Wednesday, 25 June 1975
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. O'Malley: Although the amendment was not accepted we are still of the opinion that the special offences which are created by this Bill—by that I do not mean the ordinary parking and tax disc offences but the special offences such as obstructing a traffic warden, refusing to give a name and address, and removing notices—should not be prosecuted simply by the traffic warden himself but should be prosecuted only with the consent of the superintendent of the Garda Síochána in whose district the offence is alleged to have been committed; or, alternatively, if that is not feasible, we would have no objection to the city manager or the local authority solicitor authorising the prosecution.
As I pointed out on the amendment, these prosecutions are for offences which are not just trivial, day-to-day matters on which the question of mens rea does not arise, but they are criminal or quasi-criminal matters in which it would be much more preferable that the prosecution should not be brought without the consent of somebody who is experienced in adjudicating on matters of this kind. I do not want to be taken as alleging that any individual traffic warden would abuse his powers in this respect, but nonetheless, one has to face the fact that traffic wardens, as things stand and presumably in the future, are virtually untrained in the prosecution of offences. These are not trivial or minor offences but are serious offences which, if somebody is convicted of such an offence or even charged with it could have quite a serious effect on his future career or prospects.
For these reasons we are not happy with this section which allows traffic  wardens to prosecute in the name of the local authority for these quasi-criminal offences in exactly the same way as they would prosecute for parking and similar offences which are comparatively trivial.
Minister for Local Government (Mr. Tully): This provision is not new. It is not creating a new offence. It is in a number of other Acts, for instance, the Housing Act, 1966, and the Planning and Development Act, 1963. Housing or planning authorities may prosecute for offences under these Acts. It is the very same thing. The Local Government Planning Act, 1963, section 81 (3) says that any person who obstructs the entry approved of by order shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine, and so on. To suggest that these are new is wrong. I suggest that this amendment should be allowed through. There is not anything new about it.
Mr. Faulkner: I know the amendment is defeated, of course, but I want to ask a further question. We are dealing with the section now. I would like to know whether it is intended that the law officer of the local authority will be responsible for the prosecution. I mentioned in my Second Reading speech that the law officers of local authorities were at the moment overburdened, that there were complaints very often about the slowness in dealing with certain matters, for example housing loans, and so on, and I would like to know what the Minister has in mind now in relation to the taking of prosecutions, whether he expects the prosecutions to be taken by the law officer or whether any extra assistance will be available to the law officer, whether the council will have permission to employ extra solicitors to deal with this matter.
As the Minister knows and as I mentioned earlier, law officers in the local authorities, generally speaking, have too much work to do. At least, the work is done relatively slowly and I am not blaming them because legal matters are difficult to deal with.  Nevertheless the danger is that if this is loaded on to the law officers to deal with it will defeat its own purpose. Perhaps the Minister might let me know what he intends to do.
Mr. Tully: No. It will be the county manager who will make the decisions for the local authority. I agree with Deputy Faulkner that a number of the law agents appear to be overworked. I assume that what will happen is that there will be outside legal assistance obtained. The one thing that everybody seems to overlook in this, and I tend to overlook it myself, is that we are talking about protection of the motorist and protection of the public. Here we are attempting to put something in to protect the warden. I think it should be received a bit better than it is. The warden is entitled to protection. Recently we had a case where a warden was attacked. We should have a way in which this can be dealt with and, as I say, if the law agent of the local authority is overburdened, as some of them are, then naturally the advice or assistance of somebody other than him will have to be taken. This happens in many other instances. It will happen in the question of the traffic wardens.
Mr. B. Desmond: May I ask in relation to section 6 does the Minister make regulations prescribing any regulation to be made under the Act and regulations as appropriate may be laid before the House? Has the Minister considered that, because of the sort of relationship which will emerge and is already there, between the Garda Síochána and the local authorities that  it may well be appropriate and desirable that he may make these regulations following consultation. I would suggest, to establish some national uniformity, with the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána? One could envisage a situation where the departmental staffs may draft regulations and lay them before the Houses of the Oireachtas. We go through the usual either enactment or annulment procedure and the regulations may and conceivably could be contradicting the regulations and rules laid down by the Garda Commissioner in relation to comparable offences. I would have thought that the Minister might consider either at Report Stage or in the Seanad introducing a mechanism of consultation in relation to section 6. I have a concern about the matter because as a member of a local authority I can see myself being asked by constituents to write to the Minister asking him to amend regulations relating to parking offences and so on and eventually the Department may redraft the regulations at the behest of particular local authorities. Remember here one is talking about, say, town commissioners who could finish up making representations to the Minister regarding the content of specific regulations. Town commissioners in different parts of the country, as the Minister knows, indeed, can be rather contrary, no more or no less contrary than bodies as august as, say, Dublin County Council. We all have our views in relation to the unique traffic situation in our particular local authority areas.
Mr. B. Desmond: While the Minister would draft them, it would be desirable that there should be consultation with the Garda authorities in the specific areas or I would prefer the national criteria. I would prefer overall criteria.
Mr. Tully: I do not think it is necessary because, naturally, any particular representations which are made by the Garda Commissioner would be considered but once the order is made the order is made. I cannot envisage a situation that Deputy Desmond seems to envisage where somebody at local authority level would find that the regulations as made were operating against him and ask him to make representations to have them changed. If that could happen it could happen in many other things. Regulations are made and they are in fact O'Kayed here and that is the end of it. The doubt which Deputy Desmond was talking about just does not exist. There is no clash. The Minister for Local Government makes both. My predecessor made the other one. I am quite sure he consulted the Garda authorities before they were made, and he can be assured that before this is done the Department of Justice will have their say. If they feel that there is something that they want put into it then this House will be able to decide if it is what we want.
Mr. Coogan: Will there be any training for these wardens under the Garda Síochána? The Garda Síochána have handled things and are better able to deal with people and they are experienced over the years in handling the public. A man coming in raw is handed a uniform. Without the backing of experience, he may be inclined to abuse the powers that he thinks he has. We are starting off on the wrong foot. I would like to see greater co-ordination between gardaí and these proposed wardens.
As the previous speaker said, different areas have different views on this, so I think that in the application of any rules and regulations the local gardaí should be brought into the picture because what applies in Dublin need not necessarily apply in Cork, Waterford or Galway or in tourist areas. Many people in the west, for instance, depend on tourism and gardaí have in the past been slightly lenient with tourists, which has an effect on our tourist potential. The application——
I would like to point out the difficulties that can arise in different areas and ask the Minister if he could have some flexibility. If Deputies opposite come up here to laugh, at the expense of the taxpayers, they have another guess coming.
I should like to see a certain amount of flexibility in the different areas because in tourist areas you could have a tourist who might not understand the law. Tourism is the bread and butter of the west. That is why I suggest the local gardaí should be brought in to give guidance to these wardens. The gardaí over the years have a good deal of experience in the application of law and in keeping order and they could play a big part in helping these wardens in the proper execution of their duties.
Mr. Tully: I have already said that these wardens will receive training and the wardens who are already operating have been trained with the assistance of the Garda and the local authorities. I assume that will continue and there will be consultation with the Garda Commissioner or his representative on what should be done. I am sure the arrangements will be made at that level. It would have to be a national arrangement because it would be impossible to make an arrangement for one area and not for another. It would cause all sorts of upset. Deputy Coogan and the Opposition can be assured that the necessary training will be given.
Mr. Faulkner: I would like a little more information about what is contained in this section where it states that a local authority may enter into agreement with another authority. If a local authority enter into an agreement with another authority, who will receive the moneys from the fines? Who will appoint the wardens? Who will pay them?
Mr. Tully: This is to ensure that where a county council and a town commission or an urban council are operating in the same area, the appointment of the warden may be made by the one body and the fines in that area will fall to the local authority operating in the area whether town commission or urban council.
Mr. Tully: If there are town commissioners or urban councils they would get the proceeds. They would have to repay the cost of the wardens to the local county council. It would be at the request of, say, for instance, the town commissioners or urban council to the county council that the wardens would be appointed. It is a matter which would have to be straightened out at that level because all these would be local matters. It was in order to allow them to do it that we thought it desirable to put in the section.
The Minister, in his Second Reading speech, said that he will have power when this Bill is passed to make grants towards expenses under it to local authorities. He pointed out that this grant would be made available only in very special circumstances and it follows logically from that statement that each local authority will pay their own staff either out of the fines collected or from the rates or from both. I think there is some danger here that the county manager might, for example, put certain pressures on the traffic wardens to collect as much money as possible from fines sufficient to pay them, so that no debt would incur to the rates. The Minister might say that is an extreme case but the fact is that it is possible that the manager or whoever is responsible in the local authorities might feel that it was his duty to ensure that no burden would fall on the rates and might be anxious to get in as much money in fines as would pay the wardens. This is not a desirable situation.
The Minister also visualised an additional burden falling on the rates. It is generally accepted that rates are not a very equitable type of taxation and we should avoid, as far as possible, adding to the rates. In the amendment we were putting forward a suggestion which would on the one hand avoid any reason for the manager putting on pressure in relation to the collection of sufficient money to  pay the wardens and on the other hand avoid adding a burden to the rates by suggesting that the Central Fund would make available the difference between any loss incurred in paying the wardens and the amount collected in fines and returning to the Central Fund any money over and above that necessary to pay the wardens. I think it was a very reasonable suggestion. I wonder if the amendment could be expressed in different terms to come within the rules of order and whether the Minister would then accept such an amendment which would outline the same attitude that we suggested in our amendment.
Mr. Callanan: On the Second Stage I stressed that point. I am uneasy about the human element coming into this. Not alone might they be asked to justify their existence, so as to pay their way, but it would be no harm if the word was passed that they could be actively employed as expert tax collectors for the local authorities. I would be very worried that they would be over-vigilant because they would know that if they did not pay their way they would probably be reduced in numbers. I would prefer if some kind of an amendment were put in by the Minister on the lines of the amendment which was ruled out of order. I suggest that any deficiency between their wages and the fines collected would be paid by the Central Fund. I am very worried that a warden would say to himself: “If there are not enough fines coming in, my job is in jeopardy”. He might get a little overvigilant. This is the only time I have spoken on this Stage, and I should like to add my voice to what Deputy Coogan said about training. I would ask the Minister to take a look at the question of training.
Mr. Tunney: I want to ask the Minister to indicate the circumstances in which it is thought likely it would be appropriate, convenient and necessary for the Minister, with the permission of the Minister for Finance, to contribute towards the expense account in relation to traffic wardens. Are these circumstances anticipated or is this section there to provide for circumstances which  might never occur? I would be concerned, too, as Deputy Callanan has mentioned, about the danger that the county manager or the officials could indicate to the wardens at a given time that they were not paying their way, and because of that there might be a danger to their employment.
I should like the Minister to say, too, whether in the preparation of the amendments, indeed of the Bill, the hypothetical case was considered of there not being need for the wardens, the situation where we would all become, because of the cost, most law abiding and these wardens would become redundant. Is there a situation where they might be diverted elsewhere? I do not think there is. I think that there will be, under this Bill, continuing pursuit and harassment of the motorist. I personally know to my own grief that a judge imposed a fine of £8 on me for parking, doing my local authority work. I think that he had probably got an indication that money was scarce and perhaps he could do something towards contributing to his salary.
Mr. Tunney: I did not suggest that at all. I made a comment and I do not want to be cross-examined on it. I think it is strange that in the last month fines of £8 have been imposed on motorists in the city of Dublin. I do not think it is because they have been told there is plenty of money available and that they need only impose a fine of £1 or £2. What I am concerned about is, as Deputy Callanan said, and as I want to express it as a motorist and on behalf of the law abiding motorists in Dublin, that this Bill might mean there is to be a continuation of the harassment that exists already. There is a budget, as we know, coming tomorrow and it is anticipated that additional taxes will be put on motorists.
Mr. Tunney: I am talking about a parking offence which I want to contest, because of the fact, and this is all relevant to the Bill, that the local authority could indicate as a clearway an area on which simultaneously they have parking meters and where anybody at the time must not park. If a member of the local authority was not familiar with the regulations I suggest it would be fairly difficult for the ordinary motorist to be familiar with them, when you are invited to park on a clearway, and where in small print there are words to the effect that after 5 o'clock it is no longer a clearway. If you park at 4.50, assuming you are going to have one hour, and you return to your car at five past five, the warden has come along and put a parking ticket on your car.
I was anxious to contest that on behalf of the motorists and because of the fact that I was ordered, as other people were, to go to Galway for a by-election, I wrote indicating that I should like to have the case postponed, and the thanks I got was a fine of £8. I am not the only one who was fined £8. I might say that I am contesting this further. I can afford to pay £8 but other motorists might not be and most of them are contributing enough at the moment. The purpose of my rising was to ask if the Minister would indicate the circumstances in which he would think it necessary or feel obliged to contribute a grant towards the local authority and seek the permission of the Minister for Finance so to do.
Mr. Tully: I am getting puzzled here. I do not want to mention Deputy Tunney's case. It is sub judice, he is appealing and bringing it further so I do not want to comment on it. We have an extraordinary situation. We had here some weeks ago Deputy Haughey saying he did not think any laws would be any good, we were better off without them. We had Deputy Lemass saying the driving test is not any good—it was not saying any lives—that it was a waste of time introducing the driving test. We now have a situation in which people fined for parking are saying “this is wrong,  it is wrong that people should be harassed”.
I want to make it very clear that the Bill only deals with people who break the law, minor or major, minor offences where they parked where they should not have. At normal times people can get caught and it is more than likely that they will be dealt with in a reasonable way. There are major offences where they obstruct traffic and cause endless chaos because of the fact that they park indiscriminately just because they do not care two damns about anybody but themselves. People who do not park carefully, who do not pay their tax, or do not display their tax discs usually because they have not paid it, are not committing a minor offence in my book. I think someone who does that is committing a very serious offence, and because of that we have decided to introduce new parking attendants.
What do we get? We find it is suggested that not alone is it wrong to bring these people in, because in theory they are supposed to be interfering with the gardaí and they adopt police duties, which they do not, but also that the people who already observe parking regulations are wrong. A number of Deputies have said that existing parking attendants are doing a great job. We also had the opposite point of view.
I must repeat that it is only right that the people we are trying to harass, if you like the word, those who deliberately break the law and do it consistently should be dealt with and for that reason we are introducing this system. It applies in Dublin, Cork and elsewhere. We are now suggesting it should apply anywhere it is needed.
Deputy Faulkner made a suggestion as to how the money should be allocated. If we did not have the section in the way it is and a local authority consulted with the Commissioner who said: “You do not need traffic wardens in your area at all” and if the local authority went ahead and appointed the traffic wardens, is it suggested that the State should meet the bill and pay for those people even though they are not needed? The  point in putting it in this way is to ensure that if that happens the local authority in making such an appointment are aware that it will cost the ratepayers more money.
If it is agreed that they are needed and there is a loss, there is the right to give compensation from the State funds to local authorities. I am sorry Deputy Callanan is not here because there is one point he is missing—may be I did not explain it clearly enough— local authorities do not have to appoint traffic wardens but if they wish to they may, in consultation with the Garda Commissioner. If they do not wish to, they do not have to. This is very important. The Bill visualises that any surplus in the service would be applied to road or traffic purposes in the area. I ask Deputy Faulkner to take note of this because it specifies “in the area”. This is common procedure in operation at present in respect of surplus funds which accrue on parking fees. To put the excess income into the Road Fund may mean that local road or traffic projects would be denied immediate benefit coming from income derived in the area. There would be no guarantee that moneys put into the road fund by a local authority from excess on warden service would go back to that same local authority.
I want to encourage maximum local responsibility and freedom in local matters. One final point is the question that has kept recurring here. It is the suggestion that somebody will say to the traffic warden: “You shall not have your wages next week unless you go out and catch a large number of motorists.” Firstly, that is a very bad reflection on the local authorities; secondly, the suggestion that it will be done is ridiculous in view of the fact that nobody can be caught except those who break the law; and, thirdly, the person who gets a ticket has the right to go to court and, therefore, cannot be imposed upon. So, under those three headings, there is not the slightest trouble at all.
We have achieved what Deputy Faulkner thinks should be achieved in the way in which we phrased this. If the local authority need traffic wardens, consult the Garda Commissioner,  appoint traffic wardens and make money on their efforts, this money goes into the local fund. If they lose money they can apply to the State and they may have it reapportioned. If they apply to the Garda Commissioner and he says: “No, we do not think you can do it. The gardaí are doing an adequate job there and we do not require traffic wardens.” That is all right but if they go ahead and appoint traffic wardens and lose money, they must know what that will cost them. Without that provision there could be no grant towards areas where traffic wardens were needed but where money was lost because of the expense involved. The fears that have been expressed here are not reasonable ones and we should let the section go through as it is.
Mr. B. Desmond: The Minister knows as well as I know that some local authorities are determined to build empires and can be somewhat perverse. The Minister indicates that a local authority who persist in the appointment of traffic wardens contrary to the advice of the Garda Commissioner would have to bear any excess loss. I know of some who, for prestige purposes alone, are capable of having one or two traffic wardens.
Mr. B. Desmond: The Minister and I are old friends. Would he not consider that in the Seanad or at Report Stage or, indeed, under power of regulation that he has here—and the general provisions are quite substantial in terms of regulatory powers of the Minister—he should insist that the employment of wardens by a local authority be subject to Ministerial sanction. It is necessary that he have this power. I am acutely aware of the fact that in, say, Dublin County  Council there are a number of new towns going up, Tallaght and so on, and there will be acute pressure on the five local councillors out there to institute a system of traffic wardens. The Garda Commissioner may have severe difficulty in releasing sufficient men to supervise general traffic control in the Tallaght area but one could find a situation where Dublin County Council, bearing in mind that in Tallaght there is a population of 30,000 and that it may well be a catchment area where sufficient revenue can be generated from prosecutions, would be under pressure to employ a number of wardens. If that were the criteria for employing wardens it would be a very dubious situation. On that basis, perhaps the Minister would consider taking to himself pretty stringent powers to insist that no couple of town commissioners could go off and devise a lovely uniform for a few local men who might be in great need at the height of the tourist season but who might find themselves on the local employment exchange in the winter.
I would assume that the Minister meant that whatever expenses were incurred in addition to the income derived from fines would be paid by the State, but the Minister in his Second Reading speech stated specifically that the grants would be made to the local authority in very exceptional circumstances. This is quite different from the case he is making now where he mentioned that where a local authority, having consulted with the Commissioner who advised them that traffic wardens were not necessary, and who proceeded to appoint traffic wardens would be refused expenses.
Mr. Faulkner: I would like to draw the attention of the Minister, again, to his Second Reading speech. Perhaps when he replies he will quote what he said because I have not got it in front of me but my recollection is that what the Minister said was that only in very exceptional circumstances would the grants be paid by him to local authorities.
One other matter which he raised and which would disturb me a little is more or less on the lines of the case we were making earlier, that is, where he said that the local authority, if they have a surplus, will get the money for use in their own area whereas if it went back to the Central Fund they would not necessarily get it for the area in which it was collected.
The problem I see—and this is exactly the same problem as we have been discussing for some time—is that there would be an incentive for a local authority to pressure the situation to ensure they would get a surplus. The problem, when discussed previously was concerned mostly with holiday resorts where the wardens, if they so wished, could possibly have a field day and ensure that the local authority in that area would get a surplus but which would be very much against the development of tourism in that area. Our amendment, which was ruled out of order and which I do not propose discussing, would have so changed the situation that there would be no benefit to the local authority in the fines collected and, on the other hand, that the Central Fund should contribute towards the rates. I should like the Minister to explain the difference between my recollection of what he said in his Second Reading speech and the type of case he has made now in regard to the occasions on which money would be made available by him to local authorities.
 The fact that it is at the option of the local authority to adopt and continue to operate a scheme is very important in regard to the financing of a scheme. It is primarily a local scheme and the decision to start or continue it should be taken locally.
At the present time, the fines-on-the-spot are payable by offenders at a Garda station and the money so collected accrues to the Road Fund. The costs of the existing warden service are met from the Garda vote, towards which the Road Fund is contributing about £1 million this year. The Department of Justice in turn pays to the local authorities, who are at present administering the scheme in Dublin and Cork, the costs incurred by these authorities. This is an unnecessarily cumbersome system of administration. The previous Government agreed that in future, when a warden service would be directly administered by the local authorities, the fines-on-the-spot would be paid to the local authorities and retained by them. I fully agree with this principle, which is included in the Bill.
I expect that a local authority which operates this service will have a surplus on their operations. They will be free to use the surplus for road traffic purposes in accordance with regulations to be made by the Minister. This is an exact parallel of the system which applies at present to income derived from parking meters and from disc parking (as operated in Cork). No question arises of my paying a subsidy in such cases.
As I said, the responsibility of deciding to operate a warden service will rest with each local authority, after consultation with the Garda Commissioner. It could happen that the Garda for good reasons do not agree that a warden service is necessary in a particular area—they might, for example, be in a position to control parking arrangements without the necessity for wardens. It would be inappropriate that, in such circumstances, I should be statutorily obliged to pay the cost of an unnecessary  service and this is the one about which Deputy Faulkner was doubtful:
On the other hand, circumstances could arise where the Commissioner agreed with the proposal of the local authority to appoint wardens, the scheme is being operated satisfactorily in the interests of traffic, but causes a significant loss to the local authority. It is possible that some contribution might be justified in that case towards the costs incurred by that authority.
I think I have illustrated that this is a complex problem in which the position of the Minister must be kept flexible. I propose to make the position clear to all local authorities when the Bill becomes law, to assist them in their decisions whether or not to operate a warden service.
Therefore, there is no secret at all about it. All of us agree that the proper method of handling the funds, if funds accrue at local level, is that they should be spent. Otherwise, the way of doing it would be so complex it would cause endless trouble. I think this section of the Bill has been very well drafted and I ask that it be left that way.
Mr. O'Malley: I was first going to avail of the opportunity, Sir, to congratulate you on the high honour which the citizens and Corporation of Cork have shown you by unanimously electing you their Lord Mayor once again.
Mr. O'Malley: The aspect of this question of expenses and the sums which will be collected under this scheme which worries us somewhat is that of the excess being used locally. I can see certain advantages in it, in certain circumstances, but, on balance, I am doubtful if it is wise—I have in mind the town commissioners, and I think I am on the very same lines here as Deputy Desmond—to allow the very small local authorities to utilise locally whatever excess they succeed in obtaining after they have paid the expenses of their wardens and so on. With the very small local authorities—and I stress that the danger does not exist to the same extent with the larger ones—you might have an incentive, on the part of a clerk or manager of a very small town, to encourage the wardens to try to increase the revenue for the local town commissioners, or urban council as the case might be.
Mr. O'Malley: No, not by encouraging people to park in the wrong places but by encouraging wardens at all times and in every circumstance to prosecute people. It may be that the Minister is one of these very fortunate people, that he never finds it  necessary to park for longer than, say, one hour at a particular place. He never goes into an office or meeting intending to come out in half an hour and finds that he is delayed for an hour-and-a-half——
Mr. O'Malley: And thereby commits an offence, although it might not be his wish so to do. But it happens to other people. We have heard of unfortunate Deputy Tunney who, through no fault of his own, was delayed at some local authority meeting which cost him a great deal of money. One has only to go through this city, or any other city on any day—and the Minister must know this if he is reasonable—to find cars that are technically illegally parked but are not really interfering with the flow of traffic or causing any other problems. If wardens are to get instructions that any and every infringement must be subjected to a fine, I think that is wrong. We propose to put down an amendment on the Report Stage which would get over the difficulty that apparently ruled Deputy Faulkner's amendment No. 10 out of order which we hope would be within the rules and might be taken. We would then urge the Minister to consider it at that stage.
Mr. Coogan: Might I pose a question to the Minister—when he says “the local authority” who are the local authority for the purposes of this Bill? Are they elected members? Are they just the managers who will “rubber-stamp” what is the regulation? When he says “uniform”, will it be uniform throughout the country in regard to the proper emphasis? Another point is the power of the wardens. They can seek to see tax licences on cars. Do I take it that the Garda will give up looking for licences? The Garda have a 24-hour job but these wardens are merely 9 o'clock to 5 o'clock men. In other words, at night the boys could come into town, cowboys can come in and have a great night of it and need not have a tax disc up at all. That is what  I would like to be clear on. There are the questions of the implementation of the regulations and of temperament. How does the Minister know the kind of man he is getting? Will he have one of these morning grouches who will pounce on a man one minute after the starting time? There is a lot to be said in regard to the implementation of the duties. Another matter is what should the power of a warden be?
Mr. Coogan: Then there is something radically wrong. A man who is given authority and sees a man get into a car, drive off and perhaps kill a person should have the power of arrest, which I understand is there. The traffic wardens should have these powers because a lot of gentlemen are getting away with happy moments at the wheel. They are a great danger to the public. If the Garda are to be helped by these wardens they should be helped in every respect. These regulations are for the benefit of the public at large, the safe management of traffic. You will not have much safe traffic with a drunken driver. I would like if the Minister could see if anything could be done in that respect.
Mr. Tully: I am sorry. The Traffic Wardens Bill covers wardens who will be appointed to do a specific thing, that is in relation to parking, and at the same time will be responsible for inspecting tax discs on parked vehicles. That is the only power they have. Deputy Coogan asked two questions. One is who is the local authority, the members or the manager? The manager is responsible for staff. Deputy Coogan also asked when the warden is not on duty at night who will look after those who have no tax discs? This is, was, and will remain a matter for the Garda as they always  do when the wardens are off duty or indeed when the wardens are on duty. The Garda have not been stripped of any of their powers. They can continue to do the same work as they always did. Let me pay a tribute to the Garda who, in fact, are doing a tremendous job under very heavy pressure. This is an effort to try to take some of the back-breaking work off them, the question of parking and of trying to regulate parking by taking dangerous parking out of some of our towns. It is very necessary and it is just too bad that we have to allocate men, who are very busy doing important national work, to stop cars to see whether the cars are taxed or not when the same cars can be found with a shilling in a meter parked anywhere around the country.
Mr. O'Malley: We have a number of amendments prepared already and we may have a few more. The Parliamentary Secretary, when he was here, said that there was no question of the Report Stage being taken this week.
Mr. Tully: I thought the Opposition might be reasonable about it. It was Deputy O'Malley who said this is a matter in which all sides must have an input. If the Opposition have amendments which can be usefully debated I have no objection. I would like to see it being passed through this House quickly but if the Opposition object I have no option.
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