I wish to draw attention to the fact that two amendments which I sent in, for this Stage of the Pig and Bacon Bill, were not accepted. As Monday was a Bank Holiday there was no one in the Clerk's office to receive these amendments, and so they did not reach him until Tuesday. The Clerk, following the Standing Orders, ruled that the notice was not sufficient and he could not accept them. I would ask permission, in the special circumstances, to be allowed to move these amendments now. They are two noncontroversial amendments and I think the Minister could accept them.
Pigs and Bacon Bill, 1934—Report.
I am afraid I have no power to allow the Senator to move his amendments now.
On the last day in reference to the Dairy Produce (Price Stabilisation) Bill, an amendment was allowed to be put forward that only appeared on the Paper that morning.
There were specific reasons and I said it was not to be taken as a precedent.
There are specific reasons for allowing my amendments to be taken also.
I cannot allow them to be moved now. The House can adjourn the Report Stage of this Bill if it so desires, in order to allow these amendments to be taken later. But the Minister is very anxious to get the Bill, and that was really the reason for the Seanad meeting to-day. There were three days allowed for handing in amendments in connection with the Report Stage of this Bill and the Senator did not avail himself of them.
Is it possible to know what Senator Counihan's amendments are?
What good would it do?
If they prove to be of consequence there might be a possibility of adjourning the Report Stage to-day. If they were only trivial there would be no need for anything like that.
This Bill has been considerably rushed. The Committee Stage was only taken a few days ago and a Bank holiday intervened. We had only two days in which to hand in amendments. We had not even got the Official Reports to consult, and these are very important when preparing amendments. I am not opposing the taking of the Report Stage but I think the Seanad ought to give me the opportunity of putting in my amendments which if accepted would considerably improve the Bill. Whether they are accepted or not we should get an opportunity of discussing them.
I am sorry they cannot be moved now.
The following Government amendments were agreed to:—
1. Section 15, sub-section (1). To delete in line 1 the word "three" and to substitute therefor the word "seven."
2. Section 15, sub-section (2). To delete in line 15 the word "three" and to substitute therefor the word "seven."
3. Section 17, sub-section (4). To delete in line 29 the word "of", where it secondly occurs.
4. Section 17, sub-section (4). To delete the word "account" in line 35 and to substitute therefor the word "document."
5. Section 33, sub-section (1). To delete in line 7 the word "to", where it first occurs, and to substitute therefor the word "shall."
6. Section 33, sub-section (4). To delete in line 52 the word "of."
7. Section 33, sub-section (4). To delete the word "account" in line 58 and to substitute therefor the word "document."
8. Section 36, sub-section (6). To delete in lines 28-29 the words "cleanliness and suitability of" and to substitute therefor the words "suitability of slaughtering."
Government amendment No. 9:—
Section 39, sub-sections (1) and (2). To delete the sub-sections and to substitute the following new sub-sections therefor:—
(1) Wages payable to a workman employed at licensed premises shall be at a rate not less than the rate generally recognised by trade unions and employers as the rate applicable to workmen employed in a similar kind of work at similar licensed premises.
(2) The conditions of employment (other than the rate of wages) of a workman employed at licensed premises shall not be less advantageous than the conditions of employment generally recognised by trade unions and employers as the conditions of employment applicable to workmen employed in a similar kind of work at similar licensed premises.
We had a lot of discussion the last day on this matter in reference to wages. I have put in here the exact words used in the Cereals Act as applying to workers in flour mills. I think Senator Foran will agree that it is better to insert these words than to proceed with his amendment on the Paper. Personally I do not mind which.
The Cereals Act will meet the case.
I hope the Minister will remember there are other people concerned besides the Department of Agriculture and Senator Foran in this amendment. Unless we have definite assurances from the Minister on this matter we will oppose it. Does this amendment mean that a minor curer in Cavan or Ballina will have to pay the same rates and observe the same conditions as similar curers in Dublin? The Minister argued on the last day that that was out of the question, and that it would be unfair to compel an employer in these country places to pay the same rates and observe the same conditions as prevailed in Dublin. And he explained that the cost of living in Dublin was very much higher than in the rural districts. Senator Dillon and other Senators pointed out that many of the minor curers in rural parts of Ireland were at a great disadvantage in comparison with the minor curers in the big cities. The Minister agreed that both the major and the minor curers in the cities had a big market at their door and that it would be unfair competition if minor curers in the rural parts of the country had to pay similar wages as were paid in the cities. He pointed out also that the cost of transport from these rural areas and the expenses of commission on sales amounted to a very big item. He made a strong case which convinced the majority on this side of the House that this amendment would not be the same as the clause in the Cereals Act. We could not possibly support Senator Foran's amendment.
I did not think it was necessary, after the long discussion we had on this matter the last day, to go into this question in detail again, but I had no intention of confining the discussion to Senator Foran and myself. I thought, however, it was only right to ask Senator Foran if he were agreeable to accepting the amendment. I could not really say what the effect of the amendment is going to be. Experience is the best test in all these matters. There is a similar clause in the Cereals Act and there is no doubt that it has given satisfaction. Area wages have been fixed under it. I must admit, reading the section, that it does not say that you can fix area wages, but it has been done in the case of other industries and perhaps that is sufficient to go on. The effect of that would be that a different rate of wages would be paid by factories situated in rural districts to that paid by factories in cities, small and large. The minor curers do not come under that at all. They are not affected. I think that the Senator probably meant small curers when he referred to minor curers. I think that what the Seanad really wants is a clause that will enable a position to be created under which, in areas such as Cavan and Monaghan, one wage can be fixed and in areas like Limerick and Waterford another wage can be fixed. That has been the effect under the Cereals Act and I think no harm will be done by inserting a similar clause in this Bill.
I think Senator Foran would be wise to accept the Minister's amendment. I do not think there is any fundamental difference between his proposal and that of the Minister. I have given the matter some thought since the last day but I was not aware that under other Bills wages had been fixed for various areas. It seems to me that the proposed new wage will be really governed by the words "generally recognised by trades unions and employers," and until there is a dispute as to the meaning of these words, no one can say what will be the outcome of the clause. If you have a system which has worked amicably in other industries then there can be no harm in applying it to this industry. I do not think it will have the effect that Senator Counihan thinks. It seems to me that the whole question hangs on these words, "generally recognised by trades unions and employers." If there is agreement between employers and employees as to the meaning of that phrase there can be no harm in the amendment.
I agree with Senator Douglas that the amendment is clearer and more definite than sub-section (2) as it appears in the Bill. I find it very difficult to make up my mind as to how you would construe the last words in sub-section (1) as it appears in the Bill: "Workmen employed in a similar kind of work at licensed premises in similar localities." It would be very hard to find one locality which was similar to another and in the amendment now proposed we have something which gives us a clearer idea:
Wages payable to a workman employed in licensed premises shall be at a rate not less than the rate generally recognised by trades unions and employers as the rate applicable to workmen employed in a similar kind of work at similar licensed premises.
I think that is much better than saying: "At licensed premises in similar localities." I take it that in the working out of this sub-section it will be possible to differentiate between licensed premises situated in a district like Cavan or Mayo and licensed premises situated in Dublin, where workmen, in order to be on equal terms with workmen in these rural areas, would require to get a somewhat higher wage.
I agree with Senator Comyn in the view he has put to the House. Unless the phrasing of the amendment were altered and the wording of the amendment moved by the Minister substituted, I think it would be very difficult to operate it. The section, as he has very well pointed out, will be governed by the agreement arrived at between employers and employees regarding the wages paid in the district. That is a matter that is best left to these parties themselves. Again, as Senator Comyn has pointed out, the phrasing, "in similar localities," is very awkward wording. It might mean that a factory situated in a backward part of the State might be treated on the same basis as a factory in a more accessible part. The court, in construing the section, might say: "Well, the words were put in there with some object." I suggest that the retention of these words would only do harm and that we should leave the section now proposed, to be interpreted by the people affected, the employers and employees, "employed in a similar kind of work in similar premises."
I suggest that there are certain other factors that should be taken into account in considering this amendment. The amendment, I agree, is a very important one and I have no objection to the principle of it. In fact, I always support the best possible wages and conditions for workmen employed in factories or otherwise. But I suggest to the supporters of the amendment that there are certain other factors that should be taken into account, such things say, as the cost of production in the various factories. I think that certainly should not be lost sight of by supporters of the amendment if we are to have a sense of fair play. We are always very ready to insert such amendments in Bills brought forward here and, as the Minister has pointed out, such a clause is already in operation in the case of the Cereals Act. That industry, however, is not as centralised as the one now in question. Another important factor is the cost of transport. That must be a very serious factor in the economic working of any factory.
On the last day, I pointed out that another important factor was the method of curing. The method of curing, I might mention again, carried on on the Continent is wet curing, with the result that Continental producers are able to compete with us and defeat us at every point. They are able to defeat us to the tune of millions of cwts. of bacon exported. They are able to supply the British market where the demand has been progressively increasing for a great number of years. We have got no share or part of that increased demand. All these factors must be taken into account in considering an amendment like this, and I would suggest that consideration of the amendment should be further deferred for the purpose of giving more thought to these matters. We have also to consider the great body of the unemployed. Supposing we give what may be considered an excessive wage, thus adding to the cost of production and to the cost of living, we must certainly trespass on the rights of these men to whom no benefit will accrue. We cannot properly consider an amendment such as this unless all these factors are taken into consideration.
Senator Counihan rose.
Might I ask is not this the Report Stage and how often is a Senator entitled to speak?
I only just desire to say that I am satisfied with the Minister's definition of the amendment, and that we withdraw our objection to the amendment suggested by the Minister. The Minister has given us a satisfactory explanation, and we hope that the other people will also accept his definition.
Government amendment No. 13:—
Section 73, sub-section (2). To delete in line 48 the figures and words "1938, the year 1940" and to substitute therefor the figures and words "1939, the year 1942, the year 1945."
There are a number of amendments which will be ruled by this amendment. Amendments Nos. 16, 17, 18, 28, 29, 32 and 36 are all consequential. There are also a number of amendments put forward by Senator Baxter which are certainly connected with this amendment. Senator Baxter expressed the opinion on the Second Reading that a two years' term of office was hardly sufficient or at least that it was not advisable, that it was too short. He suggested that a period of three years would be more advisable. I was inclined to agree with him at that time and, on consideration, I think a three years' term of office would be better. This amendment therefore, provides for a three years' term of office for the members of the board. Of course, we shall be able to deal with the other board in the same manner when we come to it. I do not think that there is any great necessity to make any great case for the amendment. It is simply a matter on which Senators must make up their own minds as to whether it is more advisable to have a two years' or three years' term of office for members of the board. It does take some little time before new members reach their full value, before they understand the position perfectly and give of their very best. If that takes six or nine months, two years would be a rather short term. On the other hand, if a member is not doing as he should, perhaps those who elected or appointed him might desire an opportunity of getting rid of him as soon as possible. On the whole, I am inclined to think that we should change the period to three years rather than the two suggested in the Bill. The other amendments are more or less consequential on that and I need hardly speak on them. There are other matters put forward by Senator Baxter which more or less hinge on this amendment, but I think it would be impossible to meet Senator Baxter further than we have met him. It would not, however, be in order to discuss Senator Baxter's amendment until we come to amendment No. 15.
I think that in this case also it would be better if the Minister were to adhere to the provision in the Bill. I am speaking from experience. I think I can claim to have been mainly responsible for getting into the Slaughter of Cattle and Sheep Act an amendment somewhat on the lines of the one that the Minister proposes to insert in this Bill. I think it was most regrettable that I did so. Certainly, some of those who were selected to advise the Minister on the Slaughter of Cattle and Sheep Act could not, by any stretch of the imagination, be described as suitable. I feel that if the Minister had the appointing of them he would have had to scrap three-fourths of them afterwards. In this case, it is proposed that the members of the Bacon Marketing Board should be appointed permanently for a term of three years. If some of these people prove to be duds, then I think either the board or the Minister should have the opportunity of dispensing with their services. There certainly should be power to do that at the end of the first term, at all events. This, again, seems to me to be a case where second thoughts are best. My submission to the Minister is that it would be wiser to withdraw the amendment and leave the section stand as it is.
May I point out to Senator Counihan that the first people who come on the board will only remain as members until December, 1936. From that date on, it is proposed that the three year term should commence to operate.
Senator Counihan's condemnation of public men who come forward to give their services, either gratuitously or for a consideration, on a board such as we are dealing with here rather surprises me.
These are not public men.
Senator Counihan's declaration appears to me to be rather an amazing one: that people in the cattle trade in this country who were called upon by the Minister to come forward and give advice in connection with the Act that has been referred to, did not prove to be as capable as might have been expected. Apparently, a mistake was made in the original selections.
The Minister is responsible for that.
Apparently, it was a mistake of not knowing the men sufficiently well, whether they were to act for a week or a month or for a term of years. If Senator Counihan had read this section carefully he would have seen that the members of the Bacon Marketing Board are not to be nominated by the Minister. They are to be elected by the curers. I suggest that it would be time enough to make a commentary such as has been made by Senator Counihan after the men selected by the curers to act on the Board had been put to the test. Some of us hold that the curers are fully qualified to select most competent men to represent them on this Board. The members of the Bacon Marketing Board will have a very responsible duty to discharge. It will be their responsibility to manage the bacon curing trade in this country within the powers given to them in this measure. Obviously, it will take them some time to get hold of the threads of the business. When this measure comes to be operated it will, I suggest, be found to contain many difficulties and some snags. It has to be remembered, too, that the representatives of the trade acting on this Board will, in addition to the duties falling upon them as members of the Board, have to give their time and attention also to their own particular business. It will take them some time to get a good grip of this measure, and even though one or two on the Board may not prove to be as competent as the others, the Board, as a whole, will, I am sure, be composed of a competent body of business men. Even if one member of it should not prove to be up to the level of the others, it does not necessarily follow that he will be of no value on the Board, or that there will be any desire on the part of the other members to get rid of him. For various considerations, it may be considered highly advisable to have such a man on the Board. It is not the man who has most to say on a Board who is always the most valuable member, and it is often desirable that the views expressed by the other members should get his assent.
It would be a bad thing, in my view, to have the membership of the Board changed every two years. The members ought to be able to feel that the personnel of the Board is not likely to be changed for a reasonably long period. That would help to give stability to any policy they may decide on. If the members felt that they would have to go up for election at the end of two years, then I do not believe they would be able to concentrate on the business of the Board in the way that they should. I think the Minister is wise in introducing this amendment. Experience, I think, will prove that, as it has in the case of most successful commercial institutions in the country.
I agree with Senator Baxter that a three-year term is much better than a two-year term. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if you get sensible men a three-year term is too short, because the thing to be aimed at is to get the independent judgment of sensible men. No matter how they are elected, if you give them a certain continuity they are more likely to exercise an independent judgment. I do not say that a man is consciously or directly influenced by the fact that he is up for election in a year, in two years or in three years; but human nature being what it is, he is undoubtedly subconsciously influenced in the judgment which he may give on a particular issue by the fact that in 12 months' time or in two years' time he is eligible for re-election, and that there will be a necessity to re-elect him. If he wishes to remain on that Board, he cannot avoid, in any period of his office, reflecting on the fact that he has to please the people who elected him, or who will have the choice of electing him or his substitute. In that way, the longer the term the more independent is likely to be the judgment of an ordinary, sensible, prudent man. For that reason, I am in favour of the three-year term rather than the two-year term. Senators cannot forget that their own tenure of office is for nine years.
Now, we are getting something corresponding to the economic war cropping into every debate that we have here; but, as I was saying, the normal tenure of office for Senators is nine years. The reason for that is that we expect from Senators, sensible men, an independent, unbiassed, impartial judgment, uninfluenced by the prospect of re-election.
Government amendment No. 14:—
Section 77, sub-section (2). To delete in line 9 the word "year" and to substitute therefor the word "order."
I move amendment No. 15:—
Section 82. To delete the section and to substitute the following new section therefor:—
82.—(1) Except in the case of the first ordinary members the period of office of ordinary members shall be three years.
(2) Of the first ordinary members two to be selected by lot as soon as may be after election shall except in case of death, resignation or disqualification hold office for one year from the establishment of the Board and two others similarly selected shall except in case of death, resignation or disqualification hold office for two years from the establishment of the Board and three others to be similarly selected shall except in case of death, resignation or disqualification hold office for three years from the establishment of the Board.
(3) Every substitutive member shall hold office for a period of three years.
(4) An ordinary member or a substitutive member retiring on the expiration by effluxion of time of his term of office shall be eligible for re-election.
The Minister suggested, in the case of a previous amendment, that it indicated the distance that he was prepared to go. I do not think that the acceptance of that amendment by the House queers the pitch in any way so far as the change that I propose in the section goes. In fact, I think that my amendment is essential. I hold very strong views on this. I stated them to the House last week, and I do not think there is much to be gained by repeating my arguments to-day. I think that the acceptance of my amendment, the purpose of which is to replace the section in the Bill, would cover the whole case that I want covered, and that there would be no need for the moving of consequential amendments to Section 82. If the sense of the House seems to be against the acceptance of the amendment, then I am not inclined to hold forth on it at any length.
The Minister has already to his credit quite a number of Acts dealing with the agricultural industry. I submit that pig production here can be as contentious a matter as any other branch of agricultural productivity. People are sometimes inclined to think that cattle matter most. Undoubtedly they do, but very close on their heels you have this question of pig productivity, marketing and all the rest. All these matters are dealt with in this Bill. Therefore, I submit that we ought to consider this question calmly, trying to visualise, as best we can, what the position is going to be when this Bill becomes an Act. For myself, I feel that we are going to have a contentious atmosphere created between the Pigs Marketing Board and the Bacon Marketing Board, and that possibly the Bacon Marketing Board may be blamed for quite a number of difficulties that may not actually be the outcome of their work at all. That has been the experience in the Six Counties, and I think that we are likely to be as argumentative here on these matters as they are in the Six Counties. Therefore, I think that, as far as possible, the work of the Bacon Marketing Board, in so far as it has to do with this particular branch of the business, ought to be smoothed out before this Bill becomes law. In other words, I think that the foundations in this Bill ought to be laid as broadly, as deeply and as soundly as possible. I hold strongly to the view that we have greatly improved the Bill by extending the period of office for the members of the Bacon Marketing Board to three years. But we must not forget that at the end of the three years we are leaving the position in this way: that every member of the Bacon Marketing Board can be sent, so-to-speak, into oblivion, and a new Board brought into existence. I think it is most unfortunate that it will be possible to do that. It is not improbable either that it may happen. I stated here on a previous occasion that the curers themselves, on many points, had given no greater display of unanimity than other sections of our people on this particular question. There are to-day divergent views amongst the curers. They have their own peculiar differences and difficulties and their own problems. I have no doubt that even on the Board there will be divergent views amongst the curers. They will be drawn from different panels and will already have been grouped before the Board is brought into existence. The Board will be drawn from three groups of curers. They will come in with different views and with their own prejudices—and they have prejudices. If one stands a little bit apart, it is easy to get the atmosphere. It is not at all improbable that, when the Board is operating for a short time, some of these prejudices may become accentuated, making for differences in the business of the Board and amongst the general body of curers. It is easy to visualise a situation in which a sort of campaign will be worked up to change completely and wipe out the personnel of the Bacon Marketing Board. Consider the situation that would be created if every member of the Beet Board or the Electricity Supply Board or the Board of the Agricultural Credit Corporation or the Currency Commission were to be removed and the business left in the hands of new groups. The men who will come on will not, of course, be complete strangers to the work, but certain lines of procedure and certain lines of policy will have been adopted by their predecessors. They may reverse engines and alter everything their predecessors have done. We may have change for the sake of change and because the new members feel that something new has got to be done. They may not wait to discover whether what was done by their predecessors was the wise thing or was done in the right way. They may feel that, being new men, they are bound to do something new, whether it be right or wrong. The work accomplished by the previous members of the Board will not be given a fair chance because it could be judged properly by new men only if they were sitting side by side with some of the older members who would be able to explain to them why certain lines of policy or procedure were adopted. Let the new members after some experience decide upon change if they think that change is desirable, but there ought to be no swift and sudden changes in the management of a business like this, dealing, one way or another, with trade amounting to millions of pounds to which there might conceivably be added £2,000,000 per year. These are considerations that, weighed calmly, should, I think, convince members of the Seanad that the proper method of dealing with the constitution of this Board would be to provide that two of the first ordinary members, to be selected by lot, should hold office for one year from the establishment of the Board, two others, selected in the same way, to hold office for two years, and three others, similarly selected, to hold office for three years. The outgoing members would be eligible for re-election. If, in their wisdom, the curers did not re-elect them but elected new men, we would not have change of policy unless it was obvious that there were good reasons for such a change.
I realise that a point can be made against my proposal. It is conceivable that the new men coming on instead of the retiring members might not come on from the same panel of curers as that which elected the original members. The Bill, as it stands, makes mandatory the selection of representatives in respect of a certain panel. It is obvious that if a man who has been elected by the curers on a certain panel retires, these curers will be responsible for filling the seat vacated. These reasons, in my opinion, stand out as good and sufficient reasons why this section should be inserted in the Bill instead of the section contained in it at present. It seems to me that the wisdom of the House ought to favour such a gradual process of change in the personnel of the Bacon Marketing Board rather than having a swift, steep change because of the method laid down in the Bill.
Every argument for continuity and steadiness of work is against this amendment. Senator Baxter has given the House a great many arguments which seem to me to cut the foundation from his proposal. He said it was undesirable to have election campaigns. It is very undesirable. But his proposal would mean that there would be an election campaign every 12 months. This Board has to look to its own constituents, to its own trade, and also to the Pigs Marketing Board and to the Minister. It is desirable that the people who constitute that Board should have an opportunity of knowing one another and working together. They should have an opportunity of knowing the men on the Pigs Marketing Board and the officials of the Department. It is desirable that they should also be known, because it is only by being in contact with men that you can work smoothly and harmoniously with them. If Senator Baxter's proposal is accepted, there will be a change of Board every year. The new men will have some difficulty in understanding the working of the Board. They will also have the human impulse to try to assert themselves. If you want steady work, if you want continuity of work, if you want to escape, as far as possible, from campaigning and electioneering, the best thing to do is to appoint the Board for three years or, as I should say, for a longer term. Let the members understand one another. Let them understand the other Board and let them understand the officials of the Department. It would be much better to have a system like that than to have the continual excitement that would result from candidates every year seeking a seat on this Board and having their own faction to support them.
There will be difficulties in connection with the administration of this Act. There will be a good many people disappointed and if they have the prospect within 12 months of altering the personnel, that will give them an additional inducement to agitate. What is wanted in the administration of this Act and of these numerous other statutes is steady continuity of work and a certain unchanging line of policy. That will be better for the Board, better for the trade, better for the pig producers, who will be to a certain extent in rivalry with the members of this Board, and better for the Department.
I am opposed to this amendment for various reasons. The reason which I shall mention first is not the principal reason. If this amendment were made, it would necessitate a number of other amendments. I do not know how we could proceed, in that event, because it would be necessary to have another Stage in this House to get the Bill right. As the Standing Orders of this House are framed, I do not know whether or not that could be done. For that reason, the adoption of the amendment would mean the withdrawal of the Bill. A great part of it would have to be re-drafted because the machinery for election enters into many sections. Amendments would have to be moved to these sections to bring them into line with the new procedure. That is not, perhaps, a good reason to give because the Seanad may ask whether, if I were in favour of the proposal, the change could not have been made at the right time. I am not in favour of the proposal.
There is a great deal in what Senator Comyn said, that you would have, under this proposal, a disturbing factor entering into the procedure every year. If the curer members are to be elected every year and if the producer members are to be elected as proposed and if, as Senator Baxter suggests, there is going to be a great deal of interest taken in the proceedings, you will have a certain amount of election fever every year instead of every three years. I do not think that that would be advisable. However, I do not know that there will be as much interest as Senator Baxter suggests taken in the election of these members. The number of electors among the curers will be small. There will be only about 30 altogether and they will be divided into three panels—a panel of large curers, consisting of two or three; a panel of medium curers, consisting of eight or nine, and a panel of small curers, consisting of 17 or 18. Where you have only seven or eight businessmen electing two of their number to represent them on the Board, there will not be that electioneering air about the proceedings. They will probably decide easily amongst themselves who will represent them, and it is quite possible that the two members first elected will remain on the Board for years. It is more than likely that they will give satisfaction as representatives of the bacon curers. If we have elected representatives of the producers, there may be a different position. The producers may be dissatisfied with the working of the Board or with the prices. They may blame their representatives on the Board for not doing more for them. They may be anxious to change their representatives and elect others. If that is to be the case, it is better that they should all go out every three years. If we are to have democratic control by the producers, there is no reason why we should not go the whole way and make the change complete.
The arguments that Senator Baxter used could be used just as well against this amendment. It is very difficult to know how these things will work out. As the boards are being constituted—election by the curers and nomination in the case of the producers—no argument can be put up for the amendment. If we came to the stage where the producers elected their representatives, there might be something to be said for the amendment although, against it, it could be said that you would have the election fever, to which I have referred, every year. If that change in the method of constituting the board be decided upon, it will have to be done, so far as I can see, by a new Bill. There is a certain amount of power in the Bill to have it done by the Minister but I do not think it could be satisfactorily done without a new Bill. At that stage we could discuss whether we would have the system of a certain number retiring each year, or of all retiring at the end of three years. I ask Senator Baxter to withdraw the amendment, because I do not think that any great argument was put up in its favour and, for the more immediate reason, that I am afraid it would delay the Bill unnecessarily. We would have to postpone further consideration of the Report Stage in order to bring in further amendments if this amendment were adopted.
I ask leave to withdraw the amendment, not for the reasons mentioned by the Minister, but in order not to complicate the position.
On behalf of Senator Dowdall I move amendment No. 19:—
Section 98, sub-section (2). To delete the word "one" in line 26 and to substitute therefor the word "three."
I do not think anything is to be gained by this amendment. It would compel the Bacon Marketing Board to make an allocation for three weeks instead of for one week. As the Bill stands, the board may, if they wish, make an order three weeks beforehand. I think they will, when ever they can, give such notice. It would be unwise to bind them to give three weeks' notice, because there might be a wrong calculation about the number of pigs in the country or something like that and it might be awkward to delay operations for three weeks. The principle we adopted in the Dáil and in this House is to give boards the fullest freedom of action. As they are there for the good of the industry, and not there to hurt it in any way, as a Curers' Board naturally they will give as long notice as possible. But there is no reason for binding them to give three weeks' notice.
On behalf of Senator Dowdall I move amendment No. 20:—
Section 99, sub-section (2). To delete the sub-section.
Under the Bill the Minister has power to grant licences to a person who sets up a bacon factory. In doing such a thing the Minister may possibly be "up against" the curers, because they may resent another factory being started. I mentioned already in this House that I would like very much to see a bacon factory started in County Donegal, as I think it would be a good thing for the people of that county. Taking that particular instance, the Bacon Board might say that there were sufficient factories in existence. I might give the licence but if I did so the board might not allot any bacon. There is no use in giving a licence unless there is power to allot a quota: otherwise the powers to issue the licence would be useless.
On behalf of Senator Dowdall I move amendment No. 21:—
Section 99, sub-section (3). Before the word "and" in line 22 to insert the words and figures "and the six months ending on the 30th day of June, 1935."
The board is asked to base its allocations on the 12 months ending on the 31st December, 1934. The 12 months prior to the appointed day was the original date, but, when the Bill was published, a number of curers went out and bought pigs at any price in order to drive up the qualifying amount. We issued a statement from the Department pointing out that I intended in the Dáil to change the qualifying period to the calendar year 1934. Of course, that had the desired effect. On the whole, the year 1934 would be the fairest. The words in the amendment if added now would not do the same amount of damage, because there are only a few weeks to go. The year 1934 is the qualifying period for every purpose and there is no great reason for changing it. This only refers to the trade. It does not make any difference to the producers. It would be unfair to insert the amendment as between curer and curer, because they were working on the basis of that qualifying period and while some curers may have done more than the average during these six months some may have less.
On behalf of Senator Dowdall I move amendment No. 22:—
Section 99, sub-section (3). To add at the end of the sub-section a new paragraph as follows:—
(d) the prices realised for bacon, hams, offals and by-products during the relevant production quota period.
This amendment would throw the enormous task on the Board of finding out these figures. They have to take certain things into consideration when allocating the quota, the output of a particular factory in 1934, and the prices realised for bacon, hams, offals and by-products during the relevant production quota period. I am afraid that would be an enormous task for any Board. It would mean a sort of judicial inquiry to get all the relevant figures. They would have to get a good deal of the evidence practically on oath, as to the price realised. My objection to the amendment is that that would be an impossible task.
On behalf of Senator Dowdall I move amendment No. 23:—
Section 99, sub-section (3). To add at the end of the sub-section a new paragraph as follows:—
(d) the progress in production at each licensed premises for the three years preceding the 31st day of December, 1934.
We took the year 1934. The amendment would have the effect of giving a sort of arithmetical progression. There are factories that dealt with 400 pigs a week in 1932, 500 in 1933, and 600 in 1934. Under the amendment that factory should deal with 700 pigs a week in 1935, 800 in 1936, etc., while another factory dealing with 1,200 pigs a week in 1932, 1,100 in 1933, and 1,000 in 1934, might go down to 900 in 1935, 800 in 1936, etc. I do not think that is what the Senator meant. The amendment means that the small factories would be able to reach 1,600 pigs a week while a big factory might automatically go out of business on the arithmetical basis. In practice all that could be gained by the amendment would be a slight change from the 1934 basis. If there was slight progress upwards one factory would get a little higher, but if the progress was downwards it would go a little lower. I do not think it is worth while bringing in that principle for what would be achieved.
I move amendment No. 24:—
Section 109. To add at the end of the section a new paragraph as follows:
(c) subject to conditions approved by the Minister, sell bacon or establish a marketing organisation for the sale of bacon.
If the Minister says the Board can do this I presume there is no necessity for the amendment. But I cannot find that there is power to establish a marketing organisation. Possibly the Board may do so, and may use the people who come together to allocate the quantity. They may also discuss prices of bacon on the home or on the English market. My feeling is that that position should be regularised, and that the Board should have power to undertake advertising and marketing, as well as research work to deal with the utilisation of by-products. There is very little use in advertising as a Board or as a group unless they are going to sell as a group. There is just as keen competition between our curers in the British market as there is between creameries. I see no reason why that should be. There is the possibility of the general level of prices in the English market being lower, because one factory may have hams or sides to offer at 1/- or 2/- per cwt. less than another factory. Whatever may be said of the home market undoubtedly there should be a marketing organisation for our bacon in England. In my view that organisation should be constituted under definite regulations to be approved by the Minister. The Board should have power to establish such an organisation but the Minister should be responsible for saying "yes or no" to the regulations that will be drafted. Possibly the curers would welcome the opportunity of bringing such an organisation into existence. I cannot see how it is going to injure anyone. Possibly it would raise the general level of prices for Irish curers in the English market and incidentally the prices paid Irish farmers for their pigs.
I thought this amendment was not necessary; certainly it is not necessary for a voluntary marketing scheme. I can see Senator Baxter's point. Nineteen out of 20 might agree to come into the marketing scheme but where you have one holding out you would want some sort of legislative sanction. When these curers meet in Committee it is more than likely that they will turn to improving the market. They may try to work out some sort of a voluntary marketing scheme. I am not sure that there is any improvement to be got out of the market. If any Senator will look at the prices quoted for Irish bacon on the British market he will find that they are very good; in fact, sometimes they are better than the prices for English bacon, while they are always better than the prices for Danish or any other class of bacon. I do not think there is any undercutting, as there was alleged to be in the case of butter. Even so, there may be some room for improvement. If some sort of voluntary scheme was devised they might be able to do better than they are doing at the present time. There is nothing to prevent a voluntary scheme. I do not like to support anything else for the moment. I think it would be somewhat foolish to force any sort of scheme for a few years, even if there was one standing out, until the other clauses of this Bill had become operative. I think it is hardly likely that this Bill will operate for two years without requiring some amendment and when an amending Bill is brought in there will be an opportunity of doing this. While I am not in favour of the amendment, I cannot find any strong arguments to resist it. I would be willing to leave it to the Seanad to decide.
I cannot see any objection to this amendment. I cannot see why the Minister should not be in favour of it because it is not compulsory; it only states that the board may do so-and-so, with the approval of the Minister. If the Minister does not approve of the setting up of this marketing scheme nothing will happen. I think the Minister should accept the amendment? It does not in any way interfere with his power.
I am not sure that the amendment, as it stands, would be a workable one. I agree thoroughly with the principle of it. I think it would be a very good thing for the industry if we had had a marketing board since the year 1926. I have often mentioned that. It is of such great importance that it is no harm to mention it again. I believe that if we had a marketing board since 1926 our exports of bacon would have been greater and our quota would be four or five or perhaps ten times as much as it is now. I think the amendment would require some alteration for the reason that there are two distinct classes of bacon to be dealt with. I do not think that the curers themselves would agree to marketing the two kinds of bacon that we produce. I think this would require a joint board, representing those who produce wet-cured bacon and those who produce dry-cured. It is admitted that for the dry-cured bacon there is a high price. I think it would be a good thing if there were a marketing board to deal with the two classes. I am sure they would be able to get a great deal of business in the British market.
I think it would be very dangerous on the Report Stage of the Bill to introduce an amendment of this kind. Senator Counihan says that this cannot do any harm because it is not compulsory. From my reading of the amendment, I would say it is compulsory as against a dissentient curer. If you have agreement between the lot you can have a marketing board under the general clauses of this Bill.
The section says that the board may do all or any of the following things. That implies that the board may not do it.
The board may, but the constituents of the board may not be agreeable to what the board may do in regard to marketing. Some house in the trade may not agree.
Then the Minister would decide.
The Minister has the final word.
He has not the final word. He may approve subject to conditions, one of the conditions being that the trade is unanimous.
It might be.
If the Minister has power to impose a condition like that, then my submission to the House is that the amendment is unnecessary because if they are unanimous there is no necessity for this amendment. If they are not unanimous the thing may be compulsory as regards one curer or a section of the curers; therefore it is a compulsory piece of legislation and I think that it has not been sufficiently considered. For that reason, I do not think the amendment ought to be pressed at this stage, seeing that within 12 months probably we will have an amending measure to deal with matters of this kind.
I should like to point out, with reference to what Senator Comyn has said, that they may be permitted to do things as far as the English trade is concerned but that they may not be permitted to operate this scheme for our internal trade. We may not like the marketing organisation to squeeze the last penny out of the consumer here. This thing might be done voluntarily, when the Minister may have no control. It might be better that the scheme would have to be submitted to the Minister and considered by him.
Government amendment No. 25:—
Section 113, sub-section (4). To delete in line 40 the word "account" and to substitute therefor the word "document."
This is a drafting amendment.
I move amendment No. 26:—
Section 117, sub-section (3). To delete in line 19 the word "seven" and to substitute therefor the word "eight."
This is one of a series of amendments which have to do with the Pigs Marketing Board. I argued this on the last occasion. I do not know what weight my argument had with the Minister — whether I convinced him that what I was urging was the right thing to do. I am satisfied that it would be a better way to meet the situation. The bacon curers are very much in this Bill; they are buying pigs and they control the Bacon Marketing Board. You cannot blame the farmers when they say that they are in the hands of the curers. You meet farmers coming home from town, and you ask them how they did. They tell you what price they got and ask: "what could we do?" We know what that means, that they just have to take what they get. They think that in different circumstances the price would be better. Whatever sort of competition there may have been in the past between curers and buyers, this Bill is going to go all the way towards eliminating that competition. I am satisfied that the producers of pigs will be just as dissatisfied in the future as they have been and as they now are; they will feel that the dice are loaded against them in the constitution of the Pigs Marketing Board. I think, in the first place, that such an argument ought not to be left to them. There ought to be no justification for them making such a case. The Minister possibly will say that the board is constituted of three and three with a Chairman, and the producer is going to get a fair crack of the whip. The farmer-producer in this country always feels that whatever others are able to accomplish he always seems to come in for the knocks. Generally, he feels that he is in the hands of the other fellow, and he finds it very difficult to hold his own. While I am not going to suggest that the curers' representatives on the Pigs Marketing Board will not be prepared to give the producer a fair crack of the whip, I believe that the curers' representatives there will argue that the price of pigs ought to be reasonably low. It may be that the line of the producers' representatives will be to fix the price as high as they can. I somehow feel, with that constitution of the board, you are going to have a rather unreasonable attitude. I think if the constitution of the board were different—if it were in accordance with what I set down in my series of amendments—it would lead to a better spirit on the whole. Now my view is that if you have a composition of four and three, the curers' representatives, realising the position of a four and three vote, would take the line that reasons would have to be produced to convince the other people that they were asking something that was unreasonable, and because the other people found that it was within their power to get decisions favourable to themselves, I think their attitude would be, not to show themselves so much as strong, but as reasonable men. I think the spirit of the board instead of being an attitude of defensive tactics, one group against another, would be one of reason and fair play. I feel that if you had a board constituted of four producers' representatives and three curers' representatives, you are going to have the four producers' representatives voting for a price, no matter what may be said by others, which, in the circumstances, is fair. I suggest that if you have a board constituted as I have outlined, you would have the attitude every time on the part of the producers' representatives, of being fair all round. I think a three and three decision is going to be practically impossible, and each side will try to compel the Chairman to give a decision favourable to itself. The Chairman's position is going to be practically impossible. He will be the friend of none. He will not be looked upon as fair by either side, and the people of the country, who are interested, will not consider that they have got a fair crack of the whip. I think if the producers felt that the board, because of its members, was tilted slightly in their favour, and that if things were going slightly against them that they would get fair play, it would be a great advantage. They would feel that a decision arrived at was taken because of the facts, and people would feel convinced that everything was done that could possibly be done.
I think the Minister ought to accept these amendments. If this particular amendment was accepted I think it would create a sense of justice and confidence in the board on the part of pig producers in the country.
I support this amendment, but I would prefer if the Minister would accept an amendment of mine later on which would provide that a member of the Pig Buyers' Association should be added to the board. The pig buyers of the country have been treated very badly. They are a very important body as far as the pig producers and bacon curers are concerned. The Minister may say they are not interfered with. They are, because anybody who knows anything about the pig trade knows that pig buyers going to a fair have often to buy on speculation and send in their pigs to obtain the price ruling in the day. The Minister must know that many pig buyers are producers and exporters as well. For the benefit of the Pigs Marketing Board, I think it would be as well to have representatives of the Pig Buyers' Association on that board. If the Minister would accept that form of amendment, he could then nominate a member of the Pig Buyers' Association upon the board.
Are we in order in discussing Senator Counihan's amendment?
That amendment is not before us.
I tried to impress upon the House on another occasion that the pig dealers themselves do not want representation on this Board. I think that Senator Baxter has no great case for this amendment. If you have three producers arguing they are as good as if you had four producers, because if any of the six on the Board dissents, the chairman has to decide. It does not matter whether the Board consists of three and three or three and four. There was fair agreement in getting together the sections of this Board. I think it would be going back on the various interests if I were to accept this amendment. I therefore have to oppose it as strongly as possible. As I explained in the Dáil, three producers should be able to make as good a case as four. If the producers and the curers agree, then the chairman does not come into it at all. If they agree, I say again three producers would be as good as four and I do not know what advantage would be gained by having four instead of three. There may be something in the psychological effect that would follow from having four producers instead of three. But I do not think there is much in that. The Board will not be long in existence before it will be learned that when a good case is made in the producers' favour that is all that is necessary. No useful purpose would be served by this amendment.
It seems to me Senator Baxter has made a very good case for this amendment. It strikes me in addition that practically every class engaged in this industry is protected except the producer. We have passed amendments protecting the workers in their conditions of work and wages. We are giving this Board full powers over the allocation of pigs and the marketing of pigs and over the grading of bacon in the factories.
I understand it was so; but, of course, I agree if the Minister corrects me. There are other clauses protecting the interests of certain classes interested in this industry and surely it is not too much to ask that the producers should be represented by having four of their members on the Board. I have no objection to Senator Counihan putting in an amendment with regard to the pig buyers. I think it is quite fair that on this Board the producers should have a little extra influence. The producers must have a big interest in the efficiency of the Pigs Marketing Board, because it is their raw material that will be marketed, especially that of the small producers. We have 6,000 shareholders in our society with an average of 10 shares each. I think it is not asking too much that this amendment should pass.
I understand from the Minister that he has discussed this matter with the interests concerned and he has indicated that there was general agreement. I do not want to press a point that would create a difficult situation for the Minister and, on the understanding that there has been general agreement I would ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Is it quite certain that the chairman can decide provided there is no unanimity?
He has very special powers, certainly in regard to fixing prices. If there is not unanimity he fixes the price. There must be unanimity.
Where is that provided in the Bill?
Section 134. I think if the Senator will read that he will find it very clearly set out there. The cases in which the chairman decides are:
the making of a price order, a freight allowance order, a buying allowance order, or an order amending a price order, a freight allowance order or a buying allowance order.
In all these cases, unless there is unanimity the chairman decides, so that everything in regard to the cost of pigs is decided by the chairman unless there is unanimity.
I move amendment No. 35:—
Section 127, sub-section (2). To delete in line 31 the words "and committees of agriculture" and to substitute therefor the words "consisting of persons whose names are entered on a register of pig producers established by the Minister."
The Minister either intends this section to be operative or he does not. I take it that at some time or another he intends that it should be operative. The section reads:—
The Minister may by order ... direct that there shall be formed in the election year specified in such order and each subsequent election year a panel of the specified number of persons eligible for nomination by the Minister as producer members, that the persons whose names are to be entered in such panel shall be nominated by approved associations and committees of agriculture. ...
I want to delete "committees of agriculture" and substitute "consisting of persons whose names are entered on a register of pig producers established by the Minister." My idea is that this panel shall be formed by a vote of members of approved associations, composed of individuals on a register of pig producers. My view is that the words "and committees of agriculture" have no meaning really. I think, further, it would be unwise to ask Committees of Agriculture to make suggestions with regard to this panel. The House will note that I am not here asking that this register of pig producers should be used for the purpose of electing to the Pigs Marketing Board representatives of the pig producers. What I seek is that a register of pig producers should be compiled from which associations would be formed, and that these people would vote for persons whose names would go on the panel, from which panel the Minister would select three persons to go on the Pigs Marketing Board. Any thought I have been able to give the matter— and I thought a certain amount about it and have studied the debate in the other House—convinces me that this is the best way to try to get the producers directly represented on the Pigs Marketing Board.
Three persons are to be put on the Board as representing the producers. The present position is that these people will be nominated direct by the Minister. As far as I know the country, I think it would be very difficult for the Minister at present to find anybody who would nominate them for him. I do not see what group of people he could ask to nominate a panel from which a selection might be made, and I think such a method of selection would be very inadequate in present circumstances. You would possibly get a group of people who would be supposed nominally to represent producers but who in fact did not represent the producers. My view is that unless the producers are fully and fairly represented, and unless selections like these are fairly made, it would be better not to pretend that the producers are being represented at all. It would be better for the Minister to take the responsibility on himself.
My amendment would mean that the Minister would have compiled a register of pig producers, and from a selection made by the people on that register would be drawn the persons who are to go on the Pigs Marketing Board. Apart altogether from the desirability of compiling a register for this purpose, it would be advisable, I think, that this register should be compiled for other purposes. The register might be useful in other ways. There was an amendment moved and withdrawn by Senator The McGillycuddy on the Committee Stage which sought to do certain things with regard to the limitation of pig production. There is a possibility that that step might be necessary yet. I put it to the Minister that if such a step had to be taken it would have to be taken because there were attractions about pig production and because, in fact, people had gone into pig production who had not been in it before. The old producers were going out, and perhaps were being driven out by the newcomers. I think it would be a very good thing to have a register of pig producers immediately compiled in this country to meet a situation of that kind. You would then see who the real producers were and where they were located. You would have a full and complete geographical survey of pig production in the country. It would, I believe, give our people a much more intelligent interest in pig productivity than the kind of haphazard interest they have had up to the present.
The Minister may argue—I do not know whether he will or not, but he suggested it in the other House—that it was not his obligation to organise these people. I think it would be possible to compile such a register on the present voters' register. You could easily have a letter after the name of a voter indicating whether he was entitled to vote in a certain specific election or not. It is not impossible to do that, and I think the time to do it is now, when you are not going to use it immediately, and when the people are in a calmer state than they would be if they thought you were going completely to transform the whole situation in the country from the point of view of pig production or of doing something very new. Certainly by the compilation of such a register you will have a record of the people who have a right to say who should represent them on the Pigs Marketing Board. There is no other means by which you can get these people to express their view in the way you want them to express it.
I considered whether I should attempt to delete that part of the section dealing with the panel and whether it was possible to elect direct to the Pigs Marketing Board and I came to the conclusion that possibly the better method was to elect a number of people to go on the panel and that from that panel of eight or nine, the choice should be made. I think you can start all sorts of activity, even political activity, around an election like that if you start it at a particular time. I think the time to start to compile the register is now. You can do it quietly without creating any disturbance by outside considerations. You could do it through the Gárda when they are taking their census. They can do it when they are making out their returns. They know every individual who is a pig producer, and they have nothing to do but to sit down and compile a list of such people. Then when you want your register later you have got it. Other people, if you desire to prevent it, cannot rush into the industry in that sort of fever that can be worked up around movements of this kind. From every point of view, it is desirable to see how many people are in pig production at the present moment. If later, steps have to be taken to limit pig production, the Minister would have at hand an instrument which he could use. He could operate it just as the Minister for Finance, for the purposes of the Budget, can impose restrictions to prevent certain people rushing into a certain line of business or getting in certain imports. Just as the beet growers were cut down in their acreage, the Minister for Agriculture may reach a point when certain people, and certain people only in particular zones, will be permitted to continue in pig production. If that were necessary he would have this register. I would prefer that we should not reach that point; that we should have a market which would make such a step unnecessary, but if we ever did reach such a point this register would be of incalculable benefit. The Minister could have it prepared quietly and unostentatiously now and it would be there when he wanted it.
I strongly support the amendment moved by Senator Baxter. Of all bodies, I think the most objectionable through which to get representation for pig producers are the committees of agriculture. I would very much prefer to leave the selection of members of the board entirely to the Minister without any recommendation from the committees of agriculture. As Senator Baxter has pointed out, it would be very easy to organise a strong canvass of the committees of agriculture and to get them to nominate persons as members of the Pigs Marketing Board who would have no connection whatever with pig production and who would be most objectionable from the pig producers' point of view. For that reason the Minister should delete the words referring to committees of agriculture and should set up, as Senator Baxter suggests, some organisation of pig producers. When the time comes when that organisation could function, the members would have responsibility for nominating members for the Pigs Marketing Board or nominating panels from which the Minister could select members.
I do not think that Senator Baxter is achieving very much by this amendment because in sub-section (2) it is laid down that if approved associations, that is associations approved by the Minister, are in existence, they will elect the members. Sub-section (2) was put in because it was feared there might not be an approved association that would represent the whole country and then the words were added "or committees of agriculture"—not "and committees of agriculture" as given in the Bill. I am not very keen on this section at all. It was forced on me more or less in the Dáil, but I think Senator Baxter's amendment does not alter the situation to any great extent. Senator Baxter's amendment merely aims at deleting the words "and committees of agriculture," but the section would still have the same effect as the members would still be nominated by an approved association. An approved association is defined lower down in the section as "an association of pig producers in Saorstát Eireann for the time being approved by the Minister." The only difference is that Senator Baxter wants it established by the Minister whereas the section says it shall be approved by the Minister. I do not think any Minister should be asked to establish an organisation of that kind. That is surely not his job. We have trade unions established by Labour leaders and surely the farmers' leaders should be able to establish an organisation of pig producers. In fact it would be wrong for the Minister to interfere at all by setting up an organisation of that kind. I do not believe it would be very difficult at all to get a pig producers' organisation if there was a group to organise it because every factory keeps a register, a list of those who deliver pigs. If you got that list from the factories you would have a register of all pig producers.
I do not think that there can be any great fraud about who is a pig producer and who is not. I do not think anything would be gained by the acceptance of the amendment unless the Senator's point is that the Minister should establish the organisations rather than that the Minister should approve of them, as the section says. That is the only difference there is. Senator Counihan said that he would prefer direct nomination by the Minister rather than selection from a panel submitted by the county committees of agriculture. I would not like to go that far. Even if we leave the section out, the Minister can still adopt that system. If I were to nominate producer-members now, even if this section were out of the Bill altogether, I could, of course, as Senators know, write to all the county committees and ask them to submit two or three names each. Out of that panel I could select members representing the producers. So far as the Minister is concerned, the putting in or taking out of those words in the Bill is not going to make the slightest difference.
I am still of opinion that there is much more in this amendment than the Minister has stated. I still hold to the view that it is highly desirable that a register should be compiled. That does not mean that the Minister should form associations. Let the producers do that for themselves; but if a register were compiled the Minister could have it for his own purposes at the appropriate time.
Am I to take it that Senator Baxter prefers that the Minister should nominate rather than that the members should be elected as they can be under sub-section (1)?
I prefer sub-section (2). Otherwise, I am afraid you will have all sorts of campaigning, and that you will not get the right men.
If I am in order, I move that the amendment be accepted with the deletion of the words "committees of agriculture."
I think there is much to be said for Senator Counihan's suggested amendment—that the amendment would be more perfectly drafted with the omission of the words he mentions. I do not know if that would meet Senator Baxter's view.
I want to have the register compiled.
I ask the permission of the House to have my suggested amendment put now.
The amendment has been declared lost, and, therefore, no amendment to it can be moved. We will now take Government amendment No. 36:—
Section 127, sub-section (5). To delete in line 49 the figures and words "1938, the year 1940" and to substitute therefor the figures and words "1939, the year 1942, the year 1945."
I ask leave of the House to take amendments Nos. 37 and 38 together:—
Section 140, sub-section (5). To delete paragraph (e).
Section 140, sub-section (6). To insert before the sub-section a new sub-section as follows:—
(6) No price order shall fix for the highest grade of pigs a price lower than the cost of production of such pigs as shown by costing accounts kept in connection with farms owned by the Department of Agriculture.
These two amendments deal with the one matter. The idea in both is that the price fixed for the higher grade pigs should not be lower than the cost of production as determined by the accounts kept in the Department's own farms at Ballyhaise, Clonakilty and Glasnevin. The Pigs Marketing Board, which will fix the price of pigs, is to be composed of farmer-producers and of curers. The farmer-producer is undoubtedly concerned with the cost of production. The curer is probably only concerned with it in so far as it is liable to raise the price of the pig to him. He may not be producing pigs at all himself. When the price for pigs is being fixed, it ought to be brought home to the curer, as well as it is to the producer, that the producer is at least entitled to the cost of production. Possibly, Labour members of the House may ask why the producer should be so modest as to ask for the cost of production only, and that for the highest grade of pig. The Minister for Industry and Commerce is in the House at the moment. I do not want to bring him into this debate.
But I have before me his point of view on the cost of production with regard to the growing of cereals and other agricultural products. He is reported to have said that there is no good in growing beet, or any other crop, unless the producers can be guaranteed a price that will leave them the cost of production— leave them a profit. I think the Minister was quite right in saying that. There is no use in growing any crop unless you can guarantee to the producer a price above the cost of production. We have to get our minds clear on this—as to whether tillage and the growing of cereals is more important than the production of pigs. Pigs come off the farm as a finished product. The production of cereals is of no value unless they are fed to animals which can find a market. These cereals will only be produced so long as the growing of them covers the cost of production.
The Minister for Industry and Commerce, in his speech, was obviously dealing with beet and with other crops. I am sure he was also thinking of oats and barley. The Minister for Agriculture was responsible for introducing and passing through the Oireachtas legislation, the effect of which has been to raise the cost of pig production. That is beyond question. He has raised the cost of pig production to what has now come to be a real danger point. The legislation that we pass here can only be said to be fruitful when it brings benefit to the people. This measure can only be said to be a fruitful one when we are able to see good results coming from it at our fairs and markets through the country.
The pig population of the country is not increasing. It may be said that it has increased to a trifling extent. No one, I think, will deny that there is great depression in the agricultural industry. The present position is certainly very bad, but I suggest that things would be much worse if it were not for the extent to which our people have gone in for pig production, and have kept in that branch of agricultural productivity in recent years. Taking the figures for last year and the previous year, our pig population has only increased by 4.1 per cent., while in the Six Counties the increase for the corresponding period has been 40.6, or ten times more than it has been in the Saorstát. The Minister and all of us know the reason for that. Bacon prices in the Six Counties range to-day from 62/- to 65/- per cwt., while the price in Cavan town yesterday was only 48/-. But there is a further very great disadvantage, and it is this—this is what we do in my county and I suppose those are the conditions of which one can speak best: We go in and buy our 2 cwt. bag of meal. The price of meal is 14/6 at present. The pig feeder in the Six Counties will buy his bag of meal for 10/- or 10/6. There was a fair in Cavan yesterday in which there were not less than 2,000 young pigs. Half of that number went home unsold. That is quite a change. A fortnight ago, I was standing beside some carts of pigs in the same town. I saw three pigs, about 11 weeks old, bought at £3 10/-. I should think that they weighed about 2 stone each. Let the Minister make the calculation that the farmer would have to make in dealing with this type of problem. It is calculated that 4 lbs. of feeding stuffs will give approximately 1 lb. of meat. That means 4 cwt. of grain for 1 cwt. of pork. With us, 4 cwt. of grain would cost £1 9/- at present. One of the pigs would cost £1 3/4. Therefore, to the man who bought these three pigs the initial cost was £2 12/4. For that outlay, without putting anything against his skim milk or his leavings of potatoes, if there are any, his cwt. of bacon at 48/-, plus his initial 2 stone, will give him £3 when the pig is sold. The cost to him at present is £2 12/4, and that is putting nothing on skim milk, potatoes or labour. There is nothing in that sort of pig productivity.
I met a man in one of these hundreds of carts which went home from our fair with pigs unsold. He had six pigs in the cart, and I asked him why he did not sell. He said: "I could not sell; I was not asked what brought me to the fair." I asked him how many bags of meal he had bought for the pigs already. He said he had bought three. That is to say, he had spent 43/- on them. I do not think he could get anything like 15/- each for the pigs yesterday. At 15/- each, he would get £4 10/-, while, on meal alone, he spent £2 3/-. That is the problem with which our people are faced. The initial producer has to buy meal at the inflated price to which legislation has raised it. If that is passed on to the man who is going to finish, he will be up against the same problem. He has to buy these cereals which the Minister for Industry and Commerce believes will not be produced unless the producer is guaranteed the cost of production, plus a profit. What about the thousands of small farmers engaged in pig rearing? In my county, 13,000 out of 19,000 holdings are of £10 valuation and under. These are the people who have to buy this raw material at this guaranteed price and when they bring their products into the market there is no guarantee that their cost of production will be covered. If the State is going to legislate so that the producer of grain and cereals in the good tillage land is to have his cost of production covered, plus a margin of profit, I do not think it ought to be at the expense of the type of men for whom I speak. These are the people who are going to increase the pig population. Unless we are able to bring to the notice of a wider circle of people than those who are doing this kind of work, unless we are able to bring to the notice of Senators, engaged not in agriculture, but in other walks of life, to the notice of the Bacon Marketing Board, and to the notice of the bacon curers who are not engaged in pig production and sometimes do not concern themselves to any great extent with the costs in that branch of the industry—unless our people can bring to the notice of the parties I have mentioned the factors in the cost of the finished article, justice will not be done to them. It is not too much to expect that the pig producer here would get what, apparently, every other producer, with the exception of himself and the cattle producer, is getting. In the case of the industrialist, it does not matter what the type of industry—it may be the pettiest factory in the State employing a dozen people—the factory cannot be set going until the owner is guaranteed the cost of production and a profit. His capital must be assured and trade union rates of wages must be assured to the workers before a stone is laid upon a stone. If all that is essential to the encouragement and development of industries employing a few thousand people, at most, why are the pig producers, who employ thousands and thousands and who provide the raw material for the bacon factories, employing a couple of thousand people at least, put in a position in which they are expected to continue in production when the cost of production is not covered, and cannot be covered because of legislation which the Minister for Agriculture deems wise and necessary in the interests of another section of farmers? If the Minister gives guarantees, through legislation, to certain farmers, I hold he has no right to withhold these guarantees from others. If he gives a guarantee to the producers of cereals, the consequences are inevitable. We saw them in our fair yesterday and we shall see them elsewhere. We see them reflected in the statistical return, which shows that the farmer across the Border has been going into pigs by the thousand while we are only increasing production by tens. In justice to our pig producers, I think the Seanad ought to accept my amendment as a just and equitable proposal. If the cost of production to farmers engaged in the rearing of pigs must be increased, then those farmers, who are so essential to the growers of cereals, should not be left unprotected, as they are at the moment.
I strongly support this amendment and I believe it is the most important amendment we have had to-day. Senator Baxter has given the figures and has left very little for anybody else to urge in support of the amendment. He stated the realities of the situation clearly and accurately. I can endorse practically every word he said. I can scarcely agree that legislation has benefited the tillage farmers to any tangible extent. It has injured every other class, with small and poor results to the tillage farmers. Some hand-to-mouth farmers are trying to grab a few shillings by growing wheat, but the whole wheat scheme is a fraud and is doing infinite injury to the land of the country.
Is not the Senator getting away from the amendment?
I disagree. What I say has a very strong bearing on the amendment. Pollard—the by-product of the milled wheat—is at the moment at a prohibitive price. In my part of the country, white pollard is 7/3 a bag and, when a pig feeder has to face that, you can realise his position. Evidently, white pollard is dearer in my part of the country than it is in Senator Baxter's part of the country. I read the report of a meeting of millers a couple of weeks ago at which one miller said that offals had accumulated to such an extent that he was offering them at £4 a ton. I rubbed my eyes when I saw that and I should like to have some explanation of it. I shall not go into the question of the growing of wheat further. I regard this as a vital amendment because it goes to the root of the problem. People must go out of the feeding of pigs, as they are doing at the moment, if there is not some guarantee that feeding stuffs will be sold at a price which will enable them to derive a profit.
Senator Baxter knows quite well that the principle of the Bill does not permit of this amendment. I have explained that already in the other House and in this House. The principle we are trying to establish is to get the best possible price for pigs, and to do away with the variation in price as between factory and factory and from day to day, under the ordinary economic law of supply and demand. Any Senator ought to see that, if this amendment is carried, there will have to be some sort of control of production. I do not think it can be established, as Senator Baxter argued, that, as a result of our cereals legislation, the cost has gone up to any great extent. The position, before we brought in that legislation, was that offals were imported at Liverpool price, plus freight. For some months, they have been below the Liverpool price. It is quite true that millers have been looking for permits to export offals but they have not got them. The result is that certain offals have gone down in price.
Where are they sold?
Any farmer who uses white pollard where brown pollard can be got a couple of shillings per cwt. less, does not know much about farming.
Not at a couple of shillings per cwt. less.
We must remember that we have certain markets for pigs at home, a certain quota in Great Britain, as well as small markets outside, and that we cannot produce more pigs than will fill these markets. If we produce more what is to become of them? Supposing farmers go on producing pigs when we fill our own market requirements, the foreign market, and whatever other markets we get, and if there are pigs over and above the numbers required, what can we do? We cannot guarantee prices. If prices go down, and consumers get the benefit, then the ordinary law of supply and demand will operate. If you want the other principle, to which I am not very much opposed, it is to limit production, so that we can lay down a definite limit and only have so many thousands of pigs produced for which we know we have a market. Then we could have a fixed price. But that is another way of tackling the problem.
As to Senator Baxter's remark, "look at what has been done for manufacturers," I ask "what have we done for manufacturers that we have not done for pig producers?" If a manufacturer wants to come here do we say, "you can come and supply not only the home market but the whole world and we will guarantee you a certain price?" We have never done that. We told manufacturers that we would put tariffs against foreign goods, but if they exceeded the demands of the home market there was no further protection. We have done the same for pig producers. We put a prohibitive tariff on bacon, a higher ad valorem tariff than in the case of any class of manufactured goods. At the price of the bacon that was coming in, the tariff put on must have amounted to 200 per cent. ad valorem. We did not do that for manufacturers. We preserved the home market for our own bacon, the same as we did for manufacturers. There is no use in the Senator saying that we did more for manufacturers than we did for producers of agricultural products. There is a different situation here. This amendment would be impossible in this Bill. I appealed to the Seanad on a previous stage to give this Bill a trial. Senator Baxter mentioned that 62/- was paid for pigs in Northern Ireland, and 48/- in Cavan. That position will be made right under the Bill. I do not think it is fair to have such a comparison, because the 62/- in Northern Ireland is subject to a reduction of a couple of shillings. The 48/- in Cavan is comparable to 55/- in the South of Ireland. If they can pay 55/- in the South, they will be compelled to pay it in other places because the price will go to 55/- automatically. According to the report of the Tribunal curers are not paying as much as they should. We expect the price will be a few shillings more, possibly 57/- or 58/-, when the Bill is in operation. That is as much as this Bill can do.
If the number of pigs increases beyond the number that can be dealt with at home, and on the foreign market, what can anyone suggest except a fall in prices, in order to try to have a greater consumption of bacon? A fall in prices usually results in decreased production. Then when bacon gets scarce prices go up again. That is the principle we are following. If the amendment were carried it would be equivalent to a rejection of the Bill. I do not want any Senator to say that I am against giving farmers the cost of production. I am not. If the Seanad wishes to pass the amendment, and to reject this Bill, I will have a try at the other system, that of cutting down the number of pigs. I am afraid that will meet with just as much opposition. If we have to go and tell individual farmers that they are keeping too many pigs, and will have to cut down the number by one-third, or that it would a penal offence to keep more pigs, Senators can realise the enormous administrative difficulties of carrying out such a scheme. Apart from that, it would be a hardship on certain farmers to have to cut down the numbers.
I should like the Minister to deal with the figures. Is there any relationship between the cost of production and feeding costs? Is not that a considerable factor in keeping the pig population so low?
In spite of that the number of pigs is going up rapidly.
These amendments deal with the same question. As the section stands the board is more or less tied to giving no greater bounty than the difference between the appointed and the hypothetical price. It is conceivable, with prices changing rapidly on the British market and curers sending bacon there, it might not be possible for the board to change the hypothetical price from day to day. The easiest way to manage is to make it up afterwards by exceeding at times the difference between the two prices. I do not think it will be necessary to do that often. It may be well to give that power. That is all that is involved in the amendments.
On behalf of Senator Dowdall, I move Amendment No. 44:—
New section. After Section 154 to insert a new section as follows:—
155.—This Act shall continue in force for six years after the passing thereof, and shall then expire.
Senator Dowdall thinks this Bill is not by any means a good one. Generally speaking, the Senator believes that the Bill is bad in toto. One reason he gives is that it discourages initiative. He also feels that the quality will not be up to what we would like it to be, because once people have got a quota they will be indifferent regarding the quality. These are the Senator's views, not mine.
This is essentially a permanent Bill. We are going to set up registration of factories, and we may have to compel the owners to reconstruct their premises or to make structural alterations at big expense. In going to the expense of structural alterations there will have to be a certain amount of security in the trade. Then we come to the point of inspection, grading and so on. We have to appoint a veterinary staff of specially trained men. We cannot appoint these men unless they are permanent. Are we to have 20 or 30 veterinary officers on hands in six years? If so I do not know what will be done with them. They are going to be on a permanent basis. It is hard to see how we could do otherwise. Senators will agree that these Pigs and Bacon Boards will be permanent. I am prepared to admit that there will be an amending Bill brought in, in two or three years. It is almost certain from our experience that there will be something wrong in the working of this Bill and that an amending one will be necessary. I do not remember any Bill within the past ten years that did not need an amending Bill. It would be a wrong principle to let the Bill lapse in six years. Our inquiries go to show that the basis of Bills such as this is that they are to be permanent.