Private Members' Business. - Common Agricultural Policy Reform Proposals: Motion.

I move:

That Dáil Éireann notes with concern the seriously damaging effect on the Irish economy that is likely to flow from the proposals by the EC Commissioner for Agriculture to reform the Common Agricultural Policy and, therefore requests the Government to:

(a) request the Economic and Social Research Institute to do a comprehensive economic analysis of the total effect of these proposals, over the next ten years, on employment and incomes in Ireland in all sectors of the economy;

(b) establish an all party committee of Dáil Éireann to simultaneously conduct hearings on these proposals so as to identify the full effects that they will have on Irish economic and social life,

(c) request the Government, once the studies referred to at (a) and (b) are completed, to arrange for the Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture and Food to visit all European capitals to explain the full effect that these proposals would have on the Irish economy, and to ensure that these proposals are not adopted in their present form.

I wish to give five minutes of the 20 minutes allocated to Deputy Hogan.

Is that agreed? Agreed.

We accept that the Common Agricultural policy is in need of reform but we are determined that such reform will not damage the country's economy. Ireland's dependence on agriculture is so considerable in comparison with our northern European partners that our special position on agricultural matters will have to be taken into account when final proposals on reform are being framed.

In recent months we have seen several documents relating to the proposed reform. The original leaked document from the Commission citing the actual cuts and changes envisaged by the Commission is probably quite close to the eventual package which will be sought by Commissioner MacSharry rather than the document put forward to the Council of Ministers on 4 February last. The documents have the same background but there is a stark difference in that the leaked document contained specific figures and the document discussed on 4 February was what one might call a "reflection" paper, full of generalisations but little or no specifics.

We can assume that the leaked document was the real document, the fact that it was leaked caused considerable embarrassment and it could not be discussed in its entirety at the subsequent meeting of the Council of Ministers. We got a very limited, or watered down, version of what we know is being proposed. Commissioner MacSharry said in the last few days that the document — whether it was the leaked document or the one which was discussed by the Council of Ministers — was only one of a number of different hypotheses. We feel it was the real thing and that maybe, in the interim, the Commissioner softened his tone because of the sense of outrage in the agricultural sector here. There was quite a clear indication of that last week in the European Parliament when Commissioner MacSharry indicated he felt that the budgetary measures would not be sufficient to fund the proposals which he outlined in the original document.

The proposals listed, if implemented, would devastate Irish agriculture and cause considerable damage to the economy. The best analysis I have seen to date has been drawn up by the Irish Co-operative Society which indicates an annual loss to the economy of about £600 million. The chairman of Teagasc forecasts a loss to the economy of £1,000 million; he is fairly flaithiúl and debonair in the way he bandies figures about, nevertheless that was the figure he put on the cost to the economy.

The ICOS estimate that the proposed cuts would force 22,000 farmers off the land and cause knock-on job losses of 16,000 in associated industries. That is the severity of the proposal, a huge cost to the economy and huge job losses. As late as today, I saw an article by the previous president of the Irish Farmers' Association, Mr. Tom Clinton, in which he said he believed that the proposal, if implemented, would drive 50,000 dairy farmers — and farmers in general — out of the agricultural industry here. That is a considerably greater figure than the one put forward by the ICOS but there are a varying number of estimates and it is one of the reasons for this motion.

An independent body, such as the ESRI, should carry out a comprehensive analysis to confirm or contradict the studies conducted by the ICOS and the farming organisations. All their figures are extremely high and all indicate severe damage, not just to agriculture, but to the economy. However, some people have been crying wolf so long and so loudly that we do not expect they will be taken seriously in Brussels. We suspect that they will not be treated with the respect we would like to see. Therefore, an independent body like the ESRI should do this job to add credibility to our case. I am not saying that the farming organisations are leading people astray but they would not have the same resources as a body such as the ESRI to carry out a study. The farming organisations have made a very serious attempt in this regard and we owe them a certain amount of gratitude for carrying out a survey, doing an analysis and giving an estimate. All the surveys point in a downward direction as far as the economy is concerned and, in particular, where farm incomes and agriculture in general are concerned.

Such an independent study from the ESRI is necessary to satisfy the general public — who are fairly sceptical about subjective analysis — and our fellow members in the Community of the serious consequences the proposed measures would have on our economy.

The ESRI have an outstanding international reputation, having been commissioned for many reports by the EC. Their ability is well known within the Community. Quite frequently they do surveys and analyses for the EC and a study done by them would carry great weight in Brussels and in the capitals of Europe. Other countries would take note if the study were independent. Additionally, it is imperative that those engaged in the agricultural industry and associated groups to be given an opportunity to put their case to an all-party committee of the Dáil. It is extremely desirable that those affected should be able to express their views on matters which will affect their lives and livelihoods for many years to come.

I was Minister for Agriculture for four years and the only thing I can remember was all the abuse and invective and irresponsible statements which emanated from the then Opposition, the Fianna Fáil Party. We never had a constructive suggestion. We never had a constructive contribution from the Fianna Fáil side of the House in those four years. I notice Deputy Jimmy Leonard is smiling. He knows it better than anybody else because he was one of the few responsible Deputies on the Fianna Fáil benches who had a contribution to make. He was constructive and he was a gentleman.

He still is.

I can only compare the rest to a pack of baying hounds who could not utter a single sentence without being abusive. This evening we are trying to engender some reason into the discussion because of the terrible possibilities contained in these proposals, leaked or otherwise. Under the findings of these studies the Government will be in a much stronger position to press for favourable treatment when reforms are being proposed. It will be essential for the Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture and Food to impress upon their counterparts in the EC the damage across-the-board cuts such as outlined in the leaked document would do to the Irish economy.

It is my firm conviction that Commissioner MacSharry does not fully understand the implications of his own proposals for Irish farmers and the Irish economy. The proposals are in line with the demands being made of the EC by the US in the course of the now deadlocked GATT talks. The industrial nations of the EC and those with a highly geared farm structure, such as Denmark and Holland, can withstand the rigours of the cuts being put forward. National aid, be it subsidies or direct payments, will be the order of the day if these proposals come into being. We in this country will not be able to provide that type of national aid; those countries will, so we will be at a tremendous disadvantage.

Our salvation lies with exemptions, or derogations as they are better known, within the Community. There is no way the economy can suffer an annual loss of £600 million and an overall loss of 38,000 jobs because of the proposals. The Minister will say they are only proposals but my experience is that proposals have a habit of becoming reality. I have no doubt that unless we put up a stern fight — it will be up to us because very few others will do it and at the end of the day we may well be on our own — those proposals will become reality. That is why we must start now.

No farmer, big or small, will be exempt. I want to knock the lie coming out of Brussels and from Commissioner MacSharry that small farmers will be exempt. They will not because the keynote of these proposals is price reductions. They may escape the worst quota reductions for milk but they cannot escape the price reductions. The proposals are aimed to bring the prices of agricultural commodities in this country down to world prices which are approximately half the prices Irish farmers are getting today. We are heading towards a beef price of 50p per lb and 50p per gallon of milk. Those are approximately world prices and it is the Commission's intention to remove all forms of farm support whether internally in the form of intervention or externally in the form of export refunds.

The tone running through this document is that those supports are to be withdrawn. We are tending towards world prices which will devastate farming in this country and put maybe 38,000 — as the ICOS say — or 50,000 — as a former President of the IFA said — people out of work in this part of the island. We had a 16 per cent drop in farm incomes last year. The projection for this year is the price package goes through as proposed in Brussels is for a drop of 11 per cent. That is an accumulated drop in farm incomes over two years of 27 per cent and probably another 27 per cent if the Commissioner's proposals on the reform of the CAP go through.

I thank the Deputy for allowing me to share his time.

There is widespread confusion and dis-illusionment in the agriculture industry at present compounded by Commissioner MacSharry and the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Deputy O'Kennedy. On the one hand Commissioner Mac-Sharry is engaged in a massive public relations exercise seeking to give the impression that his massive CAP cuts will not impact on Irish farmers, while the Minister, Deputy O'Kennedy, stands idly by without a notion how to cope with this reality. This only adds to the total confusion in the farming community. The Minister for Agriculture and Food gives the impression the Government can do nothing domestically at the moment in relation to this matter and that our agricultural policy is totally dependent on what happens in the EC. I call on the Minister for Agriculture and Food this evening to implement the following measures that would assist farmers incomes.

First, the entire country should be declared disadvantaged and EC funding sought as part of our compensation for cuts in the CAP and as a result of the GATT negotiations. It is disgraceful that the Government have taken four years to finalise our national submission under the present review of this scheme with officials from the Department of Agriculture and Food flying over to Brussels and back to correct mistakes in order to meet EC regulations. That is the impression the farming community are getting about this matter. This is disgraceful.

The Minister has considered an appeals body in respect of representations of various agricultural bodies and land commissioners on the appeal system with no reference to the United Farmers Association or Macra na Feirme, agricultural organisations. Surely this adds insult to injury to a farming community who are seeking an explanation about leaked versions of proposals in relation to disadvantaged areas that have been submitted to Brussels. The appeals mechanism was an opportunity for the Minister to do the necessary explaining why certain townlands are included and others are not.

Second, farmers need finance for working capital at the lowest possible interest rate. This could be achieved by borrowing money from Europe at 10 per cent if the Government have the will to underwrite the exchange rate risk, as was done in 1984 when the then Fine Gael-Labour Coalition Government made money available at 5 per cent for working capital. This, in some measure, was responsible for the turnaround in depressed farm incomes at the time.

Finally, it is imperative that a special case be made on behalf of Ireland by the Taoiseach at the highest European level to convince our European colleagues that agriculture is a major industry in this country in terms of jobs and exports. It is time the Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture and Food showed they have a special relationship since our so-called Presidency of Europe rather than mere public relations.

With the permission of the House I wish to share some of my time with Deputy Clohessy.

I move amendment No. 1:

To delete all words after "Dáil Éireann" and substitute the following:

"notes and supports the efforts of the Minister for Agriculture and Food to have the forthcoming negotiations on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy progressed in a way that best promotes the interests of Irish farmers and the longer-term development of our agricultural economy."

I welcome this debate. It is very timely, even though the terms of Deputy Deasy's motion are not appropriate. There are, in fact, no formal proposals for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and, therefore, formally calling for studies of their impact is, to say the least, premature. When proposals come on the table they will, of course, be quantified as all important proposals are. The Irish approach to the negotiations will be informed among other things by the result of that quantification.

I welcome the debate, however, because it gives us an opportunity to tease out the direction in which we would wish to see reform of the CAP go, and make no mistake about it, there will be proposals for substantial changes in the Community's agricultural policy in the near future. Inevitably, these proposals will result in real change. Even if the GATT negotiations never existed, pressure from a variety of factors make change a certainty. The question for us is not, therefore, whether there should be change but rather what aims we wish to see furthered in that change and how these aims should be attained.

Before going on to detail the Government's approach to CAP reorientation, I would like to comment briefly on the background to the public discussion which is currently under way in relation to this matter. In sketching the essential background I would hope to dispel some of the confusion which has, unfortunately, attended this issue and which has, in turn, given rise to some misplaced comment.

Last January a paper was leaked from within the EC Commission which contained ideas and suggestion for a radical re-orientation of CAP support. The Minister, Deputy Michael O'Kennedy, understandably refrained from commenting officially on this unauthorised "leak" and indeed the agriculture Commissioner, Mr. Ray MacSharry, has since been publicly quoted as saying that neither he nor his Commission colleagues are irrevocably committed to the specific ideas which the leaked document contained. As such, that document has no particular status and it may yet be the case that when they are eventually presented, the Commission's formal reform proposals will differ significantly from the ideas outlined in the January paper. That is why formally calling for its quantification is inappropriate, although I should inform the House that the Department have, of course, looked at its implications in some detail and furthermore the ESRI are, in any event, doing some work on its economic impact.

It is not, however, the precise detail of the document which should concern us — this, as I have said, could eventually be significantly changed — rather, it is the thinking behind the document and the way in which it envisages agricultural support moving in the future on which we should be focusing. This was set out in a formal paper submitted by the Commission to the Council of Ministers at its meeting in early February. This reflections paper envisages the most radical overhauls of the mechanisms of the CAP since the inception of the policy. It has been tabled by the Commission against the background of a deep, current crisis in Community agriculture the major manifestations of which are that budgetary costs are escalating rapidly, up 20 per cent compared with 1990; major market sectors, notably beef, milk and cereals, are displaying chronic imbalance and intervention stocks are mounting inexorably; and producers' incomes throughout the Community are failing to reflect increasing budgetary spending on agriculture.

In the light of this scenario, the Commission argues that the fundamental objectives of its suggested reform are to reorientate policy socially and economically so as to ensure that sufficient numbers of farmers are kept on the land, that the natural environment is preserved and that rural development is further stimulated.

In its document, the Commission suggests controlling surplus production and attaining market balance using such traditional instruments as price policy and quantitative controls but also proposes support for extensive production and measures which are specifically environment oriented. In addition, there would be a redistribution of support and compensatory measures — including direct income aids — which would, it is suggested, cushion small and medium sized producers from the adverse effects of reduced price and intervention support. Regional aspects, in particular the requirements of the less favoured areas, would also be addressed in the course of the overall reform exercise.

More specifically, cereals prices would be reduced to make them more competitive with imported substitutes and compensation on the basis of an aid per hectare would be paid to all producers with full compensation for smaller producers and partial compensation for others. In the Commission's view, the reduction in cereals prices would, in turn, allow for a downward adjustment of prices in the livestock sector, with livestock farmers being compensated through increased premiums.

The Commission's thinking would also assign farmers a greater role in protecting the rural environment and preserving the countryside and, accordingly, farmers would be encouraged to use environmentally friendly methods and to participate more actively in long term set aside schemes involving the promotion of afforestation.

In the course of the preliminary Council debate which followed the presentation of the Commission's reflections, there emerged a general consensus that fundamental CAP reform is now unavoidable. There was, however, a wide divergence of views as regards the precise form which the necessary reforms might take. On the basis of the Council's initial exchange, however, Commissioner Mac-Sharry has undertaken to formulate detailed reform proposals and to present these formally to a future Council. As of now, it is expected that these proposals will be tabled by June but needless to say, the Minister has already given a clear indication of Ireland's likely priorities in the forthcoming discussions.

We start from the position that the primary objectives of the CAP, as laid down in Article 39 of the Rome Treaty, are as valid today as when they were originally adopted. These cannot be called into question. Furthermore, the policy must give effect to these principles in an effective way. For Ireland, therefore — and the Minister has already stated this in the Council — it is essential that whatever concrete proposals are eventually tabled will not be such as would undermine the effectiveness of the CAP. The Commission has, in fact, acknowledged that, whatever the nature of the proposed reforms, the CAP must continue to be based on its fundamental principles: a single market, Community preference and financial solidarity. But we must ensure that the policy solidly respects these principles in practice and not just in theory.

Time and again the Government have stated unequivocally their commitment to ensuring the continued viability of our agriculture and food industry, to maintenance of the fundamental principles of the CAP and to seeing that Irish vital national interests are safeguarded. Most recently, these commitments, together with a firm undertaking to maintain the maximum number of fullime, commercially viable family farm units, have been reiterated in the context of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress and I can promise the House that these commitments will inform our attitude towards the coming negotiations.

We accept, of course, that adjustments are inevitable, partly for the reasons already outlined and partly — although this is not necessarily being tied into the process at this stage — for GATT reasons. The Minister, however, has strongly underlined that change must not only respect the considerations I have already outlined but also be proportionate to the problems we face. A root and branch reform which goes beyond what is required at this time is unnecessary, untimely and undesirable and will not be supported.

What we must face up to is the fact that the policy will have to be more open to the market in the future and less dependent on Community support mechanisms. As well as being necessary, it is desirable. A long term future cannot be built on intervention and subsidy dependency. Such a policy development must mean some adjustment of support prices and some tighter supply control. What is important is that this takes place gradually and in a balanced way.

It is also important — and here we have no quarrel with the Commission's aim — that, if adjustment means some sacrifices for producers, smaller scale and other vulnerable producers are reasonably protected. Where we may have difficulty is in how this is to be done. Certainly, proposals which, while to some degree helping vulnerable producers, would undermine the more commercial element of our agriculture could not be justified. Here again it is a question of the degree and the speed of change which is at issue as well as finding a range of instruments — not all of which involve market supports — to protect smaller scale producers.

Most importantly, changes in support arrangements cannot be allowed undermine the competitiveness of grass based livestock production which is central to the Irish agricultural economy. The general thrust of the Commission's approach would, unfortunately, do this. Very much lower cereals prices will reduce the costs of livestock production but not for those who produce mostly from grass. Yet under the Commission approach cereal producers would, to varying degrees, receive direct compensation and producers of livestock from non-grass feed indirect compensation, while our more extensive grass based production would simply have its competitive position undermined. This cannot be justified on economic or social grounds. It is not, of course, impossible to find solutions to our problems in this regard and all our energies will be devoted in the negotiations to emphasising to our partners the critical nature of this question for us.

It is worth recalling at this stage that, while the Commission's approach is not directly being related to the GATT negotiations, these are a major factor in the background. Any policy adjustments made within the Community will inevitably count towards whatever we are eventually required to do if there is a GATT agreement. When the Community's GATT offer was agreed last November, the Council accepted that in its implementation account would be taken of the particularly difficult situation of certain categories of producers and regions. At the same time the Commission indicated that it would bring forward proposals for complementary measures, involving Community financial solidarity, aimed at offering a viable future to Community farmers through ensuring the competitiveness of European agriculture, guaranteeing appropriate levels of income support and reinforcing structural assistance. The Minister, Deputy O'Kennedy, has underlined the importance he attaches to these commitments in the context both of the GATT outcome and CAP reform process. Ireland will press consistently to ensure that these are fully honoured in the eventual decisions.

Before we move to the longer term Commission proposals we have, of course, to deal with the price proposals for the coming marketing year. These were formally tabled at the beginning of this month and will be subject to resumed discussions in the Council of Ministers at the beginning of next week. In the light of the budgetary difficulties to which I have already referred and given the Commission's overriding concern to ensure that the agricultural guideline — the limit on FEOGA spending which was decided by the European Council in 1988 — is respected in the current year, it is not surprising perhaps that the 1991-92 price proposals are extremely restrictive and set in a short term time frame. Predictably, price cuts of varying degrees of severity are proposed for most products; a 2 per cent reduction in milk quotas and the elimination of "safety net" intervention for beef are also envisaged.

I need hardly say that these proposals cause us all extreme concern. It is abundantly clear that livestock products would be severely affected and this obviously is a specific aspect which we shall seek to redress during the forthcoming negotiations. The sheepmeat, cereals and sugar sectors would also have to bear cutbacks, as would sectors of lesser importance here. This House needs no reminding that 1990 was an extremely difficult year for Irish agriculture and that farm income registered a serious decline for the first time since 1986. The international trading environment remains unfavourable and the high level of intervention stocks for the major EC commodities will continue to put pressure on markets for some considerable time. Developments in the Gulf have undoubtedly had profound political and economic consequences, while events in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe add to the general uncertainty and complexity of the situation. In these circumstances and having regard to the likely implications for Irish producers both of the GATT negotiations and the longer term CAP reorientation, it is, in our view, totally inappropriate that the Commission should at this point be proposing such far reaching adjustments to the various market mechanisms.

I do not deny that the Commission are now under considerable budgetary pressure or that intervention stocks, particularly for beef and cereals, have again reached unsustainable levels. We would argue, however, that the Commission are still not justified in drawing structural conclusions on the basis of factors which I believe will, in many cases, prove comparatively short lived. It is also a fact that the Community's budgetary control has improved in recent years, the present threat to the guideline notwithstanding. Also, we have argued strongly that some exceptional allowance must be made for the budgetary and market consequences of German unification.

Ireland's approach to the forthcoming price negotiations will be a constructive one. This, however, does not imply that we are willing to compromise the future livelihoods of Irish producers or that we are ready to contemplate support withdrawal to such an extent that the viability of Irish agriculture and the rural lifestyle which it sustains would be undermined. Accordingly, the Minister is determined to seek substantive adjustment to the Commission's proposals as presented and to do his utmost to ensure that the various commitments which the Government have given in relation to agriculture are delivered upon. We are pressing for a much less restrictive package. I said earlier, nobody is opposing the idea that the policy needs adjustment. This is of fundamental importance and requires detailed proposals from the Commission which we do not yet have. When they are available, all the institutions of the Community will need to reflect on their implications for agriculture and economies generally, with this reflection being followed by a patient negotiating process.

None of us can claim to have all the answers to all the problems facing us. We have, however, clear ideas on the type of agri-food industry and the type of rural economies we wish to see. The task before us is to adjust our support system in a way that facilitates rather than prevents the establishment of what we wish to see in place. Negotiations on this will be difficult and complex. They are not helped by some of the proposals which the Commission has tabled in this package. We will be arguing that the best approach for the coming year is to reach decisions largely confined to what is technically necessary and to bring forward the longer term proposals at the earliest possible date. Our energies should be spent dealing with those rather than on essentially short term proposals.

I would like to return to the longer term issues before concluding. It is important to put these in context and also to avoid losing heart and creating a feeling that we have lost the war before the first battle begins.

We are faced with a GATT negotiation which will be difficult but in which the Community has not lost sight of its interests or of where it is prepared to go. We have a definite Community offer which, if accepted, would ensure that the fundamentals of the CAP are preserved, even if there is some reduction in overall support levels. We will be insisting that the Community stick to its guns on this. We have obtained commitments on how we would implement GATT obligations and on the safeguards and complementary measures which would be put in place. The Minister will be insisting on these commitments being honoured.

It is against that background that the Commission's approach to the reform off the CAP has to be seen and where we disagree with that approach it is to the extent that it conflicts with those commitments. But it is important to remind ourselves that on many of the Commission's aims we are in agreement and that there are important elements in their approach we can support or at least accept. The most important of these are the underlining of the importance of preserving the fundamental principles of the CAP; the need to maintain competitive Community agriculture; the need to create a balance between price policy and supply control and, in that context, the increased emphasis on set-a-side in the case of cereals and related crops; the importance being given to environmental issues and the necessity to support more extensive farming systems; some switch in emphasis from intervention support to direct livestock payments, and the emphasis being placed on the protection of smaller scale and other vulnerable producers. We can build on these elements in a way that will ensure that reform will lead to a tighter, more effective and more viable policy in the future.

But we can only do that if we can get the Commission and our partners to accept that some elements in the approach go directly contrary to a number of the aims which I have already listed. In particular, the way in which support would be adjusted between different levels of farm production and, if the leaks turn out to be correct, the way in which intensity of production would be measured could undermine the competitiveness of much of Community agriculture. In our case the degree to which the balance would swing against grass based production, without appropriate compensation built into the relevant market organisations, would be a particular and critically overriding factor.

Our first task in the negotiations is to try to ensure that these central elements are changed and I believe we can rely on the support of all of Irish society in this. Our second task is to get a clear acceptance that, if there has to be a tightening of policy — and everybody accepts that there has — then economies such as Ireland's with their heavy dependence on agriculture, are the most vulnerable and will suffer the most in social and economic terms from the adjustment. If the commitments regarding taking account of the needs of the regions most affected are to be honoured — and it is a prime Government aim that they should — then elements in the proposals which hit hardest at those regions must be changed and adequate Community financial resources must be provided to fund suitable compensatory measures to meet their adjustment needs.

These resources would be primarily, but not exclusively, in the agricultural area and their provision is likely to require adjustments to existing arrangements.

The Minister has indicated that, as the budgetary problem which is one of the factors which dictated the form of the current price proposals is, in part, due to the costs of German unification, those costs should be met outside the guideline for agricultural expenditure. This is clearly logical and in line with earlier commitments. Obviously, the Minister is concerned that such a solution would continue into future years. But the question of resources goes further than that. If there is to be a partial but significant adjustment in the way in which CAP support is provided then the policy — including compensatory measures — will require additional funding for the foreseeable future. This will require new decisions in regard to the agricultural guidelines or the provision of new funding in some other way. Ireland will insist that adequate Community resources are provided to meet the needs of the policy as it emerges from the reorientation negotiations.

In all of this we are not alone. Many member states share our views both on the way in which policy should be adjusted and the need to provide for adequate compensatory arrangements. While we have always known this, in order to copperfasten that support the Minister and his officials have been engaged in a series of meetings with the Commission and our partners in recent months in particular. That process is continuing and will intensify in the weeks and months ahead. The Government as a whole, in the GATT context and in the context of agricultural policy adjustment, have made their position abundantly clear. For all of these reasons there is no need for this House to adopt motions such as the one suggested. We do not need to call for a special analysis of the effects of the Commission's suggested approach or for a Dáil committee to look at its implications. Full analysis is not possible until the detailed proposals are made and, to the extent that some analysis is possible at this stage, it is already being done. I have clearly indicated that the implications of the approach are well understood both for the agriculture sector and for the economy as a whole. The Minister, and the Government, are using all appropriate means in bilateral discussions and at Council to put across the Irish view of what needs to be done and of the consequences for the whole Irish economy if the eventual decisions to not take adequate account of that view.

We are confident that at the end of the day the decisions taken will be the right ones. We believe that our view of what needs to be done is sensible and that we can rely on the understanding of our partners and on Community solidarity to ensure that the balance of policy adjustments will not significantly disadvantage any region, particularly any of the Community's more vulnerable regions. What we need now is to stick to our view in the negotiations and to have the full support of all sections of Irish society for that position. The House can give voice to that support tonight by supporting my amendment which I now commend to all Deputies. I will give the remainder of my time to Deputy Clohessy.

The Deputy has eight minutes.

I would like to thank the Minister for allowing me some time to make my points. The Progressive Democrats believe that the proposals to reform the CAP advanced by Commissioner MacSharry, along with the GATT negotiations and, indeed, this year's EC farm price package, add up to a very serious threat to the viability of Irish agriculture, the family farm and, indeed, the entire national economy. This is a crisis not only for those engaged directly in agriculture but it reaches far beyond the farm gate because of the importance of this industry to our economy.

Agriculture is three times as important to Ireland as to the average member of the European Community and is the source of one-fifth of the jobs here. The Progressive Democrats accept that there must be reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and that the steady rise in intervention stocks cannot go on indefinitely. However, the price of reform is crucial and that is what is most alarming about the present proposals by Commissioner MacSharry. While I know he has yet to bring forward more detailed measures, the worrying factor is that the preliminary document he has tabled will cost the country between £300 million and £400 million. That would be a national catastrophe and not just a catastrophe for the agricultural sector alone. Another worrying feature of the preliminary proposals by Commissioner MacSharry is that they could set one group of farmers against another in Ireland and would decimate much of our commercial farming sector. Such a policy is totally unacceptable. By international standards Ireland has relatively few big farmers. We must remember also that our commercial farming sector is the backbone of our food processing industry which is the key to ensuring that we can build internationally competitive food companies.

It is absolutely essential that whatever the final outcome of the GATT negotiations and the reform of the CAP, Ireland's vital national interest as far as agriculture is concerned is protected. I am satisfied that this is a priority of the Coalition Government.

My party recently published a detailed policy document on reform of the CAP. In it we called for the establishment of a national policy forum to agree a national consensus on how the CAP should be reformed from the Irish point of view. We would favour such a national forum in which all farm organisations, together with other interested bodies, such as the IDA, the CII, the trade union movement and the various agri-business sectors, would have the opportunity to have their say over a two or three day session. Because of the huge national importance of the agricultural sector, which reaches far beyond the farm gate, I do not envisage such a forum being divisive or confrontational. Parties on all sides of the House along with representatives of industrial and commercial interests share a common interest in seeking to ensure that the overall benefits of the CAP are retained for this country in one form or another.

It is obvious that over time there must be a greater equalisation between farm prices within the Community and world market levels, but this cannot be achieved overnight and not in a fashion that would simply devastate Irish agriculture. Our primary concern must be to ensure a decent livelihood on the land for the maximum number of farm families. We must also ensure that agricultural production continues to provide the raw materials for an internationally viable and commercial food processing sector here. We have great natural advantages in food processing, such as the relative non pollution of our countryside and our reputation as a green unspoiled location. We cannot allow any reform of Community agricultural policy to destroy these natural advantages and in the process destroy also thousands of jobs so badly needed in our economy.

I support the Minister's proposals. We are in a serious situation at present. The Opposition spokesperson mentioned some figures but, unfortunately, figures have been thrown about like confetti at a wedding.

A Deputy suggested that the ESRI should carry out a survey. It would not be any harm if a survey was carried out so that we would get factual figures relating to the effects of the proposals in the document that was leaked because that forms the basis of our discussion.

Hear hear.

We have to agree that production should relate to the reality. We have to accept that we can no longer produce massive quantities without setting ourselves the task of disposing of our produce. With due respects to our selling agencies, the day that 90 per cent of our produce goes into intervention——

That is partly Government policy.

It is not. At the Green Fair in Berlin, RTE interviewed an exporter who claimed he had a market for our beef but he could not compete with the intervention price. We face a problem in that regard. In the dairy sector we have low fat spreads.

Acting Chairman

I ask the Deputy to conclude.

In conclusion, there must be more regulation of the market and we must act responsibly.

First, may I inquire if The Workers' Party have been allocated time in this debate?

Acting Chairman

Your side of the House, Deputy, have 30 minutes.

I seek your permission to share my time with Deputy Foxe and Deputy Sherlock?

I was advised by the party Whip that we would have 20 minutes. What has changed?

Acting Chairman

Nothing has changed, Deputy.

The only thing that has changed is that you were not in in time, Deputy.

Acting Chairman

The Fine Gael Party opened the debate with 20 minutes. The Government had 30 minutes and the Fine Gael Party have ten minutes to wrap up.

Is the Chair saying that we have no time?

Acting Chairman

I am saying that you are eroding the 30 minutes allocated to Deputy Kavanagh.

The Workers' Party were allowed 20 minutes at the Whips meeting.

Acting Chairman

I have outlined the situation.

The Labour Party will be supporting the motion in the name of the Fine Gael Party. It is a reasonable request that the Government should allow an independent body like the ERSI to examine the proposals from Brussels and, indeed, to examine the Government's response, if there has been a response. We think it is a reasonable request being made by the Government that they should allow an independent body like the Economic and Social Research Institute to look at the proposals coming from Brussels and the Government's response to them if there has been one at all.

Having heard the Minister's speech tonight we should be concerned that there seems to be no leadership in the Department of Agriculture at the moment. There is a need for an outside body to look at the proposals that are coming forward.

It would be useful, too, to set up an all party committee. Certainly my party's approach to agriculture would be different from the approach of the Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Parties and certainly from that of the Progressive Democrats. Our approach to the CAP has certainly been stated by my predecessor in this spokesmanship, Deputy Emmet Stagg, on a number of occasions. We would welcome an all Party committee of this House looking at the situation.

We would have thought that the Taoiseach and the Minister would have been heard much more loudly than they have been in warning of the dangers to our basic industry. Perhaps it would be useful if the Minister and the Taoiseach went around the capitals but I would far prefer to see a much more urgent approach to the statements, to the documents, to the leaks, whatever one calls them that have been emanating from Brussels in recent times.

Back in 1987 a document was issued in very attractive form by the Commission. It was called "The Community: a Brief for European Taxpayers". It was quite clear then what the approach of the Community's budget was to be. Certainly at that time we heard no real response to that document. The version that was given out in Dublin stated that the agriculture share would have to be reduced gradually and funds shifted to policies linked to the third industrial revolution developed within the internal market and to structural operation designed to promote greater cohesion. What that meant in reality was represented in a little graph on this document which showed clearly that between 1987 and 1992 the amount of funds available to agriculture would reduce from 60 per cent — not quite accurate at 60 per cent — in 1987 to 50 per cent in 1992. That money would be taken from the agriculture funds and nine per cent of that ten per cent reduction would go to the Structural Funds. The other one per cent would go to research or some other area. In any event the agriculture moneys were to be reduced and the moneys transferred to increase the other funds available so that when we did get notice of increases in Structural Funds it was not made clear by the Government at the time to the Irish farmers that those funds were coming from their money, that it was not new money or additional money. It was coming directly from agriculture and it was simply a transfer from agriculture to another area.

That is where this Government first blundered in not digging their heels in at the Commission in Brussels or at the Council of Ministers or at European Parliament level. They did not say that they did not like the direction being taken by the European Commission. They did not object. They allowed that proposal to go through and that policy to be the policy of the European Community. Now we have to accept that certain decisions will be made in agriculture that will be most unwelcome to this country. The Minister for Agriculture himself is not in the country. He is probably away on business related to this area. However, if he could have been here, he should have been here, because this is a very important document. The Minister has said that he is sticking by the objectives of the Treaty of Rome in Articles 39 and 40. I wonder if he has read them lately.

He is probably briefing himself on the agricultural petroleum position.

The objective in Article 39 (a) was to increase agricultural productivity, not production, by promoting technical progress and by ensuring rational development of agricultural production and the optimum utilisation of the factors of production, in particular, labour. I would certainly agree that he should have used the labour factor, but from 1972 until 1988 the number of people working in agriculture dropped from almost 0.25 million to 166,000, a drop of around 80,000 people. So the first objective — and that was under various Governments — was not adhered to because of a flight from the land which was unequalled for many years up to then. The second objective was to ensure a fair standard of living for the agricultural community in particular by increasing the individual earnings of persons engaged in agriculture. Again this is one of the objectives that certainly has not been lived up to for many years since we joined the Community.

There was a time in the early seventies when indeed great benefits accrued to some farmers but overall since then the amount of benefit that has accrued to the farming community has been very uneven indeed. This is one of the areas that we, as a party, would like to see being looked at very closely in the investigation to see how the funds transferred under the agricultural heading affected the various sectors. Has it all gone to big farmers? Has it all gone to the people in the factories and the intervention premises? How much has really got through to the farming community? It is well worth while having that proposition looked at by all sides and investigated by a body like the Economic and Social Research Institute. That is why we would like to see this motion being carried, and with, perhaps, the help of our colleagues in the Progressive Democrats, it may be carried when we all finish up here tonight.

The third item in the objectives of Article 39 was to assure the availability of supplies to ensure that supplies reach consumers at reasonable prices. Again one would have to question whether that objective has been adhered to. Certainly with the demands from the Americans in the GATT negotiations one would have to question whether we can stand up for that objective in our negotiations.

In Article 40 we are told that in order to attain the objectives of Article 39 a common organisation of markets shall be established. The three legs of that particular school were the single market, the Community preference and financial solidarity. I am glad to hear the Minister at least say that he still has those objectives in mind. I have to say his performance and his recent lack of intitiative or aggression in defending these articles is very obvious indeed. It was stated in the first paragraph of the famous document that was leaked on 6 December, 1990 that:

The Common Agricultural Policy was created at a time when there was a dearth of most products in Europe.

The document that followed, though not as complete, on 4 February 1991 said:

The Common Agricultural Policy was created at a time when Europe was in deficit for most food products.

We can see that the documents came directly from the same stable with a few changes in the wording.

The methods used to float ideas are not new to the Commission or to Governments here in order to ascertain what may be the reaction to any of their proposals. We have seen such an example in Britain this week when the poll tax proposals were leaked a week before being introduced in the House of Commons. It is an old — though I will not say respected — method of putting across ministerial or departmental proposals so that if they do not appear to go down politically too well they are able to backtrack on them. Certainly these proposals are not being back-tracked. If we take what has already been agreed in the budgetary sense, then it is obvious that these proposals will be fought vigorously.

We have already seen the Minister and the farming leaders at odds. We have seen parades outside these gates today. We have witnessed members of the European Parliament of the Fianna Fáil Party seemingly on the side of the Commissioner for Agriculture, if we listen to Mr. Lane. Yet if we listen to Mark Killilea, MEP, we would not be sure whose side he is on. At one stage he appeared to be talking on behalf of the farming community, though divorcing himself from two farming organisations, and, on another, appeared to be talking for the Government.

One of the great problems encountered by the Fianna Fáil Party in recent years is that their membership of the European Community has been aligned with a group that has absolutely no influence in Europe, no say whatsoever. Rather than follow the example of the British Conservative Party in one aspect at least — who find themselves aligned with a group that also has no influence or power in the European Parliament — they might endeavour to join one of the larger groups where they would have a say, that is, within those groups that influence policy in the EC whether it be the Socialist or Christian Democratic groups——

We will consider it.

They did apply to the Socialist group some years ago and were rejected. They may appear to be making a lot of noise over there, when reported here, but their influence at that level is minimal. Therefore, I can foresee that they will not be influencing people vis-á-vis the Irish position in the European Parliament, a parliament that is gaining support and power as the years progress.

May I inquire how many minutes remain to me?

The Deputy would have until 8.20 p.m. It is a matter for his magnanimity as to how he divides the remaining time. There are two other Deputies offering, Deputies Sherlock and Foxe.

The position advanced here this evening has been underlined by various farming organisations. If we look at the document produced by the Irish Farmers' Association we see there is need to be concerned, particularly when we listen to what Mr. Tom Clinton, former president of the IFA had to say, when he suggested that anything up to 50,000 people would lose their jobs should the proposals emanating from Brussels be implemented. What we heard from the Minister here this evening would lead me to be very worried that the Government have any policy on the present attack on the Common Agricultural Policy.

When I raised the matter of the cutbacks in the price mechanism approximatedly a month ago — a week before they came through — the Minister said he would not deal with any leaks. When the document was leaked from Brussels a week before Christmas he said then also that he would not deal with leaks. Yet both sets of information have been totally confirmed — the cuts proposed in the various commodities when the price mechanisms are being considered are exactly those leaked from Brussels a month ago. We are told what will be their effect on the agricultural community by the Irish Farmers' Association. We are told that the cut in grain prices will be of the order of 42 per cent leading to pig-meat and poultry meat prices falling by 20 per cent, when beef and lamb prices would then be totally undermined. Futhermore, it is contended that our grass based milk production would be penalised if there is a cheap grain policy agreed in aid of Dutch and Danish farmers. It is stated that major cuts in farm prices overall would mean a cut to our economy of approximately £400 million.

The Minister says he cannot take those types of figures on board, at the same time rejecting an idea that any independent body should be allowed investigate them. He also rejects the idea that anybody, other than the Minister or the Government, be allowed put their views forward to a committee of this House or to an independent body investigating these issues. Furthermore, the Minister refuses to acknowledge a third body in agriculture, the newer smaller one, namely the United Farmers' Association who deal specifically with small producers. For example, he will not even give them representation on the board dealing with appeals vis-á-vis disadvantaged areas. It is my view that the Minister is locking himself into an ivory tower which will result in total disaster for our agriculture industry. He appears to assume he has all the answers whereas he certainly has not. His performance to date in his Department would not lead one to be confident of his handling of the GATT negotiations or in dealing with his old friend, Commissioner MacSharry, in Brussels.

This House should support the motion in the name of Deputy Deasy which affords us all an opportunity to air our concerns not only about the present position but also on the part of all of those people to whom the Common Agricultural Policy has not been of any great benefit. Indeed, it has had a negative effect on smaller people within the industry who have witnessed 80 per cent of its benefits go to 20 per cent of the farming community.

There is need for a revision of our overall agriculture industry. Such open discussion should be initiated by the Minister either in this House or by way of the various farming organisations. He should be prepared to take on board what is being said. Nothing I have heard in the course of the Minister's remarks here this evening or in what has been said in this House in recent weeks would lead me to be in any way confident. Were I a farmer I would be most concerned at the Minister's approach in recent months and weeks and at what will be his performance in ensuing weeks and months vis-á-vis this most important industry.

I might suggest that Deputy Sherlock remain in possession until 8.15 p.m.

There is a crisis in Irish farming. The operation of the Common Agricultural Policy — known as CAP — has played a large part in causing that crisis. Present concern should be not to exaggerate the proposal of the EC Commissioner for Agriculture but rather to decide an effective national farming strategy. Rather than fighting an unwinnable battle to preserve the CAP, or some version of it, the Government and farming organisations should be demanding that any reduction in EC farm supports be matched by a compensatory increase in EC Structural Funds for Ireland. In referring to farming organisations I include the UFA who, with 70,000 members, are entitled to be represented but who have been denied a place on the tribunal set up to hear appeals under the disadvantaged areas scheme. I call for their representation.

I might give an example of what the Common Agricultural Policy is all about. I got the best assessment possible from the report of the Commission of the European Community, and that was the communication of the Commission to the Council dated 1 February 1991. It gives a fair indication of what had been happening under the Common Agricultural Policy, known as Price Support, which depends almost exclusively on income supports and price guarantees and is largely proportionate to the volume of production and, therefore, concentrates the greater part of support on the largest and most intensive farms. For example, 6 per cent of cereal farms account for 50 per cent of the surplus area in cereals and for 60 per cent of production; 15 per cent of dairy farms produce 50 per cent of milk in the Community and 10 per cent of beef farms have 50 per cent of beef cattle. The effect of this is, as has been pointed out by the previous speaker, that 80 per cent of the support provided by FEOGA is devoted to 20 per cent of farms which accounts also for the greater part of the land used in agriculture.

The existing system does not take adequate account of the incomes of the vast majority of the small and medium size farmers. The per capita purchasing power of those engaged in agriculture has improved very little over the period 1975 to 1989. This development is all the more worrying in that over the same period the Community's active agricultural population has fallen by 35 per cent. The situation is particularly difficult to accept in the context of the ever-increasing expenditure. Please note that in 1975 the EAGGF guarantee budget was 4.5 billion ecu. This had risen to 11.3 billion ecu in 1980 and to 31.5 billion ecu in 1991, i.e. 11.5 million ecu at constant 1975 prices. That figure has increased three times. I would ask the Minister where that money has gone? Does he really know where it is? I will give him an idea as to where some of it has gone. In this little agricultural country of ours there is one establishment known as Irish Cement Limited who have a quota for 500,000 gallons of milk and got £280,000. Shame on the Government and the previous Government that allowed that company to get £280,000 in this country where farmers are going on the dole every other day and who are using their land to make a living.

Successive Irish Governments have been afraid to offend any of the various conflicting interest groups involved and have failed to come up with a clearly focused development policy for Irish agriculture. We have natural advantages to allow a prosperous, vibrant and well organised farm industry to compete successfully in more open markets, and for too long Irish farmers have been weaned on a diet of State hand-outs instead of the idea of an enterprising, efficient community. I call for the support to go directly to the small and medium size farmers. That is the only way there can be an equitable distribution of the vast amount of funding coming from the European Community. For that reason now is the time to do something specifically and specially for those people.

According to the motion the ESRI would carry out an economic analysis of the effects of the current proposals in Europe as regards agriculture. Unfortunately, Deputy Deasy did not suggest what period it would take the ESRI to carry out such an analysis and make a report on which the Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture and Food, who ever they would be at that time, could be briefed to canvass support for our country in the various European countries. Would that not be closing the stable door when the horse is gone or does Deputy Deasy think that such an analysis could be carried out in a very short period? If that could be done then I certainly would be in favour of it. Very often such analyses take the best part of 12 months. If that was the timescale involved it would defeat the whole purpose of the motion.

It is also proposed that an all-party Dáil committee be set up and this is something with which I agree. Over the past 18 months I have heard from many different sources that an all-party committee should be set up to solve certain problems. I do not think that so far any such committee has been set up. Perhaps it is daydreaming to think that this will be an exception, even though it is a good suggestion.

According to Teagasc — the body which provides advice on agriculture to farmers and other bodies — if the current proposals came to fruition they will cost the Irish farming community approximately £1,000 million and lead to a reduction in farming numbers of 20 per cent. The employment scene is not the greatest at present, with almost 250,000 unemployed. If 20 per cent of farmers go out of business that will have the effect of putting almost 100,000 people extra on the dole. That is hardly the most desirable situation.

There must be something seriously wrong in the world when in one part millions of people are dying of starvation and yet countries, such as ours and other European countries, are penalised for producing food. Perhaps the day will come in the not too distant future when some organisation, similar to the World Health Organisation will be set up for the purpose of providing a more equitable distribution of wealth and food.

No doubt changes will come about in the Common Agricultural Policy but whatever changes are brought about there should still be support for the small farmers and the farm families who have been listening to much talk about preserving the farm families and the farming communities from many quarters over the last decades. Perhaps those older people here will remember those things being said in their younger days also. This is time for practical support for such an event. In addition to supporting the small farms, factory farming should be curtailed even to the extent of withdrawing financial support from produce produced on such farms.

European agriculture should be such as to meet the economic and social needs of the Europeans and not the political demands of the US and other GATT partners. We should have free trade within Europe. We should have Community preference whereby goods produced by European farmers would get preference over imported goods and also there should be financial solidarity where funding would be provided for the different countries from the EC budget and not from the national budgets.

I wish to share my last ten minutes with Deputy Farrelly who has agreed to take the first five minutes.

I should like to thank Deputy Deasy for sharing his time with me. It was only while listening to the debate this evening that I realised why the Government have no intention of repairing our county roads. It was evident listening to the Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food that the Government believe that in a few years time 50 per cent of the people who live down those roads will be gone. and there will be no need to repair them. That is the message I have taken from this debate.

Before Commissioner MacSharry went to Europe he was known here as "Mac the Knife." He got into the fast lane in Europe by driving a self-propelled harvester through the small farmers of the EC. As a country with 15 per cent of the total population depending on agriculture I do not believe we should have to accept constraints imposed on us by the European Community when no other country is being asked to accept these constraints in the GATT negotiations. We have quotas but they have none. Some proposal should be put forward in this respect at the negotiations.

It has been said on a number of occasions that food will be cheaper as a result of the proposed changes. Food will be cheaper until the competitors are got out of the way and then prices will rise again. As the only island nation in Europe we should be fighting for derogations to help our small farmers. It is possible under the proposals that there will be a 50 per cent reduction in the number of people on the land here between now and the year 2000.

In a very worthwhile PR exercise Commissioner MacSharry tried to give the impression that money would be taken from the bigger farmers and given to the smaller farmers. Every farmer will be affected in some way by these proposals. Commissioner MacSharry has said that we must curtail the efficient farmers. Indeed, some Members of Fianna Fáil have said we must curtail the efficient farmers. If they do this they will be killing off the goose which has laid the golden egg here over the past number of years.

I should like to know the number of jobs outside of agriculture which will be lost under the present proposals. It is estimated that 22,000 jobs will be lost in the textile industry and that jobs will be lost in every city and town here. Why have the social partners and the three farming organisations not got together and worked out the number of jobs that will be lost? It has been estimated that between 40,000 and 60,000 jobs will be lost here and that most of them will be outside the agricultural sector. What are the Government doing about this? Are they prepared to have a meeting with the social partners to discuss this issue?

I should like to refer to the effect these proposals will have on our economy. Since 1986 we have gone into surplus mainly because of the value of agriculture to our economy. If the proposals as we know them are accepted we will have a deficit for a long time to come. I do not think people realise that these proposals could cost our economy between £400 million and £700 million.

I support this motion. Commissioner MacSharry is in the fast lane and he has forgotten where he came from. The Minister for Agriculture and Food should say that we cannot accept the proposals, leaked or not. As we know from experience, Commissioner MacSharry leaked documents long before they were ever accepted. They may have been modified a little but the effect was very severe. He is doing the same in regard to these proposals. The Government are not protecting the interests of the majority of people here on this issue.

Deputy Deasy must adapt to the fast lane and finish by 8.30 p.m.

Not necessarily, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, as I have always been there and I have no need to change.

It is a great pity that there is not all-party consensus on this motion. It is not a political motion. We did not come in here to condemn the Government or the Minister; we came here to be objective. An all-party Dáil committee should have been set up to discuss this issue with all the interested groups in the farming sector. Such a committee would be invaluable. It is about time Members of this House and, in particular, the Government adopted an adult approach and consulted all the interested groups. Our country is too small, our Parliament is too small, our nation is too small and we are too few in a number to be divided on issues like this.

The Government have not taken the advice of the most professional group in Ireland, the ESRI, on this issue. They are more professional than any other research group I know of and their reputation is considerable. As I have pointed out before, the EC regularly commission them to carry out surveys and analyses of this kind. Yet we will not avail of their expertise. As I am well aware, the same quality service is not available within the Department of Agriculture and Food. We need the best possible advice on this major national issue. As many as 50,000 jobs are at stake and there is a danger of damage being done to our economy. We cannot allow this to happen because of our inefficiency, hang-ups and inability to compromise with each other in this House. We cannot hope to achieve what we need to achieve with a totalitarian system. The Government do not have all the expert opinion, the brains or the knowledge. This is too big an issue to make it political.

Deputy Foxe raised a query about the length of time it will take the ERSI to complete this study. There is inspired information which indicates that the Commission will bring forward the official reform proposals by June. Therefore, any analysis will have to be completed by June, the official deadline. Deputy Foxe made some helpful comments in regard to an all-party committee. Such a committee are necessary.

We need to get away from the concept of bashing the Government, the Minister or whoever. So far as I can see, all the bashing on this occasion has been done by the Fianna Fáil MEPs who have disgraced themselves. Anyone who has dared to question the proposals put forward by the Commission has been harangued, abused and insulted. As late as today I read in the paper what MEP Killilea had to say. Every second day we have the same thing from MEP Paddy Lane, a former President of the IFA. This is a disgrace. Every Member of the House understands the seriousness of the issue and those people are being totally irresponsible. They are weakening and damaging Ireland's case. We should not have to put up with this.

I was very taken by Deputy Clohessy's statement. He has faced up to the issue. I only hope that the Progressive Democrats will exert their influence within the Government to ensure that an objective study is carried out and an all-party committee are set up to study the matter. As he rightly pointed out, there is a crisis and it is up to all interest groups in the agricultural sector to get together and solve the problem. That is what is needed. We do not expect the Progressive Democrats to vote with us on this motion, but perhaps they can exert sufficient influence and leverage within the Government to see to it that a proper defence of our case is made.

The proposals have been put forward. The document exists and it was leaked deliberately. It is a favourite ploy to float ideas and leak documents to see what the response will be. The Government should act immediately on the basis of the document and not wait until June. By their silence, there is an acceptance of that document. I ask the Minister here tonight to bring that message back to the Government. We believe there should be strident opposition to these proposals.

A little fast braking is needed here now, I am afraid, as it is 8.30 p.m.

He has been in the fast lane for a long time.

I commend the motion to the House and ask Members for their support.

Amendment put.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 61; Níl, 55.

  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Barrett, Michael.
  • Brady, Gerard.
  • Brady, Vincent.
  • Brennan, Mattie.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Browne, John (Wexford).
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Clohessy, Peadar.
  • Connolly, Ger.
  • Coughlan, Mary Theresa.
  • Cullimore, Séamus.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Gallagher, Pat the Cope.
  • Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Hillery, Brian.
  • Hilliard, Colm.
  • Hyland, Liam.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Kelly, Laurence.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Leonard, Jimmy.
  • Lyons, Denis.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McDaid, Jim.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Nolan, M.J. (Limerick West).
  • Noonan, Michael J.
  • O'Connell, John.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • O'Toole, Martin Joe.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Quill, Máirín.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wyse, Pearse.

Níl

  • Ahearn, Therese.
  • Barnes, Monica.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Belton, Louis J.
  • Boylan, Andrew.
  • Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
  • Bruton, John.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Connor, John.
  • Currie, Austin.
  • Deasy, Austin.
  • De Rossa, Proinsias.
  • Doyle, Joe.
  • Dukes, Alan.
  • Durkan, Bernard.
  • Enright, Thomas W.
  • Farrelly, John V.
  • Fennell, Nuala.
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • O'Sullivan, Gerry.
  • O'Sullivan, Toddy.
  • Owen, Nora.
  • Pattison, Séamus.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Ferris, Michael.
  • Finucane, Michael.
  • Flaherty, Mary.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Foxe, Tom.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Higgins, Jim.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Philip.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Kemmy, Jim.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • McCartan, Pat.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • Mac Giolla, Tomás.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheehan, Patrick J.
  • Sherlock, Joe.
  • Spring, Dick.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Taylor-Quinn, Madeleine.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Yates, Ivan.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies V. Brady and Clohessy; Níl, Deputies Flanagan and Boylan.
Amendment declared carried.
Question put: "That the motion, as amended, be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 62; Níl, 56.

  • Ahern, Dermot.
  • Ahern, Michael.
  • Andrews, David.
  • Aylward, Liam.
  • Barrett, Michael.
  • Brady, Gerard.
  • Brady, Vincent.
  • Brennan, Mattie.
  • Brennan, Séamus.
  • Browne, John (Wexford).
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Callely, Ivor.
  • Clohessy, Peadar.
  • Connolly, Ger.
  • Coughlan, Mary Theresa.
  • Cullimore, Séamus.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • Dempsey, Noel.
  • Dennehy, John.
  • de Valera, Síle.
  • Ellis, John.
  • Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
  • Flood, Chris.
  • Gallagher, Pat the Cope.
  • Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
  • Harney, Mary.
  • Hillery, Brian.
  • Hilliard, Colm.
  • Hyland, Liam.
  • Jacob, Joe.
  • Kelly, Laurence.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Kitt, Tom.
  • Lawlor, Liam.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Leonard, Jimmy.
  • Lyons, Denis.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McCreevy, Charlie.
  • McDaid, Jim.
  • McEllistrim, Tom.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Nolan, M.J.
  • Noonan, Michael J. (Limerick West).
  • O'Connell, John.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donoghue, John.
  • O'Hanlon, Rory.
  • O'Keeffe, Ned.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Rourke, Mary.
  • O'Toole, Martin Joe.
  • Power, Seán.
  • Quill, Máirín.
  • Roche, Dick.
  • Treacy, Noel.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Wallace, Dan.
  • Wallace, Mary.
  • Walsh, Joe.
  • Woods, Michael.
  • Wyse, Pearse.

Níl

  • Ahearn, Therese.
  • Barnes, Monica.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Belton, Louis J.
  • Boylan, Andrew.
  • Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
  • Bruton, John.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Byrne, Eric.
  • Connaughton, Paul.
  • Finucane, Michael.
  • Flaherty, Mary.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Foxe, Tom.
  • Gilmore, Eamon.
  • Higgins, Jim.
  • Higgins, Michael D.
  • Hogan, Philip.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kavanagh, Liam.
  • Kemmy, Jim.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • McCartan, Pat.
  • McCormack, Pádraic.
  • McGinley, Dinny.
  • Mac Giolla, Tomás.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Connor, John.
  • Currie, Austin.
  • Deasy, Austin.
  • De Rossa, Proinsias.
  • Doyle, Joe.
  • Durkan, Bernard.
  • Enright, Thomas W.
  • Farrelly, John V.
  • Fennell, Nuala.
  • Ferris, Michael.
  • Nealon, Ted.
  • O'Keeffe, Jim.
  • O'Shea, Brian.
  • O'Sullivan, Gerry.
  • O'Sullivan, Toddy.
  • Owen, Nora.
  • Pattison, Séamus.
  • Rabbitte, Pat.
  • Reynolds, Gerry.
  • Ryan, Seán.
  • Shatter, Alan.
  • Sheehan, Patrick J.
  • Sherlock, Joe.
  • Spring, Dick.
  • Stagg, Emmet.
  • Taylor-Quinn, Madeleine.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Yates, Ivan.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies V. Brady and Clohessy; Níl, Deputies Flanagan and Boylan.
Question declared carried.