The Minister has not shown that there is to be any change from the existing situation. It means that students who come into the veterinary college at Ballsbridge have to be trained there and have to go in for an examination set by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. The Minister is not prepared to tell us what provision he is making for the future. He wants us to give him a blank cheque. This is an affiliated college which we are supporting to the extent of £5,400 a year. It is to be in this position, that a professor in any subject may be associated in the examination as an intern examiner, but he is not to be privileged to set the questions. He is to be one examiners out of three. The two other examiners are to be chosen by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Our students will be paying fees amounting to twenty or thirty pounds a year each. When they become qualified they will be members of the Royal Veterinary College, and, under this agreement, the fees for that College are going to be collected in Ireland. The position at the moment is, apparently, legally that they are not able to control their members here, that they are not able to get any money from their members here. The position under this agreement is that we are getting absolutely nothing, except the fact that students can go on the British register if they wish. We have got the money going out of the country. We have got the upkeep of this college. This outlay is all the more indefensible because there is a way in which this could be done if our people stood up for it. It would be far preferable that a faculty of veterinary science should be set up in one of our colleges. It would be a natural corollary to the taking over of the Albert College by the University College, Dublin. The Albert College was formerly under the control of the Minister. The natural corollary was to have a faculty of veterinary science attached to this college. Then the position would be that if any students wanted to get the M.R.C.V.S., they could get it in a single session in any affiliated college. They could make an arrangement as is done in the case of the medical profession. That is, get recognition of their college and permit a delegation from the Council of the Veterinary college in London to be present at their examinations. There were a number of ways in which this could be done, but the worst way in which it could be done was done in this agreement, because it determines that in the future the whole trend of veterinary education will be as directed by the London College.
I think we have our own particular problems and our own directions of research and all the rest of it and that ought to be the direction in which veterinary education should be determined by our own wants and aspirations. I am not saying that students should not get a foreign degree. We could give them all facilities if they want them. We could arrange that degrees that were given by the university here would be recognised by the London College. There is no comparison whatever between this agreement and the dental agreement or the agreement with the medical profession.
As I tried to illustrate, it is a case of what the Leader of the Labour Party described as "Home Rule within the Empire" and what I call crown colony Government, as the head institution is in London and it prescribes the examinations and the curricula, and will take the fees. I submit there is no necessity for doing that. When negotiations were entered into they should have gone upon the lines of getting recognition of Irish degrees and the first step towards putting the veterinary profession on a satisfactory footing in Ireland should have been to establish a faculty of veterinary science in one of the university colleges, then let there be negotiations for qualifications for a foreign register.
When it comes to the type of control there is to be an Irish council of eight members according to the Bill. Four of these members are to be elected by the members of the London College. Those who have got London degrees and are resident in the Free State have to chose four out of eight. They will have practically what amounts to a total vote, so that the control of the veterinary profession in this country is going to lie with the members who have got this foreign degree and not with those who have the home degree.
There is no provision in this Bill from beginning to end to indicate that the Minister had any relation whatever to any of the Irish universities. I cannot understand it, because as I say, any Minister making that agreement must have some terrible interest forcing him, even though he was not acquainted with the University system here at all, to make him agree to it. But the Minister is a representative of the National University and does that, yet when we look through this Bill from beginning to end we do not find in it a single provision to say that if there was a faculty of veterinary science hereafter established in any one of these colleges it would get fair play. There are about 250 to 300 members at present practising veterinary surgery in this country —nearer to 250.
The veterinary surgeons practising in this country who are members of this college are to be the electors. The Minister for Agriculture says it is the best veterinary degree in the world. I do not know whether it is or not. Exaggerated statements like that can be made and there is no means of checking them. The point is that those who already have got the degree will naturally be interested in promoting the interests of that college and that degree. It will be to them their Alma Mater. They will naturally be interested in maintaining the position of the outside college as against the home college. Suppose we were to establish here a faculty of veterinary science in the National University, it would take four or five years to get students qualified. If we have 15 students every year, look at the number of years it will take to catch up on the number that exists at present. Even if there were only 10 members of the foreign college registered in this country they will ultimately elect half of the controlling council. Half of the controlling body are going to be elected by whatever foreign students there are here. There is not a single provision either as to the governing of the profession at home or otherwise, to safeguard any university or college that in the future might establish a veterinary faculty. I ask Deputies seriously to consider that, and not be guided by the Minister who simply says: "Why should they not go abroad? If half the students want to go abroad why should they not go abroad?" We are not preventing them, but we do not want to see the whole veterinary profession and education here dominated by an outside institution.
I ask Deputies to read this agreement and not simply to agree to it because it has been presented to them by the Ministerial Bench. Deputies should ask themselves whether there is not a better way of dealing with the whole situation. I intend to vote against this agreement, and I ask the House to vote against it. A Bill could be introduced establishing a veterinary college and putting the veterinary profession here on a sound foundation without this agreement. If such a Bill had been introduced and a veterinary faculty was established here in connection with one of these college an agreement could be made on far better terms with the Veterinary College in London. You would be able to get an agreement whereby, having a delegation of their council here at the examination, you would be able to get a recognition of the degree. But if you accept this, if a new faculty is established here in Trinity College or any of the colleges of the National University in veterinary science, the whole of the teaching will be dominated by the interests of the outside examination. No institution is going to run two sets of curricula side by side. Our professors in that college will be compelled to model their teaching on the requirements of the outside institution. There is no comparison between this agreement and the agreement made in the case of the medical profession. In the case of the medical profession, there is something corresponding to external association. There is nothing of the kind here. It is to be dominated from the London College as far as the curricula, control, and everything else, is concerned. I hope that Deputies on the Government Benches will ask the Minister why it is necessary to vote this public money for the upkeep of a college which is to be an affiliated college of a foreign institution when we have independent universities here that could give their own degrees. If there was some special arrangement to be made for those going abroad, that could be made on lines following the Medical Act and not on the lines of this humiliating agreement.