Agricultural Produce (Cereals) Bill, 1934—Committee (Resumed).

Sections 79 and 80 agreed to.

I move amendment No. 11:—

To delete the words and figures "2nd day of July, 1934" where they occur (twice) and to substitute the words "relevant time."

Amendment agreed to.
Section 81, as amended, agreed to.
Section 82 agreed to.
(1) The Minister may serve notice in writing on the owner of any potential grain store or potential grain kiln requiring such owner to furnish to him within twenty-eight days after the service of such notice such particulars in relation to such store or kiln (as the case may be) as may be specified in such notice.

I move amendment No. 12:—

In sub-section (1) to delete the word "potential" where it occurs (twice).

I raised the question of service with the Minister for Agriculture last night. He agreed to consult with the Minister for Industry and Commerce with regard to service by registered letter as an alternative to personal service. I raised an objection to service by registered letter unless it had been proved that every effort had been made to effect personal service. The penalties laid down in this Bill are very severe. In this particular case that we are discussing the penalty is £20. I am of opinion that, where the penalties are so severe, every effort should be made to have personal service effected before resort is made to service by registered letter. I think that sub-section (3) should be amended to meet my point.

I do not think it is necessary to amend the section to provide for that. There is a recognised method of service. In all measures of this kind power is taken to effect service by sending notice by registered post. The practice, however, always is to effect personal service, where possible. It is only where the operation of an Act might be held up by inability to establish contact with an individual that this method of service by registered letter is resorted to.

Sub-section (3) should be drafted so that it would not come into operation until every effort had been made to effect personal service. In the sub-section it is an alternative to personal service.

Sub-section (3) is merely permissive. It permits of service by registered letter.

In other words, it is an alternative to personal service.

It permits of it where service in any other form is not practicable. I am telling the Deputy what is the practice. Every Department of State has considerable experience in this matter, and in all Bills of this kind you have the same provision permitting of the service of a notice by registered post where service in any other form would be impracticable.

Very strong objection can be taken to this form of service, and it should not be resorted to except in a case where a man is evading service. That should be set forth in the sub-section, so that it would be made clear that the Department was driven, in a case where a man was evading personal service, to avail of the power of effecting service by registered post. Here there is a penalty of £20, and I think where the penalty is so heavy there should be personal service. Take the other cases where there are minor fines imposed. Take, for example, the attendance of a juror. Personal service is required there. The maximum fine is £3. Here it is £20. I think it is only right that the Department should use every effort at personal service before adopting this form.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Section 83, as amended, put and agreed to.
(1) An inspector of the Minister for Agriculture may, upon giving to the owner of a potential grain store or potential grain kiln at least one month's notice in writing by registered letter addressed to him at his last known place of abode, enter upon the land on which such store or kiln is situate and inspect such store or kiln.

I move amendment No. 13:—

In sub-section (1) to delete the word "potential" where it occurs (twice).

This is the same as amendment No. 12.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Section 84, as amended, put and agreed to.
(1) The Minister may, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, acquire compulsorily any land on which there is situate any potential grain store or any potential grain kiln together with every right of way, water right or other casement used and enjoyed in connection therewith.
(2) For the purpose of the acquisition of land under this section the Lands Clauses Acts shall be incorporated with this Act subject to the following modifications, that is to say:—
(a) the provisions relating to the sale of superfluous land and access to the special Act and Section 133 (which relates to land tax and poor rate) of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845, shall not be incorporated with this Act, and
(b) in the construction of this Act and the incorporated Acts, this Act shall be deemed to be the special Act and the Minister for Agriculture shall be deemed to be the promoter of the undertaking, and
(c) the bond required by Section 85 of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845, shall be under the seal of the Minister and shall be sufficient without the addition of the sureties mentioned in that section.
(3) The price or compensation payable on the acquisition of land under this section and the expenses incurred by the Minister in relation to such acquisition shall, to such extent as shall be sanctioned by the Minister for Finance, be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.
(4) Land which is subject to a land purchase annuity or the subject of a land purchase agreement or vested or in course of being vested in the Irish Land Commission shall not be acquired under this section without the consent of the Irish Land Commission.

I move amendment No. 14:—

In sub-section (1) to delete the words "potential grain store or any potential grain kiln" and to substitute the words "grain store, which is, at the date of the service of the notice of intention to take such land under Section 18 of the Lands Clauses Consolidation Act, 1845, a potential grain store, or any grain kiln, which is, at the date of such service, a potential grain kiln."

This is a drafting amendment.

Surely this is more than a drafting amendment?

It is a drafting amendment consequential on amendments already inserted in the Bill.

Does it broadly give the Minister power to acquire lands in the same way as a local authority has the right to acquire them for housing and such purposes?

And nothing more?

Amendment put and agreed to.

I move amendment No. 15:—

To delete sub-section (3).

This sub-section (3) is unnecessary in view of subsequent amendments. This amendment is consequential on No. 16.

Amendment put and agreed to.
Section 85, as amended, put and agreed to.
Section 86 put and agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 87 stand part of the Bill."

On Section 87 and with reference to Section 87, 88 and 89, I think the Minister ought to give the House some idea as to the circumstances under which he thinks it may be necessary for him to enter into those businesses—warehousing and drying cereals, and all that sort of thing, for which he is taking those powers.

The power conferred upon the Minister under those sections cannot be exercised by him until the necessary funds have been voted by the Dáil. If circumstances should arise in which he would deem it necessary to use the powers he would have to come and explain the circumstances to the Dáil before getting the necessary Vote.

When this House is asked to pass legislation giving the Minister power to do certain things, and particularly giving the Minister power to enter into businesses that are conducted by the trading and commercial community at the present time, surely he ought to inform the House why he is looking for those powers. If he thinks that he is not likely to use them there is no reason why he should not tell the House or why the House should put into the framework of its legislation powers for this particular class of thing. I think it is an absurd action on the part of the Minister to tell the House: "This is only legislation; this is only law. We will not be able to do anything under this until we come and ask for money to do it." I think we are entitled to know what the law is for, and what are the circumstances that the Minister foresees and thinks may at some time drive him into the position that he will have to enter into those businesses.

The circumstances would be similar to those under which corresponding powers to take over flour mills and maize mills are provided under the main Act, that is, if the owners of those grain stores keep them out of use, and refuse to sell or lease them or make them available for the purposes of the scheme, and it became necessary to use those compulsory powers in order to get possession of those stores and use them. It is not anticipated that circumstances will frequently arise in which those powers will have to be used, but it is necessary that the power should be there, so that there will be no possibility of the interests of the country being prejudiced by individuals acting in such an unreasonable manner.

Let us take Section 87: "The Minister may erect on any land acquired by him under this part of this Act a grain store or a grain kiln." Surely the Minister's remarks could hardly apply to the circum stances under which he would erect a grain store.

That section is to enable the Minister to reconstruct a store which may have been allowed to become derelict.

Surely the remarks of the Minister as to the circumstances that would call him into this business do not apply to his taking over any disused store and turning it into a grain store? What circumstances or kind of neglect on the part of the trading or commercial or farming community would make it necessary for the Minister to erect a grain store or take over an old one and renovate it?

The circumstances contemplated by this Bill, under which the Minister would have to go into this business of dealing with corn. He would have to store it.

Under what circumstances?

The circumstances contemplated in the Bill.

Those circumstances were not explained by the Minister.

I think they were.

Is it the Minister's case that, where an ordinary trader would fail, the Minister with his civil servants would succeed?

He would have to try, anyhow.

Has the Minister lived until this time of day and not realised that in regard to the simplest business something has to be learned? Those who follow that business for a livelihood learn it best, because their whole livelihood is at stake. When they fail, a civil servant is to come along—a civil servant whose concern is to come in in the morning, get away in the evening, and consider what weather he will have for his holidays. I am now speaking from experience. I was one for seventeen years.

That is why you are not one now.

I had to more carefully learn the business I follow now, because I was up against it. It was not a late hour in the morning, or an early hour in the evening, or fine weather for my holidays that I could afford to consider. I would have to consider my business if I woke up at night. People who have pursued their business under those conditions fail only because of circumstances beyond their control. Where they fail, the Minister comes along and in effect says: "Come, get out of my way. I will put in a civil servant, and he will make it pay—not with his own money but with the State money." All the Minister can say is that he would have to try. Take care that the Minister and other Ministers have not already bitten off more than they can chew. They have in other sections here sought power to take up land. Now they are going to erect a new store and a new kiln to dry this corn, where private enterprise failed in certain conditions.

The Minister should not deal with such a very important matter, which involves so much, in such a flippant manner. If circumstances which would make this necessary should arise, we would all wish the Minister success, because the country would be hinging upon that. The Minister should explain more fully the circumstances under which he would attempt this. The trade now cannot afford to build huge warehouses and to carry the grain over. Perhaps the Minister does not know—and I do not know if the Minister for Agriculture would be able to advise him—that the best place to store corn is in the stack. It is by storing it properly in the stack that you can obviate the necessity of kiln drying. When you put it in kilns it has to be turned, and turned properly. The ordinary labourer cannot turn the corn unless he has had experience of how to do it. He could very easily burn it in the kiln. It also wants sufficient turning while on the lofts. I do not think it necessary in this section to give the House some idea of the cost of building a store. That is only the initial cost, but, if it was not suitable for corn, it might be suitable for something else later on, when the Minister for Agriculture starts slaughtering meat for sausages, tripe, and things like that. A building is always useful, if only as a shelter for cattle, or for foddering cattle, while the upper portion could provide a home for jackdaws. The Minister could give us some idea of the cost and why it should fall on the State. Does he anticipate that the cost will be so heavy that the ordinary trade cannot bear it, and that for want of a better name a speculative trader will not take the risk involved? If the ordinary trader will not take the risk, is it fair to ask the taxpayers to take it? The ordinary trader has experience of the trade, but the ordinary taxpayer cannot be expected to have it.

Dr. Ryan

When we introduced a voluntary scheme for fixing prices last year the merchants were got to accept it in practically every town where oats and barley are bought. That was for last year only. However, there were two or three counties where we did not get merchants to adopt it. Suppose we were to fix a price for oats and barley, and that no merchant could be got to buy oats and barley, what are we to do except to erect stores, or buy stores, or having taken stores that are already there, give them by lease, sell them to co-operative societies, or carry on the business ourselves. That is the necessity for this section. There is always a necessity for sections like this in this sort of legislation, where people may refuse to carry out the provisions of an Act, either for financial or political reasons. If the whole business of the country is going to be held up for such reasons, we must be prepared, by having power to take over existing businesses, having paid fair compensation, and either leasing or letting them to other people, or carrying on the business ourselves.

With regard to the amount we intend to spend, we have circulated a Supplementary Estimate for the Department of Agriculture, but we have not included any expenditure under this head, because we do not think it will be necessary in the near future to spend money for this purpose. As Deputies are aware, before spending any money a Supplementary Estimate has to be introduced, and the Dáil will be fully aware of anything that is being spent for this purpose.

I am afraid coming events cast their shadows before them. The Minister has now disclosed his fears as to where he is travelling. Last year there was an inducement to buy. I think he was referring to the spring price for corn, and the guarantee from the Government that if the merchants found corn on their hands at a certain date, it would be bought up. In a few places, I believe the Minister was not able to find merchants who would fall into line and accommodate themselves to that situation. I think he insinuated that there was a loss there. Now he fears an extension of that to the whole country. That is exactly the point I was making, but I did not come down to the details that the Minister has accommodatingly come down to. He fears he will fix a price based on certain things, and that at that price he may not find traders to buy. The trader buys to sell in a consumption market, and if the Minister fixes a price that is above the lawful price in that consumption market, then the trader cannot buy, because there is nothing in it for him. He can only buy and sell to "make a bit." If the price fixed is such that he cannot buy at his price or is such that he cannot use the corn to produce beef, pork, etc., then the trader cannot do business. That is the crux of the whole thing. The Minister says that if he cannot do business he will come along and take the risk.

Dr. Ryan

The Deputy has already made a Second Reading speech.

I am not making a Second Reading speech now. I am dealing with a point raised by the Minister. Has the Minister not made the point that if there is a fear that the ordinary trader will not buy at the price fixed, as an alternative the Government must have stores. The Government will go into business, and they will pay the price. I take it the Minister has said that, and I am discussing that point. The Minister is afraid that the price he must fix, in order in some way to approximate with the formula he promised the House he was going to use, to cover the cost of production plus a margin of profit——

Part IV of the Bill contains provisions relating to the sale and purchase of oats and barley and the milling of oatmeal, and the point the Deputy is now raising was discussed on Part IV. This section deals with the erection of corn stores, but the Deputy is not in order in discussing the price of corn.

If I may mention a few connecting links, the Minister does not want stores if the corn can be disposed of in the ordinary trade. He is going to fix a price by a section of the Bill, but when the ordinary trader has to pay that price to the farmer producer, the Minister is afraid that the trader will go out of business rather than pay it. I am sure the Minister is conscious that the trader cannot remain in trade if he has to pay that price. Hence the Minister wants power in Section 87 to erect stores, and there being so much moisture in our corn, he wants to have kilns to dry it. It is in reference to that point that I mentioned the price. I am not dealing with what the price should be, although price is the prime factor necessitating this section.

He is only saving the producer, at any rate.

I am not talking of the producer or the consumer now. I am dealing with the storage of corn by the Government and the necessity for it. The ordinary trader will not handle it. That is quite obvious and logical from the statement of the Minister. The Minister realises that danger and that weakness in the whole of this Bill. Until yesterday he did not tell us that he considered the use of it would be as an element in the fixing of the price.

The Deputy himself has wisely said that the question of price was dealt with in other sections of the Bill. Surely the factors to be taken into consideration by the Minister in fixing the price have nothing whatever to do with the erection of grain stores or giving the Minister power to acquire land for the erection of stores.

If there is no danger that the ordinary flow of trade will not be held up, then there is no necessity for these powers. It is because of the danger that the ordinary flow and exchange of trade will be held up that it is necessary to have these stores. The Minister wants the burden that the ordinary trade will refuse to carry taken off the ordinary trade, which is in the hands of experts, and taken up by civil servants who are not experts. I should like the Minister to explain where he proposes to find a market.

The Minister will not be allowed to explain to the House on this section where markets are to be found; neither should the Deputy discuss the matter.

Can I put it this way? For what purpose is the grain to be stored? Why should the Government ask for stores for grain? What do they want to store it for? Before the Minister gets the power and spends the money to store this grain, I should like to know what need there is for storing this grain in this coming year that was not there last year or the year before when the area under oats and barley was at least as much as it was this year and when the crop was more prolific. I suggest that the only reason for storing it is that there will not be an outlet. He is going to store something that there may never be an outlet for and the loss will fall on the taxpayer.

The Minister, in defending his claim to the powers set out in Section 87, said they were necessary to ensure the successful operation of such a price-fixing scheme as he embarked on last year, when he said: "Certain merchants for financial and political reasons refused to operate my scheme." That is about the weakest defence I have ever heard put up in this House for power to acquire stores and grain kilns when we remember the catastrophic result of the Minister's intervention in the grain situation last year. If the Minister's intervention with his grain kilns and stores is to be anything like his intervention in the grain situation last season, that is the most potent argument that could be advanced against giving the powers he seeks under Section 87. He summoned his experts around him last year; he assessed the quantity of oats in the country, and he forced the cereal content of the maize-meal mixture up to 40 per cent., thereby substantially increasing the cost of the mixture to the farmers and, at the same time, substantially reducing its value as a fattening agent. Having compelled the feeding community to bear that burden, we arrived at the conclusion of the season about a month ago to find that there were no oats left. The Minister has made such an error in his calculations and forced so much oats into the maize-meal mixture that he has denuded the market and driven the staple of the poor people's diet— oatmeal—up to a price that it has not touched since 1925.

That is the success of the Minister for Agriculture in administering a price-fixing scheme last year. He doubled the burden on the backs of the feeders; he seriously interfered with their market for disposing of their live stock; and he created a situation in which in the months of June, July and August, when potatoes are scarce and oatmeal is widely used, oatmeal reached a price higher than it had ever reached for seven years. The success in administering that scheme is advanced here as a good reason for empowering him to take over grain stores and kilns and run them with an equal measure of success. The grain merchants, who warned him of the folly of what he was embarking upon some months ago, have been amply vindicated and the Minister has been shown in this matter, as in almost every other matter to which he has put his hand, to be a grossly imcompetent man.

It is very largely because he is a grossly incompetent man that we draw the attention of the House to the danger of putting added weapons in his hands. He has got his majority downstairs in the Library and if we challenge a division on this they will all come trotting up. They will not ask what they are voting about; they do not know what they are voting about; and they do not care what they are voting about. They will all march into the Lobby and give him these powers, right or wrong. But for the few members of the Party who happened to drift in here instead of camping in the Library, I think it is right that they should walk into the Lobby in full realisation of what they are doing. They are simply giving matches to an infant child. If he does not burn himself with them and burn a large section of the community, it will not be the fault of the Fianna Fáil Party. The Minister wants these powers simply because he and his colleague, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, are labouring under the extraordinary misapprehension that they are better able to run everybody's business than anybody else in the country. It will be a costly business to teach them that they cannot. However, I note a valiant look of self-sacrifice on the face of every member of the Fianna Fáil Party. They are apparently prepared to pay the price. I wish they could be brought to remember, when they are paying this extravagant price for the lessons they are so painfully learning, that it is not their own money they are spending.

Dr. Ryan

Deputy Dillon is an extraordinary man. I often wonder whether he is a rogue or a fool. I believe he is both.

On a point of order. In dealing with the Minister for Agriculture one does not care to be too strict, but I think the word "rogue" is scarcely parliamentary. Is it legitimate for one Deputy to call another a rogue in this House?

The Chair does not consider it to be parliamentary.

Dr. Ryan

I am sorry, and I withdraw.

We will not mind it from the Minister.

Dr. Ryan

The Deputy accepts the other half, I think. The Deputy says, "The grain merchants warned him of his folly." There is not a single grain merchant whom I have met who has not said that I was right and that they were wrong. Deputy O'Neill is sitting behind Deputy Dillon and he knows what the grain merchants said, as he was at the meetings. The grain merchants and the maize millers said that we could not put up a scheme for the use of the oats and barley in this country. I said that we could; they said that we could not, and that is the difference between us.

I was right and they were wrong, and now Deputy Dillon comes in here and talks about the grain merchants who warned me of my folly. It was I who warned them of their folly, and they admit it now, those of them who are honest enough to admit it. I met the maize millers a month ago, and they admitted that they were wrong when they did not do what I asked them to do last year. They approve of this Bill that is being brought in now. They know this scheme can now be worked. They have discovered from experience that it can be. Deputy Dillon said the voluntary scheme was a huge success. It is to remedy defects in that scheme that we want this clause. In the case of the last scheme there were certain counties in which merchants would not work it. The co-operative societies would work it if they had the stores. The merchants had stores lying idle and they would not give them to the co-operative societies. We are now taking power to take those stores from the merchants and hand them to the co-operative societies if the merchants are not prepared to use them. It is because we stand for the farmers and the producers and it is because we may deprive some of the merchants of their illegitimate profits that we have Deputy Dillon and others criticising our action. I have never known Deputy Dillon to stand for anybody only what he calls the business community, whoever the business community in this country may be.

I read out a list of them once and the Minister did not like it.

I thought it was not usual to give the names of business people in this House?

Dr. Ryan

Deputy Dillon talks about the mixture reducing the feeding value. Statements of that sort clearly show the inferiority complex of the Deputy. It has always been the same in this country. If you want to push Irish stuff on the consumers you are told it is an inferior article. Apparently we cannot have the superior article unless we bring it across the seas either from Great Britain, Minnesota, or somewhere else.

The Minister is misquoting me.

Dr. Ryan

I am not. You said the mixture reduces its feeding value.

As a fattening agent.

Dr. Ryan

As a fattening agent?

Ask your experts.

Dr. Ryan

All the Deputy has to do is to go down to the Library and look up the reports of the Department of Agriculture for the last six or seven years. There is not a single one of them that does not give details of some experiment or other proving that Irish-grown grain is as good as maize for all animals.

For fattening?

Dr. Ryan

Yes, for fattening. The Deputy ought not to take it for granted that the Irish stuff is always inferior. He should try to look up these things and see what the scientists say about them. These men carry out their duties in a scientific way and they have found that we can grow as good grain here as they can in America or in the Argentine. It may be a blow to the Deputy to hear that we can do as well here as the people in other countries, but it is nevertheless true. The Deputy should look up the records and inform himself on these matters before he makes any statements of the type he has made. The Deputy talks about putting up profits. That is what we are out to stop. I said that this measure was not introduced for the benefit of the merchant or the maize miller. We brought in the original Act in order to get the producing farmer the best price possible and to let the consumer get the article at the lowest possible price. It is altogether for the benefit of the farmer. What tends to reduce the profits of the middleman will never meet with approval from Deputy Dillon.

It appears that the powers asked for by the Minister will not be used by him unless as a last resort. I quite appreciate the reasons that have prompted the Minister to introduce this section. I remember at the beginning of last season when oats were being marketed the Minister was endeavouring to come to some agreement with the merchants in regard to the price that would be paid for the oats at that particular period. If my memory serves me right the Minister failed on that occasion to come to an agreement with the merchants. There is absolutely no doubt that, as a result of that disagreement, thousands of farmers were compelled to sell their oats at prices ranging from 7/6 to 8/6 and 9/- per barrel, a price which, everyone must admit, taking everything into consideration, was not an economic price for the farmer. After a few weeks the Minister came to an agreement with the merchants whereby a guaranteed price of 10/6 was decided upon. Very many farmers had previously sold their oats at the very low prices to which I have referred. I think I would be right in saying that it is with a view to preventing that state of affairs taking place this year that the Minister seeks these powers in Section 87. In regard to the buying of stores and the carrying on of business by the Minister and his officials, I think everyone will agree that it would be better if the necessity did not arise. I want to press upon the Minister the necessity for coming to some agreement very early in the season as to what price he proposes to give for oats.

The Deputy has departed from the matter under discussion.

It is more or less incidental to the point I am going to make in regard to the taking over of stores. It might happen that there would be disagreement over a price to the extent of 6d. or 1/- a barrel, and it might also be that the amount involved would be less than the amount of money which the Minister would spend in the acquisition of stores. It would be better business if the Minister could come to an agreement with the merchants that would enable him to give a price to the farmer for his oats that would pay him and thus obviate the necessity of embarking on this venture in the taking over of stores. Everybody knows that would be a very costly affair. As the old saying goes, the cost might overcome the profit. One must admit that the Minister is making an honest effort to prevent a repetition of what took place last year, and my only hope, as representing a constituency in which oats are largely grown and in which very many farmers suffered serious losses in the early part of last year as a result of the low prices prevailing, is that something will be done this year that will recoup them for those losses. I hope the Minister will come to some agreement that will enable the farmers, if there is a necessity to hold back their oats for a few weeks, to do so in the hope that such holding back will help to repay them. I hope that the price agreed upon will be such as will meet with the general approval of those engaged in the industry.

Has the Minister consulted the trade or has he made any offer that he will recoup them at a certain time if the corn remains on their hands, thereby giving them a chance of carrying on and obviating the necessity of the Minister going into the business?

Dr. Ryan

The offer will be made in this way. When the price is fixed, if there are sufficient merchants to buy under the fixed price, the Minister has no intention of entering the trade at all.

Agreed. But there is the danger of fixing the price at a level that the trade may consider, weighing everything, that they cannot buy, and take the risk of taking a stock.

Dr. Ryan

The percentage will be fixed in such a way as to take it off again. The percentage of home-grown maize in the mixture will be fixed at a level to take it off their hands.

So that their position is to let it run out gradually into the shoot for the maize-millers.

Dr. Ryan

That should be their function, to hold the grown meal for the maize-miller.

And you allow a reasonable profit?

Dr. Ryan

We do not interfere with that.

But there is a danger to the estimates and that is the risk they have to take. If there is more consumption than that, they can charge what they like. Where does the element of competition come in and so where is their profit?

Dr. Ryan

There is an element of competition in it. We try to fix the percentage at a level that will absorb all the grain grown in the country for a year.

Provided the consumption has reached to certain farmers.

Dr. Ryan

We want that. If consumption goes down we fix the percentage.

And the price?

Dr. Ryan

If the matter goes on as it is now we lower the price rather than raise it.

I may be excused for asking if it is the Minister's idea to have a guarantee to the corn merchants to have certain prices at certain times of the year? That was the offer made last year. I admit the Minister did make a success of this plan last year in that he absorbed the whole of the oats grown, but at an enormous cost, and conferred benefit, generally in the case of purchasers who were persons of a speculative turn of mind. The advantage that the farmers derived in one way was countered again in a very decided way. I agree that there is no fattening for cattle like maize and the Minister should know that.

Dr. Ryan

The Minister can prove it is not so.

That is the Minister's opinion and he may get some people to agree with him. But the general consensus of opinion is against him. Everyone with practical experience of fattening or feeding cattle knows that. I do not see much objection to giving the Minister this power. I think it is a power which he will not be very likely to use.

Dr. Ryan

I hope not.

I think the Minister will work in a reasonable way in this connection and I do not see much objection in giving him the power.

I asked the Minister a plain question. He is asking power under Section 87 to run to kiln-dried and to store all the grain he may have. I ask him this question. As a result of his intervention in the grain situation last year, is it not true to say that the price of Indian meal mixture was substantially raised to the feeder?

Dr. Ryan


Is it not true, also, to say that the artificial scarcity of oats in June, July and August left the small farmer who was consuming oatmeal in the position that it raised the price from 16/- per ten-stone bag last April to 24/- per ten-stone bag to-day. Will the Minister not agree with me that the burden of expense laid upon the fattening and consuming community if it could be assessed, is far greater than any advantage that accrued to the grain-grower in terms of money? Would it not be cheaper from the point of view of those consumers if the grain-grower were given a subsidy out of the Central Fund, a subsidy furnished by the taxpayer. That is all I ask. I could agree if you fix a price, the right benefit that might flow from that course of action, but the burden of my case is that the Minister's fixed price makes it impossible to do that.

I submit to the House that whenever a Minister who was a politician, surrounded by permanent officials who were civil servants, intervened in trade they must make a mess of it, and always have done so. If you took 12 grain merchants and put them into the Department of Agriculture to do the work of the permanent officials, they would make a mess of it. If you took 12 officials out of their offices and put them into a corn merchant's stores, they would make a mess of it. Even if they came there under the leadership of the Minister for Agriculture of Saorstát Eireann they would nevertheless make a mess of it. That is what they did last year and that is what they will do every year. The average person will be unable, at once, to measure the damage done because it is extremely difficult to estimate the added cost in the case of maize meal mixture. But if all these costs were added together I venture to say that the Minister's interference would be shown to cost the consumers of grain, who are almost exclusively the small farmers, something like half a million sterling. Is there any Deputy in this House who imagines that when he gave the Minister for Agriculture power to fix the price and percentage of maize meal mixture, he gave him power to lay upon the backs of the small farmers of the country a financial burden of not less than £500,000? This section is going to give him permanent power at his own sweet will, or any other Minister for Agriculture, to repeat or increase that burden when everything is fixed. I think Deputies should fully realise what they are doing when they accept this section of the Bill. Of course, Deputies not familiar with the consuming end of the business—the pig business, the fowl business, and the cattle business—may not know these things. They do not know that the small farmers along the western seaboard during the months when potatoes are short consume meal instead. If they did they would see that these people got a fair crack of the whip and that substantial justice was done them. It is not substantial justice to take £500,000 from one section of the community and to hand it over to another section of the community.

Question—"That Section 87 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
Sections 88 and 89 agreed to.

Dr. Ryan

I move amendment No. 16:—

Before Section 90 to insert a new section as follows:—

All moneys (other than moneys provided by the Oireachtas) received by the Minister in respect of any business carried on by him under this part of this Act shall be paid into or disposed of for the benefit of the Exchequer in such manner as the Minister for Finance may direct.

This is the same as an amendment already moved which makes for Government financing. I think that it was sufficiently discussed here last night.

I asked the Minister yesterday whether or not the effect of a similar amendment was to bring those accounts within the ambit of the Exchequer and Audit Acts?

Dr. Ryan

Yes, it does.

If that is so, is it the Minister's intention to add here, in respect of this part of the Bill, the same statutory undertaking in another part of the Bill, the effect of which is to bring in ordinary trading or profit and loss accounts and submit them to the Comptroller and Auditor-General.

Dr. Ryan

I think that amendment No. 17 covers that.

This difficulty arises if there is a statutory obligation on a Minister to render accounts. That statutory obligation is regulated by the Comptroller and Auditor-General and gives the Department of Finance the right to demand whatever form of accounts they want. They have a very strong prejudice against ordinary trading or profit and loss accounts. What they regard as accounts are the accounts of outgoing and incoming receipts. From that point of view they are of no value whatever. They require profit and loss accounts. I have no objection whatever to the Ministry of Finance getting any accounts in whatever form they want them, but I also want them to provide Dáil Eireann with a commercial profit and loss account so that ordinary members of the House will be able to assess the true condition of whatever enterprise the Minister is engaged in, and if there is a statutory obligation on the Minister to prepare such accounts, it will be within the competence of the Public Accounts Committee, for instance, to ask for their production. If that is not so, then the Public Accounts Committee cannot demand such accounts as of right. I have no objection to the section or the amendment, provided that the Minister, on the Report Stage, will take it on himself and on the Minister for Industry and Commerce to furnish profit and loss accounts as well as the other accounts.

Dr. Ryan

I think that Amendment No. 17 covers what the Deputy wants.

Is the Minister referring to "the report of his proceedings" in that amendment?

Dr. Ryan

Yes. The amendment says:

The Minister shall as soon as may be after the end of every financial year, during which this Part of this Act is in force, prepare and lay before each House of the Oireachtas a report of his proceedings under this Part of this Act during such financial year.

Would the Minister glance at sub-section (3) of Section 90?

Dr. Ryan

Those sections go out.

My submission to the Minister is that this is in itself evidence of something that I know quite well is going on in the Department of Finance at the present time. They do not want them and on every occasion that they can prevent them they will, because they say: "We prescribe the form of account and we do not want any interference from commercial or other auditors outside." I attach enormous importance to sub-section (3) of Section 90, and so does the Department of Finance. The Minister will find that the suggestion to delete that section came from the Department of Finance and I press on him that this is an occasion on which, while giving the Department of Finance everything they want and giving them no cause for complaint, he should also say that, looking at it from a business point of view, he wants to see those accounts from the point of view of the ordinary commercial profit and loss accounts.

Dr. Ryan

Does it not appear to mean additional expense?

The fee for conducting such an audit would be comparatively trivial. It might be £20. But it is a matter of vital urgency that such an audit should be furnished. These things may become more and more numerous, and it is vital that we should know what the situation is from time to time. Will the Minister consider that on the Report Stage?

Dr. Ryan

I will consider it.

Will the Minister not be intimidated by certain considerations?

Dr. Ryan

No, nor by any consideration.

Will the Minister say why this has been put in?

Dr. Ryan

It has been the usual form. The Department of Finance approves of this form of accounting.

I want that form of accounting, but plus sub-section (3) of Section 90.

Dr. Ryan

If you take the system of accounting of the Electricity Supply Board nobody here in this House or anywhere else asked any questions about it.

That is what we want to right.

I am asking that, together with this form of accounts provided for the original purpose of sub-section (3) of Section 90 should be rehabilitated so that we should have a commercial account in addition to the form of accounts prescribed by the Department of Finance. If the Minister inquires, I think that he will find that this proposal comes from the Department of Finance and that it is turning up continually from the Department of Finance and is becoming a public nuisance.

Amendment agreed to.

Dr. Ryan

I move amendment No. 17 :—

Before Section 90 to insert a new section as follows:—

The Minister shall as soon as may be after the end of every financial year, during which this Part of this Act is in force, prepare and lay before each House of the Oireachtas a report of his proceedings under this Part of this Act during such financial year.

Amendment No. 17 agreed to.

Sections 90, 91 and 92 deleted?

Is the Minister moving that those sections should be rejected?

Dr. Ryan


Well, on Section 90, sub-section (3), I should like to ask the Minister to give me an undertaking in connection with the matters I have raised.

Dr. Ryan

Well, yes. I take it that the Report Stage will be taken to-morrow?

Will there be time for amendments?

Dr. Ryan

Yes, up to 3 o'clock to-morrow. If such an amendment is put before me, I certainly shall consider it. What I am not quite sure about is that this amendment does not cover what the Deputy wants.

If the Minister finds that it does not, he will consider it?

Dr. Ryan


Sections 90, 91 and 92 deleted.

Question proposed: "That the Schedule as set out stand part of the Bill."

As regards Part I of the Schedule, the Minister may remember that I drew attention to the impropriety of making the penalty for a breach of the Bill imprisonment. Has the Minister considered that aspect of the situation?

Dr. Ryan

I did not have an opportunity yet of going into it. That would necessitate an amendment of the section.

Yes, we could amend the section or take imprisonment out of the Bill. However we could consider it.

Schedule agreed to.
Title of the Bill put and agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Report Stage fixed for Thursday, 9th August, 1934.