The amendment which we have been discussing for some time past is an amendment to the definition section of the Bill. The House will recall that the case has been made on a number of occasions that the definition section is the important section because on it depends the entire scope of the operation of the Bill.
This amendment seeks to add to the definition of the "business of a livestock mart" the words "but does not include the leasing or letting of any such place". If amended the definition would read:
"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 but does not include the leasing or letting of any such place.
I do not know if the Minister and the Government, or Deputies sitting behind the Minister, appreciate the importance of this amendment. The Minister rose on two occasions to give his views but, for some reason or another, when a House was called and a quorum obtained, he decided to refrain from speaking, so we are in the position at the moment that we have not the benefit of the Government's view in relation to the amendment.
From the point of view of the Deputies who are supporting this amendment the import of this amendment is to bring some sense of reality into this definition section. Speaking earlier, I made it clear that I regard this entire definition as requiring drastic alteration, as requiring such drastic alteration that the preferable way of dealing with it would be to scrap entirely the proposed definition of "business of a livestock mart".
In case the Leas-Cheann Comhairle or the Deputies opposite may feel like saying to me, and possibly regard themselves as justified in saying it: "Well, if you hold those views, why did you not propose that this entire definition section should be taken out and replaced by something else?" I should like to claim the indulgence of the Chair in order to explain to the House that I did, in fact, endeavour to make such a proposition. Having listened to the discussion on the various amendments tabled in order to try to remedy defects we suggested were to be found in this definition section, I came to the conclusion that the best thing to do would be to get completely away from the definition section and propose a completely new section. I handed in an amendment, therefore, suggesting that we delete entirely lines 13 to 16 and substitute instead:
"business of a livestock mart" means the business of operating a livestock mart and includes the conducting of all sales of livestock at such mart.
The Ceann Comhairle notified me that he could not accept the amendment because it affects inter alia amendment No. 1. He pointed out that it should have been moved at the commencement of the Committee Stage. I see the validity of that argument because the House has already given a decision on the words involved in amendment No. 1, which was to delete the words “or otherwise” in the definition section. I refer to the matter simply because Deputies might feel there was some lack of consistency in my remarks when I am critical of the entire definition section. If the Government decide to refrain from the guillotine motion they have proposed in relation to this Bill, and if they allow the Bill to continue through the normal stages of Committee discussion to be followed by a Report Stage, it will be my intention on the Report Stage to submit an amendment on similar lines for acceptance by the House. Whether or not I get that opportunity rests with the Government, who command a majority of votes in this House and who are, therefore, in a position to apply closure motions and guillotine motions and to rule out, by such motions, discussions on further stages of the Bill.
At the moment we are concerned to modify to some extent the provisions of the Bill in a manner which should, I think, command the support of Deputies. It should at least command that support if I am right in the proposition I put to the House earlier, in relation to which I said a reply as to whether I was right or wrong in the assumption that it was not the intention of the Government in drafting this amendment to deal with places or transactions that do not constitute any part of a livestock mart in the ordinary sense of those words, which are known and understood by everyone interested in the sale of livestock at marts, certainly for the last decade or so during which marts have become a reasonably common feature of rural life and reasonably well known to people who are concerned with rural or agricultural affairs, irrespective of whether or not they themselves engage in the agricultural industry, if this Bill is intended to be concerned only with livestock marts, then, as I said earlier, we should try to ensure, when we say something, that we say what we mean.
We have here a Bill which, according to its Title, is supposed to deal with livestock marts. The Long Title reads:
An Act to provide for the control and regulation by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries of livestock marts and the sale of livestock at such marts and to provide for other matters connected with the matters aforesaid.
That is to provide for other matters connected with the regulation and control of livestock marts and the sale of livestock at such marts. As the discussion here has proceeded, it has become quite clear that the definition of the business of a livestock mart can in the circumstances which have been discussed be extended to cover places and transactions which have little or nothing to do with livestock marts, as we know them, and if the Bill is designed to deal with livestock marts, then we should confine its scope to dealing with livestock marts.
The definition section of this Bill makes no attempt, good, bad or indifferent, to define what a livestock mart is, but it does set out to define the business of a livestock mart and it provides that no person shall be entitled to carry on the business of a livestock mart at any place unless a licence in respect of that place has been obtained from the Minister for Agriculture. Because of the way in which the definition section of the Bill proceeds to deal not with physical livestock marts but with an artificial definition of the business of a livestock mart we have run into considerable difficulty in finding out and understanding exactly what is intended to be covered by this Bill.
In Deputy Clinton's amendment under discussion now it is suggested that we should at least try to ensure, in considering this definition, that people who lease or let property, which property comes to be used as a livestock mart, should not thereby be deemed to be engaged in the business of a livestock mart merely because they are the lessors of the property concerned. If it is not the intention of the Government to deem such people as being engaged in the business of a livestock mart, there should be no objection on the part of the Government then to this amendment. I do not believe it is the intention of the Government to extend the operations of this Bill, to cast their net so widely that lessors of the type of property to which I have referred would be captured and would be deemed, simply because they have made a lease or a letting of their property, to be carrying on the business of a livestock mart. If I am wrong in that, and if it is the intention of the Government that these people should be included, then I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary, who is occupying the Front Bench at the moment, to make that clear to the House. So far it has not been made clear.
I have given some examples of the type of odd situation which can arise if this definition section is left unaltered and if the words proposed by Deputy Clinton are not, in fact, added to the definition section. We may, for instance, find a situation in which a trustee who is dealing with trust property wants to make a letting to the best advantage of the beneficiaries of the trust.
Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,