In Committee on Finance. - Horse Breeding Bill, 1933—Committee.
I move amendment I:—
After line 22 to insert a new definition as follows:—"the word `stallion' means an entire horse used or intended to be used for stud purposes."
This section deals with definitions, and it appears to me that where there is reference to stallions in this Bill there should be some definition of the word "stallion." I do not think the amendment needs any justification, beyond saying that it appears to be necessary to have some definition of the word.
If that amendment were accepted we would be back exactly at the stage we were at under the previous Act. That is really the big difficulty, and why this Bill brings in owners of stallions who claim that they were not keeping them for stud purposes, but for working on their farms, and so on, although it was fairly well known to our inspectors, and to the Civic Guards, that they were being used illegally, although we could not prove it. That is why I brought in this Bill, to make it illegal to keep such stallions, whether the owners claimed that they were used only on their farms or not. The Deputy will see that the amendment would make the Bill useless.
If the Minister thinks that the insertion of the amendment would make it difficult to operate the Bill, I will not press it. Perhaps he could find some definition of the word "stallion" for insertion in the Bill.
It will be defined in the regulations.
I think we can accept that.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 1 and 2 agreed to.
This Act applies to every stallion which is for the time being of or over the prescribed age.
I move amendment 2:—
In line 26 after the word "stallion" to insert the words "if used or intended to be used for stud purposes within the calendar year."
I would have liked if this amendment came after the amendment in connection with Section 4. Certain stallions come under the definition of colts, but there is a distinction between a colt and a stallion. Horses that were raced, but never used as stallions, are defined as colts. Racing colts would come under the operation of the Bill unless there is an amendment excluding them, and it was partly with that intention I put down the amendment. I should have liked this amendment to come after the amendment on which the main argument on this Bill will arise. I am sure that the Minister intends to meet us, at least, helpfully in that regard, and if the Minister will allow me to postpone this amendment until the next stage of the Bill I think it would be the best course.
The Deputy can withdraw it and move it on Report Stage.
This Act applies to "every stallion which is for the time being of or over the prescribed age." There is the difficulty I see in connection with this Bill. I think the Minister said here on another stage of this Bill that he intended this Bill to deal with stallions which were more or less outside the control of his Department. That is what I take to be the real purpose of the Bill. The portion of the section I have read, as it stands, can apply to a two-year-old, and Deputy Norton will tell you that it is unreasonable to expect people who have two-year-old colts to be applying to the Minister's Department for permits to keep them. I think it is ridiculous to put such a thing as that into the Bill. The Minister may think that there is no trouble in applying for a permit, which will be granted, but at the same time he does not intend to use it, and why put it into legislation if that is so? According to the Minister's statement, the Bill is intended to get after stallions which have been refused permits. Could the Minister not put words into the Bill to achieve that, and leave colts intended solely for racing alone. I will admit that I cannot understand Section 3 of the Bill. I do not know what the phrase "of or over the prescribed age" means. I know that a stallion can be a stallion at two years of age, three years of age, 23 years of age, and any age. That is my difficulty. I should like the Minister to be a little more explicit in regard to the sections of the Bill.
I do not know what the Deputy wants——
Does the Deputy find it difficult to understand what is the age we have in mind?
Colts or stallions used for racing only are covered specially in Section 12, and if we do not account for every stallion in some way we cannot work the Bill, because if we go down to the country and say to a man "You will have to register that stallion or we will have to have him castrated," he might say that he was going to use him for racing, and we could not do anything to him. We cannot take his word that he is going to use him for racing. If they are going to use them for racing, however, they can get a permit and they will not be subject to any penalties.
You will give him a permit?
I think it is 5/-. They would lose more than that on the first race, anyway.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
With regard to amendment No. 3——
Might I suggest to Deputy Bennett that he should not move amendments 3 and 4 at this stage pending a consultation with the Minister, who has undertaken to accept in substance the idea of excluding thoroughbreds used for racing?
I should like to have the same course adopted in the case of this amendment as was adopted in the case of the previous amendment. We could move it, if necessary, on Report Stage, but it can be withdrawn for the present.
Amendment 3 not moved.
Section 3 agreed to.
(1) On and after the appointed day it shall not be lawful for any person to keep or have in his possession any stallion to which this Act applies unless—
(a) (i) he has made application in accordance with this Act for a licence authorising the holder thereof to keep and have in his possession such stallion, and
(ii) such application has been neither refused nor granted, or
(b) (i) he is the holder of a licence granted under this Act authorising the holder thereof to keep and have in his possession such stallion, and
(ii) he keeps or has in his possession such stallion in accordance with the terms of such licence, or
(c) (i) he is the holder of a permit granted under this Act authorising the holder thereof to keep and have in his possession such stallion, and
(ii) he keeps or has in his possession such stallion in accordance with the terms of such permit.
(2) Every person who keeps or has in his possession any stallion to which this Act implies in contravention of this section shall be guilty of an offence under this sub-section of this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding £5.
Amendment No. 4 in the names of Deputy The O'Mahony, Deputy Desmond and myself reads:—
At the end of sub-section (1) to add a new paragraph as follows—
(d) he has or keeps in his possession—
(i) a stallion which is entered in any prescribed stud-book and is used for the service of none but mares so entered, or
(ii) a thoroughbred stallion the stud fee for which is not less than £10, including groom's fee.
The first part of this amendment is taken largely from the old Act and, if accepted, would meet the difficulties everybody has in mind with regard to the exclusion of thoroughbred horses from the scope of the Bill. It would, I think, also meet the difficulty Deputy Norton has in mind. I do not think it would be possible for me to frame another amendment that would express my views more clearly, but if the Minister thinks that he can do so I am prepared to withdraw my amendment.
I am prepared, as I have said already, to accept the principle underlying the amendment but naturally, in such an important matter, I should not like to accept it without consulting the draftsman. The Deputy could put the amendment in on Report Stage and I hope to have an alternative down then also.
I quite accept the Minister's undertaking in that respect and I might say that we are all very much obliged to the Minister.
He sees the reasonableness of our argument.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
The next amendment is tabled as being an amendment to Section 5 but it really is an amendment to Section 4. It was put in for me after I had left and I might be allowed to correct it. The amendment is:—
In sub-section (1) (c), line 49, to delete the word "five" and substitute the word "two."
The amendment should apply to sub-section (2) of Section 4. My object was to reduce the fine and, perhaps, the Minister would accept the reduced fine that I suggest. I would appeal to the Minister to accept a smaller amount than the £5 set out in the Bill.
I did not consider this amendment at all as put forward by the Deputy now. I considered it as it appeared as an amendment to Section 5. It appears to me that to suggest a reduction of the maximum penalty is rather unreasonable because the Deputy is very well aware that maximum penalties are very seldom inflicted by district justices in cases like this. Such penalties would be inflicted only in cases in which there was gross disregard for the law. We might have cases in which there would be considerable difficulty in getting them brought to court at all and in which a considerable amount of evasion and contravention of the Act had taken place before the person was caught and where this had been done knowingly I think that the maximum penalty of £5 is not too severe. The Deputy knows that under the Livestock Breeding Act we bring cases before the court in respect of unlicensed bulls and the maximum penalty is very seldom inflicted. I do not think I have known of any case of a maximum penalty being inflicted since I became Minister for Agriculture. The maximum penalty does not seem to be excessive.
I do not intend to press this amendment very strongly. It appeared to some of us that a £5 penalty would be excessive but in view of the Minister's rather saving words that the penalty is not likely to be inflicted to its full extent, perhaps, the House would allow me to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 4 agreed to.
Sections 5 and 6 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
SECTION 7 (2).
(2) The Minister may cause any stallion in respect of which an application for a licence under this Act has been made to be inspected and examined by an inspector, and in that case it shall be the duty of the applicant to permit such stallion to be so inspected and examined.
I move amendment No. 6:—
In sub-section (2), line 50, after the word "inspector" to insert the words "who is a qualified veterinary surgeon or who is accompanied by a qualified veterinary surgeon."
The object of the amendment is to ensure that the person who examines a stallion shall be a qualified veterinary surgeon or shall be accompanied by a qualified veterinary surgeon. One does not know if it is the Minister's intention that the inspector is to be a man qualified as a vet. I have put down the amendment in order to get a declaration from him on that subject.
I think I mentioned before that in the inspection of stallions there are two aspects of the case taken into consideration. One is whether the animal is unsound. In a case where an animal is examined for a defect such as spavin, curb or so on, he would be examined at all times by a veterinary inspector, but for deformity or for appearance a lay inspector might suffice in some cases. The big majority of inspections will be carried out by the Department's inspectors but in certain cases lay inspectors are quite as good or even better than veterinary surgeons. We should be permitted in such cases to use lay inspectors. I am sure that no Deputy will say that veterinary surgeons have all the knowledge necessary to judge a horse and that Deputies will admit that a lay inspector is quite competent to say whether a horse is a good-looking horse or not.
I quite agree with the Minister that in regard to the examination of ordinary horses a lay inspector might be useful but there are other cases in which a veterinary surgeon would probably be needed. The arguments, however, which some of us are putting forward against this Bill will not be pressed as strongly as they otherwise might in view of the Minister's undertaking to exclude certain horses from the operation of the Bill. I for one recognise that the Minister in trying to improve the breeding of a certain class of horses is doing very much needed work, particularly in regard to horses subsidised either by the State or the local authorities. The Ministry has a perfect right to insist on a certain standard in the breeding of those horses. I do not think the House could object to that attitude of the Minister. The Minister having practically undertaken to exclude thoroughbred stallions from the operation of the Bill I do not think I can press the amendment. If the Minister exempts thoroughbred stallions from the Bill, as I think he intends, then a lot of our difficulties will have disappeared.
Do I take it from the Minister that stallions which are now registered and which for some years past——
Does the Deputy mean licensed?
There used to be a difference between registration and licensing.
Do I take it that where stallions are already registered it is the intention to re-examine them?
The Deputy knows that even under the powers we had before this Bill was introduced, we could send down an inspector and have a stallion examined and withdraw the licence if necessary. The same will apply in future. If there was a report that the stallion had deteriorated, a veterinary surgeon was sent down and if he found that that was so, the licence was withdrawn.
There has been in the past a distinction between registered and licensed stallions.
Yes, registered stallions were picked.
I am just asking whether these stallions will have to be examined again or if it is the duty of the inspectors to look after them under this Bill.
I am sure the Deputy if he is a member of a public body knows all about the system of registration.
He should know that stallions are registered for the service of nominated mares. Of course, we are not touching registration at all in this Bill. That scheme remains as it is.
That is just what I wanted to know.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question proposed: "That Section 7 stand part of the Bill."
This section deals with the conditions surrounding the grant of a licence, and it strikes me that some people might be very seriously affected if they do not get a licence. The main object of the Bill is to improve the horse-breeding industry of the country. I should like to ask the Minister if before the Report Stage he will give further consideration to the possibility of allowing a veterinary surgeon to accompany the inspector. I know that would give a great deal of satisfaction to those who are interested in the horse-breeding industry, and the Minister would be taking a very wise step if he gave further consideration to that suggestion.
Perhaps I did not make myself quite clear. No stallion can be rejected, of course, for unsoundness or deformity, unless he has been seen by a veterinary surgeon.
Are there not horses standing at stud in Ireland that are not passed by the Department's inspectors?
There are some thoroughbreds.
I mean, are horses registered under the Department all examined by a veterinary surgeon?
Question put and agreed to.
Sections 8, 9, 10 and 11 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Question proposed: "That Section 12 stand part of the Bill."
I think this is the section that Deputy Curran had in his mind when talking about two year old stallions. I think again that the amendment which the Minister promised to make will remove the Deputy's difficulties. If we eliminate the two year old thorougbred colt from the operations of the Bill, as I hope we shall, eventually, I think the number of two year old colts outside that class will be very small.
If the Minister agrees to that I shall be satisfied.
The amendment I would bring in would only refer to thoroughbred stallions in a recognised stud book used for the service of mares registered in a recognised stud book also.
That is practically the purport of the amendment. That would exclude a horse that is racing. He would not be a thoroughbred stallion. He would be a racing colt. I should like to see an amendment, if the other did not cover it, to exempt thoroughbred stallions in recognised stud books. That would obviously exempt a two year old colt. It appears to me that it would obviously exempt him, and that any amendment to exempt him would be superfluous. If the Minister accepts the purport of the amendment excluding from the Bill horses in recognised stud books used for mating mares who are also recognised by these stud books, a two year old racing colt would be exempt.
He is not a stallion. He is not used for stud purposes.
There is no definition of "stallion" in this Bill. I do not think that even lawyers can argue a distinction between a colt and a stallion legally. If we had a legal debate on that term I think that no lawyer, and certainly no layman, would be able to argue a distinction between a colt and a stallion. If we exempt stallions, we obviously exempt two year old colts.
The expression "stallion" is used in a technical sense as meaning a horse that is used for serving mares. A two year old colt used for racing would not come within that definition in the eyes of the ordinary layman, or in the eyes of an official going round to inspect.
A two year old or three year old stallion is always described in the stud book as a colt or gelding.
The whole trouble is that we think it is ridiculous to have two year old or three year old or even four year old racehorses, who are in the strict sense stallions, coming within the scope of the Bill. Although in the strict sense they might be classed as stallions, they are not really stallions until they are put to the stud. We want to keep racing colts out of this Bill altogether, and not to have their owners or anybody else put to the trouble of seeking a permit to keep them.
It was with a view to getting an opinion expressed on the matter that the amendment standing in the name of Deputy The O'Mahony and myself, which has been withdrawn, was put down. That amendment asked that recognised racing horses should be exempt. That amendment was withdrawn on the understanding that, if necessary, it would be put down again on the Report Stage after we had discussed the later amendment which the Minister proposes to accept, and which we thought would possibly include these particular horses. If anybody thinks that this section can be held to include these others and would like to argue the question on its merits, it is open to him now to put forward his argument. Personally, I was under the impression that the amendment accepted by the Minister would include these other classes. If the Minister says that it does not include two year olds that are racing, I for one must oppose this section. It would be altogether antagonistic to the views of the great bulk of thoroughbred breeders in this country if there was going to be any interference with colts used only for racing purposes. It would interfere so much with racing that racing people would not know where they stood. It would also create great difficulty for the Minister and his Department. There is no great fear of any interference with the Minister's policy as regards the use of two year old racing colts as stallions. The people concerned are an honourable body of men and they are not likely to use these horses as stallions. In any event, a horse in training is not fit to be used as a stallion. I am sure the Minister is aware that a colt in training is never used as a stallion. Before it could be used as a stallion it would have to be taken out of training and undergo a course of soft feeding. I hope that the Minister, on consideration, will agree that two-year-old and three-year-old colts, until they are no longer used for racing, will be excluded from the Bill. I think if the Minister accepted the word "stallion" it ought to cover the whole thing. Deputy Rice seems to think that there is a difference between a colt and a stallion, but if we say that an animal is a colt as long as he is racing and is only a stallion when used for stud purposes, it would meet the case.
It would appear that we would want to be a little more clear as to the terminology. Uncastrated horses are always referred to as entire horses.
I am referring to the dictionary definition. I do not know what terms are used on the racecourse. Horses that are used for stud purposes are called stallions, and only when used for stud purposes. The word "colt" is not a dictionary word at all—it is a slang word—and we shall have to rule that out. We cannot recognise it in law. The amendment I said we might adopt was for thoroughbred stallions in the stud book used for mares in the stud book only. We had in mind, of course, horses that are retired from the racecourse, not young horses, two-year olds or three-year olds. Deputy Bennett says that he would have to oppose the section if that is the meaning I want to give the amendment.
I want to point out to him that if this section is knocked out then every stallion, whether a two-year old racing horse, or whatever it is, will have to be licensed rather than get a permit. This section at least is going part of the way to meet the owners of racing horses, whether you call them colts or stallions.
You still insist by the section on getting a permit. That is what we object to.
They must get a permit under the Bill. I put the objection to the Deputy already that if we do not do something about these horses we will have to put in some form of exemption in the Bill, and whatever way we word it I am afraid it will be very difficult to administer the Bill. If we say that horses used for racing are exempt from the Bill, we may come across a certain stallion and the owner may say that we cannot touch it, because it is a racer. If we apply Deputy Bennett's test and say if he is on soft feeding, we may find it very hard to prove it. The only way we can administer the Bill is to get every entire horse in the country into one class or the other. As soon as we bring in the amendment spoken of, we shall have three classes. We shall have the horses that are racing only, coming under Section 12, and give them a permit. We shall have horses that are in a stud book used for stud purposes for the service of mares also in the stud book. The third class will be the big class of stallions we are legislating for. We shall have to get these horses into some class or other before we can deal with them. If Deputies think it unfair to deal with these racing horses, we shall have to bring in some clause exempting them. The difficulty will be to get words which will exempt them and no others.
If such a form of words is brought in, will you accept it? You do not want to bring these horses within the scope of the Bill?
I am not particular about them.
Why not introduce some form of words which will keep them outside the Bill. I think that that is possible. The Minister will agree that it is troublesome and ridiculous to have various trainers who have two-year-old colts looking to his Department for a permit. The Minister does not want to do that. Why not, then, put a clause in the Bill exempting them. There is no use in legislating if you do not desire to enforce the legislation. It is not beyond the power of the Minister, or any Party in the Dáil, to introduce a form of words which will meet the case. There is no necessity for bringing two or three-year-olds, used solely for racing, within the scope of the Bill.
It seems to me that the question of real importance is when the stallion is used for stud purposes. So far as I can gather, the Minister is agreeable that any stallion that appears in the stud book and is going to be used for serving mares in the stud book, will be exempt from the Bill. Now, we come down to the question of colts racing, that are in the stud book and that may some day be used for the purpose of serving mares in the stud book. The real point which we should stick to is the time when they will be used for that purpose. Until they are used for that purpose, I cannot see any use in having a licence for them. The moment they are put to the stud, if they are to be used for mares that are not in the stud book, then they must have a permit. For the purpose of this Bill, the Minister could omit thoroughbred colts until such time as they go to the stud. If they go to mares in the stud book, they are exempt.
There should be no difficulty as regards the half-bred mares. An amendment on the lines of that which we withdrew, and which may be considered on Report Stage again, might meet the case. That amendment would exclude thoroughbred horses in recognised racing stables and under the charge of a trainer, holding a licence to train under Irish Turf Club rules. An amendment on those lines might meet the point. I do hope that we shall find some way of excluding young racing horses from the operations of the Bill. As it is the clause would be vexatious and create difficulties not only for the people concerned but for the Department.
There is no difficulty between us on this matter. We want to get the best we can out of the Bill. The difficulty is how to exempt those horses. If we come down on an owner and say that he has a horse for which he should have a licence, he can reply, "I am using it for racing only." We want to be satisfied about that and we should, at least, have to give him some form to fill up in order to secure the exemption. I think it would be just as easy for him to fill up the form to get a permit. There is 5/- charged for the permit. I should not mind if that were reduced to 2/6. I think that the permit system is the better one. If Deputies are not satisfied, I shall consider the matter.
I appeal to the Minister to leave out the two and three-year-olds used solely for racing. There is scarcely any horse in the United Kingdom used for racing and stud purposes at the same time.
They might say that they were using them for racing or that they were going to use them for racing.
They might claim that they would win the Derby but the Minister would not believe them.
The Minister should leave out altogether the horses or colts which he does not desire to include in the Bill. We shall give him every facility in the case of horses which the Department have not seen fit to register or license. I think the Minister is himself satisfied that we should not bring within the scope of the Bill two or three-year-olds used for racing. We may have to be getting permits for yearlings and does not the Minister think that that is an impossible task? The Minister may think that it is no trouble to fill up a form but there are a great many people—I am one of them myself—who do not like writing letters and it is very vexatious to them to be called upon to fill up these forms.
I think that the Minister might consider the matter before the Report Stage and bring in an amendment to meet the point. We shall leave it to the Minister to determine the wording. If the Minister will give an assurance that he will consider the matter before Report Stage, we shall accept it.
I shall consider the matter but it is difficult to meet the point.
Section agreed to.
(1) Save in the manner and to the extent authorised by this section, licences and permits granted under this Act shall not be transferable.
(2) Where the right to the possession of a stallion in respect of which a licence or permit granted under this Act is in force passes from the holder of such licence or permit to another person (in this section called the transferee) either by a transfer or devolution of the property in the stallion or by a loan, hire, or lease of the stallion for a period exceeding six months, or by the cesser or surrender of any such loan, hiring, or lease, the following provisions shall have effect, that is to say:—
(a) the Minister may, on the application of the transferee and on notice to the holder of such licence or permit or his personal representative and on compliance with the prescribed conditions, transfer such licence or permit in the prescribed manner to the transferee.
The following amendments are in my name:—
In sub-section (1), line 35, to delete the word "save" and in line 37, to delete the word "not."
In sub-section (2) (a), line 46, to delete the word "may" and substitute the word "shall."
These amendments deal with the transfer of licences. We feel that the Minister ought to make certain that if a person holds a licence for a stallion he should have the right, on selling the stallion, to transfer the licence. The point is partly met in the Bill as it stands. It is provided there that the Minister "may" allow the licence to be transferred. We should like to see the provision more definite and I propose to substitute "may" by "shall." It was pointed out to me that, on effecting this change, it would be necessary to delete the words "save" and "not" as proposed by amendment 7.
These amendments would make it very difficult to deal with certain districts because under Section 6 (4) Deputies will see that we can limit the operations of a stallion to a particular area. The reason we have done that is that in a poor area, where service fees are not very big and where the number of mares is not very large, we might find it impossible to get a horse which we would regard as of good standard. We might be compelled to allow a more inferior horse to be licensed in that area. If these amendments were accepted a person could get a horse licensed in an area and immediately have him transferred to a place where we would not ordinarily permit such a horse. The effect of the amendments would be that we would have to keep to a very high standard. We could not afford a low standard because if we lowered the standard in any district it would leave the road open to the possibility of an inferior horse being licensed and put into a district into which he would not otherwise be permitted to go. I do not think there is anything to be gained by the amendments. In genuine cases there never was any difficulty about transferring stallions. There would not be any difficulty, under this Bill, if the stallion were up to the proper standard for the particular area.
Apparently it is not the intention to refuse licences in connection with stallions. The idea is to prevent a horse that might not be suitable for a district being transferred to that district.
The horse might be licensed in one area and then sent to another area for which he might not be suitable. For instance, in the West they might license a horse but that animal would not be suitable for Limerick or Tipperary.
Different types of horses are suitable for different parts of the country and of course it would be unreasonable to have an undesirable stallion sent into a particular district. I do not believe that that would work out in practice. For instance, there would not be a demand for a Connemara pony in County Limerick. Of course there is a difficulty in the situation and I think we will have to be satisfied with the Minister's assurance.
Amendment 7, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment 8 not moved.
Sections 13 to 15 inclusive agreed to.
With regard to Section 16, it strikes me that it gives very wide scope. It sets out that an inspector, or any member of the Gárda Síochána, may inspect at all reasonable times any stallion to which the Act applies. Of course, that section can be interpreted in many ways. I suppose we can take it that the procedure under this section will be the same as was adopted in a recent Bill, and the owner of a stallion will get reasonable notice from the Department of the intended inspection. Under this Bill it would seem that an inspector may come down any time he likes to see a horse. I think such powers should not be given to the inspector or the Gárda Síochána. There ought to be some reasonable notification. "At all times" is very wide.
It is the same as the procedure under the Live-stock Breeding Act. Where it is suspected there is an unlicenced stallion, we may have to send down an inspector. At all reasonable times means during working hours. It does not mean calling a man out of his bed.
If we were to be obliged to write to the man to say an inspector was calling, naturally he would not be there.
The same applies to the Guards. They must be allowed to see if the owner of the stallion is offending against the Act by not having the animal licenced. The same applies under the Live-stock Breeding Act if there is a suspicion that a bull is not licenced.
The powers in this section are certainly very wide.
But they will use them discreetly.
Section 16 agreed to.
(1) Where the Minister refuses an application for a licence or a permit under this Act or revokes or suspends a licence or permit granted under this Act, or is of opinion that a stallion to which this Act applies is not suitable for breeding purposes or where an application for a licence or permit under this Act is not made within the prescribed time the Minister may serve on the owner, reputed owner, or other person keeping or having possession of the stallion the subject of such application, licence, permit, or opinion a notice in the prescribed form requiring such person within the time (not being less than fourteen days) specified in such notice to have such stallion castrated.
I beg to move:—
In sub-section (1), line 17, to delete all words after the word "purposes" to and including the word "time," line 18.
This section gives the Minister power to order certain stallions under certain circumstances to be gelded. The amendment aims at exempting that particular portion of the section. To demand such a penalty from a man because of some slight mistake, possibly through absence or for some other reason, is not fair. If a man fails to license his stallion in the prescribed time he is, under the terms of the section, subject to a very severe penalty. It might happen that a man might be unable to license the stallion in the prescribed time and, just because he may not be able to comply with the law on a particular date, he is to be made subject to the penalty of having his stallion gelded. I think that is a hardship, and in the circumstances the Minister ought to accept the amendment. So far as the rest of the section is concerned the Minister should certainly have all the powers for which he asks.
Deputies will see that there are many safeguards before this section can be operated. The applicant has up to 31st December to make an application for a licence. If he fails to apply before then he will have a further period by paying a late fee. The Department, knowing there is a stallion there which is unlicensed, may decide to prosecute. Probably that is what we would do in most cases. There may be cases where owners will not give satisfaction, will not apply for a licence or reply to communications. If such people ignore our communications and advice we have to take definite action. We find in such cases that nothing will bring them to their senses except a notice to have the stallion castrated. Then we cannot do it. The owner can appeal. If he appeals against the castration in this way we must let the appeal go. Under Section 19 of the Bill his appeal will be heard, so that he has very many safeguards. I do not think there is any danger whatsoever that the owner of the horse is going to be taken unawares, and have his stallion castrated without his getting due notice, and in fact many notices, before action is taken.
Take the case of a stallion without any owner, an animal wandering about the country. If the Gárda Síochána happen to drop on that horse and find difficulty in ascertaining who the owner is, as very often may be the case and very often is the case, what will the Department do?
Does the Minister not think that the difference between the fee and the late fee is excessive? A man may, through inadvertence, fail to apply within the proper time. The difference between the fee and the late fee is excessive.
The Minister will, I know, have a difficulty in dealing with certain cases, the same as he had in the case of the Live-stock Breeding Act. There was difficulty there in dealing with some people. But this is a very wide section where the Minister may order the castration of certain stallions. If the stallion is of the kind described in the section, the Minister should have these powers where the animal is infected with certain disease or defects, where the animal would be unsuitable for breeding purposes, or where the animal would be likely to beget unsuitable progeny. In all these cases I agree the Minister should have power to deal with the owner. The case however, is very different where it is only a question of the owner not making application for a licence or permit within the prescribed time. Such an owner is not guilty of using an improper horse. It may merely be a case where there was a pure inadvertence, or the lapse may have been caused by circumstances beyond the owner's control. The man might be having a holiday in Switzerland.
A farmer taking a holiday in Switzerland!
The position is this, that within a period of 14 days the Minister may order a horse to be castrated. I submit the period is too short. The period might not be too short in some cases. There may be some cases which the Minister has in mind where the owner might be defying the Minister and his Department. The period in such a case would not be too short, but I think the provision in the cases I have indicated is entirely too severe, and I do not think it should be in the Bill.
First of all the Minister must give time, the time being not less than 14 days' notice. One Deputy mentioned the case of the wandering stallion, and another Deputy mentioned that the owner might be in Switzerland. Deputies may take it for granted that the Minister is not going out of his way looking for stallions to castrate. He is only going to enforce this section where it is absolutely necessary. Deputy Rice raised a point about the late fee. The late fee is put down as being not more than five guineas. It may be less; it will be prescribed. We cannot say to one man: "You will have to pay five guineas," when another man may have to pay three guineas. The maximum is five guineas. I do not know at the moment whether that would be the figure that we will prescribe.
An Ceann Comharle
Is the amendment being withdrawn?
If the Minister could meet us some way in regard to it, I would be willing to withdraw it. I still think, notwithstanding what the Minister said, that the application of this particular section is rather drastic applied to a trivial offence. I think it might be possible that we could arrive at some method by which this difficulty might be got over. It might be incorporated in the question of fines. To submit to the full penalty of this clause for the offence in the first part of the section is too much. I think the very drastic remedy of castrating the stallion was meant for cases where the permit or licence was refused or revoked. I think that particular penalty was meant for such cases. I am of opinion that the inclusion of this particular penalty for this particular offence was not originally the intention of the Minister. I do not think he originally intended to subject people, who failed to make application at the proper time, to the same penalties as for that class of owner already referred to—people who have horses that are not suitable for breeding purposes. I do not think the Minister will, himself, say that it was his intention to subject a man, who, because of some reason or other, has committed a trivial technical offence, to the penalty of having his horse castrated. I think the Minister could legitimately accept the amendment. I do not want to press the point any further or to labour the matter. If the Minister refuses to accept this amendment, perhaps he could bring in an amendment of his own on the Report Stage so that the penalty of castration would not be inflicted for this trivial offence. To inflict such a penalty appears to be obviously unreasonable.
I suggest to the Minister to delete these words in the form in which they stand and to introduce some words inflicting a fine for non-compliance. It is too drastic a penalty to inflict on a man, because of forgetfulness or something or other like that. Such a penalty should only be inflicted where the particular animal is not suitable for breeding purposes.
It appears to me that the real intention of the Minister was to impose this penalty in the case of a man who was keeping a stallion that was unfit for breeding purposes against the wishes of the Department and against the wishes of this House. In such cases only should the penalty of castration be applied. It should not be applied to people who, through neglect, fail to register at the right time. It should not be beyond the powers of the draftsman to remedy that at the next stage. This is quite different from a case where the owner of a stallion is deliberately defying the Department and keeping an unfit horse for stud purposes.
The difficulty is that some owners will go on committing these offences, and if they are convicted and fined they do not mind the fines; very often you cannot collect the fines. In the case of a wandering stallion, who is to collect the fines?
Such a stallion can be put into pound.
The pound may be full of such horses.
No doubt it will be if Fianna Fáil is in power much longer.
Deputies know that this power will not be used except in extreme cases, but it is necessary to have the power.
I do not mind giving the Minister the power in extreme cases. He says it will not be used except in extreme cases, but that is the reason why I am against this particular section. We think that these two lines should be deleted. You cannot call this an extreme case at all. I have no objection to the Minister using it in extreme cases. By the wildest exaggeration I could not describe as extreme a case where a man failed inadvertently to give notice —cases where the man did not willingly commit the offence mentioned in the Bill. The man may fail for reasons beyond his power to apply for the licence within the prescribed time. I am strongly objecting to the extreme penalty in these cases. The Minister has not dealt with the argument as to why a man, who may commit a trivial offence, should be subjected to this grave penalty. The only protection given to such a man is the 14 days' notice. That is a very small period to give a man to comply.
Is the Deputy withdrawing these amendments?
On that, we have been a very happy family up to the present, and I think the Minister should try and meet us on these amendments. I must congratulate him on the way in which he has discussed the Bill. I do not want to divide the House on these amendments, but I think the Minister should postpone the further consideration of this section to the Report Stage with a view to meeting the objections we have made to it.
There should be some way of protecting the man who, because of some mistake or neglect, fails to fulfil his obligations within the prescribed period.
The strong objection that I have to the wording of this section is that the real castigation for the crime is put on the unfortunate stallion and not on the owner. I want to see it put on the owner and not on the stallion.
I do not think the Minister can resist that plea.
I cannot promise that these amendments will get any further consideration from me.
Amendments, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 17 to 26, inclusive, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Report Stage ordered for Wednesday, 29th November.
I wish to make a few remarks on this Bill.
The Report Stage of the Bill has been fixed for Wednesday next, when the Deputy will have ample opportunity of making any remarks he desires to.
I just wish to make a few suggestions to the Minister before the Report Stage of the Bill is taken. The first point I want to make is, and it is an important one, because of the agricultural policy of the present Government, that there is a great scarcity of agricultural horses in the country. To the farmer, who wants to have his land ploughed, thoroughbred horses are absolutely useless. At the present time we have some horses engaged on tillage work, and they are scarcely able to drag their tails after them. I hope that on the Report Stage the Minister will be able to introduce an amendment that will have the effect of improving the type of agricultural horses we have. If he succeeds in doing that he will be conferring a great benefit on the agricultural community.