Agricultural Produce (Cereals) (Amendment) Bill, 1958—Committee and Final Stages.

Sula mbreithneofar Céim an Choiste den Bhille seo, ba mhaith an rud é go gcuirfinn in iúl go bhfuil dhá leasú—leasuithe a 4 agus a 9—atá in ainm an tSeanadóir Ó Donnagáin a measaim iad a bheith as ordú. Measaim go bhfuil leasuithe a 4 agus a 9 as ordú mar go dtiocfadh díobh muirear d'fhorchur ar chistí Stáit. Tá scéala dá réir tugthe dón tSeanadóir.

Before taking up consideration of the Committee Stage of this Bill, I should indicate that there are two amendments—amendments Nos. 4 and 9—standing in the name of Senator Donegan, which I consider out of order. These amendments are out of order as they tend to impose a charge on State funds. The Senator has been informed accordingly.

Section 1 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 1:—

Before Section 2 to insert a new section as follows:—

(i) As soon as practicable in each cereal year, the board shall recommend to the Minister a national percentage of native wheat to be included in the flour-millers grist.

(ii) In arriving at this figure the board is empowered to incur all reasonable expenses.

(iii) The Minister shall have regard to this recommendation.

The present percentage of wheat included in the grist is, of course, not a permanent figure. Nobody would be naive enough to say that in our climate we will not have our difficulties, and that perhaps there may not be a reduction from this figure. However, the hope of everybody will be that there will be an increase on the present percentage of native wheat included in the grist. When speaking on the Second Stage of this Bill, I said that not enough effort was being made to use more Irish wheat in the grist, that the Department of Agriculture was not conducting enough research and that it was necessary that growers' representatives and representatives of other interested bodies should have some forum in which they could air their views, reach decisions and have some machinery available whereby they could set up research to find out just how much Irish wheat can be included in the grist from year to year.

If this board does not take into consideration not only the disposal of surplus wheat but the disposal of wheat for flour milling, it is completely valueless. Therefore, in all seriousness, I commend this amendment to the Minister. There are many things that can be done and should be done. There are firms of milling consultants in Britain, and I think one or two of them have offices in this country, who as far as I know will undertake work of this kind. It is possible by blending to include far more of the wheat in the grist than is the case if blending is not employed.

I believe the consensus of opinion favours my view that every avenue is not being explored and everything is not being done that should be done. The cure-all of foreign wheat is being employed to the maximum. A good deal of this is just taking the easy way out, but I would prefer they should take the difficult way out and that a board as autonomous as possible—and it will be noted in my further amendments that I have endeavoured to make this board as autonomous as possible, —should be set up and should be empowered, by incurring any reasonable expense, to see if we can increase the amount of native wheat in the grist. I commend this amendment to the Minister and I think he should accept it.

As I see it, this amendment has no merit whatever. The board envisaged and the purpose of its establishment are well known. It is being set up to implement an arrangement by which it is hoped surplus wheat over a stated amount will be marketed at the expense of the growers. The board's task, therefore, is to collect the levy and then proceed, if there is a surplus of wheat, to market that wheat to the best advantage from every point of view. We shall, perhaps, deal with this aspect of it later, but before the board is established at all, I think it will be conceded that on any body set up for the purpose of collecting a levy from the growers and disposing of a surplus through the use of that levy the growers should be strongly represented.

Is it seriously contended that a board such as this would be a suitable body to do what is set out in this amendment? If it is, it does not carry any conviction to me. After giving the board this power, you end up by saying: "The Minister shall have regard to the recommendation". Of course, the Minister will have regard to a reasonable recommendation made by a board without this amendment. I have tried to state clearly the purpose of the board and its task. Apart from that, should the board wander into other fields as a result of their deliberations and activities and decide that some contact with the Department or with me personally is required and say that it is the opinion of the board that the policy should be such and such, if it were a sensible recommendation, I would have regard to it just as much as if it were stated in this amendment.

I think it was never the intention in the minds of those who conceived this scheme that this task should be given to a board such as this. If such a task were to be given to a board, it would certainly not be composed in the manner in which I hope to compose this board. If this amendment were accepted, it does no more than place the onus upon the Minister to "consider", something that the Minister will do in any case.

The board is established to implement arrangements for the marketing of wheat and dispose of surplus wheat and here I think the Minister becomes a trifle naïve because what better way is there of disposing of surplus wheat than in seeking to use more of it in the millers' grist at a higher price to the advantage of the farmers? The Minister says the composition of the board would not be suitable. He implied the other night, I think—he may correct me if I am wrong —that farmers' organisations will be represented on the board and that he would consent to that. Does the Minister not agree the board will have responsibility for disposing of surplus wheat not only by the extremely non-advantageous way of disposing of it at feeding stuff prices, but in the very advantageous way to farmers of disposing of it by the research which they will be empowered to conduct and to spend money from the grain fund to conduct? These men would be empowered to dispose of some of the surplus wheat advantageously, and I submit that is their function and in the case of the growers' representatives on the board particularly, it would be a most pleasant function. In fact the board as constituted, if the Minister constitutes it properly—I do not imply he would do anything else—would be a suitable board to carry out the functions set out in this amendment.

The Minister made great play with the point that regard would be had to all recommendations. I do not want to say he would not have regard to recommendations but ordinary recommendations from ordinary individuals or boards are not as strong as they would be if accompanied, in the case of this board, by evidence of research carried out at the expense, mark you, of the grain fund set up by the board. Not enough research is being done and there is not sufficient investigation and not sufficient blending of Irish wheats. I submit that the disposal of wheat in the most advantageous manner is the work of this board just as is the disposal of wheat in a non-advantageous manner.

There is a well-known expression to the effect that those who pay the piper should have a right to call the tune. The growers will pay the piper, so far as this levy is concerned. The levy is designed to enable surplus wheat over a stated amount to be disposed of without cost to the taxpayer.

The other questions of determining the amount of native wheat to be used in the grist, or the extraction rate, are surely ones that you could not, in fairness to other sections of the public, give to a board that will be constituted. I hope, on the basis that those who pay the piper should call the tune. That ground alone, apart from the other grounds, could be advanced to show that this would be a most unsuitable body. I am not saying you are proposing to give it any real power or authority in this amendment, but there is no purpose in proceeding to insert an amendment like this that purports to do something that, in fact, it does not do, and, if it did do what it loosely suggests, it should not be given the right to do it.

The Minister is the man who is to nominate this board and, while further amendments in my name try to see to it that better representation is given to other bodies in this matter, there is nothing wrong in the Minister so constituting the board that it would fairly approach a problem of this kind. Those who pay the piper are quite entitled to call the tune and those who pay the wheat levy, through their representatives on the board, are entitled to see by research what other means they can use to increase the amount of wheat to be disposed of at full human-use prices. Perhaps the recommendation might be an embarrassment to the Minister. Ministers have been embarrassed before and lived, and I do not think the present Minister would lose any more hairs, or that any further hairs on his head would become grey, because of embarrassment.

There is something in what the Minister says but there is nothing wrong in a flour miller being on the board, if the Minister so decides. There is nothing to stop the Minister putting a flour miller on the board and, in my view, it might not be a bad thing because millers are men with wide experience, not only of flour milling, but also of the disposal of wheat. With the advice of such a man on the board, and with the research that could be carried on, greater happiness and friendliness could be engendered in the production of wheat and its disposal in this country.

The board's task will be the disposal of surplus wheat. Would the Minister agree that market research should be part of that task? Obviously, to dispose of surplus wheat abroad, the board has to get information on marketing and, therefore, is drawn into market research. I would also ask would there be any further market research aimed at producing a product more suited to the home market? If so, it would seem that the main purpose of this amendment could actually be met in the Bill itself. The question of advice is another one, and I take it that if the facts are available, the growers' organisations and others will see they are brought to the notice of the Minister. The Minister presumably is as anxious as anybody else to use as much wheat at home as possible.

The attitude of mind that has arisen amongst a number of people who have approached this problem more or less in the same way as Senator Donegan has approached it, is that, because a board is being set up to dispose of surplus wheat, if that board were given the task of, if not determining, at least recommending on matters such as the amount of native wheat to be consumed in the production of flour, or the extraction rate and all the rest, it might be able to manipulate and recommend in such a way as to reduce the problem of the disposal of surplus wheat. I do not think a national question of this magnitude should be given to a body of people, and there can only be eight according to this Bill, a body of people, one which, according to the old saying which I have quoted, would be composed on the basis of those who pay the piper calling the tune.

That conveys that the body would be influenced. If I were a miller, and not a Minister, and found myself on a body where I was in a minority, my knowledge of the subject of milling and my knowledge of the difficulties of the provision of a loaf from flour manufactured from Irish wheat, and all that, would have very little influence on the minds of those whose main purpose was to get out of the difficulty of the surplus wheat in the easiest way possible, and with the least expense possible to those whom they really represented, not in a technical sense but in a practical sense, on a business body. There is not anybody who really thinks of that seriously who would say that such a board would be a suitable board to investigate, from a national point of view, this question of the problem of reaching the position where an all-Irish loaf might be provided.

In fact, those of the growers' representatives—and I have been listening to them and have been watching what they have been saying—have not been half as extravagant in their demands as members of public bodies and members of the Dáil and Seanad have been. They seem to appreciate the difficulties however much some of them would like to find even more alleviation of the problem of surplus wheat. At no time, was it ever suggested to me by any of these bodies that they should have the right to examine into this question of an all-Irish loaf. It would not be fair that research work should be carried out by this body. The expenses that will be incurred in the disposal of the surplus wheat will be provided by the growers, and under this amendment we are to ask them further to undertake research work at the growers' expense that should be carried out in a national sense.

There are several arguments in addition to the ones I have used that could be used against the acceptance of anything approaching an amendment like this. The line I am taking, that I am expected to take as far as my understanding goes of this scheme, is that there was an appreciation, even on the part of those who will be affected, that the taxpayers are not likely to continue providing heavy subsidies for the disposal of wheat grown here in excess of what we require. As a result of that appreciation by the Government, speaking for taxpayers and growers, this scheme has come to light. The task is one of collection and disposal.

Senator Quinlan talked about investigating market conditions for the disposal of surpluses. I do not know in what way we could assist. I have told the Seanad of the amount of wheat disposed of since I became Minister. The only organisation I had to make that disposal was Grain Importers. They just proceeded to dispose of wheat on the same basis as it is disposed of in other countries. I do not know that any sort of research will make any contribution in regard to the price for wheat. You have to depend on ordinary trade channels. It would be a source of great relief to a Minister and his Department to have an organisation such as this acting on behalf of the people who have contributed the money by way of levy. I hope it will give greater confidence to the growers. I am not saying they will be able to get more satisfactory prices for any wheat they may dispose of, but I hope it will convey to the growers who have paid this levy that decisions on matters of sale—when and where to sell—will be determined by a body in which they will have a substantial say.

I found myself with 100,000 tons of dried wheat on my hands. I was offered a price for a quantity of it. I knew of no other means by which we would be likely to be able to dispose of the quantity in time for next year's harvest. However, the price was so low that I had to take the risk and say: "No, we will take a further risk and hold on longer." That is not a task I want to have. Therefore, the introduction of a board like this will, I hope, bring greater confidence to the growers, in the sense they will feel that decisions, one way or the other, are being made by a body largely composed of men from amongst themselves who have felt the pinch of making the necessary contribution to make this scheme effective.

I cannot find myself at one with the Minister. Who in this country is undertaking large-scale research work to try to increase the amount of Irish wheat in the grist? I know of nobody. The Industrial Research and Standards people can give you a tea-party with Irish bread. That is as far as it went. I was informed to-day that the Sugar Company are conducting some experiments and I know there were some experiments at the Curragh Camp, but there is not enough large-scale experimentation in relation to Irish wheat.

The figure for inclusion in the grist is 300,000 tons. You hear it at every crossroads in the country. It is a doctrinaire figure, dating right back historically to the decision of the Cabinet in December, 1953, the first year in which there seemed there might be a surplus of Irish wheat for disposal. I see the Minister shaking his head. What I say is true; I know it to be true. Last year, when at one stage, early in the harvest, it looked as if there would be large-scale rejection, the flour millers undertook to take up for flour milling 300,000 tons of native wheat. That was the bargain at a stage when it was necessary to get some agreement with the flour millers. There we are with a doctrinaire figure. Nobody in this country is doing large-scale tests. Yet this board will not be allowed to direct any of its energies towards using more wheat at the full price. I think it is disgraceful.

I want to return to my questions. First, a question relating to a very important general principle underlying all boards for selling surplus products. You have the immediate task the Minister mentioned: a store of surplus calling to be sold. That is one question. Obviously, you have to sell it as soon as you can and to the best advantage. But the more important national issue is that of a surplus that continues year after year, where we are overproducing a commodity and where we have to find markets for it. If that is the situation and if a board is set up to deal with that situation, then obviously that board, if it is to discharge its functions, must be able to engage in marketing research. It is nothing more than finding out: "For next year, what is the trade need abroad likely to be? Can we advise our people as to how best to tailor their products to that need?"

I should like to feel that any board charged with marketing any surplus product should be its own judge as to whether it is to engage in marketing research or not, and provided that board is properly representative of the producers, then the board will spend money on marketing research only in so far as it judges that that will pay a dividend to its members. I should like to feel that there is no clause in this Bill that would prohibit this board from engaging in marketing research, if it thought that advisable, for selling the surplus of next year, the year after and the year after that.

Surely that form of research is entirely different from research having to do with the use of Irish wheat in our flour? There is nothing in this Bill which would prevent the board from doing anything, in the way of exploration outside or inside the country, as to the most effective way of disposing in the most profitable fashion of any surplus with which they are charged. That is an entirely different question from an examination of the Irish loaf and the all-Irish flour. In the one case you have a board that must be weighted on the side of those who pay. That board is naturally entitled to spend money in the way the Senator has indicated for the purpose of disposing in the most profitable way of any surplus with which it is charged.

The matter of the all-Irish loaf affects us at home in a very intimate sense. It affects not only the growers but the consumers, the millers, the State, the Exchequer. It is seriously contended, in relation to that problem, that a board, weighted in the way I have described, is a board that should be charged with that task?

You cannot subdivide research. It is supposed, first and foremost, to be objective. I do not envisage any board with the capacity to conduct research, the capacity to put money aside to carry out research. The Minister has conceded my first point that it obviously has the capacity to conduct marketing research, to advise the growers in future years as to the best type of wheat and to have their plans laid well in advance as to where to sell that surplus abroad.

I think there is confusion in relation to the second point in saying that the board is weighted. Research is not worth tuppence if it is not objective. Any scientist who would prostitute his skill to bring in a report to back up what that board would like to have is not worthy of the name of scientist. It should be axiomatic that we would produce products to cater for the home market to the fullest extent possible. In the case of wheat at home, if we are satisfied we can produce a wheat that will satisfy the home market then we want a home market for that wheat. An essential task in that is objective research. I do not mind who finances it.

If we can use only 80 per cent., as at present, we want to know if there are other strains or special ways of harvesting, or some special extra wheat that could be added to that 80 per cent. to enable us to use more at home. I cannot see any distinction between research conducted with a view to satisfying the requirements of the home market and research conducted with a view to satisfying the requirements of the market abroad.

This is not the first time this matter has come up for discussion in this House. The question of the Irish loaf has been debated here. I remember when the Minister's predecessor came into this House with a Cereals Bill. I raised the matter myself. I tried to ascertain if the time had come when the Minister was satisfied it would be possible to use all-Irish wheat in the make-up of the Irish loaf.

At the time, I referred to the sample of wheat sent out to the Swedish experts. The Minister said we should not take any notice of that but that we should fall back on our own experts here. He then told me that the matter had been referred to the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards. I took it then that the matter was to be considered by them. It is a highly-technical matter and a matter of that technical nature would not be an appropriate one to submit to a body of this kind which is being set up under the Bill. Therefore, I suggest it would be just as well to wait until we get the report on this matter from the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards to find out the exact position.

How long will that take?

I should like the Minister to clarify my mind on this matter. This might be different from the interpretation other Senators put on the position. Whose duty is it or who is the individual or organisation that will fix for the next year and other future years the percentage of extraction—and the lesser or the greater the percentage of extraction from Irish flour, the less or the more you will have of any other foreign grist.

The all-Irish loaf is being demonstrated at agricultural shows throughout the country. I presume each individual member of the Seanad received a loaf, as I did, through the good graces of the National Farmers' Association. If we can produce an all-Irish loaf, I do not know what specific extraction it will be because they do not know the extraction in the case of this all-Irish loaf at present. Whose function is it at present to designate what percentage of extraction is to be taken for Irish wheat, and what percentage of this foreign strong wheat, as they call it, is to be added to our native wheat? We do not know the definition of these words, but they speak of strong wheat. It is not clear to me whose duty it is.

I do not think it should be the duty of this board to do this business. I know that the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards have been working on it. Whose duty is it to do this and whose duty will it continue to be during the coming years to do it? If we could produce an all-Irish loaf, this amendment would not come in at all. I should like the Minister to clarify that matter.

If we have an all-Irish loaf, this problem will not arise at all. We are getting confused on definitions. You can dispose of surplus wheat on hands without research and I understand money is being devoted to that at present. Córas Tráchtála, Teoranta, are working for the industrialists as well as for the all-Irish product. It is not research, to my mind, to try to find out in what foreign market you can dispose of some 50,000 or 60,000 tons of surplus wheat, if we have that surplus in future years. Research on marketing is different from research on the percentage extraction and the percentage from this allegedly strong wheat which we can mix with our native wheat. I think these things require research. The millers say one thing: others say something else. We all have eaten the all-Irish loaf. We do not know what the percentage extraction in that case was but we have eaten far worse bread in our time.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce, in consultation with the Minister for Agriculture, has responsibility for the fixation of the grist and the percentage extraction.

Then two Ministers have responsibility. I should like to know about the machinery— who are the officials and what machinery is at their disposal?

We are now going outside the scope of the amendment.

In regard to this discussion, I suggest that we are getting into an awkward avenue.

We are going outside the scope of the amendment.

This Bill provides for a contract with the growers. It is a contract between the Government and the growers that we will pay a certain price for a certain quantity. Whether or not that quantity may be in excess of what will be required, having regard to the consumption rate of flour and the percentage extract, does not arise here. The fact is that we will have to keep that contract with the growers, and that is to pay the guaranteed price for that quantity, irrespective of whether it is too much, having regard to the factors I have mentioned.

This Bill concerns itself with the disposal of what will be in excess of that and therefore many of the questions which are being raised here do not, in fact, arise. There are ways and means, as I have said, by which the investigation of the provision of an all-Irish loaf can be carried out at State expense. Matter such as the varieties that are suitable can be determined and the steps that would need to be taken in order to give effect to any such conclusions that might be arrived at on that basis. To my mind, however, and according to my reasoning, it has nothing whatever to do with this question which has arisen here in recent times, that is, the appearance of a surplus over and above our requirements.

We could argue about this for a long time but I do not see that there is really any purpose to be served by our doing so. In this measure, I am merely implementing a set of suggestions that were made as to the most equitable manner of disposing of a surplus at the expense of those who provided it.

The more I hear the Minister speak about this board, the more convinced I am that this board is not necessary. If its only duties are to dispose of the surplus grain, I am afraid it will not be overworked, especially if they take a headline from the sales which were effected by the Minister and his advisers during the past year. It would be very easy to dispose of grain on the home market, back to the people who grew it, at the price of £18 10s. per ton. That price was received by the Minister and his advisers for the amount of wheat exported during this year. Every bit of that wheat could be absorbed on the home market at that price. The Minister has stated that he does not think the board will succeed in getting a bigger price than they got for wheat. If that is the case, I do not see why this further burden should be inflicted on the already overburdened grower.

As regards wheat, nobody knows more about the all-Irish loaf than the second last speaker, Senator Ó Donnabháin. Where he comes from the people were used to that. As a matter of fact, the farmers' families were reared on the brown bread. It was made from wheat grown on the farm and milled in the nearest miller's premises, and there were plenty of them through the country at that time. I can guarantee, and I am sure Senator Ó Donnabháin will join with me when I say it, that bread from Irish wheat was better than any bread being sold or delivered to-day.

That matter does not properly arise now.

It has a great deal to do with the discussion. It could reduce the surplus.

The Chair agrees that it has something to do with the discussion but it may not be developed to the extend to which the Senator is developing it.

In deference to the Chair's wishes, I will not speak further on the matter.

We are speaking about a different thing altogether. That would not do for Dublin's population of 500,000. West Cork is different.

There is too much thinking about Dublin.

I feel that another question to the Minister may clarify the position. The Minister has agreed that there is nothing in the Bill that prohibits this board from conducting marketing research. Marketing research is much wider than Senator Ó Donnabháin's definition. Not alone have you to answer the question where can you sell the product this year but you have also got to answer the question where can you sell it next year, and how can you produce that product. It is there that the real research angle comes in. I would have great confidence in a board fully representative of the producers, if they adopted a realistic approach to that and we all know that research pays.

The question I should like to put to the Minister to clarify the second point is this. The Minister mentioned trials being conducted and said various Government Departments were interested. Now, is there anything in the Bill that would prohibit this board from making a grant, say, of £2,000, next year to some outside body, a university or any other body, to conduct such trials? In other words, the State Departments at present are apparently the sole bodies charged with financing it. Can the growers play their part or can the board, if it wishes, make a grant for carrying out research at home?

I understood, like Senator Quinlan, that there was nothing in this Bill to prohibit the board from carrying on market research. That, of course, is not the point. A statutory board can do only such things as it is empowered to do and it has to be specifically empowered to do certain things. I should like to know whether, in this Bill, there is a specific power for marketing.

Surely to goodness even the Department, which is not a body equipped for or suited to that type of research, has engaged in that sort of mental activity of marketing research, as defined originally by Senator Quinlan, when he said there was nothing in this Bill to prevent their employing somebody to study markets abroad, to see what is French wheat costing, which has been imported to Britain; what wheat from other lands is costing; what is the most favourable time to sell and so on. Businessmen and millers, bent on making a success of their business and making money, have to take risks in these matters. They have to take a gamble in these matters. Sometimes, as a result of the use of their judgment and after studying all these factors, they win. They also sometimes lose.

I was trying to give the Senator an assurance in that limited sense. The board should, of course, keep an eye upon markets and marketing conditions at the disposal of a customer and whether it was a customer who would use our surplus wheat for feeding purposes or a customer who would use it for other purposes, they would use their intelligence and seek advice on questions of that nature. To that extent, there is nothing in this Bill that I know of to prevent them from doing so, nor would they be fully discharging their responsibilities, if they did not do that. But to think that merely because the term "research" is used that should be interpreted in the broad generous way of going into all these other avenues is something to which, had I been asked for an opinion on it there would be no doubt as to what the answer would be.

Is the board not to be allowed to carry on ordinary research at home at its own expense in order to see how much extra Irish surplus wheat can be included in the grist to give a palatable loaf? If the board is properly constituted, it would be biassed in favour of using more Irish wheat in the grist and what could be better than that such a board should set up research and report to the Minister? What use is anybody who indulges in research who is prepared to bring in a report to the board for transmission to the Minister which is not true? Suppose that winter soft white wheat and a greater amount of Irish wheat could be used in the grist and that it was suggested an all-Irish loaf should be put on the market over a period and tested against other wheat, is it contended that the board should not take the opportunity of having this bread manufactured in large quantities and put on the market to see what the result would be? This board can send a man to Egypt to buy wheat.

Might I suggest to the Senator that "search" is one thing and "research" another. When we talk about research, we forget that we have an Agricultural Institute starting. That would be an ideal job to give them.

Somebody produces a platypus because nobody knows the meaning of the word.

I hope the Seanad will forgive me for intervening again but I feel that an important general principle is involved. As a scientist, I believe it is impossible to spend too much on research. This being a practical board, representative of the growers themselves, they will err on the side of spending too little rather than too much because they will look for a quick return for every pound they spend on research. The Minister speaks about having power to explore the markets abroad. Surely the Minister is not setting a limit to the means this board can take to sell their surplus products? Suppose they find that we can sell in the years to come a special variety of wheat, have they then the power to come back and recommend to the growers that we could do with a certain acreage of this? Can they make their findings known to the growers before the sowing season comes in? That is research, to my mind. It is channelling the growers' products into channels we can market in the future. Otherwise, a marketing board is of no use as their duties could be discharged by a few clerks in an office.

The arguments put up by Senators Donegan and Quinlan are rather unreal. This is a board which is set up to do a very limited job—to dispose of a wheat surplus. We have a Department of Agriculture serviced with a large Estimate from the Oireachtas. The Department has plenty of research, advisory and other facilities at its disposal. It is the job of the Department of Agriculture to examine the possibility of new brands of wheat, greater extraction rates and more Irish wheat in the grist. That is the function of the Department of Agriculture set up by the Houses of the Oireachtas. It is financed by way of money got from taxation and voted by the Oireachtas. That is the function of the Department of Agriculture. This Bill is a very limited Bill with a very limited purpose, to dispose of a wheat surplus.

I cannot agree with Senator Lenihan on this. I think the function of the Department of Agriculture is to encourage people engaged in agriculture to be so intelligent that the need for the Department of Agriculture evaporates. We have reached a stage in agricultural education where a board is being set up. It is being given very few powers. I think it is being set up only as a sort of shock absorber with regard to any unpopularity that might arise in regard to the price of wheat. I think the board should not be an emasculated body. It will be a board composed of adults but they will not be given any function. It should be the most important vocational body to deal with this matter.

What is the Department for?

I should like to see no necessity for Department of State. I should like to see fewer Departments of State every day in the week. That is what is killing us. We cannot afford all the Departments we have. If the farmers were allowed to run the wheat question, a couple of hundred thousand pounds would be saved on that job. It would be a good day's work for the country. That is what we want. Unless we have more adults on these matters, provide more adult education and let adults do the job, we shall not get anywhere.

If I am to interpret Senator Burke's speech, he has really made a case against Government Departments being headed by a Minister. Instead of that, he wants to set up statutory boards like the Revenue Commissioners and the Land Commission, with far-reaching powers. That is the reasoning of Senator Burke. I think they are doing their job fairly well.

Whatever about interpreting the statement made by the Senator, Senator O'Reilly should deal now with the amendment.

I agree with the reasoning of Senator Lenihan, that it is a function for the Department of Agriculture, but he could have gone further and said that it is a function for the Agricultural Institute. When there are investigations and research of this kind, why should we set up an Agricultural Institute if it is to serve no function in those matters? Surely what is suggested in this amendment should be referred to the institute? I would imagine that was the sort of work one would expect the institute to perform.

Although we hear pious statements about State control and the power of Government boards taking things away from private business, we hear now about the number of boards established under Acts. It all seems to me to be contradictory. I have heard the people who are making that case now, arguing the opposite in regard to other matters. I agree with Senator Lenihan that that form of investigation should be a matter for the Department of Agriculture and surely research should be a matter for the institute?

Let us take the blinds down. There is a doctrinaire figure produced of 300,000 tons, as the amount of Irish wheat to be used for flour milling. That is the amount which is to get the price fixed for wheat for human use. The Minister can get a majority on the board to conduct any research he likes to try to dispose of surplus wheat, except to increase that doctrinaire figure of 300,000 tons. It is like saying: "Do anything you like, but hands off wheat for flour milling; you must not go within 40 feet of it."

At the present time the Minister for Industry and Commerce, in consultation with the Minister for Agriculture— as has been told to us here to-night, though we knew it, of course—fixes the amount to be included in the grist. Why should not the growers, who will have the preponderance on this board, not have a right to make a recommendation to those two Ministers, a recommendation which can be aided and supported by research carried out at the expense of the wheat growers? Why should it be a case of: "Hands off. We want to dispose of surplus wheat one way and hands off every other way."

This board will be the only set up of people who will have at their disposal this year 100,000 tons of Irish wheat, at a price that has not been stated. What is wrong with that board being empowered, by this amendment, to have that Irish wheat, without any extra cost to the consumer of bread, milled into all-Irish bread to be sold in competition with bread sold in this country with the admixture?

I intended to refrain from saying anything about the doc-trinair figure of 300,000 tons, but I would refer to the debate on the Finance Bill, 1956, Second Stage, when Deputy Sweetman, then Minister for Finance, referred to this figure of 300,000 tons. I shall give two excepts from his speech. They are taken from Volume 46 of the Seanad Debates. In column 360, he said:—

"Our native wheat harvest should be fixed at approximately 300,000 tons a year."

In column 361 he said:—

"I mentioned that 300,000 tons were the approximate amount of dried native wheat that would be required. That was a formal decision of the last Government, a decision of which I approve."

It is a doctrinaire figure.

There have been questions about this board being able to conduct research, which Senator Lenihan thinks is strange. The most successful marketing boards in the world are those in New Zealand. I would much prefer if our organisation had advanced to the point where we could have co-operative marketing boards. Then they would be able to conduct research, to make for better sales and provide better markets. Any other kind of marketing board would not be worthy of the name.

I should like to say, finally, that I am not entitled to object to a discussion with Senators around the question of the production of an all-Irish loaf on this section, but I really think that it does not offer the kind of scope necessary for a Minister to discuss that matter. I am not suggesting that it is disorderly to have it, but it cramps one's style. I have personal views, apart from the fact that questions of this nature are national questions and should be so determined. We hear of this "doctrinaire figure" and all the rest; but the repetition of all these statements does not make sense to me. This is a matter which is irrespective of the personal views of the Minister for Agriculture, whoever he may be from time to time. It is a question for determination by Government.

I have views of my own about this matter. However, I can express the Government view and give the reasons for it and I believe I could make myself clear on that point and probably convey a fair share of conviction on a number of points to which some attention has been given here. I do not think this is the right kind of atmosphere in which to suggest that a board should have research responsibility, when you fit in that discussion with the disposal of what is assumed to be a surplus, because the public mind outside will say: "You are talking about research; you are giving this board research responsibility." Notwithstanding the assurance, which I accept entirely, given by Senator Quinlan, that a scientist would not prostitute his calling at the behest of anybody, the fact is that the public mind would associate the giving of powers unnecessarily to a body like this, for research purposes of the type he has mentioned, at a time when it is necessary now to dispose of a surplus, as meaning just research for the purpose of using more native wheat, irrespective of whether there is a case to be made for it from a public point of view or not. That would be the public reaction to any such step.

Therefore, I say I could give a reason for the Government's decision on this 300,000 tons of dried wheat. Wheat growing was regarded by us at all times mainly as national insurance. We aimed always at trying to encourage the growing of a sufficient quantity of wheat to enable us to feed our people. It was considered that, even if that were not done to the fullest extent, the margin would be so small that there would be ways and means of producing our requirements; there would be a stock of seed wheat; people would be accustomed to wheat growing and there would be other factors, which would enable us to get into 100 per cent. production.

That is another question, the wider question. I should not mind having a discussion on that matter, but I do not like to associate that discussion with this section of the Bill or with this board which is being set up for a limited purpose.

If, as I have already indicated, scientists and their profession would not be prostituted at the behest or request of a Government or of any organisation such as the Institute of Research and Standards or the Agricultural Institute when it is set up, why should a body such as this be called upon to make a mere request to scientists to make a report on a matter of that nature? That is a national question. Just as the question of the 300,000 tons of wheat was a question for determination at ministerial level, so too would it be a question for a Government to decide that we want information on this, that we want scientists to explore this matter and to give us a report upon it.

I ate an all-Irish loaf 20 years ago that was baked in the Curragh by the Army. There were no scientists there. There was none of the talk about the production of an all-Irish loaf and there was not half the enthusiasm that is displayed now about all these matters. This is a question that I did not mean to go into and will not go into. I had intended to debate the amendment on the net question of the responsibility that we visualised the board should have. Approaching the discussion on that basis, I felt I would not be entitled to cover all that wider field, nor do I think it is necessary, nor do I think it is at all advisable that the board, in any circumstances, should have the right to request scientists to do this.

I felt that while I am here with my colleagues in Government, it is our job from time to time to seek the assistance of scientists on questions of that nature and, having regard to a number of other very interesting sidelights on that question, to determine what the national policy should be. I took that line and am taking that line—not on my own; it is a line that represents the view of my colleagues and therefore Government line. It is in that frame of mind and with these convictions that I am entirely opposing this amendment but I want to be reasonable. I want to argue the thing and try to induce those who put down amendments to believe that it would not be wise to accept them. If I cannot do that, I can only do the other thing, that is, leave it to the Seanad to decide.

I must apologise for being so insistent on the word "research" but, representing the university as I do, I have to insist on that. I am not concerned whether the research is to provide more grain for the home market or whether it is to enable us to fill some rather lucrative market that is available, say, in Africa for wheat, but, suppose some members of the board report back from Africa that in a place there there is a market for wheat, provided it is of a certain variety and our question here is: can we produce that variety and can we produce it economically, it would be very wrong that the board should be prohibited from calling in a scientist or group of scientists, giving them the necessary money and asking them to conduct research to find out whether we can produce that wheat here or not.

A Senator

Can the Minister not do that?

In the case of research, the guiding principle must be that the stimulus for research must always come from the person most affected by it. In this case, the growers are the first people concerned and, if they are willing to put up the money through their representatives, I cannot understand how any Bill could prohibit them from doing that.

I am not to be taken as supporting the amendment as it is. I am discussing the general principle in it and I feel that, provided the functions of the board were interpreted to give it power to spend money on research, the amendment would be unnecessary and that, whatever pressure it seeks to bring on the Minister, if the scientific facts were available, I presume the Minister would act without the pressure and, in any case, the growers would have the facts and that is all they need.

The Chair would like to indicate that it feels the discussion is now developing into a matter of repetition.

I spoke for only a minute or two and I should like to recapitulate the various phrases of the Minister, that this has no merits to recommend it; that the purpose of the board is solely to dispose of surplus wheat; that you must investigate the percentage of Irish wheat in the loaf from a national point of view; that you could not give it over to a board of eight persons. Why could you not give it over to a board of eight persons? Is the entire power supply of the country not given over to a board of less than eight, with a capital of £8,000,000 and an annual turnover of £12,000,000?

It is under the Department of Industry and Commerce.

The Department of Industry and Commerce has no control over the E.S.B. in regard to how it carries on its business.

In relation to the last few sentences of Senator Quinlan's statement, the important point about this statutory board is that they can do only the things set out in their charter and the charter is the Act under which they are constituted. They can do no more. Therefore, you cannot read anything into this Bill that is not in it already and there is no way of doing it. Therefore, there is no possibility of this board carrying out any kind of research and it will be put to the pin of its collar even to make inquiries as to whether there are markets anywhere, because Section 5, which deals with that, limits its functions very much.

The Minister started off by saying that the discussion cramped his style in some way. I do not think it cramped his style a bit. He ended up by saying that he did not want to be unreasonable and he said the outside people he had met were not half as extravagant in their demands as the Dáil and Seanad. There was not a single amendment to this Bill put up in the Dáil. What is extravagant about that?

I am not interested as to why or what or when. I am just stating a fact. There was no amendment.

Did you see Deputy Dillon's speech in the Dáil?

Will Senator O'Donovan go on to develop his argument?

Certainly I will. The Minister said that the outside people were not half as extravangant in their demands as Members of the Dáil and Seanad. What extravagance has been shown so far by the Seanad? The Minister got the Second Reading in one-half or three-quarters of an hour and because we are having a debate on a main amendment that has lasted one and a half hours, the Minister starts talking that way. I think it takes from this House if people start talking in that fashion.

There is no nonsense about it. The name of this House is a by-word in this country. We all know it is.

It does not matter whether we know why or not.

Senator O'Donovan, to continue.

There are these grossly extravagant statements. What about the Minister's statement on the Second Reading of the Bill:—

"Although I met them quite recently in these matters, I am afraid the poor farmers—I mean the representatives of the National Farmers' Association—are not as tough as the politicians and it is a good job they are not?"

Is this an example of the Minister's toughness—the nature of his contribution to the debate this evening? Is this the kind of things to which we have to listen in this House? We had another example this evening. The Minister said: "Yes, they can carry on market research." We had another example in which the Minister made a specific promise and the ink was not dry when it was specifically repudiated.

What has that to do with the amendment?

Sir, the Minister stuck out his tongue at me when I sat down. It is a disgraceful way to behave. I will not be insulted in that fashion by anybody in this House.

Senator Cole.

That is no way for a man to behave in the House. If the Minister has not the manners to behave himself in the House he should not be here.

I may not laugh, Sir, apparently.

There is no question of the Minister saying that now. He can withdraw it or sit quiet.

Senator Cole is in possession.

Am I not entitled to laugh or smile?

The Minister is not entitled to stick out his tongue.

Senator O'Donovan will resume his seat.

I shall resume my seat——

Senator O'Donovan will resume his seat.

I shall get out of the House for good and all. I shall not have the Minister, a man of his age, sticking out his tongue at me here.

It strikes me that Section 7 is an answer to the questions raised, particularly by Senator Quinlan. If the board goes to the Minister and suggests to him that they would like to do a certain thing, the Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, under Section 7 (1) (a) assign to the board such additional functions as he thinks fit in relation to cereals. Paragraph (b) of the sub-section gives him the power to finance such functions. I think that should answer Senator Quinlan's point.

As one of the larger wheat growers in this House, I am very much inclined, for the first time in my life, to agree with my friend, Senator Lenihan. He said this evening that there was no need for this Bill at all and in that I agree with him, because I can assure the Minister and the wheat-growing Senators on the opposite side of the House that after this year the Minister will not be embarrased with surplus wheat.

The Minister stated that this is a national question and that the amount of wheat to be included in the grist is fixed by the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Agriculture in consultation. For the last 15 years we have been looking on the hoardings, in the newspapers and elsewhere at advertisements in relation to a "Grow More Wheat" campaign almost to the exclusion of an increase in other agricultural production. Now we have reached the stage where, according to the Minister, not according to me, for our own home needs we have too much wheat. The people who are to bear the loss as a result of this miscalculation by politicians are now in the position that they are not to be allowed to investigate whether or not there is to be more Irish wheat used in the grist.

Is Deputy Sweetman one of those politicians?

He spoke in relation to 1956. I object to the figure not being circulated from year to year.

On this question of surplus wheat——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I should like to keep the House to the amendment.

We have heard a great deal of talk about this board which has been set up to deal with surplus wheat. I think the Minister should be congratulated, even at this late stage, on established the board in order to dispose of surplus wheat.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The board will arise on a later section. We are now dealing with an amendment to Section 2.

I suggest that this board should have been set up five years ago. If it had been, the task would not be as formidable as it is now. If the Minister had then made arrangements to dispose of the wheat year by year and not allow it to accumulate, there would not be so much wheat to dispose of.

Question put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 13; Níl, 27.

  • Barry, Anthony.
  • Burke, Denis.
  • Carton, Victor.
  • Davidson, Mary F.
  • Donegan, Patrick.
  • McGuire, Edward A.
  • O'Keeffe, James J.
  • O'Leary, Johnny.
  • O'Sullivan, John L.
  • Prendergast, Micheál A.
  • Quinlan, Patrick M.
  • Sheridan, Joseph M.
  • Tunney, James.


  • Ahern, Liam.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Carter, Frank.
  • Cole, John C.
  • Colley, Harry.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Dowdall, Jane.
  • Fitzsimons, Patrick.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Hogan, Daniel.
  • Kissane, Éamon.
  • Lahiffe, Robert.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • Lynch, Peter T.
  • O'Callaghan, William.
  • Ó Donnabháin, Seán.
  • Ó Grádaigh, Seán.
  • Ó Maoláin, Tomás.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick.
  • Ó Síochfhradha, Pádraig.
  • O'Sullivan, Ted.
  • Ruane, Thomas.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Stanford, William B.
  • Teehan, Patrick J.
  • Walsh, Laurence J.
  • Walsh, Louis.
Tellers:—Tá: Senators Burke and Donegan; Níl: Senators Carter and Ó Donnabháin.
Section 2 agreed to.
Amendment negatived.

I move amendment No. 2:—

Before Section 2 to insert a new section as follows:—

() (i) On a day appointed by the Minister for Finance, such day to be at least three months before the fixing of the rate of wheat levy, the board shall recommend, in respect of wheat to be milled from the following crop—

(a) Prices ex mill for shop and bakers flour.

(b) A fair price to flour millers for K.D. native wheat of 15 per cent. moisture or under ex mill or store, to be used for flour milling.

(ii) In making the recommendations named in sub-section (1) of this section, the board shall have regard to—

(a) The cost of living.

(b) The cost of comparable foodstuffs.

(c) Rise and fall in national income, wage rates and wage agreements.

(d) Rise and fall in costs of production of the crop, including labour, seed, fertilisers, fuel oil, cost and depreciation of farm machinery, rates on land, and profits from other farming activities.

(e) Rise and fall in costs of handling, drying, transporting, insuring, and milling native wheat.

(f) Probable cost and percentage of foreign wheat to be included in the grist.

(iii) The Minister and the Minister for Finance shall have regard to recommendations made under this section.

This section refers to the prices the farmers may expect for the amount of native wheat which is to be used for conversion into bread. At present there is a figure and it is, of course, the figure of last year, when, in fact, the farmers were paid for all their wheat as if it were all to be used for conversion into bread and the Exchequer bore the loss. In my view, the farmers are entitled to have the maximum amount of wheat used for human foods and also to have it used at prices which shall be fair and commensurate with the cost of living and the rise and fall in all their own costs and the other factors mentioned.

This board will have a preponderance of growers' interests upon it and the farmers have no way, except through agitation or making statements through their own organisations, of making representations to the Government on what price the ordinary consumer shall pay them for the wheat they produce. In the first amendment, we referred to the amount of wheat they would be entitled to sell for use as human food and this refers to the price at which they will be entitled to sell it. I believe the board should be entitled to make a recommendation based on the factors set out in this amendment. I shall not say much more about it now except that it is the only way in which it will be possible to have a fair selling price year after year.

A national wages agreement was concluded since the present prices were fixed for the amount of native wheat to be used for human food this year. Yet the amendment does not ask that the people who benefit from that wages agreement shall have to pay more for bread. Of course, in fact they must pay more because the subsidy was removed. The national wage agreement must look after that, but the farmer is getting approximately the same price as before that agreement. That means that everything he purchases for the production of the wheat is dearer. His raw materials cost more. In view of these factors, he should be entitled to make his representations to the board which will dispose of his surplus as to what shall be, in his view, the price which the people should pay for the wheat they use. We have been defeated on the question of whether or not he should have any say in the volume of wheat to be used for human food and I feel the Minister should accept this amendment to give the board, which will have a preponderance of growers' interests upon it, the very proper right of saying what they think the people should pay for their bread and flour manufactured from Irish wheat each year.

I am at a loss to know what purpose would be served by so doing, since there is a recognition and admission on the part of the growers that they should be responsible for the sale of surplus wheat. If the price that has been determined by the Government for a particular quantity of wheat has resulted in the production of an amount of wheat surplus to our requirements, what advantage would the growers derive from the fixation of a higher price for a stated quantity, if it were to result in a higher production, the cost of disposal of which they would have to shoulder? That is apart altogether from the undesirability of giving to a board like this all the responsibilities and duties set out in the amendment.

Since the withdrawal of the subsidy, flour is sold freely and, even if there were a fixed price for flour, I should like to hear members of the Seanad commenting upon the advisability of asking a businessman to put all his records before a board composed of all kinds of interests. A businessman might place his full records at the disposal of a Minister, with the full knowledge that whatever revelations his books produced would be kept a secret, but that would not apply here. For the life of me, I cannot see what advantage would come from following on that recommendation.

As I stated on the Second Reading, there was full knowledge on the part of growers as to the certainty that there would be a reduction, in some form or other, in the price of wheat and, notwithstanding that knowledge and notwithstanding the announcement that was made before any spring wheat was sown, according to our calculations, which I do not claim are fully accurate at the moment, the acreage under wheat has increased this year. What advantage then would be derived, supposing a higher price had been fixed for 300,000 tons of dried wheat, so long as the growers were made responsible by way of levy for marketing the surplus over that amount? In fact, the attractiveness of the price apparently induced them to grow more than we require and, if the price were made more attractive, one could assume the acreage would be still greater, and one could conclude that as a result of that the growers' contribution by way of levy would be still greater.

The Minister's line of thought is that when the price goes up, the acreage goes up, and when the price goes down, farmers grow less wheat. That is not the situation at all. The position is that the farmer has improved his grassland—I will not diverge very much——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I wish to point out that the amendment to me seems to demands prices fixed for wheat, at various points, "in respect of wheat to be milled from the following crop". I would ask the Senator, and other Senators addressing themselves to it, to keep that in mind. The whole question of the price of wheat is not, I suggest, open to debate now, nor is general farming practice.

Very briefly, I will say that many other factors govern the volume of wheat grown in the country, besides the one detailed by the Minister. The price of cattle is one. In fact, farmers cannot afford to breed them when they want to get an immediate return. Here we would have machinery whereby a board, on which there would be a preponderance of growers, could say to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Agriculture, who are charged, in consultation, with fixing the price, what they felt that price should be. They are charged with having regard to certain factors, certain factors which are set out in the amendment. Those factors are deliberately addressed to the present price, or rather the present price for the wheat to be used for human foodstuffs. The idea is that the farmer shall not in future be tied to that price for ever and a day.

If wage rates go up, if national income goes up and if the cost of raw materials goes up, then the farmer is entitled to sell that portion of wheat to be used as human foodstuffs at a fair price. He is entitled to get more than he did get, and he is entitled to say so. Equally, all other sections of the community are entitled to disagree with him as soon as he makes his recommendations, but, at least, the farmer should have some machinery, or some body, charged with making recommendations on his behalf, now that he has been told for the first time that he shall bear all the cost of disposing of his surplus wheat.

The Minister said he did not know what advantage there would be. The advantage would be a lesser levy. If the suggested price were adopted by the Ministers, and if that suggested price were higher, 300,000 tons or whatever the figure would be, would be disposed of at that higher price and there would be less loss and, consequently, the levy would be less. At the present moment, even though costs of production go up, the wheat grower has no guarantee whatever that cognisance will be taken of that by anybody, and he will always be working on the price in 1957.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Is the amendment being pressed?


Amendment put and declared negatived.

Amendments Nos. 3 and 4 not moved.
Sections 3 and 4 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:—

To add a new sub-section as follows:—

Profits accruing to the board in respect of each crop, after the rate of wheat levy has been fixed, shall remain in the fund, and shall be taken into account by the Minister in fixing the rate of wheat levy the following year.

The Minister cannot be always right in fixing the amount of the wheat levy. That goes without saying. Bad weather, an act of God and many other factors enter into it. There will be times when the Minister will find himself in error and when the board will make a profit.

Under Section 8, the board is entitled to do many things such as to purchase buildings and equip premises. I do not consider it right that from a profit made on the wheat harvest in one year —not through the Minister's intention but because he is human—premises should be built with money rightly belonging to the farmers in that year instead of passing it on to them in the following year. Section 5 deals with the fund and there is nothing in it to ensure that all profits made through an error in the fixing of the wheat levies are passed on to the farmer in the following year. I should like to hear the Minister on that point.

There is no intention of doing anything other than leaving the sum that might be there at the end of the season. It has been the intention all the time. Questions have been addressed to me in the Dáil on this matter and I have deliberately stated that any sum of money over and above what is required, as a result of the levy asked at the beginning of the year, will in the year following remain in the fund for the benefit of the board.

Then the Minister will have no objection to accepting my amendment?

There is no necessity.

I disagree. After all, the Minister cannot live forever. Whereas he may give undertakings, there is no reason to expect that successive Governments will honour those undertakings. The Minister will understand that point. It is necessary that this amendment be included. It would be very wrong to devote moneys to the purposes I mention. Undertakings given by one Minister very often have been broken by the following Minister for practical reasons. This would not be a proper practical reason. The wheat grower should have that safeguard to ensure that moneys accruing could not be devoted to the purchase of equipment, provision of buildings and so on.

I think Senator Donegan has a point the Minister might consider. Although the Minister has quite bona fide and honestly given a promise that any extra money will in fact remain in the fund, another Minister, not even of his own Government, as Senator Donegan says, might not in fact carry out his pledge, which is only verbal. In fact, we have at present an example of that very thing. Deputy Sweetman, introducing the special import levies, undertook they would be used for capital purposes and would not be added to existing taxation. In fact, this Government have not carried out Deputy Sweetman's undertaking, which is on all fours with this. If the intention is that these money should remain in, I cannot see why the Minister will not agree to have it inserted.

If the Senator reads Section 5, he will see that power is given to the board. No power is given to me or anybody else to take from them money in excess of their requirements. No matter what Government the Minister is a member of, so long as the Bill does not give him power to take money from the board and if Section 5 gives the board power to invest or re-invest money, surely that conveys, without any assurance from me, that it is the board has the power?

Whatever may be conveyed, there is the danger still. I do not believe the Minister would go back on his undertaking, but subsequent Ministers may. The instance given by Senator McGuire is very valuable and deals with a much bigger issue. Section 8 envisages the sort of thing I mention. It says:—

"(1) The board shall provide itself with such carriage, drying, handling and storage facilities for its wheat as it considers necessary.

(2) For the purposes of sub-section (1) of this section the board may—

(a) arrange with the owners of such facilities for their use by or on behalf of the board,

(b) with the consent of the Minister, build, equip and maintain premises,

(c) with the consent of the Minister, purchase or taken on hire machinery, vehicles and equipment..."

In later years, if the board could not get money to do some of the things suggested in Section 8—and also in Section 9, I think—possibly it would look for consent from the Minister, not the present Minister, to use the moneys accruing as a result of an error in fixing the wheat levy. The following Minister might not live up to the present Minister's undertaking.

He must live up to it. He would have to come to Parliament and seek power. So long as he would have to do that, surely the board have all the rights that can be given to them?

I submit there is full power in Section 5 to do what is envisaged in Section 8.

I cannot convince the Senator. I am giving the House an assurance. It is not a question of my own personal word as Minister, whether I would keep it or not or whether a possible successor would break it. I am giving the House the assurance that, according to our interpretation, there is no power vested in me to take money from the board. The section we are discussing gives the board power to invest money surplus to their requirements from time to time and to sell and to buy from time to time. Seeing that I am not given power, then there is no question of somebody following me breaking my word. It is not provided in the Bill that any Minister would have the right to take any money found to be surplus from year to year.

The Minister may not be the person who would take the money. The board might take the money with the consent of the Minister. The Minister just stated it is empowered to do so. I submit I am entitled to have given to me by the Minister the phrase contained in Section 5 whereby the board would be precluded from doing in future years what I imply. I cannot find the words.

Do the introductory words in Section 5 not bind the board?

"The board shall establish, maintain and manage in accordance with this Act, a fund..."

I do not see how any Minister or anybody else can alter that by any subterfuge.

Section 5, sub-section (2) (b) states:—

"...there shall be paid out of the fund the purchase price of wheat purchased by the board and the amount of any expenses (including expenses of carriage, drying, handling, storage and insurance of wheat) incurred by the board in connection with its transactions in relation to the purchase or sale of wheat, and all other outlay or expenses incurred by the board in fulfilling its functions or otherwise under this Act."

Now turn to Section 8. Take sub-section (2) (b), for example. It reads:—

"For the purposes of sub-section (1) of this section the board may——

(b) with the consent of the Minister, build, equip and maintain premises,".

I take it from these two sub-sections in two different sections of the Bill that the board has power, with the consent of the Minister, to use moneys accruing as a result of a mistake in the fixing of the wheat levy for the purpose of building, equipping and maintaining premises. Where is the appropriate sub-section or phrase in the Bill that precludes the board from so doing?

The amendment has nothing to do with that question. The amendment was an afterthought to the amendment which preceded it and which has been ruled out of order by the Chair which said that any moneys in excess of what the levy provided in any year would be made good by the Exchequer.

The amendment which we are now discussing followed that line of thought and said that should there be any money over and above in the hands of the board, in excess of what is necessary, the Minister has no power to take it for any purpose other than the purpose for which it was collected. In other words, as far as the State and the growers are concerned, it is a question of "heads you win, harps I lose", whatever way you put it.

Amendment No. 4 was ruled out of order and amendment No. 5 seeks to do something which the Bill itself fully provides for, namely, to ensure that moneys collected by the board by way of levy, and found to be in excess of the board's requirements to do the work entrusted to it, cannot be taken from the board by any means unless the law is amended. When this Bill becomes an Act, no Minister will be able to take for any other purpose moneys in the fund unless he comes to the Oireachtas and provides himself with authority that is not there.

The Minister may permeate through my thought processes when I was putting down these amendments as much as he likes. He has not addressed himself to my specific request that he should indicate under Section 5 or Section 8, or any other section, the sections, sub-section or phrase in which what is considered in this amendment is safeguarded.

When I was putting down these amendments I deliberately did so because I saw a danger of using money that might accrue as a result of a mistake by the Minister or his advisers for the purpose of building, equipping or maintaining premises or equipment —money that should be passed back directly to the farmer. On a free vote, I think this House would think the same. I am entitled to hear from the Minister the phrase that precludes the board from doing that.

Senator Donegan is getting very hot under the collar about nothing. I can see his aims. They are fully covered by the words in Section 5, sub-section (2) of the Minister's Bill which states:—

"The following provisions shall apply in relation to the fund..."

—and the provisions are then set out (a), (b), (c), (d), (e) and (f). They are the only uses to which the fund set up by the Minister can be applied. I do not see any point in the amendment. Senator Donegan drew a very long bow in mentioning the import levy. That was a matter of the revenue from that taxation being transferred from one branch of Government activity to another. It has nothing to do with taking money from the board or anything of that nature.

There is no analogy between the manner in which the import levy was applied and what Senator Donegan seeks to imply can be done with the fund of the Grain Board. The provisions are set out and that should settle the matter.

Senator Lehihan has not been listening. I have addressed myself to Section 5 sub-section (2) and paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (e) and (f). I have quoted in extenso from it. I shall have to do so again, although some of it may be repetition, but I have to make my point again if the Senator has not understood me. Paragraph (b) of sub-section (2) of Section 5 provides that “there shall be paid out of the fund the purchase price of wheat purchased by the board and the amount of any expenses (including expenses of carriage, drying, handling, storage and insurance of wheat) incurred by the board in connection with its transactions in relation to the purchase or sale of wheat”—here is the relevant point—“and all other outlay or expenses incurred by the board in fulfilling its functions or otherwise under this Act.”

I submit that, defined as a function under this Act, is the provision in Section 8 (2) (b):—

"For the purposes of sub-section (1) of this section the board may ...with the consent of the Minister, build, equip and maintain premises.".

All it needs to spend the money that accrues as a result of a mistake in fixing the wheat levy is a different Minister.

All the sub-section in Section 8 refers to is "build, equip and maintain premises". In what way does Senator Donegan's amendment affect that?

My amendment says that they shall not do that with money accrued as a result of a mistake in the fixing of the wheat levy.

The Senator should apparently have put down an amendment to delete Section 8 (2) (b). That seems to be his only objection. His amendment does not apparently cover what he wants to cover. His amendment is directed to the fact that they might build premises with moneys that accrue. This is a perfectly reasonable provision in the Bill that the board should be able to meet expenses it may have, including taking premises or possibly building premises. If that is the point to which Senator Donegan objects, he should have put down an amendment to delete that sub-section. What he has put down in irrelevant and does not cover the point he has in mind. This is a very straightforward Bill and I think it would have remained so except for the efforts to confuse it.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

We are dealing with the section.

I am getting back to it.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I am doing my utmost to keep as close as possible to the matter.

It is clear that the Bill lays down specifically what the Minister and the board may do with funds. It is also obvious that the Minister or the board may only do with funds what is laid down in this Bill. There is no need to have an amendment or a section saying that the Minister or the board may not do (a), (b), (c), (d) or (e), for example They can do only what is laid down. By implication, they may not do anything else. There is no necessity for the negative.

These legal eagles on the opposite benches annoy me. If I have to teach these legal eagles on the far side, then it is a poor look out. In Section 5 (2) (b) the moneys can be withdrawn from the fund for anything that can be defined as equivalent to the functions of the board. I shall now take an example. I have no objection in certain instances to doing what is provided in Section 8 (2) (b). It is, however, provided in Section 5 (2) (b) that the board could withdraw money from the fund for this function. In that fund, apart from what is destined to be used for paying for this surplus wheat by the various mathematical calculations, there shall only be money accrued through a mistake in the fixing of the wheat levy and the money can be withdrawn from that fund to buy, build, equip or maintain premises, no matter what the legal eagles may say. That is not correct. The only possible thing that it could be used for correctly is to maintain a private premises; it could not be used to build one. The farmer who grows ten acres of wheat and pays a levy should not be expected to provide moneys from the outcome of that wheat for capital expenditure for building.

How does your amendment achieve that?

We will take an example. If there is a profit accruing to the board, as a result of a mistake in fixing the levy, of £500,000, that shall remain in the grain fund and shall be, I presume, invested in gilt edged securities, and in the following year, the Minister when fixing the levy shall take cognisance of that amount.

Does the Senator want to strip the board of all its functions? Is it the Senator's point that they cannot build premises?

The gentlemen on the far side have got a big majority tonight. If they were pleading in a court of justice, they would take a different view.

Amendment put and declared negatived.

Sections 5 and 6 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6:—

In sub-section (1) (a), lines 32 and 33, to delete "(excluding wheat imported for milling)".

This specific exclusion of wheat imported for milling is, in my view, an incorrect thing to do. At present, the cost of foreign wheat to a flour miller is 74/6 a barrel and the approximate cost of Irish wheat is 87/6 a barrel, so that any flour miller who would use one barrel more of Irish wheat in his grist than he is compelled to use, would not be a very good businessman. I had hoped that this board would endeavour to increase the amount of Irish wheat in the grist, but since other amendments were defeated, I am afraid there is not much hope of that. If one looks at Section 7, one thinks that in later years the board could make it more profitable for millers to use more Irish wheat, than specified in the national percentage. If the miller can produce good flour by using more Irish wheat, I think some sort of economic set-up would be possible whereby he would derive extra profit. I think that the profit incentive is a most important thing. So long as it works in the converse direction, so long will large mills want to use more and more foreign wheat in the grist. I think in Section 7 when all the powers that are necessary are taken by the board in regard to the importation of other cereals, etc., and when the board does all the work at present done by Grain Importers, that it should take the right to import foreign wheat for mills. One could see a position where foreign wheat was one shilling higher in price than Irish whaet. If that power were taken, this Minister or succeeding Ministers could consider such a scheme, and the profit incentive could be implemented.

The argument used in support of this amendment is an argument that has been used freely in support of amendments already. As Minister for Agriculture, I have the right to restrict the importation of wheat by millers. Every Minister for Agriculture has the right to do so. Why then, since that right is vested in the Minister, should whatever wheat the flour millers are permitted to use, be imported by some other body?

It was necessary that such should be the case during the emergency years and such wheat as we were able to get was imported through the activities of Grain Importers, Limited. After the emergency, that practice was continued for some time, but the millers have been agitating for a right, which I can understand, to import their requirements so long as these requirements are controlled by the Minister, having regard to the policy pursued in relation to wheat in the grist and the extraction rate. There is no justification in the light of the remarks which I have made for this amendment and for giving to the board this power. That power lies with the Minister for Agriculture from day to day. In this particular setting, the people who are the owners of the establishments in which the flour requirements of the country are manufactured should have the right to import themselves, from whatever source they decided, the quality they wish to purchase, and so on, so long as I have the overriding right to permit by licence only that amount which is required to provide the loaf that has been determined as the loaf that should be provided.

This is an extraordinary exclusion. If we address ourselves to Section 7, we see that those powers are being taken in relation to all cereals except those for use in flour milling. At the moment, the Minister has the right to exclude cereals from the home market or he can grant import licences. Yet in this Bill he takes powers to second to this board the importation of brans, pollards, barleys and maize for use by everybody all over the place but the holy shibboleth of the millers is not to be touched. Even though these powers may not be used——

They have them.

They have not. It is specifically excluded——

I have the power to control every ounce of wheat they import.

Has the Minister power to fix the price?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Could we discuss this in an orderly way? The Senator should make his point and the Minister can reply to him.

The Minister has the power to admit or not to admit wheat for wheat or flour milling. The Minister, through the agency of Grain Importers, Limited, has the power to fix the price of maize, barley and any other cereal he likes, simply and solely by the board fixing a price. The Minister can do what he likes. He can say the price can be the same at every railway station in Ireland as it is at the moment, but he has specifically excluded from the Bill wheat imported for milling. At the present moment, the large port millers can suck this wheat at 74/6 off the mill floor. The millers in the centre of this country have to pay storage charges and haulage charges; yet the price of bread and flour, which the Minister says is not fixed, is fixed by the flour millers themselves and is not undercut by any of them. It must be fixed at a price which will allow the weakest to survive. Yet the Minister will not take the powers which he will probably never use to arrange the price of foreign wheat on every mill floor. The power is one which might result at some time in the future in the use of more Irish wheat. I do not see why it should be specifically excluded. If the Minister is not so worried about it, why does he exclude it?

It is only an enabling section.

The argument advanced in support of this amendment also is that we should provide some machinery that could be used directly and indirectly for a purpose about which the Senator has been speaking most of the evening, that is, the all-Irish loaf. I told him in relation to this amendment that there is no need for it since the percentages are determined by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, in consultation with the Minister for Agriculture, and, following that, the Minister for Agriculture has the right to determine by licence the amount of foreign wheat that will be taken into the country.

What the Senator suggests is that somebody should have the power to put a tax on that foreign wheat, but the Government have even that right, if they decide to use it. I do not think that a Government would ever be so crazy as to take that course, but that right exists. I have no objection, if the Senator wishes, to continuing this discussion about the all-Irish loaf all over the place and making every case on every amendment with that at the back of my mind, but I do not think it would get us anywhere.

The position is clearly this. The Minister for Industry and Commerce determines the national percentage, in consultation with me. Therefore, the amount of foreign wheat is largely determined by that decision and that amount can be imported only as a result of a licence from me as Minister for Agriculture. There is nothing left but the single issue of the taxation on foreign wheat and the Senator wants to give this job to the board so that the board will from time to time have the right to decide questions that could only be decided, in all justice and fairness to the people, by the elected Government.

The Minister suggests taxation. I did not suggest taxation. What I suggested was a moving of moneys so that some time in the future, if it was found advantageous to the Irish wheat growers, foreign wheat would cost as much on the mill floor as Irish wheat so as to encourage the use of greater quantities of Irish wheat fixed for that particular period of time by the national percentage.

Amendment put and declared negatived.

Section 7 agreed to.

Can we get any idea as to whether it is intended to prolong this discussion beyond the normal hour and, if so, could we get agreement to sit late?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator ought to have raised that matter before nine o'clock.

We will finish the Bill.

We are agreeable to go on until 10.30 p.m.

There is not very much left.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

If members are prepared to facilitate the conduct of the business, we might be able to get it all over at ten o'clock. Apparently the view is that we will finish the Committee Stage to-night.

It was understood we would finish all the stages.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Yes; I am sorry. We might take the remaining stages to-morrow. The conduct of the business is in the hands of the members themselves. I hope they appreciate that, and I hope they will facilitate the Chair.


I move amendment No. 7:—

In sub-section (2) (b), line 46, before "and" to insert "purchase".

With your permission, Sir, I will discuss amendments Nos. 7 and 8 together. In this section, power is given to the board to purchase premises and to use them for grain drying and storage. In this country, there is a specific need for grain drying and storage at certain points. While lorries have certainly enlarged the scope of any one grain drying and storage installation in any district, ten or 15 miles can mean the end of that scope. The building, the equipping and the setting up of this sort of premises is something which is most specific. It should be done in certain areas and it should be done, if possible, by private enterprise.

My amendments suggest that the board should be empowered to set up these facilities themselves only where satisfactory facilities at normal and reasonable rates are not available or offered by co-operative societies and private enterprise. We have too many Government-instituted boards and companies which are interfering with the business of private citizens. I think that grain drying and storage must be stepped up. A lot has been stepped up as a result of the Grain Storage (Loans) Act. It must be done in a specific way so as not to interfere with the efforts of co-operative societies and private enterprise. If the Minister allows these amendments to be inserted, they would be a safeguard and would ensure that the installations were built in the right places, if any are being built, and that there would not be undue interference with co-operative societies and private enterprise.

I do not think any of these fears arise at all. I could not agree more with anybody or with any statement that this board or, indeed, any other board, especially a semi-State board, should not interfere in activities that are far more successfully and profitably pursued by private enterprise. In preparing a measure of this nature, the draftsman must provide for every contingency. This scheme could not work at all without the assistance of the millers and their agents, the facilities which they have in the way of stores, organisation and equipment. We will be depending on these gentlemen, on their employees and their whole organisation. This provision in the Bill is, like every other provision in this and other Bills, provided by the draftsman to give overriding powers and exceptional authority to deal with very exceptional situations which almost never arise and which we hope will never arise. I do not see any need for amendment of this section. What will happen is what has happened in the past.

In regard to this amendment and the others that follow, we will have to depend on private enterprise and full co-operation in implementing this scheme. That was one of the first things it was necessary to secure and I secured it. Whatever would appear to be an indication in this Bill that a different course would be pursued by the board, there is nothing further from my mind.

I am not interested in the Minister's mind, or what the Minister's mind may be to-day or to-morrow. I am prepared to accept his good faith, without a shadow of doubt; but I still say that the safeguard would not be any harm. It would mean that, if this board in a certain area in the South, for example, decided to set up an installation to do a specific job, a co-operative society could say that the ramifications of the board might mean their business would be harmed. They could come along and for reasonable rates—the same specific sort of commissions that are so absolute in the grain trade, as everyone knows—and they could offer to do the job for the same price as the Grain Board, so that private enterprise would have the first fling.

This is an important section. I think Senator Donegan is right; and I ask the Minister to consider his amendment. I believe the Minister wishes to give us an undertaking and is sincere, but it could be written into the Bill. The Minister can act in good faith only as long as he is Minister. If the Bill empowers a Minister, another Minister will have the power. We know that some State companies are engaging in trade which could well be done by private individuals. I know of cases where private individuals were given facilities and State companies came along, right next door, with special privileges and competed against them.

I am glad to see that the Minister is in accord with us on this, but I want to remind him and other Ministers that they act only for the time being. When he ceases to be Minister for Agriculture, it may be that a colleague of his or a member of a different Government will have different views. This will be the law of the land and he should put in the safeguard now.

I agree that it should be the law of the land. I agree that a provision of this nature in a Bill of this kind is necessary, even if the policy to be pursued by the board, with the full approval of the Minister, should be as I have outlined. After all, suppose the provision of that nature in Section 8 were not there, would not the fact that it was not there rob the board and the Government of the negotiating power it has with private enterprise? I am a full respecter of private enterprise and realise to the maximum the advantages that private enterprise can confer. I also can see what may happen when a State Department or a board is left without any protection in its negotiation with private enterprise to arrange for the storage of surplus wheat, the drying of it, the haulage of it and so on. It is a useful thing to have something in the nature of the power conferred here. Then the board will not be absolutely at the mercy of private enterprise, which otherwise could say: "You are depending upon us."

This amendment does not seek to rob the board of those powers.

I believe that the Bill should contain powers of this nature. I agree that I give only my personal assurance regarding their use, but I still agree that the Bill should contain the powers. If the demands of private enterprise proved extravagant, the board could then say: "If you do not try to meet us, we will resort to something to which we did not want to resort." I certainly would defend that approach anywhere and everywhere.

Senator Donegan's amendment does not seek to rob the Minister of those powers. It imposes a specific duty on the Minister to see that private enterprise is given that opportunity.

The specific nature of the amendment is to see that what the Minister says would not occur "where satisfactory facilities at normal and reasonable rates are not available or offered." In other words, if they are not available or offered, then they can mill, buy, equip and maintain. If they are available or offered, they should be availed of. The minute they stop being reasonable in their rates, it becomes open to the board to build and maintain what they wish. Without digressing, I may say that we all know the E.S.B. are selling flat irons in competition with traders next door. One cannot see what alleys this Bill may traverse; one can only set up the board and be extremely careful as to the manner of doing so.

The board has the right to determine what is reasonable and what is not. None of us here could determine what is reasonable. If the board finds that the demands of private enterprise are unreasonable, I say the board should have power to take other action. That is what I am providing for and that is what I regard as entirely reasonable.

Under my amendment, the board has the right to go ahead, where the rates are not reasonable. It is only where the rates are reasonable that they are not allowed to compete with private enterprise. The Minister refuses to allow his mind to assimilate and use the words and terms used in the amendment: "where satisfactory facilities at normal and reasonable rates are not available or offered." If a co-operative society built a grain storage and drying plant for use by the board and if, three years later, it could be proved that their rates were not reasonable, the board could leave them with that capital expenditure of no further use to them and could build for themselves.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 12; Níl, 24.

  • Barry, Anthony.
  • Burke, Denis.
  • Carton, Victor.
  • Davidson, Mary F.
  • Donegan, Patrick.
  • L'Estrange, Gerald.
  • McGuire, Edward A.
  • O'Leary, Johnny.
  • O'Sullivan, John L.
  • Sheridan, Joseph M.
  • Stanford, William B.
  • Tunney, James.


  • Ahern, Liam.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Carter, Frank.
  • Cole, John C.
  • Colley, Harry.
  • Connolly O'Brien, Nora.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Dowdall, Jane.
  • Fitzsimons, Patrick.
  • Hayes, Seán.
  • Hogan, Daniel.
  • Kissane, Éamon.
  • Lahiffe, Robert.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • O'Callaghan, William.
  • Ó Donnabháin, Seán.
  • Ó Grádaigh, Seán.
  • Ó Maoláin, Tomás.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick.
  • Ó Siochfhradha, Pádraig.
  • Ruane, Thomas.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Teehan, Patrick J.
  • Walsh, Louis.
Tellers:—Tá: Senators Burke and Donegan; Níl: Senators Carter and Ó Donnabháin.
Amendment declared negatived.
Amendment No. 8 not moved.
Sections 8 to 11, inclusive, agreed to.
Amendment No. 9 not moved.
Section 12 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 10:—

In sub-section (4) (b), line 33, before "be" to insert "not".

I believe the manager should not be a member of the board. The board is appointed by the Minister and would have the manager always available to it. The manager is also appointed by the Minister and I believe he should not be a voting member of the board but should be in an advisory capacity and in the same position as an officer.

I take the view we should not tie ourselves down to saying whether he should or should not be. There are circumstances in which the chairman could be manager and there are circumstances in which the chairman would not be. I believe the manager should be appointed in the ordinary way and have no connection with the board but I do not agree that we should just provide that he must not be a member.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 13 to 25, inclusive, agreed to.

I move amendment No. 11:—

In paragraph 2 (1) to delete all words from and including "such" in line 8, down to the end of the sub-paragraph and substitute "six members".

I believe the wording of the section which deals with the number on the board is far too loose and, if I might be blunt, gives far too much power to the Minister to see to it that the majority of the board are, shall we say, of the same mind as himself. The provision with regard to there being no less than four or more than eight could mean that if a member of the board became ill, was unable to discharge his functions and that nobody else substituted him, the board could be manipulated—I do not imply that the present Minister would seek, by framing legislation, to give himself that power —so that whatever Minister might be in power could have a majority of the board of the same mind as himself. An exact specification of the number of members on the board would be far better. My amendment would bring about a situation whereby the board would consist of a chairman and six members.

I do not think there is anything in this. The provision in the Bill is that the board should consist of not less than four or more than eight. On an earlier amendment the Senator was recommending that fairly wide interests should be represented on the board. He mentioned the growers, naturally, as they are the people who will pay this levy; he mentioned the co-operative organisation, and although he may not have mentioned them as specifically as I am mentioning them now, I think he also had in mind the compound millers. There is no reason why, if you had places for them, you would not introduce, perhaps, pig-feeding interests as well. Therefore, I do not think it is unreasonable to ask for not less than four or more than eight. If the growers were to get reasonable representation on a geographical basis on a board of six, I would not have many places left to provide for the other interests the Senator himself, at an earlier stage, seemed to think it would be desirable to have on the board.

I cannot agree with the Minister. To give an example, he could nominate two growers and three other interests, and he still has a personal nomination in the chairman.

It must be remembered that the whole scheme depends upon goodwill and co-operation on the part of those who may be affected. While I have the right to nominate the chairman and all the members of the board and ignore every other consideration, the facts are that the more goodwill and co-operation we have the more likely the effort is to be successful. Therefore, whatever my own inclinations or feelings might be I would naturally have to take decisions based upon the desire to achieve that success.

If the success of the board depends upon the co-operation of the Minister would it not be a better idea if instead of having, say, six members nominated by the Minister, to stipulate that three of those will be representative of the growers? I would suggest that would provide a greater chance of getting the co-operation of those concerned.

I did not say during the course of this discussion nor would it be expected that I should say how I will constitute the board or how many members of any particular interest I shall appoint on it. However, it would be no harm to remind the Senator that even the people who claimed the right to be most strongly represented on this board have not asked for the number that apparently he thinks the Minister should be prepared to give them.

Is the Senator pressing the amendment?

Does he want a division?


Amendment put and declared negatived.

I move amendment No. 12:—

Before paragraph 2 (2) to insert a new sub-paragraph as follows:—

( ) Before the formation of each new board, responsible interested bodies, the naming of nominated Minister for nominations to the board, and the Minister shall have due regard to the claims of such bodies the naming of nominated members to be by the nominating bodies themselves.

My desire in moving this amendment is that representative bodies who should have representation on the board—representatives of the growers, the National Farmers' Association, and so on—shall have the right to nominate their own members, that the Minister shall specify only the number of members, and that these individual bodies shall have their rightful place upon the board. This is most important because if we look for co-operation we should do everything to ensure that the bodies we hope will work on this board will not be people who, as often happens, are appointed because they are personal friends of the Minister or the Government of the time. That is true not only of this Government but of all Governments. I shall not give examples but everybody knows it is true. It would be far wiser if the Minister merely specified the number of persons to be appointed on the board and allowed the bodies whom he named to nominate their own representatives.

It is necessary that all bodies who feel they have a right to be represented on the board should have the right officially to make representations to the Minister that that right be accorded to them and it is better to adopt this way of dealing with the matter and that the Minister should follow the procedure laid down religiously because the nominated members will then go on the board knowing they are in no way tainted by their Government affiliations, no matter what Government may be in power. Politics will not enter into it.

I am not interested personally in this, and I am not interested in the persons who may be nominated, but I am interested in the matter of the persons being nominated by Governments and open to criticism later on and suggestions that they should not operate on that board. I am not going to give any examples, except to say that the Minister would be most wise if he merely gives nominating rights to certain bodies and allows those bodies to fill the vacancies themselves.

I should like to support Senator Donegan on this. The Minister would save himself a considerable amount of trouble from time to time if he were able to say this action had been taken by a board wholly, or at least in majority, representing various outside bodies. There have been boards in the past which have ceased to function and which when they were functioning, were subject to much criticism. The Minister's predecessor in another case was subject to great criticism because the members of a board were nominated members, but at that time—many years ago—there were no farmers' organisations such as we have at present and that made it difficult for the Minister. This amendment would protect the Minister. He can ask the farmers' organisation to give him, say, six names and he can select three names, and in all cases these will be people suggested by the body concerned. By getting a panel of names, the Minister will ensure that he can select the ones he prefers.

No Minister, merely for the sake of freeing himself from the possibility of criticism, should desert his responsibilities. If that doctrine is to be preached by members of this House or any other House, it will certainly be resisted by me. I have said that, especially in a case of this kind, a Minister should consult closely with the bodies immediately concerned in this problem, but I have only eight places and a Minister must have regard to the interests that will be affected by the activities of a board like this. There is no denying that these interests have already been making representations to me, not two or three, but many interests, and they claim the right to be represented on the board, a right which will be conceded to them but which cannot be conceded to the extent that they have the right to select the members of the board. Who is to decide a question like this except the Minister? Surely a Minister will not hand this whole business over to these bodies and say: "You elect the board."

The Bill provides that whatever persons are nominated by those bodies, it is the Minister who will appoint. I shall appoint the chairman, however he may be chosen, but the overriding consideration is that this is a measure which requires the retention of the general confidence of those who envisaged this scheme. It is my hope that confidence will be retained and I shall try to get the growers represented, having regard to the fact that they are the contributors to the fund, the compound millers and the co-operative movement, if I can. I should like to give some representation if they would take it—but, incidentally, so far they have not shown they are anxious to take it—to the flour millers. I think they should be represented on this board because I am depending on the flour millers and this scheme depends on them and the organisation which they have for the purchase, storage and drying of wheat. For that reason, I should like to see them on the board, although they have said they do not want to be associated with this activity at all.

Having regard to all these matters— and Senators have urged me to have regard to them—I do not see why I should accept an amendment like this which provides for something which is already there, something which is already happening, in that different organisations are submitting names to me from which to choose three, four or five. I still have only eight places and in the composition of the board, I must have regard to what will be representative not only from the point of view of the trade interest but also the feeding interest and geographical interests.

I am very pleased that the Minister wishes to have the flour millers represented on this board and when a decision is being reached, I hope the Minister will give them representation, but there is a danger in this situation that the Minister describes, in which associations or bodies submit names to the Minister. He knows he can appoint only two or, perhaps, one and there is every danger that the appointment would be regarded as political. I would think that the fair and proper method would be for the Minister, instead of saying that John Brown will represent the National Farmers' Association on this board, to write to the National Farmers' Association saying that he was giving them one representative on the board and ask them to forward a name within, say, seven days, or something like that. That would be a far better way of doing it and the Minister would be certain that he would not be accused of making a political appointment. There would not be the slightest doubt about that.

I think that the other method would be a very slovenly way of doing it. There is the temptation, if you like, in the case of any politician, where a number of names are submitted, for the politician to look at those names and to select from among them the man he knows agrees with his own politics. I am sure the Minister will accept that; at least I accept it and I think everybody here accepts it. Most of us are not saints, but we are politicians and that temptation, therefore, exists. Why should the Minister allow people to think that he did not resist the temptation? Why not set out by saying to the body concerned that it will have one representative and let that body name the man?

The Minister spoke about deserting responsibilities and said he would not do that but, unfortunately, that is exactly what he is doing in this Bill because it is setting up a board to do a job that he is not prepared to do himself—cut the price of wheat. We know that if an increase in price were being given, the Minister would not set up a board; he would give the increase himself and he himself, his Party, and Senator Lenihan would claim credit for it. In this Bill, the Minister is shirking his own responsibility and passing it on to the board.

A Chathaoirligh, this has no relation to the amendment.

The Cathaoirleach knows his business and is able to do his duty without any advice from Senator Ó Maoláin.

I submit it has no relation to the amendment.

The producers, whose co-operation the Minister wants, are the people the Minister has admitted will have to foot the bill, and I think he ought to show his good faith by accepting the amendment.

There is no use in the Minister saying he will accept the responsibility, if this board is not a success. I know that boards have not been a success in the past because they had nominated representatives. That happened when there were no associations, but, when these associations are in existence, the Minister should accept nominations from them.

Is it intended to have trade union representatives on this board? There are 2,000 people engaged in the flour milling industry and, since the flour millers will have a say, so should the workers.

The flour millers will not take a say in it.

They are afraid there may be too many kicking them around.

Amendment put and declared negatived.

Amendment No. 13 not moved.

I move amendment No. 14:—

To delete paragraph 8 and substitute the following:—

(8) Any member of the board guilty of serious misconduct may be named by the Minister, and on a majority of the board voting that he is so guilty, shall cease to be a members of the board forthwith.

This paragraph of the Schedule is an extraordinary provision. It states that the Minister may at any time remove a member of the board from office. The Minister takes full powers to do that, but he is not bound to give any reasons for the removal of a member of the board from office. I do not think any Minister has ever taken such power and I do not think a Minister has ever used such a power. It is dictatorial and I believe my amendment is more in keeping with the ordinary privileges and dignity of the individual.

My amendment seeks that where there is serious misconduct on the part of a member of the board, he shall be removed only on being named by the Minister, and on a majority vote of the board. If the original provision is allowed to stand, each member of the board will be afraid to express his honest views in public, in case his head may roll. There is far too much of this in Irish life and I would ask the Minister to accept this amendment.

The Minister did not answer my question.

We are on a different amendment now.

He evaded my question.

The Senator will have to wait for a later stage.

Question put: "That the paragraph proposed to be deleted stand part of the Bill."
The Committee divided: Tá, 23; Níl, 10.

  • Ahern Liam.
  • Brady, Seán.
  • Carter, Frank.
  • Cole, John C.
  • Colley, Harry.
  • Connolly O'Brien, Nora.
  • Crowley, Tadhg.
  • Dowdall, Jane.
  • Fitzsimons, Patrick.
  • Hogan, Daniel.
  • Kissane, Éamon.
  • Lahiffe, Robert.
  • Lenihan, Brian.
  • O'Callaghan, William.
  • Ó Donnabháin, Seán.
  • Ó Grádaigh, Seán.
  • Ó Maoláin, Tomás.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick.
  • Ó Siochfhradha, Pádraig.
  • Ruane, Thomas.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Teehan, Patrick J.
  • Walsh, Louis.


  • Barry, Anthony.
  • Baxter, Patrick F.
  • Burke, Denis.
  • Carton, Victor.
  • Donegan, Patrick.
  • L'Estrange, Gerald.
  • McGuire, Edward A.
  • O'Leary, Johnny.
  • O'Sullivan, John L.
  • Tunney, James.
Tellers:—Tá: Senators Carter and Ó Donnabháin; Níl: Senators Burke and Donegan.
Question declared carried.
Amendment negatived.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Agreed to take remaining stages to-day.
Bill received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

Senator O'Leary put a question to me as to the possibility of giving representation on the board to the trade unions which, he explained, were also interested in this matter. I do not know in what way the interests of the trade unions could be affected. As I told the Seanad, I invited the flour millers to act. We were asking them to purchase the wheat, to pay for it, to deduct the levy and to dry and store the wheat. We asked them would they be interested in being represented on this board, but that is a different matter from that mentioned by Senator O'Leary.

These flour millers would be very glad if the amount of flour required were to increase. It would also be into their barrow if the consumption of flour were to increase. It would also be into the barrow of the workers, in that it would provide more employment. They would not be affected by the proposed activities of the board which would be the disposal, other than by conversion into flour, of any surplus wheat we may find ourselves with. It is a question of the disposal of it as animal feed, or if not entirely needed for that purpose, the disposal of it otherwise, perhaps by export. In that sense, I do not think there would be any point in giving representation to trade unions. In my opinion, their interests could not be affected by anything this board would do. The more wheat converted into flour, the better it will be for this board, for the growers and for the trade unions in which the Senator is interested.

The amendments put down this evening by Senator Donegan, which he argued at great length and with great care, were intended to improve the actual contents of this Bill. Although the House is being kept very late, we should like to express our disappointment that once more, as has happened many other times, the Minister has not seen fit to accept a single suggestion from a well-intentioned member of the House. This is one of the things that bring this House into contempt and we are sorry.

Question put and agreed to.
The Seanad adjourned at 10.40 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday, 24th July, 1958.