I think, Sir, that, when progress was reported on the last occasion, we were in the middle of a discussion on amendment No. 9, and I think that, at the conclusion of the discussion, the Minister had just announced a very material concession.
Public Business. - Pigs and Bacon Bill, 1937—Committee (Resumed).
Well, I was under the impression that the section was disposed of. However, I have no objection to going on with the matter, if the Deputy desires to do so.
I do not think it was disposed of. However, in connection with this, an interesting point has arisen. As I was saying, Sir, at the conclusion of the discussion on the last occasion, the Minister announced a very reasonable concession which, I think, substantially—and I use the word "substantially" advisedly—safeguards the position of the minor curers.
I notice that Section 20 is on the Order Paper, and amendment No. 9 was withdrawn. However, the Deputy can make his point in connection with this section.
I think, Sir, that I can make my point in connection with this section anyway.
Very well. Then amendment No. 10 comes first.
Well, I wish to follow whatever you, Sir, suggest is the proper procedure.
The Deputy will have an opportunity of discussing his point on the section.
I move amendment No. 10:—
To delete sub-section (1) and substitute the following sub-section:—
(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, the board may by order amend a production order in respect of a production period by appointing an additional quantity of bacon (in this section referred to as the additional quota) to be produced during such period, and in such case the board shall, not later than three days after the making of the amending order, cause to be served on each licensee of licensed premises upon whom a copy of the production sub-quota certificate in respect of such production period was served a copy of the amending order and thereupon the production sub-quota for such premises in respect of such production period shall, for the purposes of this Part of this Act, be increased by a quantity of bacon which bears to the additional quota the same proportion as the sum of the home sales sub-quota and the external-sales sub-quota (if any) for such premises for the sale period and the external-sale period respectively next immediately preceding the date of such order bears to the sum of the sales quota for such sale period and the external sales quota for such external-sale period.
Under the Bill, as it stands, three quotas are covered—the British quota, the home quota, and the external sales quota. The British quota is fully provided for in this way: That, when the board comes to make an allocation, they, first of all, allocate to each person what he is entitled to as a British export quota—that being, in the first instance, allocated by me. Having done so, they take what they estimate to be the total number of pigs remaining in the country, after filling that quota, and that is allocated amongst the curers in the proportion to which they are entitled on their allocation of home sales. This amendment will ensure that, in the allocation, whether pigs are plentiful or scarce, the surplus over what is required for the export quota will be allocated in the proper percentage amongst the export curers. It is, in fact, the principle that is understood, and, indeed, underlined in this Bill all through, and this amendment is designed to make it clear.
The allocation of which quota?
First of all, the curer gets what he is entitled to get for the export quota, and then the remainder is divided in the proportion of what he is entitled to get under the original Act.
Well, Sir, the point to which I was going to refer a moment ago is peculiarly apt in this connection. As I was saying, the Minister, at the conclusion of the discussion on amendment No. 9 on the last occasion, had just announced a very material concession. On the last occasion, the Minister guaranteed a minimum of 300 cwts. a month, and that means that any minor curer, who wishes to remain in business, will have the Minister behind him to see that he is not squeezed out or trampled upon. Now, we have this question of the allocation of the quotas, and I say that here is a very serious danger. The allocation of the quotas is a matter for the Bacon Marketing Board, and if the Board, in pursuit of a plot to destroy the small curers, desire to do the small curers an injury, they can so arrange the quotas, from time to time, that, when prices are low in England they would allocate to the minor curers an undue proportion of the quota, thus forcing them to send their produce to England in the hope of extracting whatever bounty they could get either from the Treasury or out of the hypothetical price then prevailing; and, at the same time, if there were a scarcity of pigs, as there is at the present time, the curers could force up the price here and raise the price of pigs in such a way as to make the entire business of the minor curers uneconomic. Therefore, in view of the fact that the Minister has accepted the principle that the small curer must be protected and must be guaranteed an opportunity of continuing in business, I would ask the Minister now to go a step further than he went on last Thursday, and to say that the small curer, who has a small production quota, shall be entitled to sell that production quota on the home market. Perhaps the Minister is inclined to share my view on that matter. If he is so inclined, I think there is no need to waste the time of the House in discussing it.
Well, that is a rather difficult matter to raise on this Bill. The export quota was fixed under the Export Act of 1934,, and, in the beginning, when the export quota was being allocated, the various curers were asked to make application. At the time, the applications somewhat exceeded the quota we had from Great Britain, and they were all cut down, in consequence, to a certain percentage of their applications. I forget at the moment what that percentage was. Now, as time went on, some of them surrendered part of their export quota, and it was offered to those who were applicants for an additional export quota. There was a period—I think it would be almost two years ago now—when every curer had got as much of an export quota as he wished to have. It was a rather difficult time for exporters, and some of them were exporting at a loss. A circular was then sent out from the Department saying that the export quota in future would be based on that particular period, and from that time it has been based on that performance. Very few of the small curers have got an export quota at all, and what they have got is very small. I, in meeting these small curers, discussed the matter with them more or less on the lines of what the Deputy has raised. They all expressed a wish to keep what they have, and also said that they would like to take more if there was more on offer. I think, whatever the quota is, we shall have to make it a permanent thing, because there are ups and downs in the trade, and if a firm undertakes to do so much per month, it must do that amount whether it is gaining or losing. We could not alter it from time to time to suit the needs of individuals. Possibly if a small curer came along and said that he was retiring from the export business we would be prepared to release him, but I do not know that we could allow him to come back again into that business.
Could we not devise a plan whereunder a person who received an export allocation below a certain minimum figure would have the option to reject it in any given period?
He would have to reject it for all time then.
That is the question. I quite see that where you are dealing with a large exporter who makes a very material contribution to the full export quota, you could not allow him to withdraw from his commitments and return at a later period. You could not allow a man, say, who has an export quota of 1,000 pigs per week to come along and to say: "I do not want any export quota for this month," but suppose you had a man who had an export quota for only 20 pigs and that he said: "I would prefer not to have any quota for this period," that would not dislocate things so much at all for the other curers who would have to fill up that gap in the full quota. The Minister thinks that we are going to get 15 minor curers qualifying to be small curers. There are 30 minor curers, therefore we must anticipate that 20 of the minor curers will become small curers under the Bill. Most of these have no export quota. Suppose half of them have been getting export quotas in the past and that they would be eligible to get them in the future, that we fix a minimum quota and that we say that any man who gets an export quota for 20 pigs or less will be entitled to refuse it in any given export quota period after giving due notice. That might mean in any quota period that refusals to accept the quota would result in a drop of 200 pigs in the total quota. I do not think that that would dislocate export arrangements at all, because it would be perfectly easy to fill that gap through the big curers or the medium curers or, indeed, through the Bacon Marketing Board themselves. They could buy 100 pigs, get them cured and fill the quota in that way.
I do not know that it would not be a good thing to provide for that because it would give these small men an ultimate sense of security. It might even result in the small men coming eventually to the Bacon Marketing Board and saying: "We would sooner do a local business and retire from the export business. Better wipe off our names altogether as far as the export business is concerned." If we were able to get them to do that voluntarily it would result in considerable administrative economy, as it would mean that much of the vigilance that it is now necessary to exercise over these small curers would not be necessary in future. I think, however, that it is vital to avoid any suggestion that the curers can be coerced into that path. It might, however, happen that in many cases, after an experience of a few quota periods, they would come voluntarily to see that their interests were better served by disposing of all their production locally. I do not want to rush the Minister into this thing but he might turn the suggestion over in his mind. If the quota allocated to any curer is less than 20 pigs per week I suggest that he should have the right to reject that quota in any given quota period and to retain his right to get another quota for a subsequent period, having again the option to accept or reject. If that plan is acceptable I think it might be useful.
I think the Deputy ought to realise the difficulty of working out a scheme of that kind. Perhaps we might assume that we should try to fill the full export quota.
Otherwise we are threatened with the loss of portion of it. Before I allocate the quota, I must get an application from curers for so much. If a curer does not fill his quota there is power under the Export Act to inflict a penalty. We have not inflicted a penalty so far. What we did was to say to the defaulting curer: "If you fall down in this period you cannot come up in another period." That was better than any penalty we could get through the courts. If two or three small curers came along in a certain period and said that they wished to withdraw from their quota, we would have to ask the larger curers to take up the quantity for which these small curers had defaulted. We could not compel them to do so, because they had exported all that they had undertook to supply. If it was a losing business it would be difficult to get them to undertake more unless we could say to them: "If you undertake this you will have it permanently." That is the only way we could get them to do it. This is a matter that does not come under this Bill, and it is very hard to discuss it here, but I understand the Deputy merely wants an expression of an opinion on the matter. If a small curer wants to get out of the export business we shall certainly facilitate him, but I am afraid he cannot get back again later.
The small curer has also to get a home-sales quota. There is no production unless he can get a home-sales quota of 300 pigs per month. Is that not so?
Under this Bill, suppose a small curer has an export quota of 40 cwts. Under this legislation we say that he must get a quota of 300 cwts. He then exports 40 cwts. and sells 260 at home.
He must get a home-sales quota and sell the remainder at home? But suppose you take a man who heretofore has applied for a small export quota under the other Act—not under the Pigs and Bacon Act at all but under the Regulation of Exports Act. Now he wants to stop applying for the smaller share under the Regulation of Exports Act. He has got his production quota of 300 pigs a month guaranteed. Now he goes to the Bacon Marketing Board and asks for a home-sales quota of 300 pigs a month, and they say to him: "You have heretofore shipped 40 pigs a month. Therefore we will not give you a home-sales quota in excess of 260 pigs, because we think you ought to go on exporting the same proportion that you exported heretofore." What I would like to ensure is that the small curer will have the right to say: "The Minister has promised us 300 pigs a month. You must give us a market wherein to sell them. I am not exporting, and it is the Minister's wish— though he does not mean to enforce it, it is his preference — that the very small man would drop the exporting business. Therefore we demand as a right from you a home-sales quota wherein to accommodate our 300 pigs." I do not see any provision in the Bill to provide for that.
I see the point which the Deputy is raising now. I cannot say off-hand that the Bill absolutely provides that in case a small man drops his export quota the board will then give him a full home-sales quota. I will have that point looked into.
I take the point in amendments Nos. 13 and 20 to be similar to the point in No. 11?
That is right. I move amendment No. 11:—
In sub-section (2), page 9, to delete paragraphs (a), (b) and (c), lines 41 to 48, and substitute the words "later than ten days before the expiration of the production period appointed by such production order".
The point there is that the board sometimes have a production quota period of a month — sometimes even longer—and the board put it to me when they saw this Bill circulated that compelling them to allocate sub-quotas before half the period has expired may not give them the latitude they wish. They were anxious, in fact, to have that provision cut out altogether, but in discussion with them I said it might be unfair to small curers and others who had not the same facilities as the larger curers in that way, and there should be at least some safeguard. As a compromise I am putting in this—that they may go to within ten days of the end before allocating the sub-quota.
I understand from the Minister that he is in general agreement with me that, having given the small man a guaranteed production quota of 300 pigs, he feels that where they prefer to operate on the home market exclusively they ought to be guaranteed a home sales quota to dispose of the 300 pigs, and that between this and the Report Stage if steps are necessary he will take them to incorporate that in the Bill?
Yes. I think the Bill is all right, but I will have that point looked into.
I take it that the point in amendment No. 19 is the same as that in amendment No. 12.
I move amendment No. 12:—
In sub-section (2) (b), page 11, line 32, to delete the words "not later than two days".
As a matter of fact, I think that too has been covered by a previous amendment. It is on the same principle, that is, where the Bacon Board makes an allocation on the last day of the period they must be given at least some time to notify the curers.
I move amendment No. 13:—
In sub-section (2), page 12, to delete paragraphs (a), (b) and (c), lines 3 to 10 and substitute the words "later than ten days before the expiration of the sale period appointed by such home-sales order."
I move amendments Nos. 14 and 15:—
14. In sub-section (5), page 13, line 5, to delete the word "cold-store" and substitute the words "other premises."
15. In sub-section (5), page 13, line 8, to insert before the word "from" the words "on sale."
These are drafting amendments.
I move amendments Nos. 16, 17, 18 and 19:—
16. In sub-section (1), page 13, line 19, to delete the word "quotas" and substitute the word "quota".
17. In sub-section (1), page 13, lines 20 and 21, to delete the words "all licensed premises" and substitute the words "such licensed premises and".
18. In sub-section (2) (a), page 13, line 31, to insert after the word "premises" the words "to which such order relates".
19. In sub-section (2) (b), page 13, line 38, to delete the words "not later than two days".
These are drafting amendments.
Does Section 29, in fact, alter the existing procedure?
It implements Section 28, and also provides for an external sales sub-quota certificate. Section 28 deals with the external quota. An external quota means a quota outside of what goes to Great Britain.
It means American bacon?
Yes. The external quota is being dealt with in this Bill for the first time. Up to this, any person doing trade outside Great Britain had to do that trade from the allocation for his home sales.
Unless he could wangle it some other way.
There was that in it, I suppose. Now it is being provided for separately, and a person will be allocated bacon under three heads, the British quota, the external sales quota, and the home sales quota.
There is this difficulty; of course at certain periods of the year you can get an extraordinary price in New York for Irish bacon, and sometimes it becomes extremely profitable to sell it there. But there is this difficulty. Are you making a provision here that in the event of your giving to a curer an external sales quota whereunder to get a share of that New York trade, you will also give him an additional production quota?
That is what it provides for.
When we have divided up the visible supplies of pigs between the British market and the home market, the proposal here is that we assume there is a surplus of pigs, and allow that surplus to be cured for shipment to America. Otherwise, you have got to face this difficulty: If there is only sufficient pigs to supply the British market and the home market, you must either drop part of your British quota—and we should not do that in order to get a fortuitous market in America—or we must create in Ireland an artificial scarcity by taking off the home market the amount of bacon required for New York, but which was originally intended to meet the ordinary demand of the home market. What is the Department's policy in regard to that matter? Is it their intention, where that happens, to direct the curer to import his pigs? This is a very difficult problem, and I should like to know what is the Department's attitude. Does the Minister understand my point?
I have not got it exactly.
The whole theory underlying this Bill is that we first contemplate the visible supply of pigs. We subtract that from the British quota. Is not that so? The balance is for home sales and external sales quota. Now, supposing the balance is barely sufficient to supply home sales, and we then create an external sales quota for a particular curer to ship bacon to New York, that means that we must take the external quota of pigs out of the home quota pig supply. That is going to create an artificial scarcity of bacon within Saorstát Eireann. Is not that so? Are we going to allow that artificial scarcity of bacon to obtain in Saorstát Eireann, or are we going to say to the curer who gets an external sales quota: "You must get pigs in Fermanagh or Tyrone, because there are not enough pigs here"?
Is not the Deputy assuming that that external sales quota must be met? There will be no compulsion on curers to send bacon to America. If there is likely to be a scarcity at all, or if a better price is offering in New York than the price at home, instead of creating a scarcity will it not have the effect of raising prices? Obviously, if there is sale at home, no one will send bacon to America and will be under no compulsion to do so. It will be a matter really of commanding a higher price. If the Deputy expressed it that way, I think he would be right. How would prices at home be kept stabilised if we were faced with a demand from countries like the United States for our bacon?
The Deputy does not quite follow the situation. What might happen is that for three months it might be immensely profitable to land bacon in New York. An intelligent forecast of that situation, by having a good representative in New York to give warning in time, might enable a man here to go to the Minister and say: "I want a special sub-quota for three months for New York." For a few weeks there might be an inflated price for a limited quantity of bacon. If the British market and the home sales market are capable of absorbing all the pigs in a given quota period, and if you suddenly take from the home market 1,000 pigs and ship them to New York, which on its merits is a very good thing to do, because you get an extra profit for our people, you might completely dislocate the home market and create an artificial scarcity.
Is it not more likely that bacon curers having regular contracts with wholesale customers in Saorstát Eireann would simply demand higher prices——
——rather than supply them for the sake of meeting a temporary, fortuitous demand in another market?
The Deputy does not understand it. It is not the manufacturer who will quarrel with his wholesale customer. He will not ask the Minister to transfer part of the home sales quota over to the external sales quota. He will go to the Minister and tell him that he has got a share of the British quota, and a share of the home sales quota, and that he wants a special additional external sales quota. He then goes into the market here to get pigs to supply that special additional quota. He continues to supply his customers here and his British customers, but he goes into the open market, or wherever he can get them, for extra pigs to fill the quota for despatch under the external sales quota to America. If there is a growing pig population in this country it is all to the good. The more external sales quota we can get the better. That is one of the alternative markets that has materialised from time to time. But no provision was made for this, and if you want to keep that market you must sacrifice part of the home sales. That was an awkward situation, but they devised a way of getting around it, and very sensibly it is now proposed to make regulations for dealing with it. Now that we are making the regulations, let us face the difficulty. We ought to consider whether it would not be right, either to create some reserve of pigs when fixing the home sales quota, out of which this demand could be met, or deliberately say we will have to bring in pigs to meet that demand. It is not right or fair to deny home producers of pigs the additional price that a temporary scarcity entitles them to.
Nevertheless, taking the long view, experience has taught us that from the producers' point of view it does not pay to have pigs fetching 90/- per cwt. in February and 45/- in October. If we allow the system of having a temporary acute scarcity to reappear, as a result of the external sales quota, we are going to get back to the worst feature of the old dispensation of alternating acute scarcity. Surely the whole purpose of the legislation was to avoid that. I remember the year before last about 600 pigs a week going to America for a short period. There was a short period during which a sky-bottom price was obtainable in America. It was during that period that the full impact of "A.A.A." had hit hogs in America, and there had been an immense slaughter of hogs, as a result of which there was a fearful shortage of bacon for a time, and we filled the gap. It upset the whole machinery. Does the Minister not agree, therefore, that if we do not make provision for the extra external supplies quota we may have an alternating scarcity?
We ought to be clear about this question. It is very difficult to forecast the number of pigs that will be produced in this country in the coming year. An attempt is made to calculate the number in November, before the year comes in. We must make some calculation as to what we think we can afford to export to Great Britain. When making the forecast we try to allow sufficient pigs for home producers and the surplus for export to Great Britain. There are regular markets in New York and Paris and a few small ones that are regular and good. I think these small external markets ought at all times to be maintained. I regard them as being just as important as the British market. Taking what the Deputy mentioned now, supposing we found suddenly that there was a market for 600 pigs a week, I think it should not be filled unless we were perfectly sure that we had home consumers supplied. That would be the policy which would direct us. With regard to allowing curers to bring in pigs, that question has to be looked upon, to a great extent, in the light of existing circumstances. Certainly, I would not like to see that established as a continual policy, but if, by bringing in a few hundred pigs at a time when they were very scarce, we might ease the situation somewhat, I do not see any objection. We will never import very many pigs and we cannot rely upon that source to fill up any deficiency to any extent. It is a very small matter. It might suit certain curers nearer the Border to get over their difficulties but, to get over a general shortage in the Free State I do not think it would count for anything. If the Deputy asks me what I think the policy should be, I would say that we should try and fill any quotas we have. At the moment, we have only a quota with Great Britain. But, supposing America were to adopt the quota system, and we undertook to export so much bacon per annum to the United States under the quota, I think we would have to maintain it. Perhaps it is lucky for us that they have not a quota. There is a small market there that certain curers would very much like to maintain and not lose under any circumstances. Beyond that, however, I think that a great deal would depend on whether we have a surplus of pigs here for home consumption.
I should like to direct Deputy Moore's attention particularly to this. Does the Minister realise what an astonishing vindication of his predecessor's policy he has now announced?
What is that?
It is this interesting fact—that we are coming to the point when we can make a great fortune for our pig producers by exporting Irish bacon at fancy prices. There does come a time when you have to make up your mind whether you will reject your foreign markets and refuse to supply them, or supply them and create a scarcity at home. When confronted with a scarcity at home, you have to ask yourself two questions. Shall we scourge the home consumer, or shall we see that he gets a fair deal, and at the same time extend the foreign markets? When you ask yourself that question, you say: shall we bring in pigs or shall we bring in bacon? We could have got in New York last spring 1/4 per lb. for Irish bacon delivered on New York quay. We could have brought in Danish bacon and sold it here to our own customers for about 11d per lb.
Why do not the Danes export to New York?
Because it is an Irish bacon market we are supplying. We are driven eventually to the point of saying: shall we reject our foreign markets and restrict the production of our farmers? Shall we forbid them to expand, or shall we tell them, "Expand to your limit and, whatever happens, so long as you are profiting by expanding and making further money, enriching the community, bringing in wealth into the country and into your own pockets, go straight ahead; that is good work, and the Government will look after the Irish consumer." If the situation ever arises and you want the home consumer to hold up your hand to maintain the business, the consumer will swing into line and help by any reasonable contribution you ask of him. So long as you keep a flexible, open mind on this question, you can carry on and develop your foreign trade and enrich the community as a whole. Once get tied up in the narrow, rigid position that you must absolutely prohibit the entry into this country of any manufactured article under any circumstances——
The Deputy is getting near the permissible limit on that point.
What are we going to do when working the external sales quota? There is a British quota and a home quota and the external sales quota. What are we going to do? We must face the question. Whose bacon is to go to America? Is it the British? Because if it is, we are going to lose the British market for so much as is sent to America. Is it our own people's bacon? If it is, it will raise the price at home to a fancy price, and some people will have to go without bacon. Are we to bring in pigs? Or shall we say that, if we sell a thousand sides of bacon in New York, thereby creating a shortage here in Ireland, we will bring in bacon to fill that shortage, and turn to our producers and say: "We have been left short of one thousand sides of bacon, or 500 pigs, in this period; we had to bring in bacon to fill it; be sure you will have sufficient pigs this time 12 months to meet the demand"? Or, will we go to Ulster and buy Ulster pigs and bring them in here and establish a system that our own producers will be held down and prevented from increasing the production of pigs; so that eventually Irish factories will be working to get markets not for the pigs of our own people, not for the pigs of the residents of this State; that we will be working and getting a market abroad for the pigs of Ulster and Great Britain? That is what we are doing to-day.
The Minister says that in his judgment it might be a practice on the Border to buy a few pigs across the Border. 300 pigs were delivered at Waterford yesterday from Lisburn. It is too long a journey for the pigs, and the pigs are no better of it, and the producers here will be no better of it. Actually, at present our factories are making a market, taxing our own people here, to sell the pigs of the Northern Ireland farmer.
They are our people.
Most emphatically they are our people. I earnestly hope and pray of Deputies in Deputy Mrs. Concannon's Party to recognise that they are and realise that it serves no purpose to be continuously twisting their tails; it does not bring a lot of things any nearer. For the time being, economically speaking, a Six-County pig is as much a foreign pig——
——as an English, Welsh or Scotch pig. I do not expect Deputy Mrs. Concannon's tender heart to allow dry-as-dust economics to affect her in this matter, but I beg her not to introduce sentiment into the extremely practical discussion between myself and the Minister.
It is only practical on one side, so far as I can see.
The Deputy has slept peacefully in this House since three o'clock, and I suggest that he ought to go back to sleep until he is called upon to make a useful intervention in debate. At the present moment we are bringing in Ulster pigs and they are being used to fill our markets. This good amendment of the Minister's threatens to perpetuate that system. I want to know—does he want the system to go on?
Does the Deputy think it preferable to bring in bacon rather than pigs?
If we foresaw a steadily expanding market, yes.
Because if you bring in pigs, the tendency will be to prevent our people producing pigs hereafter. I would sooner bring in as much bacon as the consumers would want from time to time, and, by propaganda and example, induce our people steadily to increase their pig production. I do not think we ought to be bringing in pigs to compete with our own pig producers here. I regard agriculture as the most important industry in the country, and I consider that the development of agriculture is of infinitely more importance than the development of anything else. I would much sooner see our people producing those goods for which they can find a market abroad. The more stuff they sell abroad, the more international trade we have, the better we will be.
I would much sooner see our people producing the stuff themselves to supply foreign markets rather than buying the raw materials abroad, bringing them in here and slaughtering them, putting a handful of salt on them, and sending them out as bacon. There is ten times as much work and as much employment given and ten times as much increase in national wealth in rearing a bonham from the sucker age to the bacon pig age than in curing the pig. If the interests of either are to be jeopardised temporarily by the unforeseen situation arising out of this amendment it should not be that of the pig producer, because from the point of view of Ireland and the people and from the point of view of employment, every pig that is produced is worth 20 sides of bacon.
I do not say that bacon coming in is preferable to pigs coming in. But we can replace either of them as time goes on. Why does the Deputy argue that it would be better to bring in bacon than to bring in pigs?
Because it is calculated to standardise production. If the supplies forthcoming are not equal to the demand, I would much prefer that the bacon would come into the vacuum created so that the bacon curer will co-operate in encouraging the farmer to supply the market. Remember, the curer does not care a fiddle-dee-dee where he gets his pig so long as he gets his profit for converting the pig into bacon. As a matter of fact, it may pay him better to get his pigs in Northern Ireland. But we can put pressure on him to pay the farmer a better price for his bacon. Curers in this country at the present time are buying cheap pigs in Northern Ireland. I do not think it is a good thing to let in pigs at all. I want to see that every pig that is killed in the Saorstát is a Saorstát pig, and that Irish bacon comes from an Irish pig.
That is a Partition speech.
Does the Deputy think so? I will discuss Partition with Deputy Mrs. Concannon on another occasion. Much as I would like to discuss Partition now, I do not think the patience of the House or of the Ceann Comhairle would allow us. But really, does the Deputy say that we are to import pigs from Northern Ireland and from Great Britain?
That would not be importing.
Will Deputy Donnelly answer this question: Does he stand for the importation of pigs?
I stand for all connection that is possible with Northern Ireland, and the more connection we have with them under any head the better it will be for the country as a whole.
Deputy Donnelly avoids my question. Does Deputy Donnelly think that we are to go out and import cheap pigs from Fermanagh in order to beat down the prices of pigs produced in Deputy Smith's constituency in Cavan? Does the Deputy stand for that?
I stand for as much trade as there is a possibility of doing between the whole of the 32 counties in Ireland.
I notice Deputy Smith is keeping his eagle eye on this question. But I do not think he will say that these cheap Tyrone or Fermanagh pigs should be imported into Cavan.
The importation of cheap bacon would have the same effect.
No, because not one single ounce of bacon would come in until every pound of bacon produced from Irish pigs had been disposed of.
And not a pig either.
Precisely, but I would sooner see neither come in if we had enough bacon to meet everybody, but if either is to come in let the bacon come in. If anything is to come in it should be the bacon. That would keep down the profit of the curer. Somebody is going to suffer if scarcity is avoided. If the scarcity is not avoided the consumer will suffer. If it is avoided either the consumer or the processers will suffer. The latter would lose some of the fictitious profit that would accrue to them. If either is to suffer, I want the curer to suffer, not the producer, because the producer is an infinitely more important person than the curer. His contribution to the production of bacon is more profitable to the community as a whole than is the contribution of the curer.
Would not a reduction in the price of bacon have the same effect —would it not reduce the price of pigs?
Deputy Dillon argues that because we are allowing in pigs we are bringing down the price of our own pigs. That is untrue.
It is quite true. I sold seven pigs in Ballaghaderreen recently and I got 82/- a cwt. for them——
The man who paid 82/- a cwt. for pigs in Ballaghaderreen was breaking the law.
If a man offers me 82/- a cwt. for pigs, I will accept that price. I am not bound by law to take less.
The Deputy is not bound to take less, but the man who offers him 82/- is breaking the law.
I know this: that I got 82/- a cwt. for them in Ballaghaderreen, but I know that the day the Lisburn pigs crossed the Border, down went the price of pigs by 15/- a cwt.
Will the Deputy say that again?
I have said that I got 82/- a cwt. for bacon pigs in Ballaghaderreen. The Minister says that the man who paid that price broke the law. The fixed price that day, I think, was 73/- or 75/- a cwt., delivered in the factory. The Lisburn pigs crossed the Border for killing in Waterford, and as soon as they set foot on the Irish Free State soil the price of pigs fell by 15/- a cwt. in Ballaghaderreen and in other Irish towns.
It would be a good thing for the consumers if there was no Partition.
I thought the Deputy would say that. Now, my pigs were brought to some factory and converted into bacon. Half that bacon was sent to Liverpool and it was sold to the English consumer at 83/- a cwt. Half of it was sent to Dublin and it was sold to Deputy Donnelly and other Irish consumers at 116/- to 120/- a cwt.
The Deputy sees that the home market is always the best.
Not at all. That is not the point. Poor Deputy Donnelly paid a tax of 4d. a lb. on his rasher of bacon this morning and the same bacon is being sold in England at 1/- a lb. even after paying the export bounty on it.
What has all that to do with the price of bacon in Liverpool?
That was drawn out of me.
But the Deputy should not invite interruptions.
I want to contradict flatly that there is any such tax as 4d. a lb. on bacon. If the Deputy is referring to a hypothetical levy——
I am not referring to that.
The Deputy says bacon was sold at 1/- a lb. in England. If the Deputy will look at the prices in England he will find that the price the consumer is paying is 1/4 a lb. for lots of from 10 to 14 lbs. of bacon, and on smaller lots the price is 1/8 to 1/10 a lb., and the best rashers are 2/- a lb.
Does the Minister deny that the current price in Liverpool is 83/- a cwt.?
I am talking about the consumer in England.
Is not 83/- a cwt. the price of bacon in Liverpool?
It is not the price to the consumer.
The Chair will not hear the Deputy or the Minister further on the price of bacon in England.
Amendment No. 20 is the same as amendment No. 11.
I move amendment No. 21:
In sub-section (2), page 14, line 24, to delete the words "cold store" and substitute the words "other premises."
There is no reason for keeping the words "cold store" there. This applies to any removal of bacon. If bacon is removed from the premises, we must regard it as going on sale, whether it goes to a cold store or anywhere else.
Why does the Minister want to put a penalty on people for failure to export bacon up to the amount of the external-sales sub-quota? Why should there be a penalty for a failure of that kind? I can understand you putting a penalty on a man for failing to fill his British quota, because if an individual fails in that respcet the nation will suffer, as the British will cut down the quota on the next occasion. But an external-sales sub-quota is an entirely different transaction.
The position is that a firm comes and undertakes to fill a sub-quota. That firm gets an allocation on that understanding, and we must see that the firm fills the sub-quota. An individual is not bound to undertake and is not bound to apply, but if he applies he must fill the sub-quota allocated to him.
Otherwise, you might possibly have a curer coming along and taking over what is a good external market from somebody else and then he might not fill the sub-quota allocated to him. His application is granted on the understanding that he is going to take over the external market.
You cannot take the market from me unless there is a quota. Suppose I apply for a licence to export to an external market, the Minister does not inquire to whom I am going to send the bacon. All he will say is: "Go ahead; if you can sell 100 pigs in New York, you are free to do so and we will give you an external-sales sub-quota." Suppose another man makes a similar request. If 50 curers all send 100 pigs to New York "on spec," they are perfectly free to do so.
They are, "on spec."
Yes, or any other way. The point is, why should you impose a penalty on a man for not filling a quota? The failure to fill it hurts no one but himself.
It hurts everybody else. He gets his sub-quota on the understanding that he will fill it.
He cannot sell unless in the external market.
They do it, all the same.
Of course, if the Minister says it is impossible to enforce the law, I understand what his position is; but it ought not to be.
I do not agree with the Deputy that you cannot do any harm. I do not know how this trade with New York is run in detail, but in the case of butter, I have seen instances where a creamery had a connection with a very good customer; another creamery comes along and undercuts, with the result that the first connection is broken. The second man who has undercut gets in, but he is not satisfactory and eventually the whole business is lost. The same may happen here. You may have a good connection with a buyer in New York and a bacon curer here. Another curer here may intervene and quote a lesser price and eventually the whole trade may be lost, just as in the case of the butter.
We are getting into a dangerous field here. You are now endeavouring to regulate the entire export trade and restrict our producers from competition. You may think it the right thing to do, but others may have a contrary opinion. If the Department or the Pigs Marketing Board are going to poke their noses between the purchaser and the vendor, between our curers and purchasers in America, will that be a wise thing?
The curer is perfectly entitled to do business if he so wishes, but if he makes application and signs an undertaking that he will, if granted a certain quota, export so much during the coming period, he is compelled to do it, but there is no more regulation beyond that.
I believe you will have to amend that. I have seen cases where men exported bacon to New York and they found that the bacon got knocked about so much that they had to tell the consignee that they could not go on with the business. Maybe the type of boat in which the bacon was sent had not proper accommodation and it was delivered in a bad condition. I can imagine a fellow here taking an external-sales quota for two months, and at the end of the first month, finding that the bacon was being so knocked about in the hands of the shipping company that he was losing money on it, and he would be anxious to chuck the whole thing.
If the Deputy would watch the cases the Department bring to the courts in this connection, he would observe that the district justice in many instances would not agree with the Department that there should be a penalty inflicted.
I do not believe in putting things into the statute law which you do not intend to enforce.
Where there is a good defence, naturally there would be reluctance to inflict a penalty.
Where there is a reasonable reason, neither the board nor the Minister will institute a prosecution?
It is only the board in this case. They know there is no chance of succeeding if there is a reasonable defence.
I move amendment No. 22:—
In sub-section (2), page 14, line 46, to delete the words "cold store" and substitute the words "other premises".
I should like to withdraw amendment No. 23, which proposes a new section. I want to re-draft it in certain respects.
I move amendment No. 24:—
Before Section 33 to insert a new section as follows:—
Section 114 of the Principal Act is hereby amended by the deletion of the words "by order" and Part III of the Principal Act shall be construed and have effect accordingly.
It is merely a drafting amendment.
What is the significance of deleting the words "by order"?
The significance is this. The chairman of the board is getting certain powers here, and if those words were not withdrawn it would mean that the chairman would have a veto, where there was any disagreement on the board, on everything the board was doing. By removing these words he retains a veto only over the matters mentioned in the Principal Act, such as the fixing of a quota, and these powers were deliberately given to enable him to decide where there was any disagreement on the board. It was only meant in this way, that if the board were discussing, let us say, the sort of form they would send to the curers to fill up, the chairman should have a complete casting vote in case of disagreement.
I move amendment No. 25:—
In sub-section (1), page 13, line 47, to insert before the word "and" the words "the nature of the business carried on by such person,".
There are three or four amendments which I think I would like to speak on together. This deals with the question of ascertaining the basis on which compensation will be paid. As the section stands, it is very restricted. The Arbitration Board, if such is appointed, would be compelled to grant compensation strictly on the amount of bacon produced within a certain period. It has been pointed out to me by some of the small curers that other considerations should be taken into account, and this is put in to give the arbitration board some latitude in that they must take the nature of the business carried on by such a person into account. One person may have engaged in it as a side line, being a grocer, and another person may have been almost solely dependent on it during certain periods of the year, and I think it well that they should have power to take these matters into consideration when assessing the compensation to be paid.
The second matter with which I might deal now is that, as the section stands, even if we found it difficult, and perhaps impossible, to compel even one factory out of the 31 to disclose its figures during a certain period without going to the High Court or some such authority, we should have to go through that procedure, and this second amendment is put in to provide that if the chairman of the board is satisfied, after examining the accounts of two-thirds, or three-fourths, or of all the factories except one, that the average net profit for a certain period is such an amount, he will certify it and the arbitration can proceed.
Would that be conclusive evidence of these profits?
It would be taken as conclusive as a basis on which the arbitration board could proceed to compensate. They must get two figures before they can proceed: firstly, the number of pigs produced by the person in a certain period and we are adding to that "the nature of the business carried on," and, secondly, the average profits derived by all bacon factories over a certain period. Having got these figures, the arbitration board will make up its mind as to whether it should give 20 years' compensation or 15 years' compensation.
The average profit of all the factories and not the average profit of the factory which has elected not to go on?
No, of all the factories. These are the points we are trying to cover here. I am, as a matter of fact, contemplating a further amendment, which I hope to introduce on Report Stage, which will, perhaps, cover the amendment which Deputy McGilligan has down later. His amendment suggests the 36 months ending on the 31st day of March, 1938. I should like to accept that amendment, but we could not get reliable figures over all that period. We could get them for the year we have already got in the Bill and for the year ending 31st March, 1938, and I shall be quite prepared to bring that in on Report and to let the average production be taken as the average of the two years. There is an intervening year for which we cannot get the figures. In the first year we have mentioned we have the figures from the Revenue Commissioners who collected excise duty at the time, and for the other year we would have figures from the returns made by minor curers to the Bacon Marketing Board on the business done up to 31st March last; so that instead of taking the three years Deputy McGilligan suggests, we could take the year already in the Bill and last year, and get the average of the two years.
This section relates solely to those minor curers who elect not to bring their premises up to the requirements of the legislation and, accordingly, to withdraw from business?
And also persons who did not qualify to become minor curers.
Who did not elect to expand up to the qualification level?
I move amendment No. 26:—
In sub-section (1), page 15, line 47, to insert before the words "the average net profit" the words "the sum which is certified in writing by the chairman of the board to have been".
I want to be quite clear that what the chairman of the board will certify is not to be taken finally as evidence of the actual profits made by a retiring concern.
All he can certify, for the guidance of the arbitrator, is that the average profit made by all the curers of Ireland, large and small, was so much?
That is right.
It is purely an item of information for the arbitrator?
I move amendment No. 28:—
In sub-section (2), page 16, line 6, to insert before the word "and" the words "the nature of the business carried on by such person."
I move amendment No. 29:—
In sub-section (2), page 16, line 6, to insert before the words "the average net profit" the words "the sum which is certified in writing by the chairman of the board to have been".
I move amendment No. 30:—
In sub-section (7), page 16, line 27, to insert after the word "section" the words "and any expenses incurred by the board in relation to any arbitration under this section".
As the section stands, if the chairman of the Bacon Marketing Board were to employ an accountant to get this information, there is no provision for the payment of any expenses in that connection. This is put in to cover any expenses, which, of course, are payable out of the funds of the Bacon Marketing Board.
Would it not be better to say "any reasonable expenses"? The term "any expenses" is very wide.
I think "any expenses" is the usual form.
Who is to decide whether they are reasonable or not?
I move amendment No. 31:—
Before Section 37 to insert a new section as follows:—
(1) Any licensee may with the consent of the Minister sell or otherwise convey his licence to another licensee.
(2) No assignee of a licence under this section shall, unless with the approval of the Minister, cease to operate the licensed establishment acquired with the licence under such a transaction as is referred to in sub-section (1) of this section.
(3) Any moneys payable on foot of a transaction such as is referred to in this section shall be payable out of the funds of the licensee to whom the assigned licence has been transferred.
It is agreed now between both sides of this House that any tendency towards monopoly in the bacon curing business is, from the national point of view, undesirable, and that it is perfectly legitimate to take any steps that may be necessary to prevent such a development. I take the view that no steps we can take here can be absolutely guaranteed effectively to prevent the development of monopoly if we are concerned to maintain, at the same time, the system of private enterprise and capital. I regard it as vital to the best interests of all those interested in the production of pigs and bacon that the system of individual enterprise and capitalism should be maintained, because I am convinced that that system will yield to the producer, the processor and the consumer the maximum return that can be got out of the business of producing and manufacturing pigs into bacon. Therefore, I think we should take reasonable precautions to prevent monopoly developing and at the same time take occasion now to warn potential monopolists that, if they succeed in circumventing the precautions taken by this House to prevent monopoly and effect a monopoly in spite of the Government of the country, whatever Government is in office will take over that monopoly for a sum substantially less than its intrinsic value, and operate it on socialistic lines as a State monopoly.
Monopoly is hateful, but if you have to have monopoly, if you cannot prevent monopoly, a monopoly in the hands of a Government is less hateful than a monopoly in the hands of an exploiting individual, because, at least, a Government is responsible to somebody and an exploiting individual is responsible to nobody and is free to knock out of the consumer and producer as much as he can. I have, therefore, put down this amendment, and amendment No. 32, which I cannot move——
——or discuss. However, I do not think the Rules of Order prevent those who have the amendments before them reading it secretly, provided they do not utter the sacrilegious words which my proposed amendment contains. Taking this amendment as moved and adopted, and amendment No. 32 as being set on the Paper, although it cannot be moved and cannot be adopted, it is a formal notice from this side of the House that if we are responsible and have the right, as we would have if we were in government, to put down that amendment, we would put it down in the event of a monopoly being formed. That is notice to the monopolists. If the Minister will say that the spirit enshrined in that amendment corresponds closely to his own feelings in this matter, then all orders of monopolists in this country have full and fair notice that, if they succeed in their purpose of creating a monopoly, on that day their entire property will be taken from them at a fixed price.
The Deputy is not now dealing with the amendment.
I can say all that on the section. I can advocate a public charge but I cannot move for a public charge. No monopoly will be tolerated and, whatever Government is in office, it should be understood that we will take all and any measures to correct monopolies. The point I want to make clear is that the only way we can do that is to warn them beforehand, because the fundamental law of this country does not permit the confiscation of any man's goods, whether he be a good citizen or not. It is not confiscation if you warn a man in due time that if he, by his own action, converts his property into a particular kind of menace to the community, the community will take over that property, telling him now what it will be worth to the community when the occasion arises for them to take it over.
That is not confiscation, because there is no necessity for this man or any group of men who are forewarned creating a monopoly. They need not create a monopoly. They can continue to compete amongst one another and preserve the system of individual enterprise. If they do not do that, and if they attempt, by monopoly, to enrich themselves, they should realise that they will destroy the greater part of their own property and that they do that with their eyes open, knowing what they are doing. More than that I do not think that this House or any Government ought to be expected to do.
The Deputy is moving an amendment for which there is no great necessity, as will be realised when we consider the powers under the Principal Act. Sub-section (1) of this amendment reads: "Any licensee may, with the consent of the Minister, sell or otherwise convey his licence to another licensee." That is perfectly clear in the Act. One licensee can sell to another licensee only with the consent of the Minister. Sub-section (2) of the amendment is the really important portion of it. It says: "No assignee of a licence under this section shall, unless with the approval of the Minister, cease to operate the licensed establishment acquired with the licence under such a transaction as is referred to in sub-section (1) of this section." I assume that what the Deputy is getting at is this—that he does not want a big concern to buy out a small concern and take over the quota. That is impossible. If a small concern is closed, whether bought by a big concern or not, the quota goes into the pool. The big concern cannot take over the quota attached to the small concern unless it continues to run it. It must continue to operate the factory if it wants to avail of the quota. If it closes a factory, it has no right to the quota. The quota is, in these circumstances, thrown into the pool and distributed amongst all the curers. That is the position as the law stands, and there is no necessity for the amendment.
The third part of the amendment is consequential—that the money involved shall be payable out of the funds of the licensee to whom the assigned licence has been transferred. Seeing that the position is that if a firm goes out of business, the total quota attached to that business is distributed, according to certain proportions, amongst all the others, it is only fair that they should all pay proportionately to the firm that is going out. If the largest firm in the country gets 25 per cent. of the quota of the firm going out, then they should pay 25 per cent. of the cost of going out. If the smallest firm gets only .5 per cent. of the quota, they should pay only .5 per cent. of the cost of the firm going out. By putting this charge on the Bacon Marketing Fund that is exactly what will happen. The levy will be raised on each factory according to its production, and it will pay exactly what it ought to pay. I think that the system provided for in the section is very fair. There is no danger of the position contemplated by the Deputy because it does not pay a large firm to buy out small firms. Take the largest firm in the country, for example. Under the present system they would only pay 25 per cent., but if they were to buy out another firm directly and close them down, they would have to pay 100 per cent. There is no danger from the direction from which it was apprehended by the Deputy. I agree that it would be a very dangerous thing if there were any possibility of a large firm buying out small firms and having the quotas transferred to their own factories. That is a thing we should have to deal with, but I think it is adequately dealt with in our legislation as it stands.
The Minister is quite mistaken in imagining that the danger I envisage could not arise. Suppose a large curer buys the premises and business of a small curer, as he will be under this Bill—a man who is a minor curer and who will have graduated into being a small curer—and carries on for six months. Suppose the quota of the larger curer is 1,000 pigs a week and the quota of the small curer 50 pigs per week. He buys out the small man and carries on the business under the name of, say, William Smith and Son.
It is the premises that matter.
And the name?
The name and the premises.
Suppose William Smith and Son are doing 1,000 pigs a week at Tralee and they buy out Henry Brown and Son, who are operating in a neighbouring town. They paint out the name of Henry Brown and put up the name of William Smith and Son. They now operate the two establishments as William Smith and Son. After six months, they produce 1,025 pigs in Tralee and 25 pigs in Henry Brown's old premises. Then, they produce 1,049 pigs in Tralee and only one pig in Henry Brown's premises.
They could not do that.
What is to prevent them?
They would have to pass two barriers before getting to that stage. In the first place, they could not change the name from Henry Brown to William Smith without the permission of the Minister for Agriculture. If a firm is registered as Brown and Co., another person could come in and buy the shares. That may be a defect in the original Act. The name would, however, continue to be Brown and Co. The ownership of the factory could not be changed without the permission of the Minister. If they were to get over that obstacle, they could not transfer a single pig from one factory to another. The board must, under the Act, allocate on the basis of the production in 1934 at the premises in Tralee or the other premises. They allocate each time, and it does not matter in the least whether the same man owns the two factories or not. I think that at present we have one owner with two factories, but he cannot expect to transfer from one factory to the other under the present legislation.
If the Minister makes that positive statement, and says it is correct, of course I accept it, but it astonishes me to learn that, in pursuit of an agreement between two factories, part of the actual production of pigs cannot be moved from one premises to the other, provided the ownership of the premises is in the one individual.
No, it cannot.
I think it has been done.
I do not think so. In fact, I think that even if the board were willing to connive at that it would be an illegal thing for it to do. In fact, I am certain it would.
I invited the Minister to look into it because I believed it had been done, and it was because I thought it was going to be done to a greater extent in the future that I pressed the amendment. But, let us consider carefully the difference between the classes of persons mentioned in Section 36. Remember there are two very distinct classes of persons. One is the man who is a minor curer and who, for one reason or another, elects not to become a small curer at all but to go out of business because he does not want to conform to the Department's regulations, or because it is too expensive to put his premises into proper repair, or it may be because he does not care to do the kind of business which is spread over 45 weeks of the year. Now, that man is going out because the Minister and the Executive Council have made up their minds that, for the protection of the pig industry as a whole, it is desirable that Irish bacon should have the reputation of being manufactured in factories which have reached a certain standard of perfection. If the community chooses to make a regulation of that kind with a view to making the industry as a whole, right up from the birth of the pig to the sale of the side of bacon, more profitable for those concerned in it, it is fair to say that the person who is being squeezed out, in order to attain that standard of excellence, is entitled to look for compensation, because his being squeezed out is going to improve the demand and the price of bacon right up from the sow to the bacon slicer.
But, once you have done that, you come up against an entirely new type of person, the person who has qualified, but who, for some domestic reason, wants to get out of bacon curing. Perhaps he wants to retire from the business to go into some other venture, but in any case he wants to get out of bacon curing. It is perfectly legitimate for that man to sell his business as he would sell anything else. But, suppose he does not want to sell his business, to put up the shutters or to close down and to clear out, under this Bill he is apparently entitled to apply to the Bacon Marketing Board for compensation. He is in an entirely different position from the other fellow. I do not object for a moment to his being entitled to sell this business, provided the Minister is satisfied that the person who proposes to buy it is going to carry it on in the district. If he does not propose to carry on the business in the district, there is no use in his buying it because he will not get a licence. If no existing curer is prepared to buy the business, then let the Minister give the licence to some new man who is prepared to come into the business.
Why should those curers who are having their business guaranteed to them and who are getting very valuable concessions under this Bill be put in a privileged position such as no other business in Ireland is put in, the privileged position that when they want to retire from business they are going to get a fixed price for it, without selling it at all or doing anything other than putting up the shutters. Is that desirable? Under my amendment we would guarantee permanency to every small curer in the country. From the point of view of the labourers employed in the factory, we guarantee them their jobs, and we guarantee to the neighbouring people who produce pigs a market.
Under the Minister's proposal, we are tempting the little man to put up the shutters, to dismiss his men, and to tell the neighbours that he will not take their pigs any more: that he is going to the Bacon Marketing Board to get compensation because he is clearing out. Does not the Minister think that immense pressure will be brought to bear on such a man? I can imagine some of the big men going to him and saying, "We are prepared to do this for you: if you put up your shutters, throw in your hand and close up your factory, we will give you 50 per cent. over and above the arbitrator's award out of our good will just to get you out of business." In that way you may get every factory in Ireland closed except the big concerns. Under my proposal the big concerns, if they want to get a man like that out, must buy him out in the ordinary course of business, having given the Minister an undertaking that they will carry on the business in the old factory. What is to prevent the bacon ring saying on the day that this Bill passes into law: "Let us get a super-salesman and instruct him to go around the country and say to each small curer `Throw in your hands, put up your shutters, sack your men, and apply for compensation to the arbitrator, and we will give you a bonus such as the landlords got under the Wyndham Land Act: we will give you 10 to 20 per cent. more than the arbitrator's award.' " In the event of such a thing happening, what can the Minister do to prevent the disappearance of the entire bacon trade into the hands of four or five men?
I can issue new licences.
I am informed that under the Principal Act there is a restriction on the Minister's power to issue new licences.
That only applies to minor curers who become licensees. The Minister may direct the Board to allocate any quota that he wishes to specify, and I think that is quite a good deterrent for what the Deputy has in mind. The Deputy, I think, will see that this section, taken with Section 37, was put in to cover cases of more or less the same type. You have three classes. You have, first, the factories which do not even qualify to become minor curers. They can be compensated under Section 36. Then we have those who were minor curers for the past two years and who may not qualify to become licensees. We are providing that they may be compensated at that stage. Thirdly, we had the factories—there was at least one—which went out of business although licensed at the time when they had to make certain reconstructions. They had to incur a good deal of capital expenditure under the Act. It is to cover that class that Section 37 was put in. It is not intended to apply in the wholesale way that the Deputy speaks of. The Bacon Marketing Board under this might, perhaps, close down a factory where there were obviously too many factories in a particular city or town, and, having done that, issue new licences to some persons to move to another town. I am not very keen on this section having general application. If it were to apply to cases that were going out as a result of this legislation, I would not be quite satisfied. I may perhaps be able to bring in an amendment on Report Stage to deal with this.
If you put in an amendment restricting the application of this to the case of the small curer who is really, in fact, in the position of the minor curer—that is, one who is fit, technically to qualify, but who, in fact, is not in a position at the moment to qualify—and if you have it limited in time, and combined with the statement from the Minister himself that we are all agreed that, generally, it is desirable to keep the small factory in existence, then I think that the necessity for my amendment falls. I take it, then, that the Minister agrees, generally, with the principle of my amendment?
Yes, and I hold that it is covered already.
And the Minister will bring in an amendment on the Report Stage to limit the time?
Well, yes, but I have not yet thought of the way in which it would be drafted.
Well, then, I withdraw my amendment.
I take it that the Deputy is referring to factories that may have to go out under this legislation?
The factories that are analogous to the fellow who cannot bring his factory under the required conditions.
I take it that Section 38 will have the same restrictive application as Section 37?
I wish, Sir, to withdraw amendment No. 33, to insert a new section before Section 40. It may be introduced on the Report Stage, but I should like to hear what the Minister has to say on the general question.
Is the Deputy sacrificing the principle of that amendment?
No. I propose to raise the principle contained in the amendment on the section, because it may be that the Minister and ourselves are at one on it. I am withdrawing the amendment in Deputy McGilligan's name, reserving the right to introduce it on the Report Stage.
My reason for asking the question is that I consider it to be a very important amendment.
Well, I do not want, to precipitate a split in the Fianna Fáil Party and I think that, by a little tactful argument on the section itself, we might be able to arrive at a substantial agreement. If we do not succeed in arriving at a substantial agreement, then we can lock horns on the Report Stage.
Well, it must be remembered that there is a very big difficulty here. I can quite understand Deputies arguing on the principle of this, but there is a very big difficulty. There is the question of departing altogether from the scheme of the Principal Act. Under the Principal Act we have a Pigs Marketing Board composed partly of producer members and partly of curer members, and a chairman. According to that Act, three curer members shall be elected in accordance with the Act by the Bacon Marketing Board, and three producer members shall be nominated in accordance with the Act. The curer members are persons who are ordinary members of the Bacon Marketing Board, and the producer members are persons who are representative of pig producers in the country.
To put a person representing the minor curers on that would be out of line with the legislation. There might be an argument for putting a person to represent them on the Bacon Marketing Board, if it is felt that the minor curers are not adequately represented on it. They are not adequately represented at present, but they will be. At present the case is that you have a certain number representing curers who produce between them about 80 per cent. of the production. There are not very many of these curers, and then there is the large number of minor curers —16 or 17 of them—although the quantity of bacon produced is very small. Accordingly, the number of people in the small category would be very large, as compared with the people in the other category— perhaps three times as large—but the smaller curers under the Principal Act would have only two representatives as against three representatives for the others. We could alter that representation in many ways, such as by amending the Principal Act by changing the limits obtaining at present with regard to those under 23,000 cwts. a year in the small curers' category and so on. That, however, would be a rather cumbersome way of amending the Act, and I think that the best way to amend this would be if we were to agree that these smaller curers should get better representation on the Bacon Marketing Board, and then they would naturally have their influence in getting representation on the Pigs Marketing Board. I think that is the best way to do it, and besides it would be more in line with the Principal Act. If I were to bring in an amendment on the Report Stage, it would be along these lines. I think that one or two small amendments would be sufficient if we were to follow along those lines, but I am afraid that, if we were to follow the lines suggested by Deputy McGilligan, a large number of consequential amendments would be necessary, and, as I say, it would be altogether out of line with the Principal Act. I would be prepared to bring in an amendment on the lines I have suggested, but it must be remembered that it could not apply until the next elective period, which would be about 1938.
My understanding of the Minister's proposal is that we might make a new category?
No, but that we might enlarge the representation.
Well, this amendment is designed principally to provide representation for the minor curers who are going to qualify as small curers.
Well, you can do either of two things: You can raise the smaller class from one to two, or from two to three, and so on, as the case may be, on the Bacon Marketing Board, or you can say that it shall consist hereafter of two from one class and one from the class of small curers who have been minor curers, and make them a new category. I see the Minister's difficulty. The difficulty is that, in the Principal Act, the representatives on the Bacon Marketing Board elect representatives on the Pigs Marketing Board, and if we were to put direct representatives on the Pigs Marketing Board, it would upset things. I forget how many representatives the Bacon Marketing Board can put on the Pigs Marketing Board.
Well, I would not be surprised if the Minister brought in an amendment designed to put these minor curers, who are to be small curers, in such a position as to have a representative for themselves on the Bacon Marketing Board. If that were done, I think that the point raised by Deputy McGilligan would be substantially met. I cannot say that with certainty, but I imagine that Deputy McGilligan's point would be met.
The Minister has not proposed to do that.
No, he has not; but as we are discussing the matter generally, I think that my suggestion is not inconsistent with what the Minister suggests.
Well, I would ask the Deputy to look at the Principal Act, and if he does so I am sure he will realise the enormous number of amendments that would be necessary in order to do that.
Would there be many amendments necessary in order to make a change such as this?
Yes. The other amendment, proposing an enlargement, would be different, however, and, in fact, it might be more resented by the small curers. It would be all right for the minor curers, at any rate, but I cannot guarantee as to the others.
Will the Minister look into the matter with a view to increasing the representation of the small curers, if it is determined to lump them all together?
Well, then, I think, Sir, it is wiser to withdraw Deputy McGilligan's amendment, and when Deputy McGilligan has perused the report of what has just now passed it may be unnecessary to put down an amendment on the Report Stage.
On the section, Sir: this deals with the elections of curer members of the Pigs Marketing Board and the nomination of producer members of the said board. Now, I am in a difficulty, because the rules of procedure in this House preclude Deputies from referring to persons who are not here to defend themselves. We have two producer members on the Pigs Marketing Board for the past two years. During that time, in my judgment, the interests of the producers have been absolutely jettisoned time after time. On one occasion at least, the producer members of the board came out and publicly admitted that they had consented to the price which had been fixed for pigs—a price which, they admitted, was wholly unsatisfactory considering the price of bacon. Deputies must remember that if one member of the Pigs Marketing Board says "No" to any proposal, then the determination of the question must be made by the chairman of the board. I quite see that the producer members might never be able to do more than to throw a decision into the hands of the chairman, but that they are always able to do, and if they found that the chairman consistently sacrificed the interests of the producers to those of the curers, they could, quite legitimately, go to the Minister and say: "We will no longer accept the responsibility which you put upon us by your nomination of us as producer members of the board. All we can do for the producer is to throw the decision into the hands of the chairman. We are of opinion that the chairman is not doing substantial justice to producers, and we shall no longer remain members of the board." They never have done that. I say they have most notoriously betrayed the interests of pig producers on divers occasions.
I ask the Minister: is he satisfied that both the gentlemen whom he nominated as producers' representatives on the Pigs Marketing Board have experience of raising pigs? One gentleman comes from the Midlands and the other comes from Cavan. I do not know anything about Cavan and I do not know whether the Cavan gentleman is a pig producer or not. As regards the gentleman who comes from the Midlands, I have no reason to believe that he has any long experience in pig-producing, but unless he is a gentleman who has some knowledge of the production costs of fattening pigs or a gentleman who has some knowledge of how the industry is carried on, he is not a fit person to sit on the board. I should be glad to hear from the Minister whether he is satisfied with the work these gentlemen have done, and if not, whether he will take steps to put on the board experienced producers who will not be afraid to voice the views of the average producer in the country and who will not be afraid, when the chairman has made a decision that, in their opinion, militates against the interests of the producers of the country, to throw up their jobs and to protest in public against the sacrifice of the interests which they were nominated to represent.
First of all, with regard to the three nominees who represent the producers——
I thought there were only two.
I am quite satisfied that they were experienced pig producers who had a very definite knowledge of costings and of pig-production. As a matter of fact, one of the gentlemen referred to had actually spoken publicly over the wireless and in many other places on that very subject of the costings of pig-feeding.
Many a man spoke over the wireless who knew damn little of what he was talking about.
I agree with the Deputy. But it was for that reason principally that these men were chosen—that they did devote attention to that subject and had a good knowledge of the costing business.
Does Mr. Bergin feed any pigs?
He does, so I was assured.
Is he a considerable pig feeder?
I could not say that. But I think that a man who feeds even, say, 12 pigs and who takes an intelligent interest in it and who goes into the costings——
Would be a very good man.
——would be a very good man and maybe a better man to represent producers than a man who is feeding 100 pigs.
The reason that the section was put down in this form and this change made is, not that I was dissatisfied with the representatives, but a three-year period makes it awkward in this way. First of all, we had three representatives and they were all there for one period. You may say that you must have some continuity and that you must leave at least some of three on the board in order to carry on the tradition whatever it may have been. I think it is not a good thing that a man should be led to think that he has a life interest in the job, as then he may not be so assiduous as he should be in representing the producers. That is why it is proposed to reduce the term of office to two years. We can take on one man at one time and two at another time. In that way you will have continuity and at the same time new blood coming in. That is the amendment of the section which is proposed, and I think the House will agree that the term should be shortened for that reason.
Is the Minister satisfied that these men have defended the interests of the pig producers?
Yes. I must say that on a few occasions I felt, as the Deputy feels now, that they had not put the producers' case as strongly as they might, but after inquiry from the chairman I did not feel that I was entitled to treat these men as schoolboys and say: "I will put you off if you do not do your business." After inquiry from the chairman, I must say that I was satisfied that they had done their best for the producers. The Deputy is working on the assumption that the curers could pay more. We are all inclined to think that, but we can only find out definitely when the Prices Tribunal reports.
I think definitely they could pay more.
It is a matter of judgment.
I might direct the attention of the Minister to the fact that there was a special section put into the Principal Act requiring the Pigs Marketing Board to have regard to the current cost of feeding stuffs.
I know they argued that point.
There was one occasion on which a producer member stated that they had not considered the cost of feeding stuffs.
I do not know that.
There was a meeting of pig producers in this city, and two at least of the producer members of the board were present. One of them admitted that they had not considered the cost of feeding stuffs, and the meeting proceeded on the assumption that they had objected to the prices fixed for pigs when somebody suddenly called out: "If you did not consider the price of feeding stuffs, how could you have objected to the price fixed?" Then the member said: "I fought it as long as I could, but in the end I had to agree to it for peace sake." If the Minister is not satisfied that some of these gentlemen have no practical experience in pig production, will he take steps to change them? I entirely agree with the Minister that the man who is in the habit of producing only 12 pigs may be just as useful as a man who is able to rear 200 pigs. In fact, I would rather have a big producer, a medium producer, and a small producer on this board representing producers as a whole. Is the Minister satisfied that any one of these gentlemen has no practical experience of pig production at all?
As a matter of fact, I think I would be bound to take action in that case under the Act.
What exactly is the purpose of this power to exclude certain types of pigs?
As the original Act stood the Pigs Marketing Board should have fixed a price for old sows, boars and so on, which was a very difficult thing to do. They now have the power to exclude certain classes like that and leave them a free market.
They will not have power under this section to exclude a type of pig? For instance, they would not have power to exclude large Ulster Whites?
The section refers to pigs of a kind. I do not see why they should not announce that large Ulster White pigs are "of a kind".
It is not the intention certainly. It may be very difficult to get wording to cover what the Deputy has in mind. What he has mentioned is certainly not the intention of the section. The only intention is with regard to old sows, boars and so on.
Would it not be better to put in there a saving clause that this power shall not be used to differentiate between breeds or types of pigs? Would not that be quite safe?
I do not know. I should like to think over that matter in order to see if the restriction would be awkward or likely to make the thing inoperative. We know what the intention is at any rate, and if I were to do anything I would much rather put in that, perhaps, the Order should receive some sort of sanction from some source—from the Minister or some other source. I think that to put in an amendment as suggested by the Deputy might destroy all the effect of the section.
I take it that this is designed to deal with boars, old sows and injured pigs?
No. Injured pigs are already covered. There is a clause covering that.
Then I cannot think of any other class of pigs except boars and sausage sows. Would the Minister alter the section to say that the board may exclude such types of pigs as the Minister may from time to time schedule?
"With the Minister's approval" might be better.
Very well. The Minister will put in the words "with the Minister's approval," and they will have to submit any exclusion to the Minister?
I move amendment No. 34:—
In page 18, line 32, to delete the words "one hour" and substitute the words "half-an-hour".
Under this Bill the pigs must be weighted immediately after slaughter, because under the Weights and Measures Act no curer is entitled to deduct the customary 3 lbs. which he has deducted up to this; that practice must stop. The weights and measures authorities will allow them to carry on, on the understanding that this Bill is coming in. When this Bill is passed they will have to pay on the full weight, and they must have the pig weighed hot. Certain curers put it to me that, if they were to avail of this section as it stands, that is, to wait for the hour, probably the producer would be deprived of the price of about 1 lb. of pork, and that any curer could weigh within half-an-hour. In that way the producer will be better safeguarded. We are, therefore, changing "one hour" to "half-an-hour."
Is the Minister satisfied that in all factories grading is being properly done? There have been bitter complaints against certain factories in regard to grading pigs into a lower class than they properly belonged to.
And, at times like this, putting them into a higher class? Previously, we had no effective control over them, but from 1st April on we have had a representative in each factory, and the grading can be supervised.
I move amendment No. 35:—
In sub-section (1) (b) (ii), page 22, line 18, to insert after the word "damage" the word "allowance."
This is a drafting amendment.
I move amendment No. 36:—
Before Section 58 to insert a new section as follows:—
(1) Where a pig is offered for sale at licensed premises or premises registered in the register of minor curers upon terms that the price thereof is to be determined after slaughter, it shall not be lawful for the licensee in respect of such licensed premises or the person registered in respect of such premises to purchase such pig except upon such terms.
(2) If any person being a licensee or registered minor curer purchases any pig in contravention of this section, such person shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding £10.
There has been, not exactly evasion, but some inconvenience, and even perhaps I might say illegality, practised on producers from time to time by certain factories. Where the producer sends his pigs to the factory to be purchased direct, the factory has agreed to take the pigs only on the live weight basis. This amendment would have the effect of compelling the factory to take them either on the dead weight or on the live weight basis, as the producer decides. I think Deputies will agree that that is a good provision, especially when pigs are plentiful. Of course, at the present time I need hardly say that the factories are very anxious to please, and will take them either on the dead weight or the live weight basis, as the producer may decide; but when pigs are plentiful, as they may be in the autumn, the factories will be more particular about the pigs they take. They will be more inclined not to take pigs at all if they can avoid it, but have agents out buying them lower than the fixed price. This is one amendment; there are other provisions coming along which will have the effect, in the first place, of compelling the factories to take pigs from any producer if the producer so opts, and under this amendment they are compelled also to take them by dead weight if the producer asks them to do so.
Does the amendment operate to prohibit a licensed curer paying a price over the fixed price?
It has nothing to do with that. The Principal Act does operate in that way.
It is an offence to pay more than the fixed price under the Principal Act. No one has been convicted for doing so, so far.
Is this section designed to remedy the position of a man who is being pressed to take less than the fixed price for his pigs?
I do not think so. It compels the factory to issue a certificate to the producer.
I move amendment No. 37:
In page 24, to delete line 13 and substitute the words "the words `in one or more counties, or, if authorised by the Minister, in a particular case in a particular area,' after the words."
At the moment pigs would only be purchased when there is a general surplus. This section gives power to purchase pigs where there is a surplus in a particular area or in a particular county. The amendment goes further and says that the board may purchase "in a particular case in a particular area." It may be necessary for the board at times to purchase pigs to get over a difficulty, although there is not a surplus. As some Deputies are aware there was a position in Donegal, in Monaghan and in some Border counties during last autumn, and the previous autumn which did not obtain in any parts of the South. There was not a general surplus, not even a county surplus, and if the factories in Donegal had played the game properly there would not have been any surplus. What was really happening was that agents were going around buying pigs and selling them to the factories. It was impossible to control that position under the Act as it stood.
This may be a rather drastic provision, but if the board goes to the Minister with a case and says that there is a position they cannot deal with unless they get an order to purchase pigs, if the Minister agrees there is a case, and gives permission, the board can go into an area and purchase pigs. God knows what they may do with them. They can either sell them direct to the factories or send them there to be cured on their account, export them as live pigs, or do all the other things mentioned in the Principal Act.
The only comment I have to make is that I do not see why the Minister does not avail of the machinery already there. This section is designed to achieve a very pious purpose but, at the same time, it finishes for all time the pig dealers of this country. This is giving the board permission, by its agents, to deal in pigs, whenever pigs are available for purchase, by persons other than the factories. The House has heard the Minister say that the board has power to sell to the factories, to get the pigs killed on their account or to export them. Why does the Minister not avail of the machinery of the Pig Dealers' Association? It includes a couple of hundred men, all of whom have their own connection in the British market, and can place every type of pig that is brought into a fair. They will sell a fat, heavy pig in one place, a pork pig in another place, a half-finished store pig in another district, and a forward store in another area. It does not matter what type of pig is brought to a market, the pig jobbers will be able to dispose of them in the best markets through one or other of the connections they have got in the trade. They are anxious to do it, and they can do it more efficiently and cheaper than any other machinery. We are now going to set up the Pigs Marketing Board to do that work. We all know what happens when Government Departments try to handle the extremely complex and difficult business of foreign trade. They generally make a mess of it. We know the lamentations there have been about the Government's experiments in selling eggs, in selling butter, in selling cattle abroad, and in selling fowl. Practically every commodity which they have sought to sell in foreign markets has resulted in catastrophic losses and ludicrous confusion. Some of the eggs that they sold to people in Spain are still unpaid for. A pair of chickens was exported to Belgium at one time and they did a tour of Europe before they found a refuge, I think, in Folkestone.
The Government had no eggs to sell.
They encouraged the people to sell them.
We encouraged trade.
And what has occurred is that the poor man has not yet been paid for his eggs.
In the case of the chickens, they started off, went to Antwerp, and were eventually left at Folkestone. The Government is not equipped to carry on foreign trade. Why does the Government not use the pig jobbers? I am satisfied that if there was a temporary surplus in a district, or if a factory was dishonestly paying people less than they were entitled to, the pig dealers would be prepared to go and create a market in any centres where the Minister agreed that the pigs should be taken from the people at a fair price, or dispose of them to factories or export them, whichever way would get the best price for the producers. Why does not the Minister do that? What hatred has he for the pig dealers? I have a long experience of cattle dealers and horse dealers, and I say without hesitation that you can always trust a pig dealer, less often you can trust a cattle dealer but you can never trust a horse dealer. That would be about their standing.
One particular dealer that we know of you could trust with nothing. The Deputy knows who I mean.
I do not. I am not personally acquainted with him.
He is a supporter of your Party under a different name.
Let us not name our supporters in this House because that would lead us farther astray than Claremorris and some of the embryos that Fianna Fáil gathered to their bosom there. I put it to the Minister that these pig dealers could make a material contribution to the industry, that they are an excellent body of men and that the effect of this section will be to destroy their business and to bankrupt some of them. They are there ready to do the job. They are good citizens. As the Government is always pleading the desire to create employment, why do they not leave these men their employment. They are quite prepared to earn their own living. They do not want to be helped by anyone. They are prepared to co-operate with the general policy laid down by the Oireachtas. Why attempt to destroy them, and to send comparatively inefficient people to do their job? Has the Minister considered the possibility of having what he wants done under this section being better done by seeking the co-operation of the pig dealers? I have reason to believe that if he asks the pig dealers he will get all the co-operation he wants. I am convinced that if he goes that way about his work it will be better done than it could be done under this section. Has the Minister consulted the pig dealers in this matter?
I told the Deputy on the Second Stage that we had tried that matter out in Donegal, that we had got the genuine pig dealers together, that we had advertised live pig markets in Donegal, issued special quotas for the export of live pigs by these dealers, and made arrangements with some of the factories in the South to take pigs from them. They tried that, but they were not very successful. They continued to go to the markets for some time, and eventually the markets fell through.
I could not say how long, but they went on for some time. It was not my Department that fell down in the matter, because we were prepared to continue to issue licences for the export of pigs as long as they would go to the markets. This amendment is aimed at alleged pig dealers.
That is a confusion of terms, because they are entirely different classes of men.
I want to make a distinction between them, because if I were to say that this was aimed at pig buyers the Deputy would say they were not the people he had in mind. This is aimed at alleged pig buyers who formed a ring, bought pigs below the fixed price, and sold them to the factory. I had the genuine pig buyer in mind, and that is why this particular amendment appears with the words in it, "if authorised by the Minister." I do not want the board, if they had any intention of doing so, to take over the buying of pigs entirely in this country. Therefore, I agreed to put in this amendment, that in particular cases, and for a limited time, if the board could convince me that they had a good case for operating this section, I would give them that permission, but it would be limited both in area and time. I think the Deputy need have no fears, because I personally would, and I believe the Department, as long as they can prevail on any other Minister who might be there, will advise him to resist the board if they were to ask for powers to do all the buying themselves. I can assure the Deputy that this power will be only used in a limited way and that the genuine pig buyer will be permitted to carry on, as he is at present, making a living. I might also say that when I put that matter to the board the board said to me that in all probability they would put this business through the genuine pig buyer, if such is to be got in the particular instance. I think the Deputy need not have any fear about that.
Will the Minister go so far as to say that he will advise and encourage the employment of genuine pig dealers in so far as he can?
Yes. As a matter of fact, I have already discussed that matter with the board, and they said, yes, certainly they would employ pig dealers.
Both of us should be on the one word on that matter, and it is a valuable advance.
I move amendment No. 38:—
In page 24, line 52, to delete the words "produced by him" and substitute the words "in his possession and at his own premises for at least four weeks before the date of such notice."
This again raises the question I referred to as the alleged dealers. This section enables a producer to send pigs direct to the factory, if he so wishes. If he notifies the board that he has pigs which he wishes to have consigned direct to the factory, the board may, under this section, authorise the factory to accept them. I am offering this amendment because the words "produced by him" might possibly be interpreted as meaning produced to the factory. I do not know exactly what the word "produced" in the section would mean, but it is better to make it clear that it would not be possible for an agent to go out and collect pigs, bring them in to his own premises, and then deliver them to the factory. It would destroy the whole effect of the section if that were permitted. We therefore provide that the pigs must be on the premises of the person for at least four weeks.
This section does not mean that you cannot tender a pig to a factory? Does it mean that—unless it has been on the premises for four weeks?
It compels the factory to take it.
The factory would be compelled to take any pig which has been in the possession of the person for four weeks?
If they have a licence to do so.
I move amendment No. 40:—
At the end of the section to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
(3) Every pig sold and delivered under an order made under this section shall be so sold and delivered upon terms that the price of such pig is to be determined after slaughter.
This also arose before. Under this, if pigs are consigned to a factory under this section, they must be sold by dead weight.
I should like the Minister to tell us is it, or is it not, true that the hypothetical price fund is now being used largely to help the Exchequer to pay subsidies. The original purpose of the hypothetical price fund was dual: (1) to make the price of pigs to the producer artificially attractive in the spring for the purpose of inducing the producer of bacon pigs to keep small potatoes, and such-like fortuitous food supplies, over from the date on which they came to hand until the spring, when they could be advantageously used from a community point of view in the production of pigs. Is not that so?
In fact, it has been largely used for subsidising exports of bacon to England when the bounty provided by the Exchequer did not equal the tariff paid on bacon. I submit that that was pure robbery of the producer, as every penny of the fund was taken from the producers in the autumn, because they were paid an artificially depressed price and they never got an artificially increased price. At the present moment, they are only getting 75/- for Grade A1 pigs; that means that they are getting an average price of between 70/- and 72/- for all the pigs delivered at the factory. Bacon is being sold at present in Saorstát Eireann at 116/- to 120/-.
If the curers are getting 120/- for bacon, they ought to be paying from 95/- to 100/- for pigs—say, 95/-. If they are getting 120/- for bacon, they ought to be paying 95/- for pigs at least. If the hypothetical price fund was functioning, there should be added to that economic price of 95/- about 10/- from the price fund. So that the pig producer who should be getting 105/- a cwt. at this time for his pigs when bacon is being sold at 120/-, is, in fact, getting only 71/- a cwt. Few Deputies understand the hypothetical price. It is based entirely on the money that was taken from the pig producer last September, October and November, on the clear understanding and promise that if he kept in pig production and brought pigs out in the spring, he would get it all back. Has he got one penny of it back? I say he has not.
I think that perhaps the Deputy is not approaching this as another person might approach it. I do not say that he is right or that he is wrong. If there is a certain amount taken in the home market the price is regulated by supply and demand. If the curers get 120/-, taking the quantity available into account, then the Pigs Board take that into account, that the price is 120/- per cwt., and they also take into account the cost of the production of pigs at certain times of the year when the price was 10 per cent. or 15 per cent. better than it was last spring. They have fixed the price at the moment at 75/- and if at the moment bacon is 120/- then they say: "We can afford to take the levy off that"; and that is the difference between the hypothetical price and the fixed price. If we had no exports at all, if we had nothing but the home market probably that is the way it would operate. You fix a fair price the whole year round and then levy off the bacon curers when they are getting good prices and pay them back when the prices are lower; that is how it operates. However, exports come in and complicate matters. I gave the figures here on the Estimate for the Department of Agriculture, and I showed as well as I could make out the figures, that the difference between the subsidies paid on the exports last year and the tariff collected was somewhere between £60,000 and £80,000.
That amount is taken out of the hypothetical fund. But we have a similar position as in the butter business, and that is that even if the curer were paying no tariff going into England, the price he is getting is a good deal lower there than here, and, therefore, he is compensated for the exports. That is because the export market is not as good as the home market; the amount that is paid equalises the tariff. The difference between the tariff and the subsidy going out is comparatively small. I was making inquiries about this matter a few days ago. I think the amount collected on this fund would be well over £500,000 a year, and the amount paid out is nearly the same. There is only £60,000 as a levy to bring the amount paid in subsidies up to the amount paid in tariffs. Up to this it has not all been paid out of the exports on bacon. This money is paid out during the short intervals during which they have appointed a price higher than the hypothetical price. In the majority of cases they paid out of that hypothetical fund on all bacon produced whether it was exported or sold at home.
The Minister tells us that £500,000 is gathered into the hypothetical price fund.
Yes, it would be that much.
Who got it?
It goes back to the curers.
I wonder who got it? I was informed at one time that the Bacon Marketing Board disclaimed having collected more than £200,000.
Well, it is mostly a bookkeeping transaction.
It is well that Deputy Donnelly should know that his rasher of bacon has a levy on it every morning to compensate producers for their losses on the British market. I do not know the Deputy knew that before.
What I am trying to convince the Deputy of was that if the old Irish Party had not partitioned this country, rashers, North and South, would be cheaper to-day.
That is hardly relevant.
Deputy Donnelly is neither wise nor relevant. It is well to realise that the exports are at present being subsidised out of the levy on bacon purchased by the Irish consumer. We are paying in rural Ireland to-day 1/3 a lb. for salty bacon so that the British consumers can have it for 11d. or 1/- a lb. At what level are we going to stop raising prices to the Irish consumer in order to sell bacon at cheaper prices in Great Britain? I am advised that we may expect soon to be charging in the West of Ireland 1/6 a lb. for bacon. Up to what level does the Minister think it is wise to force the price on our own people in order to subsidise the price to Great Britain?
It depends upon the supply and demand altogether.
I have told the Minister again and again that with or without his knowledge the curers have formed themselves into a ring, and I now publicly allege that the Bacon Marketing Board sent to the minor curers a circular saying that they were not charging their customers enough, because these minor curers were charging a price that had not been fixed by the ring. I want to remind the House that the Bacon Marketing Board has no authority to fix the price of bacon.
To whom did they send this circular?
To a minor curer, and I publicly allege that here now.
Can the Deputy produce that circular?
How can the Minister expect me to produce it? The Minister is in a position to get what I could not get. I cannot produce to the Minister written proof of all that is going on in the bacon industry. It is with the greatest difficulty I managed to get the information I got, and it is because I am able to use it to put the wind up these fellows that I have some hope here that we can have some control over them.
I cannot get at the secret archives of these bacon curers, who seem to think they can do what they like. I am not in their confidence. On the contrary, they do not like me at all and I see no prospect of their changing in regard to me. This much I do know—that whatever I find I will checkmate them, and if I am ever responsible for the control of Irish industry they will have to obey me and toe the line. I put it to the Minister that he ought to tell us how far he thinks it right that the hypothetical price fund should be used to pay bounties on the price of bacon. I think it ought to be used exclusively for the purpose of raising the hypothetical price over the fixed price. Remember, it is in time of plenty, when we have a great number of pigs, that the levy is collected—you collect it on, perhaps, 1,000,000 pigs in the autumn—and it is in the time of scarcity that you distribute it, so that the levy gathered off 1,000,000 pigs is distributed on, perhaps, 500,000 pigs. There ought to be double as much bounty paid out in spring to producers as there is collected from them in the autumn. They are not getting it and in that sense the producers are being robbed.
What is the effect of Section 66? Is it to make the minor curers liable to levies during the specified period?
This is merely a re-enactment; it is the same as in the main Act.
Is there not a case sub judice in which a minor curer is challenging the right of the Department to levy the hypothetical price on him?
We are not making any difference between the main Act and this.
Why is it put in here then?
Several sections have been taken from the Principal Act and put in here. The draftsman has repeated several of them.
I cannot imagine the draftsman bringing in a section identical with the section in the Principal Act.
After the appointed day, under this measure, a certain number of sections of the main Act go out and, therefore, they are put in here so as to become operative from that time.
This merely carries them on for the extra year?
No; this will be permanent.
This is the permanent structure which will take the place of certain parts of the other Act that lapse?
What is the effect of Section 68?
Up to this, the Board could only pay out of the fund when the hypothetical price was below the appointed price. Now there is no such restriction.
As a result of that, this section is designed to permit the board to pay out export subsidies?
They had that power already.
No, they had not. Now you want to extend the opportunity of paying export bounties out of the hypothetical fund. I wonder does Deputy Smith know that the hypothetical price fund was being used to relieve the Exchequer of export bounties on bacon going to Great Britain?
We must do what we can to bolster up a bad market.
Deputy Smith did not know that, and he was one of the Deputies who was on the Committee. We are actually now levying on the producer in order to sell cheap bacon to Britain.
The British market is not what the Deputy thinks it is. The pig producers in Britain are getting 62/- while ours are getting 75/-.
The Minister, at the end of five years, has this to boast of— that he has reduced agriculture in this country to this situation that we have a shortage of pigs and butter, we have a scarcity of cattle, of store and meat cattle, and we have only one-third of our former egg supply
That is the sort of speech that would suit the Deputy next Sunday. If it were true it would be extraordinary.
It is true that you have a shortage of pigs because you are importing pigs from Ulster. It is the first time that that has happened since Saorstát Eireann was founded.
Not at all.
It is the first time we had to bring in live pigs from Ulster.
The first time this year.
It is the first time in the history of this country. They are coming in now from Ulster because you have stripped this country of its pig population. There is a definite shortage of pigs here, and that is why they are being brought in from Ulster. You are bringing butter in from New Zealand. You have reduced our export of eggs. There is a scarcity of cattle unprecedented in this country. Is it not an astonishing achievement?
It is very hard to please some people. We are getting good prices for our cattle now.
You are not. There are 600,000 rotting in the graves that you dug for them.
There is nothing about that in this Bill.
In this Bill we are proposing to turn the hypothetical price, that Deputy Smith and I had a hand in devising, to another purpose altogether. We devised it for the purpose of securing for the farmers a better price in spring out of the moneys levied in the autumn. Those moneys that we intended should be given back to the producer are now being stolen away and handed to the curers in order to subsidise them in the export market. Is that fair? The hypothetical price fund was never meant for that purpose. Why should it be so used now?
If we were sending bacon to Germany and selling it at the price we are selling it in England, the Deputy would make a very fine speech about the rotten market we had in Germany, but because we are sending it to Great Britain and because we have to pay a subsidy on it, he has a different argument. If we did not pay the subsidy our producers could not get the prices they are getting. It is all because the English market is a bad market, if you like to have it that way.
You said they were paying 75/- in Northern Ireland for the pigs they were importing. The fixed maximum price in Northern Ireland is 62/-.
No, it is not; it goes from 69/- to 72/-.
Where are the Northern Ireland farmers selling their bacon— in Peru?
In the North of Ireland.
Go fish! They are shipping more to England now than they ever shipped before. They have doubled the pig population of Northern Ireland while we have reduced ours almost to vanishing point. Do you deny they are shipping more bacon now? Do you deny that their exports have gone up over 100 per cent while ours have fallen?
I admit it has gone up. If ours has not gone down we would have to send more cheap bacon to England.
In this matter I must admit I am something of a novice.
Then you are in the same boat as Deputy Dillon.
I speak for a lot of consumers, and I should like to know can the Minister hold out any hope that people who used to have bacon for breakfast will be able to have it again in the near future? A lot of people find that it has gone beyond their means and they have to devise substitutes. Some are probably contenting themselves with an orange instead of having their usual morning rasher.
I have no idea when the price of bacon will come down. It is expected there will be a bigger supply of pigs by the end of July, and I assume the prices will then come down. I read out what the consumer in London is paying for bacon, and it is just as much as consumers in Dublin are paying, in spite of all this talk of cheap bacon.
The Minister is prepared, apparently, to argue that two and two make five, or that four times three make 21. A minute ago he was arguing that the British market was a rotten market for bacon, that there were bad prices, low prices, miserable prices. That is the argument he advanced to me. Then Deputy Alton gets up and says that bacon is very dear here, and the Minister says: "But not nearly as dear as it is in England." Which story is true?
Both. The consumer in England is paying a lot for his bacon.
You can tell that to the marines. I shall divide on this section, as it is the section under which it is proposed to misappropriate the hypothetical price fund.
To bolster up a bad market.
- Aiken, Frank.
- Allen, Denis.
- Bartley, Gerald.
- Beegan, Patrick.
- Boland, Gerald.
- Brady, Brian.
- Brady, Seán.
- Breathnach, Cormac.
- Briscoe, Robert.
- Concannon, Helena.
- Crowley, Fred. Hugh.
- Crowley, Timothy.
- Daly, Denis.
- Derrig, Thomas.
- De Valera, Eamon.
- Doherty, Hugh.
- Donnelly, Eamonn.
- Dowdall, Thomas P.
- Flynn, John.
- Fogarty, Andrew.
- Gibbons, Seán.
- Goulding, John.
- Hayes, Seán.
- Jordan, Stephen.
- Kelly, James Patrick.
- Kelly, Thomas.
- Killilea, Mark.
- Kilroy, Michael.
- Little, Patrick John.
- Lynch, James B.
- Maguire, Ben.
- Moore, Séamus.
- Moylan, Seán.
- O Briain, Donnchadh.
- O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
- O'Grady, Seán.
- O'Reilly, Matthew.
- Pearse, Margaret Mary.
- Rice, Edward.
- Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph.
- Ryan, James.
- Ryan, Robert.
- Sheridan, Michael.
- Smith, Patrick.
- Traynor, Oscar.
- Ward, Francis C.
- Beckett, James Walter.
- Cosgrave, William T.
- Curran, Richard.
- Dillon, James M.
- Dockrell, Henry Morgan.
- Dolan, James Nicholas.
- Doyle, Peadar S.
- Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
- Lynch, Finian.
- Morrissey, Daniel.
- Mulcahy, Richard.
- O'Mahony, The.
- O'Sullivan, John Marcus.
- Redmond, Bridget Mary.
Amendment No. 41 to Section 69, in the name of Deputy McGilligan, is another of those amendments which had best be put back to Report Stage until the Minister produces his amendment, when the matter can be further considered.
I move amendment No. 42:—
Before Section 71 to insert a new section as follows:—
Section 153 of the Principal Act is hereby amended by the deletion of the words "by order" and Part IV of the Principal Act shall be construed and have effect accordingly.
This amendment has the same effect as amendment No. 24.
I propose to take the Report Stage on Thursday.
Are you meeting next week?
I do not know.
Surely the Executive Council should know whether we are going to dissolve this week or not?
If we finish the business this week, I presume we shall not meet next week.
Unless it will compel you to defer the dissolution, I should prefer to have the Report Stage on Tuesday next.
If it is fixed for Thursday, I shall not proceed if the Deputy then objects.
Report Stage fixed for Thursday, 10th June.