In Committee on Finance. - Agricultural Produce (Cereals) Bill, 1934—Committee Stage.

Sections 1 to 4 agreed to.
SECTION 5.
Question proposed: "That Section 5 stand part of the Bill."

The Minister attempts to define in this section his new flour. He ought to explain the difference between the new brand of flour and the old. Could he tell the House how much below the ordinary standard of first-class flour this new flour will be even without the introduction of any foreign material such as oats, or dried milk? The milling process will not go so hard on wheat. Therefore, there will be less expenditure on the manufacture of the flour. More will be got out of the grain. This matter of flour milling is technical, and I think that the House and the country should be in a position to understand the difference between the contemplated flour and the flour we have at present. The flour we have at present is the best product milling science can get out of wheat. What can be extracted from wheat to make first-class flour is evidently, not going to be extracted in the future, and, presumably, we are to be forced to eat more pollard and to be told that it is good for us, although progressive flour milling has gone beyond that stage long since. Would the Minister tell us what exactly is the difference between the flour defined in the section and the flour that we have been accustomed to and that the world has been accustomed to?

In connection with Section 56, I would like to know whether the Minister has power to issue an order requiring that wheat be mixed with oat kernels, and what the trade description of the reinforced article will be: whether it will be flour or composite flour?

Will the name be on the wrappers or containers in all cases?

Dr. Ryan

That is not provided for by law. No other flour except composite flour will be permitted to be sold, so that it is not necessary to do what the Deputy has suggested.

Has the Minister examined the full implications of that? Suppose that a man orders flour, and is supplied with an article that is not flour, a nice question, I suggest, will arise for decision as to whether this order will stand in a case where a prosecution is taken.

Dr. Ryan

The point that the Deputy is raising does not appear to me to be of any substance. An order will come into force, and from the date of that order nobody in this country will get anything but composite flour, so that I do not think it is necessary to put a label on it as the Deputy has suggested.

Does not the Minister realise that an article may be sold which does not fulfil that particular description? For instance, some flour will be in stock before the order comes in force. That will require to be sold, and it will be sold under the description of "flour" as far as I can gather from my reading of Section 56. I admit that I read the section hastily. It is not easy to read Bills now in the form in which they are produced, but so far as I have read the Bill it does not appear that any description of composite flour will be attached to any wrapper or container, and there is nothing to indicate that it will be sold under that description. The only terminology employed is "flour." The Minister's description of that is fulfilled so far as the virgin article is concerned, but as regards the admixture there is no corresponding description and no definition of it in the Bill. Perhaps the Minister will consider that point before the Report Stage is taken.

Dr. Ryan

That point can be considered. I cannot understand the point Deputy Belton is raising. In this Bill we are defining flour as "the finely-reduced product of wheat obtained by sifting the ground endosperm of the wheat berry through a standard bolting cloth, not coarser than a No. 9 standard bolting cloth, the bran and pollard of the wheat having been removed by suitable milling process," so that we are actually compelling flour millers, for the first time, to remove bran and pollard if they are going to call it flour. Deputy Belton appears to think that the world has been enjoying the best possible product by getting flour from which the bran and pollard have been removed. Therefore, from his point of view, we are going to give the people of this country, by law, the most perfect flour in the world. As far as the definition goes there is no question whatever of reducing the standard of flour.

Presumably the Minister has read the application that was made to the Tariff Commission for a tariff on flour. From the Report of the Tariff Commission it appeared that the article sold here was far superior to that sold in Great Britain; in fact, superior to the article sold in any other country. I would like to know whether there has been any departure from that high standard of quality. I have heard complaints recently of numerous people suffering from attacks of indigestion. I am anxious to know if these might be due to an alteration in the diet of the people. Personally I do not think there could be so many complaints unless there had been some big change of the kind. I would like to know if anything of the kind has happened. The complaints that I have heard may be due to the admixture scheme carried out under the Principal Act. Prior to the passing of that Act it was admitted that the quality of the flour sold here was superior to that sold elsewhere. I would like to know if there has been any departure from that standard.

Dr. Ryan

No. There was nothing laid down in it about the amount of flour that must be got from the wheat. Until Deputy Cosgrave mentioned the matter I was not aware of any complaints about increased numbers of people suffering from indigestion. If the number of such complaints has increased, then I think that must be due to overfeeding. With regard to Deputy Belton's point, "fineness" is the only difference in the definition section as between the original one and this Bill.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 6.
Question proposed: "That Section 6 stand part of the Bill."

I would like to know from the Minister if the millers are satisfied with the quotas they have been allotted. I am anxious to get information on this because it is provided in later sections that wherever the quota allotted is exceeded the penalties laid down are fairly severe. What I am anxious to know is if there has been agreement between the millers as to the quotas which they have received, and if there is general satisfaction with regard to the distribution of the quota?

Dr. Ryan

I would not think so. I am not directly responsible for this part of the Act, but from what I know the preliminary quota allotted by the Minister for Industry and Commerce was not always to the satisfaction of the millers. It was allotted on the basis of the capacity of the mill: so many sacks per hour. Some of the millers certainly say that they could increase their output, and that they are not being allowed to do so. The Minister had no power to vary the quota during the preliminary period, but feels that he should have that power. Even if a miller was willing to have his quota varied there was no power to do that under the Principal Act.

Assume that a mill has a capacity for 20 sacks, that its output is 16 and that 18 would make it an economic proposition. Was there an effort made to make such a mill economic?

Dr. Ryan

There was.

In other words, was there a fair distribution of the extra milling that was available?

Dr. Ryan

There can be no doubt that an effort was made to give the millers an opportunity of making their mills economic.

Was there fair distribution in all cases?

Dr. Ryan

As far as I know, yes.

The point that I want information on is this: was there a fair distribution of what was over, and was that distributed on a regular basis?

Dr. Ryan

I am perfectly sure that there was.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 7 and 8 agreed to.
SECTION 9.
Question proposed: "That Section 9 stand part of the Bill."

As regards sub-section (a), is this another tax?

Dr. Ryan

It is a variation of a tax that is on at present.

It does not mean any loss to the Exchequer, I presume?

Dr. Ryan

No. It is a gain.

Would the Minister give the House a short description of the reason for this, because the sums in question reach a very high figure. In one case there is 1,540 lbs., and a sum calculated at the rate of 30/- for every 400 lbs. of wheat. That appears to be a very heavy tax.

Dr. Ryan

Of course, Deputy Cosgrave understands that this is for exceeding the quota.

Dr. Ryan

It is a graded fine — not a tax. Where the output of the mill is less than 3,000 barrels per annum, the fine is 3/- for every 400 pounds in excess of the output. Then it is graded upwards. Where it is more than 3,000 barrels and less than 4,000 barrels, it is 5/-. Where it is more than 4,000 and less than 5,000, it is 10/-. Where it is more than 5,000 and less than 6,000, it is 20/-. Where it is more than 6,000, it is 30/-. The bigger mills found it, I believe, to their advantage to over mill at certain periods, in order, first of all, to hold on to certain customers whom they wished to hold on to and, secondly, in order to compete in a rather unfair way against the smaller mills. If a mill is turning out 16 sacks an hour, and they mill an extra sack, it makes a very big difference over a period, but the 3/- spread over the whole 17 sacks does not fall very heavily on a big mill, especially as a bigger mill may be able to work more economically than a smaller mill. Their economic advantage would be much more than that fine spread over their total output, so it was found necessary to make the levy much heavier on the bigger mills than on the smaller ones.

In connection with the 1,540 pounds mentioned in sub-head (v), what is the actual capacity or rather the quota that a mill would get in this particular case?

Dr. Ryan

I did not catch what the Deputy said.

What quota would that mill be filling in the normal course?

Dr. Ryan

That is where the fine is 30/-?

No — 1,540 pounds. What would the actual output of that mill be legally? There is no information in the section, as far as I could run through it, as to what the actual allotment of the quota would be in a case where a fine of that sort would operate. I take it that it is unlikely that a small mill would mill such an excessive amount that they would be liable for the fine. Would the Minister give us an idea of the output of a mill which would be likely to be caught by this, or does he expect that any mill would be caught by it?

Dr. Ryan

As I explained to Deputy Cosgrave, it applies to them all. Up to 3,000 barrels per year, there is a 3/- fine for every 400 pounds in excess of the quota. Then it goes on until you come to over 6,000 barrels, so that no mill escapes.

I know that, but it is unlikely that a small mill will be affected?

Dr. Ryan

That is true.

Will the Minister give us an idea of what mill he has in mind as likely to be affected?

Dr. Ryan

Any mill from 3,000 barrels upwards would be likely to, during periods.

It is not very unlikely that a mill with a quota of over 3,000 barrels would exceed that quota by 6,000?

Dr. Ryan

But they need not exceed it by 6,000.

They would, in order to be liable for the 1,540 lbs.

Dr. Ryan

That is true.

What I want to know is can the Minister tell us what would be the output of a mill which might do this?

Dr. Ryan

It is only the bigger mills which could reach the top limit.

By about how many barrels?

Dr. Ryan

Certainly over 6,000 anyway. I cannot say exactly, but it would certainly be over 6,000.

Does the Minister anticipate that over milling would still go on, notwithstanding the increased fines which are being provided? So far as I know, some of the smaller mills are very much worried by the possibility of this over milling, and by the competition through over milling on the part of big mills which can afford to pay the fines. It is driving them out of existence.

Dr. Ryan

I do not think it is likely to go on under this scale of fines. That is designed to stop it completely.

Will the Minister say if any fines have been imposed?

Dr. Ryan

Yes. I cannot say how much. My Department was not dealing with this, and I do not know the exact amount.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections Nos. 10, 11 and 12 put and agreed to.
SECTION 13.
Question proposed: "That Section 13 stand part of the Bill."

I was wondering whether seven days were quite enough in this case; formerly it was a month. It struck me that seven days was rather a sharp cut off. You give a month's notice, but nevertheless you are entitled to operate within seven days?

Dr. Ryan

Not exactly. We are not entitled to take action during the month, but we give them seven days to appeal against our taking action, so that we can hold an inquiry. The month still operates before we can act.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections Nos. 14, 15 and 16 put and agreed to.
SECTION 17.
Question proposed: "That Section 17 stand part of the Bill."

Can the Minister tell us why the name should not be deleted?

Dr. Ryan

Under the Principal Act, where a person died the registration was changed over to the person succeeding. When people sold their mills or went out of business, and another person came in, the registration had to be formally removed, and there had to be re-registration. Under this amendment the registration remains; we just change the name as if a person had died. It makes matters much easier in cases of change of ownership.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 18 and 19 put and agreed to.
SECTION 20.
Question proposed: "That Section 20 stand part of the Bill."

In this section there is a sub-section (1); then there is (a), and following that there is (b), between (a) and (b). Sub-section (a) sets out that "the following paragraphs were inserted in sub-section (4) thereof in lieu of...." I do not know whether the paragraph mentioned is (e) or (c).

This is something to which I must enter an objection. It says "there has, in the opinion of the appropriate Minister, been any contravention (whether by omission or commission) of this Act or any regulations made thereunder by persons registered in such register." The Minister's work should be administrative. If people are to be tried for commission or omission then that enters into the realm of judicial work, and even though it may have happened up to this, it is not a good thing to happen in legislation. I suggest that the Minister should reconsider this part of the section. He sees my point.

Dr. Ryan

I do.

A person who may be brought up in the normal course can appear before the court and make representations. Here it simply says, "in the opinion of the Minister." Although I do not suggest that would be the intention of the administration in the section as drawn, no such opportunity may be afforded a person concerned. It would simply be said it had been reported that such and such had happened and in consequence registration is disallowed. It is unwise to put it in that form. Registration in these cases is a serious proposition. There is a certain vested interest in registration. Certain departments might look upon an act of omission or commission of that sort very severely, when the fact is that in most cases the omission would be accidental. There are commissions of offences perpetrated by employers, and in certain cases the employers are held responsible. It would certainly appear to me, on reading the section, that it was rather a mistake to have a responsibility of that kind put upon the Minister. To operate the procedure the Minister has in mind, he has to consider the opportunities to be given to persons of whom complaints have been made of omission or commission. A man should not lose what is a vested interest except by the order of a judicial tribunal.

Dr. Ryan

The object of amending the section in the Principal Act arose exactly on the point on which Deputy Cosgrave has been speaking when we had in sub-section (4) to deal with causes for which the Minister could remove a name from the register, usually misrepresentation, fraud, bankruptcy, or if the person registered had been committing an offence. We found from experience in working the Act that some small millers absolutely defied the Department and the Minister. They told us to go ahead and to take action, and that they were prepared to carry on pending such action. Action is slow. It takes three, four or six months to carry out the necessary formalities, while there is also the possibility of appeal. In the meantime these mills, even though in a small way, in certain circumstances, may make very big profits. They go ahead and defy the Minister. That was the position in two or three cases. It was the mill owners approached my Department asking to have something like this done. The mill owners' representatives have agreed upon this form. If Deputies read sub-section (2) (a), (b) they will see there what can be regarded as sufficient safeguards, and that if a person asks for an inquiry the Minister must grant it and it must be public.

(b) the said Minister shall give to the person in relation to whom such inquiry is to be held notice of the time and place of the holding of such inquiry, and such person shall be entitled to appear at such inquiry by counsel or solicitor and to adduce evidence.

As the section is drafted, the mill cannot be closed until the inquiry is held. Within seven days an enquiry can be asked for and a notice of appeal lodged. If notice of appeal is not lodged we may close the mill after a month, but we cannot cancel registration until the result of the inquiry is known. I think there are sufficient safeguards.

The Minister should consider the other matter, the power of withdrawing registration being exercised after the inquiry. The Minister says that he can give notice that he is going to withdraw registration, and if there is objection from the miller he holds an inquiry. If the report is favourable to the miller, then the cancellation is withdrawn. I suggest that he should begin by holding the inquiry when he has received complaints of omission or commission. If, as a result of the inquiry, after evidence being taken on oath, a recommendation is made to him to withdraw registration, there would not be very much objection. There is always trouble about notices, and, out of three or four hundred cases, there might be one case of hardship, a man being away from home, or sick, or a combination of circumstances by which he just failed to keep within the period. There may be a case of a mill owner not being in his right mind and being elsewhere at the time, so that if an inquiry were first held there would not be so much objection to the operation of the first part of the section.

Who will hold the inquiry?

Dr. Ryan

An official appointed by the Minister.

Who will be authorised to take evidence?

Dr. Ryan

Does the Deputy want the inquiry held, whether it is asked for or not?

Yes. On the mere fact that it has been reported to the Department that so-and-so had committed an offence, or neglected to fill in returns, the Minister does notipso facto say that he will cancel registration; but if he gets a complaint, and holds an inquiry, and gets a recommendation saying that the man had been unjustly dealt with, cancellation should be withdrawn.

I support that suggestion. I think it is a fair one. Many cases will arise where something will happen and attention might not be paid to notices. If the Minister held the inquiry, then the person concerned could appeal. The Minister should be free to act in the matter.

Dr. Ryan

I think the point is worth considering and I shall do so. There are certain cases where mills became derelict, no one looking after them, or where the owners died. We have to remove them from the register. Where no complaint is made I do not think we should hold an inquiry.

These cases are the exceptional ones.

Dr. Ryan

No; I should say that there are more cases than these to be removed by the Minister. I will consider the point.

When sending notices that it is proposed to delete names from the register, it should be intimated to the parties than an appeal is possible. That may be done at present, but, if not, it would be some help to the proprietors if there was an intimation that they had a certain length of time to appeal.

Dr. Ryan

That is always done in these cases.

Can the Minister say if the person who will hold the inquiry will be a man of experience, and one who will be impartial in the administration of justice? A good deal of responsibility will devolve on him in dealing with property and vested interests, and great care should be given to the selection of men appointed to discharge such responsible duties.

Dr. Ryan

The person to be appointed will be a high officer of the Department and one who had nothing to do with these cases.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 21.
Question proposed: "That Section 21 stand part of the Bill."

I must say that the Minister did not convince me on the last day when dealing with this matter that a man who grows wheat himself and gets it manufactured into flour for his own use is not entitled to the bounty. He is in the same position as any ordinary citizen. He can buy wheat or flour belonging to the man next door to him, and the man next door can buy his wheat or flour, as the case may be. The Minister's original policy was to give a bounty for wheat. The fact that a person grows it for his own use should not, in my view, disqualify him from getting the advantage which his neighbour gets. In the ordinary course of events, I take it the value of wheat grown by anybody in this country is about 17/- or 17/6; that would be a fair average price. A man grows that for home use. It is worth 25/-; otherwise there would not be a bounty of 7/6 given with it. It appears strange that because he is going to use it in his own household he is disqualified from getting the miller to mill it for him. There can be an exchange between neighbours, but some people would prefer to be able to say that all on their table was grown on the farm. Take the case of three farmers. One grows wheat for his own use, and does not get the 7/6. Another one sells his wheat to the miller on the understanding that the miller will sell it to his neighbour. The third man also sells it to the miller on the understanding that the miller will sell it to his neighbour. The result is that two of these farmers get the 7/6, while the third is denied it because he uses it in his own household. In essence, if farmers were to grow all the wheat they would require, then all the farmers would deprive themselves of the bounty which they would get in the normal course if they were to buy their neighbour's product. I think the Minister ought to reconsider the section.

This has particular application to many cases in my constituency. There are farmers there who have always grown wheat for their own household, and who cannot afford to grow any substantial area of wheat. They are going to lose the bounty. They are small farmers who cannot afford to grow any wheat for sale. This section penalises them in the way stated by Deputy Cosgrave and I think it is highly unjust. They have always grown wheat, and they will continue to do so. They will be doing it under a penalty in comparison with their neighbours.

It appears to me that there can be no logical case made for this section. If, as Deputy Cosgrave said, certain benefits are to be given to growers of wheat it appears to me to be illogical that there should be a differentiation made between different growers. It appears unfair that one particular citizen should be compelled to pay more for his food than another if he has a prejudice, if you like, in favour of home-grown food. That is what the section amounts to. If you refuse the bounty to a man because he grows the wheat he requires, and gets it milled by a miller, you are in fact making him use dearer flour than his neighbour because his neighbour can get that man's flour from the miller at a certain price, and also get the advantage of the bounty. If you offer me a bounty for selling my own product, and that is used for general purposes in which I can share, I am getting the benefit of that bounty. It comes off the cost of the article I consume. So that the refusal of a bounty to a particular grower is adding to the cost of what he consumes at home. There can be, as I say, no logical case made for this section. Perhaps Deputy Cosgrave's way of putting it would be the more concise and clear. If my neighbour is to be entitled to use my wheat and flour, and I get the bounty, why should I not be allowed to utilise it myself and get the bounty, orvice versa? If my neighbour is debarred from using his own flour, and I use it, he can get the bounty. Can any logical case be made for refusing the bounty to one of us? I think the section ought to be withdrawn by the Minister.

Dr. Ryan

I think we should look at this from the point of view of the consumers. I do not see why a farmer who produces wheat for his own use should get any benefit that a person in a town would not get. If the farmer comes in and sells his wheat and gets the bounty and takes it back again, he really has his wheat back much cheaper than the person in the town who is consuming it would have it. If the farmers are to get the benefit of the bounty for selling the wheat, there is no reason why they should get an advantage also over the ordinary consumer. We should look at it from that point of view. They should be all treated equally.

If I get the benefit of the bounty by selling my wheat and using Deputy Cosgrave's wheat, and he uses mine, it is six of one and half a dozen of the other.

Supposing I send 20 barrels of wheat and Deputy Bennett sends the same quantity, and I say that I do not want my own wheat because I would get no bounty. I take two barrels of wheat Deputy Bennett has sent and he takes two barrels of mine. In that case the bounty is paid in full. I have no faith in this wheat business. I need not make any speech about that. The Minister knows that I have no faith in it. I think it is a mistake, that it is not good business. In a case of this kind, however, I think it is only fair that we should be just to all the persons concerned. May I put it from the Minister's point of view? He is interested in the growing of wheat and the turning of wheat into flour. There is no better case for the sale of Irish wheat than from the grower back to the grower again, because he uses the whole lot. If the desire is to grow more wheat, I take it the Minister's policy is to import as little as possible. I take the other view. I think it is wasting our time producing an article which can be produced for us at a much lower price and at less cost to us, and that we should employ our land and our time in growing and marketing an article that will bring us a greater profit. However, we can leave that aside, as that is not the point in dispute.

The Minister's policy is to grow all the wheat possible. If all the farmers who grow wheat buy their own wheat they are in no different position from anybody else; in fact they are in a stronger position, because they are consuming more of the product that the Minister says ought to be produced in this country. If there is a swop between neighbours, the bounty is paid without demur. It so happens, however, that certain people would prefer that what they grow on their own farm should be consumed in the household. I take it that the sum involved would not be considerable in any case. It is quite possible that in any one case 15/- would be about as much as would be involved. Quite possibly there would not be more than 2,000 people involved; so that about £1,500 would be about the total. On the bare justice of the matter, it is on the product itself that the bounty is to be paid. It is for the production of it that the Minister is giving the bounty. The bounty is not given to individuals unless they produce the article. When the article is produced it ought to bear whatever bounty is given, no matter what its destination. I take it that the Minister would be prepared to pay the bounty even on the export of wheat, because his desire is to get more wheat grown in the country. If the desire be output, then there should be no limitation in respect to the uses or the destination of the article itself.

Dr. Ryan

I quite admit it is very difficult to stop two farmers swopping wheat, as it were, and getting the bounty. If we could think of any way in which to stop it, we would be inclined to do so. If we could legally stop it, we would do it.

In other words, if you could draft a section that would prevent the growers getting the bounty, you would do it?

Dr. Ryan

Yes, in such circumstances as I have outlined.

Now we know where we are. It is a pity that Deputy Corry is not here.

Dr. Ryan

Deputy Corry said that this section was absolutely useless, because it would not achieve his purpose. Probably it is not as well drawn as we would like to have it. We would like to make it illegal for a man to act in the way I have suggested.

Wheat requires a subsidy of 7/6 to the farmer to justify it?

Dr. Ryan

That is right.

He is producing something which you have asked him to produce. In the ordinary course there would not be this expansion in the growing of wheat if it were not for the 7/6. A man will get it in respect of 19 barrels, but in the case of the barrel that goes back to himself he will not get it because the wheat is for his own use. It costs him more to produce the wheat than he will sell it for; if not, then the 7/6 is absolute profit. I take it the desire on the Minister's part would be to see the wheat of this country turned into flour and consumed in every farmer's household?

Dr. Ryan

That is the basis.

If that is the basis, and they are bound not to use one another's wheat, there is no difference between us. I must say I find it very hard to understand the Minister's mind.

We had better be honest in this matter. If we let this thing stand, the farmers are going to wangle outside. Why not let us be honest? As this section stands, they are going to be dishonest outside; they are going to play the trick and to do the wangling. Why not prevent that? It is illegal. We are simply going to make them do illegal things. Why not stop that?

Apparently it would be the popular thing for all Deputies to support the case made by the Opposition. If you examine the scheme we have here for regulating and controlling butter prices, the very same case could be made as that made by Deputy Cosgrave in connection with the wheat subsidy. If you take the farmer who is producing milk and butter for his own use, he is getting no benefits from the scheme that was introduced here to help the producer of milk and butter. If you take the wheat producers to whom reference has been made, many of them are being subsidised by the local county committees. They have been given subsidies indirectly in the way of seed supplies, and they have been asked to supply themselves and their families with food. It surely cannot be contended that the owners and occupiers of land are only being asked to supply themselves and their families with food? In the other case, you are asking farmers and producers to supply people who have not land and cannot have land. I think in all fairness, while it may be a most popular thing to do, the Opposition cannot insist upon their line of argument. It is unfair to attempt to put both types of producers on the same footing.

I am afraid Deputy Smith's comparison is not quite correct. The producers of butter get no benefits under the Act, but I do not like to go into that question at the moment. In this case the Minister is attempting to popularise the growth and consumption of Irish wheat. There could be no better advertisement for the Minister's campaign than this—that the farmers are so proud of their own wheat and flour that there is a demand from them to get back their own produce. If there were demands made on the millers by farmers to get back their own wheat in the form of flour, that would be the greatest proof the Minister could have of the success of the wheat-growing campaign.

Question put: "That Section 21 stand part of the Bill."
The Committee divided: Tá, 43; Níl, 20.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Donnelly, Eamon.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Geoghegan, James.
  • Hales, Thomas.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O'Doherty, Joseph.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Walsh, Richard.

Níl

  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenny, James.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • O'Connor, Batt.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Rice, Vincent.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.
Question declared carried.
Section 22 agreed to.
SECTION 23.

Dr. Ryan

I move amendment No. 1:—

To insert at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—

(3) Section 71 of the Principal Act is hereby amended in the following respects and shall be construed and have effect accordingly, that is to say—

(a) by the substitution in sub-section (1) thereof of the words "prescribed in relation to" for the words "of three months before the commencement of" now contained therein; and

(b) by the substitution in paragraph (a) of sub-section (2) thereof of the words "prescribed in relation to" for the words "of three months next preceding the commencement of."

This amendment is intended to give power to the Minister for Agriculture, in future, to fix by regulation the last date on which growers of wheat may register. In the Principal Act passed in 1932 the date is fixed as the 30th April. We found last year that growers applied for registration after the 30th April. The result was that in the amending Act of last year we extended the period to the 30th September. Yet we had 400 or 500 growers applying later again. We are now making a permanent change in the Act so that the Minister will be able to fix, by regulations, the latest date he chooses under the Act. I think it should not be as late as last year, namely, December. It would be very difficult to make a calculation as regards national percentage in such circumstances as these. At the latest I would say about the 30th of September should be the date. At any rate it gives us the power by legislation.

Will information be given to the growers that a change has been made in the date?

Dr. Ryan

It will be advertised. We do not know the growers.

Should the newspaper strike last for three months and people in certain districts are getting no papers, how would that affect the question? In some places people get a weekly paper and they certainly do not read the advertisements. September would be a very early date. Last year the people were penalised with regard to getting their sales docket within the period. Quite a number of people were penalised. It was very unjust simply in order to make people toe the line and to make them come in at what is regarded as the wheat sale season. Here we are fixing the date now in September, a time when the crop will be only harvested. In many districts perhaps there are no papers at all to be had and in many cases the people do not read papers. I suggest that some other steps should be taken by the Minister to notify the people if he is fixing the date so early. At the moment it would be hard to say what would be a practical suggestion. In many of those Acts with regard to schemes carried out by the county councils it has been the practice that announcements were made in the churches in connection with matters like this. In so serious a matter as this, practical steps should be taken to convey the change in date to every farmer in the country. I do not think the matter should be allowed to be fixed on a short notice like this.

Dr. Ryan

The Deputy must remember that the farmers were told that these should be in by the 30th of April this year and if they got no further notification at all there would not be any grievance now.

I am not complaining about the 30th of April but about the three periods that are fixed.

Dr. Ryan

That does not arise here.

Yes, but we had all these aspects of the question last year.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 23, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 24.
Question proposed: "That Section 24 stand part of the Bill."

Would the Minister explain what is the meaning of this:—"(2) It shall not be lawful for any person other than a registered maize importer to sell any maize unless under and in accordance with the licence granted by the Minister"?

Dr. Ryan

The position at present is that a maize importer is only allowed to sell maize to a maize miller or another maize importer so that the maize could not get out of the hands of the maize miller or the maize importer and that in fact there could be no possibility of maize being in the hands of any other person. But supposing it was, there is nothing to prevent that person from selling it.

Would not this section catch the ordinary grocer selling a 14 lb. bag of maize meal?

Dr. Ryan

No.

Why not? "It shall not be lawful for any person to sell any maize unless under and in accordance with the licence granted by the Minister."

Dr. Ryan

But he will have a licence in accordance with the terms of the Act.

The retail grocer has no licence for selling maize?

Dr. Ryan

But the maize miller will have a licence and it is from him the maize will be got.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 25.

Dr. Ryan

I move amendment No. 2.

Before Section 25 to insert a new section as follows:—

Section 82 of the Principal Act is hereby amended in the following respects and shall be construed and have effect accordingly, that is to say:—

(a) by the substitution in subsections (1) and (3) of the said section of the word "Oat-kernels" for the words "the kernels only of oats" wherever the latter words occur; and

(b) by the insertion at the end of the said section of the following new sub-section, that is to say:—

(6) In this section the word "oat-kernel" means the part of an oat remaining after such oat has been subjected to a process whereby the hull or shell of such oat has been removed either wholly or to such an extent that the portion of such hull or shell remaining does not exceed in weight two and one-half per cent. of the weight of the said part of such oat remaining after subjection to such process.

This is a definition of "oat kernels." Whether there is a proposition in this Bill or not to mix the oat kernel with flour this will be necessary. There was no definition of an "oat-kernel" in the Principal Act. Where the maize miller mixes oat kernels with maize meal he is only asked to put in about 70 per cent. of what he would put in it were it all whole oats. He therefore gets an advantage of 30 per cent. reduction. It is estimated that 30 per cent. of the oats is removed in the hulls. Unless we define the "oat kernels" it might be possible that a person might come along and say that in the oat kernels only five per cent. or ten per cent. of the bulk was removed and the rest ground down. It is very necessary to have a definition to show what the "oat kernels" are and it is more particularly necessary to have it if oat kernels are to be mixed with flour for human consumption.

Amendment agreed to.
Sections 25 to 28 agreed to.
SECTION 29.
Question proposed: "That Section 29 stand part of the Bill."

On this section I would like to ask the Minister whether flour would not come under the heading of compound feeding stuff?

Dr. Ryan

I did not catch what the Deputy said.

Does flour come under the heading of compound feeding stuff? if so it would appear that there would have to be some printing on the packet.

Dr. Ryan

It might be.

Deputy Cosgrave raised this matter earlier, and another matter about the possibility of making it incumbent on the producer of the new flour to label the packages and bags. I think if the Minister accepts the definition that all flour comes under the heading of compound feeding stuffs, it would cover it. In this way they would have to affix the name and address of the manufacturer, and so on. Is that so?

Dr. Ryan

Compound feeding stuff would be any food stuffs mixed together.

What I want to know is this: Will flour, as it will be henceforth described, be compound feeding stuff?

Dr. Ryan

It will not be described as feeding stuff at all.

I am at a loss to know how it will be described.

Dr. Ryan

That may tax the enthusiasm of the Deputy, but that is not saying much about it.

It is not, but the Minister might clarify the matter.

Sections 29, 30 and 31 agreed to.
SECTION 32.
Question proposed: That Section 32 stand part of the Bill.

On this section the question of licences arises. I want to know from the Minister for Agriculture if it is his intention in connection with the licensing provisions contained in Section 32 to provide a register which will be accessible to the public or to a limited section of the public for examination with a view to informing them of the terms and conditions under which licences have been issued?

Dr. Ryan

No.

Well, Sir, attention has been drawn in this House not once but many times to the very grave dissatisfaction that has prevailed in the country in connection with the administration of such licensing powers mentioned already in these circumstances. Under Section 32 the Minister "may grant to such importer a licence expressed to authorise such importer, subject to compliance with such conditions as he thinks fit to impose." I draw the attention of the House specially to the paragraph, "subject to compliance with such conditions as he thinks fit to impose, to sell imported wheaten flour to a specified person without limit as to time or quantity or either of them or within a specified time or in a specified quantity."

Similar powers have been afforded to the Minister under a variety of other statutes. As the House is aware, the Minister has, under some of the Finance Acts, power to advise the Revenue Commissioners to admit free of duty, by way of licence, certain commodities which are subject to a customs tax. It was clearly the impression of the House, when that licensing power was given, that it would be operated for the purpose of making it free to any citizen of the State to import a tariffed commodity if supplies of that commodity were not forthcoming from some Saorstát source. It is common knowledge to every merchant in the country that what is happening in certain cases is that protected manufacturers, who are supposed to be producing all of the commodities concerned that the Saorstát requires, find themselves unable to fill the vacuum and they are being allowed to import the particular commodities free of duty.

Will the Deputy name one of these manufacturers?

I will not.

The Deputy cannot name one of them.

These people are being allowed to import as much as may be necessary to fill the market requirements of the country, and other merchants find, when they apply for a licence, that they are referred to the manufacturer who has undertaken to supply the whole demand from Saorstát sources and they find that they can get from him, at protected prices, merchandise that he has been licensed to import free of duty.

Name the cases.

I am defending a proposal here whereunder a register of licences will be kept that will be available for examination to all persons so that the necessary information can be got without raising the matter in this House at all.

May I remind the Deputy that he raised a question like this on a previous occasion and, when challenged about his statement, he said that he would send in the particulars in a few days.

That is being prepared, and it refers to exactly the same thing as is contained in this Bill.

But the Deputy did not send in the information.

That refers to licences to import flour. Now, there is one simple way out of this difficulty; and that is to make these licences open for perusal to every citizen of the State.

Provided that there is nothing in connection with these licences that would be a matter for public scandal, there can be no conceivable objection to making them open for perusal to everybody in the country. Possibly, an objection would be that to open commercial licences of this character to the public, generally, might give rise to misunderstanding by the mass of people who would not be familiar with conditions under which the particular trade is carried on. If that objection is sustainable, then let the register be open only to people engaged in competition with the licensee in the same trade. I think that there can be no justification for this method of secret licensing and the granting of licences under secret conditions and secret circumstances. I should like to impress most strongly on the Minister that it is giving rise all through the country to a feeling that the general administration in connection with those licences is not above board. If that be the impression through the country, the sooner it is cleared away the better for everybody, and the only effective way of doing so is to keep registers which will be open for perusal to such persons as are entitled to persue them.

Can the Deputy mention one responsible organisation in the country in confirmation of the views he expresses?

If the Minister were more in contact with the mercantile community at large, and not with the particular section of it to which he is doling out tariffs, he would hear from all sides what I am saying here. I am not asking him to do anything extraordinary or anything revolutionary, but simply to communicate to the country the information that is wanted, and that is the circumstances under which certain people are entitled to import certain commodities free of duty in certain cases or the licensing conditions generally.

The Deputy has made what, in my opinion, is a charge of corruption against three members of the Government, among whose duties is the responsibility for the issue of licences. He has also made, in my opinion, a charge of corruption against the Revenue Commissioners. No licence can be issued, so far as I am aware, for the importation of goods under any section of the Finance Acts, except by the Revenue Commissioners with the consent of the Minister for Finance after consultation with the Minister for Industry and Commerce. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has stated what I know to be a fact: that if a licence is granted to any person for a commodity, any other person in the same circumstances can get a licence for the same article. There is no favouritism as between one individual in the community and another.

The Deputy has raised here in the House an isolated case, an instance which took place very many months ago. In every debate on every Bill in which there is a licensing provision, that case has been cited by the Deputy, and on it an expanding mountain of misrepresentation has been built up by the Deputy. Three months ago, the Deputy promised, having made a statement more or less in the same terms as the statement he made to-night, to furnish to the Minister for Industry and Commerce the facts upon which he based his allegations.

Three weeks ago.

It was three months ago.

Well, even if it were three weeks ago, surely, before the Deputy made so grave a statement as he made here in the House to-night, he would have had the facts upon which he based that statement at his finger tips. Surely it would not take him three weeks to put those facts down in a letter. They must be few. They must be simple. They must stand against controversion. If there was any substance in the allegation; if he felt that he had a public duty to discharge in this matter, it was incumbent upon him to set those facts before the Minister and to give him an opportunity of dealing with them. So far as I am aware, the Deputy has not placed the facts in connection with this single, isolated instance before the Minister yet.

Which do you mean? If you are referring to Templecrone Cooperative Society, I have raised the matter half a dozen times.

The single instance which the Deputy says he raised three weeks ago, and which the Minister for Industry and Commerce says the Deputy raised three months ago. The Deputy has stated that there were not one or two instances, but many instances. These licensing provisions have been in operation for 18 months now—almost two years. In the whole of that time—and I am the Minister mentioned in the Acts as being responsible for the general licensing provisions —I have not had from the Deputy one authentic instance, one instance whether authentic or not. I have not had one complaint from him, with the exception of that Templecrone case, which the Minister for Industry and Commerce has dealt with time after time in the House to the general satisfaction of the House—although not, I admit, to the satisfaction of the Deputy, who behaves in this case, like Uncle Dick in David Copperfield. Like the gentleman who was obsessed with King Charles's head, he has to drag it in or every occasion and into every discussion in this House. In regard to the general matters covered by the licensing provisions, I repeat neither I nor the Revenue Commissioners have received from the Deputy any complaint about the manner in which the licensing provisions have been operated. I may say that I have never received a complaint from the Deputy nor have I received any complaint from any member of the public. So far from there being dissatisfaction on the part of the public with the manner in which the licensing provisions are being operated, I am in a position to say that there is general satisfaction, because that satisfaction has been many times expressed to me by Deputies here and by numbers who are engaged in general business in this country. We are just as closely in touch with the whole of the commercial community as Deputy Dillon is. We make it our business to be so in touch with them and I am perfectly certain if there had been a scintilla of evidence to support the general allegation which the Deputy has made in this House, in regard to the way in which the licensing provisions are being operated, that would have been brought to our particular attention.

The Minister said triumphantly just now: "If we issue a licence for the free importation of any commodity, any person can get a licence for the same article if he be situated in similar circumstances." That is all I am asking for. Publish the conditions and terms of the licence, make it possible for every citizen to go up to the Minister and say: "These are my conditions and circumstances; I want a licence, too." That is all I want. Let that be incorporated in statute. Let that be incorporated in the Bill before us and I am perfectly satisfied—that every citizen similarly circumstanced to the licensee shall, by right of law, be entitled to claim a similar licence. Put that in the Bill and I shall raise no further objections. Will the Minister for Industry and Commerce put that in the Bill? Stony silence! Will the Minister for Finance whisper in the ear of the Minister for Industry and Commerce and see can he pull him round to his point of view, because there is a big divergence between them? The Minister for Industry and Commerce has not the slightest intention to give every citizen the same statutory rights. Everybody must go hat in hand to him and beg, of his favour, to provide the licence. I have got information here but I do not want to read it out across the House.

We know the source of it.

I have got the information and I shall send it to the Minister.

It took a good while to get it.

It did take a good time to get it. These cases, says the Minister, must be few. Here they are. I shall send them over to him in about two minutes, but I shall send them over to him in my own handwriting.

Why not read them out?

I shall not read them out. I have never thought it a desirable practice to read out in this House the names of individual traders who are not here to speak on their own behalf.

Except they are political opponents of yours.

You did it before.

Deputy Smith leaps into the breach. I have never read out the name of any single individual in this House who was not here to defend himself. What did happen was that I set out certain circumstances, circumstances of a very flagrant character, so flagrant that the Minister for Industry and Commerce recognised the case and he wriggled and twisted and he sought to defend himself for six weeks, and eventually in despair he read out the name of this case without my ever mentioning it, showing clearly to the House that the whole scandal was before him and that he well recognised the licensee in question. The Minister for Finance says they must be few. They are few, as many as I have been able to get.

The Deputy said they were general.

I took a note of the statement of the Minister for Finance. He said: "They must be few, they must be simple, they must be easy to cover." I do not think they are few, though such as I have been able to find out are few. I do not think they are simple. They are extremely complex, because if a man gets a licence to import baker's flour and he imports any other flour, he is told that under Section 7 and Section 42 of the Act of 1914 as amended by the Finance Act of 1917 and complicated by the further Acts of the Fianna Fáil Government, certain things shall happen. The facts are extremely complex. "They must," finally says the Minister, "be easy to come at." How on earth are they easy to come at? They are extremely difficult to come at. It takes a long time to get the information.

The Minister says there is general satisfaction with the administration of the licensing provisions, and he also says that I have charged corruption against the Revenue Commissioners I have never charged corruption against the Revenue Commissioners and I have never charged gross corruption against Ministers, but I did charge, and I repeat the charge now, political corruption, and I mean no more than that. I would be glad to crush political corruption just as any corruption. What I have said here was that a £5 note would not buy a Minister of State, but there was a possibility that a consideration of 25 votes would buy him, and I reiterate that. I say that where you have a strong supporter of the Government, an influential man in his own area, when he comes to ask concessions from a Minister, he is much more likely to get them than a strong Fine Gael supporter in the same area. I have no hesitation in saying that and I stand over it. I repeat again that the Minister for Finance has laid it down that any person can get a licence on the same conditions and the same terms as any other person similarly circumstanced. Will the Minister for Industry and Commerce put that in the Bill? If he does that, the objection which I have raised to the section is largely disposed of.

Deputy Dillon reminds one of the jack-in-the-box toys which one shows to children. Once you open the lid, the jack-in-the-box springs up and it is not easy to get it down again. Deputy Dillon has made a general charge here. He says that there is the greatest perturbation throughout the country as to the manner in which the licensing powers possessed by the Minister were being exercised. I ask him again to produce any evidence whatever to support his assertion, particularly evidence in the form of a resolution passed by any responsible commercial organisation in this State. Can he do it? We do not take Deputy Dillon's word for it that there is grave perturbation. I go further and I invite Deputy Dillon to get any member of his own Party who is in business and who is in contact with the Department of Industry and Commerce, to stand up here to support him. If Deputy Dillon is even speaking the view of his own Party, much less the view of the commercial community of the State, surely he should be able to get some other member of his Party to agree with him and to indicate his agreement by speech here. Deputy Dillon will not accept that challenge just as he failed to meet the challenge I issued to him the last time he made his general wild assertions. On that occasion he was asked to produce a single instance——

Here they are.

——of a mistake or error or injustice done in the matter of issuing licences. He said he would supply me with them in the course of a day or two.

That is not true.

He has not supplied them.

He was on holidays.

Deputy Dillon says that he objects to mentioning the names of persons who are not here to defend themselves, but he only developed that objection in the last half hour. The Deputy on occasion has not hesitated at flinging wild charges against individuals——

Quote me.

His record is notorious. Time and again members of his own Party have risen to protest against the type of talk for which Deputy Dillon has been responsible in matters of this kind.

Balderdash.

If Deputy Dillon is going to send me particulars of a single case, upon which his charges are based, I want to tell him that I am going to refute the charge by dealing with the case here. If the information is secret and he does not want me to publish it, then he can keep it to himself.

Here in the Dáil is the place to meet the charge. It is here it is going to be answered, and if he has any evidence to support the charge then here it is going to be examined. If he is not prepared to have his evidence examined in public, let him keep it private. So far as I am concerned, I am prepared to deal in this House with any case that came before my Department during the past two years, produce all the particulars of that case, and defend every action I took in respect of the issue of these licences. I hope that those who are misleading Deputy Dillon—I shall assume he is misled; that is the charitable view—will hesitate before they supply him with false information with which to make a fool of himself in this House. He was put in that position over the flour licence to which he referred. It will be a bad thing for his reputation to make the same mistake twice.

Is there any reason why a list of those licences should not be published or made available?

The reason is that it is desirable that the business done by individual and private traders should not be made available to the public.

Is it not the case that a concession is given to certain traders under Statute and that there is an objection to information in regard to that being made available for inspection?

The objection is to reveal the amount of business these traders are doing.

That is not the objection.

That is what is involved.

If there is no better objection than that to the issue of a list of the licences, I am not impressed with the three speeches to which I have listened.

I invite Deputy Cosgrave to get any business members of his own Party to put up this case.

I simply want to know if there is any case against the publication of a list of these licences.

Get some of the business members of your own Party to say that.

I am not impressed with the case that has been made.

Certain information has been referred to. I have it here now and I shall place it in the Minister's hands. I am not prepared, however, to place it in his hands if the names of the individuals concerned are to be read out in the House. It is not in accordance with the custom of the House to have the names of individuals, who cannot get up and make their own defence, mentioned in debate. I am quite prepared to find myself—I do not know whether or not the Minister will take this undertaking from me—in this way: I am prepared to submit these cases to the Minister and to discuss them with him; if he disposes of them, I am quite prepared to get up in the House and publicly to say that he has done so. I cannot, however, consent to the names of these men, who are merchants down the country, being read out in public. I do not believe that that conduces to decent procedure in the House.

Is Deputy Cosgrave impressed by that?

The Minister objects to having information regarding statutory advantages given to certain traders, which information is available to Ministers, given to the House. He invites Deputy Dillon to make an exposure of every case of complaint he has got and he says that if Deputy Dillon does not do that he will do it. What is the difference between one case and the other?

I am simply telling Deputy Dillon that if he comes here and makes charges in public, based on evidence in his possession, it is his duty to produce the evidence in public. Deputy Dillon makes wild charges and then tries to find some excuse to get out of proving them.

I do not see any difference between the attitude taken up by Deputy Dillon in one case and the attitude taken up by the Minister in the other. Deputy Dillon offers to put certain information before the House, but not the names of individuals. The Minister says that these cases will have to be discussed in public while, at the same time, he is endeavouring to cloak the issue of a list of licences. I do not understand that attitude.

I am trying to cloak nothing.

There is a list of these licences, and, apparently you are afraid to publish it.

There is no question of publishing a list at all. The list of flour importers has been already published. What I am going to refuse to publish is the amount of flour that any one of these importers may import in any period. That concerns the private affairs of the importer, and it should not be made available to the public.

What we want is a list of the licences and the conditions surrounding their issue. We want an undertaking from the Minister similar to that given by the Minister for Finance that he will incorporate in this Bill a provision that, when that information is published, any other person similarly circumstanced will be entitled by statute to a similar licence.

The Deputy knows that that is the practice.

It is not the law, and will you make it the law?

That is the position, as the Deputy knows. Why are licensing powers given? If it were possible to set down in precise terms the circumstances under which goods could be imported, it would be done. It is because it is not possible to do that in certain cases that it is necessary to allow an element of discretion to enter into the matter. If it were possible to indicate the exact circumstances under which importation could take place, there would be no necessity for licensing powers. That is why we have this licensing power—so that the peculiarities of each case can be dealt with separately. A discretion is allowed to the officers of the Department of Industry and Commerce as to how each case is to be dealt with. If the Deputy wants any information as to how these officers are doing their work; he should consult the business members of his own Party before coming in here to make wild charges. He should not come here to make charges which he is not in a position to prove.

Will the Minister give legislative effect to the undertaking given by the Minister for Finance so that persons similarly circumstanced to those who have got licences will be in a position to obtain licences?

That is the law.

That is not the law, and the Minister knows it.

Produce a case in which it has not happened.

Will the Minister give these people the statutory right to demand equal treatment? That is not so at present, and the Minister refuses to give them that right.

Question put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 47; Níl, 28.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Patrick.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Cleary, Mícheál.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Donnelly, Eamon.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Hales, Thomas.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Doherty, Joseph.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Walsh, Richard.

Níl

  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Connor, Batt.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Rice Vincent.
  • Rowlette, Robert James.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies P.S. Doyle and Bennett.
Question declared carried.
Ordered: "That Section 32 stand part of the Bill."
SECTION 33.

Dr. Ryan

I move amendment No. 3:—

Before Section 33 to insert a new section as follows:—

The following provisions of the Principal Act are hereby repealed, that is to say, sub-section (4) of Section 98, and Sections 102, 103 and 104.

This amendment is connected with an amendment that follows. It provides that where a business is carried on by the Minister that instead of being accounted for in the ordinary commercial way it shall be accounted for in the ordinary Government financial way. All moneys received will go into the Exchequer and be accounted for to the Comptroller and Auditor-General, and all moneys paid out will be paid over by the Minister for Finance.

I really do not quite follow the Minister. He says that in future enterprises carried on under this Bill by the Minister shall be carried on not in a business way but in accordance with Department of Finance practice.

Dr. Ryan

That is, as far as the accounts are concerned.

That is to say that the only accounts that will be kept will be accounts of outgoing and incomings. Surely it would be better for the Minister to have some obligation upon himself which would reveal to him whether he was operating at a profit or at a loss.

Dr. Ryan

There will be a full statement made of the outgoings and the incomings and that will be laid before the Oireachtas. This is where a business is carried on by the Minister, and the purpose of the amendment is to prevent moneys coming in being used as they would be in an ordinary business house. All moneys coming in must be paid into the Exchequer, and all moneys going out must be paid out by the Minister for Finance.

Does the Minister really think that that will be an advantageous arrangement? Surely the application of Department of Finance regulations to a business undertaking of this kind is not calculated to promote the cause of economy? We have had a good deal of discussion in another place about the propriety of running the Gaeltacht services on those lines. The Department of Finance has taken the view that the accounts of the Gaeltacht trading department should be kept along certain lines laid down by the Department of Finance. Others have taken the view that it would be very much more helpful if commercial accounts were kept which would enable the Public Accounts Committee and the Dáil to see whether, in fact, the Gaeltacht services were being carried on at a profit or at a loss, and in the event of their being carried on at a loss what the amount of that loss was at the end of each financial year.

Dr. Ryan

That will be done.

That will be done in respect of any trading undertaking by the Minister under this Bill?

Dr. Ryan

Yes.

Does this amendment put additional obligation on him or does it discharge him from his previous obligation?

Dr. Ryan

The difference, I think, is roughly that the Comptroller and Auditor-General is the auditor instead of a commercial firm. The moneys audited by the Comptroller and Auditor-General all go into the Exchequer, and whatever money is used for the financing of those undertakings will have to be voted by the Dáil. As the Principal Act stood, the Dáil would only have to vote the loss in the year, or receive the profit, as the case may be. Now the Dáil will have to vote the whole lot. Accounts, as if it were a commercial concern, will be laid before both Houses at the end of the year.

I suspect the hidden hand of the Minister for Finance. There is a very comfortable old statute of about 1908, called the Treasury and Finance Accounts Act, or something like that, which authorises the Department of Finance to require any other Department of State to return accounts to them in a form which shall be prescribed by them.

Dr. Ryan

We are exempt from that.

The Minister for Finance will remember that convenient statute. Are we satisfied that this amendment is not aréchauffé operation by the Treasury officials to bring the Minister under that statute, and to compel him to draw his accounts in whatever form they prescribe, and not in the form which he may think will be most informative to Dáil Eireann and the public? That is what has happened in connection with the Gaeltacht services. The Department of Finance have power under the old statute to compel them to draw their accounts in a particular form, and they are accordingly insisting on that right. I want to ensure that the Dáil will have the right to see a commercial account at the end of a year's trading by the Minister.

Dr. Ryan

It is provided that a commercial account will be laid on the Table. The main reason for those amendments which are coming on is that the Comptroller and Auditor-General may have full control over and access to all expenditure.

Those statutes are somewhat difficult of comprehension.

There is nothing in this about them.

Provided the Minister gives a guarantee that commercial accounts will be forthcoming, and that all accounts will be subject to examination by the Committee of Public Accounts, I am satisfied.

The Minister, I think, will be aware that, under the Slaughter of Animals Act, where the Minister goes into any of the various commercial activities which the Bill provides that he may go into, there is a provision that he will keep accounts on commercial lines. I personally feel that the Minister was providing for something under that Bill which when compared with what the Minister for Industry and Commerce proposes to do under the Industrial Alcohol Bill was something that gave the public and gave the House some chance of seeing how in fact the businesses entered into were carried on from the point of view of the profit and loss of an ordinary commercial concern. I think it would be very wrong that, where he is taking power to set up a business, he should depart in any way from the ordinary method of presenting his accounts in a businesslike way. As Deputy Dillon says, it does suggest a desire to hide over something in the carrying on of those businesses when the proposal which the Minister has in the measure is now being withdrawn. I should like to ask the Minister in connection with this amendment whether he proposes to introduce a similar amendment to strike out the provisions in the Slaughter of Animals Bill, which, as far as I can recollect, arrange that accounts in connection with any activities which he may enter on in a commercial way under that Bill will be made out in a commercial way, too, as distinct from the way in which the Industrial Alcohol Bill proposes that the accounts of that concern will be presented.

Dr. Ryan

There are similar amendments to the Slaughter of Animals Bill as there are to this. If Deputies will look at amendment 5 they will see that "the Minister for Industry and Commerce shall as soon as may be after the end of every financial year, during which Part VIII of the Principal Act is in force, prepare and lay before each House of the Oireachtas a report of his proceedings under the said Part VIII. during such financial year." The same thing is being done as far as the Minister for Agriculture is concerned, so that the procedure is being changed from the ordinary commercial account, where, as I say, money comes in and is paid out again without necessarily being banked. Under this arrangement the money must be passed into the Exchequer. All money paid out comes from the Treasury, and has to be audited by the Comptroller and Auditor-General. All money has to be voted by the Dáil. In addition there is a provision for laying a balance sheet, as it were, before the House at the end of the financial year.

How can you hope to carry on a commercial enterprise if all receipts are to be paid into the Treasury, and we require a financial resolution to pay every bill?

But you do not. Has the Deputy never considered an Estimate before the House?

In fact, you are going to bring in all your receipts and get a Vote from the House——

Merely for accountancy purposes.

I can smell well where this is all coming from. This is a littledémarche of the Department of Finance. The manacles are going on somewhere else. You will always find the Department of Finance up to this sort of a game: “You must not let anybody stir hand or foot without getting our approval. No farthing must be disbursed or moved from one place to another without getting the approval of the Minister for Finance.” Now all that looks lovely; if you could go in at 12 o'clock in the morning, see the Minister, get his approval, get out at five past 12 and get on with your job, it would not matter very much whether you had to get his approval or not. What is in fact the case? You write a minute, and you start a file in the Department of Finance. There is a nice piece of tape tied round the middle. That file goes upstairs and downstairs, down to the cellar, across the street and back again. You next meet it three weeks later, and it has grown to a monster. It goes on growing and growing. At the end of about six months, perhaps, you will be informed that the Minister has decided to sanction that item of expenditure. Now, to tell you the truth, I think all this business of the Minister engaging in trade of one kind or another is foredoomed to failure. The insertion of this proposal makes the failure all the more certain and all the more rapid. Our duty is to point out to the Minister such pitfalls as we see, during Committee, whether we approve of the principle of the Bill or not. I warn the Minister that if he sells himself into the servitude of the Department of Finance in respect of this matter he is done for. They will tie a tape around his neck and strangle him during the first three months of the operation of the Act.

I would suggest that the Minister should tell us what particular commercial activities he foresees he may have to embark on under the Cereals Bill. We know that under the Slaughter of Animals Bill he may embark on an infinite number. It has been pointed out here that he may be a cattle dealer, or a grazier, or a butcher, or a slaughterer. Let us take, for example, one case under the Slaughter of Animals Bill. If the Minister has to become a slaughterer in, say, ten different localities, is he going to run himself as one big slaughtering concern with, say, ten slaughtering centres?

There is nothing about slaughtering in this Bill.

I am taking that as a sample, and asking the Minister to give us some examples of the kind of commercial undertakings he may have to enter into under the Cereals Bill? We have been told that this is the adoption of a general line of policy, and that what he proposes by the amendment to apply to the Cereals Bill is to apply perhaps to the Slaughter of Animals Bill. It would help us if we had some clear idea of what the Minister's activities are going to be. Under the Slaughter of Animals Bill he may have quite a number of butchers' shops in different parts of the country. Is he going to be a multiple shop merchant? If he is to branch into the butcher's shop business would each shop be regarded as a separate business under the Bill? There is more than the difficulty and the danger that Deputy Dillon pointed out. The Department of Finance may have their own particular policy, and the Minister and his colleagues may have another type of policy for hiding the futility of their commercial activities. I suggest to the Minister that the amendment before the House now is more an amendment to cover up the wants of the purely Ministerial mind rather than the wants of the Departmental mind.

Dr. Ryan

We can deal with the butchers and the knackers when we come to them. As far as this Bill is concerned, the only power I have to deal in business is to become a corn merchant, in other words to take over corn stores and kilns, and either to work them, by buying and selling oats and barley, or to lease or to sell these corn stores. It is not contemplated that we should have to use any of these powers in the near future, because before using them, whether by running them as commercial concerns or otherwise, there would be accounting, as in commercial firms, to the Comptroller and Auditor-General. We would first have to come to the House for a Supplementary Estimate. It is not contemplated taking a Supplementary Estimate before we adjourn, so it is not likely that any of these businesses will be engaged in for some time to come under this Bill.

If corn stores are opened in Cork, in Kilkenny, or in some part of Offaly, will they be run as three separate stores, or will the Minister handle them as a general business and as one concern?

Dr. Ryan

I could not say.

I suggest that in view of the general policy proposed to be pursued here, the information we have got from the Minister is most unsatisfactory. We should be satisfied more on this point before we agree to the amendment, which allows the Minister to deal with the accounts in this particular way, to prevent the House and the public generally knowing how each of his individual commercial activities is getting on, from the point of view of profit or loss. The Minister is taking very elaborate powers to go into commercial enterprises, and at a time when that is so the law should be such as to let the people know how such commercial enterprises are getting on, and we should have ordinary commercial accounts.

Dr. Ryan

I do not know what the Deputy has to complain of. I gave all the information that he could reasonably expect to get. I told him it is not considered by my Department or by the Department of Finance to be proper to carry on those commercial enterprises unless we brought in a special Bill, such as the Electricity Supply Act, where a Board was set up, where we were going to engage in business through civil servants, and that it should account in this way to the Comptroller and Auditor-General. I am surprised that the Opposition should take up such an attitude. Surely they want to know how the money is being spent. It is very difficult to understand them unless Deputy Dillon and Deputy Mulcahy wanted a discussion on this matter. I have said that so far, under this Bill, I have not contemplated any business. If I did, I would have to bring in a Supplementary Estimate. Under the Cattle Bill I will bring in a Supplementary Estimate which shows that we contemplate going into business, but not under this Bill.

It is perfectly obvious that the Department of Finance has the first loop around the Minister's neck to see that all enterprises which the Minister is going to enter into should be made to pay. The Minister is not equipped to carry on successfully the variety of trade proposed.

Dr. Ryan

Wait and see.

He has taken the contagion from the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who is gradually reaching the conclusion that he is the man to run the country, and not only everyone's business in the country, but everyone's life. The Minister for Agriculture is getting touched with that infection, but he is going to find some disillusionment.

Dr. Ryan

When the Minister for Industry and Commerce engages in trade?

One of the first pitfalls he is going to walk into is in the Department of Finance. At the word "Go" they make it absolutely impossible to run any of these enterprises on commercial lines, and he will come up against the machine of bureaucracy which his colleagues are doing all they can to build up. He is foredoomed to failure, and it is our duty to point out the first stumbling block he is going to encounter.

Question put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 42; Níl, 29.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Boland, Patrick.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Browne, William Frazer.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • O'Doherty, Joseph.
  • Donnelly, Eamon.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Hales, Thomas.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.

Níl

  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Connor, Batt.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • Redmond, Bridget Mary.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Rowlette, Robert James.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.
Amendment declared carried.
New section ordered to be inserted.

Dr. Ryan

I move amendment No. 4:—

Before Section 33 to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) All moneys (other than moneys provided by the Oireachtas) received by the Minister for Industry and Commerce in respect of any business carried on by him under Part VIII of the Principal Act shall be paid into or disposed of for the benefit of the Exchequer in such manner as the Minister for Finance may direct.

(2) All moneys (other than moneys provided by the Oireachtas) received by the Minister for Agriculture in respect of any business carried on by him under Part VIII of the Principal Act shall be paid into or disposed of for the benefit of the Exchequer in such manner as the Minister for Finance may direct.

This is consequential.

Does this section bring these operations under the operation of the Exchequer and Audit Act? That is the Act to which I referred a few moments ago in speaking on the last amendment. That now is the net point. Do these amendments operate to bring these enterprises under the operation of the Exchequer and Audit Act?

Dr. Ryan

Does the Deputy refer to the Public Officers Fees Act?

I refer to the Exchequer and Audit Act. Do these operate to bring them under that?

Dr. Ryan

That is the purpose of the amendment.

That is exactly what I suspected it was. Once that happens bid good-bye to all hope of getting yourself out of the tangle into which the Minister for Finance has landed you. I have seen it operate in reference to two or three other enterprises. It simply means that all independence of action vanishes and that all hope of carrying on a commercial enterprise on efficient lines is gone. Carry on; you are foredoomed to failure.

Amendment put and agreed to.
New section ordered to be inserted.
The following amendment was agreed to:—
Before Section 33 to insert a new section as follows:—
(1) The Minister for Industry and Commerce shall as soon as may be after the end of every financial year, during which Part VIII of the Principal Act is in force, prepare and lay before each House of the Oireachtas a report of his proceedings under the said Part VIII during such financial year.
(2) The Minister for Agriculture shall as soon as may be after the end of every financial year, during which Part VIII of the Principal Act is in force, prepare and lay before each House of the Oireachtas a report of his proceedings under the said Part VIII during such financial year.
New section ordered to be inserted. Sections 33, 34, 35, and 36 agreed to.
SECTION 37.
Question proposed: "That Section 37 stand part of the Bill."

Are we to take it that this section implements Part IV of the Bill? Are we to take it now that the Minister is taking control of the entire trade in grain in this country?

Dr. Ryan

Section 37?

I am taking Section 37 as the section which gives effect to Part IV of the Bill:—

"The Minister may by order make regulations in relation to any matter or thing referred to in this Part of this Act as prescribed."

Is the effect that the Minister for Agriculture now takes control of all trade in cereals in this country?

Dr. Ryan

That is not the effect of the section, anyway.

What is the effect of the section, if that is not the effect?

Dr. Ryan

The effect is that the Minister may make regulations with regard to the matters provided for in the Bill.

The section provides that—

"The Minister may by order make regulations in relation to any matter or thing referred to in this Part of this Act as prescribed."

"This Part of this Act" is Part IV, and the heading under which Part IV is submitted to the House is, "Provisions in relation to the sale and purchase of oats and barley, and the milling of oatmeal." The Minister already has power to control dealings in wheat; he now takes power to control dealings in oats and barley. So this section completes his right to control all dealings in all cereals in this country.

Dr. Ryan

Not this part. This part deals with fixed prices.

The moment the Minister takes power to make orders and regulations it simply means that the whole business of the country in the matter of cereals is going to be taken over by the Minister. He is going to take over, under another Act, the whole business of raising, selling and slaughtering cattle.

Dr. Ryan

And sheep.

And sheep—quite right. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has power under other Acts to take over a variety of other kinds of enterprises in this country. We are rapidly arriving at the stage when every business activity in this country, agricultural and industrial, will be taken over either by Mr. Lemass, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, or Dr. Ryan, the Minister for Agriculture. That simply means that every commercial activity is going to be run in this country by the civil servants whom we shall have to employ for the purpose. Remember this, that the existing staff in the Civil Service is at present working at top pressure and for much longer hours than people employed in almost any other calling in the country. By the time these two Minister have control of all the industries they ambition to control, the personnel of the Civil Service will have to be doubled and the cost of the Civil Service will be doubled. You are paying bounties on everything. You are going to double the personnel of the Civil Service and you trust the country can stand it all. It is very nice while it lasts, but some day there will be a most infernal reckoning for us all.

Section 37 to 39, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 40 stand part of the Bill."

What about the man who deals not only in oats for the purpose of resale to the miller, but also in oats which he purposes kiln-drying and selling to seed merchants? It says here:—

"Any person who carries on or proposes to carry on the business of purchasing home-grown oats or barley or both for resale to holders of milling licences, registered maize millers, or registered oatmeal millers may, in accordance with this section, apply to the Minister to be registered in the register of dealers in oats and barley in respect of any premises at which he carries on or proposes to carry on such business."

Does that mean that in future a man who buys oats from the grower will be restrained by statute from selling it to a miller unless he is registered?

Dr. Ryan

Quite so.

Or will it prevent him buying oats altogether?

Dr. Ryan

No; he can buy oats for other purposes.

The Minister is merely concerned with this: "If you do not sell to millers, I am not concerned, but if you do, you must be registered?"

Dr. Ryan

That is right.

Does it debar the grower from selling direct to the miller?

Dr. Ryan

No, the miller can also be registered.

It seemed to me that the direct sale by the grower to the miller would be debarred by these two sections. If that were so it would be a hardship on the grower.

Dr. Ryan

No, that is not so.

If I may go back to paragraph (b) of Section 39, does this require the country miller who does not buy oats for grinding, but who uses his mill for grinding farmers' oats into oatmeal, to be registered?

Dr. Ryan

As regard the miller who mills on commission, no. It applies only to mills that mill for sale.

I take it that a mill that grinds on commission locally is not brought into the Bill at all?

Dr. Ryan

No.

Question agreed to.

Question proposed: "That Section 41 stand part of the Bill."

Sub-section (2) provides:

"The Minister may refuse to register an applicant for registration in the register of dealers in oats and barley if, in his opinion, the registration of such applicant is, having regard to the number of persons already registered in such register, not desirable in the public interest."

That means that the Minister may consider that there are too many dealers in oats and barley. On what grounds does he claim the right to set up a monopoly in dealing with this commodity? What conceivable harm can accrue either to grower or miller to have a multiplication of channels through which grain can flow from the producer to the miller? We have had examples of monopolies. We have the Control of Manufacturers Bill which was recently passed, and which confers upon the Minister for Industry and Commerce the right to create monopolies in manufacture. Whatever can be said to defend the pernicious principle enshrined in that Bill, nothing whatever can be said to deny any man the right to set himself up as a dealer in grain provided he is prepared to submit to the regulation which the Minister prescribes for his competitors in the same trade.

Dr. Ryan

I think the Deputy is becoming sensible. This is a provision that is in all those Bills with regard to registration, such Bills as those dealing with fresh meat, creameries, cereals, maize mills, and flour mills. It must be said that in all those cases there was an obligation within certain limits to allow existing people to go on. There is something to be said for the case made by a Deputy to allow all people in the trade to be automatically registered. There is something to be said for striking this provision out. I shall be glad if the Deputy will bring such an amendment forward on the next stage.

Question agreed to.

Sections 42 to 49, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 50 stand part of the Bill."

Paragraph (c) of sub-section (3) says:

"the person registered in such register, if an individual, has died, or, if a body corporate, has been dissolved and no other person has, within three months after such death or dissolution, been registered in the place of the registered person so dead or dissolved; or"

Does the period of three months give sufficient time?

Dr. Ryan

We had a month down and we extended it to three months, and I think that is adequate.

I have in mind where you have a country mill. I recognise that the vast majority of country mills will not come under the operation of this Act because they will be mills milling on commission. But you have mills milling in a small way and, as we know, there are some country people who are sometimes very dilatory in taking out administration and, until they do, of course, they have no personal representative. Is there any advantage to be got from making it three months instead of six months? There does not seem to be any very good reason why haste, in this matter, should be necessary.

Dr. Ryan

I would suggest to the Deputy that if the amendment I have indicated was accepted on Report Stage there would be no necessity for three months at all, because there would be no difficulty in registration. The person complying would be automatically registered.

I am prepared to accept that. In paragraph (d) the Minister will see that a notice of the Minister's intention to cancel may be served if the person is adjudicated a bankrupt. Why is that desirable? It does not seem to make a man any less fit to be a retailer in corn than in boots or shoes if he was adjudicated a bankrupt. Many a man went into bankruptcy and by carrying on his trade, under whatever restriction the court laid down, was able to rehabilitate himself again and to pay 20/- in the £. If you had a man wiped out of his particular calling it might keep him down for ever. I suggest to the Minister to ask himself the question: is a bankrupt any less fit to deal with cereals than he is to deal in boots and shoes? The Bankruptcy Court never laid upon the bankrupt the obligation of not trading in these commodities. I suggest that a restriction of this kind should not be imposed by statute in this case unless there is very good reason for it.

Dr. Ryan

This provision has been put into all similar Acts protecting the people trading. Registration in the Department of Agriculture might be looked upon by the farmer as if it were a certain amount of proof of the Department's approval of a person, engaged in the buying of oats and barley, who had become bankrupt. Farmers must exercise care in selling to buyers who make purchases from them. The farmer might not exercise the same care if the buyer was on a register. He might say it was up to the officials of the Minister to protect him. There is something in keeping that in mind. There is also something in what the Deputy says. It is hardly fair if a trader becomes a bankrupt to give him no chance of revival.

A bankrupt is under a statutory obligation, under the Bankruptcy Act, not to ask for credit, or take goods on credit, without disclosing to his customer that he is a bankrupt. There is a very heavy statutory obligation on the part of the bankrupt, if he is an undischarged bankrupt, to disclose that fact.

Dr. Ryan

I do not know how far that is effective.

I think the Minister should consider the question whether a bankrupt should not be entitled to carry on dealing in cereals if he complies with certain conditions as if he were dealing with boots and shoes. The Bankruptcy Court may be trusted to see that no dishonest person sets out to defraud people as a result of his bankruptcy.

Dr. Ryan

The Deputy will recognise that there is a big difference between a retail boot trader or grocer selling to the public and a person selling to a registered buyer. The wholesalers know their business fairly well and will not sell to traders who became bankrupt unless they have a guarantee. If traders become bankrupt the wholesalers very quickly get to know it.

Is there any such provision in those other Acts?

Dr. Ryan

Yes, in all those other Acts. The ordinary farmer does not know that a person has become a bankrupt. He does not want to be looking upStubb's Gazette, and we want to protect him. He will get the idea that if a man is on our register it is our business and not his business to see that he is an honest trader.

The real answer to Deputy Dillon's question is that at some future date when the Minister for Industry and Commerce takes over the trade in boots and shoes and drapery, etc., and works those trades through existing traders, under licence, if one of those traders becomes a bankrupt his licence will be revoked. That is the position. We are on the direct road to Socialism.

This provision is no protection to the farmers. If a man goes bankrupt this licence is no protection to the public. The harm is done the moment he becomes a bankrupt and the management of his estate passes into the hands of the official receiver. His creditors would be those that existed at the moment of his bankruptcy. On the other hand, it might be said that this licence would give the transfer to someone else. But it would be a long time before it could be transferred. The official receiver will hold the estate until he is able to clear matters up. The harm is done because he has this particular protection, if there is any protection at all, up to the moment of his bankruptcy.

Would the Minister consider an amendment, later on, saying "if the person is an undischarged bankrupt"? If that was taken in conjunction with the concession the Minister made at an earlier stage such a person could not be registered. The Minister said he was prepared to consider a proposal that any person undertaking to conform to the regulations would be entitled to be registered. But paragraph (d) operating as at present makes it possible to have the licence of a person who was ever adjudicated a bankrupt withdrawn. The amendment which I suggest would provide that an undischarged bankrupt would be ineligible. If he gets his discharge he can apply again and be reinstated.

Dr. Ryan

Does that mean that he would pay in full?

That is a matter we should not go into. The Bankruptcy Court will not discharge a man unless they believe he has done substantial justice to his creditors. If the court believes that he has not paid all that is justly due they will not discharge him. There are men who are undischarged bankrupts for years because they will not do justice to their creditors. But it is hardly right, having given the courts power to discharge a man, to inquire as to whether the courts would discharge him unless he has paid his debts in full. All I wish to have inserted is that he will not be eligible for a licence if he is an undischarged bankrupt.

Dr. Ryan

I shall consider that.

There is no use putting down an amendment if I am to be told on Report Stage that it is not acceptable.

Dr. Ryan

I am disposed to consider it. I am not saying that I shall accept it. I do promise to consider it, but I could not promise that it would be accepted.

Well, it seems very reasonable.

Dr. Ryan

Yes, it seems reasonable at this stage, but it might not later on.

Section 50 agreed to.
SECTION 51.
Question proposed: "That Section 51 stand part of the Bill."

This section deals with the point raised by Deputy Bennett. It says here that:—

"On and after the appointed day it shall not be lawful for any holder of a milling licence, any registered maize miller, or any registered oatmeal miller who is not also a registered dealer in oats and barley, to purchase any oats or barley unless such person is a registered dealer in oats or barley."

Is the Minister satisfied that that is a good provision, or would it not be better to allow any person who proposes to mill cereals to buy direct from the producer, or is it the Minister's intention to make all persons registered dealers as well as registered millers?

Dr. Ryan

If a miller applies to become a registered dealer we can register him.

What happens in the case of a small miller in the country, milling for the small farmers for their home consumption? The practice is that the miller retains a small portion of the oats as compensation for the work he has done. He has no means of disposing of that except by sale. Is the Minister satisfied there that he will not be caught by this Bill if he has got to dispose of the surplus? Take a farmer—a small farmer—who sends 14 barrels of his own growing to the mill. That was his own growing for the season. He does not pay the miller in cash, just because he has not got the cash. What the miller does is to retain a certain amount of the milled stuff as compensation for his labour. That is the general practice. What is to happen to the miller in that case? Will that be just "dead meat"?

Dr. Ryan

As a seller of oatmeal, he would come under the Bill of course; but I do not see that there is anything to arise there. He would come under the Bill and would necessarily have to purchase the oats at the fixed price.

But he does not purchase the oats at all. He generally keeps part of the produce of the oats as payment for having milled the bulk.

He accepts payment on an oats standard instead of on a gold standard.

I want to make sure that when he disposes of those oats he can dispose of them without being caught under the Bill.

Dr. Ryan

Certainly he can dispose of them.

Dr. Ryan

He can sell them.

He cannot sell them unless he is a registered dealer.

Is it legal for him to sell those oats?

Dr. Ryan

He will have to register, of course.

The Minister has already stated, in connection with another section, that he would not have to register; that all these country millers milling for small country farmers, for the consumption of the farmers, will not have to register.

Dr. Ryan

The man in question is selling oats.

He is working on commission, but the commission he gets is oats instead of cash.

Dr. Ryan

Is he not selling oatmeal?

He is a miller on commission.

Dr. Ryan

Yes, but he is selling oatmeal also.

This raises a huge problem with regard to the whole West of Ireland. Those men have this surplus of oatmeal on hands as a result of this practice to which I have already referred. The Minister said, on an earlier section, that this does not apply to them. Now he says that it does.

Dr. Ryan

It does apply to him if he sells oatmeal. It does not apply if he does not sell oatmeal.

Then it will apply to every miller in this country.

Dr. Ryan

No.

It does. This Bill should not go through without letting us know what we are doing. As I have already said, the practice is that every small miller takes in oats from the small farmer and retains a certain portion of the milled product in compensation for his work.

Dr. Ryan

That is only the practice in some places. It is not the general practice.

I can tell the Minister that it is the practice on the whole West coast from Donegal to Kerry, with regard to those small farmers.

Dr. Ryan

That may be so, but it is not the case all over.

The Minister says that this does not apply to them. I think that it does apply to the man who retains for the labour he has done on the milling of the grain a certain portion of the milled product as compensation.

Dr. Ryan

This Bill applies to any oatmeal miller who sells oatmeal. It does not apply to an oatmeal miller who mills on commission alone.

In this case it is not a question of cash. The small farmers have no ready cash and the miller retains a portion of the milled product in compensation.

Dr. Ryan

I think that if we could kill that practice it would be a good thing.

Dr. Ryan

Because they are getting more than they should.

We know the conditions as well as the Minister does and perhaps better, and it is not a bad practice.

Dr. Ryan

I do not know whether or not the Deputy does know better than the Minister, because I have returns from Donegal, and these returns show that they get much more through this practice than if the payments were cash.

Will the Minister name the mills to which he is referring?

Dr. Ryan

No.

The Minister will not give the names, even after what his colleague, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, said in connection with a similar thing about me earlier this evening. I charged certain people with getting licences where other people who were entitled to get licences could not get them. The Minister asked me to read them out. The Minister for Agriculture now charges certain millers with short-weighting and underpaying. Will he give the names?

Dr. Ryan

Not now.

Dr. Ryan

Let the Deputy give me three months, the same as was given to him.

I deny that charge absolutely. If the Minister says that one of these people short-weighted or defrauded their customers in any way, I say that it is untrue and a slander on these people. I know these men, and I know that they have not made a penny through this practice. They are poor men after having served the farmers.

Dr. Ryan

The Deputy may know some of these people, but I doubt if he knows them all. Does the Deputy say that he knows all those people?

I know every one of the people who do this work.

Does the Minister realise that Deputy Bennett's point arises in connection with this: that if those millers who mill on commission come within the operation of the Act, they will be precluded from taking oats direct from the farmer?

Dr. Ryan

No.

I asked if this Bill would not debar a farmer from selling direct to a miller, and the Minister said it would not. I said that, taking that section in conjunction with this section that we are dealing with now, it did not appear to be so to me. Perhaps it means, as was implied by the Minister, that I have no intelligence, but as I read it, once this section passes, it will not be possible for the ordinary farmer to sell direct to the miller, and that he must go to a middleman. As I have said already, it may be, as the Minister implied, that I have no capacity for reading anything correctly, but as far as my literary capacity goes, I am interpreting this section to mean that there is no power given to a farmer to sell any oats or barley to a miller unless he is a registered dealer in oats and barley. The section reads as follows:

"On and after the Appointed Day it shall not be lawful for any holder of a milling licence, any registered maize miller, or any registered oatmeal miller who is not also a registered dealer in oats and barley, to purchase any oats or barley from any person unless such person is a registered dealer in oats and barley."

So that, in fact, unless it became possible for every individual farmer in this country to register himself as a dealer in oats and barley he could not become an oats miller. That is the manner in which I interpret this particular section. If the Minister interprets it in any other way I will be satisfied.

Dr. Ryan

Does not the Deputy know? He read himself the miller or registered oat miller who is not also a registered dealer in oats or barley cannot purchase from a dealer. If he is also registered then he can purchase. Is not that the reading of the section?

I do not know that it is.

Dr. Ryan

It says a maize miller who is not also a registered dealer cannot purchase except from a registered dealer.

Will the Minister explain the position of the oats miller raised by Deputy McMenamin—the oats miller who works on a commission need not be registered either as a miller or dealer. Is that not so?

Dr. Ryan

That is right.

But if instead of taking money on commission he takes oats on commission?

Dr. Ryan

That does not make any difference.

But is he not technically buying oats?

Dr. Ryan

No.

Is he not receiving oats into his store? For instance, the farmer pays so much for the dressing of barley and oats. If instead of dressing the whole barley and oats, taking a chunk of the meal and throwing it into the bin for himself, he takes a chunk of the oats and throws it into the bin for himself, is he not bringing oats into his store?

Dr. Ryan

Bringing it in, but not buying it.

Is not that buying it— is he not taking it in lieu of money?

Dr. Ryan

That is not buying it.

What is it then?

Dr. Ryan

There was a practice some years ago in this country of giving a beggarman meal instead of money. Was the beggarman buying meal?

The Minister is not thinking of the beggarman of Emyvale. He was begging for meal at Emyvale, and after a day there he got up on the hill outside and, looking down at Emyvale, said:—

"Dear Emyvale, dear Emyvale,

If you were as free from sin

As you're from ‘male,'

You'd be the happy Emyvale."

Dr. Ryan

Did he buy the meal?

He did not get it one way or the other. I submit that, technically, a miller is buying that oats. Anyway he is putting it into a store.

Dr. Ryan

If he keeps it there he will not come under this Bill.

He will take in oatsad lib, but he keeps it there unless he feeds it to cattle that he cannot sell. He must turn that oats into money some way. I think this is the position that the Minister takes up: that he cannot dispose of that oats without becoming a registered oat dealer. Is that the position?

Dr. Ryan

He cannot sell the oatmeal without registering as an oatmeal miller.

Without registering as a miller, is it?

Dr. Ryan

Yes, under Section 52.

Then all millers who will insist on charging on commission and accepting goods instead of money must register?

Dr. Ryan

Yes.

He cannot buy oats without registering.

Dr. Ryan

He cannot buy oats to sell to the maize miller or oatmeal miller.

If he is a registered miller he is restrained from purchasing oats by way of sale from a farmer?

Dr. Ryan

By way of sale, yes.

The submission of Deputy Belton is that the commission the miller is taking on the oats is practically purchasing oats.

Dr. Ryan

I do not agree with that.

We are asked now to pass an Act of Parliament and to do something which the Minister obviously does not intend to do. What is the statutory definition of buying or selling?

Dr. Ryan

I cannot be expected to come prepared to answer those questions.

Let us examine that for a moment. Surely the definition of buying or selling is giving value for a commodity.

Dr. Ryan

Giving money for a commodity I would say.

Giving value I would say. If I give a cheque in payment for oats——

Dr. Ryan

That is money.

No, it is a negotiable instrument. This is a serious business because you may establish chaos quite unwillingly; through the instrumentality of this Bill the courts may find that the miller is giving value for the margin of oats which he keeps as payment for the work he does in converting the farmer's oats into meal. The moment the courts find that, the miller is convicted of an offence under this Bill, inasmuch as he bought oats direct from the farmer, he being a registered miller. That matter wants clearing up. I think the Minister will find that the circumstances governing all these small millers in the West of Ireland to whom Deputy McMenamin refers require closer investigation than they have received by the Minister. Is the normal life of the people going to be upset unknowingly by this tomfoolery?

Is this to be a further aggravation? At least, let us be sure that such tomfoolery as the Minister is putting across will be put across consciously. Let us be sure that the tomfoolery is conscious tomfoolery. Let us at least know the measure of our folly and let us commit no more folly than we want to commit.

I am still not satisfied on the question of the freedom of the individual farmer to sell his oats to the miller. The Minister, replying to me, said that I was wrong in my contention, and that no miller who was a registered dealer under this Bill could buy direct from the farmer. How many millers will be registered dealers, and if they be registered dealers it appears to me that they will purchase their oats from the farmers? What is the necessity for having these regulations, which we have been discussing this evening, and tieing up the individual oat dealers in their negotiations with the millers? If the dealers are to buy up the bulk of the oats, then the farmers cannot do their business freely, because they will be debarred under this section. The miller who is not a dealer in oats cannot purchase oats.

Dr. Ryan

He can.

Is every miller a dealer?

Dr. Ryan

Yes, at present.

Then why all these regulations we have been reading as to the relations between the dealer and the miller?

Dr. Ryan

You have that position at present. Every maize miller in the country bought oats last year.

Is not that the position that the Minister in effect is prohibiting in future—the practice of paying any man for the pressing of his oats? Does not the Minister know that the farmers pay the miller in this way? Is he not prohibiting that in future?

Dr. Ryan

No, not at all.

Of course it is. The miller has got to register if he is to dispose of the goods that he will take in payment of doing work. Is that not the position? If he mills for a couple of parishes he will have an accumulation of either oats or oatmeal. What will he do with it? He will have to turn it into money to keep his mill going, and in turning it into money he breaks the law unless he is a registered miller or a registered dealer in oats. He cannot take the oats from the farmer. It is a very fine point whether taking oats in lieu of money is not in fact buying oats.

Dr. Ryan

It is not a fine point at all.

It is not difficult, if I were sufficiently interested in it, but believing that the whole thing is worse than a huge joke, that the whole Bill is so much "muck," I do not think it is worth while going into it.

Dr. Ryan

Why do you talk so much, then?

The answer I was going to make is rather too coarse, and I shall not make it.

Dr. Ryan

I am not surprised.

I am talking in order that the trade will not be dislocated in the greater part of the country. You will find that the small miller is also generally a farmer and he hopes to save himself from the ruin that has overtaken the farmers generally since the Minister and his Government came to office. He hopes to recoup himself by his little mill, and I want to point out the difficulty of that mill functioning as a result of the Bill the Minister has introduced. I say without fear of contradiction that when a man takes oats instead of money for services performed, he is buying oats; therefore an illegal act is being committed by the farmer who pays in oats for work done instead of paying in money. That mill will have to be registered. That farmer cannot sell to the mill owner. That mill owner cannot buy, so that the net effect is that it will be impossible to carry on the practice which Deputy McMenamin has stated obtains in Donegal and along the western seaboard. I have known it to obtain elsewhere, but it was the exception rather than the rule in the mills which I knew. Deputy McMenamin, however, says that it is the practice in the parts of the country which he knows. This Bill means that that practice must cease. That is really the effect of it. I do not think it matters very much as the whole country will soon see when this Bill and the Slaughter Bill are in operation.

Dr. Ryan

The Deputy talks in the same way on this Bill as he does on every other Bill. He says that the country will soon see. We are tired listening to that kind of talk.

You have not heard it all yet.

Dr. Ryan

We know that the people support us every time that we go to the country, and yet the Deputy says that the whole country will soon see. It is a wonder he would not be ashamed to say that.

I am never ashamed to speak the truth.

Deputies should address the Chair.

Dr. Ryan

I want to make it clear that an oat miller who is milling on commission, who in the ordinary way charges the farmer who brings in his oats and takes it home again when it is milled, and pays the miller for the job, which is the practice in the bigger part of the State, does not come under the Bill in any way, because he neither buys nor sells oats. Then in the other case where an oatmeal miller takes in oats, to mill for farmers in the area and instead of being paid in cash gets part of the oats by way of payment, he has to sell oats probably some time or other and if he sells oats he must be registered as a seller but he need not be registered as a purchaser because he does not buy it.

How does he get it?

Dr. Ryan

He gets it for milling oats, but he does not buy it. It is perfectly obvious he does not buy it.

How does he acquire it? What name would the Minister give to the operation by which he acquires it?

In consideration of services rendered by him to the farmer.

It is in lieu of money, payment in kind.

Dr. Ryan

I shall put a case to Deputy Belton. I think it is most ridiculous to say that he purchases this oats. If the Deputy were making a wedding present to a friend of his and if he were considering giving him £5 or a case of cutlery, and he decided to give him the case of cutlery, would he say that that man purchased the case of cutlery?

No, because it would be a present. You must realise the difference between a present and a payment for services rendered.

Dr. Ryan

He gives oats in his case instead of cash.

But the miller does not do the work for natural love and affection.

Dr. Ryan

At any rate he does not buy the oats and he does not come under the Bill as far as being a purchaser is concerned.

Does the farmer make a present of the oats to the miller?

Dr. Ryan

He does.

That is the worst yet.

Section put and agreed to.
Section 52 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Question proposed: "That Section 53 stand part of the Bill."

This section states:—

The Minister may, whenever and so often as he thinks fit, by order under this sub-section do the following things, that is to say—

divide, by reference to bushel weights, home-grown oats into such and so many classes as he thinks proper.

That is enough at a time. Will the Minister give us some information as to the bushel weights the price of which he is going to fix and the quality of which he is going to grade? We have had all that stuff and we are now coming down to something with a bite in it and I should like to see the Minister bite it.

Dr. Ryan

What does the Deputy want—in a few words?

In a few words, you are marketing and grading oats according to bushel weights. Will you tell us the bushel weights? I shall have other questions afterwards.

Dr. Ryan

I do not know what the Deputy is talking about.

What weight of oats are you standardising?

Dr. Ryan

The Deputy knows that the oats might bushel 38, 40 or 42.

What is your top grade?

Dr. Ryan

We might have no top grade at all. Suppose I were to fix the price of oats bushelling 40 at 10/-, and suppose I were to say that any one unit would be 2d. more and another 2d. less——

Suppose you said a 40-lb. bushel would be 10/2, a 38-lb. bushel would be 9/10——

Dr. Ryan

9/8.

Surely the Minister can give the House some notion of what is operating in his mind? He is asking the authority of this House to fix a standard minimum price for oats and he mentioned 10/- for oats bushelling 40 lbs. I wonder if that price is operating in his mind.

Dr. Ryan

I do not think so.

The Minister is asking for power to fix a minimum price which must be paid and received for oats of a certain standard, the standard to be by bushel weights. These are very extraordinary powers and, on the Second Reading of this Bill, the Minister said that he was going to fix prices according to costings, allowing a margin of profit. I think that I am quoting the Minister with substantial accuracy. Before he gets these powers and before he goes into a back room with officials——

Dr. Ryan

My room is in the front of the House.

I was in it on one occasion, and I think that we made a very bad showing against the officials.

Dr. Ryan

You will never be there again.

The next time I am there I shall be the principal. The officials will not wind me around their fingers as they wound you.

Dr. Ryan

They will be all retired by then.

The Minister will be retired, too, when we see the mess that will be made of everything.

Dr. Ryan

Do not go away from the bushelling.

Expert No. 2 has gone.

It is expected that the Minister will give some idea, within limits, of the standard he proposes for the oats and of the price, within points, which he will fix for the different grades of oats. He is expected to give the costings by which he arrives at these standards. The Minister said, in summing up on Second Reading, that the real object of the Bill was to fix a price for oats and barley. That is the essence of the Bill. We are at the essence now, and, before coming to the actual price of the oats, there is reference in sub-section (1) paragraph (a) to bushel weights. The Minister proposes to make an order regarding oats, stating the bushel weights required in each grade. Coming down a paragraph or two, we should like to know the price of the different grades, and we should like the Minister to relate this to the costings and the margin of profit. He promised this House that that would be his basis for grading and pricing these oats.

Dr. Ryan

The Deputy will see by this section that the Minister may "by Order" do certain things. What is the meaning of the words "by Order"? When a Bill like this is being drafted and we do not think it possible to mention the price that we are going to fix, we postpone that operation, giving the Minister power to fix the price later. We could have omitted the words "by Order" and the Minister would then have power to fix the price, and nobody could find any fault with him. When that phrase is used, the Minister must immediately lay that Order on the table and any Senator or Deputy is at liberty to raise the matter and have it discussed. If the majority in either House so desire, the Order can be nullified. That is the object in putting in the phrase "by Order." Obviously, other considerations might arise at a later period that are not present now. The Deputy may say that if we are to go entirely on the cost of production, plus a margin of profit, the price could be fixed as easily now as in September or October, when the market is on. Taking as a basis the cost of production, there are other relevant circumstances to be taken into account—the state of the market at that time, the price, perhaps, at which maize is being imported, the price at which offals are being sold, and the price at which feeding stuffs generally are being sold. Last, but by no means least, we should have to apply the test the Deputy wants us to apply—the value of these feeding stuffs to the particular animals we are going to feed. All these things have to be taken into account.

The Minister has shifted his ground since the Second Stage of this Bill.

Dr. Ryan

How do you make out that?

He is taking as a controlling factor the price the finished product will be marketed at.

Dr. Ryan

Not altogether. I said that we must, first of all, get the cost of production.

And the cost of other feeding stuffs. Why cannot we get a formula so that we can pin the Minister down to something? If this were a court and a judge were sitting here all the time——

Dr. Ryan

He would go mad.

He would, if he saw what is being done here. We should be able during the long vacation, if this were a court, to come in and get redress, but the Minister probably hopes to go on the Continent by the end of this week. He signs an Order fixing the price of cereals and the greater portion of these cereals may have changed hands before there is an opportunity to raise the question of the price. There is, therefore, no remedy. Before that power is given, we should have some idea of how it will be used and the formula which the Minister will adopt. As I said, the Minister cannot estimate to the last penny in the case of any unit of cereals the price which he will fix, but he can give us a formula. He can give the bushel weights and the standards of the grades that he wants but he is averse to doing that now. Into how many grades is he going to put corn; what bushel weights will he require in the different grades, and what formula is he going to use in fixing the standard price?

Dr. Ryan

I indicated that we might possibly have an indefinite number of grades. We might have a fixed rate for, say, 40 bushels and let it go up and down from that, no matter how far it might go.

It might be one standard grade and so much for any difference in weight per measure up or down?

Dr. Ryan

Yes.

That would be all right.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 54 agreed to.
SECTION 55.

Dr. Ryan

I move amendment No. 6:—

At the end of the section to insert the following:—

The word "oat-kernel" means the part of an oat remaining after such oat has been subjected to a process whereby the hull or shell of such oat has been removed either wholly or to such an extent that the portion of such hull or shell remaining does not exceed in weight two and one-half per cent. of the weight of the said part of such oat remaining after subjection to such process.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 55, as amended, agreed to.
Section 56, 57, 58, 59 and 60 agreed to.
SECTION 61.

Dr. Ryan

I move amendment No. 7:—

Before the definition of the expression "oaten flour" to insert the following:—

The word "oat-kernel" means the part of an oat remaining after such oat has been subjected to a process whereby the hull or shell of such oat has been removed either wholly or to such an extent that the portion of such hull or shell remaining does not exceed in weight two and one-half per cent. of the weight of the said part of such oat remaining after subjection to such process.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 61, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 62.

Dr. Ryan

I move amendment No. 8:—

Before Section 62 to insert a new section as follows:—

The Minister, after consultation with the Minister for Agriculture, may by order make regulations prescribing the standards to which milk powder must conform in order to be classed as standard milk powder for the purposes of this Part of this Act, and references in this Part of this Act to standard milk powder shall be construed as reference to milk powder which conforms to the standards prescribed by regulations made under this section and for the time being in force.

It will be necessary to define "standard milk powder." If we were to leave the section as it is it would be quite open to any miller to claim that anything was milk powder: anything that came from milk as well as other things. The position is that we have to define "standard milk powder." That will be defined by the Minister for Agriculture before being adopted by the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

Amendment agreed to.

Dr. Ryan

I move amendment No. 9:—

In sub-section (1), paragraph (b), to insert the word "standard" before the words "milk powder" wherever the latter words occur.

What kind of a standard is it to be?

Dr. Ryan

As the Bill stands there would be nothing to prevent a person having a very high percentage of moisture in it. At the moment I do not know what the proper moisture should be, but we can say by definition that there must not be a certain amount of moisture or any other impurity in it.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 62, as amended, agreed to.
Section 63 agreed to.
SECTION 64.
Question proposed: "That Section 64 stand part of the Bill."

I take it that this section does not apply to retailers?

Dr. Ryan

It refers to millers only.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 65.

Dr. Ryan

I move amendment No. 10 :—

In sub-section (1), paragraph (b), to insert the word "standard" before the words "milk powder" wherever the latter words occur.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 65, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 66.
Question proposed: "That Section 66 stand part of the Bill."

I observe that the expression "Minister" means the Minister for Industry and Commerce, who is distinguished by his absence.

Dr. Ryan

The Deputy himself has just come back to the House.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 67 to 75, inclusive, agreed to.
SECTION 76.
Question proposed: "That Section 76 stand part of the Bill."

This is one of the most extraordinary sections ever put in a Bill. Under this, apparently, the Minister can, by order, create a contract between two parties for the sale and purchase of flour, and in this case breach of the contract is not amenable by an action for damages but by penalties under the Bill. This section is the first one in which reference to a compulsory sale order is made. It is qualified by Section 78, which sets out the effect of the service of that order on the parties to it. Section 78 provides:—

(a) the vendor and the purchaser shall be deemed to have entered into a contract in terms of the requirements of such order,

(b) if the requirements of such order are not complied with—

that is if the terms of the contract are not kept, then under paragraph (b) (1) of Section 78

the vendor shall, unless he proves to the satisfaction of the court that such non-compliance was due to the acts or default of the said purchaser, be guilty of an offence under this section.

And the purchaser, similarly, if he fails to carry out the terms of this statutory contract, will also be found guilty of an offence. Every person found guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to the penalties mentioned in Part I of the Schedule to this Act. These are the penalties:—

In the case of a first offence under the relevant section, a fine not exceeding £100, or, in the case of a second or any subsequent such offence, a fine not exceeding £250 or, at the discretion of the court, imprisonment for any term not exceeding six months.

Is there any precedent in the history of this or any other country which secures the performance of a contract by the imposition of six months in jail?

Dr. Ryan

I do not know if there is any such precedent, but why should we have precedents?

I notice that at this juncture the Attorney-General and Deputy Geoghegan and every other respectable lawyer who has been deluded into the ranks of the Fianna Fáil Party have discreetly absented themselves.

Dr. Ryan

I think the same applies to respectable lawyers on the other side.

Question put.
The Committee divided.
Tá, 43; Níl, 28.

Aiken, Frank.Bartley, Gerald.Boland, Gerald.Bourke, Daniel.Brady, Brian.Briscoe, Robert.Cleary, Mícheál. Donnelly, Eamon.Flynn, John.Geoghegan, James.Hales, Thomas.Hogan, Patrick (Clare).Houlihan, Patrick.Jordan, Stephen.Keely, Séamus P.Kelly, James Patrick.Kelly, Thomas.Keyes, Michael.Killilea, Mark.Kilroy, Michael.Lemass, Seán F.Little, Patrick John.

Concannon, Helena.Crowley, Fred. Hugh.Crowley, Timothy.Daly, Denis.Derrig, Thomas.De Valera, Eamon.Doherty, Hugh. Lynch, James B.MacEntee, Seán.Murphy, Patrick Stephen.O'Doherty, Joseph.O'Grady, Seán.O Ceallaigh, Seán T.O'Reilly, Matthew.Pearse, Margaret Mary.Rice, Edward.Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.Ryan, James.Ryan, Robert.Sheridan, Michael.Smith, Patrick.

Níl

Beckett, James Walter.Belton, Patrick.Bennett, George Cecil.Broderick, William Joseph.Burke, James Michael.Cosgrave, William T.Costello, John Aloysius.Curran, Richard.Davis, Michael.Desmond, William.Dillon, James M.Doyle, Peadar S.Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.Holohan, Richard.

Keating John.Lynch, Finian.McFadden, Michael Og.McGovern, Patrick.McMenamin, Daniel.Morrisroe, James.Morrissey, Daniel.Mulcahy, Richard.Nally, Martin.O'Connor, Batt.O'Leary, Daniel.Redmond, Bridget Mary.Rice, Vincent.Rowlette, Robert James.

Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.
Question declared carried.
SECTION 77.
Question proposed: "That Section 77 stand part of the Bill."

Under sub-section (1) (b) of this section the Minister is taking powers to serve a copy by registered letter. I submit that between this and Report Stage it should be provided that there shall be personal service, and that where that has failed there can be service by registered letter. I think the procedure of having personal service should not be departed from except for grave reasons, because this may be a very important thing. Some employee may take a registered letter and keep it to himself. He may try to keep it from his employer and so wreck the whole machine. Paragraph (b) should not be resorted to until there has been failure to serve notices personally, or a reasonable effort to do so made. I think that paragraph should be amended on the Report Stage.

Dr. Ryan

I agree with the Deputy that it is a matter of importance that every attempt should be made to have the notices served. It is a matter on which I should like to consult the Minister for Industry and Commerce, as he is primarily concerned in the section. I am not denying responsibility for the Bill, but I cannot take responsibility for doing anything here and now. I shall have to consider the matter.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 78.
Question proposed: "That Section 78 stand part of the Bill."

This is a section which creates the preposterous situation where a contract is enforceable by six months in jail. I am not personally interested in trying to correct the lacuna in this Bill but, for the reputation of this House it would be better if sub-section (2) was made to read that a person guilty of an offence shall be liable to a small fine under Part III instead of under Part I. Then you would have the situation created where any person guilty of a breach of contract created under the Act would be mulcted in something analogous to liquidated damages, and you would not have the absurd position of a person creating a breach of contract being liable to a term of imprisonment.

Dr. Ryan

This is a section where a very heavy penalty should be inflicted, because if stocks of flour are not distributed evenly amongst flour millers or merchants, they would not be used up all over the country before the other part of the Bill, concerning the mixing of oats, came into operation. The Minister should have power to inflict a very heavy penalty in case any owner of flour refused to carry out his part of the contract in selling part of the stocks.

It only shows what we are wandering blankly into. The Minister speaks casually of the Minister for Industry and Commerce inflicting a very heavy penalty.

Dr. Ryan

That was a mistake.

I recognise that the Minister does not mean that literally, but it gives an indication of the mentality we are developing. We are all becoming the bond slaves of one Minister or another, and if we do not do absolutely what the Ministers say a heavy penalty will be inflicted, because we do not do instantly and precisely what they tell us. In fact, this Government is running bureaucratic mad, and none of us will be allowed to draw a breath shortly without a licence from the Government. If we draw two breaths without having got a licence from one Minister, another Minister will inflict a heavy penalty because some of us determined to draw two breaths when there was only enough air to go round for one. No one would think that a term of six months' imprisonment under a Bill of this character would receive consideration from this House. I want to raise another question with regard to the compulsory sale order. Suppose a merchant, by the exercise of legitimate commercial foresight, buys a quantity of flour and that the world wheat market rises rapidly after the purchase is made, if the flour appreciates in value, will that position be taken into consideration when the compulsory sale order is made?

Dr. Ryan

The current price of flour.

If that is not taken into consideration has that merchant any means whereby he can make the Minister take it into consideration? Suppose the merchant considers the price fixed an unfair one, has he any means of bringing the Minister to arbitration? Let us take a common instance in business. I find on Monday morning that I have fifty tons of flour, and can demonstrate to anyone familiar with the wheat market that by the following Monday week that flour will be worth 20 to 30 per cent. more than it is worth to-day. That is to say, that in a fortnight from the relevant date my flour will be worth 30 per cent. more than it was, but on Tuesday I get a compulsory order to sell to a competitor at the current price. I say to the Minister: "Look at the wheat market. That flour is going to be worth £4 a ton more than it was worth a fortnight ago, yet I have received an order from you with which I have to comply within seven days, according to Section 79." Have I any rights against the Minister by way of compensation, or have I any means to compel the Minister to fix a price which will bear some relation to the intrinsic worth of the flour?

Dr. Ryan

No.

I have not! There must be some persons particularly on the Fianna Fáil Benches, who are familiar with trade in this House and who realise that I am out against virtual confiscation. This situation could arise: If I have flour which I bought to advantage, and if someone wanted to do me an injury, he could make a case under this Bill for transferring portion of the flour to a competitor, so that my foresight and my business acumen in buying could be made to operate gravely to my detriment, instead of to my advantage. How on earth could such a proposition be defended on any grounds of equity? It would be a gross outrage on justice to give such powers, and I submit that unless the Minister indicates his readiness to insert a section on the Report Stage which will give recipients of any sale order a right to bring him to arbitration and to fix a price, we are giving powers which could operate as a grave tyranny and a grave injustice in such cases, if used. Not only will it create a grave injustice for the vendors, but let us reverse the position. Suppose I have large parcels of flour in my warehouse, and I foresee a break in the market, as we do from time to time, I could go to the authority issuing the order and say: "Look at So-and-So down the street, who is rolling in money. It does not matter to him whether he makes or loses money. Give me a compulsory sale order and let us share the loss." A man down the street on some Tuesday morning receives an order from the Minister for Industry and Commerce compelling him to take over, perhaps, 250 tons of badly-bought flour at an exorbitant price, when he knows that if he was allowed to operate in the open market, or if allowed to postpone buying, he would suffer no loss at all. These are powers which it is manifestly absurd to give to any Minister or to any body of civil servants. They are powers which, in operation, can result in barefaced confiscation, and as such will operate against natural justice. I do not think they are powers this House should give to a Minister or to anyone else. We have no right to take away his property from a man without compensation, and that is what this compulsory sale order may, and probably will, do from time to time.

Dr. Ryan

The Deputy should realise that "from time to time" can hardly arise under this Bill. As he is aware, this will only operate to get stocks of flour, where there are certain holders, before the order for the mixing of the oaten flour comes into operation. It will only operate once.

If you put us on black bread once, we are not going to be on black bread for the rest of our lives.

Dr. Ryan

The Deputy was not here some time ago when I spoke about black bread. I defy the Deputy to tell the difference between the 100 per cent. oat flour loaf and the other loaf.

The Minister might make an order for this oat flour which would obtain for six months and then revert back and drop the oats business after the particular surplus of oats had passed. Then there would be a period of wheaten flour and then he might have to make another oats mixture order. On every occasion he made such an order he might find himself handing my property to that man and that man's property to me. As often as he did that I say that is an offence against natural justice and can be justified by no legislation passed by this House. There is one thing this House has no right and no power to do and that is to take my property from me and give it to somebody else.

Dr. Ryan

Of course the Deputy must realise that the Minister must do this every time by order. If on the first occasion he does any of the things the Deputy is afraid of the House may take up the order on the second occasion and have it rejected.

The Minister knows that that is no answer to the argument put up to him—that he might find himself in the position that he is taking men's property from them arbitrarily and refusing them the right to go before an impartial tribunal in order to get justice and nothing but justice. It is no defence to say: "If I err in my first order you can withdraw my authority to make a second order." We are now giving him power to make all the orders. All I am asking is that no such order should be made under the authority of this House without this House first having made absolutely sure that justice will be done both to the vendor and the purchaser. I am making the submission that this House has no authority and could not have authority to take one man's property from him arbitrarily and give it to another.

Question put:
The Committee divided: Tá, 43; Níl, 24.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Cleary, Mícheál.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Donnelly, Eamon.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Hales, Thomas.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Hogan; Patrick (Clare).
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Jordan, Stephen.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O'Doherty, Joseph.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.

Níl

  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Davis, Michael.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • Keating, John.
  • Lynch, Finian.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • Rowlette, Robert James.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies Doyle and O'Leary.
Question declared carried.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again to-morrow.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.35 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Wednesday, 8th August.