Committee on Finance. - Agricultural Produce (Eggs) (No. 2) Bill, 1938—Committee Stage—(Resumed).

Debate resumed on Amendment No. 10.

The Minister, in his statement on this amendment, made in the early part of the discussion, suggested that the amendment was being put forward and pushed for political purposes. I can assure him that if he knew the history behind the amendment put forward by me, he would not apply that particular statement to me.

I assure the Minister that that is not the case as far as I am concerned. I think that Deputy Browne has given a true picture of the position, so far as the egg export business applies to his area. From my limited knowledge of the transport business in connection with the egg export trade, I would say that the egg export trade as established and carried on in the constituency which he represents is a well-paying and profitable business. If the Minister agrees with that version of things, I will ask him also to agree that that is not the position in other parts of the country. In the part of the country represented by Deputy Browne there have been men in the egg dealing and egg exporting business for a long period of years, and as far as I know they will be able to meet all the requirements of the Minister so far as this Bill is concerned.

There has been a reference to the bartering business and the extent to which it is carried on in parts of the country. The farmer's wife or the wife of an agricultural labourer in most of the midland counties goes into a shop where her family has been dealing perhaps for generations, hands the eggs over the counter to the shopkeeper, and gets tea, sugar and tobacco in return for them. There is, of course, an understanding that the eggs are purchased at a certain price, but no money is exchanged. Although I am in favour of the policy contained in the Bill, and will encourage the Minister, as I have done in the past, to go ahead with any policy that will produce for the farmer or the farmer's wife a cash return for everything they sell, I do not want to see businesses wiped out wholesale by a stroke of the pen. The egg dealer's business in the part of the country where that kind of trade has been going on must be allowed to disappear gradually, and I would suggest to the Minister that he might take back this sub-section of the Bill and reconsider it in the light of some kind of a proposal whereby the people who have been carrying on a mixed trade, including the egg business, should be given a reasonable period of time to comply with the Minister's requirements, or then get out. The section as it stands, as far as I can interpret it, would mean the wiping out of that section of the retailer's business right away. It would mean the wiping out of that section of the trade where they have been dealing in the egg business. I take it that that is a correct interpretation of this sub-section of the Bill as it now stands. If that is so, I think it is rather drastic, and I think the section deserves to be reconsidered in the light of the existing conditions of the people who have been carrying on a mixed trade, particularly in the midland counties. The small trader who has been engaged in purchasing eggs from the farmers or other people engaged in egg production, buys eggs on the one hand for the purpose of selling them to people elsewhere. When they cannot dispose of all the eggs which they have bought in that particular way, they are going to hand over the remainder of them at the end of a lengthy period to whatever exporter will come along and buy them. I think the retailers who have been engaged in that kind of trade are mainly responsible for selling stale eggs, simply because they cannot dispose of them to some other local person. At any rate, I do not want to see the small traders who have been making some portion of their livelihood out of this business wiped out by a stroke of the pen.

I am sure that if the Minister takes back the sub-section for consideration he can find some other and easier way of bringing the egg dealers of the future into line with his requirements. So far as new dealers are concerned, I thoroughly agree with him and give him my entire support in insisting on the most rigid red-tape regulations which will operate to assist in making the egg export business a profitable one, which will compel the dealers and exporters to provide better quality eggs for the export market, and get a better price for the egg producer. I would ask him to agree to take back the sub-section for further consideration in the light of the conditions in which the small traders have been operating in the midland counties.

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Committee divided. Tá, 63; Níl, 33.

  • Aiken, Frank.
  • Bartley, Gerald.
  • Beegan, Patrick.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Bourke, Dan.
  • Brady, Brian.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Breathnach, Cormac.
  • Breen, Daniel.
  • Brennan, Martin.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Buckley, Seán.
  • Carty, Frank.
  • Cooney, Eamonn.
  • Corry, Martin J.
  • Crowley, Fred Hugh.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Derrig, Thomas.
  • De Valera, Eamon.
  • Dowdall, Thomas P.
  • Flynn, John.
  • Flynn, Stephen.
  • Fogarty, Andrew.
  • Fogarty, Patrick J.
  • Friel, John.
  • O'Rourke, Daniel.
  • O'Sullivan, Ted.
  • Rice, Brigid M.
  • Ruttledge, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Robert.
  • Sheridan, Michael.
  • Fuller, Stephen.
  • Harris, Thomas.
  • Hogan, Daniel.
  • Humphreys, Francis.
  • Kelly, James P.
  • Kelly, Thomas.
  • Kennedy, Michael J.
  • Killilea, Mark.
  • Kissane, Eamon.
  • Lemass, Seán F.
  • Little, Patrick J.
  • Loughman, Francis.
  • Lynch, James B.
  • McDevitt, Henry A.
  • Maguire, Ben.
  • Meaney, Cornelius.
  • Morrissey, Michael.
  • Moylan, Seán.
  • Mullen, Thomas.
  • Munnelly, John.
  • O'Briain, Donnchadh.
  • O Ceallaigh, Seán T.
  • O'Grady, Seán.
  • O'Loghlen, Peter J.
  • O'Reilly, Matthew.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Traynor, Oscar.
  • Victory, James.
  • Walsh, Laurence J.
  • Walsh, Richard.
  • Ward, Conn.

Níl

  • Belton, Patrick.
  • Benson, Ernest E.
  • Brasier, Brooke.
  • Browne, Patrick.
  • Burke, Thomas.
  • Coborn, James.
  • Coogan, Patrick.
  • Cosgrave, William T.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Curran, Richard.
  • Davin, William.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • Dockrell, Henry M.
  • Doyle, Peadar S.
  • Esmonde, John L.
  • Everett, James.
  • Fagan, Charles.
  • Fitzgerald-Kenney, James.
  • Giles, Patrick.
  • Hickey, James.
  • Hughes, James.
  • Hurley, Jeremiah.
  • Keating, John.
  • Keyes, Michael.
  • Linehan, Timothy.
  • McGovern, Patrick.
  • Morrissey, Daniel.
  • Mulcahy, Richard.
  • Nally, Martin.
  • O'Sullivan, John M.
  • Pattison, James P.
  • Redmond, Bridget M.
  • Rogers, Patrick J.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Little and Smith; Níl: Deputies Keyes and Everett.
Question declared carried.
Section 28 agreed to.
Amendment No. 11 not moved.
SECTION 29.
. . . . . .
(3) Every person who shall carry by any means for reward any eggs which are being or are intended to be exported in contravention of this section shall, if such carrying is done in the course or for the purpose of the exportation of such eggs, be guilty of an offence under this sub-section unless such person proves that he did not know and could not reasonably have known that such eggs were being exported in contravention of this section.
. . . . . .

I move amendment No. 12:—

In sub-section (3), page 16, line 41, to delete the words "for reward".

The object of this amendment is to prevent a person pleading in court that he was not carrying eggs for reward, and making it necessary to prove that. If the eggs are being carried the inspectors have power to go to any public vehicle, take the eggs and see that the regulations are complied with.

The only thing that puzzles me about this is that I see the power extends to an occasion where the eggs are intended for export. I notice that the inspector must prove that the carrying was done in the course of committing crime. I do not see much objection to the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 29, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 30.
(1) Save as is otherwise provided by this section, eggs shall not be consigned from registered wholesaler's premises to any place (whether in or outside Ireland) unless all the following conditions have been complied with in respect of such eggs, that is to say:—
. . . . .
(c) the eggs shall be tested, graded, packed, and marked as aforesaid on the registered wholesaler's premises from which they are consigned and the package containing the eggs shall also be marked as aforesaid on the said premises, and
. . . . .
(3) Every person who shall carry by any means for reward any eggs consigned in contravention of this section shall be guilty of an offence under this sub-section unless such person proves that he did not know and could not reasonably have known that such eggs were consigned in contravention of this section.
. . . . .

I move amendment No. 13:—

In sub-section (1), page 17, to delete the words "have been" in line 4, and substitute the word "are", and in paragraph (c) to delete the word "be" in line 11 and also in line 14, and substitute in each case the words "have been".

This amendment is merely a change of words, only a drafting amendment. As a matter of fact, it is really a change of tense.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 14.—In sub-section (3), page 17, line 22, to delete the words "for reward". — (Aire Talmhaidheachta.)
Agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 30, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

Is it proposed under Section 30 to increase the number of stamps that are being put on eggs? At present the only two stamps that would ordinarily appear on an egg are "Eire" and "Cold-stored" in the proper season. Is it proposed to order any other marks to be put upon the eggs?

We may order additional marks to be put in the stamp but I do not think there will be more than two stampings.

I take this occasion to ask the Minister in connection with these stamping sections if there is any chance, if we succeeded in raising the standard of our eggs to what we expect it is going to be before it satisfies us, of persuading the British Department of Agriculture to make an exception in respect of Irish eggs in regard to stamping them? All our problems of export of agricultural surplus to England hinge around the desire of Great Britain to have available abundant supplies of food in case of war. We can provide that food but we can only provide that food in case of war if we receive the stimulus of active demand in time of peace. If we could get exemption from the necessity of stamping our eggs, as the people in Northern Ireland have, I believe that the British egg producer and the Irish egg producer together could very nearly supply the British market and, if we did not completely supply the British market with a full peace-time supply, we could certainly meet the entire British requirement of eggs in time of war. Surely it would be worth making the point to the British Department of Agriculture that there is nothing to be gained by getting our eggs stamped in this way. They are identical with the eggs that are going to Great Britain at the present time from Northern Ireland. In fact there may be two hens sitting side by side in the same nest; and one hen belongs to a Northern Ireland farmer and the other to a farmer in Eire, and when one hen gets up the egg goes to England without any mark and when the other hen gets up it has two stamps put on it. In those circumstances I think an unanswerable case can be made to the British Department of Agriculture for a concession to our industry along those lines. The Minister says— excuse me if I seem to be controversial—but I think that the Minister says that the stamping of the egg is in fact an advantage because people know Irish eggs to be so good that they covet them and look for them.

That is true.

That is a grand proclamation for the edification of the foreign Press, but there is no use saying that to anyone who has practical knowledge of the egg trade. Tell the egg exporters of this country: "You may stamp your egg or you need not stamp your egg," and see how many of them will stamp the egg, because all of us who were in the trade know that it will be worth a preference of 15 per cent. to us, certainly 10 per cent., if we were exempted from the obligation to stamp our eggs. The public have it in their head when they get a "new-laid" egg that, by some miracle, the hen laid the egg this morning and they buy it in Dorset Street or Grafton Street that afternoon. Those of us who are in the trade know if they buy the egg within a week of the hen laying it they are damn lucky. The English housewife seeing an egg without a stamp on it thinks this egg was just laid by the hen next door, but when she sees the stamp on it she attributes that egg to a foreign hen, that egg has travelled over wide oceans and has been a long time coming and, as a matter of fact, many an egg that came from Ireland reaches the London market far quicker than an egg laid in Scotland. That housewife does not think of that. She thinks an unmarked egg was laid by the neighbour's hen, just outside the boundary of London or outside the boundary of Birmingham. She can see the hen shaking herself in the immediate neighbourhood after cackling almost on her threshold. The moment the mark goes on it she thinks it is a foreign hen, a strange and exotic hen that has laid that egg and that the egg has passed through many hands before it comes to the grocer who offers it to her. That is worth 10 per cent. to her, that absurd obsession in the mind of the purchaser in Great Britain. It is worth at least 10 per cent. to us. I put it as high as 15 per cent. Would is not be worth while opening negotiation with the British Department of Agriculture to get that advantage? I am not suggesting that by going over to-morrow morning you could get it, but is it not something you might profitably discuss with the Department of Agriculture in Great Britain with a view to getting that concession for our people?

I quite see that the Deputy has made a very good case which should be convincing to the British Government that such a thing would be desirable from their point of view as well as ours, but I am afraid that we would not convince them, however, to change the scheme that they have in operation. It would possibly make a difference of 10 or 15 per cent. Probably that. I did say here on the Second Reading that Deputies should not try to compare North of Ireland prices with ours because of different weights and standards. I think the Deputy is right in putting it at 15 per cent. I said before that by marking our eggs and by making our eggs very good we might reach as good a price. I admit that is only the second best thing. It is something to console us. I do not think we could succeed in getting the British Government to change that regulation. I would certainly be only too glad if it could be done. It would save us a great deal of trouble as well as getting the better prices we undoubtedly would get.

Section 30 agreed to.
SECTION 31.
(2) Any inspector may do all or any of the following things in or upon any of the places mentioned in the foregoing sub-section of this section or in any public place, that is to say:—
. . . . . . .
(e) detain for so long as may be reasonably necessary for the purposes of this section, any package found in any such place;
(f) if the package so detained is in the hands of a carrier, give a direction in writing to such carrier prohibiting the further carriage (except by way of returning to the consignor) of the package so detained where it appears to the inspector on such examination that there has been a contravention or attempted contravention of this Act or of any regulation made thereunder in relation to such package.
. . . . . . .

I move amendment No. 15:

In sub-section (2) (e), line 21, page 18, to delete the words "so long as may be reasonably necessary," and substitute the words "not more than four days."

This sub-section as it now stands empowers the inspector who may suspect that there is something wrong with the package or case of eggs to detain the case of eggs, or whatever else it may be, for, in the words of the sub-section, "so long as may be reasonably necessary for the purposes of this section." What is the meaning of "so long as may be reasonably necessary" as far as the Minister or his advisers are concerned? I think there should be a very definite limit placed upon the period of detention, and that is why I am suggesting in the amendment that the power to detain should be limited to a period of four days.

I would like to say to the Deputy that we must allow a certain amount of discretion to the inspector to take a certain length of time on this, but I think in no case would it be anything like four days. In fact, I would not like to put in four days, because it might give the inspectors an idea that four days would not be unreasonable. I can assure the Deputy that it will not be four days, and I think it would be better to leave it out.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendments Nos. 16 and 17:

In sub-section (2) (e), page 18, line 22, after the word "package" to insert the words "or any number of packages."

In sub-section (2) (f), page 18, in line 24, to delete the words "so detained is" and substitute the words "or all or any of the packages so detained is or are," and in line 27 to delete the words "the package so detained" and substitute the words "such package or packages," and in lines 30 and 31, to delete the words "to such package" and substitute the word "thereto."

These are clarifying amendments. As the section stands, it is not clear whether we were confined to the talking of one package or not. I think it is better that these amendments should be inserted to make it perfectly clear to any exporter that the inspector is free to take one or more packages as the case may be.

In regard to amendment No. 17, does paragraph (f) require to be correspondingly amended? Should it be, "if the package or packages so detained are in the hands of a carrier"?

Oh, yes. Amendment No. 17 deals with that.

Amendments agreed to.
Section 31, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 32, 33 and 34 agreed to.
SECTION 35.
Question proposed: "That Section 35 stand part of the Bill."

What is the necessity for that provision?

Perhaps I can illustrate it by an example. I gave an example on Second Reading of the sort of thing that might make this necessary, but it will not be necessary very often. A certain exporter, who feels that he would like to evade examination as far as possible, might be inclined to select a route where a boat did not go very often, rush his consignment when the boat would be sailing, and make the plea to the inspector: "Surely you are not going to keep these eggs back for a week or a fortnight until there is another boat going"? In such a case we might say that in future he should ship his eggs by another route. I think it will be very little availed of.

Supposing an exporter has some difference with a carrying company in the ordinary course of business and withdraws his business from that company for good reasons, such as that his eggs are not being properly handled or something like that. Does the Minister claim the right to order him to go back to that carrying company and avail of their services even though there is some legitimate reason for not doing so?

I think that certainly would be taken into consideration.

It is a matter to consider?

Yes, certainly.

Question put and agreed to.
Sections 36 and 37 agreed to.
SECTION 38.

I move amendment No. 18:—

Before Section 38, page 23, to insert a new section as follows:—

(1) The Minister may be order make regulations requiring every registered wholesaler to place in every package of eggs intended to be consigned by him to any place whether inside or outside Ireland, before it is consigned, a document in the form prescribed by such regulations requesting the consignee of such package to notify the Minister of any defects found by him in such package or in the eggs contained therein or in the packing of such eggs therein.

(2) Every registered wholesaler who fails to comply with any regulation made under this section shall be guilty of an offence under this section, and shall be liable, on summary conviction thereof, to a fine not exceeding five pounds.

This is a matter that arose after the Bill had been drafted. It was pointed out to me that, on certain occasions, when people in the trade in England had some complaint to make against Irish eggs they did not make the complaint but, much to our disadvantage, decided not to take Irish eggs again. We presume that they felt there was no use in complaining to the exporter. We thought that in some cases, at least, if this were put in, they might possibly write to the Department making a complaint about the condition of the eggs. It is not a great inconvenience for any exporter. The cards would be supplied to him. He has only to fill in the number, of whatever it may be, and put the card in the case before exporting. It is possible that in that way we might get complaints from time to time from recipients on the other side about the condition of the eggs which arrived there which may be useful for the officers of this Department.

Theoretically there is no objection to that, but I want to warn the Minister that he is putting in the way of the consignee a temptation to perpetrate a cruel injustice. Anyone familiar with the trade knows that the people who handle eggs in England are a pretty tough gang—they have to be.

That is true; we know that.

Doing business with them is a pretty formidable occupation. They are difficult people to deal with. You have to stand on your rights and fight your corner very hard, and the trade is not infrequently punctuated with ferocious battles. I do not want consignees, every time they get involved in a quarrel with an Irish consignor, to send complaints to the Minister and get a black mark against the consignor in the Department. If the Minister requires a consignor to put in these cards I want him to instruct his officers to bear clearly in mind that such a report should be looked upon with the utmost possible reserve and that wherever possible complaints of that character should be checked up on at once by the local representatives of the Department.

We will certainly do that as far as possible.

I should like an assure ance that if a consignee sends what, in the Minister's judgment, is a frivolous complaint after getting his report from the local representative, the Minister will forward that complaint to the consignor and allow the consignor to take such steps as he thinks reasonable to idemnify himself against a repetition of such an offence. Simply because a man is engaged in trade, we should not give another man, with whom he has trade relations in England, the right to libel him under the protection of the Minister. If somebody writes to the Minister and says I broke the law by exporting improper eggs, he ought to be prepared to prove it.

We are not going to take it as conclusive evidence.

If you find the complaint is frivolous and without foundation, will you place the consignor in possession of the facts so that he can sue the consignee for libel?

That is a big question to consider. If the Deputy thinks over that, perhaps he will see that it will have the effect of preventing others making a complaint. That is what strikes me at the moment. On the other hand, I can assure the Deputy that we are not going to take a complaint like that as conclusive evidence that the exporter has done something wrong. We will have to see the proof before we take any action against an exporter.

I ask the Minister to bear that very carefully in mind, remembering that some of these consignees are very tough boys.

Yes, if there is a particular case of a person continually making complaints.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Section 38, as amended, agreed to.
Section 39, agreed to.
SECTION 40.
. . . . .
(3) It shall not be lawful for any registered wholesaler or any retailer to sell or to offer, expose, or consign for sale any second quality eggs, unless such eggs are marked with the marks and in the manner prescribed under this section for the purpose of indicating that they are second quality eggs.
. . . . .

I move amendment No. 19:—

In sub-section (3), page 24, line 17, to delete the words "expose, or consign for sale" and substitute the words "or expose for sale, or to consign to any place (whether inside or outside Ireland)".

This amendment is inserted to make it clear that the sub-section applies to those exposed for sale or consigned to any place, whether inside or outside Ireland. It is not very clear as it stands.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 40, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 41, 42, 43, 44 and 45 agreed to.
SECTION 46.
. . . . . . . .
(4) It shall not be lawful for any retailer to have in his possession, after the expiration of the prescribed time for the examination of eggs by retailers after acquisition, any eggs which are unfit for human consumption unless such eggs are marked and set aside for disposal in the prescribed manner.
. . . . . . . .

I move amendment No. 20:—

In sub-section (4), page 27, lines 11 and 12, to delete the words "unless such eggs are marked and set aside for disposal in the prescribed manner."

The deletion of these words will bring the sub-section into line with sub-section (5) of Section 47, which we will come to in a moment. We do not intend to make regulations as to what a retailer should do with bad eggs, as it is presumed that he would destory them or get rid of them. We do not want to make regulations dealing with that. Therefore, we say that it is an offence for a retailer to expose for sale eggs unfit for human consumption. In the case of the dealer and the wholesaler, we make regulations as to what they must do with them. In the case of the retailers, we do not think it necessary to make any regulations, because they must get rid of them— they must not be there.

I welcome any amendment which withdraws from the Department the right to make any regulations. It is a source of amazement to me to find any section of the community which they do not want to regulate.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 46, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 47 and 48 agreed to.
SECTION 49.
Question proposed: That Section 49 stand part of the Bill.

Has the Minister considered the problem about the very bad exporter who washes eggs? What is going to be the immediate reaction to that? The women are going to wash the eggs at home, and that is the dilemma that you have to face. What are you going to do about it? The Minister speaks as if it were perfectly easy to distinguish, over a lamp, the difference between a washed egg and an egg that has not been washed. It is not. A washed egg can look very like a trade egg. I find it very difficult, except in very gross cases, to distinguish between a washed and a trade egg. Now, if a woman has dirty eggs on her dresser and she has either to make up her mind whether she will throw them out if she has more than enough eggs for the household, or wash them and take whatever price she can get for them, she will wash them, and wash them I think not as satisfactorily as the egg merchant. I agree that the ultimate objective should be to get clean eggs, because no egg that has been washed can compare with the egg that has not been washed.

Is the Minister satisfied that he is going to get clean eggs in this way, or has he some plan in connection with this section—some intensive scheme for facilitating the production of clean eggs. Perhaps he might consider extending that part of the Gaeltacht Housing scheme which makes available loans and grants for the building of hen-houses to the rest of Ireland. He may be doing that already, but if he is nobody knows it. I think it would be far better for the Minister to undertake a drive of that kind rather than be incurring public expense by issuing advertisements to persuade people to eat more bacon. We have been eating bacon in this country for more than 100 years, and now the Minister is exhorting the people to eat more.

The same applies to Guinness' stout.

We have been drinking it for years, and still they are asking the people to drink more of it.

The Minister's analogy is not a fortunate one. If the Minister has a scheme analogous to the Gaeltacht housing scheme for good hen-houses, then I would advise him to publish it and make it known to the people. I sincerely believe it would be of material help to the Minister, politically and economically. If the Minister would declare that, as from 1st January, he wanted a great drive made to revive the poultry industry in this country: that the maize meal mixture scheme was going to be would up and that pure maize would be made available to the people, and advertised loans for good hen-houses, and urged everybody to set eggs, then I think you would get some real progress made towards producing sound eggs and clean eggs. I would be prepared to accept the Minister's proposals for getting clean eggs if he would accompany them by an intensive scheme of propaganda on the lines that I suggest. You cannot get clean eggs unless you have the right kind of hen-houses, and unless you get the women of the country to believe that they are going to make money out of eggs, your scheme will be a failure.

I just intervened to ask if it is not the practice to wash eggs for the purpose of making them clean.

It should not be the practice.

With regard to the producers of eggs, how does this section affect them? How is the Minister, or his officials, to prove that eggs that may be found in a farmer's house or in a labourer's cottage are intended for sale? Is it intended to send inspectors to these houses to make inquiries with regard to any eggs that may happen to be found in them—to ascertain whether they are intended for sale or not? It seems to me that the section will be a difficult one to enforce. How will the retailers of eggs be affected? You have a good many people who are engaged extensively in poultry farming. The retailers of eggs are under the impression that they are required to register under this Bill.

What particular class exactly is the Deputy referring to?

People engaged in poultry farming and in retailing eggs.

There is no necessity for them to register because retailers are not dealt with in this Bill. With regard to the washing of eggs, I am relying on the experts in the Department who say that washing can be detected. An inspector cannot summon a farmer for having washed or dirty eggs on the premises because they might not be for sale at all. It is a different matter, of course, if the farmer exposes the eggs for sale in a market town. In that case, he can be dealt with under the Bill, as he could under the old Act. A person who uses a wet cloth to take dirt off an egg shortly after being laid is not regarded as having washed it. I believe it is a very effective way of cleaning eggs. Deputy Dillon spoke of the provision of good hen houses for producers. He seemed to think that I had acquiesced in some scheme about that. We would hope to do that if we could get the necessary finances.

Will the Minister agree to start a drive on the 1st January for yellow meal, new hen houses and plenty of eggs?

I do not agree with the Deputy there.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 50.
. . . . . . . .
(1) The Minister may by order make regulations for all or any of the following purposes, that is to say:—
(b) requiring registered proprietors (either generally or of any particular class or classes) who acquire, whether at their registered premises or elsewhere, eggs from producers to do the following things in respect of all eggs so acquired by them, that is to say:—
. . . . . . . .
(ii) to place in or on every such container the note, docket, or mark specified in that behalf by such regulations indicating the producer from whom and the date on which the eggs in such container were acquired, and
. . . . . . . .
(c) requiring that eggs (other than eggs packed in the registered premises of a registered wholesaler) consigned, offered, or exposed for sale shall be packed in the manner and with the packing materials specified in that behalf by the regulations made under this section;
(d) requiring that eggs (other than eggs packed in the registered premises of a registered wholesaler or a registered dealer) consigned, offered, or exposed for sale shall be marked in the manner and with the mark specified in that behalf by the regulations made under this section;
(e) requiring that the packages in which eggs (other than eggs packed in the registered premises of a registered wholesaler) consigned, offered, or exposed for sale are packed shall be marked in the manner and with the mark specified in that behalf by the regulations made under this section;
. . . . . . . .
(4) Every person who shall alter, deface or remove—
(a) any mark placed on any egg, package, or container in pursuance of regulations made under this section, or
(b) any note, docket, or mark placed in or on any container in pursuance of such regulations,
. . . . . . . .

I move amendment No. 21:

In sub-section (1) (b) (ii), page 28, line 57, after the word "and" to add the words "such other particulars in relation to such eggs as may be so specified, and", and in sub-paragraph (iii), line 59, after the word "container," to insert the words "such note or docket as aforesaid, and also."

This provides against the removal of dockets as well as eggs. As Deputies know, the eggs from each producer must bear a docket, and the dockets cannot be removed until they are disposed of as laid down by the regulations.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendments Nos. 22, 23 and 24:

22—In sub-section (1) (c), line 8, page 29, to delete the words "offered or exposed."

23—In sub-section (1) (d), line 14, page 29, to delete the words "offered or exposed."

24.—In sub-section (1) (e), line 20, page 29, to delete the words "offered or exposed."

Deputy Dillon a short time ago gave a rather surprising assurance to the Minister that he was prepared to support any proposal which would prevent the Department of Agriculture from issuing new regulations, while earlier in the evening he made the starting announcement that he was prepared to hand over the whole export trade to the Department.

The Deputy is about the most confused man in Ireland.

I do not want to misrepresent the Deputy deliberately. He will be able to explain his speech in Castleblayney or in Clones in the very near future. This section proposes to empower the Minister to make regulations for a variety of purposes which will have the force of law.

These regulations may, for instance, require that eggs consigned, offered or exposed for sale shall be packed in the manner and with the packing materials specified by the regulations. The regulations made under these three paragraphs will not refer to eggs packed in the registered premises of a registered wholesaler or dealer. It would appear, therefore, that the regulations made under these three paragraphs will refer to the handling of eggs by the producer, that is, the farmer or the agricultural labourer. I should like to have an assurance on that very important point from the Minister.

While it may be reasonable to require that all eggs sent by a farmer or an agricultural worker are packed in the specified manner, there is no need to require the producer to offer or expose for sale in any particular manner. If the producer is merely exposing or offering eggs for sale in his own house, the potential purchaser is free to reject them, but it should not be made a criminal offence to offer or expose for sale otherwise than in accordance with the regulations. I would like to know to what extent the section affects the farmer or the agricultural labourer, or to what extent the proposed regulations will affect them.

There is something in what the Deputy says with regard to paragraph (c), but if eggs are offered or exposed for sale they may have to be marked in accordance with the regulations, if we make a mark, as we may. We hope, when we make some further progress, to have a mark of the date of packing. It may be necessary to have that mark and, therefore, under paragraph (d) and (e) there would be a good case for leaving things as they are in the section. I admit it is not necessary yet, but when it comes to marking, it may be necessary to have these powers.

Does the Minister mean to ask a country woman to put the date on the eggs?

No, it does not refer to country women. This refers only to the dealer and the wholesaler.

This section gives you power to require an eggler to have the date marked on which he packed the eggs?

Yes. We may commence with the wholesaler.

The regulation will not affect the producer?

Oh, no.

How long must eggs remain in the container? Take the case of the man doing a substantial trade as an example.

The sooner he gets rid of them the better.

Suppose he buys a hundred lots of eggs, it means he must have a hundred containers.

I take it the Deputy is dealing with dealers going out through the country to collect eggs. He brings in those containers, and the sooner he gets through packing and gets them into cases for consignment to the wholesaler, the better the inspector will like it.

Amendments, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 25:—

In sub-section (4), page 29, line 58, after the word "shall" to insert the words "without lawful authority".

This is consequential on amendment No. 21:—

This says "every person who shall alter without lawful authority." It simply means that if the inspector erases a mark on the eggs, he has a right to do so?

What has this amendment to do with any previous amendment? This is merely to clarify the fact that if an inspector defaces a mark he has a right to do so.

The Deputy is quite right. The inspector may, but any other person may not do so without lawful authority.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 50, as amended, Sections 51 to 56, inclusive, and the Title, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Report Stage fixed for Wednesday, 23rd November.