I have an amendment to delete sub-paragraph (e) in sub-section (3). I have nothing more to say about that, as I dealt with it yesterday. Unfortunately there is a precedent.
I am not sure that it is a good precedent.
I have heard something about the working of that provision in the Egg Bill, although it has not come into operation yet. An Irish firm of egg importers contracted with a firm in the East of England to supply eggs, but they were unable to supply their full contract. They told the firm in England to buy against them. They did so, but they said it was the first experience in Irish dealing that such a thing had happened. The result was that they have given further orders to that Irish firm.
This is a most essential clause. I have great acquaintance with creameries and I have known, time and again, that men entered into contracts to sell butter at a certain price, but afterwards when they got a wire from other firms offering a shilling more they broke off the contract. In my opinion this is vital to the Bill.
But there is no appeal, and you allow the Minister to be the judge.
There is an appeal. He only may do these things.
You must give a fortnight's notice.
Yes. There must be a fortnight's notice in writing.
It does not give an appeal.
The Minister may " if he thinks fit cause an inquiry to be held in relation to the matter."
It is a most extraordinary violation of what should be a sacred principle in law. A judge in the courts should alone deal with matters of this kind. The penalties here might mean the ruin of a man. We have been complaining of penalties of £5 a day, but here you are ruining an individual at the discretion of the Minister.
But is the Minister likely to do that?
That is not the point.
Is the provision in the Egg Bill to the same effect?
It can be easily understood that an English firm which has a grievance will not come here to sue in the courts.
Let us put in a provision that the court shall be the judge for the sake of justice to the individual.
Unless it is founded on the principle of a mutual acceptance of contract there is no business. We want to put the creameries on a business basis.
I will not admit that Government interference constitutes a business basis. It is very much the reverse.
Would it not be possible to put in some words that would give an appeal?
There may be some perfectly legal reason for breaking a contract which may be decided by a court.
That is in the clause, " without reasonable cause."
It puts the Minister in the place of a court.
I object strongly to that.
That has been done in previous legislation. I am afraid it was some of the hurried legislation.
It was brought up and passed at the last moment.
Is it bad in view of the special circumstances? The farmers are clamouring for it.
I think it is essential.
I think it would be desirable to have some person other than the Minister to judge.
Would it not be wise to let this be discussed in the Seanad because it is most serious?
Amendment postponed for consideration of the Seanad.
The next two amendments go.