Following the discussions on this Bill, by rejecting the amendments of Senator Wilson we have now given, practically, a complete monopoly to the railways and other transport companies in Saorstát Eireann. We have done that with our eyes open. We were under no delusion as to what we were giving the railway company. Before the Bill passes the final stage I would like to have an assurance from the Minister for Industry and Commerce that in view of the big monopoly that the companies have now got, he will see that we get a proper service and that rates are not unduly raised. I reluctantly supported this Bill, and opposed the amendments of Senator Wilson, on the ground that I thought it necessary to pass this measure in order to save the railways. We cannot do without the railways. Although it was inconsistent for me to do so, I supported this Bill because I always opposed the high rates charged by the railways all my life. I have, to a great extent, in conjunction with the cattle trade, encouraged transport companies to create opposition; and it may be said that it is very ungrateful on my part now to turn down those pioneers who helped to create that position and to reduce the rates. We had experience of transport companies before, when they had monopolies. During the war, when they raised their freights 200 per cent. and when the price of our produce fell 50 per cent., they still kept the same freight up to 1928 and 1929. In all that time we were agitating for a reduction of rates, and we were pointing out to the Government of the day that the farmers could not afford to pay the transport charges imposed on them by the railways and other transport companies. We then set about trying to create a little competition, and we succeeded in getting these people to come in as pioneers into the transport business. We have turned them down now, and I hope the railway companies, when buying them out, will treat them decently.
I have a great deal of experience of railway companies and there is a danger of their getting back to the attitude they adopted previous to the passing of the Principal Act. Recently the Great Northern Railway took over the Catherwood service which ran between Dublin and Belfast and which was a very efficient service. I was approached by people who had children coming to school in Dublin, and they complained to me that after the railway company had taken over the service they were not getting proper hours for their children. I interviewed the manager and pointed out to him that it was represented to me that the service was a half an hour too early in the morning and an hour too late in the evenings. I also pointed out that there had been an increase of between 15 and 25 per cent. in the fares. I then approached the Minister for Industry and Commerce and he asked me to write his Department. I did so. I mentioned in my letter that the only way I could suggest for securing a proper service was that we should move a motion in this House requesting the Minister to license another company in order to secure a proper service. That was the only thing that had effect upon the railway. We got a remedy so far as the hours were concerned, but the rates are still 15 to 25 per cent. higher than they were. If this continues I think the Minister should take steps to remedy the matter without leaving it to the Railway Tribunal. I have very little confidence in the Railway Tribunal. I say, from my experience of it, there is very little help to be got from it and it costs a lot of money if one has to come before it. For that reason I think we should have some assurance from the Minister that may prevent those increases in rates which I am afraid will occur otherwise.