I am proceeding to amendment No. a1 in the name of Deputy O'Malley. I do not observe Deputy O'Malley or any of his colleagues, therefore the amendment is not moved.
Irish Horseracing Industry Bill, 1994: Committee Stage.
On behalf of Deputy O'Malley, may I move the amendment, withdraw it and seek leave to re-enter it on Report Stage?
That is not proper procedure.
I would prefer that to be said by the Chair, or even the Minister, than by a political bootboy from Fianna Fáil. If the Deputy has something to say he should sit in and say it.
The amendment is not being moved by the Deputy concerned or by any of his parliamentary colleagues, therefore the amendment falls.
Is it possible to re-enter the amendment on Report Stage?
There is a wide scope on Report Stage and the matter will be considered at that time.
I request that the amendments in the name of Deputy O'Malley, who cannot be here for obvious reasons, be re-entered on Report Stage, if possible.
It is difficult to state definitely that this matter can be raised on Report Stage, but we shall examine it at that time and see if it is in order.
The Deputy referred to me as a bootboy, but I am not a bootboy. Whatever tactics are used by the Deputy, her colleague, Deputy Ivan Yates, and others, I do not get involved in them.
This kind of intervention is unhelpful.
The Deputy is a loud mouth.
Amendments Nos. 3, 4 and 7 will be taken together, by agreement.
I move amendment No. 1:
In page 6, subsection (1), line 30, to delete "an authorised" and substitute "a".
I wish to refer to the fact that amendment No. a1 was not moved. It is an insult to the House that a person puts down an amendment and neither that Deputy nor any Member of the party thinks it worth their while to come into the House and move it.
They lost all interest in agriculture when they left Fianna Fáil.
I thank Deputy Dukes.
Amendment No. 1 is a technical amendment. The draftsman suggested deletion of the reference to "an authorised" racecourse in the definition of "executive" as there is a reference in the Bill to the executive of a racecourse which is not authorised.
I move amendment No. 2:
In page 6, subsection (1), between lines 36 and 37, to insert the following definition:
" `the Irish thoroughbred horse' means a horse eligible for entry into Wetherby's Thoroughbred Stud Book;."
This amendment is self explanatory. The Bill deals with the horse racing industry. We are not talking about the racing of donkeys, ponies or any other equidae. We are talking about the thoroughbred horse racing industry. In the Bill the Irish thoroughbred horse is referred to, in particular on page 9, line 31; yet in the definition section no attempt has been made to define what we mean by the Irish thoroughbred horse. To be clear about what the Bill refers to we must have a definition of the Irish thoroughbred horse. In my amendment I am suggesting the defintion that "the Irish thoroughbred horse means a horse eligible for entry into Wetherby's Thoroughbred Stud Book". If the Minister wishes to define it otherwise I will listen to his suggestion, but a definition of the Irish thoroughbred horse is needed in the definition section of the Bill.
I support Deputy Doyle's amendment. The reference to which she referred is contained in section 10 (f) which gives the proposed Authority, as one of its functions, the promotion of the Irish thoroughbred horse. We would all agree with that notion, but it would be useful for the Authority and for everybody else to know exactly what it is promoting. Since our concern — and I believe the Minister shares this — is, first, to continue to improve the quality of Irish horses and, second, to further develop the name and reputation of our horses abroad and at home, it would be necessary that the proposed Authority has a clear term of reference in this regard. The best way of making that clear is to give a proper definition in the Bill.
The Irish thoroughbred horse is internationally recognised. Thoroughbred horses bred in Ireland or in the UK are registered in a general stud book covering both countries and that has been the case since 1791. The stud book is maintained by Wetherby's and the registration process for Irish breeders is carried out by a subsidiary of that company.
The definition proposed by Deputy Doyle is incorrect in so far as the general stud book maintained by Wetherby's also includes non-thoroughbred horses. I must oppose this amendment on the basis that it is unnecessary. The phrase "Irish thoroughbred horse" is used only once in the Bill and in a general way regarding the marketing and promotion of the Irish thoroughbred horse. It is sufficient that what we are talking about is generally recognised. If it would be helpful, I have no difficulty in asking the new Authority to define the Irish thoroughbred horse in a more clear way for the purposes of the promotion function given to it under this Bill, if it wishes to do so.
I do not know if the Minister read my amendment, but he treated me to a lecture on how one registers thoroughbred horses. I am aware of that process and I agree with the Minister. But my amendment actually refers to "a horse eligible for entry into Wetherby's Thoroughbred Stud Book" which distinguishes from the non-thoroughbred section of Wetherby's, of which I am well aware. I do not understand the Minister's reply in view of the wording in my amendment.
There may be better wording which could be used to define an Irish thoroughbred horse, but if one of the main functions of the Bill is to promote the Irish thoroughbred horse — and there is no definition anywhere in the Bill as to what we mean by an Irish thoroughbred horse — this represents a serious defect in the Bill. There are other boards, interim and otherwise, dealing with horses in Ireland. A board which is being chaired by Dr. Noel Cawley, of which the Minister will be aware, is currently dealing with another section of the horse industry which is generally referred to as sport horses. There is a definition of what we regard as a sport horse and I am asking the Minister to distinguish clearly, in relation to a Racing Authority for thoroughbred horses, and to define what we mean by Irish thoroughbred horses. This is an easy requirement for the Minister to concede and it is necessary also to make complete sense of the Bill.
I am not sure that it should be left to the Authority to decide what it considers to be an Irish thoroughbred horse. I have no doubt it could come up with an appropriate definition, but I believe the completeness of this Bill needs that definition included in the definition section. The Minister suggested it might be superfluous to include such a definition. But there are other matters in the definition section that to the initiated would be superfluous also, yet the Minister chooses to define them. I will not go into those in detail but, for example, there is a definition of a levy and "the Minister" is defined as the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry, and I could give other examples also.
Not long ago in this House I requested that a definition for "the Minister" be included in a particular Bill and I was told quite clearly on that occasion by the Minister for the Environment, Deputy Smith, that any idiot — the Minister used more parliamentary language than that — would know which Minister was being referred to. The Minister is basically saying that any idiot knows what type of horse is being referred to. He finds it necessary to define that it is he, the Minister, that deals with this Bill and I suggest to him that anyone should be able to work that out. If one applies the same logic, the definition of the Irish thoroughbred horse should be included in the definition section. If the Minister is prepared to consider the matter between now and Report Stage, I would accept that. If the Minister feels my amendment is weak in any way I would be pleased to accept any wording of the Minister's as long as he accepts the principle of including a definition of the Irish thoroughbred horse in this section.
Will the Minister reflect on the meaning of what he has apparently just read from his brief? The Minister said there was no need for a definition of the thoroughbred horse because everybody knows what it is and in the next breath he said he would be quite happy to ask the Authority to give a clearer definition of a thoroughbred horse. Which statement are we to believe? I think we should believe the second statement, because the Minister has conceded that it would help clarity if the Authority had a clearer definition of a thoroughbred horse.
It would be much more of a help to clarify if that definition was written into the Bill. If the Minister is prepared to ask the authority to come up with a definition, why will he not put that into the Bill? If the Minister feels that the matter is sufficiently important to ask the Authority to do it, then by definition it is sufficiently important to include it in the definition section of the Bill. In doing that the Minister would not be conceding anything. He would help clarify the Bill which in a few places lacks clarity.
It is disingenuous for the Minister to say everyone knows what a thoroughbred horse means. We all know that an elephant is a pachyderm, but not all pachyderms are elephants. We all know what a thoroughbred horse is not, but it is a little more difficult to define what it is. Since there is a widely known and universally accepted definition of a thoroughbred horse and classification of horses that we regard as thoroughbred, why not use that in a Bill designed to set up an Authority, one of whose functions will be to promote the Irish thoroughbred horse? I cannot see how inserting that definition in the Bill would do damage. There would be advantage in doing so, as the Minister has implicitly recognised. We should insert a suitable definition and if he does not like the one proposed by Deputy Doyle he should bring in a more precise one on Report Stage.
We are wasting time.
The Deputy is wasting more now.
The Deputy was stopped for speeding. Stop now and do not speed on.
I have plenty more to say.
Carlow-Kilkenny): The Deputy without interruption.
The definition of an Irish thoroughbred horse is one that is bred for that purpose and for racing. Deputy Doyle said there is a definition of a sport horse. There is not. There is a definition of what a sport horse does but not what it is. The Minister said if the Authority wanted a clear definition of an Irish thoroughbred they could define it. Price decides what a thoroughbred is and what it is not.
Price? The Deputy must be joking.
If the Deputy tries to buy one she will see that is so.
Anyone could buy a number of thoroughbreds for £300. Knacker money. Price has nothing to do with it. One could pay £20,000——
I ask the Deputy to withdraw the racist remark she made in relation to money and other sections of the horse breeding industry.
Yes. The Deputy termed the money "knacker money". On behalf of those at the other end of the horse breeding industry, the Deputy should withdraw that term.
That is the correct expression. The Deputy is used to using that expression in relation to other persons.
I saw the Deputy with a piebald——
Is the amendment agreed?
Will the Minister consider it on Report Stage?
No. We are not talking about any idiot knowing what a thoroughbred might be. For two centuries the Irish thoroughbred has been known internationally. There is no difficulty about it. As Deputy Davern said, the present position gives the Authority flexibility——
To get involved in donkey racing, pony racing and so on.
——if at some future date they want to go trotting——
I will re-enter the amendment on Report Stage.
I move amendment No. 3:
In page 6, subsection (1), between lines 40 and 41, to insert the following definition:
" `licensed racecourse' means a racecourse which is licensed by the Racing Regulatory Body under the Rules of Racing;".
This is a technical amendment suggested by the draftsman. It is to insert a definition of "licensed racecourse" which was not included in section 2 of the published draft.
That has been understood for 200 years as well.
It means a racing course which is licensed by the Racing Regulatory Body under the rules of racing.
The Turf Club have understood this for 200 years. It is superfluous. I object to it being included. It makes no sense. We need not spend all day on these definitions, but the Minister is being selective about what he considers to be necessary. For 200 years the Turf Club and those involved in racing have understood what a licensed racecourse is and the logic used to turn down my definition of an Irish thoroughbred horse could be used in the case of this amendment. The Minister is not being consistent. I fail to understand why that is so. There is nothing wrong with this amendment. It clarifies the matter in the same way as did my amendment. Can we establish that the Minister is only prepared to accept amendments in his name?
Not at all.
We will see.
I can see why the Minister is anxious to include this definition in the Bill, but I agree with Deputy Doyle. The difference between this definition and that of a thoroughbred horse, which the Minister mulishly will not accept, is that this one is necessary in order to put in place the bureaucratic structures provided for in the Bill and to allow moneys to be charged for various purposes. The Minister, in keeping with the Government's general approach to such matters, is quite prepared to have detailed definitions where they are necessary to implement the bureaucratic nonsense contained in this and other Bills. He is prepared to have definitions which clarify matters and put them beyond doubt when there is a question of charging people money; but when a definition is required solely to clarify the matter, the Minister does not see a need for it. That approach is symptomatic of the way the Bill is framed and of how the Government goes about its work.
What impact will this amendment and amendment No. 4 have on flapper meetings, particularly on the west coast, much beloved by Fianna Fáil backbenchers? Did the Minister discuss with his party his ruling out of a form of racing that many have enjoyed over the years? There may be justification for doing so, but lest what the Minister is trying to do in this Bill be slid under the carpet, does he have party support for these measures? What are the Minister's views on flapper meetings and the reasons they developed over the years? Is there room in the future for flapper meetings?
It is a thing called crack.
They are gone.
Flapper meetings do not come within the scope of this Bill and will not form part of the responsibility of the new authority. If people want to go to a flapper meeting and enjoy the atmosphere I have no objection. It is an enjoyable way of life for many people. It does not come within the terms of this legislation.
I move amendment No. 4:
In page 7, subsection (1), between lines 6 and 7, to insert the following definition:
" `racecourse authorisation' means an authorisation granted to a licensed racecourse by the Authority under section 59;".
This is a technical definition of the phrase "racecourse authorisation" which was not included in section 2 of the published draft.
Amendments Nos. 5 and 6 are related and may be discussed together.
I move amendment No. 5:
In page 7, subsection (1), line 7, after "day" to insert "or days".
Effectively, this amendment would make the definition of a race fixture read: "race fixture means the venue and the day or days of a race meeting." Amendment No. 6 proposes to delete the remainder of the present definition —"where a race meeting lasts for more than one day, each day of the meeting shall be a separate race fixture".
We propose to minimise the level of bureaucracy in running race meetings. The Bill proposes to establish a race fixtures sub-committee of the new horse racing Authority. The logic behind deeming each day of a festival meeting as a separate race fixture escapes me. I would like the race fixtures sub-committee, which should also be the race programme committee, to be in a position to deem a meeting held over a number of days as a single race fixture and deal with it accordingly. This makes sense, would minimise the bureaucracy and level of interference and reduce the work. The prize money and other matters which have to be considered could be discussed in the context of the different race programmes for each day.
Amendments Nos. 5 and 6 would have the effect of leading to some confusion in this area. At present the Turf Club and Racing Board regard each day of racing as a race fixture and a group of race fixtures as a race meeting. For example, each day of the week long Galway race meeting is regarded as a race fixture. The term "race meeting" is used in a futuristic sense in section 38 which refers to something which may or may not happen. A race fixture is one definite date which has been allocated, and this term has been used by the Turf Club and Racing Board for many years. If I was to change that definition now it could lead to much confusion. I cannot, therefore, accept these amendments.
The Minister referred to section 38 but I do not think he referred to the correct section. I would like him to explain his statement that the term "race meeting" is used in the Bill in a futuristic sense — it is either a race meeting or not or a race fixture or not. It is all very well for the Minister to read, po-faced, a statement about the present position — we all know what it is — but we are concerned about what will be put in its place, which, under sections 19 and 20 will be a fairly hefty piece of bureaucracy. It is proposed under section 19 to set up a race fixtures committee while it is proposed under section 20 to set up a race programme committee. These committees will be set up under the aegis of the new Authority. We are not talking about the present arrangements, the involvement of the Turf Club, etc., we are concerned about what will happen under the new Authority which the Minister proposes will have at least two separate committees under its aegis.
These committees will be different in that the race fixtures committee will have a chairman who shall be both a member of the Authority and a steward of the racing regulatory body, one steward of the racing regulatory body, two representatives of authorised racecourses and three other members representative of the horse racing industry, while the race programme committee will be established by the Authority after consultation with the racing regulatory body — this consultation is not required in the case of the race fixtures committee — and it may include persons who are not members of the Authority. The procedures for the two committees are different.
If one looks at this issue from the point of view of the punter, trainer or owner, two committees will have an input in deciding the kind of event which will be held, the number of races and the number of days over which they will be held. Nobody in his right mind can tell me that when setting up a new Authority one must establish two committees, one of which will include people who are not necessarily members of the Authority and who will decide whether there should be a one, two or three day meeting and the number of races in the different classes which should be held. This comes back to my earlier point about the Government's obsession with bureaucracy. For the life of me I cannot understand why an Authority which will have the kind of functions set out in the Bill should solemnly set up two committees to decide the days on which races will take place in a given place and the types of races which will be held. Anyone with even half a head will understand that two solemnly set up committees are not required to decide all these matters.
If my memory serves me correctly, the Minister told us that one of the purposes of the Bill was to streamline the procedures and administration of racing. One does not streamline something by sticking another excrescence on top of it, which the Minister is proposing in this case. For his information, streamlining means removing obstacles which impede the airflow and reduce the speed at which the object passes through the atmosphere. He will not facilitate the passage of this yoke through the atmosphere by adding the excrescence of another committee. If he reads sections 19 and 20 he will immediately see that the jobs to be carried out by the two committees could very easily, quite handily and in a properly streamlined manner be carried out by one committee operating under the aegis of this Authority.
I invite the Minister to reconsider our amendments. Why do we have to repeat everything that was done in the past and propose in what is supposed to be a streamlining Bill the setting up of two committees? I do not understand why the Minister is being so obstinate about this issue. The job set out under section 19 could be carried out just as easily by one committee as by two. Our amendment which proposes that each event, regardless of whether it lasts for one, two or three days, shall be regarded as the one event will tidy things up and remove some of the nonsense, mystery and bureaucracy in the Bill.
The Minister is a member of a party which is supposed to like to do things in a convenient, smart and sometimes glib way. However, it has delivered itself over entirely, handed itself up hand and foot, to the bureaucratic apparatchiks of the Labour Party which loves committees and extra bodies. It is surrounded by advisers, programme managers, assistants, brothers, sisters, aunties and uncles and cannot move anywhere without being advised on where to go, and it is now doing exactly the same thing to the Minister's party.
It is not so long since the Minister, who is so laid back about all these matters, had to be invited by the IFA to look at the disadvantaged areas in West Cork; he is so streamlined he did not know where the disadvantaged areas were in his constituency. Now he wants to burden himself with committees, rules and bureaucrats. It is because the Minister has sold out, because he has bound himself hand and foot to the bureaucrats in the Labour Party — who would not be able to enjoy a race meeting if they were paid to do so — that they are all so worried about this being done in accordance with the proper canons of Marx. The Minister should forget all that stuff, get rid of all the extra nonsense being put into this Bill and accept this amendment. Let us all clearly understand once and for all that, when we talk about the Galway Races, it is one event even if it lasts for three days; that when we talk about the Listowel Races, it is one event, not a series of different fixtures. The people in the racing industry would thank the Minister for doing so.
I will not avail of this debate to engage in political point scoring. I take a different view from Deputy Dukes. I suspect that, as we go through the various sections of this Bill, I shall be taking sharply contrasting views from his. It is not fair to say that bureaucracy in the racing industry amounts to even a fraction of what it is in the political arena, a ploy of all political parties is the establishment of committees and commissions to investigate matters, thereby putting them on the long finger.
I welcome this long overdue Bill because its provisions focus on the horse breeding industry in which we can compete with the best worldwide. Everybody connected with it can take a bow. For generations Irish jockeys have distinguished themselves, particularly in the national hunt field.
While deploring bureaucracy in any walk of life a certain amount is needed in the racing industry. What is undoubtedly needed is a fixtures committee, an aspect of racing long regarded as chaotic. Representing a small town like Dundalk, with a small, struggling racecourse, we look askance at the allocation of lucrative fixtures to the Curragh, Leopardstown, Galway, Listowel and other areas.
I might remind the Deputy that he is now on a broad ranging course.
Yes, like my illustrious colleague, Deputy Dukes.
He was supporting the amendment.
I am talking about the amendment.
I think the Deputy is engaging in an after race gallop.
I support the necessity for establishing the two committees because, undoubtedly, they are needed.
We are not discussing committees. I thought the Deputy was giving them as an example of bureaucracy.
That is a necessary part of bureaucracy.
We are discussing the substitution of the word "day" by the words "or days".
I was referring to the same matter to which Deputy Dukes had been referring.
It is a great pity that Deputy Dukes decided to drag out this discussion on every amendment particularly, since among all the representations made by various groups, this section was not even mentioned. Yet we have spent most of the morning point scoring, perhaps because of the lack of other opportunities to score points. With all due respect to Deputy Dukes I take exception to his remarks in relation to the Labour Party——
Every Bill that comes before the House includes some bureaucracy.
No, I am referring to the Deputy's remarks in relation to the Labour Party, a number of people will take offence at some of the Deputy's remarks in regard to people attending race meetings. Quite a number of Labour Party people attend race meetings, work in racing stables and ride and train racehorses. Indeed they do not have to contend with some of the smart alec remarks of the type the Deputy made in the House this morning.
They do not like bureaucracy either.
It is time we discussed the part of the Bill that needs to be teased out, which is the funding of the racing industry, instead of listening to rubbish from Deputy Dukes.
I cannot accept these amendments because race fixtures and meetings, and their definition, are well accepted. Their redefinition would lead to considerable confusion. We will be dealing with amendments Nos. 17 and 18 in relation to section 19 later.
Amendment No. 7 has already been discussed.
It was grouped but not really discussed.
I move amendment No. 7:
In page 7, subsection (1), between lines 23 and 24, to insert the following definition:
" `starting price licence' means a licence granted by the Authority under section 33;".
I should like to hear the Minister's remarks on this amendment. It involves the definition of a "starting price licence" being added to what is effectively a new section 33 by an amendment to section 33. In the context of the Minister's amendment to section 33 we need to accept it. We should put on the record the need to nationalise starting prices, a point we have almost reached. It seems an amazing arena within which the Civil Service should become involved, in a semi-State authority. I know there is confusion at present between two different systems. Will the Minister explain why he feels it necessary to considerably amend, as he proposes later, section 33, thereby making sense of this definition? We need to accept the definition, the overall concept of a "starting price licence"; in other words, having the Civil Service running the starting price system. Will the Minister explain the difficulties and why he feels we must move in this direction?
This is merely a definition of the "starting price licence" at this point——
All right, I will await our discussion on section 33.
Yes, and we can go into the matter in great detail then because, as the Deputy correctly said, there is confusion at present with two separate systems.
It is a problematic area.
I am not so sure we should nationalise it but it is a problematic area.
Do I understand the provisions of this section to mean that we will not be having an interim board or, should I say, another interim Authority appointed before the Bill passes through both Houses of the Oireachtas? At this stage I could nearly name the board for the Minister. Certainly the racing industry itself has had a very good go at naming the board. Any part of the racing press one cares to read will show that, despite the Minister's best efforts, comprising a list of at least three, his options are very narrow and self-selective. Do the provisions of this section mean that the members of the Authority will not be announced until the Bill passes through both Houses of the Oireachtas, or does the Minister intend to surprise us with this new Authority before 9 June?
For practical reasons it would not be possible to establish the new Authority on the day the Bill is enacted. Therefore, this section has been inserted to allow the Minister, by order, to appoint a day to be the establishment day for the purposes of the Act, and that day will coincide with the day on which he is ready to formally establish the new Authority. Is not that a nice bit of English?
Is there such a thing as an interim establishment day?
It is my intention to establish the new Authority as quickly as possible to allow it get on with the job.
I move amendment No. 8:
In page 8, subsection (1), line 21, to delete "62 (5),".
Section 62 (5) reads:
Any person excluded from a racecourse by virtue of subsection (1) shall comply with the exclusion notice.
Section 62 (1) reads:
The authority or the Racing Regulatory Body, may exclude by notice ... a person from being either
(a) on any authorised racecourse, etc.
This is going too far. Other amendments in my name, and that of Deputy Dukes, show that the authority being given to exclude people from racecourses is too open and handed over too freely. Several amendments refer to the use of gardaí in the event of someone having to be removed from a racecourse. We do not want to return to the position of having bouncers on the turnstiles at racecourses. It would be like what nightclubs and discos have to do. Will the Minister explain what he has in mind?
A person who is causing a nuisance, breaking the law or spoiling other people's pleasure and enjoyment at racecourses should be asked to leave by a garda and escorted off the racecourse. I do not know what the Minister has in mind to escort such people from a racecourse. A person who gets drunk and is disorderly is a nuisance and spoils other people's enjoyment. They should be asked to leave and be escorted off by a garda on duty. To say they shall be guilty of a summary offence is going a little too far. Will the Minister explain what he proposes? Will he bear in mind several other amendments we have tabled in relation to this type of difficulty at a racecourse? The deletion of section 62 (5) relates to the case we are trying to make in the handling of those who are out of order at a racecourse.
The effect of this amendment is to delete from the list of summary offences the section which requires a person who has been issued with an exclusion notice by the Authority or the regulatory body to exclude him or her from a racecourse to comply with that notice. I cannot accept this amendment because there would be little point in giving the Authority the power to exclude someone from a racecourse if, when it is not complied with, there is no action that can be taken. This action of excluding someone would be very rare and would be a necessary last resort and control which would be accepted by most reasonable people. That provision was contained in the 1945 Act. Before this fairly drastic action would be taken a person would have to cause tremendous problems at a racecourse, or racecourses, and upset other people's enjoyment. A letter would have to be sent to the person and the racecourse authority. Most people go to racecourses for enjoyment but if a person, or persons, decide to upset their enjoyment there comes a time when the Authority and the racecourse concerned would be entitled to exclude them from the racecourse and have the offence listed as a summary offence.
I am not opposed to that requirement. In recent years at English race meetings there were unsavoury incidents where groups of people caused much disruption to racing. Is that what the Minister has in mind or is he considering a more sinister element? For example, has he in mind a person who may be suspected of doping horses or being involved in the doping of horses, which is a serious offence? The Garda Síochána, as Deputy Doyle suggested, are capable of dealing with unruly behaviour. Does the Minister consider that people who are regarded by the racing authorities as unsavoury should be excluded from racing? If that is so I commend him.
I support the Minister. The problem may be exaggerated by this debate. I do not see this as being a regular occurrence in Ireland but we are aware of incidents where undesirable people were no longer welcome at race tracks throughout Britain. It is important that the Authority should have the power to ban those people from meetings.
I have in mind the person, or persons, who create a nuisance and upset people who want a day's or evening's enjoyment at a race fixture. If they persist in causing upset the Authority should be entitled to take action. There are several ways people can cause upset, one of which is hanging around boxes and interfering with horses. People may interfere with the running of a race, or races, as we have seen in the past. It would only be in an extreme case, and after the people had been written to, that this action would be taken. I do not envisage the Authority or the managements of racecourses taking this action except on rare occasions. This provision, which was contained in the 1945 Act, is a precaution worth having in the Bill.
How many times has the power under the 1945 Act been invoked? How many people per annum, or in the past 50 years, have been served with exclusion orders of this kind? I suspect the Minister is not in a position to tell us because it happens so infrequently. What worries us, not because we have any predisposition against the Authority or that we would wish the Authority not to be in a position to run its affairs and to have racecourses run their affairs in a proper and orderly manner, is that a power is being given to an authority to take a course of action which, if people do not agree with it, renders them liable to prosecution. Failure to comply with an exclusion order will be a summary offence and people can be fined. The fines in the Bill are not particularly light.
We are handing over to what are essentially private authorities, the authorised racecourse owners, power to take action which will result in other people becoming summarily liable under the law. As a general rule I do not like that manner of proceeding. I understand people can make themselves obnoxious at racecourses or at other public gatherings in a number of different ways. We need to be on our guard about that; we have the Garda Síochána to deal with such matters.
I note the Minister has not answered the questions put by Deputy McGahon. Under later sections a racing regulatory body has, as I am sure Deputy McGahon has noticed from his detailed perusal of the Bill, the power to charge for the provision of security services. I assume that the kind of security service the racing regulatory body should be offering to racecourses is advice and assistance on how to keep people who may be interfering with horses in one way or another away from them. That however is a separate matter. If this Bill is passed, the racing regulatory authority will have the power to charge racecourses for these services. I do not disagree with this principle. The matter should be dealt with in the way suggested by Deputy McGahon.
I do not like the idea that we should give to private individuals the power to take a certain course of action which may render other people summarily liable under the law. It is not a good argument that this power was given in the 1945 Act because, with all due respect to those who legislated in 1945, they did not necessarily hold the same view of civil liberties. It is an even worse argument that the powers under that Act have been used rarely. I ask the Minister to reflect on this matter. I do not like the idea that we should give private individuals or interests the power to take a certain course of action which may make other people summarily liable under the law when we have the Garda Síochána to do the job for us. Deputy Doyle has highlighted our other fear in this regard.
Our racecourses are well run and are places where people can enjoy themselves. I would hate to see them develop a tendency of employing their own bouncers, as is the case in the drinking joints in Leeson Street, where bouncers decide who should be allowed to enter, I presume on the directions of the boss of the establishment, and who occasionally have turned out to be, as we are all aware, a violent breed of people.
Does the Minister know, from the Turf Club or the Racing Board, if any people are currently proscribed from entering race tracks? As Deputy Dukes said, he did not reply to my question. The threat of doping at race tracks is a serious matter because of the danger posed to the jockey, the racehorse and the unfortunate punter who may have a bet on that racehorse. The Minister should address this matter in a meaningful way. Is there available to the Department a list of people who are not allowed enter racecourses?
I do not have such a list or know the actual number of people who have been prosecuted under the 1945 Act. Problems have been encountered. In our consultations with the industry it made it clear that there was a requirement for this provision for a number of reasons. I thought I had addressed the matter raised by Deputy McGahon of people gaining access to stables and boxes at racecourses and interfering with racehorses. It would be intolerable if the new Authority was not in a position to take any action other than warn the people involved if they refuse to leave the area or return to perpetrate the same offence. This power will be used rarely and only after the Authority has communicated with the people concerned in writing. This power is necessary and for that reason I oppose the amendment.
We now come to amendment No. 9. Amendments Nos. 61, 61a, 62, 64, 65 and 66 are related. It is proposed therefore that amendments Nos. 9, 61, 61a, 62, 64, 65 and 66 may be discussed together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.
I move amendment No. 9:
In page 8, subsection (2), line 24, to delete "(1)" and substitute "(6)".
This is a technical amendment. Because of an amendment to section 59 dealing with racecourse authorisations it is necessary to amend the reference in section 6 to the offence. Under section 59 the offence will now be against subsection (6) rather than subsection (1).
Section 59 (6) provides that the Authority may, as it sees fit, from time to time attach new terms or conditions to a racecourse authorisation. Section 59 (1) provides that a person shall not, on or after the establishment day, maintain, develop or operate a racecourse without a racecourse authorisation. Which subsection is going to be affected and what amendment does the Minister have in mind which requires this technical amendment?
Section 59 (1) would make it an offence to operate any kind of racecourse without authorisation. It is almost impossible to define "racecourse" as there are many types in existence. Some, like Laytown, operate on a beach with few or no facilities, while others have elaborate structures. To make it an offence to operate any racecourse without authorisation would automatically make flapper meetings illegal. Deputy Doyle made reference to such meetings earlier.
I thought they were included.
It is proposed to delete subsection (1) and replace it with a new subsection (6) stating that the Authority may require somebody not to operate a racecourse without authorisation if it deems that this is in the interests of the horseracing industry. The Authority will therefore ignore the few inconsequential flapper meetings, but if somebody wishes to build a major racecourse beside an existing racecourse to the detriment of the industry, the Authority may require such an unauthorised racecourse not to operate as an official racecourse.
This is too wide-ranging. We are going all over the place, with all due respect. Does the Minister agree?
It would be more tidy to take the amendments one after the other.
In sequence. Which amendment are we dealing with?
Amendment No. 9.
It is a technical amendment.
I suggest that we take amendment No. 9 as read but it should be understood that this does not prejudice the right of any Member on this side of the House to reopen the question when we deal with subsequent amendments.