Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Driving Hours Control.

16.

asked the Minister for Labour if it is still proposed that the new regulations governing the use of tachograph control of driving hours, and so on, will become operative on 1st January, 1976 as announced.

Under the terms of the Accession Treaty the EEC regulations governing the use of tachographs, maximum daily driving hours, and so on, are applicable to Irish domestic transport as from 1st January, 1976.

However, as announced on 3rd October, 1975 the Government are seeking a deferment of the application of these regulations, following consultations with trade unions and employers, in so far as they affect Irish domestic transport, for a period of two years. The request for deferment is being pursued with the EEC authorities.

I understand that an announcement was made on the 1.30 News today concerning a further meeting in connection with this problem. Would the Minister not accept the urgency of this matter and that there is grave concern here among trade union members and employers generally who want to know where they will stand on 1st January which is now very near? Obviously, we have no opportunity of being in the position to implement this proposal on 1st January. Could we have any sort of assurance or at least a ray of hope that a postponement here is expected?

Much will depend on what actually takes place at the discussions now going on in Brussels. I do not think there is any great fear on the part of either employers or trade unionists because they are well aware of the situation and when we entered the EEC we agreed to accept the terms and conditions laid down. We feel that we would require further time and having consulted both trade unions and employers the matter is at present being discussed.

We are seeking a two-year postponement. Why did we not go about it at an earlier stage? Why did we not have the meetings that are being held this week and next week held long ago in order to have the situation clarified well in advance of 1st January?

Discussions have been taking place over quite a lengthy period. It was easy to accept what the EEC wanted us to do at any time if we said that we would operate from 1st January but we refused to accept and so far we have not made progress with the EEC on the matter. That is why the further discussion is taking place. It is easy to close the book on any of these things and say that we will agree with them. We do not agree with them and that is the reason for the further discussions. The matter has been discussed over a very long period.

If what the Minister says is correct it appears to me there could well be concern——

Question No. 17, please.

The unions and employers are well aware that the best possible case is being made and has been made and there is no need to panic about it because it can make no difference.

In view of the——

Sorry, we cannot remain unduly on any one question. There is a large number of questions on the Order Paper and I would be grateful for the co-operation of Members in making some appreciable progress.

All I wanted to know is if in view of that, does the Minister not realise now that these regulations cannot be implemented on 1st January? There is no way in which they will work on 1st January. Has this been conveyed to the EEC?

The Deputy may be assured that every possible aspect of the matter has been put to the EEC. They are well aware of the position in this country and in Britain also. We are attempting to get a last minute decision.

Let us hope the attempt will be successful.