Would the Minister say what diseases he has in mind other than those mentioned in paragraph (a) of Section 2?
Committee on Finance. - Diseases of Animals Bill, 1935—Committee.
Tuberculosis, for the present, at any rate.
I think it is right that the Minister should take this occasion to emphasise something that might create apprehension in the public mind. He might make it plain that while this Bill might have reference to the Roscrea factory in so far as it deals with uneconomic cows and old cattle, not giving a return in milk, or paying for their keep, the provisions that have reference to diseased cattle are quite apart from the Roscrea factory, and that there is no intention whatever of the powers to deal with diseased cattle being used directly or indirectly in the Roscrea factory. I can conceive that certain parts of diseased cattle, for example, skins, or the conversion of diseased carcases into artificial fertilisers, might be processed in Roscrea. But I suggest that the Minister might state categorically what his intentions are, so that the public mind might be clear as to the distinction between uneconomic cows to be slaughtered by the Minister under the Bill and diseased cows which are to be slaughtered and disposed of and not processed at Roscrea at all.
That matter was mentioned on Second Reading, I think. The Roscrea factory is meant to deal with old and uneconomic cows that are not likely to be fit to be used as beef, but are not diseased. But we cannot guarantee that diseased cows would not be delivered in any circumstances there. It is possible they will. But there will be veterinary inspectors there as they are attached to other places. It is possible that a process will be done on hides, and fats, and for conversion into edible meal. There is no process for consumption in this factory. However, the place must be looked after and proper veterinary examination will take place of all animals received. With regard to tuberculosis, I did mention that local authorities were not taking as drastic action as they might for the elimination of tuberculosis, and that is the reason we are proposing under this Bill to take over the administration in that matter in a number of counties for some time. It is only meant to take over that power in a county which had supplied cattle to Roscrea and to clear up that county, and then hand it back to the local authority to go on with the administration under the Principal Act. I did say we do not contemplate dealing with any other disease except tuberculosis at the moment. I do not want any misapprehension under that, because we are taking power to deal with any disease. For instance, it was suggested to us some time ago that we should take over the administration of dealing with the Bacillary White Diarrhoea in poultry. I do not think it would be necessary, but if there should be any further trouble with diseases of that kind we would have the power under the amending Act without further legislation.
Do you notice that there is an amendment to this section?
I have informed the Deputy concerned that that amendment is out of order, as it obviously increases the charge on the Exchequer.
My idea in putting down the amendment was to provide that compensation should be paid at a rate that will enable the animal to be replaced. The Minister says that some counties are not using their powers as drastically as they ought to, and one of the reasons why I put down the amendment was because I thought the Minister would use his powers too drastically. I have no objection to the Minister turning round and dealing with cattle which are in a very advanced state and destroying them, but I fear that the veterinary surgeons in going into the farmer's place might go much further than that. It is a well-known fact that a great many cows which are healthy-looking cows are, when tested, found to be suffering from tuberculosis. My idea in putting the amendment was to bring it home to the Minister that after all if that policy were persisted in and pursued drastically it would be a great hardship on farmers unless they were compensated. If the State wants to do this thing, or a thing of that kind, there is no reason why the State should not pay for it. I put down this amendment in order to have an opportunity of discussing it on the section. It is a very serious matter for the people of the country to have the veterinary surgeons given all this power. I know the veterinary surgeons are out to push this business to very great extremes.
I would like to assure Deputy O'Leary that there is no great danger that there will be any wrong done to anybody, because under the Principal Act provision is provided for compensation. It is laid down that the compensation to be given is the value that an ordinary person at an ordinary market would pay for the beast if he were not aware that the beast was suffering from any disease. That value is agreed upon by the local authorities' veterinary surgeon, and I am told that the value is generous. If they do not agree there is provision for an arbitrator, but it has not been known that an arbitrator was called in.
It is the market value that is given?
Yes, the price that would be given if the person buying the animal were not aware it was suffering from any disease. If, on slaughter, it is found that the beast was not suffering from tuberculosis, then the owner gets the value plus £1. That is the Order. If it is found that the tuberculosis is not in a very advanced state the owner gets three-fourths of the value, and if it is in a very advanced state he gets one-fourth. We mean to raise that one-fourth provision, because we must bring the value of the beast, no matter how advanced a state she is in, to the Roscrea level, that is, to £2 10s. 0d. The effect will be the raising of the figures all round as far as compensation is concerned. In some cases at present the owner gets only £1 or 25/-, but now he must get at least £2 10s. 0d. I think when we take over the administration we shall give a little more generous compensation than has been given. I might also say that where the veterinary surgeons go around and detect this disease in a herd the owner will naturally be better compensated than if the beast had been allowed to remain another six months and became more advanced. The more vigorous our examination is, the better it will be in the end for the owners of the herds.