Livestock Marts Bill, 1967: Committee Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following amendment:
To delete line 17.
—(Senator O'Quigley.)

The Minister had some things to say about this amendment last night which it is necessary to clear up. The Minister was at great pains to show the position in relation to previous legislation about which I shall not go into detail now. I have not got a clatter of civil servants to do research for me and to get me all the details in regard to what went on since 1924. I do not propose to follow the Minister down along that path. What happened in 1928, 1936, 1955 and 1956 was, as I have said before—and I hate repeating myself—dealt with in a time of calm. There was no questioning thebona fides of the Minister who introduced the legislation to deal with an existing difficulty or to anticipate or apprehend even a particular difficulty. That is not this case.

What is done at present, notwithstanding the euphoric atmosphere in which the Minister chooses or pretends to live, is that the machinery of Parliament is being used as an instrument for wreaking revenge on a section of the community. When that kind of situation develops, everybody is called to an abrupt halt. Everybody asks himself or herself if it is right that the machinery of Parliament should be used in this way. Once the Minister's motives are suspect, then the House, the Dáil, the Press, various organisations around the country, and the public, are apt to take a look at what has been going on in the past and what is being done in the present.

When one sees the manner in which the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act has, in fact, been operated—and I am going to say no more than that—one begins to see how absolutely dangerous it is to vest absolute power in a final way in a Minister of State. Because of that, the Fine Gael Party have put down a Bill in the Dáil to remove the power of deciding planning permission appeals and related matters from the Minister for Local Government and proposing that it should be vested in a planning board which will consist of a judge of one of our courts and assessors to assist him.

May I draw the attention of the Senator to the fact that he has already made that statement?

Several times.

But the Minister chooses to say that Fine Gael were quite happy with the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1963, and that there were no divisions on it. I want to counter that by saying yes, that they might have been prepared to repose trust in the Minister in 1963 but having had the experience of the way in which that Act has been operated, they have given evidence, by the way in which they put down a Bill in Parliament, to show that they are no longer prepared to do that. Certainly in this Bill we are not prepared to vest the power of deciding whether a mart should come into existence, or remain in existence, in a Minister of State.

Let us look at the provisions of section 3 of this Bill. First of all, the Minister, in subsection (2), may "at the time of the granting of a licence, attach to the licence such conditions as he shall think proper and shall specify in the licence." We find that the Minister "may if he so thinks fit, amend or revoke a condition attached to a licence" and he may also, if the holder is guilty of an offence, if he thinks fit, revoke the licence, so that the Minister is going to become prosecutor and judge and jury in relation to any licence. If that accords with the notions of justice held by the Fianna Fáil Party, it certainly does not accord with the simple notions of natural justice held by the vast majority of the people and the fact that the Minister proposes to issue the death certificate in the form of laying a statement before each House of the Oireachtas does not bring back to life the mart which has been closed down by the say-so of the Minister.

When the Minister talked about what went on in the Dail, a certain softness came over him which has not been noticeable previously in this House, especially during this debate. One thought it rather nice of the Minister and one began to think that there was no such a thing as a really hard Minister for Agriculture in the person of the present Minister. We heard him saying that Deputy Dillon in 1963 said that he was a very nice person and that "he had words of praise to say of me," and he quoted with approval what Deputy Dillon said about him. That was a very nice interlude, showing how susceptible even a Minister in charge of the Mafia from Donegal is to a little flattery.

Showing how wrong you were.

Could we have, Sir, an explanation from Senator O'Quigley in regard to his reference to this Italian organisation, the Mafia? I am sick and tired listening to this and I should like to know what he means.

The Senator should ask the Minister——

Italian affairs would not be in order on this amendment.

I rather thought that would be the ruling. I am prohibited from explaining because Italian affairs are out of order on this amendment.

The Senator will now become relevant.

I want to say that in the Dáil on the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, Deputy Jones, in numerous amendments——

This has already been mentioned by the Senator.

By the Minister.

If the Minister makes a statement which requires to be corrected, I think I am in order in correcting it.

The Minister was answering the Senator.

Standing Orders state clearly that irrelevancy and repetition in debate are out of order.

But the Planning Act would hardly be out of order or the Minister would have been out of order over a long period.

Senator O'Quigley to continue on the amendment.

I am trying to be relevant but I suppose if one tries to follow the Minister for Agriculture and tries to correct him, one is inevitably inclined to go wrong and to find oneself in trouble with the Chair for being irrelevant. I think it is not irrelevant to point out that what the Minister and the Fianna Fáil Party are seeking in this Bill is the kind of power which properly cannot and ought not, under our Constitution, be exercised by a Minister of State.

Like the Blueshirt powers.

Oisín speaks again.

Blueshirt dictatorship.

I have already, in passing, referred to the decision of the Supreme Court. Either the Fianna Fáil Party accept decisions of the Supreme Court or they do not. If they do not, they should say so. I understand that the Constitution provides that the Supreme Court will have the final say in whether the enactments of the Oireachtas are constitutional or not, and it is relevant on this Bill to draw attention to the close analogy that exists between the granting of a licence by a Minister of State and its revocation by him, even after an inquiry by a barrister of ten years standing, and the situation which obtained under the Solicitors Act, 1954, under which a Disciplinary Committee, consisting of solicitors, was established to investigate charges of unprofessional conduct or misconduct on the part of solicitors. That was a body consisting of solicitors' peers skilled in law and, one would have thought, not unsuited to adjudicate whether a particular solicitor had done right or wrong. Even after the solicitor had been adjudicated guilty of misconduct by the Disciplinary Committee, he had a right of appeal to the Chief Justice. That safeguard was provided in the Solicitors Act, 1954, and the Supreme Court held, and it is on record for everybody to read in the 1960 Irish Reports, beginning on page 239, that:

The question of whether or not a solicitor is to be allowed continue to practise his profession is a justifiable controversy.

By its adjudication the Disciplinary Committee purports to decide the controversy in a final manner and, if necessary, its decision will be enforced by the authority of the State.

The Disciplinary Committee, in ordering the applicants' names should be struck off the roll of solicitors were purporting to exercise judicial power.

It went on to say:

That as the powers were limited to solicitors and were subject to a right of appeal to the Courts, the said powers were of a limited nature within the meaning of Article 37 of the Constitution.

The Report also said that the powers and functions conferred by the Act on the Committee could not be described as merely limited powers and functions of a judicial nature within Article 37 of the Constitution and accordingly the exercise of such power was unconstitutional and accordingly the appellants were invalidly struck off the roll of solicitors.

Now the short point in all of this and the relevance and the acute relevance of this particular decision to the present Bill is this. A solicitor is entitled to practise by virtue of a statute, an Act of Parliament. The proprietor of a livestock mart is to be entitled to set up business and to continue in business by virtue of a licence to be given to him by a Minister of State. The decision whether he will continue as the proprietor of a livestock mart or not is going to be determined by a Minister of State. If it is wrong or unconstitutional for the disciplinary Committee of the Law Society to strike off the rolls a solicitor and prevent him from practising, it seems to me that, if a Minister of State decides to revoke the licence of an owner of a livestock mart and prevent him from continuing the business of a livestock mart, it is equally unconstitutional and that the power proposed to be given in this Bill to a Minister of State is a power of a judicial nature exercisable under our Constitution only by the judges appointed to our courts and, therefore, this Bill would appear to me to be unconstitutional.

How the Minister can tell us that this Bill is constitutional I do not for a moment pretend to understand. I should like to see the distinction or to hear the Minister distinguish between this case and the Solicitors Act case. I should like to hear him point out the differences. I am quite open to conviction. I should be glad to know what the views of the legal adviser of the Minister and the Government are in this particular matter. I am sure that the owners of livestock marts would also be interested in them. I think I will leave it at that for the moment, because I cannot for the life of me see how in the light of the Supreme Court decision, it can be said that this Bill is not unconstitutional. I do not for a moment say that that is the only reason for rejecting this Bill.

It is the amendment that is under consideration.

Why not leave the Bill to the Supreme Court you have been talking about, where you are going to test it?

I did not say I was going to. That is like saying it is all right if a fellow steals my car because the courts will deal with him. The car should not be stolen in the first place. The House should not enact legislation which is unconstitutional.

That is what you think.

That is what the Constitution says. The Oireachtas shall not enact——

You think it is unconstitutional: we do not.

I want to find out how the Minister's legal adviser distinguishes between the power proposed to be vested in him to grant or revoke licences under this Bill and the Solicitors Act case.

How do you distinguish it from previous Acts?

Which ones?

The ones cited more than once.

They may be unconstitutional, too.

The Fine Gael Party have been very remiss in not doing something about it.

The 1955 Act was passed before the decision of the Supreme Court in the Solicitors Act. That is one of the reasons. What I should like to know is how he distinguishes his right to grant or revoke a licence from the Solicitors Act case.

When Senator O'Quigley has been speaking here on a few occasions, it reminded me of the man who found he had been speaking prose all his life and did not realise it. Apparently, if we are to believe what Senator O'Quigley said, we have been living in an age of despotism and of suppression because he has told us that, if the powers which the Minister seeks in this Bill are given to him, we shall then be in an age of despotism, regardless of the fact that these same powers exist in numerous other Acts for the past 30 or 35 years. Apparently, we did not realise we were living in this age of despotism, to use one of the clichés he mentioned.

Senator Quinlan regards the powers in this Bill as the beginning of the end. In view of the fact that that beginning, if it is really a beginning, took place over 30 years ago, it is hardly appropriate to wake up at this stage and find we are at the beginning of the end.

If the only objection to this Bill were the objection that the Minister is being given powers to grant licences and withhold licences, which powers should be given to a court, then one might take it seriously; one might debate it seriously and wonder whether there was something in this suggestion. But it is quite clear, abundantly clear, from the process of this Bill in the other House and in this House, that this is just one more attempt to attack the Bill, that this is a search for any possible objection that Fine Gael can lay hands on to oppose this Bill. Having regard to the fact that there are not only 68 amendments to the Bill but that there have been votes and objections on every conceivable issue, including the Order of Business, what time we should start, what time we should finish, we think it is quite clear this cannot be taken seriously. In regard to the weight and the validity of some of the amendments that have been put down to this Bill, some of the many amendments, from a study of those it is quite clear that in the vast majority of cases they are not serious amendments and certainly undermine any confidence one can have in the sincerity of those opposing this Bill.

The new-found concern of Fine Gael in this connection is really very touching. It is something which they might have brought into play many years ago. But, apparently, there is something quite different about this particular Bill. There is something quite different about this particular Government. There is something quite different about this particular Minister. Apparently, it is all right to give these powers to other Ministers in other Governments in other years, but not in this particular case.

Senator O'Quigley, in discussing this question of powers which have been given to Ministers in the past and powers that have, on the other hand, been given to the courts, mentions the Factories Acts, the Office Premises Act, the Dance Halls Act and a number of other Acts, but, curiously enough, he steers as far away as possible from the agricultural Acts because the agricultural Acts are relevant and do have the powers which he now suggests should not be given to the Minister. He said that if this Bill is passed, it will probably be unconstitutional. If it is unconstitutional, then the whole edifice of agricultural Acts will collapse on the following day.

That may be so.

But, of course, Senator O'Quigley knows that that is not true. He knows in any event—at least he says he knows—ways around this Act.

No I did not.

Oh, yes, that is what he said.

I did not.

The Supreme Court is a very practical court and if the Supreme Court comes to the conclusion that Senator O'Quigley is right, that it is very easy, that any good lawyer can find a way around this Act, then the Supreme Court will not take the Act seriously and it will be quite unnecessary to declare it unconstitutional.

I never heard of the Supreme Court taking that view.

Yes, if the law is not binding, if you can get around it, nobody will be in jeopardy.

Could the Senator give an example of where the Supreme Court deemed an Act to be constitutional because it is ineffective? I do not recall such a case.

If the Act does not do something which is contrary to the liberty of the subject or unconstitutional, if it is an Act which, in fact, has no teeth in it and will not be effective, then the Supreme Court will not bother to find it unconstitutional.

There are enough loopholes in the various Finance Acts but they are not unconstitutional.

The Minister and Senator Yeats have outlined a number of Acts and I am not going to outline them again because I know that everybody in the Seanad, including the Leaders of the Opposition, are well aware of the details of those Acts and well aware that the powers in those Acts are almost identical and in some cases identical with the powers given in the Bill now before us. In every case the ones which have been mentioned are relevant in the sense that they are dealing with agriculture, in the sense that they are dealing with the giving and withholding of licences, in the sense that those licences are given or withheld by the Minister and in many cases there are far fewer protections given in these Acts, because it is not necessary in many of those cases to bring the Order or to bring the decision before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

All of those Acts were passed either by Coalition Ministers or before the Coalition Governments were in power and if they were as repugnant to Fine Gael as they now allege the giving of such powers is, then they could have done something about it. Why this sudden change? Why on this occasion are such powers not powers that should be given to the Minister?

Senator O'Quigley has talked about motives in relation to this Bill, has suggested that the Minister has introduced it, not for the good of the community, not for the good of the farming community, but because of some vendetta he has, some alleged row he has, with some particular section of the farmers.

It seems to me that if we go into motives on this Bill, if we concern ourselves with the motives of those who support or oppose this Bill, the motives of Fine Gael do not stand up to very careful examination because if anything is clear from the way in which this Bill has been opposed it is clear that the motives of Fine Gael were not above board, that the motives of Fine Gael were merely ones of political expediency, to try to oppose this Bill, to try to find some issue upon which they could regain the confidence of the people, the confidence which they lost many years ago and are never likely to regain. Therefore I do not think that Fine Gael in particular should attempt to deal too carefully with the question of motives when they are dealing with this Bill. It is impossible to regard their new-found concern for the constitutional rights of the farming community and the constitutional rights of the owners of marts as being serious.

It should be remembered that the Constitution is there to protect not merely one small section of the community but every member of the community and in so far as the Constitution has to pick between a small section and the majority of the community, the agricultural community as a whole would certainly be regarded as being far more important and whose rights should be sustained rather than a limited number of owners of livestock marts.

Senator Stanford in dealing with this Bill said it was one which would have to be considered carefully to see whether it is on one side or the other of the line where the powers should not be given to a Minister or where it was permissible to give them to the Minister. Senator Stanford, on this Bill, has been very sincere. He has shown by his discussion and by his voting on the Bill that he is not resolutely opposed to it, that he is not going to fight it to the finish, as Fine Gael said, that he is prepared to consider it in a detached and reasonable way. I accept that his objection to this Bill is sincere but I would ask him and I would ask anybody who may be impressed by his sincerity, why was this Bill picked on, why this particular Bill?

It has been suggested that there was some public disquiet about this Bill. I am not aware of any public disquiet. I am aware that Fine Gael and the NFA attempted to work up an agitation about this Bill. I am aware that they spoke on many occasions about it and got their speeches put into the papers and in that way we see a certain amount in the newspapers about it. We are not aware of any public disquiet.

You are out of touch.

I am aware of a very deliberate and very vicious campaign about this Bill.

Does that include the Incorporated Law Society?

The motives behind that campaign are motives which, as I said, do not bear very careful examination.

Does that include the Incorporated Law Society?

And the Junior Chamber of Commerce?

Including the Incorporated Law Society who are not, I am afraid, free from a certain amount of political influence at certain times.

Senator Nash is one of your political nominees.

It is very nice to see the Incorporated Law Society waking up to an apparent flaw, an apparent objection to this Bill but I wonder why they did not make the same objection to the various other Bills which have exactly the same points.

They have, indeed.

Again, I wonder, why this particular Bill? The reason is that this particular Bill is the subject of a vicious campaign on the part of the NFA and Fine Gael to attempt to continue a practice in the livestock marts which was clearly discriminating against individual farmers, individual subjects, people who are entitled to the protection of the Constitution.

In how many instances?

This Bill was introduced to enable the individual farmer to have the right to sell his livestock in a livestock mart and not to be prevented from doing so by proprietors of livestock marts who were not prepared to give him his constitutional rights.

Even the John Browns?

He has rights, too.

He put you fellows in your box.

Tell us more about the John Browns.

I will tell you.

Perhaps Senator Rooney will allow the Senator to make his speech?

And Senator Ó Maoláin.

And Senator O'Quigley and Senator FitzGerald.

Senator Ryan.

Sorry: this kind of thing gets me on the raw.

I agree with Senator Stanford when he says that every Bill of this kind that is introduced in which powers are given to the Minister should be examined to ensure that they are powers which it is legitimate for the Minister to have. I agree that this examination should take place. I agree that the Executive, the Administration, have a tendency to take more power than they should have, a very natural tendency. Their concern is to get the job done with the minimum of fuss and without getting entangled in cases in court and so on. I understand the reason they do this but, although it is a natural tendency, it is a tendency which must always be watched, because vigilance is the price of liberty.

Another of the clichés of which Senator Ryan approves.

But, of course, we must not reach the stage where every Act seems to hold some danger to liberty. We must not reach the stage where every power given to a Minister appears to him to infringe the principles of liberty. Certainly we must not allow ourselves, when we are considering a Bill, to be influenced by agitation which is spurious or a campaign which is vicious, by factors which have nothing whatever to do with the liberty of the subject.

I have, on a number of occasions when Bills came before this House, spoken on this subject. I have taken action in so far as I could to prevent things going into Bills which I felt infringed this liberty. I shall continue to do so in the future, but this Bill does not appear to me to be on the wrong side of the line, to employ the phrase used by Senator Stanford. It seems to me that, having regard to the history of the agriculture Acts, having regard to the almost exactly similar powers that have been given to Ministers for Agriculture, and having regard to the way in which those powers have been used, we are quite safe in giving the powers the Minister seeks in this Bill. Those powers, apparently, have not been abused in the past.

Senator O'Quigley says that the powers sought in this case are unconstitutional. If the powers given in previous Acts were abused by a Minister and if some individual were prejudiced or oppressed as a result of the powers given in the past, then, if Senator O'Quigley is right, what the Minister was doing was unconstitutional and the individual who was oppressed would have his right to appeal to the Supreme Court.

What does that cost?

As there has been no outcry or no complaint about the way in which those powers have been used in the past, we can only come to the conclusion either that those powers were never used in a way that oppressed anybody or that, if they were used in a way that had oppressed somebody, then Senator O'Quigley and his friends did not leap to his rescue, did not tell him his rights under the Constitution and did not advise him in the way that we are now being advised he could get relief from the Supreme Court.

It is quite clear from the history of the way in which those Acts have been used that there has been no source of complaint, that they have not been abused, that the various Ministers for Agriculture have not used these powers to the detriment of individual members of the community. In the circumstances, I see no reason why this Bill should be picked out for special attention. I see no reason why we should come to the conclusion in this case that the powers given to the Minister are on the wrong side of the line.

When we look at the amendments which have been put down to this Bill, most of which are still before us, it is quite clear that the objection to this Bill on the ground that it gives powers to the Minister which he should not have is not a valid objection. It is highly suspect in view of the fact that it is in the company of so many other amendments which have no validity whatever and which, undoubtedly, as soon as this Bill is passed, will be forgotten and treated with the contempt they deserve.

The opening part of Senator Ryan's speech was directed towards motives. May I make an appeal to drop this discussion of motives? It is utterly futile. Our motives, even those of the simplest of us, are obscure, hidden and complex. We can only guess what each other's motives are. Rather than make guesses, let us get down to principles and stay on principles; then we may get somewhere on this Bill. We have raised principles on this matter, and they have not been satisfactorily met.

The Minister has made a promise and I look forward to his fulfilling it to show us that the powers given to the court of licensing auctioneers does not give a good parallel to what we are asking in this case. I see that public-houses and dancehalls may be different matters, but the case of auctioneers comes very close to this Bill. I should also be interested if he or any member of the Fianna Fáil Party could give an example of similar powers being taken by small countries like our own, either in the EEC or elsewhere. My information is that they do not exist. Why should we, then, do it particularly?

Senator Ryan said there was no public disquiet. Then he went on to admit there was public disquiet which had been whipped up in the press and in other ways. I can only say to him that in independent circles—by which I mean professors of law and ordinary citizens of the country who are not committed to any Party whatever— there is a degree of public disquiet. It is a matter of opinion, one against the other. In these circumstances, to enact legislation that may be punitive is regrettable. The present Minister assures us, and I am quite convinced of it, that he will not abuse his powers. I remember some years ago Senator McGuire, sitting in the front seat here on the left, saying that the Government of this country now had collected enough power to establish, pretty well, a totalitarian state as soon as they wanted. He made some reference to legislation in Poland and said that in many cases the powers of a Minister of State in Poland were not greater than in this country. We are adding to them all the time. At the moment we are democratic. At the moment we can trust Governments on either side not to be totalitarian. But suppose the sudden step is made, no legislation would be necessary; it has all been enacted by this House and the other House, simply to turn us into another Poland.

That is absolutely correct.

I am not interested in the slightest degree in the honour and glory of Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael. This is a game that has to be played. I recognise the value of the Party for arousing loyalties and so on, but a great deal of what we are saying today is purely personal and purely partisan. I want answers on principles. Would the Minister or someone else answer the argument put forward by Senator Quinlan which I think needs the greatest emphasis? He pointed out that if these licences have to go to court, then the applicants can brief barristers and the people who oppose the application can brief barristers and have it out in open court on grounds of principle. Accept what is in the Bill at the moment, and as Senator Quinlan quite correctly said it will be fought on political loyalties, and even the arbitrator himself, a barrister of ten years standing, may well make his decision on grounds of political loyalties. I say that is striking at the welfare. of this State. I stand on that and I have heard no argument to make me change my mind. I hope I shall hear a satisfactory argument and if I do, I shall openly withdraw but if not, I shall stand very firmly on Senator Quinlan's amendment in which I have the honour to share.

I was a little surprised to hear Senator Quinlan—this is just one point only—emphasise so strongly his objection to a barrister of ten years standing in this case. We have had barristers and members of the legal profession holding inquiries in various ways through the years and I doubt very much if there has ever been any question of their sincerity or the complete impartiality of their decisions. I would say the same about any other profession and I think it extraordinary that these two Senators, without giving any examples, can suggest, as a reason for the deletion of section 3 of this Bill, that they could not trust a member of any profession—I presume the same applies to the professors and to the teachers—of ten years standing who might be appointed by the Government, not to do something for purely personal or political reasons, because in the future such persons would hope to get some advancement out of it. I do not believe such persons are very frequently met in this country. In the case of all of these inquiries, the arbitrator, if anything, leans against authority, against the Minister and in favour of the ordinary man. I am a little sad that people like Senator Stanford and Senator Quinlan should have that opinion of their own profession, which, I presume, is included.

On a point of explanation, what we are speaking of is the risk of this happening, not the certainty.

And precedents also.

Senator Cole, to continue.

I hope not, if he misrepresents us.

This is the impression I got from what the Senators said. That was their chief and only objection to the section so far as I could gather. I should think that, shall we say, if times were normal anybody such as the proprietor of a mart and particularly the farming community would prefer to have an inquiry like this where things would be much less expensive and I should think much quicker and much more informal. When we have subsection 7 of section 3 following I see no objection to having an inquiry before a barrister of ten years standing.

I listened with attention to what Senator Ryan had to say, as, indeed, I always do. As I recognise Senator Stanford's sincerity, I recognise Senator Ryan's also, although in one respect I think he allowed his irritation with what he regards as the objectionable tactics of the other side to overcome his judgment and that was when he ascribed the whole of this controversy on this Bill to the Fine Gael Party and the NFA and the agitation it has aroused. I think it is a mistake on his part to do that. There is more to it than that. While it is not easy to do so, I have tried to stand back from this issue. I know that in the heat of the moment exaggerated statements have been made by both sides and it is not easy to stand back and see the true issues lying at the heart of the matter. I thought Senator Stanford, who is in a better position to do so than those of us in the front of the House, has been able to do this and to detect what are the real issues in the midst of the controversy and, at times, the irrelevancies.

Trying to take a detached view of it, it seems to me that this is an objectionable power and I am saying this not because I happen to be on this side of the House but because it is something that I would feel whatever side of the House I was on. I feel that also in relation to some, at least, of the other Acts to which reference has been made. I have not had an opportunity of reading them all since reference was made to them as we have not the same resources in research as the other side of the House. Unfortunately, I missed Senator Yeats' speech on Second Stage and could only check up on some of the points that were made in the time available as I had been away. It seems to me that in relation to some of the other Acts to which reference by was made and which were enacted by the other side previously I would have the same objections to them as I have to this Bill. It may be argued—indeed, it is argued—that if this is so, why has this not been raised? That is a question which raises two points. Whatever were the circumstances of the times when those two Acts were passed—I cannot accept any responsibility for them as I was not here at the time—I think if I were here I should have objected to them but, in any case, several things have happened since then which would have made me more determined to object to them.

One thing is the fact that our courts have decided an issue that is relevant to this. We have had occasion before to refer to the case of Farrell v O'Gorman. It may be that the interpretation we put on the decision is one that the courts would not sustain. It is very hard to know how to interpret these decisions and we are naturally inclined to look at them from our own point of view. However, on reading this case again, I think it is directly relevant.

I would make a distinction here between ministerial power—this is a distinction similar to, but not identical with Senator Quinlan's—to regulate certain activities in order to protect the public and subject to certain safeguards and a different ministerial power which I think should not be given to any Minister or Government by any House of the Oireachtas and that is the power to determine whether or not people shall carry on their business. These are two different things. It seems quite proper that the Minister should have power to regulate the way in which people carry on business, to regulate the quality of the products produced and the honesty of the presentation of these products to the public. It may be necessary to provide safeguards to prevent abuse by the Minister of such a power but that he should have such power seems to me to be proper.

On the other hand, it does not seem proper that the Minister should have power to decide whether or not a person may carry on his profession or occupation. This is an objection similar to that made by Senator Quinlan who makes a distinction between this Bill and previous Acts. In this respect I do not entirely follow him in that distinction. I think it is difficult to make a distinction and sustain it fully. It seems to me that if I object to the Minister having power to regulate the right of a person to carry on his means of livelihood then some of the previous Acts—I have not examined them fully in the short time available to me—are equally objectionable. In particular the one at which I did look, the 1955 Act, dealing with seeds and animal I feedingstuffs, gives the Minister power to decide whether people shall have the right to manufacture these goods. It seems to me that power is analogous and equally objectionable. It may be that some of the other Acts contain this power to regulate the way in which people carry on their functions and carry on their professional activities.

I cannot see on what ground Senator Quinlan makes a distinction between the present Bill and the power contained in the Act which I have examined. I think I should have had to object to that Act in regard to the right to a licence to manufacture fertilisers and feedingstuffs if I had been here even before being alerted to it by the case of Farrell v O'Gorman in 1958. That case highlights the position and forces us to consider in relation to the legislation coming into the House whether or not it is unconstitutional. I will quote two sentences—I do not want to quote at length—from the final paragraph of that judgment which seems to me to be directly relevant. It reads:

The power to strike a solicitor off the rolls is a "disciplinary" and "punitive" power, to adopt the language of the judges In Re Grey——

Then there are various references. It goes on, shortly afterwards:

It seems to the court that the power to strike a solicitor off the rolls is, when exercised, and administration of justice, both because the infiction of such a severe penalty on a citizen is a matter which calls for the exercise of the judicial power of the State and because to entrust such a power to persons other than judges is to interfere with the necessities of the proper administration of justice.

The point being made there, and the point being made throughout this judgement is that where the matter at stake is the right of a person to carry on his means of livelihood, as distinct from how he carries it on, then this is a justiciable matter; this is a matter for the courts, a matter that cannot be decided by any domestic tribunal or any Minister.

We are bound to have regard to that decision. It has had an effect on previous legislation. In the light of that decision, some of the previous legislation referred to in this House would, if brought to the courts, also be found to be unconstitutional on the same grounds—some of it, at any rate. We have to have regard to that. I think that contrary to the contention Senator Ó Maoláin seems to be putting forward, we in this House must have regard to this. We are required by the Constitution not to pass legislation contrary to the Constitution. I admit this is an issue of doubt and argument in some respects but it is certainly a matter of conscience. An obligation is imposed on us. We are here acting under the Constitution and owing loyalty to it. We are required to apply our minds to the question of whether something is unconstitutional or not.

If I were on the other side of the House, on this issue, holding the views I do, I would have no alternative as a matter of conscience, to voting against this Bill. I am not suggesting this would necessarily apply to any person on the other side of the House. They make their own judgements on a different basis. They have been persuaded by arguments other than by mine. I am sure that in voting for the Bill—as most of them, perhaps all, will do—they will do so in good conscience. Nevertheless I hold that we are bound, because this is a matter of conscience. I am not taking the line I am taking because this is a Party issue. If it were simply a Party issue, I would put up the best showing I could, I suppose, and if no issue of conscience were involved, I would support the Party on it, but I am speaking from conviction. I would hold the same conviction if I were on the other side of the House. We are bound to act in conscience in this way. We must apply our minds to the question of whether the Bill is unconstitutional, and vote accordingly.

I want to deal with this carefully and calmly, and I hope, fairly. There is another reason for the feelings I would have about such a Bill in any circumstances — and even before the case of Farrell v. O'Gorman. We need to be very careful about this Bill and this section of the Bill which we are now proposing to amend, because there is an issue of controversy here. I think this does change the situation somewhat. I do not defend the act of any Government in introducing legislation which I would regard as unconstitutional or objectionable. I am not defending the action of any past Government in introducing legislation, if it can be shown to be similar to this legislation, and which is objectionable.

I believe that if that were done— and it seems to me to have been done in one case at least in 1955—that was a wrong action by the Government. Nevertheless this much can be said in relation to it, and I think it is fair to say it. Those Bills were introduced so far as I am aware — and certainly nothing to the contrary has ever been said from the other side—in circumstances where there was not an issue of controversy, where no question was raised by anyone—I am open to correction on this; I may be wrong but nothing to the contrary has been said so far and therefore I am assuming this until I hear to the contrary—and no issue was raised that those Bills were introduced in any way in circumstances where they could be represented as being designed as punitive measures of any kind.

I recognise that there is a difference of opinion as to whether this legislation is motivated by past and present controversy. I can quite see that people on the other side of the House might feel the Bill has merits of its own, and that, whatever one may argue about the timing of it, it cannot be seen solely in the context of controversy but stands on its own feet. Nevertheless it is a fact that it is being introduced at a time when the Minister, despite, if I may say so, his somewhat naive assurances, is in conflict with an important section of the farming community.

The Bill is certainly seen by many people as being one intended as being punitive. This may be unfair to the Minister; it may be unfair to the Government; but seen in that light it seems to me that we have to regard a Bill somewhat differently from a Bill introduced in a non-controversial situation. It is most undesirable that any Minister should take and receive powers which appear, in any event, to be unconstitutional, which at any time appear to be objectionable, but that he should take and receive these powers at this time, in these circumstances is worse because, indeed, it threatens to bring into discredit the legitimate exercise of the Minister's powers. It would have been better for the Government and for the country if the Bill had been postponed and not pressed at this time, so that it could be represented and could be seen sincerely by many people as being a punitive measures. It may be that people outside the House may not accept that this is the case but the Bill has not benefited from this and certainly the debates in the other House, and indeed to some extent in this House—and we must all take some blame for this— have not been as detached and unemotional as they could have been because of the circumstances in which the Bill was introduced. We have to have some regard for those circumstances.

The whole question of ministerial powers is one which one looks at somewhat differently from the way one might look at it in other circumstances when those powers are sought in conditions of controversy. Having said that, I do not propose to press it very far, because I do not want it to be suggested that I am defending other legislation of a similar character merely because it was introduced at a time when there was no issue of controversy. I would not wish to defend it in those circumstances.

We have to take this amendment very seriously, because what is proposed in the section of the Bill we are seeking to amend is something which would at any time be objectionable, and which when it was done in the past was objectionable at that time, and should not have been done, and which is not only objectionable now but is, I think, on any reasonable reading of Farrell v. O'Gorman, unconstitutional. It is also objectionable because of the circumstances in which the Bill is being introduced and the doubts that have been raised as a result of the timing and method of its introduction and the nature of the powers being taken, the doubts raised as to the intention of the Minister in bringing in this Bill.

Senator Stanford asked if auctioneers and other people are licensed by the courts why, in fact, in this instance auction marts cannot be so licensed. I should like to take that a little further. What is puzzling me is this. We have an Auctioneers Bill recently passed, which governs these auction marts. I want to be clear on this: it is my understanding that a recent decision of, I think, the High Court decided this issue and, in fact, the Auctioneers Act applies to auction marts. They are already under control. It may well be, and I should like to hear the Minister on this, that the powers taken in the Auctioneers Bill, while sufficient for the business of normal auctioneering, are for some reason inadequate in this particular instance. If that is the case, then it would be quite proper for the Minister to come into the House and seek an amendment of the earlier Act to perfect it in its application to auction marts. That would be a reasonable procedure; it may well be a desirable procedure in the light of some events which have perturbed the Minister in recent months. Had the Minister done that, although there might have been people who would have disagreed in some measure with the Minister taking such action, he could, I think, have defended it very readily and no kind of major attack could have been mounted against him.

It is a matter of some puzzlement that instead of adopting that straightforward procedure to extend the application of the earlier Act to auction marts to whatever extent the Minister might think necessary, the Minister introduces a completely new Bill in which he takes to himself this power previously given to the courts in relation to auctions. Nothing that has been said justifies that procedure. The Minister has said a good deal to justify some additional action in relation to auction marts, though he has not made it clear precisely what the defects are in the Auctioneers Act which make the present legislation necessary. I should like him to tell us now something of the Auctioneers Act in its application to auction marts and explain why, though it gave the responsible Minister and the Government all the powers necessary to deal with auctions, it is inadequate in dealing with auction marts, either because of some oversight, on the one hand, or because of events that happened subsequently, and it is, therefore, necessary to strengthen it in some way.

The Minister has ignored the Auctioneers Act entirely, and, I think, wrongly. He has not told us precisely what the defects are that make this Bill necessary. However that may be, the correct procedure would have been to amend the Act and give whatever extra powers are necessary to the courts to deal with any particular problem. The onus is on the Minister to explain why he has adopted the extraordinary procedure of not amending that recently passed Act and of introducing completely fresh legislation giving him a different kind of power.

I admit there are precedents for the Minister talking this power, precedents even in relation to the earning of a livelihood by people, because the case has been made by Senator Yeats and others that such powers already exist in previous legislation. To my way of thinking, the normal step would have been to amend the Auctioneers Act to give additional powers rather than harking back to earlier dictates which, by implication, have been impugned by the decision in Farrell and O'Gorman. I should like the Minister to tell us why he has not adopted the normal procedure.

Senator Cole raised the question of barristers-at-law of ten years standing and some objection made to their employment in this connection. I think he may have misunderstood slightly the objection made. As I read the Bill —I am open to correction if I have not read it properly—this power is to investigate and make a reports to the Minister. The barrister is not an arbitrator. He does not seem to have any power to decide anything and there is no provision that his report must be published. The fact that the Minister must appoint someone, to produce a report which he must receive —I do not think he is even liable to read it—does not seem to me to offer any safeguard to anybody. The Minister will not be bound by the report. In my opinion, that is not a from of appeal.

On the question of ten years standing, it is a mistake in a matter which can be a matter of political controversy and in which the Minister may be called upon to justify his position, to leave such a matter to a barrister of ten years standing. The Minister will be under pressure. He will make his decision. It will be disputed and he will then appoint someone to investigate and report privately to him. If this is confined to a practising barrister of ten years standing, in all circumstances the temptation will be there to appoint someone likely to produce a favourable report. Now I am not prepared to say there are such people, but it is wrong to put the Minister in a position in which he might feel such a person could be found. Promotion in the law is a matter of patronage. It is a matter of decision by the Government and it is wrong to put any Minister in a position in which he might find a person looking for some judicial appointment who, in turn, with that appointment in view, might be tempted to give a decision favourable to the Minister in order to take the Minister out of his difficulty. It is not proper to put a Minister in that position.

The Senator is not talking about the amendment.

I am talking about the amendment. I am certainly talking about that which Senator Cole talked about.

The Senator is talking on a different section altogether.

I am talking about a proposal with regard to a certain procedure proposed in the Bill and pointing out that one of the reasons why the judicial process is to be desired is that the procedure in the Bill is objectionable since it does not permit of any proper method of appeal other than to the Minister. If I am out of order, I am sure the Cathaoirleach would have told me so before this, and would have told Senator Cole likewise.

These are the main points I want to make, but I should like to deal with one matter raised by Senator Ryan. He said this was simply Fine Gael-NFA agitation. It is a pity he said that. Much of what he said I accept as sincere and some I accept without qualification but I think that, influenced by his political affiliation, he overstated the position. Any objective person examining this could see immediately that it is in no way limited to Fine Gael and the NFA. One has only to list the organisations involved. First of all, the Labour Party are seeking to amend this because they too find it objectionable. The Labour Party are not under the control of either Fine Gael or the NFA. There is also an amendment tabled by four Independents and we have heard them tell us that the reason they put down this amendment is that they find this entirely objectionable. They are not under the control of either Fine Gael or the NFA. However, the really objectionable feature of Senator Ryan's speech—on reflection, he may wish to withdraw it—was the fact that he impugned the honesty and integrity of the Incorporated Law Society. He said their decision was due to political influence. That was an unfortunate reference. He was provoked to it by interruption and he may now wish to withdraw it. It is obvious nonsense because the Incorporated Law Society does not give decisions under political influence. It is representative of all political allegiances. The members of it act as lawyers and, as lawyers, this is objectionable to them. It is not a question of a successful attempt by a particular group to get control of the Society. We have then the Association of Civil Liberty. It is not under the influence of Fine Gael. Many of the people in it are hostile to Fine Gael.

The Senator would not accuse them of being supporters of Fianna Fáil?

Or of Fine Gael either.

These things have been mentioned very often in the debate.

I am merely replying to points made in order to refute them.

No speaker is entitled to disobey Standing Orders.

Each speaker is entitled to make his own speech.

Senator Rooney will understand that no Senator can disobey the Standing Orders. Senator FitzGerald, to continue, and avoid this continuous repetition.

In regard to repetition, I am not aware that the things I have been saying about the Incorporated Law Society and the Association of Civil Liberty have been said previously. They may have been said in my absence from the House. We have also had the views of the Press and agricultural bodies and I do not think it can be reasonably suggested that this is all Fine Gael and NFA agitation. It is a pity that that should be said from the other side of the House. It is a pity there is not recognition on the other side of the House that there is a genuine issue here, an issue of principle, to which there are two sides. It is not simply a political issue. There is a political element in it which keeps intruding into the debate and which we all try to keep out of it, none of us entirely successfully, but there is a genuine issue of principle here, one which should concern us all as Members of this House. I think we should endeavour to approach it as far as possible in a reasonable, detached way, as I have endeavoured to do in this contribution at any rate. I hope that in the light of what has been said the Minister will reconsider the position.

Where matters have been brought to the courts as to their constitutionality, I think it is correct to say that in the majority of cases the courts have found that they were unconstitutional. In many cases one can say this about a Bill, that the chances of its being tested are not very great. I would think that in this instance the Bill may well be tested in the courts because there are interests involved in this who have the resources to attempt such a testing. The Minister may well find that to press ahead with a Bill, despite the warnings given to him sincerely and in good faith, in some instances at least, which is very likely to be found unconstitutional is not going to help him politically or in any other way, and I think his political stature would be increased considerably if at this stage, having listened to a debate in the Seanad which I think so far has been a more helpful debate than was possible in the more charged atmosphere of the Dáil he reconsidered his position.

I appeal to him to reconsider the matter and I think his political stature would be enhanced. Quite why I should want it to be enhanced is another question and I am not sure I should be pressing him on the issue. From a political point of view, I think the best thing is that the Bill goes through and the Minister takes any medicine that comes subsequently. However, one cannot always simply take the narrow, political point of view and from the country's point of view, and the Minister's and his Party's point of view, it would be better if they had second thoughts at this stage. I suppose they will not. I suppose any appeal of that kind will fall on deaf ears but I hope the Minister will have the commonsense —a word used on several occasions on this Bill—to reconsider his position on this part of the Bill.

I have said, and I am clear that it is the view not only of myself but of others on this side of the House, that a case can be made for some kind of Bill to regulate livestock marts. The timing of it, the content of it, the way it is presented one could argue about, but some kind of Bill certainly can be said to be needed. It is not this Bill in its present form. I think the Bill could be amended. If some of the amendments, including this amendment and others that have been put forward, are taken seriously, it could be amended into a form which would be reasonable, but in its present form and in the form in which it is likely to leave this House, it is unsatisfactory and the Minister is not going to benefit from pushing it through. I appeal to him at this stage to reconsider his position on this particular part of the Bill.

(Longford): Since I have not spoken on this measure before, I, at any rate, can hardly fall foul of the Chair on the question of repetition——

No, but you have been interrupting.

(Longford):——except that I may have been gently interjecting in the debate previously.

May I say, Sir, that it seems to me, if I might quote somebody opposite, that what is under discussion now is an internal question of power versus responsibility. That seems to be the kernel of this matter. It is not a new matter; it has been discussed long and often in this House. Since I have views on this question, I feel I should express them. It appears that what we now seem to want to emerge in this debate is to have an area of responsibility without power. Senator Stanford quite rightly and quite ably dealt with the situation where you have a dissemination of power of a diffusion of power, where it is scattered between, say, three main Parties, the Legislature, the courts and the executive, the three sources of power. To me it has always seemed that in a democracy power is scattered much more widely. You may have, say, in the county council foreman, power to do certain things, power vested in him which cannot be taken from him. That is the sort of scatteration and dissemination of power that really makes democracy work but in the long run power must be held by a Government sufficient to discharge their responsibility. Despite the fact that I believe basically in democracy, I should not like to see a situation whereby a Minister or an executive had responsibility without the power to discharge it. It is the opposite side of the coin in this particular case. It is easy enough to suggest the abuse of power but the greatest abuse of power is a situation where Caesar has not the power at all. Then you have chaos.

Caesar had it.

Hitler had the power. What did he do with it?

(Longford): It has always appeared to me that extreme liberty is one concept and extreme authority another. Extreme liberty is chaos and extreme authority is tyranny, and somewhere in between those two opposing forces you have a point of balance.

I thought we were on the amendment.

(Longford): Somewhere in between you have a thing called order or reasonably ordered conditions.

You will embarrass that side of the House.

(Longford): It is not a very steady point of balance; it is something that shifts this way and that, depending on the point in time but it is by a balance between those two forces that you have any reasonable order in society.

Having said that in reply to Senator Stanford, because he did raise this very important matter, I think it is necessary that a Government, elected to power by a Parliament in a democracy, should have enough power, and no more power than is necessary, to do a particular job of work at a particular time. That is why, when a Minister wants money, he comes to Parliament and asks for and gets only as much money, particularly an the case of capital expenditure, as is necessary at the time. If with the passage of time, more money is required for development, he asks for it again.

Money is much different from power.

(Longford): That is the sort of curbing of power that Parliament exercises on an executive. I still believe that this thing that we call liberty in its real sense is just a point of balance, an uneasy point of balance between extreme liberty on the one side and extreme authority on the other. Now relating that to this Bill, this question of power, I know a lot of people have spoken, and have probably repeated themselves, on many aspects of this Bill. To me there is a valid and good criticism which could be made objectively by the Opposition but which tragically has not been done. One of the questions in regard to this matter of licensing, which we are talking about now, is that the timing was wrong. I wholeheartedly agree with the people who say that the time was wrong——

Hear, hear.

(Longford):—— but I do so from quite a different point of view.

It is good to get some agreement from you.

(Longford): The timing is wrong to the extent of five to ten years. I do not mind criticising the Minister and I think he ought to try to reply to me when I ask him why have certain sections of the Department to take ten years to make up their mind that something should be done about licensing and the control of this new and vested interest——

The present Minister was not there ten years ago.

(Longford):——particularly in view of the fact that similar power was sought immediately the artificial insemination centres began to emerge in this country. I do not think three stations were fully established before the Minister was asked to do something. It was promoted by the Veterinary Section of the Department of Agriculture. I am long enough in this House to know that you can have many mansions in my father's house, that you can have many sections in a Department, and I know further that you can have varied conditions within certain sections.

Now you have it within the Fianna Fáil Party.

(Longford): Never mind the Fianna Fáil Party. They are well able to look after themselves.

We know it and Taca know it.

You will get enough of Taca before it is finished with you.

(Longford): As I said, something should be said about this and it should preferably be said by a constructive Opposition. The artificial insemination scheme had barely got under way, even though many officers in certain sections of the Department of Agriculture were opposed to it, when a Minister was asked to take more power in regard to the scheme. I know very well about this because I was an advocate of that particular system when I was rather younger than I am now. I did not get the Seanad election because I was for this.

For livestock. Would that be relevant to the records?

(Longford): I am sorry Senator Garret FitzGerald cannot have a little more manners.

I think there is a misunderstanding because I have not interrupted at all. I have been listening intently and with interest to the Senator, which is more that can be said of other Members of the House.

(Longford): It is a pity I am getting under the skin of certain people. They are wriggling about so much that it is hard to know who is talking. I remember when the Bill to control artificial insemination was brought in here, the same sort of power was sought and given by this House and Dáil Éireann as is now sought under this measure. If I remember aright the only complaint, and possibly a legitimate complaint, from the Opposition was that the Minister was not taking more power to do something about this and was not taking power to provide a service. The Minister replied: “I am taking only enough power to keep a control in the event of this medium of cattle breeding developing. I am taking only the power which is necessary in the public interest to keep control of it.” That basically was the Minister's attitude. At this stage he was pressed by the Opposition to aid and foster the development of artificial insemination. He resisted that but the power taken under that Bill, which is now an Act, is similar to the power sought under this Bill. There was no appeal at that time to barristers of any number of years standing. I dislike this because it farms out from the Minister power which should be vested in him. I do not think, despite anything the Minister may say, that he would improve the Bill by accepting that amendment. That is his business, it is not mine.

It is all our business.

(Longford): I still feel the timing is wrong in that it is five to ten years late. If the Department of Agriculture had been more alive to the situation, this vested interest would not have grown up without any control in the public interest. However, even now I am glad that something is being done to give enough control to ensure that this matter is made right and that a service will be given to the people.

We are conscious of the fact that cattle marts will replace fairs and that people are entitled to the same rights, privileges and safeguards, if and when fairs completely die out. They are entitled to that. All the people are entitled to it. I should like the Minister to give the House an indication of what sort of conditions he will attach granting licences to existing marts or any new marts that may develop.

We are all interested in that.

(Longford): I know very stringent conditions are attached to licences issued to co-operative creameries. As far as I know, there has not been any objection by the co-operative societies, the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society or any other society in regard to the very exact conditions that are laid down. Even in the Dairy Produce Act very stringent conditions are laid down in regard to the control of creameries. Some of us know that every creamery has to get a separate licence and in the granting of that licence, conditions are laid down by regulations which compel the creameries to do certain things. Those conditions are very exacting, regarding the taking of samples of milk, the testing of milk for butter fat valuation, drip tests and many other tests in relation to the amount of butter-fat in the milk and the number of pounds of butter produced. All those records must be very accurate. I know there are cases where creameries have been fined heavily by the Department for a breach of those regulations. Even the creameries themselves did not seek to kick up a row or create agitation in regard to those conditions. The farming community believe in these things.

Quite often there is criticism and even in this House yesterday, I noticed that desire to criticise. There are still people who for one reason or another think that the regulations are not strictly enough enforced. They will tell you that the Department's inspectors do not visit creameries often enough. There may be criticism on that line but I, living in a rural area, know the attitude of the people and I do not want to be told by certain people that they know all the answers to the opinions of the farming community.

In the area of the country from which I come I know quite well that the majority of the farmers feel that there is necessity for this Bill and a necessity for regulation and for licensing. That is true and I can give the reason. Senators should not be too glib.

I want to inquire from the Minister whether in the granting of a licence, he will ensure that the people who will operate cattle marts will be compelled to enter into some sort of fidelity bond, or guarantee bond, or to lodge a large sum in a bank or with a credit group, to ensure that the people who trust them with their business will, in fact, be paid. That is the fundamental question with regard to a licence. I want to know from the Minister that there will be such cover.

There is a deposit by auctioneers in the High Court.

(Longford): I will try to make my own speech without help from the Senator. I come from an area where there are a large number of farmers. Some of them are small farmers who are not as well in touch with matters as Senator O'Quigley. I also know of small farmers having got a cheque, or little document, from a particular mart. I have been interviewed by one of those people and have been informed that the farmers are hoping that this Bill will get them out of difficulty. Perhaps £100 or £120 may not be a lot to some people but it is a lot of money to a small farmer in the parish of Mullaghoran.

It is a fortune to me at any rate.

(Longford): I happen to have in my possession such a little document, a cheque, drawn at a particular cattle mart by a small farmer called Dolan—no relation to Senator Dolan here—in the parish of Mullaghoran. He was paid with this cheque for a few cattle he sent to a cattle mart in the north midlands and I would be prepared to sell this cheque at a discount to any Member of this House. I offer it to Senator O'Quigley or to any of the economists or calculators over there if they are prepared to take it. If my friends do not give me the full amount, I will put up the rest myself. Still, they tell us there is no need for control but they know in their hearts there is such a need. The majority of the people know there is need for control because there have been abuses which could have been prevented if a Bill of this nature had been brought in in the past five or six years.

There is nothing about deposits in this Bill.

(Longford): I should like to hear from the Minister what the attitude is with regard to a guarantee. I am putting the Minister a straightforward question and I hope to get an answer without any beating around the bush. If the Minister does not reply to my query, I shall remind him of it.

There is another important aspect here with regard to farming out the Minister's power to a barrister of four or five years standing. I do not think the Bill would be improved by such a provision. If you want to give responsibility to a Minister, you must give him power as well. Parliament has a way of dealing with this, or any, Minister who misuses or abuses power. That is the way it should be and I do not think that this thing of farming out to a barrister——

Of ten years standing.

(Longford):——of ten years standing will improve the Bill. It is very easy to criticise a barrister and say that he is not nice. How is it that so many of them become gentlemen when they become judges? They become fine people when they are promoted to the Bench.

They are always gentlemen.

(Longford): There is another aspect of this which rather annoys me, the question of equity for the people who sell cattle. I wonder is there a danger of misuse of power. Power is something that can be misused at many levels of society and not just at ministerial level. People and organisations, in my view, are more likely to misuse power than an executive authority, whether they be the GAA or any other group. Mind you, there can be a lack of freedom in the area of amateur games. Supposing the hypothetical situation were to develop that as soon as this terrible Minister gets power to grant new licences, he were to grant a licence to a friendly society, to FF people, say, in Donegal, to support a cattle mart in Lifford or Letterkenny, or somewhere else, and supposing a certain body were to resolve the difficulties in the friendly society and the Minister gave a licence to this group and they were a group of people who were politically-minded and mind you, I think the people in Donegal take their politics seriously— and let us suppose that unless that group to whom the Minister gave this licence had a green card from a certain place in Mount Street, say, their cattle would not be sold until a particular time, I would agree that would be an abuse of power on the part of the Minister. Most people on this side of the House would agree that if the Minister did this sort of thing in Lifford, or Carndonagh or Ballybofey, there would not be support forthcoming from this side of the House.

I want to ask the Minister what power is he taking, or what regulation does he propose to make, to ensure that the sort of thing I have instanced might happen in Donegal will not happen. This is a very important matter. Intimidation is intimidation, no matter in what garment you dress it. You cannot have full freedom if that sort of thing be allowed to happen. The Minister has a function and a duty in this matter and it is a function and a duty he cannot farm out to a barrister of five or ten years standing, because it is a function he owes to the people.

There are other similar matters on which I should like to hear the Minister giving his views to this House because all the talk so far has not really been material to this Bill or to the people. The Minister has a duty to indicate flatly his intentions to this House and to me, particularly on the two points I have raised and on the other matters in regard to which he proposes to make regulations, to give a general indication of the conditions he proposes to impose in the granting of a licence, so that the genuine fears people have will be allayed. For the reasons I have indicated, many people now have the feeling: "Maybe it is a pity we ever left the fairs; maybe it is a pity our fairs have gone down."

It was the buyers who were worried about the fairs, not the unfortunate people who were selling.

(Longford): I am afraid I raised a very wide issue, that of power, control and responsibility involved in this amendment. I felt, particularly as I did not speak on the Second Stage, that I was entitled to say many of the things I had intended to say then, without, I hope, violating the rules of order in making a Second Reading speech.

The Senator is no more diffuse than many others.

(Longford): I hope I have been as near the mark in relation to what is involved in this Bill as possible. I hope the Minister will see fit to answer my queries as to the sort of regulations he proposes to make.

Finishing on the note on which I began, I do not think there is any danger of an abuse of power, any more than I think there has been any abuse of power under the Act which controls artificial insemination, or the Act which controls the operation of our co-operative creameries. I know there has never been a suggestion from the creameries, from either individual co-operative societies or the IAOS—that there has been an abuse of power. I do not envisage, I do not at all fear an abuse of power on the part of this terrible Minister, or any other Minister, because any Minister coming into Parliament asks for power to guard against every contingency, as is only reasonable. That was proved even by the advocates of human liberty such as Senator Stanford, who on the one occasion on which he had the responsibility and the right, piloted through this House the Protection of Animals Bill and, once the responsibility fell on his shoulders, immediately developed the same mentality in regard to having that Bill as strong as possible. That is inevitably what happens. I am not criticising Senator Stanford, because that is the way things happen; I would do the same myself in similar circumstances.

It is true the Minister wants to have the power to guard against every contingency but when people criticise, it is usually not because of any abuse of power but because of the failure of the Executive to put the power properly into force. That is a fairly accurate picture of the situation. Most of the criticism we come up against is criticism of the failure, for instance, of the Department to inspect creameries often. That is the criticism I am quite certain is most common, but I do not fear an abuse of power, even if this hypothetical situation I envisaged in Donegal were to arise. Once that sort of thing happens, that abuse of power is very easily challenged and falls to the ground very quickly.

My real criticism of the Bill is that it comes far too late, because hardship could have been prevented in certain areas had it been introduced some years earlier. The Bill is not improved, as far as I can see, by the appointment of some person to a quasi-judicial position, a barrister of so many years standing. Where responsibility is vested in a Minister, power should be given to the Minister, and once a Government begin to farm out power, it is the beginning of the end of democracy.

Following on Senator Stanford's very able contribution this morning, I think we have to get back to fundamentals in assessing these amendments. The most disturbing fact of all is, I think, the chorus we get: "Ah, sure, a Minister has never abused power here; we can see what he could have done under all the Acts passed, but our Ministers are good Christians and would never do such a thing," and so on. That is a most naive approach to legislation unworthy of any developed country because, after all, a good dictatorship is surely the most efficient form of government, provided the dictator is an angel, and is like the Minister who is acquitted—all the various Ministers who have been acquitted—of abusing power. We have got to draft legislation in a democratic country in such a way that it is independent of the personality of the Minister, in such a way that a Minister cannot abuse power, in such a way that power is diffused as much as possible throughout the various elements of the community and that the responsibility is placed as nearly as possible to the source of the action.

In the present case, we have had the question of whether the ultimate responsibility should lie with the Minister or with the courts. The examples given, such as the Dairy Produce Act, the Pigs and Bacon Act and all the various other Acts all relate to a quality product and a continued check has to be kept by the makers of that product on the various steps and tests necessary to ensure quality. Those tests have to be reported to a central authority and that authority has to be empowered to act quickly for the common good, to protect the name of the product. That is done here by various Acts through the Minister, through having within the Department of Agriculture a section specifically charged with that task.

That is not the only way or the best way of doing it. In Denmark, we find that such quality control is not the responsibility of the Government but of the co-operative movement itself, and it is sad to reflect that we, who gave such a wonderful lead to the world in pioneering the co-operative movement, through such people as Plunkett and Father Finlay, are lagging away behind Denmark and others in the full realisation of the principles of co-operation. All that in Denmark is done by the co-operative movement.

Of course it is, at every stage.

I have seen it in Holland and the Government control it.

Here, in our rather unprincipled approach to legislation, we are always looking for precedents and distorting them to get more and more power to the Executive and away from the courts and the various other bodies concerned. The amendment seeks to keep this power with the courts. The licensing of marts and so on is an operation that does not require any continuous check-up. A mart is licensed, and in the absence of complaints, everything proceeds all right, much the same as in the case of dance-halls or the conduct of auctioneers. There the quality of the end product is not specifically influenced by the actual operation of the system. I agree with Senator O'Reilly that, if legislation were necessary, some measure of licensing would have been useful five or ten years ago when there was a great deal of mushroom growth and a great many marts being established in areas where they were too close to existing marts. At that stage no step was taken to heed the pleas of the co-operative movement who wanted to have a rationalisation of the marts system and to have certain rules drawn up for the establishment of marts.

It was not done then, but now, when everything is going right, we have this Bill and it is rather amusing to anyone who has had experience of fairs—I can claim quite a bit of experience of them as a young man in Limerick—to see the crocodile tears being shed for the rights, the privileges and the safeguards that operated at fairs. Did anyone ever hear of the tanglers and the system by which cattle were taken from the widow at away below market value? On one occasion when I was 16 years of age, I was entrusted with the care of an animal and I was beset by a tangler and the animal was taken away forcibly from me by the tangler at away below its value. That was common practice, but with the marts system as operated the animals go for fair sale and the widow and the inexperienced person have just as good a chance of selling their animals as the most experienced marketing assessor. It is really laughable to hear the sudden concern for those wonderful institutions called fairs and no doubt, the wonderfully hygienic residue left after those fairs. Is it the intention to set them up as a tourist attraction in our parks and to supply wellingon boots——

Who said they were wonderful?

Senator O'Reilly extolled the rights, privileges and the safeguards——

How is this relevant to the amendment?

It is a little more relevant than the last speaker was.

We will have to keep interrupting.

The Bill leaves almost everything to regulations to be made by the Minister, including the conditions attached to licences and so on. Therefore, we are within our rights in insisting that the adjudication on these matters should be made in open court.

I was surprised to hear Senator Cole's contribution. He said he thought we were casting aspersions on barristers of ten years standing. We were not. We were only pointing out the absurdity of a system whereby the Minister will make a decision which very often will have been the subject of intense political representation. If he decides a mart is to be established in a certain area, he will have intense representation from the area in which the mart is to be established. There will be an appeal by a mart in a neighbouring area that the new mart will be too close to its territory and there will be some local residents who will say that the site selected for the new mart will affect their property adversely.

In such a situation the Minister will call in a barrister to hear the appeal. The barrister will make no report except to the Minister and the Minister will make his final decision, having got the report of the barrister, but is not bound to accept that report. Surely that is eyewash on a grand scale, something that should not be tolerated as legislation, especially when we have the courts able and capable of doing this work?

This idea of an appeal is something we should watch carefully because we have had some of the most grotesque examples. During the past one and a half years, we had the grotesque situation in which the Limerick City Vocational Education Committee were investigated by an inquiry presided over by the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Education, a Department involved in the matter just as much as the local committee being investigated. Not alone must justice be done but it must be seen to be done and that in all cases should be our standpoint here.

Is there any use at this stage in asking the Minister or some of the Senators opposite to pause and see the clear-cut distinction between the various products in the dairy business, the pigs and bacon industry and so on and this Bill which is introduced for the licensing of marts? Surely the Members cannot be serious when they say they fail to see a distinction between the work of the mart as compared with the work of ensuring a quality product coming from a creamery?

We see the distinction very clearly.

Tell us what the amendment means.

The amendment is perfectly obvious.

Will the Senator tell the House how they will implement subsections (2), (3) and (4)?

I shall make my case without any help from Senator Ó Donnabháin. It is doubly necessary that the final decision should rest with the courts, due to the loose way in which the Bill is drafted and the enormous powers given to the Minister to make regulations. We are given little or no idea of what is behind these regulations. Take just one regulation under section 6 (e)—"prescribe requirements as to the size, design, maintenance, repair, cleansing, cleanliness, ventilation, heating and lighting of any building in which such auctions are held".

Will the Senator now discuss his amendment— amendment No. 7—and tell the House how it could be implemented?

The amendment is concerned with the application of these regulations, among a myriad of others.

Speak on that, then.

"Prescribe": in other words, the totalitarian attitude is adopted. The Minister does not like to follow the example of the parliament in Northern Ireland in this instance, though why I do not know. He does not like to look at their legislation. However, we can look at their legislation which, in this matter, is precisely the legislation that prevails in Great Britain. For the edification of our Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, we can compare what has been done by the British Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Peart, with whom he has been having so many conversations recently and we can note his approach to this job.

Our Minister uses the word "prescribe"—a totalitarian attitude. The British Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Peart, in the Schedule to the Agriculture Act, 1966, dealing with marts, and so on, speaks in section 9 as follows: "The function of this Commission"—the Meat and Livestock Commission—"is to give advice and information to those owning or conducting or using livestock marts on the efficient lay-out, design and operation of such marts including in particular efficient methods of handling and penning livestock and generally on matters conducive to efficiency.""To give advice": in other words, the democratic approach, the co-operative approach, the approach that takes it that those people are in business; the approach that those operating the marts, whether they are co-operative or private, must, within the limits of their resources, study all available systems and try to get the best design possible for their situation. The Meat and Livestock Commission, which consists of members—independent members— nominated by the Government, who constitute an independent commission, just advise.

Why, then, are we so different from the British farmers, not to mention the farmers in the Six Counties, or Northern Ireland, for whom I have the greatest respect? Why are we so different that we must be browbeaten and subject to totalitarian action? Everything must be prescribed. In fact, the impossible must be prescribed because, once a mart is up—and most of our marts are up—how, then, can these conditions be attached? In any case, where is the section within the Department of Agriculture or elsewhere that knows anything about the requirements that are governed by the regulations here?

They will make them up as they go along.

The district justice will.

About ten years ago, I had the honour of helping the Golden Vale Co-operative Marts in Kilmallock with the design, as honorary engineer to the project. We got excellent help from the engineering group of the IAOS. They found out as much as they could. However, there was no section in the Office of Public Works or in the Department of Agriculture or elsewhere that knew anything about the conditions in those marts.

They did not need it when you were around.

Will an organisation be set up even to carry out the provisions of that one subsection of section 6? If you take the responsibility of prescribing all of those things, surely you must prescribe for a background of expert knowledge on the subject of what is latest and best in this connection. Surely you should do so. Surely the co-operative movement and the independent mart-owners of this country, whether present or future, should be credited at least with the desire to look after their own capital and that—and it is their responsibility alone—they would go to see what is done elsewhere, both here and abroad, and endeavour to get the best value possible for money in the design of their marts. Indeed, it seems rather amazing that all such little details should be the subject of ministerial prescription by regulation.

Or the district justices, according to your amendment.

Not at all.

The deletion of many of these sections and the question whether a mart will or will not get a licence is surely the responsibility of the open court.

The Senator should speak on his own amendment.

We have amendments down to exclude——

It is fortunate that Senator Ó Donnabháin is not Cathaoirleach and that we have a Cathaoirleach——

There are only two minutes to go.

The British Commission gives advice and information to assist buyers and sellers of livestock and meat to make bargains in the new business——

Senator Quinlan told us that last night.

I did, but it does not seem to have been grasped.

On a point of order, there seems to be some sort of plot to prevent discussion of the Labour Party amendments. Are we to continue like this for the next few days, or is Senator Quinlan making his own filibuster?

Acting Chairman

I am not sure that it is a point of order; it may be a point of fact.

Business suspended at 1 p.m. and resumed at 2.15 p.m.

I want to ask the Minister for specific examples of small countries of western Europe of control legislation on livestock marts and of the powers taken by any Minister for Agriculture in those places that remotely resemble what he is looking for here. To the best of my knowledge, and despite my efforts to get such information, there is none. I find that the organised farmers in those areas would not stand for such Government interference in their business. The co-operative movement which is so highly developed in those countries would not stand for it and, indeed, the Governments in those areas are wise enough to realise that they have certain things to do and that the more they can get the people to do for themselves the better they are governing them. Therefore they give as much responsibility to the co-operatives as possible. Here we go in the reverse direction and the Minister must do everything, even to the extent in section 6 of prescribing all sorts of facilities, prescribing requirements for washing facilities, sanitary conveniences,et cetera.

It is unbelievable that the people are to be allowed to do nothing under this Bill. It is the very antithesis of co-operation at a time when we have had studies carried out in regard to the co-operative movement and when we realise it is necessary to look at the co-operative movement and gear it for the time ahead. Is the Minister seriously considering our entry into the EEC? If he is preparing for it, has he sections in his Department actively studying what is considered good agricultural practice by the ministries of the various European members of the Six? Does he believe in the liaison with all the subsidiary organisations, co-operative movements, farming organisations and so on? Is he giving serious study to what is considered right and proper in the Six and at what we should aim if we are to meet the challenge of the Common Market? I should like very definite and positive assurances on that.

I can detect no evidence whatsoever that we are prepared to learn from any other region. I note the Minister's reluctance to learn from Northern Ireland. As I pointed out, you have exactly the same agricultural legislation and agricultural pattern in Northern Ireland as you have in Great Britain. Therefore, let us look at Great Britain. Let us look at the success they have had in expanding their agricultural production while we drift along at something the statisticians can scarcely measure. Now that our application for entry into the EEC has been re-activated, give us some confidence, some feeling that our major industry and its political head, the present Minister, is even at this late stage prepared to benefit from the example of other countries and prepared to try to lead a united team on the agricultural front in the Common Market negotiations.

Indeed, my respect for the Commission in Brussels, and for Dr. Mansholt in particular, would go down considerably if I felt they would not be seriously perturbed at the lack of preparation on the agricultural front here for the Common Market and the lack of leadership being shown by the Minister, and, indeed, by the whole organisation structure in these internal feuds which are no credit to the Minister or to any section of our community. Indeed, I think the Minister must carry the major share of blame for that. I would ask him, please, so that we may see this measure in some broader context than we have it at present——

I take it the Senator is discussing amendment No. 7. It has to do with the jurisdiction of district justices.

Perhaps the Senator would come to the amendment.

The amendment seeks to take the power of ultimate decision in this matter from the Minister, as political head, and to place it in the courts.

That is in order.

I want to know is this direction of taking away of power and the consolidation of all power in the Minister's hands, is this part of our preparation for entry into the Common Market? Can the Minister give specific instances of where this is taking place in Holland, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg or any other place on the Continent of Europe? I challenge the Minister to produce examples. I know he cannot. It is the very antithesis of what is regarded as good agricultural practice there. That is why I support this measure strongly and urge the Seanad to do so also as at least one step in trying to make some little bit of preparation for the Common Market, at least to undo the damage done by our failure to develop——

The Common Market is not the main issue here.

Listening to Senator Quinlan would not convince anybody that this amendment is either useful or necessary. Bringing in the Common Market and other matters may have some relevance in his mind, but they do not add up to a great deal. Neither does it make a very good argument. But an appeal is made here about leading a united team to Europe and it just reminds me of the disunity being created by, for instance, Fine Gael who have gone across themselves to Europe to discuss our entry into it——

And supported it.

——without any knowledge being given to the Government of the country whose job it is to negotiate our way in on behalf of the whole Irish people.

A knowledge of what?

Any knowledge of what you, Senator, and your colleagues had in the document you presented when you were in Brussels as a political Party.

Why should the Government have any such knowledge?

Because of the fact that your colleague in Fine Gael, Senator Quinlan, appeals for unity, for a united team.

Which we showed.

Here we have elements of what might be regarded as the united team going battering off on their own without telling anybody where they are going and what they are doing.

And supporting the Government.

How do we know?

Why should you know?

Why should we know?

Because it is the nation's business you are meddling in and meddling is what you have been doing.

We are perfectly entitled to communicate with the EEC Commission without telling the Government what we said.

Is that so? At the same time, the Government are fully entitled to communicate and to tell you what they said. Then we have complaints from your colleagues about a united team going to Europe. You cannot have it both ways.

There was unity; there was no dissenting voice in the Dáil.

The united team is all right so long as it is Fine Gael who are doing it. Let us have less of this claptrap about united teams from Fine Gael when they themselves do not wish to have unity, do not wish to let anybody know what they are doing abroad or what they are talking about, even though it is alleged it is on the nation's business——

Will you publish all the documents submitted?

——without the authority of the people behind them. Fine Gael have no authority to talk on behalf of the Irish people and, for that matter, neither have certain other people who have gone either in their individual capacity or in the capacity of representing other organisations. These things are going on. It is about time, now that they have been taken out, that they should be taken out and shaken around to see what they are about. Let us hear less of these appeals about unity and a team going to the EEC.

We will have to get a licence from the people to talk to people in foreign countries. That is the new concept of freedom.

If I were to say— presumably, being high in the order of rank in your Party, between yourself and your co-leader in the Front Bench, you would be able to say whether this is so or not—that one of the aspects presented by Fine Gael and trotted around in Brussels by them was that they were the great Europeans in the Fine Gael Party and, of course, Fianna Fáil were really a Sinn Féin group——

No such statement was made.

This may be only tittle-tattle. I am delighted to hear that something was not said since we cannot deduce from anything what was said. I am glad to know that that was not said because it has been talked about as if it had been said.

The only problem we had was in cross-examination by the Commission as to the position of the Minister for External Affairs, to explain how his position lined up with that of the Government.

If you looked after the position of your own Party, that is the most you have competence to do, and judging by the manner in which you have been dragging over the years, you have very little competence in that direction.

The Labour Party were out for 14 years in England and got in again. The outer wilderness does not mean anything.

We are told here by Senator Stanford that there was a public opinion against this Bill. I do not for a moment disagree. An opinion was engendered by certain people and it was got through to organs of calculation and propaganda in this country, our newspapers, radio and television and all the rest of it, and they were all given to understand a whole lot of things about this Bill which, when the Bill came to be discussed by those really interested, they discovered were not in the Bill at all.

And they have all said nothing in the press, have they?

Perhaps the Minister would be allowed to speak without interruption.

It is, as I say, conceded that there was a public opinion generated on false propaganda disseminated, wilfully or otherwise, by certain elements in our community who had the ear of the press and of our other media of communication. When the Bill emerged and came to be discussed, it was not what had been published as to what it contained that actually was in it. Indeed, this is part of the confusion Fine Gael are suffering from, that, having either sponsored or been delighted to believe that sponsored by others, as to the things that were objectionable that were said to be in the Bill and not in it, when it came to discussing it in the Dáil they were not able to pass the first section, were not able to get away from that, because of the confusion self-created or wished upon themselves. The fact that we get wrong interpretations circulated amongst the public in regard to any matter cannot be regarded as a fault of the Bill itself. It can be attributed to those who, whatever their purpose, spread this sort of propaganda. It could also be said that, as charged against the Government, our public relations should have been sufficiently good to have combatted that sort of false propaganda as to what the Bill contained, but it did not contain anything like the number of objectionable things that were first alleged to be contained in it. They were not in it and are not in it.

What does this Bill, in general, attempt to do? I wish to reiterate that it will secure and perpetuate the rights of the farming community freely to sell and/or buy livestock in marts which are superseding fairs, rights which they have enjoyed for a long time back. Nobody denies that this is the entitlement of our farmers. Fine Gael do not deny it; neither do any of the mart organisations deny it. Nobody denies anywhere I have heard people talking that this right for the future is of importance to our farmers.

We must look at this Bill not only as something that can give this right and ensure the continuance of this right but as something which will also in its operation, facilitate the growth of marts that are doing their business properly, and prevent marts being established and developing into badly run marts, which would not be in the interests of the farming community or the agricultural industry. This Bill, if passed, will facilitate growth in the right direction by helping to curb growth in the wrong direction in this business that is so important to all of us.

The financial standing of the mart operators is being provided for under this legislation. Surely this is another matter about which nobody can complain, a matter which most people, even those who oppose the Bill generally, will concede is one that requires attention. We cannot look forward to a situation developing where further marts may go into bankruptcy and where the farmers, big or small, will be the people who pay the piper because they have sold their cattle in one or two sales in that mart before its closure. We know this is not a dream of ours but a reality. This is something that has already happened and we do not want it repeated. We can prevent it and will prevent it under this measure. Nobody surely would welcome a situation in which marts which are insecurely based financially can go bankrupt without anybody having control over the situation or knowledge of it until it has happened? The regulatory sections of this Bill will ensure that such a situation will not arise.

The marts associations are aware that this is one of the matters that will be dealt with when this Bill is enacted. I do not think they object, and that is talking very conservatively as to what I believe they think in regard to this matter. Indeed, I would say that some of them to whom I have talked in their individual capacity have indicated that it is something that should be done, that it is necessary, that it is a good thing from all points of view that marts operating should be securely based by bond, insurance or otherwise, to ensure against loss by farmers who participate in sales or purchases, as the case may be.

We were asked then about the Auctioneers Act and the granting of licences to auctioneers. I was particularly asked about this by Senator Stanford. As far as I am aware, the Auctioneers Act licenses an individual to perform and carry on the business of an auctioneer. This Bill deals with the licensing of places, not individuals, and there is a very distinct difference between the two. There is a very telling difference, in that in one case it is a matter of giving a licence to or withholding a licence from a person, as has been trotted out here by Senator FitzGerald and Senator O'Quigley when they spoke about the control of solicitors and the power of the Supreme Court in regard to the striking off the roll of any member of the profession. Again this is a matter of taking away the means of earning a livelihood from a professional man. If a place is not regarded as suitable for a mart, no licence will issue, but it does not follow from that that there was any prescriptive right denied to the man or men or committee who may own the site that is proposed as a mart. That is a different matter altogether.

It is true to say that the wellbeing of the farming community and the agricultural industry is the responsibility of the Minister for Agriculture. Since this matter of marts, the organisation and the regulation of operations within the marts, are matters of growing importance, surely they must by their very nature be regarded as within the competence of the Minister for Agriculture who is charged with this responsibility of controlling and regulating matters in the best interest of the community whom the Minister is there to serve in a particular way. This again is the reason why we should consider this matter away from those other cases that have been quoted. Neither the case of striking of a solicitor off the rolls nor the granting of a licence to an auctioneer as a means whereby he can earn a livelihood is parallel with what is in this Bill, which relates to places that may be licensed for the purpose of carrying on the business of a mart.

Other countries have been mentioned. Surely we in this country should be regarded as the best judges, in our own circumstances, of what is best for us. This is what has been regarded as the proper approach to those things in the past, and I am not aware that anything has taken place to change that very sensible approach to this or any other kind of legislation affecting the wellbeing of our people. Therefore, we do not agree that if this is not paralleled in another country it must be wrong. Neither do we assert that because we do it and it is not done in another country, they are wrong.

Why must we be more totalitarian than the others?

If Senator Quinlan wants to be totalitarian, that is his business.

I am talking about the Minister.

Do not start mixing the two things up. If it is the Senator's wish that we go totalitarian, it is not mine.

It is not my wish, but we are going totalitarian.

Anyhow, getting back to this matter that the far-off hills look green, apparently Senator Quinlan has got to the stage of believing that anything that is outside this country is better than anything within it. Likewise, any legislation not operated in other countries cannot be good if it should operate here. If it operates here and does not operate elsewhere, it must be bad. I do not accept that reasoning at all and I do not think many would. If we look at this matter a little further we find what is done in other countries, for instance, in regard to agricultural matters is not so attractive. I wonder if Senator Quinlan is fully versed in what does take place regarding agriculture and the sale of agricultural products, their import and export in some of the countries whose example he would have us follow. Is he fully aware of the practices there, which we do not have here, and which I hope we never shall have here, in the very countries that he points out as shining examples for us to follow? Either the Senator was out long enough to know what I am talking about or he should not be out at all.

This is not a lecture either from the Senator or to me. I say there are practices regarding the sale and purchase, the import and export of agricultural produce in some of the countries the Senator would like us to have as examples that I should not like to see here as part of our everyday activities. I shall not give examples because if the Senator does not know what I am talking about, he has not been out long enough.

That is a most mysterious charge.

It is not mysterious; it is a statement of fact that the Senator must or should be aware of. I accept that he is aware of it.

The Senator is innocent.

Could the Minister give examples?

If you give bad examples to innocent people, you may spoil them. Senator FitzGerald thinks he would object to the Fertilisers Act, if I am correct.

Yes, that is right.

I shall not revert to what Deputy Dillon, as Minister for Agriculture, said when he introduced this Bill in 1955. That would probably be going too far back but I take it that since the Senator and Deputy Dillon still belong to the same Party, a quotation from Deputy Dillon only three weeks ago would be far more telling as, for instance, when in the Dáil I was quoting this as an example of what we might be putting into this Bill, he glorified in the fact that——

Will the Minister give the reference?

The Senator will get the reference and the whole lot but the synopsis of it is——

Will the Minister give the reference?

——that he gloried in the fact that he had the opportunity of putting through this particular Act. I shall get the reference for the Senator, although I am not quoting the Deputy verbatim or attempting to do so. I am merely giving a synopsis of what he said. He threw up his hands and said that he gloried in the fact that he put it through. I take it the Senator and the Deputy are still in the same Party, and, if so, I suppose it shows the democratic methods of the Fine Gael Party in that they can differ on fundamental matters such as this and show a united front at the same time in order to give good example to others.

It has been alleged that the previous Acts, including the Fertilisers Act—I think, by Senator O'Quigley—had been introduced in times different from these. I have no difficulty in conceding that this is true but if by different times it was implied that we are in very critical and strained times now and that this changes our approach to this Bill as against the circumstances that obtained back in 1928, 1935, 1947, 1955 or 1956, I do not agree. I was not around for very long in 1928 and for only slightly longer in 1935 but would any sane person try to make me believe, since I did not live through those times as an adult, that the situation at present when we are sponsoring this Bill is to be regarded as a difficult and dangerous one wherein the Minister of the day cannot be trusted with the powers proposed in this Bill and that he might have been so trusted back in 1928 and 1935 when things were so different and people were so happy at that time that everybody was falling over everybody else to entrust them with those powers?

I was young then but even with the slight and dim memories I have of those days, nobody could convince me that the situation was as stated by Senator O'Quigley or that there is any basis for his argument relating to differing circumstances. Rather, I should say, his argument could be reversed and it could be said that 1928 and 1935 were years in which the circumstances were such that the trusting by the Opposition of a Minister was far less likely in this form of a Bill than it would be today. The reverse of his argument is the fact. Therefore, not only does his argument fall but it is an argument in the opposite direction. If in those days when Government and Opposition had their present roles reversed we could have the then Opposition and the then Oireachtas giving this sort of discretion to the then Minister for Agriculture in the Pigs and Bacon Act and the Dairy Produce Act, surely we have come far enough since then to have far greater faith in each other to the point of giving far more discretion to a Minister for Agriculture today or tomorrow or next year than would possibly have been sought or expected in those years.

We had the usual suggestion thrown out that the Minister is in conflict with a section or an important section of the farming community. I do not know what this is intended to convey but, repeated sufficiently often, it may convey in some way that the Minister has caused this situation and is to blame for it, that only he can rectify it and that the other cherubs are blameless. This seems to be the whole emphasis by Fine Gael.

Who does the Minister suggest said that?

The Senator was missing at that time.

The Minister has forgotten about the 80 farmers who were in jail.

I have not forgotten about the dual purpose hen, not for a moment. That memory is always with me when Senator Rooney is before me.

The Minister should remember the 80 farmers who were in jail.

(Interruptions.)

Senator Rooney should allow the Minister to continue without interruption.

He does not know what I am talking about. It is beyond or above him.

I tried to find out without success.

Is the Senator implying that this thing about a conflict with the farming community has not been said?

On the contrary, I said it myself. I was wondering who suggested that the blame lay on one side. I did not hear that suggestion.

The remark was: "The Minister is in conflict." Why not say: "The NFA is in conflict with the Minister"?

We will say that every second time.

Do that; it will give you exercise and keep your minds balanced. Having got the assurance from the Senator that they will try to balance their utterances, if not their minds, on this matter in future, I will leave it. There is a suggestion that because of the conflict, wheresoever originating, all matters of legislation and all matters of regulations and all matters pertaining to the Department of Agriculture in this State should stop flatfooted until that conflict has been brought to an end by some means or other.

It is being put across in regard to this Bill, as to why it should be delayed, that we should stop and just freeze everything until this conflict has been overcome. I do not subscribe to that idea. I do not see that any section of the community, no matter whom they represent, or how many they represent, if they are a sectional interest, and only part of a sectional interest, as the case in point turns out to be, have a right to have the business of the Oireachtas or the Government held up until they come up again. That is what Fine Gael are asking. These people who are allegedly in conflict are not even asking for this themselves, but Fine Gael are always there to sponsor great causes. One of their causes is to stop this Bill at any cost.

There is an uncharitable story going around. I do not subscribe to it. In fact, it would be a stupid deal if it were made. The suggestion is that a deal was made before the local elections, and that this Bill would be held up, or beaten if possible, by Fine Gael and that in return a certain element of the NFA would back Fine Gael in the local elections. I do not believe that. It would have been a stupid deal.

The NFA could to some degree produce the goods in regard to their alleged part of the bargain, but Fine Gael could not unless they resorted to undemocratic means which I am sure they would never dream of doing. It is, as I say, an uncharitable story.

The Minister likes repeating it.

I do not believe it for a moment because even if Fine Gael were capable of making such a deal, I have enough regard for the other people to realise that they are clever enough and cute enough to know that they would be selling themselves for a mere nothing. Fine Gael could not produce what it is alleged they promised to produce, that is, to stop this Bill. That could not have happened. I am happy to have the opportunity of indicating that it could not and did not happen.

Is this relevant to the amendment?

I did not catch that.

It was not directed to the Minister; I address my remarks to the Chair.

In regard to the information which I promised to Senator FitzGerald and others who are interested as to Deputy Dillon's lauding of his own handiwork in 1958, the reference is volume 229, columns 1490 to 1499 of the Official Report of 6th July.

Not at all.

Deputy Dillon is always worth reading.

There was another helpful suggestion that the Auctioneers Act could have been suitably amended to cover marts. While it might be possible to cover auctions by straining the Act and amending it to quite a degree, I do not see how it could be strained and amended to include non-auction sales which are one of the things that were discussed to quite a degree, and which it is necessary to cover if we are to control——

The Bill does not regulate them in its present form.

Non-auction sales.

It does.

It regulates the marts that might be used.

If you do not have places provided capable of being used for auctions, how can you have auction sales or non-auction sales in places suitable for auctions?

The Bill does not regulate non-auction sales.

It regulates them in regard to the boyos who might try to get around the controls to their own peculiar and personal advantage to the degree that they are not getting away with evasion of the licensing code to which reputable and properly operated marts will adhere.

The Bill regulates places adapted and this could be covered by the Auctioneers Act.

The Senator should read the section, and read it again, and again, and again. After all that reading, I assert that he will find certain things in it that he has not yet seen. It is a very good definition section. I appreciate the solicitude expressed by Senator FitzGerald for my political future which he feels is in the balance and liable to be cut off at a rather tender age.

I also expressed qualms about the propriety of that feeling.

I was not really interested in the propriety. I was thanking the Senator for his expression of solicitude.

Senator O'Reilly took me to task with regard to this measure. He made a very excellent case, particularly his assertion that I and the Government and the Department were to be blamed in regard to this measure on the basis that it is five or ten years late. I fully subscribe to that view. These licensing provisions and controls should have been provided many years ago but that is not to say that because they were not provided many years ago it is wrong to provide them now. In fact, the passage of time made it more definite and urgent that it should be done, and the sooner the better. That surely must follow and it must follow particularly in view of the fact that those who are now opposing the provisions in this Bill are the self-same people who advocated the introduction of licensing controls, or otherwise, away back in 1958. How they can change their tune, or how they can dance a different dance to the same tune, is something I just do not understand. The fact of the matter is that those who are opposing this measure expressed themselves as in favour of control in 1958. As I say, I fully agree with Senator O'Reilly that this measure has one fault, that is, that it is many years after the time at which it should have been introduced. But it is not too late. It is comparatively early, but the earlier we can get it the better.

Auctioneers and their bonds were mentioned. That just shows how little the people who make these interjections understand what is at issue. There was mention of fidelity bonds; some said there was no provision for them. I agree we should have them and we are going to have them. By way of interjection, it was, I think, Senator Rooney who asked did not the auctioneer's bond cover this? The auctioneer's bond, as far as I know, is about £5,000. It was raised in the recent Act to that amount. Do the Senators who have this sort of woolly idea in their heads realise that two sales at any sort of well-going cattle mart could involve £50,000 to £100,000?

Quite, and that is why I suggested the Minister might like to amend the Auctioneers Act.

The Senator is way out again. I cannot see how, by any stretch of the imagination, the Auctioneers Act could be amended to cover non-auction sales. Anyway, £5,000 by way of auctioneer's bond would be the answer of Fine Gael to securing the financial interests of the customers of a mart that might be going on the rocks or actually on the rocks to their detriment.

That is not what I said.

I did not say the Senator said it. I merely have it down here as an interjection—what about auctioneers' bonds?—and it is in the context of discussing fidelity bonds or insurance to cover the liabilities of a mart that might go wallop, for one reason or another, and this is the worth that Fine Gael place on the operations of a mart, as demonstrated by this interjection: £5,000 where £100,000 might be involved in one day.

£100,000 in one day?

£5,000 for one day. What are they selling—ducks or hens?

Dual purpose hens are about the only thing that would cover for one day.

Tell us all about the Egyptian bees and the platypus and perhaps breaking stones. Tell us more about breaking stones.

£5,000 on a throughput of 100 animals at £50 a head——

The Minister is assuming there would be £100,000 in one day.

I am not assuming anything of the sort. What I am assuming is that the interjection was ill-founded and made in complete ignorance of the facts in relation to the operation of a mart on any given day the mart is open. A bond for £5,000 on the part of the auctioneer would cover only 75 to 100 cattle. Who runs a mart with 75 or 100 cattle? Will someone tell me that? Where is there a mart operating on the basis of a throughput of 100 cattle a day?

Again, it does not follow that there may not be two marts held before the payment for the first one takes place. That is part of the system and, if the marts are running fairly close together, as they may do for different types of animals, one could have marts on successive days, two in the one week, and the two days' sales would be due to be paid after the second mart had been held.

Where does that happen?

In every mart.

We will take 75 or 100 and one day's operation and we will divide it into two; we will make it even figures to make it easy for Deputy Rooney. We get 37 or 38 cattle—38 on one day and 37 on the other. That would be some going. That would be a real operation. That would be a mart giving the best service possible to those who need it in order to sell their cattle.

Has the Minister conveyed his criticisms of the Auctioneers Act to the Minister for Justice?

The Senator has got some peculiar idea in his head that, when I draw the analogy that can be drawn in regard to the interjection made by Senator Rooney, in order to show how silly it would be to apply this £5,000 bond to cover and secure the interests of farmers selling cattle at the cattle mart, I am criticising; this does not imply criticism of the Auctioneers Act, of the Minister for Justice or of the two Houses of the Oireachtas which passed that Act.

But the Auctioneers Act applies to marts.

I am merely pointing out the folly of the ways of some of the Senator's colleagues who regard 5/- or 2/6d in the £ as fair compensation if a farmer is silly enough to sell his cattle through a mart that is going bang.

How many have gone bang?

Too many.

What about Potez?

The Senator has more time to count than I have.

I do not believe there were many.

There must have been something else said in all the time it took to say it. No: I think I have replied to all the salient points raised and to some that were not so salient.

Could we have examples of the legislation in Denmark, Holland, Luxembourg and anywhere else?

I prefer to give examples of our own legislation.

We do not want to learn from others.

Now, 39 years is not bad experience in our circumstances. We have had 39 years of operating the Dairy Produce Act and the Senator is a knowledgeable man from the south. He has associations with co-operatives, the IAOS and the NFA. He knows them and knows their conditions. I am saying to him now that surely 39 years experience of a measure similar to this in relation to every creamery in the country is a far better example from which to draw our deductions than anything that might be done in Denmark, Holland, Timbuctoo, or anywhere else. Surely the operation of the Dairy Produce Act here is for us a better guide on which to rely without any fear of taking a wrong step?

Are we not being very smug?

No. Occasionally, for our race, it is no harm at all that we should now and again think in terms of what we do as being the best rather than the worst. We have had too many people for far too long who regard what we do as inferior merely because it is done here by somebody in this country. I am not one of those who subscribe to that view.

Marts have been regulated in other countries before this.

We have had 39 years experience of the Dairy Produce Act, with all its implications for the creamery and milk industry, an industry so closely allied to our cattle industry. Surely that is the best proof, the most exacting proof, one could possibly get as to the desirability of following in present and future legislation the guiding lines laid down 39 years ago. Thirty-nine years and not a complaint —not a single complaint by any of those organisations or by any of the individual co-operative societies running creameries today or any day since 1928. In that legislation we have the licence at the sole discretion of the Minister, without any obligation on him to tell the Dáil and the Seanad, until they find out in their own capacity that he has taken a licence away, and even then there is no obligation on him to say that he took it away or that he refused it. Yet despite that overall very wide discretion with no obligation to give any reasons or answers about it, it has never been abused. It has never been abused in 39 years even to the point of eliciting a complaint from one creamery society. That is surely the answer to those who would make a case that whatever about this Marts Bill applying to private mart operators, it was really doing down the co-operatives. All creameries are co-operatives. That, I take it, the Senator is fully aware of.

The Dairy Disposal Company?

The Dairy Disposal Company?

Co-operatives all of them were, every one of them. Tell me where there is a private creamery?

The Dairy Disposal Company.

What is there? Are you sure it is not the Shannon Free Airport Development Company they were talking about here yesterday in your absence who have set up one out at the end of the jet runway or something because it would be outside my jurisdiction if it were in the duty-free, customs-free zone?

East Clare Creameries.

The Minister is caught out in saying that all creameries are co-operatives.

The Dairy Disposal Company.

How are they operated and where did we get them?

How we got them is irrelevant.

No, it is not irrelevant at all. They came into being in buying out some of those people who were no longer able to run them themselves.

Quite right, and they are not co-operatives.

To get back to what I was saying——

They never disposed of them.

No, the only disposal we know of is where they sell aeroplanes that somebody else has paid for.

You tell me the difference between producing butter and cattle.

That is for Senator Quinlan. The Senator missed this last night. What is the end product? Senator Quinlan will tell you all about it because it mystifies me as presented by Senator Quinlan, but I can see that he knows and that I do not, and that he should tell you because I really could not do justice to his idea of the end product. The fact is that we are delighted to see the Senator here after missing half the morning and yesterday. I suppose it is better late than never.

The co-operatives have not expressed any dissatisfaction with their treatment by the present or any other Minister since 1928 in regard to the use of his discretion and the granting, withholding or revocation of licences. This is an important example that we can draw from in a very special way that should confirm in our minds that there it nothing whatever wrong with, nor is there any danger inherent in, the proposals in this measure, that if anything, they are safeguarded to a degree that those others were not in that the Minister is obliged and will be obliged to lay before the two Houses of the Oireachtas his decisions in regard to refusals, his decisions in regard to revocation of licences and the reasons therefor.

People may ask what is the point in that. The point is that as distinct from the courts, the arbitrators or anybody else, the Minister and the Members of the Government of the day are elected by the people. They are open to all sorts of interrogation in both Houses on any of these matters that come within their jurisdiction. I am undertaking by the terms of the Bill to come in and put before the two Houses, where I have refused a licence, and revoked a licence—in both cases—why. Surely Members of this House will be the last to say that they are then helpless.

Only when he revokes.

If in fact there has been a revocation or a refusal and the decision has been wrongly made, for bad reasons, for political reasons and all the rest that have been trotted out here, surely to heavens there is no place where this can be exposed and will be exposed more quickly than in the two Houses of the Oireachtas, if of course they have a case and want to do something about it?

And then put it to a vote.

Do not start this poor mouth business again about your being in the minority. This is something you will have to get used to and you will be far happier. You are really not giving yourselves a chance.

I do not agree that an arbitrator appointed in whatever way you like, whether by the Civil Service Commission or the Local Appointments Commission, as somebody suggested, the barrister of ten years standing—I smile when I hear those words: a barrister of ten years standing; it conjures up the picture of a barrister just standing around for ten years——

There are plenty of them around Mount Street.

I knew it was bound to come to something. I shall come back to it again. I do not think that any arbitrator, no matter by whom chosen——

He is not an arbitrator.

I do not believe a district justice, or indeed any judge, is under the same pressures as an elected public representative in Government to steer an absolutely straight and fair course. I say this with all due respect to those who occupy those other high positions. I really believe this and I believe it because of the fact that we have an Opposition who, if they perform no other function—

Take care you do not compliment us.

——will never miss an opportunity to try to find mud and dirt where there is not any and try to throw it and make it stick where it should not. That being the case, the dangers of anything being done under the counter, unjust or unfair, politically-biased, under this measure are completely and absolutely remote, far more so than if they went before an arbitrator or indeed before the courts.

Is the Minister making a case for abolishing the courts?

What I am getting around to are the reflections I have heard expressed in regard to the courts here today. We have been told very seriously by very eminent people, some of whom are at the Bar—I do not mean the sort of bar we have in this House—that we would be in danger in having a barrister of ten years standing—ten years experience might be a better phrase—because of the fact that we would be looking for a compliant —I think that was the word used by Senator FitzGerald—who, he hastened to add, might be hard to find, but, in view of the prospects of promotion which could be made by the Government that we would have these sort of compliant barristers standing around ten years who would do our bidding to get the Minister out of a hole he may have got himself into, by making an unjust decision or proposing to make an unjust one in regard to the refusal or revocation of a licence.

I said the Minister would be tempted to look for such a person.

I shall grant the Senator any sort of correction. I should hate to wrong him in this respect.

The point I want to make is that if we were to change from this dangerous situation of getting this compliant sort of person I would be seeking out, who now apparently might not be there but maybe would be because of the promotion prospects, we should in fact take it either to the courts or to some body or other presided over by a member of the courts. Yet, those same court members will have been appointed by the Government. Presumably some of the barristers of ten years standing who comply with the wishes of the Minister are the people who, if we are to believe the Senator, now are in those high places and it would be an improvement to refer such matters to them rather than to the Minister. You cannot have it both ways. That is what we are trying to do there. Either the courts are above reproach and their appointees are above reproach. I believe they are. I do not subscribe in the slightest degree to the reflection that was cast on them here today in the sort of analogy employed by Senator FitzGerald when he talked about the compliance of barristers who do the bidding of the Minister in order to get promotion——

I talked about the Minister being tempted to secure it.

Do not worry about that. I cannot fall if the pit is not there. I probably realise better than does the Senator that those people do not exist. If they do not exist, I am quite sure I will learn it as fast as the Senator has, which is just in the last half-hour or so. However, allowing him every latitude in his analogy in relation to the case he made, he cannot have it both ways. I would be interested to know which way.

Barristers of ten years standing are upright people. They are capable of making just appraisals but when they wish to get promotion they will not seek to do the bidding of the Government but will get it by their own effort. That is one way. The other is they will do those things and they will finish up on the bench. We are asked to refer those matters to that bench rather than leave them with the Minister who at least is answerable to the Dáil and Seanad. You cannot have it both ways. I do not subscribe to this view at all. I believe the Senator does not believe what he said.

I do not believe what the Minister says I said.

The people who are put there are of various shades of political opinion. They are very busy people. In fact, from my own experience in regard to various pieces of legislation I have had a hand in going through this House, they are overburdened at various levels of the courts. We should not try to hive off anything to them at all but rather give the Minister something to do. We should not try to throw those things on to the courts who are already very busy on far more important matters. It is not fair to the courts, it is not fair to ourselves here and it denigrates the power and control of Parliament, the Houses of the Oireachtas and the Government, who are the elected representatives of the people who have to be answerable not only to both Houses of the Oireachtas but also to the people. Even there if they can be judged or nailed in this or the other House on matters that can be shown to be corrupt then they have to face the people. It is by the votes of the people they get here and without those votes they will cease to be Members of this Oireachtas.

Those are things which the people should keep in mind in order to have a proper perspective of what the responsibility of the Minister and the Government is and the manner in which they have to approach those things for all those various reasons. It is scandalous that we should have this denigration perpetrated in this august Assembly, the chief institution of our own State, which we as Members of the Oireachtas in a general and in a particular way have a duty to uphold. Yet, we have been doing this for very narrow political advantage. I am really ashamed of Fine Gael in this particular regard.

The Minister finished by mentioning political advantage and it is a very good point on which to start. First of all, we know that the marts have been functioning for the past ten years. We also know, having regard to the arrangements for alterations to be carried out in this House, it was intended that the Dáil and Seanad should have their business completed before the end of June but on the eve of June, on the 31st May, the Minister threw down this Marts Bill on the Table of the House.

He knew very well it was on the eve of the holidays for the Members of the Dáil and Seanad that he was presenting this Bill. He introduced it at that time, of course, assuming that they would be confronted with the closing down before the 1st July and that he would have to get his Bill in spite of quite a lot of other legislation, certainly more urgent, that needed to be dealt with and which has been left over until after the recess. All the time has been taken up by this Bill. It is a strange fact, indeed, that immediately after the activities of the NFA week after week and month after month since January this Bill was presented. It appears to be a rather punitive Bill brought in not during the last ten years but on the eve of closing for the holidays in order that the Minister could get at the farmers.

Let us face it. That is the purpose of this Bill. It is to get after them. It will be a method which will put an extra big stick in the hands of the Minister, to interfere with the activities of the farmers. We can imagine many sets of circumstances in which the Minister, if he gets this Bill in its presents form, can punish members of the National Farmers Association, the ICMSA or any other organised farming group who may find themselves in any dispute with him. Every reputable newspaper has declared against this Bill in principle. Extracts from editorials have been quoted in this House and in the Dáil on several occasions. Those were views expressed by the editors and writers in the newspapers. They were expressing public opinion and they were reflecting public opinion. They were, if you like, interpreting public opinion. All those reputable newspapers have declared against this Bill in principle.

Acting Chairman

The principle of the Bill is not just immediately before the House. There is an amendment before the House.

I am dealing with the licensing end of it.

Acting Chairman

That was not apparent.

Under this Bill the Minister is taking power to put the marts out of business. He will be able to frame regulations in a manner which will enable him to put them out of business. It is a very great power that the Minister is seeking from this House, that is the power to put business people out of their normal commercial activities. Generally speaking, people are allowed to run their own business in their own way but the proposal now is to tell the marts how they should run their business.

It was mentioned—I think by the Minister—that this Bill has been brought in because of some incidents that occurred in the past few months where it appeared the proprietors of the marts, in the interests of their own business, and carrying on their own business in their own way, took action of which the Minister does not approve. The Minister has not at this stage stated the conditions which will attach to the issue of a licence. He is asking us to pass a Bill to give him power to grant a licence, to refuse a licence, to revoke a licence, and, I presume, restore a licence. He has not told us the conditions in which a licence will be issued. I have no doubt that the regulations under which a licence will be issued will be framed in such a manner as to give the Minister great power in relation to the people who will be trying to do business in that mart. This Bill will give the Minister power to deal with the people who do business in the mart, in addition to dealing with the marts themselves. The licence will be subject to a set of conditions and regulations which will affect those using those marts to transact their business. It really amounts to the fact that every, beast going through those marts will be licensed somehow.

The Minister said, of course, that he is ensuring fairness in relation to those licensed marts by promising to have laid before the House the reasons for his refusal to grant a licence, but he knows very well that if there is to be a vote in the Dáil or the Seanad where the majority party exists, he can stand over his decision, regardless of what report has been put on the Table.

Under the factories Acts which deal with human beings, there are penalties if various regulations are not complied with, but there is no question of putting factories out of business. There will be no business withdrawn; they will not be told to fold up, to cease to transact further business in those premises. This Marts Bill refers of course to a place. Under the Factories Act, if regulations are broken, the premises will not be closed down or people will not be put out of business. The marts will be closed down and put out of business if they do not comply with regulations which will be decided, determined and implemented by the Minister.

I notice—I am open to correction here—that there is no distance limit in the Bill. In other words, there could be two marts in one town. Under the fairs regulations, there is a provision by which a fair must be held six or seven miles from another fair. Under the arrangements of the time, fairs were not sanctioned unless they were a minimum distance apart.

That is not so and was never so.

I think the Senator is wrong.

The Senator knows something about it; you do not.

I am glad to know that the Senator knows something about it. I am informed, and I think my information is correct, that under the charter, before permission could be given for the establishment of a fair, the distance from the nearest fair was taken into consideration. In fact, I think the nearest distance was six and two-thirds miles. If I am wrong in that, I shall wait to be contradicted.

I did not mentioned the figure until now in relation to places where fairs can be held but I did talk about factories where human beings are concerned. One learned Senator from the Fianna Fáil Party justified this Bill by telling us that pigs cannot speak for themselves and this Bill refers to cattle, sheep and pigs. The Senator telling us that this Bill was necessary because pigs cannot speak for themselves followed by saying, when somebody intervened that we might have complaints, that she did not understand the language of pigs. That was a very good reason for having this Bill implemented.

I mentioned the distance between one mart and another. The Minister will have power under this Bill to withdraw a licence from a mart that may be operating in a certain town and issue a licence to a political pal or supporter——

You are back on it again.

——in order to put the mart out of business. He will have power to enable another mart to start in the same village or town in order to put an established mart out of business.

Are you against that? It could happen without the Bill. That is one of the things the Bill will prevent.

There is nothing in the Bill to prevent a mart which does not exist already being licensed in the same town. It gives power to the Minister to issue a licence for the setting up of another mart.

And to withdraw the licence of a mart.

Exactly. We want to see the regulations.

You can get to that when they come.

If the Minister decides to punish a particular mart, or mart committee, or gets on the wrong side of them in the matter of relationship, he can issue a licence for the setting up of another mart for the purpose of embarrassing and putting out of business the mart already established there.

That could happen anyhow.

There are two marts in Ballinasloe town.

This Bill will give the Minister power to put another there. The Minister could now put those two marts out of business and put his own mart in this town. That is what I object to. A licence can be used to put one mart out of business and to establish another more favourable to the Minister. This is a very serious power which the Minister is taking. It is a serious threat to the marts which are already established and functioning in a satisfactory manner. The shadow of that threat is there all the time. If those marts do not keep on the right side of the Minister, his Government, his Party and the local cumainn, they are then in danger of having their licences withdrawn and a licence given to some other group to set up a mart in the same area. At this stage, when the Minister is asking us to give him a Bill which gives him power to issue a licence and withdraw a licence, he should now set out in detail the conditions which apply to the issue of a licence so that we shall know exactly what the power to issue a licence implies. The powers which will attach to the issue of a licence, the conditions and regulations with which it will be associated are not set out in black and white in this Bill.

Even at this stage—it is now 2nd August—the Minister should not persist in pushing this Bill through in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. He has said that relations between himself, the NFA and the farming community are very happy but I think he will agree that the relationship is not so happy. That is why there is the feeling throughout the country amongst the farmers—and if anybody is interested, he can stop any farmer in the streets or at a fair; he need not go to the marts to see a farmer—and ask him what he thinks of this Bill, he certainly will not say he is in favour of it. The farmers are opposed to the Bill because they realise it is just a noose round their necks which can be tightened if they do not take the line the Minister requires them to take. We have seen ourselves the difficulties which the farmers have been having with the Government at present; they are unable to get any kind of co-operation and are certainly unable to get any kind of guidance in the matter of agricultural policy from the Government at present.

In that situation, it is undemocratic and not right for us to be here now putting through a Bill to which the farmers are opposed. They are the people who will be affected in the long run, because it is the farmers who use those marts, and the livestock from all those marts are channelled through those marts to a great extent now. Those marts have been functioning for the best part of ten years and if they should be subject to certain regulations, it is very strange that the Minister should wait until the eve of the adjournment of the Dáil and Seanad to bring in a Bill of this nature, having regard to the relationship which existed between his Department and the farmers for nearly the past 12 months now. If he wanted to bring it in, he should not have waited until we were just about to close down. It means that apparently the Minister wants to stifle discussion. He has said he is prepared to talk until the cows come home in relation to this Bill, but he knows he is having this Bill debated and argued now at a time which is normally the holiday period.

The Minister's attitude is completely unfair in relation to this matter. If there are amendments which will be acceptable to him, he knows it will be necessary to recall the Dáil in order to have them accepted, if he wishes to have the Bill become law before the Dáil reassembles. On the other hand, if the Minister proposes to oppose every amendment put down here, he should tell us now and not tell us in a fortnight's time. If he is going to accept none of them, why not tell us now? On the other hand, if he has an open mind on the matter, he should let us know at this stage whether any of these amendments are acceptable to him, because it would certainly be a great help to us in this debate if we knew which amendments are acceptable.

Acting Chairman

Not from the point of view of order; the Minister, like the Senator, is restricted in discussing the amendments before the House.

But the point I am making, Sir, is this; we were brought back here this morning at 10.30 a.m.; we were brought back this week instead of being able to take our holidays, in order to discuss these amendments. If the Minister has no intention of accepting any of the amendments, it is unfair and not right to have us here discussing these points only to be told in the long run he is not accepting any of them. For that reason, even at this stage, he should leave the discussion of the remainder of this Committee Stage over until after the recess.

I do not quite understand the remarks of Senator Rooney about the reasons why we are discussing this Bill more or less in the middle of August. The point I think he should realise is that when this Bill was first introduced as long ago as May last, it was then, as it is now, a short Bill, relatively simple, dealing with a very limited aspect of the country's economic administration.

Major economy.

It introduced no new principle of legislation; it introduced no principle of legislation which had not been in force in numerous Acts in this Country for the past 43 years. The fact that we are here on 2nd August, and may be here for some time to come, is certainly not the responsibility of the Minister, nor is it the responsibility of the Fianna Fáil Party.

This Bill was debated at very great length in another place, which we are not supposed to discuss, and my memory is that the debates was conducted by the Fine Gael Party in such a way that it never got past section 1. We began the Committee Stage discussion of this Bill yesterday afternoon at 3 o'clock; it is now 4 o'clock on the following day and we have not yet dealt with section 1. It is clearly fallacious for Senator Rooney to be attacking the Minister, the Government, or the Fianna Fáil Party for the fact that we are sitting here today discussing this Bill.

There are two contending schools of thought on this amendment. Senator O'Quigley and Senator Quinlan represent one school of thought, a school of thought that says, as does Senator Quinlan, that this is undemocratic, dictatorship and that, as he puts it, any group or auctioneer would look on these licensing powers with horror and alarm. Senator O'Quigley, as far as I remember, is even more picturesque: he says the Bill is unconstitutional, that it gives arbitrary powers to the Minister and, in his usual slightly flamboyant style, spoke about the battering rams of the Land War and said the Minister is suppressive. That school of thought needs to be reminded yet again, as the Minister has done already, of the long succession of Acts that have been passed during the past 40 years. I gave details of those on Second Stage and I do not propose to do so again except to list them, not that it will be of any assistance because those people will go on talking about this Bill as if it were new, dictatorial, arbitrary, oppressive.

There is the Dairy Produce Act of 1924 which includes powers to register creameries, separating stations, manufacturing exporters, butter factories and non-manufacturing exporters. The Creameries Act of 1928 gives the Minister power to license creameries. The Pigs and Bacon Act of 1935 gives the Minister power to license pork butchers and bacon factories.

Are you like the Minister? Do you know the difference?

The Senator has not yet spoken today. He is welcome to do so but I should prefer him to allow me to speak at the moment. I cannot understand what he is saying, anyway. The Minister has absolute discretion to refuse a licence under the Pigs and Bacon Act. The Poultry Hatcheries Act gives powers to refuse or to revoke a licence and the Live Stock (Artificial Insemination) Act, 1947, gives the Minister power to refuse licences and to impose such conditions as he thinks fit. Then there is Deputy Dillon's Act, the Fertilisers Act, which the Minister pointed out he still considers to be a magnificent Act. In that, the Minister can restrict the offering for sale of articles by persons holding licences issued by him and he has absolute discretion to grant or refuse to grant a licence, or attach such conditions as he may think fit, or revoke a licence. In the Seed Production Act, which I strongly advise Senator FitzGerald to read from start to finish as a most interesting Act—it would reduce him to blind fury if the present Minister for Agriculture even considered introducing any of the provisions of that Act—the Minister is given power to authorise people to engage in the business of producing, processing or selling seeds and he may revoke a licence at his discretion.

It has not happened.

There are extensive powers with regard to the Control of Exports Acts of 1947 and 1957. The Minister can prohibit exports——

Notice taken that 12 Members were not present; House counted, and 12 Members being present,

I have mentioned those Acts merely to try to point out to Senator O'Quigley, who is now here, and to Senator Quinlan who is not, that it is a ludicrous distortion of the true position to allege that this Bill is dictatorial or oppressive. It introduces no new principles in regard to the licensing of economic activities which have not been contained in any other Acts. As the Minister pointed out today, for the 12th or 13th time, at no time during the past 40 years has anybody, inside a political Party or outside, suggested that those licensing provisions have been misused.

Those amendments seek to hand over to the courts the job of handing out licences and this brings us on to the other school of thought represented by some of the supporters of those amendments, particularly Senators FitzGerald and Stanford. They say there are precedents for this legislation, that this Bill merely reiterates the type of licence provisions which have been contained in many Bills throughout the year; but they say now is the time for a start. That is a more reasonable approach than that of Senators O'Quigley and Quinlan. Their approach is simply ludicrous to anyone who has studied legislation. There is no conceivable argument in favour of it. The other argument is one on which one could have an intelligent discussion.

The type of detailed economic administration which is dealt with in the Bill and which has been dealt with in numerous other Acts, relating particularly to agricultural produce, is not a matter for the courts. This Bill is not an instrument for denigrating the courts or in any way attempting to reduce the importance given to the courts in our constitutional system, but I do not think the courts are adapted or intended for this type of detailed economic administration. If it were consistent to hand over the licensing provisions of this Bill to the courts, then it would be consistent also to hand over all licencing provisions of all types relating to creameries, pigs and bacon, artificial insemination, imports and exports, to the courts. The courts would simply be unable to deal with that business. These are matters for expert administration, not matters for court procedure, and it would be a great mistake to consider taking such a step.

There seems to be a general assumption among certain Members from the other side that Ministers of State live in a sort of ivory tower, that a Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries or any other Minister administering licensing provisions can dissociate himself from the general public, that he can quietly take his revenge on any enemies he is alleged to have by eliminating cattle marts and so on. That is a complete misunderstanding of the position the Minister holds as an active politician in public life.

In this connection it might be well if I quoted Deputy Dillon. It may seem strange that two people on this side today should read quotations from the same source. The Minister read one earlier and I should like to read another which puts this point succinctly. While the Seed Production Bill, 1955, was going through the House, a a number of amendments to try to soften some of its dictatorial provisions were moved by various Fianna Fáil Senators. They were all rejected by the Minister, Deputy Dillon. In any event, arising out of the discussion, Deputy Dillon made a point which I think is a good one with regard to the position of a Minister, particularly a Minister who is administering legislation such as this. I quote now from columns 1704-5 of the Official Report of Seanad Éireann of 8th June, 1955, when Deputy Dillon was Minister for Agriculture. He said:

What no Minister of State faces with equanimity is a parliamentary question designed to expose him for having used powers conferred on him in an arbitrary manner. Every Minister is open to query as to why he issued a particular Order, and if he does not give a satisfactory answer he can be required to wait from 10.30 to 11 p.m. to answer on a motion on the Adjournment. If he has not satisfied the House, he will then have to face a barrage on his Estimate and of course there is always available to a Deputy the opportunity of raising the matter by specific motion in Dáil Éireann. He can move that the Order under which the Minister acted in an arbitrary way be rescinded.

I mention these things because they all relate to a series of amendments which seem to be founded in the apprehension that there would be arbitrary use of the powers envisaged.

The Minister, in fact, is very much in the hands of the Dáil and the Seanad with regard to the way he uses powers and also—for some reason this greatly upsets Senator Quinlan—in the hands of the public.

Let us think about this in a practical way instead of indulging in the wild theorising that we have had so much of in this debate. Let us think in a practical way of the position of a Minister who decides, apparently through sheer vindictiveness, that he will close down an existing cattle mart. Can you imagine the furore? Picture an Irish country town with a livestock mart which is used by the farmers for some miles around. Picture what would happen if the Minister decided to close the mart and to withdraw the licence. Can you imagine the public meetings, the deputations, both from Opposition people and his own supporters? Think of the questions that would be asked in the Dáil and the general excitement. Is it possible that any Minister would withdraw a licence in these circumstances?

If there is a fault in this procedure of licensing cattle marts and withdrawing licences I should say it is the opposite to what has been alleged. It is not that a Minister would be too active in withdrawing or refusing licences or that he would be oppressive in this matter. There is the consideration of his commitment, as a politician, to public opinion and his desire not to get into trouble in the Dáil for being too weak or for waiting too long before revoking the licence of a cattle mart that obviously was making no effort to comply with the regulations.

By this amendment, Senator O'Quigley and others wish to give the power of issuing licences to the courts. I have already said I think that that is not in the best interests of the public or of the cattle marts themselves because the courts are not adapted to deal with this type of activity. One of the reasons I prefer the procedure of ministerial licensing and general administration in these matters rather than court procedure is that the system of licensing by the Minister is much more flexible. The courts are essentially rigid places.

I would refer Senator O'Quigley to subsection (2) of his proposed section 3, in particular. The Minister has said the Bill provides that all existing cattle marts will get licences provided they avail of the regulations. The Minister has said in the Seanad, and several times in the Dáil, that he will, as an exercise of ministerial authority, give them time to work up their standards. The weaker marts, which perhaps would not be able to comply immediately with the regulations, would be given time to come up to the standards of the better ones.

Under Senator O'Quigley's amendment, the district justice can give a licence to an existing cattle mart only if it complies, as of now, with the regulations. That immediately puts every cattle mart in the country in the position that they cannot get a licence from the district court unless they comply with all the regulations. These regulations can easily be complied with by the more prosperous and better-run marts but it would cause great difficulties for the weaker marts to comply with them, even if the court adjourned the application so as to give them some time to do so. Therefore, the existing marts would be very unwilling to be forced into a situation where they would be governed by Senator O'Quigley's amendment. It would be disastrous in that way.

Surely Senator Yeats is not really serious when he asks the House to contemplate the furore and the protests and the public meetings that would be held should the Minister decide to withdraw a licence from a cattle mart under the terms of this proposed legislation. I am sure all the Senators in the House have, over the past nine or ten months, seen sufficient meetings, marches, sit-down strikes, protest meetings outside prisons and elsewhere, and have read resolutions passed by various public bodies. During the past nine or ten months, open warfare has been witnessed in this country between the farming community, the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and the Government.

You mean between the NFA and the Government.

What has all that agitation, unrest and dissatisfaction achieved and brought forth? This Bill is the result of all the marching. This Bill is all the Minister has to offer. This is the only piece of legislation that he feels will cure the ills of the agricultural industry at present.

Who says so?

Instead of seeking to improve agricultural prices, the Minister has devoted all his energies for the past four, five or six weeks to the introduction of this measure— which rightly has aroused suspicions and fears among a large section of the public in rural Ireland—and to putting it through the Oireachtas.

I have not as yet heard the Minister or any Government speaker indicate the exact reason why this proposed system of licensing is necessary. To my knowledge, there has been no great outcry or grave dissatisfaction about the marts as at present operated. I certainly have not heard any evidence that any of these marts, whether cooperatively run, or run by private ownership, are being operated in such a way as to infringe the rights of the general public in any respect.

It is quite true that following the seizures of cattle in Offaly, there was some difficulty at Edendery mart but the Minister will agree that that was an isolated case, and in a republican county such as Offaly, where there were always men of high ideals, it is reasonable to see why those people are not going to be walked on as easily as some might imagine it is possible to do. This is completely unnecessary legislation. We are licensing a section of Irish life at this stage and I can see nothing in any section of the Bill that is going to confer any particular benefits on the farming community. I would ask the Minister to indicate what benefits the farmers can expect to enjoy if this Bill is enacted which they do not enjoy at present. On the contrary.

Will the Senator direct his attention to the amendment and not to the Bill?

With respect, I am discussing amendment No. 4. There is no need to license cattle marts at present. They have been erected as the result of private enterprise in a few cases, and in the majority of cases as a direct result of co-operative effort, as a direct result of the co-operation of individual farmers who came together and subscribed to the capital cost of providing the necessary structure. They devoted their time to canvassing their neighbours to ensure a sufficient supply of cattle on sale at each mart. They went out to ensure that reputable buyers from overseas as well as at home would attend those marts so that there would be a brisk demand for cattle. In all, the system has worked admirably and it has really been quite a boon to farmers. It is true that in some places farmers prefer to patronise the old traditional fairs. People who go to fairs are at a decided disadvantage because quite an amount of practice and expertise is required to make a good bargain, whether you are buying or selling, and that is something every man does not enjoy doing to the same extent and something which not every man is capable of doing. People who expose their cattle for sale in a mart all get the very same crack of the whip and for that reason this Bill is to be discouraged.

On the other hand, I regret I have not as yet, having listened to the Minister for many hours, both here and in the Dáil, heard him encouraging the system of selling through cattle marts. In present conditions and with the scarcity of manpower in agriculture, and more especially in the tillage areas, it is imperative that the farmers should have good marts in which to sell their cattle. Under the old system going to a fair meant, for practically every farmer, rising at any time between 2 o'clock and 5 o'clock in the morning and it was impossible to go without looking for somebody to take the cattle to the fair so that the farmer could stay back and do the ordinary farm work himself, such as milking and feeding livestock. Marts, however, start at a more reasonable hour and it is possible for a farmer, by starting his day's work an hour or an hour and a half earlier, to finish his routine jobs before he starts off for the mart at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. As I said, I regret I have not heard the Minister praise the system and encouraging the farmers to continue on this path.

I am somewhat at a loss to understand his reasoning in regard to the bonds which auctioneers are required to have. Did I understand him to say that a bond of £5,000 was not sufficient for an auctioneer to have if he were selling cattle at a mart because the Minister felt that the value of the cattle that would go under the auctioneer's hammer in one day would exceed, £5,000? Surely that is not a valid argument when practically every week we read about properties worth £250,000 or £500,000 changing hands and yet the auctioneers who handle those sales have a common bond of £5,000.

If you do not get paid, you still have the house.

Surely the same conditions will apply in the case of people disposing of cattle?

The cattle would be gone.

Did the Senator ever hear of an action of specific performance? That will very quickly dispossess you of your house if you have sold it.

I cannot understand the reasoning behind the Minister's argument. It is a pity that the only remedy the Department and the Minister could bring up for all this unrest which we have experienced is a Bill of this kind which proposes to license and to apply regulations to a section of the agricultural industry which has progressed quite nicely, which is developing on reasonable lines, gaining in popularity and giving an excellent service and which during the course of its evolution, neither applied for nor received any State aid. That is commendable. We hear a lot of talk about factories and industries being established and practically all of them receive grants of one kind or another. Here we have an industry employing quite a few people which has not applied for or received any grants or State aid and yet the Minister feels that to save the agricultural industry, it is necessary to license marts and bring them very much under his hand.

There is one other point. Although yesterday the Minister did give a guarantee that fairs need not be licensed and he had no intention of interfering with them, there is one thing I am not clear on. We have a considerable number of annual sales on farms, especially sales of pedigree cattle, where breeders, whether of dairy breeds or beef breeds, exhibit and sell their own stock by auction. This system is very popular. I attend many such shows each years because you can see there the lineage of the particular animal you may like. People interested in getting into milk breeds, and buying a heifer to start their own herd for instance, can see the parents of the animal in question and satisfy themselves they are getting into a good breed. I should like to ask the Minister specifically if those disposal sales will be allowed freely, as they have been over the years. Many of those sales—I know a couple in my own county—attract buyers not only from the Republic but from each of the 32 counties. They have been held annually for many years. It is important that they be allowed to continue.

What is worrying quite a number of people also are the annual shows and sales—the bull shows held in March throughout the country and the smaller ones later on. Will these be free to operate as they have operated for many years, or will there be any restriction on them? I should like to remind the Minister that all the societies holding these shows and sales co-operated with the Department over the years in the eradication of bovine TB. The Department got every assistance from them. Surely the Department would not wish to bring in regulations which will, to a great extent, knock many of these shows, especially the single-day events. If the Minister is to prescribe buildings, accommodation and so on for those single-day events, I do not think it will be possible for any voluntary show society to construct buildings and sales rings or accommodation in a permanent fashion to comply with the Minister's regulations. This is an important point. There was never greater need than at present for progeny testing in this country and the up-grading of our cattle stocks.

With due respect, I think it might be a bit more appropriate if the Senator would come back to the amendments.

Some Senators seem incapable of understanding the amendments on which they are speaking.

I am speaking on amendment No. 4.

The Senator is going very wide of the mark very often.

His speech is very similar to the previous speech in its scope.

Progeny testing under this amendment—really!

We had a lot from the Minister on AI.

Practically every speaker on the far side dealt with a variety of Acts, not one of them in any way connected with cattle marts or the sale of cattle.

They all dealt with licensing.

I am dealing with shows and sales. With all due respect, Sir, I cannot see why you must exclude shows and sales.

The Chair is now being invited rigidly to apply Standing Order No. 39. The Senator, to continue.

I will endeavour to keep to the subject matter of this amendment. We have, as the Parliamentary Secretary and the Senators on the Government side are aware, many excellent show societies. They have done a tremendous amount of voluntary, unselfish work towards up-grading and improving the quality and value of our livestock. Many of these societies hold an annual show and a sale in conjunction with it. Some of them are one day events and more of them are two or three day events.

The Senator is repeating himself. The matter was dealt with yesterday.

I endeavoured to speak both yesterday and today and this is the only time I was called.

Surely the Senator is entitled to see the effect of the licensing provision upon sales and shows?

I have not heard that mentioned previously either in this House or in the other House.

Shows were dealt with yesterday evening. The Senator has referred to shows several times since he began to speak.

Surely it is permissible——

The Senator, to get on with his speech on the amendments. There are three before the House. The scope of them is wide enough without widening it still more.

With due respect, Sir, so far I have been speaking on the first amendment, No. 4 "To delete line 17" in the name of Senator John B. O'Quigley. Line 17 reads:

"Licence" means, a licence under section 3 of this Act.

That brings in shows, of course.

It brings in a show at which there is a sale. That is the point I want to get to.

The Senator is perfectly entitled to make the point but he is not entitled to continue repeating the matter. The Senator, to continue.

I should like to ask the Minister, through the Parliamentary Secretary, to clarify why, in his opinion, this piece of legislation is necessary. I should like him to pinpoint for me the overall reason why it is thought desirable to introduce legislation at this time when other sections of the agricultural industry would, perhaps, benefit more from a more vigorous tightening up.

I should like to mention briefly something that Senator Yeats spoke about regarding the fertilisers legislation of 1955. Surely the House will agree that prior to that legislation being enacted, many tons of Irish beaches were distributed to Irish farmers at fantastic prices, up to £20 a ton, and since the enactment of that legislation the farmers have been getting a fairer deal. People who do not have to pay that sort of money for fertilisers in order to make their living will not as readily see the necessity for legislation of that kind to protect the agricultural community.

The Minister quoted legislation of 1928, 1935 and 1947 and 1955. I invite him to tell the House which Minister for Agriculture was in office in any of those years. Was there ever a Minister who called upon a battalion of troops, who mobilised members of the Garda from at least two divisions, to collect rates from a handful of Irish farmers? Never before——

Why did the farmers not pay their rates?

Never before——

I am calling on Senator McDonald to deal with the amendments before the House.

I am replying to the Minister who mentioned the legislation in those years. With due respect, he dealt at length with his predecessors who were in office in the years 1928, 1935, 1947 and 1955, and I just wish to point out that the same situation did not arise and the Ministers did not use the same tactics as the present holder of the office has used over the past nine or ten months.

If the Senator looks back to 1935, he will find that things were not so nice, due to certain people.

(Interruptions.)

The Chair does not intend to ask the Senator again to come back to the amendments.

Tell us what Mr. Hogan said when he was Minister for Agriculture.

Marsh's Yard finished the conspiracy once and for all.

Is that how the Senator would like it?

Senator McHugh will allow the business of the Seanad to continue. Senator McDonald must be allowed to continue on the amendments.

One would imagine from listening to the Minister making the case and justifying his actions in introducing this far-reaching legislation that it came as a result of loud and long protestation from some sections of the community who were being penalised but he has not indicated any such difficulties in the industry. Perhaps the Minister might tell the House in reply to which section of the community he is introducing this legislation.

It is hardly necessary for any Minister to have requests from certain sections of the community any time legislation is introduced for the benefit of the nation as a whole. Since this Bill has been introduced, there has been a barrage of opposition from Fine Gael, a great deal of fog and smoke screen around the whole issue and allegations that it has been introduced to penalise certain people,et cetera. I firmly believe that one of the most important parts of the Bill is the one to which this amendment relates, that is, the matter of granting licences. The farmers will certainly be very pleased to see legislation of this type being enacted because it will help to protect their interests.

It is true that cattle marts have sprung up to replace fairs in certain areas but there are many areas in which there are no cattle marts. I am very well aware that, as has been stated in this House, certain cattle marts have closed down and the unfortunate farmers who sold their cattle therein have no redress. The granting of a licence will ensure that people who engage in the business of providing cattle marts must comply with certain standards and there will be regulations made for the protection of persons who sell their cattle in those marts.

I am wondering if some of the people opposite who have criticised the Government for introducing this Bill at this time are aware of what has happened in certain parts of the country already. I freely admit that there are excellent cattle marts in existence that are run on a very high standard but that does not get away from the fact that a few cattle marts have closed down and it is in order to protect the people who sell their cattle in cattle marts that this Bill has been introduced.

To allege that it is introduced for any other reason, as Fine Gael have been doing for quite a long time, is quite wrong. I would respectfully suggest that they are merely trying to take advantage of any difficulties that may exist at present. In particular, they have made reference on many occasions to the NFA. I shall not dwell on that. I would be the first to admit that the farmers are entitled to have an organisation as well as anybody else but if Fine Gael think they are benefiting the farmers in any way by their contributions in this House, I would hasten to warn farmers' associations of all kinds, if at all possible, to steer clear of any advice being tendered from Fianna Fáil high priests.

Fianna Fáil high priests?

Fine Gael—because down the years they have swallowed up all the farmers' organisations that ever entered this House. Now they shed crocodile tears regarding them in connection with this Bill. It is high time it was introduced; indeed it is years late, but it is better late than never. It is a great thing to see we are at last having this very necessary and useful piece of legislation. To try to cut out the section which deals with the necessity for holding a licence would completely ruin the effect of the Bill. Some reference has been made to having this decided in court, but it would be presumptuous on my part to tread on that ground, because on this side of the House, the Minister, Senator Yeats and Senator E. Ryan have dealt fully and ably with it.

Could the Chair get any indication as to when the discussion on these three amendments may finish? The House is aware that other Senators are waiting to move their amendments in these four groups.

I suppose that what I have to say will conclude the debate on these amendments, and I was about to open with that hope on this amendment. It has been a much longer and a much more diffusive debate than I would have wished for, and the contributory factor to that state of affairs is not only the speakers from the Government side of the House but, in particular, the Minister who has raised so many hares that many people with a sporting instinct have been endeavouring to hunt them down.

We are not to speak at all?

No; I have not said that. I am saying the Minister has raised these hares.

If they all spoke as relevantly as Senator Yeats, the debate would be very short.

Senator O'Quigley should be allowed to make his speech without interruption.

The Minister has been engaging in a game of political skittles. He concocts arguments; he misinterprets arguments; he twists arguments and statements. Then he demolishes every one of them with logic from his point of view. The political skittles may be an entertaining thing but not very entertaining at this time of the year, and not very useful for the purpose of getting this Bill through the House. If the Bill is progressing so slowly, let the Minister blame himself more than other people.

To go back to the amendment, it says that there ought to be no need for licences and, if licences are to be issued, that it is not a Minister of State should issue them, and certainly not a Minister of State who should decide to cancel or revoke them. I do not intend to repeat anything I have said along that line already, because it is quite evident that what we have to say will not persuade by one vote, except perhaps Senator O'Reilly, that what we are saying is right.

If the Minister and his Department and his predecessors as Ministers for Agriculture were as concerned as they ought to have been about the condition of livestock marts and about the possibility of farmers who sold their cattle in those marts losing money through the mismanagement of the owners and auctioneers, one would have expected in all the many speeches that Ministers make from time to time some indication that legislation was necessary and that something should be done about livestock marts. I know of no speech made by any Minister of State at any time in relation to the condition of livestock marts, or deploring the fact that farmers had lost money. The device that was adopted by one of the Ministers in the Dáil recently of getting a Deputy to put down a question in order to give a matter a public hearing was never adopted in relation to livestock marts.

As it goes on, this debate has produced at least some good and all our time may not be wasted, for it now appears that the Minister has got one reasonable ground for introducing legislation of some kind in relation to livestock marts. He proposes that one of the conditions to be appended to the licence to be issued is that the owner will enter into some kind of fidelity bond to guard against the deprivation of small farmers, or farmers of any kind, of the price of their cattle.

In the speech the Minister made here on the Second Stage of this Bill, he did not make a single reference to what I would consider the best reason he has, or should have, for introducing this Bill. In the whole of the Second Reading speech, the Minister made not a single reference to the desirability or the necessity for safeguarding the financial interests of those who do business with the livestock marts, but as time goes on we find this will be one of the new things attached to the licence. It must be a profoundly disturbing thing for a person engaged in the livestock mart to know that one of the conditions to be attached to the licence will be that he will have to enter into a bond. It may well be the Minister will say they will have to deposit money in a particular bank. However, nobody reading this Bill, no matter how many times he reads it, will find a single word in it which says that will be a condition or that the Minister will have power to regulate that.

That is one of the things I should certainly have thought would be put in the Bill, that the Minister should have power to impose, as one of the conditions of the granting of a licence, a condition that the applicant should enter into a fidelity bond for whatever sum the Minister thinks fit, not exceeding a certain sum. That is a new power the Minister will have, to compel people to enter into that kind of bond, and not a word about it in the Bill or in the Second Reading speech.

He said it in the Second Reading speech in the Dáil.

I am talking about what the Minister said here in urging this House to accept the Bill. The second point I want to make is that it is idle for the Minister to say the relations between himself and the agricultural community are excellent. Of course, the relations between the top dog and the underdog are always excellent, when you are on top. If that is what the Minister means, of course relations are excellent, but are they excellent between the farming community and the Minister? There is no one in the country who thinks they are, least of all the Minister.

A strong reason for being opposed to the giving of the absolute power to the Minister of granting or withholding a licence is that it is a power which should be exercised openly and before all the world and everyone should know the reasons why a licence is granted, why it is withheld or why it is revoked. The Minister did say—it may have been a slip of the tongue—that he would lay his reasons before each House of the Oireachtas for the withholding or the revoking of a licence. He only proposes to do that in relation to the revocation of a licence. The concept of the Minister when he introduced this Bill was to give a licence, withhold a licence—no reason given; revoke a licence—no reason given. It was only when public opinion began to exert its pressure—or is it the Fine Gael Party that caused public opinion to exert pressure—that the Minister introduced the amendments, as they now are, Nos. 6a to 7 in the Bill. We have greater power in the Fine Gael Party than I ever thought, because we are able to get theIrish Times to write two editorials, the Irish Independent to write two editorials, the Cork Examiner to write two editorials, the Incorporated Law Society to issue statements, junior chambers of commerce to issue statements——

Surely these matters have been referred to before.

I want to alert the House to the philosophy and the political outlook of the Minister and the danger of investing him with the power of granting or withholding or revoking licences. That was the Minister's original intention: to give a licence and no questions asked or explanation given; to revoke it and no explanation given either. That was his considered opinion until such time as we in the Fine Gael Party got these various forces to operate and compel the Minister to change his mind. What went on in 1928, in 1935, in 1955 and in 1956 was somewhat different because of the lack of the same disturbance between the rural community and the Minister but, more important, let us not forget this—certainly in my mind and in the minds of a great many others—we did not have an organisation known as Taca in 1955 and 1956.

What has that to do with the amendment?

Taca is corruption through the medium of Irish.

Why did you not try the champagne parties again?

We will deal with that. We did not have champagne——

Indeed, you did and charged for them.

Champagne parties are hardly relevant to this debate. I would ask the Senator to confine himself to the amendment before the House.

I say that the granting of licences at a time when a new organisation such as Taca has been established is fraught with the danger of corruption at every stage. That is one of the reasons why we must strongly oppose giving the power of granting licences to the Minister.

The Minister has gone on with a lot of insincere and hypocritical talk, if I may be permitted to say so, or what sounds insincere or hypocritical talking about the Minister having to steer a straight course and be correct in all the decisions he makes when granting licences or revoking licences. Senator Yeats has gone on the same line and, with that imagination which well becomes him, he conjures up the Minister revoking a livestock mart licence and a livestock mart being shut down as a result of the Minister's activities and he sees all the great panoply of meetings and protests and parliamentary questions and so on and he says, in the face of that, how could any Minister revoke a livestock mart licence.

Except as a last resort.

Let us become a little parochial in this matter and let us look at the number of protests that have been made by parents, county councillors, Deputies and Senators at the closing down of national schools in different parts of rural Ireland. I have seen Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Secretaries going on deputations to the Minister for Education protesting against the closing down of national schools and there has been all the local furore, meetings and so on, but has that changed the mind of the Minister in closing down schools?

In many cases, yes.

Not at all. National schools are still being closed down because the Minister for Education has the power of saying: "Close down". There is no right of appeal and all the processes of democracy to which Senator Yeats has referred can be put to work but, because it is not a national issue, and because it is only a small area that is concerned, it is of no consequence——

The Senator and everybody else know it is done in the interests of the children.

The Senator was requested by the Chair not to interrupt.

The Senator never interrupts.

I want this debate to finish as quickly as possible.

Who would have thought it?

Equally, we had very thorough-going assurances given by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, Deputy Lemass, in that confident way he had of giving assurances to the House, that branch railway lines would not be closed down except in extreme circumstances. But the branch lines were closed down one after the other. There were deputations to CIE but they had the power and they closed them down. There were deputations to the Minister for Transport and Power and they were just a waste of time.

The same thing will happen under this Bill. The Minister can snap his fingers at deputations because he has the power and will exercise it. The Minister has given no satisfactory explanation, nor has any member of his Party, as to why they consistently denigrate and downgrade the courts. Why is it that on every possible occasion, instead of allowing the courts which are there to arbitrate between man and man and between the Government and the individual citizen, they have to be bypassed? Does it not show that the Minister and members of his Party do not have trust or confidence in the courts? Mark you, every day the courts deal with business matters such as landlord and tenant applications or licensing of hotels and a variety of things like that. Senator Yeats should know sufficiently well the complex matters with which courts are able to deal and if he says the courts could not deal with this matter, that they would be overcrowded, how can the Minister deal with it, the Minister who has so much work to do, so many aspects of work to attend to in his Department, who has to attend meetings of the Government, who has to confer with his officials day in day out, who has to act as a Deputy for his constituency and who has to write 300 letters a week for his constituents on his own sworn testimony in the courts and who not only has to do all that but has to be an active Party man on top of that? How can he give, to this or any other matter, the calm and detached consideration that the courts which are concerned with no other things but these disputes can give? The idea is absurd and completely unconvincing. If the Seanad thinks that the Minister who gets a report from some officials and asks a few pertinent questions——

Deputy Dillon was somehow able to manage it.

I do not think that Deputy Dillon or any other Minister can do all these things in anything like the same way or with the same efficiency as can our courts which are equipped for that purpose. If the Senator wants the Minister to engage in that kind of work and believes that is correct he is certainly living in a land that does not exist. I, therefore, urge the House to accept this amendment to delete line 17 from the Bill. If the House does that, we can then sit down and make some further progress in bringing in a really valuable and worthwhile Bill in the interests of the livestock owners, the marts and those who use them.

Very briefly, I want to conclude on amendment No. 7 which stands in the names of Senator Stanford, Senator Ó Conalláin, Senator Jessop and myself. The amendment is put down solely to show the concern expressed in all independent and thinking quarters on the question of the anti-democratic nature of the power sought in this section, denying the right of appeal to the courts in a matter where obviously that appeal and the granting of the licence should rest with our courts.

I do not want to take very long on this, but I want to reiterate that the Incorporated Law Society cannot by any stretch of the imagination be regarded as a political body. Neither can the civil liberties group, or the co-operative marts or the associated marts. Yet, one and all of those groups have come out and above all, condemned it on leaving the granting of licences to the whim of the Minister and the pressures that can be exercised by local cumainn on the Minister, whatever Party he represents. That is wrong. It is a further indication of the political immaturity of the country as a whole, and a failure to develop along democratic lines which would give the groups concerned more and more responsibility for the organisation of their own affairs, and the carrying out of the work following from it.

Members who are not prepared to stand back from the system and look at it can be beguiled by various precedents or pseudo precedents. I do not want to go into them again, but I suggest that anyone concerned should have a chat with an agricultural instructor and he will be put right on those precedents. Surely that is within the reach of Senators on the opposite side who have spoken. Indeed, I think Senator Yeats would learn a lot if he came from Dublin and consulted people down the country. He would get to know the problems and grasp the difference. I would hope that after a week's instruction he might come back realising the difference between a pound of butter and a bullock.

Does the Senator know the difference between end products?

He would then have made some real progress. I hope that even at this late stage the Minister will show himself big enough for his post by having the courage to acknowledge that he is wrong, and withdrawing this measure, or alternatively if he will not take the proper course of withdrawal, that he will think it over calmly for the next six months. He should take the course which was endorsed by all the independent authorities that the licences should be given by the courts, the same as licences are given for supermarkets, dance halls, solicitors, auctioneers and various other groups. The courts should be allowed to function, and we should be proud that we have a judicial system, even if there is a glaring case of the need for urgent reform in that system to do away with political patronage which unfortunately is at the base of it. Let us accept it is far better that this work should be entrusted to the judiciary who have risen above the political patronage of their appointments and have proved themselves worthy of our confidence. They are capable of administering the licensing requirements in this Bill if the Minister insists on licences. I appeal to him even at this late stage to accept amendment No. 7. I am proud and happy to know that the last occasion we had such a full quota of university Senators endorsing an amendment here was during the debate on PR.

That was the time the Senator could not throw enough dirty water on the systems in Belfast and England.

We have done a service to the country by alerting them to the pitfalls and dangers, and to the anti-democratic nature of this proposal. I am happy that we have again taken our stand, and I hope that we have in some way shown what we think of this anti-democratic measure that has been introduced hastily and with such bad timing.

Now let battle begin.

I will speak only on the three amendments on the Order Paper, Nos. 4, 7 and 8. After two days' discussion we are still on section 1 of the Bill, so I do not know how long Senators opposite intend to delay this legislation by their superfluous talk. The first amendment, amendment No. 4, in the name of Senator O'Quigley, is to delete line 17. He did not say a word about this line which deals with the licensing of the marts. The second amendment is in the name of Senator Stanford, I am sorry to say, who usually talks intelligently in this House.

He is not making an intelligent recommendation in this amendment. He spoke fairly decently on it himself, but it was ruined by the superiority complex of his assistant, Senator Quinlan.

Remember he is a vocational Senator.

The subsections of the amendment are ridiculous. Subsection (2) of the amendment reads:

Such District Justice shall, at the time of the granting of the licence, attach to such licence such condition as he shall think proper and shall specify same in the licence.

How is he to know?

From the evidence to be given by the officers of the Minister.

Will you be quiet? Who is to give the evidence?

The officers of the Minister.

I do not want your interruptions or gesticulations.

The Senator should not ask questions if he does not want answers.

Acting Chairman

Questions are rhetorical.

Does the Senator realise how the courts operate?

Acting Chairman

Senator Quinlan frequently asks why people are allowed to interrupt. They are not.

I am dealing with the terminology of these amendments. At least amendment No. 8 in the name of Senator O'Quigley gives some reason and explanation for the system adopted but so far as amendment No. 7 is concerned, Senator Quinlan talks about a procedure of the court. On subsection (2) of the amendment I want to know how is the district justice to form his judgment? Who will give him any information? The Minister has a staff who can supply information. Has the district justice any means of getting information? Subsection (3) of the amendment provides:

The District Justice may, if he so thinks fit, amend or revoke a condition attached to a licence.

When, where, how or why? Who is to tell him? Who is to give him any information? These super intelligent members from the universities put this down in black and white as an amendment to an intelligent section on the Bill.

(Interruptions.)

I will not listen to you. I will not tolerate your interruptions. I want to point out that subsections (2), (3) and (4) of this amendment are nonsensical. They mean nothing and they could never operate before a district justice or anyone else. I will not listen to your interruptions.

The Senator has not got a legal training.

What did you get? Subsection (4) of the amendment provides:

Upon breach of a condition attached to a licence the holder of the licence shall be guilty of an offence.

They do not specify in any way how he is to get this information, how he is to amend or revoke, or why. Senator O'Quigley in his amendment does endeavour to lay down some line of procedure, but there is no line of procedure in this particular case. It is absurd to think that a district justice, hearing an application for a licence, would know all the circumstances and everything about the licence. There is no one to give him any statement. Subsection (4) reads: "Upon breach of a condition attached to a licence the holder of the licence shall be guilty of an offence." Could anything be more absurd than that? The unfortunate district justice will have to know something from somebody. Who is to give him the information of a breach of a licence? This amendment is tabled by these superior vocational university representatives here. It is a lot of nonsense and I am surprised at Senator Stanford but not a bit surprised at Senator Quinlan, remembering the supercilious attitude he adopts usually in these matters—he knows everything and we know nothing. The whole thing is absurd.

Amendment No. 8 is a lengthy one in the name of Senator O'Quigley and he, at least, indicates how the information is to be provided. I was often before justices in the district courts giving evidence on behalf of local authorities and on behalf of the Minister and I know something about this kind of thing. How are district justices to know in this particular case unless they get information from someone? The district justice is a most unsuitable person to try to implement this provision on his own. It is absurd to suggest that district justices should issue licences for marts, marts about which they know nothing, less indeed than Senator Quinlan knows about them.

That is what Fianna Fáil think of the courts.

Senator FitzGerald should read what Fine Gael thought of them about two years ago.

These are irrelevancies. Senator Quinlan mentioned end products, again in his usual supercilious fashion and said the same situation does not occur anywhere else. I made one trip to Holland. We were taken out to Friesland and shown the end products produced there. The Senator need not tell me they were not cattle, because they were not cattle, but they were the end products from licensed cattle marts. The one thing that struck me was who supervised the work of the 77 co-operatives providing the central authority and they explained to us that they had their marketing system all over the world, even in the Falkland Islands. I asked what check there was on those and I was told the Government check them all. Yet Senator Quinlan has the cheek to come along here and tell us they are allowed to do everything on their own. They cannot. There must be supervision. With regard to supervision then, who is to supervise but the Minister established democratically? I am speaking here as a public representative and a former official who had to implement legislation enacted by the Houses of the Oireachtas.

There has been a great deal of talk about this being done and that being done. Senators have a right to object but I know one occasion on which the Members of this House agreed that an emergency order in relation to the bombing of the North Strand should be altered, and it was altered. I do not know of any occasion since on which Members of the Oireachtas were so interested in the powers they have to bring up any of those orders and they are still there. Under the Milk and Dairies Act, which does not deal with creameries, there is more legislation through the medium of orders made by the Minister under the Act than there is in the Act itself. The same is true of the Diseases of Animals Act. The Act passed is really a codification of the law and it provides that the Minister may make orders to deal with this, that and the other.

As public representatives we have certain obligations on us and we have certain responsibilities. To come in here and suggest handing over to the district courts a duty which the courts are not able to fulfil shows utter irresponsibility. That is my final statement on that.

The front bench Fianna Fáil view of the courts.

District justices would not be capable of doing the work with anything like the efficiency of the Minister and his Department. There is just no comparison. I trust that the Opposition will not continue in that strain any further.

I tried to terminate the debate and the Senator started it all over again.

I have been speaking for five minutes and I have spoken to three amendments. I have explained why they are not suitable under our democratic system.

We did not take part in this debate yesterday or today because our amendments relate to section 3. However, I think the time has arrived when someone has to say something about the trend of the debate. We have to ask ourselves why it is this debate is likely to turn into a marathon unless someone takes drastic action to bring it to a close. We have been reasonable all along in our approach to this Bill. We believe there should be legislation to control marts but we do not believe that legislation is tremendously urgent. We also believe that certain amendments should be made. Senator Murphy moved an amendment and I am quite certain, from the reaction on the Fianna Fáil side of the House, that they are quite prepared to listen to his reasoning, but then, before the Minister had time to reply, Senator O'Quigley came in and announced that he would contest every single word. The challenge was thrown at the Minister and the Minister, being the man he is, fond of a fight, took up the challenge and said: "Word for word I will take you on". That is what has put us in the position we are in today.

We may find ourselves in the position that section 3 of this Bill may never be reached and that the amendments in which we are interested may never be discussed. We do not want to find ourselves in that position. We want to get just a fair crack of the whip and to make the suggestions that we have to make in a reasonable way. We are not playing a game for the NFA or anyone else. The NFA was no great good to the Labour Party. It was no great good to the Fianna Fáil Party. The Fine Gael Party did away with one type of representative in the county council, the Independent councillor. They did not harm any other Party but they got rid of the Independents. The success has apparently gone to their heads and they want to get all the public attention they can at present and they bring in some amendments which I consider absolutely and totally ridiculous. We spent a couple of hours speaking on two words "or otherwise".

I also blame the Leader of the Fianna Fáil Party for not accepting a proposal I made on last Thursday night that we should meet today at 3 o'clock and finish up tomorrow night with the Committee Stage. The Leader of the Fianna Fáil Party did not accept that proposition. Indeed, he had a way out in that I had accused the Government Party of using the guillotine in Dáil Éireann and I have said that I did not consider it right or proper for the Government Party to use the guillotine when legislation was being introduced which was not of an emergency type. There is no emergency about this legislation and it should be dealt with like every other Act of Parliament.

The Minister made great play of the fact that there were so many amendments to the Planning Act and it went through the Dáil without divisionset cetera but he approached the Planning Act in a much different way from the way he is approaching the Livestock Marts Bill. He is approaching the Livestock Marts Bill as if it were life or death. There is no life or death about it.

I should like to ask the Leader of the Fianna Fáil Party why he did not accept the proposal made by the Labour Party on Thursday night to meet today and conclude the Committee Stage tomorrow night, putting down reasonable amendments and withdrawing unreasonable amendments. I think the Government Party, if they had accepted that motion, could not have been accused of using the guillotine. We could have been accused of using the guillotine then. We were quite prepared to accept that responsibility. We wanted to curtail the debate on this Bill because there are several other people to be considered outside of the people who are in this House. We have the staff here who should be on holidays; we have several people here who have made arrangements to take their families to the Gaeltacht and various other places, and they cannot go, and what is it all for? It is all a little bit of spite between the Fine Gael Party and the Minister as a result of NFA activities.

I do not believe the House should have been held here. The Minister could have made a compromise by accepting the amendment we put down. He could have made a compromise by saying: "Let us deal with the Second Stage of the Bill and we will come back in September and do the Committee Stage. Bring in your amendments and deal with them and let them be sensible amendments." If that had been done, we should all be in a happier position here today. We may go on to Friday. Nothing will happen between now and Friday but people will lose their tempers and they will not be better friends anyway when they end up on Friday.

My suggestion is that there should be some approach to conclude the business. The Minister should give way some little bit, for instance, by saying that he would delay the Report Stage until September.

I should like to say in reference to what Senator McAuliffe has said that the proposition which was made on Thursday night was quite acceptable to me but I said it would be acceptable if the Fine Gael Party accepted it. If the Senator remembers, I recall that Senator Garret FitzGerald said that he felt he could not give any such undertaking. The proposition was quite acceptable to me.

May I say in reply to that, that last night when the Leader of the House put the proposition here, he put it to a vote. Why were we not called on to vote on the proposal made on Thursday night? I think that when a Member of the House makes a proposal and gets a seconder, he is entitled to get the opportunity of having a vote on the proposition. It struck me that the Leader of the House did not want this debate to conclude. He wanted it to drag out and fall down.

Acting Chairman

This seems to be a discussion on something that is not before the House.

I have Thursday's Official Report.

Acting Chairman

I am putting amendment No. 4 in the name of Senator John B. O'Quigley "To delete line 17". The fate of amendment No. 8 will depend on the decision in regard to amendment No. 4 but the fate of amendment No. 7 will not. It may have a separate decision if the Senators moving it wish, but there will be no further debate on it. To make this clear also and to avoid any confusion, I am going to put the motion to the House in the form "That the words proposed to be deleted stand".

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand part of the section".
The Committee divided: Tá, 30; Níl, 13.

  • Ahern, Liam
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brennan, John J.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Cole, John C.
  • Connolly O'Brien, Nora.
  • Dolan, Séamus.
  • Eachthéirn, Cáit Uí.
  • Egan, Kiernan P.
  • Farrell, Joseph.
  • Fitzsimons, Patrick.
  • Flanagan, Thomas P.
  • Honan, Dermot P.
  • McGlinchey, Bernard.
  • McGowan, Patrick.
  • Martin, James J.
  • Nash, John Joseph.
  • Ó Donnabháin, Seán.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • Ó Maoláin, Tomás.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick (Longford).
  • Ormonde, John.
  • O'Sullivan, Ted.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Patrick W.
  • Ryan, William.
  • Sheldon, William A.W.
  • Teehan, Patrick J.
  • Yeats, Michael.

Níl

  • Conlon, John F.
  • Crowley, Patrick.
  • FitzGerald, Garret M.D.
  • Fitzgerald, John.
  • McAuliffe, Timothy.
  • McDonald, Charles.
  • McHugh, Vincent.
  • Malone, Patrick.
  • Murphy, Dominick F.
  • O'Quigley, John B.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick (Cavan).
  • Prendergast, Michael A.
  • Quinlan, Patrick M.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Browne and Farrell; Níl, Senators Malone and McDonald.
Amendment No. 8 not moved.
Questions declared carried.

Amendment No. 8 falls.

I understand that the amendment is put.

Question put: "That section 1 stand part of the Bill".
The Committee divided: Tá, 30; Níl, 9.

  • Ahern, Liam
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brennan, John J.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Cole, John C.
  • Connolly O'Brien, Nora.
  • Honan, Dermot P.
  • McGlinchey, Bernard.
  • McGowan, Patrick.
  • Martin, James J.
  • Nash, John Joseph.
  • Ó Donnabháin, Seán
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • Ó Maoláin, Tomás.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick (Longford).
  • Dolan, Séamus.
  • Eachthéirn, Cáit Uí.
  • Egan, Kiernan P.
  • Farrell, Joseph.
  • Fitzsimons, Patrick.
  • Flanagan, Thomas P.
  • Ormonde, John,
  • O'Sullivan, Ted.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Patrick W.
  • Ryan, William.
  • Sheldon, William A. W.
  • Teehan, Patrick J.
  • Yeats, Michael.

Níl

  • Conlon, John F.
  • McDonald, Charles.
  • McHugh, Vincent.
  • Malone, Patrick.
  • O'Quigley, John B.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick (Cavan).
  • Prendergast, Michael A.
  • Quinlan, Patrick M.
  • Rooney, Éamon.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Browne and Farrell; Níl, Senators Malone and McDonald.
Question declared carried.
Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7.15 p.m.
SECTION 2.
Amendments Nos. 5 and 6 not moved.
Question proposed: "That section 2 stand part of the Bill."

In the course of the discussion yesterday, a question was raised, which the Minister has not yet answered, as to whether weekly or fortnightly pig sales in provincial towns, usually held in a yard attached to some business premises, would be regarded as livestock mart sales. There is a grave risk of a severe injustice being inflicted on a certain section of the community, if they are deprived of this service, a service which has been available for many years and which serves a wide area in each provincial town, where the farmers can bring in their pigs to either the weekly or fortnightly market and have them sold there, either by hand or by auction, to buyers, usually representatives from the bacon factories.

If these are to constitute sales at livestock marts, not only will the people be deprived of that service, but should the proprietors decide to comply with the regulations and bring them up to the required standard, the cost involved would mean that the people concerned would decide it was not worth the amount of money involved and would drop the idea altogether, with severe consequential hardship on a great many people. Therefore, I oppose the section.

There are a few matters arising on this section which I should like the Minister to deal with. Under section 3 (8), existing livestock marts are to be automatically granted licences but only if, in relation to the place where the business is carried on, the regulations made under the Act are complied with. It will be an offence under section 2 to carry on the business of a livestock mart unless there is a licence in force in respect of the place. There are in existence livestock marts which will be of a size, design and will have such arrangements as regards ventilation, heating, lighting and accommodation as are prescribed in paragraphs (e) and (f) of section 6 (2), but whose owners may never be able to comply with whatever specifications are laid down in the regulations.

I can see that the Minister will delay the making of an order putting section 2 (1) into operation so as to enable certain marts to go about complying with the regulations. What will happen to the owners of a mart which, because of its size and design, is not capable physically of being made to comply with the regulations? That is the first question. I do not know what will happen to the owners of such a mart. It may be there will be marts of such size and design that economically it would not be feasible, without pulling down the whole thing, to comply with the regulations made under section 6.

Then, in relation to the marts that will qualify as regards maintenance, cleansing, ventilation, minor types of renovation and repairs, for how long is it intended to delay the coming into operation of subsection (1)? The Minister would have a discretion to appoint the order for a certain day. Could he indicate, in terms of months or years, when the section would come into operation?

Senator Malone expressed fears in regard to the sale of pigs in a yard, as might be affected by section 2. I do not quite understand whether or not he means that there are such places that have been adapted for the sale by auction of pigs or other livestock. Is this the kind of place he has in mind or just a yard in which pigs are now traded in, not necessarily by auction? I am rather at a loss to know which he has in mind.

There are yards where the pigs are sold by auction and by hand.

Is it commonly regarded as a pig mart at the moment?

It is not? Then, until we see the actual case, it would be very difficult to be specific. It would have to stand on the merits of the procedure there, the practice there. It would be very difficult indeed to say, offhand, that this, that or the other operation that might be going on at the moment comes within the terms of the measure.

If the practice heretofore has been that pigs were sold under the hammer, will they not automatically come under the terms of the Bill?

Perhaps the Minister would say whether this is what is provided for under section 4. Section 4 is something I could not understand, but, having heard what Senator Malone has just said, perhaps the Minister has in mind the making of exemptions under section 4.

One of the things in regard to these regulations is that the regulations themselves can indeed be used to define times within which certain things might be done—in other words, within the regulations, it can be stated that a particular time or times would be given in particular affirmations in relation to changes which might be necessary. Without wishing to anticipate the debate on the actual section, I would say that the two marts associations—the co-operative and the private marts associations—have agreed that they will help me with these draft regulations and lend the use of their experience to me and my Department in the drafting of these regulations. Therefore, we should be apprised pretty clearly by those operating the marts as to reasonable times to attain certain things that might be demanded under the Bill, when enacted, and that might not be provided in existing marts. To give times is not possible at this stage but these times and delays, as it were, of the actual impact of the Bill, when enacted, in certain instances will be determined in consultation with the two marts associations who have already agreed to lend us their aid in this particular direction.

Could the Minister say whether he has been in communication with the Livestock Marts Association since the last time a statement went into the newspapers from that Association in relation to this Marts Bill? I gather from the Minister now that he has been consulting with them since then in relation to this Bill.

If the Senator gathered that, he gathered wrongly. However, it is a fact that this was agreed to by both associations separately in their talks with me. Not only were they anxious to be consulted in these draft regulations and the content of them, but I also was very happy that they should agree to lend their knowledge and experience to me and to my Department in the final drafting of the regulations. In spite of what newspapers or others who talk may have caused to be published in the newspapers, I have no reason to believe that either of these marts associations will not act in the manner which they promised at that particular time.

Senator Murphy asked if section 4 might be relevant to the problem raised by Senator Malone. It is possible that, under this exemption section, matters that could not otherwise be dealt with reasonably may well be brought in under the exemptions as being the way to deal with them. It is terribly difficult to be specific or definitive in regard to the Bill, when enacted, on hypothetical cases.

I am reading from theCork Examiner of 8th July, 1967. It is a statement issued by the Associated Livestock Marts of Ireland on 7th July, 1967. It reads:

The case presented by the marts can be summarised under three main headings:

(1) the Associated Livestock Marts' of Ireland great concern at the excessive power which the proposed legislation was giving the Minister;

(2) that there was no appeal to the courts;

(3) that the marts' freedom to conduct their own business in their own way was being undermined.

Were these very points taken up with the Minister in his recent discussions?

I think the best thing I can do is to nail this bogey where it belongs, once and for all. I have here a document which I mentioned in the Dáil but which I refrained from using at that time because it was not my property but which I shall now read as such use has been made of alleged statements by the Associated Livestock Marts. It is a report of a meeting with the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries which was held in the offices of the Department on Friday, 30th June, 1967, at 4 p.m. This is a report by the Associated Livestock Marts of Ireland of that meeting—not my report. It reads as follows:

The executive committee of the Associated Livestock Marts of Ireland met the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr. Neil T. Blaney, T.D. and senior officers of his Department on Friday, 30th June, 1967, to discuss the Livestock Marts Bill, 1967. The marts' team was led by Colonel B. F. Blood, Chairman.

The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere throughout and the Minister expressed his desire to appreciate our point of view and to allay our fears as far as possible. The case presented by the marts can be summarised under three headings:—

(1) our great concern at the excessive power which proposed legislation was giving the Minister;

(2) that there was no appeal to the courts;

(3) that our freedom to do our own business in our own way was being undermined.

In addition, we expressed strong objections to the severity of the penalties, as proposed in the Bill. We also pointed out that the regulations which have yet to be drafted should be reasonable and realistic and that there should be a general statement of conditions rather than that conditions attached to one licence should vary from those of another.

In replying to the marts' case, the Minister said this Bill was drafted in the normal way and that it was not the intention to have anything sinister in it. Many other pieces of legislation already enacted had given similar powers to the Ministers concerned. He would very much appreciate, he said, if the Marts' Association would be available for further consultations with regard to the drafting of the regulations.

With regard to the right of appeal, he himself felt that, as far as possible, there should be this right of appeal to someone other than the Minister. He would be prepared to do this in all matters except in the case where marts refused to stay open for business or where they discriminated against patrons for what were clearly to be seen to be other than ordinary commercial reasons. Continuing, he said, as far as the exemptions in section 4 were concerned, this referred to dispersal sales and sales conducted by the RDS and did not mean that some marts could continue in business with different standards from the general body of marts.

With regard to section 6, the Minister said he appreciated that mart-owners needed freedom to use their discretion with regard to certain individuals; it was his intention to preserve this freedom. As far as the requirements of Section 6 were concerned, it was intended that the regulations should be reasonable and that every mart would be given ample time with regard to any changes they might have to make.

On section 7, the mart team expressed strong resentment on subsection (1) (b), i.e. on the power of an official of the Minister to take a member of the Garda Síochána with him to the mart. The Minister said, on reflection, he was prepared to knock this provision out entirely. On (c) of subsection (1) the Minister said he appreciated the fears of marts with regard to the production of certain documents and he said he would go out of his way to make it clear that it was only those documents relating to the movements of cattle that could be examined and that certainly the marts' accounts would not be looked at. He could absolutely guarantee that there would be no fear that this would be used for taxation purposes.

On subsection (1) (e), the mart representatives expressed concern that the Minister's officer should seek information from any person whom the officer believed to be employed on the premises. The Minister said he recognised that this was undesirable, and he was quite prepared to amend this to read "responsible person", i.e. the owner or manager, and that only in the event of the "responsible person" obviously not co-operating with the officer would he then question a subordinate person.

On section 8, the marts' team stressed that the penalties suggested were highly excessive, and that while it was recognised that the courts would be dealing with this matter, it might, nevertheless, mislead the court into imposing a heavier fine or penalty than the case, in justice, warranted, because of the maximum penalty being £1,000 or 6 months in jail or both. The Minister undertook to review this point.

On section 8, subsection (2), it was clarified that if an organisation such as our own commented publicly on some incident in relation to this legislation, we would not be committing an offence under the Act.

Fidelity Bond

The Minister said it was his intention to see that farmers would be protected in future in any case where a mart ran into financial difficulties. He recognised that there were a number of ways in which this protection could be provided. At the request of mart representatives he said he was quite prepared to afford them an opportunity of coming up with their own scheme for this purpose, and provided that it afforded the protection which he had in mind, he would certainly accept it.

Licensing

All existing marts would be automatically entitled to a licence.

This concluded the meeting.

That is dated 3/7/67.

The last sentence of what the Minister read out means that all existing marts would be automatically entitled to a licence. That is a fairly accurate reproduction of that last sentence. I take it that the Minister does not dissent from the accuracy of that part of the report? That is the impression that is being conveyed, but that is not what is in the Bill.

Maybe the Senator is confusing it with the amendment. The amendment is very confusing anyway; I know that. The amendment proposed by some of his colleagues is most misleading in this regard.

We will come back to that later on. Subsection (8) does say that:

Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, a person who carries on the business of a livestock mart at any place and who, immediately before the passing of this Act, carried on that business at that place, shall, if in relation to the place, the regulations under this Act are complied with, be entitled to be granted a licence in respect of the place.

That is quite a different thing to what is stated in that report, that all existing livestock marts will be automatically entitled to a licence. They certainly will not be automatically entitled; they will have to comply with the regulations. I submit that if the regulations in regard to size and design—which are something about which the livestock marts cannot do anything—do not comply with the regulations, then they will not and cannot legally be given a licence by the Minister. I think that is true and the Minister should clarify that so that people afterwards cannot say he has left them with a wrong impression. Existing livestock marts can only get a licence if they comply with the regulations and the interpretation of whatever the Minister said by the marts association, which drafted that report, is not correct. It is not correct to say that all existing marts will automatically get licences. It may well be that that will turn out to be so, that all of them will comply with the regulations which will be made in relation to design and size, but I am not at all satisfied that it will be so. If they do not comply with the regulations, and they were unable to do so without tremendous cost, then they are automatically excluded by section 2 from carrying on that business.

Lest anybody goes chasing this hare, I want to say that Senator O'Quigley is, as it were, in his own mind drafting the regulations and has them drafted when he speaks as he has spoken. The regulations will take care of this. It is quite true that what is recorded here is a synopsis of what was given to these people to understand, that those marts in operation, which have been carrying on business before the passing of this Act, will be granted licences. In so far as the regulations are concerned, those regulations may have application at a date ahead, all of them or part of them. This is a matter that will be discussed with these marts associations in regard to whatever regulations may be made, as to their impact in regard to marts generally, whether they can be applied now or in one month's time or in six months or a year, from now, in whole or in part. This is what they were told and what in fact is intended and what is capable of being done in that manner and will be done.

Will the Minister be able to attach different conditions to existing marts, such as that in six months time, one will have to have installed lighting and ventilation facilities? Do I understand that in no circumstances will the Minister attach such conditions to the licences to be issued to existing marts as would make it economically impossible for them to continue in business? I am trying to ensure that in relation to the physical aspect of the buildings, there will not be any condition which will involve such alteration as would make it uneconomic for the mart owners and that this will not be applied in one year's time or two years' time.

It would be quite wrong of me to say categorically that no case could arise wherein the economics of bringing a mart premises up to the standards of the general run of marts would cost too much. I cannot say that. I would hope this would not be the case. I cannot categorically say it will not happen in the way the Senator presented it. Getting back to the regulations, too much emphasis is being placed on a particular mart. Perhaps this was unintentional. Certainly it was not my intention to have separate regulations to apply to each mart. General regulations will apply to all marts in a general way. As to the date on which they will apply to existing marts which will be licensed straight away, this is something which will have to be gone into and examined in regard to the time for any part of the regulations to be effective and on what date they should become effective. What would be fair and reasonable in respect of the changes brought about by the regulations, what would be a reasonable time to give—all this will have to be given very thorough consideration.

It is my intention that this will be the sort of approach we will have to this matter, being the reasonable thing to do. We do not want to bring in regulations that will immediately put on the spot half the marts of the country. We have no intention of wiping them out or making the changes so onerous that it would not pay them to carry them out. Clearly, that would be lunacy on my part and I have no intention of going in that direction. I will be consulting with the Marts Association in regard to these things and no doubt will hear from them at first hand what would be regarded as a reasonable time for certain requirements to be applied generally which at present may be operated at only a few marts, how long it would take, what would be the cost and what would be a reasonable time to allow before this would be actually obligatory on them. This could apply to all or part of the regulations. The dates on which they would come into operation, or on which any part of the regulations would come into operation, would not be the same. We can deal with it on the basis of what is reasonable and fair and what could be expected from the mart owners.

Is there not a difficulty in catering for the different sizes there? Obviously, an installation that has cost £200,000 can afford more superior standards and equipment than a small mart in a poor part of the country. It would seem difficult to draft regulations and standards that would apply overall. Would the Minister consider having different standards for different sizes of installations?

I am still not satisfied in regard to the regulations and licences the Minister proposes to introduce. Subsection (1) says:

A person shall not carry on the business of a livestock mart at any place unless there is for the time being a licence in force in respect of that place.

When we read that in conjunction with the definition section, I should like an assurance from the Minister that the one-day events I have referred to, annual shows and sales of pedigree cattle in particular, will be allowed. These shows and sales are held all over the country and still serve a very important purpose. The Minister might allay the fears of the House by giving us some idea of his intentions in regard to these events. There are not so many of them but yet there are a few in each county. It has been the pattern of Irish farming that they have been patronised over the years and have served the country well in improving the quality and standard of Irish stock. Would the Minister give the House an assurance that these one-day events—the annual sales of pedigree cattle held on farms—will be exempted under the regulations?

It is the general intention under this exemption section that we can deal with that very type of operation which is, as the Senator says, the occasional or annual show. These are the things we have in mind for the exemptions.

Where there is a county show and sale organised by a committee or some pedigree owners have an annual sale of heifers, that would be allowed?

Whether it is an individual or a group, the committee of a co-operative movement or a number of individuals, would not enter into the matter at all. It would be the occasion rather than who was organising it that would be relevant. We would hope to have dispersal sales and clearance sales brought within the terms of the exemptions.

They are already covered in the definition section?

That is the whole point. By the definition section embracing certain things we do not want to take in, it means that we have to use this device to bring them out again. You might ask: "Why not leave them out of the definition section?" Our whole problem from a drafting point of view is to bring in all we want to bring in and to ensure that we do not bring in, as has happened in many other Bills, more than we wish to do. There are many fringe elements we do not want to bring in, so the exemption section device is the usual way out. That is why it is here—to rid ourselves of things which might be inadvertently there but which we do not want to catch.

Question put and declared lost.
NEW SECTION.

I move amendment No. 7:

Before section 3 to insert a new section as follows:

"(1) Applications of or on behalf of a person who proposes to carry on the business of a livestock mart at a specified place, shall be made to a District Justice having jurisdiction in the District Court area wherein it is proposed to carry on such business.

(2) Such District Justice shall, at the time of the granting of the licence, attach to such licence such conditions as he shall think proper and shall specify same in the licence.

(3) The District Justice may, if he so thinks fit, amend or revoke a condition attached to a licence.

(4) Upon breach of a condition attached to a licence the holder of the licence shall be guilty of an offence.

(5) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, a person who carries on the business of a livestock mart at any place and who, immediately before the passing of this Act, carried on that business at that place, shall, if in relation to the place, the regulations under this Act are complied with, be entitled to be granted a licence in respect of the place."

Question put and declared lost.
Amendment No. 8 not moved.

I move amendment No. 9:

In subsection (1), line 27, before "who" to insert "or an unincorporated body of persons."

The reason I move this amendment is that in section 8 of the Bill there is a reference to a "body corporate" and in subsection (2) to "an unincorporated body of persons". It seems to me that one of the fundamental principles of good drafting is to use the same term or phrase throughout a Bill. The position is quite clear as far as the Interpretation Act is concerned, because that provides the meaning of particular words that occur frequently in different Acts. In the Interpretation Act of 1937, in section 11, the word "person" when occurring in any enactment of the Oireachtas:

... shall, unless the contrary intention appears, be construed as importing a body corporate (whether a corporation aggregate or a corporation sole) and an unincorporated body of persons as well as an individual.

Equally, it is provided in the same section 11, dealing with the singular and plurals:

Every word importing the singular shall, unless the contrary intention appears, be construed as if it also imported the plural...

andvice versa. The reason I am bringing in the unincorporated body of persons here in section 3 is that there is a reference to an unincorporated body of persons in section 8, and if the Interpretation Act were allowed to have its effect upon this particular enactment of the Oireachtas, no difficulty and no ambiguity would arise but when in section 3 you refer to a person and in section 8 refer to a person and a body corporate and an unincorporated body of persons, you certainly are introducing an unnecessary ambiguity. It is in order, therefore, to ensure that unincorporated bodies of persons, which would be friendly societies and co-operative societies, would be entitled to apply for and obtain a licence that I suggest that “a person or unincorporated body of persons who propose to carry on the business” should be the reading of section 3 subsection (1). As I say, no difficulty would arise if the Interpretation Act were allowed to have its effect upon the Bill and “unincorporated body of persons” were not introduced in subsection (2) of section 8. It seems to me that it would make it entirely clear that an unincorporated body would be entitled to apply for and obtain a licence if it is put in here in section 3, subsection (1).

On this matter I have inquired very assiduously and the situation is far from what the Senator has said. If the Interpretation Act were to be imported into subsection (2) of section 8, this would lead, I am assured, to utter confusion.

In section 8, subsection (2) at the moment, the words "person, body corporate and unincorporated body of persons", are being used in their ordinary meaning and not as per the Interpretation Act, and this is allowable, and in fact, is provided for in the Interpretation Act under section 11 (c). Section 11 (c) of the Interpretation Act gives the ways and means where we might depart. Briefly, it says, "unless the contrary intention appears". That is stated in the Interpretation Act of 1937 at section 11 (c) and, as I say if we were to import the Interpretation Act into section 8, subsection (2) of this Bill, we would not make for clarity but rather for confusion. As I say, I have checked this very, very critically and have been advised accordingly that this is, in fact, what the outcome would be.

I do not know whether the Minister has been entirely correctly advised because, whether we like it or not and whether the Minister intends it or not, or the parliamentary draftsman intends it or not, the Interpretation Act does, in fact, have application unless the contrary intention appears. The plain truth of the matter is that the Interpretation Act applies throughout the whole of this Bill and "person" in subsection (1) of section 3 would mean what is stated in the Interpretation Act, that is to say, it is to be construed as importing a body corporate, whether a corporation aggregate or a corporation sole and an unincorporated body of persons as well as an individual. There is no contrary intention in section 3, subsection (1) that "person" shall mean other than what is stated in clause (c) of section 11 of the Interpretation Act but the confusion arises because the parliamentary draftsman, perhaps, has taken this particular section from some other precedent and he goes on to spell out who is to be deemed guilty of an offence.

If he had said "where an offence under this Act is committed by a person" that would clearly include a body corporate whether a corporation aggregate or a corporation sole and an unincorporated body of persons as well as an individual, by virtue of the Interpretation Act of 1937. There would be no necessity whatever, and there is no necessity, to put it into subsection (2) of section 8 because the Interpretation Act takes effect automatically and it is because of the confusion of putting it in in section 8 and leaving it out in section 3 that afterwards the Minister's advisers may say: "Oh, well, Minister, that may be so, that that is what the parliamentary draftsman said but we do not think, Minister, that you can do this." It is to remove that that I think either you delete all these surplus words in subsection (2) of section 8 because they are already imported into the section by the Interpretation Act or, alternatively, to make sure that co-operative societies are entitled to get the licence, you accept the amendment I suggest.

I think perhaps what the Senator is after is that if we take section 11 (c) of the Interpretation Act, which defines the word "person" as follows:

The word "person" shall, unless the contrary intention appears, be construed as importing a body corporate (whether a corporation aggregate or a corporation sole) and an unincorporated body of persons as well as an individual;

That is what "person" means under that Interpretation Act but where I feel the Senator is going wrong is that he is trying to say that if "person" means that, all these things together can be reversed and mean "person", and that is not so. I think this is really what is being said here.

Is the amendment withdrawn?

Amendment put and declared lost.
Amendment No. 10 not moved.

Amendments Nos. 11, 15, 17, 18, 19 and 22.

I move amendment No. 11:

In subsection (1) to delete all words from and including "may" where it secondly occurs in line 30 to the end of the subsection and substitute "shall grant a licence authorising the carrying on of the business of a livestock mart at that place provided the applicant complies with regulations made by the Minister".

I am glad the temperature of this debate has gone down before we start on these amendments because I was hoping that we would approach the matter in a more reasonable mind. I am moving amendment No. 11 and discussing with it some other amendments, as you said—15, 17, 18, 19 and 22. These are mainly the amendments put down by the Labour Party Senators, some of which have been supported by some of the Fine Gael Senators. The support is welcome, I suppose.

We are dealing here with a Bill as described in its Title:

An Act to provide for the control and regulation by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries of livestock marts and the sale of livestock at such marts...

The point I want to make is that it is "for the control and regulation by the Minister". This is what the Bill sets out to provide. The Bill has been given a Second Reading by the Seanad. So, taking that situation, that the Seanad has agreed that the Minister should regulate livestock marts, we are accepting that as the case and what we are doing is saying: "Right; if these must be regulated, and the Seanad has agreed that they should be regulated, they should be regulated in such a way that there will be a fair measurement given to all the marts and all people who propose in future to set up the business of cattle marts."

I want to direct the attention of the Seanad to the wording of section 3 and the other sections which it is proposed to amend by the other amendments we are discussing simultaneously. It will be seen that in section 3 we are providing that "the Minister may at his discretion, grant or refuse to grant a licence authorising the carrying on of the business of a livestock mart at that place." Subsection (2) says:

The Minister may, at the time of the granting of a licence, attach to the licence such conditions as he shall think proper and shall specify in the licence.

Subsection (3) says:

The Minister may, if he so thinks fit, amend or revoke a condition attached to a licence.

Subsection (5) says:

Where the holder of a licence is guilty of any offence under this Act, the Minister may, if he so thinks fit, revoke the licence.

The Minister was making great play with precedents for this Ministerial authority, and he was mentioning, in particular, the Creamery Act, 1928, where this wording seems to have originated. In section 14 of that Act, we find the same sort of situation:

(1) It shall not be lawful for any person after the expiration of one month from the passing of this Act to maintain a creamery to which this section applies unless such person is authorised so to do by licence granted by the Minister under this section.

(2) The Minister may, if he so thinks fit——

There is a familiar ring about those words.

——grant to any person a licence to maintain a specified creamery to which this section applies subject to such (if any) conditions as the Minister shall specify in such licence.

This is the wording which is brought into this Bill that we now have before us, and the Minister, incidentally, is justifying asking for all this power and all this authority by reason of precedents which exist in previous Acts, and the first of those he mentioned was the 1928 Act. I suppose when you come to draft any Bill you look back and see what wording was used previously and this sort of thing carries on from Act to Act. However, in the same section I was reading from, section 14 of the 1928 Act, there is a further subsection, subsection (4):

This section applies to any creamery which, on or after the 1st day of January, 1928, and before the passing of this Act, either was opened for the first time for the carrying on of creamery business therein or was re-opened for the carrying on of creamery business after a period during which such business was not carried on therein and also applies to any creamery the business of which was, on or after the 1st day of January, 1928, and before the passing of this Act, extended by the addition thereto of a class, branch, or department of creamery business not then carried on in such creamery.

These very exceptional powers which were written into an Act in 1928 were in relation to a limited period and in respect of creameries which were set up or acquired in the interval between 1st January of that year and the passing of the Creamery Act, 1928. When we look at the Creamery Act of that year and the purpose of it, we shall understand why it was necessary to take these special powers, because the Title of that Act reads:

An Act to make provision for the more effective regulation and control in certain respects of the dairying industry and persons and co-operative societies engaged therein with a view to the better re-organisation of that industry and for other matters connected with such reorganisation.

It was an Act to provide for the rationalisation of the creamery industry and, judging by the Schedules to that Act, it was something which was asked for by the creamery industry generally. In the First Schedule there is mention of the fact that:

...WHEREAS in the year 1926 the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society, Limited, with a view to aiding the Dairying Industry in Ireland, opened negotiations for the acquisition of the business and undertakings of the Condensed Milk Company of Ireland (1924), Limited, and of the Newmarket Dairy Company, Limited, to the end that redundant creameries might be eliminated with resultant benefit to the Dairying Industry...

Redundant creameries were, apparently, being eliminated, and it was quite understandable that, in the interval between the legislation being talked of and its final enactment, get-rich-quick smart chaps who acquired a creamery or proceeded to set up a creamery in order to get compensation or to get bought over, should be prevented from doing so. That is quite clearly the reason why these very special powers were taken in the 1928 Act where in section 14 it was provided, as I said, that the Minister may grant a licence and may attach a condition to such a licence. That only applied in very special circumstances and, quite obviously, to a very limited group, to people who, in the interval between the intention to rationalise the creamery industry and the final enactment of the legislation, might try to step in and get money by way of compensation by being acquired as a redundant creamery.

The Minister made great play of that. I have not had a chance of checking on the other Acts he mentioned but it is important that we should look at the first one where this type of wording originated. It originated in the 1928 Creamery Act and I am making the point that it related to a specific problem and I suggest we would all have agreed, if we were there in 1928, that it was the proper way of dealing with that problem at that time.

However, that is not the problem we are dealing with in regard to livestock marts. There is no question of rationalising them, of abolishing or removing redundant marts, there are no special funds involved. I accept it is desirable we should regulate the conduct of these marts and that there should be proper standards of hygiene. Marts deal with a very important industry and I accept it is quite right that they should deal with all customers equally and should not attempt to boycott certain individuals who might not agree with the majority at any time in any place. That would be wrong and the Minister is right in stepping in if that has occurred and saying: "We shall have to regulate the conduct of the livestock marts and I must take the necessary authority to enable me to do so".

We in the Labour Party accept that and we agree to give the Minister this power. On Second Reading, what we said was: "It is not desirable we should go ahead at this time because of the possibility of further worsening relations with the farming community". We thought that was more important than the necessity or desirability of regulating the conduct of the business of livestock marts. Our amendment on Second Reading was defeated.

We are now dealing with the Committee Stage and what we are saying very generally in our amendments is that the Minister should make regulations, that anybody who complies with them should be thereby empowered to set up the business of a livestock mart. There should be rules and they should apply to everybody equally: it should not be the case, as provided for in the Bill, that the Minister may at his discretion grant a licence and that he may, again at his discretion, attach any conditions to a licence and, in a later subsection, that he may vary the conditions, revoke the conditions.

We suggest he is thereby taking too much power. He would not be seen to deal equally with all the people involved because he could attach one condition to one mart and another condition to a neighbouring mart. We say that is wrong. We say there should be proper standards of hygiene, as is envisaged in later sections of the Bill, but we say these standards should attach to all marts equally and that the Minister should not be in a position to discriminate against certain people because he may not like them, because they may irritate him or because they may not have the proper political pull.

I do not think it is any insult to anybody in the sort of society in which we live, with political Parties, to suggest that political pull is relevant and effective. Of course, it is. We all know that and accept it as a fact of life. Many of us regret it but there it is. If you can use sufficient influence you can get more consideration than the person who has not the same sort of political influence. The Minister, being a good politician himself, will not take umbrage at the suggestion that that is a fact of life in Ireland today. One of his colleagues, I think it was the Minister for Education, made the remark about some being more equal than others.

That is what we in the Labour Party want to avoid in relation to the business of livestock marts. We say it is right and proper that they should be regulated in the interests of the very important industries in which they are engaged, particularly in the interests of the farmers, their customers. We say there should not be any discrimination against one farmer by the operators of a mart, but we emphasise that the conditions should be equal and that the Minister should not appear to discriminate or be put in the temptation of discriminating between one mart operator and another.

That is why, in amendment No. 11, we provide not that the Minister may grant a licence but that the Minister shall grant a licence authorising the carrying on of the business of a livestock mart, provided the applicant complies with regulations made by the Minister. That is the main burden of these amendments: we are trying to take out this freedom, if that is the proper expression, to discriminate between one mart operator and another. We want to provide that the Minister shall make regulations. We are giving him the authority to say what are the minimum requirements in regard to marts and then, providing that anybody, whatever his colour, religion, political affiliations, comes up to the minimum requirements laid down by the Minister and wants to engage in the business of a livestock mart, he must be given a licence to do so.

The Minister may argue that we shall have the situation then in which there may be too many livestock marts. This Bill does not set out to deal with that problem at all. We are not dealing with the problem of redundant cattle marts. Nobody has suggested there are too many. They are a commercial business and if anybody bites off more than he can chew, if he thinks he can put another out of business, that is all right. We accept that position and the Minister does not pretend he wants to deal with that problem. What he is doing here is seeking authority to make regulations and to apply these regulations and conditions at his sole discretion to different operators.

It is useless for the Minister or anybody else to say: "I would not do that. I will not discriminate. I will apply the regulations equally all round." What I am saying is that we should not give him authority to discriminate. We are dealing with an important piece of legislation and I hope I shall get the support of many Senators to ensure that regulations, once made by the Minister, will apply to all equally so that we shall not have a situation in which the Minister may make an exception of one particular man, letting him get a licence even though he does not come up to the regulations, and on the contrary attaching a condition to one licence which might be onerous and which might not attach to a competitor. We suggest that is wrong and that it should not be allowed in legislation.

Let me come to another aspect of this section, if I may deal with it on this amendment. In one of our amendments we propose to delete subsection (6) of section 3. Senators may wonder why. That becomes redundant if we accept the principle I have been advocating of having minimum conditions and applying them to all equally so that anybody who complies with these minimum conditions must get a licence and anybody who does not cannot be given a licence. If that were so, there would be no question of providing for the type of appeal mentioned in subsection (6) of section 3. That point has already been made and I need not labour it now.

In regard to the barrister who is asked to make a report to the Minister, there is no provision that his inquiry will be published, and there is no provision that the report he makes to the Minister will be published, or even given to the person who applies. I may be wrong in that last part. The person who conducts the inquiry reports to the Minister, and the Minister can suppress the report, and take no account of it. He is not bound to act on it, or accept it. The person simply reports to the Minister and that is as far as this legislation goes.

Let us go back to paragraph (b) of section 3:

Whenever the Minister proposes to revoke a licence because of a contravention of regulations under section 6 of this Act prescribing any matter specified in paragraphs (e) to (i) of section 6 (2) of this Act...

It is (e) to (i). What about (a) to (d)? These are exempt. It seems to me that these are the ones which might be subjected to an inquiry or examination because (e) to (i) deal with physical requirements as to the design, maintenance, repair, cleaning and accommodation. Further on there is something about hygienic and veterinary requirements, but these seem to be matters which are factual. Either they are correct or they are not, and the person whose licence is threatened with revocation can readily prove whether he has kept in line with the requirements laid down by the Minister. Paragraphs (a) to (d) are the ones on which there might be some doubt, and on which a legal mind might conduct an inquiry.

For example paragraph (b) provides:

——that entries for such auctions shall not be refused except in circumstances prescribed in the regulations,

In other words, there is the discrimination I was talking about earlier between one farmer and another, between one customer and another. It appears to me that this is a matter about which doubt might exist. There might be a difference of opinion as to whether or not discrimination was exercised, and a particular farmer might feel he was discriminated against. There might be a conflict of evidence and opinion on this and if there were to be an appeal I would have thought it was on this sort of aspect that the appeal would lie, and not upon the physical things in a livestock mart.

The Minister has very deliberately kept paragraphs (a) to (b) from going to appeal and, again, he is keeping the sole discretion and authority to himself in a matter which might involve a dispute between a farmer and an operator of a mart, on whether in fact there was discrimination, whether a bid was properly taken, and different things like that. The Minister clearly is keeping the right to himself to make a judgment and to revoke or not to revoke the licence of a mart operator.

We are saying: "Look; accept our amendment. Lay down that minimum regulations are necessary and give the right to anyone who complies with these minimum regulations to be given a licence or to retain a licence", and this section which I think is redundant anyway—it is not a very good section—would not be necessary. A number of amendments are being discussed in conjunction with this amendment. I am advocating to the Minister and to Fianna Fáil Senators that they should take this matter out of the rather political atmosphere in which it has been up to now. As some of my colleagues said earlier, we feel that Fine Gael are afraid of their lives that the Minister might make some concession in the Bill—afraid of their lives.

That is not so.

That is my opinion, and I am entitled to it.

They are hoping the Minister will stay on his high horse and keep on this course, and that Fine Gael might make political capital out of the difficulties and bad feelings which will be created by the operation of this Bill. No matter how the Minister may operate it, there will always be the charge that there is discrimination, that he is attaching one condition to one licence and a different condition to another licence because the operator has contributed or has not contributed to the Fianna Fáil Party funds.

I can see the point of view of Fine Gael. This would be very desirable for Fine Gael. This would be great political capital up and down the country. As I said, I am of the opinion that Fine Gael would be very disappointed if, in fact, the Minister amended this legislation in any way. That is one of the reasons for the way in which the Bill was fought in the Dáil. I do not think there was much effort to try to get any consensus of opinion, or to try to get agreement Fine Gael went for the Minister hammer and tongs and knowing the Minister, and knowing the type of personality he has, it was quite certain that he would not budge an inch. At the same time, Fine Gael were saying they would fight the Bill line by line.

We are saying this is a bit too important for that sort of political carry-on. We are saying we accept that it is right and proper that the livestock marts should be regulated, and that conditions should be laid down for the operation of livestock marts. We are saying it is unfortunate that this should be done at this particular time, but that has already been decided by the Seanad.

If the marts are to be regulated, they should be regulated in such a way that there could not be any temptation to discriminate, or any power to discriminate between one and another. The regulations should be clearly stated. There should be minimum regulation requirements and anyone complying with them should be entitled to get a licence either to continue to operate, or to start a new business of operating, a livestock mart, and it should not be on the basis of what pressure or what representations any individual or any group can bring to bear, and the type of condition that might then be attached to the particular licence, a condition which, as I have already pointed out, may be varied at any time by the Minister at his sole discretion. If he does not like the way in which a particular operator is carrying on, if there is some row, or something, he will be under the temptation all the time to vary the conditions attaching to the licence and might, indeed, put a person out of business. We do not want that and I am hoping that some of the Fianna Fáil Senators may persuade the Minister that the approach we suggest here is not an unreasonable approach. It can be seen to be the just way of tackling the problem.

There may be need for some tightening up in the amendment because amendments put down by individual Senators are not word perfect. I am trying to get across the general principle that we should give the Minister the power to make the regulations. He and his Department are the best qualified to know what the minimum requirements should be for the operation of cattle marts. We give him that power to lay down what they should be, but, equally, any person who complies with the regulations should be entitled to get a licence and to retain it. He should not run the risk of being put out of business at any time because of the sole discretion of the Minister. That is what it boils down to because what we are being asked to give here in this Bill is power to the Minister to vary a condition, or conditions, at his sole discretion. We think that is wrong. It is bad legislation and it is not right to depend on the precedent in the 1928 Act dealing with creameries, which, as I pointed out, was an Act dealing with a very limited problem and, in the circumstances of the time what was done could readily be seen to be both desirable and necessary in order to deal with the particular problem. It is not right to carry that sort of legislation into this Marts Bill, which deals with a completely different problem altogether.

I am hoping the Minister will see his way to accepting this amendment. He may have read the newspaper report today of the address of the new President of the NFA. That address might give an opportunity for improving relations generally. I know the Minister says he has no quarrel with anybody, but perhaps he might accept this way of going about the problem. It would improve the position generally and it would, I hope, get agriculture back into a better relationship, which I think more important than any quarrels between political Parties or any credit or prestige they might get out of these quarrels. The good of the agricultural community is more important, and I appeal very strongly to the Minister, and not from a political point of view because we will not get any political capital out of this, to accept the principle enshrined in this amendment. It may need tidying up. What is important is the principle. The Minister should have the power to lay down the minimum requirements and, where these are complied with, the individual, group, co-operative or company should have the right to a licence and the right to retain that licence so long as he or they comply with these minimum requirements.

Might I just clear up one point? Does Senator O'Quigley wish his amendment No. 12 to be discussed at the same time? There will, of course, be a separate decision.

Yes. I shall speak after the Minister.

This amendment might well be said to be acceptable if the Bill dealt only with certain limited matters, such as design, accommodation, hygiene, and so on. As the House is well aware, the Bill is much wider in scope than that and, in that wider scope, surely the Minister must be given some right to grant, refuse or revoke licences in certain circumstances. Under subsection (8) of section 3, which is proposed to be amended, marts in business immediately before the passing of the Act will, as we have already said, be entitled to a licence provided certain regulations ultimately are complied with. Possibly I can do no better than to quote what I said when introducing this Bill to the Dáil at column 874 of the Official Report of 21st June, 1967:

It is not the object of this Bill to hinder in the slightest way the legitimate operations of livestock marts or to prevent the establishment of new marts in areas not already catered for. Its purposes are to exercise a reasonable degree of control over the establishment of new livestock marts, to ensure for example that there is no uneconomic overlapping where a tendency to undesirable proliferation may occur in particular areas and also to ensure that adequate facilities of various kinds are provided and that the services of the marts are available fairly and reasonably to all clients.

That sets out in a very definite way, I think, the greater and wider scope of this Bill and should indicate to Senator Murphy that the restriction imposed, if his amendment were carried, would negative that wider scope to which I have referred in regard to keeping in check the unnecessary proliferation of marts.

If this expressed intention escaped the Senator, it may be because it was expressed before the great delay occurred, and I should mention here that, on that Second Reading in the Dáil, there was no great interest displayed by Fine Gael, or anybody else for that matter, in finding out what the Bill was about. It went through in a reasonably short time and perhaps this particular passage in my introductory speech was overlooked. But the intention was there stated and I refer the Senator and the House to it now in order to clarify for all concerned that we are not dealing only with design, accommodation, hygienic conditions,et cetera. but with a much wider context altogether. It is the intention that the Bill should be much wider in its scope and that, being the intention, an intention both desirable and necessary in the future, acceptance of the amendment in the light of that wider scope would nullify and indeed restrict the scope of the Bill as against that intention already expressed.

I wonder would I be correct in saying that from what the Minister has just remarked the scope of the Bill leaves it that he can regulate as to design, place and various other aspects in that a person or number of people desiring to set up a mart would be given a provisional licence on application to the Department with their plans, specifications, and so on and having obtained town planning permission to erect the building and lay-out of the mart, they would then be given a provisional licence under which they would know the principle and the extent of the regulations to be attached to the licence so as to save them from involving themselves in a huge expense which, if they were not given a provisional licence, they would not incur. As we say down the country, there are more ways of choking a dog than giving him butter and when they come to apply for their licence, the Minister could then, even at that stage attach to it such regulations as would render it practically impossible for them to carry on.

I am sorry if I am cutting in on Senator Murphy, but I am glad that Senator Malone raised this point. This is indeed the intention. This is what I think is the reasonable, sensible approach to this Bill, that before any real commitment by way of even commissioning any cost or incurring any worthwhile cost, it would be a facility offered that the sponsors could come in to the Department, explain what they wanted, probably give us a sketch plan of what they were proposing to do and generally go into what the regulations were, that we could define as to what or how they fell short or could conform to them and generally have regard to this matter of proliferation or otherwise and say to this group of sponsors: "Everything considered, if you build there, according to those plans or generally amended plans, you will get a licence". This is the way we wish to have it and certainly the only sensible way it could be dealt with.

Do I understand that we are discussing amendments Nos. 11, 15, 17, 18, 19 and 22?

Acting Chairman

I suggest you might also discuss No. 12.

It is important to know that we are discussing that group of amendments in the name of Senator Murphy. I have an amendment on the Paper, No. 12, which has much the same effect and the same idea behind it as Senator Murphy's, that is, if Senator Murphy's more desirable amendment is not accepted by the House. Senator Murphy has done great service to all of us by drawing a distinction between what is contained in the Dairy Produce Act of 1928, the circumstances in which it was drafted and the purposes it was designed to meet and Bills such as the present Bill.

I must confess that I have very little time for going back to what was done in the 1920s and to whether it was done by way of legislation or otherwise. I think we ought to deal with the circumstances we find in 1967 and as we expect to find them in the next five or ten years. For that reason, I have made a present to the Minister of everything that took place in the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. I do not intend, and I certainly have not got the time nor have we any staff to engage in the kind of research that would enable us to counter some of the falsities that have been propounded by the other side in relation to those Bills. It would be very interesting to hear how Senator Yeats, if he wants to extend the debate the way they have been entending it on the Fianna Fáil side, can get around to answer the remarks made by Senator Murphy in relation to the Dairy Produce Act of 1928.

This group of amendments proposed by Senator Murphy, in the absence of the acceptance of amendment No. 8, would be a vast improvement on this Bill. It is incorrect to say that Fine Gael do not want to see some improvement in this Bill. The truth of the matter is that our view of this Bill is that it is constructed so badly that it is very difficult to shape it into the kind of measure that would be acceptable to us. It is the old case of whether it is better to pull down a dwelling and start to build from scratch or whether you should try to patch, renovate and try to shore up an existing tottering building. We think this is the kind of Bill that corresponds with that kind of building and it is a question of whether it is better to scrap it and start afresh. That is the reason we oppose and will continue to oppose the Bill, while, at the same time, if we can persuade the Minister to accept some amendments that will improve it, we will seek to do so. I am satisfied in my own mind that the Minister has not the slightest intention of accepting any amendment to this Bill. I am quite satisfied that that is the intention in the Minister's mind. I would regard it as extraordinary if the Minister accepted some amendment that is proposed from this side of the House, no matter from whom it came. For that reason I do not expect that the Minister will accept any amendment but——

You are making sure that he will not.

——I should be very happy if the Minister did accept it. When you find that a Minister goes back to what happened in previous times and says that all those Bills went through without any opposition and so on, it is very important at this stage to show one's opposition the whole way, and at the same time, to do one's best to have amendments accepted.

The Minister has not given any indication so far of the principles on which he will exercise his discretion in the granting or the withholding of a licence for a new livestock mart. I shall come to subsection (8) later on. I am not at all happy that it will be possible under section 3(1) for people to continue in business, pending compliance with the regulations. Compliance with the regulations may take a matter of months and years in the case of existing marts, but existing marts cannot get a licence under subsection (8) until they have complied with the regulations. There does not seem to be any interim position except to say that the Minister will allow them unlawfully to carry on the business of a livestock mart without a licence and that will not have any ill-consequence on the person unlawfully carrying on the business because he will delay the bringing into operation of an order implementing section 2 of the Bill. That seems to be the only way in which it can be done. People will unlawfully under this Act continue the business of a livestock mart but they will be immune from punishment because the Minister will not bring in section 2 of the Bill.

Amendment No. 12 proposes to delete the words "at his discretion" in subsection (1) of section 3. Senator Murphy's amendments propose to make it obligatory and automatic that the Minister will, if a person complies with regulations, give a licence to carry on a livestock mart. It is proposed then to delete subsection (2) so as to prevent the Minister from favouring one as against the other in the conditions which he will impose on the various licences. One can see some reason for having conditions in relation to existing marts because one can say that the licence will issue or the licence will be continued, provided a person complies with certain conditions. There is no argument at all for imposing conditions which may vary from applicant to applicant in the case of a new mart.

If one of those conditions were to be a fidelity bond, that a certain amount should be entered into, that should be stated boldly in this measure. If that had been stated boldly, the Minister might have gained some kudos, politically and from the public, for appearing to protect the interests of those who deal with livestock marts already. It amazes me that that is one of the conditions that is being put in at this stage. I rather think that was an after-thought on the part of the Minister when he met the Livestock Marts Association according to the report he read out for us this evening and that that was not one of the primary purposes for which this Bill was introduced.

It is proposed to delete subsections (3), (4) and (5). Again, it comes back to what we were saying earlier—and I do not intend to repeat—that it is not the Minister who should have the power to amend or revoke licences and it is not the Minister who should have power to declare that a person has committed an offence. What seems to me to be much more serious—this comes back again to the impartiality of this measure and its unconstitutionality —is to find that a person will be found guilty of an offence by a Minister of State for a breach of the regulations made pursuant to paragraphs (a) to (e) of subsection (2) of section 6, that is, all those regulations relating to the actual conduct of marts, the conduct of auctions and so on. If the Minister decides that an offence has been committed, then he is entitled without further ado, and without waiting for court proceedings or anything else, to revoke the licence. If that is not the assumption of judicial power of a somewhat different character to the power we were talking about earlier, I do not know what it is. I should like to know what the legal Members of this House, the Senators who have some legal training, think about that and its unconstitutionality. I should like to know what Senator Nash would have to say about this. I am glad he is in the House because if he has anything to say, he can say it, and if he has any-think to say about me, he can say it.

Not behind your back.

I cannot be blamed if the Senator chooses to absent himself from the Chamber when I am speaking. Let every member of the Fianna Fáil Party be clear about this, that what we are providing in subsection (5) and what will be provided is that the Minister will decide that somebody has committed an offence. How will the Minister decide that?

Acting Chairman

Do I take it the Senator wishes to include amendments Nos. 20 and 21 in this debate?

They appear to be somewhat different.

Acting Chairman

That appeared to be what the Senator was dealing with.

I would not quite agree. The proposal is to delete this altogether. It seems to me that we ought to delete it. I believe that in other circumstances we would do so but I do not think we will do so tonight. It is proposed in subsection (5) that the Minister will find the person guilty of an offence. In other words, the Minister, on the basis of reports made to him, a letter written to him by somebody down the country or by a Deputy, Senator or somebody else and the matter is investigated, to use the official terminology, by an officer of the Minister, it will be said that that person had done something against a, b, c, x, or y. On that basis the Minister will then decide that the livestock mart proprietor has been guilty of putting up at the wrong time the complainant's cattle for sale or refusing to sell them. It is on the basis of a report made to the Minister that that person will be found guilty of committing that offence. The Minister will not hear any of those people. It will be said that the matter has been fully investigated by the Minister's Departmental officers and they have now come to the conclusion that there has been an offence under section (2) of section 6 in relation to paragraph (a), (b), (c), (d) or (e) or in relation to all of them.

That is the new system of administration of justice proposed in this Bill. The Minister cannot deny that that is the way in which people will be found guilty. He has no power of subpoena. He cannot bring people in and say: "Tell me your own story. What happened on the 18th of March when you were in the livestock mart?" He will not have the auctioneer's clerk associated with the livestock mart to find out personally what went on. Not at all. It is the Minister's officers who will make inquiries and having satisfied the Departmental officers, a report having been made, the Minister will then come to the conclusion that an offence has been committed. Then that person's licence can be revoked.

We see at the moment an inquiry going on in another place. It is very easy to make charges. It is not always as easy to prove them. People take offence very easily and feel aggrieved very easily and one can well see persons dealing with livestock marts taking offence because they have not fared as well as they might have particularly if they see there is discrimination against them as compared with other users of the marts.

That is the kind of offence the Minister will not make the subject of any appeal to a barrister of ten years standing. The Minister has been talking about the right of appeal to a barrister of ten years standing. That is not one of the things, as I read the section, which will be the subject of any consideration by a barrister of ten years standing because paragraph (b) of subsection (6) of section 3 provides that it is only a contravention of the regulations in relation to the physical aspect of livestock marts which will be the subject of inquiry by a barrister of ten years standing, so all the talk we have had about an appeal to a barrister of ten years standing turns out to be only half an appeal. May I put it another way? It is an appeal in respect of half of the items referred to in subsection (2) of section 6.

On a point of order, are we discussing only two amendments here or are we discussing more than two?

Acting Chairman

We are discussing amendments Nos. 11, 15, 17, 18, 19, 22, and also No. 12.

Thanks very much.

Acting Chairman

On a point of correction, Senator O'Quigley, there is no proposal to delete subsection (5). It is mainly to change the words in it; that is amendment No. 19. I think there is some misapprehension here.

May I say that that amendment does not go anything like far enough?

Acting Chairman

I am just pointing this out in case there is any misapprehension.

Are we debating amendment No. 31?

Acting Chairman

It is in the group.

It was read out this morning.

Acting Chairman

It is in the group debated with amendment No. 4.

We are not debating that at the moment.

Acting Chairman

It seems to be cognate but, of course, there will be a separate decision.

It was agreed this morning that we would discuss amendments Nos. 11, 15, 17, 18, 19 and 22 together.

Acting Chairman

I have ascertained that Senator O'Quigley is satisfied that amendment No. 12 can be discussed with a separate decision. The Senator will appreciate the difficulty in that if amendment No. 11 were carried, Senator O'Quigley would be deprived of his rights under amendment No. 12.

He said he would be happy if it were carried.

Acting Chairman

I understand that since he has decided that he would be satisfied if they were discussed together.

The Chair is anxious to make the Senator happy.

Acting Chairman

The Chair is interested in making all Senators happy.

At any rate, it now boils down to the fact that all this talk about an appeal to a barrister of ten years standing is an appeal in respect of only a selected number of matters, that is to say, in respect of the physical aspect of livestock marts and not in relation to these much more controversial matters of the conduct of the whole of the business of livestock marts. It now turns out that the Minister may satisfy himself that there has been an offence in relation to the actual conduct of the business. This is a vague type of thing. Having satisfied himself that an offence has been committed, he may then, if he thinks fit, revoke the licence. That to me is a clear reading of the situation. If that is not a clear attempt at usurpation by the Minister of the powers of the courts, I do not know what it is. For that reason, I think we must oppose the sections which are the subject of these amendments. If the House—and I make no more appeals to the Minister—had the good sense to accept Senator Murphy's amendment No. 11, it would certainly be passing legislation which would be considerably less unacceptable than the Bill as it now stands.

I should like to try to get back to the amendment before we again start exchanging pleasantries. I thank the Minister for what he said, I think, on Second Stage in the Dáil. He did not say it here but it is important to remind the Minister what he did say here. He made a number of main points:

That the Bill is necessary in the national interest and not least in the interest of the farming community: it has been introduced for no other reason...

I shall come back to that. The Minister has now stated that there are other things which can be imposed under regulations and on which he should have a discretion in the granting or revocation of a licence. He said that there might be uneconomic overlapping of marts; there might be proliferation of marts. That was the point he was making on Second Reading in the Dáil. You will excuse me for overlooking that because there is no hint of that at all in section 6 which says:

The Minister may, for the purpose of ensuring the proper conduct of places where the business of a livestock mart is carried on and the proper conduct of such businesses, adequate and suitable hygienic and veterinary standards...

It goes on then to deal with what we have been talking about, the acceptance of bids, discrimination between one farmer and another and then the physical requirements of marts. There is no mention of the location of marts or even a general hint in section 6 that the Minister wants power to regulate so as to avoid the overlapping of marts.

I suggest that this is the more dangerous position which I suggested earlier. Are we to have a situation in which the Minister can decide which mart will have competition and which mart will not?

That is in effect of what he is saying. He wants this power. I think that is quite wrong. At least it seems so to me. The people whom the Minister must protect are the farming community. They are to be protected so that marts which will deprive the farmer of his money will not go into operation. We have put down an amendment so as to avoid that. We say that the regulations should provide cover in respect of that, so that the marts in order to go into business at all should be able to make arrangements in this respect. The intention is that they should have fidelity bonds and that they should not be allowed to trade unless they can provide that the farmers who sell their products through the marts get payment for what they have sold. They are the people whom the Minister says on Second Stage he wants to protect, that the Bill has been introduced for no other reason. I suggest the Minister has no function in the matter of protecting present mart operators from competition or of deciding that those private companies, or whatever they may be, can have a preserve so long as the Minister so decides. But, if there is a mart operating in, say, Kilkenny, that mart can be happy for, so long as the Minister so wishes, they will not suffer any competition from a neighbouring mart setting up and getting the business. They are all right; they are happy and they can operate straight away.

I am suggesting that that is not the function of the Minister in this matter. His function is to protect the farming community. The marts are businesses in competition with one another, I should hope, and the competition should provide the best services to the customers, the farmers and the buyers. I am opposed to the situation that the Minister would now indicate to us, as he has already indicated to the Dáil, that, in fact, he wants to have discretion so as to avoid the proliferation of marts and their uneconomic overlapping.

I am suggesting that that is not the Minister's function and that that can best be taken care of by the ordinary competition among those people who are engaged in private enterprise, who go into this business of their own choice. I suggest that the Minister has no function to protect people and to prevent neighbouring competition being set up to provide other and equal services for the farmers.

Let us go back to another undesirable aspect of this. The Minister may decide at his sole discretion that a licence may be given to a new operator because he does not want to protect a particular operator. A mart in Kilkenny, say, might be doing nicely under this arrangement but the Minister may decide that five miles away he will give a licence to another mart which would be, I am sure, ground for complaint by the original mart. I do not see why there should be any reasonable ground for complaint if the other operator can provide this service. It is very dangerous that the Minister should envisage exercising his discretion in this way. I am suggesting it is not his function; his function is to protect the farmers, as he told us in his Second Reading speech. I would not accept this argument as justifying the giving of sole discretion to the Minister to grant licences, to attach conditions to licences and to change or revoke those conditions as he so wishes.

I am still appealing to him to accept this amendment and I am suggesting that this other sort of function he wants to take on is clearly not provided for in the Bill and is not, I suggest, his function, as Minister for Agriculture, but can best be taken care of by the operators themselves.

The last point Senator Murphy spoke about is one of the most important and, to my mind, will be one of the most difficult things the Minister will have to deal with under this Bill, that is, he will have to limit the number of marts, despite what Senator Murphy has said, because as surely as there are two marts within a certain mileage proximity, one will go.

The Minister has to decide.

For the farmers' sake, I think somebody should decide. Then the people who send their cattle to one some week will not be caught.

No—the fidelity bond.

The people who come into my mart know I have a bond subscribed to possibly by all the other marts in Ireland. This will support me. That is the sort of thing you will find happening.

I know of a case, not in this part of the country, of marts in two towns— actually they were practically 11 miles apart. What happened was both of them started off and I can assure you that any town in Ireland will give people who wish to start a mart the greatest encouragement because it is important for the town to have that influx of people once or twice a week, important for the business people of those towns. They will give anybody who starts talking about opening a mart great encouragement, and even subscriptions, if necessary.

With regard to these two marts, it happened that the one in the larger town gradually grew and grew and the buyers, who are the people who make the mart, went to the second one. The smaller one was the mart nearer me and to which I should like to have sent the cattle. You went in there on a Wednesday with your cattle and there were probably only three main buyers there. They knew each other; they stood together and when the cattle came into the ring, one bid the other and very often there was no other bid. Sometimes two of them would bid for a short time, with no other bid. It ended up that all the bigger farmers who could afford a lorry took the cattle to the other town. Those were nearly all graded fat cattle. You were left with your three buyers and the other mart was merely left to small farmers with one or two geese who could not afford either to transport them themselves or arrange to get a place in a lorry. The second mart dropped and dropped until it was impossible to sell cattle at any price in it at all: cattle went every week very considerably below the price obtaining in the other mart. The Minister may need to take this decision and I think he must take it.

Since this debate started, I have heard comments from both sides of the House that this decision could have been taken long ago when these marts started in the country at first.

But is the Minister not providing that every existing mart will get a licence?

I am not trying to anticipate what the Minister will do, but for the sake of the farmers, if you like to put it that way, marts should not be allowed to start up like mushrooms, two in one town or two within five miles of each other, because it would depress the prices for the farmers. The bigger the mart, the better market the farmers will get for their cattle.

We considered starting a co-operative mart in Cavan in the past 12 months. A very prominent man connected with Cork Co-operative Mart came up to give us his advice and I think he said: "I would not like to see the marts less than 15, 20, or even 25 miles apart and then the farmers will get their value; it will be a big sale; there will be a lot of buyers and the farmers will get the true value of their cattle". It will be a very difficult decision the Minister and the Department will make in this instance, but I think it should be made for the benefit of the farmers. If the time comes when one of those marts is not giving satisfactory service, then the question of transport comes into it, transport to another mart, but, if you think, as Senator Murphy has said, that everybody should get a mart, everybody who applies gets a mart, you will not be assisting the farmer in the slightest and it will be to the detriment of the price he will get for his cattle.

We hold, as Senator Murphy has already pointed out, that too much freedom is given to the Minister in the Bill in its present form, particularly in the matter of granting and revoking licences. We take it the regulations made by the Minister will cover all essentials, to ensure the marts are suitable in every respect, that business is carried on in a proper manner and that they are situated a reasonable distance apart. Therefore, our amendments provide that where an applicant complies with the stringent regulations, the Minister will have no choice but to grant a licence and, once he has so granted a licence, cannot withdraw it. The Bill as it stands at the moment says "at his entire discretion" for offences, real or imaginary, outside the regulations already prescribed. Such a provision, if left in the Bill, would constitute a hardship on mart owners because of the uncertainties which the Bill holds even though the licence has already been granted.

We want the best possible marts but I cannot see mart owners putting their capital into the marts because of the lack of security which the Minister's wide powers involves. Where, for any reason, the Minister may think fit, he can add some new condition to those already stated in the regulations and on the added condition, can withdraw the licence.

Likewise, the Labour Party are firmly of the opinion that a mart owner who breaks the regulations prescribed by the Minister should have his licence revoked. We would be in full agreement with the withdrawal of his licence in such circumstances. The regulations should be wide and strict but they should be standard and known to all licensed holders. Such firm and wide regulations would eliminate such things as the overlapping and unnecessary proliferation of marts mentioned by the Minister. Our amendments would obviate that undesirable happening and the other things which have been referred to in the debate.

We seem to be going on a much more even keel since teatime and I hope the Minister will try to meet some of the amendments now. I should say that the amendment now before the House is probably the most reasonable one that has come before it so far. Really we do not ask the Minister to do very much. In fact, we are taking a load off his shoulders by asking him to accept the amendment instead of its being left to his discretion.

Fears have been expressed here as to the number of marts and one would think, to hear some people speak, that marts grew up like mushrooms. I can assure Senator Cole that there is no great danger of marts springing up within a few miles of one another because when a group of people come together to provide a mart, there is a matter of £30,000 or £40,000 involved and you will certainly not get any group of people to put up such an amount for a proposition that is likely to lose money. The most likely way one could lose money is by erecting a second mart beside an existing mart.

I have a fair idea of marts in the midlands, the area where most finished cattle are sold and where marts are very well utilised, and it works out that the marts that are there and are doing very well are from 19 to 20 miles, and up to 25 miles from one another. Take a circle from Edenderry to Tullamore, Moate and Mullingar. That takes in a huge countryside and there is not the slightest likelihood that any other mart will start up in that area. That covers a huge part of the midlands because the type of money it takes to erect a mart is not to be picked up on the roadside and usually people who erect these marts must go to the bank managers to get the money, and bank managers are very difficult people to deal with, if a good, solid proposition is not put before them.

I am not in the least worried about marts going up all over the country. There are well established marts and the people who run them have made a tremendous job of it because they have arranged transport and have done it very well. People know when to have their cattle ready. Lorries are sent to collect them in time. The cattle are delivered back in time and the whole thing is well organised. For that reason where any mart is well established, it is not likely that someone else will try to start up in competition. Therefore, the Minister should reconsider the whole question of withdrawing licences or giving licences at his discretion. What we really want to provide is that the applicant shall comply with the regulations made by the Minister. There should be only one set of regulations and one law for everybody, and if the Minister lays down the regulations and says: "These are the regulations under which you may provide a mart," everybody will know where he stands and the Minister will be in a much happier position than if he were to deal with each case individually.

Some people might say that because of political influence he did something for some group or, because of another type of political influence, he refused to do it for another group. He would leave himself open to criticism because he had not a fixed set of regulations.

We must also remember that before any application for a mart comes to the Minister, it must be dealt with by the planning authority. The planning authority is a slow-moving body and would be very slow to give permission, I think, to a new mart to start up in competition with an existing mart where everything was satisfactory. For that reason, quite a number of the applications would never come before the Minister. I can assure the Minister that if there is ever an appeal against the decision of the planning authority, he will not be worried for quite a long time. Last January I made an appeal for a gentleman who was refused permission to erect petrol pumps in a rural area. Just to check up, I telephoned several times since. I rang up this morning and there is not the slightest sign of that appeal being dealt with yet.

The Planning Act has been quoted in that the Minister had such wide powers under it but I certainly would not like to see the Minister with the same powers under the Marts Bill. If there were a decision by which the Minister revoked a licence, I think it would be very serious if there were a long delay before the decision as to whether the person should get his licence back or should be put out of the business entirely. I ask the Minister to consider the amendment by the Labour Party. I believe it is a reasonable amendment and I think he will avoid headaches if he accepts it and lays down general regulations for all those who wish to operate marts.

There will be regulations. This is so clearly mentioned so many times in the Bill that there can be no doubt in anybody's mind about it. I have already indicated that it is not my intention to have regulations for every mart in the country whether existing or yet to come. This would not be possible, even if one were mad enough to attempt to do it. Coming to the matter or overlapping, this is very relevant, and I was glad to hear Senator Cole deal with it in much the same terms as I think about it myself. It is in the interests of farmers. If somebody says "Let them go; let them eat each other out; let the strongest survive", who is to survive, who is paying for it all? If one fellow loses, do you think he will not get it back from the farming community which will be left to his sole tender mercies in the future? This is very much in the interests of the farming community. If a mart is operating properly and normally and is giving a good service to its farming community around it, surely there is nothing wrong if, as a sort of side benefit, that mart is given the further security of continuing and possibly expending more money to attract more buyers, and so on? This is the essence of mart business.

If there are not the buyers, if there are insufficient buyers or if there is no business, then, no matter how many marts you have or where they are located, the farmer will be the loser. The establishment of a mart in competition with an existing established mart can have only one intention, namely, to put the existing mart out of business. If the existing mart is doing its job properly and well, maybe doing it pretty well even from its own commercial viewpoint, the only reason for the establishment of the other one to do business that the existing mart is doing is to put the existing mart out of business. If the end product is that somebody will go to the wall, then a lot of money will be lost. Even though, because of fidelity bonds, insurance, and so forth, the farmers as individuals will not have lost money the cost of these bonds will go up—and who will pay for that but the farmers? They will provide the money to be paid for the extra cost of the bonds as a result of the greater number of casualties that can and will take place if we do nothing about overlapping in the future. Some overlapping and some crashes have already taken place, to the direct loss of the farmers. We hope to cure that in the future.

The whole idea of fidelity bonds, insurance, or cover for the farmers was described by Senator O'Quigley as merely an afterthought after pressure had been built up by Fine Gael or somebody else, and it was alleged that we did this in face of rising public opinion. It shows how lacking in interest were Senator O'Quigley and his colleagues when in my introductory speech in the Dáil I mentioned the matter as follows:

Another matter which it would be desirable to cover is the safeguarding of the financial interests of farmers selling livestock at marts.

During the course of that debate—I recall it quite well—I was chided on this matter and I came back to it in my closing speech on Second Reading and referred to the persons who had complained about my not mentioning it and I pointed out that I had mentioned it in my introductory speech.

Merely in that vague way.

Senator O'Quigley is so innocent that we need to wrap this up and hand it to him. I refer the Senator to my introductory and closing speeches on the Second Reading of this Bill in the Dáil. Despite all the time he has taken up in this House telling us of the care and interest he had in this Bill, he had not sufficient interest even to read those two speeches which I made in the Dáil and therefore what he has said in this connection sounds hollow to me. Surely these are the first available documents that would be read by anybody as concerned as he professes to be. But, not at all; the Senator never heard of it before.

Why did the Minister not mention it in this House?

I do accept that the Members of this House are intelligent, literate, capable of reading and under-standing——

That is true.

I dispute that.

To be very intelligent does not necessarily mean that we read the Dáil Debates.

In the case of one so concerned as the display given here on this measure by Senator O'Quigley would lead one to believe, surely nobody will chide me if I chide him for his lack of reading and research even on the Second Reading of this measure in the Dáil? Surely this would be accepted from me. Not at all. He would not think about that. He would prefer to find a way to get it across that such a thing as this was merely an afterthought—and sort of no apology to anybody.

It was categorically said by him that this whole business was merely an afterthought, after pressure by Fine Gael. He suggested that public opinion made us say this merely as an afterthought, whereas such is not the case. As I have said, the matter is there. Then, as well, you see, if one attended this House as assiduously as would appear a Senator should, being so interested in this measure as he displayed himself to be, Senator O'Quigley would have been here—presumably he was not here—to hear the debate so far, during which this matter was mentioned. I refer Senator O'Quigley to columns 1034-35 of Volume 63, No. 12, of the Official Report of Seanad Éireann, in relation to Thursday last, 27th July, 1967. Having said that, that is practically enough about it.

He cleared out last Wednesday.

It has not been circulated yet.

If the Senator had been here he would have heard but now he can read what he missed by not being here on that particular day. He will never appreciate how much he missed by being absent on that day unless he reads the debate.

Some points were raised, other than that, which had some relevance to the Bill and to which I should like to reply. One of these concerns section 6—section 6 and the making of regulations do not give the Minister the opportunity to deal with this matter of proliferation or overlapping of marts. As I read and understand section 6, it gives the Minister authority: it is permissive, if you like. He may make regulations under this and certain of these regulations can in fact regulate the manner in which he may grant the licence. This is quite possible and conceivable so there is not any manner or means of things that appertain to the wellbeing of the mart business in the future that cannot in fact conceivably be brought within the terms of the regulations I am empowered to make under section 6 right through this Bill. If it is slightly confusing, I do not really take the blame for that inasmuch as this is the manner in which it has been drafted, but there is no doubt whatever that it does give the authority and the power which I have mentioned.

Senator O'Quigley—correct me if I am wrong in this—dealt at length, as I understand it, with amendment No. 20 which I understood it to be clarified is not before us at the moment. That being so, I have the right to speak on what he said on that amendment but I intend to reserve what I have to say until it is appropriate to discuss it. My understanding was that amendment No. 20 was not in the group.

The Minister is correct.

The Senator spoke on this amendment but it was purely a mistake.

It was not; it was directed towards subsection (5).

Surely we do not have to listen to it all again.

This is what he was hoping for. The likelihood is that he thought so well of what he said that he wishes to have it said again. On the other hand, he might not be here when it is discussed again. It could happen that he might be gone. In any event, I will not deal with that at all. What we are supposed to be discussing is amendment No. 11 and the other amendments with it—No. 15 and Nos. 17 and 19, which I understand are also under discussion. This amendment again follows from No. 11. The amendment would curtail and indeed wipe out any discretion the Minister might have in regard to granting or revoking a licence. No. 19 merely confirms that to a greater degree. This is a point of which great play has been made, probably in good faith, that it would be far better according to the amendment, that we would make regulations and stick to them flat-footedly. This might avoid the fears expressed about political intrigue about which we hear so much but of which we see so little.

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

I have a slight feeling of pity for the gentleman over there. However, is it a good thing to have the matter dealt with in this way, that we should have regulations which we would regard as all embracing? But even with the help of Senator O'Quigley and his colleagues, I am sure if we did this we would barely have them made for a month when we would have to begin remaking them. In all this matter of laying down regulations in changing times, and in a changing world, where there will be big changes, and no more so than in the marts, it would not be wise to plump for this idea of making all-round flatfooted regulations, that if people complied with them, they would just have to get licences. I am thinking in terms of proliferation and additions and new marts. We want to think in terms of a private mart owner trying to muscle in where a co-operative has made a success—or, it might be the reverse, that a private fellow might have made a good start and was building up a fair business and it could be the co-operative group who decided they wanted to get in and take over his business, and then he would be gone.

That might be all right and it might be possible to swallow, although I do not like it, but think in terms of outside concerns coming into the country.

Like the supermarkets at the moment.

It might not be a bad example or a bad analogy. Do we want to have the Minister of the day, even if he should be a Fine Gael Minister——

(Interruptions.)

When it does happen.

Even in those dire circumstances, I would wish to see any Minister for Agriculture being in the position of being able to exercise his discretion to prevent an outside group or monopoly trying to muscle in and get hold of the mart outlets.

What is going to happen when we have free trade?

The Senator cannot have it both ways. When the Constitution suits him, he uses it, and similarly with the EEC. Deal with the Ireland of today.

(Interruptions.)

Quite truly, is this not a possibility to which we must have some regard and to which it is worth having regard? It could be a very serious matter for us. I think this is valid and not just purely an argument for argument's sake.

If that is desirable, the regulations should provide——

Wait now. We provide that companies other than companies owned by Irish nationals, or an Irish national, will do this, that and the other. Surely the Senator, and some of the other Senators who are professional men, are fully aware of how useful that particular phraseology would be in preventing those who wish to come in from coming in? This has been going on since Adam's time. We know how the Control of Manufactures Act worked. We know that it did not work and we decided that it was better to remove it. As Senators know, there was evasion under it and there would be evasion under any regulations which tried to define who was a national, what company was nationally-owned——

You want to do it on your own guess.

Would the Senator prefer the Minister's guess in the interests of the farming and agricultural community to the manipulations of those who find ways around the law, to our detriment? A good lawyer, of whom there are not too many, with or without ten years operations, would be available—more power to the lawyers; that is their business—would have no bother at all in finding a way around these things. I prefer the assessment of the Minister for Agriculture of the day of the situation, if there was that danger, than leaving it to the tender mercies and advice of the well up lawyers of this or any other country.

I thought it was Government policy to encourage foreign enterprise to come in.

I have talked about that in another context. It is not very relevant to say that the situation was not very foolproof under the Manufactures Act. There is no conflict between my utterances and my Party policy. Do not group me with Fine Gael who say one thing here and another elsewhere. This is a habit of theirs but not of mine.

Introduce the Control of Manufactures Act and then repeal it; oppose the Industrial Development Authority and then use it; impose the Industrial Grants Act and then repeal it. That is Fianna Fáil.

Ní thuigimid.

It will be on the record.

Amendment No. 22 is an amendment which would arise if Nos. 11 and 19 were carried. Assuming they were carried, this again would give the Minister no discretion whatever. I would not go along with the idea that the Minister should have no discretion with regard to these matters. It is a necessary part of the control, in the best interests of the farming community and of the country generally, that the Minister should have discretion, that he should be enabled to meet the changing circumstances of the times, that he should have this discretion in order to do what is best in the interests of the farmers as far as the marts are concerned under this Bill. That is why I feel we should have it in this way.

If we were to accept amendment No. 11, which is the primary amendment here, it could only work if we forgot about the wider context, the more important things, the unnecessary proliferation, the overlapping, the wiping out of one mart by another merely because of its financial strength, doing so not in the interests of the farmer but possibly as a way of building up a monopoly for its own financial benefit. These things cannot be rolled into regulations that would hold water. Discretion has been objected to here—I do not blame those who objected—but, weighing the thing in the balance, discretion to the Minister in this particular matter is a necessary part of the exercise of the controls we feel are useful and necessary for this important business of livestock marketing in the future.

Arising out of the Minister's reply and in forming a judgment on the present amendment, the question arises as to how the Minister will frame those regulations. I do not altogether agree with Senator Murphy that you can frame those watertight regulations. For one thing, I should like to ask the Minister how he proposes to approach framing the regulations required, for instance, in section 6 (2) (e) which prescribes requirements as to the size, design, maintenance, repair, cleansing, cleanliness, ventilation, heating and lighting of any building in which auctions are held. I am not aware at present that there is any section in the Minister's Department that could in any sense be regarded as competent to provide this advice and this judgment, and I feel that the Board of Works could not have specialist competence in this. I think the only advice available is from the IAOS headquarters, but they, in turn, would be the first to acknowledge their inadequacy in this and the difficulty of keeping up to date with it. It is something that, even as attempted by the Minister, is far too sweeping.

The approach used in the Agriculture Act just recently in England, with the Meat and Livestock Commission, where they restrict themselves merely to advising and giving information on those aspects, would be a far better approach and one that the Minister's facilities might be able to manage. But I certainly cannot see the Minister, either with his present resources or with some specialist units he is going to set up, turning out a supermart design outfit that would be complying with this. It is a section in which we have to accept flexibility and we have to accept different standards in the different mart sizes. It is a subject you cannot regulate on. I should like to have the Minister's view as to how he proposes, taking this one example, to set up this really exceptional specialist design unit.

It is quite true there are no specialist advisers or consultant groups in this matter of the design, lay-out, amenities and so on in regard to marts; but there are a large number of people who have been associated with these marts, whether through private operation or groups, or through the IAOS, and there are vets and other such people who have had recourse to these places. Therefore, there is a great fund of information available in regard to what works and what does not work in connection with such matters as the penning of the cattle, bringing them to the ring, their transport to the premises and so on. There must be a great fund of information available, if we get it and identify it. The IAOS, as the Senator said, has quite a fund of this information garnered from their various associations, those actively engaged in the marts. I have no doubt also that a great deal of information could be got from the various private operators. many of whom probably started in a small way and came up the hard way— and there is no better way than that of finding out how to make things go. These two groups have promised their support and the benefit of their experience to me and my Department in drawing up regulations, and we are very glad to have it.

In addition, there will undoubtedly be certain technical people who have been associated with certain of the marts already, people who have constructed them and have discovered faults in those already designed and who may have found some better way because of later designs. There will be an amount of knowledge available there. In addition, there will be undoubtedly available to us—and there is no reason why we should not seek it, if the occasion should arise—a fund of knowledge from other parts, and if we should find it useful in our circumstances, we should have no hesitation in calling upon it. But, as I said earlier, the fact that they do things in a certain way in certain countries does not mean that we should follow blindly. But, if they have something to add and we need the assistance of somebody from outside who may have more experience of the solution of particular problems, we will bring in these people to add to those in the IAOS and the Associated Marts, who can contribute worthwhile knowledge and get it down in regulations.

These regulations will not be as detailed as Senator Quinlan fears. He expressed fear of the danger of going out for a uniform size. There is no question of that at all in our minds. In fact, it just could not be tolerated, because there will be marts with a big throughput, those with a middle throughput and the smaller ones. Undoubtedly, we could not say to all of those: "You must all be of one size". What I think we will be saying is that there will be a relationship between the amenities provided in the small one, the middle-sized one and the big one. This is the sort of uniformity I am thinking of rather than just a uniform plan for all marts, regardless of the throughput. This is the way that I feel at this juncture we will be approaching this matter of trying to get knowledge from anybody who has it and is prepared to give it. The two associations have already promised this and when we get that far, we may find that we are not so short of information but if we are, and if it is to be got somewhere else, we will look for it.

This will not mean that a large section will have to be set up within the Minister's Department; in other words, practical, commonsense standards will be adopted?

This is the idea.

Marts have already done that within the limits of their financial resources.

Reason will have to prevail in the relationship of all these things.

Senator McAuliffe in supporting Senator Murphy's amendment claimed that there would be no likelihood of a proliferation or mushroom growth of marts, or something like that, arsing in any part of the country. From Ballyjamesduff to Kells, a distance of 17 miles, some months ago there were, those two towns inclusive, four cattle marts. There were four; now there are three, much to somebody's loss.

I do not think the Minister can be serious when he talks about its not being possible to draw up regulations to cover the dangers he outlined. Nobody suggests that the regulations cannot be amended or improved as time goes on but our point is that they should be standard changes and not individual ones. For instance, subsection (2) of section 3 refers to the granting of "a" licence, presumably an individual licence to which the Minister can attach special conditions. Then the next subsection says that the Minister may, if he so thinks fit, amend or revoke a condition attached to an individual licence. All the time it is an individual licence. It is in that individual licence change that the danger lies. I think the Minister can cover the main and important things such as the proliferation of marts and about outsiders coming in, by changes in the regulations—standard changes in standard regulations —and avoid this individual thing which is the real danger.

I should like to ask the Minister is it fair to assume that initially the application for the mart will be made to the local town planning authority. I am not suggesting now that the finished project should be but before applying to him for a licence, will it have to pass the local town planning authority, which is something I do not think the Minister covered?

I am glad the Senator has reminded me because there was something said already about the planning Acts which is completely wrong. It has been asserted by Senator McAuliffe that there would be screening done by the local planning authority and where there is a mart already existing it was unlikely that the authority would allow another one. That is completely and absolutely out of this world, has no relevance to the planning Acts in that sense in that the criteria on which planning permission will be granted or refused cannot have regard to whether or not there is already a mart in the district or town, or not. I wanted to bring that out clearly.

Will the Minister say——

I am answering the other one first and will come back to this again. I want to make quite clear to Senator McAuliffe that the planning authority will not be a screen in any way stopping the proliferation of marts. This is not something that would stand up for a moment if the local authority granted or, should I say, refused a mart merely on the basis that there was already one there.

They are refusing petrol stations.

They are having regard to what is there already?

Regard may be had but they may not just throw it out and, mainly speaking, these are not upheld on appeal. But, certainly, if they threw out a mart application on the basis that there is already one in the town, if this was the only reason, it would get through on appeal as surely as it went on appeal to the Minister for Local Government. There is not a doubt in the world.

It would take a long time to come out of the appeals office.

It might be delayed. I do not doubt. One has to take cognisance of that. Do not employ a contractor next week unless planning permission was applied for last month. It would be foolish to do that.

To get back to the question raised by Senator Carton, he wants to know whether or not it will be a condition of our granting a licence that there would have had to be town planning approval for the particular proposal.

Having regard to the town plan that is in existence.

I cannot answer the Senator straight out but will put it this way—for a premises to be newly licensed, I have already suggested tonight that the ideal way would be that the proposed plans, which would be merely sketch plans, in such location, and so forth, would be brought along or sent to the office of the Minister for Agriculture. This would be on the basis that we could consider it and say to the proposers that as far as we were concerned if they did it in such a way in this particular location they could expect that they would be licensed. That is No. 1, but we can add, and will add, indeed, that town planning permission will be an absolutely essential part in order to complete the final application and build the job; unless passed by town planning, it will not get a licence.

I thought it was vital in view of the fact that most towns have a plan and would like a mart to be in a certain place and would like them to notify the Department.

We will be putting it into the regulations but it is a bit round-about because of the approval of plans on the basis of plans.

It is better for you to give your licence before it goes up for town planning.

No. What we would be saying to them would be that if they got planning permission on these general plans they had shown to us and everything else considered—no location overlapping or what have you—subject to all those things, if they went ahead on this basis they could assume that they would get their licence from us. It is merely to facilitate a citizen rather than put him to unnecessary expense and then to find that he could not get a licence that I said in reply to Senator Carton that there must be planning permission in any event—this would be required.

I must indeed, congratulate the Minister. I have often heard him described as a good political operator and he has demonstrated his ability here tonight. First of all, in reply to my speech on the amendment, he agrued that he should be given discretion because it was desirable that there should be no uneconomic overlapping of marts, that there should be no proliferation of marts and he rightly drew my attention to the fact that he may have pointed this out in his Second Reading speech in the Dáil. Then, when I had argued that that was not really his function as a Minister for Agriculture, he came up with another argument, that it was desirable to keep out non-nationals from the operating of cattle marts. Then, for good measure, he threw in the argument that, of course, it was also desirable that he should, by exercise of the regulations, prevent the creation of a monopoly in cattle marts. It seemed to me to be quite the opposite of the first argument about proliferation of marts. We are now up against the argument that the regulations will prevent the creation of a monopoly. These will be marvellous regulations.

There is no doubt in the world about that.

Everything will be in these regulations for the benefit of the farmers: we are glad to have that assurance. This thing about the prevention of monopolies reminds me of the non-nationals who are coming in here and acquiring supermarkets. We are told the Government do not intend to take any action in that regard, because it is all for the benefit of the customers that there should be this competition. However, in relation to the cattle marts, apparently it is not for the benefit of the customers, namely the farmers. We have had every sort of argument put forward against the amendment, but it all boils down to this, that the Minister wants the sole discretion to do as he wishes: to grant a licence or not to grant a licence; to attach a condition to a licence, or not to attach a condition to it; to vary that condition at any time, if he so wishes. He wants that power and I am saying that, both for his own protection and the protection of the country and of the farming community, this power should not be given to the Minister.

He has not told us at all about these conditions that he will be able to attach to a licence. Who will know of these conditions? Where he attaches conditions to a licence, will the Houses of the Oireachtas be informed of such conditions? Will it be the owner of the cattle mart and the Minister only who will know? Again, if he varies a condition at his sole discretion, will the Houses of the Oireachtas be told about it? Will it be laid before the House? All this seems to be secret. All this is giving the Minister sole discretion to do as he wishes.

I suggest it is relevant to look at section 6 and see what sort of regulations are envisaged here. The section says:

The Minister may, for the purpose of ensuring the proper conduct of places where the business of a livestock mart is carried on and the proper conduct of such businesses...

"Ensuring the proper conduct of places where the business of a livestock mart is carried on"—the section does not talk about the location of the cattle mart. It does not go on to say that the Minister may make regulations providing where cattle marts shall be established, or their distance apart. My colleague, Senator Miss Davidson, made the very good point that if it is necessary for the Minister to have this surveillance and to say: "You shall not found a cattle mart here because there is a cattle mart in another town ten miles away", this can be provided for in the regulations. Again we are saying that these regulations should be open and seen and common to all; the law should be applied equally.

They will be laid before both Houses.

There is nothing in the regulations about location.

What about the conditions which the Minister may attach to a licence? Under which provisions will they be laid before the Houses?

Section 10.

May I interrupt the Senator to say—in case there is any gobbledygook such as took place last night—that we desire the Seanad to meet at 10.30 a.m. tomorrow and that we propose to sit until 10.30 tomorrow night?

If there is a debate here upon when the House should sit, I do not think that should be characterised by the Leader of the House as gobbledygook. That is the first thing.

I did not say when the House should sit was gobbledygook. What went on last night was gobbledygook, or mumbo-jumbo, if Congolese is more understandable.

If that is the standard the Leader of the House wants to set and if that is the extent to which his vocabulary goes——

I suggest tha. Senator Murphy continue until 10.30 and that then the Leader of the House move the motion.

I just wanted to be sure there would not be any of these asinine objections they raised last night.

Is it in order——

I repeat the word "asinine".

Is it in order for the Leader of the House to refer to objections made on any subject as being asinine?

It is, if they are.

Last night's objections were asinine.

I want a ruling from the Chair. Is it in order for the Leader of the House to refer to the deliberations here as being asinine? Is it parliamentary?

On an agriculture Bill, it does not seem to be very much out of order. Senator Murphy, to continue.

I thought I was in possession and that the amendment before the House——

One can be abusive on an agriculture Bill? That is the Cathaoirleach's standard?

Does the Senator want a division on the amendment?

As it is now within a few minutes of 10.30, this is the time at which we decide to adjourn. We may go on with the division, and then we shall take the motion for the Adjournment after the division.

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand".
The Committee divided: Tá 29; Níl, 13.

  • Ahern, Liam.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brennan, John J.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Cole, John C.
  • Dolan, Séamus.
  • Eachthéirn, Cáit Uí.
  • Egan, Kieran P.
  • Farrell, Joseph.
  • Fitzsimons, Patrick.
  • Flanagan, Thomas P.
  • Honan, Dermot P.
  • McGlinchey, Bernard.
  • McGowan, Patrick.
  • Martin, James J.
  • Nash, John Joseph.
  • Ó Donnabháin, Seán.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • Ó Maoláin, Tomás.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick (Longford).
  • Ormonde, John.
  • O'Sullivan, Ted.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Patrick W.
  • Ryan, William.
  • Sheldon, William A.W.
  • Teehan, Patrick J.
  • Yeats, Michael.

Níl

  • Carton, Victor.
  • Conlan, John F.
  • Crowley, Patrick.
  • Davidson, Mary F.
  • McAuliffe, Timothy.
  • McDonald, Charles.
  • McHugh, Vincent.
  • Malone, Patrick.
  • Murphy, Dominick F.
  • O'Quigley, John B.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick (Cavan).
  • Quinlan, Patrick M.
  • Rooney, Éamon.
Tellers:—Tá, Senators Browne and Farrell; Níl, Senators Crowley and McAuliffe.
Question declared carried.

Amendment No. 12.

But that has not been moved before 10.30 p.m.

It has been dealt with already.

Yes, a whole lot of them were dealt with together. In the name of Providence let us get rid of them now.

I move amendment No. 12:

In subsection (1), line 30, to delete "at his discretion".

Question put: "That the words proposed to be deleted stand."
The Committee divid ed: Tá, 29; Níl, 13.

  • Ahern, Liam.
  • Boland, Gerald.
  • Brennan John J.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Cole, John C.
  • Flanagan, Thomas P.
  • Honan, Dermot P.
  • McGlinchey, Bernard.
  • McGowan, Patrick.
  • Martin, James J.
  • Nash, John Joseph.
  • Ó Donnabháin, Seán.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • Ó Maoláin, Tomás.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick (Longford).
  • Dolan, Séamus.
  • Eachthéirn, Cáit, Uí.
  • Egan, Kieran P.
  • Farrell, Joseph.
  • Fitzsimons, Patrick.
  • Ormonde, John.
  • O'Sullivan, Ted.
  • Ryan, Eoin.
  • Ryan, James.
  • Ryan, Patrick W.
  • Ryan, William.
  • Sheldon, William A.W.
  • Teehan, Patrick J.
  • Yeats, Michael.

Níl

  • Carton, Victor.
  • Conlan, John F.
  • Crowley, Patrick.
  • Davidson, Mary F.
  • McAuliffe, Timothy.
  • McDonald, Charles.
  • McHugh, Vincent.
  • Malone, Patrick.
  • Murphy, Dominick F.
  • O'Quigley, John B.
  • O'Reilly, Patrick (Cavan).
  • Quinlan, Patrick M.
  • Rooney, Éamon.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Browne and Farrell; Níl, Senators Malone and McDonald.
Question declared carried.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Seanad adjourned at 10.50 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 3rd August, 1967.