Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Seanad Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 22 Aug 1934

Vol. 19 No. 1

Public Business. - Slaughter of Cattle and Sheep Bill, 1934—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

I should like to preface my remarks with regard to this Bill by saying that it is a Bill entirely for the benefit of the producers. I do not want to be bothered answering remarks about putting money into the butcher's pocket or the pocket of anybody else. As far as we are concerned, we are introducing this Bill entirely for the benefit of the producer. There has been a very severe fall in the price of cattle, which is due to three things. The first is the fall in world prices. If we read any of the British farmers' papers we will see, at meetings of farmers in Great Britain or in Northern Ireland, where they are engaged in discussions in regard to the very low prices of cattle. The low price in cattle all over the world is felt everywhere and has hit the farmers very severely. The second thing was the financial tariff inflicted by the British Government against this Government in July, 1932. In order to overcome and counteract that effect we paid a bounty on cattle. The result was that after a month or two prices were reduced by the difference between the tariff imposed and the bounty we paid. You had ordinarily a gap of 4/- or 5/- a cwt. between here and the market on the other side. In addition to that ordinary gap you had, as a result of the penal tariff, the difference between the tariff and the bounty. The third thing was the quota. That was imposed by Great Britain and came into effect after Christmas some three or four days before New Year's Day.

As a result of the quota there is a further reduction in the price of cattle. It is to deal with that reduction of the price in cattle that this Bill was brought in. We are not trying to deal with world prices or the reduction as a result of the tariffs. So let us lose no time, if the Seanad is agreeable, discussing these matters. This Bill is intended to make right the wrongs of the quota and to give the farmer the same price as if there was no quota, to dispose of his surplus cattle. That is what this Bill is designed to do, and that is all this Bill is designed to do. It would be waste of time, under this Bill at any rate, to talk about the losses sustained as a result of the tariff. If these losses are to be made good there should be a motion, or an agitation, to have the bounty increased so that the bounty would amount to the sum of the tariffs. If you increase the bounty you thereby minimise the bad effect of the tariff. But this Bill is not meant to minimise in any way the ill effect of the tariff, it is only meant to make good the bad effects of the quota.

We all know that, as a result of the quota within the last four months, if a farmer was lucky enough to have a licence to export a fat beast, he got £3 or £4 more than if he sold it to the home butcher. This Bill is designed to make the home butcher pay the same price as the person who bought the animal for export. If we achieve this we achieve all we set out to achieve. We also deal with surplus cattle, to which I shall come in a few minutes. We have not got a very big surplus of cattle here. We took a census in January and June. It was the ordinary official census taken by the Statistics Department, and it did not show that we have a very great surplus of cattle. The number in June this year is not any greater than it was in June, 1933, so that we have no great problem of surplus cattle to deal with. Last January, when the quota came in, I tried to induce the farmers who had cattle to hold on, and they would be able to get rid of them before the stall-feeding period was over. They might have to keep them a little longer, but the market would have been there for them. Eventually we got rid of the stall-fed. But the real big principle of this Bill is the fixing of prices. If we can work this Bill so as to operate the fixing of prices, then we have succeeded. Suppose the price offered for cattle for export be 25/- per cwt., we fix the price 25/- per cwt. live weight. We have to fix this price at the price that cattle for export are really worth. We fix the price for cattle for home slaughter at the same level. Suppose that figure is 25/-, and suppose we have got a surplus of cattle —let us assume that for the moment— then the exporter with a licence pays 25/- per cwt. for the cattle he buys. The home butcher who buys his cattle for slaughter pays 25/- to the person who sells to him, so that the same price is paid for cattle bought by the home butcher for slaughter as is paid by the person who buys for the export. We want to get the home price really regulated by the export price, and if we achieve that we have done that which we have set out to do.

The fixing of prices, of course, means certain regulations. The buyers of cattle for home slaughter must be registered. Any person can be registered who has a slaughter-house and who buys cattle for slaughter. We shall register him unless advised by the local authority not to do so. But if a person's application is passed by the local authority we automatically register him under this Bill, and he is permitted to buy cattle for slaughter at a fixed price.

At a minimum price?

Yes, at the minimum price. In order to work this Act satisfactorily we will, of course, have cattle sold by weight as far as possible. We have learned of certain instances where a farmer, being very anxious to get rid of his beast, and very badly off for money, the butcher comes along and says: "I have three or four other customers to attend to before I come to you. I cannot buy from you at present, but if you give me £1 or £2 for luck I may do so." The farmer wants to get rid of his beast, and he does so. We have to prevent that; it is, of course, illegal. If we did not sell by weight the butcher may say, "This beast is 10 cwt., we will agree to nine and I shall buy." We have to sell by weight to prevent evasion of the Act. In the cities and large towns there may be no great difficulty in selling by weight, but there will be country districts that will present difficulty. Under the Act we have to provide other means, and we do so by a system of dead weight. After a beast is killed the two sides are weighed and the price is fixed in certain districts. The cattle are sold by weight and, therefore, at a fixed price, and it is an offence for the buyer to buy at any but the fixed price. It is not an offence for the seller. The seller might come back in 12 months and say to the buyer, "You bought at a fixed price, and I want the money making up the full fixed price." It is an ordinary contract, and the seller is likely to get it. As well as that, of course, the buyer is likely to come under the provisions of this Act for having committed an offence. It is an offence for both parties to sell cattle otherwise than by live weight or dead weight, as the case may be, that we have prescribed. It will be necessary further to register the retailers of the beef and mutton, because it may be very difficult sometimes to trace some of those cases of cattle and sheep—the prices paid, and so on—if we did not have some means of checking where the meat was sold, what amount was sold, and so on. Accordingly, the retailer is registered also so as to enable us to examine his transactions, examine his books, and so on.

A price may be fixed, of course, for different classes of cattle. There may be one price for bullocks, another price for heifers, and another for young cows. It would be very difficult to fix a price for first and second-class bullocks. We will have to have a minimum price for bullocks. We might possibly fix one for heavy bullocks over 10 cwt., say, and a price, perhaps, for bullocks under 10 cwt. Obviously, it would be impossible to classify them, because I do not think we have inspectors to do that. I should like Senators to be clear, before we go any further with this Bill, that we may not have to go any further than the fixing of a price. It may be possible to operate this Bill with a fixed price alone and get cattle up to a good price. If we can operate this Bill successfully, so far as the fixed price goes, we shall have raised the price of cattle at home to the same price as the price for export, and there will be no such thing as a man paying £1 or 10/- for a licence because they will not be any more valuable than the ordinary permit to export cattle if there were just an ordinary licence. It would not be of any value so far as cash goes.

The various parts of the Bill may be brought into operation by order. We may not have to go into the marking at all. We may be able to stop after fixing the price, and if there are no more cattle than there is a demand for, everything will be all right and things will take the normal course. Suppose, however, that there might be periods of the year where there would be more cattle than were required at that particular period. Then, of course, the difficulty arises. If you have, say, five farmers with ten cattle each and an exporter is willing to take ten, and a home butcher willing to take two more tens, that leaves 20 still, and the only fair way then is to bring in the marking provisions. They come into operation by order. A farmer has a number of cattle which he thinks are fit. He makes an application to the Department of Agriculture to have his cattle inspected. The inspector goes down and he marks so many of them as being fit to be killed within, say, a fortnight or three weeks. I cannot say the exact period, but certainly it would not go beyond three weeks. The inspector might say that after this week so many will be fit next week or the week after. He marks them fit for slaughter within a certain period and says to the farmer: "I shall be round again in three weeks." There are a certain number to be killed within the next fortnight, only, roughly, sufficient for the demand at home, and a certain number also for export. In that way, if there are more cattle offering than are required for export and home slaughter, we try to get off the more fit cattle first and hold back the less fit. Surely, the farmer should get relief by taking the very fit cattle off his hands first and leaving the less fit over. There may be a big surplus, say, in September or October, and that may disappear after some time. Perhaps there would be a surplus again of stall feeders in March or April, as there was last year; but from that on to about July probably there would be no surplus at all.

Senators perhaps may be under a misapprehension about this Bill. There is no such thing as sending an inspector into a man's farm and the inspector saying: "I am going to mark your cattle." The farmer will send for the inspector when he thinks his cattle are fit. The farmers will be quite anxious, of course, to have the inspector sent. In the same way, in the time of the stall feeding here, we did not send inspectors. We asked the farmers to send us word if they wanted an inspector, and they were very glad to do so. The process is the same here. The farmer will notify us that he has cattle that he thinks are fit for slaughter. We would then send an inspector down and he would mark them for some short period—two weeks or three weeks or whatever it is. They are the only cattle that can be purchased during that period. Of course there is the usual provision about the offence of slaughtering cattle that are not marked and so on. That is the meaning of that Part of the Bill.

First of all, I said that if our supply did not exceed our demand we could stop at the fixed price. If at certain periods it exceeded the demand, we would then have to resort to the other provisions. Suppose, however, there is a greater number of cattle in the country than we can dispose of in the whole 12 months, then we resort to another provision in the Bill—Part IX, or rather Parts VII, VIII and IX. I am taking Part IX first, however. That deals with the supply of free meat. We are quite convinced that at the present time there are more cattle than we require for ordinary export and home requirements, and we would be disposed certainly to bring in Part IX of the Bill as soon as possible in order to get rid of the surplus that exists at the moment. That brings us to the free meat scheme. We can dispose of a considerable quantity of first-class meat in this way to those who cannot afford to buy it. We would only supply the best beef. There might be some advantage to the poor person in supplying inferior cows but there would be no advantage whatever to the Minister for Agriculture, because we want to get rid of the surplus of the best beef. It is very difficult at the moment to know what the number would amount to, but we could dispose of from 40,000 to 60,000. At any rate, there are two classes of people who would get the free meat: people drawing home assistance and people drawing unemployment assistance. We ask the Minister for Local Government and Public Health to issue vouchers through his home assistance officers to families in receipt of home assistance, and we ask the Minister for Industry and Commerce to issue vouchers through the unemployment exchanges to those getting unemployment assistance. The vouchers would be according to the number in family. They bring this voucher to a certain butcher who is named, and they get the meat from him.

Now I have to come to the other point. I have to make contracts with those butchers who supply that meat. I ask the butchers for tenders to supply so much meat within such limits in a certain district. Having got these tenders the butcher is given vouchers to supply the meat. He supplies the meat to the people who present the vouchers. If that goes on all right everything is quite smooth. But naturally there are various difficulties to be got over.

Is the meat in addition to the unemployment assistance?

Absolutely in addition to the unemployment assistance. There is no deduction made for it. Now as to the kind of meat supplied. That was a very difficult matter to decide. We had to consult with certain rather big people in the business in the City and in the country towns. I met some victuallers and consulted with them on this matter and we found that it would be a very difficult and expensive measure to have certain cattle killed for this purpose. It was more simple and convenient to have the beef supplied by the victuallers. One condition is that it must come off first-class heifers and bullocks. That is what we specify by order. In all probability the contractors will be inclined to sell the very best cuts to their own customers; but they will supply good meat from first class animals to those who hold vouchers. This will of course absorb a certain amount of cattle, which is really the interest we have in it more than anything else. I mean that is the chief interest of the Department of Agriculture in it. The question is whether that number of cattle is sufficient to absorb the surplus.

We get a surplus in this way: In 1933 we exported 240,000 fat cattle; 120,000 fat cattle were consumed at home, so that 360,000 fat cattle were produced in 1933. In this year we are only allowed to export 120,000 fat cattle. Our consumption, so far at any rate as this year is concerned, will probably be 180,000, and it is increasing all the time. That would make 300,000 fat cattle this year. So that if we had the same number of fat cattle produced this year as last year we would have 60,000 more to dispose of. We can dispose of that 60,000 if necessary. But in all probability the number of fat cattle for sale will be less in 1934 than in 1933. The number of fat cattle for the past five or six years has been going down continuously, and in all probability there will be fewer fat cattle this year than in 1933.

I now come to deal with the other parts of the Bill. I had better finish Part IX—Free Meat. We first of all considered a scheme for giving out this meat at a cheap rate. The first idea was that first quality beef was to be sold at 2d. per lb. to people who held vouchers. The next scheme was to deduct a certain amount from home assistance or from unemployment assistance at the rate of 2d. per lb. We found that our great difficulty in such a very big scheme was this: that in the beginning we may not be able to supply the meat. We thought it better for an experimental period of four months to give free meat. It is ex-gratia. If the person does not get it he has no cause of action; he may have a complaint. We say we will do our best, but we are not bound by law to supply it.

This scheme is so big that there may be certain districts where it may be impossible to operate it. As soon as we have the machinery going we may in all probability change to the cheap meat. We may then make a small charge instead of giving it as free meat. When I mentioned that matter in the Dáil, people on all sides, particularly the Opposition, approved of that plan, because they said it was better to make them pay a little for it, as it would make them feel they had a right to it and it would work better than if there were no charge.

If Part IX of the Bill is operated, Part III becomes necessary. Part III is the levy. It provides for the levy which was mentioned in the Financial Resolution. In the Dáil for purposes of calculation that levy was stated at £1 per fat beast and 5/- per sheep. I do not know if that is to be the amount. It may possibly be varied to so much per cwt. or so much to the particular class of beast. For purposes of calculation that would bring you in somewhere about £300,000 a year, and it would go about half way towards carrying out the various things in this Bill, including the free meat scheme. This levy of £1 and 5/- cannot come out of the pocket of the producer, because the producer is paid a fixed price. So that the butcher must find this levy. Naturally he either pays it himself or passes it on to the consumer. If he passes it on to the consumer the consumer can unquestionably pay, because the price as compared even with pre-war prices is very low. The levy of £1 per head increases the price to the consumer by one halfpenny per lb. The producer of the meat can afford to pay his share of part of the cost of these schemes— that is, the free meat scheme and the other schemes to which I am coming.

Part VII and VIII of the bill deal with manufacturing processes in respect of cattle and sheep. The Minister is taking powers to himself to lend or invest money in this business. All that is well known to the Senators, as they have read the Bill. The Minister is taking power, first, to lend money for setting up factories for the processing of old cows, and, secondly, for supplying these old cows at a very small cost to the manufacturers of meat meal. These old cows are very difficult to dispose of at the present moment. Many farmers find it difficult to dispose of them at any price. They are selling them at 10/- and 15/- a head. We hope to give them £2 10s. 0d. to £3 per head for them. £3 per head would be the maximum price delivered at the nearest railway station. The manufacturer then takes them away and the farmer is paid for his cows. That is all he cares about and not what becomes of the cow afterwards. The cow is brought to the central factory and converted into meat meal. In order to relieve anxiety amongst Senators there is a provision in the agreement with this factory that they must not sell any eatable products within this country.

What is this meat meal to be used for?

For animals. We are also empowered under the Bill to carry on tinning—that is to set up any factory that it might be possible to set up under the provisions of this Bill, either by way of loan or by Government action only—by way of loan preferably. If there is any proposition from any proprietary company prepared to start in this business it will be done by way of loan. Under Section 35 the accounts of all such businesses must be properly audited and laid before each House of the Oireachtas, so that we cannot do anything without making both Houses fully aware of all our transactions. I should like to stress that the big principle of the Bill is the fixed price and dealing with surplus cattle. I have tried to outline as briefly as possible how the Bill will be worked, but these are the two big principles to which I should like Senators to direct their minds. When we are able to offer a fixed price and to deal with the surplus cattle, I think we will have got over the ill-effects of the quota. That is all we are trying to do. Do not accuse me, therefore, of trying to do anything by way of getting over the ill-effects of the tariff. That could be done by increasing the bounty if we were in a position to do it, but it is only to deal with the ill-effects of the quota that this Bill is introduced.

I admit that it is going to be a difficult Bill to administer, but still I believe it can be done. There was a very big discussion in regard to that point in the Dáil and as I am very likely to be asked a number of questions here in regard to the same point, I should like to anticipate them. It is going to take a rather large staff. I do not know exactly by how much the internal staff at the Head Office is going to be increased, but it is not going to be very outrageous. It may cost between £3,000 and £4,000 a year. The outdoor staff, however, will be rather big. As far as we can estimate at the moment, it will take 120 inspectors to work the Bill. They are going to cost probably about £250 or £300 each by way of salary as well as travelling expenses. Senators may have an idea of what that is going to cost. It is, however, going to be a comparatively small item, even if it amounts to £40,000 or £50,000 a year, if we can get what we want under the Bill, that is, to get £3, £4 or £5 more per head for fat cattle. If we succeed in doing that the £40,000 or £50,000 spent on administration will be very well spent, and I am sure will not be thought exorbitant by any Senator here. To anticipate any discussion with regard to the staff, I want to say that I am not going to have anything to do with the appointment of the staff, so that no Senator need say that I am going to put my friends into these jobs. I am trying to anticipate these questions so as to shorten discussion.

There is no use then in asking you for a job?

Not a bit. I think that really covers the principal objects of the Bill.

Would the Minister answer two questions? It will ease the debate later. One of them is what will be the price to the consumer of the 180,000 cattle slaughtered at home at the fixed price? Secondly, what will be the cost, under the free meat scheme, of 40,000 cattle of 10 cwt. each at £1 5s. per cwt.?

The free meat scheme is to cost £400,000 roughly. The old cow scheme, if I may refer to it as such, is going to cost about £150,000. We are calculating that for odds and ends, increase of staff and so on, another £50,000 will be necessary. That brings the total up to £600,000 per year. With regard to the question put by Senator The McGillycuddy, I am afraid I cannot say what the increased cost of meat will be to the consumer, because perhaps that would be hardly fair. There are butchers who are paying at present a good price for cattle, particularly here in Dublin. They are paying almost the equivalent of the export price. There are, on the other hand, victuallers who have time to go down the country and make a good bargain. They are getting cattle at a much lower price and they are, I take it, charging the same for the beef they sell. I think I might say, therefore, that I hope at any rate that part of the increase at least will come out of the butchers' present price. It may admittedly increase the price to the consumer.

May I ask if there is to be any restriction on a farmer who kills cattle for his own use?

No, he is exempt.

What about farmers who have sold meat about the country, using a lorry or a cart for that purpose?

Any farmer or any institution, for instance, that has been killing cattle for his or its own use, is exempt from the marking provisions, fixed price provisions or any other provisions of this Bill. The farmer who has been killing cattle and going round the country with his own cart or lorry is killing them for sale and will come under the Bill. He will be automatically registered by us under the Bill. We are not interfering in his business. That is a matter for the local authority. If the local authority wants to stop that for health reasons they can do so.

A farmer is allowed to kill cattle for his own consumption?

What is the position of the farmer who kills meat for sale in the country? Does he come under the Bill?

The same as any butcher?

No matter if he kills only one beast, a cow or a sheep, in the week?

Yes, if he kills for sale at all.

The Minister has admitted for the first time, at least in this House, that the tariffs have lowered the price of cattle in this country. He has asked us to discuss this Bill for what the Bill contains, and not to go into the causes of the economic war. I agree that the Bill should be discussed on its merits and that we should avoid a discussion on the economic war. The Minister says that if we want to secure a higher price for the farmers then we should advocate a higher bounty. We have often advocated a higher bounty. We consider that the farmer is victimised on account of his not being placed on the same footing as any other manufacturer. If a man is manufacturing ropes or any other commodity, he can get a refund of the tariff which he has to pay when he exports his products. If he is manufacturing shirts or collars he can get the full amount of the tariff that he pays on his exports. The Minister tells us that we should advocate a greater bounty on cattle, and I hope that he will look at the matter in that light in future. I have nothing further to say in regard to the economic war, and I shall confine myself to the Bill as it stands.

I oppose this Bill and I ask the Seanad to vote against the Second Reading. Although such action is not in accordance with the usual practice in this House I am convinced that we should adopt that procedure with this Bill. This Bill is a most revolutionary and a most unworkable measure. In my opinion it is not capable of being so amended as to make it acceptable to the farmers, who produce fat stock, to the butchers, or to the cattle traders. It makes the Minister an absolute dictator so far as the live stock of the country are concerned. It takes away all freedom of trade from everybody connected in any way with the live stock trade in this country. Section 4 of the Bill says, "The Minister may, by order, make regulations prescribing any matter or thing which is referred to in this Act as prescribed or to be prescribed." Practically every other section of the Bill states that the Minister may "by order" do certain things. The tendency of the Government is, and the tendency of the previous Government to a certain extent was, to give power to Ministers to make orders. It is time that the Seanad put a stop to making of these orders by Ministers. If the Minister wants to make an order, he should have it passed by resolution in both Houses. If this tendency is allowed to develop, we shall, in a short time, have legislation by order and government by officials. Section 9, which the Minister discussed at considerable length, refers to registers. Every butcher must register and be licensed. His shop must be registered and his slaughter-house licensed, and if he manufactures any product, however trifling, he must, under this Bill, have a licence.

Only when the product is in a container. That provision refers to tinned and bottled meat.

At all events, the Bill makes it necessary for a farmer who kills a sheep to register even if he only sells portion of it to his own workmen.

He ought not to sell it; he ought to give it to them.

He will have to register and pay 5/- in these circumstances, although the sheep may not be worth more than 5/-. The Minister may refuse a licence to any person who fails to pay the fees or who becomes a bankrupt or for other reasons specified in the Bill. It is hardly fair for the Minister to take such drastic powers because if a man in the ordinary course of business has, through no, fault of his own, to claim the protection of the court he is not knocked completely out of business. In this case, if he fails to pay his licence fee to the Minister or if he fails to pay the charge per head for the cattle, the Minister may close up his shop. That is very drastic treatment of the poor butcher who might not at the time have the necessary money. A register must be kept of all transactions. Any person can, on payment of 1/-, demand the production of the butcher's register. Moreover, on payment of 6d., a copy of a page or two pages of the butcher's register can be taken away. That is very drastic. A number of people could come along one after another and demand certain folios of the butcher's book.

That is altogether wrong. There will be nothing entered in the register but the butcher's name and address—sufficient to identify him. There will be nothing about accounts in the register.

The name and address would not be a folio.

That is what they call it.

I shall pass from that. I am sorry I misinterpreted that clause. Part III of the Bill deals with the levy on the cattle for slaughter. If the Minister's idea is to be given effect, this portion of the Bill will have to remain. It is not very objectionable. I have very little sympathy with the butchers, and I think that they could easily afford to pay £1 per head. But there should be other means of getting it. The only means of getting the butchers to pay a fair price is competition—supply and demand. Nothing else will regulate the price the butcher will pay or the price he will charge. Part V of the Bill is rather important. This Part of the Bill does away with all freedom of trade. It takes away from the farmer his ownership of his cattle or sheep. An inspector may come along to any place where he expects fat cattle to be kept and require the farmer to bring these fat cattle in for inspection. It is an offence for the farmer not to give him all the facilities he asks to inspect the cattle. He will mark those cattle with the dates on which they are to be sold. I suppose he will use a tag or a scissors mark. It is an offence for the farmer to sell these cattle until the time specified It is, again, an offence for the farmer to offer unmarked cattle for sale in Saorstát Eireann. The Minister is, I presume, controlling all the licences, and, in that way, the farmer cannot sell either his marked or unmarked cattle. He may want money to buy provisions or food or clothing for his family. His credit is gone. He cannot get the commodities which he requires unless he is able to sell his cattle.

If the Minister is going to insist on this provision then, I suggest to him, he should arrange a moratorium for the farmer in the case of his rates, his annuities, his bank debts and his shop debts and, in addition, give him a voucher to enable him to procure food and clothing for his family. The Minister should do that for the farmer if he is going to stop him from selling his stock. The Minister takes power under Part V of the Bill to fix the minimum price at which fat cattle may be bought, but he does not fix the price at which they are to be exported. The Minister says the price fixed will be the price which the cattle will be worth in England. Does that mean the price minus the tariff or the price plus the tariff. That is an important point and, if I may anticipate the Minister's reply, I am afraid the fixed price will be the price minus the tariff in England.

I would like to know from the Minister how he is going to deal with the licences. If, for instance, we have 3,000 cattle in the Dublin market, less than one-fourth of them would be required for slaughter at home. There would be only 1,000 export licences required. What is to happen the balance of the licences? Can the exporters buy fat cattle at any price they like, and is the butcher at home to be compelled to pay the fixed price? These are points the Minister ought to consider. I cannot see how the Minister is going to administer that portion of the Bill. I think it will prove more difficult than he anticipates. Under the Bill the Minister may, when he thinks proper, prohibit the export of cattle or of any particular grade or class of cattle. There are many farmers who, like myself, tie up 300 to 400 cattle in the month of November. They do so in order to wait until the glut period passes over. The custom at present is to export those cattle and to have them all sold before the end of January. Under this measure we may expect to have an inspector coming to our farms or cattle sheds and giving us permission to sell them in lots of threes, fours or fives. In my opinion there are very few people going to stall-feed under such conditions.

A man in that business will want to sell his cattle because he cannot afford to keep them until April, May or June as he will be compelled to do if the Minister is to put this portion of the Bill into operation. There are very few men, I fear, who will stall feed under the conditions laid down in this Bill except they get an assurance that they will be able to dispose of their cattle when the glut period passes. This Bill prohibits them from doing that. The cattle may be fat in November or December and the Minister may prohibit them from being exported until January or February, but when January or February comes there will be only stores to export and not fat cattle. These are serious considerations and, in my opinion, the Minister has not given them sufficient thought or consideration.

The Minister is taking power to engage in the various classes of business set out. He himself stated in the Dáil that under this part of the Bill he can be butcher, buyer, seller or exporter and, I believe, he can become a feeder. I would like to know how he is going to carry on the export side of the business when he takes that in hands. Will he do it through the recognised exporters or through inspectors? It is important to know that because we have had some experience of Government interference in the cattle trade. It was not very successful. Nobody can manage the export trade as well as the exporters.

What about John Brown? Is he not doing it all right?

We will leave him out.

Is he not O'Neill now?

That is a controversial matter, and I am keeping off it. I am glad to be able to say that I am in agreement with the Minister as regards one part of the Bill, namely, the part that proposes the setting up of a factory for the manufacture of meat meal. I am in thorough agreement with the setting up of a factory for the making of canned meat. I have advocated that for a number of years. I have long been of the opinion that we should have some means of disposing of old and diseased cows. As regards Part IX, I have no objection to free meat being given by the Government to people who are in receipt of home assistance or to the unemployed. But I suggest it will be rather hard lines on people who are working, many of them at a small wage, that they should have to pay top price for the meat they require, and inferior stuff at that, whereas the Minister's proposal is that the best quality of meat must be given to the unemployed, and given to them for nothing. That will have a demoralising effect. These people should be charged something for the meat. They will put no value on it if they get it for nothing, while the people who are working and who will have to go to the shops and pay top price for inferior stuff will become very dissatisfied. It is certain that the price of meat is going to be very much higher. While I have no objection to that, I do not believe it is going to be of any advantage to the producers if the export price is to be kept low. We produce a surplus of butter in this country, and yet we have this extraordinary position that butter is 6d. or 7d. a pound dearer here than it is in England. But what advantage has that been to the dairy farmers of this country? They are no better off. The same thing will happen in the case of beef. The price of beef is going to go up as a result of this Bill, but the advantage is not going to go to the producers of beef or mutton. In a short time this country will, in my opinion, be the poorest country in the world. The cost of living here will be higher than in any country in the world. I move the adjournment of the Debate.

Debate adjourned.
The Seanad adjourned at 8 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday, 23rd August, 1934.