Committee on Finance. - Flax Bill, 1935—Committee Stage.

Sections 1 to 4 put and agreed to.
(3) The following provisions shall apply and have effect in relation to every application under this section for the registration in the register of flax-growing premises of land which is not in the occupation of the applicant, that is to say:—
(a) such application may be made on or after the 1st day of January in any year and on or before the 31st day of March in the same year and at no other time;

Dr. Ryan

I move amendment No. 1:—

In sub-section (3), page 4, to delete paragraph (a) and substitute a new paragraph as follows:—

(a) such application may be made—

(i) in the year 1936 at any time after the passing of this Act and before the Minister fixes under this Act the quota in respect of the sale season beginning on the 1st day of October, 1936, and at no other time, and

(ii) in any other year on or after the 1st day of January in such year and on or before the last day of February in the same year and at no other time;

This sub-section (3), paragraph (a) of Section 5 deals with the case of a person taking land which is not his own on which to grow flax. Paragraph (a) as it stands would permit the applications to be considered up to 31st March of any year, but it does not make any provision for this year. Under other clauses of this Bill provision is made for application this year as soon as the Bill is passed. As Deputies will see on reading it the first part of the amendment deals with this year. It is also felt that the date, the 31st March, ought to be altered somewhat because the final allocation must be made by the 31st March and it would be impossible, of course, to receive applications up to the 31st March and then to make allocations. The second part of the amendment would have the effect of compelling applicants to have their applications in before the last day of February, so that we might have the month of March to consider them and to make allocations.

Would the Minister tell the House what, in the Department's view, is the ideal time for sowing flax?

Dr. Ryan

I do not think I can answer for all the experts, but the month of April is generally held as the most suitable time in which to sow flax.

The Minister says that the allocation will take place before the 31st March. Would it then be possible to prepare the land properly for sowing the flax in time in the month of April?

Dr. Ryan

I think, as a matter of fact, application should be made early in March. This paragraph in the Bill stated we should have to receive applications up to 31st March. We have had to alter that and now we are closing down applications on the last day of February.

The Department should bear in mind that it would be eminently desirable to make the allocations in time in order that they may be able to prepare the land adequately for the sowing of the crop.

Dr. Ryan

That is right. Where a farmer is sowing flax on Lis own land early in the new year, we can make the allocations because the applications must be in much earlier.

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:—

In sub-section (4) (b), line 41, to delete the word "ten" and substitute the word "fifteen."

The object of the amendment is to secure equitable treatment for growers of flax who lost considerable sums of money after the slump in prices which ensued after the Great War. I am particularly interested in an area in Meath and Louth which was a flax-growing area and which is to a certain extent still a flax-growing area. I had that in mind when I introduced the amendment. I anticipate that the Minister will eventually make an Order under Section 2 to cover that area, and with that object in view I move the amendment. I agree that it is a very wide power to give the Minister, that of discrimination, but I hold that people who grew flax nine years ago should not have any preferential treatment, that those who grew flax 15 years ago are deserving of more sympathy. Perhaps I should say that I agree that growers who continued to produce the crop up to the present should get some special treatment. They have kept the tradition alive in certain areas against great odds.

But my special plea is for the men who lost a considerable amount of money, and in some instances all their capital, when the flax markets slumped about 14 years ago. They invested their money in producing the crop. Then the slump came unexpectedly and they were not accountable. But those people who started to grow flax nine or ten years ago as mentioned in the Bill, produced the crop and entered the market of their own volition, knowing that uneconomic prices would be forthcoming for the crop. I think that there is no similarity in the circumstances of the people who grew it ten years ago and those who grew it 15 years ago. These men are expert growers. They may not have the modern methods just at the moment. Nevertheless, very little education would enable them to produce flax as it is being produced under the most modern methods. I therefore, submit the amendment to the Minister's consideration.

Dr. Ryan

I do not think that this amendment could be accepted. In the first place I do not know that it is going to serve any useful purpose even for the farmers in Meath for whom Deputy Kelly speaks. I should like Deputies to picture what will happen exactly in selecting the growers. The Executive Council will make an Order stating what the maximum area should be. Suppose we are to have 6,000 acres of flax. If we get applications from the three Counties of Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan, and also from the two other small areas mentioned here in West Cork and Mayo-Sligo which have continued to grow flax for the last ten years amounting to 6,000 acres, I am sure every Deputy, if he were in my place, would agree that we should restrict the flax growing to those areas. Even though the amendment were agreed to, as long as Section 2 remains as it is in the Bill, any Minister for Agriculture will prevent the Meath growers coming in at all if we could get sufficient flax in the other areas. But suppose we do not get sufficient response from Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan and the other areas I mentioned, and we are anxious to get growers to fill the quota we have fixed, then if people from Meath offer to grow flax I am not in any way bound by the paragraph which Deputy Kelly seeks to amend, that is, paragraph (b) of sub-section (4), because it is only a direction to the Minister as to the points he should keep in mind if he is selecting one grower as against another.

Of course, if selection is not necessary, that is, in case there is not sufficient response as a result of this Bill, and if every grower who offers to grow flax can be brought within the provisions of the Bill, then that sub-section does not operate at all, because they can be all selected. So that from the point of view, first of all, of the utility of the amendment, I do not think it is going to be of any use, and, secondly, from the point of view of what you might call the equity of the situation—perhaps I could not give it a better name—I think anybody would agree that the growers in the areas who have continued to grow flax for the last ten years should naturally be selected first if there is going to be any selection. In these circumstances I feel bound to oppose the amendment.

I did not know that this would be on this evening, and I therefore was not in to hear the explanation of the Minister. I think however, that this amendment is one that the Minister should accept. There are areas which have continued in flax-growing practically all the time— one would be West Cork. If the amendment is not accepted West Cork will be excluded.

Dr. Ryan


It has not grown flax all the time. Of course last year flax was grown there.

Dr. Ryan

Then that is all right.

Are you including West Cork?

Dr. Ryan

I was making the argument, as a matter of fact, that West Cork should be considered before Meath. That is why I said the amendment should not be accepted.

There is another place also which I suggest should be considered before Meath, and that is West Mayo, where flax mills are still in existence.

Dr. Ryan

I mentioned that, too.

They are not working, but the mills are there. I think I heard the Minister say that if we did not get a sufficient quantity of flax in the other areas we would include those. Who is it that wants to get a sufficient quantity?

Dr. Ryan

I took as an example that if the Executive Council were to make an Order prescribing 6,000 acres, or such quantity of flax as would roughly be covered by 6,000 acres, because it will be done by weight in stones, as the quantity for which we would give a guarantee, and if that were not filled by the three Ulster counties and the other areas in West Cork and West Mayo, then the growers in Meath and other places would be taken in. But if it was filled by these areas there is no reason at all why Meath should be taken in.

There are growers of flax in Meath who have been growers for many years, and I do not see why West Cork and Mayo should have preferential treatment meted out to them. We have growers of flax already in Meath. We are not asking for the establishment of a new industry there. The scutching mill in Meath, although equipped with machinery, is not working at the moment, but it is ready for operation at an hour's notice. I hold it is the most modern mill for flax scutching in Ireland to-day. I hold that the claims of Meath should be put on a par with those of West Cork and Mayo. I do not ask for more.

At this juncture may I inquire what all the bother is about? So far as I am aware, this Bill prevents nobody from growing flax at a price of 8/- a stone, the price fixed; this Bill will not be a bit of good to anybody. The world price is in excess of 8/- a stone. The Minister, I am sure, will bear me out when I say that the Bill does not prevent anyone growing flax, but the Minister will say that before they sell a crop the farmers of one area alone will be guaranteed 8/- a stone. The farmers of Meath can grow all the flax they wish outside the Bill, and sell it at a better price than the Minister has guaranteed. One reason why I do not see there is any necessity for legislation in Royal Meath is that the paragraph which the Deputy seeks to remove from the Bill by his amendments would be purely permissive.

Sub-section (4) says:—

The Minister may refuse, on any of the following grounds, an application for the registration of land in the register of flax-growing premises, and one of the grounds is:—

(b) that the Minister is not satisfied that flax has been grown on such land within ten years before the passing of the Act.

There is no reason why he should refuse. I submit that if a case arose, even though the Minister did not intend to give a licence to persons who had not grown flax for ten or 14 years, there is no reason why, if a Deputy made a personal application to the Minister asking to be permitted to grow flax, he should not get it. In fact, what would happen is, that this section will not prevent persons who have grown flax in the last ten years, or persons who have not, from growing it. It is not compulsory. I think it should be emphasised most clearly that this Bill does not propose to prohibit any citizen in the State from growing flax. When the Bill becomes law everybody can grow flax if they want to, but only persons who have registration from the Department will be guaranteed the minimum price that the Minister will subsequently fix.

Dr. Ryan

I am glad to be able to agree with Deputy Dillon that the Bill does not in any way prevent persons from growing flax. It is only guarding against a slump in price. In reference to what Deputy kelly said, if they continued to grow flax in Meath in the last ten years, that is all right. This paragraph does not militate against that. There is no intention of treating Meath worse than West Cork or Mayo. It is contended that West Cork continued to grow flax in the last ten years, and that they are entitled to special preference with the three counties of Ulster.

Mr. Kelly

I am very thankful to the Minister for what he has said and ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

I protest. The Deputy should thank me for that statement.

With regard to the point that any farmer in the Free State might grow flax, I take it that if Meath or Wicklow or Wexford or other farmers grow flax next year as a result of this Bill when it becomes law, they may be deprived of the grant for training scutchers or the grant or loan for the erection of scutching plant. People are not going to grow flax in outside areas until they see what the position is going to be on that subject. They would want to know whether there was going to be any chance of their being deprived of the grants for training of scutchers or loans for the purposes I have mentioned.

Dr. Ryan

The Bill does not deal with that point. There is nothing to prevent a loan being given outside the area prescribed.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 5 agreed to.
Section 6 to 13, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 14 stand part of the Bill."

Sections 14 and 15 may be taken together in their implications. Section 15 provides for the fixing of a standard price. If the standard price for flax fibre is going to be fixed then, I say, it is not just to give the Minister the right to compel the flax grower to bring his flax to a particular scutching mill, because the flax fibre produced in any large quantity of flax may vary very greatly in quality as a result of the method whereby it is scutched. Therefore, the flax owner should have absolute discretion to get his flax scutched in the most efficient way he can. So I suggest to the Minister that if he is determined to fix the price, on the basis of the flax fibre, then he should give absolute discretion to the growers as to the mill where their flax is scutched. If, on the other hand, he feels it essential that he should have the right to control the flax mill, at which the flax is scutched, then he should fix the standard price on the basis of the scutched flax. Either of these courses is practical, and one of them is absolutely necessary if substantial justice is to be done to the flax grower, and what is more important—because in my opinion flax is not going to become a very extensive crop in this country in the future—what is more important than the particular case, a very undesirable precedent will be avoided. I am afraid that, if a precedent of this kind is established under this Bill, it may be followed in other Bills controlling the conditions under which agricultural produce is raised. I do not think I am drawing attention to an unreasonable difficulty, and I think the point is one which the Minister should try to meet.

I dealt with this aspect of the Bill on the Second Reading, and I support Deputy Dillon in what he has said. In practice, inspectors will find it very difficult to determine what is a good mill and what is not a good mill. It is only the farmers acquainted with the districts and with the craftsmen in the mills who will be in a position to judge the standard of the mill. It would be erroneous for the Minister to impose upon an inspector the duty of determining the mill to which flax should be sent. Anybody who is intimately connected with flax-growing knows that there are quite a number of small mills which the Minister might not think very much about but which are very efficient. These mills may be in the hands of small farmers who may be experts in the handling of flax. They may be very small men owning, perhaps, only ten acres or 12 acres, but they may have sons who take land in conacre for the purpose of growing flax to keep the mill going. It is in a mill of that kind that the best craftsmen are to be found. In the bigger mills the farmer may not be a seutcher, or, at least, may not be a craftsman in the sense that these small men are. Deputies who know the country in which these mills are situated, know that all these mills are efficient in the production of high quality flax. In my constituency I could not name a mill that is not highly efficient. I know two or three very small scutch mills, the owners of which, although small men, are the most highly-skilled flax craftsmen in Donegal or, perhaps, in any other county. For these reasons, I urge the Minister to drop that portion of the Bill. I support Deputy Dillon in his appeal to the Minister to bring in an alteration on Report Stage. The power given in that part of the Bill is inherently bad, and it is also bad in practice. The inspectors are bound to make mistakes in recommending certain mills to the Minister. A mill belonging to a large farmer will employ scutchers. In that mill you would probably get quite satisfactory results, but you would not get the results which you would get in the small mill the owner of which is an expert. An inspector, nevertheless, might not be impressed by the appearance of these small mills. I ask the Minister to drop this provision.

I should also like to ask the Minister to drop this proposal. I think it is unfair to the flax growers that the Minister should specify the mill to which they are to remove their flax for scutching. Invariably the scutching finishes at all the mills at the same time. Take the case of Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan, and other counties where you have a large number of scutch mills. The flax-growers in these areas have been in the habit, for a number of years, of removing their flax to a particular scutch mill where they were satisfied they got the best results. Under this Bill these men may be compelled to take their flax to another scutch mill where they may be of opinion they will not get satisfactory results. It is a very drastic proceeding, on the part of the Minister, to insist on flax-growers removing their flax to mills specified by him. The scutching process is highly technical and skilled work. The workmen in some mills may be more careless than the workmen in others, or the owner of the mill may be more careless than other owners. The best judge of the mill is the flax-grower. He is anxious to produce the best-quality fibre on the market. He has had experience of the mills, and there should be no dictation from headquarters as to where he should send his flax. I presume we are now dealing with Section 16, which covers the standard price.

I understand the two sections are being taken in conjunction for a special purpose.

It is rather hard on the inspector, no matter who he is, to have to go round to the mills and fix the standard price.

Dr. Ryan

He has not to do that.

How is the standard price fixed?

Dr. Ryan

The standard price is fixed by the Executive Council.

Who will fix it for the Executive Council?

Dr. Ryan

The Executive Council fix a price which, they believe, will prevent farmers from losing on the flax crop.

They will fix the price at 8/- a stone. Flax is at present 9/6 a stone but there is some flax which would be worth only 7/-. How is that flax to be dealt with?

Dr. Ryan

The inspector makes a return of the value of the flax. If the average value is lower than the standard price, then the same difference is paid on every stone of flax whether the grower got more than the standard price or less.

If the market value of the flax is only 7/-, the owner will get 8/-.

Dr. Ryan

Not necessarily. Suppose the Executive Council fixes the standard price at 8/-, and suppose the highest price realised for flax is 8/6 and the lowest price 6/-. The average price might be about 7/-. The standard price being 8/-, every grower gets 1/- per stone—even the man who got 8/6 for his flax. The man who got 6/- will also get 1/- extra.

If a man gets 8/-, he will also get the 1/- extra?

Dr. Ryan


And, if he gets 10/-, he will get 1/- likewise?

Dr. Ryan


Question proposed: "That Section 14 stand part of the Bill."

Dr. Ryan

With regard to Deputy Dillon's point, I realise that it is very important, but I should like him to realise that there is at least a potential difficulty to be dealt with. In the first place it will be noticed in Section 13 that a grower selects any scutch mill. The power in Section 14 will not be used by the Minister unless it is felt by the Department that too many growers have selected a scutch mill which could not deal with their crop.

That will not happen.

Dr. Ryan

It may. If it does not happen the section does not come into operation.

That does not happen.

Dr. Ryan

It might. Deputy Dillon said this might create a precedent. We have a similar clause in the Tobacco Act. It has not been used, because too many growers did not select the one rehandling station. If they had done so we would have had to ask them to go to another rehandler because the one they selected could not deal with any more.

And you paid for the tobacco.

Dr. Ryan

After rehandling, when the final value was made out. As to the other point raised by Deputy Dillon, it would be impossible to value flax before it was scutched. If I were to get a choice of altering one of the sections I would alter Section 14. If a case does arise, and if we want to ask a farmer not to go to a particular scutch mill, in practice a choice can be given him. We will naturally in such cases tell him that there are four other scutch mills in the area and to select one that is not overcrowded. As far as it can possibly be done a choice will be given. With the present acreage there is not the slightest danger of this power being used, but with a very large increase in acreage it might be necessary to use it in certain instances. There is no question, however, of asking farmers to go in the first instance to a particular scutch mill. The power will only be used if we find too many farmers have selected the same scutch mill.

I have often warned this House against doing things which seem harmless but which in future will be set out as precedents. My case here was very strong up to the point that the Minister said there was similar power in the Tobacco Act. That precedent was quoted against me, I admit, with telling effect.

Dr. Ryan

I only made the point that we are not establishing a precedent.

And I want to point the moral. We did that and we established a precedent which the Minister fairly referred to now as a precedent which was accepted in the past. But obviously that does affect the merits of the case under discussion. The Minister told us that he did not propose to use this power on the basis of the present production of flax. I would be much happier if he did not enact it into law under the present basis of flax production. If he does not want the power I would be much happier if he did not take it. If he intends to increase the area under flax afterwards, and if he came and said that it was administratively necessary to have this power, I am sure the House would be prepared to meet him and to give it if he said that it would be impossible to carry on without it. It would be a graceful gesture if he dropped it at this juncture with the existing acreage and said: "I do not want this power, but I warn the House that if the acreage is increased I will have to come back and get it." I asked the Minister if he had to make any order in connection with tobacco to have tobacco brought to a particular rehandling station.

Dr. Ryan

No, it was not necessary.

It would be interesting to know if the tobacco growers protested against that provision. I would be interested to know if Deputy O'Reilly, who is very much interested in the production of tobacco, could tell us if, in his opinion, it would be desirable to vest in the Department of Agriculture the right to order him to bring his tobacco crop to a particular rehandler, or whether, as a tobacco producer, he attaches certain importance in being allowed to choose any rehandler to judge of the merits of the crop, knowing the difference there is in rehandling, as he would judge it. I think this is a valuable right and one that the Government should be slow to take away from any scutch mill. For this reason I urge that the Minister should abandon the attempt to acquire this power unless and until the area under flax makes it imperative that he should have it.

I pressed Ministers repeatedly not to refer to things that were wrong in precedent but I am always met with the excuse: "Oh, this provision is in such and such an Act," and of course that is the defence. Obviously this Bill is drafted on the lines of the Tobacco Act. When I saw this provision I knew that there was no justification for it. I am prepared to go a long way in connection with tobacco, because the Revenue authorities have to look very minutely after every ounce of tobacco that is produced. That is not the position with flax. If I were to be the Minister's successor I would not like to have that power, and I do not like to see the Minister seeking it. It is a bad thing to have in a Bill such as this a provision by which it is left in the hands of any particular man to say to a farmer: "I will give this flax to Deputy O'Donovan's mill,' or "I will not let that flax go to Deputy McMenamin's mill." In practice what the Minister said will not arise, because growers go to a particular mill just as people go to a particular tailor for clothes or to a bootmaker for a pair of boots because they suit their requirements. They will go to the same place again and again because it was satisfactory and there will be nothing in the way of an experiment about the transaction. After a man has sown a crop that is highly expensive he does not want to run any risk of having the crop destroyed, or of having a lower return as a result of scutching operations. A man who understands flax can take a handful of it and roughly judge what it will produce. This provision in this section is utterly impossible because the question of storage arises.

Deputy O'Donovan had experience of flax in Donegal, and he knows that such a provision could not be put into operation. I appeal to the Minister to drop the provision and not let it go to the country that the Minister said that he would not allow farmer A, B or C to send flax to a mill because the owner was a supporter of Fine Gael orvice versa. I hate to have politics meeting us everywhere. There are plenty of flax mills in Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan. All the growers cannot send to the one mill because there is, in the first instance, the storage difficulty for flax awaiting scutching and, after scutching, waiting until the inspector comes to weigh and price it.

Dr. Ryan

I do not think the analogy of a person going to a particular bootmaker is true because, after all, the man who is in the habit of going to one bootmaker knows that that man can deal with twice as many people. A scutch mill could not do that. That is the trouble. Deputy McMenamin has made a strong appeal that I should not embarrass him as my successor. That is a thing I should not like to do.

It is for your own sake. Do not mind your successor.

Dr. Ryan

As Deputy Dillon says, although it is only a small point it is a very important one, and I would like to reconsider it. At the same time I warn Deputies that I cannot see any way out of it at present. I am prepared to consider it between this and the Report Stage to see if it is possible to find a solution.

As the analogy has been quoted, will Deputy O'Reilly give us his impressions on tobacco, as to the desirability of giving the Government the right to compel him to bring his tobacco to a particular rehandling station in preference to one that he knew from his own experience to be a competent one?

I have not sufficient experience regarding the rehandling of flax but I know that it works out quite satisfactorily as far as the rehandling of tobacco is concerned, because growers can select their own rehandling station.

Observe that Deputy O'Reilly says that it works out quite satisfactorily in the case of tobacco because the grower can choose his own rehandling station. That is just precisely what we have been urging on the Minister.

So that the Deputy is now satisfied to pass on to the next section.

I am satisfied that Deputy O'Reilly's cogent words will help the Minister to reconsider the position between now and the Report Stage.

Sections 14 and 15 ordered to stand part of the Bill.


Question proposed: "That Section 16 stand part of the Bill."

This section states:

"All flax grown on registered flax-growing premises which is lawfully sent by the registered proprietor of such premises for scutching to registered scutch-milling premises shall—

(a) be scutched at such scutch-milling premises, and

(b) when so scutched, be retained in such premises until the next paragraph of this sub-section has been complied with in respect thereof, and

(c) be inspected, weighed, graded, and valued in such premises in accordance with the next following sub-section of this section."

I do not know how this arrangement is going to work out for the owners of mills. If they are to wait until an inspector calls to their mills, in the first place, they will need to have a good deal of storage accommodation for the raw flax which is a bulky commodity. Then, after it is scutched, they will have to hold the scutched fibre for a week, a fortnight or perhaps a month on their premises until it is inspected, weighed, graded and valued on such premises. I think that is most unfair to the mill owner. I think it would be impossible for him to provide storage accommodation, first for the raw material, and then for the finished article, until such time as the inspector will call to have it inspected and graded. Apart from that, I do not think any mill owner would be prepared to run the risk of holding the flax fibre on his premises for any considerable length of time. The custom invariably is to have the flax removed—except in cases where you have weekly markets and at present we are not going to have them here—from the scutch mill to the farmer's own home where the farmer himself is responsible for it. If there are any risks involved in its storage, he takes them. I think it is very hard to expect the mill owner to hold the flax. If paragraph (c) were withdrawn it would then be left open to the farmer to have his flax removed and the inspector could inspect it either on the farmer's own premises or at the market when it is being offered for sale. When it is exposed for sale the inspector can weigh and grade it.

Sub-section (2), paragraph (a) states:—

"Such scutched flax shall be so weighed by the proprietor of the scutch-milling premises in the presence of an inspector at the time appointed for that purpose by such inspector who shall thereupon record the weight thereof."

It may not be possible for the proprietor to be there at that time. I think the word "proprietor" is tying you down too much. It should read: "the proprietor or his representative." The proprietor may have a hundred other things to do at the time the inspector calls. If paragraph (c) of sub-section (1), which I have already quoted, were withdrawn, it would meet this case and no such difficulty would arise. Paragraph (c) is the important one and I am sure the Minister will realise that he must meet the mill owners who will not willingly take the responsibility of storing the flax and undertake all the risks in connection with it.

This is a section which I think presents considerable difficulty. It is going to impose, in my opinion, great hardships unless the scheme is organised with considerable efficiency. In this section we are imposing an onerous duty on the owner of the scutch mill and we are not giving him any compensation for that. Deputies will observe that the owner of the scutch mill is not going to get any monetary reward out of this for all the trouble to which he will be put. It would be monstrous in my opinion to compel him to provide increased storage accommodation, because he is not going to get any money out of it. He is going to be used as part of the machinery of the Bill for the benefit of the farmer. The farmer will get the benefit of the scheme and the owner of the mill is part of the machinery that is going to be used for the purpose of passing on the benefits of the measure to the farmer. Again, this is a section that should be read in connection with the obligation to send flax to a specified scutch mill, because this section makes it impossible to send a large quantity of flax to a particular mill. I would suggest to the Minister that something should be done to relieve the owners of these scutch mills of the responsibility imposed by this section because as Deputy O'Donovan has pointed out it is obvious that the owner of the mill cannot be there all the time. He may be ill for the entire period of the scutching season. Of course, the Minister could provide that he might be represented by an agent or some other representative. It is essential to have some provision of that kind as otherwise that part of the measure would be unworkable. However, that is a very small point.

The important point is the proposal to keep the flax in the mill after scutching until it is weighed and graded by the inspector. We are imposing a very onerous duty on the owners of scutch mills in that regard, a duty for which, as I pointed out, they are not going to get any reward. I think the Department will require to organise a scheme something similar to that in connection with the Pig Marketing Scheme, under which a notification is sent out that the pigs will be sold at a certain date. On a particular date, the owner of the scutch mill could have a certain quantity of flax scutched and on that day, or the preceding or subsequent day, the inspector could be there to inspect and grade the flax. It is all right, of course, to criticise this provision. The trouble is to suggest alternative machinery for dealing with the matter because if the flax is taken out of the mill and is brought home by the farmer, it might happen that there would be some juggling with the flax. The inspector might weigh it, grade it and put a price on it and then, perhaps, it would be taken away and put somewhere else. That is a possible difficulty, but it might be met if the owner of the scutch mill were required to keep a record of the amount of flax he scutched for each farmer, and if, when the flax were being taken away by the farmer, he would give him a docket on which the amount of the flax scutched would be entered. The farmer could then take the flax home and put it where he liked.

This is a section which presents, as I say, considerable difficulty. Of course, from the point of view of the Department it presents no difficulty, but it is going to present considerable difficulty to the owners of scutch mills. I think it very unfair to impose this duty on the owner of a mill without giving him any reward for it. The question is to produce some alternative scheme. The only alternative I can suggest is that the owner of the scutch mill should keep a book or docket in which particulars of each quantity of flax scutched would be kept. He could keep account of the quantity of flax brought to him by each farmer and when it had been scutched and was being taken away he would weigh it, give him the weight on the docket and sign it. Then the farmer can take it home and store it in his own place. If I thought that this section was going to mean that the owner of a flax mill would have to build additional storage I would sternly resist it. Such a proposal would be utterly indefensible.

As I mentioned on the Second Reading, this storage cannot be of a casual kind. It must be a solid stone building with a slated roof. Therefore, the Dáil should not impose on the owner of such mills the obligation to erect a permanent building because, as it is, the men in this business have not much out of it at present. The owners of scutch mills—I mean now men who have no land of their own and are simply scutch millers—find great difficulty in making a livelihood out of the business for the reason that the scutching of flax only lasts for about three months of the year. They have to make enough during that short period to enable them to provide for themselves and their families as well as sufficient to pay the scutchers whom they employ. These scutchers are pretty well paid. Therefore, I suggest, it would be an outrage to impose on them the obligation of erecting additional storage accommodation.

Dr. Ryan

I do not think Deputy McMenamin can hold that we are not giving the scutch millers any benefit under the Bill. We will, at least, be putting in their way a steady volume of trade. That will be of great benefit to them. Heretofore, their business was of a fluctuating kind. It has been so for the last 14 or 15 years. One year, their business might be very big, but as against that it might be very small the following year. Although they may not be paid any more per stone for the flax, still they will have this assurance: that their business will be of a more steady and regular character. It would be absolutely impossible to have the flax inspected on a farmer's premises, for the reason that there may be 7,000 or 8,000 farmers growing flax. In view of that, one can imagine the number of inspectors that would need to be employed if the inspections were to be at farmers' premises. The season, as Deputy McMenamin pointed out, only lasts about three months. We will probably have less than 100 scutch mills and, therefore, it will be possible for the inspectors to visit the mills at least once a week. If, from experience, it is found that it is necessary for the inspectors to visit the mills, say, twice a week in the areas where a good deal of flax is grown such, for instance, as Donegal and Monaghan, that can be arranged. In these centres it may be necessary for the inspectors to visit the mills oftener than once a week or twice a week in order to give the millers a chance of clearing what they have in hands. I do not think, therefore, that it will be necessary for the millers to provide extra storage. From the administrative point of view it will be much easier to work the Bill by having the inspections made at the mills. By doing that I do not think that we will be putting the scutch millers to any inconvenience.

I cannot agree with the Minister in what he has said. I think that if this proposal is carried out it will mean considerable inconvenience to the scutch millers. The Minister probably has not much experience of scutch milling. As each lot of flax comes from the scutchers it is weighed, and the miller pays the men on the weight. There may be two lots of flax being scutched in a mill. Each lot, as it comes from the scutchers, is weighed by the miller. He tots the weights, and on that the men are paid. Suppose that at the end of the week seven tons of flax have been scutched and that the miller has to weigh every ounce of that again in the presence of an inspector, that surely is going to cause considerable expense and inconvenience to the scutch miller. The Minister does not seem to favour the idea that the farmer should be allowed to take the flax home and have it examined there by an inspector. It is true that there might be some difficulty in having it weighed at a farmer's premises, as there might not be a suitable weighing machine available, but there is this point to be borne in mind, that the scutch miller is obliged to keep an accurate record of the quantity of flax scutched in his mill for each individual grower. Should not the inspector be satisfied with the weights there recorded without insisting on having the flax weighed a second time? If there is any difficulty in that connection there is this further point, that all flax may be sold in the public market. I do not know if there are any markets in Donegal at the moment, but you have them in Monaghan and Cavan. There is no reason why there should not be a market in Donegal for flax. If the flax is taken to the market it will be weighed on the market scales and the market ticket, I suggest, should suffice for the inspectors. It would mean endless trouble and worry for the scutch mill owner if he had to take responsibility for all the flax scutched in his mill, and had to hold it pending the inspector's visit.

Paragraph (c) of sub-section (1) of Section 16 provides that all flax sent for scutching to registered scutch milling premises shall

"be inspected, weighed, graded, and valued in such premises in accordance with"

the provisions of sub-section (2). Why is it that the flax must be valued by the inspector? It is most unfair to the inspector, I think, that he should be asked to do that because, in my opinion, the only one who is a real judge of the value of the flax is the flax buyer. That valuation can be got on the market. The sale ticket will be available there. All the information that is required as to weight, grade and price will be available in the market. In my opinion it would be putting the inspector in a very false position if he were to be asked to grade and value the flax. That is not his job. The only man competent to do that is the buyer of the flax, the man sent out by the spinning company, who is an expert in the business. It would be very misleading, too, if the inspector were to grade and price the flax. He might put too high or too low a price on it. If, when the flax is at the mill, he puts too low a value on it, the news of that will spread quickly around the country. It will be passed on from neighbour to neighbour, and eventually when the grower takes the flax to the market the flax buyer may come along and say, "Oh, the Government inspector only put 7/- per stone on this, and I will not pay any more for it," whereas the flax may be worth 9/- or 10/- per stone. Therefore I suggest that it would be very unfair to the growers to ask an inspector, no matter how competent he may be, to grade and value the flax. I think the Minister would be well advised to delete this paragraph from the section. It should be sufficient for the inspector to visit the mills and check the quantities of flax that have been scutched there. The job of putting a value on the flax should be left to the man who is an expert in the business. As I have already suggested, the inspector could attend the markets, see that the weights are correct, and check the price paid for the flax. If there is a bounty to be paid, it could be calculated on the price paid for the flax in the public market.

Dr. Ryan

I am afraid the Deputy does not realise the great difficulty there would be in working out a scheme of that kind. If he reads paragraph (d) he will see that "every inspector, when valuing any scutched flax in pursuance of this section, shall have regard to the current market prices of scutched flax, and in particular to the current market price of the grade of scutched flax to which he has assigned the scutched flax so being valued..." That is, of course, really giving the inspector, if you like, an opportunity of going to the market and finding out what exactly flax is getting; he will do that as far as possible. If we were to wait until all the flax is sold before we could find out the average ascertained value, it might be 12 or 18 months before we could pay the subsidy. We would always have that difficulty.

Dr. Ryan

We had that difficulty, for instance, in the case of tobacco, because one particular rehandler was very slow about rehandling. As the Tobacco Act is drawn up, we must get the value of the tobacco before we can do anything. It meant that people had sold their tobacco before they got paid for the previous crop. We do not want that to occur in the case of flax.

How could it occur in this case?

Dr. Ryan

If I were to adopt the Deputy's suggestion, and take the ascertained value from the market, if any particular grower of flax under this scheme were not to sell his flax for some reason or other, I would have to wait 12 months before getting the ascertained value. That would be the difficulty. As the Bill is drafted the inspector can do as the Deputy suggests. He can go to the market, find out what flax is getting, and say: "That is grade 1, which is getting so much in the market, and therefore it is valued at that." At the same time he can prevent any great delay. If any grower is neglectful about disposing of his flax, he can say: "I value it at that, and that finishes your flax as far as value goes." I think if the Deputy were to look at it from the administrative point of view he will see that if you are to take the market value, and if somebody does not sell his flax, the whole thing is held up. I think the inspector should have power, in certain cases at least, to value on his own, although the flax is not sold, and that is exactly how the section is drafted.

If a man does not sell his flax, that is his look-out.

Dr. Ryan

But is every other grower to suffer for that? No other flax grower can be paid if that happens.

Would there be any cognisance taken of the actual price the grower gets?

Dr. Ryan

Yes. If the Deputy looks at paragraph (d) he will see that the inspector is instructed to find out what flax is actually getting.

Yes, but that is not done. The Department will have regard to the price at which the inspector values the flax?

Dr. Ryan


What I mean is, will the actual price got for that flax come into your reckoning at all?

Dr. Ryan

It comes into the inspector's reckoning.

But it is only to influence him?

Dr. Ryan


It is on the inspector's reckoning you go?

Dr. Ryan


I am afraid I must disagree with Deputy O'Donovan. In practice there is no such thing at the present time in our county as what you would call an open competitive market, although I suppose we are marketing as much flax as any other county in the Free State. The practice is that the purchase is made at the mill and the market is really only for delivery. There is really no open market for flax at the moment. It is bought at the mill and delivered at the market. Previously only the inferior lots came to the market, but at the moment the practice is much as is visualised in the Bill. I do not know if you will achieve very much by compelling it to go to the market and be graded in the market, except we revert to the war-time practice of having the whole thing done in the market. Then it was only put into a certain grade and the grade price was determined.

I would be very loath to have this section passed without further consideration. With regard to Deputy Haslett's point, of course what is happening at the moment is that there is no exhibit of flax in the market at Monaghan. At one time there would be 20 tons or 40 tons of flax used up every fortnight in the market at Ballybay, and also in Monaghan and Castleblayney. There was a feeling that only the poor quality flax went to the market, and you had a number of farmers who were anxious to dispose of their flax at the mill because they thought they got a better price there. But at that time the experience of those who were experts was that the proper place to sell flax was the market. You had competition in the market; all the buyers attended there, as happens in Londonderry and Antrim, where you have weekly markets in Coleraine, Ballymena and Ballymoney. There is no flax sold at the scutch mills. It used to be the custom, some 40 odd years ago or more, to sell the flax at the mill, as is being done in Monaghan at the moment. Then the people up there found that there was no competition and that the open market was the best place to sell flax. If you had a condition like that—that all flax should be exposed and sold in the open market—it would be a great benefit to flax growers.

The experience in my time was that the buyer of flax was able to, and did pay in certain instances, a good price for certain lots of flax at the scutch mills, and that as a result of paying a good price for those lots he could get a bigger lot much cheaper. The open market is the proper place to have it done. If there were some such requirement in the Bill I think it would meet the case. It would obviate the necessity of having the inspector valuing the flax and grading it. It would also obviate the necessity of having the mill owner keeping a supply in his stores, and having to go to the extra labour of reweighing the amount of flax he would have at the end of a week or a fortnight. The open market is the one place where you have competition. If there is to be any revival of the flax industry in this country the one thing that will accomplish it is competition in the open market. You will have a buyer for every class of fibre exposed at the market and each will find the particular grade of flax he requires and pay the best possible price for it. Otherwise, a buyer might come to the market wanting a certain grade of flax; he would buy that and there would be no buyer for the poorer grade or the better grade. He might even buy a better grade flax at much under its value and be able to dispose of it to somebody else, whereas if you have an open market, and each of the spinning firms represented by buyers, you create a demand and you have a buyer for each grade of flax. That would obviate the necessity of the millers storing it and an inspector having to grade and value it.

So far as weighing is concerned, I take it that the Minister is merely taking power to do this? It would not really be done in practice. I am selling flax all my life and I never saw a stone weighed, except a broken stone.

Is the Minister prepared to meet us or to reconsider this for Report Stage?

Dr. Ryan

I am quite prepared to reconsider it, but I do not see that anything can be done.

Section 16 agreed to.
(1) If the average ascertained value per stone of all the flax grown in the area to which this Act applies and lawfully sent for scutching to and scutched in registered scutch-milling premises in any particular sale season is less than the standard price per stone for that sale season, the Minister shall, subject to the restrictions imposed by this section, pay to every registered proprietor or registered flax-growing premises a bounty (in this Act referred to as flax bounty) on every stone of flax grown on such premises and lawfully scutched as aforesaid equal to the difference between the said average ascertained value per stone and the said standard price per stone.

Dr. Ryan

I move amendments Nos. 3 and 4:—

3. In sub-section (1), page 8, line 56, after the word "less" to insert the words "by three pence or by any greater amount".

4. In sub-section (1), page 9, line 2, before the word "stone" to insert the word "complete".

In paying a subsidy, it would be rather troublesome and, indeed, of no great benefit to the growers if the average ascertained value were to work out a ½d., a 1d. or 1½d. a stone less than the standard price, because it would mean sending out cheques for 1/- or 1/6 to many growers throughout the country and no very big cheque to anybody. It would take a great deal of the time of officers in the Department to calculate the subsidy on part of a stone. Suppose, for instance, we had a subsidy of 6d. per stone, and suppose we had 35 stone and a fraction of a stone like five-eighths, it would take a great deal of time to calculate what should be paid on the fraction of a stone. The amendment provides that we shall not pay where the difference is less than 3d., but that does not mean that we would always knock off the 3d. If the difference between the standard price and the average ascertained value is less than 3d., we do not pay anything, but, if it happens to be 3½d., we pay the whole 3½d. Where the difference is 3d. and over, we pay it. In the same way a person will be paid in respect of every complete stone and it is only on fractions of a stone that he will not be paid. The same provision was found necessary under the wheat scheme when we were paying the subsidy.

Amendments agreed to.
Section 17, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 18 to 22, inclusive, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 23 stand part of the Bill."

Apparently no alternative machinery is going to be provided in regard to the weighing, scutching and storing of flax. A register will be kept of all the scutch mills, and I think that, when that register is compiled and the scutch mills are registered, a time-table should be made out for the inspectors, so that when the scutching season begins there will be no unnecessarily long period during which a lot of flax would be left to accumulate in the mills. With that time-table the inspector could visit these mills at regular times and at short intervals, to avoid the accumulation of flax in any mill. It can quite readily be done with this register, and I think it should be done, and a tight grip kept on these inspectors in respect of that part of their duties.

Dr. Ryan

I think that will work out in practice. A miller will know a day the inspector is coming. He may come every Wednesday, or perhaps twice a week, but the miller will know when he is coming.

Question put and agreed to.
Section 24 agreed to.

Dr. Ryan

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 12, to add at the end of the section two new sub-sections as follows:—

(5) All fees payable under this section shall be collected in money and taken in such manner as the Minister for Finance shall from time to time direct, and shall be paid into or disposed of for the benefit of the Exchequer in accordance with the directions of the said Minister.

(6) The Public Offices Fees Act, 1879, shall not apply in respect of any fees payable under this section.

This is the usual provision inserted in many of these Bills which was inadvertently left out when this Bill was being drafted. As the law stands, no civil servant, or Minister, for that matter, can accept money due to the Government except in certain forms. It must be in the form of a money order or cheque, and I do not know if even payment by cheque is allowed. If a person comes into the office and wants to inspect the register under this Bill, and if he has to pay 1/-, we do not want to have to tell him to go to the post office and get a special money order for this purpose. By the insertion of this amendment, we can take the 1/- in cash. That is all it amounts to.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 25, as amended, agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 26 stand part of the Bill."

I do not like the phrasing of this sub-section (1) at all. I think it is a superfluous sub-section. It reads:—

Any inspector shall be entitled at all reasonable times to enter any registered premises or any premises in respect of which an application for registration has been made and to inspect such premises and the plant, appliances, and equipment therein and all flax, flax seed, and scutched flax in such premises and to observe all or any of the processes and methods used in the preparation for scutching or the scutching (as the case may be) of flax in such premises.

I do not see what the purpose of that is. There is no flax seed in a flax mill, and I cannot understand why that was introduced. I fail to see what the inspector has to do with it. Under the Bill, an inspector goes to a scutch mill to weigh the flax of a registered grower, and to fix the quality of it, and beyond that I do not see what he has to do with the mill at all. Perhaps the Department thinks it necessary to take every sort of arbitrary power to protect itself, but I do not see why this is necessary. I cannot understand why the inspector should want to inspect the mill at all. Our function is to produce a Bill that will give a bounty to farmers, and the way that is to be done is by the registration of his land as flax-growing land, the flax from which will be scutched, inspected by an inspector, and a standard price fixed for it. I do not see why it is necessary to go beyond that. There may be some reason that one cannot see, but one cannot visualise why it is necessary in practice. The Minister may see the wisdom of having it, but I do not see the wisdom of putting it in the Bill at all.

Dr. Ryan

It is more a legal point I think than anything else, that we must get power in such legislation as this for the inspector to enter. Otherwise, we might have very vexatious actions against the inspector for coming in at an improper time to inspect. Growers come under this, and if, for any reason, we wanted an inspector to see if a particular grower was really growing the flax he said he was growing—I do not know much about the law but the Deputy does— it is possible that if the inspector were not protected by this section, he might be taken up by the grower for trespass or some other offence of that kind. The section also refers to the making of an application for registration. If a scutch miller applies for registration, it may be necessary to inspect his premises to see if the equipment is all right or if the building is properly roofed, which is necessary, as the Deputy pointed out, and an inspector might be sent down to inspect and to see if it should be registered. When it had been registered, a report might come into the Department that that registered grower did not grow flax, but that he was getting flax from another person and passing it off as his own. It might be necessary in that case to inspect the books of the scutch mill and, if the inspector were suspicious, he might look to see the amount of flax actually in the mill, the amount scutched and the amount not scutched, and so on. As Deputy Dillon pointed out already, these powers do go on from one Bill to another. Practically the same clause comes into every Bill that is introduced—that an inspector has the right to enter a premises and so on.

Does the Minister actually expect that the inspector is to go into the scutch mill when the farmers have sent in their flax and that this inspector is going to weigh it in every case in order, let us say, to see if farmer A.B. sent 10 tons of flax to that mill for scutching?

Dr. Ryan

Oh, no; not at all.

Because, if so, it would be impossible. You must have some belief in the integrity of the community. There are various ways of getting at these people, and I hold that your main protection against fraud here is, first, the books of the owner of the scutch mill. He has got to be paid so much per cwt., and the scutcher has got to be paid so much per cwt.—his wages must be there in some place or another. The owner gets paid per cwt. for the number of cwts. he scutches. In my opinion that is your basic plank, and on that you must rest.

Dr. Ryan

Not necessarily.

You will have to rely upon that. It will be your main plank with regard to administering this thing in practice; but as to taking this power with regard to inspection, such as trying to see whether A.B.'s flax, or how much of it, is in that mill or not, you could not do that. There will be umpteen tons of flax belonging to different people in this mill or in that mill, and the only real machine that you have got is, first, the wages the scutcher gets, and, secondly, the number of cwts. that the owner of a scutch mill gets paid for scutching by any particular farmer. Under that section there, you could inspect away from Monday morning till Saturday night, and from the beginning till the end of the season, but unless you did that and weighed every load of raw flax that came to the mill, you would have no protection under that section.

I take it that all scutch mills would have to be registered?

Dr. Ryan


And that, as a result, they would all have to be inspected before registration?

Dr. Ryan


I think that is very necessary from the point of view of the growers of flax, because some mills may not be up-to-date, and while I would not suggest any drastic action being taken against a miller, who did not have a large quantity of flax to scutch, by compelling him to instal a lot of expensive machinery, at the same time I consider that it would be a very good thing to do. In some mills you would have antiquated machinery with obsolete rollers, where the flax would have to be thrown into the rollers several times, and I take it that the object of the inspection of scutch mills is to see that they are properly equipped for scutching, and that at all times inspectors could visit them in order to see that they are doing their work properly, and that, along with seeing the flax weighed, the inspector would also see that the grower would be safeguarded and that there would be no butchering or hammering of the flax in the scutch mills. Is that the intention?

Dr. Ryan


Now, with regard to the question of flax seed: Deputy McMenamin said that there is no flax seed in the scutch mills for inspection. Well, that is so at the moment, but perhaps the Minister might be visualising a time in the future when we might be saving our own flax seed here. The pioneers of the new breeds of flax seed were in the North of Ireland. As a matter of fact, the man who first started this here—I think the first in the flax-growing world to realise the advantage of good seeds— was Mr. John W. Stewart, of Coleraine, who is still alive. He was the first to realise the advantage of good seeds, and possibly his suggestions might be adopted by our people down here, and we might be able to have the seed as well as the fibre saved in the Saorstát. During the war period a good deal of the flax seed was saved in the Saorstát and gave very satisfactory results; but now, with the new breeds of seeds that have come in, I do not see why the propagation of these seeds might not be attempted, on a small scale at first, perhaps, by our people here, and we might have flax seed in connection with the scutch mills at a later stage. I think it is necessary that the inspector should go to the mills in order to see that the growers were being safeguarded, by seeing that the scutchers were doing their work properly.

Sir, may I sound a note of caution? Flax-growing is a business, and it can be readily seen in this debate that for Deputy O'Donovan it is not only a business but a glorious romance as well. I am afraid that we may get too far carried away by our enthusiasm in this matter. I realise that it would be desirable that every scutch mill in the country should have the most modern plant that human ingenuity could command, but we have to bear in mind that flax milling will be only a very small industry in this country for some time to come, and we should not inflict too much expense on the millers, and thus make it impossible for them to carry on. Let us, peacefully, and, if needs be, romantically creep before we run——

Before we dance!

The Parliamentary Secretary says "creep before we dance." The picture of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance displaying his terpsichorean art over the flax fields of this country would be exceedingly diverting. We should not inflict too much cost at the beginning of the industry, and I imagine that the scutch mills that are giving reasonable satisfaction should not be required to equip themselves too exhaustively at the beginning. Later on, if the crop develops and if there is a prospect of an enduring large demand on the services of the scutch mills, there could be more rigorous requirements in regard to equipment and so on.

Dr. Ryan

I do not think that Deputy O'Donovan had in mind mills that are actually working. They would be passed by the inspectors. Mills that have been disused or not working for a long time would have to be dealt with.

Section 26 put and agreed to.
Sections 27 and 28 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 29 stand part of the Bill."

I enter my perennial objection to this section. This is the section which is appearing in more and more Bills which come before this House. It is the foundation and, at the same time, the corner-stone and the keystone of bureaucracy, and it is a section which every democrat the world over should protest against wherever he sees it, because it is transferring the seat of government from Oireachtas Eireann to Government Buildings, and that is something to which I strenuously object.

I do not see why this Section 29 should be here. I think the Minister has got everything in the Bill that is necessary for the purposes of the Bill. If, at any time, anything arises that the Minister wants, he can get it. Speaking for myself, and I am sure I can speak for my colleagues also, in ten minutes we will give him any powers that may be needed in connection with this Bill; but I loathe this kind of thing. It is the instrument of bureaucracy. Here we have it stuck into this Bill and it is here, not because it is wanted, but because it is stuck into every other Bill that is put into this legislature and, apparently, into every other legislature in the world. And, of course, we are told that this is democracy! It is a mockery of democracy and of democratic institutions. We hear all sorts of talk about democratic representation and democratic institutions and yet the Government, in this Bill, seek to do this thing. So far as I am aware, and I think Deputy O'Donovan and Deputy Haslett, who know something about flax-growing, will agree with me, this Bill already contains all the power that the Minister requires. Why, in the name of common sense, is the Minister anxious to stick this section into the Bill to do things that they will never require to have done? If they did require power of that sort later, they could easily introduce another measure. I contend that under those regulations things could be done that we never intended. The Minister should turn his back on the tendency to do this thing. If he wants further legislation, let him come to the House and, if it is calculated to be of advantage to the industry, he will get it. We should not pass this duty on to anybody else. If we do we will be failing in the trust reposed in us by the people. We should not countenance these things being done by officials when we are paid to do them ourselves.

Dr. Ryan

If we were not permitted in our legislation to do certain things by regulation, the number of Bills coming before the Dáil would be greatly increased. A Bill like this would have to be introduced every year, because we might have a different price and a different area. I would have to state the price and the area, set out the records which should be kept, and submit all those other things that are prescribed and ordered from time to time. I am not sure if an annual Bill would be sufficient; it might be necessary to bring in two or three Bills during the year. I do not know if Deputies get enough to do in the House without adding to the pile of legislation.

We will confine ourselves on this occasion to a vigorous protest.

Sections 29 to 32, inclusive, and the Title, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendment. Report Stage ordered for Tuesday, 12th May.