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

Debate resumed on the following amendment:
In page 2, line 15, after "adapted" to insert "and habitually used".
—(Deputy M.J. O'Higgins).

This amendment seeks to insert after the word "adapted" in the definition of the business of a livestock mart, the words "and habitually used". To that amendment the Minister has objected on the ground that the words "and habitually used" are too vague. There is a fundamental flaw in this whole Bill which derives from the fact that this Bill was not drafted with deliberation to achieve a certain purpose. It was drafted precipitately in pursuit of a silly personal vendetta by the Minister against the National Farmers Association. Therefore, at the crucial point of preparing a definition section the matter of defining what exactly it was sought to control under this vendetta Bill presented a problem which had to be solved by the draftsman in a very limited time and so we have the business of a livestock mart defined as the business of selling livestock by auction or providing, for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise, a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction. If you adapt a place for that purpose you automatically are deemed to be a person engaged in the business of a livestock mart and thus come under the control of sections 2, 3 and the subsequent sections of this Bill.

The problem arises at once as to what the word "adapted", in fact, covers and we have heard it suggested from the Fianna Fáil benches that it might cover a field. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach pointed out that you could not construct or reconstruct a field and for that reason he argued strongly against a previous amendment suggesting the insertion of these words. But, remember that if you are deemed to have adapted a field, you are prohibited thereafter from selling cattle not only by auction but otherwise, that is, by hand, in that field.

We have had an analogous piece of legislation in this House relating to auctioneers but that piece of legislation was drafted prudently and after due deliberation. Do not let the House forget that, as a result of that, the Auctioneers Bill, which covered a vast business which is represented in every town and city in the country, passed through the House virtually without any division. There was some discussion in Committee but in each case any amendment proposed by the Opposition resulted in a substantial consensus where it was adopted in part or in whole by the Government, and at the conclusion of the debate, there were mutual congratulations that the discussion here had provided a better Bill.

When we come to ask ourselves, under the Auctioneers and House Agents Act of 1947, what is a licensed auctioneer, we find in section 2 the expression " `licensed auctioneer' means a holder of an auctioneer's licence", and nobody comes under the scope of this Act or the subsequent Act which was recently passed in the House except a person holding an auctioneer's licence.

Most of the Deputies, even those who came into Dáil Éireann only at the last general election, will remember that when the Auctioneers Bill of 1967 came before the House, the Second Stage passed in an hour and a half. On the Committee Stage, no dissension or prolonged argumentation arose, and the Bill took three hours of the House's time in totality. The reasons were obvious. Everybody knew precisely the scope of the business with which we were dealing, the people who would become subject to the Bill. There was only one issue in doubt and that was whether the Bill would include control of what then was coming to be known pretty generally in 1947 as an evil institution. We removed that doubt very simply by the first paragraph of section 2 which stated:

(i) In this Act—

the word "auction" includes a Dutch auction and the word "auctioneer" shall be construed accordingly.

Here in this Marts Bill we face the situation that nobody in the House knows, including the Minister, who will be deemed to be a person engaged in the business of a livestock mart or what premises will be deemed to have been adapted in such a way as to make the owner thereof a person engaged in the business of a livestock mart. We regard the Bill as evil and we shall repeal it in due course. Butad interim we think it is very unfortunate that a piece of legislation of this kind pours petrol on an inflammable situation which we have consistently worked to damp down and control.

Is there anybody in Ireland who wants this Bill in its present form? There may be odd individuals in the country who think that the business of a cattle mart, as we understand it, should be in some measure controlled or directed by the Department of Agriculture. I doubt very much if there is anybody in Ireland who wants a situation created in which virtually everybody who buys or sells a beast may be brought under the control of this Bill, depending on whether the Minister will make exemption orders subsequently under a later section of the Bill. I do not believe there is any living creature in the country who wants this Bill on its merits, or that there is any member of the Fianna Fáil Party who wants it on its merits. I believe the Minister wants it because he has got thick, in the North of Ireland sense of that word, and certain members of his Party feel that once a member of the Fianna Fáil Government has brought a Bill before the House, they have an obligation to fight it out and support him through thick and thin, right or wrong.

We have sought in the definition section to limit effectively and by the words of the statute the scope of the expression "the business of a livestock mart". Some new Deputies who are unfamiliar with the procedure of legislation may take scandal in the fact that a responsible Opposition should spend days debating a definition section; they may have the feeling that even if something is wrong here it can be put right hereafter. They ought to realise—this is as good a time as any for them to learn — that the whole purpose of a vigilant legislator is to secure that the Bill, when it leaves this House, will give the Executive, that is, the Government for the time being, the powers the Oireachtas thinks the Government ought to have and no more. It is the function of the Oireachtas to be vigilant to see that the Government do not come in here and get the omnibus general authorisation to do as they please, even though they give an assurance: "We intend to be good boys and to use this with prudence and discretion." I do not believe this Government are capable of using anything with prudence or discretion, but even if I thought they were a Government who were both prudent and discreet, we would be abdicating our function if we left them with powers we do not think they ought to have or they ought to exercise.

The Minister makes the case: "You cannot give me the powers I ought to have and that I need to have to implement the Bill unless you give them to me in the omnibus terms of the definition section I have submitted to the House." We have proposed seven alternative methods of limiting the omnibus character of the definition section, not in the hope of improving the Bill, because we do not think it can be improved, but in the hope of giving the people the certainty as to who is subject to its provisions and, what is much more important, in order to make it as clear as crystal to the judiciary who is subject to the penalties and sanctions of the subsequent sections if hereafter the Minister should bring proceedings against any individual under the terms of this legislation.

The Bill at present reads:

"business of a livestock mart" means the business of selling livestock by auction or providing, for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise, a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction;

Does anybody here believe the Minister or the Executive should exercise the powers under this Bill against anybody who does not provide, for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise, a place adapted and "habitually used" for the sale of livestock by auction? I do not believe there is a Deputy here who thinks the powers of this Bill should be used against anybody except somebody whose place could be properly described by the phrase "habitually used". The Minister says it is vague. Can it be as vague as the words "providing, for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise, a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction"?

It means it comes under the provisions of the Bill even before it is used, if it has been adapted for that purpose.

"Adapted and habitually used" would be better still.

Deputy Booth throws a floodlight on this. The place is adapted but it is not being used for the auctioning of livestock.

It must be licensed before it is used.

Right. It is reported to the Minister that Deputy Booth has adapted his premises for the sale of livestock by auction. Deputy Booth says to the Minister: "I never asked you for a licence——"

The planning authorities would have advance notice.

Wait a moment. The Minister's officers come to the Deputy's premises and a man meets them at the gate and says: "Good afternoon, gentlemen, what can I do for you?" They say they are officers of the Department of Agriculture and produce their identity documents and say: "We are here to inspect your premises." The man says: "Why?" They say: "Because you have adapted them for the sale of livestock". He replies: "What about it? Is this not a free country?" They say: "Of course it is". Then he tells them: "You can go away. I am conducting no livestock auctions and I have not sought a licence. What business have you here?" Does Deputy Booth agree that he is entitled to deny entrance to the officers of the Department of Agriculture if he has not sought a licence, if he has conducted no sale? The officers say to the man: "No, we are not going away. Look at section 1 of the Act. It says: `the business of a livestock mart means the business of selling livestock by auction', but that is not all it means. It means providing for the sale of livestock by auction or otherwise. We heard you sold a cow here yesterday." The man replies: "Do you mean to tell me I cannot sell a cow in my own yard?""No," they say, "because you have adapted the place for the sale of livestock by auction. You did not apply for a licence but you sold a cow. Now we are coming in to inspect your premises and to prosecute you because you have done that on your premises which you are not entitled to do."

Suppose Deputy Booth were entitled to say: "I do not come within this definition at all and if you want to say that I come within the ambit of the Bill as a result of certain alterations I have made, you must establish not only that I applied for a licence and got it —which you know I have not done— but you must also establish that, having adapted the place, I have habitually used it for the purpose of conducting auctions of livestock". They may then say to him: "You are trying to insert the thin edge of the wedge, Mr. Booth. You must come under the control of the Livestock Marts Bill because the Minister is particularly concerned to ensure that places adapted for the sale of livestock by auction will not be used for the sale of cattle by hand."

The Deputy means that you must break the law first?

No. Unless you are at variance with the law, the executive officers of no Department of State have any right to enter your premises. Surely Deputy Booth is entitled to prune his roses without the horticultural officers of the Department coming along to see how he is doing it? If they did, the Deputy would surely be entitled to say to them: "Go to blazes. There is no regulation requiring me to prune my roses in accordance with the directions of the Department of Agriculture." We would all agree that the horticultural officers of the Department could give Deputy Booth or myself invaluable information about the pruning of roses, and if I were the Minister for Agriculture and these officers came to me and told me that they had offered their assistance to Deputy Booth and that he had told them to go away, I would telephone Deputy Booth and say: "Mr. so and so journeyed out to your house to give you the benefit of his advice in regard to the pruning of your roses. How did it happen that you insulted him?" Deputy Booth would probably reply: "He did not do that at all, Minister. If he had come to the house and said: `May I be of any assistance to you, seeing that you are an enthusiastic rose grower and I would like to help? Perhaps there are some hints we can give you', that would be all right. He did not do that at all. He came to my gate. He produced his identity card and said: `I am an officer of the Department of Agriculture and I am going to inspect your premises. I want to inspect your roses'. I said: `Go away and inspect your own roses' and I put him out."

The fascinating thing is that when Fianna Fáil Deputies begin to understand what our amendments to this section really involve, they are all for them. I cannot acquit Deputy Booth as he is here long enough to understand the problems with which we are confronted. I do not blame some of the younger Deputies who came in only at the last election and who are bewildered and do not know what we are up to, but Deputy Booth should be aware that we are trying to introduce into this definition section a provision that leaves somebody who is not, in fact, in the ordinary commonsense meaning of the word, in the business of a livestock mart, in a position to stand at his gate and tell the officers of the Department or any other representative of the executive: "I do not give a damn what documents you produce. Clear away from here."

But the person must be in the business of providing a place——

Yes, but when you come to find out what is being in the business of providing a livestock mart, how is that defined? It is defined not only as the business of selling livestock by auction—that is only one part of it; that is understandable to everybody but it goes on to say: the business of a livestock mart is providing——

No, "the business of providing".

Has the Deputy got the Bill before him?

Look at it.

I have looked at it.

After the word "or" in line 14, you must draw a line. The word "or" separates the two definitions of the business of a livestock mart. The first definition is that it means the business of selling livestock by auction. That is clear. Now draw a line after that and then there is the other definition which says that it means providing, for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise, a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction.

But there is no line, or even a comma, after the word "or".

Now I understand. Deputy Booth does not understand the section. What Deputy Booth wants to say is: "I am in favour of the first simple definition which is the business of selling livestock by auction——"

Which is also cockeyed.

We are all agreed about that, whether it is cockeyed or not.

While Deputy Dillon is on his feet he might deal with this too. The seller is the owner of the beast, the vendor. That is why I say the first part is cockeyed.

We are not dealing with that.

There is the second part of the definition. If you never engaged in the business of selling livestock by auction, you can engage in the business of holding sales of livestock by auction or otherwise.

You are engaged in the business of providing.

The business of livestock marts providing for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction.

The word "business" qualifies both phrases. It means the business of selling and the business of providing.

The business of selling livestock by auction or providing for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction. All we are trying to secure is that we ought to say, instead of what is in the Bill, providing for the holding of sales of livestock by auction a place adapted and habitually used for the sale of livestock by auction.

If an officer of the Department comes into the Deputy's premises adapted for the sale of livestock by auction he is in a position to say: "You have habitually used this for that purpose and you have got to face the fact that you are now subject to the terms of the Livestock Marts Bill and you are not entitled to sell livestock by auction on those premises".

At what stage, if the man has already been selling do you say: "As and from this date you have been habitually selling. Up to last week you were not but this week you are"?

I would expect a reasonable officer from the Department to say—mind you, that is an assumption but I would expect most officers of the Department to say this—that as he had not been habitually selling livestock, it is all right, and he would walk away. He would then say that it would suit the Department's officers to keep an eye on that premises so that they would know what was going on and they could see if he was habitually selling livestock.

Could we have a definition of "habitually"?

If Deputy Booth went on the batter once a year, would I think it conformed with charity, not to speak of justice, if I described him as an habitual drunkard?

Suppose Deputy Booth were whipped into the House to vote, as we all are, and judging the situation that there would be no division before 9 o'clock, he left with Deputy Carty a note to say: "Ring me at 67342 where I am visiting a sick friend if there is a sudden division" and then slipped out to the Savoy Cinema and left his name at the door. The phone rang and then it was flashed on the screen: "Would Deputy Booth please come out to the door." He was then told that there was a call from Deputy Carty to ask if Deputy Booth would come back as there was a division on. Deputy Carty would say: "When I rang the number, they said it was the Savoy Cinema, and I said `Get that fellow moved out of that'." Deputy Booth would say: "It does not matter whether it was a sick friend or not, I am here now." If that happened once a year in justice, never mind charity, surely I could not describe Deputy Booth as an habitual liar?

We have to be reasonable. The language of legislation need not be utterly foreign to all common sense in order to have legislative meaning. We all know what "habitual" means. Mind you, I do not deny that the use of the word "habitual" could conceivably bring in one-tenth of one per cent of borderline cases.

It does not eliminate the uncertainty which the Deputy is trying to get away from.

It does not, but I say without hesitation that, if there is this extraordinary borderline case in which the whole determination rests on the interpretation of the words "habitually used", decide in favour of the defendant. That is the whole problem here. Are we going out with a fine comb to go through the population to secure victory for prosecution, or as the Minister says, is the Department of Agriculture concerned to go out and tell farmers?

I remember very well exactly a parallel case arising when it was sought to control the illegal curing of bacon just after the War, in 1948— precisely the same as this. There were certain people who were licensed to cure bacon and certain persons who were licensed pork butchers and then there were ordinary pork butchers. The licensed pork butcher had the right to pickle pork if it was threatening to go bad, to keep it, but he must not make bacon. The only person entitled to make bacon was the licensed bacon curer. We had to confine it to them because we were rationing bacon.

The suggestion was put to me: "Let us go out and catch this person. Let us get the plain clothes gardaí to go out and seize the premises". I said: "You know well who is at this business. Get the largest member of the Dublin Metropolitan Garda and tell him to go down to that premises. Stand him directly in front of the premises at 8 o'clock every morning and let him tramp up and down outside, shaking the windows with the weight of his footsteps. I do not want to prosecute everybody but I want to fix them with notice that they are not going to get away with murder". There was only one person who was prosecuted and that person was one of my youngest political supporters. She was carrying on the illegal curing of bacon. God bless her, she is in Heaven now and despite this, she said: "He is still the best Minister for Agriculture". She was a true-blue, and I like true-blues.

My purpose was instead of catching people, to notify them that we were on to what they were up to and they were to stop. If they did not stop we could go in the back door or the front door and get after them. We had the whole situation controlled within a month. I do not believe there were two prosecutions. All we are trying to seek here is that we will have a definition of the business of a livestock mart which will not leave Deputy Booth, with all his experience in this Dáil, in the position in which he will not know whether he is obliged to open his gate and reluctantly admit an authorised officer of the Department or not. Is that an unreasonable stipulation?

Deputy Booth asks: "What do you mean? Do you mean regularly used in the past or regularly used in the future?" I say I mean "habitually used". If there is any doubt about this, do not trust me: put a large member of the Garda Síochána walking up and down outside the premises and it will very soon become manifest whether the owner of the premises is habitually using them for the sale of livestock by auction.

The whole thesis of the Government is that a person has adapted his premises which involves some expenditure, presumably, which involves some prospective user of the premises. In the name of Providence, why should we assume in reason that a person, having adapted his premises for the conduct thereon of the business of a livestock mart, should padlock the gate and never use it again? If this is the intention, why the hell was it ever adapted? We are used to this ridiculous situation that the Minister sees in the words "habitual use" an element of doubt which would provide an insoluble administrative problem. What is the problem?

By his powers of observation to determine, does this man intend habitually to use these premises for the sale of livestock by auction? Would any Deputy tell me, if that is not the person's intention, what the blazes did he adapt the premises for. Was it for fun? Was it because he was avoiding income tax? Was it because he liked the appearance of cattle pens round the house? Was it because he wanted the fun of negotiating with the planning authority? Unless you assume that we are about to deal with lunatics, there can be no doubt or question that the acid test of whether a man is engaging in the business of a livestock mart will ultimately pivot on the question of whether he habitually uses the adapted premises for the sale of livestock by auction.

It is a bad thing, Sir, to be faced with the fact of the refusal of an Irish Minister even to discuss any evidence of understanding or desire for compromise evidenced by the amendments put down by the Opposition of this House, which gave rise to a situation in which we are faced with the fact of closure and the guillotine this evening. I concede, Sir, that the kind of proceedings that we have been engaged in in the past three days of tendentious and endless debate causes me some distress. I asked myself last night after this House adjourned: "What is the reason for this? Why are we locked in this extended discussion; why are we talking in terms of closure and in terms of a guillotine? When did this happen before?" As people grow older, they tend to become more preoccupied with history. The last time anybody belonging to me engaged in activity of this kind was in the British House of Commons when we were fighting a Coercion Bill. The antagonists were Buckshot Forster, a poor old Yorkshireman who did not know anything about this country, who did not understand it, but who was doing his duty according to his lights. He was put out and rejected under the pressure of protracted debate. They called it obstruction in those days. The next time it was used was to challenge Bloody Balfour who hated this country. He was a member of the Salisbury family and he hated our people. He despised them and he believed that you could not deal with the Irish people by the ordinary process of legislation.

It suddenly struck me that here is the key to the problem confronting us in Dáil Éireann today. We are not dealing with ordinary legislation. We are not dealing with the kind of Bill that ought to be before Dáil Éireann at all. We are dealing with the same kind of legislation as Balfour sought to invoke against our people because he hated our people. Because the Minister for Agriculture hates a particular farming organisation in this country, this Bill is directed against that organisation. That is why there is no reason; that is why there is no argument; that is why there is no dialogue between us. It does not matter that we propose to limit this Bill to the purpose for which it is alleged to be introduced. The fantastic fact is that the Minister himself comes of the very kind of people that Bloody Balfour persecuted and evicted and destroyed. Having attained to ministerial office in his own country, he is actuated by the same vindictive hatred that sent Balfour down the road he travelled.

Is not that a deplorable situation? Mind you, the Minister was born not so far away from some of the bloodiest evictions that took place in the country. It ought to be in his blood to repudiate the methods and motives of men like Balfour. Let him examine his concience. He has reduced the situation here in Dáil Éireann to the situation in which the British House of Commons stood 80 years ago. Mind you, the most informed observers of the contemporary scene in 1887 said these people were battering their heads against a stone wall, battling against the power of the British Empire. Where is that Empire now and where are the sons of the men who were battering their heads against a wall 80 years ago? We are here running our own country. Should we not be worthy of that freedom? Should we not show the world that we know how to run it, that we know how to differ with dignity, that we know how to resolve our differences with dignity and that we know how to legislate with propriety?

Now, Sir, I am trying to cure a definition section of this Bill. We are now in the third week of July. Why, why? I want to recall this to the House, because it is very relevant to this amendment, which I believe to be an eminently reasonable one, one which would in no way embarrass the Minister in the implementation of the rest of the Bill, from which I emphatically dissent. Judgment has been passed upon the rest of the Bill by the Second Reading division. Why are we here? I want to voice this objection; Deputy Tully is here now and he can correct me if my story is untrue. But I want to voice this complaint now, so that Deputy Seán Lemass can repudiate it if I say anything which is not strictly accurate.

Deputy Corish, Deputy Tully, Deputy Sweetman and I met Deputy Seán Lemass and Senator Ryan. Deputy Seán Lemass, who was then Taoiseach, asked us if we would collaborate with him to ensure that we would not have these tag-end debates at the end of a long session because, he said: "I do not think you can get useful legislation out of that; everybody is tired; people tend to get irritable and generally it is desirable to avoid it. I suggest to you that what we should try to do is to get the important legislation, about which we may have fundamental differences, in between, say, October and February, and then from February to the end of the session, dispose of the finance business of the House, on the understanding the Government will be free to ask the Opposition to take, in the concluding stages of the session, either a Bill which is one of manifest urgency —which the Government certify to the House they cannot get on without— or else a Bill we are all agreed will go through in a day as there is nothing in it". Is that a fair report of what was said?

We said: "We think that is a reasonable stipulation". We sat down with the then Taoiseach and Senator Ryan and, as you know, Sir, the Standing Orders were changed in relation to taking divisions on Estimates and in a variety of other ways; I do not want to trespass on your patience by going into the details of all that. But all of the discussions and agreements entered into with the Labour Party and Fine Gael Party with the Fianna Fáil Party were founded on the undertaking of the then Taoiseach. I think Deputy Tully will confirm this, that the then Taoiseach said he would not introduce into the end of the session contentious legislation, unless he felt constrained to say: "The Government cannot carry on over the recess without it". And we said that if it were of that character—if there were a war pending, an urgent problem of rationing, or something of that kind—and the Government said they could not carry on during the recess without it, we would agree, provided it was an exceptional case and they would be justified in bringing it in. We said: "If there is a Bill to facilitate a municipality in carrying out something, about which there is a consensus of agreement, a Bill which would go through in half an hour, bring that in —that is all right—but any Bill of substance, which you learn at Second Stage is one of deep contention, will be left over until the autumn".

Now, Sir, if this discussion has been difficult, protracted, and intractable, it is for the reasons foreseen and provided against by the Leaders of the principal Parties in this House. It was in order to avoid this kind of situation that the Standing Orders were amended to produce the pattern I have described. If there is a scintilla of inaccuracy in that story, I invite Deputy Seán Lemass to intervene and correct me publicly, but I know he will not, because these facts are literally true.

Therefore, I want to ask the House again, Sir, in the knowledge of the circumstances in which these agreements were entered into, in the knowledge that we have been here now for days trying to determine the scope of the application of this proposed Bill, in the name of commonsense and reason —bearing in mind that the Minister has told the Leader of the Labour Party in an exchange across the floor that by the time he has made all the regulations, all the exemptions and so forth he intends to make under the Bill, it cannot operate fully certainly until the first day of next year, and with regard to certain other provisions, cannot operate until the Bill has passed the Seanad and has been signed by the President, if and when it is—why was it brought in a week before this House was scheduled to adjourn?

Is it unreasonable for me to say it was brought in for an ulterior motive? Is it unreasonable for me to assume, in the difficulties in which we find ourselves involved in trying to bring this definition clause into a condition which is in any sense acceptable to the Opposition Parties in this House, that it is because it was brought in precipitately, without due deliberation, and without adequate thought or foresight? Is it unreasonable for me to add that the present Taoiseach—and I invite the Parliamentary Secretary to direct the Taoiseach's attention to this fact—is the successor of Deputy Seán Lemass? I do not think I am unfair in saying that he is bound by the undertakings given by Deputy Seán Lemass to myself, as Leader of the Opposition, and to Deputy Corish as Leader of the Labour Party. We have performed our part of that bargain, on the assumption that the liabilities undertaken by Deputy Seán Lemass, as Taoiseach, were automatically accepted by his successor, Deputy Jack Lynch. We have performed our part, by facilitating the handling of the finance business of the House. Does he perform his part by sanctioning the submission of a Bill of this character to the House at this stage of the parliamentary session and which meets the kind of opposition he was forewarned it would meet, when it runs into the difficulties we warned him time and time again it would meet? Does he think he is fulfilling his part of the bargain when he announces they will put through the Bill?

Whether we like it or not, this is our Parliament. We can run it with dignity and decency and, mind you, these are not easily definable things. But there is not a man or woman sitting here in this House who does not know what dignity and decency mean. We can run it with dignity and decency, or we can run it like men and women berserk. The present proceedings are appropriate to men and women gone berserk. They are that because they are being run in direct violation of procedural arrangements arrived at between all sides in this House, for the express purpose of avoiding the possibility of our drifting into such a situation as we are now in.

I know that when people's face, in the oriental sense of that word, gets involved, it is very often difficult to adjust, and there are certain people who feel that any adjustment of that kind would involve a degree of humility which is inconsistent with their public image. Humility with dignity never belittled any man. I am putting it to the Parliamentary Secretary now and I have a right to charge him to convey that message to the Taoiseach. These proceedings are in direct violation of the honourable undertakings personally given to me and to Deputy Corish, to Deputy Tully and Deputy Sweetman by the Taoiseach and Senator Ryan. They ought to be stopped. This issue can be raised again in the autumn. We will debate the Bill then energetically but it can be disposed of by the ordinary processes of this House. The alternative is that in violation of the Taoiseach's pledged word, you will move the steamroller. The Fianna Fáil Party now have a clear majority in this House. It is an ugly operation. It will be very exhaustively debated before it is allowed to roll. It will be resisted at every revolution of its wheel. It will do the House no good; it will do the country no good; it will do the Deputies, who, after all, represent our people, no good if it is allowed to roll on to the end.

I take it that this amendment is for the purpose so succinctly stated on the face of it. Deputy Booth was in some difficulty as to a definition of "habitually" but I take it to besimpliciter the alternative to “casual” or “non-habitual”, and we are well aware that in relation to the volume of legislation we have, where definitions of this nature are left to unknown authorities or unknown definitors in some well concealed office of some Ministry, we never get the type of answer that legislation originally envisaged.

I cannot see any reason why the Minister cannot accept an amendment like this, which is designed for the purpose of clarification and which will make interpretation very easy in the ultimate working of the Bill and the regulations appropriate thereto. While, like my colleague Deputy Dillon, I abhor the whole esoteric principle behind this Bill, I think it is incumbent upon us as an Opposition to try to make it, bad as it is, a bit better, if the processes of parliamentary procedure, properly used, can so do. I must confess that I frankly have great admiration for the deliberation and consistent effort that is being made by my colleague, Deputy Dillon, in relation to getting clarification,simpliciter, into this Bill.

It is becoming more and more evident, particularly in the shade of the guillotine—I was unaware that my words of wisdom were not being picked up by the sound system—and the Parliamentary Secretary knows it as well as I do, that but for the affronts to the newly-found arrogance of this newly-found Minister for Agriculture, we would not be involved in this acrimonious, tendentious, unnecessary procedure of thrust and parry at this time of the year. I was not aware of the agreement arrived at between the Leaders of all Parties in this House with regard to the manner in which business would be dealt with at this stage of a session until we were addressed in such a clear-cut manner by our colleague, Deputy Dillon, who made the agreement when he was Leader of the Opposition. It does seem to me appalling that we have reached the stage in the exercise of our democratic rights at which a Government, at the whim and caprice of a Minister who wants to carry his vendetta against an organisation too far, allow this complete breach of faith and privilage.

I can see, as I am quite sure the Parliamentary Secretary, who is aware of certain types ofad hoc sales and the difficulties that can arise in particular areas can see, that if there is not a definition of “adaptation” and if there is not the inclusion of this phrase “habitually used”, the net of administrative interference and the rope of red tape will put a stranglehold on many of the traditional and ordinary activities in the sale of livestock today.

I subscribe to the belief, and always have, that we have far too much direction, far too much control, in the wrong direction in this country and not proper and effective control in many of the things that are needed far more urgently than the question of cattle marts or indeed the question of any transfer of livestock in the agricultural industry. However, I believe that for the protection of the farmers, for the protection of the owners of the marts, for the protection of the people who will have recourse thereto in the course of their ordinary business, it is incumbent on us as a Parliament to try to restrict, as far as is possible, the invasion of bureaucracy and control and to try to make this Bill an understandable one in which the limits of interference will be firmly set, so that we will not have a repetition of the exuberant, ebullient statement of a former Minister for Agriculture who, one time, was going to knock down the ditches, level the fences, drive his tractors through the farmers of Ireland if they would not do his bidding.

The day for that type of coercion is gone and Irish people can be glad of the fact that they have the Fine Gael Party here to fight, line by line and section by section, this iniquitous piece of legislation, in an effort to preserve what we can of the rights of Irish farmers to control their own business, to maintain their normal way of life and to carry on. But we are here faced by this blank wall—surrounding as it does a vast area of ignorance in the Fianna Fáil Party—of opposition for no other reason than the fact that the pattern has been set: "Whether they are right or wrong, boys, we will not give them a line of an amendment; we will accept nothing, no matter what case in logic and in sanity can be made for it".

This legislation is a sorry cross to be placing on the farmers' backs simply because the farmers, in their organisation and manifest strength, are making demands for consideration of difficulties that exist in the general agricultural economy. Take the whole pattern of the discussion on this Bill. Take the whole threat of steamrolling; take the whole concept now of the Minister saying: "It will go through now. I do not care when it comes into operation. It may not come into operation until next spring but it will go through now because I, Sir Oracle, say it will go through. It will go through without any rational approach to reasonable amendments".

The simple amendment we are now discussing, in normal circumstances, would be non-controversial because surely to heaven we are not to have capricious interpretations of "adaptation" or of what is the extent of a sale necessary to catch it in the net of the Minister's regulations? Surely a place temporarily adapted for the purpose of an expedient sale, maybe used once or twice, should not be caught in this net, but if you put "habitual", then that type of non-habitual use cannot be caught within the regulations which we know will fall in sheaves if this Bill passes?

Why not accept this amendment? Why have continuous argument over it? We had a long-drawn-out argument on an amendment to the same section through which we sought the simple exclusion of a wide area which we considered would be caught by the use of the word "otherwise". Now we want to limit in an effective, intelligent way, the scope of this Bill in regard toad hoc or unusual types of sale that may arise from time to time, and because we do this, we cannot get simpliciter the expression “habitually” put into the section.

It should be quite possible, as has been done in relation to "occupation" in a case in which a person does an occasional transaction outside his normal business sphere. It is only when that person does it with regularity, in a manner that could be described as habitual, that he comes within the net of the Revenue Commissioners. Apparently this Minister wishes to become a little Sir Echo, a bombastic little boss over the whole agricultural community, who wants to invade every facet of their activity so that he can say: "You will do no buying or selling of livestock throughout the length and breadth of Ireland unless you conform with the regulations designed by me, Neil Blaney, Minister for Agriculture"; and the Statute Book will become accursed by this futile, fruitless, contentious legislation because of the whim and caprice of the man who is not prepared to accept the most reasonable argument in support of a most reasonable amendment.

As Deputy Dillon has rightly explained to the House, we in these benches, by putting down these amendments to the definition section, have been endeavouring to have this Bill discussed in isolation from the background of hatred and of deplorable Government-farmer relations from which the Bill has emerged. This task has been rendered extremely difficult because in fact we are discussing and debating this whole measure with ourselves, because all the Deputies on the far side of the House are obviously under order to keep silent.

Not true at all.

And to keep out.

The one Deputy from the opposite side who has shown himself to be a man of independent mind and has kicked over the traces is Deputy Booth.

Fianna Fáil Deputies are quite at liberty to speak here if they wish to do so.

Either they do not know what is in the Bill or they are under strict orders not to debate it in the House. We have had three Parliamentary Secretaries assisting the Minister and they, too, have all been silenced. We cannot get an answer from them to a simple query because obviously the order is: "Do not talk because there is nothing you can say in defence of the Bill and if you open your month, you will put your feet in it." Any of them who has broken that silence has almost agreed with us that this definition section is quite impossible to understand, that it is quite vague and open to many different interpretations.

We were accused last night by the Minister of keeping this House unreasonably in session beyond the normal period. I was glad to hear Deputy Dillon this morning explaining in such detail the important agreement that had been reached, at Taoiseach level, with the Leaders of the other Parties not to have contentious legislation of this kind introduced at the end of the session. It is obvious to all now that the Government have welshed on their own arrangements, the arrangements they sought from this House and from the Leaders of the Opposition Parties. It is a good thing that has been made clear. It is a complete answer to the Minister who accused us of keeping the House in session unreasonably.

For the record, I wish to point out that we are discussing amendment No. 2b, in the name of Deputy Michael O'Higgins.

I should like to say in reply to the Chair that we were discussing this same amendment last night when these accusations were levelled at this side of the House by the Minister. He was permitted to do so and I think we should be free and at liberty to reply.

Surely the Chair is the sole judge of what is in order and what is not?

What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

The Chair is the judge of what is in order.

The Parliamentary Secretary, too, must accept the Chair's ruling and last night the Chair ruled that the Minister was in order in making those accusations and I assume that the Chair, by implication, holds that we are in order in replying.

The function of the Chair is to see that the debate is relevant to the matter before the House. As pointed out, we are discussing an amendment by Deputy M. J. O'Higgins.

As the Ceann Comhairle has said, we are discussing amendment No. 2b, in the name of Deputy M.J. O'Higgins:

In page 2, line 15, after "adapted" to insert "and habitually used."

It is obvious from the few remarks made by Deputy Booth here this morning that if he could be completely satisfied—and I think from the explanation he has been giving, he is now completely satisfied—as to the meaning of the expression "habitually used", he thinks it would in fact improve the definition section if it were inserted.

Nobody has yet told the House what "habitually used" means.

I went to considerable trouble last night indicating what I personally thought and believed "habitually used" meant, what it meant in its practical application to the problems of farmers throughout this country.

That is as clear as mud.

It is not. The Deputy was not here last night. There are certain parts of the country and at certain times of the year three or four sales of cows take place. They take place for the convenience of the milk producers of that area. Nobody should describe that as "habitually used". It is nothing more or less than a convenience and a service for people producing an indispensable product.

Would you say six times a year was habitual?

I have offered it as my opinion that if a place is used once a month for the 12 months of the year, that is habitual.

(South Tipperary): The interruptions of the Deputy have become habitual. Now, does he understand?

I do not object to the Deputy's interruptions. I think he is sincerely trying to be helpful. I think he is not being allowed to be as helpful as he could be by his Minister, but I think he is sincerely exercising his mind and trying to find a way to defend a Bill he himself does not believe in. But it is not easy to defend it. If Deputy Booth were on this side of the House, he could make a much better case for our stand than he could for the Bill.

I could make a much better fist of it than you can.

He finds himself in a difficult situation but at least he is prepared to stand up to it, to come in and sit in the House and not run away from it like a lot of other Deputies. It is obvious that nobody has been able to define and nobody on the Government benches has seriously tried to define what "adapted", unqualified, means.

"To make fit or suitable". That is from Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary.

We got that before.

But nobody has spelled out what that means either. "Fit" is a word that is almost, if not fully, as ambiguous as the word "adapted". "Fit" is according to the eye of the beholder. What you might think fit, I might not think fit. I would probably be more familiar with the requirements of a livestock mart than the Parliamentary Secretary.

Deputy Booth said it would be obvious to anyone that, if a place were adapted for the business of selling livestock by auction or otherwise, it could not have reached that point without planning permission. I was here when that statement was made. I was surprised that Deputy Booth was not aware there is such a thing as exempted development. In my view, anybody in this country is free to put up a farm building in any part of rural Ireland that is 100 feet from the road without permission from anyone. That is as I know the planning legislation. Therefore, that rules that out. In addition, anybody is free under that legislation to erect a fence of a certain height. I saw that proved: I saw a fence nine feet high erected. I saw the local authority defied on it since that planning legislation came in. Nobody can tell them to take it down. We know that a corral for cattle—let it be called a ring or, as Deputy Harte says it is called in Donegal, a circle or whatever way we describe it—can be erected without planning permission. That disposes of what Deputy Booth said earlier that we could not have a place properly adapted for the purpose of selling livestock by auction or otherwise without getting planning approval.

That is assuming it is a farm building, and a cattle mart would scarcely be.

Surely Deputy Booth will accept that a building used for the purpose of housing livestock——

No, selling livestock.

Selling livestock. It does not matter whether you are selling them or not; you are penning them or housing them. If that is not a farm building, I cannot recognise a farm building.

I think that is the answer.

If you have a place that holds cattle, sheep or pigs—horses are outside this because they are not livestock, according to this—that is a farm building. It is exempt if it is 100 feet from the road. That is easy to arrange. I do not know any mart not 100 feet from the road. Usually the car park space gives a couple of a hundred yards from the road.

Could the Deputy quote any cattle mart he would describe as a farm building?

I would describe every cattle mart I know as a farm building.

That is rather stretching the definition.

Any reasonable person looking at the Planning Act knows that that was the purpose of it—to enable farmers to be free to erect buildings for their own purposes, for housing their animals or for housing whatever they had to dispose of or produce.

But not for selling.

That is part of the game of farming. There is no use in the farmer producing something if he is not allowed to sell it and provide himself with the necessary means of selling it.

Very few farmers would be able to erect their own cattle marts on their own land for the sale of their own cattle.

It is the farmer who is really selling, although this says it is not. It says the farmer is not a seller at all. " `The business of a livestock mart' means the business of selling livestock by auction...." Who is selling them? Is it the auctioneer or the farmer? I think it is the farmer.

What is the auctioneer doing?

He is acting as the farmer's agent—nothing more or less. But this is typical of the vagueness and uncertainty of this whole definition section. Nobody knows what it means.

Acting as the farmer's agent, he is selling the cattle.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture cannot tell us what the definition section means. Neither can anybody else because nobody is allowed on those benches opposite even to venture an opinion as to what it means.

I am afraid I have distracted the Deputy's attention away from the amendment and I must apologise.

I am not in the least distracted. In fact, I am helped by the Deputy's intervention and I hope that, when I sit down, he will give us more fully what he has in mind and tell us exactly how he would improve this definition section. I should like to hear Deputy Booth going on record as saying that this definition section is drafted to his complete satisfaction, because, if he says that, my opinion of him as a person who is a judge of legislation and the drafting of legislation will certainly drop. This is the most ambiguous definition section I have ever seen in a Bill.

I am completely satisfied with the definition section.

The Deputy thinks it could not be worded in such a way as to make it clear to everybody?

So far I have not heard any suggestion which would be an improvement.

Deputy Clinton should be allowed to make his speech.

The word "adapted" has caused endless trouble and endless concern because no one is able to confine it and no one is able to explain the limits to which the law can go. I believe it is there deliberately because the Minister wants it there. The draftsmen are good civil servants and they do what they are asked. They have provided exactly what the Minister wants: he wants limitless power. He is in a great hurry and his impatience was obvious here yesterday evening. All he wants is to get his way. He knows that, if this definition section is left wide open, as it is at the moment, then he will have complete ministerial control under the other sections and, if he says something is wrong, or something is not permissible, then that something will be wrong and not permissible. The simplest sale, wherever it occurs, will come within the provisions of this Bill. The Minister will be in the clear. He will have absolute power over those who produce livestock of any description and who want to sell. This is a freedom of which the farmers will not allow themselves lightly to be deprived. Even if this legislation goes through, there will be more trouble in the country. This is being used as a weapon to hammer the farmers even more than they have been hammered in the past 12 months, and we have had more than enough of that.

We, on this side of the House, have an obligation to examine every line of this unwanted piece of legislation in order to see in what way it can be made less objectionable. It can never be acceptable to the farmers and not one voice has been raised in favour of it. Nothing has appeared in the public press or in the farming journals to show that this legislation, however it comes into force, is wanted. In fact, there have been serious objections by all the organisations concerned and there has been no back-tracking on those objections.

We want to have this definition section unambiguous and we have put down a series of amendments to achieve that. This amendment asks that after the word "adapted", "and habitually used" be added. If this is done, only the established livestock mart can be caught and the ordinary innocent sale at the side of the road, in the farmer's yard, on the fair green, or elsewhere, will not be caught in this legislation. It is obvious from the Minister's intervention last night that he has no intention of accepting any of the amendments; neither has he any intention of seriously considering these amendments. He wants the Bill rushed through the House, bulldozed through, and, for no other purpose, but to oppress the farmers still more. We have indicated the many ways in which this definition section could be improved and by which its application could be confined within what might be regarded as reasonable limits. We ask the House to accept this amendment.

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

(South Tipperary): I am sure that Deputies on the Government benches will agree with me on this point, that I deplore having to be here and to press forward this amendment so late in the term, when we should all be on our holidays. I think every Deputy will be with me on that. It is all the more regrettable that one has to support this amendment and to ask the House to accept it when many Fianna Fáil Deputies do not even know what it is all about. Now that they are here, perhaps I should tell them: I am sure they do not read the debates. I would point out that there is a standing agreement, made at Taoiseach level, that this type of contentious legislation would not be produced in this House at this time of the year. I wonder how many Deputies on the Government benches are aware of that? If it were only to tell them that fact, it was worth while calling them into the House now.

One would want to be in the Ring of Kerry now.

(South Tipperary): I am an instrument here in keeping this very gracious Deputy away from his very pleasant home environment, the Ring of Kerry.

I think Deputies should be fair to Deputy Hogan who is not in the habit of interrupting. These interruptions seem most unfair.

(South Tipperary): I regret the departure from the House of Deputy Booth. This question of “habitual” seems to worry some Deputies. I assume it means “by habit”. We have all heard the expression: “This fellow is an habitual drunkard,”“an habitual liar” or something else: you do not want me to go on but you know what is in my mind. In Deputy Booth's absence, I am endeavouring to tell his colleagues what I understand by the word “habitual”. He is probably in the Library consulting the dictionaries. Perhaps he will come back armed with one. In the meantime, I have to try to give my own simple interpretation of what it means. The definition section relates to “at a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction,” and the amendment seeks to insert the word “habitually”. I think we are not introducing a word that is unknown to this House, a word unknown to legislation, when we suggest the insertion of the word “habitually” here.

Is it not "adapted and habitually used"? It is not "adapted habitually". What would it be in Irish? Would "Anois agus arís" be a proper translation?


Deputy Cunningham will have to allow Deputy Hogan to make his speech. These interruptions make a farce of Parliament.

(South Tipperary): I do not know. Here is the word “habitually”. We could take as an example a man by whom the Irish language is habitually used. That is a simple example of the use of the word “habitually” without any elaboration whatsoever. It is not an ambiguous or indeterminate term, as the Minister stated here last night. There is nothing indeterminate about the word “habitually”. It may be indeterminate in relation to time but that is a simple matter of agreement. However, it is submitted by us that the word “habitually” is not indeterminate in purpose or intent, or in respect of the activities it is intended to cover.

It may be argued on this amendment that the use of "habitually" is superfluous. It may be argued that in the definition the words "business of a livestock mart" suggest or imply habitual use, but beyond a suggestion, or at most an implication, that is as much as you can read into the expres-he could do no more. Failure to accept sion. We are attempting by our amendment to make the situation firmer. It affirms habitual use. It is a concrete statement and we know exactly what we are talking about. We are not leaving in any ambiguity about the business of a livestock mart.

The Minister is endeavouring to extend the scope of his operations to all forms of sales. An analogous situation would be if some regulations were drafted about the manufacture and assembly of motor cars. This is a subject in which Deputy Booth would be interested. If the terminology suggested that that was what was intended but in the definition the Minister introduced a broad difference which was obviously calculated to cover not alone the manufacture and the assembly of motor cars but every operation in every garage and petrol station, the first person to object would be Deputy Booth. The first person to point out the irregularity as between the terminology and the definition would be Deputy Booth, and he would be right. However, when it applies to a mart, to the agricultural industry, Deputy Booth is strangely confused but not silent. Every time he speaks he shows that clearly he is in the position of a man battling with his own conscience, on the one hand, and his loyalty to his Party, on the other. I am sure a similar battle is going on in the minds and hearts of many Deputies on the other side.

I said last night that by these amendments we were endeavouring to save the Minister from himself. We are also endeavouring to save the people from the Minister. Whether this amendment goes through or not will not matter in the initial stage. In the early stages, the Minister will try to operate this Bill on the lines of what it purports to be, a Livestock Marts Bill. He will endeavour to secure that all the marts will conform with any conditions he may lay down. He will not interfere with existing fairs in areas in which there are no marts. If our amendments are accepted, that is what he would do, and what he would have to do, and these amendments extends his power.

I see the difficulty confronting the Minister and I appreciate his reasons for refusing to accept the amendments. In his present dilemma, with his present obsession in regard to the NFA and kindred agricultural organisations, he foresees a position of frustration every time, sometimes when perhaps it is not there at all. I wonder if he introduced a simple Livestock Marts Bill, what would the farmers do? Would they refuse to send their stock to the marts once he puts his hands over these institutions? Would they say: "We will not sell our cattle under these conditions; we will sell them at a fair as we did ten years ago"? There is where the difficulty arises and there is where he wants to extend his power. He wants this power outside and inside the marts.

The Minister is quite prepared to adopt the less contentious role of trying to put his wishes into operation through the marts, and through the marts alone, in the first instance, but this measure unamended would give him the alternative of proscribing and controlling all sales activities. If there is not agreement that this amendment should be accepted, then the Minister can in any part of the country where marts are in operation say: "These are my regulations and I will largely control the sale of cattle in all your marts." It may be a private mart or it may be a co-operative mart and he will ask them: "Are you agreeable?" The proprietors or the farmers may be agreeable or they may not. If there is no alternative to selling their cattle through the marts, then when the initial resistance wears down, some farmers will come and sell their cattle in the marts.

Michael Murphy down the road will demur for a while—he is not NFA or Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael or Labour; he is just a quiet man who keeps to himself, but he may have to take his cattle a distance of 60 miles to sell them. He does not want to appear at the marts because of the atmosphere but he will go to his neighbour who is going to the mart and ask him to take his three or four cattle to the mart because he does not want to go in present circumstances. This is the way in which the Minister hopes the marts, after the initial objections, will come into operation.

That is the easiest road for the Minister to take to gain his ultimate objective of getting control of the livestock industry, which is the long-term objective. The NFA declaration of intent to set up their own marketing board will be largely circumvented by the long-term ambition of the Minister to control the livestock industry. If he can do it by that more simple method, I believe that is the method he will choose, but that may not happen and the Minister knows it. The farmers may say: "We will have nothing to do with these marts and we will go back to selling our cattle at the traditional fairs." If this amendment fails, can they do it? Similar amendments have failed already. The Minister's power will extend outside the marts and he will be in a position to proscribe any fair and he can make a good case. He can say: "I will not put back the clock. It is imperative, now that we are entering the Common Market, that we should have the most modern methods for the disposal of agricultural stock. I will not put back the clock." He could make a very good case and the farmers in that area would be forced to sell their cattle in marts which would be the Minister's marts largely.

That is a hard road, and it is the road the Minister may be forced to travel. Obviously he is prepared to travel that road to achieve his ultimate purpose, control of the livestock trade, control of the marketing by farmers of their own produce.

Could the Deputy relate these remarks in some way to the amendment in the name of Deputy O'Higgins?

(South Tipperary): I will try. This amendment is an attempt to rationalise this Bill. It is an attempt to bring the Bill into conformity with its terminology, with its Title, with its preamble. It is an attempt to limit the Minister's power to what appears in the Title of the Bill. Surely that is a logical and necessary exercise? Surely it cannot be contended that we are wasting the time of the House by asking Deputies to behave in a logical and comprehensible fashion?

I do not believe the farmers should be obliged to deposit their produce at their gates, and thereafter have no say in its disposal. I believe the farmers who produce our agricultural produce are entitled to follow that produce to the consumer's breakfast table. Any man in the city, in industry, would take the same view. Would a man in the business of the assembly of motor cars feel inhibited if he were told he had no right to follow through to the purchasers, that his job was to produce the motor car and deposit it at the gate and allow its distribution to be entirely the business of a Minister of State, or a semi-State body, or a nominee of the Minister?

This amendment is an expression of our opinion that if a farmer in a certain locality is not satisfied with the local mart, he should be empowered to sell his cattle in some alternative fashion. It is an expression of our belief in the fundamental right of a farmer to have a reasonable opportunity of disposing of his own stock. Failure to accept this amendment will mean that the disposal of the farmers' produce, cattle, sheep and pigs, will ultimately be under the control of the Minister and, so far as the farmers are concerned, their only function in the matter will be to produce the article and deposit it at their farmyard gates.

I am sure the Chair would be the first person to agree—if many other Deputies would not agree—that the producer of any article has a fundamental right to have a say in the ultimate distribution of the article, whether from a farm or a factory.

Acting Chairman

That is not the matter which is before the House at the moment.

(South Tipperary): It is precisely the matter which this amendment is attempting to counter.

We are trying to keep one avenue open to the producer so that he will be able to dispose of his article in an alternative fashion rather than through the marts, if he feels so disposed.

Acting Chairman

The amendment in the name of Deputy O'Higgins relates to the inclusion of the words "and habitually used". Perhaps the Deputy could confine himself to the points for the inclusion of those words in the definition.

Or the flaws in it.

(South Tipperary): I dealt with the word “habitually” at length because I appreciated that it was causing considerable difficulty to Deputy Booth when he was on the far side of the House. I thought he had gone out to consult a dictionary. I have no dictionary here but I dealt at length with the interpretation of the word “habitually”, as I understand it. I do not want to impose myself on the House for a second time, but, as Deputy Booth is the only man who has displayed any interest in this Bill from the Fianna Fáil side, I would feel disposed to humour him to the extent of trying to cover that ground again if he feels I should.

Acting Chairman

I trust that the Deputy's generosity will not lead him to unnecessary repetition.

(South Tipperary): Very well. Much as Deputy Booth desires clarification on this matter, I appreciate his anxiety to preserve order in the House and avoid obnoxious repetition. That is what I would expect from Deputy Booth. I have endeavoured to explain this to the Opposition. It is not necessary to explain it to this side of the House. I have been informed that Fianna Fáil Deputies have not had this Bill explained to them, that a decision was taken at Cabinet level and that Deputies are now blundering in here and walking through the Division Lobby without understanding what they are voting on. They march through the lobby, to paraphrase Deputy Dillon's description, like infantrymen, hay-straw, hay-straw, hay-straw, to vote as men who are trained to march in that fashion act, not knowing exactly what they are doing.

I have endeavoured to point out, perhaps at some length, what the full implications of this Bill may be. Are we to be told in 12 months' time, perhaps in six months' time, that all these amendments which we introduced were unnecessary, that the insertion of the words "habitually used" and the other five or six amendments were unnecessary, that now one can see the Bill in operation and there is no outcry, everything is peaceful? That may be said in three months' time or six months' time but if the Minister is thwarted in his ultimate ambition, his ultimate purpose, which is to get control of sales of livestock in this country, then you will not answer me that question; then you will sadly come to realise the significance of these amendments, the purpose behind them.

We are attempting to control the Minister, to limit his activities to the livestock marts. If he must commit an evil, let the evil be as small as possible. The Minister wishes to have a second shot in his locker and the second shot in his locker is to leave this definition ambiguous so that when he has dealt with the livestock marts, if the farmers rebel and try to sell their produce in any other way, if they retreat from the marts to the market squares and fairs, he can follow them into the fairs and market squares. That is Part II of the Bill and that Part II is not written in the Bill. It is written by omission. It is written by having a definition ill-defined. It is in this regard that we have put down the six or seven amendments.

I do not pretend for one moment that there is a tremendous difference between one amendment and the other: there is not any great difference between them. The fundamental objective of each amendment is the same. If we happen to speak on each amendment, then, in the necessary order of things, inescapably, there must be some repetition because the fundamental objective and the fundamental purpose of each amendment is the same—an attempt to limit the activities of the Minister to as little as we can.

I believe the Title under which this Bill is put before the House is intentionally dishonest. Let the Minister have his definition but, at least, let him be honest enough to stop calling it a Livestock Marts Bill. Let him call it what it is and what it will ultimately be if he meets with sufficient opposition—a livestock Bill. That is the ultimate purpose and that is the ultimate objective, based largely upon a vendetta which the man has allowed to grow and fester in his mind over the past 12 months.

It is a strange thing what power does. It has strange implications, strange effects upon the human mind. Deputies on the far side of the House, sitting in the background, do not understand the effects which power has upon the human mind because they never had power. The poor creatures—hay-straw, hay-straw, hay-straw—that is as far as any one of them will ever get.

Acting Chairman

The Deputy is straying again from the amendment.

(South Tipperary): I thank you for keeping me in order.

Do you agree with the marts?

(South Tipperary): Do I agree with the marts? —with the marts as presently operated—of course.

Do you agree that new marts should be operated?

Acting Chairman

The Deputy must allow Deputy Hogan to make his speech and must not distract him.

(South Tipperary): There are six marts in my constituency.

Do you think new ones should be established? Do you think the Bill should be there for the establishment of new marts?

(South Tipperary): I should like to see this development on a normal evolutionary basis, not ordained by the revolutionary concept of this Bill, a normal evolutionary process such as has been in operation so far. All the marts we have have been evolved by private enterprise or co-operative society with farmers' money. In my area there are two private marts, and I think three are co-operative, and a fourth one now has been taken over by the local farmers wishing to become co-operative again.

Acting Chairman

I must ask the Deputy to come back to the amendment. I am afraid he has been distracted by the interruptions.

(South Tipperary): Deputies opposite are so obviously misinformed that I wanted to help them, particularly the poor Deputy from Dublin who probably never saw a mart.

None of the members of the Fianna Fáil Party, to my knowledge, is a member of a marts committee. I hope the Minister heard that remark. I would wager with the Minister that he certainly has nothing in the Raphoe Mart. He was to build a straw factory there. Of course he will deny that as well.

Go and find out.

I suppose you deny that you promised to build a straw factory in Raphoe?

Go and find your facts.

I am a member of a mart. There is a meeting there tonight.

So am I.

Are you? I hope you will attend the meeting tonight.

Yes. That surprises you.

It does.

It should not.

I did not think you had that much interest in agriculture.

Did you not? It is quite a while ago. It was not yesterday.

Acting Chairman

Deputy Hogan, on the amendment.

Would the Minister like to confirm that he promised a straw factory for Raphoe? Does he remember the night he made that promise?

I would not have an argument with you.

(South Tipperary): In view of the atmosphere which has been generated, I think I have said all I wish to say at this juncture and I invite the hay-straw men to speak. Perhaps, at the eleventh hour, they will give us the benefit of their views? So far, we have not heard a word from the Deputies opposite. With the exception of Deputy Booth and Deputy Cunningham, not one Deputy on the opposite benches has risen to defend his Minister. They come in, willy-nilly, when the bell is rung, and then sneak out when nobody is looking and the bell has to be rung to bring them back. Not one will stand up here to defend the Minister in the House. I invite them to do so now.

Is there any Deputy in the Fianna Fáil Party who wants the owner of a premises which is not habitually used for the sale of cattle by auction to be deemed to be a person engaged in the business of a livestock mart? They were all eager and willing to interrupt Deputy Hogan, but will any of them answer my question? All this amendment involves is that a person who is not habitually engaged in the business of selling cattle by auction shall not be deemed to be engaged in the business of a livestock mart.

Who says the reverse is true, if the amendment is not accepted?

I do not agree with that.

I do not expect the Minister to say he agrees with me, but what I do expect him to say is: "These words do not exclude anybody whom I wish to be excluded, but if you want them, add them." What is the use of saying to me: "I can see the principle of your argument for the inclusion of the words, but I ask you if their omission will do any harm." I do not expect the Government to agree with me. All I am expecting them to say is: "We do not think the words will do any good, but we agree with you that they will certainly do no harm. If you attach so much importance to them, put them in." Is that reasonable or not? Is it not the sensible way to conduct parliamentary business? Deputies ought to examine their consciences in respect of supporting a Minister who says: "These words will do nothing to exclude from the ambit of this Bill anybody whom I think it is necessary for the purpose of the Bill to include, but I will not put them in because you propose them." Where does the responsibility for obstruction lie if that is the Minister's attitude?

We attach great importance to this Bill and we have offered several alternatives which go part of the way to meet our anxiety. What is the point of saying that we legislate by parliament if we claim the right in parliament to legislate by order? What is the point of going through the farce of bringing in a Bill described as:

An Act to provide for the control and regulation by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries of livestock marts and the sale of livestock at such marts and to provide for other matters connected with the matters aforesaid.

Be it enacted by the Oireachtas as follows:—

What is the purpose of enacting something by Oireachtas Éireann if all the views of the Members of Oireachtas Éireann are to be treated as of no consequence? I could quite understand the Minister's position if he said: "The introduction of these words would be fatal to the purpose of my Bill. It would introduce an element of uncertainty and ambiguity which would make the administration of this legislation utterly impossible." He does not say that, because he cannot say it. I say there is unanimity about this that nobody who is not habitually engaged in the sale of cattle by auction ought to be deemed to be engaged in the business of a livestock mart. If the Minister simply says: "No, I will not have it", then I say the Minister is simply turning parliamentary procedure into a farce.

Suppose the sanctions of this Bill are invoked against an individual after the Bill has become law and the individual says by way of defence: "I am not engaged in the business of a livestock mart," and the Minister says: "You are, because you have adapted your premises. You have provided, for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise, a place adapted—and you have habitually used it—for the sale of livestock by auction." The defendant replies: "I admit it is manifest to anyone who goes to the premises that I have adapted them for the sale of livestock by auction, but I deny that I have habitually used it or that I will habitually use it." The Minister brings him to court and says: "The officers of my Department have seen this premises used on the first Monday of every week"—or on the first Monday of every month or on every quarter day—"for the sale of cattle by auction. The burden of my complaint against the defendant is that though he is habitually using the premises on the first Monday of every week for the holding of cattle auctions, he has now started admitting quantities of cattle and selling them by hand, and that is a procedure which would render the enforcement of the provisions of this Act nugatory and ineffective." The judge has to determine whether this man has engaged—here is the nub of the whole question—in the business of a livestock mart. If he has then he is subject to be the provisions of this Act. If he has not, then the Minister's case against him must fail.

The Minister agrees with that, and says: "I have established, and he admits, that he has adapted his premises. The only issue joined between us is: `Does he habitually use them?' " and the district justice says: "He has used them every quarter day. I think that is habitual use. Accordingly, I find that he is in the business in accordance with the provisions of the Act. But in those circumstances there is an element of ambiguity. It could be argued that four sales a year is not habitual use and therefore I dismiss this case under the Probation Act." However, let that man be fixed with notice that hereafter this is "habitual use."

There comes another man in another county and it is proved that he uses the place on the first day of each week. The district justice says: "You admit you adapted your premises. You admit that you have sales every week. Get out: do not pretend to make the argument that this is not habitual use as everybody understands it." A third case might arise in which a man admits that he adapted but that he only held a sale on the first Monday of every month. Can anybody doubt that any rational judge would say: "You are holding a sale on the first Monday of every month. Is that not habitual use according to any criterion? Get out."

I admit that no matter what definition you get, there will be the marginal case but let it be decided in favour of the defendant. We do not want to catch marginal cases: we want to control the business of conducting a livestock mart. We do not want to catch a man who is not in the business of conducting a livestock mart and who sells cattle by hand on his premises.

Now we arrive at the question which I think the three Deputies sitting opposite me, one from the city and two from the country, are beginning to ask themselves, if they would really admit it: does the Minister want to catch people who are not manifestly in the business of a livestock mart? Do the Deputies know the answer to that question themselves? Are they now beginning to understand why we want to amend this section? We want to know now with precision and determination, and in the terms of the Act when it comes to be an Act, who is precisely to be subject to its terms. I do not think Deputy Dowling knows or Deputy Allen knows, or the latest young recruit sitting between them knows whom the Minister does want to control. That is the whole argument we are making here, that we do want to know with precision. I think that in their hearts these Deputies agree that we ought to know but they are prepared to make an act of faith in their own Government.

The Deputy never made one of those.

I implore the Deputy not to interrupt or I shall say something rough which I shall regret. I do not think any of us ought make an act of faith of that kind in our own Government, whether we are in the Party supporting that Government or not. We do not live in a State where legislation is by decree and we have no intention of emulating the example of the French Chamber of Deputies. They have had that issue put squarely to them. The Government of General de Gaulle have said to the Chamber of Deputies that for the next four months, within certain limited spheres of legislation, authority to govern by decree is required. The French Chamber of Deputies have conceded that and the Republic of France, within the certain limited spheres of legislation, is being governed by decree because the President of France says that the economic emergency is sufficiently acute to justify that requisition being made on the French equivalent of Dáil Éireann. I do not think there is any situation here to justify such a requisition on Dáil Éireann. The whole basis of our case is that the Minister has got into such a state of mind as a result of his quarrel with the NFA that he wants to have what is substantially power to legislate by decree. He wants a definition so wide that if he is so disposed, he can apply the terms of this Bill to almost anybody.

Deputy Dowling finds that hard to believe but I think he will agree that Deputy Carty did not come down in yesterday's shower. He is a national teacher who has lived all his life among the people in the country and who knows the way they live and think. At an earlier stage of this Bill, we had an analogous amendment in which we suggested that the words "constructed or reconstructed" should be put in, but Deputy Carty said: "You cannot construct or reconstruct a field." Does that register? There is this difference between Deputy Carty and Deputies in the back benches of Fianna Fáil that Deputy Carty was at the Government meeting when this Bill was discussed. He was there when this whole business was argued on the Government agenda. He knows what went on there and none of the Deputies in the back benches of Fianna Fáil and none of the Deputies on this side knows what went on at the Government meeting. Do not forget the significance of this.

Does Deputy Allen think the terms of this Bill should apply to a field? Does Deputy Dowling think so? I am opposed to the whole Bill, but if it is to function and if it is to be administered, I am prepared to concede that if a field is adapted and habitually used for selling cattle by auction this Bill should apply.

It covers it one way or another.

Deputy Allen recognises it now. It covers it one way or another. I do not want that.

You say in one mouthful that you do.

In your own terms.

Deputy Allen says it covers it one way or another. That is the point. We say it should not.

You said you wanted it covered your way.

The Deputy says it covers it one way or another. That goes to the very heart of the matter. We say it should not; it should only cover it in one way where a rational man would say that the yard or the field or the place was used for the purpose of a livestock mart. I think Deputy Allen is right. The way in which the Bill is phrased as it stands means that it covers it one way or another. Whether the business of a livestock mart is carried on or not, it is still covered.

Would you read the name of the Bill? That is what it is.

I could not agree with Deputy Allen more. The name of the Bill is designed to cover the business of livestock marts.

That is what it does.

As the Deputy has already said, it covers it in one way.

There is always a field attached to a livestock mart.

The fact is it should not cover it one way and not the other. It should only cover it if the business of a livestock mart is carried on, as you and I understand it.

It is part of the livestock mart.

What is?

The field.

If the field or yard is adapted and is not used for the purpose of a livestock mart at all, then you can sell cattle by hand, but if the field is adapted and used as a livestock mart, then under the Bill you cannot sell cattle by hand unless you have a licence for a livestock mart. All I am trying to establish is this. The meaning of adaptation is gone unless the Minister can establish that the place is habitually used for the purpose of auctioning livestock. The Minister could go in and say: "You must not sell cattle by hand."

Who said he is going to?

Perhaps the Ceann Comhairle sees the slow process of illuminating the minds of Deputies by what Deputy Allen asks: "Who says he is going to go in?" I say he is going to go in. If Deputy Allen says that he does not believe he will go in, I agree with him. That is why I want to put it in to guarantee that by the terms of the Statute he will not have power to go in.

You are away up in the air.

I am not, I am bringing the Deputy down to the ground. I am very happy to be able to educate him. I think he now sees what I am telling him is, in fact, the truth. He says himself: "Could you imagine the Minister would go in?"

I did not say it that way.

He said: "Who says the Minister will go in?"

Use your bit of loaf.

You say you can trust the Minister.

It was different when you were in.

I fully understand the Deputy when he goes on in that way. What I want to do is to put into the Bill, whether I am Minister for Agriculture or whether Deputy Blaney is Minister for Agriculture——

You will not be.

——that neither of us will have the right to go in, if it is not a livestock mart. Can the Deputy get that into his head? Suppose I were Minister and suppose the Deputy was sitting over here, would he then honestly feel——

I am quite happy with the Bill.

——that he would give discretion to the Minister to do this? If I were Minister for Agriculture, he would not be happy to leave it with me.

Not if you were.

Now we have brought him round to our thinking. Now he is beginning to understand. Remember, it is the people of this country who are going to decide who will be the next Minister for Agriculture. Suppose it was Deputy Clinton who was here as Minister for Agriculture, would you give him that discretion? I would not and I am his supporter. I will vote for him if he is nominated for the Ministry of Agriculture but I will not give him power to go in on a man's premises because he says it has been adapted for a certain use.

He said he would repeal it immediately. There is danger there.

I will not give him such power.

Is it not highly impracticable that the Minister would go in?

I agree with the Deputy entirely that it is fantastic to think he would go in. Why would you give him power to go in? I agree that it is unthinkable he should go in. The Deputy says it is fantastic to think he would and I agree with him.

Leave it at that.

We cannot. Our job is to pass legislation and to see that in relation to this Bill the present Minister or any other Minister will not have a statutory right under the law of this country to do what we think is fantastic. The words the Minister used constitute the strongest measure of objection. Those words do not eliminate the uncertainty of this situation. We all here believe that they will provide against the possibility of what the Deputy describes as a fantastic concept —the Minister or his officers going into a premises when, in fact, the business of a livestock mart is not being conducted there at all. Why can we not write that into the Bill? That is what we want to do.

If you agree the Minister is not going to go in, what are you arguing about?

I fully understand the Deputy and I think the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach who is a shrewd boy sitting on the Front Bench will agree with me. I would have said much the same thing as the Deputy is saying when I first came into Dáil Éireann. Why should you legislate on the assumption that the Minister is going to act unreasonably? My action would have been precisely what the Deputy's now is but what you have got to understand when you have some experience of government is this. Our function is entirely different from the function of the Minister. The Minister has two jobs—one as a member of Dáil Éireann and the other as a member of the Government, the executive head of his Department—and he has got to do the day-to-day work of the Department. Our job is to give him the powers necessary effectively to carry out Government policy but only those powers. Otherwise, why not pass an Act of Parliament to say that the Minister can do anything he likes to anybody engaged in the agricultural industry? Then why should you think he will not do anything out of the way? The whole business of Parliament is examining Bills brought forward by responsible Ministers on behalf of the Government to see that the appropriate limitations are put into them to prevent the possibility of the present or any future Minister, whoever he is, having powers conferred on him by the Oireachtas which he can use in any way he chooses.

You have got to proceed without reflection on the Minister or without saying that the fellow is going to go daft, on the assumption that you will give no Minister wider powers than are requisite for the purpose which the Bill is designed to achieve. The whole argument which has gone on here today arises very largely out of the vision of the shrewd Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach. Neither the Deputy nor I want to give the Minister the right to go into a man's field to control the selling of a cow or a bullock there. Therefore, we said that no matter what business he carried on in the field, unless he had been using that field for the purpose of selling livestock on that occasion, it does not come within the ambit of this Bill.

Surely before an amendment of that kind pressed strongly on the Government is rejected, it is incumbent on the Government to tell Dáil Éireann why the introduction of these words has to be resisted? I would ask any open-minded Deputy if anybody on the Government side of the House has given any tangible reason. I do not blame the Parliamentary Secretary for touching his heart. Mind you, when you flatter two young lads like Deputy Foley and Deputy Allen——

Surely the Deputy is not reduced to personalities.

Deputies Foley and Allen and I had a most agreeable exchange.

We should not get down to personalities either in a derogatory sense, or in praise.

I am proud of the fact.

Could we get on to the amendment?

That is the last thing in the Deputy's mind.

The Parliamentary Secretary accuses me of bringing in personalities and that I am denigrating young Deputies. That is not so. I say I am perfectly entitled to express satisfaction with two young Deputies like Deputies Foley and Allen who invited me to elucidate their inability to understand my amendment. In the course of the exchanges between us, it became manifest that both of them were in favour of my amendment. I do not blame them, but when they felt that the bonds of argument restrained and restricted and finally silenced them, the two boys got up and went out to get lunch, and who would blame them? I know it to be the express procedure that when Government Deputies get involved in an argument and find the argument gets beyond them, their natural instinct is to get up and go out. I know the natural reaction of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach when he puts his foot in it is to illuminate the whole scene by his gesture of throwing his hands in the air and saying: "Now, do not be getting after me; I only came in to fill a gap for somebody else here." If he made a point his humiliation would not manifest itself at all, but when he sees that he has yielded a point which the Opposition sought to make, he knows how to get out of that situation with the best.

Mind you, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture would do well to invite the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach to sit there beside him, and watch an old and slippery operator at work. I urge on the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture not to fall into the error of thinking he has nothing to learn from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach.

Indeed I have.

I suppose all this is perfectly relevant to the amendment.

Yes, Sir. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Government for the light he has thrown on this amendment. He has done as much as almost any other Deputy to manifest the need for this amendment and I think the two young Deputies, Deputies Foley and Allen who fled recently, were profoundly influenced by what the Parliamentary Secretary said until Deputy Foley asked: "Who would imagine the Minister would be so daft as to go into anyone's field?" I reminded him that the Parliamentary Secretary wanted to clear the path into the field and it was in realisation of that deplorable fact that Deputies Foley and Allen fled the field and left it to more experienced men to hold the fort as best they could.

I should like to know from the Parliamentary Secretary, or from somebody speaking on behalf of the Government, whether there are any further words of limitation which they are prepared to accept to meet our view. We hold the view most strongly that the definition section as it at present stands is far too wide. We have offered seven alternative limitations. Is there anyone who will go part of the way to meeting our reservations about this section? Has the Parliamentary Secretary or the Government any alternative proposal to offer, the change of a word or a comma or a sentence? If that is their view, this is the beginning of a long, hot summer, with all the implications of that phrase.

To quote the late Deputy Hugo Flynn, the Deputy may be aptly described as the dean of doom.

Go bhfoiridh Dia orainn. May the Lord have mercy on the late Deputy Hugo Flynn, he said many foolish things in this House, but I think we would be well advised to let the dead rest.

You dragged in Balfour this morning and we are entitled to bring in the late Deputy Hugo Flynn.

Might I remind the House that the amendment is under discussion?

You should, Sir, address that remark to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture who spoke in relation to the late Deputy Hugo Flynn.

I am addressing the remark to the House.

I want to let the dead rest. The Government should offer us some alternative of their own to meet us. If they do not, I think we are entitled to assume that their aim is to legislate through this House by decree. We will never give them that. They may use their majority to take it but this House, as it should be representative of the people, will never voluntarily yield to them. It is the beginning of a long, hot summer.

Please God.

Mind you, let us not forget the wisdom of those who have gone before us—whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad.

I did not say anything about the Deputy; he said it about himself.

Two by-elections gave Fianna Fáil a clear majority in this House.

You said 1933 was the end of Fianna Fáil days.

Unfortunately, he was wrong.

As he has been proved to be wrong in forecasting other events.

We will wait and see I am not so sure that I will be proved to be wrong. If you consult the older wiser head of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Taoiseach, you will find how often these forecasts were proved to be true.

I did not notice any of the great rocks in the West going into the sea.

Amendment 2b, in the name of Deputy M.J. O'Higgins.

Would you permit me to remind the Parliamentary Secretary that Connemara is not in County Mayo?

I thought the Deputy was taking the whole western seaboard. I still do not see those ones moving either.

The question before the House is whether the Minister is to have the right to legislate by decree? Is this House to make the same concession to this Government as the French Chamber of Deputies have made to General de Gaulle? Does Deputy de Valera think we ought? As long as I am a Member of this House, such a concession will never be unanimously made. Unless I misjudge my colleagues, to any such proposals, there will always be substantial opposition.

I just want to say a few words at this stage in connection with this amendment. There is so much wrong with the definition section in this Bill that the only thing to do is to scrap it and try to start again. But we are at the moment endeavouring to rectify it to some extent by ensuring, so far as we can, that this definition section will apply only in respect of places habitually used for the sale of livestock by auction.

I gathered from an interjection by a Fianna Fáil backbencher that he seemed to regard the acceptance of this amendment as precluding the establishment of further livestock marts. I want to correct that impression, because it seems to be an impression some Deputies have got in connection with this Bill—that if you exclude the operation of the Bill from a particular place or a particular category of people, you are in some way doing an injury to the people concerned. I want to make it clear that the position is quite the reverse: the more people and the more places excluded from the operation of this Bill, the better it will be for these people.

Very few, if any, will want this Bill applied to them, because the Bill is not something which confers a benefit. The Bill is restrictive, containing penal clauses, if there is a breach or an offence committed under it. The whole purpose of this amendment is to confine the operation of this Bill to places which are adapted and habitually used for the sale of livestock by auction. In my view, the entire definition before us in this section is faulty and captures what was not intended to be captured by the Bill.

We have already discussed other amendments designed to modify and limit the application of the scope of this Bill. Reference has been made already to the fact that we have here in this section a double-barrelled definition. The business of a livestock mart means, firstly, the business of selling livestock by auction. Even that portion of the definition, to my mind, is cockeyed because, remember, when a sale by auction takes place, the person selling is not the auctioneer. The auctioneer is simply the agent for the seller or vendor. The person selling is the farmer who owns the livestock and, even under the first part of this definition, any farmer who sells livestock, who brings in his livestock to an auction for sale is deemed to be engaged in the business of a livestock mart. I am quite sure that was never intended. The whole thing is quite cockeyed and the only way out is to get away from that definition completely and bring in something new.

For the moment, we are concerned with the second part of this definition section which concerns places wherein the business of a livestock mart is deemed to be carried on. As drafted, the definition provides that "a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction" is brought within the scope of the definition, and within the scope of the Bill. It does not matter whether the adaptation is purely of a temporary character. It does not matter whether or not a sale—either by auction or otherwise—has ever been carried on in that place. If it has been adapted and if that place is provided, then, according to this definition, as I see it, that comes within the scope of the Bill.

I think the intention of all of us is that the Bill should apply only to places which are proper livestock marts. I do not think it is necessary to define a livestock mart. They have become so common in the past ten years or so, I believe it is possible judicial notice would be taken of the term and that further definition is unnecessary. I see no reason why we should not in this Bill, in the definition section—the Bill is entitled the Livestock Marts Bill, 1967—use the term "livestock mart" and everyone would know what is meant instead of talking about a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction. But as long as we do use the expression "a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction" surely there is a duty on us to cut out what I described as accidental adaptations? We can do that by acceptance of this amendment, by providing that the Bill will apply only in the event of the place which has been adapted also being used habitually for the sale of livestock by auction. That is all we seek in this amendment.

This amendment is a further endeavour on our part to introduce some semblance of clarity into what is undoubtedly a most unsatisfactory definition in this Bill. As Deputy O'Higgins has just said, we want to ensure it will be quite clear to whom and to what this Bill is applicable. We also want to know and to have it made quite clear who is excluded from the application of this Bill.

This amendment is a sensible one, a reasonable one and one which is readily defensible. It does not go as far in clarifying the definition section as we would like but, at least, it goes some way towards introducing some semblance of clarity into the definition section. Deputy O'Higgins said his amendment proposes, too, that the unsatisfactory clause in the definition section—and particularly the word "adapted", with which all the previous amendments have been dealing—would be qualified by the insertion of a clause containing the words "a place adapted and habitually used".

It is vitally essential at this stage that the definition sections should be clarified. Otherwise, the Bill can apply and will apply to all types of sales in all types of places. The word "adapted" is a word which has unlimited application. It is relatively easy to adapt a place for the purpose of the sale or sales but it does not necessarily follow that the place which is adapted for the purpose of the sale is, in fact, a place which is normally or habitually used as a livestock mart. The whole point of this amendment is to impose some limit on the application of this word "adapted".

It is regrettable that the Minister, in his annoyance with and his antagonism towards the Fine Gael Party, has blinded himself completely to the extent that he cannot see any reason in the amendment we have put forward in this case or in the previous amendments. It certainly reflects no credit on the Minister that he is not even prepared to give consideration to this amendment or that he did not give some consideration to the previous amendments and shut his mind to all the reasonable arguments that have been put forward from this side of the House. It appears that Deputies on the Government Benches have been precluded from contributing to this debate and have obviously been prevented from giving some consideration to the arguments put forward. I doubt if there was ever a Bill introduced which had such an unsatisfactory definition section and if a Bill does not start off with clear-cut definitions, nobody will know where he stands and the widest and most diverse interpretation can be given.

I urge the Minister at this late stage to consider this amendment. It does not qualify or clarify the application of the word "adapted" as well as we would like but it does, nevertheless, impose some type of rational limitation on the application of this part of the definition section.

At this stage the meaning of the words "livestock mart" is quite clear. These livestock marts have been established over the past ten years and nobody is in any doubt as to what is meant by a "livestock mart". This Bill, which is termed the Livestock Marts Bill, 1967, was taken and understood by all and sundry to mean that it was a Bill applying to livestock marts in the normal meaning and application of the words. Now, by reason of the definition section and by reason of the Minister's unreasonable insistence on pushing this definition section through and his refusal to listen to any argument put forward from this side of the House in support of clarifying the definition section, this Bill can apply to not merely livestock marts but to all types of sales of livestock by auction, whether these sales take place in a livestock mart, in what is sometimes called a cattle yard, in a farmer's yard or in a field. It is easy to adapt a field or any enclosed space, whether it be a yard or otherwise, for the purpose of conducting a particular sale. By putting forward this amendment and the other amendments, we are endeavouring to have clarified the places and the types of sale to which this Livestock Marts Bill, 1967, applies.

The Minister has refused even to listen to the arguments put forward and I have no doubt that if the Bill is allowed through unaltered—particularly this definition section—nobody will know where he stands. There will be numerous arguments and numerous difficulties in the later interpretation of the Bill and there is a grave danger that the whole marketing arrangements for livestock which have been successfully built up through the co-operative movement and through private enterprise by way of the livestock mart may be thrown into jeopardy. It is quite clear that the Minister has had second thoughts since the Second Reading of this Bill and that he now seeks to control, not merely the livestock marts already established and livestock marts which might be established in the future, but to control the complete domestic marketing arrangements for livestock in the country. If he shows that he is prepared to listen to reason and if he accepts this amendment, he will be going some way towards clarifying the application of this most unsatisfactory definition section of this Livestock Marts Bill.

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

On a point of order, there are four members of Fine Gael present. It is now ten minutes to two. There used to be a code of ordinary decency here that one could have a midday meal. I was out at seven o'clock this morning. I expected a code of decency.

I expected a point of order.

That is not a point of order; it is a point of disorder.

My apologies to Deputy Burke, but I found it rather embarrassing to rise to speak to the amendment and address only one Fianna Fáil Deputy who was asleep, another who was attending to his meal and a Parliamentary Secretary confining himself to what was said in the House 30 years ago.

The time of the Blue-shirts—that is what I was reading about.

There were only four Fine Gael Deputies here when you called for the House.

I know it is unpleasant for Deputy Dowling to have to run in here and run out again, but as I pointed out yesterday and on Tuesday and last week, it is not Deputy Dowling's function in this House or his interpretation——

It is not relevant.

If I may be allowed to develop——

It could not develop into relevancy, no matter how hard the Deputy tried.

The point I wish to make is that Deputy Dillon spent approximately 60 minutes lecturing the backbenchers of Fianna Fáil that they were not in touch——

Will the Deputy address himself to the amendment?

Very much so. That was because they did not attend the Fianna Fáil Government meeting and the only way they could be educated was to keep them sitting here in the House so that Members on this side could explain——

This has nothing to do with the subject matter of the amendment.

I am explaining——

The Deputy must address himself to the subject matter of the amendment. It is not relevant to comment on who is present or who is not.

Will Deputy Harte say if Deputy Flanagan was consulted about the amendment?

Deputy Dowling must make a contribution or cease interrupting.

I am making the case that premises which are habitually used for the sale of livestock should be the only premises which come within the ambit of this legislation. It is for that reason that I should particularly like to see Deputy Booth come back into the House and take his seat, that I should particularly like to see Deputy Dowling sit there and not have us calling for a House, that I should particularly like to see Deputy Burke come in here and apologise——

I will not allow the Deputy to continue to make contributions to the terms of this amendment in that fashion. He is not doing it and he knows he is not.

I submit I am merely using this opportunity to preface my remarks by saying that it would be more useful from our point of view for us to have to continue to address empty benches.

Now, may we come to the amendment?

In support of this amendment, may I say that if it is accepted by the Government, it will meet the case of the small farmer and of the Fine Gael Party? Lest Deputy Dowling might say: "Now you are accepting the Bill", may I say also, once more, that we are totally against the Bill but we want them to accept this amendment? We want the Government to accept this amendment so that the terms of the Bill may be easily understood by the average individual who will be directly affected if this legislation passes through the House. As Deputy Hogan mentioned this morning, it is difficult for one not to repeat oneself when one asks the Government to accept amendments such as those we have been discussing during the past number of days. I find it difficult to understand why Deputy Allen maintains, in defiance of what Deputy Carty said to the effect that a field could not be constructed or reconstructed——

Deputy Dillon could do that. Was not he going to throw the rocks into the sea?

Was Deputy Smith not going to pull down the fences to let the inspectors in?

Was Deputy Dillon not going to bulldoze all the rocks into the sea?

During discussion on an earlier amendment, he said you cannot construct or reconstruct a field.

I said nothing of the sort: I asked you could you. Look at my words in the debates.

I have consulted the reports——

You could not because they have not been published.

Do not say Deputy Carty has rigged the reports.

I can and will get a copy of what I said as every Deputy does.

I was here when Deputy Carty said you cannot construct or reconstruct a field. Deputy Allen said that a field is always attached to a cattle sales mart and when I explained to him that the nearest cattle mart to this building is the Dublin Cattle Market and I do not know of any field being attached to it, Deputy Foley interjected and said there is a holding yard. Does Deputy Foley have to be lectured on the different purposes for which a field is used as against a holding yard? However, these are the reasons why we put down this amendment. We believe that a holding yard can be constructed or reconstructed but a field——

Ask Deputy Dillon if it can. He says it can, in Deputy Geoghegan's constituency. He was going to bulldoze all the rocks and make a field out of them. Perhaps I agree with Deputy Dillon. Thanks be to God, I had senior counsel on my side.

You can see quite easily, that when we ask the Fianna Fáil Government to accept this amendment, we are trying to make the case to Deputy Foley, to Deputy Allen and to Deputy Dowling, the flowerpot farmer from Dublin city——

The windowbox.

This in some way explains my anxiety to have a quorum. I want to enlighten Deputy Dowling, Deputy Foley and Deputy Allen, and I want Deputy Carty's remarks on a previous amendment to be used to explain why it is necessary for us to ask the House to accept this amendment. As Deputy Carty says, a field cannot be constructed or reconstructed.

It can: the Deputy's colleague said it can. Deputy Dillon promised that it could be done and said that he would do it in Galway.

If a field can be constructed or reconstructed, it would then be a cattle mart. Let us not be ridiculous. We hold that if a farmer elects to sell his cattle by the old traditional method, and if he adapts a field for the sale of those cattle, according to the Bill he is breaking the law, and we hold that if these amendments were accepted, he would know he was breaking the law, because he would have done the construction or reconstruction for a purpose.

The Deputy is shifting his ground again.

I am not surprised at the reaction of the Parliamentary Secretary to finding himself attending a Government meeting, knowing the pressures that were brought on the Minister, and being silenced, he cannot tell his own backbenchers what happened at that Party meeting.

A few moments ago the Deputy said the backbenchers attended a Government meeting.

I said a Government Party meeting. I do not believe there ever was such a Party meeting to discuss this matter.

The Chair would wish that discussion would be confined to the amendment before the House, and that remark goes for both sides of the House.

If the Government accepted this amendment to include "and habitually used", this would in some way eliminate any person who wished to have a dispersal sale or any other type of sale which would not be a continual arrangement, either monthly, quarterly or bi-annually. People have to dispose of their livestock for different reasons. The small farmers of Connemara, about whom Deputy Geoghegan talks, who must emigrate because of Government legislation, may decide that they wish to sell their cattle in the way their forefathers sold them, and they should be allowed to do so without being interfered with by this legislation.


If Deputy Geoghegan wishes to make a contribution, he should keep quieet until I give way. I will give way if he wishes to speak. If he does, he will be the first Fianna Fáil backbencher to have spoken today. If a small farmer in Connemara wishes to dispose of his stock, he should be free to do so by using his own farmyard or one of the fields in the small holding, without having to apply to the Minister, or the courts, or some other authority, for a licence, The whole notion seems to be that if such a person were to think along those lines and contact a local auctioneer and have the auction advertised, it is the auctioneer who would be prosecuted if such a sale took place. The Bill does not say that: the Bill says it would be the seller. The auctioneer is not the seller. He is merely the agent. The seller is the vendor, in this case the owner of the cattle. I submit that Deputy Geoghegan is now a party to a Bill by his own Government, by his own Minister, by his own Party——

And proud of it.

——to take away a right which his forefathers fought for in this country. Deputy Geoghegan is quite content to come into this House when the division bells ring and trot— I think it was Deputy Hogan who described it this morning as hay-straw, hay-straw—through the lobby. Deputy Millar, Deputy Crinion and a few other Deputies in the Fianna Fáil Party understand agriculture. I will include Deputy Foley and a few others. It is very hard to understand why Deputy Dowling has continued to interrupt speakers on this side. He has continually interrupted and the fact is that he knows Sweet Fanny Adams about agriculture.


I can readily understand that Deputy Millar in conversation with his colleagues in Fianna Fáil would be interested in matters such as this and I am sure both Deputy Millar and Deputy Carty, the Parliamentary Secretary, find themselves very much in agreement with some of the amendments. Remember that a prominent farmer in the Fianna Fáil Party, Deputy Foley, asked could anyone foresee the Minister for Agriculture going into a mart, which is something we indicated might happen. Deputy Foley is on record as asking that question approximately an hour ago.

And an ex-Minister for Agriculture agreed with me.

And I also agree with the Deputy. The fact is that Deputy Foley poses the question in the fond belief that Deputy Blaney is the only person who will hold the office of Minister for Agriculture.


Unless Deputy Harte addresses himself to the amendment, I shall have to ask him to discontinue. He has said practically nothing about the amendment since he rose.

I am trying to explain to the House that, if the Government and the Fianna Fáil Party would accept this amendment to insert the words "habitually used", that would exclude the people with whom we are most concerned and I am trying to convey to the House that certain members of the Fianna Fáil Party are not interested in agriculture and their only contribution here is one of destruction.

The Chair ventures to suggest that the Deputy might himself give a lead in discussing the amendment.

It is very difficult, when Deputy Crinion is reading a newspaper.

That has nothing to do with the fact that the Deputy is not addressing himself to the amendment. The Chair will have to take into account the dignity of the House.

Which is not being upheld.

I do not know whether that is a reflection on me or the Government Deputies. I am trying to speak to the amendment, but it is difficult to do so when one is interrupted by Deputies on the Fianna Fáil benches who, no doubt, are offended because I asked them to come in here.

I have told the Deputy, and I repeat, that unless he addresses himself specifically to the amendment, I shall have to ask him to resume his seat.

The Title of the Bill is the Livestock Marts Bill and we believe that the Bill should be confined within its own Title and that those with whom Deputies of the Fianna Fáil Party interested in agriculture would also be concerned should be excluded from the scope of the Bill. The Minister proposes under this Bill to control livestock marts. It is the function of an Opposition to pick out weaknesses in legislation and it is the function of a Government to give due consideration to amendments proposed by the Opposition. Not alone is the Minister ignoring the proposals made by the Fine Gael Party but he is also ignoring his own back benchers and some of his colleagues from his native county. If the words "habitually used" are inserted the Bill will confine itself, we believe, to livestock marts and farmers who wish to sell cattle or other livestock can use any method by which they can command better prices for their livestock. That has been a God-given right of the agricultural community and I see no good reason why a Minister in an Irish Government should interfere with that right.

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

This amendment is, we believe, in defence of the small farmer or the smallholder who wishes to continue to sell his cattle by the traditional methods. As a Deputy representing the ancient County of Donegal, where this type of sale is very popular——

I did not know that any of them was younger than the others.

There is no doubt that the Parliamentary Secretary is subjected to the same pressures as Deputy Cunningham.

On a point of order, is it proper for the Deputy to keep introducing personalities into his speech? Surely the Deputy exploited what was in them and was emphatically told by Deputy Cunningham that he was not approached by any pressure group regarding this Bill?Repetitio matris studiorum is a motto that does not apply to Deputy Harte.

Et tu, Brute?

I am putting on record that the rights of individuals, particularly the rights of the smallholders in Donegal, will be grossly interfered with by this piece of legislation.

Not at all.

The amendment before the House is not unreasonable. It is a simple amendment asking that if the terms of your own Bill are in any way to be adherred to, then you should confine your legislation to livestock marts and not introduce blanket legislation which will cover livestock and not marts. It is for that reason that constituents in Donegal have approached me. I know, and I am putting it on the records of the House——

For the third time.

Perhaps for the third time——

Then it is completely out of order. Repetition is not in order. I have heard the Deputy make this point on two occasions.

The Parliamentary Secretary contradicted me. Am I not permitted to correct him?

The Deputy made the statement on three occasions.

I state emphatically that what the Parliamentary Secretary says is not true is in fact true, that Deputy Cunningham knows it to be true and that Deputy Cunningham refused to deny it until yesterday morning.

The Deputy, by insinuation and innuendo, is making Deputy Cunningham out to be a liar, which is not correct—a most honest man, a man of great character.

Such sarcasm is very damning.

You do not know the truth from sarcasm or the truth from lies. You are too deep in the art of untruths.

That is a very provocative man over there on the front bench. Who is he?

The peacock of the Fianna Fáil Party.

I move that the question be now put.

I shall send for the Ceann Comhairle.

An Ceann Comhairle took the Chair.

I am here in the interests of my constituents, Sir, and could we know what is happening?

It is a pity the Deputy was not here all the time and he would know.

Unlike you, I have to see my constituents every day. I cannot waste all day here admiring my colleagues.

Order. A motion "that the question be now put" is not an instrument to create order or to quell disorder. It is an instrument to take a measure where there has been sufficient debate on a particular matter. In the circumstances in which the motion has been put, I am not prepared to accept the motion now. It may be moved later, if so desired.

The teacher of manners has been taught.

I will be back again in a moment.

Before you leave the Chair, Sir, may I raise a point of order? When a Member of the House calls for the Ceann Comhairle to be sent for for a closure motion, as of course he is entitled to do at any time, the ruling can only be given when you are in the Chair. Having asked for it, does the business of the House suspend or does it carry on until you arrive?

The only answer I can make is that Standing Orders seemed to envisage the motion for the closure to be put when the Ceann Comhairle is in the Chair.

I agree, but would it not be more orderly when the Member—whether a Minister or anybody else, and everybody has the same right to move it—has applied for you to come to the Chair, if the business would carry on in the ordinary way until you arrive?

That is a matter to be referred to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges for decision.

Very useful at times, but I understand that there are words hanging in the room of the President of the United States which say "The buck stops here."

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.