Pigs and Bacon (Amendment) Bill, 1961—Second Stage.

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

The purpose of this Bill is broadly two-fold: first, to re-organise the Pigs and Bacon Commission and, second, to centralise in the Commission our main exports of bacon. These proposed changes have emanated from a report on the Export of Bacon and other Pigmeat presented by the Advisory Committee on the Marketing of Agricultural Produce. The Advisory Committee's Report was published and the Government's conclusions thereon were included in the White Paper published on the "Export Marketing of Irish Agricultural Produce".

With a view to improving the export marketing of bacon, the Advisory Committee recommended that exports in the form of Wiltshire sides and major cuts including the back should be centralised in a re-organised Pigs and Bacon Commission, which would export a more or less steady weekly quantity to a reduced number of agents in Britain. For some years past the existing Pigs and Bacon Commission have operated a bacon export quota arrangement under which the individual curers are given fortnightly export allocations in proportion to their slaughterings of good-quality bacon pigs. Up to May of last year, the export quotas allotted represented a percentage, fixed every fortnight, of a curer's slaughterings of Grade A pigs and the exports were required to be Grade A bacon.

With the introduction of a higher grade—Grade A Special—for pigs in May, 1960, curers were required to include in their exports all the bacon, designated Extra Selected, derived from that higher grade of pig. There are minimum guaranteed prices to producers for Grade A Special and Grade A pigs, as well as for a marginal class designated Grade B1 pigs. The curers have been selling their exports of bacon from Grade A Special and Grade A pigs on a trader-to-trader basis; and Britain is by and large the only market. Under an export subsidy arrangement operated by the Pigs and Bacon Commission, the curers have been given an assured return for their bacon exports which is fixed in relation to the guaranteed minimum prices to producers for Grade A Special and Grade A pigs. The British market prices for the different grades of bacon from this and other countries are announced weekly through the London Provision Exchange and the rate of subsidy for our curers' weekly exports represents the difference between the Provision Exchange price and the return assured to the curers in relation to the minimum guaranteed price for pigs.

Our share of the British bacon market is a small one; in 1960, our exports represented only 5.5 per cent. of British bacon imports and 3.8 per cent. of total British bacon supplies. When we remember that our exports were sent in varying amounts by 36 curers, to even more than that number of purchasers or agents in Britain, and varied also in respect of presentation, etc., we can understand that we have not been in a very strong position as regards prices. I asked the Advisory Committee specially to look at these pricing aspects and they, too, were not satisfied about the fluctuations from time to time. To get the most out of the market the Advisory Committee recommended, and the Government agreed, that it would be desirable to centralise our main form of bacon exports to Britain, i.e., Wiltshire sides and major cuts which include the back, in the Pigs and Bacon Commission, and in that connection to include representatives of bacon curers and pig producers in the membership of the Commission.

Sections 7 to 9 of the Bill deal with the reorganisation of the membership of the Pigs and Bacon Commission. The 1939 Act provided for a chairman and two ordinary members, both of them being required to have served for at least eight years as officers of the Minister; the Chairman is at present also a Departmental officer. The Marketing Advisory Committee recommended that the Commission consist of three members nominated by pig producers, three nominated by bacon curers and pork exporters, two officers of the Department of Agriculture and an independent chairman selected by the eight other members. The White Paper on the Committee's reports stated that the Government proposed that the reorganised Commission include two representatives of producers, two representatives of curers and two Departmental officers in addition to the chairman. In the Bill this is changed by an increase of one in the curers' representatives and a reduction of one in the Departmental representation. This change followed representations to the Government on behalf of the entire bacon-curing trade, after the Government's intention was announced in the White Paper.

The period of office of the members of the Commission will be three years at a time. There will be an overlap of one year between the period of office of the chairman and that of the ordinary members, inasmuch as the Bill provides that the chairman of the existing Commission will be chairman of the reorganised Commission for the first year. This overlap, which would continue in future, should be useful in securing a degree of continuity in the functioning of the Commission, without going too far in that direction. After the first year, the chairman would be selected by the six ordinary members for a period of three years at a time.

The centralisation through the Commission of exports of bacon of specified grades, in the form of Wiltshire sides and major cuts which include the back, is provided for under Sections 23 to 25 of the Bill. Orders under Section 25 prohibiting the export of bacon except by or on behalf of the Commission will come before each House of the Oireachtas under Section 31. As to the precise lines on which the centralisation of actual exports by the Commission would operate, I think that this would have to be left to the Commission itself to determine. The Commission would, however, acquire title to the bacon before export and would pay curers for it, subject to quality and condition, at prices fixed by me after consultation with the Commission under Section 23 (4) of the Bill.

In this connection, the Marketing Advisory Committee's recommendations in their report were:—

Paragraph 47: The bacon should be purchased at an ex-factory price from the curers by the reorganised Pigs and Bacon Commission recommended by us later. This ex-factory price may have to be determined on a rough and ready basis at the start but as soon as possible it should be based on representative costings so that efficient operation of factories will be encouraged.

Paragraph 62: It (that is, the re-organised Commission) should ship bacon only to appointed agents in Britain, existing trade contacts and arrangements being maintained as far as possible.

Paragraph 64: Although in the matter of the appointment of agents the Commission should have regard to the curers' nominations, it is important that it should have a free hand in making appointments and also in regard to the renewal of appointments from time to time.

It will be for the Commission itself to decide what is best to arrange in these marketing matters. While I am not personally very keen on central marketing bodies, I have from the beginning felt that if there is one case where such a body should be able to make a worthwhile contribution to better marketing, bacon is the commodity for which centralisation could be best justified.

Section 27, dealing with powers of the Commission in relation to the development of markets for bacon and other pigmeat. Section 28 dealing with State grants to the Commission, and Section 29 dealing with State guarantee of loans to the Commission are, with appropriate modifications, in line with corresponding provisions in the recent Dairy Produce Marketing Act. Subparagraph (g) of Section 27, gives the Commission ample powers in regard to the development of exports of pork and other diversified pigmeat products as well as bacon.

I might perhaps explain that the bacon export subsidy hitherto paid by the Commission is met from two sources (1) a levy paid by curers on all pigs slaughtered for bacon, including slaughterings for the home bacon market, and (2) a contribution made by the Exchequer. Where in future the Commission is the centralised exporter of bacon, any losses incurred by the Commission on exports for which it has paid curers the prices fixed in relation to the guaranteed minimum prices payable by the curers for pigs, will also be met out of levies on pig slaughterings and State grants. Under Section 16 of the 1939 Act the Commission is empowered to borrow moneys to meet charges falling on it and, as I mentioned a few moments ago. Section 29 now provides for State guarantee of loans to the Commission in that connection.

In view of modern trends in regard to pre-packaging of food products including meat, especially with the advent of super-markets and self-service stores, I am taking powers under Section 26 of the Bill to make regulations on aspects of pre-packaging of bacon and pigmeats which would compare with control already exercised in regard to canned and open-pack meats of other kinds.

The position of the staff of the existing Pigs and Bacon Commission is suitably safeguarded under subsection (10) of Section 12 of the Bill. As in other recent legislation, subsection (5) of that section provides that the manner of the appointment of staff will be by public competition, subject to certain special exceptions which are specified. Provision is made under Section 22, again as in other recent legislation, enabling a staff superannuation scheme to be considered. The Bill contains a number of other less important amendments and extensions of the existing Pigs and Bacon Acts, the purpose of which has been indicated in the explanatory memorandum circulated to Senators with the Bill.

I am hopeful that the proposals in the Bill will strengthen the organisation of our export of bacon and other pigmeat in what is a keenly competitive market. Only if we adopt the most effective methods of export marketing, can we get the best out of steps we have already been taking to achieve efficiency and improve quality at breeding, feeding and factory levels. Amongst these steps I might mention the schemes for pig progeny testing, boar performance testing, pig herds accreditation and of course the guaranteed minimum prices for quality pigs. Piggery grants have been recently increased substantially to encourage more efficient rearing and fattening methods. Grants are also now being given for the modernisation of bacon curing premises and State assistance has been offered to the bacon and meat trades for the establishment, at trade level by these industries, of a meat research unit to help them with day-to-day processing, packaging and other trade matters.

On the production side, the position of the pig industry is encouraging. Pig numbers have increased substantially in the past couple of years. The 1960 June census figures were a post-war record and the figures for the January, 1961, census are the highest since the January census was introduced nearly 30 years ago. Pig deliveries to bacon factories in the second half of 1960 were also an all-time record; and since the beginning of 1961 the deliveries have been 18 per cent. up on the same period last year. Of the pigs graded at bacon factories since May, 1960, 11 per cent. have been of Grade A special standard and a further 55 per cent. of Grade A standard. Of the bacon exported to Britain during that period, in the form of Wiltshire sides and major cuts— which represented 96 per cent. of all bacon exports—23 per cent. has been of Extra Selected Grade and the remaining 77 per cent. of Grade A.

The Minister has read a very interesting factual memorandum on this Bill. One is apt to find when dealing with a measure of this sort, that the quantity of material, various reports and literature, dealing with the pig industry, is so vast that one has to try to select a few suitable pieces of material which might give some understanding of the general position and background of the industry. I propose to do this for two reasons and I believe the House and the Minister will bear with me. For many years, I have acted as honorary chairman, or vice-chairman of the Irish Bacon Curers Association and finding myself a member of this House, I now feel rather like the astronaut. I am ineligible for any official connection with the new Board. I believe that the interests of probity suggest that a provision of that sort should be written into this legislation, but it does pose for anybody who has some precise knowledge or experience of a trade such as I speak of, the problem of giving his views in as objective a manner as possible, or trying to make a contribution that will be disinterested, as far as it is possible for anyone to make a disinterested statement. I should like to say at the beginning that this is a very old industry. Many of our Irish people engaged in this industry were pioneers of the marketing of bacon in the commercial sense. When industry emerged from the parochial development stage at the beginning of the last century, the Irish were undoubtedly the pioneers of the marketing of bacon. As an item of international produce on the English market, I would say that this country was the forerunner in the business. It is most interesting and enlightening to read that families like the Thompsons of Cork were the pioneers of the Danish bacon industry and that the same family today operate two of the most important bacon factories in Yorkshire, and in cooperation with the Northern Ireland Farmers Association operate a very fine modern factory at Cookstown in Northern Ireland. They are also interested in marketing and have one of the finest marketing organisations for produce, fresh and cured, in the United Kingdom. The same can be said of other families and it is interesting to note, in passing, that for nearly half a century a representative of a firm that was first established in Waterford—the well-known firm of Denny—suggested the price which was accepted as the notional price for all bacon sold on the London Provision Exchange.

It is true to say that many of the factories we have and the families that run them have been in business for over 100 years and the remainder have about 50 years' experience in the trade. They must at least have the qualities and virtues necessary for survival in a highly competitive and difficult line of business. Between the first and second World Wars, the Irish bacon industry had to undergo many vicissitudes. There was a large increase in production towards the end of the twenties, which in fact was not common to this country alone, and the then Minister for Agriculture found it necessary to bring in a sliding scale of tariffs which stopped the dumping of very cheap cuts of bacon on the Irish market. Some cuts at that time were sold here as low as 15/- a cwt. and it promised to be disastrous for the pig producers. The sliding scale tariff which the Minister introduced provided, if I remember correctly, that no bacon less than 84/- a cwt. could be introduced into this country.

Later, it was found desirable to protect the market for the benefit of the Irish farmer and in 1933, a Pig Industry Tribunal sat. I do not want to bore the House with a lot of data but one or two references to that body are necessary because they show that some of the problems with which the Minister is endeavouring to deal under this Bill existed in 1933 and in some ways were as difficult then as they are at present.

In 1933, the British market was consuming about 10 per cent. less bacon than in recent years but the problem of irregularity of supply of pigs, which has been the major problem posed to both curers and the former Pigs and Bacon Boards, was much more acute at that time than it is now, though it is still very acute. It is interesting to see that in May, 1931, only 16,532 cwt. of bacon were available, while, in October of the same year, the figure was 38,705 cwt. You can quite see that with an increase of 250 per cent. in the amount available for marketing within months, there is a very acute problem for anyone given the responsibility of solving it, either private enterprise or private enterprise assisted by the State.

This Pig Industries Tribunal reported and a Pigs Marketing Board and a Bacon Marketing Board were set up. I want to refer briefly to one of the essential weaknesses of these boards. First of all, there were two boards. One had the problem of fixing bacon prices, etc., and the other of dealing with marketing arrangements for bacon. Farmers' representatives were nominated to these boards as it was felt at the time that there was no proper farmer representation. I will say in passing that it would be in the interests of everybody, including the Minister, that the boards should be properly elected—I am not suggesting for one moment that the Minister has any intention of trying to do otherwise—but I remember well the criticisms at that time and I said to myself that if the farmers felt justified in these criticisms, it would be well for them if they could change their representatives. Anyway, the present Bill will give representation to elected farmers and elected curers and the reasons for the case made in the past have gone. Also there will be one board taking full responsibility and that will be a great advantage, instead of having two boards with divided and maybe very often conflicting functions in the past.

I think it better not to refer at all to the state of the bacon industry during the emergency because it was an abnormal period. It would be of no advantage in trying to assess the merits and demerits of the legislation we are considering.

In the early fifties the British Government, who had an agency known as the Ministry of Food, were interested in purchasing Irish pork and large quantities were shipped to Britain. It was very well received and very properly marketed. Officers of the Minister's Department issued regulations, with the consent of the Minister, ensuring that that was so and a most enviable reputation was built up for Irish pork products. Let me say that when the new scheme was brought in last autumn to assist the export of pork, the same high standard of presentation, the same prices and demand were expected and received. Prices equal to the prices of best English pork were received at Smithfield, Liverpool and other markets where Irish pork was sent.

Then, in 1955, this bulk buying by the British Government ceased and, in 1956, the Minister's predecessor here introduced what was known as the Grade A scheme. That was a scheme to market the type of bacon which, according to the best advice of the time, was suitable to establish a reputation and create a demand for Irish products on the British market. Some rather startling success came from that development because, in 1956, the quantity of bacon exported to the British market represented only about I per cent.; in 1957 it represented 2.7 per cent. and in 1958, 5.6 per cent. Last year, it was 5.5 per cent. but I am firmly convinced that if we could make two or three steps forward for one step backward in any business we engage in or in any branch of the agricultural industry, we are doing well because we get up against the problem of a change in taste or whatever it is which involves looking at the whole field anew.

Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7.30 p.m.

Before business was suspended, I had been giving a résumé of the background to the bacon industry. I said it was true that for every one step backward the industry had been showing in recent years, it was capable of taking at least two or three steps forward. I think it is well that we should realise that in a factual way because in regard to many problems in this imperfect world, we will be up against difficulties. If we become disillusioned or cynical, it is the philosophical barrier to progress that we shall be up against.

Another point is that there is no easy solution to our problem. The problem of today is not often the problem of tomorrow. It must be met with today's requirements. I mentioned that the introduction of the Grade A scheme had brought us up from one per cent. of the export trade in bacon in 1956 to 5.6 per cent. in 1958 on the British market which was a rather spectacular increase.

At the moment we have 5.5 per cent. of the export trade, but the quantity of bacon being sold in Britain to-day is somewhat larger than it was two or three years ago. Be that as it may, I found it necessary towards the end of 1959, to inform the Government and the officials in the Department, that there was a public demand for a leaner type of bacon. The curers, to some extent, anticipated the administrative action taken by the Minister's Department in introducing the Grade A Special scheme, by paying a bonus for leaner bacon. The Minister's statement to-night has demonstrated the demand for that bacon in Britain in a practical way.

In our own business, I find there is a demand for all the Grade A Special bacon we have. Most of our customers want more Grade A Special than Is available. In our part of the country at the moment, over 80 per cent. of the bacon we get is between Grade A and Grade A Special. That shows the adaptability of the Irish farmer, and the success of his breeding policy to produce a pig that will be Grade A or Grade A Special.

In October, 1960, a pork subsidy scheme was brought in. We had been very successful in the early '50s in selling pork. Irish pork had been well received. It was an excellent product, properly presented and marketed and the regulations governing its sale were such that very high standards were achieved. Many people in the trade, and also on the official side, realised there should be a diversification of the methods of selling pigs and pig products. It was recommended that a subsidy should be paid for pork as well as bacon and that gave us, if you like, another string to our bow. Reasonable quantities of pork were exported in the fall of last year, but there was rather a slump in price early this year, and little pork was exported. Still, the machinery is there, and the experience has been gained and can be used when the opportunity offers. The Irish farmer and the processors of pig products will have the advantage that they will be able to go ahead any time the green light becomes apparent, and ship pork to Britain.

While I am on that point, I must say that the Department is very well aware of the necessity to diversify the outlets for the export of pork and pork products, whether in the form of bacon or pork, pre-packed or whatever modern way is required for modern marketing in the super-marts and other markets which are gaining favour in Britain. The official side, the curers and the farmers are aware of a necessity of co-operating as far as possible in these matters.

In the middle thirties, the Minister suggested to the bacon curers and also his officials that it would be desirable if the curers and the farmers met the officials of the Department at regular intervals and discussed their various interests. As a result, a quota was fixed each fortnight, regulating the amount of bacon to be shipped to Britain. It was purely on a voluntary basis and it worked very well indeed and in fact, the Board which the Minister now proposes to set up is a logical corollary of the voluntary meetings and the voluntary control which the industry had been prepared to accept. I believe it is necessary to have these powers, although they may not require to use them at all times.

In passing, I should mention that, in 1958, the first progeny testing station in this country was started in Cork. While the machinery for its operation was put in motion by Deputy Dillon, it was opened by the Minister. He has now made arrangements to have a second progeny testing station opened. The Bacon Curers Association contributed one-third of the cost of the first progeny testing station because they believed they should demonstrate to the producers and to the public the necessity of securing the strain of pig which would give the type of bacon required in the British market. They backed their belief in the progeny testing station by being prepared to put down the necessary cash.

At that time, all along the line, we received the fullest co-operation from the various Ministers for Agriculture through the introduction of the Scandinavian barley into the country, the fixed price for that barley, the introduction of the Grade A price for pigs and later the Grade A Special. The pork subsidy has, in my view, opened a new era and new prospects for the bacon industry.

Perhaps I may be permitted to speak for a few moments on some of the technical advances that have taken place. In the thirties, the Pig Industry Tribunal had been investigating the problem of the large supplies of bacon in the autumn and the scarcity of supply in the spring and early summer and the difficulty of marketing. One of their suggestions was that the bacon should be cold stored. The cold storage of bacon was found to be not quite a success because rancidity is inclined to develop in the fat of the bacon during storage. Technical experiments have been carried out and the cold storage of pork and legs of bacon to be afterwards cured into hams has been found so successful that the Pigs and Bacon Commission about to be set up will be able to regulate these matters in a much more effective way than the producers were able to do in the thirties.

With regard to research which has been mentioned in a number of reports, we have at the moment the advantage of a good deal of market and other research which has taken place in England by the Pig Industries Development Association which was set up about 1957. This body, which represents the bacon and pork industry in Britain, an industry with a production turnover of about £170,000,000 a year, has done a considerable amount of work that is invaluable to us. One of the things they did was to introduce a standard code of cure for Wiltshire bacon and generously circulated that to our association and it was distributed to our members. They are still doing market research on the widest possible scale in Britain and keeping us informed of what they are doing. The demands in Britain for the various pig products are so diverse that it is only a simpleton who would suggest an easy solution.

The canalisation of marketing alone is only part of the answer to our problem. In passing, I should mention that, in the year 1960, the British Food Manufacturers Research Association, which is a voluntary body composed of the whole food industry in Britain, admitted a group here composed of bacon curers, canners and meat exporters as a group member of that association, and our neighbours in Britain are prepared to give us all the benefit of their experience in the vast food industry in Britain, particularly meat processing of every sort, including canning and quick freezing, or any of the other techniques which they have developed.

The same thing is true with regard to their animal oil industry. Much of the benefits of the researches that have been done by firms like Unilever are directly or indirectly available as a result of that link which has been established with this Food Manufacturers Research Association by, in the first instance, the bacon curers, who then proceeded to form an association known as the Irish Meat Association comprising the three groups—the Irish meat exporters, the canners and the bacon curers. The reason I mention that is that I feel it is desirable that this House and all interested in this subject will know what has been done. They can then legislate better and take their decisions in a more mature and informed way than they otherwise could.

To return to what is the most important purpose in the Bill, that is, the marketing and canalisation of Irish bacon through a centralised body, anyone who looks at the figures which have been circulated from time to time will see the problem posed to anyone who wishes to sell Irish bacon or pig products on the English market. I happened to turn up this morning the statistics for the year 1958-59 and I noticed that in September, October and up to early November, we placed on the British market about 600 tons of bacon every week. In February and March, our shipments to Britain were about 360, and during May, June, July and August, our shipments were under 300 tons per week. In September, the market always tails off because it is the end of the tourist season and bacon is the sort of product that is eaten and in common demand by the tourists as a breakfast and a supper dish. We may not like to have bacon for breakfast or supper, but if we stay at a hotel or boarding house or anywhere else and are paying for it, we accept it when we get it. But we have been sending to Britain large quantities of baeon during the time of the year when they do not want it, and that has been a major factor in creating a bad reputation for Irish bacon.

Returning to very much later statistics, I found that, last year, our exports for the months of July and August were very low and during the month of September, we increased them by almost 70 per cent. over the July and August figures. July and August are the principal tourist months. We said to our contacts in England: "We want you to take 17 sides where you took ten before, although we know that you have fewer outlets for that bacon." The result was a slump in the price of Irish bacon in Britain, and then you had the uninformed criticism in much of the Irish press criticising the market arrangements, the curers and the trade outlets in Britain and saying they were falling down on the job, that they were not able to market and that they knew nothing about it. The reason they were not able to market it was that they had got the supply when it was not possible to sell it.

I said previously that I thought our technical advances with regard to the freezing of bacon, particularly quick-freezing, which is the better method, will allow us to store pork in the form of Wiltshire sides, gammons or otherwise and we can process that afterwards, and even if we do not wish to export that cured bacon, it can be used in the form of cooked hams or Wiltshire sides for the home trade.

I have a note here that the Board also could do much by facilitating the introduction of a system of pig contracts, and in reading briefly over the report of the Pig Industries Tribunal of 1933, I noticed that that tribunal had received much evidence with regard to the desirability of introducing contracts. As a person who has been managing a factory for most of my life, and I suppose it is no harm to say that I give the appearance of having managed it reasonably successfully, I believe that I could pay more for pigs, providing the people supplying me would say: "We will give you so many pigs each month, with a minimum up and down of 10 per cent." We would then be able to plan production and also to plan marketing, and that planned marketing, in my view, is even more important that the planning of production. In planning both of these, I see no reason why we might not be able to pay more money for pigs.

I suggest to the new Pigs and Bacon Commission that they might even fix a minimum price for contract pigs at something higher than the figure fixed for the present Grade A or A Special, which are fixed at 230/- and 245/-respectively. As a curer, I feel that if I could be sure of my supplies by producers who were prepared to enter on a contract basis, I could plan my production and even find some markets outside the traditional British market for bacon, if I were assured of continuity of supply. I think I have stressed that point sufficiently, but Industrial Development on Page 92, paragraph 2 has also stressed that point, of the necessity of continuing regular supply of suitable pigs.

Before I conclude, I must deal at some length with this question of marketing. It is necessary and desirable to have a body as envisaged in this Bill to control and organise marketing. I must strike a note of warning. This Board should go only as far as they consider necessary. Many curers have established in Britain a trader to trader contact that goes back well over 100 years. These particular contacts are invaluable not alone for the sale of bacon but for the sale of many by-products. It may be that they will become more invaluable still for the sale of processed, pre-packed products in the future.

We are getting nearer to Britain than we were some years ago. Fresh processed products could be flown to any part of Britain in a matter of a couple of hours. It is through these established contacts that the products can be sold.

I have found in our own business that many things like lard and other products of that nature that are apt to get in surplus can be sold to bacon customers. If that trader to trader link of a weekly order for bacon is being broken, the outlets for other products may be lost. Such outlets are innumerable but I do not propose to bore the House with the number of them now. They are capable almost of infinite development. It is very likely that such action will destroy a good deal of good will.

The function of the Board ought to be the regulation of exports in such a way that they will have a very definite and positive control over the price of Irish bacon. I think they will experience little difficulty in that function. The Minister knows many curers who have been marketing bacon very successfully in Britain, maybe more economically than a board can do it. They ought to be encouraged to continue with that as far as possible. Then the Board could devote their attention to helping people who have not been marketing bacon so efficiently and who maybe have been shipping bacon to Britain in an opportunist way. When they had a surplus at home and felt the home market was not giving adequate returns or when a large supply of pigs happened to arrive they would say: "We will export this lot and be rid of it."

There is nothing like stating what people know. We have been selling much of our bacon in Britain by using our own travellers. They have cost us less than if we used commissioned agents. They brought us into more intimate contact with the customer. If the customer is not getting exactly what he wants either he gets into direct contact with us or into direct contact with the traveller. We have also tried to sell bacon in parts of Britain where the burden of freight is not so high as to put us at a disadvantage. I know that quite near the Minister there are curers who he knows are doing the same thing. If the new commission tries to take over from these people and to do that service for them they will give themselves a great deal of responsibility while they could do much better for everybody by looking after the weaker links in the selling organisation.

The price-fixing function is very important. Most people who buy bacon in Britain buy it at the price fixed in the London Provision Exchange every Thursday. If we ensure that surpluses and scarcities are not created and that an orderly marketing of Irish bacon takes place I believe this new Pigs and Bacon Commission will live up to the fond hopes all of us have with regard to this development.

Britain, with a pigs and bacon industry many times larger than our own, is having quite a problem about coming to a decision on marketing. The British Government promised the National Farmers' Union in Britain they would advance them £1½ million per year to assist in marketing research and organisation. The British National Farmers' Union have ducked that offer up to the moment. An article written by the Farming Correspondent of the Financial Times of 5th instant is well worth reading. I propose to read only the last paragraph:

Members and non-members alike appear to understand that, when it comes to selling, initiative and flexibility count. It is a relief to be free to do the commercial thing without referring to a committee in London and without getting involved in the questions of either prestige or politics. It is business sense too, and marketing is, after all, either that or it is nothing.

I have met a number of farmers who are very likely to be members of this board. No doubt I know all the curers and those who will be members of the Board. The Minister will nominate an official. I am sure the person nominated will be very conversant with these matters. Anyone I have spoken to gave me the impression that the virtues we possess in our present marketing organisation and in our trader to trader contacts ought to be preserved at all costs because they are invaluable.

We are nearer to Britain than Denmark or Poland: we have a more intimate association in trading. I think the officials of the Minister's Department would say we are always on a more favoured nation approach with Britain than other countries. It has recently been said by the Taoiseach that we shall probably go into the Common Market if Britain goes in. Therefore, I want again to stress that any advantages we have by our near association with Britain and our experience in that market should be preserved by this new Pigs and Bacon Commission. I have no doubt that the members of that board will be wise enough to preserve these contacts for the benefit of the industry. If certain curers, even by the establishment of another company or organisation in Britain, can demonstrate to the Commission that by their initiative, imagination and commercial approach, they are able to do better than the general body, it will be a spur or a goad to initiative and that business sense which it should be the desire of the Government to create and stimulate.

The Minister, in his speeches in the other House, and in his statement here to-day, covered that point, that he was interested in preserving, as far as he could, freedom of action. He says it will be for the Commission itself to decide what is best to arrange these marketing matters. I have taken that seriously because he has said, if you like, that he would like the Commission to consider his feelings in that, and that he is not completely convinced. Deputy Dillon who spoke at length on this matter in the other House stressed, and I think that in a general sense the Minister agreed with him, that any invaluable trade contacts that had been made should as far as possible be preserved and that it was the weak links in the selling organisation that should be broken. That should be brought home to the Commission because none goes as far as he who does not know where he is going. I should hate to think, and I believe the Minister and his officials would hate to think, that a board would be set up with the doctrinaire idea that if we canalise marketing organisation, it will be a panacea for our ills and we will achieve success as a result of it. It is too easy a way of finding a solution to our problems.

I do not propose to delay the House but perhaps it might be as well if I briefly summarised some of the points I have made. When this Board is set up, they should investigate the selling methods of the various group factories and individual factories. They should look at them factually before they decide on a major policy decision in that respect, always bearing in mind the necessity of controlling supplies in such a way that they will be able to regulate prices. I issue this invitation to the Minister's officials, to inspect the books of our firm and see the methods which we have been using in the sale and marketing of bacon and decide how far it is efficient and how far they should interfere, if it is efficient. The same applies to many factories all over the country which have been doing that job and doing it successfully.

I think it is probable that in a year or two we may require another Pigs and Bacon Bill because this deals principally, as I said, with one function. The world is changing quickly, the systems of selling and purchasing food, the methods by which food is prepared and sold, consumer methods of buying cooked foods rather than raw foods, are all changing and therefore the Minister may have to come and ask us for legislative power to deal with these matters in a wider way. However, that is not in this Bill and it would be out of order for me to proceed any further on those lines. Our opposite numbers in England, the Pig Industry Development Association, have been making great inroads into research along these lines and we shall have to follow them. We shall have to consider such matters as the development of the supermarket which in Britain has taken over a large slice of the retail trade.

I wish this Board every success and I hope the members will be worthy of the great responsibility which will be placed on them because it is no easy business responsibility they will have. I am glad that not alone will curers be elected but also farmers, and the goodwill which will be generated by having these two groups sit down together, with a responsible official from the Department—with all of them informed of the situation in a factual way—should benefit this great industry. It is one of the few industries based on agriculture, the output of which we can increase many times without increasing the amount of land available in the State. I shall raise any precise points I wish to raise on the various sections in Committee.

Since this Bill was published, there has been considerable controversy regarding the composition of the Pigs and Bacon Commission. some have argued that the curers have too many representatives, while others have argued that the producers have too few. Apparently it did not seem unusual to anybody that one very important section of the bacon industry, namely, the retailers, the distributors, have been granted no representation whatever. Surely when it is a question of marketing bacon, it should be realised that the side of the trade to which I refer, who have direct contact with the consumers, would be in a position to give invaluable information and advice to this new Commission. It is regrettable that the Minister did not provide for one or two representatives of the retail trade on the Commission.

We all appreciate the importance of the export trade in the bacon industry but I think the expansion of the trade on the home market is of equal importance. The association I represent in this House, namely, the Retail Grocery, Dairy and Allied Trades Association, believe that the present consumption of bacon in this country could be doubled and possibly trebled, if only we were supplied with first choice quality bacon. Unfortunately, that is not the position. Too often the trade are supplied with sides of bacon that contain excessive fat and often, too—perhaps not so often—they are supplied with sides of bacon which are both soft and wet. It is understandable that excessive fat is probably due to the quality of the feeding but the soft and wet sides are due to the fact that the curers do not drain the sides adequately before releasing them to the trade. I know that Senator Burke will not like my saying that.

I do not mind.

The long-term policy of the Minister and his Department to improve the quality of bacon is to be commended but I think the Minister should take steps to bring about an immediate improvement in quality. I think it was last year the Minister made an order that pigs were to be rested for at least four hours before being slaughtered. I wonder if that order has been enforced and if so, whether the Minister is in a position to tell us if there has been any noted improvement in quality since its implementation.

The first word I want to say is that this Bill is an amending Bill and it should not be an amending Bill. It is not so important on this stage but we members of the Dáil and Seanad who were not here when this started in 1935 have to wade through six Pigs and Bacon Acts in order to find out exactly what we are legislating about. I want to give a brickbat to the civil servants and the draftsmen. This is not a Bill like the Dairy Produce Marketing Bill where it is quite obvious that all you had to do was to go through that one Bill carefully, without going to any other legislation to understand what it meant. I am quite certain that the act of the Parliamentary draftsmen in making this an amending Bill instead of a Bill in itself was for their convenience and I would like to remind them that the people to be convenienced are the legislators—not Ministers who have all the people in the world to remind them, tell them and advise them what they mean, but the people who have no secretary, no one to remind or advise them and who must themselves delve through six pieces of legislation to find out what this eventual legislation means. The House could well have been given a Bill to repeal all the Pigs and Bacon Acts which would be quite simple to understand.

Just like the Dairy Produce Marketing Bill, the Agricultural Credit Bill and other pieces of legislation which came here over the past six months, this Bill is a product of the two fashionable things on which the Government largely attained power. One was agricultural credit and the other, agricultural marketing. As the shades of night are falling fast with the approach of the next general election, we now have a Pigs and Bacon Marketing Bill. Before that, we had advisory committees and quite frankly, I have the greatest regard for the gentlemen who sat on these committees, but I also have a great conviction that any man, such as the Minister or the Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Dillon, any man of that experience and calibre, knows quite well what to do. The difficulty is to get it through the Cabinet. Advisory committees, if you like were helpful, good things to have, but they were delaying bodies, and, I fear, a conveniently delaying procedure. After four years, we have before us a Bill that should have been an Act certainly three years ago.

If we are to take the advisory committee's recommendations as correct— and I think it proper that we should, as they are obviously correct—the two things that matter are control of quality and exports. In other words, no curer should have the right to put bad bacon on the export market and we should, by some means, have continuity of export. Senator Burke, who spoke from the curers' viewpoint, pointed out that this question of continuity was all-important. It is true that if you make a trade friend, a customer, you must supply him continuously with the right thing or he will leave you and go to somebody else who will do so.

The first need is a supply of suitable pigs here at home and to-day we have the numbers, but there is an old adage which anybody will give you that 18 months after you have a glut of potatoes in this country, you will have a good supply of bacon. If you have a good supply of potatoes, naturally the farmer will keep the young gilt. She will become a sow and in her own good time she will produce pigs. In 1959, we had the first harvest when the farmer, whether he harvested by combine harvester or by conventional methods, could keep what quantity he wanted of his own barley for pig-feeding, together with a glut of potatoes. All the circumstances were right for an increase in the number of pigs and we have them to-day, but what we want is a continuous supply of pigs and I do not accept at all—let the Minister please not take this as a criticism, because it is not—that we are going to have that continuity. I think that the supply of potatoes in the glut year of 1959 and the fact that there was a dry harvest in that year meant an extraordinarily large number of sows which to-day are all breeding pigs. Because of that, you have a sufficient supply to create a continuous export market in Britain or in any other country— though I think we have none at the moment but the British market.

What should be done to give us this continuity of supply? The first thing I feel that has not been covered in the Bill and which must be recalled and emphasised is that the day of the pig in the parlour has gone—and after that, somebody will say: "Thanks be to God." The day of the two or three, the four or five, or nine or ten pigs has gone. Throughout the whole meat industry, from the broiler industry to the pig, you must get a relatively large unit of production. Even on a small farm, you must have 50 or 100 pigs and you must work on a very low percentage profit. If you have an old sty, if you have to drag up the bed and cart it out of the way, if you have to boil food for the pigs and cart down the feed, then the labour content of ten pigs is very high, but if you have a modern house where it is possible for one man to go in with a bag of meal on his back to feed the pigs, if the pigs go out in a dunging passage so that they will not dirty their bed and so on, it is simple for a small farmer who cannot live on the land he owns to keep 50 or 100 pigs and to gain—I quote present cash figures in relation to prices of two or three years ago—not perhaps £4 or £5 per pig profit but £1 profit. He will have as little labour content with that number of pigs as in the old days of the sty with three or four or ten pigs he would have had in rearing perhaps one-fifth of the number.

This Bill should have included provision for individual, particular and specialist instruction for farmers on the rearing of large numbers of pigs in modern houses. It should also have included provision in regard to these types of modern houses for those farmers who are interested. I know that the Government have increased the grants for pig houses, but it is no good doing that when the instruction is such that you do not get it across. You cannot go round your own parish or county and pick out seven or ten men who built a pig house on a small farm to accommodate 50 to 100 pigs making a profit of £1 or 30/- on each pig.

We are legislating for the continuance, with a certain streamlining, of the Pigs and Bacon Board. I really believe that this legislation is too little and too late. Mention was made of the price of Grade A pigs. There are two prices which come into the question of pig production. One price is that which you get for a pig and the other price is the price you pay for the feed. If the pig producer does not believe that he is going to get his feed at a price that will allow him a profit, he will not continue to produce pigs. If he feels that the price for feed is going to be regulated by the urgency of a bad harvest in the grain-growing areas or by some sort of bargain the Minister may make with the importer distributors to take up the barley crop, if he believes that all these things can vary his feed prices, the 30/- per pig profit will disappear and there will be a loss of 10/-. He will then go back to the grasshopper policy which has completely neutralised our efforts to produce pigs. The trouble was that when people got a few pounds, everybody went into the production of pigs. When there was, on the other hand, a loss the throat of every sow was cut. That was the pattern over the past 20 years.

I should have liked to see in this legislation provision for the price of feeding. In the old days, the percentage profit could be large. You could gamble because the overhead costs were low. At the present time, the percentage profit is so low and the overhead costs so high that somebody has to underwrite the agricultural industry. This legislation makes no attempt to do that. Last harvest, the Minister made a deal with the importer distributors that if they took up the barley crop, he would allow them to import offals. That is what governs the price of pigmeal to-day—that bargain. In this instance, I do not say that it had a very bad effect, but I think that sort of bargain is the kind of bargain that will put people out of pigs. In fact, any statement by the Minister that he is prepared to open the ports, as his predecessor did, and give the pig feeder his grain and his pigmeal at the world price would have a wonderful effect. There is no reason at all why that should have any effect on the grain producer. It could be done with a small subvention so that the pig producer may know that if he goes on, he will not face any increase in his costs because of Government action during a bad harvest or for his friend, the grain grower.

I have kept off the curing end, because it has been dealt with very fully by my colleague, Senator Burke, on this side of the House. Senator O'Keeffe mentioned the difficulties in the retail trade. The Senator has some cause for complaint. I am in the retail trade myself in a small way. You have to keep battling constantly to make sure that you will get a decent side of bacon. Unfortunately, it is true that the curers are not everything they are cracked up to be.

I believe that this question the Senator mentioned of wet bacon and soft bacon is one that should be looked into. I believe there is plenty of room for improvement. Every time I ever had my breakfast in London— and this is against us; this may not be the right place to say it—I felt that the bacon I got was better than the bacon I got at home. If we take the figure of 5.6 per cent. of the British market as the Irish contribution, then it was 20 to I that I was not eating Irish bacon. I admit that is so. I do not admit that all the fault lies with the producer.

The value of having, if possible, the man with the 100 or 50 pigs on the small farm is this. When there is a glut of potatoes, he will not have a vast quantity of potatoes in relation to the number of his pigs. If he has 10 tons which he is tempted to feed to his pigs over the period, this would not mean that the quality of his pig meat would deteriorate too badly. When a man has five or six pigs and 10 ton of potatoes, we know what sort of bacon we get as a result. I believe the answer to that is an expansion in the number of pigs and the size of the unit of pig production.

The question of the representation of curers, farmers and retailers on the Board has already been mentioned. I do not know whether you could substantiate a case for a retailer on the Board. It is true to say that if it were for nothing else but the spirit of the thing, it is quite wrong that you should have one more curer than farmer representation on the Board. After all, the farmer is the first man. If he is not to get a majority representation, one more than the representation of the curers and the other interests, then he should certainly get equal representation.

I know the Minister's difficulties in that. They are not easy. It is quite obvious that there are many pressures and many good reasons, but at the same time, I feel that, as a matter of principle, the farmers should have at least as much representation on the Board as any other group, but they have not. Therefore, I feel that, again, is a mistake. The curers probably made a case. There are three groups. Indeed, when you study the previous legislation, you find there were three groups right through which were recognised. There were the minor curers, the medium-sized curers and the large curers and, as I say, they were recognised in all legislation as individual groups. If they were, I think the time has come when we must move up the farmers' representation, or decrease the curers' representation. In spirit and in principle, it is a great mistake not to have included a number of farmers equal to the number of curers.

I believe in the bacon industry and the pig industry. I suppose a salient feature of Irish rural life in almost every county has been land hunger. If I may again throw a brickbat, it would be at the group opposite who have contributed towards increasing the land hunger over the years, with a policy which reduces the amount of work in the farmyard. By that, I mean profitable work and not slavery; the feeding of cattle, pigs and poultry. If we are not to go back to the stage where the sons and daughters of our small farmers have to take the emigrant ship, or the train to Dublin, we will have to go forward to the stage where there is some profit for them in the farmyard. I can see no profit of any kind in the pig house if there are less than 50 pigs in it.

When I speak of the expansion of the pig producing industry and the expansion of the bacon curing industry, I maintain that a general expansion of pork and bacon as a whole is one facet of our economy in which we have every opportunity. For instance, let us take our production of grain. In relation to the consumption of grain by pigs, we are embarrassed by a surplus of wheat and at the same time, we are always importing some quantity of barley. If the mere use of public finance could make it possible, why should we not grow more barley for pigs if we had more pigs and less wheat?

Nevertheless, this legislation is welcome because it is some move forward. My criticism of it is, first, that most members of the Dáil and Seanad who had not several nights at least to devote to a study of the Bill, in the maze of other legislation they must study, do not understand it fully even at this late stage in its passage through the Houses. Secondly, it does not take into account the feeding or the housing of pigs. Thirdly, the representation on the Board should be equal for farmers and curers. Fourthly, a decision with regard to the bacon industry has been left too late in the Government's period of office. It is one of the many things that, as usual, Fianna Fáil have around the corner, and the corner always happens to be reached at the time of an impending election. They were going to do something about agricultural marketing for the past six months, and now they have produced an amending Bill. When do they think whatever fruits will come from the Bill will be enjoyed by the Irish farmer?

Therefore, I say this legislation, while welcome, is, if you like, welcome in a back-handed way. It does not show any enterprise or any imagination. It will never light a fire because I do not think it has a matchstick in its entire framework. I hope, although this little move forward is far too late, that it will be followed by more legislation by a more progressive Government which will see to it that the pig industry will expand and prosper.

I intend to be very brief because I think this measure is very simple and very easily understood, contrary to what Senator Donegan has said. Quite simply and briefly, it incorporates the important recommendations made by the Advisory Committee on the Marketing of pig products in their report. That committee was set up by the Government, among many other committees, to investigate marketing methods in relation to our agricultural exports. We have already dealt with legislation in regard to the setting up of the Milk Board, following on a report of a similar nature to the report on which the present Bill is based.

One can reduce, I suppose, the views of the committee to two principal propositions in regard to our bacon and pig meat exports. The first is that there was very strong criticism of the lack of continuity of supply to the British market in regard to our bacon and pig meat, but particularly in regard to our bacon exports. That was the major point of criticism on which the committee expressed a view.

The second major point of criticism was that the committee criticised the efficiency of our marketing methods on the British market, with particular reference to the number of agents operating on behalf of individual curers on that market, some of whom had Irish bacon almost as a sideline. Those two criticisms are the principal criticisms running through the committee's report: (a) lack of continuity of supplies; and (b) marketing arrangements by which a large number of agents acting on behalf of individual curers in various places and at various stages selling Irish bacon without any co-ordinated marketing plan, and doing it in most cases almost as a sideline to other bacon lines they carried.

How does this Bill seek to deal with these problems? It tackles those two criticisms very well. I believe the core of the Bill with regard to continuity of supply is in Sections 23, 24, 25 and 26. In those four sections are embodied the principal recommendations of the committee. They recommended that a centralised marketing agency be set up by way of an enlargement of the existing commission and that the agency be empowered to engage in the export of Wiltshire sides which are our principal bacon export to the British market.

Sub-section (1) of Section 23 provides:

The Commission may export bacon of such grades as may be specified by the Minister with the consent of the Minister for Finance from time to time in the form of Wiltshire sides or major cuts thereof which include the back.

That is the provision which will ensure continuity of supply. In other words, I take it that it means that in future if individual curers are not keeping up the level of supply required on the British market, the Board will step in and supplement the exports from this country to maintain the level of supply. That is the purpose of the section. It embodies directly the recommendations of the committee's report. In addition, by exercising that power, the commission can have a direct effect on the price obtaining for Irish bacon on the British market. Maintaining the price will have the throw-back effect of encouraging a more level supply and a more continuous supply from the producer at home. Therefore, the board that is to be set up will, by exercising this power, maintain the supply, maintain a regular price and ensure a continuous supply from the producer to the market for eventual consumption.

Section 23, and the consequential Sections 24, 25 and 26 embody and implement the main recommendation of the Advisory Committee, which was that in order to remove this weakness in our bacon marketing business, the lack of continuity of supply, a central agency should be set up to supplement the efforts of individual curers, to maintain standard prices and ensure a constant supply. I do not see that anything simpler and more in accordance with the views of that committee could have been devised than those sections I have mentioned which implement their views in that respect.

The other important section is Section 27, which deals with the powers of the commission in regard to development, promotion and advertising, etc.; in other words, the whole promotional aspect of the marketing of our bacon and pig exports abroad. I take it that under that section the commission will have power to deal with the vexatious problem of the agents in Britain and will ensure that we will have agents more concerned with selling Irish bacon and pig meat on a whole time and better paid basis than agents participating in a small way in the Irish business while dealing with other lines. Within the framework of Section 27, there are many subsections dealing with various activities that will enable the commission to deal with that problem, the second major point of criticism in the report, this problem of marketing arrangements which are not too satisfactory on the British market.

For that reason, I fail to see why there should be any great contention about this measure or any great opposition to it. Above all, I cannot see for the life of me how Senator Donegan can say that it is a measure hard to understand. It is a measure which is very clear and simple, and embodies the excellent recommendations in the Advisory Committee's report, the recommendations which needed to be studied and would not be studied, were it not for the fact that on assuming office in 1957, the present administration made it its first duty to ensure that detailed study was made for the purpose of establishing in a thorough and scientific way the faults and weaknesses in the marketing arrangements for our agricultural products in Britain. The fruits of the committee's work has now resulted in the second legislative measure before this House. It is a practical work well done and there should be little criticism of the Bill.

I welcome this Bill as I would welcome any Bill to improve the marketing of Irish bacon. Coming from one of the intensive pig breeding and producing areas in this country, naturally my sympathies are with the producers, many of whom live probably 60 or 70 miles from the bacon factory, and the majority of whom have never seen a bacon factory, not to mind a bacon curer. I am very sorry that the Minister and the Government could not see their way to give at least equal representation on this board to the producers and the curers. This is surely something that should be considered, when we realise that only for the producers, we would have no curers. We must start at the right end.

The curers are a very highly organised body, as can be seen from all the data my friend here has been provided with and the immense number of documents he quoted from, while the producer is the man who is handling the raw material end of the bacon industry. I am sure that the curers and the millers are getting the greatest profit out of it. If it is the Government's intention to see that these people are to be spoonfed, I certainly will raise my voice against it, for I can see through various channels that the millers are a fairly strong body and you do not see many bacon curers falling by the wayside. No matter what the price of the pig the profit made by the bacon curer and the miller is still 15 per cent. or 25 per cent. or as much as he can get and as much as he can take off the man producing it.

I am glad now that some start has been made and I hope the Minister and the Government will remember what I have said here and even at this late hour give fair representation to the people producing the pigs, for they are the people who are keeping the bacon factories going.

As Senator Burke has said, when the tourist season is approaching, you can see the bacon factories filling up their stores with bacon sometimes bought up at very reasonable prices, and when it comes on the market, the tourist or whatever members of the community eat it pay through the nose for it. With that arising, when you see the difference in the price of pigs between Grade A and A Special, the producers are right in objecting. It is at least 15/- per cwt, and if the ordinary producer gets a profit of 15/- per cwt on pigs, he will be making a fair profit at the present time. I consider that the price is a matter the board should look into, but from the way it is constituted, I can see the result, with the bacon curers in the majority and with the biggest say on this board.

There is one other point I should like to make with regard to the connections that have been built up by bacon curers. Much of it is of recent. development. They rested on their oars for a long time and just sent the bacon across and got the best price they could for it. Whatever connections they have made, the board should not interfere with them. There is certainly a big effort being made at the moment to make good contacts abroad, and those contacts are fortified with the better sample of bacon that has been going across, since it must be accepted by everybody in the pig and bacon trade today that the carcase produced by the farmer is a better quality animal than we had a few years ago.

While Senator Donegan spoke about the use of potatoes for pig feeding, the day of the potato for pig feeding is gone. In the old days when we had plenty of labour, waste potatoes were cooked for pig feeding, but that day is gone completely. The pigs today are fed on a ration, and the quality of our bacon has improved since this scientific feeding has taken place. As well as that, the people are interested in breeding a good type of pig.

Speaking for the small producer, I say that if we are to have piggeries to house thousands of pigs, it will wipe the small man out of business. While I agree with monopolies in some ways, I certainly cannot agree with a monopoly that will cut out the small man completely. The breeding of pigs is a "must" with the small farmers of West Cork. It is a traditional source of income for them. They are capable of expanding that industry. I do not think they can ever compete with groups of creameries because they can buy their ration at a small price and have the by-products of the creameries to help to supply protein to the ration, the dearest material in it. Probably when they join together, they will wipe out the small producers completely.

If we had a market with continuity of supply, it would help us in our export drive. I would ask the Minister and the Government to reconsider the constitution of this Board. It is of vital importance to the pig and bacon industry that producers get at least the same representation on the board as the curers. It is a vital matter and the Government and the Minister must look into it. The producers will not be satisfied with anything less than the same representation as the curers. If that is given, I think they will give whatever co-operation and help they possibly can. They have improved the breed and quality of the pig. I am sure they will increase the numbers, if they get the help and assistance they deserve.

So far, in this debate, we have had contributions from the representative of the curers, the representative of the producers and the representative of the retailers. I suppose you wonder how I venture to speak on this Bill. I represent the consumers. I eat bacon. The few comments I have to make might be apposite on this Bill.

My first comment is something similar to that of Senator Donegan. I do not think this is a Bill to reorganise the pig and the bacon industry in this country: we ought to get that clear.

It is not claimed as such.

One would think that after five years in office this Government would have reorganised the industry in such a way that there would be no doubt as to its prosperity to the people engaged in it and as part of our economy. Here we have a makeshift of a commission which is being rehashed in a way that is expected to produce great results.

The first note of unreality about this Bill is the fact that, engaging in the export industry, we will have a body entitled "The Pigs and Bacon Commission." I do not know anything about the British people. If you look at some of the publications issued by Her Majesty's Stationery Office from time to time, you will see that commissions are set up there every day on every class of problem. What an ordinary man would understand by a commission is a grave body of gentlemen and women, Dames of the Order of Merit, and such like, sitting down to work out solutions to problems such as juvenile delinquency. You do not find such things as a Pigs and Bacon Commission engaged on exports to Germany, France, the United States, and so on, in operation in Great Britain.

I appeal to the Minister to address his mind to the title of this body. There is a certain incongruity in the group of words "Pigs and Bacon" and "Commission." The Minister should consider whether that is the most appropriate title to give to the body which will arrange with British importers, as I envisage it, what is to be done in relation to the continuous supply of bacon from this country to the British market.

The second point has been made, and might be made, that inadequate representation is being given to the producer. I can see the Minister's view on this, that if he is to give more representation to the producers, he will have pressure to give representation to consumers and then to pig buyers, and where would he stop? I think that, in a body of this kind, which is to be an executive body, you ought to have a fairly small compact body that can meet frequently, deliberate fairly rapidly and make decisions.

If the Minister were organising or reorganising the pig and bacon industry in this country, I suggest that while having an executive board to regulate the supply of bacon to the export market, at the same time, in conjunction with it and working in harmony with it, he should establish an advisory council or committee to advise and be available to the board and to represent all the interests that clamour for representation on these State bodies that are established from time to time. In that way, you would get a volume of experience channelled in an orderly fashion and made available to the central body dealing with the pig and bacon industry.

Looking through this Bill, we find that Sections 3 to 22 comprise nothing but amendments to the Pigs and Bacon Acts of 1937, 1939, 1956, and so on. They are all consequential amendments, with the exception of Sections 4 and 5. As Senator Lenihan rightly remarks, the meat of this Bill—if I may use the expression—is to be found in Sections 23 onwards to Section 30. For all its impressive length, this Bill does not touch on the problem of producing high quality bacon for the export market and for consumption at home.

Senator Donegan's criticism of the lack of any provision to ensure the dissemination of more knowledge, to ensure a general improvement in the quality of houses in which pigs are reared and fed, and so on, is well-founded and valid. Let there be no mistake about it: in so far as these things are concerned, this Bill will have no effect whatever.

Section 27.

He did not even read it.

There is no Bill that goes through this House that I do not read meticulously—not alone the Bill but all the Acts it amends.

And that was some job—an inch thick. He had to read it and so had I. It is a disgrace.

The members on the other side of the House have had ample opportunity to speak on this Bill, but we have not heard a word from them. From time to time, I see British journals. They always contain advertisements for Danish bacon. You will see advertisements, presented in a most attractive fashion, for Danish bacon, back rashers, and so on. The same is true of housewives' magazines. They carry advertisements saying that Danish bacon is the thing to buy. I have never seen any advertisement by the Irish curers or the Irish exporters of bacon of Irish bacon. It may well be that the Minister's reply will be that of course, there is no use advertising Irish bacon when we have not sufficient bacon to export to Britain to meet the demand there. If that is the situation, it is deplorable to say there are small farmers who have an inadequate standard of living and, at the same time, there is available a market in Britain of which we cannot avail ourselves simply because those charged with the management of the bacon industry, whether the curers, the Minister and his Department or somebody else, do not organise the business in such a way, or have it organised in such a way, that there will be a continuous flow of bacon of high quality to the British market, in the way adumbrated in this Bill. I hope it will be gone into in a very thorough fashion and that there will be a concerted effort by those concerned to advertise Irish bacon in British journals in the same way as I understand that has been done by the distillers of Irish whiskey for the American market.

As I say, I do not think there is a great deal in this Bill but I want to make one comment on behalf of the Irish consumer who must absorb quite a considerable amount of the bacon produced by Irish farmers and cured by Irish curers. There is no doubt that when it comes to certain things in this country, we do them better than anybody in the world. Recent statistics show that we are better fed than anybody in the world, better housed than the people of any country in the world. We have more hospital beds per thousand of the population than any other country and I believe we are better educated than the people of any other country. I also believe we can produce better bacon than anybody else, but in recent years it is a remarkable fact that bacon bought on Saturday has gone "high" or gone off by Monday morning.

I do not know who is responsible for that deficiency, but unless the housewife in modern times has a refrigerator, she has no business buying bacon in weather like this and expecting it to last and to be in good condition on Tuesday or Wednesday morning. Something has gone wrong with the curing of bacon and it is time the Minister or some body investigated the matter. I have known housewives to bring bacon home on Saturday morning and put it into the dustbin on Sunday morning. There is something wrong when that happens and it is not due to the particular housewife because it is a common complaint and also even where bacon is not in the condition in which it must be thrown into the dustbin, it certainly does not taste properly. I hope that the re-organisation of this grandiose body called the Pigs and Bacon Commission will have some effect in that respect in relation to the Irish housewife who should not be ignored.

Another complaint which is frequently aired by the consumer is in regard to the varying quality of other products from bacon factories, such as sausages. I do not know whether the Minister has any power to regulate the meat content or quality of sausages, but it is notorious that some sausages are such that to eat them on a Friday would not break your fast, there is so much bread in them and so little meat. That is well known and accepted. Senator Burke may laugh because the cap does not fit his firm. The Minister for Agriculture or the Commission or somebody should intervene on behalf of the consumer and see that sausages —at 3/6d. a lb. or whatever the price— contain value in terms of meat content.

There is nothing further that can be said about this Bill. It is welcome in so far as it manifests some interest on the part of the Minister for Agriculture in the pigs and bacon industry. I hope the newly established Board will do more for the industry than its predecessors and will enable us all to buy and eat, with more satisfaction than heretofore, the products of Irish bacon curers.

Senator Donegan and Senator O'Quigley spoke of a lack in this Bill in regard to housing and so on and condemned it on the ground that it was not a complete re-organisation of the pig marketing system as we know it. It does not set out to be a complete re-organisation of the present marketing system. The Bill is primarily directed towards exports and if it can achieve that end, it will be doing a good deal. If it can provide for our making better progress in the British market or any other market, it will have been worthwhile. Not very long ago, a substantial scheme of grants was announced by the Minister for Agriculture and every farmer is aware that he can obtain a grant from the Department for whatever house he proposes to build. Therefore, there is no necessity to mention housing grants in this Bill at all. I do not know what the Senator is sniggering at——

Sorry; it was the definition of a sausage. It is my fault. I made the Senators laugh because I said a Minister of Agriculture in Britain was asked during the War to define what a sausage was and he said it was sawdust in battledress.

That is what I was laughing at.

Whatever about the composition of the sausage, some prefer pork sausages and others prefer sausages with a smaller pork content. There are many tastes to be catered for——

But none for sawdust.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Not being woodpeckers, I suppose.

At one stage in Britain, you could sell any sort of fat, from cartgrease upwards, but now that is all changed and that is why we are discussing this Bill today.

The Bill is based mainly on the report of the commission which was set up to go into our pig industry in general. I read that report and I think it is a fair summary of the position as it is. We can be deemed, if you like, to be very badly placed regarding the export of bacon and for that reason the Minister for Agriculture was very well advised to take time by the forelock to seek to rectify the position and to see to it at any rate that if the type of bacon known as Grade A or Special Grade A is produced, then so far as it is humanly possible an outlet will be found at reasonably economic prices.

We have a large number of small producers of pigs as well as roughly 30 factories engaged in the industry and that represents a big investment. I do not believe that there is any use in raising a controversy about representation on the commission. The pig factories indeed are, in fairness, more entitled to the balance of representation on the commission for, after all, this is a marketing body and it can be said that in processing pigs for home consumption and for export, they have a very big investment at stake.

I do not think we should quibble about this alleged misuse of ministerial power. The Minister was well advised to consider the position and take the action he did take eventually. After all, producers are guaranteed to the extent that we are paying a subsidy in respect of certain grades of bacon. They have other inducements by way of subsidies towards housing. They have as well the guarantee of feed at reasonable prices. Barley is guaranteed at roughly 38/- and to that extent they know that they cannot suffer a very big loss, if they engage in producing pigs.

Naturally, we have to take our chance on the British market in the same way as the Danes. Only last night, I was looking up the position regarding the Danish export of bacon. The Danes may be deemed to be the paragons of bacon producers in Northern European countries, but they are finding the position at the present time difficult enough regarding the export of primary produce in general and not merely bacon, so much so that the Danish economy is held up by the reluctance of their farmers to give of their best. They are finding it difficult to put their pig meat across tariff walls. We have no tariff walls to contend with in Britain.

Neither have they.

Oh, yes, they have at the present time.

The tariff has gone.

Not yet; it will go in July. Assuming it does go in July that should not shake us too much. Their costs have gone up considerably, much more in proportion than ours, and we should not stand too much in fear. Of course the sad feature of it is that from the beginning of this century, we let our pig production in general go by default. I make that statement in general. As producers of bacon, as traditional suppliers of the British market, we did not make the necessary effort to keep our exports on the same scale as our competitors. There is no use in indulging in heart-burning over that at the present time. This is 1961.

Neither is there, in my opinion, any use in this sentimental talk about small producers. The domestic pig has gone into history. That was admitted here to-day and yet various speakers have said that they would not like to see the small producer passing away. Neither would I, but he has his remedy. The small producer is in a stronger position than the greatest co-op. If he only knew it he is the Government. When I say "the Government," that is only an appellation which I am applying regarding the production of pigs. But he can form his own producer co-op in the morning and that is the way to keep him in production ultimately.

By virtue of the scale of grants announced by the Minister, small producers can come together, build community rearing houses, community finishing houses and well they can do it. I have heard it said that despite the efforts of the I.A.O.S., small farmers never co-operated because they never had need of it and there is something in that. There is no one in the House, I think, who would be more concerned than I to see the small producer passing out, but he will pass out and there is nothing to stop him passing out, unless he changes his methods. The methods of 1961 are not the methods of 1900. We may as well face up to facts and view them factually, not in sentimental manner.

I read the report of the commission on this matter as well as the debates elsewhere and I was surprised at the variety of views, but I think we should be all of one mind. We cannot make any impact on the British market with the domestic pig. I am referring to the man who keeps three, four or five pigs. It would be desirable, if you could do it, but the law of diminishing returns must catch up on the small producer. He cannot make sufficient profit, year in, year out, to keep him in pig production, to keep a consistent, even supply to the home market, never mind the export market.

I want to pose a question to the House. I am not a great expert on this matter, but nevertheless I try to study it as best I can. There is a feeling in certain circles that it would be easier to tailor the pig in the factory than in the sty. When I say that, I refer to grading versus the fat pig. Some circles believe that we could work up a trade in tailored bacon, that is, to feed the pig as we knew him in the old days, the farmer's pig, up to the fairly fat and weighty stage and have the bacon tailored into rashers in the factory. A scheme was advanced in England by a well-known personality not long ago. That could be achieved with the coming of modern means of transport and the ferry service which must be tied in—it is a "must" in our case—with any proposed marketing system—perhaps the hovercraft, when rashers could be sent over to the London market overnight—we are dealing now with an end product—and be on the housewife's table in the morning.

I do not see why we should not be prepared to take a risk in this regard. I put this question to the Minister for his expert opinion on it, whether we could cultivate a limited market or otherwise for this type of tailored bacon? It would have advantages for us. Certainly, it would have advantages for the small producer. It would carry us on a stage forward until we had reached over 1,000,000 pigs or even above that figure. We have never reached it so far. We have done better in that regard in the past two or three years than we ever did before. We are coming to the stage of 1,000,000 pigs.

If we could increase that figure, improve our public relations and improve our relations with the housewives of Britain and get our bacon on the table there and keep it there, then we would be making some progress. We would then be deemed to have at least a chance of survival in the British market and who knows but that with the trends in Europe and with the grouping of the various countries, we might find ourselves in a bigger market? If we do as we have done in the past few years, we will be in a very bad position because not alone will we not be able to supply only five per cent. of the British market but we will find that we will not be able to supply any bacon at all outside that. I think that would be a pity.

When a new idea is advanced—this is not a new idea, indeed—you always get somebody to throw cold water on it simply because a comparison is made with those who tried some place else and failed. Any scheme will fail unless you have the will. If we will it and we want it in the morning and willed it to form the small producer groups, we could do it and, perhaps, beat the best. I happen to know a co-operative in the south of Ireland which tried this and failed badly because of a mishandling of the position and mismanagement. I do not want to blame them for that and I do not blame them. Perhaps they were too covetous. There has to be a little bit of give and take when it comes to co-operative effort. The day the pig went out of our economy and the day we failed to sell our pig at a profit in Smithfield, that is the day our trouble began, so far as the rural areas are concerned.

There are people who advocate the repopulation of the rural areas but you will find people advocating that who will give no example of how it could be done. I believe it could be done if we had the will to do it. I know plenty of young men leaving this country for England who could get the necessary credit and the necessary stock. Yet they are so cynical that they do not want to put that effort into it, even though they could get the credit. Senators opposite know that, too. I know them; I know farmers' sons who left this country and who could have come together. They have the greatest element in the whole cycle of pig production—that is, labour—at their command. They had their own labour. They had a certain amount of credit. They could get subsidies by way of housing grants. The investment would not be that big. Yet they did leave.

That is not so.

That is so. I am not making that charge lightly. I know as much about this subject as the Senator does, judging from the speech he made. If they had the will to do it, it could be done and it could be done at a profit. They might not earn as great a return as they would in Birmingham or in London; yet the other material advantages might be greater. I do not propose to delay the House. I presume the House will be agreeable to let the Minister in.

To conclude, certainly. He can speak after 10 o'clock, if necessary.

In all the discussion in which I participated on this subject, following the presentation of the Advisory Committee's Report, I had in mind one of the points most emphasised here by Senator Burke, who is a man of some experience in this matter of the bacon business for the very excellent reason that he is engaged in it. That was my main concern for the maintenance of these trader to trader connections that had been established, as he said and as others said to me, too, over many years. In my speech in the Dáil on Second Reading, I made reference to that matter and in my speech here today, I more or less covered the same ground in that regard.

I do not know what the attitude of the Commission will be that is proposed in this measure but I would genuinely like to think that as far as it is possible for them they should seriously think on that matter and to try to preserve as far as it is practicable any advantageous connection established in that fashion.

I said, too, on a number of occasions and I said it here earlier on that I was not at any time, nor am I yet bursting with enthusiasm for boards of this nature. But when you look at the market, at the British market and at the way in which our bacon is priced there, when you see all the fluctuations that take place there and when you believe, as I do, that the bacon we produce and expose for sale there is bacon of a very good quality, you find it very hard to understand why all these fluctuations should take place, unless our marketing arrangements had not some tremendous weakness in them.

When, on the other hand, you think of the fact that we have 36 or 37 individual curing concerns and when you see that we have been pursuing a policy here of guaranteeing prices to the producer for a certain type of pig and for certain classes—when you add all those considerations, then you have to conclude, as I have said on a number of occasions, that this appeared to be one business where central marketing, as far as the export business was concerned, suited it down to the ground.

Senator Burke went on to make the further point that some form of inducement should be provided that would secure from the producer a degree of continuity of supply. I must confess that while I see the advantages that would result from such continuity, I cannot see how that sort of scheme would work, but that consideration brings me to some other points that were raised here as to the weaknesses in this Bill, inasmuch as it did not provide for a whole lot of things relating to feeding stuffs, costings, housing and all the rest, that it did not aim, in some way or other, at compelling the small producer to improve and increase his capacity to produce, however that was going to be done or provided for in a measure of this kind or, indeed, in any kind of legislative proposal. But I would like to remind those who have expressed views of one kind or another as to the prospects of a continuance in production of the small producer and, on the other hand, the Senators who have recommended to me, and to us and to the country, that the only way is to go out for large-scale production and so on, that I do not personally accept either of those points of view.

What I would like to see in this industry and what our policy decisions clearly point to in that regard is to have a share of both. I would be very depressed indeed if I were to accept the point of view which Senator Carter, for example, seemed to harbour in his mind, that the small producer is going to go completely out of action. I do not believe that. When I saw one of those fairly large units in course of construction some time ago in County Cork, and when I realised the amount of money being invested in that building, and when I thought of the contribution that concern would receive in respect of that building from the State, so small that you would be ashamed to mention it to them, and when I thought of what Senator Burke has been saving here, I said: "Well, if we had a number of these fairly large units, provided they were not too large, they would provide the curers with an opportunity of entering into a form of contract with these so that they would have a basis of supply more-or-less over the year, and with whatever production were to result from the activities of the small producer thrown in with that sort of effort, it might provide the bacon-curing concerns with the sort of continuity of supply that is so much spoken of and written about."

I want to say again here, as I believe I have said before, that the scheme of grants that has been announced was designed in fact so that the small producer would be encouraged to enlarge the size of his production unit, that the grant that would be available to such an individual from the State would be higher in proportion to the space provided than that to the group or the society that would provide a larger unit. I think that if we were to get our people to see that there is, on the one hand, a guaranteed price for Grade A specials, a guaranteed price for Grade A, a guaranteed price for Grade B1, and that these guarantees represent about 65 to 70 per cent of all the pigs that are within the grade range, and on the other, the assistance provided by grants and otherwise, there is every prospect of an expansion in this business. I do not, as I have said, accept the proposition by some Senators on one side that we cannot make progress unless we just dash into the larger units, and on the other side that the smaller people have not a chance of survival at all.

I know a fair share about the area concerning which Senator O'Sullivan has spoken, that is, West Cork. They are certainly small people there, small as far as the size of their holdings is concerned, but, as he says, it is perhaps the best pig-producing area in the country. While I know a number of them are in that business in a fairly substantial way, there must be a tremendous number of them in it in a small way who still have no intention whatever of leaving it. The same could be said of the area I know even better than West Cork. I know many people who are in the pig business in a small way and it is a very important part of their whole economy. While there may be a tendency in some parts —the west of Ireland has not been as good in that regard as other parts—for the small producer to go out of production, there is certainly no evidence in the parts of the country I know best that that is so.

Complaints were made that there is no provision in the machinery we are now discussing along the lines of feeding stuffs and the price at which they will be available, housing grants, progeny tests etc. That work is going on as I have demonstrated, and as members of the Seanad know very well. There is every prospect that this industry will continue to expand because there is very little insecurity. There is now a margin of profit and with all the factors I have mentioned in their favour, one would not need to be over-optimistic to feel that the prospects for this industry must be bright. As a person with a fair knowledge and a fair understanding of its importance to many people, I would certainly like to see it going ahead and increasing from year to year.

Not many other points were raised during the course of the discussion with which I want to deal now, except perhaps the points in connection with the composition of the Commission. I do not at all like having to repeat myself, but some of the arguments advanced—I know they were not seriously advanced—are really interesting and humorous. The recommendations of the advisory body in that regard were: three curers, three representatives of the producers, two officials nominated by me, with an independant chairman.

First of all, I recommended to the Government that a commission of that size was, to my mind, too large. I realised that those three interests must have representation, but I thought that a board of eight, with an independent chairman, was unnecessarily large, so I recommended to the Government two and two and two, with an independent chairman. That recommendation was accepted and the White Paper followed, announcing the Government's attitude towards the recommendations of the advisory body, not only on that particular matter but on a number of others. It is only when a Government decision is announced that those interested in the business naturally rub their eyes and say: "Here is where we start to get off." They feel, and rightly so, that they should make their position clear and make their case. If they see in that proposal any injustice to them, naturally they will draw attention to it.

So it was with the bacon curers. They felt they were not getting fair representation for their business. The farmers had already disposed of the pigs. If they came inside any of the three grades I have mentioned, they had secured a guaranteed price, and the curers felt that after that point had been reached, the pigs were converted into bacon and had to be disposed of on the home or export market. When I hear the critics of the amended representation on the board speak as if, because of the alteration in the representation, the curers have been placed in a majority on the board. I have to laugh. The assumption now is apparently that the Department representative will at all times side with the curers, but if that assumption is right now, it could have been equally said about the representation of two and two and two, with an independent chairman. If the assumption is correct now, it could be applied to the other arrangement and would have even been more correct in that case.

In matters of this nature, when there was provision for a Departmental representative, the charge usually was: "You want to hand the whole business over to the civil servants; you want to pack the board or commission with civil servants; you want to have people on the board under the Minister's thumb; you want to have people on the board who will be able to decide any awkward issues in favour of the Minister's point of view."

After hearing the very excellent case made by the curers, we said: "We accept the justice of the case you have made and, so far as we are concerned, the only way we can meet it is by surrendering a place which it was suggested we should have ourselves." We did not interfere with the representation of the producers. We gave them exactly what was recommended by the Commission and to give justice as we see it, we said: "We will surrender one of the two we have and give it to the curers." That will result in a commission of three curers, two producers, one representative of my Department nominated by me, with a chairman appointed under this Bill, who is also a serving official in my Department. In what way the curers will have a majority on that board is a bit of a mystery to me. When, instead of getting, as I thought I would receive, a welcome and a pat on the back for the generosity displayed in surrendering one of our own places to an outside group, I got severe criticism, you can imagine my sense of disappointment. With all due respect to the pig—he is a very important animal, and so on— he has always been a very political little animal in this country. I do not expect the pig to change his character in that regard. Therefore, when Senator O'Sullivan, Senator Donegan and maybe some of the others made their case, I was rather disappointed. Senator Burke dealt with this as a man who had knowledge of the trade. There was not a wee spark at all of the political tinge arising off the pig's back.

His position was sure. He knew he was all right.

When Senator O'Sullivan. Senator Donegan and other Senators got to their feet, I said to myself: "The pig has not lost his colour yet." It is good politics to make that sort of case; some people think it is, anyhow. You are dealing with 37 or 38 units. There may be casual people like Senator Burke. After all, they are only 38 and, by comparison with the number of people producing pigs, they will not count for much in the months ahead.

I can well understand Senator O'Sullivan's argument on the constitution of the Commission and the representation of the different bodies. However whether they are 36, 36,000 or 50,000, somebody has to listen to a case. If there is justice in it then it should be somebody's responsibility to see it and to make provision for it. I did it by the grace of God as Minister and at our own expense and I am very proud I did it. As I said before, I am sure the Board which is designed in this measure is well-balanced and fair. The interests that will be represented there, the curers-and the producers, realise it is fair, too. It is better that we should start off on that foot than start off with a commission composed in such a way that a very important interest would have the feeling they had not had a fair deal. Having said that, I know I have. not heard the last word——

The Minister has not.

——as far as the political pig is concerned.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 24th May, 1961.
The Seanad adjourned at 10.10 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 24th May, 1961.