The origin of this method of breeding goes back much farther than the Minister said. It goes back some 600 years. The Arabs used it 600 years ago. There are records of its use in 1750. Its utilisation on a commercial basis is, however, of recent origin. This is an enabling Bill. Section 3 is the operative section and is the only important section in the Bill. We do not approve of this system of legislation. We have got no information from the Minister as to what regulations he proposes to make. As a matter of fact, he has not informed the House whether he intends to encourage the use of this system of breeding. He has not given us any information as to whether any financial provision is being made or whether he intends to ask the House to make any financial provision for this. That seems to me extraordinary.
If I asked the Minister what regulations he proposed to control this method of breeding, he would not be able to give me any information because what we are being asked here is to empower the Minister to make regulations and he will then hand it over to a group of civil servants in Merrion Street and they will do the rest of it. In other words, it is delegated legislation. Surely it is our responsibility here to examine legislation, and, if this is something new so far as this country is concerned, Dáil Eireann ought to be interested and we ought to get an opportunity of discussing its implications. For instance, I do not know whether the Minister intends to allow the individual to operate this system privately on his own farmstead for his own stock, or whether he intends to insist on veterinary surgeons being provided where it is used otherwise. This is a highly technical job, and, in my opinion, veterinary surgeons ought to be used.
We have no information whatever as to whether there is any intention to provide a national service, whether we intend to build up a national service, and we have no information as to whether it is the intention of the Minister and his Department to carry out intensive research into the utilisation of animals in an artificial way. We get a very scanty account of what they have been doing in Great Britain, with no reference to the work of Sir John Hammond, to his interest and supervision in the matter, little information about the Reading station, Cambridge, and the various other stations. As a matter of fact, so far as the proven animal is concerned, he might have informed the House what the proven animal means and its advantages, because that is the real advantage in the artificial use of an animal.
The United States took up this system in 1937, and, in 1943, had 574 animals in use to inseminate artificially 182,524 cows, an average of 318 cows per bull. Britain took it up and Reading was started, I think, in February, 1943. By mid-summer, 1946, they had 73 bulls in use and the inseminated average was something over 40,000. The conception rate for that particular year was 65.2 per cent. We have suffered from a variety of diseases here and we have had problems in the matter of breeding and genetics, and one thing claimed for this system of breeding is that it is a very effective way of controlling the spread of disease, and infectious disease in particular. In the particular type of community we have, a small farming community, where you have an animal serving a big district, it gives rise to greater disease problems than where you have independent units which are economically served by one animal. For that reason, we should take a particular interest in whatever advantages may accrue from the utilisation of animals in this fashion.
The Minister recently showed an interest in our problem of breeding. He knows very well that indiscriminate cross-breeding leads nowhere and I feel that it is better to grade up low-yielding herds by the use of good bulls than to try to pull out the low-yielders. That would be a very long and very tedious method and would not be as good, from the breeding point of view, as the utilisation of good bulls. The improvement of herds, in my opinion, depends mainly on better bulls. With good females only, the chances of grading up are only about equal. With the utilisation of the proven animal, it would be odds on the creation of higher yielding progeny and I want to recommend to the Minister that here definitely is a solution of our problem of low yield.
It is true that a co-operative society here has taken a particular interest in this matter, but I am quite satisfied, too, that a great many farmers in that part of the country are wondering whether it is right or wrong and why it is that the Department has not taken any interest whatever in it. The station at Mallow to which the Minister referred was set up on the initiative of the local co-operative society. They have four or five animals under the supervision of a very efficient veterinary surgeon who was trained specifically for this purpose, but there was no co-operation, good, bad, or indifferent, by the Department. It was on the initiative and enterprise of a group of men down there that this work was started. There was no investigation of any sort by the Department and no attempt to provide financially for research in the matter. Then we talk about our agriculture and about progress in Irish agriculture, while getting no lead from Merrion Street, so far as the operation of a new idea like this is concerned.
Every progressive agricultural country in the world is working intensively on this system of breeding from the research point of view. The Minister carefully avoided informing the House that Great Britain provided £250,000 for research and that a special advisory committee, under the chairmanship of the Duke of Norfolk, was set up to advise the Minister and to watch and guide research and to supervise the stations generally. Are we going to have a national service and why is it that we have got such scant information? I want to protest against the way the House has been treated. This is an important matter, fundamental to our whole economy and our whole prosperity. It has been made definitely clear to us that the basis of the whole future of this country is the live-stock industry and that, if we can get away from our haphazard method of breeding, indiscriminate cross-breeding which produces nondescript animals, and get down to a more scientific method of breeding animals for specific purposes, we will be making a definite advance.
The advantage of the proven animal, used artificially, is that you can use him very much longer and much more extensively, having proved his capacity to get milk. In the natural way, when you arrive at that point, where there is positive proof that his progeny are high yielders and that you have stepped up the milking capacity, he has probably become too old to be used in the natural way. Another advantage which accrues is that you can afford to pay much more, to go to much greater trouble breeding animals for the specific purpose of dairying especially. I think this method of breeding has proved best from the dairying point of view. The position to-day in Great Britain, with their activities on this important work, is that there are not sufficient animals available. We have just been marking time in this country, so far as milk production is concerned, until the problem has become so acute that the Minister, when he took office, expressed the view that we had a biological problem here, and that our methods and the Live Stock Breeding Act, in its administration, had reacted adversely and that the failure of the Department to keep close supervision on what was being done in the country had this result, that we were breeding away from milk.
I feel that the Minister should study this whole system much more carefully. He ought to give the matter much more attention. He should make ample financial provision for the research work necessary in this new system of breeding. We should not go blindfolded into this thing. This system has tremendous potentialities. Other countries have proved that. Experts who can speak with knowledge, men like Sir John Hammond, are confident that it has great potentialities. They issue the warning that we should step carefully, that this system requires much investigation and experimentation. Is all that work to be left to the agricultural societies, the creamery societies? Will they have to do their own research? Will they have to blunder along without any technical direction or any advisory committee with special statutory powers and special financial provisions?
If the Minister and the Department are interested only to the extent of providing legislation of this sort, merely an enabling section to empower the civil servants in Merrion Street to make regulations to which we can object by an annulment motion, then I think the whole idea of dealing with this matter is highly objectionable. The Minister may tell us that this is a British system. The British were involved in a war when they adopted the system. We have more time to deal with legislation; we can give ample consideration to whatever provisions are required. This system of breeding ought as far as possible to be made statute law.
I object vehemently to this system of legislation. I am disappointed with the Minister's handling of this matter. He gives us no information; he merely asks the House for the power set out in Section 3. There is no national scheme, no optimism as to the future utilisation of this new system. We have had only a scant account of what happened at Cambridge. There was little reference to the rapid increase in the use of artificial insemination and the success that has attended the efforts of Sir John Hammond in stepping up the milking capacity of animals.
It has been established beyond any doubt that you can raise milk yields enormously by the utilisation of a suitable sire. The man who owns the cow that holds the world's milk yield record lives in the United States and uses his animal artificially on his own herd. It is an independent unit and the animal is not used outside the farm. In the British legislation there is a provision indicating that there is no necessity for a licence where the animal is used privately for the cows on the farm.
We have no information from our Minister, no plan, no financial provision—merely power to enable him to make regulations to govern one station, that at Mallow. Who will satisfy our farmers that this is a good system to step up the milking capacity of cattle? Will the State carry out any research? Are we to be as good as other countries or shall we have to wait to benefit from the researches in other countries? Is that the Government's attitude to our agricultural problem?
A country like this, that is depending to such an extent on agriculture, ought to be a pioneer in work of this sort. The Dáil ought to be far more ambitious so far as the use of artificial insemination on a commercial basis is concerned. The problem is an acute one. The Minister talked about setting up a committee of farmers. I do not think that he has attempted to do that yet.