Dáil Éireann - Volume 494 - 07 October, 1998
Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Bill, 1998: Second Stage.
Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise (Mr. Jacob) Joe Jacob
Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise (Mr. Jacob): I move: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.” The purpose of the Bill is to put in place the legislative framework to enable Ireland become a  contracting party to the ADR — the European agreement concerning the international carriage of dangerous goods by road. The Bill will also provide the framework for bringing into Irish law two important and related European Union directives. The first and most important of those directives is Directive 94/55/EC of 21 November 1994 on the approximation of the laws of the member states with regard to the transport of dangerous goods by road. Essentially the purpose of this directive is to apply the technical provisions of the ADR to the national or domestic transport of dangerous goods of each member state.
The second directive referred to is Directive 95/50 of 6 October 1995 on uniform procedures for checks on the transport of dangerous goods by road. The objective of the directive, as its name implies, is to ensure that member states check a representative proportion of consignments of dangerous goods being transported by road within their territories. The purpose of the checks is to ensure that road movements of dangerous goods are in compliance with the laws of the state and thereby with the detailed provisions of the ADR.
Members will appreciate that these three initiatives constitute a comprehensive response to ensuring that dangerous goods in transit on the roads both domestically and internationally adhere to the highest standards and are seen to do so.
I will now describe in a little more detail each of the three main elements with which the Bill deals. The first is the European agreement concerning the international carriage of goods by road. As the name implies, the agreement regulates the transport of dangerous goods by road across borders in Europe. The agreement was drawn up in 1957 and came into force on 29 July 1968. There are now 33 signatories to the agreement and Ireland is the only member state of the European Union that is not a signatory.
The agreement is short and relatively simple. It consists of 15 articles which define the scope and method of operation of the agreement. A key article is Article 2 which effectively paves the way for the carriage of dangerous goods by road between the territories of the contracting parties. Article 3 specifies that such dangerous goods may be moved internationally in road vehicles provided that the packaging and labelling are in accordance with technical Annex A of the agreement, and the vehicle construction, equipment and operation are in accordance with technical Annex B to the agreement.
Article 1 defines the terms used in the agreement. Article 2 lays down the conditions under which dangerous goods are to be carried, that is in compliance with the annexes to the agreement.
Article 3 states that annexes A and B to the agreement form an integral part thereof. Annex A specifies the dangerous goods which are permitted to be carried internationally by road and the conditions to be complied with in such carriage,  including packaging and labelling requirements. It also specifies goods that are prohibited from such carriage.
Annex B specifies conditions as regards the construction, use, testing and approval of transport equipment intended for use in the carriage of dangerous goods by road and the training and certification of drivers of vehicles carrying dangerous goods by road.
Article 4 allows contracting parties to regulate or prohibit, for reasons other than safety during carriage, the entry of dangerous goods into their territory. It also provides for circumstances where contracting parties, by virtue of bilateral or multilateral agreements with other contracting parties, can allow the carriage of certain prohibited dangerous goods under special conditions.
Article 5 provides that transport operations under this agreement remain subject to national and international regulations applicable in general to road traffic, international road transport and international trade.
Articles 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 of the ADR are housekeeping articles related to such matters as accession, the effective date of the agreement, ceasing to become a contracting party and territories of contracting parties.
Articles 11 and 12 are concerned with the procedure for settlement of a dispute between two or more contracting parties concerning the interpretation or application of the agreement.
Article 13 deals with the procedure for reviewing the text of the agreement while Article 14 is concerned with the procedure for the amendment of the annexes to this agreement.
Articles 15, 16 and 17 deal with the protocols of signature and ratification of the agreement.
The real substance of the ADR is contained in the annexes to which I referred earlier. The annexes specify the technical requirements which must be met when transporting dangerous goods internationally by road. Annex A to the agreement lists the dangerous goods that may be carried and deals with the classification of those goods, packaging, labelling and documentary requirements. These issues are of concern to the consignor of the load. Annex B deals with the vehicle and tank construction requirements and the rules for operation which are the responsibilities of the carrier, the operator and the driver of the vehicle.
The system of classification of dangerous goods under ADR follows as closely as possible the Recommendations of the Transport of Dangerous Goods, drawn up by the United Nations Economic and Social Council's Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods. This system is designed to apply world-wide to all transport modes. Dangerous goods are divided into nine different classes according to the main type of danger they could present in transport, for example, explosion or toxicity.
Annex A classifies dangerous goods as follows: class 1 — explosive substances and articles; class 2 — gases; class 3 — flammable liquids; class 4 —  flammable solids, substances liable to spontaneous combustion and substances which, in contact with water, emit flammable gases; class 5 — oxidising substances and organic peroxides; class 6 — toxic and infectious substances; class 7 — radioactive material; class 8 — corrosive substances; class 9 — miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles.
The technical annexes lay down detailed and comprehensive requirements for each of the nine classes of dangerous goods. The movement of dangerous goods is in some special cases exempt from the rules of the ADR, for example, where the goods are carried by a private individual for their own use, inside machines for their operational function, in limited quantities by an enterprise in support of its main activity, such as deliveries by a construction firm to a building site, or in emergency service or recovery vehicles.
If part of an ADR journey comes under other international rules such as the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code, for a sea crossing, those rules also apply and replace the equivalent ADR rules for that part of the journey. This is particularly relevant for multi-modal operations. If an ADR journey precedes and follows carriage by sea or air, the goods shall be accepted for carriage under ADR even if the packages and containers are labelled in accordance with the sea or air mode rather than with the ADR.
The second instrument the Bill makes provision for is European Directive 94/55 of 21 November, 1994, on the approximation of laws of the member states with regard to the transport of dangerous goods by road.
Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted and 20 Members being present,
Mr. Jacob Mr. Jacob
Mr. Jacob: The purpose of that directive is to apply the detailed and comprehensive rules contained in the annexes to the ADR to national transport of dangerous goods by road. Thus, all transport of dangerous goods either entering the State, leaving the State for an international destination or on a journey from point A to point B within the State are comprehended by the rules. The stringent international rules for the transport of dangerous goods between countries will apply to domestic transport of dangerous goods under the new regime. The directive was introduced in the interest of uniformity and free trading across the European Union.
In recognition of the fact that the ADR, being an international agreement, cannot always be adapted to national transport conditions and requirements, the directive contains a number of articles which provide for the granting of derogations from the full requirements of the ADR. The derogation facility in the directive has been availed of by Ireland in a number of instances where local conditions merited such.
There are a number of important derogations. Vehicles engaged in the transport of dangerous goods at 31 December 1996, can continue in use  provided they meet national requirements in place at the time. Tanks engaged in transport of dangerous goods can continue in use under similar conditions and new tanks can continue to be constructed up to 1 January 1999 under existing construction requirements. Reference temperatures which determine the shell thickness of LPG tanks suitable to our climatic conditions have been accepted, as thicker shells are required in hotter regions of southern Europe and there is also a derogation relating to explosives which allows for such transport here associated with the continued security arrangements. Ireland has also negotiated derogations to cover the transport of ammonium nitrate fertiliser, dispensing gases carried on the same vehicle as beverages, transport of low level radioactive material to hospitals and transport of clinical waste.
The directive provides the right to prohibit the transport of certain dangerous goods within a territory for reasons other than safety during transport, for example, national security or environmental protection. The directive also prohibits the introduction of more stringent regulations for national transport. However, if existing safety provisions are found, through incident or accident, to be insufficient and urgent action is required, member states may implement increased measures following consultation with the Commission.
The final element of the package concerns Directive 95/50/EEC on uniform procedures and levels of enforcement relating to the checking of compliance with Directive 94/55/EEC. The main purpose of Directive 95/50/EEC is to ensure member states carry out checks on a representative number of dangerous goods journeys in the State.
The types of checks to be carried out are detailed in the directive and must be carried out at different places, at any time of the day and cover a sufficiently extensive portion of the road network to make checkpoints difficult to avoid. The checks must ascertain if the correct documents are being carried in the vehicle, if the goods being transported are permitted under the regulations and, if so, that they are being transported in the correct containers or packages and that the equipment is in proper working order and is free from leaks or faults. These checks may not be carried out as frontier checks at the internal frontiers of the Community, but as part of normal checks without discrimination. Checks may also be carried out at premises.
Members will agree that accession to the ADR and the bringing into law of the two directives constitutes a comprehensive body of legislation relating to the carriage of dangerous goods. The signing of the regulations now in preparation will complete the final pillar of the regime. With that legislation in place Ireland will be on a par with the highest standards of domestic as well as international transport of dangerous goods by road.
I assure Deputies that all the legislative elements we are in the process of putting in place  does not mean that carriage of dangerous goods by road in Ireland at present is not meeting high standards. A range of statutory instruments, made pursuant to the Dangerous Substances Acts, 1972 and 1979, already cover the conveyance of all dangerous substances with the exception of class 1, explosives, and class 7, radioactive materials. The carriage of explosives is covered under by-laws and rules made under the Explosives Act, 1875, and the transport of radioactive materials is covered by an order made under the Radiological Protection Act, 1991. One of the values of the new regime is it brings together all provisions relating to carriage of dangerous goods by road in one set of regulations backed up with the detailed ADR annexes.
I am pleased to confirm that driver training and certification have been in place in Ireland since 1992. Further, by virtue of a statutory instrument introduced in 1997, the more rigorous requirements of the ADR specification for driver training are in place. A number of providers of driver training courses have been approved by the Health and Safety Authority and the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. Under the regulations, my Department arranges for the examination of drivers as soon as possible after they have completed the course. The examination consists of a written and oral test set by the Health and Safety Authority. Approximately 5,000 Irish drivers have the necessary certificate at this stage which has ensured that transport of dangerous goods by road has continued uninterrupted. The training course teaches drivers the necessary requirements concerning handling, loading and unloading, documentation, equipment marking, emergency procedures and protective clothing. Drivers successful at the examination receive the necessary certificate, but it does not stop there. Each driver must attend a refresher course every five years to ensure he or she remains fully trained and au fait with up to date developments in the carriage of dangerous goods. This process will continue under the proposed new regulations to be made pursuant to this Bill.
I do not propose to go into detail on each section of the Bill. Deputies have a comprehensive explanatory and financial memorandum which provides a detailed commentary on the provisions of the Bill as well as a general background. However, there are some significant elements of the Bill which deserve mention. It is essentially an enabling Bill and the objective is the establishment of a framework for applying the detailed and comprehensive technical requirements set out in the annexes to the ADR. In accordance with section 17, the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment is empowered to make regulations from time to time for the purposes of specifying the requirements concerning the carriage of dangerous goods by road as they evolve. The Bill proposes that the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment will  make the necessary regulations while the Minister for Public Enterprise promotes the Bill.
The ADR was drawn up in 1957 and came into force in 1961. In the absence of steps to ratify it elsewhere, the drafting of the necessary legislation was taken on board by the old Department of Transport as accession to the ADR would have been of assistance to Irish hauliers engaged in international haulage of dangerous goods by road. In endeavouring to bring forward the necessary legislation and have the ADR ratified in Ireland, my Department always intended to transfer responsibility back to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, where responsibility properly lies. The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment has overall responsibility for the Health and Safety Authority which will be the principal enforcement body and which will also enforce regulations for the handling and storing of dangerous goods generally. It is thought that it would be confusing for the public and industry if responsibility for the handling and storing of dangerous goods in a factory lay with one Minister while responsibility for their transportation lay with another.
Considerable work has already been carried out on the necessary regulations, which the Minister is enabled to make pursuant to section 17. Preparation of the regulations is proceeding apace through the work of an interdepartmental committee comprising representatives from a number of Departments and State agencies. Bodies represented on this committee include the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the Department of the Environment and Local Government, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, my own Department of Public Enterprise, the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland, the National Authority for Occupational Safety and Health and the National Standards Authority of Ireland. The regulations have the very important value of bringing all the elements associated with the carriage of dangerous goods by road together in one document or set of statutory regulations. These regulations, when read in conjunction with the annexes to the ADR, will be invaluable to industry, haulage concerns and drivers alike. For the first time, it will bring together in one place the laws and technical requirements necessary to inform persons engaged in the transport of all dangerous substances, including explosives and radioactive materials.
A second significant element is the need to ensure that comprehensive and representative numbers of checks are carried out and breaches dealt with in a non-discriminatory fashion. This is prompted by the requirements of Directive 95/50/EC of 6 October 1995 on uniform procedures for checks on the transport of dangerous goods by road. Accordingly, it is necessary to provide for adequate sanction against national and international hauliers. To this end, section 9 is designed to ensure breaches of the Bill or regulations made thereunder can be prosecuted  against out of state carriers in the course of a journey carrying dangerous goods within the State. This will be achieved by arresting any driver who a garda has reason to believe is committing or has committed an offence and, in the opinion of the garda, has not given a satisfactory address for service of summons. The Bill defines a satisfactory address as one at which the person will be for a sufficient length of time for it to be possible to serve him or her with a summons, or an address of some other specified person who will accept a summons on the first person's behalf. In such cases, the address of a firm of solicitors in the State which undertakes to accept summonses on behalf of the driver will satisfy this provision. The section is similar to a provision in the United Kingdom Police and Criminal Evidence Act, 1934, which is used extensively by the UK police authorities to deal with out of state hauliers in breach of road traffic and transport legislation in Britain.
In the case of a driver of a vehicle being arrested under this section, the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1967, as amended by section 3 of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1997, come into effect. Under the procedure the arrested driver is brought to the nearest Garda station and brought as soon as practicable before the District Court in the district in which he was arrested or released on bail to appear at the next appropriate sitting on the District Court. Bail can be set by the station sergeant in accordance with section 31 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1967 and can be in the form of recognisance or a sum of money lodged in the relevant District Court to the court clerk. If the driver fails to appear before the court at the appointed time, an application can be made under the relevant District Court rule to entreat the recognisance or to forfeit the sum of money.
Another initiative in this area is the proposal in section 18 to introduce on the spot fines in respect of offences under the regulations made pursuant to section 17. This section is an enabling one and it will be a matter for the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment to prescribe the class of offences which will be dealt with under the section. An inspector who has reasonable grounds for believing a person is committing an offence under the regulations may issue a notice to that person stating he or she is alleged to have committed the offence, that he or she may make a payment of £150 without delay to the inspector and that a prosecution will not be pursued if the payment is made to the inspector without delay. This provision is significantly different from existing on-the-spot fines.
The current system is an invitation to pay a certain amount of money within 21 days. Prosecution will not ensure payment is made. The system proposed in the Bill is an invitation to pay £150 without delay to an enforcing inspector. If the driver refuses to pay, or does not have a satisfactory address for service of summons, the provisions  of section 9 come into play. If the driver has a satisfactory address for summons and does not pay the fine, he can be prosecuted in the normal manner. The fine is currently set at £150. However, the Minister may vary this amount by way of regulations at any time to take account of inflation, if it is felt a fine set at this level is not a sufficient deterrent or if the offences demand greater fines. Flexibility is provided in the Bill as to the currencies and the methods of payment which will be acceptable.
This is an enabling or framework Bill in that the bulk of the technical detail of the legislation will be implemented by way of secondary legislation. This proposed statutory instrument will implement the technical requirements of the ADR and the directives. Essentially this is the content of the annexes of the ADR as described earlier. These annexes are revised by technical experts from the contracting parties to keep pace with the technological improvements in the areas of vehicle and equipment construction and in safety matters.
The annexes are updated at least every two years and include such amendments as valve design, thickness of tank walls and detailed elements of equipment construction, volumes of goods and articles which can be transported and the specification of packaging to be used. It is considered these technical changes would be more appropriate to secondary legislation. The House should be aware that, in accordance with section 19 of the Bill, each regulation and amendment to a regulation will be laid before the Dáil and the Seanad. Deputies and Senators may debate the regulations if they wish at that stage.
The regulations to be introduced will cover the following areas: the carriage of dangerous goods within the State or into the State, or from the State into the territory of another contracting party; the type, approval, examination, testing, certification, marking and labelling of transport equipment to be used in the carriage of dangerous goods; the approval of training courses for drivers of vehicles carrying dangerous goods by road, the examination of such drivers who have undertaken approved training and the granting of training certificates to those drivers who have passed an approved examination after such training; the recognition of tests, certificates or approvals undertaken or granted by a competent authority of another contracting party; the revocation of any approval or certificate issued by a competent authority; equipment to be provided on vehicles carrying dangerous goods by road; transport documents to be carried on vehicles carrying dangerous goods by road; the notification of accidents or dangerous occurrences arising from the carriage of dangerous goods by road; and the supervision and monitoring of competent authorities, bodies or persons in respect of any tasks or functions assigned to them.
The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment may make consequential, supplementary and ancillary provisions as are necessary  for the purposes of the regulations. The regulations may amend or revoke statutory instruments made under the Dangerous Substances Acts, 1972-1979, the Explosives Act, 1875, the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 1989 and the European Communities Act, 1972, in so far as they relate to the carriage of dangerous goods by road. It is the intention that all provisions and requirements relating to the carriage of dangerous goods by road will be set out in one comprehensive set of regulations to be made pursuant to this Act. I commend the Bill to the House.
Mr. Yates Mr. Yates
Mr. Yates: I welcome the Bill. It is overdue but it will be supported by Fine Gael. I have some memoranda relating to the last Government covering the period 1995. I would have thought this Bill was more advanced at that time and should have been enacted earlier this year.
There are grave problems in the road haulage sector for which the Minister of State has responsibility. He attended the conference of the IRHA. There are major problems of illegal haulage and poor enforcement of existing legislation, not to speak of new legislation. I wish to focus on enforcement which is the key issue of this debate. There is still no legislation on consignor liability. I have a copy of a Bill published by the former Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications, Deputy Dukes, on 25 March 1997. This was an uncontroversial Bill, but it has never seen the light of day.
Mr. Jacob Mr. Jacob
Mr. Jacob: That Bill contained a number of inadequacies.
Mr. Yates Mr. Yates
Mr. Yates: I have been lobbied strongly, as has the Minister of State, to have the consignor liability subject to legislative reform. For the benefit of the House, consignor liability would ensure the industry using the haulage sector bears some responsibility for breaches of regulations, rather than having the poor driver bear the brunt of every misdemeanour. This is a critical issue for the industry and I regret the constipation in the Department of Public Enterprise in failing to come forward with relevant legislation. I have spoken repeatedly about the 1932 Act. We are in a time warp when it comes to road and bus transport and we are way behind our European neighbours and obligations.
The Minister of State will be aware of the chronic problem for the haulage industry whereby people are going out of business and there are no stable rates. One of the Government's tactics is to announce a review whenever there is a thorny issue which needs political action. It kicks to touch to buy time, peace and consensus. The review produces a report which gathers dust. Then there is a change of Government and nothing really changes. The Minister of State will be judged by his actions not by his reviews.
There have been upheavals in Dublin Port.  There have also been problems caused by the French drivers' strike and the blockages of beef at English and Welsh ports which have added to the tale of woe and attrition to which the Irish haulage industry has been subjected. In its budgetary policy or elsewhere, I do not detect any sign that the Government has an understanding of the difficulties faced by the haulage sector. This industry is vital to our competitiveness given that we are an island which exports 80 per cent of what we produce. With 3.5 million people we cannot live off our own consumption. The haulage industry needs a lot more than compliance with conventions signed in 1994. We need real action and proactive policies to deal with the problems.
There was a clever line in the Minister of State's speech which roughly stated that the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment would take responsibility for this matter as it has responsibility for chemicals and dangerous substances in factories. People will say that that is plausible. However, from my experience as a Minister, I know Departments try to distance themselves from issues which are not sexy, which do not present Ministers with photo opportunities, or which involve a lot of administration and enforcement. All aspects of the haulage industry should come under the Department of Public Enterprise. This is a haulage and a transport issue. The Minister is at pains to say his Department has taken responsibility for the legislation and is complying with its obligations. That is typical of the attitude of this Government and the Department of Public Enterprise to the key issue of enforcement.
I have long believed that whether it is the tacograph, laden weights, inadequate tax or insurance or cowboy operators, there is a need for a dedicated cohort of people to enforce regulations in the haulage sector, for which this legislation is the latest layer. There is no will whatsoever in this legislation for the Department of Public Enterprise to take its responsibility seriously in this regard, hence it wants to shift this matter as quickly as possible to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment which will need more Ministers simply to keep pace, given its responsibilities for exports and a myriad of State agencies. I do not know how the Tánaiste can memorise her list of responsibilities, not to mention doing an effective job. We need a strong Minister for Transport, who has responsibility for traffic.
Mr. Jacob Mr. Jacob
Mr. Jacob: We have one.
Mr. Yates Mr. Yates
Mr. Yates: The gridlock issue is fundamental. There is the question of whether freight in Dublin should be delivered at night instead of in the morning and whether heavy goods vehicles should be in the city. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy O'Donoghue, refers the matter to the Minister for the Environment and Local Government, Deputy Dempsey,  who in turn refers it to the Minister for Public Enterprise, Deputy O'Rourke, while the Minister of State with responsibility for transport has no grip.
Mr. O'Flynn Mr. O'Flynn
Mr. O'Flynn: It is amazing that all the problems started only after 26 June 1997.
Mr. Yates Mr. Yates
Mr. Yates: I know how busy the Deputy is in Cork at present and I wish him well, but not that well. This legislation highlights that there is no effective enforcement of haulage legislation per se. It has been my view for some time that we need a dedicated transport ministry that can deal with traffic, gridlock, illegal haulage and so on so. Members of the Garda Síochána are more interested in solving murders than operation free-flow, and rightly so.
This is a crucial issue and I welcome the progress made by Dublin Corporation under Owen Keegan. I welcome also the clamping of vehicles by a private company and getting the traffic wardens focused on all the traffic issues. That is a step in the right direction and perhaps it could be expanded nationwide to deal with tacographs, diesel use, insurance and so on. Quick buck merchants come in, undercut and leave a tale of woe behind. That is what is destroying the haulage industry. I have experience of people being left with bad debts and horrific problems.
What puzzles me about this legislation is that quite an amount of dangerous substances are carried by rail. An accident in Glasnevin last year which involved a derailment could have had serious implications. Prior to its closure, huge convoys of chemicals were transported to Asahi by rail. In this regard, the Minister will be aware of IFI in Cork and Arklow. Will he clarify the representative proportion of consignments of dangerous goods being transported by rail within the territory that are being checked? Does this convention apply to the movement of all surface dangerous substances haulage? Given the incident at Glasnevin and the concerns that genuinely arise, this matter needs to be addressed.
Will the Minister clarify the classes of dangerous goods, one to nine, which were outlined in Annex A. It is not clear whether oil spillages are included. If one listens to AA Roadwatch one will know that a frequent cause of road mayhem is oil spillage. A tragic fatal accident occurred in my constituency during the summer which could have been due, in part, to an oil spillage. I was told at the national ploughing championship last week that there was an oil spillage at New Ross bridge where there was bedlam. A penalty of £150 is not sufficient for an oil spillage. Of all the flammable substances transported the greatest, volume-wise and traffic journey-wise, would be oil, diesel, petroleum products and so on. What spot-checks are taking place and where do petroleum products fit into classes one to nine of Annex A?
On the question of overseas drivers——
Mr. Jacob Mr. Jacob
 Mr. Jacob: I knew the Deputy would welcome that provision because it was conspicuous by its absence from the legislation he mentioned earlier. That is the reason I held it up.
Mr. Yates Mr. Yates
Mr. Yates: ——the Minister referred to the Criminal Procedure Act, 1967, as amended by section 3 of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1997. He outlined the procedure whereby the arrested driver would be brought to the nearest Garda station, the District Court and that bail could be set. If the driver fails to appear before the court at the appointed time, the bail can be forfeited. The Minister of State will be aware of another fatal accident around Arklow in which an Italian driver was allegedly involved. He was brought before the court recently. He has returned to Italy and has promised to return here. We are now facing a situation where bail could be the end outcome in terms of its forfeiture. What is the situation? Are judges advised on what would be an appropriate level of bail? Is this reflected in the legislation given that people may have no intention of returning. While the procedure has been set out, in reality once people get bail they may not return. Perhaps the Minister will clarify the position.
In his contribution the Minister said the objective of the directive was to ensure a representative proportion of consignments of dangerous goods being transported by road would be checked. What is the present level of checking and what is the proposed future level of checking? Is it 1 per cent or 10 per cent? Does it apply only in certain parts of the country or is it more prevalent in the Border region? Is it the case that when a memorandum is sent to the Garda Commissioner something happens, but that most of the time nothing happens? The principal enforcement body will be the Health and Safety Authority. What experience has that authority in dealing with haulage matters? I understand this is the first time it has been given responsibility in this area.
Mr. Jacob Mr. Jacob
Mr. Jacob: It is being retained by me.
Mr. Yates Mr. Yates
Mr. Yates: What staff numbers and resources are being provided for this task? My fear is that we sign up to our international obligations thereby covering ourselves——
Mr. Jacob Mr. Jacob
Mr. Jacob: We will increase the figure.
Mr. Yates Mr. Yates
Mr. Yates: We will find out exactly what the situation is. I did not hear the Minister of State interrupting me on the issue of consignor liability. I would welcome good news from him on that matter.
Mr. Jacob Mr. Jacob
Mr. Jacob: I will have that soon. I share the passionate feeling of the Deputy.
Mr. Yates Mr. Yates
Mr. Yates: Soon never comes. I note the liaison with local authorities which will occur. It is very important that local authorities are involved.  I have no real objection to the driver training requirements referred to by the Minister, although I hope there is proper enforcement. The fines seem very low relative to the value of the product being transported. Perhaps they are not sufficiently high to form an effective deterrent. I would also like the Minister of State to clarify the situation in relation to the marine and aviation freight aspects of the Bill. In the context of ro-ro I understand there is an international maritime dangerous goods code, but is there an identical parallel between the two codes and what is contained in the legislation?
It is not our intention to delay the passage of the Bill. A memorandum from the road haulage division of the Department dated 15 May 1995 — I am sure little has changed in the division — states:
at the end of 1994 the EU decided that ADR should be applied to national transport from 1 January 1997. A revised scheme of Bill is now being prepared to take account of this development.
By the date of this memorandum the parliamentary draftsman's office had completed the work. I have already referred to the constipation which is evident. There seems to be a total logjam in the section in terms of legislation. Alternatively, perhaps the issue is lacking in political priority.
We welcome this overdue legislation which we are obliged to enact given that we have signed the convention and in the context of our obligations under the EU directive. I request specific clarification on the rail issue and the need to tighten up the supervision of dangerous goods. I condemn the Government for its failure to get to grips with the importance of the haulage sector. Reviews are not the answer. A proper livelihood with a professional structure availing of telematics and other just-in-time techniques is the way forward. I very much regret that consignor liability legislation has not been brought forward, especially when the legislation has already been drawn up. We might introduce it during Private Members' time if the delay continues.
The most important point is that all too often in this and other areas we are very good at ultimately enacting more statutory declarations and statutory instruments but are very poor in terms of effective enforcement. This means that hauliers who are registered, legitimate and covered for every element of red tape have a huge cost penalty in comparison to cowboys who take a chance and decide not to comply with regulations and who are rewarded due to the lack of effective enforcement. All the hallmarks of this problem exist in the context of this legislation, with comments being made that the issue is one for the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Harney, or the Minister of State, Deputy Kitt. It is a bad attitude to take and a fundamental reappraisal of the situation, whereby a Department  of transport would take responsibility for transport and the haulage sector and put in place an effective corps of people to police the legislation, should take place.
Mr. Jacob Mr. Jacob
Mr. Jacob: I am delighted to tidy up the matter after three years of inactivity. All issues raised will be answered.
Mr. Broughan Mr. Broughan
Mr. Broughan: In general I welcome the very belated introduction of this important Bill. The regulations it seeks to embody in Irish law have existed since 1968 and were in gestation for a decade before that. We are the only member of the EU which did not accede to the ADr. It seems remarkable that it has taken since October 1991 to bring forward the heads of a Bill to cover this issue, something which seems to be the result of the interdepartmental and inter-agency wrangling which Deputy Yates referred to. In saying this I am not criticising the Minister of State or objecting to the sonorous tones in which he delivered the Bill. However, the legislation seems to have been viewed as a tar baby which various Ministers have been throwing around from one to the other over the years, determined that it would not stick. The unfortunate Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment has finally got responsibility to deliver the legislation.
I commend some of the comments made about the difficulties the haulage industry may have in relation to costs and I want to question the Minister about some of the derogations he mentioned. The Bill says that some of the testing and checking procedures will be effectively self-financing. I cannot see how this could possibly be the case in the context of carrying out the remit of the ADR, its annexes and the other two directives.
As the Labour Party spokesperson for enterprise, trade and employment I am substituting for my colleague, Deputy Stagg, who has pressing business in the south. It seems the National Authority for Occupational Safety and Health is already grossly overburdened and I cannot see, even given the recent publications of the Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Deputy Kitt, how this will change or how we can bring a reasonable standard to bear in terms of implementing the ADR.
The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment was responsible for the Dangerous Substances Act, 1972, the Dangerous Substances (Amendment) Act, 1979, and the original 1989 Act, but the previous Department of Labour over the years strenuously resisted the role of supervision and inspection, at least up to the past hour when such resistance was effectively ended by the Minister of State's speech.
A huge range of bodies has been involved in this difficult gestation, including the Departments of Public Enterprise, Foreign Affairs, Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the Environment and Local Government, Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Agriculture and Food and Health and
 Children, the National Authority for Occupational Safety and Health, local authorities, the fire authorities, Enterprise Ireland, the Radiological Protection Institution of Ireland, the Garda and health boards. It seems particularly inappropriate that the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment did not introduce the Bill if it is to be the relevant inspection authority. I look forward to the Minister's reply and perhaps clarification regarding the confusion which seems to exist. The Departments of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the NAOSH and the RPII are specifically referred to in section 5 as being supervising authorities. Clarification of their various roles should be provided.
The Minister outlined a number of derogations, one of which was that vehicles engaged in the transport of dangerous goods at 31 December, 1996, can continue in use provided they meet national requirements. Does the Minister not consider such a derogation dangerous? Tanks engaged in the transport of dangerous goods can also continue in use under similar conditions and new tanks can continue to be constructed up to 1 January 1999 under existing construction requirements. We could be well into the new millennium before the regulations referred to come into effect. The Minister also mentioned reference temperatures which determine the shell thickness of LPG tanks suitable to our climate; thicker shells are required in hotter regions of southern Europe. How does that derogation meet the requirements for international travel and carriage when a chemical product could be transported from our country into a southern climate? There is also a derogation relating to explosives and security arrangements.
This legislation has never been more necessary, both for the industry itself and for the general public. Reference was made to the train derailment at Glasnevin in the middle of a high population centre. The north side is well known for its computer and electronics industry, but there is an increasing level of chemical industry in the area, often sponsored by the IDA. The south side of Cork is also famous for its massive concentration of chemical industry. Because of the poor nature of our roads infrastructure, many major national routes still pass through or around small provincial towns. The Bill is opportune given the increasing concerns many citizens have in regard to pollution and the possibility of dangerous accidents.
What regulations apply to the rail service? When I was carrying out research for the purposes of this debate, I could not find any relevant directives in this regard. The international maritime dangerous goods code covers sea transport, but what rules apply to carriage by rail, especially in the light of projected new investment for Iarnród Éireann and its possible involvement in the transport of goods, including perhaps some toxic goods? The Minister also referred to air travel.  I represent a constituency situated very close to our major airport. Huge amounts of freight are being carried over centres of population, such as Portmarnock, Coolock and so on. How can we protect those citizens? The protection of citizens and workers must be a key concern.
In general, the Labour Party welcomes the Bill and the fact it meets the requirements of the ADR and European Directives 94/55/EC and 95/50. We welcome the adjustment of domestic law to take account of the higher requirements of ADr. Extra responsibilities have been conferred on the Garda in recent years in regard to traffic management and the blitz against dangerous criminals. We may impose a further burden on them by asking them to enforce this legislation. The Minister may wish to address that issue. I welcome the establishment of a comprehensive set of regulations which will ensure Irish vehicles meet the highest criteria in this industry which is vital to our economic success.
I was not aware developments in the area of driver training testing had occurred as swiftly as the Minister outlined. He referred to the new systems of training and certification which have been put in place since 1992 and to the 1997 statutory instrument. Some 5,000 Irish drivers hold the necessary certificates at this stage. I welcome that because in the past bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Transport in Ireland expressed concerns about the level of ability and engineering knowledge drivers required to protect themselves and others. High quality training is the key in this area and any further development is to be welcomed. I do not know if a specific formal training course will be available under the new regulations the Bill will introduce. Some of the information received from the industry indicates a lack of standardisation in the level of training drivers are receiving.
Annex A outlines a wide range of goods which will be tested. Oil spillages also pose a threat. To what extent are they covered by the Bill? I presume it is covered in the full annexe on the file before me.
On the question of the haggling over costs which has been going on in the interdepartmental committee which has met on this over a number of years, we are told there will be no costs of real significance and that perhaps 3,000 to 5,000 vehicles and drivers may be affected. I wonder if that view can be reconciled with the current role of the National Authority for Occupational Safety and Health. I wonder as well, if there is not a further role for Enterprise Ireland or the old Forbairt in the testing and checks which are necessary in this regard. I understand they used to carry these out on a contract basis for various companies in relation to road vehicles and air travel. It is unbelievable, with the current crisis in health and safety administration here, that we are giving the chalice to the National Authority for Occupational Safety and Health because it seems that over the past year and a half the health and  safety performance of Irish industry has seriously deteriorated.
Looking at the figures, some of which were included in the report of the health and safety authority the other day, there appears to be a pattern developing of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment not conveying reports and information immediately to Opposition spokespersons and Deputies. I know it is not the responsibility of the Minister's Department but perhaps he might carry the matter to Government. I raised it with the Taoiseach about six months ago. I refer particularly to the 1977 report on health and safety about which there was significant publicity last week and which still has not arrived on my desk or on Deputy Owen's desk either. This is the fourth or fifth report we have awaited only to see it published in a sudden press release on a Sunday or not presented in a credible way. Perhaps that does not happen in the Department of Public Enterprise. I hope not. It has happened in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment on a very consistent basis.
From the press releases and from the speeches of the Minister of State, Deputy Tom Kitt, we can see there is a serious crisis in health and safety administration here. Between 1992 and 1997 accidents in industry increased by about 18 per cent. Since 1996 the accident rate has gone up by 14 per cent. If one looks at the rate per 100,000 employees over the past nine years, the rate has gone from 1,268 accidents in 1996 to 719 per 100,000. That is a very significant increase. Despite that increase the Minister of State, Deputy Tom Kitt, and the Minister for Enterprise and Employment, Deputy Harney, are prepared to give only the princely total of 13 extra staff for occupational health and safety and to boost the inspection staff to something like 130 to 140, which is still a very small inspectorate. I wonder how the extra work which the Minister is now transferring to the health and safety authority can possibly be carried out with such meagre resources.
It is probably unnecessary to mention the catastrophes in the construction industry relating to a number of deaths on sites in Dublin and on small sites around the country which were raised on several occasions in this House on the Order of Business. Our colleagues in SIPTU, particularly the secretary, Eric Fleming, have fought a courageous battle in raising this issue during the summer and early autumn and seeking fundamental extra resources. Opposition Deputies can ask the Minister for the resources, but the only people who can allocate extra resources are Ministers.
As the Minister probably knows, I hope in the next week or so to publish a health and safety Bill on behalf of the Labour Party which, since I cannot introduce a money Bill to bring in extra resources, will seek to immensely improve safety and standards in relation to the construction industry by building health and safety plans into local authority planning permissions. In other  words, before permission will be granted there will have to be an outline plan on how a site will be conducted. I will also demand that the appointment of safety representatives will be compulsory.
Most disappointing of all, the penalties here for non-compliance are too soft. The spot fine of £150, which I know can be increased, seems derisory in relation to the value of loads carried on some of these giant vehicles. The summary fine of £1,500 or 12 months imprisonment seems very little. In my Bill I hope to introduce an unlimited fine and a jail sentence of up to ten years. The Minister might look again at that in his Bill to see if he could bring in serious fines and penalties. A previous Minister in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the former Deputy Eithne Fitzgerald, said in one of her speeches a couple of years ago that it would not do to bring in these regulations on a wing and a prayer. The key is enforcement, and the Government must be prepared to bear the cost of that. I ask the Minister to look at that again.
To go back to the major incident in Glasnevin, which was referred to on a couple of occasions here tonight, has the Minister considered the strategies that are necessary for local government to deal with a disaster in this area whether in relation to the carriage of dangerous substances by road, rail, air or otherwise? I know we have a peacetime emergency plan and the Civil Defence, but I am not sure to what extent those plans have been reviewed in recent years and made more effective. Representing a highly industrialised area on the north side of Dublin, I am concerned, as are Deputies representing the south side of Cork, to know how we will react if, despite everything we have done to make transport of these substances as safe as possible, there is an accident. Will there be any reference in the various annexes attached to this document to the kind of emergency plan that should be in existence? We are not talking of something that is extremely unlikely to happen because in my constituency and in the neighbouring Dublin North constituency there have been a few serious accidents where insulation made of plastic went on fire or where trucks crashed and significant fires resulted, and evacuations had to be carried out. I presume it is another Department that is responsible for this area, but it is something which we are concerned about and the Government might look at it again.
At the moment all our local authorities, Fingal County Council, Dublin City Council and others around the country are making new development plans for the next five years in the various counties and county boroughs. It would be useful to have a strategic environment assessment built into those plans to take account of the routes through our constituencies and the various concentrations of industry and their relationship to housing. I live in a highly industrialised zone with industry on three sides of the part of the constituency in which I live. While myself and other local  representatives, such as the former Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, obviously welcomed industry to such locations over the years, the sheer concentration of industry now presents its own difficulties. We should try to embody in the planning process some of the principles which the Minister is rightly imposing on the transport industry in this Bill. Will the Minister be liaising with local authorities on this matter? Will he ask them to embody this in the development plans for places such as Dublin city and Fingal?
As I mentioned, the Minister could look again at the issue of penalties. However, in general terms, I welcome the Bill which the Labour Party will be delighted to support. I have raised a number of issues. It is unfortunate that the Bill's gestation and preparation was such a lengthy process and that the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment is not in the Chamber because she will be responsible for its implementation and the cost of its enforcement.
The Minister should convey to the Government the feeling on much of the Opposition benches that more resources must be spent on the health and safety area; for example, there is a cost/benefit relationship between good safety practice in business and higher output. The Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, mentioned recently that 16,000 or 18,000 jobs are lost through people being injured in accidents at work. There is a clear correlation between saving some money in the long term and taking action now by investing real money in health and safety. I hope when I have the opportunity in the coming months to present my own health and safety Bill that the Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, and the Tánaiste will not as usual throw out the Bill but will embrace it and seek to build it into the legislation.
I am interested in hearing the Minister's comments on the derogations, penalties and rail transport.
Mr. O'Flynn Mr. O'Flynn
Mr. O'Flynn: I wish to share time with Deputy Daly.
Acting Chairman (Mrs. Barnes) Acting Chairman (Mrs. Barnes)
Acting Chairman (Mrs. Barnes): Is that agreed? Agreed.
Mr. O'Flynn Mr. O'Flynn
Mr. O'Flynn: I congratulate the Minister on bringing this Bill before the House and the simple clarity of his speech on this very technical legislation. I agree with many of the points Deputy Yates made on the road haulage industry and the enforcement of existing regulations by the Department of Public Enterprise and other Government agencies.
It is a pity Deputy Yates spoiled his contribution by blaming the Government for all the ills which have befallen the country. I have been in Dublin frequently since only 26 June 1997. Was there gridlock in Dublin before that date or did it all start after it?
Mr. Broughan Mr. Broughan
Mr. Broughan: It just got worse.
Mr. Crawford Mr. Crawford
 Mr. Crawford: Deputy O'Flynn was not here to listen to the then Opposition — what Deputy Yates said was very mild.
Mr. O'Flynn Mr. O'Flynn
Mr. O'Flynn: Were there regulations in place from January 1995 to June 1997? Will the then Government take any responsibility for anything that happened in the country during that period? Every night we hear the same comments in this Chamber — we heard it last night and we will hear it again at 7 p.m. tonight — about how the Government is responsible for everything. It is a bit Irish to blame the Government for everything.
Mr. Crawford Mr. Crawford
Mr. Crawford: Deputy O'Flynn is in Government and he must take responsibility.
Mr. Broughan Mr. Broughan
Mr. Broughan: It comes with the territory.
Mr. O'Flynn Mr. O'Flynn
Mr. O'Flynn: The irony is that last Friday the Fine Gael candidate in the Cork South Central by-election and his leader, Deputy John Bruton, introduced a fantastic traffic plan for Cork which was going to solve all the problems. However, they stole the plan of Cork Corporation and Bus Éireann which we debated in the Select Committee on Public Enterprise last Thursday.
They were able to tell us we have buses which are 11 and 14 years old. I have mentioned this in the Select Committee on Public Enterprise and sought £7.5 million for Bus Éireann in Cork. Fine Gael came up with a fantastic plan but the 14 year old buses were 13 years old when that party was in power. However, we refuted that and were able to solve it quite easily in the media, with the result that the corporation will not be launching its plan until well after the by-election.
I welcome the EU directive and the ADR provisions which are now being encompassed in one set of regulations. ADR also covers the carriage of petroleum chemicals and explosives.
I am worried about certain sections and I hope the Minister will consider my comments in regard to them. Matters such as the type, approval and testing of transport equipment are still outstanding for the industry generally, although the Irish petroleum industry association has introduced a scheme for vehicle testing and examination. However, there is a need — I did not see the Minister's speech before I came into the House but I note his reference to this — for a national approved scheme and the appointment of testers. We did not appoint qualified testers up to now to carry out that type of testing for such vehicles.
Consignors are responsible for selecting carriers who meet all the criteria for the carriage of dangerous substances. How can they ensure the equipment used meets the requirements if we do not have in place a proper national testing scheme, which in my opinion we have not had up to now?
Other Members referred to the general shortage of trained, certified drivers and approved training course providers. This aspect needs urgent attention and consideration should be  given to grant aiding the industry in this regard. There are insufficient training courses available for specialised drivers and specialists in the carriage of dangerous goods.
Under the Bill we will have four inspectors who will be responsible for monitoring the regulations. What criteria will be used to select those inspectors and what formal training qualifications and, more important, experience levels will they require? Will four inspectors be enough, given there are about 30,000 goods vehicles here which are more than 3.5 gross vehicle weight, although they are not all involved in the carriage of dangerous goods?
The industry has lost many experienced people through early retirement and they have not been replaced because of the need by operators to curtail expenditure. For example, most of the petroleum companies have contracted out their haulage and no longer have the in-house trainers, inspectors or examiners which they would have if they had their own fleet.
Deputy Yates is right that general rates for road transport give an exceptionally low return for the investment in vehicles and staff, together with the ongoing implications of legislation. Rates are low and it will be difficult for operators to achieve proper standards with low returns on investment. Grant aid should be available.
Much work is done by transport institutes in the field of education and standards for operators but this is done on a voluntary basis by concerned people who do not get proper recognition for their efforts. For example, the Institute of Road Transport Engineers is doing a tremendous job in Dublin and Munster in training operatives in the technical knowledge and skills required for the carriage of dangerous substances; the Chartered Institute of Transport and the Institute of Motor Industry are also carrying out very important functions.
There is a wide disparity of responsibilities for an inspector under the Bill and its proposed regulations. Must that person be an inspector of road vehicles? Must he be a road transport engineer with a mechanical or motor engineering qualification? Will he have to be qualified in chemicals, documentation and safety procedures? Who will train him? What structures are we putting in place to ensure the inspectors are trained and that we will have competent people to examine all relevant vehicles? There is a need for a more specialised, managerial-type course for vehicle operators, with specific emphasis on dangerous substances. We also need a higher qualification than the basic certificate of professional competence or CPC, which is a 12 week course administered by the CIT. The Institute of Road Transport Engineers, of which I am a member, runs a three year course whose syllabus covers dangerous substances, which is taught through Dublin Institute of Technology Bolton Street.
Section 8 deals with vehicles with a defect notice in respect of the carriage of dangerous substances. The vehicle should carry a prohibition  notice until the faulty equipment is repaired, replaced or removed. The ADR certificate for the vehicle should encompass this requirement. I hope the technical officers in the Department will look at that proposal.
Section 17 covers the type, approval, testing, examination and certification of equipment; part of that is in existing legislation but the matter needs to be addressed because no one in the State is doing it yet. Will the Minister ensure that qualified people carry out this function? The on-the-spot fine of £150 should be more substantial, particularly for hauliers from other countries. If they are in contravention of the regulations, they could carry up to 40 tonnes of dangerous substance and be fined only £150 on the spot. That is not good enough and I agree with Deputy Broughan that we should re-examine the fines. A foreign ship which contravened our laws in our fishing zone would receive a huge fine. These goods are extremely dangerous to our citizens and we should ensure our roads are safe by imposing larger fines as a deterrent to those who might break the regulations.
I have made a number of technical points of concern to the Minister and I hope he will be able to answer them. I welcome the Bill and commend the Minister for introducing it.
Mr. Daly Mr. Daly
Mr. Daly: I, too, compliment the Minister of State for bringing forward this comprehensive legislation which seeks to give effect to the EU Directives. This reminds me of my time in the Department of Labour in the 1980s, when we introduced the regulations governing the carriage and control of dangerous substances. The complex problem has existed for a long time and is at a critical stage of development. Perhaps the Minister can respond to my points on the Bill.
I welcome the streamlining of the regulations and of the organisations with responsibility in this area, as this will provide a clear cut and comprehensive set of rules. How long will it take to put the regulations in place? It can sometimes take ten to 15 years after enabling legislation such as this is introduced before the detailed regulations are put before the House. I am aware this is a complex area but the safety of people on the public highways is critical, which is why I want to know what timespan is envisaged for the completion of the regulations, after consultation with the various organisations in this area. Perhaps it could also be indicated whether the haulage associations have been in consultation with the Department in this respect. Various Departments have had responsibility for this at different times and it is good to see the Bill now before the House and the regulations being prepared. Judging by the Minister's speech, the regulations are on the way to being finalised but perhaps it could be indicated when it is hoped to have them completed.
A raft of regulations is already in place. Where do these stand and will they be revised to bring them into conformity with the new regulations?  There are regulations concerning size and nature of signs on vehicles and these signs can be complicated, particularly when there is an accident and people who are not professionals in the area may need to determine quickly what action is required to deal with a vehicle. For instance, if a vehicle containing dangerous substances runs into difficulty, drivers and people using the roads should be able to see the signs and take speedy action to deal with a problem. Sometimes, however, it is not possible to see these signs. I regularly drive on busy roads and cannot make out signs on vehicles carrying petroleum, etc. It is critical that this is dealt with effectively at a time when the number of accidents is increasing and people are being killed and injured on a daily basis.
I compliment the inspectorate which has covered this area — with small resources and limited staff they have put in place an effective regime. They often flag down lorries on dual carriageways to check that their papers are in order with the regulations. It is important that this be re-examined in the training of personnel not only for this work but for all those going on to the roads. It baffles me why basic training in the rules of the road and driving instruction is not provided in secondary schools. The new curriculum pays attention to day to day issues which people meet when they leave school or college, and one of the first things young people do is to drive cars or agricultural vehicles. A young person aged 17 was killed in a motorcyle accident in my village last weekend. It must be possible to give more training to people involved in this critical area, the carriage of lethal substances, because I do not think it is provided at present or that the Departments are paying as much attention to this as they should.
There was a great deal of controversy about this some years ago and Deputy O'Flynn will be aware of the difficulties with the carriage of dangerous substances through Cork city. Every day, heavy vehicles carrying lethal substances travel our roads and a huge number of oil spills occur resulting in many tragic accidents. It is important to keep our regulations and legislation up to speed with those in Europe where they are fairly well advanced. It is equally important to make the point that the road network in Europe is, in many respects, superior to ours. While it is important to keep our regulations and legislation up to date with EU directives, it is critically important that there is accelerated investment in the roads network, especially on roads carrying substances and vehicles such as those mentioned. It is time we examined whether lorries carrying the substances mentioned by the Minister should be permitted on roads which are not up to an appropriate standard and whether they should be assigned to roadways which meet the European standard and which would be capable of dealing with any accidents which might result.
There should be no undue delay in putting the regulations together. We should not have to wait  four, five or six years to see these detailed regulations. An overall assessment of the existing regulations should be carried out to avoid overlap and duplication with the new ones. We should endeavour to modernise and update safety signs and those set out in regulation, if necessary, or at least ensure they are better communicated to the public using the roads. We should put in place a mechanism to train young drivers especially, to make them aware of their obligations and responsibilities, to make them better drivers and enable them to deal with situations so that we could avoid the tragedies we have seen on our roads in recent times.
Mr. Crawford Mr. Crawford
Mr. Crawford: May I share my time with Deputies Ring, Boylan and Sargent?
Acting Chairman Acting Chairman
Acting Chairman: Is that agreed? Agreed.
Mr. Crawford Mr. Crawford
Mr. Crawford: I welcome the thrust of the Bill. My party colleague, Deputy Yates, covered the technical end. This is an EU agreement with which I, as a true European, believe we should go along. One cannot help thinking about the meeting on the crisis in farming we attended where it appeared that the European Union is not as committed to applying the same rules and income base to everyone. It is talking about taking away one quarter of funding from agriculture.
The transport industry is extremely important to this country. For my constituency of Cavan-Monaghan with a significant food industry, it is important for us to have quality transportation and regulation to enable us to get our products to European and world markets in an organised and proper fashion. Some goods are not dangerous but others are. The need for quick access from an island such as ours to the UK, to the Continent and further afield is essential.
One cannot but mention freedom of movement. In recent years we saw delays caused by some UK farmers and by truckers in France. I hope that when we agree to this regulation we also look at other regulations which are necessary to ensure such incidents do not happen again. A number of previous speakers mentioned the essential training of drivers. When one considers the number of people killed and the tragedies caused by larger vehicles, such as 40-foot containers, one realises the need for proper regulation not only in the movement of the product but also as regards the personnel, the driver behind the wheel of a lorry, which is a lethal vehicle, who should be properly trained. The Department must look seriously at the need for proper training and a test within a reasonable period after training. There are major delays in that regard in my area and were it not for possibilities across the Border, it might be more difficult to get drivers.
I was interested to hear previous speakers mention grant aid. For a long time I have looked for grant aid for the transport industry, especially as I live in a Border region where industry has had  to compete with that north of the Border which has access to cheaper vehicles and has lower costs generally. Thankfully, the diesel issue has changed recently. The problems which our industry faced in terms of competing with Northern Ireland were significant. The constituents I represent had no railroad and had to compete with areas which had CIE subsidised transport. When I asked the Minister concerned about the level of funding different areas received from CIE I was told it was an independent body and I was not entitled to any information. The Freedom of Information Act may rectify that matter. There is a need for those involved in transport to have their own garage facilities in areas such as mine so that they may have their vehicles properly serviced at night. Any aid towards that would be welcome.
I refer to the list of dangerous substances which the Minister mentioned, including gases and flammable liquids. My county has a large poultry industry and gas is constantly being transported to feed that industry. The dangers of the transportation of gas in County Monaghan are more significant than in other parts of the country. I do not apologise for mentioning the need for proper road structures. It is all very well bringing in regulations but it is impossible to regulate for a road such as the N2 which goes around all the bends in County Monaghan from Lamoy Bridge to the County Louth border. The N2 goes through towns such as Monaghan, Castleblayney and Carrickmacross. If a lorry transporting gas, or even straw for the mushroom industry, through Glaslough Street in Monaghan town caught fire, the damage would be enormous.
Although it is not relevant to this Minister but to the Government, I use this opportunity to stress the need for a structure to allow transport such as this to go around Monaghan town rather than through it. If something happened in Monaghan town, a fire brigade or ambulance would not be able to get to the vehicle. God forbid that what happened in Omagh should happen in Monaghan because it would be ten times worse. We are talking about explosives in this legislation which we, in the Border area, have lived close to for many years, although many did not appreciate that. There is a need not only for this Bill but for proper road structures in counties such as Cavan and Monaghan whose railways were removed over 40 years ago. Successive Governments promised us that money would be re-allocated to make sure the roads were improved but this never happened.
Dáil Éireann 494 Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road Bill, 1998: Second Stage.