There are a number of new Government amendments in connection with this Bill which were handed in last night or to-day. They are not in reality new amendments, as they have already been circulated in other form. All they do, in their new form, is to change their position in the Bill, but the change makes no essential difference.
Agricultural Produce (Cereals) Bill, 1934—Report.
Government Amendment No. 1:
Section 8, sub-section (1). To delete in line 47 the words "the whole or"
I move the amendment.
The Minister for Industry and Commerce has power to deal with millers of wholemeal where the full quota of wholemeal is not consumed. If the miller has to use sixty per cent. of flour and forty per cent. of wholemeal, and he alters the figures, the Minister has no power to deal with that. It may be very awkward for the Minister if the miller changes the sixty per cent. flour and forty per cent. wholemeal by reversing the figures if he had not power to deal with them. The Minister wants power to make the miller stick to the percentage allotted, and not to give him the option of changing from one to the other.
Government Amendment No. 2.
I move Amendment No. 2:
Section 18. To add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—
(4) Section 57 of the Principal Act is hereby amended by the insertion in paragraph (c) of sub-section (2) of the said section after the words "into a maize meal mixture" now contained therein of the words "of the quantities of maize meal mixture brought on to such premises," and the said section shall be construed and have effect accordingly.
In the case of wheat and flour, we already have a provision in the principal Act that not only must the importer of wheat, or the owner of a flour mill, keep accounts of the flour and wheat on his own premises but also of the amount that he has in his possession in other places. This is bringing this Bill into line with the maize meal measure. That is the full effect of the amendment.
Government amendment No. 3.
I move amendment No. 3:—
Section 28. To delete in line 31 the words "is imported by parcel post and."
I move amendment No. 4:—
Section 28. To delete in the last line but one of the section as amended in committee the words "as a gift."
On the Second Reading of the Bill I criticised, rather at large, this particular matter, and this very small amendment may seem disproportionate to what I then said. But the position is, that once you settle the principle of a Bill you cannot mend it, and the House is not prepared to hold up this Bill. This amendment does not conflict with the principle of the Bill because only such small quantities are involved. If the Minister accepts my amendment the trade in these matters will not be interfered with to any appreciable extent. What I have in mind is a number of patent foods, containing wheat, consumed by a number of individuals in the country for the purposes of their health. I know that some easement in the matter is recognised by the Bill because it permits quantities under five lbs. and 10/- in value coming in. I think that goes some little way to meet the case. I suggest to the Minister that although the subject of patent foods may not open up anything very romantic in the way of gifts, still it is possible, under the existing conditions, that a citizen of one country may be found promising to send along a certain number of tins of patent foods in return for which the receiver may be tempted to send back a bottle of "J.J.".
I support the amendment moved by Senator Bagwell and I think it is a very reasonable amendment. Unless this amendment is accepted the food of a very large number of invalids will be affected and especially those suffering from diabetes. The kind of food these people use is not manufactured in the Free State. Their supplies might be interfered with, and their lives possibly shortened if the Bill were to become an Act in its present form. It would be a great hardship to say that such people cannot be supplied from manufacturers in England or elsewhere beyond 10/- worth at a time. These people are practically living on such food and they would have to get weekly or fortnightly supplies, whereas such people as these would have standing accounts with the manufacturers for supplies much larger than those for a week or a fortnight.
I think the Senator does not realise perhaps that we are by this Section 28 relaxing previous regulations. We are not, by any means, putting on restrictions. As the original Act stood no product of wheat could be imported except on licence from the Minister for Industry and Commerce. These licences, however, were freely issued in this country for invalid foods, and were never refused on a medical certificate. But the Minister thought that the section as it was introduced was rather harsh and consequently an amendment was introduced giving authority to people to import packages which were less than 10/- in value and under 5 lbs. in weight under certain conditions without any licence from the Minister. So that relaxation comes in under the Bill. On the Committee Stage in the Seanad we went a bit further and it was changed to read as follows:—
"...either is imported as private effects in passengers' baggage or is imported by parcels post and shown to the satisfaction of the Revenue Commissioners to have been sent by a person who is not a trader dealing in such commodity and to be intended as a gift for the personal use of the person to whom it is addressed."
Accordingly, as the Bill stands now, after the Committee Stage, any person may import a parcel of bread, or other product of wheat, which is not more than 10/- in value or five lbs. in weight, provided it comes from a person who is not a trader and provided that it is intended as a gift for the personal use of the person to whom it is sent. I do not think we ought to go any further and I think that Senator Bagwell's amendment would look rather queer if we were to examine it. The parcel is not supposed to be sent to a person as a trader, but for his own personal use. If you knock out the words "as a gift," you will have people on the other side of the Border or across the Irish Sea going in for a special trade and sending parcels across to people here. If they do not send the parcels as a gift, they are going to charge for the parcels, presumably; but how can they charge for them if they are not traders? I think that the amendment suggested here rather conflicts with the remainder of the section. The knocking out of the words "as a gift," to my mind, would conflict with the remainder of the section. If these words are knocked out the Revenue Commissioners will find it very difficult to administer the section. They will then have to go to the very great trouble in every particular case of finding out whether the parcel concerned was sent as a gift or whether or not it was sent by a person as a trader. If he charges payment for the parcel, that may be sufficient evidence of the fact that he is a trader, but I think that it makes it easier for the Revenue Commissioners to determine such cases if those words are included, because if there is a question of an invoice the parcel may be held up or they may not allow it in. The exclusion of those words will make it more difficult for the Revenue Commissioners and I think that that will be the only effect of this amendment.
Is it intended that the issue of licences in the future will go on as before under paragraph (a)?
I should like to know of what assistance to the Revenue Commissioners the retention of the words "as a gift" can be. What proof has the Minister in mind as to whether a parcel coming in is a gift or otherwise? If I want to have some particular type of fancy bread or patent food which I think is a necessity, I can always arrange with a friend, either over the Border or across the Channel, to buy such a commodity from some trader and send it on to me as a gift. There will be no invoice included with the parcel and it will not come directly from any trader, but I can easily settle with my friend by private treaty in respect of his account. I do not suppose that the Revenue Commissioners will submit people of that kind to the test of an oath—particularly as it would be impracticable. I think we may take it that a matter of sheer necessity or of the particular taste of an individual will over-ride the question of expense and so on, and that, in whatever form transactions of this kind take place, they will not be gifts or presents. Nobody will send over a loaf of bread as a gift.
What about a piece of wedding-cake?
A wedding-cake has been suggested by some Senator. Yes, that might be so; but nobody is going to send a present of a loaf of bread or a pound of flour. That would not be sent as a gift but as a matter of trade. I think it would be more honest, if it was the desire to prevent any person getting presents of this kind, to say so in the Bill rather than to put in a provision of this kind, which the Minister must know is quite incapable of being worked.
My understanding of this section is rather different from that of other Senators. In the first place, I ought to say that I have had to import, for a close relative of mine who suffers from diabetes, a certain kind of flour and I had a licence for its importation under previous Acts before this general restriction came in in connection with flour. I must say that without any effort of my own the Department sent me a new licence to cover everything required on the grounds that it was necessary for an invalid. I take it that paragraph (b) does not apply at all in that case and that there is no intention that it should apply. My understanding of paragraph (b) is that it is not really dealing with invalids at all, but that anybody who wants to bring in a particular fancy cake, or anything in a small quantity, which would be prohibited under the ordinary prohibition of the Minister, will be free to do so. What I cannot see is the Minister's point as to the importance of having in the words "as a gift." My particular relative, who, as I mentioned before, is suffering from diabetes, had an experience which makes me doubt very much the Minister's own statement with regard to the word "gift" in its interpretation by the Revenue Commissioners. For obvious reasons, anything in the nature of sweets is poison to my relative, but it happened that he brought in a small box of chocolates about a year ago. He immediately declared it and was asked whether it was for himself or whether it was to be used as a gift. He said that it was a gift for somebody else and he was told that he would have to pay duty on it. He had to pay something like 3/- a lb. duty. That seems to me to be contrary to the Minister's statement and I am inclined to think that if the person bringing it in says that it is a gift, then it will not be prohibited, but if there is any duty to be paid then it will be regarded as a gift." It will be prohibited as a prohibited article. That is my own experience and there does seem to be some particular meaning to the word "gift" as interpreted by the Revenue Commissioners as far as personal baggage is concerned.
I take it that no one can bring in dutiable stuff in his personal baggage, but it is the practice to do so. It appears to me that if the commodities are for your own use they are dutiable, and I think it would be better if Senator Bagwell's amendment were accepted. I assume that the Minister does not want to make this prohibition intolerable to people in this country, and that he wants the ordinary small transactions of people to be continued. I think that is desirable, and I think that the omission of the word "gift" would be better.
These revenue sections are rather difficult to comprehend, and they sometimes have a meaning which is not obvious to the ordinary casual reader. I think that the Minister would make a great mistake if he struck out these three words "as a gift." This section does not permit a trader to send in here commodities of the kind mentioned in the section. But, suppose a person sends in this flour for personal use and that he is paid for it, I would say that the revenue officials would regard him as a trader, and would prohibit the import. From the words of the section —"as a gift for the personal use of the person to whom it is addressed"—the revenue officer will see quite clearly the class of commodity which he is entitled to allow in duty free, and will be saved the trouble of making an inquiry as to whether the person who sends in free, for the personal use of another person, commodities of this kind, is a trader or not. I imagine that this phraseology is inspired by those who have charged of the collection of the revenue of the country so as to facilitate them in their work and so as to enable them to allow these small consignments to come in, whether the case is a proper case or not.
Will they be marked "gifts" on the outside?
I would be glad if the Senator would allow me to proceed. My friend said that this would lead to fraud. What I submit is that the striking out of these three words will promote fraud. The question as to whether they are marked "gifts" on the outside will be a matter for revenue regulation. The revenue authorities will determine by general order how this section is to be worked. Probably there may be a general order specifying what is a gift. I do not know that, but what I am convinced of is this: that the section, as drafted, is workable, and that if you adopt Senator Bagwell's amendment I think you will be interfering in such a way with the section as to render the beneficial amendment passed in Committee unworkable.
I would like to know from the Minister to what extent the revenue would be interfered with by permitting the importation of these small packages. As Senator Bagwell has stated, there are a good many people in this country, some suffering from genuine diseases and some from imaginary diseases but all believing that their health would be improved by the use of certain foods. The quantity of wheat contained in these foods is infinitesimal. If the quantity of wheat used in them were to be grown here it would not make any material difference in our wheat crops. The cost to the revenue will, I imagine, be very small. The concession asked in the amendment would confer a great boon on a number of people who, as we have heard, are suffering from genuine diseases and cannot eat the bread produced in this country. In all the circumstances of the case I would ask the Minister to accept the Senator's amendment and to permit this bread that is only required in very small quantities to be admitted free of duty.
I think a certain amount of misapprehension has arisen owing to the case that has been made on behalf of invalid foods. I do not know that this paragraph of the section would deal with that kind of thing at all. I take it that paragraph (a), which has been passed, allows the importation of invalid foods as before under licence. I know myself that some difficulty has arisen through very kind friends sending gifts of cakes containing either wheat or wheaten products at Christmas time. This section would appear to me to be aimed at meeting that kind of difficulty and of enabling friends in other parts of these islands to send, as gifts, cakes made from wheat to people on this side of the Border. But the medicinal foods will have to be dealt with as before, as I understand it.
Now, supposing the words "as a gift" were taken out, then persons who are not traders but are the friends of traders across the border, let us say, and who at Hallowe'en time would be sending what Senator Blythe would call "barm bracks" to their friends on this side of the border, would, in fact, be making a trade against the bakers on this side of the border. It is quite possible if the words "as a gift" were taken out that they would not be traders. It would be very difficult to prove them to be traders. Therefore, it seems to me to be reasonable, if we are agreed upon the object, that the phrase in this sub-section should be as amended. But, if we are not agreed upon the object, then I think the whole thing should be altered if we desire that small parcels not exceeding 10/- in value, no matter whether intended for medicinal purposes, as gifts or as a purchase, should be allowed in and that we should have another form altogether. From the case that has been made, it appears to be sought that the words "as a gift" should be taken out so as to assist in the easy importation of medicinal foods, but I would point out that that is not the intention of the section at all.
I would like to know from the Minister if the word "gift" covers personal baggage? From my reading of the new section it does not.
Personal baggage is also mentioned.
I am not sure that the word "gift" does apply to personal baggage. If it only applies to the parcel post part of it, then Senator Johnson is right.
As a matter of fact I specifically asked the draftsman why the section was drafted in this way. I was told that the reason was that the word "gift" would only cover the latter portion of the section dealing with parcels by post.
And not personal baggage. Therefore, I take it that you can bring in up to 10/- worth and that the question of a personal gift does not arise.
I have listened with great care to what the Minister has said and to the arguments that Senators have put forward for and against the acceptance of this amendment. I am entirely unimpressed by the arguments made against the acceptance of the amendment. I want to assure the Minister that I am quite well acquainted with the section as a whole and that I have not concentrated simply on this one point. I am aware that the section is, in certain respects, an easement of the previous prohibition. In that respect this Bill is a tidying—up Bill. My desire is that it should be properly tidied up. What I have in mind is simply the question of these patent foods which have got some wheat in them. The amount of the wheat is extremely small but the article is very important to a limited number of people and may vitally affect their health. I suggest that for a customs officer or a postmaster, because it is the parcel post we are dealing with here, to prove beyond all shadow do doubt that a bottle or box of patent food is a gift is an impossibility. He cannot prove any such thing but he can quite easily prove that a person is getting this stuff in greater quantities than he himself could possibly consume. If it were coming in in such a way as to constitute trading and to be in conflict with the principle and objects of the Act, it would very soon become noticeable because he would be getting such an awful lot of it.
A very small quantity is all a person requires and I would point out to the Minister that if my amendment is inserted, the displacement of dots and milk, for which it is intended to develop a bigger market by using them in cereal foods, would be extremely small, and people with special needs would get what they want, openly and honestly, and in such a way as could easily be checked, because it will come in in small quantities by parcel post. If the amendment is not accepted, you are leaving the door open to any amount of subterfuge and fraud, and, in fact, you are putting a premium on lying. Having heard what my friend, the Senator who sits in front of me, has said—and he knows far more about this than I—I am disposed to press this amendment. I think the things is important and, in some cases, it might be vitally important that persons should be able to get these articles for personal use without having to prove they are a gift. I therefore press the amendment.
If you take out these words, it seems to me that it will make the amendment passed on Committee stage rather ridiculous. That is what I tried to impress on the Senator. It says "is sent by a person who is not a trader dealing in such commodity." If he is not, how can he charge? And if he does charge, I believe that he becomes a trader dealing in such commodity. Therefore, you are putting the Revenue Commissioners to the trouble of going back and getting at the sender and proving that he is a trader, and so on. I know that it may not always be possible to prove that it is a gift but, at any rate, if it is accompanied by an invoice or bill, straightaway you know that it is not a gift, and that in itself, excludes certain parcels and gets over the difficulty of having to go back to the sender.
I should imagine that if the Senator wanted to get what he is speaking for, that is, these invalid foods coming in, he should have dealt with paragraph (a), which deals with these matters in cases where licences are issued by the Minister. Paragraph (b) obviously deals with other matters. First, it deals with baggage coming in, in which people may have a cake, whether as a present from a friend for their own use, and I do not think it matters in that case. The paragraph says "either is imported as private effects in passenger's baggage"—and I think that "private effects" would cover that—"or is imported by a parcel post." If it is, it must be sent by a person who is not a trader in that particular commodity. Surely, if a person sends a things for cash, he becomes a trader in that particular commodity, and the phrase "as a gift" is really designed to make it easy for a postmaster or the Revenue Commissioners to prove the case. Removing it, however, I think makes the things ridiculous.
The case of chocolates, quoted by Senator Douglas, is a different matter and, perhaps, that is why this section was put in—in order to make a difference between ordinary dutiable articles and products of wheat. Products of wheat are not, of course, the only dutiable articles. Confectionery is dutiable; bread is dutiable and some of the products of wheat are dutiable while some are not. Wheat itself is not. What we are dealing with here is prohibition of import and not duty. We have power under the Cereals Act to prohibit any products of wheat and it is with the prohibition of import of a certain commodity this section deals and not the duty question. In reply to Senator Crosbie, we are not considering here the effect on the revenue. The effect on the revenue would be negligible whether we adopted this amendment or not. We are really dealing with the prohibition of import of these articles.
Could the Minister not deal with it my putting some prohibition on import for trade purposes and attach a penalty to importation for personal use and then trading in the commodity? If you insert a provision from the clause debarring a person from trading in the commodity, it would get over the difficulty.
That is provided for in another part of the Bill.
If a provision were inserted making it an offence to import for trading purposes, Senator Johnson's idea would be met.
- Bagwell, John.
- Bigger, Sir Edward Coey.
- Blythe, Ernest.
- Browne, Miss Kathleen.
- Crosbie, George.
- Dillon, James.
- Douglas, James G.
- Duggan, E.J.
- Fanning, Michael.
- Garhan, Hugh.
- Griffith, Sir John Purser.
- Jameson, Right Hon. Andrew.
- Keane, Sir John.
- Moran, James.
- Comyn, Michael, K.C.
- Connolly, Joseph.
- Costello, Mrs.
- Duffy, Michael.
- Farren, Thomas.
- Foran, Thomas.
- Johnson, Thomas.
- MacEllin, Seán E.
- MacKean, James.
- Moore, Colonel.
- O'Neill, L.
- Quirke, William.
- Robinson, David L.
- Staines, Michael.
The result is a tie, 14 for and 14 against. I shall support the position in the Bill and vote against the amendment.
Amendments Nos. 4a and 4b.
There are two new amendments, amendments Nos. 4a and 4b. They are to delete Sections 32 and 33. There is also a proposed new section—65—which is an amalgamation practically of those other two without any serious change. The Minister himself will explain as to the deletion of Sections 32 and 33.
Amendment No. 4a:—
Section 32. To delete the sections.
Amendment No. 4b:—
Section 33. To delete the Sections.
Amendment No. 4c:—
Section 65. To insert before Section 65, but in Part V, a new Section as follows:—
65.—(1) Whenever a milling (composite flour) order is in force, it shall not be lawful for any registered flour importer to sell any imported wheaten flour unless such wheaten flour is sold to another registered flour importer, the holder of a milling licence or the Minister or such wheaten flour is sold under and in accordance with a licence issued by the Minister under this section.
(2) If any registered flour importer acts in contravention of this section such registered flour importer shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to the penalties mentioned in Part I of the Schedule to this Act.
(3) Where a registered flour importer acts in contravention of this section such registered flour importer shall, for the purposes of Section 61 of the Principal Act, as amended by this Act, be deemed to have acted in contravention of the Principal Act, and the said Section 61, as so amended, shall apply and have effect accordingly.
(4) An offence under this section may be prosecuted by or at the suit of the Minister as prosecutor.
(5) The Minister may, on the application of a registered flour importer, grant to such importer a licence expressed to authorise such importer, subject to compliance with such conditions as the thinks fit to impose, to sell imported wheaten flour to a specified persons without limit as to time or quantity or either of them or within a specified time or in a specified quantity.
(6) Every licence granted, under this section to a registered flour importer shall operate to authorise such importer, subject to compliance, with such conditions (if any) as may be specified therein, to sell imported wheaten flour to the person specified therein either (as may be specified therein) without limit as to time or quantity or either of them or within a specified time or in a specified quantity.
I formally moved the amendments which have been read out.
I would ask the Seanad to consider this matter though I consider it strictly out of order. 33 as they stand would have this effect at any rate—that imported flour, even at the present time, could not be sold to a baker unless under licence issued by the Minister for Industry and Commerce. That provision was not intended to operate until the mixture of oatmeal with flour should come into operation. If we are mixing oat flour with wheat flour it would be necessary to have the oat flour mixed before that to bring that part of the Bill into operation until after next harvest, that is the 1935 harvest at the earliest. It is rather unnecessary to have this provision there and therefore, we are shifting these two sections into the part of the Bill which deals with the mixing of the flour. That section would not be operative under that Part of it. That is the object of these new amendments, to delete the section and put the other over to Section 65. That would give the effect that we want in this Bill.
We are not changing the sections except that we insert at the beginning these few words "whenever a milling (composite flour) order is enforced." We are not making any material change in the sections:
These amendments more or less amalgamate the sections, but there is no serious charge effected.
There is one other matter which I wanted to mention. There is a printer's error in Section 50, line 30, which reads: "If such premises are entertained in the register of dealers." Obviously that should read "if such premises are entered in the register of dealers." I desire to have the section amended accordingly.
I formally move that the word "entertained" be deleted and the word "entered" substituted.
There is also a printer's error on page 22. Section 66 should read Section 64.
I am sure the House will agree to alter that also.
I formally move the necessary amendment.
Section 86. To delete lines 37 to 47, inclusive.
It really is not necessary to define the expression "potential grain store or potential grain him" in view of the amendment to Section 90, to which this amendment is preparatory.
Section 90. In sub-section (1), page 30, line 25, to insert before the words "The Minister may" the words "Subject to the provisions of this section,".
That, of course, is to be followed by an amendment which was asked for by the railways and which is in similar terms to an amendment which is on the Order Paper in respect to the Slaughter of Cattle and Sheep Bill. The railways were apprehensive that, in taking land by compulsion, we might possibly take land which they had already taken for the purposes of the development of the railways. We can explain the railway amendment on the amendment which is to be moved second next to this.
Government amendment No. 6:—
Section 90, sub-section (1). To delete all after the word "compulsorily" in line 26 down to and including the word "kiln" in line 31 and to substitute therefor the words "for the purposes of this part of this Act any land".
This amendment changes the section somewhat but it does not alter its effect. The Minister has power to acquire land compulsorily for the purpose of developing or building corn stores or kilns and, afterwards, for the leasing of these or for the selling or the working of them, as the case may be. As the sections stood "corn store" or "corn kiln" was defined in certain terms. That definition has been removed because the draftsman pointed out that it was not necessary as the land would include the corn store or the kiln. It is not necessary to define these items, as we take over the land with the buildings on them.
Section 90. To insert at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—
(4) The Minister shall not acquire under this section any land held or occupied by a local authority or any body corporate for the purposes of any railway, tramway, dock, canal, water, gas, electricity or other public undertaking.
This amendment, as I have said already, is being inserted at the request of the railway companies. It is usual to have such a clause inserted in Bills in which compulsory powers of acquisition are given to the Minister.