International Carriage of Goods by Road Bill, 1990: Second and Subsequent Stages.

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

I apologise for the absence of the Minister, who is in Brussels on EC business and cannot be here for that reason.

The International Carriage of Goods by Road Bill, 1990, is essentially of a technical nature. It is designed to give the force of law in the State to the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road. The schedule to the Bill contains the text of the convention and the 1978 protocol thereto. As a detailed explanatory memorandum was published with the Bill, I shall confine my remarks to general issues arising.

Enactment of this Bill is a necessary first step on the way to Ireland's accession to the convention. As I shall explain later, it is in Ireland's interest to become a party to the convention as soon as possible. However, as provided for in Article 43 (2) of the convention, accession now of a state thereto could not have effect until 90 days after that state has deposited its instrument of accession with the Secretary-General of the United Nations who is the depositary of the convention. Thus, if this House and Dáil Éireann agree to enact the Bill soon, Ireland could be a party to the convention about four months hence.

If the Bill is enacted a ministerial Order will be made in due course under section 9 (2) (a) to declare the date on which Ireland's accession to the convention has effect and, therefore, the date on which the Bill as enacted will come into force. Notice of the making of that Order will be published in Iris Oifigiúil and in the national daily newspapers for the information of all concerned, in accordance with standard arrangements. The effect of the Bill coming into force will be to make the convention the applicable Irish law in so far as concerns contracts for the international carriage of goods by road to which the convention applies.

The convention was devised in 1956 under the aegis of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe to facilitate international transport and trade in goods. It came into operation in 1961 and is generally referred to by the acronym CMR, which is derived from its full title in the French language set out at the foot of page one of the explanatory memorandum to the Bill.

CMR is a set of commonsense rules to govern international carriage of goods by road and has withstood the test of time. It clearly establishes the contractual relationship which is to apply between the sender, carrier and intended recipient of the goods and provides a clear legal basis for securing the respective rights of the parties to the contract, including the enforcement of judgments under the convention in their favour in any state party to the convention.

The convention applies to international carriage of goods by road from or to any state which is a party to the convention, irrespective of whether or not the other state is a party to the convention. Thus, the convention already applies to international carriage of goods by road to or from this State from or to a state which is a party to the convention except the United Kingdom, to which I shall refer later. However, Irish law does not recognise the application of the convention, leaving doubt as to how Irish courts might decide any matters which might arise relating to the convention. Given the continuing growth in Irish international carriage of goods, particularly in the context of the completion and development of the EC Single Market and opening of markets in central and eastern Europe, it is clearly in Ireland's interest to become a party to the convention as soon as possible.

There are now 24 European states which are party to CMR, a clear indication of the importance of the convention. Ireland is now the only EC member state which is not a party to CMR. The 13 non-EC states which are party to CMR are Austria, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Finland, German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Yugoslavia.

Consignment notes are at the heart of the convention as they are prima facie evidence of the contract for carriage, the conditions of the contract and the receipt of the goods by the carrier. The convention requires them to record specific information about the nature, quantity and condition of the goods to be carried and also any general or specific instructions to be followed by the carrier. The intended recipient of the goods is entitled to receive with the goods a copy of the consignment note against which to check the nature, quantity and condition of the goods on receipt. Thus the consignment note is the basis for claims for compensation for loss, damage or delay in carriage. For these reasons, section 7 of the Bill contains protective provisions for consignment notes. I am sure that this House will readily agree to them.

The convention also establishes the liability of carriers for loss or damage or delay to goods and sets a limit on that liability — up to approximately £7,000 per metric tonne — except where a higher value for the goods or a special interest in delivery is declared in the consignment note. Wilful misconduct by the carrier would preclude him from limiting his liability under the convention.

The convention also specifically frees carriers from any liability arising in specified circumstances such as, for example, where there was wrongdoing or neglect by the person claiming compensation, or there were special agreed risks, such as the use of unsheeted vehicles, or the carriage of goods originally subject to wastage, desiccation and other similar factors affecting the quantity or quality of the goods.

The basic liability limit would apply if the value of the goods damaged or lost was equal to or exceeded that limit. While the basic liability limit in the convention may be somewhat higher than the liability limit which applies at present under contract to some international carriage of goods by road to or from the state, it is not expected that the higher limit would necessarily increase costs for either carriers or their customers. For example, insurance premia payable by a carrier would, essentially, reflect the carrier's risk status, a matter over which he would have direct control.

Liability limits higher than the basic limit specified in the convention may, of course, be agreed to by the parties concerned on payment of an agreed surcharge to the carrier. Thus, the convention contains comprehensive and flexible provisions for the establishment of any liability which a carrier may have for loss, damage or delay to the goods in question and for deciding on any compensation payable therefor.

Uniquely, the 1956 Protocol of Signature to the Convention agreed to by the State and the United Kingdom but not signed by them, provided that the convention should not apply to carriage solely between the State and the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland. The apparent reason for this exceptional non-application was to avoid any additional burden for hauliers concerned. Events since then have overtaken that exception which is clearly due for an end in the internationalisation of trade and completion of the EC Internal Market according to uniform rules.

The convention is applied on a voluntary basis to much carriage — notably of perishables — between the State and the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, and from a legal viewpoint should be formalised by legislation. Section 9 (2) (b) of the Bill enables this to be done from such date, after the Bill is enacted, as is agreed with the United Kingdom authorities who will need to bring their law into line in this respect.

The other states party to the convention and the Secretary-General of the United Nations will be notified when that is done. Support for that course of action and for the Bill generally has been received from representative organisations of Irish hauliers and the United Kingdom authorities have raised no objection.

The House may be surprised to learn that the convention was amended only once, by the 1978 Protocol, to substitute modern monetary values for francs in the basic liability limit in the convention as orginally agreed in 1956. This is certainly proof of its continuing usefulness. However, completion of the EC Internal Market and the opening of markets in central and eastern Europe may well prompt consideration of adapting the convention as a basis for uniform rules to govern carriage of goods by road, for example, cabotage, which at present is outside the convention and therefore subject to differing requirements from state to state even those party to the convention. Accordingly, the views of representative organisations of Irish hauliers have been sought in the matter and are awaited.

As regards cabotage, that is operators from one state being allowed to engage also in the carriage of goods wholly within another state, a limited form of cabotage involving quotas will operate in EC member states as from 1 July 1990. Ireland has a quota of 585 two-monthly authorisations for the year to 30 June 1991 and the Department of Tourism and Transport will be seeking applications for such authorisations from hauliers in due course. This will provide additional opportunities for Irish hauliers to expand their operations and reduce empty running of vehicles which is unavoidable under present EC legislation.

Additional benefits stem from the continuing liberalisation of European road transport via increases in multilateral authorisations available to Irish hauliers in both EC and ECMT states. There are ongoing discussions at EC Council level to agree increases in EC multilateral quotas up to 1993 when all such quotas will be abolished. In addition, Ireland has bilateral road transport agreements in operation with nine EC states — that is except Spain and Portugal — and also with four non-EC states, all of whom are party to CMR — Finland, Norway, Sweden and Yugoslavia. Negotiations are well advanced with Spain, Portugal and Czechoslovakia and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has expressed interest in such an agreement — all of these states too, already are party to CMR. The agreements allow hauliers to obtain the necessary permits from their own national authorities rather than from the authorities of the other states in the absence of an agreement. Ireland's accession to CMR should, therefore, prove advantageous.

The step being taken for accession to the convention are a further sign of Ireland's commitment to full participation in international transport for the benefit of Irish transport and other business. Ireland's legislation to implement the Agreement on the International Carriage Perishable Foodstuffs, also devised under the aegis of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, came into force on 22 March 1989, while the Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1988, enabled the State to ratify amendments to the 1929 Warsaw Convention on the Carriage of Goods, Persons and Baggage by Air on 27 June 1989. The clear objective of that legislation and this Bill, in particular, is to help develop the international business of Irish transport undertakings. I accordingly commend the Bill to the House.

Ba mhaith liom fáilte a chur roimh an Aire Stáit, an Teachta Fahey, sna cainteanna seo faoi iompar earraí ó thíortha éagsúla go dtí an tír seo. Cuirim fáilte romhat féin, ar ais ó na Stáit Aontaithe, a Leas-Chathaoirligh, agus tá súil agam gur thaitin do thuras leat chomh maith. Tá mise ar nós an Aire Stáit anseo: mar a dúirt sé, tá sé ag feidhmiú don Aire nach bhfuil in ann bheith i láthair. An fear a bhí leagtha amach le caint a dhéanamh faoin mBille seo ón taobh seo againne, tá sé sin as an tír freisin agus caithfidh mise a áit a thógáil.

Ag léamh an Bhille mar atá sé curtha os ár gcomhair anseo, feictear domsa gur rud an-dlíthiúil é, gur rud é a bhaineann le cúrsaí fheidhmiú dlí. Is rud é an Bille seo, de réir mar atá léite agam, go bhfuil glactha leis cheana féin ag breis is dhá scór tír, agus i measc na dtíortha siúd tá tíortha uilig an Chomhargaidh. Is dócha, ar an gcuntar sin, go bhfuil sé fíorthábhachtach don tír seo, os rud é go bhfuilimid mar bhallstát den Chomhargadh, go mbeimis ag tacaíocht agus go mbeimis páirteach sa CMR. Sa chéad abairt a thug an tAire Stáit dúinn dúirt sé, go bunúsach, gur rud teicniúil atá i gceist anseo. An teicniúlacht a bhaineann leis an mBille, tá sé cruthaithe go láidir tríd na blianta.

De réir mar a thuigim agus mar a fheicim, tugadh isteach an Bille seo sna caogadaí, i 1956 nó mar sin. Ní rud as an nua é, ní smaoineamh nua é do na tíortha a bhí páirteach ann go dtí seo. Ach dar ndóigh, tá sé nua don tír seo sa mhéid nach rabhamar páirteach ann, agus tá sé anois i gceist againn mar thír dul isteach sa CMR. Is dócha go bhféadfaí a rá, go dtí gur tháingeamar isteach sa Chomhargadh, gurbh é an cumas tráchtála, nó gnó na tráchtála is mó a bhí ar bun againn, idir sinne agus an Ríocht Aontaithe. Bhí an chuid is mó de na hearraí sin á n-iompar idir an tír seo agus an Ríocht Aontaithe agus feicim, dá, bharr sin, go raibh socrú speisialta ann do dhá thír a bhí gar dá chéile, go bhfuil sé fós ann go dlíthiúil agus go mbeidh sé ann go dtí go mbeidh an Bille nua seo dulta tríd an Dáil agus glactha ag an Seanad. Is céim chun tosaigh é sin sa mhéid go mbeimid clúdaithe anois, de bharr forála an Bhille seo, ó thaobh árachais de agus ó thaobh cúitimh de, má bhíonn ceist chúitimh ann, má chailltear earraí nó má dhéantar dochar dóibh nó má ghoidtear iad.

Is cosúil go rabhamar clúdaithe go réasúnta maith de réir an tsocraithe a bhí i bhfeidhm idir muid agus an Ríocht Aontaithe. Tugann an Bille seo scóp breise dúinn, go mbeimid leathnaithe amach, ní amháin ar fud na hEorpa ach ar fud go leor tíortha eile. Cuireann sé cineál iontais orm, ag léamh tríd an mBille seo dom, nach bhfuil tada ráite faoi na Stáit Aontaithe. Níl a fhios agam. cad é an fáth atá leis sin. Thosaigh an rud seo san Eoraip agus is dócha go mbaineann sé go príomhdha leis an Eoraip. De réir mar a fheicim sa Bhille, b'fhéidir go bhfuil dul amú orm, ní léir go bhfuil na Stáit Aontaithe luaite mar thír go mbeadh suim aici nó plé aici leis an reachtaíocht nó an convention áirithe seo.

Tugann sé siar abhaile muid i dtosach, go bhfeicimid muid féin mar thír, agus go bhfeicimid an cineál córais atá againn faoi láthair. Tá súil agam go gcuirfidh an Bille seo barr feabhais agus an-smacht ar chúrsaí aistir agus ar chúrsaí iompar earraí, ní amháin ó thíortha éagsúla, ach freisin sa tír seo i geoitinne. Feicim freisin sa Bhille seo gur féidir na hearraí atá i gceist a iompar ar bhóithre, ar thraenacha, ar bháid nó fiú ar eitleáin, ach tá coinníoll amháin ann nach bhfuil feiliúnach, dar liomsa, go gcaithfidh an rud áirithe bheith ar dheis iompair ar nós leoraí nó veain nó rud éigin den chineál sin. Le cás ansimplí a dhéanamh, má tá inneall nó rud éigin eile le hiompar go práinneach, abair go hOileáin Árann, d'fhéadfadh sé tarlú go dtiocfadh sé chomh fada le Gaillimh ar leoraí agus ansin gurbh éigean an t-ualach sin a bhriseadh síos mar go raibh sé rómhór le dul ar eitleán. Mar atá a fhios againn uilig, is eitleán an-bheag atá ag freastal idir Gaillimh agus Árainn, eitleán nach bhfuil ach naoi suíochán ann. Tá sé ag déanamh freastail an-mhaith ar mhuintir Árann ó thaobh earraí a sheachadadh go dtí na hoileáin sin. Ach, cuir i gcás go raibh deantúsaíocht ar siúl agus earraí le hiompar ó Árainn, de réir an Bhille seo ní fhéadfaí an t-ualach a bhriseadh ar aon bhealach le cuid de a chur ar eithieán nó ar bhád beag. Tá sé ceart go leor againne bheith ag caint faoi dhul chun cinn anseo ach caithfidh an dul chun cinn sin bheith le feiceáil do chuile áit agus do chuile dhuine sa tír.

Mar shampla, bhí iarracht á déanamh ag trí Oileáin Árann le blianta fada anuas le go mbeadh seirbhís cheart farantóireachta ann, seirbhís a dtugtar roll-on, roll-off uirthi. Dá mbeadh an tseirbhís sin anois, mar a bhí molta a muintir Oileáin Árann, ag CIÉ agus ag daoine eile a tugadh isteach leis an cheist seo a chíoradh agus le comhairle a chur orthu, bheadh ciall le CMR i gcás áite scoite amach ar nós thrí Oileáin Árann. Bheadh deis ag an leoraí nó an veain nó cibé deis a bheadh ann leis na hearraí seo a iompar gan an cargo a bhriseadh, mar tá sé ráite go speisialta anseo, gur féidir úsáid a bhaint as an bhfarraige nó as an traein nó fiú amháin as canálacha fad is nach mbrisfí an t-ualach síos ina gcodanna.

Sin é an locht a fheicimse, go bunúsach, agus mé ag léamh tríd an mBille. Dar ndóigh, feiceann daoine rudaí a oireann dóibh féin, agus tá mé cinnte go bhfeicfidh lucht iompair na n-earraí seo, na hauliers, rudaí áirithe freisin a dhéanfaidh maith dóibh, a thabharfaidh cúnamh dóibh, ach b'fhéidir freisin nach dtabharfaidh mótán cúnaimh dóibh agus a bheidh mar chonstaic orthu. Nach é an trua é nach bhfuil an Rialtas in ann a chinntiú go bhféadfaí an Bille seo a fheidhmiú ar son mhuintir uilig na hÉireann, ní ar son mhuintir Bhaile Atha Cliath amháin, na Gaillimhe, Chorcaí nó Luimnigh amháin, nó áit ar bith eile. Tóg, mar shampla Oileáin Árann, Oileán Cléire i gCorcaigh, tá deiseanna acu siúd agus tá báid acu; agus Oileán Thoraí, nach féidir dul isteach ann ach fíor chorruair i rith na bliana — níl aon éifeacht, beag ná mór, sa Bhille seo maidir leis na hoileáin sin. Déantar dearmad ar na hoileáin nuair a bhíonn reachtaíocht de chineál ar bith á cur le chéile. Ar ndóigh, is seanseéal é sin.

Seo cás eile sa Bhille seo. Dá mbeadh seirbhís cheart farantóireachta ag Oileáin Árann, bheadh fáilte roimh an mBille seo ag muintir na Gaeltachta agus ag muintir Arann. Is cinnte go ndéanfaidh sé maitheas don tír, ach nach cuid den tír iad freisin na hoileáin? Ba mhaith liom a iarraidh ar an Aire aird a thabhairt ar a bhfuil á rá agam faoi na hoileáin, féachaint an bhféadfaí aon chuid den Bhille seo a leasú agus nach gcuirfeadh. costas ar an Stát é a leasú. D'fhéadfaí úsáid a bhaint as aerthaisteal, taisteal ar iarnród, ar na canálacha intíre agus thar farraige go dtí na hoileáin, agus, go heisceachtúil, d'fhéachfaí córas a chur ar bun mura bhfuil an Stát in achmhainn roll-on, roll-off a thabhairt do na hoileáin. Ar a laghad, sa Bhille seo ba cheart eisceachtúileacht bheith ag baint le seachadadh earraí den chineál seo, mar, tar éis an tsaoil, tá 1,500 duine ar thrí Oileáín Árann. Tá monarcha leictreonach ar Inis Mór agus monarcha cniotála ar Inis Meáin.

Ba mhaith linn uilig go mbeadh seribhís ar na hoileáin, mar is iad Oileáin Árann dlúth agus inneach, spiorad agus croí chultúr na hÉireann. Is dona liom nach bhfuilimid in ann rud éigin a dhéanamh dóibh sa Bhille seo a thabharfadh seans dóibh amach anseo. B'fhéidir nach bhfuil sé ann anois, ach cá bhfios dúinne tar éis deich nó scór bliana eile nach dtiocfaidh rudaí ar an saol a chuirfidh faoi ndear do mhuintir na dtrí n-oileán sin dul chun cinn go heacnamúil ach seirbhís mar seo bheith acu. Faoi láthair níl sé ann, agus is locht é ar an mBille nach mar sin atá sé. Táimid ag caint freisin faoin imeacht ó na hoileáin. Táimid ag caint faoin tír uilig arís anseo, agus táimid ag caint faoi sheachadadh earraí ó chuile chearn den tír, ó thíortha eile, ó cheithre cinn is fiche de thíortha eile.

Tá faitíos orm arís nach bhfuil mórán céille leis an mBille seo i gcomhthéacs Chonamara agus iarthar na tíre i gcoitinne, ó Dhún na nGall go Ciarraí. An chéad riachtanas atá le bheith ann le go mbeadh éifeacht leis an mBille seo ná go mbeadh bóithre ann. Feicim go bhfuil airgead agus cúnamh le fáil ón EC do bhóithre na tíre seo. Chonaic mé blianta ó shin go raibh network de bhóithre an EC agus go raibh cúnamh mór le fáil ón mBruiséal do na bóithre seo, le go mbeadh siad éasca agus ceart agus feiliúnach do na juggernauts agus do 'chuile shórt atá thíos sa Bhille seo d'iompar earraí. Tá sin go deas, tá sé inmholta. Is mór an rud é go bhfuil a leithéid ann agus cuirimid na mílte fáilte roimhe. Ach céard a tharlóidh arís don Bhille seo nuair a thiocfaidh an fear chomh fada le Gaillimh nó Béal an Átha nó Sligeach, agus innealra ar cheann de na leoraithe móra seo? Tá sé in ann socrú a dhéanamh faoi árachas, chaillteanas, bhriseadh, ghoid, faoi rud ar bith eile a tharlóidh don lucht sin, fad is nach mbristear síos an t-ualach, fad is a bhaíntear cuid den ualach amach agus é a chur isteach i gceann eile.

Tóg an sampla go bhfuil an fear ag iarraidh dul go Béal a' Mhuirthead agus nach bhfuil an bóthar sách maith le go dtiocfadh an juggernaut mór seo ann. An mbeadh an bóthar sách láidir le go mbeadh sé ann an meáchan mór seo a iompar. Níl mé ag caint anois faoi rud áiféiseach, beag nó, mór, támé ag caint faoi lom na fírinne, agus chonaic mé ag tarlú é. Ní fhaca mé é ag tarlú i gcás Bhéal a' Mhuirthid ach tá mé cinnte go bhfuil sé chomh fíor d'áit ar nós Maigh Eo agus atá sé d'áit ar bith thiar i gConamara. Is é an pointe atá á dhéanamh agam ná, in iarthar na tíre táimid buailte. Is beag maith agus is beag éifeacht agus is beag toradh is féidir linne a bhaint as Bille den chineál seo, mar níl an infrastructúr ann len é a thógáil.

Cuireann sé i gcuimhne domsa an t-am a raibh Tomás Ó Dómhnaill ina Aire Gaeltachta. Ar achainí mhuintir Árainn Mhóir i nDún na nGall, tar éis go leor comhchainte agus comhphléite, fuair sé bád dóibh. "Misneach" ab ainm dó, bád breá mór le paisinéirí agus earraí a iompar go dtí an t-oileán. Ar chead an Rialtais d'ordaigh sé an bád agus tugadh do mhuintir an oileáin é ach, mo léan géar, nuair a bhí an bád acu ní raibh aon chéibh ar an oileán le go dtiocfadh an bád isteach ann. Mar sin, cuireann an Bille seo i gcuimhne dom an eachtra sin, go bhfuilimid ag déanamh réiteach faoi chuile shórt anseo ó thaobh iompar earraí do chuile chuid den tír, ach amháin na hoileáin, agus níl an Comhphobal sásta an t-airgead sin a chur ar fáil.

Tabharfaidh mé sampla eile don Seanad chun a thaispeáint an locht agus an laige atá sa Bhille sin ó thaobh mhuintir an iarthair de. Tá sé go breá anseo ar chóiste thoir na hÉireann; níl trioblóid ar bith ann faoi. Tá duganna acu, tá deiseanna maithe bóithre acu, tá chuile shórt maith go leor mar sin. Ach muidne san iarthar, táimid buailte. Tóg mar shampla, an tionscal fheirmeoireacht éisc in iarthar na tíre. Tharla sé anuraidh nuair a bhí na héisc bheaga seo, ar a dtugtar smolch, á n-iompar le cur amach sna cages, bhí an bóthar chomh dona sin nach bhféadfadh leoraí dul ann. B'éigean don chomhlacht héalacaptair a fháil le iad a iompar, le iad a chur ar na feirmeacha éisc. Más amhlaidh atá an scéal ansin, mar sin, cén chaoi a bhféadfadh aon éifeacht bheith le Bill den chineál seo i gcomhthéacs iarthar na tíre. Tá fáilte roimh an mBille sa mhéid go bhfuil sé le muid a thabhairt isteach i measc na dtíortha uilig atá luaite anseo. Is maith an rud ann é, ach is é an trua é freisin, ag an am céanna, nár féachadh chuige go mbeidh an Bunreacht á chomhlíonadh, is é sin go mbeadh a sciar ceart féin le fáil ag chuile shaoránach sa tír seo in aon imeachtaí a bhíonn ar bun ó thaobh imeachtaí Stáit de.

Táimid ag cur deise ar fáil do chuid áirithe den tír agus nílimid in ann nó sásta an bhundheis a thabhairt don chuid eile. Nílimid ag iarraidh go bhfaighidh muintir an iarthair aon rud aisteach nó aon rud mór nó aon rud costasach. Táimid ag caint faoi bhunriachtanais — Transport of goods by road, " atá ráite anseo. Sin í an cheist atá ann. An pointe atá á dhéanamh agamsa ná go bhfuil sé fíordheacair rudaí a iompar ar bhóthar mura bhfuil bóthar ann lena n-aghaidh. Ach é sin uilig ráite, tá súil agam freisin go mbeidh an Stát agus Iarnród Éireann nó lucht iompair earraí, na hauliers, seo go léir. Dála an scéil, nuair a bhí mé ag éisteacht leis an Aire ansin ag caint faoi na hauliers agus ag rá go bhfuiltear ag fanacht lena gcuid tuairimí a fháil, nach aisteach an rud é nárbh fhéidir a gcuid tuairimí a fháil sular cuireadh an Bille seo os comhair na Dála. Abair, dá mbeadh tuairimí ag lucht iompair earraí don tír seo, ag na hauliers seo, agus dá mbeadh rud éigin ann go bhféadfaí a chur isteach sa Bhille, nach mbeadh sé an-deacair é a dhéanamh agus an reachtaíocht dulta tríd. Go hiondúil, nuair a bhíonn Bille ag dul os comhair na Dála nó os comhair an tSeanaid, tugtar cuireadh do dhaoine a bhfuil suim acu a dtuairimí a chur le chéile, iad a chur os comhair na Dála nó an choiste atá ag plé leis an ábhar. Ach sa chás seo, is é an rud atá ráite ná go bhfuilimid ag fanacht. Is beag an mhaith tuairimí a fháil ó na hauliers má tá an Bille dulta tríd, agus é deireanach le haon athrú a dhéanamh. B'fhéidir go ndéarfar liomsa anseo nach féidir aon rud a athrú mar nach bhfuil anseo ach rud teicniúil á chur i bhfeidhm. Más rud teicniúil é, maith go leor. Más féidir athrú a dhéanamh ar an rud teicniúil, a chuirfidh ar a chumas an rud bheith rite níos fearr sa tír seo, ba chóir freisin éisteacht a thabhairt dó sin.

Táimid ag caint faoi Iarnród Éireann agus Fastrack. Tá earraí sa chás sin clúdaithe ó thaobh árachais de, go dtí sráid áirithe, ar mhéid áirithe, chostas áirithe. Ach fuair mé féin rud an-suimiúil amach le deireanas. Bhí mé ag cur beart de leabhair le chéile le cur go dtí Port Laoise, agus, ar ndóigh, is é an chéad smaoineamh a tháinig isteach i mo chloigeann iad a chur ar Fastrack. Fuair mé amach an praghas agus díreach ag an am céanna cheap mé gurbh fhiú ceist a chur ar An Post an bhféadfaí iad a chur mar sin. Ní amháin go bhfuair mé amach go bhféadfaí, ach go bhféadfaí é a dhéanamh níos sciobtha agus ar leathoiread den chostas agus a bhí Iarnród Éireann ag baint amach.

Tá ráite anseo sa Bhille go bhfuil sé clúdaithe, ó thaobh árachais de, ar chuile chineál bealaí go dtí luach áirithe agus go bhfuil rudaí anseo freisin le cosaint a dhéanamh má dhéantar rudaí a ghoid nó a thógáil ar an mbealach, in transit, mar a deirtear. Ag críochnú an méid a bhí le rá ag an Aire Stáit i leith an Air Navigation and Transport Act i 1988, agus an Warsaw Convention on Carriage of Goods, Persons and Baggage by Air, 1929, go bhfuil sé sin leasaithe chun é a thabhairt suas chun dáta. Tá súil agam go seasfaidh na barántais in aghaidh chaillteanais, in aghaidh bhriste, ghadaíochta agus mhillteanas iompair earraí, níos deimhní, níos leithne agus níos siúráilte faoi CMR ná mar atá faoin Warsaw Convention, 1929, a leasaíodh i 1989.

Bhí mé ag plé le cásanna aerthaistil. Tá aithne agam ar dhuine a thóg eitleán ón tír seo go Londain, ó Londain go Kuwait agus nuair a shroich sí ceannscríbe — baintreach a bhí inti — chuile shórt a bhain léi ar an saol, trí mhála iomlána, ní rabhadar le fáil. Chuaigh sí láithreach go dtí an oifig agus líon sí foirmeacha áirithe, agus, de réir m'eolais, ní raibh na daoine san oifig ródheas léi. Tharla sin cúig bliana ó shin agus tá sí fós gan mhálaí. Ní amháin go raibh sí gan mhálaí, ach tá sí fós gan chúiteamh. Sin an pointe atá agamsa anseo. Chuamar trí Aer Lingus, trí Heathrow, trí Kuwait, na dreamanna seo go léir atá bainteach leis an Warsaw Convention.

Dúradh linn go raibh sí clúdaithe go hidirnáisiúnta agus tá mé ag glacadh leis gurbh shin an clúdú a bhí acu. Nach aisteach nach raibh an bhaintreach óg sin in ann a cuid málaí a fháil ar ais agus nuair nach raibh siad le fáil ar ais, nach bhfuil sé níos aistí fós nach raibh sí in ann cúiteamh a fháil. Sin an fáth go gcuireann sé drogall orm faoin mBille seo. Tá sé ráite sa Bhille seo agus sa Warsaw Convention na bealaí agus na hócáidí gur féidir cúiteamh a iarraidh agus cúiteamh a fháil. Ach nuair a tháinig sé go dtí an t-am ní raibh sé le fáil.

Mar sin, níl a fhios cad é an chosaint a bheidh ag hauliers agus ag daoine a bheidh ag iompar earraí faoi CMR, más rud é go bhfuil an chosaint chomh hard agus chomh maith sin san Bhille teicniúil seo, tá súil agam go n-éireoidh leis, ach níor mhaith liom go mbeadh sé lochtach mar atá an Warsaw Convention ó thaobh iompar earraí ar aer, ar chaoi ar bith.

Anois, é sin ráite, is cinnte go dtabharfaidh an Bille seo misneach dúinn uilig, agus go tabharfaidh sé misneach do lucht déantúsaíochta, lucht eacnamaíochta, agus daoine atá ag iarraidh earraí a iompar ó áit amháin go háit eile, ó thír amháin go tír eile. Sa lá atá inniu ann, agus muid ag dul isteach i 1992, nuair a bheidh chuile shórt saormhargaí ann, agus go leor de na barriers seo titithe, tá sé fíorthábhachtach go mbeidh muidne mar chuid den rud seo, agus is trua liom nach rabhamar mar sin go dtí seo.

Mar fhocal scoir, cuirim fáilte roimh an mBille sa mhéid is go mbeimid anois páirteach i rud idirnáisiúnta ceart ó thaobh iompar earraí de. Cuirim fáilte roimh na buntáistí a bheidh le fáil ag muintir na hÉireann as an Bhille seo. Ba mhaith liom go ndéanfadh an tAire a fhiosrú an féidir bheith cinnte go mbeidh an Bille seo in ann freastal ar mhuintir uilig na hÉireann, muintir an iarthair go speisialta agus muintir na n-oileán. Cibé rud atá le déanamh leis an reachtaíocht seo a chur ag gníomhú, tá súil agam go ndéanfar é sin, agus go mbeidh lucht iompair nó na hauliers tugtha san áireamh agus go mbeidh sé sin le feiceáil sa Bhille.

The Bill may be mainly a technical one but, given the prospect of 1992 and expanding markets, it is important to have a basis for agreement and rules in relation to the transportation of goods. It is somewhat surprising that we seem to have been bottom of the list in signing the convention. The convention applies to 24 countries and we seem to have been the last country in the EC to sign it. I do not know why there has been such a delay. The Minister might discuss that at a later stage. It is well overdue that rules should be brought in and that there should be a consensus. As markets continue to open up and as goods are transported both from and to this country, there will be benefits to both Irish people and to hauliers. This underlines the importance of having rules and regulations and a common approach. It is important that this agreement should be in force throughout all the countries and that we have set principles. Up to this, Irish law would have been ambiguous in regard to what might be decided. The fact is that goods of various descriptions are being transported on a daily basis throughout the country and throughout the EC. It is important that the market be protected and that people's rights be protected.

It is also important that we look at the question of damaged goods or of dangerous substances being transported and the procedures that are applied. We have seen lorries come in and out of various ports such as Dublin, Dún Laoghaire and Rosslare and at times one wonders if anyone really knows what is being carried in these vehicles and if there are any regulations in relation to them. While this Bill deals mainly with aspects of liability, further questions can be asked if there are sufficent regulations as to what is being transported. There is the worry of accidents occurring with flammable goods being transported and there is the question of toxic goods leaking and this has to be addressed also.

It is important that all of these matters be looked at. I think there has been only one amendment to the convention. It is a matter that should be looked at on an ongoing basis as more and more goods are being shipped either to or from this country. There should be regulations as to what type of goods should be carried and whether they should be carried at a certain stage. We have seen the effect of juggernauts going through our towns and cities. One cannot be happy with the regulations governing the transportation of these goods.

When one considers the expanding European market it is important that all these matters be adressed. Specific rules and penalties should be applied to people who are convicted of any offences and the rules should be vigorously enforced. We are all aware that there should be better regulations as to how these lorries are operated, such as having better lighting and the manner in which they are parked. These may be minor things but if we do not get the smaller things right it is unlikely we will get the larger ones right.

In dealing with insurance claims there should be uniform rules. It is to be hoped that when the courts are examining situations there will be a common approach and that they will look at all that has happened.

This Bill is of a technical nature. I would like to know when it is hoped that it will be in operation. It is important that there be agreement between both the senders and the carriers and what liability shipping lines or other lines are going to have. It is very important that full recognition be given to all aspects of it.

It is a Bill that should act as a catalyst towards further review, particularly in relation to how goods are being transported and how goods are insured. It is also important that, with regard to goods of a perishable nature or goods which could have a damaging effect, there should be certain special rules as to how such goods are transported, certain conditions laid down and that advance notice and warnings are given before such goods are transported.

I support the Bill. I would ask the Minister to indicate in his reply what steps are being taken to ensure that when toxic goods or other substances are being transported special rules or regulations will apply.

First, I welcome the International Carriage of Goods by Road Bill, 1990, which as the Minister said, is essentially of a technical nature. It is designed to give the force of law in the State to the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road.

The schedule to the Bill contains the text of the Convention and the 1978 Protocol thereto. A detailed explanatory memorandum was published with the Bill. The Minister said that the Convention also establishes liability of carriers for loss, damage or delay of goods and sets a limit on that liability up to approximately £7,000 per metric tonne, except where higher value for the goods or a special interest in delivery is declared in the consignment.

The Minister also referred to road cabotage, and here I believe the Irish Hauliers' Association had made a number of submissions. It is with regard to operators from one State being allowed to engage in the carriage of goods wholly within another State that a limited form of cabotage in involving quotas will operate in the EC member state as and from 1 July 1990.

It is accepted that this Bill is long overdue and now that it is going through and the Irish Road Hauliers' Association having made a number of submissions in connection with problems they have here at home, I would like to see the Minister redressing that situation as soon as possible.

Ar dtús ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil leis na Seanadóirí a chuir fáilte roimh an Bille seo. Is Bille teicniúil é, mar a dúirt mé i dtosach inniu. Aontaím leo san a mhol go mbeadh an Stát seo páirteach go hiomlán sa Convention CMR chomh luath agus is féidir é. Caithfidh an Bille seo bheith ina dhlí chun socruithe is gá a dhéanamh sa treo sin. Feicim go bhfuil an Seanadóir Ó Foighil imithe. Bhí mé chun freagra as Gaeilge a thabhairt dó ar na pointi áirithe a chuir sé chun cinn, ach os rud é go bhfuil sé imithe athróidh mé go Béarla.

I would like to thank the Senators who have made a contribution on this Bill. As I said at the outset, it is a technical Bill and while undoubtedly it raises in our minds many practical questions with regard to many aspects of road transport in which we are all interested, they do not have any direct association with this Bill. However, I would like to refer to some of the issues that have been raised in the various contributions.

At the outset, Senator Ó Foighil mentioned a number of aspects in regard to transport to the islands and so on. As Members are aware, the Minister recently made an announcement in regard to the development of new transport services to the Aran Islands in particular, which was mentioned by Senator Ó Foighil, and there are at present plans under consideration and as soon as they have been received by the Minister he certainly will be moving to deal with that problem.

The question of moving goods to Europe in the most efficient way was also raised by Senator Ó Foighil. There again this matter is not directly related to the Bill. However, the question is being undertaken not least by the Minister for Tourism and Transport but also by the Minister for the Environment in association with the National Roads Authority. Also, it is fair to say, that significant progress is being made in that respect.

Senator Ó Foighil mentioned the general problems of the islands and I would like also to state that the inter-ministerial committee studying island problems, which has not been in operation for some time now, and which I understand is to be put back into place, will undoubtedly study many of the transport areas mentioned. I would agree with Senator Ó Foighil that there is a necessity to ensure fairness all round in regard to transport provision in this country.

Senator Cosgrave mentioned the carriage of dangerous goods by road. This area is not the responsibility of the Minister for Tourism and Transport but rather of the Minister for Labour and the National Authority for Occupational Safety and Health by virtue of the powers under the Dangerous Substances Acts, 1972 and 1979. As Senators are aware, emergency preparations are ready in every local authority to deal with any case which may arise. I am satisfied that significant provision is made in that respect. However, it is a matter for the Minister for Labour rather than for the Minister for Tourism and Transport.

The delay in bringing forward the Bill which Senator Cosgrave has mentioned, can be explained by the fact that there has not been a major demand for the Bill in the past. There has not been a major or pressing need for Irish legislation to be put in place. However, as I have said, the growing internationalisation of transport and trade makes it necessary for us now to bring this Bill into law and, indeed, it has become rather urgent because Irish international hauliers need Irish law to be in line with the CMR. Other transport legislation has been brought into place by the Minister for Tourism and Transport in recent years which has added considerably to the development of transport, such as the Road Transport Act, 1986, which liberalised access to road haulage from 30 September 1988; the International Carriage of Perishable Goods Act, 1987, which enabled the State to accede to international agreements in this matter from 22 March 1989; and the Air Navigation and Transport Act, 1988, which enabled the State to ratify amendments to the 1929 Warsaw Convention on the Carriage of Goods by Air on the 27 June 1989. There has been progress made in that respect.

I would just like to say that the hauliers' associations have agreed with the Bill as it stands and their views are now awaited only in regard to modifying the CMR to cover non-international carriage of goods by road in future, and that process is in progress. That is in response to what Senator Foley had to say.

Once again, I would like to commend to the House that this Bill be passed and that we move to the Dáil.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Bill put through Committee, reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.
The Seanad adjourned at 12.12 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 3 April 1990.