Public Business. - Agricultural Produce (Cereals) Bill, 1935—Second Stage.

I move that this Bill be now read a Second Time. I propose to deal with certain principles embodied in this Bill, and to leave minor points over to be dealt with section by section on the Committee Stage. The principal change contemplated under this Bill is that the miller should pay the full price for the wheat when it is delivered to him by the grower. As Deputies are aware, under our present legislation when a farmer brings his wheat to the miller he gets a certain price which is roughly related to the world price. Some months afterwards he gets a bounty from State funds to make up the difference between what the average price was, as received by the farmer, and the standard price as fixed by the Executive Council. In future, if this Bill becomes law, the miller will pay a price to the farmer based on the bushel weight and the price fixed from time to time by the Executive Council. I need hardly dwell on the advantages of that scheme for the farmer. I know from my experience in the Department of Agriculture that farmers are anxious to get the full price for their wheat as soon as possible. They have complained from time to time about the delay in paying the bounty which is part of the price they have received up to this for their wheat.

The growers of wheat will undoubtedly favour this scheme. There will also be a certain saving in administration under the scheme because there will be no necessity for keeping a register of growers, of making the necessary calculations after getting in all the returns, or even for the mechanical work that was involved in sending out a cheque to each grower. There will be all that saving in administration. It is intended by the Government that the State should be relieved of the responsibility of paying a bounty, but this Bill does not prevent any Government from paying an equivalent to the bounty. If State funds permit at any future time a bounty can be paid to the miller instead of, as it has been paid up to this, to the farmer. But, we need hardly dwell on that possibility at the moment, because it is intended by the Government that for the present at any rate the full price should be paid by the miller, and the price of the wheat passed on to the flour miller, the baker and the consumer.

I think, in any case, that the full price for Irish-grown wheat will have to be paid by the consumer at some future time. It is hoped that what wheat we require for the country will be grown by our own producers some time or other. If we maintain the progress we have been making for the last two or three years, we shall reach that stage in six or seven years. That would require 4,500,000 barrels, on present consumption, and, on our present average bounty, it would call for £1,500,000 in cash as a Government subsidy. I think it is fairly certain that, at some time or other, consumers will be asked to pay the full price for the bread produced from our own wheat, in that way giving the farmers the full cost of production. So far as that point is concerned, there is no necessity, however important it may be, to go into any further explanation or even to deal with the clause under which it is provided for in the Bill.

The second point dealt with in the Bill is concerned with storage and drying. We have been warned, over and over again, and more particularly by the Opposition, that some time or other we may have a wet harvest. Providence was very kind to us during the last couple of years and the wheat was harvested in very good condition. Although our storage was not very good and our drying facilities were poor, on the whole, the wheat reached the miller and was milled into flour in very good condition. If we should meet with a very wet harvest, it would be difficult to deal with the wheat crop. Millers, who, I am quite sure, are the best judges in this matter, say that the only hope they would have of dealing with the wheat under these circumstances and making good flour would be to get it immediately after it had been threshed by the farmer. If that is the only way it can be dealt with, it is quite certain that we have not got sufficient storage. There are, probably, between 180,000 and 200,000 acres of wheat being grown this year. If we had a bad harvest and if most of that wheat were to be delivered to the millers within two months, I do not think they could deal with it from the point of view of storage and certainly not from the point of view of drying. We are, therefore, taking power in the Bill to compel the millers to provide certain storage accommodation and also certain drying accommodation. That can be fixed from time to time by order. It is intended to require the millers to provide storage for about 80 per cent of the full amount of Irish wheat which they will be required to take for the year.

Under the Bill, the Minister for Agriculture will have to make, at the end of December, an estimate of the amount of wheat likely to be grown in the following year. Having made that estimate, he fixes the national percentage for the following harvest. Having fixed that national percentage, he serves an order on each miller telling him the amount of wheat he will be required to take during the following cereal year, commencing 1st September, and requiring the miller to provide storage for a certain stated percentage of that amount of wheat. The present intention is that he should provide storage for about 80 per cent of the full amount he would be required to take. He will be asked, at the same time, to provide drying accommodation, so as to be able to take in that wheat over a period of two or three months, as may be considered advisable or necessary. As these orders will be served about the end of December, the miller will be given reasonable time to provide the necessary storage and the necessary drying accommodation, before 1st September following.

It is also provided in this Bill that the miller will be required to purchase a certain percentage of his quota or national percentage each month. During the year 1934-35, we fixed, under existing legislation, a national percentage of ten. Each miller had to take, in Irish wheat, 10 per cent. of his whole requirements. There was nothing to compel the miller to take all, or even a large part, of that 10 per cent. at once. The miller would be doing his duty by taking 1 per cent. of the 10 per cent. each month. Unfortunately, our producers cannot wait in such cases. The producer is anxious to get rid of his wheat as soon as it is threshed and we know, from the experience of the last two years, that about 80 per cent. of the wheat delivered to millers is delivered before Christmas. We are taking power to compel the millers to take a certain percentage each month. It might be 15 per cent. in September, increasing to 40 per cent., including the 15 per cent., in October; 60 per cent. in November and 80 per cent. in December. I am giving these figures merely at random. They have not been considered. I merely give them as an example of how the scheme will work. The miller will be compelled, subject to penalty, to take that amount himself or through an agent. He can appoint an agent in some other part of the country to buy wheat on his account, subject to the sanction of the Minister. When we brought in the cereals legislation originally, a very big inducement was given to the grower to hold over his wheat until after Christmas because we foresaw the difficulty to the millers of dealing with all the wheat immediately after the harvest. In the first cereal year, the price fixed was 23/6 per barrel up to the middle of December. Then, we had a waiting period and, after the middle of January, the price was 25/- per barrel. That did not appear to be a sufficient inducement to the producers to hold over their wheat. The following year, we made the price 23/6 before Christmas and 26/- after Christmas. That applied during the past season, and it induced a certain number of farmers to keep over their wheat; but it did not induce a sufficient number. I am afraid that to get farmers to keep over their wheat the financial inducement would have to be very big. They want the money, but farmers who admitted that they did not want the money told me that they had difficulty as to storage. If they store in the stack, there is considerable damage done by vermin. They have also the increased cost of threshing their corn twice in the year—a considerable item. If they thrashed all the wheat at one time, then they have not got lofts to store it, so that taking everything into account they think they are better off by getting rid of it as soon as possible, even though the price is a little lower. Of course, there are other considerations. There is a certain amount of shrinkage, and those farmers who sow their own seed would be compelled to thrash a certain amount after the harvest, in order to supply the seed. The result has been that we have not induced any considerable number of farmers to keep wheat over until after Christmas.

If the wheat is not properly stored it will go bad.

Dr. Ryan

That is so. I am afraid we will have to face the fact that a greater part of the wheat grown will be thrown upon the market after the harvest. In order that there may be no serious doubt about getting it absorbed, it is necessary to put in a provision to take a certain part each month, and in that way to get rid of it as it comes on the market.

There is a slight change in the cereal year. It commenced on August 1st and ended July 31st. It is now changed, so that the year commences on September 1st and ends August 31st. That was considered advisable both by growers and millers on the Consultative Council. Practically no wheat is sold before September 1st. In any case farmers who thrash before then will have only a short time to wait for the market to open. Last year was a very early year, as some wheat, I think, was reaped in the first week of August.

What is the necessity for the change.

Dr. Ryan

I will come to that.

What about the large growers working with the new harvesters?

Dr. Ryan

Last year was an extraordinarily early year, some wheat being out during the first week in August. Even so, by the time it was harvested, brought to the haggards and thrashed, it was the 16th or 20th of August, and it will not be any hardship on farmers to hold over the crop for ten days. Still, if a farmer wishes, there is nothing to prevent millers taking delivery then.

Do you appreciate the difficulty of large growers, who reap and thrash early in August, having to store it?

Dr. Ryan

I think no miller will refuse to take any what even before September 1st seeing that the cereal year will commence then. The millers are anxious for the change and the growers saw no objection to it. I was asked why we were changing. Because it is rather difficult sometimes to get matters cleared up. They may seem to be cleared up, but we find that there are always a few odd lots left over. There is provision in the Bill to deal with that. Whatever we may fix as the national percentage, it is impossible to imagine that we can absorb exactly the amount of wheat available. If we fixed it at 20 per cent. this year we might have more than that, but with anything else we might not have enough. We have to give the millers until the end of May to use 20 per cent., especially as time goes on and the percentage gets bigger. If we want to get a more or less uniform mixture of flour the difficulty is to deal with odd lots that are in the hands of farmers. There is a provision which gives the Minister power to serve notice on any miller to take wheat from any farmer provided that it does not exceed ¼ per cent. in the case of any miller. That may take some time. We get complaints from farmers that they have wheat on hands that they cannot sell. We cannot assume that every farmer is in that position. Therefore, we will have to give time for the issuing of advertisements asking farmers with wheat to notify the Department. We will also have to serve notice on millers to take individual lots. Taking these things into account, we may require longer than the last day of July. It is going to do no harm to anyone to make the cereal year September 1.

I suggest the middle of August.

Dr. Ryan

We can discuss that in Committee. That necessitated another sub-section making the next cereal year one of 13 months. The present year ends July 31st. The next cereal year will begin August 1st, 1935, and will run to August 31st, 1936. With regard to imported wheat, the miller is compelled to take the quota on a 13 months' basis.

The Minister can lend money for the building of stores and drying plant. If notice is served on a miller requiring him to provide certain storage or drying facilities he may possibly put up the plea that he has not got the money to do so. That may or may not be true. Fearing it may be true, it may be necessary for the Minister to be in a position to lend the money. I can assure Deputies that we are not looking for this business and that our terms will not be more attractive than the terms to be got from ordinary banks. If any Deputy represents the banks he need have no fear that the Minister has any intention of going into competition with them.

There is a provision with regard to seed wheat. We have a scheme under which a merchant could supply seed on credit and the farmer authorises the Minister to pay what is due out of the bounty when it is ascertained. Under this Bill that scheme must go. But it is unfair, we believe, to merchants who are still out of their money, and who gave credit, to leave them without any provision for payment this year. Naturally, merchants gave the seed on credit expecting that the Minister would be in a position to pay them for the seed when the bounty became due. We are meeting that in a certain clause, by making the wheat crop, in effect, the property of the Minister. When the Minister directs a farmer to sell to a certain dealer or a certain flour miller, he pays for the seed out of the proceeds of the sale and gives what is left to the farmer. After this year, however, I do not think it will be possible to have a credit scheme—certainly not of that nature, because there is no fund out of which the merchant would be guaranteed.

Who pays for it? Is it the miller that pays for it?

Dr. Ryan

Yes, for this year only, where the contract has already been made.

I understand

Dr. Ryan

As a matter of fact, of course, a certain portion at least of the crop was mortgaged because I suppose that about 30 per cent. of the value of the crop would be paid by way of bounty. In this Bill, we cannot very well take 30 per cent. of the crop. We will take the whole crop.

That was a nice provision.

Dr. Ryan

Well, we would like to make the farmer stick by his obligations.

I suppose that the farmer will get whatever is left.

Dr. Ryan


That might be so in some cases, but I am afraid they will be very few.

Dr. Ryan

Oh, it will be so in quite a lot of cases. This Bill, of course, continues the principle of fixing the price two years ahead. Under the original Act, the Executive Council made an order, two years before the cereal year commenced, fixing the price of wheat. That is to say, if we were working under the present Act without this amending Bill, the Executive Council would be required, before the last day of July of this year, to fix the price for the 1937-38 crop. We are providing in this Bill that the price that has been already fixed by the Executive Council for the 1936-37 crop and the 1937-38 crop will stand as fixed and that, in future, the Executive Council will fix the price two years ahead as in the original Act, with certain changes such as that, instead of fixing a standard price, they would fix the minimum price in accordance with the bushel weight and so on as set out in the Second Schedule of this Bill. I think that these are the main principles of the Bill, and I do not think it is advisable to go into the different sections of the Bill in detail at the moment, because I believe that they can be dealt with better on the Committee Stage.

One of the principal points in the Bill, as the Minister pointed out, is the provision that, practically speaking, does away with the bounty and, instead, passes the cost of the scheme, whatever it may be, on direct to the consumer. I think that is a fair presentation of what the Minister himself considers to be one of the principal points in the Bill. There was no indication in the Minister's speech of what that would cost to the consumer, even in the coming year. One would have expected that, in the case of an important Bill of this kind, a Bill that the Minister has had before him for a long time and that he and his Department have fully considered, he would have been in a position to give us an estimate of how that affects the consumer and how it affects the price of bread. Some time ago, speaking in the House—I think it was on the General Resolution of the Budget—the Minister will remember that he estimated, I think, the number of acres that he expected to be under wheat this year at 200,000. Am I correct?

Dr. Ryan

From 180,000 to 200,000 acres.

Very good, between 180,000 and 200,000 acres. The Minister will remember, I think, that there was a slight difference of opinion between him and Deputy O'Leary as to the number of barrels he can expect per acre. The Minister was not anxious to dispute that, possibly, it would be about seven or eight barrels and that that would mean, practically speaking, at least £2 10s. 0d. of a subsidy, if a subsidy continued. Accordingly, this year alone, we may take it for granted that, had the old system continued, the Minister would have had to provide on these figures—I wonder has he other figures—a subsidy of about £500,000. I think that is correct.

Dr. Ryan

I do not think that figure is correct, but the Minister for Finance said that he expects to save £260,000.

I did not say what Deputy MacEntee said. I am referring to what the Minister for Agriculture said.

Dr. Ryan

It does not all go to the millers. About 30,000 acres, roughly, go to farmers' own households.

Even taking that 30,000 acres out, it does not materially reduce the figure. It does not bring it down to £260,000. I do not think the Minister can do that even with the aid of the rather fallible Minister for Finance. I remember mentioning on a previous occasion what the ultimate cost of this would be to the tax-payer in that instance; now it practically means an increase in the price of bread, because that is what it comes to. The Minister expected 800,000 acres but he mentioned now that the bounty would reach about £1,500,000. I think it would have been a great deal more than that. I think that on the same calculation of 800,000 acres it would be closer to £2,000,000. However, as I say, these are purely speculative figures. The Minister assumes, tentatively at all events, that the same rate of increase can be kept on. Is that likely? The Minister assumes, therefore, that in five or six years the taxpayer—that is, the consumer or the person who eats bread under the new system—would have to pay all that. What he bases the rapid increase on, especially over a period of six years, is not clear to me. I think the Minister is overlooking the very important fact that, naturally the amount of additional land suitable for wheat is bound to diminish. After you have reached a certain peak point, the rate of increase will obviously decrease. Leaving that aside, however, I think there is a much more important objection to the Minister's estimate of the number of years in which he hoped to be able to provide wheat for this country from this country, and that is that he is inducing people to grow wheat at present, by means of the bounty system, by paying for wheat a great deal more than its economic value. He has done that deliberately. In that way, he has induced a number of farmers, against their better judgment, to grow wheat. He has made it, for the moment, economic for them to do so, and he has made it economic for them to do so by the help that he has given whether by way of subsidy under the system that is passing away or by means of putting it on to the consumer as the Minister now acknowledges his purpose is.

The Minister will remember, however, that more than once in this House he has acknowledged—although the point has been put up to him again and again without eliciting an answer, since he went back on that acknowledgment —that the success of his wheat policy will depend on a proper rotation of crops. He ought to know that, although he may induce farmers to continue to grow wheat for a couple of years, merely because there is a bounty paid on them, unless it is economic for them to go in for a proper rotation of crops, they are destroying the land, and therefore, it is impossible to consider the Minister's Estimate and this Bill and the powers he now asks, without bearing in mind that his policy has fundamentally changed since he first introduced this cereals policy. At that time, the House will remember, he acknowledged that you must have a proper rotation of crops; that an increase in the cereals meant an increase in the root crops; and he acknowledged, equally, that an increase in root crops meant an increase in cattle. Now he has deliberately departed from that policy. The Government—and he is responsible for their agricultural policy —have deliberately taken measures to see that that cattle policy cannot be continued. They have made it uneconomic and they have gone in, as the Minister knows, and as the House will remember, for a deliberate policy of destroying the cattle, of destroying the calves, the future source of the cattle. I have never heard the Minister even attempting to deal with the various challenges that were thrown up to him, namely, that an increased wheat policy must mean an increased cattle policy and before the House permits him to tax, and to tax very heavily, the staple article of diet of the country, namely, the bread of the people, they should have a much clearer statement from the Minister than he has deigned to give the House on that particular point up to the present.

If you pay enough money, either by means of bounties or by exacting it from the eaters of bread, you will undoubtedly get people to sacrifice the future to the present. Speaking on a similar matter a couple of weeks ago, I instanced the case of a farmer who acknowledged that he was going to grow wheat this year and grow it next year on the same land, grow it the year after on the same land and grow it the year after that on the same land. He was asked why he was doing that and he gave what seemed to him to be the very solid reason, that, as a result of the policy of the Government, it paid because he got a bounty, and the other kind of agriculture for which he had gone in did not pay. It was pointed out to him, and he acknowledged the force of the argument, that it meant that he was reducing his land to a desert by that particular conduct. He said he knew that quite well, but what else was he to do? He was paid to do that and he was penalised, if he did not do it, if he kept to the old policy. In a double way, therefore, the Minister proposes further to force this policy on the country. He is going to tax, and tax very seriously, the bread of the people to subsidise wheat growing. After all, that is what it means, and he is going to make unprofitable the other type of farming, for which people have gone in up to the present and the success of which is really connected with the success of his own policy, looked at over a period of years, as he acknowledged himself on more than one occasion in this House. He is going to compel the people positively, by giving bounties and making the consumer pay, to go in for this type of farming and to make any other type of farming unprofitable.

What is he doing? This tax has been put on bread, on the most necessary article of food for every person in the country. You may dispute whether the exact amount of money that must be put on to the eaters of bread this year is £350,000 or £400,000, but on it must go. The Minister may say that the change is not a very great matter because if it did not come out of the bread it would have to come out of taxes anyhow, but surely there is a tremendous difference in the articles you select for your taxation. There might be an outcry, and there has, I understand, been an outcry, against certain recent taxes imposed by the Government on tea, sugar and tobacco, and it may possibly have come to the notice of one or two members of the Government Party. But suppose the Minister for Finance had proposed to put a tax on bread, what would have been the reactions to that proposal? Let Deputies ask themselves what they think would have been the answer of the country to that proposal. Yet is that not what the present Bill proposes to do?

The Minister may say: "We have exhausted all the other sources of income and"—as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance would put it—"why should not the labourer pay?" But, putting a tax on bread certainly passes anything the Government has attempted up to the present. I will admit that in their finances, they have reached a certain stage at which they have to tax the very necessaries of life. But the people could not have expected that they would put a proposal before this House, in cold blood, to tax bread. That is what it means. The Minister some weeks ago said: "We are proposing in the new Bill that is coming along shortly, to shift that subsidy from the taxpayer to the consumer." Leave out the words "taxpayer" and "consumer" and let us ask ourselves what it means. The consumer is the person who eats the bread, and you are putting a tax on bread. It has one great advantage, I will admit, from the point of view of the Government, in that you conceal it to a certain extent.

I am not denying that this Bill has certain advantages. I can well understand that the farmer is anxious to get his money as quickly as he can, especially at the present time, and possibly, although the Minister said that there were other reasons besides the reason of anxiety to get money, the experience of the Minister as to the different prices he fixes for the middle of January and the middle of December will bear him out in that. I am not at all anxious to deprive the Minister of any advantage which he can suggest that this Bill has for the farmer in that respect, but I am certain that it has still greater advantage for the Government, and it is by no means an isolated example of their policy. It is but one further example of the very objectionable system of taxation in which they have indulged for the last couple of years—that system of what I venture to call concealed taxation. Not merely is it indirect taxation, but it is taxation which need not be mentioned in the ordinary Budget, or need not be mentioned when the Minister for Finance is introducing his Budget statement. That was bad enough when you were dealing with articles like butter, or even sugar, but when you come to deal with bread it is much more objectionable. It is taxing the people's bread and not telling them you are doing it, or at least concealing from them as much as possible the fact that you are doing it. From the point of view of national control over finance, this method in which the Government has been indulging more and more as years have gone on is highly objectionable. But they have reached the limit, as far as taxation of that objectionable character is concerned, when they propose to deal with the most necessary article of diet in this particular way.

There may be differences of view as to the effect which the promise of this Bill has already had on the price of flour in this country. The Minister will remember that, when he was defending certain clauses in his Dairy Stabilisation Bill, he said the fact that the Bill was coming had already affected prices. He took that as a credit. It has been pointed out from this side of the House that already this Bill has affected prices, and that the price of flour has gone up. It has gone up in the last couple of months in this country, in anticipation of this Bill. If Deputies have any doubt about it let them look at—shall I call them—the very evasive answers which were given by the Minister's colleague, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, to the questions put to him not merely by Deputy Dillon, but even the lamb-like Deputy Davin. After all, even if he is a grown-up lamb, nobody can accuse Deputy Davin of a desire to hurt or damage the Government in any way. It is very remarkable indeed if he was satisfied with the replies which he got as to the effect of the cereals policy on the prices of flour and bread. I commend those replies, given in the month of May and the month of June by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, to the attention of Deputies. Let each Deputy ask himself whether the Minister for Industry and Commerce was really giving a straight answer. The price of flour has gone up. The price of household flour has gone up from 27/- in February, to 28/- in March, 30/6 in April, and 33/- in May. Those are quotations given to a Dublin retail merchant. Those figures relate to household flour; I am not speaking of bakers' flour, the price of which is much higher. Has the Minister considered what this means in the way of taxation on bread? The price of bread has already gone up, and the bakers have made it perfectly clear that any price which they have put on was not only called for, but more than called for by the increase in the price of flour. Let the Minister read the reason given by his friends the millers. It will be found that some of the reasons given were connected with the policy of the Minister.

The Minister is asking for this power to tax the bread of the people, because he claims that his policy is a success. The success which he claims for his policy is the increase in the acreage under wheat. If you pay high enough, undoubtedly you can get the people to grow anything. Has that increased acreage under wheat led to an increase in agricultural employment? Have the two things increased pari passu? There has been an increase in the acreage under wheat for a number of years, and there has been a decrease in the number of people employed as agricultural labourers. That does not suggest that power should now be given to the Minister under this Bill to tax the people's bread because he can get people to grow wheat, and because he can compel them to go out of cattle. In Leinster, between the years 1931 and 1933, there was a decrease of several thousands in the number of agricultural labourers. The figure was 5,000 odd in Leinster; 4,000 in Munster; and in Connacht practically 1,100. In all those areas there has been an increase in the amount of wheat grown. It is not that where wheat was grown the number of agricultural labourers increased, and that in counties where it was not grown the number decreased. On the contrary, in counties like, say, Wexford, which the Minister represents, you had a fairly considerable increase in wheat considering the size of the county, and a diminution of the number of agricultural labourers. The same applies to practically every other county. I, therefore, suggest that before the House gives to the Minister this power of covertly taxing the people's bread a little more justification of his policy is required than the number of acres which he had induced people to put under wheat. We have no idea of the cost involved.

The Minister—this is a matter of detail, but perhaps I might as well mention it here as it occurs to me—spoke of compelling the millers to provide certain accommodation in the way of storage and certain facilities for drying. They are to be compelled to do that. That cost, I presume, must also be passed on to the consumer, or does the Minister suggest that the millers will, philanthropically, bear it? Has the Minister any idea as to what that is going to cost? It will be an increasing cost if the policy of the Minister of an increased acreage under wheat year after year is to be taken into account. The Minister was, I admit, rather naive when he was dealing with the matter of storage and drying facilities and he confessed to a gamble—I can hardly call it anything better—that he brought off. I have seen statements about the weather in the newspapers—whether it is always wise to follow these statements or not is another matter—but only for a day ahead. The Minister confesses that if there had been a bad harvest, a wet year, as could easily have happened, owing to the fact that there was not in the country proper drying or storage accommodation, all those who had gone in for wheat growing in the last couple of years would have been ruined. It was a gamble on the weather and I admit it came off. It is now confessed that it was a mere gamble. The Minister acknowledged that the Opposition pointed out that fact to him. I hold when you are dealing with important matters of this kind, and especially with what was to be the sheet anchor in the Government agricultural policy, a gamble is not quite enough. A little foresight on the part of the Minister would have seen that proper storage accommodation and drying facilities were available before he entered on this policy. He acted without taking that obvious precaution. He was like a person who thought of taking money from the till, putting it on a horse, and hoping that he would be able to do more than pay it back. It was a gamble in that way. It came off, but we know what happens to people when the gamble does not come off.

There are a couple of other points of interest, but I presume the Minister can deal with them more fully in Committee. There is going to be a minimum price fixed for wheat. I notice the minimum price is to differ according to the quality of the wheat. The Minister will probably say: "Obviously so." What is obvious about it? You are deliberately doing an uneconomic thing in order to induce people to grow wheat, in order to induce this country to grow sufficient wheat for its inhabitants, irrespective of what it is going to cost. It may be £1,500,000 or £2,500,000, but you are going to do it and it will be uneconomic. Why discriminate against the unfortunate person who has bad land for wheat growing. His intention is as good as the intention of anybody else, but his wheat may not be as good. It is his misfortune if he has bad land. It would be uneconomic to pay him the whole price, but the whole thing is uneconomic from start to finish.

There is, as I have said, a minimum price. Where is the guarantee that there will not be evasion? I have heard of minimum prices being fixed for cattle and I have heard of minimum prices not being paid. There are many ways in which the unfortunate farmer can, in certain circumstances, be safely cheated out of his minimum price. If you catch the miller you could deal with him, but if he is an astute person—and there is nothing in this Bill or in the recent policy of the Minister to suggest that the millers are not astute—there is nothing to prevent him not paying the minimum price and still getting away with it. How evasion is going to be avoided unless you have a large number of officials, which, apparently, the Minister does not contemplate, I find it hard to understand. The Minister mentioned a diminution of officials that he anticipated under this Bill. What he indicated was that, in future, work that might be done by the Department will now be done by the millers. Of course, that will cost them something and they will put on the price either to the farmer or to the consumer. It may be a better way of doing the work, but you do not get rid of the cost of it by putting it from one set of people on to another set of people. Possibly in Committee the Minister will explain what is the precise procedure under Section 13. Certain methods will be decided on by the Minister as being the proper methods to determine the quality of wheat and no other methods can be used. I think that is the ultimate purpose of the section and that is to be carried out by the millers. Am I not right in that, too?

Dr. Ryan

Under the regulations.

Under the regulations, and those methods are to be applied by the millers. Who is to supervise the millers? Who will check the miller as to the verdict he passes on the quality of the wheat? Will it be the ordinary farmer, who is not accustomed to this sort of thing? I am not saying that the Minister cannot make this matter clear, but I do hope he will clarify the situation when he is replying. Can the ordinary farmer coming with his wheat be left in no doubt as to the quality of it or will he have to rely on the word of the miller or the miller's helpers? If not, how will it be supervised? It may be the Minister may get rid of some officials, but it seems to me that he is likely to get a number of other officials on. It is admitted that the one advantage of the Bill, in the intention of the Minister, is that it enables the farmer to get the full price immediately, the difference between what I might call the world price and the special price for Saorstát Eireann. He has not made it quite clear that when putting the tax on to the consumer, the tax on bread, whether that could not be done under the subsidy system.

Dr. Ryan

It could.

I thought it could be done under the subsidy system. Therefore, passing the burden from the general taxpayer on to the bread consumer is not necessary for the one great advantage the Bill has?

Dr. Ryan


That is what I was anxious to be clear about. I could not see why it could not be done under the bounty system. I think I have dealt with the principal points that I wanted to make. Generally speaking, I think this is one more instance of the very objectionable practice that the Government—I was going to say slipped into, but they do not slip into objectionable practices; they go deliberately into them; they slip into good things occasionally, they blunder into good things. But the objectionable practice they have adopted is this method of concealed taxation. I protested against it before from the point of view of parliamentary government, from the point of view of the control over the finances of the country, which is really one of the most important things that a parliament can exercise —one of the most important functions of a parliament. From that point of view the system is most objectionable. Practically speaking, it means that a certain portion of the Budget becomes permanent—that there is not a yearly discussion. This present Bill is a further example of that. On that account I am opposed to it and I am opposed to it particularly on account of the article that is being taxed in this particular way.

If wheat is to be subsidised I think it is better that it should be subsidised out of the general taxes of the country that everybody has to pay. There may be some chance then that the richer people may have to pay more than the poorer people. That would be better than that it should be paid out of the very bread of the people. The Minister may try to get over that particular point. For that is what is meant by saying that it takes the tax off the tax-payer and puts it on to the consumer, to use his own phrase of a couple of weeks ago. On these two grounds I am opposed to this Bill.

Deputy O'Sullivan's speech was extremely interesting. I should like very much to understand his point of view as fully as possible. As far as I could understand him, Deputy O'Sullivan wants every type of agricultural produce in this country to be sold at a surplus price. Butter is to be sold at a surplus price; corn is to be sold at a surplus price and similarly with cattle and bacon. Nothing is to be sold above the surplus price, no matter how small the surplus price may be. Anything above the surplus price the Deputy calls a tax. I think it is altogether a misnomer to call it a tax. If a thing is produced in Japan more cheaply than in Ireland or rather if it can be landed here more cheaply than we can produce it, the Deputy says that anything above the price at which it can be landed here is a charge on the consumer and is therefore a tax. That is a very extraordinary doctrine. It looks as if all our debates are to proceed in circles because no sooner have we finished on this discussion of national price versus world price than we start the same thing all over again. It is doubtful if there is anything we produce that could not be obtained more cheaply from some other country. If we are to allow that idea to dominate us I wonder where it will lead us.

Take another side of the question: If we allow ourselves to be dependent entirely for these things that are now subjected to a "secret" tax I wonder what the future may hold for us. There have been several conferences in the past few years designed to raise the price of wheat. If the farmers in Canada or the Argentine were capable of doing it and if they could agree amongst themselves to do it, there is no doubt whatever that we would not be getting wheat at the price at which we are getting it. Yet because that uneconomic price for wheat is raised by State action here we are told that that is putting on a secret tax on the people. When Deputy O'Sullivan says we are taxing the people's bread what does that mean after all If one-third of the farmers of the country are growing wheat they will be producing bread for themselves and they will have no objection to the tax on "the people's bread." There will be another one-third at least if present circumstances continue as normal, who will always have such means that the small tax that is represented by this difference in price between the national price and the world price would not concern them; so that we cannot say that to them the difference in price is a serious matter. Then there remains say one-third at the very most who are, generally speaking, living at a rather low standard and to whom any tax is a burden. Does Deputy O'Sullivan contemplate that we are going to continue that system indefinitely? Does he contemplate that you will always have that class of people living on the border-line of starvation? Has he no hope that this country will be able to evolve such a system as will enable these people to bargain their labour so that they will be able to pay whatever is an economic price for the goods they buy, and that they will not be dependent upon far-off countries in the world to enable them to eke out a living? It seems to me that there is no system in Deputy O'Sullivan's proposals or in his philosophy. I think that on the Butter Bill the Deputy took rather a different attitude. He rather advocated what he is only advocating as a last resort in this Bill that the difference between the economic price and the world price should be made up out of general taxation. He was forced to do that, of course, because otherwise he would have proposed that the dairy industry should be allowed to collapse. There is only one thing standing between collapse for the dairy industry and its continuance and that is the system of levies and bounties and if Deputy O'Sullivan and is Party were back in power to-morrow they would have to face that position.

The title of this Bill shows that it is an amending Bill. That being so, the policy of the main Act may only be discussed in so far as it is affected by the amending Bill. The policy of wheat growing may not be discussed, much less the whole agricultural policy of the Government. The agricultural policy will arise on other Estimates. The Deputy is purporting to reply to the previous speaker who devoted most of his speech to criticising the Minister for putting the burden on the consumer rather than giving a bounty.

I am sorry, Sir. I had no intention of doing so and any remarks I made were merely combating the ideas that Deputy O'Sullivan put forward in stating his objection to this Bill. I submit, Sir, that the amendment proposed in this Bill for collecting the subsidies on wheat growing is less expensive than what heretofore prevailed and I am rather surprised it was not thought of when the original Bill was framed.. There are office and other expenses involved in collecting the tax. I do not know why it does not commend itself to Deputy O'Sullivan on that account. It is as direct a way of raising money as any tax and must be much less expensive to the community.

There was one point the Minister did not make clear, when he said it was going to compel the millers to buy certain quantities of wheat each month. I would like to know does that only refer to certain months. I presume it does not refer to each month of the 12 months; that it refers only to four or five months of the year. During these months he will compel the purchase of certain quantities of wheat that will involve 80 per cent. of the produce within that period. That will suit the farmers and will not inconvenience the millers. In my opinion, the provisions of this Bill will be very helpful and will assist greatly in the growing of wheat in the country. I am glad to support the Bill.

The attitude that I propose to take on this Bill would be probably more in support than in criticism of it. I listened to my friend and colleague, Deputy O'Sullivan, with great interest. There is no doubt that he fired some good shots at the Bill and made bull's-eyes. He got his target well. As a matter of fact, I thought I saw some feathers flying out of the Bill. This question raises a wide issue and there may be strong reason for opposition to the Bill on the lines it takes. But I would like to support the Bill purely from the farmers' point of view. Amongst the agricultural community a wheat-growing scheme, irrespective of how the bounty is administered or the subsidy granted, has been welcomed by grain-growers, and has been a source of revenue in grain-growing areas. It seems to me that the new system to be adopted by this amending Act of the Cereals Bill, which the Minister is introducing, is the outcome of experience gained under the original Act. It is primarily to help the grower more than any other interest. I believe that the farmer will be far more benefited by receiving in full a settlement for his deliveries of wheat than having to wait for a considerable time for the different bounties in the year, before January and after January. I believe that the purchasing of wheat under this new scheme will give a wider margin to the farmer and that the question of bushel weight will be to his advantage. I believe every farmer can go into the buyer, whether the miller or those acting on behalf of the miller, and see there for himself the register of the bushel weight of his wheat, and he will, accordingly, be paid for that weight.

Where will it be weighed?

I understand that a fairly standardised bushel is being adopted, and that with the wider scope for payment under the bushel weight system there can be very little objection by the farmer that he is not receiving full value. There must be objections to every Bill and I presume objections can be also urged against this Bill.

The first question that Deputy O'Sullivan referred to was the question of storage. I do not believe that even with a double acreage this year as against last year, the storage in the country as it exists to-day will be inadequate to meet the deliveries that will be made. The only danger which may exist to wheat-growing is the question of the weather. No country can possibly find legislation that will defeat that. We all realise that a wet summer would seriously interfere with the harvesting of wheat and would be most harmful. But the same can be said, to a large extent, of any crops. I believe that wheat-growing in this country is a very helpful crop and a help towards agricultural prosperity generally in these very hard times.

I believe that it will in some way compensate for the serious loss which the agricultural community are at present undergoing. I am doubtful, though, as to how far wheat-growing is responsible for increased tillage or how far wheat has been substituted for oats and barley and is responsible for a diminution in the acreage under these crops. It is very difficult to assess its value from the point of view of an increase in labour. It certainly does help to give employment in transport. I think that it would be fairly safe to say that about 100,000 tons of wheat were carried by rail, canal or lorry and that this year the amount will probably be doubled. The complaints which are emanating from those who are interested in wheat, either from the point of view of growing it or converting it into flour, have reference to the huge expense which they will be called upon to meet by reason of the withdrawal of the bounty by the Government, with the result that they become responsible for the full payment on purchases of wheat. At the same time they become liable for extra storage. They have to take up 80 per cent. of the crop inside three months, a fact which renders it necessary for them to look for new storage or rent new storage. If they cannot finance that, I believe that they are empowered to go to the Minister for Agriculture and to seek through him a loan from the Minister for Finance. If any information is correct the terms on which this loan is granted are out of all proportion to their capacity to pay.

The millers in this country are divided into different classes from a financial standpoint. Some of them can spend any amount, and others are fairly equipped with funds to carry on ordinary business. There is a third class who will find it extremely difficult to find all the money to pay for such big quantities of native wheat for next year. If they seek financial assistance, the terms make it almost impossible for them to avail of it. I am informed, whether it is true or not, that they have to give first of all the security of the new buildings which they may erect, as well as their own personal security, and guarantee to repay the loan within five years at the rate of 5 per cent. If that is so, it completely prevents them from seeking the loan from the Department of Finance. Yet they will undoubtedly have to raise extra capital to finance the implementation of this Bill.

As I shall have probably 15 amendments to put forward at a later stage of the Bill, either in my own name or in that of some other Deputy, I do not intend to refer to the Bill at any greater length to-night. I just desire to say that in my opinion the Minister will require to take very strict steps to control the seed supply. Even in this year, dealers have been none too sure, although they have certainly acted in good faith, as to whether they were selling winter wheat or spring wheat. I believe that we have some cases in which winter wheat has been sold as spring wheat. It will be probably Christmas Eve before the unfortunate farmers will be in a position to cut it. I do not believe that that has happened on a large scale. As a matter of fact, the information I have is very limited, but yet it shows the grave necessity there is for the Department of Agriculture to establish a strict control of seed wheat and to see that those who deal in it will be compelled, as they are in the case of other seeds, to comply with strict conditions which will ensure that no inferior seed will go out and also that the brand or type of seed, which is sown, proves true to its name. There has been a very wide margin between the prices at which seed wheat has been sold this year. It seems to those who are in the trade that wheat must have been brought into the country at some extraordinarily low price and with a very flimsy guarantee as to its purity, its freedom from contamination, and that its germination was at least 99 per cent. As the Government have held forth so much encouragement to wheat growers in advertisements, and as the agricultural community have responded by doubling the acreage as compared with last year, the Government should take steps to safeguard growers. A great number of our farmers have lost touch with wheat growing, hence their knowledge of different classes of wheat is very immature. New growers can be bamboozled and fooled into buying seed of questionable quality and are not in a position to contradict the promises given. Later, when the crop proves a failure, they have no reasonable way of getting compensation.

I believe that the scheme visualised in this amending Bill will work satisfactorily, and that the farming community will be able to obtain their seed on credit. That will be of enormous help to them during a period when they find it extremely difficult to pay down cash. The increase in the acreage under wheat will, I believe, present difficulties from the point of view of storage even though silos, etc., are being provided. I think it will be found difficult to handle the wheat crop. Farmers under this scheme will now be able to get a complete settlement for their wheat when they deliver it. That, I think, will prove to be of great benefit to them. Deputy O'Sullivan's criticism of the Bill did reveal a certain lop-sided economy, but, speaking from the point of view of the grower and the miller, it is in my opinion not only desirable but expedient that in these days we should grow as much wheat as possible.

Our main objection to this Bill is, as Deputy O'Sullivan has pointed out, that the burden in connection with wheat growing is being transferred from the Government to the consumer. Deputy Moore said he was surprised that that easy practice was not adopted when the original measure was going through. The Deputy need not be surprised, because at that particular period the Government was an out-and-out poor man's Government. I have a certain amount of sympathy with the Minister for Agriculture who has been driven into the present position by the Minister for Finance. I have no doubt that if he were left to himself he would not have introduced this amending Bill but would have allowed things to go on as they have been, with the bounty being paid out of the Central Fund and consumers spared from the imposition that it is now proposed to put on them. We know from experience that the price of bread has already been advanced by a ½d. in the City of Dublin, while in the City of Limerick it has gone up by 1d. It is impossible to tell at the moment what further advance will be made in the price of bread when this amending legislation is put into operation.

There are a few points in connection with this Bill that I want to deal with. The Minister said that the millers would be more or less compelled to take all the wheat they require in the early part of the year. He said that they might be asked to pay for 30 per cent. of their requirements in one month or even 60 per cent., but if I am right in my reading of the Bill it is quite possible that they may be asked to pay for 100 per cent. Section 9 provides that:

... for such cereal year a percentage (in this section referred to as the purchase percentage) fixed by such order shall be purchased and taken into store in such cereal year by holders of milling licences before the end of each month, specified in such order, in such cereal year, and such percentage may, in respect of any one month in such cereal year, be fixed at 100 per cent.

Therefore, in the month of September the Minister may, quite reasonably, under the provisions of this measure tell a particular miller that he has to take 100 per cent. of his quota during that month. From the point of view of finance that may create a very great difficulty indeed for a small miller. There are very few millers who would be able to buy in advance, for cash, 100 per cent. of their requirements. We had a good deal of argument when the original measure was going through on the question that there was no definition of what "millable wheat" is. No attempt has been made to settle the question in this Bill. There is a reference in it to millable wheat and home-grown wheat. The millers are going to be compelled to buy home-grown wheat. The Bill does not say that they are to be compelled to take only millable wheat. I presume they will be asked to take all the wheat a farmer offers them. From the farmer's point of view that is satisfactory, but it will necessarily have severe reactions on the price of flour hereafter. As Deputy Minch has pointed out, if there is a wet season there is certain to be a considerable amount of indifferent wheat offered. If millers are to be compelled to take that, then, inevitably, it will add to the price of flour because some of that wheat will have to be discarded.

The past two or three seasons have been very favourable for the growing of wheat, and yet, I understand, some millers were compelled to use some of the wheat they bought for admixture purposes. If that has been the case during two favourable seasons, what is going to be the position suppose you have a wet season and a tremendously increased supply of what? A good amount of it will almost certainly not be millable. If the millers are compelled to purchase it they will not be able to use it in an admixture because the market for wheat for that purpose has reached saturation point. I think we should have a clear-cut definition of what millable wheat is. We have been told that, when this measure comes to be operated, there will be a mechanical apparatus for the weighing of wheat. I do not think it will be found an absolutely infallible method for testing the qualities of the wheat.

What we really object to in this Bill is the reversal of the Government policy in regard to the payment of the subsidy. If the price of bread becomes dearer than what it is, then it will be beyond the power of many poor people to buy bread at all. It is almost certain that the price of bread will be dearer as a result of this Bill. It is possible that the millers will have to take greatly increased supplies of wheat. If much of that wheat proves to be of an inferior quality, then the method they are almost certain to adopt to recoup themselves for the losses occasioned by having to do so is to pass on the amount of their losses to the consumer in some way or other. It is almost impossible to predict what the resultant increase in price of flour will be when this amending Bill becomes law. As Deputy Minch said, subsidies are necessary to encourage people to produce an uneconomic crop. If the Government are determined to proceed on that line, the necessary money should be provided out of central funds and not raised from the people who can least afford to pay. No purpose would be served by dealing with the Bill in detail now. It can be examined section by section in Committee. We oppose the Bill on the ground that this huge burden ought not to be passed on to the already overburdened consumer.

I come from an agricultural area and I grow a good deal of wheat. Deputy Corry said the week before last that he would like to hear Deputy Finlay speak about farming. I do not know where he got his information that Deputy Finlay was a farmer. At all events, I am a farmer and I till a big percentage of my land. I grew wheat long before the growing of that crop was recommended by the Minister. During ten or 15 years I grew it successfully, and I grew it unsuccessfully owing to the inclement weather. I have had to plough up crops of wheat and sow barley in their stead. The Minister for Agriculture mentioned that we had been very fortunate as regards climatic conditions during the past couple of years. He is correct in that. During the last couple of years, farmers were very fortunate in that respect. If we have an inclement season—which, I hope, we shall not—and if a small farmer has two acres or ten acres of wheat, he may not be able to sell all his wheat at once. If he sells only 40 per cent. of it, what is he going to do with the other 60 per cent? We know that farmers, when they thresh their barley, put it into stacks and leave it in the haggard, covered with winnowing sheets. It is left there, perhaps, a week or a fortnight before going to the maltster. If the farmer can only get an open market for 40 per cent. of his wheat, what is to become of the other 60 per cent? He has no loft or barn in which to store that wheat for a month, two months, or three months. As I mentioned to the Minister by way of interjection, the farmer wants to sell his crop immediately. Ninety per cent. of farmers want to get the money for their crop as soon as it is ready for the market, and any man who is tilling his land has plenty of calls on that money. It will be very hard on the small farmer, who has very little storage accommodation, if he has to retain 60 per cent. of his wheat crop until November or December. It is not, of course, necessary that he should keep it longer than that, but, as the months go on, he will get a larger price. Very few farmers are in a position to do that. They did not do that up to the present because finance did not permit them.

The man who wants to go into farming at the present time requires to serve his time. I hear a lot of people talk in this House about farming. Judging by my experience, they know nothing about farming. I have been working a farm of 100 acres, 40 per cent. of which is in tillage. I do not claim to be an expert farmer, and I do not think that more than three farmers would make that claim in my area. Yet, I hear members come in here and advocate the adoption of certain methods in farming. As a member of the farming community, I have listened to them with disgust. But we have to tolerate all this sort of stuff week after week. I compliment Deputy Corry on the remarks he makes with regard to farming, because anything in his mind comes out just as if you opened the window of a house in which there was a smoking chimney. That is all the meaning Deputy Corry's remarks have.

Deputy Minch made a suggestion with regard to seed wheat. In that he is quite right. We have in my area— Leix—a very bad acreage of wheat. We have had a lot of wheat ploughed up and white oats or barley put down instead. We have a lot of wheat which should have been ploughed up because it is giving no crop. What is there is just dirt. The people had to seed this crop at a cost of 25/- to 50/-. If they had put down oats again, it would have cost them 30/- additional. In all the cost would have been £3/10/- or £4 to them. I am not blaming any exporter or retailer or seed merchant, but one thing that should be looked after by the Department is the distribution of seed. As Deputy Minch mentioned, in many areas in my part of the country winter wheat was sold for spring wheat. Wheat in my own area, sown for spring, did not ripen, and was never cut. These are the facts. I am not here to talk about things I read in the paper. I am speaking of what I have seen. What I should like to stress is that if the farmer is not able to sell his wheat after it is thrashed and get his money, it will be a great hardship on him. When a small farmer thrashes his corn, he wants the money. The corn is stacked in the haggard and there is no loft or other accommodation. If he has to wait for payment until he delivers his wheat in two or three instalments, he might as well have no wheat at all. The money would mean nothing to him if he were to be paid at intervals of weeks.

Another thing about this Bill is that under it the Minister will own the wheat crop. Farmers will have no claim to their crops. The Minister will take full charge and will pay the merchant for seed that was obtained on credit. If there are pounds, shillings or pence left the Minister will have the pleasure of distributing them to the farmers. It would be like the beet question, where the crop does not belong to the farmers. The Government owns the crop and will own the land so that farmers will be only working it. I am sorry that that is the position because farmers always got a decent living out of the land. Now they are being reduced to the position of working slaves for the State. I would not agree with the Minister in his statement that a series of crops could be grown on the same land. The Minister comes from a good agricultural county, Wexford. Leix and Wexford claim to be two of the best counties in the Free State for agriculture.

And Kilkenny.

Leix held its own with Kilkenny last year. The Deputy never sowed any wheat or tilled any land. He would rather be going around telling the people how to till the land. The Minister said that a rotation of crops could be got off the land. I agree that lea land could be tilled and that a crop of wheat could be got out of it. I should like to see the second crop of wheat grown on that land. It would be no good to the farmer. I do not believe that the cattle trade is gone for ever. Without farm-yard manure there is no use bothering to sow wheat, beet or any other crop. It would be a fool's policy to do so, or to expect a good crop of wheat from artificial manure. I have 30 years' experience of the practical working of a tillage farm. If I did not serve my time to farming in these 30 years then I must be a dud.

It was not my intention to intervene in this debate.

It is well you did.

You are responsible for this contribution. The House will be able to judge for itself whether it is an advantage for me to intervene or not. I may inform Deputy Finlay that I am a farmer and that I grow wheat, beet and other crops. The Deputy mentioned two acres. I grow seven times that amount. I had not to plough any land for wheat this year, yet my wheat is as good as any that I had in recent years. It is quite a good crop. This is not the first year I grew wheat. I venture to say that I till as much land as Deputy Finlay. I was reared on a farm in a district where alternative methods of farming was the rule. The people there always tilled more than the average percentage. I happen to be one of those farmers who carry on mixed farming. I grow both oats, barley and wheat. I know the conditions that obtain in the neighbourhood since I was a boy. With regard to cereals generally, before the admixture scheme was put into operation by the present Government, I know that we had to sell our first-grade barley from 13/- and second-grade from 10/- to 11/- a barrel, and sometimes had to keep it for months before being able to dispose of it. I know, and so does Deputy Finlay, from experience what it was to stand in queues outside the premises of the maltsters in the midlands and in the south of Ireland waiting to get them for God's sake to look at samples. Perhaps after waiting all day farmers would be told to come the next day, and then would not be able to make a sale. The usual practice of the maltsters or distributors for Guinness was to take delivery and to fix up the price afterwards. Otherwise, the barley would have to be stored or kept in the haggards. I do not know what attitude Deputy Finlay takes in this question. Is he against the admixture scheme? Does he contend that prices are not better now than before that scheme was put into operation, both for barley and oats?

What is the price of barley?

I sold barley at 14/6.

Did you never get that price before?

Not for years. I know that I got practically 100 per cent. more than I got before the Government came into office. There is no use in the Deputy making a display of vulgarity. We know that the world price of wheat is uneconomic. We know that the subsidies the Government gave encouraged wheat growing, and that subsidies were absolutely essential if the acreage of wheat was to be increased. The Minister is going to ensure that if the farmers thresh their crop 40 per cent. of it will be taken off their hands. I am in close touch with some farmers in Kilkenny who could not dispose of their wheat for several months after threshing, while their more favoured neighbours were able to do so. I think it is fair to have the grain taken off their hands and otherwise to let those who can provide storage hold it over. The Government's policy has encouraged grain growing, and it is a policy which meets with the approval of every agriculturist. I have no doubt that the country realises that, and so does Deputy Finlay.

What about the prices?

You are guaranteed 23/6. The climate is not worse here since Fianna Fáil came into office. In my opinion, it is a good deal better. Some people say that we have had de Valera weather. At any rate, it has been all to the good. I presume the climate here is not much worse than it was when this country produced 700,000 acres of wheat and did an export trade. It certainly cannot be worse than the climate in Sweden. The present policy has been accepted despite all the tosh and propaganda to create an inferiority complex, and despite the policy of defeatism that has been preached for years. The present policy has put working farmers on their legs. I say that unhesitatingly and I defy contradiction. That is the belief amongst working farmers, and I believe this cereal policy will receive the unanimous support of the House.

I understood we were discussing a Cereals Bill dealing with wheat. It struck me that there was more said about barley and oats than about wheat.

An admixture.

The principal objection I have to the Bill is the withdrawal of the bounty by the Government which I think will have a serious effect on the price of flour. The present price is round about 36/8 per 20 stone. One can visualise, when this Bill is in operation during the next cereal year, the price being considerably increased. Deputy Gibbons may say that that is all to the good; that it is a good thing for farmers to get a good price for wheat. I suppose it is. I do not want to expound my agricultural experience, as other Deputies have done, but I say that this is a very serious problem, and that I would prefer the situation as it was before this Bill was introduced, because I believe that there would be a better chance of a farmer getting a price. I believe that the miller will now be very particular about the quality of wheat when he is paying 23/6 per 20 stone for it. Heretofore, when he was paying 16/- or 17/-, he might be a little more lenient as regards his classification of the crop, but when he has to pay 23/6 I am afraid that we will want to have first quality grade wheat in order to get that price. Naturally, we will all be hoping to get it; I know that I will be hoping to get it, but I suppose we will have to take our chance in connection with that matter.

There is just another objection that I have, and that is where the Minister takes possession, so to speak, of the wheat crop in order to pay for the seed which the farmer got from the merchant. I object altogether to legislation of that kind or to the Minister being put in that position, no matter for what purpose. I think it is a very bad headline for a Government to take, and it puts a farmer into a very unreal position, so to speak. The Minister said he would take possession of the crop in order to see that a merchant got paid. I think that legislation along these lines is very injurious, and I do not care what the circumstances were or are, or will be in the future, I think it is not right to take that line.

That only relates to this year.

Well, even if it only relates to this year, I do not think it is a right policy.

How, then, is the merchant to be guaranteed his payment?

Has he not the farmer to whom he sold the seed? Has he not the same way of getting paid that he has in one hundred and one other things? The Minister does not guarantee payment for every commodity as between the merchant and the farmer. If the farmer buys cereals or anything else from the merchant, the Minister does not guarantee payment. Why should the Minister, in this case, take over the crop for the sake of seeing that the merchant gets paid for his wheat seed, no matter what the legislation was in connection with the present cereal year? These, as I say, are the objections I have to this measure. I think it will have a very serious effect on the people who can least afford it. Surely, the Minister will agree that the price of flour at the present time, which is around about 37/6 or 36/8 per 20 stones, is very high. I make the suggestion that, no matter what Deputy Minch might say—I suppose Deputy Minch might have other interests than those of the farmers in this connection; we are not all the same, and he might be both a miller and a farmer—the millers are getting too much out of this whole legislation. Rightly or wrongly, I have an idea that the millers are get ting too much out of it. I believe that they are, because I believe that the price of flour is unreasonably high at the present time. I have calculated the price of it and I think there is no justification whatever for the price of flour at the present time. Certainly, Government legislation in this country at the present time is tending to make people who are in protected positions rich at the expense of every section in the community.

I have no fault to find with this Bill except that, perhaps, it does not go far enough. Certainly, I find fault with it in not being thorough enough. In October, 1928, I wrote as follows:—

"The Department of Agriculture should be requested to instruct the committees of agriculture to endeavour to treble the wheat crop. There will be no difficulty in obtaining this increase if the Government at once pass legislation providing that, from and after the 1st November following, all flour sold in this country must contain at least 15 per cent. of home-grown wheat."

I wrote that seven years ago, in 1928, and I am glad to see that the Government to-day is adopting, substantially, that policy. I did not hear any argument advanced that would bring any conviction to me against the policy of the Government in abandoning the bounty system and introducing the percentage system. Of course, on the Budget, we could find an objection to that, and I raised an objection to that; or rather, not an objection, but I pointed out that with no reduction in taxation the amount that went to bounties before should be there from the produce of the taxation for other purposes, and that the Minister for Finance was gaining that. While, however, that was and could be raised in its proper place, I do not see how it can be advanced against the Minister for Agriculture or against an agricultural policy, but especially against the Minister for Agriculture, who has no control over that financial end.

It has been stated by speakers that we are asked to grow a crop that is uneconomic. I held to the principles of wheat growing, as I have just read them out, since 1928 and before that time. I had some doubts of the wisdom of rushing into wheat growing, for two reasons. One reason was the very cheap price at which we were getting wheat; and I thought that, in the circumstances perhaps, we could wait until the world wheat market found an economic level and that we could take advantage of buying foreign wheat at a price that no country in the world can produce it at. We can buy wheat at the present time, and for the last couple of years, at a price below the cost of production in any country in the world. For that reason, I thought it would be good business for us to take advantage of buying that dumped surplus of wheat that was available. However, as I mentioned before, a change has come over the situation because of the danger of another big war, and I was afraid, that in such an event, we would not have bread in this country. Accordingly, that has changed my opinion with regard to that aspect of it.

It has been mentioned here that we are proposing to grow wheat and that we cannot sell it at an economic price, and that an artificial price is being put on it. I put this to the House, and I think I can challenge contradiction on it, that in no wheat-growing country in the world to-day is wheat sold locally as cheaply as we can buy it on the international market. We can buy best Manitoba wheat at 13/- or 14/- a barrel. I do not think you can buy Canadian wheat at that price and I do not think the Canadian consumer can buy it. Australian wheat for home consumption is kept at an economical level so as to help the wheat growers. When we are considering the price at which we can import foreign wheat here, let us bear in mind that we are not considering a product which is put on the market here at an economic price. It is a dumped product, a surplus in wheat growing countries. About 20 wheat-growing countries have been coming together for the last three or four years with a view to agreement as to limitation of the area under wheat in the respective countries, but they are like the nations which meet in Geneva and talk about peace and disarmament. While talking about disarmament, they are arming up to the hilt at home, and these large wheat-growing countries, while talking about reducing the area under wheat, are growing as much as ever and, perhaps, more. Now, by some juggling, the price of wheat is going up, and the juggling is being carried out by these countries, so that it is not fair to consider the wheat position from the point of view of what we can buy foreign wheat at now.

There is another aspect of the question which I should have liked the Minister to develop. I am not satisfied that we are plunging into wheat growing on a large scale in an intelligent manner. The question of seed wheat has been raised by a couple of speakers. It was stated first, I think, by Deputy Minch, and his disclosures were seconded by Deputy Finlay, that in some parts of the country, spring wheat had been sold for winter wheat and vice versa. Surely, if, in this age of advanced agriculture, anything like that happens, or if there is a possibility of the like of that happening, it shows that we are not ready for the pushing wheat-growing policy which the Government is taking on. Deputy Gibbons said that they could grow wheat in Sweden, and we should be able to grow it here. Deputy Gibbons will understand that I do not mean any affront to him when I say that platitudes of that kind will lead us nowhere. Wheat can be grown in every country and every soil in the world, but to get wheat to grow as a commercial proposition, in every country in the world in which it has been introduced by man, the strain suitable for that soil and climate had to be bred, and we have not got such a strain in this country. I should be glad if the Minister were able to contradict that statement when he is replying. I want him to understand that I am not making it as an argument against wheat growing. I always favoured it and, in the new circumstances which have arisen this year, I favour a quickening of the pace for reasons I have already given.

In Canada, in Australia, and in California wheat growing was a failure until the proper strain was bred. I understand that the latest strain bred in Canada, which has put a large area of the northern regions under wheat— the Marcus strain—has been introduced here, and I should like to hear from the Minister what success has attended that strain. I should also like to know what success has attended the Red Stettin strain. That was sorted and graded out from the old wheat that was brought up by the Albert College from Tipperary about 12 or 14 years ago. It was supposed to be the descendant of a great Tipperary wheat of 70 or 80 years previously, but when examined here, this good sample was found to contain 65 different strains of wheat. It was all supposed to be Red Stettin. The Minister knows all about the strain bred from that and crossed with other strains. Great hopes were entertained in regard to its growing properties here, and I should like to hear the Minister on that when he is replying.

I should also like to hear the Minister dealing with what was a difficulty of the Department a few years ago in regard to the extensive growing of wheat. Experts there feared the extensive development of wheat growing, in the then absence of a suitable strain, because they could not stand over any wheat except the softer varieties, and these were far more liable to disease than hard wheats. They feared that the extensive growth of these wheats, before a good strain would be discovered or bred, might impregnate the land with disease and render it unsuitable for extensive wheat growing, when we would have bred a good strain by some fortunate chance. I should like to know if the Minister is quite clear that he is running no danger in what I might call this promiscuous wheat growing which is going on at present. It was mentioned that seed wheat has been imported here and that proper track was not kept as to which season it belonged to. I quite realise that the Minister, who is only three years in the Department, cannot control circumstances that must work themselves out over a far greater number of years, but I think it is a mistake to have to import any seed wheat here. The plant breeding section of the Department should be able to look after that and to provide the strains. We can grow the seed here once we have the strain. We all know that any strain of any crop introduced into this country has almost invariably been better in the second or third year, when it has become acclimatised to the soil and climate, than in the first year, so that the Department should breed the strain as quickly as they can. Until they have the proper strain bred they should select the areas to produce seed wheat, keep a proper watch over it, and sell nothing but the best and purest of the largest germinating quality.

The Minister has given us here a second schedule which gives prices. I think we have now reached a period of development in wheat growing when something more than a slap-dash system like this should be adopted. I should like to see before next seeding —if it cannot be done in this Bill, or if the Minister is not prepared to do it—a supplementary Bill introduced which would give encouragement to the cultivation of hard wheat. We all know that the easiest wheat to grow is what is known as soft wheat. The hard wheats take a long time in the ground, and are delicate growers in their early stages. The crop is a precarious one, because in the early stages, when the growth is delicate, weeds overcome the crop, and many of them have to be ploughed out. Also, on the whole, they do not give a good yield. Quite obviously, with that record behind the hard wheats, and the growers paid on a quantity basis, they will grow what will give them the greatest yield, regardless of quality or requirements. It is in the hands of the Minister, and in nobody else's hands, to ensure that a start should be made to provide our requirements in the harder wheats. They are the only wheats suitable for producing loaf bread. The softer ones are suitable for home-made soda cakes, and of course there is also a certain percentage of them used to make flour for bakers purposes.

The Minister is aware also that experiments carried out in the strains known in this country nine years ago were highly successful. The wheats we are growing in every county in the Free State are all good marketing samples, some of them equal to the best Manitoba wheat. The growing of those wheats, and the selling of them at 27/- or 24/- as the case may be, according to the time of the year and according to the bushel weight, is not as good a proposition for those hard wheats as for the soft ones. It would be well if the Minister, from the data in his own Department, would work out what would be comparative prices. Taking the price for soft wheat as a basis, he could work out what would be an equitable price for the harder wheats. I wonder whether two years is a long enough period in which to guarantee the price for wheat? I think the period should be increased, because there is just this danger of a trick in it: once the farmer is committed to providing 7,000 or 8,000 acres of land for wheat, there may be a loosening of the props that keep up that price, and he may be left with that amount of extra broken land on his hands. In the ordinary agricultural economy, an increase of 7,000 or 8,000 acres of tillage to provide a wheat crop, would mean setting in motion the breaking of about 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 acres in order to keep up the rotation. It has been mentioned here that we must grow this crop in rotation. We must, and this wheat scheme will meet its Waterloo if agriculture is not put in a position to give that stimulation in the rotation which is absolutely essential in every old country that has been cultivated for centuries.

I do not want to go into the cattle side of it, or into the economic war side of it. We had a good deal of that on a recent occasion on the Finance Bill and other things, and I expect we will have it again on the Minister's Estimate. On the question of growing wheat from lea, Deputy Finlay mentioned that it would not be much good the second year. I quite agree that it would not be worth growing the second year. I do not think it is an advisable method of farming to grow it in lea at all, either the first year or the second year, but last year I saw quite good third year wheat on lea. However, it was exceptionally good land. But I do not think it is good farming. As regards taking away value, there is no difference, in my opinion, between growing an exhaustive crop on land many years in succession, and exhausting the fertility of that land—fertility which has been built up by perhaps generations of good farming—and going in and robbing a bank. It is up to the Minister for Agriculture not alone to see that the best crops, nationally, are grown, but to see that the land is handled in the best husbandlike fashion. I am sure that neither he nor any other man in this country can get up and defend the robbing of the fertility of land in order to produce a crop for a year or two.

When the Minister was speaking I was not quite clear as to the position with regard to the monthly percentage that the miller should take. Is there any maximum limit to what the miller can take per month? Can he take his whole yearly percentage in one month if he can get it? If, say, he has to take 10 per cent. in a particular month, does that mean both the maximum and the minimum of what he can take, or does it just mean the minimum, and could he, if he wanted to, take 50 per cent. of his entire amount in that month? When wheat growing develops here I am quite sure that there will be large farmers going in for extensive wheat growing, or there will be co-operative societies which will purchase the new harvesting machine. I do not think any more than one has been introduced into this country, and I think its work last year was highly successful. With the aid of a drier it was able to deal with the headlands——

Does all this arise on this Bill?

I am speaking about wheat.

Everything connected with wheat does not arise on this Bill.

I think the Minister dealt pretty exhaustively with the necessity for driers and storage when he was introducing the Bill.

I do not want to go into the details of this. I just want to point out that with the aid of this harvester, and a drier when it was raining, it was possible to cut lodged corn with practically no waste. It was then rushed out to the drier, and the farmer got the first milling price for it. As a matter of fact I saw that harvester in operation myself. It is because of the necessity for having an open market when corn is ripe, and when perhaps harvesters of this kind would be brought into play, that I think the Minister should fix some date earlier than 1st September in case the wheat ripened before then. There should be a ready market and an open market for wheat, because if it were to be harvested by those machines it would mean that it would be threshed, dried and packed and, if he were a large grower, he would have more on his hands than any normal storage could accommodate and there should be an outlet for it. If an earlier date than the 1st September for the beginning of the cereal year were considered advisable there should, at least, be some elasticity about it. Perhaps the Minister could devise some elastic machinery to deal with an early harvest, especially where a large area would be concerned. I am emphasising the large grower, because he would be most likely to have these harvesting machines which would thresh and clean the wheat and it would be then ready for drying and storage.

I think the objections raised by Deputy Curran and Deputy Finlay were to the Minister taking control of the crop. The meaning I gathered from his statement was not apparently the meaning that those Deputies gathered. It appears to me that a system has grown up since the bounty system was introduced under which merchants could supply seed wheat to growers and the Minister held himself responsible to pay them for that wheat out of the bounty. If that is so, I think the Minister would be justified in taking some steps when there is a change in the bounty system for this year; that is, when this new crop is being marketed, the Minister will hold any money in the shape of a bounty that he could pay for that, because the merchants probably gave the seed on the understanding that the Minister would pay. I hold there is a moral obligation on the Minister to see that those merchants are paid.

On the whole, I think this is a good Bill so far as it goes. The trouble is it does not go far enough and it is not thorough enough. We want to get down to the laboratory and produce the breed of wheat suitable for this country in order to make the country a successful wheat-producing country. It is time we got down to definite action and we should have less of the political wheat-growing. What we really want is more of the scientific wheat-growing and less of the political and the sooner we have that, the better.

Dr. Ryan

There was very little criticism of this Bill except the criticism that the cost of the subsidy for wheat will be passed on to the consumer rather than to the taxpayer. It would be hard to imagine the Opposition taking any other view, seeing that they are prepared to appeal to the people on a question of this kind. We must put up with that sort of opposition as long as it is here. I would have very much more respect for Deputies opposite if they would suggest any fairer form of taxation than passing this on to the consumer. That would be a little bit too much to expect from the Opposition we have.

Are you going to make a political speech?

Dr. Ryan

No. Every Deputy on the Opposition side did introduce the political aspect about putting up the price of bread on the poor people.

Is it not gone up? What about the price of flour?

Dr. Ryan

It is extraordinary the regard they have for the poor now when they are in Opposition. I was asked what it would mean to the consumer. It would be easy for any intelligent Deputy to calculate that. It will be 20 per cent., roughly, this year, of Irish wheat; that is, one-fifth of the total wheat that goes into the mill. It will mean about 7/- on that fifth, so that on a barrel of wheat it will mean only one-fifth of 7/-. When that is brought down to flour it works out at something less than a halfpenny per 4 lb. loaf. We had a little talk about the proper rotation of crops. Some Deputies tried to give the impression that if we lose the British market we will have no more live stock in this country. I do not want to dwell on that, because it does not arise on the Bill, but the fact is that the greater part of our live stock will be found, on investigation, to be consumed in this country and not exported at all. We do not lose all our root crops even if we do lose the British market. The potato crop will remain as it is and the beet crop is increasing. I think the farmyard manure complex has got a hold on some of the Deputies opposite and it prevents them from clear thinking. There is plenty of room for more wheat in this country and we are going to grow it. We are increasing the crop. If you take a country like France or Germany they do not export any live stock or live-stock products at all and they grow all their own grain and you never hear public representatives there talking about farmyard manure. They have got over that difficulty and I think Deputies opposite should study conditions there to see how it was done.

Talking about the price of bread, we had an Economic Committee in 1928-1929. Three of the present Ministers were on that Economic Committee, the Minister for Industry and Commerce, the President and myself. At that time we were discussing the growing of wheat and we could have grown it here at 30/- a barrel without any subsidy because that was the price of imported wheat. If we grow all our own wheat here at 23/6, bread will not be as high as it was then, so that the poor will be paying less for bread that they were paying in 1928-1929. Of course the poor people then had not the unemployment assistance and widows' and orphans' pensions and other things that they have now. They can buy bread now and they could not buy it at that time.

They were not as poor then.

Dr. Ryan

The Deputy did not see them at that time because they could not come out. It is ridiculous to say they were not as poor then. It was held by the then Government that farmers would not grow wheat at 30/- a barrel. Deputy O'Sullivan, who made a very famous speech on one occasion against the growing of wheat, tells us to-day that the farmer is growing four crops in succession at 23/6 a barrel because it pays him. That is a most extraordinary change-over for the Opposition from their 1928-29 attitude. I did not expect our policy would carry such conviction as it has carried to the Opposition in a few short years.

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Dr. Ryan

That is a different matter. I was asked by Deputy O'Sullivan what would be the extra cost of storage and drying. There is something in that point. If the millers are compelled to provide storage and drying they will charge a little more for the flour on account of the extra cost and that will be passed on to the bread and on to the consumer. Deputy Minch says there is sufficient storage accommodation in the country. There probably is, but if we pass this Bill we will at least compel the flour millers to look for that accommodation and engage it before the harvest comes along. That is all we require for this year, anyhow. I do not think there will be any building necessary at all for this year. I was trying to find out what the storage costs would be. At the present time as far as I can get figures I believe that the drying would be about 6d. per barrel and the storage somewhere about 1½d. per barrel per month. It is small in any case.

2/- per 100 barrels per week.

Dr. Ryan

That would be about 1d. a barrel roughly per month.

What about the handling costs?

Dr. Ryan

I am only speaking now about drying and storage. Drying, if it does not take place by mechanical process, will take place over a period. A certain amount of moisture goes out of the wheat. As to the handling costs, I think the handling would be about 6d. a barrel. I have not got very firm figures on these matters, but the figures will settle down as time goes on. We have no great experience of what the cost will be and what the agents and buyers will charge the millers for buying, storing, drying, and so on. These costs are not going to be very heavy at all events. Deputy O'Sullivan made a point against me that I said we had to thank Providence for the harvest being so good for the last couple of years. If we had wet harvests we would have had trouble. We had quite sufficient storage last year, but we might have some trouble if we had a wet harvest this year with an increased acreage under wheat. But if the increase in the acreage goes on we will meet with trouble in a few years.

As to the question of the minimum price to be paid, we are fixing a price under penalties. Apart from the minimum price, we say to the miller: "You must take a certain amount of wheat this month." We fix that amount. We make them take the whole amount that is allotted. We estimate that there will be 20,000 barrels, or whatever it may be, on offer by the farmers, and we fix the amount for that month accordingly. The miller must go out and look for it, and the farmer has as good bargaining power as the miller. He can hold out for the proper price.

Can the miller pay more than the minimum?

Dr. Ryan

He can.

But he is not likely to.

Dr. Ryan

He may pay more for good quality wheat. Now we come to the bushelling regulations under Section 13. We want to make regulations that would make this system of bushelling as fool-proof as it possibly can be made, so that it would be difficult for a merchant if he wants to do so to defraud the farmer. I think we will be able to make it difficult for any merchant or dealer to defraud the farmer.

We can compel the millers under this Bill to take a certain percentage of wheat during any month or every month. It is not a matter of going on for one, two or three months and then stopping. We can go on through the whole year if necessary, according to the amount to be marketed by the farmers. The intention is to take the wheat from the farmers. If the farmers hold the wheat until January, February or March to get the higher prices then a certain percentage will be held over. We will get the full percentage absorbed in that way eventually.

Certain Deputies mentioned the matter of seed wheat. As far as I know there were only two places where winter wheat was sold as spring wheat. It did not do well. It grew only in a poor way and was a serious loss to the farmers. Deputy Belton showed that he had given the question of seed a good deal of consideration. He said we were only two years working. That is true. As the scheme stands it pays the farmer more or less to import wheat. He is able to sell his own wheat and he is able to buy clean seed. The seed he buys is usually imported. We will have to give very much more consideration to this matter than has been given. I agree in that matter with Deputy Belton. As the Deputy knows, we have had a great deal of experimental work carried out in the growing of suitable varieties in the Albert College and on other farms. Even where a variety has been proved suitable it takes a number of years to get a sufficiency of seed grown. The scientific people are doing as much as they possibly can to produce good varieties. In the meantime, we are getting good crops and we are producing good wheat. I do not think our varieties are bad at all. There is no reason why we should not improve the varieties and get strains of wheat more suitable to the soil and climate.

Does not the Minister think that the time has come when it is advisable to fix a price for hard wheat?

Dr. Ryan

I have a note of that. I was dealing with this question of winter wheat being given out as spring wheat. It only occurred in two places—two individual merchants. It was two lots of wheat, but it may have meant 600 acres or 700 acres of wheat altogether. Naturally for the farmers concerned it is a very serious thing. It is a thing about which we will have to be careful in the future. I do not think it is true that millable wheat was put into the maize mixture. They would not be allowed to do that. I sold wheat myself under this scheme as millable wheat and small wheat at the same time. For the maize meal mixture the small wheat may be all right. Possibly that is what happened in the case Deputy Bennett had in mind. If the miller bought millable wheat as part of his flour mixture it would be illegal to put it into maize mixture. Millable wheat is defined in the regulations if any Deputy wants to look it up. Deputy Finlay is wrong in his interpretation of the 40 per cent. There is no such thing as saying that we will take only 40 per cent. from the grower. The amount will be based upon the amount of wheat the farmer has to offer. If the farmer has the wheat to offer we would take 100 per cent. from him. If there are only 40 per cent. of the farmers offering wheat we would take it from them but that does not mean that we would take only 40 per cent. of that wheat.

Can the miller take the whole quota in one month if he could get it?

Dr. Ryan

There is nothing to prevent him. I think Deputy Curran is unfair in suggesting that we should not carry out with the merchant the undertaking he entered into with the Minister. The merchant was asked to undertake his scheme and to give out the seed. The merchant gave out the seed and the farmer authorised the Minister to pay the merchants out of what was due to them in the way of bounty. Under this Bill the bounty goes, and instead of that I am taking a lien on the crop. I am not doing anything more on the farmer than was done the other way about. Under that scheme, if the bounty was not sufficient to pay the merchant the merchant could go against the farmer in other ways. We had about 25,000 growers this year, but it is only a small part of the farmers we are dealing with under this scheme.

It is a bad principle.

Dr. Ryan

Surely the principle of trying to get people to perform their obligations is not a bad one.

The principle of taking over the farmer's crop is a bad one.

Dr. Ryan

The Deputy has a bad outlook on these matters. Deputy Belton asked about the varieties of wheat— Marquis and Red Stettin. I was not concerned so much with the strong wheat as with the softer because about two-thirds of our wheat goes into household flour and that requires a soft wheat. Last year we tried Marquis wheat in a few places and the results appear to be very good. As soon as the results can be given in a scientific way I shall be very glad to let Deputies have them. I think Red Stettin is not so promising and would never turn out as well as Marquis.

Is Marquis beating Yeoman?

Dr. Ryan

The reports I got are that it looks good.

Will the Minister offer a prize for hard wheat?

Dr. Ryan

I have a note on that. The advantage about Marquis is that it is a strong variety. I think it is an advantage to the farmer to get his land sown in the autumn. You will have a cleaner crop. If Marquis turns out as good as it seems it will be a great advantage. Deputies raised the point that soft wheats were liable to disease. Well with regard to the point that we should give more encouragement to strong wheats over soft wheats——

Measured by the comparative yield?

Dr. Ryan

As the Deputy has already said, the miller is permitted to pay more than the minimum price. Some imported strong wheats are dearer than soft wheats. Therefore, if the miller is giving the minimum price for soft wheats he may of his own volition give a better price for hard wheats. Apart from that, the matter will have to have consideration in the near future. We were not concerned about hard wheat before, but if our acreage goes up another 200,000 we may have to consider it.

I think it would be a great improvement to have it in this Bill.

Dr. Ryan

I think we could even do it in this Bill, and I will look into that. Deputy Belton thinks that two years is not enough. The reason why two years was adopted was to give the farmers an opportunity of bringing in wheat in rotation. I think good wheat is grown on lea land. I have seen it in my own place and as a second crop it appears to be better if the land is properly manured. Of course, farmers may not have the particular kind of land. Some farmers do not approve of sowing in lea land. We say to them "break your land now; sow a crop of oats and next year, sow wheat." I tell Deputy Belton that is the guarantee from the Fianna Fáil Government and they will be in for many years.

I would like a stronger guarantee than that.

Dr. Ryan

You could not get a better guarantee.

If wheat-growing is resting upon that I am afraid of it.

Dr. Ryan

The only other question was the question of guaranteed price. The guaranteed price is the minimum. No miller is bound down to that. There is no penalty for paying more than the minimum price or for demanding more wheat in any month.

On the question of the quota would the Minister consider not going on the lines of making the quota and then if it is excessive reducing it? Instead of fixing the quota in that way would he change it to a certain figure and raise it by degrees? A quota is made under which 8, 9 or 10 per cent. of native grain has to be mixed and then three months later the Minister can issue an order increasing it by another ¾ per cent. Might it not be better if the Minister reduced rather than increased the quota?

Dr. Ryan

We have that power.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday 25th June.

Up to what date will amendments be received?

Up to 12 o'clock on Monday.