PROHIBITION ON THE EXPORT OF IRISH CATTLE.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Senator Irwin has handed in notice of motion which deals with a matter of importance, and that is the prohibition on the export of Irish cattle. We have suspended our Standing Orders and therefore if we do not remove that suspension there is nothing to prevent Senator Irwin moving this Resolution, and if there is no objection on the part of the Seanad I will ask the Senator to do so. I would make the suggestion that we are not in the position for a full-dress debate on the subject, but on the other hand I think the Seanad will listen patiently, and I take it permission is now given to move the matter.

I beg to propose:—"That An Seanad protests against the unfair and unnecessary action of Britain in imposing detention on Irish Cattle. That An Seanad will support the Ministry in all its actions tending towards obtaining a speedy removal. Failing removal of this unjust imposition we will deem it obligatory in the interests of the premier Irish industry to frame measures in retaliation. That Ireland is and has always been absolutely free from foot and mouth disease, except when it was imported from orvia Britain, which renders it necessary that regulations should be imposed in Ireland as precautionary measures against such importations of this or other diseases in materials imported from or through Britain.

"That the Irish Government take immediate steps to promote and foster the dressed meat and kindred industries in Ireland. That the farmers be encouraged to finish their cattle and obviate the necessity of exporting them as stores.

"That a Committee of An Seanad be appointed to act in co-operation with the Ministry in connection with the matter."

In support of this resolution I desire to say that we are all aware of the great importance of the store cattle trade to Ireland, particularly at the present time when our people have not the opportunity, the facilities, and, I might say, the knowledge of how essential it is not only in their own interests, but in the national interests, to finish their cattle. We export our best, and we give them to Britain. During the recent European war we heard nothing of foot and mouth disease, and nothing of detention, but manifestly when it suits certain people with certain interests, this imposition is unjustly imposed. Cattle have been exported from Ireland to Britain for centuries, and no detention was found necessary until this Canadian question arose. Now, six days' detention means at the very least a loss of £2 per head on the cattle. That falls on the producer, the small farmer, who rears the cattle and who can least afford to bear it. My resolution aims first at getting the Ministry in conjunction with the Dáil and the Seanad to take the strongest action that is possible by having representation made of this injustice to the British Government, and also to take the matter up with the Canadian Government, who are interested parties, and probably at whose initiative this matter of detention has to some extent been brought about with the manifest object of placing Irish cattle, which hitherto had a clean bill of health, in the same position as the Canadian cattle. It might be added that this is now a question for England to do as she likes, as to what she shall import and what she shall detain herself. It would, therefore, be up to us in self protection and self-defence, to take adequate measures to retaliate—I do not mean retaliation in any vindictive spirit —and to turn evil to good, and we can do that by inducing in every means in our power—and they are many—our small farmers to finish their cattle and to foster and develop a dressed meat industry and kindred industries, and place ourselves in the position that our premier industry should be in by being independent of any whim or wiles of the British Government as this unjust six days' detention has been imposed recently.

Senator Irwin did not, perhaps, give us sufficiently long notice of this resolution, otherwise we would have been very glad to support it more effectively. This is a question of very great importance, and rather than that it should be thought that the Seanad was not anxious for the satisfactory treatment of the question I desire to second the honourable Senator's proposition. What we can do in the matter at the moment I am not quite sure. One would need to look into this question more intimately in order to convince oneself of what the possibilities are as far as we are concerned, but of course on the general question, we know all about it. It is like the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, or perhaps not altogether like that Bill, inasmuch as it is a hardy triennial or quinquennial as long as I can remember. This question of foot and mouth disease has been discussed over and over again, for years and years, and on the whole Ireland has been able to hold her own fairly well in such discussions. There is this difficulty, of course, that when we consider this question as far as we can, we should do so without bias, without fear, favour or affection, as it is very hard to tell the English people that they are not to take measures of protection against the introduction of foot and mouth disease into their own country. We must look at this question from that point of view. They have very important agricultural interests; they are very great breeders of cattle, and they are perfectly right in their own interests to take whatever protection they deem necessary for their flocks and herds. There is no use attempting to overlook that fact. That is a basic proposal we must take into account; but on the other hand there is no reason why we, as agriculturists and breeders of cattle, should put up with interruptions to our trade that we find are injurious. Without going into it and considering it more fully, it is very hard to say how this question of the detention of Irish cattle can be effectively met. Speaking on the spur of the moment, it might be thought that a system similar to the Canadian system, of issuing a permit or certificate of freedom from disease by the recognised Agricultural Department of the country might be found suitable to our case. We have a Department of Agriculture; we have our Agricultural Inspectors, and it might be possible for them to issue certificates for cattle, before they are exported, certifying that the animals are free from disease, as is done in the case of Canadian cattle. That is only a suggestion. With regard to the introduction of foot and mouth disease amongst us, we all know, at least anyone who has been interested in this question knows, that the disease has always come to us from England. Everybody knows that. It could not come in any other way. England is the only country that affects our sea-borne trade, and this disease must be brought in in English bottoms. We have discussed the question for years, and as a rule it was proved that foot and mouth disease was introduced to this country either by bringing cattle from England, or else it came in fodder or packing-stuffs from English ports. There is no necessity for us to labour that point. What our Government can do in the matter of retaliation I do not know, and I do not like the word "retaliation," but that will be a matter for our Agricultural Authorities, whenever the time comes. There is one subject raised by the honourable Senator who proposed the resolution with which we, as agriculturists, are in absolute agreement, i.e., to foster in every way the killing of Irish cattle in Ireland, and also their treatment here. We should be able to kill our meat, cure it, and utilise the hides, the hoofs, the horns and all the other things, as well as the blood, the bone and so forth in various directions which I need not enumerate. That is a proposition that will commend itself to everyone who has experience of Irish agriculture, and the Senator is to be congratulated on having raised this question. As to the appointment of a Committee, that is a matter for the Seanad to consider the advisability of, but as to the general resolution, we are in thorough sympathy with it, and I think we might let the country understand it is a matter we have feelingly at heart.

I think a good deal of this Resolution could bear removal without spoiling the force or the intention of the motion. I think the word "retaliation" is offensive because, as I understand, the mover of the Resolution said that he did not mean it in a vindictive sense, but still it looks vindictive and is not necessary. What the mover of the Resolution really meant was that we should take such steps as may be necessary to meet the obstacle, that is to say, this six days' detention. Then again, I think the reason ought to be stated for imposing the six days' detention. In the first place the promise of Lord Ernle to the the Canadians that the embargo would be removed was taken by the majority of the members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords as an honourable obligation which the country could hardly avoid fulfilling. This six day's detention was agreed to by the Canadian Government, but it was coupled with a promise that it should also be applied to Ireland, and therefore it would be very difficult for the Government to escape a similar responsibility if the Englishman's word was to be as good as his oath. Well the real reason, I believe the only reason that ought to be worth consideration is that when Irish cattle are brought to England and hawked about from market to market they are likely to carry disease which they have picked up in England and spread it over the country. That is the reason that was given, and, as I say, the only reason worth consideration. It is only a short distance from Ireland to England. They have inspectors on both sides of the Channel, and therefore the danger of Irish cattle conveying infection in that way is not likely, but, as everybody knows, it is very easy to pick up the infection of foot and mouth disease from a wagon that has not been properly cleansed. We know how the disease was brought into England at one time, simply by feeding stuffs, in fact, damaged barley, that had been put into old sacks and these sacks had been lying somewhere near diseased cattle and they brought over the disease to England and spread it, to the great loss of both England and Ireland, which was subsequently infected. It seems to me that the Resolution would be equally useful without the sentence commencing "That failing the removal"—because it does look like a threat—"Failing the removal" and then leaving out the word "retaliation." I quite agree that it would be an advantage to the country generally if they slaughtered cattle on this side and engaged in the dead meat trade. If that trade could be carried out on an extensive scale it would enable all sorts of subsidiary industries to be started in the country, but there is also the possibility of an alternative market in stores. We may promote as far as possible the fattening of more cattle, but if the scheme, which I understand is being incubated, for the further division of land, comes to pass, it means that there will be less opportunity for finishing the cattle on grass lands, and that there will be very serious difficulties in the way of the small farmer fattening cattle. In the first place, he does not like to be so long out of his money; that is one reason, and the little tillage which he has he wants for his pigs, fowl, and so forth, so that it would not be very easy to get the number of fat cattle largely increased. But I have been in communication with the French exporters and they are convinced that once the French Government could look upon Ireland as a unit and not tarred with the same brush as England, that is to say, a country that is hardly ever free from disease, that they might possibly modify their regulations to enable Irish store cattle to be shipped direct from Ireland to France. There is no doubt about it that the situation is extremely serious. We export about half a million stores annually to England and that has hitherto been sufficient to supply the farmers' needs. Well if Canada, and it is the lowest estimate, I have heard, is able forthwith to send a quarter of a million, it is obvious that 50 per cent. of our exports will not find a market there, unless we are prepared to undersell the Canadians. Therefore, it is a very serious matter, and I think it would be wise if we took the matter carefully into consideration and see what ought to be done under the circumstances. I move that the paragraph be omitted. I do not know whether it has the consent of the mover or not.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

May I make a suggestion that I think might perhaps meet the wishes of the hon. Senator who has just spoken, and also Senator Irwin. Of course everybody recognises the national importance of the question he has raised, but we cannot imagine that it has escaped the attention of the Dáil. I understand they are quite alive to it and that it is not unlikely that a full discussion on the subject will be raised in the Dáil. I think, therefore, Senator Irwin would be well advised not to insert in his motion any suggested remedies or course until the discussion has developed in the Dáil, and I suggest to him that his object would be obtained if his motion simply ran as follows:—

"That a Committee of An Seanad be appointed to act in co-operation with the Ministry in connection with the serious position created by the restriction upon the exportation of Irish cattle."

I think, if he confined his motion to that, the Seanad would probably adopt it unanimously, and I am sure that it would accomplish his purpose.

I quite agree with the suggestion that has been made.

AN CATHAOIRLEACH

Then by leave of the Seanad I take it the motion now before the Seanad is adopted by Senator Irwin as his own, and is moved by him and seconded by Sir Thomas Esmonde:

"That a Committee of An Seanad be appointed to act in co-operation with the Ministry in connection with the serious position created by the restriction upon the exportation of Irish cattle."

That is the motion proposed and seconded, and unless some other member of the Seanad wishes to speak on it, I will now put it from the Chair.

Motion put and agreed to.