Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - School Bus Scheme.


asked the Minister for Education if he has received the consultant's report on the working of the school bus scheme; if he will publish the report or make it available to Members of the Oireachtas; if he intends to change the present system; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Pending the receipt of the report in question I am unable to make any comment on its contents or give any firm promise regarding its publication.

When the report comes to hand at the very least it should be lodged in the Library of this House for the use of Members. Will the Parliamentary Secretary undertake to do that at least?

I do not like to give a promise I am not certain I can fulfil. I would not see any objection to doing what the Deputy has suggested but I should like to reserve my position pending receipt of the report in question. Obviously reading the report will guide me on where the report should be placed.

I am somewhat perplexed by the Parliamentary Secretary's reply. On what grounds would he foresee not putting a copy of the report in the Library for the use of Members?

That is a hypothetical question. The report in question was sought in October, 1976. It should have been available to the Department before March, 1977, but it has not yet been made available. Certain terms of reference were given. If the report in question turned out to be not in accord with the terms of reference and the stipulations made by my predecessor, then having regard to his position I should like to reserve my position on whether to make it public.

Will the Parliamentary Secretary explain why he is in favour of providing a free bus service but not free books for children in the same school?

I do not know on what grounds the Deputy has based that question. I do not like suggesting to him that he has not read the question being answered. I am doing no such thing. I am talking about a school transport system——

We cannot go back on previous questions. I will allow a last supplementary question. Deputy Collins.

If the consultant's report goes outside the terms of reference I take it the Parliamentary Secretary will not pay the consultant. However, if the report stays within the terms of reference, will the Parliamentary Secretary ensure that a copy of the report is placed in the Library for the use of Members?

That is a hypothetical question.

Consultants do not work that way. The consultant in question has been paid an amount of money. I do not see any reason why I should not publish the report and make it available to Deputies when it is received but I am reserving my position.

On what grounds has the consultant been paid for a report that has not yet been received and which is overdue?

The Deputy should have taken up that matter with my predecessor.

I am calling Question No. 17.


asked the Minister for Education if he is aware of complaints in relation to changes in the school bus scheme in many rural areas throughout the country which are causing hardship to many young school pupils; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The provisions of the free school transport scheme are such that there is frequent change affecting beneficiaries. The present position, however, is that there have been no changes in the criteria or regulations governing the scheme.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware of an increased level of complaints in relation to the school transport service since the commencement of the present school year?

I am not so aware.

The Deputy has not been on to me about it.

I am asking a parliamentary question about the matter.