Financial Resolutions. - Veterinary Surgeons Bill, 1930—Report.

I think there was a proposal that we should go into Committee, particularly with regard to Section 45.

Acting-Chairman

Yes. We can go into Committee when we come to Section 45.

SECTION 28.

I move amendment 1:—

In page 12, line 21, Section 28 (4), to insert after the word "order" the words "and different amounts may be so appointed in respect of different classes of persons."

This is an amendment which I promised to look into before the Report Stage. It is to meet a point raised by Deputy Ryan who indicated that there was some doubt in his mind whether or not the fee should be apportioned as between different classes of persons. I am not satisfied that there is any doubt in the matter, but this puts it beyond all doubt.

Amendment put and agreed to.
SECTION 45.
The Dáil went into Committee.

I presume we can discuss the amendments together as they are all relevant to the same section?

Acting-Chairman

Yes.

The following amendments appeared on the Order Paper:—

2. In page 19, before Section 45, to insert a new section as follows:—

"45.—(1) No person shall be entitled to recover in any legal proceedings any fee or charge for or on account of any veterinary surgical or veterinary medical advice or attendance given by him or any veterinary surgical operation performed by him or any veterinary medicine both prescribed and supplied by him unless such person was a registered veterinary surgeon when (as the case may be) such advice or attendance was given or such operation was performed or such medicine was prescribed or supplied.

(2) Nothing in this section shall deprive any person who is entitled by law to keep open shop for the sale of poisons by retail of the right to recover any moneys properly charged for veterinary medicine supplied, or recommended and supplied by him, provided such moneys so charged do not include any charge for recommending such medicine."— Aire Gnóthaí Coigríche.

3. In page 19, to delete lines 13 to 21, inclusive (Section 45), and substitute a new section as follows:—

"On and after the establishment of the register no person shall be entitled to recover in any legal proceedings any fee or charge for or on account of any veterinary medical or surgical advice or attendance given by him, or any veterinary surgical operation performed by him, or any veterinary medicines both prescribed and supplied by him, unless such person was registered on the register at the date on which such advice or attendance was given or such operation was performed or such medicines were prescribed and supplied (as the case may be)."— Séamus O Riain.

4. In page 19, line 17, Section 45, to add at the end of sub-section (1) the following words:—

"Provided, however, that nothing in this section shall—

(a) prevent the free sale of medicines to or on behalf of a farmer or stockowner, or

(b) prevent a farmer or stock-owner availing of the services of a person not on the register, or

(c) prevent a person not on the register from receiving compensation for rendering such services incidental to the usual care and management of live-stock."—Denis J. Gorey.

5. In page 19, to add at the end of Section 45 a new sub-section as follows:—

"(3) Nothing in this section shall render it unlawful for any farmer or other person who habitually keeps animals for profit or the servant of any such person to perform on or administer to an animal of any class (whether owned or not owned by such person) any operation or medicine the performing or administering of which is incidental to the usual care and management of animals of that class, provided that such person or servant does not hold himself out as a registered veterinary surgeon or as practising veterinary surgery or veterinary medicine."—Aire Gnóthaí Coigríche.

Amendment to amendment No. 2.

1. In sub-section (1) of the proposed new section to delete the words "or any veterinary medicine both prescribed and supplied by him" and the words "or such medicine was prescribed and supplied," and to delete sub-section (2).—Tomás O Conaill.

Amendment to amendment No. 5.

2. In the proposed new sub-section to delete all words after the words "Veterinary Surgeon" in the last line but one.—Tomás O Conaill.

I am moving amendments 2 and 5. I think they will have to be looked at together. The first point is that by amendment 2 I want to prevent the recovery of fees by unregistered persons, and there is a certain amount of detail given with regard to this. I want to have it that no person shall be entitled to recover in legal proceedings a fee or charge for different things, and then I follow with certain conditions, unless such person was a registered veterinary surgeon at particular times, and the times are when the operation was performed or the medicine supplied. I put in a second sub-section whereby I want to establish that the person who sold the veterinary medicine is in his present position. Then in amendment 5 I want to amend Section 45 by putting at the end of it this new sub-section. Obviously, under Section 45 as it stands, it is unlawful for any person to practise or to represent or hold himself out, whether directly or by implication, as practising, or being prepared to practise veterinary surgery or veterinary medicine, unless he is registered. I want to say that nothing in the section shall render it unlawful, and after that I have got the draftsman to draft a formula which was spoken of, without being definitely agreed upon, on the last occasion on which we had this under discussion. The formula is this, that I would like every farmer, or any person who keeps animals for profit, or the servant of any such person, to perform operations or administer medicine to an animal of any class, whether owned by these persons or anybody else, provided that the performance of the operation, or the administering of the medicine, was incidental to the care and management of stock, and provided always that the person does not hold himself out in any of these forbidden capacities. These are my amendments. Deputy O'Connell has an amendment to delete certain words in sub-section (1) of my first amendment. I think the short explanation of it is that it is to delete any reference to the supply of veterinary medicine. He further proposes to delete the last line or a little bit more of the last amendment—to delete all words after the words "veterinary surgeon" in the last line but one. I do not know what the exact intention of deleting the last words in that section is, but I see the point with regard to the omission suggested in my new amendment in sub-section (1), and would be prepared to agree to this, leaving the other thing over for the moment, if the Deputy would then consider the advisability of omitting all my proposed sub-section (2).

Mr. O'Connell

I am proposing that.

Yes, I see that the Deputy is proposing that. I am agreeable to that, but I still want to hear the reasons for the suggested omission of the words at the end of amendment 5. I think the first part of my first amendment covers Deputy Ryan's amendment. I do not know whether he agrees with that, but I think it is exactly the same. I am not sure whether he is prepared to agree to my amendment with the omissions suggested by Deputy O'Connell.

As a matter of fact, sub-section (1) of the Minister's amendment is the same as my amendment, but I am not clear as to what Deputy O'Connell's amendment would mean. I agree that the Minister in his first amendment has covered what I had in mind, and I agree with what the Minister has in his third clause, but I do not altogether agree with the second. I think he is giving a little bit too much liberty in the way of dispensers.

I am proposing to accept Deputy O'Connell's amendment.

What would be the effect of that?

Mr. O'Connell

I raised the point on the Committee Stage of the Bill. The difficulty I saw about it was, and it is there still, that a person might go to a chemist's shop, or another shop where medicine is sold, and then the word "prescribe," or the significance of the word "prescribe," would be very considerable, and that was my trouble. It is even made stronger by putting in the word "recommending." It is quite a common thing for a man to go into a shop and tell the symptoms from which a beast was suffering, and the person selling medicine, whether a chemist or a man who stocked farm medicines in his shop, might recommend a particular medicine for that. It is quite a common thing in the country. I want to make sure that the farmer could not get away with it by simply pleading in such a case as that, "You recommended it, and therefore I need not pay you."

The point I want to deal with is that you still leave the words "veterinary medical advice given." Would he not still be giving veterinary medical advice?

Mr. O'Connell

Yes. But he would not be charging for it.

I do not want more liberty given to the chemist or the druggist, because complaints have been made to me of chemists actually going out to see beasts and prescribing for them. I do not think that is fair.

I have no great enthusiasm for my own sub-section (2). I put it in simply to have it discussed, because the matter of the chemist was raised when we were last debating the question. I said I would get an amendment drafted to bring them in, but it gives them too much power. I think there is considerable objection on the part of the veterinary profession to see this amendment passed as it is. People do not want to have it so widely extended, but I think Deputy O'Connell's amendment meets the case. He still refuses to allow an unregistered person to recover at law charges for veterinary advice given.

That is all right. I agree with that, but then if you omit all reference to the supply of veterinary medicine we will leave it as it is. I am quite willing to accept the Deputy's amendment to omit the words he has suggested should be omitted in Part I and all of sub-section (2).

Mr. O'Connell

I would like to say what I had in my mind. I do not think it was stressed in the debate, and that is the number of veterinary surgeons in the country. There are only six veterinary surgeons in the whole of the County Mayo for 28,000 farmers. If these farmers had to depend on the veterinary surgeons where would they be, and it is a common thing to get advice from the local people.

Amendment to amendment No. 2 put and agreed to.
Amendment, as amended, put and agreed to.
Amendments 3 and 4 not moved.

Mr. O'Connell

I move my amendment to amendment 5:

In the proposed new sub-section to delete all words after the words "veterinary surgeon" in the last line but one.

I think the difficulty there is about holding himself out. I do not want him to hold himself out as a registered veterinary surgeon, but as practising veterinary surgery. Suppose one of those people who do perform surgical operations, or what is known as surgical operations, on animals, said to somebody that he was prepared to do this, that and the other, and to perform some particular operation, would he be holding himself out as practising? It is the registered man we want to save and nobody else.

Mr. O'Connell

Could this section be held to apply to a man who did these things that we say are permissible under the Act on the ground that he held himself out in some way to practise?

I think "holding out" is a rather technical term and amounts almost to advertising. I think that is what it comes to. I do not think that a man who announces, when he hears that an animal required certain attention, and says "very good, I have a servant who is very good at that," or for the servant to say, "I'll attend to it," does so, that that would be against the law, while putting a notice in the paper, saying so-and-so is prepared to perform this and that operation, would be holding himself out.

Mr. O'Connell

What is your objection to that? We must not regard this at all from the ordinary medical point of view, such as Deputy Sir James Craig or Deputy Ryan would regard it in their profession. We must remember it is an entirely different matter when we are dealing with animals and human beings, and we must keep before our minds the number of veterinary surgeons in the country. As I pointed out, in the whole of Mayo there are only six veterinary surgeons to 28,000 farmers. I think the protection is quite sufficient as it is. I think there is a danger, as I say, on the point I make. With regard to advertising, I do not know whether there is any legal definition of "holding out" as the Minister says. I think it might be held that a man who suggested that he was able to perform these operations, whether he put it into the papers or not, was holding himself out.

That is the distinction I make. I think that advertising would be definitely "holding out." Conduct of a particular character might amount to holding oneself out. But I think the test generally taken is advertising. We do not prevent him practising, but we are preventing a man advertising himself or holding himself out by newspaper advertisements, circular, or letter sent round to the people. I think all that would amount to holding himself out.

I agree with the Minister that the question of advertising is the important thing. I would like to see in every district men capable of doing small operations. It would be a very serious matter if there were in a district five or six people advertising themselves as capable of doing some operations. That could not be tolerated at all, whereas I would be quite pleased to see people capable of doing the thing allowed to do it. It is different sending round letters, putting notices in their houses, or sending notices to the newspapers that they were capable of performing certain operations. I think that should certainly be debarred.

Would the Minister state what would be the position of certain people in connection with certain complaints who advertise herbs as medicines for animals?

There, I will begin to retire on the point of holding oneself out as practising veterinary medicine.

Is not a man who advertises a cure for certain complaints holding himself out?

Yes, I think he is holding himself out, but the Deputy should make the other point. Is he ready to practise veterinary surgery or medicine? Say there was an advertisement about something for gapes in chickens.

Mr. O'Connell

Supposing I discovered a cure for gapes in chickens, am I contravening this section?

You would be saving the country.

Mr. O'Connell

But I would not be allowed to save the country.

I suggest that the Minister should change the latter part of this so as to make it read after "veterinary surgeon":—"or is legally qualified to practise veterinary surgery or veterinary medicine."

Legally entitled.

Mr. O Connell

If he is not legally entitled he should not do it at all.

I think that would meet Deputy O'Connell's objection.

Mr. O Connell

I suggest the Bill will not lose anything if the Minister agrees to omit these words.

I have not considered the effect of that course. I am prepared to let the words go at the moment, but I may have to insert them later.

I would like to draw attention to another thing that was mentioned on the Committee Stage. There are certain men who would not be included, men who might not have stock of their own or be employed by a stock-owner, and who still might be very useful for the curing of some diseases and for doing certain small operations. If this clause were left out these men would be safe enough, but by inserting the clause their position is made unsafe. I believe that if a case were tried in court a judge would look at this clause and declare that the man was not included.

It is the Deputy's point that if this full amendment of mine were accepted, the particular type of individual he has in mind will have a worse chance?

He would be excluded altogether.

That is so.

I was hoping that he would. I want to exclude everybody except the farmer or other person who habitually keeps animals for profit, or the servant of any such person. I want to prohibit all except these people from performing certain operations. I do not know what the Deputy is warning me of, because that is what I intended.

[An Ceann Comhairle resumed the Chair.]

The big argument put up against this section by Deputy Gorey and other Deputies was that there were people in certain parts of the country who treated animals for profit.

I do not, with any great enthusiasm, view the enlargement of this clause. I said that an enlargement would be considered if I got an indication of any class of person other than a farmer, a stock owner, or a servant of either. I got no such indication.

Mr. O'Connell

I know of a man who lives in a labourer's cottage. He is unemployed most of the time. He used to work at a big house in the neighbourhood; he was a steward, or had something to do with cattle. He is frequently employed by neighbours to do this class of operation, and he gets small fees. What would be his position?

If he does not own land or stock, and if he is not servant to the owner of land or stock, then he would be prohibited.

Mr. O'Connell

I will give a typical example. This man is in a labourer's cottage. He is a very skilful man, and he was employed by a big landholder in the district, who has now gone away. This man gets odd jobs of that kind. He is not a farmer's man, and I think he would be definitely ruled out.

He certainly would.

There is quite a number of the class to whom Deputy O'Connell refers, and they are living on their old age pensions. All through their lives they have been practising that kind of thing, and their skill has not declined with old age.

Their pensions might decline. I am accepting the omission of the words, although not with much enthusiasm and with the possibility confronting me of having to make an amendment at another place. The words to be omitted are "or as practising veterinary surgery or veterinary medicine."

Amendment 5, as altered, agreed to.
Question—"That the Bill, as amended, be received for final consideration"—put and agreed to.
Fifth Stage fixed for Friday, 12th June.