ORDERS OF THE DAY. - Agricultural Produce (Eggs) Bill, 1930—Second Stage.

This is a rather important Bill, and will need a certain amount of explanation. I think it is quite clear from the figures of prices for the years 1926-1927, and 1928-1929 that the result of the original Agricultural Produce (Eggs) Act was to increase and stabilise the prices of eggs in the English markets. I have taken some trouble to get the prices for the years 1927, 1928 and 1929, but before I give these prices I want to make this point.

Ireland is a country that produces, unfortunately if you like, different varieties of produce and of the same kind of produce. In bigger countries where they specialise more the quantities of their exports are bigger, and in addition to that they are more uniform. That point must always be remembered when quoting the prices of Irish produce in the English market. I could exemplify what I have to say on that matter by particular reference to Irish butter, but it would take time, and the opportunity for doing that will come up on a different issue later. But it applies to some extent to eggs. There is only one way that I can see to get any sort of a real picture of what the Irish prices are, and that is to take the years as a whole, and not only to take the years as a whole, but to take the different markets and to average them. I have done that for the years 1927, 1928 and 1929. I have not done so for the year 1930, not for political reasons, but for this reason: that the year 1930 is not yet finished. There is a number of quite important trade and official publications not yet issued which contain a large number of relevant and reliable figures. These figures are not yet available, and to make a figure for 1930 in the absence of that sort of information would be quite misleading. So I confine myself to the years 1927, 1928 and 1929.

I find that as a result of averaging official and market and trade reports from the various sources and from the different markets in England the following figures are, in my opinion, approximately correct. Take the best Irish eggs: in 1927 the price per long hundred was 17/5; in 1928 17/8, and in 1929 18/6, and that was for the best, for the extra-selected eggs. I have the figures here before me for other grades of Irish eggs, but I do not quote them at the moment, because that would only complicate matters, but Deputies might take it that these figures exactly tell the same story as the grade I have mentioned.

Danish, best quality, are as follows for the same years:—16/6, 16/1 and 16/6. Dutch eggs for the same years are 17/4, 17/5 and 17/8 as against our 17/5, 17/8 and 18/6. I regard these figures as reliable. They are the best I could get, not from the point of view of showing the best side of the picture, but rather from the point of view that I regard them as reliable and representative of the markets. And they show, as against other eggs in the English market, that since the passage of the original Act Free State eggs have more than held their own as against any other imported eggs. That has been the case certainly up to this year and is the case still, but I must make certain limitations with regard to this year, and I will deal with that later on. Before doing so I want to draw the attention of the Dáil to another rather important consideration.

A Merchandise Marks Act was passed by the British Parliament some time ago. Strange to say, the British Parliament was concerned with British interests purely, and the Act was deliberately passed so far as possible to help home producers, that is to say British producers, against the importers, no matter who they were. It has had the desired effect. The effect was that imported foodstuffs from anywhere had to be marked with the name of the country of origin, whereas British, which includes Northern Ireland eggs, could be sold without any mark of any kind. Now it will be fairly obvious to anyone who has got anything to do with business, either as a merchant or a purchaser, that the immediate effect, apart from the permanent effect, of that Act would be to put a premium on unmarked eggs. Where you have in a big market a comparatively small quantity of eggs singled out in this way there must be a big advantage to the eggs so singled out, at least for a short period immediately after that took place; and that has happened both with regard to English and North of Ireland eggs.

The consumer—the housewife—in England who is offered a choice of Dominion eggs, Dutch eggs, Danish eggs, French eggs, Chinese eggs, and eggs from all over the world, had a simple obvious rule to guide her. There were eggs without any mark at all. The rest had to be marked. The others were home eggs and so obviously they were more likely to be fresh eggs. That was a sort of reaction these conditions had on the mind of the consumer in England, and the result is that North of Ireland and British eggs had got a big premium as compared with eggs of any importer, whether Irish, English, Danish, Dutch, and so on. We still, however, hold our position in the English market relative to any other importers, and the figures I have just quoted indicate at present the true position of Irish eggs in the English market relative to any other importer; but there is this to be said to complete the matter, that English eggs and North of Ireland eggs are at a premium at present, in relation to Free State eggs, Danish eggs, or the eggs of any other country that exports to England. That is the situation that we have to face. We have to export a surplus of practically half our produce in the way of eggs. In this connection I would remind Deputies of a point, although it may not be entirely relative: The Danes do not appear to be as particular as we are. The proportion of their eggs they consume at home is far less than the proportion of Irish eggs that we consume at home. Exactly the same applies to butter. We consume more than half our total production of butter. The Danes consume one-eighth and fill up with margarine. The Danes never consume any of their first or second grade bacon except, of course, a limited wealthy class. They keep at home the low-price bacon, and they export the expensive article.

To some extent that applies to eggs, but, even though we do consume at home a very large proportion of our eggs, nevertheless the export market in eggs is absolutely vital to us. Our total import of eggs is valued about £70,000. We export about £5,000,000 worth. Unless we are to go out of production for the next five or six years we must find a market for the £5,000,000, and it is up to us to increase prices as much as possible in that market. The problem that faces us is, how to close the gap between the price of British eggs on the British market and Free State eggs in the same market. We have solved the other problem. As against the importer, Irish eggs are safe enough, but there is that problem there, namely, how to close the gap between the price of British eggs and that of Irish Free State imported eggs. There is only one way to do it. Like every real problem, it cannot be solved quickly or by any simple action on the part of either the Government or exporters. It takes time to build up good-will. It takes time to do anything worth while doing, and, in order to do anything worth while doing, we must have the co-operation of the people most interested, namely, the farmers and exporters.

The only way we can close the gap is gradually, by giving better value and by increasing the prestige of our own brand, to convince the English housewife, the English purchaser, who is quite impartial and who considers nothing but value, that the mark "Irish Free State" on our eggs is, in fact, a better guarantee of freshness than the absence of the mark which distinguishes English eggs. There is no other way, and it is from that point of view, as well as to solve other difficulties, that we introduce the Bill. There is one other point to which I wish to refer before dealing with the Bill in detail. Everybody is aware, as the result of reading the newspapers during the past year, that Irish eggs got a certain amount of publicity both here and in England, publicity on many occasions of quite an undesirable kind. The question whether Irish eggs in 1930 were as good as those in 1929 has been canvassed in the newspapers both on this side and on the other side. There were very divergent views on the matter. It was obviously the duty of the Department of Agriculture, with the help of their agents on the other side, to make investigations as to the reality of complaints that had been made, and they have done so. I can safely state the position to be as follows. It is the old story.

The Department of Agriculture has been inspecting exporters' premises for a great many years and has been endeavouring to get exporters to change their methods, to instal better equipment, to improve their premises, and to pack properly. It had been concentrating on exporters' premises, and that went on for three or four years. This year there was a certain amount of concentration of another kind, namely, at the ports, on the eggs in transit. There was not quite the same amount of inspection of exporters' premises. What was the result? As I say, it was the old story. The big proportion of our exporters lived up to the regulations of the Agricultural Produce (Eggs) Act. They carried out the regulations loyally. They went ahead and did their business exactly as if the inspectors were calling, and they shipped eggs which were creditable to the Irish Free State. Undoubtedly, however, a small minority took advantage of the absence of inspection and went back to the methods which they had been adopting before the Dairy Produce Act was passed. There is quite a considerable minority in business and in every other sphere in this country who want to take advantage of the other person's work. We had built up a reputation for Irish eggs. The people who had done that are the best exporters in the country. They are to be found everywhere, not necessarily the big exporters, but undoubtedly you are bound to find a small minority taking advantage of that. They are going to get the price which the box entitles them to. The box carries a certain prestige, but they are going to supply an inferior article. We found that a small minority did that this year, but we have endeavoured to change all that.

I would ask Deputies to realise that position on the next occasion that they are approached by some exporters who are experiencing drastic measures on the part of the Department of Agriculture and who complain that they are being threatened with the withdrawal of their licences. I ask Deputies to remember that they may be very well trying to shield exporters who have no real merits, who are doing no real service even in their own district, but who are injuring the trade as a whole. It is an extraordinary state of affairs that even a small number should succumb in this way. One would think that these regulations were made for the benefit of the Department of Agriculture and that it was just for the love of making and carrying out regulations that they were being enforced. Every one of the exporters knew that the Act saved the trade to some extent when that measure was passed. Of course, you will get silly people, definitely hostile, malevolent people, who will say: "Look at the price of eggs in 1924 and look at the price now after the Act was passed."

I suppose you must point out, even though it should be pretty obvious, that such a comparison is quite idle. No one can prevent prices falling. The only thing you can do in any one year is to get the best price offered, and the real comparison is not between prices in 1924 and those now ruling, but the price which eggs now get when well packed and properly delivered, compared with the prices they would have fetched if the slip-shod methods of seven or eight years ago were adopted. Difficulties occurred in certain markets with a small number of Irish exporters, and it is to meet such difficulties and to deal with certain omissions which revealed themselves in the Act, that this Bill is being introduced. It is quite a complicated Bill, and it is necessary to refer to the various sections.

Section 3 of the Bill is an important section. Under Section 3 of the original Act the maximum quantity of eggs that could be taken by a farmer across the border without being tested, graded and packed in accordance with the regulations was 11 lbs., i.e., the maximum amount allowed to be sent per parcel post. The Merchandise Marks Act, under which the order was made by the British authorities, requiring the marking of all individual eggs imported into Great Britain or Northern Ireland, does not apply to farm produce carried by a farmer from the Irish Free State into Northern Ireland in course of his business as a farmer. It was thought necessary, therefore, to relieve the farmers in the border districts of the Irish Free State from the disability under which they suffered. Section 4 gives the inspector powers to detain a package or a consignment for a reasonable period to allow of examination. This is necessary in view of the practice of some shippers in rushing a consignment to the docks at the last moment in order to avoid inspection. It also gives him the power to return the consignment to the owner when contraventions of the regulations are observed in a certain number of packages in the consignment. Hitherto all the inspector could do would be to take or detain one package from the consignment, which, if found to contravene the Act, could later be forfeited to the Minister. This section also gives the inspector power to detain one package when the consignment consists of one package only. The powers in the original Act were weak in this respect, as law officers' opinion had been received that if the consignment consisted of one package, the package could not be detained. The section also relieves the carrying companies of all responsibility for any delays that may occur by the exercise of these powers by the inspector.

Section 5 is also important. Hitherto the Minister before granting registration of any premises in the register of exporters could not under the original Act insist that the applicant or one of his employees was fully competent to test, grade and pack eggs properly. This section remedies the defect and gives the Minister power to cancel the registration if no competent person is employed. Under the original Act the Minister could not refuse to register premises which were suitable and properly equipped, even though the registration of such premises had previously been cancelled owing to serious contraventions of the Act on the part of the registered proprietor or where the applicant had been previously a registered proprietor and had had the registration of his premises cancelled. Section 6 of the Bill now gives the Minister the powers to refuse registration in such cases. Section 7 merely amends a slight flaw in Section 9 (8) of the original Act in regard to the date before which the annual fee should be paid. In regard to Section 8 it was found undesirable to have the name of a registered proprietor who became bankrupt left on the register. Under the original Act the Minister had no power to cancel the registration of the premises for this reason. This defect is now remedied.

Under Section 15 of the original Act all packages of eggs exported from registered premises had to bear a brand consisting of an ellipse with the letters "S.E." and an identification letter and number assigned to the particular premises enclosed therein. The law officers' opinion was obtained as to the use by a merchant whose registration had been cancelled of this brand on packages of eggs sold by him within the Irish Free State. The law officers gave it as their opinion that merchants whose registrations had been cancelled were entitled to use this brand on such packages. Section 9 of the Bill now prohibits the use of the brand except by the registered proprietor for the time being of premises registered in the register of exporters. The necessity for Section 10 is as follows: the grades into which eggs intended for export must be divided, have minimum weights, i.e., each great hundred of "Extra Selected" must weigh not less than 16 lb. with no individual egg included weighing less than 15 lb. per hundred; "Selected" must weigh not less than 15 lb. per great hundred with no individual egg included weighing less than 14 lb., etc., etc.

Some exporters have been in the habit of grading over the minimum weights and branding their cases accordingly, e.g., "Extra Selected," 17 lb., "Selected," 15½ lb., to indicate that the eggs are in reality heavier than the minimum weight required for that particular grade. The practice was not, of course, objectionable, except in some cases when it came to the Department's notice that the eggs were not up to the weights branded on the packages. The object of this section is, therefore, to ensure that if such weight marks are branded on the packages in addition to the ordinary grade marks, the eggs will be per hhd. of the weights indicated.

In regard to Section 11, in the light of experience it has been found necessary to amend and strengthen Section 17 of the original Act enabling the inspector to search for eggs on the premises, and requiring the registered proprietor or any person employed by him to give any information which the inspector may deem necessary for the purposes of the administration of the Act. This section also equips the inspector with the same powers in regard to premises registered in the register of preservers or in respect of which an application for registration in the register of preservers has been received. Section 12 strengthens the provisions of Section 18 of the original Act in regard to the sale, etc., of bad or dirty eggs. The latter section was the chief one governing the internal trade in eggs in the Irish Free State. Hitherto some offenders who have sold or offered for sale bad eggs have escaped on the plea that the eggs were sold subject to test. Also the purchase of bad or dirty eggs was not specifically made an offence in the original Act although it has been found possible to proceed against such persons as aiders and abettors under the Petty Sessions Act. This section now makes it an offence to sell or offer for sale bad or dirty eggs even if such sale or offer for sale is subject to test. It also makes it an offence to purchase bad or dirty eggs or to have such eggs in possession. This latter provision will, it is thought, help enormously in coping with the question of the sale of dirty eggs which has grown to be an outstanding evil in the egg trade. In regard to Section 13, up to this, proprietors of registered premises were in the habit of reconstructing their premises to suit their own needs or business and applying later to the Minister for approval. In some cases, in fact, no notification of the alterations was received. This section makes it obligatory on the proprietor to obtain prior permission for such alterations, and thus remedies a slight defect in the original Act.

I now come to Part II., which deals with the register of preservers. It has been found necessary to legislate for registration in the register of preservers and for the egg preserving trade generally, as the powers in the original Act (Section 7) were found to be faulty. The original Act placed the onus on the Minister of setting up a register, to be known as the register of preservers, of all premises in the Irish Free State in which the business of preserving eggs was carried on. It did not, however, make it compulsory on the owner of such premises to apply for registration. As a result, it has been found that the section in question, in so far as the egg preserving trade was concerned, was unworkable. This part of the Bill, therefore, makes it an offence for any person to carry on by way of trade in premises which are not registered in the register of preservers the business of preserving eggs, and sets out certain requirements in the way of premises, equipment, etc., which must be complied with before such premises can be registered on the same lines as the requirements regarding the premises of exporters in the original Act. It also prescribes a fee to be paid on application for such registration.

In addition, it empowers the Minister to make regulation setting out the marks to be placed on eggs consigned to or removed from any premises registered in the register of preservers and makes it an offence for the eggs to be consigned to or from premises registered in the register of preservers or for the registered proprietor to accept on or to sell from or for any person to purchase from premises registered in the register of preservers any eggs which have not accordingly been so marked. These powers are necessary to prevent any abuses being practised in regard to the mixing of preserved (especially cold stored) eggs with fresh eggs, either for the export or home trade. At present, it may be added that all cold stored eggs, before being removed from cold storage premises whether for export or internal trade, have to be marked individually with the Irish Free State design (the design which has to be placed on all Irish Free State eggs exported to Great Britain) in black ink all the year round. As fresh eggs exported during the period 1st July to 31st January must be marked in red ink, this provision to an extent prevented any malpractice in this connection, but the powers now sought are regarded as necessary. Hitherto the onus was on the owner of the cold store. Under the new provisions, regulations can be made providing that the eggs must be marked before going into the preserving premises. This part of the Bill also requires certain registers to be kept on preserving premises which will be open to the inspector for perusal.

The two principal provisions of Part III. of the Bill are:—

(a) Section 23, which prohibits the sale, offer for sale, etc., of eggs in places or under such conditions which do not afford adequate protection from dirt, damp or contamination. This is designed to prevent the sale, etc., of eggs in unsuitable open spaces in towns or villages where in inclement weather, for instance, the eggs would be liable to become dirty or musty from contact with damp straw.

(b) Section 24, which empowers the Gárdaí to assist in the detection of dirty eggs. I have been in correspondence with the Minister for Justice in this matter and he has no objection to the insertion of this clause, on the understanding that the police can only carry out their duties under this section in the course of their ordinary patrol work.

The Gárdaí were not expressly authorised in the original Act to take samples of dirty eggs. The practice has been for the Department's authorised inspectors to take samples of the eggs when they are found to be dirty, and to notify the owners, etc., of the taking of the samples, and if the same procedure were to be carried out by the Gárdaí it would have been necessary to authorise each individual member of the Gárdaí as an inspector under the original Act. The present method of authorising them by a section in the Amending Bill is considered much more satisfactory. The Department are of opinion that this section will assist them to a great extent in preventing the sale, or offer for sale, of dirty eggs.

I consider that the legislation dealing with eggs, as compared with legislation dealing with fresh meat, is much more suitable to the needs of the country, because it provides good and clean eggs for home consumption as well as for export. So far as it does that, it certainly is more to be commended than the recent Bill dealing with fresh meat. The industry of egg production, as the Minister pointed out in introducing the Bill, is fairly important to this country, although not so important as the Minister would lead us to believe. It may have been through inadvertence, but the Minister stated that our export trade in eggs was worth five millions. It is worth a little over £3,000,000.

Mr. Hogan

Eggs and poultry, I should have said.

I would like to add to what the Minister said when he spoke of the Danes, as compared with the Irish people, consuming less eggs and butter amongst themselves than we do, lest some city members here might get the impression that the people of this country are living far beyond their means. If we take some other items, we find that the Danes live far better than we do. They consume all the poultry they produce and, in addition, import some poultry, whereas we do a large export trade in poultry, so that if the Danes do not eat as many eggs as we do they at least treat themselves oftener to poultry than the Irish people. The industry is no doubt an important one to us. The Bill before us is one that I think could be criticised more for its omissions than for what it contains. In addition to anything that the Bill contains it would be a great service if, under it, something could be done to enable our people to improve their egg production, first, by being put in a position to be able to sell their eggs at a greater profit than they are getting at present. There is no commodity that the farmer disposes of for which he gets such a small proportion of what the commodity ultimately realises before reaching the consumer as for eggs. On the average, I think it is true to say, the producer does not get more than 50 per cent. of the price that the eggs bring when eventually disposed of on the market. That is a much lower return than the farmer gets for any of his other products. Certainly it is lower than the price he gets for his milk when it is eventually disposed of as butter, and lower than the price he gets for his pigs when disposed of as bacon. If something could be done to rectify that position, then the Dáil, I suggest, would be doing a greater service to the producers of the country than by anything that is likely to be done by a Bill of this kind. While saying that, I do not want to find fault with the Bill.

Some few years ago when an Act was passed by the Dáil dealing with butter another Act was passed at about the same time which aimed at improving the milking strain of cows. I think that a measure on the same lines is more necessary in the case of egg production than it was in the case of cows, for the reason that people all over the country are now in possession of hens which are of a very low laying strain, and as far as I can see there is not very much being done to improve that position. You have, of course, schemes in operation under which poultry stations are set up all over the country which supply a pure type of eggs at a moderate cost. The really good strains of poultry are only to be found in the commercial poultry farms, but the present position is that neither the owners of the poultry stations nor the ordinary egg producers of the country can afford to buy any of these very famous and well-bred birds that are produced in these commercial stations. Following this Bill, I think the Minister should consider the introduction of a measure to improve not only the strain of poultry in this country but also marketing facilities on the same principle that the Dairy Produce Bill was accompanied by the Live Stock Breeding Bill. If the people were enabled, either through poultry societies or some other agency, to get a better sale for their eggs and better stock birds to give out to their members so that greater egg production could be obtained, then a good day's work would have been done for the people who are engaged in this industry. The big difficulty there, of course, as in other things, is the question of money. It would be a great thing, I suggest, if co-operative societies, or whatever body is set up to deal with the matter, were enabled to lend small sums of money to their members—to the small farmers and labourers in the country— because then those members would be put in a position to increase their egg production, to improve their stock and build suitable poultry houses. That is the problem that is before us at the moment. We believed when the Agricultural Credit Corporation was set up some few years ago that it would have been able to deal with the small producers of bacon, eggs, and so on. So far the Corporation has not found it possible to deal in the small loans that these people require. I believe that is a matter the Minister should turn his attention to.

The Minister quoted prices to show that, as regards our export trade, we had maintained our position very well during the last three or four years, not only absolutely but relatively, compared to other countries. It is certainly a good thing to know that the original Act passed four or five years ago has had that effect. It is possible, if what the Minister says be true, that if it were not for that Act we might not have been able to maintain our position, in that respect, as we have done, on the British market. I was anxious to hear the Minister quote the price of French eggs. I may be wrong, but I have always believed that French eggs are regarded as the leading eggs on the British market. I may be wrong in that, and I accept the Minister's figures as being correct. I do not say that the French quotations were withheld for any purpose.

Mr. Hogan

I have the French quotation. For 1928 it was 16s. 7d., and for 1929 16s. 11d. That is for French all brown, the highest grade I can get.

I may be wrong, but I had always thought that French eggs all round got a better price than ours.

Mr. Hogan

French all brown they are called.

With regard to this Bill, it is a rather difficult one to discuss on Second Reading. As the Minister proved in his Second Reading speech, it is a Bill that must be discussed section by section. I do not intend to go into it further now. I will await the Committee Stage of the Bill for any further remarks I have to make on it.

The Bill is certainly severe enough to get good results, but I am not quite sure the poorer classes of the people are in a position to comply fully with the regulations which the Bill imposes. Perhaps in the near future the Minister may consider the advisability of introducing a Bill to assist them in some way or another. In Ireland egg production is not looked upon as it is in other countries. Here the farmers generally look upon it as a sort of side line, and it is not always popular with the farmers, especially since the intensive egg producing strain, known as white fowl, was introduced. They do a great deal of damage to oats and other crops, and generally the farmer's wife has to look after those fowl under the most difficult circumstances. The housing accommodation is not sufficient, and the capital does not seem to be there to improve the existing conditions. Ill-drained yards with a miscellaneous collection of farm stock are not conducive to the production of clean eggs. Very often the eggs are soiled, and intensive washing may have to be resorted to. I am not sure that it is a good thing to have eggs scoured in soap and water, or that it is helpful to the freshness of eggs.

I think some method should be devised for affording a little assistance to those people, so that they can keep their fowl under more comfortable circumstances. The capital those people have at their disposal at present is not sufficient for that purpose. I believe, with Deputy Ryan, that assistance given in that way would mean money well spent. It is a matter of opinion as to whether it should be spent through the Agricultural Credit Corporation or through a co-operative system, so as to get the best results. The sum would be small, and most difficult to administer, but I believe if assistance were given in that way so many of these Acts would not be necessary, or so much supervision required, for the eggs could be produced without any necessity for resorting to underhand methods in selling them. I agree that severe legislation is necessary, having regard to the competition we have to face in the foreign market. If the produce is not put on the market in the state the consumer requires, then we are going to lose that market. I do not believe altogether that this Bill will lead to more production of eggs. I believe that something else is necessary. It seems a hardship to put restrictions as severe as those in the Bill on individuals, when they have not the reasonable means at their disposal for producing an article up to the standard required. Therefore, I am sure the Minister has in contemplation some scheme that can be worked either through a co-operative society or the Agricultural Credit Corporation.

I rather agree with Deputy Ryan that this is essentially a Bill which must be dealt with section by section on the Committee Stage. The Minister, in explaining the measure, referred to one or two matters which I think are not dealt with in the Bill. He said the only means by which the gap can be closed—that is, the difference between the price got for British eggs and the price got for Irish eggs—is by convincing the English housewife that the Irish egg is as good as, if not better than, the British egg. I ask the Minister to show me anything in the Bill by which that can be done. There is nothing in this Bill to convince the English housewife, or any potential consumer of Irish eggs in the British market, that the Irish eggs are as good or better than the English. The only means of doing that is by a proper scheme of advertising Irish produce. That applies not only to eggs but to everything we send to the English market. It is nearly time the Dáil took into consideration the setting up of an advertising bureau in this country to get publicity across the water that would convince the English consumers that we in this country are supplying the best produce going into the British markets.

When other Bills having for their object the assisting of Irish agriculture were brought forward, I introduced amendments with a view to allocating a certain sum of money for the purpose of advertising our products in the English markets. On each occasion I was ruled out, because such a proposal did not come within the scope of the measures. I expect I will be up against the same difficulty in this case owing to the way the Bill is drafted. Section 26 of the Bill, which deals with expenses, says:—

"All expenses of carrying this Act into effect shall, to such extent as may be sanctioned by the Minister for Finance, be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas."

That only deals with expenses in connection with the Bill. We have to convince the consumers in England that we are producing the best article. I believe recently the Ministry made an Order by which a stamp is to be put on Irish eggs so as to overcome their holding up in the British market. Undoubtedly eggs properly stamped by honest egg exporters were held up by the wholesalers in England, with the result that though the Irish Free State egg was stamped as a fresh egg it was not put on the market until it was stale. What steps were taken to inform the British public with regard to the new stamp? Nothing was done except that a letter appeared in a trade paper, that not one British housewife ever reads, pointing out that there was a new stamp. The consumer knew nothing about that. The sooner we wake up to the fact that we should advertise our products the better. There is no use in producing the best article if no one knows anything about it. I hope this matter will be taken into consideration. If we advertise our products we will increase our export trade by at least 50 per cent. in 12 months.

I am afraid the present Bill, however well-intentioned, will not have the effect of convincing the British consumer that we are offering better value than the products of any other country supplied to the English market. The proof of that is found in the fact that eggs that have been sent from the Free State across the Border have fetched a higher price in the British market as British eggs than eggs produced on the same farm and sent from the Free State direct can secure in the same market. There is a case there to convince the housewife in England that the quality of eggs supplied to the British market from the Free State is equal to that of the British eggs. Notwithstanding that, we have that discrepancy in the price. How we are to overcome that rather substantial prejudice on the part of consumers in England is, to my mind, in no way dealt with in this Bill. The producer in this country needs more than the amount of coercion intended to be inflicted on him by this Bill. He needs the encouragement of better prices for his produce.

I think if the Minister enforces this Bill as it stands it will have the effect of driving out of business quite a number of exporters, with the result that the business of export trade in the Free State will fall into the hands of a monopoly, and that will have a bad effect on the prices paid to the producers. More care will surely have to be taken than the Minister had in mind when he outlined this Bill. Otherwise the result will be injurious to the producers. What the producer really requires is more attention on the part of the responsible authorities so as to ensure better profits out of the industry. I believe that a very considerable improvement could be made in the poultry industry if the Minister and his Department concentrated on the development of the poultry end more than he has. At present that end of the trade is very largely a waste product and a losing end in many parts of the country. Properly organised that could be, side by side with egg production, developed, and the poultry production on the whole could be made a more profitable business. Encouragement in that direction would have more beneficial effects than any amount of coercion, and coercion is the one thing that the farmers will resent. The farmers will resent any interference by the police or by inspectors. While I believe that the Bill is necessary, I believe that it is not properly directed or directed in the best interests of the trade and the general improvement of the poultry industry in the Free State.

Mr. Hogan

Deputy Ryan and Deputy Maguire have made points that are pretty much the same. Like everybody else, they think better prices would encourage the poultry industry. Deputy Ryan said that it would be well if the producer got a fair share of the price which is actually obtained for his produce. You can only get better prices by producing a better article, and this Bill seeks to have a better article produced and placed on the market. No other method obtains in the way of securing a better price. Nothing that we can do here could affect the price in the British market. The price in the British market will depend on the quality of the article, and it will depend not only on the quality of the article which you and I produce, but on the quality of the article produced by our neighbours. It will depend to a great extent on the uniformity of that article and the improvement in the quality of the article marketed. The way to achieve that improvement in the quality of the article is to get more uniformity, and this Bill is being introduced with the object of making the article continuously good.

Deputy Ryan has made quite a good point. The farmer gets only a small proportion of the price. What action can we take to get him a bigger proportion of the price? We cannot market his goods for him. The Department of Agriculture cannot market his goods for him. He has to market them himself, and if he is only getting a small proportion of the price that is because the price got for it has to be divided between a great number of middlemen before it reaches him. That is the only reason. I am not at all condemning that system. There may be no better, but that is the reason, anyway, for the smallness of the price that the farmer receives—other people get their share out of it. Assume that that system of marketing is wrong. If it is wrong, the only person who can change it is the farmer. The only organisation our farmers can have is through a system of co-operation. I suppose it is no longer argued that farmers cannot do business under a joint stock arrangement. If farmers are to get more of the prices paid for their products by the consumer they must cease to be individualists; they must come into some organisation and do more of the marketing themselves. There is no other way out of it. How can I help until they are ready?

Co-operation is pretty well encouraged in this country. There is very little difficulty in getting societies started; in fact, it is too easy in a great many cases. It is being assisted in every possible direction, through subsidies and otherwise. There is an educational organisation there and everything is ready but the farmer. If he is to get a bigger proportion of the price he must cease to be an individualist. I am not suggesting that there are not successful exporters in this country. There are some excellent exporters. There are hundreds of exporters, and no sooner does one fall out than two others come along to take his place. There is no danger of a monopoly. We could do without many exporters, and there would not be anything like a monopoly.

It is said that an improvement in the strain of poultry is more necessary than the measures which we propose to take under this Bill. It is more or less suggested that the poultry of this country are rather an inferior lot. That is not so. The live stock of this country, including the poultry, are about the most uniform live stock in any part of the world. Go to Connemara or to any poor district in Ireland and if you pass by the farmer's door, what sort of poultry will you see there? You will see plenty of White Leghorns, White Wyandottes, Rhode Island Reds and Minorcas, together with some useful crosses. Who put them there? They were put there through the schemes of the county committees, acting under the Department of Agriculture. There has been more done to distribute first-class breeds of poultry in this country than in most countries. That good work is continued every year; it is being done by the county committees in every county in Ireland. It is possible to argue that even more should be spent. That may be, but there is no doubt that there has been an extraordinary change in the quality and breeds of poultry in the Free State during the last seven or eight years. I am inclined to think that if we are to concentrate at all it is not upon that side, but upon the side of more efficient marketing.

I entirely agree with Deputy O'Hanlon that there is nothing in the Bill to encourage the English housewife to buy Irish eggs. The Deputy referred to advertising, but that is quite a big question. Before advertising at all you ought to be sure that you are able to deliver the goods. That is essential. I believe we are able to deliver the goods, but I do not think there was time wasted by waiting until we were sure we could deliver the goods. If advertisement is necessary or advisable at present, there is no necessity to introduce legislation to enable us to expend money in that direction. Money can be voted on the Estimate for the Department of Agriculture or some other Department at any time the Dáil likes. There is no necessity for legislation.

The question of the better advertising of Irish produce in the English market is an important one, and I think the time has come when we will have to take more definite steps in that direction. It would be wrong to suggest that a lot has not been done already. We have succeeded in doing a tremendous amount of advertising as a result of the services which the Empire Marketing Board placed at our disposal. They have given very good service. We have been advertising in a great many ways. There is advertisement of Irish produce going on in England day after day and week after week. In every important centre in England we have attended shows, and have advertised Irish produce. We are advertising in a most effective way by securing the services of leading distributors in practically every town in England. They are co-operating with us in pushing our goods forward. They are giving us the benefit of their shops for the purpose of holding exhibitions of Irish produce. Many firms in England have allowed us to utilise their shop-windows. A lot of quiet advertising of that kind has been done up to the present. I agree with Deputy O'Hanlon that advertising our produce should not be quiet; that is not the particular quality that should distinguish it. I agree the time has come when it may be necessary to have a more ambitious scheme of advertising. If it is necessary, the money can be voted at any time.

[An Ceann Comhairle resumed the Chair.

Will the Minister explain what is meant by Section 11 (2) (b)?

Mr. Hogan

What is the point?

What is the object of finding out the name and address of a particular person?

Mr. Hogan

We might want to know who sent on a consignment of eggs on a particular day, or who has just left the premises.

That is just the point. What is the object of ascertaining that?

Mr. Hogan

You see eggs going into a premises; then you search them, and find no eggs there, and you begin to wonder what has happened to them. That is the point.

Question: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time"—put and agreed to. Committee Stage fixed for Wednesday, 26th November.