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Seanad Éireann debate -
Thursday, 23 Aug 1934

Vol. 19 No. 2

Slaughter of Cattle and Sheep Bill, 1934—Second Stage (Resumed).

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

Many farmers, including my friend Senator Wilson, are accepting this Bill on the assurance of the Minister that when it is in operation they will get 10/- per live cwt. more for their fat stock.

How do you know?

The Minister said that in the Dáil. That is the reason Senator Wilson is accepting the Bill— he expects to get more for his fat stock. I hope I am wrong, but I am afraid that Senator Wilson and the other people who think like him are grasping at straws. In my opinion, there is as much possibility of restoring prosperity to this country and getting back our cattle trade by the operation of this Bill as there would be by the Minister's saying "Abracadabra." We have passed many Bills which give the Government complete control of our industries: for instance, the Control of Imports Act, the Control of Manufactures Act and several other Acts, which are the thin end of the wedge of State control. Now we have this Bill aiming at more complete State control of our live stock trade. For that reason alone, the Seanad should reject the Bill.

This Bill is going to kill the fat cattle trade, particularly the stall-fed cattle trade. By killing the stall-fed cattle trade it will create a great deal of unemployment amongst agricultural labourers. It is sad to think that our cattle trade, which we were so proud of, and which cost millions of public and private money to build up, should be destroyed in a few years by the attitude and policy of our own Government. We have the finest climate and the best soil in the world for the production of live stock and we produce the healthiest stock in the world. We are the largest exporters of live stock in the world and it is a puzzle to any sane man to understand why our Government are out to kill that trade.

I have been told in the cattle market to-day that this Bill was so bad, so revolutionary, and so unworkable that we should pass it, as it would kill the Government. I do not believe in that policy. I would not recommend anyone to do evil that good may come out of it, and it will be an evil act to pass this Bill, and an act which the farmers' representatives will very much regret. I have refrained from discussing the economic war and the condition of the farmers and their terrible plight in speaking on this Bill. I believe I have stated that often enough and anybody who wants my opinion on that will find it on the records of this House.

Before I conclude, however, I should like to refer to a statement I made yesterday in reference to Part 2 of the Bill. I said it was open to anyone to inspect the records of the butcher in his shop and again my friend Senator Wilson contradicted me and stated that that was not so and that I had not read the Bill. I am not sure whether the Minister agreed with me or not, but when he is replying I should like him to say whether it is a fact or not, because Section 15, Part 2, says:—

"Every registered proprietor of registered premises shall keep or cause to be kept in such premises the prescribed records in the prescribed form and manner and shall make or cause to be made in every such record the prescribed entries at or within the prescribed times."

I now go back to Section 2, which says:—

"(4) Any person may—

(a) obtain a copy certified in manner hereinbefore mentioned to be a true copy of any entry in any register kept in pursuance of this Part of this Act on payment of a fee of sixpence for each folio of 72 words of the copy."

It must be a fairly long entry when they are to get the copy at sixpence per folio. The record, I contend, is a record of the sales carried on by the butcher.

In referring to Section 19, I said it was unlawful for any person to expose unmarked cattle for sale in Saorstát Eireann. I find that the copy of the Bill I was quoting from was as it was introduced and that that has been amended in the Dáil, as I see by this copy I have now. A person can now expose unmarked cattle for sale here. I want, however, to give a free opinion to the Minister on that point and I will tell him that he will not be able to control the cattle trade without controlling the unmarked cattle as well as the marked cattle. It is only another instance which shows that the Bill is unworkable and cannot be managed. The Minister saw that he could not prevent unmarked cattle from being exposed for sale and he withdrew that, but he cannot control the cattle trade except he has control of the marked and unmarked cattle.

This Bill attempts to meet a situation which has arisen in consequence of the stoppage of the free flow of our live stock to Great Britain, that stoppage causing a surplus of finished cattle in this country, with the result that the producers of these finished cattle are at the mercy of middlemen or cattle dealers or cattle jobbers who, because the market is glutted, are not giving a reasonable price to producers. The object of the Bill is to try and raise the price of cattle, so that the producer, at all events, will get what he would be entitled to get if we had no quotas. That price, if we had no quotas, would be a reduction on the British price of cattle, less the difference between the special duties put on by the British and the amount given in bounty by the Government here. Senator Counihan is speaking, not as a farmer, but as a cattle dealer.

Who said that?

I am suggesting that that is the mentality. I do not for a moment believe that Senator Counihan, qua-farmer, is expressing the opinion of the farmers, because, after all, the prices which have been given to the farmers by the cattle dealers are prices which have no relation to what they would obtain were there no quotas. The position in the Dublin market is this, that if you have a licence to export cattle to-day it is worth £4 and that £4 is the jobber's profit taken from the producer's pocket. Anything that will remedy that state of affairs is good and I hope this Bill may bring about a position when this particular licensing business will be worth nothing. As the Minister said yesterday, there are produced in this country annually 360,000 fat cattle. Of these cattle 120,000 will be exported this year. Local consumption will account for 180,000 cattle, leaving a surplus of 60,000. The task is to provide that the 60,000 cattle will be consumed and that the price of cattle will automatically rise to the figure we would obtain if we had no quota. If the Bill effects that, it is a good Bill. I believe that this, at all events, is an attempt; whether it will be successful, time will tell. I think, at any rate, it deserves the support of the farmers. It is an attempt to ameliorate present conditions.

Anybody who can raise the price of cattle is doing a very great service to the people who are producing cattle. I believe there is a market for our surplus production. I believe there is an under-consumption of beef in this country. If the 3,000,000 of people in this country would eat 1lb. of fresh meat per head per week they would consume something like 300,000 cattle in the year. This idea of inducing the people to use fresh meat is a good one. The idea of giving them free meat may bring about a state of affairs when the internal market will consume our production and we will not be placed, as we are now, in a position when people who are our neighbours can put us out of trade and create a sense of confusion and distress. Anything that will help to increase the consuming power in this country is all to the good. While I am not in favour, as a general principle, of giving free meat to anybody, still if it is the means of educating people to the value of fresh meat I am agreeable that the unemployed, at all events, should get it, at least for a few months until we see how our consumption will be affected.

I do not want to extol my own beneficence, but last December I had a young heifer that broke its leg. I could not sell it and I sent for the nearest butcher and I asked him to kill and cut up the animal. Then I got a lorry and from the local clergyman I got the names of all the poor people in the neighbourhood and I gave each of them a piece of meat for Christmas. The fact of the matter is that my place was bombarded with applicants. When the Minister starts with his free meat scheme, I have no hesitation in assuring him that he will dispose of all the free meat he can give, because the people will like it, especially when they get it for nothing.

And the best quality.

Yes, the best quality. This Bill seeks to dispose of the surplus of beef in this country. When people are criticising the giving of free meat, consideration must be given to that aspect of it as a means of disposing of a surplus quantity of meat, and I think, from that point of view, it is a very good scheme. This measure has been criticised from the point of view of its effect on the people. That is not fair criticism. I can quite understand that if a man is getting 20/- a week unemployment benefit and is also getting free meat, he may not be inclined to look for work. At the same time, if the Bill effects the sale of this particular quantity of beef and takes it out of the market and helps to raise the price of cattle, then so far as I am concerned, apart altogether from whether it is doing wrong or whether it is a wrong thing to give these people free meat, it is a good measure. The main point is that it will dispose of surplus cattle and give us a reasonable price for our animals. I think this Bill will do that and for that reason I consider it is a good measure.

I have always maintained that what has been affecting farmers' interests lately has not been so much the injury to the export trade; it has been the artificial lessening in the price of cattle stocks in this country caused by the tariffs, an artificial reduction of millions of pounds to the farmers, and anything that will raise the price of cattle to a reasonable standard, even if it is £3 10s. or £4 10s. less than the British price, will be helpful. So long as we have a market we can carry on. The position to-day is that there is nobody to buy fat stock. The cattle dealer buys it because he has an export licence. He buys at £5 less than the value. If he has not an export licence he buys one, and if he has a licence he makes a profit of 100 per cent. Naturally anyone engaged in that business will oppose the Bill. It is a grand method of profiteering. This Bill aims at stopping profiteering amongst the entrepreneurs of the cattle trade, or whatever they call it.

I was very pleased yesterday when the Minister agreed that the price of cattle in this country was, to the extent of the special duties, less the bounty, less than the price in England. The Minister never agreed to that point before. He always quoted our prices in 1931 and 1934 and said we were not any worse off. The position is that we are to the extent of £4 or so less than the price of cattle in Britain. If we were only there we would be all right, but on account of the quota we are now in such a position that we do not know when we can sell or how we can sell. This Bill is giving us a free market, a market for £600,000 worth of cattle which we never had before. Some £600,000 worth of cattle will be purchased by our people. Some may say that that will be a tremendous lot of money and ask how it is going to be raised. Every beast that will be killed in future will mean £1 and on every sheep there will be a levy of 5/-. That will bring in a considerable amount. For cattle alone it will mean £250,000 and the levy on sheep will bring in a considerable sum. When the Minister sees how the consumption compares with the production he may probably put 3d. a lb. on meat and there will not be such a loss at all. It may be said that this charge will be passed on to the public. I have always contended latterly that the townspeople have been getting the advantage of practically half price in their purchases of beef. The farmers are only getting half the price they used to get for their cattle. The middle man is certainly getting the profit if the town consumers have not received the benefit of the reductions in the price of cattle. If they have they can afford to pay £1 per head of a levy and then they will be in a better position than they were before this quota system was introduced.

This is an attempt to give to the farmer an increased price for his cattle in the home market. It will succeed if there is loyalty on the part of the farmers themselves and on the part of those who will be operating this Bill when it becomes an Act. There is no doubt that, by fixing a minimum price, great benefit will accrue to the farmer. Then, with regard to the question of administration, I believe that the fixing of a minimum price may be the only step necessary. If that fails, other means may be found to be necessary for dealing with the position.

There is one point of a rather technical nature which I want to put before the Minister. Supposing he makes the minimum price 25/- per live cwt. for cattle. There are three classes of beasts that will be offered for sale. There is the Polled Angus, the Hereford and the Kerry bullock. They are all fat. The butcher must give the minimum price. The first consideration for him will be to buy the beast with the least wastage and the result of that will be that the Kerry bullock will be left behind. The Kerry bullock is first-class meat but there is a wastage in the Kerry bullock because he will not have the same beef in his hind quarters. Therefore, the Kerry bullock will not get sale unless the quality will bring the beef about the minimum price. However, the men who will be sent out to inspect will know their business and will try to meet the objections made, especially by Senator Counihan. He says it is sometimes an advantage to send a thin beast to Lancashire. All these things can be arranged, if there is loyalty, and a mind to help in the administration and carrying out of the objects of the Bill. The principal object of the Bill is to raise the price of cattle and if that is going to have an effect upon the surplus cattle in the country no one can tell me that the Government are not doing a good day's work in bringing in this Bill. I should prefer to have a free market and a free flow of trade, but we are up against the quota. It is up to the Irish Government to take such action as they have taken and, indeed, it is only part of a world policy. I do not know whether present conditions would obtain if we had no economic war, but we must face the conditions that we have got. This Bill is an attempt to meet the quota, and, so far as I think it will succeed, I am in favour of the Bill and I hope the Seanad will not turn it down. It is an economic proposition and it is one of the measures that this Government was elected to carry out. The Government has a mandate for this Bill, and it has put it forward as an economic proposition, and it is certainly not the duty of the Seanad to turn it down. This is not a matter of politics; it is a matter of economics. The Government are entitled to support in this branch of their economic policy and I hope the Seanad will not turn them down on this Bill.

I should like to be permitted to make a personal explanation. As the Seanad knows, Senator Wilson is sometimes given to exaggeration. He said I spoke only on behalf of the cattle trade. I want to state distinctly that I have not bought a fat beast since the quota. I represent the live-stock producers and the cattle traders' association and 70 per cent. of that association are live-stock producers and farmers. Senator Wilson knows little or nothing of what he is attempting to prove.

When I first read this Bill, I had grave doubts about it but, certainly, Senator Wilson has added greatly to my education in regard to the Bill. I see clearly enough most of his main points. The tendency will be to retain for the farmer a considerable amount of what now percolates or leaks away from him through the system of licensing. However, I have still some misgivings although I support the Bill. There are some points that I must mention to the Minister. I call the Minister's attention to sub-section (2) of Section 10 where he imposes a penalty of 10/- for making a mere application to carry on one's business. It is a small matter but it is certainly very vexatious and I hope that the Minister will omit it. A really important point to which the Minister should turn his attention is in regard to registration. Two forms must be kept—one with reference to the registration of premises in which the business of the slaughter of cattle is to be carried on; and another for registration of premises in which the selling of beef is carried on. In connection with these two registrations, anyone can obtain a copy of the register for a nominal sum. There is not any particular objection to that, but, in Section 15, another form of record must be kept. Section I says:—

Every registered proprietor of registered premises shall keep or cause to be kept in such premises the prescribed records in the prescribed form and manner and shall make or cause to be made in every such record the prescribed entries at or within the prescribed times.

And it goes on to give in detail the form of the records that must be kept. Clause 16 says:—

The Minister may publish in such manner as he may think fit all or any of the matters entered in any register kept under this part of this Act, ....

For what purpose I do not know. It really means the Minister may give away the whole details of a man's private business to the public. I think that is open to very serious objection. What useful purpose it is intended to serve I have not been able to find out. It should be a very great and pressing necessity that would justify such information being given to one's private competitors.

There is another matter which is serious in this Bill, but in view of what Senator Wilson said, I think it is quite necessary; that is, that a man may not realise portion of his stock, which, in his view, is ready for the market, without these certificates or the approval of an inspector. I think that if that is carried out some provision should be made that such a person should not have any of his goods or cattle seized in respect of annuities or rates until the time prescribed comes when he is authorised to realise his stock. I do not intend to introduce anything controversial into the discussion of this measure, but in my view, there is in some districts a policy growing up where people say that they cannot, or will not, pay their annuities in certain circumstances. I think that it would be a very grave error of policy on the part of the Government to give any real justification to further an extension of that policy. Really, the restriction on a man against realising his stock for which he may have a willing and ready buyer would give some justification for delay in paying debts where now, I think, no such justification exists. A great deal will depend on the manner in which the duties are carried out by inspectors. I trust that the Department will see that men of competence and absolute reliability will be appointed to such positions, apart from any other consideration. Their knowledge of the duties they have to perform and the reliability with which they will carry them out should be the main consideration, and if that is done I think that this measure is a good measure and will have successful results.

When the quota was imposed by Great Britain it became necessary for the Minister, as a temporary measure, to issue licences for the export of fat cattle. Now, the manner in which that was met by a certain section of this community renders it absolutely essential that this measure should be introduced. I may say that a speech made by Senator Jameson in this Seanad about two months ago convinced me, and would convince any person, that this measure should be introduced. He said that he was a feeder of fat cattle; that he had his fat cattle ready in the month of April; that he failed to get a certificate for the export of these fat cattle, and that he had practically to throw them away at whatever price he could get. While that was happening there were jobbers in this city of Dublin, men who never fed a beast; men who would deal in a beast for the sake of the luck-penny; and these people had licences in their hands which were worth £3 10s., £4—up to £5. That was a state of things which, of course, could not be allowed to continue. The Minister was forced to do it in the circumstances of the case. He met the temporary necessity in order to afford himself and his Department time to draw up this measure which, in its drafting, is a very difficult measure and which, in its administration, will be, I freely admit, exceedingly difficult.

I agree with Senator Dowdall that the men to be appointed to carry out this statute will require considerable experience and very great skill. I do not say that the regulations are not severe. I do believe that this method of accounting and that these registers will entail a considerable amount of care on the part of everybody concerned. Looking through this measure, I see that every section of it is drafted on the same lines as those Acts of Parliament which deal with the collection of revenue from brewing businesses. That is, numerous traders in the small towns throughout Great Britain who brew their own beer have to make a declaration when they brew their beer. They have to make it at a certain time and to enter it in a book. That book has to be inspected and they have to make returns and payments at the end of the month. The system of collecting that £1 a head here, I think, is perfectly designed for this purpose, but it will entail a certain amount of inconvenience and it will require good and skilful service. I should have thought that, probably, the proper persons to deal with that part of the work would have been the Revenue officials who are already constituted.

This quota was imposed by Great Britain on Irish cattle. It seems to be taken as a matter of course that they were entitled to put a quota on Irish cattle. I have said before, and I repeat it now, that even in the economic conflict in which we are concerned with Great Britain they have no moral right to impose a quota against the agriculture of this country. I hope that we will not lie down under the imposition of a quota on us, because the statesmen of Great Britain know very well that, although in this conflict they may have the right to impose a tariff against us, they have no right whatever—no moral right or historical right—to impose a quota upon us. I made that statement three months ago —and I repeat it now. It has been assented to by gentlemen on the other side who understand this position— the historical position and the economic position. I repeat that after Senator Jameson's speech nothing else could be done but to introduce a measure of this character which would secure to the producers the proper remuneration for their labour and for their time.

Senator Counihan twitted the Minister with admitting for the first time that the price of cattle has been reduced as a result of the tariff imposed by Great Britain. Now, the Minister and everybody else on this side have never denied that the tariffs imposed by Great Britain have caused a fall in the price of cattle in this country— not merely in the price of the cattle exported to Great Britain but in the price of the cattle sold at home—and that the farmers of Ireland have suffered not merely as a result of those tariffs; not merely on the cattle they sent to England, but on the cattle which the townspeople have eaten. The townspeople of this country have made a tremendous profit at the cost of the farmers of this country, and that has been admitted and always admitted by the people on this side of the House.

And members of the Government Party have been telling the people all over the country that prices of everything including cattle were never better.

Any measure such as the fixing of prices which would have the result of securing for the farmers of this country, as against the shopkeeper and every other class of person, a fair price for their cattle is an arrangement which ought to be welcomed in this House.

The Minister has said that the effect of this Bill will ultimately be to secure that the licences that the jobber got will be worthless, and that the price of cattle for consumption at home will be as great as the price of cattle shipped abroad. I would urge the Minister to go further. It is necessary to secure that the price of cattle sold for home consumption should be greater than the price of cattle sold for export and for this reason: The farmer has suffered, as I explained already in this House, by the artificial reduction in the price of his cattle. He has also suffered by the increased price of everything which he buys as a result not of the British tariffs but of our own tariffs—tariffs with which I agree. Let us be fair to everybody and to every section of the community. The people on this side of the House realise that. We have always admitted the various heads under which the farmer is suffering as a result of the economic conflict. But we are happy to say that the farmers of Ireland, when it comes to a national question, have never considered their own personal interests and sorry I am to say that every other small class in this country—indeed every class in this country—has made use of the events of the last year or two for the purpose of profiteering to a disgraceful extent.

There are some matters in connection with this measure which, I think, will require to be closely scanned. This is the first time, I think, in history that any person has been given the power to go into the farmer's field and tell him what cattle he shall sell and what cattle he shall not sell.

Surely it is not.

Yes, except in the case of disease. Such a measure is necessary now and I am glad to see that the Minister, in introducing this Bill, said it was introduced to meet a necessity. I hope it will be a temporary necessity and that this measure will be a temporary measure. I do not know how the Minister is to manage to get the great number of efficient civil servants who will be required to administer this Bill. In looking through the section, I find there are some things which I consider will require modification. On reading Section 10, I find that the person who is to apply for registration of a premises shall be the proprietor of the premises. Perhaps that is an oversight. It is an example of the kind of phraseology which is characterised by the expression "popular law." In all modern States the individual seems to be dwindling and the State becoming more and more. But I think that when you come to draft an Act of Parliament terms of art should be resorted to as much as possible. I would suggest to the Minister that wherever in this Bill he has used the word "proprietor" he should substitute the word "occupier."

I would like to know whether the great number of appointments to be made under this Act of Parliament are to be temporary appointments or not. As regards the premises which are to be registered under the provisions of Section 17 (5), I would say they are a bit too severe, including the provision authorising the Minister to cancel registration. I say that if a man fails to pay £1 per head on cattle that he should be liable to the Minister for the amount as for a civil debt. I think that is as far as the Minister ought to go. The Minister should not take power to cancel the licence in the case of non-payment. That is a matter I am sure he and the Department have considered.

Senator Counihan said that this Bill was not acceptable to the farmers, to the dealers, or to the butchers. I believe it is acceptable to the farmers. I believe it is the only way in which the great injustice done to the farmers —an injustice which was pointed out by Senator Jameson and to which I have already referred—can be remedied. I am sure it is not acceptable to the jobbers who have been making £5 a head on licences in respect of cattle which they would buy and sell for the matter of the luck-penny, as I have often seen them do. Neither is it acceptable to the butchers. I have no great sympathy with the butchers. I think the price of meat for the last 12 or 18 months has been altogether too high, considering cattle prices in this country.

Now, I come to the supply of meat to poor people. I am glad the Minister has come to the conclusion that the poor people are to get the best beef. How he is going to manage that is a matter that is too profound for me because I think that in the same animal there are tender pieces and tough pieces. A great deal depends upon the land where the animal has been fed. A great deal more depends upon the cooking. I know that people would prefer to get what is called the "slopper" or the lap of the neck off a heifer fed in the lands of Doolin than to get the choice joint off a beast fed in another part of the County Clare. It will be very difficult to administer the Bill. I am sure there will be a great number of complaints from people that they are not getting the choice bits of the beast. There is no doubt we will have such complaints from time to time. The Minister has produced a complicated measure. He and his Department have produced a measure which will entail very great difficulty in administering. The strain of this economic conflict has fallen upon the Minister's Department more than upon any other Department of State. The Department has stood up to that strain and has not lost courage, because no people except courageous people would come forward with a measure of this description.

To carry through this measure will require a tremendous amount of energy and skill. Senator Counihan says that this Bill is defective because it seeks to confer upon the Minister power to make orders. The power of legislating, as it were by order, is, to my mind, a misfortune of the time. That is the direction in which legislation in all countries is moving. States have taken upon themselves so much of the regulation of the daily lives of the people that it would be impossible to legislate in the direct manner and legislation must be carried out by order. As I said in the earlier part of my speech, "the individual dwindles and the State is more and more," and it is becoming more and more. Although the farmer is to a certain extent being subjected to regulation, so far as I can see, those who represent the farmers are willing to accept these regulations because they see the purpose which the Minister has in mind, a very just and laudable purpose, and we hope he will be successful. I would urge on the Seanad not to thwart the Minister in his efforts to remedy the situation which has arisen, a situation which, as I have said already, was clearly shown in the speech of Senator Jameson, a speech which to my mind if nothing else were said, justifies the measure which has been brought in.

The Minister is one of the few members of the Government Front Bench who come here with a sense of humour. He showed that humour when introducing a Bill of this kind—apparently according to Senator Comyn on Senator Jameson's suggestion—and he showed a sense of humour in his appreciation of Senator Wilson's speech just now. The Bill itself, in my opinion, first of all deals an immense blow to his tillage scheme. I cannot understand why he should bring it in just after the Bill dealing with the cereals question, which we discussed some little time ago. I must say that it amazed me to hear—I think it is another instance of the Minister's humour —a man like the Minister who comes from a farming family and from a farming county tell us that we could go on increasing our tillage without any more manure.

Secondly, this Bill deals a blow to the taxpayer. Really I do not think the House knows definitely what it is going to cost the taxpayer. I have worked out the figures roughly as given in the Minister's own statements in the Dáil. They amount roughly to this: you start by killing some 40,000 old cows, costing, at a minimum, £2 10s. 0d. each. The Minister says that he hopes to give a little more to the producer. That item works out at £100,000. Then we come on to consider the factory. The estimate for that is from £100,000 to £150,000. I shall take a mean figure of £125,000. Next we come to the free meat scheme. To work that scheme he definitely estimates that 40,000 cattle of 10 cwt. each costing 25/- per cwt. will be required. That works out roughly at £480,000. Of course there may be a slight increase in the number of people who will get this free meat. I hope the Minister will exercise his powers under Part 9 and add the Seanad next year to the necessitous classes. Then we come to office expenses and inspection for which the Minister has given us, on a preliminary estimate, a figure of £50,000. We know from experience, if from nothing else, that these preliminary estimates go up by leaps and bounds and I think the Minister has put it at the lowest possible figure. We come last of all to the levy on the butchers in respect of cattle, leaving alone sheep. That will amount to £180,000 in respect of animals for home consumption. The total of the items which I have mentioned comes to £935,000.

There are other items such as the transportation of these fat cattle to areas where there are large numbers of unemployed and where no fattening of cattle is carried on. We know districts in the West where that situation exists. There will be additional expenses in respect of inspection and there is the cost of home slaughter which the Minister told us yesterday he was unable to give us. That is a figure at which I certainly think it is difficult to arrive. It means simply this—the difference between 130,000 which we used to kill for home slaughter and the number exported. I do not make any attempt to arrive at it. The Minister admitted in the Dáil that there are going to be administrative difficulties. He said:

"The administrative difficulties of the Bill are not under-estimated by me or by the Department. It is going to be a very difficult Bill to administer, but if we get co-operation from the producers the Bill can be administered.... Neither am I in any way over-optimistic about the results of this Bill."

If the Minister starts at the beginning by expressing doubts and foreshadowing difficulties in administration, I am quite certain that when it comes to marking, inspection, transportation, notification and all the different things concerned with the movement of cattle, which are practically ready for slaughter within a few weeks, there will be very considerable difficulties. I think he is quite right in that. I admit that the seller, not the original producer, is going to get a very considerable amount of money as a result of this Bill and that it will mean that there will be a greater circulation of money in the country. To that extent, I agree with Senator Wilson in the point he made.

The idea of the Bill, as the Minister said, is to increase the price of cattle in the country and to minimise the effect of the British quota. The British quota has been put on, we know, but we all know also that a decent bargain might have been made in that respect if any attempt had been made to arrive at a bargain. We are pretty large purchasers in the industrial market in England and if any attempt had been made to strike a bargain as regards our cattle trade, a vastly different situation might have been brought about and none of this enormous cost to the taxpayer would be necessary. The whole cost would be borne by the English consumer rather than by ourselves. The free meat would be paid for by the British consumer rather than by the taxpayer and the consumer at home.

I am very sorry that Senator Wilson has left the Chamber, because outside an asylum, I think, I never heard such foolish remarks as those to which he gave expression. I am not in a position either to contradict or to agree with his statements, in regard to licences. With regard to his statements about the whole purport of this Bill, the Bill is of such a complicated nature that it is hard to understand why any Government could put it before this assembly with any sincerity. I can say from my personal experience—and I know the country very well—that it is a most unworkable proposition and it will cause an amount of confusion that was never contemplated, by anyone who had the interests or the welfare of the country at heart.

Considering the enormous expense which will be involved in carrying out the provisions of this Bill, it is almost impossible to understand why it has been introduced in the form in which it has been. I hold strongly that it would be much better if all the expense were funded and went to these people who are supposed to be supplied with free meat so that they could go into a butcher's shop and buy for themselves and their families what class of meat they require. That would be more appreciated by the people themselves. I know the feelings of a great many of these workless people, and I have the greatest sympathy with them. I should not like to see anybody hungry or to see anybody unemployed, if that were possible. The spirit of independence amongst these people is so great that this arrangement almost brings them into the region of the old souper kitchens. They are put in the degraded position of looking for something in the nature of a gift. It would be far better if their spirit of independence was left with them, and the expense involved by this proposal were used to enable them to buy their own supplies. I think that the Bill should never have been introduced under any circumstances. The economic war has necessitated this measure. I have certain opinions as regards the way the Government of Great Britain treated this country as regards the economic dispute. I say that they are to blame considerably. Our Government offered to leave the dispute to arbitration, provided the Chairman of the Arbitration Board was an independent person. When the partition question was referred to arbitration, Mr. Feetham proved his partiality to England and to the Northern minority. I hold that the Government of Great Britain, in dealing with a small country like Ireland, should have accepted the proposition of our Government and have the matter settled. If we are to increase productivity in any direction, it is necessary that the people should be settled in a peaceful State. The question of increasing tillage is bound up with the price of cattle and the stall-feeding interests of the country. When these inspectors go around the farms, the farmers will resent their interference with their common sense and intelligence. It should be left to the farmers to determine when cattle are fit to be sold. They should be permitted to bring them to the best market possible when they so determine, and there should be no question of the marking of cattle, or dictation by inspectors. What is to become of the number of exportable, forward store cattle—next to fat cattle the most important branch of the industry? What is to become of the forward stores and cattle intended for store purposes in the English and Scottish markets?

I feel very much humiliated by this measure. Thirty years ago I took a great part in getting an Act passed for improving the breed of our cattle. I had several letters from English and Scottish buyers saying that that was one of the wisest Acts ever passed, and Scottish customers, especially, wrote to say that there was a noticeable improvement in the quality of our cattle as compared with those of previous years. I did not think that I would live to see such a change brought about. It seems that cattle are anathema according to present policy. The industry is being steam-rolled and deprived of all independence. The position is so alarming that it is impossible to think that it will continue. I listened with a great deal of amazement to statements made by Senator Comyn in regard to the conditions imposed by the Bill. I am of opinion that the provisions of the Bill cannot be carried out. I have the greatest respect for the Minister for Agriculture. He is a farmer himself and, with his good sense, I am sure he realises the difficulties. This Bill will only tend to make matters worse. Experience will, I think, show that it is a failure, because nobody will be satisfied. The levy and the expenses attached to the working of the Bill will be out of all reason. To bring back prosperity to the country, negotiations should be opened up with a view to settling the economic dispute. But for that dispute all this trouble, confusion and annoyance would be obviated. When the farmers find interference with their intelligence and discretion in the sale of their cattle by inspectors, there will be strong opposition from them and it will be found impossible to carry out the provisions of the Bill. I see no sunshine in the position at all. The argument put up by Senator Wilson would not be put up outside a lunatic asylum. I never heard such an extraordinary statement as his reference to the £5 profit. If the business were found to be so profitable, all Ireland would be engaged in it. Senator Comyn contrasted the profits of cattle dealers formerly and the £4 or £5 per head that they were gaining now by the licence. If that were the position, there would be crowds endeavouring to get into the business. It would be a serious omission to let these statements go uncontradicted. I think it is unreasonable that anything of the kind should be allowed.

As Senators know I am very interested in the cattle trade. At present it is in a deplorable condition. There is an urgent need to have something done to end the present state of affairs and to bring back prosperity to the farming community. The present situation is so bad that, if a change for the better does not take place, farmers will not be able to keep going. During my long life I have never known them to be in such a deplorable condition as they are to-day. No matter how well the inspectors, to be appointed under this Bill, carry out their duties, there is, I fear, going to be no improvement in the condition of the country until we get what we are so much in need of: a settlement of the economic question. Senator The McGillycuddy referred to the enormous sums of money that will be paid out for the supply of free meat to those in receipt of home assistance and the unemployed. I think it would be very much better if all that money were put into a fund and distributed by way of cash payments to these people. I am certain they would be far better pleased to get help that way. The present scheme, to me, looks very like making soupers of these people. I do not like the idea of giving them a voucher to get meat for nothing. The effect of such a scheme will be to bring their spirit down to a very low level, reducing them to the position almost of beggars. I do not think our people will stand for that. This economic war cannot go on for ever. It must be settled in time. It is to be hoped that someone will come forward to act as a sort of guardian angel to the country and bring about a happier state of affairs than exists at present. Senator Jameson referred to the difficulties associated with farming and with the cattle business. He put his views in a very clear manner and, in my opinion, they should meet with the endorsement of every fair-minded person. The Minister, I expect, hopes that this Bill will be a success. I do not share his view for the reason that I believe it will be impossible to carry out the conditions laid down. The provision dealing with the marking of cattle by inspectors will, I think, lead to a situation of hopeless confusion. Surely, farmers who have been accustomed to stall-feed cattle are not going to do so when there is no certainty that they will be able to dispose of those cattle at the season of the year when such cattle are usually sold. I think that the people in the cattle trade ought to be allowed the freedom they enjoyed hitherto to carry on their business. They are people of experience, and legislation of this kind will only have the effect of destroying what was at one time a principal part of the agricultural industry.

We are accustomed, of course, to hearing people talk in a cheap and sarcastic way about the cattle trade. They talk of "the man and the dog." Practical farmers know that all the land of Ireland cannot be turned into tillage and that what is most suited to this country is a system of mixed farming. The agricultural industry is going to be paralysed if the provisions of this Bill are put into operation. I do not want to be a prophet of evil, but time will tell. I want to see the country prosperous. My chief desire is to see the cattle trade as it ought to be—the main branch of our agricultural industry. I also want to see tillage encouraged. I was surprised at some of the statements made by Senator Wilson. I understood the Senator to be a practical farmer, but certainly some of his statements were very erroneous. He talked about the profits that cattle buyers had made. His statement is quite incorrect. I do not think that the Senator should have introduced such matters on an important Bill such as this is. In conclusion, I hope that the Seanad will reject this measure.

The fact that one would dissent from the principle and policy underlying this Bill does not necessarily debar one from conceding that the Minister presented the outline and purpose of it in a clear and comprehensible way to the House. The fact that one is not a farmer is no disability, I submit, for intervening in this discussion. One would almost gather from the debate that this was purely a farmer's question. There is no doubt but that the situation with regard to the farmer has given rise to the Bill, but the measure also involves a consideration of the wisdom and general policy of the Government as well as of the resources of the State to cope with the situation thereby created. The Minister was very specific in stating what he regarded as the purposes of the Bill: that it was mainly and solely to nullify the effects of the imposition of the quota and to place the producer of cattle in a position identical with that which would exist if the quota system was not there. Senator The McGillycuddy gave some figures which were illuminating. I would like to summarise the financial effects of this Bill. Senator Wilson recalled that as a result of the quota we had an unexportable surplus of 60,000 cattle in the country and that the task was to get rid of them. I gathered from the Senator that the sum of money that would be in circulation if that number of cattle could be exported from the country was in or about £600,000 or £10 per head.

Yesterday the Minister stated that the administrative cost of this Bill would be in or about £600,000. I take that to be a modified estimate, one capable of extension. Therefore, in order to bring about the position the Minister desires, namely, to place the producer of cattle in the position that he occupied prior to the imposition of the quota and the position he would occupy if there were no quota, an expenditure of £1,200,000 is required. The money has to come out of the pockets of the taxpayers or the consumers in order to secure that result. That is absolutely beyond contradiction.

The question is: Is that going to be secured? Is the State—the taxpayers and the consumers—so situated to-day that it can produce or conjure up from some untapped resources something approximating to £1,200,000 in order to nullify the effects of the quota? That is the proposition in essence. To use the Minister's own words, if that is not done then this Bill will fail to effect the purpose he has in mind. I wonder what is the policy underlying this Bill. In June last a member of the present Government and a member of this House, the Minister for Lands, speaking in Naas, was reported to have said that it took 100 years to establish the cattle trade but that, with God's help, it would not take 100 days to destroy it. What is the purpose of this Bill? If we are to take the Minister for Lands as the spokesman of the Government, then the definite, adamant and persistent policy of the Government is to destroy the cattle trade. But, if we are to take the sponsor of the Bill as the spokesman of the Government, his purpose is to stabilise and to perpetuate the cattle trade. Before Ministers come and present Bills of this kind to this House or to the Oireachtas they should make up their minds as to which policy they are going to stand by. Is it a policy for the preservation of the cattle trade or for the destruction of the cattle trade? Is the Minister for Lands or the Minister for Agriculture the responsible spokesman of the Government? If this was not such an august assembly I should be inclined to describe some of the statements made by some Senators who eulogised the Bill as so much flapdoodle.

I was astonished at Senator Wilson. His justification of the Bill seemed to be that, owing to a glut in the cattle trade, producers were not getting a fair price; that certain people were profiteering. That seemed to me to be rather a question for the Prices Tribunal than one to be settled under this Bill. In a recent issue of a Dublin publication of a rather humorous nature I saw an alleged joke arising out of a discussion between a neighbour and a farmer. "I planted that field of tobacco," said the farmer, "and do you know what came up?" The answer was: "Two inspectors." If the purpose of the Minister is to make two inspectors, or a half-dozen inspectors, grow where none grew before, then this Bill will certainly be effective. As a matter of fact, with the progress of this Government, the population of this State will speedily be divided into two classes, inspectors and expecters, and the less the expecters expect the less they will be disappointed. The policy behind this Bill has a significance. I am not charging the Minister with any ulterior motive. I believe he realises the situation that has been created, and that his Department has had to cope with. I hope that his expectations of success in coping with that situation will be realised. I do not wish to criticise this Bill from the point of view of sheer Party carping, but I say that in its provisions, and in certain sections to which I will refer, it symbolises a character of Government policy which is ominous, and which is leading us into directions the end of which no man can foresee. The Government are, so to speak, endeavouring to make a corner in freedom in this matter, and the atmosphere of individual liberty is disappearing. Every individual in this State is going to be under some kind of official control and pressure, and if this policy of individual control by Government Departments persists, there will not be a citizen in the State in a short time who will not be amenable to some pressure, when it suits a Government Department at certain times to exercise pressure. Senator Dowdall called attention to another aspect of it in Section 16. He could not understand the reason why the Minister should have the right to publish any of the matters entered in the register. I understand the situation arises with the power of the Minister to exercise it that publication would have a very real purpose, and have an immediate influence upon the individual concerned. If he happened to be acting in a way that was regarded as not following the intentions of this Minister or that Minister, or of the Government as a whole, well, the Government would not need to press a button, but they could press an inspector.

As I say, I do not want to go into the details of this as they affect the individual farmer. I am not a farmer and I know nothing about farming. I am speaking on this aspect of the matter that should face the average citizen— that we are getting a policy of Governmental control, intensified and extended to such a degree that, if it is not based upon and borrowed from Soviet Russia, is a very colourable example of the same system.

Senator Comyn made one observation to which I should like to refer. He referred to the quota and said that England had no moral right to impose a quota on us. I would have been glad if he had expanded that dictum. I may be wrong, but I was under the impression that the English people have perfect and full control over their own affairs and can make such regulations as they deem right and equitable to safeguard their own interests. Whom they are under any moral obligation to consult with regard to this kind of regulation I do not know, and I regret that Senator Comyn did not enlighten, us.

Senator Sir John Keane can enlighten you on that.

Not in the way you expect.

He said that this Bill was the only way to remedy the injustice done to the farmers. What is the injustice done to the farmers? The injustice that is the direct and immediate consequence of the policy of the Government of this State. One remedy, but I think it may be too late now to secure that remedy, was to retrieve the blunder made. I am quite certain that opportunities have arisen when that could have been done. The blunder was committed when the people responsible for the government of this State foolishly and lightheartedly embarked upon this economic conflict with England.


I will try to prevent the economic war being brought into this debate if I can, because this is a question of quotas and not of the economic war to my mind.

I bow to your ruling, though in passing I might say that this situation is a direct outcome of that matter, and it is very difficult indeed to discuss the effect without the cause.


I grant you; but quotas were imposed not only on the Free State but on other countries, and therefore I think it is not a direct outcome of the economic war as between us and England.

I pass from the economic war. There is a section in the Bill which deals with giving power to the Minister to engage in certain business. I am quite aware that similar provisions have already been accorded to Ministers. I think the Minister quoted the precedent of the Cereals Bill when dealing with this matter. Personally I think this is a very bad and undesirable form of activity for a Government to embark upon. When he was quoting the Cereals Bill as a precedent, the Minister might have quoted a more historic precedent for similar operations. It is not identical, but to a certain extent it is somewhat similar. At the latter end of 1846 the Government of Sir Robert Peel embarked upon the creation of certain depôts to distribute Indian corn to the impoverished and hungry people in different parts of Ireland. I do not know that we are approaching the same appalling conditions that prevailed then, but it seems to me that this power of the Minister to engage in trade is one of the indications of the approach of State control, not merely in the ordinary way that we understand by State regulation of hours and wages, which is recognised as a proper phase of administration of industrial institutions, but the actual operation of the ordinary affairs of life by the State; the ordinary avocations of men being controlled by State officials; the competition of State Departments with ordinary traders; the elimination of the ordinary trader; and a virtual monopoly and regulation and control by a State Department of every form of industrial activity. The Minister may say that they do not intend to use that power. There is, however, a Party in this House who, if they have their way, and if they can exercise sufficient influence upon any Government, will I believe insist that the Government should exercise these powers, not only in this respect, but in every other phase of economic life in this State. If the time comes, there is the statutory authority for the Department to operate under. There is no necessity for the introduction of a Bill empowering the Government to do these things. There you have a statute in existence which enables the Minister to act without any further consultation with the legislative assembly. It is a dangerous precedent which is attended with considerable possibilities of an undesirable nature in this State.

The situation that has arisen is the result of the glut of cattle. It is surprising that we have not had from the Minister some comments upon what happened to those alternative markets which we had to turn to if our trade with Great Britain was suspended. I think some time ago the Minister, when speaking in the country, said that they had not made any great headway yet; but they were selling a little butter here and a few eggs there and they were not doing too badly. I think that this situation should have given a great impetus to the effort of the Minister to secure these alternative markets, and I hope that the veil of silence in this respect that was conspicuous in the Minister's opening remarks will be lifted when he is concluding the debate and that he will tell us what is happening with regard to the alternative markets.

I am not here to ask the House to reject the Bill. The Ministry have responsibility for the situation they have created. This Bill is their Bill. I have tried to point out briefly what is involved if the purpose of the Minister is to be secured. The operation of the Bill will, the Government hope, nullify the effects of the imposition of the quota. Approximately £1,250,000 has to be produced from the pockets of the consumers and the taxpayers. I do not want to obscure that dominating fact by a lot of argument. I think it is the outstanding consideration, and if this Bill fails to achieve its purpose then £1,250,000 will have gone to waste. There is only one aspect of the Bill that Senator Counihan said he approves of. I do not know whether I approve of it or not, but it is interesting. I refer to the creation of a factory to dispose of old cows and turn them into meat meal. I think that might be an interesting method of dealing with our present Government when they are turned out of office. The only consideration is whether the produce of the Ministers would be such as to render them fit for human or animal consumption. That is a matter which time alone can tell.

Senator Milroy wound up his speech with a kind of hope that the Ministry may be turned out of office so that they may be ground up into meat meal. A minute or two before that he gave an indication, as I thought, that he was not seeking to turn the Government out of office even if an adverse vote on this Bill could do so. I am not sure where Senator Milroy stands in relation to the Second Reading of this Bill. I was interested in his statement regarding the precedent that was sought to be established in this Bill for the entry by the Government into trading operations. I am not sure whether the year 1924, when the Housing Act was introduced, coincided with the period when Senator Milroy was not a member of the Cumann na nGaedheal Party; but, whether he was or not, this precedent which he is now talking about, if it had not been established at an earlier stage, was embodied in that Act by the Party of which Senator Milroy is now a member. That very Act, which was passed at the instigation of President Cosgrave, included powers even greater than those which are in this Bill, powers authorising the Government to enter into all the operations of buying and selling and, in fact, every operation connected with house building, so that the precedent has already been established, and not by the present Government.

Perhaps if Senator Milroy had looked a little nearer home than Russia he might have found some precedent, too, in respect to the amount of supervision, regimentation and registration and all the rest which he now deplores. If he had been reading the discussions in the British House of Commons and House of Lords, and particularly the denunciation from the point of view of the libertarians of the present Minister for Agriculture in Britain, he would have found exactly the same arguments as he is now putting forward in denunciation of this Bill. They, too, are talking about the Russianisation of the British farmer, the butcher, the trader and so on. The same complaint is voiced there, as Senator Milroy is voicing here, about the effects of all this legislation. It may be good or bad, it may be desirable or undesirable, but, as they say in Britain and as the Minister will say here—and I think he is right in so saying—the circumstances of the time involve and require certain exceptional measures to deal with a particular problem.

Senators appear to have admitted that the introduction by Britain of a quota regulation as regards Irish beef entering Britain, at the same time as they are devising quotas for beef from every other country, raises a problem in this country. The Minister has not set his claim any higher than that there is an attempt through this Bill to meet the difficulties that Irish cattle feeders are faced with, and to overcome that particular problem. If, perchance, there could be developed in this country a market for all the beef that is fed here, then this Bill would not be needed, provided the feeders would be prepared to take the price that the Irish consumer would give in present circumstances to purchase all the beef that Irish farmers are producing. This Bill clearly is an attempt to help the farmer mainly at the expense of the rest of the community. The Minister explained that the farmer is going to get a sum, not to cover the cost of cattle, but a minimum price, that minimum price to be regulated by the price that is ruling in the British market for cattle that are allowed to go into the British market. That is clearly a present to the Irish farmer.

How anybody professing to speak on behalf of the farmer, after all the complaints they have uttered from time to time about their difficulties, and particularly the difficulties of the cattle trade, can urge the rejection of this Bill, I cannot understand. There is a school of revolutionary philosophers who have amongst them a number who propound the theory of increasing misery by which they say that the workings of the present capitalistic system will inevitably depress the proletariat to a certain low level, and in the long run that proletariat will rise and overthrow the ruling classes; and they say that for that reason it is very bad policy to assist in the passing of any ameliorative measures, because the sooner the depressed classes are driven to desperation the sooner the change they seek will be accomplished. I can imagine Senator Milroy and his friends, particularly those of them in the other House, applying that theory to this business. They want in any circumstances, and the sooner the better, to bring about a change in national policy. They think that to do that it would be advisable to depress the position of the farmers and, particularly, the cattle feeders, that they may have no hope, and will therefore be driven to desperation. They believe that the quickest and the shortest way to the change they are seeking is not to allow this ameliorative piece of legislation to pass. On that theory I can understand the position, but I cannot understand it otherwise. The purposes of the Bill are, I think, generally approved of. At least it was said by Senator Counihan yesterday that he approved of the intention and purpose of the Minister in this Bill.

That is not what I said.

Senator Dowdall took the Chair at the request of the Cathaoirleach under Standing Order 12.

Well, Senator Counihan does not approve of the purposes of the Bill. The main purpose of the Bill is the raising of the price of the cattle to the Irish feeder. Senator Counihan does not approve of that? Then, there is the establishment of a system of factory treatment of old cattle. Senator Counihan does not approve of that?

The one item of which I do approve.

Senator Counihan does not approve of the subsidiary purposes of this Bill, to provide free meat or cheap meat for those people in receipt of home assistance or unemployment assistance. The main purpose of this Bill is that there should be a minimum price established for beef-cattle fed by Irish farmers. That is a purpose with which Senator Counihan does not agree. Am I right in that?

You have twisted what I said.

Senator Counihan says I have twisted what he has said. I am to assume then he approves of the purpose but not the machinery devised.

Not the methods.

But the purpose. If there is agreement on the purpose, the only question that remains is whether the means to achieve it are the best in the present circumstances. Surely, it devolves upon those who approve of the purpose to say how to revise the machinery, and machinery revision is a matter for the Committee Stage of this Bill. On that argument, therefore, I claim the support of Senator Counihan for the Second Reading.

A phrase used by Senator Wilson might be misleading to the House, if allowed to pass without some correction. He said that men getting 20/- a week unemployment assistance and getting free meat might not be inclined to look for work. To that extent, Senators might be led into the mistake of assuming that people in great numbers get 20/- a week in unemployment assistance. I refer Senators to the Dáil Debates which were circulated only a couple of days ago. In column 2037, they will find the answer to a question regarding unemployment assistance. It will be found that for the week ending 20th July, there were 27,416 persons to whom unemployment assistance was paid and that the total amount paid was £11,553, making an average of 8/4 per person. That is a long way from 20/-. When one thinks of 8/4 per person, and free meat for a family one will not imagine that there will be very great extravagance in that particular family.

Senator Wilson also reminded the House that the consumption of meat in this country was rather low. I think it is well to emphasise that point because it will go a long way, if the low consumption of meat can be remedied, to meeting the needs of the farmers in the course of time. The proposition in this Bill will do something, at least, to encourage the demand for meat, as time goes on.

I have some interest in this question and I find that consumption of meat in this country is very low. If the people in this country consumed meat to the degree that the recent inquiry by the British Medical Association declares is required to keep the physical health of a family at the standard it should be, it would require about two-and-a-half times the total consumption of all kinds of meat, including bacon, by this country at the present time. I am not dealing with the position of meat consumption in this country at the present day. I am dealing with meat consumption in this country in 1926-27, when times were prosperous, according to the opponents of the Government. At that time, the meat consumption was about two-fifths of the amount required to bring the people up to the level which the British Medical Association experts declared to be requisite for health.

I have some comparative figures which go to confirm that statement. These can be verified, if anyone wishes to do so, from figures contained in the official publications to be had in the Library. The consumption of beef in the country was round about 22 lbs. per person per annum, while in Great Britain in 1931 it was 66 lbs. per person per annum; in Australia, 92 lbs. in 1931/32 and in New Zealand 146 lbs. When one takes into consideration all kinds of meat—beef, mutton, pork, bacon—one finds these figures:—For the Irish Free State, 67 lbs. per person per annum; Great Britain, 145 lbs. per person per annum; Canada, 154 lbs. per person per annum; New Zealand, 150 lbs. and Australia, 190 lbs. There is tremendous leeway to make up in connection with the consumption of meat in this country, particularly in regard to beef consumption, if one is thinking of national prosperity as one ought to think of it. In these circumstances, I say that this proposal is a very considerable step towards accustoming the people in this country to a larger consumption of meat, and that will surely add to the prosperity of the farmers in the future. Senator Counihan and Senator O'Connor would prefer that meat should be used for export and not for home consumption. The proposal of this Bill is so to encourage the home consumption, for the benefit of the farmer primarily, at the cost of the taxpayer. The farmer is the primary beneficiary of the proposals in this Bill.

I am a little disgusted with the suggestions made here and in the other House about this free meat proposal being of the character of souperism— and this from people who have taken pride in their schemes for free milk and for free meals for school children! In the last ten years they introduced those schemes and applauded themselves for doing so. Is there no more souperism in that than in this scheme? Is there more reason to be ashamed of this scheme than of that? I read in to-day's papers that the Party to which the members belong, who are speaking in those terms, are asking unanimously, without any dissent, for free farms, free labourers' cottages, and free rates until agriculture becomes again prosperous. Souperism, forsooth! I, for my part, look upon that portion of the Bill as a recognition of the real purposes of the economic processes. One would imagine, to hear people talk, that all agriculture is directed towards producing articles for exchanging one with the other and that when things are exchanged, then they are finished. As I understand the purposes of economic effort, it is not completed until the articles are consumed. Here we have a proposal which, directly and of purpose, seeks to fulfil the economic purpose by bringing agricultural produce to the tables of the consumer and, at the same time, ensuring that the producer will get something of a better price than he would be getting if this operation were not under way.

The Minister, certainly, has not suggested, nor has anybody else suggested, that the effect of this Bill will be to remedy all the grievances the cattle feeder is suffering under. He does claim that it will remedy the particular grievance that is being created by the imposition of a quota. Now, one does not know how Britain, in the enjoyment of Home Rule, will proceed; but all signs are that there will be a long continuance, for the benefit of the British farmer and the British cattle feeder, of a quota system in regard to beef. It may or may not be so, but if it is so, then something of this kind is necessary if beef production in Ireland is to be continued. So that, we really come to the machinery that is proposed. Everybody is admitting that this will be a difficult Bill to administer because, with all the faults of either of the Governments, a system of registration and statistics has not yet penetrated to the minds of the people, so that they have not become habituated to providing all that is requisite for the proper conduct of a rational system of economic organisation. Accordingly, there will be difficulties and I can understand, on Committtee Stage, queries being addressed to the Minister as to whether this is necessary or whether something else could not be introduced which would be less irritating or difficult. All that, I think, is a matter for argument on Committee, but the general principle of the Bill, to my mind, should be accepted by all those who are thinking in terms of agricultural prosperity and particularly of cattle feeders. The Bill, as far as it claims to go, is for the benefit of cattle feeders whether at this stage of their history or looking forward to the future markets that will be required to relieve them of their produce.

I could not understand Senator Milroy's arithmetic. He spoke of an expenditure of £1,250,000, and he seems to arrive at that by taking, say, £600,000 odd which is, he says, the cost of the Bill, and placing that sum of money into the pockets of the farmers, and adding the two together makes £1,250,000. That may be his method of statistical analysis and arithmetic, but I cannot allow them as a cost to the community. The Minister has indicated that in his view the cost of administration— the cost of purchases of cattle and so on—will be around about £630,000. Senator The McGillycuddy adds a few hundred thousand to that, and makes something over £900,000, but I think that he, too, has fallen into the mistake of adding together things that should be transferred from one pocket to another. I do not think he should add the cost of the 40,000 old cows to the cost of the factories because, as I understand it, those two cover the same items. And I do not think he should add the cost of the levy as a part of the cost of the Bill.

On a point of correction, if Senator Johnson will refer to the Dáil Debates he will find that it is quite different.

It was the Dáil Debates I was working on. The Minister can correct either of us on that point, but it is material, perhaps, taking the argument from the point of view of the taxpayer. This Bill can be attacked from the point of view of the taxpayer, and if this House is thinking of it in those terms, then we may take a certain position, but surely we cannot think of it as a charge upon the taxpayer and then refrain from admitting that what the taxpayer is going to pay—far the greater part of it—is going to the benefit of the farmer. If the friends of the farmers are averse from taking money from the taxpayers, well, it is a new phase and a new policy. I do not know whether one should rejoice at that change or not, but at least it is something new, and it remains for those who are professing to speak on behalf of the farmers to assert that they no longer want aid out of the pockets of the taxpayers.

The Minister has requested this House to consider the Bill before us on its merits and not to make the debate an opportunity for a criticism of the Government on the grounds of their responsibility for the economic war. I quite agree that harping on the past is not going to do much good and that we ought to consider the Bill on its merits. It is with that desire that I speak. In considering the Bill on its merits, I think that it is right and proper that we should consider it not merely as a temporary measure designed to overcome the difficulty which is known to all of us, the difficulty with which the Minister has got to deal—the difficulty of these surplus cattle—but also as a cure for the whole situation of which that forms a part, including the quotas.

I see no time limits in this Bill. The Minister can limit himself any time by not doing things which the Bill gives him power to do. But there is no time limit which brings the provisions of this Bill to an end. My interests are certainly more those of a farmer than a cattle producer but I speak neither as one nor the other. I speak as a legislator. I must say, as a legislator, after hearing the evidence which has been put before this House by Senators who know far more than I do about the various aspects of this question, that I am very much more in agreement with the views of Senators Counihan and O'Connor than I am with those of Senator Wilson. This Bill may alleviate an immediate difficulty. It may help some farmers for a certain length of time but it is hopelessly uneconomic. It is a case of feeding us off our own tails, a process which cannot continue. Neither this Bill nor any similar Bill will ever restore the cattle trade of this country and put it again on its feet. No similar legislation can do that. It cannot restore to the country which is so much depending on the cattle trade the prosperity it formerly enjoyed. Even if I admitted—and I do not admit—that no other course is open to the Minister, or the Government of which he is a member in the settlement of this quota difficulty, I cannot bring myself to vote for this Bill at any Stage. If I thought that the Bill were capable of being amended so as to remove certain parts which are considered to be the most objectionable, it would be different. But I do not see that it is capable of being amended. There is so much unsound in principle in the Bill that I do not see how it can be amended. For that reason, I do not feel that I can vote for it.

So far as I can see, this Bill is likely to become law. It may be said that it is an idle gesture on the part of a private member to vote against it. But it is proper that I should give my reasons. The Bill gives immense power to the Minister. In that respect, this Bill is not peculiar but it is a Bill that particularly shines in that direction. It gives the Minister power to go into the cattle and meat trade. It gives the inspectors to be appointed under it great opportunities for discrimination and favouritism. To my mind, that is the most objectionable feature of the Bill. I am not imputing motives to the Minister or the Government. I have no right to impute such motives. But the Minister has got an exceedingly difficult situation with which to deal and this is the Bill he has brought in in order to overcome his difficulty. This Bill may alleviate the difficulty in some respects. But there is nothing in it to prevent discrimination or favouritism. And human nature being what it is, these are the sort of things that are always likely to arise when you give such opportunities as you give in this Bill. If the Bill succeeds in making the situation better than it is, nobody will be better pleased than I, even though I shall vote against it. But I do not see how it can permanently make the situation better. It is most interfering legislation and I should say, in some respects, most immoral legislation. It is also very extravagant. For these reasons, and on the principle that while I do not in any way minimise the Minister's difficulties in the matter of these quotas, and while I know that something should be done, I do not think that this Bill justifies a Second or any other Reading.

As indicated in Senator Bagwell's speech, we have to take the two typical Senators mentioned by him and be prepared to follow one or the other. One is Senator Counihan and the other is Senator Wilson. There is no doubt whatever but a great many Senators are hesitating very much as to what they ought to do in connection with this Bill. I am going to state what I mean to do myself and why I am going to do it. I think that it is a tremendous confession of failure on the part of the Government to have brought in this Bill. But I think they are dealing very honestly with us in telling us, at last, the position in which we really are as regards the cattle trade and the difficulties of the cattle trade. I sum up the position in this way: we have a very large number of cattle and if we do not dispose of them somehow or other in the way this Bill indicates, then we had better drive them over the cliffs into the sea. I think it is better that they should satisfy some of our citizens' hunger than that we should do that. I say again this Bill is an awful confession on the part of the Minister and the Government. Senator Milroy said it was an example of the policy of the Government. I differ with the Senator there; it is an awful confession for the Government to make. To think that this Government of ours should have to ask us to accept such a Bill is a terrible thing in itself.

I do not think there is a Senator in the House who does not recognise what the real meaning of this Bill is, whatever the causes may have been. I do not propose now to deal with the causes. But we are in the position that we have a huge number of cattle of which we are utterly unable to dispose. We are asked by the Government to pass this Bill so as to enable this number of cattle to be disposed of. Where I differ with Senator Counihan and Senator Bagwell is this—I think the Seanad is bound to give the Bill a Second Reading. Then we will criticise it clause by clause when we go into Committee. Whether we will be able to do any good or not, I do not know. I do know that there are a good many sections in it with which we could deal better in Committee than in the course of general speeches.

Senator Johnson, just before he sat down, gave an estimate of the cost. His estimate is quite different to the estimate of Senator The McGillycuddy of the Reeks. The latter estimate was based, he told us, on the estimate given by the Minister in the Dáil. These two speeches—that of Senator Johnson and Senator The McGillycuddy of the Reeks, show that we are really debating the Bill without any solid knowledge in figures or anything else of that kind which would enable us to know the facts. There is no statement before us as to how much meat these people are to get. The Minister who takes up this Bill and works it may want to deal with it in such a way that he would want to get rid of a certain amount of meat. Naturally, he would deal with the matter extravagantly. We took an immense lot of trouble in dealing with the finances of the Unemployment Assistance Act. But, under this Bill, the Minister can give anything he likes to any recipient he likes. When we come to that part of the Bill, I think we should have before us a statement from the Minister as to how he intends to work the measure, and he should tell us what amount of meat he thinks an unemployed individual and his dependents should get. Then he should tell us what the cost of administration will be. Anyone who is going to vote for the Bill should know what the entire cost to the country is to be.

I think the Government should have put before us a definite proposal indicating the amount of money necessary for this scheme. I am sorry to say that I had not time to read the report of the whole discussion in the Dáil. I suppose the Deputies there had a definite scheme indicating the expense in front of them. I should have thought that the Minister for Finance, the guardian of the public purse, would have interfered in this matter and that we would have heard from him what the cost of the Bill was going to be. As far as this House is concerned, we have not a single figure of that description. I think that before we proceed to discuss the Bill in Committee the Minister should give us every available figure as to the allotments of meat to each person, the figures as to the cost and all other items. He should also give us the costings with regard to the killing of these cows so that we should not have Senators differing enormously in their estimates of the cost of the scheme.

There are sundry matters which can be more properly dealt with in Committee, but there are one or two features in the debate to which I should like to refer. One is the attacks made on cattle dealers and the references made to the amounts that they have made out of licences. Who issued the licences? The Government issued the licences. The cattle dealers themselves did not issue the licences. If there is any fault to be found with the way in which the scheme is worked, if the licences were given to the wrong people, or if there was any manipulation in any way, the Government, and the Government only, is responsible. That cannot be attributed to the cattle dealers or the producers of cattle. When I spoke before on this matter I was told that the regulations were such that I could not get an export licence. I spoke then as an ordinary producer. Now, on the other hand, the cattle dealers are being attacked and we hear of the profits which they make, but these licences were issued to these individuals by the Government and they alone have any responsibility in the matter. Senator Wilson, speaking on this part of the Bill, said that the distribution of this amount of free meat was going to be an excellent advertisement and would make a lot of our people meat eaters. Supposing I found that the sales of the commodity which I manufacture were going down and that I were to offer to the Irish public free samples of our manufacture as an advertisement, would that be considered good business? I certainly would not consider it good business and I doubt if we are going to get any advantage in that way from this Bill.

I should also like to touch on the speech of Senator Milroy. He said that this was an instance of the results of the policy of the Government. In that I do not agree with the Senator. I do not think that we should deal with this Bill at all as if it were connected with the policy of the Government. It is not. I believe the Minister is quite genuine when he says that it is the only way that he can suggest for getting rid of the huge number of unsaleable cattle in the country. I think he should give us figures as to what it is going to cost before we meet to discuss the Bill in Committee. On the whole I cannot see how the Seanad could refuse to give the Bill a Second Reading.

I shall take as short a time as possible. There has been a considerable amount of discussion on this Bill and some statements have been made, particularly by Senator Johnson, which I cannot allow to pass unchallenged. The Labour Party claim openly that this is their Bill. That has appeared in public print and I believe it is true. Nobody can deny that it is a Socialistic measure but the Minister took full advantage of it before the late local elections when he went down to Wexford and canvassed for votes on the strength of this Bill. He invited the people to vote for his Party because they were going to give them free meat. That is the kind of political proselytism to which we object. We never objected to giving the poor anything which we could give them. Unemployment is increasing rapidly as a result of the policy of the Government. The figures are mounting every day. People are being put out of work as a result of Government policy. It is not our policy, nor our wish as the Opposition, to let these people starve. We would never agree to that. If they are thrown out of employment they must be fed and cared for. We have said that constantly. I absolutely deny the statement made by Senator Johnson here to-day that the Opposition are anxious to take advantage of the situation in the country and to allow the farmers become poorer and more depressed in order to win a political advantage. That is an absolute falsehood and I deny it.

It is a plain fact all the same.

It is not a fact; it is a libel on our Party. With regard to the speech of Senator Wilson, his enthusiasm for this Bill amazed me as a farmer. If Senator Jameson, as he mentioned, proposed to give us all free gifts of his products, we might all throw up our hats in the air and become enthusiastic about anything, but I cannot understand any farmer getting enthusiastic because he is going to get 2/- or 3/- per cwt. more for his meat. The price to be given under this Bill for the best meat is 25/- per cwt. The price in the Dublin market at the moment—Senator Counihan will correct me, if I am wrong—is about 21/- for the best beef or 22/- for special lots. In Northern Ireland, the price at the moment is 40/3. That is the price that we should be getting now down here if the Government had not brought the country into this deplorable mess. Why we should get so enthusiastic because we are going to get an extra 2/- or 3/- per cwt., I cannot understand. The situation being as it is, it will afford some small relief to farmers. It will enable the farmers to get rid of a few more cattle because, as the situation is now, you cannot sell cattle at any price. I am not denying that it will bring some relief to the farmers but it is a terrible confession of failure that we have to fall back on this method of relieving the farmers owing to the deliberate policy which the Government pursued of destroying them. I believe that it was a deliberate policy and that they did not go into that blunder blindly.

President de Valera knows that the farmers, as a type, are conservative, and would never agree to this proposal, on the whole. There are, of course, exceptions. The President sets out deliberately to break the farmers, and, at their expense, to get support from another class of the community. That cannot be denied. I should like to say a word about Senator Johnson's comment on the meat-eating propensities of the Irish people. The Irish people have never been meat eaters but they made up for that in other ways. They eat about double the amount of butter consumed by any other people, and they use a larger quantity of eggs than other peoples. I am sorry that I have not at hand statistics to prove that statement. The Danes are the largest butter-producing nation, and we consume double the amount of butter that they consume. The Danes are neither a meat-eating nor a butter-eating people. They are the worst-fed people in the world, although they are the greatest exporters. The Irish people do not eat meat because they do not like it. The only kind of meat they like is bacon.

Go to the Dáil restaurant and make inquiries.

I know the facts from experience. I feed a considerable number of men at certain times of the year, and if they are given anything but bacon they are not pleased. If you ask them what they would like, they will say every time "bacon." However, the people are to get beef as long as they want it. Senator Wilson has used that abominable word "amelioration" in regard to the farmers. Every time I hear that word I am going to hit it. The farmers do not want amelioration. They demand the right to live. They want justice, and that is not being given them. We do not thank the Minister for his tinkering measures of amelioration. Nobody appreciates them, and nobody wants them.

I do not think that this Bill can be amended. It would be necessary to change the whole thing. I agree with Senator Jameson that we shall have to give the Bill a Second Reading. It is the Government's baby, and let them take care of it. We did not bring the country into this mess. Let the Government, who did, go on and see what they are able to do. When the Bill is put into practice Senator Wilson may find himself much richer than he is, and I wish him joy of his riches.

I have no great sympathy with the butchers. They profiteered at the expense of the farmers. However, I do not think that the cattle dealers deserve the hard knocks they got here to-day. I hope that the Government will take some means of dealing with the situation in a proper way, and not in this tinkering fashion. Senator Jameson said that this was our policy and that we were passing resolutions to get everything free. We are not. We do not want anything free. The Irish farmer always paid his way honourably. He did that in a most extraordinary way in times of depression. All we are asking for the farmer is that he will not be compelled to pay his land annuities twice or to pay them to the Government which has no right whatever to them. That is a land tax. What they call half the land annuities is a tax by the Government on the farmers. The Government have no right to the annuities at all. Yet, the annuities are being paid by the farmers twice or thrice. I could prove that by cattle I sold last week at about one-third the price I should have got three years ago.

I want to make an earnest appeal to Senator Jameson to let us have the joy of seeing the last speaker throwing up her hat and rejoicing by presenting her with a free bottle of his product. Like many others here, I am thoroughly fed-up listening to the Senator's wail of woe and her bitter denunciation of the Government on every possible occasion. On every subject the Senator introduces the poverty and misery caused by the Government, and if we saw her for once in a while showing a little joy, as Jimmy O'Dea says, Seán Jameson would be worth while.

We all know that there is a surplus of cattle in the country. This country is not unique in that respect. Other countries have had this problem. Australia, through the quota, has suffered intense hardship, and, naturally, the Government of that country considered what they were going to do about it. The Danes and other people who were depending largely on the English market had to put their house in order when they were put on the quota. We are on the quota here, and we have surplus cattle. The Government puts forward a proposition to deal with that situation in a way that will help the farmer and the poor people.

Why did they not do it at Ottawa?

I did not interrupt you, and you might have the decency to let me go on. We are dealing with a very serious problem, and we ought to use our best endeavour to assist the Government in solving it. We are not assisting them or assisting the farmers by coming here and wailing and denouncing the Government over this and other matters for which, in my opinion, they are not responsible. The Labour Party have no apology to offer for their influence in connection with this Bill. People can call it by any name they like, but when, in the main, the people who are going to benefit under this Bill are the people who produce and the people who are in want, we are perfectly satisfied. So far as we could, we saw that these two classes would be looked after.

Senators have been denying that there is any question of sabotage going on in the country. I want to quote from the Cork Examiner of 22nd August, a resolution passed by the League of Youth:—

"That in view of the effect of the Government's policy in destroying farming profits and reducing labourers' wages, this Congress calls upon the Executive of Fine Gael to demand that the collection of land annuities, of rates on agricultural land and of rents on labourers' cottages shall be stopped at least until agricultural prosperity has been restored. If Fianna Fáil will not accede to this demand, Congress recommends that the Government be asked to set up at once an impartial tribunal presided over by an experienced judge to inquire into the fairness of asking farmers and labourers to pay annuities, rates and rents...."

The first part of that resolution is, in my opinion, an encouragement of deliberate sabotage. If the Labour Party put forward a demand of that kind they would be roundly and solemnly denounced as Communists of the worst possible type. But here we find a respectable, so-called, Party in opposition inviting the people to destroy local government in the country. Yet they come here and tell us that they have every sympathy and are prepared to give of their best for the upliftment of the country in general. But when you see this kind of thing going on, you may be pretty well satisfied—at least I am—that they are more concerned with sabotage than they are with the prosperity of the country about which they mouth so much. I think that this Bill should be given a Second Reading, and I believe that it should have the support and co-operation of the Seanad. This Bill proposes to deal with a very serious problem and with people who have undoubtedly suffered hardships. It is an effort to ameliorate, to some extent at any rate, their condition which has not been brought about by the Government. Certainly, so far as the people who sit here with me are concerned, they will give the measure every support in this House and every encouragement outside it.

There are a couple of matters that I desire to bring to the notice of the Minister. It has been emphasised, especially by Senator Wilson, that the great attraction of this Bill is that it will increase the price accruing to the farmer on account of the fixing of a minimum price. It has also been emphasised by the Minister as well as by other speakers that the minimum price will be fixed according to the export price —that is, the export price here in Dublin and at fairs throughout the country. That means that cattle would continue to be sold at 16/- or 18/- or perhaps 20/- per cwt. as heretofore. For that reason I cannot understand how any increase in price is going to accrue to the farmer. I cannot at all agree with the enthusiastic reception that Senator Wilson has given to the Bill.

Would the Senator explain to the House how he arrives at the figure of 18/- per cwt. as the export price?

It is easy to explain it. That was the experience that I had myself at recent fairs. I had the experience of selling first class fat cattle, and exactly the same price was received from the export buyers as from the home buyers, both buying in competition. I had the experience of standing at the last two fairs held in Kilkenny at which cattle were sold, my own included amongst them. We had competition there from the export buyers and the home buyers. The price paid by both was exactly the same. Therefore, I cannot understand, if the minimum price is going to be fixed according to the export price, how any increase in price is going to accrue to the farmer. I could understand it if the Minister reserved power to himself to fix an export price as well.

We have that power.

So that the Senator has been quite wrong.

Will this export price be fixed according to the price prevailing in England, or according to the price prevailing in the home market? If the price is to be fixed according to the price prevailing at home, I am still convinced that no increase will accrue to the farmers. With regard to the surplus cattle that we are trying to dispose of, from my experience of the last two or three months—I do not know whether it has been the experience of other members of the House or not— I think there is no surplus at all. I think that any surplus there was last spring has disappeared, and that the fattening of cattle has practically disappeared. I believe that as time goes on, bearing in mind the prices that cattle are fetching at the present time —a price comparable to the price paid for old iron and one that is hardly able to bear the cost of their transport —fat cattle will disappear very rapidly. There will not be any stall feeders, and there will be no surplus to dispose of if things are to continue as they are at present.

If that comes about, then the only portion of the Bill that will remain effective will be the provision dealing with the distribution of free meat. I have no objection to that. I think it is a good thing that people who are unemployed should, if possible, receive a free distribution of meat. But I certainly have a decided objection to the levy of £1 per head on cattle and of 5/- a head on sheep. Some speakers, when addressing themselves to that provision in the Bill, have said that the taxpayers and consumers will contribute these levies. I absolutely disagree with their statements, because I have no doubt whatever that the levy will come out of the farmer's pocket, and that in the long run all the expenditure in connection with this Bill will come out of the pocket of the farmer or, in other words, the producer. I am convinced of that, because I have had experience of the levy of 5/- per head that has been made on bacon pigs. That comes out of the farmer's pocket. Farmers and feeders, the small feeders as well as the large ones, are aware that that levy comes out of their pockets. I submit, too, that there will be no such thing as a minimum price. I contend that, in effect, it will be a maximum price.

Is the Senator now thinking of the figure of 18/- per cwt.?

I sold cattle at 16/- per cwt. I contend that the principle of a levy is altogether wrong, because I am satisfied that it will come out of the pockets of the producers and of the consumers. I think that the principle underlying that part of the Bill is wrong and will act as a restraint on production. The whole thing will result in an intolerable burden, in addition to the burdens they are already bearing, being placed on the shoulders of the farming community. Instead of aiming at relieving farmers in this way, I think it would have been far better to afford them relief by a remission of their rates and annuities, and I am satisfied that a strong case could be made for such a remission. Not only on account of the temporary stress that has been imposed on farmers by reason of the economic war, but on general grounds, I believe that a strong case could be made for a remission of their rates and annuities. Such a remission would produce beneficial results so far as every class in the community is concerned. In conclusion, I want to emphasise that I am not at all clear that the minimum price to be fixed under this Bill will bring an increased price for beef to the producer. I am convinced that it will turn out to be a maximum price instead of a minimum price. I am not satisfied either that Senator Wilson in his enthusiastic reception of the Bill is altogether right.

As an ordinary farmer I rise to support the Bill. In doing so I want to say that I have the greatest sympathy for the people who stood up here to criticise this measure. There is an old saying: "Sympathy without relief is like mustard without beef." I think I am right in saying that that might very well be applied to those who are opposing this Bill. For nearly two years we have had certain members of the Opposition here deploring the lot of the farmers, and asking the Government to do this, that, and the other for them. For the past two years, for the past two weeks, for the past two days, and even during the past two hours we have had the same people expressing great sympathy for the poor people, and telling us how they would like to provide for the needy, but when a measure comes before this House which is designed not only to relieve the farmers of cattle which are at present in their possession, and at the same time to relieve the needy, they stand up and denounce the Government, and make a personal attack on the Minister for Agriculture. I always held that the Minister for Agriculture was a good man, a courageous man. When he brings in a measure to deal with the present situation, to increase the price producers would get for their stock, and to give free meat to the needy without causing much inconvenience or expense to the rest of the community, then I am afraid he is too good for this world. It is hard to have to sit here and to listen to some of the ridiculous statements that were made by those who are opposed to this Bill. Several Senators expressed surprise at the enthusiasm of Senator Wilson for the Bill. The reason must be obvious to everyone— and it is the first time to my knowledge that he has done so—the Senator forgot about politics, and spoke from his heart.

Not for the first time.

In my time here. It was a grand thing to see Senator Wilson divorcing himself from men who allege that they speak on behalf of farmers and to say what he really meant. I believe Senator Wilson was speaking from his heart. As he has a considerable knowledge of this subject, that accounts for his enthusiasm. Senator Counihan got a sufficient dressing from Senator Wilson and other friends, so that I do not think it is necessary to say much about his remarks. The Senator said that the Bill takes away all freedom from the individual. It may take away a certain amount of freedom from cattle dealers. If the Senator contends that the Bill takes away freedom from the farmers who have cattle to sell, then I say he is up the wrong tree. If it does I will be terribly disappointed. I think that is the motive behind his opposition. He said that as soon as this Bill begins to operate dealers will not be in the position they were heretofore, when they could go to farmers and offer a couple of pounds for cattle and tell them that if they did not take the offer they would go to John So-and-so, who would be glad to accept. It is about time that state of affairs finished. In passing I should like to suggest to the Minister that it would be a good idea, for such time as it is necessary to issue export licences, to consider spreading the number of these licences amongst a larger number of cattle dealers In that way competition which has not existed in the past would be created. There is no necessity of stressing that point now. Everyone knows what has happened. Big dealers got a large number of licences, the result being that they have a complete monopoly of the cattle trade. They let farmers know what Senator Counihan's interpretation of "freedom" means.

For the man of common sense that I take him to be, Senator Counihan proceeded on extraordinary lines. He spoke about the arrangements for the slaughter of old cows, and he then went on to deal with the surplus which would probably exist in connection with stall-fed cattle. Turning from stall-fed cattle to old cows, he suggested that the Minister should set up a canning factory to can old cows, presumably for home consumption, and to export the surplus beef. I suggest to the Minister that a good policy for the country, as far as good beef is concerned, would be: "Eat what you can, and can what you can't." Never mind about the old cows. As the Minister explained, old cows are not intended for home consumption. The idea is not to feed the people with the horns or with the tails of Kerry bullocks, but to put good beef into the mouths of the needy here. The Minister hinted at the idea of setting up a canning factory to can beef, and to carry over the surplus, but not to continue what was the practice in the past, to be at the mercy of the export trade, which is a doubtful proposition.

Senator Milroy started off very nicely, a most unusual thing for him, but he had not very well warmed to the debate when he said that he was not talking as a farmer, nor as a cattle dealer, but as an average citizen. Well, if Senator Milroy is an average citizen, then God help the country! Senator Bagwell seems to be considerably upset about the number of inspectors that will be appointed under the Bill. He also refers to the possibility of the Minister for Agriculture setting up as a butcher and in various other trades. I believe that any man who has the real interests of the farmers, or of the people as a whole, at heart, should not be criticised for constituting himself a butcher, a baker, or even a candlestick maker, if the fact of doing so is going to relieve farmers and the people in the situation they are in through no fault of this Government, through no fault of the Minister for Agriculture, but largely owing to the fault of those who are posing as friends of farmers in this House and in the other House. I do not want to go into the question of the economic war, or to reply to the ridiculous statements made by Senator Miss Browne. I listened with my ears cocked for some suggestion or alternative to the Minister's proposals. Before a Senator sets out to criticise any Bill, that Senator should at least try to suggest some alternative. Senator Jameson made one suggestion which, I suppose, came from the combined brains of the Opposition. His suggestion was that it would be far better to drive the cattle over the cliffs and into the sea. That is what I understood the Senator to say, but I am open to correction on it.

He suggested that the alternative to the Bill was to drive the cattle into the sea.

Senator Jameson was the only one who suggested as an alternative to drive the cattle over the cliffs into the sea. In view of the statements that were made, and the figure given by various speakers, as to the number of people who eat less than 1 lb. of meat per week in this country, I think it is absolutely ridiculous for anyone to make such a suggestion. I think the Bill is an admirable measure, and speaking, as I do, on behalf of a very considerable number of farmers. I believe that it will be welcomed by the people directly concerned, namely, the producers of beef and the people who will be in receipt of home assistance until such time as they are provided with suitable employment.

I could not but see the humorous aspect of the last speaker's picturing of the Minister seated there as an injured innocent dealing with a situation which arose through no fault of his. If you go to the origin of this, what is it? Nothing but that our sins have found us out. The origin of the thing is the annuity dispute. Whatever may be said, I say here and now that that was in its inception nothing but an electioneering move. It was a bribe offered to the electors at the 1932 Election and that has been round our necks ever since.

What about the local elections? It is lasting a long time if the people were fooled by it.

It has been round our necks ever since and it is responsible for this extraordinary measure. Mr. Micawber contrasted happiness and misery in this way: "Annual income, twenty pounds; annual expenditure, nineteen pounds, nineteen shillings and sixpence; result—happiness. Annual income, twenty pounds; annual expenditure, twenty pounds nought and sixpence; result—misery." What is it to-day? The Minister, on his own showing, is doing nothing but mitigating our misery. Whatever he can do he is only stabilising a position which represents a serious loss to the farmers. The pre-quota position, whatever the prices were, was a position where the farmer could not but lose. The most the Minister is doing is stabilising a position which represents a serious and grievous loss. When we hear talk about the farmers' ability to pay and that the annuities must be collected, I would ask Senators to look at the Revenue figures which only appeared two days ago, and which show that the annuities collected up to 21st August last year amounted to over £1,500,000 and the annuities collected during the corresponding period of this year amounted to £163,000. That gives us food for reflection. I am not standing here to condone the position, but I feel that something of that kind is implicit in the whole of this economic policy and the inability of the farmers to pay, whether they get this relief or do not get it. That is the position which we have to face up to. At the most this is a mitigation of a loss which the producers cannot bear.

I was rather sadly impressed by the condition into which we had drifted by the speech of Senator Wilson. It was the speech of a war politician—"Whatever happens, we do not care what the effect is as long as we get something out of it." It is natural for people who are in distress, such as the farmers are, to say: "It does not matter what happens as long as we get something; we ignore the effect generally as an economic proposition or on other sections of the community." You get that sort of attitude of mind in real war. I remember well during the trench warfare that we used not to mind very much when the bombardment was a mile away. We would say: "Thank God it is not here; we are all right for the moment." That spirit ran through the whole of the Senator's speech—"We do not care so long as the farmers get £5 or £6 more for their cattle; it is a good Bill." That is a deplorable position to come to. I do not blame Senators. I think it is implicit in the whole of this policy which is driving us so much away from economic reality and into an economic morass.

Carrying that a step further, it does rather make me despair for this new sort of policy that is going to take the place of democracy called, I believe, a Corporative State, under which we are going to be represented in the new Parliament by the advocates of various industries and we will get, as was shown to-day by Senator Wilson's speech, every vocation fighting for its own hand regardless of what happens to the other fellow. I think that would be a most deplorable position. The speech we heard to-day makes us seriously think of the way a Corporative State would work if taken from the sectional point of view.

Senator Wilson further describes the Bill as a good day's work and an economic proposition. An economic proposition whereby, according to the figures of Senator Milroy and Senator The McGillycuddy, the Government has to find a sum of £600,000 of actual money to administer the Bill, and we have to raise the price of cattle to the extent of another £600,000 and pass that on to the consumer! I may be wrong in these figures and I am open to correction. We are simply going to put £1,250,000 on to the general taxpayer. There is going to be no more production of wealth; we are to destroy wealth at the cost of putting £1,250,000 on the general taxpayer.

The position is that the farmers have been depleted of a million of capital to the benefit of the townsman. The Bill will reverse that and give the million back from the townsman to the farmer, and will not leave the country. It is an economic proposition.

I do not see how it is an economic proposition simply to pass on the burden. There is no further production of wealth. It must be financed largely either by the taxpayer paying or by a hidden tax on the consumer of meat.

You got meat for nothing before.

That may be so, but it is a hidden tax on the consumer of meat. If you go further and examine the incidence of that, while there may be free meat for a certain section, I do not see how it is possible to avoid a very substantial increase of price to the other section of the community.

That does not matter if Senator Wilson gets 10/- more for his cattle.

If there is going to be a tax on meat to the general consumer, it only means that he cannot buy other things. It is a well-known economic principle that if you put up the price in one direction it reduces the purchasing power in another. I challenge the soundness of what you call an economic proposition. This Bill is a piece of jugglery, and a subsidy and all the rest of it. Senator Quirke said that it was refreshing to hear Senator Wilson speaking from his heart and with no regard to Party affiliations. I suggest that he spoke in the spirit of "where my treasure is, there does my heart lie also." We would all join, I think, with any Party that is going to give us substantial increases in our incomes. If the Minister can give me a guarantee that over a period of years his policy will substantially increase my income, for instance, I think he might probably get me as a supporter. I know perfectly well, of course, that he could not guarantee that. There is sound government and there is unsound government, and I think this Bill is an example of unsound practice. Anybody who falls for the bait is taking a very short view.

I am glad to see that Senator Comyn has returned. I do not know why, but he is always rather appealing to me personally to support him in his attitude with regard to the quota. I think he wants me to say that Great Britain had no moral justification for putting on the quota. Rather like a lawyer, he wants me to say "yes" or "no." I am not going to fall for anything quite so trite as that. The quota was imposed upon all the Dominions and not merely upon Ireland alone. The Senator probably is going to say that if moral principles had been acted upon there should have been an exception made in the case of this country. But this country has broken the Treaty; it has insulted the King, it has done everything it can do to annoy, to repudiate and to discredit the Dominion connection. I think it is asking too much; it is asking for a degree of Christianity on the principle of the Sermon on the Mount, and no one could expect that in the circumstances from any country. If we had been friendly in our attitude and if we had gone about our business as neighbours, there might be something to be said. But in view of the whole attitude of the Party, which the Senator is supporting, towards the Dominion status and towards those who feel and honour that status, I certainly could not support him in his contention that the imposition of the quota was a breach of a moral obligation.

Is not Britain a sovereign state just the same as we are? Are we not quick enough to put on quotas whenever we think it serves our interests, and how can we expect to have it both ways? I deplore the quota just the same as the Senator does, but when he says it is contrary to the moral principle, I do not agree. I was rather interested in the Senator's remark about profiteering. He made no exception, even in the case of the profession he adores. He referred to all classes, I think.

No. There were, I said, certain classes in this country who have taken advantage of what is called the economic war between Great Britain and Ireland, certain classes of people, certain sections who have taken advantage of that for the purpose of profiteering disgracefully.

I accept the limitation. As I made a note of the Senator's remarks, there was no limitation. Of course, one may make statements which later on one may naturally wish to modify, and rightly so. We all get carried away in the heat of debate. The note I made when the Senator was speaking was that all small classes were profiteering. Still, I accept the Senator's correction in the spirit in which it is given. With regard to the Bill itself, I think I have already indicated that it is a most astounding piece of legislation. How it will work out remains to be seen. I believe it will involve an enormous number of inspectors and rules and regulations. Senator Counihan, who has much more experience of these matters, has prophesied that it cannot operate. I will not say that it will not work, because if you put enough money into a thing it will always work. There is no difficulty in giving the farmers £10 more a head for their beasts if you have a generous Exchequer at your back. But when you have regard to the general effects of this measure, the effect on the community, I say it is a thoroughly bad Bill. It is simply on account of the regulations which deny the people an opportunity of carrying on business in their own way that I cannot support the measure.

With regard to the more limited aspects. I would like the Minister to say what is going to happen if the butchers or whoever will buy the cattle cannot absorb what is offering at the moment. I can conceive a situation where the cattle on offer will be in excess of the demand. Is there any provision whereby the peak load is absorbed, or has the Minister the idea in mind to let in another category of people to whom he will supply beef, such as old age pensioners? The old age pensioners are no better off than those in receipt of outdoor relief, and I do not see why they are not just as much entitled to free beef as the statutory recipients. The Minister may say: "If I find the butchers are not absorbing all the meat, I will let in another category, the old age pensioners, and if they are not sufficient I will let in the agricultural labourers, because they are by no means well off either." I know labouring men living on a very poor wage, largely because of this economic dispute. Apparently that is the way it is going to be done.

What about Senators?

Yes, and ex-Senators too, and in time to come we will probably have others. What about the beef vouchers? The Minister is inserting a prohibition on trafficking in vouchers, but there is no prohibition on trafficking with the produce. There is nothing to compel the recipient to eat the free meat; there is no prohibition on the selling of it, if it can be sold. I know many people who would prefer a bottle of stout to half-a-pound of beef. Senator Johnson looks at me as much as to say that I am casting a slur on the working classes. But is it not a fact? Does he not know it himself? If you offer many a workman a good feed of beef against a bottle of stout, which will be choose? The Senator can be human when he is taken unawares. I can conceive quite a healthy traffic in connection with this free meat. I am told there is quite a healthy traffic in connection with free milk. A lot of this free milk is going to greyhounds and cats. It is not all drunk; it does not all go into the stomachs of the poor. If the Senator will make inquiries, through agencies better informed than I am, he will find that greyhounds have always received the free milk, and he will find that people other than the statutory recipients will receive the free meat.

We had the same trouble in the Army when the soldier was selling his ration. There was a regulation to the effect that the ration is the property of the State until it is duly consumed. The Minister may make a regulation with regard to meat, that it is the property of the Government until it is duly consumed. In the event of the animals not being taken, what is going to happen? Is the Government going to indemnify the producer against loss? I can conceive animals eating good grass while waiting to be taken off. I can conceive the grass failing, and the animals losing condition. Certainly there is a moral obligation on the Government to come to the rescue of the producer. How is that situation going to be met? Is this canning factory plus the old age pensioners going to take the peak load? That is the difficulty I see. All these things develop unexpected difficulties. I do not mind wagering that when this Bill comes into operation there will be all kinds of difficulties—difficulties that this House and even the Minister and his advisers cannot possibly foresee.

Are no steps to be taken to control the retail price of meat? It does seem that under this Bill the butcher has the beef-eating public in his hands, and can force up whatever prices he likes on them as long as the consumers can stand it. I see immediately the reply to that trembling on the lips of certain people. "What does it matter?" they say. The argument is: it does not matter about the rich; they can afford to pay. But the rich are not so foolish that they are going to give in all the time. It is the people who pay income tax and taxes of that kind that make this kind of thing possible. If you do not consider them in connection with the price of beef, they may find that they cannot afford to pay for other things and that may have a general effect upon the whole of our revenue-producing power. This Bill is the apotheosis of absurd regulation—regulation run mad. I cannot help feeling that this thing could be done in a wholly different way. The right way would be to try and get a settlement with Great Britain and cut the matter at the roots. There are other ways in which it could be done but certainly not this way. I, therefore, cannot support this measure.

The point that I wanted to raise has already been raised by Senator Sir John Keane. A remark was made by Senator Comyn—who is generally fair in his criticism, though not so fair on this occasion—in regard to the quota. The Senator declared that it was imposed upon Ireland without any moral right on the part of Britain so to impose it. The quota was imposed for one reason—to protect the farming interests in England. It was applied to all the Dominions and why Senator Comyn thinks that Ireland should be excluded is more than I can understand.

He said that the quota was not fair in its proportions.

That is another thing. That was referred to by Senator Comyn, but he said also that England had no moral right to impose the quota. I differ from him there.

I said that British statesmen knew they had no right to impose the quota.

How does the Senator know that?

And I said further that Senator Sir John Keane could explain it if he wished.

The quota is the raison d'être of this Bill. But the quota has come to stay. We are all up against the quota. It is very unfortunate and I am afraid the quota will do very grave damage to Irish industry. I think the Government ought to see what it can do to mitigate the effects of the quota upon the prosperity of this country. This measure is complicated. I honestly confess I do not understand the working of it. I heard many speeches but in the end I do not know that they gave me any further information. If it is an attempt by the Government to mitigate the situation, I hope they will be successful. As regards the glut of cattle in the country, a friend of mine who has property in the County Kerry sent his cattle to the last fair in Tralee. He did not get a bid for one of them, and he told me that in the whole fair only one animal, a fat bull, was sold. I asked him what he was going to do with his cattle and his answer was: “Shoot them.”

Many matters were raised on the discussion of this Bill, but I was not prepared for one matter that was raised by Senator Sir John Keane, and that is, whether the Government did or did not insult the King. I do not know what that has to do with cattle, but Senator Sir John Keane has a knack of bringing in things that are very far from the point, as he succeeded again in bringing in his impertinent reference that we are all depending on the rich in this country and that we could not get on without them. After he had given his very profound criticism of the Bill and given it as his opinion that the Bill was absolutely useless, he wound up by saying, as he said before: "I feel that something better could have been done." He has not given an alternative suggestion, however. He has never given an alternative suggestion for any Bill I have brought along here. But he gives this very profound criticism. It is easy to criticise any measure, and I feel sure that if the Senator brought in a measure here and I were in opposition I could criticise it much more effectively; but I do not think I would do what Senator Sir John Keane does here, and that is to wind up by saying: "I feel that something better could have been done," unless I could suggest something myself that was better.

Perhaps something better could have been done, but no Senator has suggested a better solution. Various Senators have suggested that it is a bad Bill. Some have said that it should be thrown out. Not a single Senator, however, had the courage to say that we should not try to remedy this matter about the cattle. Every Senator expressed a desire to have an improvement in the prices of cattle. Every Senator, seemingly, would be glad to see any surplus of cattle that exists used up. They all agree on that. Some of them, on the other hand, say that this Bill should be thrown out, but they do not give any alternative. Why? Two reasons were suggested. One, by Senator Wilson, was that people who have an interest in the buying of cattle cheap naturally would be against this Bill. That is a very good reason, and may fit some of the Senators. Another reason, given by Senator Johnson, probably fits many more Senators; and that is that if this Bill is going to be a success, naturally there are Senators here who do not want to see success in the cattle business, because the more chaos and complaint they can cause in the country the nearer they can see the overthrow of this Government coming.

That is too old.

If there is any other reason I should like to hear it suggested, but I repeat that there is no Senator here who had the courage to say that we should not improve the price of cattle.

I should like to say that I definitely suggested that the Quota Bill should be used to make a better bargain with Great Britain as regards our cattle trade. That was my suggestion as to the correct way of handling this question.

There may be a suggestion made that we should make a better bargain with Great Britain, but that is obviously only made as a political argument.

It is quite obvious that every Senator here knows that the Government is not going to take that line. Accordingly, I say that the two last Senators who spoke here, Senators Sir John Keane and Guinness, admitted that this quota was imposed against all the Dominions and that, therefore, if this economic war ceased to-morrow, the quota would remain. What bargain, then, could we make with Britain that would remedy that situation? New Zealand has tried it, and some of the other Dominions.

We might have made a better bargain. That is the only reason.

We might have made a better bargain or we might have made a worse one. It is very hard, however, to understand why Senators should say that they are not in favour of this Bill —unless, as I say, they have an alternative to offer, but no Senator has offered an alternative—seeing that they have agreed mostly that the quota is there not as a result of the economic war but of British policy in general. Senator Sir John Keane, of course, commenced his speech by saying that the annuities dispute was responsible for this position. He wound up by saying, or by implying, that the quota would be there whether there was an economic war or not. One would like to know on which leg the Senator stands in this matter. Does he believe that the quota is a result of the economic war or not? Because he commenced by saying that it was and he wound up by saying that it had nothing to do with it.

On a point of explanation. This quota business was settled at Ottawa where the Minister was present. Why was it not dealt with then by the delegates from the Free State?

It was not settled at Ottawa. There was nothing whatever about quotas there. Senator Miss Browne, if she were a member of the Canadian Parliament, might put the very same question to the Government in Canada, because the question of a quota on cattle did not come up. I do agree with what Senator Miss Browne said to the effect that farmers always pay their way, and I say that they are still paying their way. There are people, however, who call themselves farmers but who are more interested in politics than in farming, who are going about advising the people not to pay their annuities. These people, however, are not farmers. It is obvious, as the recent local elections showed, that the farmers—the real farmers—are on our side.

No. It was only in the towns you succeeded.

You have those political people giving this advice.

That is untrue. It is an absolutely false statement.

I was asked by Senator Jameson for an estimate of the cost of this Bill and I think it is necessary to give it because it commenced at £600,000, but one Senator put it up to £900,000, another to £1,250,000 and another to £1,500,000. If you take the cost of the free meat scheme, we are calculating on an average of 6 lbs. of meat per week for every person in receipt of unemployment assistance and an average of 4 lbs. a week for every person in receipt of home assistance. On that basis the meat will cost, under the free meat scheme, £400,000 per annum and it will absorb somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 cattle according to the size of the cattle. The levy has, of course, nothing to do with that. The levy was talked about by Senator The McGillycuddy of the Reeks, but that is really the other side of the balance sheet. A levy of £1 a head on 180,000 beasts and 5/- a head on 500,000 sheep will produce £305,000. That comes off the £400,000 and it leaves the remainder to be paid by the taxpayer. As to the total cost, we have £400,000 for free meat. Paying for, say, 50,000 old cows for the factory at £3 a head will amount to £150,000. The buying of cattle or the loss on the subsidy of cattle bought for the State factory for making tinned meat will probably come to £30,000. The administration of the Bill will cost £60,000 or £70,000. All these items tot up to over £600,000. That is, as far as I can say, what the maximum cost of this measure is going to be.

Could the Minister give us an estimate of the increased price which the consumer will have to pay—it has to be passed on?

It has.

It will be passed on to the consumer in some way or another?

I shall just conclude on this. The sum we are expected to raise is over £600,000. We expect to raise by levy a sum of £300,000. The remainder will come out of taxation. The price of cattle at the present time in the Dublin market might be put at 21/- to 22/- per cwt., but down the country the price is 16/- per cwt. That is a fair average. If we fix the price at 25/-, which would appear to be about the export price at the present time, it will mean that the Dublin butcher will have to pay 2/- or 3/- a cwt. more than he is paying at present. That will add very little to the price of the meat—only 1/4d. or 1/2d. per lb. in the cost to the consumer. The butcher in the country will have to pay 9/- a cwt. more than he is paying now. That will be about 1d. a lb. more. Whether he will, in fact, pass that on to the consumer or not I do not know. But it is felt at present by many people that the butcher in Dublin is charging too much. In addition to that, the levy is to be passed on. Taking the total, it would mean from 3/4d. to 1d. per lb. in the cities and a maximum of 1½d. in the country parts.

The question has been asked whether we have taken any powers to deal with the retail prices of beef or mutton. We have not, because the powers are there already. The Prices Commission can, if requested, or without being requested, examine the prices charged by the butchers either in a particular case or generally. The question of the rate at which beef and mutton can be sold can be dealt with in that way. If it is a fact that butchers are charging more for beef than they should, the increase now should not be entirely passed on to the consumer. Senator Counihan, who was first to speak, congratulated himself on the fact that he did not refer to the economic war. I should like to join in that congratulation, because it is the first time I heard him making a speech in which he did not refer to the economic war. The Senator in starting off said that the Bill is not capable of being amended. I do not know how he meant that or whether he meant it to be complimentary. If he did mean it to be complimentary or to imply that it was so perfectly drafted that it was impossible to amend it, I want to tell him that I do not agree with him. On other Stages of the Bill I expect to bring a number of amendments before the House. Senator Counihan said that if this Bill were allowed through, it would kill the Government. I do not believe he meant that because, if he did, I expect he would support the Bill. By this Bill we are really doing nobody any harm. We are going to give the producer more and we will give certain people free meat. The only person the Bill will injure is the cattle dealer, because we are taking away his profits. I do not think any Senator here will stand up for that small class at the expense of the farmers. I think that if Senator Counihan really thought that this Bill would kill the Government he would support it for, I take it, he is very anti-Government.

A Senator has raised objections to legislation by order. This is a Bill where it would be absolutely impossible to name a particular sum. We could not possibly fix prices and put down so-and-so in the Bill because these prices vary from time to time. Therefore, the prices have to be fixed by order. There are many other things that we have to vary, and we could not come to the Dáil and Seanad once a month in order to vary certain provisions in the Bill. Therefore, we must do it by order.

If Senator Counihan can point out that a particular provision of this Bill should be deleted and another substituted, I am prepared to consider it. In drawing up every Bill, we try, as far as possible, to state what we want. We only resort to the order and regulation provisions when we know that it will be absolutely necessary to alter a particular matter.

Senator Wilson was not exactly correct when he said that I never agreed before that there was any difference between the tariff and the bounty. I was accused of that in the Dáil by Deputy Belton, and I produced the Official Reports. He denied that I had ever made the statement, or that I made it in his presence; but I was able to show by the Official Report that he interrupted me 41 times during the speech I was making. That proved he was there.

Another matter has been raised with regard to the publication of matters in the register. There is a misapprehension about that. We can only publish what is in the register. A registered person has to keep records and returns, but we are not empowered to publish records and returns. We are only empowered to publish what is in the register. If any Senator turns to Section 9 (2), he will see very clearly defined what is to be put into the register. There is only the full name and description of the proprietor of the premises—a description sufficient to identify such premises and the limits thereof. That is what we can publish. We cannot publish returns or records.

Senator Counihan asked why should we want 6d. for 72 words. The reason is a person may come along to us and ask for the whole register. Suppose you have a person who comes along and says he wants to circularise every victualler in Ireland, asking them to buy a humane killer. We must give him the names under this Bill. But we charge him for the trouble of getting the information. As a matter of fact, we give him no information save the names. Further down in the same section the Minister is permitted to give certain information for statistical purposes. But it is also laid down that he must not give information that would identify any particular person. If there were only one victualler in one town, the Minister would not be entitled to say that the amount of business done in this town was so and so. He would have to include that town in the county, because otherwise the information would identify a particular victualler. Senator Comyn said that the methods of accounting were extremely difficult. That is not so. Every agricultural Act passed here, the Eggs Act, the Dairy Produce Act, the Cereals Act and similar Acts are identically worded in this respect. If any Senator will consult a registered egg exporter, I think he will find that the records are very simple. They are only asked to keep books as an ordinary shopkeeper would keep them—the amount of goods he takes in and the amount he sells. If he keeps his books in that way the inspector can come in and examine them.

I did not suggest that they could be simplified.

Senator Comyn said that he thought this was the first time that anybody was allowed to go into a farm and tell the farmer what cattle he could sell or not sell. We do not tell the farmer what cattle he is to sell or not. We send out an inspector to mark the cattle then fit for slaughter. The owner can sell the cattle in the market at any time, but the butcher cannot buy them and slaughter them before the date stated by the inspector. The farmer can sell the cattle—even the cattle marked for slaughter—to a dealer, but the person who is going to slaughter them cannot slaughter them until the time marked by the inspector. There is nothing to prevent their being sold. The practice will be just the same as at present.

With reference to the appointments regarding which Senator Comyn asked a question, the appointments are temporary. Under practically every one of these Acts—the Potato Act, the Cereals Act and other Acts of a similar nature—the inspectors are temporary. Some of them, however, have been there for a long time. Senator O'Connor, continuing a point raised by Senator Comyn, asked about the marking of cattle. Why do we mark them? We mark cattle because there will be more cattle on offer at a particular time than may be required for slaughter. On the other hand, we know from previous experience that there is likely to be a shortage a month or two afterwards. By marking the cattle for a particular time, we say that only the marked cattle can be slaughtered and we keep pushing back certain cattle that are not fit for slaughter until a slack period comes. There is a slack period in this country from the 1st May until the 1st July and cattle can be pushed backwards to meet the demand in that slack period.

I do not know that we are interfering very much with the agricultural industry by making these regulations. After all, if farmers were very well organised in the same way as rings of producers of any other commodity are organised, and if too many cattle were coming on the market with the result that prices were being depressed, would they not come to some arrangement such as this themselves? Would they not say: "Let us keep back the surplus supplies" because that is what is being done in all organised manufacturing businesses? We are doing this for the farmers because we know that whenever the farmers did attempt to organise themselves they were not very successful. It would be practically impossible to organise them without having some legal sanction behind the attempt. We are now going to help them in their business by marking the cattle so as to arrange that only a sufficient number to meet the demand will go on the market at any given date and so that the prices will be kept up to the maximum. I think that instead of being criticised by representatives of agriculture for interfering with farmers in their legitimate business, they should welcome the action of the Government in coming in to help the farmers where it is impossible for the farmers themselves to organise and to get the results which we hope to achieve by this Bill.

The Minister said in reply to Senator O'Connor that he intends to fix the export price of cattle. Could he state the means by which he proposes to do that?

Would the Minister make this clear: How is the Bill going to be worked so that the butcher will not take the levy off the producer as well as off the consumer? I know that in the case of the butter industry the producer has to pay the levy or part of it.

There is a very different position here. The butcher has to pay a fixed price so that he cannot take it off the producer. He must pass it on to the consumer. With regard to the point raised by Senator Counihan, we are taking power under this Bill to issue licences for export. First of all we can prohibit export. That is the only legal way of giving the Minister power to issue licences. Having prohibited export, the Minister gives out licences and he can attach to these licences any conditions he may think fit, including a condition that exporters must buy the cattle at a certain price.

Question put and declared carried on a show of hands.
Committee Stage fixed for next Wednesday.