DAIRY PRODUCE BILL, 1924.—SECOND STAGE.

Question put—"That this Bill be now read a second time."

Sir, nothing transpired during the debates in the Dáil to create any alarm with regard to the provisions of this Bill. Its passage was comparatively smooth, the Press was quiet, and there were rumours of certain conciliatory negotiations with the interests affected, and it is understood that they passed off satisfactorily. I, therefore, was very much astonished on reading this Bill, only last week I am ashamed to say, to discover the absolute and far-reaching powers which it gives to the Government. I should like to make to the House a general survey of those powers, before I draw certain conclusions from them. Under the heading "Conditions of cleanliness and order," this Bill enpowers the Minister for Agriculture, without, as far as I can understand, any previous prescription or regulation as to conditions, to order structural alterations in any premises where butter is manufactured for sale. I read that to mean that, in the smallest farm in the country where butter is made, structural alterations can be ordered by the Minister. And for failure to carry out those structural alterations there is a maximum penalty of £20, and a penalty of £5 per day so long as the order is not carried out. He has power to order the provision of an adequate supply of "good and wholesome water." It is not quite clear what that means. But if it does give the Minister power to order every farmer in the smallest circumstances who makes butter in his home for sale—I take it that the sale is not to take place on the premises, the sale can take place at any market, and of course the bulk of the butter manufactured by small farmers is for sale—if the Minister has power to order him to put in a pipe supply of water into his farm, those powers would be too far-reaching and should be curtailed.

The Minister also has the power to order the provision of any plant, alterations or additions to any plant anywhere except on a farm. It is not only in the creamery, making butter perhaps under the national brand, but also in the butter factory where butter is bought from individuals and merely blended and re-worked. An appeal from these orders lies to an arbitrator appointed by the Government whose powers under the Bill appear to be very indefinite. It is not quite clear whether he has power to interpret points of law or not. That matter should be cleared up in the Bill.

Further, the Bill takes power to register in registers to be kept by the Minister of Agriculture virtually all premises, other than farms, where butter is manufactured or re-worked, that is, butter factories. The regulations with regard to these premises lie, if you read the Bill carefully, almost entirely in the hands of the Minister who can practically propose any conditions he likes. The premises are divided into groups which I do not think I need trouble the House with now. There are five groups, and between these groups the conditions vary somewhat. There are further regulated powers and very wide regulated powers over all registered premises which include the complete control of equipment. I submit that there is some contradiction between two sections of the Bill in respect of this matter.

Section 15 (2) (a) provides that before registering any premises the Minister shall be satisfied "that such premises are equipped with efficient plant and machinery of the description specified in the First Schedule to this Act, with such additions and variations (if any) as may be prescribed or as may in any particular case be required or approved of by the Minister." And further on in Section 31 the Bill gives the Minister certain general powers of regulation, but only powers to make regulations prescribing "the nature and general character of the plant and machinery." A close examination of this Bill reveals more than one apparent inconsistency of that kind.

In the case of every manager of a creamery, or, I think, of every cream-separating station, the manager, the butter-maker, and the milk-tester—whoever that person may be; presumably a specialist—all these situations must be filled by qualified persons, qualified under conditions to be imposed by the Ministry, and the names registered or placed on a list to be filed in the Ministry. And under the strict interpretation of that section it would appear that if the milk tester was not to be available, through illness, for instance, and if no other duly qualified person was there, the test by any other party would be illegal. It seems to be a matter for consideration whether that is not too drastic.

The control of the marking and packing of all butter is absolute as far as I can understand. This Bill goes so far as to say that no other marks shall be put on butter from creameries and from butter factories except those prescribed. I would ask the House to regard that as an unwarrantable restriction upon the freedom of trade. If any business likes to display its proclivities, perhaps for Republican agencies, by placing some prominent member of that Party on its packages, or if it wishes by the colour of its wrapper to display its patriotism, surely it is only right and fair that it should be allowed to do so, and not be proscribed by a regulation from indulging its proclivities, however peculiar they may be. You never know what trade developments of that kind may attract. Trade is a very fickle and curious factor, attracted in all kinds of ways and by all kinds of curious advertisements. The cancellation of registration appears also to rest almost entirely in the hands of the Minister. Any contravention of these very, very wide rules may lead to the cancellation of registration. And the cancellation of registration involves the complete stoppage of business, because the bulk of the trade of all these registered premises is export, and no export is allowed from any premises which are not registered. And, in fact, the penalty in this connection is far more serious than any court has power to enforce for breaches of the Act. And there is the further extraordinary provision under which registration may be cancelled for failure without reasonable cause—I think those are the exact words—for failure without reasonable cause to carry out a contract. A creamery or a butter factory over here makes a contract with some purchaser on the other side, and for some reason or other he fails to carry it out. Without any legal proceedings apparently the Minister can himself, presumably after inquiry, cancel that registration, and close the premises. I would ask the House seriously to consider whether those are powers that the Legislature should give to any Government. There is no appeal from the cancellation of registration, nothing but an inquiry to be held under the orders of the Minister, apparently only if he thinks fit.

The powers to inspect and enter all premises are practically unlimited. It is not those that I would warn the House against, it is the powers that follow from inspection. Undoubtedly inspection will be necessary to carry out certain powers which are necessary. The power to make regulations with regard to packing and marking of all butter practically leaving registered premises is absolute, and also the power to impose alterations and additions to plant. The control of the export of butter is almost entirely vested in the Minister. He, in fact, controls the registration and the cancellation, under very wide powers, of all registered premises, and no premises can export unless they are registered except in a certain number of cases—I should imagine very small—in which the Minister has power to licence for export. Furthermore, in all these registered premises, whether they are making high-class butter or inferior butter—and it has been admitted that inferior butter will be continued for many years, and there is a market for inferior butter which will have to be met by somebody—documentary evidence has to be kept of all consignments in a form prescribed and invoices and necessary vouchers are liable to be called upon for production.

Having defined—I hope, fairly—only in general terms, the powers taken by this Bill, I should like to pass some general criticism. The first criticism is a broad one: that the powers are far too large and far-reaching to entrust to any Government. They show a belief in the omnipotence of regulation which is out of accord with the common experience of life. The power of government regulation is exceedingly limited, as anybody of experience must know, and if over exercised it is exceedingly dangerous. It is devised, I would suggest, by people technically qualified but ignorant of the true functions of government. I would even go so far as to suggest that the smooth passage through the Dáil of such a measure is only possible by the upheaval of the times and the breaking down of those big lines of policy which normally would guide and separate political parties. What are these principles, held, I firmly believe, by the majority of this House who hold to orderly and prudent and not revolutionary progress? They are these: that in the matter of trade and commerce government interference is unwise, irritating in its effect, does more harm than good, hampers trade, destroys initiative, and strikes at the root of those qualities which make for production and for national wealth. Government control is a deadening fetter and a fatal handicap in world competition upon those people on whom it is imposed. In that connection I cannot do better than look for a moment at the words of a very wise, perhaps the wisest political philosopher in modern times—comparatively modern times— Edmund Burke. He says:—

"Of all things an indiscreet tampering with the trade of provisions is the most dangerous, and it is always the worst in the time when men are most disposed to it, that is, in time of scarcity. Because there is nothing upon which the passions of men are so violent and their judgment so weak, and on which there exists such a multitude of ill-founded popular prejudices."

And further on he says:—

"To provide for us in our necessities is not in the power of government. It is a vain presumption in statesmen to think that they can do so. The people maintain them and not they the people."

Of course, no doctrine of that kind is true in its absolute purity, and legislation has created exceptions. There is the obvious exception to the doctrine of the unadulteratedlaissez faire school in the regulations providing for the welfare of the workers. That does not arise in this Bill. The control of the welfare of the workers is not affected by the Bill. There is another doctrine on which the Government might rely—the doctrine of protecting a third party from damage, as in a case like the Noxious Weeds Act. It is not so much the damage that the weeds do to the farmer's own land; it is the damage that they do in the neighbouring lands when they are disseminated by powers over which the neighbour, the third party, has no control. And I suppose it is on an extension, and a very wide extension, of that doctrine that the Government in this case take their stand. They argue undoubtedly that this unfettered or comparatively unfettered control in respect of butter production and dairy produce is damaging to the good name of the country, and in consequence damaging to its trade, and damaging to the individuals who create that trade. So far as that goes, I am in absolute agreement with that proposition. The quality of our butter is exaggerated no doubt. But there is a substantial proportion of our butter of bad quality, and it has a bad name in the markets of the world, and it does react upon the good butter. My only difference with the Government is as to the remedy. I need hardly say that we all firmly believe that the Minister whole-heartedly hopes and expects that these measures are going to produce an amelioration in the quality of our produce and do no indirect harm as regards the mentality and enterprise of the people. I give him full credit for that. But that is where we join issue. I would ask the House to hold that education is the right course and not excessive regulation. Undoubtedly education is slow. We all know that. Those who tried any education among the farmers know how painful and disheartening and slow it is, but it is the only sure way in which you will get permanent results.

Hard and bitter things have been said about the futility of coercion in the past, and I think that by applying coercion in the present it will not get you any distance. And this Bill is coercion to a great extent. And, moreover, it is the accepted duty of the State to educate. And I would suggest that the money spent in this Bill, or the part of it that is to be spent on inspection and control, would be far better spent on education. Regulation is irritating and ineffective. It deadens the sense of personal responsibility and it antagonises the citizens or turns the citizens against the State and against the rulers. If you come to look briefly at the development of political events, regulation is essentially a feature of the old phase of Toryism. Liberalism was always against regulation and in favour of getting free from control. These things are altered. Regulation was always essentially a feature of Toryism, and a bad feature of Toryism. And whether it is done under the guise of Toryism or democracy I suggest that it is equally bad. I have no doubt that you may impinge one on the horns of a dilemma by saying that if you are a Tory, as some of you may claim to be, why should you object to this regulation. I do not object to it if it is consistent. Take Toryism as it was without democracy, and then it is absolute. With adult franchise the circumstances are completely different. Here you have regulation on the one hand set against adult franchise on the other —a totally different proposition. There are generally accepted—and I would ask the House to adopt them — wise limits in the powers as devised in the American Constitution. Congress reserves certain powers, and any powers not reserved are left to the constituent States. And so in the regulation of business the Government are fairly satisfied with what powers they reserve and leave any powers not reserved to the free play of individuals. That is exactly what is not done in this Bill. Practically absolute powers are taken, and, presumably, if they are not exercised, it is at the discretion of the Minister, and it is always subject to their being brought into being.

The safeguards are two. One is the tabling of papers which we have heard a great deal about, and we can all draw our own conclusions as to what the value of this safeguard is. You can take these regulations and get them annulled, not amended. They have to be rejectedin toto or passed. May I point to the rules of Court? After long debate it was conceded that the regulations should be specifically passed and not allowed to go by default.

Then there is the consultative council which is composed of the leaders of the trade—managers and committee men, whoever they may be, representing the trade, and of whom the Minister has the sole selection. I do not for a moment suggest that the Minister will not try to select the wisest people. But we have got to look at these things from an abstract point of view. In the Minister is the sole power of selection and he can call a meeting of the council when he likes, and there is no machinery by which the council can call itself together if it wishes to do so. I wonder if the House thinks of the present powers because there are very considerable powers of control that rest behind the Dairies and Cowsheds Order. Those powers are taken from the Act of '48, and they give the local authority powers to make rules; and I need hardly say that that regulation is far more honoured in the breach than in the observance. No new dairy or cowshed can be put up without the leave of the local authority. I wonder how many people who have put up new cowsheds for the last twenty years have done it under the authority of the local authority. It suggests itself to me that the wisest thing to do to make a start was to exercise these powers. They are vested in the district councils and if the district councils are going to be extinguished, then the Government should take the matter into their own hands. There are considerable powers which might continue to be exercised. There is no repeal of this Act under the Bill, and I should like the Minister to tell us how we stand. Are the local authorities going to function simultaneously with himself in the matter of regulating all these cowsheds and dairies?

We have been told that the Agricultural Commission has recommended all these matters. I was a member of the Agricultural Commission, and most emphatically they had not recommended one-half of the extreme powers that are taken by this Bill. They recommend extreme powers with regard to the national brand, which I heartily endorse. As regards our national brand, make your conditions as strict as you like, but let other matters remain under comparatively unfettered conditions. The commission recommends certain powers with regard to all dairies and cowsheds and premises where butter is manufactured—power to enter and inspect, power to sample in the premises, power to sample in transit, power to prohibit margarine on the premises, power to prohibit the word "creamery" being used as a brand for factory butter, power to make definitions and regulations, power to require creameries to pasteurise — I do not object to that—power to prosecute cow-keepers for dirty milk and utensils, power to prosecute owners for dirty utensils. There are far wider powers given in this Bill of imposing plant and prohibiting export from any but registered creameries, and there is this extraordinary power of cancellation, practically closing down for a breach of the Act of which the Minister shall be the judge.

I have been to some trouble to find out whether there is any precedent for this in any country which has made a success of the dairy business. With regard to Denmark, I can speak with absolute certainty, because I have got the regulations under which export is controlled. They have got so far in Denmark in improving their produce that they can make a regulation that nothing but the Lur Brand can be exported. It will be many years before we can prohibit all other exports in Ireland except those bearing our brand. In Denmark they allow nothing out except with the Lur Brand. And they protect it in a simple way, by means of controlling the packing material, and the Government only release the packing material to creameries entitled to use the brand, and then for any offence against the rules the packing material is stopped. And incidentally they can trace where the butter comes from by the marking on the packing material. New Zealand has done a great deal, if not as much as Denmark. I have not got the New Zealand Orders, only the Statute. And there is nothing in the Statute giving anything like as far-reaching powers as the powers given by this Bill. And you know that those two countries have got a great place in the butter market of the world.

We know nothing about the cost of this measure, and I should like enlightenment on that point. If it is going to be enforced in the drastic manner I am suggesting it must be necessarily very costly, and when the Bill is going through I would suggest to the Minister that these inspectors should be also made technical instructors and that there should not be one lot of men inspecting and closing up and another lot of men giving technical instruction; and I would put in possibly an amendment which would ensure that these inspectors shall be also qualified as technical advisers and do the two jobs in one period. It would certainly save a great deal of money.

With regard to the drafting of the Bill, many points will arise during Committee, and I would suggest that it might be reduced a good deal without in any way impairing the powers and substance of the enactment. There must be to a person accustomed to reading enactments a tremendous lot of overlapping, and in some cases contradiction in the composition of this measure. I am reluctant to ask the House to reject this measure. Personally I cannot vote for it. It is an unwise extension of the powers of the Oireachtas. It is an undue interference with the butter trade. It will most certainly either interfere with the trade or, as is quite possible, become largely a dead letter. I am afraid it must become a dead letter. You can only enforce it to a very limited extent, and it will drag the law into disrepute. I would ask the House to say that something far simpler and more on the lines of the recommendations of the Agricultural Commission, is all that is necessary for the country at the present time. Later on, when more limited powers have been in force and the quality has been improved, further powers may be wisely taken.

I have studied this Bill as closely as I could, and I came to the conclusion with Sir John Keane that it was and is a coercion Bill. But as apart from that, I have come to the conclusion that the country as a whole desires a coercion Bill, and that such a Bill as this was essential if the butter industry is to be conducted in a proper manner and carried out to the advantage of the community. While saying this, I must feel that every detail seems to have been considered with scrupulous care, and yet I am sure the Minister will allow that it is quite possible that two or three clauses may have crept into the Bill which need to be remedied. It is for that purpose that I venture at this stage to suggest two or three points which would seem to be unwise in the Bill; and if my suggestions seem to savour of more coercion, I think it is because more coercion is necessary.

I would refer, in the first instance, to Section 16, clause (3), which provides for the qualifications to which Sir John Keane alluded—the qualifications of managers, of butter makers, or of testers. The Bill as it stands provides that any person whom the Minister desires, even though not qualified, may be accepted by him. He may have no certificate of qualification, but yet he may be empowered to carry on operations in a creamery or butter factory or manufacturing exporter's premises, as the case may be.

To me that seems to be undesirable. Farmers and all people connected with milk and creameries should prepare themselves for this Bill, which is a most advantageous one. But apparently the Government, in its wisdom, thinks that provision ought to be made to let hotch-potch into a position somebody who has no written qualification for his experience or his method. I would ask the Minister to consider whether it would not be wiser to arrange that only persons qualified under the registration should be accepted, because I am glad to say that, in the beginning, there are a number of excellent managers in the country who now have the necessary qualifications. It is for the Minister to examine those, and when he has examined them, that loophole should not be left in the Bill.

Sir John Keane has alluded to the question of contract. All business, to my mind, is carried on by the straight-forwardness of contracts. If contracts are liable to be broken, to my mind, as far as I have studied economics, no business can succeed. There is not a shadow of doubt that in Ireland contracts made by creamery managers were deliberately broken. They made a contract this morning, and perhaps to-morrow they repudiated that contract. And to my own knowledge grave injury has been done to the butter trade in Ireland by the fact of contracts being dishonoured. I think the provision made by the Government in section 22, clause 3, empowering the Minister to put out of action creameries or managers who did not acknowledge their contracts is a most valuable and a most essential one.

Then section 35 deals with the national brand for butter. We all had hoped, and we still hope, that a national brand will be adopted sooner rather than later. But apparently we can have no national brand in the country until some registers of trade marks and of designs and so on have been established by the Government. I have no knowledge of the date—it may be Tibb's Eve — when the Government will make this regulation empowering the national brand to be made. Apparently until that regulation is made by the Government no national brand is possible. That is as far as I read the section dealing with the national brand.

There is one other matter to which I should like to refer, and that is Section 42, which, after a very elaborate definition of creameries and a very elaborate and careful definition of manufacturing exporters which are not creameries has been given, gives power to the Government within three years to allow manufacturing exporters to call themselves creameries. I think that particular provision is in direct violation of previous clauses in this Bill. I would direct the attention of the Minister to clause (a) of Section 16, which defines specifically what a creamery is, and also says that nothing but a creamery fulfilling certain conditions can be called a creamery. And this Section 42 empowers him, if he so desires, to allow a manufacturing exporter to call his business a creamery business.

There is one other matter to which reference might be made, and that is the question of the importation of butter. Apparently by Section 43, clause (3), as I read it, any butter which comes into Ireland, no matter what butter it may be—it may be the worst sort of factory butter—will be entitled to be called creamery butter, thereby inflicting grave injury on the consumer. I will grant that this Bill is not in the interests of the consumers, but nothing ought to be done to possibly gravely injure the consumer, and I would ask the consideration of the Minister to that particular Section 43, clause (3).

One point which I welcome with great joy in the Bill is Section 45, which Sir John Keane alluded to and which creates this particular advisory council. By a curious coincidence this Section 45 in the Bill is the same Section 45 of the Constitution, which provides for vocational councils. I do not know whether the Minister would consider this particular advisory council as a vocational council, but I think it would be well for him and for the industry for which I plead, that a really vocational council should be established for agriculture. Because, in the administration of this Bill that gives far-reaching powers to the Government, if a council is not employed in its administration which will have all the various aspects of the butter industry in its ken and which will have a voice in its administration, then I gravely fear that what Sir John Keane fears will be realised, and perhaps the administration of the Bill will prove so drastic that a number of persons will be obliged to go out of business in the butter industry, and that thereby grave injury will be caused to the community as a whole. Sir John Keane dealt very fully with this matter.

This Bill, as far as I know, received great consideration in going through the Dáil. There was a Special Committee, all the findings of which were communicated to us. And, reading through the reports of that Committee, one is compelled to acknowledge that almost every detail received very careful consideration. For that reason I shall be overjoyed in supporting the Bill, and I believe that in supporting it I am doing what is best in the interests of the creameries of the country, institutions in which I have a great interest.

Education, Sir John Keane says, is essential to the well-being of any industry. People in Ireland have been educating those connected with the creameries for twenty-five years, and yet something is lacking. I believe that something can only come by the coercion which the Minister has had the courage to adopt. And that coercion, if used in the proper spirit, will make for the advancement of the industry and create a condition of affairs in which Ireland will have the reputation for butter which it should have, and which its climate and lands entitle it to have. And then, instead of being second or third rate, Irish butter will be the highest of all the butter produced under any particular brand in the world. I have great pleasure in supporting the Bill.

I rise, as a fairly large dairy farmer, to support the principle of the Bill, subject to amendment in certain details. Like Senator Bennett, I should like to utter a word of praise of the practical steps now being taken for putting the agricultural industry on a practical basis. People object to compulsion. But I think Sir John Keane carries his criticism rather too far. In one case, he is actually in error as regards the question of the individual farmer, as to whether compulsion can be used upon him, because Section 3 (f) says:—

"Provided always that this paragraph shall not apply to premises which comply with all the following conditions, that is to say, the premises are not registered in any of the registers kept in pursuance of this Act and are situate on a farm and dairy produce is manufactured therein only from the milk of cows belonging to the occupier of the farm."

I think that answers Sir John Keane.

No. A reading of the section will show that these conditions as regards exclusion do not apply to the individual farmer.

I leave it to the Minister to say which of us is right in that. I, personally, disagree with compulsion too. But I think it has been proved that there is no other way to save the country from going down. It was by means of drastic compulsion that Denmark saved the industry.

Sir John Keane says no. But I think they are not quite so drastic as in this Bill. But in matters such as live stock they were exceedingly drastic. It was done side by side in Denmark with education, and I see no reason why in this country also, it should not be done side by side with education. The fate of so many of the cow-testing stations throughout the country shows the hopelessness of securing more than a local effect by voluntary effort. Nothing but general national co-operation in methods can possibly have any real effect in these times of mass production and national marketing. I was going to say that "Watch Denmark" is a very good watchword. Although presumably Sir John Keane will say that it is not a good way to finish up, nevertheless, I think he overstates the drastic measures that were adopted.

Notwithstanding the very severe criticism to which it has been subjected by my friend, Sir John Keane, I am inclined to think that this is, on the whole, the most practically useful measure that has come before us in this House. And I am only sorry that legislation on similar lines could not have been introduced in this country many years ago. From the figures that we see every month published by the Ministry of Finance, we are uncomfortably conscious of the adverse balance on our national trading, and unless something can be done to set that adverse balance right, the future of this country is a very unpleasant one to think about. We cannot upset that adverse balance unless the value of our exports goes up. And one of the principal of our exports is dairy produce. Now, for the last few years, the history of this dairy produce export in this country has been rather a melancholy one. A few years ago Irish butter in its nearest and most natural market, which was England, held pride of place. It took top prices with, perhaps, Danish butter and best English butter running it very close. I am sorry to say now that it has fallen at least to place number 3. Sold by the cwt. in the English market, Danish butter at present fetches about two pence a lb. more than best Irish creamery butter. Now, that is a melancholy fact. But there is another melancholy fact, and that is that in this country of our own, in our own home market, the matter is not much better. I do not know whether my fellow Senators are aware that there comes into this country now some hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of the highest class creamery butter from New Zealand and Australia.

In the winter.

In the winter. It comes here absolutely clean and beautifully packed, and it brings a price equal to the highest price of our own best creamery butter. Now that is butter that comes across from the other side of the world, and yet they are able to sell it here in the winter at a price equal to that of the best Irish butter. Now all these are facts, and something must be done if this export butter trade of this country is to be saved. And what I like about this Bill is that it faces these facts and it applies, I admit, the most drastic remedies to the disease.

What is it that has hurt our export butter trade and our home butter trade? It is this, that you cannot, day in and day out, year in and year out, be quite certain of getting it clean and properly packed and properly turned out. We are able to do it at times as well as anybody else, but, somehow or other, we do not seem to have the capacity, day in and day out, to go on and do our best all the time. What this Bill does is this: By the most drastic provisions, by inspection of the butter at its source, by inspection at the ports from which it is exported, it is going to secure that no butter will leave this country unclean or badly packed. I admit that there may be provisions in this Bill which will require amendment in this House. I myself am very doubtful about giving the Minister power to remove from the register—for it is practically a drastic power—a creamery that does not come up to the standard. In such a case, it is true, he gives an inquiry, but I think there ought to be some better form of appeal than the inquiry given by the section. That is a matter which I hope to be able to discuss to-morrow. I have not been able to provide an amendment for the moment, but I hope to do so a little later on. I heartily support this Bill.

I very much appreciate the action of the Minister in introducing this Bill, particularly as it is one of a restrictive character, one of the first of that sort that we have had the pleasure of dealing with in this House. I think it is more or less futile to depend upon education in this country to effect any improvement in the agricultural industry. I was a member of the Agricultural Commission with Sir John Keane, and nothing struck me so much during the sittings of that Commission as to find amongst the farming class such a want of knowledge of the facilities provided—and provided in some cases for the past twenty years—by the British Government in the past, and which were, to a great extent, unavailed of by the farming community.

And I think no more striking illustration of that want of interest of the farming community in educating themselves in the better carrying on of their own business can be pointed out than that contained in a return which was recently made in the other House as to the number of students attending agricultural colleges in various parts of the Saorstát. It struck me in one instance that two or three instructors and other employees were provided for every single student in some of the colleges. That may be, perhaps, exaggerating the thing a little. I have not the exact figures at the moment. But I know that there was an absolute want of support given to those colleges as regards the number of students that were attending them. For that reason, and for the reason that the farming community as a whole in this country do not seem to be able to be influenced by whatever educational facilities are provided for them, I agree with the principle of this Bill that there should be a certain amount of pressure or coercion brought to bear upon them to do the right thing.

We are all aware of the position that the butter industry of Ireland occupied in the British markets in the past. During the world war when our competitors in that market were prevented by circumstances from competing with us, quite a number of very bad butter makers in the Saorstát succeeded in geting their stuff sold at any price practically they liked to demand for it in the English market, with the result that Irish butter as a whole got discredited. I do not believe that the case is quite as bad as was stated by Senator Brown that we as a people cannot keep consistently to the one thing. I am inclined to think that we have quite a number of consistent first-class butter makers in the Saorstát. It is a minority—I hope they are a minority— of bad butter makers whose butter gets on the market as Irish butter when there is no national brand, who discredit and pull down the good name of first-class butter makers. And to protect them and to protect those who are doing their business honestly and straightforwardly, I believe that a measure such as this was necessary; and for that reason I congratulate the Minister on introducing this Bill. I agree that perhaps in minor details this Bill can be improved; and if that is possible, I believe there is the necessary ability in this House to so improve the Bill. I wish to express my appreciation of the action of the Minister in introducing it.

Sir John Keane drew a picture of an ignorant and rather enthusiastic and superficial Government, supported by a Dáil of much the same quality, perfectly certain that they could make people good and efficient by legislation, and landing themselves in a rather drastic and rather foolish Bill, which he implored this House to use their experience and wisdom in improving. That is not a correct picture from any point of view. He saved the situation to a certain extent by casually referring in the end to the Report of the Agricultural Commission, of which Sir John Keane himself was one of the most useful members. Before reading certain sections from that report I wish to say that I agree with the Senator in this, that it is rather a pity that this Bill was not introduced long ago. It is a little late. The subject was mooted first in 1909 by the then Department of Agriculture. They made two attempts to introduce a Bill not very dissimilar to this, or attempted to get various Chief Secretaries to introduce a Bill in the British House of Commons not very dissimilar to this. They always got as far as agreement. One Bill was introduced, and the other was shelved before it was introduced. Ever since 1909 the vested interests, the people engaged in the trade, realised that the butter industry was in a bad position, and was getting worse, and various efforts had been made to get a Bill introduced to deal with the situation. It is three years since the Treaty was signed, and it may be said that we delayed some time in introducing this Bill. Well, we did. But the fact of the matter is that in one sense it is a more contentious Bill than even the Land Bill, but it is not contentious, strange to say, in regard to any of the points raised by Sir John Keane. I think I am hardly overstating the case when I say that all the vested interests—the creamery managers, the farmers through their organisations, the county committees of agriculture, while suggesting, as Senator Brown and Senator Bennett suggest, that there are certain details which might be improved and changed, have not opposedin toto, or have not opposed in any radical way, any clause which Senator Sir John Keane attacks.

I do not think there is a single clause or a single point which he mentioned that has been seriously attacked by any of the agricultural organisations; and yet, this is and was, a more contentious Bill than the Land Bill. That is the reason that this Bill was not introduced up to this. We realised fully that it is not an easy or a simple matter to rush into a very important and very complex trade and control it; and we realised fully that it would be necessary to have the co-operation and the good-will of the people in the trade if we were to get all the benefits out of this Bill which we hope for. For that reason the problem was first of all put to the Agricultural Commission, which was composed of representatives of various agricultural organisations. It was afterwards put to the creamery managers; practically every interest was consulted; and we reached what was practically an agreement with practically every interest except the most important interest of the lot. I refer to the Creamery Managers' Association. There is no doubt that the Farmers' Organisation—the people who own the cows and are producing the milk and producing the butter, are a most important interest; but from the point of view of the administration of the Bill there is no doubt whatever that the Creamery Managers' Association is an extremely important organisation.

This Bill took a long time, as I think it was wise that it should take a long time, in going through the Dáil. It was referred to a Special Committee; it was examined in detail at that Special Committee; it was not rushed in any sense of the word. I had various conferences with the Creamery Managers' Association and so on, while it was going through, and nevertheless I deliberately adjourned the consideration of the Bill on the Report Stage in order to enable me to have further conferences during the Recess with the Creamery Managers' Association before the Bill would actually leave the Dáil; and I had a special conference, as I pointed out before, to ascertain the views of the Creamery Managers' Association, a very important Association from the point of view of administration. The Association rather took exception to a particular point, which I will explain in a moment. I met representatives of the Creamery Managers' Association during the Recess and before this Bill passed through the Dáil.

We examined the Bill clause by clause; and the representatives of that Association, while making it quite plain that they were still of opinion that a clause providing for grading at the ports should be added to the Bill and that it would improve the Bill in addition to the clause providing for the national brand—nevertheless they made it quite plain that as the Bill stood they would work it for all it was worth and give it their whole-hearted co-operation in order to make it a success. The point at issue was—I had better be careful in putting this—the point at issue was whether, in addition to the national brand, provision should be made for grading at the ports. It is not really an alternative between the national brand and grading at the ports, but whether, in addition to the national brand, there should be grading at the ports. I do not think I need go into the merits of that particular dispute just now. I tried to meet the creamery managers, and I think I can say justly that I met them to a very great extent by providing Clause 11. The point of the creamery managers was this: that butter is going out virtually under a Government guarantee, and that, unless every consignment of butter is examined and graded at the ports, a certain quantity of butter not fit for that guarantee and not up to the required standard will in all probability pass through and so discredit the Government guarantee entirely. My answer to that shortly is this: their own scheme provided that the butter should be examined at the ports practically within one or two days after the butter is made. The fact is that no examination of butter one or two days after it is made is any real test. Any examination that could possibly take place at the ports would be only an examination by taste, smell, and water content, texture, and a few things of that sort. No stoppage of trade between the two countries could possibly be allowed; and any exhaustive examination would cause a stoppage of trade and do more harm than good. The creamery managers put forward the point of view that it was essential to have such an examination, otherwise butter would escape which was not up to the standard. My answer to them was that any such examination as could be made would be no guarantee of what the butter would be in a fortnight afterwards. No such examination could decide what the keeping quality of the butter was, and no grader could possibly grade butter on a merely superficial examination of that sort. He could not grade the butter with the certainty that his grading would still be the grading a fortnight afterwards. On that particular point we agreed to differ. I introduced Section 11, which reads:—

SECTION 11.

"The Minister may, if and whenever he is satisfied that such order is necessary or expedient in the interests of the butter industry in Saorstát Eireann, by order (in this section referred to as an examination order) require that all or any particular class of butter proposed to be exported, or all or any butter proposed to be exported from any particular premises or class of premises, or any particular consignment of butter consigned for export, shall before the same is exported be submitted for examination by the prescribed officers with a view to determining whether such butter is suitable for export, and the Minister may by such order prohibit, either absolutely or on failure to comply with conditions, the export of any butter which on such examination is found to be unsuitable for exportation."

Now, this is not grading, but it is taking complete powers, if experience proves that it is necessary, to examine any consignment of butter at the ports and over any period. It may be useful in winter-time when our supply is very short. There may be some doubt as to whether our creameries, entitled to use the national brand, can send out butter in winter up to the standard, while there may be no doubt whatever that the butter sent out in summer is up to the standard; and it will be found necessary to make fairly frequent examination at the ports in winter. That section, so far as examination is concerned, gives us complete powers without committing us to grading. That seems to be a very simple matter, but there is a great difference between grading at the ports and trying to treat the trouble at the source, and improving methods of production. I am glad to say now that the creamery managers, while still persisting in their view, that it would have been better if the Bill provided for grading as well as examination, have met me very fairly, and have made it quite clear that, subject to that, they approve of the Bill, and are quite willing to work it in co-operation with the officials of the Department.

Has the Minister power to provide for grading at the ports if he wishes to do so?

There is no power in the Bill to grade at the ports—I am sure there is not. It amounts to grading, if you like, in a sense. Butter will be going out under the national brand, Number One; and butter will be going out fit for export, Number Two; and Number Two will be far and away for a long time the greater proportion. There will be butter sufficiently good to be permitted for export if we had such an examination by our officers at the ports, though it may not be fit for the national brand. And there will be a third quality—butter which is not fit for export. Then there will be three qualities:— No. 1, butter fit for the national brand; No. 2, butter fit for export but not for the national brand; No. 3, butter not fit for export. But in no other sense is grading provided for in the Bill. On the whole this Bill, subject to the one point I mentioned, has the approval practically of every agricultural organisation in the country and so it is not exactly such a hair-brained scheme as Senator Sir John Keane would seem to suggest.

The control provided for under this Bill is in a great many respects far less drastic than the Danish control. Under this Bill butter may go out, may leave the country under the national brand. That is the first grade if you like. But further, butter may leave the country without the national brand but under a licence to export. It is not quite correct to use the word "licence." Butter may go out under the national brand, and butter may be exported without the national brand; and for a long time the far greater quality will go out not under the national brand but simply fit for export. In Denmark, no butter can leave the country unless it has the national brand.

At what date was that prohibition established?

I could not answer that.

It was only lately that that prohibition was introduced.

Exactly our own scheme. I should like to make the point, and give reasons for it, that at present there exists in Denmark more drastic control of butter than there is in this Bill. I hope we shall reach the point when we can control butter as drastically as it is controlled in Denmark, and I hope Sir John Keane will give us credit for making provision, to start with, for less drastic control. There is this difference between our procedure and the Denmark procedure —that the Denmark scheme of control came in the first instance from the farmers' organisation. The farmers suggested it, they worked it, and the Government came in afterwards and gave legal effect to what was an accomplished fact. But I do want to make the point that Danish control is, at least, as drastic as that which we propose.

While listening to Senator Sir John Keane's words on political philosophy, I was just wondering whether he had signed the report of the Agricultural Commission, but he reminded us himself in the end that he did. I will take some samples from the report of the Agricultural Commission. Dealing with the question of the national brand, it says:—

(a) The premises must not be situated in such a position or used in such a manner as to expose the milk, butter, cream, or other dairy produce dealt with therein to contamination or effluvia from any drain, cess-pool, manure heap, cow-house, pig-sty, or other similar sources.

(b) An adequate supply of pure water must be provided.

(c) The premises, plant, machinery, and utensils must be kept in a state of cleanliness suitable to the requirements of the business.

(d) Proper care must be taken by the proprietors and staff to secure that the milk, cream or other dairy products dealt with on the premises be supplied in a clean condition and in clean vessels.

(e) Standard packages, only, are to be used.

(f) The manager, assistant, butter-maker, and milk-tester must have certificates of competency from the Minister of Agriculture (this condition shall not apply to existing managers, etc., but shall gradually come into operation as new appointments are made).

(g) The premises must be equipped with efficient plant and machinery, which should include at least the following:—

A high or low-pressure boiler to generate steam for sufficiently heating—

1. the milk received at the premises;

2. the water for cleaning purposes;

3. and scalding pipes, machines and utensils.

Efficient heating appliances, including a cream pasteuriser.

Efficient cooling appliances.

Efficient refrigerating plant and cooling room."

What page is the Minister quoting from?

I have it in a separate document. It is the Interim Report (reads):—

"(h) All cream before being made into butter must be pasteurised."

We have done that:—

(5) In order to ensure that the brand shall not be abused, and that the reputation of the Irish Creamery Butter shall not consequently suffer, the Ministry of Agriculture shall be invested with fullest powers of taking samples of all butter bearing the government brand, for the purpose of testing its quality. Such examinations may be made, and samples may be taken at all stages, from its manufacture until its delivery to the retailer, and either in Ireland or elsewhere. In the initial stages of the scheme special facilities for inspection should be provided at a limited number of Ports and Frontier Stations, for inspecting and testing as large a number of consignments as is found practicable.

That was the only point in the Report which Sir John Keane disagreed with.

All those conditions apply to creameries using the government brand.

Of course, Sir John Keane will have to remember that either we must give the government brand to a very large number of creameries exporting a very large amount of butter, or confine it in the beginning to very special creameries and work up to the others. We have decided that the latter is the proper course. We are not going to risk the national brand until we are satisfied that the creamery is going to live up to it. We must give the national brand only to first class creameries at first, and develop the other creameries up to their standard. Every one of those regulations appliesmutatis mutandis to the creameries to which we are not giving the national brand and in fact applies to them with greater force. We will go on:—

(8) We consider that the administration of the scheme should be strictly controlled by the Ministry of Agriculture acting as occasion requires in consultation with representatives of the interests affected.

(9) In addition to our recommendations regarding the Government brand, we are of opinion that the Government should have the following powers regarding the dairy industry in general:—

(a) To enter and inspect all premises where milk, or its products or by-products are received for manufacture into articles of food for human consumption.

The words are "all premises." We hesitated to go as far as that. We drew a line in the Bill, and we certainly would not attempt to put in that in all its nakedness and ask the Dáil and the Seanad to give it legislative effect. We confine the Regulation to premises where dairy produce is being manufactured for sale:—

(b) To examine and sample all substances found in such places.

(c) To sample all dairy produce in transit.

(d) To enter into and take samples in all places where dairy produce is stored or held, such as cold stores, transit sheds, railway stores, wholesale merchants' stores and retailers' stores.

(e) To prohibit a creamery having any butter other than creamery butter, or any margarine or edible fats or oils other than butter fat, on the premises.

(f) To prohibit the despatch from a butter factory of any butter branded as "creamery" or with the word "creamery" as part of any brand thereon.

(g) To make definitions and regulations for the proper branding of dairy produce.

(h) To require all creameries and separating stations to pasteurise all milk.

We hesitated to go that far. We have taken power, if we wish, to compel all creameries to pasteurise their milk, but we certainly at least leave ourselves discretion. We can consider that matter, and if experience proves it to be necessary we will do it—we will compel pasteurisation in the case of any creamery that has the national brand. But Sir John Keane goes further:—

"To require all creameries and separating stations to pasteurise all milk, cream-separated milk, and whey, the object being to prevent the spread of disease amongst human beings, cattle and other live stock."

I think that is a most important suggestion, and it will have to be carried out. But we do not go that distance yet in this Bill owing to the practical difficulties:—

"(i) To prosecute cow-keepers and vendors of milk in respect of the presence of dirt in milk, cream, or butter, etc., and in respect of dirty utensils.

"(j) To prosecute owners of creameries, factories, etc., for purchasing such milk, cream, or butter.

"(k) To prosecute owners of creameries, factories, etc., and cow-keepers, or vendors of milk in respect of dirty utensils."

I am reading these merely to show that really the legislation proposed in this Bill is not hare-brained legislation of the sort that Senator Sir John Keane suggested it was. In some respects it falls slightly short of the Report signed by Sir John Keane himself, and in other respects I agree that it goes somewhat further. But these are only differences of detail which can be, and will be discussed in Committee. But certainly the Bill is not more drastic than the Bill recommended by the Commission of which Sir John Keane was a member, and recommended in this Report which he signed.

It is not the first Bill of its kind in this country. The Dairies, Cowsheds, and Milkshops (Ireland) Order is still in existence and will remain in existence, because it deals with persons who sell milk, and this Bill deals with persons who sell butter. The Dairies, Cowsheds and Milkshops Order was passed by the British Parliament, whose conservatism and prudence is beyond question; and this Order, passed by the British Parliament, contains far more drastic provisions and regulations than this Bill. The Order deals with persons who sell milk. We are leaving this Order in existence. It is made under one of the Public Health Acts. It lays down the specific and detailed conditions that must be complied with.

What is the date?

The date is 1908. It is extremely difficult to administer, because it is obviously much harder to administer the Regulations in connection with every cowshed in every part of Ireland. The Order lays down specific and detailed conditions that must be complied with as respects (a) the ventilation, lighting, cubic air space, cleansing, drainage, water supply and construction of cowsheds and dairies; (b) the cleanliness of milk-stores, milk-shops and milk vessels; and (c) the precautions to be taken for protecting milk against infection or contamination.

As regards cowsheds, the Order regulates the number, size and position of the apertures that must be provided for ventilation, the cubic air-space that must be provided, the materials used in the construction of the walls and floor and the system of drainage. It requires cowsheds to be cleaned out at least once a day, the interior of the roofs and walls lime-washed at least once a year, and the water supply to be suitable and sufficient and protected from pollution.

Similarly, as regards dairies, specific requirements are laid down as to lighting, ventilation, cleansing (the floors must be thoroughly cleansed with water at least once a day), drainage and water supply. Milk vessels must be cleansed with steam or clean boiling water after use. Milk must not be kept in any room where it would be liable to infection or contamination by impure air or any effluvium, or in any living room, and must not be kept for sale in any utensil that is not thoroughly clean. It provides, in fact, for structural alterations. Here is an Order made under an Act passed by the British Parliament in 1907, and that Order is far more drastic than any powers which we have taken in this particular Bill. This Order deals with people who sell milk; we are concerned with people who sell butter. That is the only distinction.

I will try and deal with the specific points raised. I have notes of them. As regards structural alterations, Sir John Keane, I think, made it clear that he was criticising our right to make structural alterations in private dairies. In that connection you have to remember that probably very nearly half the butter made in this country is made in butter factories. That is a striking figure, but that is so. And certainly I would be approximately correct if I said that, taking the butter made in creameries and in butter factories, the latter is half the whole.

A butter factory is not the same as a private dairy. You do not interfere with a private dairy.

I am coming to that. Very nearly half the butter made is blended and made in the butter factories, and the butter made and blended in the butter factories comes from farmers all over the country. It is blended in the factory.

Have you a right to interfere with my private dairy, where I make butter for my own consumption?

No. If you are selling milk as the law stands at present we can. If you are selling butter we take less drastic powers than the powers taken under the Order made under the Public Health Act. But in any event most of this butter blended in factories comes from farmers' houses; and if we approve of the blended butter made in the butter factories, having regard to the amount exported, then we must take this control at the source; and we cannot allow butter to be made in a shack without a roof on it, and we cannot allow butter to be made in a dirty place where there is a rain-down. There is no question of a pipe supply of water. You cannot make good butter without good water; and all we do say is what is said in this Order, that there must be a supply of good and wholesome water. I took the words from the other Order. We do provide for plant in a butter factory. I agree that it is not mentioned in the Interim Report of the Agricultural Commission. But what is the difference in principle? Our requirements are less drastic in regard to a butter factory. When you remember that half our butter is made in factories, then there is a strong case of prescribing certain minimum requirements for plant and machinery. You must have similar powers in regard to the butter factory; and I have not heard that the owners of factories object to that themselves.

There is some objection to registration, but I confess I could not catch the point of it. We have to register if we are to administer the Act at all. It is obvious.

I did not intend to object to registration per se. What I objected to were the conditions attached to registration—certain conditions, by no means all of them.

That is probably a point we can investigate in Committee. With regard to cancellation, may I say this: it is apparent that we cannot give the national brand to start with to all creameries. It is admitted that there is a certain amount of butter leaving this country—a small amount—which should not be allowed to be exported. Very well. We register a creamery or a butter factory and empower it to export, and we find that it is exporting a bad class of butter. How can we stop it except by cancellation? We cancel the right to export. But we must, if we are to get rid of this scandal of butter leaving the country which is only fit for cart grease. It is only a very small proportion; but if we are to keep that out of the market we certainly must have power to cancel registration and the right to export. The position in Denmark is that no butter can be exported except with the Lur brand, and butter which is not up to that standard cannot be exported at all.

It will surprise me if there is a provision in the Bill to forbid other marks except the marks prescribed. Again, we can discuss that in Committee. But I do not think it is as is suggested. I was going to suggest that we should have some power, and I was going to have an amendment drafted to that effect. Under the Merchandise Marks Act a false trade description can be dealt with.

Section 19 (d) says:—

"All butter packed on the premises shall be packed only in such manner and in such packages or wrappers as shall be prescribed by regulations made under this Act."

It says "only."

That is a nice question in law. I doubt that that would prevent a man putting up "Ida Creamery," or any legend of that sort. In fact, I do not think that a lawyer would hold that that particular section which the Senator quotes would prevent him. It was never intended to prevent a creamery putting up anything like that in fact. That is a question of law which we can discuss.

There is a point raised about the section dealing with contracts. It does look a little extraordinary to find it in an Act of Parliament. I am referring to the clause which provides that the Minister may cancel a licence for registration in the event of the persistent breaking of contracts. I should like to hear that discussed on its merits. I agree that it is rather a doubtful provision. But the fact is that this is a scandal at the present moment, and is doing the greatest injury to Irish butter interests. I refer to this habit of making a contract on a rising market, and then holding the butter. And while I do admit that it is a rather doubtful principle, I think that the interests concerned would themselves like to see that particular clause retained in the Bill.

The Minister need not be afraid of providing a precedent. It is already established in the Egg Bill.

I am not so sure that it is. It is a matter that I should like to hear discussed. As regards registration, the only documentary evidence that we require is a register showing the amount of the consignment and the name of the consignee; and that is essential if we are to administer the Bill. We have tried to make it as clear as we could that no inspector has a right to investigate any other books or for any other purpose than finding out and getting particulars of the consignment and the name of the consignee. He has the right to ask for the invoice in connection with the consignment. There is no intention and no necessity of revealing the price, or anything else like that. He has to get the amount of the consignment and the name of the consignee, and that is essential if we are to administer the Bill. I should be glad to be shown how we can administer the Bill without that information.

With regard to the consultative council, I think that the interests concerned are fairly satisfied with the proposal contained in that particular section; and I have discussed it in detail with them. I want to make it quite clear that this council—I do not know whether you ought to call it a vocational council; I do not know the distinction between vocational and consultative— I want to make it quite clear that the council provided in this Bill is only an advisory council; it cannot have any administrative functions. The Department of Agriculture will have to administer the Bill and take full responsibility for the results of that Bill. The Minister for Agriculture, whoever he may be, will be responsible to the Dáil and nobody else, and he must take all the consequences of the results, be they good or bad, of this particular Act. We cannot, therefore, allow any outside body to compel the Minister or the Department to any line of action which the Minister might think unwise or which the Department might think unwise. We have inserted a provision in the Bill for a consultative council, and we have provided that it shall meet when desired and that the members of the council shall remain in office for two years, and so on. Now it is the intention to try and form as good a council as can possibly be got together. We realise fully that the co-operation of the trade is absolutely essential, and that the best way of getting the co-operation of the trade is to have the best men in the trade in this council, and to discuss with them all the difficulties and all the important issues. If there is full and adequate discussion in this council, well then, even if we agree to differ, we will have got a good way forward.

There is no intention of providing for this council, and then merely making it a sort of camouflage body, and not calling it together at all. That would be quite impossible. And if that happened, the Dáil is there. Any member of the Dáil can ask a question on the matter, raise the question, and discuss it. If, on the other hand, any important issue has been discussed, and the Minister refuses to agree with the council, he must defend his attitude in the Dáil, and must show where he is right and they are wrong. His attitude can be challenged at any time in the Dáil and the Seanad and can be discussed; and, surely, it is obvious that that is a sufficient safeguard and will ensure that no Minister or Department will lightly turn down the advice of such a council, and it is equally obvious that no Minister or Department responsible for the administration of this Act could allow its success to be risked by the absolute decision of a council non-representative and not responsible to anybody. It would make the position quite impossible.

It is realised that everything depends on the men engaged in the butter making—on the creamery managers, and that any amount of regulation will be useless unless you have efficient men who know their business. And it is the intention, as far as possible, to see to it that the creamery managers have a certain standard of technical education and have evidence in the way of certificates of such a standard. In the beginning, we have first-class creamery managers for various creameries who have not such certificates, who have not degrees or qualifications, but who have experience and who are past masters in butter-making. And that is the reason why we do not insist upon documentary evidence. It is not to give the Department an opportunity of foisting some of their own friends into these positions or anything like that. You could not possibly make regulations under which every creamery manager or butter maker should have a certificate. We have schools for the education of both, and, at any rate, we have creamery managers and butter makers in existence who are first-class men than whom you could not have better, but who had not got these certificates.

It is the intention to bring the first part of the Act into operation as soon as possible—the part dealing with conditions of cleanliness and order. In fact the moment the Act is passed, inspection should start. Part I provides for inspection; and I am hoping that during 1925, surprise inspections for the national brand will take place. It is obvious that Part I. of the Act should be put into operation very shortly after the Act has passed. To do that we should have to have two or three creamery inspectors for the purposes of the first part of the Act, and this inspection could start the moment Section 5 of the Act was put into operation. The appointed day should be made shortly after the Act passed. Only experience will show how soon we can put the other parts of the Act into operation.

The Act will cost about £25,000 a year — old staff and new staff. That would be the total cost. And a maximum fee, if it is decided that the maximum fee should be 4d. per cwt. would bring in, I should say, about £12,000 a year, a little less than half. I think these are the various specific points raised in the discussion.

Could the Minister give us the figures of the value of the exports of butter? Because it would be interesting to know what percentage of the value of the butter exported the cost of the administration of the Act would be.

Taking averages, the average figure would be £7,000,000 worth of butter per annum. This Bill, in a way, is a counterpart of the Live Stock Bill. If you have any doubt as to the necessity for the Bill, as to whether there is or is not a problem for solution, I will read the first clause of the Agricultural Commission's report:

"The evidence we have heard with regard to the condition of the Irish butter trade in Great Britain points to the existence of an extremely unsatisfactory state of affairs, and is such that, unless it is radically amended and improved, the whole future of the Irish dairy industry is threatened. It is the extreme urgency, as well as the gravity of the situation, that has led us to lay aside all other problems which it is our duty to discuss in order that we might make immediate recommendations with regard to this matter."

When I said £7,000,000, that would certainly be an all-Ireland figure. But the Northern portion of it is not more than one-eighth. Further, in that figure would be included factory butter, all butter. However, you cannot measure the importance of the butter industry by that figure alone. We export £15,000,000 worth of live stock, and about £8,000,000 worth of pigs and bacon. These, again, are all-Ireland figures, but it is impossible to divide them, because some of the cattle taken from the Saorstát go from the Belfast Port, and it is not worth making the distinction. That is £30,000,000 out of a total agricultural export of about £50,000,000. The cattle industry is directly dependent on the dairy industry, and so is the bacon and pig industry. In fact, the dairy industry is the foundation of Irish agriculture; and if the dairy industry is unhealthy the rest will be unhealthy. This Bill is an attempt to standardise the production of butter, to improve the technical competence of the people making the butter. I fully realise that it is only dealing with one very limited side of the problem. The Livestock Bill holds even a more important place. That Bill endeavours by selection and improvement to increase the records of the milk of our cows as well as to improve their quality from the beef-producing point of view. And I do hope that there will be far greater results from the Livestock Bill from selection and breeding than even from this Bill. But both are necessary, and both fit into one another.

The Danes export nearly three times as much from their little country as we do from ours; and our exports are getting smaller and smaller. We are in a very unsatisfactory condition; and it is undoubtedly the fact that we are being slowly driven from the English market, and that that process will continue unless we take these drastic steps. While I say that, it is equally the fact that some of the very best butter on the English market is Irish butter. But it is only a small proportion of the total export of Irish butter, and naturally a very much smaller proportion of the total butter in the English market. You have some of our good creameries producing butter better than the Danish butter; we are two days nearer to the market; we have far better land; and yet the Danes are beating us out of the market. The trouble is that there is such a large proportion of butter which is not up to the standard, and that is giving a bad name to the whole. Senator Brown hit the nail on the head when he said that the English purchaser does not want good butter to-day, very good butter to-morrow, and bad butter the day after. That was the idea. He wants a consistent article; he wants to know what it is; he wants to be quite sure whether he is getting it; he does not want choice butter; he wants to get a standard article, and to get it always, and get it consistently. That is where we fail. We do not put the last touches. That makes all the difference. We have not the finish. There is only a very small difference in price and in profit between ourselves and the Danes—there are only small profits in any branch of agriculture—but it is the small difference that makes all the difference. We want a little more finish and a little more consistency, and then our butter will compete with any butter made anywhere. But, of course, there is the other side. Our cows yield 400 gallons of milk, while the cows of the Danes yield about 600 gallons. That, of course, is what, in my opinion, makes the big difference. That is the reason why we have no winter dairying. That represents £80 a year to a farmer who has twelve cows.

If we increase the average milk yield of our cows from 400 to 600 gallons it would mean an actual increase at the creamery price for butter of about £7,000,000 per annum. In other words, it would mean an increase which is practically the same as our total export of butter at the moment. All sorts of benevolent people point out how much more you could increase the figure. These figures are really conservative figures, and they are figures which any farmer will agree are easily possible. You have to consider along with that just this fact, what just a little more efficient and scientific feeding would mean in nett profit as the result of the extra milk yield. The overhead expenses in connection with the cow producing 600 gallons of milk as the result of a little more scientific feeding would be no more than the overhead expenses in connection with our cows at present producing 400 gallons. And I have no doubt that you could increase the export of butter as a result of this extra yield to between 70 and 80 per cent. without increasing the overhead expenses, on the lines of the Livestock Bill, and by increasing the technical competence of the butter maker and improving the quality of the butter on the lines of this Bill.

We cannot afford to wait until education brings about these results. We have been waiting too long. Education should go side by side with these measures; but we simply cannot afford to wait. We must take these powers and endeavour to use them. They are not more drastic than powers taken previously in connection with less important matters. We have tried to safeguard ourselves in view of the drastic nature of these powers by consulting all the farmers' organisations, hearing anything they had to say, and, as far as we could, meeting them; and we propose to safeguard ourselves in the future in regard to the administration of the Bill by setting up as efficient and representative a consultative council as we can possibly get together.

I have no complaint to make as to the manner in which the Minister has treated my criticism except on two points. I do not think he quite fairly represented, though unintentionally the effect of the argument I tried to make. With regard to Danish control, I admit that at present Danish control of export is far more drastic than that proposed in this Bill. But there is a difference between the control of export and the control and the regulation in the premises. What I was dealing with was the drastic power of control in the premises. It is only within comparatively recent years that Denmark was in a position to confine her exports to the Lur brand. Previous to that, I think I am right in saying, all butter was allowed out without restriction. In no case in Denmark has that power of cancellation and of closing down for breach of contract ever been enforced.

I am quite aware that the powers under the Dairies and Cowsheds Order are pretty drastic. And I ask the House to realise that they have never been enforced, and for the good reason that they were unenforceable under the conditions of the country. Under the present Bill the Minister will find that in practice these powers of closing up premises and interfering with trade are unenforceable. It takes little interference to drive a small farmer out of the trade which he does not at present find lucrative. Of course, the Minister points to the necessity of the case. I agree. And the only point on which I disagree with the Minister and with the House is as to the efficacy of these powers. I am disheartened to find such heterodox views on this subject of political action—this extraordinary and recently acquired love of coercion and this interference with individual liberty. As long as it works, well and good. Time will tell.

Question put and agreed to.
The Seanad adjourned at 5.10 p.m. until 3 p.m., Thursday, 20th November, 1924.