I move amendment No. 1:—
To delete paragraph "c" and substitute therefore a new paragraph as follows:—
(c) to supervise and control the testing and analyses of commodities intended for sale or for use by the public and where necessary or expedient for such effective supervision and control, to test and analyse such commodities and to publish the results of such tests and analyses.
I think I raised on the Second Stage a question as to the implementation of paragraph (c) which defines the functions of the institute. That paragraph reads:—
"To test and analyse commodities intended for sale or for use by the public and to publish the results of such tests and analyses."
The difficulty in that section as it stands is this, as an enabling section it is certainly wide enough to cover whatever powers the Minister wants, and as a mere enabling section it is not objectionable. But, in my opinion, it is rather too wide. The clause is wide enough to embrace as part of the functions of the Research Institute the whole gamut of analyses under the Food and Drugs Acts and so forth. In fact, it is wide enough to constitute the institute a super public analyst, in fact a State institution for carrying out the duties of a public analyst. I think I am right in saying that that is not the Minister's intention, that the intention is to set up a bill of standards, which will define the necessary standards, and that this clause is simply to enable him to make that function effective. For that reason, I am moving this amendment. It all boils down to this: does the Minister intend to set up a very elaborate public analyst department, or is it simply to enable the section to give effect to the standards laid down by the bill of standards?
I see another difficulty in this Bill as it stands. It is so wide that I can see it applying itself to such matters as food regulations under the Public Health Bill, when it becomes law, or the Food and Drugs Acts as they stand. There is a big question as regards the existing public analyst. Does this measure, as it stands, encroach upon the functions of public analysts as they exist? For the information of the House, I might mention what probably every Deputy knows, that it is mandatory on every local authority to appoint a public analyst. These public analysts, in fact, fulfil an important function. They carry out analyses referred to them, either by these bodies or by private persons, with a view to seeing that commodities conform, or otherwise; and they further carry out a useful function of general analyses for the convenience of the public and of industrial firms. As this paragraph stands there is a threat to these public analysts. I do not think it is the Minister's intention to act in any way to the detriment of these analysts but, for the purpose of clarifying the situation, I move this amendment. I think the function that is required is merely one of supervising and making sure that the standards laid down are effective. In actual practice the normal way would be that public analysts would function as heretofore, determine the agreement, or otherwise, of the commodities with the standards laid down and the function of the institute would be to co-ordinate and control these standards.
There is one other matter, which is of no little interest to the House, in this connection. It is the question of finance. If, on the one hand, the intention is merely to have a bureau of standards with the necessary machinery for making it effective, while the work of analyses is carried out by public analysts, then the size of the institute and the equipment involved need not be excessive. If, on the other hand, it is visualised that the institute will itself carry out such analyses and will itself arrange for control I can see a much greater expenditure being involved—a much greater expenditure as regards staff, equipment and accommodation, for work which is being done now as economically as it can be done under the present system of public analysts. In other words, the routine of analyses and the implementation of the standards laid down in their application to ordinary commodities is no part of the ordinary function of an institute like this and, therefore, that work should be left to the public analyst. It is for that reason that I move this amendment.