I move: That the Bill be now read a Second Time. The Agricultural Products (Regulation of Export) Act, 1933, was passed by the Oireachtas to meet the situation created by the decision of the British Government to restrict imports of certain classes of agricultural products into the United Kingdom to such quantities as, after due allowance was made for home production, would satisfy that country's requirements. With this object quotas were allotted to the exporting countries, and each such country was required to establish satisfactory machinery for ensuring that:—(a) quantities in excess of the quotas would not be exported to the United Kingdom; and (b) the full quantities covered by the quotas would actually be so exported.
For the purpose of providing this machinery, so far as Saorstát Eireann is concerned, legislation was necessary. Accordingly, the Act above referred to was passed empowering the Minister for Agriculture to make Orders regulating and controlling the export from Saorstát Eireann of any agricultural product subject to the following conditions:—(1) the country to which the agricultural product in respect of which the Order is made is exported must be a country to which that particular agricultural product is usually exported from Saorstát Eireann; and (2) the country to which the agricultural product in respect of which the Order is made is exported must have established a system of restriction or control of the import of that agricultural product into that country from Saorstát Eireann; and (3) orders made under the Act are to be directed to regulating and controlling the export in such manner as appears to the Minister to be calculated to secure for exporters from Saorstát Eireann the maximum benefit permitted by the system of restriction and control established by the exporting country.
While these conditions present no difficulty in the case of exports to the United Kingdom, they render the Act inoperative in the case of countries to which agricultural products hitherto have not been usually exported from Saorstát Eireann, or of countries which have not established any "system of restriction or control on the import of agricultural products from Saorstát Eireann" but have made or may make agreements or arrangements entitling or requiring Saorstát Eireann to export to them limited quantities of certain classes of agricultural products. In order that the Government may be in a position to secure that the terms of the agreements or arrangements which I have just referred to will be implemented, it is necessary that the Minister for Agriculture should have powers of regulating and controlling exports of agricultural products to the countries with which such agreements or arrangements are made similar to those powers which he can at present exercise in regard to exports to the United Kingdom. The Bill, accordingly, proposes to amend Section 2 of the Act of 1933 by inserting in lieu of sub-section (1) of that section a new sub-section enabling the Minister to make Orders under Section 2, subject to either of the following conditions—(1) that the Government of the importing country has established any system of restriction or control of the import of any agricultural product into that country from Saorstát Eireann, or (2) that the Government of the importing country has made any agreement or arrangement with the Government of Saorstát Eireann whereby any agricultural product is permitted or required to be imported to a limited extent into that country from Saorstát Eireann. The effect of this amendment will be to substitute one or other of these two conditions for the three conditions which have to be fulfilled as the Act at present stands before any Order can be made under Section 2. Section 2 of the 1933 Act also sets out certain specific matters which may be provided for in such orders in addition, of course, to the matters in general These specific matters are contained in paragraphs (a) to (f) of the existing sub-section (1) of Section 2. It is proposed to re-enact these paragraphs in the new sub-section subject to amendments in paragraph (a) and paragraph (c). The amendment to paragraph (a) is a drafting amendment which omits the words "to such country." The new paragraph provides that the Orders may prohibit the export to a particular country of any specific description of any agricultural product. This provision is necessary to enable the Minister for Agriculture to prevent the export of inferior or unsuitable descriptions which might be unacceptable to the importing country or depreciate the reputation of Saorstát produce in that country. Another amendment proposes to alter the definition of the expression "agricultural product." It appears that it is not clear that the existing definition includes livestock, dairy produce, eggs and articles of food, "agricultural product" being held by some people to include only what grows on the soil. The definition is being altered to include all live stock, live-stock products and the produce of the soil. That particular provision is being made retrospective in case there should be any doubt as to the scope of the definition as it stood in the original Act. I have read this statement because the amendments are rather technical. In short, the two major amendments give us power, say, in the case of Germany or Belgium, where we are making treaties but where we had not been carrying on export up to the present. Under the old Act, we had not that power. In the second place the amendment of the definition of "agricultural product," to which I have referred, is made.