Exported Live Stock (Insurance) Bill, 1940—Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. For some time it has been considered possible to form a mutual insurance against shipping risks. The advent of the war brought that more to a point. I should say from the time the war started a scheme has been under consideration but it took some time to hammer out a proper scheme. It is a pity we had not this scheme going from the beginning of the war because we would have got a proper, decent fund now. This is not the time to bring in a mutual scheme but considering the position in which we now are, we think it is right to bring this in but not to have it brought into operation until the appointed day. No one would think of fixing the appointed day under the present circumstances. We have to wait for either stable war conditions or stable peace conditions. This measure is modelled on the lines of the Slaughtered Animals (Compensation) Act, 1928, which has since been amended by two other Acts. The board itself would be entirely responsible for the working of this scheme. The present rates of insurance between here and Great Britain are very high. The rate from port to port varies from 7/6 to 10/- per head for cattle; the rate for sheep from port to port varies from 7/6 to 10/- per head, store cattle 7/6 to 10/- per head, and pigs 12/6 to 15/- per head. This is for war insurance and it includes ordinary insurance as well. Roughly, the numbers of cattle exported would be about 600,000; sheep 350,000 and pigs 55,000, so that any Deputy can make a calculation of what the total amount is. This Bill provides for a board of eight elected by the National Executive of the Cattle Trade Association. They will be appointed by the Cattle Trade Association for a period of five years.

At least one of these eight must be a pig exporter, and at least four must be cattle and sheep exporters. They will create a fund by levying what they consider is a fair amount per head on cattle, sheep, lambs and so on. The levy will be fixed by the Minister for Agriculture after consultation with the board. This leavy will be payable by stamps, and the stamps will be supplied to the shipping companies and will be affixed to the shipping documents. The stamps will be printed by the board and supplied. There are the usual penalties for those trying to use false stamps and so on. The exporter declares the value of his animals. He must declare the full value himself; if he does not declare the full value nobody is going to interfere, but if a claim arises he will be paid on the declared value. There is no great danger as far as that is concerned. If he does not want to insure his live stock at the full value he is not compelled to do so, but he uses his own valuation and he is paid on that valuation. He will not be paid more than the value, so that over-valuing is not going to do him any good.

Will the usual rule of insurance relating to the average apply?

It does not apply so much in this case, but it is hard to say. It is either a total loss or nothing in a case like that. In war it is a total loss or nothing. If there is no loss they will be paid nothing.

Is there provision for insurance for live stock injured in transport?

Yes, there will be partial loss there. They are insured from the time they leave the port here until they reach their destination. Where cattle, sheep or pigs are sold at the other side by auction they will be covered by insurance until they reach the auction yard or until they reach the farm to which they are sent, but not for more than 72 hours after landing. That is quite a reasonable time to give for the cattle to reach their destination. Then the board will appoint a committee of three assessors or they will ask the live stock trade itself to appoint these assessors; in the case where the committee has appointed an assessor to value the cattle or sheep, the person so appointed must be an exporter, but not the person concerned in the claim. The same thing applies in the case of pigs—the person must be an exporter of pigs but must not be concerned in the particular claim. We are departing from the ordinary insurance law here, inasmuch as we are making the assessment final and there shall be no appeal from the award of the assessors.

Under the Foot and Mouth Act, on which, as I said, this was based to a great extent, there is a provision under which the Minister for Agriculture can suspend the levy if the fund reaches a certain amount. As a matter of fact, that levy has been suspended for some years. When the fund reached £40,000, I think it was, the levy was suspended, and I am glad to say that there has been no claim on that fund for some years past. We do not propose in this Bill to suspend the levy, because I think the claims would be much more frequent than under the Foot and Mouth Act. But we have power to lower the levy to a very small amount, if the board becomes prosperous.

What is the amount?

There is no amount mentioned.

I mean under the Foot and Mouth Act.

It was threepence for a long time, but, as I say, it has been suspended.

I mean the amount in the fund.

£40,000. I think that gives an outline of the Bill. I should like to say again that it would have been a very good thing if we had had this Bill ready when the war commenced, as we would have had a very fine fund. The present is not a very good time to bring this Bill into operation, but it is just as well, I think, that the Bill should be passed, so that we will be able to bring it into operation when the time arrives for doing it. The cattle trade intend that this Bill should be permanent, and when the war is over they mean to go on with their own mutual insurance.

With the general scheme here outlined we have no fault to find. But I want to make this quite clear from the very word "go" There are certain individuals whose livelihood will be destroyed as a result of this scheme being adopted. There are only two or three men concerned, but they are men who have been doing an honest trade in canvassing and arranging insurance for the live stock exporters of this country. They are men with family commitments and they have given useful service to the live stock trade when their services were badly wanted. I am prepared to help in the improvement of this Bill by such suggestions as may be necessary on the Committee Stage; but I would help in the passage of no Bill designed to destroy the livelihood of honest men unless and until proper provision is made for them. I believe that work could be found for these men within the four walls of this scheme, and I want the Minister to give me an undertaking on the next stage of the Bill that that has been done, or that compensation, which is fair and just in all the circumstances, has been arranged for them. It may not be possible for the Minister to say that compensation will be found out of State funds; it may not be possible for the Minister to say that he himself will employ the displaced persons; but if he comes before the House and says that he is satisfied that the legitimate interests of these men have been safeguarded, that is good enough for me. I think the Minister will sympathise with my anxiety to ensure that these men will not go unprotected.

There is no doubt that the Live Stock Traders' Association will derive very considerable benefit under this Bill. I am glad that they should derive that. I have always tried to champion their cause in this House and outside, not because I love them particularly, but because I believe they are valuable public servants and that they have built up and sustained the live stock industry in Ireland. But, much as I appreciate their past services to this State, and much as I hope from their services in future, I do not think I am asking too much when I ask that they should safeguard the positions of these men. I do not believe in making requests based on the "old school tie". I think there is no use making requests unless you put a few teeth in them. I am prepared to play ball and to help this business along if they will play ball with me. But, if they want to get rough, I can get rough too. I hope there will be no "rough house" in regard to this matter, seeing that we have so much "rough house" going on elsewhere in the world at the present time.

I welcome this Bill. I think it is probably the best and cheapest form of insurance that we could have at the present time. I agree with the Minister that it is a pity we had not this sort of insurance protection since the inception of the war. However, it is not too late to start. There are just one or two points mentioned by the Minister to which I wish to refer. The Minister told us that the consignee could declare his own valuation. I wonder whether that would be a wise measure or not. The exporter might decide at a particular period that the risk was not very great, and during that period he might declare a very low valuation. Then, in a particular week, when the risk appeared to be very great, he might declare the full valuation, or even more than the full valuation. I want to draw the Minister's attention to that. I am doubtful whether you can rely absolutely on an exporter to declare the valuation. The tendency on the part of some people will be, during a period when the risk is not very great, to declare a low valuation, while the more honest type of exporter will declare a fair valuation all the time. There must be some protection afforded and a reasonable contribution made by all to the fund. You cannot do it by that method. I think the Minister ought to look into that.

Then there is another question. We are liable at present for the risk until the cattle arrive at their destination. In the case of store cattle, their destination may be far inland on the other side. Taking the present situation into account, and the fact that we may anticipate an increase of air raids and bombings on the other side, there will be a tendency to bomb railheads where the store cattle may be left for a period of three or four hours during the busiest part of the day. Therefore, this risk may prove to be enormous within the next few months. That we should be asked to bear the risk and pay the war risk insurance on cattle to their destination at the other side is, I suggest, unreasonable. It is a matter which, I suggest, should be put up to the British Government immediately. At the very most we should be only expected to pay the war risk insurance until the arrival at the port of disembarkation. In the next few months there will probably be intense aerial activity, and there is no doubt that we shall lose any amount of live stock at many railheads on the other side. I think it is unreasonable to expect that we should provide against that loss.

I notice that the title of this Bill is "Exported Live Stock (Insurance) Bill." Apparently, the Minister intends under that title to cover war risks.

I thought that war risks were not covered under insurance. If there is anything wrong with the title, perhaps the Minister would look into the matter. War risk is expressly excluded under other insurances. I agree with what Deputy Hughes said about the 72 hours after stock is landed at the British landing stage. Under Section 18, there may be heavy premiums wanted for such risks. There is a terrible risk in covering stock for 72 hours after arrival in British ports. Does after the stock is landed, mean after the ship has arrived, or when beasts are actually ashore, because minutes or even seconds may count? Apparently, stamps are going to be affixed in connection with this insurance. That seems to me to be a clumsy way of doing business. Anybody who has to lick a great many stamps knows that. Could the Minister not find a better way, so that the value would be declared and the amount of insurance settled? The Minister apparently envisages damage being caused to live stock. I suppose that is the ordinary shipping risk. Some people may want to cover that risk and not cover war risk. Has the Minister taken power in Section 17 to have different rates for various risks? There is, for instance, the question of total loss, apart from war risks, and there would also be a question as to whether delivery would be taken when beasts were driven ashore or later. There should be power in the section to vary the rates.

I understand that the Minister does not propose to put the provisions into operation now.

I would not be inclined to do so under present circumstances.

When dealing with the quota of 40,000 cwts. for bacon, I asked the Minister to keep up the levy and to make a much larger fund. In connection with this Bill, I think that a board of eight is too large. I understood that the levy was to be 1/- a head on cattle. Is that what is proposed?

At present, 5/- and 10/- are being paid.

A good many are not insured at all.

Has the Minister considered the question of making it a condition that they should be insured, of making a charge and dealing with it accordingly? Are the animals the property of exporters until they are taken over, or do they belong to the purchasers? The Minister ought to consider seriously the question of insurance. It is possible when the war is over, if we ever see such an eventuality, that the price of cattle will diminish, and as it diminishes the incidence of this charge increases. If this provision is ever going to work it ought to work during this period. If he wished, the Minister could after the Bill so as to ensure that insurance carried only as far as the landing stage. It is other people's business to insure over there. It ought to be worked on that basis or there should be some agreement to that effect. It seems, if we are going to pass this Bill now, that we should decide, in view of what is happening, to put it into operation.

I am not aware of the extent to which some people are going to suffer as a result of this Bill. Deputy Dillon mentioned people who are making a living, presumably by canvassing exporters, by the insurance of live stock. These insurances are done altogether by foreign companies. We have no native companies doing marine or war-risk insurance. I presume that the agents who canvassed for that business are also canvassing for many other things, and that this line would be only part of their income. I promise to look into the matter before the next stage. As Deputy Hughes stated, a person may try to size up the situation, by taking it that there is not going to be an accident, and insuring fairly low, but if he thought that there might be a probability of accident, he would insure on a higher scale. He may be wrong, but he has to take the risk if he insures low, and if an accident happens.

Very often he might be right.

Yes. It would be enormously costly if we had to put valuers at every port.

What about a weight basis?

I suppose the weight basis would work fairly equitably. Then there would be the case of old cows.

There would be special rates for cows.

There might be something of that kind. The cattle trade representatives put up a scheme to the Department. It is not the sort of scheme by which the cattle trade could do any injury to producers. It is a matter for themselves, and on that account the Department would not interfere very much. We discussed this scheme and made suggestions, some of which were adopted, and others they persuaded us that it was better not to adopt. On the whole we took their scheme. They are satisfied with the ad valorem basis. They think it will be an easy scheme to work.

At very great expense.

The amount is declared and they accept the ad valorem basis. If that is not accepted it would be costly, because you must have someone to assess value. We will meet the cattle trade representatives again to discuss the matter. With regard to the point raised by Deputy Hughes and by Deputy Cosgrave, as to the length that the cattle may be on the other side, and if that will be our liability, that is another question. All this Bill does is to provide that if a person here has cattle at the other side he is insured up to 72 hours. It is really a matter for the Government to negotiate with the British Government as to how long we should accept liability. We have been inquiring into it. In the case of fat cattle, when they are landed they are taken over by the controller. If stores are sent over, perhaps they go to an auction in the midlands or on to a farm. They are the property of the exporter until delivered and the British Government or this Government cannot interfere there. As they are the property of the exporter then they are covered by him. The question of whether it is fair or unfair for people at this side to carry the risk at the other side is not one to be dealt with by this Bill. The two Governments have to try to get as fair an arrangement as possible. I do not feel that I could put up a good case to the British Government that they should carry the risk until our cattle are sold. I am afraid that we will have to carry that risk.

They are doing it from other countries—on the cash and carry basis.

But they have bought the stuff. They are taking our bacon at the port here and they are taking the risk across the Irish Sea. They are taking our fat cattle at the port. Our store cattle are consigned to be sold on the other side and, that being so, I do not see how we could put up the argument that we are not responsible until these cattle are sold. The British are fairly good at arguing these points. As to the exact time from which the 72 hours commence, perhaps it is not defined very well. I must look into that point. Deputy Dockrell may take it that the benefit will be given to the exporter whenever a doubt arises. You have three members of the cattle trade to decide the issue and they are not going to be too hard on one of themselves. If there is any doubt, they will probably give the benefit of it to the exporter. If we can, we shall define it a little more precisely. As to the stamps, they will be of various denominations. They will be issued for sums of 1/-, 5/-, 10/-, £1 and, perhaps, £5. A person will not, therefore, have to lick so many of them. If a man exports 50 head of cattle, he will only have to use four or five stamps to make up the exact amount.

The Bill does cover both war risk and marine insurance. It does not refer to war risk. It refers to insurance, whatever the liability may be. Whatever exporters require will be covered by the Bill. It will cover war risk as well as marine insurance and, if there is no war risk, it will cover marine insurance. I do not know whether "marine insurance" is a proper term or not, but if we say it is a proper term then it becomes a proper term, whatever the dictionary may say.

The courts might say it did not include war risk.

As to the size of the board, I distinctly remember discussing that matter with the cattle trade. I had the same opinion as Deputy Cosgrave—that it would be better to have a small business board. They explained that they had to cover various interests—fat cattle exporters, store cattle exporters, sheep exporters— though few people are engaged solely in sheep export—and pig exporters. There was a geographical difficulty as well. Cork is important as well as Dublin, and they thought that, to have a representative board, it would be necessary to have at least eight members. I did not object. I did not object to anything they thought would be best for themselves. Deputy Cosgrave raised the point that, when the war is over, cattle values will probably go down. Insurance is on an ad valorem basis and will also go down. If the fund gets fairly sound, and, if we can afford it, we may lower the rate by order at any time. It can be either raised or lowered.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage fixed for Wednesday, 26th June.