Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 24 Jul 1928

Vol. 10 No. 27


Question proposed: "That the Creamery Bill, 1928, be read a Second Time."

They say that the specific against old age is to keep in touch with youth, and I spent some hours of last Sunday in that very interesting occupation, not physically, but in touch with the mind of youth, and I made—I confess that it was no easy task—a close examination of this Bill. This is not a Bill that I for a moment imagine the House would refuse to read a second time, but it is a Bill which contains so many features of what I might call the new economics that it requires very careful study, not merely for what principles it contains itself, but for the tendencies it embodies for the future.

I think the best way to put the case before this House would be to examine the Bill itself first, and then from that examination to draw certain conclusions. This Bill is dealing mainly with the position created by the purchase, financed by the Government and administered by a holding company, of certain proprietary creameries—I think the number is about 113. In the course of the carrying out of that process a certain number of these creameries are deemed to be redundant. Of course, that word "redundant" opens a very interesting vista of thought, because redundancy is, of course, only a matter of opinion. I might agree that in any given case a majority of well-informed people, who apply the modern test of efficient management, agree as to what redundancy involves.

But the mere word itself is dangerous, because, of course, it involves, especially as we see it to-day in this Bill, the elimination of private enterprise. It means that there has to be somebody with power to say what redundancy is and to act accordingly, and, of course, if you apply the principle of redundancy to all enterprises you will be led into a very complex line of thought and action. Apply it, for instance, to the buses we see plying on the roads near the city and you would be faced with the question of some authority to regulate them, and on that I feel it my duty to say that there are certain dangers implicit. Then, following on the decision of redundancy, there is a certain trade, what is called good-will, of these redundant creameries which is in the air. The customers are unattached.

This Bill proposes to attach these customers to certain other concerns under a liability. I do not say that that feature is not right, because in these new tendencies of nationalisation I believe nobody is entitled to say that a thing is right or wrong; it is entirely a matter of opinion, but I think it is a matter that the House should have before it in coming to a conclusion. The ordinary trading principles of good-will no longer apply, because if you buy a business you do not buy the trade plus the customers. These customers are free to go where they like. There is no liability attached to the party who gets their trade, but, of course, in these cases if these suppliers go to another creamery they put their creamery under a liability on account of the new trade they bring. So far as the other creamery is concerned, possibly the House will say that there is no objection, because the deliberate policy, which I think this House has endorsed on more than one occasion, is to control closely by the State the whole of the co-operative movement. But this is a step further. I wish to point out that that liability is not placed merely on a creamery, but it is placed on any private person who happens to get that trade.

For instance, supposing I was a private milk-supplier, and some person came to me and said: "Look here, they have closed the creamery near by and I want to give you my trade." I have, then, if I take that trade, assumed a liability with the holding company of £1 for every peak gallon of milk I get. In the case of the creamery that liability can be passed on, because through the inability to take milk in this creamery the creamery is in a position to put pressure on that individual. But a private person cannot, as far as I see, pass on that liability.

Surely he can, at the price of the milk. Is not that the whole point?

I do not see how the private milk vendor can pass on that liability in the same way, at any rate, as a creamery. A creamery is empowered to say "You must take shares, and if you do not take shares I will stop your supply or refuse to take it. In fact, I am bound to do so." Perhaps the Minister will tell us how much liability will be passed on. I can see how the liability could be placed on the vendor, but I cannot see how the liability could be passed on to the supplier. There are certain points, and I expect they can be dealt with, that puzzle me. It appears to me, knowing something about the history of these creameries, that certain of the redundant suppliers may be already shareholders of the new creameries to which their trade has been given. In the past farmers were part-proprietors of the creameries, and I feel certain that the new milk-suppliers are already shareholders in the creameries in which they are now going to be under a new liability. If that is so, I cannot see that it is equitable. Credit should be given them for any old or previous shareholding of which they might be possessed. By this new arrangement two categories of shareholders in creameries are set up; that is to say, the old shareholders whose holdings may be largely unpaid, perhaps a shilling or five shillings paid on each pound share, and you will bring in through this new liability to these suppliers a new category of shareholders who will have to take fully-paid shares, but, of course, will pay for them by instalments. I would like to know whether these new shareholders are going to be legally on a parity with the old shareholders. I know that allied to this question, the question of the old shareholders' liability in holdings, arises. I understand it is the intention of the Minister to bring in a larger Bill dealing with certain general principles, whereby the original shareholders are going to be made to take shares on the same basis as the new shareholders, that is, on the basis of £3 per cow. Although that does not arise specifically to-day, I think the argument is incidental to this Bill and may be stated now. I would suggest to the Minister that that intention will not in all cases be equitable. I think it will be right and proper where the creamery is under a liability perhaps to a bank secured by guarantors. There it is only right and proper that share capital should be raised from the suppliers to pay off the liability and discharge the guarantors. But all creameries are not in that position. I know, and the Minister knows better than I do, certain creameries which are in an exceedingly prosperous condition, which owe nothing to their banks, have got big reserve funds, and are fully solvent. I cannot see any necessity in these cases for placing a liability of £3 per cow in the form of shares on the old shareholders. If that is the case, I see a difficulty in having two types of shareholders on the books of such creameries, one of them original shareholders on whom it would not be equitable to place any fresh shareholding burden, and the other these new shareholders that have been brought in at a fixed rate of £3 a cow, on account of the redundancy of the creameries.

I would also suggest to the Minister that the basis of cow shares which is implicit in this Bill will not in all cases be equitable. The intention is— and I take it that will be done, but not done easily—to separate into a group the suppliers that become redundant owing to the closing of these creameries and to say to them: "For every cow you have got you must take shares to the extent of £3 in the new concern which is going to take your milk." That is all right so far, provided that the whole output of the cows was going to that concern. But that is not by any means always the case, I suggest. I know that I myself am personally not in a redundant area, but I am in this position, that I only send the surplus milk to the creamery. I keep so many cows, the whole of whose output in the winter time is sold in the form of whole milk, and in the summer I send the surplus to my creamery. It would be obviously unfair in a case like mine to place a liability of £3 for every cow on me, whereas in practice probably only one-fourth of the cows, on an average, are supplying milk to that creamery. That is a question that does not appear to be dealt with. I know there is discretionary power in officials in the Department to modify that, but it would appear that to establish that as a principle is not altogether an adequate protection. Another question arises in regard to the assets of these redundant creameries. I may be wrong, as the point is not very clear, but I gather from the debates in the Dáil that the assets of the redundant creameries which are, perhaps more or less, in the nature of scrap, are to be taken into account or transferred to whoever purchases or gets the business of these redundant creameries.

Well, I understood that they were to be taken into account.

Yes, they are taken into account. All you sell is the milk.

If they are taken into account, why is the rate of a new shareholder similar in all cases? Surely £3 a cow would not be equitable in all cases. It should vary according to the amount of assets brought in. Then there is the question of the peak day. These new suppliers, coming in as a result of redundancy, bring in so much milk, and on the basis of that milk the new concern undertakes liability to the holding company, and it is calculated at the rate of £1 per gallon on the peak day. I do not say that that is right or wrong. There is a danger lurking in the words "peak day," as the peak day might be a day after that on which the creamery is closed. Most of the creameries do not open on Sundays. If, for instance, you take Monday the lawyers might say that is the peak day. There things will have to go to the Courts, and according to the lawyers it will be said that peak day is the day of highest quantity. I think it would be fair to take one-seventh of the milk supply sent in on seven consecutive days—say, the average of a peak week. This question was brought up in the Dáil, and the Minister said that a person would not be so stupid as to take the peak day as that following a day on which the creamery was not open. A Judge, however, may take it as the day following the day on which no supply was received. These things get into the hands of lawyers, and we know that in all countries you have to have fresh legislation to stop the leaks.

Another question is that concerning the sale of shares. I do not know whether that point is incidental to this Bill as to the general question of co-operation. I agree that it is right that in any co-operative concern every supplier should have a shareholding. I think that that shareholding should be transferable in the event of that supplier going out of that particular business. If, for instance, a farmer with sixty cows, and with, say, sixty shares, goes out of business, I do not think it is fair that a new supplier should take new shares at the rate of £3 per cow if he can purchase shares or get them transferred from someone else. That, possibly, is an idle apprehension, but it would not be fair to insist on everyone coming along to take fresh capital. If you could get shares from anybody else you should have a right to become a supplier. I notice two things about the agreement. One is that it is retrospective. It may be all right, but I see that these agreements will legalise all breaches, if any, of the provisions of the Industrial Provident Societies Acts, and will further legalise all breaches of the rules of a society. That is a dangerous doctrine. I am afraid that it is inevitably bound up when you get all the rigidity of regulations in a system of close State control. I view all these measures involving detailed regulations with suspicion. I cannot say that they are wrong because, after all, they are the fashion, and anything that is the fashion has, I suppose, some justification to be right, but we here have a right to examine such things critically. It is not in the early stages that their danger becomes obvious. It is later on, and then it may be too late. I notice that the agreement is retrospective and legalises possible breaches of the law. I also notice that it is made in the name of the Committee of Management. Perhaps that covers my previous point that to do so is a breach of the Society's rules, that the agreements have been made without the consent of the general body of shareholders. I have no inside information. I am following the light of my intelligence in this matter. The general body of shareholders should approve of agreements which involve far-reaching implications.

I notice that there is no appeal to anybody in the whole of the provisions of this measure. It rests practically with the Department to say "Yea" or "Nay" as regards certain questions. A number of points as between the customer and the supplier, between the farmer and the society, and between the society and the holding company will arise where certain exceptions provided for in the Bill are involved and there is no appeal whatever. I suggest that that is a step further than that taken in almost all the previous Acts in which there has usually been some third party to whom the disputants could go. In the Licensing of Bulls Act there is, for instance, an appeal to an umpire. I notice further that the Minister can make all regulations with out laying them before either House of the Oireachtas. There is another matter which I think will become increasingly difficult, namely, the right to deduct from the milk cheque. This is the first time that I have seen that in any Act of Parliament. Here we see the right of a society to deduct from the milk cheque any legal claims it may have against its customers. That involves a very big question which I press seriously on the attention of this House. It will have repercussions upon other creditors. It is like some of the points which arose out of the old Truck Acts when it became illegal for an employer to deduct from the wages of his employees. The tendency nowadays is, and rightly so, to become more and more co-operative and for these societies to do more and more general business, not only in milk but in farming requirements. I also see an announcement from the Chairman of the Agricultural Credit Corporation that a certain amount of the work of collecting instalments for that Corporation will be done through the creameries. If you are going to extend very much the orbit of these creameries and give them the right to deduct from the milk cheque——

Have they not that right already?

They have. I am not saying whether it is right or wrong, but it is a matter for the House to consider. I did not know that they had the legal right to set off for all debts. When you tack on to that ancillary services like these, in addition to services for the Credit Corporation, it becomes wider and has to be watched. I make these points because they are all connected with new tendencies in legislation. We have to be vigilant about them and make certain that if we have to enforce them we will not some day be sorry.

There is this further question of the licensing of new creameries. Probably it may be said that it is a natural consequence of the whole of recent legislation. Once the State begins to get hold of any business it has to go on. That is why a lot of us are not enamoured of State control. Some call it socialism; some call it nationalisation. The Minister himself calls it nationalisation, and I think he is right. You have the position where the State in its wisdom has decreed what proportion of creameries shall exist. They have a hold on the whole concern, partly financially, through credits, and partly through their ability to refuse to take milk from any defaulting farmer. Supposing, and I think it is a perfectly fair supposition, a group of farmers are not satisfied with the management of the creamery. If they are unreasonable people, and there are many such people, they can say, "We are a substantial body and we ought to start our own creamery." I think it is perfectly clear that they cannot do so. That is a thing I do not like.

I should like the Minister to tell us something about the case that has already arisen. I have seen only one side of the case in the papers. I see that there is a howl from some creamery in Tipperary. It has procured some capital and it has been called a German creamery. I do not know if it has any connection with the Shannon Scheme, but it has secured some capital and has actually undertaken some outlay. I have only got the information that you have all got in the Press, but apparently it has done this against the advice, or in opposition to, the wishes of the Department of Agriculture. By this Bill this enterprise is going to be extinguished, presumably without any compensation. That is where you get into the difficulties arising out of the trammels of State control. The Minister has called me a laissez faire doctrinaire.

I said that you were not.

I am not; it is a question of degree. It is far easier to regulate yourself on the basis of private enterprise than it is to adapt yourself or to draw back when you are on the basis of State control and when you are bound up in the meshes of legislative machinery. I do not know whether there is any other case. I know that the Bill with regard to the licensing of new creameries is retrospective to the 1st January. I think that is a feature in which great dangers are implicit. That is putting control of the matter entirely into the hands of officials. We have had a very solemn warning—rightly or wrongly I do not know—on that tendency from no less a distinguished person than Lord Hewart himself, the Lord Chief Justice of the English Bench. As regards the general aspect of the Bill, it is a distinct step forward, although it is rather involved, along the road towards nationalisation. It has features of extreme rigidity which are all right as long as the dairy industry is prosperous. You may say that it is a purely fantastic thing to say that dairying does not pay, but one can never tell. Many years ago people in England used to say that coal was as good as gold, but things have turned out in this way, that when you are glued into a State machine, the taxpayer is more involved. You are much more tied, and you cannot adapt yourself readily to economic changes. Do not take it that I am dealing with this in any partisan spirit. I am trying to deal with it in a fair spirit of criticism, and I think it is the duty of the House to do so. If you take the income tax analogy, where you get the Acts more complicated, you have to go more and more to the courts to get interpretations of these Acts. I feel that this and other Acts will be more and more against the question of legal interpretations, but it is inevitable when you regulate an industry by law.

There is one final question, the question of economic boycott. I must say that I do not like it, but as long as it is effective one cannot complain. I remember an old cousin of mine, who is a great old die-hard, saying that nothing would bring him back to Ireland except martial law and 80,000 troops. He did not come back. I feel that if I went out with a sergeant-major and a bugle I could get the farmers up at dawn and regulate the whole thing. I could get an enormous improvement in our economic conditions. That involves power, but whether it is altogether durable or a really basic process I have my doubts. You have got an equivalent to martial law in the economic boycott. You have got the dairy industry so ringed up that you can bring any farmer to heel by saying: "We will not take your milk."

The Minister said that dairying is the foundation of the whole livestock industry. Nobody denies that, but there is the point: what does it cost the farmer to produce his milk as an economic proposition. I do not say that is the whole point, but it is general. The farmer has no knowledge of that. He has drifted into it, and his intuition is probably right. He has got into this dairy business; he sees the cash coming in, and he goes on with it, but I think it is a duty on the State to instruct him on the economic side. That involves the question of costings. I know the Ministry at one time had costing machinery. It was organised during the war, and they got out some very interesting figures. During some of our pleasant encounters I asked the Minister if that was being continued, and I think he said it was. Whatever the facts are, I think it is necessary for the State—and they are really the people who can do it, though in Denmark it is done by the farmers voluntarily—and it is the duty of the Minister to study the economics of milk production, because so far as it has been done in England the figures are astounding. The cost of milk production there, built up on farming records—I admit under somewhat different conditions—gives some startling figures—well over 1/- per gallon during the winter. And if the country is going by all the concomitants of this legislation to have dairying practically nationalised, I think steps should be taken to find out the cost and to be sure to that extent that dairying is going to be an economic proposition.

I agree with Senator Sir John Keane that the Bill, on the whole, is a good Bill and that it ought to get a Second Reading. I also agree with him that there is a good deal in the Bill that is rather obscure. I am interested myself, to a certain extent, in one particular class of creamery to which he did not refer very extensively. Creameries are divided into two classes. You have those which are redundant and nonpaying, and I think that the manner of dealing with them is very simple. But there is also another class, because here and there through Ireland there have been creameries built up by private enterprise which have been a very great success. I have in mind the creamery in Killeshandra built up by private enterprise, which succeeded in doing a very profitable business all over Great Britain and Scotland. I ask the Minister, when he replies, to say what will be the position of creameries such as that —which have been prosperous and dividend-earning and good going concerns. Would they be compelled to go into the general concern, or would they be able to continue as private enterprises?

Killeshandra is a co-operative creamery.

It is a co-operative creamery to a large extent. Is it to be automatically brought in?

It would not be interfered with at all.

It was put up to me the other day by some people interested in the general co-operative system that such a creamery as that, if left outside, might be, in the future, brought into competition as a going concern when you have your creamery societies formed and the redundant creameries brought into one institution. You would still have small prosperous concerns outside doing business on their own, and they might be brought into competition with the best of the other creameries. I do not know if I have made myself clear.

The Senator is referring to the butter marketing combines.

I have nothing to do with that, because it is a matter that the farmers have built up for themselves; it is a matter entirely for the farmers.

Have they not been told that they would not be able to compete in future unless they come into the combine?

I will deal with that point.

I want to make that clear; there is some uncertainty about it. At present there is fear that they may be discriminated against. There are very few of these creameries, but there are some, and in whatever manner they are dealt with, it is very desirable that the business capacity of the men who made a success of those creameries under very adverse circumstances should be made use of in reorganising and developing the creamery business.

Like Senator Sir John Keane, I do not like many of the details of this Bill, but I quite recognise the difficulty of the Minister in dealing with the matter, and in dealing with the evils that have crept into the creamery system. While there are many parts of the Bill to which I am in opposition, I feel that, in the main, I must support it. But it is well that we should clearly see the difficulties and dangers that this Bill may cause to arise. The Minister, in dealing with the Bill in the Dáil, repeatedly assumes that the Disposals Board, in buying the creameries, had bought also the milk supplies. He must know that that is not so. The Board actually bought the goodwill of the creameries, if you like. But any concern that absorbs or buys another concern cannot buy the clientele of that concern. These men are free to deal where they like. I quite appreciate that in the natural order of events the creamery would get 90 to 100 per cent. of the milk it previously got. But let us remember the farmers send their milk to a creamery because, in the exercise of their judgement, they think that the creamery is well managed, but if, in any change that takes place, the farmer imagines that the creamery is not as efficient as it was, then they elect to exercise their judgement in the disposal of their produce to what they consider the best advantage. And for that they are penalised to some extent under this Bill. I do not think the Minister intended really to penalise them, but I think he does penalise them. The object of the Bill is really to get back the money which the Disposals Board expended, and it is done in two ways. If the milk supplier continues to supply milk to the creamery which has been acquired, then the repayment is by the issue of shares at the rate of £3 per cow, which the farmer to whom they are allotted will repay over a period of eight and a half years plus five per cent. That is one case where the farmer continues to supply milk to the creamery which is acquired. If he elects to send his milk to another creamery, then the repayment is made by the proprietor or proprietors of the alternative creamery and is based at one pound per gallon on the peak-day of the supply. I put this seriously to the Minister. Let us assume that two farmers, each with twenty cows, elect to go, not to the creamery which they previously supplied, but to another creamery. The good farmer, who carefully selected his stock of cattle, may have a peak supply of 60 gallons of milk but the other indifferent farmer may have a peak quantity of only 40 gallons. The farmer who selected his stock carefully is penalised.

No, three shares per cow. It does not matter how much milk.

That is the point I want to get at, and, indeed, I was about to move an amendment that it should be put on the uniform basis of three shares per cow and no other basis.

So far as the farmer is concerned, that is the basis.

It is in the Bill that the proprietor or proprietors of the creamery will pay at the rate of £1 per gallon of the peak supply. I quite recognise the Minister's difficulty and that this, almost of necessity, must be a very tortuous and involved Bill, which is difficult to understand, but those in the business managed to get the general drift of it. I hope that will be made more clear. It does restrict the liberty of the farmer in the disposal of his produce. I hope I am not right, but I can see a considerable source of trouble arising in the future from this. I have been dealing with farmers for a longer period than the Minister, and I am not libelling or slandering them when I say that they can be very tough. I hope that things will go smoothly, because it is necessary to reduce redundancy of creameries. I disagree with Senator Sir John Keane about that. I think it is obviously necessary, and that it will be more economic to the farmers to get rid of these creameries. But I see great difficulties in certain of the provisions which the Minister has brought in.

With regard to the redundancy of creameries, as we are upon a Co-operative Bill, I may be permitted to say that redundancy in nine cases out of ten has been caused by co-operative activity. Even while the present Minister has been in office I went to him and with money supplied under the Trades Loans (Guarantee) Act a creamery organised by the I.A.O.S. was started at Mitchelstown in opposition to the best-equipped creamery in Ireland. These are the difficulties that we are now legislating to deal with. We are dealing with public moneys which the Minister now seeks to reimburse. It is well to bear that in mind.

With regard to the restriction of private enterprise I may be an individualist, but I think that though this, in the main, may make for a general average of prosperity, it will prevent development in the co-operative movement. Let us look at any development apart from the making of butter. I have been associated with creameries where cheese, dried milk, casein and condensed milk were made. I am afraid you will have very little development of that kind by reason of the very nature of co-operation. It does not tend to enterprise or initiative.

I hope the Minister will consider the matter raised by Senator Sir John Keane in connection with the Tipperary Co-operative Creamery. The facts of that are these: I was associated with the Condensed Milk Co. at one time, although I did not happen to be bought out, as it was before the concern was acquired by the holding Board. The fact is that there was two creameries in Tipperary—one a successful co-operative creamery and the other owned by the Condensed Milk Co. In the year 1922, during the troubles, the Condensed Milk Company's creamery was destroyed. Compensation was awarded in respect of that creamery, and it was re-erected and acquired with the others by the Disposals Board. The Disposals Board negotiated with the co-operative creamery with a view to the closing of that creamery by the co-operative creamery, and they disagreed on what seemed to me a relatively minor matter, I regret that the negotiations failed, but they did fail. It is my view—and it is as well to state it in the presence of the Minister—that that prohibition of the extension of the use of separated milk by the co-operative creamery would not have been put into force, as is proposed, but for the fact that the co-operative society refused to take this creamery off the Disposals Board's hands. The co-operative creamery had made casein years ago. and why should they be prohibited from extending the use of a by-product? Are we always to be merely making butter and cheese—very largely butter?

If the Minister had the experience in trade which I have had, unfortunately, from time to time, he would recognise that it is a great misfortune to this country that we are so one-legged with regard to the use of our milk products. Time and time again I have noticed very severe depressions during the peak period of butter production, when all the produce sold at a very depressed price, while if we could, like the Canadians, switch off largely to cheese, we could take the surplus butter off the market and get a better price for the product of it. In this Bill the Minister has altered the definition of the word "creamery" to prohibit a co-operative society from doing what it really should do, and the result will be that if this is not done in Tipperary it will be done in England. I have in my pocket a cigarette holder which looks like amber. It has the advantage that it does not break if you let it fall. That is made by a very successful company in England out of skim milk. That is the product of a new company which has been very successful and which imports its casein from Holland. The Minister, by this Bill, is legislating to prevent the co-operative creameries doing this which, if he succeeds, will be done in England. I have to support the measure, but I agree with a great deal of what Senator Sir John Keane says, and I hope the difficulties which I see in its administration will not arise.

I rise to give the Bill my cordial support. We listened with great attention to the criticism— very plausible and very weighty criticism levelled against the Bill, but I would suggest that the criticism would have been levelled with greater advantage against the original proposal to purchase the creameries. That would have been the stage at which Senator Sir John Keane's criticism would have been of great weight and value. Now that the principle has been accepted, and all the creameries are to become co-operative creameries and worked for the good of the community —nationalised even, as Senator Sir John Keane puts it—all this criticism goes by the board. If you are not to preserve the creamery movement in a position in which it shall be prevented from unjust attack from capital from outside, then I feel that this structure, which has been built up and which, I am glad to say, is being reared with great precision and care, cannot fructify as those of us in the creamery movement believe it will. If you analyse Senator Sir John Keane's criticism, he says in effect that private enterprise must be allowed to go on. Private enterprise in these matters in Ireland has absolutely killed the farmer and absolutely put him out of business. The co-operative societies were prevented from achieving the success which they would have achieved by the underhand opposition of the proprietary societies. The proprietary societies had much more capital at their disposal than the co-operative societies. At the present time they have much more capital at their disposal than, even under this new scheme, the co-operative creameries can be supposed to have. I have followed the scheme step by step, and I have followed the abolition of the redundant creameries. Senator Sir John Keane has stated that in some cases the question as to redundancy of creameries is a matter of opinion, but even Senator Dowdall admits that without the abolition of the redundant creameries this scheme could not be a success.

Having done that, what does this Bill propose to do? It is provided in the very forefront of the Bill, in Section 2, that as regards creameries that wish, so to speak, to break new ground, it shall be made difficult for them to do so, that they shall pay for their milk supply at a price which will put the creamery societies on a par with them and that will prevent the incursion of outside influences which the co-operative movement is not able to bear.

I feel that the basis upon which the charge is made is an absolutely equitable one. The plan upon which it is based is detailed in Section 2 of the Bill, but I am not going to weary the House reading that. It can be seen from that section that the plan is absolutely explicit. It is based upon the gallon of milk which these people are trying to filch away from the co-operative societies and get for themselves, and that, to my mind, is an absolutely just basis. Then there is the arrangement about which Senator Sir John Keane is doubtful, under which a man has to take so many shares per cow. Apparently the Senator does not like the idea that a man has to take so many shares per cow. He thinks that some other method would be better—so much a gallon. The Senator suggested, I think, that there were what are known as seasonal suppliers, and that it was very unjust that these should be asked to take so many shares per cow. But what other alternative would he have? If he does not take the shares per cow he must pay the price per gallon.

I cannot conceive how, under any scheme taking into consideration a Bill of this character, you could make any arrangement that would deal with these seasonal suppliers. The difficulty of doing so would be enormous. The return that it would give in the way of prosperity to the country would not be worth the increased detail which would be necessary in the Bill. Private enterprise as regards creameries is undoubtedly attacked in this Bill, and I think justly attacked. If the Government failed to attack it they could not have justified and would not have justified the movement they established and entrenched in Ireland under the new Dairy Produce Act. The fears that Senator Sir John Keane expressed on this, or at all events that I read into his words, are, I think, groundless. He seemed to suggest that the managers will be entrenched in the societies, and that the committees in the future will be, to use a Scotch expression, "hadden doon." I am sure that we can be reassured on that point, and that if a creamery society finds that the manager is a dud that it will not be asked to keep that dud. If they find that he is not a progressive man they surely will be able to dismiss him. If the Bill provided that such a man was not to be dismissed—I have not found in it any such provision—I would certainly vote against that. Senator Dowdall said that people are restrained absolutely from making any by-products.

I said nothing of the kind.

The Senator used the words "restraint on farmers"——

In connection with a specific instance which the Minister mentioned.

I think Senator Dowdall suggested that farmers could not make casein or anything like that.

Not at all.

Then I misunderstood what the Senator said and I am sorry. I did understand him to say that farmers could not make casein in the future, but he does not say so now.

I do not wish to interrupt the Senator, and the matter is not a very vital one, but perhaps I might explain. What I did say was that by reason of the co-operative movement there is likely to be less initiative and enterprise.

There is likely to be less initiative? Senator Dowdall does not assume that even when the co-operative societies are finally developed that there will be sufficient initiative or brains in the industry to conduct the making of by-products. I would be very sorry to believe that. I believe that sufficient initiative, energy and thought will be found in this new movement to develop all the by-products. I think it will be found that, as this movement advances, and as the scheme outlined in this Bill is put into operation, that the creamery movement in Ireland will be advanced, that the farmers' interests will be advanced and that the good of the State will be advanced. All these interests will be advanced by the operation of this most essential Bill, the Second Reading of which I cordially support.

As one of the founders of the movement from which this co-operative creamery movement may be said to have emanated, it is only right, perhaps, that I should express my congratulations to the Minister for Lands and Agriculture on being able to co-ordinate the State and the farmer together in one great scheme of mutual help. Those acquainted with the history of the organisation movement are aware that the great founder of it did his best to encourage, throughout the country, the spirit of self-help which was so sadly wanting. From State help he managed to evoke a spirit of mutual help. I say that State assistance should be given to mutual help, and I think we have arrived at that stage now. Senators are aware that Sir Horace Plunkett was the founder of the Agricultural Organisation Society, and I might say the originator of that great body, the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction, of which the Minister for Lands and Agriculture is now the exponent. I think it was greatly regretted afterwards that the Vice-President of that Department should be a member of the British Parliament.

Unfortunately for him and for the country, when Sir Horace Plunkett lost his seat as a member of Parliament, he also lost the Vice-Presidency of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction, and there was no longer that co-ordination in work which led to so much advance in the country, which existed between the agricultural organisation movement and the State movement represented by the Department of Agriculture. I regret to say that his successor in office did not see eye to eye with Sir Horace Plunkett. He was not in favour of agricultural co-operation, and when I had unfortunately to take the office of President of the Agricultural Organisation Society I felt the difference. It was no longer a case of seeing eye to eye. I will give one small instance which shows how very much we ought to appreciate the position at present. The Department of Agriculture insisted upon having an equal number on the Executive Committee with the Organisation Society, and they were to rule, you may say, the agricultural conditions in the country, but the Department of Agriculture claimed the right before any co-operative society was organised that they should approve of the conditions existing in that district as being suitable. I need hardly say that led to serious friction, and from that day until the present Minister for Lands and Agriculture undertook his great scheme of co-operation we had no co-operation between the Organisation Society and the Department of Agriculture.

Not only was there friction, but I am sorry to say a great deal of ill-will. We always wanted some authority to organise the creamery movement. Nobody will deny that there were redundant creameries. A number of the creameries were established in direct opposition to those in existence, and the stealing of milk by one creamery from another was a rather common pastime then. I am aware that proprietary creameries started by private companies, as a general rule, have ended by being swallowed up by the co-operative movement, and vice versa in some cases. I do not say that a good many did not survive. I need not go into those terrible times through which the co-operative societies went. It is a time we look back upon with shame. I think we may truly say that movement was in a state of chaos, and it has been to the credit of the Department of Agriculture and the Organisation Society working together that they have made a serious effort to put that movement into proper shape and to retrieve the credit which Irish butter had begun to lose, and to lose not only individually, that is to say, through the co-operative societies losing their own credit but the national credit. I am not quite sure whether we are able to say that Irish creamery butter can fetch as high a price in the London market as Danish. When we can do that then the co-operative effort between the State and the farmer has succeeded, and I believe it will succeed. I quite admit, and everybody here will admit, that on the Committee Stage of the Bill many defects will be pointed out by those who have long experience of co-operative dairying and co-operative work. On the Second Reading I have only said what I considered it to be my duty to say, and also my privilege.

I am afraid I cannot deal with all the questions that have been raised in the discussion on the Second Reading. This Bill is an attempt to put into operation a policy which it took me four hours to state in the Dáil. I stated that policy at great length when I was introducing the estimate for the purchase of the Condensed Milk Company. I realised then it was only possible to defend the estimate by stating the dairying policy which is really a synonym for the agricultural policy of the Government. In that lengthy statement I was not able by any means to cover the whole ground. The statement got a considerable amount of publicity and it is fairly well known through the country—for instance, to members of organisations such as the Dairy Shorthorn Society, the co-operative societies themselves, and generally to the agricultural organisations in this country. I certainly would expect that in a debate on this Bill Senators who have, or take, an interest in agriculture should debate the Bill in the light of that policy. It is too much to expect a number of Senators who are not directly concerned with agriculture and do not profess to have any technical knowledge of this subject or any detailed knowledge of it to do that. I would expect Senator Sir John Keane, Senator Dowdall from another angle, and other Senators who have agricultural interests—I do not say whether they approve or disapprove of it, but who know the general policy and as to how a scheme fits in with that policy, to discuss it from that point of view.

Senator Sir John Keane raised a dozen points I cannot answer now, and that he knows I cannot answer now without going into other questions that are implied in those issues, and which would take a tremendous amount of time to deal with. I cannot understand the point of view, may I say, of one who approves of the objects but disapproves of the means for carrying out that policy, and cannot suggest any other means at this hour of the day. We must assume that anybody who does not suggest another method has no other method. When we get into the middle of a big policy anybody who criticises the methods of that policy should suggest other methods in their place. What I cannot understand is that Senator Sir John Keane assuredly approves of the objects of this Bill, and that we were absolutely right in buying the Condensed Milk Company. He has never said otherwise. I would like to hear him say otherwise. He agrees that we were right in transferring the creameries of the Condensed Milk Company to the farmers. If he does not agree with that he has taken great care not to say that he does not agree. He agrees with me that we should stop redundancy. I am sure he would go on a platform down the country in the area of his own co-operative society, or at a meeting of the Dairy Shorthorn Society, and say it is not good business to see two creameries side by side, both owned by the farmers.

So we were right to stop redundancy. Equally, I am sure, he agrees that it is a correct policy not only for the dairying industry but for the farmers themselves. These are the objects. He agrees with them, but deplores the methods. He dislikes the methods, but there are no other methods suggested. Arguing in that way is a sheer waste of time. The same applies to the Agricultural Produce Act or the Dairy Produce Act. But the Senator will not say on any platform in Ireland that the objects of the Dairy Produce Act are not absolutely sound. He would not suggest that we could attain those objects by any other method. No. That is all right. These are simply a peg on which to hang a dissertation of abstract principles with which we could all agree, but which takes us nowhere. It reminds me, if I may use the illustration of the old lady who loves meat, but who hates to hear of a bullock being killed in order to provide it. Deputy Bennett was quite right— either be with me in this Bill as it stands, or you are not with me. Then I should have been stopped on the day we went into the matter of buying up the Condensed Milk Company. Let us have it one way or the other. Remember this is, in fact, to give validity to what is now an accomplished fact. This Bill does deal to a certain small extent with transactions about which there have been no agreements or in only about five per cent. of them. This Bill will deal with 95 per cent. of the agreements made where the arrangements have been completed and the cases dealt with. This Bill will give validity to them so far as they require to have validity given to them by law.

I can understand Deputies or Senators taking up that position on the day that I announced our policy, the Government policy, in regard to the dairy industry of the country. They might have taken up that position on the day I announced that it was our intention to buy up the proprietory creameries of the country, to hand them over to the farmers, to prevent redundancy in future, and to say that no proprietary concern was to have a chance to manufacture milk or milk products or by-products in this country without the consent of the Co-operative movement. The day that I announced that it was our intention to hand over the manufacture of the by-products of milk to the farmers themselves I can well understand on that day how this argument that has been used now by Senator Sir John Keane might have been used. I can understand if he said "No. You cannot stop private enterprise." But no one could argue in that way in the light of what was happening between the Condensed Milk Company of Ireland and the farmers in Tipperary, Limerick and Cork. It would not have been a good policy to argue in that way. It would be a bad policy for any Senator or Deputy. I must certainly say that farmers would not stand for any Deputy who stood up that time and said: "Do not buy and do not transfer." Such a Deputy would get short shrift from the farmers. Deputies who would take up that policy at the time would not remain long in public life if they represented an agricultural constituency. Now we have done it, and have carried out complicated arrangements. I appeal to be allowed to carry out this policy to the end. Then we will have the satisfaction of knowing whether it is good or bad. But do not stop it now in the middle or disintegrate it. In this country the idea both in politics and economics is never put yourself in a position of being found out. I want to be found out. Let the policy be tried to the bitter end, and let us judge it afterwards, but do not stop it before it is tried out. Let us find out whether the policy will prove to be successful or unsuccessful. We will not know whether the policy is good or bad until it has been tried out to the end.

Remember this Bill is to validate agreements already made, transactions that have already been carried out, cases that have already been put through. I say that in view of some suggestions that have been made to-day that it ought be amended in Committee. It is really a Bill to carry out these agreements already made. It is essentially a Bill that ought be beaten on Second Reading or let go through. Business men will realise what a terrible nuisance it is to re-open agreements once you have agreements made and entered into. It takes a long time and many arguments to make agreements. You do not make agreements on scientific principles. You do not sell a cow on scientific principles. You do not sell a cow on any such basis. Neither do you sell a creamery. There is always a bit of give and take. You will have to give way a little bit, and the other side has to give way a little bit. Now, if these agreements are to be re-opened, the same trouble arises. If you re-open one you must re-open the others. Nobody will be satisfied. People are generally satisfied when the bargain is made. If a man buys a cow he may give a little too much for it, but he is ready to put up with that when the transaction is closed. In the same way the man who sells a cow may think that he should have got more for the cow, but once the cow is sold he is satisfied to put up with it. It would be tantamount to destroying the whole scheme now if any changes were made in it. It would mean that we would have to re-open agreements that were made, in some cases with considerable difficulty. These agreements took considerable amount of work to carry through; to the extent of 95 per cent. they have been carried through with the goodwill of everybody. There is only one society where we would not have that goodwill. I believe that the majority of the suppliers have been honest with themselves. The only exception was the case of a certain number of individuals who have got rather into a strong position. For certain reasons these are opposed to the scheme, but these are really not a co-operative society. They are really proprietary as against co-operative, and that, I believe, is the reason for their opposition. That particular case in Tipperary is the only case in the country where we have got any trouble of that kind in carrying through this scheme, which is bristling with difficulties. The butter trade of the country is £5,000,000. The purchase of the Condensed Milk Company cost £365,000.

It is proposed to purchase the proprietary creameries in the country, and it is proposed to transfer them to the farmers in the country. Now, there are bankers and business men here who realise what a tremendous task that would be in a business house or a company, and they would realise also that it could not be done on Civil Service lines. You cannot put through a transaction like that on Civil Service lines. It may be wrong for the Department of Agriculture to undertake this matter. It may not be the work the Department of Agriculture should be doing, though that was not said at the time when this matter was brought in first —and no one said it now except indirectly. It may have been wrong for the Department of Agriculture to undertake the work, but then there was no one else going to undertake it. We did undertake this work, which is really commercial work, and if we are to get a chance, then we must, even though we are a State Department, be allowed to carry it out in a commercial way. Take it that it was a company that was carrying out this transaction, there would be some one in the company who would have to make up his mind as to what was to be done. He would not be prevented by a series of checks and delays. He would not be compelled to insist upon holding meetings of the suppliers and all that sort of thing. If you do that you would never get the matter put through. If you hold a general meeting of the suppliers in order to get agreement, and if you are to be bound by the cranks amongst the suppliers—and there will be always cranks amongst the suppliers —you will never get the business done. I would ask that, first, you would be allowed to carry this out to the end, so as to justify it or to prove that it is wrong. Up to the present it has been justified; and secondly, I say that we should be allowed to carry it through in this way, in other words, let us have all the advantages that a commercial house would, if it were being reorganised in its own business. It is rather a tall order to ask for that, but it is rather a huge thing. It is an attempt, not to nationalise, but to rationalise the dairying industry of this country. When that is done, then we will get out of it. The Department of Agriculture will get out of it. We will have established the dairying industry there in the hands of the farmers. They will be able to look after it. From the year 1880 up there have been powerful interests in the dairying industry and the farmers have beaten them. They have beaten everyone of them. I am not going to say now what would happen if we allowed the battle to go on between the proprietary and the co-operative interests. In that process there was a waste.

There was tremendous waste in this organisation, and the creameries themselves were absorbed in the interests of the fight and they were unable to give their attention to what the Danish, New Zealand, Canadian and other farmers in their countries could give attention to, namely, the making of butter, cheese, casein and condensed milk, doing it well and marketing it properly. All that was neglected because of the struggle between the proprietaries and the co-operative concerns.

When we hand over this to the farmers we will hand it to a body with experience over forty or fifty years, a body that has had all sorts of vicissitudes, a body that has forgotten a lot and that has learned a lot. There will be here a Co-operative Act such as they have in Denmark, and it will be administered by the farmers and not by me. All that will be handed over to them, and then we will clear out. But when we clear out, we will have left something after us. We will have left a powerful body controlling the most important phases of agriculture, with proper legislative regulations within which they are quite free to act.

With regard to the detailed points raised by Senators Keane and Dowdall, this Bill should be really divided into three parts. We bought creameries, we closed some, and we left others open. Where we closed a creamery because it was redundant, we sold the milk supply to the nearest co-operative creamery. That milk supply is a goodwill. We sold the goodwill, in other words. Undoubtedly, in private enterprise, it is quite common for people to buy goodwill; it happens every day in the year. There is an intangible thing known as goodwill which is of immense value. There are many enterprises, I suppose, where the goodwill is worth all the fixed assets. It is easy to criticise our method of selling it. As Senator Dowdall has said, the goodwill was 95 per cent. but not 100 per cent. of the milk supply, and we realise that. For the purpose of computing a price for the goodwill, there is a simple rule, that the purchaser will accept £1 a gallon on the milk whatever that milk may be. That is a rough and ready way of computing the goodwill, but if the creamery that is buying is agreeable, why not compute it in that way? It is a business matter, and that is the way we did do it.

Supposing we left the creamery open instead of closing it down after we had bought it, we would sell the creamery to the suppliers and they would have to put up more money for the purpose of buying that creamery; it would be probably more than three shares per cow. They would not supply milk to the creamery. Instead of that they go to the neighbouring creamery that has been established and that has a bigger milk supply and they really take shares in that new business. Why should they not? These shares are £3 per cow. Again, that is not an invention of mine. For the last thirty or forty years, whenever a creamery was established, it was built up by the rough and ready rule of £3 per cow. We were able to do good business in the country on that basis. It generally covered the price of the new creamery, and on that simple basis we were able to build up the creamery. Most dairy farmers will agree that their interest in a creamery is roughly to the extent of £3 a cow. For £3 a cow each man gets an interest in the new creamery, in a creamery that has a very much bigger turnover and milk supply and a very much better chance of profit than the creamery they have left. That is a perfectly reasonable and fair transaction.

Senator Sir John Keane points to one difficulty which may arise in practice. He says that your new suppliers come to the creamery and shares are issued to them. They are asked to pay £3 a cow, while the old suppliers are asked to pay nothing. Under the co-operative scheme which we propose to introduce it will be necessary for all suppliers to be shareholders. That is the way in every country that is properly organised. It will be necessary for all suppliers to have shares. Let us assume that the creamery the new suppliers are coming to is completely out of debt. It cost £7,000 to put up, and there is no debt due. Who paid that? The old suppliers, either by shares or by deductions from the milk, paid that sum. They bought and own that concern, and they paid for it out of their own money. Why should they be asked to pay again? Of course they should not. Let us suppose that a creamery is in debt, and let us suppose that it costs £7,000 to buy it and run it, and that there is a bank overdraft at present of £7,000. Obviously the new suppliers have got nothing and they have simply borrowed the money in the bank. They have to take shares, and it is found that £3 a cow can wipe out all liabilities. Perhaps the amount might be less than £7,000, and perhaps three shares per cow, with five shillings paid up in each case, would suffice. In that way the transaction is perfectly fair.

The same applies to buying a creamery which is not closed. There will be some trouble. There will be suppliers who will not see why they should take shares. There will be others who will see that it is perfectly clear they must take a small number of shares. If there is to be trouble, we will have to meet it. If this Bill is passed there will be very little trouble. There are only a few recalcitrant parties who will stop out, and they must realise that they are part of the co-operative movement, and that in 1928 there is no room for this extreme form of individualism in co-operation. No one co-operative society is going to be allowed to stand out and to bar the progress of the movement as a whole.

It is stated that this Bill is to legalise retrospectively and prospectively breaches of the law. No, it is not. There is only one possible breach of the law. The agreements are all quite valid and normal. There is only one possible breach of the law inferred, and I am not quite clear that it is a breach of the law. It is not quite clear whether co-operative societies have a right to mortgage their uncalled share capital. At least, I am told that that is so. We wanted to make sure that they have that right. We are not sure whether the co-operative societies that have entered into agreements to buy certain premises for certain sums of money and have given as security a mortgage on the uncalled share capital, can do so legally or not.

I am told that it is not clear that it is within the law. That is the position, and it is the only one. When people speak about prospective and retrospective breaches of the law that are going to be legalised, Senators will have a better idea of what these prospective, retrospective and, generally, sinister breaches of the law really were if it were stated in that way. That is really the only illegality, and it is the one that we have provided for. Of course, we alter for the purpose of the Bill the number of shares a shareholder may hold. Under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act a shareholder may hold only 200 shares. Under this Bill a man may hold more than 200 shares; they would be farmers who would hold more than 200 shares because they would have more than 70 cows.

Senator Sir John Keane spent at least five minutes pointing out the enormity of allowing this new principle of deduction from the monthly milk sheets to be included in the Bill. But is not that all ancient history? At the present time has not a committee a perfect right within the law, a right which they can enforce, to meet and decide that they will pay a certain price for the milk? They can decide what that price will be, taking into account the overhead expenses. the monthly outgoings, the fact that an individual owes them money, and so on. They have that right already. We are not conferring it by this Bill; we are merely saying that they will pay us back by deductions from the milk cheques or otherwise. We are enshrining no new principle and giving no new legal right to anybody, because they have that right already.

On the question of redundancy, I must disagree with Senator Dowdall when he says that redundancy has been caused by the activity of the co-operative creamery societies. From one point of view that is true, but from another it is not. It always takes two to make a quarrel. The sequence is in favour of the Senator's statement. A proprietary concern is established, and after two years the farmers, rightly or wrongly, come to the conclusion that they are getting a very small price for their milk, and they put up a co-operative creamery. Assume that they are right, then who starts the quarrel?

The farmers.

Assume that they are right—I am not saying that they are always right—who is to blame for starting it? It is like who started the Civil War. I want to be quite frank about the German creamery. There are two sections to this Bill in which I want the Seanad to insert two slight amendments. They are two sections aimed at preserving the ideal I announced when I introduced the estimate for the purchase of the Condensed Milk Company—to hand over the manufacture of all milk products to the farmers, which is an ideal with which Senator Sir John Keane is in the fullest sympathy.

I would not like to be taken as agreeing with such a very general statement as that.

I would ask the Senator to take some opportunity for specifically giving his views somewhere on that question, because it is at the root of the whole matter.

If the Minister wishes I will do it on the Fifth Reading to-morrow.

I would prefer the Senator to come down the country to do it.


Wait until after we come back, Senator.

What was the situation we found when we were asked to intervene and to buy the Condensed Milk Company? There had been a trade war going on for three years. There had been immense losses on both sides. and it was a question as to who could continue the war the longer. For reasons which I indicated at great length, we decided to cut the knot and to go in and buy. We decided that if the State was to spend the taxpayers money in buying out this big firm and in transferring it to its rival, we would take steps to see that in future that state of affairs would not arise again. The only way to do that was to ensure that in future the manufacture of milk and milk products should be carried out exclusively by co-operative societies and that for that purpose there should be someone or some authority to prevent proprietary interests from coming in.

Proprietory interests are willing to come in and, of course, they are willing to come in for their own purposes. I can imagine a very big English firm. for instance, ready to take another chance, going down to Tipperary, establishing six, seven or eight very big creameries, losing heavily on this side and making a good thing out of the commissions on the other side. That is not unknown, and has been quite common. It was done before, and it may be done again. In any case that was the situation as we found it: We went in and bought the Condensed Milk Company, and having bought it we could not contemplate the same state of affairs growing up again. We bought creameries, and we bought condenseries. In the town of Tipperary the opposition between the co-operatives and the Company was on the butter side—that is, between the creameries of the co-operatives that were making butter and the creameries of the Condensed Milk Company that were making butter. There was no competition in the condensed milk. In the town of Tipperary, and in five or six other places, there were condensing factories. In these factories there were two processes. The first process took place in five or six of these factories, and the final process took place in Lansdowne, Co. Limerick, which was the finishing station. We bought these condenseries also, and we paid over £100,000 for them. We are reorganising them, and we intend, when they are fully reorganised, to form co-operative societies and hand them over to those as going concerns. They will be well able to run them. In addition to this condensing plant in Tipperary town, which is owned by the Condensed Milk Company, there was also a creamery owned by the Condensed Milk Company, incidentally one of the finest in Ireland, and there was also a very big creamery owned by a co-operative society. It was our view, but we did not very much mind, that the co-operative creamery should buy not only the milk supply but the premises which belonged to the Condensed Milk Company and which we had purchased. It is one of the finest premises in Ireland. The creamery buildings of the co-operative society were not sufficient for their own purposes, and they had to contemplate the question of expending considerable sums of money in extending them.

Here we had bought a creamery which was capable of handling the milk supplies of both, and we proposed to sell them that creamery and sell the milk supplies. They objected. We proposed to sell on exactly the same terms as we sold all the other creameries—£3 per cow, lending them money for eight years at 5½ per cent. interest. These were certainly fair terms. They objected. We sold creameries in North Cork, we sold creameries in the poorest parts of East Limerick, we sold creameries in other poor districts, and we had no difficulty in making arrangements; we had no difficulty in settling about prices. This is one of the wealthiest and one of the most powerful in the country. They absolutely refused to deal with us unless they got better terms than any other creamery. Senator Dowdall said that they were right to do that. But supposing they were, we had either to re-open every agreement with every creamery in Ireland or refuse to sell. We refused to sell. Their next move was to invite a German firm into the country to establish a casein plant in their creamery— a proprietary concern. At the present moment that German firm owns £200,000 or £300,000 worth of machinery, which was installed during the last six months in this creamery, and the arrangement was that the milk should just be curded in the creamery and then transferred to Germany to be finished. All the profits went to Germany and practically all the work was done there. That arrangement was made with the proprietary creamery, and the very same firm proposed to make that arrangement with three or four other creameries, if they could persuade them so to do. The idea was to compete for the skim milk with our condensing plant in Tipperary town. We have a condensing plant there. We will take all the skim milk that the co-operatives will give us. We can take all the skim milk that the Tipperary creamery could give us, after they signed our agreement, which they would not. Instead of doing that they go to Germany, they get a proprietary firm to come in in the teeth of a Government decision, and they put a casein plant into this creamery merely to curd milk to be taken over to Germany and finished there. This is a very powerful and a very wealthy firm. If this be allowed, they can go ahead; they can give extra good terms for the moment; they can put casein plants into other creameries in the district, and they can give specially good prices for the next three years.

I do not believe there is very much in casein, and I do not believe that Senator Dowdall believes there is much in it, but they can come in and go ahead for their own reasons, and put casein plants into co-operative creameries and smash the Condensed Milk Company. Would not that be starting all over at the point we reached some two years ago? Why did this firm come in? There is a casein factory closed in Tipperary for the past five years, and there are none so poor as to do it reverence. Not until we stepped in and bought the Condensed Milk Company was there the slightest interest in Germany, France or England in casein. This foreign firm, in spite of the fact that I made it my business to tell them that they were coming in against the whole policy of the Government, more than six or seven months ago, insisted on coming in. I do not believe they were coming in for the benefit of the farmers of Tipperary. I know that there are very powerful firms in the condensed milk and other businesses both in England and Germany, proprietary concerns who do not like one bit this development in Ireland of co-operative organisation. I do not want to see co-operative distribution, but I want to see the farmers cooperating in producing the goods. I think the old quarrel between co-operative stores and shopkeepers was absolutely absurd. We want to bring the farmers together for the co-operative producing of goods. I believe these people were sent here, not as deliverers, but in their own interests, because there was undoubtedly a very strong feeling—and I happen to know it— amongst very powerful firms in other parts of the world who looked askance at this development, which means that the manufacture of milk products, casein, cheese or milk, will be handed over to the farmers. I suppose five or six years ago if you wanted an industry started in this country, and if you heard that there was a very wealthy German whose grand-aunt was Irish, and if you went on your knees and asked him to start some industry and spend some money in this country, you would get a certain amount of soft talk and maybe a subscription. There is nothing like having power, if they come here to send them home. German, English or any capital is welcome. We will take capital from any country, but there are times and places when we want to hand an industry not to Germans or French or English, but only to the Irish farmers themselves. This is one of them. They are not coming in, and no single co-operative creamery is going to be allowed to upset that policy at the beginning. I could develop this at greater length, but I do not want to take up the time of the Seanad. I want to say again, and to impress on the Seanad, that this Bill is really validating agreements made, transactions that have taken place, and that in that sense it is a Bill that should be either passed as it stands or be beaten on the Second Reading, because if it is altered in any vital respect all the agreements and all the transactions have to be altered, and the fat is in the fire again.

Question put and agreed to.


The House will understand that the pressure of time will make it necessary for the amendments to be moved to-morrow, although they may not be received in time even to appear on the Order Paper. Every indulgence will be given to any member who wishes to move an amendment without notice.