Public Business. - Road Transport Bill, 1935—From the Seanad (Resumed).

I move that the Committee agree with the Seanad in the following amendment:—

New section. Before Section 5 a new section inserted as follows:—

5. —(1) Section 63 of the Principal Act is hereby amended in the following respects and shall be construed and have effect accordingly, that is to say:—

(a) by the substitution in clause (i) of paragraph (a) of the said section of the words "and was continuously employed (whether such employment commenced before or after the grant of such licence) whole-time, for a period of five years ending on the day preceding the critical date in the operation of the said vehicles, either by such licensee or by such licensee and his predecessor or predecessors in title to such business" for the words "and was so employed continuously for a period of five years ending on the day preceding the critical date" now contained in the said clause;

(b) by the substitution in paragraph (b) of the said section of the words "(whether such employment commenced before or after the grant of such licence) whole-time, in the operation of the said vehicles, either by such licensee or by such licensee and his predecessor or predecessors in title to such business" for the words "whole-time by such licensee in the operation of the vehicles used for the purposes of the business authorised by such licence to be carried on" now contained in the said paragraph;

(c) by the substitution in paragraph (c) of the said section of the words "either by such licensee or by such licensee and his predecessor or predecessors in title to such business" for the words "by such licensee" now contained in the said paragraph.

(2) This section shall have and be deemed to have had effect as from the passing of the Principal Act.

When this matter was mentioned here on Friday last, Deputy McGilligan raised some questions concerning possible interpretations that might be placed upon the section of the Principal Act which has been amended by this amendment. I have looked into the matter and I find that no representations have been made to us from any quarter that further amendment was required. I think it is unlikely that the very narrow interpretation which Deputy McGilligan suggested will be placed upon that section when it does come to be interpreted by the courts. The amendment which was inserted in the Seanad meets the only question that has been raised so far by those interested in the interpretation of the relevant section.

Is the Minister in a position to state that no case would arise such as was mentioned by Deputy McGilligan with regard to continuous service by men employed on particular vehicles?

No such case has arisen, and I am satisfied that the wording of the Act is such as to prevent its arising. I cannot say definitely that a judge will not put a particular interpretation on it but I think the interpretation that Deputy McGilligan suggested might be put on it, is most unlikely. In any event the practice of persons operating transport services has been to use the full service in the areas over which they are operating. It has never been the practice to use one set of vehicles for one service and only for that service. Consequently, even if the courts were to put the very narrow interpretation which Deputy McGilligan suggested on the section, such a case would hardly arise in practice.

Assuming that such an interpretation were put on it and that a person lost compensation by such a decision, is it the Minister's intention that that should be allowed to occur? Is he in a position to make another amendment of the Act to meet any case of that kind? I assume for the moment that no such case has arisen. If such a case as was suggested by Deputy McGilligan here the last day were likely to arise, what is the Minister's attitude with regard to that or is such a person to be disentitled to compensation? In other words, is the Bill exhaustive and is it the Minister's view that if such cases arise they can be dealt with under its existing provisions?

It is intended that any person employed in the operation of a transport service entirely, prior to the acquisition of the service, should be compensated, if not given alternative employment. If the rather peculiar interpretation which Deputy McGilligan suggested were placed on the section by the court we would have to consider an amendment of the law in that respect.

Does that also hold good with regard to any other technicality not covered by this particular amendment, which would preclude a person who had been employed in a service of this kind from getting compensation? There may be some other infirmity in the enactment that would preclude his getting compensation.

I could not give any indication that would bind every possible case that might arise, but the definite intention is to ensure that a person who has five years' employment in the operation of a service should get compensation, if not given other employment, when that service is acquired.

Question put and agreed to.