Agriculture Bill, 1930—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That this Bill be read a Second Time."

Cathaoirleach

The Minister for Agriculture is unable to be present, but I understand that, in his absence, the Minister for Industry and Commerce will take charge of this Bill. The Minister has not yet arrived, but I expect he will be here shortly.

I feel that, in the absence of the Minister in charge, the Second Reading of this Bill might be moved. No new policy is enunciated in the Bill, or any change of policy. The Bill mainly serves the purpose of regularising certain courses which either have been adopted or are about to be adopted with a view to the definite fixation of certain functions and powers referred to in the Bill itself. As the Bill does not enunciate any change of policy I feel the House will have no hesitation in giving it a Second Reading. If and when the Bill receives legislative sanction the body hitherto known as the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction will go out of existence. As it is rather the policy nowadays to belittle things which have preceded some of the great things we have to-day, one may feel inclined to say something in favour of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction at what one may call its demise. It has to be said that the Department of Agriculture did very good work in its day. In our time we are following the course outlined in the first instance by those who were responsible for administering the policy of the old Department of Agriculture.

I object to the Second Reading of the Bill being taken now. There are many questions that I want to put to the Minister for Agriculture and I must have some information on them before I consent to allow the Bill to go through.

Cathaoirleach

The Senator can object to the Second Reading of the Bill when the proper time comes for doing to.

I object to the taking of the Second Reading of the Bill in the absence of the Minister.

Cathaoirleach

I have already informed the House that the Minister for Agriculture is unable to be present, and that the Minister for Industry and Commerce has arranged to take charge of this Bill.

I think the Minister ought to be here to explain in a general way what the object of the Bill is, and in particular what the object is of doing away with the huge Department that has been carrying on for a great number of years. We want to know from the Minister what advantage is to be gained from the proposed change.

Cathaoirleach

The Minister for Industry and Commerce will be here shortly, and I am sure he will deal with any questions that Senators wish to put to him. Perhaps the Senator will allow Senator O'Hanlon to proceed.

In view of what the Cathaoirleach has said would it not be as well to take this Bill later in the evening?

Cathaoirleach

I do not think so.

The time to have moved the postponement of the discussion was before I rose to move the Second Reading of the Bill. This Bill has nothing to do with what Senator Moore referred to as the carrying on of a huge Department. It is merely a regularising Bill. No change of policy in respect to the Department is outlined in the Bill.

I would like to know if Senator O'Hanlon represents the Minister?

Cathaoirleach

Senator O'Hanlon is making a Second Reading speech, a thing which he is perfectly entitled to do.

He is not here representing the Minister?

Cathaoirleach

I am not able to tell you that, Senator.

I am well able to make my own speech without regard to anybody. I have read the Bill and am perfectly competent to speak on it according to my lights.

Might I suggest that we have read it as carefully as Senator O'Hanlon has?

I am sure the Senator has. I was about to say, when interrupted, that certain functions of the Department of Agriculture, referred to in the Bill, have been transferred to the Minister for Education and to the Minister for Lands and Fisheries. The remaining functions are being transferred to the Minister for Agriculture and to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. Apart from the transfer of these functions and of certain provisions which have been made in respect of the superannuation of some officers who have been in the employment of the Department of Agriculture and whose remuneration came not from voted moneys but from special grants, there is very little in the Bill that the House, I think, might wish to discuss on the Second Reading Stage.

There is one matter dealt with in the Bill which may be of interest, particularly to the farming element, and that is the provision that in future it will be mandatory, when this Bill becomes an Act, on county committees of agriculture to strike a rate of 2d. in the £ for agricultural purposes. Those who have read the Bill will be aware that in the years 1889 and 1891 certain legislation was enacted which obliged county committees of agriculture to strike a rate of 1d. in the £ for technical instruction, and 1d. in the £ for agricultural and technical instruction. There was a certain amount of elasticity allowed in regard to the allocation of these amounts under the two headings I have given. At the moment the position is that county committees of agriculture have not the power to strike a rate of more than 1d. in the £ for agricultural purposes. When this Bill becomes an Act it will be mandatory on them to strike a rate of 2d. in the £ for that purpose. Varying opinions may be held as to the feasibility of increasing the amount at a time of depression in the agricultural industry. Farmers will not be too quick to welcome any change which results in an increased rate on them. I think, however, there are very few who, when they consider the purpose to which this increased rate is to be applied, will object to this particular provision in the Bill. In fact, I think that most progressive farmers in the country will welcome it on account of its object. Outside of these matters, there is very little in the Bill which could not be discussed on the Committee Stage. Therefore I hope that the House will not hesitate to give the Bill a Second Reading.

I desire to support what Senator O'Hanlon has said. The great work that was done by the Department of Agriculture in its day was not, I think, appreciated by the people as much as it should have been. For some years I was associated with one of its branches. I would like to say a word of appreciation of the great work done by that good man, Sir Horace Plunkett. An expression of appreciation of the work that he did should, I think, go from this House. For many years he was Vice-President of the Department.

I would like to know from the Minister what is the real necessity for this Bill? I happened to be present at the birth of the Department of Agriculture. I think there are only two or three other members of the Seanad who can make the same claim. The Department of Agriculture was one of the Departments which gave most satisfaction to the people, and I think it ought to be the last to be abolished, unless some very good reasons are given for making the change now proposed. In the early days it was an understood thing that the county councils and the Department would co-operate in working out agricultural schemes for the country, and that the contributions of each were to be more or less on a fifty-fifty basis. That is to say, that if the county councils were to strike a rate to raise a certain sum of money for the carrying on of useful schemes they would get support from the Department for at least an equal sum. I think it is a mistake now to depart from that system of voluntary co-operation between the local boards and the central authority in Dublin. The striking of the rate during the 30 years that have elapsed since the setting up of the Department of Agriculture was done on a voluntary basis by the county councils of the country. I do not think that the Department or the Minister ever had any reason to find fault with county councils in the matter of providing sufficient funds to carry out the schemes agreed upon.

I observe from this Bill that a very small portion of the work of the Department is to be transferred to the Minister for Industry and Commerce. I believe all it amounts to is to ascertain the price of cattle at fairs. Surely it is not necessary to bring in a Bill to do away with the Department for that purpose? The Minister for Education, as far as I can see, is not named in the Bill, and I do not know whether he is getting any more powers under it than he already has under previous Acts, especially with regard to the work done in the Agricultural College in Dublin. I understood that college had been transferred to the University, but according to this Bill it is again being put in charge of the Minister for Education. The work done by the Department has been going on so well up to the present that I think it is a pity to break in upon it now. I am afraid that the provision in the Bill making it mandatory on county councils to strike a rate will cause friction. Formerly they did that without any compulsion. Now that compulsion is to be put on them I fear it will cause friction, and in that way will greatly hamper the co-operation essential for the success of many useful schemes. Of course there may be other reasons that I am not aware of for bringing forward this Bill, but from what I have been able to gather from reading it I cannot see why it should be necessary if its only purpose is to effect some very small changes.

As Senator Linehan has pointed out, it is rather difficult to discuss this Bill in view of the fact that we have had no explanation of it from the Minister. The Senator was quite right in asking what is the necessity for the Bill. He could see no reason for it except that it is likely to interrupt the co-operation that has existed up to the present between county councils and the Department in the carrying out of useful schemes. That co-operation was given in a voluntary way. Under the Bill county councils will be compelled to do what heretofore they have been doing voluntarily, that is, striking a rate for agricultural purposes. I do not altogether agree that if and when the Bill becomes an Act there will be no co-operation between the county councils and the Department.

There is one thing the Bill is doing. It is regularising the position of the Department of Agriculture and its officials so far as the pensions of those officials are concerned. Therefore, I take it that the important thing in connection with the Bill is the financial end of it. I believe that is the main reason why it is being introduced. Taking that aspect of the Bill, one can see that it will involve a considerable increase in the rates. When it becomes an Act it will be mandatory on county councils to strike a rate of 2d. in the £. Up to the present there was no obligation on them to do that. I expect part of this 2d. rate will be devoted to agricultural and educational purposes with a view to modernising our present system of farming, but I am of the opinion that a very big proportion of it will go towards paying the pensions of officials whose services are to be dispensed with. I think if it were not for that there would be no necessity at all for this Bill. I want to state clearly that I have no objection whatever to officials who give a life's service to the State in any Department being given pensions in their old age; but, I think, in view of the way the Department operates through the country, that there is a good deal of overlapping so far as officials are concerned. In Mayo we have at least half a dozen of what may be called under-graduate inspectors. Then you have two other inspectors, one for agriculture and the other for horticulture. You have a senior county inspector over these two, while they in turn supervise the undergraduate inspectors. As far as I can see, it is the undergraduate inspectors who are doing all the really substantial work. I believe that you could not only have a great saving of money but get more efficient work done if the numbers of inspectors were reduced.

The objection I have to an increase of 2d. in the £ is that when officials are pensioned off, instead of reducing the number of inspectors, you will have a number of new appointments made. I believe you could get more efficient work done if you had a smaller number of inspectors. The only districts in which really good results have been shown are those in which the under-graduate inspectors are working. At the present time a good deal of an inspector's work could be done from an office. I would like to hear from the Minister whether any inquiries are made by the Department as to the work done by these inspectors, and if the Department is satisfied that there is not overlapping. So far as I am concerned I believe there is overlapping. Senator Linehan referred to the fact that part of the work done formerly by the Department of Agriculture is to be transferred to the Department of Industry and Commerce. This part of the work concerns fairs and markets. I do not know, nor does Senator Linehan know, why this change is being made.

I am aware that in some places there is a good deal of controversy with regard to the holding of fairs and markets on the streets of towns. I know that altogether wrong returns as to the prices ruling for stock at fairs down the country are published from time to time. I am not saying that the Minister for Industry and Commerce knows anything more than the Minister for Agriculture about the price of sheep or cattle. There is no guarantee that he will be any more efficient in that respect than the Minister for Agriculture. To the Minister in charge of that end of the work in future I would point out that in quite a considerable number of towns throughout the country there are held what are known as "old fairs." That is to say, that in years gone by there were only one or two towns in a county in which fairs used to be held. At present fairs are held monthly in practically every village and town in the country. The result is that the number of what are called "old fairs" is dwindling. The old fair-greens in most of these places are derelict and serve no useful purpose. Very often they occupy prominent positions and are an eye-sore in many places. I know suggestions have been made to have them converted to useful purposes such, for instance, as building sites, but in one case, at least, that project cannot be carried out because of legal objections. I would suggest to the Minister that he should interest himself in this matter and do something to facilitate local committees who are anxious to convert these derelict fair-greens to some useful purpose.

There is another matter I wish to refer to. It has led, I believe, to a considerable increase in the rates, but in my opinion the results obtained are unsatisfactory, considering the amount of money expended. I am referring to the bull shows held in Dublin. The procedure adopted is that officials from the Department go down the country, examine bulls and award premiums. They display the cards on the bulls. By doing so they inflate, in my opinion, the ordinary market price. The price is inflated by the display of those cards over and above what it would be in ordinary circumstances. Because of the subsidies given by the county councils, the people concerned will naturally buy only the bulls which have been awarded premiums. My own experience is that the price goes, as a rule, to 100 or 150 guineas because of the display of the premium card on the bull in the sale ring. My contention is that the rates being levied and paid for that purpose—the intention was good in the beginning—is actually working out as a subsidy to the breeders of these pure-bred bulls. I am quite satisfied that you would get equally good results if the bulls were bought and the premiums awarded afterwards. The man buying a bull would, I believe, be a poor judge if he were not capable of picking out a bull which would get a premium. Furthermore, there is a flat rate struck in connection with the awarding of these premiums. There is no inducement at all for a man to buy a first-class beast rather than a poor-class beast. The man who pays 40 or 50 or 60 guineas gets the same premium, within his class, as the man who pays 150 guineas. I do not think that that should be so. There should be some inducement to the man to buy first-class stuff. I think that the whole principle of subsidising breeders is wrong. I believe that if the matter were inquired into a more satisfactory way of dealing with the question would be found and that there would be a substantial saving to the counties.

I do not think that this House should allow a Bill of this kind to pass through without inquiring seriously into the operations of the enormous number of agricultural inspectors in each county. There are at least twelve agricultural instructors in Co. Mayo. That would be sufficient there for every Department of State, but they are serving only one Department. There is not alone a 2d. rate, but there is actually a penny rate already levied. There will be 2d. mandatory now on the councils. They can carry it still further and levy a penny rate, according to the Bill, for the purpose of agriculture. This question of rates is becoming a terrible menace to the agricultural community. We have only to examine the couple of Bills that are going through the Oireachtas at present, and the Bill already passed, to realise that. Under the Vocational Education Bill the cost to Mayo will work out at £10,000 or £12,000 a year. Under the Agriculture Bill the 2d. levy, not to talk of what is already levied, will work out at about £3,000. The Public Health Bill, which we passed here yesterday, will cost Mayo roughly about £5,000. Those three Bills, which we have allowed, or are allowing, to go through the House, will cost the ratepayers of Mayo about £20,000 over and above the rates already levied.

No matter for whose benefit it will be, you have to consider the ability of the people to pay when passing these Bills. Are the people of Mayo capable of paying £20,000 over and above the rates already levied, considering economic conditions as a whole at present? That is the position we are up against. These Bills are allowed to go through, I would not like to say in a flippant manner, but certainly without due consideration of the increased cost on the local community. I think the House should inquire into the operations of the extraordinary number of Department officials working in the country. I believe that there could be a considerable saving in the number of officials if the position were examined.

I rise to seek information. Some time ago we were told that agricultural costings were being undertaken. We are all aware of how instructive such costings were when issued during the war. According to a proper method of costing the farmers were only making nine per cent. on their invested capital during the war. We were told that these costings were being continued. We have not had any further information. I think it is due to anybody who wishes to study the real burdens of agriculture that he should know, on a proper accounting basis, the return the average farmer is getting when he charges labour at standard rates, and so on. We were told that this was being done. Could we now be told when we are likely to see some figures as a result of the investigations that are being made?

Is the Minister for Industry and Commerce looking after this Bill?

Cathaoirleach

He is.

Will he kindly make a statement? He has been asked to make a statement as to why this Department is being done away with and a new establishment set up. We really require some explanation of that and other matters.

Cathaoirleach

I am sure that the Minister will reply to the various criticisms.

Perhaps the Minister would speak now.

This Bill has two purposes. One purpose is what has been referred to as the "regularising"—although it is a second regularising—of the old Department of Agriculture. Previously, it had functions in relation to agriculture, technical instruction and fisheries. Technical instruction and fisheries have been delegated to other Departments. The Department still exists in a formal way as a sort of body within another body, because the functions not otherwise assigned, under the Ministers and Secretaries Act, to the Minister for Fisheries and Minister for Education have been assigned to the Minister for Lands and Agriculture. Nevertheless, the Department of Agriculture still persists in being as a corporate body, and certain things are done in its name. Certain documents have to be signed in its name, and certain land transfers have to be made by that corporate body. That is done by the Department of Agriculture, or rather by the Minister for Agriculture, the Department of Agriculture acting in a fictitious way with him. This Bill proposes to abolish the Department of Agriculture. It is really a shell within another body. It is proposed to remove the shell. It is proposed that the situation envisaged in the Ministers and Secretaries Act should be brought about in the most formal and comprehensive way.

The other matter dealt with in this Bill has to do with the provision of rates for local schemes. Senator MacEllin and, I think, Senator O'Hanlon—I was only in for his closing comments—spoke of the extra moneys to be levied on the ratepayers. In actual fact, very little extra money will be levied, because up to date there has been provision for the striking of a 1d. maximum rate under one Act and 1d. maximum rate under another Act. The full weight of these rates might go for the purpose of agriculture as well as for technical instruction. With the exception of three counties, all the counties are striking a rate of 2d. It is now being made mandatory that 2d. be struck. That is being done because practice has shown that 2d. is necessary, and that the councils realise that to enable these schemes to be carried on and the scheme initiated to be brought to fulfilment, a 2d. rate is necessary. It is provided that an extra penny may be struck if and when the council so desire. Furthermore, there is provision for an extra ½d. rate to be struck in connection with forestry. That will only take place when a forestry scheme has been decided upon and agreed upon by the authorities. It may be said that in the striking of the 2d. rate the position has changed in so far as, hereafter, it will be mandatory, whereas previously it was at the will of the local authority. However, the local authorities have shown by practice that a rate of 2d. is more or less necessary.

The Agriculture Department used to give a grant called an "equivalent grant" from general taxation towards these local schemes. Will that grant be continued?

There was always the understanding that when money was raised by the rating authority the State would also put up a certain amount. I should not be asked to be too precise on this question, but I understand that the provision of the moneys by the State will continue. Two small points were raised in the course of the debate. One was with regard to the transfer of certain functions under Section 5, Part I, of the Bill to the Department of Industry and Commerce. That has, of course, been in operation for some time, and was regularised by statistics legislation.

I do not think that any reasonable criticism can be passed on the fact that a statistics bureau attached to the Department of Industry and Commerce has been asked to collect statistics for agricultural purposes. It by no means follows that because the bureau is attached to the Department of Industry and Commerce it is composed of people who are only looking after industrial matters or who are skilled in the collection of figures relating to industry. Senator MacEllin has raised the point that the figures are not always accurate. I have often come home from a race meeting feeling that the starting price had not been exactly determined. The figures have to be collected, and an average figure arrived at. It is necessary that the figures should be accurately collected. If Senator MacEllin can show me where any big error was made, I shall have it investigated.

Will the Minister say whether there will not be an increase of rates as result of the passing of this Bill?

There is an increase in so far as it is only mandatory at present to have a penny rate and that has been raised to 2d. In actual practice, with the exception of three counties, a 2d. rate has already been struck. As opposed to the practice of the past, there will be very little increase.

My contention is that there will be an increase of 2d. over and above the present rate.

That is quite wrong.

The Minister for Agriculture stated distinctly in the Dáil: "For some years past, it has been felt that the rates which may be levied for agriculture are not sufficient for the needs of local schemes of agriculture." As a result of the passing of this Bill, there will be an increase.

That quotation has, most likely, relation to this—that, with the 2d., there is provision for an additional penny being struck, if so required, and it may be the opinion of the Minister for Agriculture that that extra penny will have to be struck if schemes are to be financed properly.

My contention is that there would be no necessity to make it mandatory on county councils to levy this 2d. rate if there was a considerable reduction in the number of officials employed. There is a considerable amount of overlapping. I suppose that the old officials will be pensioned off as a result of this Bill, and there will be no necessity for an increase of rate if they are not replaced by fresh hands.

Can the Minister say anything about my query regarding costings?

As the discussion has, to my surprise, dealt with things that the Department might do, I should like to add one comment. Section 4, sub-section (2), of the Bill deals with the power of the Minister to make experiments, engage in research, collect information, and so on. Following the example of previous Senators, I should like to direct the attention of the Minister to the desirability of collecting information regarding, and making research into, the value of a diet of milk to school children. This has been done in the United States of America, and in Scotland, with remarkable results. These results have shown the enormous value of milk to growing children from the physiological and health point of view, and in other respects. Further, I would suggest that he make inquiries into the extent of tuberculosis in dairy cattle in this country, and, related to that, the possibility of steadily and, as rapidly as possible, eradicating that tuberculosis. There are inquiries being undertaken in this respect, also, in other countries, but I have not heard of any systematic inquiry in this country.

Under Section 8, sub-section (3), it will be noticed that all moneys, stocks, shares and securities transferred to the the Minister by the section which, at the date of the commencement of this Act, are standing in the books of the Bank of Ireland or of any other corporation or company in the name of the Department shall, upon the request of the Minister, be transferred into the name of the Minister. Other sections of the Bill lay down that, on the passing of the Act, those things that stand in the name of the Department will, as an automatic result, be transferred to the name of the Minister. I am curious to know why in this particular case the transfer waits upon the request of the Minister. For information and elucidation I ask that question.

There is a section in the Bill that the Department is to be commended for. That is the section which brings all the officers of the Departmental Committees under the Local Authorities (Officers and Employees) Act. I think that that is an amendment of the law which is well justified and that the Minister is to be thanked for doing it.

I should like, following upon the statement of Senator O'Hanlon, to say that the work of the Ministry since the establishment of the Free State has been in almost every respect a continuation, with very little elaboration, of the work of the old Department. If one reads the report of the Recess Committee, which preceded the establishment of the Department thirty-one years ago, one will see how many of the recommendations of that Committee—I think I am right in saying that the drafting of the report was mainly the work of the late Mr. T.P. Gill—have been actually embodied in the law and practice of the Department and of the Ministry which has followed the Department. Notwithstanding the success, in many respects, of the work of the Department, I think it is true that that good work has not resulted in the promised development of agricultural wealth. I think that that is not the fault of the Department. To some extent— perhaps to a large extent—it is due to the failure of the agricultural community to respond to the good advice and instruction of the Department.

On the question of the spending of this rate, the expenses of the county committees of agriculture are in a great measure taken up on schemes for the benefit of agriculture. One scheme has been adverted to here to-day—the livestock premium scheme. In my opinion, that livestock premium scheme should have been abolished a couple of years ago. I was speaking to the Minister about it, but he would not hear of that. He said that the breeders must be subsidised. The position is that you have a premium holder coming to Ballsbridge. He has £50 or £60 of public money to spend before spending his own, whereas the ordinary farmer—and the majority are in this position—has to come and buy his animal against the man subsidised by him as a ratepayer and as a taxpayer. He has to go above that man's price before he can get an animal. That is the case of the majority of farmers. Now that we have a Livestock Breeding Act, under which bulls are examined yearly, it is time that we put a stop to this payment of premiums to breeders of pedigree stock. They ought to be able to live on their own, without asking the people to subsidise them any more than those engaged in any other branch of agriculture. The Minister for Industry and Commerce can hardly be expected to make a pronouncement on a question of this kind just now, and I do not expect him to do so. For myself, I can say that I have never understood what the officials were doing in any county. I have been farming a long time, and in more than one county, and I do not believe that I have ever seen one of these officials on my farm.

They look out for backward farmers.

They do not look out for me. I have heard them give lectures to groups of farmers. But in what other way they are earning their £500 a year I do not know. I notice that, in future, the Committee of Agriculture will be composed of practical farmers or persons interested in farming. When there is public money to be spent, I think that practical farmers will be found the same as anybody else. They will spend it. If they had not got the money, it would not be spent. It is a mistake in my opinion, to be forcing the ratepayers to spend this 2d. in the £. That should have been left optional.

I agree that the Department of Agriculture has been, on the whole, of great benefit. But Senator Johnson who has been praising the Department, pointed out that the pig population forty or fifty years ago was just as high as it is to-day. The Department has shown no result in that respect. The stock of cows 40 or 50 years ago was as good as it is to-day. What has the Department done in that respect? We have half a million being spent per year but the output is not increasing. I am afraid that we have too many instructors and too few workers. We have a bureaucracy teaching us what to do and how to do it, but we do not do it.

I was waiting to hear somebody say something in favour of the cattle trade. With regard to the Department's action in dealing with premiums, I should like to contradict some of the statements made in connection with these premiums. I can claim to be more or less the father of this Registration of Livestock Act. It is thirty years since I strove by advice and otherwise to have an improvement made in our cattle. Because of the old scrub bulls, we had a very bad name as regards cattle. The Department eventually came along and put up a scheme which I am glad to say has been more or less a success. At our last show there were over 1,000 bulls—

A Senator

Pampered bulls.

Cattle cannot be brought into good condition if they are not well fed. If you starve them, you will not have good cattle. On the question of premiums, when they were first introduced at our County Committee of Agriculture in Kildare, it was suggested that £10 was ample. The Department has, as is well known, laid down conditions as regards persons who get premiums. If a farmer buys a bull and keeps him in accordance with the conditions laid down in connection with the premium, he is bound to be at a loss. I was anxious to make it compulsory to award a premium of £20. Our late chairman in County Kildare, Mr. Brown, thought that it was the breeder of the bull who got the benefit of the premium, especially for the first year, and it was looked upon also as a condition that these bulls should be kept only one year. That was Mr. Brown's idea. We have a man now more conversant with the cattle trade, our present Minister, and that has been changed. I always considered that the premium should be at least £20 and that it should be allowed to remain in the hands of the farmer as long as thought desirable. I think the general opinion in the cattle trade in England and Scotland is that all our young cattle are taken away very quickly and at very high prices at present. This is one of the worst periods farmers have had. I never remember times so bad. This is the most unprofitable period we have had in stall feeding. The farmer is making £3 10s. per head loss in stall feeding.

That is the fault of the Department.

I take it they are not too ambitious, but I am sure they are anxious to give every help with the object of making prices better. I know they are anxious to give every assistance to our staple industry. I would be very sorry to see any change made. I think a good deal of the criticism we have heard in connection with the introduction of this Bill might well be left over for the Committee Stage. There is not so much to be found fault with. When the Bill comes to be considered in Committee it is quite possible that some improvements could be made in it. At the moment I think we ought to be satisfied that the Department is trying to do its very best.

With regard to the remarks that have been made about the instructors of the Department, my experience is exactly the opposite to that of Senator Wilson. I expect I am not as efficient in farming matters as Senator Wilson and perhaps I require more help, but I know that whenever I wanted assistance I was given very valuable advice by the Department's instructors. I would like to pay them that tribute.

Senator Keane asked a question in relation to farm accounts. I understand that a system of farm accounts has been devised, but some months must elapse before any definite information can be derived in connection with it. With regard to the technical points raised by Senator Johnson about the transfer of stocks, I understand the transfer takes place immediately, and the stocks are put in the name of the Minister at his request in accordance with the procedure under the Companies Acts.

Question—"That the Bill be now read a Second Time"—agreed to.

Committee Stage fixed for Wednesday, 18th March.