I asked the Minister on the other Bill for an explanation in connection with these travelling creameries.
In Committee on Finance. - Creamery (Amendment) Bill, 1934—Committee Stage.
Travelling creameries have been tried to some extent in County Kerry. They are not all that has been written about them in the newspapers, but they should prove useful from one point of view; that is, to try out a district in which we are not sure of a supply. The Minister who acted for me on the Second Reading of this Bill explained that very fully. He explained that we very often get a request—almost a demand—from a district for the starting of a creamery. They tell us that there will be no difficulty in securing a supply of 3,000 or 4,000 gallons of milk. We find, on investigation, that that is a very optimistic estimate. Eventually, perhaps, a creamery is built at a cost of £1,300 or £1,400. Then we find that the milk supply, instead of being 3,000 or 4,000 gallons, is considerably below that figure and the creamery is a failure. In the other case, the travelling creamery goes to a district and tests it out for a whole season. If it is not a success, the travelling creamery can be moved to some other place for another season. As a permanent institution in a successful district, the travelling creamery would not pay as well as a fixed creamery, but it would have a certain advantage. It might cover a district of 15 miles by five miles.
Somebody asked, on Second Reading, if the creamery would go into everybody's yard. It will not do that. It will stop at certain points—say, at cross roads—and take the milk of a certain number of farmers at each stop. It would do a rather long stretch of country—say 15 miles long by 5 miles —by making three or four stops. It has, in this way, an advantage over the fixed creamery, which could only cover a five-mile radius, at the outside. As Deputy Curran knows, a five-mile radius is rather big. A three and a half mile radius would be more satisfactory. A travelling creamery would deal with practically the same amount of milk as the fixed creamery by taking about 400 gallons at each stop. That is, as regards capacity. The expense of managing it would not be very much different. When you have an auxiliary manager in the fixed creamery, you would have the same type of man in charge of the separating part of the travelling creamery. An auxiliary manager, with the help, perhaps, of a boy, might suffice in a fixed creamery, but, in the case of the travelling creamery, you must have a skilled lorry driver. In that way wages might be a bit higher in the case of the travelling creamery.
What would be the cost of production?
I have not worked out that fully, but I am giving some of the differences of cost. The cost of equipment would be cheaper in the case of the travelling creamery. The lorry would cost about £250. The separator, crude oil engine, and so forth, would cost about £400. You must, of course, make some provision for water supply at the stops. The total cost would be about £760. In the other case, building would cost about £350, crude oil engine and separator, £550, and water supply £100. The total cost might come to £1,000. The capital cost in the case of the fixed creamery would, therefore, be about £1,000, and, in the case of the travelling creamery, about £700.
What about depreciation?
As regards depreciation, the position is altogether different. In the case of the fixed creamery, depreciation would be at the rate of about 5 per cent. on the building—say £17 10s. In the case of the lorry, depreciation would amount to about 25 per cent. Depreciation in respect of plant would be about 20 per cent. Depreciation would be much higher in the case of a travelling creamery than in the case of a fixed creamery.
How many of these creameries have been working?
We have only one working but we hope to get two going this season on Dingle Peninsula. I do not know whether we will succeed or not. From the figures I have given, any Deputy can make out a rough estimate of the merits of the two creameries. The figures I have given are only estimates. So far, the creamery has been tried only from the point of view of efficiency. It is quite efficient in the separating of the milk. We have not been viewing the thing at all from the point of view of costings. It would take two or three years' working before we would know what the cost would be but we are of opinion that depreciation would be heavy. We know what depreciation in the case of a lorry would be. We estimate that depreciation of separating machinery would be much heavier in the case of a travelling creamery than it would be in the case of a fixed creamery. That, however, is only an estimate. The conclusion to be drawn is, I think, that, if there is a sufficient supply of milk, the fixed creamery is much more economic than the travelling creamery. But on the other hand, for the purpose of trying out the idea a travelling creamery would be very useful and should get a trial from that point of view.
In view of the extra cost of the travelling creamery—the extra cost of manufacture—would it be fair to draw that conclusion? What I mean by that is that where you have a fixed creamery the cost of production would be somewhat lower. The experiment might succeed there while it might fail in the case of the travelling creamery. I understand that the average supply for a creamery is round about 5,000 gallons of milk a day.
You would not want that for an auxiliary creamery.
No. But still the principal thing in the case of a creamery is a good milk supply. I had been putting the point to the Minister for Finance, in the absence of the Minister for Agriculture, that the travelling creamery would cost more, and I wanted to know whether the Government would bear a share of the cost of the production because the Minister had pointed out that they could not produce an article as cheaply as the ordinary creamery. I said that for that reason it would not be fair to draw a comparison between the two.
The only thing to be taken into account is the supply. If we get 1,500 gallons inside a four-mile radius we will certainly come to the conclusion that an auxiliary creamery would be justified. It would not matter what the cost of the travelling creamery was at all. It would not enter into it.
I wonder whether the experiment is worth the expense unless there is some use afterwards for the travelling creamery in counties like Kerry. On the question of cost there is only a difference of about £400 at the outside between the travelling creamery and the auxiliary. Unless the Minister is able to find use afterwards for the travelling creamery I do not know if the game is worth the cost. I wonder how long the try out of an area is to go on before a creamery will be built, because I have particulars of an area in mind in respect of which returns were furnished to the Minister's Department close on two years ago. That area has not yet been supplied with an auxiliary creamery. It seems to take that particular branch of the Department as long to move as it would take to settle the whole Irish question. I do not know exactly what is wrong with them, but they seem to have gone into the ways of an old fogey.
And you have not been able to shift them. That is surprising.
We will try and shift them. If they do not do something we will move them out. That particular area has been already tried out. Returns have been obtained and these were handed into the Department 12 months ago. The people of the district have this difficulty to contend with: that those in the neighbouring creamery areas are getting the benefit of the butter bounty, while they have still to depend on the old separator system. They are not getting the advantages of the bounty that is being paid to their more fortunate neighbours. I would suggest to the Minister that, instead of going ahead with this experiment, to find out where he will put creameries, he should put up creameries in the areas that have already been tried out, and let the experiments wait. In this particular area that I speak of, he need not carry out an experiment at all. The area is there, the cows are there, and I see no reason for further delay in putting up a creamery. The returns in connection with it were sent in nearly two years ago, and it is about time that something was done. The cows have already been guaranteed, and the milk supply is available. The thing has been in hands long enough God knows, and it is about time that the Department came to a decision on it.
Is the idea of the travelling creamery not something in the nature of prospecting in an area? I think the Minister should give us an idea of what he considers would be a successful experiment. It strikes me that if you start to prospect in this way in an area that people are not going to go whole-heartedly into it or put up the required number of cows if they are faced with the danger mentioned by Deputy Corry that they may have to wait a long time from the date of the withdrawal of the travelling creamery until they get a fixed creamery, or the danger that, in the opinion of the creamery authorities, it would not be a business proposition to put up a fixed creamery in their district. I would like to have some more information from the Minister. I am sure the Minister is not going to send a travelling creamery into an area unless he gets an invitation by way of a petition from the farmers living there. I imagine that he would require some inducement of that sort. This is a very difficult matter. I am afraid that in the case of a travelling creamery farmers may have fears of one kind or another and may not go to the expense of buying a lot of cows. The position in the case of a fixed creamery is quite different, because, of course, it would not be erected unless a district had been tried out and it could not be taken away on wheels like the travelling creamery.
I take it that the travelling creamery is really a separating plant.
In that case I think the Minister is rather under-estimating what that plant would cost. There are a number of things that will have to be taken into consideration. The question of a water supply is one. I have had some little experience of creamery work. In my part of the country we find that it is much more satisfactory to bring in the milk by lorry from a district rather than to put up a separating station there: that is if the district is within reasonable reach. The Minister talked of an area 15 miles by five. For a long time I have thought, in connection with the creamery movement, that it has been a great mistake to have too many separating stations erected. It would have been better. I think, to have concentrated on a more substantial plant at one point and bring the milk to it from the surrounding areas. A creamery across the Border that was taking a good deal of milk had to cease doing so because it could not get the bounty on the other side. We have put a lorry on and we are taking the supply that formerly went to that creamery. We find that the arrangement is working very well. We have put in another separating plant. That has helped to reduce our overhead charges, because we are able to work a larger supply of milk and butter. All the work is being done by the one plant. That enables us to have proper control. I agree that if there are districts too remote from an existing creamery this new arrangement may work well.
I think if it is at all possible that the milk could be brought by lorry or cart we should go slow about those travelling creameries. Where does the State come in? What contribution is it making towards this? In one district the people may get together and put up a co-operative creamery without any aid. They have had to do it. We have had to do it. One would like to know just what help the Minister contemplates giving.
The success of the experiments would depend altogether, I think, on the supply. If there is, within a certain radius which would normally supply a fixed creamery, sufficient to run that fixed creamery, then we take the experiment to be successful, and we authorise the building of a creamery. That brings us to the question asked by Deputy Haslett. Do not assume that the Government is going to do all this at all. When this Bill is passed it will be quite possible for any creamery to ask for a licence to operate a travelling creamery in some outlying district. Any co-operative creamery might get a licence to run a travelling creamery, and having proved the experiment to be successful they might build a fixed creamery, or otherwise they might say: "No; it is not going to be a success" and the thing would be dropped. It is only in a case where the Dairy Disposals Board are working that the Government would come into it through the Dairy Disposals Board. The Dairy Disposals Board may do experiments of this kind. They are, as a matter of fact, doing it in Dingle, but that is, of course, their territory. It is the territory of the Dairy Disposals Board, and it is their business to work that territory. If it were territory which should properly be covered by the existing co-operative society the Dairy Disposals Board would not come in. They would let the co-operative creamery deal with the district if they wished. There will not be any money lost on the experiment. Deputy Corry speaks about a loss, and asks if it is worth while. There need not be any loss. Even if this thing goes on for 12 months a lorry is a lorry afterwards. It is a year older, of course, but it is a lorry anyway. The separating machinery can be used in the fixed creamery the same as on the lorry. Even the stands can be used as platforms if we cannot make any better use of them. Deputy Corry speaks about his own particular area. What I have said refers to that, that is, that if there is a co-operative creamery there which is anxious to make the experiment it can get a travelling creamery. It is a matter for consideration, but I think they would get a licence to test out that area.
He says you have the number of cows and everything.
We have the number of cows, but when we build a creamery the number of cows are not there at all. That is not a good test. The test is whether they will bring their milk to the creamery or not, and how much milk they will bring. It is the only test that is any use. In East Cork we have encouraged co-operative creameries to expand. We have given all the encouragement we could to one particular creamery. We helped them to get a loan, to expand, and build auxiliaries. In regard to another one, we asked them to expand, and said we would give them all the help we could. Those co-operative creameries ought to expand, and they are not very quick about moving. I think they are really the fossils and not the Department of Agriculture. It is those co-operative creameries in East Cork that are not making a move. We should only be too delighted if they did make a move. If they definitely refuse to move—they have not done so yet—it might then be a question for us to consider whether or not we would do anything. We have not reached that stage yet.
Sub-section (3) says that the Minister may at any time at his absolute discretion revoke a licence granted under this section. Is such drastic power necessary? I do not accept the Minister's statement that if a licence were revoked there would not be a loss. There is bound to be a loss. Even if the lorry is still there, one must allow for depreciation. The same applies to machinery. If it is an experiment, I take it it is an experiment in the broad sense; having succeeded in one or two districts, it may go into another. That particular sub-section would, to my mind, damage the prospect of intensifying this type of experiment. I take it that the experiment is in the nature of seeing whether there is ground for a creamery being established in that district. Has the Minister any views on the travelling creamery succeeding on its own and just maintaining itself? The expenses are so heavy that it is not likely. Whether it is an experiment in the sense of waiting to see if there is a supply of milk for the establishment of a creamery, or whether it is to remain there for a while to allow for some returns to be made on the money, that power to revoke a licence at the Minister's absolute discretion is a very drastic one. Perhaps the Minister would consider that point on the Report Stage.
I will look into the matter.
I should like to go further into the particular point I raised a while ago. Up to the present at least three inspectors from the Dairy Disposals Board have visited that district and made reports to the Minister. I know that the lists of cows have been supplied to the Department on at least four separate occasions. The number of cows is 3,500. If the Minister has any doubt as to the supply of milk he can go down to Mogeely any day. The creamery there starts separating at 7 o'clock in the morning and finishes at 4.30 that evening. The same applies to the Glenville creamery, which is another auxiliary creamery. They are at present trying to manage the work of at least five extra creameries owing to the delay in getting along into steam. There is no use in talking of co-operative creameries in that particular area, and the Minister knows that.
The Minister knows that. Why? Because they have no cash. They were a barley growing district and you drove them out before you left.
I thought all the farmers in your district were very well off.
They are now, thank God. Since they got rid of you they are getting on, but, at the same time, they are not able to cope with this yet. After all, I think it is definitely up to the Minister's Department to make some move in this matter now. The returns have been sent in repeatedly, and if the Minister has any doubt about the matter he can send his inspectors to Mogeely and Glenville. I should be pleased to meet them any day, and let them see the quantity of milk that is going in there. At present fourteen lorries are drawing milk to one auxiliary creamery. The thing is completely uneconomic at present.
I did not intend to intervene in this debate, but I gathered from the speeches made that some Deputies are inclined to be sceptical about this travelling creamery question. I should like to mention just a few points. It has certainly been looked forward to by the people in the mountainous areas of Kerry as a way out of their difficulties. It has also served as an experiment in a particular area. I believe the travelling creamery has come to stay, and that it will pay for itself in this way, that while you have auxiliaries or central creameries in a county, the travelling creameries will act as feeders, and as a means of linking up isolated districts. The travelling creamery has been tested in North Kerry, where the maximum capacity was up to 700 gallons per hour. That appears to be a very fair return when compared with the supply to large creameries. The travelling creamery will be a great boon to people in congested and mountainous areas and should pay for itself.
Deputies who asked why these creameries were introduced have no conception at all of the great benefit they will be to counties like Kerry. On behalf of the people in South and West Kerry I wish to congratulate the Minister on bringing the question to this stage. We have seen the matter tested in North Kerry, and we know it is going to be a success. When the people in other counties realise that there will be a demand for an extension to other areas.
This section says:—
(1) It shall not be lawful for any person to tender or supply any milk or cream to any creamery which has been established or is being maintained in contravention of Section 13 of the Principal Act, and every per son who tenders or supplies any milk or cream in contravention of this sub-section shall be guilty of an offence under this sub-section.
On the last occasion this Bill was before the House I asked the Minister who was then in charge of it to say how many creameries he wanted to bring under his wing, which would be affected by the levy, because I believe that is the principal reason for its introduction. I was led to believe that there were creameries from which the Minister would not be able to collar the levy of 3½d. per pound. I also wanted to know the supply to these creameries. As I was not able to get the information then I would like to have it before this section is passed. The levy has had serious reactions on creameries with which I am concerned. In May we got a demand for £1,000 odd, and in June for £1,200. We got nothing from the Minister. Now he wants to turn round and to collar some creameries that want to evade some clause in the Principal Act. Just like the pig question, the people will have to pay for everything they produce. I want to know from the Minister how many creameries he wants to deal with now, the supply to these creameries, and the total levy it is proposed to get.
The Deputy is entirely wrong.
Yes. Under the Dairy Stabilisation Act we could close down creameries if they did not pay the levy. We could also bring them to court and take the levy from them, and take it before anyone else got anything.
I asked the Minister for Defence for information when the Bill was last before the House, and he gave me to understand that the principal reason for the introduction of this Bill was that there were creameries outside the scope of the Act.
No, as far as existing creameries go we can collect the levy. We have ample powers to do so. This section deals with illegal creameries, as they are termed, where people came along and put up these places, and called them "creameries," to which farmers bring milk, which is separated and made into factory butter—not creamery butter. We cannot get at them.
How many are there?
Five, and they are principally about Cork. We know who owns them, but we cannot prove it in court.
As if there are not enough creameries in the country.
Power to do so is being taken in this Bill.
But they are not creameries at all!
No, they are illegal creameries.
The Minister told me a while ago that there were no such things in existence.
They are illegal creameries. We do not describe them that way, but we want to get at them. We are going to find out who owns them.
What supplies do they get, and how much does the Minister expect to get?
Perhaps 1,000 gallons.
This section deals with the same question, and I have not got the information.
This section deals with procedure.
The Minister told me there were none of these creameries in my part of the country. Now I understand if the levy is to be collected, it will be from what are called illegal creameries.
I call them something else.
I wanted to know the quantities supplied, where these creameries are situate, and the amount of levy the Minister expects to get. The Minister is not giving the information, but is simply juggling with the whole thing. The powers sought under this Bill are very far-reaching. For instance, a notice can be posted on the door and the whole of the machinery seized. Before the Minister gets these powers he should explain to the House his reasons for getting them. I have asked for the information on more than one occasion, but it has not been forthcoming. Before getting such powers the information should be put at the disposal of Deputies.
I do not want to prevent Deputies getting information about these institutions. We do not call them creameries.
We will understand the position better if you do.
It would not be right to do so. They were started by certain people, principally in Cork. The farmers brought milk there, had it separated, and made into butter. If we send an inspector there under the provisions of the Act to ask who owns the place, farmers and men working about say they do not know. As no one knows, the inspector, if he wants to enforce an order, cannot do so. The House passed an Act in 1928 in order to regulate the creamery industry, and, as Deputies know, a very large sum of money was spent in buying out the proprietors and handing over the creameries to co-operative societies. The late Government considered that necessary in order to safeguard the position, and not to allow the late proprietors to come in again and put up creameries in opposition or to allow one co-operative creamery to start against another. Under the Act of 1928 the Minister for Agriculture must give a permit to start a creamery, and he must be satisfied that there is a need for a creamery and that it is not in competition with other creameries. These creameries are in competition with others.
How did they start?
Did they start since 1928?
Within the last year. They are in competition with other creameries and they were put up purposely to hit other creameries. We cannot sue them under the Creamery Act or close them, because we do not know in law who owns them. Also, they are not paying any levy. That is true, but it is only part of the trouble. The only way we have of dealing with them is the method proposed in Section 4. Deputy Cosgrave will, I am sure, be quite familiar with the procedure in the case of a derelict house in the city. When we want to get at the owner, we post a notice on the building telling him to come along to court on such a date. That is all we can do, and we are going to do the same thing here. We are proposing that a notice be posted on the door when we cannot find the owner telling him to appear in court to answer the charge on a certain day. If he does not appear, we deal with him, and if he does, the summons is amended to include the person who appears and who proves that he is the owner.
Does the Minister say that machinery to the extent of £400 or £500 has been put into these institutions?
I do not think it is as much as that.
Are they private persons who have started them?
Yes, the proprietors.