Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 13 May 1986

Vol. 112 No. 9

Transport (Reorganisation of Córas Iompair Éireann) Bill, 1986: Second Stage (Resumed).

Question again proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time".

I was saying that the planners at that time made the right decision in the conditions facing them because the conditions existing then, as the Minister pointed out, had changed over a period of time. The situation then called for substantial subvention by the Government. Prior to that there was, as we understand it, cross-fertilisation. There was nothing peculiar about this. It was not perceived as a national deviation from economic norms and practices; it was happening in other countries. The financial cross-fertilisation initially contained inside the transport system was replaced by external subvention or subsidy from the people at large, the taxpayers' money through the Government. The obligation to subsidise was never questioned; the principle was accepted. What was questioned and became an issue was and is the ever-increasing size of the subsidy. When that subsidy was observed to relate directly to a degree of inefficiency some mismanagement and the deteriorating industrial relations along with political complacency, apathy and interference by the Government in a way that did not assist the State enterprise, it is not surprising that the present Government decided to tackle the problems inherent in such a structure.

It is probably true to say that such an exercise as now proposed in the Bill might have been usefully mounted some 15 or 20 years ago. The main objectives of the Government have been clearly spelled out by the Minister to keep the deficit under control without major disruption of services to the public or employment, to improve morale and the working environment generally in CIE, to improve the reliability and attractiveness of services at the lowest possible fares and last, to obtain greater transferrency of the allocation of costs between the various CIE activities. I will come back to that fourth item at a later stage.

I want to say that no reasonable mind in the areas of politics, trade unions, management, workers and the members of the public could possibly look with disapproval on these objectives. I want you to understand that I am making a justifiable claim here in the area of efficiency. I am probably the only trade union official in these islands who gave strike notice to a semi-State company in the Republic — I operated in Northern Ireland and in the Republic — that if it did not introduce industrial engineering with the objective of efficiency, I gave them three months before they would have a strike. That is some claim. So you need have no fear of the motivation towards efficiency from me or my colleagues in the Labour Party or indeed the workers.

But what the people in all the areas I have referred to may question is the means, the methods to be adopted to get to these objectives which I have spelled out, that is the four objectives spelled out by the Minister. Nevertheless, I have to say that whatever changes in the Bill in its present form are established as necessary out of debate in this Chamber and elsewhere, these will not in my view be of a major character. They will not upset the direction or the tone of the Bill, but the qualification is that certain conditions must be met. At the same time whatever about the dimensions of the proposals to amend, the greatest extent of agreement should be sought between the parties concerned. That is fundamental in this experiment.

At this point it is only right and proper that I make reference to the Government package approved in 1983, as the Minister stated, and I quote:

...aimed at not only reducing CIE's cost to the Exchequer over a five year period but also paving the way for a new operating environment in CIE.

He also said:

The package also provided for the payment of the subvention above the line in recognition of CIE's social role in providing commercially unprofitable but socially desirable services.

That is a basic ingredient which must be maintained if we believe that State enterprise in the context of CIE is to continue and be maintained. The third important factor in this package is to be seen in the statement by the Minister:

An obligation was placed on CIE to reduce the level of the expenditure in real terms by 2½ per cent per annum up to 1988 so as to obtain a reducing subvention in line with reducing expenditure.

It is widely accepted that the Minister's claim that the targets for 1983, 1984 and 1985 have been met is factual. I am bound to say that those people who believe that must give credit where it is due, to the initiatives of the Government, the Minister and his Department and to the people who implemented the proposals. The Minister and the Government are in the happy position that the Bill is now part of an ongoing process, to go into detail, to actually proceed along the lines indicated by the package. I am not giving credit to the Minister just to please him so that I may get agreement from him in pleasing me on some changes that I want. I am doing so because it is right.

If I, or my colleagues, seek changes it is because we believe that they are right. We believe that because they are right the Minister must acquiesce and must agree to make the changes that inevitably will be sought. The Bill then must be viewed against that background and interpreted as a logical follow-up to the changes established in the three years 1983, 1984 and 1985. The Bill tables more precise steps to be taken as a means to the four objectives referred to earlier. These could be described as methods of implementation. I have said already that while objectives will be accepted methods may be questioned: means to get to the objectives may be questioned. There is nothing remarkable about this. There are so many parties involved, it is nearly inevitable. These changes, as we come across them, on Committee Stage will be crucial and present us with the forum for the crucial debate on how everybody will move forward in unity towards the objectives contained in the Bill. It is essential that agreement is sought and obtained. If these appear to be reasonable in the context of the Bill I would suggest that they should be accepted, especially if they do not represent a major departure from efficiency, good management, easier identification of commercial results, good service to the public and the normally acceptable protections for the workforce. In other words, I do not think that the Labour Party will be unreasonable in the conditions they seek to satisfy.

The parties concerned in the proposed operations, the Government, the workers, the management and the public representatives in both Houses, are involved. The role of management at this stage is simply to wait until they see what form the structures will take which they will manage. Their role will come later in co-operation with the workforce on the ground at the workplace. That is where the implementation will take place. We have to examine what kind of structures should be there to implement the proposals contained in the Bill.

The workers occupy a different position. They are actively involved now looking at the proposed structures, assessing their future role and no doubt stating their views. They have done this. Their immediate concern is to examine the overall new situation proposed arising from the proposals contained in the Bill relating first, to the terms and conditions of employment and second, to whether the new structures will in any way endanger their future prospects and livelihoods. I am saying that in the context — I am probably guilty of reiterating or repeating myself — of not having a proper employment environment but one where the fear has deepened about the possibility of closure and redundancy. It is imperative therefore that their views are given consideration as well as the views of the public representatives who may put forward suggestions or proposals on their behalf. In this connection agreement is vital rather than anything which would appear to be imposed. The latter situation, the imposing of these solutions, would surely not make a positive contribution to the more progressive activation or motivation desired and necessary to make the new operations work harmoniously.

On the assumption that agreement with the workers is established I should like to examine their role as active participants in co-operation with management in what I see as a progressive experiment always allowing for the qualifications that I have made. It could be claimed that the management-worker relationship is the most vital element in the working of any service in any unit of production, distribution or business or business complex. It has to be observed that far too seldom has the full potential of the workers' contribution to efficiency and productivity been recognised and usefully employed. Management need the co-operation of workers. More especially in State or semi-State structures it is important that the concept of partnership is fully recognised and given meaning.

The basic ingredient of ownership and an unbalanced sense of power in private industry giving rise to conflict does not exist in State enterprises simply because State enterprises are the property of the people, properly understood, and the workers are co-partners in that ownership held in trust by the Government on behalf of the people.

I am making the point that we must have a situation of accepting the concept of the people owning the State enterprise and the Government simply holding the State enterprises — all of the enterprises — for the people. Once the concept of ownership on a co-partnership basis is established by proper communication and intelligent participation by all concerned then you do not have the conflict of the power struggle with the property owners that exists in private industry leading from time to time to conflict and bad industrial relations. If workers can see and appreciate that through enlightened communication, management and workers in such enterprises will be activated by the idea of full co-operation on the basis of partnership, on a common ownership basis, then we should be going forward in a more harmonious manner than heretofore. Industrial relations should in these conditions improve and produce a high performance record.

I have said that these matters which will require amendment pertaining to and impinging on the livelihoods, the fear, the apprehension of the workers, the question of closure and redundancy and terms and conditions of employment are negotiable. They are not so difficult and unwieldy that people cannot come to conclusions about them. There should not be a problem provided each side approaches these problems and the amendments, on Committee Stage, with mature reasonable minds and a compromise, I am sure, will be reached.

The second part which I said I had divorced from the first part is the question of the company structures. I already said that people talk about two companies and three companies. One school of thought is for two companies; another school of thought is for three companies. I simplify this by saying let us talk about one or two companies outside Dublin. It seems to me, reading the arguments for two companies outside Dublin that this separateness and therefore competition might reduce proper co-ordination which might lead to the result that the workers are afraid of. That is the two-company concept. It seems to me that the Minister and all concerned in that school of thought about the two companies outside Dublin feel that they will be able to see the transferency of the commercial enterprise and its operation, the transferency of the costs. I submit seriously that the same transferency can be seen inside a one company context. You could have two divisions. It is an administrative exercise and if that is the only basis on which the Government and the Minister want two companies rather than one all outside Dublin, then it is fairly weak ground.

Again, it would seem — properly — that the Government and the Ministers feel that the two-company structure will in some way that is not clear to me provide the basic ingredients for better industrial relations in so far as management will be nearer, or the boards will be nearer the workers. I do not accept that. There is a gap always between a board and the hierarchy of management down the line. The management who make decisions quickly and specifically and operate always having at the back of their mind good industrial relations and less possibility of estranging workers on the job are not members of a board. It therefore depends on how effectively any board, whether in a private enterprise or a State enterprise delegate the authority to the management on the ground. That is in the industrial relations department. It is not a matter for the board. I cannot conceive members of a board of any company walking around the shop floor or the workplace every day to keep in touch with workers. I can conceive of the delegation of authority outside the managerial hierarchy at the ground floor getting the participation of the workers. That brings me to this point: it is not only a question of industrial relations, important as these are. It is a question of proper participation.

Worker directors are one matter. I was a worker director in the Sugar Company long before the worker director legislation came in. I made a point of moving among the workers. Every director does not do that. It is not a question of the managerial staff on the ground simply relaying instructions to workers as to what has to be done, how it is to be done and in what time it should be done: it is a question of evolving to a situation where the workers are taking part in decisions. In the State enterprises they are actually part-owners of the enterprise and it will be more present to their minds that they are active participants. Do not ask me about structures. The worker-directors concept to me is a move in the right direction. If this CIE experiment, either one company or two companies, is to prove a success, such factors as the structures at the ground floor, at the workplace and quick decisions, given the authority to make them are the essence of success in providing proper worker participation in a company in which they feel that they should be recognised as equal partners. That is participation. People call it industrial democracy — to a point. It is participation so long as the workers see that they are actively participating in decisions, in why things have to be done, in the knowledge which has to be given to them before they understand why decisions are made and what the objectives are. In other words, I am suggesting seriously that the structures at the ground floor, at the workplace, will have to be re-examined or examined because it is virgin soil, there are no structures at the ground floor.

The two bases therefore on which the two-company proposal is put forward are fairly weak because these could operate inside a one-company context, one company, one board and, I say, two divisions. That is one option, instead of two companies. Administratively, if you want to see which side of the division is losing money you cannot see it with two divisions under one board and one company. But — and this is the fear that the workers have — if you have a divorcement between rail and road outside Dublin workers have this fear that eventually the non-profitable section will not be subsidised. It will be closed in conditions and in circumstances they will not like and they have to be reassured that this will not happen. They will have to be told with clarity what exactly will happen to them if closures ever come. It seems to me, to be fair about it, that the Bill is not aimed and is not orientated towards closing: it seems to me that the basic motivation, reading the words, indicates the continuation of the CIE in new format. I believe that there is no great difference between the one company outside Dublin and the two companies outside Dublin. If the two company idea is continued with, the workers will feel that it is imposed on them and that they have rejected the basic concept that it actually makes the whole two structures more competitive and therefore more financially profitable. This could be done inside a one-company set-up. I will finish on that note and come again with my Labour Party colleagues at the Committee Stage to the amendments we feel pertain and impinge on what the workers require but the Minister will have to have another think about the one-or the two-company concept. People are talking about two or three companies. I suggest that they think in terms of one company or two outside Dublin.

I welcome also the opportunity to say a few words on this Bill as my colleagues have done. I regard this piece of legislation as being one of the most important that has come before us for some time and it deserves our very careful consideration. Communication is a basic necessity for any nation and more especially for a country that is relatively sparsely populated, such as our own. This Bill deals with the major re-structuring of our national transport company, a company that, as Senator after Senator has indicated, has served this nation well for many decades and which has a workforce that is respected throughout the country.

The local station master, the local CIE employee, in every village and town in Ireland is respected and known as an integral part of the community and is a servant of the population and of the public.

As the issue of transportation is relevant to every town and village in the country any action we take or propose to take with regard to CIE will affect every citizen to some extent. Therefore, we must think very carefully about the multitude of issues that this Bill places before us. I, like my colleagues Senators O'Mahony, Ferris, McGonagle and Harte, would at the outset like to express serious concern about the Bill in its present form and reaffirm that the Labour Party will be seeking amendments to this Bill.

The Labour Party established a special committee made up of trade union officials and CIE workers following the publication of the Government economic strategy Building on Reality. This committee had consultations at that time and, again, subsequent to the publication of this legislation. While I know and readily acknowledge that the Minister has been most responsive to the points raised in discussions with my Labour colleagues, I wish, in general terms, to re-echo and support the case put last week in this House by my Labour colleagues, Senators O'Mahony and Ferris and reaffirm today.

I know that it is not the Minister's or Government's intention to weaken the position of CIE workers in a re-organised situation. I accept that the Minister will see fit to alter the Bill to ensure that that does not occur. I accept the aims of the Minister, as outlined previously in his own contribution and acknowledge that he, too, wishes to safeguard the rights of workers and protect the transport infrastructure of the country and the rights and conditions of the many people employed by CIE throughout the land.

While every taxpayer will readily and happily support the notion that State and semi-state companies should pay their own way, there must also be a realisation that transport is a public service and is seen as such in all other countries, even in countries who supported private enterprise is absolute. The argument is obviously stronger in a country like our own where the need for public transport is more clearly and obviously seen.

We have not yet faced the decision whether we want such services and whether we can or will pay for them or whether we want State involvement only in the areas which will have no interest to the private sector because they cannot yield a profit to the investors there. The strategy has been that an integrated system could cross subsidise the weak. That strategy has been in everybody's interest. That view seems to have lost current favour in a climate where we like to isolate the cost factor of each component element and make value judgments on the basis of purely economic analysis of putting each component under an economic microscope. We must be aware of the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

The new buzz words on a commercial basis as used last week in this debate by Senator Lanigan no doubt find favour with and are attractive to most people at first glance. It is of great importance that the resulting structure of any reorganisation would not effectively isolate and allow to die any sector of our integrated transport system. I know that this is not the Minister's intention and I am sure that he will accommodate reasonable amendments on Committee Stage of the Bill. The package that can emerge with the proper pruning and the proper redrafting and amending will be of benefit to taxpayers, which is a substantial aim of the Minister. It will also be of benefit to the workers and to the travelling public alike which must equally rank high on the Minister's priorities.

I come from a part of the country which has neither a good railway system nor a good road system. Wexford county roads are simply falling apart for lack of finance. The current black topping cycle is once in 25 years. A recent deputation to the Minister of State at the Department of the Environment made clear that no further money would be available for county roads. The situation in that regard is not likely to improve in the foreseeable future.

When it comes to railways the people of Wexford are treated purely and simply like second class citizens in this State. Since the start of CIE's programme of new railway carriage building, Wexford has not seen a single new carriage except when one visits Dublin where they are seen heading off to Cork, Limerick, Waterford or Galway. Wexford did not even get CIE's second best coaches which are called AC stock. These coaches were taken off the lines that receive the newest models. Wexford was left with ancient, uncomfortable wagons which would not be acceptable on mainland routes elsewhere.

Wexford has for some time been used to carriages which would be described as cattle wagons. This is often the foreign tourists' introduction to our national rail services. It is a regular occurrence to have trains without light or heat on the Wexford-Dublin route. Trains have left Dublin on the Wexford line and, before reaching Bray, having set out in perfect condition, have suddenly become devoid of heat and have plunged into darkness. There is no buffet service on this line for the people to have a cup of tea or a bit to eat. I understand that the reason given for this is that following the most tragic Buttervant accident the older wooden carriages were taken out of service for safety reasons.

This is a valid and reasonable excuse. But why is this line constantly downgraded? Why do the passengers on this line fall so far behind in the priority over other mainline routes. It is no longer acceptable to me or to the Wexford people that this primary line, often the tourists' first glimpse of Ireland and the service of our national transport system, should be treated in such a shabby fashion.

The journey from Rosslare to Dublin takes three hours and 15 minutes. One would reasonably expect basic facilities to be afforded to passenger on board a train for this length of time and especially when this line is used by so many foreigners. First impressions are lasting. They formulate their view of the country they are visiting. I make an urgent appeal to the Minister to address these problems and bring pressure to bear on CIE to ensure that improvements come about.

Rosslare Harbour is the main port of entry into this country from Europe for foreign tourists. It has a railway line running right onto the pier. It is nothing short of ludicrous to see trains leaving Rosslare Harbour immediately prior to the arrival of the continental ship. The passengers, in what they can only assume is some sort of ludicrous Irish joke, can see the trains pulling out of the station as they are about to dock, leaving them without the means to get to Dublin. I am certain that such a situation would not be tolerated in any other country.

I understand that CIE have planned to build diesel rail cars at their Inchicore works and are awaiting permission from the Minister to sanction this project. If it was sanctioned, the 180 workers at CIE Inchicore works would not be made redundant at the end of 1987 when the present carriage building programme comes to an end having completed the 124 carriages that are currently scheduled. These rail cars would be ideal for the Rosslare Harbour route. They can be used as two carriage trains or in much larger configurations in high season according to demand. They can be scheduled to meet the boats as they arrive and they can also work mainline routes to Dublin and westwards to Cork to facilitate tourist traffic. The urgency of the situation is again underlined most forcibly when we see the recent decision by British Rail to operate inter-city high speed trains to Fishguard on the Welsh side of the ferry service.

With the co-operation and goodwill of CIE and the Minister, it would be possible now to provide a thoroughly modern service to the passengers travelling between Great Britain and Ireland through the southern corridor. This surely is not beyond the wit and capacity of CIE to provide. It certainly in sheer volume terms would be a profitable operation. The contribution to the economy from the United Kingdom is obviously very large, estimated for the south-east region alone to be in excess of £20 million annually.

Briefly, regarding the uncertainty hanging over the railway lines in Wexford someone somewhere in CIE wants the lines around Wexford closed. That is my firm belief. Over the last five years the matter of the closure of these lines has come before the board of CIE again and again. Is there some sort of madness going on with some people in CIE who wish to decimate these lines?

If the line between Rosslare and Limerick Junction is closed, how are passengers arriving in Rosslare with Euro Rail tickets going to travel to Cork, Kerry, Limerick or Killarney? The mistakes of the past in closing down lines is very well known. I mention the lines between Waterford and Tramore and especially the line between Waterford and Mallow which was closed in 1966 and left major towns like Dungarvan and Fermoy without a rail service. People were told at that time that they would get buses to replace the railways but this has never transpired. Anybody who is familiar with the roads between Wexford and Waterford, particularly the New Ross-Waterford link through south Kilkenny, will be in no doubt that buses can never replace the rail on this link without a colossal input of cash in improving what is an appalling stretch of road.

The Minister will recall that just over three years ago he had to ask the board of CIE not to proceed with the closure of the line between Rosslare and Limerick Junction. On 10 February 1983 the Minister met a deputation from local elected representatives from the South East Regional Development Organisation, from the South East Regional Tourism Organisation, together with local politicians, Members of the Dáil and Seanad, Members of the European Assembly and the two CIE worker directors, a total of 39 people, one of whom was myself. On that occasion the Minister remarked that railways seemed to have a lot of support in the south east. This committee was set up by my colleague Senator Michael Ferris. I want to remind the House that the feelings of the representatives and people of the south east region have remained every bit as strong and that the people of Wexford demand the sort of improvements that have long been necessary to make it an up to date modern rail link.

I wish to comment on a recent development in the railway link to the south east and that is the closure of the Barrow Bridge at New Ross. The Minister will be aware that the Barrow Bridge was damaged by a ship some three or four weeks ago. There is a tremendous anxiety in the south east that the accident to the bridge, which has resulted in the closure of the link, will be used as an excuse to carry out a plan to cut off the rail link permanently. I would request the Minister to reassure the House and the people of Wexford that that particular rumour has no truth whatsoever in it.

Currently, passengers from Campile to Waterford are ferried by bus. A train used to leave Rosslare to Campile with passengers and return to Rosslare Harbour but CIE headquarters in Dublin ordered the engine to be transferred to Inchicore and the result is that at the moment no train services exist on this line. The Minister I hope will put our minds at ease on this question.

I want to comment on the importance of this particular route for the beet growers of south County Wexford. Wellington Bridge Beet Depot is a crucial factor in the agricultural economy of the south east. It is the major collection point for sugar beet which is ferried by rail then to the various sugar factories, not only ensuring the survival of those industries which provide useful and welcome employment in the areas but also providing vital and important profitable business to CIE rail. It is important to ensure that this bridge is fully in operation before the beet campaign starts later in the year. Some two years ago CIE removed the goods trains that ran the Wexford-Dublin route placing another strain on the national primary roads when other countries, particularly the United States, are looking again at rail transportation to take the pressure off road links. I should like to mention to the Minister and to bring to the attention of the House the whole situation surrounding the operation of private buses.

Last week Senators Killilea and Lanigan made great play of the services that these private operators are giving to the Irish people. They never said anything about the illegality of these operations. I would suggest to them that they reread the 1932 Transport Act where they would find that most of these operators are operating outside the law. When will the Minister address this problem and answer the question as to whether we have any policy on the matter or any responsibility on the matter?

When the Minister for Communications was Minister for Justice, the trade unions in CIE met him on this matter and made a detailed submission. They met his successor, Deputy Seán Doherty, TD, when he was Minister for Justice and have again met the Minister for Communications in his present capacity. They have asked again and again when will a clear line of policy be taken on the operation of private bus operators and when will the Minister act against those who are operating outside the law?

Senators Killilea and Lanigan paid glowing tribute to these operators who quite simply cream off the best and most profitable routes, provide a service on imported buses some of which leave a great deal to be desired and free from any obligation save their own obligation to make money, laugh all the way to the bank. If we want transport to be provided only on the optimum routes at optimum times of the week between our major towns and cities so be it. Let us state that but let us at least admit that that is what we are condoning by our inaction in this regard. It is estimated that CIE lost £4 million last year in revenue through the operation of private bus companies. They do not provide service for people with free travel such as old age pensioners, invalidity pensioners and other categories unless they have cash in hand.

I want to deal now with the future arrangements after the enactment of this legislation for the administration of the port of Rosslare which currently is administered and operated by CIE. It is one of the few elements of CIE which returns a handsome and regular profit. The Minister might have awoken a somewhat slumbering CIE with regard to their attitude to Rosslare Harbour when he included in Building on Reality the suggestion that there might be a port authority appointed to this harbour. CIE which did nothing for a considerable number of years to develop and enhance what is a marvellous national asset in the wake of that publication suddenly galvanised themselves into action and made frantic efforts to meet all the interested parties in Rosslare and to present to us the local representatives, to the Rosslare Harbour development committee and to others a magnificent plan which we welcome and endorse wholeheartedly.

CIE went out of their way to take on board many of the modifications suggested by the port users and public representatives and the package that has finally emerged is certainly one that the people in the south east, the people of Wexford in particular, wholeheartedly support and endorse. The first stage of this package, which involves a considerable investment of public moneys, is building of a custom clearance facility for coaches. That facility is under way save one. Unfortunately, it has become a little bit unstuck. The comprehensive plan is exactly what Rosslare needs and what it needs now not in some distant time in the future. It was the intention of CIE to fund this capital development from their own profits but not starting until 1987 and having a completion date in 1989 or 1990 at the earliest. It is important that this project is completed if this important national asset is to be available to the people of Ireland and not wasted because it is a fabulous facility that will enhance Wexford, the south east and the nation as a whole.

I commented briefly on one particular committee that operates in the area, that is the Rosslare Harbour Development Committee which is a sub committee of Wexford Corporation chaired by the mayor of Wexford and is representative of all the various interests, the port users and so on. They are concerned at what will happen to Rosslare Port when this legislation is enacted.

They have particular interests which they are anxious to press with the Minister. They are the provision of a port development plan that will incorporate the provision of a double ramp to meet the proposed jumbo ferries which will be operational in 1988. The need for the completion of the port development plan before Spring of 1988, including the provision of the new passenger terminal facilities. The proposed new Sealink ferry is being planned to commence operations for Spring, 1988. The Wexford relief road is also planned for completion in that year. The impact on Wexford will be very severe if the adequate provision is not made for CIE to have the on shore facilities to cater for these developments.

I should like to draw the attention of the House to an article that appeared in The People newspaper Wexford on Friday last, May 9, headed “Government Red Tape May Stop Work at Rosslare Harbour”. It states:

Government red tape is holding up a multimillion pound development at Rosslare Harbour. Sanction has been given for a new customs building at the port, part of a £5 million package, but the Department of Finance will not release the money. Now the port authority, CIE, has warned that work may be stopped on the building.

The hold-up is another blow to the Rosslare Harbour Development Committee — already pressing for an early completion to the overall development project. I wants the CIE package to be finished two years early to help attract a £60 million Sealink investment in the port.

I have motions from the National Union of Seamen calling on CIE to expedite the onshore developments needed in the port. All the interests in Wexford underline again and again how this vital national asset has been allowed thus far to be wasted, and they now call for action. At a recent meeting between the Rosslare Development Committee and representatives of CIE, a spokesman for CIE, Mr. Finnegan, indicated that the money would not be available to CIE until 1987. I appeal to the Minister, as I have done privately, to take a personal and direct interest in this matter to ensure that this commercial development is allowed to come into immediate fruition and to use whatever it takes to get across the bureaucratic red tape which is holding up the implementation of a scheme that all parties involved, port users, local authorities, CIE, agree is in the national interest and will not be another white elephant but rather will be a proper use of public moneys that will bring profit to the port and great benefit to Ireland.

This Bill is of vital national importance. It impinges on every village and town and affects, to some extent, every citizen. It is right that we have taken care to ensure that the Bill which is passed in this House meets all the criteria laid down. I appeal to the Minister to take on board the specific problems of rail and transport in Rosslare Harbour and the amending suggestions put forward by the Labour group so that the Bill will provide us with a comprehensive and integrated transport system for the benefit of all people.

I have no intention of being repetitive in what has been a long debate on Second Stage on important legislation. I pay tribute to the Minister's opening speech on Second Stage for provoking such a debate. It was a very interesting speech. When I look back over the Dáil and Seanad Official Reports on the introduction of amending legislation in relation to transport, there are few so complete reviews of the history of the public transport system from the early days of the foundation of CIE as an integrating mechanism to its present difficulties. Equally there are brave personal statements in the speech which have themselves been provocative of the discussion we have had so far in this House. There is no need for me to be repetitive because there has been a current running through the speeches made, particularly those by Labour Party Senators. Senator Flor O'Mahony spoke for all of us when he spoke about such amendments as are necessary in the areas of protecting workers.

My few words are motivated by two or three rather personal matters. I am probably one of the most frequent CIE users in Leinster House. I travel by train from Galway to Dublin frequently, sometimes once, twice or three times a week. I have another experience in relation to railways in so far as part of my childhood was spent living in one of the railway houses and part of the duties of the tenants was the opening and closing of level crossing gates. I have spent a great deal of time listening to arguments and the case for people who gave their lives to CIE, pensioners who have told me what they felt about the inadequate pension provisions. Where I lived as a young person in County Clare was once integrated into the Limerick market place in a curious way. The small station which served us locally was one which brought women who had made butter, people with eggs, people with different products, who were going to the market place to sell their products. I am not arguing that that state of society should be assumed to exist in 1986. Where it is relevant is that at that particular time it was suggested that these people who were integrated into the local economy would be facilitated by the substitution of bus services for rail services. As it happened the bus services could never have materialised given the road network that was involved. In other words, there was no real connection between roads, rail and buses.

In relation to my last preliminary remark I had a very interesting experience yesterday of a combination of provincial bus and rail services. The train from Dublin to Galway stopped at Athenry. It ran into difficulties. All passengers were transported courteously by CIE staff in buses to Athenry where we disembarked and got on the train. We arrived in Dublin a little late. I am pleased to see that another rail user, Senator Dooge, has joined us. He is one of the most frequent CIE users in Leinster House.

These personal reflections encourage me to take an interesting view of the Minister's speech. I regard it as a brave speech in so far as it reviews the history of CIE. It also makes the case for a transport policy. There is a fundamental philosophical error at the core of its thinking and I think of some of the documents from which it derives. These are not the fault of the Minister. They are the fault of those who had the power and influence on the board of CIE over the years in giving terms of reference to the consultants they asked to prepare plans for the future of transport. I make it very plain. I believe that the terms of reference they gave to the consultancy firms were ones derived more from a sense of panic of demonstrating both financial transparency in relation to the different activities of CIE and commercial viability rather than a social philosophy.

I will take up a sentence in the Minister's speech as an illustration of what I am saying. It is sometimes said that we live in the age of the motor car. I remember nearly 20 years ago attending a seminar on transport policy and these were the arguments made for transportation, the criteria if you like. Certainly people said that it should be efficient and that it should facilitate participation. By participation they meant the kind of people I mentioned earlier, people who were from rural communities, and who used the old rail services to travel to the nearest provincial market to sell their surplus products. There is another sense in participation and this is where both Houses have to make a decision. It is in relation to the non-motor car owning population of this country — those who rely on public transport, those who cannot afford motor cars, those who are too old to drive motor cars, those who are too ill to drive motor cars, those who are too young, those who are feeble, those who simply were nervous or whatever.

The argument that we live in the age of private transport cannot ever defeat the principle in transport policy of requiring a transport system that will allow full participation of all of the citizenry. That is where this issue of the tension between commercial viability and social purpose comes in. To some extent it is referred to in section 8 of the Bill. I hope that section 8 will be able to be strengthened to take account of that requirement. I would go so far as to say that when we look at a future concept of civil law in terms of citizens rights and participation, that the structure of a transport policy which would not enable them to participate fully mitigates their full participation in the society. I lived in the United States where this is so. It is a society where many of the people who are in the poorer areas and many of the older people in the ghettos around Boston and so forth are the victims of the absence of a public transportation policy.

Another purpose of transport in the reorganisation of CIE, which I feel it must facilitate, is industrialisation. Here one has to ask what system will best facilitate industrialisation as widely spread as possible to meet the demands of a country that is filled with young people who need work and also a country that has changed its industrialisation strategy from centralised industrial provision to more regionalised and localised industrial provision. We have gone in the direction of looking for smaller number of jobs more dispersed throughout the country with the necessary implications of freight movements and of the movements of people.

There is, related to that, the question of regionalisation. I could not stress sufficiently the importance of the transport arrangements that exist within a region for a region's sense of identity. Symbols are important here.

Even though there was by omission no reference to the future of the western line in one of the principal documents referred to in this debate, I was not one of those who believed, when new stations were built on the eastern side of the Shannon, that this was a symbolic sign to us all to begin making alternative arrangements for getting to Dublin. I attributed no sinister purpose to that, but others did. As many of us travel every week we realise what the absence of a rail facility would mean to us. Perhaps one is talking too negatively in terms of closure. After all the Minister's Bill, which is the Bill that has come from Government, is not a negative Bill. What it purports to do is to reorganise. What I am suggesting is that the documentation upon which it is based is one that is too heavily weighted in favour of commercial viability. I welcome commercial viability. I am not one of those people who suggest that every time we spend £1 publicly we have gained something. There is waste sometimes, and money can be better spent. You prune a tree by cutting the branches that are interfering in the middle, not by cutting the tree itself.

This leads me to some of the proposals that have been made. They must be tested by their implications across three major groups of people. Firstly, the taxpayers want transparency. They want to see where money is being spent in CIE and on what it is being spent. They are getting that at the present time. There is an increase in morale in the workforce as a result of that. Secondly, the implications in regard to what the consumer may hope for. Here is the most difficult one. I believe that there are many people who have no faith in the future of rail, for example. It is a long time ago since the chief executive of CIE wrote in his memoirs that `Ireland is too small for railways'. We need people who are committed to rail. Perhaps I am now making the case for the separation of rail and bus?

Here I come to another central assumption in the speech on the problems of CIE with which I quibble. I offer a simple choice to politicians to judge and it is this. Is it the absence of a transport policy over the years that has created the greater difficulties for CIE, or has it been the absence of an appropriate set of managerial arrangements? The Minister's speech has come down in favour of the second — a set of managerial arrangements which allows expertise on buses to be separated from rail in provincial areas and to separate the expertise required for the greater Dublin area from the provincial areas, that this will automatically allow a regeneration of transport to occur. I humbly suggest that the first option — the absence of a coherent transport policy that clearly and explicitly builds the entire question of the social purpose of transport, addressed to all these vulnerable communities I mentioned and addressed to the issue and purpose of participation, to regionalisation and industrialisation as well as greater efficiency — is a more appropriate place to look for the problems of CIE.

I read too, in the speech of the question of consultation. Many of my Labour colleagues have spoken on this and I said it is not my intention to be repetitive. I agree with Senator McGonagle, who laid a particular stress on the meaning of the word "consultation". I said I use CIE services at least once, perhaps on average twice a week. I could not count the thousands of times that suggestions have come from the people who work in CIE about the improvement of services. If we are talking about a regenerated CIE and one that will be effective, it will have to be one that will build morale by consultation from the bottom up. A study has been prepared and these are the rough forms of it. Workers are called in to watch or listen to something and are asked "are there any questions?" Lever Brothers, when they were making soap, did that in the eighteenth century in Britain. It is not appropriate in the twentieth century. If you want to use some rather dubious managerial principles about specialisation at top level management, it also behoves you to look at what has been happening in the history of industrial relations, where they are successful across the industrialised countries of Europe.

There are a few other issues that have been deliberately mentioned by the Labour group of Senators that are extremely important. I have often met old railway persons who were multi-generation employees in CIE. The people were known as railway families because grandfathers, fathers and their children worked in CIE. They had a commitment that went beyond their own working lives. Remember this was the strength of the commitment to the company and McKinsey did not even devote a line to this in his report. They were the people who, if they were at the wage-labour non-salaried level, had a very inadequate pension structure made available for them. Equally it could be said that there are a number of improvements in these issues which we can debate. These can be solved and be met by providing by way of guarantee for the kind of participation that I mention.

There were a number of important points made in this debate. First, that there has been an improvement in CIE's overall performance resulting in an increase in morale among the workforce. Improved conditions and consultation give a definite future towards transport. This point is very important. People give their lives to driving large vehicles under great strain, perhaps with not enough passengers on them to be commercially viable and they are the ones who could be taking jobs driving private vehicles as a great danger to public lives more regularly on the roads and in the cities and towns of Ireland.

I will offer an imaginative idea to the Minister. A Minister for Transport in the history of CIE could have come along and said that he would have banned private motor cars altogether from the city centre in Dublin and made it necessary for people to use buses or taxis to come into the city centre. That was one of the options put forward in 1966 by one of the principal transport consultants in Ulster. He suggested that the dice be loaded deliberately in favour of public transport. We have allowed a situation to emerge in which the people within CIE have found themselves defending what they should not have to defend. The day that the social role within transport is abandoned the people who will be abandoned are the non-private motor car owners. The issue is a very simple one. It is whether they should be allowed to call the shots and determine the shape of transport policy for the coming years?

There are issues which have surfaced in the debate which I am sure the Minister, because he has attended here, has given great attention to. I thank him for this because it is important that these points be satisfied. It is into section 8 that the social role of transport policy in the future must be built. There should be some form of guarantee given in relation to the future of some transport provision in the name of participation, industrialisation and regionalisation.

The second major issue is the fundamental one. There is no disagreement about specialisation for the greater Dublin area. I spoke yesterday of a combination of bus and rail that brought me to Dublin. Why set up wasteful competition between bus and rail? The previous Senator spoke about those who have no commitment to serving non-commercial routes, breaking the law and entering the transport market and taking £4 million which belongs to the public transport system. Those people are stealing that money from their fellow citizens. It is availed of by those who want to travel cheaply. They are in the same category as people who want to have a bet without paying tax. There is need for some continued joint use of rail and bus at provincial level and for the elimination of wasteful competition.

Thirdly, in relation to the security of employees, the history of employees is that their protection has been the least when companies have folded. They have asked for, at least, the minimum protections that they enjoyed under their terms of employment. They say that under the existing statutory company, CIE, they enjoyed a range of securities and are entitled at least to that. It makes a mockery of this modern managerialism to say that if you removed those, then you could start saying that when you had broken your umbrella into the three sections you could hope for a better way of keeping out the rain. I think equally that the whole question of consultation with those in the unions should be better agreed.

We have had submissions that told us how we can built the company from the ground up. Consultation from the CIE worker on the ground up to the top is what they want. There should be accountability. I pay tribute to the Minister in this regard for making reference to his views on transport policy. Any changes in transport policy should come back to the Houses of the Oireachtas for discussion in terms of their social implications as well as their commercial viability.

In relation to the movement of workers, if one moves to two companies instead of one, the transitional arrangements should be ones that give the maximum protection to the workforce.

Finally, this is the point we have to decide in the end. It is rather like asking the question: "why did people have drawing rooms or sitting rooms and re-arrange the furniture without asking what purpose the room was there for in the first place." Transport policy of the new age which the Minister refers to in his speech must have two clear components in it. The taxpayers are entitled to transparency in expenditure and to efficiency in expenditure. There are consumers who are vulnerable and there are many potential future consumers who will use the public transport system and their rights must be provided for in the Bill. The workers themselves have been well spoken about by Members of the Seanad.

I have faith in public transport. I believe that as more and more of our industrialisation breaks away from great megacentres, even moving now as it has from regional centres down to rural towns and small villages, as settlement and residential patterns are changing with people moving away from the larger conglomertions and as the natural birth rate increases in even the most remote areas, we will deeply regret any arrangement that damaged the concept of an integrated national transport policy. What is a national integrated transport policy? What we have is some form of that but it could be more efficient if it was given a better chance. To break it is to take a risk. I acknowledge that the greater Dublin area is different but in the provincial areas there is a need for the integration of bus and rail if the morale of the staff, the viability of the service and a future for rail in the provinces are to be secured.

I welcome the Bill and I hope the Minister is moved to respond in an amending way to what has been said from this side of the House.

Before I call on the Minister, was it agreed that we adjourn the debate after Second Stage?

My understanding is that the Minister's speech will not occupy more than 30 minutes.

Is mian liom buíochas a ghabháil leis na Seanadóirí uilig a ghlac páirt sa díospóireacht seo. Tá suim ag beagnach gach éinne i gCóras Iompair Éireann agus is cóir é sin toisc chomh tábhachtach is atá gnóthaí an bhoird in iompar na tíre idir phaisinéirí agus lastas agus i saol an phobail.

Tá a lán taithí ag muintir an Tí seo ní h-amhaín i scrúdú Billí ach i gcúrsaí an tsaoil freisin agus bhí sé sin soiléir i ngach a dúirt na Seanadóirí ar an mBille atá ós a gcomhair. Bhain mé tairbhe as gach a bhfuil raíte ag na Seanadóirí agus tá súil agam go mbeidh siad sásta leis na freagraí a thabharfaidh mé ar na pointí tábhachtacha a nocht siad sa díospóireacht. Taímíd uile ar aon intinn faoi chomh tábhachtach is a bheidh cúrsaí CIE agus a sheirbhísí i gnóthaí iompair na tíre seo sna blianta atá romhainn.

I am grateful to the Members of the Seanad who are participating in the debate on this Bill to reorganise CIE into a tighter and more effective organisation. Many of the points made reflected the individual experiences of Senators and this added a special dimension to their value. Some of the points were particularly cogent and relevant to issues raised by the reorganisation of CIE; others were clearly day-to-day issues, which I am sure the chairman and board of CIE, who have been following the developments in discussion of the draft legislation with understandable interest, will wish to examine.

I have been greatly impressed by the points made by Senators. If I can find fault at all with the debate in the House, it is perhaps that due recognition has not been fully given to the achievements of CIE in the past three years. I recognise that this has been referred to by several Senators, including the last speaker, Senator Michael D. Higgins. Certainly, it was absent in the contributions from a number of Senators. Therefore, it is no harm to reiterate that a great deal has already been achieved. Ever since that last and dreadful year of 1982, there has been magnificent progress in each succeeding year. It is well worth reiterating this point and to give credit to all concerned.

I am grateful for the credit given to me by Members of the House. It is important that credit be given to everybody within CIE who feel that they have played a part in this turn around. Because there is one thing sure, if this House spent its time lamenting further disimprovements in CIE, it would get a lot of coverage: by its nature, praise does not get the same coverage. Nonetheless, it is important that it is recognised within the organisation of CIE that a great deal has been achieved and moreover it has been achieved without any significant cuts in the workforce and without any massive reduction of service.

The public discussion, which the announcement of the reorganisation in Building on Reality generated, has reflected what appear to be the major concerns and, understandably, many Senators, too, have dealt with these matters. These points are so important that I feel obliged to reply to them at some length here today. They take the form of concern for the new structure in terms of the long term future of CIE, the new structure itself, questions of services and finally, but by no means least, the concerns of the CIE workforce.

A number of Members of the House have criticised the Bill as being McKinsey by the back door. I reject that claim. McKinsey proposed the complete disestablishment of CIE into three completely separate companies, or in other terms, the complete abolition of CIE. The Government rejected the McKinsey concept. That is not to say that it rejected the idea that there was no scope for improvements in CIE. On the basis of the McKinsey report some changes were called for.

Against the very many criticisms of CIE in years past, I believe that it would be impossible to find a representative cross-section of public opinion which would accept that there is no scope for greater efficiency and effectiveness in CIE. This is what the Bill is all about. It is not about dismantling CIE. It is not about closing railway lines. It is not about terminating bus or other services. It is not, most particularly, about decimating the CIE workforce.

The Bill does not in any way interfere with the rights, duties and obligations of CIE. It simply provides for reorganisation in the interests of CIE operations and its future. It is an effort to separate at operational level the various CIE activities into more compact units, more manageable units, which will have a greater potential for responding to needs within the individual unit and to CIE customers. It is an effort to eliminate some of the bureaucratic practices which must inevitably arise in a big, extensive organisation.

While there may not be unanimity, there is a lot of support for the re-organisation of CIE. The differences are in the area of the organisational arrangements which are most likely to achieve the results desired. In considering a new structure for CIE various options were looked at and the Government came to the conclusion that the retention of the board with three subsidiary companies would best serve the long term interests of the travelling public and the CIE organisation. Some Senators have suggested that it would be more sensible to leave the railway and the provincial buses as an integrated unit. This seems to have been inspired in the first place by a suspicion that the isolation of the railway was a preliminary stage to closing down the whole railway and, secondly, by a belief that rural bus services would be better served by a no-change situation.

The following advantages of the approach based on three subsidiaries will interest Members of the House. They are: the units are smaller, more manageable, but even then it should be borne in mind that the smallest of the three companies will have close to 2,500 employees. It is possible to have more precise objectives from which management and workers will be able to identify. It provides scope for a more intensive effort by the separate managements in their respective specialised areas — rail and bus operations are very different. There will be scope for greater flexibility in decision-making and a facility for a quick response to competitive challenges from outside the CIE organisation. The allocation of use of properties will be a function of the parent board and so any potential conflict can be immediately resolved in a definitive way. Employees will be closer to management and a separate industrial relations arrangement should be a valuable asset in quickly resolving any difficulties which arise and managements in the individual companies will unavoidably find co-operation in co-ordination of services of significance for their bread and butter.

I must emphasise that these proposals are designed to ensure the future of the railways. I need hardly remind the House that the Government record in that regard speaks for itself. The retention of the railway is not, however, a basis or a justification for not seeking an improved performance from the railway or indeed the other services. Neither is it a basis for avoiding a situation where greater transparency as to where the costs in CIE arise or how they are met. Greater transparency will yield a more general appreciation of the value for money which the rail and indeed the road services represent for the annual Exchequer contribution to CIE services. To bring about that transparency it is essential to disaggregate the CIE operation to the limited extent of separating responsibility for railway operations from that of buses.

The new organisational structure does not mean that the railways and the provinicial buses will go their separate ways. They will continue to be dependent on each other as they are at present and disruptive competition will not be permitted by the board; they will be striving to serve the people better. It must be emphasised that the board of CIE will have the key role in approving the plans of the companies and in supervising their performances and this will automatically embrace the scope and extent of competition between them. There will be no unbridled competition between the companies. On the contrary, it will be limited and geared to the overall interests of CIE. The board will see to it that Irish Bus and Irish Rail continue to provide the best possible integrated public transport service in so far as that is possible and that the rail and road services continue to complement each other.

A number of Senators have referred to the reorganisation of CIE as providing a potential for liquidation because of the change in structure. Others have spoken of it as a real threat to the three subsidiaries. The theoretical possibility of liquidation or winding-up is there for all State companies registered under the Companies Acts. The existence of such a risk, no matter how minimal or remote, is hardly a justification for not using the company type arrangement in the interest of using the nation's assets in the best interest of the community. Such risk is indeed so remote that it can be dismissed for the following considerations:

—The dependency of CIE on Exchequer support is well established and no change is planned for altering the financial support arrangements which are now in place for a long period during which there has never been any challenge to the general financial viability of CIE;

—the situation does not for a moment bear thinking about if there were no annual subvention and no State guarantees for CIEs capital borrowings;

—the parent board is a statutory body and changes to its structures, responsibilities, functions can only be brought about by legislation;

—in reorganisation the board is losing none of its functions but it is delegating the subsidiaries to carry out operational functions on its behalf;

—the parent board will be involved in the formulation of the plans of the subsidiaries and is responsible for monitoring the performances of subsidiaries: these procedures would automatically bring to light any financial risks inherent in the activities of the company;

—CIE activities are well known and clear and so the likelihood of a new major risk element emerging suddenly can be fully discounted. The Department of Communications will continue their role in relation to supervision of general policy issues of the board and their subsidiaries and their performance vis-á-vis plans and targets;

—the very first objective of reorganisation is to improve CIEs potential for development.

The general arrangements for monitoring the board and the companies constitute safety nets against financial risks, no matter how remote, of the companies becoming unwittingly involved in activities which would put their future at risk.

My last point on this issue is that if the theoretical possibility of any of the subsidiaries seeking trade were to become a reality the responsibility of the board of CIE in that area would remain and the board would continue to own all land and buildings, as it does at present. I will be proposing amendments to put beyond doubt that the security of employment of CIEs employees transferred to the companies will not be one whit diminished by this Bill. In other words the board retains overall responsibility for all the activities which the Oireachtas in legislation over the years assigned to that body. In the unlikely event that any of the companies cease to trade the CIE board would resume full responsibility for the activities involved and for the employees of the board transferred to the company and the amendments I propose will put this beyond doubt.

Privatisation has also been mentioned as one of the risks attaching to the new arrangements. This Bill disposes of that argument succinctly and effectively by simply prohibiting the sale or disposal of shares of the subsidiary companies which must remain the property of CIE. I would like everyone to accept my unqualified assurances that this Bill does not put CIE on the market in any sense, that the changes in organisation are in the long term interest of the country and of CIE and the permanency of CIE rules out the possibility of services being at risk.

A number of Senators made suggestions about expressing explicitly in the Bill the social nature of some of the CIE services. The Government are committed to the social role of CIE by their formula for calculating the annual subvention to CIE by paying the subvention "above the line" as revenue for social services rendered. The CIE capital projects which they have approved, the State guarantees given for CIE capital borrowing and the acceptance of responsibility for the interest charges on DART and indeed for £30 million of the short term borrowing of the company accumulated over recent years.

May I say at this point in relation to the social obligations of CIE that there are a number of views as to how they should be quantified. I have looked at what they do in other countries and in the overwhelming number of countries a general assessment is made because, despite the fact that arguments are put forward to this effect, it would be impossible for central government to be assessing the social role of each and every bus route or each and every train route or each and every bus service and each train service. Moreover it is not wise, in my view, that politicians per se should have a direct role in deciding where an individual service exists and to what extent. It is because of the sort of interference that such a role implies in the past that CIE had got into such a mess because CIE were not left to run their day-to-day affairs and were not left to make these assessments. I strongly feel that the role of Parliament and the role of Minister is to say the extent of CIEs operation in general which is the social dimension and pay for it and leave CIE to run their own affairs. That is the policy that has been pursued over the past three years and it has had notable success.

The annual subvention is given to CIE to pay for essential services for people throughout the State who are dependent on public transport services which would have disappeared long ago without the very considerable Exchequer support, over £300 million in the three year period 1984-86. The restructuring of CIE does not bring about any change in CIE's social role. The CIE social services will continue to be subvented and hopefully as a result of the more compact organisation it will better meet the needs of the travelling public. The most important provision as far as the social role is concerned is the financial provision in the existing legislation.

There has been understandable anxiety among CIE staff about their future. I hope this Bill puts an end to that uncertainty. The staff are fully aware of the limited impact of the reorganisation on employment. The limited number of redundancies occurring in CIE which, I must stress, would have arisen regardless of the restructuting provided for in this Bill, are being dealt with on traditional lines within that organisation. The CIE workforce have a vital contribution to make in the smooth adjustment to the new structures. I believe that they will co-operate fully and that their efforts in the future will fully justify the trust which has been reposed in the board and the new companies for the future. The reorganisation is an opportunity for CIE and their employees to demonstrate the real value of the organisation. My wish for the new CIE is one of growth based on their extensive assets, and entrepreneureal flair and the very valuable and varied staff resources and skills.

I was rather disappointed as I have said at the extent of the pessimism as to the future of CIE in a few of the contributions to the debate. Some seem to be losing sight of the important turn-around in CIEs financial performances in the industrial relations field in recent times. For instance it is well worth reciting here in this House that, in relation to Dublin city services which has been the only major problematic area as far as industrial relations is concerned in CIE for a long time, in the past two years almost there has not been one man day lost due to a strike except a few hours lost by a very short strike in the last couple of weeks. That is a remarkable improvement and I think everybody deserves to be congratulated for it.

I will also underline as I have on many occasions the importance of certainty about services. Senator Higgins referred to the fact that there have not been policies by the Minister to encourage people to use public transport services rather than motor cars. Unfortunately the transport function is not entirely within my Department. The Department of the Environment does have certain functions in this regard. However, one of the areas which has led to less use of public transport in the past has been strikes and threats of strikes. Thank God, that seems to be put in the past. We have not for a long time enjoyed such industrial peace in Dublin city services as we have for the past two years and long may it continue. I believe if it continues that there will be a substantial growth in the use of the city bus services and a further improvement in the future outlook for all who work there. When a subvention formula was announced in mid-1983 there were doubters. That has proven its worth and is now recognised for its merits. I am convinced that the restructuring of CIE as proposed will likewise be successful.

The pessimism and doubts about the future of CIE are not alone unfair to the board's employees but are outdated. The CIE experience in recent years has clearly shown what the board's workforce can do and the way forward. Before I return to a number of detailed issues raised by Senators I think it is only right that we should put this Bill in the context of the future reform of transport, that is in the process of taking place. This House has already passed the Air Transport Bill and the Road Transport Bill. These two Bills together with this one which is one of about ten transport Bills which I hope will have been enacted by the end of this year. We have recently circulated to the House the Harbours Bill which deals with the reorganisation of major harbours. We have before the Dáil the B & I Bill providing for the finance to cement the reorganisation and recovery of that particular company. We have already passed the Canals Bill transferring the canals from CIE to the OPW. There is also the Dublin Transportation Authority Bill which is before this House and there are a few more. Without comparison, this year will have been the greatest year for legislative reform of the transport area for many many years, if not ever. Those Bills will also be accompanied by a White Paper on the national transport policy which follows the publication of the Green Paper which was published some months ago. In turning to a number of the detailed issues raised by Senators I would like to say, first, in relation to the very interesting speech by Senator Higgins, which was the last speech of the debate and which I found extremely scintillating indeed, there has been much talk about a national transport policy. This Bill is part of a very huge reform of the transport sector, not just the State transport sector but of the transport sector in general in this country. However, for some people a national transport policy means different things than for other poeple. Of course transport is a living thing and things change and I do not think we are ever going to have a sort of Ten Commandments of transport which are set in stone for years to come. By the nature of things it is a developing process. At least we have tried to set down in one document the essential points of all aspects of transport. Indeed I have been very agreeably surprised by the quantity and quality of submissions that we have received. I hope that when all the legislation I have referred to is passed and the Green Paper is published, people, both inside the Houses of the Oireachtas and outside will feel that a good job has been done in setting a healthy scene for transport for many years to come.

Senators Killilea, Fitzsimons and Fallon saw risks of greater bureaucracy in the reorganised CIE. In fact the direct opposite is the intention and this I believe will be realised. The management and staff of the individual companies will be in more compact units with the main objective of focussing on their own operations and ensuring that the services offered are the best available. What is involved is a form of decentralisation in the interest of the travelling public. This is a point that Senator Higgins also referred to.

Senator Killilea praised the CIE education and training programmes and the board's concerns about safety. These are very important issues. The re-organisation of CIE will not lead to any decrease in zeal or effort in ensuring well trained staff with safety as a major priority.

Senator FitzGerald and others inquired as to the reality of separating provincial bus and rail operations without difficulty. No problems are anticipated arising out of operations from common locations because of the board's role, (i) in allocating the use of properties and (ii) in coordinating on competition issues. Extensive co-operation rather than competition are envisaged as the general basis for the operating climate. Several Senators were critical of the names for the new companies. I have already referred to my own lack of conviction about their aptness and, as I explained, I am considering the matter further. Indeed I would welcome Senators' suggestions in this regard.

Senator Fitzsimons referred to the lack of motivation among CIE staff. The reorganisation should be a base for generating improved morale with management nearer it workers and the customers. The success of the new companies will be quite dependent on the enthusiastic and highly motivated workforce.

Senator Ferris mentioned a number of detailed points which require answers. He quoted from Building on Reality in an effort to demonstrate that the Government are committed to the development of the road network but to retrenchment of the railways. I am afraid that his presentation did not do justice to the capital allocations approved for railway coaches, railway signalling and communications, the support given to DART and the level of subvention support provided. Furthermore I have made it clear on a number of occasions that I am prepared to examine on their merits any CIE proposals for capital investment. This is not to deny the Government's plans for road development. The Government are influenced in meeting the needs of the nation as a whole and roads are also an important part of our infrastructure.

I want to assure both Senator Howlin and Senator Ferris that CIE are reinstating the services disrupted by the accident at Barrow Bridge. It is being dealt with as matter of priority. I do not agree that the Bill is in conflict with either what I said to or wrote to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in my letter of 8 November 1985. I might say in that context one or two Senators were under the impression that there had not been any consultations with the unions. I want to tell the House that I did have a very productive meeting with the trade unions in November of last year. I have had several more productive meetings with members of this House and others interested in trade union affairs in the recent past which have also been extremely helpful and constructive.

Senator O'Mahony also raised a number of issues that I need to reply to. He fears that the Bill, as it stands, will lead to the disintegration of the integrated CIE services. That point of view was shared also by some other Senators. I hope in what I have already said I will have convinced them that the CIE organisation will continue to integrate their services to the greatest possible extent.

I accept that the CIE audited accounts show costs and revenues etc. in relation to specific CIE sectors and the board's annual reports contain a considerable amount of interesting information. The accountancy arrangements are not the primary reason for reorganising CIE.

At present some of the individual items in the accounts have to be included on an allocated basis because some costs are incurred for the CIE organisation as a whole and likewise some of the revenue is based on charges for integrated services. The existence of separate companies will, however, make it possible to identify costs and expenditure actually incurred and received in relation to specific operations. The existing agreements between CIE and the unions and organisations about pay and conditions will not be affected by the reorganisation. They will continue to apply until they are replaced by other agreements.

I have taken advice on the use of the word "land" in section 17 of the Bill. I can confirm that the word embraces not only land but buildings and permanent fixtures as well.

As regards the new arrangements for control of fares and rates, I am sure the House will agree that Government control is reasonable because the Exchequer subvention amounts to about one-third of the board's expenditure.

A number of Senators expressed concern on the question of policy directions. I should point out that policy directions could not be in conflict with CIE legislation and neither could they relate to day to day matters which are functions of the board and the companies. The State's overall responsibility is a full justification for that provision.

Several Senators referred to private sector bus operations. As the House is aware the Bill under discussion does not cover the licensing of bus services. I am, however, very much aware of the issues and problems relating to private bus operations. Difficulties of operators who are carrying out operations contrary to the law were mentioned. That is one side but we cannot forget the adverse effects of such activities on CIE and their role in providing socially desirable services which are unprofitable. My interest in this whole area is shown by my decision to review the Road Transport Act 1932 and the inclusion of an individual chapter on provincial bus services in the Green Paper on Transport.

There I outlined a number of suggestions for consideration and I intend to plot the way forward in a White Paper later this year. I have received the views of the various interests concerned in relation to the Green Paper and I will take them into account in coming to a conclusion.

Last week in the course of the debate a number of Senators mentioned the need for discussions with me on some aspects of the Bill. These discussions have taken place and in a constructive atmosphere. I can understand the continued existence of some concern despite my many and detailed explanations and assurances. As a consequence and in deference to the views expressed, I have been considering a number of amendments which should meet most of the concerns of Senators and clarify the situation substantially. Indeed, a Chathaoirligh, I have always taken the view in bringing legislation before either House that the very purpose of that procedure is for Parliament to improve the legislation. I welcome very much the constructive suggestions made by Members of this House.

My approach has been to take a fresh look at the Bill and to see the possibilities of it for meaningful changes which do not undermine the principles and effectiveness of the proposed legislation but which would clarify issues which are sources of concern. I have, accordingly, been examining the text as regards the possibility of dealing more explicitly in the Bill with the co-ordination of CIE services, the protection of existing working traditions of the CIE workforce, the industrial relations arrangements, the declaration of interest by directors of the new companies and the possibility of labour interest representation on the subsidiary companies.

The House will appreciate that some of these issues are complex and I am not, accordingly, in a position to give any unqualified commitments as regards precise amendments today. Legal implications and legal drafting have first to be got out of the way. As a result of this exercise, I expect to introduce a number of substantial amendments for the Committee Stage.

Finally, a Chathaoirligh, may I say that once before I have been involved in a major reorganisation — perhaps an even more complex one than this — in the case of the Posts and Telegraphs Services Act. Likewise, during the passage of that Bill I have very many worthwhile suggestions from Members of both Houses and that Bill ended up as a much improved Bill. Then, as now, there was a great deal of concern and apprehension among the workforce of the old Department of Posts and Telegraphs. I think, in the two and a half years that have elapsed, it has been shown that none of those concerns was justified. Both of those companies are doing exceedingly well, much better than before, and I believe the result of this legislation as amended, will be precisely the same for CIE — a more vibrant, healthier and better company, and a more efficient company serving the customers well and motivating the workforce. That is its purpose. Thank you very much.

Question put and agreed to.

I propose that we order the Committee Stage for Wednesday, 21 May. That will be the second day on which we will be debating the Committee Stage of the Finance Bill. Therefore, it is more likely that our substantial debate on Committee Stage on CIE will take place this day fortnight, on Tuesday 27 May. Nevertheless, I think it should be ordered for the earlier date.

Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 21 May 1986.
The Seanad adjourned at 8.40 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 14 May 1986.