Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 are not in order.
Tobacco Bill, 1934—Money Resolution. - Tobacco Bill, 1934.—Committee Stage.
A whole series of amendments that I had submitted were wiped out with the exception of two.
What amendment is the Deputy speaking to?
I am speaking to Section 3.
These amendments are not in order.
Why were they put on the Paper?
They were ruled out of order by the Ceann Comhairle.
His letter to me does not, I think, indicate that. He says:
The Tobacco Bill deals with the sale and manufacture of home-grown tobacco controlled by the Minister, who will have an Advisory Board. These were the principles agreed to when the Bill was read a Second Time.
Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 have been ruled out of order by the Ceann Comhairle.
Might I just give you the close of his letter. He said:
"I may add for your information that owing to great pressure on the typing staff only two key sections of your amendments will be included in the typed Order Paper."
Why does he include them on the typed Order Paper if they are out of order?
The Ceann Comhairle is the authority on order, and he has ruled these amendments out of order.
I wish he had told me so. However, I suppose that when a man tries to do good, obstacles will be put in his way.
I move amendment No. 3:—
Before sub-section (3) to insert the following new sub-section:—
The Minister for Industry and Commerce shall appoint in addition to the members referred to in the next preceding sub-section of this section, one or more, as he thinks proper, persons representative of workers employed in relation to the growing or manufacture of tobacco to be an additional member or members of the Tobacco Advisory Committee."
I think it is only right that the workers engaged in the industry should have representation on this Advisory Board, and I think the Minister will find that he will get better results if he has every section engaged in the industry satisfied. I think he ought to accept the amendment.
I do not think the Deputy quite grasps the nature of the Advisory Board which is to be set up under this section. It relates only to the functions of the Minister for Industry and Commerce under the Bill, and these functions are concerned only with the distribution amongst manufacturers of the various parcels of tobacco in the rehandling station after they have been graded and packed. The Minister, in that connection, would have nothing to do with conditions of employment or anything else, and the Board would in no sense be advising him in such matters. They are a Board representative of the manufacturers for the purpose of ensuring that the opinions of the manufacturers with respect to allocations of tobacco as between themselves will be fairly and properly considered. It does not appear, therefore, that there should be anybody on this Board except the people concerned with the particular matters, and they are the manufacturers only.
Arising out of what the Minister has said, would he think that this statement made by the retail dealers has substance:—
"The retailers believe that manufacturers have set up premises where goods are sold to the public for less than the invoiced prices to legitimate traders. The object is the elimination of retail traders and the substitution of machine and store trade. By eliminating employment, manufacturers might expect to increase already big profits.
Would the Minister think that there is any substance in that statement, which has been handed to me by the Retail Traders' Association?
I should not like to express an opinion on that, because it does not appear to have any relevancy to the particular matter which Deputy Corish's amendment concerns. It is proposed that the Minister for Industry and Commerce shall have certain functions under this Bill with respect to the distribution amongst the manufacturers of tobacco grown in the Saorstát and rehandled in the licensed rehandling stations. It is felt that there should be a body set up composed of manufacturers to ensure that, in making allocations of the tobacco, the Minister will act fairly as between one manufacturer and another and to ensure that only tobacco suitable to the particular processes carried on by any manufacturer will be sent to him. That is the sole function of this board, which has nothing whatever to do with anything concerning the retail trade, the wages of workers or the interests of growers or anything else. It is concerned only with that particular point of the allocation between manufacturers of the tobacco available.
I move amendment No. 5:—
At the end of the section to add two new sub-sections as follows:—
(4) An offence under this section, if committed in relation to an inspector of the Minister, may be prosecuted by or at the suit of that Minister as prosecutor.
(5) An offence under this section, if committed in relation to an inspector of the Minister for Industry and Commerce, may be prosecuted by or at the suit of that Minister as prosecutor.
There are a number of amendments similar to this to different sections. It is merely for the purpose of providing that this offence will be prosecuted in the manner stated.
As it stands at present the section reads "If any person (being a grower, curer, rehandler or manufacturer) makes, in any return or other document...." The insertion of the word "knowingly" might be considered in relation to this section. Mistakes may be very easily made by persons not accustomed to reading Acts of Parliament or even to making returns. Although the mistake might be a very serious one, there might be no criminal intent or no desire to deceive. The Minister is probably as well acquainted with agriculturists as anyone else, and he can understand how a man, unaccustomed to making returns, furnishing documents, or anything of that sort, may make mistakes in regard to them. I think it would be an injustice if these men were convicted of making a false return, which was made owing to a mistake or something of that sort. As the section stands, they can be prosecuted and convicted for what would be regarded as a very serious mistake, although not so intended. The Minister, I am sure, has experience of the Revenue mind with regard to these things. It is a very severe mind. It is not one that is directly applicable to the people concerned, such as growers, rehandlers and so on, and I think the word "knowingly" might be inserted in this particular section.
I think the Deputy will realise that if the word "knowingly" were to be inserted the onus would be on the Minister to prove that the person actually knew he was making a false return. I think that would be extremely difficult. The Revenue Commissioners have a strict code, but they must bring an offender before the District Justice. I think the Deputy will admit that a District Justice is usually inclined to be lenient to the farmer when the Government is prosecuting. In all cases he will give the benefit of the doubt to the farmer. If the Minister, as prosecutor, had to prove to the District Justice that the farmer not only made a false return, but that he knowingly made it, I am afraid we would never get a conviction. I think the grower or curer or rehandler is quite safe in appearing before the District Justice. Also the words "in any material respect" are included in the section here, so that it will have to be a very serious error. If the person who is prosecuted were to say that it was just a mistake, that he was prepared to make it good and to do the thing right in future, I am sure he would get off.
I do not think the District Justice has any option. As the section stands, I think he has to convict. An explanation may modify the conviction, but it is the conviction which matters. The fine of £100 provided for here satisfies me that it is the revenue people who are on the spot. They always like three figures. Two figures have no attraction for them whatever. For persons accustomed to making returns it is all right as they will take precautions, but for people who are not so accustomed to it it is quite a different matter. The insertion of the word "knowingly" would not mean any relaxation on the part of people who have to fill up these returns.
The maximum fine would be certainly very heavy in the case of a grower. It is quite possible that a rehandler or manufacturer who made a false return in a material respect would deserve such a heavy fine.
It depends altogether on the intent.
I think the District Justice will decide that.
The District Justice has to read the statute as it is before him.
He has a certain amount of latitude.
I appeal to the Minister to accept the suggestion of Deputy Cosgrave. The Minister seems to pin his faith to the fact that the District Justice will be on the side of the farmer, but the District Justice will have to interpret the section as it appears here. He will have to impose the fine, but he can recommend that it should be reduced. There is no reason why there should be such a drastic provision in this section. I ask the Minister to accept the suggestion of Deputy Cosgrave and put in the word "knowingly." Anyone might make a mistake. Even the Minister might make a mistake, and he is accustomed to filling up forms. The only reason which would justify the section as drafted is if there was an intent to defraud.
I suggest that the Minister should eliminate the word "grower" from the section and deal with the rehandlers and manufacturers. Most of these gentlemen are very clever and are used to juggling with the revenue authorities and can be trusted to fight them. I suggest if the Minister took the word "grower" out of the section and let it apply to the rehandlers and the manufacturers it would cover the whole business. I should not like to see the manufacturers left too free in this at all, because, from my experience of them last year, they are allowed to rob the farmers to the best of their ability. The ordinary farmer is not accustomed to filling up forms, and the forms you get in connection with tobacco growing are so puzzling that you would nearly want help to fill them yourself, not to say the ordinary man who is not accustomed to filling up such forms. I suggest you leave the grower out of the question and deal with the manufacturer and the rehandler.
That is the very thing that vitiates measures of this sort. We must be just to all persons, no matter to what class they may belong. You should not commence legislating with a prejudice against any class. Injustice bound to come from it, and it will react upon you. It will come back and perhaps hit the Deputy himself later on when the people with no property have got complete control. The following section gives a picture of the revenue mind. The manufacturer convicted of an offence loses his licence. I wonder have the Revenue Commissioners ever made a mistake, or even the Minister? We have had experience of the Minister this evening when he submitted a Bill containing the most extensive amendments to a previous Bill of his that one ever has experienced in connection with an Act of Parliament. More than half of the measure—and it was a very big one— was taken up with sections amending his misdeeds, his misconceptions, his lack of foresight, or something else of that sort.
Now he has the grower, the handler, and the manufacturer in his hands, and he is treating them very differently to the courteous and gentle manner in which the House treated him this evening. In the following section the licence is withdrawn for a simple mistake on the part of the person concerned. Let us say that one is asked to direct somebody on a road. Mistakes have often been made in that connection. Would you describe that as "false and misleading information"? In this case the person is to be fined £100, if he happens to be the grower, the rehandler, or the manufacturer. The Minister may not have the power to do this himself, but ought to press on those considering the matter that it is unfair to certain people who may be unaccustomed to fixing up these documents, or even to those who are, because they happen to commit a very simple, bona fide mistake, to make them liable to a fine of £100, and subsequently to the loss of their licences.
I object to Deputy Cosgrave saying that the farmers are men of no property.
I did not say that. I said the time is coming when the people of no property may get control.
So far as amendments to an Act are concerned, we had 133 amendments to a Land Bill at one time. So far as this section is concerned, the grower, who will be in 99 cases out of 100 a farmer, may not have the necessary knowledge for filling up complicated forms sent out by the revenue authorities. The manufacturer is in an entirely different position. The manufacturer may be found putting 5 per cent. of Irish tobacco into his blend instead of 20 or 25 per cent., and he may say: "I made a mistake." I think he should be punished for that mistake. The manufacturer should be very carefully watched this year and next year. I would be in favour of giving the Minister full power in that respect.
I am informed by people who are growing tobacco that a certain amount of notice is necessary —at least a month's notice. You have the seeds in March and the plants in May. But it must be understood that certain preparation of the land has got to take place, and it may be necessary to do that in the autumn of the previous year. There is no date down here in this particular section. An area order, if it be published too late, may not give the required time. I understand a considerable amount of manuring must take place, and in some cases that is done months before the seeds are planted. Perhaps the Minister will consider the question of an early publication in Iris Oifigiúil?
That certainly could be considered, but I do not know that it will meet the Deputy's point. Suppose we were to publish in September of the coming year what the total area will be, and the maximum amount to be allotted to each person, that does not tell any particular person that he will be growing tobacco. In another section he is asked to make application for a licence before the 31st December. If we left the date 31st December we could not issue licences and notify farmers how much tobacco they will be allowed to grow, if any, until the middle of February. We will have to push that date forward if we are to do anything. Some farmers object to that date as being too early.
There is a remedy for too early, but there is none for too late.
The position would be this. The rehandling might not be concluded by December, and you would not know exactly how much tobacco you would have until the rehandling is concluded. So far as the manuring of the land is concerned, it should be done in October, and people should have a reasonable opportunity of knowing, if they specially prepare the land in October, that they are going to get a licence for growing tobacco on that land. It is generally admitted that manuring at the point of planting is not good. Better results are got when the manuring is done some months in advance. The date, the 31st December, might possibly meet that, provided the people get a reasonable indication from the revenue authorities that they would get a licence and would not be disappointed. If the Minister is satisfied that the 31st December will suit, and before that date the revenue authorities are in a position to give these people licences, then that would cover it. The general method is that they advise by letter that a licence may or may not be granted, and if they indicated in that letter that the licence would be granted within a definite time it would not disappoint anybody.
This is the one, I think, that raises that question. My information is much the same as Deputy O'Reilly's information, that earlier manuring must take place. If that be so, as I am informed by a grower, the application to the Revenue Commissioners in respect of a licence must be made within the last six months before the commencement of each year. If we take it that the application would be made in June or July, will the grower get information in September or October as to the areas that will be allotted to him? If not, one of two things may happen. A man may manure land on which he will not be allowed to grow tobacco, and it takes a much heavier quantity of manure than another crop, and it may be that he will incur considerable expense and not get the advantage of it. Accordingly, I think that in this particular case the Minister should ensure that the Revenue Commissioners would reply promptly, that there would be an early allocation of the actual area to be allotted, and that, having made that early allocation of the area and given an early reply, the individuals concerned will not be at any loss. They may have been able to stand some loss during the last year or two, but with the prices now available there is no margin whatever for such contingent losses as would arise in a case of that sort.
I suggest that the Revenue authorities ought to be able to give a definite reply to the applicants by the 1st December. The date for applications ought to close on 1st November and the reply should be given out at least by the 1st December. It does not make much difference to the farmer if he gets a refusal by the 1st December, because, after all, it is practically the same treatment that you give land for beet as for tobacco, and you can fill in the ground with beet instead of tobacco. Practically the same circumstances occurred with me this year. I applied for five acres and I only got one, so I had to fall back on another crop.
You will not make £1,000 this year.
At least I will not be put into a lunatic asylum for growing it. I think that an early date such as the 1st December ought to be fixed, by which the Revenue authorities would give replies to any growers so as to afford them an opportunity of sowing some other crop in the ground.
The Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Agriculture are concerned principally in this. But I think that the Revenue Commissioners would welcome an earlier date than 31st December. Certainly, from an administrative point of view the Department of Agriculture also would welcome it. I am afraid, however, that we would be making a great mistake in changing the date here. For instance, the 30th April is the date for a wheat grower. His crops are sown and he is looking forward to the harvest for his cash. Last year, however, we had to bring in an amending Bill to extend the date, and this year I am afraid that we will have to bring in a further amendment to this already very much amended Bill, as Deputy Cosgrave says, to extend the date. We cannot get those farmers to register as wheat growers until they actually have the grain ready for sale.
There are going to be a great many fines of £100 then.
If we were very strict and hard-hearted, I suppose so, but we are not. If you change the date for a licence for tobacco growers I am afraid that a great many farmers would neglect to apply. A number of them would come along in February or March when they were ready to put down their seed. That is the time they would come along.
One reason, perhaps, is that they do not know what price they will get until the Budget comes along. That governs the position to a large extent. If the date was put down before the 31st December and growers were entitled to get a licence at any date before that, provided that the licence was made definite, I think that would cover it.
This tobacco is a very tight fit this year and every facility should be given to them.
I wonder what is the position in regard to rehandlers' licences this year? As the Minister is aware, there is not any great difference in the price of tobacco to the grower, and on that particular point he has fixed it at 5d. to the rehandler. If the rehandling licences are confined to the co-operative societies of growers, who have rehandling stations fixed up themselves, in that manner 2d. or possibly 3d. out of the 5d. will find its way back and could be added on to the price of the tobacco. After all, there is a very strong argument for confining rehandlers' licences solely to co-operative societies of growers. I understand that in Cork our co-operative society can deal with 15,000 lbs. of tobacco a week in the season. That would mean that we could deal with practically from 250 to 300 acres of tobacco in the tobacco season. I think that the Minister should take steps to see that that full quota is reserved to the co-operative rehandling society in Cork. After all, the more tobacco you get in the less your overhead charges will be and the better chance the grower has of getting back, in addition to the price of his tobacco, 1d. or 2d. of the rehandling money passed on to the price of his tobacco. I think that only a very poor case can be made for granting rehandlers' licences to proprietors, who start out on their own thinking that there is something in the game, as a lot of them did last year and made fortunes in a day. It was from 11d. to 2/- a lb. Very many of them made a fortune on the business last year, and I see no reason why they should be continued now. If the Minister continues to give licences to those people he will find himself in the same position as that in which the co-operative creameries found themselves some years ago. He will have to come along and buy out their interests if he now allows these vested interests to grow up. This is the time to hit those people on the head and get rid of them. There is no room for too many middlemen coming between the producer and the manufacturer in this country. Unfortunately in the case of every business got up by the farmer these middlemen creep along and skim off the cream. That is what happened in connection with the rehandling position, and that is what will happen again unless they are carefully watched. From what I can see, I think the co-operative society in Meath will be able to cope with a large quantity of the tobacco there. I think there are a couple of other co-operative societies which are prepared to go ahead as rehandling stations. If there are 1,000 acres under tobacco there is only room for three or four rehandling stations at the outside in order to deal with that acreage on an economic basis. I do not see that there is any room for others stepping in. It takes a bit of time to train the girls and men at rehandling tobacco. We have already a staff trained in Cork.
In Cork to be sure.
Yes, Cork is always first. The unfortunate part of it is that unless a sufficient quota of tobacco is available to give enough work to the co-operative societies that are dealing with rehandling, these societies will not be able to go ahead. Should there be a balance after the co-operative societies have dealt with what they are capable of dealing with, these other fellows might take it on. But as things stand, I do not see any room for proprietary rehandlers or any necessity for issuing licences to them. I think the time has gone when the middleman should be allowed to step in between the producer and the manufacturer. There is no room for middlemen, and the sooner they are squelched the better. This is the proper time to stamp them out. I would like to hear some definite statement from the Minister with regard to rehandlers' licences.
With regard to rehandling stations, I would like to see all this work done by the growers themselves through the co-operative societies. But I think we have not got sufficient capacity in the rehandling stations which are run by co-operative societies at the moment. It would, therefore, be necessary to license certain proprietary rehandling stations. We must consider, of course, the application of any person in the rehandling business. There were quite a number in the business last year, and it is possible that some of those will not go on under the new conditions of strict supervision and so on, and also under a limited and specified rate per lb. It is also quite possible that some of the existing rehandlers will be disqualified under this Bill as they are also manufacturers. The remainder will have to be considered. It may, as a matter of fact, be necessary to license some proprietors in order to help out the co-operative rehandling stations for a year or two, say, until one more additional co-operative rehandling station would get into the business. I would like, however, to say that those proprietary rehandlers are not to be regarded as having any inflated vested interest. I do not think they have any great vested interest. They have some small plant. If we find after some time that there will be sufficient co-operative rehandling stations to deal with the whole crop, I think it would be the policy of this Government, or of any other Government in this country, to hand the business over to co-operative societies. It would be very much like the creamery business in 1928 when the proprietary creameries had to be bought out and handed over to the co-operative creameries. I think in this case there should be very little to buy out because there is no vested interest in it. It will be known that this business will go to the co-operative concerns when they are formed, but at the moment we cannot confine it to the co-operative concerns.
I consider that those rehandling charges are bound to act against the proprietary rehandler. The co-operative rehandler leaves the profits with the producers but the proprietary rehandler will, of course, make as much as he can out of it. By allowing the work to be done by the co-operative rehandling stations the producers will be certainly assisted. As far as the capacity of the rehandling machine is concerned, I have to say that the actual capacity of the Randalstown rehandling station in Navan is equal to a capacity of dealing with 5,000 acres. That machine alone could cope with the total production for a number of years anyhow. At any rate, I believe that the result will be that the co-operative rehandling stations will get most of the rehandling work and farmers will find it to their benefit to become members of these societies.
There is another point. It is stated further down in the Bill that an official will be stationed practically permanently at the rehandling stations. For that reason, the lesser the number of rehandling stations, the lesser need there will be for these officials and you will not have so many on the job. In that way there will be a saving also. I think the Minister ought to give some guarantee that the co-operative societies will at least get their full quota. At all events, that they will get a chance of dealing with what they are capable of rehandling and if there is a balance left over let it go to the others. I think this is the time, before the vested interests grow up, to deal with this matter. Any private individual who had a rehandling station last year paid for his whole plant and equipment in addition to making a bit of profit. The farmers who had the courage last year to start rehandling stations themselves and form their co-operative societies deserve consideration and support from the Minister. I know that at one period the Munster Co-operative Society owed the bank £4,500. That was a fairly large obligation and they cleared it off. As Deputy Donnelly says, they made a handsome profit but if they did, it was due to their own initiative. The abolition of the duty on tobacco last year was a chance given to the growers and it should not go to the lad with the travelling bag and an old Tin Lizzie who went around the country buying tobacco. These gentlemen in some cases made £400 to £500 a day out of the pockets of the taxpayers of this country or out of the money that was supposed to go to the farming community. Having made their profits last year, they can have no vested interests now. I warn the Minister that next year and the year after we would like to squelch these fellows. They will be looking out for vested interests. If there is any balance after the portion that can be dealt with by the co-operative societies, a licence, of course, might be given to the proprietary rehandlers. But I do not think from my knowledge that even if instead of 1,000 acres, 2,000 acres were grown this year, there would be any balance left for these people. I think they are fully capable of dealing with the whole lot. I see no room for any others.
Can the Minister tell us at what price the co-operative societies are rehandling it?
It is fixed for this year at 5d. per lb. We will have to reduce that eventually down to 2d. when we get efficient. It is a question whether the co-operative societies will naturally capture all the business.
Will the co-operative societies come into competition in the matter of rehandling.
Yes. The position is that while co-operatives are allowed 3d. per lb. for rehandling they are also shareholders. If they rehandled for 2d. per lb. the other 3d. would go back to the tobacco. The co-operative societies have no profits.
Deputy Belton wants to know how much it costs the co-operative societies to rehandle.
It depends upon the amount of tobacco. This year it is about 3d.
So that they are getting a present of 2d.
There is no present about it.
If a private rehandler gets 5d. and can do the work for 3d. he is making 2d. profit. In this matter I believe the essential part of the business is to have it done efficiently and to make a success of it. Of course a success will be made of it while the rest of the country is paying for it.
Like they paid for your houses.
We are talking about tobacco now, and while the State is giving a subsidy of £42 per acre you can talk about a profit. When that subsidy is withdrawn the profit will be withdrawn.
Section 22 provides that the Revenue Commissioners shall consider each application made to them for a curer's licence or a rehandler's licence and may refuse such application on any of the grounds referable to such application specified in regulations made by them under this part of this Act. And it goes on to say what the procedure in granting every licence is. The Revenue Commissioners have a right to refuse an application, apparently, without any right of appeal. They cannot grant one. Apparently the position is that they can recommend a person for a licence to the Minister. They can state their case to the Minister and he can grant or refuse. He can say "Yes" or "No," but the licence will be actually granted back through the channels of the Revenue Commissioners again. Would it not be more equitable if the application refused by the Revenue Commissioners as well as that granted should both be passed on to the Minister with the remarks of the Revenue Commissioners upon them? I suggest that to the Minister for his consideration. It is provided in sub-section (3) that "the Minister shall consider every application transmitted to him... and may at his absolute discretion recommend the Revenue Commissioners to grant or refuse any such application." That is at the absolute discretion of the Minister. I hope politics will be ruled out.
I would suggest to the Minister, that in the routine of considering applications for licences— curers' licences, growers' licences, and rehandlers' licences—when the sole authority rests with the Minister to grant, it is only proper that the sole authority should rest with him to refuse as well. And I think that the Revenue Commissioners, having authority to grant, should not be given authority to refuse without giving the applicant a chance to put his case before the Minister.
The Revenue Commissioners look at the matter from the point of view of trying to safeguard the revenue. If they believe that the growing of tobacco by a certain man would be a danger to the revenue, they would refuse him. They are going to issue regulations stating the reasons on which they refuse.
Who will have the final approving of these regulations?
They will be laid before both Houses.
It is in the case of these three licences that I am primarily concerned.
The Revenue Commissioners may rule a person out on revenue ground. They may say that it is dangerous for this man to grow tobacco because he did not carry out our regulations last year, and his growing this year would be a danger. It would be pilfered and so on. They will issue regulations from the revenue point of view. They will also issue regulations from the agricultural standpoint. The Minister for Defence mentioned some of those during the Second Stage of the Bill. For instance, those who grew tobacco last year, and grew it well, would naturally obtain sanction. The Minister for Defence spoke of experiments that had been carried out in congested districts of Mayo, Galway and Kerry where they have small farms and claim to be able to grow tobacco. If these experiments were successful one would be very much inclined to extend the area to small farmers who cannot take advantage of other schemes such as the growing of wheat or beet. These are agricultural considerations. The curer's licence follows the grower's licence. Every curer is a grower. There is provision where the curer is not a grower where five or six farmers might combine or persons with a glass-house which he would not be using at the particular time and who might cure for others.
That would be an instance of curers who are not growers but, generally speaking, the grower will be the curer, so the grower and the curer will naturally be considered from the agricultural standpoint as soon as the Revenue Commissioners have said "Well he is all right from our point of view." Then in regard to the question of rehandling stations that has been raised here, co-operative societies might be a big consideration with the Department of Agriculture, and also the question of the location of these rehandling stations. It must also be remembered that the officer who grades the tobacco, who has most to do with the kind of tobacco that should be grown, how it should be graded and how it should be rehandled, will be an officer appointed by the Minister for Agriculture, so that in that way the Minister for Agriculture will have a good deal to say to the rehandling stations that should be registered.
The point I made does not cut across the reasons given by the Minister, if for revenue purposes the Revenue Commissioners refuse any of those licences. As I suggest, the section should be amended, the Revenue Commissioners could make their case and state their reasons why in their opinion this licence should be refused, giving a summary of the reasons on an endorsement to the Minister for Agriculture. If the Revenue Commissioners could make a good case the Minister for Agriculture could accept it. That would theoretically leave full power to grant or refuse a licence to the Minister dealing with these three stages of the industry— growing, curing and handling, which belong to agriculture.
The principal objection which the Revenue Commissioners have had to granting a licence has been that the curer or grower lived in close proximity to a factory. The idea behind their minds in that was that the manufacturer is allowed drawback on a certain percentage of his stocks and there was a danger that the grower or curer might in one way or another be able to get stocks into the hands of the manufacturer for which he would get a drawback to which he was not legally entitled. I do not think that, normally, the Revenue Commissioners have any objection to granting the licences. Their only objection is where the grower has not proved himself efficient or where he has been carrying on malpractices such as I have described.
If that case were made to the Minister by the Revenue Commissioners, he would see the force of it at once and he would simply agree to their recommendation. My suggestion is that the Minister should be the ultimate authority in all that section of the industry which is connected with agriculture. The dangers connected with the proximity of a grower to a factory and the possibility that stocks might come to the factory on which a rebate might be claimed, are matters which could be recommended to the Minister for Agriculture and he would see the force of them. He could either accept or reject the recommendation. The whole point I am endeavouring to make is that in that section of the industry that is purely agricultural, the Minister for Agriculture should be the sole authority just as in the section dealing with industry, the Minister for Industry and Commerce should be the authority.
The Deputy ought to realise that there are three authorities under this Bill—the Revenue Commissioners, the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Industry and Commerce. You must give absolute authority. You cannot have the Revenue Commissioners reporting to the Minister for Agriculture on a certain matter and his turning them down, just as you could not have the Minister for Agriculture making a recommendation to the Minister for Industry and Commerce and his having power to turn it down.
You have three Ministries.
What is going to happen if the Revenue Commissioners say that they want a certain thing and I say that I shall not agree to it?
It is put through the Minister for Finance to the Minister for Agriculture.
One of us must be superior then.
You can have the row any way you like.
I move amendment No. 8:
At the end of the section to add a new sub-section as follows:—
(3) An offence under this section may be prosecuted by or at the suit of the Minister as prosecutor.
This amendment is similar to amendments previously moved to other sections.
Would the Minister mind reading the amendment?
It is the same amendment as has been moved on five or six occasions before. It merely provides that an offence under the section may be prosecuted by or at the suit of the Minister.
I move amendment No. 9:—
To delete sub-section (3) and substitute the following two sub-sections:—
(3) Where an order under sub-section (1) of this section is in force, a rehandler shall pay to every person employed at a rehandling station wages at not less than the rate applicable under such order to such person clear of all deductions, and if such rehandler fails to do so he shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds.
(4) In the immediately preceding sub-section the expression "deductions" includes deductions for or in respect of any matter whatsoever (other than deductions under the National Insurance Act, 1911, as amended by any subsequent enactments or deductions authorised by any Act to be made from wages in respect of contributions to any superannuation or other provident fund) and notwithstanding that they are deductions which may lawfully be made from wages under the provisions of the Truck Acts, 1831 to 1896, and where any payment being a payment authorised to be received by an employer under Section 1, Section 2 or Section 3 of the Truck Act, 1896, is made by any employed person to his employer, the employer shall, for the purposes of the foregoing sub-section, be deemed to have deducted that amount from wages.
This amendment provides power to enforce an order made by the Minister for Industry and Commerce fixing the rates of wages to be paid to employees at rehandling stations. As the Bill stands there is power to fix rates of wages, but there is no provision for their legal enforcement, and it is necessary to make good that deficiency.
There is to be no provision for rates for the growing of tobacco. The industrial side looks after the standard of wages for manufacturing, but I suppose there will be no standard wage for the growing of it.
All the growers are Fianna Fáil supporters, and they pay good wages.
I suppose the Deputy is the odd man amongst them.
No. Come down and see.
It is because Fianna Fáil supporters have grown tobacco and kept clear of beet, that I am anxious that a standard rate of wage should be enforced on them by law, because they do not pay good wages otherwise.
Give us an instance.
I cannot get an instance to the contrary. I do not know an instance to the contrary.
Wait until we come to yours.
I think consideration should be given to those who grow tobacco to ensure that they will have a living wage just as much as those who manufacture it. I think the Minister for Agriculture ought to see that a similar provision is inserted for agriculturists. If the State is going to pay a guarantee, and provide it out of the public purse for producing an article, then there should be a guaranteed remuneration up the whole line. Of course, the crop would never be grown if it were not subsidised, and the day the subsidy is taken from it it will die a natural death.
Like the rhubarb.
That will never die. While it is being spoon-fed everybody should get a spoonful. There should be no sheltered few who can claim an industrial standard wage while an agricultural standard wage is not recognised. I think that the Minister for Agriculture should look after the agricultural end and secure as good a wage for the agricultural workers engaged in growing tobacco as the Minister for Industry and Commerce is bound by law to secure for those who manufacture it.
I move amendment No. 10:—
At the end of the section to add a new sub-section as follows:—
In any prosecution of a rehandler for an offence under this section, it shall lie on the rehandler to prove that he has not paid wages at less than the minimum rate payable under the order, for the time being in force, made under sub-section (1) of this section."
This is the wording which is already contained in the Trade Board Acts, and it is being introduced here for the same purpose.