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

Debate resumed on the following amendment:
In page 2, line 15, to delete "adapted" and substitute "constructed or reconstructed".
—Deputy M.J. O'Higgins.

When I reported progress last night, I was trying to convey to the House the type of cattle sales we have in Donegal, and for the benefit of those who were not present, let me say we have three types: the old system of selling cattle at fairs on fair greens, the new system of selling them in marts, and another system which is not used very often but is there to be availed of, the traditional system. It is my view that tradition should not be interfered with in the manner proposed in this legislation. For that reason I support this amendment. If the small farmers are to avail of this traditional way of selling their livestock of all descriptions, including Deputy Corry's goat, certain protection should be given to them. One of the ways in which they can be protected is for the Minister to accept this amendment.

I hold that if a small farmer in north Donegal or east Donegal feels that he can obtain a higher price for his livestock by having what is described as a private auction on his holding, he should be entitled as a citizen of this country, under the Constitution, to claim that right and avail of it. This amendment in some way guarantees that in time to come he will not be obstructed in his method of carrying on his business. I have in mind a small farmer or the widow of a small farmer in Donegal who for one reason or another, wishes to dispose of his or her livestock, and contacts a local auctioneer and asks him to dispose of that stock.

Is this relevant to the amendment?

It is, if the Parliamentary Secretary will have patience and listen.

It is more like a Second Reading speech.

I was waiting for the Deputy to develop his point.

If that person invites an auctioneer to sell his stock on the farm and does anything at all to interfere with the present arrangement of the farmyard, under this Bill he could be prosecuted, whereas we hold that the deletion of "adapted" and the substitution of "constructed or reconstructed" would put beyond doubt the right of that individual, if he or she so wishes, to have an auction on the farm, to which he or she is justly entitled by law. The Minister has claimed that the word "adapted" is a better and more suitable description. The Minister represents the same constituency as Deputy Cunningham and myself and, in spite of the fact that Deputy Cunningham claims I was the last of the three to be elected, might I remind him that because one ballot box was invalidated, he got past the post as second by a mere 16 votes?

I feel that because I hold this strong conviction, the Minister and Deputy Cunningham should see this problem in the way I see it and for this reason the House should accept the amendment. Very strong pressure has been brought to bear on Deputy Cunningham about this matter and he has so far declined to deny this fact.

This happens in more places than in Donegal.

Yes, but I am more concerned with the people who have sent me here to represent them, just as Deputy Carty, the Parliamentary Secretary, should be more concerned with Galway than I am.

The NFA do not count for anything in my county.

We are discussing amendment No. 2 and I hope Deputy Harte will be allowed to continue his remarks.

The reason I claim the right to put this case before the House——

My argument.

What argument?

The reason I present the case as it is seen in Donegal is that I have been inundated by people contacting me by telephone and coming to my home to discuss the matter.

I have reason to believe that Deputy Cunningham has been put under the same pressure.

I have not.

Would all this matter about Donegal not be more spicy in Donegal than here? I suggest that the Deputy confine himself to the amendment and leave the spicy bits for Donegal.

I opened my remarks on this amendment by saying that in Donegal we have three traditional ways of selling cattle and I am dealing now with the third of these three traditional ways. This Bill interferes with the right of the small farmer in Donegal to avail of the traditional method of selling cattle which he, his father and his grandfather used. I do not see, when a foreign Government did not interfere with their rights in this matter, why a native Government should now try to take these rights from them. I would ask Deputy Cunningham to tell the Minister bluntly in this House, as he has no doubt told him in the lobbies, that he has been under duress and pressure by his constituents in North Donegal who are closely identified with the mart in Carndonagh which Deputy Cunningham visits consistently every week.

I have not.

The Deputy has now been forced to deny that he is under pressure.

What has this to do with the amendment?

It has this to do with it, Sir, that with the Government's majority, they will not accept the amendment but will bulldoze the Bill through the House. If I can reason with Deputy Cunningham and the Minister, I may be able in some way to help the people who have sent me here and who have sent Deputy Cunningham and the Minister here. If they cannot see the wood for the trees, it is my duty to try to brighten the horizon for them. It is for this reason that I appeal to Deputy Cunningham, to the Parliamentary Secretary and to the Minister to accept the amendment.

What is it?

Read it. The back benchers of Fianna Fáil do not know what business is being carried on in this House, but when we call for a quorum they come into the House like bulldogs and Irish terriers protesting against being disturbed in their sleep and being brought in to earn the allowance of £1,500 given to them. The amendment before the House is that the Government should delete from the section the word "adapted" and substitute for it the words "constructed or reconstructed". We ask this because we feel that the small farmers around Bridgend and Burnfoot, an area well known to Deputy Cunningham, should be allowed to conduct the sale of cattle on their small holdings as they did in the past. If we substitute "constructed or reconstructed" for "adapted", it will be abundantly clear to the average individual that unless he uses his premises for the consistent sale of cattle, he will be free to sell his own cattle in the future as in the past.

I hope I have made that clear to Deputy Cunningham, and if he now understands the business before the House, we will continue with it. These small farmers have used this method of selling cattle in the past. Tradition dies hard in Ireland and it is a challenge to the rights of the individual, a threat to his rights as a citizen, that the Minister should include "adapted" instead of accepting the amendment to use the words "constructed or reconstructed".

Could the Deputy explain that, because it is far from clear to anybody else?

I do not expect Deputy Booth to be interested in cattle marts.

I am very interested.

Then if the Deputy does his homework, I venture to say he will be so informed that he will not have to ask me, a Deputy without the same knowledge of cattle marts, without the same knowledge of parliamentary procedure——

We are discussing words, not cattle marts.

If the Deputy would listen, he might go away more enlightened.

Éist le glór na h-abhann agus gheobhair breac.

If a small farmer claims the right to sell his cattle as his father and his grandfather did, if he interferes with the present arrangement of his farmyard, either as Deputy Clinton said, by putting out a few bales of straw, or as Deputy Donegan said, by putting out farmyard machinery to control the cattle while they are being——

Are being constructed or reconstructed?

My claim is that if the buyers or the audience who come out of curiosity, form a circle to keep the cattle under control while the auctioneer tries to get the highest price possible, it could quite easily be accepted or claimed by Members on this side of the House, and indeed by farmers who wish to avail of this method to sell their cattle, that they are breaking the law—that from now on they will not be allowed to use this method of selling livestock. That is my interpretation of "adapted"—that the farmyard can be adapted for the sale of cattle whereas if the farmyard were reconstructed of something concrete like what Deputy Cunningham described, then it would be a recognised permanent place for the sale of cattle and any person using that place could come within the ambit of this legislation. People using this traditional method for the sale of cattle in Donegal are merely using it to sell their own cattle or the cattle of their next door neighbours. It is a small afternoon auction, as Deputy Cunningham will bear out.

Not a business.

You mean it could not be described as a business, but the people with cattle for sale are just as interested in it as Denis Guiney is in his business here in this city.

It will be a business if this Bill passes. The Minister is not here to bite the nose off you again. If he was, he would.

That is why you, Deputy Cunningham, have changed your attitude. For the past fortnight, I have been trying to get you either to contradict or to confirm that people in Donegal have been putting pressure on you——

The Deputy should not address another Deputy across the floor.

Through the Chair——

There is no such thing as through the Chair. It is not in order to address a Deputy across the floor. The Deputy should use the third person.

Well, "Deputy Cunningham." The reason I am tempted to refer to Deputy Cunningham is that I have it on good authority that the agricultural community in Donegal have been canvassing, lobbying, doing everything in their power to persuade Deputy Cunningham, who is a reasonable Deputy, who will listen to reason, to go to the Minister, who will not listen to reason, who has insulted members of his own Party for daring to——

That remark should not have been made.

I withdraw it.

It has no relevance whatsoever to the matter before the House.

I withdraw it. I wish to try to relate to the House in some manner the pressure which has been brought to bear on me to persuade the Minister to accept these amendments.

By whom?

By the same people as have been lobbying Deputy Cunningham.

Who are they?

I suggest that Deputy Harte be allowed to make his statement in his own way.

The people on whose behalf I speak are the humble honest-to-goodness small farmers who, for different reasons, choose to sell their cattle by this traditional method. This legislation is a threat to their rights. The Minister should accept this straightforward amendment. We ask him to delete the word "adapted" and substitute "constructed or reconstructed" for the reasons I have given. I realise that the Government Party have an overall majority and that if they wish, they can steamroll any type of legislation——

I suggest the Deputy has used that argument several times and it surely is repetition.

It is for that reason that I appeal to my colleague, Deputy Cunningham, who is a very reasonable Deputy and has listened to reason on many occasions from the same people.

I heard that argument before.

It is a very good one.

It is repetition.

Anything that is good can be repeated.

It need not be repeated.

We are reminded to say the Our Father every morning and every night, to repeat it many times.

That scarcely has anything to do with the Marts Bill.

I have no other method of asking the Government to accept this amendment than by appealing to Deputy Cunningham, who represents the same people as I represent, who comes from the same constituency, who understands the same problems as I understand. The Minister, while a different person, I agree, from Deputy Cunningham, should appreciate those problems in the same way as Deputy Cunningham and I appreciate them. He should recognise, to a greater extent indeed than Deputy Cunningham, who has no connection, to my knowledge, with the agricultural commmunity other than by conversation or making himself concerned with the problems of the agricultural community—I do not know if Deputy Cunningham is at all engaged in the business of agriculture——

The personal activities of Deputies are of no concern here. The Deputy should say something he has not said before.

I am merely stating if this goes to a vote, then the Government will win the vote and the only possible way in which I can get the Government to accept this amendment is to appeal to reasonable Deputies like Deputy Cunningham and Deputy Carty.

Let me off the hook.

While Deputy Carty says the NFA are a nonentity——

We are not influenced by them like the Deputy. Talk about the amendment. I want to hear about reconstruction and steamrolling.

Maybe if Deputy Carty was influenced by the NFA, we might not be talking so long on amendments such as this one, and we might be able to get on. We could put our ideas and arguments to Fianna Fáil backbencher Deputies more reasonably. I was saying that the only way I could get the Government to accept this amendment is to appeal to Deputy Cunningham and I apologise for bringing him into this argument. The reason I bring him into the argument is that I know the pressure which has been brought to bear——

The Deputy has explained that to me several times.

It is so important: that is why I am using it.

I am afraid I will have to be a bit stricter. The Deputy is repeating himself. If he wants to make a statement, he will have to change that tune.

I do not wish to come into conflict with your ruling, Sir, but you will appreciate that I have been under very heavy fire from the agricultural community over the past fortnight. Deputy Cunningham has been under the same pressure.

No approach has been made to me.

I submit that Deputy Cunningham this morning for the first time has put on record that he has not been contacted. I also ask you to consider that Deputy Cunningham refused to deny or confirm over the past two weeks, when I asked him clearly across the House, when you were in the Chair and when the Leas-Cheann Comhairle was in the Chair——

The Deputy did not.

——either to deny or confirm that he had been approached.

The Deputy has asked that several times.

I know, but I am asking it again this morning, as Deputy Cunningham refused to do this until this morning. It is quite understandable because of the Minister's influence and because he bluntly told Deputy Cunningham to watch his path. Both Deputy Cunningham and the Minister yesterday evening discussed this. If Deputy Cunningham has not succeeded in persuading the Minister to do as his constituents in Donegal have requested him to do——

Deputy Harte is reaching the stage where the Chair will have to take steps.

I will conclude, if you will allow me, by saying that if I have not succeeded in conveying my thoughts to Deputy Carty, if I have not succeeded in persuading Deputy Cunningham again to try to influence the Minister outside the House because he cannot succeed in doing it in the House, unless this amendment is accepted, the people who try to use this traditional method of selling cattle will have to seek a permit either from the local court or from some other local or other authority or will be breaking the law if this legislation is passed. That is as I see it, whereas the simple solution to it all is for the Government to accept this amendment to delete the word "adapted" and substitute the words "constructed or reconstructed".

Our argument is first and foremost that we are against this Bill, but if we must have it, let us have it in the form most acceptable to the people who have seen fit to send us here. If this is not accepted by the Government, then the threat as I see it is not to me or to Deputy Cunningham because we can use the modern ways of selling cattle. I repeat: tradition dies hard and, if the existing method has proved a satisfactory way for farmers to sell their cattle, I see no God-given right bestowed on a native Irish Government to impede or obstruct that method of selling cattle. It is for that reason I repeat again and again my argument that, if Deputy Cunningham would cease being a "yes-man"——

Now the Deputy will have to draw the line.

Let me make one last appeal. Would Deputy Cunningham use more influence with the Minister and prevail on him to accept this amendment? It is a simple amendment and its acceptance will meet the position better.

I have learned this morning that it is a much more pleasant duty to represent the southern end of Ireland here in this House than it is apparently to represent the northern end of the country. The reasons are obvious. In the south, we do not keep tabs on who calls on whom or who makes representations to someone else; we are too busy looking after our constituents and doing our own business. We have no time for watching our colleagues and we should be very worried, indeed, if the position which apparently obtains in Donegal were to obtain in South-West Cork.

I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary just one question. It arises out of Deputy Harte's statement and it is the only reason for my intervention in this debate. Will the dispersal sale in a farmyard be interfered with in any way?

Yes, without question.

I am completely at sea in relation to the terms "adapted", "constructed" and "reconstructed". I do not believe there is much in any of them. In fact, "adapted" seems to me to be a better term than either "constructed" or "reconstructed". However, that is just a personal view. Now, after the disposal of a farm the farmer holds a dispersal sale; the auctioneer advertises 20 head of cattle to be sold on a certain date. Does this Bill in any way interfere with the private owner's right to sell his herd?

No, it does not. Section 4 covers the position adequately.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary positive of that?

Then I shall resume my seat.

I do not know if Deputy Murphy is aware of what may happen as a result of the change proposed—to delete "adapted" and substitute "constructed or reconstructed". There will be people who will apply for licences for existing marts and others who will apply for licences for new marts. Many marts have already replaced fairs and have replaced them on the location where the fairs were held before the advent of the marts. That will be done in future. However, if we insert the words "constructed or reconstructed", where it is proposed to establish a mart instead of holding a fair, it will be made more difficult under this amendment for the interested group to get a licence for that mart.

That is nonsense.

They will have to construct something. Suppose there is already a fair in which there are cattle pens, and so on, these can be adapted by putting in a stand for the auctioneer; but, if we put in "constructed or reconstructed", then those concerned must physically construct something, something they may not require at all.

But the Deputy could not persuade the people of Donegal that that was true.

The amendment, therefore, would make it more difficult for and more onerous on future applicants. Indeed, the amendment would make it more difficult for existing marts to carry on. This suggested change would be a change for the worse. It is quite clear that the two methods of sale will not be interfered with under this Bill——

Which two?

First, fairs and, secondly——

The Donegal fair will not be interfered with?

Order, please.

Traditional fairs will not be interfered with and, secondly, dispersal sales will not be interfered with. These latter are becoming less common. Deputy Harte is an auctioneer. How many sales of cattle has he carried out in the past 12 months for private individuals on their own lands?

That is my business.

The Deputy referred to my business.

I did not.

Let us have the Deputy's experience.

That is my business.

Order. Deputy Harte should allow Deputy Cunningham to make his speech.

On the point made by Deputy Harte that "adaptation" would cover auctions in relation to dispersal sales, the Parliamentary Secretary says that it does not.

But he did not indicate where that is stated in the Bill.

Section 4 of the Bill covers it.

Deputy Harte has spoken on behalf of the small farmers. I cannot understand why he has not mentioned the medium and large farmers. Small farmers do not have dispersal sales.

Nonsense. That gives an idea of the extent of Deputy Cunningham's knowledge.

Order. The Deputy is constantly interrupting.

Deputy Harte is an experienced auctioneer. I would ask him to give the House the benefit of his experience and tell us how many dispersal sales he carried out in the past 12 months. With the advent of marts, I think these sales are becoming fewer and fewer and will not, therefore, create the problem he envisages. In fact, the problem he envisages will not really arise because neither fairs nor private sales by auction are interfered with under the Bill.

The Deputy did not allow the people in Donegal to believe that.

I am glad to be able for once to agree with Deputy Cunningham about something. This Bill does not cover fairs, but there is no doubt whatsoever that the construetion of section 1 of the Bill, if not amended, will and must cover dispersal sales and the courts must, under section 1, convict any auctioneer who throws a rope around an area in a farmyard at a dispersal sale in order to adapt that yard. It is no use Deputy Cunningham shaking his head. Ask anybody. What both the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary have said is something quite different and they have codded Deputy Cunningham. What was said was that the Minister can, if he wishes, make an exemption from this under section 4.

That is not the proper way in which to draw legislation. The way to draw it is to ensure that it is not necessary for a farmer, who wants to have a dispersal sale in his own farmyard and who sets up a soapbox for the auctioneer and ropes off a section to keep the cattle back, to go cap in hand to the Minister for an exemption, and it should not be necessary for the auctioneer to go cap in hand to seek either a particular or a general exemption. The proper way to deal with the situation is so to phrase legislation that this contingency will not be covered.

If, of course, the Minister were a reasonable man, instead of taking the line of bullying his way through by getting this Bill at the tail-end of a session, merely because of his own personal pride, we would have had the Bill drafted by the parliamentary draftsman in such a way that it would have carried out those instructions if the instructions were given to omit a case such as a dispersal sale. The position is perfectly clear under section 1. Incidentally, Deputy Cunningham showed he did not know what the section means: he made it clear he thought it was only where a business, as he understood it, was included. If that was the explanation given to the Fianna Fáil Party, then it is not true. The section as it stands defines "business" and it is not business as we understand it at all, but a business is an auctioneer, in one single case in one single way, providing somewhere in the yard of a farmer, adapting it, to sell his cattle on a dispersal sale—one single case. That is not a business as we understand it but it is caught by this Bill.

I do not like this Bill. I do not think it is necessary. I can understand a difference of opinion between myself and the people on the other side of the House in relation to the general week-in week-out selling in a mart, as we understand it, of hundreds of cattle. That is a business undoubtedly in the form and the term of business as it is understood by the ordinary layman. That, I can understand. I do not think it is desirable that there should be this ministerial power to prevent a person from carrying on this business unless he kow-tows to the wishes of the Minister for the time being. Be that as it may, there is no excuse for the provision in this section as it stands that a person who on one single occasion throws a rope around portion of a field to sell cattle by auction at a dispersal sale and takes bids must have a licence to do so and section 1, if not amended, in this way means just that.

The amendment by Deputy O'Higgins means, in effect, that the type of auction to be caught by the terms of section 1 has to be what we understand by a mart in the ordinary proper sense of the term, something that is made, that is properly constructed to have sales week-in and week-our. For Deputy Cunningham to suggest that this would make it more difficult under this Bill is the antithesis of sense. The Minister has made up his mind and quite clearly has given instructions to his Parliamentary Secretary that no amendment of any sort is to be considered on its merits. He wants to use the big stick and to act the bully in relation to this Bill. He got a bit of a shock on 28th June last when he asked, and when the Taoiseach asked, for an endorsement of their policy throughout the country. If the Minister and his Parliamentary Secretary and the members of Fianna Fáil are so certain that this is a good Bill, we shall give them every facility to put this Bill to the country in a referendum. We shall even agree quickly to the appropriate referendum machinery. Then we shall see whether or not the country wants the Bill but, in this method they are now adopting——

Would the Deputy please come to the amendment?

I am quite certain, for one thing, that the country would overwhelmingly reject any question of the ordinary dispersal sale, when a man is changing his farm, being included in a licensing provision as this section does and will include it unless the amendment is accepted. There is no case being made at all this morning against the amendment except that made by Deputy Cunningham and, quite clearly, Deputy Cunningham is under a misapprehension as to the meaning of the section and the meaning of the amendment, as a result, I suspect, of having been misled by the Minister. The viewpoint that is being put in relation to this is a clear one and the Minister, if he had not shut his eyes and his ears to proper drafting, would undoubtedly accept Deputy O'Higgins's amendment or one following it very closely.

I should like to say a few words in support of this amendment.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

There are one or two points that now appear quite striking in relation to the Minister's real intention regarding this Bill. It is quite obvious that he seeks powers so far-reaching that I think the people are not, as yet, even aware of, and only as this debate proceeds are we beginning to realise the far-reaching powers he is seeking in this Bill. Some Deputies opposite are trying to convey the impression that this amendment is a mere quibbling over terminology but the word "adapted", as used in the Bill, is of much greater significance than meets the eye. As the Minister said last night, adaptation means to make something fit or suitable, and a place can easily be adapted for the purpose of conducting a sale by auction, whether it be in a farmer's yard, as Deputy Sweetman said, by providing a soapbox for the auctioneer and a rope to keep back the crowd, or in any type of temporary structure. I understood that this Bill was a Livestock Marts Bill by which the Minister was seeking power to control the livestock marts, but it is now quite obvious that he is not merely seeking to control and regulate the livestock marts but seeking control over sales by auction whether these are held in an existing livestock mart, in a farmer's yard, or in a field.

Acceptance of this amendment would make this Bill much more precise and much more definite. The main argument advanced by the Minister when introducing the Bill was that under the EEC regulations, it was essential that the livestock marts should be brought up to the highest standards of hygiene and so forth and that strict conditions should be laid down, if and when we went into the EEC. However, as I said, the Minister is seeking power not merely to control the livestock marts but to control livestock sales by auction in any type of temporary structure or any place which may even be adapted only temporarily for this purpose. It is a simple job to adapt a place for the sale of livestock by auction and, therefore, this amendment, far from being material for a lawyer's argument, as some Deputy opposite said, is very relevant and very necessary for the purpose of defining what type of place may be termed a livestock mart. If the Minister accepted this amendment, he would be going a long way towards clarifying the position and arriving at some type of definition of the powers which he seeks in this Bill.

The word "adapted" is very vague and very loose. It is to be assumed that the Minister will be the final authority in this matter but he does not give the House any indication of what regulations and conditions must be complied with before he regards a place as qualifying for the sale of livestock by auction. What regulations will have to be complied with before a place can be deemed to have been adapted for the sale of livestock by auction? Deputy O'Higgins suggests that we delete the word "adapted" and substitute the words "constructed or reconstructed", which is a very logical argument for the reason that a place can easily be adapted but I cannot see how a place can be adapted for the sale of livestock under the terms of this Bill unless a certain amount of construction work, or perhaps reconstruction work, is undertaken. You can have adaptation on a temporary basis or you can have permanent adaptation.

We argue that by the insertion of these words in the amendment there would be no doubt that the place was a place which had been constructed for the sale of livestock by auction and in which all the ancillary facilities would be provided, that there would be no doubt in anybody's mind that this was a place constructed or reconstructed for the sale of livestock by auction and not, as the Minister's terminology says, by using the word "adapted", a place which may be used on one occasion only. I urge the Minister to accept this amendment because it is necessary to clarify what can be deemed a place in which the sale of livestock by auction may be permitted under the Bill.

I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary for some clarification in regard to his intentions and those of the Government in relation to the definition section and what the Government want to embrace in it. I understood, as did other Deputies, that the Minister's intention was to bring in legislation which would enable him to control livestock marts. I understood that the Minister's efforts were directed towards the question of the sale of livestock by auction in those marts, and that it was only ar eagla na h-eagla that the Minister introduced the phrase "or otherwise" into the definition section in case there might be methods by which the terms of the Act could be evaded and, ar eagla na h-eagla, he wanted to get that covered.

I do not think there was any suggestion of a deliberate intention by the Government to extend this Bill in such a way that it could interfere with private sales by a man of his own livestock in his own premises. The case I want to make to the House—I would like the Parliamentary Secretary to answer it and to correct me if i am incorrect in anything I say—is this: as the definition section stands, if we allow it to remain unaltered, there is grave danger that private sales by a man of his own livestock in his own premises will be subject to the licensing and other restrictions it is intended to impose if this Bill ever becomes an Act.

I do not think I am alone in that view. Deputy Booth contributed from time to time to the discussion on this section. When speaking on Friday last, 14th July, at column 1800, he gave his view—admittedly, it was in relation to another amendment, but it is very relevant to this one—of the situation that was going to be brought about by this Bill. At that column Deputy Booth said:

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.

My first query to the Parliamentary Sceretary is whether or not Deputy Booth is correct in that statement, whether he has correctly interpreted the effect of this section as it stands? I am quite sure Deputy Booth considered the matter carefully—he has shown considerable interest in the discussion—before he made that statement. Having considered the matter, he came to a particular conclusion. That conclusion is that we are trying to make the Bill apply to anyone who adapts premises for the sale of livestock, whether that sale is by auction or any other way; anyone who is providing special premises for the sale of livestock comes under this Act, he says, by way of auction or otherwise.

I think Deputy Booth is correct in his assessment of the effect of this section if it remains unaltered. As matters stand, if the Government persist in their refusal to accept this amendment or any other amendment endeavouring to modify or restrict what I assumed was the original intention of the Government in the application of this section, I think Deputy Booth is right and the section is going to be wide enough to cover any premises that are adapted for the sale of livestock.

If that is so, it means, to my mind, that this Bill when an Act will apply in such circumstances whether a person is dealing with his own livestock or not. It did not occur to me that that was the intention of the Government in this connection. I assumed that the Government, and every Deputy supporting the Government, visualised a situation when this Bill had passed in which the various regulations to be made under it, the licensing provisions and so on, would apply only to what all of us would regard as the genuine livestock mart—the mart that was there for the business of conducting sales of livestock by auction. It now seems, first, that it is not going to be necessary to sell by auction in order to bring in the operation of this Bill when enacted, but also that there is grave danger—I am sorry Deputy Booth is not here for I could put it plainly to him, but it would seem from what I have quoted that he agrees with this—that this Bill will apply to a sale by a man of his own livestock, whether by auction or otherwise, in his own premises.

I would ask the eight or ten Fianna Fáil Deputies in the House if they ever contemplated that situation arising when they gave their support to the Government for the introduction of this Bill. Did they ever visualise a situation in which any of them who are farmers or the owners of livestock might find that, purely by the accidental or temporary adaptation of their paddock or yard, they were going to be caught under the provisions of this Bill and were going to make themselves liable to penalties of six months in jail or a fine of £1,000 if they had not had foresight to secure a licence before they sold their beasts in their own premises? I do not think for a second that any Fianna Fáil Deputy visualised that that position could arise. As I see it, if the Government insist rigidly on standing over this definition section without alterations, without allowing any amendment which will modify it as we are suggesting in this amendment here, that situation could conceivably arise.

I am prepared to concede straight away that it is not the intention of the present Minister or of the Parliamentary Secretary when this Bill becomes an Act to operate it in the way I suggest; but it would be open to be operated in that way by a strict viewing of the wording of the definition section as it stands. Remember, Deputy Booth says that what we are trying to do here is to see that anyone who adapts premises for the sale of livestock will be caught. I am summarising the rest of his remarks. Later on, he refers to a person providing special premises for the sale of livestock coming under this Bill. If a farmer provides special premises in his own property for the sale of his own livestock, is it right that that man should be required to get a licence under this Bill? Remember, that is what all this talk is about.

That would not seem to arise on the Deputy's amendment.

With respect, it does, Sir. I do not like arguing with the Chair, but it arises very much under this.

I think the Deputy is enlarging the debate on his amendment.

I would like to feel I could legitimately enlarge the debate on this amendment, but I am not trying to do so. This amendment is to restrict the terms of the definition. The quotation which I have given from Deputy Booth shows the dangers of adhering to the word "adapt" in this section and my amendment is to cut out the word "adapted" completely and substitute instead of it "constructed or reconstructed".

The position, if my amendment is accepted, is that every farmer will know where he stands. He will know that so long as he continues as he has been doing, conducting his own sales of his livestock in the field to a neighbour or to a buyer, no Minister can interfere with him in so conducting his business, because, if my amendment is accepted, he would not be required to get a licence until he actively and positively constructs or reconstructs his premises so that they are then constructed or reconstructed for the sale of livestock by auction. If we do not accept that amendment, if we do not modify the provisions of this definition section, then the interpretation which Deputy Booth gave, I think, rightly, must stand and any farmer who even accidentally or as a temporary measure adapts his premises—it does not matter whether it is a building or an open field—for the sale of livestock by auction will be caught.

I want to put it bluntly to the Parliamentary Secretary, whether or not this Bill is being designed for the purpose of preventing farmers from selling their own beasts on their own property in whatever manner they want to sell them. Surely that is the kernel of the matter. If the Parliamentary Secretary or his Minister gets up and says: "We intend by this Bill to ensure that no farmer will in future be able to auction off his own beasts at the best price he can obtain on his own land, that no farmer will in future be able to strike a bargain with his neighbour if he has, before doing that, adapted his premises so as to make them suitable for the auction of livestock", then all the Deputies, particularly those from rural areas, sitting behind the Minister will have second thoughts about continuing their support for this Bill and the provisions contained in it.

Remember, Deputy Booth, having studied this definition section, has given his view as to what it means. I do not want to repeat myself but in fairness to Deputy Booth who is here now, I think I should call his attention to the particular matter to which he referred.

I do not want to incite the Deputy to repeat himself. I will withdraw.

I did not think it would be so easy to put Deputy Booth out of the House. However, the other Deputies who are here have heard this quotation and they know Deputy Booth's views, the views of a front ranking, if not front bench, member of their Party.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

I will come back to Deputy Booth in a minute, provided he stays. The danger to which I have referred is accentuated by—I will not say his admission because he did not say it in the spirit of admission—the Minister's declaration that the meaning of the word "adapt" was to make fit or suitable. What I am principally concerned about in what I am saying is the position of the man who wants to sell his own beasts. The Minister, when he defined the word "adapt" as meaning to make fit or suitable, made it clear as to how he reads this definition. I do not think it is necessary to deal with the first part of the definition, which deals with the business of selling livestock by auction, but the second part of the definition, if we take the Minister's meaning of the word "adapt" as to make fit or suitable, would read as follows:

or providing for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise a place made fit or suitable for the sale of livestock by auction.

It is the business of providing.

Quite. I am not forgetting that Deputy Booth is here. I will be coming back to him.

It is unwise to quote only a part of the definition. It will only confuse the Deputy.

I have already made it clear to the House that I accept that Deputy Booth feels that this definition covers things I originally thought were never in the Minister's mind.

I do not think that at all.

Deputy Booth stated here on Friday last, at column 1800 of the Official Report:

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.

That is Deputy Booth's view. I have already said in the Deputy's absence that I am sure he came to that conclusion after giving this section very great consideration and attention. I think the Deputy is right, not that he is right in saying that that is what we are trying to do here, but that he is right in that that would be the effect of what we are doing here, if we allow this definition to remain unaltered. That worries me, coming from Deputy Booth, who, although not now in practice as such, was eminent in the legal profession in this city for many years, who has considerable legal experience and legal training. That is Deputy Booth's pronounced judgment on the effect of this section if we leave it unaltered. That means, to my mind—and this, again, is the crux of the matter—that we are going to prohibit a man selling his own beasts on his own land unless he obtains a licence or is exempt, if he has done anything to adapt his land to make it fit or suitable for the sale of livestock by auction.

The Deputy is not really as stupid as he is trying to make out, because he is a legal man himself and knows that is nonsense.

Deputy Booth, according to his contribution before, seems to think there will be a distinction under this section, in such circumstances where the place has been adapted, between the sale by a man of his own stock and the sale by a man of somebody else's stock.

No; I do not think that at all.

All right. What the Deputy said, in any event, is this: "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."

Exactly; that is the point.

As I read that, Deputy Booth's view is that a man would not be in danger if he is selling his own beasts but he would be in danger under this Bill if he sells somebody else's beasts.

If he makes a practice of it. If he goes into the business in the way of livestock premises for the sale of cattle, he obviously will.

The danger then is that of accidentally being captured by this definition. I do not think that the majority of the Fianna Fáil Deputies relish this kind of legislation. They are prepared to go along with it on the arguments that have been presented to them by the Government, but I imagine they are only prepared to go along with it provided it does not interfere with a man's right to sell his own cattle privately on his own land. The danger here is that that right will be affected if we do not amend this definition. If the amendment which I have suggested here is accepted, in my judgment a person will not then be caught by this Act unless he deliberately constructs or reconstructs his premises so as to have it then a place for the sale of livestock by auction. I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary if there is any objection under this Bill to a man selling his own livestock whether by auction or otherwise.

Surely the Deputy has mentioned that on more than one occasion.

We have a different Parliamentary Secretary here now. I did not get a reply from the last one. I want to deal also with the situation—and this is not a farfetched one —where a proprietor of what we would regard as a proper livestock mart finds that as a result of this legislation, if it goes through, he is refused a licence by the Minister.

Why is he refused a licence? Will the Deputy use his imagination and concoct a story about that?

The Minister does not like the colour of his eyes.

I do not want to be tempted to deal at length with this section. I am simply giving an example. Deputy Booth may or may not be aware that this Bill is so designed that the Minister will have absolute discretion with regard to the granting of licences.

As Deputy Dillon had when he was Minister.

The only exception to that will be in the case of existing marts that comply with the regulations the Minister mentions in this legislation, and even in those cases the Minister may revoke a licence immediately after he has granted it. However, the Minister for Local Government may be able to give the House some information on this subject. Before Deputy Booth interrupted me I was querying the position of the proprietor of a proper livestock mart who either fails to get a licence under this legislation, if it is passed, or who, having got a licence, then finds that licence is revoked by the Minister.

Because he has not a proper livestock mart.

I do not mind why he revokes it. Under the Bill as it stands the thing is completely open to the Minister: "The Minister may, if he so thinks fit, amend or revoke a condition attached to a licence." Section 4 then is the one that deals with the exemptions from the Bill.

How does the amendment affect the issue the Deputy is raising?

We shall come to that. There is plenty of time. Subsection (5) of section 3 states:

Where the holder of a licence is guilty of any offence under this Act, the Minister may, if he so thinks fit, revoke the licence.

I do not mind what the reason is. The example I am giving and the case I want to have considered and replied to is the case where there are premises that are a livestock mart within the ordinary known meaning, and that mart becomes unlicensed for any reason: the proprietor may own livestock; he may not have any place else in which he can sell them or exhibit them for sale. Will he be precluded from selling his livestock on those premises, selling his own beasts? Is that intended under these provisions? I am not talking now about the man who wants to contravene the provisions of this Bill and conduct auctions or sales for other people on his unlicensed livestock mart premises, but the man who merely wants to sell his own beast on his own premises.

Surely the Deputy has dealt with that point on at least three occasions. This is pure repetition.

As long as it is pure, I am sure we are all happy.

It is still repetition.

There would be no occasion for repetition if Deputies did not need to ask for further information on it. However, as long as I am within the rules of order, I shall seek an answer to that question. I think the House is entitled to it. It is important in our consideration of this Bill to have an answer to this question and I think many Fianna Fáil Deputies, not excluding some eminent Deputies who may temporarily find themselves in a difficult position, would like to get an answer to that question. Remember, we have Deputy Booth's judgment on the definition section; we have the Minister's definition of the word "adapted". The whole trouble arises because the Government have decided that the word "adapted" must remain in this section. The difficulty can be solved very easily if the Government agree to delete that word and accept this amendment that the requirement to be imposed on people whose premises require licensing under this legislation, should be that something positive and concrete should be done. That can be provided by, instead of using the word "adapted", providing in the definition that the premises must be constructed or reconstructed for the particular purpose for which the Bill is introduced.

Deputy Cunningham in dealing with this amendment yesterday, and, I think, today — I did not hear him today but I understand he did contribute—made what I think is a valid point. He adverted to a danger that it is valid to point out but, in fact, the danger does not exist under this amendment. As I understand his view, he felt that if this amendment is accepted the position is being made more onerous for those who seek or propose to seek licences for the establishment and operation of livestock marts. As I understand his argument, it is that at the moment all you need to do is to adapt your premises but that if this amendment is accepted a heavier burden is attached in that you must then construct or reconstruct. I think the Deputy is missing the point that this is the definition section and that if the modification which I am recommending is accepted it would mean that only those premises that were constructed or reconstructed would then require to be licensed under this legislation and that the other premises or places the Deputy has in mind and which have merely been adapted, whether for a short or a long period, would not require to be licensed at all. Consequently, there is no question of this amendment making conditions more onerous for a person proposing to apply for a licence and no question of any greater hardship being involved for an applicant for a licence in respect of a proposed livestock mart.

The whole idea of the amendment is to ease the position, to limit in some way the requirement of the licensing provisions; to limit the scope of the Bill; to restrict the definition and to confine as far as we can the net that the Government are throwing out in this definition section. I ask Deputy Cunningham to consider the amendment afresh in the light of what I am saying and to put entirely from his mind any fear in regard to this amendment to take out the word "adapted"—is Deputy Booth going? I want to come to the Deputy in a moment——

I shall be back.

——and to substitute the words "construct or reconstruct." He can put out of his mind any fear in that regard. To my mind, the danger he sees is not there because in the circumstances envisaged by the amendment, the licensing provisions and the exemption provisions in section 4, the provisions concerning regulation and so on, in—I think—section 6 will not apply to that premises or place. The proprietor of such a place will be able to continue to sell his livestock, or even sell his neighbours' or his customers' livestock, in that place without any interference by the Minister or the Legislature, without any danger that he can be required by an officer of the Minister, accompanied by a member of the Garda Síochána, to give information under penalty of committing an offence. None of that machinery will apply to such a place if this amendment is accepted but if it is not accepted all that danger does arise. The danger of a place finding itself, merely because some adaptation is being made, coming within the net cast by the definition section might arise in those circumstances.

I am sorry Deputy Booth is not here but I suppose I shall get another opportunity of discussing this with him. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary now to take this opportunity of answering the specific questions I have put to him in connection with this amendment. Deputies who have spoken to the amendment have made it clear that we regard it as a matter of considerable importance. I feel that the Parliamentary Secretary will agree that these matters are best discussed and thrashed out fully here in the course of the Committee Stage discussion on a Bill of this sort. His contribution to the discussion would be welcomed not only by Deputies in his own Party but by the Deputies opposite.

While the Parliamentary Secretary is tuning up to make this profound reply—which I very much doubt he will make—I express the hope that Deputy de Valera will intervene in this debate. He is a lawyer and professes to have—and I always believed he has—a veneration for the law. What this Bill is doing, by the Minister's admission, is seeking to encompass everybody within its control, and having done that, to leave it to the Minister under section 4 to exempt people seriatim. I think Deputy de Valera will agree that it is a sound principle of legislation that we here in the House, when we settle the terms of an Act for the Oireachtas, should set out clearly what the intention of the Oireachtas is. If that is not our purpose why have a long Bill? Why not a Bill which says that the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries can do whatever he likes subject to regulations made by himself.

That is the purpose of this amendment. The purpose of this amendment is to say to the Minister that if he wants to use the majority of which he disposes to acquire the powers in the 12 sections of this Bill, let us know and let us say and tell the judiciary in explicit terms to whom these powers are to be applied.

The Minister does not make the case that his Bill, as introduced and as now before us, does that. Deputy Cunningham intervened at an earlier stage of this discussion and said with reference to a particular case cited by us—that is covered, that is included as being the business of a livestock mart. The Minister made one of his rare interventions to tell Deputy Cunningham that he was wrong, that it was not. Then, it was pointed out to the Minister that Deputy Cunningham was right, but that within the definition as here contained in section 1 that category of business was, in fact, included. "Oh, well," said the Minister, "what do you think I put section 4 into the Bill for?". Section 4 is the section under which the Minister has power to exempt any body by name from the operation of the Bill.

Who is right? Is it we who want to set out in the definition of this Bill a clear, precise directive to the judiciary as to who is to be covered by the terms of the Bill, or is it the Government who want to take within the ambit of the Bill practically all dealing of cattle or livestock, with a general power to the Minister to exempt those whom he does not want to see included.

This proposal is evil in itself, but what is worse is that the precedent which the Minister seeks here to establish is an evil precedent of legislation and it is one to which every executive bends more especially when he disposes of an adequate majority in the House. Every executive is tempted to come to the Oireachtas and say: "Look, we must proceed on the assumption that this legislation will be reasonably operated. Therefore, it is safe to ask for every power we require and we will at our discretion shed it." Does Deputy de Valera believe that a sound principle of legislation here? There is another step and that is to stop Deputies from legislating. Listen, let us not go through the farce of legislating at all. Give us for four months the power to legislate what is necessary.

Deputies to their eternal credit have resented this. They have learned to their cost that it is not the last time that such an imposition will be put on them. I want to warn the House that if Dáil Éireann accepts the proposition, which the Minister admits, that this definition section includes a considerable number of persons to whom he designed the Bill ought to apply but that he will exempt them by executive Act, that precedent will be quoted hereafter and we will be told in the future: "Do not look at the definition section of the Bill: it does not matter. If there is any flaw that transpires during the operation of the Act it can always be remedied by law". But, surely the logical next step is not to legislate at all.

So long as we are here we will not give the executive that power. We will not pretend to our people that Parliament is functioning when, in fact, it is only functioning so long as its directives to the judiciary are clear, precise and certain and understood by every citizen of the State.

The Deputies who sit in this House, particularly those who sat here for some time, may be reasonably deemed to be people more competent to understand the terms of a statute of this House than ordinary citizens. Yet, we have Deputy Cunningham and Deputy Booth interjecting, and I am gratified to see that Deputy de Valera has fled from the House because I know his mind. He is revolted by this procedure and when you tackle poor Deputy Booth and put his nose to the grinding stone he flees from the scene. Deputy Cunningham has stayed on but he will be gone in a minute particularly if one brings him to terms.

They do not understand the definition section of this Bill. It is not we on this side of the House who have convinced them of misapprehension. It is their own Minister who has told Deputy Booth and Deputy Cunningham to shut up, that they are only putting their feet in it. They have, in my opinion, correctly interpreted and seen that the definition as it now stands includes persons to whom nobody believed the Bill was designed to apply.

The purpose of our amendment, which we are now discussing and which is number 2 on the amendment sheet, is an effort to restrict the application of the Act to a limited and ascertainable section of the community. I could understand the Minister saying that that limitation is not reasonable, but he admits the House is not satisfied with the proposal to give a carryover definition clause, with an exemption section which will give him the right to exclude such persons as he thinks ought to be excluded and that he will bring forward a definition clause designed to say in section 1 precisely what persons are to be controlled. If he does that, we will give ear to the proposal with sympathy.

We dislike the Bill. We think it is bad. We know it is a Bill that was conceived in anger, drafted in haste and bears on its face all the marks of that operation. But it would be good, with all its flaws, if in the definition section at least, we ascertained to what categories of persons it is to apply. The Minister has told us that that category is not certain, that it is not even yet ascertained but that he has power, under section 4, to do what may be necessary hereafter to provide the certainty we think ought to be provided by Oireachtas Éireann, and not by the act of the Executive which this Oireachtas is supposed to control. Let us have no illusion about it: we have a duty to discharge, that is, to maintain the ultimate sovereignty of the Oireachtas over the Executive. We shall do it by every means at our disposal and, mind you, those means are by no means yet exhausted.

I want to make just one brief point on this section. Seemingly, from the Government benches, we have three different definitions of the word "adapt". We have one from the Minister, one from Deputy Booth and another from Deputy Cunningham, and I think last night Deputy Clinton was asked to define the word "reconstruct". He did that, and did it extraordinarily well. That is the definition of the word, and that is the reason Deputy O'Higgins, in the name of the Fine Gael Party, put down this amendment.

I should like to put this to the Minister, Deputy Booth, or Deputy Cunningham. In my constituency we have still the old procedure of the fairs in the various towns. We have a very limited number of cattle marts but we also had a procedure which existed for many years, up to about two years ago, prior to the price falling out of the cattle trade. Even away back in the time of the late Senator John D. Sheridan who used to come to the west of Ireland and, as he said himself, would have an order for maybe 200 or 300 head. Sometimes it would be blue heifers; sometimes it would be 2½ year-old bullocks, or some other type of beast—as he termed it—for which he had an order. He usually got in touch with one or two farmers and asked them to take the particular type of beast to a particular centre, or to a farmer's outhouse, farmyard, or some other place. He duly arrived and proceeded to buy those beasts. Now, this man made a point of going, maybe once, twice or three times a year. Do I take it that if that is the position, the people who were selling their cattle there will now have to have a licence, that is, if my farm was used this time, I must, under this section now obtain a licence for the sale of those cattle perhaps once, twice or three times a year?

Deputy Booth clearly stated this morning in respect of anybody who makes a practice of it, who will decide the number of times it will be done in the year or whether or not it will be a practice. I should like the Minister to enlighten me on that, or do I take it that this can no longer go on without a licence? In my opinion, it cannot, and that is my reason for supporting this amendment. The Minister should re-examine his conscience and think of those people in the west of Ireland. It is often very convenient for farmers there to take their cattle on a given day to their neighbours' farms or perhaps up the road half a mile, where some buyer will arrive and buy them. It would save them time and the responsibility of getting their cattle either into a fair or a cattle mart, which probably would mean most of a day, and they would be able to transact their business in a couple of hours. The Minister should examine his conscience about this section.

The amendment we are discussing is very important. It is designed to safeguard the rights of the individual. Fianna Fáil give lip service to the principle of cherishing all the children of the nation equally. If this section is passed with the word "adapted" in it, it means that a farmer, going about his lawful business, who adapts a place and sells cattle, faces six months in Mountjoy or a fine up to £1,000 for selling his cattle on his own land in a place adapted for an auction. Deputy Booth, in volume 229 at column 1800 said:

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 may take it that in the case of a farmer who adapts his field or yard, if a man comes to him to buy cattle he has to put them in somewhere, has to rail the area off, even if with bales of straw. According to the wording of the Bill, that would be "adapting" and would come within the provisions of the Bill. It would then be up to that farmer to go on bended knee to the Minister to get a licence from him; if he did not he would be breaking the regulations and could face six months in jail or a £1,000 fine.

This is one of the most dangerous sections in a dangerous and vindictive Bill. The Bill is bringing an important co-operative enterprise—set up without Government help, without Government grant and functioning efficiently— under Government control. According to Fianna Fáil speakers and the Minister, it was the intention to control marts in the interests of the farmers. Surely if this word is left in this section of the Bill, it will not be controlling marts in the interests of the farmers? There is no doubt that it would be detrimental to the farmers and, for that reason, Deputy M.J. O'Higgins, on behalf of this Party, put down this amendment.

It may be hard to know what is in the mind of the Minister at times. We do know why he introduced the Bill, but it is a vindictive Bill, aimed at crushing a particular organisation. At the same time, on Friday, 14th July, 1967, in volume 229 of the Dáil Debates, at column 1802, he said:

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.

The word "not" should be inserted there. What the Minister meant to say was "will not be interfered with in the slightest degree by the word in the phrase objected to." It is interesting to recall those words: "There is no question that sales will not be interfered with in the slightest degree." The words we were objecting to were the words "or otherwise". Can the Minister give us the same assurance and guarantee that they will not be interfered with now by the word "adapted" which is also in this section. He has given an assurance to the House that they will not be interfered with by the words "or otherwise" and we on this side of the House would like him now to give the same assurance in regard to "adapted." Assurances from the Minister here in this House are no use. It is, as Deputy Dillon stated what is stated in the Bill that matters and it should be clear, precise and understandable because the court will have to rule on what is in the Bill. A judge will interpret the law as it is set out in this section.

There are still buyers going around the country who call to a farmer's place—a farmer who may have 25, 30 or 40 cattle to sell. He has to get them into a part of his farm that is adapted for that particular sale, let it be a sale by hand, by auction or otherwise. We, on this side of the House, claim that under this section that farmer is caught while doing his own legitimate business and faces a fine of £1,000 or six months in jail. Deputy Reynolds mentioned parks near towns and people in the west of Ireland and the south of Ireland bringing in cattle the night before instead of having to take them in early the next morning. Buyers come there and perhaps 30 per cent or 40 per cent of the cattle are sold the night before in those parts of the country. The same happens in the Dublin market. Cows are brought to yards the night before and buyers and dairymen go into those yards and buy those cows from the farmers. I claim that under the Bill those people are caught, and I do not see why any farmer should have to go on his hands and knees to any Minister to appeal or to get a licence to sell his cattle. As I have said, if the Minister does give the licence, he can revoke it afterwards. Such far-reaching powers should not be given to any man to control auctions or sales in marts or in the farmers' yards.

It is very necessary to safeguard the greatest industry we have in this country. It is carrying on efficiently and well and any interference by the Minister will do more harm than good. It would have been much better if the Minister devoted his energies to trying to see that the people got a fair price for their cattle and not using, as he is, the powers of Parliament to put through a Bill, a particular section of which is definitely detrimental to individual farmers and to all the farmers combined. I would appeal to the Minister——

The Deputy is straying from the terms of the amendment.

——to accept the reasonable amendment put forward so ably by Deputy M.J. O'Higgins, and to put in the words "constructed or reconstructed" instead of "adapted", because as it stands, it is dangerous and could lead to dictatorship. It is our duty as Members of this House to use our democratic rights—until the Government, through their force of numbers, get it through this House—to see that this section is changed. I would appeal to the Minister to show that there is at least some little reason in him and agree to this very reasonable amendment.

(South Tipperary): It seems to me as the discussion develops and as various amendments we have tabled from this side of the House have been rejected by the Minister, that his objective is to secure broad, extensive powers under this definition. It certainly seems to me at this juncture that the Bill will operate in such a way that practically any form of livestock sale anywhere will come within its ambit because the definition of what is a livestock mart is a blanket definition. I accept that it is not intended to apply in practice. I believe the Minister's intention is that he wants a blanket definition but intends to make certain exemptions. He intends to make them on an individual basis, each case being judged on its merits. There may be certain categories which he may intend to define but we are inviting him to define those categories now, and to incorporate them in the Bill so as to avoid the objectionable practice which will arise afterwards of having anybody and everybody going to public representatives and to the Minister's Department.

There are many forms of livestock sale activities which I presume will be exempted. Questions have been raised here on several instances. One that has been raised is the question of a man selling cattle on his own farm. Is he, under the terms of the Bill, conducting the business of selling his cattle on his own farm? A relation of mine sold his cattle annually on his land. He brought in an auctioneer and it was the practice, when he had his annual sale, for some neighbours to bring a few cattle as well. Ordinary auctioneers do that when they are selling furniture, and the same applies to cattle. The practice is followed all over the country. Could he, therefore, be described as a person who was in the business of selling cattle?

Acting Chairman

The Deputy is straying from the terms of the amendment.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

(South Tipperary): Assuming that Deputy Lemass was never inside a mart in his life, he might get some notion of how cattle are bought and sold all over the country if he visited a mart even once. I was dealing with the amendment which seeks to provide that a person engaged in the selling of cattle by auction, or otherwise, should have his place constructed or reconstructed. That is the burden of the amendment.

I was dealing with a farmer selling cattle on his own land, perhaps annually, and perhaps seeking, very properly, to help his neighbours on occasion, by allowing them to introduce their own cattle. That man has not, by construction or reconstruction, adapted his field to that purpose. If the amendment is accepted, it will be obligatory on him to have his place so constructed or reconstructed as to come within the ambit of the Bill, and such a person will be automatically excluded under the exemptions which the Minister will make. It would be completely irrational to stop this man from selling cattle on his own land. He will be exempted but he will have to apply for exemption. Every such man will have to apply for exemption.

Why put every individual who wants to sell cattle on his own land to the trouble of filling up a complicated form, posting it to the Minister, waiting for some days or perhaps weeks, going to the local Deputy and asking why it has not come back, and inquiring here and there as to why his projected sale has not yet been exempted? It would be a simple matter to accept this amendment and provide that the place must be specifically regarded as a place constructed or reconstructed for the purpose of selling livestock before it would be covered by this Bill. Such a man would then be automatically exempt and could sell his cattle on his own land as he did the year before, and the year before that, and as his father, and probably his grandfather, did before him. It is to protect the rights of a person such as that that we want to incorporate this amendment and similar amendments in the Bill.

Let me raise the case of a man selling cattle at a fair. An ordinary open fair is not a place that has been constructed or reconstructed and therefore should not come within the ambit of the Bill, but as the Bill is phrased, it would. Are the local authority who permit a fair to be run in a town in the west or the south of Ireland, or elsewhere, now to be held responsible and subject to a fine if a fair is held within their jurisdiction? In some towns and villages, they have what are called toll fairs. I do not know whether that is a proper dictionary word but they are called toll fairs and a poll tax is charged. Sometimes the ownership of these poll taxes is very ill-defined. It is handed down from father to son. These taxes are collected but no facilities are provided. Sometimes a weighing scales is provided or an attendant, to do a bit of droving. Are these people to be held responsible? They are conducting places for the auction of livestock. They have not carried out any construction or reconstruction. I presume they should be exempt from the provisions of the Bill. That would be the reasonable intention—if the Minister can ever be regarded as a reasonable man. If this amendment were accepted, construction or reconstruction would have to be carried out for that specific purpose and therefore these people would be automatically exempt.

It cannot be maintained that a local authority who allow a fair to be held in a street have done any specific construction or reconstruction. Some of them provide weighing scales but not specifically for the fairs. They are provided for anyone who wants to sell turnips or potatoes to local shopkeepers. It cannot be argued that a local authority have provided, by construction or reconstruction, facilities to carry on the sale and purchase of cattle. By accepting this amendment, they would be exempt but under this Bill they would have to apply for an exemption order which I believe would be given to them.

I do not know whether the Minister means to shoot down the ordinary fairs. If this amendment were accepted, the local authorities and the people who collect poll tax would be exempt from any interference by the Minister and could continue with the fairs as usual if they wanted to do so. I should like to know if the Minister intends to exempt these places. If he does, why not accept our amendment and incorporate it in the Bill? It could be said that every fair in the country whether cattle, sheep or pigs are sold, in which there has been no reconstruction, is an ordinary traditional type of fair and is outside this Bill. I must assume that the Minister wants to take to himself powers by which he may or may not exempt from the provisions of this measure the markets and fairs which are traditional and, if the Minister is going to exempt this type of activity, he should accept this amendment so that these people will not have to go hat in hand asking him for exemption orders.

Deputy Booth has been at pains to point out on some occasions that this Bill in its definition section, requires that a business be carried on before a transaction is captured by the section. There is fair ground for making that statement but Deputy Cunningham has given his views with regard to the type of transaction which will require to be licensed, if the Bill goes through. I want an answer from the Minister as to whether the type of farmyard auction Deputy Hogan and others have referred to is a transaction which requires a licence or an exemption order under the Bill.

When we were discussing another matter on Friday of last week, Deputy Clinton referred to the type of farmyard sale other Deputies have in mind and on which Deputy Cunningham has given his views. In column 1807 of volume 229 of the Dáil Debates of 14th July last, Deputy Clinton said:

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.

Here Deputy Cunningham intervened to say:

It must be licensed.

I wonder is that the answer to the question we have been asking. If it is, then, to my mind, the position is extremely serious. If the Dáil, having been alerted by Deputy Cunningham to the danger, allows this definition to pass without amendment or alteration we have then arrived at a situation where the farmyard sale requires a licence under this legislation, or else has to cease operation.

The Minister, on an earlier occasion, I think, quite properly, invited consideration of the exemption provisions in conjuncton with the definition section. As the last speaker has said, it might be the intention of the Minister to make exemption orders in respect of the farmyard sales which Deputy Cunningham says require a licence. Deputy Cunningham later on adverted to the fact that if they were not licensed, they could get an exemption. I do not think that is a proper answer to the problem. We do not know yet what the machinery is to be, what the requirements are to be for obtaining an exemption order.

If either through inadvertence on the part of the farmer or for any other reason, an exemption order is not made and the farmer conducts a farmyard sale, he is then going to be put in peril of his liberty under the Bill and can find himself in the position in which, by not getting such licence or exemption order, he has committed an offence under the Bill for which the penalty may be as high as a fine of £1,000 or six months in prison. Is it good enough that the House should contemplate quite blatantly passing legislation that may have that result for the farmer who has done nothing other than continue to carry on his occupation and his business in the way in which he has traditionally done it?

I started by saying that Deputy Booth had referred to the condition of business in this definition. I do not know where you end when you talk of one incident and another, where the question links up or where it ends in order to constitute a business, but take the example for the farmer who regularly each year conducts a farmyard sale. He collects his cattle or sheep, as the case may be, and arranges with a local auctioneer to sell them off. If he does that year after year, is it not fair to suggest to the Minister that in those circumstances there is no question of one isolated incident? It is a regular pattern year after year and surely, in those circumstances, it is open to a Deputy to argue that this constitutes a business? It is certainly part of the man's business and Deputy Cunningham thinks that requires to be licensed. I do not think there is any doubt about it. Deputy Cunningham is here now, and if I am doing him an injustice or misinterpreting his views on the subject, he is free to correct me.

I understand the position to be that Deputy Cunningham regards this Bill, regards the adaptation referred to by Deputy Clinton in the example he gave, as bringing the farmyard sale into the category of transactions for which licences will be required. I want to get, if I can, a positive answer from the Minister as to whether that transaction is one for which a licence is contemplated in the Bill. I do not think the exemption provision would constitute a sufficient protection if the definition section captures transactions such as that. Remember that, in line with other provisions in the Bill, the definition section leaves it entirely discretionary to the Minister whether exemption will be granted or not in any case—it does not matter what the case is—and if the Minister in his wisdom decides he wants to stamp out any particular type of trading in livestock, he can do so by refusing to exempt the transaction from the provisions of the Bill. If transactions are not exempted, then a licence is required and it is then discretionary, entirely at the discretion of the Minister, whether licences will be granted.

Therefore, any particular pattern of trade in livestock can be shattered and stamped out by the Minister if we allow the Bill to go through unaltered. We are endeavouring in this amendment to afford some measure of protection to the farming community from the all-embracing net being cast by the Bill. Certainly, if the amendment I am supporting now is carried. the picture will be completely different: it will be a completely different situation as far as farmyard sales are concerned.

I am suggesting that the Minister should get away completely from the word "adapted" in the definition section because I believe it is vague in the context in which it is used and can lead to accidental adaptations which will bring a person within the ambit of the Bill when he should not be and I believe it will apply to cases Deputy Cunningham referred to of farmyard sales, if anything is done to adapt the farmyards to make them suitable for sale by auction. If the Minister agrees to delete the word "adapted" and to insert "constructed or reconstructed" a completely different situation arises. Then we are making it clear to all the world that we intend this Bill to apply only to properly constructed and established livestock marts, that we do not intend the Bill to apply to the ordinary farmer conducting his business in the traditional manner in his own premises, in his own farmyard.

It is important that we should make that distinction. It is important that we should set at rest any doubts that exist either in the House or outside it With regard to the possibilities in relation to the operation of this measure. Therefore, I again urge on the Minister to let us have his mind with regard to farmyard sales and in doing that, to forget for the moment about his proposal in section 4 to take to himself power to decide which transactions will or will not be exempt from the provisions of the Bill.

Would it not be far better that the House should not take any chance on this? Would it not be far better that in dealing with the definition section we should exclude specifically the transactions which are not intended to be included in the operation of this Bill? I do not know what machinery the Minister will find it necessary to establish, if this Bill goes through unaltered. I do not know whether he proposes to set up some sort of register whereby certain places, certain people or certain transactions will automatically be exempt from the provisions of the Bill. It does not seem to me that that can be done because if the Bill is passed as it stands, there will be an obligation on the Minister to exercise his authority and discretion under the exemption provision. I think a mass of applications are likely to be made to the Minister and it will be the Minister's responsibility to decide whether they are proper for exemption under the Bill.

All that kind of thing can be avoided at this stage by being clear, definite, precise in our definition. It can all be avoided by taking out this word "adapted", by accepting the amendment and making it necessary that something concrete in the nature of construction or reconstruction be done before a place will require to be licensed under the provisions of the Bill.

Deputy Cunningham, as I have said, has given his views on a farmyard sale. I think he is right in saying that as the Bill stands, a licence or an exemption order is likely to be required. Certainly, bearing in mind Deputy Booth's contribution about a business—that it should not be one isolated transaction merely—one must regard Deputy Cunningham's view as correct. It is likely to be correct anyhow where an annual sale is the pattern in a particular place or locality.

Deputy Hogan also referred to the question of fairs and raised the query as to whether local authorities would require either to obtain licences or exemption orders if they habitually, down through the years, have been putting particular places at the disposal of local people in which to hold fairs. That point also requires clarification. Is it intended in this legislation to give some kind of legislative disapproval of the continuance of fairs throughout the country? I know the tendency is away from fairs and towards marts, but do we intend this legislation to carry with it legislative disapproval of the continuance of fairs? Do we intend this legislation to mean that in future if a fair is to be held, a licence or an exemption order must be obtained? That seems to be on the cards so long as the definition remains as it is with the use of the word "adapted".

It would not be on the cards and it would not be necessary to consider fairs in terms of either licences or exemption orders, if this amendment is accepted. The fair green may be fenced off as a temporary measure once a month whenever the fair is held. The square in the town where the fair is to be held can quite safely have its ropes, its fences and its various divisions erected on a temporary basis once a month if my amendment is accepted because those types of adaptation could not be construed as constructing or reconstructing the place for the sale of livestock by auction. If we are content to leave the definition as it is in the Bill, if we are content to carry on with the use of the word "adapted", then those temporary measures, the erection of fences, the roping off of a section of a town, the placing of divisions in a fair green, all those things are steps which, according to the definition, amount to adapting the place.

The Minister has stated that "adapting" means making the place fit or suitable so any of those temporary measures would in those circumstances make the place fit or suitable for the sale of livestock by auction. That being so, if it is not merely one isolated transaction, if it is a fair held—I do not care whether it is once a year or once a month—if the pattern is there and if that is the ordinary thinking, then it seems to me that the element of business has been established, so that you have the element of business, you have the adaptation, you have the making of the place fit and suitable for the sale of livestock by auction. In all those circumstances, it seems to me that you then have the requirement that that place can only continue in business, that that transaction can only continue to be held, provided a licence is obtained or an exemption is made under the Bill.

I do not think the Minister intended that but it has become clear in the course of the discussion that those results are likely to ensue. I do not think, as I say, that the Minister intended it and if I am right in believing that, the Minister did not intend it, surely now is the time to get the record clear, to straighten the matter out, to be precise in our definition and to exclude what was not intended to be included?

I should like to say a few words in favour of the amendment. Under the terms of this Bill, we are told that any person who does not conform to the rules will be liable to a heavy fine or a term in jail. It is a serious thing for any Minister at this stage to bring into this House a Bill of this sort. It is not so long since we had young men throughout this country sent to jail simply because they put trucks on the road and did not conform to the law laid down which was all in favour of CIE. This did not make for a very happy situation. Hundreds of those fine young men had to clear off to England as a result.

Now, getting down to the question of these sales, if people, the many people who auctioned their cattle, have to get in touch with the Department before they make any move towards holding those sales, the whole thing will suffer a big setback. Throughout the country today we have many people who are growing old who decide to have an auction, who decide that it is getting too heavy for them to carry on and who wish to sell out. Those people heretofore could come to a very good agreement by going to the local auctioneer, deciding on what they would do, fixing a date to hold an auction and everything worked out perfectly. This was one of the dearest places where you could go to buy cattle. If that is to be interfered with, it is a sad day for the farmers.

Today we have many people who decide to go to England. The first thing that enters their minds is that they will have an auction and will sell their cattle. There are people who suffer severe losses on their farms, such as that which they have suffered over the past ten days through flooding, when haycocks were washed away, who decided to have an auction and sell out. If all those people have to get in touch with the Minister for permission to have these sales, the Department will have to double its staff. As well as the man with the white coat and the garda down the country, the staff will have to be doubled in the Department. Apart from the inconvenience caused, the holding up of those people is serious. We know the delay there is from the time of the holding of a sale until the matter is finally cleared up. This will interfere with the right to sell when you like or not to sell.

The amendment would cut out a lot of unnecessary hardship. I should like to know if this Bill will interfere with the fairs we have been holding for centuries. People for generation after generation have been attending these fairs and they have been quite satisfied with them. If there is a slight change— somebody said it would not make much difference—and that fair is to be stopped completely, it would be very serious for some parts of this country. I know, judging from my own part of the country, that a mart is not a success there for the very reason that we have not enough of the right type of cattle to encourage the dealer to come down once a month, but by going into a fair, you have every type of buyer and every type of beast there, particularly in small lots. As you know, the big cattle dealer does not want to go to a fair where he does not get pretty large lots of cattle of the same type. If the fairs are interfered with, or changed in any way, it will be very serious for the town involved. In my local town on fair day each month money is spent from early morning until late at night. If that money is taken away from that town, it will almost close down.

It will be serious for the farmers if they cannot decide to sell their cattle without permission from the Department. They do all the really hard work, with no fixed hours, seven days a week. They have no guaranteed prices. Remember the farmers are depending solely on cattle now and the sale of those cattle should be left to the farmers. Poultry have disappeared. Farm produce, because of the high production cost, is down to a minimum. It will be very serious if the time ever comes when the farmer has to take pen and paper and appeal to the Minister for permission to sell his cattle.

There has been a good deal of talk this morning about exemptions. In my opinion there is not much sense in exemptions because the whole country will be looking for exemptions. Half will, I suppose, get them and the other half will not. There are numbers of cattle dealers in the country. They buy suitable cattle at fairs. They are there at two and three o'clock in the morning. They take the cattle away and a buyer comes from some of the good centres—Dublin, Meath, Westmeath and sometimes from Britain—and he walks out on the farm and inspects the cattle. Because of the experience of the dealer, there is very little inspection to be done. The dealer buys only what he knows will be acceptable to his customer. If that practice is interfered with, there will be a loss to the farmer and the situation will be very serious for the producers. Will this Bill interfere with fairs? Is the time coming when people will not be allowed to sell their cattle without permission from the Department?

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

(South Tipperary): The Minister must now have some notion in his mind as to what type of livestock sales he intends to exempt but, so far as we are concerned, all that remains a closed book. The Minister has intervened not very often and not very long, without telling us what type of livestock activities he is prepared to exempt. It would help us considerably in framing our amendments to the definition section if we knew what type of activities he is prepared to exempt. We could write them down for him and incorporate them in the definition section, which would make the whole thing nice and proper, but the Minister has not seen fit to give us any inkling as to what type of activities he is prepared to exempt.

The definition section, as I interpret it, will apply to marts and to ordinary fairs. As we read further in the Bill, we find that its operation in relation to fairs will be extremely difficult, particularly if the hygiene regulations are strictly implemented. It would seem that, when the Minister comes to making his exemptions, he will have to consider whether ordinary fairs can be allowed and whether he will be forced to refuse a licence or give an exemption and the situation could, therefore, become a critical one. According to the various sections, it would be difficult to grant an exemption as regards fairs. Yet, when this Bill becomes operative, what happens if the marts close down? If some proprietors close down their marts or if people refuse to send their cattle there, then we shall be forced into the position of having only fairs left. The Minister will be faced with the dilemma of whether to exempt fairs—presumably an exemption order will be necessary in the event of marts closing down—or to take over the marts. I would ask him to give us a concrete answer to that.

In the event of the marts closing down, as is conceivable, does he intend then to make an exemption order to allow the fairs to continue or will he run the gauntlet of taking over the marts himself and attempt to run them and face the possibility of a general boycott? It is right at this juncture that we should inquire whether the Minister intends to exempt our fairs or whether he feels they will be allowed to continue in traditional fashion. My main purpose in intervening at this stage is to inquire specifically whether the Minister will allow fairs to continue or will allow them merely in the event of marts closing down or will disregard them altogether if they prove too difficult for him or will decide to take them over under some regulation in the Bill.

If the Minister had been in the House earlier this morning, then, to put it mildly, he would have been extremely surprised, if not appalled, that one of his Deputies asked to have the word "constructed" explained. Deputy Booth wanted a detailed and accurate explanation of the word "constructed". I am sorry Deputy Booth is not in the House now. I felt I had gone to considerable pains last night to describe to this House what "constructed" means. The Minister said he is tired of listening to questions from Fine Gael about this piece of legislation and that he himself wants an answer to some questions. He dished out a couple of questions to me. I just say to him now that if he feels it is necessary for me again to give more detail in relation to the meaning of these two words "constructed" and "reconstructed" for the benefit of the Fianna Fáil Deputies, I shall be very pleased to do so.

It is quite obvious that one of the very few Fianna Fáil Deputies who have contributed to this debate—we had only two contributions apart from the Minister's short contribution now and again—does not know what "constructed" means so it is very difficult to know whether or not to go back over the same ground again. If I did, the Chair would probably object even though the meaning of the expression obviously has not got through to them. I explained what we mean by the words we want to substitute.

When we asked the Minister to tell us what exactly he meant by the word he had there—"adapted"—all he said was to make fit and suitable. If I say something is made fit, my idea of what is fit might be very different from what the Minister has in mind as being fit. Similarly with the second word "suitable". What I would think suitable and what could be used to carry on this business might be very different from what the Minister has in mind. I believe that what he has in mind is a full cattle mart with all the paraphernalia. He has not spelled out what he means by "adapted" or what will satisfy his requirements. He said that the various activities that we, on this side of the House, feel may come within the scope of this legislation do not, in fact, do so and the only additional proof he gives of that is to say that section 4 takes care of it.

This was also stated this morning by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Deputy Davern, in reply to Deputy Murphy's query in relation to draught sales or the ordinary fair where a case might arise that a green, a small field or the corner of a street is temporarily adapted for the purpose of keeping cattle penned up at a fair. Section 4 gives no indication whatever as to what the Minister has in mind. Before it is reasonable to expect us to accept the vague definition at the outset of this Bill, the Minister should have written into section 4 the exemptions he has in mind at present.

I think that this definition section is by far the most important section in the Bill in so far as it governs afterwards the type of place that comes within the licensing provisions of this measure. If we cannot tell the people clearly at this stage what comes within its scope and what does not, then the Bill means nothing throughout and the people will, all the time, be in serious doubt as to whether any and every type of sale is not brought within the ambit of this legislation. That is the subject of pretty genuine fear by everybody who has spoken on this Bill simply because the categories of sales that do not come within the scope of the measure are not mentioned in it.

When we use this uncertain expression, this expression that is open to so many interpretations—"adapted"— we simply do not know where we stand. It is a word which is open to many meanings. We want to eliminate that vagueness. We want to substitute in its place two words which, I think, cannot be misunderstood and cannot be given any other meaning. If the Minister expects us to accept his version, he should have supplied a specification of what he has in mind as a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction or otherwise and the type of place that comes within the ambit and all those other types of sales that are excluded from the provisions of this Bill.

When I sit down, I hope, at least for the records of this House, the Minister will list the types of sales that are outside the scope of this measure. I hope he will give us some promise of his intention before we reach the Report Stage of this measure that he is prepared to amend section 4. I hope he will give us all the examples in a list of the types of sales he proposes and intends to exempt. That would go some distance towards clarifying his intentions not only by statement in this House but in such a way that when people are called upon afterwards to carry out the provisions of this Bill, they will know clearly where they stand, and everybody interested in the business of livestock marts and livestock sales in any form will know whether or not he is carrying on his business within the law or outside it.

Surely the Deputy has the legal men beside him?

Our legal people are seriously concerned about this matter. For that reason we are going to considerable pains to alert the people on the opposite benches to the dangers of which they are not already aware. We did not want to call a House but we see that the members of the Fianna Fáil Party are so much against this Bill that they do not want to be in the House; they do not want to be here to support the Minister. They are only here because they have been bludgeoned into supporting the Minister. Only two of them have spoken and both of them put their feet in it.

Now we have some other Members here because they have to make up a House. I was sorry that we upset the digestion of a colleague of mine, Deputy Burke. Deputy Burke was here last night and it was obvious to me that he was seriously upset about this measure. Even when he looked in here today, the worry was still on his face because he knows he cannot face the farmers of County Dublin. I see the same worry and concern on the face of his colleague——

I thought it was I.

The Deputy knows that this type of sale is quite usual in the west of Ireland. He is not worried about this activity or the farming organisations and he will manage without them. He thinks that by pretending that he is not worried——

Whistling past a graveyard, like yourselves—the graveyard of Fine Gael.

Only two Fianna Fáil Deputies spoke and they did not know what was in the Bill. The Minister was obviously upset and he spoke to them and they left the House. Some of them have been challenged to say they are not in favour of the Bill but not one of them had the courage to say he is not. Even two Parliamentary Secretaries were challenged but they know that it would destroy them in their own constituencies if——


They want to be able to go back and say: "We were driven; you know the way it goes—he insisted on this, and even though we——

The same as your own Party.


We know that this definition section is limitless in its scope and that there will be no sale of a beast in any part of the country that will not be required to come within the scope of it.

The Deputy is talking like a hob lawyer.

The Minister has asked us to give him that sort of limitless power. It is obvious from what he has said that he intends to select the people to whom he will give licences and that he intends to charge them. This has been made pretty obvious and it is going to cost considerable amount of money to get a licence for a cattle mart. This is not going to be an easy thing anymore. He is going to promise them a monopoly and he is not going to have any outside interference. The day when a farmer could settle down and rear livestock and sell them in the traditional way has gone and the Minister says that he is not going to grant a licence to any character who has not paid the large licence fee to set himself up in competition and sell his cattle——

How much is the fee?

That is one of the things the Minister has not told us. As a matter of fact, it is one of the——

I thought it was a large fee.

I hope before we reach the end of this discussion that not only will the Minister tell us in some detail what he has in mind in this definition section, and why he is so ardently opposing the efforts we are making to have it clarified, but what his intentions are, and that before we reach me Report Stage he will have all his intention and ideas—now vague and obscure —written into the Bill. If all these were clear, there would be less doubt and less trepidation afterwards. As the Bill is drafted, the people will be living in perpetual fear of offending the Fuehrer.

He is dead.

The ordinary independent, working farmer, who suffered conditions bordering on starvation so that he and his colleagues might have freedom, is going to be deprived in future and will be told: "You must go into the mart to which I have given the licence and sell your cattle there and you must not attempt to sell your cattle in your neighbour's yard." It is quite obvious from the definition that that type of sale is excluded and we are not going to allow it. We want to tighten that and that is the purpose of the amendment, so that there can be no mistake in future as to the type of livestock mart——

Be careful now.

This is a very serious matter. I cannot understand why Deputies opposite treat such a serious matter in such a flippant manner. It is obvious that many of the Deputies opposite have had no contact with livestock sales and they could not care less about the way the farmers are to be treated in the future or what prices they will get for their cattle. Neither do they care how low prices for cattle go. Other rural Deputies have not contributed but they are seriously concerned and they will not express themselves in favour of the Bill because that would be detrimental to them. They know that it is a wrong measure but they have to support the Minister and walk behind him into the Division Lobby. As this definition section is written, it means nothing or it can mean anything. We want to sew it up so that it can only be interpreted in one way and that everybody will know where he stands in future, whether he is inside or outside the law.

Deputy Geoghegan made a very interesting and helpful contribution when he inquired about the point of view of the lawyers. I do not talk in this House as a lawyer but as a Deputy representing a particular constituency, and I know that a body which can be taken as speaking for a very substantial part of the legal profession gave its views in regard to this Bill.

Is that Pa O'Donnell's organisation?

The Council of the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland, and I should hope that the Minister for Health, the Minister for Industry and Commerce and the Minister for Lands are all members of that Society. The Council of this body gave the kind of information that no doubt Deputy Geoghegan felt should be given by the legal profession regarding this measure.

On this particular amendment, I hope.

Certainly, we will deal with it on this particular amendment. If I may summarise it, the Council of the Incorporated Law Society in the statement they issued described this Bill as dangerous and possibly unconstitutional.

I am afraid we are getting away from the amendment. I must ask Deputies to relate their remarks to the amendment before the House, that is amendment No. 2 in the name of Deputy M.J. O'Higgins.

We are still at amendment No. 2, Sir.

Notice taken that 20 Members were not present; House counted, and 20 Members being present,

As I was saying, before I found it necessary to call a House, Deputy Geoghegan's intervention in this discussion is particularly helpful and important. It is important that the viewpoint of the lawyers who have no axe to grind——

"Or otherwise."

——in relation to this measure should be considered. I have summarised the statement issued and the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, quite properly, has asked me to relate that to this amendment. That I propose to do. The whole difficulty in relation to this discussion arises because of the refusal of the Government to accept the first amendment proposed here, which referred to two apparently simple words in the definition section, the words "or otherwise". The refusal to delete those words—I trust Deputy Geoghegan is attending to this—now means we are facing a situation in relation to this Bill where under the definition section the Bill extends nor only to the sale of livestock by auction but the sale of livestock in any other manner—the sale of livestock by auction or the sale of livestock otherwise than by auction. I am endeavouring in the amendment I am proposing to the House now to restrict somewhat the categories of places to which this section, or by reason of this section, the Act as a whole, will apply.

The last time I said a few words on this amendment I was asking the Minister and two Parliamentary Secretaries who came in during the course of my remarks to let us have their views as to whether an auction conducted by a farmer in his own farmyard was covered by this or not. Deputy Dowling may not be aware that I did not succeed in getting a reply to that query.

While I do not want either to offend against the rules of order or to weary Deputies by repeating myself, I am simply calling attention to the fact that, despite the plea having been made by me, despite that request for information having been made to the Minister, to his Parliamentary Secretary and to another Parliamentary Secretary, the point so far as I am concerned remains unanswered. For the present I propose to leave that query hanging in the air, in the hope that, while I did not get an answer so far, it may possibly attract the attention of Deputy Allen or Deputy Geoghegan, or possibly even Deputy Dowling.


Somebody suggested two words. We were talking about two words in the first amendment. In this particular amendment, we are dealing with three words "constructed and reconstructed". Before I come to that, we will leave the query regarding the farmyard auction hanging in the air, in the hope that it will attract the attention of some of the Deputies opposite who may persuade one or other of the Parliamentary Secretaries in the House at the moment to give a reply to the query raised. If the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretaries feel they would not like to venture a reply, possibly some of the Deputies on the Fianna Fáil benches will feel that the door is open to them and that they are entitled to throw their hat in the ring and make up their own minds as to whether or not such transactions are within the definition section as it stands.

The last time I spoke I was dealing with the position of the farmyard auction but I am afraid it is a lot more serious than that and goes much further than that. With this definition section, and particularly having regard to the decision of the House not to accept amendment No. 1 proposed by Deputy Clinton, the position now may very well be that even if you do not hold an auction in your farmyard, even if you do not go through the annual pattern I spoke of, where each year an auction may be held, some bales of straw put down for seating accommodation, as Deputy Clinton pointed out, if you sell your beasts privately in your own farmyard, it may be that those transactions will be captured by the definition section. If Deputy Geoghegan wants to know the ground on which I raise this point of view, it is because we endeavoured to limit the application of this section to auctions but the House decided against that and decided that the application should be to "auctions or otherwise", which, Deputy Geoghegan will, of course, appreciate, means auctions or otherwise than by auction. Otherwise than by auction, in the context in which I speak at the moment, refers to a private sale. I know the Minister has referred to a sale by hand but I am not talking about any sale that is intended to be an evasion of the provisions of this Bill, should it ever become an Act. I am talking about the ordinary bargain and sale that all of us know about, the ordinary sale by a farmer to a buyer, to a neighbour or to anyone else, taking place in his own farmyard.

In a field.

We will get to the field afterwards.

I am quite happy with the Bill and it affects me far more than it affects you.

It affects the people he represents.

Big farmers.

To whom did you give all the permits to introduce Charolais—all the big farmers—lord Harrington, Major Gardiner—everyone of them with over 600 acres of land. The Deputy behind Deputy Alien has 1,000 acres.

And he did not sell any to the foreigner.


Is Deputy L'Estrange saying that Lord Harrington is a card-carrying member of Fianna Fáil?

I am saying that everything you had to give away you gave to the large farmers.

Order: Deputy O'Higgins.

I am most anxious to proceed.

Did the small farmers gain under it? Ranchers, some of whom never kept a cow, are the people who gained under it.

Will Deputies please cease interrupting and allow Deputy O'Higgins to continue on his amendment?

Deputy Allen has brought his mind to bear on a most important point, namely, that what I am saying could be relevant, not only to the farmer's farmyard but to his held.

Clarify it for me. That is the main thing.

Yes, and I am prepared to put Deputy Allen at the head of the class.

Thank you.

We have now reached a situation where, if we leave this definition section unaltered, we could conceivably have interference by ministerial order or regulation with a private sale by a farmer of his own beasts, not merely in his own yard, but, as Deputy Alien reminds be, in his own field.

And on the road?

I am not so much concerned with the public highway as with a man's private property, dealing with his own property by private bargain and sale on his own land. That is what I am concerned with. Deputy Alien reminds me that what I am saying could apply with equal force and, I am sure, with equal clarity, to the situation where the sale is conducted, not in the yard, but in the field.

I have felt, since this discussion started, that it was not the deliberate policy of the Minister or the Government to interfere with private sales of this sort and I am still so convinced, notwithstanding the earlier intervention of some Fianna Fáil Deputies. Possibly I will have an opportunity of referring to those shortly. I am still not convinced that it is deliberate policy on the part of the Government to take power in this measure to regulate in any way or to interfere in any way with the free system of bargaining and selling by a man of his own livestock on his own property, but the danger exists. Deputy Cunningham referred some time ago to his idea of what would require to be licensed. Again, let me say that I agree with Deputy Cunningham in this. I am afraid this applies not merely to auctions but also to private sales.

At column 1807 of the Official Report of Friday last, Deputy Clinton said:

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.

Clearly, Deputy Clinton had in mind what Deputy Hogan referred to earlier, that was, the conduct of an auction in the farmer's yard, and the only adaptation which Deputy Clinton visualised was the placing of some bales of straw for seating accommodation for those there to bid. It is the use of the words "there to bid" in what Deputy Clinton said that makes me take the view that he was referring to an auction. At this stage Deputy Cunningham came in and said: "It must be licensed". According to Deputy Cunningham, even though the only adaptation taking place is the placing of a few bales of straw to make comfortable seating under cover for people who are there to bid, even though that is the only manner in which the place is adapted, a licence is required. The particular specific query I want to put to the brace of Parliamentary Secretaries here at the moment——

They are not grouse, you know. That is a bad slip. You must never have followed grouse.

Perhaps I am not a grouser.

He is sniping.

The particular query I want to put to them is: If, in the circumstances outlined by Deputy Clinton and which Deputy Cunningham says would require a licence, instead of contemplating an auction what was contemplated as a private sale, if the farmer had collected together his cattle, his sheep or his pigs into his farmyard, if he had a buyer, who customarily took the beasts from that area, coming along to inspect them to see if they were up to the standard that he required; and if in order to assist that man in his cogitations when inspecting the beasts, the farmer brings out a few bales of straw or, indeed, the kitchen chair and asks the buyer to sit on it while he is viewing the cattle, there an auction is not being held but livestock is being offered for sale privately. Would either of the Parliamentary Secretaries say if in those circumstances the position still is that the farmyard or, if one takes Deputy Allen's amendment of it, the field, has been adapted for the sale of livestock by auction, even though no auction is taking place or is contemplated?

Could you reconstruct a field?

No; that is the whole point of the amendment. I am very glad the Parliamentary Secretary has contributed now to the discussion, because that is the all-important point of the amendment, and the Parliamentary Secretary is absolutely relevant when he makes that point. The word "adapted" is used in the definition and I am complaining, and other Deputies are complaining, that in this context it is too vague and too loose; it leaves the whole position too elastic and it can embrace all sorts of transactions which should not be embraced.

You can adapt a field but you cannot reconstruct it.

That is the whole point.

"Adapt" is what we want. You want "reconstruct".

Yes. Will you give it to me?

It means nothing. You cannot reconstruct a field. You can adapt it.

That is the whole point.

Do you want to cover sales in a field?

I am talking about a man's own field and I am saying if you want to establish a livestock mart that then——

You would have to adapt a field.

You cannot reconstruct it.

That is what the Parliamentary Secretary is saying.

No. That is what the Deputy is saying.

I had better explain it from the start.

The Deputy is confusing me with facts.

I can say that "figures". The position is that the definition section as it stands refers to a place being adapted.

A field. You want to reconstruct it.

We are suggesting that that is too elastic, that a minor modification, a temporary change, a slight adaptation, can be brought in under that definition and that accidental transactions which were never intended or contemplated should be covered by this Bill will be brought in. Deputy Mark Clinton suggested a solution for the difficulty earlier. The House, by majority decision, decided not to accept that solution. I then, in amendment No. 1a, suggested another solution and the House again, by majority vote, decided not to accept that solution. Now I am suggesting another possible solution, that we drop completely the use of the word "adapted" and substitute instead the words "constructed or reconstructed". The Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach possibly was not here when I opened the discussion on this amendment, and possibly that is why he feels a bit at sea at the moment.

No. I heard everything the Deputy said out in another room.

He will be here when Deputy O'Higgins is closing.

That is more than the Deputy can say about the county committee of agriculture because when they closed it he was not there and he was put off it; so I would not pose as an expert on agriculture, if I were he, because his neighbours do not think he is.

The point we are making here is that if the Government should decide, as we trust they will, to accept this amendment, then in order that the licensing provisions, the exemption provisions and the regulation provisions contained in this Bill would have any application at all to any place, it will be necessary that there should have taken place a construction or a reconstruction and that a livestock mart in the proper sense should have been constructed or reconstructed, that there will not be anything accidental about it, that there will not be any haphazard application of this section, that we shall all know what we mean and what we are doing.

Hear, hear.

I do not know whether I have succeeded in convincing either the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries or the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach.

Deputy Carty is coming to understand it.

No. I think Deputy O'Higgins has gone completely off the mark. He is talking for talk's sake, because "adapt" is the word.

The Parliamentary Secretary is right in that. "Adapt" is the word that is here. The purpose of this amendment is to take it out.

Because you can adapt a field but you cannot construct or reconstruct a field. We want to exclude a field and you want to exclude it.

We do not.

You do not propose to conduct sales in a field?

Section 4 deals with that clearly.

It does include sales in a farmer's field, as it stands, and to exempt him you will have to have recourse to section 4. Every farmer in the country who wants to sell a beast in a field must get an exemption under section 4.

That is exactly what we have been trying to prove today, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach has spotted it.

Does the Parliamentary Secretary accept that or not?

He has spotted it at once, and he is perfectly right.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary prepared to stand up and give his reasons? If he is, I shall be more than happy to make way for him.

I know the Deputy would.

The Parliamentary Secretary has seen the point of it. He says this includes sales in a field, and you cannot construct a field or reconstruct it. The Parliamentary Secretary is a Daniel come to judgment, and in a moment he has perceived the whole heart of this matter. He is perfectly right. The purpose of our amendment is to say that you must have a structure which is recognisable as a mart. The Parliamentary Secretary truly says: "You cannot construct or reconstruct a field. You can adapt it but you cannot construct or reconstruct it." That is exactly what we have been trying to make this House see since half past ten this morning.

The purpose of our amendment is to confine the application of this Bill to what is in the ordinary accepted sense of the term, the cattle mart. We have offered alternatives. It may occur to the mind of the Leas-Cheann Comhairle and that of other Deputies that we are obstructing but I have sat here for many years in my time. We have offered five amendments as alternatives in order to achieve the very purpose the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach says is essential. He says that you cannot construct or reconstruct a field. Exactly: we have tried to put in five separate, alternative methods of avoiding the very confusion which the Parliamentary Secretary, coming with a fresh mind to this discussion, promptly discerns.

If we were dealing with a sane Minister, would he not say: "I do not like Nos. 1, 2, 3 or 5 but I shall take No. 4"? If he had said that ten hours ago, I do not doubt that this front bench would say: "We would prefer Nos. 1 or 2 or 3 or 5 but if we can find agreement on No. 4, which we believe would be a substantial improvement of the section, that is what we are looking for". But from the beginning of this disscussion the attitude of the Minister has been that he will not accept any qualification, and that refusal to accept the qualification, is perceived at once by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach who comes in here with a fresh mind as meaning that it includes every field in Ireland. The poor Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture jumps in quickly and says: "We have section 4." The old and experienced operator here is often caught out by the too-bright boys who say: "Two and two make five" and he says: "Master, two and two do not make five; they make four." Then they find themselves in the position that they have to say: "What I meant to say is that two and two do not make five." They change in a twinkling. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture changed feet at once. But the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach is right. He has gone to the very heart of the matter.

This definition section covers every field in Ireland and we want to insert words into it which will make the Parliamentary Secretary say most sensibly: "You cannot construct or reconstruct a field". Exactly: that is what we want to do. If you prefer to say that the place is not habitually used or is not permanently used, these are alternatives, all of them designed to ensure that there will not be brought within the ambit of this Bill a farmer's field or indeed a farmer's yard or indeed that which all of us here know very well is not a livestock mart. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, who has been in and out of this debate very constantly and has been well schooled as a result, knows that the meaning of the section as it stands is far wider—who says "no"?

Somebody outside the door.

How discreet they have become. Interrupting from outside the door is a very safe occupation. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture fully understands that this definition section is far too wide and he immediately falls back on section 4 which he says we can accept. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach: does he think it is good legislation of Oireachtas Éireann to have a definition section which brings within the ambit of the Livestock Marts Bill every field and farmer's yard in Ireland? I think he would agree with me that it is not. His own interjection is one of the most powerful and effective made in this whole debate: you cannot construct or reconstruct a field. That is exactly our point. We want to use words that make it clear to the judiciary and to the people that this Bill is designed to apply to what every Deputy knows to be a livestock mart.

But it is possible, and we are accepting the possibility, that there might be a place where auctions of cattle are casually held but which, under the terms of this Bill, would no longer qualify for a licence. If the proprietor constructed something new there or reconstructed what was already there, he could benefit under section 3 (6), which provides that anybody who has been in the business of selling cattle by auction in the past can automatically become entitled to a licence on the passing of this Bill without a permit from the Minister other than that which he is constrained by statute to give. Then the person who has been in the business of selling cattle by auction brings his premises into conformity with the general regulations. They are constructed or reconstructed, but it is perfectly clear as the Parliamentary Secretary said, that if somebody comes along and says: "I have constructed or reconstructed a field," one can say: "How the hell can you reconstruct a field?" I say that if the Minister comes along and says: "You cannot sell cattle by auction or otherwise"— remember these vital words which go to the root of all these amendments —"without my licence and permit under the Livestock Marts Act," we want to put the farmer in the position of saying: "What the hell are you talking about? This is a field. This is the kind of place the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach said that you could not construct or reconstruct. If that applies in this place, how can you claim that your Marts Act would bring regulations to bear on it?"

We should be most grateful to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach. He has gone to the heart of the matter and he has done so because he came into this discussion with a fresh mind. He does not hold himself out to be a farmer bur he has lived all his life among them and has had dealings with the parents of the children coming to school. He knows the language they speak and the circumstances of their lives and it is only somebody like him who has had that experience who would instinctively burst out and say: "You cannot construct or reconstruct a field." Now does it dawn on the Parliamentary Secretary why we suggested these words would be a useful safeguard? Somebody said that we wanted to exclude from the ambit of this Bill——

How do you control an auction in the held if you have not the word "adapted"? Auctions do take place in fields, particularly of sheep. How do you control them then?

This is what fascinates me. As individual Fianna Fáil Deputies raise questions, it becomes more abundantly clear that, with the exception of the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary, we are allad idem. We all agree. What we are really trying to do is what Deputy O'Connor wants to do.

You are trying to leave the door open.

No, we are not.

Indeed you are.

We are trying to ensure that this Bill will apply to cattle marts.

Is an auction held in a field to sell various animals not tantamount to a mart?

If it has to be controlled——

Carry on: I see Deputy O'Connor's problem. It is very understandable. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach is vamoosing.

No. I am not.

I am grateful to him for his intervention. He has thrown a flood of light on the whole problem. The person responsible for the long delay is the Minister. The Bill is designed to deal with cattle marts. Is that not so?


This Bill is not intended to deal with livestock. The whole purpose of the Bill is to leave out of the control of the Bill a whole vast area. Is that not so? The whole object of the Bill is to leave outside its control a vast area dealing in livestock. This Bill is concerned only to control the sale and purchase of livestock in livestock marts. Is that not so? If that is your purpose, then you should go to section 1 which is the directive to the judiciary, telling them what they are to have regard to in any proceedings connected with the Livestock Marts Bill. We want to tell the courts that this is not a Bill, as Deputy Dowling thinks, to control the sale of livestock. We want to tell the judiciary, as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach so sensibly thinks, that this is not a Bill dealing with farmers' fields. It is a Bill to deal only with places constructed or reconstructed to function as cattle marts.

As livestock marts.

What puzzles me is that every single member of the Fianna Fáil Party who has entered this discussion with anything approximating to an open mind is in factad idem with us. The ridiculous thing is that we have taken the trouble to find five separate alternative ways of giving the appropriate directions to the judiciary and the Minister sits like a bump on a log and says: “No, no, no, no, no.”

We have said that without some qualifying word, the Bill extends to a far wider area than he meant it to extend to, and he says: "Yes, and that is why I have put in section 4, the exemption section, because I want the right to exempt by order the people I have unintentionally brought in".

We say to him that this is not the way to make the law. The way to make the law is, when drafting a Bill, to get as near to precision as humanly possible. We are prepared to say to him that having done that, we will give him section 4 with suitable safeguards to deal with exceptional cases such as where there might be an agricultural show at which an auction might be held which it would be desirable to exempt from the operation of the Bill. Instead of saying to us: "Well, that is fair. Let us put our joint minds together to put in the definition section as comprehensive and effective a definition as we can", he says: "I want a grab-all definition under which exemptions can be made by executive order". The moment the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach and Deputy O'Connor walk into the House with fresh minds, they spot that at once themselves, but what they do not spot is that what we have been trying to do is to achieve that which they themselves think ought to be done.

It is most reprehensible on the part of the Minister that we have taken the trouble to find five different ways of applying the necessary limiting words; we offered any one of the five as meeting in some measure the case we are making and the case which I believe most Fianna Fáil Deputies believe requires to be made; and the Minister's answer is: "I am not even prepared to discuss it. I do not propose to attend in the House while it is being discussed." So long as he disposes of an absolute majority who are prepared to jump when they are told to jump, that kind of thing can be done, but it will not be done for ever. In the meantime, a useful service is done for the country, and I think a useful service is done in the education of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister. If the Parliamentary Secretary is coming to understand that his colleagues in his Party agree with us, then he is coming to understand why. Mind you, the Parliamentary Secretary could take a worse preceptor than his colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach. He did not come down in yesterday's shower. He is no fool, and he has a very shrewd understanding of the people of rural Ireland. Let us recall his intervention. "You cannot construct or reconstruct a field." If we were talking for months, we could not more eloquently defend the amendment in the name of Deputy M.J. O'Higgins. "You cannot construct or reconstruct a field." The purpose of our amendment is to say to the judge or the district justice: "Is it not manifest that in the words `construct or reconstruct' in the definition section, Oireachtas Éireann cannot have been referring to a farmer's field?"

Every one of the Deputies sitting on the other side of the House knows that the logic and justice and common sense of this matter are on our side, and that in regard to this section there is nothing on the other side of the House on the front bench but what is known in the Province of Ulster as a man who has got thick. The Leas-Cheann Comhairle and others who know Donegal or Monaghan or Cavan realise that when talking to a man who normally reacts fairly rationally, if he gets what we speak of in that part of Ireland as thick, he is no longer susceptible to reason. There is another adjective which describes that state of mind, that is, berserk. Whether he is thick or berserk, the situation is that the Minister will not meet any one of the five amendments which every one of his colleagues who has spoken admits are reasonable. That is not a good enough reason for forcing legislation like this through this House.

I feel at this stage of the debate that the Government should accept this amendment. I believe as Deputy Dillon has stated that members of the back benches of the Fianna Fáil Party who have made it their business to examine this Bill in detail and who have come into this House with anything like open minds, find themselves psychologically on these benches here. The Parliamentary Secretary, who, I believe, is the only one close to the Minister for Agriculture in the Fianna Fáil Party at the moment——

The whole Fianna Fáil Party is close to the Minister.

That does not seem to be the position. I have been approached by people in Donegal asking me to make representations to the Minister to amend this Bill. I know these people have also made similar representations to Deputy Cunningham.

Deputy Cunningham stated this morning that they had not.

Deputy Cunningham stated that for the first time this morning. I know that people have been in conversation with me about this Bill and have discussed it in great detail with me.

Over the telephone.

Deputy Dowling knows as much about a cattle mart as the things that are sold in a cattle mart know about him. He should confine himself to the Pigeon House because there is as much gas in Deputy Dowling as would keep the Pigeon House busy.

It is not gas is in the Pigeon House; it is electricity.

A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, you come from the same county as I do and you represent the same type of people as I represent. You have listened to the same stories.

We dealt with this last night and again this morning.

I am asserting my democratic right to try to convince Deputies, who will parade through this House behind the Minister and make yes-men of themselves, that they should not do so. I am trying to make them think instead of acting as yes-men. That is not what they are sent here for.

That is what you do.

Does Deputy Dowling want to intervene?

That is the day I would like to see.

Is it not reasonable to ask the Government to delete the word "adapted" in this section and substitute for it the words "constructed or reconstructed"? We have people like Deputy O'Connor coming here from Kerry who find it impossible to understand the Minister and so they have to agree with Deputy Dillon.

Nobody could agree with Deputy Dillon.

Why do you not retire to your Party room and discuss these matters among yourselves?

Why do you not retire to Strabane?

There is a very progressive cattle mart conducted in Strabane and the Stormont Government do not propose to do with it what this Government propose to do with the cattle marts here which have been built up by the contributions of the farmers. The cattle mart at Strabane was erected by the urban council.

We are getting away from the amendment.

We all know that there are traditional means of selling cattle and in Donegal, one of these is by cattle dispersal sales. If the farmers feel that it is right for them to sell their cattle by this means and that they can obtain a better price for them by doing so, they should be allowed to continue to sell them by this method. No matter what Deputy Dowling tells us he knows about a cattle mart, he knows as much about it as the animals sold there know about him, and so he should confine his remarks to the Fianna Fáil Party room, or else should listen to the suggestions made by Deputy Carty who seems to agree with the views expressed on this side of the House.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.