Veterinary Surgeons Bill, 1930—Report Stage.

SECTION 46.

Amendment 1 stands in the name of Senator O'Rourke and is as follows:—

Section 46. To add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows: "(2) 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 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 O'Rourke is not able to be here to-day and he asked me to move the amendment. In view of the amendment adopted by the House on the Committee Stage of this Bill, deleting Section 46, I think it is ridiculous to move this amendment. I propose, therefore, that the Bill be re-committed to Committee. Section 46 was the most important section of this Bill and it has been eliminated by the House in Committee. That will leave the Bill practically useless so far as the veterinary surgeons are concerned. Let us consider the effect of the elimination of that clause from the Bill as introduced to this House. Every veterinary surgeon practically in the Free State was bound to register in the Free State—

Cathaoirleach

Is the Senator moving that the Bill be re-committed in respect of this section or generally?

I move the recommittal of the whole Bill.

I second that.

I am opposed to the recommittal of this Bill. I consider that Senator Johnson's amendment, whereby Section 46 was struck out of the Bill, was the most important service which this Seanad has rendered to the country for many a day. I have been in the Seanad for over two years. In that time I have seen various groups seeking and getting special privileges and special monopolies. I do not object to that, but a great deal done in this Parliament has been to the detriment of the farming community, and the sooner they watch their interests the better. Senator Johnson's amendment was an amendment in ease of the farming community, and the result of it was to allow the ordinary processes of agriculture to go on without interruption. I am not at all opposed to veterinary surgeons being protected or being formed into a close corporation or a close profession. I am not at all opposed to their getting all the public offices connected with veterinary science, but I am certainly opposed to any infringement of the rights of farmers or to anything that would damage farmers in the carrying on of their ordinary business. It seems to me that Section 46 was an invasion of their rights, and I was gratified when Senator Johnson's amendment was carried. I think that this Bill ought not to be re-committed for the purpose of defeating Senator Johnson's amendment. That amendment was carried almost unanimously by this House. It was not even put to a division. The matter was, if I may say so, very well and sensibly debated by those who spoke, and nearly twenty Senators took part in the discussion. The only object in recommitting the Bill is for the purpose of brigading people to defeat the amendment. That has been done several times by Ministers. I do not want to be unjust to the present Minister—

Cathaoirleach

It does not matter what was done previously. What we are debating now is whether or not this Bill should be re-committed.

The object of the recommittal is to defeat the amendment that was carried by this House some days ago. That has been done by Ministers again and again, but it is the first time that it has been done in relation to any Bill of which the Minister now in the Seanad had charge. It is the first time that it has been done by him, but if this practice continues, all I can say is that the Seanad is prevented from exercising any useful function in the State even as a revising body.

Question:—"That the Bill be recommitted"—put and declared lost.

Cathaoirleach

Does Senator Counihan move the amendment in Senator O'Rourke's name?

Yes. I move the amendment in Senator O'Rourke's name. We want some protection for the veterinary profession. I have a great regard for the cow doctor, but the cow doctor has his limits. If we want to have a proficient and proper veterinary service, sufficiently numerous for the needs of the country, the profession must be protected in some way. In several fairs it was the custom for parties to come around and announce: "Murphy and Toomey are here to-day, and will be here tomorrow, and anybody who wants his colt castrated should send him to them." As the Bill stands at present, any sort of quack can come along and do the work of a veterinary surgeon. There are others who go in for this class of work, such as the Dublin bookseller, who was sent to jail. If these people do not hold themselves out as veterinary surgeons, they can practise veterinary work, no matter how unfitted they may be for the job. As we need a number of qualified veterinary surgeons in the country, I think we should give them some protection.

Mr. Comyn rose.

Cathaoirleach

Do you rise to second the amendment?

Formally to second it, but I then wish to oppose it.

Cathaoirleach

You cannot do that.

I second it.

Cathaoirleach

There are two amendments standing in the name of Senator Linehan which have a bearing on this question.

I have been asked by Senator Linehan to propose those amendments.

Cathaoirleach

They have an important bearing on the section, and perhaps if all the amendments were argued together it would be an advantage.

I move the amendments in the name of Senator Linehan:

(1) To delete all after the word "any" in line 1 down to and including the word "such" in line 2. (2) To delete in line 6 the words "or servant."

I second that.

Cathaoirleach

If Senator Linehan's amendments were passed, the section would read: "Nothing in this section shall render it unlawful for any person to perform on or administer to an animal of any class (whether owned or not owned by 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 does not hold himself out as a registered veterinary surgeon." If Senator Linehan's amendments are carried, they will alter very considerably the character of the provision in the Bill.

On a point of procedure, I would ask Senators to look at the amendment which has already been carried and compare it with the amendment which they are now discussing. The amendment carried last day leaves it open to anybody to perform veterinary operations provided he does not hold himself out as a veterinary surgeon. In view of that, I think this amendment is absolutely superfluous.

On the last day I was satisfied with the Minister's explanation as regards a person who is not an owner of animals, but I wanted to deal with the case of a herd——

As this amendment is superfluous, I ask the leave of the House to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments in the name of Senator Linehan also withdrawn.
SECTION 47.

I move amendment 2:

Section 47. To delete the section and to substitute the following new section therefor:—

"47.—(1) Any act or thing that would be an offence under this Act if committed by an individual shall be an offence if committed by a body corporate.

(2) If a body corporate commits an offence under this Act, such body corporate shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine in respect of each such offence not exceeding fifty pounds and the manager and every director of such body corporate shall also be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine in respect of each such offence not exceeding fifty pounds."

This amendment is really complementary to the amendment inserted on the Committee Stage to Section 46, though it is not formally complementary to it. It seeks to provide that an act which is an offence if committed by an individual will be an offence if committed by a company and that on conviction the manager and every director of the company shall be liable to a penalty. The section in the Bill might well have greater effect, dependent on the judgment of the summary court, than Senators would desire. A good deal would depend upon the interpretation placed by the magistrate on the words "practising veterinary medicine." I think there is a real risk that a company might be convicted of practising veterinary medicine if it offered for sale, through an ordinary shop or otherwise, medicines which were advertised as being cures or remedies for certain sicknesses. That might be decided by a magistrate as "practising veterinary medicine." I looked up certain works to ascertain the meaning of the words "practising medicine." I find very great difficulty at arriving at any conclusion as to what the Courts have decided. They have decided in different ways, everything depending upon the immediate facts—the facts surrounding the particular case.

There have been prosecutions at different times under the Apothecaries Act and Acts relating to chemists and druggists and the question of what "practising" meant led to different decisions, depending upon the immediate circumstances. There is a danger that people advertising well-known articles as remedies for certain diseases and complaints of animals might be charged with practising medicine. We should not take a risk of that kind. On the other hand, the proposal in the amendment is to make it an offence for any company to do anything which an individual is prohibited from doing —to make the penalty applicable not only to the person operating or doing the job or announcing himself as a veterinary surgeon but to every person in the company.

I am in agreement with the principle of this amendment proposed by Senator Johnson, and I second it, but it seems to me that the drafting of it creates a certain amount of difficulty. There will be difficulty, first of all, in putting a corporate body on trial, and, secondly, in fining a corporate body and then fining the manager and directors. There will be overlapping there.

Cathaoirleach

It follows the lines of the original section.

It is a rather curious section. It escaped my attention. I would not be in favour of this amendment as drafted. I do not know whether Senator Johnson means that the section should have the effect that I think it will have. A corporate body shall, on summary conviction, be liable to a fine for each offence not exceeding £50. That fine is to come out of the funds of the corporate body. In addition, the manager and every director of the corporate body shall also be guilty of an offence under this section and liable on summary conviction to a fine for each offence not exceeding £50. Does the Senator mean that in the case of the sale of a bottle of embrocation—let us take it at that—that would be an offence under this Act?

Let us take it that it would.

There is only one offence under this Act.

What is that?

Pretending to be on the register.

Why say then "any act which is an offence"?

I do not know.

Senator Johnson did not like to take any risks.

The effect of the section, as it stands, is that the corporate body would be liable on each offence to a fine of £50. The manager for the same offence would be liable to a fine of £50 and each director for the same offence would be liable to a fine of £50. That is my interpretation of the amendment. I do not know whether Senator Johnson intended that there should be an accumulation of fines.

Cathaoirleach

Read the original section—Section 47 (2).

Sub-section (2) is as follows:—

"If a body corporate practises or represents or holds itself out, whether directly or by implication, as practising or being prepared to practise veterinary surgery or veterinary medicine, such body corporate shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine in respect of each such offence not exceeding one hundred pounds and not less than fifty pounds and the manager and every director of such body corporate shall also be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine in respect of each such offence not exceeding one hundred pounds and not less than fifty pounds."

I submit that the meaning of that is that if a body corporate practises or holds itself out as practising veterinary science there is a fine of £50 on the company——

It is proposed to delete all that.

If I may say so, the section is reasonable enough, because if the company holds itself out as practising veterinary science and they are fined——

Why should you do that when you allowed, by an amendment passed the last day, an individual to do all the things you are now prohibiting a company from doing.

Is the Minister in favour of this amendment by Senator Johnson?

It adds another point of folly to the amendment previously passed. For that reason, I should like to have it passed. May I intervene to clear up this matter? Senator Comyn was speaking of the penalties that might be imposed. Penalties will only be imposed, if this amendment is carried, for anything which is an offence under the Act. There is an offence under the Act at the moment.

The whole position is summed up in the amendment passed the last day, which provides penalties for any person who falsely represents himself as being a registered veterinary surgeon or as being a veterinary surgeon, or by the use of any colourable imitation of either of these terms, represents himself as being a qualified veterinary surgeon. Why should a company ever represent itself as one of these things? A company would never be in the position of committing an offence under the Bill as it is now.

The Minister has used an expression which I do not think he meant. He said he is in favour of Senator Johnson's amendment because it adds to the folly of our proceedings.

To the folly of the previous amendment.

I think the Minister is inaccurate when he states that there is only one offence under the Bill. There are several offences.

I do not like to have the course of my speech in the Seanad dictated by anybody, even a Minister. There are other offences under this Bill, as the Minister will see. Take, for instance, Section 43, which provides:

(1) Every person who, for the purpose of being registered in the register, makes or procures or causes to be made or procured or aids or abets the making or procuring of any representation or declaration which to the knowledge of such person is false or fraudulent shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to imprisonment for any term not exceeding twelve months.

That is one of the most serious offences under the Bill and it comes under the Minister's "such as." Notwithstanding what the Minister has said, I am opposed to Senator Johnson's amendment. I prefer the Bill as it stands. I think Senator Johnson's amendment is too copious altogether.

After hearing Senator Comyn I am very glad I am not a lawyer. The Minister suggested that no public company would think of attempting to practice, or would offer itself out as a registered Veterinary Surgeon and that that was how the Bill stood at present. He said it was a foolish thing to add this new section which purposes to meet the offence of a company offering itself as a registered veterinary surgeon. The Minister's own clause made it an offence as being prepared to practise veterinary surgery. If it is folly in one case it surely is folly in the other.

The Bill has two clauses, 46 and 47, and logically they must be read together. The Seanad on the Committee Stage took out Section 46, which provided that it should not be lawful for any person to practise, or to represent, or to hold themselves out as practising or being prepared to practise veterinary surgery or veterinary medicine unless he was for the time being on the register here. The Seanad refused to accept that and instead adopted a new section which provides that any person who falsely represents himself as being a registered veterinary surgeon or as being a veterinary surgeon or by the use of any colourable imitation of either of these terms represents himself as being a qualified veterinary surgeon—the word "falsely" governs all this—then he should be guilty of an offence. The Seanad decided that the penalty provided in that new section is to be the only penalty with regard to an individual. I suggest that it is completely illogical for the Seanad, having said that with regard to the individual, to say that nevertheless a company shall be allowed to represent or hold itself out or be prepared to practise veterinary surgery. If the Seanad is going to be logical, following the amendment passed on the last day, it must pass Senator Johnson's amendment. When it has done that I ask what is the whole position with regard to veterinary surgery to be in the future? The only offence under the new Section 46 is "falsely" representing oneself as being registered; I ask why should anyone for the future put himself on the register here?

In order to get a job from the Minister?

Qualified men will always get positions. The only offence under the Bill as it stands will be for falsely representing oneself as being registered. Why should a man who is an M.R.C.V.S. go on the Register here and pay £2 2s. a year for going on? Why, for instance, should he submit himself to the supervision of the Council with regard to professional misconduct? He becomes a M.R.C.V.S. and he comes into this country. He cannot be said to be falsely representing himself as a qualified man simply because he will not go on the register here. He puts up a plate which states "M.R.C.V.S., unregistered on Irish register." Why should he pay £2 2s. when by putting up that plate he can be quite free from the supervision of the Council and to do anything he pleases? If that is the position people envisage with regard to the future, how do they think that the Veterinary Council is going to get fees from people to register here? There will be no funds to enable the Veterinary College to meet the expenses of examining here. The result of the last day's amendment will be that the system will break down and that people who want to get degrees to practise must go to England for them.

Does the Minister consider that what he has just said is a criticism of the action of the Seanad in deleting Section 46? The Minister is entirely wrong. I submit that in the future, as in the past, veterinary surgeons will find it advisable to come on the register here. Senator Johnson's amendment has done nothing more than to leave the law as it was before this Bill was introduced. I suggest that if the Minister is against Senator Johnson's amendment he ought to say so.

I am in favour of it. It is the only logical thing to do after what happened the last day.

Amendment put and declared carried.
Report Stage concluded.
Fifth Stage ordered for Wednesday, 8th July.