The Bill proposes to amend the Milk (Regulation of Supply and Price) Act, 1936, so that the election of members of the Dublin District Milk Board which is due to be held this year may be held in 1968 instead. The reason for this change is that the situation arising from the outbreaks of foot and mouth disease in Britain make it most desirable that the election should not take place at present.
Hitherto elections of members of milk boards have been conducted by postal ballot. I do not consider, however, that postal balloting is a satisfactory system for such elections. For example, secrecy cannot always be ensured and there is a risk of abuse through such occurrences as ballot papers getting into the hands of persons other than those entitled to vote. For these reasons I arranged for a change in the election system so that in future voting would be by secret ballot at polling stations provided by the milk board concerned. I might add that the question of making a similar change in the election of members of An Bord Bainne is being examined.
Because of the crisis created by the foot and mouth disease outbreaks in Britain it is very important that the congregation of voters at rural polling stations should be avoided at present, and, therefore, that the election for the Dublin Board should not be held until 1968. Section 1 of the Bill provides for this. It will not, however, affect subsequent elections to the Dublin Board which will, therefore, take place in 1970 and each third year thereafter. Neither will it affect elections to the Cork District Milk Board which is the only other board established under the principal Act.
As I have already indicated in the Dáil, an election of members of the Dublin Board will be held as soon as possible in 1968 after the risks arising from the foot and mouth disease outbreaks in Britain have passed.
There is some doubt as to whether the power under the principal Act to make an Order appointing an election day automatically includes power to revoke such an Order. Section 3 of the Bill is designed to remove any doubt that may exist in regard to the recent order revoking the 1967 election day Order for the Dublin Board.
I now commend the Bill to the House and ask that it be given a Second Reading.