I am glad to get an opportunity of stating the facts as I know them in this connection. May I say first that this is a storm in a teacup, and it is an example of the fact that a rather big and important policy can be held up by what—I agree with Deputy Morrissey—are purely personal jealousies, and held up by considerations which have absolutely nothing to do either with the mertis of the case or with the scheme itself. I believe firmly that that is the position here. I believe firmly that there is no real dispute here, that there is no real issue to be decided. Yet here we are discussing a very big national policy, and a good deal of the time of all parties is taken up in discussing issues which are entirely unreal, issues which are of no importance, disputes that in fact do not exist—because I have no dispute with the Tipperary Creamery— and matters that could quite easily be settled if people thought of the national policy and ceased thinking of personal antagonisms and personal interests that have their roots in the past and that should not be obtruded into the light of the present day at all.
I can only give my opinions, and I can only tell you the facts as I know them and as I have been told them. I need not go back and restate our policy in regard to the production of milk products. Our policy was to hand over the production of all milk products to the farmers themselves. That received the approval of the Dáil and in fact received the approval of the country, so that we can take that as settled as a basis to go on with. I do not think that that will be denied by any party—that we should hand over the production of all milk products to the farmers themselves, whether they be butter, condensed milk, casein, dried milk, or anything else that is made from milk. That was our policy. It was approved of by all parties, I think, and approved of by the country generally. Let us start from that. If that policy was approved of it should be carried out. It may be a wrong policy. I believe it is right, but I am not infallible. In any event let it be carried out. If you stop it in the middle, if you stop it before it is carried out, it disintegrates, you learn nothing, and you are getting nowhere. You have simply demonstrated that we have got nowhere that we are futile and that we have not the courage to be logical and to carry out that policy to the bitter end.
In this case we bought a creamery in Tipperary. From the point of view of equipment and plant it is agreed by everybody that it is one of the finest creameries in Ireland and one of the finest in the world. In that creamery there is a condensing plant. Before we bought that premises there were two operations carried out in the creamery, one, the making of butter from butter fat, and the other the condensing of milk from separated and from whole milk. There were other premises which we also bought—five or six of them—where milk was condensed, but we are dealing with Tipperary at the moment. When we bought it we adopted exactly the same procedure as we adopted in regard to every other creamery of the same kind. We found a co-operative creamery alongside it, a very fine co-operative creamery, a very successful co-operative creamery, a creamery with about 20,000 gallons of milk and with a supply of milk that was increasing every day, a creamery that was faced with the necessity of spending thousands of pounds in extending their premises. It was obviously an example, looked at on its merits, of the benefits of the policy which we were trying to carry out, the benefits that it conferred on co-operative creameries which were in close competition with proprietary creameries, for here you had a proprietary creamery which we bought, and a co-operative creamery, and the co-operative faced with the necessity of extending their premises, putting in new plant, which they are doing at present, to handle an increased milk supply, to enable them to compete with the premises which we bought and with the business which we bought.
We adopted exactly the same procedure in Tipperary as we adopted everywhere else and as was agreed on everywhere else. We said: "Take this creamery, which is one of the finest in Ireland; take the whole milk supply make the two into one and you will have one of the finest creameries in the world." We said the same thing in other cases. In fifty or sixty cases, in cases that were not nearly as good, from the point of view of the Tipperary Co-operative Creamery, we were able to do business at once. Here we could not do business. It was quite impossible. We made agreements and they fell through. One side alleged that there was a mutual misunderstanding. There were mutual recriminations mutual accusations, and they found that they could not do business. However, we tried to, and we did reach a point where I personally thought we had agreement.
I had thought at one stage that the Tipperary Co-operative Creamery were willing to buy our creamery as well as our milk supply, and as well as any additional milk supply. We arranged that the price should be the same as in the case of any other creamery, good, bad or indifferent, poor or rich, and Tipperary is a very rich creamery. It was to be the same price that every other creamery paid for the milk, namely, £1 a gallon. We also agreed to give them the same concessions that we gave to any other creamery, that the money could remain outstanding for eight years, that they could pay it at half-a-crown per £ per annum, and that they could have the money at 5½ per cent. When the agreement came to be signed, we learned that they were under the impression that they were to get the money for eight years and were to pay no interest. I do not believe that that was a genuine misunderstanding. Any number of creameries were bought all around Tipperary, and they knew that everyone was buying on these terms. But when the agreement went there to be signed it was discovered that they thought they were not to pay any interest. I believe that Deputy Morrissey is right. I believe that the majority of the suppliers to the Tipperary Creamery, the majority of the Committee, wanted to pay this, realising that our proposal was in their best interests, but a few persons stopped the thing, and it was stopped for reasons which I would prefer not to go into, reasons which are not a credit to the Co-operative movement, personal reasons which had nothing to do with the Co-operative movement. When a committee makes a decision, and announces that decision as the decision of the committee, I am willing to accept it, and I do accept it, as a decision of the committee, even although I knew in fact that it was not the decision of the committee as a whole, but of a few people on the committee who were influenced by certain reasons which had nothing to do with the merits of the case. However, let us accept it in this case as the decision of the committee, as I accepted it. We were then faced with keeping open a creamery which we had bought. We re-organised it. We re-organised it in connection with a creamery at Clonulty which had been closed through bad management, and we have now a milk supply of 17,000 gallons coming to that creamery per diem, and when we bought it it had only about 6,000 or 7,000 gallons. So that you have got the situation in Tipperary that you have two creameries, one with 25,000 gallons of milk daily, nearly the biggest in Ireland, and another, with 17,000 gallons, one of the five or six biggest in Ireland, and there is plenty of room for both.
If Tipperary does not want to buy our creamery I am not complaining. I believe we are right. I believe people will fight when they want an objective. I do not want them to fight. We will keep the Tipperary Creamery, and all that we will ask the Tipperary Co-operative Creamery to do is to honour that bill and to pay for the 3,000 or 4,000 gallons of milk that they have got as the result of the purchase, because when we did purchase certain of the suppliers went over straight to the Tipperary Co-operative. Deputies from the country will know the reasons. Some farmers are very quick, and they believe that the man who gets in first often gets off the best, and some suppliers, representing 3,000 or 4,000 gallons of milk, are supplying the Tipperary Co-operative now. In spite of that, our supply has gone up from something like 6,000, 7,000 or 8,000 to something like 17,000, and we have now the position where there is plenty of room.
I think Tipperary is wrong in not agreeing to this proposal. I think their creamery would then be one of the finest in the world. But if they do not want to do it, well and good; they may be right in the long run, and I am not going to ask them. There are technical considerations to be taken into account. Anyway you cannot ask people to go back on an attitude they have taken up. Whether it is right or wrong, they find it hard to do so. I do not want to ask them. But we do want them to do what poor creameries here, there, and everywhere have agreed to do, and that is to pay for the milk supply that they have got. They have got 3,000 gallons extra, and they have to pay. Under the Bill they will pay for it.
It is really a waste of time discussing this. There are dozens of much more important issues in connection with the transfer of the Condensed Milk Company that I am not able to attend to because of the talk over penny-halfpenny issues which are of no importance to the real scheme, and that are issues raised only in the Dáil. However, I suppose that is inevitable. Anyway I hope it is clear that we do not want Tipperary to buy the creamery that the Government has purchased. We merely want them to pay for the milk that they have got. When this Bill is passed they will have to pay for it, and I believe that they are quite willing to pay.
Let us come to the other side. When they refused to sign the agreement we naturally refused to take their milk supply for condensing purposes. I think that was quite legitimate. I think it was perfectly fair, in the interests of the other creameries which had signed their agreements. Remember that we are dealing with other creameries all over Tipperary and in this vicinity where agreements have been signed, and where shares have been issued, creameries with nothing like the same amount of money and nothing like its prosperity. We were dealing with them, and they were saying, quite naturally: "It is most unfair to force us to honour this agreement and to pay our liabilities under this agreement, whereas a much wealthier creamery like Tipperary need not sign it, and they will get all the benefits." We agreed that it was most unfair, and we said to Tipperary: "We will not take your skimmed milk for condensing purposes unless you sign this agreement, or an agreement to pay for the milk you have got." We refused to take their skimmed milk, and they immediately invited in a German firm to make casein out of it. I heard last January that this firm was coming in. I got in touch with them through the proper source, which I will not mention. I asked if they intended to come in and establish a casein factory. I told them that if they did they would be cutting across the national policy, that it was our policy to hand over the manufacture of the products of the milk to the farmers, and that if they were coming in they were doing so with my opposition and against the national policy. They quibbled and quibbled and came in. All the correspondence took place last February.
Before ever they spent one single penny—though they may have made agreements: I do not know about that —I made it absolutely clear to that firm in the proper way that they would be coming in against our wishes, and coming in against the national policy. They quibbled and quibbled and came in, and they put machinery into the Tipperary Creamery. And here is the shocking part of it: Rightly or wrongly all this policy has been in the interests of the co-operative movement; in other words, has been in the interests of the movement for handing over to the farmers complete control of at least a very important aspect of their own business, and yet one farmers' creamery, one of the biggest in Ireland, definitely out of pique, went out of its way to try to smash that policy by bringing in a proprietary firm. That is what it comes to. Anyway they came in and put up machinery, and the process of putting up that machinery coincided exactly with the various stages of this Bill. They got very busy when this Bill reached the Dáil. A fortnight ago they walked into my office. This circular, signed by Patrick L. Ryan, President, and Joseph C. Delaney, Secretary of the Tipperary Co-operative Creamery, has been sent to all the members of the Dáil. They say: "We got two Germans to teach us the method, and these have returned to their own country. A factory has been erected, paid for and owned by the farmers constituting this Society." When this Bill passed the Dáil they began to realise that business was meant, and that when we had a national policy to carry out we meant to carry it out, and they thought that the time had come to be polite. They walked into my office. One of them is a director. They told me they had owned the machinery. I do not know who is telling the truth.