Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 15 Feb 1950

Vol. 119 No. 1

Transport Bill, 1949—Committee

Debate resumed on amendment No. 15.

I know that Deputy O'Sullivan has been waiting to say a word or two in regard to this particular matter. Perhaps I might be able to hold the fort until he arrives. The amendment reads as follows:

In sub-section (2), paragraph (i), line 44, after the word "insurance" to insert "or increased pensions". —(Deputies M. O'Sullivan and Davin.)

For reasons which were advanced on the previous occasion when we were discussing this Bill, it was felt by the proposer and seconder of this amendment that the section would be improved by the addition suggested in the amendment. I would suggest to the Minister that he should accept this particular amendment.

May I remind the House that on December 7th, when we last discussed this matter, I endeavoured to put the case of a number of clerical officers in Córas Iompair Éireann before the Minister—some 300 of them who retired prior to August, 1947, and who had received nothing in the form of compensation to meet the increased cost of living? They might be described as individuals who are alone in that particular respect because all other public servants such as civil servants, teachers, Gardaí, members of local authorities and so forth have had assistance to meet the steep rise in the cost of living. It is doubly hard in the case of these particular servants because, prior to August, 1947, these men were on wretchedly low salaries judged by any reasonable standard. So far as clerical work was concerned, they were agreed to have been on a very low level indeed. The Minister will agree, I am sure, that, in the case of any public servant who has to retire, he has to adjust his domestic circumstances immediately to less than half his income—and that is a difficult proposition even in normal times. But in the case of this particular section of the community, whose salaries were so low, their difficulty was naturally increased by the fact that there was such a serious increase in the cost of living—not alone was their immediate income decreased by half but it was still further decreased by the relative increase in the cost of living.

As I say there are only some 300 of these servants affected altogether and even allowing for the fact that the finances of the company are not in the state in which we would like them to be, nevertheless a reasonable easement of the position of these servants would by no means seriously upset the financial condition of the company at present. I understand they have made representations to the chairman and that he is sympathetic with the point of view put forward but apparently there is a desire to await certain events here. As I pointed out, I should be quite satisfied if the Minister were to express the opinion that he would like to see this matter approached in a sympathetic manner and if he would go further and say that, in fact, there is liberty under the present powers of the board, or in the powers that are now about to be conferred on it, to enable that examination to take place. I think the Minister will agree that it is undesirable that a small section of public servants should be left in this rather pitiable position, and it is pitiable in the extreme so far as a large number of them are concerned. Because of their small salaries, they were never in a position to meet the steep rise in the cost of living. I do appeal to the Minister to give some indication here that would, shall I say, be a helpful guidance so far as the present board is concerned.

I could not accept the amendment. I have a good deal of sympathy with the point of view put forward by the Deputy but, as the Deputy is aware, there is a great variety of pension schemes involved in this matter. To accept the amendment would open the question far too widely. I am prepared to ask the company to examine the matter and to submit proposals to me on it. If that would satisfy the Deputy I would certainly be prepared to do that but, I could not accept the amendment as it is.

Do I understand the Minister to say that he would ask the company to consider the matter as it is now, rather than await the passage of this Bill? If that is so it will certainly satisfy me.

The Deputy appreciates, and probably knows better than I do, that this is a very complex matter. We do not know how many are involved—the various grades, the different pension rates, etc. We have no idea of what it would cost. What I propose is to ask the company to have the matter examined and, arising out of the examination, to make proposals to me in regard to it.

Would you say to examine it sympathetically?

I said I had a good deal of sympathy with the case which the Deputy made.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 12 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 13 stand part of the Bill."

I am opposing the section on the ground that I think it is unnecessary. The section proposes to give power to the Minister to confer on the board by Order powers additional to those laid down in Section 12. The Minister may by such Order provide for incidental and supplementary provisions which he considers to be necessary or expedient. Again the Minister may revoke or amend any such Order. Then there is a provision in which it is stated that any such Order made must be made with the consent of the Minister for Finance. There is a further provision that that Order will not come into operation until it is confirmed by resolution of each House.

There are safeguards there.

Yes, there appear to be safeguards but in effect there is not the safeguard that should be there. I take it that in drafting Section 12, the Minister made provision for every possible power that he thought this company should have. Undoubtedly the powers contained in Section 12 are very extensive and very wide. In addition to that, other powers are vested in the board by this Bill. In other words they are given all the powers that Córas Iompair Éireann was given and all the powers of the Canal Company. They are vested under the Act itself with the very widest powers. If Section 13 were confined to conferring powers incidental or supplementary to those granted in the Act, something could be said for it, but this board can only operate under express powers provided by Parliament. I feel that it is unwise for Parliament to agree to any restriction of its own powers such as is contained here in Section 13.

There is a general tendency in every Government Department, no matter what Bill is concerned, to include a section such as this. If we followed that procedure consistently, after a while this House would simply become a place for either approving or disapproving of Orders made by a Minister. I think that is unwise. I should like the Minister to indicate what circumstances in his opinion justify this section. As I have said in the case of other Bills, if there was no such section as this, if the board felt that it required additional powers and if the Minister thought the board was right in looking for these additional powers, an amending Bill would be introduced. That amending Bill would have to go through all the usual stages in this House and in the Seanad and would have to receive its final sanction in the signature of the President. This section curtails that particular procedure.

I feel that we are unwise if we agree to any such weakening of the powers of this House. At some future date the board may feel that they require some particular power. Then the Minister agrees they should have that power and makes an Order which comes before this House and before the Seanad for approval or disapproval. It will be subject to one division in each House, subject to one argument; it cannot be amended; it must be approved or approval must be refused, but there is no power that I know of in the House to insert an amendment to an Order so made by the Minister. On general principles, therefore, I am opposed to the provision of this power. In particular, I am opposed to it when the draftsmen of the Minister and the board have gone to all the trouble of providing in this Bill for every power that they believe can or should be exercised in future.

I would ask the Minister, therefore, first and foremost, to indicate what kind of powers he thinks might be dealt with under this section. I will go further, then, and ask him, on general principles—it will have to be faced up to sometime by this House—to withdraw the section, or at least that part of it which gives him authority to confer additional powers to those given by statute on the board which this Bill proposes to set up.

I do not know of any other subject that has received more attention in this House for the last five or six years than the very question to which attention has been drawn now by Deputy Peadar Cowan, that is, the question of Ministerial Order after Bills have been passed by this House. I can always recollect an occasion here where, when my mind was immature at the time on such matters, my fears were very carefully set at rest by no less a person than Deputy Lemass, who informed us that it was an absolute impossibility to draft any measure that would, so to speak, remain absolute and complete for all time, that unless there was a certain element of freedom, what might be described as day-to-day freedom, in a matter such as that of the Bill we are dealing with now, it would be absolutely impossible to have satisfactory legislation.

Our grievances, and the grievances of the House all the time, have been about the fact that, where the Minister has attempted to take such powers, he did not allow the House some overriding consideration, to deal with those powers in the form in which this Bill under Section 4 now allows the House, where an Order can be tabled and the necessary steps taken to debate the subject in the House on the question of being for or against them.

I gather that Deputy Cowan's main objection is that, although that safeguard is allowed here in the section, it would not be possible for him to move an amendment at that stage. However, if that particular stage were reached—that is, the question of discussion of a Ministerial Order—and if it were a case where it was in conflict with the opinion of some members, it strikes me that the point to be reached then would be as to whether the Order made by the Minister was a good Order or a bad Order, whether desirable or otherwise, and the answer of the House should be either yes or no. From my experience here, I think the section as drawn is in line with legislation of a kind to which we have given general agreement; and so long as there is a safeguard in the Bill—which has not been given to us sometimes— which gives the House an opportunity to deal with the points here, I think we have sufficient safeguards.

Deputy Cowan is not right when he says that under Section 12 we have all the powers which the company requires or may require. One of the difficulties was that, if you set out to make Section 12 so all-embracing that it would give the power to meet any contingency, it would be open to the still greater objection, from my point of view, of having the powers far too wide altogether. There is nothing whatever sinister about this Section 13. It is there not merely because we feel that it may be necessary but I might almost say because we know it will be necessary.

It may be necessary for certain very worthwhile developments by the company, which Section 12 or Section 24 would not empower them to embark on. Of course, there is the safeguard there, as Deputy O'Sullivan has pointed out, that no Order made under Section 13 by the Minister can come into force unless and until it is confirmed by Resolution of both Houses. I want to put a case in point to the House—and I do not want anyone to draw any hasty or wrong conclusions from this. Suppose the company tomorrow decided that it was desirable for them to enter into the production, transport and distribution of, say, ground limestone, Section 12 would not empower them to do that. Or if the company decided, as I think they did contemplate at one time, to engage in the manufacture of certain engineering products for sale, I do not think the powers conferred on them, outside this power which I am proposing in Section 13, would enable them to do that. Certain developments may take place —I hope they will take place—regarding certain other transport systems in the country and again it may be necessary to have power to deal with them.

I think Deputies, looking at this in a realistic way, will agree that, while it might be ideal every time you want additional power to come to the Dáil with a piece of legislation for that power and for that alone, it would not be very practicable. I think that this is a desirable and necessary section and I do not see that there could be any objection whatever to it, particularly in view of the safeguard which is given in sub-section (4) of the section.

Personally, I see no objection at all to a section of this kind if it is designed to give the Minister power to make minor adjustments in the Bill after it has become an Act and as the need arises but I could see objection if the power could be used to implement major changes of policy and I would regard it as a major change of policy for the company, now that it has become a State organisation, operating with the aid of subsidy, to go into business in competition with private firms.

But even then I should think that the power of annulment which the section proposes would be adequate because it would be annulment rather than amendment that the Dáil would seek.

No. Perhaps I had better make that clear. When I talked, for instance, about the company deciding to manufacture, say, engineering products for sale, what I had in mind was engineering products or implements of a type not made in this country or not likely to be made which, apart altogether from the point of view of the company, from the national point of view, it might be desirable to manufacture.

Tanks for the Army?

I hope something more useful. I would prefer to see ploughs and tractors.

Nobody else will make them anyway.

I hope they will make something more up to date than tanks.

Hydrogen bombs?

By the time you get to that stage, there will be a new letter of the alphabet.

I have watched this development over a long number of years and I am driven reluctantly to this conclusion, that all the sections of that type that are going into Bills are not Ministerial sections but civil servants' sections.

The Minister is responsible, remember.

He is possibly suggesting evil influence.

They are civil servants' sections which, when they are drafted, the Minister feels he must stand over and support. If they were not put in by the draftsman, there would be no obligation to support them. I have watched that development over a period of 25 years. We even had it a couple of months ago in a Courts of Justice Bill in which was proposed— and in fact this House carried and gave to the Minister—power to change the quality of offences. No parliamentarian would or should support that particular step. It is a strange thing that if we look back 50 or 60 years ago, we see Acts of Parliament, drafted by parliamentarians, which contained no such power and which were effective for their purpose. The whole tendency now is to draw a Bill as carelessly as you like and to insert in it this section which gives the Minister power to make regulations. I agree with Deputy Lemass. If that power is a power to make minor regulations for the purpose of making the thing go, well and good, but this section goes further than that. Why have we Section 12 in the Bill at all? Why go to the trouble of prescribing all the powers that we as a Parliament give to this new company, when, in the next section, we say the Minister can make an Order giving additional powers to the board? I am quite sure that draftsmen in future, instead of putting in Section 12, will simply say that the board shall have such powers as the Minister, by regulation, may give them and those powers will come into effect if approved by a Vote of each House.

Would the Deputy prefer to give the company unlimited powers?

No. When we set up a company of this kind, the powers we give them must be particular powers, must be limited and prescribed for the functions they have to carry out and, if it is found in the working of the company subsequently that the powers they have been given are insufficient, the Minister could bring in a Bill and say to the House: "I suggest that these additional powers should be given." There has never been any trouble in doing that. The House will examine it through the whole machinery of a Bill as laid down in the Standing Orders and will give such powers to the company as the House thinks the company should have.

There are examples—admittedly there is not the same protection as is given in sub-section (4) of this section —where powers have been given to a Minister to make regulations and two days after the regulation was issued that regulation had to be amended and in another two days it had to be further amended, with the result that one could never find one's way through the maze of regulations that were made under statutory powers such as these. I may be wrong in this but this is the first Bill, as far as I know, in which the specific powers which Parliament proposes to give are set out and the Bill then proposes to give the Minister power to give the undertaking or company such additional powers as he thinks they should have.

I can do nothing more than protest against it, as I have done in regard to other Bills. I will do it every time I see it in legislation. I do it now. It is the duty of draftsmen drafting an Act of Parliament to provide for every possible contingency within the Act itself. This is not a question, as Deputy Martin O'Sullivan says, of day to day administration. There will be no objection to the Minister having power to make regulations within the specific powers given by this Bill. That is what I call day to day administration. But, to give the Minister power to make a major change of policy—because that is what this section gives him power to do —is in my view entirely wrong.

If the section were limited to giving the Minister power to make regulations, such incidental and supplementary provisions as are necessary and expedient for giving effect to the powers contained here, I could follow it, but this is not a question of day to day administration. It is a question of this House surrendering to the Minister a power which it ought to hold to itself, that is, the power to give by statute such authority or powers as an undertaking such as this requires, and, when additional powers become necessary, to give these also by statute. If Deputy Lemass had put a section such as this—I do not know whether he did or not—into his Transport Act, it is quite possible that the Minister might have been able to draw up a new Order, present it to the House and say: "That is what I want. Give it to me, yes or no." You may talk as long as you like about it, but in the end it is the votes that will count.

Do not tempt him. Look at how long this Bill has taken in Committee.

Is that not the point —whether it is a Bill or an Order, in the end?

It is the votes that count.

Reason counts on the Committee Stage. I have never seen it counting in the matter of the approval or disapproval of an Order. I am probably going a little too far when I say that I have never seen it happen, but it is not essential to have any reason.

You were not here when it did happen.

That is probably the way to put it. Reason may count in relation to the amendment. The Minister may hear an argument advanced and he may be impressed by that argument. No matter what argument is advanced when discussing an Order, the Order has to be approved or disapproved. What may we have? I am quite sure that, when the Minister presented this Bill to the House in its original state, he believed he was presenting a Bill which had got the finest and fullest possible consideration, a Bill which was the last word.

That does not arise on the section.

We will not raise it on it.

The Deputy seems tempted to do so. Let him not yield to temptation.

Now, however, we have a sheaf of Ministerial amendments to the Bill.

That is because I listened to reason. You cannot have it both ways.

It proves my point that when we have a Committee Stage, when we have time to discuss the principles and time for consideration, we are likely to get the most successful Bill.

I doubt it.

You are not likely to get very satisfactory working if, on every occasion on which a Bill comes before the House, we have thrown into it a section like this. We are developing along these lines; it will stop some time, but scarcely in the lifetime of this Parliament.

We were all very glad to learn from the Minister some time ago that conversations had been taking place, and presumably are still going on, between people on this side of the Border and people on the other side.

Under Section 13?

I will relate this to Section 13, if you will allow me, Sir. These conversations were in regard to the possibility of establishing an all-Ireland transport system.

I think the Deputy will find it very difficult to relate this to Section 13.

I hope, like everybody in the House, that these conversations will come to a satisfactory conclusion.

That is not relevant to the section.

I want to know whether the powers in sub-section (1) of Section 13 would mean that in a case of that kind any agreement arrived at would be confirmed by the issue of an Order, as stated in the sub-section. If so, I certainly would not like to see the sub-section used for that purpose, because I think that any such agreement would be bound to mean the reconstruction of the board provided for in the Bill and of the whole financial machinery in the Bill.

The Deputy is trying to discuss a prospective agreement. It is not in order.

It should not be so used.

The Deputy is trying to discuss a prospective agreement on a section to which it does not relate.

With all respect, Sir, you are trying to anticipate what I am about to say.

The Deputy said so much that was out of order that it is no wonder I did.

Question put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 16:—

In sub-section (1), lines 23 and 24, to delete the words "or secure or promote the provision of".

I have always disliked in our legislation sections of this kind which appear to express a pious wish but which otherwise have no very particular significance. We have here a section which proposes to impose on the board certain duties which, however, are not to constitute in any way a legal obligation on the board. I hope that in my time I succeeded in avoiding this type of section in legislation whenever possible. Certainly the section in the Transport Act of 1944 which most closely corresponds to this, that which defined the purposes of Córas Iompair Éireann, was a model of simplicity in comparison with what appears here. Section 10 of the 1944 Act said:

"The purposes of the company shall be

(I) to operate transport services, and

(II) to carry on ancillary services

It stopped at that. Because of my dislike of this type of section, I read it with very deep suspicion. On reading it, I was immediately struck by the inclusion of the words which, in my amendment, I propose should be deleted. This sub-section proposes to define the general duties of the new board to be established and I note that it states that the general duties of the board shall be not merely to provide transport services but to secure or promote the provision of transport. I do not know why these words should be there. I am quite certain that no member of the Dáil would like to contemplate giving to the board power to farm out its obligation to provide transport services to some other company not operating under statute and over whose aims and purposes we have no control. I cannot see the circumstances under which it is necessary to give the board the duty to secure or promote the provision by somebody else of transport services. It seems to me that the declared purpose of the Bill and the known purpose of all the Deputies in the Dáil who have spoken to the Bill is adequately met if the words are deleted and that the duties of the board shall be to provide transport services. We will have something else to say concerning other parts of the sub-section but I would like the Minister to accept this amendment, or alternatively, to justify a refusal by explaining the necessity for the inclusion of these words.

The Deputy need have no suspicions and need not have worried. It is very clear that there is no question of "farming out" in the sense the Duty used the words. If the Deputy read the Milne Report carefully he might recollect that one of its suggestions was that it might be found very desirable to enter into an agreement with small local hauliers in certain areas to do certain haulage work there. That is just one of things we had in mind and I cannot see anything objectionable in that.

I am not quite clear about it. The company makes contracts at the moment with private lorry owners.

Yes, with ordinary licensed hauliers.

When the company makes a contract with a private lorry owner that private lorry owner is acting as part of the company's organisation and under the company's licence and general powers. If the Minister contemplates that in some parts of the country its obligations to provide transport facilities will be met more directly by Córas Iompair Éireann by entrusting that responsibility to a private individual or a private firm I would be very hesitant about agreeing with that. Certainly the Dáil should have an opportunity of considering that as a policy if it is likely to be operated on any scale.

It is not likely to be operated on any scale, but it could quite easily arise if the development and reintegration of transport in this country that we hope for takes place, that it would be desirable to do it. It might not be on a big scale but surely we should have the power to do it. There is no question of the company trying to avoid its own obligations because its obligations are pinned on them in the Bill.

We give the company the powers.

We are placing obligations on them.

We are giving them powers and duties, duties which they need not fulfil and which the company could ignore without penalty. We are indicating what we want the company to provide, that is, transport services within the area of its jurisdiction and it is undesirable that we should imply that we would be satisfied if they were to comply with that duty by contracting with private firms.

We do not want at the same time to exclude them under any circumstances from entering into an agreement. The main obligation of the company is to provide efficient and, as far as possible, economic services for the country and that is covered in more than one section. There is nothing significant in this at all and the Deputy knows that as well as I do. There could be no conceivable objection to it. May I say that there is nothing peculiar in this and I am advised that the wording in the Six Counties Act is exactly the same as it is here.

That explains why it is here.

Not necessarily, but it does not mean either that because it is in the Six Counties Act it is wrong to have it here.

Unfortunately, that is the whole tenor of the wording of Acts. Somebody puts it into an Act in Northern Ireland or Great Britain and therefore we must put it in here. Section 12 provides in sub-section (3) that the company has power—

"to enter into and carry out agreements or arrangements with any person carrying on business as a carrier of passengers or merchandise, providing for the carriage of passengers or merchandise, by or on behalf of the Board and that other person under one contract or at a through charge or in the vehicles or containers, whether belonging to the Board or not."

That is a particular power given to the company to enter into that kind of agreement. It is in Section 12 and we have already passed it. We come to Section 14 which is headed "General Duties of the Board" and undoubtedly the general duties of the board should be to provide an efficient, economic, convenient and properly integrated system of public transport. Their general duties should not be the securing or promoting the provision of transport.

It struck me, when the objection was made at first, as being what is known as "journalese". I thought it was just the usual form in which an official document was written and that these words were put in for some particular purpose, but I hear now from the Minister that the words are in the Northern Ireland Act and maybe in the British Act and that therefore we put them in here. If the board has the power in a particular way to do this why should we put it in the general duties of the board? I think there is substance in the objection made by Deputy Lemass to these words. There is no necessity for them so far as the general duties of the board are concerned and the section would be much better if they were out of it.

It seems to me that paragraph (f) in Section 12 is what is referred to but there is a distinct difference between the two sections. Sub-section (1) of Section 14 does give power to the board to make agreements with persons to carry passangers or merchandise by or on behalf of the board. That power is very definitely limited and is merely the provision of a means of transport but in paragraph (f) of Section 12, sub-section (2), power is given—

"to make working agreements or arrangements for the provision by any person of transport services which the board is required or authorised to provide, or for the provision by the board of any transport services which any other person has power to provide."

The only point which arises is that I cannot see the force of the opposition to the present phraseology in sub section (1) of Section 14, when in fact, we have passed the previous section. If there is an objection on principle to giving power to "farm out", as Deputy Lemass says, any responsibility, there is good grounds for limiting the phrasing of sub-section (1) of Section 14 and placing sole and complete responsibility on the board to provide the means of transport itself with out a third party. But we have already passed a clause which gives unlimited powers to the board to make any farming out" arrangements it likes. I am not clear that there should be an objection on principle to that. I do not see how we are going to protect ourselves against objectionable "farming out" by trying to amend Section 14 when we have already opened the gates wide in Section 12. I thought at first that Deputy Lemass was merely trying to tighten up the wording of Section 14. But, as he developed his argument, he seemed not to be tightening up the wording, but depriving himself of the only basis on which there is any legitimate objection to this. That objection is taken away once we have already given to the board the power set out in the two paragraphs of Section 12 to which I referred.

I do not want to enter into a useless discussion on this, but I should point out that, while I raise no objection at all to the board being given power to make working agreements, I am questioning the wisdom of setting out here as a general duty of the board the making of such agreements. So far as this section is concerned, it makes no difference to the powers of the board whether it is in the Bill or out of it. It is so much "blah" so far as the real provisions of the Bill are concerned. But it does represent, I take it, an attempt to put into words what the wish of the Dáil is.

You would not put bad thoughts into the minds of the board?

We are trying to put good thoughts into their minds. I intend to limit this to something clear and definite. What we want them to do is to try to provide efficient transport services. We are giving power to them to make certain agreements with other transport operators or to acquire them. That is all right. But if we are going to have a section of this kind, let us make it clear. Their job is to provide a cheap and efficient transport. I take it, however, that this does not make much difference.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 17:—

In sub-section (1), after the word "operation" in line 27, to insert the words "the encouragement of national economic development, the maintenance of reasonable conditions of employment for its employees and its financial obligations under this Act".

This affects the same sub-section but it is perhaps more important, because, as we go on to read the wording of sub-section (1) we find it set out that it is the general duty of the board to provide an efficient transport service with due regard to the safety of operation. That is a paraphrase of the section. If we are going to give the board a general indication of the manner in which we expect them to operate, it seems to me rather strange that we should omit from that indication a reference to important aspects of policy which undoubtedly will concern the Dáil from time to time. That is why I propose to insert in the Bill, not merely this reference to safety of operation but also words which are intended to make it a general duty of the board to have regard also in the provision of transport services to the encouragement of national economic development, the maintenance of reasonable conditions of employment for their employees and their financial obligations under the Act. May I say that as regards the last of these three matters, the financial obligations of the board under the Act, the Minister appeared to meet it by his amendment No. 18, but then he subsequently confused me by informing the Dáil that the Government had decided to meet operating losses by subsidies from the Exchequer, which appeared to be moving in the opposite direction altogether.

If it should be necessary.

It is going to be necessary.

I am afraid so.

The Minister apparently wishes to have in the Bill a section of this kind. I think it would be a better Bill without it. But, if we are going to have a section of this kind, a sort of general instruction given to the board as to how to use their powers under the Bill, then what aims are we to set before them? The provision of transport services with due regard to public safety—that is important. But our main reason for setting up a State transport organisation and for advancing to that State organisation capital funds from the Exchequer, the only possible justification for the proposal to subsidise this annually out of voted moneys, is that it is serving aims that we think are important. It is an important aim to give the organisation to assist in the economic development of the country. We know that the efficiency of a transport organisation can have quite important repercussions upon economic development. Do we regard it as more important that the new board should have regard to considerations of economic development rather than to considerations of financial economy? Are we to say to them: "You are to have only these two purposes in view, public safety and your financial obligations under the Act?" Should we not say also: "You are to keep in mind the tremendous amount of good or bad work which you can do by the manner in which you operate your transport services in relation to economic development"? Should we not put it upon them, as expressing the general desire of the Dáil, that they should also have regard to the maintenance of reasonable conditions of employment for their employees? Certainly, if we are going to give any directions at all, if we are going to ask them to take into account, in the fulfilment of their duty, to provide transport services any particular aspect of that problem, will not the omission of reference to the promotion of economic development, the maintenance of reasonable conditions of employment and so forth be regarded as significant?

I recognise and the Dáil must recognise that the board can read that section and forget about it. So far as the section itself is concerned, it provides no sanctions if the board decides to forget about it. The only ultimate remedy there would be against the board would be exercisable through the Minister and involve the removal and substitution of its members. But, if the board is expected to reproduce it on a placard and stick it up on the wall of the board room in order to keep the members of the board in mind of their duties, then we should express their duties in a more comprehensive form and say that, in addition to public safety, we require them to keep these three things in mind—I deliberately put them in what I think is the order of their importance—the promotion of national economic development, which to a very large extent will be in their hands; the maintenance of reasonable conditions of employment for their employees, which is their direct responsibility; and their financial obligations under the Act, which are undoubtedly the concern of the Minister for Finance and the taxpayers.

One could think of other considerations that the board could keep in mind in the exercise of their duties. Counting the question of public safety, these are the four primary considerations which the board should never be allowed to forget in the direction of their undertaking. Therefore, if we are going to have a section of this kind at all, we should stress all four of them and not leave it to be assumed that they will be taken for granted by the members appointed by the Minister.

I think Deputies are inclined to forget that this company, when this Bill becomes law, will cease to be a private company; that it will be a national company appointed by a national Government to carry out the national policy.

Deputy Lemass's argument might have some basis if we were continuing under the old system, but in view of what is proposed in this Bill, the setting up of a new national transport concern, I think we need not have any fears so far as the carrying out of national economic development is concerned. May I suggest to the Deputy that if he takes Section 14 (1) together with amendment No. 18, which I propose later to move, he will find that it sets out the duty of the board:

"It shall be the duty of the board ...to provide... an efficient, economical, convenient and properly integrated system of public transport for passengers and merchandise by rail, road and water with due regard to safety of operation and for that purpose it shall be the duty of the board to improve in such manner as it considers necessary transport facilities so as to provide for the needs of the public, agriculture, commerce and industry."

I am proposing in amendment No. 18 to insert a new sub-section which sets out that it shall be the duty of the board to conduct its undertaking so as to secure that the revenue of the board shall not be less than sufficient to meet the charges properly chargeable to revenue.

I do not see any great objection to putting in what Deputy Lemass has in his amendment, but I think it is entirely unnecessary. I have no objection to it, but I do not think it is required either in relation to national economic development or the conditions of employment and wages or salaries. All that is adequately provided for; it is already protected and I do not think there is any necessity to put it into the Bill in this way.

I must ask Deputies to remember that we ought not completely to hogtie the board we are going to set up. Deputies say they want to give the board every chance to operate efficiently and economically and give an effective transport service. Probably what I am now saying will not have much force in relation to the amendment that is before the House, but we are in a number of ways, some of them rather small, niggledy ways and others major and more difficult ways, making it difficult if not impossible for whatever board is established to carry out the obligations we are putting on them. I do not think the Deputy ought to press the amendment, but at the same time I have not any great objection to it. I do not think it can do any great harm.

I do not think the section is required, but it would be improved by this amendment.

The section definitely is required.

If the Minister has no objection to the amendment, I hope he will accept it, not because of Deputy Lemass's speech, but because of the Minister's own speech. He convinced me that the amendment should be inserted. Nobody desires to hamstring the board, but there are certain matters that do obtain a character of importance and an order of priority. We are not dealing with the establishment of this board in, as it were, a vacuum. We have had experience of other boards and of the difficulty of trying to get them to state their various duties in a proper order.

I would not be so concerned with the acceptance of the amendment if I had not already read the terms of amendment No. 18 to be moved later by the Minister. From that amendment it would appear that the overriding requirement placed on the board is a requirement in relation to its revenue and its ability to meet the charges properly chargeable to revenue. Is that to be an overriding duty, or is it to be placed in its proper sequence? Nobody will dispute that if we are setting up a national transport board its major function will be to provide an efficient, economical, convenient and properly integrated system of transport, with due regard to the safety of the public. That is one duty they cannot be relieved from, one we cannot fail to set down once we define their duties. Clearly, if we are to define their duties and we define their primary duty to be the provision of transport, we cannot expect that that should be carried out without any regard to the effect it might have upon the national economy.

Deputy Lemass stresses the importance of encouraging national economic development, and then we come to the question of the maintenance of conditions of employment and its financial obligations under the Act. I have had a peculiar nervousness during the discussions on this Bill—I raised the matter on the Second Stage—as to what is the primary obligation placed on the board to pay interest on its stock or to provide fair and reasonable conditions of employment for its workers. I would like to get that clarified, and I think it is something on the lines of Deputy Lemass's amendment. If that amendment is accepted and if, subsequently, we accept amendment No. 18 we are, it seems to me, weakening the position, but at the same time we are making some attempt to define the relative importance of the several duties placed on the board.

I do not think anybody on these benches expects that the primary duty of the board to provide an efficient economical and safe transport is to be sacrificed purely for the purpose of giving more than fair conditions to the employees. Nobody expects the under taking to become the privileged refuge of the workers. We have had experience on other occasions, dealing with semi-State and State boards, of being bluntly and callously told that they were business undertakings and they had no particular obligations to the staff—that their first obligation was to carry out a certain job and their second obligation, to meet the interest payments on money advanced. I do not want that repeated in regard to this board.

It is all very well to say it will be a national board operating in consonance with national policy. With all respect to Deputy Cowan, it is not so easy to get questions in, with the crowded business of the House, and we have to depend on representations made to boards of this character. It is very easy for a board of this character to say that their primary function is to provide transport and pay interest charges. As I say, if the Minister has no strong objection to Deputy Lemass's amendment, I think it would case the fears held by many of us if he will accept that amendment because of the general implications involved and because it does set down for the board not merely the general duties imposed upon them but the relative order of importance of those duties in the estimation of this House.

I am glad that Deputy Larkin has spoken in the way he did upon this amendment. I think we must all be grateful to Deputy Lemass for placing the amendment on the Order Paper in the first instance. The Minister has told us that we must realise that this is a national transport undertaking and that the board is appointed by the Government. The inference to be drawn from that is that the board will act in accordance with the general principles of the Government. Of course that is not true because the board will be appointed to operate and carry out its duties under this Act and, if it does carry out its duties under the Act, then there is no power in the Government to remove that particular board. There is power to remove from office a member of the board, but the Minister would be in a very weak position if he came to this House and said he wanted to remove this particular member from the board because he was carrying out the general duties laid down in the Bill but was not following the general policy of the Government. I do not think that could happen. I feel it is vital, therefore, that these general powers should be provided and if the board subsequently fails to carry out these additional duties laid down in this amendment, then that will be a cause for the removal of a member of the board. A national transport undertaking of this kind must have regard to national economic development in the same way as it must have regard to the needs of agriculture, industry, commerce and the needs of the general public. The Minister has said that he has no great objection to the insertion of these words. I take it that, in view of what has been said on both sides of the House, he will accept the amendment. I am satisfied because of what has been said by Deputy Lemass, by the Minister and by Deputy Larkin that it is vital that these duties should be included in the general duties of the board.

I omitted what is the strongest argument of all in favour of this amendment. My excuse for doing so is the two months' hiatus in the consideration of the Bill in Committee. The time lag made me forget some of the later amendments which appear on the Order Paper in the name of the Minister. The Minister proposes to establish a tribunal which will exercise certain functions in relation to the charges made by the board and in relation to the operation of services. The board will not be able to increase charges or to reduce services without the sanction of the tribunal and the Minister proposes that the tribunal, in the exercise of their functions, shall have regard amongst other matters to Section 14. If, therefore, not merely the members of the Córas Iompair Éireann Board but the tribunal that will have these special powers is to have regard to the duties of the board as defined in Section 14, then I think it is more than desirable to extend the definition of its duties in the manner I suggest.

The Minister may be able to ensure that he will select members of the board who will be conscious of their powers and obligations in relation to the matters to which I have referred. But when we clearly place upon the tribunal a legal obligation to exercise certain defined functions in relation to the duties of the board as defined here, then we must be much more careful in ensuring the exact definition of these duties. I think that is a strong argument in favour of the addition I make to the section.

I could also cut the other way. I have no strong objection to it. I take it that as far as members on both sides of the House are concerned in the establishment of this new national transport undertaking, there could be no disagreement that that undertaking should operate in conformity with national requirements and national development, whether it be industrial or agricultural. I take it it would be the wish of all that a national undertaking of this kind would conform to reasonable working conditions and to reasonable wages and salaries. There can be no great point about that. I do not think there is any issue on that. As far as I am concerned there is no issue. I do not think there is any inconsistency in making the principal and main obligation of the company the provision for the public of a first-class and efficient transport service compatible with economy. However, we can argue that. I do not agree with Deputy Larkin that in order to give effect to what I propose in amendment No. 18, one can only do so by sacrificing the workers. The Deputy must agree that there are other ways in which it can be done.

I am speaking from experience.

I hope those days are passing, if they have not already passed. In principle I am prepared to accept this amendment. It may require redrafting.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 18:

To insert before sub-section (2) the following new sub-section:—

(2) It shall be the duty of the board so to conduct its undertaking as to secure, as soon as may be, that, taking one year with another, the revenue of the board shall be not less than sufficient to meet the charges properly chargeable to revenue.

I do not think I need say anything on this amendment. It is clear on the face of it what it means.

It is clear on the face of it what it means, but it leaves certain aspects of the Minister's policy in relation to transport anything but clear. As the Bill was introduced, we saw it as a scheme for the establishment of a State board which would be obliged to relate its services to its revenue and which would be given rather drastic powers to curtail services and to alter fares and charges without reference to any authority other than itself. Following upon the Second Reading debate and the views expressed by Deputies during that debate, the Minister proposed to alter his Bill by taking back from the board these drastic powers of curtailing services and altering charges which he originally intended they should have. He now asks the Dáil to agree instead to the establishment of a transport tribunal to which the Córas Iompair Éireann Board must go for authority when it proposes to alter fares or cut services and the tribunal must have, in the exercise of the function conferred upon it, regard to the provisions of Section 14, as amended by the Minister.

At a still later stage the Minister made it known to the Dáil, on the occasion of the Supplementary Estimate debate, that the Government contemplated that any loss incurred by the company in any year, any financial consequence of a failure on its part to keep its cost below its revenue, would be offset by an Exchequer subsidy. I do not think the Minister can hope to make effective an injunction of the kind indicated in this amendment while the prospect of a subsidy, if they fail to do so, is held out before the company. I think the Minister cannot hope to follow two diverging lines of policy. Under the 1944 Act it was contemplated that Córas Iompair Éireann would pay its way. Certainly it was intended that the company should operate upon the basis that it was expected to pay its way. There was no provision for subsidy and, in introducing the Bill to the Dáil, I made it quite as clear as words could make it that there would be no subsidy; that I was strongly opposed to the principle of transport subsidies and that, if circumstances arose in which transport was not able to pay its way, some remedy other than an appeal to the Exchequer would have to be found for that situation. If the Minister had proceeded on these lines it would be understandable.

You might have doubts as to the practicability of that policy in present circumstances but it was a possible line to follow. That is the line which would necessitate such an amendment as is now proposed. When it is made known to the Dáil and to the people directing Córas Iompair Éireann that the prospect of subsidy is there—that, to any extent they fail in any year to make their revenue equal their costs, the taxpayer will meet the difference—then this injunction loses its power altogether. If we are to follow the line of subsidy, we should forget this aspect of the business and let the question of the extent to which transport is to be subsidised by the Exchequer be settled in accordance with public policy and, with the intention of providing the type of transport service which we think the country needs, leave it to the board managing the undertaking to avoid waste, to secure efficiency in that sense but not feeling under any obligation to stop necessary developments or to impose uneconomic economies merely to avoid expenditure which, in other circumstances, would be considered desirable.

My difficulty in this matter is that, having read the Milne Report carefully and having come to the conclusion from the facts set out there that it is impossible for this undertaking to break level, that on the most favourable assumptions made by Sir James Milne a loss of some £500,000 a year is certain, I think we are driven to the conclusion that until transport is completely reorganised some such help from the Exchequer will be necessary. The only means by which I can visualise transport being put upon an economic basis, in a position to earn from its fares and charges enough to pay its way, involves far heavier capital expenditure on the reorganisation and re-equipment of the undertaking than I know the Government is prepared to contemplate. On the basis of limiting its capital development, on the basis of imposing upon it this new idea of a tribunal, in relation to all the known facts, it is clear that it is an unreal proposal to ask the company to conduct its business so as to provide the interest and sinking fund charges on its capital. It cannot do it. There is no use in pretending it can do it. The company, knowing that if they do not do it, the Exchequer will make good any loss they incur, cannot even be expected seriously to try to achieve that operation. I have no objection to making it clear to the board that even though there is going to be a subsidy there must be no wasteful expenditure, no overlapping of services; that there is no retention of equipment long after it has exhausted its utility; that there is no retention of services which are completely uneconomic merely because of possible public agitation if they are withdrawn; that we expect them to approach their task in managing this undertaking as businessmen, but telling them that our main concern is a proper transport service which will serve public convenience and which will provide reasonable conditions of employment for its staff and workers and that we regard these aims as more important than the narrow financial one indicated here.

My trouble in discussing this amendment is that I am not quite clear yet upon which of the diverging roads the Minister would like to travel. I know he cannot travel both of them simultaneously. He has said much but I do not know which is his preference and which he is forced along by pressure from different quarters.

Let the Deputy tell me his preference.

It will involve capital expenditure of more than the £17,000,000 the Minister objects to.

The Deputy seems to object to all three. Is that not so? He is objecting to all three.

On some more relevant occasion, I shall elaborate my ideas. I know they would shock the Government in their economy policy.

I have some fears, in regard to the operation of this particular sub-section, resting under two heads. My first fear is in relation to the service which the concern should give to agriculture as the outstanding industry of this country. It is the experience, the world over, that where there are State railways special concessions are given to the agricultural community in respect of certain agricultural products and in respect of certain agricultural requirements. This company is proposed to be a State company. In view of the obligations which are placed on it in the preceding sections, I take it that one of these main intentions will have to be to ensure that agriculture will get all the attention it will need so far as State railways are concerned. To bring that to its logical conclusion, it will be necessary at certain stages to give concessions so far as freight rates are concerned to agricultural products and to agricultural requirements. There may be a danger, unless the Minister can convince me to the contrary in his argument, in that the board may regard this particular amendment as their overriding obligation to ensure that their accounts will balance at the end of the year. That is the first point that strikes me in connection with this particular amendment—that the board may not be as free as we think they should be to encourage agriculture by suitable rates so far as its products and requirements are concerned.

My second point is—and especially from our point of view on these benches—the particular change that would arise out of this directive to the board; that the staffs of the company might be one of the first to suffer to fulfil the requirements of this particular sub-section. I say that, based on a long experience. Every member of the House knows that, in certain institutions of this character governed or administered by a board, if, at the end of the financial year—I have seen it occur particularly around Christmas —they found the accounts were likely to show a loss, the first consideration was the dismissal of men.

That cannot happen here.

If the Minister can convince me, I should like to be satisfied under these two headings, as to the necessity for the inclusion of this amendment. On the other hand it is true, as Deputy Lemass said a moment ago, that you cannot give a blank cheque to the directors of any concern. There might be a danger that they would take it for granted that they could run as many trains as they liked with fares just to suit themselves and incidentally to run the concern into trouble. I think a reasonable obligation should be imposed on them but not of the watertight character which seems to be implied in this amendment.

I should like the Minister to explain what this amendment precisely means. The wording is rather novel: "It shall be the duty of the board so to conduct its undertaking as to secure, as soon as may be, that, taking one year with another, the revenue of the board shall be not less than sufficient to meet the charges properly chargeable to revenue." It is very hard to know what exactly that means. It does not mean that the charges will be kept down. Does it mean that the revenue will be brought up? The Minister said in putting this amendment before the House that it was perfectly clear. I cannot, I must say, follow it. I do not think it means anything. It may mean everything that Deputy O'Sullivan has said and it may not mean anything at all. If the Minister would indicate what exactly it does mean, then I might have a few words to say on it.

It would not occur to the Deputy that it might mean that they were supposed to try and pay their way?

Is that what it means?

That is what it is intended to mean.

One year with another over the next century.

I should like the Minister to make some effort to explain it.

Deputy Cowan is not quite as simple as he would have us believe.

Taking this amendment as it stands, and assuming that it is intended to mean what the words imply, I should like to say that I wholeheartedly support it. I think we ought to make up our minds very definitely that transport should pay its way and that transport ought not in ordinary circumstances be subsidised. A case might be made for subsidising production inasmuch as if a State subsidy has the effect of increasing the volume of production it justifies itself because the increase in the volume of production pays for the amount of the subsidy but I cannot see any conceivable case from any point of view for subsidising transport as a general national, permanent policy.

Questions were raised by some Deputies in regard to the necessity for giving cheaper transport for agriculture. I am, of course, naturally desirous that everything possible should be done to promote and assist the development of agriculture but I think there are other and more direct ways of promoting the development of agriculture than by providing transport for agricultural produce at less than what it costs or by subsidising transport out of the national revenue. I think the House ought to make it clear beyond all question that we expect this State undertaking to pay its way at the earliest possible date.

The policy enshrined in this amendment has to our knowledge, and to the knowledge of Deputy Lemass and of the present Minister, been operated in two different ways during the last 15 or 20 years. At one stage in the history of the railways which are now operated under this company called Córas Iompair Éireann, when they found themselves in financial difficulties, they sent for the union leaders. Deputy Lemass was in office at that time and although I dare say he did his best to let them down as lightly as he could, they balanced their budget at that period by insisting upon a 5 to 10 per cent. cut in wages.

That was before my time.

As well, they got rid of what they themselves described as redundant staff. At another period, not too long ago, when they found themselves in further difficulties under the 1944 Act they put up their rates by 20 per cent.

That was only in 1947.

In 1947 they put up the rates on the railways and they cut down the bus rates and they got rid of staff at the same time. In any case these are two different ways of carrying out the kind of policy—I may be wrong and the Minister will correct me if I am—that it is intended that the board should operate under this amendment. I objected to this all-round increase of 20 per cent. in railway charges in order to help the board of directors to balance their budget. I think it is quite unfair that in an agricultural country such as this—and I hope Deputy Cogan will agree with me— that there should be an all-round increase in rates—the same increase in the rates for the raw materials of agriculture as there is in the rates for the transport of luxury articles which are not commonly used by the plain people of the country. In other countries, as pointed out by Deputy O'Sullivan where the railways are controlled by the State authorities—New Zealand and Australia in particular and Britain to a certain extent in recent years—specially low rates are provided for the transport of the raw materials of the agricultural industry. I think that should operate here, but I may point out particularly to Deputy Lemass—who will not contradict me— that the policy enshrined in this amendment has been operated in two conflicting ways in order to balance the railway budget at two periods in the history of his association with the Department of Industry and Commerce.

Whilst appreciating the Minister's suggestion about balancing their budget, I would like to point out that at one period the railway company gave concessions in regard to rates for agricultural produce and for transport facilities operating in certain areas but they changed all that and deprived people in our county and in other southern counties of a concession that they had been accustomed to over a period of years. For a certain number of years, as Deputy O'Sullivan pointed out, in the transport of seed potatoes and other agricultural produce the railway company allowed a flat rate. Subsequently, they withdrew that concession. We would like to see some safeguard there. If there is a concession granted, we would like to see some provision whereby the board could not economise at the expense of the agricultural community, as they have done heretofore.

Furthermore, we can prove that at a later period the railway company had a deliberate plan to cut out, exclude and close down branch lines. They established zones of transport, diverting the regular railway traffic to the roads, and in that way at the end of the year they were able to show that those branch lines were uneconomic. I can prove, and so can other Deputies from my county and from other parts of the country, that that was a planned arrangement by Córas Iompair Éireann headquarters. They established zones of transport, diverting regular rail traffic to those zones; and the conveyance of goods to remote parts of the country and to areas of the country adjacent to the railways was diverted, which doubled the cost on the consumers and on the general public and at the same time misrepresented the position with regard to branch lines. We do not want that kind of thing to happen again.

I made this point before, when the Bill was being introduced. I welcomed the Minister's efforts, but I pointed out the possibility of giving too much power to a board that could do as they have done heretofore in the name of economy and could make it appear that it is best for the countryside to close down these branch lines. Consequently, I would like some safeguard from the Minister in that regard.

I wonder if it would meet Deputy Davin or Deputy Flynn if we had just in the Bill: "The company shall not economise".

Not at the expense of human beings.

I would like to point out that there is a lot of talk to the effect that no one is going to be redundant under Córas Iompair Éireann, but for the past few months tradesmen and labourers have been cut off in Cork at Glanmire terminus. It may be said that they were not permanent, but they have given five and ten years' service. There is no use in saying there will not be redundancy if they are cut off for economy reasons when they have given five or ten years' service.

I have endeavoured to get the Minister to explain this section to me and I think, with all due respect to the Minister and to whoever drafted this section, that it is absolute nonsense. You start off, as the Minister says, with a board of men that the Minister or the Government think suitable men to do a good job of work. If that is so, clearly they will endeavour to make the concern run as best they can. Now, this amendment visualises, as far as I can see, that the taxpayer will be paying through the nose or otherwise for Córas Iompair Éireann for a number of years, so to a large extent this section is a pious aspiration. How can the board make revenue "meet the charges that are properly chargeable to revenue", if competition which is harming them, which is depriving them of essential revenue, is permitted? If people are going to travel otherwise than by Córas Iompair Éireann, if goods are to be transferred from one part of the country to another otherwise than by Córas Iompair Éireann, how is Córas Iompair Éireann going to make revenue balance the charges properly chargeable to revenue?

I dealt with this aspect on the Second Reading of the Bill, and I think the Minister must, in this Bill, face up to it. What is he going to do with the private lorries that are running in competition with Córas Iompair Éireann? If that competitive transport is not under some sort of control, then it is clear that it is only a pious aspiration to say that the board is to pay its way. I gather that this very cumbersome section means that the board is to conduct its undertaking so as to pay its way. That is what the Minister suggests it means. It says "taking one year with another"—in other words, we are committed this year to a substantial subsidy, as the board cannot pay its way. Next year, the Minister will expect that the subsidy be somewhat less, and so on; so that in a period of ten, 20 or 30 years this company may pay its way. Now, I understand that it is impossible for the company to pay its way while this competition exists. I think the Minister could get advice on that from Córas Iompair Éireann themselves. Does the present Chairman of Córas Iompair Éireann think the company can pay its way while that competition is permitted?

I understand that, for some reason or another, in the past Córas Iompair Éireann lost very valuable contracts. Deputy Cogan has mentioned charges. Apparently, the increase in charges does not help. I understand that some time ago they increased their charges for parcels and the result was that that traffic was transferred to the Post Office and carried by Córas Iompair Éireann free—in other words, it was carried within the contract that Córas Iompair Éireann had with the Post Office. That is to say, they threw away that source of revenue.

I understand that, down south in Cork, the delivery of the products of bacon factories was carried out by Córas Iompair Éireann until they lost that trade and their competitors now have fleets of 50 or 60 lorries carrying what Córas Iompair Éireann was carrying. I understand that certain organisations in their peak period employ private lorries to do work that should be done by Córas Iompair Éireann. I understand that that is absolutely contrary to the law, that the law is not operating. I understand that many of these concerns carry passengers at a charge to Dublin and back again.

To football matches?

This is not in regard to football matches. They are being carried day by day in lorries travelling from one part of the country to another and there is a fixed charge. Does the Minister seriously think that Córas Iompair Éireann can pay its way at any time within the foreseeable future if that situation is not dealt with? I would suggest that it would be much better to deal with that matter within this Bill and to give Córas Iompair Éireann the facilities and power to pay its way rather than to put into the Bill a pious aspiration such as is contained in the Minister's amendment.

This is a very simple amendment, notwithstanding all that Deputy Cowan has said about it. All it means is that the company shall so conduct its business that as soon as possible they will meet their working expenditure out of their revenue. I do not know whether the Deputy is satisfied with that or not. Deputy Davin, Deputy Martin O'Sullivan and some other Deputies have fears in regard to this. I do not know whether they were here when we were discussing the previous amendment or not. They fear that the company can pay its way or break even only by worsening conditions, by reducing wages or by dismissing staff. I think that is adequately safeguarded in the Bill. It seems to me that the attitude of the House, including Deputy Lemass, is that every single section which may use the railway or derive a living from its operation is to be safeguarded but that there is to be no regard to the cost of giving all those guarantees and safeguards and that it is all to come from the taxpayer. Deputy Lemass told us he does not like subsidies. He does not believe in them. As a matter of fact he detested them so much that he set his face completely against them in the 1944 Act. "No subsidy. You must pay your way." He was satisfied that it would pay its way. It did not pay its way.

That is a debatable point.

It did not pay its way.

It got no subsidies.

Notwithstanding the fact that as late as 1947 the Deputy, in his capacity as Minister for Industry and Commerce, gave them authority to increase their charges to an extent to enable them to earn an additional £1,000,000 in that year, in that period they lost on operation approximately another £1,000,000.

They paid their way.

They did not pay their way. They lost approximately £1,000,000, notwithstanding the fact that under an Order made by the Deputy they had increased charges to the tune of £1,000,000 in that year. They lost in the following year approximately £1,500,000. Will the Deputy tell me who was to pay that £2,500,000, where was it to be got, from whom was it to be got?

Is the Minister arguing for or against his amendment? It seems to me he is arguing against it.

I am simply exposing the Deputy's humbug and nonsense. The Deputy chides me here for facing facts. According to Deputy Lemass, it was not merely unwise, it was childish, it was foolish, for me ever even to whimper, to suggest, that if the new national transport company lost money the taxpayer would have to meet it. If the taxpayer does not pay the debt, will the Deputy tell me who will pay it?

The Minister is assuming that they will never be able to pay their way?

That is an answer to the Minister's question.

On the other hand, I am not blinding myself to the fact that they cannot possibly pay their way this year and that it is doubtful if they will pay their way next year. The Deputy himself has admitted here, even on this amendment, that after a very close study of the situation——

Of the Milne Report.

——including a close scrutiny of the Milne Report——

——he satisfied himself that it would be impossible for it to pay its way.

On the basis of the recommendations of the Milne Report.

What else?

Will the Deputy make himself intelligible?

What else except on the Milne Report?

The Deputy was depending entirely on his knowledge of national transport and Córas Iompair Éireann on what he read in the Milne Report.

He was depending on the Milne Report to know what Sir James Milne recommended.

The Deputy said he was satisfied that it could not pay its way.

On the Milne recommendations. It will not pay its way on this Bill.

It will if I can help it.

It will not. It cannot.

The Deputy and other Deputies are trying to make it as difficult as they possibly can for the company to pay its way. There are to be no increases in charges, if they can be possibly avoided—if the company can be prevented from increasing their charges. There is to be no——


There is to be no reduction in staff.

This all sounds like a speech made by the Minister before the general election.

That is a consistency one could never accuse the Deputy of.

No economies, no increases in charge, no reduction in staff —that is what you promised.

That is what I am performing.

You are getting sarcastic about it now.

That is the marked difference between the Deputy and myself: I am implementing the promises.

By increasing bus fares.

The Deputy knows nothing about it.

I know as much about it as the Minister.

The Deputy knows nothing about it. There are certain matters on which the Deputy is an expert—this is not one of them.

The Minister promised that there would be no increases in bus fares.

He promised decreases.

The Minister did not do one or the other.

He did, in this House.

The Deputy is not able to absorb or understand what is said in this House.

Do not always be trying to be funny.

It would not be any harm if the Deputy occasionally tried to be funny and did not take himself as seriously as he does, because I can assure him that nobody else takes him seriously.

And I do not take statements made by the Minister seriously.

I am very glad to hear it. I should not like the Deputy's sleep to be disturbed in any way.

I have just told you that men were put off in Cork.

Many more men than are now put off were put off before I came over here. The Deputy did not weep very much or make many protests to my predecessor about the men left off in Cork.

The Minister always talks of 1947 as if it was a normal year. Evidently he forgets what was happening in 1947.

The Deputy will never forget what happened in 1947 and still less what happened in 1948.

If we could forget both years and come down to the present, we might make some headway.

I was merely trying to provide a little comfort for the Deputy from Cork.

The Deputy from Cork is all right. He made you shift the turf out of the Park, anyway.

Did the Deputy say "turf"?

The Deputy is a more charitable man than I gave him credit for. Is the Deputy finished?

Like certain other people, he is finished.

He is finished interrupting.

Do Deputies object to a sub-section going into the Bill indicating to the company that it shall be their duty so to operate the concern as to earn sufficient revenue to meet their working expenses?

They cannot earn it.

If they cannot earn it, are they to reduce the working expenditure?

Not necessarily. There are other ways.

The Exchequer?

No; there are other ways still. The Deputy has sufficient knowledge, I believe, of good business to know that you do not put a good business on its feet by slashing wages and salaries.

My trouble is to know where the revenue will come from to pay the wages and salaries.

I am very glad to know that the Deputy is so concerned about the revenue, because up to this I thought he was concerned only with expenditure. I think the amendment is a very reasonable amendment and I am putting it to the House.

It would not do to finish on that particular note at this time of the night. I have asked the Minister one question which is worrying me: where will the board get the revenue to enable them to meet all the charges properly chargeable to revenue, if the competition which is now reducing that revenue is permitted to continue? The facts of the matter are that the people have provided a sum of about £4,000,000 substantially to meet deficiency in revenue. I think that is so. Last year, we had Córas Iompair Éireann in the position that, without the assistance of the Exchequer, it was unable to pay its weekly wage bills. Where is the change? That was the parlous condition of Córas Iompair Éireann last year. Where is the change this year? Is it fair to the new board to say: "We give you this duty. It is your duty as soon as may be to pay your way, but we are going to permit all the competition which has developed against Córas Iompair Éireann and which makes Córas Iompair Éireann uneconomic to continue in the future."

We had all that on the Second Stage.

On the Second Stage, we were dealing with principles.

And that was one of the matters discussed, I think, by the Deputy himself.

That is quite right. This it vitally relevant to the Minister's amendment.

It is a somewhat different Bill.

I think it is relevant to the Deputy's next amendment. That is what is worrying him. It would not help them to balance their budget.

That is not expenditure out of revenue; it is capital expenditure. We will deal with that to-morrow, however. What I want to know from the Minister is whether, apart entirely from this pious aspiration that the board will do its best, the Minister proposes to provide traffic that will enable Córas Iompair Éireann to pay its way and to meet all the charges that should be properly chargeable to revenue. If the Minister does not do that, the Exchequer must make up the deficiency, not this year or next year and not in diminishing but in increasing amounts until either the company or the State goes absolutely bankrupt. That is the problem I want the Minister to answer. Does he propose to do that, or is he merely putting that sub-section in the Bill for the purpose of saying to the board: "Do your best, and, if you do your best, we will make up the difference." That is what I am very definitely asking the Minister and I thought I put it as clearly as I could. Is he going to place restrictions on private hauliers who are running in competition with Córas Iompair Éireann? Is he going to tie up the misuse of lorries and other vehicles which carried passengers in competition with Córas Iompair Éireann? I want the Minister to realise that, unless he does that, there is no hope of Córas Iompair Éireann paying its way.

Amendment put and declared carried.

I move amendment No. 19:—

Before Section 15 to insert a new section as follows:—

15.—Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Act contained the board shall, within one year from the establishment date, complete the central omnibus station at Store Street, Dublin, and shall use the same as an omnibus station for long distance omnibuses travelling to and from Dublin City and shall provide therein suitable accommodation, including waiting rooms, refreshment rooms and amenities for passengers.

I was hoping that there might be a little longer discussion on the previous one because I would like to see all the forces assembled for the Vote on this particular amendment.

You are optimistic; you have to get at least five.

I will get more than five. This, as the Minister would describe it, is a simple amendment which provides for the insertion of a new section. I am sorry that the Minister has just left because I was going to ask him at this stage if he were prepared to accept that amendment.

I will answer for him.

I have been heartened by the reply given to-day to a question put by Deputy Lemass as to whether or not this building had been made over to the Department of Social Welfare. I was afraid that might have happened since the amendment was put down. However, it has not happened and the situation can be saved. The amendment which has been for a long time on the Order Paper must have given the Government and Córas Iompair Éireann an opportunity of reconsidering their unfortunate decision not to proceed with the completion of this bus station at Store Street. Certain Deputies are of the opinion that those Deputies who are taking a particular interest in this matter are concerned with it primarily because it is in their own constituency. Let me say at once that that undoubtedly is a consideration. I do not want to say that it is not a consideration, but the primary consideration is the provision as soon as may be of a suitable place where bus passengers coming to the city from all parts of the country and travelling to all parts of the country from Dublin may have a convenient place at which to rest while waiting for their bus, a convenient place where they may have a meal, a convenient place where they may leave small parcels and a convenient place where if needs be they may reserve their seats on the bus. Córas Iompair Éireann, realising the necessity for such a central bus station in Dublin, decided, after a considerable number of difficulties had been removed from their way, on building that bus station at Store Street, Dublin, and work proceeded on that building. I understand that as an example of mass concrete construction there is nothing to compare with it anywhere in Europe. I understand that this bus station has been admired by engineers from all parts of the world and that if it were completed it would have meant the provision of the most up-to-date accommodation in any place in Europe for long-distance bus travellers. Some people do not like the appearance of the building. It has been described as "a skyscraper" and many other descriptions have been applied to it, but, nevertheless, that particular building has gone a long way towards completion and were it not for the hold up it is quite possible that it would be ready for use now. It is not ready for use. It is lying there like a gazebo or some type of folly in the middle of the City of Dublin. While that situation is going on and while the Government and Córas Iompair Éireann have been taking decisions, the travelling public are subjected to impossible and scandalous conditions on the quays of Dublin. Whether they travel in winter or summer the conditions under which they have to assemble outside the Córas Iompair Éireann offices on Aston Quay are certainly a disgrace to the city, a disgrace to the country and a disgrace to Córas Iompair Éireann.

I have been unable yet to ascertain what is the objection to Store Street. I have heard many grounds for objection advanced but I have heard no precise grounds put forward by Córas Iompair Éireann for their refusal to proceed with this project. Perhaps in the course of the debate on this particular amendment the Minister may be in a position to indicate what precise objections Córas Iompair Éireann have to completing this bus station at Store Street.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again on Thursday, February 16th, 1950.