We had a pretty full discussion on Deputy Milroy's amendment on the last day. We will now resume that discussion. Does Deputy Milroy himself wish to say anything on the matter? It is especially on the proposed sub-section 3 that we had most of the discussion.
SECTIONS 29 AND 30
There are a few things that I would like to have information on before the discussion goes much further. I think it is a pity that the amendment, or suggestion, or proposal, of the setting up of a Dairy Council, or Advisory Committee, could not be discussed in connection with this examination at the ports, because there is a good deal possibly in the idea, that the Minister is seeking power to make such examination as may be found necessary, and if he could inform us that he is willing to agree to the idea of an Advisory Council, or Dairy Council, and that he would act on their advice, it would clear up the matter somewhat. But the question is when, and how, and to what extent, examination at the port would take place. If we knew that, it would clear the air. I do not want to anticipate a discussion on that.
I am afraid it is assumed that the Minister will not be influenced by any discussion that takes place at the proposed Dairy Council.
I think it would be well if the Minister would let us know what attitude he would take on that. A great deal depends on how far the advice of the Council, if set up, would be operative with regard to the question of examination at the ports. I have not heard any convincing arguments disproving what is suggested, or indicating the impracticability of what is suggested in this amendment of mine. I would like to know, first, was it objected to on the grounds of expense, and, if so, I would like to have the figures put forward indicating what it is considered would be the expense of the operation of this amendment if carried—what it would necessitate. I would like to know, also, and I think it has a very considerable bearing on this question, what expense the Minister calculates will be involved in the efficient inspection under the system which he proposes to carry into effect, apart from examination at the ports. I think we ought to have some estimate of the expense that this inspection would involve.
I think it will be conceded that the primary object of those who support this amendment of grading at the ports is to secure that all butter bearing the national brand shall be up to the standard that was to be expected from butter bearing that brand. I think there would be general agreement that that is a very desirable object to have in mind. An examination of the arguments put forward in support of this examination at the port is, at least, convincing that if they are practicable they would secure that result. An examination of the provisions of the Bill as drafted should indicate that there would be an absolute security against inferior butter bearing the national brand receiving that brand. If there is any real purpose in this Bill it must be to secure that the national brand is the hallmark of a certain standard of quality, and that no inferior article should be allowed to bear that mark. So the Minister hopes. He is trusting, I think, to that. The shrewd, practical mind which the Minister often, but not always, discloses seems to me to be trusting a good deal to luck and to the effect of these privileges granted to certain creameries in regard to certain examination, with regard to their apparatus, and so on, that they will be so changed in their outlook in various ways that they will take the necessary precautions to prevent an inferior article coming from their premises. I think that is a bit risky, and I think, if the Minister is really in earnest, that the national mark shall not be discredited by inferior stuff going out, that he should have long and seriously and exhaustively considered the whole question before he urges the rejection of this amendment, which would secure and make the machinery of administration in this respect almost water-tight; so that it would be impossible for inferior stuff to leave the country bearing the national mark. I do not want to say anything further for the present. I would like to hear the views of the other members of the Committee on the question.
I could not support Deputy Milroy in regard to Sub-sections 3 and 4, because the effect at present would be that the butter would be held up at the ports. Sub-section 4 says that the whole of any butter bearing the national brand shall be examined at the port. Would that mean that there would not be free flow of the export of butter from the Free State? Because, if so, that is not a thing that the creamery managers are in favour of.
That is a mistake. My own opinion is that this would not necessitate the holding up of exports at the ports.
What about Section 62. What about the analysis?
That need not necessitate the holding up of any exports of butter in order to await the results.
How are you to obliterate the mark if, pending the making of the analysis, the butter is sent on to England, and is sold?
So far as moisture analysis is concerned, I am informed that that operation would not last longer than five minutes. That would be only just to find out how much water is in the butter and the moisture analysis would ascertain that.
I really think that in connection with the suggestion of an examination at the port there is evidently the question of certificates at the creameries. If you have these examinations of butter at the ports you will lose time in getting the butter to the market. You want the creameries to send butter that is good butter without being interrupted whatever in transit, and you want it to get as quickly as possible to its destination. I do not suspect that there would not be proper inspection at the creamery. I anticipate that if the creamery is not right it will be held up. If the creamery is right we will save time by not having an inspection at the port. In a Bill like this that is trying to secure a high standard of uniformity in Irish butter, it is wrong to believe that everything will be wrongly carried out by the Executive. In general, I am down on an Executive so long as I am not on that Executive myself. But in this case I think we should not have our suspicions too strongly that things will not be done, and that the inspectors will not carry out their inspection thoroughly and efficiently. If they do not do so, then let us be down on their backs. The main thing for us is to get to London and the other English markets as quickly as we possibly can with our butter. If we can do that we will get a better grade of butter than if we are to have delay in the transit of the butter.
I think creameries might suffer a big loss financially if there was any stoppage—no matter how short—in regard to butter at the port of examination.
In regard to Deputy Milroy's point that some butter might go out, I do not think that any butter can go out with a national brand attached. Under the Bill butter is liable to inspection in transit to the port and at the port, but if Deputy Milroy's amendment were carried it would mean that the Government would have to take samples of consignments of butter at the port for analysis and water content, and that would mean the holding up of consignments for a very considerable time. The effect would be that very often you would have some markets glutted instead of having a constant flow of butter into the markets, because several consignments might be held up at a particular port which were destined for a particular town. I would not be in favour of Deputy Milroy's amendment.
The point of Deputy Beamish seems to be rather peculiar. He says it is essential we should get to the market as quickly as possible. But suppose we get to the market with an article that discredits the national brand, owing to the method of examination.
It is important that we should get to the market quickly and if there is something wrong with the inspection, after trial we will very soon find out if it is serious. But it would be better to try it first.
Would somebody explain the system of examination—the number of inspectors and the cost that this examination is going to entail. I want some information on these matters. I have some estimates of what it would cost to put this amendment into operation, but I have no figures as to the cost of the proposed system.
Which examination do you refer to?
The examination which we presume is going to take place if this amendment——
Even if your amendment passes, that other examination will take place also.
It need not necessarily be so extensive.
Would the Deputy state what the estimate is for the cost of examination at the ports?
It is calculated that it will be about ï¿½5,400 a year.
To examine ï¿½4,000,000 worth of butter at the ports!
I think the Board of Agriculture has taken all necessary precautions to examine the butter anywhere and everywhere they think fit. That is practically the most important point in connection with the whole of the Bill. The creamery is the place which must necessarily be the place of inspection, because if you have got to have your butter examined to see if it is fit for the national brand, the person examining must be absolutely educated in the business. That is the most important thing of all. The one place they will be educated is at the creameries or where the butter manufacturers are turning out the butter. It is there in reality that the examination will have to take place. Deputy Milroy speaks of ï¿½5,000 as the cost of examination of the butter at the ports. If you are going to grade the butter at the ports it will cost ï¿½95,000. And even the grading at the ports in the case of New Zealand has been a failure, as we learned last year. New Zealand butter is on quite a different footing from Irish butter, because as you know it is a question of collecting cream and collecting butter and the time which elapses before and after it has been shipped. The position of Ireland is not analogous to New Zealand. It is analogous to either Denmark or Sweden.
They do not issue the national brand from examination at the ports. While the authorities retain the right to examination at the ports and on the road and generally to surprise visits, it means everything. If examination were confined to the ports, you might have one day seventy boxes of butter being exported. The very important question of re-booking then would come in if you cannot delay the steamer. If you are going to hold up consignments at the port, this question of re-booking will be very awkward. Is any steam-ship company going to take your butter to the other side if their traffic is going to be held up for this inspection? You may have fifty consignments of butter to-day and only six to-morrow. Are you going to keep a staff there which could deal with fifty consignments to deal with only six the following day? If you are going to have port inspection for the purpose of the national brand or grading, or what you like, what sort of staff will you have to keep? I say—and I know authoritatively—that where grading has been done at the ports is has cost ï¿½95,000. I think the proper place for the examination of butter would be in the creamery. If, by any chance, those creameries or factories will not turn out the butter as required, their licence can be revoked by the Government. If they know that if they do not turn out butter worthy of the national brand this will take place, all these creameries and factories will take steps to see that the butter is equal to the standard that the inspector found when he allowed them to get the national brand. If it is in the power of the Department to punish them, I am satisfied they will not run the risk. If the Government retains power to examine the butter irrespective of where they find it, I think that is sufficient without the expense which this amendment would entail.
Would Deputy Milroy explain sub-section (5) of his amendment? That is the point I want to make, and I do not want to be at cross-purposes.
Grading, of course, is simply something that might be said to be done simultaneously with the examination. Is not that so?
It is classification of the butter upon examination.
That simply means that as butter is examined the class it belongs to is noted.
Sub-section (5) of the amendment reads: " The exporter shall be entitled to receive from the inspector or examiner a certificate showing the percentage of marks awarded as a result of the examination and, where required by the consignor, the examiner shall send a duplicate of the certificates to the consignee."
That means that butter will be examined at the ports by the inspectors or graders and that, in effect, so far as the consignments are concerned, the examiner will send on a grading certificate to the consignee. That certificate will say whether it is first grade, second grade or third grade. That raises a most important point in connection with grading and the national brand system—whether you can grade butter which does not come from a creamery which is up to a certain standard. I thing all the people who know most about the matter and who are most closely in touch with creamery management and creamery practice, agree that you cannot, with safety, grade butter which does not come from a creamery whose standards are up to a certain mark. A creamery gets the national brand because its standards reach a certain level—its standards of technical competence on the part of its managers and butter makers and its standards of equipment. That is a certain guarantee in itself that the butter turned out will be up to a certain mark. It is not water-tight and it is not an absolute guarantee. I do not know that there is an absolute guarantee for anything in this world, but it is certainly a considerable guarantee. You could examine that butter and you could grade it for ninety-two marks. It would bear the national brand which would guarantee that that butter is at least worth 92 marks—that is, if we decide that 92 marks is the proper score for the national brand. You could safely grade that butter and say that it was worth 96 marks. You would be pretty safe in regard to the keeping qualities of the butter where you knew that the cream was pasteurised, that the machinery was up to date, that there was a certain standard of cleanliness and that the butter makers and managers had certain qualifications. You could safely say that that butter was bacteriologically all right. You would be wrong on occasion, perhaps. Accidents will happen in the best regulated creameries, but in that case you have as much certainty as you could have. You could safely grade that butter up to 96. In the case of a creamery which does not consistently do things fairly well and which does not keep up to a certain standard, they could not get on examination immediately after the butter is made the score that the butter would be entitled to, for the very simple reason that that particular lot of butter might be one of the lots that would not turn out very well in three weeks time. If on examination of one consignment of butter from a creamery whose standards you are not satisfied with—examination by the three tests of water content, taste, and smell—the butter would appear to be 92, you cannot safely give 92 because it may be an altogether different consignment in three weeks time. What are you going to give—second or third grade; eighty, seventy, or sixty marks? The fact is you cannot give it any grade. Every man who knows his business knows that and knows what this proposal can only mean.
The question we then ask ourselves is, is it worth the trouble for the sake of giving a few consignments of butter over 92 a special grade? I agree with Deputy Milroy that we should take power to examine not only the national brand of butter at the ports in transit as well as in the creameries, and we have taken that power in the amendment we have inserted to Section 11. The Department may, under that new section examine every consignment of butter that leaves Ireland by every port. They have that option. That is certain and the only question between us is as to whether we should here insert provisions in the Bill which, in addition to the option, would compel the Ministry of Agriculture to examine all consignments, or a certain percentage of the consignments, say, of a certain class of butter. My view is that, while I would see no objection whatever, strictly speaking, to insert a provision something like Section 3, leaving out the word " all," and leaving out the word " regular," and leaving out any other words I do not know the meaning of. That is what I mean by leaving out the word " regular," and binding us to examine at least some consignments at the ports. Is it worth it? Examining one consignment at a port from a creamery within six months would satisfy the clause. The fact is that as between the order of the Department to examine all consignments, and leaving a discretion with the Department to examine all consignments, there is no half-way house that I can see that would meet the case, or that would be anything but a purely arbitrary half-way house at this stage. It is the intention of the Ministry of Agriculture to exercise the powers given.
Would not regular examination suit?
The only objection I have to the word is that I do not know the meaning of it, and in an Act of Parliament we should be precise.
Is it not already specified in a previous section?
If regular examination means simply that we examine at the ports in transit, in the creameries and elsewhere, as we contemplate under the Bill, then I have no objection to it. We could do that with impunity in the case of any one creamery. We need only to examine once at the port, and I do not think any Act of Parliament, any legal proceedings, could compel us to alter that procedure. I am merely pointing out,ï¿½ propos to the point, that there seems to be no half-way house to compel us to examine all consignments at the ports, or leaving us an option.
The effect of this would be that the national brand will not come into force for two years.
I was coming to that. I was merely dealing with this in so far as it was compelling us to examine all butter at the ports, and I was not concerned with the period at the moment. That is different to the merits of the case between that section and the section inserted. The fact is that the more we think about that national brand idea it is inconsistent with grading. The original scheme of the creamery managers was at least logical. There was to be no national brand, but there were to be grades. There was to be as high a grade, or probably a higher grade, as the national brand. The butter was to go through to the ports, a sample taken of it immediately, and the rest of the butter let go immediately or as soon as possible. The sample was to be submitted to three tests—water contents, taste and smell. A wire was sent to the consignee giving the grade, and that wire would arrive probably as soon as the butter, and he would have his grade before him when the butter arrived. There would be a hold-up even under that system. You know the way trains come into the North Wall. Go down to the North Wall and you will see some of the difficulties in making arrangements in the way of taking a sample of butter without delaying the rest of the consignment. There would be some delay, and even a little delay is important, because our aim should be to take advantage of our natural advantages and get our butter as fresh as possible to the English market. In any case the scheme was watertight and logical. You were to take your sample out of the consignment and let the rest of the butter go, and send your grading certificate by wire. That has its disadvantages, first because of the delay, and you really cannot grade any butter coming there except butter up to what we call our national brand standard. You cannot give a grade to a creamery that was not consistently turning out good butter, for you had no guarantee whatever that that butter might not be worth less in a fortnight's time. This attempt to unite a national brand scheme and the grading scheme is impossible, for you have a national brand scheme given there to the butter; you take your sample and must let the butter go. You test the butter by three tests, and you send a wire to the consignee. He has got the butter by that time with the national brand, and he has possibly sold the butter by that time. Whether or not, you cannot tell him more than he can see himself. A great advantage of this grading system according to its protagonists is that you are applying an exact test for the consumer on the other side. That is true. Any competent butter importer will test it himself as regards its taste and smell, at least, and possibly as to its water contents. You are simply telling him what he can tell himself, so you might as well take out he national brand if you are going in for grading. What is the use of sending over butter containing the national brand and then wiring saying that the butter is not worth the national brand? It would be more logical to leave this scheme as it originally stood—no mark on the butter, and a wire following the butter stating the grade. You would not be confusing the importer on the other side.
Is it not better that that should take place than that butter should arrive there and the man receive no information that it was of inferior quality and then to ascertain that himself?
I understood the national brand was to be extended to creameries. I do not see really there is any objection to granting these grades to the creameries. I would facilitate the transport of your butter to the market, and you would want to do that to get the higher price.
There is a practical difficulty in this arising from the fact that there is no absolute standard of what is excellent. Read the market reports. In last week's paper we read that in one place they like highly coloured butter, in another place they like butter salty, and in another place they like pale butter. If you have a single grader who has his own views as to what percentage of marks should be given to colour, what percentage to texture, and so on, then you could do it, but it is impossible to have a single single grader. You require to have a number of graders, and a number at each port. They would, therefore, vary in their recording, in their scoring, and what would suit one market in regard to standard of excellence would not suit the other, because the systems of the market would vary so that the value of the score card, as you might call it, is thereby lost. I know, as a matter of practice, that butter judges vary, and in butter shows it has been found in some places desirable to have three judges, who would have their own ideas as to the relative number of marks to be given according to colour and texture, and these would have to be averaged, or rather the total of marks of the three judges would have to be taken into account. In very few cases did these judges' marks or score cards conform one to the other. That shows that there is no absolute standard in the eyes of judges in this country, or in the eyes of consumers in England—there are different tastes and fancies. This change to me seems to pre-suppose a universal standard of excellence, so many marks capable of being applied to the various qualities of butter. In the absence of that universal standard of excellence this proposal seems to fail. It seems to me the intention is to give a kind of certificate to the wholesaler so that he will not have to examine the butter at all. but that again pre-supposes that the importer's ideas of excellence and the certifier's ideas of excellence will tally. I am, therefore, driven to the conclusion that before you can arrive at any grading system which would conform to the intentions of this sub-section the inspectors would require to be appointed by the people in the particular market that is being served. If it is London, then you would want an inspector who would comply with the requirements of the London trade, and if it is Glasgow or Manchester separate inspectors are required. That, of course, makes it impossible, and, therefore, the proposal fails.
The same variation occurs in Denmark as anywhere else.
There is no grading in Denmark.
I should say those things find their own level. Colour is one thing. Colour may be a very good thing, but I think it is a very small thing. Percentage of salt is a reasonable thing. If wholesale people want a certain percentage, Denmark gives it to them, but that does not really constitute high-class butter; of course it is texture, the actual flavour of the butter, the percentage of water, and so on. I believe that the standard of the larger creameries here in Ireland will reach the standard of Denmark butter, or rather it shall be better than Denmark butter when we get this criticism and get the national standard utilised.
I understand the discussion is on Mr. Milroy's amendment, and I would like to say a few words on it. If we want to get a butter standard, it is from the farm to the creamery we will get it. It is not at the ports or by following the consignments from the ports to the foreign ports that we are going to get it. In many of the southern creameries today we are turning out a far superior butter to any butter in the world. There is a creamery that I happen to be connected with for fourteen or fifteen years. It has seven auxiliaries. That creamery turns out butter which if tested at the port would return a test of 98 per cent. If it were followed to London and tested it would return 88 per cent., for the simple reason that the cream from which it was made is not pasteurised. The whole secret in this thing is pasteurisation. Do not talk about the port. You cannot test any butter at the port. In fact, butter from cream that is not pasteurised will give a higher percentage than butter from cream that is. If you want to get to the root of the whole evil in this country you must go to the farmer, and from the farmer to the creamery. Put your creamery in order, and you will not want any inspection at the port. I am not in favour of any inspection at the port. It is no use.
I think most of the speakers have spoken three or four times—at least the protagonists. Before deciding what we will do with the amendment, I would like to ask Deputy Milroy if he assumes that there is no exportation of butter except through the ports in the Saorstát?
The amendment only refers to ports.
That would be a step in the right direction. We could move on to the other points. I asked for some information about the expenses.
It will cost between ï¿½12,000 and ï¿½14,000 for extra men.
I want to know what is going to be the additional administrative expenses involved in the inspection that this Bill is likely to involve.
Twelve or fourteen thousand pounds.
What would it be on every pound of butter exported?
Between ï¿½12,000 and ï¿½14,000 on ï¿½4,000,000.
Therefore, we would probably quadruple what we spend on it. I think it would be a good investment.
All I have to say is that I think the arguments that have been put up in contradiction to my own have been most convincing. The only thing I can do now is to withdraw the amendment and bring the matter up at another stage.
I do not think that would be fair after debating it so long. It is not fair to the Committee.
I want to get some information before the thing is brought to a conclusion. I missed some of the earlier portion of the debate. We devoted the greater portion of our argument on Saturday to the examination of the butter at the port. Is that ruled out of discussion now?
We have discussed the thing fully. The whole four sub-sections were under discussion.
All the discussion I have heard has been with regard to grading at the port.
Sub-section (3) was also discussed this morning.
I am not supporting grading at the port, but I am supporting the examination of all butter over a period of six months, at least tentatively supporting it. I am not perfectly sure about it myself.
We have to come to a conclusion as to what we shall do on amendment 45 as a whole. Deputy Milroy asked leave to withdraw the amendment, but there is an objection to that.
I object to bringing it up again. If this Committee is not competent to transact its work there is no use in our sitting.
That raises a point I must take issue with. This is simply one stage of the ordinary procedure of a Bill. No matter what decision you reach, any Deputy is competent to challenge that decision on a subsequent stage.
We are not denying that, but it is on a subsequent stage it must be challenged.
I think what Deputy Duffy means is that it would be infinitely better after all the arguments for and against having been given and the thing having been debated fully to decide the matter and not have it brought up again unless it is absolutely necessary.
I think this idea must be utterly dissipated. Every other member of the Dáil who is not on this committee has equal rights to bring up amendments. We must not allow the opinion that our decisions are going to preclude other Deputies from bringing up amendments on other stages of the Bill.
We can fight them.
Of course we cannot preclude anybody from acting within their rights under the Standing Orders, but here is an amendment which we have discussed for three days, and I certainly would like a decision on it. That does not prejudice any steps which Deputy Milroy intends to take later on, and which the Standing Orders allow him to take. I for one would object to a withdrawal of this amendment. I would like to have a decision here for what it is worth.
You will have to make up your minds on the amendment as a whole.
I have made up my mind on the amendment as a whole. The Minister was very considerate with regard to sub-section (3) the other day. I am afraid if this is let go we will lose all chance of having it discussed again. The Minister has been very good about these matters. He has not precluded anything so far which he thought would be useful in the Bill. I want to know now if this amendment is decided will that rule out any discussion on whether there should be examination at the ports for a period of six months?
There can be no further discussion on this amendment once it is put.
That is the point. What I fear is that this will be a rather hastily closing up of a subject that we had a big discussion on, and on which we have got no decision.
The only way is for the Committee to decide on it.