My reactions to this Bill when I first saw it, and the reactions of the veterinary profession generally were that it was simply patching old clothes. We have ample material for a new suit and we have, I think, the money to pay for it and sufficient coupons. We can see that the Bill is only a post-mortem on the recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease and that all the amendments are the practical result of the experiences gained during that outbreak. I fear that there has been too much of that mentality in the framing of this amending legislation. It takes a considerable time to understand the meaning of the sections in this Bill, especially, I should say, Section 2. An eminent lawyer who is a member of this House told me that he found it very difficult to understand the meaning of it because certain sections of the 1894 Act are repealed by Section 10 and reinserted in Section 2. It is very difficult to follow that procedure. I think the explanation is that what is removed in Sections 5, 6, 8, 9 and 12 of the Principal Act, by Section 10 of this Bill, remain and are incorporated in Section 2 of this Bill, but they are incorporated only to the extent that this Bill gives the Minister power to make Orders dealing with the particular diseases.
As originally introduced, it was found that the Bill contained considerable defects. I should like at this stage to congratulate the Minister and the officials of his Department for the way in which they met the representations made by the Veterinary Medical Association. We suggested several amendments which were duly incorporated. Senators may like to know the reason for the amendments. One of the principal reasons, as the Minister explained in introducing the amendments, was that local authority officials were utilised in the last outbreak in combating the disease. Actually, we were not officials of the Minister; we were not inspectors of the local authority. We did things in that outbreak which we realised at the time we had practically no legal authority to do. We had to use, you might call it, coercion. To a greater extent it was a system of cajoling people to do what we thought was the right thing and which every reasonable person would think was the right thing to try to combat the scourge that afflicted the city and country during that outbreak. As far as Dublin and district were concerned, the outbreak was discovered in the municipal abattoir by a corporation veterinary inspector. The diagnosis was made there. There was no power in the Minister to pay compensation for the carcases of the animals slaughtered in the corporation abattoir.
That has been rectified in the present Bill, because as the law stood it would mean that for animals which were quite innocently brought to the abattoir, and diagnosed as having the disease, the owner was not entitled to compensation. Naturally he should get compensation by way of anex gratia grant by the Minister for Finance, on the representation, I understand, of the Department and the Minister for Agriculture. The position is being rectified now. An alteration has also been made in the Bill, changing “an inspector of the Minister” to “veterinary inspector.” That means that if we are called upon—and, please God, we will not be called for that purpose—the officials of a local authority will be authorised legally to take part in the offensive against any further outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease.
These amendments were inserted in the Dáil and, on behalf of the profession, I desire to thank the Minister for incorporating them in the Bill. Everybody will appreciate that they are a benefit. I may say now what I said several times outside, that but for the wholehearted co-operation of the municipal staff during the last outbreak, despite all the efforts of the staff of the central authority and officials of the Department, we would not have succeeded in eliminating the disease until all other animals capable of being infected would have got it. That did not happen. The disease was eradicated from Dublin, where the difficulties were 50 times greater than they would be in other parts of the country, through the contact with human subjects. The amendments that have been inserted are very satisfactory, and if ever such an affliction should befall this country again we will be better equipped to attack it.
The section also provides that Orders can be framed for dealing with disease. I should like to express the hope that when Orders are being drafted, there should be the same co-operation with representatives of the veterinary profession. I feel that the Department, as instanced by the framing of this Bill originally, if it did not take the point of view of people outside its own doors would make many mistakes. I mention that for this reason, that the amendments to the Bill were accepted after consultation with veterinary inspectors and members of the veterinary profession outside the Department of Agriculture. In expressing the hope that when framing Orders consultation will again take place I do so because I am very interested in one matter which necessarily will have to be dealt with by Orders.
One great difficulty during the last outbreak concerned the supervision and control of the human subject, generally people who had come into contact with outbreaks of the disease. Senators will appreciate that that was ten times more difficult in the city than in rural areas, because people innocently came into contact with the disease, as well as owners and attendants, through no fault of their own. It would take too long to detail the instances with which we had to deal in connection with people who innocently came into contact with the disease, in order to try to get them and their clothes disinfected. We succeeded in doing so but, having no legal authority, we ran great risks. People were anxious to co-operate and submitted themselves and their clothing for disinfection and fumigation. We spent days and nights at that work. We had to go to their homes to get workmen who had gone from their employment removed to the disinfecting department of the corporation. The great advantage we had in the city was that there was a disinfecting department to which people's clothing could be taken while they were having a bath. In one instance a lady's fur coat, which would cost £60 or £70 had to be disinfected by fumigation. If that coat had been destroyed in the process I do not know what would happen as we were practically acting without any legal authority. A great deal of cajolery had to be tried to get the disease eradicated. I repeat that that helped the Department to get rid of the disease within the city, and without that help the Department of Agriculture would never have succeeded in their efforts. It is, therefore, all to the good that alterations should have been made in the Bill, empowering the Minister to utilise the services of inspectors other than Departmental inspectors.
Turning to the sections of the Bill, Section 3 deals with diseases for which the Act of 1894 was enacted. There is now no such thing as rinderpest in Europe. I do not think we will ever hear of that disease in Ireland again, because veterinary science is so advanced throughout the world that even in Africa rinderpest is fairly well controlled. In our insular position there is no likelihood that we will hear of it again. Regarding sub-section (2), relative to pleuro-pneumonia, I am not sure if there is any such disease in Europe. Thus in Sections 1 and 2 we are dealing practically with two non-existent diseases as far as Europe is concerned. Sub-section (3) deals with foot-and-mouth disease. There I come to a point that I made previously, that the whole atmosphere of the Bill is a foot-and-mouth disease atmosphere. The same phraseology is used to cover each of these sub-sections dealing with rinderpest, pleuro-pneumonia, foot-and-mouth disease and swine fever.
Coming to Section 3 (3), the original Act is amplified to deal with animals that have been directed to be slaughtered and those that died before slaughter took place. In cases of foot-and-mouth disease I think that should never occur. I should like to know if it actually occurred during the last outbreak. Although a fever in the adult animal, foot-and-mouth disease is never so acute that the animal dies suddenly, and if an animal is valued and ordered to be slaughtered, it should not die before slaughter takes place. Otherwise, this would be an admission of delay. There was criticism of the Department on the last occasion because the period between valuation and slaughter was too great; in other words, that there was great delay. The introduction of this clause would indicate that that delay was admitted and that the Government seek to compensate the farmer whose animal is ordered to be slaughtered and dies before slaughter takes place.
I do not think that is likely to arise in many cases and I do not think it occurred on the last occasion, but animals did die of the disease which are not covered by the amendment, that is, young calves, which were found dead after drinking milk infected with the virus of foot-and-mouth disease. Such cases did occur, when farmers, quite innocently and not knowing anything about the infection, because it came in milk from the creameries where the milk from infected cows was mixed indiscriminately with milk from other suppliers, fed that milk to calves. These calves became infected, with the result that the following morning they were dead. These are the only cases in which foot-and-mouth disease would be quickly fatal, and these cases, so far as I can see, are not covered by the amendments, although representations were made to have them covered. I still think they could properly be included.
I know that the State or other authority cannot accept, or does not, like to accept, responsibility for valuing an animal already dead from disease, but we have come to the stage, and rightly so, of course, of compensating a man whose animal is slaughtered in an abattoir and found to be infected with the disease. I think it would not involve so many cases—let us hope it will not have to cover any cases—but if we do have an outbreak and such cases arise, it is quite right that a farmer, whose calves are found dead and for which outbreak he cannot be held in any way responsible, should be compensated. It would not involve any large expenditure because a calf to-day is unfortunately of very little value. A pedigree animal might have an enhanced value, but whether it be the calf of to-day's low value or a valuable calf, it is only proper that in relation to attempts to eradicate such a devastating disease as foot-and-mouth disease, the valuation would be allowed. It would involve very little increased expenditure and would make the farming community generally more satisfied. The valuation of animals slaughtered under foot-and-mouth disease Orders or under these measures is the full valuation before the animal became infected so nobody can advance any criticism on that score. There is practically no deduction from the value of the animal before it became infected.
We come then to sub-section (4) which deals with swine fever. The same phraseology is used in each of the four sub-sections, and, in the case of swine fever, the same insertions are made. In the case of swine fever, however, it is quite possible that adult animals would die from the disease without the owner knowing the cause. The suspicion of swine fever would exist and he would report the matter, but, from the time of examination and valuation, it is possible that other animals would die. With swine fever, an animal can die between the time of valuation and the time set for slaughter much more quickly than in the case of foot-and-mouth disease, unless there was some great delay in the latter case, but there is a difference in the valuations applied.
In the case of an animal affected with swine fever, only half the valuation is allowed, while in the case of foot-and-mouth disease, the full value before the animal became infected is allowed. I hope we will continue to have no swine fever in this country. The amazing feature of it is that since the importation of foreign bacon into this country was prohibited, we have had no swine fever. Dublin City was a hot-bed of that disease and special Orders to deal with it had to be made. There is no such thing now as swine fever here. It shows what extraordinary things these virus diseases are.
Bacon was imported into the country containing the virus of swine fever and the question arises as to how it got to the pigs. It was cooked, or semi-cooked, and went on the tables of restaurants, hotels or our homes. It went from there to the swill tub, which is collected from hotels and restaurants by pig feeders and fed to pigs, so that the virus of swine fever, which lived in the bacon coming in, and lived through the cooking, was carried to the pig which consumed the swill from the hotels and restaurants and so the animal became infected, but since the introduction of the prohibition on foreign bacon we have had no swine fever.
The same, unfortunately, does not apply to foot-and-mouth disease, which can be transferred very easily. One of the principal means by which the virus was spread was by contact with humans who carried it on their clothes and boots. The valuation in the case of swine fever, though only half the value of the animal before it became infected, does not really concern us so much and no alterations have been made in this respect. Perhaps the Minister forestalled any criticism in this connection when he said he hoped to have a comprehensive review of the Diseases of Animals Acts. The Act of 1894 is one, I think, of 79 sections and five schedules, so that the amendments to a few sections made here make a very small contribution to the amendments actually required.
Section 4 deals with the question of withholding compensation. I have nothing to say on that. If a person is guilty of neglect so far as animals are concerned or of any offence relative to the outbreak as a whole, I think it is reasonable to give power to the authorities to retain the compensation to be granted. The question of the use of ground other than that on which the animal was at the time, of more suitable ground elsewhere, is also reasonable. As the Minister explained, it has not occurred up to this, but it is very necessary as a safeguard in view of any further outbreak.
In connection with Section 6 I have a point to make which I should like the Minister to note. It only occurred to me on reading over this Bill very carefully since the amendments were inserted. The first part of Section 6 (1) states:—
"Whenever any diseased animal is found by a veterinary inspector in a market, fair, sale yard, or other public place...".
In his explanation of that sub-section the Minister referred to the use of the word "suspected". I think it would be a far better safeguard if it read "diseased or suspected of disease" Again we are dealing with the foot-and-mouth disease mentality. I would put it to Senator Counihan that it has occurred on many occasions that a municipal veterinary inspector in the market found an animal which had symptoms of foot-and-mouth disease. That animal may be the only animal the owner had in the market and there may be no information as to what its previous contacts were. Actually, the diagnosis of foot-and-mouth disease is made when a large number of animals become infected quickly. You will, of course, come across an isolated case of an animal with a lesion having the semblance of foot-and-mouth disease but it may not be foot-and-mouth disease on that account. It may be a type of stomatitis which would mean inflammation of the tongue and mouth. If a veterinary inspector finds an animal or a few animals showing symptoms of a disease that may be foot-and-mouth disease, what happens is that the local authority's inspector contacts the central authority. The central authority is quite convenient to the City of Dublin and the Department's inspectors come on the scene. They have the onus then of declaring whether it is or is not foot-and-mouth disease. I think that if the word "suspected" were put in it would facilitate the local authority's inspector and it would certainly be a help to the central authority's inspector because what would happen in the interval is this. With the facilities available in the Dublin market the whole traffic in animals could be held up until such time as the examination by the Department's inspectors took place without having any scare created. There would be no publication or scare until the investigations were made and the diagnosis confirmed or otherwise. It would get over the difficulty of definitely saying that the animal was diseased.
This section applies to every other disease that is scheduled as well as foot-and-mouth disease, but foot-and-mouth disease is the one which is in all our minds at present in view of the outbreak we had and the fact that another outbreak is an every-day possibility when you have such numerous outbreaks on the other side of the Channel. I think that the outbreaks on the other side of the Channel are caused by the meat of animals which have been affected with foot-and-mouth disease being distributed throughout the country and fed mainly to pigs, because a lot of these outbreaks are amongst pigs. It is probably through contamination of the food supply of pigs that these outbreaks have taken place. However, we are not out of danger, although the sea is between us. There is still great danger of a recurrence of foot-and-mouth disease in this country.
Section 7 deals with penalties and here again we are obsessed with the foot-and-mouth disease mentality. The original Act covers sheep scab amongst other diseases, and from year to year many other diseases have been added to the diseases scheduled under the Act of 1894, so that actually this penalty of £100 would be applicable to offences against any of these Orders. That would look as if the Legislature attached great importance to this question of sheep scab. I regard the question of sheep scab as being very important, because I believe it is one of the disease we should have eliminated long ago out of this country. Unfortunately, we have not succeeded in doing that. A penalty of £100 for failure on the part of an owner to report an outbreak of sheep scab seems enormously high in view of the fact that this year the Dublin Corporation prosecuted a person for having 75 sheep, which meant every animal in his place, affected with sheep scab and he was only fined 1/- per head, or 75/- in all. I think it is worth mentioning this in view of the fact that district justices do not all view the Orders and Acts of the Legislature with the same seriousness. In this case the fine was 75/- for 75 animals, or every animal in the man's place, whereas in another case brought before the District Court in the city a man who had, I think, five sheep in the market affected with sheep scab was fined £15 or, at the rate of £3 per head, so that there is often injustice done to owners of sheep owing to their cases being brought before different district justices.
Now that we are increasing the possible maximum penalty to £100, there may be greater discrepancies in the sentences or in the fines imposed, and if a district justice looks on a case very seriously he could easily fine a person £50 for an outbreak of sheep scab or one of the other diseases, such as swine fever. Another district justice might fine a man perhaps 10/- a head. A person guilty of an offence under the Foot-and-Mouth Disease Order might merit a fine up to £100, but the fact is that there are other diseases of lesser importance included in the same Acts and, if that penalty would apply to them all, we may have comparative injustice done to different defendants in the cases brought to court.
I think the compensation is covered fairly satisfactorily in Section 8. The Bill has been amended in the Dáil, so that if there is any disagreement between the Ministerial side and the owners, there is a system of arbitration. I think that has been satisfactorily dealt with in the other House.
One thing that strikes me, so far as Section 9 is concerned, is that we have this antiquated system of the General Cattle Diseases Fund. There is also the Pleuro-pneumonia Fund, which exists in the Act of 1894. For that reason I think the Minister should be preparing the way to have a general revision of the Diseases of Animals Acts. In the Act of 1894, in so far as it applies to Ireland, there is a clause that says that there is no necessity for a veterinary inspector to be appointed at all. That might have been reasonable enough at the time, because there were very few members of the veterinary profession in this country and it was then possible that people who were not veterinary surgeons could deal with outbreaks of these diseases.
That Act is antiquated in its general application to this country. Section 65, dealing with fines recoverable under the Act, sets out that they shall be applied in so far as a part thereof, not exceeding one-third, may be awarded to the informer and the rest to the Crown, to be applied in aid of the general account of the General Cattle Diseases Fund. The Crown was then in existence in this country, but the extraordinary thing is that this clause was specially framed to deal with the Act as it applied to Ireland. In so far as it applied to England or Scotland, I could not see any trace of the provision dealing with the informer. It is about time, in legislation dealing with technical diseases of animals, or any other diseases, that we should get rid of the phraseology concerning informers. I have no objection to the phraseology still retaining the Crown in all these Acts that we had to adopt on the establishment of the Irish State. The time has arrived for a new suit of clothes instead of all this patchwork legislation.
I should like to deal with the point raised by Senator Counihan in connection with the Tuberculosis Order. Certain kinds of bovine tuberculosis are notifiable under the Diseases of Animals Acts. The valuation as arranged under the Order is the market value of the animal.