Veterinary Surgeons Bill, 1930—Second Stage.

Question proposed:—"That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

This is a Bill to make provision for the registration and control of veterinary surgeons, and for other purposes relating to the practice of veterinary surgery and veterinary medicine and the persons engaged in such practice. It is a Bill which is relatively simple; very simple, indeed, in comparison with similar measures introduced to regulate the registration and control of medical practitioners and dental practitioners in this country. The main portion of the Bill sets up a Council, and gives that Council certain control over the registration and the professional practice of people on the register. It gives certain charging powers, arranges for representation in a particular way, and establishes the profession in a regular way, making it illegal for anybody not on the register either to hold himself out as entitled to practise, or, in fact, to practise. At the moment there is no method of either regulating or controlling veterinary surgeons in the country.

This Bill, when passed, and a corresponding measure which will have to be passed elsewhere, will validate certain diplomas which have been granted on foot of certain examinations held without very much in the way of legal authority since the establishment of the Free State. In addition, the Bill confirms an agreement which forms the first schedule to it. This agreement is very much on the lines of the agreements previously entered into in connection with the medical and dental practitioners. The differences in this agreement as distinct from the other two agreements come rather from the nature of the veterinary control as heretofore existing in the country. In the case of medicine there were institutions recognised as teaching institutions entitled to give diplomas. In the case of veterinary surgeons, there was only one, and that was the college recognised as being part of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

This agreement may be described as simply allowing the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to establish a centre for the holding of their examinations here and to validate that holding. In consideration of that the people who pass that examination will be entitled to have the diploma M.R.C.V.S. conferred on them to practise outside this country or wherever that degree gives power to practise.

There is the further consideration in the other way, that those who take that degree, whether obtained here or elsewhere, will be entitled to go on our register and practise in this country. The Bill looks to the establishment of a diploma-conferring corporation in this country. This Bill would have been delayed until that corporation was in being only for the fact that examinations already held in a somewhat irregular fashion had to be validated. Those holding examinations complain very seriously of the delay occasioned even to date. It was feared that the whole examination system might have broken down if this measure was not introduced.

It is intended that the present Veterinary College should be handed over to the Dublin College of the National University, and that the University should be empowered to confer diplomas entitling to practise in this country. The examination that will be held for that purpose will be somewhat similar to but may differ entirely from the examination held for the purpose of obtaining the M.R.C.V.S. That, however, will arise in a later measure.

I agree that some legislation is necessary in this country to regulate and control the profession of veterinary surgeons in view of the various changes that have taken place in recent years. From what I know of the subject, this seems to be an excellent Bill. There is, however, one provision in it which seems to me to be of doubtful wisdom. It arises under Section 23. It appears to me to make the Minister for Agriculture virtually the administrative chief of the Veterinary Council. I think that would be undersirable and might lead to a lot of trouble. The point is really a Committee one and can be dealt with later. I refer to it now so that the Minister may have an opportunity of considering it before we take the Committee Stage of the Bill. If the words "is authorised" were taken out of the section it would meet my point. I think it is right that the Minister should be given power to compel the Council to do everything they are required to do under the Bill, but that he should be put into a position to give them orders to carry out what they are authorised to do would really make him the virtual head of the supreme council of veterinary opinion in the country. I doubt whether that would be a desirable position, and possibly it may not be intended.

This is a most important Bill. It is essential that our veterinary surgeons should possess the highest qualifications and should be people of the highest integrity and honour. It is important, too, I think that there should be harmony and co-operation between the Council to be set up under the Bill and the College of Veterinary Surgeons. During the past two years the British Government have spent millions of money in trying to maintain a clean bill of health for their livestock. In view of the enormous quantity of livestock that we export to Great Britain I am sure everyone will agree that there should be the greatest co-operation and harmony between the two bodies, the one operating here and the one at the other side. If we had an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in this country and there was any friction between our veterinary surgeons and the Department of Agriculture and between the Department of Agriculture in England and their veterinary surgeons it would place us in a very awkward position. They might place an embargo on our cattle as they did three or four years age, and then when they did let them in, unless they had confidence in the ability of our veterinary surgeons, they might hold the cattle in quarantine, a thing which would be ruinous to the livestock trade of this country.

I do not think anyone can object to this Bill. When originally introduced in the Dáil objection was made to certain provisions in it and these were eliminated. Section 45 is the only one that I am not quite satisfied with. When we reach the Committee Stage I think the Minister might consider inserting in it certain words which would make it quite clear that farmers, their servants or herds can, without fear of prosecution, attend to livestock, that they can even perform surgical operations and treat the cattle with medicine and in other ways. As the section stands it is not quite clear that they can perform these operations without rendering themselves liable to prosecution. I hope the Minister will agree to an amendment rendering them immune from such prosecution and that they will have a perfect right to treat their own livestock.

With the main principle of the Bill I am in agreement. Section 46 is the only one to which I take any exception. It limits, to a certain extent, the option of farmers or stockowners to employ certain persons to treat their cattle. I observe that the Bill as originally introduced has been considerably modified and improved in that respect. There is, however, in my opinion, room for further improvement. Under the Bill as it stands, a farmer is entitled to employ somebody who is not a veterinary surgeon provided he is a farmer, that he is a person who habitually keeps animals for profit, or the servant of any such person. If he does not happen to come under any of these categories, and if a farmer calls upon him to treat his cattle, that person will be liable to a penalty of £100. I suggest that that condition should be wiped out and that the farmer should be entitled to call in any person to treat his cattle provided that he does not represent himself as being a veterinary surgeon and does not claim the right to recover fees for what he does. I will give an example of what may happen if such an amendment is not inserted. There is one disease that farmers' animals suffer frequently from, especially young horses. They take gravel in their hoofs. It enters between the quick and the hoof and causes an abscess. The only remedy for it is to get a blacksmith to open up the hoof and free the matter. Even if a veterinary surgeon is called in all he can do is to tell the farmer to take the horse to the forge and get the smith to see to it. Under the section as it stands the blacksmith would be liable to a penalty of £100 if he attempted to treat a farmer's horse suffering from gravel in the hoof. I think if the Minister considers the matter he will hardly keep that section as it is in the Bill. I suggest to him that he should remove such a useless condition as that, but retain the other condition that the man is not to represent himself as a veterinary surgeon and will not be entitled to recover any fee for what he has done.

I want to direct attention to exactly the same point that Senator Linehan has touched upon. The Bill, so far as it attempts to make the position of veterinary surgeons under the new political conditions satisfactory—that is to say, to regularise the position of veterinary surgeons—is worthy of support. I am not going to deal with the details of the Agreement between the two Governments in that respect, but it is clear that the main purpose of the Bill is to place the veterinary surgeons of this country in relatively the identical position they were in before the Treaty. Why the Minister should introduce new powers and give new privileges to veterinary surgeons I do not know. So far as I have read the debates that took place on the Bill in the other House, there has been no justification uttered in favour of the proposal to extend the powers and privileges of the College of Veterinary Surgeons.

In dealing with this Bill it is just as well, perhaps, to start at the beginning. To show what is the position of veterinary surgery in this country, let me say that, according to the census of occupation, there are 294 veterinary surgeons, of whom 65 reside in Dublin City and County. That is to say, these 229 people outside of Dublin are going to be granted the privilege of attending and caring the whole livestock of the country. For instance, in the County of Offaly there is one veterinary surgeon. You have there 5,500 farmers, 12,000 horses, 96,000 cattle, and 55,000 sheep. Therefore, what we are asked to say is that all the livestock and horses in that county are to be placed in the care of one veterinary surgeon, except that possibly a farmer or a farmer's man may be allowed to do work which is supposed to be the privilege of a veterinary surgeon. But this question goes a little further. As Senator Linehan has pointed out, the Bill, as originally introduced, aimed at preventing anybody performing operations, administering medicine, selling medicine, or doing anything of that kind except a veterinary surgeon. Even on the last stage of the Bill in the Dáil, when all the amendments had been gone through and pretty well agreed to and when certain modification had been made, the Minister explained that he wanted to exclude everybody except the farmer or other persons who habitually keep animals for profit or the servant of any such person, from performing such operations.

I know of a man who lives not far from the ancestral home of the Minister who is called upon by his neighbours, over a very big area, to perform simple operations, administer medicine to livestock, and so on. I do not know whether he keeps animals for profit. Possibly he does. If he has not been in the habit of doing so and wants to come in under this Bill, he may now take to the breeding of white mice. Therefore, there can be easy evasion of the provision. It would be an easy thing for a man, if he wants to evade this provision of the Bill, to bring himself within it by adopting the method I have mentioned. Throughout the country there are many people who are not farmers, farmers' servants, or herds attending livestock of one kind or another. It is inevitable that that must be so because of the very small number, proportionately, of veterinary surgeons that there are.

One of the Acts referred to in this Bill is the Veterinary Surgeons (Amendment) Act, 1920. When that measure was introduced in the British Parliament a discussion took place in reference to a new by-law that had been introduced into the regulations of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons dealing with the question of unregistered practitioners. Occasion was taken of the introduction of the amending Bill on behalf of the Veterinary College to criticise this new by-law. There was great danger that the Bill promoted by the Veterinary College would not be passed because of the opposition of members representing farmers, of members concerned with sport and livestock to this by-law, which appeared to prevent livestock owners from calling in the aid of unregistered practitioners. I propose to refer to one or two speeches that were delivered when the debates took place on that Bill. I do so for the purpose of showing that there is a certain amount of breach of promise in this section on the assumption that this section has been put in at the instigation of the veterinary surgeons. The Minister reminded us that the Irish veterinary surgeons are part of the Royal College. It was on behalf of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons that certain promises were made. The British Minister of Agriculture (Mr. Boscawen), speaking in the House of Commons, said that he wanted to speak of the fully-qualified practitioner who had an assistant who was unregistered and was not fully qualified. He went on to say:

There is no objection to his doing so. The Government certainly has no objection, and I do not think the promoters of the Bill have any objection, provided he does not use the qualifications and status of his chief to enable him to palm himself off as a registered practitioner.

I do not know whether any veterinary surgeons in this country in practice have unregistered practitioners working alongside them, but I gather from the discussions that took place in this British debate—whether it has since been remedied I cannot say—that some of the university colleges outside the supervision of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons did train persons who did not succeed in getting their diplomas. They were unqualified practitioners, and unregistered, and yet they were allowed to practise as assistants to qualified men. Whether there are many persons of that kind in this country I cannot say, but if there are this Bill would prevent them from acting in the treatment of live stock.

The member of the House of Commons—Mr. Cautley—who spoke on behalf of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, said the College had entrusted him with the care of the Bill. In the course of his contribution to the debate he said:

"None of the old Acts or the amending Acts, or any of them, touch at all the practice of operations for the doctoring of animals at all. The power that is given to the College is to set up a teaching school to exercise disciplinary powers over its members, and it has the power to secure to those of its members who have gone through an expensive training the right of reserving to themselves the title of duly qualified veterinary surgeons. Beyond that it gives no power, and it is open to anybody to perform these operations on animals providing they do not represent themselves as duly qualified veterinary surgeons. This measure is a proposal, not so much for the protection of the men who are qualified, as for the protection of the public at large, and it provides funds for the increase of veterinary knowledge and practice and for the extension of research work.

The unqualified men who perform certain operations on sheep and pigs are doing not only a useful but an important work for agriculture. This Bill does not interfere with them in the slightest degree.

The Minister for Agriculture, in the House of Commons, read a letter received from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons on this particular matter. Portion of this letter I propose to quote. It is dated June 1, 1920, and says:

The Council hereby also undertakes that no alteration in this by-law shall be made in future without consultation, in the first instance, with the Ministry of Agriculture.

That is dealing with a by-law which was withdrawn because of the criticism of those who opposed the new powers which the College of Veterinary Surgeons sought. The letter goes on:

I am at the same time to give this official assurance that there is nothing in the amendment Bill which will interfere, nor has the college any desire to interfere, with the work of unregistered persons of any description in the performance of operations on or the treatment of animals, provided they do not represent themselves to be qualified veterinary surgeons.

That promise was made by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and the letter was signed by the Secretary to the Council. Speaker after speaker, in the later stages of that debate, made it plain that, though there was no legal obligation upon future governors of the college to abide by that promise, it was an honourable undertaking and would be maintained. Section 46 of this Bill seems to me to be clearly a departure from that promise, given on behalf of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, in so far as their Irish members are concerned. Sub-section (3) of Section 46 says:

Nothing in this section shall render it unlawful for any farmer or other person who habitually keeps animals for profit

to do any of those things to which I have referred, but if anybody wants to perform these operations and to evade the Act all they have to do is to keep hens or dogs or any other animals and attempt to sell them. That will be called "keeping animals for profit." If it is going to be so easy to evade a provision of that kind, ought it to remain in the Bill? If it has any value at all, it seems to me it is to give a privilege to the veterinary surgeons which they never yet had—to give them the beginnings of a monopoly of a right to treat animals. If there were a sufficient number of qualified veterinary surgeons in the country to perform all the duties that they are called upon to perform, there might be a great deal to be said for giving this institution a monopoly of the work. If there were a sufficient number of registered and qualified plumbers, it could be said that they should have the government of their own occupation and a monopoly of its functions. But we have only 200 or 300 veterinary surgeons in this country and the care of all the horses, cattle, pigs and poultry is to be entrusted to them except in so far as farmers and farm servants are to be allowed to treat them.

How many are they?

Many thousands, but in many places the particularly competent man is neither a farmer nor a farm servant. Any person who has had experience of dealing with farmers or cattle dealers or people of that class knows that it is the odd man very often who is neither a farmer nor a farm servant who has the particular knack, capacity, ability, insight—I might almost say the natural gift—to enable him to deal with animals. Unless that provision is deleted, you will be extending the powers and privileges of veterinary surgeons. Before the Second Reading of this Bill is passed, we should have some justification by the Minister for extending this privilege to 200 or 300 veterinary surgeons. From the point of view of real utility, there seems to be no great need for it. It seems to be a departure from the assurance given by the College of Veterinary Surgeons, and since it is a provision which can be so easily evaded it is unwise to include it in this Bill.

I have read this Bill and I have followed some of the debates that took place upon it. I do not propose to deal with any element in the Bill affecting the operations of the veterinary surgeons. I do not know anything about veterinary work or about animal diseases. I should like, however, to ask one or two questions regarding the Schedule and to raise one or two points on it. I do so in the hope that the Minister will be able to give a satisfactory explanation. In the first place, it seems to me regrettable that an agreement in a matter of this kind should not be made on the basis of reciprocity. What I mean by that is that such degrees as would be conferred by the Irish Veterinary College would be accepted by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and, on the other hand, that this country would recognise the degrees granted by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. It seems to me that such an agreement might be made on the basis of reciprocity rather than leaving us entirely subject to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, as the Schedule seems to imply. Section 2 of the Schedule is most complicated. I think it is one long sentence from beginning to end. It states:

Subject to the provisions of this agreement and notwithstanding anything contained in the Irish Free State Constitution Act, 1922, or the Irish Free State (Consequential Provisions) Act, 1922, or the Constitution of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Eireann) Act, 1922, passed by the Provisional Parliament of Ireland, or the Adaptation of Enactments Act, 1922, passed by the Oireachtas of the Irish Free State or any order made under any of those Acts, the constitution of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons under the Charters and the Veterinary Surgeons Acts and the powers and duties formerly vested in or imposed on that College of holding examinations for the purpose of testing the fitness of persons to practise as veterinary surgeons ... shall be deemed not to have been affected by the establishment of the Irish Free State.

I shall not read the whole section. Most of you have read it and tried to digest it, and it requires some digesting. It obviously leaves us a subordinate and subject body to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. That may be inevitable. I do not know why it should be. I feel that, sooner or later, we ought to evolve a standard of our own in our own veterinary college. I am speaking as a layman and not from the point of view of the university or the veterinary surgeons. I claim no right to give expert opinion, but it seems to me that we ought to reserve within ourselves the right to claim a status for our own veterinary college without being subject to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Our standard ought to be at least as high as that of England, and the most desirable way, and the most suitable way, of dealing with the matter from a national point of view would be on the basis of reciprocity. They might recognise our degrees and we might recognise theirs. I do not want to misquote the Minister, but I think he said that this Bill was more or less on the lines of the Medical Practitioners Bill. It will be observed from Section 2 of the First Schedule that the entire control of the examinations carried out in the Saorstát will be directly under the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Where is that in the Bill?

It is a long section.

Will the Senator read lines 37 and 38?

I shall read from line 32:

... the constitution of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons under the Charters and the Veterinary Surgeons Acts and the powers and duties formerly vested in or imposed on that College of holding examinations for the purpose of testing the fitness of persons to practise as veterinary surgeons and of granting as a result of such examinations diplomas qualifying for registration in the General Veterinary Register, and other diplomas in veterinary science or any branch thereof shall be deemed not to have been affected by the establishment of the Irish Free State.

I may be wrong, but I interpret that as meaning that the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons will still control all our examinations and the granting of our diplomas.

Only for the purpose of entering the General Veterinary Register.

That is to say, we shall have control of the examinations for our home veterinary surgeons.

Yes. If the Senator looks at the Bill he will see that.

I think the Bill says in another place——

Is the Senator quite clear so far as that part is concerned— that that only applies to registration in the General Veterinary Register? That is the whole purpose of Part 2 of the First Schedule.

That is the register of the Royal Society?

The General Register—that is to say, the English register.

From that I conclude that we cannot appoint our own examiners.

Not for the General Register.

But we can for the other one?

Will the Minister tell us under what clause we shall have control of our own examining body? Under clause 8 of the Schedule a particular teacher will be allowed to act as third examiner. Does that only apply to the General Register?

Yes. The Senator ought to read the section. That is clear from the terms of it.

The Minister's explanation satisfies me that this only applies as far as the register of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons is concerned, and that practitioners here who do not want to be on the Royal College register can practise as usual. I should like to ask definitely if they will be deemed to be competent to practise here as veterinary surgeons under an Irish Council?

I refer the Senator to Section 31, sub-section (1), paragraph (b), which states that persons shall be registered if they have a diploma in veterinary science, veterinary surgery or veterinary medicine granted by an university or college in Saorstát Eireann. We can establish our own diploma and conferring corporation at any time.

I must say, at the outset, that I am not satisfied with this Bill. It is suggested that this Bill goes, more or less, on the lines of the Medical Practitioners Bill. It is desirable that medical practitioners should be registered, and should be, if you like, a very close profession, because the lives of men depend upon their skill. When you come to deal with the practice of the veterinary surgeon, the subject matter is different. I do not pretend any ignorance of agricultural processes or of farming. I do claim to have a thorough knowledge of farming, and, for that reason, I am opposed to making the ordinary attendance on and care of animals throughout the country the special province of a close corporation. Many a time we see a yearling or calf, worth about £5, requiring a certain amount of attention and skill either in the way of medicine or in the way of a surgical operation—say a bone-setting operation.

The beast might be worth about £5. Its leg might be broken. There might be in the parish a man who could set that bone as well as any veterinary surgeon in Ireland or Great Britain. I have known men of that class. They have held themselves out to be persons capable of setting the bones of cattle, giving medicine to cattle, and understanding the methods of treatment of cattle. They had no other way of living, and they made a good living out of this work. They were quite as skilful as any veterinary surgeons I know. I have cattle, and if any of them were sick I would be as well pleased to go to a man with long experience in the care of cattle, whether he kept animals for profit or not, as I would be to go to the county town for a veterinary surgeon. The cost of bringing a veterinary surgeon a long distance to see an animal worth £5 or £6 would be out of all proportion to the advantage gained. For that reason I have the strongest possible objection to Sections 45 and 46 of this Bill. This Bill seems to have been drafted by very able and skilful men following on the lines of the Medical Practitioners Act. They are skilful on these lines, but they did not know anything whatever about the facts with which they had to deal. Here is what I object to—Section 45:—

No person shall be entitled to recover in any legal proceedings any fee or charge for or on account of any veterinary surgical or veterinary medical advice or attendance given by him or any veterinary surgical operation performed by him unless such person was a registered veterinary surgeon when (as the case may be) such advice or attendance was given or such operation was performed.

I know cases of men with great skill in the treatment of animals. They are known throughout the barony. They are sound people to give medicine to animals, to set the bones of animals. They are paid for their services; they are entitled to payment, and such people have been known for generations. They are a part of the public life of the place, and I think that the Ministers, when they are drafting Bills of this description, ought to have more regard for the circumstances of the country. These men are entitled to their wages, and many gentlemen here in this Seanad know thoroughly well that what I say is in accordance with the facts and with sound experience. I am glad Senator Toal agrees with me, for these are matters within the knowledge of experienced men like the pair of us. I object to Section 46, which is a prohibition of the practice of veterinary surgery or medicine by unregistered persons. The section reads: "It shall not be lawful for any person to practise or to represent or hold himself out, whether directly or by invitation, as practising or being prepared to practise veterinary surgery or veterinary medicine unless he is for the time being a registered veterinary surgeon." Therefore, the section, while pretending to yield to the rural objection—and I think I fairly represent the rural objection to this Bill—does not really yield at all, because here is a prohibition against a person holding himself out as prepared to practise certain things which are not defined. The man whose life is spent and whose experience has been gained in the care of animals and ministering to them is not protected under that sub-section. In fact, he is exposed.

Section 2 states: "... Every person who acts in contravention of this section shall be guilty of an offence under this section, and shall be liable in respect of each such offence on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding £100." I would like to know where "Seán Donohoe" would get £100. It is ridiculous. Sub-section (3) reads:—

"Nothing in this section shall render it unlawful for any farmer or other person who habitually keeps animals for profit or the servant of any such person to perform on or administer to an animal of any class (whether owned or not owned by any such person) any operation or medicine the performing or administering of which is incidental to the usual care and management of animals of that class: provided that such person or servant does not hold himself out as a registered veterinary surgeon." Senator Johnson thinks that is in favour of the local practitioner, the unprofessional practitioner. What does "incidental to the usual care and management of animals of that class" mean? When that section comes to be construed it will be found that the privilege which Senator Johnson thinks is given to a person who keeps animals for profit is no privilege at all. Here is where the pressure will come on that section—"the usual care and management of animals." What is the usual care of cattle, and what is the usual care of sheep, etc.?

Senator Johnson, with great care, attention, and skill, read into that section that it would be possible for a man keeping a few hens to perform the operations which have been mentioned in the case of animals. Senator Johnson thought that the section could be evaded in that way. In my opinion the section cannot be evaded in that way, because it only refers to the usual care of animals. That is a section which will come up for consideration, and when it does receive consideration it will be of a narrow character. Therefore the person called the "cow doctor""sheep doctor" or "pig doctor"— we call them "cow doctors" in our part of the country—is completely victimised by this Bill, and deprived of his way of living, and the farmers of the country are interfered with in a most unjustifiable way by legislation of this character. What is to happen in the County Clare with two, or perhaps only one veterinary surgeon?

There are seven.

Are there seven? There used to be two in my time. There is only one in Queen's County, and I am certain that there are farms in County Clare from which a man must send 50 miles for a veterinary surgeon to look after a yearling whose leg is broken. You are going too far with legislation of this character. I am opposed to these two sections. There are good points in the Bill, skilfully drawn by people making figures in the air, who know nothing at all about the real merits of the case. I do not wish to oppose the Bill, but these two sections are bad.

In connection with this Bill, I have a deep interest. All my life I have been connected with the cattle trade, and I have an opportunity of knowing a good deal of the ins and outs of all things connected with the livestock industry. With regard to this Bill, in connection with the arrangements made to give security and a good opinion to the people who are our best customers—the English and Scotch buyers—we are in agreement, and believe that every facility possible should be taken advantage of. Coming down to our own country, the question of bringing in a veterinary surgeon to attend pigs, cattle and sheep is, I believe, unworkable. In my early days in the Co. Tipperary we had diseases such as blood murrain, staggers and other diseases, peculiar to the district. Some of the farms were absolutely unsaleable owing to the prevalence of illness. The idea of asking veterinary surgeons to attend to the local cases that I know of, and we still have cases of blood murrain and other diseases that affect cattle, would be unreasonable. I have to make a personal matter of it. I got a book of all the cures from the local herds, who had a life-long experience. They possessed a certain amount of authority and people believed in them, and I, personally, have reason to know that the most celebrated cures for those diseases were handed down from father to son.

I have a book, a large one, in which all these cures were entered from the local herds and those men to whom the Senator alluded as bone setters. I have friends of my own in the country who have cures that were handed down from father to son. I had my arm broken twice and I had it locally set, and I must say that these people are almost perfect. After reading the Bill carefully, I would certainly say with regard to these threats of prosecution against people who act against the ruling laid down in these sections, that to fine them £100 would be absurd. I would suggest that Sections 45, 46 and 47 be washed out of this Bill altogether. They are most mischievous and would not be popular with the people I represent. People will not take the slightest notice of them, and I believe they are quite justified in attending to their own stock. There is no use in bringing in people who have only a theoretical or book knowledge in comparison to herds who have a life-long experience of much more value than any of those newfangled ideas. Consequently I strongly oppose these three sections, 45, 46 and 47. I think the Bill will be greatly improved by having them clean out of it.

I rise to ask a question. I wish to know if the veterinary register is to be filled by examination set by the Veterinary College here, or by the National University. I think the Minister, in his opening speech, referred to the National University. I would like to know whether a veterinary surgeon who has received a degree, whether from the Veterinary College or the National University, comes under the Irish register and whether with that degree, or registration, he is entitled to practise in England, Scotland, or wherever the Royal Veterinary College has jurisdiction.

There is one matter that seems to have been overlooked by those who spoke previously. There was no advertence made to professional services being within the reach of the small farmer. In my experience the small farmers, and I might say the average farmers, are completely strange in remote districts to professional services of any kind, and I suggest that they cannot afford these services. When this Bill was drafted, when the odium was thrown on men who gave local veterinary services, I think there should be some reciprocity between veterinary surgeons and farmers so as to put professional services within the latter's reach. Comparisons have been made with the medical service, but in my opinion there is no parallel at all between the two professions. Small farmers, and again I say the average farmers, find it almost impossible to engage a veterinary surgeon. When he has to go a long distance, as they say in the country, "it takes the beast to pay the damage." If it was possible that some organisation of veterinary services could be thought out that would be in reach of the small farmer, it would be most desirable. I have no objection to the general principles of the Bill. I think it is desirable they should be placed upon the same plane as the other professions. The matter should be considered and thought out.

I am in thorough agreement with the general purposes of the Bill, and I cannot bring my mind into the same line of thought as Senator O'Connor or Senator Comyn as regards Sections 45 and 46. I think the Bill as it stands does not preclude the big or the small farmer calling in the unqualified man provided that man does not hold himself out as a veterinary surgeon, and there is nothing in the Bill to prevent a farmer, if he is a decent man, paying the individual if he has got service. I have sympathy with the individual referred to by Senator Comyn, who has no contact with farming except through practising in the way of small operations. I have in mind one particular individual who had claims to have a tradition in his family like some of the bone-setters in the country. He holds himself out as an ordinary handy man and gets fees for that purpose. The Bill, as soon as it is put into operation, precludes him giving out his service for fees and will minimise his chance of making a livelihood. What can he do? He has no line. The Minister should think out some scheme whereby in the transition period these people would be safeguarded to some extent. I have tried to think out something, but I cannot make any suggestion. They have given service to the farming community and veterinary surgeons have not been so well organised. In my opinion they are sparse enough at the moment. I think men like the individual I refer to, on account of the services they have given, deserve some consideration.

On the general principle I am in agreement with the Bill. There is one section dealing with erasure from the register of persons convicted of crimes to which I would like to refer. I do not anticipate that the Minister will agree with me when I say that the passage relating to disqualification for treason should be taken out of the Bill. I know how treason is looked upon by the Government, but it must be remembered that as we are at present constituted we have two Governments in the country, with the people living under each Government not particularly desiring that Government, and you will always have attempts of one kind or another until Ireland is undivided and absolutely free. In 1916, during the initial stages of the fight for freedom, there were men connected with the medical profession and with veterinary surgery who were put on trial for high treason. Attempts were made to put these men off the register because of that, but these attempts failed. Some of these men afterwards turned out to be very good supporters of the present Executive. I think this is a bad principle to introduce into a Bill that concerns the administration of the veterinary laws.

On a point of explanation, I would like to mention that Senator Bagwell has pointed out to me that the copy of the Bill from which I was quoting was as amended in Committee. Looking at a more recent issue of the Bill, as amended on the Report Stage, I observe that my objections to Sections 45 and 46 are satisfied.

Three points mainly have been raised, one relating to the Schedule, one relating to the group of Sections from 45 to 47, and the point that was raised by Senator Bagwell at the beginning. With regard to Section 23, I am not at all wedded to the form of words set out there, but I would like to safeguard one principle. We are establishing a Council. We are not having Government representation on it. There is nobody appointed by the Executive Council. The entire personnel of the Council will be drawn from those elected by the members of the profession. If it is thought right to have any touch as between the actions of this body and the Government, then there should be some way of removing those people from office if they misbehave. If the Senator thinks that this section gives the Minister for Agriculture too wide a power, and if he submits an amendment which would allow of the removal of members and provide further that the Minister for Agriculture would lay a statement before both Houses, giving his reasons, that will give us sufficient control or touch, which will be exercised only as a last resort.

The section sets out: "If at any time the Minister is satisfied, either after such inquiry as the Minister thinks fit to make or without such inquiry, that the Council has on any occasion failed to do any matter or thing which the Council is authorised or required ... to do ..." The Senator said that he did not object to the Minister taking power where a Council was required to do something and failed to do it. The section states: "... and the doing of which by the Council on that occasion was in the opinion of the Minister necessary or appropriate for the proper exercise of the functions ..." The Minister has to satisfy himself on the matter, and, of course, he would be subject to cross-examination by way of parliamentary question as to why the Council had been treated in that way. I am not bound by this form of wording. I want, however, to preserve some touch, even though at long distance and as a last resort, with the Council, so that if they did misbehave or did something which they were not authorised to do, then some other action could be taken.

The question of the Schedule was raised by Senator Connolly. I said, by way of introduction, that Section 2 of the First Schedule refers to the old powers of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. It sets out: "Subject to the provisions of this Agreement ... the constitution of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons under the Charters and the Veterinary Surgeons Acts and the powers and duties formerly vested in or imposed on that College of holding examinations for the purpose of testing the fitness of persons to practise as veterinary surgeons and of granting as a result of such examinations diplomas qualifying for registration in the General Veterinary Register and other diplomas in veterinary science or any branch thereof shall be deemed not to have been affected by the establishment of the Irish Free State ..." The last part of it says: "... for the purpose of the preparation and keeping of the General Veterinary Register, the Council of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and their officers shall, subject to the provisions of this Agreement, have and may exercise in relation to persons, colleges, and matters in the Irish Free State all such powers, jurisdictions, and authorities under the Charters and the Veterinary Surgeons Acts as the said Council and their officers formerly had ..." That section of the Agreement is entirely confined to entry to the General Veterinary Register and the keeping of that register.

Does it mean that the diploma granted by the National University would be accepted for the General Register, or does it imply that a second examination is to be held?

That is entirely a different matter. As far as Section 2 of the general agreement is concerned it relates only to powers previously held by this college with regard to examinations entitling to registration on the General Register. The Senator also raised a point about examinations. That matter is dealt with in Section 8 of the agreement, which states: "At every examination held in the Irish Free State by the Council of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons ..." They are entitled to hold these examinations under Section 2. Senator Guinness asked me a question which has relation to that. He wanted to know what is the position of people who want to practise in this country. They do not come under this agreement at all. The only way in which this country is tied, and it is only tied to the extent to which it agrees to the Schedule, is on matters contained in the Schedule, and they only relate to entry on the General Register.

There is no prohibition on this country having any examination it likes; establishing any corporation granting diplomas for the purpose of practising in this country. Section 31 points to that. It states: "After the establishment of the register the following persons shall, on making the prescribed application, and paying the fees required by this Act to be paid on such application, be entitled (save as is otherwise provided by this section) to be registered in the register, that is to say:— (a) every person who is at the time of such application registered in the General Veterinary Register, and (b) every person who at the time of such application is possessed of a diploma in veterinary science, veterinary surgery or veterinary medicine, granted by a university or college in Saorstát Eireann, and for the time being recognised by law as a diploma conferring on the possessor thereof the right to be registered in the register." This is aiming at what we have in view, that at some time in the near future the present Veterinary College is going to be handed over, with the approval of the Oireachtas, to University College, Dublin, a constituent college of the National University. That college will establish a veterinary faculty. We will, in the act of handing over to that college, confer on them by law the power of conferring a diploma, entitling to practise in this country. A person who does not want to practise outside this country need not go near the General Register. He can sit for his examination in the University College, Dublin, and that is all that he will have to submit to. The person who gets the diploma, the M.R.C.V.S., is entitled to practise in England and in this country.

That is only granted by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons?

Yes. The person who takes out the National University diploma can only practise in Ireland. If he wants to practise outside this country he will have to sit for a second examination. We have been asked why we have not a reciprocal system. The answer is that we could not get it. This Bill is practically on the same lines as the legislation in regard to medicine and dentistry. There is a difference, however, in comparison with the previous constitutions of the medical and the dental establishments. The Veterinary College have held rigidly to this, that they do not recognise any examination held outside the ægis of their own system as entitling to the diploma of M.R.C.V.S. If any person wants to get that diploma that person must submit to their examination. This agreement allows the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to establish an examination centre for their degree in Dublin, and the consideration for that was that those of our people who took out the course here and sat for the examination got the M.R.C.V.S., if they passed, and that entitled them to practise outside this country. The people who want to confine themselves to this country need not touch that examination; they can go for the examination in University College.

Is it not a fact that certain colleges which have been in the habit of granting veterinary certificates or diplomas up to a point were not recognised by the Royal College and at that point were brought in and recognised? I think the Edinburgh College was brought in at a later stage automatically by law. Was there not an automatic inclusion in the Royal College register of those people who obtained a Scottish diploma?

That may have been with regard to people who at some time had a diploma and who were carried into the system. At the moment, and for the future, the system is that anyone who takes out the M.R.C.V.S. degree has to submit to examination under the conditions which the Royal College lays down, or any colleges they recognise. They do not recognise any college on its own as entitled to give a course and hold examinations separately. They recognise certain of the Dominion colleges, and, in fact, they do recognise this, as entitling to give a course.

Will a person who has got a certificate in England be allowed to act in Ireland?

Yes, if it is the M.R.C.V.S.

It is unfortunate that we have not the charter of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons before us. It is only by asking questions now that we can get information before we vote upon the Bill.


The Senator should have put the questions in the course of his speech.

I want to know if the amount of recognition given to the Irish university colleges, or such colleges as will grant degrees or diplomas, is the same as is granted to colleges in other countries?

The Royal College here is in a much better position than any college in any other Dominion.

It is on the same footing as colleges in Scotland and one other college in England, as well as the London College. No Dominion college has the same rights as the Veterinary College in Dublin; at least, it has not at the moment, and I understand the system will continue that way. That deals with whatever remarks were made in connection with the agreement. I think that, with the exception of one other small point, every other speaker dealt with Sections 45, 46 and 47, and dealt with them as if the only persons entitled to practise were the registered veterinary practitioners. That is not so. I had considerable difficulty about this clause. I want to say that I did not draft the Bill and I did not even draw up the instructions for the drafting. My Department of Industry and Commerce had nothing to do with the drafting. The instructions for the drafting of the Bill were drawn up by the Department of Agriculture. I happen to be dealing with the Bill because I dealt with the negotiations for the agreement and I had previous touch with two other measures which ran on similar lines to this.

The Bill proceeds in the main from the Department of Agriculture. It was discussed with agriculturists and members of the veterinary profession. On Second Reading in the other House I mentioned certain suggestions made to me by members of the veterinary profession as to an enlargement that might be made in one rather rigidly drafted clause as it first appeared. I had very many discussions with those who presented this suggestion to me, as representing farmers' interests in the country, and I had the advantage of deriving a certain amount of information from them. We had two objects in view. We wanted to establish the profession and give it a name, and we were anxious not to allow any persons to hold themselves out as registered practitioners unless they were actually so. We did recognise that there might be a considerable number of small operations which would have to be performed, or cases in which medicine would have to be administered, when there would not be a registered veterinary surgeon within reach. We sought to enlarge the Bill to allow these operations to be done without conflict with the law.

With regard to payment, I found every Party in the Dáil in agreement that nobody should be allowed to sue for fees unless he was a registered practitioner. I then came on to the point as to what type of operation was going to be covered and who was to be allowed to do small operations. I put down amendments myself, and I would ask Senators to look them up, detailing the number of operations. I pointed out these operations could be performed by anybody, making a limitation, not with regard to the person, but with regard to the type of operation. We considered a general clause that we should prohibit in a rigid way, but that the section should not apply to any operation which the Minister for Agriculture might schedule as an allowed operation. That would have given very wide power and it would have been a very difficult choice on the part of the Minister concerned. I do not know that he was going to avoid that difficulty, but at any rate the amendment did not commend itself to the people who were discussing it.

In the end it was suggested that we should throw open the administering of medicine and the performance of operations of a normal type to farmers, stockowners or to the servants of either. I asked those who were then arguing that the Bill was too rigid to give me categories of people who were not covered by the term "farmer, stockowner or the servant of either" and then we would see if the section could be enlarged to bring them in. Deputy O'Connell, in the other House, gave me an example of a man who had been a farmer and stockowner but who is now unemployed, and he mentioned that although he was a handyman he was outside the Bill. He did not press that. Senator Linehan now gives the case of a smith.

I had another case of a particular disease which is in a certain county and, when I asked how I was to include this, I was told I could not because it was not an operation nor did it mean administering medicine; it was really a miracle. How we are to meet all these cases, I do not know. The clause is open for enlargement, but it is not intended to enlarge it for the sake of single individuals. If there are categories of cases we might make some attempt to cover them. It is wrong to talk of the Bill as if we were merely dealing with 259 veterinary surgeons outside of Dublin. We must consider the farmers, the stockowners and the servants of both, and if that is not a big enough number of people to perform operations on animals, then the animal deserves our pity and commiseration much more than the cow-doctors who may be put out of employment. The Department of Agriculture made the case to me that what they wanted was to exclude the type of man who had no experience of animals, who had not been a farmer or a stockowner but who suddenly came along and, having nothing better to do, decided that he would impose himself on certain people as a ready curer of animals' ailments.

Is there a case of that?

There is the case of a man who, if he is not now in jail, has only recently been released. He posed as being able to cure contagious abortion. He was tried by a court and dealt with for maiming cattle or for some other type of inhuman conduct. The Department gave me other example of types of people who had no experience of animals. The people who have experience of cattle, whether they are farmers or stockowners, are given every liberty under the Bill. We restrict them in certain ways that I think no one can have any objection to. They are not to hold themselves out as registered practitioners. That is all that is prohibited under Parts 1 and 2 of Section 46. Another portion of Part 1 of Section 46 must be read in the light of sub-section (3).

But it is the law at present that people who hold themselves out as being registered veterinary surgeons render themselves liable to prosecution.

No, because the law is repealed by this except for the purpose of keeping the agreement alive.

But at the present time is it not still illegal for an unqualified man to hold himself out as a registered veterinary surgeon?

Yes, and we want to preserve that position. We go further. I would rather approach this from the other angle, that the profession have a right to be protected. A certain number of people have incurred expense in becoming qualifield veterinary surgeons. The number that we have in the country is small. The country, I think, could support a great many more professional men of that type. Let us see that they are protected. A balance has to be struck, and we have tried to do that in the Bill. I do not know whether the smith type of person that Senator Linehan referred to is very numerous, or whether the particular operation of removing an abscess arising from gravel getting between the quick and the hoof of a horse's foot is very frequent. I am not at all certain whether the particular operation the Senator spoke of is a veterinary, medical or surgical operation. That will require further consideration. With regard to what Senator Johnson said, I do not hold myself bound by anything that was said in the House of Commons with regard to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. We have no touch with that. The Bill was not drafted with regard to anything they said. It was drafted arising out of the view of the Department of Agriculture as to what was the proper balance to be struck as between the profession and the requirements of the farmers.

Senator O'Doherty made a point with regard to treason. I hold, as I held on the Bills dealing with dentists and medical practitioners that if there are any people in this country who are convicted at any time of treason, which is, in fact, an offence against the majority of the people of the country, that they deserve, if they survive the other penalties, to be put off the dental, the medical or the veterinary registers. Comparisons with anything that happened in 1916 do not affect me in the slightest, because the conditions are entirely different. Anything that happened in 1916 was not a revolt against the will of the people of this State. A person convicted of treason now would be convicted of something that is contrary to the will of the majority of the people as expressed at elections time after time, and for that every civilised country imposes a penalty.

Surely the people of the country did not divide the country by vote?

If there is a state of things established here and accepted by the people, and if some people want to oppose that in an illegitimate fashion, then they should pay for it.

The Minister suggested that was established by the people, which I could not accept.

It is accepted. The votes of the people have shown that.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 24th June.