Thursday, 5 November 1931
Dáil Éireann Debate
Sub-section (3).—Any expenses which are by virtue of this section to be defrayed out of the Road Fund may, with the sanction of the Minister for Finance, be paid directly out of the Road Fund, and any salary or remuneration of any person so paid directly out of the Road Fund shall for the purposes of the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1923, be deemed to be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.
Mr. S.T. O'Kelly: I move amendment 4—to delete sub-section (3). I am not quite sure what purpose this sub-section is intended to serve. It seems to be a strange sub-section to insert in the Bill. It removes from the purview of the House or anybody appointed by, or acting under, this House the expenses which come under this section. They will not appear in any estimate and there cannot be any examination at any later time of the expenditure. I should like to hear what the Minister has to say in explanation of the sub-section.
Minister for Local Government and Public Health (General Mulcahy): The sub-section is an adaptation of Section 4 of the Roads Act of 1920. The position generally under that Act is that certain sums can be paid out from the Road Fund to the county council, to the police and under sub-section (c) “such part of the expenses incurred by and in connection with the Roads Department of the Ministry of Transport, including the salaries of the staff of that Department, as the Minister from time to time, with the approval of the Treasury, determine to be expenses so incurred in the administration of this Act.”
The position generally with regard to that was that there was power to pay out of the Road Fund certain monies, including salaries, but the Roads Act of 1920 made no provision by which superannuation relative to the salaries so paid out would be payable from the Road Fund. This section reproduces the terms of Section 4 of the Roads Act, but simplifies accounting in certain respects. Officers of the Department of Local Government engaged on roads at present tend to do work proper to the Roads Department as contemplated in the Roads Act, that is work in connection with which the Road Fund is properly expended. They also tend to do other engineering work in connection with roads that are not part of the Road Fund. In practice officers, both clerical and engineering, of the Local Government Department engaged on roads are under the necessity to apportion their time between  Road Fund work and non Road Fund work. That is very difficult from the point of view of accounting and is very often inconvenient in the matter of general administration. For that reason we provide in Section 2 here that the Minister may pay a certain percentage of the Road Fund, decided upon between the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Local Government, in respect of the expenses that are properly attributable to the Road Fund—it may be the expenses of Guards of a certain class on point duty work, expenses in connection with prosecutions, expenses in connection with licences issued by county councils, and general work under different Ministries which is properly attributable to the Road Fund. So that a certain percentage may be arranged to cover all the expenditure of the different Departments. It is also provided that the superannuation of officers whose salaries are attributable to the Road Fund would also be payable out of the Exchequer, but out of the Exchequer from moneys contributed under the percentage of the Road Fund handed over to the Exchequer. Deputies will see that in sub-section (5) we make provision to delete sub-section (c) of Section 4 of the Roads Act which gives power for the payment of salaries of staff directly from the Road Fund. Section 3 is put into this particular Bill to retain the power which already exists under that sub-section (c), and which the Department of Finance desire to retain to pay the money out of the Road Fund.
Mr. Lemass: I think the Minister has missed the point of Deputy O'Kelly's query or else I misunderstood him. Sub-section (1) provides that these expenses are to be paid out of the Road Fund and says that for that purpose there shall be paid into the Exchequer from the Road Fund such sum as the Minister shall determine in consultation with the Minister for Finance. Sub-section (3) provides that this expenditure may be paid directly out of the Road Fund. There appears to be a certain conflict between the two. What we are anxious to get cleared up is, why it is desired that  this expenditure should be paid directly out of the Road Fund when provision has been made in sub-section (1) for the payment of the expenditure out of sums paid to the Exchequer from the Road Fund.
Mr. Moore: Will the Minister not give an idea of the circumstances under which it would be necessary to use the sub-section in question? Under what circumstances would it be convenient for the Minister for Finance to pay directly out of the Road Fund rather than transfer from the Road Fund to the Exchequer and pay from the general Exchequer? Is it anything more than merely an unnecessary elaboration of the law? Are there occasions when it will be an absolute necessity to have the power?
General Mulcahy: I have no proposal to make to the Minister for Finance for the operation of this section, but the Department of Finance desires to retain here in this Bill the power which they have under the 1920 Act.
Mr. Moore: Cannot the Minister give us any idea of the limit to which it will be used by the Minister for Finance or what proportion of the Road Fund will be so used? I think the Road Fund is at present £800,000 or £900,000 a year. Is the Minister for Finance likely to use this power to the extent of £200,000 or £500,000 or £800,000? This matter is very important because in so far as the Minister uses the power which this section gives him he can deprive the Public Accounts Committee of the chance of reviewing the expenditure which takes place. The Road Fund does not come under the Public Accounts Committee, consequently the Dáil will have no check on the expenditure of the Road Fund even to the extent of 90 per cent. of that Fund if the Minister for Finance  chooses to sanction that that proportion can be spent directly.
General Mulcahy: As I say, I have no proposal to make to the Minister for Finance in connection with this. The Minister for Finance desires to retain it because he has the power there already. I cannot imagine myself circumstances in which the Minister for Finance would desire to use it to the extent of anything like that. I cannot myself from my own particular point of view visualise circumstances in which the Minister would use it at all.
That power is not used at the present moment, but so far as taking any transaction like that from under review by the House, though it is true it would take transactions like that from review by the Public Accounts Committee, but not from the review of the Comptroller and Auditor-General to whom the Road Fund accounts are presented annually; nor would it take it from the review of the House here, because it is the practice to discuss the Road Fund and its administration on the Vote for the Minister for Local Government.
|Alton, Ernest Henry.
Beckett, James Walter.
Bennett, George Cecil.
Cole, John James.
Connolly, Michael P.
Cosgrave, William T.
Dolan, James N.
Doyle, Peadar Seán.
Duggan, Edmund John.
Egan, Barry M.
Fitzgerald, Desmond. Mongan, Joseph W.
Murphy, James E.
Murphy, Joseph Xavier.
Myles, James Sproule.
Nally, Martin Michael.
O'Donovan, Timothy Joseph.
O'Hanlon, John F.
Heffernan, Michael R.
Hogan, Patrick (Galway).
Kelly, Patrick Michael.
Law, Hugh Alexander.
Mathews, Arthur Patrick.
McFadden, Michael Og.
McGilligan, Patrick. O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
Redmond, William Archer.
Shaw, Patrick W.
Sheehy, Timothv (West Cork).
Thrift, William Edward.
Wolfe, Jasper Travers.
Cassidy, Archie J.
Corry, Martin John.
Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
De Valera, Eamon.
Gorry, Patrick J.
Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
Kent, William R.
Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick John.
Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
O'Connell, Thomas J.
O'Dowd, Patrick Joseph.
O'Kelly, Seán T.
Sheehy Timothy (Tipp.).
Ward, Francis C.
Mr. Lemass: Would it not be better if fees paid for public service vehicles were paid into the Road Fund?
General Mulcahy: All the fees paid with the exception of fees raised for parking attendants go into the Road Fund.
Mr. Lemass: What section is that?
General Mulcahy: Sub-section (2) says the fees will go into the Exchequer and sub-section (3) says they go into the Road Fund.
Sections 10 and 11 agreed to.
SECTION 12 ((3) and (7)).
(3) For the purposes of this Act a mechanically propelled vehicle shall be a light motor vehicle if and whenever and so long as it complies with all the following conditions, that is to say:—
(a) it is not a motor cycle; and
(b) where it is fitted with a body designed and constructed for the carriage of passengers, it does not exceed three tons in weight unladen or, where either it is fitted with a body not so constructed and designed or is not fitted with a body, it does not exceed one and one-half tons in weight unladen; and
(c) where it is fitted with a body designed and constructed for the carriage of passengers, it has not seating accommodation for more than six persons excluding the driver thereof; and
(d) it is supported exclusively  by wheels in direct contact with the ground; and
(e) it has all its wheels fitted with pneumatic tyres; and
(f) it is not being used for the traction of more than one other vehicle; and
(g) if and when it is used for the traction of another vehicle such other vehicle (so far as it is not supported by such mechanically propelled vehicle) is supported exclusively by wheels in direct contact with the ground and has all its wheels fitted with pneumatic tyres.
(7) Every order made under this section shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made, and if a resolution annulling such order is passed by either such House within the next subsequent twenty-one days on which that House has sat after such order is so laid before it, such order shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under such order.
Mr. Law: At this point I would like to ask you, sir, for a direction regarding this section. The Donegal County Council is very much interested, as the Minister is aware, regarding the maximum weight of vehicles allowed on the roads. They are objecting, amongst other things, to having the maximum weight two and a half tons. My own personal view of the matter is that the question can be more appropriately discussed on Section 14 which gives the Minister power to make regulations both generally and in relation to particular areas. If you, sir, concur I propose to raise it on that section.
An Ceann Comhairle: That is the section.
Mr. O'Kelly: I move:—In sub-section (3), (b) line 46 to delete the words “one and a half tons” and substitute therefor the words “two tons.” This amendment explains itself. The Bill mentions a maximum weight of one and a half tons for  vehicles of a certain character and we suggest that the maximum should be raised to two tons. I believe there is a feeling amongst proprietors of that class of vehicle that one and a half tons is too small.
Mr. Cassidy: I am opposed to the amendment and my reason for opposing it is that under this sub-section Deputy O'Kelly is dealing with light motor vehicles. It has to be taken into consideration that if the weight is increased from one and a half tons to two tons the road will be damaged to a much greater extent. As Deputy Law mentioned, the matter was under consideration by Donegal County Council and they registered an emphatic protest against the damage that was being done to the roads by heavy vehicles.
Mr. Lemass: I am afraid Deputy Cassidy does not understand the purport of the amendment. One and a half tons is mentioned in the Bill, for some reason that is not quite clear, seeing that the average light vehicle, such as the Ford ton truck weighs, I am informed, more than 30 cwts when unladen. The effect will be to class Ford ton trucks as heavy vehicles subject to the regulations for speed and otherwise that are imposed on heavy vehicles. This is a matter that affects a very large number of traders throughout the country because, of course, there can be no question that if the restrictions in respect of speed which apply to heavy lorries are to apply to Ford ton trucks the utility of these latter vehicles will be very considerably diminished. I cannot see how the driving of one of these Ford trucks at 30 miles an hour is any more dangerous at that speed than driving an ordinary Ford car which is built on the same chassis.
General Mulcahy: The point raised by Deputy Cassidy does not arise because a road or a set of roads can be closed to vehicles of two tons or say 35 cwts. and be open to everything under that weight, even though two different sets of vehicles might be classed as light vehicles. The only point that arises is the fact that the  figures retained in Section 12 are the figures operating at present and until this amendment was put down, as far as I know, there was no suggestion that the present figures were not satisfactory. The only question that occurs, as Deputy Lemass says, is that of speed. I have no objection to accepting the amendment making the figure two tons. I can assure Deputy Cassidy that the matter does not affect what he has in mind. Section 144 will show that.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. O'Kelly: I move:—
To delete sub-section (7) and substitute the following sub-section:—
“(7) Every order made under this section shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and shall not have effect until each House of the Oireachtas has by resolution authorised the making of such order with or without amendment of any of the proposed provisions of such order.”
The reason for this amendment is fairly obvious. I propose to make it positive so that a rule or order made under this sub-section should be submitted to the House and voted upon before being made law. The Bill proposes to do the same thing in a negative kind of way, that the order is to be laid before each House and if there is no objection, that it will come into effect. I think it would be better that every such order should be brought before the House. Of course the House would have an opportunity of dealing with it but the proposal in the amendment is more positive, as it brings the matter under the notice of the House and the public, and is preferable to what is suggested in the Bill.
General Mulcahy: As regards orders I agree with the Deputy on the general principle. There is a point in the amendment and I would ask that it be left out as a matter of procedure. The Deputy's amendment asks that the order shall be brought before the House and shall not have effect until a resolution is passed. I would undertake to change the section so that the order will have to come before the House and be approved of before it  comes into operation. A difficulty arises in connection with the amendment of an order in the House. If an order is not approved of it will be for the Minister to take cognisance of what has been said and to bring in an order that will be in concurrence with the wishes expressed. The Deputy has another amendment down giving the Minister power to annul an order. Under the Interpretation Act the Minister has power to make an order and has power to annual. I will undertake to look into the matter.
Mr. Moore: Would not the Minister give the Dáil power to make an amendment which might be an agreed amendment?
General Mulcahy: If it is an agreed amendment the procedure is to produce a new order.
Amendment by leave withdrawn.
Mr. Lemass: On the section, I merely wish the Minister to tell us the considerations which led him to depart from the recommendations of the inter-Departmental Committee with respect to the maximum weight of light motor vehicles. The Committee suggested two and a half tons and the Bill states three tons. I wish to know what were the considerations which induced the Minister to depart from the Report.
General Mulcahy: It was found that there were new cars on the road, passenger-carrying vehicles, whose weight was more than two and a half tons.
Mr. Davin: How many?
General Mulcahy: There were different types. The desire is that the ordinary private car shall be capable of being classed as a light motor vehicle.
Section 12, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Sub-section (4) and (6).
(4) Every person who uses a mechanically propelled vehicle in contravention of this section or who draws a vehicle by means of a  mechanically propelled vehicle in contravention of this section or does any act (whether of commission or omission) which is a contravention of a regulation made under this section shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding ten pounds.
(6) Every regulation made under this section shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made, and if a resolution annulling such regulation is passed by either such House within the next subsequent twenty-one days on which that House has sat after such regulation is so laid before it, such regulation shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done under such regulation.
Mr. O'Kelly: I move amendment No. 7:—
Before sub-section (4) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
“Nothing in the foregoing sub-section shall operate to prevent the removal from one place to another for the purpose of repairs or alterations of vehicles which do not comply with the regulations made under this section.”
I do not know whether there is any provision anywhere else in the Bill— there is not so far as I have seen—in respect to the matter for which this amendment seeks to provide. It seeks to provide that a vehicle that could not perhaps be brought under its own power to a place where repairs can be carried out can be moved. I think that there should be some arrangement under the Bill by which a car in that condition can be moved from one place to another.
General Mulcahy: This is an amendment which I will place in the third class, which I mentioned yesterday. I do not agree with it because of its being so wide. I think it opens the door too wide so that persons who are found without any brakes on their  vehicles might say that they were on the way to the repair shop to have them repaired or to get something altered. If the Deputy thinks that there should be such a wide provision as this, and if he would put down his amendment for the Report Stage I will have the matter considered to see to what extent the smaller point which he has in mind might be met.
Mr. Moore: Does the Minister admit that this is the position as the section stands, that where a vehicle happens to get on a public roadway, if it does not comply with the regulations and is detected, the section prevents it from being moved from the place where it is detected to a garage? For instance, if a road inspector of any sort, whether a member of the Gárda or otherwise, points out that the regulations have not been complied with, it then becomes unlawful to move the vehicle on any public highway. It might be necessary to have the vehicle moved in order to get the defects, which have got the owner into trouble, remedied.
General Mulcahy: I have to consider whether the section is so tightly drawn as to deal with that. Deputies will realise at any rate that certain precautions are necessary even if you only impose a speed limit or the carrying of some kind of sign in the case of a car which has a serious defect. I have to consider whether the section is so tightly drawn as the Deputy suggests. I appreciate the point which Deputy O'Kelly has raised.
Mr. Moore: Would the Minister not undertake to introduce an amendment of his own?
Mr. Davin: The Minister talks of the possibility of having an amendment submitted on the Report Stage. Do I take that to mean that the Minister is not going to have a second Committee Stage?
An Ceann Comhairle: It will be called the Report Stage no matter what he intends to have.
General Mulcahy: We will go into Committee on the Report Stage.
Amendment by leave withdrawn.
Mr. O'Kelly: I move amendment (8).
Before sub-section (6) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
“The Minister may by subsequent regulations vary or amend any regulations made by him under this section.”
General Mulcahy: This amendment is really provided for in Section 12 of the Interpretation Act, which makes it clear that the Minister has power to vary or amend any regulations made by him.
Mr. O'Kelly: Is it the Minister's view that the amendment is not necessary?
General Mulcahy: It is not necessary and it would be undesirable to put it in.
Amendment by leave withdrawn.
Mr. O'Kelly: I move amendment No. 9.
In sub-section (6) line 34, after the word “annulling” to add the words “or amending” and in line 37 to add after the word “annulled” the words “or amended”.
General Mulcahy: The same point arises in connection with this as arose in connection with the Deputy's suggested amendment No. 7. That is, that Orders will not be amended in that particular way, they will be either subscribed to or disallowed. If they are disallowed it is a question of a new Order bearing such variations or amendments as the discussion in the House will suggest.
Mr. Briscoe: Would the Minister indicate how he proposes to introduce such an Order? Would it be introduced in such a way as that it would have to be withdrawn and that some time would have to elapse before it could be re-introduced? Supposing the Minister was rather anxious to get a particular Order without much delay and brought it to the House before the end of the session. He would have to call the House together for the purpose of carrying the Order or rejecting it altogether. Would the Minister consider some means of  getting it considered in some way that would not be so rigid?
General Mulcahy: We have two classes of Orders, one Order under Section 12 and another under Section 13. The procedure in the case of an Order under Section 12 is that having made an Order and having put it before both Houses in the usual way by having the papers deposited on the Table, the House would approve of this Order and that would raise a definite discussion. That is an Order which would be absolutely changing the terms of the Statute here. Then under Section 13 we have the Minister making regulations putting a limit to the extent to which the hub-cap of a wheel may extend. In the case of that Order, it is proposed that it shall be put into operation from the time it has been laid before each House of the Oireachtas. If any member in either House wanted to raise any point in connection with it he would have to put down a motion to discuss the matter, otherwise the Order would automatically come into operation.
Mr. Briscoe: If they wanted to amend it, they would have to reject it?
General Mulcahy: Yes.
Mr. Briscoe: Does not the amendment suggest some way of getting the Order amended without rejecting it, of getting an agreed form on what the Minister may desire as an Order?
General Mulcahy: Reference to the Motor Public Services (Vehicle) Order of 1928, will show the kind of matters that will be dealt with in this Order.
On the question as to the insulation of certain parts, the question of whether locks or nuts should be used in certain places, details with regard to carburettors, fuel and things of that kind, there is a difference of opinion. These things are, in fact, settled with the technical men from the Motor Association, with the representatives of the motor owners, technical men from the Gárda and  technical men even from the Dublin Corporation; and the details in regard to these matters are such as can only be satisfactorily settled in a conference like that. If there are things in the order that this House would disagree about, we ought not to be arguing here, for instance, as to whether screws should be turned in one way or another. It would be more satisfactory to see the whole order so that matters of that kind might be reviewed by the people technically most competent to review them. Then we should have a new order. But it would be asking the House too much to discuss these questions so as to arrive on these very difficult questions at the most perfect conclusion in the direction of amending orders like that.
Amendment by leave withdrawn.
Mr. Lemass: On this section I want to press upon the Minister a matter to which I made reference during the Second Reading discussion that when he is considering the equipment which public vehicles should be obliged to carry, he should provide for automatic signalling arms which would indicate whether the vehicle is intending to turn to the right or to the left and some sign in the back of buses which will indicate when they are going to stop. These gadgets will greatly increase the safety of the public.
Major Myles: I beg to suggest a device on the same lines—that all motor lorries should be compelled to carry a mirror. I understand that light motor lorries are not at present compelled to carry mirrors, being light motor vehicles, though the heavy lorry is compelled to carry a mirror.
Professor Thrift: I should also like to support that and to press for a regulation for the provision of a mirror and that the size of mirror should be defined. Small mirrors would be of very little use. As to this power of making regulations by the Minister I would suggest that this is probably the best time in which one can press the importance of making such regulations. I had it in my mind to put down as  an amendment a proposal that public service vehicles should be compelled to carry speedometers inside the vehicles in view of the passengers as some way of bringing into actual practice a restrictive effect upon their speed. I think that the proper way to carry that idea out would be by regulation. I want to impress on the Minister how best we can have such regulations considered as would provide for the necessary equipment of vehicles. I do not want to argue in favour of special regulations, but I think one such as I have indicated would have a very restrictive effect in tending to cut down the excessive speed at which these public service vehicles travel on our roads.
Mr. Cassidy: Steps should be taken to provide that buses on the road should be in a proper state of repair both mechanical and otherwise. As far as the Six Counties of Northern Ireland are concerned such regulations do exist. In Donegal I have travelled on a bus that had been condemned as unfit as far as the Six Counties are concerned. Buses of this kind ran to the border and then the passengers were transferred to other buses and went into Derry city in them. There are buses in which people are travelling which are not properly equipped mechanically or otherwise. When the Minister brings in regulations under this section, I suggest that he pay particular attention to that aspect of the question.
Mr. J.X. Murphy: I hope that in addition to these mechanical devices which indicate the direction in which the machine is going and when it is going to stop, the Minister will tighten up the regulations as to provide that these buses will not stop in the middle of the street. The way in which they do it now is perfectly scandalous. They do it in the eyes of the Gárda. They stop in the middle of the street and take up passengers.
Sir James Craig: I want to endorse that. I do not think there is anything that strikes one as being more likely to end in disaster than the way buses have of stopping in any place they choose in the street. They stop on the  tram line or anywhere else they like without giving any indication that they are going to stop. As was pointed out by a Deputy on the other side, it is absolutely necessary that they should give some indication that they are going to stop. There must be some regulation by which it would be an offence if a bus stopped directly in the line of traffic instead of pulling into the side of the street. They are stopping at the present moment in the line of traffic under the eyes of the Gárda.
General Mulcahy: I think all these points are fully appreciated. The last point put up is a matter that has got to be considered in connection with another section. I do not know whether the section may not require modification in order to secure that the buses will not stop without pulling in to the kerb. On the other question of mechanical signalling and mirrors and arms, these are all matters that will get full consideration. We are all anxious to get the most effective and simple machinery so that the regulation and control should be perfect. The question of speedometers is one that has given a very considerable amount of discussion. The main point I think that has operated in not providing up to the present that speedometers shall not be attached to these vehicles is because of the case that is made for the unreliability of some of these things in large vehicles and the necessity for having them re-examined and re-wound very often. It is a matter that from my point of view at any rate deserves further and sympathetic consideration.
Section 13 agreed to.
(1) The Minister may by order make regulations for all or any of the following purposes, that is to say:—
(3) Every person who uses in a public place:—
(a) a vehicle of which the weight unladen exceeds the maximum weight unladen prescribed by regulations made under this section and applicable to such vehicle, or
 (b) a laden vehicle of which the weight as then laden exceeds the maximum weight laden prescribed by regulations made under this section and applicable to such vehicle, or
(c) a vehicle which or part of which transmits to the ground a greater weight than the maximum weight prescribed in respect of such transmission by regulations made under this section and applicable to such a vehicle.
shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding £10.
Mr. Haslett: I move amendment 10—
Before sub-section (3) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
“(3) Any regulation made by the Minister under the foregoing sub-section shall only be operative after the erection of suitable notices in conspicuous positions, indicating the precise nature of the restrictions, on the approaches to the roads or area to which the regulation applies.”
The reason for it is that Section 2 says:—
(2) Different regulations may be made under this section in respect of different places or areas and in respect of different classes of vehicles.
The area which I represent has made a distinction in regard to the weight of certain vehicles which are allowed to travel on its roads. Our Donegal friends are pressing for the same thing so that there should be no excuse on the part of these people when they are crossing the boundary from one place into another; that is that there shall be some indication to the drivers that such an order is in force in that particular area. I know there is some reference to it in Section 144 but that section does not fully cover what we want.
General Mulcahy: Section 144 and also Section 43 provide for special speed limits. As far as Section 43 is concerned and as far also as Section 144 is concerned they provide that the  councils responsible for the areas in respect of which these special limits are laid down will maintain the necessary signs. It would be impossible, I think, to have a section such as the section suggested by the Deputy's amendment inserted here. For instance a general regulation is made for the whole country restricting the weight of particular classes of vehicles, say to nine tons in respect of that area and to twelve tons in the city. You do not want to have the whole of Dublin City surrounded by notices saying that the particular class of vehicles passing out that road cannot exceed nine tons.
Where special speed limits are laid down or where special weights are laid down we will provide that signs will be put up. If we are to prevent the application of these by-laws and regulations until such time as the signs were put up—and even it might be argued until such signs are not put up in suitable places—you would lose control over the application of these to your area. If special speeds are made applicable on the particular area and a person is charged with offending against them, then the question will arise as to whether in the first place the necessary sign has been put up, and adequately put up, and whether it has been put up in a suitable place or not. All that will be taken into consideration in mitigation of or on the application of any penalties that might be imposed. That would be a matter for the courts dealing with the case to pronounce whether in the circumstances brought before it the local body responsible had made the necessary provision in the matter of the signs. What the Deputy has in his mind is therefore covered in the most practical way in which it can be covered. Covering it in the way he suggests would be impracticable.
Mr. Haslett: We know of the unconscionable delay there has been in the erection of some of these signs. I know cases where the poles have lain on the road for months. If the regulations could not be made until these signs were put up that would make the  law ridiculous. I am not asking more than that proper notice should be given to the driver and owner of the vehicle.
General Mulcahy: It cannot be charged against local bodies generally that they have not attended to the sign-posts on the road. So far as the particular point that the Deputy makes is concerned, I can only undertake that the road inspector will keep this matter under consideration and that a suitable standard for these things will be arrived at.
Amendment by leave withdrawn.
Mr. Law: There are some members of the Donegal County Council in the House, and, therefore, I will not do more than direct attention to the matter raised by a resolution passed by the Donegal County Council on 27th October. I know that the Minister is fully familiar with the matter. The Donegal county is very mountainous and it has a great number of roads running across bogs. The council is anxious that there should be some strict limitation on the weight of vehicles running over the roads. They asked for an amendment of the Bill to give effect to their views. As far as I know and as far as I have read the Bill, it does not appear to me that any actual amendment is required, because in this Section 14, full power appears to be given to the Minister to make regulations prescribing the weights in respect of the various classes of vehicles passing over the roads; and not only to make regulations in respect of the weights of each class of vehicle, but also to make regulations with regard to the weight of the vehicles in any specified area. I do not know what my colleagues here think, but I do not propose to trouble the House any further with this. I deferred speaking on this until the clause was put, but I desire to press the point upon the attention of the Minister so that when he comes to make the regulations that are envisaged in this section he shall pay full attention to the views of the Donegal County Council with which I must say I entirely agree.
Mr. Cassidy: I support what Deputy Law has said. As the Deputy has pointed out, this matter was discussed by the County Council, who have made recommendations with respect to the weights of vehicles on three classes of roads. They recommend that the weight of these vehicles should not be more than 2½ tons, 4 tons and 5 tons, respectively. I understand that so far as this Bill is concerned the maximum weight can be up to 7¼ tons.
Donegal is a mountainous county and these roads were not built in many cases for heavy traffic. At present unfortunately the heavy traffic is not being carried by the railways of Donegal. These railways have had to dispense with large numbers of their staff. The people who pay for the roads for these heavy vehicles are the ratepayers of the county. Now these ratepayers are paying for the upkeep of the roads for the benefit of the competitors of the railways, that is to say, the owners of the heavy buses and heavy lorries. On the other hand the railway has also to pay for the upkeep of their own permanent way. I hope something will be done as far as this Bill is concerned to remedy that matter. Perhaps the Minister would agree to an amendment on the second Committee Stage or on the Fourth Stage on the lines suggested by the County Council.
Major Myles: I am satisfied that this Bill gives the Minister sufficient power to meet the wishes of the Donegal County Council. It has already been put up to the Minister to make regulations covering the points raised by the County Council. I am perfectly satisfied with what the Minister has said on the matter. The matter is provided for in Sections 14 and 144.
General Mulcahy: The Bill does contain powers to deal with any matter that the Donegal County Council wishes at the present moment to deal with. I would ask the Deputies to realise that in respect of main roads and as to the weight main roads are expected to carry my Department must pursue a policy that will require uniformity in the different parts of the country in respect of our main  roads. This is a Traffic Bill and nothing that could impinge upon the transport situation is intended to be covered by this Bill. As to whether particular roads in Donegal are to be set aside for particular vehicles because the railway companies in Donegal are in difficulties is a matter that should not enter into the minds of the Department or the Minister in framing regulations in regard to weights.
Major Myles: I would remind the Minister that it is Deputy Cassidy and not the Donegal County Council who is arguing in the opposite direction.
General Mulcahy: I know that, but Deputy Cassidy talked about it, and I want the Deputies to appreciate that point. The Minister for Local Government has had his hands completely tied in dealing with transport matters, and I want to suggest that 40 per cent. of the maintenance of the main roads is paid to the Donegal County Council from the Road Fund in the same way as it is paid in the other county councils in addition to the money paid for improvements of their main road system. I have been over some of the Donegal roads and I have not felt any more shaky on them than on some other roads in the country. My idea of the Donegal County Council is that their main roads ought to be able to stand up to the same type of traffic as the ordinary main roads of the country so far as the weights of vehicles are concerned. It would require definite demonstration before I would accept that these roads were being injured by the present traffic. I would require more confirmation of that before I would feel inclined to discriminate in respect of the main roads of Donegal.
I think that is a reasonable frame of mind in which to approach the matter at this stage at any rate.
Mr. Law: I do not say that the Minister is unreasonable, but I think he is a little bit academic. It is easy to classify roads in a certain way but you do not, by reason of calling a road a main road or saying that it is a main road in the natural sense of the word that is to say, it is a main road leading from one point to another, make it  necessarily a road capable of bearing heavy traffic. That, I think, is a substantial point. I do not know what roads the Minister has been over, but I have been over a road which must certainly be classified as a main road. It is practically the only road leading from Dunfanaghy to Gweedore and Burtonport. I know that road this summer became almost impassable through the ordinary bus traffic going on it and it was not very heavy traffic. I am not a technical expert, but I do not believe that these roads are capable of being made suitable for heavy traffic without colossal expenditure. Most of them are narrow. Of course they can be broadened here and there, but there are also roads the foundations of which are as bad as they can be. I do not believe that without colossal expenditure you can really make them carry heavy traffic or such traffic as would not be excessive.
Mr. Davin: Donegal occupies a very peculiar position in what I might call the life, blood and body of the Free State, but the roads of Donegal and the circumstances of the ratepayers of Donegal and the opportunities which should be given to those who license motor buses and lorries in Donegal are in no way different from those of any other county in the Free State. Although I have a life interest in the railway service I am not going to suggest and never did suggest here or anywhere else that the hands of the clock should be put back, and that there is not room in this Free State for a lorry and motor bus system. What I want the Minister to bear in mind is that he should not, by any regulations under this section of the Bill, allow one of these lorries to wear out portion of the foundations of the road themselves and thereby to impose an increase in charges on the ratepayers for which they get no satisfactory service in return. What was the rate paid in 1914 by the ratepayers in Donegal or any other county for the maintenance of these main roads? What is the percentage increase over the 1914 figure paid by these ratepayers to-day? What is the freedom  given to the ratepayers to-day compared with the freedom they had in 1914?
I do not want this House to give power to the Minister for Local Government who, in my opinion, is a road hog and does not want to see railways occupying any position in this country. I do not want this House to give the Minister power to put on the roads lorries of a weight which will destroy the roads and which will compel the ratepayers to pay a charge which is not justified by reason of the return they get for those alleged services. What is the number of motor lorries of different weights plying on the main roads of the Free State compared with what it was three or four years ago? What is the additional revenue we receive in motor taxation from the people now using these roads in increased numbers? Not very long ago I was shown a photograph, if you like a transport photograph, of the position in County Cork so far as it was affected by the number of lorries plying for hire and the amount of destruction they had done to the railway services there. They were plying in the county of Cork at uneconomic rates not because they had the ordinary economic advantages over railway companies, but because they did not pay for the damage done to the roads. A motor driver buys a lorry and maintains it as long as it will live and when the lorry is at an end the driver goes out of existence. That is a dangerous policy and in my opinion by giving the powers asked for under Section 14 of the Bill you are giving the Minister more power than I would like to give him.
I want to get an assurance from the Minister such as Deputy O'Kelly got in the case of Section 12 that before the regulations under this section are put into operation they will have to be submitted to and approved of by this House. Does the Minister agree to submit an amendment on the next stage of the Bill in the form put down by Deputy O'Kelly to Section 12? If the Minister is prepared to go that far I think a good case could be made for it, a better case than could be made under Section 12.
Mr. Corry: I desire to support Deputy Davin's argument in this. Undoubtedly the Minister apparently is prepared to ignore two very definite facts in this matter. The first fact is that these roads are built out of the ratepayers' pockets and have been maintained up to two or three years ago out of the pocket of the ordinary farmer in the country. With his 40 per cent. of a refund he has deprived the farmers of those roads. They were not treated the same as the electricity owners were treated in this country. They got no compensation for the roads which were taken from them, for those roads which the Minister states the ratepayers are getting 40 per cent. of a refund. Those roads are taken completely out of the hands of the ordinary ratepayer and are useless to him. The ordinary ratepayer drives his horse and cart on them at definite danger to himself. I have seen the Minister's system in operation in Cork County and I have seen the result of it. I have seen people induced and cajoled into spending more money than the ratepayers can afford on these main roads on the principle that if you are going to spend £100 you are going to get £40 back. More main roads were made completely impassable for farming traffic. Not alone are those roads in the first instance the property of the ratepayers and are built out of the ratepayers' pockets, which the Minister completely ignores when he says that the ratepayers are paid £100,000 for building a road, but we are going to hand them over to the motor owners. That is bad enough. I am not prepared like Deputy Davin to allow the Minister to have the right to fix what weight of vehicle shall pass over that road. I have seen those roads built at from £1,200 to £1,500 a mile, and I have seen them completely torn up by individuals six months afterwards for the sake of whatever few pounds go into the Road Fund. The amount received in Cork County out of the Road Fund in one year would not build five miles of these roads. I think the Minister ought to give an opportunity to this House to fix the weight of the vehicles that will pass over these roads. I think we are entitled to that.
General Mulcahy: It is impossible to separate from the general power to make regulations with regard to maximum unladen weights of different types of vehicles the power to make these regulations in respect of specific areas. I think it would be a very difficult prospect if this House dealing with the special circumstances of Limerick Cork, Waterford or Dublin were to discuss each of these regulations in sub-section (2) for different places and different vehicles. I think the House would be taking on a lot more than Deputy Davin appeared to realise when he asked that such a regulation should not come into operation until the two Houses had approved of it. Where the Minister has power to make regulations in these particular matters, he will, under most circumstances, hold the particular type of inquiry of which I spoke yesterday. He will publish notice of such inquiry and there will be full opportunity for everybody locally interested to come and deal with the matter in the proper arena— at the local inquiry. I take it that Deputies are particularly interested in the local circumstances and not in the general circumstances.
Mr. Davin: It is a national question too.
General Mulcahy: On such short consideration of the matter, I should not like to give any undertaking to Deputy Davin which would place orders of this kind in the position of orders under Section 12. I think further consideration of the matter will bring home to the Deputy that that would be unreasonable.
Mr. O'Doherty: Perhaps I may suggest a way to reconcile the differences which exist between Deputies and the Minister. Under this section, I agree with Deputy Myles that the Minister is taking sufficient power to deal with the questions raised by the Donegal County Council.
Mr. Davin: He is taking too much power.
Mr. O'Doherty: In passing, I may mention that Deputy Davin, with his usual childlike blandness, switched this discussion off from Donegal and  carried it down to Cork, where he made a connection with Deputy Corry. I shall have nothing to do with that unholy alliance. I wish to bring this discussion back to the point raised by Deputy Law. I wish to point out to the Minister that since he visited certain roads in Donegal the roads which are now classed as main roads and which were referred to by Deputy Law are incapable of carrying more than two or three tons. I suggest to the Minister that a way of getting over the difficulties of places like Donegal would be to bring about a different classification of the roads in conjunction with the local councils. If the main roads of Donegal which are complained of are unable to carry the traffic which this Bill will allow them to carry, why not make them third-class roads and thus make it impossible for traffic of that nature to use them. My purpose in getting up was to suggest a way out of the difficulty.
Mr. Cassidy: The Minister states that uniformity must be maintained, so far as the regulations are concerned, for heavy traffic. While uniformity should be maintained, I suggest that it should only be maintained up to a particular point. The geographical and economical condition of certain counties should be taken into consideration.
General Mulcahy: There is provision for that.
Mr. Cassidy: I submit that a case has been made why the request of Donegal County Council should be granted. One of the reasons why it should be given special consideration is that it is surrounded by Derry, Tyrone and Fermanagh. Many heavy lorries, which pay no taxation and come across the Border, use and abuse the roads in Donegal. I disagree with the Minister that the roads in Donegal are as good as the roads in any other county in Ireland. The roads of Donegal are not capable of bearing as heavy traffic as the roads of Dublin, Meath, Kildare, or Wicklow. One of the reasons the roads there are not capable of bearing  as heavy traffic as the roads of some other counties is that the Minister refused to allow Donegal County Council to pay more than twenty-six shillings a week to the road workers.
General Mulcahy: Does the Deputy suggest that because of that the road-workers of Donegal are not giving a full output.
Mr. Cassidy: I suggest that the road-workers are giving good work for the wage but the Minister cannot expect boulevards to be built on coolie wages. There is another matter to which I would like to refer. I do not know whether or not it is in order.
An Ceann Comhairle: I am sure it is not by the way the Deputy begins.
Mr. Cassidy: Owing to the Government reducing the subsidy—
An Ceann Comhairle: This is the case of the Derry and Lough Swilly Railway and that is out of order on this Bill.
Mr. Cassidy: They diverted the traffic from the railways to the roads, with the result that what should be a national charge had to be borne by the ratepayer. We suggest that the maximum weight for heavy vehicles under the Bill is too much for the roads with which we are concerned. Donegal County Council suggest that the maximum weights for the three classes of roads respectively should be 2½, 4 and 5 tons.
Mr. J.X. Murphy: The Minister, I think, said that his hands were tied in respect of anything which might cut into the Transport Bill. Surely this is cutting into the Transport Bill. If the Transport Bill is to make any arrangement as to the proper division of traffic between railways and roads, surely the Minister is not going to take power to license vehicles on roads that will be affected.
General Mulcahy: The function of the Minister under this Bill, as I conceive it, is to fix maximum weights in relation to the capacity of the roads to bear them—assuming a particular standard of road that would not go beyond our requirements for provision  and maintenance and upkeep, a suitable standard of maximum weights.
I have no feeling that in considering maximum weights at this particular stage, without the Transport Bill, that might by its provisions make direct reference to this particular matter, I am completely excluded from considering whether there is a train knocking about or not. I hope that Deputy Cassidy has completely demonstrated to the House the undesirability, when maximum weights are to be laid down as a base line for the country as a whole, that the condition of roads in Donegal, or in some particular part of Cork, should be introduced into the discussion in such a way as to bring about a situation in which we would fix in our base-line order maximum weights that were not reasonable for the country as a whole. The section makes provision by which in special areas regulations can be made to meet special road conditions, and only can be made after a local inquiry, in which there will be the usual procedure of advertisement and publication and the public hearing of what it is proposed to do and why it is proposed to do it, and any interested party can come to that inquiry and deal with the matter there.
Mr. J.X. Murphy: Is that in the Bill?
General Mulcahy: It is in the Bill.
Major Myles: That is what the Donegal County Council want.
General Mulcahy: Under Section 14 (2) regulations may be made in this matter in respect of different places or areas. I suggest that you want your standard for the country as a whole and that regulations of this particular kind are only intended to be a modification of a general standard in respect of a particular area.
Mr. Lemass: It seems to me that there is a serious omission from the Bill. There is very little use making regulations for maximum weights unless adequate machinery is established for enforcing them. At present I understand local authorities have power  to establish weighing machines and through their own officers may require heavy motor cars and locomotives to be brought to these machines for the purpose of being weighed. The InterDepartmental Committee drew attention to the fact that there is a very inadequate number of these machines throughout the country, and that confining the power to require cars to be driven to machines for weighing to the officers of local authorities was not satisfactory. The Committee recommended that members of the Civic Guard should have the power to require a lorry to be taken to weighing machines for the purpose of ascertaining the weight. I would be glad to know if it is the intention of the Minister to give effect to that recommendation.
General Mulcahy: That is a matter that must come up for review and careful consideration. Facilities do exist in some places for dealing with this particular matter, but there are other places in which this provision does not exist. That is a matter that will have to be reviewed and the necessary steps will have to be taken to see that there is adequate provision for seeing that regulations made under this Bill are adhered to.
Mr. Davin: The Minister has very diplomatically evaded the real issue which I raised in regard to this section. He has already given an undertaking to Deputy O'Kelly that the regulations which he is given power to make under Section 12, dealing with the classification of mechanically propelled vehicles, will be submitted to and approved of by the House before they will be put in operation. My contention is that we should not give to the Minister under Section 14 any more power than he has asked for in Section 12, and that the Minister should not ask the House to give him that power. If there is justification for the submission of the regulations he is given power to make under Section 12, the very same case can be made for his submitting the regulations made under Section 14.
I would be very reluctant to give any Minister for Local Government unlimited  power. The Minister is asking for unlimited power under Section 14 to prescribe the weight of laden and unladen lorries which will be allowed to ply on the roads. The Minister will save himself a good deal of trouble and a considerable amount of discussion here if he will lay down the maximum weight for the best made roads and reducing that weight in accordance with the classification or carrying capacity of roads that are not as good. If he does that he will serve a useful purpose and meet the views of the general body of ratepayers who will then know where they are and what they are expected to pay for damage done by these heavy lorries to the roads. If he does that it will be much easier also to make the regulations which will have to be made under this section. I suggest again that he should apply the principle of the amendment which he has accepted from Deputy O'Kelly dealing with Section 12 to Section 14. I should like to hear what Deputy Moore has to say on this matter.
Mr. Corry: I suggest that the proper authority to fix the maximum weight of any vehicle is the local authority and that the county council should be the authority for dealing with vehicles running over the roads built out of the pockets of the ratepayers. The Minister talked of special areas and said that because there were bad roads in Donegal or in portions of Cork that was no reason why a specified weight should not be fixed for vehicles all round. I suggest that the power should be given to the local authorities and not to the Minister who only travels down the country at election time and then comes in a first-class railway carriage or something of that description. He takes very good care anyway not to get bumped on any bad road. Such a Minister should not have the fixing of the weight of vehicles travelling over by-roads in Co. Cork. I suggest that the county council would have far more knowledge as to the weight of vehicles which should be allowed to travel over the roads.
General Mulcahy: That is the case  I am making, that it ought to be settled in Cork, not here.
Mr. Corry: Are you prepared to give them that power? Our objection is that you are looking for the power yourself and are not prepared to give it to the county council.
General Mulcahy: It will be done after a suitable inquiry in Cork.
Mr. Corry: It is you are going to do it and we have too much experience of your dictatorship in Cork already.
Mr. Davin: The Minister said with the consent of the local authority. Is it not laid down in the Bill that the regulations when made will be submitted for the approval of the House and can be annulled within a certain period?
General Mulcahy: Yes.
Mr. Davin: Why not submit the regulations and have them approved the same as you agreed to under Section 12?
General Mulcahy: Because we could not reconcile the diverse elements of Laoighis, Donegal and Cork.
Mr. Davin: You will have to do that afterwards and it is the same thing.
Mr. Moore: I suggest to Deputy Davin that this whole question is in a sort of transition stage at present. As a good many Deputies are aware, there is a transition from the type of petrol-driven vehicle to the Diesel vehicles which are now coming in. There are a number in Northern Ireland and there are one or two in our own part of the country. There are a good number in England. It is forecasted by a distinguished Irish engineer that before many months are passed that type of vehicle will be the standard type. The effect of that will be to save the country a very big bill in the way of fuel, because the Diesel is run on crude oil and uses very small quantities of it. In face of circumstances of that kind it might well be that the Minister would in order to secure the advantage of these vehicles for the country have to agree to a much heavier type of vehicle than any  we are accustomed to. That type of vehicle may not be made in different sizes. As a matter of fact it is not so made at present. It may not be made in the number of types to which we are accustomed. For that reason I, for one, cannot get excited about this debate. I think it is very likely that within the next six months we will be faced with altogether different circumstances and find that a lot of this debate has been rather futile.
Sections 14 and 15 agreed to and added to the Bill.
General Mulcahy: It will be necessary in this section to change the description “Seating accommodation” to “Passenger accommodation”.
Section put and agreed to.
Section 17, agreed to and added to the Bill.
(1) It shall not be lawful for any person to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place unless he holds a licence (in this Act referred to as a driving licence) granted to him under this Part of this Act, and for the time being in force, and licensing him to drive such vehicle.
(2) It shall not be lawful for any person to employ another person to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place unless the person so employed holds a driving licence granted to him under this Part of this Act, and for the time being in force, and licensing him to drive such vehicle.
Professor Thrift: I move amendment No. 11.
In sub-section (2) line 58, to insert the word “knowingly” after the word “person.”
I think the sub-section as it stands is too wide. It is quite right that a person engaging a driver who is to do his permanent work should satisfy himself that such driver has a licence, but I think that in the case of a casual engagement it would be a very undue burden to put on a person who employed a person casually to make such  inquiry. It would be quite absurd that a person taking a taxi should satisfy himself that the driver had a licence before hiring him. I think it is unnecessary also to insist that an employer should see that his driver has his licence paid up to date. He should be only obliged to satisfy himself that the driver has his licence when employed and not require him to see that the driver takes out a new licence when his current one expires. I think the section is far too wide as it stands and that by inserting the word “knowingly” after the word “person” it will meet the case.
General Mulcahy: I appreciate the point Deputy Thrift makes with regard to the hiring of a taxi or public service vehicle. I think there is an amendment down relating to that somewhere later in the name of Deputy Good. The position already in the Motor Car Act, 1903, is that it is an offence for an owner to employ a driver if that person is not licensed. That Act is in operation since 1903 and has not caused any serious grievance. I think that when you take into consideration the elaborate steps we have taken to tighten up the whole control of road traffic, it is not unreasonable to ask that persons who employ men to drive for them shall see that such drivers are in possession of licences in the proper way. That is the position since 1903, and it would open up a very serious difficulty if we departed from that position.
Professor Thrift: I admitted that at the time of the engagement the employer should take care to see that the driver is licensed. But to insist that he should be continually looking after the matter would I think be imposing too much on the employer. The amendment which the Minister suggested might cover my point.
Mr. T. O'Connell: Did I understand the Minister to say that the provision in the 1903 Act was that the owner of a motor car who employed a person would be liable? Does the Minister notice that this applies to every person who wants to employ a car for a  short journey? It would no doubt be a public service vehicle but not of the type perhaps of a taxi or bus. Suppose a man employed his neighbour to drive him for a short distance, or if he employed a lorry, for instance, to take his goods, would he be liable under the provisions of this section? It appears he would. I agree with Deputy Thrift that such provision makes it very wide indeed.
Mr. Briscoe: Would the Minister agree to add at the last part of the section the words “licensing him to drive such vehicle of which he is the owner”? Would not that meet the case if such words as those were added?
General Mulcahy: The first part of Deputy Good's amendment to Section 133 is that “For the purposes of this Act any person hiring a street service vehicle shall not be deemed to be the employer of the driver” ...Deputies may wish on that basis to extend the class of street service vehicles, but I take it that Deputies will not wish that the ordinary regular employers of a driver, let us say shopkeepers or business firms, should be relieved from their responsibilities for seeing that the drivers of their cars have licences. In page 115 of the Traffic Report it was made clear, as follows: “Furthermore in Sections 3 and 20 of the Motor Car, 1903, Act, a person must not employ a person who has not a current licence to drive a motor car on the road.”
Professor Thrift: I accept that.
General Mulcahy: But if Deputy Thrift's amendment were accepted the effect would be to relieve the employer altogether of that obligation, and I think we appreciate that he ought not to be relieved of that. Relief is apparently sought for the casual employer of a vehicle.
Professor Thrift: Yes.
General Mulcahy: We can give further consideration to that and see what is involved in it. I shall consider it and if Deputies will do the same then on the Report Stage we shall see how the position can be safeguarded.
Mr. Good: I take it the Minister will consider the amendment I have down. I think no matter what liabilities are resting or may rest upon the owner of a vehicle there is no doubt whatever that the unfortunate hirer of the vehicle knows nothing about whether a man should be licensed or should not be made licensed. It would be exceedingly unfair if that hirer of a taxi should find that he had incurred considerable liability.
My amendment is put down to ensure that the hirer of a taxi by the act of hiring will not incur any liability that may fall on the driver.
General Mulcahy: I was referring to the amendment that the Deputy has to Section 133. With the first part I agree but I will have something to say to the second part.
Mr. Lemass: I submit that Deputy Thrift's amendment is absolutely unsuitable and that the sub-section might as well be deleted. It would necessitate a person proposing to employ a car saying: “I do not want to know if you have a licence or not.”
Professor Thrift: I am withdrawing my amendment. I stated at the beginning that I stressed the matter for casual cases. I say that once a person engaging a car satisfies himself that the driver is licensed no liability should fall on him.
General Mulcahy: In connection with amendment 12 I will undertake to redraft it and to insert an amendment covering it.
Mr. Lemass: The penalty in this section seems particularly severe in comparison with other penalties. The driving of a car without a licence is not such a serious offence as to warrant six months' imprisonment and a fine of £100. In my opinion offences which are much more serious are punished much more lightly in the Bill.
General Mulcahy: I would be glad to have some comments on the fines and  punishments if Deputies have any to offer.
Mr. Lemass: Take Section 25. A person driving so as to be a source of danger to the public is liable to a fine of £25 for certain offences. The man without a licence who drives a car carefully and who is not a danger to anyone becomes liable to a fine of £50 and to three months' imprisonment for a second offence. It seems to me these penalties are altogether out of proportion. The only reason there are licences is because it makes it easier to enforce the traffic regulations. Although it is desirable that there should be sufficiently severe penalties to induce everybody to obey the law, at the same time it would seem to be contrary to justice that it would be possible for a man who has merely omitted to provide himself with a licence at a particular period to be punished in the very severe manner indicated.
General Mulcahy: I would agree there is something to be said on that subject generally, particularly if we take the case of a person who has an insurance, while for some slight reason not having a licence. I have an open mind on a lot of these matters and I would like if Deputies would put down amendments which would suggest the conclusions they have come to for discussion on the next stage.
Mr. Lemass: I was thinking of my own case. As a matter of fact my driving licence expired in August, but I did not discover it until September, so that I was driving for a month without a licence. I might have got three months' imprisonment.
General Mulcahy: Except there were people anxious to teach the Deputy a lesson, it would probably be taken into consideration that it was an oversight.
Mr. Lemass: The risk was there all the same.
Section agreed to.
(1) No person under the age of fourteen years shall hold a driving licence.
 (2) No person shall hold at any time more than one driving licence which is for the time being in force.
Mr. Good: I move:
In sub-section (1) line 22, to delete the word “fourteen” and substitute therefor the word “fifteen.”
This section raises a very debatable subject as to the age at which a boy has sufficient intelligence to receive a licence. The Bill suggests that a boy should not be under fourteen years of age to drive a motor cycle, not under seventeen years of age to drive a light vehicle, and not under eighteen years of age to drive a heavy vehicle. As to issuing a licence to a person under fourteen years of age I think there is very little doubt that that age is too low. While there may be some boys of abnormal development to which it would be safe to issue licences at fourteen the experience of most of us is that it would be wise in the general interests of road users to raise the age, certainly to fifteen, if not a little higher. While my amendment mentions fifteen if the House in its wisdom thinks that a higher age is desirable I would agree. I would not like to see licences issued to young persons under fifteen years of age.
Mr. O'Kelly: The Deputy does not suggest any maximum age.
Professor Alton: I tabled amendments to Sections 21 and 22 and by an oversight I forgot to table a corresponding amendment to this section. I endorse everything that Deputy Good has said and I appeal to our medical colleagues for their views on the matter. After all a boy of fourteen is only a child. There are, of course, precocious boys. I am perfectly certain that when the Minister was fourteen he would drive an aeroplane. We are not dealing with prodigies. The average boy of fourteen does not possess the necessary nerve. He is too reckless, and if he gets into a traffic jam he might suffer from what could be described as traffic fright. In the interests of traffic control and in the interests of the boys themselves I hope the House will not  allow the absurdities that appear in the Bill. I think this is the greatest defect in a Bill that is otherwise admirable.
Mr. Davin: I suppose it is a case of three great minds thinking alike, but when I was submitting my amendments I was not aware that Deputy Good had been thinking on the same lines. I agree with Deputy Good, and I am prepared to go further and say that the age of fifteen is too low. I think the physical ability and the mental control which a normal boy of fourteen or fifteen has would not justify a licence being granted at that age. The safety of the travelling public has to be taken into consideration and for the reasons given I would encourage the Minister to raise the age still higher.
Mr. G. Wolfe: I am entirely in favour of the amendment and in fact I would be inclined to raise the age to 16. I think the age of 14 is entirely too young for any boy to have a licence. We have been talking of boys but, as a matter of fact, if we were to examine the records, we would find that there are quite as many ladies driving motors if not more as there are boys and men. To let school children of 14 or 15 drive motors when they probably have not got the full nerve that they will have later on is an extremely dangerous thing. I certainly think that 16 is the earliest age at which a licence should be given. I think 14 is altogether too young, unsafe for the driver, and unsafe for the people whom he meets on the road. I hope the Minister will consider raising the age. It should certainly be not less than 15, but I would suggest 16.
Mr. J.X. Murphy: When I saw those amendments I thought there was a split among the Independents, but apparently Deputy Good agrees with Deputy Alton that the age should be 16. I would like to support that suggestion. I think the last Deputy was confusing the provisions of this Section with another Section. This Section applies only to the driving of motor bicycles. If the Minister will make it 16, I think he will be very well advised.
Sir James Craig: Although my name is down in support of the amendment fixing the age at 15, I should prefer to have it fixed at 16. It was pointed out to me, however, with I believe some truth, that boys at the age of 18 or 19 are very much more dangerous, as far as driving in traffic is concerned, than at the earlier ages. It was only that aspect of the case that made me agree to put my name to the amendment by which the age is raised from 14 to 15. On the whole I would prefer to see the age 16 rather than 15. As I say, those who have greater experience and knowledge of the subject, have pointed out to me that there is greater danger and greater risk at the ages of 18 and 19. Boys at that age take great risks, whereas young boys are much more careful and much more likely to be careful. On the whole if the Minister is willing to accept the age of 16, I am willing to support it.
Mr. O'Kelly: I think there is general agreement on all sides of the House that the age limit should be fixed at 16 rather than 14 as suggested in the Bill. That is my own view, and sounding the views of the Party with which I am associated, I have found that the majority seemed to be in favour of the age limit being fixed at 16. There were some who mentioned that from their own experience they thought that boys and girls of 15 could manage properly on a motor bicycle, but I think that the majority seemed to be in favour of 16. I certainly will stand for the minimum age being fixed at 16. There is one class of drivers of motor cycles to which my attention has been called —that is, boys who drive motor cycles for the Post Office. I would not like to do anything that would deprive these boys of their employment, if they are of a lower age than 16. The few I have seen on the street on Post Office work seemed to be boys over 16 years of age, but the point has been put to me. I do not think it is likely to interfere with the employment of boys in that Department. On the whole for motor cycles, certainly for high-powered cycles, 16 is as early an age as girls or boys should be allowed to drive these machines  in modern conditions of traffic. Deputy Lemass has mentioned to me one class of motor attachment to bicycles that would not be of high power. It might be a disadvantage to deprive young people of the use of such attachments. There are small contrivances that are attached to pedal bicycles. There are not very many users of them, and it might not be worth while taking them into consideration in making these laws.
Mr. J.X. Murphy: We could meet the point raised by Deputy Kelly in connection with boys from the Post Office by providing that the age of 16 should apply except in cases where boys are already in employment.
General Mulcahy: The position is that 14 has been the age limit up to the present. In support of what Deputy Sir James Craig has stated, I might say that all the information we have is that no traffic accidents occur arising out of the use of bicycles by boys of younger ages and as Deputy Sir James Craig stated 17, 18 and 19 are the dangerous ages. I would suggest that as 15 has been proposed in this amendment that we adopt 15 now. We can further consider the matter on Report and Deputy Alton can put down an amendment to fix the age at 16, if he wishes. There is in fact no complaint from the police authorities or any other side as to the misuse of motor cycles by boys of 14 to 16 years of age. The Post Office does not employ boys under 16 and I do not think that boys under 16 are employed in commercial work which would call for the use of motor bicycles. It has been put to me that there may be cases in some parts of the country in which motor bicycles are used by school children between the ages of 14 and 16 for the purpose of getting to a good school within motoring range. Considering how far flung in some parts of the country secondary schools are and considering the drive that is being made to have continuation education established, and to make things easy for young people who want to advance their education in that way, it would be a pity perhaps if persons actually using or likely to make use of higher educational facilities,  were prevented from doing so by being forced to use pedal bicycles for a distance that was perhaps beyond their strength. That is the only point that has been made in that regard. I do not know whether the Minister for Education could be empowered to issue certificates to permit of the use of motor bicycles like that. We could for the moment make the age 15 but we are making the age 15 without any evidence except the idea that we think that boys of 14 and 12 are a bit irresponsible and reckless although the boys and girls of that age to-day are very different from those of the period in which, when you tried to ride a bicycle, one caught a grip of your back and pushed the bicycle up and down the road.
Now, before children are able to walk, they use a scooter and then they get on to fairy bicycles. Afterwards you have youngsters of very irresponsible years, carrying all kinds of loads on the back of their bicycles until they become regular acrobats as far as bicycles are concerned. If we make the age 15 we do so without any evidence. I have no objection to making it 15, but if Deputy Alton would wish to make it 16 he can move to do so on the Report Stage. There is no use in perhaps cutting off facilities to people when there may not be any reason they should be cut off.
Professor Alton: Has the Minister any knowledge in regard to accidents to boys of fourteen, fifteen or sixteen? I am only speaking of my own experience. I was in the position of being in charge or quasi charge of youngsters recently, and I was struck by the number of accidents from motor bicycles to boys who suffered permanent damage. One is short of a leg and another has damaged his arm. The ages of these boys range from sixteen up to nineteen. Sixteen and seventeen seem to be the ages most dangerous.
Professor Thrift: I agree with the Minister that we may take fifteen at present. When we come to hard facts this is a matter to which the parent has something to say because he has to provide the money.
General Mulcahy: He has to provide the bicycle.
Professor Thrift: The number of motor bicycles for boys under fifteen would be very small.
Section 19 agreed to.
(1) Any person who is not under the age of fourteen years and is not for the time being disqualified by or under this Act for holding a driving licence may apply to the licensing authority in whose functional area he ordinarily resides or carries on business for the grant to him by such authority of a driving licence or, where the circumstances so require, of a renewal of a driving licence then or previously held by him.
(2) Every application under this section shall be in the prescribed form and shall be signed by the applicant, and shall state the age of the applicant and such other particulars as shall be prescribed and either be accompanied by a certificate of fitness granted under Part VI of this Act to the applicant. within one month before the date of the application or shall contain or be accompanied by a declaration in the following form signed by the applicant, that is to say:
“I hereby declare that to the best of my knowledge I am not suffering from any disease or physical or mental disability which would be likely to cause the driving of a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place by me to be a source of danger to the public.”
Mr. Good: I move:
In sub-section (1), line 26, to delete the word “fourteen” and substitute therefor the word “fifteen.”
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. Good: I move:
In sub-section (2), line 41, after the word “that” to insert the words “I am a competent driver and.”
This amendment deals with the issuing of licences and with the form that  has to be filled up before the licence is granted. On that form there is no declaration whatever to the effect that the person enquiring for the licence has any knowledge at all of driving. Well, I think it is essential that the person to whom a driving licence is issued should have some knowledge of driving; and with that object the form of the licence is here suggested. The point has been raised that if the person who is asked to sign that particular form says that he has not done any driving then a licence could not be issued to him and that there would be no way out of the difficulty.
Mr. O'Connell: He could not become a driver until he had a licence.
Mr. Good: To get over that difficulty it has been suggested that beginners' licences should be issued to such persons and that drivers' licences should not be issued to those persons until they had some knowledge of driving. Of course tests are provided in the case of persons making application for licences to drive passenger vehicles, but we are all agreed that it would be very undesirable and a very troublesome task to put all persons who want to drive motor bicycles or light motor vehicles to a driving test. That would be a cumbersome method and in order to get over that difficulty it has been suggested that these words should be added to the licence and that furthermore beginners' licences should be issued for a short period of say three months or a shorter period if necessary in order to qualify for drivers' licences. That would get over the difficulty I think. In this connection there are possibly other difficulties, but this is not the time to discuss them. But it does occur to one that in connection with the issuing of licences in the North of Ireland it is necessary to have a photograph of the driver on the licence in order to identify him. That is a matter that can be subsequently considered. It does not arise in connection with any of the amendments.
General Mulcahy: It does.
Mr. Good: I am only dealing with the question of issuing licences and I am asking that these words I have proposed should be added to the particular  form which the person is asked to sign before the licence is issued.
Mr. Lemass: It is a demand that nobody will get a driver's licence unless he is a competent driver, but that he can get a beginner's licence. As to the kind of licence which a man has obtained, what difference will it make to the pedestrian who has been injured whether the driver of the car has a beginner's licence or a driver's licence.
Mr. Good: I have not entered at all into the question of the beginner's licence because that is a matter for the Minister to consider. But I think that in the present state of road traffic it is highly necessary that some protection should be given to the road users, and that the person who has no knowledge of motor driving should not be allowed to go on the public highway to the danger of other road users. That is a thing that this House ought not approve of. At any rate some protection is necessary. This is a limited form of protection, but some precaution is necessary before a licence is issued.
General Mulcahy: I have given as much consideration to this matter as I could give. I quite agree that the suggestion is impracticable, because if you start and give beginners licences then the question arises when the beginner ceases to be a beginner and when he becomes competent.
Mr. O'Connell: Never, sometimes.
Mr. Good: You have simply to take a man's word for it. And you are driven to consider who it is exactly who teaches people to drive cars. I am not really quite clear that what Deputy Good has in mind is really achieved by what he proposes. If it would make him feel any more comfortable about the matter it may be possible to arrange that a licence issued to a person for the first year should be indicated by a red line or by a blue line—something that would show that this is his first year of driving.
Mr. Good: What protection would that be to the other road users?
General Mulcahy: What protection would it be that he was a learner with a learner's licence?
Mr. Good: And a learner's limitations.
General Mulcahy: I think the Gárda will have a look after the learner's limitations.
Mr. Good: I take it that the Minister will re-consider the matter.
General Mulcahy: I must say that I do not sense any feeling of great difficulty in this House in the matter and I hesitate to make a proposal that there should be any distinction between the first licence issued to a person and any other licence. It might involve a difficulty and I do not see any necessity for it. I am not at all clear that there is any real necessity for it or that what is in Deputy Good's mind arises out of any practical experience in the situation that we had up to the present.
Mr. E. Doyle: Would the Minister suggest the provision of a skating rink and let the learners qualify there?
Mr. G. Wolfe: Let them drive on the bye-roads when they are learning.
Mr. Good: Would the Minister make inquiries as to how this difficulty is met in other countries?
General Mulcahy: Oh, now.
Sir James Craig: Perhaps it would meet the situation if the Minister could keep the learners off the main roads. I think that is the principal thing. All people must learn and you must give them a certain amount of licence in order to learn. The risk is that before they learn sufficiently that they are allowed to go on the main roads.
General Mulcahy: Then you would want something like overhead wires to take the car from the person's residence until he comes on to the by-road or else make provision that the learners shall not drive without a competent driver in the car. I do not know where all that would lead us to.
Professor Alton: I am sorry I must  disagree with Deputy Sir James Craig. I would ask the Minister to take those learners off the quiet residential roads where they are making life miserable for me and send them on to the rural roads so that they would be executed at once.
Section 20 agreed to.
(1) When an application is duly made under and in accordance with this Part of this Act to a licensing authority for a driving licence and there has been paid to such licensing authority by the applicant the excise duty for the time being required by law to be paid on the taking out of a driving licence, such licensing authority shall, unless it appears to them that the applicant is under the age of fourteen years or is disqualified by or under this Act for holding a driving licence or neither ordinarily resides nor carries on business in their functional area, grant to such applicant a driving licence.
General Mulcahy: I am told that amendment 17 is not necessary.
Mr. Good: I was wondering whether the word “business” does not include “profession” also.
Amendment not moved.
Section 21 agreed to.
(1) Save as hereinafter otherwise provided, every driving licence granted under this Part of this Act shall operate and be expressed to operate to license the person to whom it is granted—
(a) if or when such person has attained the age of fourteen years and is under the age of seventeen years, to drive a motor cycle.
(b) if or when such person has attained the age of seventeen years and is under the age of eighteen years, to drive any kind of light motor vehicle, and
(c) if or when such person has attained the age of eighteen years  and is under the age of twenty-one years, to drive any kind of mechanically propelled vehicle except a heavy motor vehicle or a locomotive actually carrying passengers for reward, and
(d) if or when such person has attained the age of twenty-one years, to drive any kind of mechanically propelled vehicle.
Mr. Davin: I move amendment 20.
In sub-section (1), (b), line 52, after the word “vehicle” to insert the words “not carrying passengers for reward.”
I put this down because I believe there ought to be some age-limit below which a person should be deemed not to be competent to drive passengers for reward. Without this amendment there would be an inducement to owners of vehicles to employ boys. There would be an inducement to the owners of motor vehicles to employ—as they should not be allowed to employ in the face of the fact that there were such large numbers unemployed—boys below the age of 17. I do not think that sort of thing should be encouraged, and I put down this amendment to prevent owners from employing boys under 18.
General Mulcahy: A light motor vehicle is simply a taxi, a street service car, or a private hiring car, one or the other. If we take the school-leaving age we find that the school-leaving age for the primary schools is at 15. Perhaps in Dublin it runs along to 16. Under Continuation Education, the compulsory age is 16, and the principal difficulty people always have with regard to boys is their employment just after they leave school. Numerous cases occur by reason of the fact that the boy does not get into an occupation at the time he leaves school. His character is destroyed and his value in business or in the industrial world is prejudiced by reason of the time he has been unemployed. If the taxi-driver has a son, this amendment would prevent his son at the age of 17 years becoming a taxi-driver. It would prevent the son of a hotel proprietor taking  out the car belonging to the hotel and driving some of the hotel visitors for hire. I think that we ought not to close down a case like that when we should take into consideration that any young person driving either a street service vehicle or a private vehicle must be a person who has been tested for competency under the Bill. Deputy Davin, I take it, has only in mind the driving of buses?
Mr. Davin: Taxis, buses, and hired motor cars.
General Mulcahy: Taxis and motor cars would come under the description of light motor vehicles, but buses would not.
Mr. Moore: I would ask Deputy Davin not to press his amendment. He must know that in the circumstances under which boys are brought up nowadays they are looking forward from the time that they are ten years of age to becoming drivers of motors or taxis. It is their biggest ambition in the world. At the age of 15 a boy is very often competent to drive a motor-car and many are specially competent at the age of 17 because they have grown up in a motor atmosphere. Unless we are prepared to offer alternative employment to a boy of 17 it would be unjust to forbid him to get a licence to drive a car. There are not many alternatives open to them, and boys at the age of 17 who cannot drive motor vehicles are in fact suffering a tremendous disadvantage. They will not get any employment. You have perhaps 40,000 vehicles classed as light motor vehicles and if you are going to say that a boy of 17 must remain idle though he is competent to drive a motor vehicle you are putting him under a great disadvantage. This is a dangerous amendment and I ask the Deputy not to press it.
Mr. Davin: I am putting it to the Minister that every Deputy knows that there is a considerable number of unemployed drivers in this country. While we have a situation of that kind it should not be made easier for the owners of motor-cars plying for hire to employ comparatively young boys at a small wage while married men with families are unemployed. That is the  point of view from which I am considering the matter. If you allow the section to stand you are putting it in the power of owners of motor-cars to employ boys before they are physically fit, thereby depriving unemployed married men of a livelihood. I ask the Minister to reconsider the matter from that point of view, that is, of the married men and their dependents. It is far more necessary to provide an opportunity for employment for them than to pass this Section enabling boys under 17 or 18 years of age to be employed.
General Mulcahy: The Deputy is asking us to take away here a power which exists at the present moment with regard to persons of that age.
Mr. Davin: This Bill is reviewing the whole road traffic regulations which are, I suppose, fifty years out of date. I cannot say for certain how many thousand unemployed there are in this country including hundreds of motor drivers. We should not make it possible for these people to be left out of employment longer than the time in which they can secure it. By passing the section as it stands, we are allowing young men to pass a test and secure employment as motor drivers who are perhaps not as well qualified as the older men who are out of work.
Mr. Good: I would like to say in this connection that every corner of every village in this country is filled with young boys of from 17 to 20. It is the aim of a number of labour representatives at the moment—I do not say it is Deputy Davin's aim—to try and keep young people out of employment. If people do not get the opportunity of making good early in life, the time passes when they can be trained for any useful occupation. I would urge in the interests of those young people that it is just as important that they should get employment as that the older people should get it. I think we ought to try, in the interests of the whole State, to do something towards breaking down the different barriers which are preventing those young people from getting into useful occupations and from being as good citizens  as they would be if they got employment. From that point of view I am with the Minister, and I think that these young people ought to get the opportunity that is denied them in several walks of life.
Mr. Davin: I want to say there is no such intention in my mind as to deprive any man from getting employment and I shall join in co-operation with Deputy Good and with all other parties in this House to attain that end, but I want to take the men who are getting relief off the rates and you should do this before you create new avenues for employment for people not so well qualified.
General Mulcahy: This is not a new avenue of employment.
Mr. Davin: You are increasing the disadvantages of married men.
Mr. Cassidy: Deputy Good has alluded to the fact that there are a  large number of young people who are driving buses.
General Mulcahy: This does not refer to driving buses at all.
Mr. Cassidy: Light motors. While Deputy Davin and the Labour Party do not object to young people getting employment we claim that the first to get employment should be the married men and I venture to say to Deputy Good that one of the reasons why married men are passed over and employment given to the young men is that employers in Dublin city and county in many cases endeavour, as far as light vehicles are concerned, to take advantage of the situation by employing young men at a low rate of wages. We say that preference should be given to the married man with a family and if employment is to be given to young men it should be at trade union rates.
The Committee divided: Tá, 30; Níl, 96.
Cassidy, Archie J.
Corry, Martin John.
Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
O'Connell, Thomas J.
O'Dowd, Patrick Joseph.
Sheehy, Timothy (Tipp.).
Alton, Ernest Henry.
Beckett, James Walter.
Bennett, George Cecil.
Bourke, Séamus A.
Cole, John James.
Connolly, Michael P.
Cosgrave, William T. Haslett, Alexander.
Heffernan, Michael R.
Hennessy, Michael Joseph.
Hogan, Patrick (Galway).
Kelly, Patrick Michael.
Kennedy, Michael Joseph.
Kent, William R.
Law, Hugh Alexander.
Lemass, Seán F.
Little, Patrick John.
Mathews, Arthur Patrick.
McFadden, Michael Og.
Mongan, Joseph W.
Murphy, James E.
Murphy, Joseph Xavier.
|Craig, Sir James.
De Valera, Eamon.
Dolan, James N.
Doyle, Peadar Seán.
Duggan, Edmund John.
Egan, Barry M.
Finlay, Thomas A.
Gorey, Denis J.
Harris, Thomas. Myles, James Sproule.
Nally, Martin Michael.
Nolan, John Thomas.
O'Donovan. Timothy Joseph.
O'Hanlon, John F.
O'Kelly Seán T.
O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
Redmond, William Archer.
Shaw, Patrick W.
Sheehy, Timothy (West Cork).
Thrift, William Edward.
Ward, Francis C.
White, Vincent Joseph.
Wolfe, Jasper Travers.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Hogan (Clare) and Cassidy; Níl: Deputies Duggan and P.S. Doyle.
Amendment declared lost.
Mr. Cassidy: I move amendment 21:
In sub-section (1) (b), line 52, after the word “vehicle” to insert the words “or motor cycle.”
There appears to have been an omission in the drafting of this Section. This amendment proposes to remedy that omission. Section 19 provides that no person shall hold more than one driving licence at a time, whereas Section 22 lays down that every driving licence granted shall operate to licence the person to whom it is granted: “(a) if or when such person has attained the age of 14 years and is under the age of 17 years to drive a motor cycle. (b) if or when such person has attained the age of 17 years and is under the age of 18 years to drive any kind of motor vehicle” and “(c) if or when such person has attained the age of 18 years and is under the age of 21 years to drive any kind of mechanically propelled vehicle except a heavy motor vehicle or a locomotive actually carrying passengers for reward.” This would allow persons over 18 to drive light motor vehicles or motor cycles but, as drafted, the Bill would not permit a person licensed to drive a light motor vehicle to drive a motor cycle. I submit that that is unreasonable and my amendment is intended to provide that a person who has attained 17 years of age but is under 18 and who is entitled to drive a light motor vehicle shall be also entitled to drive a motor cycle.
General Mulcahy: I accept the Deputy's amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. S.T. O'Kelly: I move amendment 22:
At the end of sub-section 1, to add a new paragraph as follows:—
“(e) if or when such person has attained the age of eighteen years and is under twenty-one years and has been at the date of the passing of this Act in three months' continuous occupation as the driver of a heavy motor vehicle, to drive any kind of mechanically-propelled vehicle.”
 There are in Dublin, and there probably are in other places, young persons under 21 years at present driving heavy motor vehicles and driving such vehicles which apply for hire. I believe it would be a hardship if such young men, having been in continuous employment for a number of months and having given satistion, should be deprived of their employment by the passage of this Bill. It is for the purpose of meeting that position that I move this amendment.
Major Myles: On behalf of Deputy Haslett I should like to point out that the amendment in his name is practically the same as the amendment moved by Deputy O'Kelly. Without the amendment of this clause, a person who has driven a particular type of vehicle for substantial periods before the Act comes into operation will be disqualified for the driving of that type of vehicle. Apart from the injustice to the owner-driver, this may seriously affect many young persons whose living may depend upon their being permitted to drive. You are going to create a period of unemployment and bring about all the disadvantages pointed out by Deputy Moore by allowing under this section a period to elapse which would seriously affect these drivers. A case has been put up already dealing with the men who are fairly competent to drive and have been driving.
General Mulcahy: The ideas in both of these amendments are acceptable, and I shall get something drafted to meet them. I should just like to say what I have in mind. I feel that we have to discriminate between the person who has a driving licence simply by reason of the fact that he is in employment that requires it.
I think we have to take the date of the passing of the Act and that a person holding a licence issued more than six months before the passing of the Act should continue to be allowed to hold a licence although he did not conform to the ages in the Bill. That would include a motor cycle  licence. But, in the case of a person who, at the passing of the Bill, was in employment and had a licence which was necessary to his employment, I think we would have to shorten the period in respect of the licence for that. It would be, to some extent, unreasonble that persons should take people into their employment and get them a driving licence while the Bill is actually before the House, and I should like to give further consideration to that. Where, on the passing of the Act, there is a person in employment having a driving licence and his employment depending on that, where that licence has been issued more than two months before the passing of the Act, I think it might be reasonable to continue a licence to such a person although he did not come into accordance with the age limit, rather than that a person who obviously had been two months in a particular employment should be thrown out of that employment for a period, great or small. Deputies may have some comments to make on approaching the position on these particular lines and I shall be glad to hear them.
Professor Thrift: Will that mean that a new licence will be issued when the other expires?
General Mulcahy: Yes.
Mr. Moore: If a licence had been two months in force at the passing of the Act, will that be taken as implying that the owner had been in employment during that time, that there would be no proof of employment required?
General Mulcahy: No. If it was proved to the satisfaction of whatever authority is responsible for recalling that licence, if it were not properly in existence, that the person would be deprived of his employment if the licence was not continued, then that licence, although it was less than six months in existence, say, in two-and-a-half or three months, would be continued.
Amendments, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. Davin: On the section, I would like to draw attention to sub-section  (c) line 55, where I think the failure to put in a comma at the end of the word “vehicle” leaves the sub-section open to a wrong interpretation. Perhaps some poor taxpayer will be put to the expense of having to pay lawyers to interpret that later on.
General Mulcahy: I shall have that examined, although I understand these things are supposed to work without commas.
Section, as amended, put and agreed to.
(1) It shall be the duty of every person to whom a driving licence is granted after the commencement of this Part of this Act forthwith to sign his name on such licence in the place indicated in that behalf therein.
(2) Nothwithstanding anything contained in this Act, no driving licence granted after the commencement of this Part of this Act shall be in force or of any effect until the person to whom it is granted has signed his name thereon in accordance with this section.
Major Myles: On behalf of Deputy Haslett I move: “To delete sub-section (2).” The effect of the section as it stands is that though a licence has been obtained and a fee paid for it would have no affect till signed. If the section were to remain as it stands it would mean that a person could have two summonses issued against him for the one offence. I am sure that the Minister does not mean that a man should be prosecuted on two counts for one offence.
General Mulcahy: What are the two counts?
Major Myles: If a man is found without having his licence signed under sub-section (1) he can be summonsed for not having signed his name to it, and under sub-section (2) for having in his possession a licence that is not signed. I suggest that the two subsections should be run into one by taking out the word “notwithstanding” and substituting the word “and” so as to make it one offence.
General Mulcahy: There is nothing in the section to make it one offence. What is in the section is that a person is without a licence until he signs it. The purpose of requiring a licensee to sign his licence is to provide simple machinery for identification. Deputy Good was speaking of the necessity for attaching a photograph to every licence. That is more simply and satisfactorily met by requiring the licensee to sign the licence. I see no difficulty in the licensee signing the licence immediately after he gets it.
Major Myles: Why keep two subsections in the Bill that will allow of two charges being made against a man for one offence?
General Mulcahy: There is nothing here to make failure to sign a licence an offence. There is nothing to make anything under Section 23 an offence, but if a person has not got his licence signed, then under the section which requires him to have a licence he can be punished.
Major Myles: Does it not carry a penalty when a man neglects his duty?
General Mulcahy: I am afraid it does not always follow.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section put and agreed to.
Subject to the provisions of this Part of this Act, every driving licence shall remain in force for twelve months from the date on which it commences and shall then expire.
Mr. Good: I move Amendment 25:—
In line 31, after the word “twelve” to insert the word “calendar.”
This amendment is consequential on an amendment we were discussing on the definitions. I suggested that the definition of the word “year” should be twelve calendar months and this is consequential on that. The Minister might consider this along with the other.
General Mulcahy: Some adjustment will be made on the other one, but  here it is covered by 1 (1) d of the Interpretation Act and is unnecessary.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section put and agreed to.
Section 25 agreed to.
(1) Every person who drives or attempts to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place while he is drunk shall be guilty of an offence under this section and on summary conviction thereof shall—
(a) if such mechanically propelled vehicle is a public service vehicle, be liable, in the case of first offence under this section, to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for any term not exceeding three months or to both such fine and such imprisonment and, in the case of a second or any subsequent offence under this section irrespective of the kind of vehicle in relation to which the previous offence or offences was or were committed, to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for any term not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment, or
(2) Whenever a person is convicted of an offence under this section the court by whom such person is so convicted shall make an order (in this Act referred to as a consequential disqualification order) declaring such person to be disqualified for holding a driving licence during such period as such court shall think proper and shall specify in such order but not less than—
Mr. Moore: I move amendment 25A on behalf of Deputy O'Kelly:—
In sub-section (1) (a), lines 46 and 47, to delete the words: “if  such mechanically propelled vehicle is a public service vehicle,” and to delete paragraph (b).
The purpose is to make the penalty for any person charged with drunkenness the same, whether it be a public service vehicle or a private vehicle. The opinion we have formed on this question is that if anybody should be penalised more than another it is the private motorist. The weight of the law should not fall upon the driver of a public service vehicle, or rather should not fall with more emphasis on the driver of a public service vehicle than of a private vehicle. There is no good attempting to discriminate as to which would be the greater danger on the road. Everybody knows that when a motor accident occurs there are generally two parties involved, and that it is as often the private motor driver as much as the public vehicle driver that is to blame. To make it a less offence for the driver of a private motor car to be drunk in charge of his car than for a driver of a public service vehicle to be drunk in charge of his vehicle, is if anything reversing what appears to us to be the natural order. A private motorist is supposed to be a more substantial man and to be a man of position generally speaking. Consequently, he ought to be a more educated man with more sense of responsibility than the driver of a public service vehicle. Then again a fine means a great deal less to him than to the driver of a publice service vehicle. A fine of £50 to many private motorists would not be a very great punishment, but to the driver of a public service vehicle it would be a very big punishment. We realise that it is very important in the case of drivers of public service vehicles that every possible means should be adopted to prevent them running the risk of being drunk in charge of vehicles over which they have control. When the Minister is looking at it from the point of view that the driver of a public service vehicle is in charge of, and responsible for a larger number of passengers, he is taking what seems to us to be a rather narrow view.
The private motor driver who is  drunk on the road has similar responsibilities to every other motor vehicle on the road, and for that matter to every pedestrian and cyclist as well. The driver of a private motor car who gets drunk can cause any amount of damage. He could cause the upset of a bus completely full of passengers and we can see no real reason for making this discrimination in the Bill.
General Mulcahy: There are two points that I would like to make in connection with this before the discussion goes on. A public service vehicle as the section stands shall include a large bus, small bus, taxi, and private hired vehicle. We are considering the position of the driver of a private vehicle and driver of a goods vehicle on the one hand. The Bill suggests the offence of drunkenness should be more leniently dealt with so far as maximum penalties are concerned and minimum qualifications with regard to that particular class. There are three classes. The big and small bus, that is buses carrying from fourteen passengers upwards, and buses carrying from six up to fourteen. Then the small street service and private hire vehicles. Then persons running big and small lorries and persons running private cars. I am inclined to think there should be— and at any rate I want the opinion of the House as to whether there should be—greater penalties for any of these particular classes. Personally, I feel there ought to be a higher penalty in respect of the person driving a larger public service vehicle as distinct from what is in the Bill, that is a person in charge of a bus of from 20 to 36 passengers. That person, in a state of drunkenness, may do a lot more than run into another car. He may run into a wall or over a bridge with 32 passengers on board, and I think that greater strictness is required with regard to that particular class of vehicle. However, I would like to have the opinion of the House on that. We think that the taxi and the private hire car might be put into the normal class. Then, having come to a decision as to whether there should be any discrimination at all, I think  on this section we will want some discussion as to whether the penalties imposed here on a public service vehicle—that is the higher penalties— are thought to be excessive or not.
Mr. J.X. Murphy: I am rather inclined to agree with Deputy O'Kelly's amendment, I think there is a good deal of force in what Deputy Moore has said. The privately owned car can do a tremendous lot of damage if the man driving it is drunk. It can cause a bus to swerve and turn over, during which many passengers may be killed. I fail to see why the Minister thinks that the driver of a taxi should be treated differently from the driver of an ordinary car.
General Mulcahy: Personally I am prepared to forgo that, but in the case of buses or heavy public service vehicles I am not.
Mr. Murphy: I am inclined to agree whole-heartedly with Deputy O'Kelly's amendment.
Sir James Craig: I do not think the punishment can be sufficiently great for a drunken man who attempts to drive a car. Since I sat on the Liquor Commission and heard the evidence given there I formed the opinion that we could in practice not inflict any punishment that could be sufficiently great upon such a man. In my opinion the punishment here is too slight. I think it is a dreadful thing that anyone drunk can drive a 'bus containing maybe 32 persons whose lives are depending upon him and run perhaps into another car or a ditch or anything of that sort. In addition there is the danger to the community. If I had my will I would increase, in every direction, instead of diminishing, the punishments for drunkenness while driving motor vehicles. Nor would I make any difference between a man who is driving a vehicle carrying five persons or a bus carrying thirty persons. There is as much danger in the one as there is in the other. I overlooked the fact that I wanted to say something about Section 25. I think that section is useless because of the words it contains, namely, “to his knowledge.” No man is going to  say that when he undertook to drive a car he was incapable. I think the words “to his knowledge” render the section practically inoperative. I would like to see the Minister tightening up Section 26 and to make the penalty greater. I could say a great deal about that if I wished. I have seen cases where life was lost because people were drunk in charge of vehicles.
Mr. Moore: May I ask if Deputy Sir James Craig is supporting the amendment?
Mr. Flinn: I am inclined to agree with Deputy Sir James Craig and generally with those of his opinion. I am not taking that view on the immediate line of the amendment, but on the general principle. Long before a man is drunk he is a danger to himself and to society if he is in charge of a motor car. I am not speaking of the man who is obviously drunk. A man who will allow hiself to get into that state, a state of actual drunkenness, and then drive a public vehicle is a criminal. I have no hesitation at all in saying that. He has a lump of metal on the road with a momentum which is flying along the roads at 40 or 50 miles an hour. He is not fit to be in charge of such a lethal weapon and to be let loose on the public. I am taking the line that long before a man is in that condition he is a danger. This is a subject upon which I think most of us can speak with a certain amount of experience because most of us have been in a condition a good deal on the right side of being drunk, and yet in a position to recognise that we were not as competent as we ought to be. You have the man who goes to an ordinary house at night. He has dinner and he is coming away just a little bit “fresh.” That man is dangerous. The man who knowingly goes out with a vehicle in that condition most certainly ought not to be treated with any consideration. As a result of knowingly going out in that preventable condition of incompetence and taking charge of a vehicle he becomes a danger to the public. In this particular matter I will uphold the most  stringent treatment of any man either in a state of drunkenness or in an incipient state of incapacity, who while in charge of a motor car causes damage to other people.
Mr. Davin: If the amendment is put to a division I will support it, believing that the object aimed at is sound. I realise, as the Minister has pointed out, that a person who is charged with being drunk while in charge of a public vehicle, with the lives of 36 passengers at his mercy, is certainly a person likely to cause great damage and, if you like, to kill more people than a person who is in charge of a private car. I do not like the idea of fixing a maximum penalty, without at the same time putting in a minimum penalty for a first or second offence. I am entirely opposed to the imposition of a fine in the case of a person who is found guilty of drunkenness on a second offence while in charge of a private or a public vehicle. I think a person who is found drunk for the second time, whether in charge of a private or a public vehicle, should be in Mountjoy Prison.
I would like to see an amendment of the section so as to prescribe a minimum penalty for a first offence, and certainly imprisonment for drunkenness while in charge of a car for a second offence. Certain people are in a position to have more than one car and, to them, £20, £10, or £5 would only mean as much as 5s. would mean to the milkman who sells milk at 1s. 8d. a gallon, to which he has added 50 per cent. of water. A fine of £5, £10 or £20 to a man with £10,000 a year who can afford to get drunk means nothing to him as compared with a poor person who is driving a public service vehicle, but Mountjoy is a deterrent, and the Minister might amend the Bill so as to order detention in such cases.
Sir James Craig: I agree with Deputy Flinn that the man who is half drunk, as we call it, is a much greater danger than the man who is wholly drunk. The latter will not encourage people to get into his bus. A man who is wholly drunk has sense  enough to know that he is not able to get into the bus and to drive it. It is the man who is partially drunk, who has lost his judgment, who is the greatest offender, and the greatest danger. I agree with Deputy Davin and I would like to see such a man getting no option to imprisonment if convicted a second time.
Mr. Finlay: If there be any amendment of this section I would certainly like to see it in the way of tightening it up. I do not see why any distinction should be made between the driver of a public vehicle and the driver of a private car. It may be said perhaps that the driver of a public vehicle must be competent to carry the public safely, but in a number of collisions— and there was one a few days ago— the accidents to public vehicles have been caused by drivers of private vehicles who were incapable of driving cars. I think the position as between the driver of a public vehicle and the driver of a private vehicle can very well be left to the court trying the case. The court will have certain discretion, even though this section be tightened, as to the penalty that is to be imposed, we will take it for a first offence. The penalty which the court may impose will depend a great deal on the circumstance of the case. I can quite see that the maximum penalty for a first offence would, in certain cases, be decided upon by the court, in the case of the driver of a public vehicle, and at the same time the maximum sentence might be imposed by the court on the driver of a private vehicle, because owing to the action of that driver a number of people were injured.
With regard to the other matter mentioned by Deputy Sir James Craig, I think this section as it stands meets what was a defect in the existing law with regard to the charge of being drunk when driving a motor car. The usual defence in such cases—and I have come across a number of them— is that the onus is on anyone prosecuting a person for being drunk in charge of a car, irrespective of type, to prove that the person was drunk. I think sub-section 3 meets that,  because the onus is not now on the prosecution to prove that the person was drunk, or was in such a state of intoxication that a Guard was arresting him irrespective of whether he was in immediate relation to the car or not.
Sub-section (3) provides that the real question to be decided is whether a person, by reason of the amount of intoxicating liquor he had consumed, is incapable of managing a car. That is going a great way towards remedying any defect which existed in the law in the past. It was a serious difficulty, a difficulty which gave an entirely unmerited defence to people prosecuted under the Act. I would impress on the Minister not to allow any change to be made in the section at all. From my own experience there has been an increase in the number of cases, certainly in Dublin recently. If there be any change in the section, I would suggest to the Minister that it should be on the lines of tightening it up and leaving it to the discretion of the court as to whether there should be any distinction made between the driver of a public and a private vehicle.
Mr. Moore: I hope that Deputy Finlay understands that our proposal is to tighten up the penalties.
General Mulcahy: Is any voice in the Committee going to be raised for differentiation? As far as I can see there is none. I take it, then, that we ought to accept the amendments which are before us. Deputy O'Kelly has made that particular point that there should be no differentiation as between different classes of vehicles. Then I ask the Committee to turn their attention to the punishments that are provided, and see if we can elucidate further what particular type of tightening up in respect of them is desirable. The position at the present moment is that a person convicted on the first offence may be fined £50 and sentenced to three months' imprisonment, and that he will be disqualified from driving for a period of not less than twelve months. For the second offence a fine of £100 may be inflicted and or six months' imprisonment, together  with the minimum disqualification of three years from driving.
Amendment put and agreed to.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Amendments 27, 28 and 29 are consequential on that amendment.
The following amendments were agreed to:—
27. In sub-section (2) (a), page 15, lines 11 and 12, to delete the words “was committed in relation to a public service vehicle and”.—Seán T. O Ceallaigh.
28. In sub-section (2) (b), lines 15 and 16, to delete the words “was committed in relation to a public service vehicle and”.—Seán T. O Ceallaigh.
29. In sub-section (2), to delete paragraphs (c) and (d).—Seán T. O Ceallaigh.
Mr. Haslett: I move amendment 26:
In sub-section (2), line 5, to delete the word “shall” and substitute therefor the word “may.”
I may say that I would be the last Deputy in the House to wish to slacken any regulations that might be made under the section. I realise the danger that exists, and I endorse the words that have fallen from all Benches in regard to them. My amendment proposes to substitute the word “may” for “shall,” because we all know that there are at times border-line cases. There have been cases that presented a good deal of difficulty to the justice trying them, where the person charged has been very technically in error. I do not want to minimise the fines or the punishment, but to leave some little discretion in the power of the justice who tries the case. A great deal can be said for that attitude, inasmuch as every justice, having the witnesses and the person charged before him, is in a very strong position to judge whether that person was negligent or whether it was a technical offence. It is only on that point that my amendment is proposed. I do not wish to minimise any of the punishments, but just to leave a certain discretion with the justice. It would  seem to be mandatory if a technical offence is committed.
General Mulcahy: This amendment really involves the whole question of the general type of punishment. Deputy Haslett's amendment would put the section into the position that conviction for drunkenness in charge of a car would not invariably bring disqualification. The section as it stands means that conviction, whatever be the fine or other punishment inflicted, must bring disqualification for a minimum period of twelve months in the first instance, and three years in the second instance. As I say, the question at issue is the general type of punishment that should be inflicted for these offences.
Professor Alton: I would ask the Minister not to relax one iota in this respect.
Mr. Finlay: I would also ask the Minister not to accept Deputy Haslett's amendment. I think that when there is a conviction for the offence of being drunk in charge of a motor car there should follow automatically disqualification for the period mentioned. Under the Motor Car Act of 1903 the justices have power at the moment— and it is a power which has been exercised in some cases recently—of disqualifying people for certain periods after an offence has been committed; but every time an attempt is made to have such disqualification imposed, as is now empowered by the Motor Car Act, the defendant immediately makes the case that it is a matter of particular hardship in his case—that it is really going to prejudice his business and perhaps deprive him of his livelihood for a certain time. Where an offence of this nature is committed I think it certainly merits the punishment of disqualification, and that it is not a matter which should be left to the discretion of the court, that when the court proceeds to a conviction, automatically flowing from that, as is provided by the sub-section, there should be the disqualification mentioned.
Mr. Fahy: I quite agree with Deputy Finlay that the excuse of depriving an  offender of his livilihood should not be considered when the offender runs the risk of depriving pedestrians and others of their lives. He should also be deprived of his licence automatically. It should not be optional. I would ask the Minister to consider, regarding a second offence, whether a fine of £100 is not too large. The man is then deprived of his licence for three years. Take the case of a wealthy man who can employ a driver. It does not matter very much to him to be deprived of his licence, and it looks like class legislation. I think that for a second offence there should be a term of imprisonment without the option of a fine.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
[An Ceann Comhairle took the Chair.]
General Mulcahy: On the section itself, I understand that the Committee desires that on the first offence there should be a minimum disqualification for twelve months, and that on the second offence there should be a mimimum disqualification for three years. Then there is the question in the case of the first offence of the maximum fine of £50 and a sentence of not more than three months; the three months sentence not to be obligatory. In the same way for a second offence the maximum fine is £100 and a sentence, which is not obligatory, of six months. I would like to have the opinion of the Committee as to the amount of the fines — £50 in one case and £100 in another. I should like to have all the information possible on the matter of the suggested imprisonment of three months for the first offence and six months for the second offence and all the information possible as to whether there should be an obligatory sentence of imprisonment for the second offence.
Mr. O'Kelly: For my part I think the measure of imprisonment set down is sufficient. I think it meets the case. I think it is a sufficient deterrent to anybody who might be inclined to run the risk, while intoxicated, of driving a motor car. On the question of fines,  I mentioned here on the Second Reading, and I should like to bring it before the Minister again, the point of view that has been put to me, that the penalties set out here in this Section and throughout the Bill for offences of this kind do seem to suggest class legislation; that there are individuals who in the ordinary course of their business are employed as motor drivers who could not possibly pay a fine of £50, men to whom £50 would mean all that they had in the world, and that there are other persons who would be liable to be brought within the ambit of this Section and to whom £50 fine would mean nothing. Would it be possible to consider the putting into operation in this country of the system which I believe is in operation in other countries though I have not any personal knowledge of it. I am told that fines are imposed in this way: A man is asked what his wages are or what his salary is, and the fines are regulated by imposing penalties of so many weeks' wages or so many months' wages or salary, as the case may be. They are fined in proportion to their income. If that could be done it would be possible to arrive at a system that would be fair to all concerned. I do not want the fines to be any less drastic. I want the fines to be at least as drastic as they are set out in the Bill, but I want that they should be made to fit the income of the offender, so that they would be equally fair and just to all in proportion to their earnings and to their financial capacity and their position generally. I should be glad to know if the Minister has given any thought to that matter and whether he feels that it would be at all practicable?
Prof. Thrift: There is a danger that we are letting our feelings run away with our sense of justice in this matter. There is a danger of the House taking on itself the functions of a court. The Section as it stands leaves it to the discretion of the court to say whether the penalty is to be without the option of a fine or not, and I think it would be a regrettable thing if the House took away from the court that discretion. In certain cases  it would be wrong to give the option of a fine without imprisonment, because imprisonment would be the only thing that would be fair and just. But I do not think the House should say when that situation would arise. I am in favour of leaving the matter in the discretion of the court.
Mr. Finlay: With regard to the penalty, I should think that the penalty certainly for the first offence is quite adequate, and with regard to the remarks of Deputy O'Kelly as to fines, generally the position is this: A fine may be imposed, but take the case of the Justice in the District Court. The District Justice in deciding when the fine must be paid must have regard in the first instance to the ability of the defendant to pay it. If he considers that the nature of the offence merits the imposition of a penalty of £10, then under the Criminal Administration Act of 1914 he always should have regard to the ability of the defendant to pay. Only in the case where the defendant is likely to abscond or leave the locality, which does not happen in most cases, does the justice order that the fine should be immediately paid, and as a matter of course when time is asked for the payment of the fine, time is granted to meet the circumstances of the particular defendant. So I think that under the existing law the court has ample scope to deal with the payment of penalties, having regard to the ability of the defendant to pay. With regard to the second offence, I think that a great deal can be said for having imprisonment in such a case, and not leave it in the discretion of the court to say whether there should be imprisonment or not. The very nature of the offence prescribed by this section is an offence of a most serious nature against the public generally. If a person has committed an offence once, I think it would be a very good thing for this legislature to declare by this Bill that if he is let off or dealt with at the discretion of the court, then if he commits it a second time there should be one, and only one penalty for the professional man,  manufacturer, merchant or working man. I would ask the Minister to accept it as six months' hard labour at the discretion of the court.
Mr. Davin: Deputy O'Kelly in pleading for mercy for motorists drunk while driving a motor car for the first or second time, has unintentionally ignored the facts that the penalty is a maximum penalty; that the justice or the judge, or whoever would try the case, would have a discretion to make the penalty anything from 5/- to £50. The owner or the owner-driver of a private car may not have any difficulty in paying a fine of £100 for a second offence, while it would be absolutely impossible for the driver of a public vehicle earning £3 a week or so to provide the sum laid down in the section for the second offence. In the circumstances therefore, such a defendant would have to accept the hospitality of the State in Mountjoy. I am entirely in sympathy with Deputy Finlay's suggestion that there should be no discretion allowed to the justices to impose a fine in the case of a conviction for the second offence, and that the defendant, whether he be a well-to-do owner-driver of a private motor car or the driver of a public vehicle, should be imprisoned. The public would welcome his detention in Mountjoy at their expense, because he would be far safer there than to allow him out on the road to commit a third offence. I entirely sympathise with the suggestion put forward by Deputy Finlay, and I hope the Minister will amend the Bill on these lines.
Mr. Flinn: I agree with Deputy Thrift. I think the intrusion of the term “class legislation” has been a mistake. That is founded on a misapprehension. It is hard to make the penalty fit the conditions. I cannot find any formula that will meet the case and which would be strictly just. The best thing you can do is to give power to the judge to fix the penalty and not bring in an amendment like this which would take it out of his hands. The phrase used by Deputy Finlay is a very excellent one and I  think it ought to dominate this discussion. The nature of the offence of a man driving a motor car is not at all the same as say the case of a man losing his temper.
In the case of a man driving a motor car while under the influence of drink there has been very definite conscious preliminaries. The man has deliberately put himself in the position of being a danger to the public. The man having once done so and having been convicted he has had his warning. He is putting himself in that position of being a danger to the public and under these circumstances I would say that he should have to take the consequences. Such a man is taking a serious responsibility in driving a public vehicle at all. When the man knows that he cannot keep off drink then it is for him to keep off the motor car driving. The one thing that I do object to in Deputy Finlay's argument is the six months. I think again that this is a question that should be left to the discretion of a judge. It is the mere fact of imprisonment that will matter and not so much the period of imprisonment. It is the fact that he has had to undergo imprisonment that makes the radical difference. I would make it certain on his conviction a second time for this offence that he would be imprisoned, but I would leave it to the justice to say what the maximum period of imprisonment should be.
Mr. J.X. Murphy: I am in full support of what Deputy Finlay says. I do not understand what Deputy Flinn says. Is not that the maximum period in the Bill?
Mr. Flinn: No; the suggestion was that the man for the second offence should automatically go to prison for six months. That was Deputy Finlay's suggestion.
Mr. J.X. Murphy: It is three months in the Bill.
Mr. Briscoe: I think that Deputy Davin has slightly misunderstood what Deputy O'Kelly was referring to. I want to support Deputy O'Kelly in this  point, and I do so in spite of Deputy Flinn's fear that we might be discussing class distinctions. This is my point of view: it is not the first or second offence that I am concerned with; I am concerned, and we are all concerned, with trying to make it as impossible as it can be for any person driving a motor car to be under the influence of drink. Now there are people who have sufficiently large incomes to be able to laugh at a fine of £50. It seems to me that that fine for a first offence would not have the same effect on them by way of punishment as a fine of a few shillings would have on a defendant who is earning a small salary or who is a working man. Deputy O'Kelly mentioned that in some countries they measure the punishment by way of fine on the basis of the man's income. I would like to say that the justices here do that already. I have had professional men, agents and business men come to me and say: “How is it when I go to court for a tail-light charge the justice asks me what is my business, and when I tell him he says, ‘You are fined £2,’ while another man comes along for the same offence immediately after and the justice says ‘5/-’?” I can see the sense of that. A fine of 5/- to an ordinary motor driver may be a far greater punishment than a fine of £2 to a professional man or manufacturer. I say that so far as the second offence is concerned, in the case of drunkenness in driving a motor car, no punishment is too severe. We should make it as difficult as possible for any man to take the risk of driving a car while under the influence of drink, hoping that he may escape an accident. There should be some way of thinking out a method of making an arrangement so as to have it that for the first offence the man who is able to laugh at a fine of £50 should be made to feel the punishment. Sometimes a wealthy man will no more feel that fine than some of us would feel a fine of 5/-. In the case of the first offender, unless there is a definite criminal activity on the part of the driver the Justice is not going to send him to prison. He is going to fine him the maximum. I join with Deputy O'Kelly in asking the House to consider  that the punishment for drunkenness in driving a motor car should be made as severe as possible in the case of the driver of a car, taking into consideration that in inflicting the punishment the rich man will be made feel it just as severely as the poor man.
General Mulcahy: I want to say what impression the discussion has made on me. What I propose to do on the Report Stage is this: As the Bill now stands, there is no discrimination between the different classes of punishment. To some extent Deputy O'Kelly has been answered with regard to the point of means. £50 and £100 are maximum fines, and it is in the discretion of the justice to make the fine as low as he cares after having considered the merits of the case and the circumstances of the person charged. I propose to leave that £50 and that £100 there stand as maximum penalties for the first and second offence. If Deputies think that they would like to raise these figures, they can put down amendments embodying their views. In the same way the three and six months' imprisonment figures can be considered. I propose to leave these maximum penalties there. My judgment goes on the line of the matter that Deputy Thrift suggests— that we should leave it to the justice to say whether the case is such even for a second offence that imprisonment is right. If there are Deputies who consider that for a second offence there should be on conviction compulsory imprisonment they can think that matter over and put down an amendment. I would not propose from my side here to make it compulsory imprisonment for the offence, when the justice is there to give consideration to the matter, and to use his discretion.
Mr. Briscoe: Would the Minister consider that where the offender on his first conviction had been fined the maximum amount, and he had received the maximum punishment, that on a second conviction such an offender would be open to the maximum imprisonment?
General Mulcahy: The justice is there to deal with the whole circumstances on the second conviction, and he has the record of the defendant.
Mr. Briscoe: The Minister is aware that if it goes out that the House is considering this, and that a very serious view is taken by the House of drunkenness in charge of a motor car, it may have this effect, that persons will not take the chance of being convicted and imprisoned?
Mr. Davin: Will the Minister be prepared to leave it to a free vote of the House to say whether there should be compulsory imprisonment?
General Mulcahy: Yes, I am leaving it to the House to come to what conclusion it wishes.
Mr. Flinn: The House appreciates the spirit in which the Minister is trying to meet its views on this matter.
Mr. Moore: Before the section is put may I call the Minister's attention to some curious phrasing in sub-section 4, which reads: “Whenever a member of the Gárda Síochána is of opinion that an offence. ...has been committed in his view...” and so on. Is the intention there to say “within sight of the Gárda” or in his opinion? Is the phrase “in his view” an alternative for “in his opinion”?
General Mulcahy: I will say that it is in his sight.
Mr. Moore: I think it would want to be looked into.
Mr. Finlay: On the matter of the point raised by Deputy Moore, let us take the case of a Gárda going down the street; the offence is one of driving a motor car while the driver is intoxicated, and the Gárda going down the street does not see the man driving the motor car but he sees him getting out of the car, he sees the condition of the man getting out of the car, and the Gárda has reason to believe that an offence has been committed.
Mr. Moore: The point was whether the phrase “in his view” means in his  sight or in his opinion. If it means in his opinion it is tautology. There would be a redundancy there. The only meaning that one can read into it is that it is within his sight.
Gen. Mulcahy: It is within his sight and I understand that the phrase has been used in previous legislation. We can take a note of the matter and have it made perfectly clear.
Question—“That Sections 27 and 28 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
(2) Whenever a disqualification order is made in respect of a person who is, at the date of such order, the holder of a driving licence, such person shall, within three days after the making of such order, deliver such licence to the district court clerk of the district in which such order was made and such clerk shall thereupon send such licence to the licensing authority by which it was issued and such licensing authority shall retain such driving licence but shall, if the period of suspension under this section of such licence expires before such licence expires, return such licence to such person on demand made after the expiration of such period of suspension and before the expiration of such licence.
Professor Thrift: I move amendment 30:
In sub-section (2), line 25, to delete the word “three” and substitute therefor the word “five.”
I submit to the Minister that the period specified here is rather short. The person might be some distance away. It is not a very serious point, but I suggest that the three days should be made five. He might be up in Donegal, and it might take a day even to get notice of the order. I suggest that the three days be altered to five so as to give a reasonable time for complying with the order.
Mr. Good: It is the same principle as applies to Section 35. I have an amendment down dealing with the matter under Section 35, where we suggest seven days.
General Mulcahy: I am opposed to it on Section 35. A disqualification order can only be made when the applicants have been in court and application is made at that particular time. Normally you would expect a person charged with an offence in connection with this Bill to bring his licence to the court with him. A publican charged with an offence is bound to bring his licence into court for the inspection of the court. If we are in a position that a person can be disqualified, and that he is allowed a fairly long period to surrender his licence, abuses may arise.
Mr. Lemass: Would the Minister explain whether disqualification comes into operation when made or when the licence is surrendered?
General Mulcahy: When made.
Mr. Lemass: He is disqualified from holding a licence.
General Mulcahy: Otherwise a person could come into court charged with drunkenness, and could cheerfully drive away, after being disqualified, for a period of three years.
Mr. Lemass: The disqualification order disqualifies him, not from driving a car, but from holding a driving licence.
General Mulcahy: I would ask the Deputy to put down his amendment again and give me an opportunity of considering it on the Report Stage.
Professor Thrift: Sub-section (3) allows the court to accept a good reason for non-production within the specified time, but in that case he must have been summoned for non-production beforehand.
Mr. Good: Would the Minister also consider the question of tourists? We know that a good many of these people come to this country. They motor away to the West, and leave a considerable part of their luggage behind them, with perhaps the licence. Take the case of those men.
General Mulcahy: If a person is summoned for the non-production of a licence, then there is provision in the  Act. If he is challenged by a guard for non-production of a licence it is not an offence. He can say, “I will undertake to produce my licence," mentioning any particular Gárda station in the country he wishes, “within three days.” He has that protection, but this is a case where a person has actually been disqualified in connection with some particular charge from holding a driving licence. There are a number of cases in which this question occurs, and if the Deputy puts his amendment down on the Report Stage we will consider it again.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
The Committee to sit again to-day.
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