Agricultural Credit Bill, 1975: Second Stage.

I move: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

This is a short Bill whose main purpose is to increase the borrowing powers of the Agricultural Credit Corporation. The corporation was one of the first State-sponsored bodies established in this country, dating from 1927. In the meantime it has become closely identified with agricultural progress here, it has expanded dramatically in the past ten years and is now investing £55 to £60 million a year in Irish agriculture.

The corporation are a registered company with £10 million share capital. The issued share capital of £6.75 million is held by the Minister for Finance who appoints the Board of Directors. The corporation also hold £16 million in Exchequer loans. In recent years their lending was financed mainly from deposits, repayments on existing loans and borrowing abroad including the World Bank and European Investment Bank. To take 1975 as an example the corporation expect to lend £55 million which will be financed by means of £25 million deposits, £21 million repayments on existing loans and £9 million foreign borrowing.

In passing I should say that the deposits scheme introduced by the corporation in 1965 and guaranteed by the Minister for Finance has been highly successful. They now hold £75 million in deposits and pay an interest rate of 10 per cent. I can readily recommend the scheme to the public who can get a very good return on their investment while at the same time contributing to the development of Irish agriculture.

The corporation give credit for a variety of purposes but loans for livestock, land purchase and improvement, buildings and equipment are the more popular. In the year to April, 1975, such loans amounted to £25 million or 45 per cent of total advances. They also give loans for the purchase of seeds and fertilisers, repayment of debt and family settlements and capital for the purchase of grain at harvest time. They finance hire purchase, mostly farm machinery, their total hire purchase transactions in 1974-75 amounting to £5 million.

Farmers are the principal borrowers but a considerable amount of credit goes to merchants and co-operative societies, mainly processing firms such as creameries and meat factories. In 1974-75 the corporation advanced £40 million to farmers and £16 million to others.

Repayment periods vary. Loans to grain millers for the purchase of grain may be repaid within six months. Other short-term loans such as budgeted loans for seasonal farm operations are repayable within 12 to 15 months. Then there are medium and long-term loans. Loans for livestock run for five years, land drainage for 15 years, land purchase and buildings for 20 years and dwelling houses for 25 years.

Interest rates charged by the corporation are based on the current cost of borrowing. With the high cost of funds in the money market in recent years the margin available to ACC to cover administrative expenses is minimal. Samples of current lending rates are 12 per cent for budgeted loans, 13¾ per cent for a repayment period of one to five years, 15 per cent for periods of ten years and over.

From time to time the corporation operate schemes to meet special needs. For example, they had a loan scheme for breeding stock from June, 1972, to December, 1973, to help farmers to increase their livestock numbers. The State paid an interest subsidy of 4 per cent on such loans.

A similar scheme of loans at low interest rates operated last winter to help small farmers buy feedingstuffs. The State paid an interest subsidy of 8 per cent enabling the farmers to borrow at 5 per cent. The Associated Banks took part in these schemes on similar terms.

Turning to the future it seems likely that a high demand for agricultural credit will continue. Farm prices are recovering after the temporary set-back in 1974 and, with the growing confidence in the future of their business, farmers will no doubt increase their investment in land improvement, livestock, farm buildings, equipment and other facilities. The farm modernisation scheme will give added impetus to such investment with its emphasis on farm planning, efficiency and profits.

The corporation are most anxious to contribute to farming progress, and with this in mind I am providing for a big expansion in their borrowing limits. They regularly review their schemes and credit terms to take account of farming requirements. They are also reviewing their administrative system and expanding their regional organisation in order to be in close touch with the needs of individual farmers and speed up the issue of loans. They will soon have offices at 24 centres throughout the country. I should like to congratulate the corporation on their performance and to wish them well in their plans to provide a first-class service to agriculture.

I will now summarise the main provisions in the Bill. Section 1 contains the usual definitions. Section 2 increases the maximum amount which may be borrowed by the corporation. The ceiling of £120 million set in the 1973 Act is increased to £220 million. It is expected that the revised limit will meet their requirements for the next two-and-a-half years.

Section 3 deals with ministerial guarantees. The Minister for Finance may guarantee the repayment of ACC borrowings. In keeping with the new ceiling on borrowings, section 3 increases the maximum amount of such borrowing which may be guaranteed by the Minister.

Section 4 gives the Minister for the Public Service authority to regulate the pay of the corporation's chief executive. It provides that the remuneration and allowances payable to this officer shall be subject to ministerial consent.

Section 5 corrects an omission in the Act of 1972 which, in dealing with foreign borrowing, empowered the Minister for Finance to indemnify the corporation against losses or to receive any benefits arising from changes in exchange rates. Section 5 formalises the accounting provisions for such losses or gains.

This Bill will enable the corporation to cope with their expanding business and to help the progress of Irish agriculture. I recommend the Bill for the approval of the House.

I thank the Parliamentary Secretary for his little homily about the benefits of farm credit. May I remark on the smug and self-satisfied atmosphere in which it must have been written and the almost total ignorance of the agricultural situation revealed in the Parliamentary Secretary's speech? This is not to say that we in Fianna Fáil do not recognise the pressing need for a satisfactory credit system and, while we have some suggestions for the improvement of the Bill that will be before the House in due course, in general we accept the necessity for it. I mentioned the extraordinary ignorance and the detached attitude that is displayed by the Parliamentary Secretary in his speech. It states:

Farm prices are recovering after the temporary set-back in 1974 and, with the growing confidence in the future of their business, farmers will no doubt increase their investment in land improvement, livestock...

If that is not a cavalier way of dismissing the major agricultural tragedy that hit the country with the arrival of the National Coalition Government, and in which the agricultural industry is still in the throes, I would like to see a better way.

There are a number of other aspects that were mentioned in the Parliamentary Secretary's speech that must have caused some concern to farmers who wish to borrow. There are the very substantial amounts of money that are made available from the Agricultural Credit Corporation to people outside farming, especially people who have consistently during the years made very large profits from farming, with the assistance of the credit mechanisms that are available for farmers and that many farmers feel should be available only to them. It is true also that farmer co-oper-atives and meat factories borrow very heavily from the Agricultural Credit Corporation. This is a different category of borrower and, while their borrowing has diminished the available amount of money left for borrowing by farmers, it is readily recognisable at the same time that without this investment the massive development of the dairying and the meat processing industry that took place under the Fianna Fáil Government could not have taken place.

It is worth noting that this expansion and development, which was very very rapid indeed, especially in the case of meat processing and the concentration on dairy product manufacture, has diminished very considerably since the advent of the Coalition Government. In the context of European prices and price structures and the collapse of the cattle trade that was contrived by our own Government here it is likely it will lead to a situation where the dairy factories especially will be getting into increasing difficulties. The profitability of the dairy industry has been very seriously damaged, principally by the disastrous drop in the price of calves in dairy farms.

Three years ago it was quite common to see calves being bought by the suckler herd owners in the country for £70 each. In the last couple of months it is just as common for similar calves to be bought or sold for 70p. One does not have to be a great mathematician to figure that in an intensively run dairy farm which sells off its calves, which might be carrying a cow to the acre, the profit per acre will fall by the price of calf per acre. This is the case in many intensive dairy farms at the present time now. They are being transformed from a profitable situation where they were going ahead, expanding rapidly and investing heavily in their own land and increasing the production from their land, to a situation now where many of them now are suffering a loss. They will be feeling the effect of the new price structure for milk that seems to have been accepted without any great demur by the Government. It is the introduction of the European Commission idea that is delicately called "financial coresponsibility". What financial coresponsibility means in European terms is that if there appears to be an oversupply of any particular product the farmer's price is reduced. I hope that before this present milk season comes to an end that there will not be a downward adjustment of milk prices, apart from the built-in downward trend of milk prices that is with us all the time because of the constant erosion of prices due to inflation.

It is well on an occasion such as the Second Stage of this Bill to consider the motivation behind farmers who would seek to borrow money. When it became apparent that this country was entering the European Community there existed already a very satisfactory rise in the size of the cattle herd, the sheep flock and the pig herd in this country. All of these flocks and herds were increasing in numbers. Farmers were borrowing very heavily to expand their production in all of these areas and we had established in this country a very large beef herd of suckling cows. It was to those herds that the calves from the dairy herds were moving and making such satisfactory prices during the Fianna Fáil regime.

With the advent of the National Coalition Government, and the most incredible mismanagement of the farming sector by that Government, we now have a situation where the beef suckler herd has been almost totally eliminated and with it the market for calves and dairy herds and, of course, the profitability of farming enterprise at the present time. Even on the Department of Agriculture's own admission, farm profits fell about 30 per cent last year. If we are to take the findings of the Agricultural Institute, which the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries vehemently denies, the average farmer's income last year was £1,500. In the teeth of raging inflation there has been a disastrous drop in the incomes of farmers. The Government, with that marvellous sensitivity of theirs, contemplating the destruction they had wrought in the farming sector, in examining their lawyers' hearts and their university dons' hearts to see what they might best do to assist this situation, introduced several new forms of taxation. They introduced income tax for farmers along with the rating of their land.

When we were in Government I never denied that it was my opinion that farmers should pay the same kind of taxation at the same rate as any other person in the country. This is perfectly logical and sensible. What the National Coalition did was to introduce this system in a very lefthanded and peculiar way. The type of taxation introduced by them and called income tax is called income tax inaccurately because in many cases this taxation will be determined not by the size of farmers' incomes but by their rateable valuation under the Griffith valuation which was done in the middle of the last century. It is a very serious taxation, running handin-hand with the very serious rates on agricultural land which the Irish Farmers' Association, members of this party, and other people who understand agriculture, who have contacts with agriculture or are involved in agriculture, have been advocating. Nobody but a fool would advocate that there should be some particular class of people that would be exempt from taxation that applies to everyone else in the State. That is nonsense. We do not advocate that. What we do advocate and seek is taxation on the same basis as other people for the farmers of the country. We have not got it.

The Government, in their extraordinary insensitivity to the peculiarities of the farming community, of a nation of farmers such as a great many of us still are, stuck their awkward thumbs in the whole business of farm succession. I am afraid that while their legislation, part of which is before the House at the present time, is the law of this land, that the timehonoured concepts of farm succession from father to son will be no longer possible and that Ireland's race of hard-working, industrious farmers will be taxed out of existence. It will no longer pay the sons of farmers to become their fathers' successors as farmers because their backs will be broken by succession tax and capital gains tax.

With all these other blessings the Coalition conferred upon us they have also—I would think in total ignorance rather than in malice, with an ignorance that is very difficult to understand or believe—destroyed the whole system of farming. It is clear that they do not know how this works. The provisions of the income taxing of farmers will effectively mean that many second sons, enterprising men living on farms of £50 valuation and over, will not only have the profits that they made from doing occasional hire work for their neighbours taxed but whatever little profits they might make on their own farms will be taxed as well. Their identity will be found because the people for whom they work, in making their income tax returns, must give the names and addresses of the contractors who carried out those works for them. In other words, the old system of neighbourly co-operation has been turned into a system of neighbours spying on one another. This has not been eliminated at all.

In fairness——

Deputy Gibbons should be allowed to speak without interruption.

What could one expect from an urban-based Government?

Deputy Enright's knowledge of the law may be pretty extensive but his knowledge of the farming situation is not quite so extensive. Mine is greater than the Deputy's, with all due respects to him.

Is it not a fact that agricultural contractors were liable for income tax?

A person will be required to name the contractors who carry out certain contracts for him. Otherwise the moneys paid to these men will not be considered as a basis for exemption. If he does not disclose the identity of the contractors the Revenue Commissioners will descend like a ton of bricks on him.

These are a few of the things the Coalition Government have been doing for the farming community. In the incredibily short period of two-and-a-half years they have produced chaos in the industry. Week by week the Department issue a Press release giving the reference prices for cattle throughout the European Community. Week by week the price of cattle in the Irish Republic is far lower than in any other country in the Community including Great Britain. In more recent times a mechanism has been introduced by the British Government for the provision of what is in effect, a guarantee price for cattle, by the use of a variable premium. This variable premium has been varied in so far as it affects Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The upshot of it is that cattle prices in all of Ireland, north or south, would be about £1 a hundredweight less than in the United Kingdom.

I have not heard any protest from the Department or the Minister about this. The effect it has on the farmers in the Republic is that the relationship between their prices and cattle prices in the UK will be changed to the detriment of our farmers.

Because of the depredations of the National Coalition Government, because of the utter havoc they have wrought in the farming scene in the last two-and-a-half years, it will be necessary to have very wide credit facilities available for survival. A farmer may be obliged to take the same spendthrift's course the Government have taken by borrowing for ordinary day-to-day purposes in order to stay alive. Farmers may, like them, be forced into a policy of borrowing further to get a little bit further along the road and the devil take the hindmost whenever the crunch comes, as it must inevitably come.

I have tabled questions to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and to the Taoiseach, which should be received in the next week or two, seeking to establish the movements in cattle numbers, sheep numbers and pig numbers that have occurred since the advent of the National Coalition. We know that the sheep flock since 1973 has diminished by 20 per cent. We are not able to supply our markets for pigmeat. This is not to be wondered at since the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries as late as last May 12 months advised the pig breeders to get out of business. He told them there was no future in pigs. Now we cannot get bacon to meet our orders in Britain. At the same time Polish and Swedish bacon gets very heavy EEC export refunds in the British market. Similarly cattle numbers must have diminished rapidly since the total failure of the Irish Government to make any impression on the business of selling cattle in Europe.

We urged the Ministers for Finance, Agriculture and Fisheries and the Government generally to give us a realistic devaluation of the agricultural £. When it was far too late in the day, when all the producers of small cattle, especially in the west of Ireland, had been wiped out and had sold their cattle, the Government on 7th October, 1974 gave a devaluation which was of little or no value. There was a slight difference between it and the British devaluation. There was a slight export refund on Irish cattle going to Britain which will presently be working the other way because the British Government who were more attentive and more alert, are going to do a further devaluation of the agricultural £. In due course when a great deal of harm has been done the Coalition may get around to facing this question again. It may be that they will have to seek the permission of Her Brittanic Majesty's Government before they do anything. If we are to go on their performance and their record we can depend on them to do the wrong thing.

We are talking about an Agricultural Credit Bill for an industry in which herds and flocks have been seriously diminished by the direct inactivities of the present Government. The principal factor in their wretched performance was the total ignorance of what goes on six miles away from where Nelson's Pillar used to be. There are areas where the Government's performance is excellent. In recent times their stage manager has been transferred to another job. He will become the people's commissar of Radio na Gaeltachta and also assistant to the official propaganda organ of Radio Telefís Éireann. He is being replaced in this area, this George Orwellian area, of black is white, and war is peace.

We have been persuaded that although we make no profits everything is all right. When the Minister goes to Brussels he brings back a bonanza. It is impossible to sell calves; it is impossible to sell lambs. That is a well-known fact but it seems no member of the Government knows. They are not concerned about these things. God knows, as far as the poor Deputies who sit behind the Minister are concerned, I do not know whether they are consulted or asked. I do know they will dutifully troop in behind the rest of the National Coalition on all occasions except the aberration when the Taoiseach takes the wrong turning at the top of the stairs. It is worth mentioning also that in this context of diminishing herds, increasing poverty, crashing prices and the imposition of several new tax loads on farmers, we discovered recently through the medium of Parliamentary Questions that the cost of fertilisers since the advent of the National Coalition has gone up by about two-and-a-half to three times, whether they are nitrogenous manures, phosphate manures, potash or indeed lime. I gather that the sales of fertilisers in this season are down by about 40 per cent. This is not to be wondered at because when farmers' profits are down by an admitted 30 per cent in many cases— it would be double that in others—it is unreasonable to expect that these farmers would be in a position to buy fertilisers.

The effects of their incapacity to buy fertilisers are going to be felt in the quantity of material that they have to sell. Fertiliser has no value at all only the capacity that it gives farmers to produce and sell more goods, whether the goods be milk or milk products, meat or meat products or cereals, sugar beet or whatever. It is necessary to tell the Government, because they are not aware of these things, that if fertilisers are not used production will fall. The quality of the cattle, sheep and pig produced will fall also and, needless to say, the quality of breeding has been seriously disrupted by the crashing of prices, by the unprofitability of proper cattle breeding. This is a serious area. In a properly run agriculture no sensible man would use a scrub bull but it might be said in the present context that no sensible man would bother using anything else for the reason that three years ago, when Fianna Fáil were in office, the price of calves, if anything, was too high—in the region of £60, £70 and they often made more. Now the price, after two-and-a-half years of Coalition activity, is 60p, 70p.

This is more relevant to the Estimate for Agriculture.

We do not have debates on Estimates any more.

Yes, there is one on the Order Paper and it will be debated on Friday.

We are subject to the heckling of the Heydrich of the Fine Gael Party, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach. In the consideration of any Bill dealing with agriculture and credit, one must examine the purposes for which this credit will be used. I have been attempting to survey the scene that confronts us and it is frightening. It is necessary to consider all these things. Great use was made of credit during the Fianna Fáil regime but for the purposes of expansion, for building, for increasing herd sizes, for buying better breeding stock. This does not pay any more. This is why we must advert to it here in this debate.

The Chair will know very well, because of her undoubted connection with the farming scene, that the use of proper breeding stock is no longer profitable and that the type of stock being bred very widely at present will, in due course, have to be eliminated by a Fianna Fáil Government. It is induced by the idiot policies that have been pursued in agriculture. I can describe them in no other way.

I want to refer to a very serious question that will concern people who may well have recourse to the Agricultural Credit Corporation. The elimination of brucellosis was not proceeding quickly enough when Fianna Fáil left office but it was proceeding at a fairly businesslike rate. It is also fair to say that the pattern of disease elimination and progress with the clearance areas was very similar to the pattern which was followed with the elimination of bovine tuberculosis, beginning in the north and centre of the country and moving down towards the heartland of animal disease in Munster and possibly my own county of Kilkenny as well. I do not seek to ascribe unfairly any blame to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries for this situation. It is true and must be admitted that the hard core area of brucellosis will be largely the Munster area and possibly Kilkenny and a bit of Wexford thrown in. A new and urgent factor is that by 1978 it will not be possible to sell Irish cattle, either alive or dead, on the Continent unless they are attested from the point of view of tuberculosis and brucellosis. That is a mere three years away. Yet the surface has not been nibbled as regards brucellosis in the dairying areas.

Acting Chairman

The Deputy is wandering from the Agricultural Credit Bill. This is more relevant to the Agriculture Estimate.

I am coming to it. As the scheme progresses, as reactors are taken out, and in many cases the number of reactors in herds will be very great—whole herds may well react. In these cases the herd owner, if he wants to continue being a herd owner, will have to borrow money, presumably from the Agricultural Credit Corporation, to re-establish his herd. In any event there is going to be an enormous wastage as the reactors are eliminated from the dairy herds. As far as I know, and the Minister has given no indication that I am aware of, there is no sense of special urgency about the really radical and tough tackling of the elimination of brucellosis. If there is not we are going to be in a very extraordinary position by 1978 because even now the United Kingdom cattle producers are expanding their production so rapidly and are being assisted so assiduously by the United Kingdom Government that the market for Irish stores in Britain will be diminished.

The market for Irish chilled meat in Britain will be diminished. We may well find ourselves by 1978 with a lot of cattle to sell and nowhere to go because we will not have attained attested status. Therefore, it is of vital necessity that the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries should produce a dynamic disease eradication programme and do it immediately. Deputies will have noticed that, during the Minister's recent dispute with the veterinary profession, this party acted in a very responsible way. We sympathised with the Minister's difficulty.

Acting Chairman

I am afraid that is not relevant. The question of whether the Minister was at loggerheads with the veterinary profession is not relevant to the Agricultural Credit Bill.

I cannot imagine anything more relevant.

There have been no subsidies for testing cattle this year and six months of it are gone.

Acting Chairman

That is not relevant to the Agricultural Credit Bill.

The whole cattle industry will be borrowing money.

What I was attempting to say—I may have been obscure —was that the better the disease eradication scheme is, the greater will be the elimination of reactors from the herd, the more rapid will be the elimination of reactors from the herd. In these circumstances, herd owners will have to replace the reactors as rapidly as possible. Most of them will have no way of doing this except by raising money from the ACC or some other lending agency. The Acting Chairman may see my point now. I beg pardon for being so obscure.

If I were a member of the Government I would be possibly a university don, a solicitor, or a member of some of the more eloquent professions. I ask the Chair to be tolerant with me. I am simply a farmer. I hope my party will, for the foreseeable future, at any rate, maintain the link with the plain people of Ireland, of whom I am one. We may yet live to see the day when the regime of the RTE demi-gods will be broken and the plain people of Ireland will take charge of the Government. I am quite confident that they will. Possibly that might be a little irrelevant and so I must not elaborate on it.

There is another area of borrowing which would be of special concern to the Acting Chairman, to Deputy Callanan, and to other Deputies from the west of Ireland, because it is there the greatest proportion of small farms are. I am not aware of the policy of the present Government with regard to the maintenance of the smaller farmers on the land, but I am very certain what our party's policy is. There is no doubt about it and I want to be perfectly clear on this. It is Fianna Fáil policy to maintain the small farmers of Ireland on the land of Ireland and to make it profitable for them to be there, and to give them every assistance to be there.

We must not be blamed if we have certain anxieties and suspicions about the Government. We have seen how the farm modernisation scheme was allowed to proceed on its merry way, in spite of the fact that it is a scheme that is weighted very heavily against the smaller farmer rather than what is known in European terms as the concept of the modern farm. Indeed, credit or no credit, with the Coalition in charge it will be very difficult, if it is possible at all, for the smaller farmers to survive.

When we contemplate the inertia of the Government with regard to having modifications of the farm and modernisation scheme made in Brussels, we must be forgiven if we have feelings of anxiety with regard to their intentions for the smaller farmers, especially in the province of Connacht. It is not a political secret that the majority of them very sensibly vote for Fianna Fáil.

These are farmers who have a particular interest in the EEC disadvantaged areas scheme. As requested by the European Commission in, I think, last October or November, the Irish Government presented a map of the country and on this map were delineated the areas our Government felt were agriculturally disadvantaged. A scheme was devised whereby, after great deliberations and cogitations, the contribution by the EEC would be 25 per cent of the disadvantaged areas scheme, but the remaining 75 per cent would fall to be paid by the national Government. The Minister, even with the suppression of other schemes, had such a pathetically small sum at his disposal for the augmentation of the disadvantaged areas scheme that he had a brainwave. He got out his map of the disadvantaged areas——

Acting Chairman

That is not relevant to the Bill.

It has a lot to do with the financing of agriculture.

Acting Chairman

It is more relevant to the Estimate for the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. The Deputy is wandering. I am trying to keep him in line.

I explained earlier that the Government are under a very serious disadvantage. As far as agriculture is concerned they appear to be totally uninformed. They are not aware of what is going on. I referred the House to the Parliamentary Secretary's speech and to the airy, smug, incredibly insensitive observations contained in that nice little essay. I refer to it again. A totally unwarrantable assertion was made by the Parliamentary Secretary. He said:

Farm prices are recovering after the temporary set-back in 1974 and, with a growing confidence in the future of their business, farmers will no doubt increase their investment in land improvement, in livestock, farm buildings, equipment and other facilities.

That is nice stuff. I would say that the civil servant who wrote that probably got honours in his Leaving Certificate, but he did not understand farming. That is for certain.

I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary how the draftsman who wrote this wonderful concoction justifies saying: "Farm prices are recovering after the temporary setback in 1974..." when calves are being given away in abandoned marts for the auction fees it took to enter them to bring them into the marts? Yet the Parliamentary Secretary is like the boy in the poem long ago who "bore mid snow and ice a banner with a strange device". He is totally unaware.

Mr. Kenny

Excelsior. We are raising the ceiling from £120 million to £220 million.

Where will you get it?

Or does that matter?

Mr. Kenny

People should never ask where the money is coming from. As long as you have the money never mind about the source and that applies to an awful lot in this world.

It is a pity to see a person like the Parliamentary Secretary having to carry the can.

Mr. Kenny

What can?

I hate to interrupt this very cosy little conversation the Parliamentary Secretary and his friends are having across the floor of the House, but you and I have business to do and we must get on with it, and one must be relevant. There is nothing more relevant than the poverty that is being inflicted upon the agricultural industry by the Coalition Government. There is, therefore, the awful necessity to provide some kind of life-line for them. I realise that access to credit for farmers must be provided even by the National Coalition but that is not really the cure for the agricultural situation. We will have to adopt more radical methods to put the country back in the condition it was in 1973 when we left office. The restoration of our shattered herds and the rebuilding of the numbers that have been so shockingly depleted by the National Coalition will take quite a long time and a lot of effort and a lot of agricultural credit that may or may not be assisted by the terms of this Bill. We have the capacity and the will to do it. We will be applying ourselves to that task in due course.

I want to refer briefly to an odd provision in section 4 of this Bill wherein it is provided:

There shall be paid by the Corporation to its chief officer such remuneration and allowances as the Corporation, with the consent of the Minister for the Public Service, shall determine.

In recent times we have seen the elevation of the director of the propaganda machine to an even more exalted position where he will direct Radio na Gaeltachta and direct them, no doubt, on the right lines as far as the National Coalition are concerned.

Acting Chairman

As the period of an hour allotted for this stage has expired I am, in accordance with the Order of the Dáil of 9th July, putting the question that the Bill be now read a Second Time. Is that agreed?

On which clock?

Acting Chairman

The clock in front of me.

We cannot see that clock.

Acting Chairman

The time is 3 o'clock, Deputy, whether you like it or not.

I think the Parliamentary Secretary would be responsible for the clock.

Mr. Kenny

It is not possible.

Is the Second Stage agreed?

Question put and agreed to.

Committee Stage? It was agreed not to take it this evening.

Can we now take it that Committee Stage will be taken tomorrow?

The Committee Stage of the Bill to be taken tomorrow. Is that so?

Mr. Kenny

Yes.

I do not know what our orders are for the day.

It was to be taken this evening but I understand the Whips have agreed to have a sos at the time fixed this evening between 7.30 and 8.30. Is that not so?

We only want to do what we are told.

We are only here to oblige.

Committee Stage ordered for Thursday, 17th July, 1975.