Wednesday, 22 February 1950
Dáil Éireann Debate
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. Morrissey): I had practically finished when we adjourned. I want to say that I am not any more in love with this tribunal than anybody else. As I explained earlier, it is there in these amendments, in this new part of the Bill, because of representations which were made from all sides of the House during the Second Reading debate. If the House does not want the tribunal, and wants to leave the Bill as originally introduced, that will suit me. On the other hand, if the House wants to retain the tribunal for the purpose of dealing with the question of branch lines or the reduction or cesser of services on certain lines, I do not mind —if that is the wish of the House.
I have no desire whatever that this tribunal should come into the picture from the point of view of charges. As I said before the adjournment, all I really want to know is what exactly the House wants. As far as I could gather from the debate to-day on this group of amendments, I do not think anybody spoke in favour of the  tribunal in relation to charges. I think that most Deputies, with the exception of one or two, were in favour of having the tribunal in relation to branch lines. I take it that is what the House desires. If it is, that satisfies me.
Mr. M. O'Sullivan: I think the position has been made perfectly clear all along from our side. It is that we did like the idea of the reference in the original Bill to the manner in which charges were to be dealt with by the board. We gave our reasons for that. We did think it was a mistake that there was a change, as outlined in the Minister's amendments, in that position. If I am any judge of the feeling in the House it would appear to be that the House desires that the question of charges should not be referred to the tribunal, especially under present conditions, but that there should be some form of appeal so far as branch lines are concerned. There is a feeling in the House that the question of branch lines is one on which the board should not have arbitrary powers, and that there might be some form of appeal as suggested by the Minister himself. There is a feeling in that respect. It was put to me by one or two members of the House who have, shall I say, certain commitments in this matter of branch lines. I think that the change suggested can be justified. On the question of charges, it does seem that there is a feeling in the House that it might be left alone, and with good effect so far as the new organisation is concerned. That is how we feel—that the Bill would be a better one on these lines.
Mr. Lemass: As between the Bill as introduced and the amendments, I would support the view expressed by Deputy O'Sullivan. If, however, the tribunal is to be retained in respect of the closing of branch lines and presumably also in relation to the operation of canal services, I would like if the Minister would indicate what type of tribunal he has in mind. Reference has been made to remuneration. I take it that he has not in mind a tribunal the members of which would be remunerated by an annual salary: that it would be a question of a payment per meeting or on some such  basis, which would mean that the tribunal would not be paid if there was no work for it to do. On that basis, I would agree to the suggestion that the tribunal be retained in respect of the services of branch lines and canals, and that the Minister would revert to his original proposal so far as charges are concerned. I think, however, I should say that we still would prefer the arrangement which would put upon the Minister's shoulders just that amount of responsibility which would make it relevant for a member of the Dáil to query policy on these matters. If, however, that is not practicable, I think the Minister would improve his Bill by adopting the suggestion made by Deputy O'Sullivan.
Mr. Morrissey: As I have already said, I am prepared to do that. I take it that is the view of the House. I suggest that the better and the simpler thing to do now is to let these amendments, the new Part of the Bill, go in, and I shall introduce the necessary amendments to bring about the changes which will be necessary so as to conform to the wishes of the House in relation to charges.
Captain Cowan: I think the House should be grateful to the Minister for meeting it in this way. If there is to be a re-examination in regard, say, to the obligation of the board to keep at all their depôts classification and all that kind of thing, the Minister might consider whether it is necessary to go into all that detail. There may be some reasons for it that I do not know of.
Mr. Morrissey: Deputy Cowan is now talking about a new amendment which I introduced to-day. I should explain that the amendment was introduced as a substitute for the original amendment No. 81 to meet points which were raised on amendment No. 27 by, I think, Deputy Lemass, and raised also by other members of the House. It is merely to clarify the position in relation to the various classifications and to ensure that they should be accessible to the public. I think that is reasonable enough.
Captain Cowan: I am quite certain that Córas Iompair Éireann will do that. But once you put it into a statute that they are bound to do it, if they do not do it they are doing something that is wrong. Whether they are committing an offence or not, I do not know—they probably are. Any carrying company will be able to tell you right away what their charges are if you go in and ask what is the charge for this or that.
Captain Cowan: It may be so. There is a question of classification which has relation to charges. That may cause a considerable amount of trouble. If the Minister and Deputy Lemass, who had responsibility for a long period in regard to this, feel that it should be done, then I shall not bother further about it.
Mr. Morrissey: Before the Deputy speaks about amendment No. 84, may I draw attention to the fact that there is a drafting error in it? The word “contain” should appear before the words “an intimation” in sub-section (3) (a) (ii).
Mr. Desmond: I have been in communication with the Department in connection with the Courtmacsherry line and I had a communication from them. I believe the matter could be dealt with in this Bill. The information available so far as I know contradicts some statements that were made and I should like the Minister to let us know where we stand. It is a question of the suitability of the line for a heavier axle load.
Mr. Desmond: I had a letter from the Department some time ago stating that an Act of the Oireachtas would appear to be necessary to provide for this. I am asking your guidance in the matter, Sir. I should like to know if it could be included in this Bill.
Mr. Desmond: In view of the letter written to me in connection with this stating that the question could not be dealt with unless covered by an Act of the Oireachtas, will it be considered now in the light of that, rather than at a later stage when we may be informed that it is not included and that no measure can be brought in to bring relief in this case?
Mr. Morrissey: I, naturally, do not know the details of the case to which the Deputy is referring. If the Deputy will speak to me about it or send me the letter or a copy of it, I will have the matter looked into and a letter sent to him setting out what the actual position is.
(3) In addition to the functions specified in this Part, the tribunal shall, if and when so requested by the Minister, advise the Minister on any matters relating to transport services which are specified in the request.—(Aire Tionscail agus Tráchtála.)
The board may adopt such classification of merchandise for the purpose of the application thereto of rates of charges to be made in respect of the carriage of merchandise as the board thinks fit.—(Aire Tionscail agus Tráchtála.)
(2) Where the board proposes to make a new charge for any service provided by it, and the proposed new  charge would, if made, exceed the existing statutory minimum charge for that service, the following provisions shall have effect:—
(ii) intimating that any interested party who would be affected by the proposed new charge, if made, may, during the period of 30 days commencing on the date of the first publication of the notice, apply to the tribunal for an order refusing to sanction the making of the proposed new charge on the ground that it is not reasonable;
(c) any interested party, who would be affected by the proposed new charge, if made, may during the said period of 30 days apply to the tribunal for an order refusing to sanction the making of the proposed new charge on the ground that it is not reasonable,
(d) if no such application is made before the expiration of the said period of 30 days, the tribunal shall, if the board so request after such expiration, make an order authorising the board to make the proposed new charge,
the expression “the railway classification of merchandise” means the classification of merchandise for the time being in force adopted by the board for the purposes of the application of rates of charges to be made by the board for the carriage of merchandise by rail; the expression “the canal classification of merchandise” means the classification of merchandise for the time being in force adopted by the board for the purposes of the application of rates of charges to be made by the board for the carriage of merchandise by inland waterway.
(2) The board shall keep for sale copies of the railway and canal classifications of merchandise, the schedules of the existing statutory maximum charges in respect of the carriage of merchandise by rail and inland waterway and schedules of the maximum charges which the board is entitled to make in respect of the carriage of merchandise by rail and inland waterway.
Where the board agrees with a trader for the carriage of any of his merchandise at rates which represent  a reasonable commutation of the rates and charges otherwise applicable to the merchandise of such trader carried by the board, the board may, notwithstanding anything contained in this or any other Act, make as regards the carrying of that trader's merchandise the agreed charges—(Aire Tionscail agus Tráchtála).
Any carriage of merchandise by rail by the board which is in accordance with the terms and conditions contained in Statutory Rule and Order No. 13 of 1930, shall be deemed to be carriage of that merchandise under terms and conditions which are just and reasonable—(Aire Tionscail agus Tráchtála).
(b) discontinue permanently a service of trains for passengers or merchandise or either of them which was temporarily discontinued under the Emergency Powers (Córas Iompair Eireann) (Reduction of Railway Services) Order, 1944 (S.R. & O., No. 354 of 1944).
(2) The board may from time to time apply to the tribunal to make, in respect of any particular railway line, an exemption order, and the application shall contain full particulars of the order which the board wishes to obtain.
(d) if any objections to the making of the order are sent to the tribunal by any interested party before the said date, the tribunal, after hearing the objectors and the board, shall do one of the following things:—
(4) Whenever the tribunal make an exemption order in relation to a railway line, then, in case the order is not a temporary order, at all times after the order comes into force or, in case the order is a temporary order, during the period specified  therein, the following provisions shall apply:—
(a) the order shall operate to exempt the board from any obligation to provide a service of trains for passengers and merchandise or either of them (as may be specified in the order) on that railway line,
(b) the order shall not affect in any way any liability of the board to maintain all bridges, level crossings, fences, drains and other works constructed and maintained for the use, accommodation or protection of the public generally or of any section of the public or of owners or occupiers of particular lands,
(c) so much of Section 47 of the Railways Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845, as makes it obligatory to employ proper persons to open and shut gates at a level crossing shall not apply to any level crossing on that railway line if and so long as all the gates on that level crossing are kept and secured in such position as to permit the free passage of road traffic across the line at that level crossing,
(d) it shall be the duty of the board to operate, in the area previously served by that railway line, road transport services which are, having regard to the requirements from time to time of that area, adequate.
(5) Nothing in this section shall operate to prejudice or affect any power or right vested in the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs under or by virtue of the Railways (Conveyance of Mails) Act, 1838—(Aire Tionscail agus Tráchtála).
(i) The board may not reduce the facilities granted to by-traders on the Grand Canal undertaking or increase tolls, dues, or wharfage or other rates charged to such traders except by Order of the Minister.
I take it that amendment No. 84a relates to the operation of the canal by the canal company, and this ensures that the board will not be able to close the canal or any part of it without the sanction of the tribunal. But, apart altogether from closing the canal, there is the question of the protection of the interests of by-traders. These by-traders on the canal are, in a sense, in competition with the canal company itself. They are both seeking business in the transportation of goods by canal.
Mr. Lemass: And a source of revenue —that is true. But there has been a policy of live and let live followed to a considerable extent by the company in the past in so far as they did not seek, in the operation of their own barges, to interfere in branches of trade which the by-traders regarded as their own. I think it might be desirable to have some provision in the Bill which would ensure that the board could not alter its policy without justifying the alteration. I do not want to preclude them from altering their policy, but it should not be left entirely to their own discretion.
It is entirely different from railway operation. Nobody but the railway company runs trains on their railway lines, but over the canal highway there are these other traders operating, and their capacity to operate at a profit depends on the facilities given them by the canal undertaking and by the level of the tolls, dues, wharfage charges and other charges made to them for their operation. While we have reached agreement that the company is not to be restricted in the charges it makes for its own services, I do not think it would be wise to leave them unrestricted in the charges they make to these by-traders operating on the canal.
In this case I think it is desirable that the Minister should come in because an alteration in policy of this kind would have to be considered by the Dáil and it is only if the Minister has responsibility that the Dáil could do it. That is why I urge this amendment or something like it should be  inserted by way of protection for these by-traders. I do not wish to represent the position as one in which there is any apprehension amongst them at the moment, that they will be adversely affected by the company's operations or that they will be powerless if they are so adversely affected, but I think it is desirable that we should have in the Bill some safeguarding clause which would ensure that they cannot be subjected to more adverse conditions of operation without the Dáil having some power to do something about it.
Mr. Larkin: I urge the Minister to have regard to the point made by Deputy Lemass. Possibly the amendment as drafted might not meet with his acceptance, but he should have regard to the peculiar position arising in connection with the canal. So far as rail and road traffic are concerned, leaving aside the question of licences to haul goods, nobody could stop a person running a lorry on the road if he wants to do it; but here we have a position where the by-traders on the canal fall into two categories. There is the category of the commercial undertaking that has its own boat and hauls its own goods, and there is the private boat owner who may work under contract for a commercial undertaking or for the canal company. The position is that practically 50 per cent. of the traffic carried by the canal company on its canals is carried in boats owned by persons other than the canal company; in other words, half the traffic is carried in privately owned boats.
These by-traders may be affected in a number of ways by changes in the tolls or in the withdrawal or the reduction of the facilities in respect of traffic for their boats on the canal. I am not so much concerned with those fairly large commercial and industrial undertakings that have their own boats, because in many cases these boats are utilised only because some of the directors of these undertakings happen to be directors also of the canal company and they take that personal interest in the canal. Many of them in recent years have started to develop their own road transport system in opposition to their own  canal boats and canal services. But there are a number of small boat owners whose livelihood depends on the ownership and the working of the boats. They have crews working for them.
As regards the men employed on the boats of commercial undertakings and the employees on the privately owned boats, we have here a body of men who, for more years than I like to remember, have worked under the most intolerable conditions, both in regard to wages and working hours, and they are living in the hope that some day they will eventually be regarded and treated as human beings. If the employees of the canal company are working under conditions and receiving wages which could not well be defended in public, the employees of the privately owned boats are even on a lower scale and, while I realise it may be difficult if not almost impossible to provide the form of protection to which these men are entitled, I think the Minister should retain some powers of final sanction in regard to possible interference with their livelihood and he should retain, even in an indirect way, the power to ensure that if their livelihood is taken away by virtue of their not being able to carry on—that is, the privately owned boats—through not getting contracts from commercial undertakings or the canal company itself, there should be some consideration for their position.
These men are in a special class. They follow this particular type of work. Indeed, their families have followed it for generations, and they put up with conditions that I do not believe any other body of men would suffer under. If we integrate the canal system with the national transport system we should not do it in such a way as to place any greater hardship on these men. During the emergency the canal system played a very, very important rôle in maintaining transport. Indeed, it was the only period for quite a long time in which the canal company paid dividends and they were able to do that because they got the benefit of the increased traffic during the emergency and they had not to pay increased wages at the same time.
While I recognise the difficulties the  Minister is up against, I think his sympathy will be with this group of men. In so far as Deputy Lemass's point is concerned, it will give some indirect control and supervision with respect to the private boat owners and I urge the Minister to put in some amendment along the lines suggested by Deputy Lemass, which I support.
Mr. Morrissey: I do not think there are any grounds for the fears expressed by Deputy Lemass or Deputy Larkin. I think we have a right to assume that a national transport concern operating the canals will have at least as much concern for the rights of those by-traders as a private company has and I have no doubt that as regards the conditions under which they operate their boats on the canal, if they are not improved, they certainly will not be worsened.
Mr. Morrissey: They cannot do that. We are doing nothing in this Bill which alters their present position. The new board will be bound, in accordance with Section 49, to maintain the canal, to have it open for traffic by those boats and to give reasonable facilities for the acceptance and delivery of freight or merchandise, and it will be to the interest of the canal company or the new board to encourage boats of that type, not to discourage them, because, as Deputy Larkin has pointed out, the canal company at the moment is not itself able to carry the traffic on the canal. I do not know if the Deputy is aware that the canal company earn a very substantial income through the operations of the private boat owners. The Deputy may think I am, so to speak, walking into it by admitting that, but that is the fact.
What I want to remind Deputies of is this. They are sometimes inclined to forget that we are displacing a  private company for a national board. Surely, therefore, it is reasonable to assume that such a national board will have at least as much—I believe far more—consideration for the people using the canal outside of the canal company itself. There is no use in talking about bringing the Minister into the Bill at this stage. It cannot be done. There is no use in talking about bringing the tribunal back into the Bill at this stage in order to deal with the canal company alone. We have already dealt with that. I think that both Deputy Lemass and Deputy Larkin will agree that there are no real grounds for any fear in this connection. I am quite sure that if the national board did at any time try to inflict a hardship on or deprive private owners of boats on the canal of any rights which they are enjoying at the moment, that is a matter that could very easily and quickly be set right. One can do it with a national board when one could not do it with a private company.
Mr. Larkin: So long as we have the assurance of the Minister that he will deal with the position if trouble does arise, I will accept his view that we cannot bring him back into the Bill at the moment. May I submit, however, that his view of the canal company is quite wrong? So far as canal traffic is concerned, the money earned by the company on tolls and so forth is considerable, but the main source of income outside of the profit made by them on the road freight section largely springs, particularly in recent years, from the dividends earned on their investments. I do not think the actual tolls and rents would be sufficient to maintain the canal. The reason why these private owners have been a source of profit is that the crews of these privately owned boats work for wages below the rates paid by the company itself; they work a 24-hour day as compared with the canal company's 16-hour day.
From that point of view it is a paying proposition for the company to have traffic carried in these privately owned boats because they can make money on them when they cannot make it on their own. The canal company believe that  the most profitable policy to pursue is to close down their traffic-carrying activities and close the canal as well while making the company a road freight service.
Mr. Larkin: While it is true that there remains a statutory obligation to keep the canal open for traffic, it only wants a fall in the water level to wipe out all traffic altogether. That could be excused on the grounds that the condition of the water bed and the condition of the locks was unsuitable or because of a thousand and one other reasons which would successfully relieve them of this onerous obligation. I think that in amalgamating the canal company and the rail and road system, we are pursuing a proper course. I am aware that one cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs, but I do not want to have those omelettes at the expense of the men who have already had a hard life and who, if we do not have regard to their claims, may find themselves, after 30 or 40 years, thrown out of employment.
Mr. Lemass: The statutory obligation to keep the canal open is worth nothing. The Great Southern Railway had a statutory obligation to keep the Royal Canal open. Córas Iompair Éireann has that statutory obligation now, but there is not much traffic on the Royal Canal. I think there is considerable ground for apprehension in this case proceeding on the general knowledge that no canal undertaking has ever been able to complete with a railway undertaking anywhere. I think it is inevitable that the whole tendency of the management will be towards the disposal of the canal undertaking.
Captain Cowan: Once the Minister assures us that the matter will receive his attention and sympathy, I think  that is as far as we can expect to go. Some time ago I had a deputation from these men. They told me the wages they received, the hours they worked and the distances they travelled. I told them that it was my opinion that, if the canal continued to exist, there would be no danger to their employment because the canal company could not find anyone else to do the work they were doing for the wages they were prepared to accept for it. It is, of course, a traditional family employment. Because their fathers, their grandfathers and their great-grandfathers before them engaged in it they are anxious to carry on. Now that the Minister has expressed his appreciation of and sympathy with these people, I think we can leave the matter there.
(1) In this section the expression “interested person” includes the Minister, the Minister for Agriculture, the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland, a harbour authority, the corporation of a county or other borough or the council of any county or urban district.
(2) The board shall not by rates or fares charged, whether through or local, or by facilities provided for it or otherwise, place any one port in the State at an undue disadvantage as compared with any other port in the State to, from or through which traffic is or may be carried.
(3) The board shall, if required by any interested person, use all proper endeavours to provide a reasonable system of through booking with through rates, fares and facilities by all reasonable routes.
(4) No rebates, commissions or agency or other allowances shall be  given by the board to traders at or using any port in the State which are not given by the board in similar circumstances to traders at or using any other port in the State.
(5) If any dispute arises under this section or in relation to any matter or thing thereunder or as to whether the board is fulfilling its obligations thereunder or taking all reasonable steps for that purpose, the dispute may, at the instance of the board or the interested person concerned, be referred to the High Court and thereupon the High Court shall determine the dispute.
It does not seem sensible to me that where an agreement exists between the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and the board it should be necessary for the purpose of revising that agreement to go to the High Court. I could understand that being necessary when Córas Iompair Éireann was a private concern. It will no longer be a private concern under this Bill in the sense that it will be subsidised by public funds. If there should be any difference of opinion or any dispute between Córas Iompair Éireann and the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, I think it is the Minister for Finance who should determine such a dispute.
If the dispute were to go to the High Court the board would have to appoint counsel and the Department of Posts and Telegraphs would have to do the  same. The matter would be argued before a judge and decided by him. His decision might not be acceptable from the point of view of the public. Therefore I thought it would be better that the Minister for Finance, who provides the funds for the board and who is concerned with the finances of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, should be the person to decide. I am not tied entirely to the Minister for Finance in this respect but it strikes me as being an expensive and unnecessary procedure to have it brought before the High Court.
Mr. Morrissey: I do not think so. As a matter of fact there was a similar provision in the 1944 Act. I am advised that, actually, no case ever went, under the 1944 Act, to the High Court. It is quite possible that the Minister for Finance might be a very interested party himself in any dispute between the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and the board—and particularly if we reach the time for which we are all so anxiously hoping when Córas Iompair Éireann will be paying its way and perhaps making a profit. If they were making a profit the Minister for Finance might be inclined to come down on the side of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. I think it is unlikely that there will be many disagreements of such a type as would require to be referred to the High Court. There will be very few. Personally, I should prefer them to be determined by the High Court rather than by the Minister for Finance.
Mr. Morrissey: I am sorry that I cannot accept this amendment. At the same time, I am anxious that, as far as possible, the maximum amount of native fuel will be used by Córas Iompair Éireann or by any other State company. I think the Deputy knows that I am sympathetic towards the idea behind this amendment—so much so that I asked Sir James Milne to go into the matter of Arigna coal at the time they were going into the question. The company themselves are desirous of using native fuel to the fullest possible extent. In fact, certain experiments are being carried out at the moment to see if it is possible to devise or build a locomotive that will burn native fuel economically, whether it be coal or turf.
As far as I am concerned, I have represented on numerous occasions to the board that it is my desire that, as far as it is possible for them to do so, they should use Irish coal. I cannot go any further than that and I certainly could not accept the amendment.
Mr. B. Maguire: The Minister is aware that while these investigations are going on the coal workers in the Arigna area are fleeing the country in large numbers. Is the Minister aware, also, that, without getting in new machinery in the way of boilers suitable for our coal, Arigna coal has been used for years on the railway system prior to amalgamation and that it is still being used on some of the branch lines? The operators on these branch lines have informed me that they have got better results from Arigna coal than they have been getting or got when they used foreign coal. It is, therefore, clearly evident that new  types of boilers are not required before the coal can be used efficiently. It has been used for the past 100 years on some of those lines: it is still being used and it is still successful. Surely it is not impossible for the Minister to interfere and stop this unemployment and consequent emigration of trained workers by insisting that the railways should be asked to use a larger quantity of Arigna coal than they are using?
I urge the Minister, in view of the circumstances — of which he must already be aware and which I know to be a fact—to ensure greater use of Irish produced coal in this respect. I am in close touch with the district in question—Arigna. I ask the Minister to go so far as to give an undertaking to-night that he will see to it that the railways will increase their consumption of the fuel that has been successful and that is still efficiently and successfully used on the railways system.
Mr. Morrissey: What the Deputy has said, I think, indicates in itself the desire of the company to use that coal as far as it is possible for them to do so, having regard, of course—some regard anyway—all the time to the economy of the matter. I do not want this to develop into a debate on the question of Arigna coal but I think it is only fair to say, in respect of Arigna coal, and Deputy Maguire is aware of this, that two or three State companies are taking much more than 50 per cent. of the entire output of the Arigna coalfield. Having regard to that, I must say that I cannot understand why it is so difficult to dispose of the balance of that output or why there should be this great volume of unemployment or emigration that we are told about.
Mr. Morrissey: Not in the way in which the Deputy has put it. However, I might say that two State companies—and a third one taking a small amount—are taking more than 50 per cent. of the entire output of that particular coalfield. I think that that in itself indicates that so far as the State  is concerned it has a very definite interest in that coalfield and that it is giving it a very substantial amount of support.
Mr. B. Maguire: The Minister must be aware,—if he is not he should be so aware—that semi-State owned concerns such as the Sugar Company and Córas Iompair Éireann are taking 50 per cent. of the output from Arigna. Nevertheless, it is also true to state that the present output from Arigna is just half what it ordinarily should be. The result is unemployment and a considerable amount of emigration. Further, is the Minister aware of this rather peculiar position in regard to the consumption of coal from Arigna? The coal mined in Arigna, for the purpose of getting sale with the Sugar Company—the lump coal; the best quality coal—is not accepted by the Sugar Company until it has been crushed for steam purposes. It has to be reduced from the level of first-class lump coal to the level of the least valuable coal, namely, ordinary slack. A deterioration and loss in fuel power is thereby incurred. The Minister may say that one half of the output is at present being consumed by State-owned concerns. While that may be true, the amount of the output has been reduced and accordingly unemployment has been increased. Could the Minister not ensure that the railway authorities will use the best quality of lump coal and leave the increased output of slack coal to be consumed in the sugar factories? There is definitely a great waste going on under the present arrangements and the Minister need not by any means consider he is discharging his duty in allowing it to continue. The Minister should reserve this home-produced coal, which is as good as any imported coal, for use on the railways and supply only the inferior quality coal to the factories which could use it economically
Mr. Lemass: So far as I know, there is no problem of design which prevents the use of Arigna coal in railway locomotives. Before the war, from 1932 onwards, there was an arrangement, into which the railway companies entered under some pressure, though it  could be described as a voluntary arrangement, by which both the Great Southern Railways and the Great Northern Railway agreed to take stated quantities of Arigna coal, that is to say, properly screened Arigna coal. I think that arrangement may have terminated when the sugar factories came into production because there was a time when they were prepared to take all the Arigna coal they could get. It is true that during the war some small workings were commenced in various parts of County Leitrim in the Arigna coalfield area, and the output of coal increased considerably in tonnage but a lot of the coal produced was of very bad quality. I am sure Deputy Maguire will not deny that.
Mr. Lemass: There were similar complaints from other users. A lot of the workings during these years were improvident and those who undertook them were merely trying to make hay while the sun shone. There are, however, properly equipped collieries in that area with proper screening of output and they can produce coal which is quite comparable with Welsh steam coal and which can be used by itself or with a mixture in any equipment which can burn Welsh steam coal. My recollection is that, in the operation of the pre-war arrangement, there was little complaint from any of the railway companies as to the difficulty of using that coal and whatever complaints subsequently emerged were due to the deterioration of quality during the war. The extent to which it is desirable to exploit the coal reserves in the Arigna area is a matter of policy. Clearly, in time of war one would develop them more thoroughly and by various methods that would not recommend themselves in normal  times. There has been, as far as I know, 20,000,000 or 30,000,000 tons estimated as available in the whole area all of it capable of economic working. These narrow seams can be better exploited by the establishment of a few competently managed and properly equipped collieries rather than by a rough and ready extraction of the coal without regard to any long term plan or the amortisation of capital investment. Let me again remind the Dáil that there was an arrangement which ensured the use and consumption of Arigna coal for railway operation before the war. It worked successfully and if there is any particular problem in the disposal of Arigna coal now, I am sure a similar arrangement could be worked out.
Mr. Sheehan: I should like to support the amendment of Deputy Maguire and the remarks made by Deputy Lemass in connection with it. I handled a considerable amount of Arigna coal during the war and I must say that it was equally as good, if not better than, some of the English coal. It was much better than some of the coal that Córas Iompair Éireann used during the war and is using to-day. We hear a lot of talk about home industry and the necessity of encouraging home production and I see no reason why the Government could not formulate some plan to ensure that a large percentage of Irish coal would be used by native concerns. I happen to be engaged in the coal trade myself and I can say the coal we have been getting in this country from abroad for a number of years past is anything but Grade 1. That is even true of the coal that is coming in now, but our hands are tied and we have to take it. We are dealing with the National Coal Board and they tell us it is Grade 1 coal. We know very well it is not Grade 1, but rather Grade 4 or Grade 5 coal.
I would strongly urge that the Government should encourage the use of Irish coal as much as possible on the railways and in our factories. I have discussed this matter several times with Deputy Maguire and he has assured me it would be a great boon to that district if the use of this coal were encouraged.  It is not alone in the coal mines that additional employment could be given but on the railways and in the various factories where it could be used. This coal, I understand, is quite satisfactory for use in the sugar factories and I fully support the views put forward by Deputy Maguire and Deputy Lemass in regard to this matter.
Mr. B. Maguire: Will the Parliamentary Secretary give some indication that he will have the matter investigated with a view to remedying the position? Is the national waste that is going on in the form of utilising excellent quality coal for the purposes of inferior production to be continued? Could we not make available the better quality coal for the purposes of railway transport in larger quantities and so make available a larger market for the slack coal in the concerns that can use it successfully? It is not too much to ask the Department to examine the position reasonably in that way.
Mr. Cosgrave: The board has the matter under consideration. I have no technical knowledge of the matter and I cannot speak from technical experience but the company, I believe, have had difficulty in dealing with the white ash and clinker content.
Mr. Cosgrave: It is a question of fact and it can be decided by Deputies. The Minister has asked the proprietors of the collieries in question, and also I understand the trade unions concerned, to supply him with certain information. He has not yet received that information. When he receives it, the matter will be fully investigated, but up to the present Córas Iompair Éireann have found difficulty with that problem. If the Deputy can provide a solution to that, I have no doubt that the company——
Mr. Cosgrave: I am telling the Deputy what the company have found. The Deputy says he has a contrary opinion. If there is a conflict of facts, it may be that it can be resolved on further investigation.
Mr. C. Lehane: Could the Parliamentary Secretary enlighten us on this point? Is it correct that the company's technical experts refused to have any representatives of the mining interests present when tests of the coal were being made? I think that would be a fair touchstone of their genuineness.
Mr. Lemass: Córas Iompair Éireann use, I suppose, about 2,500,000 tons of coal a year. They could take the whole output of Arigna and, properly mixed with fuel coal, they would get as good a coal as they want. I do not believe the story about the ash content.
Mr. Cosgrave: I am not a technical adviser and cannot speak with the  authority with which some Deputies appear to speak. The position is that when certain selected samples were tested the samples proved satisfactory but when larger quantities of the coal were purchased by the company the quality did not measure up to that of the samples.
Mr. C. Lehane: Can the Parliamentary Secretary say whether there was any question of a refusal on the part of the company's experts to have out side interests represented when the tests were being made?
Mr. Cosgrave: I cannot say that, but the position as I understand it was that the samples were tested, the test was satisfactory, but when they got larger quantities they did not measure up to the sample.
Mr. Cosgrave: Within the last 12 months, or certainly within the last 15 months. The Minister has asked the collieries concerned and the trade unions to submit certain information. If that information can be secured, it may be possible to resolve this difficulty.
Mr. Morrissey: The invitation has gone out to the Deputy. It is my desire that everyone who can make a useful contribution to this will be there. We have invited colliery owners, trade unions and anyone else who could be helpful. If the Deputy has not received the invitation, certainly the invitation was to go to him and I understand it was sent out to him within the last few days. I do not know whether he has been at home since or not.
Mr. Larkin: My opposition to Section 59 is largely for the purpose of finding the basis of justification for the section as put in. I am not approaching this matter from the normal standpoint I take in respect of directors. I always have a certain amount of doubt there that they justify the payment to them of sums of money of from £200 to £800 a year for attending a meeting lasting one or two hours on one or two occasions in a month. I am leaving that aside altogether. What I am concerned with is the position of the persons referred to in the section, in the light of statements made in this House. I am not even concerned with the fact that they happen to be directors or in a particular technical position. I am not one of those who, in the course of a debate, gives a great deal of time to the upbraiding and criticising of the actual members of the board of Córas Iompair Éireann. That seems to me to be a waste of time when there are much graver problems facing us.
However, many members of the House, many members of the Government, were very outspoken in their criticism of the board of Córas Iompair Éireann. I do not think it is unfair to say that the Minister himself took a very critical view, both before and subsequent to taking office as Minister. We may look upon this group of gentlemen in one or two ways. We can, on the one hand, follow the line that has been followed on many occasions in this House, of regarding the board of Córas Iompair Éireann as consisting solely of the late chairman and the other directors as merely a collection of automatons or rubber stamps who automatically followed and fell in with the decisions made by the late chairman. If that is the case, then what is the justification for giving them these sums of money? They will be compensated already as shareholders. I have not expressed opposition to the compensatory terms of the Bill, because I realise that the general view would be that they are terms that should be accepted.
 Again, the problem of transport is too big to worry unduly over minor details of compensation. Yet, if we take the view that has been expressed repeatedly in this House by various members of the present Government and by the Minister himself, that here over a long period we were dealing with a group of directors from whom all effective power had been taken because of the constitution of the board and the powers given to the previous chairman by the 1944 Act, how then in heaven's name are we to justify compensating these directors for their loss of office? Are we to compensate them for something that they did not do? Are we to compensate them for exercising powers they did not possess? Are we to compensate them for the management and control and direction of policy of a transport undertaking in respect of which they had no power, no responsibility and could not influence policy? That does not seem to me to be a line of argument that would carry us very far.
If, on the other hand, we take the view that they have carried out some effective duties, somewhat analogous to the work carried out by directors of other concerns, then we must relate it to the very direct criticism made of their direction and control of the undertaking. Either they had control of the undertaking and they must answer for all the charges made against them, or they had no control and had not, in fact, performed any work for which they should be compensated.
It may be argued that we have compensated shareholders and that we propose to compensate officers and servants, all the workmen of the two undertakings about to be amalgamated, and that it is only reasonable that we should compensate these directors for their loss of office. It always surprises me how generous we are prepared to be when we come to deal with directors. In this particular case, I take it that in regard to the director of one dissolved undertaking, the total fee he would be entitled to receive in respect of 1948-49 would be somewhere in the neighbourhood of £800 or £1,000.
Mr. Larkin: I always underestimate, so that I will not be caught out. Perhaps it is just as well that I do not know how much more. If we take it as £1,000 or £800 and then come to the case of a person who is a director of both dissolved undertakings, we get a figure of roughly £1,600 or £2,000. That is the compensation we propose to give to the directors who, according to the report of Sir James Milne, met once a fortnight. It would be reasonable to assume that they spent three or four hours at their meeting once a fortnight, engaged on the work of the company. They may have had sub-committees of the board which met occasionally in addition to the fortnightly meetings.
I do not want to go into the other matter set down in the Milne Report, because, apparently, a good deal of it is challenged, as regards the manner in which the business of meetings was conducted. Let us accept it that they did meet once a fortnight and spent three or four hours at the meeting and conducted their business as an ordinary group of business men. We are still up against the fact that we now propose to give each of these persons a sum from £1,600 to £2,000 as compensation for loss of office and we propose to give them a lump sum equal to the total amount that it would take an ordinary workman in one of these undertakings four years to earn. I know quite well that there is a tremendous difference between an ordinary porter, engine cleaner or labourer in the shops or a third hand on a canal boat and a director of Córas Iompair Éireann or the Grand Canal Company. In normal times I would be too modest to challenge the exalted position of such a director but what concerns me at the moment is how all of us who, over a period from 1944, have poured out the vials of our wrath in criticism and condemnation of those charged with the management and control of Córas Iompair Éireann, can now calmly say that we feel that these people, either as automatons under the control of the former chairman or as active directors in charge of the railway company which has been brought to such a state that not merely has the organisation to be put under State control but the whole credit of the  State has to be made available in order to save it from complete wreck, are entitled to compensation. Either as automatons having no responsibility, no control and no active work to perform or as active directors responsible for all that has brought Córas Iompair Éireann into this House again in 1950, after all the mismanagement, lack of policy, lack of co-ordination and lack of view, these directors are to be compensated in these very large sums. I, frankly, am at a loss to understand the matter and I hope the Minister is in a position to give us information that will justify this particular section. I cannot reconcile it with what has been stated in this House.
Mr. Sweetman: It is not very often, perhaps, that on a matter like this Deputy Larkin and I would be in agreement but I find it impossible, in conscience, to reconcile a vote for this section with the views that have been expressed as to the manner in which the board of Córas Iompair Éireann carried on their business during the past years. Although in every winding up of a concern there is a precedent for the payment of compensation to outgoing directors and although the provision is put into this Bill, as it has been put in other Bills because there is such a precedent, nevertheless, we must consider the terms of this Bill, not from the point of view of precedent but from the point of view of the individual case.
We have also to remember that the board of Córas Iompair Éireann went out of their way last year to enter the arena in regard to the position that existed. If the board of Córas Iompair Éireann had behaved as an ordinary board should behave, I personally would feel that they had a very much stronger case for the inclusion of this section. They did not do that. They deliberately went into the arena. I must, of course, bow to the Standing Order that prevents me referring to people outside this Chamber. They cannot be criticised. Yet, what has been done by people outside the Chamber must be considered in relation to the section that it is proposed to put into the Bill affecting them. So far as I am concerned. I take the view  that these gentlemen went into the arena and, therefore, it behoves the members of the House to consider their position as directors, who either carried on this undertaking without any effective voice in the concern of Córas Iompair Éireann or, in the alternative, without giving to the transport service the attention that it deserved and that should have been given to it.
As I have said, it is not very often, perhaps, that on matters like this Deputy Larkin and I would see eye to eye. There may be some reason for the inclusion of the section that I am not aware of, beyond the fact that it is a precedent, but I do feel that the Minister ought to leave it to the House to decide, on a free vote, if a vote is required, as to whether this section should be included or not.
Mr. Davin: The Minister must have figures, and before accepting responsibility for inserting this section, I would like to know approximately what amounts are involved in these payments if the section as it stands is passed. It is an historical fact—the Minister, Deputy Lemass and other Deputies know it—that these directors, strictly speaking, are not railway directors. These directors are not put there by the votes of the common stockholders. They are put there by the power held by the banks. Apart altogether from that, this House, on a recent occasion, passed a Bill to meet £4,000,000 odd accumulated losses caused by the incompetency and inefficiency of the members of the board that we are now proposing to compensate.
If they had carried out their duties in a satisfactory way or if they had made an honest attempt to do so, one could understand this kind of proposal, for which there is a precedent. It is quite correct, as Deputy Sweetman said, that these gentlemen took the arena against the Government, against the will of the people. At a shareholders' meeting, the chairman nominated by the Government and approved by the members of this House—and he has the approval of all the members of this House, which is one good thing —was challenged in the chair by a gentleman who gave himself the title  of deputy chairman. He led the attack on the chair and a certain meeting of shareholders had to be adjourned. The Minister cannot deny that. I hope the Minister will give the figures involved in this section, that he will also state whether there is any departmental or legal authority for the position of deputy chairman and that he will indicate the compensation that will be involved in that particular case, apart from the ordinary directors.
Is it not a fact also—we have it on record in this House and I know it to be true—that the men who accepted positions as ordinary members of the board—as representatives of the common stockholders, as they are described—were not consulted in regard to many of the major decisions taken by the chairman, under the authority, I admit, conferred on him by Deputy Lemass and his Party in the 1944 Act? If these men had been really directors, live directors, with any spirit of independence, would they not have challenged that kind of procedure? Had they done so and had they reported that kind of activity to the present Minister or his predecessor, some of the millions which we have had to vote here recently and which will have to be collected from the taxpayers might have been saved. They simply played the part of “yes-men” and allowed this great national concern to get into a state of bankruptcy and we are now asked for permission to compensate them for their inefficiency, incompetence and lack of courage. I do not propose to subscribe to that kind of thing and I hope the Minister will not press the amendment.
In any case, the stockholders' directors, as they are described by Deputy Lemass and others, are—not all of them—professional directors. The majority of them are directors of eight or ten other companies and they are not like the railwayman who will lose his position as a result of redundancy and will get compensation as a result. They have incomes, some of them, amounting to £10,000 a year. They spend a few hours in Córas Iompair Éireann and then run around to a bank and from the bank to an insurance company. They have a lot of other  pickings and they are not going to starve, if the House requests the Minister to decide that they are not entitled to any compensation for bringing this great national concern into a state of bankruptcy.
Mr. C. Lehane: I am loath to intervene in this debate, but I think it would be wrong to let it go out from the House, no matter what our feeling of natural irritation may be, that, because a brochure critical of Government policy was issued by these people, in their capacity as directors of Córas Iompair Éireann, the section, for that reason and that reason alone, should be opposed. That would not be to the credit of the House, and, if Deputy Sweetman thinks over it, he will agree.
Mr. C. Lehane: That is perfectly true. The question should be examined objectively, and, if we look at it objectively, we will see that there is no debt due from the people of this country to this group of directors. I do not think it could in any circumstances be put forward that, on sympathetic or humanitarian grounds, any of these gentlemen should occasion us even five seconds' qualms of conscience about opposing this section. As Deputy Davin very properly pointed out, these directors—it is unfortunate that it was so and the present position might perhaps not have existed if there had been real directors who would insist on being directors, and, if not allowed so to act, would have resigned—were there as nominal directors. Most of them are professional directors and one of them, I understand, is a director of about 16 different concerns. I do not think the Minister should ask the House to accept this section. I do not know if he  has any very coercive reasons up his sleeve which he is going to trot out for the benefit of Deputies, but they will want to be extremely coercive before he will be successful in convincing some of us that the section should be supported and the amendment rejected. These gentlemen took these positions on the board of Córas Iompair Éireann and I do not think that any one of them, if called upon, would be in a position to make a case to the House as to why the compensation envisaged in the section should be paid to him. I urge the Minister to reconsider his approach to it and to accept Deputy Larkin's amendment.
Mr. S. Collins: I want to say very briefly and succinctly what I think about the section. It is unfortunate that it was ever put in the Bill, because it seems to me rather strange, in the light of the knowledge the House now has of the management of Córas Iompair Éireann, that the question of any compensation to a director should be considered. I am amazed that the reverse view is not taken and I think that the moneys paid to these gentlemen might well be described as moneys paid to aid and abet them in their bungling and mismanagement. My view of the matter is that this House should not pay any award to directors who may now lose their positions in the light of a record which speaks volumes in the dismal failure of the concern.
Captain Cowan: I take a slightly different view. It has been the general principle that, where a person loses his employment because of any change such as this, compensation should be paid, and that principle runs through other sections of the measure. I want to maintain the principle of compensation, but the compensation paid ought to be reasonable, and, taking into account the history of Córas Iompair Éireann under the management of the directors concerned. I do not think the treatment afforded to them should be exceptionally generous. In order, therefore, to maintain the principle set out in the section I would be prepared to support it if the Minister would agree to alter the wording which says that the compensation shall be “an amount  equivalent to the fees received by him as director for the period 1948 and 1949”. I suggest that the provision be altered to read: “one hundredth part of the fees received by him, such sum not to exceed £10, whichever is the lesser.” In that way, the Minister will maintain his principle and the House will have a method of showing clearly what compensation these gentlemen are entitled to. It is also possible that some public funds might be utilised for the purpose of presenting to each of them a leather medal. A toy train set might work more efficiently than some of the trains that they sent out for service during their period of office. It is ludicrous, in view of what has been said regarding these people, that a substantial sum of money equivalent to £1,000 or £2,000 should be paid to them by a Parliament that has for a long period condemned their management of transport. If we want to keep the principle in the Bill, let the compensation we fix be a compensation that will show very clearly and very properly the appreciation we have of the services they have rendered to the community.
Mr. M.J. O'Higgins: I want to confess that I have not at the moment any clear view on this section at all. I appreciate the arguments made by Deputy Larkin, Deputy Sweetman and the other Deputies who spoke in opposition to this section. I thought that on one of the few occasions on which we do agree, Deputy Cowan was going to make a proposition which was running through my mind. He rather drifted from it, I think, at the end, but the principle of which he spoke was what occurred to me when some of the other speakers were speaking in opposition to the section. I think, rightly or wrongly, and in my own opinion rightly, that a precedent has been established where, when people lose positions of profit as distinct from positions of trust or honorary positions, by reason of reorganisation carried out through legislation in this House, it has been customary to compensate them for their probable losses or for their estimated losses. Consequently, I feel, even though there may be justification—and I think the Milne Report shows that  there is—for the complaints made by the Minister and by other Deputies on the Government Benches in the past and by the Deputies here this evening that a precedent has been established. Sir James Milne, on page 25 of his report, refers to the conduct of board meetings and the lack of supervision and of a co-ordinated transport plan and I think he attributes a great deal of the ills of the transport system here to that. I believe, however, that the precedent is correct and that some measure of compensation should be paid to people who lose or may lose positions of profit because of this Bill. We have no way of estimating what their losses may be until the Minister gives us the figures which Deputy Davin asked for earlier this evening. I think it is very necessary that we should know what would be the total of the fees contemplated in subsections (a) and (b) of Section 59. Although I have criticised Córas Iompair Éireann, the Córas Iompair Éireann Board and their general handling of the transport undertaking of this country and although I will still criticise them, I feel it would be fair to allow some measure of compensation. I cannot pass judgment on the section without knowing the figures which Deputy Davin requested. I would like to know them and I would like to know whether the Minister would be prepared, if we thought those figures excessive, to reduce the amount and give some fair compensation, compensation which would be adequate in the opinion of the majority of Deputies in this House.
I should like to call the attention of the speakers who have gone before me to the fact that this section contemplates compensation not only to the Córas Iompair Éireann Board, which is one of the dissolved undertakings, but also to the board of the Grand Canal Company. I do not know whether Deputies Larkin and Lehane feel that there is any grievance against those directors. I do not even know who they are.
Another point which should be considered by Deputies is whether or not the impact of political events from 1943-44 onwards may not have been to a great extent responsible for the type  of management which is complained of, whether or not it was the political policy of the Government then administering the affairs of the country that the administration of Córas Iompair Éireann should have been carried on in the particular way it was carried on and which was adversely commented upon by Sir James Milne. If Deputies feel that that, in fact, was the position, that it was the wish of the Government then administering affairs that the board should act as they did, then I think it would be unfair to blame the individual directors and any blame to be apportioned must be borne by the Deputies sitting opposite. These are some matters which I think should be taken into consideration.
We all appreciate the reasons why a number of Deputies on these benches feel that this section should be deleted in its entirety. First of all the Minister should intervene and give us the facts and the figures. Secondly, some fair measure of compensation should be arrived at and if the figures supplied by the Minister are too large in the estimation of the Deputies of the House, there should be some machinery to enable them to be reduced. Conversely, if it should be the case that we believe the figures too small, perhaps there should be some machinery to enable the House to increase them. At any rate, we should get this information and I appeal to the Minister to give it to us at this stage.
Mr. Morrissey: Of course I have no knowledge of that. I must confess to the House that this particular section gave me more worry and concern than any other section in the Bill, but I felt that the precedent had been established for me in previous legislation and that there was a principle of compensation for loss of office. It is true, I think, to say and only fair to say that those people were elected, legitimately elected, and that they were elected as directors of a private company.  As the Oireachtas is now engaged in winding up that private company and in taking it over as a State concern, we have, therefore, set out in this Bill in the various sections compensation for everybody who will be adversely affected as a result of the transfer. I think it is only fair to say that compensation in respect to any employee of this company does not depend on how they performed or did not perform the duties which were allotted to them and which they were paid to carry out. These were some of the reasons which weighed with me. The other factor in it—it has been mentioned by Deputy O'Higgins—was that there was more than the board of Córas Iompair Éireann to be considered. There was the board of directors of the canal company.
Mr. Morrissey: One, I think. I take it that, since no Deputy who has spoken so far, has made any adverse comment on the provision which it is proposed to make for the directors of the canal company, they have no objection there. I confess that it worried me that I could not make a case for compensation for those directors of Córas Iompair Éireann on the work which they performed as directors. I am not even going to attempt to do it because it would be utterly impossible for me. Frankly, they had very few duties left to them to perform. In so far as they had duties to perform, there is no evidence to show that they performed them very effectively or very intelligently in so far as they performed them at all.
Mr. Morrissey: I do not want to go into that. I have been asked for figures. I will take the directors of Córas Iompair Éireann first. The deputy-chairman had fees of £1,500 a year which means that, under the section of the Bill as it stands, he would be entitled to compensation of £3,000. It is only right that I should say this,  that I do not know how he, or anybody else, could become deputy-chairman of Córas Iompair Éireann except for the purpose of justifying a fee of £1,500——
Mr. Morrissey: ——because there is no such post as deputy-chairman in the 1944 Act. Not only that, but it is laid down in that Act that no meeting of the board could be held in the absence of the Chairman, although I do know that meetings were held in the absence of the chairman and were presided over by the deputy-chairman. How that board came to create the position of deputy-chairman is more than I know because, as I say, no such position is mentioned in the Act under which the board was elected. It is laid down specifically in the Act that no meeting of the board could be held in the absence of the chairman. Therefore, you did not want a deputy-chairman. However, the fees were £1,500. There were four other directors, and their fees were £900 each per year. These were the fees for Córas Iompair Éireann.
Mr. Morrissey: With regard to the Grand Canal Company, the chairman had somewhere about £550, the deputy-chairman approximately £340, and the three remaining directors £275 each. The totals, in one case, are £5,000 odd, and in the other £1,715. I felt myself more or less coerced into putting this section into the Bill. It is hard to make a case for it except on the general principle that we are providing compensation for loss of office for all other classes, and that a similar provision was made in previous legislation. We cannot even apply a test as to how they performed their duties because we are not applying it to anybody else. Whatever about the directors of Córas Iompair Éireann, I do think there is a good case for the directors of the Grand Canal Company. However, in accordance with the line which I have taken since the Committee Stage of the Bill started, I am inclined to leave this to the House. I would like to hear expressions of opinion from all sides of the House on  it and let the House determine it. I felt that I should do that. The principle is there. It is a matter for the House to decide. If there is a question of any contest or vote on it, I am prepared to leave it entirely to a free vote of the House as far as I am concerned.
Mr. Lemass: You will hear a bit now. I do not care what the Minister does. I am concerned at the attack which has been made on those gentlemen, because it is unfair, and no one knows that better than those who made it. I have no interest in it. In case there might be a misunderstanding in the minds of Deputies, let me explain that, when we talk about the directors, they were elected by the stockholders to represent the stockholders' interests. They were not appointed by the Government or the Dáil to carry out any public policy.
Mr. Lemass: We will see what they did. They were elected by the stockholders to represent the stockholders' interests; they were paid what the stockholders decided to pay them and nobody was concerned either with their election or remuneration except the common stockholders whose representatives they were. In case anyone thinks there is any political consideration in  it, let me remind Deputies of the names of those individuals: Mr. W.E. Wylie, K.C.; Mr. J.F. Costello; Mr. C.D. Hewat; Mr. John McCann, not to be confused with Deputy McCann; he is the Chairman of the Grand Canal Company; and Mr. H.B. Pollock. We are told that these gentlemen as stockholders' directors are responsible for the maladministration of Córas Iompair Éireann. There was no maladministration of Córas Iompair Éireann.
Mr. Lemass: They were effective directors of the concern. Up to the date on which I ceased to have any connection with it, I am not aware that the Chairman of Córas Iompair Éireann on a single occasion used his power to override their decision, to veto their opinion upon any question of policy. They participated in the direction of the concern and were responsible for its success up to the end of 1947. But, at the end of 1947, the present Minister came into office and from then Córas Iompair Éireann has lost money. It lost money in 1948 because the Minister for Industry and Commerce, exercising his functions under the Act, refused to give them the right to increase fares to meet the cost of increased wages, refused to allow them to effect any economy whatever, refused to allow them to proceed with any development plan, refused to allow them to effect any change in the organisation of the company during the whole of that year.
Mr. Lemass: In 1947, the railways stopped for three months because there was no coal and the buses stopped for three months owing to a strike. There was given in that year an increase in wages which cost more in that year than the total loss recorded at the end of the year.
Mr. Lemass: What happened in 1947 was not due to bad administration. It was due to these abnormal factors. What happened in 1948 was not due to bad administration. It was due to the deliberate actions of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, whatever his justification for them. At the end of that year the company showed a loss of £1,250,000. That was the consequence of the administration of the Minister for Industry and Commerce and for that consequence a scapegoat had to be found. The scapegoat was the former chairman and there was directed against the former chairman of Córas Iompair Éireann a campaign of personal abuse unprecedented in this or any other country on the part of public representatives against a person holding an office of that kind. At the end of that campaign of abuse he was removed and a new chairman appointed by this Government came into office and, working with these directors, produced a bigger loss in 1949, and because, through the administration of the Minister for Industry and Commerce under the chairman appointed by him, there was still that bigger loss in 1949, a new scapegoat has to be found and that new scapegoat has been found in the form of the stockholders' directors. That is what is going on here. Every Deputy opposite knows that that is what is going on. They are trying to cover up the results of the activities of the Minister for Industry and Commerce by putting the blame on those who were the victims of his administration,  who were held there bound hand and foot by his action.
Mr. Lemass: That is the issue you have to decide. Having decided to make these people scapegoats for the consequences of the policy of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, are they now going to be made to suffer the fate of scapegoats, the fate of the former chairman to which I hope to refer later in the course of these discussions? You can do it if you like; you have the power and the responsibility. We have heard suggestions from the Minister for Industry and Commerce that the Great Northern Railway may be brought into this system. The Great Northern is just as “broke” as Córas Iompair Éireann. There has been no campaign against its directors and, presumably, those who are opposing compensation to the directors of Córas Iompair Éireann will oppose equally strongly compensation to the directors of the Great Northern, and that is going to increase their enthusiasm for the idea of amalgamation with Córas Iompair Éireann.
Mr. Lemass: There are some of them whom I never met, but from what I know of them they are all people of considerable business experience and high personal competence. It may be that the circumstances they were confronted with would have proved difficult for them to cope with in any event, but I say that the circumstances  created for them by the policy of the Minister for Industry and Commerce made it impossible for them to produce any other result than a financial loss during 1948 and 1949 while that policy was in force. We all know the personal animosity that animated Deputy Sweetman's speech. The little personal feud which has been going on between him and one of the directors is a matter of public gossip. It is easy for him to get his revenge for some remarks made about him by one of these directors.
Mr. Lemass: There are considerations not merely of personal spite to be brought into this argument, but considerations of policy, and these considerations of policy are far more important than the personalities of the directors of Córas Iompair Éireann, far more important than the desire of the Minister for Industry and Commerce and his supporters in this House to find some scapegoat for the results of their administration.
Mr. Lemass: Did not Deputy Davin say here that because of their administration we had to vote £4,000,000 to meet losses in the past year? It is not true, of course. They did not lose £4,000,000 last year, but Deputy Davin said that and that was the case made by others. I do not care whether you give them any compensation or how much. It is true that in the 1944 Act,  when we abolished the Great Southern Railways and the Dublin United Tramways Company and created Córas Iompair Éireann out of the amalgamation of these two undertakings, provision was made for compensation for such of the directors of these concerns as were not elected by the common stockholders to be directors of the new company. There were some who qualified for compensation under that provision. It was, I think, a reasonable provision to make and I justify it on the ground of reasonableness and also on the ground that it was perhaps desirable to encourage some of the directors of these concerns to retire. We are dealing here with people who are in no sense our nominees, in no sense responsible to us for their administration. But, so far as they had responsibilities to anybody, presumably they discharged them to the satisfaction of the people concerned, because they were re-elected when they offered themsellves for re-election.
Mr. Lemass: There would be no compensation. It is, therefore, a questionable matter whether this is the correct method of determining the compensation to be paid in such cases. But I could perhaps justify a case on logical grounds against the payment of compensation except in so far as some of these individuals have unexpired periods of office to which they were elected. So far as we know the meeting of stockholders in this year might have decided on their own initiative to terminate the appointment of these directors of the concern whose term of office was over.
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