Exported Live Stock (Insurance) Bill, 1940—Second and subsequent Stages.

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

Since the outbreak of war the marine insurance on cattle, sheep, pigs and live stock generally going across to Great Britain has been increased very much on account of war risks. Fortunately, there has been no loss, and the cattle trade believe that if they were to carry this insurance themselves they could eventually reduce the rate. It is a few months ago since the cattle trade representatives came to me about this matter and it took some time to draft the Bill. It is a great pity that it was not possible to bring it in sooner as a fairly substantial fund would have been built up by now. If they take over the insurance themselves now, they will have to continue the rates as they are at the moment until the fund is built up. I have consulted the cattle trade representatives about this and they are still anxious to go on with it as they believe it would be better for them to do this insurance themselves than to continue at the rates offered at present.

The Bill is drafted more or less on the lines of the Slaughtered Animals (Compensation) Act, 1928. That was an Act brought in to deal with cases of foot and mouth disease occurring amongst cattle exported. The Act was afterwards amended in 1932 to include animals detained on account of foot and mouth disease. It was further amended in 1938 to deal with other expenses that might occur. This Bill is modelled more or less on the lines of that Act with regard to the constitution of the governing body, etc. It provides for the legislation being brought into operation on an appointed day. War or no war, the cattle trade intends to go on with this scheme. In fact, they intend to continue the scheme in peace times. The present rates are very high. From port to port the rates in the case of sheep vary from 7/6 to 10/- per head; store cattle, from 7/6 to 10/- per head; pigs, 12/6 to 15/- per head, and milch cows from 25/- to 35/- per head. These rates only cover transit from port to port. The cattle are not insured if they proceed beyond the port in Great Britain. The cattle trade feel that, in these days of air raids and other untoward happenings, the animals should be insured to their destination on the other side. This Bill provides for that. Senators are already aware of the export figures for the past four or five years—roughly about 600,000 cattle, 300,000 sheep, and 35,000 pigs.

The Bill provides for a board of eight members who will be appointed for a period of five years by the national executive of the live-stock trade. At least one of the members must be a person engaged in the business of exporting pigs, and at least four must be persons engaged in the business of exporting cattle or sheep, or either of them. Everybody will see the necessity of that, because the national executive is composed principally of cattle and sheep men. The pig-dealers have a very poor look-in there, and, lest for any reason the pig exporters might be squeezed out, provision is made in the Bill that they must at least have one member. There are the usual provisions that it shall be a body corporate, with perpetual succession, etc. There will be a fund created known as the Exported Live Stock (Insurance) Fund. The fund will be fed by levies on cattle, sheep, and pigs exported. These levies will be collected by means of stamps. They will not be State stamps, but stamps printed by the cattle trade themselves, and they will be affixed to documents which it will be necessary to fill in before cattle, sheep and pigs are exported. The stamps will be on sale at the port. In that way this insurance body will have an easy method of collecting the money in advance. There will be no such thing as giving credit.

The rate of levy will be fixed by the Minister for Agriculture in consultation with the National Executive. The National Executive, you will observe, will be consulted by the Minister before fixing the rates. In fact, what usually happens in these cases is that the National Executive take the initiative. They discuss the matter amongst themselves and they make up their minds what the rate should be. They then send a memorandum embodying these recommendations to the Minister for his consideration. After he has considered them, he either approves them or, if he does not think they are suitable, he sends for the members of the National Executive, discusses the matter with them, and suggests that the rate should be changed. I think you will find that, as a rule, in all these cases the Minister very seldom interferes in a decision of that kind. It was thought better, however, and the cattle trade agreed, that the Minister should have the last word in the fixing of the rates.

Where an animal is lost or damaged either on land or sea while in transit, the procedure is that the exporter will put in his claim. The claim will be investigated by a committee of assessors. That committee is also appointed by the National Executive, not by the board. They give their award and there is no appeal from it. A point arose about the time during which an animal is covered. There may be Senators who perhaps are even less intimate than I am with the conditions governing the export of cattle. I might explain that when cattle go across, they are detained by the veterinary authorities on the other side for some hours before they are permitted to be moved any further inland. It is from the moment they leave that detention that the time counts. It is provided here that they will be covered as regards insurance either until they reach their destination, whether that is a farm or market in Great Britain, or for 72 hours. In other words, 72 hours is the maximum period. The insurance cannot cover a period greater than 72 hours, but, in practically all cases, the animals will have reached their destination long before the 72 hours have expired. They usually reach the market in which they are to be sold the next day, or reach the farm, if they are going to a farm, on the next day. If an accident occurs after the 72 hours it will not be covered even though they have not reached their destination. There must be some limit in these cases otherwise you may have people coming along saying that the animals were merely resting at a particular place and that they had not reached their destination. We do not want to have the board investigating cases like that, followed possibly by legal proceedings as to the interpretation to be put on terms such as "reach their destination". We, therefore, put a limit of 72 hours on the period.

There is one difference—it is not a very big difference—between the scheme laid down in this Bill and the scheme laid down for the Slaughtered and Detained Animals (Compensation) Act. In that Act there is a provision that the Minister can suspend the collection of levies after the fund reaches a certain amount. As a matter of fact, in the particular fund dealing with foot-and-mouth disease, no levies have been collected for some years now. The fund reached £40,000, which was regarded as a fair amount, three or four years ago, and no levies have since been collected. Any expenses have been paid out of the interest accruing on the fund. In this case we think it better that there should be some rate of insurance paid all the time. If the cattle trade find from experience that the fund has grown very big, they will in all probability propose to the Minister that the rate should be reduced. The Minister, of course, if he finds a substantial fund there, and if he is convinced from the arguments of the cattle trade that the rate might be reduced, naturally will agree that it should be reduced. The only other thing I should like to say is that I would like Senators to realise that this is not a war measure. It will probably be brought into operation even while the war continues, but it is not to be regarded as a war measure and is meant to be a permanent scheme, whether there is war or peace.

The Minister has so fully explained the provisions and the object of this Bill, Sir, that there is no necessity for me to say anything except to recommend the Bill to the House. I should like to take the opportunity here, however, on behalf of the cattle trade, to thank the Minister and the officials of his Department for the way in which they have met us in the discussion of the provisions of this Bill, and the sympathetic way they have received our proposals and suggestions. There are some of us, however, who believe that the Minister should have made an order under the Emergency Powers Act to implement or put into force the provisions of this Bill earlier. It was suggested to the Minister, and I put it up to him personally, that it should be done at the time. Possibly there may have been some legal objections to doing so, but I think it is a pity that the Minister did not find some means of putting the provisions now contained in this Bill into force at the time I suggested it to him, that is, at the outbreak of the war, because we would have now £250,000 in the fund, most of which has been paid out to foreign insurance companies.

The Minister has told us that this Bill has been introduced at the request of the National Executive of the Irish cattle trade—and that is so—and that it is framed on the lines of the Live-stock Compensation Act. As some Senators will remember, that Act was introduced by the Minister's predecessor, the late Mr. Hogan, in order to provide a legal way for the cattle exporters to tax themselves by putting a levy on all cattle exported so as to create a fund with which to compensate people who lost cattle which were ordered to be slaughtered, as a result of foot-and-mouth disease, at the British landing ports, and for which the British would not take the responsibility of paying compensation. That Act provided the means to compensate these people. The levy was a very small one, but when everybody had to pay it, it mounted up within a very short time to a big sum, and as a result the cattle trade were able to compensate these people, whose claims would not be considered by either of the Governments at the time, and also to compensate everybody who suffered losses since. The fund became so large that we are now able to compensate for hold-ups, or delays, or anything else, at the ports of landing.

That Act has been worked well. It did all it set out to do. It is suspended now because the trustees believe that the £40,000 which was in the fund is sufficient to meet any claims in the immediate future. The trustees under that Bill got no remuneration for their work, and the trustees under this Bill are not going to be paid any remuneration for their work. It is a mutual insurance scheme which will be worked voluntarily and without any expense to anybody except the cattle trade themselves. This Bill, which is a mutual insurance scheme, will be of great benefit to the live-stock exporters. It includes war risk and mortality risk. We have very little experience of war risk, but we have had a good deal of experience of mortality risk, and there have been constant disputes between the cattle exporters, the shipping companies, and the railway companies. Now, these disputes will not occur in future because the insurance company will take charge and pay compensation for all those claims under the mortality insurance scheme, which is included in this Bill.

As the national executive has been mentioned in many clauses in this Bill, it may be of interest to the House to know how that body is constituted. It was formed in 1928 at the request of the then Minister for Agriculture, the late Mr. Hogan, and the object was that there should be some central or responsible authority who could speak for the trade of the whole country and whom the Minister and his Department could consult with upon all matters affecting the trade. It comprises the chairmen and vice-chairmen of three cattle traders' associations in Éire and of two in the North of Ireland, together with the chairman and vice-chairman of the Pig Producers' and Exporters' Association. In other words, it consists of 12 members, and these 12 members, constituting the national executive, are responsible for the cattle trade and are the only authority, I believe, that the Minister or his Department will recognise in discussing any general scheme of business connected with the live-stock trade or export trade of this country. These associations comprise about 1,200 members, who represent the biggest and most representative producers of live stock in the State. They represent practically all the exporters of cattle, sheep and pigs in this country, and some exporters of horses, and altogether they represent an export trade of about £20,000,000 annually, which is the biggest live-stock export trade in the world.

As I said at the beginning of my remarks, Sir, the Minister has so clearly and thoroughly explained the provisions of the Bill that I do not see any necessity for discussing any of its clauses, and I think I would be only repeating what the Minister has said already if I were to discuss the various clauses. All I have to say is that I recommend the Bill to the House and hope that it will pass, not only its Second Reading now but all its stages.

I should like to say, Sir, that this has been one of the happiest evenings I have ever spent in this Seanad. I was here as a member of the former Seanad and have been here since this Seanad was elected, and I must say that this has been one of the happiest evenings I spent here. In the first place, we had the two Senators from Cavan, Senators Baxter and MacCabe, agreeing, and then we had Senator Counihan agreeing absolutely with the Minister for Agriculture.

Would you mind asking the Senator to speak up, Sir? All the Senators who have spoken have been speaking so beautifully, that we should like to hear what Senator Healy is saying. Perhaps the Senator would say it all again.

I am very sorry if I have not been heard, because I thought I had been making a reasonably fair use of my lungs and thought I was making myself fairly well heard everywhere. I should be most anxious that Senator McGee should hear what I am saying because Senator McGee is possessed of a reasonable amount of commonsense, and I find that he is a very sociable member to meet in this House since he came here. I was just saying that this was one of the pleasantest evenings I have spent in the Seanad. I was a member of the old Seanad and I have been a member of this Seanad since its inception, and this has been one of the pleasantest evenings we have had here because of the fact that we had united the two Senators from Cavan, Senator Baxter and Senator MacCabe, and, in the next place, Senator Counihan giving absolution to the Minister for Agriculture, which is something new in this House.

We also had three divisions.

The Bill makes provision for who shall be the members of the board and, I think, who shall be the assessors. I am wondering where the funds will come from that will finance this board. The State, I take it, does not supply any. I am wondering whether it is the cattle producers who eventually will pay the piper.

The cattle producers.

The cattle producers are the people who will pay the piper in this case, and they are the people who should call the tune too. I think the Bill should not specify so clearly that the board shall be composed of people engaged in the live-stock trade. The people who pay the piper have a right to call the tune and the members of the board should be drawn from the cattle producers— at least 50 per cent. of them.

I do not like to appear not to agree with Senator Counihan in his praise for the Minister, and one would be almost intimidated by the kind words of Senator Healy, but I think a great deal can be said for the point of view of Senator O'Callaghan. There is no doubt about it that while one can have nothing but praise for the executive of the live-stock trade and of the people engaged in the live-stock trade, if there is money to be paid as an insurance premium on cattle, pigs or sheep exported from this country, we will pay it when we go into fairs and markets to sell our stock. We will be told, probably, by the trader, when we ask a price which he tells us he cannot give, that there is so much insurance to be paid and that he cannot pay any more, which means really that we are paying the insurance. The insurance cannot be taken out of the live-stock trade. The live-stock trader must have a minimum to carry on with.

Whatever is going to be put into this fund is going to be taken out of the farmers' pockets. I think there is everything to be said for the point of view expressed by Senator O'Callaghan. While it may be a very admirable thing to build up a very strong fund—and indeed in these days it is not certain whether a strong fund is the best fund to have or not—I should not like to see such protection afforded for the export trade in this country at such a cost to our producers as would make them feel that they were being treated too severely in this matter.

I think there would be a great deal to be said for urging that some one other than the people who are purely the trade should be represented on this board. I presume the figures are going to be fixed in conjunction with the Minister, and while it is true that a number of live stock traders are themselves producers—and they are a body of very competent and fairly astute men—that is not anything against them —but it is the little fellow in the country, going into the fairs with his stores, who is going to find this money. My view is that it would not be too much to ask that one or two members of the board would be drawn from a group of farmers that would be representative of producers. I do not think it would do any injury whatever to the board. I think it would probably strengthen it. The more harmony you would have between the producers and the trade in a matter like this the stronger would be the position of the trade. In fact, it is one of the faults of the trade in this country, not only of this branch of the trade, but of other trading organisations, that sometimes they give the producers the impression that they are rather aloof from them and only concerned with what is for their own personal and ultimate good. I suppose there is all haste to get the Bill through now, but I think, if the Minister were prepared to consider it, we could even draft an amendment now and have it accepted which would leave it open to the Minister to draw members of the board from people other than the live stock trade for whom it solely makes provision.

I would not like to be included in the list mentioned by Senator Healy, but neither would I like to be included as being in disagreement with the speech made by Senator Baxter or Senator O'Callaghan. I think there is much to be said for it but, as the Minister has explained, this is really a matter of a change over and it is a matter of urgency. I think there would be considerable difficulty experienced in giving the cattle producers representation. To begin with, the cattle producers are not organised as a body. There are several organisations—the Dairy Shorthorn Breeders' Association and the Kerry Cow Association, and various other associations——

The cattle traders are definitely represented in it.

I never mentioned cattle traders at all. I said cattle producers.

Cattle producers—I say they are represented.

In any case, I am merely pointing out the difficulties that would arise if it were suggested that cattle producers were to be represented on the board, and if the Minister were to accede to the request, and if he appointed Senator Counihan as a representative of the cattle producers—not cattle traders—I think there would be a revolution.

I would just like to say that reading the Bill one would wonder why it should come through both Houses of the Oireachtas to sanction this if the Cattle Traders' Association are doing all this on their own. The other point I want to make is that I am surprised at Senator Baxter, who is interested in co-operation, objecting to a Bill such as this, which certainly is co-operation in excelsis.

I did not object.

The Senator objects to the fact that the producers are not represented on the board. Many of the cattle exporters, of course, are producers, as Senator Counihan points out, but the fact remains that at present cattle are insured and that the producer is paying under present circumstances, because it always goes back to the producer. He has to pay at present for the insurance and he will pay, of course, under this co-operative system amongst the traders also. There is no great change or additional hardship on the producer.

Another point I would like to make is that the Minister has mentioned, it seems to me, flat rates for the different types of animals—a flat rate for the fat beast, the bullock and the heifer, and another rate for milch cows and sheep, but within these types of animal there is a very great difference in cost. For instance, Senator Counihan will probably know what I refer to as a "screw" beast. If such a beast is being exported, that beast of inferior quality and price will pass the veterinary inspectors. They cannot stop it because it is not suffering from any scheduled disease, lameness or affliction for which you could stop it. The point I would like to have clarified is: how is the board to know that the beast has met with an accident or has become a casualty, or is an inferior animal, and not of the same cost as the others? I notice a clause in the Bill which says that at the port of shipment the shipper, in presenting the veterinary paper, shall insert the value of the animals exported. If he had to insert the value of each animal, I am afraid he would have a great deal of clerical work in preparing export papers. I should like responsible authorities taking on insurance to see that an animal of an inferior quality is not included at the same price as the prime beast. If it becomes a casualty it will not be paid for at the same rate. Possibly Senator Counihan and his colleagues have some system to deal with that, but it does not seem to be clear in the Bill.

I presume that this Bill is for the benefit of the cattle trade, and if that is so, the first to benefit will be the producers. I take it that the Bill will not take away any of the benefits that now reach producers. Seeing that it is going to reduce costs, it should react favourably on producers.

I think Senator McGee has practically answered the question that was raised concerning producers. It is really a co-operative effort of the exporters to save a certain sum on insurance, and in that way to be able to give more to producers for their animals. If we were to pursue the line that Senator O'Callaghan and Senator Baxter were travelling, we would have to put producers on the boards of the railways to fix rates for cattle, on the boards of shipping companies to fix shipping rates, and on the drovers' trade union to see what they were going to charge.

Why not put them in the Government and get the thing done right?

We have them in the Government, but I believe some Senators do not appreciate that. We should go even further. I was often at a fair, and when a bargain was made there was a drink, and that came out of the producer's pocket. There is not a producer on the boards of Guinness or Jameson to see what the price of drink should be. This is a different matter. The exporters are there and they want to save a little bit on insurance if they can. It is presumed always in these cases, when exporters of cattle know what their margin is, that they do compete against one another when buying throughout the country. We have to work on that assumption. Otherwise we would have to do away with them altogether. If the producers want all the little margin that is there, the only way is to combine amongst themselves and export cattle, if they want to co-operate to the end.

A question was raised about "declared value". There is some difficulty about that. That was a matter I discussed with the cattle trade. As this Bill stands, the exporter declares the value of the cattle. That will not be questioned afterwards unless the declared value was too high. There is a certain danger, I suppose, that a person sending away a boat load of cattle, on seeing warships getting into position for a naval battle, might put too high a value on them in the hope that they would go down. He must not value them too high, but he can value them too low if he wishes. That is how the Bill stands. The assessors, in assessing the value of the animals, will not value them higher than he valued them. If he puts the value at £200 on, say, ten cattle, at an average of £20 each, the assessors will assume that is the value unless they have reason to think otherwise. If a beast is of less value than £20, as a rule they will see it. If it was a total loss they will value it at £20. If an injured beast lands at the other side they will see it or they will get a report showing if it was as valuable as the other nine. If it was as valuable they will pay, and if it was less valuable they will pay something less than the average insurance. I take it the Bill will work on these lines. It will work as ordinary insurance companies work in regard to injuries to a motor car or where a certain amount of furniture was burned. They take a percentage of the whole, and then consider what the furniture was insured for and in that way assess the claim.

I should like to say that it is not entirely exporters are affected. As a matter of fact when the Bill was before the Dáil sub-section (2) of Section 4, which dealt with members of the board, specified that membership concerned a person ordinarily resident in the State and engaged in the business of exporting live stock. That was amended to read "who is ordinarily resident in the State and engaged in the live-stock trade," because there are men on the national executive who never export cattle. They are really producers. Senator Counihan mentioned some names of people who never export live stock, still they would be, perhaps, chosen for the board. A member need not necessarily be an exporter if engaged in the live-stock business.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take the remaining Stages now.
Bill considered in Committee.
Sections 1 to 24, inclusive, and the Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Question: "That the Bill be received for final consideration", put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I wish to explain to Senator O'Callaghan and to Senator Baxter that there are many important producers connected with the national executive of the association to which I belong who never export a beast. I want to assure Senators that producers are well looked after and have plenty of representation. It is not correct to say that there should be a farmers' association brought in. People who are exporting cattle at the present time have to pay a very much higher rate of insurance than possibly they will have to pay when this Bill becomes an Act. There is no question of any body looking for representation on these insurance companies. Senators are quite right in saying that the producers have to pay the piper. I have always agreed with that and recognised that and I would back up any suggestion to have the producers represented on bodies set up by Bills by which they are to be taxed. I do not think that it would be right to try to force that position in respect of this Bill.

If this Act were enforced in a week's time or in a month's time and if one shipload of cattle were to be sunk, would not that make the insurance fund bankrupt practically before it had begun to operate? Is there any system by which a reserve fund could be established to cover, at least, one shipload of cattle or live stock so that the fund would not be bankrupt before operations had begun under the Act?

That is provided for by borrowing.

I did not know that it was in the Bill.

The war risk rate is 15/- per cent. from port to port, but if a shipload of cattle were to go down, it would go up 25/- or 30/-. It would be easy to cover it then.

Question put and agreed to.
The Seanad adjournedsine die at 7.45 p.m.