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Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 16 Feb 1966

Vol. 60 No. 15

Diseases of Animals Bill, 1965: Report and Final Stages.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 5, line 8, to delete "the".

This is a matter to which I referred on an earlier occasion. At the time, I understood the Minister to be in agreement with me. It is not a burning question which I am prepared to fight to the last ditch—it is merely a tightening up matter with which I got the impression the Minister was in agreement. It is only in the definition of "eggs" that you get the definite article and I expected the Minister to have introduced an amendment omitting it. He has not, so I should like to draw his attention to it again. The definition would be tidier and its import unaltered. The section states that "eggs" means the eggs of poultry. To say "eggs" means eggs of poultry would be just as clear. Not only that but it would bring it into line with the drafting of the rest of the section.

I suggest the amendment is un necessary. Throughout the section, the definite and indefinite articles are used as the context requires and I do not think there is any necessity to delete the definite article in this case. In the section you have the definite article following the definition of carcase on page 4 and again following the definitions of local authority and the Minister on page 5. I do not think the case put by the Senator for its removal is sufficient justification, if you like, to merit its deletion. It is not of sufficiently serious consequence for me to accept the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 5, to delete line 40.

This is a small matter arising out of a discussion on the Committee Stage. The Minister indicated that some tightening up of the definitions was required. In line 40 of page 5, "prescribe" is defined as "prescribe by order". Everywhere in the Act where there is provision for the Minister to make orders, it is stated that the Minister may make orders. Once he is entitled to make an order, it does not seem to me that there is anything to be gained by putting into the Bill that he may make orders "prescribing and regulating" as appears in sections 27, 33 and elsewhere.

If "prescribed" means "prescribed by order", then I feel you are bound to take the words "prescribed by order" and transfer them to where "prescribed" occurs. If you do that, you get an outbreak of tautology for which any Leaving Certificate student would have considerable marks deducted by examiners of the Department of Education. There is an outbreak of it in section 27 and it increases until there is an absolute epidemic of it in section 33. I am told here that it is a torrent of tautology. I do not see for the life of me how if "prescribed" means "prescribed by order", the Minister may make an order in section 27 prescribing and regulating. I think it is utterly tautological to translate that to mean that the Minister may make orders prescribing and regulating the issue and production of licences in regard to the movement and removal of animals, poultry, eggs and things as set out in paragraph (b) of section 27.

Then you find in section 33 and other sections that "prescribe" is used in a different sense. The Minister may make orders, in section 33, in relation to other things prescribing for the supervision and control of animals. In that kind of context I do not know how you can say the Minister may make orders prescribing by order for the supervision and control of animals. That, to me, does not sound like English at all. Therefore, the way to get over all that difficulty—it is obviously bad draftsmanship—is to delete "prescribe" altogether. It is quite redundant since everywhere the Minister is empowered to make an order under any section of the Bill. I would hate to have to try to explain to any member of the public how the definition can be justified as it stands. I think the cleanest and neatest way, to borrow a phrase of Senator Sheldon, is to delete line 40. As I say, it is only a drafting point and I do not think we should be asked to assent to this slovenly kind of draftsmanship.

Senator O'Quigley mentions that line 40 could be deleted altogether and goes on to show where there has been repetition and where there would appear to be no necessity for having a recurrence of the expressions "prescribed by order" or "the Minister may by order prescribe". I would refer the Senator to the words of the preamble to section 2 "except where the context otherwise requires". I think that in itself is the explanation of the necessity to have the line included, to have the definition of "prescribe" included in this and it justifies the use of "may by order prescribe" used subsequently in the various sections the Senator quoted. Because of that and because of the preamble to this section I think that the line should remain in. There is no need, if it is read in conjunction with the preamble, to have it deleted.

There is an old maxim that the king can do no wrong and the Parliamentary draftsman can never do anything wrong either, it seems to me, on the basis of the Parliamentary Secretary's reply. I should like the Parliamentary Secretary to tell me—although he will not have an opportunity under the Standing Orders of the House to do so—if the context otherwise requires a different meaning or does not require the meaning given to "prescribe" in line 40, where this particular narrow definition of "prescribe" arises?

May I refer the Senator to section 14?

That section says the Minister may prescribe. "Prescribe" means "prescribe by order". That is the only case. That being so, then what is the necessity, in the name of good draftsmanship and clarity of expression, to say the Minister may make orders prescribing and regulating? I must say that the thing beats me. Either I do not understand English or I do. I think I understand English.

I would refer the Senator to sections 6, 12 and 14.

Amendment put and declared lost.
Government Amendment No. 3.
In page 6, line 7, to delete "the Act" and substitute "this Act".

During the discussion on Committee Stage Senator Ó Donnabháin referred to the inconsistency in line 7, page 6 of using the definite article before the word "Act" whereas, throughout the rest of the Bill, the word "Act" is preceded by "this". That is the reason for this amendment being introduced at this stage.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 17, line 14, before "place" to insert "other".

This, again, is something to which I referred on Committee Stage. I think the Parliamentary Secretary is clear as to my intention in raising the matter. I understood from the Parliamentary Secretary during the discussion on this section in reply to, I think, the case made by Senator Ó Donnabháin, that other legislation prevented the pollution of water in regard to fish. This particular subsection was dealing only with water which was used for drinking or other domestic purposes. If that is so, it is far from clear in the present wording that that is the effect because I maintain, on the existing wording, that the injurious effect on water in a stream is not limited to the use of that water for drinking or domestic purposes but is as wide as injury can go in relation to water. If it is the desire —I am only trying to be helpful—of the Parliamentary Secretary that all the water sources referred to in the subsection are being viewed purely from the basis that any injurious effect would apply to water used for drinking or other domestic purposes, then I suggest it is necessary to put in the word "other" before "domestic". I read the subsection as it would then appear:

No dipping place shall be used for the purposes of this section if such use would injuriously affect the water in any stream, reservoir, aqueduct, well, pond or other place constructed or used for the supply of water for drinking or other domestic purposes.

I am quite convinced it is only by putting in the word "other" in front of this that we make it clear. I am perfectly sure that the reference to the subsection is purely to water used for drinking or other domestic purposes.

I am satisfied that the amendment, as introduced by Senators Sheldon and Cole in this particular instance, is of benefit to this particular section. It can be regarded as an improvement and I am willing to accept the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.
Government Amendment No. 5.
In page 21, line 36, to delete "unlawfully".

It was pointed out, when another section was being discussed on Committee Stage, that the word "unlawfully" here appears to be unnecessary and, because of that, we have moved this particular amendment for the deletion of this word.

I am grateful for the Minister's agreement to this, which was proposed by me but, in fact, it occurs also at subsection (h) of section 49 on page 22. I think we agreed last time that they should both be deleted.

That has already been amended on Committee Stage.

My apologies—my mistake.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 24, line 27, before "with" to insert "or harness", and in lines 27 and 28 to delete "on the collar" and substitute "thereon".

To avoid taking up the time of the Seanad unnecessarily, I shall begin by asking if the Parliamentary Secretary is accepting the amendment. If he is, then we need not speak about it.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass".

On the Final Stage of the Bill I should like to say—though I am not expert on the diseases of animals or anything like it—I certainly hope the Bill will be the success it deserves to be. There is one thing, however, I should like to direct the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to and it is in relation to the implementation of the Bill. I have no doubt that the Department of Agriculture have learned from some bitter and sometimes costly experience the defects and deficiencies which obtained in relation to the issue of cards for bovine TB cattle and of the ramp which went on in the sale of those cards unlawfully and illegally on the tags. I speak as one who has been concerned in court with cases in which this kind of thing occurred. I hope the position will be whatever cards will be issued in respect of cattle which are free from brucellosis, and whatever other diseases will be the subject of registering, that the Department will take special care to see that the kind of thing which occurred previously will not happen again because it could—as I am sure the Department well knows and the Parliamentary Secretary will appreciate —upset, to a great extent, the benefits of the scheme and nullify, to some extent at any rate, the expenditure which would have been incurred. I hope the Department will take special care in that regard and avoid the losses which occurred on previous occasions.

I want to thank the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary for the way in which they handled the Bill. Some dozen amendments or more were more or less agreed to and I feel that the Bill itself is much more effective for those amendments. We did not succeed in having section 13 or paragraph 20 of the Second Schedule amended but, nevertheless, the assurances the Parliamentary Secretary gave the House on the last day leave us in no doubt and we are quite satisfied that the powers in the Bill will not be used except, as the Parliamentary Secretary said, when dealing with diseases in a national campaign. I feel that is very reassuring for the farming community and those people who feared there would be changes. Once again, I should like to thank the Minister for the way he met us throughout the Committee Stage.

I should like to join the other speakers in complimenting the Minister, especially the Parliamentary Secretary, for the way in which they met the House. I think it is the first occasion on which we have had the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries in this House and I think we can all truthfully say he created a very fine impression.

I should like to join also with the other speakers in hoping that the passing of this Bill will enable the Department and the Minister to cut down the losses occasioned through diseases in animals in the past and, if it does so, I think this Bill will have achieved its purpose.

I take it it is rather unusual—in replying at this particular stage—not to have to say very much about the Bill in relation to the discussion which may or may not have taken place on the Final Stage. First of all, with regard to Senator O'Quigley's reference to various problems which arose in connection with the blue cards of the TB scheme, I think it can quite justifiably be said that the number of court cases in relation to the amount of money involved, and the huge amount of work that had to be done in relation to the scheme, was not great. During the course of the scheme the number of difficulties that arose in this connection diminished quite considerably. It was in the early stages, while the Department was finding their feet with regard to administration, so to speak, that the greatest difficulties occurred.

In my turn I should like to say that I am very grateful for the manner in which the Seanad received me on my first visit here representing the Minister. Quite honestly I was rather fearful about it, and it is only right that I should return thanks to Members of the Seanad for the manner in which they assisted me during the course of the debate, and during the passage of the Bill through the House.

Question put and agreed to.