The group of amendments, Nos. 1 to 8, deals with the composition of the board.
Racing Board and Racecourses Bill, 1945—Committee.
I move amendment No. 1:—
To delete sub-section (1) and substitute a new sub-section as follows:—
The board shall consist of as many members as are necessary to give adequate representation to each section of racing interests including the public.
I hope the Minister will accept this amendment, and that it is not his intention to interfere with racing in any way. The membership of the board has been fixed at 11. I trust the Minister will change his mind about that. My desire is that all those people who are competent to judge what is for the good of the racing industry should get representation. If necessary, the membership might be increased to 14 or 15. People who attend race meetings, bookmakers, owners and trainers, ought to be represented.
I support the amendment. Under the Bill, six of the 11 members will be governors, in other words, representatives of the Turf Club and of the National Hunt Steeplechase Committee. The nomination of the remaining five is in the hands of the Minister. They may be representative of those who are interested in the industry, such as bookmakers, owners and trainers. I think it would be wise for the Minister to accept the amendment and give representation, say, to a trade union, and to the jockeys and stable-boys. All interests should get fair representation. Even though the intention be that the governors should have a majority on the board, the Minister might accept the amendment and enlarge its membership, still giving the governors a majority.
I do not propose to accept the amendment because I do not see how it would work. Some Deputies did suggest an increase in the membership of the board. If the Dáil felt strongly about that, the suggestion might be considered. In my opinion, if you want to get a reasonable working body, 11 is quite enough to have on the board. If you increase the membership to 12, 15 or 16, or even up to 20, then you will get a body that will argue and not work. I think that a board of 11 members will provide a business like body. If the amendment were accepted there is no limit to the number that might be put on the board. If you were to try to operate the amendment, the board might find itself in the position that every time it met there might be two, three or even ten more representatives to be added to it. I hope Deputy Mrs. Redmond will not get vexed with me for saying that I do not think the amendment is a sensible one. It is not reasonable and would not work.
Is there any provision in the Bill as to the number that must be present to form a quorum of the board?
All that is provided for in the Bill.
Can the Minister tell me what other interests in the racing business will be represented by the five to be nominated by him? The Minister will have to try to get in representatives of bookmakers, owners and trainers with his five nominees.
I will have to make the five as representative as possible.
Is it not reasonable to ask that the composition of the board should be enlarged so as to give representation to all racing interests? If necessary, why not increase representation for the governors to nine and for other interests to eight, thereby making the membership 17?
That is not proposed in this amendment.
Will the Minister consider that?
I do not want to consider anything that will not work. My desire is to get a businesslike body, and I think you will get that with a board of 11. Deputies can imagine how business would be conducted if you had a board consisting of 22, 23 or 24 members, and you would want a board of that size if Deputy Fogarty's suggestion were adopted. Then you would have possibly over 20, and I cannot see a board of that size being a businesslike board of directors, which is what we want to run this racing industry.
Can the Minister satisfy me that in the other five members he will satisfy the entire racing world, outside the Turf Club?
I do not think the human person is known who will satisfy everyone. I would not try to do that.
I think it would be reasonable to extend it even to 17.
I would ask the Minister again to consider it. I do see his point that perhaps the amendment is vague in not stipulating a number. It is not my intention to ask the Minister to extend it to, say, 20 or 22. If he extended it to 15 we would have a better chance of having the various interests in racing represented. I think the Minister would be well advised to consider it. We could settle the number here. Perhaps he could suggest a number himself, but I would ask him to extend it so as to have a sufficient number to give representation to those interested in the industry. I would urge the Minister to do his best to accept the amendment.
There is a point raised in amendment No. 2, that the board's membership should be 14, which might be argued now, because the question on amendment No. 1 will be that the words stand. As a matter of fact, amendment No. 2 cannot be moved if amendment No. 1 is pressed to a division.
Could we take 2, 3 and 6 together?
You can argue on 2, 3 and 6 No. 3 being the main one. Is amendment No. 1 withdrawn or is the Deputy pressing it?
I think the Minister should agree. I would suggest that the number be 17.
There is no number at all in amendment No. 1, and I want to get it disposed of.
If the Minister agrees, it can be done.
The Minister is not agreeing to amendment No. 1.
I move amendment No. 2, in the name of Deputy D. Morrissey:
In sub-section (1), line 36, to delete the word "eleven" and substitute the word "fourteen".
I want to deal with amendments Nos. 2, 3 and 6, together.
We will take amendment No. 2 as moved and discuss the three of them together.
I want to direct the Minister's attention to the principle of providing a democratic way of selecting the board. Many people have expressed concern that this is an autocratic method. The Minister will select certain individuals. There are certain definite interests concerned, and it is suggested that the Minister should empower those people either to put up a panel from which he would select, or to elect a number to the board. I do not know whether or not the Minister has gone into that matter.
We went into the panel business very fully.
I agree with the Minister that it would be unwieldy if you were to have a number greater than 11. I think 11 or 12 would be sufficient to do the work. If you want the work done efficiently, you must avoid too much discussion and delay. A small board would be more efficient than a big, cumbersome, unwieldy one. It is on the principle that I move the amendment. The Minister might inform the House as to why he has not put into the Bill a democratic method of election, a method empowering the governing bodies either to put up a panel or to elect a definite number.
In connection with any business body that I have been acquainted with in piloting legislation through the House, the boards have been nominated in this way. In that connection I have always put it to the House, and I think it has been invariably agreed, that this system should be adopted. There is one exception that I have in mind, the board of the Central Bank. In that case, for one class of representatives, we had a panel system, and looking back on it I think there is something derogatory about the panel system. It imposes on the Minister an invidious choice. If there is a panel of five or six, and if he has to select one or two, he is, perhaps, held to be reflecting on the other people on the panel.
I had this proposition of a panel in connection with this board fully considered and I have discussed it with a number of people who know this matter of racing better than I do. Opinions swayed, and eventually it was decided that this was the better method. They trust the Minister. I have already told the House that I am not an authority on this subject, that I would have to be advised and will look for advice where I can get it from people who know this business of racing, and try to get an efficient board, a board that will be businesslike and representative. There will be some clash of opinion as to whether the board will be representative if you have only 13 on it. I do not think the people who would be dissatisfied with 13 would be satisfied with 15 or 17. There would be still somebody claiming that their particular section of the industry was not represented. I think this is not what one would call a democratic way of electing the board but, at any rate, those who nominate them—the Dáil and the Oireachtas— are elected democratically and are giving authority in a democratic way to our spokesman, so to speak, to select this board. If the House is not satisfied with the board, then they can be vocal as often as they wish in regard to it when suitable occasions arise.
The beneficial effect of this board depends altogether on the personnel. I think the Minister agrees with that.
I appreciate that fully. I appreciate the responsibility that will be one me to select such a board.
I think the board can do a lot of very useful work if it is comprised of the right people, people who are honestly and sincerely interested in their work. I think it is possible to get a board of that type. The Minister has professed ignorance of racing. We all appreciate that he does not know anything about it. At the same time, he has not told us where he is going to get information about the personnel he will select. If he is going to select a number of individuals from the governing bodies, it may be argued that those who would be in a position to pick the best material would be the bodies themselves. I do not want to press the point too far. There is possibly something to be said for the other point of view, but representations have been made to our Party from a number of people that it is objectionable, and we have often argued in this House that this system of constituting a board is objectionable.
Deputy Hughes forgets that six members of the board will be members of the Turf Club or of the National Hunt Steeplechase Committee. Surely he is satisfied that these members know enough about racing. I am not concerned about these six members. I am interested in the other five. The other five members whom it is left to the Minister to nominate will represent the racing public, the small owner, the bookmaker and the other racing interests. Deputy Hughes must not have read the Bill, if he does not know that the members of the Turf Club and the N.H.S.C. will get a majority on the board right away. They are all racing men, so that he need not have any worries about that. My anxiety is that the other interests should be represented there. I think a board of 11 is too small. If the Minister extended it to 17, it would give far more representation to the racing public, the bookmakers, the small owners and the small trainers, who are not members of the Turf Club or of the N.H.S.C.
I am satisfied that a committee of 11 is big enough. I am also satisfied that the majority of the board will consist of members of the Turf Club and the N.H.S.C. There is only one point I should like to make. The Minister said that he got information as well as he could from those around Dublin who could give him advice. I know the Minister did get all the advice he could. I am, however, primarily interested in the people in the provinces. I do not want any more than the Minister's assurance that, so far as he is able—and I expect he has a good deal of power under the Bill— he will see that some representative of racegoers and owners in the southern and western provinces will be included on the board. As I said on the Second Reading, I think the Bill is quite a good Bill in many ways, but I foresee that there might be a tendency for the benefits to be conferred by the Bill to go to the metropolitan racecourses as against the small racecourses down the country. I, therefore, want an assurance from the Minister that the south and west will be represented on the board.
I hope that the dominating interest on the board will not be the metropolitan interest; that the other parts of the country and those interested in racing down there will be able to find representation.
The Minister will make representation to that effect so far as he can?
I shall have to nominate the persons and I will take every precaution. I can to see, within the limits of the number allowed to me, that there is as wide a representation as possible of the various interests.
The Deputy is very innocent if he does not know that the information given to the Minister came from a southerner, Lord Adare. He was the chairman of the Racing Commission.
The Minister is not accepting the amendment?
No, I do not propose to accept amendments Nos. 2, 3, or 6.
I move amendment No. 4:—
In sub-section (2), line 40, after the word "including" to insert the following words "practical experience in".
It has been pointed out to me by members of racecourse executives that the phraseology of the section as it stands is rather vague and that it might mean that a person connected with an executive or management of a racecourse who would not necessarily have practical experience might be appointed. In order to meet that situation, I have put down this amendment which does not alter the Minister's power but will ensure that only those who have practical experience of the management and running of racecourses will be nominated. Some of these racecourse executives were afraid that people who have long experience might be passed over in favour, say, of a person who, while connected with the management, would not have actual practical experience. For that reason I move the amendment.
It certainly would not be my idea to get on the board as representing the executives a person whom I might describe as a sleeping partner or a person who had an interest as a shareholder in the profits but who had not any experience of running a racecourse. I should like to get practical, experienced people, and I am sure that will be possible. I assure the Deputy and the House that my mind is running in the same direction and, if I am satisfied that it is necessary, I will put in the amendment.
In order to allay the fears of these executives it would be no harm if the Minister accepted it.
Very good, I will accept it.
I move amendment No. 5:—
At the end of sub-section (2) to add the following words:—"and the Minister shall in particular ensure that the interests of small breeders and owners are represented on the board."
A great many people have expressed concern to me that this board may operate to the advantage of the bigger owners and breeders and the bigger racecourses and to the detriment of the others. Appreciating the fact that the industry is comprised to a very great extent of the small owners and breeders, we want to ensure that they are adequately represented on the board. I merely move this amendment to ensure that the Minister will give adequate representation to the small owners and breeders.
I do not like to accept any of these amendments that would restrict me to giving special representation to special interests. A number of representations have been made to me with regard to various interests connected with racing, such as the small breeders, etc. I hope to get the small breeders represented, but then someone will raise the question with reference to a person appointed: is he a small breeder or a large breeder? There will be differences of opinion. I understand that all who are recognised as breeders, small and large, are members of the Bloodstock Breeders' Association.
A good many are.
So far as my information goes, at any rate, there are not many of them who are not members of the Bloodstock Breeders' Association, and that it is a democratically run body. I am prepared to hear anything any of these bodies have to say when this Bill goes through, as I presume it will go through. I will certainly try to secure that the interests of the bloodstock breeders are looked after, but I do not want to be tied down by conditions of this kind being put in the Bill, because I might find myself tied hand and foot, and I do not think that would be helpful. The interest that Deputies Hughes and Bennett and Deputy Redmond have at heart is, I think, the interest of the smaller breeders, and I have those at heart, too. I do not think I need say anything more than that.
Would the Minister be prepared to say that, in making these appointments, he will ensure that the interests of the small breeders and owners will be represented on the board which he proposes to constitute, without being tied legislatively to doing that?
I will take every reasonable precaution to see that that is done, as far as the limited number is concerned. There are only 11 altogether and there may be amongst the six who are representing the two bodies that have had control of racing so far some who are small breeders or owners. There may be some representation to be found amongst the five the Minister has the liberty to nominate. I will do my best to see that the small owners and breeders are represented without, as Deputy Norton says, being tied.
I do not want to tie the Minister at all. I raise this because of the views expressed outside by the people who are anxious about their future. They feel that the big man has advantages over the smaller man and that possibly a board may be constituted which will give him greater advantages still. They point out, in connection with the Emergency Control Board set up to deal with racing during the emergency, that there were races confined to the South of Ireland prior to that board coming into existence. Those races were confined to horses the bona fide property of owners residing in the South of Ireland, but the emergency board widened that to horses trained in the South of Ireland. It is suggested that horses were sent down from the Curragh and the metropolitan area for training, in order to qualify and capture races down there which, in the ordinary way, would have fallen to some southern horses. They feel that that sort of thing may be carried into the Racing Board, to their detriment.
We are very anxious to secure that the big breeder as well as the small breeder will be preserved to the industry. Both are essential. It may fall to the lot of the big breeder and owner to establish and continue the name of the Irish racehorse abroad. We cannot do without the big man, but we must also look after the small man's interest. I put down the amendment in order to satisfy these people that their interests will definitely be represented on the board.
I do not think we should start accepting amendments of this kind with regard to various interests in order to provide specially for the small breeders and the large breeders. They are both necessary to the welfare of the industry, as Deputy Hughes has very properly stated. If we start selecting people for representation in that way, it will be an argument for increasing the number of members of the board. I think it is generally accepted that 11 is a business-like number. I know that Deputy Redmond and Deputy Fogarty do not accept that, but I think it is a business-like number and my difficulty is to try, as far as is humanly possible, to have all these interests, large and small, represented, while keeping the number to 11. I may not succeed but I will do my best.
The Minister undertakes to give particular attention to the small breeder?
I will certainly examine that most sympathetically.
I move amendment No. 7:—
In sub-section (2), line 45, to delete the words "The Minister" and substitute the words "The board elected by public ballot".
I put this amendment down in the hope the Minister might accept it. I believe it is the general wish of the people interested in racing that they should have a say in the nomination of the members on this board. I quite understand that the present Minister is sympathetic and is most anxious to help racing in every possible way. He is a most reasonable man, but he must think, as people outside are thinking, of somebody who may follow him and who may not be so reasonable. For that reason, I put down this amendment, proposing to give the racing public a chance to elect their own men on the board which controls their money. I suggest that it be done through a ballot, to be held at some of the principal racing meetings. For instance, at Punchestown, for the steeplechase people, it could easily be done.
Then, at the Curragh meeting in June, it could be done for the flat races. An extra sheet of paper could be attached to the card, in the same way as a free forecast. The people who are interested sufficiently will have nothing to do but think of what they are about and put down those whom they have in mind. They will be selecting people who have a definite and practical knowledge of racing. I hope the Minister will consider it.
Will personation be allowed?
I thank Deputy Redmond for her tribute to my reasonableness, but I am afraid that she will consider me most unreasonable, as this is the second amendment of hers I certainly cannot accept. I am afraid I cannot describe it as anything but an unreasonable amendment, with all respects to the Deputy. I would not like to give the Deputy the job of being the returning officer at that meeting. Would election addresses or speeches be allowed? On consideration, I think the Deputy will agree it is not an amendment I could accept.
I move amendment No. 8:—
Before sub-section (6) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
(6) A person appointed to be a member of the board, under subsections (2), (3) or (5) of this section, as being in the opinion of the Minister representative of or connected with bookmaking, shall be so appointed by the Minister from a list of persons submitted to him by a joint committee of all bodies or associations representing licensed bookmakers.
I hope the Minister will accept this amendment. Here is a case where you have a class, group or association in the industry, in order to have representation on this board. All I ask is that the person to be appointed by the Minister shall be so appointed from a list of persons submitted to the Minister by a joint committee of all bodies or associations representing licensed bookmakers. In connection with a previous amendment, the Minister pointed out that he did not like the idea of selecting one from a number, as it implied rejection of the others. I would be prepared to withdraw this amendment, if the Minister would agree to introduce one himself on the next Stage, stating that he would accept the nominee of the association, if he does not want to reject others.
I thought it best there should be a list sent to him, and that he should have the right to veto all, or at least take one. The bookmakers are in a different position. They may think it wise to have a nominee as between the two big bookmakers' associations to represent both, as there are two big classes affected by the Bill—the bookmaker who goes to races only and makes a book there and has no office, and the others who have offices and also go to race meetings. They are affected differently by this Bill. They themselves would be better able to select the persons who would be agreeable to both sides.
I do not think there is a big principle involved. The bookmakers themselves would feel more secure and more pleased if they could select a representative from a list of even twenty nominees. If the Minister is left to select the representative of the bookmakers, there will be constant friction and criticism of the bookmaker he may pick. I do not know who his advisers are on the whole Bill, but I am prepared to venture the guess that his Department will probably be the channel through which the advice will come. In the profession, they think they themselves should be the people who should select a number of names. I do not think anybody would like to be the person who would select a particular bookmaker to represent the lot.
The Minister may say he is prepared to select whoever they may elect as their chairman from time to time. However, I would beg him to consider the amendment submitted now in my name and in that of Deputy Breen. In view of the particular class of business and the interests involved, we suggest that the bookmakers' associations be permitted to select and submit a list of names—the Minister can specify the number—from which we would select one to represent the profession.
I must say that I think this amendment is very unwise. That is my opinion from my knowledge of bookmakers. Five members are to be nominated on this board, and the Minister has not disclosed from what section the five members will come. He has not given us any indication in that respect, but I think it would be safe to say that only one will be a bookmaker.
Only one can be.
You have the Ring Bookmakers' Association, the Irish Turf Council and the outsiders. None of them, from my knowledge, is too anxious to be on this board, because the members of the board will be more or less a cock-shot for all complaints as regards bookmakers. The only person who should be appointed is some bookmaker who might be independent. As regards asking both associations to agree on a certain nominee, I think you will only create strife, and for that reason I say, with all due responsibility, knowing the bookmakers and speaking as chairman of the ring bookmakers, that it should be left to the Minister to nominate the person who will represent the interests of the bookmakers generally. There are inside and outside bookmakers. There need be no doubt that the Minister will get sufficient information to enable him to make up his mind as to the person he should appoint, a person who will look after the interests of the bookmakers. I do not know whether the bookmakers' interests have been consulted about this amendment, but it is an amendment that I would not consider wise.
The Deputy is speaking only for himself. Do not say you are speaking for the association, Deputy.
I am chairman of the ring bookmakers and they have not conveyed to me any idea that they would like to have an opportunity of nominating a representative. I made a suggestion to members of the committee that they should do it, but they did not seem to look at it favourably.
Is that the view of the ring association?
The ring bookmakers' association. There are the ring bookmakers and the outside bookmakers.
You are expressing their views?
I would not say expressing their views, but I think none of them would be too anxious to accept. If the Minister asked half a dozen of them, I would say the half a dozen would refuse. That is my own opinion. I do not know if there are members who would be prepared to occupy the unenviable position of fighting for the bookmakers against the governors that you will put on the board. The Minister and the House should realise that.
Will they not let you as chairman speak for them?
I am speaking only for myself.
I have a document here signed by the representatives of all the bookmakers' associations, and it reads:—
"At a meeting of the Emergency Committee of the Irish Bookmakers' Association and the Irish Turf Accountants' Protection Association, on the 14th March, 1945, it was unanimously decided to request permission from the Minister to nominate our representative on the racecourse board, for the approval of the Minister. The above associations are the representative bodies of Irish racecourse bookmakers."
It is signed by a number of persons and, if the Deputy wants their names, I shall read them out. His own association was represented at that meeting.
Was he not there?
I take it that Deputy Fogarty is just giving his own views.
I am expressing my own opinion when I say I think it would be bad for the bookmakers themselves. I discussed the matter with them. I am not able to attend all the meetings. My own opinion, so far as the bookmakers' interests are concerned, is that it would be bad to have a wrangle amongst them as to what person should be appointed as representative on the board. I think that should be left to the Minister's discretion. He will find out through his own channels who is the best person to be put there to look after the interests of the bookmakers. I think this is a very bad amendment, because you will get outside and inside bookmakers to select one representative on the board and that will cause trouble. If some bookmaker is refused a course permit and another bookmaker secures one, they will all jump on this fellow who will be appointed.
I can see the Deputy is not anxious to go on the board.
You can bet your life I am not.
I think Deputy Briscoe's amendment is very reasonable. Those who are acquainted with bookmakers know that they are a very colourful and variegated fraternity. It takes all kinds of people to make up the bookmaker class. I think Deputy Briscoe displayed very considerable powers of comprehension in his very sagacious approach to this method of selecting the bookmakers' representative. I believe you would be more likely to get disagreement among bookmakers as to the suitability of a person to represent them than you would among any other class of the community. Deputy Briscoe suggests putting them all into the ring and letting them have one of those fracas that Deputy Fogarty apparently contemplates, and finally one fellow will come out with the flag in his hand. Deputy Briscoe suggests that that man should be appointed by the Minister, or the Minister might make a selection in another way.
Deputy Fogarty, with his close, practical knowledge of the business, says it would be a rather hazardous occupation for the person who would be selected, and he is afraid the individual bookmaker will not approach this job with anything but trepidation as to his ultimate fate. I do not think that Deputy Fogarty's fears in that respect are a reason for denying bookmakers, as a class, a voice in the selection of their representative. If the bookmaking fraternity could be induced to approach the selection of a representative with due prudence and caution and with a determination not to inflict physical injury on one another, I believe agreement could be secured as to the person who would represent the bookmakers on the board.
There is no doubt they ought to have representation on the board. They are closely associated with racing. They fulfil a very useful part in respect of racing, where they conform to a reasonable standard of commercial conduct and financial honesty, and I would like to make sure that they get representation on the board. Deputy Fogarty contemplates a position in which the Minister will make a selection. There are people who might not consider that a fair method. This Minister, or some other Minister, may have some particular brand of bookmaker who may not easily be turned down and some pressure may be brought to bear upon him to appoint a particular man.
I suggest the Minister ought to accept Deputy Briscoe's amendment. It may be that some of the proceedings at the selection of the bookmakers' representative would not be the most cordial, if we are to accept Deputy Fogarty's version of the standard of conduct in selecting a representative. Frankly, I have a much higher opinion of bookmakers than Deputy Fogarty appears to have. I think they can be relied on quietly and calmly to select a representative of their interests on the board, and the Minister ought to consent to give the bookmakers, who are apprehensive as to the provisions of the Bill and their ultimate effect on them, the right to select a representative on the board. Deputy Fogarty thinks that man may stand in fear of molestation. I do not think so at all. History tells us that there was once a David and a Goliath, and this bookmakers' representative might be more than a match for all the others on the board. I am sure that bookmakers could produce some worthy gladiator who would go to the meetings of the board determined to do justice to bookmakers and make sure that these folk on the board, many of whom Deputy Fogarty dislikes as a class, would be compelled to respect the rights of bookmakers.
I must protest against Deputy Norton's suggestion. I said that it would not be in the interests of bookmakers. I never said there would be any fight or argument. I think Deputy Norton is exaggerating, because he wants to put me in the position of having said that bookmakers cannot conduct themselves. What I said was that it would be in the best interests of the bookmakers that their representative on the board should be selected by the Minister and not by the bookmakers but, in view of what Deputy Briscoe has said, that they are prepared to meet and to elect a representative, I withdraw.
There is no amendment in the Deputy's name. What is he withdrawing?
I withdraw my statement, but I do not want Deputy Norton to get away with the wild statements he made that I thought bookmakers would be like a lot of gladiators.
I do not propose to accept the amendment. I think I have already told the House, when representations were made here and amendments put down seeking to tie me to a certain method of selection, that I preferred not to be tied. I discussed and thought over the panel system before the Bill was finally drafted. When it was in its embryo stage, there was the idea amongst some sections of a panel for various interests, but after thinking over it and having doubts of one kind or another about the system, I decided—I do not know whether I can use the phrase "in my wisdom"—that probably the best system would be to put on the Minister the responsibility of seeing that, within the limits of the numbers allowed, he would get a good representative board, and to make him bear that responsibility and any criticism that might follow the nominations made.
I am quite prepared to hear any representations or to receive any documentary representations which any organised body connected with racing wishes to make to me before the nominations are made. Naturally, I include bookmakers in that. I am prepared to hear any body of representative people with proper spokesmen who have anything to say to me as to the people they think would best suit their interests, and I will consider sympathetically anything they say or write to me in that regard. I shall do my best to get a representative person, within the limits of the number, for each of the sections which seeks representation and that should naturally find representation on that board, but, after due consideration, I have not adopted the panel system and I do not propose to adopt it for bookmakers when I have refused to adopt it in all other cases.
The Minister, of course, is aware that there are over 500 licensed bookmakers in the country. He has gone a certain distance by assuring the House that, before making his selection, he will have regard to representations made by the interests concerned. Would he be prepared to go so far as this—his opposition to the amendment is based more on his objection to the panel system than to the amendment itself—that, in whatever selection he makes, not only will he have regard to representations made to him, but he will ensure that the representative selected will be a member of either of the recognised bookmakers' associations, because there are bookmakers who are not members of these associations, and it would be quite unfair inadvertently to select such a person to represent all bookmakers? If he can go so far, the bookmakers as a whole can take the opportunity between now and the nominating period to make representations as to a number of persons or any particular person whom they would be glad to see selected. If he agrees to do that I am prepared to withdraw the amendment.
I am all in favour of listening to the views of properly-organised bodies, whether trade unions, professional associations, or any other kind of organised body representative of any profession, industry or class, and I certainly would pay very considerable attention to the views of the properly elected spokesmen of these organisations in this matter as in other matters.
And if the organisations concerned put forward certain persons whom they think suitable, he will consider them?
I understand that there are at least three organisations of bookmakers.
There are only two that I know of—the Irish Turf Accountants' Protection Association and the Irish Bookmakers' Association.
The Irish Turf Accountants' Protection Association, the Irish Bookmakers' Association, and the Starting Price Bookmakers' Protection Association.
They are not affected by the Bill.
There are three associations of bookmakers. I did not know whether the members of the third association were on the course or off the course. All I know is that there are three associations of bookmakers.
I will have to give the Minister a few tips.
What kind of tips, Deputy?
With regard to the person nominated by the Minister being a member of a recognised association affected, would the Minister be prepared to agree? If he says he would, I shall be quite satisfied with his promise. He need not put it in the Bill.
I have already stated that I favour hearing the properly selected spokesmen of organisations, and I will pay all due respect and attention to what they have to say to me. I would not think that the lone wolf, who will not associate with his fellows in his own profession or industry or trade union, would be the proper spokesman to represent that profession, industry or trade union.
Or a member of an association not affected by the Bill, like the Starting Price Bookmakers' Association?
I want people who know something about racecourses.
I move amendment No. 9:—
In sub-section (4), lines 39 and 40, to delete in each case the word "three" and substitute the word "five".
I believe this is a reasonable amendment. We have heard references to unreasonableness, but I hope this amendment will commend itself by its reasonableness to the Minister. It is laid down that for the first meeting of the board the quorum shall be seven, and for subsequent meetings the quorum need be only three. The sub-section says:
"...such number (not less than three) as the board may from time to time fix or, if no quorum is for the time being so fixed, three".
When we think of the large sums of money that this board will have at its disposal, and of the very many other important matters concerning racing that will come before it, I really think that we should insist on five members forming a quorum, and not three as proposed in the Bill. This board will have very important functions to discharge, and at least five should form a quorum.
I desire to support the amendment. Apart from what Deputy Mrs. Redmond has stated, we must remember that the majority on this board will represent a certain interest, so that any three of them could meet and decide anything they wished. For that reason you might as well have no board at all. I would be better pleased if Deputy Mrs. Redmond had proposed that seven instead of five should form a quorum.
I also support the amendment. Surely, it cannot be said that three members out of a board of 11 represent anything. This board is being given very important and serious work to do. Under the Bill any three of them could form a board meeting and carry out some petty idea of their own. This board will be dealing with thousands of pounds. Therefore, I suggest that a quorum of three is ridiculous.
Is not the board being given power to fix a quorum for its meetings?
The figure in the Bill is the minimum for a quorum.
I would be in favour of ensuring that you would always have a proper attendance at the board meetings. The personnel of the board may be drawn from all over the country. At many of the meetings it may be that there will be only routine business to be transacted. Therefore, it might be difficult to get a quorum of five or six. I am quite sure that every member of the board will take his work seriously and will certainly attend when important business is to be done. But if there is only routine business to be transacted—the passing of ordinary payments not involving large sums —it would be unreasonable to insist on a quorum of five or six. This provision in the Bill should be left somewhat elastic so that the board may decide for itself as to what the quorum should be.
The board will have discretion to fix the quorum for its meetings. I cannot imagine it fixing the quorum as low as three. I do not think that the members of this board will take such a small view of their responsibilities as to fix a quorum of three. Therefore, I think the amendment is reasonable.
Deputy Hughes does not seem to grasp the importance of this board at all.
Deputy Briscoe does.
The board will have very large sums of money to deal with, and their job is going to be a very responsible one. Deputy Hughes talked about the board passing a few accounts. In fact, they could delegate power to officials to make monthly payments. What Deputy Mrs. Redmond is trying to ensure is that at no time can a small minority of this board agree that certain things be put over on the other interests concerned by three members holding a meeting. We in this House know what snap divisions are. We know that on a Friday morning a small number of Deputies who want to put something over can call for a snap division five minutes after the House meets.
As I have said, this board will have very important operations to carry out, and I think that not only should the Minister accept the amendment, but should consider whether he would not insist on a quorum of six or seven. Who knows where the board is going to hold its meetings? The board is not prevented from calling a special meeting at any place it likes. It may fix centres throughout the country for them where race meetings are being held, so that it would be difficult for some members to attend. The Minister should take strong precautions to ensure that this board is going to understand its responsibilities. A quorum of five or six for the meetings will help in that direction.
I support the amendment. The board will have to deal with very important matters, and surely there should be at least five members present at the meetings. It would be ridiculous if three could form a quorum.
I do not want to be misrepresented.
The Deputy said that he was against it.
I am in possession now. I said that meetings of the board may be held at which only routine business such as the passing of monthly payments is to be transacted. I also said that if the personnel of the board is drawn from all parts of the country it may be difficult to get a quorum. There is no provision in the Bill for the appointment of a sub-committee. Deputy Briscoe talked about the board delegating power to officials. I am not sure that they could do that. I do not think it would be reasonable to fix the quorum at five or six for every meeting. It is true, of course, that when important matters are to come before the board, and when large financial commitments are to be entered into, that the board should insist on a good attendance. My point was that that would not be the situation at every board meeting. A small quorum should be sufficient for ordinary routine business.
But this board will be always dealing with large sums of money. At a race meeting they may have a turnover of £20,000 or £30,000. At that meeting they will have to take off the 10 per cent. from the Tote and the levy from the bookmakers. Therefore; I say that a quorum of three would be ridiculous.
There is one other point that I would like to refer to, though it is not likely to arise in the case of a board composed as this one is likely to be. With the exception of the annual and one or two other meetings, a meeting of the board may be called at any time. The Bill does not say who is going to call the meeting. It might be possible that the secretary or some member of the board would call a hole-in-the-corner meeting, composed of three members, and come to some very serious decision. I have said that that is not likely to occur, but my point is that there is nothing to prevent it under the Bill. Certainly, under the Bill, it is not inconceivable that it might happen. I think the Minister might accept Deputy Mrs. Redmond's amendment.
I hope the Minister will accept the amendment because, as has been stated, the section as it stands leaves it open to three to slip something across, if I may say so. As Deputy Bennett said, it will be possible to have a hole-and-corner meeting. In any case, it could happen that, through accident, one or another might not be able to attend. It should not be allowed to fall down to three. Something very important might arise on that particular day. In view of the importance of the racing industry, and as this Bill is intended to foster that industry, I would urge the Minister again to consider the matter and to accept the amendment.
It is not a matter vital to the Bill in any sense.
I should like to know the feeling of the House on the matter. I would call attention to the fact that all we have specified here is that it shall not be less than three. That is all we are legislating for. The board could make it five. The board have authority to do that. The majority have power to make it five. The majority of those on the Opposition Benches who have spoken seem to be in favour of five and those who have spoken on this side of the House seem to be in favour of five.
I am in favour of five but it might not be wise to tie the board down.
It is very wise.
It might be against the interests of the small breeder to stipulate five but if the House wants five, I agree.
Has the Minister any particular reason for fixing three?
I put in here a minimum. There must be some quorum fixed. I wanted to leave it to the board themselves and it occurred to me that it might be to the advantage, particularly of those representing the small breeders or the people far away, that it should be left at three. However, the view of the House seems to be against it, so I accept five.
I move amendment No. 10:—
At the end of the section to add a new sub-section as follows:—
(4) A statement showing the remuneration and duties of each officer appointed under this section shall be laid on the Table of each House of the Oireachtas.
I think this amendment is a reasonable one. It simply asks that the Oireachtas and the people of the country, who are subscribing the money under this Bill, will know exactly what the expenses of the officers of the board will amount to and exactly how the money is being spent so far as the officials are concerned. I think the amendment is reasonable and I am quite sure the Minister will accept it.
I do not propose to accept this amendment which, I suggest, asks for a detailed account of the duties, responsibilities and remuneration of the officers of the board. I do not think that is usual. It is often insisted upon in the House, in relation to business boards and other boards, that the full accounts must be laid on the Table. That is a common form. Included in that is a full account of their receipts, expenditure and a detailed report. I hope we will get that from the board, but, as to putting down the names of officers, their duties, responsibilities and remuneration, I do not think we ought to put that in the legislation, anyhow.
Can the Minister make it plain that the members of the board will get no remuneration?
They are not to be remunerated—the Bill provides that— but they are to be paid their out-of-pocket expenses.
But they get no remuneration?
No. Is the Deputy anxious that they should get remuneration?
No, I am anxious that they should not get remuneration.
Would the Minister have any power of veto on salaries paid which in his opinion are too high for certain jobs?
I would leave that to the board.
Is not the amendment met in the Ministerial amendment No. 18?
I do not think my amendment exactly meets this amendment, because I take it that Deputy Mrs. Redmond wants a report stating the names of the officers, their responsibilities and remuneration. I do not propose to ask for that.
Is it not a fact that, in regard to every official of State, the House can be made aware of his remuneration, and the House can criticise the remuneration whether it is an official of State or an official of some semi-Government body? We have some indication of the salary and we have some control. Surely the wages and salaries paid to officials of this body, in view of the circumstances in which the board is set up are not to be kept a secret from the public?
There will be an indication of the money spent on all classes of expenditure.
Will the House have power to ask for information in regard to the salary paid to individual servants?
I do not propose to ask for that.
Will not the accounts be presented in detail?
It will not show the names of officers and their duties.
Surely it will show the salaries paid, without naming the officials?
The aggregate figures—salaries and all other expenses —the same as we get from, say, the Electricity Supply Board. It will not show the names of officers and their duties. I take it that is what is asked for in the amendment.
A statement showing the name and duties of each of the staff—I do not propose to ask for that.
We do not mean that either.
That is not what I meant. I meant, as Deputy Briscoe has said, that the amount of money this board is costing should be made public.
That will be shown.
That is my intention.
That will be shown. The amount the board is costing and the amount it will spend on salaries and wages will be shown.
I move amendment No. 11:—
In sub-section (1), line 35, to insert before the word "grants" the word "payments".
Some doubt was expressed to me as to whether it would be possible under this section for the board to make payments directly for such purposes as advertising Irish blood stock abroad. I do not think there was any doubt that the board could do that under this section but, in case the board might have any fear, or the House might have any fear that this could not be done, I want to include the word "payments" as distinct from grants or loans and, if necessary, to give an indication to the board that we want that considered by them also.
Should not the amendment read "payments and"?
A comma will do there—"payments, grants or loans".
I move amendment No. 12:—
In sub-section (1) (c) (vi), line 47, and in sub-section (1) (c) (vii), line 49 to delete the words "approved by the Minister".
I put down this amendment to delete the words "approved by the Minister" in paragraphs (vi) and (vii), and I have another amendment to add another paragraph:
"Any other purpose or purposes approved by the Minister conducive to improving the prestige and/or value of Irish bloodstock at home or abroad".
I think the Minister does not desire to interfere, nor do I desire that he should, with all the activities of the board. While it may be essential in certain respects, particularly with regard to advertising abroad, I do not think he should have the power to interfere with the board with reference to "any purpose conducive to the improvement of horse racing" or "the improvement of the breeding of horses or the development of the export trade in horses". I think these matters should be left to the discretion of the board without the necessity of Ministerial approval.
I do not propose to accept this amendment because I would be most anxious to see that any schemes which may be put up and are not provided for here will be such schemes as might be approved of by the Minister for Agriculture. I think, therefore, that it would be necessary to have these words left in. At an early date, I hope, we will have the Bill introduced dealing with the Tully stud farm. I hope that stud farm will be run on a satisfactory scale and that it will have a considerable influence on our breeding stock. I should like whatever work will be done by the Racing Board and the directors of the Tully stud to go hand in hand. I think it would be necessary in order to co-ordinate their activities that these schemes should be submitted to the two Ministers.
I move amendment No. 13:—
In sub-section (1), before paragraph (c) (vii) to insert the following new sub-paragraph:—
The advertisement and sale of bloodstock abroad and the provision of sales organisation necessary thereto.
I put down this amendment in the interests of the small breeders. I was wondering whether the small breeder got the full value of his animal at all times. Bearing in mind that agents sometimes come to this country to buy horses and dispose of them abroad and the methods which we have of selling bloodstock here, I was wondering whether this board could improve on our methods by advertising and by providing subsidies as well as by having a sales organisation which might be helpful in the disposal of animals abroad. However, I must say that very strong representations have been made to me in the matter since not to press this amendment.
My previous amendment meets the Deputy to a certain extent.
I move amendment No. 14:—
In sub-section (1) (c) to delete sub-paragraph (vii)
I put it down so that the Minister would not carry out what is proposed in the Bill, namely, that the board may apply its funds for "any purposes, approved by the Minister, conducive to the improvement of the breeding of horses or to the development of the export trade in horses." My idea is that the question of breeding can really be better dealt with when the Bill dealing with the National Stud comes up. I want to delete this paragraph because this Bill is really dealing with racing, and the question of breeding and of the national stud is a different matter altogether and will come up in due course.
I support the amendment. I have supported this Bill generally, although there are some parts of it which might be better. On the whole, however, it is a Bill which has not received much opposition. I appeal to the Minister not to blemish a fairly good Bill by insisting on retaining paragraph (vii). I think I am as representative of the small breeders in this country as any other Deputy. I have lived all my life in a horse-breeding area and have bred and sold a number of horses. Speaking for the small breeders, I say that we do not want anything in this Bill to help us to breed or sell our horses. We have learned all that is to be known about the selling of horses. We known all the ins and outs of the trade. We are suspicious of this paragraph. I say that as a breeder myself and as a representative of a large number of small breeders. We do not yet know what the composition of the board will be. We do not know from what section of the people the board will get information either about the breeding or selling of horses. We cannot conceive of any member of the board being able to tell us our business in that respect. We desire that things should be left as they are so far as the breeding, selling and exporting of horses are concerned. We in this country have made a name for our horses. The Bill is really introduced for the improving of racing and the Irish horse will get the advertisement he deserves by engaging in better racing than he has formerly. Some people expressed the view to me that the Bill opens up the possibility of foreign horses coming in here to race. Some of us hope they will. If they do, we will probably be able to beat the foreign horses and thus get the Irish horse the best advertisement he can get anywhere.
The Racing Board should help us so far as it can in that way, but any possible interference with the manner in which we are to breed horses or in which we are to sell or export them will be regarded as offensive by a great many people interested in the breeding and selling of horses. We have all tried to meet the Minister on this Bill. I have not been active in opposing any section of it, but I do feel that the retention of paragraph (vii) would open up possibilities that would be considered very vexatious.
If we want to advertise—and I hope we shall advertise in every racing paper in the world—we shall have to do it under this paragraph. As well as that, we hope to have the Bill with reference to the National Stud introduced, and if we want to subsidise the National Stud we can only do it under this paragraph. If we delete the paragraph, I do not see any other provision in the Bill by which we can subsidise the National Stud out of this fund. This Bill is designed to help horse breeding generally, and that is an important aspect of the work of the board. If the paragraph is deleted, we remove any means of providing for the National Stud out of this fund.
I cannot understand what is at the back of the minds of Deputy Bennett and Deputy Mrs. Redmond. We want to use all the powers we have to help breeders, small and large, and the vast majority of our breeders are small breeders. There is no power under this section or any other section to interfere with the small breeder in the breeding or the selling of his horse. No power is sought here to control that in any way. He is free to sell his horse or not sell it as he pleases, and to sell it in any way he pleases.
So far as this section or any other section is concerned, we do not propose to interfere. Therefore, I do not see what danger the Deputies see in the matter. I am quite unconscious of any effort being made in the Bill to restrict the present freedom of action of the small breeder.
There is a suggestion that the small breeder or the large breeder may be wiped out or that they are not to be helped out of this fund. I think it is fundamental to the Bill that we must use the funds to help breeding in Ireland and to help to export our horses. We must endeavour to increase the trade abroad and the more the small breeder or the large breeder sells the better for both. The section is there in order to make our export trade in horses as successful an industry as possible. We must do everything, possible, when the war is over, to revive the good trade that existed, and expand and develop it, not alone in European countries but much further afield.
The Minister says he can see no possibility of anything apt to injure the breeding or selling of horses. He is very innocent. I am not so innocent and I can see the possibility. I do not know who will advise the board or how they propose to develop the export of horses. I have not the least idea as to what they think about it. For instance, they might decide to have a central selling board or set up a committee to control the export of horses.
They would have to get legal power to do that.
Section 15 (1) (c) (vii) says—
"any purposes, approved by the Minister, conductive to the improvement of the breeding of horses or to the development of the export trade in horses."
There is power there to develop the export trade in horses. They may say: "We can develop the export trade in horses. We cannot have it carried on in the haphazard way it has been carried on. The breeders of this country lost money on every horse they sold. Let us set up a board to sell horses for them, a board that will be composed of men who know the horses. We will sell the horses for them and make the trade for them." I am rather suspicious when we start to interfere with the legitimate private trade, either in horses or in anything else. I have experience of that, for instance, in the Department's scheme of buying stallions. Some of us know a horse and know we can buy a better horse for less money than through the combined body.
There is no sub-section in the Bill for selling horses.
When you encroach on the business of private individuals, whether in regard to horses or cattle, either as breeders or sellers, it is dangerous. There is a possibility here that it may develop into that. I do not know how the section would be taken, but I can see that it offers loopholes for doing almost anything, with the approval of the Minister; and the Minister, being the innocent man he is and, as he admits, a man with very little experience of racing, would be open to representations made by certain people, when probably the people I talk about a good deal now would not be there to give any hint to the Minister.
I have been engaged in this business of breeding horses, and mixing with the people who breed them, all my life and I never found any of them who had any difficulty in doing their own business successfully. So far as financial assistance is concerned, I do not know what financial assistance is going to come out of this Bill to the ordinary breeder. Whatever money the board may have, even if divided up amongst the breeders, would not matter tuppence, so far as the value of their horses is concerned. If there is any money to spare I want it to be used under this Racing Bill, which is for the improvement and development of racing, to help the people who pay the tax, to reduce the tax instead of making money out of it. There will be another time to talk about breeding horses, when the National Stud Bill is introduced.
I do not know when that will be, but I hope it will be soon.
I am hoping, with the Minister, that it will be soon. When it is introduced, many of us will have a good deal to say about breeding horses and the protection of the interests of the small breeder. However, this is not the time or place to do it.
I would say to the Deputy what I have said already, that the control of the export of horses would require legislation. There is no proposition here to control the export of horses, either in this section or any other section. The board is not given any power to control or any monopoly.
How does the Minister interpret the words "any purposes conducive to the development of the export trade?" I can see a lot of possibilities. Various people would have ideas as to the best way to develop the export trade.
If the Deputy were converted to that to-morrow and thought it was a good thing to control the export in order to improve horse breeding and the export trade in horses, he would have to go to some Minister—the Minister for Agriculture, the Minister for Finance or the Minister for Industry and Commerce—and get special legislation passed to control the export trade in horses. If we wanted some board to have a monopoly or power to regulate it, we would have to pass legislation.
I do not think so at all. We have one scheme in operation already and, perhaps, the Minister is not aware of it. It has been necessary for some people who sell horses at present to get a permit to sell them. That, I understand, is under an Emergency Powers Order, and unless you were a member of a certain body you could not get the permit. Probably that is to prevent difficulty at the present time in the emergency, and there is good reason for it, so that the Minister may have a quick way of issuing the permits. That would be possible in normal times and a particular body might be elected to issue permits for exports.
I would like to reiterate what the Minister said concerning this section. There is a certain amount of opinion amongst people who do not realise the position correctly—and I do not include Deputy Bennett now—that when this Bill goes through, the rights of owners of horses or of those who conduct racecourses will be adversely affected.
The Minister has properly pointed out that, unless legislation is passed by this House, nothing whatever can be done to prevent the ordinary normal channels of trade operating. This section is the only section which permits the Bill to operate its Title, which is "An Act to provide for the Improvement and Development of Horse Breeding and Horse Racing". If we are to have the National Stud functioning, some close relation should be established between the Racing Board and the National Stud. The only section, in fact the only paragraph, in the Bill to assist horse racing and horse breeding is this paragraph (vii) of sub-section (1) (c) of Section 15, which says:—
"Any purposes, approved by the Minister, conducive to the improvement of the breeding of horses or to the development of the export trade in horses".
I certainly fail to see anything there which may interfere with or hinder in any way the existing channels of trade or the normal methods which breeders, owners and others who buy or export horses have used up to the present.
I gather that Deputy Bennett is afraid some interference may take place with the ordinary facilities which have existed or with the ordinary usages of trade. So far as I can see, there is nothing whatever to fear in the section. The section is the only link between breeding and racing, if we are to establish successfully a national stud, with sires at reasonable fees. Under this sub-section, provision is made whereby the board might allow sires at reduced fees or subsidies sires to make them available at reduced fees to small breeders. I believe that was designed to make first-class sires available at lower fees, which the small breeder might be able to afford. As the Bill stands, a subsidy can be paid to the owner of a stallion, or to the National Stud, as the case may be, and a reduction in the ordinary fee would then be available. I believe it is the operative section in relation to breeding. This Bill sets out to deal with the improvement of horse breeding and horse racing and the better control of racecourses and it is not designed solely for racehorse owners or the racing executives.
I am sorry the Minister does not find this amendment acceptable. I honestly have great fears, and I am not alone in that position, because Deputy Bennett and many others here realise that it can happen that this board will have certain very wide powers and can take to themselves anything that they may think they have a better knowledge of than the ordinary man conducting his own business. They can say, for instance, that they know better how to get good clients abroad and have better opportunities than any man who is working up a connection for himself over a period of years. I am not in agreement with the possibility that this board should take over the conduct of affairs from private people. They may not do it now, but I think that there is some cause for anxiety in relation to the development of the export trade in horses. There are agents at present carrying on the business and, no doubt, they will be very glad to expand their activities after the war. In that connection, they will do all they possibly can, and why should they not?
I suggest it is really going too far to give the board these powers. We are, as it were, handing to them and reminding them there is another section in which they can interfere if they think fit. It has been my fear all the time, since this Bill was introduced, that it could lead to a monopoly, and we do not agree with monopolies. Lots of people interested in horse breeding have approached me, some of them no later than last Sunday—I met several people in County Waterford—and they told me they were very apprehensive with regard to large exports of all types of horses. They wanted to know did it mean that this board would take over full control. The Bill can give them the power to do it, and, for that reason, I thought it was only right to put down the amendment.
So far as the National Stud is concerned, we all realise how effective it could be and what a benefit it will be for the country, but I am not quite in agreement that the racing community should contribute to it. I regard it as a separate entity. We know that the breeder has to depend on the racehorse owner. As I said before, racing is simply the shop window for the breeder. I think the question of the National Stud should be left until another Bill is introduced and the money should go to it as a separate entity and as a national matter, possibly with some subsidy from the Government but the money to be contributed to it should not be taken from the racing community. Under this Bill, we are asking the racing public to contribute. We are handing the money over to something from which the ordinary man attending a race meeting cannot benefit. The public generally do not gain any benefit by the National Stud. The average man does not feel that he will be getting value for the money he contributes by way of tax. For that reason, I think it would be well to leave the National Stud alone until another Bill is introduced.
I do not know that I can do or say anything more to assure those who have fears that this body, under this Bill, if it is passed— under sub-section (vii) of this section in particular—will set up a monopoly to control the export trade in horses. There is no power in this section to do that and separate legislation would have to be introduced if a monopoly were to set up. There is no such power here. I would like to see the people, whoever they are—I do not know who they are—who have charge of the export trade, develop and expand and make a great success of their trade after the war and there is no intention under this Bill that the Racing Board should interfere with their freedom of action in the matter of an export trade.
The difficulty that has arisen in connection with this measure is due largely to the fears of independent horse agents who have, through their own initiative and business acumen, developed a trade for horses abroad. These people have fears that this board will have such influence with the Minister that they will be able to come to him with a scheme for his approval.
With a scheme to do what?
To export horses through a national organisation, cutting out the middlemen. I do not hold that that is the intention of the sub-section. I am merely stating that these are the fears certain individuals have.
Does the Deputy not know that there would have to be special power granted before any monopoly could be created?
But the Minister has power to approve the payment of a grant or loan for any purpose conducive to the development of the export trade. It is quite conceivable that the board will go to the Minister with a scheme and say that, through the instrumentality of the board, they could develop a better export trade in horses, that they could, perhaps, get a better price for the breeder of horses through such a national board or central sales organisation and it is quite possible the board could convince the Minister of that. I am not saying that it is possible under the Bill, but I am putting that point of view, and I think it is the point of view that Deputy Redmond has in mind. The Minister has made it clear that there is no such intention. I do not think there is such a power under the Bill, but in case there is, I think the Minister should give an assurance to the Deputies concerned that, so far as he is concerned, he will not approve any scheme which will enable that to be done.
I will not give any such approval. Under this Bill I would not have the power. I will not use any power, as Minister for Finance here, to approve the setting up of any monopoly by the Racing Board in relation to the export trade in horses.
I am sure, from the Minister's undertaking, that that matter is quite all right. When I used the word "monopoly" I felt that the board would receive very wide powers and could do as they liked. We now have the Minister's assurance that that will not happen, so far as the setting up of a central organisation for the export of horses is concerned.
I should like to point out that I prepared an amendment worded somewhat similarly to Deputy Redmond's, and when I was about to submit it I discovered the Deputy already had an amendment covering the same ground. When I was supporting her amendment I was really putting forward my own ideas. I am quite prepared to accept the assurance of the Minister that, so far as he can, he will not permit what we feared.
I will not approve any monopoly.
I am glad he will not approve it. Notwithstanding the excellent speech of my lawyer friend on the right, I still see a possibility of certain things occurring that I would not approve, but with the assurance we have had from the Minister, I will not persist in my arguments.
I move amendment No. 15:—
In sub-section (1) (c), to add at the end of sub-paragraph (vii), line 51, the following words: "provided that, the total annual amount of any grants and loans made for such purpose shall not exceed twenty per cent. of the gross annual income of the board".
I think the discussion on the last amendment has, to a certain extent, proved conclusively that what my amendment seeks will be acceptable. Deputy Cosgrave, when arguing on the amendment submitted by Deputy Redmond, indicated that the main purpose of the Bill is to develop horse breeding and the export of horses.
The Minister is aware that there are a number of purposes behind the Bill. Deputy Redmond, I think, sees, unless she and I have taken quite a wrong view of the Bill, that it is supposed to have other purposes, such as increasing stakes and prizes for horse racing at authorised racecourses. It is also supposed to bring some benefit in the shape of a reduction of entrance fees and similar charges and to provide funds to subsidise the carriage of horses competing at race meetings, as well as the improvement of amenities at racecourses. In view of what we have heard on the previous amendment, I should like the Minister to agree that, of whatever amount of money is collected, 20 per cent., and no more, shall be devoted for the purpose set out in paragraph (vii) (c) of Section 15. I do not know whether what Deputy Cosgrave said will happen, that the board will regard this as mainly a horse-breeding Bill, but, if it does, it will mean a very serious imposition on the public. There will be unlimited expenditure on this item with no benefit at all to the race-going or racing public.
I do not see how there can be any serious objection, in view of the discussion on the previous amendment, to limiting expenditure to this amount. Had the other amendment been carried, my amendment would not be necessary, but I feel that it should be limited, so that the benefits which are supposed to accrue to racecourses and the racing public will not be relegated to a secondary position, and horse-breeders of a certain type given first consideration. I hope the Minister will agree to limit expenditure on that purpose set out in Section 15 to 20 per cent.
What would you do with the balance?
Paragraphs (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v) and (vi) of the section set out the purposes for which the balance would be used.
I do not agree that any emphasis is laid on any one of the number of things which the Bill is being put through the House to do. It is described in the Long Title as—
"An Act to provide for the improvement and development of horse breeding and horse racing and the better control of racecourses,"
and so on. Not one item is underlined. They are all left to the discretion of the Racing Board and I propose to leave them to their discretion and not to fetter them or to limit their powers in any way.
Does the Minister not take power in paragraphs (vi) and (vii) to fetter them, because the purposes there must be approved by the Minister?
It does not say that I am going to limit what the board propose to do.
But the Minister has control.
I have, and this House will have control. The Minister has specific control and the House will have control over the whole matter year by year when it sees the report of how the money has been used. There is nothing to prevent Deputies raising these matters if they are dissatisfied, if they think that too much money has been spent on beautifying racecourses in and around Dublin while those in Limerick, Cork or somewhere else have been ignored and neglected, of that too much of the money has been spent in support of bloodstock improvement and horse breeding, or if they feel that the stakes at race meetings are too high. There will probably be no complaint in that direction, but these criticisms can be made when the report is laid on the Table and, probably, as a result of being laid on the Table, published in the newspapers, as would naturally follow. The House will be fully informed as to the expenditure of the money and the Minister will be open to question on these matters. I hope this board will be a businesslike board which will have the interests of all these matters close to their hearts—the improvement and development of horse breeding, horse racing and the better control of racecourses. All these matters are very closely intertwined, interlocked and related and the improvement of one will, I hope, help the other.
The improvement of racecourses will bring, I expect, larger crowds. If the amenities there are so improved as to make them more attractive, they will draw larger crowds and in the same way if horse breeding is improved, as I hope it will be, when the war is over naturally, and this body gets working and has a considerable sum of money at its disposal, racing generally will be improved. I hope the board will be able, despite what Deputy Bennett said earlier, materially to help the breeders of horses, particularly those who need help and who have good bloodstock from which they can raise good racing horses and perhaps hunters as well.
I think it would be wrong, in starting this board on its career of usefulness and service to the racing industry, if I may so describe it, to hamper them or tie them down in any way. The wise thing to do, until we see how they work at any rate, is to leave them for some years complete discretion to use the moneys available in the best possible way in the interests of the three great services set out in the Bill—the development of horse breeding, horse racing, and the better control of racehorses. I think this would be an unwise amendment to accept.
All I want to say is that if one re-reads the Second Reading speeches, and particularly the Minister's speech, one gets quite a different view of the purposes of the Bill from what they now appear to be as a result of the discussion on this and the previous amendment. I do not want to delay the House further, but I want to say that several important people in the world in recent years have always said when making a prophecy that they never make prophecies. I am now going to make a prophecy—and I should like the Minister to keep it in mind—that when this Bill has been operating for two or three years, a great deal of the time of the House will be taken up with trying to remedy all the dislocations and grievances that will arise. There will be grave disappointments and racing will suffer, because if expenditure on this particular item is not limited where it is not wanted by the breeders—except by a certain section, and, as Deputy Bennett said, for a very mysterious reason—it will be found that the racing public who have to pay the piper in this case will stop paying.
I should like to correct the misapprehension under which Deputy Briscoe is labouring as a result of the interpretation he has put on my remarks. I quoted from the Long Title of the Bill which sets out the purposes which this Bill seeks to achieve, namely, the development of horse breeding, horse racing and the better control of racecourses and for these and other purposes to establish a board. By no stretch of either imagination or words can that be taken to mean that the funds derived from the levy proposed to be enforced under the Bill are to be specifically disbursed to breeders, or that only breeders will secure benefit from them.
If Deputy Briscoe or any other Deputy is of the opinion that the Bill will do the damage he appears to think it will do, I invite him to vote against it, but not to try to have it both ways. If they believe the Bill will operate detrimentally, let them show their opposition in a real way. If not, let them not endeavour to misinterpret the section or the Long Title of the Bill, because the result of that misinterpretation, or of the misuse of words in that connection, will be that public opinion outside will interpret the Bill in a wrong way.
This Bill reminds me of the agitation, started by certain lorry owners, in connection with the Transport Bill, who imagined that every lorry was going to be put off the road unless it was run by the Transport Company. But when the Transport Bill was circulated it was found that there was no such provision in it concerning lorries. The same applies here. If Deputies imagine that there are certain provisions in this Bill, then they should specifically state them, or else allow the sections to stand as they are.
I want to say that I throw back to Deputy Cosgrave his cheap political little interruption. I said that if he had the view which he expressed on a previous amendment, then certainly his view is that the Bill will be a failure.
I move amendment No. 16:—
To add at the end of sub-section (1) (c) the following new paragraph:—
(viii) Any other purpose or purposes approved by the Minister conducive to improving the prestige and or value of Irish bloodstock at home or abroad.
In view of the fact that the Minister declined to accept a previous amendment to delete the words "approved by the Minister", it is not necessary, possibly, to add this sub-section.
I move amendment No. 18:—
To insert before sub-section (3) a new sub-section as follows:—
(3) The Minister shall lay copies of the accounts and report of the board for an accounting period before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after they have been received by him.
Amendments Nos. 21, 30, 33 and 35 may be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 21:—
In sub-section (2), line 12, to delete the words "one hundred" and substitute the word "fifty".
I think this is a reasonable amendment and is worthy of consideration by the Minister. The proposal is that for offences committed by a bookmaker under this section the maximum penalty shall be £50 instead of £100. A fine of £50 is a substantial one and should be sufficient. I am sure none of us want to break the bookmakers. We seem to have run amok so far as money is concerned. Some people talk so glibly now in thousands that they may not regard a fine of £100 as a very heavy one. I hope that is not the view of the Minister or of the House.
I do not propose to accept the amendment, and I hope the Deputy will not think me too unreasonable. I think it is necessary to have a substantial penalty for offences of the kind that we are dealing with here. I hope there will not be any occasion to put the section into operation. In all probability there will not, but we cannot be too sure. We must take measures to assure the board that where offences are committed they will be able to impose sufficiently heavy sanctions against people who decide to make up their minds that they will not obey the law. It is unlikely, I think, that any district justice would, for a first offence, impose the maximum penalty of £100. If we are to judge by what has happened in other cases, the fine imposed may be a very modest one. I would ask the House to support me in regard to this provision so as to indicate to all concerned—to the courts as well as to others—that the House regards this as a very serious offence. We want all concerned to realise that we would regard any breach of the law under this or the other sections to which these amendments refer, as deserving of a heavy sanction.
The trouble about a section of this kind is that, while the Minister for Supplies was given very extensive powers under the Emergency Powers Act to deal with a very serious situation we know, from our experience of the last six years, how those powers have been used. I read of a case which came before the courts a short time ago where a woman down the country was charging 7/6 an ounce for tea, and she was fined 5/-. I read of another case where an old lady in Leixlip was fined £20, although the excess charges in her case only amounted to 10½. It is that kind of thing that makes me very sceptical about giving these powers to the Minister. Where grave offences are committed not only should heavy penalties be imposed, but there should be imprisonment. The opinions of district justices seem to vary a good deal in these cases.
Some of them seem to have got the million mentality, and think nothing of clapping on heavy penalties for some petty offences. I know, of course, that the Minister for Supplies is not responsible, under the powers that we gave him, for the imposition of penalties, but in some cases the powers given have been outrageously abused. Where really serious offences are committed, I would be prepared to go to the extent of making provision for a period of imprisonment as distinct from a fine. That might help to put a curb on this bump of big money that seems to be manifesting itself in this country. They talk of planking down £100 as if it were a hundred halfpence. Some of the newly appointed district justices may not be used to this. They may say to themselves:—"The Dáil has said that I can impose a fine of £100; very well, I will clap it on and give this fellow a rap across the knuckles." I think there is a good deal to be said for Deputy Mrs. Redmond's amendment. Where, however, a serious offence has been committed, I think that, in addition to a maximum penalty, there should be a period of imprisonment. The powers already given by the House under the Emergency Powers legislation have been grossly abused in some cases and not applied strictly enough in others.
The maximum penalty that we are asking for in this section is not anything like as high as the maximum penalty which can be imposed for breaches of the law relating to supplies and prices.
What the Minister says here is one thing but what will be done in the courts is another.
We cannot control that here.
Put in a definite figure.
There have been cases where the Dáil, in its wisdom, has set out a definite figure, and yet people have been let off under the First Offenders Act or not convicted at all. That has been the effect in a number of cases where definite fixed penalties were laid down. Therefore, we have to leave it to the discretion of the district justices. I am afraid that is the only thing we can do.
Of course, you could resort to the device of the Customs Act and appeal in every case where you do not like his ruling.
This legislation will not last for all time. We will have to see how it will work.
We are just going to get the medicine in instalments.
That is the usual way. It is given in small doses in the beginning.
I move amendment No. 22:—
In sub-section (1), lines 19 and 20, to delete the words "may, if in its absolute discretion it so thinks fit" and substitute the word "shall".
Section 23, sub-section (1), reads as follows:—
"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."
I am proposing the deletion of the words "may, if in its absolute discretion it so thinks fit" and the substitution of the word "shall". If the bookmaker is a recognised man and has passed the board as such, there ought not to be any doubt as to his being accepted and he should be allowed to carry on his business. We should not leave it so much at the will of the board.
Amendments Nos. 22 to 25 are practically dealing with the same thing. They could be discussed together.
My remarks will apply to all these amendments. I understand what Deputy Mrs. Redmond has in mind. She suggests that when the bookmaker is granted a licence, he should be accepted. The Government gives him a licence on payment of a certain fee. Under the Bill the board is given power to say to the bookmaker: "Even though you have a licence from the Government, you cannot come in on this racecourse and bet." There are such things as "mushroom" bookmakers, and there are people who bet on certain days. The board might be correct in making a decision not to grant licences to certain bookmakers who, say, go to Fairyhouse, Punchestown, Galway and Listowel and other holiday meetings when they are going to meet the holiday crowd and, perhaps, the "mug". A certain amount could be argued in favour of that, in the interests of the genuine bookmaker who goes all the year round to every race meeting.
Whose living it is.
Whose living absolutely it is. There is a good deal to be said for that and that the board should be given a certain amount of discretion but, at the same time, there should be some appeal from that board because, perhaps, some member of the board might have a grievance against a bookmaker or the bookmaker might have a grievance in respect of the pitch he was allotted in the particular enclosure, or he might be asserting his rights there. The board of governors in that case may assert their rights and they may say: "This fellow is giving us a lot of trouble; we will revoke his licence." The board, in its absolute discretion, may at any time suspend for such time as it thinks fit or revoke a course betting permit. In other words, if some bookmaker who has been betting for years tells some member of the board what he thinks of him——
Who has the high opinion now of the bookmaker?
If Deputy Norton read the papers during the last few days he would see what the Labour Party think of themselves.
I know what they think of the Deputy, too.
There is no need for the Deputy to interrupt. When he comes to the question of the conditions existing for jockeys, apprentices. stable boys and workers, I will give him all the help I can. I will not interrupt him.
I am glad of that moral support.
If the board refuses or revokes a course-betting permit, there should be some appeal to the Minister. There should be some appeal, outside the board, anyway, to which the bookmaker can bring any grievance he may have. In another section of the Bill it is laid down that nothing in the section will be done without the concurrence of the Minister. A great deal has been said by Deputy Hughes, Deputy Cosgrave and other Deputies about the export of horses and in regard to the ways in which money will be used in connection with that matter. They want all kinds of assurances that nothing will be done without the sanction of the Minister. The Minister told them that when this Bill is passed they will forget all about it. I want to know whether or not the Minister will agree to an amendment to establish an appeal in the case of a bookmaker who holds a licence from the Government to bet on any course in this country being refused a permit by the board. Is there any redress for that bookmaker? I have not seen any amendment on the sheet which would solve that problem, but I think there should be some redress.
What about amendment No. 23?
To go to the District Court? That would involve delay. When there is an objection to a decision on the course it is dealt with by the stewards within 15 minutes of the objection being lodged. In this Bill there should be some method, without referring it to a district justice, to have the matter dealt with. Something might happen and the matter might not be raised in time to allow the bookmaker to attend the meetings at Fairyhouse. Punchestown, Leopards-town. All these meetings might be over before the grievance would be dealt with. If the board object to a bookmaker holding a course-betting permit, there should be some way of dealing with it at least within 24 hours. I have read the amendments and I have not seen one that would cover the matter. I cannot suggest an amendment, but I do think that it is unreasonable to give the board absolute authority to say to any bookmaker who holds a Government licence: "We are not going to allow you to bet here to-day." I would suggest to the Minister to consider if there is a possible way out. I would ask him to see that if the board are going to prevent the bookmaker from betting they will give him sufficient notice, and that they will give him an opportunity of having his case heard. One of the amendments was:
"Where a decision of the board is reversed by a Justice of the District Court, under the immediately preceding sub-section the board shall forthwith grant or restore (as the case may require) a course-betting permit to the licensed bookmaker concerned."
The other amendment was:
"Where the board, by virtue of sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) of this section refuses to grant to any licensed bookmaker a course-betting permit or suspends or revokes any such permit, the licensed bookmaker concerned may appeal to a Justice of the District Court against the decision of the board and the said Justice shall either confirm or reverse the said decision and the determination of the appeal by the said Justice shall be final and conclusive."
I move to report progress.