I think we were discussing amendments Nos. 8 and 9 together last night, because amendment No. 9 proposes a new section in Part II. I was not quite sure what the attitude of the Minister was on this. I know that he confessed that he would not have known of the existence of a separate totalisator form of betting under the title of "Tote Investors." I hope, since he discovered that——
Greyhound Industry Bill, 1955—Committee Stage (Resumed).
I am now fully briefed on all the intricacies.
That does not mean the Minister is fully satisfied and I want him to be fully satisfied that these amendments are worthy of acceptance.
Since yesterday, I have been doing a little research and I dug up a report of the committee of inquiry into the issue of totalisator licences for greyhound racetracks in—as it was then described—the Irish Free State. This document was finally produced in July, 1932, and it gives a very considerable amount of valuable information as a result of the investigations. I would like to say at this stage that this was an inquiry held in public, not in secret, so that we know the sources of evidence.
Paragraph (10) of that report—and I am quoting from the document— says:—
"Evidence was given before us to the effect that the totalisator provided the ideal system of betting, inasmuch as it was restricted in its operations to cash betting and excluded credit betting, with its attendant evils."
The first amendment, No. 8, seeks to prevent, on the authority of the board, the setting up of any form of credit totalisator betting and that can only happen as far as they can control the area over which they have control, that is, inside the track where the totalisator exists. At the same time, I want the Bill to make it unlawful for any other group of people, without the consent of this board, to set up credit totalisator betting outside the greyhound racing track. Therefore, the two amendments are similar. If the Minister would say now he accepts that, it would save me a lot of trouble and argument and save me reading a lot of extracts from this document. If the Minister, at this stage, would indicate whether he has objections to it, I am willing to listen.
I want to be perfectly frank with the Deputy and the House. I have no strong views on this and I would not want to coerce the mind of any member of my own Party or any Party supporting the Government in regard to this matter. I think it is a matter upon which any two honest men could have a fair difference of opinion. I think I am right in saying, as Deputy Briscoe has already said, that the two amendments together operate to prohibit credit betting on greyhound racetracks. Let us take it on that broad basis.
The considerations that occurred to me are quite simply these. If you think it is right to prohibit credit betting in greyhound racing, why do you think it right only to prohibit in respect of totalisators? Should it not be prohibited in respect of bookmakers as well? That is one consideration. The second consideration is this. If a chap is going to ruin himself by wagering improvidently on races, I often think that the sooner he gets into deep water, is unable to meet his commitments and gets warned off racetracks altogether, the better it is for himself. The worst that can happen to him, if he runs up an account with the bookmaker or the totalisator far beyond his capacity to pay, is that he will be unable to pay on settling day and he will be reported to the appropriate authority and warned off tracks altogether thenceforward.
I am not sure that is not a good thing for a fellow who cannot enjoy an evening's sport and confine his wagering to a figure well within that which he may legitimately put at hazard. On the other hand, I can see Deputy Briscoe's point of view, that if a fellow goes to the races and has £2 or £3 in his pocket and, when that is gone, temptation is out of his way, whereas if he has opened a credit account with a bookmaker or a totalisator, when he spends the £2 or £3, he may be tempted to retrieve his losses on the last race and plunge up to his neck far beyond where he would have gone if, in fact, he had been prevented from betting for the want of credit facilities.
On the whole, I personally take the view that nothing we can do here can reasonably be expected to settle the private affairs of any of our fellow citizens. The proper thing to do is to let things take their course and not try to extend an avuncular umbrella over improvident persons, but rather face the fact that the sooner improvident persons are excluded from racetracks altogether, the better it will be for everybody.
That is the way I would opt if this were put to a division, but I would not have the slightest hard feelings against anybody who took the opposite view. I would fully understand their approach as well, but I would ask Deputy Briscoe to give us the benefit of his views. Does he think there is something in the argument that, if a chap is going to spend too much on betting, it is better to leave him get up to his neck at once and then let him be warned off altogether, rather than to have him——
On the nod.
——grasping the housekeeping money and putting his hands on everything he can and going off to the racetrack and losing it? Is there not something in that? If you want to stop credit betting as a social evil, how can you say you ought to let it go on with the bookmaker, if you stop it with the totalisator? I do not understand that. Is it not just as dangerous for people to have credit facilities with a bookmaker as with the totalisator?
My feeling is, on balance, that you cannot protect a fellow from himself by legislation, and, therefore, the first thing is to leave everybody free, in the knowledge that, if they get out of their depth, they will be warned off for all time, and probably in their own interests, it is best that they should.
I am interested to hear the Minister's point of view in relation to the suggestions in these amendments, but I am afraid I cannot agree with the Minister, because I do not think he knows, from his own personal experience, much about this game. First of all, the Minister must accept that, in the case of the totalisator and betting transactions, it is a purely impersonal matter, but, in the case of betting transactions between, say, myself and a bookmaker, it is a purely personal transaction.
In most cases, a person backs with a person who is known to him—a bookmaker. That must be accepted. The bookmaker is not in business for the public benefit. He is in the business as a business and he has to be prudent, in so far as he gives credit to a client. I can tell the Minister that I know without doubt that in most cases bookmakers do not encourage backers to get out of their depth. If they know of a case such as the one cited by the Minister, where a person takes the housekeeping money, they do not want to have any business with him. That is my own personal experience and I am satisfied I am correct on it.
The Minister says it exists with the bookmakers. That is true, but he does not say it could be regarded as an evil; but it does not exist with this particular tote because this tote does not exist. I say it is far more dangerous to have this impersonal kind of situation than to add to the other business. I must refer the Minister to the last part of paragraph (10), page 7 of the document to which I referred.
"... Section 3 (6) of the Totalisator Act, 1929, provides in effect that wherever the totalisator is in operation bookmakers must also be allowed to operate and that thus the same facilities for credit betting would still exist side by side with the totalisator."
I want to say, first of all, that in regard to the case of credit betting on a totalisator, there is the possibility of its being inside a greyhound racing track under the control of the board, but there is also, as amendment No. 9 points out, the possibility that a few of us could get together and set up a credit betting shack outside the greyhound racing track, with a number of telephones. I might be at home reading the paper and see that a particular little dog has a good chance of winning. Five minutes before the "off," I ring up the tote investors and make a bet. The following night I try to recover my losses, but the difference between the bookmaker and the punter on the one hand, and the tote and the punter on the other, is that, if I go to a bookmaker, he tells me what he is going to pay me. The Minister cited four-to-one odds yesterday and for the present we will take those odds. I go to him and say: "I want £1 on this dog." He says: "My price is four-to-one," and then I put on my money. I know what I am likely to get, if the dog wins. But when I go to the window of the tote, or to the credit business, I have not the foggiest idea what the odds are going to be.
The bookmaker may have this dog listed on his board at four-to-one and I might get a point over, depending on how many people have backed. The bookmaker regulates his prices in accordance with his business. If he holds a considerable amount of money on one particular dog, he reduces the odds, and, if I do not like it, I might find another bookmaker with better odds. But the bookmaker has to regulate his book so that he can pay at the end. In the tote, they do not give a hang. The Minister and myself can go and put on our money on some dog on the tote, and all we can get back is our own money, if we are the only two persons backing that dog.
I think I can correct the Deputy there. If we were the only individuals backing the dog, we would get a lot more back than our money.
We would get it back less 10 per cent. in tax. We would get no profit. On the one hand, as I have said, you have the impersonal side of it, with the unknown odds, the added gamble. There is a sufficiently big gamble in backing your dog, but now you are going to have an added gamble that, if your dog does win, you are waiting till the odds go up, wondering what it is going to pay. Sometimes we are very disillusioned when we see the odds.
The Minister talked about this improvident person, and I say that we have a duty towards him, if there is anything in what the Minister says— and mind you, a lot of people agree with him—that the smaller the facilities for credit betting the better. I agree with him, but I do not agree with him to the extent of saying that what already has grown up as a well-known practice and well-conducted business is objectionable.
I am sure that if I went to a bookmaker and said: "I want to have £5,000 on the winner, on this horse for the National," the bookmaker would say: "You and who else?" if I was looking for credit, because he would know that I could not afford to have £5,000 on a horse; but if, while I am busy here in Dáil Éireann, I am interested in having a little flutter— and I am sure the Minister would feel the same way about it—say, on the Derby, on so and so, I can go to the phone, ring up some bookmaker who knows me and whom I know, and say: "I would like to have 2/6 on this horse". What is this horse that was named here and that none of us accepted the tip? It was the Leader of this Party who gave a tip on Derby Day without knowing it when he said "Never Say Die". When I went to put my 2/6 on "Never Say Die", I would be glad to know that I was able to do it because of those credit facilities and that I was able to do it with somebody who knew me, and to know that if the horse won at 20-to-1, I would get 20 half-crowns, without having to pay my own 2/6.
I would like the Minister to recognise the different stages. I will go that far with him, that, without the individual control of the individual bookmaker with regard to his client, it would be bad to introduce an additional method of credit betting. The Minister will recollect that, recently on a Bill in this House, the Lotteries and Gaming Bill, I sought to have some protection for bookmakers for the purpose of the recovery of bad debts. I did not succeed. But can you imagine what the position is going to be if there are defaulters on the totalisator? How is the totalisator going to recover losses from defaulters and pay the people who wager the proper legitimate odds which they are entitled to, on the basis of the calculations made? Is it not obvious that they will have to find a way to build up a fund against bad debts? Consequently, the Minister will be introducing into this system what I would regard as something, again, that is not equitable.
Those are my answers to the intervention of the Minister. I think I am not misinterpreting him when I say that he has gone so far as to indicate last night and again this evening that he would be prepared to leave this to a free vote. I am not saying that the Minister committed himself to that, but he was prepared to consider it. I was going a bit further. Let the Minister accept the amendment, because I think it is more important that it be accepted in that form than on what is called a free vote. Certainly if the Minister were to make that suggestion this evening, I would have to keep on fighting these amendments until 10.30, because most of our troops will not be back until next Wednesday.
The suggestion I made was that the Deputy might withdraw the amendments and let our colleagues read the two sides of the story, as discussed here, in the Official Report, so that by the Report Stage everybody would have considered the arguments proposed.
If that is the Minister's view, I want to say this, that at this stage I would not be prepared to withdraw, because I want to adduce all the arguments I can, and I hope that some of my colleagues will fortify and strengthen them much more than the little I am able to do. The Minister says, and I agree with him, that we do not want to introduce any additional methods, that credit betting is bad, but because it exists in a limited way in regard to bookmakers, we might as well leave it as it is. His position, if I might respectfully suggest it, I would not regard as quite logical. He says: "I do not like, in the public interest, credit betting because evil can arise from it, but because it exists to the limited extent it does and is in the hands of the individuals who control it, very well, let it go rip altogether." I say, on that argument alone, the Minister should concede the point I am making, but I have given him a lot of other arguments, and at this stage I think the Minister should be able to say that both these amendments are necessary and will be accepted.
There is just one point of view I would like to put to the House with regard to this matter which arises partly out of what Deputy Briscoe said. I myself do certainly with regard to greyhound racing say that, if there was a feasible method of restricting credit betting altogether, I would be taking up the attitude with regard to these amendments that I would approve of them, and I would suggest that, in addition to restricting credit betting on the tote, you should also abolish or restrict it with regard to bookmakers. I honestly do not believe, however, that you would ever be able to devise an enforceable method of preventing a bookmaker from making a credit bet, either on the course or in his S.P. office on greyhound racing. If I thought you could, I would be suggesting to the Minister not only to accept these amendments, but to add to them himself, and to say that credit betting on a totalisator or with bookmakers, either on the course or off the course, shall be illegal. I think there is great weight in the suggestion that you cannot avoid a certain amount of credit betting with the bookmakers and that it may cut down the general volume of it to prevent it on the tote.
I make that suggestion on one proposition, of the validity of which I have no personal knowledge. It has been suggested to me that Tote Investors, as they operate at present, are much more lenient with the amount of credit they give, and the people to whom they would give credit, than the average hard-headed bookmaker. It is suggested that, strange as it may seem—one normally expects a firm to be a bit harder than a personal entrepreneur such as a bookmaker— they operate the only credit totebetting operating in this country and that they are much more lenient and take much harder knocks, proportionately, than any bookmaker. I have not heard anything to the contrary and I have not any information myself which either confirms or repudiates it.
If it is true that a man may be in the position of going to a bookmaker with no money in his pocket, and that taking his average luck, the bookmaker will say: "No, I am not dealing with you. You are not a good risk" and if the same man is likely to be able to go to Tote Investors, even once, and put the same bet on the credit with them then I can see a lot in what the Minister says about the improvident man who has the bug and who will ruin himself and that possibly it is better for himself and his family if he does so quickly. The less extreme case is the man who will go to a meeting and lose maybe what he brought with him on the first two races and who, if he cannot get accommodation, will either go home or remain and watch as a spectator for the rest of the evening and then come back again the next week and bring a few more pounds or a few more shillings with him. If he can get credit on the tote where he would not get it from a hard-headed bookmaker, then I suggest to the Minister that these amendments might be worth while.
There is another suggestion in relation to which I should like some investigation and the validity of which I do not know at all. There is a suggestion that, at present, on the timing of the S.P. operating of the credit tote system, it seems most unlikely that a proportion of the bets which the credit tote accepts ever pass into the tote. In other words, it is suggested that you can ring up, at 27 minutes past three, the credit tote in the middle of the city and get a sizable bet on with them for a race starting at 3.30 and that it is most unlikely, on the timing and the figures, that that bet is ever passed into the tote itself. I do not know if that is true. The suggestion is made. It would not apply to the credit tote on the course; presumably it will pass in every bet it gets. If the suggestion is true, you are betting on the tote but you are not paying 10 per cent. of the funds to the board concerned.
It may be, as a side issue on all this question of credit betting on the tote, that there would be an appreciable loss, though not a great loss, to the funds eventually going into the board controlling it and the industry generally because of the existence of credit tote betting. In other words, they are basing their prices not as S.P. but on the tote, without paying their 10 per cent. If that is so, it would be an added reason for being against credit betting. I am only partly persuaded at present that the credit tote is likely to be a more lenient credit giver than a hard-headed bookmaker and, though it may only be a half measure, it might be worth while particularly in regard to greyhound racing.
The Minister has brought up a very important point in connection with the improvident man who is on the downward path so far as betting is concerned. The idea the Minister expressed is that it is as well to put him out of pain as quickly as possible and finish him off as far as betting is concerned. I do not think we should make the downward path any easier for any man to pursue. If you have credit betting as it is at the moment with the bookmakers—personally, I do not believe they should have it—I do not believe it should be extended to the tote under any circumstances. I recollect distinctly, when the Gaming and Lotteries Bill was introduced here, that Deputy Briscoe and myself did not see eye to eye on an amendment which he introduced at one stage by which he endeavoured to protect bookmakers from the depredations of people who welshed or failed to pay bets they lost. My argument at the time was that these bookmakers were taking a chance and that if they were protected by being allowed to proceed to the courts afterwards to recover their losses you would only encourage credit betting. The fact that you limited bookmakers and gave them no protection under the Gaming and Lotteries Act makes them more cautious and certainly helps to stop the gentleman who is anxious to throw away what, in fact, he has not got.
Deputy Finlay is quite right, I think, in his remarks about extending it to the tote if we find that it is impossible to limit credit betting with the bookmakers. If that cannot be arranged— and it is very hard to see the legal machinery whereby you can accomplish it—I do not think it is fair to extend that privilege of credit betting outside the limit the bookmakers have at the moment. We had a discussion here—I do not think the Minister himself was present when it was thrashed out—about the terrible evils committed through the playing of "pongo," roulette, and so forth. We heard talk of wives and children suffering because of the gambling instinct. Steps were taken in this House to limit to the tightest degree possible opportunities for small income groups to indulge even in a game of "pongo." I think a sixpenny limit was imposed on them in that particular game.
I can visualise some of the gentlemen who would like to take up a phone and put a £50 or £100 bet on a particular horse or dog. It may be awkward for those people to send down a messenger to a bookie's office, but I think that privilege should be limited as much as possible so as to make it as awkward as possible. Though it may be awkward for the gentleman who has plenty of money, by tightening up the position on him you will protect, in so far as it is possible to do so, the man who cannot afford to put on a credit bet, although that opportunity may be given to him. Take Deputy Briscoe's point. If he wishes to put on a bet of 2/6 on the Derby, my argument is that we should not facilitate him, if at all possible, and that it would be better to suggest to him that he should send out a messenger.
There might not be enough messengers for all the gamblers in the House.
He could get the Chief Whip to take the bets outside the House, but I know perfectly well it is not practicable to impose restrictions on credit betting, as far as bookmakers are concerned. I am of the opinion, however, that this House should not at this stage make it still easier for the man who is weak and easily tempted to have the privilege of credit betting with the totalisator.
I think my approach is probably the right one. There are very cogent arguments on both sides. Deputy Finlay posed the arguments in a way which would most strongly influence the mind of any reasonable person. If I were to have a division on these two amendments to-night, I would vote against them in a free vote; but I can well understand Deputy Finlay going into the opposite lobby and fully appreciate his view and think nothing wrong that both of us should differ on a matter of this kind. As Deputy Briscoe said, he is not particularly anxious to put an amendment of this kind to a division this evening for a variety of reasons, which I fully understand. I think there would be an advantage in withdrawing the amendments now and letting our colleagues read the report of this debate—they will have an opportunity of doing so before this day week—and then put down the two amendments and let there be a free vote, every man voting as he thinks wise and prudent.
I think the Minister overlooks one practical difficulty, that is, there has been no discussion on the amendments so far, at least no discussion that one could describe as closely-knit and closely reasoned. The House is almost empty for the usual reason; it happens to be the time when most people are in the restaurants. Now there was a rather long debate on the Bill which preceded this one, but we have not had, as I have said, any reasoned or close-knit discussion on these amendments at all. The only way in which it would be practicable to allow the amendments to be discussed would be to withdraw them, on the promise that the Minister would allow the Bill to be recommitted for the purpose of discussing these amendments when we put them down again. That might, of course, involve us in a considerable user of Parliamentary time.
I really think that we have not visualised what the position is likely to be if we simply withdraw the amendments now and have a perfunctory division upon them some time later on the Report Stage. After all, the value of the Committee Stage is that you enter the argument as soon as it is made. In the case of a debate on Report, you have not got that opportunity. I am very sorry to hear the Minister say that if there were a free vote at this moment on these amendments, he would vote against them. I do not know whether he has considered what a great temptation the facility for credit betting on the totalisator, in the way in which it is offered on the racecourse at the present moment, really represents. A person who wants to bet on the tote in the ordinary way has to have his money in his pocket. In most cases, if he wants to make a bet with a bookmaker, he has to have his money in his pocket, or the bookmaker must have good reason to believe he has the money in the bank. A person who, without any sort of introduction, can walk into the offices of the totalisator and make a bet will, under this system, get his bill at the end of the month and he will have forgotten what the bets were.
At the end of the week— I know that much.
At the end of the week, he will have forgotten what the bets were. It seems to me that that is bad when you have race-meetings at not too frequent intervals. But, remember, here in the City of Dublin, you would have a dog meeting every evening, six evenings in the week, and on each occasion you would have the facilities for credit betting available. People might be rushing out on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and their opportunities for betting are quickly exhausted, if they have to make cash bets. If they are going to be in the position of walking in and betting "on the nod" with the totalisator, one can easily visualise what the result will be in many cases. People will be tempted to enter into commitments which they cannot meet.
There is another aspect. I do not know precisely how the totalisator credit betting will be controlled. Is a monopoly to be conferred on a group? Is it the greyhound industry board that will operate the totalisator credit, or will it be the monopoly of some persons who get facilities for operating totalisator credit betting on racetracks? I think that is an aspect of the matter which requires some consideration. These people would be getting facilities denied to everybody else and these are facilities, too, which can lend themselves to abuse. If a substantial bet is going on with a bookmaker, the man who is making the bet makes it as a rule in open court, so to speak. If the big money is going on, one finds the bookmakers' odds change very rapidly to match. In the case of the totalisator, on the other hand, quite substantial bets can be placed and can be held until the last minute. Any person who has been to a race-meeting will see the ordinary punter, who is betting in a small way, watching to see how many units there are in the pool; then, quite suddenly, the whole thing is upset because of the totalisator credit coming on. The picture changes completely.
In the position which might exist, when the totalisator is established on the greyhound racing tracks, I think there would be many opportunities offered for people to bring off coups which they could not possibly bring off, if they were betting openly with bookmakers. Deputy Finlay referred to yet another aspect of this matter. He mentioned the fact that one can get a late bet on at the totalisator credit and it is possible that the levy will not be paid on these bets at all through the totalisator. The problem that will arise there is how will the totalisator credit system finance itself? After all, if you make a bet on Monday and the bill is presented at the end of the week, or on the following Monday, in the meantime there is 5 per cent. on that bet owing to the greyhound industry board.
How will that be financed? Apparently, the only way in which it can be financed, that I can see, is from private sources, financed by the people who operate the totalisator credit and operate it for profit, which, in some unknown way, they must derive for themselves or draw for themselves. In addition to that, what will happen to bad debts? How will they be paid off? There are bad debts with the bookmakers. How will bad debts on the totalisator credit system be dealt with? I think these are aspects of this matter which we should have an opportunity of discussing when there is a fuller House, when there are some more knowledgeable people here than the few neophytes now sitting at this side of the House. If we had the assistance of some of our colleagues who know a great deal more about this problem, we would be able to make a more valuable contribution to the discussion. The fact of the matter is that we have not got available, to assist us here, the expert knowledge which some of our colleagues have. If they were here, this would be a much more useful debate.
I suggest to the Minister that, if he wished us to withdraw the amendment, we would do so, provided that he agreed to recommit the Bill and discuss the matter later. I gather that the Minister is not prepared to make that concession and I suppose we will have to try, with our imperfect knowledge and lack of dialectical skill, to continue the debate until such time as we have thrashed the matter out, so that our colleagues can read the report of the debate with advantage.
I have been listening to the Minister asking the House to leave things as they are. We have had a great deal of discussion in this House during the last six months on gambling and I do feel that if the Minister is going to leave it open to the totalisator to have credit gambling, we are encouraging more gambling for our people. The Minister and other Deputies have spoken about the bookmakers in their speeches. If a man goes to a bookmaker to make a credit bet, there is the human side of it, and a bookmaker will accept a credit bet from a friend. On the other hand, if we are going to extend credit betting to the totalisator, I think the Minister, instead of saying that he is going to leave everything to the board, would have done better not to bring in the Bill at all. I believe the responsibility is on the Dáil to make this Bill as perfect as it can be.
And to give credit.
No. We would be all better off, if we got a little less credit. I believe that this House and the Minister have a responsibility to make a decision on this matter.
In what way?
By accepting what we believe to be two very reasonable amendments. I believe that, in doing so, we would be contributing something worth while, not alone to this House, but to the people outside by preventing them from indulging in credit gambling to a greater extent. As Deputy Briscoe has pointed out, no bookmaker is going to give creditad lib to anybody. If the Minister accepts these amendments, he will be ensuring that that section of our people who have the complete gambling outlook will not get further facilities for credit gambling.
In the Lotteries Bill we discussed at considerable length the gambling instincts of our people and we tried to keep them down. In these amendments, the Minister has the opportunity of saying that he will not extend any more credit facilities for gambling than are available at present. I feel that the Minister should really consider this matter. We do not want to prolong the debate and to discuss every section of the Bill here, day after day, but we feel that we ought to make the Bill as good as it possibly can be.
Deputy Finlay stated that he would do what is suggested in the amendments to the bookmakers. If we decided to make credit betting with the bookmaker illegal, it would be impossible to administer that restriction, because the human side is there and the bookmaker may or may not accept a bet from a friend. Credit betting with bookmakers is completely covered because a bookmaker who wants to make a few shillings will not deal with a man who is continually looking for credit. I feel that the Minister should make up his mind to accept the amendments. I believe that they are reasonable amendments and that they are in the interests of everybody. It would be wrong to extend the facilities for credit betting.
What more can I do to help the Opposition than to say that I am prepared to have a free vote on it now, or to have a free vote on it on the Report Stage; that I see the force of both arguments and that I do not quarrel with a man who holds a different view from my own, but I expect him not to quarrel with me for the views that I hold? I am puzzled by all this talk about a man having the right to bet indefinitely on credit with the totalisator. It would surprise me if, when that man did not pay his weekly account, he would not be told to take his business elsewhere. If a fellow is going to act improvidently, it is better for him to run into debt with the totalisator and be unable to pay and then be told to take himself off.
I see fully the force of the arguments on the other side and I quarrel with nobody who holds the opposite view to mine. I cannot do more than to say to the Opposition: "Let there be a free vote now, or let the Deputies withdraw the amendments and we will have a free vote this day week." I find no fault with anybody who goes into the opposite lobby to me and I fully understand his position, but I bespeak for my colleagues a similar understanding for myself. The length of one's speech is not related to the measure of his cogency. I have said all I have to say on this matter and I do not want to delay the House any further.
I am afraid the Minister cannot shed some part of his responsibility so lightly. The Minister wants to leave the decision of this to a free vote of the House and he frankly says: "whatever is the decision I am satisfied." The Minister is a Minister of State and he has more responsibility than just acting on his own personal view in this. There is a moral issue. Deputy McQuillan in supporting this amendment which, I take it, does not even go as far as he would like it to go in the general situation, pointed out that particular aspect.
We do know that there is a widespread anxiety over the facilities we have and the additional facilities we are giving for gambling transactions. Here the Minister, without realising what he is doing, is opening up a very extensive new field in which thousands of our citizens can become involved, and not the type of person who bets in big transactions. The man who bets in big transactions could not afford to do his business with the totalisator because the odds would never suit him. The man who owns or trains horses, the big person who is in the know, bets with a bookmaker, in ante-post betting in big transactions at agreed odds. Therefore, he is removed from the working of this.
What Deputy MacEntee had in mind when he was speaking—and I quite see his point—was, Tote Investors or totalisator credit betting. We do not know whether it is run by the body which concerns itself with the racetracks or whether it is a small monopoly. We do not know, but possibly we will find out in time. In some place, there may be a race-meeting, at the Curragh, in Cork, or somewhere else, and there is not the same opportunity for these facilities. What Deputy MacEntee had in mind was that, even if it were only a week until such time as the totalisator sends out its bill, a person can deliberately, with malice aforethought, make up his mind: "I am going to have a go. Maybe I will make very substantial quick money easily and if I do not and I lose six nights in succession, well, I will face the consequences as they arise."
The bookmaker is a human being, but the totalisator organisation or institution is quite impersonal. If I have a bet with a bookmaker and I lose to him and he sends me his bill, I may not pay him immediately. I may wait until I go to the races again, maybe a month afterwards. If I go to the dog track, the bookmaker would expect me to settle with him on Tuesday for bets I had lost on Monday and if I did not pay him he is not going to carry me for six nights in succession for continued losses. Therefore, his care for his own welfare is a protection against my going out of my depth.
That does not apply in the case of these totalisators. Deputy Finlay spoke of what he called suggestions of things that were happening. He was not stating them as matters of fact but he had reason to believe that because of the sources from which he had got this information, there was some foundation for what he stated. I know and have known for a long time that there is an institution called Totalisators, Limited. I have never yet been able to find out if they publish a balance sheet and what is in the balance sheet. Most people think, as the Minister did up to yesterday, that this is a public affair, that it is a non-profit-making organisation run for the benefit of horse racing. Before this Bill is concluded maybe we will find out who are Totalisators Investors, how they are set up, who are the directors, whether they are profit-making or non-profit-making, and what they do with the profit.
Deputy Finlay referred to the suggestions that were made to him. A suggestion was made to me that Tote Investors operate quite differently from the totalisator. The moment the whistle goes that they are off, the window is shut down on the totalisator and you cannot place any more bets, but I am told, as regards Tote Investors, that they are not as prompt in closing the window for transactions. Deputy Finlay spoke about bets made at 27 minutes past the hour. It is quite obvious that all those bets cannot find their way to the totalisator and consequently do not come into the calculations of the odds to people who draw money for win or place bets. I myself admit that I am prepared to wager, if I get reasonable odds, even on the North Kerry by-election. I have not been successful in tempting anybody yet to have a bet.
The Deputy must not be giving good odds.
Deputy O'Leary would, of course, want good odds.
Perhaps the credit is in doubt.
There has always been credit on that because you do not know the result until the horses are past the post. But I do not think there is anybody in this House has had to complain——
And you paid out plenty in the recent past.
Yes, and I would be very pleased, if I could get the Minister to have a bet with me.
No man in Leinster House lost more, but you paid up like a man. I wondered where you got the wherewithal, but I must say you met all your liabilities like a man.
Will the Deputy come back to the amendment?
I would like to see the colour of the Minister's money.
He is a totalisator better.
Agreed odds, nothing in the dark. I am as serious in this matter as anybody can be, and, if the Minister consulted organisations outside this House who are concerned with the welfare and behaviour of people, he would be bound to agree with amendment No. 9. If amendment No. 9 were accepted by him it might not be necessary to have amendment No. 8 because if this credit betting were made unlawful there would be no use in giving anybody a licence. Therefore, in actual fact, we are discussing amendment No. 9.
I ask the Minister seriously to consider his own position, the responsibility he has in this matter. There is no use in the Minister having to consider representations from organisations outside for an amendment to be brought in at a later stage, because it is bound to happen. We must remember that the vast bulk of those who enjoy greyhound racing are the lower level income people. They are not the "toffs"; they are not the list that the Minister read out last week, the D.S.O.s and the "Barts."; I have not yet found out what a "Bart." is. I have heard of a baronet but I am looking for the "Bart.". These are ordinary working-class people and they should not be put in the position of being enticed into transactions of this kind. The vast bulk of them who attend meetings take with them a certain amount in cash and conduct their betting transactions in cash. As far as the big gambler is concerned, he will have his bets, in any event, with the bookmaker.
I have touched on the moral side of this matter and the responsibility of the Government in that respect. I am asking the Minister seriously, having tried to draw a picture for him of the circumstances and situations which will arise, to accept the amendment. He is fortified by the representations of Deputy Finlay. It cannot be suggested that Deputy Finlay ever lightheartedly enters into a debate here merely for the sake of talking. If the Minister is not influenced by what has been said from this side of the House, he ought to be influenced by what a colleague in his own Party says. Deputy Finlay probably draws his conclusions from his own professional experiences. I express my views from information I receive and from my own judgment as an ordinary human being.
It is admitted in both reports of inquiries that the totalisator will attract increased numbers to greyhound race-meetings. That is admitted both by the secret and the public inquiry into this matter. If that is so, it will mean that a large number of people will, in the beginning, engage in cash totalisator betting transactions and, later on, being more experienced, becoming fonder of racing, being able to afford to take bigger risks, will be driven to the other form of betting, the credit totalisator betting. They will learn that by putting their money on the ordinary cash totalisator they will bring the odds down against themselves and that it is better, from that point of view, to use the credit totalisator.
I should like the Minister not to take the line that he has made his offer to leave this to a free vote of the House now or on Report Stage. I do not regard this as an item that should be left to a free vote. I would be quite happy if the Minister had left the whole Bill to a free vote of the House because then we would not have had the spectacle of people having to vote against their own amendments.
Moved by you.
Do not try to protect yourself from something for which you, of your own accord, were responsible.
That cannot be argued on this amendment.
If the Deputy was not prepared to accept an assurance from the Minister, we were.
What is that?
Enough to satisfy us.
What are you satisfied with? Nothing.
The Deputy should join the bookmakers. He should be a bookmaker.
The Minister has not given an assurance to me that satisfied me that what was in the amendment would be met. Deputy Tully ought to get back again to the discussion we had yesterday on the company that was badly treated by the Department of Industry and Commerce.
We will hear more about that later.
I shall be looking forward to it.
Is Deputy Briscoe discussing the amendment which is before the House?
I say that I would have liked to have seen this whole Bill discussed as a free measure, open for free vote on every section.
As Fianna Fáil used to do it.
I would have liked that, not one rushed through the House as if it were something of vital national importance, containing fundamental principles on which groups, joined on these fundamental issues, are bound to vote as a Party.
The Deputy is not addressing his remarks to the amendment.
The Minister made two offers. He made the offer that, if we take the division on this amendment to-night, he will allow it to be a free vote, or, alternatively, that we could withdraw the amendment and reintroduce it on Report. As against that, Deputy MacEntee suggested that this was the type of amendment, with others, that should be withdrawn and put down on the recommittal of the Bill, in other words, that there should be a further Committee Stage. The Minister will not accept that. His refusal to accept that suggestion was so prompt that it struck me that it might be better to struggle a little longer to see if we can get a little further on this matter.
Wait until the bookmakers' strike is over, so that you can go to Shelbourne Park.
Is the Deputy suggesting that I have a personal interest in this?
What has this to do with this amendment?
This conversation should cease.
It is not a conversation. It is one of those vulgar, rude interruptions, to which this House is accustomed from the Deputy from Wexford.
From Deputy Briscoe.
He probably does not know any better.
The Deputy says he wants to get credit.
I did not say anything of the kind. The Deputy is so ignorant that one has to repeat what one says. I am trying to avoid credit being given.
Is there any protection against a person who is not able to understand the simplest language?
The poor men going to the dogs will get no credit. About whom are you worried?
Deputy O'Leary will get an opportunity of making his own statement.
If Deputy O'Leary wants to make a statement I will give way to him immediately. I should love to hear him on this. He does not seem to realise that this is an amendment to prevent the possibility of credit being given to working people in betting transactions.
Do not you know that they will get no credit at the dogs or anywhere else?
They do not at the moment, and it is a good job that they do not, but they will if this section goes through.
The bookie would be very soft to give them credit.
Is there no possibility of our being able to explain to Deputy O'Leary that there is a distinct difference between the totalisator and the bookmaker? One is alive and the other is not.
The House should be discussing business other than dog tracks.
What would the Deputy suggest?
Something on which the House would not be held up. Why do you not put the amendment so that it can be disposed of?
Leave that to the Chair.
I have no objection to Deputy O'Leary's interjections, interruptions or misinterpretations but he will not get away with them and have it on record that he said something he was not shown up about.
You are saying enough.
Will the Minister say whether he has any added views on the matter since this discussion started, or is it in order for the Minister to take this so lightly that he need not listen to any further arguments?
I am listening.
Or has he made up his mind that he is not concerned further with what is being argued? This is a matter of vital importance. It is not an amendment designed to bring any further protection for bookmakers; it is not designed to guarantee them against losses in revenue; but it is designed specifically to do what the Minister himself says should be done— to remove what he regards as something that should not be in existence or which should not be extended, that is, credit betting on gambling. I can quote from the records of the committee set up to examine the whole question of totalisators for the greyhound tracks. It is correct to admit that the 1932 inquiry was concerned with the greyhound racing tracks becoming owners themselves of their own totalisators—that totalisators would be established on greyhound tracks for the greater benefit of every aspect of the industry. I do not know whether Deputy McQuillan is in a position to get up and dot the "i's" and cross the "t's" for me. Five of us have spoken on this matter, one from across the House, one from the Independent Benches and three from this side who were in full agreement on this amendment. Consequently, I urge the Minister to accept the amendment.
I shall be very brief, although my rising is welcomed by Deputy Burke, since it will save him the trouble of keeping the ball moving for a while. I do not think there could have been any more generous attitude displayed than that which was displayed by the Minister here this evening. I have often heard Deputies on the opposite benches and on these benches suggesting it would be a good thing to leave as many of these decisions as possible to a free vote of the House.
The whole Bill, yes.
Deputy Briscoe's attitude is that he would like to see a free vote of the House on the whole Bill, but not on this amendment.
And on the amendments.
I will say this to him: I have followed his arguments as closely as I could and I must say that I did not see any necessity for his becoming heated about it.
If you got the interruptions I got, you would be heated yourself.
I will say this now because I intended saying it before I sat down: I think the Deputy misinterpreted an interruption I made. I was not questioning his credit when talking about the North Kerry election, but that he would be justified in refusing to give me credit, if I were to take a bet with him on that question. I was about to say that, as far as Deputy Briscoe's arguments are concerned, he has gone a long way to persuading me to vote with him, should he accept the Minister's offer and have a free vote on it. I think the Minister has met Deputies Briscoe and MacEntee in a very open and in a very fair way, and I do not think it is justifiable criticism on Deputy Briscoe's part to say there is something mean about the Minister's attitude here.
I did not say there was anything mean about the Minister, and I do not think the Minister interpreted anything I have said as suggesting that he was mean. I think the Minister has been patient. Let us not introduce wrong interpretations.
The Deputy is now anxious to play out another matter——
Maybe I could draw you out for an hour.
I do not think it is fair criticism to say there was anything ungenerous in the Minister's attitude in offering a free vote on these amendments, but in refusing to leave the entire Bill to a vote.
That is the difference.
Deputy Briscoe knows far better than I do, because he has had very much longer service in the House than I have had, that matters of detail are raised in amendments. Matters of the general principle behind the Bill are decided when the House gives the measure its Second Reading. It is then that the principle is decided. We are now down to details and, on this particular detail, the Minister has, I think in a very fair and open way, offered a free vote. I think Deputy Briscoe might be surprised, if he accepts the Minister's offer.
Does the Deputy now promise to vote for the amendment in a free vote?
If I make a promise, Deputy Briscoe will quote it against me for evermore.
If you break it as you did once before. If you make an offer now that you will support the amendment I will agree with the Minister.
I shall say this much: if the Deputy accepts the Minister's offer now he will find me in the same division lobby as himself.
If I am to take that as a promise, I shall get up and make my statement to that effect.
Deputy Briscoe has gone a long way to convince me. If by telling Deputy Briscoe I shall vote in the same lobby as himself, we can shorten this discussion and get on with the business, I shall certainly do so. If this is left to a free vote, Deputy Briscoe has my offer and promise.
I am prepared to accept the word of Deputy O'Higgins and I am prepared to withdraw this amendment and reintroduce it on Report Stage for a free vote, but I do not want the Deputy to vote for it just to shorten the debate. I want him to vote for it only because he agrees it is a good amendment. I do not want to mislead the Deputy from the straight and virtuous path of Fine Gael behaviour. I want him to vote for his own conviction.
Does Deputy Carter want to make a speech?
Get up on your feet yourself and say something.
It is not for Deputy Briscoe to call on any Deputy to speak.
The Deputy is on his feet now and you will have to call him.
When I came into this House 18 months ago, I understood that the purpose was to debate laws and to make laws, and not to see the comic display Deputy Briscoe has given here to-night. The amendment seems of less importance than the dragging on of the debate until 10.30. I suggest they should make up their minds to take a free vote. I also am prepared to say that I would vote for this amendment in a free vote of the House.
Having secured the conversion of two Deputies from the opposite side, I am agreeable to withdraw the amendment and to put it down for a free vote of the House on Report Stage. In the circumstances, I propose not to move amendment No. 9.
I have been informed by Deputy Mrs. O'Carroll that she does not intend to move any of the amendments, Nos. 10, 20, 26, 29, tabled in her name, nor does she authorise anyone else to move them on her behalf.
Is it not the rule that amendments may be withdrawn only——
"Withdrawn"—that is if it has been moved, but she is not moving it.
Do Standing Orders provide for that?
Deputy Mrs. O'Carroll and any other Deputy are entitled not to move amendments in their names, if they so wish.
The amendment not being moved now will not prevent me from introducing a similar amendment on the Report Stage? I agree with that amendment. There may be reasons why Labour members have changed their minds, but I subscribe to the policy of one man, one job, so far as it can be done. If the position is that these amendments are not moved, and we were not informed, even when we agree with them and would have supported them——
Your permission was not asked before they were put down and, therefore, it is not necessary to get it before it was decided not to move them.
I am not going to enter into a discussion with the Deputy on the courtesies or practices of the House. We will consider designing an amendment of this nature for the Report Stage.
In regard to what Deputy Briscoe has said, it is certainly my intention to request in so far as it is practicable the board to give effect to what is proposed in amendment No. 10, but manifestly the amendment in its present form is quite impracticable and could not be incorporated in the Bill. But, in so far as it is practicable, I would expect the board to give priority on its totalisators to suitable persons not otherwise employed.
Would the Minister be prepared to consider putting down an amendment for Report which would meet the purpose of this amendment, as far as possible from that point of view?
It is impossible to put down an amendment which will be practicable to compel the board not to employ any person who is not wholly unemployed, but I think the board will decide so far as they can to give priority in employment to persons who are not otherwise employed. It is just not possible to define a fully employed person in a statute and therefore it is impossible to apply what Mrs. O'Carroll had in mind to an amendment of this kind.
But does the Minister know that there is a great deal of criticism of the fact that people in well secured, permanent and well paid —and even pensionable, as my colleague Deputy Briscoe reminds me— employment are employed on a temporary basis by the existing totalisator organisation? That is resented very strongly by a great number of people and I would hope that the Minister would address himself to that problem, because we are in full sympathy with the object of this amendment.
So am I.
I do think it may be difficult to give effect to it, but nevertheless the Minister has a wide and comprehensive intellect, and, if he brings it to bear on this problem, I am perfectly certain he will find a solution.
We are all in agreement with the principle underlying this amendment.
This is a very important section. It is the section which empowers the board to grant or refuse to grant licences to operate greyhound racetracks. One of the matters which was put in evidence before the advisory committee which the Minister set up was the rather arbitrary fashion in which licences had been granted or had been refused, when the Irish Coursing Club was in control. We have not put it down as an amendment, because it is difficult for us to phrase it, but I would hope that the Minister would afford any person who was aggrieved by the refusal of the board to grant a licence an opportunity of presenting his case.
I think the matter mentioned by Deputy MacEntee is raised by Deputy Burke on amendment No. 14 to Section 24.
That is quite true, but it is as well to raise that point on this particular section, because it is the section which empowers the board to grant or refuse licences. However, as the Minister said, we can debate it on Section 24.
I move amendment No. 11:—
In sub-section (3), line 45, to delete "may be required by the board" and substitute "the board may decide to be suitable".
Amendments Nos. 11, 12 and 13 might be discussed together.
Of these, 11 and 13 hang together and they are put in because there was some apprehension in the minds of individual track proprietors that the board should have an arbitrary right to walk in and appoint a place for the totalisator or for the bookmakers, without even asking the track proprietor what his opinion was, and that at least the track proprietor ought to be consulted, so that there would not be arbitrary or highhanded action in that respect. These amendments operate to put a duty on the board to consult the track proprietors, at least, before determining where the totalisator or the bookmakers should be located.
Do I gather from that that the Minister is including No. 12? The Minister has argued for the bookmakers, although Nos. 11 and 13 really concern the track proprietors. There is an amendment here to the Bill by Deputy Walsh asking for the same facilities for the bookmakers, but with a certain amount of security, but if the Minister says the case is being made on 11, 12 and 13 together——
The situation in regard to No. 12 is slightly different and I think on reflection it will appear that No. 12 is probably unnecessary. At present, the only safeguard for horse racecourses is under the Totalisator Act of 1929, which provides that where a tote is installed, "a place or places shall be appointed where bookmakers may carry on their business," but Section 23, sub-section (3) (d) of this Bill—I am trying to explain to the Deputy——
I am listening.
——goes further by empowering the control board to attach conditions to greyhound racetrack licences as to the provision by the licensees of suitable arrangements for bookmakers in places convenient for carrying on their business, and if the licensees do not make accommodation available of their own goodwill, the bookmakers have a right at once to appeal to the board and ask the board to intervene and request them to do so. So that really we are making provisions for the bookmakers' legitimate claims to be met and bearing in mind that we intend to have a bookmaker on the board, I think we can rest assured that if any clash arose, then the bookmaker would go to his board, one member of which at least would be familiar with their natural desires.
Furthermore, we have to bear in mind that many of the apprehensions that exist on behalf of bookmakers under our conditions at present are really not well founded because they arise from the apprehensions which arose under the conditions that obtained in Great Britain. In Great Britain the totalisators on the tracks were owned and controlled by the tracks and they were getting the profits from them. You could well imagine that the bookmakers might be apprehensive that the tracks might elbow them off the tracks. That is not the case here. In so far as business goes into the totalisator here, the tracks get nothing and the track owners must try to tempt as many bookmakers as they can. I imagine the situation here will be that the track proprietors will be most solicitous to see that the bookmakers have every convenience, so that they can get the maximum from their attendance. I think on those grounds that amendment No. 12 is really unnecessary.
I am afraid the Minister has not really studied the full history of the threat of the totalisator to greyhound bookmaking in this country. I should like to refer to a document I referred to earlier—the "Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Issue of Totalisator Licences for Greyhound Racing Tracks in the Irish Free State, July, 1932." If the Minister has a look at that he will find that at one stage one particular greyhound racing track concluded that it had already been granted the necessary licence to install a totalisator. I grant you that at that time the totalisator was to be the property of the owners of the greyhound track.
That is the difference.
We only take our views from experience. The bookmakers suddenly found themselves told by this particular greyhound racing track that they would be shifted to a totally unsuitable place and that if they did not like it they could, in language occasionally used by the Minister, lump it. In fact, on another occasion, they found themselves locked out because they were not going to bow to this position and they found they had to fight for their very existence. Resulting from that, and apart from what happened in England, bookmakers' pitches should only be rearranged by agreement and certainly not to their detriment. Amendment No. 12 sets out:—
"(e) Nothing in this section shall be construed
licensees or the board, as the case may be, to alter to the detriment of bookmakers, sites occupied by them at the date of the passing of this Act."
I have no doubt that if the situation arises where the board has to negotiate with the licensee, that is, the track, for the installation and placing of the totalisator so that it will be reasonably usable by the public, it may in many cases have to alter the existing sites of bookmakers, and just as the board will have to negotiate with the licensee so also should the board negotiate with the bookmakers.
The Minister wants to see this Bill, when it is complete and after all the discussion, a Bill that works. I do not think anybody wants to see a situation develop from it where there will be constant irritation for those who are concerned in the earning of their livelihood. The public must be considered and we ourselves do not want to discover that we have made many mistakes and many omissions. Therefore, there is so little between what this amendment adds to the section and what is in the section that I cannot see why the Minister can object.
I do not know whether it was consciously or subconsciously that, when arguing about his own amendments, Nos. 11 and 13, the Minister should bring in the very arguments he used by even mentioning the bookmakers. The Minister is consciously or subconsciously alive to the problem to which I am referring, otherwise why should he have brought in the bookmakers as the primary——
It is not in amendment No. 12.
I know. The Minister brought in the argument but he has not brought in the cure.
I think I have.
I do not think so.
At paragraph (d) of sub-section (3) of Section 23.
"Conditions as to permitting the board to set up, maintain and work totalisators on greyhound racetracks on such sites as may be required by the board and, where they are set up, as to provision by licensees of suitable arrangements for bookmakers in places convenient for carrying on their business (such arrangements to be determined, in default of agreement between bookmakers and licensees, by the board)."
The difference, as I see it, is this. The word "convenient" was a word that led to very costly action between certain building interests in Dublin and the Dublin Corporation. The town plan was to be completed with all convenient speed and the interpretation of the councillors of the Dublin Corporation and their officials was that even this word "convenient" also implied costs to ratepayers but the court held the view that "convenient speed" was speed without any regard to any other circumstance or condition. Here again, is the word "convenient" and having regard to what I have said it frightens the life out of me.
To what is the Deputy referring?
To the words "convenient" and "detriment of bookmakers." I spent a number of hours in the witness box in the court trying to explain to the court and the examining lawyer——
Would "convenient and suitable" suit the Deputy?
Will the Minister put in "convenient and suitable"?
It will be done.
It does not carry us all the way. I would suggest that with the amendment which the Minister has undertaken to make in paragraph (d), he would consider a further amendment to amendment No. 13 which might help. The Minister's amendment reads:—
"The board shall not, pursuant to a condition referred to in paragraph (d) of sub-section (3) of this section, decide that a site was suitable for a totalisator save after consultation with the licensee concerned."
If the Minister would delete the words "the licensee concerned" in amendment No. 13 and substitute "all the interests concerned", that would ensure a degree of consultation with the bookmakers, before the site for the totalisator had been determined.
Would the Deputy suggest to me how you would conduct consultation with the bookmakers?
I assume that for that purpose the bookmakers would be asked to nominate some people to represent them.
I will consider that.
The Deputy will understand that, when I say that I will consider it, if it appears to be wholly impracticable, I will give him full notice, so that he can reopen the matter on Report.
I move amendment No. 13:—
Before sub-section (4) to insert the following new sub-section:—
(4) The board shall not, pursuant to a condition referred to in paragraph (d) of sub-section (3) of this section, decide that a site is suitable for a totalisator save after consultation with the licensee concerned.
I move amendment No. 14:—
To add a new sub-section as follows:—
(3) The licensee under a greyhound track licence shall have a right of appeal to the District Court from an order of the board revoking or suspending a licence.
I refer in relation to this, to a number of other organisations that have a right of appeal to the courts. Here while the Minister may set up the best board possible of honest, decent men, that board may be superseded by some other members as time goes on and some other Minister may be in control, and I do feel that it is only a fair amendment. We all have our likes and dislikes and there may be a track owner who, for some reason or other, had to give an impartial opinion contrary to some other people's opinions from time to time. Those people might, as a result of circumstances, get on that board and try to raise a question as to whether his licence should not be revoked, and even go so far as to get other members of the board on their side. If that track licensee or owner had the protection of the courts and knew that he could go back to the courts in a case of that kind, it would make the board administer its affairs in an impartial manner, because they would always realise that the courts were there. The courts can be used and have been used by other bodies and boards all down through the years. I feel, in moving this amendment, that it gives protection to a track owner or owners, as the case may be.
I see the force of the point made by the Deputy, and I am prepared to accept the principle, but I would ask him to consider this: I do not know that the subject-matter of an application for a licence to operate a greyhound racing track is a suitable subject-matter for appeal to the District Court or the Circuit Court, because, after all, it is not the kind of material on which the court is peculiarly constituted to pass judgment on, as to whether a track ought to be here or there. I will accept the principle of the amendment, and would suggest that the Deputy should withdraw this, and I will undertake to bring in on the Report Stage an amendment along the same lines, to provide anad hoc tribunal to hear appeals of this character over which, say, a lawyer of not less than ten years' standing would preside, assisted by one or two assessors, as I think that would be a better form of tribunal of appeal than the District Court or the Circuit Court. Would the Deputy agree with that?
Perhaps before the Deputy decides to withdraw, I would say that the Minister's suggestion goes a long way to meeting the position which we attempted to cover by this amendment. But, unfortunately, to my mind, the amendment is not sufficiently widely drawn, because I would have hoped that the question of the refusal of the board to grant a licence might be open for review by some independent authority. I have already in the debate on the Second Reading and in the discussions on some of the earlier sections of the Bill referred to cases where people were not satisfied——
That is what I am offering the Deputy.
Deputy Burke's amendment only covers cases where a licence has been revoked or suspended. This is a question of refusal.
I will cover that.
I think that goes a long way to meeting us. I am, perhaps, changing my mind as I am talking, and I do think that if we are going to make a refusal by the board subject to review by an independent authority, the proposal the Minister has made is the better one, because it would not be related merely to a finding on the question of fact, but a finding on merits. In that case, I suggest that Deputy Burke should withdraw his amendment and we can have the Minister's amendment on Report.
I wish to withdraw, in view of the Minister's assurance.
Let us be clear on what I am undertaking to do. It is to provide for anad hoc tribunal which will hear appeals from decisions of the board revoking or suspending or refusing a licence.
That is clear.
I move amendment No. 15:—
In sub-section (2), paragraph (f), lines 43 and 44, to delete "in the income of the respective greyhound racetracks or".
I had in mind a racetrack manager who over the years had invested his money in the track and had no other means of livelihood and was not a greyhound owner and had nothing to do with the owning or breeding of dogs. This man had put his money into the business over the years and it was his livelihood for a long period. Under this Bill, the board could disqualify this man from being manager of a track. I do not want to cite any particular manager, or to name anybody in this House, but I have one particular track in mind and I feel that, in justice to this particular man, the amendment should be accepted. I know him to be a very honourable, decent man over the years, who has carried on in a most honourable way, impartial and strictly above-board in all his dealings with patrons, and so on. I want the Minister to consider my amendment concerning this man, or men of that kind.
I am not pleading for the man who is breeding greyhounds, racing them or owning them; I am pleading for a man with no other business, who has built up this business over the years and who is manager of the track. Under this section, he could be debarred from being manager, or having anything to do with it, because he has money invested in it. Therefore, if you consider the matter, I think it will be agreed that it is only just that we should protect an honest man of that kind in this section.
I am sorry I cannot accept this amendment. If there is one thing on which I think all parties are strongly agreed, who seek reform, it is that there is a certain limited category of officials of a greyhound race-meeting who ought to have no financial interest, direct or indirect, in the proceedings over which they preside. That, I believe, applies with special emphasis to the official known as "the racing manager".
I am obliged to concede to the House that I am not intimately familiar with the procedure but the racing manager of a greyhound track has the matching of the dogs——
Used to have but not now, so much.
He has a whole series of functions intimately associated with the outcome of the race. Everybody seems to be agreed that the racing manager of a greyhound race ought to be ruthlessly excluded from taking any financial interest in the track or in any of the hounds racing at the track on that day.
Note well that the whole section is permissive. Therefore, it does not mean that it is a direction to the board that if there is, for instance, a woman interested in the track, she must not be allowed to take the entrance fees at the gate. There is no absolute prohibition on the employment on the track of anybody who has an interest in the track. However, the board has the power to declare that certain categories of employees at a race-meeting must not have a financial interest in it.
I think that, on reflection, the Deputy will agree with me that certain persons, notably racing managers, ought not to have any financial interest in any aspect of the racing over which they preside to see equity and justice done between all parties concerned.
The point the Minister has put forward may be all right, but surely every track manager is innocent until he has been proved guilty.
I think that applies to all of us.
I am dealing with one particular matter here. I do not see why we should approach the track manager in this way.
I think there are two separate officials—(1) the track manager. He might be the man who superintends the maintenance of the track, the stands, the course itself.
The business side.
The racing manager is something approximating to the stipendiary steward of the racecourse for horse racing. He is a different person from the track manager, who would be the business manager. Then there is the question of handicaps.
In the case I am referring to, it is one and the same person. Consider the position of the man I have in mind. As the section stands, it means that, despite all the years he spent saving his money, investing it in this business and helping to build up the greyhound industry, he will now find himself at the mercy of a board who will say to him: "In view of the fact that you have invested money in this track, we think you should have nothing whatever to do with it."
No. All they would say to him would probably be: "You must not function as racing manager at the fixtures on your own track".
I do not want to be too persistent in regard to this matter but, so far, the Minister has not satisfied me. I am speaking on behalf of a racetrack manager who has acted in that capacity for a long number of years. I am seeking to ensure that that racetrack manager will enjoy the same confidence as he has hitherto enjoyed until such time as he commits himself in the eyes of the board.
If a man has invested money in an industry and if he is honest and has carried out his work in a just, impartial and honourable manner, then, with all respect to the Minister—and I do not want to press him too hard in regard to this matter—I feel that such a person deserves more consideration than he is getting under this section. According to this section, we are looking upon racing managers and our track managers, as we know them today, as if they had not done a good job in the past. I think we should be more impartial in our judgment of men who have tried to help the industry over the years. Our attitude should be that until such time as, for instance, the particular track manager for whom I am speaking now, has done something contrary to the rules of the board, has been tried by the board and found guilty, he should be allowed to carry on as he has done heretofore. That is especially so when it is proved beyond doubt that he has no interest in the breeding or rearing or racing of greyhounds.
There is the possibility that people may have given evidence of one kind or another. I submit that people who may have given evidence in private might express a different viewpoint altogther if the inquiry were held in public. Over the years, my experience of track managers is that they have done a great deal to improve greyhound racing and were it not for their keenness there would be a lot more corruption. From my knowledge of the two track owners in Dublin, I should like to pay them that compliment.
In my view, it is completely unfair that we should do or say anything detrimental to the interests of men who for years have helped to keep the industry clean and who have helped it in every possible way. If, on occasion, they had to do something distasteful, it was only in relation to people who were warned off—and I support them wholly on the stand they took against such people. I have yet to discover that any of the track managers I know have done anything that we would not be prepared to stand over. There are people who were warned off for not playing the game and there are people who come along and give evidence against track and race managers.
Through the Chair, I appeal to the Minister to reconsider my amendments and see how he can best meet my wishes.
I am not concerned with any particular person in relation to this amendment because I feel certain that there would be more than one person involved. I wonder, however, if the terms of the amendment are not much too wide. Certainly no person will say that a manager who is a racing manager, or who is merely the managing director, or general manager of the track, should be permitted to have any interest in the ownership of greyhounds raced on his track, or an income derived from betting on greyhound races which take place on the track. But I wonder if the Minister has not cast his net too wide when he forbids any person performing a specified class of function from having any beneficial interest in the income of a greyhound track.
I assume many of the greyhound tracks are run by a limited liability company. Most of them are private companies. But supposing a person holds shares in a company and his income is derived by way of dividend on those shares, would that make him liable to suffer a conflict of interest in discharging his functions, either as general manager of the track or as racing manager? I do not think it would. I think that a person who had a substantial interest as a shareholder in a greyhound racing track and who was, at the same time, an officer of the company operating the track, would probably be very concerned to ensure that everything done on the track would be open and above board, so that it would attract a larger public attendance and, therefore, of course, ensure that his dividend was maintained or increased. And that would not either prevent him from drawing a larger income in time, so I think that, while it is quite clear that we should ensure that there be no conflict of interest by reason of the fact that a person is at one and the same time an officer of the track and owns or has an interest in greyhounds, in greyhound races on the track, or in the bookmaking business operated on the track, we may be going too far when we give the board power to prevent a person holding an appointment as an officer of the track, if his only interest in the track is that of a shareholder in the company that owns it. I think the Minister might consider the matter from that point of view.
I am obliged to confess very much the same misgivings occurred to my mind as those expressed by Deputy MacEntee, and so I queried this and raised the very point he has raised. If a man is a substantial shareholder in the track, would it not be to his interest, by the exercise of exceptional vigilance, to establish the reputation of his track as being beyond query or doubt? But if you look at paragraph 77 of the report at page 32, there one will find set out certain general considerations; and then the report says:—
"We are strongly of opinion that a racing manager should not have any financial interest in the company operating the track on which he officiates and that in his capacity as grader, he should be responsible for the proper performance of his duties, not to the company owning the track but to the control board. We have, in fact, been informed that this is the position which obtains elsewhere and we recommend its adoption in this country."
I sought further and better advice and, as far as I understand the situation, the racing manager is more or less in the position of a kind of cross between factor and a stipendiary steward; and the view appears to be, certainly in respect of that official, that he ought to be completely divorced from the track where he functions and be, rather, the enemy of all potential wrongdoers at that venue; and he is, in fact, expected to behave, not only as Cæsar's wife, but to appear to behave as Cæsar's wife.
Frankly, my first glance gave me much the same reservations as Deputy MacEntee expressed: were we not going a bit too far in saying that a shareholder should not act as a racing manager? But the further I asked opinion on that from those deeply versed in it, the stronger the views expressed that, in respect of the racing manager, he ought not to have hand, act or part in the track, the dogs on it or anything associated with racing, other than his supervisory duties. They were of so critical a character that anything short of complete divorce from all other interests associated with the track where he was functioning as manager should not be allowed.
May I put it this way: what greater guarantee is there that a track will be properly run in an impartial, honest way than the guarantee that exists if a man has his own money invested in the track? Surely he will not do anything to derogate himself. If a man invests his money in a business, will he not ensure that that business is properly run? Will he not see that anything he can do to improve patronage of that business will be done? Will he not take every opportunity to ensure that nobody will pull the wool over his eyes? With all due respect to the inquiry, as I have said before, if that inquiry had been held in public, the racetrack managers might have had their say, too, and might have been in a position to show up some of the people who gave evidence. I will not go into that now, but our aim is to be fair.
If the Minister feels he is capable of doing a particular job himself, he will not delegate that job to somebody else, and nobody will do it as impartially as he will. He will not ask me or anybody else to come along and do the job for him. Who will have a greater interest in preserving the integrity of his track than the racing manager who will be anxious to ensure that everything is right? I think that is a guarantee. I think those who decry these managers are the people who themselves were warned off quite justly. For that reason, I am anxious to press this amendment.
I appeal to the Minister to consider it in the light of the further evidence he has received. I am anxious to ensure that justice will be done. I do not want to delay the House, but I will not withdraw this amendment because I am so anxious to see justice done. Irrespective of what may transpire in Section 47, as things stand, I feel an injustice is being done. An unfair statement was made about racetrack managers. When the board comes into operation, surely if they find a track manager not playing the game, they will have the remedy in their own hands. They are fully covered. They have plenty of power under the Bill to deal with that.
Until such time as this board is in operation and can make an investigation of the various racetrack managers and managing directors of racetracks I feel that they should stand here as innocent men. The implication here is that they they are otherwise. Until such time as this board finds out for itself that the business of the greyhound tracks is not being carried out properly by the race manager or the managing director of the track, no move ought to be made to discipline that man. I suggest to this House that it is not in accordance with justice if anything else is done. I cannot accept as being in accordance with the facts the arguments made in favour of this section in the report.
I hope Deputy MacEntee is listening to the Deputy.
Is the Minister trying to raise discord between us?
Deputy MacEntee and I have agreed on this amendment and I have got the full support of my colleagues in regard to it. I feel that you are doing the racetrack managers an injustice if you do not accept this amendment. I feel that we should not condemn people until in the full light of the examination of this board they have been found guilty. Then only should they be castigated as they have been castigated in this report.
I think the Deputy has already said that.
I would submit, Sir, that you cannot say a good thing too often but I will try not to repeat myself. I only wish to say that I will press this amendment because I feel that it is just and fair and I appeal to the Minister to consider the points that I have raised.
I think the Minister is wrong in suggesting that the racing manager of a greyhound track is like a steward of the Turf Club. As far as I know he is not. He is an employee of the particular racetrack and he is not supplied, like a steward of the Turf Club is supplied, to handicap the horses. He is a direct employee of that particular track. I think the Minister was wrong in stating that he was some person apart who has no other function except to operate the machinery of the tracks.
If the Minister has it in mind to provide a functionary as a racing manager it is a different thing altogether. I believe that the section, if it is carried as it is, would allow the board to prevent a shareholder or anyone with an interest in a small racetrack from performing any of the functions at a greyhound race-meeting. To my knowledge, and it is a limited knowledge, it is the shareholders who perform all these functions at the tracks. If the board were to force a small racetrack to employ and to pay salaries to a different group of people such as vets and judges, that small racetrack would probably have to close down completely. I do not know if there is anything wrong in principle in an employee of a racetrack or a limited liability company being a shareholder. I do not think there can be anything wrong in it. He is an employee and he will serve his employers who are the directors of the board. If he is employed to prepare race-cards, match dogs and supervise the races I can see nothing wrong with it. If the board is to insist on a new group of people outside those who are employed in that capacity at the moment it might be found that some of these racetracks would not be able to function at all.
I am much impressed with what the Deputy says. If Deputy Burke will withdraw the amendment, I shall look into the whole question again between this and the Report Stage, but I must have regard to paragraph 77 of the report. I shall reexamine this question in the light of what Deputy Burke says. What more can I say?
If the Minister had not quoted paragraph 77, I would have been very impressed. We have here a document of 188 pages and the Minister only uses those paragraphs that suit himself and does not refer at all to the ones that do not suit him.
We are bringing in here much needed legislation and very strict controls. None of us disagrees with the report to the extent that we know there have been very serious abuses in many places. When we are legislating here to set up a board that will have, not only control, but also the power of disciplinary action to the extent of revoking the licence of a track, we must have regard to the fact that over the years certain people, by their efforts and their hard work and by their investment have created a certain position. We must not now suddenly put these people out of existence by legislation, particularly when it possibly concerns individuals who have reached the stage in life when they cannot find alternative employment. Possibly this is the only walk in life in which such a person has experience. You cannot put a track out of business by disemploying certain people from certain work because they have a financial interest as a shareholder.
The Minister must take into consideration the fact that, whether or not that person in the past may have been guilty of some infringement or of some wrong, at least in the future that person is going to be under a control which did not previously exist. I should like the Minister to say in some stronger fashion, more in line with the amendment itself that, while it may not be permissive in the future for the board to permit a person who is a shareholder, large or small, to suddenly take up the job, which he did not have before, of breeding dogs, where a man has been doing that up to the present, we must be fair and say: "If we framed the Bill before you started, there would not have been a hope but you are there now; you have spent almost a lifetime in grading and we are not going to take it away from you because we know if you misbehave you will go out the gate anyway." Surely that is sufficient?
I do not mind if the Minister does not want this amendment in the exact words here but if he gives us an undertaking that he will bring in an amendment that will safeguard the position of such people, particularly the case that has been stated by Deputy Burke, we will reach some understanding.
I think there is great force in the Deputy's observations but I would ask the Deputy to ask Deputy Burke to put down an amendment himself. I will try to put down an amendment and we can see which is the better one on the Report Stage.
I do not want to hold up the Bill but I would be glad if the Minister would consider again this question from another angle. When I was last on my feet I was making the case that the section was too far-reaching in so far as it prohibited a person from having any beneficial interest in the income from shares and I tried to point out that if a person's income was derived from the holding of shares I did not see that any acute conflict of interests could arise. But there are other activities which possibly would create a conflict of interests. So far as I can see there is nothing in this section which would prohibit a racing track manager from training greyhounds. He would not own them; he might train them on behalf of another person. I cannot see anything in this section—there may be something in another section—to prevent him from training or breeding greyhounds. If the racing manager was dishonest and if the board is lax, that could happen. It is important that the board should be alive to its responsibilities and enforce its regulations strictly. Then perhaps some of these difficulties would not arise but there are those two activities in which it would be much more proper to prohibit a racing manager from engaging than to prohibit him from holding shares in a greyhound track.
I think the Deputy will find the training matter is covered in Section 37.
Does that relate to officers of the board or officers of the club? Section 37 provides:—
"(1) The board may make regulations for the control of the training of greyhounds for reward.
(2) Regulations under this section may, in particular, make provision for—
(a) prohibiting persons from training greyhounds for reward save under and in accordance with licences granted by the board at its discretion,
(b) the making by the board of charges in respect of the grant, retention or renewal of licences,
(c) the attachment of conditions to licences,
(d) the suspension and revocation of such licences,
(e) the keeping of records by licensees and the production of such records for inspection and taking of copies or extracts by authorised officers of the board,
(f) the furnishing of information to the board by licensees."
They can attach conditions to the licence to train.
That is attaching conditions to a licence to train. I suggest to the Minister that we are dealing with a different aspect of the board's functions. We are dealing now with the actual regulations and control of the greyhound racetracks.
There are general powers given under sub-section (1) and the powers of sub-section (2) are not to the exclusion of the general powers.
I am not as much a lawyer as the Minister but I think the courts would certainly construe that section very narrowly. I do not know whether, notwithstanding the words which appear here "without prejudice to the generality of sub-section (1)" the things that would be prohibited must be more or less in the same category.
Those words "in particular and without prejudice to the generality" are inserted to defeat exclusion.
It has occurred to me whether it would not be advisable to bring in an amendment prohibiting a racing manager from having any interest in the training, particularly, of greyhounds and, by extension, the breeding of greyhounds and, of course, the sale. However, I want to get back to Deputy Burke's amendment and to suggest to the Minister that, on consideration, he will see that the words in the section are not worth the paper on which they are written because the thing can be so easily evaded. I have in mind particularly the case of a person who is an officer of a greyhound racing track and who owns shares. What is to prevent him from transferring the shares to his wife? Is it not much better that we should face up to the situation and delete the reference to income derived from the holding of shares? That would perhaps narrow it sufficiently. If the Minister does that I think Deputy Burke might withdraw his amendment in those circumstances. Will the Minister bring in an amendment to cover the points we are making?
I shall try to do that but I would invite Deputy Burke to put down an amendment of this character lest mine might disappoint him.
We are getting through these sections quite rapidly and this one is almost a statute in itself. This is a section which consists of almost two pages. We have had time to read it, but I am wondering whether it is not too sweeping. We have already detected one case where the provisions are much too far-reaching, I think, to be even workable. I wonder whether there is not some other aspect of the section which would require further consideration. I do not wish to hold the Minister up. I know we have had time to look at this but this is an important Bill and we are debating it in a very depleted House. The Minister will realise that we are not omniscient and there are aspects of this particular section which might call for discussion. We will let the section go if the Minister would, on consideration, recommit it—because it is one of the difficult sections in the Bill—when we have a fuller attendance. We could hold up the business by calling a House.
Will the Minister undertake to recommit it?
I do not think that is a fair request to make. It has been a fortnight in the hands of the Opposition. If you want to recommit it I will say "yes", but I would ask the cooperation of Deputies in getting the sections dealt with. We have proceeded very slowly so far but if the Deputy wants the section specially recommitted, very well.
Some of our colleagues are not here and some of the members of the Minister's own Party are not here.
We are here.
I am merely trying to protect the interested people who, for reasons which are common to both sides of the House, are not here.
We are here and we are quite prepared to handle the Bill but if the Deputy wants this section recommitted on the Report Stage, very well.
Very well; thank you. That is sufficient.
I move amendment No. 16, in the name of Deputy O'Malley:—
Before sub-section (5) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
(5) The board may require the club to contribute towards the general expenses of the board to assist it in fulfilling its functions under this Act such proportion of the net revenue of the club as in the opinion of the board is reasonable.
Deputy O'Malley is at present on active service.
And may be a casualty.
Do not invite me to get out of order here. You do not talk like that in the restaurant.
Look at the clock. Tá sé ag dul ar aghaidh.
I was going to say to the Parliamentary Secretary that he would not talk like that in the restaurant. He might be invited to test the views I hold in another way.
The club referred to here is the Irish Coursing Club and the Irish Coursing Club in this Bill, if passed in its present form, will be the octopus.
I wonder if the Deputy would be good enough to do this? Would he apply his mind to the constitutionality of that amendment? How far would that amendment, if passed, conform to the Constitution?
I do not think it would be repugnant at all.
No more repugnant than to attempt to take away the livelihood of a fellow who is already making his living in the racetrack. There was no suggestion there that the Constitution should be invoked.
I do not think this House has power to compel the Deputy to give his money to a third party.
The Minister is compelling everybody here to give some contribution. He will compel the bookies to give a levy.
No. I will compel the bookies to collect a levy from the betting public.
I am coming back on that. The Minister made a very serious mistake in stating yesterday that the bookmakers do not pay any levy whatsoever. I have a little sum which I will present to him at some stage from which he will find that he made a very grave mistake and that they do pay a levy and are heavy payers of the levy out of their own gross profits. That does not arise on this amendment. The Bill does impose on the bookmakers a levy.
Not a penny. I do not believe they pay a penny of levy. It imposes it on the bettors, maybe.
Very well; we will go into it. The Minister, last night, in his innocence, said that the public pays the levy entirely and absolutely. That is not correct. I went to the trouble last night of trying to get some education on this matter after the Adjournment. I finally solved this. If I am a bookmaker and have a turnover of £10,000 in a year—I take that merely as a figure for the purpose of illustration— and I lose £9,000 to my clients——
Then you are "bust" wide open. That is the answer to that.
Very well. If I lose £5,000 to my clients, I collect from them the levy on the £5,000 which they have collected from me. I have £5,000 left, but I have to pay the levy on that £5,000, and there is no allowance given to me for the cost of entrance, for the payment of staff and for my own livelihood. The Minister, if he examines that proposition, will find I am correct and he is wrong.
Would the Deputy take it amiss——
I will not take anything amiss from the Minister.
——if I say that his description of the situation is as daft as a halfpenny watch, though I appreciate the skill with which he has made the case.
It is not a question of skill. I am prepared to get the evidence of gentlemen who have been paying levies for a great number of years. That is how it works out. The Minister need not attribute to me skill in this argument. He can accept from me that I have consulted a number of bookmakers to find out the exact position, because I was amazed at what the Minister said last night. I am informed by them that what I have said is the position, except that I believe it is more like £1,000 out of £10,000 that they would make in the year than £5,000. I can get further written evidence certified by some of their auditors. Perhaps then the Minister will accept it. I am telling him it is correct.
The Minister has introduced levies on the bookmakers, on the public, and he has introduced in respect of the racetrack owners a commitment to give free a site for the tote, the income from which does not go into their pockets. Now he says that it would be unconstitutional to ask the majestic organisation which, according to the Minister, will have four representatives on the board, to make any contribution whatever. Is that equitable? Surely, the club can find ways and means, from all its minor clubs in all its four districts, of giving a contribution, if the board find it necessary to request something from them for the great services this board will render primarily to the Irish Coursing Club, for whom there is a Schedule in the Bill and which will have four of the seven representatives on the board.
If the Minister's only fear is that acceptance of the amendment might result in a test in court as to constitutionality, I think he could easily take that risk. I do not think it entered anyone's mind, until the Minister mentioned it here, that that was the objection he would have to it. I am sure Deputy Finlay would be a very competent person to indicate whether or not acceptance of this amendment would put the Bill in jeopardy in regard to constitutionality.
I ask the Minister to recognise that the amendment is worthy of acceptance, because everybody has to pay. Everybody who is being brought into the scope of this Bill and, ultimately, under the management of the control board, including the public, will pay.
The only people who will escape any payment at all, are those for whose benefit this Bill has been brought in.
I should like to say that, on the merits, I do not think this proposal is a good one. I want to make several points on this amendment. On the merits, I do not think it is a good proposal that you should give the board the right to demand an arbitrary sum from the club, just because the board is reorganising the industry. I am assuming that the board and the club are working in close collaboration for the general betterment of the industry. I would not exclude the possibility of the club contributing money to the board for some specific purpose —if the club wanted the board to do some particular job, they could make some contribution out of their funds to that end. I think it is a somewhat revolutionary proposal to suggest that this House could legislate to the effect that Seán MacEntee must pay £1,000 a year to Robert Briscoe.
I wish he would.
But does that not strike the Deputy at once as an entirely new principle? It is a perfectly legitimate thing for the House to make legislation providing that Seán MacEntee, Robert Briscoe or James Dillon must pay taxes.
For some service rendered?
Income-tax can be imposed upon us all, but there does seem to be something revolutionary in the proposal that this House should take power to compel by legislation one person to pay money to another person. It may be that I am wrong and that, on closer examination, this is not an unconstitutional proposal. On the merits, however, I think it would only give rise to trouble, if it means that the board is going to be in a position to requisition from the club large lumps of its funds. Should that happen, the whole purpose of our legislation has failed, because I can see this business going on and becoming a running war between the Irish Coursing Club and the board. I want to see collaboration between them.
I must say I fail to appreciate the Minister's fear as to whether or not this amendment would be repugnant to the Constitution. Neither do I appreciate why he should consider the amendment so revolutionary, having regard to the proposals he himself has embodied in this section. After all, what are we asking? Just this, that "the board may require the club to contribute towards the general expense of the board to assist it in fulfilling its functions under the Act such proportion of the net revenue of the club as in the opinion of the board is reasonable."
First of all we are asking them merely to make a contribution from their net revenue, after they have charged their expenses out of their profits. I do not think we are asking too much. As Deputy Briscoe has pointed out, we are compelling the bookmakers to pay a levy to the board; we are compelling the patrons who go to the tracks and bet on the totalisator to contribute to the support of the board and provide it with finances to enable it to carry out its functions efficiently. I do not see, therefore, why we should exclude the club which, under this Act, is being perpetuated. The Minister appears to have overlooked the provisions of sub-section (2) of this section which states:
"The club is hereby recognised as being, subject to the provisions of this Act and of the constitution of the club and subject to the general control and direction of the board, the controlling authority for the breeding and coursing of greyhounds."
I think the Minister is not listening to me.
I think he is discussing the constitutional position.
I was referring the Minister to his own proposal under sub-section (2) of the section. Surely, that infringes much more deeply upon the rights of the ordinary private individual in this country than does the proposal contained in this amendment. This means that nobody else can purport to set up an authority to control breeding or coursing. A man was, perhaps within the limits the Irish Coursing Club would permit him to do so, at liberty to go out and start a coursing meeting, or even to start his own stud book. The Irish Coursing Club was born, we are told, as the result of private individuals who were interested in the sport coming together, and now they are allowed to prevent people from following their example by setting up a competing organisation.
Under this sub-section, no other persons will be competent to set themselves up as an authority to control breeding or coursing in this country. The Minister has given the club all this sweeping control, and the only difficulty about the thing is that many of us who have some knowledge of it are doubtful as to whether the Minister is justified in perpetuating the Irish Coursing Club at all. Deputy Burke has his own views; I have mine, and I know there are other people outside the House who have views which are much stronger than mine on this subject. But this is a matter upon which there are differences of opinion and the Minister, disregarding these differences of opinion, proposes to make the Irish Coursing Club the controlling authority for the breeding and coursing of greyhounds.
We are asked, to some extent, to ensure that breeding cannot be profitable in Ireland, and if breeding is unprofitable in Ireland, of course, greyhound breeders will not be able to pay the fees to maintain the Irish Coursing Club; they will not be able to give the Irish Coursing Club the substantial revenue of £16,000 a year. Breeding cannot be profitable in present circumstances, unless we have greyhound racing and greyhound racing tracks. Therefore, it seems to me that to be quite logical and sensible, since we are by law making provision for the better management of the tracks, making better provision for the shop window of the industry and therefore making it more profitable for people to breed greyhounds and thus create a greater source of revenue for the Irish Coursing Club, that, as a matter of course, we should get the club to contribute to the support of the board which is being set up under this Bill.
I think that that is quite a logical, quite a reasonable provision to make, and quite a reasonable obligation to impose on the Irish Coursing Club. It is all the more reasonable when, as Deputy Briscoe has reminded the House, the Minister has bound himself to take four members of the standing committee of the club—I think it is going to be called the executive committee of the club afterwards—and put them on the Racing Board, giving them control of that board, and giving them a majority on the Racing Board. All we have suggested here is that the Racing Board controlled by the four members of the standing committee of the Irish Coursing Club, should have power to require the club to contribute towards the general expenses of the board, to assist it in fulfilling its functions under this section. I think that that is entirely reasonable and at least I, as a layman do not anticipate that the court would in any way find it to be repugnant to any provision of the Constitution, certainly not any more repugnant than some of the provisions of the Bill. I suggest to the Minister, therefore, that he should accept the principle in the amendment and enable the board to require the Irish Coursing Club to contribute towards the expenses of the board in fulfilling its functions under the Minister's own Act.
On this amendment, I appeal as one with my colleagues. I know we have to be impartial here and we must try to make this Bill a good Bill for everybody. While I have my affiliations with the Irish Coursing Club, I am here as a Deputy to do my duty to all sections of the people and I have great pleasure in supporting my colleagues in their view, because if the board is to be a success I feel it is essential that there should be greater cohesion between the Irish Coursing Club and the board. I do not see anything wrong with the amendment in asking the Irish Coursing Club to contribute towards this board. The board will have a specific function and a very big job to do. It was set up primarily to encourage and promote the greyhound industry within the country but I do not see why the Irish Coursing Club should not make a contribution towards the board and towards the functions the board will have to carry out to improve the industry.
I am taking that stand from the national point of view and on behalf of the industry generally because we cannot have two bodies running contrary to each other in trying to improve the industry. The Irish Coursing Club has done a good job as far as it is concerned; now we are setting up a board to do a better job and setting it up for the purpose of improving the greyhound industry, helping the industry from the breeder up, helping the various small groups to do all the various other things that are necessary to improve the industry.
I cannot see how it is unconstitutional to ask the parent body that has succeeded in carrying on its business since 1916 to make a contribution towards the board.
It would seem to me that the movers of this amendment are losing sight of the ultimate, or what is likely to be the ultimate result of levying in any way a contribution from the Irish Coursing Club to the board. As I understand the position, the Irish Coursing Club, as reformed under the Bill, will ultimately have three sources of income, one of which is fees—affiliation and registration fees—its ordinary fees which will be charged to breeders and owners and racers of greyhounds. Whether in the form of affiliation fees of various clubs or in the form of individual fees for registration and marking of dogs, these are sources of income. The second source of income will be from the owners of the greyhound racetrack which is one of its subsidiaries.
This is the board the Deputy is talking about?
No, I am talking about the Irish Coursing Club. As I understand it, the Irish Coursing Club will have, as a subsidiary, the investments —put it that way—including theSporting Press and the greyhound racing-track. The other source of income will be the fees paid by members and fees in the form of registration fees.
But not licensing of greyhound racetracks?
No, that is correct. If you give power to take from the Irish Coursing Club some annual stipend, levy, tax or contribution where is it to come from? There is absolutely no justification for imposing a levy directly or indirectly, on the one greyhound racetrack which is run by the Irish Coursing Club and not imposing it on all the other greyhound racetracks.
I take it those who propose this amendment do not suggest that, and therefore, presumably, the suggestion is that the Irish Coursing Club is to pay to this board out of its annual collection of registration, affiliation and licence fees, some amount. The board already has power to levy, either directly or indirectly on all sections of the greyhound industry, and I do not see how we could possibly justify—or what possible purpose it would serve —giving power to levy directly on the Irish Coursing Club, with the idea, presumably, that the minute the board goes to collect £1,000 a year from the Irish Coursing Club, the Irish Coursing Club—as one would expect—will increase licence, registration affiliation and stud book fees, and re-levy on the increase to the ordinary people in the industry.
I must confess I cannot possibly see the point of this amendment. The only thing that would give it any point at all is if it were an attempt to tax the greyhound racetrack run by the Irish Coursing Club when no other greyhound track can be taxed. I do not think that is the intention. I think that would be too unfair and I do not believe——
Why should not one help the other?
Why should not the Irish Coursing Club help the board, or the board help the Irish Coursing Club if necessary?
That is a very different proposition. I can see quite a plausible suggestion which could be made to enable the Irish Coursing Club if it felt so disposed, to assist the board or to enable the board to assist the Irish Coursing Club, but the suggestion before us is that the board can get, whether the Irish Coursing Club likes it or not, a contribution each year from the Irish Coursing Club. I say in plain language that you are going to stick a plaster ultimately on the ordinary people concerned in the greyhound industry. The board has already got adequate power to raise its finances out of the industry. To give it indirect power will not add to its revenue or change the pocket out of which the money will ultimately come. On that basis alone, I cannot understand where the proposals are in this amendment to suggest from where the money is to come. It is simple to suggest that it is to come from the Irish Coursing Club, but where is it to come from after that? It can come either from the pockets of the ordinary owners, breeders and racers of greyhounds, or from the tracks which are owned by the Irish Coursing Club. The first is not fair and the second is not practical.
I had hoped that Deputy Finlay would have given us clarification in regard to the first objection which was raised to the amendment. Obviously, since he did not advert to it, it does not arise. We are clear about the constitutional issue.
The Deputy should never presume anything from silence.
From the Deputy, I would. The Deputy dealt with the financial implications for the Irish Coursing Club if the amendment were accepted. Before I refer to the amendment, however, I must say I was rather amused that the Minister, on the Second Reading of this Bill, should emphasise, with a certain amount of patriotism, the fact that the birth of the Irish Coursing Club took place in 1916. The year 1916 is a famous year because it gave birth, on the one hand, to the nation in so far as we have control over the Twenty-Six Counties and, on the other hand, it gave birth to the Irish Coursing Club. There, therefore, seems to be a certain sanctity attached to the Irish Coursing Club because of the year of its birth.
The Minister quoted the Report on the Greyhound Industry and Deputy Finlay took certain little phrases out of it. I propose to put on record the paragraph which is the father to the thought of this amendment. Paragraph 150, on page 61 of the report, states:—
"We have already recommended that all fees in connection with coursing and breeding should be lodged with the reorganised Irish Coursing Club and that the club should be charged with responsibility for the publication of theSporting Press, and for the printing business known as “The Greyhound and Sporting Press, Limited.” Consequently the new club will have a sizeable annual income. We have previously proposed that final appeal should lie with the control board in respect of the financial operations of the club. Apart from this, and in the belief that efficient control and equitable distribution of its finances are essential if the club is to fulfil its functions properly, we are of opinion that the newly constituted club should at the outset establish a finance committee comprising members prepared to attend regularly and including, if possible, a person well versed in accounting matters.”
Paragraph 151 states:—
"As the new club will receive considerable income from breeding and coursing interests, it—rather than the control board—will be expected to undertake primary responsibility for schemes for the improvement of standards in coursing matters and also standards of breeding, e.g. by the introduction of a premium dog scheme or the establishment of a central stud to enable owners to have their bitches mated with first-class dogs at reasonable fees. The new club might also examine the possibilities of artificial insemination in the breeding of greyhounds. In order to finance any such projects or experiments, we believe the club should require any subsidiary company to contribute substantially to its revenues."
Any contribution to the club has to be substantial. The paragraph goes on:—
"We do not assume that the new club will have as large a revenue as the present Irish Coursing Club for in the first place licensing fees formerly accruing to the Irish Coursing Club will in future be paid to the control board."
I do not know where that is brought in in the Bill. There is no licensing fee, other than the licensing of a greyhound racing track. All the other licensing fees go to the Irish Coursing Club. The paragraph goes on:—
"We anticipate moreover that the new club may modify the present scale of registration fees. On the other hand, we assume that its finance committee will revise the financial structure of the club to fit future needs, subject to approval of such proposals by the control board. We have no doubt that any such adjustment should provide that the relatively large revenues of the club should in future be utilised to help greyhound breeding and the sport of coursing rather than be invested elsewhere."
I hope Deputy Finlay is listening to the reference to the very poor circumstances and conditions of the Irish Coursing Club. In paragraph 146 of the report, it is stated "the board might at its discretion decide to make a grant towards the funds of the Irish Coursing Club."
It is the exact opposite.
It is the exact opposite now because the Minister is not, in the Bill, proposing to take the fees recommended to be taken from the Irish Coursing Club towards the maintenance of the board. That is why I read the extract. There is no use using one part of this recommendation when the Minister adopts it and ignoring it when the Minister does not adopt it. What I want to say is this. It is agreed, as a result of the examination, that the Irish Coursing Club has a very considerable income and very considerable reserves as a result of this magnificent income.
Suppose Deputy Finlay's argument were correct—I am not quoting him exactly—and that it could be used to mean that such fees would be put on to the Irish Coursing Club, regulated by the board, which would reduce the club's income considerably so that they would not have very much to give away, and that as a result any other demand on them would have to be imposed very heavily on the greyhound owners and breeders, what I say is that the board should have power to demand a contribution to the general funds of the board from the Irish Coursing Club. It could easily do it on the basis of a percentage of the revenue.
I do not know what the registration fee is. I do not know what the fee is for other services which this club renders, but I feel that 10 per cent. of the fees should be reserved for the board's general operations, depending upon the income. The report recommends that there shall be some contribution for certain purposes which now will be dealt with by the board and not by the club.
What I read implies that, if anything, the existing fee should be reduced. Time will show whether they will have any surplus. They are not supposed to have a surplus for the purpose of investing it. It would be all the same to the breeding industry if the board said that, instead of improving such and such track for £1,000, they would like to give that £1,000 to the board for its requirements. What difference would that make to the man who paid the fee for a specific purpose? The purpose is served and he does not ask any question afterwards as to what happens to the money, as he never did in the past. What is wrong with including it in the Bill?
If Deputy Finlay happens to be correct in his forecast, the fact of having this amendment included in the Bill will not make it mandatory on the Irish Coursing Club to pay something beyond its capacity. Obviously the board will not put the Irish Coursing Club out of business by making heavy demands on it. It will be a most sympathetic board so far as the Irish Coursing Club is concerned. I do not know whether the Irish Coursing Club are the papa or the mamma of the members of the board but, if they are not, they are certainly the "kids" of the members of the board so they are obviously going to be sympathetic: they are one and the same.
We talk here of no fewer than four members of the Irish Coursing Club being on this board. There is no guarantee that the other two members whom the Minister has to select may not also be members of the Irish Coursing Club in some form, whether it be four or six, it makes no difference because they have the majority.
What is going to happen if, in the course of time, the Irish Coursing Club continues to have an ever-increasing surplus? Surely the board has a right to say how it will be disposed of, including what they are precluded from doing now—a contribution to the board itself towards its responsibility to the breeding industry as a whole. I ask the Minister to be reasonable and to put it in the Bill. It will not destroy the Irish Coursing Club. There may be a fear, if you like, that at some time in the distant future the constitution of the board may not be exactly as it is expected to be at the moment and that, therefore, at that time, the Irish Coursing Club might find that the board is, in their opinion, a little bit too hard or heavy in the sense of their contribution to the general headquarters. I do not see that happening as the Bill is now and I certainly urge the Minister to accept this amendment because the fears that Deputy Finlay seems to express are very small little ghosts; they are not something the Irish Coursing Club need even be worried about. Therefore, I urge the Minister to accept this amendment.
I cannot accept the amendment. The case has been put with such cogency by Deputy Finlay that I do not propose to add to it except to adopt what he said.
I think it is right to point out to the House that there is no vision of any such mandatory contribution as that by the Racing Board to the Turf Club. There is nothing in this Bill as it stands at present to prevent the Irish Coursing Club from making any grant it wants to make to the control board from time to time. I do not propose to ask the House to put anything into this Bill empowering the board to compel the Irish Coursing Club to make a contribution. There is nothing in the Bill to prevent the Irish Coursing Club from making a contribution.
There is nothing in the Fianna Fáil constitution preventing me from giving a contribution to Fine Gael, although it is not likely that I would do so.
I do not know why the Minister should insist on bringing in the Irish Racing Board as a red herring on this debate. This Bill is not founded on the Irish Racing Board. It ought to have been based on the report of the Minister's own advisory committee. I do not think we have referred to that board. I did not refer to that board to-night and I do not think anybody else did until Deputy Finlay dragged it into this debate. It is because the Minister is rejecting the conclusions of his own committee and ignoring their recommendations that we are concerned to ensure that the fruits of their labours are not going to be lost to the greyhound industry, that the reforms which they recommended should be carried out will be carried out in a practical and real way.
The section to which this amendment has been put down provides for the reorganisation of the Irish Coursing Club. The more one looks into the proposals of the Minister as set out in the Schedule, the more one sees that the Irish Coursing Club, though it may be reorganised in name, will certainly not be reformed in nature or character. That is what we are concerned about on this Bill.
Deputy Finlay has referred to the report of the advisory committee dealing with the finances of the reorganised Irish Coursing Club. Let me again remind the House of what the advisory committee did recommend in that regard. I shall quote now from page 61, paragraph 150, of the report of the advisory committee on the greyhound industry. Let me repeat again that this is the report of the Minister's own committee. At that paragraph, the members of the committee say:—
"We have already recommended that all fees in connection with coursing and breeding should be lodged with the reorganised Irish Coursing Club and that the club should be charged with responsibility for the publication of theSporting Press, and for the printing business known as the Greyhound and Sporting Press Limited. Consequently the new club will have a sizeable annual income. We have previously proposed that final appeal should lie with the control board in respect of the financial operations of the club.”
There are very important recommendations there—that the club should be charged with responsibility for the publication of theSporting Press and for the printing business known as “The Greyhound and Sporting Press, Limited”. So far as I can see, there is nothing in the Bill giving effect to that recommendation. I mention that because it is relevant to the argument which I am going to make in a moment.
"We have previously proposed that final appeal should lie with the control board in respect of the financial operations of the club."
There is nothing in the Bill to give effect to that recommendation either. Therefore, I assume that, because the Irish Coursing Club is reorganised under this Bill it is not going to have responsibility for the publication of theSporting Press and for the very profitable printing business known as “The Greyhound and Sporting Press, Limited”. It is not going to have the sizeable income which the advisory committee anticipated it would have if effect were given to all the recommendations of the committee in regard to the reorganisation of the club. I wonder if that is why the Minister is refusing to accept the amendment.
If the amendment were accepted, then naturally I think we should assume that the other steps necessary to give the club the sizeable annual income to which the advisory committee has referred would be taken. Furthermore, we assume that if these steps were taken the control board, the Greyhound Industry Board, as it is styled in the Bill, would be the final arbiter in respect of the financial operations of the club. It was in order to ensure that the club would have a sizeable income, in order to ensure that official appeal would lie to the control board in respect of the financial operations of the club, that we put down this amendment. If there is one thing that is clear from the report of the advisory committee, it is that it is essential that steps should be taken to put the financial operations of this club, the Irish Coursing Club, upon a proper basis from the point of view of the public interest. The Minister may take refuge behind what Deputy Finlay said, but the Minister should himself justify to the House his reasons for rejecting, or for failing to act upon, the recommendations contained in paragraph 150 of the report of his own advisory committee.
In paragraph 151 that advisory committee goes on to point out that if the committee's proposals are accepted:—
". . . the club will receive considerable income from coursing and breeding interests, it—rather than the control board—will be expected to undertake primary responsibility for schemes for the improvement of standards in coursing matters and also standards of breeding."
Nobody will quarrel with the suggestion that the club should undertake primary responsibility for the breeding and coursing of greyhounds. That would seem to be quite a legitimate responsibility to impose upon it; but, if we are going by legislation to compel greyhound owners and breeders in this country to accept the authority of the Irish Coursing Club, surely we are quite entitled to empower the greyhound industry board that we are setting up under the Bill to require the club out of its sizeable income, out of its considerable income, out of all these other assets which it had and which I hope it still has, to contribute towards the expenses of the board. That is all we are asking.
It seems to me to be a very reasonable thing to look for and I cannot see why the Minister should wipe out, with a wave of his hand, all the very solid and substantial reasons upon which his own advisory committee based their recommendations to him. The Minister is in a unique position in relation to this Bill. He set up the advisory committee. That committee was composed of men of his own choosing and men, I assume, upon whose good sense, wisdom and judgment he would in all normal transactions rely. Yet, he is rejecting their recommendations in respect of these very important matters. We have endeavoured in this amendment to ensure that these recommendations will be accepted to the extent that the board will be in a position to supervise the financial operations of the club and when these yield a substantial surplus, as they ought to do, then the board should be able to secure a contribution out of that surplus towards its own expenses.
I have said that when Deputy Finlay was speaking, he did not exactly say that the Coursing Club was an impoverished institution but one gathered that he sympathised with the straitened circumstances in which it existed and endeavoured to fulfil its obligations. I have not got any later figures unfortunately than those which are contained in the report but I find that—I am quoting from Table VI on page 49 of the report—for the year ended 30th June, 1948, the gross income of the club was returned as £24,420. Its gross expenditure in that year was £16,548 and it had a surplus, before deduction of income-tax, of no less than £7,872. I grant you, for some reason or other, the picture changed in 1949 because, for the year ending 30th June in that year, the gross income amounted to only £20,600. It had fallen by £4,420, but the gross expenditure had jumped to £20,879 and there was a deficit in that year of £279.
After having paid income-tax of——?
Yes. Of course, another reason may have been—we had better advert to it before half-past ten——
Would the Deputy mind saying what income-tax was paid in that year?
£4,294. They paid income-tax to that extent in that year, but they paid it to the Coalition Government. Perhaps that is one of the blessings which befell——
I suppose at this hour of the night any nonsense or insanity will do.
After one year of Coalition Government, the gross income of the club had fallen from £24,420 to £20,600 so that the Coalition may be said to have cost the Irish Coursing Club £3,800 of revenue in one year.
That may have been the economic war to which the editor referred in his leading article a couple of weeks ago.
I want to conclude by quoting the last figure available to me. For the year ending 30th June, 1950, the gross income of the club had continued to fall. It fell to £16,890; but apparently some person decided he was going to put the officers of the club into a hair shirt because the gross income in that year was £15,814 and there was a surplus, before deduction of income-tax, of £1,076.
Is this the considerable income the club has?
The considerable income ranged from £24,000 to £20,000 and then down £16,000. But there was considerable expenditure also on the part of the club. The Parliamentary Secretary will allow me to say, before I sit down, that it is the expenditure, as well as the income, we are after because this report has something to say about the expenditure and we are very anxious to ensure that, if this club is to be reorganised, the fruits of that reorganisation will inure to the greyhound owner and breeder in this country. That is why, as I have said, we put down this amendment to enable the controlling body of the whole greyhound industry to ensure that the Irish Coursing Club will contribute its fair share to the development of the industry. I move to report progress.