Committee on Finance. - Racing Board and Racecourses Bill, 1945—Financial Resolution.

I move:—

(1) That there shall be charged, levied and paid a levy, at such rate as shall be fixed by the Racing Board, with the consent of the Minister, under statutory authority, on every course bet entered into by a licensed bookmaker on or after a date to be fixed by the Minister under statutory authority.

(2) That the said levy shall be paid to the Racing Board by the licensed bookmaker by whom the course bet, in respect of which the said levy is payable, is entered into.

(3) That provision shall be made by statute for the collection and enforcing of payment of the said levy.

(4) That in this Resolution— the expression "the Minister" means the Minister for Finance;

the expression "the Racing Board" means a board to be established under that name by statute;

the expression "licensed bookmaker" means a person who is for the time being the holder of a bookmaker's licence issued to him under the Betting Act, 1931 (No. 27 of 1931);

the expression "course bet" means a bet entered into by a licensed bookmaker, during a race meeting held on a racecourse and at that racecourse or in the precincts thereof, on a horse race forming an item at that race meeting.

I think the Dáil understands that any time there is a levy imposed on the people, or on any section of the people, it is necessary to get, in a special and independent way, the leave of the House for such imposition. That is the purpose of the Financial Resolution.

One of the main purposes of the present Bill is to provide adequate funds for the benefit of horse racing and horse breeding, and it is proposed that these funds shall be collected and distributed by a racing board. The 10 per cent. deduction from the totalisator pool would not be sufficient for the purpose in view and, consequently, the Government have decided, and the Bill so provides, that the Racing Board should be empowered to collect a levy, at a rate not exceeding 5 per cent., on all course bets as defined in the Resolution and in the Bill.

Chapter III of Part III of the Bill deals with the imposition of the levy on course bets. That portion of the Bill is to come into force on a date to be fixed by Order of the Minister for Finance and, no doubt, there will be some interval between the passing of the Act and the actual introduction of the levy so as to allow time for the Racing Board to make the necessary arrangements and to issue course betting permits to bookmakers under Chapter II of Part III.

Section 26 of the Bill provides the necessary legal obligation on the bookmaker to pay the levy, but it will be noted that the consent of the Minister for Finance is necessary before the board prescribe the rate of levy. In no case can the rate of levy exceed 5 per cent.

Section 27 of the Bill enables the board, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, to make the necessary regulations for securing the payment of the levy, and the terms of the Resolution (Clause 3) relate to these provisions in the Bill for the collection and enforcing of the levy. Sections 28 and 29 confer the necessary powers on the board to secure that their officers will be able to inspect the books and records of course bookmakers, whether at their premises or on the course. It is expected that the method and procedure to be adopted by the Racing Board for the collection of the levy will be on similar lines to those applied by the Revenue Commissioners in the enforcement of the betting duty. Bookmakers, who are familiar with the practice of the Revenue Commissioners, should therefore have no difficulty in adapting themselves to the requirements of the Racing Board.

It must be emphasised that what is now proposed is not a tax collected for the benefit of the Exchequer. The Exchequer has no direct interest in the matter whatever and the full amount of the levy will be used by the Racing Board for the benefit of horse racing and horse breeding in accordance with the purposes set out in the Bill.

Neither is it proposed that the levy should be an imposition on bookmakers. It is expected that they will pass on the levy to their clients and that this contribution towards the improvement and development of racing and breeding will be borne by the race-going public who already contribute to this object 10 per cent. of any bets they may place with the totalisator. Apart from the important national interest served by providing funds for the twin interests of racing and breeding, the race-going public will, it is expected, derive advantage from the operations of the racing board. They are empowered to apply their resources towards the reduction of admission charges and the improvement of amenities at racecourses.

It will be recollected that a revenue duty on course bets was in operation from the 1st November, 1926, until the 1st August, 1931. The duty was thus in operation over four full financial years, when the receipts were: 1927-28, £61,959; 1928-29, £44,886; 1929-30, £52,190; and 1930-31, £49,548.

Taking the average yield at £50,000 from that duty of 2½ per cent. the volume of course betting was about £2,000,000 a year. The duty was dropped in 1931, not because the Minister for Finance at the time was convinced that it was difficult to collect or that it had any harmful effects on racing, but because persistent propaganda was being used to ascribe to the tax all the results flowing from a general depression in racing, coupled with a lack of energy and initiative on the part of racecourse executives and those responsible. At least that was the view of the Minister for Finance at the time, as set out in his Budget speech of May, 1931.

It will also be recollected that in the Budget of 1941 it was proposed to reimpose the 2½ per cent. duty on course bets for revenue purposes. Deputy Cosgrave opposed the proposal on the grounds that a relatively small number of people placed the bulk of the aggregate of course bets and that the tax was a serious imposition on these few, who were mainly breeders, trainers and owners. Deputy Fogarty opposed the proposal which, he said, was a burden that racing could ill afford. The Minister withdrew the proposal before the Second Stage of the Finance Bill and contented himself with securing the additional revenue required by increasing the 5 per cent. tax on shop bets to 7½ per cent. The objections urged against the former tax proposals do not apply to the levy on bets, the proceeds of which will be used for the benefit of racing and breeding.

Under the Bill course bookmakers will be obliged to obtain a permit from the Racing Board. This step is necessary to provide the board with the means of securing the co-operation of the bookmakers in the collection of the levy. Bookmakers should realise that their interests and those of the board are identical because the more money that is collected and expended on the improvement of racing, the greater will be the attraction for the public and the greater will be the volume of betting. Moreover, the Bill recognises the need for the continued existence of course bookmaking, and has been described as "the bookmakers' charter" in so far as it removes from them the danger that they might be eliminated in favour of the totalisator. The bookmakers will have a voice on the Racing Board and will in this way be in a position to secure that they are not subjected to any unjust or inequitable treatment at the hands of the board. So much for the Financial Resolution.

Maidir leis an mBille, mar is léir ón teideal fada, is é cuspóir an bhille seo ná Bórd, ar a dtugtar an Bórd Rásaíochta, do chur ar bun chun síolrú capall agus rásaíocht chapall d'fheabhsú. Beidh cumhacht ag an mBórd socruithe do dhéanamh i dtaobh geallghlacadóirí a dhéanann gealltóireacht chúrsa agus dleachta d'fhorchur ar gheall-ghlacadóirí i leith geall cúrsa. Nuair a bheidh an Bórd nua ag obair, ní bheidh aon ghá Bórd Urlámhas na Gealltóireachta Meicniúla in nEirinn do choiméad beo agus tá an Bille chun an Bórd san do scur agus a maoine agus a bhfiachas d'aistriú chun an Bhúird Rásaíochta. Mar sin, beidh cumhacht ag an mBórd Rásaíochta ceadúnas fé Acht na Suimitheóirí, 1929 d'fháil chun suimitheóirí do bhunú, do choimneáil ar siúl agus d'oibriú.

Is dóigh leis an Ríaltas go mbeidh gá le Bórd den tsaghas seo nuair a bheidh aimsir na práinne thart, agus creideann siad go bhféadfar na cuspóirí atá ar aigne acu a chur i gcrích sa tslí is fearr trí shocruithe an bhille atá ós ar gcomhair anois.

The purpose of the Bill as stated in the opening words of the Long Title is "to provide for the improvement and development of horse racing and horse breeding" and it is intended as a contribution towards post-emergency planning. At present Irish racing is enjoying boom conditions similar to the conditions which existed at the end of the previous war. The Government consider, however, that unless suitable measures are taken now to provide further funds for the assistance of racing and horse breeding the industry may again experience difficult conditions such as existed during the decade from 1926-1935. It is likely that the resumption of racing on a full scale in Britain, where stakes are normally much higher than here, will result in an exodus not alone of horses which are being raced here by British owners at the moment, but also in the sale of the best quality animals by Irish owners unless the stakes to be raced for here are sufficiently attractive to induce them to retain the animals here.

Unless constructive steps are taken now it is likely, therefore, that the immediate post-war period would see a boom in the exports of bloodstock which would be likely to denude the country of the best animals with a subsequent deterioration in the quality of the horses bred here and a falling off in the value of exports in the long run. The export trade in bloodstock, as well as in horses of the hunter class, should be of great value to this country but the possibility of achieving a long-term expansion of this trade after the emergency depends largely on whether racing is in a healthy and prosperous condition here.

The central purpose of the Bill is, therefore, the provision of adequate funds to be used for the betterment of horse breeding and horse racing. As well as being a valuable industry which gives considerable employment and provides a market for many different types of agricultural and industrial products, horse racing is an amusement and recreation for a large section of the public and it is considered that the necessary funds for the purposes mentioned can be provided in the most suitable manner by the patrons of the sport, if the machinery embodied in the Bill before the House is set up.

The provisions of the Bill fall into four main parts. Part I is the usual general section concerned mainly with the definition of the various authorities mentioned in the Bill and the technical terms used. I would like to draw attention to the definition of a "course bet" which follows the definition used when such bets were subject to a betting duty of 2½ per cent. in the period 1926-1931.

The expression "Governing Body" refers to the Irish Turf Club or the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee. The first of these is a very old authority, the first edition of the Irish Racing Calender having been produced by the Turf Club in 1791, and it may be worth mentioning that at that time the club had three stewards just as it has to-day.

The Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee is of more recent origin and was formed in 1870. These two bodies have disciplinary control over the conduct of race meetings under the Rules of Racing and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules. They also control the operation of the totalisator on racecourses through the size of their representation on the Board of Control for Mechanical Betting in Ireland on which body they have 12 out of 16 members.

Part II of the Bill provides for the establishment of a racing board composed of 11 members, all of whom will be appointed by the Minister for Finance after consultation with the Minister for Agriculture. Section 5 (ii) of the Bill provides that each person appointed as a member of the board shall be a person who, in the opinion of the Minister, is representative of or otherwise connected with racing (including the management of racecourses) or the ownership or breeding of bloodstock or bookmaking or other like pursuits.

Six members of the board will be persons who are members of either the Turf Club or the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee but not necessarily stewards or officials of these bodies. The functions of the Racing Board will not interfere with the disciplinary control of racing exercised by the governing bodies under the Rules of Racing and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules.

The members will be appointed for a five year term of office and will be eligible for re-appointment. They will not receive any remuneration for their services as members of the board but may be reimbursed their out-of-pocket expenses incurred in connection with the business of the board. The members will appoint their own chairman who will hold office for a period of a year.

The board will have at its disposal moneys arising from totalisator betting and from a levy on course bets with bookmakers. It will have, in addition, power to borrow up to £20,000 or in excess of that sum with the consent of the Minister for Finance. The board is also being given power to hold a licence under the Totalisator Act, 1929. It may spend the moneys at its disposal on the establishment and equipment of racecourses but must first obtain the consent of the governing bodies. This is a permissive power and may not be used by the board in the immediate future. In addition the board may make grants or loans for many purposes including the increase of stake money, the reduction of entrance fees and similar charges, the payment of the carriage of horses competing at race meetings, the reduction of admission charges to the public, the improvement of racecourses and the amenities thereof, and other purposes conducive to the improvement of horse-racing, the breeding of horses and the development of the export trade in horses.

In this connection, the board will have certain powers of control. It may attach to any grants or loans made by it such conditions as it thinks proper and it may, after consultation with the governing bodies, make regulations controlling the manner in which racecourses, at which racing is authorised by the governing bodies, are to be managed and controlled, with the object of securing that in the management and control of racecourses service uniformly satisfactory to the industry and to the racing public is rendered by these executives. Such regulations may require the executives to keep their books in the prescribed manner, to furnish returns and information required by the board and to produce accounts and records. The board is also being given considerable powers over course bookmakers by virtue of the issue of course betting permits and of the regulations for the collection of levy. All regulations made by the board for the latter purpose will be subject to the consent of the Minister for Finance.

Part III of the Bill provides for the granting by the racing board of permits authorising bookmakers to carry on their business at racecourses.

Without such a permit it will, under the terms of the Bill, be unlawful for a bookmaker to conduct business at a racecourse. Deputies will recollect that the Irish Racing Commission which was set up by the Turf Club and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee in 1942, reported in favour of the restriction of permission to carry on course-betting to existing course-bookmakers, with the intent that the business should be gradually extinguished. The Government have not adopted the view that bookmakers should be gradually banished from Irish racecourses, but it has been found necessary to provide in the Bill that through the medium of the course-betting permits, the Racing Board will have a measure of control over bookmakers carrying on business on racecourses, particularly having regard to the provisions in the Bill for the collection of a levy on course bets. The statutory recognition thus given to the business of course-betting by the Bill can be regarded by the bookmakers as a welcome release from the danger that steps might be taken, as recommended by the Irish Racing Commission, to extinguish the business and to concentrate all course-betting on the totalisator.

The third part of the Bill also provides for the collection by the Racing Board of a levy on course bets. The amount of the levy, which will be fixed by the board with the consent of the Minister for Finance will, under the terms of the Bill, not exceed 5 per cent. of each course bet. The levy will be payable by the bookmaker on the amount of each course bet placed with him. It is intended that the levy should be passed on to the backer, and the bookmakers should ensure that it will in fact be borne by the betting public. I have little doubt but that the Racing Board will encourage bookmakers to observe a uniform practice in this respect. It will be appreciated that the transfer to the Racing Board of this power to collect a levy on course bets deprives the Minister for Finance of a potential source of revenue for the Exchequer, and in that way the measure may be regarded as an important contribution by the State towards the improvement and development of horse racing and horse breeding.

It is intended that the regulations to be made by the Racing Board for securing the payment of the levy will follow on the lines of the existing Betting Duty Regulations which are administered by the Revenue Commissioners for the collection of the existing duty on shop bets. Accordingly, the Bill provides that bookmakers may either pay the levy on the basis of returns furnished by them, or may purchase Levy Paid Betting Sheets from the board. The adoption of this procedure will make the filling up of their returns simpler for bookmakers who will, thus, have much the same procedure for the payment of the levy on course bets as exists at present for the payment of the duty on shop bets.

Part IV provides for the dissolution of the existing Board of Control for Mechanical Betting in Ireland, and for the transfer of its assets and liabilities to the Racing Board, which will thereafter become the licensee for the purpose of totalisator betting. The Board of Control, since its establishment in 1930, has carried on its business with the greatest efficiency and success, but in view of the wider functions to be entrusted to the new board constituted under the Bill, a more representative body than the Board of Control is now required. It would be an unnecessary duplication of services to continue the Board of Control in addition to the Racing Board.

A feature of racing here in recent years has been the great success of totalisator betting, and the Government have a deep appreciation of the services rendered voluntarily and with great public spirit by the members of the Board of Control for Mechanical Betting. In the first year of its operation—1930—the turn-over was only £99,000, and as the duty on course betting was in operation at the time, the gross income of the board was only £7,425.

The board went through a difficult period subsequently with a large overdraft which had been incurred in connection with the erection of totalisator buildings on racecourses. Progress was slow for some time but the initial difficulties had been surmounted before the emergency period when, with the limitations on racing in Great Britain and the retention in Ireland of more horses of first grade quality which would normally have been sold for export to other countries, Irish racing entered on the present period of prosperity which has been affected to some extent by transport difficulties. As a result of the careful constructive work of the previous decade, the board was able to take full advantage of this prosperity. Its turnover reached the record figure of £486,500 in 1944, giving a gross income of £48,600 derived from the 10 per cent. deduction made from all sums staked with the totalisator. In the circumstances, I would like to take this opportunity to convey to the members of the board the thanks of the Government for the manner in which the totalisator has been conducted by them during the past 15 years.

In addition to the four main parts of the Bill, provision is made in Part V for the giving of legal effect to an exclusion order made by either the Turf Club or the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee against any person in respect of racecourses where racing is carried on under their rules.

I hope that the Bill will meet with the general approval of all Parties in the House. It provides an organisation for securing, through the activities of this representative Racing Board, the betterment of racing and breeding in the coming years. It is important that the Bill should be enacted as soon as possible and I ask for the co-operation of the House in achieving this.

The Irish horse is renowned for his speed and stamina, and the Irish hunter for his wonderful capacity to jump. Our people have a natural love for the horse. We have in this country conditions, expert experience and knowledge which enable us to produce horses second to none in the world. I think we should exploit to the fullest that instinctive expert knowledge to breed excellent animals and our peculiar soil conditions to grow the finest animals. Any legislation aimed at promoting the interests of the horse breeding industry, its development and expansion will, I have no doubt, command the support of every Party in the House. I think that at this period we should aim at taking a commanding lead in the horse breeding industry of the world. It is not generally appreciated what our position was some years back. It is not appreciated that the year before the economic war commenced the aggregate of our sales at Doncaster was greater than that of the British sales there. British breeders were amazed and surprised that Irish breeders, the bulk of them small men, had achieved such a wonderful position in the horse breeding world. The economic war had a disastrous effect on horse breeding, and on the export trade generally, but for some years before the present war the industry had shown a marked recovery. France was our most formidable competitor. We all deplore the unfortunate position in which the French horse breeding industry now finds itself. The fact is that we have maintained some of the finest blood in the world in this country, and have all the advantages to enable us to take a commanding world lead in the horse breeding industry. I feel that this Bill will help in that respect. It may be asked—how is this Bill going to help the small breeder?

How will he benefit by it? Is it only the big breeder who will benefit by it? We must understand that we can sell even young stock in Great Britain and other countries only by establishing and maintaining a good name for that stock. That good name will be maintained only by racing. We shall be able to keep the finest horses at home— horses that command good prices— only if racing at home is made sufficiently attractive. A colleague of the Minister has stated that we may have an exchange problem in the post-war period. Here we have an industry which may be a source of foreign exchange. We may hope to sell Irish horses in every country interested in racing. A commission was set up by the governing bodies in 1942 to inquire into the present and post-war conditions of Irish racing and to report back to the stewards and members of the Turf Club and the National Hunt stewards. That commission submitted a very interesting and useful report. Their chief comment had reference to the necessity for providing additional money and better stakes. It is generally admitted in the racing world that a man cannot race in this country on stake money. It is not possible to make racing pay on stake money alone. It is recognised that a man, in order to remain in the racing industry, must be able to lay good, profitable bets. If he is not, able to supplement his income, so far as racing is concerned, by betting, it is not possible to make the industry pay because stakes are low and expenses are high. For that reason, any legislation aimed at increasing the stakes and helping the industry, generally, will be appreciated by those interested. Section 15 of the Bill sets out the aims and objects, which include the making of grants or loans for any one or more of the following purposes.

"The increase of stake money and prizes at horse racing held at authorised racecourses; the reduction of entrance fees and similar charges in respect of such horse races; the carriage of horses competing at such race meetings; the reduction of the charges to the public for admission to authorised racecourses; the improvement of authorised racecourses and the amenities thereof; any other purpose, approved by the Minister, conducive to the improvement of horse racing; any purposes approved by the Minister, conducive to the improvement of the breeding of horses or to the development of the export trade in horses."

From the moneys that accrue from this levy and the 10 per cent. off the totalisator, a substantial sum should be available to the Racing Board for the purposes set out in the Bill. The Minister did not give the House any estimate of the sum likely to accrue from the totalisator fund and the levy.

I gave the figures which we already had.

Fifty thousand pounds from betting.

I gave the figures of the sums already accrued and I took it that they might be regarded as an estimate of what we are likely to get. From the amount we received when there was a betting tax on racecourses, we estimated the turnover of ordinary bets on the course at £2,000,000 a year. It would be much more now.

The Minister did mention a sum of £2,000,000 a year and he said that there would be an average revenue from that sum of £2,000,000 of £50,000, but we have no information regarding the sum that may accrue from the totalisator.

I gave the figures for the totalisator also.

Ninety-nine thousand pounds in 1930.

That was the first year. It was nearly £500,000 last year.

The personnel of this board will be selected by the Minister from six members, to be known as governors, from the governing bodies of the Turf Club and the National Hunt Committee. I might be inclined to criticise the method of selection and suggest that a panel should be put up to the Minister from those bodies so as to give the bodies a voice in the selection but, bearing in mind the peculiar type of governing body we have, it may be as well to leave the selection to the Minister.

In setting up this board, the Minister should bear in mind that the backbone of the industry is the small breeder, who has an instinctively expert knowledge. Some small breeders who are breeding from low-priced mares and going to low-priced sires are able, from their extraordinary knowledge and the attention they give to the breeding of the animals, to go to the Doncaster sales and obtain good prices. I think that that shows that the small breeder is an expert—possibly more expert than the big breeder. Of course, the big studs are essential and are an asset to the industry, because they create records and advertise Irish horses and Irish horse-breeding. The small man has, to a great extent, to rely on the bigger horse-breeding and training establishments to make records and advertise the industry. The Minister should bear in mind that the small man ought to be given a definite voice when this board is being set up. The aims set out in the Bill, if they come to fruition, should enhance the value of the horse-breeding industry.

This board will have fairly wide powers of control over horse racing, and it is true to say that there is room for a good deal of improvement in that respect. I think that I would not be wrong in suggesting that certain racing executives are making very attractive profits at the present time, that these profits are being paid away in the form of dividends instead of being put back into the improvement of racecourses and of racing in general. After all, such moneys, properly, belong there. It may be said that the board has no control over that matter, but it can control it indirectly by withholding stake money from the people who are not playing the game—money that should go back into racing—and by being generous to those racing executives that are prepared to put the money back into the industry. The board can control the matter indirectly, as I say, by refusing to give any help by way of grant to those racing executives that are not carrying out their duties in a proper way.

In that way the board can ensure that racing executives will carry out their responsibilities in the matter of improving the general standard of racing and providing better amenities on racecourses. That could be done by increasing the stakes in the case of those executives who are prepared to do their duty; and I am sure it will be admitted that in the case of many racecourses in this country there is much to be desired, and that there is certainly room for a good deal of improvement.

I should also like to call the Minister's attention to the fact that there is a very substantial increase in the number of "flapper" race meetings in the country. That is due to the fact that the old country race meetings are gone. Then there is also the case of the point-to-point races, the original object of which was to encourage the breeding of hunter horses. These point-to-point meetings have slowly and gradually changed from their original object into meetings for racehorses, to which the racehorse owner sends his horse in order to qualify and, of course, that racehorse is entered in a point-to-point race which was designed for hunters. I think that that is undesirable and that, eventually, it will react on the good name of the Irish hunter horse. The establishment of small racecourses in rural Ireland, in my opinion, ought to go a long way towards undoing that. What happens at the present time is that the small man is unable to compete with the bigger stables. He cannot hope to compete with them, since he has not the necessary financial backing, and in any case the bigger owners are entering horses in all the big and well-known racecourses and carrying off the prizes in every case. That is bound to react on the horse-breeding industry in general. I presume that this board will encourage and foster country races, generally, from that point of view. In that connection, however, I should like to say that I think it is wrong that members of racing executives should be members of the governing body because, as the Minister knows, it is the governing body which issues licences for the holding of races, and if members of the governing body are also members of racing executives, it is obvious that they will select the most suitable days for racing so far as the interests of their own particular racing executives are concerned, and that racing executives which are not represented on the governing body will be given the most unsuitable days. It is well known that there is a good deal of that kind of thing going on. I do not think that this Bill proposes to give any control over that abuse, and it is a definite abuse.

There is another important aspect of this problem of horse breeding and that is in connection with our sales abroad. The Minister referred to it, but he did not explain in what way the board will help the sales of our horses abroad. We all know that in normal times agents come to this country to buy horses for export to many countries all over the world, and I think it is generally understood that the producer does not get a fair price: that the agent often gets 50 per cent. of the price that the horse realises, and sometimes even more than 50 per cent. That is because we have not a proper sales organisation in this country. I might say that that is not peculiar to the horse-breeding industry; the same might be said to apply to the cattle-breeding industry, where the producer hands his stuff over to somebody else to sell for him, as a result of which he does not get what he is entitled to. I think that the board could help in that matter by advertising in the newspapers of countries all over the world, which might be interested in the purchase of our horses, the type of animals we can provide, their pedigrees, methods of breeding, and so on. That could be done if the board were to set up a proper sales organisation, which could let these countries know the various types of horses we have to offer, high-priced, medium-priced, or low-priced, and in that way the board could ensure that the primary producer would get full value for his animal or animals.

I must admit that I have heard some criticism of this Bill but, for the life of me, I cannot see where there is room for criticism if we bear in mind, all the time, that we are promoting this legislation in the interests of the horse-breeding industry. It is a very valuable industry, and I feel that there is a great opportunity now because, as the Minister himself has pointed out, we have not been involved in the war and, as a result, a great number of animals that, in normal times, would have been exported, are in the country and there is bound to be a great demand for them. We have a fine lot of breeding stock in the country at the moment, and if we are on our toes and are prepared to grasp our opportunities, we can be ahead of other countries when the war is over and take a commanding lead in this matter of the horse-breeding industry. France formerly was our chief competitor, and will now be looking for markets in America, South America and other countries which would be prepared to buy sires or brood mares of good stock. The Irish horse-breeding industry has a great name, but that name will not be maintained unless we put racing on a proper footing in this country, and the only way to do that is by the provision of the necessary facilities for racing. In that way, great help could be given towards increasing our sales abroad.

The Minister has already told us about the amount of revenue from totalisator funds. This racing board will control the totalisator. The Minister has given us figures showing that the turn-over from that source had increased from £99,000, in 1930, to approximately £500,000 last year. Coupled with the fact that the Minister gave us the figure of £2,000,000 in betting, which yielded an average of £50,000, that would mean a sum of, approximately, £150,000, which is a very useful sum of money. In addition, I understand that the board can borrow about £20,000, with the sanction of the Minister. In that connection, I think that whatever improvements can be effected should not be done out of direct income, but rather out of moneys borrowed, which could be repaid over a number of years.

It is true that bookmakers have expressed their opposition to this measure, and that some of the public are opposed to it also. I feel that anybody who is genuinely interested in the horse-breeding industry in this country should not be opposed to this measure, and I do not think that any genuinely interested person, anyone who has the interests of the industry at heart, would be prepared to express opposition to or criticism of this Bill. There is no analogy between this Bill and the levy that was put on a few years ago, which some people said had failed, although, according to the Minister's figures, it did not fail. In that case, however, the moneys accruing from the levy went to the Exchequer, whereas the moneys in this case are going to the horse-breeding industry. Accordingly, I hold that anybody who is genuinely interested in the development of the horse-breeding industry in this country should not begrudge a contribution to racing.

The opportunity is there, and as the time is favourable, we ought to take full advantage of it. The bookmakers are afraid of Section 25, under which the board is empowered to issue or to withhold permits, as the case may be. That is a very useful provision, as it is going to prevent welshing and absconding. It will ensure that decent honest men will stand up to make a book. A man who is prepared to act honestly and conscientiously need not be a bit afraid of being refused a permit. It was suggested to me that, instead of striking a levy, the betting charge might be increased. According to the Totalisator Act of 1929, the charge to bookmakers on a racecourse was five times the admission charge.

That provision is being deleted. Obviously it must be deleted if the charge is going to be reduced, because if the board reduces admission charges generally to the public, existing betting charges could not be maintained. The racing executive is empowered to charge not more than five times the admission charge. It was suggested that that charge as a source of revenue might be doubled or trebled. I understand that it yielded £16,000 last year. I feel that that would not be a solution, because it would kill the small bookmaker if he had to pay three or four times the amount of the levy instead of a levy on bets handed over to the betting board. There could not be a flat charge on bookmakers generally, because in that case small men would be crushed out.

Big and small.

Time will tell. The Minister made it clear that it had not had a detrimental effect, and that revenue was maintained for five or six years. If so, why should it be removed? The Minister explained the reason for its removal. There was a good deal of agitation about it, but the figures did not reveal that it had had any detrimental effect. Those making the biggest bets will be owners of racehorses. While the levy will fall heavily upon them they realise that whatever levy is collected on bets will be put back into racing. For that reason I do not think they will object. People interested in racing on the Curragh, trainers and breeders, to whom I spoke, are satisfied that this is a measure that is certainly going to be very helpful to the horse-breeding industry. Coupled with this Bill, we may anticipate legislation in the near future to set up a national stud, which will further enhance Irish racing. The Minister might explain what appears to be an anomaly in the Bill between subsection (2) which states that every bet the subject of a levy shall be a bet determined in favour of the bookmaker, and the Financial Resolution which appears to me to suggest that the levy would be charged on every bet made. The Minister might look into the point to see if my interpretation is right. The Minister stated that the maximum levy would be 5 per cent.

It is not likely that the maximum levy will be made immediately, as if there is the proper kind of board they will exercise their jurisdiction in an industry in which they will be keenly interested. I am sure the Minister will select the right personnel for that board. If so, they will be careful about proposing a levy that might have a detrimental effect on the industry. The whole success of this Bill depends on the type of board selected. This legislation proposes to empower the Minister to select the board. He is limited to six members as governors, and to five others.

The board will select its own chairman.

Yes. If the Minister puts the right material on the board, I believe this legislation will prove very successful, and will be very helpful to the horse-breeding industry.

The world-wide record of the Irish racehorse and Irish hunter is so high, that I think it behoves us to do everything we possibly can to maintain the reputation of these animals in the international market. If we are to do that, it is essential that we should take every possible step properly to organise the racing industry, because racing is the show window of our bloodstock industry. If Deputies were satisfied that this Bill would achieve the object which the Minister has in mind, there would be a very warm welcome for it amongst all Parties. Of course, some Deputies who have listened on previous occasions to magnificently eloquent introductory speeches in favour of measures, and whose enthusiasm for them proved disappointing when they failed to achieve the desired object, are a bit doubtful whether this Bill will achieve the object the Minister has in mind. If, however, it does achieve the measure of success expected by this method of administration I welcome the Bill generally, subject to some objections which I shall express later. One very good thing this Bill does is that it takes control out of the hands of two bodies which have been running racing here for generations. The reason why racing development here has been stagnant is because it was in the hands of these two bodies.

As a matter of fact, life has changed everywhere and practices and methods of life have changed everywhere, except in those two bodies responsible in the main for the running of Irish racing. I think we should congratulate them on preserving still-life so far as racing control is concerned. If this Bill widens control of Irish racing, puts it into more democratic hands, and gives power of control to people who are nearer to the soil, and nearer the tempo and the pulse of the mass of the people, it will do one very useful thing, so far as racing control is concerned. Everybody knows that there is an acute need for the reorganisation of the racing industry in the country. It is almost impossible to induce the Turf Club or the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee to do anything different from what they did 50 years ago. If anybody suggests a reform, their mentality seems to be: "Do not rock the boat, lad; this boat has been sailing along in its own merry way for the last 50 years; we have been doing this thing for 50 years; leave it alone; do not get away from whatever has been the practice in the past." I think there is an enormous amount of improvement which could be carried out at racecourses for the comfort of racegoers, such as improvement in the amenities, lower charges—some of which are outrageous for the accommodation provided—and generally to make it possible for the ordinary citizen to attend a race meeting and enjoy there a reasonable standard of comfort at a charge within his capacity to pay.

There is one aspect of the Bill to which I should like to make reference, namely, the provision for a levy of 5 per cent. There is a ceiling of 5 per cent. fixed in the Bill. The Minister did not tell us why 5 per cent. was fixed. From the figures he quoted it certainly did not seem to me as if any calculations were made as to the necessity for fixing 5 per cent. It may be that the Minister does not intend at the outset, or the board does not intend at the outset, even to seek authority for the imposition of a 5 per cent. levy, but if it is possible at this stage, bearing in mind that we are putting over a reorganisation scheme on the racing industry, to impose a levy of less than 5 per cent., say, 2½ per cent., I think the Minister ought to be satisfied at the outset with a 2½ per cent. levy until such time as it can be shown that a 5 per cent. levy or a higher levy than 2½ per cent. is necessary order to bring about the reorganisation of the industry that this Bill contemplates. I think the Minister is creating a needless opposition—if I may put it that way—to the Bill, some of it uninformed opposition, by imposing a 5 per cent. levy if, in fact, he can do the same thing by a lesser levy.

Of course, we are not imposing in the Bill a 5 per cent. levy. We are fixing a maximum.

You are fixing a ceiling of 5 per cent. So long as there is a ceiling of 5 per cent. it is possible to go up to 5 per cent.

I am suggesting to the Minister that he ought to tell us, when concluding, that at the outset it is not proposed to hit the ceiling immediately, that we will go up the wall in stages and not arrive at the ceiling immediately, because, if the Minister intends to impose 5 per cent. as a maximum, then the drafting of sub-section (6) of Section 26 is really faulty, because he might as well say it is intended to impose a levy of 5 per cent. directly. I would ask the Minister to bear that in mind when replying to the debate.

If there is anything that, in my opinion, has a vicious tinge about it, it is the atmosphere surrounding racing. I know of no other industry that has more vicious contradictions in it. On the one hand, there is a small group of very wealthy people who can go to a racecourse and have bets of £50 or £100. They can pay high charges for admission to the reserved enclosure; they can pay fancy prices for meals and refreshments; they can travel in luxury and the cost of getting there does not matter. They can have £1,500 on each of six or seven races in the day. That is one side of the racing industry. There is another side, and in order that the people I have referred to may have that type of sport, another section of the community, who have equal human rights, have to be exploited in the most soulless fashion, and are in fact exploited in the most soulless fashion. I do not know whether or not the Minister ever saw the inside of a racing stable. I do not know if he ever saw a trainer's establishment. I would suggest to him that, if he wants an eye-opener as to the conditions of life of some people in the country, he might go to some of the racing stables. The rates of wages paid to stable lads are notoriously low, where wages are paid at all. In some instances they are paid only by trade union action. One would want to be a strong man to wring a decent wage out of some trainers, because their pet aversion is to pay decent wages to stable lads. Many apprentices in racing stables do not get a halfpenny for a couple of years. In some cases they manage to get 3/6 or 5/- a week. If the Minister refers to a recent copy of the Leinster Leader he will see reported a case in which a trainer sued an apprentice for breach of contract. The apprentice came before the court and was asked how much a week he was getting. He was getting, in 1944, the magnificent wage of 3/6—3/6 for a human being, apprenticed to a racing stable. It is obvious that that lad could not go into the reserved enclosure too often, and it would be a long time before he would own a racehorse on the basis of that wage. I should like to draw the Minister's attention to the fact that some of these apprentices are paid no wages at all; others are paid notoriously low wages. Stable lads are paid very badly, and in many instances the food and living accommodation provided for them are simply appalling. Where their conditions have reached anything like tolerable standards, they have been established only by energetic and vigilant trade union action. In quite a number of instances it has not been possible to take that action, and in some cases where it has been taken it has not been possible effectively to bring about the necessary reformation.

I know many young lads who want to be jockeys. They have first to become apprentices and they have to serve for some years, as I said, without getting any wages and then get notoriously low wages. They all enter this industry in the hope that one day they will ride the winner of the Derby or the Grand National at Fairyhouse or the Conyngham Cup at Punchestown. The majority of them go into these stables and are never anything more than apprentices. Some of them become stable lads and the high hopes of being a jockey and of passing the winning post first on a 10 to 1 shot fade very quickly under the stern life of a racing stable.

If we are going to have a Bill to reorganise racing, if we are going to have a Bill for the purpose of putting the industry on a decent footing, it is necessary that there should be some complementary legislation to end the evil of having wealthy men in the reserved enclosure having £1,500 bets, regardless of the expense of getting there, regardless of the costs of entertaining themselves, while at the same time the industry which provides that entertainment for them is run on the basis of the most appalling conditions of labour.

Are the bets usually as big as that in the ring?

If the Minister goes down to the ring, as some of his colleagues could tell him, he will often hear of a person having a monkey on a horse.

How much is a monkey?

£500 on the Curragh. It has a different value in the Phoenix Park.

How much is a pony?

I am not going to teach the Deputy the vernacular. He must learn it for himself. I want now to come to Section 25 of the Bill. This section deletes sub-section (6) of Section 3 of the Totalisator Act, 1929, and the purpose apparently is to enable the board to charge new rates of admission to racecourses for bookmakers and the staffs employed by bookmakers. That seems to me to be capable of permitting the board to implement a policy of keeping the bookmaker off the course.

That is not the intention.

I am sure it is not the intention. I am not at all an admirer of mechanical methods of betting. I think the decent bookmaker lends colour and attraction to the course. If a person can afford to lose £5 or £10 at a race meeting, I think he can afford to put up with a bookmaker on the course. I think the decent bookmaker lends colour to the course and certainly a racecourse in Ireland where there was no bookmaker shouting would be pretty well like a cemetery. I think he is a colourful personality in Irish racing life, and that if you went racing and did not hear a particular bookmaker shouting you would say: "Is poor old so-and-so sick to-day? Where his voice." I think there is a great deal to be said for encouraging the bookmaker on the course, if you believe that racing is an amenity, that it is a form of recreation for citizens. If the Minister says that it is not intended to permit the board under the terms of Section 25 (3) to squeeze out the bookmaker, then I think the Minister ought to give an assurance—I certainly will move an amendment on the matter on the Committee Stage—that the repeal of sub-section (6) of Section 3 of the Totalisator Act, 1929, will not be used to impose on the bookmakers and on their assistants fancy charges for the purpose of squeezing them out. If that is not contemplated, the Minister ought to stabilise the admission charges at not more than they are now, because, if you make the charges more, it is very easy for the bookmaker to say to his assistant: "Look here, it is too expensive to take you to Naas or to take you to the Curragh."

If we did that, the charge could not be reduced. If we stabilise the charges now by law, how can they be reduced?

If that is the Minister's only worry, I will meet him and I am sure the bookmakers and their assistants will do the same. You can fix it at not more than it is now, like the 5 per cent. ceiling. I am concerned with making sure that the board does not utilise these powers to impose a very high charge on the bookmaker and on his assistant.

One of the intentions, when funds are available, is to reduce the charges generally for the public, including the bookmakers.

So long as the Minister makes sure that it will not be within the power of any members of this board having an anti-bookmaker complex——

The board is not set up yet.

What about the report of the Racing Commission? The Minister knows his "onions" in this matter. The Minister knows the pool well. I suggest to the Minister, in any case, if he will not write it into the legislation, that he should give an assurance that it is not intended to charge the bookmaker or his assistant any more than at present. I do not want to see the assistant put out of employment because the bookmaker says: "It is too dear to take you to the Curragh to-day. They are charging too much to get you in and I cannot afford to pay it."

I do not want that.

That is good. Then we will probably be able to find a form of words to get over the difficulty. In Section 23 it is provided that the bookmaker must get a course betting permit from the board. But the board have power in their absolute discretion to grant or refuse that permit. The phrase "absolute discretion" appears in two or three of the sub-sections to Section 23. I think that power might be used rather arrogantly and arbitrarily. It may not be; but there are some grounds for fearing that it may be used in an unfair way. In so far as it is used to put off the course a bookie who will not pay, I think he should be put off; I think he should be drummed off with ignominy. But I do not think that the decent bookmaker, who does pay and whom the board, or some members of the board, may not like, should be put in the position that, in their absolute discretion, the board can refuse him a course betting permit. As I say, I do not want to defend the bookmaker who "welshes"; the bookmaker who says: "I am cleaned out; I cannot pay you now; see me some other time", and pays 12 months afterwards, if at all. But there is the decent bookmaker who ought not to stand in peril of having a permit refused to him for course betting. Under the Bill the board has absolute discretion to grant or to refuse the permit, and where the board refuse to grant a permit, I think the Minister should agree to some kind of appeal machinery. I would be satisfied if the appeal were to the Minister himself. The Minister may say that he is unversed in this matter, but he used the jargon of the racecourse to-day in excellent style.

I was schooled.

The Minister was a good pupil. I suggest to the Minister that he should provide some appeal in such cases. If he will not take the appeal himself or pass on the responsibility to the Minister for Justice, on whom the responsibility rests to-day, then I think he ought to permit some type of tribunal to be established, to which an appeal could be made.

To the district justice.

I would even chance the district justice. There should be an appeal to somebody so that the decent bookmaker will not be made the target of the anger of the board or of influential members of the board. That is a reasonable safeguard which I think the Minister ought to provide for the bookmaker. I say that as one who has expressed the opinion that the bookmaker does make a contribution to the racecourse and adds to whatever glamour is to be found by simple people in backing horses.

These are the observations I want to make on the Bill. I think there are some sections which should be amended in the interest of those engaged in the industry, be they the staffs of the racing stables, the bookmakers and their assistants or others. If, generally speaking, the Bill achieves the object which the Minister has in mind, I think it will be welcomed by all sections of the House and of the country. It is difficult at this stage to express a definite opinion on that aspect of the matter, but I think that, at all events, we are doing something which is new and almost revolutionary so far as Irish racing is concerned and that it is essential, in carrying through a reorganisation scheme, to ensure that safeguards are provided for those likely to be adversely affected by the legislation we are introducing.

It is rather strange that this Racing Board and Racecourses Bill should be introduced by the Minister for Finance when the title of the Bill suggests that its purpose is the improvement of the horse-breeding industry and racing generally, particularly as the Department of Finance are not seeking any revenue for the State. When I first read the Bill I imagined that it was a Bill which should more properly be piloted through the House by the Minister for Agriculture. However, that is the position. Another thing that strikes me in connection with the Bill is that owners and breeders are to be the sole beneficiaries ultimately of the benefits which will accrue from it. For the first time I see something happening at which I am surprised Deputy Norton did not strike.

The beneficiaries are not being asked to contribute to any extent for their own welfare. An unskilled worker employed by an ordinary individual has to make his contribution for his unemployment benefit. In every other phase of life where people have to be provided with benefits ultimately, they have themselves to contribute towards them. But those poor individuals, the owners and breeders, for whom we are now legislating so that their situation will be eased in the expected depressed years to come, are to be helped by a contribution exclusively from the public and the racing public. I think that is quite a new departure and that the Minister ought to consider before this Bill goes through to what extent owners and breeders themselves can make some contribution for their own welfare and their own protection. I would suggest that as stakes are going to be increased for racing, and that as the intention is to try to keep better horses in the courty and get better prices for our horses, the least these people might do is to make some small contribution. I would suggest furthermore that as there are a number of sires in the country, for which the fees are anything up to 100 guineas, a certain small revenue could be obtained from that source also.

Deputy Hughes spoke at length on this Bill and I listened very attentively to what he had to say. He welcomed this Bill and said that it was bound to supply a long-felt want. He instanced, as proof of his approach to the Bill, that the horse-breeding industry had fallen on very bad days during the period of the economic war. He said that because we could not sell or export horses, the horse-breeding industry collapsed and the racing industry was following suit. At present we have prosperity not only in the horse-breeding industry but in racing. To what does the Deputy attribute that prosperity if we are not selling horses for export at present?

Is it not obvious that the horse-breeding industry and racing will be prosperous if the people as a whole are prosperous? The State and the people are more prosperous to-day than ever they were. More people are getting into racing as owners now than ever before, and they are keeping a greater number of horses. That proves that so long as we have prosperity in the State we shall have prosperity in the horse-breeding industry and in racing. I think that if Deputy Hughes reads his speech, he will see that his theories cannot possibly be correct. He cannot have it both ways.

It is suggested that one of the main purposes of this Bill is to make prizes more attractive, so that more money will be available for distribution to owners than up to the present. Is it not obvious that the bigger you make your stakes, the more attractive it will be for cross-Channel horses to come over here to compete for these stakes just as owners on this side are free to compete for the big stakes across Channel? What will happen probably will be that more attractive prizes will be offered for horses that can compete here against cross-Channel horses, and these horses will leave the country just the same. There will be an enhanced turn-over in the export of horses. This Bill is not needed to prove that Irish bloodstock is the best in the world. That is well known already. I feel that the Bill is a direct attack on the bookmaking industry. It is all very well to say that that is not the intention, but if this attack is pursued and it succeeds, I see the greatest danger to the racing industry and the horse-breeding industry generally.

I have visited a number of other countries where bookmaking is supposed to be illegal and where all betting transactions are supposed to be conducted through the totalisator. I have been to France, Germany and America, and although bookmaking is supposed to be illegal, the race-going public found that they could not carry on without the bookmaker, and you have bookmakers all over the country. The biggest punters in this country do not bet through the totalisator. The general public may, but the big punters and the race-going public bet with the bookmakers. If this Bill is brought into operation in such a way that it will create new methods of evasion, you will have a situation such as we had here before, when the bookmakers had to try to make a living and to meet their customers' requirements. While the Bill says that the levy can be applied only to a bet made within the precincts of the racecourse, it does not stop a big better making his bet before he goes on to the racecourse, and in that way escaping the levy. I think if the matter is examined by anybody who has the slightest knowledge of betting transactions it will be found that consideration will have to be given to many of the points before the Bill goes through.

I am not speaking on behalf of bookmakers, and I was not briefed in this matter by bookmakers. I did consult a number of friends of mine who happen to be bookmakers whom I know personally for a long period. I regard these bookmakers as very honourable men who would not mislead me, and I asked them for their opinion on certain sections. I understand that a deputation was received by the Minister and I am quite satisfied that the Minister is going to be as reasonable and as fair as he can in meeting all aspects of this question brought to his notice. This is our opportunity of putting these various aspects before him.

I was rather surprised when I did consult these friends of mine who happen to be bookmakers to learn that before this Bill was drafted they had not been sent for, or had not been asked to give their opinions as to how they would be affected. The first knowledge of the Bill was obtained when it was circulated. I think that was a mistake, because the people principally affected, apart from the public paying the levy, will be the bookmakers. Everybody else is going to be a beneficiary under the Bill. The public are going to have the advantage of cheaper admission prices, and breeders and owners will have the advantage of higher stakes and better prices for their horses. The only people, therefore, to be adversely affected are the bookmakers. Consequently I think they should have been asked to send representatives to discuss ways and means when the Bill was first thought of.

Let us look back on the history of the legislation of bookmakers and of taxing the public on bookmaking transactions. The Department of Finance, some years ago before the change of Government, agreed to license the totalisator on greyhound racing tracks. Without apparently any knowledge of what transactions were liable to accrue, they agreed to license the totalisator at a fee of £250 a year. When it was brought to the notice of the Government that this was ridiculous, and that the fee should be £250 per race rather than £250 a year for the machine, they went into it and they decided that they had made a mistake. The totalisator as then contemplated was abandoned, and subsequently the State actually paid damages to the Greyhound Racing Company for not complying with the original undertaking. That only shows that Department officials, who do not bet, and I believe should not bet, and who consequently do not know anything about betting, should not embark on schemes of this kind without consulting somebody who does know something about betting. I do bet, and I make no secret of it.

I admit that I have not been able to beat the bookmakers yet, but I hope that I shall some day. I hope that some day I shall be able to make something substantial out of it, and I know that the bookmakers will be happy to pay up whenever I do. After that we had the betting-tax introduced by the Government, and within a few months after that Act came into operation I was appealing from the Opposition Benches, which were then occupied by this Party, on behalf of a large number of bookmakers affected by it. There were at one time 18 bookmakers in Mountjoy who had become offenders under the Bill, and on whom fines were imposed which they found it impossible to pay. I think nearly every bookmaker in Ireland under the Bill found himself suddenly a criminal and in trouble because he was expected to carry on his business as an ordinary business is carried on and in a way in which everybody knows this business cannot be carried on. In the case of the levy, let me ask the Minister what the position is really going to be. I would like the Minister's officials, who are experts on finance, to explain the situation. I move to report progress.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.