Firstly, I would like to thank the Deputy for raising this issue here today. I know that the Deputy is very much aware of the issues surrounding this matter but for the consideration of the House, I would like to firstly outline some background to this issue.
Part 19 of the Local Government Act 2001 provides a general power to a local authority to make bye-laws in relation to its own property or services or to regulate matters of local concern. It is under this Act that local authorities can choose to regulate horse-drawn carriages that operate for hire or reward. Some local authorities develop bye-laws to licence horse-drawn carriages operating commercially. Through bye-laws, these local authorities set their own rules and stipulations to govern such operations.
In February 2011, Dublin City Council or DCC took over responsibility for the licensing of horse-drawn carriage operators and drivers from the Garda Carriage Office. DCC made bye-laws in the same year for the licensing of horse-drawn carriages. They made these bye-laws under the Local Government Act, 2001.
As the Deputy will be aware, my Department has had sight of a material suggesting that DCC has no legal basis to make such bye-laws and indicating that such powers may instead still rest under the Dublin Carriage Acts 1853, 1854 and 1855 with the Dublin Metropolitan Police Commissioners, to whom the Gardaí are the successors.
Since this older Dublin-specific legislation was not repealed, powers for licensing horse-drawn carriages in Dublin still exist in statute. This may mean that DCC may not be permitted to make bye-laws in this respect under the 2001 Act as bye-laws may not be made under that Act where powers exist elsewhere in legislation.
The Deputy previously raised this issue here in the House. As a first step however, my Department sought legal advice. Advice was very recently provided and an engagement with DCC and An Garda Síochána is on-going. If it is the case that Victorian legislation needs to be repealed, this will be done and, as a result, DCC will be able to use the Local Government Act 2001 to licence these horse-drawn carriages. Given the requirement for a period to prioritise Brexit-related legislative work over all other requests for legislative drafting, the Taxi Regulation (Amendment) (Rickshaw) Bill 2018 was only very recently assigned to a Parliamentary Counsel so that work on developing the draft Bill can now commence in earnest. Subject to the outcome of the requested legal advice, it may be that that Bill will be the vehicle with which to repeal this Victorian legislation and, following publication, It is my clear intention to progress the Bill through the Houses without delay.