Written Answers. - Committee on Haulage Industry.

Conor Lenihan

Ceist:

190 Mr. C. Lenihan asked the Minister for Public Enterprise the terms of reference of the steering committee on the haulage industry established in 2000; when she expects its report and recommendations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27776/01]

Conor Lenihan

Ceist:

204 Mr. C. Lenihan asked the Minister for Public Enterprise the terms of reference of the steering committee on the haulage industry chaired by her; the composition of its membership; the progress it is making in its deliberations; when she expects the committee's report and recommendations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27782/01]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 190 and 204 together.

Last February I published a programme of action for the road haulage industry. This programme resulted from the work of a task force which was established by the Taoiseach to respond to the problems of the road haulage industry and builds on the recommendations of the report A Strategy for the Successful Development of the Irish Road Haulage Industry, published in 1999. The programme of action is designed to make a major contribution to the development of a vibrant road haulage sector which meets the highest professional and safety standards. It identifies a wide range of specific actions to be addressed by various State agencies and the road haulage industry that will increase the professionalisation of the sector and strengthen the enforcement of legislation applying to the road haulage industry.

A steering group, chaired by my Department, has been set up whose mandate is to ensure rapid implementation of the programme. The group comprises representatives from the Irish Road Haulage Association, the Revenue Commissioners, the Garda, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Department of Finance, the Department of Environment and Local Government, and other interests as appropriate. The work of the steering group was delayed by the foot-and-mouth disease threat in the earlier part of this year. Since this threat receded, the steering group has met on three occasions to address the specific action points set out in the programme of action. Work by the steering group to date has resulted in the establish ment of an enforcement forum which meets on a regular basis to monitor the effectiveness of the enforcement regime. The level of enforcement checks has been stepped up significantly. Agreement has been reached on a code of practice in relation to the prevention of covert passengers being carried in road haulage vehicles, with a view to combating illegal immigration. Measures are being taken to facilitate a significant increase in the number of transport officers and necessary support staff. Additional funding is being provided during 2001 to assist the Irish Road Haulage Association in fulfilling its role in developing the industry. Work is continuing to progress the other action points of the programme and the steering group will provide a progress report to the Government shortly.