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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 18 May 1937

Vol. 67 No. 5

Committee on Finance. - Pigs and Bacon Bill, 1937—Financial Resolution (Resumed).

With reference to this Bill which is before the House, I wish to say that there appears to be a good deal of dissatisfaction down the country in connection with this question of the small curers. Anything that will interfere with the small curers throughout the country will, to my mind, affect the pig-breeding industry to a great extent. Most of those small curers in the industry began from the very foundation and built up a fairly good business, which is a great asset to themselves and more especially to the producers in the neighbourhood where they are operating. Any interference with them would be a move in the wrong direction. Anything that would tend towards giving over to the bigger factories anything in the way of a monopoly would have an adverse effect on the industry. For some time past there has been a good deal of dissatisfaction with the operations of the Pigs Marketing Board. The prices fixed for the pigs in the factory and payable to the producer are not as high as they should be and the prices charged for the bacon to the consumer are very much higher than they should be. I have some experience of the prices paid in the factory and the prices charged to the consumer. The difference between the two prices is too considerable. Any move the Minister makes should, I think, be in the direction of keeping down the price charged to the consumer and, at the same time, giving to the producer a price which pays somewhat more than the cost of production. Pig breeding is always of a character which moves up and down. When there is a low price for three or four months, you have a falling off in young stock. After that, you have a scarcity. I do think that a better price could be paid to the producer and, at the same time, that the price to the consumer might not be as high as it is. Something could be done in that direction.

Anything that would tend to interfere with the small curers would be a bad thing. These curers are giving a certain amount of employment and, at the same time, are taking pigs from farmers for which they are giving as good prices as some of the big factories and, at times, better prices. In my opinion, as a director of one of the factories, a better price could be paid to the producer while the price to the consumer might not be as high as it is. The 12/- or 14/- deducted from the price of pigs to compensate for the bacon sent to the English market is taking a considerable amount out of the producer's pocket. While you have a continuance of that sort of thing, you will have dissatisfaction amongst the curers and producers. A resolution was passed in the factory with which I am associated 12 months ago asking that a better price be given to the producers. A lesser sum than that made by some of the factories would be sufficient to pay a fair amount of interest on the capital invested in these undertakings. A resolution was also passed in the factory I speak of that the price fixed by the Pigs Marketing Board should be the minimum price and that the factories should be allowed to give a higher price than that if they so desired. I do not know if there was any reply to these resolutions. I did not hear any more about the matter. There has been a good deal of dissatisfaction about the whole business. The factories must have done very well during the past 12 months. Taking into account the cost of feeding stuffs and the cost of production, the price paid to the producer does not leave him any profit. If anything is to be done, it should be done in the direction of getting better prices for the producer and, at the same time, allowing for the sale to the consumer at a fair price. The Minister should not interfere with the small curers. They are giving a great deal of employment and they are serving the community by taking pigs from the producers and supplying their customers.

There is a curer in the constituency which I represent who employs about 25 hands and cures about 250 pigs per week. This man is under the impression that he will be deprived of his business. I should like to have some assurance from the Minister that this man's business will not be interfered with and that the workers will not be deprived of their livelihood and the factory prevented from rendering a useful service to the local community. As Deputy Holohan pointed out, it is a great advantage to a village to have a factory because, when the people come in with their pigs, they spend a certain amount of money there. This is the only industry in Hacketstown, and as it affords employment to 25 men, I ask the Minister to give an assurance that this man will be allowed to carry on his business and that the employment of his staff will not be interrupted.

I find this measure, as I found the original Act, extremely complicated. People down the country have the same experience. That is, perhaps, unavoidable, but it does not tend to allay a feeling of unrest and uneasiness in connection with this matter. I am sorry that the Minister does not appear to have information on some vital matters in connection with this Bill. If he has that information, he did not take the House fully into his confidence on a number of points. We have a clause in the Bill to obviate a certain abuse. When the Minister was explaining that particular clause, he did not commit himself to the statement that the abuse actually existed. He said the accusation had been made, and contented himself with that. If legislation is proposed to deal with an alleged abuse there must be some solid foundation for the belief that the abuse exists. I cannot believe that a Minister would seriously put before the House, particularly in an amending Bill, a clause to deal with an abuse if he had not made inquiries and found that that abuse actually existed, apart from mere speculation.

The House would have been in a much better position to discuss this whole matter if an answer had been given to the pertinent question put by Deputy Dillon on the last day on the question of prices and profits. We had the statement made by the Minister, at the very close of Friday's debate, that he had no information as to what profits were being made by the big factories. That information is absolutely vital when we are regulating a trade of this kind, but the Minister was unable to help the House in the slightest degree. He said he had not the information. I accept that, but I think it is very strange he has not information of that kind, seeing that the board and the various firms have been operating under the Principal Act for the last two years. That information is vital to a proper and satisfactory discussion of this measure. It is regrettable that the Minister is not in a position to give that information to the House, because very serious charges were made on the last day by people who know a great deal more about the business than I do regarding the extent of the profits. If those charges be true, something more is required than is to be found in this Bill. Nobody can go to the country without being struck with the dissatisfaction that exists amongst the producers, the ordinary farmers and the people in the small towns regarding the operation of the Principal Act. When an amendment is proposed, or when a new Act comes in, I think that dissatisfaction must be taken into account to see whether this Bill will do anything to remedy it. I cannot see that it will.

It may have been a mere coincidence of time, but Deputy Haslett pointed out on the last day that in his county, before the operation of the Act, there was a glut of pigs, but that now there is a scarcity in Monaghan. Is that not what will inevitably result, if there is any tittle of foundation, and I am afraid there is a great deal of foundation for it, in the complaint that you hear practically all over the country, amongst the farmers and in the towns, namely, that pig producing has ceased to be profitable? It may occasionally be profitable and just slightly over production costs may be got for the farmer, but that occurs not sufficiently often and the amount of the surplus is not sufficiently great to induce them to continue in pig production. They point out to me that the cost of feeding stuffs is such at the moment that they cannot possibly produce. The Bill does not make any attempt to cope with a situation of that kind and yet, if we are considering the future of pig production here, surely it is a factor which is absolutely vital and which should have been dealt with in the Bill.

Secondly, there is the plaint—and this is very widespread, I can assure the Minister, and I am not now imputing anything more than ordinary commercial ability to any of the curers— that the farmer never knows what he is going to get for his pig until the pig has been slaughtered. He is completely, he says, at the mercy of the curer and he does not know how the pig will be graded—whether it will be first grade, or so on, downwards— until the pig is dead. He points out that that is rather too late for him to find out, whereas under the older system which these Acts replace, he at least knew what he was getting for the pig. That creates in his mind something like that suspicion which did prevail, and for which the Minister has provided, in connection with the dummy buyers who are being sent around, that he is not even getting a fair deal, apart altogether from the cost of production.

There is the other factor which is of considerable importance and which has been brought before the attention of the Minister on several occasions— the destruction of the pig markets in the smaller towns. I have heard complaints again and again all over my county in that respect and I see nothing in this Bill to remedy that; rather do I see that under this Bill there will be an intensification of the evil results that follow from that. The Minister, I think, on one occasion, pointed out that, after all, if the farmer brought his pig a long distance into the market and got a better price, he would have more to spend in the local town. That, of course, does not hold because he will not go into the local towns on the fair days because the fair days will not exist. Pig fairs in many of these places have practically ceased to exist because pig buyers have to a large extent gone out of business as a result of the attempt to regulate the trade, and it is impossible to believe that either the consumers or the producers have benefited much by these attempts at regulation, one of which we are now dealing with.

The Minister says there is nothing in the Bill to cause any anxiety to a Deputy like Deputy Everett, or anybody who is interested in the maintenance of the minor curers. There is nothing in the Bill that absolutely wipes them out of existence. That is perfectly true; but the Bill certainly, to put it at its lowest, envisages their disappearance from business. It provides means that will quickly get them out of business. It does not actually legislate them out of business, but it does provide means that will soon put an end to their business. Undoubtedly they will be quickly gobbled up by the larger men, and how far that process will be continued between the larger people themselves, only the future can tell. Undoubtedly, whatever the Minister may pretend to the contrary, there is a danger of monopolies being set up and gradually more and more concentration of this business. As I say, the public, facing a situation of that kind, has not the necessary information to know whether that is likely to be good or bad for the trade of the country, to know whether there is any foundation for the very serious charges by people who know about the matter, that enormous profits are being made, and that, whereas the public pays very high for bacon, the farmer gets a very low price for his pig. Both the producer and the consumer suffer, and yet those who come in between are in a position to make very comfortable profits. The Minister has neglected to get information on that point, and, therefore, is not in a position to put that information before the House.

He pointed out the last day in his opening statement that undoubtedly one of the consequences of the wiping out of the minor curer would be that the pigs would be brought in, and, therefore, could be cured at less cost in the bigger centres. That is obviously quite in keeping with the general line of the Bill. The Bill does not need to legislate these minor curers out of existence, if it provides the means by which they will get out of existence. Compensation certainly must be payable to them, but here it would look as if compensation will be paid to them at the expense of the public and not at the expense of the person who is buying the business. These monopolies will be fostered, so far as the wiping out of these tends towards centralisation, at the expense of the public. How can it be prevented, taking human nature as it is? That undoubtedly will intensify the damage at present being done to the small towns, and remember that, even from the point of view of farming, these smaller towns are of considerable importance and they should not be so easily and so readily damaged as the Minister apparently wishes to damage them. The people in those smaller towns are very often the people who help the farmers to keep on in troubled times, and, to a certain extent, the shopkeeper is a kind of banker to the farmer who does not charge the usual banking rate of interest. They are apparently to be hit without any advertence to the fact that ultimately it will come back on the farmer himself. Certainly the immediate advantages to the farmer are not apparent.

I have met many complaints in the country about the policy of the Government, but I have met universal complaint throughout the country so far as this is concerned. It may be that the farmers do not know their business. They ask what can they do and say that this is a most complicated business. They bring in their pig, and the first they are told about the grade of the pig is when it is killed. Before that they are given no information and are in no position to know whether they will take it home or not. They do not know the price. That is how they put it to me, and I presume they are speaking from experience. If that is playing into the hands of monopolies, as it seems to be, especially international monopolies, there is everything to be said against the Bill, and I think the House ought to reject it.

I agree with Deputy O'Sullivan that this is a very complicated Bill and rather difficult to understand. We will probably only gather its full implications when it is going through the Committee Stage. Deputy O'Sullivan, however, in respect of probably the most essential point of the Bill, did not help us to understand what his objection is. He said, with regard to the position of the minor curers, that, while the Bill does not legislate them out of existence, it paved the way for their extinction, their absorption, or whatever it might be called, but he did not give us any description of how that is to come about. He did not point to the clauses in the Bill that will have that effect, and I for one have not been enabled to see how that is to happen by any remarks that came from Deputy O'Sullivan. It may be that I have not got the imagination necessary. That is why I wish Deputy O'Sullivan had more or less sketched the evolution which he thinks will take place when the Bill passes, so that we can see the danger that he apprehends more vividly than we do at present. If we could see that danger we would be entirely in sympathy, because I do not know of any Deputy who wants to see the minor curers abolished; who does not want to see them established on a very permanent and secure basis.

I have this conflicting fact to bear in mind—that the one or two minor curers with whom I happen to be in contact have no such apprehension with regard to this matter. They are not at all alarmed, and in one case the curer is actually very perturbed by the absurd criticism that appeared in the papers recently following a meeting of the minor curers' organisation. So far as I know, these minor curers have no difficulties at present in getting the full supply of pigs they require. It is true that they have certain grievances; that they have not got the advantages the bigger curers have; that they must go out to the fairs to purchase their pigs, and have not the advantage of getting the exact grades the bigger curers have, whose supplies are chiefly brought directly to the factory. Such grievances as they have are largely administrative. It could hardly be expected that the Pigs Marketing Board or the Bacon Marketing Board would have reached perfection in their administration in so short a time as two years.

There is one very satisfactory feature in the Bill, in my opinion, and that is, that compensation is to be provided for the unregistered minor curers. These unfortunate people were certainly threatened with a hard fate—that a business which had been, to a large extent, at all events, a livelihood to them, was definitely being legislated out of existence and there was no compensation proposed heretofore. Now, at all events, they have the satisfaction of knowing that they have to be compensated for the loss of their business, and I am very glad that that provision has been inserted in the Bill.

Probably the correct place to discuss the question as to whether the provision with regard to sending pigs to the factory, in case the producer is not satisfied that he is getting the correct price in the fair, is in Committee. At all events, it is an attempt to solve the difficulty. Of course, it undoubtedly has been the case up to the present that producers have been victimised by an arrangement for fictitious prices on the part of certain factories. One statement frequently made when the Bill was being discussed on Friday last struck me as being in happy contrast with the gravity of the speeches, particularly the speech of Deputy Dillon, forecasting serious consequences from the passage of the Bill. I mean the statement that, if the country was to be saved from a monopoly and the bad effects of a ring and so on, it must look to a revival and a re-establishment of the pig dealers. Even the pig dealers themselves would be amused at that proposal, because their reputation, to say the least, is not that of being opposed to a ring. They have been very frequently involved in rings and I claim that even they themselves would not pretend to such a reputation as that. If the bulk of the producers are only offered that protection, I do not know that they will feel particularly happy; certainly that protection would not be a very sound reliance for the future.

Deputy Dillon, of course, had the great advantage when speaking on this Bill that he, apparently, had a great deal of inside information. In his excitement over the Bill I think that he did not make his vision of what is to happen when the Bill is passed entirely clear. He was full of lurid prophecies as to the future of the bacon industry, as to the certainty of an unscrupulous monopoly, and so on; but I certainly did not find his statements or prophecies at all as convincing as would be necessary to induce me to vote against this Bill. I do not see anything in this Bill that would increase the hold of Messrs. Henry Denny and Son or any other curer. I rather think, as a matter of fact, that, in so far as it gives increased protection for the minor curers, it will not be welcome to them.

When the proposal to give power to purchase the registered minor curers is criticised, I ask Deputies to realise what the position would be if that provision were not there. We might have a minor curer unable to find the capital necessary to equip himself and provide all the qualifications necessary under the Bill for complete registration, so that he would have to go out of existence and throw up a valuable business without any compensation. Nobody would welcome such a proposal as that. For those who claim to be friends of the minor curers, to criticise a proposal of that kind seems to me very difficult to understand. With regard to the point on which Deputy Dillon laid such tremendous emphasis—that the compensation is to be provided out of levies on the pig producers—I do not read that into the Bill. I do not gather that that is what must happen. So far as I can understand the Bill, the funds are to be provided by the Bacon Marketing Board by a direct levy on the bacon factories.

Where would they get it?

Possibly they would get it out of their profits. To call that a levy from pig producers seems to me far-fetched. The Bill is one which should be entitled to more serious and impartial consideration than has been given to it. When Deputy O'Sullivan talks, for instance, about the dissatisfaction in the country over prices, which he says is general and widespread, I think he is going too far in his generalisation. I confess that I have not heard that dissatisfaction expressed. On the contrary, I have heard the remark made many times that the prices for pigs last autumn were probably the best paid for ten years. That is not necessarily conclusive that the profits made by the pig producers have been on a very high level. But, at all events, it is not consistent with the allegation that prices have been unsatisfactory since the Bacon Marketing Board and the Pigs Marketing Board were established. The remarks I have heard made indicated satisfaction with the work of these boards—that they had already, in the short period of their existence, so arranged prices that, at the time of the year when prices are very rarely satisfactory, you had a very substantial increase in prices. Indeed prices had exceeded prices paid for several years previously. It seems to me that Deputy Dillon has given a lead to his Party because of his personal contact with certain bacon producers and the experience thus gained. The Deputy has allowed his emotion carry him away, and his Party have taken their cue from him in this particular instance. What are the provisions of this Bill that are objected to? I put that question to them. This is a matter affecting important interests in the country, and I submit there should have been a clearer understanding as to the objections to the proposals. Before the Opposition commit themselves to the very serious step of voting against a Bill like this, a Bill that is necessary in very many ways— necessary because of several of its provisions—they should first be sure really that there is a case against it, and in the next place that the things that are necessary to be done can be done in some better manner. They certainly have not made to my satisfaction a case against the Bill. As an instance of the misunderstanding that may arise, Deputy Everett has just referred to the case of a curer who, he says, is anxious as to the provisions of the Bill. Now I have a letter here from that curer to say that he is in no way anxious and that he has no sympathy with the criticisms made against the Bill. From that it is clear that we should be on our guard against these statements. There are people who find a difficulty in understanding this Bill, but these people, at the same time, are ready to jump to conclusions with regard to it. Personally I think a very strong case has been made out for the passing of the Bill.

To my mind this amending Bill does not improve the present position of the pig industry. When the original Bill was going through this House, I might remind the Minister that very serious opposition was raised to it. The main purpose or reason of that opposition was that the Bill, in fact, provided more for the curers than for the producers. I think our experiences of the operation of the Act have borne out that contention.

Does Deputy Bennett say there was opposition to the Bill— is it not a fact that it was an agreed Bill?

There was opposition in the debate as to the details of the Bill.

Dr. Ryan

We did not hear any opposition to it in the House. If the Opposition were against the Bill that opposition must have been amongst themselves. We did not hear it anyway.

The Minister will hear it now.

Dr. Ryan

Oh, yes, we are hearing it to-day all right.

As a matter of fact, I said in this House that in substance and in fact the Bill was a curers' Bill. I repeat that now. I said that while every effort was made to control prices in other matters, there was no provision made to ensure an economic price for the producer. One of the amendments which was gone into most fully in the original debate was the amendment to make some provision for an economic price for the producer. That amendment was defeated. I remember—and I have looked up the Official Reports this morning—that when that amendment was being debated here the Minister himself intervened and he said that I said that he was protecting the curers. Perhaps I did say it. I repeat now that he was in fact protecting the curers. At the time I told the Minister that there was nothing in the Bill to say that the curer was getting an uneconomic price, and the retort was that there was nothing in the Bill to say that he was getting an economic price. Deputy Dillon then asked: "Did not the curers fix the price of bacon?" That is the rub. They did fix it and they do fix it, and they ensure that they at least of all the people handling the pig from the day it is born to the day it is taken off the pan would be sure of a profit.

In anything I say I do not want to be in any way personal to any individual in the curing industry or to any curing company. These people understand their own business and they know how to take care of it. I do not blame them for taking the best care they can of it. The original Bill was purely and simply a curers' Bill, and this Bill is no improvement on that. Practically all the machinery operating the original Act was in the hands of the curers. They control the production, sales and everything else. They are an all-powerful body. There was a provision in the original Act to eliminate gradually the minor curers. The minor curers were to be put out of business gradually.

The only help this amendment of the Act gives in that matter is that we are going to hasten the day of the elimination; elimination is to come sooner than it was intended under the Principal Act. The Act and this amending Bill are all in favour of the monopolies and when the eliminations are made the position of the monopolist will be all-powerful. One definite result of the Bill—and in fact it is the only result of the Bill—is that the curers will gain and the producers lose. The curers have made more profits since the operations commenced under the original Act than they did at any previous period, with the possible exception of the period of the War. There is no question about that for it is practically admitted all round that the curers have made very definite profits and on a scale that they never made before. The Minister tells us that the Prices Commission are going to inquire into the matter of profits. I expect they will. But the Prices Commission when they inquire into the operations of the curers will operate in the same way as they did when they inquired into the prices of other commodities. First of all they will find out the price of the article, then the amount paid in wages and labour, and the profit for the curer. The profits the curers make will have to be very big before there will be any question about it by the Prices Commission. That has been the general way in which these matters have been conducted. What we in this House and on these benches are arguing for is that there should be some attempt made to investigate agricultural profits. In the original Bill we made an attempt to have some provision inserted so that the producer would be ensured an economic price for his pig. We were unsuccessful. I would like to see in this particular connection the Price Commission investigating the profits that may be made; is there any commission going to be set up to investigate the position of the producer?

It ought to be possible to have some commission set up to investigate all the circumstances of the pig producer and find out whether he is losing or gaining. If he is losing, some effort should be made to change the existing circumstances and put him in a position of making some profit. This Bill does not do it. When the original Act was passed the curers formed themselves into a sort of trust. Whatever individual opposition they hitherto gave one another, it disappeared. I know several firms who were at that time actively opposed in business and, the moment the Bill was passed, they shook hands and acted in common and so arranged matters that they were able to reap a golden harvest. This Bill accentuated the position. Whatever little opposition there was in the pig-curing industry, it is going to be eliminated by this Bill. I do not say that that is definitely enshrined in the Bill, but you are certainly hastening the day when you will eliminate competition. You are advancing the day of the destruction of the minor curers. If there were a section in the Bill making certain the continuance of the operation of minor curers, I would willingly support it. I would certainly not support anything that tends to eliminate the minor curers. Opposition is the life of trade; the more opposition we have for any trade, the better, and the more small curers we have competing against big curers the better for the country and for the producer.

Who is going to pay compensation? The Minister is going to compensate those who are affected and I am in favour of compensating people driven out of business by Government action. If the Government acts as the driving out body, then the Government should compensate those who are driven out. I submit that the producer, the farmer, should not be asked to compensate them. If the minor curers are going to be compensated, their profits will be taken into account when arranging the compensation and it is here provided that directly or indirectly the farmer has to provide the compensation. He will have to pay compensation on the assumption that the minor curers were still buying pigs. The farmer will be paying the people who ordinarily would be taking his pigs and at the same time he will be enabling the larger curer, who has wiped out the smaller curer, to make a big profit.

I do not see any reason why the minor curer should not be allowed to continue his business if he is prepared to take his chance. I know there are some who desire to carry on the business that they have been carrying on for years. As Deputy Moore said, the Committee Stage will possibly be the proper place to go into the Bill in detail. I am as much opposed to this Bill as I was to the original Act. I do not think it will help in the solution of the difficulties of the pig producers. I am rather in agreement with Deputy Dillon that this Bill will eventually lead to the nationalisation of the industry. I see a danger of that. I am as opposed to the nationalisation of industry as any Deputy could possibly be. I hope we will never come to it in this State.

Because I think it is an unsound principle. Business should be left to the business people and the less Government interference there is the better. If the only solution is this, that you are going to have a private monopoly with powers such as the original Act and this Bill give them, then of the two evils I would prefer nationalisation to a monopoly that would be given such powers as have been given to the curers by legislation. I believe the best interests of the country would be served by dropping both Bills and letting the pig industry find its own level. We have discussed the manufacturing end. The people who manufacture the farmers' products into the finished article are being provided for. There was never a sound attempt made to provide a satisfactory price for the man who matters, the producer. Until there is something done in that direction, it is useless to be considering Bills which will not be any definite help to the farmer. I expect we all will have something to say on the Committee Stage.

Listening to Deputy Moore, one would imagine that all the rumours which Deputy O'Sullivan spoke about in connection with this Bill were unfounded. I read the report of a meeting of the Kilkenny Corporation last week, and a resolution was passed unanimously there protesting against the provisions of this Bill. They declared its effect would be to wipe out the minor curers. I am sorry Deputy Pattison is not in the House. He associated himself very strongly with the resolution. I do not presume to be a marvel at understanding legislation, but I could not help being astonished when I heard Deputy Moore and others on the Fianna Fáil Benches talking about how ridiculous it was to suggest that this Bill was going to have certain effects. I believe that statements made by public bodies like the Kilkenny Corporation cannot be unfounded.

A short time ago we had Deputy Holohan speaking here. He is a director of a big bacon factory, and he said that the amount of money taken by the bacon curers was more than reasonable. I think the Minister will not deny that. I remember very well when the Minister was piloting the Cattle Bill through the Dáil, he said the only thing the farmers could look for as regards a reasonable price was a certain amount of competition. He meant competition between one buyer and another, and I agree with him that that is the only thing to ensure a good price when you present your cattle in a fair. If there are several buyers the farmer has a good idea that he can get the market value for his animals because of the competition. Statements have been made here about the people. I do not believe that they are any worse than anybody else. In connection with pigs, and indeed in connection with other matters, I would like to see open competition, but this Bill or the original Act does not provide that. We all know that, so far as the local pig fairs are concerned, at the present time they are practically nonexistent. We also know that farmers who rear pigs do not know what they are going to get for them when they have them ready for the market. As I have said, I am not an expert on these matters. I imagine that the Minister's idea in bringing forward this Bill is to try to secure that the price of bacon will bear some relation to the price which the farmer gets for his pig. I propose to read for the House a short quotation from an English farmers' paper. It is headed "A Shilling's Worth of Bacon." It goes on to say:—

"A shilling passed over the grocer's bacon counter to-day will, on the average, buy 13½ ounces of rasher bacon. This is shown by figures produced by the research department of the Bacon Development Board from the Ministry of Labour cost-of-living returns."

That quotation is from last week's issue of the paper. I wonder what housewife in this country could buy 13½ ounces of rashers for a shilling? The price here to-day is 1/8, 1/9 or 1/6. It should be the Minister's job to see that the price which the consumer here has to pay for bacon is more in keeping with what the producer gets for his pig.

That is the whole grumble at the present time about the bacon and pig industry in this country. The price that people are being compelled to pay for bacon bears no relation to what the producer gets for his pigs. A very explicit statement will be required from the Minister on this Bill if he is to allay the fears that have been expressed by people in the country in connection with it. The discrepancy at the present time between what the farmer or the producer gets for his pigs and what the consumer has to pay for bacon is altogether too big. The quotation which I have given from that English farmers' paper should set people thinking. The statements in it cannot be contradicted. The English people are able to buy rashers at practically a 1/- per lb., and it is to the English market that we are sending our bacon. Our people here have to pay almost twice as much for a lb. of rashers.

Deputy Professor O'Sullivan was very slow to criticise the curers, and he made no constructive proposition so far as producers are concerned. Therefore, his statements were not very helpful. Several Deputies on the opposite benches followed the same line. They said that the present Act, as well as this amending Bill, were measures intended to benefit the curers. In my opinion, the answer of the people in the country to that type of criticism is this—that prices have improved over a period. Better and more uniform prices are now being paid for bacon than during any corresponding period when the Opposition were in office. That is the answer that can be made to them in connection with this amending measure. I suggest that some minor adjustments should be made in this amending Bill concerning the bacon factories in Kerry. Our committee of agriculture asked the Minister some 12 months ago if it would be possible to have some independent inspections carried out on behalf of producers. What they asked was that some inspector, nominated by the Department or by farmers and sanctioned by the Minister, would be engaged to supervise the checking of the weighing in the factory. I make the same suggestion in connection with this Bill. Another point put forward was that bacon which was bought by the curers as grade B from producers was sold by them to retailers as grade A bacon. These are matters that, in my opinion, should easily lend themselves to adjustment. It is important that the rate of profit as between the producers and the factory should be a fair one.

There is also the question of centralisation. Deputy O'Sullivan's statement was to the effect that slowly but surely the whole industry was being centralised. In my opinion there is something in that. The tendency at the moment is to have the trade concentrated in one important town in each county. That is the case in the County Kerry. Unless that tendency is checked, it is bound to have a detrimental effect on smaller towns, towns which in the past were important marketing centres in the pig industry. What I would suggest to the Minister in connection with that is that under this amending Bill the payment of a minimum price should be provided for, allowing the curers to pay a greater price as the occasion demanded. That would help to create competition all round and would help to make the system as perfect as possible. I know that the Minister is doing his utmost to relieve a long-felt want. Pig rings and other combines were effectively dealt with under the existing measure, but now, in order to make the position more up to date and more perfect, this amending Bill is brought in. It will have the effect of bringing all areas into line with the general system.

Cuirim ós comhair an Rialtais go mba chóir dóibh glaca le iarrtais ó Chumainn Chó-Oibriú monarchain beaga bagúin do chur ar bun.

We had an unexpectedly long debate on this amending Bill. When introducing it, I explained that there were seven or eight points in connection with which we wished to amend the existing legislation. In my innocence I thought that the Opposition would take the same view of this legislation as they took of the 1935 measure, namely, that we should all combine to do the best we possibly could for the bacon industry. At the time that the 1935 Bill was going through the Dáil a special committee was set up to examine it. That committee, it is true, sat in private, but anybody who cares to look up the records will see that throughout the whole of the Committee Stage there was not a single Party vote taken. It is true, of course, that there were several divisions on points that were raised in committee, but in no instance during the whole progress of that Bill was there a Party vote taken. One would imagine now, listening to the Party opposite, with, I admit, an eye on the electorate, that they did not approve of that measure.

Has the Minister not an eye on the electorate?

Dr. Ryan

Of course, I have, but I want to try to do something for the industry as well. The Deputies opposite have made a number of political speeches on this measure addressed to dealers and others— people whom they let down, according to themselves, in 1935. The point is that if those people were let down in that Bill, then the Opposition let them down as well as everybody else. Now they are trying to go back on what they did in 1935, and are pretending to dealers and others in this country that they were their friends all the time.

The debate, as I have said, has lasted a long time on this Bill. The criticism of it from the Opposition Benches was of the most futile kind. Not a single clause from it was quoted in all the speeches made from the opposite side. The Deputies opposite have tried to pretend that there are things in this Bill against producers, dealers and minor curers that are not there at all. I take it for granted, of course, that quite a number of the Deputies opposite take their views of a Bill such as this from reports of meetings and interviews in the Press, and so on, and that they do not read the Bill itself. That seems to be their usual practice. It would seem as if they take their viewpoint from some meeting of the minor curers, from meetings of corporations, or from a newspaper interview. I am quite sure, at least, that, if they had actually read the Bill, they would have been ashamed of most of the criticisms that were put forward. Most of these criticisms were absolutely futile, because there was not a single word in any of the criticisms that were put forward by the Opposition, that was applicable to this Bill. Any criticisms that might have been applicable to this particular Bill could have been applied to the Act of 1935—an Act, which, I repeat, was agreed to by the whole Dáil—by every Party in this House—and now, in order to retrieve their position, and in the hope that they may be able to help a class of people from whom they expect to get votes in the coming election, they pretend to be against that Bill.

Some suggestions were made by various Deputies on the opposite side. Suggestions were made by Deputy Dillon, which were, I would say, as puerile as could come from any responsible Deputy—if one could use the word "responsible" in connection with Deputy Dillon. Deputy Dillon started, in his usual way, by making a personal attack. His suggestion was that I was being hoodwinked by the bacon curers. What did it matter whether or not I was being hoodwinked by the curers? If that were so, why did not Deputy Dillon get up and speak, in the way that other Deputies on the opposite side spoke, and point out what remedies there were? At any rate, he kept telling us that he had a plan, and after keeping the House listening to the greatest futilities and ráméis for an hour or so, he came to his plan, and all his plan amounted to was the establishment of the live-pig industry in Donegal. He evidently forgot, or was not aware of the fact, that, two or three years ago, we had tried to establish that industry. I, myself, got the people concerned together, and they are quite willing to engage in it, and they went up to Donegal and got special terms to enable them to export the pigs that they got there; but, for one reason or another, the scheme broke down. Therefore, Deputy Dillon's plan broke down—the plan that he is now speaking about.

Deputy Dillon then talked about two classes of dealers in pigs. He spoke of one as being a decent class of dealers, and others as being not so decent. He said that there was one class of these people, who were decent, and who had been decent all their lives—good men in their own business, and men who should get support. Well, we all have our own views about such things as that. There are decent men in that business, just as there are decent men in every other business; but in that business, as in every other business, there are men who are not so decent. I am afraid that the reason for all this speech-making in connection with this matter was let out by Deputy Coburn, who, evidently, could not keep his opinion to himself, when he said that the reason I am against the dealers is because they were followers of the Redmondite Party. Well, all I can say is that that type of reasoning could be equally applied the other way; but surely it is not relevant to this discussion, considering that there is nothing in this Bill dealing with that particular matter except one clause, which, when we come to deal with it in the Committee Stage, will show how the members of the Party opposite stand. They will have to make up their mind as to how they will vote on that matter. Either they will vote against the proposal to take the pigs direct from the producer, or not. I rather suspect that, when it comes to a question, as between the dealers and the producers, the Party opposite will vote in favour of the producers, since they are by far the larger body. I rather fancy that when it comes to the actual question of dealing with that matter, the members of the Party opposite will drop the dealers in favour of the producers.

Deputy Dillon spoke about his plan. Why did we bring in the original Bill in 1935? I remember coming in here and pointing out to the House the fact that there were different prices being given at different fairs in the country, and I asked why there should be such a difference in price as between one fair and another in the country; and the whole House unanimously agreed with me in the proposal to remedy that matter. Therefore, for Deputy Dillon, or any other Deputy, to suggest that we should go back to the old system of the live-pig market is, I suggest, only an attempt to hoodwink the people. Of course, I know that a lot of the dealers are honest men. In my younger days, I know that I had to stand and meet a lot of these dealers, and, undoubtedly, some of them were very honest men; but, on the other hand, some of them were not so honest, and I cannot agree with Deputy Desmond when he says that the pig-dealer gave his last 1/- to the farmer for his pigs. I am quite sure that he did not. I remember the system of a man meeting one on the road and saying he would give so-and-so for your stock, and then another man meeting you further along the road and offering you a lesser price; and then in the end you sold your pigs to the dealers for what you could get from them. You went home then and you found, when you read the papers, that you could have sold your pigs for a higher price in the next town. Where was the question of the dealer giving the last 1/- he could afford there? Why did we bring in the Bill of 1935? Was it not to stop that sort of thing going on all over the country? The very argument that was used to prove the necessity of the Act of 1935—an Act that was welcomed by Deputy Dillon and other Deputies on the opposite benches—is now being used against this particular Act.

It seems to me that the chief "bogey" here is this matter of the compensation clause. I think it is rather unfair to take the attitude that has been taken by Deputies opposite. No matter what Deputy Dillon or other Deputies opposite say about this Bill being drafted by the large bacon curers, I say that, in connection with this Bill, I came to the conclusion that people who were being deprived of their business should be compensated, and I asked the officers of my Department to have that included in the Bill. I say now—no matter what Deputy Dillon or any other Deputy says—that neither the Pigs Marketing Board nor the Bacon Marketing Board had anything to do with that.

Everybody accepts that.

Dr. Ryan

Well, I do not know if Deputy Dillon accepts it. At any rate, I think that everybody will agree that if, for any reason, we have to put people out of business, we should compensate them, wherever it is possible to do so; in some cases it is not possible. Now, there are three classes of people concerned here. First of all, there are the small curers who did not qualify for an ordinary licence or for a minor curer's licence. They went out of business on the 31st March last under the original Act, and there was nothing in the original Act to settle compensation, or no idea of compensation, for these people. These people must get compensation if this clause goes through. There is a provision there, as I explained in introducing this motion, which lays down the basis on which compensation will be calculated. It is laid down that the average profit of all factories during the term—1935 I think it is—will be taken and their profit will be assumed to be the same as the average profit of all factories. Compensation will be fixed taking that as the basis. As I explained before, if any three men on a tribunal are asked to compensate any business man, and if these three men are told that his profits were 7 per cent., 8 per cent. or 10 per cent. over a period, that tribunal can fix what the compensation should be, because they can take ten, 12 or 15 years' purchase and assess compensation in that way. The clause will be operated in that particular way.

There is a second clause dealing with minor curers. Deputies on the opposite side have made a number of speeches following on the ramp that has been raised by certain organisations and certain newspapers that we are going to drive these people out of business. What is in this clause to suggest that we are going to drive them out of business? I know, the officers of my Department know, and Deputies ought to know, that before a minor curer becomes a licensee, he must have his premises brought up to a certain standard under which he can slaughter pigs under hygienic conditions, and it is quite possible that there may be certain minor curers who cannot afford to do that. If this particular compensation clause were not there, these minor curers would have to go out of business and could not be compensated in any way. If any minor curer goes out of business voluntarily, because he cannot afford to carry out these alterations in his factory, is it not only fair that he should be compensated because he has been driven out by legislation?

I thought, according to you, that nobody was being driven out?

Dr. Ryan

He is being driven out by legislation, not by the bigger curers.

I do not think that anybody objects to compensating them; it is the method of compensation that we object to.

Dr. Ryan

We shall come to the method of compensation. These licensees are grouped. The factory that dealt with more than 2,200 cwts. during the year 1935 was entitled to get a licence in 1935. Some of these factories had to make alterations under the 1935 Act before 1st April, 1937. At least one of them was not prepared to make those alterations, whether through want of cash or not I do not know. Is that particular factory to go out of business without compensation? If the members of the Opposition had their way—I admit, largely, through ignorance—there would be no compensation clause for these people and that particular factory would, by legislation, have to go out of business and get no compensation. In that particular case, that man will be entitled to get compensation should he go out of business. The clause goes further. It says that if any licensee goes out of business voluntarily, the Bacon Marketing Board may buy him out and distribute his quota amongst the others in the proportion in which they are getting quotas.

Deputy Dillon worked himself up into a state of high excitement and said that Henry Denny would buy out all these people under this clause, that he would merely go down and say to the small curer: "Would you like to go out of business and take compensation?", that he would squeeze out that small curer and make him glad to take compensation until eventually Henry Denny would have the whole country in his own hands. He worked himself up to a state of great excitement, as I say, until Deputy Smith reminded him that the Minister had power to issue new licences. He was badly punctured in that argument, and he then tried to make a retreat, and it was a very undignified retreat. I do not know whether Deputy Dillon hopes to be in my position after the next election. I believe he is the expert on agriculture on the other side, but apparently he does not trust himself, should he succeed me, or he does not trust me or anybody who may be in my position after the election, to issue new licences, if he sees that sort of thing happening. If the Minister sees the big groups buying out factories with the object of having a monopoly, is it not quite a simple thing for the Minister to issue licences to any group of people to set up a new factory?

It might not be so easy to get a group of people to start another factory.

Who will take the licence from you?

Dr. Ryan

The Deputies are even simpler than I thought, and, goodness knows, I was giving them a fair amount of credit for simplicity. If they do not know of people in their own areas who are looking for licences for factories, they must be very simple. Deputy McMenamin ought to know of them in his area if he reads the Donegal papers, even if he does not visit Donegal very often.

I shall look after that.

Dr. Ryan

The Deputy will want to. There are groups there looking for licences to start factories, as the Deputy knows. There are groups in South Tipperary, too.

Not that I know of.

Dr. Ryan

There will be people to come along, especially if Deputy Dillon's fears are realised, and that Henry Denny and Company are going to pay a huge price for factories. Would they not come along, even to get a licence so that Henry Denny and Company could buy them out at a huge price?

That is too silly an argument for the Minister to use—that certain people would come along to get licences in order that they might be bought out.

Dr. Ryan

It was silly enough for Deputy Dillon to suggest it, at any rate.

What Deputy Dillon objected to was not the compensation payable, but the method of compensation.

Dr. Ryan

He said: "Why not make Henry Denny buy them out of his own pocket?" That was his question. Because we object to that particular thing—that any big group should be allowed to buy up the small factories, close them down and get a quota of their own—we have provided that compensation will be paid out of the Bacon Marketing Fund.

Where does that come from?

Dr. Ryan

Perhaps the Deputy would read the Bill. Why do Deputies not look up these matters before making wild speeches saying that it comes out of the producers' pockets?

Tell us where it comes from.

Dr. Ryan

I shall tell you where it comes from. Deputies spent a great deal of Friday and a considerable time to-day alleging that it was the consumers and the producers who would pay, and their solution was that we should make the curers pay. As I have said, they did not read the Bill. None of them appears to have read the Bill. If they had read the Bill they would have seen that it was payable out of the Bacon Marketing Fund.

We said that repeatedly.

Dr. Ryan

Yes, but the Deputy knows——

Where do they get their money?

Yes, where do they get that from?

Dr. Ryan

The Deputy knows enough law to be able to find out in the Act where it comes from. He will find that in Section III of the original Act.

We know that, but where does the money come from?

Dr. Ryan

That is all right, then. It comes from the curers and the Bacon Marketing Board have no power to levy from the producer or anybody else except from the curers. Here we find it is provided in the Bill that it must come out of the Marketing Fund, and we find in the original Act that the Bacon Marketing Fund can only be recouped direct from the curers.

Where do the curers get it?

Dr. Ryan

Now we are going back to very simple economics. Where do the curers get it? The curer is a man who engages in the business of buying pigs from the producer, and selling them as bacon, and he makes a profit usually, although two of them went bankrupt last year.

They will not go bankrupt this year.

Dr. Ryan

Perhaps not. The curer would probably get it, as Deputy Moore suggests, out of his profits, because if he does not get it out of his profits he goes out of business.

Why are you not paying the compensation?

Dr. Ryan

Why should we pay the compensation? That would be a most interesting situation. If I brought in a Bill here and said: "We will pay the compensation out of moneys voted by the Dáil," look at the uproar there would be. We would hear: "Imagine the Dáil compensating those people when the bacon curers are making good profits."

There would be as much ground for it as there was for other compensation which has been paid.

Dr. Ryan

I suggested before to certain Deputies on the opposite side that I should give them a hint that I was going to do a certain thing, so that they would come out in full cry against it, while all the time I was going to do the other thing. Of course that would not prevent them from criticising the other thing, because they are always ready to turn right around, and their retreat is not very graceful in many cases. This is going to be paid by the curers out of their own profits.

Made from the bacon producers.

What do they charge the consumer?

They have a lot of interests over there.

Dr. Ryan

I am sure they have. Another thing which Deputy Dillon said was that Henry Denny and Son would go so far as to close down the factories in Ireland. He said they had no interest in keeping up the quota to Great Britain, because if we lost the quota it would go to Denmark and Henry Denny would have it again. If I were to analyse that statement it would be found that there is quite a number of untruths in it. The sum total of it is that it is altogether untrue. Under the particular agreement which Denmark has with Great Britain, and the particular agreement we have with Great Britain, nothing like that could occur. We could lose our quota, it is true, but Denmark would not get it, so Deputy Dillon is wrong in that also.

How does the Minister know they would not get it?

Dr. Ryan

I am only just quoting the agreement.

The Minister could not prevent its going there.

Dr. Ryan

I could not.


Dr. Ryan

And the Deputy could not make it go there either. Deputy Haslett said that compensating the minor curers must put them out of business. That is the sort of allegation which is made by the Opposition —that because we compensate the minor curers we are bringing nearer the day when those minor curers will go out of business. That sort of reasoning is worthy only of an Opposition like what we have opposite us. Because you compensate a man, you are bringing his destruction nearer? Everybody will remember that Deputy Dillon was as enthusiastic over the original Act as I was, or anybody else on this side. It is true he may have overstepped the line with his enthusiasm on that Act. I do not think that any body on this side can be quoted as forecasting a great future or that things would be perfect under that Act. As a matter of fact, if anybody cares to look up the debates on that particular Bill, I think it will be found that I did say towards the close that there would possibly be at least one amending Bill—if not two or three— as time went on, because it is very hard to foresee how certain things will go. That amending Bill has come. But there was no attempt by anybody in the Opposition to make any sort of constructive proposal with regard to the Bill that is before us. There are about seven or eight matters dealt with in that amending Bill. I explained what they were when I was introducing the Bill. Not a single thing in the Bill was referred to, but we had this general futile criticism of the dealers, and the factories making big profits, and all that sort of thing. Any Deputy who has a certain fluency can get up and make a speech without knowing what he is talking about.

The Minister knows a good deal?

Dr. Ryan

I know what the Bill is about, and I have the advantage of the Deputy that way. Those political speeches made by the Opposition are not a bit helpful to the industry, to the producers or to anybody else. If they had the producers really in mind they would drop those political speeches and try to make suggestions as to how things could be improved. They have not done that. If any Deputy can stand up and point out where he made any suggestion for improvement in any speech he made here, I am wrong in what I have said.

That is the Minister's job.

Dr. Ryan

Then why not leave the job to me, and not spend six or seven hours talking a lot of nonsense?

How does the Minister explain the difference between the price paid——

Dr. Ryan

That is the sort of thing which has gone on for six or seven hours—asking me to explain, and telling me that all sorts of things are going on, but there has been no constructive suggestion from anybody as to what might be done to improve matters. Probably, as I have said, that is due to ignorance of what is in the Bill. Probably it is due to stupidity; I do not like to say dishonesty. I think it is due more to stupidity than to dishonesty.

Or to a mixture of both?

Dr. Ryan

It may be a mixture of both. Then we have talk from the Opposition about free competition. Nothing could be more nonsensical than this talk about free competition. Every Deputy opposite, when he voted for the original Act, did away with free competition immediately. There is no use in Deputy Curran shaking his head, because that is only claiming that he did not know what he was voting for. In the original Act free competition is done away with. Each factory gets a certain quota, and that number of pigs inevitably goes into that factory. All pay the same price. What competition is there left? There is no competition. For Deputies to get up here, on this particular Bill, and talk on general economic principles about free competition being the life of trade, is the greatest nonsense and Deputies should realise that. Everything they said was against the original Act, and there was no murmur of disapproval of any clause that was in this Bill.

If Deputies opposite wanted to bring in a motion to have the original Act rescinded, then every speech they made would be quite in order and as much to the point as you could expect from the Deputies opposite. Deputy McMenamin gave us some statistics. He said he went down to a valley in Donegal and counted 12 pigs where there were 150 at this time last year.

I did not say at this time last year. I said in the month of April. I gave a specific date; I gave a concrete example.

Dr. Ryan

There is no doubt that the general principle that you cannot judge statistics by one figure is well borne out by Deputy McMenamin's statement. That would be a reduction of 92 per cent. in the number of pigs in the country.

Do you question it?

Dr. Ryan

I not only question it but I think it is laughable.

The Minister should go home after that.

Dr. Ryan

Deputy McMenamin gives a particular instance of one particular valley. It may be true. As a matter of fact, probably if the Deputy went to a particular farm, where the farm had changed hands, he might find that there were 50 pigs last year and none now, or that there are 50 now while there was none last year. But that would not prove anything. To attempt to prove that the number of pigs in the country is going down because Deputy McMenamin counted 12 pigs in a particular valley is not bringing us anywhere.

I told the Minister I did the whole county, and it was no pleasure to me. I did it to help the Minister and get advice for him.

Dr. Ryan

We will have a census taken now.

Since the Minister treats the matter in that carping fashion, the next time I go to help him he will be a very old man.

Dr. Ryan

I do not want the Deputy to take it in that spirit.

I did not do it in any hostile spirit.

Dr. Ryan

I do not want the Deputy to take it like that.

Then what is the Minister harping at?

Dr. Ryan

Getting figures in one particular district does not mean anything.

I told the Minister I did the whole county. I then gave him an example in one particular district. He will not get away with that; it is no good.

Dr. Ryan

As a matter of fact, if we take the figure for the number of pigs dealt with by the factories at the present time it does not show any reduction from last year at all. There is the same number dealt with as last year, whatever any Deputy may say. It is assumed by the Opposition, and has always been assumed by them on every occasion in the last five years, that things are going from bad to worse.

Nothing of the kind.

Dr. Ryan

I am glad to hear the Deputy say that.

There is nothing I would regret more. I live in this country, and I am going to live in it, please God, and I want to see it prosperous.

Dr. Ryan

So do we all.

Why make these reckless allegations?

Dr. Ryan

I say that Deputies opposite are always assuming that things are going from bad to worse.

The Minister is making a good political speech, as he has been doing all the time. Why not get down to the provisions of the Bill and explain them?

Dr. Ryan

I did that already. I am answering the arguments of Deputies opposite about things that are not in the Bill. It was alleged by Deputies opposite that there was a great trade for fat pigs—"cutters", as they are called—with Birmingham and that, under this Bill, we were doing away with that trade. There is nothing in that point. The Bill does not interfere with any dealer who goes out to buy these fat pigs and export them to Birmingham or wherever he desires to export them. The British Government do not interfere, either, because there is no quota on these pigs in Britain.

Is there not a tariff on them?

Dr. Ryan

There is a tariff on them but, as against that, the exporters get a bounty. The dealer is quite free to go into the fair and buy, as against the factories, that particular class of pig. If he pays 1/- more than the factories, he may be sure he will get these pigs and he can maintain his connection with Birmingham as well as ever he did. I am told that the prices the factories are getting for their bacon are out of line with the prices they are paying for their pigs. Were I not of the same opinion, I should not have urged that the Prices Commission should be asked to inquire into this whole matter. The Prices Commission are to inquire into it, and they are the proper body to do so. That is not my function at all. Deputy O'Sullivan complained that I did not bring figures before the Dáil showing the profits the bacon factories were making. That would have nothing to do with this Bill. There is not a clause in the Bill which could be discussed, amended or interfered with as a result of having these figures produced.

Will the report of the Prices Commission be furnished to anybody?

Dr. Ryan

Of course, when they have inquired into the matter. That is their job, and I only hope they will get on to it as soon as possible. How is the price fixed? Deputies do not seem to realise what we agreed to do in the Act of 1935. There was never a Party vote on that. Individual Deputies opposite may have objected to some clauses as individual Deputies on this side objected to certain clauses. But there never was a Party vote taken on these clauses. It was agreed, as a general principle that the bacon factories would get what they could for their bacon and we based our whole scheme on that. That is how the whole Act was built up. The Pigs Marketing Board were to fix the price of pigs, having in mind what the bacon factories were able to get for the bacon. The whole Act was based on what the bacon factories would get, having regard to supply and demand.

And they got it.

Dr. Ryan

That was the basis of all the legislation. If they have got a good price for their bacon and the producers are not getting what they should for their pigs, it is the Pigs Marketing Board which is at fault for not having raised the price of pigs as they should. I do not say that they are at fault, because we shall not know that until the inquiry by the Prices Commission shall have concluded.

I thought you said they were at fault.

Dr. Ryan

No. I said I thought there was something in the allegation.

The levy must be paid either by means of small prices or from the profits of the curers. It must come from one or the other.

Dr. Ryan

Of course it must.

Therefore, the pig producers are paying for the licences.

Dr. Ryan

That is obvious.

They are paying for everything.

Dr. Ryan

I am not foolish enough to believe—though the Deputy may think I am—that the bacon curer would go on doing this if he were losing money.

The whole structure is either at the cost of the producer or the consumer.

Dr. Ryan

It is assumed that the bacon factor will get what he can for his bacon. The whole thing is based on that.

Would the Minister deal with that aspect and with the complaints of the producers and the consumers?

Dr. Ryan

Nothing in this Bill bears on that matter. That is all dealt with in the original Act. I am quite prepared to say to anybody that the interests of the pig producers have been much better looked after since these boards were set up than they were previously. At the same time, I should like to give credit to the Opposition. They were responsible for the original Act, too, and I do not think they should try to get away from that, if there is any honesty amongst them. The Bill went through practically unanimously.

Deputy Dillon objected to certain proposals. That is my recollection of his statement.

Dr. Ryan

Deputy Dillon is not infallible and I am sure the Opposition realise that now. There was not a single Party vote in Committee on the measure.

Even so, Deputy Dillon put up certain proposals which, he says, were not accepted.

Dr. Ryan

In all probability, members of this Party agreed with Deputy Dillon in some things, but we had not a Party vote.

All the members of the Committee put up suggestions.

There was a minority against Deputy Dillon on certain points.

Dr. Ryan

There must have been a majority against him in those cases in which he did not carry his point.

In certain cases, he carried his point.

Dr. Ryan

He carried one point against my bitter opposition. I warned him that it would not work and we have to deal with it in this Bill. That is the only thing he carried against my opposition.

At all events, the producer and the consumer are complaining.

Justifiably so.

Then we must have been just to both.

Dr. Ryan

Let us all agree that we were responsible for the Principal Bill.

I must say I was not. I had nothing to do with it. Probably that is the reason it is in such a mess.

Dr. Ryan

I knew the Deputy would not have the courage to make the admission.

I know that the Minister invited all Deputies to come in but he did not give way to their suggestions.

Dr. Ryan

There was never a Party vote on it.

I know that Deputy Dillon complained that his proposals were not accepted.

His proposals are never accepted at any committee.

Dr. Ryan

Another point made was that the factories should be permitted to pay a price higher than the fixed price. Deputies opposite appear to be very concerned about monopolies, but they make suggestions which are altogether out of line with that concern. Nothing could bring about a monopoly more quickly than their suggestion, if it were given effect. That was realised when we were putting through the original Bill—that we could not permit any factory to pay more than the fixed price any more than we could allow any factory to pay a lower price. If they were allowed to pay more than the fixed price, we can imagine Deputy Dillon or Deputy Bennett telling us that combines could go out and pay 5/- or 6/- more than the fixed price for their pigs and put all the smaller men out of action, so that eventually they would have all the profits for themselves.

No matter what their profits would be.

Dr. Ryan

No matter what their profits would be. It would be alleged here, and properly alleged, that these big firms could afford to lose for two or three years while putting the small men out of business, and that then, the small men being wiped out, they would have the whole thing to themselves. The suggestion that we should allow factories to pay more than the fixed price is not at all in line with the pronouncements of the Party that profess here to be against big monopolies.

If that were the case, why did they not wipe out the small curers before now?

Dr. Ryan

They did wipe out a lot of them.

They did not.

Dr. Ryan

Of course, they did. There is scarcely a day in the week that I do not get a letter from some town telling me about the fine bacon factory that was there 15 or 20 years ago and that was wiped out by the big men. That is alleged all over the country. Deputy Everett talked about a certain minor curer. He was apprehensive about that minor curer being put out of business. I have his letter here, and in it, that minor curer says——

It is scarcely fair to refer to an individual's letter here.

Dr. Ryan

I am going to read only a bit of it. He says:

"With regard to the report in the Press, I was not at the meeting mentioned on Tuesday and I did not at all like the report as I considered it uncalled for. Our traveller attended the meeting but he tells me that he did not make any such statement as was reported in the Press."

It was on that report that all the Opposition Deputies built their speeches.

I must say that I have not heard that before.

Dr. Ryan

It is quite obvious that no Deputy opposite read the Bill——

I certainly never saw the statement.

Dr. Ryan

Where did the Deputy get his statement about the Bill?

Kilkenny Corporation.

Dr. Ryan

To come to the next point raised, the producer. Deputy O'Sullivan says that there is great dissatisfaction amongst producers with regard to prices and he says, in particular, that the producer does not know what he gets for his pig until it is weighed and graded, and that he is not there to see it. In the first place, he can sell his pig on the live pig market, and, in the second place, if what Deputies allege is true, that these live pig markets are gone, he can go to the factory and get the factory to weigh the pig in his presence and be paid on the live weight. He has that option. Then he sees what he is getting, and, if he likes, he can weigh the pig on the town scales before going to the factory, if he has any suspicions.

Those are the regulations.

Dr. Ryan

Those are the regulations and they are being carried out.

Consult some of the producers about that question.

Dr. Ryan

I have not heard any complaints from the producers for some time.

I have, and I did not look for them.

Dr. Ryan

If there is any disgruntled person in the country he will go to the Deputy, naturally, but none has complained to me for some months. I admit they did complain in the beginning. They had a genuine grievance, and one of the clauses of this Bill is to remedy it so that every producer will have the right to send his pig to the factory if he wants to. The big grievance they had was that they could not sell direct. The producer can get his live weight at the factory and further, if he sends his pig into the factory, and if the pig is killed and graded, he gets his cheque back and he cannot be deceived. So far as we can provide for it, and I believe we have provided adequately for it, he cannot be deceived with regard to the grading of his pig because, in the first place, the Pigs Marketing Board have had inspectors watching the grading from the commencement of the Act and, from 1st April this year, the Department of Agriculture has a representative in every factory to see that the grading is properly done, so that he is perfectly safeguarded so far as that is concerned.

The Minister must have heard something of the same complaints as I have heard, seeing that he has put inspectors in since 1st April.

Dr. Ryan

No. Part II of the Act was to come into operation as soon as we were ready. We had difficulty in getting the required number of veterinary surgeons, but now we have the required number, and also the required number of lay inspectors, and that Part of the Act came into operation on 1st April.

The Minister is satisfied then that everything is splendid?

Dr. Ryan

As well as we can make it.

Will the Minister say how grading is done on a live weight basis?

Dr. Ryan

According to weight only.

And the price is fixed so that the chances are that you will be at a disadvantage.

Do not sell them live weight.

Dr. Ryan

I do not think Deputy Bennett is right in that, but, in any case, I think the producer will do better to sell dead weight. The tendency of all this legislation is to get our producers to sell dead weight. That is purposely done, because, as was explained here when the original Act was brought in in 1935, until we get our producers to make an effort to produce grade A 1 pigs, we will not get what we are entitled to for our bacon on foreign markets. We must get them to produce the best type of pig, and we can only do that by encouraging them to sell dead weight, so that they will get back a return showing how many pigs were sold of grade A 1 and other grades. Every producer I have spoken to in the last couple of years has been getting more and more into grade A 1 pigs every time he brings pigs in, and that is the whole object of the legislation.

The Opposition are going to vote against this Bill, I believe. I do not know why. They have not stated a single thing in the Bill against which they are voting. They are voting against the original Act, if you like, the Act they approved of in 1935 and which they are very sorry for now.

It is no good anyway.

Dr. Ryan

They may be able to go through the country, and when the producer says that he is doing better on his pigs than he was three years ago, they can say: "We all voted for that Act," and when they meet a dealer they can say: "We voted against that Act on account of the dealer." They will then have it both ways, as they always have it, and, like the man with the ass, they do not get anywhere. Deputy Bennett says there is considerable opposition to the 1935 Act. That is an amazing statement to make. There was no Bill ever went through this House for the last five years in respect of which there was such general agreement with regard to all its provisions, and yet Deputy Bennett says there is considerable opposition to it.

Was it worked?

Dr. Ryan

It was, and there is no doubt that conditions have been greatly improved as a result of that legislation.

No thanks to them. Were they not buying pigs below production costs?

Dr. Ryan


The curers. Was there not provision for having a better price?

Dr. Ryan

The Deputy knows very well that the reason the Bill was brought in was that we had all sorts of prices, changing from day to day and from market to market, and that that was the sort of thing we had to put an end to as far as we possibly could. The farmer knows now what price he is entitled to get and he insists upon it, whether at the factory, in the market, or wherever he brings his pigs. That was the whole object of the legislation.

The legislation was not worked. The Minister did not bring the Equalisation Fund into operation at all.

Dr. Ryan

I do not know what the Deputy is talking about now. We are told that the factories made bigger profits under the Act than ever before, and Deputies said that I had not denied that. I have not denied that, nor have I admitted it either, because I do not know, and if every Deputy on the opposite side was as careful of what he said, we should not have all these wild statements. Why do they make these wild statements and say that I do not deny them? How can I deny them?

Is it not your duty as Minister——

Dr. Ryan

It is not my duty.

——to do your utmost to get the best price possible for the producer?

Dr. Ryan

The Deputy is quite right in that, and in the Act we brought in in 1935 I provided for that by setting up the Pigs Marketing Board, which was to get the last shilling out of the curers, based on the price of bacon.

They did not get it.

Dr. Ryan

Let Deputies be careful about making those statements. Maybe they are right, but we will know soon, and in the meantime let us talk about something more practical. We were told that the curers formed a trust after the Act went through. That is just like the statement about free competition. What trust was there in it? It was provided in the legislation what every curer would get and what he would pay for his pigs. They went out and sold their bacon, and what trust could there be? There could not be competition under the Act, and because there was not, we are told that they formed a trust.

I think the Minister admitted that, as a result of the Bill, shortly after it had passed, the curers were better organised than they had been before.

Dr. Ryan

They were legislated into organisation. They could not help it.

Legislated into better organisation.

Dr. Ryan

They had to pay the same price and take the number of pigs allotted to them and so on, but to call it a trust is certainly not right, and certainly not using the word as it should be used. Deputy Curran said, I think, that he would deal with these matters further in Committee. I suggest that the Deputy will not, if the Ceann Comhairle is doing his business, because there is nothing in this Bill about the matters he is talking about. It is not my job to see that the price of bacon is related to the price the farmer is getting for his pigs.

The farmers object that the bacon curers are getting that price and that the farmers are not getting a fair price in relation to it.

Dr. Ryan

I know they do.

Who is getting it?

They are getting 56/- per cwt. for their pigs while rashers are being sold at 1/11 per lb.

Dr. Ryan

That matter was at least partially explained before. The factories may be getting too much for their bacon—that is possible. But when a Deputy talks about a factory paying, say, 70/- per cwt. for bacon and selling it at 1/8 per lb., it is not treating the question quite seriously.

Tell us the parts that are sold for nothing.

Dr. Ryan

It would be all right if a pig was entirely composed of back rashers, but it is not. I do not want to be taken as standing up for the factories, but at least let us get the facts of the case. The pig has a shoulder and other parts that are not as dear as back rashers. Take 70/- as the average dead weight price for a pig. Then take 20 per cent. off that, which is, I think, what they take off for reduction of weight when it is turned into bacon. Then take the factory costs, whatever they may be, and, in addition to that, you must take whatever they may be paying by way of levy to the Bacon Marketing Board, which, during a lot of the period referred to, was 12/- per cwt. When you take all these things into account you find that they bring the price up very much higher, much nearer to what they are getting for their bacon. There will still be a gap, I admit, but that is being investigated by the Prices Commission.

When you take the farmers' position, there is a gap on the wrong side.

Dr. Ryan

The farmers will take all that into account next month. Two or three Deputies complained that there was too much centralisation of factories and that there were many districts where producers usefully could have a small or medium-sized factory—that it would be better if we had more factories. The only authoritative statement we have on that question, I believe, is the report of the Pig Industries Tribunal, set up by the leader of the Opposition when he was on this side of the House. I presume on that account Deputies on the opposite benches will pay more attention to the report. That tribunal reported that, in their opinion, there were far too many bacon factories in the country. They assume that there would be a better price for pigs if we had fewer factories—that there would be less waste and, therefore, more for the producer. Whether this report should be accepted as common ground or not. I do not know, but the fact is that in this particular Bill there is not a single section or sub-section dealing with the registration or licensing of factories.

Minor factories are in exactly the same position as under the original Bill, in spite of all the criticism from the other side. The small licensed curers are in exactly the same position, and those who did not qualify to become either licensed or minor curers are in exactly the same position, with the exception that if they go out, they get compensation. If it is alleged that the big curers can put them out more easily now than before, I cannot see how any Deputy can hold that. Surely if the big factories are able to put the small men out they could have put them out without compensation just as easily as with compensation. If we pass a Bill which provides compensation for these smaller men, who have to go out as a result of legislation, we are doing a just thing and there was no need whatever for all this criticism of this Bill. I want to repeat again, after all the speeches we heard from the Opposition, and some of them were very long speeches, that there was not a single clause quoted from the Bill to justify anything said by the Opposition. When we come to the Committee Stage we will see whether they have any criticism to offer or not.

I should like the Minister to make it clear that licensed curers cannot be compulsorily acquired by the passage of this Bill.

Dr. Ryan

No, they cannot, or anybody else.

There seems to be the impression somewhere that that is the position.

Financial Resolution put.

The Committee divided: Tá, 52; Níl, 18.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Daniel.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Robert.
  • Concannon, Helena.
  • Corbett, Edmond.
  • Crowley, Timothy.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kilroy, Michael.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick John.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • MacDermot, Frank.
  • MacEntee, Seán.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Moore, Séamus.
  • Murphy, Patrick Stephen.
  • O Briain, Donuchadh.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • Dowdall, Thomas P.
  • Flinn, Hugo V.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Gibbons, Seán.
  • Goulding, John.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Houlihan, Patrick.
  • Keely, Séamus P.
  • Kelly, James Patrick.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Pearse, Margaret Mary.
  • Rice, Edward.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Martin.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Francis C.


  • Beckett, James Walter.
  • Bennett, George Cecil.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Desmond, William.
  • Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
  • Dolan, James Nicholas.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Fitzgerald, Desmond.
  • Holohan, Richard.
  • MacEoin, Seán.
  • McGuire, James Ivan.
  • McMenamin, Daniel.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas Francis.
  • O'Mahony, The.
  • O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
  • Rowlette, Robert James.
  • Wall, Nicholas.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies Doyle and Bennett.
Question declared carried.