On this section, I suggest that there are certain errors here, if I understand the definitions at all. I refer, in the first instance, to line 44, on page 3, where reference is made to "course-betting permit". I think that the section to which that refers is Section 24, and not Section 23. Again, on the next page, page 4, in line 7, there is a definition attaching to the word "levy", stated to be in Section 26. I think that that is not correct, and that the section is 27. In line 36, page 3, reference is made to "governing bodies". The phrase used is: "The expression ‘authorised racecourse' means a racecourse at which race meetings are held with the sanction of either or both of the government bodies." There is a definition for "government body" near the top of page 4, but there is nothing about governing bodies. I suggest that these are errors.
Racing Board and Racecourses Bill, 1945—Committee.
It seems to me that the Senator is right in the first two points he makes. I am not certain about the last one, but I shall have it looked into.
It is a good thing the Senator discovered it.
If each of two governing bodies is a governing body, then I suggest that they are governing bodies.
I am not sure, but that title is used later on. Do I understand that these errors will be made right?
I think that they are errors, and if it is found that they are, I shall have them corrected. At least, two of them seem to me to be incorrect.
The necessary amendments could be brought forward on Report Stage.
I am quite satisfied, once the matter is examined. I am not making any point about it.
Thanks very much, Senator.
I move amendment No. 1:—
In sub-section (4), after the word "board" in line 37, to insert the words "and for every annual meeting"; and after the word "meeting" in line 38, to insert the words and brackets "(other than an annual meeting)".
There was a good deal of discussion, I think the Minister will agree, in the other House as to the appropriate quorum of the board and as to the powers of delegation of the duties of the board to a committee. I am entirely in agreement with the Minister that it is very desirable to delegate powers to committees of the board, but I do not think it is too much to suggest that at the annual meeting, at which the whole policy of the board will be framed, there should be a fully representative attendance.
I hardly think it is necessary to accept this amendment. I think that at an important meeting such as the one suggested it is certain that, if it is humanly possible, all the members of the board will make an effort to be present. It might happen, although it is unlikely, that for some reason, such as the fact that there might be an important race meeting being held on the day fixed for the meeting of the board, you might get six instead of seven members present and then have to postpone the meeting. I think the Senator should leave the section as it stands.
I do not feel very strongly about it.
I move amendment No. 2:—
To delete sub-section (2).
I do not quite understand why the Minister wants to take power, through the first five years only, to sanction any appointment. It appears to me that there might be a case, though I would not agree with it, for the Minister to take that power during the whole currency of the board's power, but it seems to me to be clear that there is no logical reason why, during the first five years, he would have a power of veto, and not afterwards. Having set up the board and entrusted it with carrying out the job or duties allotted to it by this Bill, I think that, while the Minister has retained power to approve or withhold his approval of the purposes to which money is to be devoted, within those limits the board should be allowed to carry on their duties without any question of Ministerial veto or approval, and more particularly than anything else in connection with the appointment of officials to that board.
I wonder whether this sub-section should await sub-section (2). There is a reference in the sub-section to the chief officer of the board, and it appears to me that as this reference arises again in Section 20 there ought to be some indication in the Bill as to what is meant by "chief officer". Is it the secretary, the chairman, or the accountant, or what exactly is meant? I have no idea what might be regarded as the chief officer of a board of this kind, but, as I say again, it arises in Section 20, and I think there should be some indication as to what the Minister has in mind when he refers to the chief officer.
I had in mind the secretary of the board. He might be called by some other title; he might be called chief officer, but he would be the chief, responsible, paid official of the board. That is the intention. Now, as to the purpose of taking this power that is sought in sub-section (2). In the first draft of this Bill that I saw it was suggested that the official should be a civil servant, and I did not like that. Then it was sought that no official could at any time be appointed without the Minister's sanction or approval, and I resisted that. I said that if we are setting up this board we ought to put confidence in them, and give them the right to select their own officials free of any control, but after a good deal of discussion I agreed to this sub-section on the grounds that there must be close relationship, at any rate, for a number of years, until the new board's work is familiar to everybody, between the chief official and the officials of the Department of Finance. The question of the levy will give rise to regulations and a variety of statutory regulations will have to be made. It would be necessary, therefore, to secure that there would be harmony of working between the officials in charge of the betting tax for the Revenue Department and those working this new levy, and though I would much rather have the board completely free to do its own work in its own way, I was convinced of the necessity of securing, at any rate for the few years at the beginning — five years was suggested as a maximum— that the chief officer of the board at least and probably the other officials under him—those at any rate who would have anything to do with the betting licences and permits, and the implementation of whatever rules will be made to enforce the levy —should work hand in hand with the officials of the Revenue Department. It is to make that certain that we seek to have this power. I think it is a necessary power, and that it will prove to the bettor, as well as to the Government, a very satisfactory method of working. After five years, I take it, the levy system will work smoothly, and I do not think it will be necessary to make this section operative for longer than that term.
May I put a point to which Senator Sweetman has not adverted? The Bill requires that the Minister for Finance should approve of the first appointments to the board for five years.
The suggestion in the section is that the officer's qualifications should have the approval of the Department of Finance. There is the implication also that a Parliamentary Question may be addressed to the Minister for Finance regarding the qualifications, and if the appointments can be the subject of questions, we must also assume that they may be raised in debate. On the whole, I do not think that it is a bad system so far as the first appointments are concerned. As a matter of fact, I have always been interested, as an educationist to whom people come in search of avenues of employment. I am anxious to see a provision which will ensure that every young, or for that matter, mature person, will get a fair crack of the whip from the Minister when posts are to be filled. Therefore, I think this scheme is not a bad one. It means the persons appointed will have to secure the approval of the Minister for Finance, and that the Minister will have to stand over the appointments, if he is called upon to do so, after the appointments—not a bad thing. I hope the principle will be carried out further, although I know there are all kinds of practical difficulties regarding the other appointments.
I move amendment No. 3:—
To add to the section a new sub-section as follows:—
(4) No authorised officer of the board shall, either directly or indirectly, enter into any course bet either on his own behalf or on behalf of any other person. The board shall summarily dismiss any such authorised officer guilty of any infringement of this sub-section.
I mentioned this matter on the Second Reading, and the Minister, I think, is in entire agreement with the principle that authorised officers should not under any circumstances be allowed to bet, but on that occasion he did not think it was desirable that the principle should be enshrined in the Act. If the Minister reflects, he will agree with me on the matter that the Act itself establishes the principles under which the betting system will work. I know that it may be extraordinarily difficult to ensure that the sub-section I suggest is carried out, but it should be there as a principle and as a headline at which the board should aim. It is common gossip at the present time that, notwithstanding any regulation that may exist in the governing bodies, jockeys do bet, and I think that the Minister's inference on the last occasion was that no matter what stipulation we make in the Act, it would be difficult to prevent authorised officers from entering into course bets.
I want to make it perfectly clear that if an authorised officer does enter into a course bet, he is contravening the conditions under which he accepted his position, and that if he is detected, he will automatically suffer the penalty provided. What I am afraid of is that an authorised officer will get into the books of a bookmaker and that he will use his position—blackmail is the word —to prevent that bookmaker from obliging him to pay his just debts.
If that authorised officer knew that on a disclosure of his betting transactions, he would lose his position— regardless of the personal feelings of the members of the board towards him —he would not have the same hold over the bookmaker which otherwise he would have under the terms of the Bill at present.
I feel that it would be utterly impossible to prevent any man from having a bet whenever he likes, and Senator Sweetman ought to know that as well as I know it. The problem could be well left to the board itself.
But is not that going to be just as hopeless?
It is, but putting it into legislation where you cannot apply it is only going to make the law somewhat ridiculous. You know that a man can get a pal to put his money on for him, and I think it will be a grave mistake to put provisions in the law which could not be carried out. Any such provisions can be got over by a person arranging with his wife or with a friend to put on the bets for him. I think it is very inadvisable to enshrine such provisions in the law.
Senator Foran has said mostly what I wanted to say. Usually Senator Sweetman is pretty logical, but I am afraid he has not been logical in this matter. There is nothing to prevent a man from telling his wife, or his friend, to put on a bet on his behalf. It would be much more logical to go the whole hog and direct everyone connected with racecourses not to bet.
I am interested only in the officials who have the job of supervising bookmakers.
But you might as well apply it to everybody on the racecourses.
I hold that the case of an authorised officer is different.
I think that the suggestion is not workable. The idea is not a bad one, but we must bear in mind that it is one that you cannot enforce. If you make any effort to enforce it, it can be suggested that you are making some new kind of outlaw, and I do not think that it would be a wise idea for us to adopt at all.
I had intended to reply, but the arguments I had to offer were somewhat on the same lines as those of Senator Foran and Senator Quirke. We discussed the matter the other day on the Second Stage, and since then my advisers have put up to me another argument. That argument is that it will be necessary for the officials of the board to make test bets. Some officials will have to make test bets, so that we may see that the law in regard to the levy is carried out. Therefore, it will be entirely wrong to make a rule in the law that the officials should not bet.
I do not want to interrupt the Minister, but do I understand that authorised officers are to be empowered to make test bets?
That is the position. I have nothing further to add except to say that I think that if we put the amendment into the law we will be bringing the law into contempt eventually. I do not think that a law of that kind could be enforced, and therefore it would be unwise to enact.
I must confess that I am somewhat alarmed at the suggestion that these authorised officers are to be empowered to make test bets. That suggests that some of them are going to beagents provocateurs, and I am afraid I will have to oppose it at a later stage. I must decline to agree to any such proposal, although I feel that it will be difficult to make an amendment workable. However, I ask the Minister to advise the board to make it a condition of employment, or something of that nature, that authorised officers should not bet. I think that if the Minister is going to sit down deliberately with the intention of authorising officers to make what are euphemistically called “test bets”, and to continue the work which may, perhaps, be found necessary, but which is extraordinarily dangerous, of the Department of Supplies inspectors, he is introducing a bad principle in our legislation. In justice to the bookmakers, I feel bound to discuss Part III of the Act in a very different way. That is the part of the Act in which these officers are given absolute power. I hope the Minister was not visualising exactly what he said.
Whatever the Seanad may think, I have to stand over what I said, and I am informed that the system of making test bets is the only reliable way of getting certain information, and it is proposed that authorised officers should carry out such duties under the Act so as to test the validity of the accounts rendered by the bookmakers and the position with regard to the levy.
May I, in ignorance of the attitude of the Revenue Commissioners, ask what will happen if a test bet is successful?
If it is successful, I think that the revenue authorities will see that they get their cash.
I think that if any test of the accounts is necessary at all, it should be made by the authorised officers. They should have the right to make bets. Even the average man, let him be Senator Sweetman, Senator Hayes or myself, makes a bet——
We set a good example.
But we are always slow to reveal our intentions, and as long as human nature remains as it is there will have to be tests.
Amendments Nos. 4 and 5 are in my name:—
4. In sub-section (1), immediately after the word "may" in line 20, to insert the words "after complying with the provisions of sub-section (5) of this section and"
5. To add to the section a new subsection as follows:—
(5) Before establishing any new racecourse under this section, the board shall publish in a newspaper circulating in the locality where it is proposed to establish such new racecourse, notice of its intention so to do and shall consider any objections that may be made to such establishment by the owner or management of any existing authorised racecourse.
The amendments can be taken together.
I move amendment No. 4. In these amendments I had the view that the board might set up rival racecourses. The purpose is to secure that they cannot do this without complying with certain formalities. I feel that the managements of existing courses should know the intentions of the board, and be given an opportunity to make representations. I am not wedded to the principle of the amendments, and I will welcome the views of the Minister, if he has any other method in view of carrying out my objectives.
I had in mind that this is a permissive power that will probably never be required, but if it happened that there was a racecourse which was being very badly managed and the executive of the course could not be convinced that their services were not those that should normally be expected from such a board, the board should have power and authority to go to the executive and say: "If you do not do what you ought to do, we shall start a course in the vicinity." I think it is very unlikely that such a power would have to be used, but we are putting it into the Bill in case it becomes necessary.
But, at the same time, all these gentlemen who are on the Racing Board will probably be people who know each other very well and will be associated one way or the other. I expect they will be practical people and that this proposal will be in the Act only as a precaution. I feel that it is very unlikely that it will ever happen, bearing in mind the types of people associated with racing. I am sure that it will not happen.
I hope it will not happen, but is there any real objection to the amendment? I do not suggest that any executive would be so stupid as to run counter to the wishes of the board in the best interests of racing, but what I want to secure is that every executive will have an opportunity of putting up its case. I would be strongly opposed to a suggestion that anybody other than the board should make a final decision. It is possible, for example, that somebody might think that he or they were able to run Punchestown races better than they are being run.
Or the Kildare Hunt.
The board might want to set up new racecourses and it would be only fair that the executive of Punchestown or any other place should have an opportunity of expressing its views. It may be inappropriate that this matter should come under discussion during the days of Punchestown.
It does seem unfortunate, but I do not think it is anybody's fault.
I do not think the Minister can really have any objection to the amendments.
Could we not hear them? The aim of the amendment is to limit the power of the board to interfere with the executive.
I do not think it is fair to imply that people on the board will not be responsible, and will not be interested in the racing future of this country. I think that the fact that the clause is there will go a long way to influence the work of the board. If the clause was not there there would be very little protection against, for instance, some fellow running a racecourse going "crackers". I think that the clause is an essential safeguard.
How is the amendment going to prevent the board from losing its senses?
There is a general principle in this. Every Government measure starts off on the assumption thatex hypothesi the board to be set up under any Act is going to be an excellent board. Ever since 1922 I have heard that case being made. The Minister in charge of the Bill feels that it is going to be a grand board because he is going to appoint it himself. Senator Quirke thinks that it is going to be perfectly just and do no harm to anybody and that, therefore, you need have no proviso for safeguarding individuals.
But there may be people who think that a racecourse executive may be slightly "crackers".
And they may not be far wrong.
Should there not be some protection for the individual, too, even if he is "crackers"?
I know nothing whatever about the merits of this business, but listening to the Minister and to Senator Sweetman, and accepting what they say as being right, I can see no objection to this amendment, except the objection I have stated before, namely that this is a grand tidy Bill drawn up by the Department, and that it would be very improper to sully it with any kind of amendment. That applies to this Bill and to dozens of other Bills. In other cases the case is made by supporters of the Minister who say: "Surely, you do not think that the Minister would do an injustice." Then the case is made by the Minister in favour of the board. The Minister says: "Surely, you do not think the board would do an injustice," but human beings, when they are given power are inclined to be impatient of opposition. I hope the Minister is not right. Possibly he is when he argues that all these people are so interwoven that whatever the board is doing is bound to be known to those against whom they are going to take action. That is an extraordinary argument.
I think it would be unbusinesslike of the board to attempt to establish a new racecourse where a racecourse is already in existence.
I do not think they would do it. Certainly I do not think any board of moderately sensible men would do it. I have no idea who are going to be on the board. I have kept strictly away from that up to the present.
I can supply the Minister with a few names, and I am quite outside racing.
I would be glad to get them.
They will have to be people with a knowledge of the subject.
I do not think the board is likely to establish or to attempt to establish a racecourse in the vicinity of an existing course. If they had any such intention it would not be long before that would become known to the proprietors of the racecourse. The racecourse executive would have a representative on the board. Surely that would make the matter known to them in advance. What would the representatives be on the board for but to look after their interests? My main argument against the amendment is that it is quite unnecessary.
Amendment put and negatived.
I want to draw attention at line 30 to the reference to the chief officer of the board. This is a matter of some importance, because in legal proceedings under this section a document purporting to be a copy of any regulation made by the board is to be certified to be a true copy by the chairman of the board or by the chief officer of the board. Who is that person? It is clearly not the chairman. I think there should be some definition of what the Minister means by "chief officer," a term which is used here two or three times.
I have already told the House what my idea of the chief officer is, and I do not think I can add anything to what I have said.
The Minister said he thought the chief officer would be the secretary. If he is going to have his secretary chief officer I think the wording should refer in the Bill itself to the secretary, and not to the words "chief officer." Otherwise, supposing I, as a solicitor, get a regulation signed by "so and so," Secretary of the Racing Board, I have no way of telling that this is the chief officer.
It will have to be signed, secretary, chief officer.
The only method is that the proper designation of the officer should be "chief officer," but that is a very awkward phraseology. Would not it be better for the Minister to do what was suggested?
I agree with the suggestions made by Senator Duffy and by Senator Sweetman. There must be a definition of "chief officer" if you are going to use that word, otherwise it would be better to use the word "secretary". I prefer that the word "secretary" should be used, because this will be a limited company and any document will have to be served on the secretary. Perhaps the Minister will look into that.
It may be that there might be some doubt as to the word "chief officer". I imagine that the chief officer of the board may be so called, as that is the phraseology in the Bill, but he would normally act as secretary to the board.
Is there any objection to put in the definition that the expression "chief officer" means the person appointed to hold that office? That would settle the whole matter.
It may be necessary to do that.
I cannot see that it matters at all. The secretary of a county committee of agriculture is called the chief officer and I do not think anybody sees any difference.
That title is defined in the Act.
There must be some reason for going away from the ordinary phraseology and we would like to hear what it is. The Minister cannot give it to us at this stage, but he may be able to give it later.
I do not mind what the purpose is. All I am anxious about is that when this Bill leaves this House we will not be told it was slovenly drawn.
I will look into the matter.
It will probably be called other names besides that one.
On the last stage, Senator Foran discussed the levies made by the board which we are dissolving under Part IV. It was suggested by him that the percentage was fixed at 10 per cent., and that in addition the board took all broken money. I think it is a fact that under the regulations the board gross up and gross down.
I suggest that the Senator should read the regulations. I have done so. If the amount were worked out to the last farthing to be 2/5¾, the board would pay 2/6; if it is under the amount, it is grossed down to the nearest round figure. The impression left by Senator Foran here— I know he still feels it is correct, but I think it is wrong—was an unfair one.
Senator Sweetman is only emphasising the point. The law lays down 10 per cent. Through the board's regulations you can actually lose your money without having a chance of winning. Senator Sweetman contends that the amount is grossed up as well as down. There is a big margin between 2/- and 2/6. They have all that.
They have, of course. They never pay 3d. I do not want to labour the point, but I know what I am talking about.
I am afraid, in the circumstances, I think the Senator does not. That is the difficulty.
I only hope the Minister will ensure that, whatever the percentage is in the new regulations, it will be adhered to. That is all I want him to do.
The fact is that, if the exact odds would be 2/4, the board pays 2/6. If the exact odds would be 2/2, the board pays 2/-. Therefore, what you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts.
They do not pay 2/3.
Again, we have the phrase "governing bodies." I suggest that it is incorrect. It is in line 37. The sub-section says that "the board may report such contravention to the stewards of the governing bodies." I suggest that that is incorrect, and that the proper phraseology there would be: "The board may report such contravention to the appropriate governing body." You have that in the definition section. Furthermore, to show the carelessness with which this Bill has been drafted, I would refer to the first line in sub-section (4) of Section 40 which says: "If the board are of opinion." Everywhere else in this Bill, the board is referred to as "it"—"where it is of opinion". The words there should be: "If the board is of opinion; not "if the board are of opinion."
There are two bodies, I understand, that have control of racing—the Turf Club and the National Hunt Steeplechase Committee.
I do not like to interrupt the Minister, but I want to save him time, because it seems to me that he has missed my point, and it is probably my fault. At the top of page 4, the expression, "governing body" is defined as meaning "any body being (a) the Irish Turf Club, or (b) the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee." That is my difficulty—that the expression "governing body" is defined to mean either (a) or (b), and it is incorrect to use later on the expression "governing bodies" which is not defined.
I am afraid there is something in what Senator Duffy says. The section says that the board may report to the governing bodies. That would mean to the two.
"To the appropriate governing body" was what I suggested.
I am referring to the wording in the Bill: "The board may report such contravention to the stewards of the governing bodies". According to that reading it would have to report to both bodies. I do not think that is the intention.
It might happen that there would have to be a report made to both bodies. I am informed that it sometimes happens that a race meeting would be run under the authority of both bodies simultaneously.
Then there might be two decisions. That would be probable. I think you must have one authority to decide—not two.
With regard to another point in connection with the definition of "governing body," raised I think by Senator Duffy, the singular includes the plural, and the matter is covered by the Interpretation Act.
I suggest in that case that the Minister's advice is wrong, because the Interpretation Act of 1937 says that that Act applies to any legislation passed after the Constitution. The 1923 Act applies to legislation passed before the Constitution.
I do not think there is any doubt that Senator Duffy is completely right on this section, and that the section as drafted is wrong. There would be no necessity, for example, to refer anything that happened at a purely flat race meeting at the Curragh to the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee; equally, there would be no necessity to refer anything that might happen at Punchestown to the Turf Club. The proper wording is that suggested by Senator Duffy.
I expected more from Senator Sweetman. He said it could not possibly occur that a person would offend under both sets of rules. Has he never heard of a jockey riding over hurdles and over the flat?
If Senator Foran had been listening more attentively he would have heard me say, "a purely flat race meeting at the Curragh". Perhaps he does not appreciate that that excludes hurdles.
A jockey may ride over the flat who is in the habit of riding over hurdles. Therefore, both bodies would be concerned. That would occur at the "purely flat race meeting at the Curragh" mentioned by Senator Sweetman. I could mention a number of jockeys who ride over both.
This section refers only to the executives. Senator Foran did not read it, so he cannot appreciate that.
We are not now dealing with a matter relating to the principle of the Bill. It is a question of getting the correct method of expressing an idea and that is a technical matter. I do not claim that I am correct in my contention but it occurs to me that the phraseology is wrong. I put that to the Minister, who has more experience than I have, and who told me on Second Reading that he had given more study to the Bill and had experts to advise him.
I move amendment No. 6:—
After Section 40 to insert the following new section:—
41. (1) On receipt of a complaint from a trade union representing the employees of a racing establishment or of an authorised racecourse that the rates of wages paid to such employees or the conditions of their employment are unsatisfactory the board shall cause an inquiry to be held concerning the facts of such complaint and the board are hereby authorised to take such steps as may to them seem proper for the purpose of instituting such inquiry and securing the attendance thereat of witnesses and the production of documents.
(2) On the conclusion of the inquiry mentioned in the next preceding sub-section of this section the board shall make and transmit to the proprietor of the racing establishment concerned in such inquiry or the executive of the authorised racecourse, as the case may be, a recommendation in such form as may to them seem proper relating to the matters inquired into.
(3) If the proprietor of the racing establishment or the executive of the authorised racecourse to whom the recommendation mentioned in this section is addressed fails to give effect to such recommendation within a reasonable time it shall be competent for the board—
(a) in the case of the proprietor of a racing establishment to exclude from every raceourse in respect of which they exercise jurisdiction until the terms of the recommendation have been complied with any horse owned, trained or entered as a competitor by such proprietor, or
(b) in any other case, to prohibit until the terms of the recommendation are complied with, the holding or promoting of a race meeting on any racecourses owned, leased or operated by the executive aforesaid.
(4) The expenses incurred by the board in giving effect to the provisions of this section shall be a charge on the funds of the board.
The claim that this amendment makes is a modest one. It claims that, where it is brought to the notice of the board that the conditions of service of employees are unsatisfactory, the board will have power to make an investigation and that, having received a report following the investigation, they should have power to make recommendations to the parties concerned, whether the proprietor of a racing establishment or the executive of a racecourse. Nothing is suggested as to what are reasonable conditions, reasonable hours or reasonable wages. This board will be selected because of its competence to deal with matters affecting racing and the live-stock industry. They will be experts, so far as the Minister can make them experts, and may, therefore, be regarded as people who will take a broad view of the issues brought to their notice. There is no suggestion of importing an outside authority into the matter. There is no suggestion that the Minister himself should intervene in relation to the conditions of employment. The amendment is carefully drafted so as to exclude any outside interference, leaving it entirely to the board to judge, after investigation, as to the reasonableness or otherwise of the complaints made—and not made by individuals but by a trade union representative of the parties concerned. I do not make any allegations or assertions in relation to the conditions of employment. I have been told that the conditions in certain cases are extremely bad, and I read a report of proceedings in a court of justice within the past four or five months in which the district justice expressed considerable amazement at the information given him at the trial regarding a young lad employed in connection with racing.
I may be permitted to read what Senator Parkinson said on this subject when the Second Reading Stage of the Bill was under discussion here on the 18th instant:—
"As regards the stable boys of 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."
I would draw attention to two points only in that statement. I do not want to argue this matter with Senator Parkinson, who knows the facts. I am not challenging them. There are, however, two points to which I would draw attention. One is that the wages of stable boys are 100 per cent. better than they were in 1937. We do not know what that means because we do not know what the wages were in 1937. If they were 1/- a week in 1937, a present wage of 2/- would represent an increase of 100 per cent. If they were 5/- in 1937, 100 per cent. increase would bring them to 10/-, which some of us would consider very low. The second point to which I want to refer is that Senator Parkinson was alluding only to stable boys. This amendment refers to more than stable boys. It refers to the employees of a racing establishment or of the executive of any authorised racecourse. That, I assume, would mean all kinds of employment within the jurisdiction of the executive of an authorised racecourse or of a racing establishment. When legislation is being put through this House to promote the interest of bloodstock, I urge the Minister not to omit the human beings who are to be employed in connection with this industry. If I were endeavouring to insert an amendment which would involve a great deal of red tape and the enforcement of which would impose a burden on the Minister's Department, I could understand his resisting it. I do not think that he can raise that objection now. I urge him very strongly to have this amendment, or an equivalent amendment, written into the Bill before it leaves this House.
I do not propose to accept this amendment. We are not dealing with racing establishments as such, in this Bill. I take it that a racing establishment would be a trainer's establishment. We are not dealing with those and there is no power in the Bill to interfere with them. They are the property of individuals and we are not giving the board power to examine into their affairs. We are, of course, giving the board power to examine into the affairs of authorised racecourses. I hope that, as a result of the influence of the board and the moneys which will be put at their disposal, racing will, in the future, be put on a much more prosperous basis. I should, certainly, be very disappointed if the workers employed in the racing business—I refer now to those employees of racecourse bodies with whom the new board will have authority to deal—did not share in the general prosperity.
There would not be much satisfaction for them in the success of racing under the new Act, when it is passed, if they did not see some profit accruing to themselves out of the general prosperity of what, perhaps, I could call the industry as a whole, but there is a way of dealing with measures relating to conditions of employment. There are certain laws in existence through which matters of that kind can be brought to the attention of the Minister concerned with these matters, who is the Minister for Industry and Commerce, and I think that that would be the proper mode of approach for the employees of the racecourses, if they have grievances—and I am sure they have—to have their grievances raised. I do not think the Racing Board would be an appropriate authority to deal with the matters raised by Senator Duffy, and I do not, therefore, propose to accept the amendment.
I want to make only two observations in reference to what the Minister has said. Firstly, I think the Minister is probably in error in saying that the Bill is not concerned with the proprietors of racing establishments. I notice that in Section 16 provision is made for the carriage of horses to race meetings. Surely, that is using the money of the board to assist the proprietors of racing establishments. I do not know very much about the bookkeeping part of these transactions but it seems to me, at any rate, that if the board is entitled and authorised under this Bill to use its funds to assist those concerned with the ownership of racehorses, it is not unreasonable to ask the board to concern itself with the conditions under which the persons employed in these establishments are working.
Secondly, the Minister, I think, misunderstands the powers of the Minister for Industry and Commerce in relation to this matter. The Minister for Industry and Commerce has power to interfere, through his inspectors, in relation to certain classes of employment, which are closely defined in different Acts of the Oireachtas, the most comprehensive of which is the Conditions of Employment Act, but these deal with conditions of industrial employment. He has power to interfere also with factories and workshops. He has power to interfere in relation to holidays for a large section of the people, and he has power to interfere in commercial employment under the Shops Act. These, of course, are separate Acts, but beyond that the Minister for Industry and Commerce has no power at all.
The Minister for Agriculture has powers in relation to categories covered by an Act which was passed by the Oireachtas in 1936, but, unfortunately for the people with whom I am dealing now, and for very large bodies of people in employment, they do not come within the scope of any of these Acts and I suggest, with all respect, that this offers the Minister an opportunity of doing something for this particular section which, without making any reflections, I say is a lowly-paid section of the community. I think the Minister ought not to let this opportunity pass without making these regulations.
The difficulty I see about the amendment is that it gives the board power over the employers, but if the employee will not do what the board suggests, no power whatever over the employee is given to the board. If the employee is dissatisfied with the rate of wages laid down, will not accept it, and goes out on strike, there is nothing here to deal with that situation, and that is the difficulty I see in connection with this amendment. If what the Senator has in mind is the setting up of an arbitration board, then they should have power over the employee as well as over the employer.
It must be remembered that this is not an alien body. It is a body of people engaged in the business on the employers' side.
It will consist of five or six people nominated by these organisations engaged in racing, and other people selected by the Minister within a defined class. The Bill lays down the kind of people he must select, including owners, trainers, and other people engaged in bloodstock production. I respectfully suggest that a body more favourable to the employers could not have been selected if the employers were hand-picking them.
That is not the point.
Secondly, in regard to the difficulty of enforcing conditions on the employees, I might mention that Senator Parkinson on the last occasion said that he and people in his position are inundated with applications for employment. It would appear, then, that if men refuse to accept the award of the board and go on strike, the employers, according to Senator Parkinson, will have no difficulty in filling their place five times over.
In any event, there is no suggestion here of doing anything beyond making a recommendation to the racecourse executive or to the proprietor of the training establishment, as the case may be, and there is an opportunity for the person to whom the recommendation is made to come back to the board, back to the people of his own profession, and they can revise the decision if they think fit to do so. I do not think that the objections mentioned are likely to arise at all.
I am afraid the Senator is wrong about the number of applications that I get. These applications are not concerned with stable lads, but with boys who are seeking to be apprentices. With regard to the question of wages that he talks about, such as an increase of 100 per cent. on wages that were 1/- and 2/- a week, I may say that the wages the stable lads got in 1937 were the same wages that the agricultural workers had in the district, and now these wages have been fixed at 110 per cent. higher by the Government, or by the civil servants who act for the Minister for Supplies and the Minister for Industry and Commerce. We have nothing to do with the fixing of the wages, except to give the employees the total amount that it is legal to give, as laid down by the civil servants.
I do not want to get into conflict with Senator Parkinson, but he is obviously wrong—and I know that he is not trying to mislead the House —because the Minister for Industry and Commerce has no power to fix wages for agricultural workers except under a trade board.
I should like to refer to what Senator Parkinson said as to the wages of these stable lads being the same as those laid down by the Department of Agriculture for agricultural workers in the district. I do not get the connection in what he said as to the wages of these boys and the wages that were being paid to them in 1927.
1937? Well, the Senator stated that in 1937 the wages being paid to these boys were the same as those being paid to the agricultural workers of the district. If I am wrong, I should like to be corrected, but if that is the statement then the wages certainly leave a good deal to be desired from the Minister's point of view and from the point of view of his good wishes that the lads may enjoy some of the prosperity that this legislation and the setting up of this board will bring about. Certainly one hopes that the Minister's wishes will be brought to fruition rather than that the wages should be governed by the Agricultural Wages Board if that is the case.
The wage now paid to a boy is not the agricultural wage. It is 50/- a week. I think 45/- is the maximum wage paid to agricultural workers. These boys get much more than that and in addition, if a horse wins a race, the boy who looks after that particular horse gets £3 or £5 according to the value of the stake.
I think it might meet the case if the Minister would give an undertaking that he would have conveyed to this board his opinion that the conditions of people employed in the racing industry should be improved and that the effect of providing more funds for bloodstock breeders should not end with the animal section but that it should be applied to the human section as well. If the Minister could do anything of that kind it would be helpful and I think he should also suggest to the ruling authorities, both the Turf Club and the National Hunt Committee, that this question of apprentices is a very serious one and should be tackled. I do not want to go into Senator Parkinson's argument or into the merits of Senator Duffy's amendment, but if the Minister could do anything to improve these conditions, the Bill would be worth while. It is certainly going to confer great benefits on the owner, the trainer and the breeder, but as far as I know nothing will eventually happen so far as the workers are concerned. I am very much concerned with that aspect and if the Minister would help to improve the conditions of the workers in the industry, then the Bill would be a blessing all round, not a one-sided one, as it is likely to prove as it stands at present.
I should not like that anything I say would be taken merely as a pious opinion. I do not want that. If there are bad conditions in this industry, I am not personally aware of them and I do not know the facts in regard to them. I have not any information that would lead me to believe that the conditions in the industry are bad. If, however, any complaints reach me from anybody, the men employed in the industry or from anybody authorised to speak on their behalf, I shall, as Minister, have these complaints brought to the notice of the Racing Board with the request that they should be inquired into. If prosperity is brought to the industry as a result of any Act of the Oireachtas, I should certainly wish, and it would be the wish of the Government, that that prosperity should be shared by the workers of the industry as well as by the bloodstock owners and the public in general.
Will that undertaking on behalf of the Minister apply here and elsewhere at a later stage, or does it merely end when he ceases to be Minister for Finance?
May I ask the Minister if in furtherance of his desire to benefit, amongst others, the workers employed in the industry, he would not take power to make his recommendation effective? There is not the slightest use in these workers making representations to the Minister if that is to be followed merely by a letter from the Minister to the board telling them that they should do something about it. If the board does not get power in the Bill to hold an inquiry there will be no inquiry. They have no right whatever to interfere in the private affairs of any racecourse executive, training stables, or anybody else. If the Minister does not take power in the Bill to tell the board to follow up these representations, the making of representations is useless.
In reply to Senator Duffy, we have no power at present, and we have not sought to take power to deal with racing stables. We have certain power in regard to racecourse executives, and I think an expression of opinion from the Minister to the Racing Board would carry weight. I cannot go any further than that.
Amendment put and negatived.
When is it proposed to take the next stage?
I object to the Report Stage being taken now. There are certain matters into which I want to inquire, and I think I should have an opportunity of doing so.
I suggest, then, that it be taken to-morrow together with the remaining stage.