Could the Minister tell us why it is provided that the Bill is to come into force on a date to be named instead of providing that it would come into force on a date specified in the Bill?
Committee on Finance. - Milk (Regulation of Supply and Price) (Amendment) Bill, 1952—Committee Stage.
As soon as it is passed we will bring it into force. If you give it to me to-morrow we will bring it in immediately.
In the ordinary course of events, in the absence of a specific provision, the Bill comes into force on the day it becomes an Act. Is this provided in this way because steps will have to be taken in the interval?
It is the ordinary procedure.
It is not.
We have to revoke the Emergency Powers Orders.
I see that that is the answer. I knew it had something to do with regulations, and I wanted to see what the regulations were. It is purely a question of administration, so to speak.
I move amendment No. 1:—
In line 22, after "district", to add "including veterinary services, technical advice in respect of feed production and cow testing, and where the Minister directs, shall make participation in an approved scheme a condition for the registration of premises under the Act of 1936, the Act of 1941, and this Act".
I put down this amendment because I think that the Bill we have before us, which is designed to create some kind of permanent arrangement in regard to the supply of liquid milk to our cities, also confers material benefits on the suppliers and, in regard to a great many branches of the agricultural industry, I think it is reasonable to suggest that, if it is a scheme into which people can come or out of which they can stay if they want to, it is fair to say to them: "If you want to partake of the benefits of price maintenance and machinery to deal with losses that you would sustain in time of surplus if the machinery were not there to relieve you, you have a corresponding duty to put your best foot forward to bring down the cost of production and to do all that you yourself can do to increase your own profits and your own returns."
We did establish in connection with the Dublin milk supply area an insemination centre at Grange. We provided a special assistant to the Dublin Milk Board to help the farmers to develop grass ensilage so as to simplify their problem of winter feeding. We all know in regard to milk producers, whether it be for the supply of liquid milk for human consumption or the supply of milk to creameries, that one of the great difficulties which confronts every Minister for Agriculture, and indeed every producer, is that the producer does not know the yield of his own cows. Not knowing the yield of his own cows, it is impossible for him intelligently to collaborate with any Minister who is trying to supply him with the kind of a cow that will provide an economic and remunerative return for the feeding which the cow receives.
We also, under the general powers of the Minister, provided both in the Dublin milk supply area and in certain other areas in the country a variety of special veterinary services covering anti-abortion, vaccination, treatment for parasitic diseases, and certain other veterinary services, all designed to protect the producer from losses which we knew he was sustaining and which materially abridged his profits. But in the promulgation of all these schemes the Department of Agriculture is habitually harassed by the fact that when the scheme is inaugurated you have no guarantee that the total number of suppliers, or, indeed, that a majority of them, will collaborateab initio in carrying out the scheme. They will be waiting for everybody to join in.
That is notably true in connection with cow testing. There is nobody who has ever been a Minister for Agriculture who has not felt that what the creamery and the liquid milk industry ought to do is to maintain effective cow-testing associations in which every cow would be enrolled and regularly tested. The fact is that we have never succeeded in getting much more than 10 per cent. of the cows in the country tested. I feel quite certain that Dáil Éireann is right in saying that compulsory powers must not be invoked against farmers except in a national situation which would justify similar compulsory powers being invoked against professional men, trade unionists and every other section of the community.
When you reach a situation where the Oireachtas is prepared to legislate for the purpose of protecting the interests of a body of people who come within the scheme of protection on a purely voluntary basis, I think the Oireachtas has the right to say: "Now, here are the benefits which every person who is prepared to enter the scheme will enjoy. Here are the conditions for securing access to those benefits." We do that by saying to anybody who wants to produce milk for human consumption that he must maintain a particular standard in his cow-house, and that in order to retain his position as a licensed producer of liquid milk for human consumption his cow-house is liable to inspection so that certain standards are maintained.
I feel it would not be any hardship to lay down certain other conditions for those who wish to be registered. In my view, one reasonable condition would be that a supplier should be a member of a cow-testing association operated by himself and his neighbours. A further reasonable condition might be that, when the voluntary services are reorganised on the lines which, I understand, the Minister has in contemplation, licensed persons under this Act should be required to take a certain degree of collaboration in the voluntary services provided for their protection and for the protection of those who would ultimately consume the milk.
I do not know whether it is necessary to have the requisite feed production to increase the supply. My mind travels back to the parish plan. If we could get a group of men with common interests and provide them with a technician to give them technical instruction, a much more fruitful return would come from the technician's work than if he had to travel from one farm to another without any bond between the several farms in the business of acquiring the highest technical skill in the production of the kind of feed which the producer of liquid milk requires. The House will remember that there are a particular group of persons who are not free, by the nature of their contract, to confine their milk production to summer production only as the creamery supplier can do. The man who supplies milk for human consumption and who has contracted to do so for the 12 months of the year must, during the winter months, provide his cattle with the highest protein food so that they will be enabled to produce the maximum supply of milk when there is no grass growing.
It seems perfectly clear that the most economic way to do that in this country is to provide ensiled grass or ensiled crops. The technique of ensilage is perfectly simple, provided one has the know-how. One cannot learn the knowhow unless one gets the requisite technical instructions. I feel the Minister would be justified saying to people who want to engage in this business of milk supplying: "The plain fact is that you cannot efficiently provide a supply of milk the whole year round unless you have technical instruction in the matter of ensilage. I am prepared to put at your disposal adequate technical instruction. I am entitled to say that if I provide the amenities which it is anticipated you will enjoy under this Act, I am entitled to require collaboration on your part with the technician I will provide as a condition of continuing to be a licensed producer for the purpose of this scheme."
For that reason, I put down this amendment, which I hope commends itself to the Minister—not necessarily in the precise form in which I put it forward. I trust that some proposal of that kind will appeal to him as an improvement on the Bill as originally presented.
I feel that this amendment, on this point, does not go very far. The provisions in the Bill will cover most of the matters which Deputy Dillon has in mind. Deputy Dillon has on this occasion, as on another occasion, referred to voluntary services and referred to inspections of premises. Deputy Dillon took an opportunity in this House to make a most vicious attack on the Cork milk suppliers. I would like to get as much publicity for what I have to say as Deputy Dillon got for his scandalous and libellous statement on the Second Reading of this Bill. Deputy Dillon suggested that the Cork milk was filthy and that the Cork milk suppliers were afraid to disclose the results of the examinations carried out by the Cork health authority.
The position is that the Cork milk is the best milk in Ireland. It can also be said, without any fear of contradiction, that the inspection carried out in Cork is the most efficient and the most conscientious inspection carried out in any area in this country. The attack made by Deputy Dillon on the Cork milk suppliers and on the Cork veterinary officers did not bring any credit upon him from anybody who had any knowledge of conditions as they operate in Cork. The position is that we have in Cork the most hard-working and the most intelligent milk producers who sell the highest and the best quality milk at the lowest prices in Ireland. We have the closest inspection and the most effective and the most energetic of veterinary officers. I feel it is wrong that they should be attacked in this House—either the officials of the public health authority or the suppliers to Cork City. In Volume 129, No. 6, Deputy Dillon said——
The Deputy is travelling far from the amendment. I allowed the Deputy a good deal of latitude but surely the Deputy is not going to go back and quote what Deputy Dillon said on another occasion in regard to another motion in the House?
Deputy Dillon challenged the Cork milk producers to quote figures.
That is an entirely separate matter. If the Deputy wants to respond to that challenge he will have to do so on some other occasion.
Deputy Dillon suggested that closer veterinary inspections should be made of the premises of the milk suppliers for Cork City, and he suggests that in this amendment, and the purpose of it is that those of us who are getting certain facilities should comply with certain requirements. I do not think there is any necessity for further veterinary inspections.
There is no proposal for veterinary inspections in this amendment.
Deputy Dillon made reference to it and he will find it in the report when he reads what he said. The position is that in Cork last year there were 1,800 samples of milk taken and of those 1,800 samples of milk there was only one that could be described as very dirty, and even though certain officials have suggested—and I think the Minister has suggested—that half of the milk was dirty and produced under bad conditions, there was less than 6 per cent. I do not want to labour that point but I do want to take this opportunity of denying, and saying that the people of Cork resent in a very definite way, the groundless charges made in this House on the Second Reading.
I wish to reiterate every word I said on that occasion with emphasis.
The Deputy will now come to the amendment. I have allowed him a great deal of latitude.
On the amendment I want to say that I believe that there is sufficient scope in the Bill to provide all the services that Deputy Dillon was referring to in his speech on this amendment. This amendment is superfluous and unnecessary and I believe that everything required to be done will be done, except the dictation that he wants to impose on milk producers in Cork. I do not agree with dictation from Deputy Dillon any more than I would agree with dictation coming from Deputy Smith when he was in the chair of agriculture, but there is sufficient incentive in the Bill already without the dictation that Deputy Dillon would like to impose on it.
As regards the inspection of the Cork milk supply, recently the Cork County Council had agreed to appoint a wholetime veterinary inspector for the inspection of the source of supply of milk to Cork City. I do not think that any one of the Cork Deputies made any serious complaint about the quality of the Cork milk supply. Our big grievance was and is that we cannot get a twice-daily delivery in the hot summer months and that even though milk of good quality is delivered, the person delivering it cannot be prosecuted for the condition of the milk at the time. That milk is generally morning and evening milk mixed together and sours before people are able to use it.
Will the Deputy relate that to the amendment?
I relate it to the statements that have been made here. As regards the veterinary inspections, I do not see what effect they will have on the milk if it is of good quality when it is delivered.
May I mention again that there is no reference in this amendment to veterinary inspections?
There was a lot of talk about the Cork milk supply.
Including veterinary services.
I want to make it clear that if Deputy Lehane or anybody else will read the debates he will find very little complaint by the Cork City Deputies.
I suggest reading the amendment would be more advantageous.
It is Canossa that is in question.
I wish to intervene in this debate to prevent this amendment from being bogged down by Cork, more Cork and still more Cork. I want to pour a little oil on the troubled waters and to make a few comments on this amendment. We know a number of counties—and I am not referring at all to Cork—in Leinster which are known as the Dublin milk supply area. The farmers in this area enjoy certain advantages, and I think they acknowledge that they do enjoy advantages and are prepared to co-operate as far as possible with this legislative Assembly to ensure that the best return is given to the State for the privileges which they enjoy.
I think most farmers would be anxious to co-operate in a general scheme to make cow testing universal. There may be some complaint in regard to cow testing as carried on at present inasmuch as some farmers regard it as too elaborate. It might be desirable to have a more simplified form of cow testing, but there is a general feeling amongst farmers that we ought to have universal cow testing at least in the area covered by this Bill.
There is a great number of advantages to be gained by knowing exactly and proving exactly the yield of each cow. There is an advantage to the cow-keeper and there is an advantage to the community in steadily improving the breed generally in the country. In addition to whatever privileges are given to milk producers under this Bill, it would be desirable that if we have cow testing universal in the milk supply areas, the A1 scheme should operate so as to ensure that the best quality dairy bulls are reserved for the cows that come up to a certain standard and that cows that are absolutely hopeless in regard to milk yield, if they are not eliminated, at least will be reserved for the big breeds of bulls.
Cows which produce under 500 gallons should be reserved. The beef breeds of Hereford and Aberdeen Angus cattle colour mark their calves. These calves cannot be confused in the future either with the Irish Dairy Shorthorn or any other breed. For that reason, this amendment should receive sympathetic consideration. If it is unnecessary, there is no need to write it into the Bill. There is also the disadvantage of writing into a Bill a provision which is covered in some other way inasmuch as the adding to the Bill of an amendment might, perhaps, in some other way limit its scope.
I think that the Dublin Milk Board —I am not talking about Cork because I prefer to keep away as far as I possibly can from Cork—should have far-reaching power in so far as the improvement of dairy herds in the area is concerned, in so far as the improving of veterinary services is concerned and in so far as the improving of types of herd management and feeding is concerned. I think there should be very, very little limit to their powers so far as they are concerned with rendering services to the producers and production of milk, making it more efficient and, therefore, more economic. I think there should not be any definite limit to the powers of the board. So long as the board continues to act in that manner, it will have the co-operation of everyone who has the interests of the dairying industry at heart.
I do not know what technical advice in regard to food production and cow testing the farmers will get from this board. It would take a lot of technical advice to change the conditions of affairs existing in this country and under which the herds of cows were reduced by 104,000 in two years.
In 1950-51 you had a reduction of 19,000 cows and 33,000 in-calf heifers. You had a reduction in 1951-52 of 38,800 cows and 14,000 in-calf heifers. When you have the disappearance of roughly one-tenth of the total milk herds in this country during the last two years of Deputy Dillon's reign, it is hard to know what technical advice-can do in the way of improving the situation, having regard to the fact that the Department's journals at present tell us that you pay something like 2½d. more for the foodstuffs that produce the extra gallon of milk than you will get for the gallon of milk when it is produced.
The farmers at the present time have got rather hard in view of the different advice they got during the last 20 or 30 years. It would take very good technical advice to turn a cow, which has been bred for beef for ten generations, into a decent milking cow to-day. That could not be done. There is very little use talking about the technical advice that is going to be given by a Department, which set its face against giving any assistance in the way of bringing into this country decent dairy herds. That is what you are up against and it is just as well to face it. The farmers did not reduce their dairy herds by 104,000 in two years for nothing. That was not done for the fun of it.
Despite all the advice we have received, our farmers, at the present day, will not listen to the sneers and insults that are poured out here by trumped up, moryah elected representatives telling them that they have dirty cows, dirty milk, and dirty herds and all the rest of it. That is slapped at them in public and plastered in the public-Press. They are not going to put up with that any longer. It is just as well that we should have some realisation of the position in that respect. People should not take advantage of their position in this House to black ball the agricultural community.
It is time the Deputy yapped. Deputy Lehane went to a pretty considerable amount of trouble in getting their report from the veterinary inspectors who inspected the milk in Cork.
I did not get it.
The Deputy got it without any bother. It was their report on the 1,800 odd samples that were inspected in Cork.
The Deputy is now going to have a canter around Cork.
And the dirty tubercular milk that the farmers of Cork and its surroundings were using to murder their neighbours' children. That was the description given in this House.
The Deputy heard me rule out that discussion in the case of other Deputies.
I want to know what shape the technical services proposed in this amendment are going to take, whether they will take the shape of food production instead of feeding production and cow testing? I want to know what that advice will consist of? Will it be on the lines set out in the last Government's White Paper? Will the cost be on the same lines as that in the last Government's White Paper?
The answer to those queries would make rather interesting reading for the farmers. Will the technical advice take the lines followed in the Department's journals which tell us the quantity of concentrated feeding stuffs required for every gallon over two gallons? When you endeavour to ascertain the cost of those concentrated feeding stuffs required you find that they are going to cost you something more than you get for the gallon of milk than the one gallon you get for it. Those are some of the things I suggest Deputy Dillon had in mind in regard to those services. I do not know what he means in regard to the veterinary surgeons which he advises.
In regard to cow testing, I do not know what the position is in Dublin but when supplies run short in the Cork Milk Board area, where you have to supply a definite quantity of milk, the same in the month of December as in the month of June, the farmers have to go to Messrs. Marsh and purchase cows bred under the approved plan of the Department. When you bring such a cow home you might get one and a half gallons of milk for the first week if it is well fed; after that, you will be lucky if you get half a gallon —and a good goat is better than most of them. That is the condition to which the Department have brought the dairy herds of this country. Often we are told to compare our agricultural industry with that of Denmark or Holland. Take, for instance, a country like Holland where the average yield per cow is 800 to 900 gallons of milk. When we read these figures we wonder what is wrong with this country.
This amendment does not afford an opportunity of discussing all schemes for agricultural development. It refers only to the method of their administration.
This amendment proposes that we should get veterinary services, technical advice in respect of feed production and cow testing. I am wondering what that "advice" is.
Obviously we cannot deal with every scheme of technical advice in the discussion of this amendment.
But every scheme of technical advice is embodied in the amendment. If the mover of the amendment had told us what particular technical advice he was going to give us we would know where we are but he did not do so. Compulsory feeding, compulsory pasteurisation and compulsory cow testing. I submit that all these matters are contained in this amendment.
The Deputy may recount them but he may not discuss them in detail, as he is endeavouring to.
I want to be brief. I think I have covered the ideas that might be behind Deputy Dillon's "advice." Of course, it is very difficult to know what is behind Deputy Dillon. He will come here to-day and say: "That is not what I meant. What I want is this..."—and then it will be an entirely different story. If the Department can give us any technical advice that will be an improvement on the hatchery scheme it will be some improvement and it will enable us to put an end to the condition of affairs which was responsible for the disappearance of 104,000 cows in two years.
The Deputy has said that half-a-dozen times.
I do not wish to repeat it further. I think I have covered the amendment fairly well.
Deputy Lehane, when he was speaking on this amendment, said that the most intelligent farmers were in Cork. I point out that the speech made by Deputy Corry has, as usual, proved that Deputy Lehane's statement is not true.
As I said yesterday, a Jack-of-all-trades is a master of none,
The intelligence of the Cork farmers does not arise on this amendment.
This is the main section of the Bill and is the real reason for its introduction. This section enables the milk board to expend its money. This amendment is restrictive and compulsory. It is restrictive in the sense that it is confining the board to the expenditure of its money on three items.
No, Sir, surely.
The amendment states three items—veterinary services, technical advice in respect of feed production and cow testing. There is no mention whatever of artificial insemination there, and there is no mention of soil testing. Other new schemes may be introduced from time to time, and the board might like to expend some of its money on these new schemes. If we accept the amendment put forward by Deputy Dillon, then we restrict the action of the board in respect of the expenditure of its own money. Up to the present the board had no authority to spend money on the production of milk; it had authority to spend money on the consumption of milk. All we are asking in this section is power to enable us to expend moneys on production.
I said that the amendment was restrictive, and it is restrictive in the sense that it is totally opposed to one of the principles underlying the section, which is, that a board can use its funds, with the Minister's consent, towards any scheme designed to encourage the increased production of milk in the production district. It is not the intention that any scheme should be forced upon the producer to the extent of putting him out of business if he does not wish to participate in it. If, for instance, a milk producer who supplies milk to Dublin does not wish to participate in some of the schemes he need not do so—but Deputy Dillon has already stated that if he does not then he should not be registered. That is compulsion. From past experience and from listening to Deputy Dillon in this House I know that if there is one thing that he hates and dreads it is the word "compulsion". I do not want to compel anybody under this Bill to do anything he does not wish to do. I am not asking to compel anybody. I am allowing every person who contributes to the funds to participate in any schemes put forward by the milk board. Therefore, I see no necessity for this amendment and I think that Deputy Dillon, on further consideration, should withdraw the amendment.
The Minister is under two misapprehensions. Certainly no restriction is advocated here because, if the amendment were accepted, the section would read:—
"The board for a joint district may, with the consent of the Minister, bear the whole or part of the cost of any scheme designed to secure the increased production of milk in the production district, including veterinary services, technical advice in respect of feed production and cow testing, and where the Minister directs, shall make participation in an approved scheme a condition for the registration of premises under the Act of 1936, the Act of 1941, and this Act."
The Minister is quite mistaken if he regards my amendment as restrictive. It merely provides that, in respect of certain schemes adumbrated by the board, if the Minister so directs—and only if the Minister so directs—participation in these schemes can be made a condition of registration.
Wait a moment. Who is grunting here on my right hand side?
I am not grunting.
The word "grunting" must be withdrawn.
I withdraw it. I meant no offence whatsoever. I heard some explosion on my right hand side.
Let Mr. Pickwick carry on.
When Deputy Lehane has subsided I want to make quite clear what my proposal is. It is that in respect, for instance, of a cow-testing scheme it should be made obligatory on any farmer who wishes to become a licensed producer of milk for sale in a joint district——
——to join the cow-testing association. I agree that the cow testing should be carried on on the modified scale which the circumstances prove to be adequate for the purpose of ascertaining a cow's average annual yield of milk. It would not have to be conducted on the more elaborate scale that is requisite if you are trying to grade up your cow under the Department registered diary cow scheme but on the modified scale designed to do nothing more than provide the producer with the essential information which very few farmers in this country have at present, and that is the true yield of the cows in their own byre.
We might as well face this fact. It is not a popular thing to say but I do not give a fiddle-de-dee about that. One of the grave problems of milk production in this country is the vast number of uneconomic cows which are being used by farmers for the production of milk. There is only one way of putting an end to that chronic problem which has frustrated the best efforts of succeeding Ministers for Agriculture in this country and that is by devising means of getting the farmers informed of the character of their own cows. I think the Department of Agriculture has demonstrated to satisfaction that they do not regard themselves as discharging their liability to help farmers, once they have got the farmers to realise the deficiencies in their own cows, because in the parish of Bansha where the whole cow population was examined and the uneconomic cows pointed out to the farmer, every farmer in that parish was offered an in-calf heifer in exchange for his uneconomic cow.
Is the Deputy not travelling into agricultural policy on this amendment?
Well, Sir, the Minister seems to think it a grave trespass on the freedom of farmers to suggest that if they voluntarily elected to join the organisation of a joint district milk board that they should comply with certain prerequisites for registration. I am pointing out that it is no trespass on a man's freedom to say: "There is no obligation on you to join this at all. You can send your milk to the creamery or you can feed your milk to live stock on your own holding but if you want to send it for sale as liquid milk in Dublin (1) it is reasonable to provide that you should take precautions to ensure that it will be fit for human consumption, and (2) inasmuch as it is the Minister's duty every year to determine finally what the price payable for milk shall be to the supplier, it is reasonable for the Minister to say to the supplier: ‘When I come to that decision, I have got to have regard to what is an economic price for the consumer and I am obliged to take cognisance of the fact every year that half the producers for whom I am fixing prices are trying to make a living for themselves and their families out of cattle that will not give them a living. All I am concerned with is to provide that if I have got to take the added responsibility of fixing a price which will give the farmers a living, the farmers will facilitate me in making available to them cattle which will provide an annual milk yield sufficient to enable me to fix a reasonable price for milk and yet be satisfied in my own mind that the producers are getting a reasonable return for the work they do.'"
It is no infringement on a farmer's freedom to get his cows tested, more especially if that obligation put on him carries with it the understanding that where the test shows the cows he has to be uneconomic the Minister for Agriculture is prepared to replace them with economic cows and accept in exchange for three-year-old heifers about to calf, young cows in-calf to a double dairy bull, tested and proved to be non-reactors to the tuberculin test and inoculated against contagious abortion. I know it sounds irrational that every farmer confronted with an offer of that kind does not jump at it but the facts are that they do not jump at it. The facts are that you cannot get farmers to operate a cow-testing society. The facts are that every person in this House, who has any regard for the future of the agricultural industry and more especially for the milk industry, knows that the root of the whole problem is cow testing and the elimination of the uneconomic cow. Every Deputy in this House knows that for 25 years Ministers for Agriculture of every Administration have tried to devise plans to assist our farmers to eliminate the uneconomic cow. I am putting the proposition, not that there should be a general right in the Department to go into any man's holding and to impose cow testing on him but that where the farmer desires to engage in a branch of agriculture which involves the Minister for Agriculture in an annual obligation of fixing the price which the consumer must pay, the Minister should be entitled to say——
On a point of order. There is no provision in this Bill fixing the price which the consumer must pay.
This amendment, as far as I can see, endeavours to allow the milk boards to make a contribution towards schemes for increased production of milk. Deputy Dillon seems to me to be travelling very far from that.
The amendment is designed to empower the Minister to direct that milk suppliers shall, in certain circumstances, participate in certain schemes mentioned in the amendment.
That is all.
I was making the case which I have now finished—Deputy Lehane's solicitude for Standing Orders is very great—that if the Minister is fixing a price which the consumer must pay for milk——
The Minister has not, as far as I know, any authority under this Bill to fix a price which the consumers must pay. I understand that is a function of the Minister for Industry and Commerce under the Transfer of Functions Act.
The milk board annually proposes a price, and this goes to the Minister for Agriculture for final determination, or it did up to nearly 12 months ago. He annually makes a finding which may or may not endorse the recommendations of the milk board.
On a point of order. The function of the milk board is to determine what is an equitable price to be paid to producers, and not the price to be paid by consumers. The Deputy has been referring to the Minister fixing a price to be paid by consumers.
This Bill is entitled "Milk (Regulation of Supply and Price) (Amendment) Bill."
And not the price to be paid by the consumer.
This is Lenten time and therefore it is good for one's soul to restrain oneself. Under that restraint I simply commend the principle of this amendment to the Minister. He is manifestly not going to accept it now. I think he is foolish not to accept it or some form of it. I think he does the suppliers of the area a disservice by not accepting the amendment, and the industry as a whole a disservice, because I think it could have done in the milk supply areas of Dublin and Cork pioneering work which might have been reproduced in other parts of the country to the great advantage of farmers everywhere. I think he has a model of what might be done in the parish of Bansha. I can only hope that if he does not think well to accept the amendment, at least, the proposal enshrined in it will fructify in his mind, and that the purpose to be served by it will be achieved by some amendment which the Minister may hereafter evolve.
I think there is no necessity whatever for the amendment.
To save the Deputy time I will withdraw the amendment, as requested by the Minister.
The Deputy might also withdraw many of the expressions which he used on the Second Reading of the Bill.
I withdraw none of them. I repeat them categorically.
Why cave in like that after all the play-acting during the last hour? Section 3, to which this purports to be an amendment, provides that "the board for a joint district may, with the consent of the Minister, bear the whole or part of the cost of any scheme designed to secure the increased production of milk in the production district." Therefore the power is there already if the board wishes to use it for any scheme. Deputy Dillon, after all his talk about compulsion during the last three or four years, would like to make it obligatory now. I think that anybody who followed the Minister's explanation of what was meant by the section should feel satisfied that he is taking reasonable steps to increase the milk supply.
I agree with Deputy Dillon that it is a perfectly sound proposition to expect every farmer to be a member of a cow-testing association, or at least that he should test his own herd to his own satisfaction. I am satisfied, too, that every farmer worthy of the name knows the difference between a beef cow and a milch cow, and knows that because of the policy adopted by the Department over all the years he had no choice but to keep beef cows. Years ago, when Deputy Dillon was in opposition, he acknowledged the fact and made other suggestions as to how we could produce more milk, but when he became Minister he went over—head, neck and heels—to that policy. I suggest that there is sufficient power in Section 3 and that there is no necessity for the amendment. We have, added to that, the guarantee by the Minister which I expect he will repeat on the section and say that he is prepared to produce for the dairy herds in the milk board areas the services of dairy bulls, through the scheme of artificial insemination, to increase the production of milk in those areas. The amendment is not necessary because all those schemes put up by the boards will have to be sanctioned by whatever Minister is in power. That will be the time to debate this question.
I suggest that this would be an appropriate time for the Minister to indicate whether he is prepared to give representation to consumers under the constitution of these boards.
The section does not deal with the constitution of the boards.
I am speaking of representation for consumers.
The section does not deal with the constitution of the boards.
Surely, a case can be argued on the section. If the board is to have these powers, I respectfully submit that the case can be made that the board should have upon it a representative of consumers.
This Bill does not deal with the constitution of the board, and obviously it would be going outside the scope of the Bill if you dealt with the constitution of the board.
I could have put down an amendment with regard to the constitution of the board because the Minister did make comments on it when discussing the Bill.
The constitution of the board does not arise on this Bill. Therefore, how could the Deputy produce an amendment when the constitution of the board does not arise?
Surely it must arise.
Not on this Bill.
This Bill only deals with permission to expend moneys which have been collected and to give powers to the milk board which are held under Emergency Powers Orders. It does not deal with the reconstitution or the constitution of the board.
Surely it cannot be argued, when this Bill purports to give the board power in certain circumstances to sell milk and to deal in milk, that it is irrelevant to argue that that function can only be satisfactorily discharged if the board has upon it a representative of the consumers.
The net matter that is in the section is the only matter which can be discussed on the section. Obviously, one could raise such a point on almost any section of the Bill if that were to be allowed.
Surely it would be in order to put in an amendment to Section 4 that that section should only be operative if there is a representative of another interest on it.
The Bill does not deal with the constitution of the board, and I cannot widen the scope of the Bill.
As far as I can make out, the Minister's amendment covers the proposal I have in amendment No. 2, and so far as I am concerned, it is quite acceptable in lieu of my amendment.
I move amendment No. 3:—
Before sub-section (2) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
Notwithstanding sub-section (1) of this section, the board for a joint district shall not at any time engage in the business of selling milk unless, in the opinion of the Minister, there is or is likely to be either a surplus or a shortage of milk in the joint district.
What is the difference between the Minister's amendment and mine?
The only difference is the courts. If you do not accept my amendment and the Minister has not the jurisdiction to decide, then the only people who can decide are the courts.
As anex post facto decision.
A letter was read here from the Cork Milk Board, and I should like to tell the House that the Cork Milk Board agreed with the first part of that letter. With regard to the second part of the letter which was quoted by the Minister and which referred to Section 4 of the Bill, I do not think that was brought before the Cork Milk Board at all. The Cork Milk Board greatly appreciates the attention the Minister has given to the matter and the Bill in its present form will allow of the best handling of the milk supply problem. The position was that the Cork Milk Board agreed to this section of the Bill on a very definite undertaking of the chairman of the milk board that Section 4 did not mean what Deputy Dillon asserted the Bill did mean. Deputy Dillon, I understand, was the father of this Bill. The Bill was produced while he was in office.
To the best of my knowledge that is quite false.
There was a letter addressed to the Cork Milk Board in May last which said that the Bill had been prepared. The position any way is that we were told in Cork——
Will the Deputy quote the letter?
It was a letter addressed to the Cork Milk Board in May, 1951.
Would the Deputy not quote it?
As a member of the milk board, I know a letter came from the Department in May, 1951, in which it was stated that the Bill was there. The point I want to make is that we were told in Cork that Section 4 of the Bill did not mean all the things which the Minister who drafted the Bill and who initiated the Bill said it did mean. On that undertaking, the milk board sent this letter which was quoted.
I do not know whether this Deputy can go on saying that I drafted the Bill after I have told the House that I did not draft the Bill. I do not very much mind, but I think it is irregular.
If I am wrong, I apologise to the Deputy. I shall, therefore, refer to the Bill which was prepared in the Department in May, 1951. The point I want to make clear is that if Section 4 contains what Deputy Dillon asserted on the Second Reading it does contain the Cork Milk Board were misled when they sent the letter quoted by the Minister in his reply on the Second Reading. Personally, reading the Bill as well as I can, without having the legal knowledge necessary to have regard to all the aspects of it, I believe that the Bill does not contain the dangerous clauses which Deputy Dillon suggested on the Second Reading it does contain.
The Minister has just had an amendment passed.
It does not get over the point.
Quite frankly, I am not very happy about the section, as amended. I was not very happy about the amendment I put down. So far as the difference between the Minister's amendment and my amendment is concerned, I think it is better in a case like this to have the Minister's determination rather than the court's determination. There is no difference between the Minister and myself on that aspect of it. I am not, however, a bit happy that the section, as amended, does not give the board much too wide powers. I confess that I could not find any form of words which would meet the difficulty that there is undoubtedly in regard to a surplus during the flush period. The only thing which makes me suspicious about the whole performance is the way the Minister met the deputation of the farmers which went to see him.
If the Minister had sat down and discussed the matter in a calm way with them I would certainly feel far less inclined to try to parse every word of the section to see where is the catch, but when the deputation went to see him, the Minister, far from being co-operative, seized his staff of office and proceeded to belabour them with it as quickly as he could and as soon as he got them sitting down in his room. Then having done that, for the Minister to introduce the amendment makes me wonder what is at the back of it and it makes me suspect that this amendment that the Minister has now brought in in the guise of peace must conceal some method of making war. I want to say that if the Minister really means what he said in the Seanad and here, as regards what he wanted the board to have powers to do, then it was very unfortunate that when the farmers went to see him as a deputation he left them going out with the realisation, with the knowledge and with the impression that they had merely been kicked around his room and that he refused to co-operate with them in any way at all.
I think that is absolutely wrong in connection with the deputation coming to see me. I pointed out when I met that deputation that there was nothing objectionable in the Bill, section by section. Many of them did seem to be under the impression that Section 4 was a very damaging section as far as the milk producers were concerned. I told them they should have no fear. Due to the constitution of the boards, Dublin and Cork, there was no need for any fears regarding this Bill. They had a majority on those boards.
That is not true and I demonstrated that the other day. There are 14 members on the Dublin Milk Board, seven are producers and seven are not, and the member who has the casting vote is not a producer.
Surely the Minister is not making the case that he does not want powers under this section to deal with a milk strike?
That is quite true and I will take the powers.
Do you want powers under this Bill?
No. I do not need them. I have them already. Many of the people who came to see me on the deputation believe that we are putting something into this Bill that was harmful to them. I pointed out to the deputation that if they feared a strike that we already had powers. That is not the purpose of this Bill from start to finish. The purpose of Section 4 was to bring all these powers in under the one section. There are a number of emergency powers and as far as the milk board is concerned, any powers that it had in that regard they wanted them covered in this Bill. That was the reason why we had any trouble with the deputation. As far as any other matter was concerned there was no difficulty.
I am in favour of giving the Minister these powers, but I think it is very shocking that the Minister should do what I cannot help feeling the Minister for Agriculture is doing now, and that is, misleading the House.
I am not misleading the House.
The Minister's amendment is designed to give powers to the board to buy and sell milk. He wishes to put beyond doubt the legality of the procedure adopted in certain circumstances. I think that any Government, in the event of a milk strike in a rural area and if it became necessary to collaborate with the county council to maintain minimal supplies of milk for infants and other vulnerable sections of the community would have to take action. So far as I know such steps were taken. The legality of those steps was gravely open to question in retrospect. When the row started in Cork last Christmas 12 months, it was suggested that similar steps would have to be taken in collaboration with the Mayor and Corporation of Cork to maintain central milk supplies to protect vulnerable sections of the community such as infants and delicate individuals against absolute famine. It was in that context that it was decided that it was necessary to put the legality of this procedure beyond doubt by legislation. I believe that is the origin of Section 4 which I did not draft but which, had I remained Minister for Agriculture, I would have drafted in its amended form and brought to this House and recommended it to the House.
I do not think it is becoming when you have a difficult recommendation to make to the Legislature, to try to get the Legislature to enact something by persuading the Deputies that they are not doing what they are in fact doing. There is no doubt that Section 4, as amended, is meant to deal with a situation in which the Minister for Agriculture perfectly legitimately may say: "I apprehend a shortage of milk in the Dublin City sales area." Having declared the apprehensions present to his mind, Section 4 comes into operation and the milk board may buy and sell milk. Now, if that was not the purpose that was present to the Minister's mind why does he seek power to bring Section 4 into operation not only in a situation of surplus but in a situation of shortage as well? I think the Minister should have these powers and would not be capable of discharging his duties if he had not these powers. I do not agree with those who suggest that he has some intention in his mind of suppressing the milk suppliers. I think that is all cod. The Minister for Agriculture is the Minister for the milk producers, and will in every conceivable contingency that arises be the Minister who will defend the interests of the milk producers against a variety of powerful interests that are often arrayed against him. But apart from his duty of defending the farmers and milk suppliers he must also arm himself with powers to do unpopular things if it becomes necessary to do them. Certainly if I were Minister I would seek the powers the present Minister is seeking. It is not right, however, to ask the House to give these powers under false pretences, and the Minister ought to admit to the House that in a situation of impending shortage arising out of a milk strike Section 4 would be invoked by him to authorise the milk boards to act in order to maintain supplies which were indispensable.
It is only the absolute certainty that Deputy James Dillon will never again be Minister for Agriculture in this country and will never have the opportunity of doing those grand things for the farmers——
What has this to do with the section?
I am giving the reasons why I am leaving Section 4 go. That is the main reason why I am letting it go.
Let it go, and give the Minister his Bill.
I am absolutely certain that Deputy Dillon would never become Minister for Agriculture again, although he has a 75 per cent. support in his own Party.
You will never get the job anyhow.
Would the Deputy come to the section as amended?
It is not the amendment, Sir. It is the section.
It is the section, as amended.
That is my main reason for letting the section go.
Mr. Dillon's name is not in the section.
The poor creatures are terrified of me.
We are frightened of Deputy James Dillon.
Give the Minister his Bill.
Deputy Corry is making a most intelligent contribution.
I would like if this could remain over until next week, until we have an opportunity of reading a letter which was sent down by Deputy James Dillon to the Cork Milk Board, when he was Minister for Agriculture. That is the only reason I would be anxious to keep the Bill over. We will get the letter and bring it in here.
That is a most intelligent contribution.
I wish to refer to the matters raised by Deputy Dillon in connection with Section 4. The power which we are embodying in this Bill was in existence under the Emergency Powers Act. If there is a shortage of milk in the future the milk board is empowered, acting on the instructions of the Minister for Agriculture, to obtain a supply of milk. That position will arise and, no matter what Minister is in office, he is going to have that power, and he will exercise it if the necessity arises. Reasons other than a strike may cause a shortage of milk. It may arise for diverse reasons, for instance, transport difficulties or weather conditions. Therefore, the board must be given power to buy milk should there be a shortage in any part of the city, or to distribute it if there is a surplus. The board must be empowered to deal with shortages or surpluses. That is all we are asking for. I moved this amendment in order to meet the wishes of Deputies Cosgrave and Sweetman, and I am asking the House to agree to it.
Would the Minister give me a little information on this? Am I right in assuming that the amendment, as it now stands, means that the Minister must certify in writing his opinion that verbal direction is not sufficient? I think there is a suggestion somewhere that where the Minister has expressed his opinion, in face of a statute, that opinion must be certified in some way under his hand.
That is to say that where the Minister is going to give his opinion as to a surplus or a shortage it is to be in respect of a reasonable period of time, or is the Minister going to be in a position to be able to say: "I think there is likely to be a surplus or shortage during a period of the year ending on the 30th April, and therefore I am giving the board acarte blanche certificate for the whole year.” I want to be perfectly clear about what I read into this section. The case of a shortage which is occurring or which is likely to occur must be considered.
When a shortage or a surplus occurs, the Minister will give his authority.
It is not merely when it arises, but when it is likely to arise.
Is there agreement now between the Minister and the ex-Minister that the ex-Minister's interpretation of the Bill was correct?
Is there agreement that the Bill has the powers that we were told in Cork that it had not?
If the Deputy would read the Bill he would discover that when Senator Quirke said I drafted the Bill he was wrong, and that when Senator Quirke said that this Bill had no power in it to break strikes, he was wrong.
That is a wrong attitude to take up regarding a Bill which is not introduced for that purpose at all. This has been read into the Bill by people who read something into it to suit themselves. There is no intention by any Minister for Agriculture to use his powers in order to thwart or do harm to the producers.
I feel that what the Minister has said has, to a great extent, clarified the position. Deputy Dillon is endeavouring to be mischievous by suggesting that the Bill can confer powers on the board, if there is a strike or a general withdrawing of milk by the producers. Everybody will acknowledge that if there is a withdrawal of milk by the producers there are certain essential services which will have to be carried on by the operation of some emergency powers. I will put it to the House that the producers of milk would be satisfied and would be desirous of seeing those services carried on, but these services would not have the effect of breaking a strike. The supply of milk to the consumers in this city could be carried on under emergency conditions which would be provided by the milk board or any other body of this kind carrying on the distribution of milk. Such a body would step into the gap in the same way as did the Army lorries during the transport strike. The purpose of this particular section, as I see it, is to ensure that nobody would die for the want of milk. If the powers are used there will be a certain amount of inconvenience, but the inconvenience will result in consideration being given to the producers.
There is not only the question of the producers. There is also a question of a strike among the distributive milk producers which might arise in just the same way. It would operate from the other side. I can see that farmers would have milk which might go to waste. What I am still worried about is this: I cannot understand why, if the Minister intended this amendment in the spirit in which he has put it to the House to-day, he was so damned insolent and rude to the deputation who came to see him.
That is your suspicious mind.
I was not on the deputation but I understood that if I was there I could expect the Minister to be extremely rude to me. One of the things which one gets in politics is a thick hide to put up with that type of thing. We get used to that when we have certain people in public life.
There was nobody rude to them.
It is an extraordinary thing that all who came out from that meeting were convinced that the Minister, his words and deportment had grievously insulted them. If I were allowed in this House to refer to the other people who were present I would include them too, but I am not.
I cannot understand why we are suddenly getting thin skinned.
That is quite true.
Nobody is quarrelling with the fact that certain powers are being given under Section 4 which are absolutely necessary. Why should we get cross over them if Deputy Cogan wants to justify himself? We are giving these powers deliberately, as responsible people, to the Minister. We feel they are necessary but Deputy Cogan's contribution from that point of view was a rash one. If, as the situation may arise, there is difficulty on the producers' side that calls for direct intervention by the Minister, he should have these powers. Deputy Sweetman has pointed out what might arise on the other side. Deputy Cogan spoke about the power to break strikes but circumstances may arise under which it may be far more important to see that milk is given to the people rather than see what the rights and wrongs of an individual hold-up may be. I think we should not apologise for giving these powers that we, as responsible Deputies, feel would be necessary in certain circumstances. But I feel that if the Minister had come into the House like a man and asked for those powers he would have got them.
I might mention to Deputy Collins that if Deputy Cogan reads the debates he will find that the Minister and his colleagues spent their time in the Seanad tearing a passion to tatters and protesting that Section 4 did not mean what they now admit it does mean. They got the Bill through the Seanad by swearing before Heaven that such an impious thought had never occurred to them and that only a person with a bad mind would put that interpretation on it. They said that this was a Bill that the Minister had inherited from his predecessor and that he was coming in like an innocent ewe lamb and putting it before the Seanad. When somebody suggested that this other intention was meant, hysterics is a mild word to describe the state into which the Minister and his colleagues got in the Seanad. I do not blame certain Deputies, who heard rumours that there might be a general election before or immediately after the Budget, building up all kinds of half milk and water alibis to which they can refer. If the Minister so conducts himself he must not blame his motley army if they assume the raiment and conduct of their general. That is why I would urge the Minister to approach these matters in future with the dignity and sense of responsibility that the very high office he at present holds requires a man to have if he is to be worthy of his job.
I want to oppose this section. I oppose it on the grounds that the Cork Milk Board was led completely astray and was induced to send the letter which was used both in the Seanad and in the Dáil for the purpose of having the Second Reading of this Bill passed. Having heard the statement of the Minister for Agriculture now with reference to that letter and to the things that the Cork Milk Board were told by the Minister's representatives, I must oppose the section formally.
The Dublin Milk Board, I might add, were also told that this section did not mean what the Minister now says it means.
On that section, I think we could talk about the quality and the thinness of the milk. I think there should be very strict regulations in that connection. The medical officer in Cork issued a report during the month in which he said that of 1,857 samples taken there were over 600 fairly clean.
That is wrong.
One hundred and twenty-five of them were between fairly clean and dirty. I am not so much concerned with the cleanness of the milk as I am with the bacteria in the milk. We are anxious to have representation on the board from the Cork Corporation. I am not a member of the Cork Corporation, but I should like to see representatives on the board from the Cork Corporation—people who were elected by the vote of the citizens. I am not satisfied that there is sufficient supervision in regard to the giving of licences to people.
Would the Deputy tell us what was the report on the bacteria?
I have not the report before me now.
What Deputy Lehane has said seems to contradict what he told us on the report.
The milk sold as loose milk was, in fact, better than the highest grade.
I think Deputy Hickey should brush up his knowledge on the matter by referring to the questions that were asked by Deputy Dr. Browne and the replies that were given.
And very unsatisfactory they were too.
If the Deputy does that, it will give him a bit of enlightenment on the particular class of milk that Deputy Dillon had in mind to give the citizens of Cork.
The Deputy tried to strave the citizens of Cork and to keep the milk from them.
The Deputy should not mind the people of Cork at all since we look after them well. With regard to the report that Deputy Hickey has mentioned, I do not know whether it is this highest grade milk that is meant in this section. I have a different idea altogether of what is meant by highest grade milk in the Department.
Has the Deputy got a copy of the report to which Deputy Hickey referred?
Has the Deputy got it there?
Will the Deputy oblige the House by reading the report?
I gave a certain document to Deputy Dillon before but he did not leave it to his successor.
What document was that?
The report of the Cork milk costings.
That was dealt with. Let us pay no attention to the poor man.
Let us get back to the section.
On the section. Testimony of a very specific character has been given by Deputy Lehane, setting out his version of his recollection of a very important report on milk samples which were taken. If my memory serves me well, Deputy Lehane mentioned that some hundreds of milk samples were taken and that one sample was found unsatisfactory.
I said that one sample out of 1,800 odd was reported as "very dirty" and that 125 were reported as "dirty."
I do not remember the 125, but the impression I received was that, out of several hundreds, one was condemned. Later on, Deputy Hickey comes along, not knowing what Deputy Lehane has said. He gives a version of the report which does not tally with that of Deputy Lehane—Deputy Lehane's version of the report having been used as a peg on which to hang a brisk denunciation of me. Then Deputy Corry leaps into the fray, report in hand. I asked Deputy Corry to read the report so that we might hear the true version, but Deputy Corry will not do so.
Might I suggest that this discussion is out of order?
Read the report.
On a previous occasion Deputy Dillon availed of an opportunity to criticise the farmers who are producing milk for Cork City. He spoke of this report and he said that he would bring it in here. Let him do so now. He was Minister for Agriculture for three years.
You will not read it?
Why should I waste my time?
On the Second Reading of this Bill, Deputy Dillon challenged the Cork milk producers to say the amount of dirty milk coming into Cork. In reply to that challenge I said that, according to a report of the medical officer of health, out of 1,800 odd samples taken one sample was described as "very dirty" and "125"— approximately 6 per cent. of the samples taken — were described as "dirty."
Now you have the report there.
I stand over the figures I have quoted.
This has nothing to do with the section.
According to the estimate made this month by the medical officer of health for Cork City, out of 1,857 samples taken, over 600 were not very clean, 125 were described as "dirty" and one "very dirty." All the milk from which these 125 samples were taken is not going to the one house. I hope that the Minister and the milk board will ensure that the most strict regulations are observed so that nobody will get a licence to send that type of milk into the homes of the citizens of Cork.
Amendment No. 5 is out of order.
Is it out of order?
It is not relevant to the text of the present Bill.
What about amendment No. 6?
It is out of order.
Have we not extended in Section 5 for another purpose?
Where is the extension?
Does Section 5 not give an extension in respect of highest grade milk?
This is an extension of period. People who had not been supplying milk for 15 years may now come in and supply it. One is an extension of time and the other of area.
This section deals with offences and reads as follows:—
"Where an offence under any section or sub-section contained in Part II of the Act of 1936, in the Act of 1941 or in this Act is committed in a joint district, such offence may be prosecuted by or at the suit of the board for such district as prosecutor."
Here, I think, is a very suitable occasion for Deputy Corry to read for us the report, of which he has a copy in his hand, describing the allegations made by the medical officer of health for Cork City relating to certain samples of milk which he took and the delivery of which to customers in Cork would constitute, I imagine, an offence of the kind envisaged by this section. If Deputy Corry will not read it then perhaps Deputy Lehane will. I should like to get the truth. I think Deputy Lehane will sympathise with me in that we have heard more than one version of this report—and we should like the Deputies who gave these versions to have an opportunity of giving the House——
This is not relevant to this Bill.
Why? It deals with offences. Is the delivery of dirty milk not an offence?
You are dealing with quality——
Is the delivery of dirty milk not an offence?
It is, of course, but that is not relevant to this Bill.
I want Deputy Lehane to read the report.
Let Deputy Dillon read the Bill.
I should like Deputy Dillon to tell us the reason for all the shouting on the earlier section.
What about the row between Deputy Corry and Deputy McGrath?
Apparently they had to make it up.
Jack-of-all-trades and master of none.