In Committee on Finance. - Agricultural Produce (Cereals) Bill, 1936—Second Stage.

I move:—

"That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

This Bill, which is coming to the Dáil for Second Reading, contains a number of provisions, the principal one of which aims at giving the Minister power to purchase oats and barley. The reason why this power is being sought is that for the last three years there have been difficulties in getting oats and barley cleared at harvest time and it is found necessary to give the purchasing merchants a certain guarantee that if they would purchase oats and barley at a certain fixed price the Government would relieve them of any corn they might have on hands in the month of June following. For two years the merchants would appear to have made a certain profit, and this year it is possible there will be a small amount of barley and oats left at the end of June which it will be necessary for the Minister to purchase under the agreement made, but it is not likely that the loss this year will be very large. It is, however, not a satisfactory scheme and it is felt it would be better if the Minister were given power to purchase oats and barley if the necessity arises in future.

Another matter with which this amending Bill deals is a more rigid control of the sale of maize. In effect, the change made is that a maize miller who has a licence to mill maize will also require a licence to purchase maize, so that the amount he can purchase over any period may be controlled. It has been extremely difficult in some cases to find out whether or not certain maize millers are obeying the regulations and it is considered necessary to have this power in order to tighten up the regulations.

The Bill also deals with the question of a certain undertaking. When the first Cereals Bill was passed in 1933 provisions were contained in it to deal with home-grown wheat. It was provided that each flour miller would be obliged to purchase a certain percentage of his total quota for the year of home-grown wheat according to the amount of wheat grown within the country. It was thought at that time, the percentage being small—in the first year it was only 3½ per cent.—that it was unnecessary to compel millers who had their mills a distance from where the wheat was grown to purchase the wheat, and it was felt it would be more convenient if the millers in the wheat-growing areas would be permitted to mill more than their quota. It was arranged with the distant millers that the millers in the wheat-growing areas would undertake to mill the wheat for them. Now the percentage has been largely increased and there is no longer any necessity for that provision, because every miller, whether at a distance or not, is obliged to mill the amount prescribed, and it would make the measure more easy to administer if this undertaking provision is withdrawn. There is also a provision in this Bill giving power to prescribe different classes of maize meal mixture. It has been felt at times that if we had power to prescribe that all oats or barley should be incorporated at a particular period or in a particular district it would have been easier to deal with the grain situation, and powers are being sought in this Bill for that purpose.

Those are amongst the principal objects for which this Bill is brought in, but as the Bill is largely one of reference to previous legislation, I think it would be well to deal with some of the sections and to say a few words as to their meaning and necessity. The first seven sections do not call for any comment, as they are the usual sections in any such Bill. Section 8 makes it impossible in future for one person to be both a miller and a wheat dealer. There was the position in the past where one person could purchase wheat, and if asked to make a return by the Department or asked to account for the wheat by an inspector visiting his premises he could, as the occasion arose, say that it was for his flour mill or as a dealer that he had purchased it. That made it difficult in some cases to trace certain lots of wheat to their ultimate destination. It is considered much better that one person should not be allowed in future to be both a flour miller and a wheat dealer.

Section 9 deals with the question of registration. In the Principal Act it was laid down that the Minister could refuse a person a licence to commence business on maize milling on the one ground only, and that was that he considered that the district was being adequately supplied without the addition of that particular applicant. It has been found in practice that there are other reasons why it would be well at times to turn down an applicant, particularly, I may say, a person who has had a shady reputation on some of the other registers or on that register for making rather constant infringements of the regulations. Section 10 provides that in regard to the keeping of records maize millers will also keep a record of the amount of oat kernels that have been taken off the oats. That was omitted from the original Act and should obviously have been always included. Section 11 provides that where the Minister buys oats or barley as laid down at the end of the Bill under Part V he shall not be required to be registered as a merchant.

Is that the section ending with the words "or is the Minister"?

Dr. Ryan

That is right. Section 12 deals with this question of undertaking of which I have already spoken, that is that every miller in future will be obliged to mill the percentage as prescribed, and that he cannot get another miller to undertake to mill either all or part of that quantity. Section 13 prescribes that if a wheat miller buys wheat, and if during the month part of that wheat is transferred to another miller, it is the net amount that will be taken as his purchases. Under the legislation so far, technically a flour miller could buy, say, a thouhand barrels of wheat, put that down as his purchases for the month, re-sell 500 barrels, and still claim that he had purchased a thousand barrels under the Act. That was, of course, a defect which should be remedied. Section 13 also prescribes that the weight of the wheat will be taken as at the time of purchase. Some millers have contended that they have to buy wheat which has been dried down to a low percentage of moisture, and that they should be permitted to regard their purchase as if it had contained the amount of moisture that was there at harvest time. That has not been allowed, of course, and sub-section (2) is put in here to make the matter clear.

Section 14 deals with the moisture in offals. Complaints have been received by the Department that offals sometimes contain excessive moisture, and do not keep well. There is no power at present to deal with that situation, and this section is being inserted for that purpose. Section 15 deals with a contingency which has not yet arisen but is rather an obvious danger, and that is that a wheat dealer might possibly purchase a very large amount of wheat and hold it against the millers for a very high price knowing that the millers would have to fill their quota whatever they might have to pay for the wheat. This gives the Minister power to interfere and to oblige the dealer in such cases to sell at a reasonable price. Sections 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 are consequential on that. Section 22 deals with the restriction on the sale of maize by maize importers. Under sub-section (1) a maize importer cannot sell maize to a maize miller unless the maize miller produces a licence enabling him to purchase such maize. Sub-section (2) prevents the maize importer from selling maize to himself if he is a maize miller unless he has a licence to purchase as a maize miller.

Section 23 is the same as Section 22, except that it is in regard to dealings between maize millers. Section 24 deals with maize meal. Section 25 deals with the restriction on the purchase of maize except to an importer who has a licence as an importer to purchase maize. Section 26 deals with the conditions that may be attached to a maize purchase licence, and also with maize meal. Section 27 is reviving a provision that was in the original Act of 1933, under which the Minister may prescribe that whole oats must be used or that dehulled oats must be used, as the case may be. Section 28 largely re-enacts the provisions contained in Section 82, which is now being repealed, of the original Act of 1933. It enables the Minister to prescribe the maximum quantity of maize that may be incorporated in maize meal mixture. I should say that Part 6 of the Act of 1933 is being repealed, and that is why a number of these sections are being re-enacted.

Section 29 deals with the question of whether oats or barley or rye, or oats and barley, may be incorporated in the maize meal mixture. Deputies know that, up to this, when a percentage is prescribed, a miller is free to use any home-grown grain of the varieties that are in the Act—oats, barley, rye, wheat—that he can use those at his own discretion. Now, this section gives the Minister powers to prescribe oats alone, or oats and another home-grown grain, or another home-grown grain without oats; in order words, oats or barley or a mixture of both. Section 30 re-enacts Section 83 of the 1933 Act and deals with the sale of maize-meal mixture. There is nothing changed here, and neither is there anything changed in the next section, which was Section 84 of the original Act. Part 5 deals with the powers conferred on the Minister to purchase oats and barley, and Section 3 gives the Minister that power. Section 34 compels the Minister to pay the minimum price, at least if the minimum price is prescribed. Sections 35 and 36 are the usual sections which accompany such powers.

Then, the enactments which are repealed are, as I have already said, Part VI of the Agricultural Cereals Act of 1933, which was the part that dealt with the maize meal mixture, and as so many changes were being made in this Act and previous Acts, it was thought better to repeal that part entirely and retain the part that required to be retained and leave out the parts that required to be left out. Section 34 of the Act of 1934 is also being repealed. It dealt with the sale of maize which was irregularly acquired. That is now no longer necessary on account of some of the new sections contained in this Bill. Sub-section (4) and sub-section (5) of Section 6 of the Act of 1935 was the section which dealt with the undertaking of one wheat miller for another. That provision is now being removed entirely from the legislation and these two sub-sections, therefore, are being repealed.

Sir, we oppose the motion that this Bill be now read a Second Time. I think I am correct in saying that this is the fourth Cereals Bill that has been brought before this House. Picture the feelings of any unfortunate man who is trying to carry on a milling business in this country and who has to consult four Acts of Parliament and all the statutory Orders that have been made under them before he knows, from day to day, whether he is breaking the law. The logical conclusion of a series of enactments of this kind is to nationalise the whole milling industry, and I have not the slightest doubt that if this House sanctions a continuation of the follies that have been perpetrated by the present Minister for Agriculture in connection with cereals and the milling business since he came into office, nationalisation will certainly become inevitable, to the material loss of the grain growers of this country, of the feeders of this country, and of the consumers of flour of the country.

Now, when this cereals legislation was first introduced, we warned the Minister that the result of it would be to place a very great burden on the live-stock feeders of the country. A lot of Deputies in this House, of the more thickheaded variety, began to shout about the ranchers immediately. These gentlemen have never bothered to buy the Pig Tribunal report and read it. If they had bought it and read it, they would have found therein a map describing the distribution of pigs in this country and they would have found that the pig-producing areas of this country were West Cork, parts of Kerry, Clare, Mayo, parts of Galway, North Longford, Cavan, North Leitrim and North East Donegal. Now, I ask the House to bear those districts in mind and then to throw back their minds to the day on which the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance hung up in the hall at the foot of the Lobby stairs a map showing where unemployment, poverty and destitution was most prevalent in this country— showing where the holdings were smallest and most uneconomic—and those districts were West Cork, Kerry, Clare, Galway, Mayo, North Longford, Cavan and North-East Donegal. This cereals legislation now saddles the people of that area with a burden of 3/- per cwt. on every cwt. of maize meal mixture that they buy. If any benefits accrued from that, they would accrue to the farmers of Kilkenny, Leix, Offaly and Tipperary—Kildare, perhaps, but anyway to the richest counties in this country. However, if somebody were getting some benefit out of it, the money would pass around, it would circulate; and even though we felt that it was a hardship to subsidise the farmers of that area at the expense of the farmers in the poorest areas—and I think it is a very great hardship—even thinking that, if we felt that the farmers in the Midlands were getting a great benefit out of it, we might have some satisfaction and we would be able to feel that the money would circulate and that, perhaps, in the long run, the community generally would get some benefit out of it. Nothing of the kind has happened, however. The price of oats is nothing better than it was. The price of barley may be 1/- a barrel more, but very little more; and in order to get that, we are paying 3/- a cwt. on maize meal.

Now, maize meal is one of the constituents of a balanced ration for pigs, and home-grown cereals is another. Barley and maize meal are well-nigh interchangeable in any mixture that may be provided. Oats and maize meal are not interchangeable, and oats is no substitute for maize meal. In the Department's own pamphlet describing the ideal mixture for a pig, there is a special note of warning that not more than 25 per cent. of oats or oatmeal should be included in any mixed ration for the fattening of pigs. At this moment, however, 33? per cent. of dehulled oats is included in the maize meal mixture at the Minister's order and you cannot buy pure maize meal. Now, the Minister has made the calculation that taking all the foodstuffs used to fatten a pig from the weaning stage until it weighs I cwt., 1 qr. and 14 lbs. dead weight, about 6 cwt. of meal had to go to the mixture the pig would consume. If that calculation be true, on every pig fattened by farmers in West Cork they lose 18/- on foot of the maize meal mixture scheme, and admittedly those farmers are living on uneconomic holdings and have the greatest difficulty in getting along.

It is extremely difficult to discuss legislation of this kind without discussing other Statutes of this House which have relation to the legislation under consideration. Supposing the Minister comes back and says: "Yes, I admit it is a bit of a burden on pig feeders but, through the Pigs and Bacon Act, pig feeders get ample compensation for any contribution they make under the cereals legislation," knowing of course that nothing could be further from the truth, and that the unfortunate pig feeders are in the position that they get it fore and aft. They are robbed when they go to buy meal and robbed again when they bring a pig to the factory. If the matter is raised by way of Parliamentary Question we are told that the Minister has handed over the administration of live pig marketing and bacon marketing to the Pigs and Bacon Boards, and that he has no responsibility for these boards. But it is under the powers conferred on these boards by Acts of this House that farmers can get 63/- per cwt. for a pig weighing 1 cwt. 14 lbs. dead weight, when the price is fixed at 63/-, but if it weighs 1 cwt. 13 lbs. he is paid at the rate of 48/-. I saw a farmer going to a factory three days ago with five pigs. For one weighing 1¼ cwt. 2 lbs. he got 63/-; for others weighing 1 cwt. 13 lbs., 1 cwt. 12lbs., 1 cwt. 9 lbs. and 1 cwt. 7 or 8 lbs., after they had been killed and eviscerated, because they were two or three pounds below the figure fixed by the board, he was paid at the rate of 48/-. I have no hesitation in saying that these four pigs were as good or better than the pigs for which he received 63/-. He had to take the money and go home. There was no remedy. The bacon manufacturer was in a position to say: "There is no use asking me to exercise discretion in your case. There are rules laid down by the Marketing Board and I have no power to pay you any more. I would break the law if I did." I say that that man in rearing pigs was robbed of 15/- on each pig under the cereals legislation, and when he brought them to the factory he was robbed of at least 15/- more on each so that from that unfortunate man £6 was taken by codology representing the administration of this cereals business and the pig marketing business.

God knows how the farmers of this country hold their patience. It is a source of astonishment to me. Just imagine buying a bonham last February and the owner looking forward to the day it was sold as a pig to get household articles, and then having to go home with just enough in his pocket to pay for the feeding stufls, and four more bonhams, with four months' hard work gone for nothing, and no remedy. These are the people who are going to be saddled with this Bill in order to make the screw tighter than before. We were told by the Minister when this legislation was passed that he could not by any known chemical tests ascertain what percentage of barley or ground oats was contained in the maize meal mixture. He said that was perfectly easy to-day and that he had a whole string of samples in the Department. It was with amazement that they discovered to their horror that they could not ascertain how much home-grown grain was contained in it. Everyone could tell them that there were maize meal millers grinding practically pure maize and charging £7 16s. 0d. for what cost £4 14s. 0d. The wise gentleman in Merrion Street could not make head or tail of it. This Bill is supposed to remedy that position and I wish them luck. The maize meal mixture scheme is a rotten scheme, rotten root and branch. It is extravagant, improvident, futile, ineffective and a hardship on those least able to bear it. It is a legislative absurdity to have grain grown in Kilkenny, carted to Sligo, milled there, and sold in Queen's County, and that is what the Minister proposes to be in a position to do in this Bill. If he has to get a certain quantity of home-grown grain he has to buy it where he can get it. The miller often finds that he cannot get enough in the neighbourhood but, as he has to get it somewhere, it sometimes happens that it is carted to the North of Ireland, milled there and shipped back to the parish in which it was grown, the only people to get anything out of it being the railway company.

The Minister says there will be a surplus of oats after the harvest this year. Upon my word one would want the patience of Job to listen to the Minister. If there is going to be a surplus of oats why has the price of oatmeal gone up £3 a ton in the last month? The Minister is flopping and floundering about in the morass he made in the last three months. He allowed the millers because they have dehulling machinery to use oats almost exclusively in the maize meal. Millers boycotted barley and put in oats, with the result that at the end of the season, in June and July, oatmeal had gone to £16 10s. 0d. and the 10 stone that cost 14/- now costs £1, but the farmer who produced the oats does not get 1d. more, because the mills and maltsters' houses in the midlands had stocks of oats. The intelligent Minister we have will be promptly coming to the House asking us to vote money to repair the losses made on the deal. Job's dunghill was nothing to this country. Now we come to bread. What has the Minister done for us with regard to wheat? Futility is pitiable but hypocrisy is disgusting. The Bread (Regulation of Prices) Bill, 1936, has been produced for the benefit of the Dublin municipal elections. Fianna Fáil candidates going around, whether at the corner of Fenian Street, York Street, or the Gloucester Diamond will assure the people that they are going to regulate the price of bread and are going to deal with people who charge too much. Not one farthing has gone on the price of bread that the Minister for Agriculture is not directly responsible for. This legislation that we are considering has increased the price of flour to the people by 11/- a sack and that represents 1½d. on the quartern loaf, and that 1½d. has been put on with the connivance and with the consent of the Minister. It is fraudulent and shameless to pretend that somebody else was responsible for the situation at present obtaining. Who is benefiting by the growing of wheat? Nobody. I know that there are many farmers who have grown wheat and have made money out of it, but I say that those who have made most out of wheat have benefited least.

I know men who, when this business began—some of them the finest farmers in this country—made up their minds that the Minister for Agriculture was so futile and helpless a person that the whole agricultural industry would come to ruin under his administration. They were perfectly right and, having taken time by the forelock, they bought machinery, went in and ploughed up every acre of land they had, planted it in wheat and sold the wheat in the course of the three splendid harvests which we have had during the last three years at the subsidised price and put the money in the bank. Being prudent and good farmers, they roped in so much every year for the depreciation of their land. They made up their minds that farming as an industry was destroyed in this country, and that any person who had invested his money in land would have to mind the land if he was to get out of it. Accordingly they went in and proceeded to take the heart out of the land through subsidised wheat and to put the money into their banks. When the time comes when that land has no heart left in it, they will sell the land for whatever they can get for it or they will go and leave the land. They will have got out of it, by way of subsidised wheat, the price of the land. In that way they will disembarrass themselves of something which, before the Minister came into office, was a valuable asset but which, since he came in, is a liability for anybody who has the misfortune to be left with it.

Take the vast majority of the remaining farmers who are growing wheat. In the past they were growing some other cereal or maybe some other root crop, or they were making the land pay in some other branch of agriculture that was profitable before the Minister came into office. I do not blame these men who went in for growing wheat in order to get the subsidised price. Who could blame them? I do blame the Minister who is so short-sighted as to burden the bread consumers of this country with a sum not less than £1,500,000 per annum in order to grow wheat where wheat was not wanted, in order to force the farmers to indulge in an agricultural economy that is going to bring nothing but disaster and misfortune to this country. Remember when this cereals legislation was first brought in, we were told by Senator Connolly, who was one of the spokesman of the Government in the plan of campaign the Government had embarked upon, that it was intended to pull down in 100 days the live-stock industry that it had taken 100 years to build up and that what we were going to substitute for that was wheat, beet, and peat—and tobacco as a sop to Deputy O'Reilly. Tobacco has gone out of favour and we are not free to refer to beet and peat. We do know that wheat was to be the remaining leg upon which agriculture was to stand.

Who will say after the experience of the crop this year that the agricultural industry of this country can securely rest on this foundation? Suppose we had 600,000 acres of wheat last winter and spring to sow, and one-third or one-half of it failed, what would happen to agriculture in this country? Suppose we get an autumn similar to the spring we had, that we get damp foggy weather in the months of August and September, what will happen to the 600,000 acres of wheat and to the unfortunate agricultural community who are depending on that for their income? I say that agriculture is an industry that can be carried on in this country without subsidies or doles from anybody if the Government would do its duty and secure for the farmers the markets to which they are entitled. I say, furthermore, that agriculture could be the source from which we could derive that surplus income which would make it possible for us to provide a higher and a better standard of living for everybody in this country. I say that under this cereals legislation and the general Fianna Fáil policy, the farmers are being turned into paupers. Deputy Mrs. Concannon deplores an analogy being drawn between free beef and the free milk that is being distributed by the Fianna Fáil Government——

Not under this Bill.

No, Sir, but as a result of this Bill. Let me draw this analogy. Deputy Mrs. Concannon dislikes hearing the free beef and the free milk being compared to the free beef of the soupers. The beef distributed by the soupers was the soupers' bribe. Now, I want to draw this analogy.

If the Chair rules that a reference to free beef is not in order, then it is not in order.

I should have said that in consequence of this Bill it is in order, but if you, Sir, take a different view, I am not prepared to question the matter. I must only leave it to Deputy Mrs. Concannon to visualise the close connection between the cereals legislation and that other intervention of the Government in our daily lives. I look forward to another opportunity of explaining to her more fully the connection between the two. I do want to emphasise that this cereals legislation, so far as I can see, has benefited nobody in any part of the country. It has put a burden on the backs of those sections of the agricultural community, least able to bear it, of £3 per ton on the feeding stuffs which they use for their pigs and their fowl. It has put a tax of 1½d. on the quartern loaf which is principally paid by the people of the cities. I ask Deputies to remember that food statistics the world over prove in every country that the poorer the individual is, the larger bread bulks in his diet. The more affluent a family is the more they turn to cakes, biscuits and substitutes which they can afford. The simpler a person's diet, the poorer the person's household, the more he depends on bread as the principal comestible. On every loaf of bread going into every tenement house in this city, there is a tax imposed by the Minister for Agriculture of 1½d. Every time a child from a tenement room goes down to a baker's counter to buy two loaves, it might as well pay for its bread at the counter and, as it comes out, pay 3d. to a tax collector at the door. I said once that so long as that situation obtains I want no wheat on my land.

I want to make this clear. The agricultural labourers of this country are earning 20/- per week, many of them less. The farmers of this country have been reduced to destitution. I sympathise with many of them who have had to learn to grow wheat in order to get money to pay for the urgent necessities required for their families. As to the farmer, who can afford to drag on without growing it, I sympathise with him when he says: "I will not grow any crop which means that when I give my agricultural labourer his 20/- at the end of the week, and, when he goes to buy six loaves, I shall have to take 9d. out of his pound to put into my pocket." It is the agricultural labourer who is earning 20/- a week, it is the tenement dweller living on the dole, it is the person who is at his wits' end to know where to-morrow's meal is coming from, who is paying every penny of the expense of this Bill. I think I know the agricultural community of this country well, and I know that they do not want to earn their living in that way. They are prepared to earn their living, to work hard for it and give value for the money they receive. They do not want to become parasites. So long as they are left to hoe their own row they will never ask anyone to contribute to their upkeep. But there, again, they are being slowly manoeuvred into the position of being pensioners and dolees, dependent on the Party of Fianna Fáil. The greatest crime against the agricultural population has been the policy that has degraded them to the position of being dependent upon free milk, free beef and doles from the Government. That is the greatest crime committed against this country. It makes one long for the day when we can form a Government under which the farmer will be able to hold up his head and feel that he and his family are upright, hard-working people and not parasites upon the poorer sections of the community.

We were opposed to the original Bill, and we criticised it in its different Stages in this House. Being opposed to the original Bill, I do not think we have any inducement to vote for this addendum. As Deputy Dillon pointed out, the series of Acts passed in the last few years have made it more and more difficult for the livestock farmers to carry on their industry and particularly those engaged in the pig-rearing industry. The cost of food for pigs has gone up by anything from 3/- to 4/- per cwt.; the average is 3/-, but in some cases it is more than that. Each of these difficulties is to run contemporary with this Bill which is to make regulations as to the buying and selling of pigs. Deputy Dillon gave the case of someone of whom he has knowledge in connection with the reduction of prices because of selling either over or under the weight. There is a combination amongst the bacon factories to extract from the pockets of the farmers every possible shilling, and by extracting I mean paying the farmers the least possible amount. There is a tendency to do away with the competition that exists amongst the factories. I could give particulars of a large breeder of pigs who lost a considerable amount of money in the rearing of pigs. His loss was £20 or £30 on one lot because some of them were over or under by a few pounds in weight.

Is this Bill going to make it any easier for any fattener of live stock? There is not one section in it that will help the ordinary small farmer or labourer who rears pigs. On the contrary it is going to add to his difficulties and expenditure. The Bill teems with sections making the miller arbiter if he incurs extra expense. There are various activities also that are to be restricted, some of them perhaps rightly so. All these restrictions will make business more difficult for the miller. If the miller is going to lose something he will pass on his loss either to the person from whom he purchases or the person to whom he sells —either to the grower or to the consumer. The miller will take care that any little expenditure he incurs under this Bill will be passed on. All the time we have regulations which are going to mean an extra 11/- or 12/- on the sack of flour which will have to be borne by the poor.

I do not want to spend time going over a Bill that I have not a shred of intention of supporting in any of its sections. But there is one section which is going to make it obligatory on the maize miller to show the amount of kernels he has on hand. I would like a section that would compel him to show the amount of hulls he has on hands. Some of us get the hulls and some again get the kernels. If the Minister made it obligatory on some millers to keep the amount of hulls there might be some sense from the farmers' point of view. There is not one solitary sentence in this Bill from beginning to end that is going to ease the situation one bit for the farmers. The tendency is all in the other direction. It would be idle for me to spend any time in discussing this Bill. It is no more advantage to the farmers than the original Bill was. In fact, it imposes additional charges no matter how the Minister may attempt to explain it away. The whole principle of this cereal legislation is unpopular with farmers in most of the live-stock feeding counties. The sooner the whole thing is scrapped instead of amended the better it will be for the great bulk of the farmers in this State.

As Deputy Dillon has pointed out, this is the fourth Cereals Bill which has been introduced in order to try to do something which cannot be done. I venture to suggest that if the Minister wants to put in force the regulations under this Bill he will have to introduce another Bill. If legislation could remedy everything—the farmers' position, the millers' position and the position of the country in general— there would be no ills in the world to-day. The Minister is trying to do by legislation what should be left to the ordinary business man's intelligence to do as best he can. I understand it is the intention of the Minister to require the miller to buy all his oats. I think it is only extra folly to be discussing legislation of that kind. We do not know where it is leading. Deputy Dillon spoke a good deal about the good farmer and the growing of wheat. I know a great Fianna Fáil advocate of wheat-growing in my county. He trots up and down the county advocating the growing of wheat and beet. He has grown it and he is giving a present of it to the Government now, while they are planting him down in Meath, where no wheat was ever grown and where he will not grow it. It is no wonder that farmers like that should advocate the growing of wheat—people who have no intention of staying on their holdings. I have had a little experience of the Government's legislation and I know what it tends to. It would not be relevant for me to relate my experience on this Bill but I know that the Government's legislation tends to restrict the individual, while a certain amount of dishonesty creeps into transactions. Under this cereals legislation I heard of licences being taken from millers and of Government inspectors by the score travelling up and down the country inspecting this mixture. I know that there is not much use in trying to induce the small farmers who, generally speaking, were the best farmers, to feed stock, whether pigs, young cattle or anything else, because they will tell you, and it is well known, that feeding stuffs are too dear.

The Minister may fix a price for barley or oats. What is either of these but raw material. I suppose the farmer who gets a good price for his barley is delighted but, at the same time. it is rather unfair that another farmer should be expected to buy back that grain and not get a decent price for his product. That is the kernel of the whole situation. If there was a levelling up and if the finished article, whether bacon, beef or poultry, was fetching a price commensurate with the cost of production, the Minister would have no trouble. If the Minister thinks that, by giving a good price for oats or barley, he can meet the situation, it is all very well. I understand that a certain quantity of these crops will be left on the Minister's hands. I could not be expected, and no farmer could be expected, to analyse all the legislation and regulations in connection even with cereals. There is one regulation to-day; to-morrow, it is cancelled and a new order or something like that is issued. No ordinary people could be expected to be conversant with all these regulations. I shall not prolong this discussion, because I think it is idle to point out the difficulties arising out of the Government's legislation. As in the case of other Bills, the Minister, with his majority, will simply make this Bill law. I noticed while the Minister was speaking how few Fianna Fáil Deputies who are conversant with the farming business were in the House. I noticed Deputy Tom Kelly and Deputy Mrs. Concannon while a few more Deputies have now come in.

Very few were here to deal with a matter of very great importance to the farming community.

Mr. Kelly

We were here all the time.

I know you were, but it would be the duty of some of the Fianna Fáil farmer-Deputies to be here.

Mr. Kelly

Do you suggest that we should not be here?

I am delighted that you are here. You are an adornment to this House at all times, no matter what legislation happens to be before the House. I can only express my disapproval of this Bill and state that I intend to vote against it on every occasion.

My views are already known with regard to this policy of the Minister. I represent a constituency which purchases a greater amount of feeding stuffs than any other constituency in the Saorstát and I must again protest against the Minister's policy. Passing through Ballingeary last Sunday—Ballingeary is in the Gaeltacht and is one of the poor parts of the country—I was informed that, at a meeting of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour supporters held recently, a resolution was passed protesting against the policy of the Minister with regard to this admixture. I do not know if the Minister has, so far, received that resolution. I have not received it but I expect it at any moment.

A year or two ago the Fianna Fáil supporters in that area were misled. They got it into their heads, when Senator Connolly went down there, that he was going to provide the Gaeltacht part of the district with meal at a reduced price. They hoped to have meal supplied to them at 5/- a sack less than it could be supplied in other parts of the country. Of course, I was not one of those people who were carried away with an idea like that. It would be a joke to think that the like of that could be done, because as a farmer's son said to me: "If that policy were given effect, we would be out with ropes every night dragging sacks of meal across the Border." The people of that area very soon discovered that they were not going to get that advantage. They now realise that the whole scheme with regard to the admixture has imposed a very great burden upon them. Some of the small farmers in that constituency whose annuity might not be more than £5 would, in normal times, use half a ton of meal in a week. Taking four sacks at 5/- a sack, that would be a burden of £1 on these unfortunate people.

Three shillings a cwt.

I do not want to exaggerate.

The figure is 3/- a cwt.

I have often asked to have a commission set up to inquire into this matter. There is no use in Deputies opposite smiling about it. Deputy Murphy comes from the very area which is suffering and knows the position. I took a figure of 5/- a sack and I say that that would be a loss of £1 per week to these people owing to the policy of the Minister. I challenge the Minister to contradict that statement. As has been pointed out by other speakers, this policy imposes such a burden upon the poor people living amongst the rocks and the furze that it is a crime. I think the Government should set up the commission I have been demanding in this House and find out the manner in which these people manage to carry on. That would be an education to people in other parts of the country. The whole policy of the Government has at last been found out by the people; it has been found out even by their own supporters who are crying out every day in the week against it because of the burdens imposed on them. Their own supporters are also crying out with regard to the wheat policy. Everything in connection with the wheat policy has imposed a burden on those people, people who cannot in any way grow even one-half acre of wheat because of the quality of their land. These people live on holdings the bulk of which has been reclaimed by themselves or their fathers out of bogs and mountains. Such land is unsuitable for wheat-growing. The people of this country consume 3,000,000 sacks of flour per annum. The Government policy on wheat and flour has imposed at least a burden of 10/- per sack of flour on the consumers. That means that a tax of £1,500,000 a year is placed on the backs of the people of this country. What do the people get in return?

What is the total of the additional employment given through flour-milling and the wheat policy? That is a question that should be reopened at once. When the Tariff Commission some years ago investigated the case made for putting a tariff on imported flour they made a calculation and reported that if all the flour consumed here were milled here only 153 extra hands would be put into permanent employment in addition to the people already on temporary employment. Deputy Mulcahy told the House that there were 481 additional people in employment as a result of the wheat policy of the Government. Very well. Say we put it at 500 people. Suppose you pay a pension of £3 a week to these 500 people it would mean a total sum of from £75,000 to £77,000 per annum. Anyone who looks at those figures would see that it would pay the Government to burn those flour mills, give pensions to all the people employed in them and save the people of the country this heavy burden of £1,500,000 a year. Is there any business man who in his own business would, in order to gain say £77,000 a year, spend £1,500,000 a year? I have always treated public business and Government business as if they were my own business. I have never departed from that principle. Anybody who would depart from it is not fit to represent the people of this country. I have given the House my views on these things because I could not let the occasion pass without again offering my protest against the policy of the Minister in this matter.

Is Deputy Victory going to tell us anything about the people who are bearing the burden of this tax?

The Minister is aware that in the operation of the scheme to which this Bill relates there are in some cases at least small mill-owners whose licences have been withdrawn by the Government. The number of such cases is not very large. I do not want to exaggerate the number. Some cases have been brought to the Minister's notice. These have arisen to a certain extent through ignorance or let us say neglect to comply with the law. The thing was not wilful. Now the passage into law of this Bill provides the Minister with an opportunity of restoring those licences. For one reason I am glad that the Minister is obtaining in this measure powers to purchase supplies. I am glad of that for perhaps a different reason from those advocated in other quarters. I am aware of the fact in regard to the operation of the admixture scheme that certain hardships have very definitely arisen from small millers. These hardships arise because these men find themselves from time to time in the grip of the large mill-owners, people who are able to store in large supplies, and who can extract from the small mill-owners the price that they desire whenever they find the small men in difficulties. I hope the Minister will bear that matter in mind and that he will be able through the operation of the powers he has got to see that the person in a small way in business is not squeezed out by more powerful financial interests, by the strong combinations that grip him at the present time. I do think that in certain areas there has been considerable hardship in regard to the operation of the admixture scheme. Deputy O'Leary has referred to one area and there are other areas of which I know. I do not want to make any pronouncement on this matter now but I think the Minister will find in his Department material enough to give him an opportunity of testing this problem. There is very little land fit for tillage in some areas that I have in mind. I suggest to the Minister that before this Bill is operated it would be advisable for him to consider the needs of special areas such as those of Ballingeary referred to by Deputy O'Leary and similar districts. I regard this measure as a reasonable attempt by the Minister to deal with the difficulties that arise. There must be difficulties and difficulties very often arise that are not obvious until a measure is put into operation. These difficulties should be remedied when they arise. My criticism of the measure has reference to what I have seen as to the defects arising out of previous measures. I hope the Minister will go carefully into the matter and that he will receive, as I have always found him ready to receive and deal with objections that are reasonably made.

Dr. Ryan

I do not know if a Minister was ever so agreeably disappointed as I have been because there has not been a single point made against this Bill. Some Deputies talked about the maize meal admixture measure and other Acts. Whether they had read this Bill and were able to find fault with it I do not know. What I do know is that they made no reference to this Bill.

Cad a bhi an Ceann Comhairle ag deanamh?

Dr. Ryan

I say that if Deputies read the Bill they were unable to find fault with it. If Deputies did not read it they tried to make speeches in ignorance of the provisions of the Bill and talked about something else. It is quite true that this is the fourth Bill of the kind that has been brought in.

And the Minister will have another one.

Dr. Ryan

Yes. Otherwise I would be prepared to abolish all the previous Acts and to bring in one Bill and to consolidate all these matters into one Act. Deputy Dillon is incorrigible. I am afraid he is a man who refuses to learn anything about farming though he appears to be marked out by his Party as my immediate successor. But the Deputy is extremely ignorant of farming. I told him over and over again that a good farmer would not feed a pig on the maize mixture alone.

Hear, hear.

Dr. Ryan

He ought to remember that and in future when making calculations to keep the fact in mind. The Deputy says that it takes 6 cwt. of the maize mixture to feed a pig until it reaches 11 stone weight.

With other meals through them.

The Minister said it himself.

Dr. Ryan

I did not.

I will get for the Minister the quotation where he said it himself.

Dr. Ryan

I said 5 cwt. should finish a pig. Some do better and others worse. Deputy Dillon is doing worse. He said it took 6 cwt. It was on the figure of 6 cwt. that he made his calculation as to the amount of the maize mixture. That is why I say that he ought to learn the fundamentals of farming before he talks about this matter. There is no man who knows anything about farming who would feed his pigs on maize alone. It would take 7 cwt. of maize to finish a pig.

The Minister would not tell them that in Ballingeary.

Dr. Ryan

It would not take that much at all with a proper ration. If a farmer is making up a mixture he knows he must put a certain amount of carbohydrates into it. Our farmers have got very intelligent in regard to these matters in the last 25 or 30 years. They know they must put in a certain amount of carbohydrates, fats and nitrogen. The usual thing they do is to find out the price of maize meal, pollard and bran.

What is the difference between carbohydrates and fats?

Dr. Ryan

It is so long since I did chemistry that I could not say. The carbohydrates can be converted into fats in a physiological way. But pigs require 60 per cent. carbohydrates and a percentage of fats, perhaps 5 or 6 per cent.—generally the pigs get too much fats—and a certain amount of nitrogen. I do not know if the Ceann Comhairle would allow me to give a long lecture on the subject for the benefit of Deputy Dillon. I should like very much to do so, but I am afraid it would be in vain, because he would get up the next day and say the same thing again. He talked of 6 cwt. of maize meal mixture being required and about the price of the mixture. He multiplied that by six and said the pig was costing 18/- more than it would cost otherwise.

I fed 160 pigs last year.

Dr. Ryan

I am not surprised that the Deputy lost upon them because he does not know how to feed pigs. It does not cost 3/- per cwt. more. If the Deputy looks up the Liverpool prices he will see what the price is for maize meal.

I will give the Minister a quotation for Liverpool, and a quotation for Sligo, and I will tell him the price at which I am selling it at Ballaghadereen.

Dr. Ryan

I do not know what profit the Deputy makes.

3d. per cwt.

Dr. Ryan

That is not too much. If the Deputy went in to buy a feed for a pig——

Will the Minister allow us to get the quotation from Deputy Dillon?

Dr. Ryan

Do not try to put me off this. It is most important that he should know this. An ordinary intelligent farmer who goes in to buy meal for a mixture for a pig inquires the price of maize meal mixture and of pollard and bran. These are the things available at the moment. Then he orders a certain amount of pollard and bran as well as maize meal and meat meal in order to make a good mixture. Taking the mixture here as compared with Liverpool, there is nothing like 3/- per cwt. of a difference, because bran and pollard are cheaper than they would be if there were no such scheme as this. Before we brought in this scheme, pollard and bran were 15/- per ton dearer here than in Liverpool, because the price here was regulated by the Liverpool price, plus freight. Now our price is much lower than the Liverpool price, instead of being 15/- higher. Under our scheme for the destruction of old cows, the price of meat meal is £5 or £6 per ton less than in Liverpool, or in any part of England.

Taking the ordinary balanced ration that an intelligent farmer would give to his pigs, I say that in all probability the mixture is not more than about 10/- per ton dearer or thereabouts. The last time I spoke on this matter, I gave the price of pollard here and in Liverpool and the price of maize meal mixture and of meat meal here and in Liverpool. At that time the difference was 10/- per ton. I do not know whether it has varied very much in the meantime, but I take the chance of saying that there is not more than £1 in the difference. That is why the farmers are not troubled so much as Deputies think over this matter. They are not troubled over these things, because they have intelligence and know how to balance the ration. They make up the whole thing and they see that they can get meat meal, pollard and bran much cheaper, and if they pay a little more for the maize meal the whole mixture is not more than it would be, as they say, if Cumann na nGaedheal came back.

Then Deputy Dillon talked about pigs and told of a farmer who brought in pigs and got 63/- per cwt. for one and 48/- per cwt. for others. The reason why these different prices are fixed is that, according to the bacon curers, with a certain weight of side and a certain depth of fat they can get the ideal combination, and they give a higher price for such a pig sold deadweight to the factory. If the side is too light, if it is too lean, or if it has soft fat upon it or several other things specified in the orders which deal with prices, the bacon is not as valuable. I think that the Bacon Board would not be doing their duty if they did not try to induce farmers to produce the best type of pig, the bacon from which will get the highest price. I am quite sure that even Deputy Dillon, if he had thought over this, would agree with me that the curers ought to try to induce farmers to produce the best possible type of pig to give the best possible type of bacon in order that we may get the highest price.

Not if the whole pig is 1 lb. below a cwt.

Dr. Ryan

There is something more than 1 lb.

Dr. Ryan

There is, because there is class as well as grade; as well as weight, the depth of fat comes in. The two points must be taken in conjunction in order to arrive at the highest and the lowest price.

If the pig is 1 lb. below 1 cwt. it drops from 63/- to 48/-, no matter what fat is on it.

Dr. Ryan

It is not always 63/-.

If a pig is 1 lb. too light, it drops 15/- per cwt., although admittedly the quality is the same as the 63/- pig.

Dr. Ryan

If a pig is the proper weight, that is within the limits laid down as first-class for weight, and within the limits laid down as first-class for depth of fat, it gets the highest price. If, as Deputy Dillon says, it is below a certain weight, it cannot go up, it is altogether down.

Is it not a fact that the heavy pig——

If the Minister does not give way the Deputy may not ask a question.

I am sure he will give way. I am not going to take up his time very much. Is it not a fact that the heavy pig is as valuable in the British market as the best quality pig here?

Dr. Ryan

By no means. If the Deputy will look up the prices in, say, "The Grocer," he will find that there is a certain weight of bacon which gets the top price, and not these heavy pigs at all. I had better try to get through this. I think it would be too big a task to try to enlighten Deputies opposite on every point.

You are enlightening us. You are the best schoolmaster we ever had.

Dr. Ryan

Deputy Dillon said that in spite of legislation, the price of oats is no higher than it was in 1931. I do not remember what the price was in 1931. Possibly he is right, because there were fluctuations up and down in 1931 and back to 1927. There has been a steady price since 1932. We can say this, at least, that it is much higher than it would be if there were no regulation.

Question.

Dr. Ryan

There has been a huge attempt at smuggling oats across the Border for the last three or four years. That attempt has been going on to bring in oats from the Six Counties. A certain amount has been brought in.

(Interruptions.)

Deputies should not take advantage of the fact that it is 10.20 p.m. to keep up a fire of interruptions.

Dr. Ryan

It is the same with barley. If the Deputy looks up the price of imported feeding barley in England during the last two or three years, he will find that it has been coming in at between 10/- and 11/- per barrel.

That was the price of feeding barley coming in. If we did not introduce our cereals legislation to keep out the imported barley and try to maintain a price for our own farmers, the price would now be down almost to that of the imported price which is between 10/- and 11/- per barrel. The Deputy objects to barley that is grown in Kilkenny being brought to Sligo to be ground and then sold, as he says, in the Queen's County. I do not think that is nearly so objectionable as having maize that was grown in the Argentine being brought to Sligo to be ground and sold in the Queen's County. From the point of view of distance the objection surely is not nearly so great as Kilkenny is within a reasonable distance of Sligo. The Deputy became indignant because, he said, I did not compel the millers to use barley instead of oats during the year, and now that the oats is all gone, the millers having used it up, it is getting dear and people who want oats from the oat millers have, as he says, to pay too much for it. That is one of the things that I am going to remedy under this Bill. I am going to compel millers to use oats if the Order says so, and to use barley if the Order says so. In that way the situation which the Deputy says has arisen here cannot occur again. I would like if the Deputy would go back and look up some of the questions that he addressed to me during last October and November when he talked about the futility—he also used a number of the high-falutin phrases that we are so accustomed to hear from him—of absorbing all the barley under the scheme in operation. He said it could not be done: that it could never be done.

Is not the Minister smothered with barley at the present time?

Dr. Ryan

I want to tell the Deputy that it can be done and will be done. That was the kind of foolish talk we had from the Deputy, but in spite of his prophecy all the barley will be used this year and all the oats as well.

Has not the Minister a surplus of barley on his hands at the moment?

Dr. Ryan

Yes, until the end of August when it will be used, and used, I am sure, to the disappointment of the Deputy. The Deputy is in a difficulty now, but I cannot help him if I prove that he has not been a good prophet. In the speeches that the Deputy made here last October and November he talked, as I have said, about the futility of the Minister's schemes, and so on. I am consoled by the fact that, when a Deputy wants to be as scurrilous as Deputy Dillon, he has not any great argument to support his case, so that he can now have all the comfort that he wants from his scurrility.

I did not mean to be scurrilous.

Dr. Ryan

Does not the Deputy think that to refer to people in this House as blockheads is descending to scurrility?

I did not use that expression.

Dr. Ryan

I am afraid the Deputy did. I would advise him to "wait and see." The Deputy also said that wheat growing is madness. That was a strange statement coming from a Deputy who belongs to a Party which has wheat growing as one of the planks in its programme. The Deputy is quite prepared to give soup in the form of wheat growing to districts down in Leinster, even though he does not believe in the wheat-growing policy, but he is prepared to do that in order to get an extra few votes for his Party. That shows the depths to which that Party has descended. There was also talk about dearer bread, but the fact is that the cost of living is not any higher now than it was in 1931. I do not know whether or not that falls in with the Deputy's statement about dearer bread.

Is bread dearer now than it was in 1931?

Dr. Ryan

I am doubtful if it is, but this I can say, that the cost-of-living figure for food, which I had an opportunity of seeing recently, is lower now than it was in 1931.

Is bread dearer here than it is in the Six Counties?

Dr. Ryan

I am talking about the cost-of-living figure.

Then, why has the Minister introduced this Bill?

Dr. Ryan

This Bill has nothing to do with the cost-of-living figure.

The Minister should introduce a Bill to bring down the price of bread.

Dr. Ryan

I was sorry to hear Deputy Curran make some very exaggerated statements, because I think he is an honest Deputy, even though he is sitting on the opposite side of the House. He said that we make one regulation to-day and rescind it to-morrow. The Deputy was guilty of terrible exaggeration in saying that. We made a regulation last December on the maize meal mixture and it has not yet been changed.

What is this Bill for then?

Dr. Ryan

It is true that it gives us power to make regulations, but we do not act as the Deputy said that we do. making regulations one day and rescinding them the next. I would advise the Deputy to be a little bit more careful in future before he makes exaggerated statements of that kind. Deputy O'Leary said that when the Party opposite were sitting on these benches they refused to put a tariff on flour because, as he said, the tariff would mean that only 150 extra hands would get employment.

I said that was the opinion that was expressed by the Tariff Commission in their report.

Dr. Ryan

Now, we have the statement from Deputy Mulcahy that it did have the effect of giving employment to 500 additional hands. I was sitting on the opposite benches at that time, and I remember distinctly describing the statement that the tariff would only give employment to an additional 150 hands as nonsense.

The Minister had better conclude as soon as possible because we intend dividing the House on the Second Reading of this Bill.

Dr. Ryan

I think that the point that Deputy Murphy made about the small millers who are off the register can be considered. I would like to indicate now that on the Committee Stage of the Bill I propose moving one amendment dealing with the scheme which is under consideration for the provision of seed-wheat for spring sowing. The amendment will be to the effect that millers who adopt the scheme, if they keep the home-grown wheat for seed and sell it as seed, will be permitted to replace it by imported wheat.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 46; Níl, 22.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Corbett, Edmond.
  • Corish, Richard.
  • Crowley, Fred Hugh.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • Daly, Denis.
  • De Valera, Eamon
  • Doherty, Hugh.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Geoghegan, James.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harrish, Thomas.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Hogan, Patrick (Clare).
  • Kehoe, Patrick.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Maguire, Conor Alexander.
  • Moane, Edward.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • Murphy, Timothy Joseph.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C.

Níl

  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Brennan, Michael.
  • Broderick, William Joseph.
  • Burke, James Michael.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John Aloysius.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Davitt, Robert Emmet.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Esmonde, Sir Osmond Grattan.
  • Keating, John.
  • McFadden, Michael Og.
  • Morrisroe, James.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
  • O'Leary, Daniel.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Rice, Vincent.
  • Rowlette, Robert James.
  • Wall, Nicholas.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Smith and Moylan: Níl, Deputies Bennett and O'Leary.
Question declared carried.
Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, 30th June.
The Dáil adjourned at 10.35 p.m. until Wednesday, 24th June, at 3 p.m.