I move:—"Subsection (1). To delete in line 31 the word ‘person' and to substitute therefor the word ‘creamery'".
CREAMERY BILL, 1928—THIRD STAGE.
I accept the amendment, but I suggest that the wording should be altered slightly. The word "creamery" in the Bill as it stands is used throughout not to mean the person who owns the creamery but refers to the creamery itself, the buildings, plant and equipment, etc. I suggest that the amendment would be to delete the words "engaged in the manufacture of milk products or in the sale of milk" and to substitute therefor the words "carrying on a creamery."
That meets my point.
Sub-section (2) To add at the end of paragraph (b) the words "provided that the peak day is not a day following one on which a society has not been open to receive milk supplies."
I accept the amendment with a drafting change. I suggest that the amendment should read: "but such day shall not be a day following one on which such person was not open to receive milk supplies."
That will be satisfactory.
Sub-section (5). To insert before the sub-section a new sub-section as follows:—"(5) Where the business of a creamery is extended by the addition thereto of a class, branch, or department of creamery business not then carried on in such creamery, such class, branch, or department of business shall for the purposes of this section be deemed to be a separate creamery and this section shall apply thereto accordingly."
I accept the amendment.
Sub-section (4). To add at the end of the sub-section the words:—
"and also applies to any creamery the business of which was, on or after the 1st day of January, 1928, and before the passing of this Act, extended by the addition thereto of a class, branch, or department of creamery business not then carried on in such creamery."
I move:—To delete the section. I put it to the Minister that this is a matter which could be dealt with more appropriately on the Co-operative Bill. It is being introduced now in what the Minister admits is a measure of only partial purpose, and yet it is being applied to all creameries whether they are effected by the merger or not. I suggest to the House that there is good reason for proceeding warily in the granting of powers to an inspector of the Department to inquire into any matters on the records of a creamery. Obviously there is no objection so far as statistical milk matters are concerned—yield and matters of that kind—but there are personal matters involved in creamery records, such as the state of a customer's account and possibly the nature of his deposits. If, further, a creamery is used as a local agency for the Agricultural Credit Corporation there may be matters of an even more delicate nature. I suggest that the Government will not suffer by leaving the matter over until it can be treated on general grounds, which I suggest would appropriately arise on the Co-operative Bill.
Without this section it would be impossible to administer the Act. The Senator will notice that the section reads:—
"Every person in charge of a creamery to which the provisions of this Act shall apply..."
It is confined to creameries that are affected by the Bill. So far as this is concerned we must know, first of all, what their peak supply is, and, secondly, who is supplying them; thirdly, the peak supply of each member. Of course, if you could do all this voluntarily, so much the better, but you cannot do it. You may do it with 95 per cent., but in the event of a dispute it is provided that the Department shall be the arbitrator. There is only one way to know the names of the suppliers to a creamery if there is a dispute about it, and that is to inspect the records in the books and see who are the people supplying the milk. It may be a dispute as to how many gallons were supplied on the peak day. The Bill provides that payment shall be at £1 per gallon on the peak day. If there is a dispute as to what is the supply of milk of any single supplier on the peak day as arranged, then there is only one way to settle that, and that is to look up the books. Without this section we cannot administer the Act— we are powerless—and we cannot settle disputes. There is no intention to inspect the books for any purpose other than the purpose provided by the Act. As the section stands in law, while you may learn indirectly—if you want to go about it—certain things that are not exactly relevant, we are only entitled to inspect the books for the purpose of this section. I may say that under the Dairy Produce Act we have power to inspect the books for the purposes of that Act, and without that power we could not administer the Act. The same applies to the Eggs Act.
Why not state "for the purpose of the Act"?
I am agreeable to that, or you could do it this way: "Every person in charge of a creamery within the meaning of this Act."
That is already in the Act: "Every person in charge of a creamery to which the provisions of this Act apply. That means every creamery within the Act, Senator Brown's point is, and it occurred to myself, that your purpose would be served if there were words put in like this: "To produce all such records, books and other documents as may be required for the administration of the Act."
"To produce to such officer all necessary records, books and documents."
I think the other would be better—"necessary" is a very big word—"all such records, books and other documents as may be required for the purposes of this Act."
I will accept that suggestion. It will then read:—
Every person in charge of a creamery to which the provisions of this Act shall apply shall upon being so required for the purposes of this Act by an officer of the Department produce..."
As we are altering this section the draftsman considers that "to which the provisions of this Act shall apply" is not a term of art and he would prefer that it should read "every person in charge of a creamery within the meaning of this Act."
I did not put down an amendment to this Bill because I was rather impressed by what the Minister said yesterday, that if the managing director of a company were carrying out a big scheme of reorganisation such as this he would not be restricted by two Houses of Parliament. For that reason I did not think it quite fair to try to restrict him in what he thought necessary, but I think this section is rather wide and I ask the Minister to consider the insertion of a provision that the regulations where possible should be laid on the Table of the House for a certain period, and if no objection was raised they might apply. As it stands it is very wide, but I recognise that the Minister may possibly find it necessary at times to make regulations.
Will the Senator undertake to come and read the regulations if they are laid on the Table?
I will not undertake to come and read every paper laid on the Table, but if my attention is drawn from time to time to such Regulations and I thought they were unreasonable or unnecessarily onerous I would come and move that they should not be put into effect. I do not want to move an amendment in connection with this, but I would ask the Minister to consider putting in something.
This is the final stage.
I think we are fairly safe in connection with this kind of administrative matter in leaving the regulations to the Minister.
I think he should have a very wide discretion.
I move: To delete Clause 8 on page 11. I put this down to invite the attention of our legal experts to it, because it seems to me as a layman a rather extraordinary clause to have in an agreement: "The purchasing society hereby agrees with the vendors to make such alterations and additions in its rules as may be reasonably required by the vendors," and it proceeds to recite a number of them. Some of them appear to be rather general in purpose and are already, to a certain extent, provided for in the rules. Others which are not provided for appear to be part of the general principles of co-operation which will be dealt with by the next Bill. I may be unduly apprehensive, but it seems to me that it is a rather unusual form of phraseology to bind yourself to make alterations and additions.
It was qualified by the word "reasonable," and therefore if the purchasing society said that they were unreasonable they would not be bound. I do not know whether there is any provision in the event of their differing, as to whether the conditions were unreasonable or not, as to who was to solve the difficulty between them. The paragraph reads: "The purchasing society hereby agrees with the vendors to make such alterations and additions in its rules as may be reasonably required by the vendors," but who is to determine whether their requisition is reasonable or not?
There is another point on which I would like some information. I take it that the statutory powers which they have under the provisions of the Industrial and Provident Societies Act will not be altered?
No. The only alteration made is to enable a shareholder to hold more than 200 shares. It also clears up the legal difficulty which I stated yesterday.
Then I may take it that they would be indemnified against any breach of the Industrial and Provident Societies Act?
They will be, of course, the moment that this Act is passed.
Then I am to understand from the Minister that the only breach of the Industrial and Provident Societies Act that is contemplated is in connection with the holding of increased shares? I just want to draw attention to this because it seems to me to be a somewhat unusual method of legislation.
With regard to the Co-operative Bill, the parties interested have been considering that Bill for a year or more, but they have not yet got near the point where they have been able to put up to me what exactly they want to effect. The more they have considered the Bill the more difficult it appears to get. The interests concerned, the I.A.O.S., the creameries, and the Department of Agriculture, have been considering for the last year or more what provisions should be inserted in the Co-operative Bill. They are all agreed on a minimum number of provisions, but once they go beyond that they cannot agree. There are matters which everyone feels should be dealt with; they do not seem to know how to deal with them properly, and that is the question. I think that the Co-operative Bill is going to be about the most complicated that ever came before the Oireachtas. It will require a tremendous amount of care and attention. I think that even two or three years after the Act has been passed it will be found, when in operation, that mistakes have been made and that it will need amendment. I think it is rather lucky that this Act is preceding it, because up to this point it is a Co-operative Act, applied, I admit, only to a limited number of creameries. In a certain sense it seeks to apply some of the most important provisions that will be included in the Co-operative Bill to a limited number of creameries. We will have the advantage that this Act will be in operation for a certain time so far as these creameries are concerned, and certain lessons that we can learn from it will be invaluable to us. The Co-operative Act will be such a big job that, if we have an instalment of it in operation for a certain time before the Act itself comes into operation, we will be able to learn certain lessons from it. This will be a help to us in drafting the Co-operative Bill. From that point of view we are rather glad that this procedure is being adopted.