Wednesday, 25 July 1956
Dáil Éireann Debate
That a supplementary sum not exceeding £1,000,000 be granted to  defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1957, for certain Transport Services; for Grants for Harbours; for the Salaries and Expenses of the Marine Service (Merchant Shipping Acts, 1894 to 1952, and the Foreshore Act, 1933 (No. 12 of 1933); for certain Protective Equipment for Ships; for certain payments in respect of Compensation, including the cost of medical treatment (No. 19 of 1946); and for the Coast Life Saving Service.
The House will recall that provision was made in the Transport Act, 1955, to increase the long-term borrowing powers of C.I.E. to enable them to finance for the next few years capital expenditure on the dieselisation and reorganisation programme approved by the former Government in July, 1953, at an estimated cost of over £10,500,000. Delivery of substantial orders for diesel locomotives and other equipment placed under the programme is now being made and it is necessary that C.I.E. should have the necessary capital moneys available to meet contractual commitments. Conditions in recent months have not been propitious for a stock issue, nor is the summer period the best time for a capital flotation. In these circumstances, it is proposed that C.I.E. should postpone the stock issue until such time as the conditions are more favourable. On present prospects, it would seem that a stock issue is unlikely during the current financial year. Such an issue could obviously not take place while transport policy was under review.
It is proposed, therefore, to provide for an advance of £1,000,000 for C.I.E. under this Supplementary Estimate. This sum, together with anticipated revenue earnings during the summer period, will be sufficient to finance such payments as must be met on foot of the capital programme and necessary renewals and replacements over the next four months or so. The advance  will be repayable eventually out of the proceeds of a stock issue. This Supplementary Estimate is, therefore, an interim measure to ensure that there will be no breakdown in the public transport system through the inability of C.I.E. to meet their obligations.
In my reply to the debate on the Estimates in June, I referred to the deterioration in working results experienced by C.I.E. for the year ended 31st March, 1956. With their high employment content and heavy fuel charges, railways are particularly vulnerable to increasing costs. C.I.E. are under a statutory obligation to balance their budget. There is, however, a point beyond which transport charges cannot go without incurring a loss of traffic, largely negativing the results of increased charges. It looks as if this point may have been reached. As the House knows, there has been a phenomenal expansion of privately-owned road transport in recent years. This increased competition, taken in conjunction with the increases in the costs of railway operation, has all contributed towards the unfortunate reversal in the progress of C.I.E. towards solvency. It has been suggested to me that some large concerns are at present considering the economics of providing their own transport. Such a development would be unfortunate just at a time when new dieselisation equipment is being delivered and when the whole transport position is about to be examined by the committee to which I will refer later. I would urge these undertakings to stay their hand, for the time being.
I mentioned in my reply to the debate on the Estimates that I had received a detailed memorandum from the chairman of C.I.E. on the present position of the undertaking. I said that it was a grim report. It is particularly grim in its conclusion that due to the expansion of privately-owned transport, there is little or no possibility of putting the railways on a self-supporting basis and that only Government action can prevent a collapse of public transport.
Some may not accept this conclusion and may still be of the view that, with  reorganisation and modernisation, C.I.E. can be put on a paying footing. This was the attitude of the previous Government and, until recent developments, of the present Government as well. When the proposals for dieselisation and modernisation were drawn up by C.I.E. in 1953, it was estimated that the undertaking would be in a position to pay its way on completion of the programme. These estimates were prepared on the basis that improved services, following dieselisation and modernisation, would have enabled C.I.E. to retain their existing volume of traffic and possibly to increase it.
These estimates were based on the hope that a reasonable degree of stability in costs had been reached and that further increases in charges would not be necessary while the undertaking was being rehabilitated. I understand that dieselisation, in so far as it has been implemented, has fully realised the economies which were originally claimed for it. It yet remains to be seen to what extent C.I.E. are now likely to fall short of paying their way in the new circumstances. If the conclusion that the C.I.E. transport undertaking cannot pay its way on the present basis is accepted, the Government are faced with one or other of three broad courses. None of these courses would be palatable to the community at large, or to the particular interests they more immediately represent. The three courses open, as I see them, are:— (i) the substantial pruning of the rail system; (ii) the subsidisation of railways by the Exchequer on a permanent basis; and (iii) the introduction of restrictions on private transport.
None of these courses could be lightly embarked upon by any Government. Issues of importance to the public interest are involved. The problem is not one for a hasty decision and I am not prepared to commit myself to any future transport policy without the fullest exploration of the problem first. As the House is aware, I have already set up a committee to carry out a rapid appraisal of the position with the following terms of reference:—
“To inquire into and review the  developments in internal transport in recent years as they affect public transport undertakings; to consider what measures are necessary, in the light of those developments, to ensure the provision of the transport requirements of the country on a basis which will best serve the public interests; and to report thereon to the Minister for Industry and Commerce on or before 1st November, 1956.”
As soon as the investigation is completed and the report available, I can assure Deputies that the Government will lose no time in considering whether any changes are necessary in transport policy. Deputies will be afforded ample opportunity of considering the position. I may say that we have been extremely fortunate in securing men of outstanding ability, and all prominent in their specialised fields, who are prepared to give of their valuable time in carrying out the investigation.
As I have said, the report of this investigation must be awaited before considering any fundamental change in the dieselisation and reorganisation programme at present in course of implementation. Meanwhile, there are unavoidable commitments to be met and the continuance of essential services must be assured. It is in these circumstances that I ask the House to approve of this Supplementary Estimate.
Mr. Aiken: The Government in regard to the C.I.E. financial position have been hopping from one foot to the other. When we in Fianna Fáil were in office, we estimated that C.I.E. would require a certain capital sum and a certain annual subsidy for a number of years, in order to put them on a paying basis. One of the expedients of this Government a year or two ago, in their efforts to present a favourable Budget to the people and to avoid the unpopularity of raising taxation, was to cut out the subsidy to C.I.E. and make them a repayable advance. The Minister said in this House, as reported at column 538, Volume 149, of the Dáil Debates of the 23rd March, 1955:—
“The reduction is due principally to a reduction in the provision for C.I.E. The board of C.I.E. estimate that as a result of the change to diesel traction and the general reorganisation programme C.I.E. will within a few years be in a position to meet from their resources revenue charges other than interest on transport stock. The prospects for complete solvency within a few further years appear to be good. Accordingly, the Government does not think it necessary that C.I.E. should continue to receive subsidy from the Exchequer to meet operating losses. The relatively small sums likely to be needed to cover losses within the next few years should be found by short-term borrowing. These borrowings will be guaranteed as necessary by the Minister for Finance under the Transport Act, 1950. Accordingly, no provision has been made in the Estimate this year for the payment of subsidy to meet operation losses. The provision that was made in the Vote for 1954-55 for this item will not be utilised.”
The excuse the Minister gave on that date for cutting out the subsidy in that year has been found to be a very thin excuse indeed. If the Government had faced up to their responsibilities then, the situation in regard to C.I.E. might have been much better and we would be nearer the time when the Dáil would not be asked for a subsidy to meet operation losses. In order to get out of an immediate difficulty, the Government cut out the subsidy which would have to be raised by taxation just as they cut out the subsidy for rural electrification and a lot of other matters of that kind.
This year the Minister dealt with the C.I.E. situation very briefly indeed in his Estimate. If a situation like this  were looming, the Minister should have known about it less than two months ago and have given the Dáil and the people of the country some indication as to its magnitude and he should have told how the Government were going to deal with it.
“Public transport concerns are particularly vulnerable to increasing costs. Recent increases in wages and in the price of coal and other materials have resulted in a disimprovement of the financial position of C.I.E. It has not been possible to recover these increased costs in full from the increase of 10 per cent. in rates and fares imposed during the year. Moreover, increased charges invariably result in marginal loss of traffic. The net loss of C.I.E., including interest on transport stock, for the year ended 31st March, 1955, was £866,535. It now seems likely that the loss for the year ended 31st March last will be of the order of twice that figure. C.I.E. are proceeding with their dieselisation and reorganisation plans and it is to be hoped that the present set back in the revenue position will prove to be a temporary swing only.”
The Minister in that speech indicated that the increased costs of wages and fuel were the cause of the difficulties of C.I.E. Surely these costs had increased before the Budget was presented to the House by the Minister for Finance. Yet, two months ago, the Minister for Finance gave us no indication that his Budget was phoney to the extent of £1,000,000 that would have to be provided for C.I.E. this year. There was not a word about this £1,000,000. The Minister for Industry and Commerce complained in the speech I have read out about increases in wages—that the increase in C.I.E. running costs was largely due to increased wages.
Mr. Aiken: Well, it is a statement the Minister has been making around the country rather frequently within the past couple of months. He has been saying that one of the causes of our difficulties, which we are to debate tomorrow, is the increase in wages. Increases in wages were demanded by C.I.E. workers and others, simply because the Government did not live up to the promises they made a couple of years ago that they would decrease the cost of living and increase the real value of wages. The Government were boasting, two years ago, that they would encourage the workers to compensate themselves for any increase in the cost of living. Now the workers see that that offer has turned to gall and wormwood and that more money means just more trouble in the immediate future if national production and consumption are not in balance. The Government are slightly changing their tune in regard to this matter, although they were boasting and encouraging people to look for these increases just a couple of years ago.
The Government are now complaining about the results of increases in wages on the balance sheet of C.I.E. and other organisations, including the Government's balance sheets. A transport committee has been set up to find out, in two months, about transport. That is just another way for the Minister to pass the buck, to avoid dealing with this situation and to avoid unpopularity by getting a few people to bear responsibility for the matter. This transport committee which the Minister is boasting about is to report on 1st November, a couple of months from now. No committee could possibly learn in a couple of months as much as is now known about C.I.E. by the Government Departments and as is known by a number of other people throughout the country. In my opinion, this setting up of the transport committee  is an avoidance of the duty imposed upon the Minister of examining closely the transport position and of making proposals to the Dáil, on his own authority and responsibility, for an improvement.
The Minister did not advert to the fact that this Supplementary Estimate completely upsets the Budget introduced a couple of months ago by the Minister for Finance. Surely to goodness, the Government, in a serious situation of this magnitude, should have been able to see at least two months before their noses. I am afraid that we have all learned to expect very little from the Government in the line of reasonable foresight. However, this is going a bit too far, even for the Coalition Government. The Minister for Finance, in his statement to-day, made no advertence to the fact that he had underestimated expenses for the coming year to the tune of £1,000,000 for C.I.E.
Mr. MacBride: Perhaps the Minister would be able to give some indication, when he is replying, as to what proportion of the £1,000,000 which is sought now is required for capital purposes and what proportion is being provided to meet the current deficits in the running of C.I.E. for the year. In capital purposes, I include naturally the dieselisation programme as forming part of the capital development of the company. It would be unwise at this stage to enter into any serious discussion as to the future of the transport system, inasmuch as we will have, by November, presumably, the report of the committee the Minister has set up. Unlike Deputy Aiken, I am glad that the Minister is taking the advice of a committee of the type he has set up, as a committee of that kind is more likely to take a broader view of the problem and its recommendations and likely to carry more weight than if it were merely a governmental decision.
Mr. MacBride: There are two or three other matters I should like to mention, more for the purpose of bringing  them to the notice of the committee which has been set up than for the purpose of getting any action taken on them immediately. As the Minister is aware, I have during the year complained on a number of occasions as to the very vast quantity of imports which were being made by C.I.E. I complained mainly on the basis that it did appear that a substantial proportion of the imports included finished goods which could have been either manufactured wholly or finished here. I know that C.I.E. said that that was not the case, but I do not know what the Minister's attitude is in regard to it. I am satisfied that in some cases at least finished goods were imported which could have been finished here.
However, I am mentioning it now from another point of view. I have a feeling, from a number of things I heard, that on occasions C.I.E. have— like, I suppose, most big concerns— ordered very substantial quantities of material that was not absolutely essential. I understand that part of the programme of renovation of C.I.E. includes some 3,000 new wagons. Do we really need 3,000 new wagons? If we do need them, is it necessary to import 3,000 new wagons? Could not some of those lost wagons on the various sidings of C.I.E. have been renovated and put into use again? I am not an expert, but I should have thought that a railway wagon included many components whose life was practically unending—wheels, axles, and a lot of heavy material. I understand that the practice is to sell those as scrap rather than to re-utilise them. I mention that so that this matter may be borne in mind.
In regard to the work which the new committee is undertaking, I wonder would the Minister ask the committee to take into account also the position of the canals. The canals have, to a large extent, been brushed aside, if I may say so, by C.I.E. since it took over. I notice that in some instances the canal agents in different provincial centres have been instructed by the company not to canvass for traffic for the canal. Water transport remains one of the cheapest forms, and it would be well if the committee could take  into account the position of the canals in making a review of the whole transport position.
From the broader point of view, I have felt, and felt at the time, too, that we paid insufficient attention to the proposals contained in the Milne Report, particularly the proposals for joining road, permanent way and canal authority and placing the permanent way, the canals and the roads on one footing. I should like to suggest that copies of the Milne Report and these proposals should be furnished to the committee and that it might with advantage have a look at the proposals. After all, the Milne Commission was set up, I think, in 1948 or 1949, largely to deal with many of the problems with which this committee will have to deal. It would be useful, possibly, if this committee had a look at this report and was in a position to express its views as to its broad outlines.
Mr. Derrig: I think we have ground for complaint that an Estimate of this magnitude is introduced a day before the Dáil proposes to adjourn, since no previous notice had been given. As recently as the discussion on the Industry and Commerce Vote, no indication was given by the Minister that such a large sum of money would be needed.
Apparently, Deputy MacBride has more confidence in a committee or commission being set up to deal with this problem than with the Government and the Minister who, I am sure, is closely in touch with the matter. It would be extraordinary if the Minister for Industry and Commerce was not thoroughly au fait with all the problems.
I suppose it is 30 years since we had legislation dealing with the railways in this House. I remember Deputy McGilligan, now Attorney-General, telling us as Minister for Industry and Commerce some time in the 1930's how the situation of the railways had deteriorated even as far back as then,  before they had such a formidable competitor as the road transport vehicles that we now have in such huge numbers on our roads. The present Government, when they were in office earlier, set up the Milne Commission, which made recommendations regarding our public transport system, from the point of view of trying to save the railways and preserve the employment they gave.
They made a recommendation that there should be a fundamental reconsideration of the problem of our highways, and of the burdens that the railway companies have to carry in maintaining the permanent way and maintaining heavy staffs, as compared with the facilities which the public authorities give to motor transport in the provision of modern roads and heavy capital expenditure year after year. That, I think, was the main recommendation of the commission. There were other substantial adjustments recommended in order to secure better administration, more economy and more efficiency.
I should like to know whether the Minister is satisfied that the board has carried out all these suggestions. He has stated that he has had a memorandum which he described as being of a grim character and, judging by the references in the Press to the condition of C.I.E. and the fact that the chairman or some other member of the board mentioned that a figure of, I think, £50,000,000 had been invested in motor transport in this small State, the outlook, as he indicated, was very pessimistic. He suggested that it was lacking in any prospect of getting the railways back to the period of comparative prosperity they had before we had this tremendous increase in motor transport.
The Minister has told us that there are three alternatives—I do not know whether the present Supplementary Estimate may be taken as coming under the head of one of them—that would not commend themselves to the public. If we have to wait for the public to express itself on this or on any other serious situation affecting a body like C.I.E., which is of such importance to our economy, it is really  passing the buck. It is simply evading the responsibility that the Minister and the Government should have. The House has a right to know what steps have been taken to try to secure better results in the running of the concern, what steps have been taken to improve the management, to try to reduce operating costs, and what measures have been taken to try to secure traffic. One would have preferred if, during the winter period when arrangements are being made for the summer season and for the tourist traffic, all arrangements would be made and that the financial provisions for the following season should be clearly envisaged.
Those who have had experience of travelling in the diesel trains have expressed great satisfaction with their comfort, celerity and convenience. The only pity is that from prominent persons, as for example, members of this House, C.I.E. does not get the support that it should get. According to a report in the English Press, a gentleman had the temerity, when going to report on the strike in England, to travel in a Volkswagen to the Standard Works. He was very lucky to have escaped. That is as incongruous as the action of those who are interested in C.I.E., who remember the national spirit shown by railwaymen in the past when they downed tools and refused to carry British soldiers and their arms in the Black and Tan days, and the excellent national spirit they displayed always. We know that railwaymen had been always among the lowest paid workers. Probably that was due to the circumstance that, in the first instance, railways were not as suitable for this country, which had no large centres of population, no large industries or heavy traffic, as they were for even smaller but highly industrialised and more intensively populated countries, as, for instance, Belgium.
With the development of motor transport, I am afraid that, unless very serious efforts are made by the board to recapture traffic, in areas like those west of the Shannon, commercial vehicles will get, not merely the major  portion of the business, but the whole of it.
The Minister for Finance warned us in his Budget statement that we would not know until September what the position would be regarding the G.N.R. That will be the end of the financial year. With regard to the £1,000,000 which the Minister is now seeking to cover deficiencies in the present year, we would all like to know what proportion of that is to go towards capital equipment, what is the actual position regarding the capital equipment programme, to what extent has it been possible to carry into operation the programme to which the Minister referred in this House and which was initiated by his predecessor. Is it through by 50 per cent. or 75 per cent. or how does it stand, and what proportion of this £1,000,000 can be fairly described as going to meet the commitments on the dieselisation programme and what proportion towards trying to cover losses, until, as we hope, better times may come for C.I.E.?
Mr. A. Barry: C.I.E. are now providing a first-class service. All passengers admire the extraordinary advances that have been made in the past five or six years. Foreigners, particularly, whom I meet on the trains, compliment and congratulate us on the kind of railways we run. It is a matter of great regret that, with that obvious improvement to all of us, the financial situation is still unhappy and is becoming even more gloomy. I think it will require compulsion to put traffic on to the railway and the Minister will have to face that eventually. In that kind of traffic, I would include T.D.s. I have said ten times in this House, and I repeat, that T.D.s should be compelled to travel by the national railway service.
The commission which the Minister has set up has been extremely well chosen. He has drawn on very unusual sections. They are people who are very large goods users of the railways, who are vitally interested in the maintenance of the railways and in getting good value from the railways, and who will bring a fresher mind to the  problem than would be the case if the Minister had set up a completely technical kind of commission. I do hope that the commission will report quickly and that they will be efficient, but the Minister must tell this commission that we have to keep this railway, that we have to get more traffic off the roads and on to the railway and must get more goods and more people and, I repeat, more T.D.s. They do not count so much, but it is very bad example if Deputies do not use this service.
Mr. McQuillan: I understand from the Minister's statement and from reports elsewhere that the Minister has set up a commission to inquire into the set-up of C.I.E. In my opinion, that is long overdue. The only feature of it that makes me rather doubtful about the whole business is that in recent years we have had a habit of dealing with thorny problems by setting up commissions and, very often, when the report of a commission is published, it is filed and the dust of years is allowed to accumulate on it. Very often, the setting up of a commission gives an opportunity to any Government to shelve a particularly delicate problem. I only hope that when the Minister set up this commission, there was no such ulterior motive in his or the Government's mind.
There is very little I wish to say at this stage on the whole problem of C.I.E. We could go on talking about it here for the next three or four hours. I agree with Deputy Barry that the service given to passengers at the moment in the diesel trains is comfortable, luxurious, speedy and punctual. I have nothing to say against C.I.E. in that regard, but that is only one aspect of their work.
I am afraid that the manner in which C.I.E. conduct road freight and road traffic requires investigation. If the Minister can give this commission any direction, he should direct them to have a look at the set-up in C.I.E. headquarters. If you want to get at any particular trouble, you must go to the root of the matter; and I believe the first place that should be made the subject of closest investigation is the  headquarters, including the present board, of C.I.E.
Mr. McQuillan: ——in a Volkswagen at a time of crisis like this, taking note of what was happening. It is quite possible that a number of people closely associated with the strike in Britain—people such as the workers in factories—are also the owners of motor cars and that they drive up to take part in the strike in their own cars.
I want to say this to the Minister: C.I.E. are looking for £1,000,000 here, and this House to-day listened to a long list of restrictions imposed on commodities in general, in view of the very serious crisis facing the country. The members of the House have to tighten their belts; other members of the community have to tighten their belts; but the head men in C.I.E. do not have to tighten their belts. Only very recently a new Mercedes car, at a cost of £2,000, was given to the chairman of C.I.E. as a replacement for his previous car. That is only one example of what is taking place.
Apart from that, I would like this commission to have a look at the work these higher officials are supposed to be doing, and to have a look at the number of officials who, in order to cushion themselves and to justify their own existence, have set up more positions. From inquiries I made, I discovered that recently, as a result of an outsider being appointed as traffic manager, a number of new appointments was made within a short space of time. I should like the Minister to have this commission inquire into whether it is absolutely essential to have all these high officials directing the activities of C.I.E.
To help this traffic manager, we now have an assistant operating superintendent. Along with him, we have a commercial superintendent and we have  an assistant commercial superintendent; we have an omnibus manager and we have an assistant omnibus manager; we have a road freight manager and we have an assistant road freight manager. We have an assistant indoor road freight manager and an assistant outdoor road freight manager. While that has been going on, one of the key men at the top in one of those groups has spent the greater part of his time for the past two or three years sitting on interview boards checking on the qualifications of youngsters coming up from the country to sit for examinations, and in many cases these appointments have already been promised to friends, relations or other people already in the employment of C.I.E.
I am asking the Minister to get the commission to inquire into this. It is too bad if the axe does not apply equally to those people in the cushioned protected jobs, especially when a number of the workers in C.I.E. are to be laid off. If the Minister tells us that C.I.E. have reduced the number of their employees, where do we find the reductions to have taken place? Is it at the headquarters? At is down the country—it is the men at the end of the line. They are the people being let off while the people in the cushioned jobs are the last to go. It will take a very strong Minister or a very expert commission to make the necessary recommendations—recommendations that this House can back up—to see that these people are removed.
The Minister has pointed out here— I only partly heard him—that there was a danger of some big concerns going into road transport. They are not going into it; they are already in it. We have one of the biggest semi-State companies at present in direct competition with C.I.E. I am referring to the sugar company—a company run by one who, in his own mind, is the future saviour of this country. If the Minister requires evidence of that, he has only to go to Arigna in the West of Ireland. The sugar company are taking their coal from Arigna up to the Tuam factory. They have been doing that for the past couple of years. The coal was originally taken by the narrow gauge railway, first of all, and  from there to Tuam. The sugar company decided that they would put eight-ton or nine-ton lorries on the road, with big trailers attached, and take the coal direct from Arigna themselves. Is that not a nice example for one State company to be setting for another? The Minister for Industry and Commerce is responsible to the House for both companies, but it looks to me as if his right hand does not know what his left hand is doing, because here we have two State companies in direct competition with each other.
A bigger difficulty I see is the outrageous cost of the upkeep of roads. We have these very heavy vehicles— between trailer and all up to 16 or 18 tons—passing over secondary and third-class roads, for the upkeep of which the local authorities are responsible. To repair these roads means more money from the rates and more money from the Department of Local Government. I will reserve much of my material in connection with C.I.E. until we hear the report of this commission, but as I see it at present, C.I.E. is a monument to inefficiency.
Mr. MacCarthy: I think we must start on the basis that the railways are an essential national transport service and must be preserved at all costs. From the very outset, I contended in this House that the bus services and the C.I.E. lorries should be supplementary rather than competitive services. I still hold the same view. Many of these services are running on parallel routes to the trains. The whole transport system of the country should be a single unit with each part fitting into place. Had that been done, we should not now have half the redundancy there appears to be in our transport services. Had that been done, redundant employees could have been transferred from the railway service to comparable employment in the road services. Again, there was no real necessity in most cases to have separate offices for these employees. Existing railway buildings could have been used. The fact is that people were priced out of the railways by rising costs. I remember in my young days loads of merchandise arriving at the  local stations. The gates closed at half-past six and those who were not lucky enough to have their merchandise accepted that day had to take it back again to their own premises and join the queue again the following day. That could have been avoided by employing more staff or paying a little overtime to existing staff; but that was not done.
What did these disappointed potential railway users do? They decided to provide their own transport service. They decided to put their own lorries on the road. I am reminded in this connection of what Deputy Barry said a moment ago about Deputies and motor cars. When I represented a city constituency, I did not use a motor car. A Deputy representing a rural constituency must give service to his constituents. It was for that purpose they elected him. He has no other means of transport in order to reach scattered areas other than his motor car. Remember, he must meet his constituents and discuss their problems with them. He may have to do that at an hour when their business is over and their day's work is done. If he has a car, he can use it to suit his own convenience and the convenience of his constituents.
Here in the City of Dublin, if a Deputy has to call to Coláiste Caoimhin in connection with the affairs of an Old I.R.A. man and has to depend on buses to get him there, he will be all day going out and coming back again. If he has his own car, he can call at the Department of Local Government on the way to seek information about roads, houses, or grants of one kind or another. He can go on then and do any other work he has to do with other Departments. He can visit the Forestry Branch of the Department of Lands.
Mr. MacCarthy: The reorganisation of our transport service is crying out for immediate attention. The problem is a big one. It will not be easy to turn people from the system to which they have become accustomed. That will not be done in a month or two months, a year or two years. In my young days, the ordinary working man could take his family to the seaside for an evening at a reasonable cost. Now the same outing will cost him the greater part of his week's wages. It will cost him that to take his family from Cork to Youghal, or elsewhere. The railways are killing the system by ever-increasing costs. They are driving the people into cheaper and more convenient ways of travelling. Heavy charges are now falling on the taxpayers because of the inefficiency and the lack of foresight of the railways over the years. The railways failed to appreciate the trend of events and to make provision to meet that trend; all they did was to increase charges to try to recover losses on their own inefficient service. They failed to see that, because people were leaving them, there must be something wrong. They failed to appreciate that they were losing merchandise.
The question now is what will we do to improve matters and give the people the services they require? Why has all this costly equipment been bought? Perhaps, as Deputy McQuillan said, it is futile to be discussing these matters at this juncture. Let us wait for the report of those who are examining it and see what suggestions they have to make. The railways are so vital from the point of view of the employment provided that we should co-operate to the fullest extent to ensure that there is a proper system of operation and a proper policy.
Deputy MacBride has said that it appears to him that there are carriages and wagons lying idle on railway sidings which could be put into good condition. We have excellent, skilled men here who do a good job when they are asked to do it. It would be infinitely better to recondition this  stock than to import new stock. C.I.E., which cannot balance its own finances and which is upsetting the national economy from that point of view, should not indulge in huge importations of rolling stock when existing stock could be reconditioned, with benefit to the balance of payments and the unemployment situations.
Then there is the question of excursions during the summer months. The ordinary man who cannot afford a car is anxious to get on the railways, or the buses, with his family, but it is beyond his means to do so. Just for one afternoon trip, he will have to pay practically a whole week's wages, if he has a substantial family to take with him. That was not the position. As far as the railway excursions were concerned, the idea was to attract the people and provide the services they needed. They should have more frequent services, perhaps with smaller vehicles. They could perhaps have diesel trains of the size suited to the business available rather than run large, heavy trains, half empty. Whether the train is empty or full, it is going to run on schedule and the cost is mounting up all the time. They must remodel the whole system in great measure if they are to do what they ought to do to meet the needs of the travelling public.
Mr. Dunne: I think the Minister deserves the sympathy of this House because of the initial fact that the C.I.E. problem is one of the Fianna Fáil death duties which he had to undertake when he took office as Minister. He is to be complimented on the manner in which he has discharged the very onerous task of trying to keep this concern in operation. Deputy McQuillan mentioned that some semi-State or State bodies were in the process of changing over from the use of C.I.E. transport to their own transport. The commission which has been set up might very well give some thought to the situation which exists, and has existed, whereby our semi-State and State bodies are being protected by statute in their activities, so far as the running of these concerns  has operated over the last number of years.
It has been advanced, and will be advanced, that in organisations such as C.I.E., there must be boards which are autonomous and which can operate in such a fashion as will bring them as near as possible to economic self-sufficiency. There has been a tendency to push that theory a little too far. In C.I.E. it has become evident that certain sections of the transport system are paying and paying very well—principally the bus services in the City and County of Dublin. The losses occur on the railways throughout the country and very largely it could be said that the losses are due to the fact that branch lines have to be maintained to service rural areas and towns for the transport of goods to facilitate merchants and farmers. But we have a very anomalous and unfair position due, not to any fault of the Minister but to the fact that the board has been pursuing the policy, as, by statute, it is entitled to do, that the workers and housewives in this city have been paying increased fares and have been, in effect, subsidising the people living in the provinces who are far better able to pay transport charges than they are. Builders' labourers, labourers of all kinds and tradesmen, living, for instance, in Ballyfermot, on £6 or £7 a week, have to pay a transport bill of £1 or more, as well as very high rents, in order to go to work and in order that their womenfolk may go into the shopping centres and their children to school.
In the country we are making every effort to make it easy for the people who have benefited most by the progressive agricultural policy of this country, both during the last couple of years and in the first period of inter-Party Government. The people who benefited most were the farmers and merchants in the small market towns to whom prosperity overflowed from the agricultural community. It is wrong that we should be providing not a cheap service, but a cheaper service than there would necessarily be, if this subsidy from the city were not available. I am quite sure that the Minister will place this point, and all the other points which will be raised,  before the Commission which has been appointed—that no law of equity can be cited to support the case that the people who were hardest hit in so far as prices are concerned in this city and county and who are paying higher bus fares, should be asked to subsidise the rural and provincial areas. If profit is being made, as it is, that profit should be so utilised as to reduce bus fares, and particularly the fares of the workers who have to travel long distances, from new housing schemes in places like Finglas and Crumlin and other areas.
The introduction of this Estimate does show that we are heading for a very difficult situation and one which is completely unenviable for the Minister. Like Deputy MacCarthy, I deprecate the remarks of Deputy Barry in regard to the T.D.s. I think it is silly to suggest that T.D.s, by using the railways, could make any impression on the situation. I do not think we have arrived at the position in this country where the example of T.D.s can be said to be taken by very large numbers of people. I think, with Deputy MacCarthy, that any T.D. who goes about doing his business properly, whether he represents a city or county constituency, must be mobile in order to get where he wants quickly and, very often, to get out of where he is quickly. The contribution in regard to T.D.s is one which will not find very much support.
Mr. Finlay: I fully appreciate what the Minister says in regard to its being premature to expect major changes in the transport policy, until such time as the commission has reported. I think it is quite correct to say that the constitution of that commission lends hope of its being efficient, speedy and reliable. I would appeal to the Minister to consider, very strongly, the problem of transport in the City of Dublin as an entirely separate problem from the rest of the C.I.E. problems. Normally speaking, when people are discussing these problems, they classify them under three headings—the railways, road freight and road passenger services. I very strongly appeal to the Minister, when  he is considering this as a general problem, to add a fourth, that is, one single item which has to be dealt with, and I think probably has to be changed, transport in Dublin City itself.
I think it was Deputy Rooney who, on the Minister's Estimate, recently suggested that some thought should be given to the possibility of seatless buses. I do not know what technical or other objections to that there may be or what advantages there may be. To the layman, the ordinary advantages are obvious. All sorts of ideas occur to one in regard to the situation: chartered buses from a transport authority by factories, school buses, and so on. However, what is to be done must be done by treating this, not as part of a large organisation, not as a reorganisation applicable to the country as well as to the city and not as a reorganisation applicable to other large towns or cities but as a special problem which arises in Dublin City and which must be treated separately for the City of Dublin.
There must be considerable attraction in the idea that if to any extent the economies which arise from having all our transport in one body, as we have now, can be offset, any real drastic reorganisation of our transport machinery should involve the setting-up of a separate transport authority for Dublin City. There are obvious advantages and temptations in the idea of setting up a municipal transport authority in Dublin. Outside this country, we have examples of places where the financial problems of a large city have to a very great extent been solved by setting up a municipal transport authority. That may be quite unsound, having regard to the size of Dublin and the desirability of centralisation of our transport services in one transport authority.
We are approaching the stage when the cost, frequency and routing of ordinary buses in Dublin City is a major social problem. A large number of the difficulties now arising with regard to the location and planning of housing and also with regard to the planning and building of schools in Dublin springs from transport problems. While not suggesting that this  is the stage at which we could discuss in any detail possible future changes in C.I.E. or transport in this country, I appeal to the Minister very specially to get his commission to report—and to consider their report—on the basis that transport within the City of Dublin by ordinary buses or otherwise is a completely separate problem which must be separately thought of, separately dealt with and separately cured from any other transport problem in the country.
Mr. Rooney: It is a strange fact that we have had to listen many times to another failure on the part of C.I.E. It was hoped that, given charge of their own affairs, they would make a success on this occasion of the management of their transport service. I am very much in favour of the views expressed by Deputy Finlay in relation to the possibility of having the traffic of Dublin City and County treated on a separate basis, to let the remainder of the country face up to its losses and to let us pay the losses in respect of the area where losses are sustained, instead of hiding the losses by asking travellers in Dublin City and County to subscribe more than is necessary in order to provide the service within the areas where those other passengers are carried.
I am in favour of having the possibility examined of bus services operating to rail heads, instead of having the bus running perhaps from Dublin to Cork alongside the railway line from Dublin to Cork—instead of that situation, to have only the one method of transport from one place to another. I know there will be arguments in favour of the points in rural areas which the buses can reach and which cannot be reached by the railways, but, there again, I suggest they should be in operation to the rail head, in the form of a station, instead of the situation where people in a town can choose between travelling by bus or train and  each of them going to the same destination.
I know there are technical objections and possibly also there is the experience of other countries in relation to the use of seatless buses. At rush hours, there is a large volume of city traffic to be catered for within a limited time. It refers particularly to people going to business in the mornings, trying to return at lunch hour and then back to the office again, and going home in the evening from their business. These are the rush periods which we must cater for by providing what could be regarded as a reasonably efficient and prompt service for the people desiring to avail of our public transport. With long queues of people waiting for a bus to take them to the outer districts of the city, many of the more active people are compelled to stand in long queues or stand in bad weather waiting their turn for a fairly substantial time in order to secure the necessary transport to bring them to their homes from their place of work. I feel we should try to cater for that very large volume of traffic that becomes available within a short time at the rush periods. I feel that if C.I.E. could cater for those people, they would encourage a very much larger number of people to avail of the public transport system.
Many people are compelled to use bicycles because they cannot depend on the bus services to bring them in time in the morning from the end of a queue to their work or to bring them home and back again to their work at the lunch period and home again in the evening after business hours. I feel the problem in relation to Dublin City and County which requires to be investigated is different from that in relation to other parts of the country. The very heavy losses being sustained in respect of the provincial services are a different problem and may have to be treated in a different way.
In addition to the losses being sustained, so far as passenger traffic is concerned, we must also face up to the fact that very heavy losses are being sustained by C.I.E. in the sphere of general haulage. If we examine why C.I.E. are losing heavily in the matter  of merchandise transport and general haulage, it is obvious that C.I.E. are in a different position from the general haulage contractor or private haulier, because, as it stands at the moment, if C.I.E. are requested to transport from Dublin to Cork the smallest item we can imagine that would be carried in the ordinary way and delivered to its place of destination, we can see that only C.I.E. would take, over that long distance from the place of origin to the place of destination, these trivial articles at what is certainly a remarkably low price.
C.I.E., by carrying all these trivial articles over long distances from the place of origin to the place of destination at these very reasonable charges, are, in fact, in the long run imposing a heavy burden on the taxpayer and on the general public. They certainly provide the service for the individual who desires to have the small article brought from one place to another, but is it fair to the general public and is it the kind of service which the general public demand? Would they be prepared, for instance, to shoulder the inconvenience involved in having that article delivered to the nearest railway station as it used to be?
Nowadays, when an article is consigned from one place to another, it is usually brought to its destination possibly by a road lorry from a railway station perhaps six or eight miles away. The person sending the article pays for the cost of the transport and possibly the man getting the article at the other end pays for it. In any case, it gets from door to door and it very often arrives there with a heavy loss. The delivery of several of these trivial articles involves lorries working overtime, staff working overtime and being paid double time, extra time and for night work. Several different kinds of extra charges are incurred by the necessity imposed on C.I.E. of getting the article from one place to another.
Although C.I.E. is providing a very good service in regard to the delivery of that class of article for the public in general, we will have to discontinue the operation of such uneconomic services. There is a large volume of heavy and bulky traffic which can be  handled economically by C.I.E., but I think that people interested in the delivery of the smaller articles should not be allowed to impose to such a great extent heavy losses on the merchandise haulage provided by C.I.E.
I feel they would appreciate that and would not be unreasonable if it were pointed out that it was uneconomical to carry an article from door to door instead of to a certain centre where it could be collected. In the past, those articles were collected at a centre, usually at the nearest railway station, and the person to whom an article was consigned usually got a telegram or a postcard telling him that the article concerned was due to arrive at such and such a railway station at such and such a time and could be collected. If we could cut out a lot of that kind of road haulage, losses could be cut down considerably.
In any case, there is a feeling, too, amongst the people who are obliged to avail of C.I.E. lorries in the form of general haulage that they do not get the good service they can get from the private individual who has his lorry and services available for hire. Not alone is he prepared to take the goods safely from one place to another, but he is also prepared to take a certain measure of responsibility for the safe arrival of such articles and the condition of the articles when they arrive.
There are frequent examples of firms hiring a private lorry and hiring a C.I.E. lorry to travel a distance of perhaps 100 or 150 miles. They have shown frequently that the private haulier has done a better job than the C.I.E. lorry. The C.I.E. lorry has taken longer to get the live stock, or whatever the commodity may be, to its destination. It arrived in a poor condition compared with the live stock or other commodity carried in a lorry owned by a private haulage contractor.
Personal interest in carrying the goods in the private lorry is a great advantage to the persons who are interested in the safe transport of those goods. It is difficult to suggest any remedies, but it is true that people get a cheaper and better service from the private lorry than from the C.I.E.  lorry. The personal element enters into the matter to a greater extent and the individual finds it more economic to get large quantities of goods transported by private lorry than by public transport.
I will not say that in many cases the C.I.E. charges are excessive. They are not. Very frequently, it is found that the charges imposed by C.I.E. for the transport of certain classes of goods are very reasonable. It is usually the time involved that the people depending upon the safe delivery of the goods are more concerned with.
Mr. Rooney: We should examine in relation to the population of this city the average number of passengers per mile carried by our buses to see whether this service is being economically run in that respect, because frequently we see buses passing along with a very small number of passengers and if we watch for several days in succession, we see at the same time——
Mr. Rooney: I will conclude by hoping that this commission—which has been announced by the Minister and which is expected to report back on 1st November—will examine every aspect of our public transport system, in order that some new approach can be made and that some method can be adopted which will make our transport system more economic. As the Minister himself has said, this is just one more occasion when the taxpayers are being asked in the Dáil to help on C.I.E. in the manner in which we have helped them on in the past to meet losses and are still finding it difficult to understand why, in all these years, they have not yet found a system and devised a method whereby they could provide efficient and economic services.
Mr. O'Malley: I have just returned from Kingsbridge with the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs and Deputy Carew, from an interview with the Chairman of C.I.E. I do not want to refer to anything which took place at that meeting, which was purely in regard to the redundancy which has taken place in Limerick. However, I think the Minister, in his speech here to-day, made some very extraordinary statements. In the first place, in the first paragraph, he said the purpose of the Supplementary Estimate was to provide C.I.E. with funds to enable them to meet their capital requirements up to November next. I do not know whether the Minister is aware of it or not, but this £1,000,000 will not enable C.I.E. to meet their capital requirements until next November. The position is, as the Minister is well aware, that there are dismissals taking place in Inchicore, in Limerick and in other places. If the money is there for the capital requirements of C.I.E., I respectfully submit that there is no need for these sackings.
Let me take one small instance, the wagon-building programme of C.I.E. That is a capital requirement and the money comes out of capital moneys. I admit that a very small portion of it  may be obtained from revenue but, taken on the whole, the wagon-building programme of C.I.E. is a capital expenditure and a capital requirement. If the Minister states here to-day in the House that C.I.E. are being provided with sufficient funds up to next November, what is the reason for the dismissals of these workers in Inchicore, wagon builders and the labourers attending on those wagon builders?
In reply to a question to-day, the Minister informed me that he understood that the Board of C.I.E. in recent weeks had been obliged, on grounds of redundancy, to dispense with the services of 28 of their temporary employees at Limerick. I do not know who gave the Minister that information, but certainly it was not on the grounds of redundancy: it was on the grounds of lack of finance and lack of finance only. There would not be one dismissal in Inchicore and there would not be one man sacked in Limerick, last week or the week before, or next week, if the company had sufficient moneys on hands. They have to cut their capital programme. Therefore, it is wrong and misleading, I respectfully submit, for the Minister to state that he has given them enough funds, that this £1,000,000 will enable them to meet their capital requirements up to November next.
The Minister went further than that and said that the engagement and dismissal of staff were administrative functions and as such were matters for the Board of C.I.E. He said: “Subject to this and without prejudice to the discretion which must finally remain with the board, I have made known to the board my desire that in so far as may be practicable, any reductions in staff that may be necessary from time to time should be effected from normal wastage.” They are not doing that; they are not carrying out the Minister's wish. They are unable to carry out the Minister's wish, and I have no doubt that he is sincere in the representations he has made to the board. They are unable to carry out his wishes, due to the fact that they have no money.
In his reply to me to-day, the  Minister stated that they had dismissed 28 of their temporary employees. I wonder if the Minister is aware that next Friday the dismissals in Limerick cover permanent employees; and that permanent employees are being sacked from Inchicore next Friday, employees who have given long and faithful service to C.I.E. They are being let go now; they are being refunded—I do not know if the Minister is aware of it —the money they have paid into the pensions fund. Does that look as if this is a temporary measure? Does it look as if they will be taken back in a few months' time?
I admit that there might be some justification for the release of temporary men. The men were very fair about it themselves. They understood the position. It has happened on a previous occasion that some temporary employees were let go and then taken back at another period of the year. However, here now in Inchicore and Limerick for the first time, we have the permanent staff being let go, being handed back the money that down through the years they have paid into the pension fund. It would be a different thing if the Board of C.I.E. said: “Well, we may have to let you go for three or four months, but leave the money there in the pension fund until then and we will review the position.” But this is a break and not alone that, not alone is it the intention evidently of the board reluctantly to dismiss these permanent and temporary employees and not alone have they handed them back their pension money, but they have given them passes, in the case of those men who are going to England. I wonder is the Minister aware of that?
Mr. Norton: May I point out that these administrative matters are not my function at all? They are within the jurisdiction of the Board of C.I.E. If C.I.E. give a pass to someone, I have no power at all.
Mr. O'Malley: I am relating my remarks to the introductory speech on this point by the Minister, in which he said that this £1,000,000 will enable C.I.E. to meet their capital requirements up to November next. I respectfully  submit that that is not in accordance with the facts.
Mr. Norton: The Deputy is in error in making that assertion. The position is that normally this Estimate would not come before the Dáil at all. C.I.E. has borrowing powers still unexhausted. C.I.E., however, did not go to the stock market.
Mr. Norton: For obvious reasons. C.I.E. did not go to the stock market and this is £1,000,000 to tide them over the time until they can go to the stock market. It is not a special £1,000,000 for C.I.E. It is just because they are off the stock market at the moment and it does not change the situation.
Mr. O'Malley: The point is that the Minister's own words were that this is a temporary measure or a help-out, so to speak, to tide them over until they can get back to the stock market. Does that suggest they are going back to the stock market in November next? It does not.
Mr. O'Malley: Later in the Minister's speech, he states that in the present financial year C.I.E. will not be going to the stock market. Therefore, how can the Minister suggest now that in November next they may be going to the stock market?
Mr. O'Malley: I can understand the Supplementary Estimate all right. I am only trying to get some clarification  of it. Further on in this speech, the Minister said: “It is necessary that C.I.E. should have the necessary capital moneys available to meet contractual commitments.” Of all this £1,000,000 the Minister is giving C.I.E. they will not have one shilling left, in my opinion—I may be wrong—in a week, if they meet their obligations at the present time. If they pay what they owe, they will not have a shilling left. That means that, in the first week of August, all that £1,000,000 will be gone.
Mr. O'Malley: The source is quite obvious. If the Minister or Deputy Morrissey would care to read the papers and the statements issued by members of C.I.E. and of the unions he would see very quickly where the £1,000,000 is going to.
Mr. O'Malley: I prefaced my remarks by saying I might be wrong but it was my opinion. I have no inside information and I would like to make it perfectly clear that in our discussions to-day with Mr. Courtney we did not touch on any of these matters but in regard to the matters we did discuss I believe our interview will bear a little fruit. Perhaps some other Deputies would be better occupied if they fought for their own constituencies as we did. The Minister, pointing out in his speech that the summer was not propitious for going to the country for a public issue of stock, said:
“In these circumstances it is proposed that C.I.E. should postpone the stock issue until such time as the conditions are more favourable. On present prospects, it would seem that a stock issue is unlikely during the current financial year.”
Mr. Norton: That is not necessary. I shall make another effort to explain to  the Deputy, although I do not hope to succeed. If in November next C.I.E. want £1,000,000 again and if they can borrow that £1,000,000, as they are entitled to do, without going for a public issue, it will not be necessary to give them the second £1,000,000.
Mr. O'Malley: That is very simple logic but surely the Minister will give me credit for a little intelligence. If C.I.E. do not come to the public or to the Houses of the Oireachtas for the money, from what source would they obtain it? Is it from a building society?
Mr. Norton: This is my last effort to try to penetrate the Deputy's intellectual stubbornness in this matter. A bank might offer to give it to them. An insurance company or a private banker might offer to give it to them or there might be some special circumstances such as a change in the money market. Any of these contingencies are possible and there is no need to give C.I.E. twice what they want between now and November.
Mr. O'Malley: A consummation devoutly to be wished. There are some other matters to which I would draw the Minister's attention. It is about time the Minister put his foot down in relation to semi-State bodies. It is all very well to criticise C.I.E. They may have their faults but they are not getting a fair crack of the whip from some of the semi-State bodies. Take Comhlucht Siúicre Éireann who contemplate——
An Ceann Comhairle: I was about to intervene. The Deputy knows perfectly well—and there is no use in his pretending he does not know—that the Minister has no function in regard to the administration by Comhlucht Siúicre Éireann of its affairs.
Mr. O'Malley: Is it not relevant on this Estimate? The Minister made certain remarks here about private transport and if the Minister is entitled to refer to private transport and very large concerns using their own road haulage, as he does on page 2 of his speech, surely I am entitled to refer to private transport.
An Ceann Comhairle: I have given the ruling that the Deputy's reference to Comhlucht Siúicre Éireann is not relevant. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has certain responsibilities and only certain responsibilities; other responsibilities which are not his may not be placed on him.
“To inquire into and review the developments in internal transport in recent years as they affect public transport undertakings; to consider what measures are necessary in the light of those developments to ensure the provision of the transport requirements of the country on a basis which will best serve the public interests; and to report thereon to the Minister for Industry and Commerce on or before the 1st November, 1956.”
The Minister in his speech to-day paid a tribute to the members forming this commission. We must not forget that Deputy Morrissey, when he was Minister for Industry and Commerce, set up a commission on the 1st July, 1948, under the chairmanship of Sir James Milne.
Mr. O'Malley: If Deputy Morrissey wants to cross swords with me on  technicalities, I would remind him that on the 1st July, 1948, Deputy Morrissey, the then Minister for Industry and Commerce, requested Sir James Milne to carry out, let us say, an investigation with the following terms of reference——
Is there not a little duplication between the terms of reference of this body which is now being set up by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Norton, and that of the investigation carried out by Sir James Milne? Sir James Milne's report is a very comprehensive one. He took evidence from some 40 to 50 concerns in the State directly connected with public transport, and is it not a fact that the men chosen by Sir James Milne were six experts?
The men appointed by the present Minister for Industry and Commerce are, I admit, very able men in their respective professions and businesses. However, they are not experts on transport. The men assisting Sir James  Milne included the past president of the Institute of Transport, the general accountant of the London and NorthEastern Railways, the former general manager of the British Cartage Company, the chief engineer of the northern region, the chief mechanical engineer of the southern region and assistant chief accountant of the western region. These men presented to Deputy Morrissey, then Minister for Industry and Commerce, on the 6th December, 1948, a report on their findings. Of course, they wasted their sweetness on the desert air, definitely on Deputy Morrissey.
Mr. Norton: Believing that to be so, will the Deputy tell me why Deputy Lemass appointed a completely non-expert committee in 1938? No doubt he did not have at that time the benefit of consultation with the Deputy. Perhaps the Deputy would explain that now.
Mr. O'Malley: I will not. I shall be finished in a few moments. As I was saying, Deputy Morrissey got this report from Sir James Milne at a cost of a considerable amount of money. I would not be in order in referring in detail to the recommendations in that report but I do say that the Minister, in his speech here to-day, referred to the policy of dieselisation of C.I.E. That is, as President Eisenhower said the other day, a Johnny-come-lately,  another conversion of the Minister for Industry and Commerce.
It is admitted now by the Minister that the dieselisation policy recommended by Deputy Morrissey's expert commission is saving C.I.E. £1,000,000 a year. Did it ever occur to the Minister that, if he stopped criticising Deputy Lemass as Minister and refreshed his memory on one little point, he would find out that the previous Coalition Government would not have any truck, good, bad or indifferent, with the recommendation in favour of dieselisation? In the financial year 1953-54, the losses of C.I.E. were £1,021,000. They got the losses down in the following financial year to £866,535. At that time, even though they then had to bear increases in wages amounting to £183,000, their receipts went up by £133,000 from the railways. Their profit in that year on the hotels went up by £8,000 to £26,000, and the profits in the road passenger service increased by £97,000.
All this showed that C.I.E. were on the right lines. When the Minister comes along to-day and refers to three courses which may be open to this House when this committee issues its report, he states that each of these three courses would be unpalatable. One thing is definite and that is that this country will have to face up to the situation and put a stop to this talking by certain vested interests that we should scrap the railways. The people of the country should be told that no Government have any intention of scrapping the railways. The people should be told that over 20,000 people are being employed by C.I.E., whose annual wages bill is approximately £9,000,000. The suggestion that our railways should come to an end is fantastic.
I was not allowed, of course, to develop my point that there is duplication in the services of C.I.E. The Minister referred to the company's borrowings. To-date, they have borrowed over £2,500,000, on which they have to pay £90,000 annually in interest. During the year ended March 31st, 1955, the Minister's Department communicated with the C.I.E. Board in the following terms:—
“No payments from State funds will be made towards operating losses or revenue charges of the board. Such provision as may be necessary will be made, however, for advances to meet interest payment on transport stock.”
The Department's letter stated that provision to meet the board's losses would have to be made by temporary borrowings until such time as operating losses could be eliminated by more economical working. Thus, we had the Minister for Industry and Commerce on the one hand making visits—possibly, as I said on a previous occasion, very commendable visits—to the United States——
Mr. O'Malley: ——by Pan American Airways and coming back by T.W.A. We had the Minister for Industry and Commerce seeking new industries for this country that would give employment and yet, on the other hand, we are now faced with the position that it is not 17 workers last week, 11 workers this week and 20 workers next week we will be worrying about in Limerick. Unless the Government step in now there will be wholesale sackings throughout the system of the company.
As I say, the Minister has misled and is misleading the public. I hope that when he is replying he will correct the misleading statement that all is well with C.I.E. until November. The point is that C.I.E. have not sufficient money at the present time to continue their operations, not to mind improving on their capital policy. They have not sufficient money.
Mr. O'Malley: That statement of the Minister is worthy only of contempt. However, when the Minister says I am repeating a falsehood I should like to point out that in the opening paragraph of his statement to-day the  Minister said: “The purpose of this Supplementary Estimate is to provide C.I.E. with funds to enable them to meet their capital requirements up to November next.” That is wrong.
Mr. O'Malley: Yes, Sir. Those were the points I wanted to bring to the attention of the Minister. The last matter is the question of asking the Minister to use his good offices with C.I.E. in the matter of obtaining other or analogous work for the permanent employees, at least, who have been dismissed. It is no function of the Minister, I agree, but if the Minister could do anything to see that those people who have been with C.I.E. for many years would be employed by some other State bodies, he would help the position somewhat.
Mr. Morrissey: Might I just say a few words on this matter? Deputy O'Malley apparently is concerned that there are to be wholesale dismissals because money is not being provided. I will come to deal with that, and to remind the Deputy of the time when he should have been much more concerned than he is now, and had much more reason to be concerned but apparently was not. The trouble about this matter is that Deputies, including those on my own side of the House here, talk about C.I.E. being in financial difficulties, as if C.I.E. was the only railway company in the world in financial difficulties. As a matter of fact it would be much easier to find any railway that is not in financial difficulties than otherwise.
The other point is that Deputies assume, and some of them assert, that this is the first time that they were in financial difficulties. C.I.E. or its predecessor, the Great Southern and Western Railway, has been in difficulties going back practically to the end of the 1914-18 war and certainly to the birth of this State. Let us get that clear. This is not the first committee or the first effort to deal with it. When private enterprise failed lamentably to  operate successfully the railway service in this country Deputy Lemass, who was then Minister for Industry and Commerce, prior to and immediately after the war made no less than three efforts to cure the ailments of national transport, and he did not succeed. The State—Deputy Lemass as Minister for Industry and Commerce—only stepped in when there was a failure to provide a satisfactory economic service by private enterprise. Deputy Lemass tried it a second time, and tried marrying the Dublin United Tramways Company with the Great Southern and Western Railway to see if that fusion of blood and profit would help to keep it alive.
Might I remind the Deputy that despite all the efforts made by Deputy Lemass and the marriage to the bride with the heavy dowry, the Dublin United Tramways Company, the position was such that when the inter-Party Government took over in 1948, the whole 20,000 were in danger? There was not enough cash in the till to pay the following week's wages, much less carry out any capital works.
Mr. Morrissey: It is not the same. That is either a statement utterly irresponsible or, worse still, maliciously made. I challenge the Deputy again for the source of his information. Does the Deputy now assert that the position is, or will be when the Minister does something for it that he is proposing to do, that the wages will not be in the till? Is that the Deputy's assertion?
Mr. Morrissey: Let the Deputy stick to something, and, when somebody tries to pin him down, not start wriggling. The Deputy does read the Irish Press. The Deputy talked about the dieselisation programme, and repeated what the Irish Press goes on repeating, notwithstanding what are in the public records of this House, that the inter-Party Government killed dieselisation as introduced by Fianna Fáil and then subsequently found after Sir James Milne's report that dieselisation was the cure. Does the Deputy know what the Fianna Fáil dieselisation programme was? Does he know anything about it? Does the Deputy know how many diesel locomotives they bought, and is the Deputy aware of the size of them, the cost of each individual one of them, or does he know by whom they were bought?
Mr. Morrissey: The Deputy referred to that a minute ago. I will come to that all right. He talks about the chassis factory and starts wriggling when he is pinned down. He is not going to be allowed to change step.
Mr. Morrissey: I will give him the benefit of this, that he is merely repeating what he has read in his ignorance of what it really was. I do not mean ignorant in any offensive sense. Let me tell the Deputy, because the Irish Press will not tell him, that they bought five diesel locomotives at a cost of, I think, £85,000 each in the U.S.A. and they did not have even the benefit of the advice of a chief mechanical engineer. They were about as useful to them as a 28-ton lorry would be to a man who wanted a perambulator, because when they finally arrived in this country it was found that they could not be operated and maintained in this country. They then tried to see if they could sell them to any other country in the  world even at a substantial loss. At one time the Indians were nearly falling for them, but somebody tipped them off in time and they were not caught, and all the efforts made to dispose of them even at bargain prices proved unsuccessful. There was only one sucker born at that moment of dieselisation, and we provided it.
The Deputy can now inquire from his apparently good source of information, if one is to judge by some of the things he said to-night. Much and all as he tried to keep it there, he let the cat out of the bag. He can find out what their ultimate fate was, and if not from anybody else, I will undertake to tell him myself. There is as much relation between the present dieselisation programme and what was called the dieselisation programme started by Fianna Fáil as there is between chalk and cheese—no comparison whatever, good, bad or indifferent.
I agree with the Deputy that this country cannot and ought not to sacrifice the railway system. I do not think we could do without it, but the people of this country will have to make up their own minds. If they want to have a railway system maintained and to have employment maintained, then they have either to use it or to pay for it. They must either pay for it in freight and in fares or pay for it through subsidies or some other way. If they do not want it and do not want to pay for it, they will have to drop it. I am not so sure, mind you, that if we were foolish enough to let the railway system go, the substitute that would have to be provided would not be infinitely more costly, and frankly, from the ordinary citizen's point of view, give a worse service than we have to-day.
There is no relationship whatever between circumstances to-day and the circumstances of 1947, 1948, 1950 or 1954. The Deputy knows as well as I do that the number of commercial vehicles on the roads of this country has increased, not by thousands, but by tens of thousands. The Deputy knows that the statement and the rumours that were spread around by vested interests that C.I.E. had a  monopoly of road transport are not true and were never true. The Deputy probably knows that C.I.E. owns and operates only one out of 40 of the commercial vehicles on the roads to-day.
Mr. Morrissey: Exactly. That was the sort of propaganda that was used. I know that I am using words now that may be misunderstood and distorted and that can be used against me, politically and otherwise, but, remember, it is absolutely true that it is made possible for the owners of these tens of thousands of commercial vehicles to operate them economically because they can refuse to take the uneconomic loads or the uneconomic portions of a load and foist them on to C.I.E. and C.I.E., by statute, must accept them. It is all right for Deputy Rooney to say that, if Mary Murphy in Dublin wants to send her mother in Tralee a good secondhand bed that she buys in Dublin, C.I.E. should not carry that because it is not an economic proposition, that it is not fair to the taxpayer that they should do so. C.I.E., particularly as a national system, has to be concerned with giving service to the citizens and they cannot, like those who are in competition with them, confine themselves and guide their whole policy and administration entirely in relation to profit. Deputies ought to face up to that.
I do not know if there is a railway system in the world to-day that is being operated at a profit or that is being operated without a loss and even where some of them may show a profit on their balance sheets it is due, if not to outright subsidies, in many cases, just like the Atlantic airlines, to concealed subsidies in the form of Government contracts.
Mr. Morrissey: Not a bit and I will be prepared at any time that it is in order to go into that with the Deputy because the difference is that I know all about it and the Deputy knows nothing about it. What is worse is  that, in so far as there is anything at all in the Deputy's head about it, it is something that is wrong, misinformed. I can understand the Deputy because I was even younger than he is when I sat over there at one time and I was not nearly as well educated as the Deputy is and, notwithstanding that I had not the Deputy's training and education and was much younger than he is now, I thought I knew even more than the Deputy thinks he knows. When I look back on it now I am appalled and the Deputy will, I hope, when he is older and more mature, look back in the way in which I occasionally look back. The Deputy ought to get this into his head: the people on this side of the House are not fools. The people on this side of the House are just as concerned as he is about the maintenance of the transport system. The Deputy is worried about the present financial position of C.I.E.
Mr. Morrissey: The Deputy is only acting when he takes that line. I mentioned the tens of thousands of additional commercial vehicles. I do not think the Deputy was here in 1953. I can tell the Deputy that one of the main reasons, not all the reasons, but one of the main reasons why the financial position of C.I.E. is so critical at the moment is that the Deputy's colleagues, when they were in Government, in 1953, insisted on their paying back to them £1,000,000 that they had not to pay.
Mr. Morrissey: It is not a story. The Deputy should go down to the Library and read. Will he ask his informant, who has supplied him with so much information, about it? I am making a statement here now and I challenge the Deputy or Deputy Lemass or Deputy MacEntee or anybody else to deny that it is the truth.
Mr. Morrissey: I am at least as much concerned with its present and its future as the Deputy is. I am very concerned, perhaps much more concerned than the Deputy now is, and I always was, about the employment of those who are there. If the Deputy has a look at the Transport Act of 1950 he will find a section in that Act that is probably in no other Transport Act in the world, put in by me, not merely with the consent, but at the request, of my colleagues in the inter-Party Government. The Deputy has got to admit that this Government is doing something that Fianna Fáil never did.
Mr. Morrissey: The Deputy should  read it. He should not fall into the trap in relation to that that he has fallen into here, that is, of taking a sentence or a section out of its context. The Deputy should not read the leaded type paragraphs in the Irish Press. It is bad enough to read the thing in its entirety but just to read the paragraph that is in leaded type——
Mr. Morrissey: I have not the shadow of a doubt that they will repeat the lies that they have printed so often before. The leopard does not change its spots and the label on the bottle, “Truth in the News,” does not correctly describe what is in the bottle. Very few people nowadays are deceived by labels.
Mr. Morrissey: Perhaps I am, Sir, and, if so, I apologise. The Deputy talked about wagon building. Some of my colleagues here spoke about wagon repairs. The Deputy spoke about unemployment in Limerick and Inchicore in the vehicle building departments. Is the Deputy aware that, from 1937 to 1948, there was not a single railway carriage built in this country?
Mr. Morrissey: The Deputy's knowledge is even more superficial than I thought it was. Just imagine the Deputy coming in here and talking on a subject like this with an assurance that even Sir James Milne would not have.
Mr. Morrissey: If the Deputy thinks he is going to get me away from this question of the wagons and the carriages, he is not. There was not one single railway carriage built from 1937 to 1948. This is not the first time I said it. It is on record. Has the Deputy any conception of the average age of the locomotives, wagons and coaches that  were handed over to C.I.E. in 1948 and 1950, when the board was set up?
Mr. Morrissey: And in the 19 years he was Minister—and he had infinitely greater power and more docile power sitting behind him—he did not remove Victoria's crown from one of them. There have been more wagons built and repaired, and more coaches constructed, since 1948 than there were from the start of the 1914-18 war up to 1948. The Deputy can check on that and he will find that it is right.
It is a misfortune that, on a serious matter like this, we have to have exchanges like this across the House. It is a serious national matter. There is no difference between what we believe should be done, but we are not going to do it unless we face up to the reality. The reality is quite simple. If the people of this country wish to retain the existing network of railways and if they want efficient services, then they have got to pay for them.
The Deputy talked about the 20,000 employees. C.I.E. does employ 20,000. It is the biggest employer in the whole of Ireland. When he talks about the difficulties facing the present Minister and the difficulties facing his predecessor, has the Deputy any conception of the enormous additional burden which is being placed on C.I.E. by the tremendous number of increases in the cost of coal? Has the Deputy any conception, or is he aware, that the wages bill of £9,000,000 which he talks about was 50 per cent. less in 1948 before Deputy Lemass left office? It was £6,000,000.
Does the Deputy or does any man who has a grain of common sense—and no one need be an accountant or a financier to understand this—think that, with overheads increasing so enormously—wages, materials of all descriptions for coaches and everything else, the cost of coal—here let me digress. Coal is one of the biggest single items. I should like the Minister to give the cost of coal to C.I.E.  to-day compared with the cost of coal to C.I.E. within the last five, six or seven years. In the case of C.I.E. or any other business—whether you are operating a huckster's shop or Guinness's Brewery—you cannot double or treble your overheads, at the same time, have your trade dwindling and still keep your head over water. It just cannot be done. What will have to be applied and what is being applied, whether we like it or not, is the hard law of economics.
If the people are prepared to say they want the railways, they should be made to realise the position if C.I.E. is to continue. I think they do realise it. They must realise the position if the railways are to be maintained, wages paid, proper rolling stock provided and made available when required. If there is a fair in Limerick to-morrow C.I.E. must have trains available for it. If that fair for some reason or other is changed from to-morrow to to-morrow week, C.I.E. must alter schedules but still must provide the wagons. Whether it is Bantry, Limerick, Cork or Tipperary, the same thing applies and the services must be available.
People tell me that you could replace the railways of this country and have all the freight, all the passengers, all the live stock, all the raw materials, or finished products and everything else carried more successfully, more efficiently and more economically by road. I just do not believe it.
Mr. Morrissey: It is quite easy to say that, and the Deputy is not saying anything original. That has been said over and over again. It was said to me; it was said to Deputy Lemass; and it was said to the Minister. Again, may I suggest to the Deputy that those who are charged with the responsibility of running C.I.E. are not fools? When I hear talk about the services here in Dublin, I am reminded that there are people in this country who are living six, eight, ten or 20 miles from the nearest railway station. Do not forget that. It is one of our troubles here—a sparse and scattered  population. From what I can learn and hear and from the little I saw in the few cities it was my privilege to see abroad, whatever about the cost of the services, the efficiency of the bus services in Dublin can compare with the best in any city I know of.
Does anybody think that you must not have some feeder for the railway? Apparently, Deputy Rooney saw something wrong in a parcel being sent from here to some remote part of the country by railway and then taken from that nearest station and delivered to the person's door. I see nothing wrong in that. The only thing I see wrong in it is that, if it were economic to take it from here to the person's door, it would be taken by somebody other than C.I.E. The only reason it is taken by C.I.E. is that the other people do not want it, since it is not an economic proposition. The citizen living six miles from the nearest railway station is entitled to the same national service, the same facilities and the same amenities as the person living in the City of Dublin.
The bus services are available here. In some of the more remote parts of the country, and in parts of the country subject to bad weather to a greater extent than other parts, people have to walk three, four or five miles to Mass and the children have to walk anything from two to five miles to school. No bus services are available to them. Those unfortunate children are often we to the skin before they arrive at the school and they have to sit there for the day.
Let us get some sense of proportion and let us realise what we are trying to do. We either want a railway service or we do not. You cannot operate a railway service and pay for materials, services and wages with chaff. The men and women who work on the railways and the people—whether they are Irish, British or German—who supply the goods that are required—whether they are the parts or the finished materials—will only accept payment in cash. We are the people who have to provide the cash. If we do not provide it in one form, we must provide it in another. I think all of us realise that, but we are not inclined to say it or  face up to it. If we face up to it, we will get a more realistic approach and, perhaps, more realistic speeches on the matter, both inside and outside this House, with possibly a better understanding of the position. For pity's sake, do not let us keep on talking about this as if the C.I.E. problem arose only in the lifetime of this Government, or even in the long lifetime of the Fianna Fáil Government. This has its roots much earlier in time than that. There were several commissions in the past. There were commissions inquiring into C.I.E. and its predecessor before Deputy O'Malley was born.
Mr. Morrissey: Yes, and I am sorry, having listened to Deputy O'Malley, a man of more than average intelligence, that he is not a member of that inquiry because certainly, even if the committee did not produce any fruit, it would inculcate in Deputy O'Malley an infinitely better understanding of the national transport problem than he has at the moment.
Mr. Norton: Because of the fact that a committee of inquiry has recently been set up by me, with terms of reference which I quoted in the course of my introductory speech to-day, it would be undesirable for me to express views of a positive character at this stage, lest my doing so might be interpreted as giving a line to the committee. I prefer to let the committee ascertain the facts for themselves. I prefer to let the committee bring their own intelligence to bear on the problems presented, so that they may give to the Government and the House an objective picture of the transport problems and their suggestions for remedying them.
A number of matters have been raised in the course of this debate which it is desirable to answer. I propose to do so as briefly as possible. Some of the Opposition Deputies, including Deputy Derrig and Deputy Aiken, completely misunderstood the purpose of this Estimate, although I clearly explained it in my opening  speech. C.I.E. have an unexhausted borrowing capacity and, if it were convenient for them to get money on the stock market to-morrow, they could float a loan for £1,000,000, £2,000,000, £3,000,000 or £4,000,000, as they required; and, when that was subscribed, they could use it for capital development purposes, as they are entitled to do under legislation passed by this House. But for a variety of reasons, reasons of which every intelligent Deputy is aware, and which were explained and emphasised by the Minister for Finance to-day, it is not considered judicious to go to the stock market at the moment, unless, of course, one is prepared to pay a very high price in interest charges, with consequences which would manifest themselves, in particular, when such a loan has to be carried over a long period of years.
It was felt better, therefore, that C.I.E. should not be allowed to go to the stock market at the moment and that, instead, the Government would find £1,000,000 to keep C.I.E. going in the matter of meeting their contractual commitments until November next. In November, if C.I.E. want more money to meet their contractual obligations, C.I.E. will have to get more money. If, in November, somebody will lend them money—an insurance company, a bank, or banking house, or anybody else—C.I.E. is at liberty to take that money if they can get it on more advantageous terms than they can get it from the Government.
All we are doing by this Estimate is giving C.I.E. £1,000,000, £1,000,000 they would get in the ordinary way if they were able to go to the stock market. The intention is that C.I.E. will repay that £1,000,000: when, is a matter of conjecture at this stage. If C.I.E. do not go to the stock market in the present financial year, and presumably they will not or cannot, then they will repay whenever they go to the stock market and raise the money required. This is not a case of throwing £1,000,000 into C.I.E. to stuff a hole. This is advancing C.I.E. £1,000,000 on a repayable basis, that £1,000,000 to come back again when C.I.E. raise money as a result of their next stock issue.
 Deputy Aiken and Deputy Derrig complained that they did not know anything about this Estimate and did not know it was likely to come along. This is a perfectly ordinary transaction so far as the £1,000,000 is concerned. It is being advanced because it is better to give it to C.I.E. from the Government rather than have them go to the stock market at a time when it is disadvantageous to go. There is no crisis. This advance will be repaid when C.I.E. collect publicly as a result of the flotation of a loan.
References were made by Deputy Aiken to the appointment of this committee of inquiry. He thought the Government should know what the problems affecting C.I.E. are and should itself instantaneously apply a remedy. I do not know that the remedy anybody might suggest would commend itself to everybody here or commend itself to the country as a whole. Indeed, any attempt to apply a remedy ultimately may well beget a considerable amount of opposition by those sections of our people intimately affected by whatever remedies may be proposed.
I set up this committee of inquiry because I wanted five capable people, with qualifications, to survey the transport problem and to give us what was, in their view, a sensible appraisal of the situation, together with a sound remedy for the problems posed to them for solution. Nobody will question the outstanding qualifications of those who constitute the committee. They were selected by me on their proved ability to undertake such an inquiry. I hope that I shall get from them an impartial report unencumbered by any relationship they may have with any political Party. I still believe that we will get a report of that quality from the committee.
This was not intended to be a committee to long-finger the problem. The very fact that although this is a holiday month normally, that next month is the chief holiday month and that September is to some extent, too, a holiday month, I still fixed 1st November as the date on which they should present their report to me is evidence that, far from long-fingering the  matter, I am most anxious we should get the report with the utmost expedition. It indicates clearly that the Government regard the matter as one of such serious dimensions that it is essential that such a survey should be undertaken, the defects established and the remedy suggested within the shortest possible time. It is for that reason that a committee of that quality and that calibre and with that time date was established.
Was there any justification for establishing it? That may be a question in the minds of some Deputies. It may be a question in the minds of people outside. In my view, it was necessary that it should be established because, reporting to me on the position of C.I.E., in a memorandum I received from the chairman of the company last month, it was stated that, notwithstanding improved rail services, passenger and goods traffic with C.I.E. continues to decrease; that many industrial firms are now using their own transport and that one very large undertaking—I think probably the chief customer of C.I.E. in one respect—had refused to pay the increased charge of 10 per cent. imposed by C.I.E. and that another very large user had said they proposed to establish their own road freight service.
C.I.E. naturally became alarmed at a situation of that kind, concerned as it was by this fact, that the number of private cars on the road had increased from about 50,000 in 1945 to 140,000 to-day. Likewise, private lorries had increased from about 10,000 in 1945 to 45,000 to-day. In these circumstances, C.I.E. raised some questions. They posed these questions: “Is a public transport system to be maintained both for passengers and goods? Are railways to form part of that system or can they be abandoned? If railways are to be retained will the steps which are necessary to make them self-supporting be taken, or will the State pay the necessary subsidy? Finally, they asked: “If railways must remain and must pay their way, what steps will be taken to restore sufficient traffic to the railways?”
These are all questions which, in one way or another, in one degree or another, impact heavily on the public  interest and on the economic life of the nation. I have no doubt that some shallow-minded people would answer these five or six questions in as many seconds and thereby demonstrate the majesty of their daftness. I do not think there is any mind in this House which could find remedies, and certainly should not attempt to find them, until they have discovered all the facts from all the people likely to be affected by the manner in which we operate our transport system. It was because these questions are raised and because they are important that I decided to set up this committee for the purpose of enabling it to get the evidence, to find the difficulties, and to crystallise them and to make suggestions for remedies. That is the explanation of the committee, and I think every well-intentioned citizen who realises the difficulties will be satisfied that it was the best way of dealing with the matter.
The question of redundancy has been raised here, chiefly by Deputy O'Malley. The Deputy has such an attractive way of flitting around the subject and never getting to the kernel of it, and apparently inoculating himself against the possibility that he would ever understand it, that it is really difficult to argue with him. Does he know that the Fianna Fáil dieselisation programme, designed in 1953, was designed on the basis that it would produce redundancy? The deliberate intention was to produce redundancy. It was recognised frankly, and the files of the Department of Industry and Commerce show it, that dieselisation would produce redundancy because it would operate more cheaply. There would not be the same driving staffs, or cleaning staffs, or firemen and maintenance staffs, and the Fianna Fáil dieselisation policy was designed to produce redundancy—
Mr. O'Malley: It was not. On a point of order, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, when Deputy Lemass was Minister for Industry and Commerce and that criticism was levelled at him, he answered it by giving an undertaking, which he got from the chairman of the board, that if a fireman lost his job through the changeover,  he would be given alternative employ ment.
Mr. Norton: The Deputy is talking through his mythical hat. Deputy Lemass never got such an assurance. Let me take the Deputy through this painful channel of knowledge. Does the Deputy know that when I went to the Department of Industry and Commerce in Kildare Street there was no provision made for any man who lost his job as a result of dieselisation? Does he challenge that Deputy Lemass——?
Mr. Norton: I had to come to this House with a Bill which provided that anyone who was rendered redundant would get compensation. Up to then, there was no compensation and I know of no other company in this country, or elsewhere, that has provided compensation for workers who may be dismissed as a result of a dieselisation programme. I provided for them in this legislation and they would have got no compensation if the position had not been dealt with in that way by me.
Mr. Norton: The Deputy need not be so self-rebuking in this matter. There  is provision in the Act also whereby if a man is moved down, from one job to another, to his disadvantage, he will get compensation in respect of the difference in his pay. Over and above all that, I said to the directors of C.I.E., and to the railway unions, that I was anxious that the question of redundancy should be dealt with on the basis that they were not dealing with pieces on a draught board, were not dealing with hands or heads, but were dealing with human beings and the aim ought to be to deal with the problem in a humane way, so as to ensure that everything possible was done to insulate these people against dismissal as a result of dieselisation. It was recognised—the railway unions recognised it, too—that temporary workers were in a different position from permanent workers. I emphasised, every time I saw the directors of C.I.E., the necessity for dealing with this matter in a sympathetic and understanding way and I still believe they should do that. It is my desire they should do it and they are under no illusion in that respect.
Deputy O'Malley, and I think Deputy Aiken, referred to the accounts of C.I.E. In the financial year 1954-55, C.I.E.'s losses had been got down to £866,000. The losses for the subsequent year are not yet known, but I shall be very much surprised if the loss for 1955-56 is less than £1,600,000, so the position has disimproved by approximately £800,000 in one year. Deputy O'Malley said that wage increases cost £183,000. They cost £530,000. Coal increases cost £180,000.
Mr. Norton: In the year covered by the balance sheet to March, 1956. There have been some increases since then. These two items run to £710,000, so that it is easy to understand why C.I.E.'s financial position worsened so seriously between 1955 and 1956.
The total capital expenditure on diesel locomotives up to March, 1956, was approximately £3,317,000. A sum of £2,291,000 is provided in the C.I.E. 1956-57 budget for dieselisation. A sum of £735,000 will fall due in 1957-58, while a balance of £50,000 will be expended  in 1958-59 and 1959-60. Looking at the situation to-day, the total cost of dieselisation will be of the order of £6,400,000 as compared with the original C.I.E. estimate of £5,300,000.
Mr. Norton: Yes. A total of £1,559,000 has been expended by C.I.E. on the construction of carriages and wagons under the reorganisation programme up to March, 1956. A total of 34 carriages and 1,115 wagons was completed on the 31st March, 1956. In addition to building diesel cars and carriages and wagons, C.I.E. carried out each year capital additions not included in their normal capital programme and expenditure under that auxiliary head has been estimated by C.I.E. to amount to £250,000 per annum.
To finance their capital development programme up to the end of 1959-60, as at present planned, they estimate that a further £7.69 million will be required on the capital account. In addition, it is estimated by C.I.E. that approximately £3,000,000 will be required on revenue account to finance the excess of renewals and replacements over revenue earnings. In other words, the total C.I.E. requirements up to 1959-60 may therefore be said to be: their capital expenditure would be £7.69 million; renewals and replacements £3.05 million, and stock interest £4.18 million, making a total as near as does not matter to £15,000,000.
I think it can be seen from this that C.I.E., as Deputy Morrissey rightly said, has put a good deal of work into bringing C.I.E. from the dilapidated position in which it was under private enterprise to the transport organisation which it is to-day. However, having said that, one has nevertheless to remember that the fact that so much money has been spent on C.I.E., and that that capital has to be serviced by earning sufficient to reward the invested capital—that very fact alone— has been responsible for causing some of the problems which C.I.E. has to face.
C.I.E.'s general position is that it  makes a profit on the Dublin bus service. If you can look at the problem from Dublin only, I can see that Dublin Deputies could make a case for a Dublin transport service. I think provincial areas could make a case to have a provincial bus transport service as well. I think even road freight more than holds its own even though there are only about 1,000 C.I.E. lorries on the road as against 45,000 private lorries. However, even on the road, I think C.I.E. services make a profit. But all these profits from the road freight service, the provincial bus service and the Dublin bus service are all pooled together to try and buttress the railway and, having been put together to buttress the railway, they not only do not do it, but fail to the extent of a loss which will be shown this year to be, I believe, in the vicinity of £1.6 million. The heavy loss is on the railways. The last Government and this Government have been pursuing a policy of modernising the railway—re-equipping the railway by dieselising the system—with a view to getting passenger traffic back and freight traffic back.
If you look at the figures you will find private motor cars jumping at the rate of 10,000 a year. When people buy motor cars they travel mainly in the cars they have bought. Every new car which comes on the road—and these are not replacement cars; I am talking now about the increase in the number of cars on the road—is an indication that C.I.E. are continuing to lose passenger traffic.
So far as lorries are concerned, 45,000 lorries are on the road now compared with 10,000 in 1945. These lorries are on the road with freight. Some of them are on the road morning, noon and night, carrying traffic all over the country. The policy of the last Government and of this Government certainly up to the present—until we can be justified, if there be justification, in revising it—has been to try to maintain the railways as the backbone of our transport system. While we are trying to maintain the railways and while bus passengers are only paying a fair contribution towards the maintenance of the railways, the position in all its nakedness is that  those who have freight to transport prefer to transport it in private lorries instead of giving it to the railways. The result is that the railways are losing traffic—freight traffic and passenger traffic—progressively each year. Recently they have been alarmed at the losses. The threat of two very large undertakings in the country to provide their own freight services has induced C.I.E. to take the view that we should now have a look at this whole problem again in the light of the developments since the 1950 Transport Act went through this House.
Only a fool would try to keep a rigid mind in changing circumstances. I see nothing wrong or in any way injurious to the self-respect of this House that we should set up a committee of inquiry to examine the problem, once we are satisfied that changes have taken place which ought to be examined. That is what we have done. You must remember that C.I.E. operates under considerable difficulties. It is a common carrier. It has to have the same rates for the same classes or goods or analogous classes of goods. It cannot go bargaining with a person. It has a fixed charge and adheres to it. It cannot say that it does not like that traffic and that it wants more for it or that it wants this traffic and will do it for less. Charges are fixed and have to remain and there can be no flexibility about these charges.
C.I.E., as Deputy Morrissey rightly says, is a public transport undertaking and if Mrs. A. wants to send an old perambulator to Mrs. B. in the most notherly point of Donegal or the most southerly point of Kerry, the transport company have to take it there and even though there may be no freight for any place within 50 miles of the address to which the perambulator is consigned that is what C.I.E. has got to do because it is a public transport undertaking. If you allow a situation to develop in which everybody picks his own traffic, then there will be nobody ultimately to carry Mrs. A.'s perambulator to Mrs. B. at some inaccessible part of the country.
It may be well that in our circumstances  and in our difficulties we cannot afford these transport refinements. It may be better to say that Mrs. A. has got to stop this method of subsidising Mrs. B. with perambulators; that that traffic has got to end and that it is better to nip that traffic and prevent it being continued because of the burdens which it places on C.I.E. but the burdens are there and C.I.E. will tell you what they have got to do in that respect.
C.I.E. complained to me some time that a certain firm in this country sends out a fleet of lorries to the West of Ireland and that it delivers these commodities in the larger towns in the West of Ireland. When it arrives at a railway station it has got about 12 bundles of the commodity left for places at all points of the compass radiating from this station. One of the drivers of the lorries goes in, empties out the dozen bundles and says: “Would you mind delivering these 12 bundles for me?” because the company in question realises that it would take them ten times more to deliver these 12 bundles of this commodity than C.I.E. would charge them. C.I.E. have to charge on the basis that there is a fixed charge for carrying that commodity over a fixed distance. C.I.E. has got to do that while it sees this company with its fleet of lorries going right through the well populated towns and delivering in abundance the creamier portion of that traffic. That is a difficulty under which C.I.E. operates and it is a difficulty which should not be overlooked.
I think I dealt in the main with all the general points raised except to say this on one point. I have been most anxious that C.I.E. should get to a level of efficiency with the utmost expedition. I have made it clear on many occasions and by speeches on other subjects last year that I think C.I.E. ought to endeavour to get to economic equilibrium with no deficit as soon as it could; that I prefer them to get that way by efficiency and that I did not want them to displace staff in order to get into that position. So anxious was I about it that I pressed C.I.E. to put in industrial consultants at Kingsbridge in the hope that they might find  quicker, better and more efficient ways of doing things than had been discovered in the past. I think the consultants now operate at Kingsbridge, from there out and at the workshops as well. Whatever report we get from the committee of inquiry may help us some distance along the road to deal with the problem of transport and enable us to deal with the worst and most irritable aspects of the problem as we find them to-day.
Having seen Bills going through this House on transport questions for nearly 30 years, I would not be prepared in the light of that experience to give a certificate that even what we can now do or propose to do will give us the results. Every Minister for Industry and Commerce appointed in this State has found transport a headache from the 1924 Act up to the 1950 Act. Ministers came to the Dáil confessing the difficulties which they experienced in the field of transport. Many Ministers came saying they believed that now at last they had got the solution of the problem and that they hoped that this would be a satisfactory basis. How unwise these prophecies are can be shown by this statement which was made by Deputy Lemass, as Minister for Industry and Commerce, when he introduced the Transport Bill on the 9th May, 1944:—
“We must create the organisation now and give the organisation the power and the finances. We must make it clear to the people who will be in charge of it that no further changes are contemplated and that the responsibility will be theirs. If we put them in that position and make it known they will have the goodwill of the Dáil, I am certain that they can create a transport organisation which will make a vital contribution to the further economic development of the country.”
“I contemplate that we can build up here a transport organisation which, having regard to the peculiar geographical formation of our country and the rather unusual distribution of population and industry, will be as efficient as any other country has and I believe we can make that transport organisation work without further subsidy.”
The House will see in connection with these words spoken in 1944, how far we are still from realising the rosy objective which the then Minister for Industry and Commerce thought was reasonably in sight. Our country is sparsely populated and the railway system was probably designed more for the benefit of an occupation power than for the convenience of the people. Because of that fact, large sections of our country can never be efficiently, effectively and conveniently serviced by railways only. We have, therefore, to think of a railway system carrying our heavy traffic and a bus system carrying traffic into those areas which are not conveniently served by the railways. But running these two systems, riding these two horses, may not be a very easy thing so far as the people of the country are concerned.
What this transport committee has to do now is to survey these difficulties in the light of experience and the hopes which have proved in some respects to be falsified by the effluxion of time and to tell us the best way in which the problem can be met. I do not want to see transport made a political issue in this House. I think it is bad for transport, and if we are going to deal with it on political lines, we are never going to deal with it in a manner that offers some possibilities of ultimate satisfaction. So far as I am personally concerned, I would be willing to throw the whole question of transport into the Dáil for consideration by a non-Party group to give us the best possible transport system, having regard to our requirements and at the same time devise ways and means, whereby if transport is to be maintained in a particular way, there will  be unity among all Parties in deciding in what way the transport undertaking is to be kept afloat.
If you are to keep railways, you can keep them probably by cutting back on road transport. If you do not cut back on road transport, the railways will go down. If you are satisfied not to cut back on road transport, but want to have the railways maintained, someone has to pay a substantial subsidy for that purpose. Is it to be the road transport vehicles, which damage the railways, which should pay or pay in part; or is it the whole community which should pay, even that portion in Dublin and throughout the country who already pay heavily to maintain the railway service? These are all problems which have to be solved. They are problems which we have to meet and if we try to think as little politically as possible when approaching these problems, we might find a quicker solution and perhaps a more enduring solution in the course of time.
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