SECTION 33.

(1) Any inspector may at all reasonable times enter any creamery or cream-separating station or any place where milk or cream is used for the manufacture of any dairy produce for sale, and may inspect any milk or cream found in such creamery, cream-separating station, or place, and may take and remove without payment any samples of any such milk or cream or of any dirt in such milk or cream or in any vessel in which such milk or cream is contained.
(2) Any inspector or any member of the Dublin Metropolitan Police or of the Gárda Síochána may at any time examine any milk or cream in the course of transport to or delivery at any creamery or cream-separating station or any place where milk or cream is used in the manufacture of any dairy produce for sale and may take and remove without payment samples of any such milk or cream or of any dirt in such milk or cream or in any vessel in which such milk or cream is contained.
(3) Any person who, knowing the name or other particulars of the person by whom any such milk or cream inspected or examined under this section is supplied, refuses to give such name or other particulars to any inspector or to any member of the Dublin Metropolitan Police or of the Gárda Síochána shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be punishable accordingly.
(4) Every person who shall obstruct or impede any inspector or any member of the Dublin Metropolitan Police or of the Gárda Síochána in the exercise of any of the powers conferred on him by this section shall be guilty of an offence against this section and shall be punishable accordingly.
(5) Every person guilty of an offence under this section shall on summary conviction thereof be liable to a penalty not exceeding five pounds.

I move:—

In Section 33, to insert before Section 33, a new section, as follows:—

" No inspector employed under this Act shall have any financial or other material personal interest in or personal obligation in connection with any firm engaged in any one or more of the businesses to which this Act relates."

I think very little explanation is required of the amendment. The intention is that no inspector shall have any personal interest in any creamery or any concern dealing with the manufacture of dairy produce. There is a suspicion that inspectors may have interests in other creameries and that they may use those to the detriment of creameries in which they are not interested.

The first thing I have to say is I have heard many suggestions from Deputies and other people about inspectors having interests in this, that, or the other institution. I have always asked them to say who were the inspectors and when this occurred. I would welcome at this stage the name of any official whom it is stated has interests in institutions which would give him a vested interest in the work he is supposed to do. I want to make it clear to start with, that I have never yet received any specific evidence whatever that any inspector of the Department of Agriculture either now or in the recent past has been connected with any institution, while I have heard of stories of insinuations and suggestions very easy to make. I do not suggest that Deputy Heffernan is making insinuations, but I hear those quoted by deputations, etc. I asked for names but never got them. As to this amendment, I think that is common law and the idea underlying it seems to be sound. Surely it applies to every inspector and every department.

Is there not a similar clause in the Railways Bill with regard to the members of the Railway Council?

Members of the Railway Council are not officials but outsiders taken in for different purposes. They are in a different position. Here are permanent officials of a department not officials taken in for a specific job. They are in the same position as officials of every other department, and it is the invariable thing that none of those inspectors should have a vested interest to prevent him from doing his business impartially. The danger of a clause like that is there is a sound general principle at the moment that any official who is found having an interest in an institution which from the point of view of an ordinary business man would at least be likely to render him partial is disgraced. He is not asked for an explanation. Everyone draw their conclusions, and he is dealt with accordingly. Put in a section like that in one Bill and the implication is that a very sound principle is weakening and that in any Bill in connection with any service where the conduct of the inspectors or officials is not regulated by a specific section like that, their conduct is really looser than it would be in the past. That is the danger I see for putting in that section. Everything contained in that section is fully appreciated in all services, and the man who infringes it is dealt with immediately. That is the present provision. If you insert that provision in connection with one set of inspectors, what is the implication? The implication is that inspectors in any other service are, to some extent at least, exempted from the implications of a rule that is already in existence.

I wish to reverse the insult in so far as we may say that one is to be insulted——

I do not say anyone would be insulted.

On the other hand, there is another sort of person who is a straight person, and who reads that. He knows he is perfectly straight. There may be some extremely clever gentleman whose services are invaluable to the place. He may have shares in a creamery. The mere fact that he reads a thing like that means that if he is a clean man he says: " I will have nothing to do with it." Perhaps he is just on the border line, being an extremely able man, and at the same time he is inclined to have a few shares in the creamery. I have never found an insult arising if one is really clean in one's own mind. I do not think any man would be insulted if this idea was put in. It is a protection to a certain extent, without any wish to insult anybody.

I was not making any insinuations against any officials when I put down this amendment. I do not know of any insinuations of this kind at all. I put it down simply as a protective amendment. I am not quite convinced by the Minister's explanation. I still think it would not do any harm, and it would have this good effect: it would prevent any criticism along these lines, and there have been statements made along these lines, probably untruthful ones, but they have been made. I do not think there is any provision in common law which would prevent an inspector having an interest in a creamery. The Minister might have it in his power to dismiss such an inspector, but he might find it a very difficult matter, and the question might be raised in the Dáil afterwards. There are many creameries which are joint stock companies, and it might easily happen that an inspector of the Department would have shares in such a company, and he might find himself, in inspecting that or any other company, prejudiced in favour of the company in which he holds shares, perhaps unconsciously prejudiced. It is to avoid any chance of that that I put down this amendment, and also to avoid the criticism along the lines I have suggested. It may not do any great good, but I cannot see that it will do any great harm. Of course the Minister may regard it as a certain amount of reflection.

No. I was careful to explain that.

I think the desire of the Deputy is commendable but I am afraid that the form of the amendment would defeat some of the objects of the Bill, and I think it would be found in practice to be difficult. I take it that it would be assumed that most of the inspectors that will eventually be employed under this Act will be people who have had connection with agriculture, and through agriculture with butter production, and if they had been a little more prosperous in their farming than Deputy Heffernan would suggest is possible these days, they might have acquired some interest in one or other of the numerous firms which are indirectly interested in agriculture and therefore indirectly interested in butter manufacture or creameries. I think it would be found that you would be very greatly limiting the scope of your personnel. It practically says that none of your friends shall be in any way interested in agriculture if that kind of agriculture is associated at all with butter production or the supply of milk for creameries. I think there are Acts which do put limitations upon the officers enforcing those Acts in regard to their businesses, but I think that in this case you are asking us to say that nobody who is farming, who has any interest in a farm which supplies milk to a creamery could be employed as an inspector, and nobody who has directly or indirectly got any shares in a company which is in connection with butter manufacture or butter sale or butter produce in England will be employed. I think that the enforcement of that would be found to be impossible, and I am inclined to think that the general character of the Ministry is the better protection unless a form of words a little more definite could be found.

I support Deputy Heffernan in regard to this amendment. I think if the Minister accepted it that it would be very helpful because in my opinion the chief means for making the whole thing workable and a success and to get good results out of it, is that the Creamery Committees and managements would have perfect confidence in the inspectorate, because the whole scheme turns on that and there are a number of varying interests manufacturing butter. I cannot see what harm this particular amendment would do. It would be rather helpful than otherwise, and I think it would be very advisable for the Minister to accept it.

There is just one misunderstanding of the Minister's statement I would like to refer to. His objection, as I understood it, was not on the grounds that the prospective inspectors would feel insulted but on the grounds of the effect of putting it in, not merely on this particular portion of the public service but on the public service as a whole, that if you accept this amendment in this particular Act when you have not got it in connection with other public services the impression will gradually get round that other public servants are not under the ordinary obligation of what we might call honesty in this matter. Assuming also that the man is a sensible man and is married he need only get the shares in his wife's name and then the amendment would be of no use as far as the object of the amendment is concerned.

I would like to draw attention to one possible aspect of this. For instance, you might have some dispute about a consignment of butter, and an expert who happened to be employed by the butter merchant who had some connection with creameries might be called in to decide the matter. I think a contingency like that should be guarded against, and it could be done by saying " no full-time inspector." There are certain experts that perhaps are the only available judges on the matter who may have some interest or some personal obligation.

I think there is a certain ground of analogy between this case and that of the railway tribunal. These are the inspectors of the Department, and if the Government thinks it is necessary to say that the members of the paid tribunal on the amalgamated railways are free from any suggestion of bias owing to having no interests I see no reason why the same thing should not apply to the Department's inspectors.

The railway tribunal is more or less of an analogy, but this is not a public service in that sense.

The inspectors would be, in certain cases, in regard to cleanliness and such matters.

The more I consider this amendment the more I am against it. I am profoundly hostile, if you like, to the idea underlying the amendment. I think it is absolutely unsound. I am at one with Deputy Hogan and Deputy Milroy when they say that it is of vital importance that the creameries and everybody in the trade should be absolutely certain of the impartiality of the officials. That is vital and it is absolutely important. It is important, of course, in every service, but it is particularly important in the administration of a Bill like this. We all want to have it that the creameries and everybody connected with the trade should have the fullest confidence in the impartiality of the officials, and it is because of that that I am against it. The section as it is drafted, as Deputy Johnson pointed out, would probably preclude any man who had an interest in any farm from becoming an inspector under the Act. But I was not concerned so much with the actual possibilities of the drafting. I was taking it in bulk, and I was taking the meaning which, I assume, Deputy Heffernan was himself taking out of it. But Deputy Johnson's point, that any man who owned a farm or who had any interest in a farm would be precluded from being an inspector by that amendment is quite sound.

On the other hand, a man might have �10,000, �15,000, �20,000 worth of shares in a creamery in his stockbroker's name, and be quite a respectable creamery inspector under that amendment. It could not touch him. What is the lesson that you draw from those two facts? One, that a man who had an interest in a farm, an outside interest, would come under the section, and the other that a pretty smart fellow who had a huge interest in perhaps a big combine of creameries could keep outside it by the very simple device of having shares in his stockbroker's name. What is the lesson that you draw from these two facts? That you cannot really get what you want by a section in an Act of Parliament; it can always be evaded. From the point of view of keeping officials impartial, it is absolutely useless, and on the other hand, there is the implication that the old convention which applies to every service is being weakened, that in future we are going to deal in a different way with public servants whom we find in a shady transaction. If there was some question as to the conduct of a public official in connection with a creamery, and it was found, let us say, that his stockbroker held �20,000 worth of shares for him in another creamery, of course the people in charge of the Department would know how to deal with him, and would deal with him immediately. He would not come under this at all. You would be taking a step which would lead to a new standard of conduct later on under which such men would not be dealt with, because, perhaps, they did not come within the section. The amendment is useless to effect this purpose, and any business man who is not suffering from mental deficiency could get outside it. On the other hand, it weakens the standard, which you cannot strengthen by Acts of Parliament, and it weakens a convention which regulates the conduct of officials in every branch of the Civil Service.

It is often the first step that counts, and although you can evade any law very often a provision of this kind would put a young inspector on the right road, and give him mental power to resist temptation. I do not see, and have never yet seen, where the insult comes in if a man is pure and straight. We must come to the serious question which this tends to allay, and that is the question of employers discovering men in a fairly high position not acting straight. I have had considerable experience, and I invariably try to keep a fair basis, and not to condemn too severely, but what do I find? If a man is convicted, everyone says: " Oh, poor fellow, he will never do it again; he has twenty or thirty in his family, and what will happen to them?" Then the clergyman comes and tells you all kinds of things as to what his great-grandmother did in her day, and what a splendid woman she was. We then try to exercise perhaps a little sympathy in that case. We want to avoid that. We want to give a young fellow a chance, and say to him: " Don't be a fool, act straightly, and you will be a fine inspector." If any of us were in the Department, we would have all sorts of pressure brought to bear on us.

I am in sympathy with this amendment, but I see the difficulties of the Minister. We are, of course, in this particular position, that while we recognise the present Minister for Agriculture as a man whose one idea before him is to advance agriculture on certain lines. We are not aware who his successor is going to be, and we are not aware who may get into the Department at a later stage. I think that of far more importance than the inspectors are the arbitrators, and if we were certain that the selection of arbitrators would be right we need not worry over the inspectors. If the arbitrators are men who can be absolutely relied on, and if they are men who have no special interests in any concern, there need not be much concern about the inspectors. If you have an inspector who is using his position for ulterior motives, the people connected with the creamery will very soon be able to make out that this man is, say, shoving a certain line of plant, and is getting a commission out of it. That has been done. If the arbitrators are men carefully selected, and if the Minister for Agriculture is going to guarantee to us that he will be very careful in the selection of arbitrators, I think there is no great reason for this amendment. People are getting so much awake that as regards inspectors who get into positions for certain purposes, and want to use them for such purposes, I really do not think there is very much danger of them doing so. I have two letters here from people asking me to speak to the Minister to get them appointments under this Bill. To my knowledge one of them has been an agent for machinery for eleven years. He was a creamery manager originally, and lost his position, and now wants to get in under the Department. I agree with Deputies Heffernan and Hogan in their support of such an amendment when we see such possibilities. I think, if the Minister takes steps with regard to the selection of arbitrators, I will not support the amendment, but I want to be sure that the arbitrators are perfect. We need not then worry about the inspectors.

Your friend of the machinery firm would not be ruled out by the amendment.

I do not want to discuss the amendment further, but I still hold my opinion, and I would like to have the amendment put.

Would you add, as suggested, the words " full time " before the word " inspector "?

I am not allowed to change it on this stage. On principle I would like to have the amendment put.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 4; Níl, 5.

  • R. H. Beamish.
  • Micheál O hIfearnáin.
  • Tadhg S. O Donnabháin.
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (Limerick).

Níl.

  • L. J. D’Alton.
  • Pádraig S. O Dubhthaigh.
  • Tomás Mac Eoin.
  • Pádraig O hOgáin (Galway).
  • Seán Mac Giolla ’n Riogh.
Amendment declared lost.
Question: " That Section 33 stand part of the Bill "—put and agreed to.

Amendment 52, Section 34, is not moved.