With regard to this Bill, I agree that it is complicated. This Bill has been in preparation for four months, and if it has been altered once it has been altered half a dozen times. It was found extremely difficult to draft the Bill. Undoubtedly it is difficult for the layman to read it, certainly without some explanation. The question of whether it is possible to simplify drafting is one with which I would like to deal. There is a famous case of attempting to simplify drafting, and that was the first Workmen's Compensation Act passed in England. That Act was passed while Mr. Chamberlain was Chancellor of the Exchequer. He had charge of that Act, and he announced before its passing—it was very revolutionary at the time— that he proposed to draft it himself. It was a most concise piece of English. He announced that he would draft it himself, and he had taken considerable care and he promised to draft it in such a simple way that any workman sitting by the fireside with his wife would know perfectly what every clause meant. He did, in fact, draft it himself in non-legal and non-technical language. As a piece of English, concise clear English, it is certainly regarded as a masterpiece. But the results of the Act were that the English Law Courts were in arrears for at least three years after the Act was passed dealing with compensation cases. The lawyers of England made a fortune out of it, and they held up the English Law Courts. That is a very notorious example, and it is an example often quoted for the people who talk about simplification. It is an Act which is interpreted by decided cases. There is hardly a clause in the Act that is not now interpreted with reference to decided cases.
That is an example of the fact that you cannot get away from the parentheses and qualifications that are necessary when you are drafting an Act of Parliament. An Act of Parliament is supposed to cover all possible future contingencies, and it is a strange thing that in fact it is the contingencies that one thinks will never arise that do arise in practice. It is impossible to simplify what is essentially complex; it simply cannot be done. We believe ourselves, and it is generally believed amongst people who are very competent to judge, that we are particularly lucky in the drafting of our Acts of Parliament. The drafting staff we have is extremely good. There is a school of drafting. The English Acts are not drafted quite on the same lines from the point of view of technical drafting, but it is considered here and in England, where there are really great equity lawyers and where there is a very big Chancery Bar, that the drafting here is really first-class. I do not think it would be possible to simplify very much more than is done. The main thing in drafting a Bill is to see that it will not give rise to endless litigation afterwards in the course of its administration. That is often more important, and Deputies will have to put it out of their heads that it is possible to draft a highly complicated Bill in simple language that will cover every possible contingency and be at the same time easily understood by everybody. In other words, it is impossible to simplify the essentially complex. I agree, therefore, that it is a very complicated Bill.
There was another point raised here. It is the second important point. It was a point raised in connection with the purchase of the Condensed Milk Company of Ireland. There is a difference of opinion about that purchase. Some venture the view that the creameries were bought too dear; others think that they were not too dear, and others say that, whether they were bought cheaply or dearly, they are likely to confer benefit on the country as a whole.
Deputies will remember this when they are speaking of the purchase of the Condensed Milk Company, that you cannot say that they were paid too much or that the premises were bought at too dear a cost, or that they could have been bought cheaper. I believe they could have been bought cheaper if we were content to wait a year or two and if we were content to take the consequences of waiting for one or two years. When the Condensed Milk Company was purchased it was highly capitalised, and it was not making a profit. On the contrary, it was making a loss. It was in the middle of a big trade war with the co-operative societies of Limerick, Cork and Tipperary. On the one hand you had the Condensed Milk Company, the biggest shareholders of which were Messrs. Lovell and Christmas. On the other hand you had the majority of the co-operative societies of the counties of Limerick, Cork and Tipperary. These were bodies that had not anything like the same amount of money as Messrs. Lovell and Christmas, but they had very special advantages in view of the fact that the suppliers of the raw material were shareholders in the co-operative societies. Consequently the position was that, while they had not the same advantages in money as the Condensed Milk Company had, they had other advantages which enabled them to carry on the compettion for two or three years with the Condensed Milk Company.
If that competition had gone on it is hard to say what would be the outcome. You can only make a guess. So far as that competition had advanced it had landed the co-operative societies in very great difficulties. The competition had not bankrupted them, but it brought some of them into the position that they had no further credit; it brought others of them into the position that instead of being free of debt, they had mortgaged their securities, but still they could carry on. On the other hand the Condensed Milk Company were making big losses, but they were putting up a first-class fight. But in this company, with a capital of £300,000 to £400,000, the largest shareholders were Lovell and Christmas. Messrs. Lovell and Christmas, I might mention, is a firm that has a turn-over of £23,000,000 to £24,000,000 per annum. They are the biggest grocers in the world, and they control one-third of the grocery trade in England. The whole butter trade in Ireland could pass through their shops. They are the biggest buyers of New Zealand, Danish and Australian butter. They had a special interest in holding a certain amount of control over the butter-making business in this country, and while they were making a big loss, say, £100,000 a year, it was only a small thing to them. They could afford to take very long views, they could afford to wait and to finance the proposition themselves and afford to lose £200,000 on it until the co-operative societies would have stopped paying the money. They could have continued until the inevitable happened, until the co-operative societies in the district who would then have to go out of business, and then they would control the bigger butter supply from Ireland. During all that time I would be receiving deputations from the proprietary creameries and from the co-operative creameries looking for money and everyone would be asking, "What will you do about it?" It is not a question perhaps so much of comparing the prices at which it was bought with what it might be bought at, but it is a question of the terrible waste that would have gone on in those two years and with the grave uncertainty of what would happen at the end of those two years.
Remember it is not to our interests to buy any proprietary concern at too much of a loss to that concern. The State can buy any proprietary concern at any price it likes; at any price that it puts into an Act of the Oireachtas. The price that the Dáil fixes for the compulsory acquisition of any concern is the price which the State must pay. But the State has to take other things into account. This is not a country of very great enterprise. You have to encourage enterprise so that people who start proprietary enterprise in this country should not get the impression from the action of the State that they were not wanted, and that this was not a place in which to invest money. Such enterprise should get encouragement, and if they were to be bought out they should get a fair price. It was not to our interests at all to put pressure on Lovell and Christmas because they are an English firm. They are an English firm with tremendous influence in the English market, and while we do not go out of our way to cultivate English firms, and while we must have such organisation here that they must give competitive prices for what they buy from us, it is not at all to the interests of this country because a firm is an English firm to treat them unfairly. They must be treated in the same way as any other firm.
Anyway it is a bed of roses, roses all the way up to the present, because nobody has paid anything yet except the State, and the first payment will not become due until next November. I believe myself that the payment will be honoured. Of course, it will be a question of whether we can get through such a transaction without some trouble. Most of the societies will honour their obligations and make no attempt to get out of their obligations. Whether they will or not, it depends entirely on what the butter market will be like in 1929, 1930 and 1931. This business is a bit of a gamble. There is not a fortune in the dairying industry. But its success is essential to this country, because dairying means not only butter but pigs and calves. We must help and foster the dairying industry. There is no fortune in it. If the times are good all the creamery societies will pay up and look pleasant and they will not say what a fine transaction this was. But if the times are not good they will not pay up so easily. That is human nature. If there is any encouragement to the odd creamery that wants to take advantage of these obligations and get out of them, they will do it. The experience up to the present is that with one or two notable exceptions the creamery societies have not tried to blackmail.
In answer to the question that I have been asked I will give some figures now. When I come to the final balance sheet everyone will have a chance then. It will be pointed out that this scheme costs so much in liquidation, that it costs so much to transfer, all sorts of losses will appear in the balance sheet and will be commented on in the Dáil in a sort of detached way without any reference to the general advantages of the purchase scheme, without any reference to the general conditions of this particular scheme. The Deputies will have to remember that this is a commercial proposition. a very big commercial proposition done by a very big firm, namely the State. When carrying out a very big transaction it is always a question of having to carry some big disadvantages and some big advantages and weighing up the situation and pointing out which outweighs the other. There are undoubtedly aspects of the purchase of the Lovell and Christmas transaction, that can easily be criticised. Everybody could point out how the firm was losing £100,000 a year for three years previously and they could point to the fact that £365,000 was paid for it. Everybody could draw the moral from that, and point out how foolish we were and how young we were and that it is a pity we did not know more about business. It is not easy to defend that sort of thing by pointing out the advantages generally to the farmers of the country from such a purchase. By pointing out as I think Deputy Nolan and Deputy Gorey pointed out that, possibly a penny a gallon in any county would amount to about £40,000 a year. In Limerick it would amount to more, but in Kerry it would amount to about £40,000 a year. Undoubtedly the closing of the creameries, the establishing of big solvent creameries which could afford to put in proper equipment and plant which could market their butter properly, and do other things well and the re-organisation generally all mean far more than a penny a gallon to the farmers in the country, and in fact the amount that the creameries of these districts, Cork, Tipperary and Limerick, saved as a result of that transaction would be round about one hundred thousand pounds which should be 33 per cent. say, on £350,000.
I have no doubt myself that the transaction is a good one and that it will prove to be a good one. I will give Deputies recent figures with regard to that transfer, but will only deal with the creameries. In a case like this it would complicate matters to deal with the condensers and other assets. The creameries cost £210,000, and we have already sold twenty-nine creameries, of which six would be centrals, for £44,165. That is the full price, including the subsidy, wherever there was a subsidy in connection with the turning of a central into an auxiliary. Actually 48 redundant creameries have been closed. I say on an average—it is a conservative estimate, but it means a saving of £560 a year to a farmer, and for milk supplied will be £38,451. Another creamery property amounts to about—I will not say what it is in order to leave a little doubt. It is a small amount of money, and I do not want purchasers to be able to calculate it exactly. There is more creamery property sold amounting to a few thousand pounds, but we have sold total property up to the present valued for £95,190. That total property consists of 48 redundant creameries and 29 creameries actually sold as going concerns. We have on hands about five centrals and 30 auxiliaries, and they are easily the best creameries to-day. They are New Market, Tipperary, Knocklong, Coachford, and Terelton. There are no co-operative societies in those areas at all. They control the whole areas. They are magnificent concerns. They control a huge market supply. They are the best of Lovell and Christmas's, and we have those on hands. There are about five centrals and 30 auxiliaries, and they certainly are worth more than the balance.