Thursday, 5 November 1931
Dáil Éireann Debate
(1) Whenever a driving licence (hereinafter referred to as the new licence) is granted under this Part of this Act to a person who is at the time of such grant or was previously thereto the holder of a driving licence (hereinafter referred to as the previous licence) which was endorsed under this Part of this Act, the licensing authority granting the new licence shall (unless such person has become entitled under this section to receive a driving licence free from endorsement) endorse on the new licence a copy of the endorsement or every endorsement on the previous licence, and the new licence so endorsed shall for all purposes be a driving licence endorsed under this Part of this Act.
(2) Where a person who is or has been the holder of a driving licence endorsed under this Part of this Act applies under and in accordance with this Act for a driving licence and satisfies the licensing authority to whom he so applies that during a continuous period of not less than three years ending on the date of such application he has lawfully held a driving licence, and has not had a driving licence held by him endorsed under this Part of this Act otherwise than by a licensing authority endorsing under this section a new licence, the driving licence (if any) granted by such licensing authority to such person on such application shall be granted without any endorsement under this Part of this Act and  shall not be for any purpose a licence endorsed under this Part of this Act and shall, if such person at the time of such application holds an unexpired driving licence and surrenders such driving licence to such licensing authority, commence immediately upon the grant thereof.
The idea is that to qualify for a renewal of the licence a man, instead of having a continuous period of three years prior to his application, has had an aggregate period of three years— that is, a period made up of periods of time with broken intervals—it should meet the case. What happens with these drivers is that a man may be in employment for three, four or five months and then be out of employment through no fault of his own for a period of two or three months before he gets employment again. It has been suggested that we would do an injury to a number of men who might not have continuous employment for three years if we were to keep this clause as it now reads.
Mr. Lemass: If that is Deputy Good's point it seems to me that he is going to delete the wrong words. The words he should move to delete are “he has lawfully held a driving licence and.” Deputy Good's point is that a person might not have had a licence at all during a period and that that should count, as it were, in the three years. These are the words I suggest he should delete, and I think there is a point in that.
General Mulcahy: As the section stands at present, if a person who some time at the end of 1925 had an endorsement, held a licence endorsed in the usual way for 1926 and held no licence for 1927, he would have to hold a licence for 1928, 1929 and 1930 before he could get an unendorsed licence. The Deputy wants to avoid that. We will see how we can meet it. I agree that we want to avoid circumstances like that. As regards a person being in possession of a licence for a period running into three years and no endorsement coming into any part of that period, that he get an unendorsed licence, I will see how we can meet that.
(1) Any member of the Gárda Síochána may demand of any person driving a mechanically propelled vehicle the production of his driving licence, and if such person refuses or fails to produce such licence there and then he shall, unless within three days after the date on which such production was demanded he produces his licence in person to a member of the Gárda Síochána at a Gárda Síochana station to be named by such person at the time at which such production was so demanded, be guilty of an offence under this section.
In this way we are seeking to extend the time from three days to seven days. The object of it is that if a motorist happens to be motoring somewhere in distant parts of the country and unfortunately has left his licence behind him, the three days in  which he is bound to produce his licence at a particular place under the provisions of the Bill as they exist are too short to enable him to get, say, from the south-west of Ireland back to Dublin where he might have left his licence; and it has been suggested that the period may be extended from three to seven days without doing any injury. I do not know what the Minister's view as to this is, but some people think that seven days would not be to much under certain circumstances.
General Mulcahy: In giving the driver three days of grace in which to produce his licence we are giving statutory effect to a thing which, in fact, has come to be a practice. Considering the way in which motor-cars are coming to be more and more used for crime of one kind or another and the necessity of being able to identify the driver of a car, I do not think that encouragement of any kind should be given to drivers to drive without having their licences on the car.
General Mulcahy: To a certain extent I disagree with what is here because I feel that drivers ought to be expected to have their licences with them. In this section we are giving a concession of three days and the concession is that a driver who does drive without his licence is given three days to produce it at any Gárda Síochána station that he indicates; and to extend that period is to extend the amount of want of control over licences that we are going to have, and I think that is inadvisable.
Mr. Lemass: I agree with the Minister that a driver should as a matter of practice have his licence with him. But I suggest the form in which the licence is issued should be changed. The licence at present is a flimsy slip of paper in which certain particulars are entered. It is difficult to keep it in the manner which would prevent its being torn or lost. In the Six Counties a much more elaborate licence with a  cardboard cover is issued, and the motorist has less hesitation in carrying that around with him than in carrying the slip of paper that he gets from the licensing authority in this country.
Mr. Good: The principle of the motorist carrying his licence with him is one that should be observed, but here the Minister makes provision in this Bill for cases in which that rule is not observed and he allows three days to the motorist as the section stands at the moment to get his licence and produce it at a Gárda station. I spoke a few moments ago of the motorist who finds himself in the south-west of Ireland having left his licence, say, in Dublin. We know that motorists who come over to this country are very anxious to get rid of all superfluous luggage to the greatest extent they can, and it is their custom to leave their superfluous luggage in Dublin. The provision of such a section as this is to increase the difficulties that arise with these tourists.
Mr. Good: I am one of those who are inclined to encourage tourists and so I would be in favour of relaxing the restrictions and giving them further encouragement. I am sorry the Minister is not with me in that. When he does relax the principle in allowing three days for the production of the licence I think he might go a little bit further and if he cannot see his way to making it seven perhaps he would meet us and say five days. Would the Minister undertake to consider the matter between now and the next stage?
General Mulcahy: I will undertake to consider it but I think it is very inadvisable and particularly so in the case of strangers coming into this country about whom we know very little. I would keep the strictest watch over them, more strict than in the case of other people whom we know and whom we can more easily get after in any case of trouble or difficulty. There is, I understand, a tendency on the part of people outside to get it into their heads that they can come in here with very little respect for our licensing laws and use a motor car here in a way which we do not allow our own people to use it. I think it is most advisable that that sort of thing would be stopped.
Major Myles: This will affect our own people more than it will affect the tourists. It is all very well for people from Dublin found without their licences. They can get their licences right away, but take the case of Deputies from Donegal or from Cork or Kerry a long way down and suppose they are here in Dublin and they are asked to get their licences. Suppose a Deputy in this House is caught driving without his licence. He has to leave the City next morning for he has only three days in which to get his licence. He has to fly away down the country. What is to happen in the Dáil in the meantime?
General Mulcahy: I heard of a car being pulled up by a policeman because the motorist was supposed to be doing something wrong and the policeman was making himself officious about it. A passenger in the car said, “Oh, don't you know this is Deputy So-and-so?" and the policeman replied, “Oh, these are the fellows we are trying to get after.” Deputies are the people who would not want to plead any period of grace for the production of their licences. The safeguarding of their licences and producing of them  at the right time is a very proper matter. I will consider the Deputy's viewpoint.
General Mulcahy: If a person does not present his licence in person there is no means in the world of identifying him or of insuring that the licence is a proper one or that it is used in respect of the person that was actually involved in the driving.
General Mulcahy: Then I do not know what kind of identification there can be. Otherwise we would require a photograph to be on the licence, and unless the licensee is going to be photographed yearly you could not work it if you are to have the photograph as the identification mark. The licence has to be stamped in such a way as to identify the person by the photograph. There will have to be a photograph every year in that case. As an alternative all we are asking for is the signature of the licensee. Otherwise I do not know what security or check there is going to be.
Major Myles: I cannot agree with that. In the North of Ireland the rule is that you get your photograph the first time, and one photograph continues for five or six years until your book is exhausted automatically, If you allow a period of one month after the expiration of the licence you must produce a new photograph. There is nothing to prevent the people living on the Border from borrowing from a Free State neighbour his licence. I have seen it done. I have seen people on our side of the Border  borrowing a Northern licence. That was before the introduction of the photograph. With the borrowed licence they were able to drive into Derry and they were able to do it successfully. If a Free State driver wanted to go North he borrowed a licence from someone in the locality. Sometimes a firm had a licence which they kept specially, and it was used by different people from day to day. That continued until the system of the photographs came in. The signature is not as satisfactory a solution as the photograph. Men living on the Northern side of the Border, and having occasion to come here, borrowed licences from some of their friends on the Free State side and used them.
Mr. Lemass: On Section 35 I want an explanation of the phrase “refuses or fails to permit.” What is the exact difference between the two words “refuses or fails to permit”? How is it that phraseology is used? How can a person “refuse or fail to permit” the members of the Civic Guard to read his licence?
Any member of the Gárda Síochána may request any person driving a mechanically propelled vehicle to sign his name in a book and with a pencil to be provided by such member and at the place in such book indicated by such member, and if such person on being so requested and on being provided with such book and pencil refuses or neglects to sign his name in such book or with such pencil or at the place in such book indicated by such member he shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction  thereof to a fine not exceeding five pounds.
General Mulcahy: The purpose of the section is to enable the Gárda to verify that the person present is the person in respect of whom the licence is held. The licence is produced and the driver is asked to sign his name so that the Gárda can compare the signature with the signature on the licence.
General Mulcahy: I do not think there is any necessity for putting it in. The purpose for which the Gárda requires the signature is to identify the driver. He may have no reason for suspecting him. When he asks the man to write his name that does not mean that he suspects him of not being the person to whom the licence belongs. It is simply a formal matter of verification. I do not want to put the Gárda into the position of implying to the person that he asks to produce the licence that he suspects him right off. This is a snap check.
(1) Whenever the holder of a driving licence is convicted of any offence in connection with the driving of a mechanically propelled vehicle he shall, if so requested by the court trying such charge, produce such licence and if he fails to do so he shall be guilty of an offence under this section.
 (2) Whenever an application is made for a special disqualification order the person in respect of whom such application is made shall, if and when so requested by the court hearing such application, produce such licence, and if he fails to do so shall be guilty of an offence under this section.
General Mulcahy: This amendment and amendment 37 contemplate that when a person holding a driver's licence is summoned for a particular offence under sub-section (1) and sub-section (2) and he is brought before the court on the application of the superintendent asking that he should be disqualified on a particular ground he should be given certain time in which to produce his licence. Surely people who are summoned before the court in these particular circumstances should bring their licences with them. Otherwise the court is asked to deal with the case without the knowledge as to what kind of endorsements are on the person's licence. There is no reason why a person so summoned with suitable notice should be allowed to put the court into an awkward position. He ought to produce a document so that the court can give a satisfactory decision.
Major Myles: Would the Minister take steps to see that the gist of that section is incorporated in the summons? In breaches of the Licensing Laws the publican gets notice that he “shall deliver up to the clerk of the court the licence.” The public are not as well up in these things as we are. When an ordinary publican gets a summons under the Licensing Laws that is incorporated in the charge and he gets notice of it.
Mr. Moore: With regard to Clause (c), sub-section 1, these fees will be very small in one year. Why should not the Minister provide now for their disposition without leaving them subject to a regulation? Surely he ought to be able to make up his mind where they ought to go. It seems a small matter to leave in suspense. I think the Dáil would be capable of dealing with it if he made a proposal.
General Mulcahy: If we make a regulation as to what persons outside Saorstát Eireann may get licences and put in the fees we may reasonably ask them to pay, the regulations are a suitable place in which to say what should be done with these fees. Whatever is done with these fees, they are going ultimately to the Road Fund. The disposition of the fee is an ordinary and an intricate part of the general scheme, and there is no reason why we should take them out particularly and make a statute with regard to them.
Mr. Moore: I thought the disposition of such fees as are mentioned here meant the final disposition. If the Minister says they will go into the Road Fund finally and that “disposition" here means the preliminary disposition, I am satisfied.
General Mulcahy: That is so.
Mr. O'Kelly: May I ask the Minister if he proposes to call for a certificate of competency to drive in the case of non-residents?
General Mulcahy: No.
Mr. O'Kelly: Why should not nonresidents be put in the same position? I refer to drivers of motor cars.
General Mulcahy: They will be in the same position. Ordinary drivers of light motor cars will not be called upon for certificates.
Mr. Lemass: Is it intended that foreign drivers should have a certificate of fitness to drive or should make a declaration?
General Mulcahy: The regulations will provide for that. The endeavour will be to put them on all fours with our own people so far as that is practicable.
Mr. Lemass: Can the Minister make such regulations? It will have to come under sub-section (d). That means that they would have to be “incidental to the grant of such licences.”
General Mulcahy: Yes. They would have to be incidental to the grant of such licences.
Section 38 agreed to.
Mr. Finlay: On Section 39 would it not be advisable if the Minister took power to make regulations for the notification to licensing authorities of any order made for disqualification of a driver?
General Mulcahy: That is provided for elsewhere.
Sections 39, 40 and 41 agreed to.
(2) The following speeds shall be the ordinary speed limits for heavy motor vehicles of which all the wheels are fitted with pneumatic tyres, that is to say:—
(a) in the case of any such vehicle which is a large public service vehicle—
(i) if it is fitted with a floor for seating of passengers the whole or any part of which is vertically above the whole or any part of another such floor, the speed of fifteen miles an hour, or
(ii) if it is not so fitted, the speed of twenty-five miles an hour;
(b) in the case of any such vehicle which is not a large public service vehicle—
(i) when it is used for the traction of a vehicle of which all  or some of the wheels are not fitted with pneumatic tyres, the speed of ten miles an hour,
(ii) when it is used for the traction of a vehicle of which all the wheels are fitted with pneumatic tyres, the speed of fifteen miles an hour,
(iii) when it is used otherwise than for the traction of another vehicle, the speed of twenty miles an hour.
Mr. Davin: I move amendment 38—
In section (2) (a) (ii), lines 15 and 16, to delete all words after the word “fitted” and substitute therefor the following:—
“(a) within an urban area twenty miles an hour,
(b) outside an urban area thirty miles per hour.”
The Bill fixes in sub-section (2) an ordinary speed limit for single decker buses of 25 miles an hour without making any distinction between urban and rural areas. I am sure everybody knows the traffic congestion that exists in cities and urban areas, and will readily admit that in reality the speed must be lower for traffic purposes than 20 miles an hour. I think it would be a good thing for the Gárda authorities, who are held responsible for the regulation of traffic within the urban areas, to have the speed limited more in the urban areas than in the country areas. For that reason, I hope the Minister will give careful and sympathetic consideration to the amendment which, in reality, is a compromise on the speed fixed in the Bill as it stands.
General Mulcahy: I am prepared to accept a general amendment making the speed 30 miles an hour, but I do not say that in general we ought to legislate for different speeds in urban areas and in areas other than urban. It will be the experience of Deputies that as far as 30 miles an hour or 25 miles an hour is concerned, there is no reason why it should be reduced in many urban areas. As a matter of fact, some of the urban areas are much  more suitable for a 30 miles an hour speed than some of the approaches to them. I would not care, without hearing a lot more about it, to discriminate between the ordinary speed in an urban area and outside, when we have very full powers to make special speed limits for urban areas as a whole or particular parts of urban areas.
Mr. Connolly: I think the difficulty is that the urban area has not the power to fix the speed limit. The County Council has the power. If the speed limit was reduced to 15 miles an hour, it would be very desirable.
Mr. Davin: I take the case of Dublin and Cork, because I know them better than other cities. I think the Minister and his officers, especially the Gárda, who are advising him, will have to admit that a speed limit of 25 miles an hour in and around the urban areas must be regarded as dangerous in view of the great amount of motor bus and motor car traffic around these cities and towns. I thought the Minister would be prepared to admit, for instance, that 30 miles an hour might be regarded as a reasonable speed limit on a good stretch of road in the country. I cannot see why he should regard 30 miles an hour as a safe speed limit within any urban area at the present time. I would ask him to reconsider the matter before the next stage, and in the meantime to ask the opinion of the Gárda authorities, who are held responsible for the traffic within the urban areas.
Sir James Craig: This is a difficult proposition. I think it must be admitted that 15 miles an hour in certain urban areas is worse than 25 miles outside them. On the other hand, I do not think that one would be wise in setting a limit of 15 miles an hour. That might be dangerous to the public. As my friend beside me suggests, it would be much more satisfactory to make it a condition that vehicles should not be driven to the danger of the public. If the Minister will see that that is provided for, I will be satisfied, but I do not think that there  should be a general idea abroad that it would be possible for a person to drive these vehicles at 25 miles an hour anywhere. As I already said, 10 or 15 miles an hour in a place of congested traffic would be more dangerous than 25 miles an hour where there is no such congestion. If there is a provision that people will be prevented from driving at a speed dangerous to the public, I will be satisfied.
Mr. Moore: I think Deputy Sir James Craig has overlooked another section of the Bill, where it is provided that keeping within the speed limit will not be a good defence in all charges where a charge of reckless driving is brought. The driver must have regard to all the circumstance prevailing.
Mr. Lemass: Apart from the question of special speed limits in urban areas, is the Minister prepared to consider an increased speed limit for ordinary buses, not provided with double decks, outside urban areas?
General Mulcahy: That is what I am suggesting to Deputy Davin. I am prepared to accept a proposal that the speed of 25 miles an hour in (a) (ii) should be increased, because I think a reasonable case can be made for that. I am surprised and disappointed that there has been so little examination of these speed proposals by persons in the country who are interested in them. Not a single motor bus owner has made any representations with regard to the effects these speeds are going to have on his time tables. I certainly think that the speed of 25 miles an hour is going to have a considerable effect on bus time tables, and that the speeds in the Bill deserve thorough consideration and discussion by Deputies from all parts of the country, associated with the different interests that travel on the roads. If we set down speed limits here we intend them to be speed limits that will dominate and regulate the movement of traffic on our roads, and not speed limits that will mean nothing. If we are to have speed limits at all, those speed limits should be enforced. If they are not  to be enforced they should be removed from the Bill.
Mr. Corry: I maintain that speed limits are absolutely necessary, and I think 25 miles an hour is fast enough. The majority of the roads on which these buses travel were never built for this class of travel at all. When a bus passes there is barely room left for a horse and cart. If they travel at more than 25 miles an hour, you will have more accidents than there are at present, and at present we have enough. After all, we must give some consideration to the people who built these roads. They were built by the farming community. It is only within the last few years that any money has been put into them by the Government or the bus owners. Those roads have been taken from the farmers without compensation. So far as horses are concerned, these roads have been rendered practically impassable. The Minister suggested that we might possibly have no speed limit. If that were done, we might have buses travelling at from 30 to 40 miles an hour. It is enough to have highly paid civil servants travelling at that rate without having buses travelling at it. I think 25 miles an hour is too fast and is dangerous considering the roads that these buses will be travelling. The majority of these roads are narrow and are not fit for bus or heavy motor traffic.
Mr. Hogan: (Clare): On other occasions I was anxious to make a plea for the pedestrian. In this case, I am also anxious to make a plea for the pedestrian. It is obvious to anybody who knows the urban districts that there are hidden laneways and side streets from which traffic will come suddenly and a bus travelling at 25 miles an hour will not have much chance of pulling up so as to avoid this traffic. You will have children darting out of hidden laneways, or cyclists coming out of hidden corners. There is a good case to be made why buses should not go at that rate through urban districts. If the Minister consults those who are acquainted with conditions in the urban districts, he will find that there  is a case for limiting the rushing of buses.
General Mulcahy: What Deputy Davin proposes is to take this 20 miles an hour speed and apply it to a town like Wexford and to apply the same speed to a place like Mullingar or Naas. I do not think it is necessary for the purpose of fixing normal speed limits to take into consideration that there are in urban districts narrow streets, when, under Section 43, you give powers whereby, on the application of any local authority, and after inquiry, a speed limit for the area of that local authority, or any part of the area of that local authority, can be examined, prescribed and enforced.
Mr. Corry: Section 43 says that the Minister “may.” That really means in these cases that the Minister “may not,” where the public interest is concerned.
Mr. Connolly: Is the speed limit for ordinary motor vehicles being fixed at 25 miles an hour on the open road?
General Mulcahy: For heavy motor vehicles.
Mr. Connolly: I think 25 miles an hour is not a reasonable speed for motor traffic at the present day. I suggest that the speed limit be fixed at about 35 miles an hour.
Mr. Good: This is for buses.
Mr. Connolly: Even for buses. For buses, 35 miles an hour would be as little as you could expect.
Mr. Davin: Would the Deputy say that it should be the same in the urban as in the rural areas?
Mr. Connolly: No. I said that the speed limit in urban areas should not exceed more than 15 miles an hour.
Mr. Davin: Did you tell the Minister that?
Mr. Connolly: I said so.
General Mulcahy: Did the Deputy ever come through Longford at a speed of 15 miles an hour?
Mr. Flinn: It is perfectly obvious that there ought to be different speed limits for different roads. There are roads on which you can drive with safety at 70 miles an hour. There are roads on which you could not safely drive at more than ten miles an hour.
Mr. Corry: I can promise Deputy Flinn that if he drives at 70 miles an hour on some of the roads the Dáil will be finished with him.
Mr. Flinn: I have driven at 70 miles an hour and quite a number of Deputies here have driven at 70 miles an hour. Members of the Dáil have driven from Dublin to Cork in an hour less than the mail train could travel. And they did it quite safely.
Mr. Haslett: I think we should try to make regulations that would have some chance of being observed. I have in mind a road on which I travel— between Slane and Dublin. You can see that road for miles and miles ahead, and to ask any bus driver to confine himself to 25 miles an hour on that road would not be approved by his passengers. No Deputy travelling with him on that road would say there was the slightest risk in exceeding that limit. There are corners in urban areas around which the motor driver should go at a much slower speed than 20 miles an hour, or even than 15 miles an hour. I do not think it is wise for members of this House to set down a limit of 25 miles an hour for bus travelling in the twentieth century.
Mr. Mathews: I think that 25 miles an hour will not be observed as a speed limit and that it will only bring the regulations into contempt. I think that 35 miles per hour would be reasonable.
Major Myles: I suggest that there should be no talk about a speed limit for the ordinary car, but simply deal with it under Section 46—dangerous driving. I have seen prosecutions succeed where it was admitted by the prosecutor and the witnesses that the speed was only eight miles per hour.
Yet the man had a stiff fine imposed upon him, as with a narrow street, half the road up, a fair amount of traffic, considering all the circumstances he was driving to the danger of the public. It would be a far better system for  the Guards to work. I contend that if you put on a speed limit you will tempt an occasional Guard to be out for catches and that it is not a good system. It is well known that since the 1903 Act was brought in, or a few years afterwards, there was practically no speed limit recognised except where the police wanted to catch somebody and make a case for themselves. It is well known also that as a general rule the stretches of road on which the police had the measured quarter of a mile were the safest roads where the temptation to speed was brought on by a dead straight road with no obstruction or cross-road. I say that it is quite sufficient to work under Section 46.
Mr. Davin: Would Deputy Myles allow Deputy Flying Officer Flinn to go at 70 miles per hour?
Mr. Flinn: Might I give an illustration which will bring this home? In an actual case in which a man was prosecuted for driving a bus too quickly his defence was that he was not driving at all quickly on that road, that the particular stretches on which he was held up were trap stretches, and that for that reason he had to drive slowly, and that the only way he could make up his speed was by speeding on corners.
Mr. Moore: I think Deputies should not look at this matter in an entirely objective way. If Deputy Myles was ever in a bus he must have seen the panic that prevails as a general rule when high speeds are being done. Anyone who has travelled in a bus on a country road travelling over 30 miles per hour knows that the great bulk of the passengers as a rule are in dread, especially when turning corners. It may be all right on a piece of road such as Deputy Haslett referred to— a long piece of straight road—but we cannot legislate for that piece of road particularly. In legislating for the average road you have to take into account the number of turns and the great danger there is on those turns if the vehicle is going at a speed of more than 30 miles. In my opinion, there is no great need for all this  speed. After all, we are not so terribly busy in this country that we should look to get people to complete their journeys in record time. As a rule, people travelling like that are not in such a great hurry that their lives should be endangered in order to gain half an hour or an hour on a long journey. A speed of 25 miles per hour on a bus will satisfy the great bulk of the passengers and it is for the passengers that the buses are run and it is their feelings that should be considered. Both Deputies Myles and Haslett are private motorists with very little experience of travelling in buses. If they had that experience I think they would be less enthusiastic for unlimited speeds.
Mr. Cassidy: I agree with Deputy Moore that the speeding of buses is conducive to great fear in some of the passengers. During the summer on the Dublin to Howth route there are many competing buses, with the result that speeding takes place. I have travelled on these buses many times and the speed at which they travelled was terrifying to the women and children. There is a much greater number of buses in England, and Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland than in the Saorstat, and in these places they have found it necessary to impose a speed limit for the rural areas and a lower speed limit for the urban areas. I believe that we ought to benefit by the experience that they have gained and that the Minister would be well advised to accept Deputy Davin's suggestion.
Mr. Lemass: In this Bill we are abolishing the speed limit for private motor cars and retaining the speed limit apparently for omnibuses and commercial cars, which are generally driven by people much more competent and experienced than private motorists. If there is a case for abolishing the speed limit for the private car from the point of view of public safety, exactly the same case can be made for the abolition of the limit in respect of omnibuses and commercial vehicles. I am strongly of opinion that the putting down of maximum speeds will be of no value from the point of view of public safety, but that, on the contrary, it will  put a wrong idea into the minds of people responsible for the enforcement of the Act. There are sections here which make it illegal to drive a car dangerously in relation to all the circumstances existing at the time. There is a section which makes it illegal to drive a car carelessly in all the circumstances, and very severe penalties may be imposed on any driver who offends against this section. What we want to avoid is the driving of cars dangerously or carelessly. If public safety is what we have in mind, these are the only things we want to avoid.
Nobody has any objection to speed in itself if it is not dangerous to the general public and not a source of accidents. I think that if we were only concerned with public safety we should obliterate the idea of maximum speed limits and concentrate our attention and the attention of the Civic Guard upon dangerous driving as such with a view to its elimination. In the case of omnibuses, however, there are other considerations than public safety which must be taken into account. A large omnibus driven at a fast pace will very rapidly turn any modern road into potholes, and consequently it is necessary from the point of view of maintaining these roads and reducing the cost of maintenance to restrict the speed of omnibuses and heavy lorries. The suggestion here, however, is that the restriction should be a maximum of 25 miles. In my opinion, that is altogether too low, and that if we insist upon 25 miles as the limit the section will become in time inoperative, as the existing provision of a maximum speed of 25 miles is generally disregarded by motorists. If we want to make laws effective we have in the first place to ensure that they are in line with commonsense. Nobody will suggest that in ordinary circumstances on a modern road a bus travelling at 30 miles per hour is being driven dangerously because of the mere fact that it is travelling at 30 miles. I do not think it is. I certainly think that we could afford to increase the maximum speed limit here to at least 30 miles without increasing the danger to the public and without increasing the damage to the roads.
Professor Thrift: The difficulty in what Deputy Lemass said was really expressed by himself that once you name a speed limit you encourage drivers to travel up to the maximum of that speed. Nevertheless, while I think that Deputy Myles's arguments were unanswerable as regards ordinary motor cars, I also think he overlooked one point that is vital. If you leave it possible for buses and heavy motor lorries to travel over the roads at a high speed you will have them travelling at that high speed in a manner dangerous to the public while you will not be able to prove it. Any motorist accustomed to moderate speed knows the difficulty he finds himself in when those heavy buses and lorries pass him at fast speeds while he is going at a moderate speed. I often travel at 40 miles an hour and buses and lorries passing make me feel as if I were standing still. That is done without any regard whatever to the safety of the people in my car. They often pushed me over to the side of the road in the effort to get by. That certainly is driving to the danger of the public. There is no Guard to take the bus driver or lorry driver's number and the attention of the private car driver is concentrated on his own car, so that he is unable to take the number of the bus or identify it. Driving to the danger of the public is possible, if you do not put on a speed limit. I am afraid you are in a dilemma. Deputy Lemass made the point that if you put on a speed limit you encourage drivers to work up to that speed. On the other hand, if you do not put in a speed limit you will have cases of driving to the danger of the public. The danger to the public is much more serious from these heavy vehicles with tremendous momentum travelling at a high speed. It is much more serious in their case than in the case of the ordinary motorist.
Mr. G. Wolfe: My opinion is that it is absolutely necessary for the safety of the travelling public that there should be a speed limit for buses and heavy lorries. I talk to a great many people who travel in buses and they complain of the outrageous and dangerous  speeds to which drivers work up on occasions. I think it is absolutely necessary, considering the size of some of those buses and the size of the lorries, that a proper speed limit should be fixed for the country and the urban districts and that it is not exceeded.
In the case of the private motor driver, it is an entirely different thing. Though we all know that the speed limit is 25 miles an hour—I think that is the present limit—any person who would drive decently and would only drive at 25 miles an hour on the roads here would be left standing.
Mr. Fahy: They would be arrested.
Mr. Wolfe: A person going at that speed would see the whole of Dublin pass him by before he got to the end of his journey. In the case of private motor cars it is not the speed but the way they are managed that is the whole thing. There should be a proper examination of those who drive motor cars, and although it might be difficult I think it should be done. If a driver is competent to drive a motor car I do not see there is any necessity fixing a limit at all for private motor car drivers. The danger in the case of the motor bus and motor lorry is entirely different from that of the private motor car, and the speed in their cases should be fixed for the safety of the public and for all persons using the roads. The speed should be strictly limited and it should be seen that the limit is kept.
Mr. Corry: I think the statements we have heard here to-night from different Deputies on this matter show how far removed they are from the people they represent. I think instead of saying that it is government of the people, for the people, by the people, one might say it is government by the rich, for the rich. I might mention one particular road in my district; it is a main road and an important road. It is one of those roads where probably Deputy Flinn would experiment at 70 miles an hour. That road is largely used by what we would call in the country successful hucksters in the city who go every Sunday  in the summer down to the seaside. In the five months this summer there have been 11 accidents on that road. In five out of the eleven cases the unfortunate people injured had no satisfaction to get, because the successful hucksters were no mark.
Mr. T. O'Connell: They were not successful hucksters then.
Mr. Corry: Not so successful as you might think. We heard statements made here about speed limits. Private owners should have no speed limits put upon them according to Deputy Wolfe. I have seen private owners coming back from the seaside racing three abreast and going at a rate of 40 miles an hour. I have seen these gentlemen loaded up with “John Jameson” and “Paddy Flaherty” so that they were absolutely incapable of driving or of seeing the road they were driving on, and each one trying out the speed of his car. I suggest that the statement made by Deputy Flinn of driving 70 miles an hour should be sent down to the licensing authority immediately in order to prevent him having a car. I do not think he should be judged capable of having a car after that. I am speaking seriously in this matter. This House is absolutely ignoring the right of the ordinary farmers who pay for building these roads. We have heard that on a straight stretch private owners can whip along at 70 miles an hour. These straight stretches of road have boreens leading off them out of which the farmers have to drive their cattle across the roads. It is no harm of course if a cow belonging to a farmer gets bowled over. I saw last year an unfortunate farmer who was going home from Cork with his horse and cart and met one of those buses at Dunkettle, and the horse, not being used to seeing these extraordinary vehicles, the unfortunate man was thrown and had his leg broken and had to spend six months in the Cork Infirmary. That of course was no harm at all. On portion of that road the only width that was left from the bus was the width of the horse and cart even when it pulled into the dyke. And these are the roads upon which  you are to have no speed limit. I consider that Deputies come here to legislate, not for the ordinary farmers whom they pretend to represent and not for the unfortunate parents or children who use these roads, but they come here to legislate for road hogs flying along at whose mercy the people are placed.
These people should have some consideration for parents and for those who paid for the road they are driving over. I consider that a speed limit of 25 miles an hour is fast enough for anyone. Anyone who considers that limit not fast enough should join Deputy Esmonde's flying corps and go aloft.
Mr. Davin: Deputy Flinn's corps.
Mr. Corry: I consider that a speed limit of 25 miles an hour should be insisted on, not only for heavy vehicles but for private cars. To my mind private car owners are much more dangerous than the others, because in nine cases out of ten the private individuals are absolutely incapable of driving. You will find old lads fifty or sixty years of age, three-quarters blind, stuck in motor cars when they could not actually see 20 yards in front of them. These are the people who drive at 60 or 70 miles an hour. I think there should be a speed limit put on all those gentlemen. I suggest seriously that Deputy Flinn's statement about driving at 70 miles an hour should be immediately sent to the licensing authorities. After his statement to-night I will not consider him a fit and proper person to drive a car. Deputies should take this matter seriously and should insist on a speed limit being put on, as otherwise there will be far more accidents. I know four miles of a road on which there have been 11 accidents this summer, caused by successful hucksters coming home after the week-end roystering. That can be borne out and it should engage the attention of the Minister with a view to having a speed limit imposed.
Mr. Finlay: The section we are discussing is outside the scope of the ordinary private motor car and deals  with the heavier type of vehicle, the principal one referred to being the bus. I think a very good case has been made out and in fact exists to prescribe a speed limit for buses. Deputy Lemass said it would be idle or futile to have a speed limit if it could not be enforced. I quite agree. I would not be in favour of imposing a speed limit for heavier vehicles if that speed limit could not be enforced.
It appears to me that the principal case that can be made out for imposing a speed limit on buses is this, that on the main roads it is never a matter of a bus going 30 miles an hour, but it is usually a matter of going 50 to 55 miles an hour. Owing to the weight of the vehicle, I do not care how up-to-date the brakes may be, they will not act as quickly as in the case of an ordinary touring car. Further, the steering is a great deal more difficult for any man to control than the steering of an ordinary car. In any emergency the vehicle will not react as quickly as the ordinary car would. It would appear to me that the heavier vehicles going 50 to 55 miles an hour, as they often do, get what the ordinary cars do not get, and that is a swing out on the road, which, at times, it is very difficult for an on-coming or a following vehicle to negotiate. After all, it is the travelling public who have to be protected. I think there should be a speed limit, I do not care whether it is 25 or 50 miles an hour, in respect of buses.
With regard to the point raised by Deputy Lemass, that it could not be enforced, under Section 48 of the Bill I see a very successful way of doing so as far as buses are concerned. The chief cause of the speeding is the competition. On the roads you will meet two or three buses, each fighting to see who will pick up a man at the next crossroads. Whoever is successful loses a bit of ground and has to make it up before getting to the next town. The people mainly responsible are the owners of the buses, who draw up time-tables that compel their employees to drive at a fast rate. In Section 48 (3) there is a provision, which says:
 Where the owner of an omnibus instructs the driver thereof to observe a time-table and such time-table is so framed that such driver could not observe it without driving such omnibus at a speed which would be a contravention of this Part of this Act, such owner shall, for the purposes of this section, be deemed to have ordered such driver to drive such omnibus at a speed which is a contravention of this Part of this Act.
I think a case can be made out for a speed limit in respect of these vehicles, and the case being made out, there are sufficient provisions in the Bill to secure the enforcement of the prohibition, if it be contained in the Bill.
Mr. Shaw: I think the Minister stated that the bus companies have not discussed the matter of a speed limit with him. If that is the case it is very strange. Where a limit of 25 or 30 miles is fixed it will cut down their time-table 50 per cent. Everyone knows that the buses at the present time are travelling at from 50 to 60 miles an hour. The point Deputy Finlay made with regard to competition is one of the principal causes. They will race one another with about 15 yards between them and it is only through the mercy of Providence that there are not some fearful crashes. I travel on the main road from Dublin to Mullingar very often by motor car, and I can say that where a car is going at 40 or 50 miles an hour the buses will beat it every time. I am inclined to agree with Deputy Lemass that it will be practically impossible to carry out the law by fixing a time limit, because what is dangerous driving one day at 10 miles an hour might be quite safe the next day at 30 or 40 miles an hour when passing through towns like Maynooth, Enfield and Lucan. I think it would be extremely difficult to carry out the law if an absolute limit was fixed. The matter could be left open with a view to having some conference with the bus owners who are the principal persons interested. I repeat that if you are going to fix 25 or 30 miles an hour you are going to interfere with the time-tables by at least 50 per cent. There is no doubt that the buses are  very popular and that they offer great facilities to the ordinary travelling public.
I am inclined to think that if you fix a speed limit of twenty-five or thirty miles an hour you will not be able to enforce it unless you have a Civic Guard every twenty or thirty yards of the road. No matter what limit is fixed I hope that the Civic Guards will have the assistance of private prosecutors, and that persons who see others driving dangerously will, as it were, take the law into their own hands. The reason I say that is that I was coming up here yesterday from Mullingar, and it was only through a miracle that a lunatic driver whom I met was not involved in a crash that would have caused a very serious loss of life. I do not know whether it would be possible to decide the matter to-night or to leave it over to Report Stage in order that you might confer with the bus companies to see if you could agree with them on a speed limit of twenty or thirty miles or on some such arrangement as I suggest by which you might not fix a speed limit, but as a result of which persons who will be found driving dangerously would be penalised very severely.
Dr. Hennessy: I would emphasise the necessity for regulating the speed of buses. I must say that I do not at all agree with Deputies who think that buses should be allowed to travel at an unprescribed rate. I suppose you all have had experience of travelling in a light vehicle or even on foot when a bus passes you. It shakes the whole road round you. It not only damages the road, but if you are on a lighter vehicle—an ordinary horse-drawn car or a private motor car—the mere fact of the shaking that the road undergoes from the buses travelling at such a rate is dangerous in itself. It has been said that much of this is due to competition. Probably that can be got over, but there is one thing that competition gives us. It gives us better buses, though there is a great deal of complaint about their condition at times. It gives us a more frequent service and shorter intervals between buses carrying us to our destination.
 I do not think it is exactly impossible to regulate the speed of buses or the speed of motor lorries. A stiff fine or a term of imprisonment will regulate the mentality of those offenders. When I say a stiff fine I hope it will be pretty heavy. In the case of any driver who travels at very excessive speed I would consider the advisability of putting him behind tangled wires. I have much sympathy with Deputy Corry in all he has said in the way of trying to get a slow pace. He seems not only deserted by his own Party, but deserted by everybody. I think he has made out a very fair case in many ways and though he is given to putting things extravagantly at times, he made a few hits against all sides of the House in his speech to-night. Of course if Deputy Flinn seriously advocates travelling at 70 miles per hour the sooner he is put somewhere in which he cannot travel a mile per hour the better for the public.
The suggestion has been made that if there was a conference between the bus companies and the Government some good might come out of it. I do not believe a great deal of good can come out of it but it might be worth trying. The dangerous spots on all the roads should be carefully marked, even to the point of illumination. The great trouble is where a by-road breaks into the main road and there is nothing to indicate it. A collision is inevitable unless there is something to point out to the person travelling the main road that there is this junction. The illumination should be such as to bring it to the notice of the people travelling in motor vehicles. That could be done at a small cost and it would avoid much trouble. On the whole I think the Bill has many advantages for our people. If we are so lawless that we set ourselves out to break the most commendable laws, we can do it, but at the same time we can also make it a very expensive proposition.
General Mulcahy: I do not know whether I might intervene at this stage in the discussion to state what are my views on this general matter. In  the first place there is no doubt that on bulky vehicles of the heavy motor vehicle type, you must impose a speed limit because there is a speed at which the bulky vehicle is dangerous. I purposely kept the speed limits that are in the Bill down in deference to the general feeling that there was too much speeding on the roads.
If I were to take a decision right away in the matter I would raise some of these speeds but I think there is an alternative just as Deputy Moore said when we were discussing Section 12, where we actually set out the conditions under which we would classify mechanically propelled and other vehicles, and where we provided in another section that the Minister may by Order, make changes, and that as amended, the Order will not come into operation until both Houses pass a resolution approving of it. Deputy Moore then agreed that we were in a period of growth in these matters and that it is reasonable that Orders would be issued from time to time amending the different classifications here as, on the facts of the situation, it was thought desirable. I think that after the discussion we have heard we will perhaps come to the conclusion that in the matter of speed our minds, and in fact the situation on the roads, are in a state of flux and that it would be well, under Section 42, to make a provision similar to that which we made under Section 12 and to give the Minister by Order power to vary or alter the speed limits contained in the section, subject to the Order not coming into effect until both Houses had passed a resolution approving of it. That would give us machinery for normal and natural growth arising out of the actual use of the road, without amending the legislation. With that in my mind, and looking down the different speed limits, I would like to alter each one of them. In one sub-section you have a speed limit of twenty-five miles where a light motor vehicle is tracting another vehicle. I think that speed limit of twenty-five miles is reasonable as a maximum.
A Deputy: It is too much.
General Mulcahy: I do not think it is unreasonable, when you take into consideration that you have penalties for dangerous driving or careless driving or even driving without due consideration for others on the road. Then under Section 2 you have the heavy motor vehicle and another sub-section which allows a speed of fifteen miles per hour for the double decker public service vehicle. The double decker is usually a vehicle used in an urban area and I think fifteen miles per hour is a reasonable speed limit to prescribe at this particular stage. The speed here for an ordinary heavy motor vehicle is 25 miles an hour. I would propose to make that 35 miles an hour as a maximum speed for a bus on a good type of road. I do not think that is a dangerous speed.
Mr. Flinn: Is that an average speed?
General Mulcahy: The average speed would be two-thirds of that. If you make 30 miles an hour the maximum speed for a bus along any kind of long distance, with stoppages for the passing of other traffic or waiting for other traffic, the speed over the whole journey would be 20 miles an hour.
Mr. Flinn: We are not quarrelling about that. You say two-thirds. My personal experience is that a maximum speed of thirty would give an average speed of about 23.
General Mulcahy: It would vary somewhat on different journeys, according to the time spent at stopping places. I am taking a rough average. If you put down 30 miles an hour you will reduce the companies to a time-table that will show an average speed of twenty. Many Deputies in the House have experience of buses. I think their conclusion must be that normally a rate of 35 miles an hour for a bus is not an excessive maximum speed under the most suitable conditions. That is what is implied if we insert here a 35 mile maximum. My instinct would be to put in 35 miles an hour there instead of 25 and not to discriminate between urban and rural areas. The provision here in Section 43 is a provision that urban  authorities ought to work. In sub-section (b) we have the case of a vehicle which is not a large public service vehicle—“when it is used for the traction of a vehicle of which all or some of the wheels are not fitted with pneumatic tyres the speed of ten miles an hour ... (ii) when it is used for the traction of a vehicle of which all the wheels are fitted with pneumatic tyres, the speed of fifteen miles an hour.” In the case of a vehicle which is not a large public service vehicle which is used normally the speed limit here is twenty miles. I would make that thirty. I would leave then the speeds in sub-section (3) and (4) as they are. I will introduce a provision that will enable the Minister to vary these basic speeds by Order, not coming into force until both Houses have passed a resolution approving of them.
[An Ceann Comhairle resumed the Chair.]
Mr. Cassidy: I notice that the Minister stated that he did not propose to put a different speed for an urban area as compared with a rural area and he said in his opinion 23 or 30 miles would not be excessive. I am glad to know that there are certain Deputies in this House, more especially Dublin City Deputies, who believe that there should be a different speed as far as urban areas are concerned. Surely the Minister would not maintain for a moment that a bus going down Eden Quay to Vernon Avenue or Philipsburgh Avenue could go at twenty or twenty-five miles an hour around three sharp turns in Beresford Place. Does he maintain that the Corporation should have by-laws to deal with it?
General Mulcahy: There are other considerations. There is also in Dublin area a road called Drumcondra Road; there is Merrion Road; there is Cabra Road and the North Circular Road; there is a Dublin Corporation and there is power given in Section 43 to review the matter with the Guards or anyone they wish to consult, and to prescribe a general speed limit for the city of Dublin, varying for different classes of vehicles if necessary or special speed limits for special  areas. I do not see any particular reason why we should make the speed of a bus on a road say from Raheny to Sutton Cross lower than any part of the road passing to Malahide. It is in an urban district. Part is in the city and part in the Urban District of Howth. I think with a general basic speed for a heavy motor vehicle we might leave the details of speed limits to the local authorities. We provide them with full machinery.
Mr. Corish: Is not the Minister aware that inquiries of this kind cost a certain amount of money and that small urban areas are reluctant to ask for an inquiry? Surely it is not unreasonable to suggest to the Minister that there ought to be different speed limits for certain urban areas. If afterwards a particular urban area in which a bus is plying thinks it is not low enough let them make special representations with a view to having an inquiry held.
Mr. Corry: The Minister is fixing thirty-five miles an hour here instead of twenty-five in one instance. If he takes stops into consideration and everything else, I think that is an excessive speed, especially for buses travelling along ordinary country roads at the present day. I think he is depending too much on Section 43. We all know how reluctant any local body is to have a public inquiry into speed or anything else. Generally, such inquiries have an unsatisfactory ending. I say that the Minister should not make regulations to shift the obligations to the local authorities. If a local authority does not like a public inquiry the Minister cannot hold one no matter what representations are made to him. I think that the speed limit of twenty-five miles an hour that is in the Bill is too fast if anything on roads that were not constructed for bus traffic. It is all very well to have Dublin Deputies talking about roads within a radius of ten or twenty miles of Dublin which were constructed for bus traffic, but we have buses collecting passengers at present on roads that were never constructed for bus traffic, and they are not in a fit condition for large vehicles going at any speed. I suggest to the Minister  that he should allow the twenty-five miles an hour to stand.
Mr. Carey: I think the Minister is doing the right thing in allowing the local authorities to regulate the speed in the urban districts. The local authority will have a better idea as to the speed that should be allowed for instance on fair days or market days. To my mind, on fair days and market days in an urban district fifteen miles or even ten miles would be the right speed. I think the Minister is taking the right step in allowing the local authorities to regulate the traffic in their district.
Mr. Flinn: Might I remark in passing that this is a luxurious debate in the sense that perhaps almost for the first time every member of the House has had an opportunity of telling the truth, as it seemed to him, about any other member without regard to the Party to which he might belong; I would like to ask the Minister a preliminary question. He has here in the case of locomotives with non-pneumatic tyres a limit of 10 miles an hour. Is that on the ground of safety? Is that the intention?
General Mulcahy: Both safety and practicality.
Mr. Flinn: Is it to ensure safe driving? Is that the point?
General Mulcahy: Yes.
Mr. Flinn: I know of no reason why, upon an ordinary good, straight road, a car with solid tyres should not be driven at a reasonable speed. I know of no mechanical reason.
General Mulcahy: When used for the traction of another vehicle.
Mr. Flinn: But why should it ensure safety? It would not make it any more safe to have it with pneumatic tyres. It is a practical question. If I were dragging a vehicle on a good road, I think I should prefer the solid tyre. There are three separate and distinct cases here and we want to get the matter clear in relation to the speed of driving heavy vehicles such as buses.  There is the case of the danger to the public; there is the case of the damage to the road and there is the case of the damage to the railway. Those three cases have, to a certain extent, influenced decisions. On a straight, good road I am quite satisfied that mere speed is a very small element in the matter of danger. The capacity of the driver, the condition of the road, and all that sort of thing are of infinitely more importance. Therefore, from the point of view of the safety of the public, I welcome the added importance, which was given to the Bill with regard to the idea of not driving to the danger of the public, whatever speed one may be driving at and whatever the conditions. It is because I think there is no particular safeguard in speed as such and because I think there is an enormous safeguard in a man knowing that whatever speed he is driving at in any place at any time the onus is upon him to prove eventually, in the case of accident, that he was driving within limits which were not dangerous to the public, that I consider this the most valuable reform in the Bill.
As far as damage to the road is concerned, I am absolutely and entirely with those who say that if a motor vehicle of weight, and especially a motor vehicle unsprung to the extent of having solid tyres, is driven fast, the whole liability should rest upon the owner. I think that that is a taxation problem. If the road is fit to stand it, there is no reason why, on the ground of public safety, the vehicle should not be driven fast. If, as a matter of fact, we have to build roads so much better and so much more expensively in order to enable heavy, fast-driven vehicles to travel in safety on them, then we should put the whole cost of the capital charges and the maintenance charges upon the users. Anyone who does use motor lorries or, as an alternative to them in competition, some other means of transport, if he is not paying the replacement value and if he is not paying the capital value of the facility which he uses for the purpose of dealing with his customers, then his customers are receiving, at the cost of those who use  an alternative means of transport, a benefit to which they are not entitled. That is, to me, the second case, but it is not dealt with here. In my opinion that is a case of taxation. I have described unshod vehicles in certain uncomplimentary language. I think the State is entitled, and bound, to recover from such a user of the road any damage he does and any capital cost required to enable him to have a highway on which he can move without damage.
The third case is damage to the railway. There is no question that that is very largely influencing certain decisions in the House, and legitimately, from their point of view. The buses are now carrying 40,000,000 or 50,000,000 passengers a year. The loss upon the railways has been a passenger loss and the unemployment on the railways which is going to be caused by the diminution of their revenue is due to a passenger loss. That is very largely due to bus competition. If in the Transport Bill of the Minister for Industry and Commerce it says that the speed of buses shall be reduced to a level at which it will not be an effective competitor but for passenger transit purposes with the railways, then there is an entirely different case to deal with. If the Minister will put it forward now as an argument in favour of doing it, he is entitled to say that this Bill is a Bill not merely for the safety of the public, but for other general public purposes. If he puts forward the argument, or if any other person chooses to put forward the argument, that the present speed at which buses are allowed to travel on roads parallel to the railways—very largely railway buses travelling on roads parallel to the railways—it is a matter for consideration, but it does not arise on the Bill as it is at present framed.
The next thing I wish to emphasise strongly is that there are certain routes, having regard to the construction of the roads, the elementary construction of some of our by-roads and so on, on which buses or heavy vehicles ought not to be allowed to run at all. I do not want to be unfair to them in any way. There are  some people who regard lorries and buses as terribly dangerous things. I do not. I regard them as public conveniences. They are only prospering because they have shown an economic case for themselves. But there is no economic case for them to be able to hand on to their particular customers, benefits at the cost of the general community which they ought to pay themselves. If buses, heavy motor vehicles, are to be allowed to run on rural roads with unsound foundations, with such foundations as the country can afford to give for their ordinary traffic, then there should be a charge for any licence or other such cost as would enable these roads to be properly repaired and maintained. There has been a sort of general attack upon buses. I say they are a public convenience. I am not prepared for anybody to say that they are not doing very valuable work. I am not prepared, on any ground of popularity or anything else in relation to employment in any particular industry, to say that the conveniences of the general public which they have served, the opening up of districts and residential areas, the brightening and the widening of the lives of a lot of people, are to be restricted unnecessarily. For that reason I am to some extent defending them.
I would like to know from the Minister as regards all the damages about which we have heard, who is causing them. Are they being caused by the buses? Are they being caused by these juggernauts and those dangerous things we have heard about? My experience is frankly that the road manners of buses have improved very considerably in the last year. I think that is one credit that I will give to the administration of justice in the country. They do seem to have improved the road manners of the buses.
I have been amazed recently at being coolly waved on by a bus instead of seeing a cloud of dust disappear in the distance. Coming again to the speed limit of the buses I remember I had one accident with a bus. I am only giving this as an illustration of my contention that the lowest speed limit put into the Bill  would not have saved me from an accident on that occasion. There is a particularly bad turn coming up from Carrigaloe to Cork on the way from Cobh. You turn up by the end of a railway bridge, and at that right angle turn we met the bus. It was only the fact that I had actually contemplated and worked out in advance what I would do if I were to meet a bus at that particular point on its wrong side that has made me free and enabled me to inflict myself on the House to-night. I had actually worked it out beforehand and when the emergency came I had not to waste a quarter of a second to enable me to get into the ditch and save my life. No speed limit that the Minister would introduce would have saved me. It is only by the insistence on the danger, by impressing on every driver that every time a motor vehicle is driven by him he is driving something that is a danger to the public that he can realise this and guard against accidents.
On another occasion also, no speed limit would have saved me. I was running out of my own gate on to the public road. I was going a little bit too fast and I hit a Superintendent of the Gárda. I was not going at any speed which would hurt him but I was going too fast. It is only by concentration and keeping consciously before the mind of the driver of every motor vehicle that every moment while he is driving that car, he is in possession of something with a momentum which is dangerous to the general public if that machine gets out of control and that he has an individual responsibility for the working of that instrument of destruction and that he must not let it get out of control without danger to his own life and to the public—it is only in this way that you can prevent accidents.
Mr. Corish: Deputy Derrig's statement that the local authorities are looking to this Bill to regulate speed in their own areas is entirely wrong.
Mr. Flinn: Section 43 deals with that.
Mr. Corish: Section 43 does not give the local body any authority. It gives the local body authority to ask for a public inquiry. I do not believe that the local authority will take advantage of that section at all. That will be specially so in the case of small local authorities because these inquiries cost £40 to £50. I cannot conceive a small local authority spending that amount of money in order to regulate the speed of buses in their area.
General Mulcahy: How much does the Deputy say?
Mr. Corish: We had one recently in Wexford that cost £40.
General Mulcahy: There must have been a shorthand writer.
Mr. Corish: I do not know, but I do know that it must cost £40 or £50. I was wondering if the Minister would be prepared to leave the question of the speed limit to be settled between the Gárda and the local authorities without having a local inquiry. The urban authorities would be mostly affected. What we want is a lower rate of speed. I have in mind several towns in Wexford where the streets are narrow and where 25 miles an hour would be a very high rate of speed and would be entirely too fast. I do think that it would not be asking too much to ask the Minister to leave that matter to be settled between the Gárda and the local authority.
Mr. Flinn: The speed limit to be settled by agreement between the local authorities and the Gárda?
Mr. Corish: Yes. As far as I know the relations between the Gárda and the local authorities are friendly and I do believe that the Minister would be well advised to leave the matter in that fluid state.
General Mulcahy: To that particular point I will give consideration, but I think that before the Minister makes an Order concerning the speed limit so arrived at there ought to be a public advertisement of the fact that it was proposed to make that Order so that interested parties would be given an opportunity of making representations.  There should be public knowledge of the fact. In that way interested parties would be able to make representations and these representations would be taken into consideration.
Mr. Corish: I have no objection to that. What I do object to is whole State control and having a whole lot of money wasted.
General Mulcahy: I think a very considerable amount of inquiries are held in which there is very little public expense.
Mr. Corish: That is all right in Dublin where an inquiry can be held on the spot, but down in the country where inspectors have to travel in order to hold the inquiry we have to face very heavy expenses.
General Mulcahy: The inspectors are in the local areas doing their natural work and they can attend the local conferences. Therefore I will say that we could simplify the procedure, and costly public inquiries will not be involved.
Mr. Bourke: I think 25 miles per hour is a proper speed for motor lorries and buses, and that it should be the maximum speed. Many accidents occur and many lives are lost as the result of buses and lorries travelling at an excessive speed; and I think it is absolutely necessary that the Minister should control the speed of the buses and make the maximum 25 miles an hour.
Mr. Moore: I just want to ask the Minister whether we are to understand that he is making no change with regard to sub-section (3) that the speed limits in that sub-section are to stand?
General Mulcahy: Yes.
Mr. Moore: I would ask the Minister to consider this: When he was framing this Bill he apparently decided that a difference of five miles an hour was sufficient to allow for the greater damage done by the solid-tyred vehicles as compared with the pneumatic-tyred vehicles; and he allowed the pneumatic-tyred vehicles a  speed of 20 miles an hour compared with 15 miles an hour for solid-tyred vehicles. Now he has raised the limit for the pneumatic-tyred vehicles to thirty miles an hour and he has allowed the speed limit for the solid-tyred class to stand as it had been. A great deal of harm may result from that. It may mean the scrapping of a lot of capital invested in solid-tyred vehicles because they are in competition with the pneumatic-tyred machines, and the result of such a great difference in the speed allowed would mean that the solid-tyred vehicles would be driven off the roads altogether.
Mr. Cassidy: They cause more damage to the roads.
Mr. Moore: I do not know any more about that than yourself. There are skilled engineers in Dublin who assert that the pneumatic-tyred vehicle does the greater damage. So I think that you and I ought to leave that subject alone.
Mr. Cassidy: Various county council experts realise that it is the solid-tyred vehicle which does the greatest damage to their roads.
Mr. Moore: With regard to a vehicle which is used otherwise than for the traction of another vehicle, a speed of 20 miles an hour was fixed. Has the Minister considered whether 30 miles —the figure that he has now substituted—is a speed which is often attained under the present circumstances? I hardly think that the average four-ton lorry carrying coal goes so fast as 30 miles an hour, and I would ask Deputies to consider is it wise to allow such a speed? When our motorists in this House urge that such speeds should be allowed, they are in effect paying the way for increased motor taxation. A four-ton motor lorry carrying coal will do a great deal more damage than if it were going at 20 miles, and it is the private motorist who will pay for it, as there can only be very little additional taxation obtained from commercial vehicles. That is an aspect of the case that has not got any consideration from the Deputies who are all for high  speeds. They forget that high speeds may mean much bigger costs for roads.
Professor Thrift: I think the Minister gave a most eminently reasonable summing up. I would like that those inclined to raise the speed limit for these heavy vehicles, particularly those suggesting 35 miles an hour for heavy public vehicles, to consider this, that the maximum speed will generally become the average speed even around the corner for these heavy vehicles, and that the driver will tend to keep up a uniform speed even around the corners. Some of them think that in going round the corners they run very little risk. What the Minister puts down as a maximum tends to become the average. That is the case certainly in the ordinary light motor.
General Mulcahy: As far as large public service vehicles are concerned the speed limit that will be put down here will govern their time-table. When the Minister for Industry and Commerce is finished with his Transport Bill all public service companies must run their vehicles to scheduled time. They will be required to do that. My reading of it is that if this maximum speed of 35 miles an hour is put down there, it will mean that the journey from Dublin to Cork on the time-table will work out at an average of 25 miles an hour. For that reason I feel very little scruple, particularly after the discussion that has taken place here, in making the proposition that 25 miles an hour will be changed to 35 miles an hour. I appreciate the point that Deputy Moore makes in the matter of 30 miles an hour. Every large motor vehicle is not a public service vehicle. But where you have the pneumatic tyre and where you have the vehicle itself in a satisfactory mechanical condition, I doubt if the heavy commercial vehicle does really more damage to the road than a bus. On that point I think it was the County Surveyor of Dublin who had to report that he had come to the conclusion after considerable observation of the matter that buses did not do as much damage to the  roads as he thought at one particular time they did. I think Deputy Cassidy is right in this. It is vehicles with the non-pneumatic tyres that really tend to do damage to the roads. In reply to Deputy Flinn as regards the tractor speed of ten miles an hour, the question of damage to the road is a big factor in fixing that speed.
I want to give the House a chance of giving full consideration to the matter of working from a sound basis. I would like to leave this matter now in this condition that in this Section 42 (2) (a) (ii) I propose to put down an amendment raising 25 miles to 35 miles an hour, and under (b) (ii) raising 15 miles an hour to 20 miles an hour, and in (b) (iii) raising 20 miles an hour to 30 miles an hour. As I explained before that provision is there so that the Minister might by order from time to time vary these subject to the fact that the order will not come into operation until a resolution will be passed by both Houses bringing it into operation.
Deputies on all sides have given rather full and widespread discussion to the matter. They can put down concrete amendments of their own and let us have a discussion directed to each particular type of vehicle here on the next stage with reference to the definite amendments that may be put down in the Bill. In the meantime I will further consider Section 43 to see whether we cannot allay the fears of those who think that it might involve the local authorities in too much expense in the holding of inquiries that might be considered very necessary so as to fix suitable limits for some towns that want suitable speed limits fixed. Deputies can in the meantime consider whether as a basis of this order they wish to differentiate between the speeds of large public vehicles in towns. I am myself against that, particularly in view of the fact that we can stand over the situation in practice, and later on we can change that situation by order as a general matter apart altogether from whether particular local authorities will deal with it. If they do agree to leave that matter as it is now we can report on that basis at the next stage.
 Amendment 38, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment 39 not moved.
Section 42 agreed to.
(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, the Minister may, after holding a public inquiry, by order make regulations prescribing in respect of any specified area the speed which shall be the special speed limit within that area for all or any classes or class of mechanically propelled vehicles and may so prescribe different speeds in respect of different classes of mechanically propelled vehicles.
General Mulcahy: I agree in principle with amendment 40 to Section 43. We will have to reconsider a draft of that amendment in a suitable way.
Mr. Cassidy: I understand the Minister will give consideration to it.
Amendment 40 not moved.
General Mulcahy: It is a thing that is necessary, but I would like to have it drafted in a more suitable way.
Mr. Lemass: In connection with road signs I do not know what responsibility the Minister has in connection with that. I think that some supervision should be exercised over the signs erected on roads. I do not know if the existing arrangements are suitable. You have the same signs indicating the existence of a boreen as you have indicating the existence of another trunk road. There should be some improvement there.
General Mulcahy: On this section we are on the question of speed limits. I know places where there are signs indicating speed limits that neither in their location nor detail are suitable and we will have to consider whether they are sufficient and in regard to speed limits, secure that they shall be adequate and shall be uniform so that they can be easily recognisable.
Sections 44 and 45 agreed to.
(1) Every person who drives a mechanically propelled vehicle in a  public place at a speed or in a manner which, having regard to all the circumstances of the case (in cluding the nature, condition, and use of such place and the amount of traffic which then actually is or might reasonably be expected then to be in such place), is dangerous to the public shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall, on summary conviction thereof, be liable, in the case of a first offence, to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or to both such fine and such imprisonment or, in the case of a second or any subsequent offence, 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.
(3) Proof that a person charged with an offence under this section was, at the time at which such offence is alleged to have been committed, driving a mechanically propelled vehicle at a speed exceeding thirty miles an hour shall be prima facie evidence of the commission of such offence.
Professor Thrift: I move amendment 41. “In sub-section (1), line 46, to delete the words “at a speed or”. My point is that the words “at a speed or” are unnecessary and complicate the position rather than clarify it. If you say “Every person who drives a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place in a manner which having regard to all the circumstances of the case... is dangerous to the public,” you have said all that is necessary. The words in parenthesis do not add anything useful to the section and I have a further amendment to delete them. When in a general proposition you specify certain things, you tend to modify the general proposition. I think you will have said all that is required if you omit the words in parenthesis in this sub-section.
General Mulcahy: I do not see any reason for taking out the words “at  a speed or” from this sub-section. I do not think it improves the situation to call on the words “in a manner” to cover everything.
Professor Thrift: Surely “in a manner” includes the speed?
General Mulcahy: Putting in there “at a speed or” makes clear that “in a manner” is meant to include “at a speed,” which it might not be taken to mean.
Professor Thrift: If you have “regard to all the circumstances,” surely you must pay attention to the speed. Does it add anything to the sub-section?
Mr. Lemass: I think it is better that the words should remain as in the section. I do not think that any advantage is gained by deleting them and something is gained by retaining them. Attention is directed to the speed in all the circumstances, which is the main question.
Mr. Finlay: The words of which Deputy Thrift complains of have been applicable to motor cars since 1903. They are contained in the Motor Car Act of 1903. The Court, in interpreting the section of the Motor Car Act of 1903 in which these words are contained, have given a very different construction to the word “speed” and “manner.”“Manner” may mean driving on the left side of the road or it may mean a number of other things. From the point of view of clarity, it is much better to retain these words, which are contained in the Motor Car Act of 1903.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Professor Thrift: I move amendment 42:
“In sub-section (1) to delete all from and including the word “including” line 47, to and including the word “place” line 50.”
I dealt with this amendment on the previous amendment in dealing with the words in parenthesis.
General Mulcahy: I think it would weaken the section to take these words  out. I should like to have Deputy Finlay's opinion upon the amendment.
Mr. Finlay: I would ask you not to accept this amendment. If you accepted the amendment, some occurrence would have to take place before an offence would be committed under this section, whereas, as the section stands, if you take a case mentioned this evening—a side street abutting on a main thoroughfare—if there is a notification on such side street that a person should go at a reasonable speed and drive in a reasonable manner, the position is covered, whereas if you cut out these words, the effect will be that there will have to be some sort of collision at the place before it can be established that he was driving in a manner dangerous to the public.
Mr. Lemass: I cannot accept Deputy Finlay's interpretation. The words “having regard to all the circumstances” cover what Deputy Finlay has said, whereas the words in the brackets are confusing. One might “reasonably expect” another car to emerge from every turn on the road on which one would be travelling. Does that mean that a person is expected to get out and look around the corner before passing any cross roads? The words in the section are “the amount of traffic which then is or might reasonably be expected then to be in such place”. It seems to me that that phrase is so wide that it is capable of various interpretations and that its inclusion weakens the Bill rather than strengthens it.
General Mulcahy: I appreciate Deputy Lemass's point but I would like to consult the draftsman on the matter. If we took the parenthesis down to “place” and said “the amount of traffic which then actually is in such place” it might be reasonable. However, I will review the matter on the Report Stage if the Deputy will allow his amendment to stand.
Professor Thrift: I was about to add that the words “might reasonably be expected to be” would surely lead to conflict. I want to ask the Minister  and Deputy Finlay this question. When we say “including the nature, condition and use of such place and the amount of traffic which then actually is or might reasonably be expected then to be in such place”, will not that tend to restrict the meaning of the section to those factors? “Having regard to all the circumstances” would meet the position.
Mr. Finlay: Might I remind the Minister that the law declared in that section is not new? That is the law under the Motor Car Act. I think the provision in that Act has worked reasonably well.
Amendment by leave withdrawn.
The Dáil went out of Committee.
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