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.