduce a section to ensure that these trailers will not be allowed. I remember about twenty-five years ago our tram company here endeavouring to have trailers or second tramcars with only the one driver and conductor, but they were not allowed. They were forced to take the passenger-carrying trailers off and to put a driver and conductor on each car. I suggest that the pressure of unemployment would be somewhat relieved if the Minister would see to it that such conditions as I have described shall not continue.
I would refer the Deputy to Section 164 by which some of the points he mentioned are already dealt with.
I say that they are not fully covered, and I am drawing attention to the fact that they are not giving compensatory employment for the damage they are doing to the railways.
I move amendment 20:—
In sub-section (1), line 61, to delete the word "twenty-five" and substitute therefor the word "thirty-five."
This amendment I have down is a proposal to raise the speed limit under certain circumstances. This particular portion of this Section 46 deals with the light motor car or motor car drawing a light trailer. Those of us who use the roads and, especially, during the summer months, have been accustomed to see these trailers being more widely used. One sees light trailers behind some cars carrying, in addition to luggage, tent equipment for camping and one sees caravans and a variety of things drawn at the back of motor cars. The case I have in mind is that in which the luggage is in the light trailer with camping equipment and I think it would be exceedingly harsh to limit the speed of such a vehicle to twenty-five m.p.h. These vehicles, as we know, travel considerable distances and some of them I have seen coming across here and going out to camp in the West. If they are to be limited to a speed of twenty-five m.p.h., they will be some time getting to the West and, if they know of that particular speed limit, they may not come here at all.
While it would be quite safe to drive a motor car and trailer of the description I have just mentioned at 25 miles an hour, I quite agree there are other forms of trailers which it would be dangerous to drive at that speed. If we could in some way define light trailers of the character I have mentioned it would be absolutely safe to permit them to go at a higher rate of speed and it would be unfair to keep them to a speed of 25 miles an hour. As a matter of fact, it would be absolutely safe to drive them at 35 miles and hour. I am not in any sense an advocate of speed. I am not one of the community known as speed merchants; I am rather of the other type; but I think at the same time under certain circumstances we would not be doing anything that might be looked upon as unreasonable if we extended the speed limit from 25 to 35 miles an hour.
There are other amendments down expressing more limited views on this matter, but I think, all things considered, we might in this case give permission for particular vehicles to travel over this specified speed limit. The cars might, if one liked, be limited by weight. I know if the Minister saw the trailer I have in mind he would not hesitate to extend the speed limit in its favour. I will trust to his generosity to accede to my request.
I hope the Minister will not accept this amendment. My experience is that 35 miles an hour would be a dangerous speed for any form of trailer, even the lightest, particularly at road bends. I quite conceive that 30 miles an hour might be permissible for the lighter form of trailer, but it would be difficult to distinguish between trailers that would be dangerous and trailers that would be dangerous. I think the section ought to be allowed to stay as it is.
Would it be advisable to discuss the two amendments together? The amendment that follows mine suggests 30 miles an hour.
But it deals with a different matter—it is a matter of cutting down.
Our view is that the speed limit ought to stand as specified in the Bill. If Deputy Good wishes to induce British tourists to come here, this speed limit will be attractive. I am informed that in Britain the speed limit is 20 miles an hour for light private vehicles drawing trailers. That will mean an advantage of five miles an hour here; they can scorch the extra five miles here, and that might be an inducement to them. In other States in Europe, I am informed, the speed limit would more likely be 20 miles an hour.
I have seen some types of trailers. The Department has supplied me with quite a number of illustrations depicting different varieties of trailers that are used in connection with light and other motor vehicles. There are, for instance, caravans, trailers drawing cattle—I have not seen any drawing horses—trailers drawing vegetables and some things that appear to be like cottages, if not houses on wheels. I think we are doing very well with the speed limit we have specified and it would not be to the motorists' advantage or to their safety, any more than to the safety of the public, to do more than we are doing.
In view of the fact that the Minister has mentioned that the limit on the other side for this type of vehicle is 20 miles an hour, I do not think we can ask for any more than 25. I will withdraw the amendment.
I beg to move amendment 21:—
In sub-section (2) (a) (ii), line 10, to delete the word "thirty-five" and substitute the word "thirty."
I hope this will meet with the Minister's approval. It is a move in the direction of prudence and the Minister has been very prudent. Deputy Thrift could speak much better on this subject than I. I have been informed by a motoring expert that 30 miles an hour is quite enough if one is to observe safety in the case of these large public service vehicles. Such vehicles are very heavy and a speed of 35 miles an hour would be sufficiently dangerous for themselves, apart altogether from the danger to other road vehicles and to pedestrians. The question of damage to the road surface must also be considered.
I should like to support this amendment strongly. I am convinced from wide experience that 30 miles an hour is a quite high enough speed for buses.
It is too much.
Of course there are many countries where a speed limit still exists for ordinary motor cars. It so happens that in the State of New York, where I had a great deal of motoring experience, 30 miles an hour is the speed limit for an ordinary motor car, though it is not always strictly enforced. At any rate, the police have the power to enforce it whenever they feel called upon to do so, as frequently happens. I am absolutely confident, both from the point of view of damage to the roads and public safety, that buses ought not be allowed to go at more than 30 miles an hour. I have motored quite a lot in this country and I feel that buses go far too fast. I have seen many instances where buses travelling at a fast speed have narrowly missed being involved in serious accidents.
I think the House should be unanimous on this question of a speed limit for buses. Anyone who has had any experience of road traffic must feel that at the present moment there is really no speed limit observed by big buses. If this proposal is accepted by the Minister I hope that the authorities will see that a speed limit of 30 miles an hour will be observed and that it will not be merely a pious expression of opinion. I have seen buses travelling at very high speeds. I have chased them myself at a speed of 47 miles an hour and I could not catch up to them. We all recognise that a potential danger in the country at the present moment is the rate of speed at which buses travel. I hope the Minister will accept the amendment.
I do not feel like joining with other Deputies in asking the Minister to reduce this speed limit. I think some Deputies are influenced by what Deputy O'Neill speaks about; that is, the very excessive speeds at which buses in nearly every part of the country travel, and also the very great want of courtesy that very often is found on the part of drivers of buses and large trading cars. The want of courtesy is very marked on the part of drivers on quite a number of the big vehicles. I do not think, however, that the kind of unrestricted circumstances we have at present should make us introduce legislation here that will cramp a very necessary service. The Minister is taking power under Section 47 to vary the speeds that are being made statutory in this measure after a specific resolution has been passed by both Houses. My own instinct in the matter would be to raise the 15 miles in respect of the double-decker rather than to reduce the 35 miles in respect of ordinary buses. We did, I think, approach the double-deckers here with a certain amount of diffidence as regards the safety of travelling in them for the reason that we had no experience of them here and, perhaps, also for the reason that a number of double-deckers that came into the country were secondhand. I do not know what is the experience in the country of the double-decker, but I think 35 miles an hour as the maximum speed under the best possible conditions on the open road for the ordinary bus that is doing long route trips between one part of the country and another is not an excessive speed, and there is ample safeguard in respect of special areas for making orders with regard to speed limits.
I appeal to the House and the Minister not to be swept away by any feeling that there are serious irregularities in connection with the speed and the general management on the road of buses at the present time. Once you get this measure, and once you settle down to more detailed administration of the traffic on the roads, you will find that in the matter of the 35-mile limit with respect to buses there would be ample power to deal with a speed limit and to deal with it in a simple way by putting a resolution before the House here and having it passed. I think the general spirit in the matter here is to do the best and the most sensible thing. I would advise against touching the 35-mile limit.
I think there is a fairly strong case in support of the reduction in the maximum limit from 35 to 30 miles an hour. When making a comparison between the speed limits here and in Great Britain I think one must pay some regard to the difference in the type of road here and in Great Britain. I have travelled over a number of trunk roads in Great Britain and I know that anyone will have to admit that the trunk road running from London to Birmingham and up on to Scotland is about twice the width of any of our roads here. Let any Deputy picture to himself the road from Dublin to Limerick and picture to himself the number of dangerous corners on that road. I travelled over that road by bus on several occasions and I can quite see the danger to people in overcrowded buses when you have a speed limit of 35 miles. In travelling over the roads of the country I find that the engineers who originally constructed those roads must have had only one eye instead of two. When considering whether the maximum speed should be 30 or 35 miles an hour, I do not think that it is right for Deputy Mulcahy to suggest that in reducing the speed to 30 miles an hour we are cramping a necessary public service. We must consider the type of roads here compared to the roads in other countries, and I think that taking these circumstances into consideration there is a very strong case for reducing the speed limits for the buses.
Deputy Davin was, in 1931, one of a Committee who unanimously decided that a speed limit for private motor cars was absurd and that it ought to be done away with.
Yes, unanimously agreed. By that agreement it was decided to leave out of the Bill, as amended, that question of a speed limit for private motor-cars. Now we have the peculiar spectacle of Deputy Davin, ardent Labour man as he is, coming along here and saying that the rich people are quite responsible and that they are entitled to get where they want to go as quickly as they can, but when it comes to the bus, the poor man's motorcar, he is for strictly limiting the speed. He wants to prescribe the speed for the poor man and let the rich man go at any speed he likes. That is a curious attitude for a Labour man to take up. There is much more reason, in my opinion, for restoring the speed limit in the case of the private motorcar. Deputy Davin should remember that most of the accidents do not occur through the fault of one vehicle. There are generally two vehicles involved and the accident may be the fault of the private vehicle which may be unrestricted as to speed. It may be through the fault of the private car that the accident will happen. Accidents to one vehicle occur very rarely. Accidents generally arise through one vehicle coming into collision with another, when you have legislation whereby one vehicle can go at any speed it likes on the road, irrespective of what danger it may cause to the other vehicle which is to go at 30 miles an hour. I think Deputies will agree that that is an unsafe state of things. Deputies who urge that favour a line of reasoning that is not convincing.
I think Deputy Moore has overlooked the fact that a great many roads in this country are constructed in such a way that buses should not pass over them at all. There are roads in the West of Ireland where a bus looks as much out of place as a bull in a china shop; but buses are allowed to ply over them for the convenience of the travelling public. It is only on the understanding that they should be kept within a safe speed limit that cars should be allowed on these roads. A great many of these roads are not fit to stand anything like a higher rate of speed than 30 miles an hour if we are to have a safe limit for travelling.
I do not think that the House can accept the view of Deputy MacDermot and Deputy Davin that this Bill entitles any bus to go round the corner at the rate of 35 miles an hour. There are many corners on the trunk roads where it would be dangerous to the public to have a bus going round them at ten miles an hour. The very roads which Deputy MacDermot has mentioned are roads on which it would be dangerous to the public using the buses to travel at 20 miles an hour. But I take it that this Bill envisages other things. There are other roads on which it would be quite safe at 35 miles an hour. Take the road from Slane to Dublin which many Deputies here know. Are we going to pull down a bus to 30 miles an hour on that road? We are here enacting legislation, and we are supposed to make that legislation sensible so that there will be a reasonable hope of its being observed. On a road like that road from Slane to Dublin where you can see miles and miles ahead, it is foolish to impose speed restrictions at all. On the other hand, where there are dangerous corners on the road, you are not under this Bill entitled to travel through them at this speed. I agree with Deputy Mulcahy that in the case of the double-deckers, as they are called, we seem to have forgotten that in limiting them to 15 miles an hour we are making them a public nuisance on the roads. I have travelled on double-deckers several times and, in my opinion, they are perfectly safe vehicles. There is as little vibration as in a single decker. The speed limit of 15 miles an hour is not right in the case of double-deckers. On the other hand, I think it is foolish on the open road to reduce the speed limit on buses to what it is in the Bill. I would suggest that the Minister should allow the 35 miles' limit to stand.
I think the argument advanced by Deputy Haslett is one that has been overlooked by those advocating a reduction in the maximum speed for buses. That is, that travelling at the maximum speed permitted may, in various circumstances, be in itself an offence making the driver liable not only to a fine but to imprisonment. Section 51 prohibits dangerous driving, no matter what the actual speed is, having regard to all the circumstances of the occasion. It is specifically stated there that it is no defence for the person who has been charged with dangerous driving to plead that he was driving within the maximum speed permitted. It is not stated in the Bill that an omnibus driver may drive his omnibus at 35 miles an hour in all circumstances. What is stated is that, under the most favourable circumstances possible, on the widest road and on the finest day, with the least amount of traffic, that is the highest speed at which he can drive his omnibus. That is, in my opinion, a reasonable speed. It is certainly much less than the ordinary speed of omnibuses at the present time. If this section is passed and rigidly enforced, it will mean a substantial reduction on the speed at which omnibuses travel at the present time. People who have to use omnibuses are entitled to get to their destinations in the shortest possible time that considerations of the public safety will permit. I was astounded to hear that Deputy Davin travelled from Dublin to Limerick on a bus, side by side with the railway all the way.
On a Sunday.
Assuming that Deputy Davin was travelling on a bus because there was no train service available and that that bus could travel at 35 miles an hour without danger to the public, there is no reason why it should not be permitted to do so. That is particularly so when we remember that, as Deputy Moore pointed out, the wealthier person—the owner of the private car—is allowed to travel without any restriction as to the maximum speed whatever. He is, of course, required to drive with all due care and caution, but he is not liable to a fine because he exceeds a certain speed.
I was one of the members who, when this Bill was in Committee in a previous Dáil, were opposed to the idea of a maximum speed. I think there is a case for a maximum speed in relation to heavy vehicles like omnibuses and lorries, but my view is that the imposition of a maximum speed-limit attracts attention to the wrong idea— that the right idea is a speed which, having regard to all the circumstances of the occasion, is reasonable. The enforcement of a law of this kind should have as its first concern whether the public safety is being endangered by the speed under the circumstances. The introduction of a maximum speed introduces a wrong element into the situation. It is, I think, true that a maximum speed of more than 35 miles an hour for heavy omnibuses is dangerous not so much to the people travelling in the omnibuses as to other people using the road. The weight of the omnibus is such that it cannot be pulled up except over a considerable distance, and accidents cannot be so easily avoided as in the case of the lighter type of car.
I think that a speed of fifteen miles an hour for double-decker omnibuses is much too low as a maximum speed, and that it makes for something in the nature of a public nuisance. That was the speed suggested when this Bill was before the Dáil on the last occasion. As Deputy Mulcahy said, we had not at that time much experience of these double-decker omnibuses and they appeared to be somewhat unsafe. In the City of Cork they have had experience of double-decker omnibuses for a long time now. They have been in use for transport in and around the city, and they have been found quite safe at a speed in excess of fifteen miles an hour. I do not say that we should have the same speed for double-decker omnibuses as we have for single-decker omnibuses, but I think the Dáil should press the Minister for Local Government and Public Health to increase the maximum speed for double-decker omnibuses beyond fifteen miles an hour.
I join with the Minister for Industry and Commerce and other speakers in urging the Minister for Local Government not to reduce the speed limit of those heavier buses. One would think, listening to Deputy MacDermot and Deputy Davin, that the present Bill proposed to increase the speed of these vehicles. Actually, I think that the effect of this maximum speed limit will be very drastically to reduce the speed at which those buses travel through the country. I do not agree with Deputy MacDermot for one moment that if a maximum speed is allowed it is going to be the average or the normal speed. In this Bill, there is ample power and ample machinery to deal with the driver of a bus who drives in a manner dangerous to the public under certain conditions and certain circumstances even if his speed is considerably less than the maximum speed limit outlined in the Bill. From the point of view of public safety or public danger, I think that very heavy vehicles travelling along the road at a slow rate are often a greater menace to the public than if travelling at a faster rate. There is a temptation or a tendency to pass them out when they are going at a slow rate irrespective of whether one is at a corner or not. I think that the proposed speed limit hits off the happy medium.
I think that the amendment is unwise. Buses are generally run to schedules and drivers are inclined to take chances. If the driver is confined to a speed of thirty miles an hour on the open road, he will certainly take chances at corners. You cannot have Civic Guards at every corner along the Dublin-Limerick road. If a driver travelling to schedule is limited to thirty miles an hour, he will take chances at corners and you will make bus traffic more dangerous.
I should like to assure the Minister for Industry and Commerce that I have not—I am sure that Deputy Davin has not either— confused the maximum speed with the normal speed—not a bit of it. It is the maximum speed and not the normal speed to which I object. I think that thirty miles an hour is quite enough. You have got to remember that drivers of buses have a greater propensity than ordinary private drivers to hurry on to their journey's end.
They have got to do that. They travel to schedule.
The schedules are composed for them and if a certain maximum speed limit is fixed, they will get instructions. I suggest that it would be very much to the benefit of the public as a whole, that it would make for the safety of the people travelling in buses and that it would be to the advantage of the ratepayers who have to pay for the roads to have a maximum speed limit of thirty miles an hour fixed.
The question of a speed limit does not really arise. The question at issue really is that of dangerous driving. It may be dangerous to drive 5 miles an hour in one place, while it is quite safe to drive at fifty miles an hour in another place. That is the law irrespective of any other consideration. Owing to the strike on the Great Northern Railway, I am coerced—unlike Deputy Davin, who travelled to Limerick by bus—to travel by bus to Dublin. On those long journeys, I thought that the bus was not going half fast enough. Take the case of a bus travelling from here to Sligo and from Sligo to remote parts of Donegal. If that bus was confined to thirty miles an hour, how would I ever get to my constituency? It would be quite safe for that bus to travel at fifty miles an hour on certain portions of the road while it would be highly dangerous for it to travel at 10 miles an hour on other portions of the road. That is the law irrespective of anything else in this Bill. The provisions of a time table do not exempt drivers of omnibuses from their liability under the law. If the driver drives at a dangerous speed, he is liable irrespective of the contents of his time table. His time table is not going to protect him from the provisions of the law. We have to keep that in view. This thing of a time table does not count at all.
Deputy Moore has endeavoured to create the impression that I was a member of some Committee responsible for making a certain recommendation. That was a Committee of the whole House and I think it is ridiculous for any Deputy to suggest that every Deputy was responsible for what went through the Committee of the whole House when Deputy Mulcahy was Minister, and agreed with everything in the Bill. That is not so. I do not mind confessing frankly that if the law was rigidly applied and could be rigidly enforced, to the extent that the maximum limit in the Bill would be the real limit, I would be satisfied. Deputy Goulding, however, hit the nail on the head when he said that in order to do so it would be necessary to have a Civic Guard at every awkward corner from here to Limerick, Waterford, or Ballina, or wherever buses run for long distances. I recognise that provision is made in the Bill to deal with those found to be driving to the danger of the public. How is that going to be enforced in a country like this with a very scattered police force to deal with this and other matters for which the police are responsible? Deputy McMenamin spoke of the schedule provided for drivers. I invite the Minister to look up the existing time tables even of the big bus companies and he will find it would be impossible under the time tables for a driver to go from here to Ballina or any other long distance by bus without exceeding the speed limit in the Bill. I know of cases, and I think cases have been brought to the notice of the Minister for Local Government, and to the notice of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, where drivers found exceeding the speed limit through complying with the time tables were themselves made responsible for the fines although the owners were responsible for drafting the time tables which compelled the drivers, under penalty of dismissal, to get to certain places within a specified time. Deputy McMenamin knows that well.
Surely the employer would be generous enough to pay the fine.
Under the existing law, as far as I know, —I am subject to correction—the person responsible is the driver. I think it is a scandalous state of affairs for an employer to employ a man and under penalty of dismissal make him comply with a time table which compels him to arrive at a certain destination at a certain time.
We are going to remedy that.
I know, but under the existing law that is the position. I would be quite satisfied, if the law could be properly enforced and if the Minister could give an assurance that it will be enforced as soon as the Bill becomes law, to leave the maximum speed limit as it is in the Bill, although I believe, from the point of view of the roads available for the use of buses, compared with the roads available in Great Britain and elsewhere, there is a far better case for a higher speed limit outside this country.
I agree with Deputy Davin as to the speed limit. I consider that it is far too high. My only regret is that there is not some limitation to the speed at which private cars can go. From the few trips I had with the Minister for Industry and Commerce I must agree that he would not share my view in that. The point I should like to make clear is, as Deputy Goulding said, that the schedule will be fixed at the maximum speed limit. Buses will have to slow down at corners and take them at 10 or 12 miles an hour, but they will make it up on the open road by travelling at 40 or 45 miles per hour. We have to consider the farmer who is coming out of a boreen or a passage with a horse and cart on to a road when one of these buses is coming along at 45 miles an hour. Then there is the farmer who has to use the roads for the driving of cattle. Can a bus going at that rate be pulled up in time? One would think that the only thing required in this country is speed to take people who have nothing to do somewhere where they will have nothing to do either. Anybody who watches on Sundays private cars taking the new rich from one public house to another will see that they insist upon going at 60 miles per hour even for a distance of two miles. As I say, the speed limit is far too high. Even 30 miles per hour would be too high, in my opinion, because the schedule will be arranged at that rate. That will mean that if they have to go slow around corners or on bad stretches of road they will make up for it when they come to a clear stretch of road and the speed will be 60 miles per hour.
If the Minister does not feel like accepting the amendment will he be willing to leave it to a free vote of the House?
Personally, I would be quite willing to leave it to a free vote of the House. We might then get a fairly large majority for one figure as against another, but no matter what figure you arrive at, there will be a very large amount of disagreement, judging by the discussion in the House two years ago and judging by the discussion we had to-day. We have had speed limits ranging from 15 to 50 miles per hour suggested. I think that if we put it to a vote we will have amendment after amendment put up to reduce it by five miles every time. I really think that the figure of 35 miles as the maximum speed is as good a figure as you will get, judging from my experience of the discussions in the House. It is suggested that that figure will be more an average figure than a maximum figure, because bus companies will tie their employees to a schedule which will oblige them to travel at a much faster rate in certain places in order to keep to the schedule. But if Deputies turn to Section 54 they will see that that particular question of the schedule is dealt with. Section 54 provides:
Where the owner of an omnibus instructs the driver thereof to observe a time table and such time table is so framed that such driver could not observe it without driving such omnibus at a speed which would be a contravention of this Part of this Act, such owner shall be deemed to aid, abet, counsel or procure the commission of an offence punishable on summary conviction within the meaning of Section 22 of the Petty Sessions (Ireland) Act, 1851.
I think Deputy Davin may rest assured that it will be regarded as the maximum, and it certainly will be an improvement on the conditions as we know them at present.
Will not an offence under Section 54 be almost impossible to prove?
Supposing the speed limit is 30 miles and the bus company schedule involves travelling at an average rate of 25 miles; a man could not do that, as a matter of fact, without exceeding the 30-mile limit. One knows that from practical experience. Is it not very hard to prove it?
Is the Minister not aware that normally every bus company has what are regarded as official stopping places; that the number of actual stopping places is double the number of official stopping places; that the bus driver who stops at different places to pick up passengers, which are not regarded as official stopping places, loses time and that he must make it up? Therefore, to ensure the operation of a maximum speed limit there must be some average speed limit for a bus driver covering a journey, say, from here to Limerick or from here to Ballina.
A couple of years ago I had experience of a motor bus that went 55 miles an hour. I know that does happen, but it cannot happen any more with the maximum speed at 35 miles. With the maximum speed fixed under the Act you will find there will be very much stricter observance of the speed limit, as it would be contravention of the law to exceed it. Those who make out time tables which encourage bus drivers to exceed the speed limit will be brought to book also.
Is the Minister satisfied that he will be able to administer the maximum speed limit that is now laid down in the Bill?
I think it will be found that 35 miles an hour will be a satisfactory maximum.
Can it be enforced?
I think so.
I think the House will be with the Minister in agreeing that 35 miles an hour is not excessive for a bus, but all of us who travel on the roads know that buses go very considerably in excess of 35 miles an hour. I am quite sure that in the future— notwithstanding the Minister's provision in this Act—if there is not a policeman in view they will still continue to go considerably in excess of 35 miles an hour. That is the objection which we have. I am old enough to remember the period when there were metres put on our trams to prevent their going beyond a certain speed. I do not know whether the Minister can recall that period, but I remember it very distinctly. I was just wondering whether some such metres could not be attached to the buses.
Now we see where the speed merchants are!
Hear, hear! They were always there.
Some of those people do lightning tours for 24 hours running, but we ordinary individuals want to have a little comfort, even on the roads. I would be quite satisfied to agree to the provision of 35 miles an hour if I could get some guarantee in connection with it. I quite recognise the difficulty of the Minister, but it would be well if some provision were made whereby those buses could not, at any time, exceed 35 miles an hour. I know it is very trying on a person who wants to travel at a normal speed on the road to find a bus hooting behind and trying to urge you on at the same speed as it is going. Those things occur, and will occur in the future if some steps are not taken other than what are being taken at the moment. I would suggest to the Minister that inquiries might be made to see if some method could be contrived—some mechanical device— whereby those buses could be prevented, even when they are carrying Deputies anxious to cover long distances, from exceeding the limit laid down in the Bill.
Is Deputy MacDermot going to challenge a division on this?
I think the Minister is now persuaded that everybody in the House thinks 35 miles an hour a reasonable rate.
No, I do not.
Is it going to be enforced?
Deputy Davin particularly has made it clear that, in spite of all he has said about it, he does not object to 35 miles an hour.
Provided it is enforced.
They will exceed it no matter what limit you fix.
I do not propose to detain the House very long. I have experience of motoring in practically all parts of the country, at a moderate speed on all occasions, notwithstanding any qualms of conscience people may have to the contrary. I have experience of bus drivers and lorry drivers, and there is a marked improvement in the courtesy extended by those drivers to practically everybody on the roads. I believe I was passed on one or two occasions by buses, but it is many years ago. It is not at all a question of speed; it is a question of the security of the vehicle which is being driven, and of the competency of the person driving it. It is nonsense to say you are going to make a regulation here for the amusement of making it; you are making it to preserve order on the road, but with good machines and good drivers, speed is a matter of secondary consideration. Ten years ago this 35 miles that we are mentioning here might reasonably be put down at 22 or 23 miles. The improvement in the road, the improvement in the machine, and the improvement in the competency of the driver, have advanced beyond ten miles an hour during that period. The damage that is done to the road at a speed of 35 or 37 miles an hour is negligible, no matter what the size or weight of the car, if it is a tarred macadam road. Driving at 35 miles an hour on a warm summer day or in normally mild weather in this country would be intolerable. The heat of the car would make it almost a penance to do so. If we are concerned with the order of the road there is no danger whatever in a speed of 35 miles an hour, even if it were an average rather than a maximum speed. There is danger with quite a number of cars at over that speed, but few cars that are capable of being on the road are dangerous at a speed of 35 miles an hour. I take it we do not want to put undue hardship on people who have to journey on omnibuses. As regards the competency of the drivers, one has only got to look at the list of accidents. There are very few head-on accidents with buses as compared with private cars. The damage to the road is negligible. The convenience of the persons on the vehicle ought to be considered. Steps should be taken, in connection with licences given to individuals to drive mechanically propelled vehicles, to see that they are competent. It would make a laughing-stock of the House if there were a lower speed than 35 miles an hour for buses.
Is amendment No. 21 withdrawn?
As the Minister is so obdurate I suppose I should not force it on the House.
On the section, might I ask the Minister if, having regard to some of the remarks that have been passed, he will reconsider the question of 15 miles an hour for the double-decker?
I think that deserves to be considered.
I would ask the Minister not to reconsider it. I have seen an accident with a double-decker which was caused simply by excessive speed.
In this country?
No, in other countries. It was a good surfaced road.
I move amendment 22:—
In line 50, to delete the words "without exercising due care and attention or."
I put down this amendment for the purpose of drawing attention to the wide scope of this particular clause in this section, and also for the purpose of eliciting from the Minister some sort of official justification for the insertion in this section of these wide words. In the Second Reading speech of the Minister he merely stated that careless driving, as distinct from dangerous driving, is also dealt with. This section, I am of course aware, is almost a precise copy of a similar section in the English Road Traffic Bill. I do not know whether the Ministry consider that a sufficient justification for its insertion in this Bill. I do want to direct the attention of the House to the very wide scope that these words insert into the Road Traffic Bill. The words themselves are "without exercising due care and attention or" and those words constitute a separate offence in this section apart from the next part of the section which provides against anybody who does not exercise reasonable consideration.
With the second portion of the section I am in full agreement. I think it is an offence that anybody should drive on the public roads without exercising reasonable consideration for other people. But I do want to know what precise significance is to be given to the new terminology of "due care and attention." Those words "due care and attention" replace the words "recklessly and negligently" which were in Section 3 of the Motor Car Act of 1903, and everybody is conversant with the meaning of the word "negligent," and everybody, particularly District Justices and Circuit Court judges, knows the standard of care which the word "negligent" requires, but so far as I know nobody knows what standard of care is to be applied where the expression used is "due care and attention." What I am apprehensive of is this—that those words "due care and attention" will be used merely to harry motorists and also for the purpose, perhaps, of justifying a District Justice in prosecuting a motorist who is brought by a traffic Guard to the District Court in circumstances in which there should be really no conviction at all. That is borne out by the provision of the next section which provides that, if a person is prosecuted for driving to the danger of the public, and the evidence does not sustain a charge of that kind, he can still be convicted by the District Justice for not exercising "due care and attention." It appears to me, therefore, that this provision is merely inserted, as I said, for the purpose of enabling the District Justice to stand over the action of a Guard who brings a prosecution in circumstances where there really should be no prosecution at all. I should like to know what is the precise meaning, or what is the precise justification, for that particular offence.
In this connection, perhaps it would not be irrelevant if I urge on the present Ministry what I urged on their predecessors, namely, that provisions of this kind, and provisions such as are contained in the next section, are provisions for the protection of the public, and particularly those sections of the public who use the roads. And the provisions in this particular section "without exercising due care and attention or" are wide enough to enable a prosecution to be brought where no member of the public using the road is in any way endangered. It will be noticed also that while the words which these particular words replace, namely, "recklessly and negligently" had attached to them the qualification "having regard to all the circumstances" the words "without exercising due care and attention or" now in the present section have not that qualification attached to them. I do not know whether it would be possible to determine whether a person had or had not exercised due care and attention without having regard to all the circumstances of the case, but when you find in one section those words are omitted and in the next section they are inserted it is possible at least to construe the provision as excluding the words "having regard to all the circumstances of the case." I would suggest, as I said before, that in the administration of this Act traffic police should not have as their guiding motive merely bringing a considerable number of prosecutions under this Act. When the Act is passed there will be regulations, the breach of which will be an offence, and the sections all over this very long Bill provide for numerous offences, and it appears to me, having regard to those provisions, and for this particular provision, it will be almost impossible for even the most careful and law-abiding motorist to cross the city without running the risk of, at least, being liable to prosecution at the hands of the police.
What the administration of this Act should be directed to, in my submission, is this: That the really dangerous drivers should be concentrated upon, those who pass at corners, those who cut corners, those who stop without giving warning, and various other matters of that kind, and that merely technical offences such as would be comprised in the expression "due care and attention" should be overlooked or at least treated with considerable discretion.
The idea of putting those words which the Deputy has asked to be deleted—"without exercising due care and attention or"—in this section was to make it as wide and as all-embracing as possible. Everyone knows that the number of accidents— happening—very serious accidents— where loss of life is involved, is on the increase, and while in the Act already in force, there were laws making it an offence to drive recklessly and negligently, the law was not sufficiently strong or was not so administered as to make the penalties sufficiently severe on those who drove recklessly or negligently, even to reduce the number of reckless drivers and the dangerous accidents which took place. It is not the intention, I think, of the Bill, and I do not think it is the intention of the House here, that any Bill of this kind should pass which would enable the Gárdaí to harass motorists. I do not think anybody in the House wants that, but I think the whole House does want legislation to be such as will put the person who is not a careful driver off the road—that would be my own personal desire at any rate —that the person who is a habitually careless driver and does not drive with due care and attention should be put off the road. I would not want it to be proved always that the individual was a reckless driver, that he did not drive with due care and attention. I think that person ought not to be permitted to drive. However, I say if there is an opinion in the House here that these words in this section would be capable of being so interpreted or so used by anybody who was straight in administering the law, whether the District Justice or Gárda, if it would be that they would be interpreted or used merely to harass motorists and not achieve the purpose we have in view, and the purpose for which these words were put into the section originally, I would leave the matter entirely to the House to say whether these words ought to be allowed remain in or not. Speaking personally I think they ought to be.
Would the Minister not consider that the object he desires to achieve, and which I think everyone desires to achieve, is covered by Section 51, driving to the danger of the public? When I was moving the amendment I do not think I directed attention to the fact that the words "due care and attention" would be sufficient to enable a passenger in the car to prosecute the driver. That is not a reason for putting in this section. The old section of the Motor Car Act of 1903 was construed as not enabling any prosecution to be brought unless a member of the public using the highway was in danger. I think the object of the Bill was to preserve the lives, the limbs and the safety of users of the highway, and that there is no desire or necessity to preserve the life of, say, a young lady travelling in a car with a gentleman with his arm round her during the progress of the drive.
If there is any strong view in the House that the amendment ought to be accepted, I am quite prepared to consider it. No one has spoken but Deputy Cosgrave.
Does not the Minister intend this clause to save life?
That is my view.
And informations are always refused in cases where life is lost through motor accidents.
Deputy Costello has not made it clear that there is the danger of people being brought to court and fined or imprisoned because of these words.
In reply to Deputy Moore I would like to say that there is no standard laid down in this particular section. It would appear to me that the measure of the "due care and attention" required by the Bill would be what a particular policeman at one point might consider it, while another policeman at another point might not consider it in that way. That is what I object to. It leaves the question whether due care or attention was exercised to the individual whim of a Guard.
Does not the District Justice act as arbitrator?
He acts in a judicial capacity. Deputies will appreciate the fact that the District Justice very naturally—and I would like to add very properly—does not wish to let down the Guards. If a prosecution for dangerous driving is brought by a Guard, and if the evidence does not justify such conviction on the facts, then the tendency of the District Justice will be to use his powers in the "due care and attention" section in order not to let down the particular Guard who brought the prosecution.
This provision is not the one that is most likely to lead to abuse of that kind. I think a very good general case of that kind could be made against the Bill, particularly in view of the enormous number of regulations that the Minister is empowered to make, because in that way considerable scope is given to Guards who may be ambitious or who may wish to have cases every hour. Seeing that we have got on so long without practically any law with regard to road traffic, now when motor traffic is actually beginning to decline, such a vast amount of law should not be required in this matter. I think this is the least likely provision of the Bill to be abused. It would want to be much more definite in order to give an opportunity to busybodies in the Gárda to claim that due care had not been exercised. It is quite a necessary phrase to have in, because if a motorist is seen wobbling from one side of the road to the other, though he may not do it in circumstances that would be dangerous, or if he stops here and there suddenly, it should be open to the Guards to prosecute for such conduct, and particularly in the city.
Has he not got two shots?
The point that Deputy Moore has mentioned is covered by Section 50, dealing with due care and attention. What is mentioned here is a drag-net to get in another prosecution.
There was an interjection as to whether the object of this proposal was not to preserve life. There is no question of human life involved. If human life were in danger it is not a penalty of £10 would be mentioned. The interjection was like more of the nonsense that people interject about things of which they know nothing. The question is whether motorists are to be used, as far as this section goes, to prohibit careless driving. What is carelessness in driving? Is it not enough to see that they exercise reasonable consideration for other persons and vehicles? If a person drives a car and exercises reasonable care and consideration for other persons and vehicles, surely that is sufficient. If he is able to prove that he has exercised reasonable consideration he may be answered that he did not drive with due care. I do not see any necessity for this at all. There is only one possible case which might arise, and that is in the case of a person who drives a small car, the type which would catch in the rails of the tramways. If there was a skid that might possibly be regarded as lacking the exercise of due care and attention, although it was purely accidental. If a person is prosecuted in such a case I think it is really penalising motorists. There is enough in the section without this. It is like the case of a schoolboy explaining that he was not guilty, and being told by the schoolmaster that his past conduct was bad, but that he had been punished enough already.
All the comment I make is that this was in a Bill that was partly introduced two years ago.
I had the same objection then and I have now an opportunity of making it public.
We do not pin ourselves to this. We put it there because it was in a former Bill. I want to get the consensus of opinion in the House. Deputies have not been very vocal in the matter. If they feel strongly about it we will be glad to hear what they have to say.
I may tell the Minister that on many occasions when Bills were introduced, and when representations were made regarding clauses or points in them, they were given due consideration. I am quite sure that if the Minister in his capacity as a Deputy at that time called attention to a double-barrelled clause for prosecutions it would receive consideration.
It is perhaps fair to the House that it should be known that this was not a recommendation of the Traffic Committee on whose labours the Bill was founded. I think it was when the Advisory Committee was reviewing the Bill that they recommended it, no doubt based on the very strong consideration that the British Act had something like this. I find myself unable to make a case with my colleague for the retention of this section against the strong arguments that he has been able to put up.
If the Deputy is satisfied and agrees we will have it examined again and it can be brought up on the Report Stage.
I am quite satisfied with that.
I fail to see the necessity for it. I can see the danger of a cranky Civic Guard—and there are cranks even in the Civic Guards—pulling up motorists for what is really not an offence at all. Then the difficulty would arise as to what constituted want of reasonable care and attention. Eventually the case would go against the motorist.
I move amendment 23:—
In sub-section (1), lines 57-60, to delete the words and brackets "(including the nature, condition, and use of such place and the amount of traffic which then actually is or might reasonably be expected then to be in such place)."
This amendment, standing in my name, is rather of a verbal nature. Section 51 deals with dangerous driving. The section is worded as follows:—"Every person who drives a vehicle in a public place at a speed or in a manner which, having regard to all the circumstances of the case (including the nature, condition, and use of such place and the amount of traffic which then actually is or might reasonably be expected then to be in such place), is dangerous to the public shall be guilty of an offence under this section," and so on. The words "traffic... which might reasonably be expected to be" are very ambiguous. I suggest to the Minister that these words might lead to some misapprehension on both sides. The phrasing is very loose. It seems to me to be quite unnecessary. The words are, if anything, looser than the phrase they are supposed to exemplify—"the circumstances of the case." I suggest that the words which are in brackets are redundant and weaken the section. Indeed, there is hardly any necessity for the words, and it should be sufficient to say "who drives a vehicle in a public place at a speed or in a manner which, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, is dangerous to the public." Otherwise, there would be a tendency to limit one's attention to the specific points mentioned as exemplifying the circumstances of the case. I stress particularly the looseness of the phrase "traffic which might be expected to be." I suggest that it would be very hard to estimate that. Who would estimate it? Would it be the driver of the motor car, the policeman, or the judge? I suggest to the Minister that the wording should be reconsidered.
If I remember aright, there was a considerable amount of discussion on these words when the matter was before us the last time, and I think that the consensus of opinion then was that they should be allowed to remain. These words are part of the existing law and included in the law on which many cases have been decided. Since they have been in the law so long, and since decisions have been given under them, I do not think that there is any haziness or want of proper understanding about the words, and I think they ought to be allowed to remain.
If the Minister assures me that the words as they stand here will be found to be workable, I will withdraw my amendment; but they seem to me to be unhappily phrased.
The words have been found to be workable.
The words "all the circumstances," undoubtedly, include these matters that are there specifically mentioned. But I submit that when you do mention certain specific points there is a danger that those are the only points that are covered and are meant to be covered by the preceding words.
I am informed that that is not the practice in the courts.
Then, I have nothing to say.
What is meant by saying in sub-section (2) "in a prosecution for an offence under this section, it shall not be a defence to prove that the speed ... was not in excess of an ordinary speed limit," etc? Does it mean that it shall not be a complete defence, or does it mean that it will not be a legitimate plea? I think that surely there ought to be an adjective there of some kind to indicate what is really intended.
The intention there is that it should not be used as a defence of any kind.
Before Section 55 is passed, I should like to call attention to the use of the word "shall" on line 58 of the section. That gives the justice no option whatever but that the evidence of one witness "stating his opinion of the speed ... shall not be accepted as proof of such speed." Was it intended to make it absolutely obligatory?
I think that the word "shall" was put in deliberately.
I move amendment 24:
Before Section 58 to insert a new section as follows—
A person hiring a public service vehicle, a street service vehicle or a private hire vehicle shall not become liable to pay any sums by way of damages, costs, or otherwise on account of injury to person or property occasioned by the negligent driving of such vehicle.
I should like to point out that there seems to be some ambiguity as to whether a person who hires a taxi would be liable for any damages as the result of an accident. I cannot impress too strongly on the Minister that, if that is going to be the law, the amount of employment of taxi drivers will become even less than it is at present, and that in everybody's interest it is desirable that the law should be made perfectly plain. It is with that object in view that this amendment has been inserted. If the Minister approves of the position, I do not want to delay the House any further. Perhaps the Minister would give us his views on the question.
The law, as it exists, does not impose any obligation of that kind on the hirer, nor do we propose it in this Bill. We do not propose to alter the law in that way; but, of course, if a person, hiring a public service vehicle, such as a taxi, does offer an inducement of any kind to a driver, such as a few shillings, to catch a train at a certain station, and that necessarily, as a consequence, the driver has to exceed the speed limit, and an accident happens, I do not think that the hirer in that case should be free from responsibility. Other than in cases of that kind, however, the hirer has no responsibility at present, nor do we propose to put any further responsibility on him.
When this was under discussion before, there was a very grave doubt about the liability on this particular point, and it was then suggested that, if there were a doubt, it would be better to have it clarified.
I am informed that there is no doubt.
Well, our advice is that there is still a doubt about it. The Minister makes the plea that, supposing an inducement is offered by the hirer of a vehicle to the driver, that in that particular case the hirer accepts a liability. Supposing a single person hires a motor, an accident with liability accrues and the driver alleges that he was informed by the hirer it was necessary to take certain liabilities while the hirer says that is not the case—that there was no such inducement—who is to decide? Even in the case which I think the Minister put, it is very unfair that the liability should be cast on the hirer. The hirer, even assuming that he should make a request to the driver, may be wholly unaware that as a result of his request certain liabilities accrue. Surely it would not be fair to make him liable. I think the Minister ought certainly free the hirer under all circumstances. If he likes to offer an inducement to the driver, and that the latter accepts that inducement and the liability, then it should be the driver's liability and not the liability of the hirer. As Deputy Dockrell has pointed out this will certainly keep a number of people from using taxis. The people in this city are not apparently a taxi driving people. Some people hope that in the course of time we may become users of taxis to a larger extent than we are at the moment. Difficulties of this kind should not to my mind exist if the law was framed as it should be framed. I would press on the Minister that, in the circumstances, it is not desirable even in the particular case he mentioned that that particular liability should accrue.
We do not propose to put a liability on the hirer of a public service vehicle except in so far as that individual induces a person to commit a breach of the law. I am informed that there is no such liability at present.
Though that is done in ignorance: that is to say that the person doing it is quite unaware of the liability that would accrue from his action. As regards 99 out of every 100 hirers of taxis I think that would be the case. They would not be aware that, in offering an inducement to a driver to speed up in order to catch a train, they were incurring this additional liability.
I think that anybody who has been in the habit of using taxis will know the law relating to speed limits just as well as the users of ordinary private motor cars.
Supposing the other question is one which we may leave to lawyers to differ on, what is to happen to the poor hirer in the event of his being held liable?
I am not aware that lawyers do differ in this matter.
It is not the first time that we have had the lawyers differing. I had a case recently in which the adviser of the State and the adviser of a client did not agree. Eventually the adviser of the State agreed to adopt the advice of the adviser of the client. I think it would be no harm, in order to clarify the position and to free the hirer of liability, that this proposal should be incorporated in the Bill. It will do no harm.
It would do harm, I believe. We have had it examined very carefully since the last discussion, and we are definitely of opinion that the amendment could not be accepted.
I do not like to press the Minister unduly, because he has been very reasonable all through on this Bill. Would the Minister state what injury would accrue from the incorporation of this particular clause?
I would like to support the plea that Deputy Good has made. Suppose I hire a taxi in the morning, that I am a bit late, and I ask the driver to speed up a bit so that I may be in time for my appointment—suppose, too, that in consideration of his speeding up I, like most hirers of public vehicles, give the driver a gratuity—and that an accident happens, where does the hirer stand? The driver can say that the hirer asked him to get on a bit of speed and that he gave him a gratuity. How would I stand in that case as the hirer of the vehicle?
In that case if the Deputy encouraged, aided or abetted in a breach of the law, if he encouraged the driver to drive negligently or dangerously, then he would have to bear his share of the responsibility.
In connection with these insurance proposals, when the 1931 Bill was before the Dáil we had a discussion, I think, as to whether it would be practicable to cover, in the arrangements for compulsory third-party insurance, accidents arising from such a thing as a skid where negligent driving was not necessarily the cause of the accident. Since then I know that representations have been made to the Minister to consider whether something could not be done so that the relatives of victims of accidents arising in that way might have the benefit of insurance. Everyone will agree, I think, that it is a very regrettable thing that where an accident occurs and the victim is a poor person with perhaps big family responsibilities—cases of the kind have occurred again and again—that there is no compensation of any kind for the relatives simply because negligent driving was not proved. I think an attempt was made to deal with cases of the kind in a special Bill in England, but how far that measure got I am not able to say. Seeing that we are introducing this principle of compulsory third party insurance now for the first time, it would be very desirable indeed if we could so extend those compulsory insurance proposals that the relatives of people who meet their deaths in that way might be able to get compensation.
Since we last discussed this matter I, myself, was involved in an accident where a man was killed. The accident arose from a skid. It was described by the poor man himself before he died as an unavoidable accident. He had seen the car skid. Cases of the kind make one realise what a terrible thing it is when a family finds itself bereaved in that way—when the breadwinner, perhaps, loses his life—that it has no claim for compensation. I am sure the Minister has inquired into this since he took up the preparation of the Bill, and I would be glad to hear whether he has anything to say on it.
Might I ask the Minister another question? I put this case to the Minister as a possibility. Of course I know the driver would be breaking the law, but laws are broken. Supposing a taxi-driver were driving a taxi at a time when he was not insured and supposing an accident happened, would there be any possibility of taking an action—it could not be taken against the insurance company, and there would not be much use in taking it against the taxi-driver, because even if it were successful it would not be likely to produce anything—against the employer of the taxi, even though it could not be proved that he had urged the taxi-driver to drive at an excessive speed? There is nobody else, I presume, against whom the injured party could make a case. May I ask is there anybody else against whom they could make a case?
Would the Minister be good enough to reply as to whether there is any hope of embodying the principle about which I spoke in the Bill?
I am afraid not. We had the matter examined, and found that it would widen the scope of the Bill so largely and would have such effects upon insurance that it would make it impossible for us to consider it.
I move amendment 25—
In sub-section (1), line 54, after the word "thereof" to insert the words "to a fine not exceeding ten pounds or".
The object of this amendment is to put in an alternative. The section as it stands reads: "Every person who ... commits any fraud or makes any representation or statement (whether in writing or verbally or by conduct) which is to his knowledge false or misleading in any material respect ..." But there may be a technical offence committed. There may be, in filling up a proposal form for insurance against accident, for which a person could claim compensation, something omitted, and which was omitted with no intention of misleading. In that case the justice before whom the case might be tried would have no option but to imprison the offender. The object of the amendment is to provide another way, and to enable the justice to exercise his discretion. He is the judge of the case and if, in his opinion, it is a case in which there might be a nominal or a substantial fine, he should have the power to impose such fine. As the sub-section reads at present there would be no option but to imprison the offender.
It is quite true that there is no option given to the justice or judge in this case. That was the deliberate intention. The words of the section are "which is to his knowledge false." It is not something that would have slipped, unintentionally, into the form, but something put there deliberately, and, to the knowledge of the person putting it there, false. In that case of putting in deliberate and false or misleading information there should be no alternative. A fine would not meet the offence under that section. The justice, in that case as in every other, has the choice open to him of the First Offenders Act or something like that. If it was not a very serious matter the justice might allow the person out under the First Offenders Act, but if it happened a second time we all know there should be no alternative.
The point is not to take away any of the justice's powers. I would be the last to condone what, as the Minister put it, would be a deliberate fraud, but where there was some unintentional offence committed, in the filling up of the form, one would wish to give the justice an alternative power.
If it is unintentional there is no offence. It has to be to his knowledge false or misleading.
Would the Minister say what is the necessity for proceeding by indictment? Assuming that it is desirable that there should be imprisonment, without the option of a fine, why have this long drawn out expensive process of a first hearing before the District Justice followed by Circuit Court proceedings? Why not allow the matter to be tried by the District Justice or give him jurisdiction, in minor cases, to deal with such matters, under this section?
After what Deputy Costello has said, perhaps the Minister will consider this matter further. Surely it is altogether against the tradition of the administration of the law in this country to prescribe a penalty of the character set out here, withdrawing from the District Justice the option of imposing a fine. I quite recognise that a deliberate fraud means a very grave crime, but the Minister will realise that circumstances may arise in which any person may do something, and sometimes it may be carefully written, that should be marked with the severest censure. But the District Justice may consider, taking everything into consideration, the offender's family and all the circumstances in connection with the offence, that it would be quite excessive to impose a penalty that would make a jail bird of the offender when a fine might very well meet the case. The infliction of a heavy fine might suffice, and might save the offender's family from having a jail bird amongst them—that is a jail bird who had committed a criminal offence. There are, of course, few families that have not jail birds amongst them who were sent to jail for other purposes. I suggest to the Minister that we in this House are never able safely to withdraw from a judge the exercise of his discretion. Cases will arise in which a judge feels he is either bound to let down the administration of the law or do what he believes to be a substantial injustice to respectable people. There is no suggestion, as Deputy Haslett said, of reducing the penalty that may be imposed. The suggestion here is to give the judge discretion to do what he thinks is best.
Deputies will remember how many of them contended that insurance companies were going to be the arbiters whether persons were going to drive motor cars or not, and rather considered that there would be a considerable number of persons who are anxious to drive but who would be prevented from driving by reason of the fact that the insurance companies would be squeamish of covering them by insurance. That was the original idea that suggested imprisonment rather than a fine. I would ask the Minister whether the intention in sub-section (2) of the section does not cover the point raised by Deputy Costello; that is whether sub-section (2), at any rate, permits a minor case coming before the District Justice and being dealt with there subject to a term of imprisonment of six months.
Sub-section (2) does allow the accused to consent, and also gives the justice jurisdiction if he is of opinion that it is a minor offence. My point was why is there not machinery in this Act for small offences to be tried summarily as misdemeanours and to be brought under summary jurisdiction, leaving it in the hands of the District Justice to say whether or not it is a minor offence. Arising out of what Deputy Dillon said, from my experience extending over a considerable number of years of looking after the administration of criminal law in this country. I can say that it is utterly useless to provide minimum penalties in cases of this kind. The court simply ignored them and, in any case in which it thought fit, ruthlessly made use of the provisions of the Probation of Offenders Act. In fact the provisions of Acts providing for minimum penalties are simply set at nought by District Justices and Circuit Court judges.
We regard an offence under this section as being of a very serious nature. It is bound up intimately with the whole insurance section of the Act. After all the whole question of insurance will depend on the information that will go to form the declaration to be made to the insurance company. If the whole basis of insurance is to be falsified, if the information is to be false and misleading, and deliberately so, then the whole machinery breaks down. This only applies in a case where a person deliberately makes a false statement. It does not relate to a person who unknowingly misleads the insurance company. As Deputy Dillon has stated it is a great hardship on any family, respectable or otherwise, to have one of its members put in prison, but if we do not make the provisions of this Act very secure and if we do not make it a very grave offence for people to give false information of this kind, the consequences may be very serious. We are not here to press for any undue hardship on anybody in connection with this Bill. We want to try to get the views of the House. If the House considers this an unduly harsh penalty, I certainly would be prepared to consider the matter again but from what I know of the views of those who have been concerned with the drafting of the Bill, and who are concerned with the administration of it, I can say that they are strongly of opinion that it should remain as it is.
Would the Minister consider accepting the amendment on the clear understanding that if, after a year's experience of it or some period like that, it became apparent that this crime was prevalent he would approach the House again for powers to make the penalty imprisonment? I do not quite follow whether Deputy Costello agreed with me that to withdraw the discretion from the judge is a fundamentally bad principle. There is no necessity for me to recapitulate what I have already said. The thing is so dangerous and might work such hardship in particular cases, that unless a reasonable case can be made for it it should not be proceeded with. I suggest that if the Minister makes this concession now, no difficulty will be placed in his way if he decides to introduce an amending Bill to restore the original penalty if he finds that his leniency was making the administration of the Act impossible.
I should like to assure Deputy Dillon that I regard these provisions as bad in principle and useless in practice.
I quite appreciate the Minister's sympathy in this matter and I want to assure him that my support for the amendment is not called forth by any desire to leave a loophole, but I think this is a case that could be tried in the District Court if it is a minor offence. The District Court deals with much more serious offences than this. The Minister said that the punishment would be only inflicted in case false information was deliberately supplied. One might find a case where a person would find it difficult to disprove that it was false. Suppose one got compensation for an accident which escaped one's memory. You can imagine the prosecution saying: "Well, did you not get a cheque, was that not in your mind and should you not have remembered that?" As against what Deputy Mulcahy says, I would point out that this is a clause which has been in operation in Northern Ireland for some years and the experience has been that premiums have been reduced as a result of it. It has not been worked against insurance companies. They have not been compelled to raise premiums as a result of any statements made to them in applications for policies.
I quite see that a case has been made for reconsideration and if the Deputy will withdraw his amendment and hold it over to the Report Stage, we shall see whether we cannot meet him in the meantime.
I move amendment 26:—
In sub-section (1), line 28, to delete the word "five" and substitute therefor the word "seven."
We had the principle which is embodied in this amendment under discussion on Section 39, the only difference being that it then applied to the licence while in this particular case it applies to the certificate of insurance or of guarantee. The section allows five days for the production of a certificate if the owner has not it with him, and the amendment seeks to substitute "seven" for "five." The Minister originally gave two days more for the production of the certificate of insurance than he did for the production of the licence. He has already extended the time for the production of the licence by two days, so that I presume he will also extend the time by two days in this case.
In the original draft the time was the same in both cases, but when the Bill was discussed here before, the House agreed to allow five days for the production of the certificate of insurance. Now the Deputy wants to have it made seven. We do not agree to that.
I have two amendments down later on, one to delete the words "in person." I think we agreed in the previous case to leave these words in the section on the understanding that the licence could be produced at any Gárda station. I would suggest to the Minister that some similar provision should be embodied in the section, or that he might allow the authorised representative to hand in the certificate, so that if it causes considerable inconvenience for a person to attend in person, if I might put it that way, he might be allowed to attend through a representative, such as a legal representative, and, in that way, satisfy the Gárda as to the production of the certificate.
I take it that the Deputy is not moving No. 27?
No, I am not moving No. 27.
I think that the Minister might accept the words "by a duly authorised representative" without any harm to the clause. It would be almost impossible on certain occasions for a person to be present and might cause very great inconvenience, and I do not see the slightest objection to allowing the matter to be dealt with by a duly authorised representative.
I am advised that it would be most inadvisable to allow that; that it would make administration very difficult and might leave the door open to fraud.
I would like the Minister to explain how fraud could come in in any case like that. If the duly authorised person is a legal representative with power of attorney to act for his client, I cannot see how any fraud could creep in.
I really contend that it is practically impossible for a mistake to arise, and that a duly authorised representative could make the presentation with absolute certainty. Photographs are always possible to ensure that the person aimed at is the correct person. The section, as it stands, leaves no loopholes. A man might be taken ill, and there is no possibility of escape under the section. I think the Minister should give us some indication of what he is afraid of.
Certificates in similar cases have been presented by people to whom they were not issued. Substitutes have been got and certificates with forged names have been got. This matter has been submitted to those having the administration of the law in similar cases, and they say it would be unwise to accept the amendment for the reason that the chances are that it would leave the door very widely open to fraud.
But are you not tightening up the conditions by means of photographs to make that kind of cheating impossible?
The Deputy means to have photographs on the certificate?
Is the certificate not issued and identified by the car number, the engine number and the chassis number?
But the car might not be at hand when the certificate is being presented.
Whether the person attended in person or through a representative, would not the natural thing be to check it and make sure that it was the proper policy of insurance covering that particular car?
That is just the point. The certificate might be presented in some place where the car was not available.
Then it would be no use at all.
If the individual responsible was not available, the car may not be available either.
Will the Minister consider whether it is not possible to take such precautions with reference to the certificates as to make fraud impossible, and will he consider also the possibility of illness which I have raised? I do not think that the section as it stands leaves any loophole for inability to attend.
It does not leave much, I admit.
Surely that is an unfair hardship to impose.
As it stands, it is enforced in that way in Great Britain, I am told.
And that is why I am raising the point here. It is not working well.
Is it not?
So I am informed.
We will look into it again.
Amendment 30 is out of order.
That is one of the sections proposed by the Dublin Corporation.
There is an amendment in the name of Deputy Byrne which is out of order, because it proposes something outside the scope of the Bill altogether—State insurance.
I move amendment 31:—
At the end of sub-section (3), Section 79, to add a new paragraph as follows:—
(d) any person who is refused a licence by reason of his failure to pass any test of competency or fitness carried out in accordance with the provisions of this Part of the Act, shall be entitled to appeal to the District Justice Court against such refusal, after giving previous notice to the Commissioner.
I do not want to waste any time over this. This amendment is in the same form as one I proposed on the previous Bill, of which the then Minister said, I believe, that he admitted the justice of it and was prepared to try to embody it at a later stage. I would ask the present Minister to consider whether this right of appeal is not a thing which should be permitted.
The question was considered and, while there is no right of appeal there is, in fact, always an appeal to the Department. There are at present appeals under the Motor Law to the Department, and every case that comes up gets very patient and careful hearing and consideration. It might also go to the senior officer of the Gárda, and if an individual failed there it would probably go to some Deputy, who would take it up perhaps with the officials of the Department, and while in law there is no appeal, there are, in fact, several appeals, and it is very unlikely that any case of hardship would arise.
May I put it to the Minister that that does not seem to be an altogether satisfactory procedure? I do not think that the Department ought to be bothered with that kind of appeal. I think that a legal justice is a much better kind of appeal than the Department, and I think it is putting trouble on the Department from which the Department ought to be free.
What about the Deputies?
To say nothing of the Deputies.
I think the experience of Deputies is that, in any visit of that kind to any Department, the officials concerned are a very favourable court to go to.
I quite agree, and therefore I would rather have the justice. Is the Minister adamant on the point?
I am afraid so.
I beg to move amendment 32:—
In sub-section (1), line 36, after the words "Gárda Síochána" to insert the words "or inspector appointed for the purpose."
An amendment on similar lines was brought forward here on a previous occasion. It was then suggested, as I now suggest, that normally the Gárda Síochána does not include a person or persons properly qualified to carry out the work intended to be carried out by this section. The Irish Trade Union Congress, at its annual meetings for some years past, has been making a demand along the lines contained in this amendment. I understood it was the intention of certain unions to make direct representations to the Minister in connection with this matter. I am not in a position to say what happened. I believe it is only right and proper that the Minister, when carrying out this section, should have at his disposal a person or persons skilled in the body-building industry who would, as a result of their skill and experience, be considered the most proper and suitable persons for a duty of this kind. I hope the Minister will accept an amendment along the lines suggested here.
I do not agree that there are not people at present in the Gárda Síochána qualified to carry out certain examinations relating to mechanical and other aspects. There are at the moment in the force some men who have had long experience of that work and have considerable technical knowledge. They are qualified to carry out the examinations that are required; they are competent to deal with the mechanical and other aspects of vehicles. While that is so, I quite admit that it is necessary to have expert knowledge and I am ready to accept the amendment, but not exactly in the form in which it is here. We will have an amendment embodying that principle drafted for the Report Stage.
In view of what the Minister says, I will withdraw the amendment.
Is the Minister accepting the position that the person appointed shall be a properly trained and equipped person; in other words, a person engaged in motor body or coach body building? There is a precedent for that in Cork City where the inspector, when appointing inspectors of hackney carriages, selected a properly trained and qualified man.
We want properly qualified men. I know what the conditions are in Cork and I would like to have the same conditions obtaining elsewhere.
The Minister, I hope, will make provision, so far as the wording is concerned, for the employment of a skilled civilian.
We will make provision for the appointment of qualified persons.
A civilian—someone other than members of the Gárda Síochána?
They may or may not be members of the Gárda Síochána.
That disposes of amendments 32, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42 and 43.
I beg to move amendment 33:—
Before Section 90 to insert a new section as follows:—
Any person who is the driver of a mechanically propelled vehicle in respect of which no public service vehicle licence is in force and who takes up and carries passengers whether for reward or otherwise (save as excepted by Section 90 of this Act) on such vehicle, shall be guilty of an offence under this Act and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding ten pounds for a first offence, or in the case of a second or subsequent offence to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds.
(2) This section shall not apply in the case of a driver of a mechanically propelled vehicle who is the owner of such vehicle and who takes up and carries as passengers on such vehicle members of his family or his employees or where an employee of such owner is the driver of such vehicle such employee may take up and carry on such vehicle as passengers members of the family of his employer or other such employees: provided that in such cases not more than one person is allowed to occupy a seat beside the driver.
At first sight, this amendment may seem to be antagonistic to amendment 34, but the fact is that the amendments are dealing with two different matters. This amendment seeks to prevent the improper use of a commercial vehicle while being used for commercial work purely. The other amendment deals with a vehicle from the point of view that, when not used for commercial work, it may be used in order to carry parties to Gaelic matches. I want to provide that lorries, motor vans, and other commercial vehicles, when travelling on the public road, shall be prohibited from taking up unauthorised passengers and from giving people lifts from place to place.
For or without reward. For instance, a lorry driver might engage in conversation with a man, whom he would then take for a lift. The result is that the driver of the vehicle does not properly mind his job. He will probably stop at the nearest public-house and the two of them will have a drink. That occurs several times in the course of the journey until finally, the passenger reaches his destination. The driver in that case is really neglecting his employer's work and he is using his employer's vehicle in an improper manner. He is putting on the employer a very serious liability which is not generally recognised. For instance, if there is an accident to the vehicle, and there are personal injuries, the person carried as an unauthorised passenger has a claim against the owner of the vehicle, and he may claim very serious damages.
If the person taken up happens to be a lady—and girls are frequently taken up in these lorries by the drivers —there is a serious temptation to waste the driver's time. One of the reasons why I am forced to bring forward an amendment of this sort is that in Cork last year we had a case where the driver of a motor vehicle had ladies as passengers. He wasted his employer's time. There were two cases where such parties went to the Cork Fair one evening; they were late going home, and one of these men killed two ladies on the way home. That man is still, I believe, in jail. That shows you the danger that exists in such cases.
I was very much impressed by the Minister's introductory remarks. He said it was his object to secure the safety of public life. Another case occurs to my mind. A little boy was taken up by a lorry driver in order to show him the way to a certain place. The boy fell off, was killed, and the owner was mulcted in very serious damages. It is on that account and because of the grievous waste of time on the part of drivers, that I am induced to bring this amendment forward. I think drivers should be forbidden to take unauthorised passengers on their lorries.
The second portion of the amendment is partly a corollary of the first. There would be an exception made where the driver would be carrying fellow employees, provided he would not carry more than three. Carrying more than two persons at the front of the lorry is also dangerous. Deputy Moore will understand the point I have in mind here. Several accidents last year were caused by over-crowding in the front of the lorry, the result being that the driver had not proper control of the gears.
I agree that the object of the Bill is to regulate road traffic so as to reduce the casualties that occur. I am strongly of opinion, however, that the Deputy's amendment is altogether too drastic, and could not be worked. It would make it impossible for example, for a person, a driver of a motor car, even to take up a person who would meet with an accident and who might need immediate hospital attention. It would make it illegal for that driver to take an injured person to hospital, even though the person might be dangerously ill. One portion of the amendment would make it impossible for the driver of a car to take up his own employer; he might take up some of his own family, but not his own employer. However, I know the Deputy did not intend it, but as it is drafted it certainly goes too far; it is too drastic, and it would be absolutely impossible to work.
The Minister is condemning it from extreme cases. The cases I mentioned were not extreme or exceptional. They are everyday cases. The cases which the Minister raises as objections where the driver could not take up his employer are cases that could be got over. I would ask the Minister to take into account the matters I have raised and to give them some attention. I would ask him to consider the evils and dangers I have pointed out. If he does that he will meet my case. With the implied promise of the Minister, I beg for leave to withdraw the amendment.
I want to ask if this practice were made illegal, would the liability that Deputy O'Neill speaks of as a grievance on the owner be removed, that is to say once the practice was declared illegal would the liability cease?
On the second part of the amendment, I want to ask whether it would prevent the man who is driving his own car from taking up his friends?
I have withdrawn the amendment. I will get the matter brought up another way. As to the point about a man not being allowed to take up his friends, we would be better off if we had not our friends with us sometimes in motor cars.
I move amendment 34:—
Before sub-section (3) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
The Superintendent of the Gárda Síochána in any district may, where he is satisfied that such provision is necessary owing to lack of public service vehicles, grant to the owner of a mechanically propelled vehicle a licence for each occasion to use such vehicle for the conveyance of the members of a hurling or football team who do not exceed twenty in number and who are travelling to engage in an entertainment promoted by a club affiliated to or under the direct control of the Gaelic Athletic Association, which entertainment consists solely of games ordinarily contested out of doors, and the issue of such licence shall not be deemed to render such mechanically propelled vehicle a public service vehicle within the meaning of the Act merely by reason of its being used under and in accordance with such licence for the conveyance of such teams for reward.
I will not take up the time of the House beyond pointing out that it is a practice of the Gaelic clubs in this country to utilise lorries for the conveyance of teams. It is only the teams we have in view when we ask for the acceptance of this amendment and it is chiefly to facilitate teams in rural parts of this country getting to the different venues for football and hurling matches. I trust the Minister will accept the amendment and meet the wishes of the G.A.A. in the matter.
In supporting this amendment, I wish to stress, for the information of the Minister and the House, that it is intended to apply to districts where there are no regular bus or train services for the conveyance of teams to central matches. We have had resolutions adopted by more than one all-Ireland G.A.A. congress and applications sent to the Governments in office. But we found that the Government were statutorily prevented from meeting the wishes of the G.A.A. in this respect. The safeguards set forth in this amendment ought to satisfy the House and satisfy the Minister that there would be no abuse. I want again to point out that the concession we ask for is in respect of teams only, twenty members constituting the team. In respect of actual competitions there would be no abuses whatever with these safeguards. Our activities extend into every area in the country. Our members are drawn from the ordinary plain people whose financial resources are not unlimited. The amendment would help them in this respect also. As drafted, the amendment explains itself pretty well and I bespeak for it a favourable reception.
I would not vote for anything in this House which would in any way hamper the activities of the G.A.A. When proposals were before this House on previous occasions I think I gave evidence of that by my vote. I would like, however, to ask the movers of the amendment whether it would not be possible for them under existing legislation to hire vehicles at a reasonable rate, as is done by many clubs. I mean vehicles that are licensed for the purpose. I know it is possible to get special rates of charges from bus companies. Would that meet the situation that the amendment purposes to meet? I put that query to the movers as to whether they have endeavoured to meet the needs of the teams in that respect and to what extent they have been met by the people concerned. Deputy Gibbons has greater knowledge and experience of football and hurling in recent years I am sure than I have, but I am aware, and I am sure he is aware, that lorries are being used to carry passengers in places where trains and bus services are available. I think it is wrong that lorries that are not licensed for the purpose of carrying passengers should be allowed to carry these people for profit. I think that is pretty unfair in the case of lorries that are not licensed. I have raised that point because I am sure Deputy Gibbons realises that that has been going on, and has been going on to the disadvantage of people licensed and paying heavy duty for their buses and also to the considerable disadvantage of the railway companies in areas where hurling and football are played.
If this amendment be accepted by the Minister I intend, on Report Stage, to move a further amendment. I will do so for two reasons. The first reason has been mentioned by Deputy Davin. The second reason which, perhaps, I should have placed first, as it appears the more important, is that I cannot understand the insularity of mind behind the amendment. That is that the advantage must be passed on to only one association in this country, namely the G.A.A. I am a strong admirer of the G.A.A., but I am not so insularly minded as to suggest that the same kind of protection and the same kind of encouragement should not be given to the followers of other games. If Deputy Gibbons were to alter his amendment so that it would read in such a way as to embrace other athletic clubs, instead of confining it to clubs affiliated to or under the direct control of the G.A.A., I would be in favour of the amendment. In East Cork, at Cobh, for instance, an event comes off every year on the 15th day of August. This attracts very large numbers of people not only from Cork County but places beyond Cork County. I am aware that for that day the facilities which Deputy Davin suggests can easily be got for taking many thousands of people travelling to Cobh over the system run by the railway company to Cobh. But there are thousands of people who have no means of getting to this annual event except by the methods suggested in this amendment. I suggest that Deputy Gibbons and those associated with him in drafting this amendment should, at this hour of the day, have regard to the fact that there are other games played in the country and games to which the same facilities should be extended as are now extended to the G.A.A.
I support the amendment. I am sorry that Deputy Anthony is bringing the old, not exactly red herring, but the old vengeance he has always displayed in this House towards the Gaelic Athletic Association, into this matter. Practically 80 per cent. of the teams engaged in hurling and football come from country parishes. They have not the facilities of which Deputy Davin speaks. They cannot hire a bus for the day to take them from Cobh to Rathcormac or any other part of East Cork to play a hurling or football match. What usually happens is: a shopkeeper of the town or village lends them his lorry for the day. Unfortunately, this Bill finishes that kind of convenience. It will mean, if this amendment is not carried, that about 30 per cent. of the rural hurling and football clubs will be knocked out of existence. The members of these teams have not a great deal of money to spare and they cannot afford to hire special buses. They are working boys who have only one day in the week free—Sunday.
Does not the same thing apply to the players of Rugby and Association?
Rugby and hockey and these games are unknown in rural areas, however anxious Deputy Anthony may be.
I played all the games and I know that that is not so.
This amendment was specially framed—great credit is due to those who framed it—to benefit those boys who have very little amusement, who do not possess the facilities that townspeople and city people enjoy, who have only one day in the week free and who are good enough to devote that day to an Irish pastime. I think that this little concession should be granted by the Minister. I see no reason why it should not.
Why do you not ask the same concession for all other games?
What other games are there?
Rugby, Association and rowing, for instance.
As far as the regatta at Cobh is concerned, we know that full facilities are provided for people anxious to go there. Unfortunately, the facilities are greater than the number that go. I regret that. On that day there are very cheap services to Cobh afforded by all the bus lines and by the railway companies. I do not think that that red herring should be dragged in here.
I saw them come to the regatta in lorries.
It is an awful pity you were not put in a lorry. This is a small concession, and it is a concession to those who are, after all, the hardest workers. They are the producers in this country. The boys who engage in hurling and football are farmers' sons and farm labourers, and this is a very small concession to afford to those who have no other amusement than this game on Sunday, and who have no other means of travelling to the game than those afforded through the decency of a local tradesman who places his lorry at their disposal for the day.
In supporting Deputy Davin's attitude, I should like to ascertain from the Minister how this provision squares with the general line of legislation as regards the organisation of passenger-carrying services and goods-carrying services. If facilities like these are to be provided for the followers of a certain line of athletics could not similar facilities be more reasonably claimed by those who organise feiseanna and educational festivals of one kind or another? Could they not be claimed by bodies of that kind which are widespread in their organisation, and which engage in educational work? Could they not be claimed by dramatic societies and by pipers bands, apart from the claims that might reasonably be made by persons following other kinds of athletics or by hiking bodies who wanted to get over rather flat parts of the country and get away into the mountains? I should like to have an answer to these questions from the Minister. Before an amendment like this is accepted, the Minister, and particularly the Minister for Industry and Commerce, should give the House an idea as to how it cuts across the whole general policy with regard to the organisation of our transport.
I do not quite agree with Deputy Mulcahy in his alarm lest this should cut across general policy. As Deputy Jordan and Deputy Gibbons said, the circumstances governing these cases are peculiar. It usually happens that a team representing a parish or some such area wants to get to the scene of a football match. Unlike a feis or some gathering of that character, there would probably be no general traffic going. It would be out of the question for a small parish team to raise sufficient money to hire a bus. Very often, a local shopkeeper, or somebody with a local interest in the team, places a lorry at very reduced rates, or perhaps gratis, at their disposal.
Frequently, gratis. I should not at all approve of making this general or spreading it out to feiseanna or other activities, because it is up to organising committees of feiseanna to arrange for omnibuses and so forth if they want to bring a crowd together. What astonishes me about a very reasonable amendment of this character is the effect it has on Deputy Jordan and Deputy Gibbons. Deputy Jordan is a good-humoured man and so is Deputy Gibbons. But when they set their hands to a pen to prepare an amendment of this character, they immediately get cranky. Why? What evil effect has their association with the G.A.A. upon them? Most of these G.A.A. men up and down the country are good-humoured men and pleasant men to meet. But nobody seems to be able to draft an amendment which refers to the G.A.A. without hitting somebody else. What is the point of that? Surely, if you are making this little concession to promote athletics, you should not leave out the National Athletic and Cycling Association or the Association Football teams or any other legitimate athletic club which would desire to enjoy a similar privilege. If you are sending a team to a cycling competition or sending a team to represent a parish in a cross country race, why on earth should they be marked with the seal of the G.A.A.'s disapproval? What a much better feeling it would create if Deputy Gibbons and Deputy Jordan, who represent the G.A.A., would show themselves solicitous for the N.A.C.A. and every other athletic organisation, at the same time? Instead of having this rather regrettable note of acrimony and laurels laid upon their brow by Deputy Corry for their good national spirit, they would get pretty general support all over the House. I think it is regrettable the way in which this amendment is moved and I would be very much gratified to hear from the Minister that, if Deputy Jordan withdraws the amendment and redrafts it to include athletic teams to represent their parish or district, no matter whether they were G.A.A. or N.A.C.A. or any other athletic association, he would favourably consider an amendment on those lines on the Report Stage. I do not believe, and I really do not think Deputy Davin believes, that this is going to have any serious effect on the ordinary carrying companies. We all know in practice what this amounts to, and it is not going to interfere with the traffic of the railway companies or the authorised bus undertakings. If this concession is not made some of these people will not go and the rest will borrow bicycles.
If we accept the principle of this amendment I say the amendment is too narrow, for this reason, that there are other things in this country as well as sport. This year I had the pleasure of attending the national ploughing competition. If we accept the principle, why should it not be extended to the national ploughing competition or to a number of people in a locality who want to go to an agricultural show?
What about a coursing match?
We are bad enough, but do not take us to the dogs.
I say that if we grant this, part of the answer to Deputy Davin will be found in the first two lines: "Where he is satisfied that such provision is necessary owing to the lack of public service vehicles." I would be sorry to see this House passing this amendment for one particular thing and leaving the other national things out of the running altogether.
I should like to associate myself with this amendment. It seems to me that this is a specific section, and as regards the paucity or the lack of facilities for other organisations let the other organisations speak for themselves. This is a specific sub-section drafted for the G.A.A. If Deputies opposite are so anxious to know why Deputies on this side are so solicitous for the welfare of the G.A.A., let me tell them straight that but for the G.A.A. the bulk of them or of us would not be occupying these benches. That is the reason why the amendment is specifically devoted to the G.A.A. Let the other bodies speak for themselves. If the principle of this is right in so far as it is confined to the subject under discussion, that is all we have to deal with now. Other bodies are well able to speak for themselves. The facilities afforded to the members of the G.A.A. to travel to various centres through the country are sometimes extremely restricted and, as has been pointed out by members of the Centre Party and others, the local traders are sometimes compelled to run lorries gratis. This is not meant to cut across or in any way to be inimical to the bus companies or the railway companies. It is meant to apply only to specific instances. There are hosts of poor fellows who could not possibly club together to get a bus or pay the small fare necessary to travel on the train. They must, perforce, travel on a lorry. This is, therefore, a specific case. As regards other organisations, such as ploughing matches and Feiseanna, there is no analogy. I should like to explain that G.A.A. matches are carried on practically all the year round, while Feiseanna are confined to the fine weather and ploughing to half-a-dozen matches. The activities to which this sub-section refers are carried on all the year round. As regards other athletic organisations I think Deputy Anthony said the same conditions were applicable to Rugby Clubs, etc. I do not wish to allude to other associations, but my experience is that those associated with Rugby Clubs are very well able to pay for vehicles. Consequently, I have much pleasure in associating myself with the amendment.
It appears to me that it is a very vicious principle to put one association, whatever it is called, into a privileged position in our legislation. After all, who can tell what will happen to the G.A.A.? Perhaps one section of it some years hence may wish to break off from the parent body, may consider the parent body is not sufficiently patriotic, for heaven knows what reason. It is undesirable that we should be called upon here in the Legislature of this country to put the whole resources of the country at the back of one particular athletic association.
If the Minister is accepting the proposal I hope he will at least fix some standard of safety. It is a very big responsibility for the Dáil on an occasion when they are discussing a Bill to secure the safety of life on the roads and when there has been so much emphasis laid on that to declare at the same time with regard to Sunday traffic that they are prepared not to worry; that vehicles can be used regardless of their efficiency, regardless of the safety which they will provide. I am not speaking against the principle of the proposal, though I would certainly ask the Minister if he accepts it to extend it at least to bands. I may say that while I have had several applications from bands I have never received an application from the G.A.A. to get the privilege of travelling on a lorry on a Sunday to fulfil an engagement. If the Minister is accepting the proposal I hope he will see that there will be a certain standard of safety laid down and that the Superintendent of the Gárda Síochana or somebody like that will be responsible for ensuring that the vehicle used will be up to a certain standard of safety. It is known that last year there were two serious accidents to vehicles which should never have been put on the road but were used to convey parties, one to Dublin during Congress Week—I think everyone will recall the serious accident near Maynooth—and another travelling to a G.A.A. match in Kildare. I do not think the Dáil should take the responsibility of saying with regard to traffic that may prevail in rural places on Sundays that they do not care what type of vehicle is used and that the people themselves will have to take the responsibility.
I should like to say that the remarks we have heard on this are a very curious commentary on the unanimity with which, say, the proposals in the Road Transport Bill are being gulped down on the far side. The proposal before us now is to enable a trader, who under the Road Transport Bill is going to be prevented from carrying a parcel for a neighbour from his own place to some place else, to bring an athletic team on a particular occasion from one place to another. I should like to know what the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Local Government think of the proposal. I may say in reply to Deputy Dillon that teachers do bring groups of children from one school area to another school area to Feiseanna, and if facilities of this kind are to be made available for a hurling or a football team, I think that a group of children going to a Féis and taking part in educational competitions are entitled to get the same facilities as some of the Deputies on the far side would hold out so readily and invitingly to athletic clubs of a particular kind, and that the same thing ought to apply to a rural dramatic company going to give a performance in some neighbouring village or town. Those are only samples of the kind of demands that could readily arise once this principle is admitted, to say nothing of the demands that are going to arise from traders to be allowed to carry their neighbours' parcels, in, of course, very special circumstances.
I do not want to allow Deputy Mulcahy to misrepresent any view given expression to by me. I am, personally, quite prepared, as I have done on previous occasions in this House, to justify preferential treatment—by vote or in any other way— for games that are looked upon as national games in this country. I have endeavoured to do it before, and will do it again when the opportunity arises, irrespective of what Deputy Dillon or Deputy MacDermot or anybody else may think. I am quite sure that this amendment, limited in operation as it is in its wording here, is not going to do any serious harm to the transport industry. Deputy Gibbons and Deputy Jordan, who are leaders of the G.A.A. in this country at present, know that a very large percentage of men working in the transport industry have done more than one man's part for the G.A.A. What I want an assurance upon is this: I am personally aware of numerous cases where lorry owners have charged young men in the country so much per head for bringing them to hurling and football matches, and were not licensed for that particular purpose. I do not want any man who has not a licence for the carrying of passengers to make a profit out of this kind of thing. I think if that were accepted by the majority in this House it would certainly be very detrimental to the people engaged in the transport business. The people engaged in the transport business are there to make a living out of that particular business, the same as people engaged in farming or in any other occupation. It is not right that pirates should be allowed to come into the industry, and, under cover of an amendment of this kind, make money out of their lorries which are not licensed for the carrying of passengers. I want an assurance from Deputy Gibbons—I am sure he can give that assurance—that the G.A.A. are not going to put their hallmark upon the use of lorries not licensed for the carrying of passengers for the purpose of making profit out of them in connection with the running of hurling and football matches.
Deputy Gibbons cannot give that undertaking.
I can give that assurance, with a full sense of responsibility.
I believe I could justify, or any man could justify, giving preferential treatment to games treated as national pastimes.
I would be slow to accept any amendment that would cut across the transport policy that is, I might say, before the House at present —the Bill has been read the First Time—and if this principle set out here in this amendment were to be adopted in a widespread fashion, and lorries of that kind were used for profit-making purposes it would cut across the transport policy we had in view. If anything of that kind, therefore, were intended I would not accept the amendment, but I am prepared to accept it in principle and to apply it not alone for G.A.A. purposes, but all other purposes such as Deputy Mulcahy mentioned. We had a case brought to our notice where in one parish in Donegal people had something like seven miles to go to Mass, and had no way of getting there on a wet day except on a lorry lent by some friendly neighbour. Cases of that kind—but rare cases—I think might be provided for, but they can only be provided for under conditions such as laid down here.
I do not like to interrupt the Minister, but I want to ask would he extend the same facilities to Rugby and Association football?
You are not the Minister.
In cases such as I have outlined, where, in any area—I do not think there would be many areas, but cases may arise perhaps in, say, County Cork, County Mayo, County Kerry and County Donegal—there are no transport facilities available, and the Superintendent of the Gárda Síochána is in a position to give a certificate that such transport is not available, they would have to notify the Minister for Industry and Commerce in advance and get other treatment. In those conditions I am prepared to accept this amendment, and leave it to an authority of that kind to give us an assurance that there is no other transport facility available. It would, as I say, be used only in very restricted circumstances, and certainly would not in any way cut across the transport policy of the country.
But it would be used for all outdoor athletic occupations?
Perhaps the Deputy would not mind drafting an amendment and putting it up here.
I want again to ask the Minister a question which he was prevented from answering by one of his own back benchers. Would the Minister extend the same facilities to Rugby football and Association football?
Will the Deputy be satisfied when he sees the amendment we will bring in?
I will be quite satisfied.
Will Deputy Anthony inform this House where Rugby football or Association football teams exist in rural areas? In respect of Mr. Davin's request that he would like an assurance that there was no intention on the part of those who tabled this amendment to favour that particular type of person known as pirates in the traffic world, certainly that is not the intention. I can give that assurance with a full sense of responsibility. There seems to be a misconception in the minds of several Deputies. This amendment, as drafted, tightens up the giving of licences very considerably. It applies only to teams, not to followers or supporters of teams, and the number is set forth as 20. That is the official number which constitutes a team. It is restricted also to official legitimate competitions conducted under the auspices of the G.A.A. It is intended to meet cases that crop up very frequently, particularly in remote districts where there are no other facilities of transport for the teams. I think it is a very fair amendment, and one which I am sorry aroused so much opposition.
To show the genuineness of both of us who have moved this amendment, and of the associations on behalf of which we have moved it, we only ask for this concession on the production of an authorised certificate from the county secretaries in every part of the country that the lorry is being used for the team only, and not for followers. The county secretaries will be authorised to give that certificate.
I take it the amendment is withdrawn?
What has the Minister to say about it?
I accept it in principle. I will bring in an amendment on the Report Stage.
On the section, I want to draw attention to sub-section (4):—
Whenever a mechanically propelled vehicle is used for the carriage of passengers for reward in contravention of this section the owner of such vehicle shall be guilty of an offence under this section and the driver of such vehicle shall, unless he proves that he did not know that no public service vehicle licence was then in force in respect of such vehicle, also be guilty of an offence under this section.
I want the Minister to explain why the driver has to take responsibility for an offence which is an offence solely of the owner of the vehicle. Why attempt to divide responsibility? What is gained by it? Surely it is a tremendous injustice to the driver. Employment is not such that a driver on a public service vehicle can feel so independent as to challenge his employer to show the licence and that he can argue for a moment on the question. If he has doubts as to whether he can argue the matter or not, his decision depends on whether the employer is an amiable person or whether he is inclined to be autocratic. If he is not an amiable person he can very quickly get rid of the driver and make him sorry that he dared question whether a licence was in existence. I ask the House is it fair to put a driver in this position? He has got to risk the displeasure which may result in his being dismissed from his position in order to comply with this provision when the responsibility should really rest solely on the owner of the vehicle. There must be some explanation for this curious provision.
Then again, in Section 93, it is even more absurd, but I suppose there is some explanation for it because it was discussed here before. At the same time, I cannot remember when discussing it before that there was one reason advanced in favour of the principle. I would expect a very satisfactory explanation indeed before we would vote for such a curious principle—on a principle which would mean that a number of people who have been a long time waiting for jobs and now having got them, may lose them within a week or even a day after getting them simply because they must challenge their masters, with regard to their masters' duties.
The principle of dual responsibility in this Bill is mainly to ensure that there would be no possibility of evading its provisions. If the driver is released from any responsibility in the matter it might be possible for an arrangement to be entered into between the driver and the employer to put the onus upon the driver in the event of a prosecution taking place, the owner pleading that the driver had been liable under the Act if it were amended, as the Deputy suggests. Under this section it is a good defence for the driver to prove that he considered the licence had been issued, but the obligation is upon him to prove that. If he does prove it, he has a good defence. If he cannot prove it, he is held to be equally liable for having broken the law.
I confess that that seems a hopelessly unsatisfactory defence of such an extraordinary provision. Further, taking it at its face value, is the Minister going to provide that the employee will be compensated in the event of his sacrificing a day's employment in order to prove his innocence. Will he provide that the employee can engage counsel, and if it is proved that the employee acted innocently that he will not be responsible for these legal expenses? In my opinion there is nothing to be said in support of the principle and I will certainly vote against it.
The difficulty I see, and which perhaps the Minister would see also, is that the owner may give orders, and knowing his action is in contravention of a section of this kind, to the driver to take out the lorry, and, if, in the circumstances, the driver refused, he is probably dismissed. If he takes out the lorry with the consent of the owner, and it is an offence, as he is likely to do under this particular section, then there is a dual prosecution and he is brought to court to give evidence against his employer. I see there is double danger there for the driver also. By bringing the driver into a position of dual responsibility, as suggested in this amendment, it looks as if he is going to lose his job one way or the other.
It is clear that this section does not really relate to lorries at all—only omnibuses. I cannot imagine a case where the driver would be likely to be required to engage in the driving of an omnibus for which a licence had not been issued without his knowing it. If such a situation did arise he has a good defence, and he is not liable to conviction under this section. But if he does know there is no licence for it and, nevertheless, takes it out for the conveyance of passengers, then he must share responsibility with the owner. In any event it is quite clear you open the door wide to evasion of the Act if you omit to place responsibility on the driver as well as on the employer.
I was informed in the House yesterday that there were two buses plying in a certain district not very far from Dublin to outlying areas and under this section the drivers would be held on the same basis of responsibility as the owner provided they are committing an offence.
That is a very elastic word when it comes to the question of prosecution. In any case I think the owner is the person who should be held responsible.
And he is held responsible.
And the driver is also coupled with him.
Only if the driver, with full knowledge, facilitates the owner in that manner.
Has the Minister no pity at all for the unfortunate wretch who is out of employment for two years and goes into a job after waiting all that time? This happened within the last two months. I know a man who got into employment as the driver of a bus. Now he is a week or so in his employment and everyone knows that there is a certain nervousness for the first few weeks at all events, and very often much longer; he is afraid of his life something will happen which will deprive him of his employment again, and he knows the horrors of unemployment at this time only too well. He has got then to brave his master and tell him he does not believe his story; that there is no licence for this vehicle, and he must make his master produce the licence. Supposing the master admits there is no licence and says: "We will risk it, it is a very special occasion and the guards will not observe us," he must say: "No, I would rather be dismissed, because the law punishes me just as it punishes you." Surely, it would not be fair to put an unfortunate man in that position. Then he is offered no compensation. There is no provision by which he can recover any damages from his master. There is no attempt to pay his expenses in connection with the matter. I think it is outrageous.
I do not accept for a moment that the driver is an unfortunate wretch who is a long time out of employment and who only got a job within the last fortnight. I would like the Deputy to consider the ordinary case which would arise under this section and that is where the driver, with full knowledge, deliberately co-operates with his employer in the breaking of the law.
I asked for a written statement of the two cases given to me in the House yesterday. I was not going to make representations in the case unless I got the matter in writing, or any information which would enable the Minister to satisfy himself that these people were not operating under the 1932 Act. I suggest to the Minister if the driver of the lorry or owner of the bus comes along, and if under the terms of this Bill he wants to make a complaint in connection with the matter and was satisfied he was not carrying out all the condition of the Bill fear would prevent him lest he would lose his job. It is the fear of losing their jobs which prevents drivers from coming forward and giving information against the owners.
Surely one must have regard for the people using the omnibuses, and have consideration for the public safety. We cannot ignore these altogether merely to avoid the possibility of imposing a fine upon an omnibus driver who knowingly breaks the law for some reason, and is coerced into doing it by his employer.
I can see the difficulty in the case of an owner driver.
Does the Minister hold that the passengers would be safe by having the responsibility put upon the driver? It would be difficult to do that. I alluded to the same principle in Section 93 where, if a plate seems to have the serial numbers defaced, it is the drivers' duty to object and to tell his master that he will not take out the vehicle unless a better plate is put on. Does not the Minister admit that this case is almost certain to arise? The master may tell the driver: "You do not think that the Guards are looking for prosecutions. We are prepared to take the risk. We have no other plates." The driver is told to go ahead. Does not the Minister realise that that is likely to take place? Does he want the unfortunate driver to say "No" and lose his job? That is expecting too much.
I suggest that we will get on much better if we discuss one section at a time. This section relates to the driver of a public service vehicle which has not been licensed. If a driver knowingly co-operates with an employer in having such a vehicle utilised for the conveyance of passengers then he should not be exempted from responsibility or released from the punishment for such an offence. We are not putting the responsibility on the driver instead of the owner, as Deputy Moore suggests. We are putting it on the owner as well as the driver and the prime consideration must be the public safety.
I move amendment 35:—
In sub-section (2), page 45, line 27, to delete the words "by wear or injury."
The object of this amendment is to make the wording of the section less narrow.
Perhaps I might now get some hope from the Minister, having regard to the fact that he said that he preferred to have Sections 90 and 93 discussed separately. Has the Minister considered the injustice with regard to the very small offences indicated in Section 93, offences which certainly will not affect the safety of passengers and the public? The unfortunate driver, at all events, should not be asked to lose his job by opposing his employer's wishes and telling him that he is not prepared to take the risk of taking out the vehicle if the plates are defaced. Does the Minister hold that there is any reason whatever for such a situation?
I would like the Deputy to consider the case from the other point of view. He is assuming that the owner would be entirely responsible for the fact that the plate was obscured or defaced, and that consequently the driver should not be held to be blameworthy. But the reverse might be the case. The driver might have removed, obscured or defaced the plate, and surely in such case the driver, and not the owner, should be held responsible. The purpose of the section is to hold both responsible and to ensure that the plate is not defaced or obscured.
I certainly disagree there. I think the driver would be responsible to the employer. Why hold the driver responsible to the public? I think that would be an outrageous thing when the employer knows that he is responsible for the vehicle and for its safety. We are not making the driver responsible for negligent driving where the damages recovered are recovered from the owner. Why make the driver responsible when the owner may refuse to supply a new plate, having said that he is prepared to take the risk? No matter how it may happen the driver has as much responsibility as the employer. I think that is a new principle, and a shocking principle.
May I draw the attention of the Deputy to the fact that this Bill does not deprive the individual of his remedy for negligent driving. It gives a statutory remedy to the injured person against the proprietor of the vehicle. Surely the Deputy will consider the question from the point of view of the owner of a vehicle who takes every precaution to see that the plate is as it should be. For the purposes of illustration, let me take an extreme case—that of a driver who deliberately desires to drive recklessly, to break the law, and who, for his own purpose, deliberately obscures the plate. Why make the proprietor liable for that, and discharge the driver from all trouble? Surely that would not be equitable or prudent. Would it not be a licence to the driver to obscure the plate, to do anything he liked, and to leave him free of all responsibility? The sensible thing is to make both parties liable and to leave it to the court to decide the burden of punishment. Leave it to the discretion of the court to deal with the driver and the owner fairly and equitably, after taking into consideration the respective guilt of the parties. If the driver makes the case that his employer told him to go out and to break the law, or that otherwise he would sack him, no judge is going to penalise that man heavily or to make his position intolerable. On the contrary, discretion would be used and the penalty would be placed on the owner. If a respectable owner tells the court that he saw the plate, that it was in perfect condition when the omnibus went out, and that the driver deliberately spread oil on it, surely the judge would measure the penalty in accordance with the guilt by penalising the driver, and excusing the owner? That would be justice. Unless judges are fools they are not going to penalise savagely the unfortunate drivers.
The Deputy has missed the point entirely.
I think the Minister should reconsider this matter because, as far as I can judge from the section, the driver is almost bound to be fined. Some other words might be included.
The experience has been that, in the vast majority of cases where there were complaints of obscuration or of defacing of plates, it was found that the drivers and not the owners were responsible.
In this case, if it is seen that the trouble was caused by usage, age, or anything of that sort, surely the driver is not responsible.
We deleted some words.
Notwithstanding that, if a plate is illegible or defaced, unless it was the fault of the driver, I do not see why he should be liable. If it was defaced by him there is every reason why he should be liable to punishment for the offence. In the ordinary way of wear or injury the driver is held responsible here.
Do I gather from the Deputy's suggestion that the owner should be responsible if the plate is obliterated or illegible, and that the driver should be liable if he is responsible for having defaced or obscured it.
I will have that suggestion brought to the attention of the Minister.
Why are offences of that kind picked out for special treatment? Cases dealing with the handling of vehicles generally by the driver will not come before the courts. They are matters between the employee and the owner. When doing up a vehicle before he takes it out, a man who is expected to deface a plate, if he is so inclined, can cause injury to the engine so that it will break down—if we are supposing him to have that criminal intention with regard to his master's vehicle. Deputy Dillon missed the point entirely. He thought that my principal aim was to prevent the man being brought into court. My principal aim is to prevent him from losing his employment. My point is that, if the employer is prepared to take the risk, the driver should not be expected to say to his master: "No, I will not take out the car even though my refusal may involve my dismissal."
Surely, it is not the intention that it should cover the case of a man endeavouring to escape detection by obliterating the plate. Very often we have cases of men driving off after an accident and getting down and smearing the plate with mud or oil so that the guard could not detect it. Should not the driver be responsible in that case?
Cannot his master bring him into court for it if he is responsible to his master?
The law states that the plate must be affixed to a vehicle in a prescribed place and manner so that it can be read in certain circumstances and that it must not be obliterated. If the law is broken in that way, the person who broke it should be liable to a penalty. That is the purpose of that section.
Will the Minister look into that point?
On Section 95, I should like to draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that on an earlier section representations were made that the Civic Guards should be restricted —indeed, I think it was Deputy Moore—from requiring a person to accompany him to a weighbridge if the Guard suspected that the weight of the vehicle was too great. Deputy Moore suggested that that ought to be "reasonably suspected." It was suggested by the Minister for Local Government and Public Health that the insertion of that word was not necessary, as it was implied. Perhaps the Minister will explain why, if the word "reasonably" was not necessary in that part of the Bill, it has been deemed necessary to insert it in Section 95. It will be observed that the words are:—"any member of the Gárda Síochána may, at any time and in any place, inspect and examine any public service vehicle (including the fittings and equipment thereof) which he reasonably suspects to be so defective as to be unfit" and so on.
Is the Deputy objecting to this section?
I am asking why it is necessary to insert the word "reasonably" in Section 95 when it was not found necessary to insert it previously.
The Deputy has no objection to this section?
The Deputy has the objection that the form of this section creates doubt in the mind of the conscientious legislator.
I take it that tyres are included in the phrase "fittings and equipment." There have been cases, in other countries at any rate, of accidents where tyres were included.
Yes, the definition "fittings and equipment" would include tyres. Presumably it would include all things with which a bus is equipped.
Will the Minister explain why in Section 16, sub-section (4)——
We are past Section 16.
I am not going back, sir, and I must ask your indulgence to allow me to continue with the sentence. Will the Minister explain why, if the form used in Section 16, which says "whenever a member of the Gárda Síochána observes a vehicle which he suspects of being then used in such a manner," is adequate in that part of the Bill, it ceases to be adequate in Section 95? Section 95 says: "which he reasonably suspects to be so defective as to be unfit for the carriage of passengers." If it was deemed necessary to omit that word "reasonably" in an earlier section, surely its introduction here limits the Guard's discretion in a much more important relation. Why is it deemed necessary or desirable to limit the Guard's discretion here when it was not so limited in other parts of the Bill?
It is deemed advisable here because of the circumstances of the section. I could give a very lucid explanation of Section 16 to the Deputy, but its discussion is out of order.
I move amendments 44 and 45:—
In sub-section (1) to insert at the beginning of the sub-section the following words:—
Subject to the provisions of this section.
Before sub-section (2) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
(2) The Commissioner may certify that in his opinion a conductor is not required for a specified passenger road service in respect of which a licence is in force under the Road Transport Act, 1932, and may at any time withdraw such certificate and while such certificate is in force the provisions of this section shall not apply to any public service vehicle while it is being used on such passenger road service and accordingly it shall not be necessary to carry a conductor on such vehicle while it is being so used.
I am prepared to accept amendments 44 and 45 in principle, if the Deputy will withdraw them at this stage.
On the section, the only point I want to raise is that if those vehicles are not licensed, and if they are in possession of certain persons, there is a certain confiscation taking place of public property. Can there be any consideration given to that matter? I understand that some of those people are not people of very considerable means and, in certain cases, it may be that it is their entire livelihood, and it might not possibly pay to have a conductor on a small vehicle of that kind. Could there be any arrangement made whereby the life of a car would be allowed to be worked out and no future licence given in respect of another vehicle?
I am not aware that it is not the practice to carry conductors on buses larger than 14 seaters. It is undoubtedly correct that on the 14 seater buses the driver acts in the double capacity of driver and conductor. That will still be the case. This only applies to vehicles of larger size —22 and 32 seater buses. It would not be easy for the driver on these to act also as conductor. For one thing, they carry a larger number of passengers than the smaller buses, and as a rule, they are entered from the back.
Are there vehicles at the present time with more than 14 seats not carrying conductors?
I do not think there are very many.
Would the Minister look into that point?
Certainly. Apart from the fact whether there are or not, I feel that for the larger type of vehicle a conductor is essential. For one thing, on the larger buses a conductor is required to look after the passengers. The door is usually at the back of the vehicle, while on the smaller buses it is at the front. On the larger buses a conductor is necessary to give the driver signals when to start and to stop as well as to signal to traffic coming behind when the bus proposes to turn. On these larger buses a conductor is essential not merely for the safety of those using the road but also for the safety of the passengers.
I agree with the principle. I am a child in these matters as I have never travelled on a bus. I accept what the Minister says, but, having regard to what I have pointed out, I think some consideration ought to be given for the life of the bus.
The Deputy will remember that since the Road Transport Act came into operation licences for public service vehicles have only been given to those who have undertaken not merely to preserve the service with the degree of efficiency that existed at the time the licence was given, but to improve it and also the efficiency of the vehicles on the service. If they allow their buses to deteriorate, become old or unsafe, then, apart from whatever penalties may be imposed under this measure, they are liable to suffer the withdrawal of their licence under the Road Transport Act.
Would the Minister say whether it is the practice in areas outside the Saorstát to have buses larger than the 14 seaters controlled by a single man?
I am afraid I cannot give the Deputy any information on that.
I agree with the Minister that in crowded areas such as cities it is not advisable to have buses under the control of only one man, but in rural areas where the conditions would not be at all as exacting it might be advisable to relax the regulations in that connection somewhat.
The position in the rural areas is that apart from one or two omnibus services which operate in isolated districts all the omnibuses are now railway-owned over the greater part of the country. Apart from a few services running into Cork and one in Galway the Great Southern system— the I.O.C. buses—is really the only one operating at the moment. These are all large omnibuses and the company should be able to supply the staff provided here.
The Minister will understand that in areas where the population is small and the distances covered not very great, while it would not pay to run a large bus it might pay to run a smaller one, and just because the larger bus does not pay there is no bus run at all, with the result that the people do not get the convenience to which they are entitled.
The 14-seater bus is the ordinary small bus that one sees running in the city. There is no obligation to carry a conductor on it. The next size of bus is generally the 20 to 22 seater. That is a substantially larger vehicle, and usually has the door at the back. It would certainly require a conductor, both for the safety of the passengers and the public generally. Then there is the 32-seater bus on which a conductor is essential.
I travelled on a bus not many weeks ago on the other side— a 20 seater—which was controlled by one man. He controlled the door, which was almost opposite him, by a lever in his box. I think the Minister ought to consider taking powers in order to deal with cases such as I have mentioned—a case, say, where a larger bus would not pay and where it might be advisable to instal a small bus. He should take power to deal with the 14 to 20-seater vehicle.
I will convey the Deputy's suggestion to the Minister for Local Government.
I move amendment 46:-
In sub-section (1), line 47, to insert after the word "concerned" the words "and the motoring organisations."
As Deputies know we have in this State motoring organisations which serve a very useful purpose. They erect signs on our roads and they give a lot of useful advice. I suggest that it would be a very useful thing to make provision in this section that motoring organisations such as the A.A. should be consulted in the making of by-laws.
In the ordinary course motor organisations of the kind the Deputy has in mind would be consulted in the preparation of by-laws of this kind, but it is obviously highly undesirable that such consultation should be made a matter of statutory obligation. If that were the case it might, in fact, be necessary to prove consultation before the by-law could be admitted as valid. Apart from that the term which the Deputy uses in his amendment is a rather wide one. It might cover a lot more than the particular organisation to which he referred. It is a very wide phrase indeed. If we were to include it we might find an organisation in some part of the country that no one ever heard of before coming forward and objecting to the validity of certain bye-laws on the ground that it was not consulted. As I have said, it would be the practice to consult these organisations in the preparation of the bye-laws. It is very advisable to leave it at that and not to attempt to make it a matter of statutory obligation.
With the Minister's assurance, I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
I move amendment 47:—
To add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—
(7) For the purposes of this section, the expression "public service vehicles" shall include tramcars.
The object of the amendment is to empower the Commissioner to regulate the movement and stopping place of trams by the police. From the by-laws that the Commissioner is empowered to make, tramcars are omitted, and, I think, the Minister will see the desirability of giving such power as is suggested in the amendment to the Commissioner.
I would like to support this amendment. It has been moved as a result of consultation between the members of the Dublin Corporation and the officials of the Corporation, who have some responsibility for the stopping places of public vehicles. This amendment, and others of a similar nature, are the result of such consideration, and I hope the Minister will see his way to meet the borough representatives upon this point.
In the first place, I would refer to Section 145, which purports that the Commissioner may, with the consent of the Minister, make in respect of any tramway system by-laws for all or any of the following purposes, that is to say: (a) regulating the management of other vehicles in relation to tramway cars on such tramway system and in particular the conduct of such vehicles when overtaking a tramway car; (b) the places at which tramcars on such tramway system may stop to pick up or set down passengers; (c) the places at which intending passengers in such tramcars may congregate to await transport in such tramway cars. I would ask the Deputies if that does not meet their point.
In that section the county council or the municipality is not consulted. The amendment that I am asking the Minister to accept gives power to consult the Commissioner as to the particular stopping places.
The matter is complicated by the fact that the tramways company has powers, under various private Acts and Statutes, all of which are administered by the Department of Industry and Commerce, and are not under the Department of Local Government. To bring it in now, in the manner suggested, would complicate things very considerably, and would involve very substantial amendment of this Bill. The Deputy may take it as reasonably certain that the Commissioner, in exercising his power under Section 145, will take into consideration any views that the local councils may submit in connection with the matter.
Is the Minister satisfied that the section to which he has referred does cover the matter, and that it would be desirable for the municipal representatives to have some consultation with the Commissioner?
I do not think the Minister really sees the point which the municipal authorities have in mind. Apart from the ordinary facilities that will be accorded in regulating traffic, the municipal council is engaged, almost continuously, on building operations, and so forth. They have to consider, in the clearing up of certain areas, that they may have to remove facilities in connection with public vehicles. Bearing that in mind, they want to be consulted so that they might have some right, one way or the other, when occasion arises. I assure the Minister these amendments are not put down except from the point of view of absolute necessity from the municipal side. All sections of the municipal authority are satisfied that these amendments are essential in the public interest, and from the municipal point of view. They are not merely asking for rights because they are a public authority, but they are asking for them for the purpose of being able to work in with the police authorities in regulating traffic, so that it will be for the benefit or the State as a whole and the public in general.
I suggest that possibly the difficulties the Minister mentioned might be avoided if he undertook in Section 145 to put in the words "the Commissioner may, with the consent of the Minister, and after consultation with the local authorities, make, in respect of any tramway system, the following Order, etc." That is the point I think Deputy Byrne wishes to have. If the Minister would amend Section 145 in the way I suggest I think he will get over the difficulty he mentioned.
I shall have the suggestion brought to the notice of the Minister for Local Government. But the tramways are regulated under a system of private Acts that could not be amended here.
I am not familiar with their private Acts, but if the Commissioner, in consultation with the Minister, can make regulations under Section 145, as obviously he can, because I am sure the section was carefully considered by the Department and the draftsman, surely he can do so after consulting the Department, and with the consent of that Minister.
Is the Minister making the point that the tramway stopping places cannot be altered or amended?
I am not making such points at all. It is clear that there is power to regulate where people may stop to get their trams; and as there is power to interfere in these matters, and as it is proposed to give the Commissioner power to make by-laws in connection with them, there is no reason why the Commissioner could not be forced to consult with the local authorities before making the by-laws. I shall bring that to the notice of the Minister for Local Government in connection with Section 145.
Would the Minister agree that these amendments be withdrawn in order that the Minister may consider the points of view, and, equally, that the members of the municipality may consider them with a view to finding out whether amendments could not be framed to meet the point?
I am not suggesting an amendment, but making suggestions to the Minister for Local Government.
Deputy Fitzgerald-Kenney suggested an amendment that he thought might meet our point. We would like to consult the municipal authorities upon the matter.
I merely suggested a point that might be helpful.
On the assurance of the Minister that he will give the matter further consideration I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Section 146 does not govern Section 145, does it?
I move amendment 48:—
In sub-section (2), line 58, to delete the words "County Surveyor" and substitute the words "County Council."
The object of the amendment is to make the county councils, instead of the borough surveyors, the authority to be consulted by the Minister before approving of a road in the county for the purpose of an omnibus route. As the sub-section provides for consultation between the Commissioner and the county surveyor in every urban district and county borough through which the road passes, the suggestion is that the council should similarly be the authority in the county to be consulted. Sub-section (2) definitely makes reference to the county surveyor as the authority to be consulted, and not the council, which is the employer of the county surveyor. I think it will be agreed by everybody in this House that the council should have some right to be consulted as to a bus route which it is proposed to make and which may possibly entail a road being made through some new housing estate of theirs. I think that the council should be consulted.
I do not know why in this particular section the surveyor in Dublin should be picked out as distinct from the council, whereas the council is the authority in other areas. As Deputy Byrne has pointed out, the municipal authority after all is the ultimate authority. It may have a surveyor or certain surveyors in its employment from time to time, but I think the Minister should indicate that this was not done with any intention of singling out the City of Dublin to deprive the council of its authority. Apart from the distinction which the Bill makes, the municipal council may appoint a second surveyor. Which surveyor then is the Minister to consult? I think the Minister should leave us this authority in our own area.
If the Deputy reads the section he will see that his council is the authority. The sub-section says:—
Before approving of a particular road under the foregoing sub-section, the Minister shall consult the Commissioner and also the county surveyor of every county through which such road passes, the council of every county borough, borough and urban district through which such road passes...
In the case of a county borough, it is the council of the county borough that will be consulted. In the case of the county council, it is the surveyor who is consulted, and none of the county councils have asked that they should be consulted.
The point we make is that the county councils are not interested in maintaining or preserving the roads as we are. We are interested in preserving the roads in our area.
The section says that the council of the borough shall be consulted.
Then it is not the borough surveyor the Minister will consult in the city borough?
"The Minister shall consult ... the council of every county borough."
But the city borough is not a county borough. Our law agent has guided us as members of the municipal authority——
I am afraid he is getting a bad advertisement.
Hé assures us that this amendment is necessary to clarify the position as far as we are concerned.
I am quite sure he did not say that the City of Dublin was not a county borough.
I did not say it was not a county borough. It is a borough within the county, but it is a city borough in itself.
I strongly object to the county surveyor telling the council of a borough what road within their area should be used. As far as I can see, the county surveyor can go into a town in any county and decide whether a road there shall be used. The borough surveyor is not mentioned at all.
The section distinctly states that before approving of a particular road the Minister "shall consult the council of every county borough, borough and urban district through which such road passes." In the case of a county borough, borough or urban council, it is the council that is consulted.
And in the case of town commissioners?
Yes. It is only in the case of a county council that the county surveyor is consulted.
And in most cases the county surveyor will consult with the county council.
And if the reverse were there, the county council would consult with the county surveyor.
It is the reverse we want.
You have it.
Is the Minister going to give us what we want?
It is in the Bill already.
Having regard to the Minister's assurance that what we want is in the Bill, although a legal man appeared to have some doubt about it, we are satisfied. Once the Minister's assurance appears in the Official Report, we will take that as the official decision on the matter. I therefore ask for permission to withdraw the amendment.
Nach leor na fógrai agus na ticéidi do chur amach i nGaedhilg amhain sa nGaeltacht? Iarraim ar an Aire alt mar san do chur sa mBille.
Táim sásta é sin do dheanamh.
I should like to know from the Minister whether the words "for which passenger accommodation is available in such vehicle" as contained in sub-section (1) of this section, mean that the vehicle cannot carry any larger number of passengers than it has accommodation for. Is the word "seating" implied before the word "accommodation"? It might have accommodation but still not have seating accommodation.
If the Deputy refers back to Section 20 he will find that that point is covered.
I take it from the Minister that passenger accommodation may mean either sitting or standing accommodation. Section 20 only gives power to the Minister to make regulations and in such regulations to distinguish between sitting and standing accommodation.
What does the word "accommodation" mean?
It may mean either.
Would it not be advisable to make it clear?
There are certain hours in the day at present during which a certain amount of standing accommodation is allowed. That will be continued under the regulations. There are certain hours during which not more than three passengers might be allowed to stand. That is the custom at present and I think the intention is to allow that to continue, but of course to limit standing accommodation.
I move amendments 49 and 50:—
In sub-section (3), paragraph (d), page 60, line 46, after the word "inspector" to insert the words "or an ex-officio inspector".
In sub-section (3) (e), page 60, line 52, after the word "inspector" to insert the words "or an ex-officio inspector".
I should like an explanation of what precisely is an ex-officio inspector.
The present ex-officio inspectors are members of the Gárda Síochána.
They are ex-officio inspectors of weights and measures, I know, but what members of the Guards are there who are ex-officio inspectors for the purpose of inspecting motor buses?
We want to make them such.
You say they are already existing.
We want to empower them to be inspectors under this Bill.
You put in the words "or ex-officio inspector," which seems to suggest that there are already existing ex-officio inspectors, and I want to know who they are.
There are inspectors of weights and measures at present and we want to empower these to be inspectors under this Bill. They have measuring instruments available.
I move amendment 51:—
In sub-section (4), page, 61, line 20, after the word "may" to insert the words "after consultation with the Minister and."
I move amendment 52:—
Before sub-section (5), page 61, to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
(5) The power of making general regulations vested in the Minister for Industry and Commerce by virtue of Section 5 of the Weights and Measures Act, 1904, shall include power to make, after consultation with the Minister, general regulations with respect to the provision and maintenance of standards and equipment by the Commissioner under this section and the verification of such standards and equipment and with respect to the guidance of special inspectors in the execution and performance of their duties under this section, and the said Section 5 shall be construed and have effect accordingly.
The Minister for Industry and Commerce considers it advisable that this amendment should be put in so as to safeguard the interests that are looked after by that Department in regard to traffic.
I move amendment 54:—
In sub-section (1), line 3, after the word "may" to insert the words "after consultation with the road authority".
This amendment is intended to provide that the Commissioner, in making by-laws for the control of traffic generally, should consult the road authority. The suggestion of the Corporation that such consultation should take place has already been adopted by the Minister in Sections 115, 124, 146, 147 and 148 and the amendments in my name have had the consideration and approval of a committee of the municipal council.
When the Bill was before the House on the previous occasion, similar amendments which were put up to many of these sections were suggested by the Corporation and wherever it was possible to secure that that consultation should be held with the local authorities in reference to regulations to be made, the necessary amendments were made in the Bill. This section, however, deals with a type of regulations that would be made to govern the whole Saorstát and it would mean, therefore, that, in the case of every regulation, every road authority should be consulted. We do not think that that would be possible, but in all other cases in which regulations are being made concerning a particular district, Dublin, Cork, Galway, or wherever it may be, the road authority will be consulted.
I move amendment 55:—
At the end of sub-section (3) to add the words "and the cost to the council of erecting or providing such notices, instructions directions and instruments shall be paid from contributions to be made to the council from the Road Fund."
I hope that this amendment will be acceptable to the Minister. The object of it is to secure that the cost of providing notices, instructions, directions and instruments for giving signals by mechanical means for the regulation of traffic shall not be paid by the ratepayers of the district but shall be borne by contributions to be made to the local authority from the Road Fund. Such expenses are properly payable from that fund rather than from the local rates. We all see the day coming when mechanical signals for the direction of traffic will be used to a great extent in Dublin City. These electrical robots will be asked for. Personally, I am against too much machinery being used in anything and I would prefer, if it were possible, that man labour would be employed everywhere possible for the direction of traffic. But, if in various outlying districts in which it might not be considered necessary to have a traffic constable, these electrical or mechanical devices are erected for directing traffic, the cost should not be borne by the ordinary ratepayer.
As you have a Road Fund being subscribed to by those using the mechanical devices to be erected under the Bill, we think that the Road Fund should bear the cost. My own opinion is that we are getting too fond of machinery and I see the possibility of machinery displacing men, which is regrettable, but, when I raised that point in another place, I was informed that in big areas where traffic constables had to be employed, they will continue to be employed and that these signals might go up in districts where traffic constables are not already in employment. I feel that I am appealing to a sympathetic Minister in this matter because he knows how heavy the burden of rates is on the city and, having regard to the fact that there is a substantial Road Fund in existence, I think it should bear the cost of those instruments.
Sub-section (5) of this section enables a contribution to be made out of the Road Fund towards the cost of erecting signs, particularly for roads that are maintained out of any part of the Road Fund. I think that will cover the point the Deputy has in mind.
If the Minister is satisfied it gives us power to demand the erection of these instruments we, too, will be quite satisfied.
I would like to know from the Minister whether it is the intention forthwith to put up mechanical signs for the control of traffic in parts of Dublin. I am anxious to know if that matter has been thought out. Of course, if it has not received full consideration, I recognise it would be unfair to ask the Minister to make a statement now. I suggest it should be given a trial in Dublin. I have been in cities where it has worked admirably.
That matter is one very largely for the local authorities. I refer now to mechanical or other signs. The local authority is the body primarily responsible in that case. We will certainly be prepared to consider any recommendations that they make with regard to the necessity for putting up mechanical signs. The matter has not received very serious consideration so far.
So far as I understand the section, the Commissioner makes the order and it must be carried out by the local authority.
After consultation with the local authority.
No, not after consultation with the local authority. This is one of the sections in which the Minister said consultation with the local authority should not be put in as of right.
That is so. Perhaps the Deputy is quite right. If the local authority are against it, of course the Commissioner would not insist on putting up mechanical signs as against other ways of directing traffic.
I have an amendment down to Section 145—to insert after the word "passengers" the words "and after consultation with the local authority the selection of terminal points on tramway routes"—but I recollect that this is the section the Minister referred to when we were dealing with a previous amendment. I am satisfied with the statement he then made, that he will give this matter further consideration, and I do not intend to move the amendment.
I have an amendment down to Section 147, but it is closely related with the subject-matter of my amendment to Section 148 and, in the circumstances, I am not moving it.
I beg to move amendment 58:—
To delete sub-section (1) (e).
Briefly, the amendment means that exception is taken to the payment of a fixed fee. It is held by many that the fee payable to the attendant at these parking places should be a voluntary and not a fixed fee. Under the proposal in the Bill the Minister will prepare a schedule of fixed fees to be paid to the attendants in parking places. My intention is to leave it entirely optional with motor owners as to what their contribution will be.
If I remember correctly, I think this subject was discussed at considerable length on another occasion. My recollection is that the consensus of opinion seemed to be that there should be a fee laid down. That is our view. The fee may not be a very large one, but there ought to be something definitely fixed and it should not be purely a voluntary matter. We think there ought to be something in the way of a definite fixed fee.
I quite agree we discussed this matter at considerable length when the Bill was before us on a previous occasion. There was a considerable variation of opinion on the subject. I must admit that the consensus of opinion was with the Minister. If he is still of the same opinion, there is scarcely any use in pressing the matter further.
How have the existing regulations worked? At the present moment these parking attendants get entirely voluntary contributions. No doubt they are very generously paid by some people, and, I think, on the other hand, it is highly probable that there are persons who do not pay at all, who avail themselves of the attendants' services and do not contribute anything. It seems to me there will be difficulties. I submit for the consideration of the Minister that there may be great difficulties about fixing a fee. If you fix a fee you must fix a very low one. If a car stands in a place for five minutes, nobody would give anything except a comparatively small tip. If a car were standing in a place for a couple of hours, I expect the ordinary person would give a reasonable tip.
If you fix a scale you will have to fix it at the very minimum and, in consequence, a person whose car stands for ten minutes or for an hour will be charged the sum of twopence or threepence and the result might be that the attendants would finally lose heavily, because the motorist would give the fixed fee which might very often not be one quarter of what he would give if it were left to his own generosity. I would rather like if the Guards ascertained the views of the parking attendants on this matter. This proposal in the Bill may have the effect of cutting down the tips which are being received by the attendants—making them very much lower than they are at the moment. Except in some places, I know the attendants are not doing extraordinarily well.
It is the Commissioner who will make the regulations and I am sure he will take the opportunity of reading over carefully the debates that have taken place on this matter. He will note the suggestions made as to how these fees should be regulated and as to whom he shall consult. I am sure all these things will be carefully weighed by him before he comes to a decision.
If this becomes law he will have to fix a scale and I am afraid it will be very difficult to fix a suitable scale.
What is done in other places?
I am afraid I do not know anything at all about that. I have never known of any regulations of this kind in any other place except, perhaps, privately owned places in America, where parking places are owned by private individuals and they charge a very stiff fee, sometimes a dollar an hour and sometimes 50 cents an hour, according to the locality. These are the only places of which I have any personal knowledge.
I was interested in the matter of these parking attendants when the idea was first introduced into Dublin. I am aware that they were in existence in parts of England at the time. It was not a new idea here at all. At that time they were worked by voluntary contributions in England and they were started here on the basis of voluntary contributions. I suggest that the Minister would have a consultation with the Department of Justice on this question and ascertain the views of the Guards on the matter. I do not want to press the thing any further. I only want just to point out that one danger.
I am afraid the Minister will find that the attendants will be opposed to this idea.
I am afraid they will suffer.
I beg to move a new sub-section:—
At the end of sub-section (2), page 70, to add the words—
The expenses of the local authority of acquiring, appropriating and adapting any such land for use as a vehicle station shall be paid from contributions to be made to the local authority from the Road Fund.
This amendment is somewhat similar to amendment 55.
Yes, as there is some difference about adapting the land for a vehicle station I think I might be satisfied with an assurance given by the Minister that he does not intend this expense to fall upon the ratepayers of a particular area where the public generally will benefit. This is somewhat on the same lines as my amendment to Section 144 that any expenses in connection with the matter should be paid from contributions to be made to the council from the Road Fund. This will benefit the public generally and the expense should be borne out of the contributions to be made to the local authority from the Road Fund. I would like to have an assurance from the Minister on that matter.
I am afraid I cannot give any assurance to the Deputy with regard to this particular amendment. The idea of my Department is that all these various stations should pay for themselves. The local authority will decide whether it is wise to have such stations put up and whether they will undertake the expense of keeping them in order. If they do they should make them bear their own costs. I am afraid that I could not promise the Deputy it would be borne out of the rates.
Suppose a case like this: A number of motor car owners make up their minds to go out to Howth on Sundays—and we know that the ratepayers of Howth are doing their very best to make the place attractive—I suggest it would be rather unfair on the ratepayers of Howth to have to provide accommodation for people who go there on Sunday from Dublin. The same would apply to a number of areas in and around the city. These people would come from Dublin and places around it, and it would certainly be a hardship on the ratepayers of Howth and small areas like that to have to provide these conveniences. If they do not provide them see what is likely to happen. I would ask the Minister to give the matter consideration between now and the time when the Bill comes next before the House on Report Stage. Otherwise the necessary conveniences suggested might not be put up.
I am quite willing to give and carry out a promise to consider the matter. I will ask the Department to consider it again. I am not holding out any hope that there will be any contribution from the Road Fund for this purpose.
Having regard to the fact that we are asking for contributions from the Road Fund for other matters, I think this should also have a claim. I was making applications that an inroad should be made on the Road Fund for the purpose of providing that where roads are not properly lighted a contribution should be given for that purpose.
Would the Minister say if this section applies to bus or tramway stations in addition to parking places? I read it as applying to bus terminal stations?
Do you mean this particular section?
Yes, Section 150. Will it apply to bus terminals?
Railways which are in competition with the buses have to provide their own terminal stations, and if the railways have to provide their own terminal stations it is only fair that those in competition with the railways should have to carry similar obligations. I agree with Deputy Byrne that it would be most unfair that citizens would have the obligation of providing accommodation for these bus companies. I think some means ought to be provided whereby the burden of that expense would be taken off the city and thrown on to the bus users. What I have in my mind at the moment is that in Scotland a number of people travel by steamer to different places. Before they can get on to the steamer they have to pass through a gate at the pier, and at the gate at the pier there is a charge levied. A somewhat similar arrangement might be made in this case so that the burden of maintaining and providing stations would fall on those using the stations. I think it is only fair that the obligation should be cast on them and not on the ordinary ratepayers of the city.
The Deputy would not suggest that the Road Fund should be raided in order to provide these stations?
I do not think so, but the Road Fund may be used for many other purposes. I am only looking at the bus as a competing service with the railways. You cast on the railways the burden of providing stations and station equipment and the same obligation should be cast on their competitors.
That is my idea. If the obligation is cast on the local authorities to provide these stations they should have to ask the bus owners to pay a small fee. It is purely obligatory on the local authorities to provide these stations.
Supposing a number of small bus owners started using the place I have referred to, and, as a result of a big number of these small buses using the place, it is found necessary to erect lavatory accommodation for the people stopping there, even if it is only for half a minute, is it fair that the small township should be forced to build these stations rendered necessary by the motor traffic? This would really be for the convenience of motorists who are subscribing and paying towards the Road Fund?
Is it fair that Dublin City that gets within its bounds every day in the week many thousands of visitors from all parts of the country should provide accommodation for these visitors to the city and for whom accommodation of that kind must be provided in some way?
Does not Dublin City welcome its visitors?
Yes, certainly, Dublin City welcomes its visitors and is delighted to have them.
But it is entirely a different matter in a small seaside town where people are passing through and perhaps only stop for half-an-hour and where the township gets no benefit.
If the bus makes any delay somebody usually profits
Particularly if the weather is warm.
I move amendment 60:—
Before Section 152 to insert a new section as follows—
It shall not be lawful for any person to ride or drive a pedal bicycle or tricycle in a public place unless there is attached to same in a position appointed by regulations to be made by the Commissioner with the consent of the Minister a plate of the description required by such regulations bearing a registration number issued to him by the licensing authority as defined by Section 21 of this Act.
This amendment appears in my name although it is one of those suggested by and agreed to by the Municipal Council. I received a communication on the 15th March from the City Manager's Office saying he was directed by the Housing and General Purposes Committee of Dublin City Council to enclose me a series of amendments which the Committee at its meeting the previous night decided to request members of the Council to support. I looked through the amendments and, in my ignorance of the rules of the House, I left them in my pocket, thinking it would be just the time to move them when considering the Bill. Afterwards, I thought that, having regard to the very severe forms of this institution of which I am a member at present, I had better make some inquiry. I called at the office below and the clerk in charge told me that Deputy Byrne, whom you all know as the Lord Mayor of Dublin, had been in there and had lodged all the amendments. I said "Very well" and put them back in my pocket. I was not long out of the office when a messenger was sent after me to say that Deputy Byrne would not lodge the amendment relating to bicycles as he did not agree with it. I submit that when the Municipal Council make representations they ought to be heard in full. Consequently, I put down in my name the amendment approved of by the Municipal Council's Housing and General Purposes Committee. I have no feeling whatever regarding cyclists. If you accept this amendment, it is all right; if you reject it it is all right, so far as I am concerned. The case made in the memorandum submitted to me on behalf of the Municipal Council is as follows:—
The amendment, which is clear in its terms, speaks for itself and represents the opinion of the Corporation of Dublin on the necessity for the registration of pedal bicycles and tricycles and for imposing on the riders the obligation of the provisions of the Bill with regard to third party insurance. It is hardly necessary to point out the number of accidents caused by pedal bicycles and tricycles in which the victims had no redress owing to the fact that the riders of the machines were people of little or no means——
There are two amendments on the paper in the name of the Deputy—Nos. 60 and 60a. Amendment 60a is out of order and cannot be discussed. The Bill as read a Second Time provided for third party insurance for mechanically propelled vehicles. To extend the scope of the Bill to include pedal bicycles, would be to go too far. The Deputy must confine himself to amendment 60.
You will understand that the Municipal Council of Dublin is speaking and not I. You have knocked out one half and I expect the Deputies present will knock out the other half on the same principle as obtained long ago in a locality in which I lived in Dublin. There was in the neighbourhood a small monarch who governed all he surveyed. He usually paid his rent to his landlord by saying to him: "You knock off one half and I will knock off the other." In order to retain the friendship of the tenant, the landlord always agreed to do so, as his tenant's enmity was particularly dangerous having regard to his fistic accomplishments. I have no feeling against cyclists at all—quite the opposite. I suppose I have much the same experience as other citizens who use Shanks' Mare. Some of the cyclists are gentlemen. If they get into your way or cause you either inconvenience or alarm, they express their sorrow for it. Others sometimes become rude and angry. Others call you names. "You old blind bat" was the expression used to me in a very busy thoroughfare in Dublin. An adjective was used also which is not pronounceable here. "Waken up, four eyes" was another expression used to me. I dare say if I was in a hurry and had very little experience I might use much heavier expressions. Regarding the ladies on bicycles, I have not the smallest possible complaint to make. I always admire them whether they go on two wheels or four wheels or whether they keep their feet near the ground, as I do myself. In my whole experience of Dublin, I have never yet seen a cyclist run away from an accident of which he or she was the cause. They always held their ground. I must say that for them. I do not think that I have made any case at all for the amendment standing in my name but I am not going to let the Corporation down. The Corporation was let down some years ago and we shall have a word to say about that piece of history some time or other. I submit the amendment to the consideration of the House.
I do not propose to accept the amendment——
I was thinking you would knock off the other half.
For the very good reasons given by the Deputy.
I move amendment 61:—
In sub-section (5), line 43, to insert after the word "vehicle" the words "other than a mechanically-propelled vehicle." (Sub-section quoted).
It is thought, and I think the House will agree, that the obligations with regard to lights on mechanically-propelled vehicles are sufficiently heavy at present, and that there is no necessity whatever for applying this excellent provision to motor vehicles.
It is our view that the fitting of a reflector on a mechanically-propelled or other vehicle could not be any hardship. As we all know, tail lights sometimes go out, lamps fail, or something else happens, and the lights disappear. In that case it would be a wise precaution for the motorist himself to have a reflector.
Has the Minister considered what effect that will have, for example, on tourists? I do not know whether the obligation exists in any other country to carry a reflector in addition to a tail light. If it does not, anyone coming here would have to get a reflector specially put on. I must say it seems to me entirely unnecessary.
I would ask the Minister to look into the matter before the Report Stage, because there are, as he knows, large numbers of tourists visiting this country, and it would be rather a serious obligation to place upon them. The Minister may say that it is not a very heavy penalty, but it is not a very easy thing to affix to a motor. I think that he will get all the benefits which he hopes to derive from this provision from the attachment of this to other vehicles. I think everybody will agree that motor vehicles are sufficiently well-lighted at present. Of course, lights are liable to go out, but if the Minister argues that it is necessary to put a reflector on the back of a vehicle, so that when the light goes out there will be something to show, he might argue just as strongly that it would be desirable to put white reflectors in the front of all vehicles. I would ask him to consider the matter before the next stage.
If the headlights or other lights go out when travelling at night, a wise motorist will not go very far.
I saw one last night doing 50 miles an hour not very far from here without any lights.
I agree that there are difficulties, and that there is a difficulty about an attachment to a motor car. My advisers, however, are very strong on the matter. They think it is necessary. When the lights fail, something of the kind would be advisable. However, I shall look into the matter again.
I move amendment 51:
In sub-section (1) (a), page 74, line 38, after the word "to" to insert the words "the lamps and reflectors (if any) which are required by or under this Part of this Act to be carried lit or to be carried."
These words were dropped out of the print of the Bill by the printer. In fact in this draft of the amendment they dropped another word the word "on". These words that are here with the word "on" at the end should go in before the words "such vehicle".
Amendment amended by the addition of the word "on" at the end.
Is this the way the Minister proposes to deal with what I think is an abuse very largely, that is having dazzling head lights inside areas that are well lit?
Sub-section (c) covers it.
I move amendment 52.
In sub-section (1), lines 31-32, to delete the words "such lamp reflector or other instrument as" and substitute the words "a lamp duly lit and in efficient condition and so constructed and carried as to be visible at a reasonable distance in all horizontal directions which".
We had considerable discussion on this matter when the Bill was previously before the House. The section deals with the driving of cattle on roadways after dark and provides that the drivers of such cattle should carry "such lamp, reflector or other instrument as will enable him therewith to give to the drivers of vehicles approaching from any direction reasonable visible warning." I do not know what other instrument means in this and it does not say where the drover will carry the reflector.
At the back of the cattle.
It is the drover who is to carry it. How he is to carry it, or to make himself visible to an approaching motorist is not clear. The way I propose to clarify the situation is to delete the words "such lamp, reflector or other instrument" and to substitute the words in the amendment. If we had that regulation in, I do not think it would add very much to the troubles of those driving cattle at night and it would ensure their safety from approaching motorists. One of the greatest difficulties that a motorist has is when on a dark night he comes round a bend and before he has time to pull up is into a drove of cattle. That is the risk to the motorist and to those driving the cattle and it is a danger to the cattle. If such a lamp as is proposed in the amendment were carried the reflection of that lamp would appear for some distance and warning would be given to the approaching motorist. I think, with all respect, that it is an amendment which is desirable in the interests of all concerned.
As Deputy Good said, there was considerable discussion on this section when it was before the House the last time. The revised section is drafted to meet, as far as we could, the view of the House as expressed when we were discussing the matter before. It was felt that it would be too much of a hardship to ask drovers of cattle to carry a lamp, and it was pointed out to us in relation to one particular locality—there may be others—that the area was specially well lighted. Take the North Wall. It is very well lighted there when cattle are being shipped, but, although it is almost as lightsome there at those times as it would be in daylight, if the amendment were insisted on every drover of cattle would have to carry a lamp. We know the difficulties of the farming community——
It need not apply except in prescribed areas.
It is very difficult to prescribe those areas.
I think the Minister has quite a different situation in mind to what the framers of this resolution had. I quite agree that no motorist would run into cattle at the North Wall in driving down to the boat. The motorist who would do that under the present lighting conditions in this city ought to be very severely dealt with. What Deputy Good has mentioned and what I certainly had in my mind were country roads at night, which are practically unlit, and where in the summer time the road is grey— almost the colour of sheep. I would say that sheep are practically invisible on an ill-lit road in summer time. That is the precise situation which we had in our minds—where sheep or cattle are being driven from one farm to another in the country. It has been mentioned here in this Bill that the drover has to carry a reflector. I do not know whether he would carry the reflector before, or behind, or in his pocket. Certainly if he carried it in front it would be quite invisible to a motorist coming behind.
The Minister has displayed such solicitude for the safety of everybody that one would like to examine the class of accidents which do happen. As far as I know, the accidents resulting from one motor car running into the back of another motor car in motion are few and far between. I am afraid the accidents to motorists, such as Deputy Good has described—coming around the corner on a dark road and running into cattle or sheep—are fairly frequent. The drover is usually on one side of the road, and even if he sees an approaching motorist, he has no method of warning him. I would like to impress on the Minister that this is a very common cause of accident and a great danger to motorists. I think it is not very much to ask a drover to carry a lamp with some sort of reflector that will be visible and give some sort of warning.
A Chinn Comhairle, I am opposed to the amendment. I think it is rather ridiculous to ask a drover or whoever is in charge of cattle to carry a lamp. I think the accidents resulting from driving into cattle are so rare as to make such a section as this undesirable. I can only recall one accident of this kind in my own lifetime. Everybody knows that cattle coming towards you provide by their eyes the greatest reflector that can be produced. Anybody who on a dark night could not see the eyes of a flock of sheep or cattle coming towards him does not deserve to be allowed to drive a motor car. As regards cattle going away from you, they are generally followed by one or two persons. If you are to provide that every person walking after a flock of cattle has to be provided with a light, it follows logically that every man walking on the road ordinarily must be provided with a light or reflector. One suggestion is just as logical as the other.
I cannot conceive of any motorist driving carefully, at whatever speed, running into a flock of cattle numbering anything more than one or two. I notice that in the case of the lesser number this regulation does not particularly apply. Although if there is any danger it would be occasioned by a single beast or two beasts. As regards any man in his ordinary senses, driving carefully, irrespective of speed, it seems to me impossible that he could drive into a flock of cattle. Only once in my long experience of motorists have I seen a man driving into a flock of cattle, and on that particular occasion the man was not in a condition to drive a motor car. There is danger, as Deputy Good says, of a motorist coming around a bend driving into a flock of cattle. There is danger of driving into anything, and it is because of the negligence of people driving around bends that accidents of any kind happen. I fail to see the necessity for the lamp, or, for that matter, any light at all.
We should like to hear the Minister on this horny problem.
I certainly feel I cannot accept the amendment. I think what is provided for in the section as re-drafted will meet the situation. In my opinion, it would be too much to expect that every individual on the road should carry a lamp as suggested by Deputy Good and Deputy Dockrell.
Will the Minister prescribe regulations as to how these reflectors or other instruments are to be carried or worn by drovers?
Are they to be carried in front or behind?
Will you insert "both"?
Is amendment No. 63 withdrawn?
I am afraid I will have to withdraw it. It goes against my will, though.
I move amendment 53:—
In sub-section (1), line 10, after the word "section" to insert in brackets the words "(the drivers of privately or professionally owned cars excepted i.e. those cars not plying for hire)".
What I ask in this section is that drivers of privately or professionally owned cars be excepted. A person may be considered to be on duty even if he has made a stoppage and is waiting for whoever he is driving. In the case of a medical man the car may be stopped for a considerable time. Under this section a man might be construed to be on duty even though sitting in the car and not actually driving. For that reason I would ask that the driver of the private car should be excepted. I can see the force of the section in providing that a man shall not be in a bus and driving for longer hours than we prescribe, but in the other case where his actual driving would not be so very long, he might be considered to be on duty even though he was not actually moving the car.
The Deputy's speech has, in fact, very little relation to his amendment. His amendment proposes to exclude entirely from the operation of this section employed drivers of private cars. I can see no justification for that whatsoever. If, in the interests of public safety, we prescribe maximum driving hours for the professionally skilled drivers of omnibuses and lorries there is, in my opinion, a much stronger case for prescribing similar hours in respect of drivers of privately-owned cars who are as a rule less skilled than the drivers of the public service cars or the commercial cars. In any event the same considerations of public safety apply. I think most Deputies will admit that the greatest danger on the road is the man who is half asleep, and who has been driving for a long period and has not got the full control of his wits, so that he is unable to think rapidly in case of an emergency. If that is a danger to be avoided the provisions to deal with it should apply just as rigidly to the driver of the private car as the driver of the public service car or the commercial car. In fact, I was expecting that we would get an amendment to this section to extend it to the owner driver. We have not included the owner driver in the section because of the difficulty of administering it, the difficulty of securing evidence that the owner driver had, in fact, exceeded the hours prescribed. If there was any substantial demand by the House for the inclusion of the owner driver, I would not be disposed to resist it. It seems to me that in every case where the driver is an employed man and subject to orders these maximum hours which are quite reasonable should be insisted upon in the interests of public safety. I think any man who has been driving for 11 hours in a day, even with half hour intervals, is so tired that he is not in a fit condition to take full control of a high-powered car. The Commissioner of the Gárda Síochána, and other parties, interested are repeatedly issuing notices to drivers to remember that when they are in charge of a car they are in charge of an instrument capable of considerable destruction, and it is absolutely necessary that such persons should be wide awake and not apt to be in a somnolent condition. That is why we think these conditions should be inserted. They are, in our view, essential conditions for securing the public safety.
I am sorry I did not make myself sufficiently intelligible to the Minister. I was asking for a definition of what he considered was driving continuously. Does he mean that to be the actual driving, or supposing there are hours at intervals when he is not actually driving, does he consider him on duty then?
Where a person is in charge of a car, apart from the time in which he is free to take rest and refreshment, he is regarded as being continuously driving.
That would certainly be an argument against including the owner driver.
I think another thing that should be taken into consideration is the owner driver. Certainly in the case of public vehicle services you have the driver continuing day in and day out, whereas it should be quite reasonable for the owner driver to do a very long day, and perhaps then to rest for several days afterwards. I have done 12 hours myself and I imagine myself quite as capable to drive at the end of 12 hours as at the beginning.
I take it, it is quite clear that the section does not apply to the owner driver.
No, it does not.
Would that be looked into because many reading the section would read it as applying to the owner driver as well as to others. I would be glad if the Minister looked into that matter.
I move amendment 65:—
In sub-section (1) (b), line 14, to delete the word "eleven" and substitute the word "eight."
I would like to make it clear to the House that I fulfilled all my promises to the Municipal Council. I could tell at the beginning that there was one amendment which I could not see my way to move. The Corporation suggested that Section 110 of the 1931 Bill, which has been repeated in Section 119 of the present Bill, should contain regulations governing hours of labour not less favourable than those contained in Section 19 of the English Road Traffic Act, 1930. This Section 167, which is a new section, is an improvement in the matter of hours and goes far to meet the Corporation's suggestion. The Corporation are of opinion that it does not go far enough. They consider the seriousness of continuous periods of driving, and that in one period of 24 hours it should be limited to eight hours instead of 11 hours as suggested in the measure. Now, if I want to make a speech to support that amendment I would just try and repeat word for word the Minister's speech a few moments ago on the last amendment when he said men working for long periods are a danger to the public. This eight hours suggestion instead of 11 hours was unanimously agreed upon by members of every party in Committee. This amendment had the hearty support of every member of the Corporation representing Labour, members of the Minister's Party and others. I am asking the Minister to accept it in view of the speech he made a few moments ago. I think men driving for a long period, without a break, have to sleep on the return journey, and are a danger to the community.
I gathered from Deputy Byrne that the consideration that weighed with the Council for the inclusion of the amendment, was that it would prescribe hours of driving not less favourable than that of the British Act. This section prescribes hours of driving not less favourable.
We tried to get this suggestion put through in a previous Bill, but did not succeed. The Council agreed that the new section goes further, but not far enough, and they asked me to press the amendment.
The first point arising out of this is that the section in this Bill is not less favourable than the corresponding section in the British Transport Act. In fact, it goes a little further than the British Act. The second point is that the section does not permit eight hours continuous driving. It permits a maximum of five and a half hours, and it provides that in any period of 24 hours there may be a succession of periods not amounting, however, to more than 11 hours. I think if Deputies consider the circumstances under which certain omnibus services are conducted, the period in which private cars—not owner driven —but driven by hired employees—are utilised, and the circumstances under which certain commercial cars have on occasions to be used, they will come to the conclusion that the provisions here are not unreasonable and that any lesser provisions would be a considerable restriction on trade. This section does not set out to prescribe what should be regarded as maximum hours of work for persons employed in the transport industry. It sets out to prescribe in the interests of public safety the maximum number of hours any person can drive in 24 hours. If an omnibus driver takes a bus to Ballina in the morning and has a rest in the afternoon, and comes back later, he would be entitled to do so under this Bill, subject to the total driving hours not exceeding 11 hours. That is what it is intended to provide for. It seems that if we were to prescribe that in any circumstances no one could drive an omnibus, a lorry or a car for a greater number of hours than eight in 24, the restriction upon a number of commercial enterprises would be very considerable. This is not a restriction that is essential to the public safety. I think we have taken our cue from the British Act and got the periods least likely to impose hardship on commercial enterprise, and at the same time we secure the maximum of public safety which is what we were aiming to do.
Would the Minister say where there is a check on the number of hours worked by a driver?
The Bill provides that the period shall not be more than 5½, and in successive periods not more than 11 hours in the 24 hours.
I follow that, but where is the check on the actual number of hours worked?
It is made an illegal offence.
There is a complaint.
The ordinary law will operate then.
I know that if an employee of a company makes a complaint to the Gárda Síochána, automatically, if he can prove that the hours laid down have been exceeded, a charge can be made against the owner of the vehicle. Failing a complaint by an employee where is there a check in the section on the actual number of hours worked? I was reading to-day evidence that was tendered before a British Tribunal dealing with this matter. The Minister is after admitting that he has copied the working hours from a British Act. According to the evidence before the British Tribunal the Act there is so loosely worded that it has been possible for employers to impose intolerable conditions on employees so far as working hours are concerned. If an employee makes a complaint and a prosecution follows I know what would happen to him shortly afterwards, if the employer was convicted.
What does the Deputy suggest?
Is the Gárda Síochána to bolster up a trade union?
I am not going to accept the Deputy's view on that. Naturally the Deputy would like to evade the issue involved in an amendment of this kind. I suggest that if the Minister wishes the section to be effective there must be some arrangement for a log book which could be produced when asked for by the Gárda Síochána or by any one administering the Act.
I do not know if Deputy Davin can reconcile his view of this amendment with what his Party proposes in the next Bill which deals not with the carriage of passengers but with the carriage of merchandise. As far as I can make out under this Bill an employee can drive for 5½ hours, they stop for half an hour's rest and go on again for another 5½ hours. That is the limitation put upon him in the 24 hours, a half an hour's rest during each period. But he can be made to work 77 hours in the week. That is the situation with regard to the carriage of passengers in public service vehicles. In the other Bill to which we are coming, Deputy Norton wants to have an amendment inserted providing that the maximum hours of work by persons employed in the carriage of merchandise shall not be in excess of 44 hours a week.
The Deputy is confusing the two things. This section has nothing to do with the maximum hours a week. It has to do with the maximum number of hours worked in 24 in the interests of public safety. The Deputy is only trying to cause a little confusion. The fact is that this section has relation only to one consideration—the public safety. The Road Transport Act of 1922 and 1923 was designed to give effect to certain general principles affecting employment in this country. That is entirely different to what is under consideration here. May I remind the Deputy that an attempt was made to introduce a section similar to this, prescribing the maximum number of hours per week in the Road Traffic Bill introduced by his Government and that he strongly opposed it? He wanted no limitation.
I have not declared my attitude yet on the merits of the rest of this Bill. I want Deputy Davin to reconcile the two things—a 77-hour week being possible as far as this section is concerned. I did not go further than that.
As far as the Traffic Law is concerned.
In the next Bill which deals with merchandise Deputy Norton desires to have a maximum of 44 hours a week. How does he reconcile the two?
The Deputy was listening on the Second Reading to the principle of the Bill and under a certain section when considering applications for licences, the Minister must consider the condition of the workers employed by carriers. A question was put to the Minister from these Benches and he indicated the lines of the proposed Bill, which are the lines in this section. It was then understood that the matter would come up for consideration long before the Transport Bill. Everyone admits that Deputy McGilligan can make good debating points but anyone who understands the Bill knows that he is misrepresenting the position of the employees, as laid down in the Road Traffic Bill. All I am concerned about is that the Minister should ensure that it is possible to detect any owners of vehicles who may be abusing the conditions laid down in the section. How can they be detected if they force employees to work hours other than those laid down? They can only be detected by an employee making a complaint, and if the owner is convicted, and the employee loses his position, I want to have some method devised under this section so that the responsibility should not be laid on the employee who made the charge.
The Minister knows perfectly well what would happen to any employee who would make a charge against his employer. I want some system to be devised to deal with this. I want an assurance from the Minister that something in the nature of a log-book, or some other scheme of the kind, will be devised which will enable the people responsible for administering this Act to detect those owners who are trying to evade its provisions.
That suggestion might be practicable in relation to a limited number of operators, such as bus owners and so on, but this section relates not alone to those but to everybody in the country who is employed in the driving of a car, whether a private or a commercial car. Obviously, it would be quite impossible to arrange for a log-book in all these cases. As I have said, it might be possible to devise some such system in relation to omnibuses, licensed bus services, or public service vehicles generally; but I do not think that it would be practicable in relation to every single commercial or private car in the county for which there is an employed driver. Undoubtedly, the position is that action could not be taken under this section except the information came to the Guards in some way. That information need not necessarily come from an employee. As we all know, such information sometimes comes from an employee who has been dismissed and who has a grievance against his employer. In addition to that, there are other means, obviously, by which information can also come. For instance, an investigation into an accident might reveal the fact that the driver charged with responsibility for the accident had been working for an excessive period, in which case, his employer would become liable to a penalty under this section. In such cases, and many others, information might come to the Guards that this section had been contravened and, following on that information, action would be taken. Apart from that, I do not think that there are any practicable means of devising a system. We might devise one to cover those who get licences under the Bill now before the Dáil. In relation to this particular section, however, I think that the enforcement of it must be left to the ordinary course of things as in the case of every other section in the Bill.
One could not fail to notice that when the Minister said that it is impossible to devise a scheme to cover this matter, Deputy McGilligan said "Hear, hear." Deputy McGilligan made that comment when the Minister said that it was impossible to devise any scheme to detect owners of vehicles who might be inclined to ignore the provisions of this section. With regard to what the Minister has said as to the impossibility of devising such a scheme, I suggest that the very same argument would apply in the case of the licensed traders of the country in so far as there is no proper inspection on Sundays or during the various prohibited hours in a week all over the country. Obviously, it is impossible for the Guards in every case to go into the houses of licensed traders during all the prohibited hours, whether during the prohibited hours on Sundays or any other part of the day or week. But in ordinary business concerns there is some record kept of the time worked by the employees. Take the case of the factories coming under the Trade Boards Act. The Minister has some way of finding out what are the hours of work in these factories if a complaint is made to him.
—A complaint made by whom?
Surely, it is not beyond the bounds of possibility for the Minister, with all the resources of his Department to help him and with all the advice which is at his disposal, to find some ways and means of having this Bill administered in the interests of the employees.
I will admit that my arguments were weakened, perhaps, by the remarks of Deputy McGilligan, but they have not been necessarily invalidated.
What I want to emphasise is that in this section now before the House, this democratic House is asked to give recognition to a possible 77 hour working week.
No. This has nothing whatever to do do with the number of hours per week.
I say that it is possible under the terms of this section for a man to have to work 77 hours per week.
This section has only to do with the number of hours which a driver may drive having regard to the public safety. If under some other Bill the drivers of omnibus or road vehicles are confined to ten hours— well, I suppose it would have to be 11 hours—it would not conflict with this. That is an entirely different proposition. What would be regarded as proper working conditions have nothing to do with this Bill. This is simply a Road Traffic Bill, and its aim is the public safety merely. The object of this section is to prescribe a certain number of hours per day for driving consistent with the public safety, and it is to prescribe the number of hours per day that this section is concerned with. No question of the number of hours per week arises.
There are a number of employers who keep their men out for many hours. They can be seen by anybody around O'Connell Bridge at all hours.
If the Deputy knows of the case of any small bus owner who is working his men for 77 hours a week and paying small wages, I suggest that the Deputy should not keep that information to himself. If the Deputy will give me that information, I can assure him that the owner will lose his licence.
I say that this section gives power to sanction a 77 hour week. I have been asked by my colleagues of every Party affiliation to press this point home. Eight hours is what is asked for instead of the 11 hours named in the Bill. I have already stated that the Corporation were satisfied that the Minister might go a long way to meet them, but not far enough. I can satisfy the Minister that there are employers who do work their men for 77 hours a week.
Yes. I had complaints to that effect from men themselves— conductors who are working at a wage of 30/- a week from early morning to late at night, until they almost collapsed. I asked these men to put it in writing. They did not do so, but I will make it my business to find out the names of these employers who are working these men and who will avail of this Act to work the 77 hours.
The first condition of an omnibus licence being given is that reasonable hours are worked and satisfactory rates of wages paid. When all these licences came up for renewal on 31st October last year we publicly notified, in the Press and otherwise, that anybody who had any reason to object to the renewal of licences on the ground that that first condition was not observed, could do so. We did get objections and in each case, as soon as the objections came to the Department, we were able to force the owners to improve the workers' hours and to increase the rate of wages. I have received no complaint since then, but if there is the possibility of making a complaint on that ground and if the information is supplied to my Department, then it will lead to the result I have stated. There is adequate machinery for dealing with that, but all that has nothing whatever to do with this Bill which only prescribes the maximum hours per day that may be worked by persons driving all sorts of cars.
Would there be any administrative difficulty in the way of having periodical surprise tests carried out as to the number of hours worked particularly by people employed in the carrying trade? I know one fairly large lorry owner operating in my constituency who pays his men a minimum wage of £1 a week with commission on the tonnage carried. The result is that his workers are influenced to work unduly long hours. They have to do so to earn a reasonable weekly wage.
So far as lorries are concerned we have no power at the moment to deal with them, but when we get our road transport legislation through we shall then have in relation to persons operating merchandise road services the same powers that we now have in relation to omnibus services. All that, however, has nothing whatever to do with this particular section. What is prescribed here is the maximum driving hours per day. That is done in the interests of public safety. The working conditions that should operate on an omnibus or a merchandise service will arise on the other measure.
Would the Minister consider the question of devising some additional wording for this section so as to make it effective in law?
I think Deputy Davin ought to be encouraged to let the House know a little more about this method of test that he in some vague way envisages. The Deputy talked about a log book system. I applaud the Minister's answer to that, that it is impossible to administer it: that it would be very complicated and cause an awful amount of expense and trouble.
The Deputy does not want it.
I am not concerned with it, looking at it impartially. I do not see how it could be administered. The Deputy now proposes a surprise test, but how is this test to be carried out? A surprise test means that an inspector authorised for the purpose pays a surprise visit and asks somebody—is it to be the employee?—what number of hours he has been on duty. I presume that is what the Deputy means.
Ask for the production of the log book.
The Deputy is back again to the log book system, but that has already been ruled out. The Minister said that it would be too cumbersome, that you could not impose it on every employer, and that it would be troublesome and expensive. The only other thing then is to ask the employee and Deputy Davin has already answered himself on that. He said that the employee could not answer because if he did so he is going to be victimised. Therefore, the Deputy himself has set up an insuperable obstacle to any method of inspection, because if employers are going to be heartless enough, as he suggests, to get rid of employees who give information, they are certainly going to be heartless enough to do that if they make log book entries of unreasonable hours worked. The Deputy cannot have it both ways.
There are three trade unions catering for workers engaged in road transport. I can assure Deputy Davin that they are very active organisations. At any time anything comes to their notice in which it is possible for the Department to interfere in support of their contention I have deputations coming to me, one from each union, generally within twenty-four hours of the complaint being made. The Deputy can rely that the trade unions will ensure that adequate information will be supplied if anything occurs that warrants a complaint being made.
I am aware there are some people who will be concerned in the proper administration of this section and they are not in any trade union at all. I know of one employer in my constituency and when his employee joined a union he was immediately dismissed.
The Minister has denied that under the section a man could be employed for over seventy-seven hours a week.
He cannot deny that.
Would the Minister not admit that under the section as drafted a bus owner would be entitled to infer that his men could work seventy-seven hours a week and that there was nothing to prevent that?
There are the conditions of the licence.
But they are not laid down.
I understand the Minister has laid it down that, for the purposes of paragraph (b) of sub-section (1) of the section, so long as a man is in charge of a lorry he shall be deemed for the purposes of the section to be driving the lorry. I want to put this case to the Minister. Supposing a merchant has a man driving a lorry and the man is sent out to deliver stuff here and there through the country, are the intervals during which he is engaged unloading the stuff—these may extend to half an hour or forty-five minutes in a particular place—to be considered part of the time during which the man is driving the lorry?
If the man is not free to take rest and refreshment, yes. If he is free to take rest and refreshment, no.
But suppose the man is driving on the road and has a breakdown?
That is provided for.
The Minister has not satisfied many members of the House on the point that has been raised by Deputy Byrne. I want to know from the Minister if the meaning of sub-section (1) is this, that an employer may keep an employee engaged on seven days a week for eleven hours per day.
I have already explained that six times, and I am not going to do it a seventh time.
I am not going to say anything about this seventy-seven hours a week that has caused so much discussion. I believe it is too ridiculons, and at any rate I am certain the trade unions will look after that. Having regard to the strain imposed on men driving these road transport vehicles is the Minister satisfied that with a short interval, say, of half an hour for lunch they are competent or that it is safe in the public interest, to drive for an eleven-hour period? Take the case of men driving these heavy vehicles from Dublin to Limerick. Is the Minister satisfied that a man would be competent to carry on at the wheel for eleven hours with the little break that is provided for in the section? I suggest to the Minister that he should define the period that must elapse between the two working periods of five-and-a-half hours each.
We have fixed eleven hours as the maximum total of all the periods that a man may work in twenty-four hours. That is the utmost limit. If a man was driving for more than eleven hours he would be a danger to the public. Some men might be a danger after driving 10½ hours, while others like Deputy MacDermot might go on for twelve hours.
He could have his 11½ hours.
No, not more than 11 out of 24.
It is possible to have 11 hours instead of 11½ out of the 24.
Yes. It might be necessary, in certain circumstances in a particular trade, that a man might make that journey in a day. It has nothing to do with the hours he works per week. He might work 11 hours one day and none the next and none the next and 11 hours the next day. It is the maximum. As the law stands at present, he might drive 24 hours; there is nothing against it. The idea here is to try and get a period which is reasonable, having regard to the convenience of particular trades, and, also, to public safety. We are considering the matter and, it seems to us, that the periods specified in the British Act seem suitable. We are following that idea as the period was fixed following a very exhaustive inquiry. They all arrived at the same conclusion that 11 hours should be the period. I am prepared to adopt that as the maximum. A man may drive 11 hours who is not fit to drive any more.
Could not the Minister stipulate that the interval ought not to be less than an hour?
I am prepared to consider that.
I think it would be a great improvement to the Bill if the Minister would consider a separate section for buses. I think the weakness of the whole section is to try to cover too many different sets of things. The Minister must insist on the real principle that ought to be considered, that is when a vehicle becomes a danger to the public. It is particularly wrong in principle to tell a man, at one kind of work, say a man driving a lorry delivering goods, that after a time he becomes a danger to the public if he works the same number of hours that a man driving a bus does. If there was a separate section for bus drivers I think we might get a section —one that would satisfy all parts of the House.
We have powers at present under the Transport Bill. These powers are general powers and I explained the manner in which they were administered. We tried to get each licensee to give the same conditions of work and wages which a good employer would do. We were trying that and gave licences generally for a period of three months. Then we got an inspector to procure the information required as to the wages paid and hours worked. Once that was established we began to cut off at the bottom. We were assisted by the trade unions, who laid objections on the ground that the hours of work were too long and the wages too low. In each case where that happened notice of objection was sent to the licensee, and conditions and wages were improved, so as to bring them up to the general level. This worked very satisfactorily, indeed, and I do not think that in relation to the omnibus service there is any complaint at the moment. There may be particular instances that I cannot call to mind, but, as far as I am aware, the trade unions expressed themselves satisfied in relation to the omnibus services at the moment. If they were satisfied that the position was not satisfactory, and if any particular licensee tried to increase the hours of work, or decrease the standard of remuneration to the extent that would draw forth a protest in that direction, we would consider the protest in relation to our information as to the general conditions, and, if we considered the protest justified, we would give notice to withdraw the licence if the conditions were not improved. So in relation to omnibuses we have powers, not all set out here, but in another Act, to ensure what are reasonable and satisfactory conditions.
I understand that and I am not confusing that at all with when a driver of a vehicle is likely to become a danger to the public. My point is that a man driving a public bus will get tired very much quicker than a man doing ordinary work. I think there ought to be a separate section dealing with bus drivers and, likewise, chauffeurs, but to mix them all together is not satisfactory.
I want to try to return to the point at which I started. The Minister tried to fog the discussion by referring to the complete hold he has upon licensees. He has not explained so clearly that he has power to impose what he calls reasonable conditions. But while he has that power to introduce reasonable conditions, he now introduces a section to say that notwithstanding what he thinks reasonable a maximum 77 hours a week may be worked.
No. Why not calculate it per month or per year?
It would only be worse. Deputy Norton, on behalf of the Labour Party, gets a Bill dealing with passenger services to be carried on. He gets the hours reduced and then he finds a section whereby the Minister can attach reasonable conditions on the person getting the licence. He is not satisfied with that. He will have a new section saying the maximum number of hours shall not be more than forty-four in any one week. I would like to have that standard more definitely established.
It will be established with or without your consent.
Not at forty-four hours?
We now know where you stand.
I do not think the Deputy ever had any doubts on that. Why is that a reasonable condition that must attach both to the licences for passengers and goods services? They are almost identical. Deputy Norton wants an overriding condition. He wants forty-four hours maximum for goods and he is prepared to allow seventy-seven for passengers.
No, no. Wait until the division is over.
I want to know what is the Labour Party's view. Do they take their stand on forty-four hours in regard to the carriage of goods and what is their attitude in regard to the overriding provision of seventy-seven hours for passengers?
When this Bill was before the House in 1931 it was sought to insert a section similar to this amendment. Deputy McGilligan stood for twenty-four hours a day or 168 hours a week.
I give the Minister a month to produce a quotation from any statement of mine in support of that.
The Deputy stood for twenty-four hours a day.
I did not.
- Aiken, Frank.
- Bartley, Gerard.
- Beegan, Patrick.
- Boland, Gerald.
- Rourke, Daniel.
- Brady, Brian.
- Brady, Seán.
- Breathnach, Cormac.
- Briscoe, Robert.
- Browne, William Frazer.
- Carty, Frank.
- Concannon, Helena.
- Cooney, Eamonn.
- Corry, Martin John.
- Curran, Richard.
- Daly, Denis.
- Derrig, Thomas.
- De Valera, Eamon.
- Dillon, James M.
- Doherty, Hugh.
- Doherty, Joseph.
- Donnelly, Eamon.
- Dowdall, Thomas P.
- Fagan, Charles.
- Flynn, John.
- Flynn, Stephen.
- Fogarty, Andrew.
- Geoghegan, James.
- Gibbons, Seán.
- Good, John.
- Goulding, John.
- Hales, Thomas.
- Harris, Thomas.
- Haslett, Alexander.
- Sheridan, Michael.
- Smith, Patrick.
- Thrift, William Edward.
- Traynor, Oscar.
- Hayes, Seán.
- Houlihan, Patrick.
- Jordan, Stephen.
- Keely, Séamus P.
- Kehoe, Patrick.
- Kelly, James Patrick.
- Kelly, Thomas.
- Kent, William Rice.
- Killilea, Mark.
- Kilroy, Michael.
- Kissane, Eamonn.
- Lemass, Seán F.
- Little, Patrick John.
- Lynch, James B.
- MacDermot, Frank.
- McEllistrum, Thomas.
- MacEntee, Seán.
- McGovern, Patrick.
- Maguire, Ben.
- Maguire, Conor Alexander.
- Moane, Edward.
- Moore, Séamus.
- Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
- O'Briain, Donnchadha.
- O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
- O'Dowd, Patrick.
- O'Grady, Seán.
- O'Kelly, Sean Thomas.
- O'Reilly, Matthew.
- Pearse, Margaret Mary.
- Rice, Edward.
- Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
- Ryan, James.
- Ryan, Robert.
- Victory, James.
- Wall, Nicholas.
- Walsh, Richard.
- Ward, Francis C. (Dr.).
- Anthony, Richard.
- Belton, Patrick.
- Broderick, William Joseph.
- Byrne, Alfred.
- Corish, Richard.
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- Costello, John Aloysius.
- Davin, William.
- Davis, Michael.
- Dolan, James Nicholas.
- Esmonde, Osmond Grattan.
- Fitzgerald, Desmond.
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- Keyes, Michael.
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- McGilligan, Patrick.
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- Morrisroe, James.
- Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
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- Norton, William.
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- O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
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- Rice, Vincent.
I move amendment 66:—
In sub-section (3), line 48, to delete the words "or permits."
I think that the Minister ought to be satisfied with the word "causes." The addition of the two words "or permits" introduces a great deal of ambiguity into the working of the section and it will lead to all sorts of disputes between masters and men and as to the interpretation of the section. The Minister should be quite satisfied if an employer does actually cause his employee to work over hours.
The Deputy appreciates that that would make it almost impossible to get a clear case in any single instance. The section definitely makes it an offence for an employer to cause or permit an employee to work for more than 11 hours in the day and that responsibility is definitely placed on the employer because, otherwise, we would always have a conflict of evidence as between employer and employee in any case that might arise. It seems to me that, if the section is to have any value at all, these words "or permits" must remain in it and I think it is right that they should remain. It is, of course, desirable, in the first case, to ensure that there would be no possibility of misunderstanding as to the obligations and no possibility of a conviction falling through because of inability to prove what would otherwise be capable of proof under the section, but, in any case, I think that the employer of men engaged in any transport business should clearly understand that it is against the law for him to allow, much less to insist, on one of his employees driving a bus for more than 11 hours a day in view of the public safety being involved.
That is exactly why I urge the omission of the words. It will be practically impossible for an employer to prove that he did not permit. His only remedy will be dismissal and he will have to turn out his employee if he has done wrong. It will be nearly impossible for him to prove in court that the thing was not done with his permission.
I want the Deputy to keep in mind that the main consideration behind this Bill is the public safety and I want him to consider the section from the point of view of the person on the road whose life or health is being endangered by the fact that a person is driving a bus or lorry for more than eleven hours a day. It is not a matter entirely of the relations between employer and employee or the effect of the section on such relations. The main consideration must be the public safety and, as we make it illegal for an employer to require his employee to drive for more than eleven hours, it is illegal for an employee in fact to drive for more than eleven hours, and, consequently, it should be illegal for an employer to permit his employee seeing that he controls the vehicle, to work more than eleven hours.
That is an illustration of what I was saying a few minutes ago. The Minister is trying to make the same clause apply to different things altogether. The Minister has in mind one group to whom this section applies—the bus or lorry driver—and I am thinking solely of the chauffeur.
I am thinking of him, too.
In that case, it will be impossible for an employer to clear himself, if you leave these words in.
Would the Minister say, if an employer gives a general instruction to a driver that he was not to break the law in this respect, whether that would discharge the employer from liability or will it be held if, despite the employer's instructions, the man does break the law by driving for twelve hours or by not taking a rest in the middle of the day when he should take it that the employer permits that because he cannot prevent it? How can he? Take the man with a lorry in the country who sends a driver out to do eight hours' delivering of merchandise. He tells him "at one o'clock, you must stop driving until a quarter to two." It transpires that the man does not do so but stops only for a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes—part of his earnings may be commission and he wants to cover as much ground as he can— but, although the employer expressly warned him that he must not do so, is the employer still to be liable for something he cannot control and, no matter what he does, cannot control, beyond cautioning the employee not to do it?
The only argument I can advance against the Deputy is that, on the whole, our judges and justices are reasonable people.
I quite agree. If the Minister tells me that if an employer can prove to the satisfaction of the court that he expressly forbade it, that acquits him, I am quite content, but does the word "permit" mean that if the misdemeanour or irregularity has occurred, it places a liability on the employer from which he cannot escape by any explanation? What more can an employer do than say to a driver, "Do not do this." He cannot follow him.
In my opinion, it would be a good defence for the employer if he satisfied the court that the driver had exceeded the hours against his express orders.
I have the profoundest respect for the opinion of the Minister for Industry and Commerce on almost everything but, on points of law, I am afraid——
The Deputy asked for it.
What I want to ask the Minister is whether he has considered that question and consulted his legal advisers and, if he has not, will he do so?
Does Deputy Dillon know the existing law?
Deputy Dillon knows an extraordinary deal.
There is more in it than Deputy Dillon has said because express forbidding may not occur and yet the employer may not intend or, in fact, have permitted, the breach of the law which has taken place. Yet, it will be impossible for him to prove it. It may be said that he ought to have expressly forbidden but he could not expressly forbid such a thing on every occasion.
I will look into it and see if it is possible to get any phrase to convey the same idea.
Would it be possible to get the Committee Stage accepted as completed now and have these amendments that remain—there are very few —brought on on Report Stage?
It is after hours. There is a section that might be debated then.
Would the Minister say what business will be taken to-morrow?
We start with this Bill to-morrow and we hope to complete it to-morrow morning.
The Road (Transport) Bill will remain over until next week?
No. If the Road (Traffic) Bill is completed to-morrow, we will start on the Road (Transport) Bill until twelve o'clock when Private Members' time comes on.
The House adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until Friday, 24th March, at 10.30 a.m.