Livestock Marts Bill, 1967: Second Stage.

I move that the Bill be now read a Second Time.

The general development of marts is of relatively modern origin in the livestock trade of this country but, in the fairly short number of years covered, the marts have developed to the point where they occupy a most important position in the trade and are a vital link in the marketing chain for our livestock. As there has been no official control of any kind over such marts, statistics are not available as to the extent of their business but there is no doubt but that the numbers of cattle, sheep and pigs passing through the marts each year represent a substantial proportion of total livestock marketings.

The establishment of efficient livestock marts both by co-operative groups and by private individuals has been a useful development but it has been a haphazard one. Timely action is desirable to ensure not only that the development proceeds on orderly lines but that the individual marts at all times serve the best interests of the producers and traders depending on them.

It is not the object of this Bill to hinder in the slightest way the legitimate operations of livestock marts or to prevent the establishment of new marts in areas not already catered for. Its purposes are to exercise a reasonable degree of control over the establishment of new livestock marts, to ensure for example that there is no uneconomic overlapping where a tendency to undesirable proliferation may occur in particular areas and also to ensure that adequate facilities of various kinds are provided and that the services of the marts are available fairly and reasonably to all clients. I might mention that licences from me are in fact already required in respect of public sales of livestock in Dublin but not in respect of sales in other parts of the country.

International regulations governing trade in meat and livestock are also now providing for more stringent controls on meat processing plants, and on the movement of animals prior to export. Meat factories are, of course, already licensed. The present Bill will facilitate the implementation of such requirements in regard to animal health and hygiene supervision and control at marts that may become necessary for the purposes of our export trade. I might mention that a draft directive governing trade in meat and livestock with third countries has recently been drawn up by the EEC and provides,inter alia, that markets from which animals may be exported to EEC countries shall be under the control of an official veterinary surgeon and shall have been officially approved by the competent authorities of the exporting countries.

When I announced the decision recently to introduce this legislation, some people alleged that the legislation was an attack on the NFA. What I am concerned to ensure is that livestock marts should serve their legitimate functions and do so in the most efficient manner. This means among other things that the owners, whether they be co-operative societies or private individuals, must be prepared to do business with allbona fide clients who wish to use the services provided at the marts. They must not be subject to, or allow themselves to be subjected to, any pressures aimed at restricting or taking away the freedom of producers or traders to engage in lawful business transactions. Any such pressures could have the most serious economic consequences for individuals and could constitute a grave injustice to the community, which the Government could not ignore. This Bill, however, will ensure that freedom of buying and selling at marts can be preserved. I make no apology to anyone for taking steps to secure this freedom for Irish farmers and exporters and to ensure frustration of efforts of any group to arrogate to itself the right to say who should sell or buy at a mart.

The Bill itself is a comparatively short and uncomplicated measure. Under sections 2 and 3 a licence will be necessary for any livestock mart. Existing livestock marts will automatically qualify for licences but will, of course, naturally have to comply with the general requirements as regards facilities, etc., which will be laid down in regulations for all marts. It is my intention to allow any existing mart which may not yet be meeting any of these requirements a reasonable period in which to do so. Any contravention of the conditions of a licence will involve liability to prosecution. A licence may also be revoked if the holder is guilty of an offence under the Act—this is, of course, a necessary sanction of last resort.

Under section 4 provision is made for exempting occasional sales. This is intended to cover special kinds of sales, such as those carried out at Royal Dublin Society Shows, which are not of the normal commercial pattern affecting stockowners generally.

Power is taken in section 6 to make regulations which will be laid before the House, prescribing such operational matters as the manner in which entries for sale are received, the manner in which auctions are conducted the accommodation and cognate facilities to be provided—such as proper segregation of animals—and the animal health and hygiene conditions to be observed. In this latter connection the handling of documents such as certificates and "blue cards" requires special consideration. Another matter which it would be desirable to cover is the safeguarding of the financial interests of farmers selling livestock at marts. Any regulations under section 6 may, of course, be annulled by resolution of the House.

In section 7 the usual powers are given to authorised officers to inspect premises and documents, to take copies of documents, to request the furnishing of information etc. The remaining sections deal routinely with offences, laying of Orders before each House of the Oireachtas and expenses. The expenses will relate mainly to staff and will not be significant. There is no requirement in the Bill for the payment by livestock marts of any form of licence or registration fee.

A rather artificial and ill-founded publicity campaign has been launched by some people against this Bill. To judge by the sort of tendentious tales they have put about, one would think that the end of the livestock marts is in sight, that the marts are going to be crushed out of existence by arbitrary and dictatorial action, and so on.

These stories are, of course, entirely without foundation.

No new policy, principle or procedure is introduced by this Bill, which is long overdue and is only one in a long line of enactments passed under Fine Gael, Coalition and Fianna Fáil Governments for the regulation and control of the marketing of agricultural products in one form or another. Nobody has contended that any of those measures, passed by this House, has done anything but good and nobody has contended that their operation has been unfair, too severe or arbitrary. The same will hold for the present Bill.

To give just a few examples of these various measures I will mention the following Acts of the Oireachtas which introduced licensing or registration control of persons and/or premises by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries for such varied purposes as the achievement of better standards of marketing, hygiene, quality, equitable administration, etc., and which give the Minister very wide powers in regard to the refusal and revocation of licences or registration.

The Dairy Produce Act, 1924, provides for the registration of creameries while the Creamery Act of 1928 gives the Minister discretion as regards the granting of a licence for a new creamery and empowers him to attach to the licence such conditions as he thinks proper.

Under the Pigs and Bacon Act, 1935, granting of a licence for a new bacon factory is, except for one particular type of case, at the absolute discretion of the Minister.

Under the Poultry Hatcheries Act, 1947, the granting of a licence for a hatchery or of approval for a supply farm is at the absolute discretion of the Minister, and the same applies to the revocation of a licence or withdrawal of approval.

Similarly, under the Live Stock (Artificial Insemination) Act, 1947, the granting and revocation of licences for artificial insemination stations is entirely at the discretion of the Minister.

Under the Seed Production Act, 1955, the Minister has discretion as regards the granting of a licence to engage in production, processing and selling of certain seeds and as to the conditions attached to the licence. A licence may be revoked or the conditions altered at any time.

The Fertilisers, Feeding Stuffs and Mineral Mixtures Act, 1955, gives the Minister discretion as regards the granting of a licence for the manufacture of any of these products, the conditions attached to a licence and the revocation of a licence.

Several enactments provide for the licensing of exports and give the Minister complete discretion to grant or refuse a licence. The most important of these is the Agricultural and Fisheries Products (Regulation of Export) Act, 1947.

The present Bill is, therefore, in full conformity with the policies and powers already enshrined in our legislation for very many years, right back to the 1920s. The Bill when enacted will be administered with the same scrupulous fairness and understanding as all the other measures I have mentioned, and which have proved so successful. I am convinced that it will prove a boon to the livestock marts industry and will contribute to a further expansion of its activities by introducing uniform standards, by giving them the explicit approval of the State and by checking any tendency to unnecessary proliferation of marts to the detriment of existing establishments.

I commend the Bill to the House and ask that it be given a Second Reading.

This Bill should have been styled the Revenge Bill: I can think of no title that would be more appropriate for it. It is a most illjudged, ill-timed, irresponsible and perverse piece of legislation. I want to make it quite clear that we in Fine Gael are strongly opposed to the Bill at the present time and we would be opposed to it at any time except perhaps in a very different form and to serve very different purposes. I also want to make it quite clear that if this Bill succeeds in getting through the Houses of the Oireachtas, we in this Party will repeal it at the earliest possible opportunity.

Deputies

Hear, hear.

I am particularly suspicious of this Bill at the present time because it has been brought in, like the Agriculture (Amendment) Bill, with extraordinary haste and at a speed which is in sharp contrast with the Minister's failure to introduce legislation to implement the findings of the committee set up in relation to wool improvement or to implement the recommendations of the committee set up to make investigations into the horsebreeding industry. These two reports have been with the Minister for quite a long time, certainly for ten times longer than it should be necessary for them to be fully considered and action taken upon them, but nothing has happened. In the same way, too, there is the more urgent matter of a proper milk recording and cow-testing scheme, promised by the Minister's predecessor last January, but nothing has happened about it.

There is nothing in the Bill to give any indication that the Minister intends to bring in a proper meat marketing board to ensure against a repetition of the fantastic slump in cattle prices which occurred last autumn and which is now inevitable in the coming autumn. There is nothing in the Bill to ensure fair play for the producers by formulating a scheme to get back direct to the farmers the beef subsidy payments.

This Bill, in my view, is brought along now just as a smokescreen to cover the Minister's failure to deal with the serious problems in Irish agriculture today. It is brought in to give the false impression that the cattle marts, organised by the farmers themselves, by their efforts and at their expense, are now so badly run that the bureaucrats must rush in to control them. This, in my view, is a further retrograde step on the road to killing initiative and co-operative activity. It is a move by power-thirsty bureaucrats and bullies who come in to supplant —not to supplement—the praiseworthy efforts of the farmers to provide themselves with a more efficient marketing organisation for their produce.

At present, we hear a lot of nonsensical comment—we have heard it in recent weeks—about boycotting and intimidation. We can all easily recall that when the farmers organised themselves and when, in consultation and in co-operation with the IAOS and, indeed, with enterprising businessmen, they got together and organised these cattle marts, there was at that time serious boycott but there was absolute silence on the part of the then Minister for Agriculture and the Government of which the present Minister was a member. The silence at that time is just like the outcry of today: it was for Party political reasons and for nothing else.

When the cattle of this country were being sold in the most antiquated, time-consuming and inefficient manner, there was no word from the Minister. There was no complaint from the Minister and there was no method of ensuring that proper marketing facilities would be provided. Surely this was the opportune time to do something about the marketing of our livestock. There were small farmers who, for instance, went to a fair perhaps only once or twice in a year because they would have cattle to sell only once or twice in a year. We all know what happened. They were met along the road. They could not be expected to be really good judges of the value of their stock. In many cases, they got much less than the value of the stock they had to sell simply because of the system that was then in vogue. However, as I have said, nothing was done by the Minister for Agriculture at that time or indeed since until the farmers themselves got together and set up this up-to-date, well-run and well-managed system of selling cattle—the cattle marts we all know today. Now, when that has been done, we have the Minister rushing in to take control.

It is obvious to us all that this is a further step to wield the big stick over the heads of our farmers and to enable the Minister to put himself in a position to hand out something to some of his friends. Is it not time, once and for all, the Minister dropped this rotten approach to his responsibilities as Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries? Can he not see that the only way to get a worthwhile agricultural programme under way is by full farmer involvement at every stage and by the encouragement of co-operation, initiative and enterprise, and not by this continuous and undesirable prodding and meddling? I know these marts fairly well; certainly I know them in this part of the country. I know the way they are managed, the people who run them, and I know their standards of accommodation and of hygiene. I am probably much more familiar with what happens in cattle marts than the Minister. My opinion is that the standards in these marts are very high indeed and that this Bill is absolutely unnecessary.

The men who run the cattle marts know their business; they know the people they are dealing with and the service that is required, and they know the precautions to be taken. They must be given a free hand in the operation of their business and then competition alone will decide that they will give a good service. We hear a whole lot of nonsense about proliferation and all that, and at the outset there was proliferation. There were too many marts and some fell by the wayside, and perhaps the same will happen again, but that is competition and business. If there are too many shops, those which are not efficient must just go out of business. The manner in which entries are received must be left to the people operating cattle marts. The people operating the cattle marts must be in a position to say to a certain individual: "No; we will not take entries from you. Bring your cattle where you like", simply because they will not allow a racket to be engaged in.

Any of us who attend these cattle marts and know what goes on at fairs and marts know that there are certain people and groups who would engage in all sorts of malpractices and destroy the reputation of a salesyard or of an organisation. These people are very well known in the trade and it is only in the trade that they are known. People in the business know far more about them than any group of departmental inspectors could ever hope to know. It beats me why we want to transfer all this responsibility to Government inspectors. I hold very strongly that the Minister already has more than enough power in his hands to guard against disease, to ensure that the standards of hygiene are as high as they should be, and to protect health.

A point was raised by the Minister in a glancing sort of way about the ability of the cattle mart, the auctioneer, to pay for the livestock sold there. Surely there are many ways, such as those we have in auctioneering legislation, to guard against this sort of thing. A bond can be taken out and the courts can be used for this purpose, but why should the Minister be given this absolute control, this overriding power, in relation to all the cattle marts in the country? It is something that will never be accepted by the people.

There is no use in the Taoiseach or the Ministers attending functions around the country and pouring forth about their support for private enterprise and co-operation when they bring in a measure of this sort. This is designed for no other purpose than to kill initiative and co-operation and make way for the worst type of corruption. It is probably about the most despicable piece of legislation a Minister for Agriculture ever brought into this House. It appears to me the Minister is envious of the fact that a first-class job has been done and that this was a major step forward on the part of organised farming to evolve a system of marketing their livestock in an up-to-date and efficient manner and that neither he nor the Government to which he belongs could take any credit for it. But immediately this efficient business is set up, he wants to come in and control it, to be able to hold the big stick over the farmers' heads again. I want to warn the Government that the people are getting tired, and very tired, of this type of dictatorial attitude, this type of anarchy, and they are going to put a stop to it. I hope they will give the Government their answer in the not too distant future.

In this Bill the Minister seeks the most far-reaching powers, powers to accept or reject, to grant or withhold, and powers to exempt, in circumstances he will decide, any particular group of people or any person, from complying with the laws made in this Bill, if they are ever made law. No Minister should ever be placed in this position and no Minister should ever seek to be put in this position and it is the duty and responsibility of all of us here to see that this does not happen. This Bill is against at least the spirit of the Constitution. The courts are ignored and there is no provision for appeal against decisions. This is government by ministerial decree and if it passes through this House, I shall be very surprised indeed.

This is a most extraordinary measure. First of all, the definition section says:

"business of a livestock mart" means the business of selling livestock by auction or providing, for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise, a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction;

It means that if I even lease a place to anybody for a livestock mart, I am responsible for all the things that can happen to me. The Minister has power in the Bill, if he gets it, to fine as heavily as £1,000 and to put people in jail for six months. All those penalties are hanging over the head of anybody even if he merely provides space for a livestock mart. Does this Bill mean that if there is a dispersal sale a licence must be obtained for it? Does it mean that a man cannot sell his cattle without a licence? It is very difficult to see that this is not excluded. In fact, there is so little written into the Bill that the Minister for Agriculture of the time can do anything he likes with it.

There are many references in the Bill to regulations. As I see it, the Minister need not make a regulation at all because all he has to do is to lay down conditions. He can do anything under conditions. He need not tell anyone in advance what these conditions are, or what they may be in the future. We get a rough idea of some of the regulations, but we get nothing about the conditions.

Section 3, dealing with grant of licences for livestock marts, provides:

(1) On the application of or on behalf of a person who proposes to carry on the business of a livestock mart at a specified place in such form and containing such particulars as the Minister may direct, the Minister may, at his discretion, grant or refuse to grant a licence authorising the carrying on of the business of a livestock mart at that place.

"At his discretion." There is no indication of on what he bases his discretion. As I see it, the Minister can say to someone looking for a licence for a livestock mart: "I will, if you give £100 to the Fianna Fáil funds, and I won't if you don't." It is as open as that. Let us face it. Subsection (2) of section 3 provides:

The Minister may, at the time of the granting of a licence, attach to the licence such conditions as he shall think proper and shall specify in the licence.

"Conditions." This is the part of the whole Bill which I think is the really important part. The Minister can put existing people out of business under the regulations and conditions he lays down. Certainly he can refuse a licence to anyone, or can grant a licence to anyone he likes under this Bill. In this Bill the Minister is the most infallible and almighty person imaginable. This is not legislation in the way we know it in a democracy. We get some idea of the regulations, but we are told that is not the end of it. The Minister can make any regulations.

I should like the Minister to indicate, as he has failed to do, the necessity for this Bill. It is undesirable, unjustifiable and unnecessary. I would ask Members of the House in no circumstances to support this Bill. I fail to see how even Fianna Fáil Members can go down the country and tell the farmers that they supported this Bill, that every effort they are likely to make in the future is likely to be treated in the same manner, that they are being put in a straitjacket by the Government. While this sort of overriding power is sought today in relation to the livestock marts, who knows in respect of what other legitimate business tomorrow the same almighty powers will be sought by the Minister, and exercised by him if he gets them. This will not stop at the livestock marts. There is a great danger in this legislation. It is the start of the slippery slope. It is the type of legislation one would expect in a dictatorship, not a democracy. I ask and implore the people here not to support this Bill, and to show when it comes to a vote, as it will and must, that that is the stand they intend to take upon it.

It appears to me and to the members of the Labour Party that if ever an unnecessary Bill was introduced in this House, this is it. The Minister referred to the fact that certain people claim that this is a further attempt by the Government to crush the NFA. Of course, he hastened to add, nothing could be further from the truth. The facts are that this Bill is directed solely against the NFA. There does not appear to be any other reason for introducing it except for the purpose of getting a further kick at the NFA. If it were a question, as so often happens under a Fianna Fáil Government, of the House running out of business, or that there was not enough business to be carried on, there might be some justification for bringing in some legislation which would occupy the House. This has happened before. To bring in this Bill now and attempt to rush it through, while there are quite a number of important Bills on the stocks for quite some time which need to be dealt with urgently, proves that this Bill has been brought in for the definite purpose of trying to crush the farming community.

No. 17 on today's Order Paper, the Redundancy Payments Bill, was referred to by Deputy Corish yesterday. He asked why was it not proceeded with? Why have we to wait until next session to know whether the Minister and the Government propose to deal with this matter? He got an excuse which did not hold water. Now, while it is being put away, we have a Bill of this type introduced. It appears to me that the Government, with all their ranting and raving about the necessity for the farming community to co-operate, and the necessity for them to help themselves in every way, are now attacking the first effort at co-operation, to my knowledge, which was introduced on a widespread scale in this country.

Everyone who lives or lived in a country district will remember the old fairs on the streets of the towns and villages. Those who were bringing cattle to these fairs had to get up in the small hours of the morning and, before the advent of the lorries, and indeed, since then, drive the cattle through the night in order to be in time for the fair. They had to stand around uncomfortably in windy fair greens for long hours. There was no light, and the question of getting value for the cattle depended on the whims of those present. No question of absolute value ever arose. Someone made an estimate, and it was a question of giving what they thought they could get away with. That was the practice down through the years until the cattle marts were introduced. At last we reached the stage where the person selling and the person buying knew the price. The person selling knew what the prices were, and he could compare them with those given for similar types of beasts in the same marts and all over the country. He could see whether he was getting value, and whether he was being paid for what he was selling.

Now that all this has been done, we find the Minister saving this cannot continue, that in future the Minister must say who can and who cannot run a cattle mart. I wonder if he intends to apply this control to the fair which did not take place in Donegal town? Does he propose to go down there and attempt to rule there and say whether or not people can sell or buy cattle? He did not make a good job of it the last time, and he will not make a good job of it this time, because he will not be allowed to.

It could be a case of giving £100 to TACA and getting a licence.

It does not matter whether it is a member of TACA or anyone else. This is purely and simply a matter of the farming community trying to help themselves and their attempt being interfered with by the Government. Deputy Clinton said this was a vindictive Bill and that is the word which came to my mind. It appears to be a vindictive attempt by a mean petty-minded person to get his own back on someone who has so far got the better of him.

I should not like the Minister to forget that even though he was able to throw the farmers into Portlaoise Gaol, it was the farmers who won and not the Minister. It was the farmers who showed they would not be kicked around, that they were prepared to stand up for their rights and will continue to do so. The trouble is that if the Minister, the Department and the Government were really interested in what they call—when it suits them— our primary industry, they would attempt to find a solution to the dreadful problems which face Irish agriculture.

The Minister cannot do that; he is not interested in doing it. He is not interested in trying to find an alternative market or in trying to find some way of dealing with the surplus 100,000 or 150,000 store cattle which will be unsaleable, unless God wills it otherwise, within the next couple of months. His solution last year, when an almost similar situation arose, was to create such a row with the farmers that he could blame them and say they were not co-operating. Instead of trying to explain why he was not doing what he should be doing about a market for cattle, he had the farmers in the position of trying to defend themselves against unjust attacks.

We have in this Bill the suggestion about intimidation. It is alleged that certain people's cattle will not be sold in the marts. The Minister considers that a good reason. I want to say this to the House: a "blackleg" or "scab" in any organisation has always been treated in this country in one way. I most certainly will not object in any circumstances to a man who is not prepared to stand by his colleagues in any organisation getting the treatment he deserves. We have had them in the trade union movement—the fellows who because they thought they were pleasing somebody—the Government or an employer crushing down some unfortunate individual—went in the back door. We have seen them staying on when everybody else was on strike, even though the strike concerned the livelihood of other people. Yet when the strike was over they expected to be treated as if they had played their part.

I make no apology for treating such people as they ought to be treated. They are no good to themselves, no good to anybody. We have only a few of them in this country. They have been crying on the Minister's shoulder because they are not welcomed with open arms when they go in to the marts after doing everything they could to wreck the organisation concerned. They complain because they are not welcomed and told: "We will look after you; you will get first place." They complain that their cattle are not put in on time. Because they put them in before somebody else, they feel they are entitled to get first consideration. To give the farming organisations their due, they could have been much more severe, from what I see of it. In most cases the Irish farmer is a soft-hearted fellow. He allows the fellow who has been abusing him today to take advantage of him tomorrow.

Because of this the Minister feels justified in saying that the marts must now take out a licence, not a licence from the courts in the normal way but a licence from the Minister himself, who feels in his own mind he is God Almighty and can say: "Yes" or "No", with no appeal. It is absolutely ridiculous. It just will not wash. The sooner the Minister discovers it—and he should have long ago—the better. There is an old saying that whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad. It appears to be borne out here. It is evidence that the Fianna Fáil organisation and the Government do not realise that they have lost the confidence of the ordinary people. Most certainly they have lost the confidence of the agricultural community.

One sentence in the Minister's introductory speech shows just how out of touch he is. He said:

Another matter which it would be desirable to cover is the safeguarding of the financial interests of farmers selling livestock at marts.

If the Minister wanted to make that kind of case, he could have referred to the fact that, now and again, the unscrupulous buyer has succeeded in getting more credit than he was able to meet and has "scooted" with the proceeds and left some of the marts—only a few of them, thank God—in an awkward position. But the Minister just refers to that in passing as another item, not very important. If he had introduced some legislation to ensure compulsory insurance for marts which would guarantee the farmers their money, there would be some sense in it. But the Minister does not.

The Minister talks glibly about the necessity for hygiene. How does the hygiene in the marts compare with the hygiene in the fairgreens and towns before the marts were introduced? Anybody who checks on that will soon realise that hygiene did not come into it at all. Whatever was there remained there for 100 years, and nobody attempted to improve it.

The Minister and his Government had an awful hard neck in view of what has happened to introduce here a Bill of this kind and ask that it should be accepted and that the Second Reading should be given before the Recess. It has been introduced despite the fact that the Minister has refused to reply to the debate on Agriculture. If he had anything to promise the agricultural community, the obvious thing for him to do would be to tell us in his reply on his Estimate all the things he had in store to help the agricultural community. But he refused to do that. Having refused to do that before the local elections, he then brings along this Bill and expects to get away with it. I want to make this clear: as far as the Labour Party are concerned, we will oppose this Bill and we will oppose it from beginning to end. If the Minister thinks he is going to have a soft passage through the House with it, he has to think again.

I must confess I was surprised at the lame attempts of the Minister to justify the introduction of this Bill. I think the deserted benches opposite are a further indication of the weak case the Minister has, without commenting on the fact that the Minister himself left immediately after reading his brief. Speaking as a shareholder in one of the largest co-operative livestock marts in the south of Ireland and as one who played his humble part in the organisation of that mart, I deplore the introduction of this Bill. I condemn the Minister for his outrageous attempt to take over control of the livestock marts. As one keenly interested in the co-operative movement, I believe this Bill strikes at the very heart of that movement. It contravenes all the internationally-accepted principles which govern and regulate State intervention in private enterprise and co-operative economic development.

There is no doubt in my mind that this Bill is being used by the Minister as another weapon with which to attack the organised farmers of this country, particularly the NFA. The Minister, for certain obvious reasons and for other reasons one fails to comprehend, seems determined to lock the farming community in the iron grip of State control. Worse still, he is endeavouring to smother local initiative and self-reliance. This Bill does not contain a single provision which would be of any benefit to the livestock marts, to the farmers or to the cattle traders. The far-reaching powers the Minister seeks to arrogate to himself in this Bill are more reminiscent of a dictatorship than of a democratic form of government.

This Bill, despite the Minister's lame excuses for introducing it, is an unnecessary and unwarranted attack on the right of farmers to organise and operate commercial projects for their own economic betterment. I referred already to the fact that it strikes at the very heart of the co-operative movement. I have no doubt whatever that it is going to discourage farmers from undertaking any further co-operative projects. As Deputy Tully has said, it is a terrible state of affairs that, at a time when co-operation is being preached as the only solution for the economic and social problems of Irish agriculture, our Minister for Agriculture should come in here and introduce a Bill which is a complete contradiction and denial of the principles of co-operation and self-help.

This Bill is going to deal a complete death blow to co-operative enterprise in this country. The Minister seems to be completely opposed to the very idea of co-operation. In his statement recently on the Estimate for Agriculture he did not mention the word "co-operation" once nor did he make any reference to the co-operative movement. A few weeks later he introduces a Bill to this House which is aimed at the destruction of one of the most outstanding examples of co-operation, not alone in this country but in any country in the world. The whole approach to the marketing of livestock has been revolutionised by the establishment of these marts throughout the country. The Government gave no assistance in their establishment. They were organised and brought into being by the farmers.

Some years ago when the idea was introduced that the farmers should organise themselves by the formation of livestock marts, there were tremendous psychological and physical differences to be overcome and, in that regard, I want to pay a tribute to the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, the National Farmers Association and the other farming groups through whose encouragement and efficiency the livestock marts became a reality. I cannot understand why the Minister, if he felt this legislation was necessary, did not hold consultations with the people involved, whether co-operative committees or private enterprise groups. This legislation has been opposed by every group which has played a part in the foundation and establishment of the cattle marts.

It has been opposed by the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society. In the statement issued by that organisation—I quote from theIrish Times of 20th June—it is stated:

Having studied the terms of the Bill, the representatives of the marts were seriously concerned at many of the provisions of the Bill and their very wide implications, particularly as they affect their future developments.

The statement added: "A very undesirable feature of the Bill is that it confers absolute powers on the Minister to control and regulate the business of the marts."

The IAOS said that the meeting expressed grave dissatisfaction at the failure of the Minister for Agriculture to have prior consultations with the marts before introducing the Bill. He pointed out that the marts had been founded, financed and operated by farmers and had received no financial help from the State in their organisation and development.

I cannot understand why the Minister, without any consultation with the people responsible for the establishment of these marts, should introduce a Bill to take over complete control of them. It is beyond comprehension.

The Association of Livestock Marts of Ireland which caters for co-operative marts and also for private enterprise marts met on 20th June and decided to ask the Minister to meet a deputation to discuss their objection to the Bill. They objected to the Bill because it interfered with the right of the citizen to conduct his own lawful business and secondly, because the Bill gives arbitrary and extensive powers to the Minister against which there is no appeal to the courts of law. The Association wished to bring this to the attention of all citizens. This organisation went further and stated that it was unanimously agreed that in the event of the passage of the Bill in its present form, steps would be taken to test its legality in the Supreme Court.

Nobody in this country asked for the introduction of this Bill and the Minister did not consult anybody involved or connected with the livestock marts. This is another attempt by the Minister to grasp the farmers in the iron grip, in the Blaney grip. From all I have read or heard against this legislation, I find the whole matter neatly summed up in an editorial in theIrish Times which said:

Normal conduct of fairs, markets and marts has been evolving on sensible modern lines, guided to a certain extent by NFA influence and to nobody's knowledge indulging in any practice which would deserve two months' imprisonment or a fine of £1,000. The same Minister who denies the farmers a meat marketing board arrogates to himself powers that will put him, as well as a Department whose overall competence has been called seriously in question by a considerable group of farmers over the last nine months, in a position of almost absolute supremacy over a large section of our major industries.

I object strongly to this legislation. Public opinion is against it. Everybody concerned in the establishment of the marts is against it. I believe that if it is implemented, it will be a further step in the development of State control. The Minister gave certain hazy and very inconclusive reasons for introducing it. I would ask the Minister to say when replying to the debate if he had consultation with his Minister-dominated National Agricultural Council before he introduced this Bill. I do not believe he had. If he had, he would possibly have referred to it. I am challenging the Minister to state whom he consulted and particularly if he consulted the National Agricultural Council. I am very confident that public opinion will force the Minister to withdraw this Bill.

I must say that I am somewhat surprised at Deputy O'Donnell. When speaking on the Estimate for Agriculture as late as last week, I said truthfully and sincerely that one of the few Fine Gael Deputies who could be relied upon to make an intelligent and constructive contribution to that debate was Deputy O'Donnell. I am greatly surprised that he could adopt the cynical Fine Gael attitude to this Bill. Listening to him here for the past few minutes, one might well believe that it was not Deputy Tom O'Donnell at all who was speaking but some of the old brazen-necked Fine Gael people who put the cynical Fine Gael line consistently before the people in this House.

For instance?

I do not like to offend the Deputy. It seems to be the general Fine Gael tactic at the present time in all matters relating to agriculture to direct their attacks upon the Minister for Agriculture and to blame him for everything. They have made a blundering attempt here today to associate this Livestock Marts Bill with a completely different matter altogether, the affair between the Government and the NFA.

I have often heard Deputy Tom O'Donnell speaking here and speaking very well upon a subject that I feel strongly about, the matter of co-operation. He described this Bill as a death blow to the co-operative movement in Ireland. Needless to say, he was not able to demonstrate the truth of this contention, good, bad or indifferent. On the contrary, it would be a very easy thing to show that this is a logical step on the road towards the evolution of a true co-operative system in this country.

When considering this matter of livestock marts, it is necessary to examine their origins and to look at their development in order to get a picture of the present situation in its proper context. I took part in the foundation and establishment of one of the biggest co-operative cattle marts in the country, in Kilkenny. This mart has been established now eight or ten years. But, when the movement towards the establishment of cattle marts began to get under way, there was no planning, no system, good, bad or indifferent, that regulated where the marts would be located or in what manner they would do their business. As late as today, as a result of this absence of any plan at all, we discover a cattle mart running on the economic rocks and bringing with it to destruction or to severe injury, at any rate, many farmers who had transacted business in it. In the establishment of the existing marts, the selection of their location was left completely to the persons who sponsored them, without any attempt to relate it to the general agricultural organisation of the areas in which they were established. Deputy O'Donnell, like myself, believes that the future of the Irish farming must rely upon the establishment of a true co-operative system. It is very strange to hear Deputy O'Donnell expressing the view that this Bill, which proposes to regulate the affairs of cattle marts, is a blow at co-operation rather than, as I say, a definite aid and assistance to the proper organisation and regulation of cattle marketing.

I think that eventually some cattle marts, at any rate, will find themselves linked up with meat processing plants. It seems to me to be a logical follow-up to this. In order that the follow-up may be logical and sensible, it is necessary that there should be an overall control over cattle marts, over their affairs in general. For that reason one might be tempted to ask: what is the function of the Department of Agriculture? The outraged screams that have come from the Fine Gael benches so far this evening would seem to suggest that the Government and the Minister are the sworn enemies of agriculture and that it is their business not to assist farmers and the growth of agriculture but to destroy it in any way possible. This is the basis of the Fine Gael contention and it begs this question: what are the Department of Agriculture supposed to be doing if they are not supposed to be assisting in the rational development of marketing in general and cattle marketing in particular?

They did not give much assistance in the setting up of the marts.

I would confess to Deputy Clinton that it is not now but possibly years ago that the control of the establishment, in the first place, and the regulation of their affairs afterwards, should have been undertaken.

Deputy O'Donnell had a great deal to say about this Bill and that it infringed in some way upon the right of citizens to do business as they saw fit. He deplored the alleged fact that there was no appeal against the decision of the Minister. I put forward this contention, that one of the main functions that I would expect from this Bill and one of the benefits that I would expect to accrue to farmers from it is this very thing, the protection of the right of the ordinary farmer to do his business as and when he wishes.

In my constituency in recent times there have been very many regrettable incidents in cattle marts, some of them in co-operative marts and some in privately-owned marts. I will go into this in some detail in a minute. In the case of Carrick-on-Suir cattle mart and Waterford cattle mart which, I think, is a co-operative establishment, a caterer was boycotted and driven from his work—the caterer's name was Bob Duggan—because of pressure brought upon the managements of cattle markets to remove his services. It seems that this ordinary citizen—and I should like Deputy O'Donnell and Deputy Clinton to take note of this since they are concerned about the rights of the citizen—had been earning his livelihood by catering in these cattle markets for four days of the week. Because of the absence of regulation of any kind, hidden pressure brought to bear by the National Farmers Association on the managements of these markets caused this man to be deprived of his livelihood.

That is one example. It is a serious example of an outrageous attack upon the rights of the small, unprotected person that was contrived through the cattle markets. Under a proper licensing system for cattle markets, the licensee would be in a position to say to any of these bullies who caused this man to be deprived of his livelihood: "If I do what you are asking me to do, I may lose my licence." Therefore, the hidden threat of the bully who is ashamed to show his face would be negatived. It has not happened in the case of Bob Duggan.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary say how many people lost their livelihood because of the slaughter of the calves?

That has nothing to do with the Bill.

Deputy O'Hara's remark is hardly relevant to the Livestock Marts Bill.

It is as relevant as the Parliamentary Secretary's.

I suppose it is not a bad attempt for Fine Gael. I make no apology to the House for speaking at some length about this attack that was made on this small private person and the fact that he was deprived of his living in a cattle market because of the absence of regulation.

In the case of Waterford Mart, I understand that the County Executive of the NFA in Waterford have given their full support to the boycott of Bob Duggan. When you have a situation where a small man like this, a small man with no other means of livelihood, can be deprived of his living by a band of nameless, cowardly bullies who are afraid to show their faces, it is a plain case for the introduction of some kind of regulation.

Four fields of inspectors and plenty of guards to break down their gates.

I did not catch what the Deputy said

I was quoting a Fianna Fáil Minister for Agriculture who, 20 years ago, announced his intention of recruiting four fields of inspectors and plenty of civic guards with bulldozers to break down their gates.

I fail to see the relevance of Deputy Dillon's interjection.

I shall establish its relevancy later in the debate.

Very well. The significance of a small private citizen like Bob Duggan from Owning may be unimportant to Fine Gael; it may even be unimportant to the NFA, but it must be important to the Irish Government and it must be the duty of the Irish Government to protect people from attacks of this kind. This, as I say, is a particular bad case of victimisation as a result of the lack of regulation of the affairs of cattle markets, but it is not by any means the only case that occurred in my constituency. I saw at Kilkenny cattle market some time ago a person standing beside another farmer's cattle, who incidentally was a shareholder in this cattle market, and informing any prospective buyers of this man's cattle that his cattle were boycotted by the NFA. As a result, when this man's cattle were brought into the ring, they were not bid to within £15 of what could be normally expected to be the selling price. There was no explanation from this cattle market, and there was no redress for the shareholder who had invested money in the building of the market and who was deprived of the right to sell his cattle in the market which he had participated in building.

And no John Brown present to buy them.

There was no John Brown or anybody else to buy them, because with the completely unregulated state of affairs in cattle markets at the present time, it is very simple thing for a couple of cowardly bullies to deprive people of their fundamental rights to do their business. These were the rights about which Deputy O'Donnell was so concerned. I have seen with my own eyes this behaviour in Kilkenny. I know all about the removal of Mr. Duggan from Waterford and Carrick-on-Suir cattle markets. These incidents are a disgrace and something should be done about them immediately.

There is another matter that should be referred to in this affair. I have got many complaints from the Kilkenny area of my constituency of a canvass which was being made in order to compel farmers to join a new association of beet growers. Farmers have told me that the canvassers told them that if they did not join, they would be no longer permitted to sell their cattle in Kilkenny cattle market. This is true and there is no denying that it is true. I do not say that officially the NFA have anything to do with it——

I do not think that is true.

——but I do say they have failed to condemn the outrageous treatment that has been meted out to farmers and others in cattle markets in my constituency. I would be failing in my duty as a representative of Carlow and Kilkenny if I did not speak out here against these injustices and if I did not say that I welcome the introduction of this Bill. I welcome the introduction of this Bill, and the only regret I have about it is that it was not introduced long ago.

The affairs of the co-operative cattle markets would make interesting material for investigation by the Minister at some time when he has leisure to do so. As I said earlier, I played an active part in the establishment of one of these co-operative cattle markets and was a member of the management committee of it until a year or so ago. When co-operative markets were started first it was felt that they would suffer from interference by people in the cattle trade who would gang up against co-operative marts and prejudice their business. In order to combat this threat or supposed threat, a very interesting organisation was established, the name of which was Irish Livestock Marts Limited. The purpose of this organisation, we were told as committee members, was to maintain a market which might otherwise be ringed by people in the cattle trade who were outside the co-operative livestock marts movement. But what evolved was a most peculiar sort of secret society. As I said, although I was a member of the committee of management, we were told by the chairman of the committee that it was not possible for him to reveal the nature of this organisation even to committee members because if such a revelation were made, all the secrets would be out and dealing men and tanglers would have them also.

Almost like Taca.

What we did have to do was to supply substantial amounts of money for the establishment and maintenance of this organisation. As far as the ordinary shareholder in the co-operative is concerned, we did not know what on earth it was. A great many rumours spread around about it, and since I was never told the true facts about it, I cannot say whether the rumours were true or false, but this I do know: from the ranks of the top echelon of people involved in this enterprise, there emerged fairly well-paid cattle buyers who bought cattle on behalf of this organisation. I think that after a short while in business they found themselves in debt to the tune of about £130,000. What transpired after that I am afraid I cannot inform the House because, as I say, these things were not revealed to the ordinary member.

Whether this is a good thing or not I leave to the House to judge. It is certain that this organisation had—for all I know it may continue in some sort of attenuated form to this day—a rather short-lived existence in the full light of day and came to a rather disastrous end and, as in all such cases, it is the ordinary shareholder, the ordinary fellow who contributes £10 or £20 to the building of the mart, who eventually pays for the mistakes of others.

I strongly recommend that the Minister should investigate the life history of this organisation, Irish Livestock Marts Limited, and I hope that if he does investigate it, he will tell me and the House in general all about it because I am sure it would make a most interesting tale. But as the position is at present many years after the apparent demise of this organisation, the people for whom it was allegedly set up have yet to find out what happened. This is the type of thing that cries out for regulations. It is all very fine to talk about the rights of the individual being interfered with but surely the rights of the individual require some protection from mysterious organisations of this kind? Surely the rights of the individual demand in ordinary rudimentary justice that if a person pays his money to build a cattle mart and is thereafter prevented from selling his cattle in that mart, this must demand regulation and the sooner it is regulated the better?

The objections that have been raised to the introduction of this Bill have been based broadly on the contention that it is an unwarrantable intervention or interference by the Minister with the affairs of ordinary men. In my opinion, it is an intervention by the Minister in order to protect the rights of ordinary men because what other purpose could the Minister possibly have in mind if not that purpose? What possible use would it be to the Minister to injure cattle markets or injure the people who control or run cattle markets? Evidently, if we are to believe what Deputy Clinton has said, this is a Bill which was produced in a spirit of revenge.

Does the Parliamentary Secretary's speech not suggest that?

No, it is not a question of revenge but a question of righting of wrong. I have often heard Deputy Dillon declaiming at great length about the importance of the small individual——

Hear, hear.

——and I see in this Bill protection of the small individual. I have cited cases and named names.

I understand this Bill and I know its background. As I said, I have been associated for years with livestock marts and I know what I am talking about and I know how control and power gravitates in organisations such as these and how this control and power can be wielded against small individuals. It is because I see protection for the individual against this control and power by people who are not responsible to the Dáil or to anybody else that I welcome this Bill. If the Minister is to be accused of interference or intervention, it is the same kind of interference as causes the Irish Government this year to invest more than £60 million in Irish farming. This is intervention and interference also.

It is the people's own money.

It is the people's money, but it is being used by the Government for the assistance of farmers, and Deputy Clinton's attempt to show that this Bill is what he calls a revengeful Bill brought in in a spirit of revenge is very futile. I suggest that Deputy Clinton and the other Fine Gael Deputies who have not direct contact with the cattle trade, with cattle markets themselves——

I have direct contact.

——but must believe what they read in the newspapers and what they hear from their legal colleagues, should check up on what actually happens in cattle markets.

I have told the House some things I have seen in the recent past in cattle marts in my constituency but I have not told all of them. I do not want to belabour the House too much by telling them all the things I could tell about this matter. For instance, there was a day in Kilkenny recently when the market decided for no reason whatever—and there were scores of farmers outside the mart who had come there to sell their sheep—to close. The farmers were peremptorily told that there was no mart that day and that they could go home again. I think the reason for that was that some influential people in control of the market felt that they had a grievance with the Government on that particular day.

Was that the day of the seizures?

It was. Without any committee meetings and without any reference to anybody, the mart was shut and the farmers told to bring the livestock home and sell them some other day. As the Deputy opposite says, it was the day of the seizures and the way in which the Kilkenny cattle mart expressed its feelings that day was to go on strike against the farmers who built the mart.

Was there not confusion that day, with the Army coming in, and military trucks?

Order: the Parliamentary Secretary.

I think Deputy Crotty would be very well advised to give up that sort of thing. He has overworked that.

That is the fact.

The Deputy has overworked that. The Deputy's Party Leader has expressed the view, more than once, in this House that the Fine Gael Party are on the side of law and order; it should follow from that that his minion on the second bench, Deputy Crotty, should also be on the side of law and order. Instead of that, he produces these rather silly little interjections on his own.

It is a fact. The Parliamentary Secretary knows it himself.

On a point of order, is it in order to describe Deputy Crotty as a minion?

I would suggest to Deputy Donegan that, when he has a minute to spare, he should go down to the Library and get out the Oxford Dictionary.

A Deputy

Is that the one out of which you got the definition of the republic?

Having consulted it, he may hesitate in future to raise such a point of order. He will find out what "minion" means. It is not a particularly offensive word. I should not like to offend Deputy Crotty because I think he is a Deputy who always does his best to put the Fine Gael slant on things. He is not particularly successful, but he does his best. I have very little more to say.

You said plenty, brother.

I assure Deputy Dillon I stand over everything I say.

But will the Parliamentary Secretary get his colleagues to stand over it?

They were in with the Minister last night and that is not what they were saying to him.

As I have already said, I know what I am talking about; I have had to do with cattle markets for some years. From time to time I have had cattle and sheep to sell. I will have cattle to sell in the future and I want to know that I will be in a position to sell them without let or hindrance. That is the main reason I welcome this Bill.

I should like to deal in a factual way, first of all, with some of the statements made by the Parliamentary Secretary. I hope he will stay with us. He instanced a particular mart which, if I understand him correctly, failed to pay and he talked about the destruction of many farmers. Perhaps he is talking of an instance about which I am aware. Perhaps he is not. Whether this is a situation that may arise or whether it is a situation that has arisen in the past few months in a certain part of the country, the fact is, and I challenge the Parliamentary Secretary to say it is untrue, there is absolutely nothing in this Bill dealing with the failure of a mart to pay. The legislation that deals with that situation is contained in a different Act—the Auctioneers Act—and in other legislation. The production of red herrings by the Parliamentary Secretary, who should be informed if he had done his homework——

It is not covered in the Auctioneers Act at all.

If the auctioneer who occasionally interrupts but never speaks——

I do speak.

——will contain himself, he will have an opportunity of saying what he wants to say when I have finished. I say there is provision in the Auctioneers Act under which the taking out of a guarantee by auctioneers and the guarantee against failure by auctioneers is dealt with. The salient point is that the Parliamentary Secretary instanced the Bill before the House as something which would help in case of failure of a mart. I challenge him to tell us in what section there is provision affecting the failure of a livestock mart to pay.

The Deputy has obviously not read the Bill.

I have read it and there is nothing in it to substantiate the Parliamentary Secretary's argument.

I suggest the Deputy read it again.

Attack is the best form of defence and downright denial is quite a good way of defending oneself. Perhaps some subsequent Fianna Fáil speaker will disprove my statement that there is nothing in this Bill to deal with the failure of a mart to pay.

I should like now to deal with the suggestion of the Parliamentary Secretary that there was intimidation against an individual farmer in Kilkenny and that a person stood beside this man's cattle and indicated they were not to be bought.

That is right.

Whether or not that is true, I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary now is there anything in this Bill—I can find nothing—to deal with such a situation?

Suppose an individual came into a mart and endeavoured to stop the sale of cattle belonging to another citizen. I suggest the position would be that that would be a criminal offence under other legislation. I will be very much indebted to any Fianna Fáil Deputy who can indicate to the House and to me just what is in this Bill affecting such a situation. Any attempt to prevent a citizen selling his cattle would be a criminal offence under other legislation, but not under this Bill. I will be most indebted to anyone—it is no good asking the Parliamentary Secretary because he obviously does not know and his only purpose in coming in here was to make a flowery speech on some political side issues—who can tell me whether such provision as that to which the Parliamentary Secretary referred is contained in this Bill, with reference to the particular section.

The Parliamentary Secretary talked about people suggesting that the Minister is the sworn enemy of agriculture. I want to say at once I do not think he is. I think he is a sworn devotee of the Fianna Fáil vote and he will do anything, absolutely anything, to anybody, rich or poor, powerful or weak, hurtful or helpful, so long as he feels that what he does will either increase the Fianna Fáil vote or stop a landslide from Fianna Fáil. That is his code; that is his job. I propose to deal with it at greater length later.

The licensing of the livestock marts coincides with the dispute with the National Farmers Association. Deputy Tully very properly indicated pressing legislation waiting to be dealt with here. He indicated No. 17 on today's Order Paper, the Redundancy Payments Bill, which has been left aside apparently while the licensing of livestock marts is proceeded with. Why is it nobody ever mentioned anything about them until just now? Why is it there was no Government statement or statement by the Minister in relation to the necessity for this legislation at this point of time? Why is it that the glut of cattle, which I told the Minister about six months ago, and which was quite obvious from the figures, and has now been told to the country by the Minister's Agricultural Institute, has not been the subject of even one statement by the Minister when, in the past six and 12 months, there should have been a campaign for the production by way of loan and grant of self-feed silage units so that next winter we can feed more of our cattle until the high price period arrives so as to avoid the danger of—to use Deputy J. Gibbons's expression— destroying the farmers?

The Deputy is getting away from livestock marts.

With respect, I am not. I want to instance what might have been said by the Government but was not said on this Bill. The Livestock Marts Bill might have been discussed with the public in the past six months before it was introduced here. There were other pressing matters in relation to the livestock trade—which is the end product of this Bill—which had not been dealt with. We could have got away from the worst aspect of the livestock trade if the Minister had been more interested in the needs of the Irish farmer than in increasing and maintaining the Fianna Fáil vote and their own positions in office. Therefore, with respect, I say that it is most relevant to indicate what has not been said.

The Chair points out that it is not relevant.

Very well; I shall depart from that point now as I consider I have made it with sufficient emphasis. Let us remember that there has been absolutely no consultation with the farmers or the auctioneers in relation to this Bill. The auctioneers of this country have been consulted— I am sure Deputy Allen can tell us this —over a long period on the question of their occupation. Apart from themselves, their occupations affect a large number of people in this country, notably farmers. In many ways, farmers are probably the best customers auctioneers have. Yet, during the entire period—I have checked on this— no mention was made that there would be a licensing of livestock marts where there must be an auctioneer.

This was looked for years ago.

You have to be a licensed auctioneer to sell. No mention was made, during all that period of consultation, that a Livestock Marts Bill would be introduced.

It was looked for years ago.

This is further evidence that this legislation is merely revenge legislation and legislation calculated further to increase the rift between the farmers and the Government. It is legislation further to produce the big stick and further to drive the farmers into despair.

Let us consider, in relation to this, the position of an auctioneer. In the livestock marts I frequent, there is an old saying which the farmers know and the auctioneer knows: "The sparrows are bidding"; there are many sparrows on the roof of this mart. This means that there are puffers involved in the bidding for cattle. The auctioneer who starts up and takes the bids has to decide what is the genuine bid and what is the puff. He has to be a man of great integrity. He has to be a man of very considerable ability. He must know the people all around him. What is the position under this legislation? Must the auctioneer take the puff? Must he accept the bid from a person who, he well knows, has not the wherewithal? One of the safety factors in selling through an auctioneer was that when you sold through a reputable firm of auctioneers, you knew you were sure of your money because they had accepted the bid and would pay up.

Not if the other fellow did not pay you.

This is the situation as I know it.

The Deputy does not know it.

I have bought and sold in livestock marts since I was 17 years of age when my father sent me out to do so and corrected me if I made a mistake. If I bought over these years in a livestock mart or at a sale conducted by a reputable auctioneer, I knew that I would be paid. The position now is that, if the Minister desires, the auctioneer must take the puff. What happens, then, if he knows a bid comes from a man of straw who cannot pay or if he refuses it? Is he liable to a fine of £1,000 and £100 a day for continuing the offence? These are serious matters.

There are many items of legislation that are said to be 99 per cent the production of the officials. I am certain that this is a political production by the Minister and that the people sitting over there beside him would not stand over it but they have to sit there because he is their Minister. I am certain that no mind or hand among the officials of the Department of Agriculture would produce that document because they would have more brains, more honesty, more knowledge and more insight.

The Minister's speech is a queer sort of variation between attack and defence. To me, it has an odd tone. There is intimidation. The Minister says:

I make no apology to anyone for taking steps to secure this freedom for Irish farmers and exporters and to ensure frustration of efforts of any group to arrogate to itself the right to say who should sell or buy at a mart.

In my constituency, in my county—I am sorry; it was carved up for Fianna Fáil reasons—there are two proprietorial marts. One is owned between a society and a mart. The mart is owned by 40 or 50 farmers. These people have not been interfered with. There has been no intimidation or evidence of it that I know of.

I know of nobody who is trying to arrogate to himself the right to say who should sell or who should but at a mart. These marts have never failed to pay. I have known these auctioneers to refuse bids. Therefore, it seems extraordinary that this should occur at a time when there is such ill-feeling in agricultural circles towards the Minister for Agriculture.

What is the thinking in agricultural circles? The Taoiseach and the wives of the farmers did a good job. His Minister for Agriculture is now producing this legislation and talks about people arrogating rights to themselves, talks about intimidation, talks about seeing that nobody will do this. Then, there is a long diatribe in defence of his action. I intend to deal with this diatribe.

I never knew a Minister to introduce a Bill here who had not the same approach in his opening speech— honest sincerity that the measure was a good piece of legislation. Here, rather, the Minister is trying to defend himself before he is attacked. He is trying to defend himself against public opinion. He is trying to bastion the terrible mistakes and the vicious legislation he is implementing.

I want to deal with a particular statement by the Minister:

No new policy, principle or procedure is introduced by this Bill,...

In defence of this statement, further down he quotes a series of Acts of Parliament which give control to the Minister of certain agricultural industries. I intend to deal with each one of them individually. Every one of these has to do with quality production or the control of something that can change, that is not in fact a fixed thing, that can be improved or disimproved and that will leave us with a worse or a better article for export or use. Nobody can change the quality of a bullock that walks through the ring. No legislation on livestock marts will change the quality of livestock in this country which has never been at a lower ebb as a result of the disastrous Fianna Fáil heifer scheme.

The Minister says:

The Dairy Produce Act, 1924, provides for the registration of creameries while the Creamery Act of 1928 gives the Minister discretion as regards the granting of a licence for a new creamery and empowers him to attach to the licence such conditions as he thinks proper.

Creameries produce butter and butter must be exported. It is exported under a trade name and there must be a constant quality and there must be a service provided for the farmer. There must be a very heavy capital expenditure and the result is that quality control and the provision of services to the farmer make it necessary that we should have control over the activities of the creameries. That is the reason for that legislation.

Similarly, the Minister refers to the Pigs and Bacon Act. Of course this is so. Do we want to have a hotch-potch of ten different brands or grades or types of bacon sent out, if the general policy is to produce a certain brand and type of bacon cured in a certain way? That is why that legislation is necessary.

The Minister referred to the Poultry Hatcheries Act. Of course we want to breed the right type of hens and to legislate that those people producing eggs for breeding will have the right stock.

He also quoted the Livestock (Artificial Insemination) Act. Of course we want the right semen from the very best bulls we can provide and of course we want to upgrade, if at all possible, the standard of our cattle.

He referred to the Seed Production Act, 1955, under which the Minister has discretion as regards the granting of a licence. Is that not necessary if we are to maintain the quality of our seeds and is it not necessary in relation to certified seed and to ensure that what the farmer buys he gets and that what is on the outside of the bag describes what is in it. This is a matter of policy.

He also quoted the Fertilisers, Feeding Stuffs and Mineral Mixtures Act, 1955. Of course we want to see that our superphosphate has the right analysis, that our compound fertilisers have the right analysis, and that our animal feedingstuffs have the right analysis and the right performance. Of course we want to control this matter of production and——

But we want to boycott, if we like, the cattle marts.

Can the Parliamentary Secretary indicate any legislation that is going to affect Deputy Briscoe or myself if we boycott the cattle mart or incite anyone to do so within the Act? We are guilty, if we do, of a criminal offence under different legislation but you cannot, and I submit will not, provide one line in one subsection of this Act that will affect individual people like Deputy Briscoe or myself.

Then there is another example brought to the defence of the Minister before he is attacked—which seems extraordinary—when he says "Several enactments provide for the licensing of exports". Of course we want to see that we sent out the right agricultural produce. This is fundamental but this has nothing to do with walking a bull through a ring in a livestock mart.

I think I have disposed of the Minister's defences. I would like to turn now to that part of the Minister's speech where he says:

Its purposes are to exercise a reasonable degree of control over the establishment of new livestock marts, to ensure for example that there is no uneconomic overlapping where a tendency to undesirable proliferation may occur in particular areas and also to ensure that adequate facilities of various kinds are provided and that the services of the marts are available fairly and reasonably to all clients.

The first point I want to make is that the commission paid by farmers or purchasers of livestock is subject to competition. It is the hope of an auctioneer or of any mart management to get in the cattle and to sell them. It is a question of competition in getting the buyers there. If the mart can get the buyers, they will get the cattle. You have to find out at once which comes first, the hen or the egg. In relation to uneconomic overlapping, the position is those which are uneconomic will go out; they will lose their money. The capital expenditure involved in livestock marts has no relation at all to the capital expenditure involved in bacon factories or creameries. There is sufficient competition. It is the right line to have: the best will stay and the worst will go. There is no defence in the Minister's statement that he wants to have this right to give a licence in a certain area or the right to refuse it. It means that here is another sphere in which a Minister of State may, if he so desires, give a licence to those whom he likes, or not give it to those he does not like. This is something that is extremely relevant.

I do not want to go outside the rules of order but we have had mention of Taca and various things and there is considerable disquiet about the application of certain grants. That disquiet, unfortunately, is also noised outside the country. For a Minister of State to take unto himself, without even the suggestion that he might consult, the right to give or take away or refuse a licence for the auctioning of cattle in this, the greatest, freest trade of all, the cattle trade, is something that stinks of the desire for power and the desire to use power for their own ends. It has been so commented upon and is so——

I wish to go no further than that.

What ends are you talking about?

The ends of staying in power.

How would this keep Fianna Fáil in power?

This is directed by force of power and force of action against certain people and it means that certain people will have to bend their knee to Fianna Fáil. Perhaps certain people will have to become members of Taca——

A Deputy

What has that to do with the Bill?

The Minister is the one who refuses it——

(Interruptions.)

Has anybody denied that you are guilty of Taca?

We are not guilty; it is planned giving.

It does not arise.

I am delighted: "planned giving" is right.

I saw a letter——

(Interruptions.)

I want now to deal with the question of punishments. This Bill is a terrible mistake but I doubt whether if there were to be such legislation it was necessary to specify any punishment at all except the right to issue a court order. A man who contravenes the law arrives in court and if a court order is issued against him to do a certain thing, or not to do a certain thing, he is bound by the law, and that is right and proper. If he persists in his misdemeanour, if there is any misdemeanour, and does what he was instructed not to do, then he is subject to the courts. However, this provides for certain punishments and allows for sending a man to jail for six months, and fining him £1,000 if he contravenes any of the regulations under section 2. I hold that this is unparalleled, that there are certain punishments prescribed for people in business who do not make certain returns or do this or the other thing and——

If he breaks the law.

Yes, but you get a comparison, and I challenge Fianna Fáil to give any comparison.

Cassius Clay: he was fined £3,000 and sent to jail for five years.

Wait now; that is a rather facetious remark.

No more facetious than the Deputy's.

It is a facetious, silly remark. If Cassius Clay does not go to Vietnam and if he insults his Government and if he is fined and sent to jail, that is fair enough. That is Amerca. I am suggesting that a businessman who contravened the regulations, even during the war, when we had a Minister of Supplies, was not dealt with to the tune of £1,000 and six months. This legislation is prescribing punishment far above the gravity of any offence suggested in the Bill.

I want to suggest that one of the things the Minister might perhaps have taken into account, and done something about if he had liked, was the fact that since the amalgamation of the dairies in Dublin, 50 per cent of the milk is going back as supposedly sour. The Minister was not interested in that. That would be something for the farmers who are lower-class citizens according to him. The Minister believes that the right thing for Fianna Fáil, for their advancement for the future, is the destruction of the NFA, and he has set out on that collision course. I do not think he is right. I believe that is what he believes, and that is the tune he is playing.

This legislation is part and parcel of that belief. He is now setting up a section of the agricultural community which is meant to bend the knee to the Minister. He is dealing with them from his position of power, as a man who will give only what is good for Fianna Fáil, and who will do to anyone anything at all unpleasant, severe and penal, so long as it helps Fianna Fáil. That is the thinking behind this legislation. Perhaps the Taoiseach was too busy with Europe to stop him doing it. Perhaps the Taoiseach is of the same brand as himself. No one knows yet because they have not been together for very long and they had their difficulties in selecting a man.

We had no difficulty. It is you who had difficulty.

That is the situation.

They had one compromise leader after another in rapid succession.

(Interruptions.)

The Deputy walked into it there.

I want to suggest that in addition to the decisions which the Minister will make as to who will get the marts, there is the corollary of selection by political power. Remember that at a July meeting of Louth County Council, to put the boot on the other foot, a Fine Gael majority will select a Fine Gael rate collector. I want to suggest that if the House gives the Minister this power, he can give Fianna Fáil supporters the right and the sole right to sell cattle in wide areas.

The Deputy should be ashamed of himself.

The main purpose of the Bill is to see that each and every farmer can sell his stock in a free, fair sale and that he can go about his business, go into the marts and come out satisfied, without being impeded in his business one way or another. That is as it should be. It is not so very long since the system of selling our cattle was carried out on a different basis. Selling cattle in marts is a very serious business for anyone. You go into the mart with your cattle and you hand them over to someone else to sell them. You must trust that person to give you what we call a fair crack of the whip; that there will be fair bidding and fair selling and that you will get your money when the sale is over.

I can see nothing in this Bill which will stop the efficient committees which are running the marts from going ahead. So far as I can observe in my county of Cork, they will not be affected one way or another, whether they are small marts or groups attached to the Cork co-operative mart. At the moment the Opposition seem to be grasping at any straw, because of the coming local elections, to criticise the Government. I have no doubt that the straws they are grasping will be their ruination.

We did not introduce the Bill.

We will see how things work out. In my part of the country, rumours have been put out by the Opposition that all private sales and dispersal cattle sales by auctioneers will be governed by this Bill. That is completely wrong. It is only right that an end should be put to those rumours. They will carry on as they did heretofore. We must remember that a real growth in the marts has taken place over the past ten years only. There was great rivalry amongst the people who supported the marts and the people who supported the fairs. It was even suggested to the man supporting the marts that the buyers would be asked not to bid for his cattle, andvice versa. This Bill is intended to ensure that everyone who wants to sell cattle at marts, whatever the colour of their political convictions or what farming organisation they support, will get a fair and square deal.

I heard my friend, Deputy T. O'Donnell, paying great tribute to the IAOS. I can only speak about what I know, but I remember in Cork when they were starting the co-operative mart, they went to the IAOS for guidance, so to speak, and the reply was that they could give neither advice nor guidance as they knew nothing about it. That took them greatly aback. It is now amusing to see the IAOS trying to speak for all the marts in the country. I was very disappointed on that occasion but now the mart in Cork is a great success.

I welcome this Bill and I hope the day will soon come when we will have a great change in our method of selling cattle, especially in the south. At the moment we have very little exports through the port of Cork. Cattle have to travel long distances to the marts and then they are exported from one port or another. When this Bill is passed, I believe the Minister will have to go further. I believe that he will have to select certain ports where cattle will be exported. There must be some kind of selective buying and selling. At the moment if you are looking for cattle, you can travel three or four miles to get them and then have to transport them 30, 40 or 50 miles to a port. If we are to make progress that must be changed. The day is coming when someone will arrive in a plane go to a mart which is adjacent to the port, buy his cattle and get away that evening. I do not know how we will erect such marts or how they will get the capital. Because it is a very big group, the Cork mart has gone a long way towards doing this, but if the State gives us some assistance, it will be very welcome.

Deputy Donegan referred to a glut of cattle. We know there are a lot of cattle in the country but we should not forget that it is not very long since we had a commodity strike. For one whole week no cattle were allowed to be sold. Only a few cattle were sold at a time when cattle were making a very good price. I do not know how many thousand were affected by this. It is a shame to say that we should lose one good week's sale just because a certain organisation or a certain group took it into their heads that they should have a commodity strike. That was only adding more to the glut which may be there at the end of the year.

It has been said by the Opposition that this is revenge legislation and all the rest and that the Minister is fighting against public opinion. I have no doubt that is completely untrue. It cannot be revenge legislation. It is legislation to ensure we will have the cattle marketed in a proper and orderly fashion. From now on it will be very hard for somebody to put up a second mart in a town or locality where one already exists. That is only right and proper. After all, we would only have one playing off against the other, so to speak, in those circumstances.

We also had reference by Deputy Donegan to the people who take bids from what are known as "puffers" at the marts. I suppose you will always have the man who will chance his arm, but it is up to the auctioneer to decide to take the bid. That man can object to the officer of the Department of Agriculture who comes down and he will be empowered to look into the position and see if the bid should be accepted or not. These are minor matters which can be ironed out quite easily and they do not enter into the thing one way or the other.

It has also been said that the Minister brought in this Bill as part of an effort to destroy the NFA. We in the Fianna Fáil Party have no desire to destroy the NFA. We must remember all sections of the community are entitled to their own organisations to represent them, but those organisations must work within the law of the land. These are not the laws of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or Labour, but the laws of the people. That is the fundamental issue.

It is a good thing that there should be some control over livestock marts. The existing marts we know in Cork will easily come under the regulations. They are all in order. They are well established and do their business very well. I, as a farmer and as a shareholder in a mart, would not support this Bill if I thought it was a backward step. It is not; it is something that will help the co-operative movement. I am sorry I had to mention the IAOS and their attitude to the start of the marts.

Was that the note the Parliamentary Secretary sent back?

Maybe I did not make it clear. I mentioned that when they went to them for advice——

Backpedal away now.

I do not have to backpedal from a man discarded by his own Party. I would recommend this Bill to the House.

I recommend the last speaker not to get cross. There is no need to get cross. We are all told by our seniors to backpedal a bit. But I would give him a little advice. The next time he gets that instruction, tell them to go to blazes and backpedal themselves.

The Minister in introducing this Bill is, of course, prosecuting his sordid war on the NFA. That is perfectly clear. It is a sordid war.

Untrue, and unbecoming of the Deputy.

I must confess it makes me sick to pass the Department of Agriculture now. No matter who was there, whether it was Senator Ryan, Deputy Paddy Smith, the late Deputy Tom Walsh or any of the men who were there——

There are plenty of good dustbins outside it.

That is where you sought to put the farmers of the country and that is what makes me sick. Whatever Minister used to be there, at least one regarded the Department of Agriculture—and I am not referring to its personnel but to its structure and position there—as a sort of citadel maintaining the dignity and importance of the agricultural section of our community. Is there anybody in this House who passes that building now who does not feel it is almost in a state of siege, hated and feared by the very people whose servants they ought to be proud to be?

You do not believe that?

It is untrue and not worthy of a Deputy for whom I have great personal respect.

It is a horrible position into which we allowed ourselves to drift. When introducing the Bill, the Minister said:

When I announced the decision recently to introduce this legislation, some people alleged that the legislation was an attack on the NFA.

I ask the House, fairly and squarely, having listened to the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Gibbons, today, can anyone doubt that the introduction of this Bill is an attack on the NFA?

I give the Minister this credit. It is a most interesting and significant feature that in the whole context of his speech, as well as the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Gibbons, there is not one single reference to the NAC, God bless the mark. You will remember when we were told within the last few weeks that every decision taken in the Department of Agriculture now was the result of anxious counsel by the NAC presided over by the Minister for Agriculture and attended by the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Davern. Sympathetic discussion, anxious inquiry as to the best advice that might be available, and only after protracted reflection by this august body is legislation respectfully submitted to the Dáil.

You would never get anything done that way.

That is what he thinks of the NAC. That is what the Minister believes of the NAC. That is why he formed it. Because he said: "I do not mean to discuss anything with them. It is a fraud. I mean to lay down conditions which will prevent any farmer, who is a person of dignity and independence, coming on the NAC. The only man I want on it is a yes-man."

One can hardly say that of the personnel of the NAC, many of whom the Deputy has known as Minister for Agriculture.

I think I am vindicated by the remark of the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Gibbons, that if you discuss it with them, you will never get anything done.

I said that you cannot efficiently discuss everything with them.

You said "If you discuss anything with them."

The note is there and the record will establish the truth of what I say.

I want to give the Minister credit for this, that he has not pretended that the text of this Bill was ever submitted to the NAC. There is no member of the NAC who need blush for the contents of this Bill because they were completely ignored when it was being prepared. That is the kind of thing that is happening nowadays which absolutely humiliates me. I was always proud of the fact that I taught the farmers of this country to walk tall——

By cutting the price of wheat.

——to walk tall and hold their heads up. I required every other section of the community to recognise the contribution which our farmers made to this country as a whole. I would be ashamed if I established the NAC or any other advisory body, and I had plenty of them, and then came before this House and presented a Bill of this kind, avowing openly that I did not consult the advisory body established by myself because I knew that if I did consult them, I would not get anywhere at all.

That is misrepresentation. The Minister did not say that.

Misrepresentation is the universal alibi of every chancer in the world. Did the farmers of this country not acquire from their neighbours the respect to which they were entitled 20 years ago? Does the Parliamentary Secretary think it is consistent with the status of the NAC that in a matter of this kind the Minister should openly avow that he had not discussed it with them at all? Does it not speak volumes for what the Minister thinks of his own Council that he never discussed this matter with the NAC? Not one word in his speech suggests that any member of that Council ever heard of this Bill. Is it relevant to the terms of reference of the NAC?

Does the Parliamentary Secretary deny that if this Bill goes through, it will affect the livelihood of 90 per cent of the farmers of this country? If the NAC had any function at all, this Bill should have been discussed with them. The Minister could then have come into the House and said that he had discussed it with them, that it had their approval, or that there were two points of view, that he had listened to both and that the measure he was now bringing before the House was the best he could devise after consulting with this body which he himself had set up for the purpose of consultation. The farming community are now being treated as if they were an inferior race.

I object to this. The farming community have never been treated as inferior by Fianna Fáil and never will be treated as inferior by Fianna Fáil.

Deputy Dillon will probably say things that other Deputies would like to contradict. If that is so, other Deputies will have an opportunity to contradict him.

If they dare. This Bill is another indication of the fact that the Government regard the agricultural community as inferior. Deputy Meaney laid emphasis on the fact that in his constituency a large proportion of the marts are operated by farming co-operatives. Within the relatively recent past, we have been asked to legislate here for solicitors, barristers, dentists and auctioneers, and in every case the Minister responsible came in and said he had had long and anxious consultations with the auctioneers, the dentists, the barristers and the solicitors and that it was only after long and careful discussion with these bodies that he had presented this legislation to the House.

Sometimes the Minister went on to say that he had not reached entire agreement with the members of the profession to which he now sought to give statutory existence but no such claim has been made by the Minister in charge of this Bill. I do not want to follow Deputy Meaney or to lead him into any trap about words but it is true that the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society is a co-ordinating body where many of these marts are concerned. Were they asked their opinions on this Bill? Why are the farmers to be treated as if they were unworthy of consultation on this matter when it was thought necessary to consult the dentists, the solicitors and the auctioneers? None of these bodies had as readily accessible a co-ordinating body as the farmers had. The Irish Agricultural Organisation Society was there and they could have obtained the opinion of these co-operatives in the shortest possible time. Instead of that being done, a Bill has been rushed into this House at a time when there is a dreadful atmosphere abroad.

That is why the Bill is necessary.

May I quote those words: "That is why the Bill is necessary"? I ask any responsible Deputy if those words do not mean that this Bill is part of the war on the NFA?

No; there are people who are suffering and who need to be relieved immediately.

Did the Deputy ever hear of a man who was willing to wound but afraid to strike? Such a man never has the courage to get up and say: "I was told that an injustice had been done. It could have been that this was due to some conspiracy and it is surprising that So-and-So did not protest in public". Why should he protest in public? Why should they protest in public? The Minister's colleague, the Minister for Health, recently asked a Deputy of this House had he stopped beating his wife. Does Deputy Gibbons get up and protest that he is the paragon of all virtues on every Sunday at every chapelgate or does he proceed on the assumption that his neighbours regard him as a reasonably decent, respectable man, no better or no worse than his neighbours? Why must the NFA rush into the arena whenever there is anything which displeases Deputy Gibbons to proclaim: "We are not responsible"?

Because they were asked.

Why should we blame them?

They were asked.

By whom?

By the Press, for their opinions about these boycotts.

Why should they be forced to proclaim their views about these boycotts or any other impropriety?

They had an opportunity of saying where they stood.

Just as the man had the opportunity of saying where he stood when he was asked: "Have you given up beating your wife?" Deputy Gibbons, have you given up beating your wife? Answer that. You are given an opportunity now of dealing with that specific question. Have you stopped beating your wife, Deputy Gibbons?

He never started: that is the answer.

Deputy Dillon is fascinated by that cleverality.

I do not think it is clever. I think it is silly.

Why do you repeat it?

There are all sorts of variations upon it, all of which the Parliamentary Secretary employs and all of them directed to one end, to defame and slander the National Farmers Association. Listen: I am as well aware of the virtues and the failings of farmers' organisations as any other Deputy and I have differed from them in my time and I have had 10,000 of them walking outside the Department of Agriculture.

And a few of them in the Bridewell.

Not that I remember.

No. They marched with Mr. Fletcher at their head and the purpose of their march was to protest against my failure to furnish them with a copy of the Milk Costing Report and in Mr. Fletcher's righthand pocket as he marched at the head of the parade was the report which he was demonstrating to secure a copy of. But I did not get cross. I waved to them from the window and rejoiced that they had a nice fine day. They had their parade and they all went down to Clerys and to Woolworths and so forth and had a lovely time, and they all went home again in peace.

Now who has contempt for farmers?

I have none.

This sounds like contempt.

I glory in the fact that they had the right to demonstrate against me and that I was proud to say that as their servant I recognised that right.

To go down to Woolworths and have a good time.

They had their demonstration. They peacefully dispersed and went about their lawful occasions, as I would expect them to do.

To Woolworths.

Why not?

To have a good time.

Does the Parliamentary Secretary think it undignified to deal in Woolworths?

The Russell Hotel, he would expect.

Deputy Dillon has shown his hand.

If I cannot buy a collarstud in Woolworths without demeaning the family to which I belong——

They did not want to buy 10,000 collar-studs.

I could show the Parliamentary Secretary a considerable part of my vesture which was got in Woolworths. Why not?

Very nice too.

What about supporting home industry?

Let us get back to the fundamentals. The Parliamentary Secretary, I know, is astute enough to want to turn it all aside. There was this difference, that when they walked, they walked with dignity. They knew their rights and they exercised them. I thought they exercised them unfairly against me but that was for the public to judge. I never ceased to recognise my obligation to be their servant and I never sought power to coerce them to do my will. That is the difference. What horrifies me is the constant tendency of Fianna Fáil to drift back into the position, once they get a clear majority in this House, of becoming little swaggering dictators.

I always used to think of the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Gibbons, as a reasonably rational and reasonable man. I thought his speech today revealed a darkness of mind.

Original sin.

No—a darkness of mind and a viciousness against his own neighbour. To hear him describe Kilkenny, you would imagine that he was living in a kind of Hades with conspiracies swirling about him and neighbours of whom any man might be ashamed. I recommend him to look rather at a feature of Telefís Éireann, "The Riordans". He might see a truer picture of his neighbours there, not all angels but not all satanic conspirators. If the Parliamentary Secretary will re-read his speech, I think he will have to ask himself whether he gave this House a true picture of the farmers of Kilkenny. I do not think he did and I think he will regret the picture he portrayed. But it is all part of this detestable mentality which Fianna Fáil assume once they secure an absolute majority in this House. Opposition to their Party is treason and has to be trampled underfoot. They will never succeed but they can do horrible injustice in the pursuit of that error.

I did interrupt the Parliamentary Secretary because I know him to be an old and experienced practitioner in this House whom reasonable interjection does not disturb when I spoke of the full of four fields of inspectors and civic guards and bulldozers to break down the farmer's gates. It is 20 years exactly since a Minister for Agriculture of the Fianna Fáil Party issued that challenge to the agricultural community in this country and this interesting fact emerges: That challenge was issued because he conceived that the farmers of Meath were not sowing a sufficient acreage of wheat. I came into office as Minister for Agriculture a year afterwards and it was well known that I was not a great enthusiast of the wheat crop when I saw that it imperilled other crops which many people had neglected to our cost but our Government increased the price of the barrel of wheat so as to remove in so far as we could specific items of agricultural policy from the ordinary arena of Party politics and here is the interesting fact that, contemporaneously, an order was issued that no officer of the Department of Agriculture was to enter on a farmer's holding until the farmer himself invited him and we doubled the acreage of wheat in the subsequent ten years. Leaving it to the farmers but giving them inducements produced a far more effective result than telling the farmers that you would take four fields of inspectors and line their ditches with civic guards if they did not do what you wanted them to do.

It is simpler to cut the price by 12/6d a barrel, and you did that.

You did not change the price for ten years afterwards. Let us not go into that now. Is this Bill not an announcement to every mart operated by farmers in this country: "If you do not carry out our injunction, we will line your walls with civic guards and we will put the full of four fields of inspectors in to see that you do"?

That is not in the Bill.

Deputy Meaney, innocently enough, foresees the time when there will be a departmental inspector there to look every bidder in the face and having inspected him and determined hisbona fides, to say to the auctioneer: “Yes, you may take that bid and another bid from there.” Deputy Meaney hopes for another departmental inspector to hop up and say: “This one looks a bit doubtful. Hold up everything until I see his bankbook.” I know that sounds silly but that is what Deputy Meaney thinks the control of cattle marts Bill means.

This is your fantasy.

No. I do not think the Department of Agriculture could be guilty of any such imbecilities, but it is the hope that that kind of thing is going to happen that persuades poor Deputy Meaney, or Deputy Meaney is sent in to say that this is the reason he believes in the cattle marts Bill. The fantasy is exposed and Deputy Meaney is told in the middle of his speech to withdraw something he has already said.

He was not told any such thing. This is a fantasy of the Deputy's.

I shall leave that between the Parliamentary Secretary and Deputy Meaney.

That was not the case.

The Minister for Agriculture is not in the House. Apparently he has fled from the field.

Again, to correct the Deputy, he is in the Seanad.

He has another parliamentary duty to discharge——

I want to rebut the Deputy's insinuation that he had gone out of this House.

He has gone to discharge another duty.

To the other Chamber of the House.

He has another public duty to discharge, and he sent in the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Gibbons, to intervene in the debate.

No; I was not sent.

Anyway I stand on the record of Deputy Gibbons's speech for the assertion that this Bill is part of a vendetta——

——being made by the Minister for Agriculture on the National Farmers Association because they have refused to bow in the Hall of Rimmon.

That is a mischievous thing to say.

It is true.

This Bill is for the good of farmers.

I want to speak for a moment—and with some authority, because I administered these Acts myself—on the fact that the Minister has sought to identify this Bill with the Dairy Produce Act of 1924 and the Creamery Act of 1928. Of course there is no association. The Dairy Produce Act of 1924 and the Creamery Act of 1928 were two Acts designed to amalgamate the dairy industry. I heard the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary, and he made a remark that filled me with alarm and dismay. I would ask Fianna Fáil Deputies to note it well. He said—and I do not think I misquote him—that it would be in the ordinary course of development if the meat factories ultimately controlled the marts.

I did not say quite that.

The meat factories would have large marts annexed to them.

No. I was relating it to something I said last week on the Estimate for Agriculture.

That is what I understood the Parliamentary Secretary to say. I want to tell the House I have had experience of that. When I was young, I brought three wagons of cattle to a sales mart in the city of Denver, owned by Armours, and we put the three wagons of cattle into three pens. It was a time of deep depression in the United States of America.

Up the Chisholm Trail, no doubt.

To Denver, the capital of Colorado. By noon we had sold two pens of cattle, and we were then told to take the third pen out. We could not wait any longer and we had nothing to do except to take the third pen of cattle out and bring it home. When the account was cast up, what we had got for the two pens of cattle we sold paid the freight on the three pens of cattle from Sedalia to Denver and the freight back on one pen of cattle and left us with about 15 dollars for our expenses. I do not relish the prospect of the livestock trade of this country and its marketing being placed in the hands of the meat factories.

Neither do I.

There is a great conflict of interests between the producer and the processor which should be resolved in an independent market where the producer and the processor meet on an equal footing.

The farmer will do the whole job himself.

I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to look at his own speech again and tell me if it was not open to the interpretation I placed upon it. The Minister in his introductory speech goes on to liken this legislation to the Pigs and Bacon Act, 1935. As Deputy Donegan pointed out, there is a distinction there. The Pigs and Bacon Act, 1935, was designed to secure that the end product of the farmer's production would be sold, processed and handled so that the best possible end product would emerge. The purpose of the Pigs and Bacon Act was to secure (1) that if the farmer brings in good pigs of high grade he will get top price for them; and (2) that when the factory proceeds to process the pigs, the pigs will not be destroyed in the act of processing, that the bacon that comes out will be worthy of the pig that went in, so that the producer of pigs may get the maximum price.

The Minister likened the Bill to the Livestock (Artificial Insemination) Act, 1947. Of course we had to take the most rigorous precautions to ensure that the semen taken from any inseminating centres was of the character and quality prescribed by our veterinary staff, that if people wanted Ayrshire, Shorthorn, Hereford, Aberdeen Angus or any other breed, they should get what they bespoke. It would be a tragic loss to a small farmer if that precaution were not taken, and there was no one else to take it but the Department of Agriculture.

He likened the legislation to the Poultry Hatcheries Act. That Act was brought in to ensure that the production of day-old chicks, which was in the ordinary course of development replacing the old system, whereby what was sold by a licensed farmer's wife would be of the quality and description which was offered by the hatchery. It was one of the common problems of the Department of Agriculture that unscrupulous people would offer day-old chicks to producers who bought them in the belief they were buying pullets only to discover they had bought a box of culled cockerel chicks. The Department of Agriculture are the only people who could take the necessary precautions to protect the producers.

The Minister also mentioned the Seed Production Act, 1955. This legislation was brought in to ensure that if we were going to produce what we did subsequently produce in relation to varieties of rye grass and other seeds, they could be produced under proper control and would conform to the certificate which the Department of Agriculture was in the position to issue. If we had not that power, we could not have exported these seeds because the export market would not have accepted them without a certificate from the Department that the bags contained what the bags said.

The Fertilisers, Feeding Stuffs and Mineral Mixtures Act, 1955, was brought in to ensure that if there was a certificate on the bag that the mixed fertilisers contained certain proportions of phosphates, potash, nitrogen and so on, such proportions were in fact there. It was brought in to ensure that the farmers who bought the products would get what the certificate on the bag declared to be present. The same is true of feeding stuffs. We had to ensure at every stage that the feeding stuffs that farmers were buying conformed as to their constituents, with the certificate.

This is a Bill of an entirely different character. It goes far beyond what any rational Minister would ask the House to do. The Minister, who was absent on public duty in the Seanad, did not hear Deputy Gibbons speaking on this Bill. If he had, I think he would realise how truly it has been borne home to every Deputy who has ears to listen or a mind to question that if the Minister's own spokesman has proclaimed from the Front Bench of the Fianna Fáil Government:

We want this weapon with which to attack the NFA——

He did not say that.

He did say it.

I was here.

Let the record speak.

We heard the Parliamentary Secretary's speech.

And he denied it.

He did not deny it.

That is the trouble. The Deputy is repeating himself.

I am not sorry for the trouble I am causing. I now come to the text of the Bill. In section 3 (2) the Minister asks power that he may at the time of granting of a licence, attach to the licence such conditions as he shall think proper and shall specify in the licence. Subsection (5) of the same section goes on to say that where the holder of a licence is guilty of any offence under this Act, the Minister may, if he thinks fit, revoke the licence. From that decision there is no appeal. If a man commits murder in this country and is found guilty by a jury, there is a right of appeal. Suppose a man has invested all his life's savings in a cattle mart, is it seriously suggested that he has not an appeal to any living creature? We are going to confer on Deputy Neil Blaney, the most vindictive man I have ever known in the public life of this country, an absolute power to deprive a man of his means of livelihood. I would not ask for such power myself and, God knows, I have not the unsavoury reputation of Deputy Blaney.

Did the Deputy say "worse"? Is that possible? I trust that Deputy Blaney will take notice of this compliment when Deputy Allen says "worse".

(Interruptions.)

I am disappointed in that——

I would not put the Minister in the same category at all.

No, but the Minister will remember what the Deputy has said.

I have a better record than the Deputy, far better.

I would not look for these powers myself. I certainly would not bestow them on Deputy Blaney at any time.

I know that. From the first day the Deputy came across me in the by-election, he has bestowed on me nothing but abuse. He is at it ever since but it has not worked.

I was in America at FAO for the Minister's first by-election.

The Deputy was not. He was chased out of the constituency and he knows it.

I would not give this power to any Minister for Agriculture and least of all to the present incumbent of that office. He has shown by his demeanour ever since he became Minister for Agriculture the vindictive nature——

I do not think that really arises on the Bill.

On section 3 which deals with the granting of licences for livestock marts, if I cannot say that I would not give Deputy Blaney power to license a hen coop, never mind a cattle mart, I do not know what I can say in respect of this Bill. I am saying that Deputy Blaney is unfit to hold this power—is that relevant to this Bill? And I am saying that unfit as he is to hold the power of granting the licence, he is ten times more unfit to have the power to withdraw the licence. To grant the licence would be to give a man a chance to live; to take it back would give the Minister the sadistic satisfaction of destroying those who dare to defy him in the vicious vendetta he is at present concerned to wage against those in the agricultural community who are not prepared to bow before him.

Is there any Deputy who thinks it right or just that this power should be vested in this or any other Minister for Agriculture without right of appeal? Is the sanction of taking from a man his livelihood any less than taking from him his life? Very little, but if you steal a pin or take a human life there is an appeal under the law from any tribunal before which the State may bring one, but if you operate a mart, the Minister for Agriculture in respect of any regulation he makes or in respect of any condition he sees fit to attach to any licence, whether before or after the issue of such licence, has power to take from you the right to earn you living in your own country.

But it does not end there. When you come to section 6 you find the Minister has wide power to make regulations for the proper conduct of these marts but without prejudice, in subsection (2) to the generality of subsection (1) of this section and the regulations under this section may prescribe certain matters under paragraph (a) and under paragraph (b) and may under paragraph (c) prescribe the manner in which auctions shall be conducted. This is what raised the hair on Deputy Meaney's head—one inspector to every bidder, one inspector to search him up and down and see if his pocketbook is fat or lean and then tell the auctioneer whether he may take his bid or not.

A person who contravenes a provision of regulations under this section shall be guilty of an offence. Section 7 deals with the power of the Minister's officers and says that an officer of the Minister shall for the purposes of the execution of this Act, have power to do all or any of the following things, that is to say, enter, inspect and examine at all reasonable times by day a place where the business of a livestock mart is carried on. Under paragraph (b) he has power to take with him a member of the Garda Síochána if he has reasonable cause to apprehend any serious obstruction in the execution of his duty. Is there any precedent for an officer of the Department of Agriculture having to seek legislative authority to bring with him a member of the Garda in order to carry out the regulations laid down by the Minister for Agriculture for the time being? I do not know of any.

I know plenty of provisions which provide that once an officer of the Department has made known his identity and produced his credentials, if he is restricted then in the execution of his duty, he can seek the protection of the Garda Síochána but this is the first Bill that I remember in which it is specifically provided that an inspector of the Department who is going about his duty under this Bill shall take with him a member of the Garda Síochána if he has reasonable cause to apprehend any serious obstruction in the execution of his duty.

That provision, in my judgment, breathes the spirit of the Minister when he introduced this Bill. He could not write it without bringing in the Garda Síochána, the 40 fields of inspectors, and the gardaí to line the farmers' ditches. When we brought in the dentists Bill, did we provide that if an inspector of the Department of Health was going about his business and apprehended obstruction, he was to bring a member of the Garda Síochána to the dentists? Has an inspector of the Department of Justice the right to bring in a garda to the Incorporated Law Society? If there is a meeting of the auctioneers, has a representative of the Department of Industry and Commerce or whoever is in control of them a duty imposed upon him to call in a member of the garda to accompany him to inspect the auctioneers? Or is it that we think in Dáil Éireann that, when we are dealing with the farmers, we are dealing with an inferior race and, conversing with them or transacting business with them, one needs gardaí to keep the peace? It is quite a new concept on the part of an Irish Minister for Agriculture and it is one on which I should like the present Minister to elaborate.

I do not know what paragraph (f) means:

An officer of the Minister shall, for the purposes of the execution of this Act, have power to do all or any of the following things, that is to say—

to exercise such other powers as may be necessary for carrying this Act into effect.

What other powers? There is the power to inspect; there is the power to bring in a civic guard.

Power to arrest.

I want the Minister to tell us what other powers. He hears every syllable, but he does not like it. He does not dare to raise his head. He hears and he does right to hang his head. He is disgracing the office he holds. What are the other powers? I want to know. I know of no power yet, vested or envisaged in an officer of the Department of Agriculture, to arrest a farmer and I certainly do not want that paragraph to pass unless we know precisely what is intended.

I am sorry Deputy Meaney has left the House. He spoke with enthusiasm of his experience as a member of a managing committee of a co-operative mart. Does Deputy Meaney know that under this Bill, about which he is so enthusiastic, if any person of the managing committee of which he is a member does anything to affront an officer of the Department of Agriculture within the several subheads set out in section 7, a police constable can come in and arrest Deputy Meaney as soon as he passes out of the precincts of Leinster House because the Minister's power to prosecute under section 2 of this Bill covers not only the person who, it is alleged, committed the act but, in the case of a body corporate, any director thereof, or, in the case of an unincorporated body—that is, a co-operative society—a member of the committee of management or other controlling authority?

What is the penalty that Deputy Meaney must apprehend under subsection (3) of paragraph (b):

in the case of an offence under section 2 of this Act, on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding one thousand pounds (together with, in the case of a continuing offence, a further fine not exceeding one hundred pounds for every day on which the offence is continued) or, at the discretion of the court, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to both the fine and the imprisonment.

I am sure our hearts will all go out to Deputy Meaney if, as he steps out into Kildare Street, the Black Maria rolls up and, instead of removing the members of the NFA, or of the ICSMA, or some farmers belonging to some other organisation, Deputy Meaney is removed to serve six months imprisonment and pay a fine of £1,000 because he is a member of a committee of management of a co-operative society, the servants of which are alleged to have committed a breach of one of the provisions of section 2 of this Bill. I am sorry he is not here because I should like to see him react again with the enthusiasm he displayed earlier to this Bill.

This Bill is a vicious attack on the farming community of this country. It is being used by Deputy Gibbons as a frame within which to paint a picture of the farmers of Kilkenny as viciously as I have ever heard since Arthur Balfour was laid to rest, Lord have mercy on his soul. It is the kind of picture that those who hate our people loved to paint, a picture of vicious, underhand, mean, conspiratorial, dirty Irish, people for whom the ordinary law was not sufficient; you had to have Coercion Acts because it was with the Irish peasantry you were dealing. It is a strange convention for a Deputy of this House to paint that portrait here of his own constituents. But Deputy Gibbons was not telling us what he heard here, there and everywhere in Ireland; he was giving us a picture of what he said he knew was transpiring amongst his own neighbours.

That is not the fact.

I do not think it is the fact and I recommend him to study "The Riordans" on Telefís Éireann to get a truer picture of the ordinary people of the County Kilkenny and the surrounding counties. I am talking of the picture Deputy Gibbons painted. Mark you, Deputy Crotty warned him when he was painting this picture to speak the truth and not to invent things. Deputy Gibbons should——

Deputy Gibbons, the Parliamentary Secretary.

It is a very long title. I shall choke if I have to say all that every time I mention the man's name. I want to submit that every sentence he spoke—I speak of the Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Gibbons—was motivated by rancour and revenge. If these two facts are not enough to prove the proposition that this Bill is merely part of a vicious vendetta, then I want to ask the question that is being asked elsewhere: why is this Bill being brought in today?

We are all agreed there are other urgent things waiting to be done. We have all heard the Labour Party express their great anxiety that the Redundancy Payments Bill should be carried forward to a further stage of legislation. What is going to transpire in the marts between now and next October which is going to cause any creature in this country an hour's grief? Why is this Bill brought in now? My thesis is that this is all part of a vicious, vindictive vendetta. I leave the House with this question to excogitate and answer: if my indictment be not true, why was this Bill brought in now?

As an auctioneer and a man associated with two marts, I welcome this Bill. At a meeting very recently representing the marts of Ireland, the licensing of marts was welcomed. I say "the licensing"; I do not say what type of licensing.

They were very much against this Bill, and the Deputy knows it.

I was at this meeting and I know what I am talking about.

Speak what you know.

Yes, and I will speak the truth. I should love to know on whose behalf you people are speaking. For yourselves: that is just about all.

Is this an attack on the Ceann Comhairle? The Deputy will find out next week on whose behalf we are speaking: we are speaking on behalf of the people of Ireland.

That is what you would like to believe.

Not on behalf of the marts, anyway. I should like to welcome first of all, the Minister's statement that it is not the object of the Bill to hinder in the slightest way the legitimate operation of livestock marts or to prevent the establishment of new marts. He says:

It is not the object of this Bill to hinder in the slightest way the legitimate operations of livestock marts or to prevent the establishment of new marts in areas not already catered for. The purposes are to exercise a reasonable degree of control over the establishment of new livestock marts....

On that point this Bill is more than welcome. Opposition Deputies may not be aware that marts were started down through the years in parishes and half-parishes all over the country and have gone bankrupt, with people not being paid for cattle. It is the farmers who are hit in this respect and I welcome the Bill from that point of view.

Further in his speech, the Minister says:

It is my intention to allow any existing mart which may not yet be meeting any of these requirements a reasonable period in which to do so.

This is more than welcome. It is a point that was raised at a meeting of the Livestock Marts Association on Monday night. I think it clarifies that point. I also welcome the statement by the Minister that all existing marts will be licensed.

The main objection of Associated Marts concerns the right of appeal. This afternoon, Deputy Dillon elaborated somewhat on the Bill. He went so far as to say that the Minister refused to meet the people affected by this Bill. I have never yet heard it said in the press or otherwise that the Minister has refused in any way to meet the Associated Marts of Ireland or any other group of people interested in this Bill. I am quite sure he will meet them.

If this Bill is welcome for nothing else, it is welcome for the reason that we shall not have marts cropping up all over the country, as I have good reason to be aware of: I can mention five or six in my constituency. They started in little villages. The owners went bankrupt and are still there and men had to go without their money. Furthermore, bigger ones went bankrupt in the past year and people had to go without their money. If for no other reason, the Bill is welcome for that.

There is nothing in this Bill to deal with that.

I also read in the Minister's statement that no fee will be required towards the granting of a licence. Certainly, it is no harm that one should be granted the licence free.

To listen to some Members of the Opposition, one might be inclined to think that this Bill was not sought before now. In my recollection, the licensing of marts had been asked for over a number of years, for more reasons than one but the main reason, I think, is that they will be under somebody's control and that marts will not crop up all over the country.

I welcome the Bill from the point of view, especially, of the marts in Wexford. I can speak quite freely on this. Some time ago, the marts in Wexford were circularised by a certain association. I am associated with a mart in Wexford. The circular told us that as and from a certain date we were not free to sell anybody else's cattle except the cattle of the members of that association.

What association?

The Deputy can gather that for himself.

What association?

The NFA. I shall show the circular to anybody who wishes to see it.

Is this for the purpose of the Bill?

It is not. I have not the circular here and I have not given its date. Let them be farmers, big or small, who do not wish to be associated with a certain organisation, if they cannot in this day and age sell cattle where and at whatever time they like, then I think we are getting to a stage in this country where we might as well close up and clear out. It was never clarified whether or not it was NFA policy all over Ireland, but the letter was circularised to the four principal marts in Wexford. This is definite because I am associated with one of them myself. With those few words, I once again welcome this Bill and I shall have something further to add on the next Stage.

I find it difficult to understand how any rural Deputy could support this Bill. I listened to my colleague, a neighbour, Deputy Meaney, who stated that he is associated with the local mart and that he welcomes this Bill. I find it very difficult to understand how he could make such a statement.

I am associated with a mart which we pioneered through tough times. It had a lot of growing pains, like other developments. Eventually, however, the old customs died—they die hard in places—and the mart became a popular place to do business, not for any one section but for everybody in the locality and outside it.

It is a coincidence that I was at the annual general meeting only last Friday night at which hundreds of shareholders were present and this Bill was discussed. Many voices were heard and there was unanimous disapproval of the provisions of this Bill. Both myself and another colleague who is a member of this House were instructed in no uncertain terms to oppose the Bill. I am quite sure that if Deputy Meaney had consulted his constituents as regards the local mart, he would have got the very same instructions. Surely he has not lost confidence altogether in the ability of the people of his locality to do their own business? That was the theme of his speech, that they were not able to do their own business and should have the Minister's blessing. When those marts were being established, they had neither the advice nor the help of any Department and purely on their own, they found the finances to erect and establish those marts more successfully than was ever expected. There are six marts altogether in my constituency and the people running them have all expressed the same opinion, that the Minister now wants to come in because they have been so successful and to arrogate to himself the power to open them or close them. That is what this Bill amounts to.

The Minister said it had been suggested that this Bill was being brought in because there was a farmers' dispute and a commodity strike and that the marts did not do any business. I can tell the Minister that the mart with which I am concerned, without ever being approached officially or unofficially, had full sympathy with the commodity strike and unanimously decided to close in sympathy. I should like to tell the Minister that all the members of that mart are not Fine Gael supporters. There are as many supporters of the Government among them as there are supporters of the Opposition.

The Minister said that there is very little in this, that he wants to organise the marts on a proper basis. It is extraordinary that at this late stage he should find it necessary to do this. It is extraordinary that he never discussed this Bill with anybody concerned. The livestock marts have a very active association and it would have been possible to obtain their views and advice in regard to the Bill. Of course the Minister ignored them and that was not a great surprise because he has ignored them often before, and, I presume, will continue to do so. I can tell him that this Bill is very unwelcome in the south. As I have already stated, I am not expressing the Fine Gael view but the general view of my constituents. They consider that it is a direct insult to them and that it interferes with their rights in regard to running their own business. They have provided a very successful service, which no doubt they will continue to provide if there is no interference from the Minister. It cost a great amount of money to establish the marts and the farmers, without looking for help from anybody, faced up to their responsibility and cleared their debt.

Now the position is that because the Minister was riled by the attitude of the farmers, he wants to put his heavy hand on the marts and control them. In the south, irrespective of politics, there is a decided objection to this Bill. It has been rightly stated that it is interfering with the right of citizens to conduct their own business and it gives extensive power to the Minister without any appeal to the courts. This, to my mind, is extraordinary. The Minister is going to be judge and jury, which of course is not going to lend itself to fair play. The Minister would be better employed trying to find a market for our surplus livestock, especially in view of the information published recently by the Agricultural Institute that we are likely to have a surplus of 150,000 head of cattle——

That does not arise on the Livestock Marts Bill.

It is very relevant.

I fail to see its relevance to a Bill which deals with the sale of cattle in marts.

The only place in which you can sell cattle is a mart.

Anyway, they are of the opinion that the Minister would be better employed doing something more useful rather than pushing something which is not going to confer any benefits but which will only make things difficult and awkward for the farmers. I hope the Minister will take notice of this and that he will have another look at the Bill before he tries to push it through in its present form. It is not going to be helpful either to the economy or to the farmer. If he wants to pursue this present attitude and create further dissension between himself and the agricultural community, he is going the right way about it. Undoubtedly it will disimprove relationships between himself and the people concerned. The farmers are very jealous of their rights, properly so, and they are quite well able to look after their own business and they should be let do so.

It is clear that to introduce a Bill of this kind at this time is indicative of a very reprehensible state of mind in Government circles. There can be no pretence about it: this Bill was born out of pique and anger. It was conceived in that kind of distasteful atmosphere and is produced here now as a petty act of reprisal. It is a very sad day for Irish democracy when a Minister, a member of the Government, comes into this House with a legislative proposal of this kind affecting one of the major industries in our State, and has to admit— because he will have to admit—that he had no consultations whatever with those concerned with this industry.

Deputy Allen said he attended a meeting of Associated Livestock Marts yesterday. He must have been asleep at the meeting because it seems quite clear from the statement published in today's papers that Associated Livestock Marts complained that they had not been consulted. They condemned in very vigorous language the proposals in this Bill and they regarded the Bill as a violent interference with their rights. They indicated that they propose to test the constitutionality of any measure of this kind which passes through this House. Deputy Allen construes that as approval for the measure. This seems to be indicative of the state of mind in Fianna Fáil.

I want to suggest this. I will not speak at any length. I believe this Bill is clearly unconstitutional and I believe it will be held to be so. We have in this country certain rights safeguarded by the Constitution. We have the right to engage in trade and business. We have the right to deal one with another.

We have the right to sell, subject to provisions with regard to public health and matters of that kind, the goods we produce. I cannot see any basis upon which gross interference with private enterprise can be justified along the lines here proposed.

I am sorry Deputy Meaney or Deputy Allen is not here. This Bill is to license the marts. The next piece of legislation we will have is legislation to license a man to own and deal in cattle. That will be the next step. If we find a bureaucratic Minister who is controlled by his Department, or who is full of spite and vengeance, and who seeks to control the marts because they provide the means whereby cattle are sold by one man and bought by another, and if he seeks this power and gets it, the next thing he will do is to say: "I will say now who may buy cattle, who may own cattle, and who may deal in cattle."

I have said that in my view this is a petty piece of reprisal. There is no basis for it. There is no reason why it should be introduced at this time except to give the appearance of beating down the people who dare to express opposition to the Minister's views. Perhaps the Minister is still smarting over what happened in County Donegal. Perhaps the Minister is still smarting from his own experience when some short while ago he declared that there was no NFA in Donegal, and he proceeded to announce or have announced that a fair would be held the following day.

On a point of order, I did not announce anything. Deputy O'Higgins displays the same ignorance over this matter as he does over anything to do with agriculture.

I do not think that is a point of order; it is a point of disorder.

It is true. On a point of order, I did not announce——

Is this a point of order?

I have to hear the Minister before I know.

The Deputy has made an assertion that I made a certain statement which I say I did not make. Is that right or wrong?

Is that a point of order?

It is a point of order.

It is a point of explanation.

Is it a point of order?

Should the Deputy be allowed to say that I have stated something which I categorically say I did not state?

Is that a point of order?

The Minister is entitled to refute the Deputy's statement.

I am asking for a ruling. Was the Minister's intervention a point of order? I am entitled to a ruling.

I have said it was a point of explanation and the Minister was justified in making it.

I want a ruling on whether it was a point of order.

What difference does that make?

I am entitled to ask the Chair. The Chair is here to advise and I am seeking advice as to whether this disorderly interruption by the Minister was a point of order.

Whether an untrue statement by the Deputy was disorderly was the matter I raised.

Can I get a ruling from the Chair?

The Chair has already given the Deputy a ruling. So far as the Chair is concerned, it was a point of explanation.

I am sorry to have to say this to the Chair, and particularly to its present occupant, but the Chair is running away from its obligations.

The Chair has dealt with the Deputy's point.

That is a gross reflection on the Chair.

I want to assert that while the Minister did not make that statement, he contrived to have it made.

Why did the Deputy not say what he meant? Let us get away from legal quibbling.

The Minister arranged to have the Chief Superintendent make that statement on television. He put that unfortunate man in a pickle and made himself the laughing stock of the country. That is why this Bill was brought in.

The Deputy is talking through his hat and he knows it.

The Minister is talking through his hat and he knows it.

Both Deputies are talking through their hats.

The Minister might find some more forged letters——

I did, and the Deputy and his colleague in the Seanad know all about it, because they tried to see that nothing further was done about it.

The Minister is so low——

The Deputy knows this. I challenged Senator O'Quigley today on the same matter.

I must ask for some protection from the disorderly interruptions of that man.

The protection the Deputy has is that I will leave the House and those who wish to listen to him can do so.

It is perfectly clear in relation to the Minister's attitude that there is no point in stressing the obvious. Deputy Dillon has described this as a piece of spiteful and vindictive legislation introduced by a ruthless man. I do not know whether that is a fair description. Deputy Dillon is well known in this House for his kindliness at times. Certainly, so far as the people outside are concerned, no one understands the basis for this Bill. No one understands the reason for it. No one can see the necessity for it except a desire to ensure that power is given to the Minister to ride roughshod over any opposition to his views. If this Bill passes, I believe it will remain on our Statute Book for a very short time. It will be held not to be valid and it will certainly be repealed by the next Government of this country.

Apart altogether from the merits or demerits of any dispute that exists between the Minister and a section of our farming community, this Bill in its form and intent disturbs me in so far as I regard it as an intrusion upon the liberty of the subject, and an invasion of the constitutional rights of the subject to deal with his property in any way he wishes, provided that the concept of social justice is not violated.

This is a curious type of a Bill. It has 12 sections. Section 1 is definitive. Sections 2 to 9 inclusive are punitive and prohibitive. Section 10 deals with regulations and Section 11 deals with expenses incurred. Section 12 is the Title. Apart from the technicalities in section 1 and in sections 10, 11 and 12, this Bill is fraught with punitive and prohibitive provisions. Deputy Dillon asked at the end of his speech what was the purpose of bringing in this Bill at the present time. That is a very vital question and it is also vital that it be answered clearly and unequivocally.

The Minister dealt with the necessity for greater efficiency and said that that efficiency required thatbona fide dealers would not be deprived of availability to a mart. I do not think that follows at all. It might well make for greater efficiency if people had the right to be to some extent restrictive in their dealings with the general community. The Minister talks of hygiene and veterinary standards. Has the Minister had up to date any reports from his inspectors to show that any mart or marts have violated the ordinary standards of hygiene or have departed from veterinary standards and, if so, how? These marts have been in operation for a relatively long time. Up to now we have had no example, one way or the other, of any concern for hygiene or for the upkeep of veterinary standards. Why was this? Because the marts are well run, because the marts are hygienic, because the marts conduct their business up to veterinary standards. That, then, leaves the Minister with no reason at all on those grounds for bringing in this piece of legislation at this particular time.

This Bill in its punitive and prohibitive provisions to which I have already referred proposes to give the Minister the power to act as prosecutor, judge and jury. God knows, in relation to a similar provision in a recent planning Act, there have been, and still are, extant so many unsavoury rumours that one would have thought the draftsman would have prevailed on the Minister in this respect not to seek this power. Here is a Minister given full discretion to grant or refuse to grant a licence relating to the carrying on of the business of livestock mart; or, if he grants it, to impose such conditions as he shall think proper and shall specify in the licence. Having specified these conditions, he may then, if he thinks fit, amend or revoke a condition. Of course, a breach of a condition—which can be very easily brought about, particularly if you have an inspector accompanied by a civic guard—can create an offence.

Here is subsection (6) of section 3: Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, a person who carries on the business of a livestock mart at any place and who, immediately before the passing of this Act, carried on that business at that place, shall, if in relation to the place, the regulations under this Act are complied with, be entitled to be granted a licence in respect of the place.

So far, of course, we have no regulations. How easy it would be to frame regulations that might well put certain marts out of existence or put them to the expense of bringing themselves within the regulations. That, of course, is not outside the bounds of possibility.

Subsection (1) of section 4 is the really objectionable one. It states:

The Minister may, if he so thinks fit, grant exemption from the provisions of this Act in respect of the carrying on of the business of a livestock mart at any place.

In other words, if there is a mart that does not comply with the regulations or is not up to the standards, either hygienic or veterinary standards, and if the people running it find favour with the present Minister, he can exempt them altogether and thus make room for the unhygienic and for the lack of veterinary standards.

They must not be all in yet.

You let them out of jail for the local elections.

There is plenty of power here for more jail.

They will jail them now—£1,000 or six months in jail.

Section 6 deals with "Regulations in relation to livestock marts". That is the title on the margin. It sets out various ways in which, without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) of the section, regulations under the section may be made. Here is an interesting one. The first three paragraphs deal with auctions and the means of carrying them out, but under paragraph (d) the Minister may:

prescribe requirements as to the size, design, maintenance, repair, cleansing, cleanliness, ventilation, heating and lighting of any building in which such auctions are held,

I can well see such a regulation being used to put a mart or marts out of business. The Minister knows well already—if he does not, he should— the size, design, maintenance, repair, cleansing, cleanliness, ventilation, heating and lighting of all these buildings. He can make regulations that can put them outside it. It may well be that this is designed for that purpose.

Under paragraph (e) the Minister may:

prescribe requirements as to the accommodation (including washing facilities and sanitary conveniences) provided at such places,

Again, he knows what is there already, and a regulation may either close a mart or put the owners to expense. Under paragraph (h) he may prescribe hygienic and veterinary requirements and standards for such places and such auctions. Surely to goodness, these places are long enough in existence so that the Minister and the Department through their veterinary officers must be aware of the hygienic and veterinary standards already? Again, it makes this particular provision suspect.

Deputy Dillon has already dealt with the powers. There is an anomalous one contained in subparagraph (b) of subsection (1) of section 7, which gives an officer of the Minister power:

to take with him a member of the Garda Síochána if he has reasonable cause to apprehend any serious obstruction in the execution of his duty;

The only redeeming feature about that interpretation, as it is now written, is that it provides that the inspector can take with him one guard only. I wonder if the Minister and his advisers intend that to be the case or do they intend to send the old four fields of inspectors or, I believe, it was ten fields of inspectors. If they sent a guard with everyone of these, they would have plenty of guards. The Army is not provided for in this Bill as yet, except in subparagraph (f) which gives the Minister power to exercise such other powers as may be necessary in carrying this act into effect. What are those powers? It must be contemplated that such other powers are necessary. We would like to know, the mart owners would like to know and the people would like to know what are the powers contemplated in subparagraph (f). Do they include powers of arrest on the spot, the carrying of people to a peace commissioner and having them remanded in custody? Does this mean all that? If it does not, the Minister should come in here and tell us that this a gentle Bill, a Bill intended not to harm anybody.

I want to say this about this Bill and about Bills generally here, that the time has come when we must make a distinction between necessary social legislation and legislation of a punitive, prohibitive and vindictive nature as this Bill is. If we are to have legislation of this kind based on political expediency, this is nothing more or less than a legislative attack upon certain sections of the farming community of this country. It is a Bill designed to punish, a Bill of reprisal, which will come to be regarded as the culminating point of prohibitive legislation in this national Parliament.

I want to say a few words on this Bill and to add my voice to the other voices raised in protest against a Bill of this kind being introduced here by the Minister for Agriculture. This Bill is not legislation; it is a demand made on Deputies to abdicate their functions as lawmakers in this country and to hand over absolute authority and uncontrolled power to the particular Minister who is the political head of the Department of Agriculture. We are being asked to hand over that power at a time when there is something like open warfare between the Minister and the Minister's Party on the one hand and a very important section of the farming community on the other.

In those circumstances, the Minister comes to the House with a Bill of this description, a Bill which is worse than the ordinary type of legislation by regulation to which Deputies have by now become accustomed. I myself and some among the Fianna Fáil Deputies have time and time again raised our voices in protest against legislation by regulation because that type of legislation takes away from this House the powers and functions which it should be performing. This Bill is worse than that type of legislation and goes a lot further. It is a Bill in which Deputies are being asked to place in the Minister virtually uncontrolled power and authority in relation to livestock marts. We are being asked to do that in blinkers. Deputy Lindsay has pointed out that in relation to certain matters contained in this Bill, it should be possible for the Minister, or the Parliamentary Secretary, or some Deputy on the Fianna Fáil benches, to say what regulations are proposed, the type of regulation proposed with regard to the size of marts, with regard to hygiene and other matters of that kind.

This Bill, right through it, is based and propped up on the idea of legislation by regulation. Every Deputy who has spoken in opposition to it has objected to the provision whereby the Minister is given absolute and practically uncontrolled discretion with regard to the giving of licences for new marts. There is some kind of protection, and it is only protection of a kind for the existing marts in section 3 of the Bill where it is provided that they will be granted a licence, provided they comply with certain regulations. We do not know what the regulations proposed are but if they do comply with the regulations, they will be entitled to get a licence.

So far as new marts are concerned, there is to be only one individual who has any say as to whether a licence will issue or not. Even if an individual gets a licence for a new mart, there is nothing final about it because the Minister may change his mind the next day and take away the licence he has already given from the proprietor of a new mart.

I am prepared to examine and consider this Bill in a completely impartial manner and to erase from my mind any political bias I may have or any suspicion that the Bill could be used as a political weapon. I am prepared to approach this matter on the basis of complete impartiality, acquitting the Minister and the Government of any desire to use the Bill in a political way. Approaching it from that way, I still say it is a very bad Bill, containing proposals that should not be allowed to pass in any democratic parliament.

Under this Bill one individual will have complete power in regard to the granting of licences and he can demand whatever conditions he likes. If he lays down certain conditions, no matter how fantastic or ludicrous they may be and if any of those conditions are broken then an offence is committed under the terms of the Bill. The person who commits such an offence can be tried on indictment and if the defendant is convicted, he can be faced with a fine of £1,000 plus six months in jail.

Then we have the extraordinary proposal in section 4 that if the Bill becomes law, the same individual, and he alone, will have the right to suspend the operation of the Bill in relation to one or more marts, as he pleases. The case has been made for that by the Minister in his introductory speech when he referred to section 4 in these terms:

Under section 4 provision is made for exempting occasional sales. This is intended to cover special kinds of sales, such as those carried out at Royal Dublin Society Shows, which are not of the normal commercial pattern affecting stockowners generally.

Supposing this was a good Bill in every other respect and contained section 4, section 4 would be enough to make it a bad Bill.

If the Minister wants the, again, uncontrolled power which is contained in section 4 for special purposes, then, to my mind, the proper way to approach this Bill would be to write those purposes into the Bill, to spell them out so that there could not be any doubt in anybody's mind or so that in some future year a different Minister might not take a different view as to how that section should be operated and impose his will once he has the power to do so.

Like other speakers, I should like to repeat and to reiterate this: if this Bill passes through this House, I do not think it is going to have a very long life because the spokesman for this Party in relation to this subject has given a categorical assurance, I understand, and if he has not, I give it now, that at the first opportunity after the next general election when Fianna Fáil find themselves in Opposition, we will take steps to repeal this Bill, should it ever be passed.

A Deputy

What a hope.

It is the best hope that the people of this country can entertain.

And it has been offered to them since 1932.

(Cavan): Injecting money into the West by cutting the road grants by thousands of pounds.

I have spoken of some of the objections I have to this Bill. There are others. Again, these were referred to by other speakers. These drastic, untrammelled, unrestricted controls are to be given to the Minister if this Bill passes and there is to be no appeal to anyone. There is to be no appeal to the courts from the Minister's decision. I think all of us know that we in this House very recently passed an Auctioneers Bill. What is to become of that Act? Will the Minister or his Parliamentary Secretary or anyone else explain whether or not it is contemplated that this Bill will be operated by auctioneers who have got their certificate of qualifications through the courts and who are licensed auctioneers already? If it is to be operated by them, then, surely, the position is that this House has already placed the safeguards it regards as necessary on the conduct of the business of the auctioneers? If it is not to be operated by the licensed qualified auctioneers who have obtained their certificate of qualification through the courts, then is the position that we are already in a matter of a few weeks throwing overboard the Auctioneers Bill that was passed by this House?

I think this is a bad Bill. Bad and all as it is, I think it has been made worse by the Government's timing of it, introducing it at this particular juncture in the unhappy story of Irish agriculture and the unhappy state of affairs that exists between the farming community, on the one hand, and the Fianna Fáil Government on the other. The Government are inviting trouble by introducing a Bill of this sort at this time and to my mind, they are likely to get that trouble.

I do not think I would be doing my duty to the people who sent me here if I did not add my protest to the other protests which have been made against the introduction of this Bill and the motion for a Second Reading. The Bill is regarded down the country by the farmers as a revenge because the National Farmers Association did not join the NAC. The Minister is taking another slap at them. In doing so he is taking a slap at the big majority of the farmers, at least of those in my county, who are all members, and proud to be members, of the NFA.

The cattle marts as they are today— and I can speak for the one in Kilkenny—are monuments to the efficiency of the farmers' organisation which built them without any call on the Government for funds, subsidies, grants or loans. They were built entirely from the people's own money. Farmers, large and small, contributed their share. The result is these modern marts. The small farmer who, perhaps, is not a good judge of the weight of an animal or the price he may expect can see displayed in the marts weights and prices which give him a good idea of what he should get or what he should pay.

Instead of bringing in a Bill of this kind, I would have thought the Minister would bring in a Bill giving grants or loans to the organisers of marts in order to bring them, where necessary, more into line with modern requirements. The mart in Kilkenny does not require any further modernisation. It is a perfect mart. Would it not have been more important, if the Minister had considered setting up the meat marketing board he has been asked for over the past number of years? The farmers have done a great deal in organising proper sale of cattle in these marts. Would it not have been of great help if the Minister had brought in a Bill setting up a meat marketing board?

When the Minister introduced a Bill dealing with representation on county committees of agriculture, amending the Bill under which 50 per cent of the members of county committees of agriculture had to be persons other than county councillors one of the main props in his argument at that time was that this was a recommendation from the General Council of County Councils and from the Council of the Committees of Agriculture. He said that he was only carrying out their wishes. In regard to this Bill now before the House, has the Minister asked for the recommendations of the NAC, even as it is set up? Did he bring this Bill before them or ask for their opinion as to whether he should introduce it? He has not stated in his introductory speech that he did so and I take it for granted that he did not do it. I am sure that they, like every other farmer and supporter of these marts, would not wish this Bill to be brought in.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Deputy Gibbons, spoke about intimidation. I suggest that that is very farfetched. He spoke about a man having brought his cattle in and somebody saying that those cattle were black and that he was not bid £15. That is all "my eye".

The Deputy does not believe it?

It may have been that the farmers saw Deputy Gibbons with the rate collector who was selling the cattle, and that may have had an effect on the sale of the cattle.

The Deputy does not know very much about the thing at all.

That was an exceptional case, and I do not believe there was any organised intimidation. I doubt if there was an organisation there to stop this man from selling his cattle.

That is the only case I heard of in Kilkenny, right enough.

Deputy Gibbons mentioned he was a member of the committee of the Kilkenny Mart and they set up this private company, Irish Livestock Marts Limited. Although he was on the management committee, he was not informed of their ideas. I am surprised that a man of his capacity would not make more detailed inquiries to find out what was behind the Irish Livestock Marts and its setting up. He says that eventually they lost £130,000 which had to be borne by the small farmers. Such idiotic talk on a Bill like this! 5397 Does Deputy Gibbons not know well there was a boycott of the cattle marts by the cattle dealers at that time and that it was in order to create a market for the farmers' cattle that Irish Livestock Marts was set up? Does he not know that it created a market for the farmers' cattle in the marts when these cattle dealers refused to go into the marts? What finished the boycott of the marts was the refusal of the farmers of County Kilkenny to sell cattle on the land to the dealers. If £130,000 were lost by that company, it is the best money that ever was spent. The farmers got enhanced prices and got full value for their stock which they would not have got if they had not broken that ring.

It is amazing if the Parliamentary Secretary had to wait until now to see that. No matter how he may smile, that is a fact, and every farmer in Kilkenny knows it is a fact. The small shareholder for whom the Parliamentary Secretary was so sympathetic got the full benefit of these enhanced prices and that was spread over the commission which was got, and no farmer had to contribute one penny towards it.

This Bill should never have been introduced because, as has been said already, it gives the Minister powers from which there is no appeal to any court. If the Minister were bringing it in to improve the marts, he could have brought it before the NAC and got their approval for it, but he did not do that. I should like to protest against this legislation, as many farmers from my county are protesting. I would say there are many farmers in the Fianna Fáil Party, who, if they were allowed to speak, would also protest.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

In the course of this debate Fine Gael have again displayed their ineptitude and total lack of consideration for agriculture and have made a political bicycle and an arena out of this Assembly. It is not the first time and I presume it will not be the last time that, for political expediency, they will take on any measure with which they think they can whip the national interest or this Party. In all the references that have been made during the debate, the contributions from the Fine Gael people have referred to this measure as a repressive one, as a Bill of coercion, as a vendetta—call it what you will; they have names for it. They forget one very important thing, that this licensing of marts was asked for by the NFA in the first instance——

It certainly was.

Not in the way Fianna Fáil are giving it to them.

——that the outlet and the distribution area for one of the prime and most important facets in agriculture should be regulated accordingly. It is amazing that this is the only exclusion they have to a Minister having licensing authority and power, the reason being that they wish to add fuel to the fire and have no wish whatever to see any settlement between the Government and the NFA, if the truth were known. They also quietly and very astutely completely ignore the fact that our officials in the EEC and the Kennedy Round talks are looking to the EEC to allow cattle from this country into the EEC.

You would need to get them somewhere.

They completely forget what the EEC requirements are. A draft directives governing trade in livestock and meat with their countries has been drawn up by the EEC and it is likely to come into operation fairly soon. The Department have already furnished comments to the EEC on the draft. One provision requires that marts from which animals may be exported to the EEC countries shall be under the control of an official veterinary surgeon and shall have been officially approved by the authorities of the exporting countries. These are things the Opposition do not want to hear about. They would far prefer to make a political bicycle of every national issue. This is the policy they have followed for over thirty years.

(Interruptions.)

It has been very hard to sit here and listen to the Members of the Front Bench opposite in their eagerness to embroil another organisation in litigation to their benefit, and it was a sorry state here tonight to find one lawyer after another making a bold bid for a brief that is not there but which they hope will be there, and if all that they can do succeeds it will be because they are offering their services and advice, but if it goes to court—and it will not be their fault if it does not—they will be well paid for their advice on those occasions. This is typical of Fine Gael and I am not in the least surprised by it.

There are as many lawyers in the Parliamentary Secretary's Front Bench.

And you hear none of them touting for business in this House.

(Cavan): They touted for it long enough.

You have glossed over all the realities of this Bill, knowing full well that it is a measure designed to bring a degree of rationalisation into the marketing of cattle and livestock generally. In my own county no later than a couple of months ago, in the town of Thurles, although a cattle mart had been established there, we learned there was a likelihood of another mart being set up. Do Fine Gael wish to have this proliferation of marts all over the country? I am not too young to remember that the old fair day was a monthly affair. Now we have these marts every week and sometimes two in the week and practically every town that had a fair now has a mart.

What concern of the Government is that?

We want some rationalisation of livestock marketing. The people opposite speak of the 150,000 cattle that will be there at the end of this year. From my own point of view, I hope that will not be the case but the people in Opposition have tried to generate the type of panic in which people will sell in depressed times and get into a panic mood and find imaginary cattle are there. Similarly the Opposition did not help in the fall of last year in trying to preserve rational marketing of cattle. They did everything they could to hinder and frustrate marketing.

Do not blame us for the 1965 Trade Agreement.

The 1965 Trade Agreement has stood the test of time.

(Interruptions.)

Deputies opposite do not take cognisance of the fact that levies on exports to EEC countries were raised last year and that is why we had a surplus of cattle at the end of the year. If those levies had not come into being, the Opposition would be down on their knees—and so would every other Deputy—paying tribute to the 1965 Trade Agreement. They do not take into account the fact that the dairying industry benefited by the 1965 Agreement—our butter quota to Britain was raised.

Prices down.

Calves down by £20.

(Interruptions.)

This is more evidence of lack of consideration of the Fine Gael Party for the farmers of this country. Deputy Dillon is a Deputy for whom I have the greatest personal respect. He said he was the man who made the farmers of this country walk tall. If Deputy Dillon was referring to 1948, he was 16 years too late because we in 1932 gave the farmers their first uplift.

(Interruptions.)

And the farmers have kept us there since. Fine Gael have a few big farmers here and there. They are welcome to some of them.

You will have none of them soon. They will be all gone.

Despite the best efforts of the Deputy's Party to the malign this Bill, the farming community have more intelligence than that Party give them credit for. They see the merits of this Bill and realise that it is necessary. They know that if the EEC conditions come into operation and that if we are to gain advantage by entry to EEC in the long term and by entry for our cattle in the short term, we must be prepared and geared for that market.

You will have nobody there to gear.

If we wanted to be politically dishonest, we could put back this Bill but I quote Deputy Barry, a Fine Gael Deputy and an auctioneer, a farmers' representative. I am not sure if he is a farmer but he is certainly familiar with farmers' problems and he has been in this House for quite a long time. Speaking on the resumed Agricultural Estimate on 14 June, 1967, at column 497 of the Official Report he said:

I say that, just before I came into the House, I read the Bill circulated this morning under which the Minister now proposes to license livestock marts. I strongly appeal to him that, until such time as the dispute with the NFA is over, the Bill be withdrawn.

The Deputy should cease interrupting.

We could have postponed the Bill but the urgency of the situation is that if we are to gain advantage by the EEC Agreement, we must be prepared to grasp it with both hands. The Opposition are prepared to use this Bill, as they have been doing for the past five or six hours, as a political weapon. That is what they have been doing and are doing while trying to muster their forces to make a decent showing in the House.

I do not want to keep the House any longer but I thought it pertinent that the realities of the situation should at least be highlighted for the Opposition rather than have them making bold bids for briefs that do not exist.

If ever a case was exposed by anyone, the foolish speech to which we have just listened certainly exposed the absence of Government policy. I was rather sorry for the castigations which the Parliamentary Secretary hurled at you, Sir, with his significant lack of control, lack of understanding, lack of knowledge and substitution of shouting for any coherent thought.

This Bill was conceived in malice, in hate and in a spirit of revenge and vindictiveness which does no credit to an Irish Minister or an Irish Government. It was conceived and rushed in here at a time when every Minister is deliberately deciding that it is better in the circumstances at the end of this session not to have legislation thrust upon the House. It is brought in when there is not the least urgency about it, except for one thing, to make sure that the Minister for Agriculture has another big stick. It is a Bill that is badly thought out, lacking in any of the ordinary safeguards there should be in any democratic country.

We are dealing with organisations that have arisen comparatively recently. To that extent I agree with the Minister. Marts are things of comparatively recent origin, and because of that, they are being erected and built in a modern fashion. They are being carried on in premises of recent construction which incorporate the most modern ideas in relation to building. They incorporate the facilities that are required for this type of business and they maintain standards of hygiene not thought of 30 years ago. All the more reason, therefore, why an industry of that sort which has brought itself to that pitch without one pennypiece of help from the Exchequer, without one pennypiece by way of grant, or loan, or subsidy from the Government in any shape or form, should have been consulted, and might have been consulted through the National Agricultural Council by representatives on that Council having a word with those who are running the marts, as apart from their own experience; but one would have had there, of course, the fantastic position of Pooh-Bah talking to Pooh and Pooh talking to Pooh-Bah, with the Minister for Agriculture trying to pretend, at one moment, that he was the Minister introducing this Bill and, at the next, that he was the independent Chairman of the Council.

One of the reasons why this Bill is being rushed is that the Minister does not want to take it to the National Agricultural Council, attenuated and abbreviated as it is, for any opinion on it. This Bill deals with a turnover of something between £80 and £90 million a year, a turnover which is being operated by managements up and down the country, all competent and efficient people. The international regulations which are used as an excuse by the Minister—I think it was the only piece of coherency we heard from his Parliamentary Secretary— have nothing to do with the sale as apart from the transference into one of the meat factories. There may, of course, be regulations at the point of export and at the point of intake into the factories. But that is an entirely different thing. The Minister's predecessor, who introduced the Diseases of Animals Bill, made it quite clear to this House—remember, he was a Fianna Fáil Minister—that the Diseases of Animals Bill contained all the powers necessary in all circumstances to deal with any case of animal disease, or the protection of animals from disease, as required by the standards of the European Economic Community and the United States of America, to which we ship our meat.

With regard to standards of hygiene, we all know, and the members of the Fianna Fáil Party must know, that the Sanitary Services Act gives adequate power to deal with any question of personal human hygience that arises in a matter like this. There is no other reason for the introducation of this measure than to ensure that the grasping hand of the Fianna Fáil Government can interfere in everything, and without coming to the Dáil for permission for that interference. This Bill pretends to provide certain safeguards. It pretends to say that every existing mart can get a licence. As the Minister said, he will give the existing marts a period of time within which to comply with the regulations; but this Bill, as drafted, means that the Minister can attach what conditions he likes in respect of the licence for every existing mart. He can, as he wishes, and at his discretion, prescribe impossible conditions for any mart he does not like. Remember, those conditions need never be laid before this House as general regulations have to be laid. Does anyone suggest that is a proper safeguard? Does anyone suggest that those who have invested very substantial sums, be they small farmers coming together in a co-operative society, or otherwise, in the erection and running of these marts, are adequately protected under this proposed legislation? Does anyone think that the record of this Fianna Fáil Minister has been such in the past six months that they will be able to get from him a fair and free deal, as he himself endeavours to suggest?

These marts have always co-operated with the Department of Agriculture in relation to the implementation of any schemes brought out by the Department for the betterment of the livestock industry. Had the Minister come in here and said that he was not able to get marts adequately to implement the schemes which he and his Department put forward for the improvement of the livestock industry, then he might have had a case. But he has failed to produce even one instance of that. He has failed because there is not one. He has failed because the people engaged in this, be they members of the management committees of co-operative societies, representatives of farmers of all sorts and conditions, have shown themselves clearly and universally anxious to co-operate and to help. The response they get for this co-operation and help is a tornado of abuse from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, though I was sorry for the poor little man because he was caught with the Minister out of the House and he had to get up and say something, without really having anything to say, and so he attacked the Leas-Cheann Comhairle vigorously and viciously the whole time. The Bill is typical of the arrogant and dictatorial approach of the Fianna Fáil Government, typical of the bullying tactics that have bedevilled those engaged in agriculture today and may, if other members of the Government have their way, bedevil other workers in the immediate future.

I want to suggest—I am sorry the Taoiseach is not here to hear it—to the Leader of the Government—he will read this debate when he returns—that, in that approach, there is neither honour nor honesty. For that reason we will oppose this Bill on this Second Stage, on Committee Stage, on Report Stage and on every opportunity we have. We will oppose it to prevent the Minister being able to wield a stick, at his will and whim, over the farmers of Ireland and we will take care to ensure that in the country as a whole this Bill is exposed for what it is—a make-believe, a sham on the surface, but underneath something through the medium of which the Minister is attempting to become a complete and absolute dictator in the interests of himself and the Government.

I have seldom listened— fortunately my listening was not of long duration—to a more hysterical outburst from so many speakers in such a short time as that displayed by Fine Gael here this evening. Deputy Dillon, Deputy Clinton, Deputy T.F. O'Higgins and others talked about anything except the Bill, the reasons for it or the reasons against it. A really concerted effort was made to drive home that which Fine Gael have been endeavouring to do for some time, that is, to attack and blacken the Minister for Agriculture in the hope that they will thereby gain in some way some political kudos from this childish exercise. So far as they referred to the Bill, they talked about it as anti-NFA, a vengeful Bill, thought out in vengeance, with no regard for anything other than revenge, and said that this is typical of the present Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, during the past six months—some of them so qualified it —and during my entire career as a Minister in any part of the Government.

I want to say here, if it is necessary to be said, and to go on record as against that which has hysterically been screamed against us here tonight, that I am not aware in my career as Minister in any Department that I have at any time carried out any act that was not dictated by the best interests of the country and the community at the time. Personal vendetta or vengeance or otherwise has never entered into my considerations on any matter relative to government in this or any other Department.

So far as this Bill is concerned, about which we have heard those moaners and groaners about the rights of farmers, there will be enshrined in the measure a method whereby the present occupant of the post of Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries or any future Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries will be the better able to secure the rights of the farmers and not just any few of the farmers for whom Fine Gael seem to be talking here tonight. They talk about the investment certain people have made in these marts and say we are going to take this away from them. They say we will deal with them on a personal basis and that, in the case of anybody we do not like, there will be conditions such that they cannot carry them out. This is so far from the truth in practice that it is ludicrous. As such an allegation has been made and recorded in this House and possibly, as a result of having been made in this House, published elsewhere, some people may be led to believe there is some element of truth in all that has been said by these ranting hysterical Fine Gael Deputies.

We want this Bill. This type of Bill will do a service for the community and for the farmers who sell cattle—and these are the people I am concerned about. At the same time, I am concerned to ensure that, by whatever regulations or legislation may be enacted by me, those who operate marts now and in the future will have a fair return for their money invested if they run their business properly and at the same time that they will not be exposed to the risk and danger that already exists and indeed has already taken some of them to their knees of over-competition in areas that cannot bear such a number of marts as has already sprung up. Above all, in the case of those people who carry on marts and handle very large sums of money, which really belong to the people who trade there, we want to secure that those farmers will have some insurance, some method of ensuring that when their cattle go through a mart then, when the next mart is due, this outfit, private or otherwise, will not disappear, as a number have, with the loss of thousands of pounds to the farmers. Some have disappeared already. Even in recent weeks, one has disappeared. In the past year, a couple of others disappeared. My information is that there are a few others in a very unhealthy financial position at the moment.

Are we to protect the people from this sort of trading? Are we to ensure that the farmers who put cattle through will ultimately be paid? Are we to ensure that in any circumstances a farmer who wishes to sell his cattle does not have to show a card of membership of any particular organisation whether a vocational organisation or a political organisation? Are we satisfied that this is what our farmers are entitled to? If our fairs are being displaced by these marts, where there has been a traditional right of sale open to all the public at all times without let or hindrance, are we to allow the lives of these people who had these benefits to be usurped by marts to the exclusion of those who do not like or belong to their organisation? Surely we must safeguard our farmers against that now and in the future?

Far from this Bill harming the farming community and the cattle-sellers and cattle-rearers and cattle breeders of this country, it is designed specifically to ensure that their rights will be protected and will in no way be infringed. It is designed to ensure that they are not put at the end of a queue on a sales day because they do not belong to a particular organisation when, in fact, the buyers have already gone away. It is designed to ensure that they will not have their cattle standing inside in pens and that buyers will whisper that this and that number will not be purchased. We have to safeguard ourselves from that and not from any dangers from the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, no matter who he may be now or in the future.

Fine Gael are asserting that this Bill is unnecessary and has been engendered by recent happenings, by recent troubles between the NFA and my Department. If this is something they want to take into consideration they are welcome to do so because these things that happened during the past six months at our marts clearly indicate the real dangers. It is not just any imagination on my part. The facts have emerged in those six months of what can happen if marts are absolutely in the control of any particular group no matter who they may be.

This Bill is designed to ensure that that will not happen. It will ensure that standards, facilities and methods of handling and selecting cattle at the marts, methods of providing all the various services necessary in the future and even necessary now, will be provided properly and uniformly throughout all our marts no matter where they may be. This, together with the safeguard of a fidelity or insurance bond, is absolutely necessary in the interests of our farmers and particularly the small men who cannot afford to lose, as they may well do and as some have lost, their one selling in the year, with the produce of that going down the drain if the mart folds up, as some have folded-up, after their cattle had been sold in the previous few days.

Is there anybody who will deny that these are dangers? Is there anybody who will deny that there must be control? Is there anybody who will deny that these things must be safeguarded against—and regardless of the time? Why should we, if we realise this should now be done, take note of Fine Gael's request that this is the wrong time because of certain trouble with the NFA? Is the Government to cease because there is trouble with any group in the country? Is it to stop functioning here because we have a row with some group outside? This is absolutely ridiculous. If we were to follow this to its logical conclusion we would close the Dáil as soon as there was any trouble with any group and not come back until the row was settled. This reasoning is so daft that only Fine Gael's front bench would be capable of suggesting it seriously and expecting people to believe it.

Let us have a look, then, at what these other people have said tonight. We get Deputy Dillon. Well, I will say about Deputy Dillon that I have not seen him really go off the top for so many years to the degree to which he did tonight. He used to do it quite frequently but he has not been doing it lately. However, he has been in one of those periods when he is not himself. Tonight, was one of them. One reason he gives such a performance, particularly when I am here, is because when I came into public life at a very young age, when he was quite an old campaigner, he harried me on every occasion possible and also after I came into this House. We had him for a year in my constituency and threw him out in the following year. There is also the fact that I was elected to this House. When he came to my county to talk, we could not stomach him; we never could and never will.

Deputy T.F. O'Higgins—the wouldbe President of a year ago—got up here this evening and started talking in a suave court-room manner but, at the same time, his only purpose was to try to blacken the Minister personally. He talked nothing about the Bill but the talked a lot about me. He talked about what he knew about certain things but he did not talk about the Bill and he made no case for or against it; but he did endeavour to blacken me as best he could, in keeping with the obviously concentrated effort by the Fine Gael Party at the moment and for some weeks past.

This is their only hope. They believe that they will knock the Minister, having failed to knock the Government up to now and having failed to get any kudos from the NFA dispute in which they have been meddling from the start in a manner which has continued the dispute up to now, and they are still meddling in it. There is no trying to go back on it: you have tried your best and you have tried your worst and you will not succeed in knocking this Government or in making political capital for your Party from the NFA dispute. There are many of your supporters in the NFA who do not see eye to eye with you because of the fact that you are dragging this dispute into your political harangues and which is only done for your immediate political advantage, which is not forthcoming.

Remember we are not blind to your tactics. We know the Deputies sitting across there who were hurrying and scurrying here and there making peace, mar eadh, with the NFA, and the only fear they ever had was that there would ever be peace and that we would make a settlement. This was the only fear during the past month and Deputy Clinton, Deputy Donegan and Deputy Sweetman know it, and a good few others who sit over there but who are absent at the moment. Those three know what I am talking about and in time it will come out when those who wish to tell it may tell it. I know, but I am not at liberty to tell it, but it will come out, and then Deputy Donegan, Deputy Sweetman and Deputy Clinton and others will have very red faces.

(Interruptions.)

We dealt with your Leader.

Take it from me, Deputy Donegan, that when my Leader speaks, he is speaking for me and when I speak, I speak for him, and that is more than can be said for you. Do not try that; it will not work. The Deputy knows that it will not work; he has tried it already. They have tried to drive a wedge, a public wedge, as it were, between the Taoiseach and others, the wild men in his Government. I am one of the so-called wild men.

You certainly are.

Let me repeat that when the Taoiseach speaks, he speaks for me and all of us and when I speak, I speak for the Taoiseach and for all of us.

Deputies

Hear, hear.

They have no Leader, no recognised Leader in that Party, and well they know it.

The Taoiseach dealt with us.

Well you know the divisions in your own Party. It is only a front you are putting on at the moment. When your Leader spoke on matters relating to the NFA a few weeks ago, he was not speaking for Deputy Flanagan. However, we are not concerned with that.

(Interruptions.)

We are concerned with this Bill and I want Deputies and the country to realise that this Bill is designed for the protection of farmers, for the betterment of their trading and business, and nothing that Fine Gael have said can take from that and they will live to eat their own words yet in relation to the criticisms they have been making tonight.

Why do you not give them a meat marketing board?

Do not mind the red herrings: that does not matter. Deputy L'Estrange will see in the not too distant future the proposals in relation to a meat promotional board. That is what is coming when the NAC have considered it fully. They will consider this Bill before the Committee Stage. They have already been told that they will consider this Bill at their next meeting and Deputies can be quite sure that when I do discuss it with the NAC, with responsible people wishing to do the best job and to advise me to the best advantage, I will take due note of anything they say. It will not be in hysterics that they will be giving advice but in an unbiased manner and they will advise what is best for the farming community whom they represent on that Council, as distinct from the Fine Gael Front Bench who do not represent the farming community and who never had the confidence of those people.

Did you dig out last year's potatoes on your farm?

(Interruptions.)

What about Deputy Crinion with his 1,000 acres of land?

Join the Fianna Fáil cumann to save it.

A Deputy

The Deputy sold his farm to a German.

I would not mind about the selling; anybody else would sell to do the same. I would like to say in regard to the NAC and this Bill that they will be considering it before the Committee Stage and in addition to that three bodies who have been in touch with me will also be consulted, if they wish to be consulted. I had hope that there would be joint consultation because they are the Associated Marts who I understand contain coverage for all marts, both private and co-operative. On the other hand, there are the IAOS——

Why did the Minister not consult them before he brought in the Bill?

——and the Cork Marts Co-operative which are affiliated to one or the other of these. I have written to these people to indicate that I feel the body best suited to talk for all would be the Associated Marts. I have informed the others of this and if this does not satisfy them, I will be available to meet them. This will be done before the next Stage and the Deputies making a big play about this can rest easy because Fianna Fáil do not do things behind closed doors, like Fine Gael.

We do not make a practice of that. When we are selected to come into this House, it is done in the open. We are not told from Dublin whom to put up.

(Interruptions.)

Likewise, in your local council. Our people are democratically selected and elected. We do not know how you people came to be selected and who wanted you. However, you are here and we have to bear with you.

What about the Convention in North Mayo the last time? Where did you get the third man?

Fourteen votes gave us the last man and if there had been a recount, the possibility is we would not have the third man. However, it was a narrow squeak and we got him by that squeak.

The margin is widening.

Deputy Clinton goes on record as indicating that there is no such thing as an element of intimidation in marts. Will Deputy Clinton please grow up?

It is so trivial——

What is wrong with Deputy Clinton is that he has lawyers and solicitors on either side of him and they keep telling him that there is no legal proof that there was intimidation and therefore it does not exist.

That was what the court said.

Do not mind your colleagues; they are wrong. I know the Deputy to be a sensible, straightforward man, but when these——

(Interruptions.)

That is the way to prove it. You said you were in Manorcunningham on Monday and you were not.

(Interruptions.)

I am ordering the Deputy to allow the proceedings to continue without interruption.

I want to say, for Deputy Harte's information, lest it might add to the misconception already published in a newspaper or two yesterday evening, that I was in Donegal on Monday night. I would possibly have made my way, some way or other, to Baltinglass, had I known that my very good friends were going to be there.

Were you hiding in Manorcunningham?

Do not try that. I have never hidden in Donegal or anywhere else.

(Interruptions.)

No amount of shouting by Deputy Harte will get across what he is trying to perpetrate.

I was in Manorcunningham on Monday night and I did not see the Minister.

Never mind that.

The Minister is welcome in Wicklow at any time.

I will be down there.

(Interruptions.)

My colleague from Donegal was talking about where he was on Monday night. There is an implication that I was not there.

Where was the Minister on Sunday night?

Where was the Deputy on Saturday night for that matter?

Where was the Minister on Sunday night?

There was an imputation in the papers yesterday and I took the trouble to point out to the papers the error of their ways in publishing an alleged denial. I was in Donegal on Monday night. I was at a meeting in Letterkenny from 8.30 p.m. until 10.30 p.m. I left that meeting and went to another meeting in the parochial hall in Druoghill, Manorcunningham. I left that meeting at 11.45 p.m. I passed through the customs at 12 o'clock. That is merely for the record.

We will check that.

The Deputy does not have to check it. When I am around the people who count are there and know where I am. However, that is merely by way of diversion.

(Interruptions.)

I am thankful to the Deputy for giving me that opportunity of confirming where I was on Monday night, even though it is not relevant to the Bill. I have never run away from anything in Baltinglass or anywhere else, and I never will.

In so far as intimidation is concerned, Deputy Clinton is a very sensible sort of man. How they got him in here I do not know, but there he is and he is being spoiled by this legalistic advice he is getting. The Deputy knows there are things going on and that it is not in the interest of the farmers that they should be going on, and that anything in this Bill which could cure that situation is to the benefit of the farming community in which the Deputy has quite a decided interest.

The existence of other regulatory Acts—and I went into details before and do not propose to go over them again—was wiped out as of no consequence. The fact that regulations dealing with agricultural matters, at the discretion of the Minister, have been in operation down the years since the late Deputy Hogan's time, and that the Minister has had this sort of power, is wiped out by Deputy Clinton and others as of no consequence, or as creating no precedent whatsoever to justify this Bill in like manner. This is a childish approach. They do not agree with the Bill and they feel the time is opportune for them to make capital out of the alleged reasons for the Bill, as distinct from the actual reasons for the Bill. This is a purely political antic by Fine Gael in the hope that they will make something out of our trouble with the NFA. They are trying to bring the pot to the boil again, because of the local elections in the hope of getting some support from their waning supporters throughout the country, and that is the real reason for their carry on tonight.

The Minister knows that he promised a straw factory for Raphoe. The Minister made that promise in my company but he denied it in the same way as he denied where he was on Monday.

The Deputy promised to clean the Cloone Burn.

Forget about the Cloone Burn.

I will not forget about it.

The Minister promised a straw factory for Raphoe but it was a promise made by a man of straw.

The Deputy promised to clean the Cloone Burn and I had to come along afterwards——

I have already asked Deputy Harte to cease interrupting. I will not ask him again. I will report him to the House for disobeying the instructions of the Chair.

I am sorry for the interruptions from my colleague from Donegal.

The Minister need not apologise for me.

We had a lot of sun in Donegal in the past week.

It will be brighter next week for a few people.

Indeed it will; I hope the weather keeps up for us. The NFA made a proposal to my Department in 1957 that marts should be licensed. This is not exactly the sort of licence they asked for, but how many of us always get exactly what we ask for? They prepared quite a lengthy memorandum and submitted it to the Department. Even back at that time they thought the marts should be licensed. They asked that the marts should be co-operatively owned and financed by the farmers; that they should be restricted to centres with large numbers of livestock which would attract foreign buyers and would have lower overhead costs per head; that they should employ—and this is very important — competent and experienced auctioneers and auditors. There are pages of it, and that was in December, 1957. As I said, they submitted quite a lengthy and apparently well reasoned case as to why these things should be done. In fact, the NFA are the people who started this off.

That was ten years ago and nothing was done since.

If I had been in this position then, I think I would have taken more notice of this idea of licensing, but I would not have licensed the marts in the manner in which the NFA asked for it to be done. This Bill will produce the things which they were seeking to secure. As I said before, whoever gets all he asks for in every detail? Indeed, in this case not only are we giving them what they asked for, which is not usually readily forthcoming, but we are giving them more. Times have moved on. More things have to be covered by the licence. Happenings have taken place. Marts have gone burst. Farmers have lost money. I want to give Fine Gael a tip. Farmers are out money in thousands. Do not rap the farmers who lost this money. They are very concerned with these losses.

There is nothing in the Bill about this.

I referred to security and fidelity bonds. Because the Deputy does not agree with the Bill or any part of it he does not seem to see that the Bill is capable of doing these things of which I have already given an indication in my opening remarks. The Bill is capable of doing the things which I indicated will be encompassed in the conditions made under the regulations when the Bill becomes law.

That submission was made ten years ago. In the past few days since the emergence of the Bill, and since some of the criticism, informed and uninformed, and well intentioned or ill intentioned, has emerged, I have had letters from people who are not supporters of mine, who have never been, and who I doubt ever will be, unless they are influenced by this Bill and like it so much that they will vote for me in the future. They have written in to say they want this measure and that the only thing wrong with it is that it is ten years after its time.

Are they members of Taca?

Neither members of Taca nor of Fianna Fáil, but I would say in two notable cases, they are members of Fine Gael and the NFA.

The Minister might be interested to know I have not the same advice from strong supporters of his own.

What sort of advice?

The advice that they do not in any circumstances want this Bill.

They must be only getting it up for you. Deputy Clinton, never a man to be behind in promises, says Fine Gael will repeal this Bill. I am sure he added the condition: if and when they ever got the chance. I would say to those who may be enticed towards Deputy Clinton's Party, that, if this promise appeals to them, they are certainly backing a very long shot indeed. Having Fine Gael in the position where they could repeal anything would be one of the miracles of the next couple of decades, as far as I can judge from the performance of what we have speaking for them in the Front Bench with the devious tongues they use.

Cassius Clay.

We do not want anyone to go away with the notion that Fine Gael have a hope of being in a position to repeal this Bill in the foreseeable future. This is the pit into which Deputy Clinton has fallen in making that promise. Perhaps in his enthusiasm for his Party's chances he may be excused if he misleads himself into believing they have the remotest chance of that opportunity.

When the Minister has finished talking, it may not be necessary.

There was mention of a meat marketing board, which does not come into this matter at all, but for the peace of mind of the Fine Gael Deputies I want to say there will be a meat board, but it seems now almost certain it cannot be a marketing board. However, when the necessary legislation for whatever type of board we may devise comes before us, the time will be opportune to discuss that. I should like to assure the House, and Fine Gael in particular, that their thoughts in this regard are not being neglected by me and that they can assure their friends for whom they say they are talking that Fianna Fáil and the Minister for Agriculture have them in their thoughts and will look after their interests.

Could I ask the Minister a question?

Indeed you could.

Where is the mention of fidelity bonds in that opening statement?

Well, now——

You said it was there.

Do not be tying me too much. Deputy Donegan is caught by the same sort of legal advice.

Where is the mention of the fidelity bonds you told me two minutes ago was in the statement?

If you have no reasonableness, would you have a little manners and give me an opportunity of finding it? It need not necessarily be described as a fidelity bond.

It is you who described it.

Take your time: it is in this document somewhere. I do not want to hold up the House looking for it, but I will find it for the Deputy.

We had your excuse that you were lost last Monday night in Donegal.

I have never been lost anywhere and there is not much likelihood I will be. Do not have any illusions about that. Even though I may not have been evident to the Deputy in Manorcunningham and district on Monday night, believe you me, you will know I was there on Wednesday 28th. We will get this for Deputy Donegan.

You said it was there.

I will produce it. I do not want to be holding the House up. I will get it by the end of the run. There have been all sorts of accusations and adjectives used in relation to the Minister, such as his "vengeful outlook" and his "bullying attitude". This was Deputy Clinton again. I cannot understand this from Deputy Clinton, of all people. He knows quite well I do not bully anyone. He knows he has never experienced me bullying in any way so far as he was concerned.

That is the joke of the year.

So does Deputy L'Estrange. No one knows it better than he does. This suggestion is completely and absolutely untrue. I am not worried about it from a personal point of view, but I do not like to have it attached to the office of Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries.

What about the third candidate in the Milford electoral area?

We have four candidates there. Do not worry about the Milford electoral area. I am looking after it to the best of my ability. I shall look after all our candidates there and, if there is anything left, we will give it to the Fine Gael Party.

The third candidate does not say you are not bullying and it does not look as if you are going to get rid of him either.

Do not start that. You are only doing harm here. If anybody down below sees you are talking here in favour of somebody who belongs to my Party, you are going to ruin the fellow, even though you may not do it intentionally.

I wish the two of you would go back to Donegal.

I wish the two of us were back in Donegal. We could be very usefully engaged there at the moment.

There is also in the Bill the clear understanding that marts already in existence will get their licences. If in fact their present methods of operation and present construction are not up to what we would like them to be, they will not be jumped on from behind without warning and told: "You do not conform and therefore we have to take your licence back." The obvious reasonable approach will be that existing marts will be licensed. All of them will be treated alike. I will not pick out one personality and tell him that, because I know him, he can get away with anything he likes. Nor will somebody I do not like have to pay the piper in order to trade at all. This suggestion was made by Deputy Sweetman, deliberately and with every intention of trying to disseminate that idea. I want to blow that apart and show how ludicrous and ridiculous it is.

Naturally enough, one of the purposes of a Bill of this nature is to bring about uniformity of practice at the highest level we can reasonably attain in regard to sales and trading in these marts. The idea of having one mart in a deplorably bad condition because I know the persons concerned and they can get off with anything they like and the idea of the person I do not like having to pay up—any Minister who attempted that would be blown apart instead of Deputy Sweetman's argument being blown apart. We want to ensure that the marts are up to the reasonable standard that obtains in the majority of marts as of now. They will get reasonable and ample time to bring themselves into line.

There will be no such thing as trying to jump a man off merely because he was caught on the introduction of the Bill with a mart below standard. There will be no question of that, and those who suggest it do not know what they are talking about, or, like Deputy Sweetman, they know what they are talking about and appreciate that this is a good measure but are going on in this way about it in an effort to create a false impression throughout the country,

I would refer Deputy Clinton to the last few lines in the third paragraph on page 3 of my speech in which I said:

Another matter which it would be desirable to cover is the safeguarding of the financial interests of farmers selling livestock at marts.

If I can cover that by indicating the requirements of a fidelity bond or an insurance cover, it is merely a short cut to the same end, which is to secure the safeguarding of the interests of the farmers. What I mean when I say that is that it is desirable to cover the financial interests of farmers selling livestock at marts and how that is to be done is immaterial as long as it is done. What I am concerned with is the insurance of farmers selling livestock at these marts against financial loss and this is why I have referred to this important matter.

With regard to the hygiene arrangements, the hygiene and veterinary requirements for entry into the EEC markets have already been laid down and it is important that we should be doing something about these arrangements now. Any such arrangements that will ensure a higher standard of operation of these marts will be a great help to us. Even if we never entered the EEC, it is in the vital interests of our farmers that we should have the most smooth method possible of selling cattle that can be devised within reasonable cost. This is something that nobody can deny will be of use to us.

May I further say to the House that in this matter of this Bill I want again to take the most absolute exception to the manner of approach to it by the Opposition speakers? They are doing nothing but harm to the prospects of agriculture, not only in condemning the motives which brought forth this Bill but in spreading abroad on every possible occasion a picture of depression and despair for our farmers. In doing this, they are doing no service to the farming community for which they are so alive in their appeals. They have latched on to figures which those who issued them were well aware were only a calculation based on what is already known and Opposition speakers have treated these figures as gospel. The people who produced these figures will agree that they are but a calculated guess on what they already know. The howl that there are too many cattle in the country is not designed by Fine Gael to be of any assistance to the farming community, not designed to be of any assistance to the Government. It is designed to bring about depression and to bring our farmers into such a condition that they would become dispirited, that they would lose faith in the future so that they would not make the efforts which they might otherwise make to make the country prosperous.

Fine Gael have been at this game and tactic for some considerable time now and it will come home to roost with them in the not too distant future. They should be ashamed of the way in which they are pushing this gloom and despair among the farming community. We have built up over the years the belief in our Irish people that they are as good in their job as any other people in the world. Fine Gael are now trying to destroy that spirit among the people, to bring them down and depress them again, to make them lose the confidence that has been built up in them. By so doing, by putting the people into this depressed and dispirited condition they hope that they will get them to vote for Fine Gael.

They are wrong in this thought because even those in the last stages of despondency would not vote for Fine Gael. In doing this, Fine Gael are doing themselves no good; they are doing Fianna Fáil no good. Instead they are trying to drive the people back into the throes of despair and despondency from which they have been brought. I would say to Fine Gael that they should try to see a little bit over their own height. They should come along and endeavour to help our people to continue to grow upwards and outwards rather than try to get them to look at and believe that things are at their worst.

Deputy Burton says that farmers are jealous of their rights. Deputy Burton is a decent fellow who generally has not too much to say but he has apparently been inoculated with the same Fine Gael venom and poison as the other speakers. In this debate they have not been talking about the Bill but about the Minister for Agriculture. As Minister for Agriculture, I have had little opportunity to become known in my present position. While I am approximately nine months in the Department, it has not been possible for me to become too well known. I was nine years in my previous post and during that period, I mixed with Deputies on the opposite side and met them and discussed matters with them.

During that nine years there is not a single local authority in Ireland that could deliberately paint me as I am being painted at present, as a man who is unreasonable and carrying on a vendetta. What has happened in the nine months during which I have been Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries that would turn me into a person that is unreasonable, a person to whom one cannot talk, a person who would carry on a vendetta against any section of the community? Even those who make those statements about me know that they are without foundation. As Deputy Clinton well knows, there is probably no more reasonable man to deal with than I.

"The farmers are jealous of their rights," says Deputy Burton. With this I heartily agree and because of their jealousy of their rights and because of my regard for their rights, we want this Bill to ensure that these rights continue. We want to ensure for those farmers whose fathers and grandfathers and great-grandfathers before them could freely sell their cattle in the fairgreens from time immemorial, which fairs are now gradually being replaced by marts, no matter by whom owned, whether co-operative or private, that their rights will continue unhindered and unfettered, no matter for what cause, by any organisation, no matter who they are, where they are or at what time in the future. This we want to ensure and this Bill will help to see that we do it.

I should like to say to Deputy Burton that his concern and fear about the manner in which Fianna Fáil will lose support, as he said, all over the south are needless. We heard this last November and December and we were going south at that time, south-west and south-east. We heard it at a time when, probably, from a Government point of view, Fianna Fáil were seldom before in as difficult a situation, due to the hysteria created by Fine Gael latching on to the difficulties of our small farmers and their cattle trade difficulties of the time. We heard it then and we were jeered at in this House and were being told about the hiding that we would get down south. We went. We did not wait for those people to take us there. We took time by the forelock. We moved the writ and they had to follow us to the south-east and we beat the lard out of them in the two and will do it again, in the not very distant future.

Let Deputy Burton not worry about our well-being in the south. We are all right in the south and we are all right in the north. We are OK in the west and we are all right in the east. So far as fighting elections is concerned and in our garnering of support, the support is there, it has been there. Let Fine Gael not cod themselves, as they did last year, into the silly belief that there was some future for them in the immediate months ahead. There was not then, there is not now and ten years from now there will not be.

I commend this Bill to the House to improve the lot of our farmers, to secure the rights of the farmer, to give him the freedom he has enjoyed in the past. There have been all the spurious arguments, all the spiteful things that have been said here tonight, all the hysterical ramblings of Deputy Dillon and the spiteful efforts of the would-be President, Deputy O'Higgins, who, incidentally, has no love for me either, because of the fact that we caught him out in the ballot boxes in both north and south Donegal 12 months ago and, of course, the O'Higgins's never had any love for the Blaneys, and I am talking about the last two generations.

Question put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 52; Níl, 48.

  • Allen, Lorcan.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Blaney, Neil T.
  • Boland, Kevin.
  • Booth, Lionel.
  • Boylan, Terence.
  • Brady, Philip.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Brennan, Paudge.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Browne, Patrick.
  • Calleary, Phelim A.
  • Carter, Frank.
  • Carty, Michael.
  • Childers, Erskine.
  • Clohessy, Patrick.
  • Colley, George.
  • Crinion, Brendan.
  • Cronin, Jerry.
  • Crowley, Flor.
  • Davern, Don.
  • de Valera, Vivion.
  • Dowling, Joe.
  • Egan, Nicholas.
  • Fahey, John.
  • Faulkner, Pádraig.
  • Fitzpatrick, Thomas J. (Dublin South-Central).
  • Gallagher, James.
  • Geoghegan, John.
  • Gibbons, Hugh.
  • Gibbons, James M.
  • Gilbride, Eugene.
  • Gogan, Richard P.
  • Healy, Augustine A.
  • Hilliard, Michael.
  • Kenneally, William.
  • Kennedy, James J.
  • Kitt, Michael F.
  • Lalor, Patrick J.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lynch, Celia.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • Meaney, Tom.
  • Millar, Anthony G.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Moore, Seán.
  • Moran, Michael.
  • Nolan, Thomas.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Wyse, Pearse.

Níl

  • Barrett, Stephen D.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Belton, Luke.
  • Belton, Paddy.
  • Burke, Joan T.
  • Burton, Philip.
  • Byrne, Patrick.
  • Clinton, Mark A.
  • Cluskey, Frank.
  • Connor, Patrick.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Costello, Declan.
  • Costello, John A.
  • Creed, Donal.
  • Crotty, Patrick J.
  • Dillon, James M.
  • L'Estrange, Gerald.
  • Lindsay, Patrick J.
  • Lyons, Michael D.
  • McLaughlin, Joseph.
  • O'Donnell, Patrick.
  • O'Donnell, Tom.
  • O'Hara, Thomas.
  • Dockrell, Henry P.
  • Dockrell, Maurice E.
  • Donegan, Patrick S.
  • Donnellan, John.
  • Dunne, Thomas.
  • Esmonde, Sir Anthony C.
  • Farrelly, Denis.
  • Fitzpatrick, Thomas J. (Cavan).
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Gilhawley, Eugene.
  • Governey, Desmond.
  • Harte, Patrick D.
  • Hogan, Patrick (South Tipperary).
  • Hogan O'Higgins, Brigid.
  • Jones, Denis F.
  • Kenny, Henry.
  • Kyne, Thomas A.
  • O'Higgins, Michael J.
  • O'Higgins, Thomas F.K.
  • O'Leary, Michael.
  • Reynolds, Patrick J.
  • Ryan, Richie.
  • Sweetman, Gerard.
  • Tully, James.
Tellers:—Tá: Deputies Carty and Geoghegan; Níl: Deputies L'Estrange and James Tully.
Question declared carried.

Committee Stage?

Next day of meeting, this day fortnight.

Would the Minister not consider it better to leave over the next Stage until October, because he has to consult a lot of people he should have consulted before he brought in the Bill?

Deputy Clinton is, as usual, very concerned about how I do things. A fortnight will be ample time to have all these discussions with these people I have already promised to meet, and I would suggest——

Tomorrow fortnight?

Yesterday fortnight.

I understood the Second Reading was all the Government were looking for before the Recess. This was discussed by the Whips and I am surprised to find that the Minister now wants all Stages.

I do not want to come between the Whips in any of these matters, but my understanding was that we were seeking all Stages of this Bill before we adjourned. It was conveyed to me, whether this is true or not, that we would be here until the end of July if we wanted to get this Bill. I said even if we were here till the end of August, we still needed that Bill.

You nearly were not here at all.

Fine Gael got a fright. Do not do it again. You could have beaten us and then you would be in trouble.

That is what they call graveyard whistling. Very euphonious it is.

Is Tuesday week agreed for the Committee Stage?

No, it is not, for an important measure like this. There are far too many amendments to be put in.

By whom?

By all these people the Minister has to consult.

Why not let me worry about the people I have to consult, and you worry about the people you have to consult?

Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, 4th July, 1967.