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Dáil Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 7 Mar 1945

Vol. 96 No. 9

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

Question again proposed:
(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 enterd 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.—(Minister for Finance.)

On Friday I made certain references in connection with this Bill. I propose now to deal with the Bill itself and I hope that when I have drawn the Minister's attention to certain aspects, he will be prepared, before the next Stage, to examine the position with a view to finding some means to alleviate certain hardships which will be imposed on various sections of the public. The Title sets out the purposes of the Bill. In the last few lines of the Title it is stated—

"to authorise the Irish Turf Club and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee to exclude persons from racecourses, and to provide certain other matters connected with the matters aforesaid."

May I draw the attention of the Minister first of all to these two bodies? These two bodies have no statutory existence and, for the first time, they are being brought in and are being given statutory existence. I do not know whether or not the Minister has ever looked up the Racing Calendar to see who are the persons who comprise these two bodies. I have taken the trouble to examine this Bill in great detail and everything connected with it. I find that these two bodies are controlled mainly by persons who, from a national point of view, are very far away from us, some of them actually living outside the State. As members of the Turf Club we have such people as Viscount Adare, W. Barnett, Esq.; Capt. R.B. Brassey, P.E. Burrell, Esq.; Col. R.B. Charteris, A.D. Comyn, Esq.; Major E.M. Connolly, W.T. Cosgrave, Esq.; P. Dunne Cullinan, Esq.; Col. D.W. Daly, Capt. H. de Burgh, Lord Talbot de Malahide, Duc de Stacpoole, D. Gordon Dickson, Esq.; Sir T. Dixon, T.B. Donnelly, Esq.; Earl of Drogheda, Capt. G.F. Dunne, Earl of Fingall, Capt. Fowler, H.S. Gill, Esq.; Lord Glentoran, Earl of Granard, Sir Harold Gray, Earl of Harewood, Lt.-Col. S.S. Hill-Dillon, Lt.-Col. Giles Loder, Marquess of Londonderry, Sir Percy Loraine, Bart.; Major D. McCalmont, Major Durham Matthews, W.J. Mitchell, Esq.; Pierce Moloney, Esq.; Capt. Charles Moore, A.L. Moore, Esq.; Sir James Nelson, Bart.; Sir Walter Nugent, Bart.; Sir T.C. O'Brien, Bart.; Capt. John E. O'Brien, C. Odlum, Esq.; A.P. Reynolds, Esq.; P.J. Ruttledge, Esq.; Duke of St. Albans, Lt.-Col. E. Shirley, Major G.E.F. Tenison, D. Twomey, Esq.; A.C. Vigors, Esq.; Major A.H. Watt, The Hon. W.E. Wylie, K.C.

The members of the I.N.H.S. committee are:—Viscount Adare, Sir T. Ainsworth, Bart.; E. Bellaney, Esq.; A.D. Comyn, Esq.; Col. Croft, P. Dunne Cullinan, Esq.; Col. D.W. Daly, Capt. H. de Burgh, T.B. Donnelly, Esq.; Capt. G.F. Dunne, Capt. R.A.B. Filgate, Earl of Fingall, Capt. E.A. Gargan, Major T. G. Gerrard, Capt. Glen Browne, Lord Glentoran, Sir Ernest Goff, Bart.; G. A. Harris, Esq.; Lt.-Col. S.S. Hill-Dillon, Col. Honner, E.W. Hope-Johnstone, Esq.; Lt.-Col. Sir Cecil S. King-Harman, Bart.; Lt.-Col. A. Knowles, Major D. McCalmont, James McClintock, Esq.; John McEnery, Esq.; N.D. Mahony, Esq.; G.V. Malcolmson, Esq.; Major C. Mitchell, Pierce Moloney, Esq.; Sir James Nelson, Bart.; Sir Walter Nugent, Bart.; Capt. John E. O'Brien, B.T. O'Reilly, Esq.; P.J. Ruttledge, Esq.; Lt.-Col. E. Shirley, D. Twomey, Esq.; A.C. Vigors, Esq.; the Hon. W.E. Wylie, K.C.

The gentlemen with military titles are gentlemen who hold these titles from a foreign army. Not one of them in that list holds his military title from our Army. It is not so long since this very body—I should like the Minister to take a serious view of it— actually refused a licence to a jockey in this country who had served his apprenticeship across the water and who came over here to ride in his own country. He was refused a licence because, in their opinion, he could be classed as a deserter. A deserter from what? A deserter from another army, from a country to which he did not belong. These are the people who are going to be given statutory rights and supreme control. I think the Minister ought to leave these gentlemen where they are and be satisfied to give the board he wishes to set up full powers and let them consult, if they like, these people who have certain experience in racing matters. Certainly, I appeal to him to leave them out of the Bill and to let the board be the be all and end all in racing and matters pertaining thereto.

I come now to Section 2 of the Bill, the definitions in which state that the expression "course bet means a bet entered into by a licensed bookmaker during a race meeting held on an authorised racecourse and at that authorised racecourse or in the precincts thereof on a horse race forming an item at that race meeting." Those of us who have any slight knowledge of racing matters know that many of the big bets are usually made away from the course with a bookmaker before the race meeting, and that the levy that it is sought to impose in this Bill will not be contributed to by the big betters, who are in the know, but will be taken exclusively, or almost exclusively, from the smaller betting public.

Everybody knows that in connection with the recent meeting at Thurles very big betting transactions took place. These betting transactions did not take place on the course. Anybody with the slightest knowledge of racing knows that, if I were the fortunate owner of a good horse which I had tried out in secret and was satisfied on the information I had that it was likely to be a winner, a dark horse, in a forthcoming race, I certainly, like the rest of the gentlemen, would not be running it for the benefit of the public. I would try to have a bet placed for me away from the course so that there would be no bet from me on the horse at the racecourse and I would in that way get the biggest odds to my money. If these gentlemen who should pay the levy are to pay the levy, why not say that on every bet this levy shall be made?

The word "precincts" is defined again in the definitions and it is clearly set out that the bet must be made within the precincts of the racecourse itself. There are a few Deputies who occasionally indulge in a bet. We are told when we get a tip: "Do not have a bet on the course, because if you bet there they will know I told you and we will not get the odds to our money. Make sure that you get somebody who is not at the races to put the money on for you in Dublin or some other place and then you can go and look at your horse winning." We all know that this takes place.

Section 5 says:—

"(1) The board shall consist of 11 members.

(2) Each person appointed a member of the board shall be a person who, in the opinion of the Minister, is representative of, or has functions in relation to, or is otherwise connected with, racing (including the management of racecourses) or the ownership or breeding of bloodstock, or bookmaking, or other like pursuits."

Other parts of the Bill provide that anybody appointed to this board is to be a member of the board for five years, but he must have some of these qualifications. What is to prevent a person from becoming a racehorse owner for a certain period for the purpose of being put on the board and then getting rid of his horses and still remaining on the board? I think the Minister should insert an amendment that when a person ceases to have any of the qualifications he automatically ceases to be a member of the board and somebody else will be appointed in his place.

Section 6 (9) states that the Minister shall consult the Minister for Agriculture before exercising the powers conferred on him by this section. I should like to see consultation between the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Agriculture in connection with the whole of the operations of the Bill because, apart from the revenue sections of the Betting Tax Act which are taken over and embodied in this Bill, there is nothing else in connection with which the Department of Finance can help. Everybody interested in the horse-breeding industry from the point of view of the country knows that the Department of Agriculture is vitally interested in this matter all the time. If we are to have a national stud, it is the Department of Agriculture, I assume, that will exercise control over it. It is the Department of Agriculture that will have to be consulted when certain sires are to be licensed and so on. As this Bill, when it becomes an Act, will be a permanent feature of our legislation for the benefit of the horse-breeding industry, apart from horse racing, I suggest that the Minister for Agriculture should be consulted in connection with every section of the Bill, rather than this one section.

Section 13 states:

"The board may, with the consent of the governing bodies, establish, equip and maintain racecourses, and for this purpose may acquire by agreement or lease any land (including any racecourse)."

Again I want to protest. I say that the governing bodies should not be consulted at all; that if the board is to get authority from anybody, it should be from the Minister who is responsible for this Bill. I am satisfied that everybody connected in any way, directly or indirectly, with the matters dealt with in the Bill would be more satisfied to have the Minister for Finance deal with this matter, in conjunction with the Minister for Agriculture, rather than these governing bodies. Sub-sections 2, 3 and 4 of Section 13 ought to be operated subject to the consent of the Minister for Finance, even if it is only formal. There is a levy to be imposed and certain expenditure to be incurred. Nobody knows what the operations of the board will be, whether the board will acquire racecourses from private owners or undertake to equip new ones. If they are to spend large sums of money in a variety of ways, I think the sanctioning authority should not be these governing bodies to which I have a very distinct objection. I think everybody in the House will have the same objection from the point of view that they cannot be expected to have the national approach to this matter that ordinary people in this country have.

In Section 15 there are a number of paragraphs and I suggest that, in connection with these, there should be an overriding section or sub-section providing that all these things can be done subject to the protection of private racecourses and in such a way that the public will not be exploited. There should be some protection against unlimited activities which may have adverse effects on some interests or individuals.

Section 18 deals with the methods to be adopted in connection with the control and the finances and books of this board. It states that the board shall furnish to the Minister such information with regard to the exercise of its powers and duties as the Minister may from time to time require. I wonder is the Minister satisfied, in the event of criticism or complaints in the future, that Parliament has the power or the right to raise a question concerning the operations of the board. We all know that boards have been set up from time to time with certain powers and that these boards are subject to the Minister of the Department concerned. When a Deputy raises a question here, however, or wants to discuss a certain matter, he is told: "The Bill gives this power to this board. The Minister may get the information, but Parliament has no further function in the matter, and you cannot raise it here." I want to get an assurance from the Minister that, in the event of genuine grievances having to be aired or genuine complaints having to be brought to the notice of the Minister, or of the House wishing to discuss certain matters, the power will not be withheld from Parliament to raise or discuss these matters.

Section 21 is a very short section, and when I read it first I thought it sounded very funny. I have, however, since been referred to another Act, which had the very same, or almost the same, section in it—the Pigs and Bacon Act. As the House knows, I have very little experience of bacon and pigs and, consequently, I can be excused if I have not gleaned any information from looking up that Act. Section 21 reads:—

"An offence under any section contained in this part of this Act may be prosecuted by the board."

I have spoken to a colleague, who is a barrister, who tells me that that is quite a usual legal phrase. I should like to see the word "offender" substituted for "offence", because I cannot see how you can prosecute an offence except in so far as you commit it yourself. To that extent, I can understand it, but I am told I am wrong, and I suppose the draftsman is definitely right.

Section 22 may create a very serious situation. Sub-section 3 states:

"Where a person who is not the holder of a course-betting permit is found carrying on the business of a bookmaker at any authorised racecourse, any person acting under the direction of the board or the executive of that authorised racecourse may remove such first-mentioned person therefrom and for this purpose may use such force as may be reasonably necessary."

I hope I am wrong when I read into that that the board may have its own officials who may use force in ejecting people with whom they have disputes or whom they have reason to eject. I would like to be assured that, when it comes to physical violence, the board will have the dignity to call for the assistance of the Guards and that we will not be faced with the spectacle of a racing board with its own private police force or gang at every race meeting. I only read that into this section and would like to be assured that force, where necessary, will be used through the Guards.

We all know that there are Guards on duty at race meetings who can satisfactorily deal with anything that may arise. Surely, if a man happens to be a bookmaker or a member of the public who offends, he is at least entitled as a citizen to be removed by the forces of the law rather than by some private individual whom he never saw before and who, possibly, may not even wear a uniform.

"Eleven o'clock, gentlemen, please," says the chucker out.

That does not convey much to me. I thought it was 10.30. There is the danger, if I am right, that where there is the expectancy of serious disturbances, the bookmakers may arm themselves with their physical supporters and that may mean a riot. The public do not want to see that happening, and it would not be for the advancement of racing.

Section 23 is one which the Minister should consider seriously. It sets out how the board has power over the licences given to bookmakers. At present a bookmaker has to apply for a certificate of personal fitness to make a book and that will not be granted to him by the district justice if he is satisfied there are complaints against him. Section 23, in my opinion, seeks to do something similar to what we do to foreign representatives—we give them extra territorial rights. It says:—

"(1) The board may, if in its absolute discretion it so thinks fit, grant to any licensed bookmaker a permit authorising him to carry on the business of a bookmaker at authorised racecourses or in the precincts thereof.

(2) The board, in its absolute discretion, may, at any time, suspend for such time as it thinks fit or revoke a course-betting permit.

(3) Where a person to whom a course-betting permit is granted ceases to be a licensed bookmaker, the course-betting permit shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed, by virtue of this sub-section, to have been revoked upon such cesser."

It may seem very simple. Although a bookmaker has a licence the board may decide whether he will make a living, whether he will be able to attend meetings or not. I suggest that if there is to be a tightening up in the issuance of permits for them to carry on their business it is the authority of the State which should do that and not the authority of this board. If the board wished to prevent a certain bookmaker or certain bookmakers from going to meetings the board should show cause and should serve such bookmakers with a notice as to the cause. There should be a right of appeal against the decision and, if necessary, it should be tested in the District Court before the district justice. This section, in my opinion, gives the board an extra constitutional position over and above what the State thinks as to the suitability of a person. It means they can veto it. If there is to be an alteration, I suggest they should apply first to the board for a permit to make books and if the board gives it they may then apply to the State, who may veto it or let them carry on. Where the board seeks to be the final authority, the Minister should consider recasting the section so that he will preserve as the final vetoing authority the Department of State itself and, if there is a dispute between the board and any individual or any association of bookmakers at any time, there should be some right of appeal. The section as it stands gives no right of appeal whatever.

At one stage of his introductory speech, the Minister seemed to think the bookmakers would welcome this Bill and would regard it as a charter of security and liberty for them. As far as I can see, and I have read the Bill, it gives certain powers to individuals or groups over and above the board, which is to be set up in a certain way and you have the bookmakers on the defensive the whole time.

Section 24, sub-section (2) says that where a disturbance takes place the board, through its agent, is the final authority. I suggest that, if there is any likelihood of a disturbance, a Guard should be called to witness the proceedings. Sub-section (2) of Section 24 states:

"Whenever any person of whom the production of his course-betting permit is lawfully demanded under this section refuses or fails to produce such permit or produces such permit, but fails or refuses to permit the authorised officer of the board making the demand to read and examine such permit, such authorised officer may demand of such person his name and address and if such person refuses to give his name or fails or refuses to give his address or gives a name or address which is false or misleading, he shall be guilty of an offence under this section."

I suggest a Guard should be called if such a situation arises and, if the bookmaker refuses to comply with any reasonable demands, there will then be an independent person to fall back on.

Section 25 seeks to deal with the situation which will arise when the admission charges to race meetings are reduced. Bookmakers at present pay, I think, five times the amount charged to the ordinary public, since they do business there. Naturally, that would have to fall if the prices were reduced.

Sub-section (3) seeks to delete the words in the Totalisator Act which deal with the charges to such licensed bookmakers. I suggest the Minister should review that sub-section and, if the prices are being reduced, that he insert a sub-section providing that the prices charged as entrance fees for bookmakers and their assistants, over and above those charged for the ordinary public, shall have a ceiling fixed. That ceiling may be ten times the admission charge for the public, if you like, but certainly there must be some protection. The board, as it is controlled, in my opinion, could be induced, if they wanted to get rid of certain small bookmakers, to say: "We will charge you £50 to come here to-day, and we will charge every one of your assistants £25," and in that way make it impossible for those people to carry on. There should be some protection there.

Now we come to Chapter III of the Bill, and that deals with the levy. I have a distinct objection to seeking to secure the subsidy for the industry on the basis suggested in the Bill. First of all, I am satisfied it will be impossible to carry out this arrangement in any reasonable, regular, decent form. It will lead to all kinds of abuses, all kinds of deception, all kinds of trouble, and the amount of money acquired will not be worth all the trouble. I ask the Minister if he is not prepared to take other suggestions? I understand the amount of money which they hope to get for the purpose of this subsidy is £150,000 a year, and that the maximum of 5 per cent. levy suggested in the Bill is to ensure that that figure will be reached; but, if an excess of that figure is reached by way of levy, the 5 per cent may be reduced to 2½ per cent or even less.

That is not my objection. My objection is to the method of getting it. It is expected that about £50,000 will be collected from the totalisator. Obviously, if this board does its business properly and increases the totalisator facilities elsewhere, that £50,000 will be increased. The balance, therefore, is about £100,000, and the public is to be discommoded because of the £100,000 that it is possible to get in other ways. I suggest that the beneficiaries of this Bill, the gentlemen in the racing business and the horse-breeding industries, should be made to contribute something. I suggest that if there was a small contribution from sire fees it would be only reasonable to have it. If you read a racing paper to-day you will find the most prominent sires booked out for 1945, at 100 guineas and over per service. Surely, they should contribute something, and the people who have valuable animals and who get high prices at bloodstock sales should also contribute something.

I do not know whether the Minister appreciates this. The biggest racehorse owners, except for a few, are not in this country. It is quite true that people in other countries support our racing considerably by having large numbers of horses in training and by competing in our events. We are supposed to have the belief that this Bill is genuinely intended for the purpose of helping the breeding industry. Let me take a small meeting in the country, where a small farmer enters a horse, the best he can have, but certainly not a £10,000 horse. The cross-Channel owners have such large stables here that they are forced to enter their very high-bred stock in all these small races, and the small breeder has no chance at all. I am not anxious to mention names here, but there are certain names which are almost synonymous with racing—Dorothy Paget and the Aga Khan, and people of that type. I do not know how many horses Miss Paget has which are competing at all kinds of racing. The small man who enters a horse for a £45 stake has not an animal capable of beating the thoroughbreds which other people can buy and which are sent out more or less for exercise.

These are the people who will benefit, and these are the people on whom there will be no levy—these big cross-Channel owners such as Mr. Rank, the Aga Khan and Miss Dorothy Paget. They are quite welcome to send their horses here. If our stakes are increased, they will be more anxious to do so. We will give them our £2,000 stake money instead of the £1,000 of past years. We are told that all this is for the benefit of our horse-breeding industry. Our horses, if our stakes are made too attractive, unless they are outstanding animals, will be taking second place and you will never see an Irish-owned horse winning an Irish stake of any value.

I do not know who are the advisers behind the setting up of this Bill. I did point out that I am satisfied that the public and the bookmaking profession, who are to provide this—the public have to provide the levy and the bookmaking people will collect it— were not consulted. Certain owners, I suppose, were, and I suppose also that certain gentlemen here were consulted. These are the people who will stand in judgment over everybody else, but nobody is to stand in judgment over them. I happen to know that some of these gentlemen who own and run horses are subject to criticism, very severe and justifiable criticism, in connection with racing.

Instead of having a nominated person representing the bookmakers on this board, I think the bookmakers as a whole should be allowed to select their own representative on that board, a man able and willing to fight for their interests under the most adverse circumstances. He will be in the minority. The Minister ought to get one or two members of the ordinary betting public put on the board as well. We fought in this country for a long time against taxation without representation, and here we are introducing it into our own legislation. Deputy Bennett and I will be taxed through the medium of this levy and we will have no representation on the body that decides everything about it.

Section 28 and the sections that follow are adaptations of the Betting Acts and the Minister is giving to the board powers which were previously held by the Revenue Commissioners. I think he ought to agree that some of the powers, anyway, should be exercised only through an officer of his Department. I think it is wrong to give to a board, whose members are not civil servants, who are not officers of the State in any sense, powers to examine the private affairs of individuals, where they are not sworn to secrecy. I suggest the Minister ought to have some protection in the shape of, where the board have reason to suspect that a bookmaker is not giving honourable returns of his betting transactions, they should report him to the Minister and the Minister should send one of the officials from his own Department or the Revenue Commissioners—preferably the Revenue Commissioners—to find out whether the allegations have or have not any foundation.

I think it is going a little bit far to give this board, which produces nothing, such drastic powers. The Electricity Supply Board at least produces electricity, and therefore it has a certain right of entrance into premises for the purpose of examination. But here you have a body which produces nothing, which is to do everything for the racing and the horse-breeding industries but contributes nothing, and that body will sit, like the Gestapo or the Ogpu or like Secret Service men, on the backs of the people.

Section 38 deals with the power to exclude certain persons from racecourses. I have no objection to that, but I feel that the board should not be given power to exclude persons from racecourses without giving a reason at least to the person concerned. If that person feels that the reason is unfair or unjustified, he ought to have the opportunity of having the matter reopened. To give the board such powers as are proposed will mean in the end that what the Bill seeks to create will, in fact, be destroyed. Racing is a pleasure for the ordinary public and, as I said on Friday, there are two types of betting public. There are the racegoers who bet in small sums and enjoy their day's outing, and there are the racegoers who go to races hoping to win easy money, to back winners at good prices and to come home with some of the bookmaker's money. These are the people who make racing, and if you make it inconvenient or unpleasant for them you will destroy racing.

I want to make a suggestion to the Minister as to one method by which he could get this £100,000, the balance of the £150,000 to which I have referred. Let the bookmakers take upon themselves suggesting to him to what extent they can provide a certain amount—let it be £40,000 or £50,000— and let it be imposed upon them by way of additional entrance charges. They will find the ways and means. Remember they have not been consulted about the matter, so far as I know. On the other hand, one of the main objects of the Bill is to increase the attendance at race meetings by reducing entrance charges. I am sure the Minister has never been at a race meeting in his life, and I am sure he has never had a bet in his life—he has missed that thrill—but if he went to Fairyhouse, Galway or Punchestown races, he would find that the vast bulk of the people there pay no entrance fee at all. It is only the dignified people, like Deputy McCann and myself, who do not want to mix with the ordinary public who go into the grand stand or enclosure for comfort.

At these big meetings, the crowds attend in thousands, enjoying the day's outing and nothing else, so if you reduce nothing by nothing, it leaves nothing and consequently you will get no extra contribution. Entrance charges at the other race meetings are, in the main, reasonably low, and instead of reducing them for the first year or two, I suggest that the Minister should see how the board gets on with what it gets from the "Tote" and what it will get by way of some contribution from the gentlemen who make their living as bookmakers. Do not reduce the entrance charges for the present; go very gingerly about increasing stakes in the big races; and be very careful when you decide to increase the prizes at the smaller race meetings that you do not increase them for the benefit of people who are not intended to benefit. In addition, let the people who will benefit make some contribution.

I mentioned on Friday that persons in employment stamp cards for unemployment insurance and national health benefit. These people make a contribution, and in the case of widows' and orphans' pensions, there is a contributory and non-contributory basis. There are people who can afford to be racehorse owners because they are very well off and who are in the business because they make a living out of it, and there are very many who make a living at horse breeding, and some way can be found. I believe the Minister can find it without interfering with racing and without endangering it by this impossible levy which cannot be operated. If the Minister wants further details about it, I suggest that one of his officials should have a private conversation with half a dozen bookmakers, collectively or separately. He will find that there are so many tricks in the trade that the levy will not be operative at all.

I can see somebody running to a bookmaker to have a pound on the favourite at evens. When the horse wins and he asks for his two pounds, the bookmaker will say: "You get only 38/- because when you gave me the pound, I had to take 1/- off for the levy." I can see people going to race meetings and—as we all have experienced—backing winners and losers and coming home without having gained or lost; and, under this arrangement, I can see a fairly large punter who has six bets at a six-race meeting and wins three at even money, and loses three, finding on Tuesday morning a letter from the bookmaker telling him that he owes £30 levy. The man will say: "I neither won nor lost, and if that is the kind of racing we are to have, I am finished with it."

The Minister will have to realise that the vast bulk of betting is done "on the nod"—money does not always change hands—and if people do not pay the bookmaker, is the bookmaker to have a legal power to collect the levy? I should be the last to suggest the repeal of the Gaming Act, because we all know it would be disastrous, but, on the other hand, how is the bookmaker to collect this levy? Is he to be given legal authority to say: "This man had a bet with me and, though he did not pay my bet, I must collect the levy." The more the Minister examines it, the more he will realise that it is not worth going on with. He will agree, I think, if he examines it sympathetically, that there are many other ways of getting this money. Some of it can be got from the racing gentlemen themselves. If my horse wins a thousand guineas at the Park, I would not mind giving a thousand shillings for the levy, and if I had a sire for whose services I could command 100 or 200 guineas, I would not mind the shillings from the proceeds of 40 services going to the levy. I am sure that most of the racing gentlemen would agree with that.

As I have said, do not reduce entrance charges yet, but see how the board will get along and reconsider the levy in two or three years' time. I am satisfied that the Minister does not want to injure racing, that he would rather drop the Bill than do so, but I ask him to hasten slowly. Let him set up the board, giving it full powers in relation to designing racing, making it more attractive, helping breeders and so forth and get money for them, but get it in a way that will do least harm. I make that appeal to the Minister in all sincerity. I have read the Bill in detail and I have discussed it with certain bookmakers. I do not know what their view, as a body, is, but so far I have not had any criticism of the views expressed. I believe that other Deputies who are concerned with the welfare of racing will agree that a levy which is designed to collect £100,000, which can be got otherwise, should be dropped.

In conclusion, I want to say that the very names and the very actions of members of the bodies should indicate that they are not the people who should be set up as the final authority. They are not elected by anybody, and I do not know how they got to the position which they occupy. I understand that one of the gentlemen concerned is away in another army and has nominated somebody to represent him. If that is the kind of loose way in which that body is to operate, the Minister ought not to give it a statutory existence. Give the board certain powers, but let it be subject to the Minister and let his Department consult the Department of Agriculture.

This is a measure that we can all discuss in a non-Party spirit. I was convinced of that until Deputy Briscoe commenced his speech, when, rather unintentionally, I think, he drew what I may call a national and an anti-national outlook into the discussion. He intimated that there were certain gentlemen, members of the Turf Club, for whom we, talking in a national Parliament, should not have any respect. He went further and said that some of them resided outside this State—that two lived in the North of Ireland.

And in England.

The Deputy did not mention that, but wherever they live they are all "sports." Whether they live in the southern or in the northern States, if there is one thing that is going to blend the various elements in this divided country it is the sportsmen. If we are ever going to have one national organisation, as we have at present one sporting organisation, I suggest that it is going to come through the mingling of the ordinary public with such gentlemen as Deputy Briscoe has referred to.

I think that, on the whole, this Bill is to be welcomed. Anything that will improve sporting facilities, that will improve racing and the quality of our horses generally will be joyously received all over the country. There are some things in the Bill that I should like to be convinced are going to be for the good of racing. I believe that the Minister is going to have control over a good many members of the proposed board. I hope that they will have regard to racing in general, and I mean by that the small race meetings in the south and west, as well as the meetings at the Curragh and those in the Dublin area. The board, when it is set up, will have control over certain sums of money. It will have borrowing powers. I take it that the policy of the board, as of all boards of the kind, will be to make a financial success of the undertaking entrusted to it. There is the fear in my mind that with such an outlook the members of the board will concentrate on the larger meetings such, for example, as those at the Curragh, Baldoyle, Leopardstown, and the Phoenix Park where they will be assured that any expenditure of money on their part will bring in large revenue. They may not be disposed to give assistance to the small meetings down the country, some of which are now non-existent—such as those at Croom, in the County Limerick, at Sligo and other places in the west. I would remind the House that it is the small meetings which have been the backbone of the horse-breeding industry. I hope that one effect of the Bill will be to keep here for some time some of the best horses that are bred in the country, so that our people may have the opportunity of seeing them racing. I think the people deserve to see the best racing that it is possible to provide. I am not at all averse from attracting to this country the people that Deputy Briscoe has referred to. I think that we should do all we can to attract rich people from outside the country to come and race their horses here. They spend their money in setting up racing establishments and make no money from racing their horses here. The more attractive we make racing the better it will be for the country.

To get back to the question of the small meetings, I said that these were the backbone of the horse-breeding industry. They are certainly the backbone of it as far as steeplechasers are concerned. Anybody who knows anything about racing, or of breeding steeplechasers, will immediately recognise the great dearth there is of steeplechasers to-day. I do not know whether the Minister knows anything about handicap races or not. If he does not, he should make inquiries from Deputy Briscoe. What is the position with regard to the big handicaps to-day? In the last six months or so people will have seen one horse carrying a welter-weight, and practically all the others the minimum weight, or very near it. You have one horse— Prince Regent—handicapped with 12 stone 7 lbs., or 13 stone, and all the others in the 9 stone 7 lbs. or 10 stone divisions. There are one of two reasons for that: either Prince Regent is the greatest horse that was ever bred in Ireland, and goodness knows, we have bred some very good horses here, or else the other chasers that we have are not very much good. I, for one, am not going to say that Prince Regent is the greatest horse that was ever bred here. He is certainly a very great racehorse, but opinions will differ as to whether he is better than some of the horses that were bred in this country in the last ten years or so. You certainly will not get everyone to agree that he is the greatest horse that was ever bred in the country. The fact at any rate is that no horse bred in Ireland has made such a farce of handicap races as Prince Regent has made of them. The main reason for that is that, apart from Prince Regent and one or two other horses, there are no good chasers in the country, and they are not here because the small meetings were done away with. It was the small meetings which produced horses like Workman, Jerry M., and a number of others, and not the big meetings at Baldoyle, Leopardstown, the Curragh and the Phoenix Park. Those famous chasers were discovered at small meetings in the County Galway, County Limerick and other counties. They were bred by farmer sportsmen. They brought out those horses and ran them at the small meeting for a small stake. The Jerry M's, the Cloisters and the rest of them started their careers by running for small stakes of £45 at meetings like the Croom meeting. As they gained confidence, they ran for £100 stakes at Limerick and other meetings and, eventually, made a reputation for themselves at Punchestown and Fairyhouse. It is because of the reputation made by those horses that some of the people Deputy Briscoe referred to—the Ranks, the Pagets, and other well-known foreigners, most of them very wealthy people—are spending a lot of their money here. They have been attracted here by the careers of those horses which came up from the small meetings to the big meetings. The small sporting farmers who bred them sold them for fairly good prices. They did well for themselves, while horse racing was enriched by the achievements of those animals, which, were it not for the small meetings, would probably never have been heard of.

I want to ensure that these meetings will be re-established, and that there will be men on the board who have the interests of the small breeder and the small owner at heart, who will see to it that all the money that is available to them will not be spent in the expansion of the metropolitan and big meetings, but that a good deal of it will be spent on the re-establishment of some of the country meetings that are now non-existent, even though it may mean that at the beginning they will not get the same return for the money.

I am not averse to the principle of a tax on betting. There was a tax on betting, which fell through. It was a revenue tax, and the money went to the relief of general taxation and did not go back to racing. There is a certain pool of money available in this country for sport. It is not a negligible amount. It flows between the bookmaker, the backer, the racehorse owner, breeder, and so on, and that pool should not be eliminated. The objection we had to the old tax was that the Government took something out of it. It never went back to racing. In this Bill the Minister proposes that there will be a certain amount taken from betting and put into the fund, which will go to the benefit of racing generally. It will go back to the pool.

I am rather confused in regard to this particular betting tax. In the Bill "course bet" is defined in one way, and in the Money Resolution before the House it is defined in another way. Will the Minister say which definition we are to accept? Section 26 (2) says:

"For the purposes of this section the amount of a course bet shall be taken to be the sum which, by the terms of the bet, the bookmaker by whom it is entered into, will be entitled to receive, retain or take credit for if the event the subject of the bet is determined in his favour."

According to the Resolution, 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.

When I read the Bill, I said to myself, "Is this a tax on betting generally or is it a tax on only one part of a bet?" Two people are parties to a bet but only one side is to be taxed. I think that is what the Bill means. While the member of the public making the bet is to be taxed, the other party, that is the bookmaker, is not taxed. As I interpret the definition in the Money Resolution, I think it would mean that a course bet would mean any bet that both the bookmaker and the ordinary citizen make and they would be liable to pay a tax on it. I think the bookmaker would have to pay his tax on the bet also. I hope the Minister will define that more clearly before the discussion ends.

There is another point in regard to the levy, namely, the manner in which it will be collected. Deputy Briscoe referred to that. We would like some assurance that there will be a particular method of collection. I was not here when the Minister spoke, but I think the Minister indicated that it would be left to an arrangement between the bookmakers and the public. I do not think the public will ever be consulted. They were never consulted in the past, and in respect of the old betting tax, the bookmakers made their own rules—and, as Deputy Briscoe indicated, where a person laid a £1 bet the bookmaker paid on the basis that it was a 19/- bet. There was no justification for that. I can imagine that if this Bill is passed as drafted and if the bookmaker proceeded to collect tax on that basis there would be innumerable lawsuits.

I should like the Minister to break his invariable rule and to make a bet. I would ask him to calculate the result of his bet on the basis of the bookmaker collecting the tax. The Minister has never made a bet in his life. He says in this Bill that we will charge a levy on bets. For the sake of argument, take the levy as 5 per cent. Suppose the Minister goes to the Phoenix Park with Deputy Briscoe to see how racing is carried on, and suppose he lays a bet at five to one. The horse wins and the Minister goes up to the bookmaker, naturally expecting to get £6 minus 1/-. The bookmaker does not give him £5 19s. He gives him £5 14s. Would the Minister work out the percentage? Does the bookmaker charge him a 5 per cent. tax on £1 or does he persuade the Minister that he has not laid him odds on a stake of £1 but has laid him five to one on 19/-, and the result is that the Minister wins £5 14s.? That is a greater tax than 5 per cent. Assuming the bookmaker was quite right in what he did, it works out at 5¼ per cent. If this Bill is passed in its present form, the backer may say, "the bookie has charged me more than is legal and I have a cause of action against him." That might happen. That is why I want to see some specific method of collecting the levy, whether it is going to be 5, 3 or 2 per cent. I do not want to have any possibility of the betting public being filched.

I am not either directly or by insinuation saying that bookmakers in this country would attempt to filch the public. I am not saying any such thing. Fortunately for us, there is not a set of greater sportsmen in this or any other country than the bookmakers in this country. As one who has had 50 years' experience of enjoying racing in this country in various ways, I should like to pay my tribute to a long line of honourable, decent men, who have carried on the profession of bookmaker. The percentage of men in that profession who have defaulted has been much less than in the case of any profession I could name. That is to their credit.

When we are passing a Bill like this, we want to see that it is watertight. When we are imposing a legal levy there should be some method of collecting it provided for rather than leaving it to one of the parties to make their own rules. It is a wrong method. The method adopted by the bookmakers makes it easy for themselves, although they make nothing out of it. The bookmaker when he has to collect a levy of 1/- in the pound adopts this method: he regards a £1 bet as a 19/- bet and, whether you win or lose, it is all the same to him. In effect, he collects the tax off the winning bets; the losing bets do not matter to him. If you stake £1 and if the horse loses, it does not matter to the bookmaker whether it was a 19/- bet or a 20/- bet. The £1 is gone and whether 1/- of it was regarded as tax or as part of the bet does not matter. But if you happen to win, the winner pays all the levy. The winner may be a person who only bets once in a lifetime. He may only go to the racecourse by chance and have one bet. That is what I want the Minister to do, so that he can get some experience of this business. Such a person may back a horse which wins and, no matter what the odds are, he is paying a great deal more than the levy. In the case I mentioned of the Minister's putting £1 on a horse and the horse winning at 5 to 1, he collects £5 14s. and pays 6/- tax. In that case I think the tax the Minister would pay would be 30 per cent. instead of 5 per cent. I want to have a system of collecting the tax which will be quite fair to the public and everybody else and so clear that nobody can make a mistake about it. As I say, the bookmakers adopted the easy method, but they made nothing out of it. It balanced out for them on the whole, but it was unfair to the general public.

So far as I know, this Bill must be fairly popular. I have had a long experience of racing, and very many owners and breeders, and a good many bookmakers know me well. Neither a private owner nor a bookmaker has come to me to say anything against this Bill. Therefore, I assume that it must be a fairly popular Bill. If any of these people have a grievance in connection with it, I do not know what it is. Somebody mentioned to me in a second-hand kind of way that bookmakers would be squeezed by the Bill. I do not see why they should be—certainly not more than any other section. For the first time, bookmakers are getting, so far as racecourses are concerned, a semi-legal status under this Bill. They are getting a status they never had before so far as I know with regard to betting. The bookmaker is excluded from any levy that is being imposed on betting. As I said, this Bill does not impose a levy on bets; it imposes a levy really on one party to the bet. Therefore, I cannot see that bookmakers have any grievance.

I hope that for the sake of the sport generally the levy will be as small as possible. The ordinary man who goes to a race meeting does not want to spend too much, and if he wins a few shillings he does not want that sum to be reduced by a tax. It was pointed out to me to-day by a person who is not a bookmaker that the bookmakers had a fear that certain sections of the Bill would interfere with them. Deputy Briscoe elaborated that, and said that certain bookmakers might be excluded from certain racecourses, and that he would like the Bill to be in such a form that every bookmaker would have the right to go into a racecourse. I do not know how many bookmakers there are in this country, but there is certainly a very great number. If every bookmaker in the country wanted to go to every race meeting there would be more bookmakers there than racegoers. I do not think that we should give a general right of entry to a racecourse to every bookmaker who wants to go there. There will have to be some method of selection. In any case, all bookmakers do not want to go to every meeting.

In 1943 there were 530 bookmakers registered.

That would be a pretty large number if they all wanted to go to a small meeting. I think it is only fair that there should be some method of selection, that the executive should have some say as to the bookmakers who are to go to their meetings. In practice, certain bookmakers go to certain meetings and no difficulty has been experienced in the matter. I do not think there will be any difficulty now. With regard to Deputy Briscoe's fear as to what the exclusion section of this Bill will impose on the bookmaker, there is nothing more imposed on the bookmaker than is imposed on the ordinary citizen. Bookmakers have built up a reputation which is possibly as good as the reputation of members of any other profession. There is no fear that any bookmaker will be seriously handicapped by any section of this Bill.

Deputy Briscoe referred to the fact that a bookmaker might be ejected from a racecourse. The same thing applies to any private race-goer; in certain circumstances, he can be ejected. Racing has been carried on here for generations in a sportsmanlike manner. The bodies controlling racing at present will form portion of the new body which is to control it. In the past, their verdicts have hardly ever been challenged. There has been a tendency to accept the verdict of the stewards of the Turf Club and of the I.N.H.S.C. No man ever got a "warning-off" notice from these bodies who did not deserve it, whether he was an ordinary member of the racing public or a bookmaker. Very few bookmakers have had that stigma attached to them. Those who did receive a "warning-off" notice accepted the verdict because they knew they were guilty.

I cannot see that it will be ever necessary to use the force which Deputy Briscoe is afraid of to eject any such persons, because they will not be there to be ejected. For the sake of the sport and for the sake of everybody concerned, I think that it would be better to leave the matter as it is rather than, as Deputy Briscoe suggested, to provide that the ejection should be by a member of the police force, or somebody of that kind. The "warning-off" should be carried out by the racing board who are primarily concerned, just as it is carried out at present by the stewards. The less publicity attached to it the better for racing generally and the individuals themselves. I believe the matter is much better left as it is and, as this Bill is accepted, it should be left so.

There are some clauses in the Bill in regard to the acquisition of land and so on which will be necessary if the board decides to set up new meetings. These are clauses which will not have any great effect on the general prosperity of racing.

This Bill will do a great deal of good for racing if it is properly worked, and I believe it will be worked properly. It is essential, however, that the members of the board should be men in whom the owners generally have confidence and in whom the general public have confidence. I have no antipathy to the members of the old committees, whose names Deputy Briscoe read in the House to-day. They are all honourable gentlemen, wherever their residence, they are sportsmen to the heart, who have functioned in various capacities in racing for many years, and in whom the public have every trust. If any person on the list read out is selected to be a member of the board, I do not see that there can be any objection. In regard to those cases where the Minister has the power of selection, I hope he will not forget the interests of the small race meeting down the country, and by that I mean in Munster and the West of Ireland. Those meetings were the foundation of racing—or of chasing, anyhow. Many of our famous horses sprang from them, and will spring in the future. There is great need of good chasing horses in this country. Some of them will never be discovered, if we have not the small meetings which were quite common up to 10 or 12 years ago.

As regards the tax, which is the backbone of this Bill, and which will probably draw more opposition than anything else, I hope the Minister will find some method of collecting the tax, and that it will be made clear definitely to everybody, without offering advantages to one side or the other. It should ensure that the man who bets will have only the legal amount of the levy taken off—no more and no less. The tax should be as small as possible. After all, the average small racegoer goes for the sport of it. He pays his entry fee and has a little bet, and looks on that as a day's sport. If he can win a shilling or two, he goes home with a cheerier heart. Therefore, too much should not be taken off his little winnings, when they do occur, and goodness knows they do not occur very often. If the experience Deputy Briscoe and I have had is general, the general public do not make anything out of betting, but it is the other way round. My own experience goes back longer probably than that of any other member of this House, going back for 50 years, and watching people betting and taking part myself, I can say that a good many of the people who took part have disappeared in one way or another, some through betting too much, while others have died out. I have known only two in the 50 years who ever made any money. If the bookmakers have any fear that this Bill is going to extinguish them, all I can say is that history is against them. I can say to the bookmakers, in all sincerity, and paying what tribute I can, that racing without bookmakers could not be carried on. The Tote is not attractive enough and will never come into violent opposition with the bookmakers. The bookmaker will always be essential to racing, and this Bill will not interfere one bit with his position.

I listened very carefully to the Minister in connection with the Second Reading of this Bill, and I have a certain amount of sympathy with him in his endeavour to steer it through the Dáil. I realise he has not a great deal of knowledge of the racing and horse-breeding industries. He was amused to learn what a "monkey" and a "pony" mean in the racing vernacular. I am not satisfied that the statements put forward here by the Minister should convince the Dáil to pass this Bill as put before us. I have my own opinions regarding the Bill, the Title of which is "A Bill to provide for the improvement and development of horse breeding and horse racing and the better control of racecourses...." Without going any further, I want to say a few words on that.

Has the Minister any argument to put forward here that the horse-breeding industry has declined? Has he any knowledge about the high prices being paid for Irish yearlings and thoroughbred stock at Doncaster and Ballsbridge sales? Having a small interest in racing, I have attended both Doncaster and Ballsbridge, and Irish bloodstock there has fetched the highest prices. The Minister has given no indication that Irish bloodstock here is in danger of a decline. Let him say so, if he fears there is that danger. He cannot do so.

I am sure the Minister has been in consultation with the Minister for Agriculture, who is principally interested in the bloodstock industry. He mentioned the Racing Commission in putting this Bill before the House, but he did not consult the bookmaking interests nor the interests of the punters and the public who follow racing. Who were the Racing Commission that investigated the matter and apparently reported to the Government Department? Lord Adare, Captain de Burgh, Major Watt, Due de Stacpoole, Captain Gargan. They are more reminiscent of a British courtmartial than of a board interested in Irish racing. These gentlemen report, and as a result this Bill is introduced. There is also mention in the Bill of the Irish Turf Club and the Irish Steeplechase Committee. I have read for a considerable time about Mr. Justice Wylie's "Dream of Goodwill", but so far as I can see there is no goodwill in this Bill. When this Bill was prepared, and when the Press got some intimation of what was in it, Mr. Wylie who, it is my opinion, is the big noise behind it, said that "the only way you are going to improve racing in this country is to get it out of betting, to get it out of the bookmakers." I am not satisfied anyway, and, if this legislation is to improve all horse-breeding in this country, I would like to hear from the Minister whether there has been any decline in it.

The first speaker on the Opposition side, Deputy Hughes, talked about horse breeding and about the reputation of Irish bloodstock the world over. We all realise that it is high. He said that this Bill will do certain things, that the finances to be derived through it will be considerable, that we will have high-priced sires and the best stock possible. I think he showed an utter ignorance of the position. I want to tell him that the best steeplechasers, the best horses that ever went over chases in this country or in the English Grand National or the Grande Prix in Paris, were sired by a low-priced sire. My Prince was at stud at 25 guineas and that horse sired Prince Regent and was the sire of Reynolds-town that won the Grand National. He sired three horses that were first in the National. My Prince, at a fee of 25 guineas, sired the best steeplechasers in the world. To get down to flat racing, Blandford was one of the best horses we had in this country. The sire of Blandford stood at 20 guineas—Swinford.

If you want to improve the horse-breeding industry and the racing industry, do you want to do it at the cost of exterminating bookmakers? This Bill means, in plain language, the pole-axing of bookmakers. The Minister did not consult the bookmaking interests or the punters' interests when he was bringing forward this Bill. There is no necessity for the Bill, and he cannot produce arguments to show that there is a necessity to improve the horse-breeding industry, by putting a penal tax on bookmakers of 5 per cent. It is suggested by the Opposition, and no doubt it will be suggested by other Deputies, that this should be passed on to the public. The Minister for Finance knows that a 2½ per cent. tax was imposed on bookmakers 14 or 15 years ago and it had to be removed because it turned honest men into thieves. This Bill will do something similar. Bookmakers could not exist if they have to pay this 5 per cent. tax, and even if the Minister is agreeable to amend it in Committee, to arrange that it will not exceed 2½ per cent., they could not pay it.

A bookmaker here, it is suggested, would live well on 1 per cent. of his turnover. I will give one example of a bookmaker laying odds. He takes in £1,000 for the day and maybe he considers himself lucky at the end of the day if he gets out with £50 credit. He has to pay his expenses out of that. Maybe, having paid to get into the enclosure and having to bring a car and to meet other expenses, the total amount would come to £10 or £12. As well as that he will be expected to pay £50 to the Racing Board.

I would like the House to consider Section 25, which says:

"The Board may make regulations fixing the charges to be made by executives of authorised racecourses to any licensed bookmaker or his assistants accompanying him for admission to authorised racecourses and different charges may be fixed in respect of different authorised racecourses and in respect of different parts of the same authorised racecourse."

Is it not quite plain to any man here that if you are on the rail you will pay more than the man not on the rail, and according as your position in the ring is more advantageous, the more you pay? But there is a sinister motive; it may be that the Minister's draftsman did not realise it, but I think the people in his Department did when they put this in:

"Sub-section (6) of Section 3 of the Totalisator Act, 1929 (No. 22 of 1929), is hereby amended by the deletion of all words from the words and the charge to any such licensed bookmaker' to the end of the said sub-section."

Do you know what that means, so far as this House is concerned? According to the Totalisator Act, the racing executive could charge the bookmaker only five times the admission fee. They are deleting that sub-section which guarantees that the bookmaker will pay only five times the admission charge, in order to give them the power to charge what they like.

It has been pointed out here that to improve racing it is desirable to reduce the admission fee to the public. Instead of the public paying 10/- to go into the enclosure, the board may decide that they will reduce the charge to 5/-. This section says that the bookmaker on the rail or in any other part of the enclosure will pay in accordance with what the board decides. Why delete that sub-section from the Totalisator Act of 1929? That Act went through this House with the approval of the House and it guaranteed that the bookmaker would pay only five times the admission fee charged to the public. That will be removed under this legislation in order to enable the board to reduce the admission fee to the public, but it will not give any benefit to the bookmakers. They can charge them what they like at racecourses such as the Phoenix Park, Leopardstown, Baldoyle or any other place.

Has the Minister produced any evidence here that the executives in the metropolitan racecourses want this Bill? Has he produced any evidence here that the ordinary racing public want the Bill? It is stated that the funds which will accrue to this board will be used for the reduction of admission fees to the public and for the improvement of the amenities of racecourses. Do they want deck chairs put out for the people who attend race meetings? What exactly does it mean in relation to the amenities of Baldoyle and Leopardstown? Are they to put out deck chairs for the people and have wireless sets to announce what is going on around the racecourse?

This board is to be set up and 11 persons are to be nominated by the Minister. Section 6 of Part II says: "In this section the word `Governor' means a person who is a member of one or other of the governing bodies." What are the governing bodies—the Irish Turf Club and the National Hunt Steeplechase Committee. They are this gang of British officers—Lord Adare, The Due de Stacpoole, Major Watt, Captain Gargan, Major De Burgh and Mr. Wylie. Mr. Wylie's attitude to bookmakers is to exterminate them. I do not know how he is getting on with his Goodwill Restaurants and with his goodwill, but I know his goodwill towards bookmakers. Six members are to be appointed from these governing bodies; in other words, they will control it. The Minister could appoint five bookmakers, but the board can pole-axe the bookmakers any time they want to. That is the only word I can find in the English language to describe it.

Mr. Corish

Will you vote against it?

I am a loyal member of my Party and I will naturally, in accordance with Party regulations, have to vote for the Bill, but I am expressing these views for the consideration of the Minister. If Labour were on the Government Benches, I would probably make the same interjection as the Deputy. These are the men who will control this board. I have a certain amount of sympathy with the Minister because he is not a racing man—maybe when he goes up to the Park he may become a racing man— and he has brought forward this Bill conscientiously believing that it is in the interests of the horse-breeding industry. It is no such thing. Does the Minister know that, in 1930, there were 122 race meetings in this country and that, in 1940, the first year of the war, the number had increased to 131? Racing in this country at present is at its peak. It was never as prosperous as it is to-day.

Does that include bookmakers?

Bookmakers go to race meetings to make a book, and they have their ups and downs, but the Irish race meeting would lose all its glamour if the bookmakers were not there. I do not know whether Deputy Coogan is a racing man or not, but if he or anybody else went to a race meeting and did not hear the shouts of the bookmakers, or if there was one bookmaker missing on the rails, he would say: "What happened to Dick Power to-day or what happened to so and so?" In countries in which bookmakers have been done away with, mechanical betting has not been in the interests of racing. I have here a cutting from a British paper of an article written by a racing correspondent who was over here It says:

"No one will question the good intentions of the new measure, but it strikes one as rather unfortunate that reforms of such a character should be mooted at a time when Irish racing was approaching the peak point of prosperity."

According to the Bill, the public are to be admitted to racecourses at reduced charges, but the Minister stated in his introductory speech that this tax should be passed on to the public, so that the public are to be allowed in for 5/- instead of 10/-, and then asked to pay 30/- tax. Why not do the right thing, and, if you think it necessary, charge entertainment tax? The punter does not want this Bill, the racing executives do not want it and the small owner does not want it, because the small owner in the ordinary course of events has to depend on successful betting to keep his stable going.

The Minister would be wise to reconsider this matter before Committee Stage, and not to be led away by this gang I have referred to—Mr. Wylie, Lord Adare, Major De Burgh, Major Watt, Captain Gargan, and the Due de Stacpoole. The names are reminiscent of a British courtmartial. To meet their requirements, what do you propose to do? You propose to penalise, to exterminate a lot of good Irish nationals. The bookmakers of this country gave all they could to the national movement, and the Minister knows it well. Even if they did not give support in the firing line, there was one thing just as important in those days—finance, and the bookmakers were always generous to the national movement. The Minister should not penalise them or exterminate them as this Bill will exterminate them.

Let the Minister go back and examine the position which obtained when the 2½ per cent. tax was placed on bets. Let him see what happened then. I went with other bookmakers on a deputation to the Minister at that time, and when we put our case before him the Minister realised that the 2½ per cent. tax on course bets was not justified, and it was transferred to S.P. bets. Running a bookmaker's S.P. office is a completely different game from making a book on the course. Deputy McGilligan, on the occasion of that debate, butted in and said that I had "ratted" on the bookmakers. He may have more experience of rats than I have, but making a book in an office is a completely different game from making a book on the course. There is another section in this Bill which the Minister has not considered at all. The ordinary bookmaker obtains a licence.

I move to report progress.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.