When we adjourned yesterday we were considering the motion: " That Section 27, as amended, stand part of the Bill." There is a certain amount of opposition to the section as it stands. I think Deputy D'Alton and Deputy Johnson were urging that it might not be quite fair to the makers of butter in regard to the mode and the time of collecting the fee.
I support Deputy D'Alton's views with regard to this matter. I am of opinion that the best time to collect the fee would be at the end of the season, and I would like if the Minister would accept a different date for its collection—say at the end of October. He might guard himself by specifying that a stipulated amount should be lodged in the beginning as a guarantee of good faith. It really amounts, in my opinion, to paying the fee before the earnings of the year have come in. The amount, of course, may not be very large. The Minister says it would average about £25. But in a great many cases it would exceed that amount, and in the case of some creameries it would go up to £200. I think it is a bad principle to expect the people to pay before they actually get the money, and the Government ought to be better able to remain out of the money than the creameries.
Might I suggest that if the date on which the fee is due be the 1st January, that the penalty of cancellation of registration should only be imposed if not paid, on a date later in the year—say September. By that method you would leave a certain amount of discretion——
It is somewhat difficult to collect fees in Ireland.
The point I was making is that the fee would be, by that means, payable in advance for the calendar year. You speak of a calendar year. Then you propose to make the 17th March the date on which the fee shall be paid. You do give nearly three months as between 1st January and 17th March. Why you give three months grace, which period concludes before any earnings coming in, seems to be quite indefensible and not easily explained. On the other hand, where the fee is payable when it becomes due at the beginning of the year and you are giving any grace at all, that should be to cover a period during which money is earned. I suggest either the 30th June or, further still, September, and let there be a distinct penalty and the risk of cancellation if not paid by a date during that nine months, or six months, as the case may be.
The idea was that the fee should be paid before 17th March, and that the fee payable between 1st January and 17th March should be a fee in respect of that particular year. I understand the butter year is the calendar year.
January to December.
Yes, If that arrangement stood, you would make the adjustment at the 31st December, and the inspectors would have to go around after 31st December and inspect the books. It would probably require a period from 31st December to 17th March to complete inspections and close accounts for everything. That was the idea of the period between the 31st December and 17th March. The idea was not so much to give a period of grace in respect of the previous year as to enable a sufficient time to elapse to allow, on the one hand, creameries to make up their accounts beyond yea or nay, and also to enable our inspectors to inspect in cases where there were disputes or, generally, to inspect the registers. That is as far as that point is concerned. You will agree, I think, that a period of at least three months would be required for the purpose of adjustments if your scheme was a scheme under which adjustments had to be made. Deputy Heffernan makes a point of the particular time of the year in which the fee is to be paid, and that is important. Deputy Johnson made another point which, if I may say so, is also sound, that psychologically it would be good business that the creamery should have the impression that the fee was payable in respect of previous transactions, and not as a payment in advance. As I said, the butter year is the calendar year. Every creamery, I take it, has its accounts audited.
Not always, but they are supposed to have.
We may take it for granted that they will have to do it in future. The fee should be payable, therefore, in respect of the period of audit. I think that will be agreed.
The Bill contradicts that.
I know that, but this will not be settled to-day. We will have to bring in another amendment.
Will the auditor's certificate be accepted or must you send an inspector?
Probably it will work out like that. It would not do to commit yourself in the Bill to the auditor's certificate, but that is probably what will happen in 95 per cent. of cases.
You would be perfectly safe in the case of an ordinary chartered accountant.
That is so but he must, as he says himself in his certificate, go according to the books put before him. There will then be the question of inspecting the register to see that it is properly kept in accordance with the Bill. It will be admitted that the right thing would be that the fee should be paid for the period of audit, and if it could be arranged that the creameries would regard the fee as a payment for the previous period so much the better. If that is to happen, the ideal arrangement would be that each year up to 31st December an entry would be included in the audited books for the fee and that payment would be made some time between the 31st December and whatever period you like. I do not think you need go as far as Deputy Johnson says, up to September.
You are now discussing the fixation of payment, looking backwards. I think Deputy Johnson was making the actual fixation looking forward—that is, giving a certain amount of grace.
Perhaps it would be well if I stated my views again. I am taking the Bill as drafted. The fee is payable for the current year. The first fee is to be payable before registration and it is to be based upon an estimate of the quantity which would normally be exported during that year. The second fee will be payable, and each subsequent fee will be payable, for the current year as from 1st January to 31st December, but it can be paid up to 17th March.
On or before 17th March.
The fee to be paid before the 17th March, while being based upon the previous year's trade, is to be in respect of that year. So thatit is, in fact, a payment in advance. How much in advance? It seems to me that the advantage from every point of view would lie in making the payment come out of current earnings. Where you have power to cancel registration, you have power almost the same as the income tax authorities and the method of allocation and the amount due is pretty much in accordance with the income tax system. Income tax is payable on the 1st April but it is only collected within six weeks or thirteen weeks of the date on which it is payable. Yet it is in respect of current earnings, based upon an estimate from previous earnings. I think whatever date you fix you ought to fix the final date on which the fee shall be payable as a date after earnings have begun. It seems to me that the difficulty really arises from the question of the first annual fee, and I would suggest that if you could fix a round sum for the first payment, you would probably be able to adjust the matter more easily. You could do that or have a payment on account of the first payment.
That would be more or less like a deposit, and you could make the fee payable on the 13th September or some date like that.
I quite agree that before registration is granted there must be some payment, but then that should be something on account of the year's fee.
I think Deputy Johnson's idea would cover the matter. The question is simple enough if you do not tangle it up too much. To safeguard the Ministry, a small deposit should be made. That deposit would have to be based somewhat on the turnover of the particular creamery. It would be unfair to put Killeshandra Creamery, say, on the same basis as a small creamery in West Cork. Let it stand for the 17th March, but let it be payable for the previous year and let the deposit stand all the time. That would be my idea.
I wanted to get an idea of the mind of the Committee on the question,and I will try to bring in another amendment on Report.
In starting a business of any kind, you have to spend a certain amount of capital. You must provide machinery and pay for it. In this case you allow them to pay up to the 17th March. You will find that everybody will pay on the 16th March, so that you give January, February, and half of March—two and a half months out of the twelve. If this is looked upon as an ordinary liability it is a reasonable way to avoid the inconveniences and unpleasantness of collection afterwards. If you pay ahead for something, you enjoy it and you have not the trouble of writs going out. If a creamery has to pay about £25 a year for registration, it is a very small thing for a creamery. If they are not able to pay all the money, then they can go to the bank for a small advance, as everybody has to do occasionally. We keep deposits in the banks, and occasionally have overdrafts on the current account.
The Minister undertakes to reconsider the section and bring forward an amendment on the Report Stage.
I would ask that the Minister should give us an indication of it before the Report Stage.
I will. I undertake to reconsider the whole question.
I would like to make a suggestion before we come to the amendments on this section, that the Minister should make a general statement as to his intentions in regard to this national mark; that is to say, as to the purpose in general, because I am inclined to the view that there has been some little confusion. I think it might ease the situation and possibly save time if we had a statement from the Minister as to the purpose of the national mark and how it is going to effect that purpose.
We do not expect at the outside to be able to give the national mark to many creameries. I would not like to say how many. I doubt if anybody knows, because a very careful and exhaustive examination over a period of five or six months will have to take place before even the inspectors of the Department of Agriculture will be in a fair way to make up their minds as to the number of creameries to which it would be safe to give the national mark. The national mark is simply a guarantee that the butter bearing that mark is at least up to 92 score. It may be more, but it is supposed to be a guarantee that it reaches that at least.
What does that mean?
92 per cent.—so much for flavour, so much for texture, and so on; 100 per cent. being the maximum. I am not in a position to go into details at this stage as to the regulations that we intend to make for the creameries whom we decide to give the mark to. It is the intention to require every creamery which wishes to acquire the national mark to have pasteurisation plant. That will be one of the most important things. Then we will give the mark on the standards of the creamery; that is to say, the standards of equipment, and even more important, the standards of the management; the technical competence of the butter-makers, and generally, the standards of management of the creamery. Our aim is—we think it quite possible, though it may take some years—to bring practically all creamery butter up to that standard. We think that is possible. It has been done in other countries. There is no reason why it should not be done here. At the present moment, the real problem is that you have the majority of creameries, with a little extra care and attention, well able to produce butter good enough for the national mark, but at the same time, not producing that butter consistently. The result will be—and this is a difficulty which will take some getting over, and will perhaps work to the prejudice of the national mark at the beginning—that we will be faced with large consignments of butter, quite as good as the butter bearing the national mark, but coming from creameries not entitled to it. That is because, as I have stated, you have a very large number of creameries, with all the technical skill, competence and equipment necessary, but just not sufficiently finished to keep producing good butter consistently. That is the real problem in regard to Irish butter that has to be solved.
Deputies know that an alternative scheme has been suggested. I shall define what I mean by the word " alternative " later on. It certainly was an alternative scheme. That is a scheme under which all creamery butter leaving the Free State should be graded at the ports. The organisation and the people who favour that particular alternative have no objection whatever to the national brand and, quite truly and rightly, state that they have no objection to any standards of technical competence, equipment, etc., which we like to enforce on creameries; in fact that they welcome them. But their case in that, in addition to giving a mark like this, which is a guarantee of a certain quality in butter, for a number of reasons you must grade butter at the ports. The two main reasons are: (1) that you cannot safeguard your brand without examining a sample of every consignment of creamery butter that leaves the Free State; (2) that you must take cognisance of the fact that, as things are, your national brand is likely to be discounted by reason of the fact that it will be only applied to a small percentage of butter while, at the same time, you will have perhaps a greater quantity of at least as good butter going out merely under licence, or from registered creameries, without the brand.
There is no doubt that the main practical objection to the national brand scheme is that without grading—I use the word " grading " advisedly; that is the way it is put—you cannot safeguard the brand; that without grading you cannot give fair play to the very large number of creameries which are turning out first-class butter, or butter worth 92 marks, for, let us say, 25 or 26 days in a month and, perhaps, not turning out quite such good butter for the remaining three or four days. Before examining the practical objections from the point of view of the creamery it must be remembered that there is really a psychological difference between the two systems. The adoption of the national brand is a realisation of the fact that you cannot do everything by Act of Parliament or by regulations, and that the right way to approach the problem is to endeavour to tone up the standard of the people, managers, buttermakers and so on, who are connected with the making of butter in the creameries. The national brand scheme attempts to put a premium on the efficiency, honesty and business instincts of the owners and officers of creameries and of butter factories. You are banking on the character of the particular institution, which is a complex thing, and is made up of the character of the people who run it, the machinery and the methods generally.
I personally think that that is a very strong argument in favour of that particular scheme against the other scheme where you stop every consignment of butter at the port. You examine a sample of that consignment and you, at least, attempt to say that it is worth so many marks. One day you give it 92 marks. The next day you do the same thing and find the butter from the same creamery is only worth 70 marks. On the next day again you find that butter from the same creamery is of a different quality. That system of grading is much easier on the creamery which does not want to improve itself and which, at present, is turning out first-class butter on 20 days of the month and could certainly turn out good butter for 25 or 27 days of the month. There is no reason why it should not. There is no particular reason either why it should. If the manager is sure that he will get all the benefits of turning out good butter on 26 or 27 days of the month, there is no reason why he should go to any more trouble than he is going to now to put the last touch on things and turn out good butter consistently—not only for 26 days but for the whole period.
We need not complicate this subject by referring to the inevitable accidents that happen in all institutions. Mistakes will be made occasionally by the butter maker in the best creamery in the world, and you will get bad milk occasionally even from the most careful farmers. You will have milk tainted say with garlic or something else. You cannot avoid inevitable accidents, which are not going to and never did destroy the reputation of any brand or any trade mark on any goods. So we need not complicate this by pointing out that, no matter how efficiently a creamery is run, butter may occasionally be made which would be defective in some way because of an accident, such as cows eating garlic before being milked.
As I said before, the national brand system puts a premium on the efficiency and general character of the creamery and of the people who run it. That is the only safe and sound way to approach the question of improving the general standard of Irish creamery butter. We do not intend to go out of our way to see that the particular creamery which will not put the final touches on its methods is not inconvenienced. We want all the creameries to work up to this standard. It is not the standard of the choicest butter. Our problem is not the problem of producing large quantities of butter that is worth 96 or 97 per cent., but that of the general toning up of the standard of creamery butter—toning it up to the standard of 92 per cent. We think that it is possible here, as it is possible in Denmark. We want to see the time when there will be only one brand of Irish creamery butter.
That is the positive side of the story. It is, of course, perfectly obvious that if adequate steps are not taken to protect the national brand and if as a result, the national brand fails to justify itself with the English customer in any considerable number of cases, in the long run the scheme will do more harm than good. We had attempts made to establish voluntarily a national brand for Irish butter. They failed for obvious reasons. This scheme would fail if we simply made an initial examination of the creamery, gave the brand to a certain number of creameries which we thought entitled to it, and left it at that. You want preliminary toning up and constant inspection and regulation afterwards.
That is the difference between this particular scheme, which is a compulsory scheme, and the various schemes that have gone before. In any event, if the brand does not justify itself in a number of cases to the English customer it would do more harm than good. It was the realisation of that fact which prompted me to introduce the amendment, under which we have power, if experience proves it will be necessary, to make all adequate arrangements for the purpose of examining any consignments of butter either bearing the national brand, or going out from a creamery without the national brand, at the ports and anywhere else we like. I am not in a position, nor is anybody else, to say at this stage what our experience in that matter is going to be. The powers that we take are to examine the butter, not to grade it. We meet the specific point, the danger that the national brand will become discreditel by reason of the fact that creameries were not living up to the standard which obtained when they got the brand in the first instance. We have ample power in the Bill, as it is amended, if experience shows it is necessary, to examine every consignment of creamery butter at the ports or anywhere else. That is a complete answer, I think, to any contention that we have not got under the Bill adequate powers to safeguard the brand. Administration is another matter which we can consider again
We have as much power under the Bill as if we accepted the grading scheme, and we propose to exercise these powers if necessary. The only possible point I conceive that could be made on that particular question would be that not only should we take the power to examine butter at the ports if experience proves it is necessary to do, but that we should bind ourselves in the Bill to carry out that examination in regard to all butter, without waiting for the lessons which we would learn during our experience of the first three or four months of the butter of any creamery registered or any creamery given the brand. That is the only difference there can be, that is to say, whether we should bind ourselves definitely in the Bill and say should we make these examinations at the ports, leaving ourselves no option. For instance, whether we should not take power to examine a sample of every consignment of butter from every creamery, even though this creamery's produce for a long period had been beyond reproach or suspicion that, nevertheless, we should examine that butter. We can examine any consignment of any creamery at any port, and make arrangements for that purpose, but we do not propose to bind ourselves at the beginning to leave ourselves no option in the matter, and to put in provisions in the Bill which would compel us, regardless of experience, to examine every consignment from every creamery. I do not know whether you want me to go any further into the merits of the case as between branding and grading.
We can discuss that after.
Will the Minister inform us approximately of the number of creameries in existence that would come under supervision, and the number of inspectors, so that we can get some idea of what would be the work, or the possibility, of this adequate inspection and examination taking place?
I do not think I could give you the number of creameries, but I can give you the amount of creamery and factory butter.
Would there be 500 creameries?—Very nearly, I think.
About how many inspectors?—Do you want to know from me how many inspectors it would require to examine creamery at the ports?
No; to carry out this inspection at the creameries which you say is necessary?
How many of these institutions, whether creameries or factories, would come under the supervision of the Department, and the number of inspectors proposed for that purpose?
I think I cannot be very far wrong when I say there would be about 400 creameries. With regard to the number of inspectors required to carry out the inspection, I cannot answer that at the present stage. What I can say is that it will take very much fewer officials to carry out inspection under this system than under the system which would entail examining every consignment of creamery butter at the ports.
What I propose to do after the general statement of the Minister explaining the purpose, and more or less the lines, on which the Department proposes to enforce the use of the national brand is to take the amendments in order, and then there can be a general discussion on the national brand on the question whether the section stand part of the Bill. Some of the points raised by the Minister will come under the amendment proposed by Deputy Milroy to Section 29.
To add to sub-section (2) the words: " Provided that the national mark shall not be applied to any butter not made from pasteurised cream."
The object of this amendment is to make it compulsory that no butter shall have the national brand which has not been made from pasteurised cream. I understand from the Minister's statement that no butter manufactured in a creamery shall be accepted for the mark unless butter made from pasteurised cream. That is not compulsory under the Bill. The Minister has power, and I understand he intends to use that power for all purposes. My intention is to make it compulsory. My objection is that it is the intention to give the mark to other butter besides creamery butter, and it would not be possible to enforce pasteurisation in the case of farmers. My opinion is that it will never be feasible that factories or farmers can get the use of the national brand. I think they should be forbidden to get the use of it. Farm butter can never be standardised. It would, in my opinion, be a mistake to give it the national brand. I think it would be found impossible to give the brand to factory butter. Everyone knows the manner in which the butter is made. It would be impossible to avoid contamination of butter with heavily laden germ butter from the farms.
This amendment really raises a big question I had in mind when I suggested that the Minister should indicate what his purpose was in introducing this section. I must say that in the rush of legislative projects I did not read this Bill as carefully in the first case as was necessary to understand it thoroughly, and to understand its implications. I quite foolishly arrived at the conclusion that it was meant to provide a national brand for creamery butter. That, of course, is wrong. As Deputy Heffernan says, the difficulty, if you are going outside pasteurised cream, would be to get any value out of the national brand at all. I think what we have to bear in mind is what the purpose of this project is. It is not, I may say, to ensure that there shall be excellent butter, and none but excellent butter, having the national brand.
Everything that was heard from experts at the Agricultural Commission, and even more, perhaps, as I have gathered since, lead me to this conclusion, that what would give value to the butter trade was not so much the excellence as the regularisation—regular standards—that if you could supply a regular quality which would be reliable and of good quality at all times, and which would be sold on a brand without any special sampling, that that is what gave you the extra one, two, three or four shillings in the market. It was reliability rather than anything else that gave value to such a brand. In the Bill, as altered, we are providing that creamery butter shall be of a standard, and that the creameries from which the creamery butter may be exported have to be subject to inspection. The Minister has power to ensure that the qualifications of the butter-makers would be up to a certain standard, and that everything that is required in respect of the national brand, as drafted, has also to be required in respect of creamery butter, with this exception, that for the national brand, you have taken power to inspect more frequently. Even that is doubtful, because I think under the amendment that was accepted yesterday, to the powers of inspection, whether frequent or infrequent, that are to be provided in respect of the national brand are equally to be available for inspection of creamery butter, so that in fact everything that is desired for the purpose of this standardisation and regularity of quality is provided for in the Bill in relation to creamery butter. As the Bill stands there is no obligation that butter shall be made from pasteurised cream before it could be given the national brand. The value of pasteurisation is to ensure better keeping qualities and to increase probabilities regarding the regularity of quality.
If you do not accept an amendment of this kind, what is the effect that your national brand is likely to be? A brand lower in quality than creamery, that is, for the purpose of marketing. Bear in mind that this whole Bill is directed towards butter as a merchandise in the wholesale market. You are not making a brand for the consumer, you are making a brand for the market so that the merchant, when he knows he buys Irish creamery butter or Irish national protected butter, knows he is given butter of at least a certain minimum quality that has been produced in creameries that have undergone certain inspections and that have submitted themselves to certain conditions. What we are proposing to do in regard to the national brand is to induce the possibilities that non-pasteurised creamery butter shall enter into the national brand butter, and that non-creamery butter shall become national brand butter. It really is going to leave us in this position: that creamery butter is going to be more valuable in the market as a commodity than butter bearing the national brand, because creamery butter, if the powers that are given regarding pasteurisation are in force, as they will be, is going to be reliable in regard to its keeping qualities, and it is also going to be reliable in regard to the conditions under which it is produced.
I would suggest that it is ten to one that the conditions made applicable to creamery butter will be of a higher standard and will require a higher grade of supervision and higher qualifications than the conditions that will be applicable to non-creamery butter which applies for the use of the national mark, so that we are left with this, that creamery butter after the operations of the Bill will be of a higher standard for marketing purposes than national brand butter. That was not the intention. I think it was the intention that butter bearing the national brand would in fact be more reliable, as high grade, or even higher grade, than creamery butter, and it seems to me that we have arrived at a stage where this whole question of the national brand under this section will have to be considered afresh. The proposition of Deputy Heffernan will reduce, shall I say, the gap, because if we are making this provision that no butter shall be able to use the national brand unless it is made from pasteurised cream, then it does ensure in practice that it should be creamery butter. Well, it is not certain, but I think it is so in a very large percentage of the cases. I speak of the position as it stands. There are possibilities of development in the different directions. That you will have private firms engaging in creamery operations on a large scale with large herds who are pasteurising their own cream. That could not be creamery butter, but they may apply for the use of the national brand, and I quite see that there is some reason for allowing a brand to be made applicable to such operations and to such consignments. That brings me to a question that I will have to discuss on the section as a whole, and that is the question of whether it shall be a mark or marks, but that is going a little bit beyond this amendment. I think that the amendment in lieu of the section as it stands is desirable. I think we should make it a condition that the national brand should not be applied to any butter unless that butter has been made from pasteurised cream and what I have said in regard to the general value of the brand as against the value of the term " Irish Creamery Butter " is pertinent to this question of pasteurisation, because if we insist that the cream shall be pasteurised before any butter that is made from it shall obtain the brand we are bringing the national mark and the term " creamery butter " more into relationship than otherwise would be the case, so that I shall support the amendment.
I find myself in agreement with the conclusions both of Deputy Heffernan and Deputy Johnson, though not agreeing with their processes of arriving at those conclusions. There is little between us again. It is the intention to make pasteurisation essential for all creameries which are looking for the national brand—which wish to qualify for the national brand. That is the intention, and we have power to affect that in the Bill. Deputy Heffernan simply wishes to put in a clause which will leave us no option in the matter. I cannot well see how Deputy Johnson could draw the conclusion that without this amendment Irish creamery butter would be more valuable than national brand butter, because that, of course, would entirely depend upon whether our regulations will affect the same purpose as this particular amendment is attempting to affect. I do not know that the operations of the Bill will have quite the same effect; in fact, I am sure they will not. As Deputy Heffernan pointed out, very few factories or institutions will get the brand except creameries. That is practically certain. I cannot see under present conditions any factory getting the brand. I think that is the way it is going to work out; in fact, butter bearing the national brand will, in 99 per cent. of cases, be creamery butter. What you will have is this—you will have butter bearing the national brand which will be practically all creamery butter, and so pasteurised, and you will have for a certain time, in spite of the operations of this Bill, creamery butter made from non-pasteurised cream, so that I cannot see how the operations of the Bill are going to bring about the result which Deputy Johnson suggests. I am talking of the effect of the operations of the Bill. If you agree with Deputy Heffernan, and I am inclined to agree with him, practically all the butter bearing the national mark will be creamery butter, and if you admit our intention, namely, that no creamery butter shall be entitled to use the national mark on butter not made from pasteurised cream, you will have creamery butter still going out under licence from a registered creamery, even though there is no pasteurisation plant there for a time. Then, I cannot see how the effect of the operations of the Bill will be to make Irish creamery butter something more valuable as a trade term than the national mark. While I agree with Deputy Heffernan that you will not have the national mark on factory butter, on the other hand you are going to have the national mark, and you should make arrangements for a place like Mackamore—I have not been able to make up my mind as to whether the developments represented by Mackamore are to continue, and whether it is a healthy method. I lean to the conclusion that it would be better in the particular circumstances in which we are, where we can only compete with other countries by turning out a really choice article, that the old development of the creameries should continue and that butter should be made from whole milk brought to the creameries, with separation done at the creameries. But no one can say for certain.
The development of the future may be along the Mackamore lines, and there are a great many advantages in it. If there is such a development we would be able to give the national brand to creameries like Mackamore, even though the butter is not creamery butter. That does not affect Deputy Heffernan's point. I have very little to say against that particular clause, except this, number 1, that again you admit we have power to make such a regulation. Number 2. what we are doing in the Bill as a whole is regulating trade. I cannot see any reasons against accepting it, but I do not like at the same time to give away the little elasticity that we have by reason of the fact that we can make a regulation. Times change; developments occur every year, and there will be developments in two, three, or four years' time which we simply cannot foresee now. It is for the little elasticity that the alternative method of regulation gives us that I favour it rather than Deputy Heffernan's, though I am as clear as any Deputy that we must insist on pasteurisation for all cream from which butter bearing the national brand is made. I agree with Deputy Johnson that standardisation is what, we want, and the national mark is not for the consumer but rather for the wholsaler, and I cannot see for the life of me at the moment how we could possibly give the national brand to butter which was not made from cream which had been pasteurised, in view of the fact that standardisation is what we want. But I do not propose to be infallible, and three or four years may see a difference. In that case a new Bill could be introduced to deal with the matter. At the same time I strongly favour in a Bill regulating trade as much elasticity as possible, and I do not think that the argument that too much is being left to administration is sound, because in the nature of the case a tremendous amount must be left to administration in a Bill like this, and if administration is not going to be sound and sympathetic the Bill will be useless, and nothing that we can put into it will make it a success. You must go on the assumption that the administration is going to be all it should be, or the Bill, with any possible amendments that we could insert in it, will be no use.
I feel that in this matter the Minister is using arguments which have been too frequently used from Ministerial benches. Yesterday, in the Dáil, there was talk about Ministerial intentions, what the intentions of the present Ministry may be, and it is assumed that once we have had those intentions declared, there is nothing more to be said. But after all it is the Dáil that will be responsiblefor letting this Bill go away with or without this provision regarding pasteurisation. The Minister's intentions may be equivalent to the desires of Deputy Heffernan, but the difference will be that if this amendment is inserted it will probably become law; if it is not inserted it will depend entirely upon the continuation of the Minister in his office, or the continuation of his present intentions. Either way there is a certain risk about it. I want to put on the other side all the arguments in regard to the relative values of the terms " Irish Creamery Butter " or " National Mark Butter." If for any reason Irish creameries producing good butter refuse to apply for the use of the national mark, other creameries are using the national mark, and there is a competition in the British market for the sale of one class of butter as against the other. Is it not very likely that the creameries which are selling the non-national mark butter will proclaim to the potential buyers that their butter has all been pasteurised, and is by law bound to be pasteurised, when the regulations are enforced, but that the national mark requires no such pasteurisation and therefore may be a much lower grade?
Are you speaking of two creameries?
I am speaking of rival creameries which may have, for one reason or another, declined to apply for the use of the national mark, and other creameries which have applied for the use of the national mark. The national mark butter will be pushed forward because it is national mark. The answer will come pat from the rivals: " National mark butter is of a lower grade because there is no obligation that it should be made from pasteurised cream."
Neither is there an obligation in the case of the other.
There is an obligation as soon as you have put into force the powers that you will have got regarding the pasteurisation of creamery butter. If creamery butter is to be brought under the obligation regardingpasteurisation, non-creamery butter, under the Bill, may receive the national mark. Therefore, you cannot say that all national mark butter is made from pasteurised cream. Therefore, the national mark butter may be denounced in the market as being inferior to the non-national mark butter, which is creamery butter, because on the one hand all creamery butter has to be pasteurised, but all national mark butter is not necessarily pasteurised.
On a point of order, I think we are wandering, if I might suggest so, a little bit away from the point.
Deputy Johnson is keeping quite to the point, because it is really a question as to whether or not we should insist on pasteurisation as a condition for the national mark. That is what Deputy Johnson is arguing, and therefore he is quite in order.
Deputy Beamish has the quite natural notion that order and righteousness are the same thing.
Indeed they are not.
I am using this argument in support of my original contention, which the Minister tries to refute, that under the section as it stands, once the provisions of the amended Act regarding pasteurisation of creamery butter are put into operation it can well be contended, and honestly contended, that the national mark does not carry with it as high a grade, as high a character as Irish creamery butter, inasmuch as without this amendment it will not carry with it the assurance that the butter is made from pasteurised cream, and therefore it will be of a lower grade.
Take two packages of butter, one Irish creamery butter with the national mark, and the other Irish creamery butter without the national mark. You have both of them on the market in London, and the wholesaler, the buyer, is going about and he sees Irish creamery butter with the national mark. The man standing in the next stall says: " Well, of course, this manhas the national mark, but you can have national mark butter made from non-pasteurised cream." Here you have Irish creamery butter in a package with the national mark. We are starting with the assumption that that creamery butter must be made from pasteurised cream. It is assumed and known by everybody that creamery butter can only be made from pasteurised cream. One has the national mark and the other has not. Do you think it would affect the case in the smallest for a man to say factory butter, another class of butter which is not creamery butter, could get the national mark even though it is not made from pasteurised cream? In fact, there will practically be none of that on the market, because as a result of the Bill the national mark will not be given to butter which is not creamery butter, and it will be butter made from pasteurised cream.
That is the present intention.
I quite agree that intentions do not count and should not count, but in a Bill like this, with intentions from start to finish, they must. If you have power to make regulations you leave a certain amount to intentions all the time. That is inevitable in a Bill like this.
Within a certain range.
It is merely a question as to whether in these specified cases you should not leave it.
That is so.
I do not intend to traverse all the arguments again, because I think that Deputy Johnson has covered them very fully from my point of view, although from a different angle to the angle which I would take up. I want to point out one or two things to the Minister. The Minister certainly has acquired a reputation of being a realist. He does not believe in any uncertainties or any anomalies, and he states that it will not be feasible for farm butter to acquire the national mark, or even for factory butter. If so, what is the necessity of getting power in the Bill to give them the national mark? I believe that the Minister's instance is not satisfactory with regard to the two samples of butter, one bearing the national mark and the other bearing the brand of being simply creamery butter. I am sure it is the intention of the Minister, and it is our intention, that this mark will be accepted all over England or in any place where the butter is sold, not only by the wholesaler, but by the general public, as a recognition of the quality of the butter, and that very likely the ordinary retailers of butter will expect Irish butter bearing the national mark to be the very best Irish butter. But if it can be stated by them that certain butters are allowed to have that mark which have not been pasteurised, I think the marked butter will lose its reputation. Another thing is that I think it would be a great advertisement for Irish butter bearing the national mark that it should be generally known to all that butter bearing that mark was made from pasteurised cream. I think that should take its place before any other quality of butter exported from Ireland. The Minister's arguments appear to me more or less in the nature of special pleading, and I believe that despite his statements about his mind being open in the matter that he is pretty well convinced already.
I am not.
I am not convinced by the Minister's arguments. In fact, he has rather convinced me the other way, and I am now more determined on the amendment than I was in the beginning.
So far as I can see, it is rather a struggle between rival contingencies. The intention of the present moment is that the national brand of butter should be from pasteurised cream. The supporters of this amendment do not contemplate the contingency of that intention not being carried out owing to laxity on the part ofthe industry or a change of views or a change of Ministers. On the other hand, the Minister does not like to contemplate the contingency that in a year or two it might be necessary to change this particular method of pasteurisation for another method which would prove to be a better method. It is really a question of rival gamblings.
Might I suggest to the Minister that we could alter the law if that arose? We are very keen about this question of pasteurisation. Is not that right?
I will not say that I am speaking for all the farmers.
If there is another form than pasteurisation might we not then alter the law? At present leave it so that everything that gets the mark has to be pasteurised. It is really a question of what we want at present. If there is any alteration afterwards—if a new system comes in—it can be altered in the Dáil. This amendment binds the Minister in power to act absolutely uniformly, to get the best types of butter for the English market.
There is just one word I would like to say. Your use of the term " pasteurisation " in the manner in which it is used does not quite support the Chairman's interpretation of the Minister's view. Pasteurisation has come to have a general meaning, not a particular meaning. I would suggest that in no reasonably possible contingency is it ever going to have any other meaning than what is the general accepted meaning.
I thought it was other methods of pasteurisation the Minister had in mind.
I had an open mind on this question. I think, on the whole, I have been convinced by what I have heard here that it would be sounder to accept the amendment to that effect. What weighs with me is this: it will be a clear certificate. It will be: " This butter has been made from pasteurised cream."
I move amendment 43:—
In sub-section (3), lines 41-42, to delete the words " of any particular nature."
It will be seen now that this amendment might reasonably be accepted, because as drafted these words " of any particular nature " seem to contemplate the use of a national brand for butter which was either pasteurised or not pasteurised, even as an extreme possibility brine-slashed. Now that we will confine the use of the brand to butter made from pasteurised cream, these words are redundant.
The next is an amendment that was circulated yesterday. We will have to get the permission of the Committee to allow it to be moved.
The amendment is: In Section 28, sub-section 4, to delete the words " and such other premises as the Minister may, if and when he thinks fit, by order declare to be authorised premises for the purposes of the use of the national mark."
May I be allowed to change the amendment to simply delete the words " and such other premises "? My purpose would be better served by deleting only these four words.
The sub-section reads: " In this part of this Act, the expression ‘ authorised premises ' means any premises registered in the register of creameries and such other premises as the Minister may declare to be authorised premises." The term " authorised premises " appears in sub-section 2, which provides that every licence for the use of the national mark shall be granted subject to the certain conditions, one of which is that the butter is made in authorised premises. What are to be the authorised premises. If my proposition is accepted, the authorised premises will be registered creameries.
The effect will be that only creamery butter will be authorised to use the national mark. I admit that in this matter my views are not very rigid. Iput this amendment with a view to having the matter discussed and to ensure that it would be discussed thoroughly. It has already been discussed partially. I said something of what I wanted to say on this already, but it is no harm, perhaps, going over it again to some extent. The object of all this legislation is to secure uniformity. There are provisions in the Bill for the licensing of exports which are going from unregistered premises; that is to say, a specialist in butter production who has his own methods and believes he can get a better price than the bulk of the butter producers because of his particular methods of preparation, if the Minister so wills, he can license his exports. He will hope to obtain a higher price because of his methods. We may, for instance, have men adopting in the Border counties the Northern method of churning their whole milk. We may have the introduction of the scald-milk method. One never knows what may come. There will be opportunities under the special license provision which may be extended. I hope it will be more general than particular, as it is in the Bill, but there will be opportunities for sale of specially marked butter even in the English market.
We are brought back again to the object of the Bill to ensure that the bulk of the butter going to the English market shall be of a standardised quality, that it shall be reliable as to keeping qualities and general standard, because it has a particular mark and because it has that mark it can be sold without examination. It can be relied upon as equal to the average run of that particular brand, sold on its face, or on invoice, as the term goes, but if authorised premises is to mean premises other than creameries, we are opening the way, I think, for too great a variation. That is to say, your standardisation will be less and the object to be served by the Bill, to that extent, will fail in achievement. If it is conceded, as the Minister has contended all the time that standardisation is the object, then if you get away from the creamery system, shall I say the creamery method, you are departing from the principle of standardisation. You may have better butter. I will not contest that. You may have a variety, but you will not have standardisation. The Minister has used the term "92 percent."—ninety-two score—for practical purposes. I have no doubt that is quite passable, but it is an arbitrary thing to talk about butter scoring not less than ninety-two marks. Tastes change and views of judges vary. I think Deputy Heffernan and others who are familiar with the creamery system will agree with me when I say that there are very many farmers and farmers' families in the country who send their milk to the creamery who will not eat creamery butter. Creamery butter has established itself in the English market. It has created a new taste for butter, but very many farmers in the country prefer the old standard.
Their standard of taste has not changed to the same extent as the England standard has changed. And judges may vary. Assuming that there is general agreement for practical marketing purposes of what should constitute good butter and excellent butter, there are the possibilities, even the probabilities, that enterprising expert butter producers may introduce new methods of manufacture to produce butter of a slightly different flavour, perhaps a slightly different colour. There may even be changes in the quality, in the texture, in opposition to butter from overseas which may be pushed on to the British market and gradually create a change in taste in the English market. You may have Irish producers rather moving in that direction than in the English standard direction. We are still legislating for standardisation. If we allow it that the national mark may cover creamery butter which is pasteurised, non—creamer butter which is pasteurised, butter made under other conditions which is pasteurised, and having a slightly different flavour, then you are withdrawing from your purpose of standardisation. That is my whole point. If the object of the brand is to ensure standardisation of quality—that is, flavour, texture, colour packing and keeping qualities—then did not depart from it. Do not even allow the national mark which is still referred to, to be applied to the varying qualities made under varying conditions. Again, I am inclined to the view that if we speak of other premises if we allow the section to go forward in its present form we shall have tocontemplate more than one national mark, on the understanding that the Bill passes in its present form with the contemplation of a single national mark, then I am inclined to the view that we should not conceive that butter should be made in other premises than registered creameries.
Will the Minister explain what is meant by the words, " and such other premises "?
Mr. Johnson raised a very interesting point. I want to explain at the beginning that I do not think we mean the same thing. I do not think it is possible to have standardisation to the same extent as Deputy Johnson contemplates. In Danish butter at present, though it is standardised, there are considerable differences of colour and taste. Take Irish butter, say, coming from two good creameries, both of which turn out good butter. It would have quite noticeable differences in flavour and colour, and those differences will always exist even in two creameries side by side and at the same time of the year. These differences will exist to the extent that it will make it impossible to standardise butter to the point that is contemplated by Deputy Johnson. Then, again, I contemplate that standards will change year after year. The standard will adapt itself to the trade and to the changing circumstances which Deputy Johnson mentioned. Perhaps you will have enterprising home manufacturers who will manufacture a slightly different kind of butter that will affect the trade. The foreign supply will affect the trade, and the standard will have to change year by year, perhaps slightly. The standard will have to change with the circumstances. I do not contemplate that we can have standardisation to the same extent that Deputy Johnson appears to think. With regard to the particular sub-section itself in this part of the Act, " the expression ‘authorised premises' mean any premises registered in the register of creameries and such other premises as the Minister may, if and when he thinks fit, by order declared to be authorised premises for the purposes of the use of the national mark." I had in mind creameries or institutions that make butter—cream separated, say, at home by the farmers themselves and collected by the creameries. That is the kind of institution I had in mind. Already we have agreed, there shall be pasteurisation for all butter in the national market. That has to go into the Bill, but there may be pasteurisation in creameries, even though we cannot allow them to be called creameries. The difficulty is that I do not know, nor does anybody know, what the development in the future is to be, whether it is to be pasteurising creameries or whether you are not going to have creameries in districts where they are not at present, and where you find a very dense cow population, and where people will have to adopt some system of sending out from the central institution morning after morning for the cream. There may be developments. I can well imagine places where there is a certain amount of varying land, and if the store trade took a certain turn you would find the creameries springing up which would not spring up in this way. Making due allowance for their particular case, you might find a creamery being built with four-ton lorries going out for the cream taking the most stringent precautions and producing a standard article. That is probably a development we must not discount too much. That is the reason I thought it well to make it possible that such an institution should get a national mark. On the other hand, we may not be able to allow a creamery of that sort to call itself a butter creamery. There is a lot to be said on this question, but we have said it all already on other sections of the Bill. I need not go into the merits of the case, but to make a long story short I am inclined to the view myself that we cannot allow your creamery to be used by those places, but we can with safety, at least, leave ourselves an opportunity of giving the national mark to those places that make their butter from cream that has been pasteurised.
As far as I can understand the amendment of Deputy Johnson, it would mean that only butter that comes from a creamery would be available for the national brand. The first thing that occurs to me in connection with that is that you would automatically rule out good butter. I am not in a position to know what quantity. I do not think it would be desirable that too much butter should be ruled out. In other words, I think that the bigger the bulk of our Irish butter on the market in England that would brand, the better for the prestige of the brand. I think the prestige of our national brand is a very important matter.
For a long time to come I am afraid that a good lot of the choicest butter would be ruled out.
I should like to ask Deputy Johnson does he still stand by his amendment.
My position is that a great deal of my argument in favour of this has been destroyed by the acceptance of Deputy Heffernan's amendment. I merely brought it forward to ensure that there would be discussion. Inasmuch as the amendment with regard to pasteurisation has been accepted, the force of the contention has been destroyed, and unless there was enthusiastic agreement in favour of the amendment, I would withdraw it.
In sub-section 5, line 54, to delete the words " and marketing."
I wanted to ask the Minister for a definition of what he means by marketing.
The word deals generally with the conditions under which butter would be placed on the market. It may be redundant, if you like.
You are not purposing to have regulations controlling commercial travellers?
forLANDS and AGRICULTURE: No.
The Minister means the same kind of thing that is included in packages, wrappers, packing materials,etc., but he might not have included all he wanted to include in the previous thing.
I suggest it is redundant.
It may not be.
It refers back to sub-section (2) which refers to approved conditions, and approved conditions shall mean certain things which include packages, wrappers, packing materials and methods of packing and marketing, as shall be prescribed. If there were a possibility, for instance, that the method of marketing could be prescribed whereby it had to be sold by a commission or to be be sold through a co-operative organisation, it may be going further than we desire.
I think the wording is not the best. I am sure he does not mean to govern the actual trade system at all. I think what is meant is the actual system of placing butter on the market.
Would " transportation " meet your point?
It was to make assurance doubly sure. I do not think it will do any harm, and I do not think it can be stretched to mean commercial travellers.
If the Minister introduced another sub-section saying that the expression " marketing " means so and so, it could be explained. Again, the intention of what the Minister may think to-day this means, is one thing. Some other department may take another view of that, and may prescribe regulations which would govern them.
You speak of marketing butter. When you referred to the fact that butter is well marketed, you mean it is well turned out. You refer to the packing, finishing, and so on, of the butter.
Do you also mean the business capacity of the manager to sell his butter in the proper way, that is to say, the actual consigningof butter by the manager might be considered marketing?
No. I do not think it can possibly bear that meaning. No language can be precise enough to rule out all possibilities.
I do not like this term marketing. It is too loose and technical. It is a loose market term.
I understand that Irish butter is getting a bad name in England for the reason that buyers in England are making contracts for butter, and the butter is held up for perhaps a better price after the contract has been made. The High Commissioner communicated with me in a great many cases. Apparently, that particular practice is doing a tremendous amount of harm to Irish butter and Irish trade generally, at the present moment, that is the habit of making a bargain and refusing to make a delivery.
Can you not sue them for breach of contract?
You can in law, but business is business. I think we would be entitled. Supposing a creamery applied for the national brand which we knew to be a first class creamery. If the file of that creamery were looked up, and if there were complaints about that creamery five or six times in the previous year, would you be justified in refusing a national brand on that score? I do not know whether that intention was in the back of our heads.
That is exactly the reason. If there is a possibility in the mind of the Minister now there might be a possibility in the mind of the judge that would try the case whether this section did include power to interfere in a matter of that kind. I should think the Minister should have power to cancel a licence for the use of the national brand to a firm which flagrantly disregards its obligations in respect of the fulfilment of contracts and marketing requirements. I would say that that ought to come in as a separate sub-section in which the matter would be properly defined and discussed.
I will take out the word " marketing."
I agree that Deputy Johnson's idea is a better way of handling it, because it is a flagrant grievance that what the Minister said is occurring, and I think we ought to take steps under this Bill to counteract it.
The Minister accepts the amendment of Deputy Milroy and agrees to consider this question that we have been discussing for the last five minutes.