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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 18 Apr 1945

Vol. 29 No. 24

Racing Board and Racecourses Bill, 1945—Second Stage.

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

Mar is léir ón Teideal Fada, is é cuspóir an Bhille seo ná Bord, ar a dtugtar an Bord Rásaíochta, do chur ar bun chun síolrú capall agus rásaíocht chapall d'fheabhsú. Beidh de chumhacht ag an mbórd socruithe do dhéanamh i dtaobh geall-ghlacadóirí do dhéanamh gealltóireacht chúrsa agus dleachta d'fhorchur ar gheallghlacadóirí i leith geall cúrsa. Nuair a bheidh an bord nua ag obair ní bheidh aon gá le Bord Urlámhais na Gealltóireachta Meicniúla in Éirinn do choimeád beo agus tá an bille chun an bord san do scur agus a maoine agus a bhfiachas d'aistriú chun an Bhúird Rásaíochta. Mar sin, beidh de chumhacht ag an mBord Rásaíochta ceadúnas fé Acht na Suimitheoirí, 1929 d'fháil chun suimitheoirí do bhunú, do choinneál ar siúl agus d'oibriú.

Do rinneadh roinnt leasuithe i nDáil Eireann ar an mbille mar do tugadh isteach é. Tá alt nua curtha isteach— alt a deich—ag tabhairt cumhachta don bhord chun coistí do bhunú ar a mbeidh baill den bhord ina n-aonar nó in éineacht le hoifigigh den bhord agus na coistí sin d'udarú chun feidhmeanna, cumhachta agus dualgais an bhúird do chomhlíonadh. Duairt a lán Teachtaí go mba cheart cuóram is mó ná triúr do bheith i láthair ag crunnithe den bhórd agus do ghlacas le leasú ag ardú líon an chuóraim go dtí cúigear ball.

In Alt 26, ní raibh ar dtúis aon teora leis an táille a chaithfeadh geallghlacadóir d'íoc chun dul isteach ar rás-chúrsa ach, tar éis bheith ag éisteacht leis an díospóireacht, do chuireas leasú isteach ann á rá nach ceart níos mó ná cúig oiread an mhéide a héileofar ar dhaoine den phoiblíocht as iad do ligin isteach d'éileamh ar aon gheall-ghlacadóir.

Is dóigh leis an Rialtas go mbeidh gá le bord den tsaghas so nuair a bheidh aimsir na práinne thart, agus creideann siad go bhféadfar na cuspóirí atá ar aigne acu a chur i gcrích sa tslí is fearr trí shocruithe an Bhille atá os ár gcomhair anois.

The purpose of the Bill, as stated in the opening words of the Long Title, is "to provide for the improvement and development of horse racing and horse breeding", and it is intended as a contribution towards post-emergency planning.

At present, Irish racing is enjoying boom conditions similar to the conditions which existed at the end of the previous war. The Government consider, however, that, unless suitable measures are taken now to enable further funds to be provided for the assistance of racing and horse breeding, the industry may again experience difficult conditions such as existed during the decade from 1926-1935. It is likely that the resumption of racing on a full scale in Britain, where stakes are normally much higher than here, will result in an exodus not alone of horses which are being raced here by British owners at present, but also in the premature sale of many of the best quality animals by Irish owners unless the stakes to be raced for here are sufficiently attractive to induce them to retain the animals here. Unless constructive steps are taken now, it is likely, therefore, that the immediate post-war period would see a boom in the exports of bloodstock which would be likely to denude the country of the best animals with a subsequent deterioration in the quality of the horses bred here and a falling off in the value of exports in the long run. The export trade in bloodstock, as well as in horses of the hunter class, should be of great value to this country, but the possibility of achieving a long-term expansion of this trade, both in numbers and values, after the emergency, depends largely on whether racing is in a healthy and prosperous condition here. The central purpose of the Bill is, therefore, to secure that adequate funds will be available for the betterment of horse-breeding and horse-racing. As well as being a valuable industry, which gives considerable employment and provides a market for many different types of agricultural and industrial products, horse racing is an amusement and recreation for a large section of the public and it is considered that the necessary funds for the purposes mentioned can be provided in the most suitable manner by the patrons of the sport, if the machinery embodied in the Bill before the House is set up.

The provisions of the Bill fall into four main parts. Part I is the usual general section concerned mainly with the definition of the various authorities mentioned in the Bill and the technical terms used. I would like to draw attention to the definition of a "course bet", which follows the definition used when such bets were subject to a betting duty of 2½ per cent. in the period 1926-1931.

The expression "governing body" refers to the Irish Turf Club or the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee. The first of these is a very old authority, the first edition of the Irish Racing Calendar having been produced by the Turf Club in 1791, and at that time the club had three stewards, just as it has to-day. The Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee is of more recent origin and was formed in 1870. These two bodies have disciplinary control over the conduct of race meetings under the Rules of Racing and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules. They also control the operation of the Totalisator on racecourses through the size of their representation on the Board of Control for Mechanical Betting in Ireland, on which body they have 12 out of 16 members.

Part II of the Bill provides for the establishment of a Racing Board composed of 11 members, all of whom will be appointed by the Minister for Finance after consultation with the Minister for Agriculture. Section 5 (ii) of the Bill provides that each person appointed as a member of the board shall be a person who, in the opinion of the Minister, is representative of, or, otherwise, connected with racing including practical experience in the management of racecourses or the ownership or breeding of bloodstock or bookmaking or other like pursuits.

Six members of the board will be persons who are members of either the Turf Club or the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee but not necessarily stewards or other honorary officials of these bodies. The functions of the Racing Board will not interfere with the disciplinary control of racing exercised by the governing bodies under the Rules of Racing and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Rules. The fact that six members of the board are to be selected from the membership of the governing bodies does not mean, however, that the Minister for Finance will be limited to five in selecting the persons to represent all other interests connected with racing. Many of the members of the governing bodies are representative of other interests, more especially as breeders of bloodstock and owners of horses in training.

The members will be appointed for a five-year term of office and will be eligible for re-appointment. They will not receive any remuneration for their services as members of the board, but may be reimbursed their out-of-pocket expenses incurred in connection with the business of the board. The members will appoint their own chairman who will hold office for a period of one year. During the debate on the Committee Stage in Dáil Eireann I accepted an amendment increasing the quorum for meetings of the board from three, which was provided in the Bill as introduced, to five. On further consideration of the practical working of the board's administrative functions, I introduced an amendment on the Report Stage authorising the board to set up committees and to delegate any of its functions, powers and duties to such committees. This will enable the details of administration to be transacted efficiently and expeditiously without requiring meetings of the full board to be called together at too frequent intervals. The extent to which the procedure of committees will be used will be entirely a matter for the board to determine.

The board will have at its disposal moneys arising from totalisator betting and from a levy on course bets with bookmakers. It will have, in addition, power to borrow up to £20,000, or in excess of that sum with the consent of the Minister for Finance. The board is also being given power to hold a licence under the Totalisator Act, 1929. It may spend the moneys at its disposal on the establishment and equipment of racecourses, but must first obtain the consent of the governing bodies. This is a permissive power and may not be used by the board in the immediate future. In addition the board may make payments, grants or loans for many purposes, including the increase of stake money, the reduction of entrance fees and similar charges, the payment of the carriage of horses competing at race meetings, the reduction of admission charges to the public, the improvement of racecourses and the amenities thereof, and other purposes conducive to the improvement of horse racing, the breeding of horses, and the development of the export trade in horses.

In this connection, the board will have certain powers of control. It may attach to any grants or loans made by it such conditions as it thinks proper, and it may, after consultation with the governing bodies, make regulations controlling the manner in which racecourses, at which racing is authorised by the governing bodies, are to be managed and controlled, with the object of securing that, in the management and control of racecourses, service uniformly satisfactory to the industry and to the racing public is rendered by these executives. Such regulations may require the executives to keep their books in the prescribed manner, to furnish returns and information required by the board and to produce accounts and records. The board is also being given considerable powers over course bookmakers by virtue of the issue of course betting permits and of the regulations for the collection of levy. All regulations made by the board for the latter purpose will be subject to the consent of the Minister for Finance.

The board may make regulations fixing the charges to be made to bookmakers for admission to racecourses, and in the Bill as introduced in Dáil Eireann there was no upper limit or ceiling fixed. In deference to representations made by the bookmakers' associations and to the views expressed by many Deputies, I introduced an amendment during the Committee Stage in that House which lays it down that the board may not fix for a racecourse, at any time, an admission charge for bookmakers exceeding five times the charge then made to members of the public for admission to the racecourse.

Part III of the Bill provides for the granting by the Racing Board of permits authorising bookmakers to carry on their business at racecourses. Without such a permit it will, under the terms of the Bill, be unlawful for a bookmaker to conduct business at a racecourse. Senators will recollect that the Irish Racing Commission, which was set up by the Turf Club and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee in 1942, reported in favour of the restriction of permission to carry on course betting to existing course bookmakers, with the intent that the business should be gradually extinguished. The Government have not adopted the view that bookmakers should be gradually banished from Irish racecourses, but it has been found necessary to provide in the Bill that, through the medium of the course betting permits, the Racing Board will have a measure of control over bookmakers carrying on business on racecourses, particularly having regard to the provisions in the Bill for the collection of a levy on course bets. The statutory recognition thus given to the business of course betting by the Bill can be regarded by the bookmakers as a welcome release from the danger that steps might be taken, as recommended by the Irish Racing Commission, to extinguish the business and to concentrate all course betting on the totalisator.

The third part of the Bill also provides for the collection by the Racing Board of a levy on course bets. The amount of the levy, which will be fixed by the board with the consent of the Minister for Finance, will under the terms of the Bill not exceed 5 per cent. of each course bet. The levy will be payable by the bookmaker on the amount of each course bet placed with him. It is intended that the levy should be passed on to the backer, and the bookmakers should ensure that it will, in fact, be borne by the betting public. I have little doubt but that the Racing Board will encourage bookmakers to observe a uniform practice in this respect. It will be appreciated that the transfer to the Racing Board of this power to collect a levy on course bets deprives the Minister for Finance of a potential source of revenue for the Exchequer, and in that way the measure may be regarded as an important contribution by the State towards the improvement and development of horse racing and horse breeding.

It is intended that the regulations to be made by the Racing Board for securing the payment of the levy will follow on the lines of the existing Betting Duty Regulations which are administered by the Revenue Commissioners for the collection of the existing duty on shop bets. Accordingly, the Bill provides that bookmakers may either pay the levy on the basis of returns furnished by them, or may purchase levy paid betting sheets from the board. The adoption of this procedure will make the filling up of their returns simpler for bookmakers who will, thus, have much the same procedure for the payment of the levy on course bets as exists at present for the payment of the duty on shop bets.

Part IV provides for the dissolution of the existing Board of Control for Mechanical Betting in Ireland, and for the transfer of its assets and liabilities to the Racing Board, which will thereafter become the licensee for the purpose of totalisator betting. The Board of Control, since its establishment in 1930, has carried on its business with the greatest efficiency and success, but in view of the wider functions to be entrusted to the new board constituted under the Bill, a more representative body than the Board of Control is now required. It would be an unnecessary duplication of services to continue the Board of Control in addition to the Racing Board.

A feature of racing here in recent years has been the great success of totalisator betting, and the Government have a deep appreciation of the services rendered voluntarily and with great public spirit by the members of the Board of Control for Mechanical Betting. In the first year of its operation—1930—the turnover was only £99,000, and, as the duty on course betting was in operation at the time, the gross income of the board was only £7,425. The board went through a difficult period subsequently with a large overdraft which had been incurred in connection with the erection of totalisator buildings on racecourses. Progress was slow for some time, but the initial difficulties had been surmounted before the emergency period when, with the limitations imposed on racing in Great Britain and the retention in Ireland of more horses of first-grade quality which would normally have been sold for export to other countries, Irish racing entered on the present period of prosperity which has been affected to some extent by transport difficulties. As a result of the careful constructive work of the previous decade, the board was able to take full advantage of this prosperity. Its turnover reached the record figure of £486,500 in 1944, giving a gross income of £48,600 from the 10 per cent. deduction made from all sums staked with the totalisator, and the returns from race meetings held up to the present indicate that these figures will be exceeded in 1945. In the circumstances, I would like to take this opportunity to convey to the members of the board the thanks of the Government for the manner in which the totalisator has been conducted by them during the past 15 years.

In addition to the four main parts of the Bill, provision is made in Part V for the giving of legal effect to an exclusion order made by either the Turf Club or the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee against any person in respect of racecourses where racing is carried on under their rules.

I think I can say that in Dáil Eireann the Bill met with the general approval of all Parties of that House, and I trust that it will also meet with a favourable reception in the Seanad. It provides an organisation for securing, through the activities of this representative Racing Board, the betterment of racing and breeding in the coming years.

It is not possible to state with any degree of accuracy what funds will be available to the Racing Board for giving assistance to racing and breeding. I shall have to consider whatever recommendation the board, when constituted, may make to me as to the rate of levy on course bets. I may say, without prejudice to whatever decision may ultimately be reached, that I can see some advantage in beginning with the maximum rate of 5 per cent., so that adequate funds may be secured during the present boom period. I do not know what is the present volume of course betting with bookmakers, but on the basis of the returns when the betting duty was in force in 1926-31, a 5 per cent. levy should yield not less than £100,000. In addition to the levy receipts the board will have the 10 per cent. deduction from tote bets, say about £50,000 on the present turnover figures. Administrative expenses will, of course, have to be met from these receipts. It is important that the Bill should be enacted as soon as possible, and it is with confidence that I ask for the co-operation of the House in achieving this.

Might I, at this stage, ask the Minister a question?

Certainly, Senator.

The Minister stated that the Tote turnover was £486,000. Is that the gross turnover since the Tote was initiated?

No, that is for one year—last year—£486,000, and it is expected that it will be a greater figure this year.

I rise to support this Bill for a variety of reasons and because of the fundamental principles that I feel are beneath it and enshrined in it. There are one or two details on which I cannot entirely agree with the Minister, but those are matters that can be discussed at a later stage. I would regard this Bill as being very objectionable if I thought there was justification for some of the public criticism that has been voiced against it, criticism which has been almost entirely voiced because it was suggested that it was going to mean an interference with racing, interference in, perhaps, the governmental sense of somebody going in to take control who did not appreciate the circumstances and the difficulties of the particular business of which control was going to be taken. I do not think that that criticism can in any way be justified so far as this board is concerned, because it is being set up in almost what one might term a vocational way, because it is setting up a board of people interested in a particular industry to deal with that industry and does not attempt, therefore, to dictate in any way to the industry from outside.

I regard, too, the fact that the board will be voluntary, that the members of it will receive no remuneration, as being essentially a good principle because it will avoid, without any question, any attempt to make a scramble for a job for individual interests as against the iterests of the industry as a whole and the national interests. We must remember that, however much racing may sound very like a pleasant pastime for a few, it is indissolubly bound up with the industry of horse breeding, an industry which, here in Ireland, employs, and gainfully employs, very many more people than is perhaps realised by some who are not acquainted with the fundamental details. Racing must always remain as the shop-window of breeding because it is the place at which the worth of the horse that has been bred will be brought out, and it is the only manner in which the breeder of that particular type is able to put his wares on show in a way in which he can prove that those wares are more satisfactory than the wares of his competitors.

We have had here during the past four years a tremendous boom in racing, but it has been, if I may say so, an artificial boom, a boom that has arisen not because of the inherent value of racing as a part of breeding, but because, to a large extent, people were prevented by the exigencies of the emergency, by the difficulties of transport and so forth, from taking part in their ordinary pastimes. It used to be very much more easy to go away on a Saturday afternoon, if you wanted to avoid the bustle of city life, and to go into the country in one's own motor car, and, perhaps, go down to a golf course some distance away. In order to do all that people had different methods of transport to rely on from those that are available now, and in consequence people have felt that the easiest form of relaxation that they could get, so far as the metropolitan area is concerned, was to get down to a racecourse. That inducement will go after the war, and other inducements, when transport facilities become normal, must be available if racing is to hold its place and to hold up its great success during the past four years, so far as the financial end of it is concerned. We all know perfectly well that it makes a tremendous amount of difference, as the Minister has said, whether you are going to have really good horses racing at a particular meeting or not; and whether, in fact, for example, when you go to Baldoyle you will see "Prince Regent" running, or whether you will not, will make a very considerable difference to the attendances at that meeting. After the war we may find that unless the inducements for owners are sufficient to keep them racing their horses here in this country, those horses will quickly go across the Channel, and with that exodus we will lose at a very early date much of the interest in contests at race meetings that has been such a feature of the past few years.

It is a peculiar thing, that compared with other countries which have not even the same breeding urge, our racing here is very much more expensive for those who take part in it as the owners of horses. I picked up a magazine the other night and I saw in it a reference to a meeting of the Turf Club in South Africa. I found there that to enter a horse, right up to the day on which the race was run for a £400 race in South Africa, cost the owner only £1. Now, South Africa has not got the same necessity to popularise breeding as we have here, because they have not got any breeding industry to foster, and if we want to foster that industry here, it is surely desirable in every possible way to make certain that the expenses which owners have to bear here will compare favourably with those they are expected to bear in other countries.

It is, without question, a fact that no one can possibly keep a horse in training in this country, or perhaps even in another country—I have no experience otherwise—in training either for flat racing or for steeplechasing, unless he is prepared to pay, even with a good horse, at least 50 per cent. of his cost of keeping that horse out of his own pocket. From stakes and prize money, all he can hope to get back, even with luck and with a good horse, is about half of what it is going to cost him, and he makes up the remaining expense in some other way, unless he is sufficiently a rich man not to have to bother or to mind.

That shows that it is not going to be possible to keep up ownership of horses for racing indefinitely on those lines, and we must, therefore, of necessity, bring down the expenses, if race meetings are going to get the number of runners that is necessary in the public interest. But, going back again behind that—perhaps I might reach it more easily on the discussion on the National Stud Bill which will shortly be coming before the Oireachtas—we have to consider the type of breeding for which we are providing this expenditure. If we go back over the annals, particularly of the long-distance races like the National at Liverpool, we will find that those horses have, to the extent of a remarkable percentage, been bred on land that has been laid down for grass for a great many years.

They have been bred on land that has been nurtured as a matted pasture for a very long time. The history list of National winners almost looks like a page out of the history of County Meath, even though you will get counties as far down as Roscommon with "The White Knight," or as far up as North County Dublin with "Reynoldstown". It is the land which is matted and not broken up that is so successful in breeding horses, particularly stayers, and I want to make a suggestion, although it is not primarily the duty of the Minister here to-day, that at the very earliest moment the Minister for Agriculture feels that it is possible in the interest of national food production, he should make a more generous arrangement to exclude from tillage genuine stud farms that have available mares of the type to breed the horses that we require and for which breeding this Bill is being asked to assist.

Unless we do that, I am told by some people who are experienced—I can only give their views because I am not in the position to express any personal opinion—though it is possible to improve land from the point of view of cattle by way of what is called lea farming in quick turn over from tillage to grass, because horses require a particular texture, it is going to take about ten years to put back into satisfactory grass for stud purposes land which has been broken. I am putting that to the present Minister so that it can be borne in mind in regard to the continuance of the present Orders, and I quite appreciate the compulsory tillage legislation policy of the Government.

I hope when this Bill is functioning properly it will ensure that racecourses give proper amenities and proper facilities to the public attending those meetings. So far as certain metropolitan meetings are concerned it is, I think, quite fair to suggest that the amenities available for the public are far from satisfactory and far from desirable. It is common gossip that on a big race day at either of two metropolitan meetings anyone who wishes to help the Exchequer, shall I say, by consuming alcoholic beverages, will find it extremely difficult to get those beverages, because the facilities provided are totally inadequate.

If we are to ensure that racing will be successful, facilities for the public —for the tourist public—are an essential part of that popularity, and presumably are matters that will come within the purview of the board and will be considered very carefully by the board. I want also to make a suggestion to the Minister in regard to the appointment of the officials to the board, that there should be a statutory obligation, with a statutory penalty as well as dismissal, to ensure that the officials of the board, particularly the inspectors who deal with matters under Part III, should not be allowed to bet. I think the Minister will agree with me that it would be undesirable in the extreme that any inspector, or authorised person as provided by the Bill, could under any possible circumstances be in a position in which he owed money to a bookmaker for wagering either on or off the course. It would inevitably lead, if there was any possible loophole, to grave possibilities of abuse.

As I say, I hope and I believe this Bill will assist the breeding of the type of horse that has been so successfully bred here in the past, and will be bred successfully here in the future, and that the Minister and the House will realise and appreciate that in the ownership and proper management of a stud farm we have one of the best methods of employment on the land, one of the best methods of utilising that land which should be considered when discussing any policy about land division or otherwise, and one of the best methods that can be made available after the emergency for obtaining foreign credits and foreign currency, so that we in our turn may get those outside raw materials we cannot possibly obtain here.

A successful horse-breeding export industry is within our grasp after the war, but in order that it may be kept within our grasp it is essential to have successful racing. You cannot have that until the expenses of racing for those who provide it are lowered. Unless the expenses of the owners are lowered, you cannot ensure that they will not, merely in their own interest, take the first opportunity that is open to them to get out of their best horses and to use them elsewhere.

I do not think I would have spoken at all were it not that my friend Senator Sweetman left out County Galway when he was speaking about the breeding of horses. It was in the County of Galway that the best horses were bred for both long distance and short races. They were bred by Mr. St. George of Tynagh, about nine miles from the City of Galway. That is a very well-known fact. I agree with everything that the Senator said about horses and the only suggestion I wish to make as the Minister for Finance is present is that in order to have the best breeding you must have the best sires. I should like to see people from other countries when they come to buy the best horses come direct to Ireland and not buy them from England after they have been brought there. I would like to see direct trading with Ireland. You cannot have that unless you have the very best sires. Up to some few years ago if a man owned a sire no matter what his income or earnings from that sire he only paid income-tax on the poor law valuation or the amount of his annuity.

Some years ago the Supreme Court of this country made a change in that law by a decision that they gave. They decided that the owner of the sire was liable for income-tax on his earnings, in other words, the sire's fees. That had the effect of sending some of the best sires out of Ireland. I think that that was an unfortunate occurrence and I would like the Minister to take a note of it, and though he may not be able to do it in this Bill to bring into some financial Bill a condition that will change the law back to what it was up to the time of that decision, and make it as it now is in England, because the English court decided differently.

It is changed back here as a result of an Act three or four years ago. The 1939 Finance Act did so so far as the stallion serves mares on the land on which it stands.

I did not know that it had been changed back. I thought it had a very bad effect on breeding, and I am very glad to know that that has been done.

I want to say that I welcome the Bill and I wish to congratulate the Minister and his advisers who framed it. While racing is now booming, I think it is very wise to take every precaution that there will not be a recurrence of the depression which was experienced after the last world war. For a few years after the last war the condition of racing was good, but then the depression set in and things got very bad. At that time owners were considered very lucky if they could get through a year's racing without losing any money, and that was about the best they could do. No matter what amount of money an owner won in stakes, he was considered very lucky if he had not to write a cheque at the end of the year to balance his account with the Turf Club. The small stakes were one of the causes of this, and even small as they were, the owners had to provide 50 per cent. of them. Entry fees were very high then as compared with now, and unless an owner was a very lucky backer he would lose money all the time. The only chance he had of balancing his account was by the sale of his horses, if he were fortunate enough to get a market that would absorb them. For instance, in 1926 horses owned by me won 45 races, and the total stakes I won for that year amounted to over £5,000, but even after winning this amount in stakes my account with the Turf Club at the end of the year was £18 on the wrong side.

In 1930 the Tote was established in this country. I strongly supported that Bill at every stage of its passage through the Seanad and I have not been sorry for doing so, as I consider the Tote has been the saviour of Irish racing. In recent years the Tote has been responsible for a very big increase in stakes as well as a considerable reduction in entry fees, and now it is paying the carriage of all horses at rail rates to every race meeting. I think the Totalisator Board has handled very wisely the large sums which have passed through its hands up to the present and I am quite sure that the people who will now be appointed to the Racing Board will continue the good work and will, with the additional powers and moneys at their disposal, make racing very attractive for everyone concerned.

With regard to Part III of the Bill, I consider that the bookmakers would be a loss to racing, and I am glad to hear the Minister's views and assurances that it is not intended to remove them. In my opinion, there is plenty of room for both the Tote and the bookmakers and this has been proved in the past 15 years. I am pleased to see that the bookmakers' interests have been safeguarded and their minds have been put at rest with regard to the ceiling put upon the price they may be charged for their admittance to races, and I hope it will never be necessary to reach the ceiling which has been fixed, either for admittance charges or for the levy.

I notice that some members of the Dáil seem to have wrong ideas about existing race companies. It seems to be the opinion that they have been making fortunes. This is not so at all. Up to a few years ago the majority of the race companies could not pay a dividend, and it is only since this war started, or shortly before it, when racing began to boom, that the race companies have got on their feet at all. For instance, I might mention one race company of which I happen to be chairman. This company was formed in 1914. We were able to pay a dividend from 1919 to 1924. Then there was no dividend paid until 1937, which means that the shareholders were without any return on their money for 12 years.

This clearly proves what I have mentioned earlier about the depression in racing which was experienced a few years after the last war. Shareholders who had money invested in these race companies got no return on their money for years and I think everyone will agree with me that, when a profit is made, they are entitled to a reasonable dividend. If, of course, racing continues to boom and, no doubt, every precaution will be taken by the board to ensure this, I am quite sure that all race executives will, after giving their shareholders the return on their money to which they are entitled, be very anxious to spend their surplus profits on improving their courses and giving every possible facility and amenity to racegoers.

I approve of the proposed establishment by the board of additional racecourses, provided they do not interfere with the existing ones, as to my mind the racecourses now existing are necessary. In particular, I have in mind the small country racecourses which are very necessary for the small owners and trainers. I am very pleased to note that the Minister has given every assurance that the interests of small breeders and owners will be given special attention. Some people seem to think that the small owners do not get their money's worth when they sell horses, but this applies also to large owners. For instance, at the beginning of the last war at a public auction at Newmarket I bought a yearling from one of the biggest breeders in England for £35. I named this animal "First Flier." I won the Irish Derby with him and sold him for £1,100 at a Newmarket sale. He went from there to India, and afterwards won the Viceroy's Cup there, value £5,000. On another occasion in 1909 I sold a four-year-old horse called "May Fowl" for £200. As a two-year-old, he won a small race, and as a three-year-old won only in a bad class. He was a gelding, and he was not in the English Stud Book. He went to India, and in 1910, 1911 and 1913 he won the Viceroy's Cup, value £5,000. In 1912 he dead-heated for the Viceroy's Cup with a mare that I had bought from the National Stud at the Newmarket December sales for £25, and I sold that mare half an hour afterwards for £50.

Expensive horses which left the country did not do as much as that cheap animal did to call attention to the kind of horses we have in Ireland. It is not necessary to pay big prices to get good animals. Up to that time, the Australians were sending their best horses to run in India, and they were winning the Viceroy's Cup almost every year, but since then the Irish-bred horses have won it more often than horses from any other country in the world. In fact, 77 per cent. of the horses that won races in India have been Irish-bred horses.

The Minister has put many people's minds at ease by his assurance that he will not approve of any monopoly with regard to the export of horses. Before the emergency, we had a wonderful export trade with most countries in the world. Speaking for myself, I am pleased to say that I have had no complaints from any of the countries to which I have sent horses, and I have exported horses to a great number of countries. I sent £98,000 worth of horses to Russia in 1936. I am sorry to say that there were only 12 horses available which suited what the Russians wanted at the time.

Were those all racehorses?

All racehorses. I have also exported horses to Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugo-Slavia, Germany, Greece, Austria, Norway, Sweden, U.S.A., Egypt, South America, India, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Of course, I can assure everybody that I did not sit at home waiting for customers from these countries to come to me. I had to go and look for them. Therefore, I am glad to hear that there will be no interference with private enterprise. It may seem very selfish of me to thank the Minister for assuring us that there will be no monopoly under the Bill, but I know that his statement in this matter has been welcomed by a great many people. The Irish horses that have gone to foreign countries have made a name for themselves and for the country in which they were bred. I hope that immediately the emergency is over we will be able to resume the export of horses to all those countries on even a bigger scale than in the past.

It is possible that, from statements made by some Deputies when discussing this Bill in the Dáil, the public may have got a very wrong impression of how stableboys and apprentices are treated. They certainly have done their best to show trainers up in a very bad light. As regards apprentices, they come for training of their own free will, just the same as other boys go to be trained for other trades or professions. Speaking for myself, I am inundated with letters from fathers and mothers of young boys who are anxious to become good jockeys. At the present time, there seems to be a campaign going on to make the apprentices dissatisfied. Apprentices are not forced to sign indentures. They do so of their own free will or at the will of their parents, and are quite content, when signing, with the terms laid down therein. They get free board, lodging and clothing during the term of their apprenticeship, and get gratuities when they are in charge of horses that win races. There is no need for me to point out what it costs to keep, feed and clothe an apprentice nowadays. They always seem anxious to be educated in a training establishment, and very few of them ever want to go home except for a holiday. Speaking for the Curragh trainers, I am not aware that any apprentices are working under the conditions that some Deputies have represented. If apprentices do not make good for themselves and turn into good jockeys, a trainer cannot be blamed for it. It is just that they have not got it in them. Just as in any other trade or profession, two boys come along to serve their time; one of them, through his natural talents, makes good and climbs to the top of the ladder, while the other boy probably gets nowhere, but his employer, provided he has given him every reasonable chance, cannot be blamed for this.

As regards the stableboys at the Curragh, they get a standard wage. Their wages are now over 100 per cent. better than in 1937. As well, they have many opportunities of making money, between presents and other things, that an employee in any other trade or business has not got. If the Minister or anyone else who is interested would care to spend a day at my place at the Curragh, I should be only too glad to show him the conditions under which the average Curragh training establishment is run. If conditions are as bad as they have been made out to be for stableboys and apprentices, I should like some explanation as to why they keep turning up in such large numbers looking for jobs. There must be some attraction. I consider that the Bill is a good one, and I am confident that racing and breeding will greatly benefit by it.

I should like to join with those who have welcomed this Bill. Very few Bills introduced in this or the other House have been so much misunderstood, or have been subjected to so much misrepresentation. When the first speeches were published, I was moving around amongst various sections interested in the Bill, and some of the most extraordinary statements were made. One section said that we were going to abolish the Jockey Club; another, that we were going to abolish the bookmakers, and another, that we were going to abolish the National Hunt Steeplechase Committee. The fact is that the Bill, far from being introduced to abolish any body even remotely connected with racing is, in my opinion, a measure which will not alone maintain the present healthy position as far as racing is concerned but ensures that, as far as it is humanly possible, the present prosperous position of racing will be maintained in future years. We had some violent speeches in the Dáil regarding the section dealing with the tax on bookmakers. I agree with those who say that it was entirely out of place to criticise the individuals who are on those boards. Somebody said that it was not good business to drag politics into sport. I believe it is not. This Bill is entirely outside politics and those engaged in sport—racing, hunting and so on—are not as bitterly opposed to one another politically as are those who are completely divorced from sport of any kind. In my political moments, I might be prepared to criticise some of the individuals who have been in control of the horse-breeding and horse-racing industry. I know a fair amount about that and other industries and I say that it would be a good job if the control of the other industries of the country were in the hands of people of the same type as those who are controlling racing and who are likely to control racing in the future. Legislation has been passed to keep undesirables out of various types of industries. We should take this Bill for what it is worth and, examining it on its merits, I cannot see how anybody can find fault with it. Naturally, people will be put to some little inconvenience but, as I have said, the Bill is intended to ensure that racing will continue along proper lines.

At a time like this it is only natural that some examination should be made as to what has been going on in the past. It is only right to say that there is plenty of room for improvement, particularly in the case of the metropolitan racecourses. Under this Bill, provision can be made for improving the amenities of racecourses, and when this board is set up I believe they will go into all these things and will insist on having improvements made which they think desirable and practicable. I am sorry that I am not in the position of the Minister who said that he never backed a horse. I have backed several horses, including several losers. Some members in the Dáil said that if this tax on betting were introduced it would do away with betting on horses completely. Whoever said that was an optimist. When whisky was selling at 2d. for a "half-one" and was increased to 2½d. an old fellow in my district met my father, who did not drink at all, and said: "Did you see the paper to-day; I will never drink another drop." That man is aged 93 now, and he is still drinking, with whisky at ½. The same thing will apply in the case of betting. It is only right that people who are enjoying the sport should contribute to the continuance of that sport.

Senator Parkinson, who is the greatest authority on the subject in this House, in any event, has dealt with the owner's problem. He has pointed out that with the stakes as they are, it would be practically impossible, particularly for the smaller owner, to continue in business. When this Bill becomes law, it will be possible to increase the stakes and to improve conditions generally, so far as racing is concerned. I am particularly interested in the restoration of the small meeting down the country, because it was through the medium of the small meeting some of the best horses here were produced. When I was a boy, we had numerous race meetings in the south. One by one, those race meetings ceased to exist. The courses have gone back to grass, and the old grand stands serve as monuments to the imperfection of the system which allowed those meetings to collapse. Under this Bill, the country meetings will, I believe, be revived, and in that way an opportunity will be given to the small breeder to race his horse at a local meeting where he will not be subject to a great deal of expense. If a farmer has what he regards as a fairly useful horse and wants to race that horse at present, he has to consider his position very seriously. It will mean taking that horse from 50 to 100 miles, and spending from two to four days out. That cannot be done except at considerable expense, and the result is that the small breeder is afraid to undertake the responsibility of racing his horse at all.

With regard to the tax on bookmakers, I have gone to a great deal of trouble to ascertain what their grievance is. I have met several bookmakers. I said to them: "I am open to conviction and I should like to find out what, if anything, is wrong with this Bill." The farthest I could get them to go was to assert that the tax would stop people from betting on horses. Nobody believes that. They pointed to the trouble they would have in keeping accounts, with the right of an inspector to examine their books at any time. So far as I know, an inspector from some Department or other has almost a right to empty out anybody's pockets at present, not to speak of inspecting his books. If such regulations had not been made, the country could not be carried on. I do not see why the bookmakers should be exempted from that little inconvenience any more than any other section of the community. So far from wanting to see the bookmaker abolished, I should be sorry to see that happen. If you took away the bookmakers half the glamour would go from the race-meetings. Most people who go to race-meetings recognise a familiar voice in one corner or another of the course and, if one of those bookmakers happens to be sick, his voice is missed immediately on entering the course. Some of the music and some of the glamour is gone from the meeting because of his absence. Everybody wants to see the bookmakers there and to win a few pounds from them if they can. As regards the regulation providing for application for a licence by the bookmaker, I do not see that the decent bookmaker—and the majority are decent men—has anything to fear. The only fellow who has anything to fear is the fellow who should not be on the course at all. If there is any better way of handling that situation, I should like to hear of it, because I do not know of any better way. It is in the interests of the bookmakers themselves that there should be proper control over them, so that we shall not have "chancers" going around the country to race-meetings. We all know of isolated cases—there are not many—in which bookmakers packed up and walked off the course.

People will tell you that has not happened in recent years. It has, particularly at point-to-point meetings and in isolated places down the country. I made a bet with a bookmaker myself at one of these meetings about two years ago. I do not bet very much, but I generally have a little bet on every race at any meeting which I attend. I lost on four races at this point-to-point meeting. By the time I lost on the fourth race, he regarded me as a pal of his and he put me down by some nickname. He gave me no ticket after the first three races. I won on the fifth race, and when I walked up to claim my winnings, he just laughed at me and said he had never seen me before. Of course, anyone would tell me I had my remedy, but I felt such a terrible fool that I walked away with my tongue in my cheek and I did not say a word further about it. It is time that there should be some regulation of betting so that only people who are prepared to conduct business on proper lines will be allowed to stand up at race meetings.

It was said during the debate that the tax on betting which was tried before failed, but that was an entirely different kind of tax. The tax which was tried before went into the general revenue and did not go back to racing. The tax in this case will go back to racing to improve stakes and the amenities of racing generally. In that way, I believe it will not be resented at all in the way that an ordinary tax would be resented by the general racing public. Senator Parkinson has pointed out that even where a man wins a great number of races in the year, at the end of the year, by the time entrance fees, jockeys' fees, etc., are all totted up, he may even find himself in debt. In fact, I think he said that at the end of one of his most successful years he found himself owing money despite his winnings. I know a man who ran horses. He was only a small owner, but in one year he won five races. I said to him: "You must be doing pretty well." He replied: "Yes, by the time I have finished the year I shall owe only £28 16s." Of course, he had to pay trainers' fees. Unless something is done to remedy that situation and to increase stakes, it would be impossible for a small owner to carry on in the post-war period.

All kinds of propaganda have been levelled against this Bill. It was said, for instance, that it was a Bill to improve matters for the big breeder. I believe that it will improve matters for the big breeder and the small breeder but particularly for the small breeder. That is the great feature that I see in the Bill. Anybody who has any fears about the Bill need only look at Section 16. There are seven subsections in that section dealing with the various things which it is intended to do under the Bill, and I can see no reason whatever for adverse criticism of the measure. It was suggested, again, that the horse-breeding industry of the country was getting into the hands of people outside the country altogether. Now, that is absolute nonsense and no such situation is threatened at all. The horse-breeding industry at the present time is largely represented by the Bloodstock Breeders and Horse Owners' Association. That association is, in my opinion, as democratic as any other organisation in this country. It is composed of people connected with the horse-breeding industry who are either big owners or small owners. I say, and I think I know what I am talking about, that the bulk of the people in that organisation are really small owners—the type of man who keeps two or three brood mares or keeps a stallion or who keeps two or three horses, or perhaps only one, in training. They are the type of people who form the majority of the Bloodstock Breeders and Horse Owners' Association, and if they wanted to take control at any time, they can elect anybody they like to the council of that association. Meetings are held annually, properly conducted and properly convened, and I should like to see every farmer in the country, who has any interest whatever in the bloodstock-breeding industry, becoming a member of the association. That association in itself has done a very considerable amount for horse breeding and has produced, from the small resources which it has at its disposal, a book which is a record of all Irish-bred horses. No matter where they race in any part of the world, you can find out all about them in that book. A more elaborate book has been issued by the association this year, and I believe that the best work anybody interested in Irish horse breeding could do would be to send a copy of that book to their friends abroad.

Of course there are certain matters which need attention and which did not receive the attention they deserved in the past. We have every day, or at least every week, reports of horses winning races in foreign countries which are described as English bred. In many cases these horses are in fact Irish-bred horses. I saw a write-up last week of a number of winners in America which were described as English-bred horses and at least a couple of those horses were bred right in the parish I come from. No chance should be lost to get any credit we can for horses bred in this country. One thing I suggest that this board could do when it is constituted is to ensure that a proper record shall be kept to ensure that when horses bred in this country win important races abroad they will not be credited to any other country. As I say, the Bill has been very much misunderstood, but I certainly am glad to see it introduced.

It was suggested that the driving power behind the Bill came from people who were not genuinely interested in the horse-breeding industry at all, people who were described as this, that and the other. It is a remarkable thing that the report of that joint committee practically coincided with the report of the Horse-breeding Commission that was set up a number of years ago. I was a member of that commission myself. I think Senator Parkinson was also on it, though I am not quite sure. I know Colonel Hayes, ex-Adjutant-General of the Irish Army, and several other people of that type were also on it. Such people may make mistakes; they may be wrong in their opinions but they at least are honest and try to do the right thing. When a report coming from a body of that kind agrees with the report of another body comprised of a different type of people, I think their recommendations as to what should be done to improve the horse-breeding industry should carry some weight. I congratulate the Minister on the introduction of the Bill, and I have no doubt whatever that when this Bill becomes law it will mean a bright future for the horse-breeding industry of the country.

I belong to that class, of which it is said there is one born every minute. Another name for them is punters. As one of those people I must say that I cannot give my unreserved support to the Bill. I want to know what we are going to get out of the Bill. The money is going to come from us and, so far as I know, up to now there is no provision whatever to improve our conditions.

You will get cheaper drink.

Possibly, but until that comes we will have to go dry because we will have no money left by the time the tax is taken off us. It has been said that racing is the sport of kings, and, certainly, so far as the cost to the ordinary racegoers is concerned, it is only a king that could afford it. Now, by putting on this tax it is going to be made still more costly for the people who like racing and who have the unfortunate habit of betting. The Tote has produced a matter of £48,000 on a 10 per cent. basis, and I want to say to the Minister that it never adhered to the 10 per cent. basis; it was nearer 14 per cent. all the time and was being winked at all the way through. In England, the Tote is properly run and regulated, and therefore, I cannot join in the bouquets that have been thrown at the Tote Board here, because some of that money came out of my pocket. In England they have units of a penny, twopence, and threepence, but in this country, unless it is the even sixpence, there is no dividend. I wonder will the Minister do anything in the future to ensure that the patrons of the Tote get a fair "do," and see that if it is going to be 10 per cent., it will be 10 per cent., and no more. Certainly, I think the Minister has a responsibility in the matter.

What is it in Eng land?

I think it is 10 per cent.

I think it is 17½ per cent.

Well, whatever it is, at any rate it is adhered to, and if there is a penny over, or twopence or threepence over, it is given to the backer, but here, unless it is sixpence, nothing is given. Therefore, I think that the people who patronise the Tote have not got a fair deal, and I want to ensure that under the new control there will be some provision to ensure that whatever the percentage may be—I do not care if it is 25 per cent.—it will be kept at that. As I said, I am one of those people who like to have a bet or a gamble, and I can see that it is going to cost me a considerable amount of money to enjoy that pastime in the future. Accordingly, I cannot welcome the Bill or be loud in its praise, as some people have been up to now.

So far as I know, no voice has been raised on behalf of the punters. It is time that their convenience and their requirements were seriously considered, because a very severe tax is going to be put on them in the matter of this 5 per cent., and when a man turns his money over seven times a day it is going to be a lot more than 5 per cent. at the end of the day. Senator Parkinson referred to the time when owners' losses were considerable, and I am sure that his betting at that time was very considerable, but if the 5 per cent. had been in operation then, his losses would have been very much greater. I do not think he will deny, therefore, that something should be done in that regard. We have had references to displaying our wares, so to speak, in the shop window by sending our horses to America and other countries to boost the horse-breeding industry of Ireland. I suggest that when a team of our jumpers was sent around the world they brought more lustre and credit to us than a lot of those alleged racing horses. If we could do the same thing again, it would be a better shop window display than anything else. However, that is a matter for post-war arrangement.

Now, as regards the employment which this industry gives, I join issue with some of the remarks made by Senator Parkinson. In this industry we have the title of owner or master at one end, and at the other end the title of boy or lad—relics of the old, bad days. I want to ask the Minister, would it be possible to make it one of the responsibilities of the board to ensure that the interests of the people looking after these horses will be safeguarded, and their conditions improved? We have heard a lot of talk about improving the breed of the horses, and doing all that kind of thing, but there is nothing at all in the Bill to ensure that the people engaged in the industry will have their conditions improved at all. If the 5 per cent. were going in that direction, I would not have such a grouse, or such a reason for a grouse. Senator Parkinson went on to deal with the question of the apprentices. "These people," he said, "have me inundated with applications to become apprentices." What is the ultimate end of the apprentice? After serving his apprenticeship be becomes either a "lad" or a "boy." There are very few Danny Mahers or Mickey Bearys, but these are the magnets that attract the boys into the industry. Consequently, we have a very large number of people going in as apprentices and going into what is almost a blind-alley industry.

The number of apprentices who make good or who get a mount in public is very few indeed and, consequently, a very large percentage of these people are going into a blind alley and will spend useless lives, useless for themselves and for the community at large. You will see hanging around racecourses and racing stables numbers of people who were apprentices at one time. Therefore, I do not think that those who raised the matter of the conditions of the apprentices and the people engaged in the industry exaggerated the matter, because I must say that I am not at all satisfied, and I do hope that the Minister will accept an amendment to empower this board to regulate the number of apprentices. These boys have to do their horses, in many cases, the same as the lads or the stableboys, for which they get their keep and their clothing and 1/- a week, and that includes Sunday work. I do not think that that is an ideal situation and it certainly does not hold much promise for the boy. I am satisfied that it is incumbent on me to mention these matters in the hope that the Minister may see his way to accept an amendment on these lines on the Committee Stage.

There is another matter in the Bill to which I must call attention. It is Section 29. That section empowers the agent of the board to enter on a premises and demand documents. This may well be a precedent for future legislation. A policeman cannot do that without a warrant. A revenue officer is responsible to the Government and he has certain limitations and restrictions. This agent appointed by the board can go right in to a premises, and demand books and documents at any hour he likes, because there is no provision in the Bill to ensure that he shall go in during office hours. Many of these bookmakers have no offices. Their business, so far as the clerical end of it is concerned, is done in their own houses and, consequently, I think we are establishing a very dangerous precedent in empowering the agent of the board to act in that way. I should like this matter to be looked into, because this Bill will be statute law and will be quoted in future legislation. I do not think there is anything in our statute law comparable with the power granted in Section 29. The Minister can put me right if he has anything comparable. I think it is important that these matters should be referred to.

Certainly it is a good thing to improve the standard of racing and to improve the breeding of the horses, but it is not a good thing to dip too deeply into the pockets of those who are already finding the money. Take the case of the man going racing on a Saturday evening. In some cases he has to pay £1 entrance fee. Does anyone know any outside sport in which a man has to pay £1 for a couple of hours' amusement? What is going to be done about that? In addition to that privilege, he is now to be expected to pay a tax of 5 per cent. on any bet he may make. We are told that he is going to get the advantage of these amenities which are being referred to, but certainly the amenities around the metropolitan racecourses are not comparable with those of some third-rate racing tracks in the country. Consequently, if people like myself are expected to put up this money, we are going to look for conditions comparable with the prices we have to pay, and I hope the Minister will consider also the points I raised about the conditions of people employed in the industry. It is a matter which the board might well go into.

As a member of the veterinary profession I think it my duty to congratulate the Minister on the introduction of this Bill. We can, at any rate, be satisfied that it is not the legislation by reference which has so often been mentioned here. Everything in the Bill is pretty understandable and we cannot have complaints that it is impossible to understand the direct inference of any clauses in it.

I speak on the Bill as practically an outsider, having very little interest in betting, but I have an interest in the welfare of the horse-breeding industry, naturally, because of the profession to which I belong. The Short Title of the Bill did not concern me very much, but in the early-part of the Long Title there was a reference to horse breeding and horse racing. Looking through the Bill, I did not find any reference to the furtherance of the horse-breeding industry until I came to Section 16. Clause (vii) of sub-section (c) refers to:

"any purposes, approved by the Minister, conducive to the improvement of the breeding of horses or to the development of the export trade of horses".

That is the clause in which I am interested and I take it that when the board gets into full swing, it will seek the approval of the Minister on some matters. I hope it will consider provision for increased research into the disease, or infliction, of infertility in thoroughbred mares. I hope that will be one of the objects to which attention will be devoted and to which the Minister will give his sanction. Senator Parkinson knows, probably better than I do, the large number of thoroughbred mares which are infertile for reasons which the veterinary profession certainly cannot very well define at present. Much research and expense will be required for the elucidation of the causes of this affliction.

I must say that I did not read the debates in the Dáil on this Bill beyond what appeared in the newspapers; but it seemed to me that there was too much of a furore entirely about the bookmakers' point of view. I appreciate the view mentioned by Senator Foran earlier to-day, because as it is the consumer who always pays, it is the punter who must pay here. The revenue of the board is to consist of the Totalisator fund, and the 5 per cent. tax on course bets. The Bill further empowers the board to raise money on loan. Of course, that is not actually relevant. They must have the other fund before they are allowed to raise the money on loan.

Another point on which I would like to get clarification is that it seems to me that the Bill does not apply at all to point-to-point meetings throughout the country. If that be so, it does not really get down to the basis of the horse-breeding industry because the real beginning of the industry is in the country point-to-point meetings where the steeplechaser is recognised at the start, is bought by the big race owner, and finally finds his way to Fairyhouse, or to other important steeplechase meetings. Therefore, the board should spread its tentacles quickly to embrace other authorised meetings, if possible. It does not seem to me that, according to the Bill, it is possible to cover point-to-point meetings. It seems to cover only the enclosures where an admission fee can be charged to the public and where bets can be recorded by the bookmakers.

But what about the bets made by bookmakers at point-to-point meetings? Will they be free of tax? Or will they have to account for them? That is a difficulty I see in the administration of this Bill by the board, and there is one other point—the fact that dog racing is fast raising itself to the importance of horse racing, although it does not come under the provisions of this Bill. Naturally, one board could not control the two sports, but there is a question of getting at dog racing where there is no Totalisator apparatus at all. These are points which I would like to have elucidated during the discussion, either on the present Second Reading Stage or on the Committee Stage.

Senator Foran referred to the fact that as a member of the public attending race meetings he got no facilities or very little facilities. Section 16 does provide for the reduction of the charges to the public for admission to authorised racecourses, so if he has to pay extra for his betting, he is supposed to be promised a reduction of the entrance fee to the racecourse. That would be an extra lure to the public to come along at a cheaper admission fee, but I think, on reading the Bill, that the whole substance is simple enough. The racing industry and the horse-breeding industry are to be subsidised actually by the general public through contributions for attending race meetings and placing bets with the bookmakers. I do not know what is the tax charged by the State on business premises used by bookmakers. I take it that the same 5 per cent. will be charged in the house as on the course?

No, they are paying 7½ per cent.

They are paying 7½ per cent. in the shop. I am glad of that, because the course betting fee of 5 per cent. is less than the betting fee on the business premises, and the inducement to a bookmaker is not to place the record of a course bet as being transacted in the business premises, because it would be his interest to pay 5 per cent. instead of 7½ per cent. If the thing were reversed I do not think it would be so satisfactory. It is certainly an advantage that the course fee payable to the board is lower than the fee to be paid in the betting shop. It is an unfortunate thing maybe that we are such a gambling people, but I think the world over gambling is practised, and it is all to the good that it is diverted into useful channels. Certainly, it is to the good that we are diverting this 5 per cent. into a channel in which it will be utilised for the advantage of the breeding industry and for the repute of Irish horses the world over. Senator Parkinson was very enlightening in demonstrating to the House the repute of Irish horses in the present and in the past, but if we were to take that as being such a satisfactory position it would be an argument against the necessity for this Bill. If we said that they are so highly reputed that we do not require any further repute, there would be no need for this measure. I do not want to stress that point. The greater repute our horses and live stock have the better it is for our trade, even though we have a good reputation at present. I agree with the Bill for these reasons and I hope that one of the benefits will certainly be the improvement of facilities for patrons, so to speak, because they will have to pay the whole thing.

I am afraid that I am not in a position to join with Senator O'Donovan or the other speakers in welcoming this Bill. It is one of the most deplorable things that this House has got to face, that one of the first measures brought here for consideration in relation to post-war development has to do with horse racing and betting. It seems to me that we are starting at the wrong end, unless, of course, betting and gambling are the main interest of the country. If they are, then I suppose we have got to face it, but I refuse to think that that is so. I refuse to think that this House should be occupied in piloting through a measure which, although it describes itself as a Bill to provide for the improvement and developing of horse breeding, has altogether forgotten everything about horse breeding to concentrate on racing and gambling and boards of control and all the other machinery which we are told is to make it pleasant for the people who can afford to go to race meetings. The Bill has, however, one striking feature which I hope may provide a headline for the future. It does not propose to set up a control board consisting of civil servants. It has gone very far to the other extreme. It is giving the very extensive controls provided in the Bill to two bodies over which the Legislature has no control or influence whatever. Five of the members of the board will be selected by outside bodies concerned with the promotion of horse races. The remaining six will be selected by the Minister, but he has tied his hands in regard to the selection, so that when he comes to make the selection he will be restricted more or less to the same field as the two outside bodies, except that he will be obliged to sink down a little lower in the scale for some of his nominees. It is, however, an improvement on some of the legislation we have had here, that independent bodies, whether we like them or not, should have control of the machinery established by this Bill, rather than that it should be, presumably, controlled by the Minister, while in fact controlled by people appointed by him who are responsible to civil servants only.

But the Bill goes further than that. It confers powers on bodies called executives. Now these executives are not the bodies responsible for making the nominations to the board. They are racecourse executives and it confers on these executives powers greater than the State confers on the police force. They have power to order people off the course and to use force. A servant of a racecourse executive, the constitution of which we know nothing, the members of which are unknown, and the employees of which will be unknown, are being given powers in this Bill to use force to remove people off the racecourse at their discretion. It may be desirable that certain people should be removed off racecourses. I think that there are a good many people going to racecourses who would be better off them, in the interests of society, but I do not think the State ought to hand over its authority to bodies of this kind and to their employees. It seems to me that the proper people to deal with a matter of that kind are the police, a force which is maintained by the State, or have we abdicated our functions and given authority to outside bodies, such as racecourse executives, to maintain a private army of their own? In America there was a practice of permitting certain industrial organisations to maintain private armies. This, apparently, is the example which we are following in dealing with the racecourse executives. Although the Bill is described as an Act to provide for the improvement and development of horse breeding, it will be noticed that only once throughout the whole of it is any reference whatever made to horse breeding.

As I understand it, if the Bill becomes law and the board is established, it is to be the judge of what is to be done with the vast sums of money which will come into its possession. It may be that it will handle £70,000, £80,000 or £100,000 a year, because I understand there is big money in horse racing. Somebody calculated recently that £6,000,000 is invested in betting every year.

Of course a considerable part of that —about £4,000,000 I understand— passed through the hands of the betting shops. The Minister, however, is determined that the racecourses will now be more attractive than the betting shops. Amenities are to be provided for the gamblers so that they will be able to spend a quiet afternoon gambling on the racecourses at Dublin, Cork, Limerick Junction, and other places. So long as the State derives benefit from it, apparently we have no ethical standards to induce us to prevent it or to make us ashamed of it.

I suggest that the Minister should not restrict himself by legislation in regard to the selection of persons to serve on the board. There should be no obligation upon him to select people who are representatives of bookmakers, for instance. He should ensure that the people selected by him are competent to promote the interests of horse breeding in this country, although in passing one might very well question the wisdom of locking the stable door —if I may use that expression now— after the horse has been stolen, because, so far as one may form an opinion as to post-war developments, it seems to me that the horse will be very much less important in the future than he was in the past. I think the motor car and the tractor and the aeroplane are going to make a big appeal to the community as a whole. The bigger that appeal is, the less will be the appeal of the horse. If the horse has no appeal, for instance, for military purposes, as he probably will not have in the future, then I think his utility as a commercial proposition will be diminished very much. But it is important that, so long as we are engaged in this enterprise, we should have on the board people of character and of good repute, with, what is equally important, the proper attitude to the interests of this country as distinct from the interests of any other country. I understand, for instance, that certain quarters are considering how the board should be staffed. Mind you, having regard to the fact that part of it is to be recruited with due regard to the interests of bookmakers, they are starting on a high level; I understand that some sections have decided that the employees must have a secondary education. So the Central Bank, the Tote, and all those organisations established by the Government are now to go to the secondary schools and the universities for their staffs, while the poor man's son can continue to drain the bogs and repair the roads at 35/- a week.

In regard to the position of bookmakers, I agree entirely with the suggestion made by the commission that this is an industry—if one may dare to call it an industry—which ought to be allowed to die out gradually, but that it should die seems to me inevitable. If we are going to have the Tote, then let us have the Tote, and let us get rid of those complaints about the tax which the bookmakers are requested to collect. We will get rid of all their grievances by discontinuing their profession. They are not necessary to horse racing, if indeed horse racing is necessary at all. With regard to the tax, I am amazed when I hear complaints that it is a burden on the community. I do not know anything about horse racing but I have heard here this evening that people go to race meetings and pay £1 entrance fee, and then commence to gamble. There must be many men in this city who are endeavouring to raise a family on £1 a week, and I have very little sympathy with people who can afford to pay £1 entrance fee for the privilege of being allowed to gamble on racecourses on Saturday evenings. I think perhaps if we were to round off the proposals made on behalf of the punters we might reasonably ask the Minister in conclusion to refund to the unsuccessful punters at least a half or one-third of their losses each week. I imagine that would satisfy them, and would make for a pleasant time on the racecourses. Then, in order to be fair to the bookmakers, the Minister might perhaps include a provision to repeal the Gaming Act, so that the fellows who do have a gamble would be required to pay the sum due in the event of the guess being wrong. Even though I am in a minority of one, I regret very much indeed that a measure of this kind should have been brought into this House.

Mr. P. O'Reilly

I move the adjournment of the debate.

Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.

Mr. P. O'Reilly

We have been listening to Senator Duffy's remarks in regard to this measure. I do not agree with the Senator when he suggests that this is the only measure for post-war planning which has been introduced into the House. Since I came in here—and I came in at the same time as Senator Duffy—the Transport Bill was debated very thoroughly. That was also the case in the Dáil. Surely, everybody will agree that the object of that measure was to reorganise and co-ordinate the transport system. I submit that that is a measure which proposes to deal with the post-war period. The Arterial Drainage Bill was generally welcomed here and in the Dáil.

I suggest that that is a measure which will apply to the post-war period. The Electricity (Supply) Bill also came before us. That is a measure which proposes to ensure that the electrical potentialities of our rivers will be developed. I do not think, therefore, that it is fair for Senator Duffy to suggest that the first measure introduced to deal with post-war problems is one which deals with racing, and is purely concerned with the gambler. Somehow, I got the impression that Senator Duffy thought that there was something wrong with the measure, that something wrong attached to racing in any form and to betting. I do not say that uncontrolled, injudicious or improper gambling is a good thing, but I think that everybody is inclined, now and again, to take a chance. That has been a characteristic of the Irish people. I suggest to Senator Duffy that if he knew sufficient history he would know that horse racing and dog racing are the oldest pastimes in this country. We had them long before we had any games. Surely, Senator Duffy has heard of Finn McCool racing Bran on the Hill of Allen. For that reason I fail to see Senator Duffy's point, because I really think that we must recognise the fact that people want that form of sport, and enjoy that form of sport. It is because that fact is recognised by the Minister that power is being given to the board to ensure that that sport will be carried on properly, and also to ensure that the horse-breeding industry, which is a very important branch of agriculture, will get every fillip through the window of horse racing, as Senator Sweetman put it. Racing is a means of advertising our horse-breeding industry.

Senator Duffy also referred to bookmakers, and apparently he does not like them. None of us likes bookmakers when we lose, but we are very friendly to bookmakers when we win. Senator Quirke also referred to bookmakers, and I agree with him that it would be a very bad thing, since apparently it is agreed that we must have racing, to eliminate the bookmaker. I am prepared to state that, with certain notable exceptions, such as the gentleman whom Senator Quirke was so unfortunate to meet, bookmakers in general are very decent men. Very often the better and the bookmaker make only a verbal contract, but in 99 cases out of 100 the bookmakers are prepared to honour such contracts.

I agree with Senator Quirke that it would remove a lot of glamour from racing if such well-known characters as I can envisage and whom I heard Senator Quirke describing—men who go to the Irish Derby with a cane, a hard hat and an umbrella—were eliminated. I do not think it is proposed to eliminate the bookmaker under this Bill, and if I thought it were, I would not support the Bill. When all is said and done, I am of opinion that the majority of bookmakers are businessmen carrying on bookmaking as a business and there must not be so much money in it as is suggested because, if there was, it is the business we would all be in, or at least those of us who are fond of money.

As regards the Bill generally, I am afraid Senator O'Donovan has stolen some of my thunder, but I think the Minister should have given some consideration to the fact that dog racing is also a very important industry in this country. While it may be argued that dog racing is purely a medium for gambling, I think we should agree at this stage that, just like horse racing for horses, it provides a means of showing how good a dog is, and in that way affords an opportunity to the dog owner to exhibit his wares. I think the day is coming when the same measure of control will have to be exercised over dog racing as over horse racing, and I think it a pity that provision is not made in this Bill to control dog racing. Anybody who knows anything about it at the moment will agree that the export of dogs forms just as important a part of our export trade as that of horses, and surely if there is going to be a comparative boom in dog sales, the injudicious or uncontrolled breeding of dogs will mean that we shall have inferior dogs, the result being that that branch of agriculture, which it really is, will suffer.

Some people say that the Bill will destroy the bookmaker, and others that it is going to destroy racing. Senator Foran says that he is not satisfied that 5 per cent. of his bets should go to the board. Many people, including apparently Senator Duffy, think that the bookmaker gets 100 per cent. of the punter's money, or at least 90 per cent. of the punter's money. The only thing I could gather from that is that Senator Foran is one of those happy people who manage to make money out of betting, and is annoyed because the 5 per cent., that is taken from him, will be paid to the board. Well, I do not think I can say that I have been as successful as Senator Foran in that regard. I am afraid that I would be amongst the 90 per cent.

When all is said and done, I think the Bill provides for a control that will ensure that the interests of racehorse owners will be looked after and that, as Senator Foran said, the small racehorse owners will get a measure of help that will enable them to carry on, and will also ensure that they will not have to export their animals until they are at the stage when they are of most value to the owners and to the community in general. We would all like to see the horse-breeding industry thriving, and we should not like to see these animals exported to China, Russia, or those other places that Senator Parkinson mentioned, or to England, or across the Dover Straits to France, until they would be at their highest value. From that point of view, I think the Bill will ensure that a measure of control will be exercised over racing and horse breeding that will make for the best interests of the horse-breeding industry.

There is one very limited aspect of this measure about which I should like to say a word or two. We have heard a good deal about the bookmaker and how he is threatened by this legislation. Personally, I have no objection to the bookmaker as he appears under this Bill; I mean the course bookmaker, who seems to be the under-dog in the Bill. I do strongly object, however, to the whole of the set-up which enables another class of bookmaker to exist, and that is the man who runs the betting shop. I think that these betting shops are the greatest moral evil in this country to-day. They are a temptation to people to gamble with money that they should provide for the support of their families. They are a temptation to people to use their employers' time to sneak away into these betting shops, which are often cunningly situated in side lanes, and make their bets in the hope of getting rich quickly. I have said before, and I say again, that I think the State incurs a grave moral responsibility in being privy to this iniquity and drawing a revenue to the extent, I understand, of £300,000 from what I do not hesitate to call this very immoral traffic. I do not use the word in the ordinary sense, but in the sense that it is a traffic which does grave moral harm to our people.

I agree with Senator Sir John Keane, and while I would strongly support the breeding of horses for export, or anything that would contribute to the advancement of agriculture or agricultural products here, I certainly say that these betting shops and betting, generally, are a degrading feature in this country. I hoped that in legislation it would be curtailed to such an extent that we would have a proper survey and a proper control over the betting shops that exist at the moment. I have no hesitation in saying, and I am sure that every member of this House will agree with me, that the jails and the asylums of our country, I am sorry to say, are overcrowded as a result, to a great extent, of the amount of money people have lost under the conditions that exist at present in regard to the betting shops and the bookmakers. Not alone that, but a number of young boys who have been sent to colleges at heavy expense on their parents have indulged in this gambling campaign with the result that they have been expelled from the colleges, to come home worn out and no good for anything. A number of people have taken out licences, and the licences were granted to them although a number of them—and I know some of them very well—were no good for themselves or anybody else, and it was just a harbour of refuge for them to be able to get a bookie shop in order to command the money of the poor unfortunate people of the country.

I have no complaint against the Bill beyond that, but I say that the Government of this country, and this House, should take particular note of the destruction that will be created if they allow the carrying on of these betting shops here, there, and elsewhere. We all know very well what it will lead to. Let us hope that the Government will take action immediately and see that the people who are prepared to take out a licence are people of good repute. Surely to goodness, we should encourage the youth of this country to live decently and not to be betting. It is bad enough to have them drinking, but surely it is worse to have them betting on horses and dogs.

I should also like to say a few words, much on the lines of the remarks of the two last speakers. As far as the Bill is concerned, I am in favour of anything that will help the agricultural community. I am always very much in favour of anything that will help our agricultural community. I want to say, first of all, that I have nothing against the bookmaker on the field. Every person who goes to a race meeting thinks it is all right to back a horse there, and I see no objection to that, but I definitely agree with the two previous speakers that the greatest crime ever committed against this country was to allow bookies' shops to be set up everywhere in the streets of our towns and cities, where people can go in and rob themselves. They go in with the best intentions, but what is the result? I am afraid that some Senators have not worked among the people as much as I have, but I have known of cases on more than one occasion where men drew their wages at 12 o'clock in the day, and that evening we had to go around and make up a collection to keep their wives and children from starvation. I have seen that happen on more than one occasion, and it certainly is deplorable to see people hanging around these betting shops trying to make money, which they never make. That is why I join with the two previous speakers, and while I am in favour of the Bill, in so far as it benefits the horse-breeding industry, seeks to control the export of horses, and so on, and am not against the bookmaker on the course, I am definitely, and will be even if I were alone, against the system that allows these betting shops in the streets of our towns and cities to sell something to somebody, where the only result is that he robs himself.

Before the Minister replies, I would like to add my views in support of the Bill. I am not in a position to deliver a prepared speech. I do not know if the Seanad wants to know where I was all day——

Assisting the Racing Bill.

As the Minister would say, putting it into practical shape. I was rather struck by the statement that our asylums were filled with the victims of racing and betting. Twenty years ago, it was my fortune to be chairman of a county which decided to embark on the erection of a mental home. I say mental home, because anyone who alludes to a mental home as an asylum is using an uncouth and uncultured description, completely out of step with the march of the times. It was during the Great War of 1914-1918. Some very learned people were called upon to give evidence at the time as to what were the chief causes which promoted mental deficiency. They were asked why it was that there was so much less mental deficiency during the Great War, and the reason was that the Great War provided sufficient excitement to keep mental deficiency down.

It was held actually that if we had more sports and plays, and more scenes and cinemas, and more small investments such as in dog racing, we would have better mental health in the lanes, bogs and idle valleys. Mark you, it is from these bogs and lanes and sparse areas of population that the highest percentage of mental deficiency comes. It is not from the towns, where the mind is occupied for most of the time. I am afraid that the arguments we have heard about racing and betting are not on solid grounds. An occupation of any sort is useful, because it keeps the mind busy, even such occupation as may be provided by the shovel and spade.

Where there is no occupation, such as in the homes of the poor in the bogs and on the hillsides, and where there is no excitement of any kind, it is bad for the mind of the individual. I would, therefore, favour an elaborate system of broadcasting racing, in its optimistic results as well as its depressing results, those depressing results which come to all of us, even to myself now and again. It would be much better for us to cultivate it instead of branding it as something immoral. Of course, we are a race which sometimes sees some immorality in everything. I recollect a time when a very learned lecturer, speaking in a leading town in my county, advanced long arguments against the growing of barley, on the ground that it was largely used for making beer, and that drink should be stopped. Similarly, we are now sometimes told that we should stop racing and betting.

I have two main reasons for supporting the Bill. One is that it is not always racing exactly as we know it that is of the greatest importance to the country. Recently, a number of important Bills have been brought forward. They should have been produced when we were engaged in the civil war. One of them is the Drainage Bill which will bring money to the country, and there are others which will, likewise, bring money to the country. It is not always remembered that every brood mare is in herself a factory, and the money earned by the brood mare is not the sweated money, the profit taken out of sweat which we get from some of our agricultural products, and the high price of which must come out of the home of the consumer. I feel sure that Senator Parkinson will agree with me that a good brood mare is one of the most attractive assets we have.

In some of our Dublin weekly papers you see references to Leopardstown, Baldoyle and the Curragh as something in the nature of a shop window. Of course, they are shop windows, and to say they are anything else is a cod. They are essential shop windows. Less than 20 years ago Senator Parkinson bought a horse by that Mullingar sire "Irishman." I happened to give £750 to a friend of mine for the said animal because it won one race. It went to India and it was a credit both to Parkinson and McGee and in brought us more sales for the progeny of "Irishman." The animal I refer to had only six months on oats when it won the race——

What about giving him barley?

Barley is a food which our good selves are more accustomed to take, particularly when it is brewed as beer. It is a luxury food. Oats is food for a horse, and even for ourselves, when we take it as porridge. Barley is on a higher plane and as it is a luxury food, it is not given to any one of us to keep down the price of it. To my mind, barley should be exploited in this State, not for the benefit of Guinness's Brewery alone, but for the benefit of the people. When we charge the people a good price for it, it enables me to pay my labourers a decent wage. For horses it is a dangerous food because they are too highly strung.

One of the advantages of having a vocational Seanad is that you can get men like Senator Parkinson and myself who know something about what we are talking. Barley is a sensitive food and may produce colic and other diseases if you take too much of it. I have said that racing is a shop window, an essential shop window. It enables us to have our national factories in the countryside in the shape of good brood mares, and the more we exploit them the better for ourselves.

When I say I want loyally to support the Bill, I do not want the Government, for instance, to think that I am doing it through reasons of necessity. Sometimes I find fault with the Minister and the Departments of State because of the way they run our affairs, but we must admit that our Irish citizens do not always display that quality of citizenship that we would desire. And so, we have county managers. I think we have had too many examples of inefficiency, particularly inefficiency in racing. Take one example, recently we had the biggest and the best race meeting held 50 miles away from Dublin beside a railway line on a Wednesday, a day on which there were no trains. On any other day, the trains could have been used to carry people to earn their livelihood, be they bookmakers or backers.

This is Ireland, and we have stewards in occupation of it. They could have fixed any day of the week besides the day of the Dublin market when certainly 50 per cent. of the supporters of Irish racing are in Dublin and another 50 per cent. would go by rail. Might I suggest to these stewards, whose learned names I have before me, that if they cannot do better than that they ought, like honourable men, retire from the job, and not be trying to run something which they are not competent to run? It is not that I wish to see the bookmakers abolished. The bookmakers have their fate in their own hands. If they go down, they go down with their own deeds on their heads. Let them stand up straight and meet the public, as most of the public meet them, and I have every confidence that they will survive. It will be the survival of the fittest, and why not? If they go down to save and improve Irish racing, for the benefit of all, then there is nobody to blame, but I do not believe that they will go down. Possibly they will, but their fate is in their own hands. Ill-management cannot be tolerated, and what I have said is on the evidence of men like James Clarke, of Ballybunion, and Dick Power. I am in the game 40 years, and there are no millionaires in horse racing. You are not going to become sudden millionaires such as the factory owners in Dublin.

I saw recently where one factory owner—I think his name was Walsh— said that the £6,000 or £7,000 he made was only a bagatelle. I do not know what he may have had 20 years ago but, whatever any of us had 20 years ago, you will not make much in racing. I do not think it is fair to say that those concerned are men who want to get rich quick. We want to live and to produce horses and, especially, produce them by good sires. When we see an owner come along and have a bet of £500 or £1,000 at times, I ask myself why has he to go so high? Surely it is because it is essential if he is to meet his charges. You will not get them out of the £100 stake in the race. They often have 50 or 60 persons employed, or 100, like my friend here, and they have got to keep them going. Racing must be kept going, and I am perfectly certain that, if the Dáil keeps its eye open, the Bill will be for the benefit of racing. Hence I am supporting it.

The House may be surprised to see me on my feet on this subject, because, of my own knowledge, I could not say whether this is a good Bill or a bad Bill. But I take the word of my friends Senator Quirke and Senator Parkinson, that it will serve a fairly important purpose, which is the improvement of horse breeding. I am interested as a student of history and, perhaps, the House will be glad and proud to know that horse breeding is the oldest industry in the country. Senator Parkinson, when he sent Irish horses abroad and spread the name of the Irish horse, had many predecessors. There were horse breeders and exporters in Ireland about 1,000 years ago. There was a time when, if you wanted to make an acceptable gift to a king, it was an Irish horse you gave. The Crusaders had Irish horses in Palestine, and so it is that Irish horse breeding has a long tradition and any Bill designed to secure a well-conducted racing industry—and the purpose of the Bill is to see that it is efficiently conducted—is bound to foster Irish industry. Even before the times to which I have referred in connection with the export of horses, we know horses were extraordinarily important in Ireland. Cuchulain had a horse, the Grey Macha, which went around Ireland in one day. St. Patrick was interested in horses because he had a very fine horse, not to speak of Brian Boru. We have proof in the oldest lives of St. Patrick about the export of dogs.

Perhaps I am wasting the time of the House, but the House may be glad to know that the export of dogs was an industry in Ireland and St. Patrick escaped in a boat which was, bearing a load of dogs from us. Before I leave that, I would like to say that I met some medieval wills which gave an extraordinarily clear picture of medieval social life. Amongst these, there was one which bequeathed horses. I was particularly interested to find that the horses were named. I may be taking up the time of the House unnecessarily but I think the Minister would be glad to know that he is doing in this Bill something that was, perhaps, done at the Feis at Tara in trying to improve horse breeding. Therefore he appears in a line of great planners for Ireland's benefit.

I do not think that any apology is due to anybody for the introduction of this Bill, even if it happened to be the very first planning Bill introduced here or in the other House. There would be nothing to be ashamed of in that. I entirely agree with Senator Mrs. Concannon in her brief and very learned discourse about horse-breeding as an industry. Probably, it is quite true that there is no older industry in the country and no industry that has brought more credit and renown to the country. As far as industry of any kind can bring credit and renown to the country I think horse breeding has done that, and anything that this House and the Oireachtas as a whole can do to help on that industry should be done with good will. I think it is the view of this House, or the greater part of it, so far as it has been vocal, that this Bill will help the horse-breeding industry. It is helping it by means of improving racing in the country. Those who are best qualified to speak on the subject—horse owners and horse breeders, racing men and agriculturists—and who have been consulted agree that no better method can be devised to help the horse-breeding industry than the method that is suggested here. I am not an authority on horse racing—far from it. With the possible exception of the Taoiseach— and I think he knows as much about this subject as I do—I am probably the most ignorant member of the Government on this subject. But I have studied all the material that was given to me on the matter when it was decided that I was—I almost used the word "victim"—to carry this burden. From my investigation and study of the matter—and I have very capable advisers in the Department—I am satisfied that the Bill is designed to help the horse-breeding industry.

From what I have learned from people with knowledge and experience —some of them with knowledge extending over many years of horse breeding and horse racing, and of the racing, shall I call it, profession, in general—I believe that this is the best way that can be devised to try to secure that when the hard times come again, as they almost certainly will, there will be some organisation in existence which will have perhaps a sum of money in reserve to help the racing and horse-breeding industry. Senator Foran, at any rate, was not very enthusiastic about the Bill, and his, shall I say, friend and colleague Senator Duffy——

Do not put me in that category.

I apologise.

The Minister's hook caught on there.

I apologise to the Senator. Senator Duffy certainly could see no good in the Bill, but I do not think, with all respect, that the opinion of Senator Duffy is of much value, because he confessed that he knew nothing about the subject.

Did not the Minister confess something the same?

I did, but I said I had made a very serious study of it. That is one strong difference between the Senator and myself. Like Senator Foran, I hope there is more than one. As regards the betting shops, I expressed my views here more than once in reply, I think, to Senator Sir John Keane, when he raised that subject here, as we all know he does at every available opportunity. I know he feels very strongly on it. I expressed my own views then, and do not propose to say anything on the subject now. I might be ruled out of order, even if others were not. At any rate, the legislation under which the betting shops are regulated at present was passed by the Oireachtas after a Joint Committee of the Dáil and Seanad had investigated the matter. I do not know how long they took to investigate it. They gave it, I presume, a thorough investigation, and they made certain recommendations. As a result of those recommendations, the Betting Act of 1931 was passed.

Presumably the Oireachtas as a whole felt that betting legislation was necessary. It was perhaps better, in their view, to have the betting shops than to have the unlicensed, illegal betting which was going on all over the city. Personally, that would not be my view, but that was the view of the Oireachtas. Some Senators evidently feel very strongly that that Act ought to be repealed. Well, it is a democratic country, and people who feel very strongly on those matters have ways and means of making their views known. If there are enough people who feel strongly enough about a matter of that kind, they certainly should be able to get the law amended to suit their views. There is no connection between the betting shops Act and the Bill which is now before the House.

Senator Sweetman praised the Bill, and I was glad to hear him on the subject. I understand that he is interested to some extent in horse breeding and horse racing, and that he has some knowledge on the subject. The views of people who have experience in the matter are certainly of value. The Senator made a suggestion about officials of the board being prohibited from betting. If it could be worked, I think that it probably would be a good idea, but that would be a matter primarily for the board. I do not think we ought to legislate for it; it is a matter for the board to deal with their own officials. But if the board did make such a regulation, would not the Senator agree that in very simple ways it would be open to those officials to get around or under or over the regulation, and that, while nominally the rule might be obeyed, in fact it would not be obeyed? I know, and others in this House I am sure are aware, that regulations have been made in certain quarters, for certain people in the community, against betting. I know that by some people those rules can be got under and over and around. Though I am sure the vast bulk of the people for whom those rules were made obey them, those who wish to break them can get around them pretty easily. I think the same would apply to these officials. However, it is a matter for the board.

And perhaps for the next day's discussion.

Senator Foran's first question was: "What is the Bill going to do for me as a racegoer?" As Senator Duffy has said, there is a considerable sum of money available for use by the board. In addition to the £50,000 available now—not quite £50,000 after the expenses are paid— the net sum after the 10 per cent. is taken off the bets made through the Totalisator, there will be £100,000 or perhaps £150,000 available for use by the board. There is set out in the Bill a variety of ways in which that money may be used. It may be used to improve the prizes offered at race meetings. It may be used directly as subsidies to horse breeders. Probably those will be amongst the first ideas—I do not know. We will have to wait and see what the board, when it is appointed, will think the wisest course to adopt. Eventually, I hope that the board will be able to reduce the cost of race-meetings both to those who run horses and to those who go to the meetings. Some Senator said to-day that £1 is the minimum entrance fee.

£1 is the maximum.

That is, if you want to go into the ring?

That is a considerable fee. Not many workmen could afford to pay £1 to go into the ring. I should like to see the day when the highest fee would be 5/-.

The sooner the better.

So that the ordinary workman with an afternoon off could spend it in the open air going round a racecourse. Though I have not adopted that method of recreation myself, I think that it is as good a method as any other. It has, in my opinion, an advantage over the spending of an afternoon in the cinema. I should much prefer to see people go out in great numbers, under the shadow of the Dublin hills, to Leopardstown, to seeing them going to cinemas. If they walked out and walked back, it would be all the better. I should not be a bit upset by the complaint by Senator Sweetman about the difficulty of getting alcoholic refreshment. It would not worry me.

As Minister for Finance, it would.

I think that we could manage to live without the money we get from that source. That is one of the things that the Racing Bill, through the instrumentality of the Racing Board, may do for race-goers, such as Senator Foran. I want to see racing successful. It is a manly, interesting sport. There is no reason why anybody should be ashamed to admit that he goes to race meetings. One can go to a race meeting and never put a shilling on a horse, while, at the same time, getting enjoyment. I do not know what percentage of people who go to race meetings make bets, but there must be a considerable number who never put any money on horses. They are entitled to have that type of amusement if they so desire. I want to secure that racing will not go through the hardships which it went through in the period from 1926 to 1935. On numerous occasions, the crowd which attended would not justify the holding of a meeting and the number of horses entered would not provide a thrill for anybody. I am told that it often happened that there were walks-over. We do not want that to happen again. That is not the type of advertisement we seek for our horse-breeding industry.

Senator Foran raised a question as to officials having powers of inspection. Under quite a number of Acts, powers of a similar kind are given to officials. Not to pass outside my own Department, the Revenue authorities have all the powers which are proposed to be given to officials by this Bill. It is not proposed that officials should have power to demand documents or books anywhere but in the registered premises of the bookmaker. That question was threshed out in considerable detail in the Dáil and I refer the Senator to the discussion which took place there. He will, probably, be interested in it and may be enlightened by it. I did think, at an early stage, that if a bookmaker had no registered premises, if his only place of business was on the course and if he used his home for the acceptance of bets over the 'phone, that would render his house liable to entry. I am told that, in law, that cannot be done. His private residence cannot, in such circumstances, be entered under the powers proposed to be given by this Bill. His place of business—the racecourse—is the only place where his books can be investigated.

Senator Quirke referred to the publicity done for Irish horses by the Bloodstock Breeders' and Horse Owners' Association. The board to be set up will have power to help publicity by providing funds and I imagine that that is one of the earliest things they will do. If the association requires further assistance in connection with any pamphlets, books or other publicity matter at present being produced by them, I am sure the board will be happy to help them and will also help to make more widespread the circulation of such literature as becomes available. Senator Foran mentioned that the Tote deduction at present averages more than 10 per cent. It does. There is some difficulty in making that 10 per cent. an absolute figure. I do not think that it can be done. In England, they tried to pay the betters down to 1d. but found it impracticable. They now pay the nearest figure to 3d.

They pay to 1d.

That is not my information.

I am going by the Press up to Saturday last.

My information is that they pay to the nearest 3d. They had great trouble in trying to bring it down. From time to time, there have been discussions among the members of the Totalisator Board on this question. The majority view of the board seems to have satisfied the public in general. At all events, we have not heard complaints about it. The Irish totalisator pays to the nearest 6d. The percentage goes over ten and they gain a few thousand pounds a year as a result. That is a question that can be raised again with the board. The Senator will, probably, know some of the members of the board, and if he is interested and raises the point with them, I am sure that they will give it serious consideration.

Senator O'Donovan asked if point-to-point races would be brought within the ambit of the Bill. Point-to-point races, as distinct from what I am told are known as "flapper" races, will be brought within the ambit of the Bill, because they are authorised by the governing bodies. There will be, perhaps, some difficulty about the levy, but Senators will find that we provide in the Bill that where there is no enclosure, bookmakers carrying on business in the vicinity of a race meeting will be covered by the Bill, so that these people who are anywhere within the vicinity of the race meeting and making bets on what might be called the course, will be brought within the ambit of the law and will have to pay the levy.

Senator O'Dea talked about the necessity of having good sires in this country to promote the horse-breeding industry. I agree that not alone should we have good sires, but that we should have the best that can be got. If we go into this business, we should go into it thoroughly, and see that there is no better sire anywhere than Ireland can produce. I was very interested in the account Senator Parkinson gave of his experience, and delighted to hear of his personal success as an exporter of horses which made a good name for himself and Ireland in so many countries abroad. I was pleased also to hear Senator Parkinson speak well of the Bill. I think that in this House as a whole, or outside it, there is nobody who is known more widely as a man connected with racing and horse-breeding, and his opinion should certainly carry weight on any subject relating to Irish horses. He has been connected with the Totalisator Board from the beginning. I do not know whether the Senator was here when I expressed the deep gratitude of the Government to the Totalisator Board for the excellent services they rendered to the country, to horse racing and to horse breeding by their efficient work in making the Totalisator such a success. I should like, as Senator Parkinson was one of those who did that work and gave their time freely to it, to address these remarks personally to him.

I should like to tell Senator Quirke that I hope, as a result of making racing more profitable and more prosperous, the small meetings to which the Senator referred in different parts of the country—they were mostly in the south but there may have been some in the midlands and in the west, too—will be revived. It would be all to the good of horse breeding that that should happen.

When the Bill was under discussion in the Dáil, there was a good deal of talk in reference to bookmakers and some references have been made to them here to-day also. There was an opinion expressed by some people who have experience in horse breeding that bookmakers should be abolished. There was even a proposal—I understand that it was supported by one well-known bookmaker—that the Racing Board should issue licences only to bookmakers at present living, that no others should get them and that when the present bookmakers died out, bookmaking should also die out. That view has not been adopted. It is not the Government's wish and, as I understand it, it is not the wish of the vast majority of people who are interested in racing. They desire that the bookmaker should continue to be allowed to practise his profession. The levy will be a source of trouble to them admittedly, but I think the vast majority of bookmakers will observe the law and operate it honestly and loyally. There may be some who will try to evade it; you have that in the case of many laws at all times, but there is no intention to injure the bookmaker. If the bookmakers look at the question as I should like to see them looking at it, they will see that if this Bill is a success and if the board is a success, it will bring grist to their mill because it will make racing more popular, more people will attend racecourses and there will be greater opportunities for them to make money. It will be a trouble unquestionably to deduct the levy. I am sure they would rather not have to do it, but if it is eventually for their good as well as for the good of the industry which gives them their living, they should abide by it loyally and it will not injure them.

Question put and agreed to.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

When is it proposed to take the next stage?

In a fortnight's time, if the House is sitting on Thursday fortnight.

The Seanad will sit on Wednesday and Thursday but the only chance of getting the Minister to come would be late on Wednesday, or on Thursday of that week as I understand the Budget will be on.

Would there be any objection to giving the remaining stages now?

I have put in amendments, but I have no objection to discussing them to-morrow.

Why not take them to-morrow?

I think there might be no difficulty in taking the Bill to-morrow. The number of amendments will be very few.

Very good, if the House agrees.

I would suggest that if we are going to sit next week, we shall probably pass the Second Stage of the Mental Treatment Bill to-morrow, and we shall then probably adjourn the remaining stages to Wednesday and the Minister could come on Thursday.

I suggest that we fix the Committee Stage for the first meeting of the Seanad after this week, and we can decide outside what day we shall take it.

Agreed: That the Committee Stage be fixed for the first meeting of the Seanad after this week.