The second point we are dealing with is the point of mixing oaten flour with wheaten flour. There is not a considerable surplus of oats even if we were to mix the minimum amount that ought to be used in compound feeding stuffs. An order may be made compelling the flour millers to mix oaten flour with wheaten flour, and as soon as that is done the usual regulation and registration would follow. But that is not likely to be done this year. Our acreage of oats is down a considerable amount on what it was last year. If we have the same percentage of oats and barley in the feeding stuffs this year, we would have none to spare for wheaten flour. I think that is a great pity for the sake of the health of the people, but it cannot be helped for another year. We have made tests, as a matter of fact, with 5, 10 and 15 per cent. of this oaten flour in the wheaten flour. Some of the loaves made were on exhibition at the Spring Show in Ballsbridge, and there was rather a puzzle there put to everybody to say which was the loaf with the oaten flour and which with the wheaten flour. The colour was the same, in spite of the talk about black bread, but if one were to taste it I think it was quite easy to know which had the oaten flour, because it was a much nicer loaf.
The third matter which is dealt with in this Bill is the mixing of dried milk with flour for bread. This has been adopted compulsorily in a number of countries, and has been adopted, as a matter of fact, in this country to some extent by a number of our bakers for certain varieties of bread. If any Senator is interested enough, I think he will find that there are milk pan loaves sold by various bakers here, and that dried milk is mixed with what are considered to be the superior types of bread by our own bakers, and certainly the dearer loaves have dried milk in them. Again, from the point of view of taste, we have tested it for about three months on certain individuals, and they have not complained of the taste of the bread, nor have they noticed the colour. Apart from that, it should naturally be a more healthy bread than ordinary wheat bread, because wheat with dried milk would appear to supply the entire requirements of a person in the way of food. In other words, you have a balanced ration with a loaf of that sort. I am not supposed to be interested in the health of the people as Minister for Agriculture, but my desire is to get rid of the surplus skimmed milk. There is a surplus always here, and that surplus is likely to increase, because the market for condensed skimmed milk is all the time declining, while the market for condensed whole milk is improving. Four or five years ago, I think that if anybody would get particulars of the output in Limerick it would be found that about 95 per cent. was condensed skimmed milk, while at the present time it is less than fifty per cent. This is one instance where we have a number of markets. We are exporting milk from that factory to fifty countries, and in every single instance they are increasing their purchases of condensed whole milk. That could not come into operation this year, because the surplus skimmed milk would not be there till June.
In working any scheme like this, such as fixed prices, there is always the danger that if we fix a price a number of merchants in any district might say that they will not work it. Therefore, we always have to have power—although we do not want to use it unless it is necessary, and have never used it as far as I know—to take over stores and go into business. We have those powers, as the Seanad is aware, in regard to maize-milling and flour-milling. The Seanad, I think, was very reluctant to give us those powers, but we never had to think of using them. It was probably very useful, however to have the powers, because a flour-miller or a maize-miller who, for any reason, objected to carry out any Government regulation, might not like the idea of the Government coming along and serving the dreaded notice that the mill was being taken over. We have not the same powers here with regard to taking over corn stores. If a merchant is using his corn store, and refuses to buy oats, say, under the fixed price, and if he buys a small quantity, not under the fixed price, and sells it to brewers and so on, we cannot take over his store; but we have the power to take over stores in the same place, and either to let or sell those stores to other persons—perhaps a co-operative society or a society formed of the farmers themselves, to store their oats there; or the Minister for Agriculture himself may carry on the business of dealing in oats or barley.
It does prevent, at any rate, what I might refer to as the dog-in-the-manger attitude of a merchant if he says: "I will not buy or let anybody else buy as far as I am concerned." It is possible that we might be up against such an event. The stores and kilns go together here, but they are not exactly the same. We would not take over stores or kilns under the same conditions. We might have to take over kilns where business was not going normally, and all merchants buying under the fixed price and millers buying from them. Even so, we might be compelled to take over kilns, because if our corn crop increases very much—if we have, say, seven or eight times as much wheat as we have now, or a little more oats or a little more barley—and if we were to come up against a really wet harvest, there would be great difficulty in having the grain dried, and we might have to take all the drying kilns that were not being used and get them into use immediately. Apart from that, however, I think the Government would have no intention of going into business with regard to kilns except in the case of a crisis such as that. Of course, I need hardly say that adequate compensation is being provided for the owners of stores and kilns where these are taken over.
Senators, I am sure, will find it rather difficult to follow all those various sections in the beginning with regard to amendments, and if the Seanad wishes, I could give a few words on each section to show what each section is dealing with. Section 5 is the first section that amends. It is amending the definition of the word "flour" in Section 3 of the Principal Act, and it is necessary in case the mixing of oat flour is brought in. Section 6 gives the Minister power to vary the quota for the preliminary quota period. Section 7 amends Section 28 of the Principal Act. There are certain mills in the country which do all wholemeal milling, but in order to be permitted to import foreign wheat for their business the Minister for Industry and Commerce had to give them a quota, and as the Principal Act was worded he could only give a proportion of that quota to wholemeal.
The Minister for Industry and Commerce by this amendment can give them 100 per cent. quota for wholemeal and no flour at all. Section 8 makes it an offence to mill more than the quota. Section 9 amends the Principal Act. Under the Principal Act the fine was 3/- on 400 lbs. This increases the maximum to 30/-. The small miller is fined a smaller sum. Section 10 amends Section 31 of the Principal Act. Under the Principal Act the person who fails to make returns is guilty of an offence, but it was not an offence to make misleading returns. We are making that an offence now under this section. Section 11 gives the Minister for Industry and Commerce power to make different regulations in relation to mills, the quota for which does not exceed 1,000 barrels. There are certain small mills which do commissioned milling for farmers in the matter of wheat, oats or barley, and these mills like to fulfil small orders and they import, say, 1,000 barrels a year. The Minister does not want to have these small mills bound by the regulations that are made by the larger millers. This Bill gives him power to do that.
Section 12 amends Section 32 of the Principal Act with regard to the keeping of records. The Principal Act could only deal with the wheat brought to the mill; it took no account of the wheat purchased and kept in a store not owned by the miller. Section 14 amends Section 34 of the Principal Act. Under the Principal Act notice is issued that the licence will be revoked. It cannot be revoked for one month. But now, if the miller wants to make reports he gets seven days to do so, and if he asks for an inquiry the inquiry must be held. Section 16 amends Section 36 of the Principal Act. Under the Principal Act the holder of a licence could not get a permit to mill wheat. That was rather an anomaly. It had the effect that if a miller had a licence he could not also own a mill—a "permitted" mill for grinding farmers' own wheat. There are cases where a licensed miller also owns a small mill.
Section 17 amends Section 54 of the Principal Act. Under Section 54 the appropriate Minister could register the personal representative in lieu of the person who died. But we are amending that to read that he can register the name of a person in lieu of the person previously registered. It is the same now as in the case of death. Amendment 18 amends Section 55 of the Principal Act. It exempts persons registered in the register of manufacturers of compound feeding stuffs and premises entered in such register as well as registered manufacturers of compound feeding stuffs. We found it almost impossible—at least, they claimed it was impossible—to keep returns of the many concoctions in the mixture. There might be a very small quantity, say, of salt. It was difficult to keep a whole return of the mixtures and now we have exempted them.