To ask the Minister for Transport the actions proposed in respect of the Taxi Hardship Panel; if assurances will be given to those awaiting compensation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Charlie O'Connor.
For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 4th March, 2003.
Ref No: 6092/03
Answered by the Minister for Transport
(Séamus Brennan TD)
On 17 December 2002 the Government approved the implementation on a phased basis of the recommendations of the Taxi Hardship Panel in accordance with the Agreed Programme for Government. Any payments to be made as a result of this implementation will not represent compensation but rather compassionate payments in respect of extreme personal financial hardship experienced by taxi licence holders arising from the liberalisation of the taxi market.
The design and administration of a scheme to implement the recommendations of the Taxi Hardship Panel will be carried out by a proposed Commission for Taxi Regulation as this will ensure that applications are dealt with on a confidential and objective basis.
The preparation of the necessary legislation to support the establishment of that Commission is proceeding as a matter of urgency in my Department. In addition, the post of Chairman is the subject of consultation with the Department of Finance.
The Commission for Taxi Regulation, when appointed, will be tasked with the determination of criteria and conditions for the making of payments having regard to the categorisation and specific recommendations identified in the report of the Taxi Hardship Panel. The Commission will also invite applications and determine appropriate levels of payments within the amounts determined to be appropriate in the report. In pursuing this task, it is envisaged that the Commission will consult with relevant Government Departments and agencies.
As an interim measure, I have recently appointed Mr Jimmy Farrelly, former Secretary General of the Department of the Environment and Local Government, as an interim Chairman of the Commission for Taxi Regulation pending the recruitment of a statutory Chairman. One of the matters I have asked Mr Farrelly to progress as a priority will be the implementation of the findings of the Taxi Hardship Panel.