Has the Minister consulted with the Minister for Local Government and Public Health about this Bill, or does he think this an opportune time to bring it in, seeing that an Act was passed at the instance of that Minister last year and is still hung up? The regulations prescribed under last year's Act have not been issued. If the Act was essential in the interests of public health, why was it not enforced and the appointed day fixed? Why has it not come into operation before this Bill is passed? As the Minister is aware, various grades of milk are being put on the market, some excellent, some fairly good, and some not fit for human consumption. The Minister in this Bill has not taken the trouble to define "milk" as it is defined in Northern Ireland and in Great Britain. Even the orders issued to local sanitary authorities by the Government are not being generally carried out, and local authorities that took precautions or incurred the expense of building up machinery in order to have good milk produced are getting no more consideration than those that did not do so. I believe I am right in saying that there are only three sanitary authorities in the Free State that have built up that organisation, the City of Dublin, the County Dublin, and the Borough of Dun Laoghaire. I am a member of two of these bodies. There is not another county health district in the Free State with a whole-time veterinary officer outside County Dublin. The report of the reorganisation commission for milk set up by the British Ministry of Agriculture, published in 1933, states, on page 146, "the appointment of a whole-time chief veterinary inspector by the council of each county and county borough is the irreducible minimum." That is backed up by the report of the medical officer of health for County Dublin, the medical officer of health of the City of Dublin, the chief veterinary officer of the City of Dublin, the chief veterinary officer of the County of Dublin, and the veterinary officer of Dun Laoghaire Borough. Speaking for the county health district of County Dublin, the cost to the ratepayers of the organisation alone, including a whole-time veterinary officer, four part-time veterinary officers as well as dairy and other inspectors, is about £3,000. The organisation of the production of milk in County Dublin is such that nobody can sell milk without being registered. When a man or woman registers, then the dairy premises are open to inspection and a great many regulations have to be complied with. These regulations are so exhaustive and so searching that under regulations of the Milk and Dairies Act of last year which are in draft, and which I have seen, we would not have to make one new regulation in County Dublin. We are carrying out the Dairies and Cowsheds Order, the Bovine and Tuberculosis Order, the Meat Order, and the Infectious Diseases of Animals Order.
We have not only created machinery to do all those things but they have not been done in any other county health district in the country. The machinery that we have already set up, therefore, is good enough to administer the Milk and Dairies Act of last year. I know that because I have compared an advance copy of the regulations with the regulations we have at the present time. In the County and City of Dublin and the Borough of Dun Laoghaire we produce milk for consumption. On the commercial end of it, we produce milk particularly for the City of Dublin. I have stated that the cost of the administrative machinery set up in the county alone— I have not asked for figures for the city or for Dun Laoghaire—is £3,000. That has to be raised on the rates but that is a small portion of the cost of clean milk production in the County of Dublin because, as I have already stated, the purveyors of milk must register, and the producers of milk for sale must register and then our inspection starts. There must be proper dairies; there must be proper cow-sheds built, to a specification of a high standard, with smooth walls, concreted up to a certain height. The sheds must be of a certain cubic content. There must be proper ventilation. The manure must be taken away, once the sheds are cleaned, a certain distance. Pigs must be segregated from cows. There must be proper drainage and a proper water supply. A wash basin and towel must be provided. It is an offence for a milker to milk two cows in succession without washing his hands in between. All this is done to produce clean milk. We are doing it in the areas I have mentioned but the Government that has imposed these conditions on the producers of milk in those areas has failed to see that its own Orders are carried out in any other part of the country. I challenge the Minister when he is replying to contradict that statement. He is Minister for Agriculture and I challenge him to say that in any other county area, except the county area of Dublin, is there a whole-time chief veterinary officer. I gave him an authority here that a whole-time veterinary inspector is the irreducible minimum in having these Orders carried out.
The milk brought into Dublin from a distance, as a very large quantity of milk is, has to be pasteurised, and here is what the same authority says on page 147 of this on pasteurisation:—
"Pasteurisation is not, and never can be, a substitute for clean production and the same care should, therefore, be exercised in the production of milk that is to be heat-treated as is required to be observed in the production of milk that is to be consumed in its raw condition."
What steps has the Minister taken to have milk of a uniform standard produced and sold in the City of Dublin? Why should we in County Dublin and in the City of Dublin be compelled by Government Orders to produce milk of a certain standard when the Government does not see that every other county is producing milk of a similar standard? If we must produce milk of that standard, what is the object? Is it to sell it to the children of Dublin? If milk of the standard which we are compelled by Government Orders to produce is necessary to the health of young and old in the City of Dublin, why does the Minister allow milk of a lower standard to come in? Does not this Bill, as far as it goes to define milk, define milk of a much inferior standard?
I shall give another illuminating authority on this matter. We hear very often that the North must come into the Free State. Now, here is the standard the North has set for milk. It is set out in "Leaflet No. 77, Government of Northern Ireland, Ministry for Agriculture, Milk and Milk Products Act (Northern Ireland), 1934, Licensing of milk producers and milk suppliers." They have graded their milk into four grades. One is Grade A, under which "cows have to be tuberculin tested by the double intradermal test at six monthly intervals by a veterinary officer of the Ministry." We do that in County Dublin, but it is not the Ministry's officer who does it but the board of health officer or the county council officer. Milk standards under that Grade A are: "maximum number of organisms per cubic centimetre, 100,000. Milk to be cooled on the farm and either bottled in sterilised bottles with green caps, clearly marked Grade A or sent to distributors in sealed sterilised churns similarly marked, must be sold to consumers in bottles marked Grade A." Grade B—"Cows to be clinically examined periodically by a veterinary officer of the Ministry and certified to be normal and healthy. Maximum number of organisms allowed, 300,000 per cubic centimetre. Milk to be cooled on the farm to at least 60 degrees and either bottled in sterilised bottles with brown caps marked Grade B or sent to distributor in sealed sterilised churns similarly marked, must be sold to consumers in bottles marked Grade B." We produce milk of that grade too. As regards Grade C, the cows are to be clinically examined periodically by a veterinary officer and certified to be normal and healthy. There are no bacterial standards but the milk is to be subjected to a test for cleanliness at intervals. Milk may be distributed to consumers in the ordinary way from churns and cans, but they must be clearly marked with the designation C in red letters. If distributed in bottles, the bottles to be sterilised; caps to be red in colour and marked Grade C. Except for minor details, we produce milk of that grade in County Dublin. That is the lowest grade which is allowed to be sold in the County or City of Dublin by Dublin milk producers. Why does the Minister for Agriculture or the Minister for Local Government and Public Health allow milk of a lower grade to be sold? Grade D is described as "Milk not sold under a Grade A, Grade B or Grade C licence. Grade D milk cannot be sold for consumption as liquid milk and must be disposed of on the farm or sold for manufacturing purposes. This will usually mean sale to a creamery." Milk which must be sold in the North only for manufacturing purposes is being dumped into the City of Dublin—milk that would not be allowed to be sold for human consumption in the Six Counties or in England. Here is an Order from the Ministry of Agriculture in Belfast. The date is the 29th July, 1935:—
"Milk and Milk Products Act (Northern Ireland), 1934:
"Sir, I am directed by the Minister of Agriculture to refer to sub-section (6) of Section 1 of the above-mentioned Act, which provides that milk shall not be sold or offered or exposed for sale for the purpose of human consumption unless it is milk of Grade A, Grade B or Grade C, and I am to state that a query has recently been addressed to the Ministry upon the question whether milk sold for use in the manufacture of foodstuffs for human consumption, i.e., ices, icecream, bread, confectionery, etc., and for use in cooking generally is for the purposes of this provision to be regarded as being sold for human consumption."
The effect of the Order is that the milk that is sold freely for human consumption in its raw liquid state in the City of Dublin will not be allowed to be sold for the making of icecream or bread or confectionery in the Six Counties or in England. Though I can speak with the authority of the veterinary services of the County Dublin, the City of Dublin and the Borough of Dun Laoghaire, that is not the point I want to feature. We have a Ministry of Public Health and it is the job of that Ministry to look after the public health.
I want to put the commercial and business view. We have carried out these Orders at considerable expense and we are producing the article. After we have been made to produce an article of a certain standard, the market for which we produce that article is going to be glutted with an inferior article—an article that, according to all the information we have at the present time, is unfit for human consumption. Is it not time that our Ministers sat up and took notice? I asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Local Government and Public Health to-day when regulations would be ready, circulated and put into operation under the Milk and Dairies Act of last year. I reminded him that there was a Milk Bill going through here. He said he knew nothing about that. I wonder if it is possible that the Minister for Agriculture brought in this Bill without knowing that the Minister for Local Government had put through that other Bill last year? That Bill is still hung up, for what reason I do not know. Does the Minister not realise that one measure hangs on the other and is he not aware that the people who have been producing milk for consumption in the City of Dublin, and who, for years, have been subject to very stringent regulations are being put out of business, not because they are inefficient but because they have been producing an article of a standard higher than that which their competitors were asked to produce? I suppose we shall be told by the Minister that the Dairies and Cowsheds Act, the Tuberculosis Order and other Orders are in force in other counties. I know of a case in which a veterinary officer was offered £50 to do the job in a large section of a county. He would not take the job on those conditions because he said he could not do the work properly.
In many counties, the work is being done in a slipshod way. We are paying £600 a year and travelling expenses to a full-time officer. For what? The rates have to pay that sum and the producers have to raise their sheds to a certain standard. When all that is done, their milk is classed only with milk produced without supervision, with the logical result that the production of milk in the areas I have mentioned is going down. I do not want to be misunderstood. No interest in the County of Dublin looks upon the milk market here as a preserve of the producers in either the city or county. We do no care where the milk is produced. We recognise that Dublin is the capital of Ireland and not merely the capital of County Dublin and that all Ireland should have a share in its market. What we want is simple justice, from the commercial point of view, and what would be in the interest of the public health — that no milk should be allowed to come into the City of Dublin that is not produced under as good hygienic conditions as the milk we are required to produce under the Orders of the Government.
A large quantity of milk comes in here from creameries. That milk is produced by suppliers to the creameries and is pasteurised at the creameries. But there is no supervision over the production of the milk. Even the Milk and Dairies Act of last year did not provide for that. I do not want to go into that matter now because I would be infringing the rules of your order, Sir, if I did. I only want to advert to that fact. The Minister has not taken that into account in this Bill. The sheds in which the cows are housed, the conditions under which the milking is carried on, the conditions in which the cans are cleaned, sterilised and stored are subject to no supervision.
I have here an order that came before the County Dublin Board of Health yesterday. We held a meeting to consider the report of the chief veterinary officer. We had before us the case of two milk producers in the County Dublin. Our veterinary officer went in and inspected the herds. These are comparatively small producers, comparatively poor men. One of them had a cow for which he paid £16 10s. 0d., a year ago. The other man had a cow for which he paid £15, less than a year ago. Our veterinary inspector tested these cows. They reacted to the test and he ordered their destruction. One man got £3 15s. 0d. for his cow and the other man got only 30/-. The man producing milk in the City or County of Dublin goes up to the market, buys cows, drives them into his land or into his yard. Such a man will find that the veterinary inspector will be after these cattle very soon. It is for that he is paid. He tests these cows and if they are found suffering from tuberculosis they are destroyed. There is a valuation made of the animals and what the owners get is a quarter of their valuation or 30/- whichever is the greater. For all intents and purposes they get nothing. They lose the animal. If the suppliers of milk to the creameries buy cows there is nobody to examine them. The owners do not incur that risk. They do not run the danger of the loss through the veterinary inspection. Veterinary examination and supervision of milk production in the City and County of Dublin have been imposed by our Government. But why does not our Government see that these orders are carried out in other places as well as in the City and County of Dublin? Deputies may take it that the orders are not carried out extravagantly in the County of Dublin area. They are only carried out up to the standard to satisfy the Ministries concerned. Why should the Ministry of Local Government and Public Health and the Ministry of Agriculture allow milk into the City of Dublin that is not certified to be of as good a standard and produced under equally clean conditions as the milk produced in the City and County of Dublin? The Minister asks us to vote money. I suppose Dublin City and County will have to put up its whack of that money to enable the people who produce milk in a primitive fashion to dump that milk into Dublin and compete with our milk which is produced in an up-to-date condition. Apart altogether from the public health point of view that is not reasonable or equitable.
I cannot understand at this time of day why any county or city should be saddled with the expenses of a county medical officer of health and all that follows in the train of a county medical officer of health if, as was stated to-day at a meeting of the Dublin Board of Health by our medical officer, we are permitting an article to be sold for human consumption that really may be little better than poison. Our veterinary officer mentioned that milk produced under dirty conditions and pasteurised is only camouflaged dirt. Under this Bill the Minister permits that. He is going to fix a maximum price for milk for consumption in the City of Dublin, but he is making no distinction in the price charged for milk fit for human consumption and milk that is admitted could not be fit for human consumption according to the standards set in Northern Ireland. I have amendments. I do not want to suggest what the Minister should put in the Bill. But I do say that it certainly is not equitable that people who produce a good article of food should be treated in the same way as regards price as those who do not.
Our medical officer stated that milk is the best and the most complete food for the human. He added, what we must all realise, that it is also the most complete food for the germs. In order that milk should be kept a complete healthy, wholesome food for the human we must protect it against the germ. The important thing is that the Minister is not taking precautions to protect that complete human food from the germs and that he allows that unprotected food to be dumped into the City of Dublin and sold as a good article of food. This City of Dublin has been for years building up an organisation to improve its milk supply and the quality of its milk. Yet in the case of milk produced outside its own area the inspectors of the City and County of Dublin have not the right of entry to the place where the milk is produced in order to supervise the conditions under which it is produced. Nobody but a national authority could properly supervise that.
My case is that the national authority, as represented by the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Local Government and Public Health, is endeavouring to undo the good work that has been done for generations, by successive Dublin Corporations, towards providing the City of Dublin with a wholesome milk supply. The Government is now permitting milk not produced under proper conditions and graded as unfit for human consumption to be dumped here. Some of this milk is unfit to make ices or to be used in making bread. But it is allowed in here to supplant an article that is produced in the City and County of Dublin under standard and up-to-date conditions. The Ministers are failing in their duty in permitting this. They are doing an injustice to the babies—the weakest section of the community. It is time, before irreparable damage is done, that the Ministers should sit up, take notice and take the necessary precautions that all the milk supplied to the citizens of Dublin will be produced under conditions at least as good as the conditions under which milk is produced in the City and County of Dublin.