As a result of the working of the Fresh Meat Act during the last four or five years it is felt that there is at least a strong administrative reason for bringing in some amendments. They are very simple amendments and they do not involve any principle. The simplest way will be to take each section of the Bill. Section 2 permits the examination of animals under the Fresh Meat Act without the payment of a fee. It is felt that in some cases this will be necessary, for instance, where a firm might be exporting only one particular organ of an animal and where it would not pay them to meet the fee for inspection. There was such a case last year. In one particular factory—it would not be desirable to mention the name—only the livers of the animals were exported and the fee for examination was more than 50 per cent. of the value of that particular organ and, therefore, it proved a nonremunerative business and it was discontinued. When the Bacon Act is in operation we will have veterinary surgeons examining the animals in any case and the Exchequer will not lose anything under this particular section. I do not think the section will be availed of to any great extent.
Section 3 removes an anomaly. Under the main Act premises were registered and the proprietor licensed. It has happened on a few occasions that the registration was withdrawn for some reason or other, but the licence still remained with the proprietor and the licensee was bound to pay a certain minimum fee each half-year. In two cases it was more or less due to an oversight, but we had to insist on the fee being paid although the man had actually gone out of business. Under this amending section, if the registration is removed the licence goes with it. Section 4 deals with the superannuation of officers. It was felt that officers acting under a local authority who give part of their time acting under the Minister for Agriculture in the administration of the Fresh Meat Act might thereby endanger their status with regard to superannuation. There is a similar section to this in the Pigs and Bacon Act. This is to make sure that these officers do not miss their superannuation rights if they happen to work from time to time for the Minister for Agriculture as well as for the local authority.
Section 5 refers to minor amendments in the Schedule and Sections 6 and 7 are merely formal sections. In the Schedule the various amendments look rather formidable, but I think we can dispose of them without very much trouble. The amendments to Sections 35 and 36 change the present definition of meat which is fit for human consumption. At the present time it is defined as free from disease. That is not altogether satisfactory because it sometimes happens that the veterinary surgeon may wish to condemn a quarter of a beast because of injury, perhaps an ante-mortem injury, and he cannot do so if the quarter is free from disease. We are changing the definition in order to meet such a case. Under the amendment to Section 36 he will be enabled to condemn meat because of malformation or not being properly developed, and so on, which he has not power to do at present.
The remaining amendments to the Schedule deal with one point and that is: that meat can be exported from any registered premises. The position is that meat must be exported from the registered premises in which the animal is slaughtered. There was a small trade started here last summer for offals to two Continental countries. It was rather difficult to develop that trade by asking each registered premises to send out direct the livers, hearts and tongues—those were the principal organs concerned—in small lots. It is felt the trade could be developed better if the offals could be collected and exported from the one place. The amendments amount to this, that fresh meat can be changed from one registered premises to another before being exported. That is the full effect of the amendments. That is all that the Bill deals with and there is nothing of any great importance.