I endeavoured yesterday to cover the ground in connection with this Bill, but I do not think it would be any harm if I repeated some of my statements.
Committee on Finance. - Racing Board and Racecourses Bill, 1945—Financial Resolution (Resumed).
The Deputy will understand that repetition is forbidden.
This Bill is being introduced by the Minister to deal with the horse-breeding industry and the improvement of racing. Does the Minister realise that the Bloodstock Association at the moment is composed of the wealthiest people in the country? They are practically semi-millionaires.
I would like to remind the Minister that the first intimation the general public got that a Bill was to be introduced to deal with racing was from a statement made at a dinner of the Bloodstock Association, by the Minister for Agriculture. I would bring the Minister's memory back to a statement that was made by another Minister— whom I told I was going to mention the matter—Mr. P.J. Ruttledge, when he stated at that dinner that the Government had no intention of interfering with the racing or bloodstock industry.
Surely the Deputy should refer to him as Deputy Ruttledge?
Yes. The Minister made that statement at this dinner, and it was followed up by the Minister for Agriculture at the last dinner, when we had the information that a Bill was to be introduced. I ask the Minister to reconsider the whole matter. Has he satisfied himself, in collaboration with the Minister for Agriculture, that there is any necessity for this Bill? Has he put up arguments in this House to show that racing is on the decline, or that the horse-breeding industry is on the decline? Definitely he has not. He should be well aware that the principal patrons of thoroughbred horse racing in this country are well-to-do people. Even if they control racing and have not improved the amenities of racecourses, I do not see why the Minister should introduce a Bill to extract from the racing public and the bookmaker money to improve racing and improve the amenities of racecourses. There are members of the Irish Turf Club and of the Irish Steeplechase Committee who, as I and others connected with racing know, are suffering probably from senile decay. If their methods are being taken, why should the Minister try to bolster up the members of the Irish Turf Club and Irish Steeplechase Committee in order to exterminate good Irish nationals? The Minister has produced no arguments here to show that the racing public want this Bill. He has produced no argument that the racing executives want it.
I would like to refer to the Minister's statement on the Second Reading. He mentioned the Racing Commission and the board but, in trying to steer this Bill through the Dáil, he very wisely refrained from telling the Dáil of the control that is to be given to the Turf Club and the Racing Board. The Minister said:—
"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 colleclection 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."
In other words, the Minister is putting it forward here that the Racing Commission recommended the extermination of bookmakers and that all betting should be on the Tote.
Since I spoke on this Bill yesterday I had some phone calls from people. I think I referred to this Bill as poleaxing all bookmakers. I have been kindly informed to-day that it is not, that it does not conform with the regulations of the State at the moment, that so far as the bookmakers are concerned it is not a pole-axe—it is a humane killer. This humane killer will be used on bookmakers. The Minister cannot satisfy me or the general public that this Bill is in the interests either of the betting public, the owners, or the executives of racecourses.
I wonder has the Minister considered the various sections of the Bill from every aspect? I suppose he believes that this Bill, as the title indicates, is for the improvement of horse breeding in this country. As I said yesterday, he has produced no evidence that horse breeding is on the decline here. He has produced no evidence that horse racing is on the decline. The Minister knows that the only way he can find out what public opinion may be is through representatives in the Dáil, let them be for the Government or against the Government. Another way in which you can sense public opinion is through the Press. I read a statement in a newspaper recently on the subject of this Bill. It referred to racing in Ireland being at its peak. A paper was brought to my notice this morning in which the heading was: "What will the backers get for £100,000 levy?" For the information of the Minister, I think it would be no harm if I read the article.
In what paper is it?
The person who contributed the article is a sporting editor in Dúblin. The paper is named the Sunday Dispatch.
A very high-class journal.
I will not say that it is on a par with "Truth in the News". However, this is what the article says:
"The racing community is beginning to wake up to what may happen if the Racing Board Bill should go through in its original form. Contemplation is far from pleasant. To suggest that racecourses will be provided with amenities at present denied them is all very well, but the point is whether they are to be given value for the £100,000 which they are to be called upon to pay every year as a result of a 5 per cent. levy on all racecourse bets. Such racecourse amenities as are visualised ought to have been provided long ago, and it has to be admitted that in this and other matters indicative of progress the governing bodies, meaning the Turf Club and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee, have been sadly lacking."
These are the people who have given information to the Department that introduced this Bill. A lot of gentlemen who, in my opinion, had no initiative, no interest in it, now want to fall back on the bookmakers to get the money to improve racing and to improve the amenities of racecourses. It goes on to say:—
"It may be that their persistent policy of refusing to move with the times has caused action to be taken in other quarters, and it would appear that it is intended that they shall be further relieved of the many responsibilities customarily associated with the government of racing and racing affairs."
It would be a very sad day for this country if the Government were to hand over control of racing to the gang of the Irish Turf Club and the Irish Steeplechase Committee.
The Minister congratulated the Turf management on their contribution towards Irish racing, but he never mentioned the contribution by bookmakers over a big number of years towards Irish racing. Under the restricted method of racing which permitted only 90 meetings last year, the bookmakers contributed £16,000 to the Irish Racing Executive. I have had no indication from the Minister that the Racing Executive want this Bill.
"Everybody interested in the welfare of the Irish Turf will agree that it is high time that something was done to conform with modern requirements. The question is whether the methods which it is proposed to employ to get that something done are the best that can be devised. It will scarcely be denied that the measure is pro-tote in its conception and design."
There is no doubt that it is pro-tote.
"This view is supported by the expressed intention of reducing the number of bookmakers who shall operate in opposition to the machine in future. This enforced reduction of competition suggests that, under present arrangements, the tote is not preferred by the majority of backers. Since its inception, racegoers have had their free choice as between tote and bookmaker, and the amount of patronage accorded the tote is a mere fraction compared with that received by members of the ring. The tote, from their takings during 1944, were able to contribute more than £21,000 to racing. What sum the bookmakers paid to executives in the form of badge money during the corresponding period has not been officially disclosed, but it is understood to be in the region of £15,000. That makes quite a tidy total from betting, directly and indirectly. Apparently it is not regarded as being nearly enough, and, Oliver Twist-like, the powers are asking for more."
I suggest that the bookmakers give a very tidy sum every year to Irish racing. This Bill has been introduced, but I cannot understand why, because there is no necessity for it. The Minister apparently has been in consultation with the Racing Commission and the Irish Turf Club and the Steeplechase Committee. But the punters were never consulted, and the bookmakers' interests were never consulted.
I suggest the Minister should withdraw this Bill, or, if he does not do so, he should at least modify certain sections in it. I will deal with the sections which I think he should modify, if he will not agree to withdraw them. Why should this Irish Government try to penalise good Irishmen, good Irish nationals, who have given their best to this country? There were more powerful weapons than .45.s during the fighting in this country. There was the powerful weapon of finance, and bookmakers, apart from what some of them whom I know in the City of Dublin did, apart from the prominent part which they took as commandants and brigade officers, always contributed financially.
Why should they be penalised for the sake of a body calling itself the Racing Commission, a body composed of a number of West Britons whose names are sufficient to stink in the nostrils of the Irish people? Who are they? They are a body of men suffering from senile decay—Mr. Justice Wylie, whose object is not to exterminate bookmakers directly but by means of the humane killer; Lord Adare, Captain de Burgh, Major Watt, the Due de Stacpoole, and Captain Gargan. These are the people who have advised the Government in connection with this Bill, and who are to penalise Irish bookmakers and their assistants.
The Minister in his opening statement said that one of the objects of the Bill was to reduce admission charges to race meetings. There is a section in the Bill, Section 25, which sets out that the board may make regulations fixing the charges to be made by executives of authorised racecourses to any licensed bookmaker and his assistants, and that different charges may be made to authorised racecourses and in respect of different parts of the same authorised racecourse. Then sub-section (3) says that sub-section (6) of Section 3 of the Totalisator Act, 1929, is hereby amended. What is the meaning of that? According to the Totalisator Act, bookmakers were required to pay only five times the admission charge to the public, and according to the great intentions of this Bill admission charges to the public are to be reduced. The bookmaker at present pays five times the charge to the public—10s. or 15s., according to the meeting—but although admission charges are to be reduced, the Bill will see to it that they will not be reduced for the bookmaker. If the Minister will give a guarantee that he will settle the admission charges for bookmakers, that section can be got over, but why is that section of the Totalisator Act being repealed? You do not want the bookmaker to get the advantage of the reduction to the public, and you want him to pay according to whatever position he occupies on the racecourse. This is Mr. Justice Wylie's dream of goodwill. There is no goodwill in this.
Another section, Section 6, says:—
"In this section the word `Governor' means a person who is a member of one or other of the Governing Bodies."
Who are the governing bodies? They are the Irish Turf Club and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee—a lot of people who have no interest in this country, the wealthiest people in this country. I defy the Minister to prove to me that these gentlemen—Major Watt, Captain de Burgh and Lord Adare—are interested in the horse-breeding industry. The majority of them are semi-millionaires like Captain Gargan, backed up by Mr. Justice Wylie. The Bill makes provision for the setting up of a board which is to consist of 11 members. It also provides that six, a majority, shall be governors, who shall appoint their own chairman. They can then put on whom they like and for these people it will be merely a matter of raising their hands. They elect their own chairman and then can do what they like.
I have no doubt as to who will be on it and I have no hesitation in saying to the Minister, even though he may resent my remarks about this gang, that they will take control of Irish racing and of the horse-breeding industry with the approval of the Government. They will have power over racing executives, over bookmakers and over punters. In a word, they will have complete control and no reason has been given as to why they should get this power. Nobody has said that the horse-breeding industry is on the decline, that racing has declined or that attendances at race meetings have declined. Even under restricted transport conditions, every race meeting in Ireland during the past four years has shown an increased attendance and an increased volume of betting, even with the tote. Neither the Minister nor his advisers can deny that during these four years, with restricted transport facilities, there have been increased attendances and an increased volume of betting, and then the Minister tells us that this Bill is introduced in the interests of horse breeding.
The first speaker on the Opposition side, Deputy Hughes, welcomed the Bill and said that we all knew that the horse-breeding industry and Irish horses are in the top flight. We all know that. He then went on to speak about our getting sires over to this country and I reminded him, as I remind him again now, that the best chasers in this country to-day are those by My Prince, that three of the first four horses in the English Grand National at Aintree in one year were by My Prince, and that the stud fee for My Prince was £25.
I will get away from steeplechasing and tell the House something about flat racing. Blandford was the best sire that we had in this country. The person who owned him was bitter against this country and the horse was removed from Cloghran, which is about 1½ miles from where I live. Blandford sired three or four Derby winners as well as the winners of the Eclipse Stakes, the St. Leger and The Guineas. The sire of Blandford was Swinford, whose stud fee was 20 guineas. I do not see why we should not have good sires here even though the fees are high, and why they should not be available for good brood mares at reasonable fees. The Deputy was all wrong in talking about low-priced sires. I understood the Minister to say that it was his intention to delete sub-section (6) of the Totalisator Act. He also said that this Bill would even reduce the price to bookmakers. The Minister, in the course of his statement on the Bill, said:—
"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 the course betting on the totalisator."
There is no doubt that if this Bill goes through Mr. Wylie's humane killer will come into operation. The Minister also said, in the course of his statement when moving the Second Reading of the Bill:—
"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 are mainly breeders, trainers and owners. Deputy Fogarty opposed the proposal, which, he said, was a burden that racing could ill afford."
The Minister agreed then, and his predecessor, Mr. Blythe, agreed, that the bookmakers could not pay 2½ per cent. But now the Minister wants them to pay 5 per cent. The Minister will tell us that this tax must be passed on to the racing public. Can the Minister suggest how that is going to be done? Supposing the Minister gets £100,000, will the Racing Board stop at that? Did the Minister look at the sums that were derived from the 2½ per cent., and will he tell us what he is going to get from the Racing Board? In regard to the Racing Board, the Minister is giving it power that, I think, is not in accordance with the Constitution. It will have the power to appoint a number of officials. These officials will have the power of excise officers. They can investigate bookmakers' books, call to their houses and carry out investigations there, and if the bookmakers do not submit to that they will be subject to certain penalties. The Minister knows that some bookmakers were sent to Mountjoy Jail in connection with the 2½ per cent. tax. I hope that the Minister will take a better interest in racing when he goes to the Phoenix Park. He will then be able to see the racing from his residence. Suppose a bookmaker takes £1,000 on the day. He has to pay a tax of £50, and he may have to pay £10 or £15 to his clerks. That man loses on the day. I am afraid you will have thievery of different kinds resorted to in order to evade payment of the tax. The board is to appoint officials to enforce the payment of the 5 per cent. tax. Will the Minister give an assurance that he will not agree to any tax being imposed on bookmakers?
There is no tax being proposed in the Bill.
There is a maximum of 5 per cent.
That is a levy. If it was a tax the Exchequer would benefit.
Well, it comes to the same thing.
It is not the same thing to me.
If it is not paid, and the bookmaker is found out, he will be prosecuted. Is it not correct to say that the officials of the Racing Board will have the same power as excise officers?
If the Minister wants to improve horse racing, I think he should adopt some other method than that of imposing a 5 per cent. tax on bookmakers.
Tell me how I will get it.
I suggest to the Minister that, between this and the Committee Stage, he should consult the bookmakers and the breeders as well as this body of senile decayed individuals. Why should the Racing Board be allowed to walk the Government into this—to introduce a Bill to exterminate bookmakers? The bookmakers have contributed liberally to the racing executives. In my opinion owners will back horses outside of this country in order to evade payment of the tax if some alteration is not made in the Bill. Further, the Minister is giving the Racing Board power to issue course betting licences or permits. Why should they do that? The Government issue licences to bookmakers. The bookmakers pay for the licences, and I understand that before a licence is issued there is a Gárda investigation and a report as to whether the person is a fit and suitable person to hold a licence. Now, the Government is giving the Racing Board authority to allow them to bet or not. In other words, if some bookmaker is not persona grata with the Racing Board, the Racing Board can say: “We will not allow this fellow in to bet any more.” Because he is a stormy character, or, as the Deputy behind me says, because he may be a nationalist, they will not let him in. They are being given power in this Bill to charge the bookmaker a different price for every racecourse and a different price for every place he stands up. The Minister is giving Mr. Justice Wylie, and his henchmen, Major Watt, Captain de Burgh, the Duc de Stacpoole, power to do what they like. He is giving them control of Irish racing.
The bloodstock breeders have an annual dinner. I remember, on one occasion, the representative of the Government, Mr. Ruttledge, said that the Government did not want to interfere with Irish racing and had no intention of interfering with it. Time marches on and the Minister for Agriculture attends the bloodstock breeders' dinner as Government representative and announces that they are going to improve the horse-breeding industry in this country and they are going to improve the racing industry in this country by imposing a tax on the bookmakers and that they are going to ask the bookmakers to pass that tax on to the general public.
I should like to draw the attention of the Press reporters to the fact that I think they reported me wrongly when I replied to an interjection by Deputy Corish. I said that the Minister was anxious to hear criticism of the Bill from both sides of the House. I said that, as a member of the Party, my obligation was to vote for the Bill but that I was contributing to the debate in the hope that what I said might alter the views of the Minister and might help in dealing with some of the sections. I was reported in the Press as saying that I would vote for the Bill. I certainly will. I must vote for the Bill, as a Party member, but I am giving my views to the Minister in the hope that he will consider them, before the next stage. I should like him to meet the bookmakers and discuss the matter fully with them. The bookmakers are good Irish nationalists and will give every help to this country.
I have met the bookmakers.
The Minister should meet them again and discuss this matter fully with them. I do not see why the Minister should comply with the whims of these gentlemen that I have mentioned, with all these titles.
That is the Minister's good will.
I do not know whether it is Wylie's goodwill or not, but I think the Minister should meet the bookmakers. I should like to remind the Minister that he has not introduced one clause in the Bill to deal with persons employed in racing stables. That matter was mentioned by Deputy Norton. I know workers employed in racing stables, apprentices and stable-boys. They are badly paid. Why does not the Minister say that this board will investigate the conditions under which they exist? Why does not he see that trainers and owners controlling racing stables pay these people properly? Why does not he give the board power to investigate the conditions of employment of these people? Why does he not give the board power to investigate the charges that horse-owners have to pay for having their horses in these stables? They have to pay ridiculous prices. I am letting the Minister into a secret when I tell him that the unfortunate owner is always in the hands of the trainer. If the Minister is going to control racing, he should look after the small fellow; he should look after the unfortunate man who is working in the stables from six in the morning and who is paid 3/- or 5/- a week, and who is sacked if he is seen talking to a bookmaker. Will the Minister put a clause in the Bill governing the conditions of employees?
I am interested in bookmakers. I know them and I know that the bookmakers in this country have been generous to all charities.
And to Fianna Fáil.
They were generous to Fine Gael too. Dick Duggan was not too bad to you. Bookmakers have been very generous. They have always been generous to charities of every description. As far as the national movement was concerned, they have always contributed. I know a number of them in the city who are members of the Old I.R.A.; brigade officers and so forth. Even those who were not in the fighting line contributed financially. I hope the Minister is not going to allow himself to be led away by Lord Adare, Major Watt, Captain de Burgh, the Duc de Stacpoole, Judge Wylie, and all those who would attempt to exterminate the good Irish nationalists.
I wish to say at the outset that I am absolutely opposed to this Bill. As one who is interested in the breeding and racing industry in this country, it may seem very strange for me to say that I am opposed to the Bill. The title of the Bill sets out that its purpose is the improvement of the breeding and racing industry in Ireland. I believe that if this Bill goes through as it stands it will finish Irish racing and that will be a big loss to this country. We all know from the Bill and from the Minister's statement that we are to have a 5 per cent. tax on bets. We may call it a levy if we like, but the public who attend racing meetings will be called upon to pay, and they will regard it as a tax. It means that they have to pay. I should like to give the Minister full credit for believing what he says, namely, that he is out to improve the industry. I believe he has been misinformed, and I do not mean that in any impertinent sense. I further believe that this Bill has been drafted by people who really know very little about the true facts of the case, that they are not conversant with racing and that they have no knowledge of the small owner, the small trainer and the small breeder down the country. It is for these people I speak.
To come back to racing, we want to see these largely-attended meetings continued. How are we to have them supported as they have been for the past few years by enormous crowds if we saddle the race-going public with this tax? I believe that if this tax is really enforced, as the Minister says it must be, it will drive the public from the race meetings. It will force them to another form of amusement or amusements, and there are many. For instance, at present there is a very serious rival to Irish racing, namely, dog racing, an excellent support in itself. It is a cheap form of amusement and it is a direct rival to horse racing. You will find many of the racing public supporting dog racing and giving up horse racing when they feel that they cannot afford it. It is nonsense to say that this tax will not have any bad effect on the public and that the public will still go to race meetings. If a man goes to a racecourse and has, say, six bets and loses three and wins three, on the following Tuesday morning, if he is a credit better, or, if not, before he leaves the racecourse, he is presented with a bill for tax. It is all the same to him whether it is a tax or a levy or whether he loses it at the races. It simply means that he has to fork out a sum of money which he did not think he had lost. It will have the effect of lessening the attendance at race meetings.
I should like to ask the Minister, although he says that he has not frequented race meetings very much, is there anything more depressing for one than to go to a race meeting and find that there are only a few people present? We have had that experience in days gone by. I would much prefer at any time to go to a graveyard. There is nothing more depressing than that, and it has the effect of keeping more people at home on the following day. Therefore, I really feel that this is a very serious matter for this country and that is why I have got up to speak, because I speak for the small owner and the small breeder and the public. People say that the public will not be affected and that the Minister, in turn, is very concerned about the public. That being so, would it not be possible for a representative of the public to be placed on this new board which the Minister proposes to set up? You can have breeders, you can have bookmakers, you can have owners, and you can have trainers, but if you have not the public, who are the backbone of racing, you have not the attendance at the race meetings; in other words, you have no race meeting. Therefore, one would have imagined that there would have been a representative of the public on the board.
Then we are forced to ask ourselves, who would be competent to speak for the racing public on any board? The people who attend the southern meetings, for instance, are quite a different section of the community from those who attend race meetings in the Metropolitan area, as one can well understand. In the southern area a person perhaps just goes to the races because his father owns a horse or because such-and-such a horse was bred in his particular district. These people take such a pleasure in that and such pride out of it that they go to the races and pay the admission fee. We have, of course, a different section in the Metropolitan area. Nevertheless, these people in the south like to try to win off the bookmaker if they can, but they have not the same outlook as the people in the Metropolitan area. Therefore, I say it would be impossible, even if there happened to be a representative of the public on the board, to have one competent to speak for the people in the southern area, because it would not be possible to find one with the local knowledge which is necessary. For that reason I feel that there is more in this Bill than just meets the eye of the ordinary man in the street.
We must remember that in addition to the horses we have had in this generation, there were horses such as Woodbrook and Jerry M. No doubt, Deputies at one time or another have read or heard of the Wild Man from Borneo. All these facts go to show that this is an industry which should be preserved, and that we should hesitate to do anything which might interfere with it in the slightest. We have had these great pillars of the Turf— Birdcatcher, Barcaldine, bred in Co. Kildare, Ard Patrick, and others. Ard Patrick was a Derby winner, and was one of the old pillars of the Turf. For that reason, we have much to be proud of so far as our bloodstock is concerned, and in my opinion it is not necessary for us to be perturbed as to how we are to put the Irish horse on the market—whether he is a chaser or a flat-race champion. We know very well that we have had them in the days gone by, that we have them now, and that we will always find an export market for Irish bloodstock.
We want to remember these few facts before we come to the conclusion that the be-all and end-all of everything is in this Bill so far as horse racing or the breeding industry is concerned. We have, of course, heard much about what the Bill will do and what it proposes to do. At the same time, people in the south—I have the honour to represent a sporting county, and it is for these people that I speak —are very concerned about this Bill and its implications, so far as they are concerned. They want to know how they are going to benefit and who is to speak for them on the new board. They feel that their interests, perhaps, will be filched from them by this Bill, and that sooner or later they will be forced out of the industry in one way or another.
It has been pointed out to me time and again by people who are supporters of the Bill that it will subsidise the breeder. That may be an excellent thing. But who is to determine who is a breeder? Does it mean that a tax is being taken from the pockets of racegoers to subsidise everyone who breeds a thoroughbred horse? Does it mean that the public are to be forced to contribute to people who, perhaps, never run a horse and rarely attend a meeting, and other people, perhaps, who have gained very considerably from the profits of a horse which they have been lucky enough to sell without having had to incur the expense of racing?
Surely it is not the idea of the Government and of the advisers behind the Government to subsidise such people at the expense of racing? I want to see every penny that comes in in this way, if this tax goes through, go back to racing and let the breeders stand on their own feet, just as other industries have to stand. Let me not be misinterpreted as being against the principle. I am not. At the same time, I think it is quite unfair to subsidise the man who never races a horse here and who rarely attends a meeting and who does not contribute one penny; and then ask the people keeping up the racing to contribute towards his further profits.
I now come to the question of private racecourses and the results which may occur to racing executives down South. It seems to me that in this Bill the board is getting too much power. First of all, there is no necessity for the Bill, because racing was never more prosperous in this country than it is now and it does not need the Bill in order to put the breeders on the market. Secondly, the public are going to races without fear or interference from anybody. We want to be left alone, so far as the small breeders and the racing community in the South are concerned. We feel we do not know where it will end if this Bill goes through. We have been quite satisfied with racing as it was carried out.
I am against the setting up of the board as the Minister proposes to do it. I can only see that the powers which will be given to this board are such as would be given to a dictator. It will be a monopoly all through for this new board, the members of which may know nothing whatever about racing; and in its efforts to help racing it may have the effect of killing it. I am against monopolies or Government interference in private enterprise at all times and I can see nothing but monopoly in this Bill. We give the Government credit for meaning to do the right thing, but meaning is not always sufficient. We have had a very dreadful example of that, and of boards such as this, in the case of the Pigs Board. We spoke against that board here—I did so myself—and we see how the board had the effect of killing that trade and industry, exterminating decent men who were earning their living from it. I think there is a comparison between the two boards and, for that reason, I feel the Minister is taking on too much in giving these powers to this board.
Much has been said about the Turf Club. So far as I can see, its powers are being taken away by this Bill. If it is to have equal powers with this new board, why not let it select its own members? Is it not the intention of the Minister to appoint them? If there is to be equal status between the two boards, they should have the power to select their own members, but that is not so, according to the Bill. As we are dealing with the Turf Club, I would like to pay tribute to those men who have acted as the stewards and the custodians of racing for many years. I hold no brief for them, but I would like to give justice where it is due. Charges have been levied against these men when they are not in a position to answer them. As one who has some little connection with racing, I would say I have never heard it stated by anybody, in any section of the community, whether he was a southern racegoer or one from the metropolitan area, that these men made any difference whether you were from the North or the South, or whether of their opinion or not. It is a very bad precedent to set up, now that we are starting out on a new campaign to make this sport popular, and to make it go well, to have this sort of business dragged into it. I think these men stood high in the minds of the people; they were honourable men, and they acted as far as they could in the interests of racing and in so far as they know best how to do it.
I mention that particular matter, because all of us here know that, in the racing world in the south of Ireland, we depend on the good-will of our neighbours for our export market. It may do some harm if this sort of thing is to be talked about, and, in fact, discussed in our own Parliament. I think it sounds badly and that it does not lead to good-will. We want all the people, whether they come from the north, south, east or west of the globe —much less from a neighbouring country—we want them to take an interest in Irish racing. Without that interest we would be finished.
Another speaker last night made reference here to the various owners who may be considered lucky enough to have racing in this country. I would invite the Minister, any day he cares to come down to the Curragh in Kildare, to see for himself the huge employment given by these people. They spend their money freely, though many of them never or rarely win a race. I have in mind several establishments, where there are at least 70 stable-boys employed and paid at the top rate of wages, according to the union. These men and their families would not be at all grateful if they heard the criticism here of their employers. They would find it difficult to get jobs to the number that would be thrown out of employment, if these people withdrew their support.
People may smile and may think that is foolish, but where would we be if, after the war, we wanted to send over a horse to win a good race in England and if a bar happened to be put up there against us? We would not just think we had done the right thing. For that reason, we should welcome those who support Irish races with their entrance fees and pay wages to stable lads and, in turn, to the trainers.
Then it was stated here that it was not the right thing, perhaps, for these people to be allowed to come down to the small country meetings. I say those people have been misinformed. I know the people in the southern areas and I can speak, particularly, for Tramore without fear of contradiction. They are only dying for the day when the regional meeting ban will be taken off and when their races will be open to all horses. At the moment, they are confined to the southern horses and that was so at the last August meeting. As a result, the entries were very poor and the same horses had to come out for three or four races, just to keep the thing going. If they could do as was done in previous years, if the horses from the Curragh and other places were there, they would have had much better racing and much better entries. We want to make it clear that, so far as these people are concerned, they welcome all who will attract one penny to racing.
In regard to privately-owned racecourses, it could happen under this Bill that the board could take over any racecourse it pleased. I do not think that is quite fair. I have heard it stated that the executives just took the money and did not do very much. Well, let it be granted that that is the case. Nevertheless, these people have given good service and I know, speaking for Tramore, that they would in no way like to be submerged in a Dublin board, which would know nothing of their wants and which would just give them any fixtures it thought fit. The Dublin board would not be capable of pleasing the local opinion. I think it is a great mistake to have this section here, and I would ask the Minister to do something to protect the private racecourse. I know how much the races mean to Tramore, in particular. Racing week there is the week on which the residents depend. The people who are in business there depend upon racing week to get their rates and rent and yearly expenses, and it is very necessary that we should take their interests into consideration. The same thing applies to Listowel and to other small race meetings in the country.
We were told quite a lot about the amenities that we will get under this Bill and how much asleep were the stewards of the Turf Club in not already providing them. Several speakers have asked what exactly do we want. So far as I know, the public have no desire for this Bill; all they want is good sport, good racing and the hope of securing a couple of winners. I think that all those charges that have been hurled against the stewards are not quite justified and I would ask the Minister if he does not think that some of the comments made have been somewhat drastic—comments over their lack of initiative, if you like, and in relation to their sins of omission. I and many others believe that they have given good service. I think that the board is being given powers of too wide a character over the old custodians of racing.
There is one very serious aspect which I quite forgot to mention when I referred to this new board taking over from the stewards. As we all know, the Turf Club in Ireland is affiliated with the Jockey Club in England and, through that organisation, with all other Turf Clubs throughout the world. I take it that the Minister, before he introduced the Bill, ascertained whether this new body will be acceptable to the Turf Clubs throughout the world. If not, then we can just, to put it in common language, throw our hats at it so far as improving the industry, here is concerned, because if we are not recognised we shall have no export market and we would not be allowed to export or run horses in any other country. That is a very serious consideration and we would need to know exactly where we are stepping.
It was pointed out to me that it was a rather extraordinary thing to have all these rosy promises held out to the people and that very often people may be inclined to believe them. We would like to know that we are doing everything according to plan and that we are really not taking any false step in the dark. We have heard a lot about the increases in stake moneys. Already they have been increased somewhat. Then we heard that this will help to reduce the carriage on horses. No doubt that would be splendid for the small owner and the small trainer, and these are the people that I want to help out if I can. These people have been helped through the Turf Board.
The Minister gave us certain figures yesterday. He said there was something like £500,000 collected and, after a deduction of something like £50,000, there was a sum of £21,000 given to racing. We would need to be quite sure what will happen to the taxes that are to be collected. We have had milk and honey promises with regard to what the tax will do. We want to ensure that the people mainly concerned will be benefited in the way we are told they will be. We were promised many things before, when the Tote was established, but things did not work out just as we expected.
I will give the House some figures that may be of interest. Before the setting up of the Tote, racecourse executives paid up to the extent of £5 for the carriage of a horse to or from a race-meeting. You simply got your cheque to the extent of £5. The Tote undertook to do this and it was stated that they would reduce the carriage on horses. I have figures here which I can stand over, covering the charges to and from the Curragh races for two horses, and for the carriage of a horse to the Phoenix Park and Naas. Formerly you were allowed £10, but now, according to the Tote cheque which has been sent to various trainers within the last few months, instead of £10 for two horses the sum of £3 6s. 1d. came back. In the case of the Phoenix Park, where formerly £5 was paid for the carriage of a horse, the cheque came back for £1 4s., and in the case of Naas, where the charge would formerly be £1 10s. 3d., the owner got a remittance for 8/3.
We would need to be very sure that we are not being led away by false promises and that the racing community will not be just done brown by collecting their money and giving little in return. Let us make sure that the money will be used for the purpose indicated rather than for the purpose of paying hordes of officials or equipping offices which are not, perhaps, quite necessary for racing. We want to be certain where the money is going.
We have heard about the setting up of a national stud. Surely it is not the intention of the Government to set up a national stud at the expense of racing? No doubt it is a very laudable thing, but at the same time I do not think it would be quite fair to do it at the expense of racing. I should like to hear some assurance from the Minister in that connection.
We have also heard about the reduction in the admission fee for the general public. The public will not be so foolish as to think that a reduction of 2/6 for entrance into the ring, or even a reduction of 5/-, will be of any use to them when, at the end of the day, they will be forced to meet an unknown quantity in the form of a 5 per cent. tax on any bets they may have made. The public will not stand for that and they are not so asleep as to believe all they are told in that respect.
According to Section 18, the accounts will be audited. I should like to know from the Minister whether these accounts will be made public to Deputies and to the community generally. The people should be quite at liberty to know how the money is being spent.
Many Deputies spent quite a lot of time talking about a very important section of the community, namely, the bookmaker. Many people have said to me that they have no time for bookmakers; they thought they were useless people and that, in fact, racing would go on far better without them. I disagree absolutely with that. To my mind, the bookmakers are a very decent section of the community and a man is quite entitled to choose bookmaking just as he might choose any other career. It ill behoves anybody to brand anyone a thief until he is proved a thief. These are decent, honourable men, many of whom I have the honour to represent.
Under Section 22, a person has to be passed fit by the Government, has to pay a licence fee and then must come before the board where he may be rejected if he is not regarded as a fit person. Who on the board or otherwise can count himself a fit person to decide whether a bookmaker is a proper person to be allowed to enter a racecourse or strike a bet? I regard that as an interference with the rights of the ordinary citizen. There are very few people to judge a bookmaker here or a bookmaker who attends the small southern meetings, and I regard the section as too wide, on the one hand, and too narrow, on the other. The Minister will have to do something to ensure that these men are accorded the rights of the ordinary citizen to which they are quite entitled.
They have contributed enough to racing and, in the last year, when only 90 meetings were held, they contributed £16,000. Many people seem to think they are good enough for any number of thousands of pounds and that this is the first time they have been asked to contribute anything. That is all wrong when we know that they contributed £16,000, and I am quite sure that rather than have this tax imposed they would be quite prepared to make a further contribution in order to save racing and their way of making an honest living. I feel it can be done if the matter is approached in the proper way. I have no doubt the Minister can do it, and that he will be doing good for the industry if he consults them and tries to make a decent settlement on the lines of increasing the present admission fees and leaving the tax out of it.
We know that the bookmaker is a decent man but we do not treat him as such. We provide here that his private house may be searched if he has not got an S.P. office. Many of them have not got S.P. offices and I regard a provision by which a man's private house, which may not contain anything pertaining to betting transactions, may be searched at any time by an official of the board as not being in line with the liberty about which we talk so glibly. There is a flaw there, and I ask the Minister again to consider the viewpoints of the bookmaker and of the general public in regard to this matter. They have as much right to their private documents as anybody else and they ought not to be penalised. We know that they have contributed generously to racing and to charities, and for that reason we do not want to lose their support.
There is at present a starting price tax on the non-supporters of racing, on the people who never contribute anything to racing and who never go to races, and if the Minister is genuinely anxious, as I believe he is, to help the industry, why not take that tax which has been collected and hand it over to the racing executives and let them use the money in the provision of amenities as the board thinks fit? If the Government is genuinely anxious to help racing, that would be a way out of the difficulty and would save the imposition of this new tax on the racing public.
We have been told that the bookmaker is not necessary to the life of Irish racing. I have had some little experience of racing, and everyone of us who has ever been to a race meeting will understand how necessary the bookmaker is, so far as the small owner is concerned. We do not want to see the bookmaker exterminated as he will be exterminated by this Bill. There is, first, a provision for grading bookmakers, and, of 50 who apply, only 25 may get licences, which, in time, can be taken from them and the number reduced to one. If the Minister allows the number to remain even at 25, or whatever it may be, what about the other 25? What about their wives and families? What about the clerks, the runners and all the others attached to a bookmaker's establishment? They will be out of jobs and it is really up to us to see that that does not happen. For that reason, I am opposed to the system of grading, which I think is all wrong.
There is another way of exterminating the bookmaker, in addition to this 5 per cent. tax which will stop him from collecting money because the public will not be there. It is that any sum of money can be charged to a bookmaker for an entrance fee and he can be put on the rails or at the lower end, according to the amount he pays. That operates against the less wealthy bookmaker and forces him out of the ring, because he cannot meet the charges imposed upon him. It would be well if the Minister would give a figure so that bookmakers would have an idea how they stand and would know whether they would be in a position to carry on their business at all. I believe the tax will kill it and I do not think that we need any better proof than the fact that the tax was imposed before and had to be withdrawn, not because it was a success but because it was a failure. The racing public stopped going and no interest was taken in it and eventually the Minister—it was not this Minister who introduced it—I regret to say it came from this side—realised that it meant killing the goose that laid the golden egg, and the tax was withdrawn. So far as collecting this tax is concerned, it simply means turning honest men into thieves. The Minister ought to consider it very carefully, even with a committee of the House, to find out whether there is not something in the theory of those people who have spoken against it, that they are not merely opposing it for the purpose of being against the Government.
With regard to the necessity for the bookmaker, so far as the small owner and trainer are concerned, take the man down in the South of Ireland who has a horse which he keeps for a year or two, and eventually produces on a racecourse. He wants to have £10 or £20 on that horse, and naturally he is entitled to get the best price he can. If the bookmaker is not there, he must go to the Tote with the general public, perhaps with a man who is going to have £10 on the horse who rarely, if ever, attends a meeting, and who has been at no expense and has no worry or trouble in getting the horse up to the mark. The man who was never at a meeting before gets the same return for his money when the horse wins as the man who owns the horse, and who has to pay the piper if the horse does not win.
Therefore, there must be bookmakers so that the small owner can get the best price, so that, in other words, he can reimburse himself for his large expenses of the year. The bookmaker is necessary for the life of racing, for the life of the trainer, and incidentally for the life of the breeder, because we must remember when we talk about racing, that racing is only the shop window of the breeder. If we remember that, we shall be doing a good day's work for racing and breeding.
As a last appeal to the Minister in my effort to get him to withdraw the Bill, I would say that if he does not do this, he should consider taking a ballot of the racing public. Why leave the fate of racing, the fate of the small breeder in the south, and the fate of the racecourse executives in the hands of a few people in Dublin, who perhaps, know very little about them, and who have not the same interest in them as the man who wants to make racing and the breeding industry pay?
Why not take a ballot of steeple-chasing followers at Punchestown and of the flat racing followers at, say, the June meeting at the Curragh? At both places you will get a crowd of people who, at least, have the knowledge that is required. Even if my suggestion should turn out to be a failure, the Minister, if he tries it, can at least say that he consulted the people who keep racing going and from whom the proposed tax is to be collected. If that is not done, then, I am afraid, racing will continue on the downward grade. In my opinion there is no necessity for this interference with racing. As one who has had associations with racing for some years, and my family before me for over 50 years, I would ask the Minister to consider this matter very carefully. I am sure he knows what a big industry racing in Ireland is, and what a big trade there is in the export of horses. I think it would be a great injustice to hand over the industry to people who are not conversant with its various interests. To do so may have the effect of exterminating the small breeder and the small owner in the South of Ireland.
I intervene merely to correct what, I think, seems to be a general misunderstanding in the House as to why this Bill came to be brought before it. Deputy Fogarty referred to a statement that I made some years ago that there was no desire on the part of the Government then to interfere with horse racing. My attitude is the same now as it was then So far as the present Government is concerned, there is no suggestion or intention of interfering with the control of horse racing. Let us see what led to the introduction of this Bill. First of all, the governing bodies of racing got together and held a joint meeting. They were concerned as to what the position, in regard to racing, would be when the war was over. They decided to set up the committee which has been referred to in this debate in various ways. It was referred to in a rather personal way and, in bad taste, I think, by Deputy Fogarty, but that is a matter for himself. The committee was composed of men who had experience of racing and of the horse-breeding industry. I think that one of the witnesses examined before the committee—there were several examined—was a constituent of Deputy Mrs. Redmond's. The statement has been made from various sides of the House, and particularly by Deputy Fogarty, that the bookmakers were not consulted. As a matter of fact, the bookmakers were called before the committee and gave evidence. One member of the bookmaking fraternity advocated as his solution of the difficulty that no more bookmakers' licences should be issued in this country: in other words, that the bookmakers then in existence should be the only people allowed to hold licences, so that in the course of time the bookmakers would go. One might call that a sort of slow death. I think that is what Deputy Fogarty suggested might happen under the Bill. That was the evidence the bookmakers gave before the committee.
There was a meeting of the joint bodies called to hear the committee's report subsequent to that. To some extent at any rate they were not satisfied with the report. A large number of us were not satisfied with regard to the provisions relating to bookmakers. As a result, a sub-committee was set up by the governing bodies under the chairmanship of Mr. B.T. O'Reilly. I happened to be a member of the committee myself. We had various interviews with representatives of the Tote and others. At one stage it did not seem possible that during the emergency we would be able to get legislation through this House. The Minister had, perhaps, more urgent matters on hands at the time, and the bringing forward of legislation did not seem possible then. However, the possibility of doing so showed itself afterwards. The recommendations made by that committee—I think the Minister will bear me out in this—were the real foundations of this Bill, and I want to assure Deputies that no member of that committee wants to abolish the bookmakers.
The 5 per cent will.
I am quite certain that if the Deputy were asked "Will the 5 per cent. abolish them?" he would have to admit that it will not do anything of the kind. The recommendations made by that committee are embodied in this Bill. When the Government are accused of trying to get control of racing, we should remember that it is the governing bodies that have been urging all along to get legislation enacted on the lines of this Bill. They are the people who have the interests of racing at heart, and have responsibility for it here. For a long time they have been urging that steps should be taken on the lines indicated in this Bill. Deputies may say that there is no necessity for legislation. It is true to say that at the present time we have a larger number of really high class horses in the country than we have had, I suppose, for generations, and certainly during any period that I can recollect.
They were in the country before this Bill was introduced.
What the people who are concerned with the horse-breeding industry and racing generally are concerned about is that when the war is over, and our horses are free to run again at meetings in England, you may have those good class horses being sent out of the country to training establishments in England, because the stakes offered at English meetings are more attractive than they are here. I am not going to mention the names of private individuals who are prominently identified with racing in this country, but if any member of the House doubts my statement on that, he can consult those people. He will be told that when they are free to do so, they are going to remove their horses to England because the stakes here are not attractive enough. Deputies should bear in mind that the object of the Bill is to try to maintain the industry in the prosperous condition in which it is at the present time.
In which it has been for the last 20 years.
We were able to send our horses across to England before the war, but that is not the position now. The Deputy knows that at the present time we have a number of people racing here who never raced their horses in Ireland before. One of the main things, as I have said, is to try to make the stakes here more attractive, so that we may be able to keep our best horses until we are in a position to export them for sale. This legislation in an effort to try to improve the horse-breeding industry.
With regard to racecourses and racecourse amenities, none of us is living in the moon, and we know that in many instances those amenities are not by any means creditable, suitable or sufficient. While the governing bodies of racing have certain powers they have not sufficient powers to compel racecourse executives to carry out the alterations and improvements that are necessary. In any event, it may be that those executives are not in the financial position that would enable them to do so. It is necessary that funds should be got together to try to do something in that direction. This is one of the few measures introduced by the Minister for Finance under which he is not collecting any money for Government services. A pooling organisation will be set up under the Bill. All the money collected will go into that pool, and ultimately will go back to the benefit of horse breeding and the improvement of the industry generally.
It would be useful if a pool could be built up in this country to enable stakes to be increased. The stakes are not sufficient at present to enable the ordinary man to carry on racing. People are being driven to back horses who cannot afford to back and that has resulted in many people losing heavily who cannot afford to lose. For instance, in an ordinary race, where the stake is £200, the owner is lucky if he gets £144 out of it. After that he has to pay the jockey and to tip the jockey; perhaps he has to give the trainer a tip, and so on. There is not very much in it for the owner. It is almost impossible for the ordinary man to carry on. No ordinary man can make a living out of it. He must rely on the possibility of getting an attractive price for his horse afterwards.
A good deal has been said about bookmakers. I endorse what Deputy Fogarty has said, that the bookmakers contributed a good deal in the past towards the national movement, certainly financially. I think we all know that a great number of them did. The position, however, is that the Tote contributes 10 per cent., and yet we find the Tote receipts increasing every other day. It may be that there are more people racing; it may be that more people are betting on the Tote, but, at any rate, the receipts are increasing every week and the figures given in the newspapers are sometimes double the figures for the corresponding days in the previous year. The bookmakers in their betting shops pay 7½ per cent. I do not think that that has had any bad effect on betting, so far as I know anything about it. One still sees around betting shops as many people as ever. I know that in Dublin City the bookmakers have not been able to organise themselves in such a way that each bookmaker will charge the tax. I know that one firm of bookmakers advertise that they pay the tax. In regard to the section in the Bill dealing with the levy, the suggestion is made that the bookmakers will pay it. That may be done in certain instances and I think it might have been possible for the Minister to include in that section a clause to the effect that it would be an offence for a bookmaker not to collect the levy from the punter.
There is an alternative to that. The bookmakers, that some Deputies have suggested are being thrown to the wolves, will have a representative on this board and the board will have power to issue or refuse licences. I would strongly suggest to that board that if cases are reported of bookmakers who are not prepared to collect the tax and charge it to the punter, and to carry out the regulation legally and loyally, such bookmakers should not get a licence. The board will have the power to enforce that regulation. There is no use in saying that this is going to kill betting. Betting will not be killed in this country as long as horse racing goes on, as long as bookmakers are there. I agreed that they add glamour to the meetings.
Another matter mentioned during the debate is the conditions and wages of stable lads and apprentices. I know more about apprentices than stable lads. I understand that some stable lads are pretty well paid. We know that apprentices get only pocket money. They go to these stables to learn their trade and perhaps they are not treated as well as they should be, but I am afraid it is not relevant to this Bill. I do not see what can be done with regard to it under this Bill.
All this talk about bookmakers being pole-axed is nonsense. We know that nothing of the kind is going to happen. The bookmakers have the remedy in their own hands, to see that they collect this levy from the punter. It is only a small amount. The ceiling is 5 per cent. but the amount may be much less. It is in their hands to see that it is collected and in that they will have the assistance, I am sure, of their representative on the board and of the board itself.
I should like to support this Bill. I think the success of the Bill depends a good deal on effective propaganda in its favour. There has been a good deal of criticism and a good deal of misinformed objection to certain proposals in the Bill and, with one or two exceptions, the speeches have been destructive rather than constructive. Deputy Ruttledge has put the whole position in a nutshell. He has given the reasons why the Bill has been introduced, and he has given the reasons which governed the members of the Turf Club and of the I.N.H.S.C., when they recommended certain proposals in their report. He said that a sub-committee of the Turf Club which was set up to consider the report disagreed with certain proposals, including the recommendation that no further licences should be issued to bookmakers.
Racing at the moment is at a peak period in this country. That is due to two reasons. The first is that a number of people, particularly people who race, have more money to spend than they had previously. The war has brought increased emoluments and more loose money to a number who hitherto were in comparatively poor circumstances.
I am glad to hear the Deputy admitting that there is prosperity in the country.
These people have benefited from the general increase in monetary circulation. There is no guarantee whatever that that money will be available here when hostilities end. The second reason is that a number of owners who formerly raced outside this country—most of them are not Irish people, although they maintain studs here—cannot race in England now because racing is on a very reduced scale there. Therefore, they have to race here. Whether people like it or not, these two factors have contributed almost entirely to the increased success and to the peak which racing is experiencing at the moment. That money has brought about an increase in the attendances and in betting both on the Tote and with bookmakers; there are better fields, a better class of horses and more competition and, as a result, a number of the stakes have been increased considerably.
What will be the position when the war ends? It is quite likely that a number of owners will race their horses elsewhere because the stakes will be bigger. That is only natural as these people are not in the game as philanthropists. Some are in it because it is their livelihood. Others are in it as a hobby and because they are able to afford it and are willing to spend money on horse racing as other people would spend it on something else. These people will race horses where the stakes are big and where they have a chance of some fairly large financial gain. But this money which is floating around now will dry up and racing will revert to what it was pre-war. People argue that racing was never better than it is at the moment and unjustifiably attack the report which was voluntarily undertaken by a number of members of the Turf Club who, whatever their faults may be, are in racing in order to help it and not to extinguish it. They are in racing not because they are getting something out of it, but because they enjoy racing and believe that it is of assistance to the country.
I deprecate strongly, as did Deputy Ruttledge the rather nasty personal references made to certain members of the Turf Club and I.N.H.S.C. A list of members of the Turf Club was read out yesterday by a Deputy which included a number of people whom he probably would have liked to exclude. Racing is not politics. Whatever people's opinions or actions in politics may be, sport is another matter. Whether the sport be racing, football, hurling, cricket or any other sport, people are interested in it in the same way as other people may be interested in art or anything else. They enter into it for enjoyment or because it is their means of livelihood. This committee made certain proposals, some of which are embodied in this Bill. They produced their report in 1942 and they almost entirely repeated the recommendations of the horse-breeding commission set up by the Government in 1934, which reported in 1935, the chairman of which was Mr. Wylie, K.C. That commission was appointed by the Government. If a commission is set up by the Government, presided over by a distinguished legal person like Mr. Wylie and including a member of the Oireachtas, and it brings in a report almost identical with the report brought in voluntarily by the Turf Club and the I.N.H.S.C., its recommendations should be favourably considered. The Minister in this Bill has adopted some of the recommendations made by that commission and, in doing that, we can assume that the Minister is endeavouring to do justice in this Bill to all the sections concerned. First of all, he has either the advantage or the disadvantage of not being connected with racing, and whatever money will be collected will not be for the benefit of the Exchequer but for the benefit of racing. While it may be a disadvantage that the Minister has not some experience of racing, he at any rate has not the prejudices in the matter which some Deputies have shown signs of.
In order to make racing a success certain things are essential. One is that race meetings must be run properly and efficiently. While the stewards of the Turf Club and the I.N.H.S.C. may not have been as go-ahead as one might like them to have been, they have, at any rate, conducted the sport cleanly and maintained a high standard of efficiency so far as the actual running of the races and the management of trainers and jockeys are concerned. I quite agree that more initiative might have been shown in the way of providing better amenities and making small adjustments which would have been of considerable benefit, such as making the racecourses more easily accessible. The entrances to some of the racecourses are very narrow, and when a large crowd attends, there is a great deal of congestion.
These are very minor matters which should have been attended to by the racecourse executives. In some cases they have shown a lamentable lack of foresight in not improving these things. Having made that criticism, I should like to say that, until recently, a number of these racecourse executives made very little profit, and any profit they did make had to be put back into stakes or other essential outgoings.
This Bill marks a departure in the control of racing in this country but it does not altogether abolish either the Turf Club or the I.N.H.S.C. as some people, who either did not read the Bill or were misinformed by their advisers, seem to think. The Bill provides for the retention of six members of the existing governing bodies. These six members may be all drawn from one governing body or from both but, at any rate, they will be people who are experienced in racing, so that the assertion that people will be placed on the board who have no interest in racing or no knowledge of it is wholly without foundation. Then the Minister can add five other people who have functions connected with the management of racecourses, the ownership or breeding of bloodstock, bookmaking, or other like pursuits. In adding these five members I assume the Minister will consider certain aspects of the situation. He is bound to consider areas in the country which are not as close to Dublin as the Curragh and Naas and other places where large meetings are held. He will also have to consider the small owners, many of whom are breeders and some of whom live in counties adjoining Dublin. They do not all live in the south or the west; they are scattered all over the country. He will also have to consider the bookmakers. I hope that in nominating a representative he will be able to get one who will speak for the bookmakers. I am not so sure that he will; I imagine he will have some difficulty. I certainly hope that he will not select the bookmaker who has had a good deal to say on this Bill.
I would not expect anything else from you.
I never expected anything else from the Deputy. The funds which the board will receive may be used for a number of purposes which will be helpful and conducive to the improvement of racing and everything concerned with racing. I think it is worthy of note that every newspaper and every sports editor who commented on this Bill has been favourably disposed to it. They all consider that, with certain necessary adjustments, the Bill is timely. In fact, if one can imagine post-war racing reverting to what racing was seven or eight or ten years ago, it is essential that it should be enacted.
There are seven sub-sections in Section 15, setting out the different purposes to which the money derived from the fund should be devoted. These include increasing stake money, promoting breeding, assisting small owners, assisting the carrying of horses to and from race meetings, and any other purposes approved by the Minister which will assist the export trade in horses. I move the adjournment of the debate.