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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 13 Feb 1958

Vol. 165 No. 2

Greyhound Industry Bill, 1957—Second Stage.

On behalf of the Minister for Agriculture, I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time. The Bill replaces the Greyhound Industry Bill, 1955, which was awaiting the Report Stage in the Dáil at the dissolution early in 1957. Accordingly, it perished with the then House. Explanatory notes on the provisions of the Bill have been circulated for the convenience of Deputies, and the notes include particulars of the differences between the present Bill and its predecessor.

The general purpose of the Bill is to improve the system of regulating the breeding, coursing and racing of greyhounds and to promote the quite important export trade in greyhounds. The position of the Irish Coursing Club is dealt with in the Bill. I should explain that in its early years this organisation had to deal only with the regulation of breeding and coursing. The advent of greyhound racing introduced a growing commercial element which has shaped the industry as we know it to-day and which indeed has given rise to the major problems with which this Bill is concerned.

As is perhaps generally known, the rapid expansion of greyhound racing in Britain created something of a boom in the industry here and a big increase took place in the export of greyhounds from this country. These exports rose in value, for example, from about £77,000 in 1938 and £130,000 in 1942 to about £733,000 in 1945 and over £1,000,000 in each of the two following years. With this rapid expansion events proved that the Irish Coursing Club was not providing, or indeed was unable to provide, the degree of control necessary.

In these circumstances, an Advisory Committee on the Greyhound industry was appointed by the then Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Dillon, on the 21st February, 1951, with terms of reference as follows:—

"To ascertain and report on the position respecting coursing, greyhound racing, greyhound breeding and other related activities and such measures, if any, as are considered desirable in the national interest for the better control and development thereof."

The Advisory Committee, which reported in 1952, summarised the position in the concluding section of its report—page 83, paragraph 188— as follows:—

"We have found that no branch of the industry as at present conducted is entirely free from criticism. In connection with breeding and coursing, many well-defined existing rules have not been enforced and have gradually come to be ignored, thus giving rise to irregularities and more or less serious abuses. But it is in connection with greyhound racing that the most serious abuses have been practised with impunity."

Having said that, the committee went on to say:—

"The greyhound industry, in the absence of an export trade in greyhounds, cannot be regarded as an economic proposition. It is, therefore, in the national interest that this trade should be encouraged and developed on a sound and reputable basis. We believe, however, that the full potential of an export trade will not be attained on the basis of greyhound racing and allied activities as at present conducted."

In paragraph 186, page 81, the Advisory Committee had previously stated that its report as a whole is based on the following main recommendations:—

"(1) The reorganisation of the Irish Coursing Club.

(2) The establishment of a control board.

(3) The transfer to the board from the Irish Coursing Club of control of greyhound racing.

(4) The installation of totalisators on city tracks and the imposition of a levy on the betting turnover thereon.

(5) The imposition of a levy on course betting on all tracks.

(6) Supervision by the control board of sales and exports of greyhounds."

Provisions to give effect to these and other recommendations of the Advisory Committee are contained in the Bill. The two central features of the measure are the establishment of the Greyhound Industry Board and the reconstitution of the Irish Coursing Club to regulate in their respective spheres the various branches of the greyhound industry and to provide for its co-ordinated development on a sound basis.

As regards the setting up of a board for the industry, the Advisory Committee's report stated in paragraph 136 on page 56:—

"We have been impressed with the demand from practically all quarters for a control board to be established by an Act of the Oireachtas, somewhat on the lines of the Racing Board——"

that is, under the 1945 Act for horse racing, and also:—

"...We were informed that the Irish Coursing Club is doubtful as to whether it is legally entitled to take the obvious steps to deal with certain abuses and gathered that the club, while naturally desirous of continuing more or less in its present form, would welcome the establishment of a control board."

As regards the reorganisation of the Irish Coursing Club, the Advisory Committee reported in paragraph 126 as follows:—

"With few exceptions, witnesses criticised in greater or lesser degree the administration of the Irish Coursing Club and the standing committee. The criticism was not confined to any particular interest, but that coming from representatives of greyhound breeders was definitely the most severe."

The report then went on to say in the next following paragraph—paragraph 127:—

"While we feel bound to agree that many of the criticisms directed against the Irish Coursing Club are well founded, we also feel that its faults have been largely due to the assumption of functions which were not anticipated by its founders and that the necessary reorganisation of the club did not keep pace with the newly assumed functions and increasing responsibilities."

Finally, in paragraph 128, the committee said:—

"We therefore propose the continuance of the Irish Coursing Club in a reorganised form which we deem to be more representative of the greyhound industry than has heretofore been the case."

In respect of the existing organisation of the club, the criticisms of the Advisory Committee focussed on the preponderant influence exercised by a large block of permanent "elected" members, that is, members elected at general meetings from amongst consistent supporters of coursing, as compared with the "representative" members, that is, members comprising one member each appointed for three-year periods by the affiliated clubs and tracks; and the fact that the influence of persons directly connected with race tracks both in the general body of the club and on its standing committee had become disproportionate.

Under the Bill, the reconstituted Irish Coursing Club is to concern itself primarily with the supervision of greyhound breeding and coursing, subject to the general authority of the Greyhound Industry Board, and the board itself will exercise direct responsibility in regard to the control of greyhound racing, training of greyhounds for reward, public sales of greyhounds, and certain matters relating to the export of greyhounds.

To come to the Bill itself, Part I of the Bill consists of some provisions of a general introductory character. The only point I need mention in regard to them is that under sub-sections (4) and (5) of Section 5, every regulation made by the Greyhound Industry Board, and every rule made by the Irish Coursing Club relating to the racing or training of greyhounds, must be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and may be annulled by either House.

Perhaps I should draw the attention of the House to the fact that the Greyhound Industry Board makes regulations and the Coursing Club only make rules. That distinction runs through the whole Bill and will enable members, if I happen to refer either to the rules or regulations, to identify the appropriate body concerned. I should also point out that the rules and regulations must be laid before the House and may be annulled. This provision should enable the House to scrutinise, if necessary, the operations of the board and the club. It gives the House itself a great measure of control to ensure that the board and the club will operate within the terms and in the spirit of the Bill.

Part II of the Bill deals with the establishment and the general functioning of the Greyhound Industry Board. I should like to say at this stage that, in accordance with the practice adopted under other Bills, it is proposed that a title in Irish should be substituted for the title "Greyhound Industry Board" which appears in the Bill. I intend to table an amendment to deal with this matter on the Committee Stage. The Bill differs——

Who is thinking up the title?

The Bill, as the explanatory notes circulated with it indicate, differs from the 1955 Bill in regard to the constitution of the board. This is covered by Section 9 of the present Bill which provides that three, but not more than three, of the seven members, that is, six ordinary members and the chairman, of the board, will be appointed from among the members of the standing or executive committee of the Irish Coursing Club. The board, as thus constituted, will have considerably wider administrative functions than the Racing Board which was established under the Act of 1945 in connection with horse-racing. The Advisory Committee recommended that the chairman should be appointed by the Minister on a whole-time basis. The ordinary members of the board will be appointed on a part-time basis, their normal term of office being five years.

The Bill provides that the chairman and any officers of the board shall not themselves be beneficially interested in certain aspects of the greyhound industry and associated activities, with which the board would be directly concerned. The board's annual report and accounts must be furnished to the Minister who must lay a copy before each House of the Oireachtas.

Section 16 of the Bill sets out the purposes, conducive to the improvement and development of the various aspects of the greyhound industry, towards which the board may contribute out of its funds. It is visualised that a fairly substantial part of these funds will in course of time come from the operation of totalisators by the board under the authority specified in Section 20 of the Bill. In this connection the Advisory Committee expected that the board would install totalisators, first at the Dublin tracks and later at the Cork and Limerick tracks. The other major source of income of the board, which I shall refer to later, will be, perhaps may be, a levy on course bets with bookmakers.

I should also point out with particular reference to Section 20 that sub-section (2) of that section makes it obligatory for the Minister for Finance to attach to a totalisator licence granted to the board a condition prohibiting credit betting. The provision will, I think, be recognised generally as a desirable one and I should say in regard to it that the Advisory Committee's report—paragraph 157, page 65—stated:—

"...the totalisator which we envisage would provide for cash betting only and would therefore be entirely free from the evils associated with credit betting."

Part III of the Bill deals with the question of the licensing of greyhound tracks by the board and the making of regulations and rules in relation to the various aspects of greyhound racing. Greyhound racing is at present established on the basis of the affiliation of tracks to the Irish Coursing Club and the conduct of racing according to rules drawn up by the club. The licensing of tracks by the board was considered necessary by the Advisory Committee in order to give the board adequate powers to ensure the proper observation of standards in the conduct of racing and to decide in the interests of the industry as a whole what scope there may be for new tracks.

In this connection I should point out that under Section 22 of the Bill the board will be obliged to grant an application for a licence in respect of a race track which was affiliated to the Irish Coursing Club in the year 1957.

Under Section 25 of the Bill, the board will have wide powers to make regulations with respect to the construction and operation of greyhound race tracks and the conduct of greyhound racing. The specific purposes enumerated in sub-section (2) of that section for which the board may provide in such regulations arise out of recommendations made by the Advisory Committee.

Section 25 also provides that the Irish Coursing Club may make rules with respect to race tracks and the conduct of greyhound racing. The rules made by the club will, under sub-section (5) of Section 26 in any event, require the consent of the board and will not, therefore, conflict with the board's regulations.

Part IV of the Bill deals with the reconstitution of the Irish Coursing Club as set out in the proposed new constitution attached as a schedule to the Bill. Subject to the general authority of the board the reconstituted Irish Coursing Club will be statutorily recognised as the controlling body for greyhound breeding and coursing matters. The lines of reconstitution of the club are largely based on the recommendations of the Advisory Committee. The fact that the constitution of the Irish Coursing Club is given statutory authority should, we feel, enable the club to deal drastically with the individuals who may have engaged in malpractices in the past or may engage in them in the future and should also enable the club to restore the good name of all those who are associated with the sport of greyhound racing and coursing.

I should say that only representative members of clubs or tracks may be appointed to the executive committee of the club, which will replace the present standing committee, and the number appointed from each province must include a proportion of coursing club representatives not less than the proportion which the number of clubs in the province bears to the total number of clubs and tracks in the province. In each province there will be a provincial committee consisting of the representative members of the club in the province and while co-opted members ordinarily resident in the province may attend meetings of the provincial committee I should emphasise that they will not have any voting powers. It will be seen, therefore, that the co-opted members will not thus participate in the election of the future executive committee of the club, but may attend and vote at general meetings of the body.

Article 8 of the new constitution of the Irish Coursing Club will provide for a finance sub-committee of the executive committee, which—and this is important—will have responsibility for keeping under review the financial affairs of the club and its subsidiary interests.

Section 26, I should say, is concerned entirely with the reconstitution of the Irish Coursing Club and in sub-section (6) there is a provision that during the period of three years from the coming into operation of the new constitution appointments of members of the executive committee of the club shall be carried out subject to the supervision of the board. This, again, is in accordance with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee, which in paragraph 132, page 55, state:—

"The control board should undertake the first setting up of provincial committees and a board representative should preside at the first meeting in each province."

I am sure it will be agreed that it is most important that there should be full confidence in the arrangements for replacement of the present standing committee by the new executive committee during the transitional stage.

Part V of the Bill deals with the question of a levy on course bets for the purpose of helping to finance the board in its activities. The board will, in this connection, have to be empowered to grant permits authorising licensed bookmakers to carry on their business at greyhound race meetings and coursing meetings. These provisions, I may say, follow generally the provisions which, in the same connection, are embodied in the 1945 Act, relating to horse racing, except that under Section 31 of the present Bill the levy may be replaced at any time, if considered appropriate, by the collection for payment to the board of a specific amount as part of the admission charge for a bookmaker to a greyhound race track or coursing meeting. I should say, in this connection, that it is believed that a levy on course bets cannot be avoided in the early years of the board if sufficient funds are to be available to enable the board to undertake its tasks satisfactorily. Regulations, however, by the board prescribing a levy on course bets will require the consent of the Minister and, as I have already pointed out, all such regulations must be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas. Under the definition of "course bet" in Section 2 of the Bill, all or any coursing meetings may be declared by the board to be exempted as respects levy.

Part VI of the Bill deals with a number of miscellaneous matters, mostly arising out of recommendations made in the Report of the Advisory Committee. I may perhaps refer to one or two. Section 36 gives the board power to make regulations in relation to coursing, but these are not as wide as the powers given under Section 25 in relation to greyhound racing, since coursing will be governed primarily by the rules of the Irish Coursing Club under Article 16 of the club's new constitution, and I should point out that these rules will require the board's consent under sub-section (5) of Section 26.

Under Section 37, both the board and the club are empowered to provide for control of the training of greyhounds for reward. The position in this respect is similar to that under Section 25 in relation to the control of greyhound racing, to which I have already referred.

Section 38 empowers the board to control public sales of greyhounds and Sections 43 to 47 make provision for investigations by the board and Irish Coursing Club into suspected cases of wrongdoing and the taking of disciplinary action where considered necessary.

Section 48 empowers the board to fix charges, primarily admission charges, in relation to greyhound race meetings, coursing meetings and public sales of greyhounds. Under sub-section (2) of that section, maximum admission charges for bookmakers carrying on their business at meetings may not be fixed by the board at a level higher than five times the admission charges for ordinary members of the public, with this proviso, except with the consent of the Minister. The level of five times was prescribed as a maximum in the same connection under the 1945 Act relating to horse-racing. The so-called "minimum" admission charges provided for in respect of bookmakers under sub-sections (5) and (9) of Section 48 are the specific amounts which it might be decided at any time to collect for payment to the board in place of a levy on course bets.

Sections 50 and 51 provide facilities for recourse to an independent appeal committee against decisions by the board in regard to the grant, revocation, etc., of licences and permits, for example, greyhound race track licences, bookmakers' permits and permits authorising officials functioning in certain capacities at greyhound race meetings.

I trust that the Bill now before the House will be accepted by Deputies as providing a satisfactory basis on which regulation of the greyhound industry can be undertaken in a spirit of mutual co-operation for the benefit of the sport in general and the commercial aspects associated with it, in particular, the export trade in greyhounds. Whilst the extent of that trade has not latterly been as much as in the immediate post-war years, it nevertheless reached the very useful figure of £543,000 during the last year, excluding from that figure, of course, temporary exports.

This Bill is substantially the same Bill as I brought in, which was argued at such exasperating length in the past by Deputy MacEntee, as he then was, Deputy Briscoe representing some interest and one or two others of the less significant members of the Fianna Fáil Party. I am not really concerned to discuss this Bill because there is nothing in it of substance which constitutes a change, but I do want to emphasise that I think it is a revolting spectacle that the Minister for Health should be dredged up out of the Custom House for the purpose of venting some disgusting little personal spleen which he has against a man long dead, and I think for a man of the Minister's years to pursue some despicable personal vendetta beyond the grave is a revolting spectacle to decent people, more especially when he rambles in here with his satellites to bespatter the reputation of the dead, as I have no doubt he would like to do and as he did at great length in the course of the discussion of this Greyhound Bill when it was last before the House.

I do not propose to provide him with any occasion to renew that revolting spectacle, but it does, I think, degrade the procedures of this House that, with a Minister for Agriculture appointed by the Taoiseach and approved by the House, in whose Department this Bill was prepared, and on the details of this Bill the officers of that Department are the advisory authority, the Minister for Health should be put forward as the Minister to recommend it to the House. That is a degrading and shocking procedure, more especially when it is done in order to gratify the disedifying desire of the Minister for Health to conduct his, to me, quite disgusting contest with the dead.

I have nothing of substance to add to that, Sir. The Bill was discussed ad nauseam in the House before. As submitted now, it incorporates the Committee Stage and Report Stage amendments that I had offered to the House. There is only one distinction, which is typical of the attitude of the Minister. When the new board was constituted, I desired to pay the same compliment to the Irish Coursing Club in this Bill as was paid to the Turf Club in a previous Bill, the Racing Bill, that is, to provide that in the initial stages there should be four out of seven members of the new administrative body drawn from the Irish Coursing Club and three from outside, but that was accompanied, as it is now accompanied in this Bill, by a proviso that over a two-and-a-half-year period, all these persons would retire and would depend for their continued tenure of office on popular election by the members of the greyhound racing industry so that it did not make any real difference at all; it was merely a matter of paying a compliment to a body of decent men who carried on this business under great difficulties up to this date.

That was opposed in pursuit of this disgusting, degrading vendetta, to which I have already referred, by the Minister for Health and his adjutants. Some of the associates of the Fianna Fáil Party had the decency to be ashamed of him and walked out and left him to his dirty work when he was pursuing that vendetta, but there were a few sidekicks who stuck to him throughout, noticeably Deputy Briscoe, indeed. I wish Deputy Briscoe and the Minister for Health joy of their operations. They may enjoy them. If they do, I hope they will do themselves no harm. My experience has been that those who hate can very rarely injure those they hate; they generally injure themselves. It is high time the Minister for Health woke up to that fact at this stage of his life. He has spent a good part of his life slanging his neighbours. He ought to make up his mind that, at least from henceforward, he will forbear from slanging the dead.

I must say that Deputy Dillon's contribution this morning, when it is read at some future date, will give great enlightenment on his peculiar approach to the greyhound industry as a whole to those who search for reasons attaching to the bringing in of legislation. He said that some of us had certain interests in which we were concerned in this Bill. I do not know to what extent it was in order on the Second Reading, but I take it, from what he has just said, that Deputy Dillon had one specific interest only and not the interests of the public or those engaged in the greyhound industry, from whatever aspect we may judge it.

It is untrue to say that the Bill now before us is the Bill which the former Minister tried to force through this House. It was only at the very latter stages, after a long and protracted series of arguments in this House that, on the Report Stage—possibly when he saw doom approaching him as a Minister and in order to try to get the Bill through—after all our suggested amendments, after hard work and hard argument for many months, the then Minister said "all right". That was because he wanted to preserve one thing only, on which I am glad he has failed, and that the majority of the board will not be his particular friends or those to whom he wishes to erect a monument—persons whom I do not know at all.

But you are contributing to the slander, just the same.

The Deputies now on the Opposition Benches are the greatest experts in slander in this country since its establishment as a free nation. In writing and in spoken word, nobody could consider himself even an apprentice to them in matters of slander and the assassination of people's characters. It is about time they examined what they said in the past and apologised by better behaviour in matters of slander. A Deputy on the Opposition Bench is pointing. He should speak and not point. One can understand speech but can easily misunderstand gestures of that nature.

I welcome this Bill. I congratulate the Government on requesting the present Minister for Health to put it through the Dáil. Nobody paid more attention to every detail of the Bill when it was discussed in the time of the last Coalition Government. I am sure that all the interests concerned —greyhound breeders, the public and every section of those who are concerned with the greyhound industry— will be delighted that the Minister for Health is putting this Bill through the Dáil. Deputy Dillon spoke as if this were a precedent, one Minister acting for another. It has happened regularly in the Dáil, over a great number of years, that, for one reason or another, a Minister will pilot a Bill through the House for a colleague in the Cabinet.

What is the reason in this case?

There is only one section of this Bill on which I am not quite clear—I will not use the word "dissatisfied". I would ask the Minister to re-examine sub-section (2) of Section 48. That is the section that seeks to regulate charges to bookmakers and their staffs when entering greyhound race tracks or coursing tracks to do their business. The Bill says that the entrance charges shall not exceed five times the charge to the public, as a maximum. I would point out that five times the charge to the public, unless there is a minimum, may not work out fairly—I have in mind race tracks in the provinces as distinct from the city area.

Already, by an arrangement for some time past, bookmakers themselves have been paying £1 where, possibly, the entrance charge may not have exceeded 2/6. I do not think the bookmakers as an organisation or association are anxious to disturb that arrangement because they want to see race tracks kept going. On the other hand, when this Bill appeared originally, certain race tracks raised entrance charges to bookmakers in Dublin City from £1 to 32/6—hoping they would have established a fee which the Bill would not disturb and which would, of course, be far in excess of the five times entrance charge.

I think the bookmakers themselves would be agreeable to inserting in the Bill that, if the five times charge has to be exceeded—apart from the protection there is from the laying of it on the Table of the House and the Minister's sanction being required to any excess charge—a maximum charge should be fixed; that, if this five times entrance fee has to be exceeded, then, at no time should it exceed a figure of £2. There is a reason for that. There are certain reasonable grounds for fears on the part of those who make their living as bookmakers and who employ quite a number of clerks and officials.

The Minister may feel that there is adequate and sufficient protection in the section as it stands. I have read it a number of times. I have discussed it with people who say: "This is satisfactory"; I have discussed it with others who read into it other meanings. We all know that, once an Act of Parliament is passed, it is not the intention as expressed here that carries the day in a dispute: it is the exact interpretation of the language of the Act and possibly decided on judicially in that manner.

I appeal to the Minister to consider —between now and the Committee Stage, whenever that will be—whether it may not be advisable, in the interest of making everybody quite satisfied about this particular item, to include maybe the few safeguarding words.

In conclusion, Sir, I should like to say I am very happy to hear that there is now no difference between the members of the Opposition, and Deputy Dillon in particular, and those of us now on this side of the House, that the Bill will get a rapid clearance through the House, that there is nothing now of any great difference. I should like to emphasise again that it is very easy for Deputy Dillon now to say that this was his Bill.

It is his Bill.

Now, Deputy Rooney does not know anything about this Bill.

No; no one knows it but you.

I know a great deal more than the Deputy. I gave some time to the study of this Bill as it came into the House, with a number of my colleagues.

Too much time.

The Deputies on the other side of the House always like to claim that any brilliance which emerges from this side of the House and brings good to anybody is due to their genius, that they put it into our heads, that it was their thought, only they did not express it.

We put this Bill into your heads.

It was the scandal attaching to the greyhound industry generally, the circumstances and conditions in the industry, which forced this Bill into this House. A board of inquiry was set up and brought in a report. On the basis of that report, it was found necessary and imperative to bring in a Bill to control and regulate this industry. Deputy Rooney has been hiding himself for a long while. He is coming in now with new ideas. I suggest to him that, before he speaks on this matter, he should go into the Library, read a couple of volumes of Dáil Debates, study what he is going to talk about and not again leave on the records of this House evidence of his incapacity to deal with these things, in the form of a lot of nonsense that will be recorded for all time against him.

I would simply say on behalf of the Labour Party, that we welcome the fact that regulations are about to be introduced to govern the greyhound industry. I desire to take no part in the argument as to which side brought in the regulations. To us in the Labour movement it is satisfactory to know that, as the need was there, it is about to be met. My Party are prepared to support this Bill.

I am sorry that Deputy Briscoe has gone out, as I had a few matters to take up with him in regard to his remarks. He invited me to read the volumes containing long speeches and the filibustering that took place in connection with this matter. I have no intention of reading that tripe, which was designed only to prevent the previous Minister getting his Bill through.

Deputy Briscoe said the previous Minister brought in his Bill owing to scandals existing in the greyhound world. Those scandals did not come overnight. If they were scandals, he and his colleagues were watching them and tolerating them and doing nothing about them for years before this Bill was designed and introduced.

Deputy Briscoe began here to-day by referring to Deputy Dillon's speech on the Second Reading of this Bill. This Bill is almost identical, line for line, with the Greyhound Industry Bill, the Second Reading of which was taken on 14th December, 1955. It was brought in at that time by Deputy Dillon when he was Minister for Agriculture. Word for word and comma for comma, it was contested across the floor, to prevent what has been admitted now by the Minister for Health will be a very helpful and useful Bill. The Fianna Fáil Government has now swallowed that Bill, hook, line and sinker, with a couple of minor amendments.

The delay in having this Bill brought into force has done great damage to the greyhound industry during that time. I consider that it is two years late, so far as benefit to the industry is concerned. Any benefit that is to come only begins to come now when the Bill goes into operation. Those of us who are familiar with the greyhound industry know that there is a keen demand for Irish greyhounds in England. We know the commercial setup in England, in providing dogs to compete on the tracks. It is an organised industry there from the commercial racing point of view. I would mention at this stage that they are so interested in this type of racing contest that they went into the business of cat racing only last year. It is on record now that cat racing in England in gaining some foothold.

Is the Deputy entering for it?

You could enter, maybe, for something that would rhyme with cat.

The Minister is normally intelligent, but that was particularly dense.

It is the kind of thing to expect from the Minister.

I feel that this Bill will bring great advantages to the greyhound industry. It will encourage the breeding and rearing of greyhounds which in the long run will find their way across the Channel to complete on the racing tracks in England. The dogs in this country are of very high quality, probably owing to the soil, with which our horse-racing successes are also associated.

I am very glad to welcome this Bill and I am sorry that the Minister for Health did not adopt the attitude towards it two years ago which he has adopted to-day. However, I welcome his conversion; I welcome the new attitude which he has adopted towards the greyhound industry in general. I hope that when the Bill goes through the Dáil, there will be no delay on the part of the Fianna Fáil Government in ensuring that the ground lost owing to the hold up of two years will be regained, by making special efforts to bring to the greyhound industry the advantages the Bill was designed to give.

Deputy Rooney seems to be under the misapprehension that the Bill introduced here by the former Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Dillon, is—as he says himself in his own words—with a few minor amendments the same Bill as the Minister is introducing now, line for line, comma for comma. I have here the original Bill introduced by Deputy Dillon. There is very little resemblance between that measure, introduced on 14th December, 1955, and the Bill now before us. Possibly there is a resemblance between some of the minor points in both Bills, but certainly the major sections in Deputy Dillon's Bill and the major sections in this Bill differ vitally; and therein lies the reason why we in our Party considered that we should oppose very rigidly certain of those sections.

As far as I am concerned, this debate should not take very long. The kernel of the argument is contained in the section dealing with the composition of the board. In the old Bill, the control of the industry was vested in the Irish Coursing Club and the existing club was to have four members out of seven on the new board. When that Bill was being discussed we pointed out to the then Minister that in view of the report of the Advisory Committee set up by him, Deputy Dillon, to examine the industry, it would be disastrous to let a body such as the Irish Coursing Club have control of the new board. You could not have controlling the new board a group of people who previously had not been able to carry out their work in a proper manner. It was through these people and their negligence that the greyhound industry fell into the chaotic conditions in which the Advisory Committee found it when carrying out their investigations.

The suggestion has been made that the Minister for Health should not have taken this Bill, that it would have been more appropriate for the Minister for Agriculture to have dealt with it in the House. I am very glad the Minister for Health was able to snatch a few hours off from his precious time at the Custom House to deal with this matter because he has given a great deal of time, both in the House and outside, to studying the various measures necessary for the proper control of the industry. Accordingly, it would not have been appropriate for the Minister for Agriculture to take the Bill through the House because he may not be conversant with the various factors involved and it would have taken him quite a long time to acclimatise himself to the atmosphere surrounding the industry.

I was amazed at the reference by Deputy Dillon to what he called the revolting attitude of the Minister for Health in exercising a personal spleen against the dead. That should not go on record uncontradicted. It was a completely untrue statement and for verification of the Minister's references when dealing with the Bill, one need only study the debates and have reference to the report of the Advisory Committee. The Minister's references during the debate on the other Bill were not aimed at individuals as such: they were aimed at certain deals which took place, at mismanagements that occurred. They contained certain warnings against transactions then envisaged by the Irish Coursing Club.

Were it not for the vigilance of the Minister for Health, then Deputy MacEntee, speaking from the Opposition Benches, Powerstown Park, a valuable property, but listed among the assets of the Irish Coursing Club at £1, would have changed hands by this time. For some reason, Deputy Briscoe was also attacked by Deputy Dillon. Both Deputy Dillon and Deputy MacEoin said that Deputy Briscoe was contributing to some standard or other. I wonder what standard Deputy MacEoin is referring to. It would be interesting to have Deputy Briscoe contributing to The Standard. It would be well worth reading.

The position with regard to the Turf Club was mentioned by Deputy Dillon. He brings the composition of that board into his argument and says that, under the Racing Board Act of 1945, the Turf Club and the Irish National Hunt Committee were given control of the Racing Board, having a majority of its members. That is so, but there is no analogy between that board and the board proposed to be established under this Bill. The members of both the Irish Turf Club and the Irish National Hunt Committee were all people of the highest integrity. Their work on behalf of Irish racing up to that time had been clean and above board. On the other hand, the work of the Irish Coursing Club was a history of abuse and mismanagement by the various parties now having control of the greyhound industry.

When the old Bill was introduced, it was our duty to point to this history of abuse and mismanagement referred to by the Advisory Committee set up by Deputy Dillon on 21st February, 1951. The references we made were not my words, Deputy Briscoe's words or the words of the Minister for Health. They were the impartial observations of the Advisory Committee. In their summary at the end of that report, the committee had the following remarks to make:—

"But it is in connection with greyhound racing that the most serious abuses have been practised with impunity and it is here that the unsavoury atmosphere has been created, but unfortunately and undeservedly it has come to be associated with the greyhound industry as a whole."

Deputy Rooney also remarked that Deputy MacEntee or his colleagues had done very little down through the years about remedying these practices. In 1939, on the outbreak of war, greyhound racing was practically closed down. There were not the same number of dogs in the country; the export of dogs to Britain had almost ceased. After the war, various bodies made representations to the Minister and it was then that Deputy Dillon had this committee set up.

The one unfortunate aspect of this unhappy Bill is that, having set up an Advisory Committee to investigate the industry, Deputy Dillon did not take their advice. It was like a person employing a solicitor and refusing to accept his advice. There are many people who pay for professional advice on various matters, but, having made up their minds on what course they will take, do not accept the advice.

That was the attitude of Deputy Dillon. He was labouring under some appalling misapprehension that Deputy MacEntee was setting out, "in a revolting fashion, to exercise his personal spleen on the dead". I cannot reconcile those statements of Deputy Dillon with the debates on the old Bill. When the provision dealing with the composition of the new board comes into being through this Bill, everything, as far as I am concerned, falls into place, because once those people who could not carry out their own business have not the final say and the majority vote on this board, the underlying objection to the last Bill is removed.

When I commenced to speak I pointed out to Deputy Rooney the great difference between the present Bill and that produced by the former Minister. Amendments were brought in by Deputy Dillon when he was Minister, due to suggestions which he heard particularly from this side of the House because evidently his colleagues did not have the slightest interest in the greyhound industry. There are sections dealing with other amendments and other suggestions made during the course of the debate and, in fact, there is very little comparison now between the two Bills except for the minor sections which went through without any real objection.

There are, however, a few points which perhaps the Minister would look into before the Committee Stage. Section 48 is still, in my opinion, contentious. I appreciate that Deputy Briscoe is conversant with the grievances of the bookmakers but I fail to see the value of his suggestion that the maximum charge should be limited to £2. Under Section 48 (1), the board may by regulations fix the maximum charges. Under Section 5 (5) every regulation made by the board under the Act must be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas, and it could be annulled. It is also stated in sub-section (2) of Section 48:—

"Where regulations under sub-section (1) of this section fix, in relation to a greyhound race track or part thereof...the regulations shall require the consent of the Minister."

If they require the consent of the Minister why should they be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas? If the Minister consents will they be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas and, if the Minister does not consent, are we to take it that they will still be laid before both Houses?

Regulations cannot be made unless the Minister consents to the making of them. If the Deputy will read line 10, page 24, he will see: "the regulations shall require the consent of the Minister." If the Minister's consent is withheld there is no regulation.

It cannot be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

The regulation has no force.

I should still like something concrete stated in the Bill. It could happen that a future Minister for Agriculture might be a person with very little interest in bookmakers, greyhound racing or the greyhound industry as such, and might be guided possibly by certain of his officials who might have some prejudice for instance against bookmakers. It was pointed out before that such a thing could arise. If it happened that regulations concerning maximum charges were to be dealt with, there could be Ministers in this House who would not spend very much time on such a question. That is why I hope that in Section 48 the position will be rectified.

Speaking on Section 48 previously, I pointed out a very serious mistake which the Advisory Committee had made notwithstanding the fact that they had the technical advice of those conversant with previous legislation. At paragraph 166, page 70, of the Report of the Advisory Committee of the Greyhound Industry, it is stated:—

"We assume that if our recommendations in regard to the installation of totalisators are approved, a licence to operate them would be granted only to the Control Board and in accordance with the terms of the Totalisator Act, 1929, of which sub-sections (5) and (6) of Section 3 are as follows".

They then quote, and the bookmakers were quite satisfied that if the recommendations of the Advisory Committee were carried out many of their fears and anxieties would be allayed.

Unfortunately we had a State body set up by this House referring to a section under the Totalisator Act of 1929, Section 6, which had been repealed by the Racing Board and Racecourses Act, 1945. One of the big snags of that Act is that right at the end of page 363 there is this provision under Section 26 (4):—

"Sub-section (6) of Section 3 of the Totalisator Act, 1929 (No. 22 of 1929), is hereby amended by the deletion of all words from the words ‘and the charge to any such licensed bookmaker' to the end of the said sub-section."

Between now and the next stage perhaps the Minister would consider whether that safeguard which was recommended and which the Advisory Committee assumed was in existence could be revived in Section 48. Perhaps, we in the midst of these problems, can understand the legal phraseology and take a certain interpretation from it but I think the Minister will agree there is nothing better in legislation, particularly of this type, than to remove all ambiguity and doubts, and I hope that will be done in connection with this Bill which will possibly become law very shortly. As Deputy Dillon has remarked, the bookmakers themselves have been the backbone of the whole industry down the years.

What about the people rearing the greyhounds?

Certainly they are also contributors to the industry as a whole, but down through the years, as Deputy Dillon pointed out, the bookmakers have been the backbone of the industry. Undoubtedly, they are now going to be hard hit by the introduction at Shelbourne Park this year or next year, of the tote, and then in Cork and Limerick. It is calculated that they will lose 20 per cent. of their present turnover and that is taking into consideration that a new type of patron will be attracted. The Advisory Committee calculate that the net result for bookmakers will be that their present turnover will be reduced by 20 per cent.

Again I would refer to this question of regulations, this question of laying regulations before the House. I have not been here very long, but I have never heard of a regulation being suggested to annual a regulation. I fear that it could happen that more important matters here before the House could mean that they were fobbed off or that the regulations might not get the attention which they deserve.

To sum up, my anxiety is to have this written in without yea or nay, either say "yes" or "no". My suggestion before was right. There are at the present time charges in excess of five times the maximum. The maximum charges are in excess of what the public is charged. Take Limerick. It is half-a-crown for an ordinary member of the public to go in. Five times that is 12/6 but bookmakers pay £1. There is no greyhound race track where the charge is less than £1. Deputy Dillon mentioned that possibly there were race tracks down the country that charged 1/-. The minimum admission charge in Ireland is 2/6, and it is far in excess of that in Dublin.

There are one or two other matters which I should like to bring to the attention of the Minister. The Minister is probably aware that there are what are known as flapper tracks throughout the country. Unfortunately, quite an amount of money has been invested in these tracks, these schooling tracks, and it is envisaged here—as a matter of fact, I am all against it; it was envisaged also but not in so much detail, in the Bill brought in by Deputy Dillon—that schooling tracks for reward would be done away with. That means if you want to have a trial, it will be on a licensed track. I, having purchased a dog, having trained him, fed him and walked him, bring him to Shelbourne Park or to Market Field in Limerick and Deputy Flanagan or Deputy Rooney can watch the trial with their own stop watches, and then what happens? The race comes along and the dog opens at five to two against, and Deputies Flanagan and Rooney can place bets on him. Then if I want to back him, I have to back at six to four on.

The suggestion is that I cannot have the private school even if I pay 5/-, to make my dog fit by the time for the official track. I cannot school my dog. Yet if I have horses in the Curragh or if I ran a horse at Mullingar the week before last, and if I do not enter him again until I enter him for Leopardstown next month, I can school my horse over hurdles, over fences and on the flat. I admit I could be reported by the stipendiary steward to explain the difference in running, if, say, the horse ran more prominently, or won, on the next occasion. To cut a long story short, I was never in favour of bringing in legislation which cannot be enforced and the Minister, I am sure, will agree with me when he recalls that the Advisory Committee in their recommendations stated that they were quite well aware that a private owner could not be debarred from having his own private track.

Is that not tantamount to suggesting that the moneyed greyhound owner can have his own private track? There is no suggestion that he is doing anything illegal because the very wording on page 4 of the definition of a greyhound race is that it "means a greyhound race (including trial and schooling) in which an object propelled by mechanical means is pursued". Then it goes on to say that a greyhound race track "means a greyhound race track on which greyhound races are held for reward". The net result of all this is that flapper tracks and places where one brings a dog and pays 5/- for a trial, are out. The person can be prosecuted and struck off by the disciplinary commission or whatever body is set up, but if I am a wealthy owner who keeps 20 or 30 dogs and if I have plenty of land down the country, I can have my own private track.

There is no provision in this Bill to do away with that. The Advisory Committee admit in their report that they cannot prevent it. I would also ask the Minister to give attention to that part of the matter between now and Committee Stage. It is possible that the Minister could suggest or state that any school but the public trials should not be permissible; in other words, that a person cannot have a private track. The Advisory Committee seem to be of the opinion that it would be impossible to find out if a man had a private track. This is a very small country and particularly in greyhound racing if a person is being opposed by a certain owner, it will soon be brought to the attention of the powers that be that "So-and-so has a private school".

I should like to refer to paragraph 68 of the Report of the Advisory Committee which states:—

"The problem of providing a solution of the difficulties in connection with ‘time-finding' is aggravated by the existence of a large number of so-called ‘schooling' tracks, i.e., unlicensed tracks laid out on private grounds, the owners of which for a monetary consideration, afford facilities for ‘schooling' and for obtaining information regarding the potentialities of dogs destined to participate in the near future in graded races on licensed tracks. The information, often very valuable, arising from such trials, would be available to the owner of the dog and his friends and normally only they would benefit by it. We believe, however, that in many cases the owners of the ‘schooling' tracks benefit to a greater extent from the knowledge of form thus acquired, and indeed that the advantage so gained is a direct incentive to the establishment of unlicensed ‘schooling' tracks. We realise that a greyhound owner cannot be debarred from providing a ‘schooling' track on his own grounds for his own dogs, but we are of opinion that unlicensed ‘schooling' tracks which operate for reward should be regarded in the same light as unlicensed racing tracks, and should be compelled by the Control Board in due course to cease operations. Mention was made of one racing track which operates without a licence and also affords facilities for trials."

I presume Chapelizod will be closed as well, but I think the Minister will see that something should be done in this case. There is quite an amount of anxiety. They are very decent people who own these "schooling" tracks and they have invested considerable money in them. They are doing nothing illegal, but, all of a sudden, under this Bill they will now be clamped down upon.

I feel these details should be reserved for Committee Stage.

It was only to bring to the Minister's attention what I had in mind to raise on Committee Stage that I spoke thus. I will leave the matter at that, but I would stress to the Minister that there is grave anxiety. There are 150 of these "schooling" tracks in the country and that represents a considerable capital expenditure. Unfortunately, I have not got the figure for that capital expenditure on "schooling" tracks here, but I will give it to the Minister in due course.

My suggestion to the Minister is to give the man without money the same right as the private owner with money and I would suggest to the Minister that "schooling" should not be prohibited. It is the luck of the game to be allowed to school one's own dog, to get him in the finest fettle and best condition possible, in order to get the best possible price when the time comes to run the dog. There is no stipulation against that on the Curragh. They have scheduled and unscheduled gallops on the Curragh and it is a matter for their own convenience that the gallops will be kept in condition. The only other matter I wish to raise in connection with this Bill can be left to the Committee Stage.

Perhaps the Minister, when he is replying to some of the points, would let us know, if this Bill becomes law in this session, next week or the week after, will the tracks in Dublin be allowed immediately to set up the totalisator or will they have to wait until the various manipulations in the appointment of the control board are gone through. In other words, would it be possible to envisage the totalisator at Dublin tracks in 1958? It has an important bearing from the point of view of track owners. Could Cork and Limerick tracks proceed to that necessary step?

Not at all.

I do not want to delay the House on this Bill with a long speech because the House has been delayed too long. As a matter of fact, it has been delayed over a year now and during that time the price of wheat could be ventilated and the price of milk. Everything can be ventilated, but nobody has yet mentioned the price of greyhounds. Whenever the price of any commodity falls, the matter is complained of here, but nobody has made a complaint about the price of dogs. People are selling dogs at £40 apiece which should realise £250.

This is not going to raise the price.

It is going to improve something, anyway. It will encourage the people who are rearing the greyhounds when they look to the tracks and see that there are better stakes, that they will not be running their dogs for just a couple of pounds. They are running them for the same stakes now as they ran them for in pre-war times. So far as private schooling is concerned, unless the Minister recruits an army of 80,000 men he cannot stop schooling of dogs. It does not matter whether the man is rich or poor, it will go on.

Private schooling for reward is what is stated.

The small farmer or the big farmer will have a school to try his own dog and he will not be adverse to taking a few shillings from a neighbour to try his dog. I do not know how that is going to be stopped. It has been said that bookmakers will lose 20 per cent. of their turnover. The only thing we have to go on in that regard is the experience of horse racing. I remember, before there was any totalisator at all, there used to be eight or nine bookmakers standing in Tramore. When the totalisator came along, it was said that ruination was going to come to everybody, but when the tote did come, the prizes began to increase and more people came to the races. More bookmakers were then called for, and that is what I think will come out of this. When there are better prizes on the tracks, there will be better attractions for people to come and, instead of bookmakers being 20 per cent. down, they will be up because there will be more people there to bet. I, and a great many of my friends, are definitely concerned with the prizes that have been offered in the years gone by. We know when this Bill is in force and a reasonable time has elapsed, that the board will be able to improve the prizes.

There is something else I would like to draw the Minister's attention to and it is this. When we have a commodity to sell, no matter what it is, we take care that that commodity is as it is described and that it gets into the market in a proper condition. We should do the same about greyhounds and about the marketing of greyhounds. We should make sure that when an Irish dog is on the block to be sold on an English track, the buyer can buy that dog with confidence on the papers with the dog. It is most important.

A good deal of the opposition to this Bill came from outside the House. Three of the greatest opponents of the Bill I met were warned-off men. They seemed to be the people most vocal against this Bill. They had a grudge. They came along with every venomous innuendo they could to every side of the House and tried to get their venom put over inside the House.

The Bill is here now, and in spite of what Deputy Briscoe said, there is no difference between it and the one introduced by Deputy Dillon except in regard to the personnel. I noticed that a lot of the champions and the great coursing experts who were over here when Deputy Dillon introduced his Bill were not here to-day. We did not see Deputy Vivion de Valera here with his three-and-a-half hours' speech.

I hope the Bill goes through quickly and that this board can go about its business in the same way as the Racing Board went about its business, that it will be able to put up the prizes, improve the tracks and bring more people to the tracks. If it does so, everybody— even the bookmakers—will be satisfied.

I wish to make a small point which concerns the headquarters of this board when it is set up. My hope is that it will not be centred here in Dublin but that it will be centred in Clonmel which is traditionally the home of coursing.

It would be a great pity if we were again to make the headquarters of this new board in the city. We all complain—down the country at any rate—of the lack of decentralisation and the concentration of everything here in the city. If the board is to have headquarters it should be in an area like Clonmel which has been associated with coursing as long as I can remember. I say these few words to draw the Minister's attention to the claims which that area would have when headquarters for the board are being established.

Deputy Lynch amuses me when, echoing Deputy Dillon, he says there appears to be no difference between this Bill and the Bill introduced by Deputy Dillon——

I did not say "no difference." I said "very little difference".

It is a bit like saying there is no difference between "Hamlet" without the Prince and "Hamlet" with the Prince. There is not much difference; the only difference is one character. But there is no point to the play if Hamlet is not in it. Deputy Dillon is wont to accuse the Taoiseach, the Minister for Health and the Minister for Industry and Commerce of brazen effrontery. I think it is quite brazen to say—as he did in an aside last night and more fully to-day—that there is no real difference between this Bill and the Bill Deputy Dillon introduced. In fact, what he said last night was that we have introduced a Bill which is, line by line, the Bill which was introduced by him some time ago.

That simply is not so. Section 9, line 17, is the line as far as the Bill is concerned. The fact that many of the recommendations of the Advisory Board were included in the Bill as introduced by Deputy Dillon, and are included in it now, is partly because we had a very long and exhaustive debate here during which Deputy Dillon gave in on many of these points, very graciously on some but rather reluctantly on others. He refused entirely to give in on the issue of the constitution of the board.

This is an important point and it is the thing which we considered, and still consider, absolutely vital if the Bill is to have any purpose at all. The abuses which everybody knew were in the greyhound industry existed under the management and control of the club as constituted and I think it would be farcical if the same club, similarly constituted, were to have control over the new Greyhound Industry Board. It would simply be a waste of time. That is not to say I do not appreciate what they have done in regard to the greyhound industry and its development over the years. They have done a great deal of useful work and they may not be to blame in many ways for the abuses that did creep in. But the fact that they did creep in while the Irish Coursing Club were in control certainly seems to demonstrate that they should not have the control of the board to be set up to try to clean up the industry.

I do not share Deputy O'Malley's fears about the results following the establishment of totalisators on race tracks throughout the country. I share Deputy Lynch's view that, as a result of the establishment of these totalisators, with increased revenue and increased stake money, we shall have more people interested in going to greyhound racing, more people interested in breeding greyhounds and consequently a more active and thriving industry. That has been the experience of the Racing Board after the establishment of totalisators on horse racing tracks. I share Deputy Lynch's view that that will also be the result in this case and that the bookmakers will not suffer.

I do not very often go to greyhound racing or coursing but I do occasionally. I must say I always prefer to bet on the totalisator than with a bookmaker. You do not have to get into an unruly scramble with a lot of other people and you have a better idea of where you stand. You do not have to rush about from one bookmaker to another wondering what odds you will get. The totalisator decides all these things for you.

I wish to welcome this Bill and the statement by the Opposition that they do not propose to offer any serious opposition to it. But again I say that I did not understand during the last prolonged debate why Deputy Dillon refused to change his stand about the membership of the Irish Greyhound Board. I am glad that we now have the opportunity of bringing in a Bill which will give us a new board which will not be under the control of the Irish Coursing Club.

May I say, in conclusion, that I think any Bill in this or any other country will not succeed in removing completely the abuses that are attendant upon any form of racing, whether it be greyhounds or horses? I believe, however, we can very substantially remove the opportunities for chicanery and corruption. We can effectively eliminate certain types of corruption. If we do that, we will have achieved our object because we do not expect to do what no other country can do and what cannot be done where unpredictable animals are concerned, that is to clear out all elements of human chance. Racing of any kind is a game of chance and so long as it is I think there will be room for a certain amount of abuse and sharp dealing. Our object is to reduce that to a minimum and I believe this Bill will have that effect.

Deputies who, like myself, have only come into the House for the first time in the past year are probably somewhat at a disadvantage in speaking upon a measure of this kind as against those Deputies who were here during a former régime and had the opportunity of discussing the 1955 Bill in its various stages. As far as discussion and consideration are concerned in relation to a measure of this kind, the Bill has got both. For that reason, it is somewhat difficult to go over it now without being charged with repetition.

I merely intend to refer to a few items upon which I feel it is desirable to address the House. I happen to be a person who had a rather severe conflict with the Irish Coursing Club about 18 years ago as to my part-ownership of or interest in a greyhound racing schooling track in the town of Listowel, namely, Listowel Greyhound Racing Company, Limited. Somebody referred here to a number of warned-off people from the Irish Coursing Club being against the introduction of this Bill. I happen to be in the opposite camp in so far as that is concerned. I can congratulate myself to some extent and my then colleagues for setting up this local schooling track and for having at that time incurred the anger and disapproval, to put it mildly, of the Irish Coursing Club and for having then challenged the authority of the Irish Coursing Club as to their authority to refuse to license this track. A number of similar schooling tracks were set up about that time, just immediately after the war, and the attitude that the Irish Coursing Club displayed towards them was not satisfactory.

As a result of that very attitude, breeders felt that the time had come when some steps should be taken to challenge the authority of the Irish Coursing Club, as it then operated. Out of that a very important organisation emerged, known as the Greyhound Owners' and Breeders' Association. First of all, I should like to say here publicly that the thanks of the greyhound breeding industry should go out to the organisation for the very businesslike way in which they handled an awkward situation at that time, and more particularly for the demands they then made upon the Government to set up an independent inquiry to go into this whole situation.

After some delay, perhaps understandable, the Minister at the time set up a board of inquiry composed of persons whom I regarded as very competent persons. That board of inquiry set about a very difficult task and, I must say, they performed it in a most satisfactory manner. I suggest that that body more than any other has been instrumental in no small way in bringing in this Bill before us to-day.

Even though I am one of the people who had reason to be dissatisfied with a certain aspect of the administration of the Irish Coursing Club I would not say they were a very unworthy organisation. Actually, I say no such thing. The Irish Coursing Club started about 40 years ago. At that time, they entered upon a very difficult task because greyhound breeding in this country was at a very low ebb. The people then engaged in the breeding of greyhounds were not entirely as favourably disposed towards the sport as they are at the present day. I think the Irish Coursing Club at that time handled a very difficult situation.

Prior to that period, as we know, the control—if you could call it such at all—of coursing was exercised in this country by an outside body. I think it was very commendable, particularly during that period of our national resurgence, that a body of Irishmen and sportsmen came together and were able to exert pressure upon breeders to set up an organisation in the form of the Irish Coursing Club and maintain it since in the interests and for the good of the breeders. I think these men, the founders of the Irish Coursing Club—many of them are dead now, I believe—did a very useful job. If abuses crept into the management and administration of their work, they should not be blamed for it. It was due to the non-co-operation of the breeders and to the fact that a number of people tried to get rich quickly. As far as I can understand and as far as we can read from the various reports that have been made available to us, abuses did not creep into coursing as such until after the introduction of the mechanical hare in this country about 1927.

As far as I know from my limited knowledge of coursing, open coursing was always largely free from any such abuses. As the previous speaker said, sport contains an element of chance. It is too much to expect to arrive at a stage when you will be completely free from abuses. All we can do is to limit abuses to the minimum. The House has now, in my opinion, set out to bring about that situation by the introduction of this Bill which provides for the setting up of a statutory board to control greyhound racing.

The idea of the club organisation which the Bill provides for is still a very good idea. There is no such club organisation in regard to horse breeding for the rank and file of people who breed racehorses. Of course, since the number of horse racing people is comparatively small as against those who are engaged in greyhound racing, that is quite understandable. I was very glad, when I read the Bill, to find that the local club organisation was still to be maintained.

The only suggestion I should like to make—I hope it will be quite relevant to the work of the board—is that in the preservation of that club organisation, if the board had any influence with the Irish Coursing Club who would still naturally affiliate these clubs, it should see that the membership should be confined to breeders and that no people who were not breeders should be admitted to membership of the club. I think it is very wrong—it does not tend to make matters more efficient— to allow people into a club of that kind who have no direct interest. They may have an indirect interest, but I think the membership should be more carefully screened.

I respectfully suggest to the Minister that if it is not provided for in the Bill, and I think it is not, he should make a note of it and have a word with the new board, and suggest they might try to arrange with the Irish Coursing Club for a more conservative selection of club membership. If the fabric, which is the club, is good, then the structure itself will stand. It is very satisfactory that the Bill does not interfere in the least with the principle of club organisation and I am glad that the Minister preserved that very special protection for the breeders.

The Greyhound Breeders' Association is not specifically mentioned in the Bill but I think that that is an organisation that should be encouraged to continue doing very useful work because the Irish Coursing Club as such, even though it will still operate and possibly control certain aspects of this industry, is not in my opinion in the same strong position to protect the interests of the owners as a distinct association would be. I think that association which has worked so hard in the past to bring about the desirable change which we are now facing in the greyhound industry should be encouraged and get recognition in due course by having some of its members considered for inclusion in the proposed board. The set-up of the board is such that no particular interest is singled out for consideration. I think that is a step in the right direction because, if we begin to take an attitude of that kind, other interests will come along and say that they are more entitled to be considered than some interest that was in fact considered.

I think the fears expressed by some speakers in regard to bookmakers are somewhat unfounded. It is no use to try to compare the situation likely to develop in the greyhound industry through the introduction of the tote with the situation which did develop in horse racing when the tote was introduced. I do not believe they are on a par. First of all, there will be the difficulty of operating the tote successfully in certain forms of greyhound racing. At the moment it operates on mechanical racing but has failed to operate and possibly never will operate, on what is known as open, flat-country coursing.

I feel the greyhound industry is in a reasonably healthy state now, notwithstanding all the shocks, drawbacks and other things that came its way and one of the factors which contributed to the present position in the industry, I think, is the bookmakers' co-operation. In this greyhound industry this has been one of the most important factors helping to build it up. Somebody might say the breeders were the principal people, that you had to start somewhere and that you had to start with the breeders, but I suggest that in the past at coursing meetings, either mechanical trials or open coursing meetings in the country, the bookmakers always played a very important role in the success of such meetings. I believe this more especially in the case of flat coursing. They always co-operated splendidly and in the case of mechanical coursing their co-operation has been very satisfactory.

While we have to go with the times in most things, I think it would be a pity if we ran a little too far in this case and I sincerely hope that the policy of the board when established will be rather conservative with regard to replacing the existing bookmakers' organisation entirely with the tote. Undoubtedly, we cannot hold things as they are for all time and there is possibly some room for improvement in the betting market, but it would be a very serious state of affairs if that improvement were to bring certain benefits to a limited clientele and at the same time bring about a worsening of conditions for the bookmakers who have quite a lot of expense to meet such as the payment of licences, provision of transport, and employment of staffs. As far as possible, I think any existing interest they have should be preserved. They are good employers and have contributed significantly to the development of coursing in the past, certainly to open coursing.

In my opinion a more serious aspect of this matter has been forgotten. It is the fact that if you lay a bet with a bookmaker there is that personal touch about it that many people seem to like. Even if they end up by getting smaller dividends from the bet I think they are generally more satisfied because the choice is wider and there is greater variety. It would be disastrous if the personal touch should be removed now, or at least removed to an appreciable extent from the industry.

With regard to flapper tracks as they are called, they will probably assume a role of greater importance when this Bill becomes law. In the past these organisations were termed unlicensed or even illegal tracks—I think that word was used—and in my opinion it seemed that they were regarded as very dangerous to society. I feel it would be wrong to legislate so that the owner of a greyhound would be prohibited from having the right to have his dog tested in any place other than at a track licensed under the board, a track on which eventually the dog will run. There is quite a lot to be said for private trials and an owner, in my opinion, is completely justified in taking his dog to a private trial or schooling track whether it is licensed or not. Not only is he justified, but I think it is the more practical arrangement. There and then, he is entitled to have his dog tested in his own way. We know that race tracks have made a condition that before a dog is allowed to run he has to be tested—I think twice—on that track and that situation would still prevail.

For that reason, I cannot see why there should be any objection to having the dog schooled previously at a local private track. The record of the dog on that occasion does not matter at all to the public because, in any event, the dog is tested eventually on what is known as the official track. His performance there is recorded and it is on that performance that the bookmakers will lay the odds. I think we would be treading on very dangerous ground if we were to carry out what it is proposed to do—eliminate these schooling tracks. They have been there for quite a time and have done good work and above all, their existence has established confidence amongst breeders which otherwise would be very difficult to create.

Coming to the constitution of the board proper, I think the big objection to the original board was that it was then proposed to nominate four from the Irish Coursing Club to the board and thereby give an actual monopoly of the administration of the board to the Irish Coursing Club. I understand that the previous Minister was not prepared to reduce that Irish Coursing Club representation and I am glad that the present Minister has found it desirable and practicable to meet the wishes, particularly of the Greyhound Owners' and Breeders' Association, in that connection. It would be entirely wrong in a statutory board of this kind that any particular interest should have a monopoly and I consider that both Ministers have met the Irish Coursing Club very, very fairly indeed by recognising that body and giving it block representation.

I have some experience of the Racing Board and if the new board set up under this Bill can do its work nearly so perfectly as the Racing Board has done its work we will have a very good organisation. We can look forward to the board doing a good job. I know the work that the Racing Board is doing for racing in a number of provincial centres. I happen to be a member of one of the executives and have very close contact with the executive of the Racing Board. In that board there is a very good pattern for this new board and I sincerely hope that their work will be as satisfactory and as successful as that of the Racing Board. The membership of the Racing Board is varied and, as far as I know, the members give their services voluntarily and without remuneration. The same principle might very usefully be applied to the Greyhound Board. With the exception of the chairman, whom it is proposed to pay, I hope the intention is that the members will act in a voluntary capacity.

I wish now to make a point with regard to the machinery for appeal from decisions of the board, the granting of licences to tracks, the granting of licences to bookmakers. Whilst we can have a very high degree of confidence in the board, it is always advisable to take the usual and necessary precaution of providing machinery for appeal from decisions by a board. It is not that I fear that the decisions of this board will be wrong or too hastily considered but I think it is necessary to meet the ordinary man-in-the-street who likes to know that in every aspect of administration there is provision for appeal. In this case the matter is not as satisfactory as it might be. The board can make a decision and in the ordinary course of events there does not seem to be any definite course open to an aggrieved party to bring his case to a higher and more competent authority. That is a point that the Minister might take note of and perhaps he may be able to do something about it on the Committee Stage.

We, Irish people, pride ourselves on being a sporting people and for that reason I am sure that even the members of his own Party will deplore the exhibition of sportsmanship displayed by Deputy Dillon here this morning. I do not worry about the allegations which he made against me. They are so horrible that those who may have heard them, or who may read them, will find it hard to believe that they were not conceptions of a disordered imagination. They are so fantastic that they refute themselves and I am content to leave the matter at that.

I am more than surprised, however, at Deputy Rooney's intervention. It is clear from his remarks that he has not troubled either to read the present Bill or its predecessor, much less to compare them. If he had studied the two Bills he would not have been so audacious in his disregard of the facts as he was this morning. It may be that I am to blame to some extent in not stressing the fundamental differences between the provisions of the present Bill and the Bill of 1955. Therefore, Deputy Rooney may have been lured into making the foolish speech to which we were compelled to listen this morning. My only excuse is that I feared that some members of the Opposition—as, indeed, was shown—might be feeling sore and I refrained from rubbing salt into their wounds. I was restrained, therefore, when referring to the important differences of principle between this Bill and that of 1955, though there are great differences.

Deputy Flanagan has pointed out the outstanding difference, the change in Section 9 of the Bill, the important difference between that section as it appears in this Bill and as it appeared in the Bill of 1955. The important fact is that, whereas Deputy Dillon's Bill provided that the Irish Coursing Club would control the Greyhound Industry Board, under the present Bill that position will not obtain. The club will not control the board and cannot control the board. On the other hand, the reconstitution of the club will be carried out under the supervision of the board.

In general, let me say this, that in this Bill we have endeavoured to give full effect to the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on the Greyhound Industry. In the Bill of 1955 the Minister who was responsible for it tried to ignore those recommendations and to ignore the verdict of his own Advisory Committee.

It has been suggested that there are not important changes in the Bill. I have referred to the fundamental change—the very different position which will be occupied in relation to the whole greyhound industry by the Greyhound Industry Board, as it is proposed to constitute it under this Bill. The other difference is that the reconstitution of the Irish Coursing Club will be carried out under the general supervision of the Greyhound Industry Board. Therefore, we may be satisfied that the defects in organisation, which were pleaded in extenuation of the failure of the Irish Coursing Club to prevent the growth, development and continuance of the malpractices which were so emphatically described in the Advisory Committee's Report, will no longer exist, will be rooted out. We shall then have a statutory body controlling the sport of greyhound coursing and the breeding of greyhounds which will command general public confidence. If, after a long fight against an obdurate and stubborn Minister, we have succeeded in bringing that position about, we shall have done a great public service.

There are, however, other differences. Deputy Moloney has referred to those provisions in the Bill which provide for an appeal tribunal. There was no such provision in the Bill as it was introduced by Deputy Dillon. It took almost two years of hard and concentrated controversy to extort that concession to justice and equality from him. It is true that, in a last-minute attempt to get his Bill through, he conceded the right of appeal to those who might be aggrieved by the decisions of the board. When the matter was being raised, as it was raised on the Second Reading of the Bill, he could have indicated his readiness to consider it in a reasonable way. It was only when he could not get his own unreasonable way in regard to the reorganisation of this industry that, in a last, desperate attempt to get his Bill through, he gave what we, representing public opinion, had extorted from him.

There are embodied in this Bill 16 amendments—most of them of substance—which were introduced only on report. Will any Deputy say that a Bill which differs from its predecessor in two important matters of principle —with another matter of principle scarcely less important, that of the right to appeal—and these other 15 or 16 matters of administrative importance, does anybody say that a Bill which differs in these manifold respects from the Bill of 1955, is Deputy Dillon's Bill, is the Bill which those who are engaged in the industry, those who are concerned to see the sport clean and the industry flourish could have had two years ago? Yes, they could have had it two years ago—let me emphasise that—if Deputy Dillon had been prepared to listen to the well-founded criticisms of those who were criticising the Bill when in opposition, if he had been prepared to give effect to the recommendations of the Advisory Committee which he himself had set up so long ago as February, 1951.

There are some matters which arise for debate on the Committee State and which have been mentioned. I think the fears of Deputy O'Malley and Deputy Briscoe in relation to the provisions of Section 48 are not well-founded. The section has been drafted in such a way as to provide for a degree of flexibility in fixing maximum and minimum charges which will make that machinery adaptable to changing circumstances.

In regard to this question of charges, maximum and minimum, we have to bear in mind always that the machinery of which they are the component parts is being set up to provide an alternative to the imposition of a levy upon bookmakers in respect of each particular bet. It was argued here, when the 1955 Bill was under discussion, that the collection of such a levy would impose, perhaps, too great a strain upon the resources of the bookmaking fraternity and would lay a very onerous obligation on its members. I thought myself, when I argued it, that it would be. However, if we are setting up a Greyhound Industry Board we have to give it the resources which will enable it to fulfil the duties which we impose upon it. The board must get money from somewhere. Pending the setting-up of the totalisators, it does not appear that it will have any other source of income but the income which will be derived from a levy that the bookmakers will have to collect in respect of each bet.

When the totalisators are established, it may be possible for the board to relinquish the right to impose a levy, but they can relinquish that right only provided that they get from the bookmakers a reasonable income to replace that which they will lose in part. It may well happen in the future—some years, perhaps, from now—that those who may be looking for an alteration in the maximum and the minimum charges—bear in mind that it is the minimum charge which is important so far as a change in the manner of deriving some revenue from bookmakers is concerned—will be the bookmakers themselves. They may say: "We would rather pay an admission charge which is x times that which the general public are called upon to pay than to have the unpleasant obligation of collecting a levy from each individual punter." Therefore, the amounts of the maximum and minimum charges may become a matter of negotiation between the bookmakers and the board.

It may be the bookmakers themselves who may be looking for a change—a change, first of all, in the minimum charge and then, as a corollary to that, a change in the maximum charge. One must remember that it is the difference in the minimum charge as determined by the board and the maximum charge, which will represent the amount which will inure to the greyhound racing tracks for admitting the bookmakers and giving them the right to carry on their business on the tracks.

All that, however, is subject to a great deal of control. The first control is that the consent of the Minister must be obtained. No Minister will lightly give his consent to any change which is likely to evoke criticism, unless he has the strongest grounds for being satisfied that the change is necessary and is just. As a further control upon him, however, the provision exists in Section 5 that all regulations made must be laid before both Houses and if in either House a motion for annulment is carried then the regulation falls, is no longer binding, and has no effect.

As I pointed out to Deputy O'Malley when he was speaking, the consent of the Minister is necessary to make any regulation and if that consent is withheld no regulation can be made. Even when a regulation has been made, it has then to be laid before both Houses and if a motion of annulment is carried, again the regulation becomes null and void. The Deputy said, I think, that he had never heard in his experience of a motion of annulment being carried or of a motion to annul a regulation being debated in this House. I can assure him he will find on the records of this House many motions for annulment debated at length, many regulations which were the subject of very severe criticism here. The power of annulment is a very great power, by which the House may control the operations of the Greyhound Industry Board, in order to ensure that the board will act in conformity with the provisions of the Act and with the general purposes which the House had in mind when the measure was being enacted. That is a very important protection, since because of it bookmakers or any other interest which may feel aggrieved by any regulation made by the board or any rule made by the club can have their grievance voiced here and debated here; for it is open to any private member to put down a motion here for the annulment of a regulation. Therefore, the Deputy may rest assured that the board will not be able to act in the arbitrary way which he feared.

With regard to the schooling tracks to which in his speech Deputy O'Malley also referred and to which Deputy Moloney later referred, I think that full justification for bringing these tracks under control is furnished by the paragraph of the report which he read and in which this important passage occurred:—

"The problem of providing a solution of the difficulties in connection with ‘time-finding' is aggravated by the existence of a large number of so called ‘schooling' tracks... for obtaining information regarding the potentialities of dogs destined to participate in the near future in graded races on licensed tracks. The information, often very valuable, arising from such trials, would be available to the owner of the dog and his friends and normally only they would benefit by it. We believe, however, that in many cases the owners of the ‘schooling' tracks benefit to a greater extent from the knowledge of form thus acquired, and indeed that the advantage so gained is a direct incentive to the establishment of unlicensed ‘schooling' tracks."

All that the board can do is make regulations licensing tracks, if they are tracks where racing takes place for reward, so as to provide they are run bona fide and honestly. In this connection, however, let us not forget, while listening to complaints from greyhound owners, that there have been very hectic and well-founded complaints from the general public attending these tracks. If we do not clean up the sport, so far as it is humanly possible by an Act of Parliament to clean up anything, it will not be very long until the greyhound tracks will not be able to keep open, as people will get tired going to them. If we are to tackle this at all, we must make provision as far as we can to deal with every evil—those which we might be prepared to look leniently at, as well as those which by their very nature appal us. We cannot have a choice of evils in this matter. We must go out after every abuse and malpractice which would help people to defraud the general public. That is what is fundamentally involved here.

Moreover, we must bear in mind that we cannot do the work of the board here. There is no use in setting up this board unless we are prepared to allow it and its members to deal with the problems which the Advisory Committee's report shows are clamouring for attention. If, as Deputy O'Malley himself said, we are retaining a lawyer, we have to let him plead for us. If we are setting up a board to do the job, we have to let them do it—and I am sure they will do it in a reasonable way. When in due course they make regulations dealing with schooling tracks, racing tracks, and so on, and when these regulations come before this House, if there is anything in any regulation which we think too onerous or objectionable in any way, it can be debated here.

It is not the regulation. My main point was that the man with the money is still empowered to have his own schooling track. He does not get any reward, he does not charge anything. He has 20 or 30 dogs. We do not prohibit him under the Bill.

This is one of the circumstances in human life which there is no way of avoiding. The man with the Rolls-Royce can, in certain circumstances, do a lot of things which a man who has not got a car just cannot do. There are these inequalities in our circumstances which no legislation can obviate. We had better make up our mind to do the best we can, in the circumstances as they exist. Somebody may find a way of dealing with this inequality later on. Some other way may be found of dealing with it but we do not see a solution for it now. The Advisory Committee has reported in certain terms in relation to these tracks and we had better let the board try to deal with them as best it can, with the knowledge and resources available to it.

Deputy Loughman suggested that the board would have its headquarters in Clonmel. I shall inform the Minister for Agriculture of his desire in that matter and perhaps he will consider it. The Deputy, I feel sure, will have an opportunity of discussing it with the Minister for Agriculture and maybe have his wishes granted. I want to say finally that I am piloting the Bill through the House only because it happened that when my late colleague, Deputy Walsh, was taken suddenly away from us, I was entrusted with the general charge of the Bill. As I am familiar with the implications of the Bill, I was asked to pilot it through the House, but once the Bill becomes law I will not have anything to do with it in any way—with its administration or with the constitution of the board. All functions under the Act will then become the responsibility of the Minister for Agriculture.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 26th February, 1958.