Agricultural Produce (Eggs) (No. 2) Bill, 1938—Final Stages.

The following amendments stood on the Order Paper:—
1. In page 3, Section 2, between lines 25 and 26, to insert the following:—
"the word ‘Ireland' shall be construed as not including any area which is, for the time being, not within the area and extent of application of the laws enacted by the Oireachtas;"
2. In page 4, at the end of Section 2, to add the following words:—"The word ‘Ireland' does not mean Ireland as defined by Article 4 of the Constitution, but only that part of the national territory which is under the jurisdiction of the Oireachtas."—(Senator Douglas.)

Are we taking amendments Nos. 1 and 2 together?

I am agreeable.

I take it that the Government amendment No. 1 would cover the point raised by Senator Douglas' amendment. I may say that this is the same wording as is used in at least one other Act, that is the Finance Act, 1938.

My objection to the Minister's amendment is exactly the same objection I have to my own amendment. My object in putting it down was to draw the attention of the House and the country to the fact that the Government has introduced a Bill here which uses the word "Ireland" to refer only to the Twenty-Six Counties. I consider that this is a highly undesirable state of affairs and while it may legally be remedied either by my amendment or by that of the Minister—I am satisfied to withdraw mine in favour of the Minister's—it will not put the matter right. If the constitutional position is such that the word "Ireland" is to be used in all legislation as referring only to that part of Ireland over which the Oireachtas has control, then I suggest that, even if a constitutional Bill is necessary, the Government should remedy the position. I think it is an absurd position that in this Bill we speak of going from Ireland into Northern Ireland, which means from Ireland to Londonderry or Ireland to Belfast, and that if I go to Belfast I should, according to the Bill, say I am leaving Ireland to go to Belfast. I am only showing the absurdity of the position. I certainly consider that it was right to draw the attention of the House to it and that this House should draw the attention of the Government to it.

For the moment, this Bill has to be passed. The word "Ireland" is used and clearly it only means the area under the control of the Oireachtas at the moment. The Minister is putting in an amendment to show that that is all it does mean. But the fact remains that the word "Ireland" is used there in a manner which I say is not desirable. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

If the method proposed here by the Minister is necessary, it indicates that something more general and more definite should be done than the constant insertion in every Bill which the Oireachtas will be called upon to pass of this particular type of amendment. Surely it is not contended that in every Act we pass we will define "Ireland" in this particular way. The draftsman, with whom I have the greatest possible sympathy, drafted Section 30 in such a way as to raise the point to which this amendment of the Minister's is the answer. Section 30 says: "It shall not be lawful for any person to export eggs unless the eggs are exported... by being transported by a farmer or his servants from Ireland into Northern Ireland in the course of his business as a farmer." In other words, for a purely political reason, and as the result of a mixture of undiluted politics with the fundamental law of the State, with the Constitution, we find ourselves in a difficulty to which there is no solution except solutions which are, each one of them, objectionable. Here the proposed solution is to use Ireland in all Bills and then to define Ireland as not to mean Ireland at all. The other solution is to outrage the English language and our whole national tradition and to confuse Irish people all over the world and English speakers everywhere by saying that the word "Ireland" is to mean Twenty-Six Counties of Ireland only. Originally the word "Éire" was brought in merely, I suggest, through political spite. We had an example of it here in the endeavour to completely upset and destroy the word "Saorstát," which certain people with delicate consciences could not stand. It would be interesting for the House to know that the word "Saorstát" was originally devised as the Irish translation of the Irish Republic. "Saorstát Éireann" was a term which you could use, and you could apply it to Saorstát goods or Saorstát products. The position at present is that the draftsman cannot draft a Bill to say what it means unless he puts in, in advance, this definition. Customs men find it difficult to draw up customs regulations. You cannot call our goods Irish goods or Éire goods. When the negotiations with the British were in progress recently some people found that the genitive of Éire was Éireann and they started making an adjective of Éireann and talking of an Éireann minister. In this connection a knowledge of Irish is a drawback. You have got to define "Ireland" in this fashion or you have got to outrage the English language or the Irish language by calling these Twenty-Six Counties Ireland or "Éire". People who have the advantage, or perhaps I should say the disadvantage, of knowing Irish have to listen perpetually to a mispronunciation every day by all kinds of people of that word. One cannot use Irish or Eireannach or Gaolach, because none of these words expresses the meaning. What we are reduced to now is to outrage the Irish language by using the word "Éire". A number of English people are beginning to address correspondence here to "Éire." I have seen some letters myself addressed to the National University, Dublin, Éire. These people think it is something funny on the part of the people of this country to use this new-fangled word, calling the Twenty-Six Counties "Éire".

It was once said of the Minister for Industry and Commerce that he was waging war upon the arithmetic table and that he could not succeed. We now have a war being waged upon geography, upon the Irish language and the English language. That cannot succeed either. In Derry in the month of September this year I was asked by a British Customs officer: "Are you coming in from Ireland?" and although I am a very enthusiastic person and a very painstaking teacher I could not undertake to tell that very courteous young man about it. He did not intend it as an insult. But we have done this in the Constitution in a mixture of spleen and propaganda in an endeavour to convey that by calling something out of its name we are changing its nature. We are not able to do that. In attempting to do it we are causing immense difficulties for the Parliamentary draftsmen and for those who have to draft regulations dealing with the customs. We have made it extremely difficult even for ourselves in ordinary speech. It has made and is making Irish speech just as difficult as English speech. A newspaper here on the day that the Constitution came into operation—a paper that does not go in very much for Irish—had this line in its headings: "Ní h-í an Éire seo an Éire a bhí anallod ann" which means when translated: "This Ireland is not the Ireland that was there long ago". Indeed it is not. This amendment must be accepted now. I do think that some consideration should be given by the Government to the removing of the error that was made in changing the name of this State, because in Bills you will be constantly up against this kind of cumbersome thing. That can surely be done. The Ministers are freely and gracefully, as we heard yesterday evening, acknowledging their past errors and that being so, it would not be any harm for them to acknowledge this one and make reparation to the Irish and English languages.

I do not know if I could attempt to cross swords on constitutional matters with the two Senators who have preceded me. Certainly not in the matter of eloquence. But I do certainly think that the outrage of calling these Twenty-Six Counties "Saorstát Eireann" happened in 1922, because we had grown then to have great admiration for the Irish Republic which was then known as "Saorstát Eireann".

Mr. Hayes

It has worked in English and Irish.

It worked because a lot of the people were more ignorant of English than of the Irish language but perhaps I should say it did not work at all. As far as this amendment goes, I do not want it at all. We are all right, constitutionally, on this Bill leaving the amendment aside. Ministers may be admitting certain errors and I admit having committed an error in taking this seriously. I made a mistake in taking this seriously. I now see it was put down in order to have a talk on constitutional matters. I do not want the amendment. I am quite all right legally without it.

I think I was responsible for drawing the attention of the House to this. I did not do so in order to have any discussion on either the new or the old Constitution. But it struck me as an Ulsterman that it was absurd to be talking about Ireland or "Eire" as "Ireland," as including the Six Counties.

Legally it is all right.

Yes, but sentimentally and nationally and as an Ulsterman I must say it is all wrong.

This will not improve it.

I confess the amendment does not please me either, but on both sides of the House there are people who are pleased with it. I am not competent to interpret the particular Article of the Constitution of which this is a translation, but when we are putting into a Bill of ours terms like these demonstrating that in our view Northern Ireland is not in Ireland we are doing something that is undoubtedly wrong and I do not think this House should subscribe to that sort of thing. I think that is something at which we will have the finger of scorn pointed. In addition, other people can argue: "Look at what they are saying themselves." I cannot find a solution because I was not responsible for creating the position in which these terms have to be used. Though the Minister and Senator Hayes are not satisfied that the amendment is an improvement of the position—though I think it is some improvement—I am satisfied that it demonstrates something anyhow. It demonstrates that the term "Ireland" there does not mean Ireland. That in itself is something anyhow. It is some improvement on what is in the Bill. What is in the Bill is wrong but I do not think that we in this House ought to accept either in this or in any other Bill passing through that we are ever going to say that Northern Ireland is not part of Ireland.

I should like to assure the Minister that my amendment was not put down for political purposes, but in a perfectly genuine desire to see whether there was not a way out of the difficulty. The question of whether or not this should go in is a matter for the House to determine, but on the question of whether or not I think it should go in my mind would be helped very much in the matter if the Minister would give me an answer on a point which I wish to make. I wish to assure him that I have a perfectly genuine reason for this. Let us suppose that a firm has a contract entitling them to the sole distribution of goods in Ireland, can he say what is meant there by the term "Ireland"? In the Minister's Bill, it seems to me, a certain distinction is made, and I want to have a clear definition as to what is meant by the term "Ireland." Is it what we always knew as "Ireland" in legal documents or not? If the term "Ireland," which existed in legal and business documents for many years, has now ceased to mean the whole of Ireland, and only means a part of the country, I suggest that the Minister should not put forward his amendment.

If there is any sincerity in the present amendment or the alternative amendment, I suggest that the Government amendment meets the case. Senator Baxter suggests that we should accept the alternative amendment proposed by Senator Douglas.

No, I did not.

Leas-Chathaoirleach

That amendment is withdrawn, Senator.

It has been withdrawn? I see. Well, the fact that the Government amendment includes the words "for the time being" meets the point, I suggest.

Mr. Baxter rose.

I thought, Sir, that Senator Baxter was sitting down just when I was proceeding to rise. As a matter of fact, I thought he was getting nervous because I might be saying something against him, as he usually does against me, and as I, I must confess, usually do against him. However, as we were of the same mind on the last evening, I should like to say I disliked the phraseology here just as he did, and I still object to it. I believe that, by using the phraseology employed in the Minister's amendment there is a certain exclusion, but I also believe there is a further exclusion in the amendment proposed by Senator Douglas. I certainly think that it is ambiguous, to say the least of it, to have any enactment in which there is any reference to transporting goods from "Ireland" to "Northern Ireland." No matter how the phrase can be qualified or justified legally, I hold that it is inaccurate, in an Act of this Oireachtas, to have it inserted in that manner.

According to the Minister, it is accurate.

It may be accurate legally.

That is where we agree.

Now, however, when Senator Hayes comes along to speak of the Constitution being passed as a result of a certain amount of spleen and propaganda, I do not think he is speaking from the point of view of the Senators here, but rather from the point of view of political Party prejudice, and for the benefit of people outside. Surely, at this hour of the day and at this stage of the nation's progress, Senator Hayes should not wish to repeat statements like that in this House. If the Senator wants to remove an outrage—the outrage which is really the cause of all this thing here—let him proceed to join with the rest of us in an effort to remove Partition. Once Partition is removed Senator Hayes and his followers can take steps to see that any ambiguity that may be here in this Bill is removed, because the Constitution defines Eire as the whole country. I think that the difficulty that we are faced with is that we have an area which includes a portion over which we can legislate, and also an area over which, at the moment, we cannot legislate. Let Senator Hayes speak of removing outrages by endeavouring to remove the evil of Partition, instead of saying that the Constitution was passed for purposes of spleen and political propaganda. Surely, the Senator should have reached a stage of his education by now to have got beyond that kind of thing. Apart from that, however, I still believe—and I put it to the Minister that some change could be made in paragraph (f), so as to make it read "being transported by a farmer or his servants from the area of jurisdiction of Ireland into Northern Ireland", or some such words as these. I think that that would cover what we mean to convey here and that it would not create the ambiguity at present conveyed by using the phrase "from Ireland into Northern Ireland."

Is that the only place in the Bill in which the expression is used?

Yes, I believe so— unless there might be some ambiguity in paragraph (e), but I do not think there is anything to cause any ambiguity in that paragraph.

Mr. Hayes

Are not the Six Counties under the jurisdiction of an Irish Government? What else could you call them? I do not know any other word.

Is not the Minister's amendment withdrawn?

If you want to put two Governments in Ireland, you can have it that way.

Mr. Hayes

They are there.

The Senator can carry his spleen and propaganda that far, if he likes, but actually you have only one Irish Government in this country, and that is the Government set up by this Oireachtas.

Leas-Chathaoirleach

Is the Minister's amendment withdrawn?

It is all right to say that an amendment is withdrawn, and then leave it—

Leas-Chathaoirleach

I should like to draw the attention of the Senator to the fact that this is the Report Stage and that only one speech is allowed.

I only want to appeal to the Minister.

I do not believe there is any legal difficulty in withdrawing the amendment.

Yes. But what happens after that?

Leas-Chathaoirleach

I understand that both the Minister's amendment and amendment No. 2 are being withdrawn.

Amendments Nos. 1 and 2, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 3:—

In page 20, Section 32, sub-section (5), to delete all words in line 5 and to substitute the words:—"as soon as possible after the giving of the direction, that the direction was so given."

I think this is covering the amendment put in by Senator Baxter on the Committee Stage. It refers to a case where an inspector would take the sample of goods in transit. In the sub-section, originally, it was not made clear that the consignor should be notified with all possible speed. The words proposed in the amendment are added so that the inspector may be compelled, after giving a direction under the section to the transport company, to notify the consignor. I think that would meet Senator Baxter's point.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4:—

In page 22, Section 36, sub-section (1), to delete all words in lines 18, 19, and 20 and substitute the words:—

"Whenever the Minister is satisfied that it is necessary to do so in order to facilitate the inspection under this Act of eggs or packages of eggs, he may, by notice in writing served on a registered wholesaler, require such registered wholesaler to do both or either of the following things, that is to say:—"

This point was raised by Senator Douglas on the Committee Stage. In the Bill, power is taken to direct any exporter to export his eggs by any specified route. I explained that the object of that was to see that the eggs would go by routes on which we would have facilities for adequate inspection. Senator Douglas was anxious that the interests of the transport company concerned should be safeguarded, so that we should not have the power to safeguard any one transport company more than another. I think that this will safeguard that position and meet the Senator's point.

It looks extraordinarily like my own amendment, and I am quite satisfied with it.

That shows that the Senator is a good draftsman.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:—

In page 29, Section 52, sub-section (1), to delete clause (ii) of paragraph (b).

I mentioned this matter on the Committee Stage, and since then I have made inquiries from small purchasers of eggs—collectors throughout the country. The Minister stated that at a conference which was held with those who take part in this work, that is, itinerant collectors throughout the country—I think he said there were three of them present—they agreed that this regulation could be carried out without any trouble. As the section stands, the position is that the Minister can make an order which will require the collectors of eggs to put in a docket with each purchase. In the West of Ireland, anyhow—I am sure that the people on the other side of the House know this as well as I do, and I would ask them to support me in appealing to the Minister to delete the sub-section which I am asking him to delete—at this time of the year and during other parts of the year as well the man who is going around purchasing eggs may buy as small a number as six from one producer, ten from another, and perhaps a score from another. If this regulation is made he will be required to put a docket with the eggs purchased from each person, the object being, of course, to ascertain subsequently, if some of the eggs go bad, the actual source from which they were purchased. The object is all right, but I have it from a number of persons who take part in this business that if it is not impossible it is certainly very difficult to have such a regulation carried out.

It might also have another repercussion. If this regulation were made, a collector might say to the person who wished to sell a small quantity of eggs: "I cannot take them. You must get a larger quantity because it takes three dozen to fill a tier in a container." The producer would then have to take the eggs back and keep them for perhaps another week, with the result that they might eventually be sold in a more or less stale condition. In any case, I am assured by the persons engaged in this business that it would be most impracticable to carry out this regulation, and I would ask the Minister to accept my amendment.

I am afraid I shall have to oppose very strenuously the suggestion made by Senator Conlon. What I stated here the last day is true—that the representatives of collectors on the consultative council said that they could not see any difficulty in this. At least one of them, to my recollection, said that he had always done it. I think that the collectors who are opposing this are not too clear on what is required. They will in any case under other parts of this Bill have to use a prescribed container for collecting those eggs. Senator Conlon said that one tier would hold perhaps three dozen eggs. That may be so; I do not know. They just put the eggs on the bottom tiers in rows. They need not have one tier for each producer. The idea is that, even if one producer supplies only seven eggs, when they come to the last of those a docket is to be put in with the name of the producer. It is just a docket torn out of a small book. They then start off with the eggs supplied by the next producer, even if it is in the middle of a section, and at the end they put in a little docket with the name of that producer, and so on until they fill the container. It is not necessary to have a container for each producer; it is not even necessary to have a separate tier in the container for each producer. It does not matter in the least how many eggs any particular producer supplies. It is all the same whether it is three, or three dozen, or 20 dozen. They go ahead until they come to the last egg in his particular lot, and then put in a docket.

It is not really that we want to get back to those people to prosecute them. Prosecution, of course, is possible; it is an offence, remember, under this section, for any person to sell a bad egg. Therefore, if a producer sells a bad egg, and it is traced back to him, it is an offence, but I have no intention of prosecuting a producer who sells a few dozen eggs to a collector and has his docket put beside them. When the wholesaler examines them, and finds there is a bad egg, it is reported to the Department. There is no intention whatever of prosecuting that producer. The intention is this, that the wholesaler may be able to say to the collector: "There were so many bad eggs in the lot you sent up to me, and they are attributable to the following producers," giving the numbers sent by each producer. If there is an odd bad egg amongst a producer's supplies, probably no notice is taken of it even by the collector, but if the collector is continually getting a number of bad eggs from one producer he will take action. He will say to the producer: "Unless you give me good eggs in future I will not take any more eggs at all from you." The producer will then have to do things properly, collect his eggs every day, and get rid of them as soon as possible.

That is the whole object of this particular paragraph which Senator Conlon asks to have deleted. It is a most important provision to have there, because we cannot make the improvements we are out to make unless we can trace the eggs back, and find out who is the individual producer who is sending up the bad eggs. I do not at all believe that the collectors are going to have the trouble of which they are afraid. As I say, the collectors who were present, and heard the matter explained properly at the Consultative Council meeting, said they would have no trouble, and I think that the other collectors, when the matter is explained to them again, will probably have no objection to this regulation. I would earnestly ask the Seanad to oppose the amendment proposed by Senator Conlon, because I genuinely believe that this is one of the most important provisions in the Bill if we want to get an improvement in our egg trade.

Apparently I am not going to get any support in the House with regard to this amendment. I can assure the Minister that the amendment was not designed for the purpose of saving the producer who might become liable to prosecution for having sold stale eggs due to the fact——

I think the Senator need not be afraid of that.

I think that some of those collectors, anyhow, believe it would be very difficult for them to carry out the regulation. I would appeal to the Minister to make further inquiries from some of those collectors, if he can get in touch with them through his inspectors in the West of Ireland, as to whether it is practicable to carry it out. Meantime, with the consent of the House, I will withdraw the amendment, as there seems to be no support for it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

Beginning literallyab ovo, this discussion has ranged over a wide territory, and even brought us into consideration of matters of high constitutional import. My contribution to the debate will concern itself with homelier aspects of the questions involved. The Bill in its Title purports to make further and better provision for the sale and export of eggs.

It necessarily has, also, for its aim an effort to recapture our place in the sun of egg marketing by the increased production of bigger and better eggs under hygienic conditions. This is part of the plan in which the Minister will need the co-operation of the women of the countryside, a fact which justifies my intervention in this debate. It occurred to me at one period that if the Minister could be got to accept an amendment making it compulsory on the man of the house to turn over all profits from egg-raising to thebean a' tighe that co-operation would be assured. I was prevented from moving such an amendment by my fear of rousing the opposition of that strong champion of individual liberty, Senator Sir John Keane. Fortunately it has been rendered unnecessary by the fact that through a custom which is well-nigh universal, the egg money is, in most farming households, the bean a' tighe's perquisite, her pin money. At least such was the case in my youth. In the old house where it was spent, I remember many anxious looks being directed to, and many anxious calculations centering around, the egg money-box when the sitting-room carpet had ceased to resemble even remotely a carpet, and there was the question of mater familias endeavouring to replace it at some local auction. I believe that salutary custom, which is most conducive to domestic harmony, still prevails, and that egg production in the ordinary farmhouse comes under the direct management of the women of the house. There would not be that matrimonial happiness, which is almost universal in this country, if it were otherwise. For that reason, it seems to me desirable that the Minister should make a special attempt to interest women in this particular piece of legislation.

I was greatly edified by what Senator Counihan said in his admirable speech on the Second Reading stage. He suggested that poultry instructresses should try to get in touch, not only with the bigger producers, where the best modern methods are already in use, or easy of introduction, but with the ordinary farmhouses, where egg production has hitherto been carried on in a rather casual and haphazard way. I entirely agree with that proposal. I also suggest that in those happy parishes where the Minister has one of his excellent schools of rural domestic economy, he should try to have the women of the parish, and of the neighbouring countryside, invited to a discussion with the instructress on the best methods of egg production, and of getting loans for poultry houses. I suppose it would be Utopian at this stage of our development to suggest that there might be in these schools, perhaps during holiday time, occasional rural week-ends for farmers' wives and daughters, in imitation of that admirable experiment which has been so successful and so stimulating for the menfolk. It is a great pity that women cannot be got together in these schools to discuss their problems with the instructresses. The Minister might, at an appropriate date, call the poultry instructresses into conference, the main object of which would be to get the women of the countryside interested in the effort to get bigger and better egg production. The industry is admirably suited for small holdings and could be made a great asset in the national Budget.

I consider that what is needed is a larger output of eggs. Unfortunately eggs of different sizes are being produced by different breeds of poultry. The great drawback to the industry is in procuring proper breeds. There are not enough poultry stations, and the price charged for sittings of eggs from pure breeds is higher than it should be. I believe the charge should not be more than 50 per cent. over the current market price. In that way people would be encouraged to get more sittings from pure-breeds of poultry. While that matter cannot be dealt with under this Bill, I hope the Minister will introduce a Poultry Bill later. Male birds that are not purebred should be got rid of, and the only way to do that is to have stocks of these birds at poultry stations. Reference has been made to stale eggs and the danger that, if sold, prosecutions might ensue. I believe that inferior or mixed breeds of fowl are to blame for stale eggs. Eggs from pure breeds are able to remain fresh longer than those produced from mixed breeds. The Bill will give very little assistance until we have proper breeds of fowl and suitable eggs for export.

A point arose on the Second Reading, when I contended that the increase in the cost of feed was the main factor in causing a diminution in the poultry population. In his reply the Minister stated that the poultry population began to diminish in 1929 or 1930, and, not being a walking dictionary of statistics, I accepted the statement. Since then I have had an opportunity of looking up the facts, and I find that the poultry population of Eire in 1929 was 22.1 millions; in 1930, 22.9; in 1931, 22.8; in 1932, 22.5; in 1933, 22.5; and after that year there was a drop of 2,000,000 registered. In 1934 the figures were 20.0 millions; in 1935, 19.5, and in 1936, 20.3 millions. In other words the poultry population reached maximum in 1930, and remained practically at that maximum level until 1933, when it dropped. I submit that the cause of that drop was the Minister's policy in artificially increasing the price of feed. To bring the point out more clearly, I have the figures of the poultry population in Northern Ireland, where feeders were not handicapped, but were able to get the advantage of the cheap Indian meal and the other feeding-stuffs that existed in 1933. The poultry population there in 1926 was 7.9 millions, and it rose to 10.15 in 1933; 10.3 in 1934, then fell to 10.1 in 1935, and in 1936 reached the maximum level of 10.6 millions. That year our poultry population was below the level it had reached some years ago. My contention is that the figures bear out my statement, that the main factor in reducing the poultry population was the policy of having the cost of feed artificially dear. If the Minister denies that, he must admit that the main object of the policy of the maize mixture scheme was to increase artificially the price of corn and oats for growers of these crops. If his policy succeeded in making barley and oats dearer for the people who grow them, it must have succeeded in making barley and oats dearer for the people who had to use them as a raw material for poultry and other forms of animal production. You cannot have it both ways.

I had not the good fortune to hear the remarks of Senator Mrs. Concannon, but I heard that she mentioned my name and that it provoked merriment in certain quarters. That being so, I am tempted to read two extracts from a letter which I received since the Second Stage of this measure came up for consideration. It is from a practical lady in the country who keeps poultry and who knows what she is talking about. I shall read two short extracts bearing upon the question of the price of foodstuffs. This lady says: "I have asked many cottage women what they have done with all the hens they used to have and, without one exception, the answer has been: "We cannot afford the price of meal." She goes on: "What is the use of officials flying all over the country in grand motor cars—a sheer waste of money. How much better to halve or quarter the officials (I do not mean their bodies!) and use the money saved on their salaries by reducing the cost of feeding?"

I should like to ask the Senator if the lady keeps poultry or if she merely meant that she saw some report of a speech in the paper about asking the cottage women what they thought?

I can answer the Senator with another extract from the end of the letter: "I am getting a splendid return from my poultry, but the prices received for them and given for foodstuffs do not make it a paying proposition, year in, year out."

I do not know whether the lady referred to by Senator Sir John Keane keeps accurate costings. It is very hard to keep such figures in the case of poultry. I think the only true guide in these things is whether they are on the increase or whether there is a decrease. I mentioned figures to which Senator Johnston referred, which showed that the biggest reduction in our exports was from 1929 to 1931. We went down by a 1,000,000 in those two years. Since 1931 we have not gone down at that rate, because if we did we would not have anything at all. The reason that time, I take it, was that people thought that poultry or egg production was not paying. This year our exports are going up and the explanation probably is that producers think eggs are paying. For the first year since 1929 our exports and our production generally are going up. There appears to be a turn in the tide.

We have heard extracts from a letter quoted by Senator Sir John Keane where a lady consulted many cottage women as to why they got out of poultry. Many of them cannot have got out of poultry, because there was never a bigger reduction than 10 per cent. If we go back for 16 or 17 years, years for which we have statistics, we will find that there is no bigger difference than 10 per cent. If the cottage lady had 20 hens originally, she would have 18 or 19 now. Such sweeping statements about the poultry industry do not represent the facts. Poultry can be divided into turkeys, geese, ducks and fowls, such as hens and chickens. I took certain figures over a period of six months and those figures included cocks as well as hens. There has been no great reduction that could be traced to the maize meal mixture, at any rate. The numbers began to decline in 1930 and there was a steady decline until 1936, when there was a turn.

Will the Minister give the figures year by year?

If we take 1930, the round figures were 10,500,000. Then we had the figure 10,400,000 and in the following year 10,000,000. In 1933, the figure went up to 10,300,000. That was the year of the maize-meal mixture. Next year it was 9,500,000, the following year 9,100,000, and in the next year it was up again to 9,500,000. I have only the estimate for 1937.

That trend of the total poultry population bears out my calculations.

There was a decline all along until the slight turn in 1936. I should like to stress the fact that there was no greater difference than 10 per cent. With regard to the point raised by Senator MacCabe, we have been doing everything we could to improve stocks in the country. In the breeding of cattle or pigs, as in this case, it would be impossible to look after every farmer's stock, but as regards poultry, we are doing all we possibly can to put it within the reach of any farmer to get a good stock of eggs, chickens, pullets or cockerels. With regard to Senator Mrs. Concannon's point, I think we have anticipated the suggestion of holding a conference of the county instructresses, trying to get them to pass on the same enthusiasm to the women throughout the country to go back into poultry, to impress on them that it should pay, and asking them to do their best. I do not think it is necessary to pass a law that the proceeds of the poultry should go to the woman. We usually pass laws here to protect the weaker partner, but it is not necessary in this case.

Question put and agreed to.