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Seanad Éireann debate -
Thursday, 30 Jul 1970

Vol. 68 No. 17

Horse Industry Bill, 1970: Second Stage.

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

In this Bill we are dealing with those recommendations of the survey team on the horse breeding industry that relate to the setting up of a horse board; the licensing of horse riding establishments; the provision of national training centres and the miscellaneous problems associated with improving the Irish horse industry both at home and abroad. The Bill does not involve the thoroughbred industry but it is of particular concern to farmers who breed non-thoroughbred horses.

In present day circumstances the best market is for the pleasure horse— the hunter, the showjumper, the three-day-eventer, the riding pony. This country is very favourably circumstanced to produce such horses. My Department is encouraging farmers, through nominations and foaling premiums, to keep brood mares of the right kind and to breed from them. It is also supplementing the efforts of stallion owners by locating Irish draught and thoroughbred stallions in areas where there is need for them. In addition it subsidises the Connemara Pony Breeders' Society in their work of fostering our native breed of ponies. All these are efforts to expand production of horses of the right kinds and since the number of nominations awarded in 1970—over 6,000—was more than double the number awarded three years ago we may hope that we are succeeding.

Production is of course only half the story. The other half concerns everything that needs to be done to promote the Irish horse. This is where the horse board comes in.

The survey team drew up a list of functions for the board which are reflected in section 7 of the Bill. It will be seen that they are very far ranging and amount in fact, when coupled with my Department's horse breeding schemes, to a programme of development for the non-thoroughbred horse industry of this country. Not only will the board co-ordinate activities and run a national training centre but it will help national teams to compete at equestrian events, will see to the training of riding instructors, do publicity on horses, help the trade in non-thoroughbred horses in various ways and provide for an apprenticeship scheme in farriery. In addition to these executive functions the board will act as my advisers on horse breeding generally. Moreover, provision is made for giving the Board extra functions if experience shows that this is desirable.

There are two functions which I want to dwell on. Of the board's executive functions I think it fair to say that none will be more important than the establishment and running of a national training centre. It is my hope and conviction that this will become the focus for progress in horse riding. As a sport, as a means of publicising our horses, and even as a matter of national prestige, horsemanship is something we do well to foster. We should not feel aggrieved if we do not always dominate international jumping events. What we should aim at is to enable the talent we have in horses and riders to find full development. Many wonderful successes have been achieved in the past by both our Army and civilian riders and I am confident that the national training centre will be the means by which we can be sure of maintaining the traditions and standards that have been handed down.

The second function is that which will make the board my advisers on horse breeding. It would be hard to exaggerate the importance of sound advice on this subject. Many people have strong and divergent views on it and I will look to the board for co-ordinated recommendations which will not merely be right but will be accepted as right by breeders. Change, where change is needed, can only come about slowly given the span of years it takes to produce a mature horse and so continuity of advice and advisers will be vital.

It will be evident that the board will have a very onerous job to do. Only men with outstanding qualities could hope to do it. Sections 8 and 9 of the Bill deal with the appointment of members and of the chairman. The board is to have not more than eleven members; they will be appointed by me and where appropriate I shall be consulting the horse organisations about the selection of people to serve on it. Some interests may not necessarily be represented by any organisation but I would propose that all interested parties should have a voice on the board. As it is important not to make the board unwieldy I have come to the conclusion that a maximum of 11 members is a fair assessment of the size needed for the board.

Much of the rest of Part II is made up of routine provisions necessary for a statutory body. The board will be a body corporate, it will have a seal, and members must disclose any interest they have in proposed contracts. The procedure at meetings of the board is detailed in section 12; it must furnish audited accounts and an annual report and it may employ staff who may be delegated to carry out its functions. Other powers of the board related to acquiring premises, buying and selling horses, borrowing, the making of grants or loans, investment of funds, acquisition and disposal of land and the acceptance of gifts.

I would draw particular attention to section 25 of the Bill. This enables the board to appoint such committees as it thinks fit to help it in executing its functions and these committees may include persons who are not members of the board itself. This is in line with a recommendation by the survey team. Allied to this is a recommendation by the team that the board should itself have an advisory consultative council. Since most of the value to be derived from outside opinion could be available to the board through its committees and since the addition of a consultative council would tend towards undue complexity of structure, it has been decided not to provide for a consultative council.

I come now to Part 3 of the Bill, which deals with the licensing of horse riding establishments. The board will have the function of advising on the conditions to be attached to licences.

A licence will be required under section 28 for any establishment as defined at section 27. In order to avoid disruption of operations various periods of grace are allowed under section 28 to existing operators and to those who buy establishments and to the personal representatives of deceased licensees.

Section 29 outlines the objectives against which applications for licensing will be assessed. Broadly speaking they may be summed up as concerning the welfare of the horses and the safety of the riders. The section also outlines the procedure to be followed when licences are refused or revoked. Powers of inspection are provided for at section 30. Section 31 deals with miscellaneous offences which again are concerned with the welfare of horses and the safety of riders.

Section 26 gives power to exempt particular classes of business from licensing. Experience may show that it is unnecessary to control small-scale operators on the one hand or on the other operators engaged solely in hiring out hunters. I have no views on these subjects at present but it seems wiser to allow for the possibility of exemption.

Part III will not come into operation automatically. An order under section 34 will be necessary for the purpose. I shall seek the advice of the board on when to make this order.

I commend this Bill to the House. In doing so I should like to pay tribute to that body of men who as the survey team on the horse breeding industry produced the report on which the Bill is based.

I sincerely hope the Minister does not expect us to take all Stages of this Bill in 20 minutes because I feel this is one of the most important Bills relating to Irish agriculture which have come before the House for quite a while. The position of the horse industry in this country has been declining. This Bill is needed. I welcome it to the House. The work of the survey team has been most painstaking. Criticism of the report has been minimal. The great pity has been the fact that it has taken the Department of Agriculture and the Minister four years to bring this Bill before the House.

The Horse Industry Bill, 1970, follows the recommendations of the survey team closely. I find the scope of the Bill and its clauses excellent. It is implemented by a well-chosen board. Its effects could be far-reaching and gainful in terms of prestige to Ireland. I specially like sections 25 (2), 31 (c) and 31 (d) and in section 7 paragraphs (f), (g) and (k). In sections 7 (1) (b) and 7 (1) (d) the words "with the consent of the organisations or groups affected" were requested by them. This clearly shows the desire for and the need for progressive harmony. The Minister has stressed this in his opening speech. I hope we will have on this new board the best possible personnel appointed. If one of the board should be strong enough to express a view or hold a point of view that perhaps might not be in line with the Establishment he should be encouraged and should not get short shrift as has happened in similar situations on other boards in the not too distant past.

Section 7 (i) provides for money to meet the cost of horses used by the teams. This is a real need in order to face increased competition and keep up the prestige of Ireland and the Irish horse. This is an important section. I should like to see the new horse board being able to spend rather lavishly under this section. I would like to ask the Minister if it would be possible for the new board to allow expenses to riders who may be representing this country in interational competitions overseas. The position is that when an Irish rider in past years had a big run of successes in international shows in places like South America or Britain or throughout Europe the onus of "filling the cup" fell very heavily on such young riders, especially when we had an all-Army team competing. This was an unnecessary burden on these people. I hope in the future when the board have responsibility in this matter and when Irish riders riding for Ireland win trophies there will be a fund available which will enable our riders to be as generous as the representatives of other national teams and to be able to partake in the expected celebrations. This is important. Some of these young officers in the Army got an increase of only £4 a year. These people must be able to stand abreast with the best in the world especially when they win important competitions.

Section 13 is the kernel of the success of the board. Without sufficient funds it would become only a target for criticism. Sections 14, 15, 16, 17, 24 and 25 are first-class. In Part III, section 28 implies that riding establishments either existing, purchased or inherited within three months, do not require a licence. I am not clear on this particular point. I know the Minister mentioned it in the Second Reading speech but I should like him to clarify the position. Are these people exempt completely from the licence? Will they get a period of grace in order to get administration in order? Has the Minister in mind three months in order to take out administration? I think he is out of touch with the Land Registry, because any change in administration, in my limited experience of this type of thing, has taken more than a year. If this is the case the Minister should make reasonable provision for this. It is unheard of that anybody can have probate proceedings dealt with in three months. It is certainly not the general rule.

Parts I and II of the Bill are designed to encourage and promote the profitable production of non-thoroughbred horses and children's ponies and donkeys for export, tourism and home use and to maintain the prestige of the Irish horse.

The ideal end product is of course the thoroughbred colt, the successful showjumper, the show horse and the three day competitor. By-products are the three-quarter bred or half-bred hunter and the yearling and the draught gelding for pulling caravans and farm work. The demand in Continental armies for horses is of course a less significant outlet in these latter years. The second-rate horse that there was a market for certainly does not pay at the present time, and it will not pay the Irish farmer to produce a second-rate horse, especially in the Irish draught class. This is where this Bill comes in. It seems to me that if we have stallions which are not up to the mark these should be either sent to the slaughter house—and I regret to have to say that quite plainly—or exported to our competitors. These are the only alternatives that I can suggest.

Clearly it is quality rather than quantity of production with which we should be concerned, and the farmers of Ireland should not be encouraged to produce a growing number of animals for a decreasing demand which must surely lose them money. The first essential is to preserve and improve our diminishing stock of quality clean draught hunter mares, because breeding from draught mares is one step further from the more profitable end product that is obtained from breeding from half-bred mares, which is what the farmers must be encouraged to do. The new board that is envisaged under this Bill must give the greatest possible incentives to the breeders of purebred Irish draught mares, because as the Minister and everyone in the industry know this is the foundation stock of our so successful Irish hunter and Irish half-bred.

The main thing that the board will have to do is to open an effective registering scheme and stock book, and there will be an outlet of course for serviceable fillies for export. A small stud should be kept or the State should own or lease a farm for demonstration purposes for farmers, tourists, or even foreign buyers. At present breeders experience great hardship and difficulties in having to travel long distances to see stallions and to see if they are suitable for their particular mares or not. Over the past this has been the experience, and in view of the fact that the fertility rate is so low the Department will have to provide proper off-season quarters for the stallions. Just before the beginning of the season, then, they could very usefully bring them to one or two centres so that farmers could see and select horses that in their opinion would be the most suitable for their particular mares. It has been known for men who went to see horses in different parts of the country to find these animals on rather rough grazing in the winter without being housed. With animals maintained in this fashion it is not surprising that the fertility rate is so deplorably low.

The Minister now has a great opportunity, and a badly needed one, to improve the conditions under which horses are maintained.

Section 25 of the Bill can be used to co-ordinate the efforts of the Department's nomination and registration schemes, the RDS premium scheme and the Irish Horse Breeders' Association registration of mares scheme. I should like to pay tribute to the Wicklow County Council. In each year they have a special valuable class prize for registered Irish draught mares at the show in Blessington. This is a very wonderful thing, and it certainly encourages the Irish draught mare in the Leinster counties.

The second essential is to improve the quality of the stallions available to the small farmer breeder. The Department's stallions could well be gathered together in a winter centre which could be housed in some of the institute farms. We must have more co-operation in every aspect of agriculture. The Director of the Agricultural Institute spoke some time ago under the auspices of the Kane lectures and advocated greater co-operation amongst all those who are doing excellent work in the agricultural sphere. I would strongly urge and recommend that where suitable housing on the farm is available either under the care of the Agricultural Institute or the Department or the universities or indeed the National Stud these centres should be selected to provide winter quarters for some of these horses. They are all owned by the taxpayers, and red tape should be cut to the very minimum so that the most economical quarters possible for the Department's stock can be provided.

I have already mentioned the desirability of stallions being brought to suitable centres so that they can be fed. Otherwise we will have the position of the unfortunate farmer having to take his mare to the nearest and possibly most unsuitable horse that there might be in his own county. The Department, I must agree, have done their best over the years with the limited funds available to them, but of course limited funds have produced what I would call not a great standard of Irish draught and half-breds. We certainly require a sound quality class of proven jumping and staying strains, and we just have to get them if the place of the Irish horse is to be maintained in the world.

I have not got to remind the Minister and the Department that the Continentals very much dislike the white-legged stock, and I think that this should also be remembered when our Department inspectors go out to buy stallions. I also feel that the stock could be improved by making stallion keeping more profitable and by insisting on higher feeding and management standards. We could greatly overcome the difficulties in this regard if the Department were to take these horses to the National Stud or some of the State farms for the off season. In addition these stallions should be changed around each year and should not be sent to the same farmer each year, so that farmers in the different counties will have an opportunity of availing of the services of the better class stallions at some stage or other.

The Department stallion owners should keep a fair share of thoroughbred mares. This would tend to increase the incomes of the stallion keeper. This increased income is needed to bring about the desirable and obviously necessary improvement in management standards. Of course a 50 per cent live foal rate for nominated mares is pitifully low. I have taken this figure from one of the Minister's speeches in the Dáil, I think his Second Reading speech. I was rather taken aback by the low rate. It is indicated in the report, and I feel we should adopt the suggestion, that the survey team have strongly recommended measures to deal with this low figure. I sincerely hope the board will be instructed to endeavour to improve the situation as much as possible.

It is now 10 p.m., the usual time for the adjournment.

I indicated throughout the afternoon that it is intended to complete the Bill today.

I did not hear the Senator.

I indicated today that it was proposed to continue this sitting until all the measures on the Order Paper had been completed. I indicated it again this afternoon. Indeed, it is the concensus that we should complete the business so that the country Senators could get home.

I think we are prepared to hack on.

Could we leave the Committee Stage over until October, or until we meet next?

The Senator will be aware of the desirability of implementing this Bill as soon as possible. The sooner we get it into law the better for the horse industry.

I would be one of the first to appreciate that. It is now after 10 p.m. and there are still a few Senators who have indicated their desire to speak on this Stage. I regard this matter as being of such importance that we should go into it carefully and not rush it. This is an industry which has not got a fair crack of the whip up to now. The Bill should not be rushed through or skimmed over.

It is not being rushed through. I indicated the intention early today and spoke about this Bill on many occasions throughout the day.

Senator McDonald is not challenging that in any way.

I am challenging it.

Senator McDonald is wondering if the Minister might leave the Committee Stage over until later. Possibly with the goodwill of the Leaders on both sides it might be agreed to take the Committee Stage, say, sometime in September.

Definitely not. I do not know what arrangement has been made between Senators O'Higgins and Ó Maoláin, but if we are to arrange another date for the Committee Stage it must be next week. No Senator going on holidays would wish to come back here in September. I feel I am speaking for the general majority on all sides of the House. We are prepared to sit next week to get to the end of this business. I think it is correct to say that the majority of Senators want to get to the end of this Bill but they do not wish to be rushed in any way and they very definitely do not wish to be brought back here in September. With the Dáil not reassembling until the end of October, that would be downright wrong, in my view.

The Senator's memory is very short. I said at the start of business today that my aim was that this House would rise, sine die, tonight, simultaneously with the Dáil and the whole operation up to now has been aimed in that direction. There is no question of rushing or pressing anybody. The House sat until quarter past midnight this morning. We have still nearly 2½ hours to go to that time. It will not kill anybody to go on and discuss this Bill thoroughly. There are a lot of strong young men over on that side of the House.

I agree with Senator Belton. Legislation of this kind should not be rushed through. The Leader of the House said there was agreement today but since the time is now so late and the Seanad has sat for such long hours, it is suppressing the scope of the House to insist on continuing discussion of such an important measure. Nobody thought this morning that we would still be here at 10 p.m. and only beginning discussion of this Bill, which is so long overdue. A survey team was set up in 1965, a report was issued, and five years elapsed before the Government thought of taking action on it.

The Senators have wasted 15 minutes since this discussion began.

We could come back next week, or tomorrow, for that matter.

This is entirely a matter for the House. The Leader of the House has proposed that we take the remaining Stages of the Bill and I am putting that motion.

I do not think we should divide on this matter. It is a pity we cannot get agreement. Surely if the industry has waited 4½ years for this measure, since the report was published, it can wait for a month longer? We might have some hope of finishing the Second Stage tonight but I think it is unfair of the Leader of the House to expect all Stages.

The Chair suggests we continue to discuss the Second Stage and that we then decide on the later Stages.

Last night Senator Ó Maoláin made a suggestion that we sit late and we gave him that concession on the Finance Bill. We sat until 12.15 a.m. Does he want us to sit in the same conditions tonight? I was here until the conclusion of the Finance Bill last night, as Senator Ó Maoláin will agree. Does he want the same conditions to prevail tonight?

The Chair suggests we should conclude the Second Stage. A decision will have to be made at the end of that discussion. We cannot have the present discussion continuing indefinitely.

Most Senators are very tired. This House is not used to these long sittings. If we are adjourning at all tonight it should be until tomorrow.

Or next week.

There are only a couple of city Members on that side. What is all this talk about being tired? We are interested in getting this Bill passed so that persons whom it is aimed at will benefit. I do not see how a couple of hours longer will tire any body. They are all young men over there.

This discussion will end. Senator McDonald on the Second Stage of the Bill.

The idea of a national centre to co-ordinate non-thoroughbred equinistic activities is very welcome. Perhaps this centre could be used also to provide courses for children as well as adults because there will be many people who will wish to learn the basic elements of horse riding. Very often people— farmers in particular—buy horses for their children and these animals may be entirely unsuitable, so much so that the children would be put off horse riding for life.

It happened to myself.

It can happen when young children are put on an animal that is not very quiet. These courses would encourage the formation of pony clubs in rural Ireland. This is an important feature. Throughout the country there are vast tracts of forests and other places that would be ideal for pony riding and pony trekking where people could jog along in peace and quiet hearing nothing but the singing of the birds. Trekking activities should be encouraged as much as possible.

Section 7 (1) (k) enables the board to aid the dying skill of the farrier or the old blacksmith. Most rural Senators will know that it is very difficult for a boy to become a competent farrier today. If he is apprenticed to the trade he will probably be put to electric welding and after some short time when he is deemed to be competent at this work he will be left at it. Blacksmiths should be given some incentive to train boys to the trade. I hope the board will be in a position to give some help such as a grant-in-aid towards the training of suitable apprentices. If some such scheme were announced I have no doubt there would be sufficient blacksmiths or master farriers willing to train boys and that there would be sufficient apprentices interested in the trade.

A publicity and information centre would, I am sure, encourage many people to come to Ireland in the hope of buying a genuine young horse from an Irish farm. Customers from abroad should be encouraged to do so. I intended dealing with this aspect on the Tourist Traffic Bill but I did not do so. We should encourage the proprietors of farm guesthouses to provide ponies for trekking during the holiday season. This is the sort of thing on which there could be co-operation between Bord na gCapall and Bord Fáilte. It would not be unreasonable to expect such co-operation between two semi-State bodies.

Perhaps the Minister when he is replying will be able to tell us why is his Department have decided to reduce from £4,000 to £1,000 the grant-in-aid to the Connemara Pony Breeders' Society this year. I am taking the figure from the Estimates for Public Services for the current year. Perhaps one explanation might be that this excellent organisation received some special grant in aid last year but I do not know if that is so. If this organisation have no premises of their own it would be in the interests of the industry that the board would provide them with headquarters on the lines of a farm. It has been left to a few individuals to preserve what is perhaps one of the only pure Irish breeds of pony—the Connemara pony. In my own county Lady de Vesci has done wonderful work in bringing out the pure strain of the Connemara pony. These ponies fetch very profitable prices on the foreign market. They can provide a wonderful source of revenue but the danger is that too many of the better type of animals are finding homes abroad. Certainly, this cannot be in the best interest of the industry. Bord na gCapall will have a responsibility to ensure that an adequate share of the best prize winning Connemara ponies will be kept in this country for stud purposes.

I should like to mention also children's ponies and donkeys. The production of children's ponies is simply a non-paying proposition for the average farmer. With stud fees ranging from £10 to £20 and the top prices at about £50 for a weaning colt and £100 for a filly I cannot see how this would do much more than cover the cost involved in producing this kind of stock. Usually, also, a five- or six-year old trained pony will not fetch much more than that and a coloured donkey foal will command in the region of £100. These, of course, are scarce also but unfortunately too many are exported. There is great danger that the Irish stock of these animals will dwindle away. Publicity and sales promotion are required to make donkey breeding profitable.

May I ask what the intention of the House is at the moment?

The House will continue the Second Reading of the Horse Industry Bill.

Until when?

Until the Second Reading is finished. It will then be a matter for the House to decide when to take the Committee Stage.

We are already beyond our scheduled sitting hours.

It is customary to adjourn at 10 p.m. but there is nothing in Standing Orders. There are no specific sitting hours.

I think the House should determine what it will do.

Nothing can be done. It is a matter for the decision of the House when the Committee Stage is to be taken once the Second Reading of the Bill is completed.

I accept the Chair's ruling.

The demand for trained and quiet walking horses for hauling caravans is far from satisfied at the present time. These horses usually fetch £150 or more. This is a useful outlet for the by-product of the purebred Irish draught breeder. Last year I saw many of these horse-drawn caravans being used by tourists on country roads. Quite obviously most of these people did not have any instruction on the handling, care or maintenance of the animals. It is a pitiful sight to see a horse obviously ill-fed and in bad-condition walking along the road. I do not want to decry this type of holiday, in fact it is a lovely way to spend a holiday but the people who hire out these horses have an obligation in the humane sense to the stock they own to instruct the hirers how to look after them. I hope the Minister will take appropriate powers to ensure that regulations are drawn up whereby an urbanite who hires a horse and caravan will find a list in the caravan telling him what he should and should not do. I have been told of an incident where a horse hired out for a week was not taken out of its shafts because the hirer was worried in case he could not get him back in. This is a terrible way to treat an animal who has been described as man's best friend. This must be controlled if we are to keep our tradition of being a horse-loving nation.

There is one point in the report to which I cannot fully subscribe. It is recommendation No. 17 at page 12 of the Report on the Horse-breeding Industry, which states:

The Team are of the opinion that the Scheme operated by the County Committees of Agriculture is inadequate——

I certainly agree with that. It continues:

——and that it should be replaced by a national scheme to be operated directly by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. In the Team's view, it is essential that the selection of mares should be based on a higher standard and that the standard should be uniform throughout the whole country.

This is possibly true but breeders have expressed dissatisfaction at the change-over since the Department started operating the scheme which was heretofore operated by the county committees. The entire situation has moved further from the breeders and there is a greater time lag. I read somewhere else in the report that it was suggested there should be only three teams of judges for inspecting mares for nomination. I agree with this because the standard varies greatly from county to county.

Again I should like to draw the Minister's attention to the great need for having a meaningful stock book or stud book for the Irish draught breed and the half-bred as well. I whole-heartedly support the suggestion made in recommendation No. 19 that the problem could be solved by tattooing mares selected for nomination and subsequently tatooing the progeny. I understand the system of tattooing on the upper lip has been successfully operated in the USA. I hope this system can be brought in here so that we can have a stud book for the Irish draught horse, the half-bred and the Connemara pony. I have already mentioned that the Minister has cut back the grant-in-aid to the Connemara Pony Breeders' Association. I sincerely hope these people will get adequate funds because the task they perform is a sizeable one. It is imperative that the board should be given adequate and sufficient funds to do this work. I hope when the Minister comes to make regulations there will be a certain degree of flexibility in them so that Bord na gCapall will be able to follow the varying trends in the prices of horses.

I cannot over-emphasise the position of the Irish Draught Horse Board. I understand they have been in the Department of Agriculture since the book started in 1927 or 1928. I understand from breeders that it is impossible for an ordinary breeder to trace an animal or the progeny of an animal through the Department's system. It is just not available to the public or breeders without a tremendous amount of red tape. The new Irish draught book should be on a par with the cattle breeding herd books. This should not be impossible to do. In the summary of recommendations recommendation No. 11 states:

The Irish Draught Horse Scheme should be recast to provide for (a) a three man inspection team (b) payment to stallion owners of £5 service fee and £5 premium on production of a live foal and (c) payment of a premium of £25 to mare owners on production of a live foal.

These figures are too low. I am sure the Minister agrees that the ordinary farmer invariably has to pay between £7 and £10 nomination for a service. As there is a great scarcity of Irish draught a definite financial inducement must be given to Irish farmers to keep this breed of horse on Irish farms. I would ask that recommendation No. 11 on page 34 be brought up to date. These recommendations are already four years old and the value of the £ has fallen to such an extent that the figure of £5 should be increased. Recommendation No. 15 deals with the problem of identification of half-bred stock. This recommendation must be adopted if the board is to be meaningful in any way at all.

Sections 6 and 7 deal with the board and the personnel. The present situation calls for a very strong board. I hope that the Minister will select people engaged in the industry and ancillary to it who have, by their own prowess, proved themselves to be masters in association with the Irish horse and horse industry. The personnel of the board should be the best people available in the country. The number of members of the board is restricted to 11. Perhaps this is a pity. There are 12 or 13 horse bodies interested in the industry. They are: All Ireland Polo Club; Bloodstock Breeders' and Horse Owners' Association of Ireland; Connemara Pony Breeders' Association; The Hunters Improvement and National Light Horse Breeding Society; Irish Masters of Fox Hounds' Association; Irish Olympic Horse Society; Irish Pony Club Advisory Board; Irish Show Pony Society; National Farmers' Association; R.D.S.; The Show Jumping Association of Southern Ireland; Stallion Owners' Association of Southern Ireland. These bodies offered recommendations and reports to the survey team. They represent different areas of the industry. They would have something to add which would make the work of the board more worthwhile. These bodies are all voluntary organisations and are doing a good job in their own speheres. I would not like to start bulking them together. From these organisations the Minister will have great scope in picking a sound and interesting team.

Section 7 (1) (c) reads:

(c) to establish, equip and operate or cause to be operated on its behalf a national centre or national centres for training in equitation.

I hope this would mean national centres. We normally expect when anything like this is established that it will come to Dublin. The city of Dublin should not be the centre for this. I would like to see the centre somewhere in Kildare, which would be more appropriate.

Speaking of hunting, I regard it as perhaps the only free sport left in this country. It has attracted many people who are not members of any hunt. Some of these people have no regard for the free ranges they ride over. It is scandalous that people should treat farmers' property so carelessly. This will not help hunting in this country. There have been instances where people cut wires, let cattle out and left gates open. It is up to the hunts to see that their members respect private property.

Section 7 (1) (i) relates to the export trade. The board will advise the Minister as to how to promote and develop the export trade of horses other than thoroughbred horses. I am not happy about this. The board's primary function should be to build up the stock of the Irish breeding horse to ensure that we will have something to export. If the present trend continues we will be left with nothing but second-rate horses. The Minister should ensure that this does not happen.

Section 9 relates to the chairman of the board. Why does the Minister find it necessary to appoint every chairman to the board? The Minister for Health was quite agreeable when dealing with the Health Bill to appoint the first chairman only of the Health Board. The health boards are doing a very important job. Some people might consider the job of the health boards much more important than that of the Horse Board. Could the Minister give any reason for appointing every chairman to this board or say why the chairman cannot resign, if he wants to, without first informing the Minister? Perhaps this is normal procedure and it may be laid down in the articles of association in all semi-State bodies.

Section 12 (7) deals with the quorum of the board for a meeting. Could the Minister visualise a situation where after some disagreement all the members of the board walk out, except three? Can these three men ring the Minister and ask him to make a regulation that the quorum be three? This could conceivably happen. Why does the Minister want power to fix a quorum by direction or by order? Is it not sufficient to say that the quorum of the board meeting shall be five?

Is this a speech on the Committee Stage?

Senator McDonald is in order.

He is taking the Bill section by section.

I have only referred to two or three sections. I am entitled to speak on any section I like. I will take as much time as I like.

Senator McDonald to continue on the Bill.

If I skip from section 12 to section 23 I am not dealing with the Bill section by section. I would like to ask the Minister to clarify the position. Unless I get these clarifications I will not have an opportunity of putting down amendments. I insist on my right to mention these points. Section 23 (1) (a) contains a line I am interested in, which reads as follows:

if it should sooner happen, upon his resignation or retirement...

It is usual that when employees of either local authorities or semi-State organisations are elected to either House of the Oireachtas they are automatically seconded from their employment. The position is that if they pay their superannuation contributions they can keep their pension rights alive. Is this different from other legislation where it is suggested that the board may terminate the employment of an employee who becomes a Member of this House? It is an interesting point. Again, it may be in other legislation. I do not know. I should like to have the matter clarified. Section 29 (2) states:

A licence may be granted with or without limitation on its validity. Subsection (3) (a) states:

Whenever the Minister proposes to refuse to grant a licence, he shall, before doing so, notify the applicant for the licence of his intention and the reasons therefor...

I agree the period of 14 days has been increased from a period of seven days, but I think it is a rather short period. For instance, when the Minister gives notice he takes 30 days. I do not think, therefore, it is unreasonable to ask for 30 days all round. If the Minister wants that period, surely the ordinary citizen is entitled to it also? Very often there may be correspondence from a Department. It could be dated 10th of the month, but it may not be in the post for several days afterwards. I ask that the period of 30 days be substituted here.

Section 29 (2) (b) (ii) states that if a person makes a request to the Minister, within seven days after the date of the giving of the notification for the holding of an inquiry in relation to the matter, the Minister shall cause an inquiry to be held. Seven days is a very short time. An applicant for a licence can be ill, or at a show, and he may overlook the matter for two or three days. Then, a bank holiday might intervene. Therefore, the limit is inadequate. It is not a matter of tremendous importance to the Minister and I see no reason why the time should not be extended to 30 days.

In his opening speech the Minister referred to section 31 and said it looked after the welfare of horses and their riders. I cannot find this provision in that section. Perhaps I have misread it but I should be obliged if the Minister pointed out to me where he safeguards the riders, bearing in mind that some of them may be children of tender years.

There are many other matters I wish to refer to but I can deal with them on Committee Stage. All in all, I think this industry has great development scope and that it can be built into a business which will be of tremendous benefit to the entire farming community, both economically and socially. I sincerely hope the Minister will give us an opportunity of tabling some minor amendments to the Bill, which in general is welcomed. It is a good Bill, though there are some small sections about which I have doubts. With a bit of give-and-take, I think we can make it into a Bill that will be of great help in building up the industry.

I, too, wish to welcome the Bill. I look forward to the benefits which I feel sure will flow from it. Everybody will agree that the horse industry has great potential in this country but in recent years this potential has not been fully realised. This Bill will go a long way towards ensuring that this potential will be realised.

The Bill places great emphasis on the organisation of schools of equitation and it gives wide powers to the board and to the Minister in various spheres of the horse industry. I hope the board will not only ensure that these schools of equitation will be efficiently organised but that when it comes to the selection of horses for riders to use at international and National competitions, the horses will be well selected. The successes which our jumping teams had before the war were due very largely to the flare and the skill used in the selection of horses.

The comparative lack of success in recent years was due to some lack of skill in the selection of horses. There is no doubt that on many occasions our teams had the experience of being beaten by Irish horses at competitions abroad, horses which could have been selected for and ridden by our teams. This was due to some extent to the fact that funds were no provided for the Army jumping team or for the provision of horses for others riding in those competitions. Indeed, it was not merely a lack of funds but a lack of skill, or flare, in the selection of horses. These are things that cannot be provided for in legislation and the new board being set up should do their utmost to ensure that the horses which are provided for those trained in equitation schools are the best possible, having regard to the funds available.

One of the functions of the board will be to co-ordinate and to undertake publicity on horses. This, of course, could take many forms but one aspect which could, perhaps, be reconsidered is the Presidential escort which was allowed to lapse many years ago. The discontinuance of this escort was deplored by many people. In this country where so much importance attaches to the horse industry, it is an inconsistency that there should be a motorbike escort instead of a horse escort.

The Senator cannot be serious.

This escort could be the showpiece of the horse industry. People coming to visit this country would be very impressed by such an escort and, also, our finest horses would be on show. Therefore, not only from the point of view of the industry itself but from the point of view of tourism, this could be a great attraction indeed. In this context I need hardly remind the House of the play made by the British Tourist Associations of such pageantry as the Changing of the Guard and so on. Tourists to Great Britain take great pleasure in this. This is one of the many aspects of the industry to which the board might give attention.

Another aspect of the horse industry which is not at the moment under the direct control of the Minister but one on which he should use his influence is in relation to the recent policy of the Racing Board concerning some of the smaller race courses. I understand that they are withdrawing grants and subsidies to some of these smaller courses and that, as a result, some may have to close or at least limit the number of meetings. This decision could have a very damaging effect on the industry. Having race courses in as many areas as possible is an incentive to the breeding and keeping of horses and helps the industry generally. I hope, therefore, that the new board and the Minister will use their influence in this matter. I do not propose to deal with any other points at this stage.

I welcome the establishment of this board and I appreciate the interest which has been taken in the horse breeding industry both by the present Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and by his predecessor. As the details of the establishment of the board have already been dealt with since the introduction of the Bill to Dáil Éireann, I shall not deal further with that aspect of it. However, I must advert to the fact that the board to be set up meets only very few of the recommendations of the survey team set up by the former Minister for Agriculture in 1965. For instance, one significant factor to be noted is in relation to liaison between the Minister and the county committees of agriculture with regard to the horse breeding industry since this report was published.

Up to not so very long ago the county committees of agriculture administered the scheme of premium mares. This was done with the approval of the Department who sent representatives to select these mares. Many of them were selected because the number of mares was diminishing each year in some rural areas. The Meath County Committee of Agriculture considered that it would be a tragedy if the supply of horses, say, half-bred horses or Irish draughts should diminish and that there would be no foundation stock for the breeding of the heavy-weight type of animal. We were perturbed about this and asked the Department to send a representative to discuss the problem with us. The Department complied with our request and, as a result of the discussions we had with the officer, certain recommendations were drawn up and given to him to take back to his superiors. Among those recommendations was a request for the location of two Irish draught sires in County Meath.

Our intention at that time was to upgrade the standard of mare in the county by breeding from good Irish draught stallions. After about two years and a lot of correspondence with the Department we never received any notice as to whether the two people we had nominated to be supplied with the sires had been so supplied. Eventually, however, we did hear from one man in south Meath that he had been supplied with an Irish draught sire. The second sire was to be located in north Meath but we heard nothing from the Department about that—no explanation of any kind. There should be greater liaison between the Department and the county committees of agriculture. The breeding of inferior type animals is of no use to the industry because these animals are fit only for selling as carcase meat.

I appeal to the Minister now when this board is being set up to keep in mind the county committees of agriculture and their advisers who, when the board has been established, can be of great help to them in their efforts to upgrade foundation stock.

I come back now to the Irish draught horse. We had more than enough of the heavy horse of the Clydesdale type. They served their purpose in the old days. Their days were numbered and people started to get rid of them. The farmer who was fond of horses usually kept a mare to do a bit of work and he bred a foal. We felt that the money spent by the Department was wasted, and that something would have to be done about it. Even though this legislation is belated we welcome it. I hope the Minister will take note of what I said about co-operation and liaison with the committees of agriculture, especially in the counties where the people are interested in horses. It is a very valuable industry. It would be a great pity if the foundation stock were to be lost and we had to go to foreign countries for others.

Mention has been made of a reduction in the grant for Connemara ponies. The Connemara Pony Breeders' Society have been in existence for a long number of years. They have justified their existence. They have found markets for ponies all over the world, practically. Connemara ponies are now being shown throughout the world. Most of the credit for that is due to the Connemara Pony Breeders' Society and to the help they got from the Department. I hope they will continue to do that good work.

The Minister is interested in horses. He comes from a county where good horses were bred and I know this matter is in very good hands. I hope that when he comes to select the members of Bord na gCapall men who have an interest in and experience of the horse breeding industry will be included on it. It would be a pity if the members were all to be selected from one section of the horse breeding industry. It would be a pity if somebody was not selected from the grass-roots section, somebody with a small farm who breeds a foal each year and keeps him until he is a two year old and is then broken as a hunter. All the representation on a board like that should not be given to the bigger type of farmer because that type of person has different interests. As I said, I know the matter is in good hands, in the hands of the Minister.

Dá mbeadh cúpla lá againn chuige agus dea-aoibh ar gach éinne, d'fhéadfaimis an-díospóireacht a chur ar siúl i nGaeilge ar an ábhar seo. Bhí an-chion ag muintir na hÉireann ar chapaill i gcónaí. Is mó tagairt a deineadh don chapall sa litríocht, sa bhéaloideas, san bhfilíocht agus ins na hamhráin, agus maidir le seanfhocail, cuimhnímid láithreach ar: "Mair, a chapaill, agus gheobhair féar". Sa chás ina bhfuilimid anocht, d'fhéadfaimis athrú beag a dhéanamh ar an seanfhocal céanna—"Mairigí, a lucht díospóireachta ar an gcapaill, agus gheobhaidh sibh bricfeasta".

Dhéanfaimis tagairt freisin don cheangal idir an Spáinn agus an tír seo agus ar an capall a tugadh aireas chugainn ón Spáinn breis is cúpla míle bliain ó shin. Tá an-cheangal idir "caballus" na Laidne, "caballo" sa Spáinnis agus "capall" sa Ghaeilge.

The passage of the Horse Industry Bill through the Dáil could probably be taken as a tribute to the stamina rather than the speed of the Irish horse. From the way things are shaping at the moment, it looks as if the passage of that Bill through the Seanad will be a like tribute. After that short bilingual canter I will now speak briefly on horses and the horse industry in general. I will do my best to move as expenditiously as possible.

The breeding of good horses is one of Ireland's outstanding accomplishments. As we know, that applies to all categories of thoroughbreds, steeplechasers, point-to-pointers, hunters, showjumpers, dressage performers, three-day eventers and last, but by no means least, Connemara ponies. To show the connection between what we call an English horse and what we call a pony I will go back to our own language. In our own language we call a horse "capall" and a pony is called "capaillín".

Irish horses have distinguished themselves on every racecourse in the world. Since the inception of the Aintree Grand National in 1839 they have more or less monopolised that race. There comes to mind this strange and rather annoying fact that, very often in racing circles, a horse bred in Ireland, bought by an English buyer and taken across to Britain, is subsequently referred to as being British bred. It is British owned certainly. We have no objection to the horse being described as British owned but, if it was bred in Ireland, we would like that fact to be made known. Our British friends have a habit of doing that kind of thing not alone in horse racing circles but in other sports.

We have made our mark in the world show grounds. The leading equestrian authority Fédération Esquestre Internationale has stated that between 1918 and 1949 the world's three best showjumpers were Blarney Castle, Limerick Lace and Red Hugh. Everyone should be extremely proud of this.

Mention was made of the draught mare and the hunter. A first class Irish hunter is probably unrivalled as a cross-country conveyance. No matter how exotic the sites may be or the strain from which they come I believe that it is the good, clean-legged, placid-tempered sturdy Irish farm mare that gives the bone and stamina to get them over fences in the hunt and that enables the animal to show a clean pair of heels at Beecher's Brook.

Of course we have many advantages, possibly all the advantages, as a horse breeding country. We have a mild climate allowing young stock to be out-of-doors nearly all year round, giving them a hardy constitution from foal-hood. Then we have the limestone soil supplying calcium for the making of bones. We have all the advantages but I believe that great as has been our horse industry we could be on the verge of a major breakthrough as far as the world market is concerned. Later I shall give some up-to-date figures on the export of horses both to Britain and EEC countries.

In this day and age we are inclined to go in for business in a big way and while stud farms are excellent in their own way, when this Bill passes through both Houses and things get under way I am sure things will be done on most efficient lines in all these stud farms. But I would again plead for help in every possible way for the small horse breeder, the man who is born with horses, whose parents had a special interest in horses, a tradition of horses in the family, and the man whose life is devoted to horses and horse breeding, a man who has a love for horses as most people have.

We now come to the Connemara pony. Many speakers have already referred to this wonderful little animal, probably the only breed that we can claim to be entirely native, or as native as any animal can be. Connemara ponies have been sent to India, California, Sweden, British Columbia, Denmark, Britain and France at all times of the year. Look at their record. The Connemara pony, Marconi, won the stallion championship of the USA in 1963. At Washington International Horse Show El Grotto a son of that animal, won the hunter championships against full-sized American showjumpers, and little Dundrum, that wonderful animal which one always associates with Tommy Wade, won the King George Gold Cup in London and on two occasions was instrumental in Ireland's winning the Aga Khan Cup here in Dublin.

The Connemara Little Model competed all over Europe and won the British Championship nine times in 11 years. These are a few instances but I think nobody can deny the excellence of the Connemara pony which is so peculiarly our own.

In a recent issue of Ireland of the Welcomes there is an excellent article dealing with horses and especially with the Connemara pony. Perhaps it is pertinent to the discussion to give a short quotation from it. One of the names of the original small horse was the “jinete” or “jaca” and in the Spanish of Latin America “galiceno” or “caballo de paso”. You had two kinds of horses there originally, as far as I know. You had the big war horse ridden by senior officers in the Roman Army and then you had the lighter horses for chariot racing and for general purposes. In fact it was the virtues of the Irish light horse which first attracted the attention of the English. They called it a “hobby” and in the continental campaigns of the 15th century employed large numbers of Irish mercenary light horsemen particularly at the Siege of Rouen. But the other forte of this Ibero-Irish pony was its performance at the amble and the pace, those “easy gaits” which were so much desired in the palfrey, the better-class travelling horse of western Europe, throughout the period between the ruin of the Roman imperial road system and the slow reconstruction which made the coach possible more than a thousand years later.

It was part of the conservatism of the Irish equestrian class that they not only retained the chariot— alone in Europe—until the days of St. Patrick, but they declined to take up that oriental gadget, the stirrup, until well after 1600, whereas other western nations had adopted it by about 900. They were, therefore, at pains to breed and train a horse that would give a comfortable ride all day without stirrups. That is very important when we come to think of the revolution as far as the horse is concerned, the almost total disappearance of the working horse on the farm, and the coming in a big way of the pleasure horse. We all regret the passing of the good old farm horse because everybody loves the horse or the mare. How children enjoyed, when they were small, their first ride on the horse when he came in from the fields!

They still do in some places.

In general, I am afraid the day is gone and it is only, I suppose, a matter of time before it is completely gone. I suppose it is the price we must pay for progress. In any case, in comes the pleasure horse in a big way. I think this Bill has, among other things, the machinery necessary for the improvement of that pleasure horse whether hunter, showjumper, three-day eventer or riding pony.

I have gone through this Bill very carefully but, to my mind, there is very little more that could be put into it. I think everything has been thought of. There is mention on page 2 of a very important item of information and guidance. It says that:

"horse" includes any mare, gelding, pony, foal, colt, filly or stallion and also——

here I shall not look at anybody on one side of the House or the other——

any ass, mule or jennet.

I do not think it is fair to look at the Chair.

This Bill is a mature document and great credit is certainly due to those who sat down and made all the necessary preparations for the framing of it.

All day long we were discussing the Tourist Bill. I think when this board is established and things get under way, I strongly recommend the closest liaison between that board and Bord Fáilte. They could learn a lot from each other because during the summer months and at other times of the year visitors from our towns and cities and from Britain and the Continent will be glad to take advantage of hunting, pony trekking and so on in this country. They can get it at a price for which they could not get it abroad. A French visitor in my own home recently was discussing racing in France. She indicated that as far as she and her people were concerned it was absolutely prohibitive. She was amazed that things were very different here. The promotion of the pleasure horse and the work of Bord Fáilte in making pleasure horses available at a reasonable price will have a very beneficial effect on our economy.

I have the utmost praise for this Bill. It is fine to say that such a Bill is long overdue. We all know it is and the Minister knows it too but all these things cannot be done at the one time. Thank God it is with us now and I look forward to great results from it.

The number of bloodstock horses we export is increasing every year. I notice from the latest report of Córas Tráchtála that the total number of horses exported in 1959 was 2,099; in 1968, 2,638; in 1969, 2,862. As far as the EEC countries are concerned the figures are very low but the increase in the numbers is remarkable. In 1959, it was only 95; in 1968, it was double that—194, and last year it was 247. The trend there is in the right direction.

Total exports of horses last year rose by £1.2 million to £6.4 million, bloodstock accounting for approximately £5.4 million of the total and £1.1 million of the increase. Bloodstock also increased by £1.1 million in 1968. Bloodstock exports to Britain were up from £3.6 million to £4.4 million and sales to other markets included the USA, France, Japan, Canada, Spain and the Philippines. Exports of other horses—hunters, et cetera were something just under a million pounds—£973,000 and they were up by £80,000. The principal markets again were Britain and Northern Ireland, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Western Germany. As things are we have profitable sales in these countries in Europe. I feel we can look forward to increased and far more profitable sales in the years to come.

I shall not go through this Bill section by section but at pages 3 and 4 the function of Bord na gCapall are indicated. About everything that could be thought of is included there—the training of persons in giving instruction in equitation, co-ordination and undertaking of publicity in horses, sales organisation of horses other than thoroughbred horses, to promote and develop the export trade of horses other than thoroughbred horses, to establish an administrative scheme of apprenticeship in farriery. I was delighted to see that. We have sentimental memories of the forge on our way home from school. We all remember the little poem about "The Smith a Mighty Man is He". With the exit of the horse, forges are few and far between. It is very difficult to get a good blacksmith now. He has transferred his skills to repairing farm machinery and so on. I am very glad to see that clause.

In connection with the riding establishments there is every conceivable precaution there to see that the work will be done properly and that there will be no question of cruelty to any animal by way of unsuitable accommodation, want of food, ventilation or drainage. I am glad about that because stories of ill-treatment of animals hurt one very much especially about the animals one sees going through the country pulling caravans along the roads at 1½ miles an hour or thereabouts. I suppose these stories are exaggerated.

This Bill is a tribute to those who framed it and to all those who did the preliminary work. I feel there is a great future for the horse industry. It was always good but I feel we are on the verge of a big breakthrough. This Bill will contribute in no small way to the realization of a bigger and better horse industry.

We are all under a debt of gratitude to the survey team who produced the report on which to a large measure this Bill was based. The report is an excellent one and the Bill itself is highly acceptable to most people also.

In case we are accused of rushing things, it says in the report of the survey team that the team was appointed in January, 1965 and the report of this team was signed on 11th May, 1966. Therefore four years elapsed before we got as far as implementing the report or putting it before the Oireachtas in the form of a Bill.

It is I suppose to be regretted that we must deal with the Bill at such speed on the last day of the session. I should like to quote from a speech delivered to the survey team by a former Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Haughey, in January, 1966. He said:

In your work I should like you to have access to the widest possible range of views.

That was the desire of the Minister who set up the team. I feel it would be wise to carry that a step further by providing every facility for having access to the widest possible range of view not only among people directly connected with the horse industry but of every member of the Senate. It would be worthwhile to hear the views of many more Senators than we hear from, many of whom would have a much more profound knowledge of the industry than I have. I am happy to welcome the Bill and I want to draw attention to one or two points which convince me that there was a need to set up this survey team as well as a need to introduce this Bill setting up Bord na gCapall. One thing which strikes one reading the survey team's report is that not all of the committees of agriculture submitted their views on the horse breeding industry to the team. Indeed, only 18 or 19 of the committees submitted their views, which indicates that all of the committees did not take the interest in this industry which one would have expected.

In so far as the Bill proposes to set up a central national agency to deal with this matter it is very welcome. Another set of figures which are interesting are those relating to nominations and there is the statement of the team that different standards operate in different parts of the country. They recommended that three groups of three judges be appointed and in this regard, in order to ensure a standard of something like 100 per cent throughout the country, I suggest that one judge from each group should alternate with the other groups.

I also note that a number of people did not avail of the nominations which were offered. In some cases the numbers who did not avail are relatively small while in others they are very high. In one particular county 75 or 80 per cent of those who were offered nominations did not avail of them which must indicate that the owners of mares did not consider this worthwhile. In that regard the suggestion by the survey team about the amount to be paid to the owners of a stallion and mare which produce a light foal will do a great deal to help the industry.

I join with others who have paid tribute to the Connemara Pony Association which is doing magnificent work. In conclusion I should like to refer to one or two points in the address made by Deputy Haughey when he was speaking to the survey team at the beginning of their operations. He said that he wanted the team to have regard to the development of the industry from the point of view of its export potential. Senator Cranitch read out other points with regard to the export potential which I find it hard to reconcile with another statement of the then Minister that we must not feel aggrieved if we do not always succeed in showjumping competitions. Every good sportsman is prepared to suffer some defeats but if we do not reach the standard of horsemanship and do not produce the type of horse which can achieve success in important events, such as the Army jumping team have done, then our possibilities for developing the export trade will suffer. While we must be good sports and accept defeat when it comes we must also endeavour to achieve the highest standards in horses and in riders so that we will achieve more successes than we have been achieving recently in international jumping events and so on.

Deputy Haughey in that address to the survey team said that it was the intention to appoint a consultative council but in the brown book which has been published the present Minister has given reasons for not appointing such a council. I should like to think that the Minister might compromise by ensuring that the bodies recommended by the survey team who should have representation on the consultative council would as far as possible be represented on the board. Some 20 bodies were recommended by the team to be represented on the consultative council. I appreciate that the Minister has decided that his board will have 11 members but it would be a good thing if the Minister kept in his mind, when appointing the 11 members, the names of those bodies which the survey team recommended for inclusion on the council. In conclusion, I wish to renew my congratulations to the survey team for the work they have done and the magnificent document they have produced. I hope when the board are established they will take for their guidelines the suggestions made by the survey team.

I want to pay a well deserved tribute to those who took part in the survey and whose proposals have been very well received throughout the country. I should also like to pay tribute to those who down through the years succeeded in keeping this industry in a viable state. In the last few years the profit incentive was practically non-existent and during that period the industry was kept alive by those people and indeed the quality of the horses they were producing improved. This is a tribute to this small group, and they are a small group, interested in horse breeding. Our best thanks are due to them and also to the farmers who allow hunts to pass over their lands. Reference was made to this here tonight. In the part of the country I come from there is no trouble of the kind mentioned here. Everybody knows that the hunt is the lifeblood of the half-bred horse industry. Without hunting it would not be easy to bring the young horse to full maturity in a reasonable time. In these days of schemes for the eradication of brucellosis and tuberculosis in cattle huntsmen must be careful to observe hunting etiquette when passing from one farm to another. That will help to maintain the good relations established down through the years. We all hope these good relations will continue.

The proposals in this Bill are excellent, in my opinion, and I believe they will be well received by all connected with the industry, but there are a few points I should like to mention. They are probably covered under section 33 but, at the same time, I should like to mention them. The first is the establishment of some kind of stud book or record book for the half-bred horse industry. This would ensure that blood lines worth preserving will be preserved and also easily identified. It will also ensure that blood lines not worth preserving are eliminated. Our imminent entry into the EEC should make us consider this very seriously indeed because in France, I understand, and I know something about it, records of half-bred horses are considered most valuable and it is, in fact, difficult to sell a horse there unless you have some sort of record. At least one Dáil Deputy referred to the fact that two very famous horses, Stroller and Mr. Softee, were bred in County Clare. There is no record of who their sires and dams were, or of any other relatives they may have had, and so the blood line has been lost completely. The Italian team which won the 1954 Olympics had four Irish-bred horses in the team. Not half enough use is made of this kind of advertising.

There is then the matter of research. This industry has gone on for years in a more or less traditional way from father to son and there has never been any real research as far as I know. The breed and feed and management of horses is something which should be researched into. Possibly the board will do something about this. Infertility was mentioned. It was also mentioned in the Dáil. It is a very serious aspect of the industry. The figures mentioned would be enough to put the industry out of commission. Whether this infertility is related to a management factor, or a food factor, or a disease factor, or a combination of all three, is something which can only be decided by research. It is something the board could examine into in due process of time.

The establishment of a school is a must irrespective of whether or not we enter the EEC. There is keener competition all the time in the international sphere and, if we are to keep abreast, we must establish these schools. They will help us in the jumping arenas in keeping abreast and will also create a kind of shop window for the industry.

Reference was made to the tourist industry. Co-operation between the tourist industry and the horse industry would be a good idea. Committees are to be set up. I trust they will not be set up all over the country because that would defeat the whole purpose of the exercise but these committees could be useful in promoting tourism in co-operation with Bord na gCapall.

The RDS is the greatest shop window we have. By way of a small plug for my own county, the Munster Agricultural Society runs a three-day show each year. This is a well-established show. These shows could be made tourist attractions.

The three-day event world competitions will take place at Punchestown later this year. I understand the cost will be in the region of £20,000. This will be met mainly by way of voluntary subscriptions; there is also some sponsoring by some private companies. Bord Fáilte will come to the rescue if there is any deficit but it is anticipated that expenses will be met out of private subscriptions. This sort of venture reflects great credit on the voluntary organisations connected with the horse industry throughout the country. It creates the kind of shop windows we need.

The purpose of the Bill is to set up the board to promote and encourage the industry and to have regard to earnings and export earnings in particular. Financial aid will be available for this purpose and advice will be sought from those competent to give advice. I am abundantly aware that these proposals will be welcomed by all connected with the industry. I can reassure the Minister about that. Up to now there has been little support for some aspects of the industry, certainly not as much as there should have been. The people connected with the industry have worked hard down through the years to keep the industry alive and for very meagre profits. Their tenacity and dedication will, I hope, be rewarded as a result of this measure.

I am grateful to the Senators for their contributions to this debate. It has been indeed very helpful. I do not wish to delay unduly and so I shall run briefly over the main points. Senator McDonald inquired whether it would be possible for the board to assist financially in the sending of teams abroad to compete in international equestrian events. In the current year a sum of £40,000 is provided for Bord na gCapall.

Senator McDonald and others spoke of the desirability of establishing a stud book for the Irish draught breed. My advice is that there is not an Irish draught breed, that this is a type of horse that must be found by selection. Its value and its basis as the foundation stock of the Irish pleasure horse is well recognised and it is one of the objectives of Bord na gCapall to help to develop this aspect of the industry. Senators mentioned the matter of infertility in mares. I had some inquiries made into this matter and it was found that there was no intrinsic physiological reason for infertility. It is the practice of animal husbandry that is at fault and it is up to the people in this business to see if something can be done about this matter.

I do not agree with Senator McDonald when he said that the pony business—especially ponies for children —is not a paying proposition. There is a tremendous growth of interest in the matter of providing ponies for children and it is useful training for them to become proficient horsemen and horsewomen. This is a profitable sideline for many farmers.

Senators mentioned the vital part the small producer has to play in this industry. I am conscious of the fact that this Bill deals particularly with the man who perhaps keeps one mare and breeds from her. It is important to realise that this kind of farming background is the source from which we get the famous Irish hunters, jumpers and three-day eventers.

Senator McDonald made reference to horses used with caravans. This matter does not come within the scope of this Bill but I accept the validity of the point he raised. Horses that have not been found satisfactory for breeding purposes might be used in this connection. I agree that the treatment to which such animals may unwittingly be subjected by inexperienced people may be quite severe. It is not within the ambit of this Bill to deal with this matter; there is legislation to deal with ill-treatment of animals, whether deliberate or not. I have a feeling that perhaps the horses used in the caravan business may be quite used to dealing with inexperienced humans and are quite intelligent about it.

Senator McDonald referred to the question of safety of riders. This would be dealt with in the section of the Bill that refers to riding establishments. Horse riding carries an element of risk and if people do not want to take this risk they should play croquet instead. Avoidable risk can be met by the provision of proper equipment for animals available at riding establishments.

Senator Eoin Ryan mentioned the desirability of the revival of the corps known as the Marc Sluagh. This would be a matter for the Department of Defence but in any event it could be considered by the board.

Senator McDonald expressed unease about the intention of the Minister to retain the right to nominate the chairman of Bord na gCapall. I mentioned in my Second Reading speech that in this business of horse breeding there is one essential requirement. Continuity is required in order to produce competent show jumpers and hunters because it is a process that continues over several years and it is also essential that there should be continuity in the matter of advice.

Some Deputies referred to various matters about the Racing Board but this is a matter for the Department of Finance and does not come within the ambit of this Bill.

Senator McDonald and others referred to the matter of tatooing of horses in order to trace their identity. The Department is considering a scheme for the identification of mares and their foals by other means, by the taking of the most detailed descriptions of animals and all identification marks and the advice of the Horse Board will be of value.

Senator McDonald mentioned the payments made to the Connemara Pony Society. A special payment of £1,000 was made this year to the society for the International Conference of Connemara Societies and another sum of £2,000 was made for the development of showgrounds. There is no change in the usual annual grant of £1,000.

Some Senators mentioned that stallions are badly kept and that it might be desirable in the off-season to stable them in a central place. I do not agree with this idea. I am sure Senator McDonald and others are aware that the kind of person who keeps stallions usually has great skill in the handling of horses and I do not accept that there is widespread mismanagement of these horses. If that was the case it would be a matter for the board to see this was put right. All establishments where stallions are kept are periodically inspected.

Senator Farrelly mentioned something about the location of Irish draught sires. My note about this is that one was located and subsequently an offer was made to a second man who was recommended by the Meath County Committee of Agriculture. The committee asked for a subsidy to cover travelling expenses for the stallion owner. This was not given because it is normal for stallions of that type to travel. I do not want to delay the House any longer as the time is going on, and I understand we are going to finish the Bill to night.

Question put and agreed to.