Livestock Marts Bill, 1967: Committee Stage (Resumed).

Debate resumed on the following amendment:
In line 15 to delete "or otherwise".
—(Deputy Clinton).

In the course of discussing this amendment, we seem to have got away from the principal reasons why, in fact, I put it down. We got back to the actual draftsmanship. It is not draftsmanship that I am so much concerned with as the right of people to go to the trouble of breeding calves, rearing them and bringing them up to the point where they are fit for sale. I am concerned that these people should be free to sell particular stock where they like, when they like and how they like, and that no legislation we bring into this House should prevent a man from selling his stock in his own yard, his own haggard, his own field, on the road adjoining or, for that matter, on a fair green or on a street in the village or town. He should be free to do that. If we allow this measure to go through without my amendment, the farmer certainly will not have this freedom. Somebody can come along and say to him: "You are breaking the law", and nobody can say that he is not breaking the law.

People are entitled to know where they stand and there is a lack of clarity about which we have been complaining throughout the Bill. There is no use in the Minister giving us his version of it. We want the thing clarified in writing in the legislation so that nobody can be under any misapprehension later and so that later on a man can say definitely: "I am free to sell my own beast in my own yard and free to let my neighbour send up his cow and have it sold in my yard." If we let this section go through as it stands, nobody can be happy. I would ask the Minister to think seriously about this and decide that the way to do it is by putting it in clear writing to be understood by all and sundry.

The Minister must know about certain contracts in that part of rural Ireland from which he comes and with which many of us are familiar. Certainly when I was associated with Donegal it was common practice, when you brought cattle to a fair, that you brought them the night before and left them either in a neighbour's field or in a neighbour's yard. It is not at all impossible in those circumstances that you would meet a buyer whom you know—a buyer such as Deputy Corry waxed eloquent about last night—who was in the habit of giving a higher price than offered at the fair and you would be glad to bring him into the yard and ask him if he would buy them on the standing of the fair.

That is the point of view of the livestock proprietor. I know more than one person living in very modest circumstances in rural Ireland, notably at the edge of a town where a fair is ordinarily held, who adds not even substantially to his annual income by taking cattle into a field the night before a fair. I ask the Minister, assuming the definition stands here, if we are not in danger of bringing within the definition section of this Bill such fields or yards as I describe. I am perfectly certain that nobody in Dáil Éireann wants to do it. Are we not in danger of doing it inadvertently by leaving the words "or otherwise" there? What can the words "or otherwise" add to the definition section? They are simply put in as a kind of carry-all to cover every contingency, but I do not think that even those who advocate this Bill want to cover every contingency. It is meant to cover what is commonly known in Ireland as a cattle mart. It is not meant to cover the sale of Deputy Clinton's cattle in my field or yard.

I apprehend if the amendment as proposed by Deputy Clinton is not accepted, that if he drives two or more cattle into my yard on Wednesday night, meets a buyer and brings him into the yard on Thursday morning and sells his cattle there, I have committed a breach of the law because I have permitted cattle to be sold, or otherwise, on premises which were not licensed by the Minister under this Bill for the purposes of selling livestock by auction or providing a place adapted for the sales of livestock by auction or otherwise.

The definition section is by no means easy to understand as it is at present, but the words "or otherwise" seem to expand far beyond what is its intention or the desire of the definition to do. Perhaps the Minister would indicate that he is advised that the words "or otherwise" make it a technical statutory offence for me to admit Deputy Clinton's cattle to my yard and permit Deputy Clinton to negotiate with a third party, or parties, for their purchase in my yard, although my yard was not a licensed place for the purposes of this Bill.

Mr. Barrett

This is a most necessary amendment. The Minister will agree that the use of the words "or otherwise" throws entirely too wide a net on a matter of this nature. It is all very well for the Minister to say that this will be interpreted reasonably. The law is there and there is no question of reasonable interpretation or otherwise; it is there. There is no word more capable of undesirable expansion than the word "otherwise". If the Minister has certain contingencies in mind, let him state them in black and white and insert them in the Bill. Dáil Éireann should not permit itself to enact legislation of this nature with wide, meaningless and, at the same time, meaningful terms. They cover all the eventualities to which Deputy Clinton has referred and to which Deputy Dillon has referred. Their inclusion will cause endless trouble later on if the section were capriciously enforced. I would ask the Minister to accept the amendment suggested by Deputy Clinton.

It appears to me there is an unnecessary amount of suspicion caused by a very few words.

Suspicion, or otherwise.

It is quite unnecessary, and I am surprised that Deputy M.J. O'Higgins, a man of legal qualification, has not been able to get through this discussion without creating these meaningless difficulties. In this Bill, section I says:

"business of a livestock mart" means the business of selling livestock by auction...


Or otherwise.

Look at the placing of the comma.

If only the Deputies would read the section and not what they think they would like the section to read. "Business of a livestock mart" means the business of selling livestock by auction——

Or otherwise.

With the muttering of Deputy Collins——

Muttering is one thing I cannot be accused of.

Maybe the Deputy does not mutter normally but he was muttering that time. If the Deputy would look at the section, he might understand it.

The Deputy knows as much about it as my Aunt Fanny knows about snipe-shooting.

Can we go back to this business, without interruption from Fine Gael, who are trying to make difficulties where none exist? "Business of a livestock mart" means the business of selling livestock by auction. There is no contention that there is anything wrong so far——

...or providing,...

This is an entirely separate phrase: you have the business, which means the business of selling, but this definition of the business of a livestock mart also means—providing a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction, or otherwise, if you like to put it in there. Therefore, there are two definite conditions here: one is the business of a livestock mart, that is, selling livestock by auction——

The whole lot is the definition of "livestock mart"; the whole lot is included in the business of the livestock mart.

There is also the question of providing a place adapted for livestock sales.

And the holding of sales by auction, or otherwise.

Mr. Barrett

But what does "otherwise" mean?

As I see it, if those words were not in, we would get into an endless argument with people who were adapting places for the sale of livestock and who could say: "We do not come under this measure simply because sales which will be carried on in those places which we are specially providing for the sale of livestock, will not be by auction".

That is perfectly all right; it is not intended to capture that.

What we are trying to do here is to see that anyone who adapts premises for the sale of livestock, whether that sale is by auction or any other way, who is providing special premises for the sale of livestock, comes under this Act—by way of auction or otherwise.

We are all agreed.

We are all agreed. Therefore you can withdraw the amendment.

Mr. Barrett

That is where the danger arises.

If you agree with my interpretation of the section, you will withdraw the amendment.

Deputy Booth is agreeing with us.

Would the Deputy send a note down to the Minister?

If Deputy Clinton were to take Deputy Dillon's cattle in and sell them, I cannot see anybody catching Deputy Dillon on that, but if Deputy Dillon, as a matter of practice, had adapted part of his own farm for the sale of Deputy Clinton's cattle or anybody else's cattle, then he would be coming into the livestock business.

No; the words "or otherwise" catch sales which are not conducted by auction.

The business there is that "or otherwise" only comes in when you are adapting premises for the sale of livestock. If you are going to adapt part of your premises for the sale of other people's cattle, you are thereby going into the livestock business.

Not unless it be by auction.

I know myself of a widow who has a small shop which provides her with a very meagre income. But annexed to the shop is a field—right next door—and she habitually takes in cattle on the eve of a fair, because people do not want to drive cattle four of five miles to a fair; they like a night's sleep beforehand. She gets, maybe 2/6d. or 5/- a head once a month for accommodating 20 or 30 cattle in a small field. I remember the late Senator Sheridan used to buy blue heifers; if you had blue heifers in that field, you would ask him to come in, because he was a great buyer of blue heifers, and he might have one or two men working for him. As I see it, the words "or otherwise", as Deputy Booth points out, would bring that transaction under the control of this Bill, which manifestly the Minister does not intend to do. But you would want to live in the country to know that that practice obtains; to understand that it is a regular practice; the field is adapted for that purpose and, in fact, it is used for no other purpose.

How is a field adapted?

By putting a gate on it and a fence around it.

Surely you have to do that in any field in which you have livestock?

That is the only purpose for which the field is used. This is a very necessary part of rural life, but I doubt if there is a Deputy living in rural Ireland who does not know of some town or village in his constituency where somebody conducts that trifling business.

But in order to adapt a place——

That is an interpretation of adaptation.

There is no question whatsoever, nor is there any implication in the section, or in the part of it being discussed, that sales in the manner outlined by Deputy Dillon, in the widow's field somewhere down the country, will be interfered with in the slightest degree by the words contained in the phrase which are objected to.

Deputy Booth will note that—that the Minister does not intend it.

I am saying categorically that it is not. You are trying to lead Deputy Booth, not up the widow's field but up the garden path.

I did not try to lead him up the garden path.

The Minister is leading the whole Fianna Fáil Party up the garden path now.

That is more than anybody in the Deputy's Party can say.

The Taoiseach would want to put a gate on the field and keep the Minister in it.

Deputies will have to cease interruption; otherwise we will not be able to discuss this amendment.

Getting back to this, there is beyond doubt now the clear intention of Fine Gael to confuse the matter rather than to clarify it. The words "or otherwise" which they talk about here are not being used in any context except in the context of this particular document.

Surely "otherwise" means you can use it in any context?

If we were to put it at the end of it, instead of where it is, then we would have something about which you would really be confused. Deputy Booth was on the right track and the attempt was to draw him off it, which was not to clarify but to confuse. The "otherwise" which is there is qualified, qualified clearly and absolutely, in that the "otherwise" is in regard to a place that has been "adapted for the sale of livestock by auction". "Adapted for the sale of livestock by auction" is the phrase, not just "adapted for the sale of livestock".

Yes, but the sale could be otherwise than by auction in a place adapted for the sale of livestock.

This is the point.

And that is captured.

Dead on the button, this is captured, and that is one of the reasons, possibly the primary reason, why "otherwise" is in there.

So that even a private sale, if it takes place in a place adapted for auction, is captured?

The "otherwise" is in for exactly that purpose, to prevent the absolute open evasion of the licensing provision in such a place adapted for the sale by auction of livestock other than by auction. It is to capture that that it is in.

What the Minister is saying would seem reasonable to me were it not for one thing which, frankly, I do not see in the Bill and I think it is the crux of the matter. When is a place "adapted for the sale of livestock by auction"? There is no definition in the Bill as to what is required in the adaptation of a place for the sale of livestock by auction. The only requirement is that you hold an auction. An auction can be held right in this room. It is frequently held in a lot of places in this House. All you need is somebody to take bids and to hold an auction. You can do it in any field. You can do it in Deputy Dillon's field.

It is obviously the commonsense interpretation of what would be "adapted for the sale of livestock".

It is not in the Bill.

If everything was to go into the Bill that we could say about it we would have a Bill that you would be screaming to have brought down to short terms and precise and concise terms in order to reduce the size of the document.

I understood in the discussion before Question Time that the Minister had a specific type of transaction in mind when he included the words "or otherwise" in this definition section and that was the sale by hand. It was suggested that he should write that into the Bill and clarify the position. As the definition stands if, for example, to put it at its worst, the proprietor of a livestock mart wishes to sell his own cattle privately on his premises he cannot do it without committing an offence under this section. I put it to the Minister before Question Time that if he were asked simply to say what "or otherwise" means in any context he would probably say that it was in some way other than the manner specified. I want to put it to him now that he would probably say "in any other way" and consequently if you take "by auction or otherwise" that means by auction or otherwise than by auction and every single thing is captured, every transaction, provided it takes place in a place which has been adapted for the sale of livestock by auction. That is not defined. I suggested to the Minister this morning, and I still think that I am right in this, that if you take any open paddock, if you put up some fences for the purpose of penning sheep before dipping, that then has been adapted, it is then suitable——

For dipping, not for auction.

Yes, but incidentally it has become suitable by reason of its adaptation for use for the sale of livestock by auction because then you have a place where the paddock is fenced, where different lots of cattle can be kept in different quarters of the field, it is then adapted in such a way that it can be used for the sale of livestock by auction. As far as I can see that place is then captured by this definition.

It is quite a nice debating point but I am quite sure the Deputy and his colleagues would be the first to admit that pens that were put up to facilitate the dipping of sheep and incidentally or coincidentally could also be used for the sale by auction of these sheep either dipped or undipped clearly is not what is mentioned in this section here.

It would not be if this read "adapted for use" or "adapted for the purpose of the sale of livestock by auction" but all this says is "a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction". It does not matter what the adaptation is.

I am not saying that this will necessarily be the only determining factor. To adapt a place for sale of livestock by auction clearly implies the intention as well as the structure. It is the clear reading of it there. I know there are good debating points the other way but they are not the essence of the Bill at all.

This has been said to the Minister often before on many Bills. The Minister must not forget that if this section is to be construed in the courts under the rules of construction the court must look only at the words used and at nothing else. The Minister's statements or what is said about the policy behind the Act have nothing to do with the construction. It is merely what words are used and "sales of livestock by auction or otherwise" includes all sales of livestock, every kind of sale. It is as wide as any phrase could be. These words here, once you use "or otherwise" if you do not define what you mean by "adapted for the sale of livestock by auction", if you do not define that and leave it wide it means that any interference with a place or field, the putting up of a fence or a gate which is followed by any sale of livestock, that is clearly covered by this section.

We are altogether forgetting the first word in the definition and that is "business", "business of a livestock mart". Let us not go away and lose ourselves in the third and fourth line and forget what has gone before. The "business of a livestock mart" and the putting up of a fence in a field in which you happened to have cattle and some dealer comes along and buys them surely to the Lord there is nobody over there, least of all the legal people, who will say that this will be construed as a place for which a licence is required.

Not in a single case, I agree.

It must be more than single isolated cases.

What you are doing is defining "business of a livestock mart" by reference to what comes afterwards.

May I put it this way——

It is an artificial definition.

It is all very well to criticise what is in this and say what it might contain or what it does not contain but perhaps now that the Deputy is on it he might clearly stake his reputation on saying what it clearly does mean?

I shall in a minute.

If the definition of the expression "or otherwise" is dependent on the definition of "adapted" then we should have had the second amendment before the first one.

You should have the two together.

It is not dependent because the Minister made it quite clear before Question Time that what he had in mind was that it was sale by auction or by hand or by something that they have in Donegal and in no other part of the country sale by foot——

That is not right. I would ask the Deputy to correct that before I have to do so.

I am glad the Minister says it is not correct.

It is not correct because the Deputy is taking it out of context.

If "or otherwise" is a limited term, we should know the limitation.

It is not the term that is limited.

It is not stated clearly.

Of course it is.

There is no limitation on the words "adaptation" or "adapted". I have seen hundreds of cows and hundreds of calves sold in a farmer's yard where the only adaptation was the placing of a few bales of straw to make comfortable seating under cover for people who were there to bid.

It must be licensed.

That is what we are saying.


If it is not licensed in future, and if anyone is caught selling in this manner, even if he is selling his own beasts, he will be put in jail for six months.

The exemption: do not confuse the issue.

He will be put in jail for six months.

May I ask the Minister a question? Can I hold an auction in a farmer's yard without referring to the Minister?

That will be dealt with on a later section.

It does not arise on this amendment.

It will be dealt with adequately and to the Deputy's satisfaction. I am sure of that.

As I have said already, this question of "or otherwise" is all-embracing, as I see it. I have seen large numbers of cows and large numbers of calves sold in a farmer's yard. This will now be caught under this legislation by "or otherwise".

Not at all.

There is no use in the Minister telling us——

There is no use in the Deputy telling me. It has the same effect.

We have a duty and a responsibility here to try to get this sort of thing clarified. There is no use in the Minister saying: "That is not my intention." It has been pointed out on several occasions that this must be written in in black and white, because the people who will interpret the Bill afterwards will act only according to what is written into the Bill and nothing else, more or less.

May I just follow that by saying that if the people who follow us do exactly what the Deputy says, they will not do many of the things the Deputy has said they are capable of doing.

The Minister and Deputy Cunningham——

Do not mind the Minister and Deputy Cunningham. Look after your own people.

Deputy Cunningham is not in favour of the Bill.

I spoke in favour of it yesterday.

It is important that the Minister and Deputy Cunningham disagree with regard to the application——

So the Deputy says.

When Deputy Clinton spoke about the farmer's yard with some bales of straw put down to provide seating accommodation, Deputy Cunningham intervened to say that they required to be licensed.

Or exempted.

"Or otherwise".


Deputy Booth has fled. Deputy Cunningham will be next.

When two Fianna Fáil Deputies from Donegal cannot agree, there is a poor chance for a Deputy from Dublin County. Deputy Cunningham's intervention in this discussion has been very useful because he made it quite clear that, notwithstanding the case put up by the Minister, in the circumstances outlined by Deputy Clinton, Deputy Cunningham's judgment is that that place must be licensed under the Act or else another section of the Act must be invoked to exempt it.

This is not in the amendment we are discussing.

It was Deputy Cunningham who raised it.

It was not.

He said it must be licensed or exempted. Am I misquoting the Deputy?

Deal with the amendment.

What did Deputy Cunningham say?

Neatly twisted.

Every person must——

What person?

The person Deputy Clinton described with such remarkable clarity.

That is not relevant to this discussion.

That does not arise on the amendment. There is no question of a licence on the amendment.

Let me explain.


Sit down.

Now three Donegal Deputies from the Fianna Fáil Party are all taking different views. Let me explain this to the Minister from Donegal, to Deputy Cunningham from Donegal, and to the Leas-Cheann Comhairle from Donegal.

Explain it to yourself.

This is the definition section.

We are not discussing the section. We are discussing Deputy Clinton's amendment to delete two words.

From the section.

We are not on the section.

We will get an opportunity to deal with the section when we have dealt with the amendment.

This is an amendment to section 1 of the Livestock Marts Bill. The section is the definition section which has no subsection. The particular portion of the Livestock Marts Bill which Deputy Clinton's amendment seeks to amend is that portion of the definition section of the Livestock Marts Bill which states that the "business of a livestock mart" means the business of selling livestock by auction or providing, for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise ..." Deputy Clinton seeks to delete the words "or otherwise".

Providing a place.

There is a comma after the word "otherwise". I paused when I came to the comma—"a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction". The importance of this definition is that it is only livestock marts which fall within that definition that will fall subsequently to be governed by the provisions of this Act dealing with licences, and that is the relevance of Deputy Cunningham's intervention when he said that a person in the position described by Deputy Clinton would require either to be licensed or exempted.

The Minister asked me if I would stake my reputation on the meaning I gave to this. That is certainly a 64 dollar question. I am trying to point out to the Minister, to Deputy Cunningham and to other Donegal Deputies that it is extremely hard to find out what this section means so long as the words which Deputy Clinton wants to have deleted remain in the section. At least I can go as far as this: if the phrase "by auction or otherwise" is used in an Act of Parliament, that means "by auction or otherwise than by auction".

That is terrific.

Very clever.

I am prepared to stake my reputation on that.

We are unanimous.

If we take the phrase "by auction or otherwise", we mean otherwise than by auction. Obviously any sale that is not a sale by auction is affected by the definition of this section.

Remember the little lines afterwards.

I am giving my interpretation.

I should hate to see the Deputy losing his reputation.

We are coming to that. If the words "or otherwise" are taken out, we are all quite clear. It refers then only to sales by auction. Is that quite clear to Deputies Booth and Cunningham?

What we are talking about is the adaptation of places. The Deputy is ignoring that because it is awkward.

I am still at the comma. We are coming to the other point.

Explain the comma.

We are coming to the situation in which if the words "or otherwise" are taken out, nobody will have any difficulty. We shall all know then that it does not refer to a sale otherwise than by auction.

That is brilliant.

The Minister, staunchly supported by Deputy Booth, is anxious to make the point, which is a perfectly valid point, that this definition falls into two parts. In the first part, there is the selling of livestock by auction. If Deputy Booth wants to expand his knowledge a little further, livestock refers in this context to cattle, sheep and pigs only.

Do not take credit for that—it is in the Bill.

That is the first part, but it does not stop there. It does not merely mean the auctioning of cattle, sheep and pigs. The business of livestock marts can be carried on without a person selling by auction a cow, a sheep or a pig. It can be carried on by the provision of a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction.

Very right and proper, too.

If a person provides for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise——

Provides a place.

Exactly. If a person provides such a place for the holding of sales of livestock by auction, or in the context in which we are discussing this, otherwise than by auction in such a place, he is also carrying on the business of a livestock mart under this definition.

That is the intention.

He must be licensed or exempt, according to Deputy Cunningham.

If such a place is provided, a licence will subsequently be required, if this Act is not amended, not merely for the selling of livestock by auction but the selling of livestock by private sale. The licence——

The question of the licence does not arise on the amendment. It may on the section but definitely not on Deputy Clinton's amendment.

That is why the amendment has been inserted—to prevent the licence arising.

For some months past we have had the understanding that the Minister has been anxious to get a Bill which would enable him to license, at his entire discretion, places where this type of business is carried on. It was made reasonably clear by the Minister, even when he addressed himself to this amendment earlier, that his concern has been in relation to auctions carried on at such places and that he wanted to avoid that intention of his being defeated because of a particular transaction known as the selling of livestock by hand. All this is in relation to what will require a licence or require, as Deputy Cunningham very sagaciously pointed out earlier, to be exempt from the Act. That is the whole importance of the definition. We must decide what will or will not require to be licensed.

It does not arise on Deputy Clinton's amendment. It may arise on the section and Deputies will then have an opportunity of dealing with it.

I am prepared to bow to the Chair's ruling, right or otherwise.

Maybe it is otherwise.

We are clear on this——

Who is clear on what? I am absolutely clear, not you.

Are we clear on this——

That is better.

——that this definition which the Minister is proposing to the House, if it is not altered by Deputy Clinton's amendment, will govern not only sales of livestock by auction but the sale of livestock in any other manner if it is carried out in a place which has even accidentally been adapted for the sale of livestock by auction. Is that much clear?

No, no accidents at all. Leave them out.

The Minister says something positive must be done and that Deputy Cunningham is therefore wrong. The Minister disagrees to that extent with Deputy Cunningham.

No, with the Deputy.

Unless the Deputy is careful, he will talk himself into agreeing with the section as it stands.

I want to get this point clear from the Minister: if I am the owner of a livestock mart, and if I fail to get a licence from the Minister—this is relevant—in relation to that livestock mart—I am talking of a physical livestock mart, not the artificial definition here—can I or can I not under the terms of this Bill lawfully sell my own cattle in those premises by private treaty, private negotiations, with my neighbours?

Such a man can sell in his bedroom if it suits him, but if that person has the bedroom or premises adapted for sale or auction, then he requires a licence.

Then it is not business in the ordinary sense.

If it is not business, then the licence is not required. That is the point.

What I want the Minister to appreciate is that when you talk about a trade, business or profession, you normally visualise a person who has engaged in a particular course of action, which is summed up in the expression "the trade, business or profession" which he follows but here we are dealing with an artificial definition. It is not the business of buying and selling cattle; it is the artificial definition of what the business of a livestock mart is. It would be different if this definition section referred simply to a livestock mart as being a premises that had been adapted simply for the sale of livestock. That is what is in the question here. We are not defining a livestock mart; we are artificially defining a private livestock mart. It is not the same thing. That is why I disagreed with a colleague who mentioned that there would have to be something more than an isolated incident. I think even one isolated sale can come within this particular artificial definition of the business of a livestock mart.

Is it not perfectly obvious that the Minister has made a very obvious drafting mistake? This definition section sets out that the business of a livestock mart can be either of two things: firstly, it can be the business of selling livestock by auction. Then there is a second thing which it can be. It can be provided for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction. For the purpose of our argument, this amendment is to the second definition. As Deputy M.J. O'Higgins has pointed out, we are passing a piece of legislation which ultimately and judicially we are going to administer in the courts in so far as penalties arise.

Yes, because they have got a clear majority. They have gone berserk. They will ultimately get it passed, if they stick it out. They will get this Bill by the middle of September, if they stick it out, but it will be a long day's business. I am not a bit chary about this. If people want to do things wrong, they can bring lunatic law in here, but they must take the consequences. Ultimately, it is the judiciary who have to interpret it. Therefore, we come to the second definition of the business of a livestock mart.

Deputy M.J. O'Higgins advances the extreme case. I adapt my premises for the sale of livestock by auction and, having so adapted it, I go to the Minister for Agriculture for the time being, whether Deputy Blaney or a Deputy from this side of the House, Deputy Clinton or anybody else, who is Minister for the time being.

I feel I am there already.

I am always afraid of this strange obsession of the present Minister for Agriculture that I am conducting a vendetta against him will flare up again and will further cloud his tempestuous judgment. After having adapted the premises in the fuller sense of the word as set out in this Bill, I go to the Minister and I ask for a licence. The Minister sends an inspector down and for reasons best known to himself, he says: "No, you cannot have a licence for those premises."

The question of licences may not be discussed on this amendment.

Will you wait a moment? I then use those premises for the purpose for which I have already described, that is, for instance, assembling blue heifers. The word goes around and a man like the late Senator John Sheridan who deals in such affairs, calls to my premises. He will find there 24 blue heifers belonging to 15 different men. Somebody like the late gentleman I referred to comes in on the fair morning and there are 15 men there with their 24 cattle. They proceed to sell by hand on the premises which I have adapted for sale by auction. They do not sell by auction, but by hand.

The strange thing is that neither the purchasers of the cattle nor the vendors of the cattle commit any offence, but I commit an offence because I have permitted the sale of cattle otherwise than by auction at a place which I have adapted for the purpose of selling cattle by auction. Now, the temptation is—I do not deny it—in dealing with a revolting Bill of this sort, simply to present the Minister with difficulties without attempting to provide him with a solution. But, just to try to further assuage him that I am not reaching for his jugular vein every time I speak on this Bill, I will tell him how he can remedy it—maybe Deputy Clinton will not be grateful to me for this. Due to my function in the Department of Agriculture in the past when dealing with this Department, I usually try to collaborate. If the Minister struck out the words "or otherwise" and then went on to say "a place adapted and habitually used for the sale of livestock by auction", it would achieve exactly the same purpose and would, I think, effectively meet the point that Deputy M. J. O'Higgins has unaswerably raised.

I know there are some Deputies who say that you are seeing ghosts when you speak reasonably about such things, but the fact is that Deputies must bear it in mind that judges cannot approach our legislation in the same way as we approach it. We know what we intend to do and we write it into a Bill. All the judge knows is: "What does this Bill, in fact, do?" We are perpetrating here in this House acrimonious denunciations of the Revenue Commissioners that they should do this and that, but when you produce the Act under which the Revenue Commissioners have perpetrated those actions, you discover that our Act compels them to do it and you find that the people most reluctant to do it this way are the Revenue Commissioners. It is not what we intend to do. It is what we intend this Bill to be. This is the necessary judicial interpretation of the Bill. Judges will interpret it according to the law. It is for that reason, at this stage, that it is our duty to see that we say according to the rules of interpretation, not according to the rules of good intention, precisely what we mean.

Now, it is manifest to everybody in the House that we do not want to catch the few heifers assembled in a yard ineffectively adapted for auction sales and refused a licence. We want to leave that man free to continue to use the yard as he habitually used it for the accommodation of his neighbours in order to rest their cattle and, if the adaptation he makes is not sufficient to meet the Minister's regulations, then we do not want him to be licensed. But, by the words we use here in this section, the moment he adapts it for the purpose of selling cattle by auction, even if he never uses it for that purpose, it is a criminal offence for him to allow his neighbours to sell cattle in it by hand.

I am very thankful to the Minister for providing that, if a compound feed manufacturer sells oat husks as compound feed, he will be fined £10. In this Bill, the man who adapts his place, and does not get a licence, but allows his neighbour's cattle to be sold in it thereafter, is liable to a fine of £500 and six months in jail. I agree that the probability of that arising is remote, but the probability in many instances with regard, in particular, to other Government Departments does sometimes arise. I heard Deputy John A. Costello in this House within the past fortnight saying he had just come from the Supreme Court and heard there the Revenue Commissioners say: "We owe the man £25,000. We have the £25,000. He is entitled to get the £25,000 but we will not give him the £25,000." Did every Deputy not hear Deputy Costello describe that scene? The issue of course, was that the Revenue Commissioners were reading our legislation and, according to their rules of interpretation, there is imposed upon them what must be an extremely disagreeable duty, but they have to do it.

It is notorious that if John Patterson —I am taking a name at random out of the air—has adapted his yard for the sale of cattle, sheep and pigs by auction, he must apply for a licence. He does not get that licence but, in the presence of the Garda Siochána on a particular morning, he allows 20 cattle to be assembled there and they see Patrick Spellman—again I pluck another name out of the air—go in and buy the 24 cattle from 15 different men, and he is immediately liable to prosecution and he will be prosecuted because he has committed an offence under the Marts Bill. I challenge the Minister to deny that such a prosecution would, according to the letter of the law, be well founded. I do not for a moment allege that, if the Minister for Agriculture were possessed of all the facts, he would direct a prosecution in such a case. I think that would be highly unlikely. I do not believe for a single moment that if Deputy Flanagan, Minister for Health, knew that a dead man was left sitting behind the wheel of a car down in Kerry for three hours at the side of the road because the ambulance men would not remove the remains to the nearest hospital, he would stand for it for one moment.

The Minister will not, of course, direct a prosecution under this Bill. The enforcement of the provisions of this Bill becomes the duty not only of the appropriate inspector in the Department of Agriculture but of every civic guard in the country. As an individual, I do not want to be put in the position of breaking the statute law of this country. There may be habitual criminals but there are some of us left who I like to believe would not like to be brought into conflict with the law, even though the law appears to be unreasonable or harsh. We want to set an example to our neighbours and we feel we have an obligation, until the particular law is repealed, to obey it.

If, tomorrow morning, I adapt my premises for the sale of cattle, sheep and pigs by auction, but fail to satisfy the Minister that I have adequately adapted them, and I then shrug my shoulders and say: "I am not going to spend any more on the place. If it does not suit you, that is your affair", and let my neighbour's cattle into that yard the night before a fair and a third party comes in and buys them on my premises, am I or am I not committing a statutory offence under the words "or otherwise"? Is there anybody in this House to contradict me on that? I do not think the Minister will contradict me, but I think the Minister's defence will be: "Ah, you are thinking up ghosts". I am not. I am trying to provide that the ordinary people shall not be brought in conflict with the law.

I disagree profoundly with what the Minister is doing but, if he wants to give effect to what he means to do, he can do that without causing this anomaly if he simply drops the words "or otherwise" and adds the words "a place adapted and habitually used for the sale of livestock by auction". Maybe that is not the appropriate drafting, but, leaving in the words "or otherwise" certainly creates an ambiguity which puts every ordinary person in peril of breaking the law.

I sympathise with the Minister. It is embarrassing very often—I have had experience of it myself—when wellknown supporters in back benches lend a helping hand in matters of this kind and only succeed in making confusion worse confounded. I think the Minister can see for himself that both Deputy Booth and Deputy Cunningham attach a meaning to this definition clause which the Minister himself does not attach to it.

No; that is not correct.

That was the impression strongly made upon my mind and I do not doubt the Minister knew both his colleagues were anxious to help. What makes it even more interesting is that we have reached the stage at which Deputy Booth gets up to clarify this section and we now must have from the Minister clarification of what Deputy Booth was trying to clarify. As far as I know, this is a technical matter.

The Minister said I was on the right lines.

He did not go on and say the Deputy stayed on them. The implication clearly was that the Deputy started on the right lines, but towards the end, the wheels came off. I make no point about that. What I am trying to do is to direct the attention of the Minister to the fact that it is possible to create some confusion of mind in the minds not only of us but of his two colleagues and, that being so, can we claim that we have presented the judiciary with a definition section which admits of no mistake on their part, no mistake of our intention? The Minister wants to catch anybody who is operating in the ordinary sense of the term an auction mart and who says: "While I am really operating an auction mart, bring in your cattle and we will sell the cattle by hand and I will tell any Department inspector who comes in to take a running jump at himself; it is not an auction mart as defined by the Bill, and, therefore, he has no function here and to clear away to hell out of this." The Minister's objective is to prevent that from happening. I think he can prevent it from happening by providing that the business of a livestock mart means the business of selling livestock by auction or by providing for the holding of sales of livestock by auction at a place habitually used for the sale of livestock by auction. I admit that in the redrafted lines I have proposed, he would have to insert "or otherwise, a place adapted for or habitually used for the sale of livestock by auction".

I do not agree with what the Minister is trying to do. The whole idea of the Bill is rotten and has given rise to an unnecessarily acrimonious debate. If the Minister wants to achieve a definition which would be clear of itself and which will not create unintentional offences for categories of persons whom the Minister does not intend to reach then, if he wishes to leave in the words we seek to delete, he must add other ones and these are "a place adapted for or habitually used for the sale of livestock by auction". The simplest thing to do is to take out "or otherwise".

This is the last time I intend to speak on this amendment because talking only seems to confuse. While that is not my intention, I am afraid it is the intention of some members of the Opposition. This story of Deputy Dillon's makes nice talking but it is not terribly real. We heard about a farmer or somebody setting out to adapt a place suitable for a livestock mart auction, and so on, and then finding, when he has done all this work and spent possibly a large sum of money, that he is not qualified for the licence, bright man that he is. Surely the first thing one might say is that the normal run of people—there will not be all that number of marts additional to what we already have—who will wish to construct or adapt premises or a yard into this type of place suitable for the auction of livestock for which they will require a licence will first inquire whether or not they will get a licence? There may be the odd case of the man who would be so foolish as to spend money without first taking this sensible and necessary precaution. Such a person feels he will take a chance. For his own reasons, he will spend his money and then make the plea that he is entitled to a licence regardless of the interest of any other mart in the district or of the community which he purports to serve. He has spent the money, anyhow, not having had the licence beforehand. He then finds that, for one reason or another, he does not get the licence. At that point, he takes in neighbours' cattle going to the fair or going to the other fellow's mart. To facilitate the farmers or to facilitate the mart of which he would have been a competitor, he will do this. Of course, he will be most helpful there as well. He will put this back-yard, on which he spent his money and which is now defunct and useless, at the disposal of his neighbours——

——for a fee.

Very well.

They pay so much.

Right. So they keep them in these pens: I presume that that is what the Deputy has in mind. There is one place where I do not like to put a beast before a fair and that is into a pen, into an uncovered yard. I usually put it in a field. I go with the fellows who will put it, for example, in the widow's field: that is all right. It will not be a very lucrative sort of business if it is merely a question of facilitating a farmer who is going with his cattle to a fair or a mart. The Deputy goes on to say that, where this is done, there may be the dealer who comes around in the morning, as a habit, catching the early worm. They come into this yard and buy by hand or by whatever means you like: they transact certain business. Cattle change hands. The Deputy says that this, then, is committing an offence——

——on the part of the man who owns the yard.

He is now committing an offence: but, surely this is not what we began with in this Bill which is the business of a livestock mart. Can anybody really, in sanity, tell me that this sort of occasional facility which is offered for a fee for keeping cattle overnight on their way to a fair or to a mart is the business of a livestock mart?

As defined by the Minister.

The business of a livestock mart is what comes first here and it is that which is defined.

It does not mean "business" in the ordinary sense of the word but as set out in the section.

It would appear to be monkey business as far as the Opposition are concerned. I take it that the business of a livestock mart does have some relationship to business as we commonly accept the meaning of the word.

I think that that is possibly where the Minister is misleading himself.

The Minister is not misleading himself. The Minister is endeavouring to prevent himself from being misled by the Opposition who are deliberately trying to do so.

(Cavan): The Minister thinks he is infallible.

I do not think that at all but if it were the Deputy's fallibilityversus mine, then we should be mutual in the conclusions we should come to—and no reflection on either of us for that.

That is nearly as obscure as the section.

(Cavan): That is by and large: I do not know what that means.

Deputy Fitzpatrick is paid for not knowing what it means. I am not.

(Cavan): The Minister is getting a few bob himself and he likes to hold on to it.

I do not make money on the interpretation of these things.

Fair is fair. Is the Minister not getting £4,000 a year? It is not bad to be getting on with.

I am not, and I am worth more. I am not complaining but this sort of stuff does not make money for me. I want to make it clear to the people on the Opposition benches that what we intend to do in this section is to——

Kill the NFA. The Donegal fair is annoying the Minister yet.

The Donegal Council seat we got in that town——

Last Thursday week the Minister said to us to wait until after Wednesday last. We waited and we now have 15 chairmen while Fianna Fáil have only seven——

We have no magic hat this time.

——and three favourable to us, making a total of 18.

We must come back to the discussion of the amendment.

If you want to make use of that sort of case, do not mention Donegal.

"The fair in Donegal will be held. I shall see that it is held". The Minister had a statement issued. The chief superintendent had to issue the statement. That is well known. Do not deny that you had the statement issued. The Minister for Justice got on to the chief superintendent and the statement was issued. Do not deny it.

Did he tell you?

Do not mind what he told me.

Let your informant down.

I was not speaking to the man.

Tell the truth, there is no point in hiding it. The election was held and we won a seat in the very same town about which the Deputy is speaking.

We won three in Westmeath. You could not get them from your pals——

Perhaps we could get back to the section on the amendment. What is there without the amendment is what I sought to get and the draftsman, to the best of his ability, has given it to me. Believe it or not, as a layman and unaided, without the help of the Opposition, I read back into that exactly what he was asked to give and I cannot say more than that.

(Cavan): The Minister has just stated that there is no necessity for a person who contemplates establishing a cattle mart to find himself in the position described by Deputy Dillon. He says that surely a person going to the expense of establishing a cattle mart would first of all make inquiries as to whether or not he would get a licence. That is what we would expect if this was a properly drawn Bill, a Bill drafted with consideration for all interests concerned, but there is no such provision in the Bill to enable a prospective cattle mart operator to find out whether or not he could get a licence. I imagine if he went to the Department and asked if he would be given a licence for a cattle mart he would be told: “We do not know until we see what sort of establishment you are going to have”.

Did the Deputy ever hear of plans?

(Cavan): I would expect some provision to have been made in this Bill——

Not in this section, or in this amendment.

(Cavan): In the Bill, some place.

The Minister brought this up.

He does not know what is in the Bill.

(Cavan): There is a provision in the Licensing Act whereby a person who is going to apply for a licence for a public-house——

There is some money in that too.


There is more corruption in your Party and you are one of the greatest "handers-out" of it——

Order. Will the Deputy allow his colleague to speak?

The most corrupt Party ever in this House. That is all you make, personal remarks.

It was not personal; it was an observation.


Get thrown out and get the headlines.

(Cavan): Personal remarks made by the Minister about me, or about my professional capacity, will not hurt me in the slightest. It establishes beyond doubt the weakness of the Minister's case.

Why not read your own personal attacks last night and stop shedding tears? The Deputy should grow up.

(Cavan): I do not know what the Minister's occupation is in private life——

Your attack last night was personal, was it not?

(Cavan): I did not intend to attack the Minister in his personal, non-political occupation. The Minister is quite wrong when he says that a person who is going to establish a cattle mart can find out from the Minister in advance whether he can do so or not. I do not know of any provision in the Bill which enables him to do so. When the Minister interrupted with his latest insulting remark, I was telling the House that under the Licensing Act of 1960 or 1962, introduced by the Minister's colleague, there is a provision whereby a person who intends to go to the expense of opening a publichouse three miles from another publichouse can prepare his plans and can go into the Circuit Court and get a declaration from the Circuit Court judge that provided he goes ahead with his plans he will be entitled to get a licence. There is no such provision in this Bill. If this amendment is withdrawn is the Minister prepared to put it in?

It is capable of being brought in under the regulations which the Deputy will not wait to see.


In addition, before he could go any distance legally, he must get town planning permission, must draw up plans.

Take the position of an existing mart which does not comply with the regulations——

We are not talking about that at all.

If you translate Deputy Dillon's example into the case of an existing mart which does not comply with the regulations the Minister proposes to make that mart is not going to get a licence and can the proprietor sell his own cattle on the premises?

All marts in existence will get licences.

Provided they comply with the regulations.

They will get licences.

Is the Minister going to amend that section which says "provided they comply with regulations"?

I am just telling the Deputy.

He can revoke them tomorrow.

(Cavan): Surely it is realised that while a structure might qualify for town planning approval it might not necessarily qualify for approval under section 2 of this Bill.

What about the amendment to section 1? Let us get around to the amendment.

(Cavan): We are in Committee.

On the amendment.

(Cavan): The amendment entitles me——

It is the only thing that the Deputy has not mentioned.

(Cavan): I am entitled to answer arguments against the amendment put up by the Minister and that is what I am doing.

I was only answering what was put up over there in favour of it. There is a slight duplication, but however——

(Cavan): One would have expected some safety provision to have been put into the Bill to deal with the situation raised by Deputy Dillon. The Minister said this could be done by regulation. Anything of any significance that can be done under the regulations is spelled out under (a), (b), (c) and (d) of the regulation clause. This may not be appropriate on the amendment, but I believe that under this definition of the business of livestock marts as it stands, if a person provides a place suitable for selling livestock by auction, then whether he ever sells an animal by auction, private treaty or otherwise, he has committed an offence under the section.

The Deputy is passing the time and that is the main thing.

The reason the Minister is putting up such opposition to this amendment is obvious. He has made it quite clear that his intention is to get within his grasp not only Deputy Dillon's blue heifer, but Deputy Cunningham's heifer and Deputy Booth's heifer, if he has one, and every other heifer in Donegal and throughout the country. The Minister wants to grasp the whole lot within this section. That is the only reason he opposes the amendment. Sufficient evidence has been advanced from this side of the House—and indeed, from those who intervened on his own side—to indicate quite clearly to him that this is something which needs clarification. The only way to clarify it is to remove the two words which in the amendment we propose to delete, that is "or otherwise".

The Minister expresses exactly what is in his mind when he says it means sale by auction, sale by mart or sale by any other means. He has then endeavoured to say that this is qualified by the word "adapted" that we have not reached yet. It is also qualified by this whole question of whether or not a particular place eventually succeeds in getting a licence. If we are going to go backwards and forwards like that in order to get what the Minister is trying to define here, it is obvious there is confusion. It is obvious that the Minister sees that it is not spelled out here in the manner in which legislation should be spelled out and explained, so that nobody can misunderstand the meaning and so that we can all be assured that the ordinary farmer who goes to the trouble of breeding and feeding stock will find nothing in this legislation to prevent him from bringing out that stock and selling them in his own yard, even though he thinks he has adapted that yard as a livestock mart and did not get a licence for it subsequently.

I described one such place earlier today. It may not have been "adapted" in the sense of the word the Minister means, but, nevertheless, it provided a very important service for a long time in a part of the country I know—a place in which, as I say, hundreds of cows were sold in an area where milk production was the main farming enterprise. The people who went there went to see their cows sold only. They went to buy cows only. I do not believe that the Minister, according to what he has explained in his own mind, would give a licence to such a place. Nevertheless, that man could not sell his own cows in that yard. Even if he had the best buyers in the country, he would be breaking the law.

People are entitled to know when, in fact, they are breaking the law and when they are not. They should not be living in perpetual fear of incurring the wrath of the Fuehrer. The person who is going to decide whether right or wrong has been done is the Minister. This is purely a political piece of legislation. Everything in it is controlled absolutely and entirely by the Minister. Since it is controlled by the Minister, and when every action under it is an action by the Minister, it should be clearly spelled out, otherwise there will be a considerable amount of anxiety about it. It is because I am aware of the existence of this anxiety about this ambiguity, this lack of clarity, this obscurity in every section of this Bill, that I am starting here at the beginning to get it spelled out. There is no end to the powers that the Minister can assume under every section of this Bill unless we get it clearly spelled out.

Will the Minister not agree with me that the purpose he has in mind can be met if the definition section is altered to read "or providing, for the holding of sales by auction or otherwise, a place adapted or habitually used for the sale of livestock by auction"? I suggest to the Minister that that covers the purpose he has in mind, with which I have no sympathy. But it does bind the judiciary to attach to it the meaning intended. If that is correct, I think the Minister would be sensible to say he admits that and is prepared to amend the Bill accordingly.

I saw the validity of the point raised by Deputy Dillon but I am not even sure that it would meet the case fully. This is not a frivolous suggestion at all. I am concerned for the case of a person who had a livestock mart, who had his place properly converted, adapted or whatever you like, for the carrying on of the sale of livestock by auction and who for one reason or another—I do not care whether it is because the Minister has revoked the licence or for any other reason—finds his premises no longer licensed. But if the premises are no longer licensed, then it seems to me that, so long as the Minister leaves this definition unaltered, those premises then become frozen forever so far as the change of ownership of any livestock in those premises is concerned, irrespective of how it is done, whether it is done by auction, by private sale or no matter what the method chosen.

I suggested to the Minister by intervention, and I think it is so, that the Minister is misleading himself by perpetually harping on the word "business" at the beginning of this section. If he were talking about business without defining it in relation to any particular trade, I would then agree with the Minister that we would all know what we were talking about. But here we are setting out to define what the business of a livestock mart is. It is not business in the ordinary sense that the Minister and myself would understand it if we were referring to the business of fishing or the business of marketing even, to take a very wide sense. We would know then that when we were talking about business we were talking about something done not merely once but on a number of occasions. We cannot say that is true of this definition, because here what we are defining is not simply a livestock mart; we are defining the business of livestock marts as meaning a particular thing. The Minister will appreciate that that is so. For that reason, from the fact that the first word in this definition happens to be "business" it does not at all follow that we are talking about business in the ordinary sense at all. The Minister, in his intervention a short time ago, discounted the possible hardship on a person who constructs premises for use as a livestock mart on the grounds that, if a person did that without making inquiries, he would not be acting rationally.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
The Dáil adjourned at 5 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 18th July, 1967.