I move amendment No. 4:
In page 7, between lines 17 and 18, to insert the following:
"(3) Where a dealer feels that any action taken undersubsection (2)(b) is unfair or unnecessarily or unjustifiably interferes with his or her business, that dealer shall have access to the Agricultural Appeals Board to seek redress.”
This amendment is concerned with the registration and regulation of dealers. The Bill states that "the Minister may, by order, provide for the approval and registration of dealers and dealers' premises". The Minister has explained to us that he will do this by order and that when making such an order he will take account of the various issues that have been raised by Deputies Connaughton, Penrose and others. He said that such an order will be reasonable and designed to disrupt the normal flow of trade as little as possible, and to deal with rogue traders.
Making orders under the 1966 Act is dealt with in section 4. Appropriately enough for a diseases of animals Act, I find one of my pet hobby horses in this section, as the order is in what I call the passive form:
Every order made by the Minister under this Act shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the order is passed by either such House within the next twenty-one days on which that House has sat after the order is laid before it, the order shall be annulled accordingly.
Without accusing the Minister of any bad faith, that means the Minister's order is laid before the Oireachtas, and unless the Government provides Government time to debate the order within the next 21 sitting days, the Houses do not get a chance to debate it.
The Leas-Cheann Comhairle knows from his experience in this House, on the back and front benches and in the chair, that Deputies can jump up and down, but there is no way they can debate an order of that kind unless the Government makes its time available. As far as I understand Standing Orders, one can even bring a Private Members' motion to ask the Government to bring the order before the House, but it remains subject to the approval of the Government.
There is another form of order which official advice is always against. This involves the Minister making the order, laying it before the Oireachtas, and it cannot come into effect until it has been voted through by both Houses. Every time I have raised this, Ministers have shown understanding by saying they might do it that way the next time. If Ministers are not being understanding, they say they cannot possibly clutter up the business of the House by having a series of unimportant orders coming in. I do not know how the Minister, Deputy Walsh, feels but if we are to review this legislation in a year's time, I would like to have a look at section 4 of the principal Act, and the way orders are made.
I do not know if there was anyone around in 1966, when the principal Act came into force, with the same hobby horses as I have. If I had been in the House at that time there might have been the possibility, which does not exist in that Act, of making orders by another procedure. I have not proposed such an amendment as I know I would be wasting my time. The Minister's advisers would say it is all very well to allow Deputy Dukes to have his say, but the House should not be faced with such a technical order, and we should not bother the Minister with it.
We are about to take a sensible and justified step to give the Minister powers over the livelihood of a certain number of people that he has not had before, and to give him powers that he can exercise in the public interest, in the interests of the farming community generally, and in the interests of animal health and the prevention of disease. That is important enough to be debated in the House. We will not now have a chance to do it, because once we pass this Bill, making the orders is subject to the procedure in section 4 of the principal Act. Unless the Minister volunteers to do so, we will not debate in this House the regulations that will apply to dealers. The Minister has an opportunity to make an historic first here. He could listen to what I say and appreciating what is in section 4 of the principal Act, guarantee that when he is making these orders he will require the Government Whip to make Government time available to debate them. If he were to do that, he would not hear another mealy-mouthed word from me for the rest of the debate on this entire Bill between now and 5.30 p.m. To be serious, this is important. We are introducing new regulations affecting the livelihood of a certain number of people and the way they deal with a large number of people, namely, farmers. This House should be able to debate that because of the importance of the context in which it is being done.