Livestock Marts Bill, 1967: Second Stage.

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

In submitting this Bill to the Seanad there are three points I would like to make clear at the outset:

(1) that the Bill is necessary in the national interest and not least in the interest of the farming community: It has been introduced for no other reason;

(2) that the powers provided for in the Bill in relation to livestock marts are comparable with those already granted by the Oireachtas in many enactments passed since the 1920s in relation to other sectors of the agricultural industry;

(3) that the Bill will be operated with reason and commonsense and to the benefit of the agricultural industry and the community in general.

Some people may well say that this Bill is long overdue and should have been introduced when it became clear that the livestock marts would very largely supplant the traditional fairs. Indeed, there was at one time a request from farmer representatives for Government regulation of marts. Today, there are well established and, indeed, well run marts in many areas and in these areas they have to a greater or lesser extent supplanted fairs so that, so far as the buying and selling of livestock is concerned, a virtual monopoly has been created— not, of course, deliberately butde facto. It is important, therefore, that the rights possessed by buyers and sellers in the days when the fair was the most important type of market should be legally maintained under the new system. The representatives of the marts, both privately-owned and co-operative, will, I believe, accept that their special position carries with it concomitant obligations. There is nothing really new in recognising such obligations. In the case of existing fairs there are, by reason of the charters under which they were set up or the statutes under which they are controlled quite definite and specific obligations as regards the days on which they may be held and for classes of livestock which might be sold.

As regards the right of the public to have full access to fairs or markets, we have a major point of difference between marts as they stand in this country today and fairs and markets; since marts are privately owned, the owners may, if they wish, deny access to the public or any special members of the public. It is obviously desirable that the right of free access to the marts by allbona fide dealers should be established in our legislative code.

The Bill now before the House was amended in several respects in the Dáil on my proposal, following discussions I had with the National Agricultural Council and with representatives of both the co-operative and proprietary marts. As the House knows, the Bill provides for the licensing of marts and requires that licences conform to any conditions attached to the licences and to regulations made under section 6. The amendments made in the Dáil, however, provide among other things the right of an inquiry when revocation of a licence is proposed on certain grounds and the holding of an inquiry by a barrister of at least ten years standing and also require me to put before each House of the Oireachtas a statement of the reasons for the revocation of a licence. I have also undertaken to consult the National Agricultural Council and the representatives of the Marts when the regulations under section 6 are being drafted. Any such regulation will be of a reasonable and practical nature and their only purpose will be to ensure the marts will be operated in the most satisfactory way possible. All existing marts will, of course, be granted licences.

I have no intention to control occasional auction sales, such as dispersal sales or sales at agricultural shows nor, indeed, any auction of livestock which is not part of the business of a livestock mart and which is not set up in order to evade the law. The Bill makes suitable provision as regards exemptions.

There have been suggestions from a number of quarters that the licensing of marts should not be vested in the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries but should be left to the district courts, and in support of this suggestion an analogy has been drawn between the system of granting of licences by the Minister proposed under this Bill and the licences for dance-halls, public houses, etc. which have to be applied for to the district courts. As I see it, the basic considerations are not the same. Public health and public morals are involved in the decisions as regards licences for which application has to be made to the district courts. The Legislature has seen fit to give jurisdiction in these matters to local courts who, to help them in arriving at decisions, have the benefit of the advice of the Garda and any local interested party who may wish to give evidence.

I would suggest to An Seanad that licences for livestock marts involve considerations of a different order and that the considerations can best be applied by the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries who has as his responsibility the welfare of agriculture, including the livestock industry. One would imagine from much that has been said about this Bill that the Legislature had never up to now given to a Minister of State the power to grant or revoke licences in spheres of action where the Minister has a direct concern and responsibility.

Control by the Minister concerned of matters similar to those covered by this Bill are and have been a feature of our legislation for decades. The type of control which I am looking for in this Bill is no new type of control. Ministers for Agriculture have already for many years had similar powers in, for instance, the dairying industry, the bacon curing industry, the fresh meat export industry, and other aspects of the agricultural industry. Other Ministers have similar powers. I might quote, for example, the power given to more than one Minister to grant or refuse export or import licences or the appelate function of the Minister for Local Government under the Planning and Development Act, 1963.

In my experience these powers have been used reasonably with, indeed, a tendency to favour the person affected rather than to deal harshly with him. I see no reason why the position should be any different under this Bill.

Finally, may I mention a point which so far as I know has not been referred to previously in the course of the rather protracted talking about this Bill? Some eight years ago when marts were still fighting to establish themselves there was a vigorous move by certain interests in the cattle trade who sought to impose a ban on the sale at Dublin Cattle Market or the shipping through Dublin Port of cattle which had passed through marts.

I am happy to say that the Minister for Agriculture of the day was determined to see that the decision to sell their livestock through marts or otherwise would be left to the free choice of the people concerned and that cattle bought at a mart would be at no disadvantage as regards subsequent sale or shipping by comparison with cattle bought elsewhere. The Minister, therefore, made an order which made it illegal except under licence from him to ship cattle through the port of Dublin and it was a condition of the licences issued that there would not be discrimination against cattle bought through marts. The ministerial intervention and the good sense of those involved made it unnecessary after a period to continue the control. This was a temporary control to meet an emergency but I feel that it is right that I refer to it now when it is being said that the present Bill is being brought in because of vindictiveness against marts. I am satisfied that its provisions will be for the benefit of farmers and all who deal in livestock.

I move:

To delete all words after the word "That" and to substitute "the Seanad declines to give a Second Reading to the Livestock Marts Bill, 1967, because it considers that it is not desirable to proceed with the Bill at the present time when strained relations exist between the Minister for Agriculture and the farming community making it impossible for consultations to be held to arrive at a mutually acceptable scheme of legislation governing this very important aspect of agricultural production."

First of all, I should like to express my appreciation of the acceptance of the re-worded amendment which would bring the matter within the Standing Orders of the Seanad. We had, I suppose, assumed that an amendment which apparently is in order in the Dáil would also be in order in the Seanad. In fact, as was rightly pointed out, under Standing Order 77, the amendment put down in the name of other Labour Senators and myself was not in order. I appreciate acceptance of an amended wording.

I hope the Seanad and the Minister will see their way to accept the amendment. As the Minister said, much has been spoken on this measure and I do not want to add a great deal more. In dealing with the amendment, I was hoping that I might in some way set the scene for a more dispassionate look at this measure in the context of seeing how we can best help the people of this country, particularly the agricultural community.

This Bill is, to my mind, relevant in the serious situation facing agriculture at present. I do not claim to be an expert on agriculture as my responsibilities in the field of operations are labour matters but we all know that last year the cattle industry had a serious setback. It probably would have been more serious except for the rather mild winter we enjoyed. I assumed, as did many people who are experts in this field, that this was something unique, that it was a passing phase and something which simply cropped up in the autumn of 1966 and that once the cattle industry survived through the winter and into the spring of 1967 things would be plain sailing from then on. Now it appears from warnings given in the newspapers and statements by the Minister that there is every probability that we will face exactly the same critical situation in the autumn and winter of 1967. We know the effect of the critical situation last year on the agricultural community and the agitation which resulted, and I would hope that we would not start along the same road again towards the end of 1967.

I am looking at this measure in the context of seeing what it will do to help the agricultural community and I find it quite irrelevant. I accept that there may be need to make some regulations in regard to hygiene, and so on, for the operation of cattle marts. They have been in existence for a number of years so that we can reasonably assume that there is no particular urgency in this matter. The impression is being given, rightly or wrongly, that this is a punitive measure by the Minister because of his irritation, and I sympathise with that irritation, with the NFA and that this is another step in the war of attrition that has been going on for about 12 months now.

As I said, I have a certain amount of sympathy with the Minister. In my opinion, the NFA can at times behave quite childishly, and the immaturity shown by some of their leaders on occasion is alarming. Last week we had the NFA having discussions with the Ulster Farmers' Union, discussions which were useful and desirable but they tended to be put over as if they were discussions and negotiations between two sovereign governments. The following day we had the same organisation charging the Minister with setting schoolboys to spy on the farmers. On reading the report, we find a situation in which students had been recruited to help in checking the enforcement of the Noxious Weeds Act. In my innocence I would have expected that the NFA would be a bit more concerned to see whether, in fact, legislation dealing with noxious weeds was being implemented and applied all around the country.

This is the sort of situation we have and it is why I have a certain sympathy with the Minister in the position in which he finds himself. However, I think we all need to take a step back from here. It is very easy to be irritated with the opposite party. It is easy to engage in a fight but, whatever the outcome, I think it is clear that it will not benefit the economy of the country and, particularly, the economy of the farming community.

We are engaged in what we are told is a serious exercise regarding our entry to the Common Market. I think we all recognise that we shall be in a fairly tough situation if we get into the Common Market, and that every section of our community needs to take a look at the situation by pulling up its socks and improving efficiency all round if we are to survive within the EEC.

The tragedy of all this is that while we are preparing to pull up our socks and thinking about what we shall do in regard to various aspects of our economy, the rest of the world will not sit back and wait for us. We are existing in a world in which change is the recognised fact of life and if we do not change rapidly enough, we shall be left behind in the race to survive as a nation. This is particularly true in regard to our agricultural community. We might also recognise—and I am not attempting to be partisan in this— the difficulties in which the NFA find themselves. I remember reading last August the statement of the President of the NFA in which he seemed to be saying, if I can rely on my memory, that constitutional approaches to the Department had not produced the desired result. He seemed to be pointing a finger at what happened in regard to the ICMSA some four or five months previously.

You will remember that we then had the situation of the ICMSA picketing the Dáil in support of their claim for an increase in the price of milk. Some of them were jailed. It naturally gave rise to a lot of public concern but the net result of all this was that the Government agreed to an increase in the price of milk which was, I am quite sure, justified. It seemed to emanate from the action taken by the ICMSA who tried to twist the arm of the Government at a time when the Government were concerned about the Presidential election. We had an increase in the price of milk; we had the Presidential election and then we had the Supplementary Budget to pay for the increase in the price of milk. Perhaps that sequence of events was accidental, but it was desirable in regard to the Party in power.

However, all that water has gone under the bridge, but it certainly left the impression that the NFA thought that here was an organisation which was able to get results by indulging, for want of a better word, in unconstitutional action and that the NFA, who had a series of meetings, discussions and had been putting forward papers to the Department over the years, were getting nowhere and that the leadership of the farmers was going from them because of their failure to secure results. This is like two trade unions trying to operate in the same field. We all know the problems there and what they give rise to. What happened following this statement of the President of the NFA in August last year was to be expected, I am sorry to say, and was, in my opinion, largely the fault of the Government in dealing with the milk prices four or five months previously.

I do not want, in opening this debate, to start off on a political note. I am simply taking note of things which happened and which might explain the departure by an organisation which up to then had followed constitutional lines to what were unconstitutional lines in the autumn and winter of 1966. That happened and I think we can all agree that whatever the reasons for those things happening, it did not help us to improve the lot of the agricultural community. Equally, if we have the same sort of campaign or action this year as well, it will not help the agricultural community.

These two organisations—the NFA and the ICMSA—are battling for leadership and survival, like two trade unions at the same time competing for members. It would be really most desirable and to the advantage of the farmers and the nation if this battle for leadership were ended and they could combine. That is not within the Minister's power. I am not saying he has any responsibility in this matter but I think he and all Ministers should be careful not to exacerbate the situation, not to have a situation in which one organisation feels that in order to recover its position it must engage in unconstitutional methods.

One of the sad things about our community is that you cannot keep a person out of prison if he really wants to get there and, once he gets to prison on what he terms a principle, he is forever after a martyr. We have seen this work many times. I do not want to see a situation in which we shall again have martyrdom—for what they call principles—by farmers this year—when there is such a need for all of us to pull up our socks. In such a situation they have not, in my opinion, advanced by one iota the interests of the farming community. They may disagree with this; it is my opinion. I can see that if this sort of warfare continues the farmers in Meath and Kildare—the most prosperous ones—will survive. It is the marginal farmer who will go to the wall—the people in Galway, Mayo, Donegal, West Cork and Kerry. It is those people who will be pushed out of farming altogether and, instead of going to hell or to Connacht—as Cromwell told their forebears—they will have to emigrate altogether.

What I want to do—and I imagine there would be Senators better equipped to do this in this House—is to appeal to our patriots, because this sort of warfare is irrelevant in the situation in which we find ourselves. What we all need to do is to step back from the situation and not make it worse because, rightly or wrongly, this measure is regarded as a punitive one by the Minister. He may tell us, as he told the Dáil, that it is necessary and essential and that he does not regard it as a punitive measure, but he must have regard to the impression left on other people, particularly the farming community. The impression certainly is that here is a Minister pushing through this Bill for which there is no particular urgency in order to show his power and his strength and to have a measure available to polish off the NFA if this sort of warfare recurs this year. I have a certain amount of sympathy with the Minister but I do say: "Well, look, it will not get us anywhere because this sort of measure can be used to the advantage of people who want this sort of warfare." It is another way of getting themselves into prison and, as I said, we cannot keep people out of prison. Once they are there they provide a rallying point and everybody—why I do not know—has sympathy with and a measure of support for anybody who goes to prison for what he regards as a principle.

I do not want to speak at length and I hope that in making this speech on my amendment I set the tone for a little less passionate discussion of the kind that took place in the Dáil, that we might forget the scoring of political points and try to see what would be in the interests of the agricultural community particularly. What I am asking here is that the Seanad, in effect, should postpone the Second Reading. It should induce the Minister to step back a little from this. Let him go away on his holidays and think about the matter. There is no urgency about having this measure no matter what he says. This stepping back might be the first move by the Minister to try to improve relations between himself and the farming community because improvement in such relations is essential for the survival of our country. If we go on with this sort of warfare year after year, there is no future for Irish agriculture and I suggest, no future for ourselves in the EEC. We might all, including the NFA, have a laugh at one another occasionally and not take ourselves too seriously. What has been happening in recent years is that people have been taking themselves far too seriously, having the spotlight of publicity on them. While I accept their good faith, their desire to do the best for their members, I do not think this sort of propaganda, these fights we have been having, are good for the agricultural community.

I appeal to the Minister to suspend judgment on this Bill for the time being as a first step towards promoting better relations with representatives of farmers. He might then, in the interval, have consultations with those people about the details of the measure so that they could arrive at some agreement whereby we could have before us an agreed measure. It is very seldom we have a measure dealing with the regulations of such matters as these which is not agreed. There is always consultation with the people affected and we generally find before the Seanad a measure which is generally acceptable to the parties affected by the legislation. The Minister might well say he has had consultations with the National Agricultural Council, of which he is Chairman, but I hope he does not regard it as unfair comment to say this: first, he published the Bill, then he brought it along to the NAC and, with himself in the Chair, asked what amendments might be made to the Bill already published. This is not real consultation and would not be so regarded by trade unions.

Talking to himself.

I do not think it helps to overcome the difficult relationship with the farming community nor does it help to raise the stature of the NAC. I do not want to go into it further. The trade union point of view is clear on it. We have been saying for years that the farming community should be represented on the NIEC so that that body could become a national economic council. There have been difficulties in the way and we appreciate that is so but we do not regard the NAC as a proper substitute for it.

I wish at this late stage to make an appeal to the Minister not to proceed with this legislation, to do the big thing and maybe by doing so improve relations with the farming community so that we might avoid in the autumn or winter of this year the sort of warfare we had last year which, as I have said, is not to the benefit of any of us. It only leads to forcing out the marginal farmers in the west, south west and north west. There are other Seanators, particularly those not committed to political Parties, who might give more force to this appeal to the Minister. I hope anything I have said will not make the situation worse. It is an appeal for the sake of patriotism—that in the serious situation we find ourselves we should step back, leave the measure until the autumn, see if relations can be improved in the meantime. This stepping back might be a generous indication by the Minister that he is anxious and prepared, if possible, to improve relations with the farming community.

I formally second the amendment and wish to endorse the appeal made by Senator Murphy. Perhaps it is asking a bit much of the Minister to accept the plea that has been made by Seanator Murphy in view of the stormy passage the Bill has had through the Dáil, but there is nothing to be lost at this stage by holding off until the autumn and having another look at the Bill then. The Minister said in his introductory statement that this Bill could have been introduced many years ago. It was not introduced many years ago and, perhaps, its timing now may not be the best.

I do not wish to particularise at this stage but I suggest the Bill as it stands is rather worthless. I am concerned and many members of the farming community are concerned with a section in the Bill aimed at indemnifying people selling their cattle in marts against any losses that might arise as a result of the marts going out of business. This has happened before with considerable loss to the farmers. However, if the Minister were to accede to the request in the amendment to defer consideration of the Bill until the autumn, with due consideration in the meantime, he might bring in a Bill then that would receive much more favourable comment in the Oireachtas and among the farming community.

The sentiments expressed by Senator Murphy are noble, laudable and patriotic but I have no doubt in my mind that they have fallen on deaf ears. Certainly, as far as the present Minister for Agriculture is concerned, the age of miracles has passed. I do not expect that the miracle will happen that the Minister will change his mind no matter what we say in this House. The only thing that will change the mind of the Minister is a decision in this House adverse to him and there are sufficient people in the House not committed to the Fianna Fáil Party who can make a decision which would change the course the Minister has embarked on.

On a point of order, before Senator O'Quigley gets into the thing and succeeds in raising the Minister's hackles, may I inquire is there a possibility that the Minister is prepared to accept the amendment moved by Senator Murphy? That would shorten the discussion.

I should like to hear others.

Senator O'Quigley may have other noble and laudable sentiments to express.

We must all be realists. We shall not change the mind of the Minister for Agriculture. The only thing that will do it is a vote in the House and there are sufficient people in the House not committed to the Fianna Fáil Party to do this. The 11 nominees of the Taoiseach, some of whom are not members of the Fianna Fáil Party, will, I hope, remember 1916 and what all that was about and vote against the Bill.

We remember it better than you.

When I have finished speaking there may be some people in this House who will think that 1916 and the fight for freedom and the Constitution and the Constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and the rights of citizens mean something. Either they mean something or they do not. If 1916 means anything, people who value freedom and who value the Constitutional safeguards provided in the Constitution will vote against the Bill.

You are fond of the Constitution.

Senator Murphy rightly tried to make an appeal to the Minister. That has quite clearly fallen on deaf ears and it is unrealistic for a moment to think that the Minister for Agriculture will be changed by words. The only thing the Minister or the Government understand is the change wrought by votes, whether in the ballot box or the Division Lobby.

It is an understatement to say that the Bill is an extremely controversial one and it is a great pity the Minister has not allowed some little time to elapse between the passage of the Bill in the Dáil in most unusual circumstances and its being debated here. The Government could have done that. They could have had the Second Reading of this Bill in September, and the House has only 90 days in which to hold up legislation in any event, so that the Minister must get his Bill under the Constitution after the lapse of 90 days from the date on which it came to this House from the Dáil. The Minister is going to win through even if the Seanad should decide that he ought not to get it here, because after the lapse of 90 days the Dáil can then decide that the Bill shall pass.

It has been suggested that majorities have rights. Of course, they have rights. It has also been suggested by a person who did hold some sway—I do not know whether he does any longer— with the Fianna Fáil Party that a majority has no right to do wrong. It seems to me quite clear that the majority in relation to this Bill has been using its power in the Dáil to do something that the whole community regards as wrong.

It is very relevant at this time to remember that one of the things for which the NFA were blamed during their protracted controversy with the Government and with two Ministers for Agriculture was that they had failed to keep on the right side of the law. They took power into their own hands and went out and did things that they ought not to have done. There were many people who said at that time that the NFA should have their battles fought out on the floor of Dáil Éireann, but the NFA never chose, for their own reasons, to confide in the political Parties or to entrust to different members of political Parties their arguments. They decided to go it alone, and in going it alone they fell foul of the law.

There are many people who think that their case could have been won by argument, talk and persuasion, and that eventually if there had not been some of the rather wild talk that was used on occasions they might have got public opinion on their side and compelled the Government to do the kind of things that they wanted. But we have now reached a situation in this country in which when the elected representatives of the people do what they are entitled to do, that is to oppose and continue to oppose merely by talk and not by breaking the law or by physical violence, where they did what they were sent to do, the Government used their machine majority and forced the Bill through. If that is the concept of democracy that the Government have it is time that the people wakened up to the fact that a machine majority is going to push through any Bill it likes whether it is good or not. There is no use, then, in blaming the NFA for having done what they did because they saw quite clearly and now see that to have representatives, representatives of the people, talking in Dáil Éireann is of no use against a Government and a machine majority that the Government are prepared to use.

I trust that in this House the Government have not got the support of sufficient Members to use any closure motions that they might have in mind. We in this House, I think, have a very good record, and we are entitled to take a legitimate pride as the second Chamber in Parliament in the manner in which we have handled legislation which came before us in the last two years. It is well to recall that on a variety of Bills even the present Minister for Agriculture felt bound to accept some of the amendments proposed in this House. On his own Housing Bill there were 27 amendments, some made by the Minister and others on the suggestion of this House. In the Criminal Procedure Bill we made ten amendments, in the Rent Restrictions Bill, 14; the Industrial Training Bill, 9; the Ground Rents Bill, 33; the Credit Union Bill, 6; the Diseases of Animals Bill, 7; and the Succession Bill, 41. On the Extradition Bill, which would never have got off the ground but for an amendment suggested by the Opposition, we made 11. I hope that this record will be borne in mind by the Government when they come to consider the Committee Stage of this Bill. When they come to give an opportunity to the Members of this House to consider this measure I hope that they would want this measure considered upon its merits or demerits, if they are not hell bound to put it through no matter what the Members of this House think.

This House is rather an appropriate place in which to discuss this Bill, because through the wisdom of the framers of the Constitution we have in this House, in addition to people like Senator Murphy who represents Labour and myself who was elected on the Cultural and Educational Panel and Senator Nash on the same Panel, 11 representatives specially chosen on the Agricultural Panel, and some of those are direct nominees of the various agricultural organisations. I hope that those Members on all sides of the House, particularly on the Fianna Fáil side, will consider their obligations to the organisations that nominated them, for I do not know of any organisation that has supported this Bill or is in favour of it. I hope, too, that the 11 nominees of the Taoiseach will give particular consideration to the issues involved in this Bill.

We are here under the pretence— let us not say under any illusion—that this Bill is of urgent importance. It is not a Bill of urgent importance. That cannot be stated too often. There is a Bill that I would consider of much more urgent importance, and we have not heard a word about it. That is a Health Bill which the present Minister for Education, Deputy O'Malley, undertook on 31st March, 1966, in Dáil Éireann to bring in for the purpose of implementing the proposals on health contained in the Government's White Paper. The Minister for Education is the Minister of the Government who on television said, when he was interviewed on his White Paper, that there were certain dispensary doctors in this country who were treating their patients like pigs. I do not know of any prosecution that has been taken by the Minister for Education or the Minister for Health against the doctors who are treating their patients like pigs.

That matter is hardly relevant.

It is extremely relevant to a Livestock Marts Bill, because we are concerned about pigs but not about people being treated like pigs to the certain knowledge of the Minister for Health who is now the Minister for Education. I want to point out to the people of this country that it is a sham to say that there is urgency connected with this Bill, that there is some urgency connected with the treatment of livestock in livestock marts, when we have according to the Minister for Education—and the Government must accept responsibility for this—people who are being treated like pigs. Those are the words of the Minister. We are more concerned about animals than about people. We have sunk to a very low level when this is the order of priorities of the Fianna Fáil Government.

These are only preliminary remarks by way of objection to this Bill. The fundamental defect in this Bill is that it is an intrusion into the affairs of people quite unnecessarily, and, worse than that, having sought the power to give licences to people, their continuance in industry or in a particular business then becomes dependent on the will of a Minister of State. That is a power which no parliament should give to a Minister of State, and if it has been done in the past, it is something which ought not to have been done. It is the kind of thing which I, for one, always inveigh against in this House—the assumption of unnecessary control by Ministers of State to the exclusion of the courts. I think that is bad law and bad public policy and that is a fundamental reason why we ought to oppose this Bill.

When it comes to citing cases like the Planning and Development Act we all know, and nobody knows it better than the present Minister for Agriculture who was Minister for Local Government, that the decisions in relation to the Planning and Development Act are not ministerial decisions. In the main they are decisions of civil servants. Where people foolishly think that they are going to get a decision from a Minister for Local Government or a Minister for Health or a Minister for anything else, in fact what they are getting is the decision of a civil servant. There should be no doubt whatever about that. Any decision that might be taken by a Minister under this Bill if it were to become law would be a decision based——

On a point of order, is the amendment being put first before the Second Reading Stage? It seems to me that the amendment is to settle the question of whether there will be a Second Reading Stage or not. I am raising the question as to whether we are now on the amendment or on the Second Reading.

The two matters go together but the amendment will be treated as a separate issue at the end.

The Senator is under a misapprehension. The amendment is to prevent a Second Reading Stage but not to prevent a Second Reading.

As I have said, it is bad public policy that we should entrust powers of that kind to a Minister of State. I am not prepared to entrust to a Minister of the Fine Gael Party any more than to a Minister of the Fianna Fáil Party, but less to a Minister of the Fianna Fáil Party, powers such as are contained in this Bill because I do not think that the livelihood of any individual, the continuance in business of any company or group of people should be dependent on the decision of a Minister of State. Our Constitution has decided that these are matters which should be determined not by people who are involved in the pressures of many other forms of activity but should be resolved by courts established by law. I do not see any fundamental difference between the revocation of a licence to continue as a livestock mart owner by the Minister for Agriculture and the revocation or withdrawal of the licence of a solicitor to practise as a lawyer. In both cases the net result is the same. Both are out of business. I cannot understand what form of legal advice the Government have got if they ever looked for it as to the constitutionality of this particular Bill.

The House will recall perhaps that on other occasions I have referred to a decision of the Supreme Court as to the power of bodies other than the courts to deal with a matter of this kind. Under the Solicitors Act of 1954 power was given to the Disciplinary Committee of the Incorporated Law Society, which was a body consisting of lawyers, to strike a solicitor off the rolls. There was the right of appeal from the Disciplinary Committee to the Chief Justice. When the matter came before the Chief Justice, who was Chief Justice Conor Maguire, he had this to say at page 249 of the 1960 Irish Reports which I think is very relevant to get on the record of the House.

I am of opinion that the question whether a solicitor is to be allowed to continue to practise his profession is a justifiable controversy. By its adjudication the Committee purports to decide the controversy in a final manner and if necessary its decision will be enforced by the authority of the State. The fact that there is a right of appeal (s.23) to the Courts does not take away from the finality of the decision. If the existence of a right of appeal were sufficient to deprive the exercise of its powers by a tribunal not composed of judges of the character of an exercise of judicial power this would have been a simple answer to the contention in Lynham and Butler ...

The Supreme Court afterwards after mature consideration of the case again came to the conclusion that the power to affect a person in his livelihood or in his property was power of a judicial character and belongs only to the courts. I cannot see how it can be said in the light of that decision that this Bill, which will enable a Minister of State even with an appeal to a barrister of ten years standing, is constitutional because the decision of the Minister of State or of the barrister of ten years standing is a determination as to whether a person is to be entitled to continue in business; whether he is to be entitled to continue with his way of life or not. It seems to me that this particular measure will heel over when it comes before the Supreme Court as I think the Marts Association have indicated it will. It behoves this House not to consider as boring the passage that I have read. It is the duty of this House under the Constitution not to enact any legislation that is unconstitutional or repugnant to the Constitution. Therefore, quite clearly it seems to me that we are giving power to the Minister which no Minister should have and we are giving to him a power which properly belongs to the Judiciary which was established by a free people under the Constitution.

There is another practical objection to the exercise by a Minister of State not only of this power but of similar powers. The gravest exception has been taken by people up and down the country of all shades of political opinion to the powers which are now wielded by the Minister for Local Government under the Local Government Planning and Development Act, 1963. A variety of people—solicitors among them—have been surprised to find that when a planning authority say: "No you cannot build there on that, you must only build subject to certain conditions"—that there is no appeal except to the Minister for Local Government and that appeal in many cases has been conducted in such a way as to prove entirely unsatisfactory and that, again, was proved unsatisfactory in the view of solicitors of all shades of political opinion. This is the kind of measure that increases the anxiety that people have about an organisation such as Taca. This organisation, a Chathaoirleach, which has been establisted by the Fianna Fáil Party——

As if he did not know.

They have a licence.

The fear of people is that it is the Taca men who will be treated as the Minister says "with reason and commonsense." The Bill will be operated with reason and commonsense for the Taca men.

If you have a Fine Gael card in your pocket you will get the job.

I hope the Senator who constantly interrupts me will speak in defence of this Bill.

I shall be delighted.

That will be something to look forward to.

I am afraid Senator O'Quigley is asking for interruptions.

They will be treated with reason and commonsense. That is the fear when the discretion lies with the Minister of State. I cannot give instances of what has happened in the past because when I referred to those matters on the Appropriation Bill last December there was a ruling made which I respect.

This Bill is bad for a third reason. It is bad because it strikes at the initiative and the enterprise of the people who established these marts without any assistance good, bad or indifferent from the Government or from any Government Department.


Hear, hear.

And then closed down.

What about the factory on the Naas Road, the Potez Factory that never even opened? What about the factory in Galway that closed down?

That is the sort of speech calculated to do damage to the economy.

If the Senator wants to talk about this let him speak later.

Perhaps Senators will address the Chair.

They should address the Chair.

That is a reflection on the Chair.


You can regard my remarks as directed to the amendment. I am saying that this Bill is bad for a third reason because it strikes at the co-operative movement in this country. I remember one of those mouthing speeches one always gets from Fianna Fáil Ministers at functions where the present Minister for Finance, as Minister for Agriculture, was talking about the value of the co-operative movement. He stated that the future of agriculture depended to a great extent on the co-operative movement. When the co-operative movement got going and established livestock marts the only assistance they get from the Government is that they will be subject to control because they have become too powerful for the Government.

We are bound to oppose this Bill for that reason especially in the light of the fact that no reason in the wide earthly world has been advanced for requiring licences in order to continue operating or to establish a livestock mart. I want to point to an analogy in this direction. We have thousands of offices around the country. We have offices built by big foreign combines along the canals and in O'Connell Street in Dublin. All of those are operating and they are inhabited by human beings who live and work in them. How did we deal with the problem of bad office accommodation in this country? We did not require people to get a licence in order to open an office. That applies only to betting offices.

We did not go that distance but we have in this Parliament regulated the standards of cleanliness, hygiene and the accommodation to be given to people who work in offices. We did that in the Office Premises Act, 1958, and we have provided penalties for people who do not measure up to the standards laid down in the Bill and under regulations in the office accommodation they have. Is there not an exact parallel between the places where people work and where cattle are kept? There is no need whatever to require people to have licences if you want to ensure standards. That is only necessary if you want to have revenge on the people who own livestock marts or offices, if you want to introduce them into this.

The parallel is exactly the same. In the case of offices we are concerned with human beings. There was a great necessity for the Office Premises Act, 1958, and it was not a Fianna Fáil Minister who introduced it. It was the late Deputy Norton who as a Minister in the inter-Party Government from 1954 to 1957 introduced that measure. Consequently, we should not support this Bill because there is no need whatever for licences in order to ensure the observance of the standards which will be prescribed in section 6 of the Bill. If the Government were concerned about some people not having access to the livestock marts all that could be remedied by a Bill of two sections making it an offence, punishable with whatever fine you like, or a term of imprisonment, for people to refuse for good reasons to receive or try to sell cattle in a livestock mart. That would have got rid of all the difficulties and there would have been public support for a Bill of this kind.

Tried to sell.

That is the operative thing in those days. This Bill, let us face it, is not supported by the majority of people in the Fianna Fáil Party. It certainly is not supported by Senator Nash who in the Incorporated Law Society was one of the foremost speakers and one of the most vehement in his condemnation of the provisions of the Bill. If some people try to suggest that the condemnation contained in the statement issued by the Incorporated Law Society, as published in the papers of the 8th July, 1967, was stimulated and sponsored by Deputy P. O'Donnell, as president, they have another thought coming to them. Let them consult with Senator Nash and ask him how vigorously he opposed the Bill within the confines of the Incorporated Law Society. That is not a secret. Is Senator Nash, who knows the Law Society nominated him on the Cultural and Educational Panel, going to go back on what he said there? Is he going to support this Bill which has been condemned holus-bolus by the Incorporated Law Society? This is the gentleman who comes in and among other things pretends he is independent. Let him be independent on this measure and come out and vote against this Bill, not merely abstain. We do not want cowards. Let him come out and vote against this Bill.

It is hardly in order, particularly in the absence of Senator Nash, to accuse him of being a coward. He has not any opportunity of answering the allegations made against him.

Let him keep on talking.

If Senator Nash does not grace the House with his presence, I cannot help it. I understand the situation which Senator Nash is in. He is in a very uncomfortable position and I do not pity him. You cannot have it both ways. In the end you are bound to be caught out. Let him take his stand now. If he does not do so, we will see whether the Incorporated Law Society will nominate him the next time.

This Bill, like the Succession Bill, has been condemned by every organisation that has spoken about it. It is in the same category of Bills as the Succession Bill introduced by Deputy Haughey when he was Minister for Justice. Let us not forget that the Government on occasions lose their heads completely. It is relevant to recall that the Succession Bill was withdrawn eventually. This may be very relevant on the Marts Bill.

Everything is relevant except the marts.

There is a precedent for withdrawing this Bill. The first Succession Bill was withdrawn by the Government. That was the Bill which proposed to prevent a man who died leaving £900 from leaving the £900 to his widow. That was the proposal in that piece of enlightened legislation. He had to leave £300 to his children, who might well be in England, grown up and provided for and there was only one-third for his widow.

With all due respect, I fail to see how this is relevant on the Marts Bill.

I shall point out how relevant it is. That Bill, as conceived and introduced in Dáil Éireann, was wrong and it was condemned by everybody in the same way as this Bill is. The Government got sense and they withdrew it. Senator Murphy has made a plea that this Bill should be withdrawn. I am suggesting that there is a good precedent that the Government might follow, that this Bill is as ill-conceived and as ill-bred as the Succession Bill was. The Minister should follow the precedent of his colleague in the Government and withdraw this Bill. We all know that the Minister is in trouble with his colleagues.

The backbenchers can talk on that subject when they are outside this House.

On What subject?

The dissension that exists.

We have heard expressions from the Fine Gael Party that they want ample time to discuss this Bill. The are getting plenty of time but to continue on these lines lends itself to interrupted discussion. If Senator O'Quigley wishes to make a political statement——

He is entitled to.

He has not said one word on this Bill.

That is a reflection on the Chair. This Bill has been condemned by the Incorporated Law Society and by the Irish Livestock Marts Association, even with its latest meagre amendments. It has been condemned by the junior chamber of commerce in Ireland, an unlikely body, one would think, to be interested in a Livestock Marts Bill. It helps us to understand the agitation in the public mind when a body such as a junior chamber of commerce should have thought it necessary to make a statement on the Bill.

And the present Constitution was condemned by Fine Gael.

It is now the law of this country and I accept the will of the people. There were aspects of that Constitution that were condemned by Fine Gael but the vast majority of the provisions of the Constitution are a straight reproduction of the 1922 Constitution.

As a lawyer you are a dumb bell; you are a dope.

Any time the Leader of the House wishes to sit with me I shall tell him about it.

Read the 1922 document of slavery.

The Constitution was so well drawn up that we had to bring in a dictionary and theEncyclopaedia Britannica to interpret it.


This Bill has been condemned by the Incorporated Law Society. In theIrish Press of the 8th July there is a statement which cannot be controverted. This is what it says:

What is sought in the present Bill is to enable the Minister for Agriculture to determine the rights of individual citizens to engage in business without any appeal to the Courts. This is a dangerous power to entrust to any Minister or Department.

That is the sentiment of the Fine Gael Party. That is the sentiment of the junior chambers of commerce and that is the sentiment of many people in the Fianna Fáil Party.

You are all wrong.

It has been condemned by the Civil Liberties Association of Ireland who are not always wrong. They kept up a good fight in relation to the Liam O'Mahoney Tribunal and eventually forced a change of decision on the part of a Minister of State. Again, I observe the Kilkenny County Committee of Agriculture, condemned the Bill and the Lone Star Ranger who got up to propose it did not have a seconder. Does that not indicate that the Fianna Fáil members on the County Committee of Agriculture in Kilkenny did not support this Bill?

It also points to the fact that there were not sufficient members on the council.

I am afraid the Leader of the House is losing touch with statistics if that is so. This Bill has also been condemned by the daily newspapers, save theIrish Press. In that paper was a long article by Séamus Brady telling us about how fairs were conducted in times long gone by. I have no editorial dealing with the Livestock Marts Bill from the Irish Press or its Sunday sister which has ceased to give our view on what has been said.

You had a four-column advertisement last week thanking the electors.

Our mission is to the Fianna Fáil readers.

We are looking for replacements; we will get them.

The manner in which this Bill was handled in the Dáil and the lack of support for it ought to fill everybody with apprehension. I want to point to the fact that this Bill establishes what in my view is a dangerous precedent. The Minister referred to Bills enacted in 1920 and in 1937, and various others in the 1950s, as precedents. This Bill can be used as a precedent for the most dangerous kind of licensing and control by what would be regarded by the Fianna Fáil Government as monopolies. Let us remember that one of the distinct features of a democracy is a free press and freedom to talk in the Houses of Parliament at length. That is one of the distinct features of a democracy. It is done in England, where they have all-night sittings. It is done in America. That is good democracy for England and America and it should be equally good for Ireland. Let the newspapers of this country take note of what might well happen. Some day the General Secretary of the Fianna Fáil Party may send in an advertisement to a paper thanking, or abusing, the electors for not doing something and they will say: "We will not print that."

Newspapers are a business concern.

So are livestock marts. There is nothing to prevent a Fianna Fáil Government with its machine majority bringing in legislation to control the amount of money spent on newspapers, to control the size of newspapers and control the kind of advertisements they print.

That is not in this Bill.

You do not understand.

There is nothing to prevent, if this Bill is right which it is not, a Fianna Fáil Government equally bringing in legislation to say that all newspapers shall be licensed, that existing ones shall be licensed and that the Minister shall control the size of the newspapers, the size of advertisements, and so on. There will be no resort to the courts. If these newspapers are closed down or their licences withdrawn there will be no right of appeal to the courts. That is the kind of situation we have. TheIrish Times in an editorial of 8th July refers to the Minister: “As a roused Minister runs riot”. The editorial is headed “Star Chamber” and it refers to this Bill as the product of a roused Minister running riot. If you have a Minister running riot because he does not like something that has been done, he can just as well bring in legislation licensing newspapers and that would include daily newspapers, magazines and so on, as livestock marts. If that happens, the Minister could tell us that the Bill relating to newspapers would be operated with reasonable commonsense. I am not prepared to approve the granting of powers to licence livestock marts to the Minister under this Bill any more than I would approve the licensing of newspapers by the Minister for Justice or the Minister for Education. Both are wrong.

I want to make more detailed reference to what is contained in the Bill. The Minister quite clearly brought in this Bill in a spirit of recrimination, in order to have the last word on the NFA, and he was lavish in the fines he would impose on them. The first figure which comes into his mind—£1,000—for people who contravene the regulations. The Minister loves thousands; when the letters were being published in Roscommon during the bye-election his imaginary figure was a thousand and the thousand turned out to be one letter. In this Bill he has had second thoughts about his magical figure of "thousand" and he has changed the thousand to a mere £500. Apart from that, he has left the penalties in the Bill, substantially as they are. But the Minister has made a further concession in the most meagre way to public opinion, to press opinion and to the representations made by a variety of organisations. He has introduced an appeal, if you please, to a practising barrister of at least ten years standing. Let me say at once that nobody has a greater respect for practising barristers of ten years standing than myself.

The Senator is wonderful.

But I do not think appeals to practising barristers of ten years standing represent any kind of safeguard for the constitutional rights of the citizens of this country. Why not an appeal to a district justice? How can a practising barrister of ten years standing be any better informed on the merits or demerits of an application to revoke a licence than a district justice? What particular qualifications has the practising barrister of ten years standing which the district justice has not?

Is the Senator suggesting that a district justice would have more standing than a practising barrister of ten years standing?

I want to know what peculiar qualifications does a practising barrister of ten years practice have to adjudicate on whether a particular livestock mart ought or ought not be built or whether a licence ought or ought not be revoked that a district justice or a circuit court judge would not have. That is a question I should like the Minister to answer because the answer will determine the acceptability or otherwise of the amendments he has made to section 3. I cannot see any satisfactory answer forthcoming. The only thing I do say—and I say it without hesitation—is that a practising barrister of ten years standing is not the person to whom I would be prepared to entrust my rights as a citizen to continue in business, or to continue in practice as a barrister, or to do anything else, because he is not possessed of the independence beyond reach of corruption or preferment—that is the difference between the practising barrister of ten years standing, taken out for a few days to arbitrate on a political decision by a political Minister, and the person in the district court who does not care a fiddle-de-dee about a Minister of State.

I think the Senator should have a chat with the Fine Gael Whip in the Dáil who certainly did seem to have some views on this in regard to district justices.

Only certain district justices.

Therefore, all district justices are not competent.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary setting a lead in the interruptions?

Not setting a lead, merely answering a question.

I am not prepared —and I will not be brought along these lines—to question the capacity, integrity or anything else of the judiciary in this country because they are beyond reproach and, if other people have views about certain decisions on certain occasions, that is a different day's work. It does not affect the principle and does not affect the institution of the judiciary. The Supreme Court have decided that what the people enacted at the request of a Fianna Fáil Government under their Constitution is that a man's right to continue in business, a man's right whether he is to be entitled to certain property or not, is not to be determined by disciplinary committees of the Incorporated Law Society or barristers of ten years standing who have not got judicial status. The Supreme Court have decided—in the O'Farrell and Gorman case—that this is the function of the judiciary and that is what the people have decided under the Constitution.

I should be more than surprised if this Bill—if it is enacted into law—is not found to be unconstitutional purely on the basis of the O'Farrell and Gorman decision. Thank God there is the ultimate protection for the people of this country against the unscrupulous use by a Government of the majority in the Legislature of the function of the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the legislation enacted. Thank God for that; that was contained in the 1922 Constitution also.

The Senator should be ashamed to mention it.

Amendment No. 6 by the Minister is at least this much of an admission, that the original Bill, as drafted, was wrong. But he is not prepared to go the distance of doing what everybody—the press, the Incorporated Law Society, the Civil Liberties Association and everybody else has urged on him—merely to use the existing machinery — the courts — to determine matters of this kind.

If, as I say, a practising barrister of ten years' standing is able to determine these matters, even more so—and with greater certainty of a correct and proper decision in law—can justices of the district court or circuit court; there is no reason whatever for excluding their jurisdiction from this Bill.

Finally, I want to say this. Out of evil cometh good is an old saying and I think this Bill, when all to be said on it has been said, will have done this much good. It will have focused public opinion on the type of legislation enacted in this country with increasing frequency in recent years, the type of legislation which ties up power, the power as to whether people keep rights and privileges in Ministers of State, with no appeal to the courts of law from the Ministers of State. Examples of that, of course, are to be found in the Social Welfare Acts which notwithstanding all that was said by the trade unions in their Report on the Workmen's Compensation Commission, operate in a highly unsatisfactory manner as far as the persons within the provisions of the Act are concerned. Again, it is the received opinion of those who know how the Workmen's Compensation Acts operated—and they required some amendment—that the position of the workmen under the new provisions replaced by the Occupational Injuries Act, will operate greatly to the detriment——

The Senator is a little wide of either the motion or the amendment.

I am glad the Chair agrees with me.

Acting Chairman

I trust the Senator will bear it in mind.

This Bill focuses attention on legislation of that kind through which power is being given to Ministers of State, with no appeal to an independent outside body. There is the Acquisition of Land (Compensation) Act of 1919 which I spoke of during discussion on the Mines and Minerals Act and in relation to the acquisition of land under the Housing Acts. This is legislation which is all the wrong way and leaves the door open to abuse and corruption. The Local Government (Planning and Development) Act which contains provisions similar to this Bill, leaving absolute power in the Minister's hands, was described to me by a very learned person the other day as a grafter's paradise and this Bill is a grafter's paradise on a smaller scale because it is not as extensive in its ambit. For those reasons I ask the House to reject it.

There has been raised during the past couple of months a fantastic and, I am afraid, purely artificial storm of political excitement over the Bill. The Minister and the Government, particularly the Minister, have been accused of dictatorship, of conducting a vindictive vendetta against the NFA. It has been suggested that the Minister wants the power to run all the marts of the country and to be able to decide, merely by his own personal whim, who is to carry them on. The Fine Gael tactics—we had another example of them through Senator O'Quigley just now—apparently quite deliberately have been designed to conceal from the public what is actually in the Bill. In the Dáil they carried on a prolonged filibuster without ever discussing in any sort of constructive way the terms of the Bill. We had the same now from Senator O'Quigley who spoke for a considerable time without adverting at all, except for brief passing moments, to what is in the Bill.

The whole argument was that the Bill is a new and disreputable innovation, giving unprecedented dictatorial powers to the Minister which had never been sought by any Minister before him. Senator O'Quigley said the Bill was establishing an extremely dangerous precedent. I hope the Senator, who is now leaving, will not stay away too long because I shall have much more to say to him and I should prefer to say it when he is here. What is the truth about all this? This Bill, as Senator O'Quigley knows perfectly well, follows very closely the precedents set in legislation of this kind during the past 40 years or more, and in certain respects it goes further than any previous Act has done in safeguarding the rights of individuals who feel they have been unfairly treated by the Department.

Instead of all the wild and utterly unsubstantiated charges made against the Bill, let us consider exactly what it does. We have heard a great deal about the provisions of sections 2 and 3. Section 2 says that a person shall not carry on the business of a livestock mart at any place unless there is for the time being a licence in force in respect of that place. The following section says that the Minister may at his discretion grant or refuse to grant a licence.

Why, asks Senator Rooney. What is so new or strange about this? Senator Rooney, I know, is an innocent soul who believes what he is told by his Fine Gael colleagues but Senator O'Quigley and a considerable number of the other members of the Fine Gael Party are lawyers of some eminence who know perfectly well what the legislation of this country does in respect of this type of thing.

Is it in order to call a Senator a liar?

Acting Chairman

What he said was "lawyer".

Sometimes I agree with the Senator.

Acting Chairman

Does the Senator wish to have a ruling on it?

I am trying to keep this on a high plane. As far back as 1924, the Dairy Produce Act laid down a complex and far-reaching system of licences. Part III of that Act provided that the Minister should keep no fewer than five different registers: one, a register of creameries, two, a register of cream separating stations, three, a register of manufacturing exporters, four, a register of butter factories, five, a register of non-manufacturing exporters. Before any of these businesses was allowed to be carried on, the Act lays down that the Minister must be satisfied that the provisions of the Act or regulations under the Act have been complied with.

That legislation was brought in more than 40 years ago by the Cumann na nGaedheal Government, by Deputy Patrick Hogan who, Fine Gael speakers never tire of assuring us, was the best Minister for Agriculture the country has ever had. Senator O'Quigley very colourfully told us that this Bill strikes at the co-operative movement of this country. If there is any truth in that, who struck the first blow? Deputy Patrick Hogan did, with his five registers. Of course the thing is just a ludicrous distortion of the facts. In 1928, Fine Gael brought in the Creameries Act, section 13 of which provided that it should not be lawful for any person to do certain things without a licence from the Minister. There was the Pigs and Bacon Act of 1935 which provides for the granting of licences to pork butchers and factories and under section 24, the Minister has absolute discretion to grant or refuse to grant licences.

In 1947 came the Poultry Hatcheries Act under which the granting of a licence or approval for a supply farm is in the Minister's absolute discretion. The Livestock (Artificial Insemination) Act gave the Minister absolute discretion in respect of the giving of licences to artificial insemination stations. The first two Acts were passed under Cumann na nGaedheal Governments, the last two under Fianna Fáil. Then came two Acts under the second Coalition Government at a time when Deputy Dillon was Minister for Agriculture. Part II of the Seed Production Act, 1955, lays it down that those engaged in the business of producing, processing or selling seeds must apply to the Minister for a licence which the Minister in his discretion may grant or refuse to grant. In the same year again under Deputy James Dillon as Minister for Agriculture came the Fertilisers, Feeding Stuffs and Mineral Mixtures Act, under section 5 of which the Minister can restrict the manufacture or sale of fertilisers, feeding stuffs, compound feeding stuffs or mineral mixtures to persons holding a licence issued by him. Subsection (3) (a) of section 5 provides that the Minister may at his discretion grant or refuse to grant a licence.

In all of these cases, of course, as is also provided in this Bill, the Minister may lay down the conditions under which he will grant a licence.

Very wide powers have also been given at different times to Ministers for the regulation of exports. The Control of Exports (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1956 gave power to the Minister for Industry and Commerce in section 2 to prohibit the export of any goods whatever, other than agricultural or fishery products, except under licence. Section 3 reads as follows:

(1) the Minister may issue or refuse a licence at his discretion; (2) the Minister may attach to a licence such conditions as he shall think proper and shall specify in the licence; (3) the Minister may revoke a licence.

This Coalition Act followed closely the provisions of an earlier Act, the Agriculture and Fishery Products (Regulation of Export) Act, 1947 which was passed by a Fianna Fáil Government and gave the Minister for Agriculture equivalent powers in respect of agricultural and fishery products. So all Parties were in agreement that it was reasonable to give licensing powers of this kind to the Minister. There was no suggestion at any time that there should be an appeal to the courts or that this procedure was unconstitutional or, indeed, that it was in any way undesirable.

There has also been a great deal of criticism of the Bill with regard to the provisions in it for the revocation of licences. In particular it has been claimed that in such cases there should be an appeal to the courts, and there is always, of course, the implication that this is something new and unprecedented. In fact, of course, if only Fine Gael and other critics of the Bill, not all of them in politics, would do a little research into existing legislation they would see that in this respect also this Livestock Marts Bill follows very closely the practice of more than 40 years. Again, taking the Dairy Produce Act 1924, section 22 of that Act says that the Minister may at any time cancel the registration of any premises if he is satisfied—and here I quote subsection 3(d)—"that there has been any contravention, whether by way of commission or of omission, of this Act or of any regulations made thereunder on the premises".

The Pigs and Bacon Act follows this Cumann na nGaedheal precedent almost exactly. Section 30 (1) (9) says that the Minister may revoke a licence if satisfied "that in the opinion of the Minister there has been a contravention whether by way of commission or omission by such licence of any of the provisions of this Act or of any regulations made under this Act."

A great deal of excitement has been created by the Opposition, and by Fine Gael in particular, with regard to section 3 subsection (6) of this Bill, which amongst other things provides for the holding of an inquiry at the request of a licensee before a licence is revoked. It has been said, and this also recently by Senator O'Quigley, that this proposal to appoint a barrister of ten years' standing is a retrograde step and, indeed, a slur on the courts. It is, of course, nothing of the kind. It is merely a recognition of the obvious fact that the courts are not designed or intended to deal with the detailed regulation of the country's economic life. Matters of detailed administration are not suitable questions for court procedure. In any event, this particular provision in this Bill for an inquiry has, like so much else in the Bill, already been in existence for very many years. Here, again, the whole procedure originated with Deputy Hogan, Cumann na nGaedheal Minister for Agriculture, in the Dairy Produce Act 1924. Section 22, subsection (4) says that a fortnight's notice of the cancellation of a licence must be given and the Minister must consider any representations made by the proprietor of the premises concerned within that time. Further, the Minister may, if he thinks fit, cause an inquiry to be held. I should like the Seanad to notice that, unlike the provisions in this Bill under which an inquiry must be held by a barrister of at least ten years' standing, there is no such provision laid down in the 1924 Act. The person carrying out the inquiry under that Act could be anyone without any qualifications at all. Also, I think it is worth mentioning that the present Bill provides that an inquiry must be held if the licensee asks for it, whereas under the 1924 Act the holding of an inquiry was merely at the discretion of the Minister.

The Pigs and Bacon Act, 1935 also provides for the revocation of licences, similarly to the Cumann na nGaedheal Dairy Produce Act, but there are some additional safeguards in the 1935 Act for individual rights, as one would expect from a Fianna Fáil Government. Section 30 subsection 3 of the Pigs and Bacon Act says that before revocation of a licence notice must be served on the licensee and the licence cannot be revoked for a month after this. The earlier Dairy Produce Act only provided for a fortnight's notice. The 1935 Act increased the length of notice to a month, and in the present Bill again it is a month. Section 30 subsection (3) of the Pigs and Bacon Act says that if the licensee within seven days demands an inquiry the Minister shall appoint a person being a practising barrister of at least ten years' standing to hold such inquiry. That is, of course, exactly the same provision as is contained in the present Bill. It is a considerable advance on the original scheme laid down in the 1924 Dairy Produce Act. In the first place the Minister must hold an inquiry on demand. In the second place it must be held by a barrister of at least ten years' standing, whereas under the Cumann na nGaedheal Act the inquiry could be held by a person with no qualifications whatever.

When we get on to the legislation of the Coalition period we find that the safeguards for individual rights now begin to disappear altogether. Take, for example, the Seed Production Act, 1955. Section 13 of that Act says: "The Minister may at any time revoke, or vary the conditions of, a licence, but before doing so he shall give not less than seven days' notice of his intention to the licensee and shall consider any representations made to him by the licensee within that time." In other words, seven days' notice is all that was allowed by Deputy Dillon as against a month in this Bill. There was to be no inquiry of any kind. Least of all was there any question of an appeal to the courts. And, of course, Senator O'Quigley was a Member of this House at that time, and Senator O'Quigley came into this House and advocated, I have no doubt with his usual enthusiasm, the provisions of the Seed Production Act, 1955.

Another Act passed by Deputy Dillon while he was the Coalition Minister for Agriculture was even more abrupt in its terms. This was the Fertilisers, Feeding Stuffs, and Mineral Mixtures Act of 1955. Having provided that the Minister may at his discretion grant or refuse to grant a licence, or attach any conditions to the licence that he may think proper, the Act goes on to say baldly that the Minister may revoke any licence. There is no notice required at all in this case, no inquiry, no provision for any representations from the licensee, no appeal to the courts, nothing.

Fianna Fáil approved of that.

Senator O'Quigley brought it into this House, and Senator O'Quigley said here today, if I have got him down right, that no Minister of State should have power to revoke a licence. He backed in this House and put through the House a Bill which gave the Minister power to revoke licences without any of the safeguards contained in this Bill.

We come now to the present Bill. Not only do we find that the provisions with regard to revocation are more in favour of the licensee than was originally envisaged in 1924 by Deputy Hogan, but are also vastly more favourable to the rights of the individual than the dictatorial measures brought in by Deputy Dillon and backed by Senator O'Quigley. In subsection (7) of section 3 of this Bill there is a completely new and vital safeguard which does not appear in any other Act and which it is safe to say would make it quite impossible for this or any other Minister to misuse his powers of revocation. This subsection reads:

Whenever the Minister revokes a licence, he shall cause a statement of his reasons for doing so to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.

Would any Minister who, as Fine Gael and the Opposition in general have alleged, was anxious to pursue a vendetta against a particular organisation have introduced a completely new provision of this kind which makes it quite impossible for him to revoke any licence under this Bill without publishing his reasons in full in the form of a statement laid before the Dáil and Seanad?

Another great to-do has been made about the powers given to Department inspectors under section 7 of this Bill. These powers, again, are alleged to be new, unprecedented and an example of what is described as the anxiety of Fianna Fáil Governments to trample on the rights of individuals. This suggestion like so much else that has been said about this Bill is simply ridiculous. Every Act that has ever been passed dealing with the regulation of agricultural produce has had to include provisions of this kind and some of them in the past have gone much further than anything that is contained in the present Bill.

Again we can start away back in 1924 with the Dairy Produce Act of Deputy Hogan. Section 4 subsection (1) of that Act provides that any inspector may at all reasonable times enter any premises upon which dairy produce is manufactured for sale, and may carry out inspections. Under the next subsection anyone obstructing or impeding the inspector is guilty of an offence.

Under the Pigs and Bacon Act of 1935 there are similar provisions for penalties for obstructing inspectors, failure to produce records, and so on.

Section 21 of the Poultry Hatcheries Act, 1947, again provides that an inspector may enter any premises, and there is a £50 fine for obstructing or impeding an inspector.

The Fertilisers Feeding Stuffs and Mineral Mixtures Act of 1955 also states that an authorised officer may enter and inspect any premises, and there are penalties for anyone who obstructs or interferes with an inspector.

The provisions of section 7 of this present Bill with regard to inspection are in exact conformity with those in numerous other Acts passed over the last 40 years and which have never caused any difficulty. It is simply ridiculous to suggest, as has been suggested by members of the Opposition up and down the country over the past couple of months, that the Minister will use the Department inspectors to terrorise farmers. There are no powers of inspection in this Bill which have not been included time and time again in other Acts over the past 40 years. I am sorry Senator O'Quigley is not here at the moment because I want to say that there is certainly nothing in this Bill that even remotely approaches the fantastically punitive powers given to himself and Deputy Dillon in the Seed Production Act of 1955. It is worth while considering some of the provisions of that Act, provisions which were put through this House not so very long ago by Senator O'Quigley and the other Senators who supported the Government at that time. Section 16 subsection (3) of the Seed Production Act states that: "where plants are growing in any land contrary to this section" an offence is committed. An inspector may serve notice on the farmer telling him to destroy the plants. In the event of his failing to comply with this notice subparagraph (c) sets out what then happens to the unfortunate farmer; "... without prejudice to prosecution for failure to do so, an inspector may, with such assistants, vehicles and equipment as he considers necessary, enter on the lands and destroy the plants or render them harmless." Horse, foot and artillery! This military operation is not the end of it for the unfortunate farmer. Even after this military invasion carried out by a host of inspectors, assistants, vehicles and equipment there is more to come. The very next subsection of this Fine Gael Act of Senator O'Quigley makes this farmer liable to the Minister for all the costs involved. Then we have a really fascinating subsection. Subsection (4) (b) of section 16 reads:

In any proceedings under this subsection, a certificate, purporting to be under the hand of an officer of the Minister authorised in that behalf by the Minister, certifying the amount of the costs and expenses shall be evidence of that amount, and it shall not be necessary to prove the signature of the officer, or that he was, in fact, such officer, or so authorised.

Let us consider what happens. First of all, the poor farmer's land is invaded by inspectors, assistants, vehicles and equipment. This army proceeds to destroy his growing plants or to render them harmless, whatever that means. Then he is dragged into court and made to pay all the costs of the invasion though, of course, he is not allowed to dispute the amount of these costs or to claim that the invasion was unlawful or that the inspectors, assistants, vehicles and equipment were unauthorised. Oh no! Such is the Fine Gael respect for our law courts that in this instance they turn them into a rubber stamp with no power to do a thing except to take the word of the inspector that he was an authorised inspector and that the full amount of the debt was due as claimed by him.

Even this is not the end for the farmer. He has had his land invaded, his crops destroyed, and he has paid the costs of the invasion without being given any chance to dispute these in court. As well as all this, he is made liable by the Seed Production Act to a fine of £50 for growing plants contrary to the Statute, and to another fine of £50 for failing to destroy plants when served with a notice by the Inspector.

How many cases have been brought to court?

Part 2 of this infamous Act of 1955 has only 12 sections but no fewer than eight of these set out penalties for breaches of the Act.

One can imagine the reaction of Fine Gael Senators were the present Minister to bring in a Bill containing provisions of this kind. How would they describe it? I can imagine Senator O'Quigley describing it as "vindictive, punitive, dictatorial, a slur on the courts, certainly unconstitutional", and I would be inclined to agree with him. These would be just a few of the things that would be said about it. But I can assure Fine Gael Senators and other Senators who may perhaps be more inclined to look at what is in the Bill, not what Fine Gael say is in it, that there is nothing in this Bill remotely approaching the steamrolling provisions of Deputy Dillon's Seed Production Act, 1955.

It may be said, of course, that the fact that many precedents exist over the past 40 years is in itself no argument in favour of the Bill. That is quite true. It would be open to Fine Gael to come into this House and say that in the light of past experience they had changed their minds, and they now felt that powers of this kind ought not to be given to any Minister. That is not what they have done. They have, over the past two months, gone up and down the length and breadth of this country alleging that in this Bill the Fianna Fáil Government are trying to take for themselves unprecedented and excessive powers. That, as they know very well, is simply not true. It is this kind of utterly and completely dishonest political playacting that helps more than anything else in the minds of the general public to damage the image of those who take part in public life.

This Bill follows on a long tradition of legislation which has worked well and without difficulty for 40 years and more. As regards the 1955 Seed Production Act I really would be inclined to suggest to the Minister that he might consider amending some of the more dictatorial provisions put into it by the Fine Gael-Labour Coalition Government. Whatever about that Act, all the other Acts I have mentioned, and a great many more besides, connected with other Departments, have worked well over the years. There have been no complaints from the public. There have been no complaints from anybody in any Party nor from any non-political organisation.

One of the great points made about this Bill, and made here today by Senator O'Quigley, is that it is supposed to be unconstitutional on the grounds that it gives the Minister power to give and to revoke licences without recourse to the courts. Fine Gael, of course, always claim that anything to which they object at any particular time is unconstitutional. I have, I hope, made it clear that there is nothing in this Bill that is not already in the Dairy Produce Act, 1924, the Creamery Act, 1928, the Pigs and Bacon Act, 1935, the Poultry Hatcheries Act, 1947, the Agricultural and Fisheries Products (Regulation of Exports) Act, 1947, the Live Stock (Artificial Insemination) Act, 1947, the Seed Production Act, 1955, the Fertilisers, Feeding Stuffs and Mineral Mixtures Act, 1955 and the Control of Exports (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1956. Every single one of those Acts, and a great many other Acts besides, empower Ministers to give and to revoke licences. In none of them is there any question of an appeal to the law courts nor so far as I know was such an appeal ever asked for either inside or outside the Oireachtas. If this Bill is unconstitutional, then all those other Acts, and many more besides, are unconstitutional also.

This Bill, in fact, does nothing which those various Acts have not done long since. Not merely that, but this Fianna Fáil Minister has incorporated in the Bill at least one very valuable safeguard I have already mentioned, which is quite new. I hope this Bill will prove a landmark in this respect and that future Bills of this kind involving the giving and revoking of licences will also incorporate especially the provision that a statement of the Minister's reasons for revoking any licence must be laid before the two Houses of the Oireachtas.

The reasons why this Bill is needed are perfectly obvious. Most of the country's livestock sales now take place in the marts and it is quite clearly in the interest not merely of farmers who have to sell cattle, sheep or pigs through the livestock marts but also in the best interest of the livestock marts themselves that all marts should conform to uniform, basic standards, and that they should provide adequate facilities of all kinds. Is there any objection to this? Is there any objection to the fixing of adequate hygienic and veterinary standards for marts? Indeed, as the Minister has already pointed out, whether we like it or not, international pressure in any event, and Senators have to face up to this, will soon force us to fix such standards.

Other countries, particularly the EEC, are not going to continue to allow us to export livestock except under the most stringent Governmental and veterinary regulations. Another principle that must surely be established, beyond any question or shadow of doubt, is that any person whobona fide wishes to make use of the services of a mart shall be able to do so without any kind of discrimination. That principle also, I take it, will be accepted by any Senator.

Another very necessary safeguard for farmers who deal with marts is that in respect of every mart there should be taken out a fidelity or insurance bond as a condition of getting a licence. This will ensure that in future small farmers who have sold cattle through a mart will not find themselves without their money, as has happened quite recently when certain marts became insolvent. The various purposes for which regulations are to be made under this Bill are set out in detail in section 6. I would be interested to know if there is even one Senator opposite who is prepared to stand up and say that in his view any single one of these purposes set out in the Bill is in any way undesirable.

The truth is, of course, that this Bill is designed to secure certain obviously desirable aims and to this end it gives the Minister only the barest minimum of powers which he will need in order to secure those aims. It will strengthen the marts themselves and make sure that Irish farmers will continue to enjoy the complete freedom of sale they have always had in the past. The bringing about of uniform health standards at marts will ensure that our livestock exports will not be blocked at any future time because of any inability to meet foreign veterinary standards. We on this side of the House have, therefore, the greatest confidence in supporting this measure and in congratulating the Minister on bringing in this very necessary Bill.

We have listened for some considerable time to Senator Yeats reviewing measures enacted over the past 40 years. Indeed, while he certainly dwelt on many Acts he said very little and he did not show us any benefit which the farmers can expect if this Bill becomes an Act. He also complained of legislation introduced by many Ministers for Agriculture yet he obviously forgets that, after all, he is a Member of the Party who are in power and if that legislation is so distasteful why not have it repealed here and now? If the case he made is so good, I feel he should be able to win his colleagues around to supporting a plea to have that distasteful legislation repealed forthwith.

We in Fine Gael oppose this Bill because as yet we have failed to meet any person or body of persons who are in agreement with it. We feel that nobody in the country, except the Minister wants this Bill. Despite what Senator Yeats has said, we cannot see any section in this Bill, any subsection in it or any line in it which is going to put an extra penny in the pockets of Irish farmers.

The cattle trade and the pig industry at the present time surely must be the yardstick by which we must measure the pros and cons of legislation of this kind. The big question in relation to this Bill is whether there is any special section in it which will restore the £10 to £20 drop that Irish farmers have suffered per head in cattle prices. Is there any section in it which will revive the pig and bacon industry? Surely Senator Yeats and the six Agricultural Panel Senators of his Party are aware that two bacon factories have closed down in the not too distant past because there were not sufficient pigs to keep them going.

Who was responsible for that?

The present Minister for Agriculture is responsible. He brings in a Bill and wastes his time and the time of the House in introducing legislation here which no Senator can indicate will be of material benefit to the Irish farmers or the agricultural industry in general.

We regard Parliamentary representatives as fallible persons employed by the electorate to express the public views rather than infallible demigods whose intention appears to be to impress their views and their wills on the electorate. Senator O'Quigley in the course of his speech asked what organisations, if any, had advocated legislation on these lines. He asked what interested sections had called for or were advocating this legislation. Was it the farmers individually? Was it the farmers through their organisations? Did the ICMSA at any stage advocate legislation on these lines? Did the NFA ask for a Bill of this kind? These are the people who are involved and the people who up to now have made a great contribution towards improving the marketing standards of our Irish cattle.

I should like to quote from theIrish Independent of the 8th July from an article headed “Marts Body Restates Attitude to Bill”. It reads:

The Associated Livestock Marts of Ireland (ALMI) last night reiterated its attitude towards the Livestock Marts Bill, 1967, "in the interests of clarity and fact".

In a statement, the ALMI says that it is concerned that a reference to its meeting with the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr. Blaney, as recently expressed in the Dáil, might have given rise to a misunderstanding in the public mind, with regard to the Association's attitude towards the Bill.

The statement says that the case presented by the marts could be summarised under three main headings: (1) ALMI's great concern at the excessive power which the proposed legislation was giving the Minister; (2) that there was no appeal to the Courts; (3) that the marts freedom to conduct their own business in their own way was being undermined.

The ALMI says that it further expresses strong objections to the severity of the penalties as proposed in the Bill, and asks that those penalties be reduced.

That statement appeared in the paper after the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries had told the other House that he had the support of the Associated Livestock Marts of Ireland. I should like to remind the urban Senators in this House that the Associated Livestock Marts of Ireland have built up on a voluntary basis many marts throughout the country and they have given the farmers of Ireland every facility and consideration. This certainly has made the task of selling cattle much easier and more streamlined. There are many Senators who might not perhaps realise and understand that, taking the country as a whole, every individual farmer has not got the same gift and ability to drive a hard bargain in selling his cattle. Therefore, the majority of farmers do better when they enter their cattle in the livestock marts for sale. Their cattle will be sold by auction, by weight, and the price in all cases will be subject to quality.

I feel, therefore, that the vast majority of farmers prefer the marts. Indeed, the younger generation of farmers prefer marts. A few years ago before marts were popular the system was that farmers had to get up and have their cattle on the road at 2, 4 or 5 o'clock in the morning, depending on the distance to the monthly fair. In addition to that, marts are held at more frequent intervals. Some marts specialise in the sale of specific types of cattle. Some of them have small stores and there are areas in marts to cater for the heavier cattle. The marts ensure that the particular type of cattle will fetch the best possible price.

These people, through the system of co-operation, have erected many of those marts throughout the country and they have done so without any State aid or grant and the vast majority of marts have been a great success. It is true that some of the marts were the victims of exporters or dealers. There were one or two instances where exporters sought the protection of the courts. But, in every case it is true to say that the farmers were paid in full for their cattle and that it was the marts that took the blow.

Where did you get that information?

I got it from my own experience of marts in the midlands.

The Senator does not know it all.

I do not travel north to Cavan. The marts took the blow of the trickster who took advantage of the farmers. There is nothing in this Bill which will safeguard the marts or the farmers against a recurrence of this.

There is. That is what the Bill is about.

Perhaps when the Senator speaks he will be specific and point it out to me. I have yet to see the section whereby the farmers will be safeguarded against cattle buyers who seek the protection of the courts.

There is provision for making regulations about that.

Why not be specific about making the regulations?

Anything can be done under regulations.

I should like to ask the Minister if the IAOS—that is the governing body of the co-operative movement in this country—asked for this legislation. I should like to quote from theIrish Independent of the 8th of July again:

The statement made by the Minister for Agriculture in the Dáil on Thursday concerning the Bill was referred to yesterday by Mr. P.F. Quinlan, President of the IAOS and a member of the management committee of Cork Marts.

In a statement issued in Cork last night Mr. Quinlan said: "The Livestock Mart Bill at any time was not welcomed by the co-operative mart. Ten years ago a Bill might have been of some value when the co-operative marts were being started but as from now the present Bill is not what a co-operative mart wants, and until further amended, it does not meet the wishes of the co-operative marts.

Cork Marts are continuing the vigorous sales promotion campaign for Irish cattle in the British market which was so successful last year, and are putting on an exhibition of Irish store cattle at the Great Yorkshire Show at Harrogate from July 11 to 13.

I feel that, perhaps, the Minister and the Department of Agriculture would be more profitably engaged if they took a leaf from the book of the Cork Marts and were endeavouring to sell some of our surplus cattle not, if I may say so, in the manner a former Minister for Agriculture sold a couple of thousand to Germany, which turned out to be not exactly what the public thought. In the national interest the Minister and, indeed, his civil servants would be doing a greater service if, instead of shoving across this piece of vindictive legislation—which nobody other than Fianna Fáil appears to want, for which none of the Fianna Fáil farming TDs spoke in the Dail——

Did the Senator ever hear of Deputy Corry?

I presume the Agricultural Panel Members will speak on it here. As I was saying, farmers either individually or through their organisations, did not ask for this piece of legislation. On the contrary, they have all availed of the opportunity to condemn and reject it. Nobody apparently wants this but the Minister, the Government, and the NAC did apparently see in this Bill the salvation of our cattle industry. If I might say so in passing, the National Agricultural Council have endorsed this Marts Bill.

This is one of the most controversial pieces of legislation which has come before the Oireachtas for a long time. The Bill has been opposed by the mart owners, by the cattle traders, the farmers and, indeed, by all right-minded citizens who are concerned about freedom, justice and free sale in this country.

Senator Yeats pointed out during the course of his speech the many pieces of legislation and the many Acts passed down through the years but I should like to remind the House of three specific Acts passed not too long ago. There was, for instance, the protection of Animals Act, 1965, the Diseases of Animals Act, 1966, and the Auctioneers and House Agents Act of 1966. These three Acts all appertain to livestock; the Auctioneers and House Agents Act as well as the Diseases of Animals Act to livestock marts, or marts of one kind or another. Yet, when these three Acts were going through the Oireachtas the Minister for Agriculture did not see any reason to include any of the sections he has inserted in the present Livestock Marts Bill. I feel, with these three Acts, the Minister has ample power, without having recourse to this Bill at all. He could have introduced a section in either of those three Acts which would have met any contingency which might have arisen.

Looking at section 6 of the Marts Bill, I see that the Minister is worried about hygiene and veterinary standards. Of course, the Government are always worried about standards and such things so long as they are not providing the money for them. As I said before, I have been in many marts. I found them to be reasonably comfortable but then people do not go there for a holiday; they go to get their business done and get out as soon as possible. If there was such a need for adequate and suitable hygiene and veterinary standards — as apparently there must be if we are to read section 6 of this Bill—why was not this need catered for in the Diseases of Animals Act of 1966? When the Minister was dealing with the Diseases of Animals Act — where hygiene and veterinary standards would be of paramount importance—he might have dealt with this problem. Yet the Minister did not see any great need for worrying about hygiene——

That is not correct.

This is the Act, and I have been looking through it.

The Senator is wrong in his conclusions, then.

There was plenty of scope in that Bill to deal with this matter, if there was a situation whereby the standards of marts—and marts were in operation in 1966—required improvement. Surely the former Minister then must have been aware of it. Why did he not ensure it was included in the Act of 1966?

If the Department are so concerned about standards of hygiene in marts, they should set their own house in order first, because before going to a mart to sell cattle a farmer must first visit his Bovine TB Office in order to obtain his blue cards. If he has not got all the cards he must go to his local office. There is one office to which I have gone—the one in Naas, which is a disgrace. How any Department or any Minister of State expects civil servants to work in such conditions is beyond me. The farmers who go there, whether they be young or old, must go up five flights of rickety stairs in order to get to the office, and to have the simplest inquiry carried out a girl must go through three offices and up as many flights of stairs. How any Minister or any Department has the nerve to come before the Houses of the Oireachtas advocating standards for livestock marts and expecting their own civil servants to work in dirty, filthy, rambling old offices is beyond me.

The Minister has his order of priorities all mixed up and I invite the Parliamentary Secretary, either on his way home or coming up, to call into his office in Naas and see for himself that it is the dirtiest, filthiest office one could imagine, a disgrace to any public service. To see elderly farmers trudging up five flights of stairs is a downright disgrace and the Minister has the audacity to come in here and look for approval for services in marts.

With all due respect, what about the audacity of Fine Gael Members speaking with divided tongues? Yesterday in the Dáil, Deputy Sweetman objected to the style of office accommodation provided for civil servants. I should like to do anything possible to provide decent accommodation but what has this to do with the Marts Bill? Could we get one clear line from the Opposition? Do they want reasonable office accommodation or not? I would not ask any person to work in inhuman conditions.

I have seen people with walking sticks, obviously suffering from rheumatic complaints, trying to negotiate those stairs. The Minister, under the Diseases of Animals Act, had an opportunity of considering matters appertaining to hygiene and veterinary standards but he did not do it.

Why does he need it again?

He is applying it to the marts.

The Bill is unnecessary. It is a complete waste of time. It shows that the Minister is having a go in his own particular way at the NFA, that he wants the war to go on and that he wants to have his big guns ready. Would the Minister not be better employed trying to cure existing ills rather than strengthening his hand with deplorable legislation of this kind? Would he not be better employed trying to sell some of our cattle or making the famous trade agreement with Britain work?

You voted for it. You were in agreement with it in the Dáil.

Acting Chairman

This is the Livestock Marts Bill.

Surely we are allowed to discuss the cattle trade and the grave losses Irish farmers are suffering.

Including the Donegal farmers.

Acting Chairman

Yes, within limits.

Surely the cattle trade is very pertinent.

Acting Chairman

Not necessarily. It depends on how it is argued.

In his opening statement the Minister said that the Bill was necessary having regard to standards in EEC countries. If that is so, why has he not tied in fairs and the other means of selling livestock? He has not specifically mentioned fairs, fairgreens or factories. Surely if standards are to cover cattle in general all those systems and ways of disposing of cattle should be clearly indicated in the Bill.

The Senator is no doubt aware that in many areas where those systems and ways of disposing of car parks and the fairs are held on the streets.

Subsection (5) of section 3 relates to the granting of licences and I should like to know from the Minister where is the precedent for it. The subsection says that where the holder of a licence is guilty of any offence under the Act, the Minister may, if he so thinks fit, revoke the licence. In other cases where licences are granted, if there is a transgression the business is not closed down. If there is a breach of the Licensing Act a publichouse has not its licence taken away and is not closed down. Similarly with dance halls. Therefore, this provision in the Bill is rather strange. It indicates that the Minister is treating the farming community differently from other sections of the community. I reject the idea that the farming community are such second-class citizens that we need such powers to deal with them.

We have in various sizeable towns throughout the country overseas combines coming in and erecting chains of supermarkets and sweeping out small shopkeepers. These supermarkets are not licensed. They are allowed to drive out our own people who cannot compete with their chains, yet no Minister sees fit to license them but when it comes to the farming community the Government seek powers to deal with them as if they were desperados.

It was originated by Cumann na nGaedheal in 1924.

Even at this late stage I appeal to the Minister to have a second look at the Bill.

He is tired looking at it.

I fail to see any section in it that will confer any benefit on the farmers or on agriculture in general. Is it designed to do anything to restore the farmers' incomes which dropped so much last year? Is this Bill designed in any way to restore the confidence of the farmer in the Minister or in the office he holds or in the Department of Agriculture? Is there anything in this Bill that will restore the confidence of the agricultural industry? I feel that there is not or if there is, certainly I have failed to see it. The Minister has said in regard to these questions that we have put that they are all covered by regulations. I personally do not trust the present Minister with regulations, because I can vividly recall the passage of the Planning Act through this House, and which Senator envisaged at that time that regulations would be introduced under the terms of that Bill which would impose a licence fee of £8 for a petrol pump and £8 for a tap and tube, and all those extraordinary bombshells that hit and stunned the community?

Acting Chairman

The Chair is being stunned too.

Surely on the question of regulations you will recall the effort by the Minister to introduce the licensing of ordinary milk stands at farmers' gates. If he had had his way, we would be paying £4 or £5 per stand per year to the present day. For those reasons I feel that the Minister should be more specific and indicate to the House the type of regulations he seeks power to introduce under this Bill.

I should like to know from the Minister in what way will this Bill help to restore the cattle prices that have taken another 40/- plunge over the last few weeks. The same can be said for sheep prices, which are only about half of what they were last year.

This is only a Bill to deal with marts, you know.

These are problems which are facing the Irish farmers. Every section in the country has got wage or salary increases of one kind or another, yet you have an important section of the community whose income is dwindling away.

That is not right. I know many people who have not got any increase.

Acting Chairman

This is a matter for discussion between Senator Murphy and Senator McDonald outside, not here.

The Minister should give the House some indication of the type of regulations he wishes to bring in under this Bill. This is most important, and it may even allay the fears of many sections of the community. The biggest problem facing the farming community is, as I have said, and as I was going to deal with a moment ago when somebody knocked me off, the price of cattle and the very unsound state of the cattle industry. Surely we read with some concern the statements being made by the British Minister of Agriculture, by the President of the British NFU, Mr. Williams, and by the Conservative shadow Minister of Agriculture, and we cannot all but feel very concerned with the fact that Irish farmers are bearing heavy losses. Surely the Minister must and should concern himself with this vital and important fact first. I should like to quote from theIrish Independent of July 22nd, 1967, a statement on the question.

Acting Chairman

I have allowed the Senator to go very wide on this, but he is introducing quite extraneous matters. Really, even on the amendment the Senator is wide.

With respect, how can the Chair judge whether it is relevant before the Senator has read it?

Acting Chairman

He said that he wished to repeat what he had already said.

Not repeat.

Acting Chairman

I thought you said something about cattle prices, which you have mentioned six or seven times already.

We are dealing with a Marts Bill, and, with respect, the Minister did mention that improved standards of livestock marts were being forced on him to be implemented. It was also mentioned that the English people were concerned, and in this article there is reference to the standard and quality of Irish livestock, and I think that this is all very important and very relevant.

Acting Chairman

I am sorry. I thought it was prices that the Senator was talking about, not hygiene.

I note from theIrish Independent on the 22nd July last that it reports:

That the British National Farmers Union appealed to the British Government on Thursday to regulate imports of Irish fat cattle and beef between now and Christmas. The Union asked Mr. Peart, the Minister of Agriculture, to make an arrangement with the Irish Government which would keep exports within an agreed percentage in the corresponding periods of earlier years. The President of the NFU, Mr. G.T. Williams, has expressed to the Minister, his members' grave concern at the present depressed state of the industry. He has urged that immediate steps be taken to restore market equilibrium. Mr. Williams suggested that the situation was the beginning of a crisis. The Government would have to take the necessary steps to avoid what could become a critical situation among store cattle producers in the months ahead. He also urged the British and Irish Governments to enter into sensible negotiations. If negotiations failed he believed that Government action would have to be taken in Britain. Irish producers, according to the NFU, are principally to blame for the current depressed state of the market. Supplies from other countries were arriving at normal rates, while Irish supplies were arriving in heavier amounts. The virtual closure of the Continental markets, combined with the increase in home and Irish placings, had been responsible for a drastic fall in prices in recent weeks. Mr. Williams also warned about a reapplication of a subsidy for fat cattle in Ireland.

I should like to point out that surely what the President of the NFU stated in his argument, that Irish producers are responsible for the present slump in Britain, is not correct, because the numbers of cattle exported from this country this year have not reached the figures which we were led to believe could be exported under the terms of the most recent Anglo-Irish Trade Agreement. An Foras Talúntais have warned the Government and the farmers that we were overstocked with cattle and facing a crisis. I feel that the Minister for Agriculture should have been away endeavouring to help the Irish farmers and the farming industry by trying to sell some of those cattle rather than wasting his time here putting legislation through this House that nobody seems to want, that nobody except himself and the Government have asked for and that the farmers are being force-fed with. As I said before——

Ten times.

——the Government speakers have failed to indicate to me and to the House and to the country in general one subsection that will put one single penny-piece extra into the pockets of the Irish farmers.

Business suspended at 6.5 p.m. and resumed at 7.15 p.m.

I should like to bring the Members back to the Bill and remind them of the position of the farming community. I do not think anybody can say that the present position is a happy one. Farmers at present are certainly not sure of what their incomes will be for their work during the past year. One would imagine and one would expect from the reception that this legislation has received that the present unsatisfactory relationship between the Department and the various farming organisations will not be easily resolved. At least, it would appear that the Minister has not, in introducing this Bill, poured any oil on the troubled waters.

I should like the Minister to indicate to the House what particular section in the Bill he feels will help to solve the problems of the farming industry now and over the years to come. In considering the present position, I beg Senators to ask themselves sincerely how long it will take the Government, having regard to the attitude they are adopting, to restore the confidence of the farmers in the Government and in the Department of Agriculture. When going through the country one encounters uneasiness among the farmers, big and small. There is certainly tension among the farming community. The prices at fairs and markets are in no way stable. Despite this, legislation of this kind is introduced at a time when it is completely unsuitable for everybody. At the same time, there is no apparent remedy whatsoever in it.

This Bill will strike a blow against co-operation in this country. Surely at this time, when it is reasonable to expect that the farming community should be called on to make a great concerted effort in order to bring the industry into the great competitive Common Market, co-operation should be our key factor, that farmers and, indeed, the Minister should be encouraging farmers and giving an example by quoting and re-quoting the ideals of the late Sir Horace Plunkett, who did so much in founding and fostering the co-operative movement in this country.

This Bill, with all its vagueness and with so many regulations left to the discretion of the Minister, will not help the co-operative movement. We feel it will discourage people from coming together, co-operating and investing their money in projects such as cattle marts which are designed to improve the efficiency of Irish farmers and which were built to help the farming industry to adopt better sales methods and eventually secure better prices for livestock. That Minister by bringing in vague regulations will strike a direct blow at this great co-operative movement.

No speaker from the Government side of the House has given the least indication, or any idea, as to what we are to expect by way of regulations. As I said previously, I do not trust the Minister in relation to bringing in regulations, if we are to judge by his actions in the past whereby he invoked regulations that no Member of the Oireachtas even dreamed of. Once the legislation is passed, he can well do this again. Surely this legislation is being enacted in order to safeguard against further action by organised farmers. Instead of bending his back to cure the ills of Irish agriculture, it is a reasonable charge to say that the Minister is strengthening his hand by having this vindictive legislation enacted so that he can wave the big stick over the Irish farmer and the co-operative movement.

It is true to say that no one advocated this legislation and that it is introduced here as a result of one isolated incident in which farmers refused to bid for, or objected to, seized cattle being put up for auction in one of those co-operative marts. Over the past ten months the clock has been put back 100 years and Irish farmers have again lived through a period such as they did over 100 years ago, with one exception—the battering ram and the evictions did not take place—but you had practically everything else.

That is deplorable and it is something that cannot be denied. If we are to ask the best of our agricultural industry and if we are to ask our farmers to step in with their best foot forward and get the best place to market our products in the markets of Europe, the Minister should advocate a spirit of co-operation and he should induce farmers to improve their lot and the efficiency of the industry by co-operation, rather than bring in ambiguous legislation aimed directly at the co-operative movement which has flourished during the past eight or ten years.

It is to the credit of Irish farmers that they have in these times been able to get together and subscribe vast sums of money. They have been able to approach the commercial banks and sell their case there in order to raise sufficient cattle and to embark on these marts for their own benefit and, I may say, for the benefit of industry in general. They have done so without grants or aid from the Exchequer or the taxpayer and it is surely a line that should be developed to the utmost.

The farmers, and indeed we must agree that in many parts of the country the members of the NFA, have been instrumental in establishing these co-operative livestock marts which have meant so much to them. I know that the marts have attracted wellknown buyers from cross-Channel as well as here. These farmers are attracting buyers to their marts so as to ensure that farmers can get reasonably good prices as near as possible to home. I know that in several marts the prices are those obtaining on the Dublin cattle market. It is undisputed that the co-operative marts have done a tremendous job in this country for the cattle industry. Certainly, it would appear from this Bill that they are getting nothing in the line of help or even thanks from the Minister. It cannot be denied that these co-operative marts have in every way co-operated with the Department and the Minister over the past few years. They have certainly shown their willingness to co-operate with regard to the bovine TB scheme, the cow loan scheme and the warble fly scheme. This is a clear indication of the way Irish farmers are willing to co-operate and much has been done with the aid of this system. Yet, for no reason at all, the Government apparently are not satisfied and the Minister feels he must be the overall dictator, he must have all power in his hands and he certainly insists on taking it.

I should like to deal briefly with section 8 of the Bill which prescribes the offences and punishment which will be meted out to farmers who transgress against this Bill. Reading the daily papers and especially the evening papers you have headlines in relation to people being assaulted, robbed, stabbed and so forth and yet the culprits apparently get off with what the normal person might find to be a rather light fine, nothing more than a few months. Yet we see that the proposed fines for offences against this piece of legislation are £100 and £500——


——and imprisonment for six months as well. Of course, that is in keeping with the Government's order of priorities because we all saw a few months ago where farmers got three months in jail and served it for technical parking offences.

The maximum fines in the cases referred to are much more than £100.

(Longford): Are we not talking about cattle?

Fianna Fáil are thinking so much about the guillotine that they are thinking of cutting the calves' throats again.

The Senator appears to be advocating free beef.

And the free teeth to eat it.

The Chair wishes to draw the Senator's attention to Standing Order No. 39.

With all respect, Sir, the Parliamentary Secretary said I was encouraging free beef but I should like to read for the Parliamentary Secretary a cutting from Jim Norton's "Notebook" in theIrish Independent of Saturday, July 22nd, 1967, in which he says and I quote:

Some form of price inducement for Irish farmers to hold their cattle over until after January 1, when beef is always scarce in Britain, will go a long way to solve the problem and the sooner an announcement is made the better for everyone concerned.

During the week, Irish beef was being sold in Smithfield for as low as 1/6d to 1/7d per lb. and in some cases, forequarters were selling at as low as 1/- per lb.

In all seriousness, I think you cannot go very much nearer to free beef than that.

The Chair would like to know the relevance of that statement to the matter under discussion.

The Parliamentary Secretary said I was advocating free beef.

The Senator spoke of the cutting of calves' throats which I presume refers back to a time in the 1930's when Fianna Fáil distributed free beef, and the Senator's colleague said we distributed free teeth for them to eat it with.

Perhaps the Senator would relate his speech to the matter properly before the House.

And the Parliamentary Secretary his remarks.

Surely it is relevant to talk of livestock—sheep, cattle and pigs—on this Livestock Marts Bill?

The Chair has referred the Senator to Standing Order No. 39. The Senator, to proceed, but in relation to the matter before the House.

I should like to acquaint the House with an extract from theSunday Independent of the 23rd July, 1967, headed “Giving Dangerous Power to Minister” in which the Council of the Incorporated Law Society are quoted as saying:

The Council of the Incorporated Law Society has also seen fit to object to the Marts Bill. "What is sought in the Bill is to enable the Minister for Agriculture to determine the rights of individual citizens without any appeal to the courts. This is dangerous power to entrust to any Minister or to any Department," the Council declared.

The Council maintained that the citizen needed the protection of the courts against possible invasion of his rights and said the continued erosion of judicial safeguards was against the interests of the public and particularly of the weaker sections of the community.

It was held by the Council that an appeal from a Ministerial decision to a nameless person appointed by the Minister was no substitute for a right of appeal to the courts, where the facts would be examined openly and published in the newspapers. "Why is it thought necessary to incur additional State expenditure when there are already sufficient justices and judges who are paid to perform these functions?" the Council queried.

I feel all right-minded citizens are quite in agreement with that. After all, it is difficult to understand why, for instance, the farmers should be regarded as such special second-class citizens or such a dangerous group that it is necessary for any Minister or any Government to invoke special powers to deal with their case. In that regard, I feel the Bill should be amended. I cannot see what the Minister has to fear the courts if his intentions regarding this Bill are as the Fianna Fáil speakers claim them to be. Surely the Minister can expect a fair hearing in our courts and, since the public would certainly be happier to be able to have the court there before which to take their cases, surely this is a reasonable point and one on which we can expect the Minister to have second thoughts. We intend putting down an amendment to bring the Bill into line and make it more acceptable to the general public. There was no reason to introduce special powers to deal with the farming community because, as we all know, farmers consistently have been the most stable element in our society. Given half a chance, they have always been more than generous in working in the best interests of the country.

Unfortunately for the Minister, his present attitude is awakening many of our young farmers to the fact that they are entitled to a better standard of living and they are pressing their case to ensure that not only they but their wives and children will have a more reasonable standard of living. During the past couple of years, they have experienced diminishing returns for their years of work. Everyone connected with the farming community knows this cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. Why should the farming community be the only section who must suffer annual reductions in their earnings? Has any section of the community suffered consistently at this rate? If any section, urban or otherwise, thinks this can go on indefinitely, it is but wishful thinking.

Therefore, the Minister should direct the entire Departmental force at his disposal to the task of improving the agricultural economy, of improving markets and outlets for agricultural produce. I do not know if the urban population are aware, when they daily see the rising costs of every conceivable commodity, that the primary producers, the farmers, are taking less for their sheep, less for their cattle, less for their pigs than they were a year ago. How many housewives, when they see the rising cost of woollen garments, realise that the price of wool this year is only half what it was last year? Which other community would put up with it indefinitely? When the farmers insist on their rights, on a decent standard of living, they have a genuine case. The regrettable point is that the Government choose to ignore the farmers' situation. Senator Yeats mentioned a figure of £60 million——

£64 million.

——given to the farmers this year. That may be all right on paper but what percentage of that tinkles in the pockets of individual farmers? I should like to see it made out.

Even if it is only £50 million, they are not doing badly.

For instance, if the Minister were to discontinue the grants for haybarns, who would suffer? I imagine it would be the people who erect the haybarns.

Is the Senator suggesting the grants should be withdrawn?

Indirectly, the £64 million goes to help industry.

Suggest that the grants be withdrawn.

I used it as an illustration.

Suggest that the money be withdrawn.

Suggest that it go to the farmers.

There is a Departmental publication illustrating where the money goes and it apportions it percentage-wise. I suggest respectfully that the Senator read it.

A sizeable proportion of that money goes indirectly to industry and to other sectors. I am not suggesting that should not be so but it is wrong to suggest that the urban population are being fleeced to give a soft time to farmers.

I only mentioned it because the Senator said the Government were always ready to take action when it did not involve money.

I should be glad if the Parliamentary Secretary would clarify one point in relation to the practice by which pig buyers call weekly or bi-weekly to villages or to certain publicans' yards and buy pigs by weight. It is widespread in the midlands and I feel sure it applies elsewhere. I should like to know if this practice, which has been going on for years, will be allowed to continue or if it, too, will come under licence.

It will be allowed to continue: it is not an auction.

Not an auction.

I wish to remind the House that the Minister for Agriculture has served in that office during the past eight or nine months and ask what he has accomplished on behalf of Irish farmers during that period. Has he achieved anything constructive for the benefit of farmers? Has he done anything to resolve the difficulties that exist? Has he done anything to examine, for instance, the ideas and suggestions put forward by various rural organisations, including the NFA? Has he done anything to implement the small farm plan? Has he done anything for the West besides giving them——

£64 million.

——the dole the whole year round, which seems to be a negative attitude which will not help much when we go into the EEC? He has done nothing to stabilise the cattle industry, sheep prices. Obviously he has done nothing to stabilise the pig industry in which numbers are falling week by week. If one looks at the killings one week with another, they make pitiful reading. All these things one would have expected to be done in the face of the great promises made when the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement was being signed.

Last week I read an account of a meeting between the IAOS, the Pigs and Bacon Commission, NFA representatives, the bacon curers and the pig trade in general to see what could be done to improve the present sorry state of the pigs and bacon industry. I was very distressed to read that the Department of Agriculture and its officials refused to attend. If that was an indication of the Department's attitude to co-operation, then surely our worst fears for this Bill are well founded.

I should like to make a last appeal to the Minister to drop this piece of legislation and to have more co-operation towards a better farming industry and towards a better cut of the national cake for the Irish farmers.

I find myself very much opposed to the legislation which is being brought before us here this afternoon. In fact, the very Title of the Bill, which is "to provide for the control and regulation" is tantamount, to my mind, to preventing an improvement in the relations between the Minister and the various farming organisations. The Title further says "to provide for other matters connected with the matters aforesaid". In the circumstances and in the light of all the objections from so many well informed bodies such as the Incorporated Law Society, the Association of Civil Liberties and the press campaign designed not to obstruct but rather to point out the many dangers and pitfalls in this measure, the Minister should be prepared to swallow his pride and even at this late stage to let the hare lie until the autumn, and in the meantime to have consultations with all the interested bodies, and, having done so, either bring in a new Bill in the autumn or so drastically amend the present Bill as to prove that beyond yea or nay any doubts the people have of having further to relinquish their rights and their liberties will be removed.

The Minister in his opening speech made the case that licensing of livestock marts is desirable. He also pointed out in the other House that the hasty introduction of this legislation had absolutely nothing to do with his dispute with the National Farmers Association. No man is anything more than his word. Why then the haste with which this Bill was introduced? Why did he not produce a White Paper? Goodness knows we have had quite a number of White Papers on various important subjects in recent years, none of them more important than the measure which we are discussing here. If he had produced a White Paper that could have been discussed by all the interested bodies inside and outside of agriculture, the Minister would have been in a much better position to introduce legislation, if legislation was necessary at all. He would have been in a position to introduce legislation which would be accepted at least by the majority of those engaged in the livestock business, and we would not be in the position of seeing, as one recent paper headline stated, "Marts Bill is civil liberties natural enemy." In the absence of such a withdrawal, I am left to draw one or two conclusions as to why it has been introduced with such haste at this time—that it is designed to ensure that the National Farmers Association will not be permitted to set up their own market sales organisation, and secondly to get a foothold in the livestock sales business so that at some future date the long arm of the Minister for Finance can be stretched into the livestock business to filch away any penny that may be left to add still further to the burdens which the farmers already have to bear.

In the amendments which the Minister introduced in the Dáil to the original draft of the Bill he tried to meet the case where a demand was being made to have the licensing referred to the courts. Instead of going the whole way and meeting the very strong and very genuine objections which were raised to that particular section, instead of giving to the courts the necessary powers to grant those licences, he left it that a person might appeal to a barrister of ten years standing. Barristers are human beings the same as everybody else. They are not judges, but they are headed on the road to the bench, and with all due respects to the profession a barrister hearing a case of this nature must, I am afraid, be inclined to lean towards the establishment. While the judiciary are certainly above reproach and nobody can say that they are anything but fair, I feel that we cannot have the same confidence in the measure which the Minister has introduced in order to try to meet some of the objections raised on this particular section.

What about Senator O'Quigley?

I said barristers.

He would not be called.

Getting back to the Bill, there is the section which deals with regulations, and to my mind the greatest objection to this Bill is to the number of regulations that can be made. The people are extremely worried as to what may be written into the Bill under the head of regulations which will not come to light until after the Bill has been passed. I ask the Minister at this section on the Committee Stage to spell out to us some of the things which he has in mind. One of the problems is the question of the refusal to sell or refusal to accept an entry at the sale. Anybody familiar with the livestock business will realise that in that, the same as in most walks of life, I suppose, the problem can arise of a question of puffing a sale. In the marts which I am accustomed to attend I am very pleased to be able to say that the proprietors, if they have the slightest doubt that puffing is going on, immediately stop the sale of that particular lot or immediately refuse to accept any more bids from the individual who they feel may be puffing. They have built up a reputation of having one of the best run sales organisations in the country.

Yet, this places them in a very awkward position because though they may be quite certain in their own minds that such is going on it is extremely difficult to prove it. If they refuse in the future to sell to a particular man or to accept an entry from him for their sales, they can now be reported to the Department of Agriculture which will send an inspector to examine the position and to inquire why an entry was not accepted or why a bid was not accepted. Difficulty will arise when the mart proprietors or managers are unable to satisfy the inspector because they leave themselves open to quite a bit of trouble if they claim that a person is not acting according to the rules and regulations of the mart. They can be told that this man's business and this man's entries must in future be accepted. That is one of the problems which, I hope, we shall be able to deal with on Committee Stage and I hope the Minister will be able to enlighten us on how he intends to deal with it when he is replying to the Second Stage.

I feel that the regulations, while desirable, are by and large with existing marts not necessary, because I am familiar with marts which have a standard of hygiene which leaves nothing to be desired. In fact, I have one in mind in which meals are served under the same roof as the sales take place and many catering establishments that I know of do not boast the same cleanliness that is provided here. In all other aspects of cleanliness throughout the mart it is the same. However, I can certainly see the Minister's anxiety to have that standard in all sales marts throughout the country. I am quite sure that the proprietors and managers will be as anxious as the Minister to have that too.

The marts have been a tremendous asset to the Department of Agriculture. Were it not for them I am sure that the bovine TB scheme would never have reached the very happy stage it has reached. The warble fly scheme, to my mind, would possibly never have been implemented to the same satisfactory extent as it has been through the co-operation of the marts. The interference of the Minister in bringing in legislation such as this, rushing it in coming to the end of the session of the Dáil and Seanad and making sure by means of the guillotine that it is going to be passed, must leave one with grave doubts that there is something sinister in it, something written in in the small print of the Bill which will only be revealed as time goes on. I certainly do not welcome it on that account.

While I know that any amendments will not be accepted here from this House for the simple reason that if we pass an amendment—even one letter in a word—the Dáil will have to be recalled if the Minister wants to get it through immediately as it seems certain he intends to. I am quite sure the Minister does not want to do that and does not intend to do it and I am quite sure the Dáil, after their lengthy discussion on it, might not welcome it either. Therefore, it seems a futile exercise to put forward any amendments, but it is our duty and our responsibility to try to improve legislation as it comes before this House. To that end, we will certainly put down amendments. I hope they will be discussed in a calm atmosphere and possibly the Minister may, even at this late stage, relent and try to co-operate with us as we want to co-operate with him to improve this piece of legislation and to make it something which the farmers and the livestock traders of the country can be proud of, that they can be pleased to have as a further milestone on the road to prosperity, prosperity which we, too, are so anxious to see in agriculture because if we have not a prosperous agriculture we have not prosperity anywhere.

I hope that the Minister will try to heed some of the appeals made in this House, even though he has not done so in the Dáil, to amend the Bill if he does not withdraw it now and reintroduce it in the autumn.

One at a time boys.

You can laugh. There is nobody rising behind you I notice.

Are we meeting tomorrow, Sir?

Many people would agree that some kind of a Bill to deal with livestock marts would be reasonable. It may not be the most urgent thing to be done in this country or, indeed, even in the agricultural sphere. Nevertheless, livestock marts are a relatively new institution. They have grown up in recent years. There could be problems related to them and a well-thought out Bill, prepared in consultation with the marts and other agricultural interests, prepared in consultation with the agricultural organisations and prepared along reasonable lines could have been received noncontroversially in the other House and in this House and could have been a useful addition to the legislation of this country. It is a pity that something of the kind was not done. The kind of Bill before us is not a Bill that fits into that category.

First of all, it has been rushed in and pressed in a manner inappropriate to a Bill of this kind. It has been pressed as if it were a matter of great urgency. Other matters far more urgent as we, and indeed the Labour Party, have pointed out, like the long-awaited Redundancy Bill, have been left on one side. The Road Traffic Bill, which might make a serious contribution to reducing death on the roads, has been left over until the autumn. Apparently, there is no urgency about that, but this Bill has been brought in and pushed ahead in a manner which bears no resemblance whatever to the degree of urgency that attaches to its provisions.

It has been brought in and pressed in breach of an undertaking given by the former Taoiseach as to the manner in which the business of the other House would be conducted, an undertaking that no controversial legislation would be brought in after the introduction of the Finance Bill. This is an undertaking which, from the point of view of this House, is most relevant because our ability in this House to amend legislation depends on our getting it either if it is urgent legislation or considered urgent by the Government well before the Dáil adjourns or, alternatively, if the legislation is not urgent, we can amend it at this time and the Dáil can deal with it in the autumn. It is contrary to assurances we too, have been given that legislation should not be brought to this House if considered so urgent that it would have to be pushed through unamended as a result of being brought to this House at a time when the Dáil is no longer in session, as it will not be in a couple of hours time, so that we might be frustrated in seeking to amend the Bill which, God knows, in this instance badly needs amendment.

Do I understand the Senator rightly as saying that he has been given assurances or that his Party have been given assurances that Bills of this nature would not be introduced here?

We have had two sets of assurances.

I gave no assurances.

We had assurances given in the Dáil which had almost as much relevance to this House as to the Dáil.

With all due respect, I suggest to the Senator that he read yesterday's Dáil Report and see where the Taoiseach explained fully and very cogently the reasons and, indeed, showed the misinterpretation that Fine Gael are putting on the assurances because the financial business of the House has been amended from last year when the present Taoiseach was Minister for Finance.

I have read what was said in the Dáil and found it totally unconvincing. When an undertaking of this kind is given, if the circumstances change, the normal practice would be for those concerned who gave the undertaking to raise the matter with the other Parties and point out that this undertaking was no longer required and seek sanction to be released from it. That is the normal procedure between any civilised groups of people who work in reasonable harmony as the Government and the Opposition should do in matters of this kind. That was not done.

You should keep the record clear.

On a point of order, is this a point of order?

The Dáil cannot speak for this House.

I am not suggesting at any stage that the Dáil should speak for this House. I am making two different points, one, that the assurance was given as regards the Dáil, in so far as the Dáil had the effect of safeguarding also the business of this House because the normal introduction of controversial legislation at this period meant we would be placed in the kind of position we are in now. That was one of the by-products of that particular assurance. Secondly, because of the fact that we had ourselves faced difficulties in regard to the Finance Bill in particular, the present Taoiseach gave an assurance in respect of that Bill that the business of the two Houses would be so arranged that we would be in a position to deal with that Bill, and make recommendations in regard to it, if we wished to do so, recognising in that way in relation to that legislation, that only non-controversial legislation should come to this House under that arrangement, because in that period of the year we had the right to put forward recommendations at a time when they could not be accepted by the Dáil. Those were our safeguards and we have now been deprived of them. As a result, we will probably be told by the Minister, when we reach the Committee Stage of this Bill, that he is not in a position to accept any amendments and even if we put forward technical amendments, the value of which we can show, amendments which would in no way weaken the Bill but would improve and strengthen it, amendments which in rather happier circumstances he could accept, we will, I suppose, be told that they are unacceptable, that the Dáil has adjourned and he cannot wait to get the Bill through because it is so urgent.

I hope the Senator will be able to bring in more relevant amendments and make more relevant contributions than were made in the Dáil last week.

You only got as far as section 1 in the Dáil.

Is it in order for the Parliamentary Secretary to interrupt?

I should like to know that too.

The Parliamentary Secretary is here in place of the Minister at the moment.

He is not entitled to interrupt.

I am merely pointing out——

You can point out in due time but not when the Senator is speaking.

He is correcting a misunderstanding.

Might I, at this stage, draw the attention of the House to the fact that the proceedings in the Dáil are not subject for discussion here.


Hear, hear.

I should also point out that there is no excuse in relation to a Bill of this kind which is not urgent for a Minister to do as this Minister has done and ride roughshod over other Ministers of the Government. We know the position here. The dissatisfaction in the Government in regard to this Bill is such that Ministers have freely spoken, to people on the other side of the House, of the manner in which the Minister behaved and the fact that he was not present at the Government meeting when a decision was taken to drop this Bill until the autumn and the fact that he then approached the Taoiseach in such a manner——

The Chair feels that private discussions among Members of the Houses should not be brought into the discussion here.

I am speaking of what is common knowledge and rumour throughout the House at present. I, myself, have not had direct discussion with Members of the other side but those matters are commonly spoken of. We know the fact is that the Minister has ridden roughshod over other Ministers, that he has pressed this through in a manner which has caused great dissatisfaction in his own Party.

There is no excuse at all for certain features of this Bill. There is no excuse for the provision under which the licensing of these marts must be done by the Minister and there is no excuse whatever for the fact that no appeal is provided to the courts or to the judicial authority. Above all, there is no excuse for the dishonesty with which the Minister approached this matter in the other House in relation to the assurances he gave that he had various interests, who were concerned about this Bill, with him. In regard to this he gave assurances that he had met the people concerned and he taunted Fine Gael on this matter. He gave assurances that he had met the interested bodies in this matter, assurances which he had to take back when unanimously the organisations concerned repudiated his statements and pointed out that what he was saying was, in fact, incorrect.

It seems those matters have been disposed of in the Dáil. Perhaps the Senator would leave it at that.

They have been guillotined.

I do not propose to leave the matter at that, with due respect, if you permit me to do so because I think it is relevant to the consideration of the Bill in this House as to what the views are of the marts concerned, which will be affected by this Bill. Those marts have made their position very clear, indeed, in repudiating the Minister's statement. This is what they had to say:

The Irish Agricultural Organisation Society meeting in Dublin expressed dissatisfaction with the amendments to the Livestock Marts Bill, proposed by the Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Blaney. The meeting also reviewed the consultations they had had with Mr. Blaney in relation to the Bill and the Minister's statement in the Dáil "In regard to the attitude of the IAOS to the proposed amendment as represented in the daily press on Friday, July 7th." A statement issued on behalf of Mr. P. Kelly, Secretary, IAOS, after the meeting, adds: "The newspaper reports of the Dáil debate were misleading"——

That is hardly fair on the newspapers which merely reported what the Minister said. It was the Minister who was misleading. I do not think the newspaper reports should be accused of being misleading. That is what is being said here. It continues:

"in the sense that it appeared that the representatives of the Co-operative Livestock Marts and the IAOS were satisfied with the amendments to the Bill introduced by the Minister in the Dáil on Friday, July 7th. The amendments introduced by the Minister to date do not cover adequately the case presented to him and, in particular, nothing has so far appeared to assure the farmers that co-operative development by farmers in their own interests will be safeguarded.

In particular the Committee are concerned that the rights of farmers to provide themselves with up-to-date and efficient marketing services, should be preserved.

The Ministerial amendment proposed to the section dealing with the Minister's powers of revoking licences, was completely unacceptable to the Co-operative Livestock Marts. In their view all breaches of the Act or of the regulations under the Act should be a matter for independent arbitration, the statement added. The amendments in regard to infringements of the regulations provided only for an inquiry in respect of certain technical breaches.

The absolute powers conferred on the Minister which concerned the manner in which the business of the marts should be conducted, remained unchanged.

The Ministerial amendment to section 6 is an unnecessary interference in the ordinary day-to-day business operations of a livestock mart and makes the Bill even more unacceptable. The Ministerial amendment to section 4 dealing with the powers of exemption from the Act, is still obscure.

In general it is the view of the Co-operative Livestock Marts that the Bill appears to be designed for the remedy of evils and malpractices, which in the case of Co-operative Livestock Marts, have not existed, do not exist at present and which cannot exist under the principles by which the Co-operative Marts operate. These principles ensure fair play to all individual members, irrespective of class, creed, faction or politics."

That is what the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society and the Co-operative Livestock Marts had to say about the Minister's gross misrepresentation of their attitude in the Dáil when he attempted to suggest that he had their approval of his amendments and that his amendments were in line with their requirements. The Association of Livestock Marts of Ireland made a similar statement. This is what they had to say:

The ALMI said it was concerned that references to its meeting with the Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Blaney, as recently expressed in the Dáil, might give rise to a misunderstanding in the public mind with regard to the Association's attitude towards the Livestock Marts Bill, 1967.

In the interests of clarity and fact, the association feels that it must again emphasise its attitude. At the meeting with the Minister on Friday, June 30, the association made clear its deep concern at the implications of the Bill.

The case presented by the marts can be summarised under three main headings: (1) ALMI's great concern at the excessive power which the proposed legislation was giving the Minister; (2) that there was no appeal to the courts; (3) that the marts' freedom to conduct their own business in their own way was being undermined.

ALMI further expressed strong objections to the severity of the penalties as proposed in the Bill and asked that these penalties be reduced.

That was done. The statement continues:

The Minister expressed appreciation that the mart proprietors were the leading experts in the field of livestock marketing and that, consequently, he would welcome and value their advice in the drafting of the regulations.

In fact, of course, he ignored their advice in the matter. The associations which he had relied on for his assurance that he had their support both repudiated him. In those circumstances, I do not think we can place too much credit on what the Minister may say as obviously he is not to be relied on in matters of this kind.

The general background to this Bill is the state of agriculture in the country at the present time. I do not propose to review this in detail here because we did have an opportunity of discussing this recently and I listed the different Second Programme targets for the different agricultural products and pointed out that, with the single exception of cattle, in the case of all of these targets production is lagging behind the targets by amounts ranging up to, in some cases, 45 per cent. I do not propose to review all this here, but the House will recall the appalling picture of agriculture which was painted in these comparisons between the actual performance of agriculture after three years of the Second Programme and the targets which were set by the Department of Agriculture and the Minister for Agriculture in 1964—targets they fixed themselves.

In addition, in respect of the only product where the target has to date been achieved, the industry concerned is now threatened with a very serious crisis indeed, in the cattle industry. It is so serious that the Minister is apparently making secret flights to Brussels, we are told, and we do not know even if this is true. It leaked out through one particular newspaper after other newspapers had been bound to secrecy and had agreed not to say anything about it.

We were told by the Taoiseach yesterday in a speech in which he reviewed at length and very fully our position with regard to the EEC, that there is need for a revision of policies. These were his words. We have heard nothing from the Minister for Agriculture about the revision of agricultural policy, although in no area of national life is our performance so far removed from our hopes and expectations, and in no area is there such a need for a comprehensive view of the policy that may influence and determine the growth and development of output.

Instead of such revision of policy, we are presented with this irrelevant Bill, a Bill directed against a particular agricultural organisation. The Minister has denied characteristically in his speech that there is any vindictiveness against the livestock marts. It is not, of course, directed at marts as such. The Minister has no quarrel with the marts as an institution. Indeed, as he has pointed out, his predecessor as Minister for Agriculture, on a previous occasion intervened to assist the marts in the early stages of their development. But the Minister has a quarrel with an organisation in which there are many farmers who are involved in livestock marts, and in this Bill he is clearly, in the manner he has approached it, and in the manner he has presented it, getting at this organisation and those who are members of it and he is showing a vindictiveness which is entirely inappropriate in a member of the Government.

In criticising the Bill in these terms I am not simply expressing a partisan view. I cannot find any independent comment from any source which favours this Bill. All of our daily newspapers, all of which are not actually in the immediate control of the Fianna Fáil party, that is theIrish Independent, Irish Times and the Cork Examiner which are independent, have expressed themselves in most critical terms of this Bill.

I do not, in fact, recall in recent times any Bill which has met with such a chorus of unanimous disapproval from all quarters.

The Senator does not seriously suggest that these newspapers are independent in their views.

TheIrish Times said:

The Livestock Marts Bill is a classic example of two things. First, the instinctive reaction of a roused Minister run riot; secondly, the threat to the concept of Cabinet responsibility. We are a young democracy yet, and we must watch the finer points lest they get lost in the grosser. This Bill, which before we saw the actual terms of the amendments and when we were depending on the Minister for Agriculture's preview of them, we described as having lost its teeth,

TheIrish Times had been taken in by the Minister on that point. It continues:

now appears to be virtually as full of bite and as totalitarian as ever. Mr. Blaney has done neither himself nor his creature—the National Agricultural Council—

That is a fair description, and it goes on:

any good. We suppose it is conceivable, but it is scarcely credible, that the Government as a whole concurs in all of Mr. Blaney's actions in this Marts Bill of his.

Members of the Government have made it clear that they do not. It goes on:

Even in his Department, there must be heartsearching among the more intelligent members of the staff about the wisdom of his dogged sponsorship of what is either a nonsense because it doesn't advance the farmers' cause or a piece of selective vindictiveness because it is designed to harry the NFA.

The voice of the Incorporated Law Society is both powerful and welcome. Criticism of the Bill is widespread. The Incorporated Law Society describes Mr. Blaney's arrogation of power as "dangerous to entrust to any Minister or Department"; and we must agree. We have no axe to grind as between Minister and public in the ordinary course of events, but the course of events in the last nine months have been anything but ordinary. We must hope that sound sense will prevail in relations between the Department and the farmers; that the Minister and his staff will devote their attention to more urgent problems than petty revenge, and that the Government, if only for its own sake, will cease to countenance the highly pressurised passage of a Bill that not only enjoys no support except from the yes-men of the ruling party but also has drawn down upon its head the opprobrium of the most responsible elements in our society.

TheIrish Times rarely finds occasion to speak of Government pressures in those terms.

TheIrish Independent was also concerned about this matter. It says:

... the offence to the rule of law has yet to be expunged. The Minister is still to enjoy the right to ignore legislation when he chooses. The judges are still to be excluded from the system of appeal. Many persons who may well be aggrieved by a Ministerial decision will have no redress whatever. It is scarcely to be wondered that the Incorporated Law Society suspects, as this newspaper suspected from the beginning, that the Bill is unconstitutional at its core. If the separation of powers has any meaning as a democratic principle, the fundamental law of the land cannot accommodate or countenance this presumptuous measure.

It remains to be asked, in addition, whether an ill-conceived product can be made perfect by any amount of tampering. Nobody has explained why a Bill is necessary now that was not necessary ten years ago. Nobody has explained why, if licensing control were called for, the courts were not given their usual function in this field.

TheCork Examiner says:

There was a good case to be made in favour of postponement of the remaining stages until the autumn —a case made up principally of the revolutionary changes proposed, as they affected a nationwide enterprise, and the obvious necessity for careful parliamentary scrutiny of all the sections of the Bill. The Minister, however, did not see it that way.

It went on to say in another editorial:

The Livestock Marts Bill is a highly contentious measure and, with proper concern for the nonpolitical interests directly involved, should have been subjected to consultation with these interests before being introduced in the Dáil. Instead, the Government decided to rush it through in the weeks immediately before the summer recess and, having gone through the motions of consultation after the Second Reading, proffered four amendments for the Committee Stage which did not at all satisfy the interests concerned.

The Minister pretended to the Dáil that they did. That is what the independent organs of opinion had to say. The Incorporated Law Society has at length denounced the Bill as objectionable and also probably unconstitutional. This is the situation we find ourselves in.

The Bill, moreover, is, as even a casual reading of it shows, technically defective. I was looking through it this afternoon in some detail——

Only this afternoon?

——with a view to considering amendments on Committee Stage. Indeed, I found ample room for amendment without having to go through the long list of amendments in the Dáil which never got round to being considered because of the Government's guillotine. For one thing, the definition at the beginning refers to the "business of a livestock mart" as meaning "the business of selling livestock by auction or the business of providing a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction".

So, the business of a livestock mart can mean either of two things, one of which is the business of providing a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction, that is, the business of establishing livestock marts. But the regulations of this Bill and all the provisions of this Bill relate to the place where, in fact, the "business of a livestock mart" is carried on. Thus, apparently, on any straight reading of the section, this control will be exercised in regard to the head offices of any concern which is in the business of providing livestock marts and these head offices would have to be licensed for hygiene, although this obviously was not the intention. It is just careless drafting of a measure put in in a hurry, careless drafting which I propose to seek to tidy up in this House on Committee Stage, and I trust that the Minister, even at this late stage, will have second thoughts about a Bill which is even technically defective in this respect.

Again, there is a remarkable section in the Bill which provoked me to some hilarity when I read it—I suspect it will have the same effect on the House. This section, section 7 (1) (e), is a further illustration of the technical defectiveness of the Bill. It empowers an officer of the Minister to do all or any of the following things, one of which is to require the person who carries on the business of a livestock mart at the place of the mart—and then there are various other people introduced "to give such information as it is in his power to give as to who is carrying on the business of a livestock mart in the place". What on earth is the point of that requirement? First of all, you could not require the person to give the information unless you knew he was the person carrying on the business. If he is the person carrying on the business, what is the point in requiring him to give information as to who is carrying on the business? It is loose, hasty drafting.

The Bill is technically defective; it is constitutionally and legally objectionable. It is not a matter of urgency; it has been the subject of misrepresentation in the Dáil as to the attitudes of the various organisations concerned. It is a Bill which has not got the support of the Minister's own colleagues; it is a Bill which should not be brought in or pressed in these circumstances. It is a Bill which we will, therefore, do our best, first of all, to reject and, secondly, to amend.

The Bill before us has been, I think, quite rightly the subject of very heavy criticism because, first and foremost, we are told it is an urgent measure. None of the speakers here this afternoon—or the Minister in making his pronouncements —has given the slightest reason to show why this is urgent. But we can list dozens of Bills which are urgent and have not been brought before us, for example, the Redundancy Bill, the Health Bill—promised a year and a half ago—and legislation on the proper development of the co-operative system, not legislation to hamper the co-operative movement as this legislation shows.

Our co-operative mart development over the past ten years has been the great success story of Irish agriculture. I feel very proud and happy that I contributed in some small way to it, in being the honorary engineer with the Kilmallock Co-operative Marts; at my own expense, I travelled with the delegation when discussions were being held on this with the IAOS and made, I hope, many valuable contributions. It was an effort by the farmers for the farmers and achieved solely by farmers' money. Nobody was asked in any way to make any subscription from public funds to it and now, when this success story has been achieved, we get this highly controversial Bill being rushed through the House in this, the dying stages, of our session. Surely this is not the way to approach co-operation because co-operation, if it has any meaning at all, means leading the people forth, getting them to do things for themselves and encouraging them to do so. I would envisage that the function of a Minister for Agriculture should be that envisaged by Plunkett, when he founded the Department of Agriculture, to be a leader for the agricultural community, to inspire that community to work together and achieve the production we know to be possible. Yet all efforts over the past year, unfortunately, have militated against that type of development.

The success story of the marts got very little help from the Government at the time when help was needed. In the initial stages; when the marts were fighting for survival, when there was a danger of mushroom growth of marts, marts springing up too close together and so on, was the time when legislation was called for to ensure that we would have an orderly and a proper development of marts, each with its own sphere of influence. It was at that stage the farmers' organisation called for legislation to prevent mushroom growth. That did not occur but, fortunately, attempts to split up into two small units were not successful and today, by and large, we have a livestock marts system in the country which compares more than favourably with that in any other country in western Europe. I have had the privilege and pleasure of travelling in Holland quite frequently. I have been to marts there and I can attest to this House that our system is a much more modern one. In fact, the idea of a mart as I saw them there was simply a whole area in concrete with stalls where beasts were tied up and where buyers came along to purchase beasts. It had nothing of the modern approach the present marts system offers here.

The case has been raised about difficulties in the marts system at present —in other words, some suggestion about unfair treatment. Perhaps there is, because no human institution is perfect, but does anybody hold for one moment that the marts system is not a tremendous advance on the system of fairs, where unfortunate people were the victims of the tanglers and the middlemen? I speak from experience in this. Many times have I been at fairs and seen unfortunate people who either had no experience or little contact with selling being beset by tanglers as they came within a few miles of a fair. The sole mission of the tangler was to prevent any buyer, other than the man he was touting for, getting near the cattle. Consequently, at the end his buyer was generally able to get the cattle at a great deal under value. That is the system from which we have emerged and, indeed, the greatest threat which faced the marts system in this country was in its initial years when the livestock traders tried a boycott of the system; and tried forming rings at the marts centres so that only one would bid for the cattle and the price would not be anything like the real value. Where were the Government to aid the unfortunate people at that stage, to ensure fair treatment for the farmers concerned? That fair treatment was only realised when, through co-operative efforts, and led by the Cork Livestock Marts, the marts got together, got their own buyers in action and actually bought cattle, held them over, maybe, for two, three or four weeks and, in many cases marketed those cattle directly to England. It was only by doing that they succeeded finally in breaking the attempted power of rings in the marts. That was the time when legislation was called for.

I cannot see the slightest feature in the present legislation which either smacks of urgency or is likely to confer any real benefit on the livestock marketing system of this country today. We would have thought the advent of the EEC and the re-activation of our application for membership would call for some real fresh thinking on the position of agriculture in this country; that it would be recognised that the first step is to look at our competitors' marts with whom we wish to co-operate in Europe— Denmark, Holland and Belgium—and see how they have worked in the agricultural sector. The first thing we will find is that in every case the farmers' body concerned have to do some work for themselves. Their organisations are accepted as an integral part of the National Agricultural Organisation and the leaders carry a great deal of responsibility both in the formulation of policy and its implementation afterwards, first getting their people together to carry out the task.

Here, unfortunately, the reverse is the case. Prior to 1957, we had appeals by Ministers for Agriculture, both Deputy Dillon and Deputy Smith, on the necessity for a single overall farmers' organisation and the great day arrived in 1954 when that organisation was launched here in Dublin with the blessing of both the Minister for Agriculture and the shadow Minister. The organisation was built on very solid foundations because it came after Macra na Feirme had been in existence for ten years and after the young farmers had been given the benefit of a system of educating themselves, of getting together in groups with agricultural instructors, getting a scientific approach to agriculture, learning the rudiments of economics, organisational practice and procedure.

It was on that solid foundation the NFA were launched and they have developed on those lines ever since. Their leadership I have the privilege and pleasure of knowing and I cannot speak too highly of those men as a fine group of idealists who are pledged to sacrifice their time and energy in the furtherance of their profession and of their associates in farming. It ill becomes any Irish Government to try to drive a wedge between them. We have had during the past year many unfortunate developments. It has been borne in on the NFA that apparently the orderly process of submitting memoranda and looking for consultations based on them has not paid off. A picket thrown around Dáil Éireann by the ICMSA last June paid off far better than the orderly and documented approach of the NFA.

Will the Senator say if two wrongs make a right?

We have been treated here by Senator Murphy to his diagnosis of the problem. It was very interesting because it represented a commonly held city view of farming and the difficulty with those organisations and it was, I might say, naïve in the extreme. I hope my views of the trade union movement and its difficulties and splinters and so on never reach the same depth of naïveté. I commend to the TUC as a matter of urgency that they should get down and make a study of agricultural organisations here and get their thoughts and ideas from them—see what are the difficulties and try to come forward with the solution and follow it consistently.

I would have expected a group who are organisation conscious to have started by requiring that any organisation must have the marks of a modern organisation. Surely a trade union or a splinter group will not be classed as an organisation of national importance unless they satisfy certain hallmarks of organisation. First, a modern body must have adequate office premises. They must be capable of utilising specialist advice and be backed up by specialists in economics and other fields associated with their profession. At the same time, such an organisation must record that their members are actually actively engaged in the profession represented. Finally, such an organisation must be able to speak for a representative section of the industry concerned. When one applies these hallmarks, I suggest to the trade union movement that if they do the study I have commended they will find that the NFA are the only group here who satisfy those requirements. Any of the others have neither office premises nor shown the capacity for the use of the specialist advice necessary for them to be classified as a national organisation. I suggest that the Minister, and organisations throughout the country, should realise the fact that you cannot put the National Busmen's Union on the same level——

What in the name of goodness is the relevance of this to the Marts Bill?

You cannot put any of the other farming organisations on a level with the NFA.

Who are recognised by the Taoiseach.

We are told that the EEC are very well briefed on happenings here. That is quite correct. There is a section that takes cognisance of happenings here. I wonder what are their views on our preparations in the agricultural sector and our efforts to get it ready for the EEC, when it is held that agriculture will be our mainstay in profiting from EEC membership and in helping our industrial sector to survive the great shock which full and open competition, without tariff barriers, will cause. I cannot for one moment see Dr. Mansholt, No. 2 in the EEC, being impressed by our treatment of our farming organisations and our failure to develop an effective farming movement in the country. Dr. Mansholt has contributed a great deal to Dutch agriculture. I know that he has been in close touch with scientific developments here on the agricultural scene and has been quite impressed by the work done by the NFA. I wonder what are his impressions of what has happened over the past year.

Again, in our efforts to get into the EEC we are going into a period of rapid change. Nobody can tell exactly what these changes will be, in fact, we are being really forced along on the plea that if England gets in we have no option but to get in also. We know that there will be some very drastic shocks awaiting us and that in all spheres we will have to improve very considerably our efficiency and our output. That applies in agriculture as well as in the other spheres. In agriculture there is needed the very same thing that is needed in every other sector of our economy, that our people should be educated as rapidly as possible into thinking along efficient lines, along production lines, and that they should respond quickly to change, and we need the type of dynamic leadership that will inspire them to that. In other words, the Minister for the future, to be a success, must be a combination of Canon Hayes, ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam, of the late Seán Moylan, and of Deputy Dillon, the three all put together, to provide enthusiasm, drive and initiative to lead our major industry. I submit that we had better begin that, if it is not too late already to get going on it. That is why it would be far better even at this late stage for the Minister to withdraw this controversial measure and come back in the autumn having had proper consultations.

I cannot but remark at this stage on the scant respect with which the Minister is treating this House. I do not recall any measure that has come up here where a Minister has spent so little time listening to the Second Reading Stage.

The Minister is speaking in the EEC debate in the Dáil. That is the reason.

In that case, then, I think that we should adjourn this House, with the permission of the Leader of the House, and wait until the Minister is available.

The Minister has no such intention.

The Senator is not speaking on the Bill.

We are trying to put a few thoughts across on the matter.

Not on the Bill.

The Parliamentary Secretary is here representing the Minister.

Again, the timing of it is something that we have objected to year in year out in this House.

Having legislation coming to us at this time of the year when there is no opportunity of amending it.

What are you moaning about? What is the difference between this time and any other time?

The Leader of the House knows that we cannot amend it once the Dáil has risen if the Minister does not want to accept amendments. Nobody has done so for the last ten years. I fully support Senator FitzGerald on the assurances that have been given time and time again here when we have protested against legislation being brought to us at a time when we are incapable of amending it. The assurances given were honoured in the last two years. Previous to that we had the unfortunate case where the Planning Bill came through here when the Dáil had risen. It is really making a mockery of this House that it should be treated in this way.

We cannot but be disturbed at the lack of consultation that has been revealed through the whole conduct of this measure. First of all, we have had on record that not a single consultation was held until after the Second Reading Stage. Then we had the case of the consultations that were held after that with the co-operative marts, with the livestock marts and the IAOS. All these have been very unsatisfactory to say the least of it, and the Minister's report about them was highly inaccurate and did not and does not in any way satisfy the organisations concerned. I think that that is deplorable. I do not think that any other country in Western Europe would attempt to approach the co-operation of the co-operative movement in that way and I cannot understand why we are doing it.

I hope that this treatment of the agricultural sector does not in any way foreshadow the treatment of the labour sector of the economy by the Department of Labour, because we are awaiting legislation in that, affecting redundancy, restrictive practices and other forms of adaptation and we hope that there will be full and adequate consultation in that, not what is passing for co-operation in the present case. But I have more confidence that the Minister concerned, Deputy Dr. Hillery, will choose the path of co-operation and consultation and leadership, and will emerge as leader of the labour sector in the adaptations that are required from that sector in the Common Market preparations.

We cannot, of course, but be highly disturbed by the castigations—for that is the only word that you could use—of the present scheme given by the Incorporated Law Society and by the Civil Liberties group.

On a point of order, in view of the serious contributions being made here in this House on this matter, I think that it would be most appropriate, and would follow the usual procedure here, to adjourn the House to await the arrival of the Minister. That has been the normal procedure wherever it has been requested by a Member of the House. I gather that up to the moment we have been told that the Minister is speaking in the other House. If that is the case, I personally would like to see him facilitated. We would not wish to rush him, and in the circumstances I would think that the House should adjourn until the Minister is ready.

I should like to support this very strongly because I feel that the points we are making should have the attention of the Minister, which is the least we could expect.

If the Senators are in earnest, if they want to discuss this Bill there is no reason in the world why we should not continue, because we have the Parliamentary Secretary acting for the Minister. There is no question whatever of adjourning the House in the middle of this debate.

I should like to ask if it is true, in fact, that the Minister is speaking in the other House. If he is, he must be talking for a very long time. I think that on a measure of this kind the Minister ought to be in this House to defend this Bill.

The Bill will be defended.

I am sure that the Bill will be defended and that you will try to defend it, but I am concerned about the fact that the Minister has been absent from the House while this debate has proceeded for several hours past. I should like the House to give serious consideration to the suggestion now made by Senator McQuillan, and, in fact, if it is necessary I am prepared to second it.

I suggest that this is completely out of order.

We frequently adjourn to facilitate a Minister.

It is not a question of facilitating the Minister as you damn well know. It is a question of delaying this debate. We want this debate to continue so that everyone will have plenty of time to debate this.

So far, Fine Gael Senators have spent five minutes talking about the Bill.

It has been stated here in the House that the Minister was speaking in the other House. That was the excuse given. I want to know if that is correct. If it is correct we have facilitated previous Ministers and I refer to the Minister for Justice particularly even in the last few months when the House was prepared to adjourn and, in fact, did adjourn specially to allow the Minister the privilege of voting in the other House. If that procedure was in order with other Ministers, I am of the opinion and I submit that it is in order at this stage that we should adjourn until the Minister comes into the House.

The Minister is relaxing in the lobby. He is not speaking at all.

On the occasions when Ministers left the House to which Senator McQuillan referred it was for the purpose of a division which only took 10 or 15 minutes but in other cases when a Minister was not able to be present because of commitments elsewhere or because he was speaking in the Dáil, a Parliamentary Secretary always acted for him and there never was a question up to now of any dispute in regard to that.

The Minister is absent from this House since 4.30 p.m. I doubt very much if any Minister of State is awaiting permission to speak from 4.30 until 9 o'clock. I would be the last to deprive the Minister of the opportunity of making his contribution in the House but surely from 4.30 until 9 o'clock should be sufficient. I think it would be appropriate for us to adjourn at this stage so that the Minister would hear personally what is being said on one of the most controversial measures to come before either House in many days.

If the Senator feels that the debate has concluded sufficiently to allow us to move that the vote should be taken we would be agreeable.

That submission has not been made.

I am glad the Chair made that observation because I think the House should be reminded, although it should hardly be necessary to point out, that we seem to be dealing here with a preconceived plan of some kind which to my mind is defeating the whole purpose for which this House is sitting at all on this Bill. I simply want to remind the House that we have many precedents. On many previous occasions where a measure warranting the attendance of a Minister was before this House we not only facilitated but we adjourned especially in order to facilitate the attendance of the Minister at the appropriate time. The Minister as far as I can understand has been absent from this House from sometime around 4.30 and the only thing we are told is that he is speaking in the other House. I do not think that is correct but what is more important and more significant to my mind is the fact that there are from the other side of the House very few people offering to speak on this.


The Minister cannot be speaking in the other House because the concluding speech started at 8.45.

Very good, he will be here soon.

Acting Chairman

I shall leave this question to the Cathaoirleach, but one remark was passed by Senator Yeats that only five minutes were devoted to the matter under discussion. That is a reflection on the Chair whoever the occupant was.

Oh, no. Five minutes to this Bill, the remaining remarks have been directed to the amendment.

And the five minutes include your contribution?

The whole five minutes.

The Cathaoirleach took the Chair.

I put the point forward here that on previous occasions when it was necessary for a Minister to be absent from the House it was at the discretion of the Members of the House to adjourn while the Minister was so absent and it was a matter of courtesy on the part of the House to facilitate the Minister in that regard. It has been suggested by the Leader of the House that when that happened it was for the purpose of allowing the Minister a few minutes to vote or else when a Minister was going on business away from the House. On this occasion it would appear that the excuse put forward in this House for the Minister's absence is that he is speaking in the other House since 4.30. Now I do not think anybody wants to deprive the Minister of an opportunity to speak in the Dáil, but surely we should be given an opportunity of adjourning until such time as the Minister is ready and willing to come into the House?

The Minister is up on the corridor.

Senator McQuillan knows very well, having been a Member of the other House, that one might decide to speak at 4.30 but might have to wait until 8 o'clock.

Not when one is a Minister.

I saw the Minister——

As far as the Chair is concerned, the matter is adequately covered in the Standing Orders. The Parliamentary Secretary is entitled to be present in the House. The practice has been that, when a division is called, if a Minister wishes he may attend for the division but apart from that it has been in order for Parliamentary Secretaries to represent a Minister in the House. That is my ruling on the matter. That is my tary Secretary is in order in being in the House acting for the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries in this instance.

May I take it that this is a precedent the Chair is establishing?

I am asking the Chair. I am not asking any member of the Government Party. I am asking the Chair is the precedent now being established that a Minister can sit outside in the corridor, deliberately flout this House and that the Chair is prepared to stand over that?

The Chair is not aware that the position is as stated by the Senator. The Chair is now ruling that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries is entitled to represent the Minister during the discussion on this particular matter.

If the Minister is unavoidably absent.

I do not wish to pass any reflection on the Parliamentary Secretary but this is a very important Bill——

The Chair has ruled. The Parliamentary Secretary is entitled to represent the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries.

We know he is but that is not the question.

Has Senator Quinlan concluded?

The objections raised by the Incorporated Law Society cannot be brushed aside. These show that the measure concerned is, to say the least of it, highly unconstitutional and is also the type of measure that you expect in a country that has little regard for the central position of the courts. We had a very long and extended contribution by Senator Yeats on precedents, for this, in which Senator Yeats quoted the Dairy Products Act, the Bacon Factories Act, the Seed Production Act, the Fertilisers, Feeding Stuffs and Mineral Mixtures Act. On the surface it looked as though Senator Yeats had a point there but in point of fact, all the items involved are items concerned with quality production. Therefore, you must have quality control. You must have quality control on our dairy products. The control must be kept up at all times. This applies to the apparent dictatorial Acts. In other words if a crop is sown in an area in which it is not scheduled that such a crop should be grown it would cross-pollinate with the actual seed crops that you are trying to grow and, therefore, would ruin the quality of the crop. It is as simple as that and in such cases quality control is so essential for the product that you must have immediate and quick action such as is given in the various Acts quoted.


The question of the control of livestock marts is a totally different business. The control there is only in the matter of certain hygienic relations and in a totally different category from the production of a product direct for sale. Again, the groups mentioned by Senator Yeats, the bacon factories, the dairy producers, the seed and fertiliser producers and so on have got their corresponding research and quality control groups working with the Department of Agriculture. It is those groups that provide the publicity and advice as to whether the necessary quality conditions are being met or not. So, there is no analogy there. This is recognised in other countries. It is also recognised in the debates in the Dáil and the Seanad. No one suggested in any of those debates that there should not be an appeal to the court or that a judge rather than an officer with publicity knowledge acting as a scientist should not be the deciding officer. I suggest then to Senator Yeats that he should not try to use analogies that are not applicable to the present case.

Again, we have the necessity to guard the functions of our courts. Now, this has always been a necessity particularly in modern times where the legislative and administrative arms, especially, are always encroaching on greater areas of our national life and, therefore, the right of appeal to the courts is the only sure safeguard that remains. That has been so in the past and we all know that the State continues to encroach more and more on our lives. Therefore, we have got to be vigilant in relation to the liberty of the individual and we have got to ensure that this encroachment on all occasions is recognised and is resisted to the best of our ability.

This has been so in the past but it is doubly so at present when we consider that we may be forced by circumstances to join the EEC. I say "forced by circumstances" because let there be no mistake about it the greatest drawback about that group is its extreme bureaucratic set-up in which Parliament plays a very subsidiary role to the Commission. The only safeguard is at the higher level of appeal to the international court. At national level the only safeguard against regulations and orders emanating from the EEC Commission in Brussels is the right to appeal to some independent body. That body in most national cases will be the local judicial system. That is why we should safeguard the right of appeal to the courts, especially in the present circumstances where the giving of licences and so on could so easily be abused and conditions attached thereto could again create difficulties in relation to the expansion of the co-operative movement.

The leaders in the co-operative marts movement are being very hard hit. They are thinking in terms of trying to do their own marketing to a great extent. They are already doing something in England but they are thinking of the whole complex of the processing factories that may be necessary to deal more in the dead meat side of the trade. All those developments are possible and need to be pioneered and so on but could be hampered by excessive Government interference in the organisation and by the Government trying to ensure too much uniformity. We should encourage initiative and experimentation wherever possible, especially when this is done without any cost to the taxpayer. Surely it is the hallmark of a progressive group of citizens that they are able to do this for themselves.

The standards of hygiene and general standards in Irish marts have been acknowledged by authorities everywhere as being fully up to international levels. That is only to be expected because being such a recent development, naturally, the designers of those marts took care to see other marts in operation in England and on the Continent and to prevent the bad mistakes that have been made in those places. Consequently, we should take a pride in our system.

The most unfortunate development of all in this present marts business has been the endorsement by one body alone, the NAC. In other words, it confirms the doubts expressed as to the independence of that body. It is unfortunate because we all recognise the necessity for having agriculture represented at national level but, as Senator Murphy has so rightly pointed out, the proper place for agricultural representatives is in the NIEC, a body which for long has pointed out the grave defects in our planning. In the NIEC reports it is stated that we have not proper and expert agricultural advice represented in that body.

We have pleaded here on many occasions the necessity for having proper agricultural representation on the NIEC, men drawn from the leaders of farming groups and also from our distinguished agricultural economists. The present effort of the NAC is doomed to failure. I thought some couple of months back it had possibilities because I thought the Creamery Milk Suppliers and Major-General Costello were going to take an independent line and insist on being fully independent of the Minister, meaning, of course, then, that they would not for one moment subscribe to what has happened since, the Minister being chairman of that body, and at the same time, would demand from the Minister the necessary resources to function as such a council should function; in other words a budget of £50,000 to £100,000 a year, the necessary permanent publicity staff to enable it to act as an entirely independent body, and that by such action, they would very quickly get the National Farmers Association to co-operate. It was grotesque to suggest that the NFA should have only the same representation as some of the small agricultural groups.

(Longford): Like the ICMSA. They are a small group. They have some real people. The other is a head without a body.

A Senator

They are yes-men.

(Longford): I object to that description. I am a member of that association.

Would the Senator describe General Costello as a yes man?

The Chair desires that Senators would avoid criticising people who are not Members of the House and who cannot answer for themselves here.

The appeal that is given is a right of appeal to the Minister who would then appoint a barrister of ten years' standing. Then the barrister reports to the Minister who does not of necessity have to accept that report. He receives it but the action is his. I cannot see that that is a real appeal court. It has been pointed out here, without casting any reflection on barristers as professional men, that the individual person called in to do one job expects to be called in for several more. Unfortunately, in our judicial system here preferment and advancement are largely tied to political affiliations.

Having such a system, I do not think the barrister would be in a position of independence which would enable him to report against an action taken by the Minister and expect that that report would not involve him subsequently. Again, the remedy is easy where appeal is agreed as asked for by the Incorporated Law Society, the Civil Liberties Association, the farming organisations and all the marts groups. It is democratic and it is in the direction in which we wish to move if we are to become part of the EEC. I, therefore, cannot see why the Government do not grasp it immediately.

Perhaps the best way to do this is to accept Senator Murphy's amendment and postpone the measure. Let the Minister have second thoughts on it and fit it in with what he learned in Brussels yesterday and with what the other missions will learn during the coming twelve months. We are only now making a full study of the implications of the Common Market regulations and how these will affect our position and our guarantees.

I cannot see why there was such great urgency with the Bill. I would have thought that there is far more damage being done to our community by the indiscriminate mushrooming of chain stores and supermarkets and the unrestricted competition in which these are indulging with the result that many old established stores are being bought up and their staffs very inadequately provided for on redundancy. That is the real problem. Why not tackle that? Why engage in something that is so unnecessary, controversial and antidemocratic as the present measure?

In conclusion, I can only say how disappointed I am that the Minister shows his contempt for this Chamber by spending just one hour at the debate.

We have been speaking on this debate since three o'clock and apart from a statement by the Minister which we are discussing and the amendment proposed by the Labour Senators we have not heard anybody speak in favour of the Livestock Marts Bill.

Did the Senator not hear Senator Yeats?

I would not count Senator Yeats.

His vote is just as important as yours.

I should have liked to hear, instead, a Senator from a rural area.

Like Senator FitzGerald or Senator O'Quigley?

I should like to know whether there is any Senator in the Fianna Fáil Party in favour of this Livestock Marts Bill. I have not heard anybody say he is in favour of it. If those opposite are in favour of it, they should tell us so. Is it because of the row in the Fianna Fáil Party room over this Marts Bill? Is it because in the absence of the Minister it was decided to drop it and that then the Minister went to the Taoiseach and insisted on having the Bill taken before the recess?

Obviously the Minister has timed the Livestock Marts Bill at this particular stage of the session in order to push it through and cut debate to a minimum.

Who is trying to cut debate to a minimum? You have all the time in the world.

Only the first section of this Bill was dealt with in the Dáil and it remains now for the Seanad to deal with the rest of it. Supposing we get an opportunity of dealing with the rest of the Bill in spite of any guillotine that has been used—there is no need for a guillotine—the proper course would be to drop the Bill until after the holidays. That is what the Seanad is asking at present. The Dáil has dealt only with section 1 on Committee Stage.

Because the guillotine was used and all further discussion was stifled. We still have a big job to do here.

I wish to heavens you would do it.

This Bill is a childish, spiteful and peevish piece of legislation devised by the Minister in order to vent his spleen on the NFA.


Perhaps the Senator would be allowed to make his speech.

And the Leader of the House might set an example.

It is obvious that the Bill was rushed and that those who presented it as it is at the moment were requested by the Minister to do so in a great hurry and that actual consideration to throw down the Bill on the Table was a challenge to the Dáil and Seanad to interfere with the activities of the farmers in their legitimate way of business. We know that most of the marts at the moment have been set up and established by the farmer members; they have been founded, financed and operated by farmers and have received no financial help whatsoever from the State. If they did, there would be some excuse for the State taking an interest in the private affairs of these marts and the farmers who are supporting them. Fianna Fáil cannot be deaf to the widespread public outcry there has been against this measure, because it has been considered to be an infringement of individual liberty. The Civil Liberties Association have spoken out; the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society have spoken out; the National Farmers Association, and the Solicitors Association have spoken out regarding this matter. They look at it from the point of view of the freedom of the individual.

As a matter of fact, everybody spoke about it except the six on that side.

They voted against it; we got 15 members; Fianna Fáil got seven members on the county council; that is the answer.

(Longford): Musical chairs?

Fifteen members, against seven for Fianna Fáil; Fianna Fáil never before got seven members out of 27 until this year.

We never got so many seats as this time.

It is hot seats you are in now.


This Bill is obviously designed by the Minister to intimidate the mart operators and the farmers. These are the people concerned in the Bill. Nobody was consulted about the measure. There was no public agitation in favour of this kind of legislation. There were no deputations to the Minister asking him to consider this type of legislation. No request of any kind was submitted to him and we all know that legislation normally finds its way to this House as a result of representations from various vested interests of one kind or another.

(Longford): What about unvested interests?

Perhaps Senator O'Reilly would allow Senator Rooney to proceed without interruption.

It is on principle that most of the organisations I mentioned object to the Bill—the principle of individual liberty, of interference with the rights of the individual, of interference with private enterprise and the rights of people to go about their way of life and organise their business in their own way.

But, in addition to that, we had the independent newspapers—I mean theIrish Independent, the Irish Times, the Cork Examiner and the various newspapers which reflect public opinion——

Did they reflect it in 1960?

Did the Senator forget the other one?

The Senator should be allowed to continue without interruption.


The Chair can appreciate good humoured banter but this must stop now.

Now we have the Minister back here. He has missed a number of very useful contributions to this debate. We hope he will have an opportunity of answering——

Senator Rooney to continue his speech on the Livestock Marts Bill.

I am mentioning some of the speeches made here already today.

That is not permissible; repetition is not in order.

I understand I am entitled——

Repetition is not in order.

I am not repeating speeches. I am only mentioning what was said here already today. I mentioned that nobody has asked for this Bill. There was no public demand for it. There seems to have been no need for this Bill but the Minister, on the eve of the holidays, presented it here, knowing it would meet with opposition, because it interferes with the liberty of the individual and all the associations who support the liberty of the individual have spoken out. The Irish Agricultural Organisation Society —and they could not be regarded as a political organisation—are interested in the co-operative movement and in the success of co-operative effort. In the course of their statement they said and I quote from column 892, volume 229 No. 7 of the Official Dáil Report of 21st June, 1967:

... A very undesirable feature of the Bill is that it confers absolute powers on the Minister to control and regulate the business of the marts.

Why does the Minister want this power? Why does the Minister want to interfere with the marts? Usually, when we have legislation in this House the Minister gives power to the courts. He makes laws and gives power to the courts to implement those laws or Acts, or whatever they are, but here the Minister is keeping the running in this law. In other words he will administer the law. He will control and regulate the business of the marts. He is the person who will be the judge and jury of the activities of the marts, all those who are trading through them and all the activities within the marts. Apparently, the Minister will have the last word relating to these matters, even in relation to the withdrawal of a licence. On that point, is it not strange that in this Bill a licence is issued without any fee or without any registration fee? I should like to hear from the Minister about any licences in respect of which fees are not usually payable. Usually a licence entails the payment of some kind of fee but why has the Minister decided this time to licence the marts without any fee, or without even a registration fee?

Obviously, this Bill from start to finish can be described as a straitjacket and handcuffs for the NFA. Of course, this is because they were so successful in their campaigns on behalf of their organisation and on behalf of their members in support of a policy—a practical agricultural policy—which has been ignored by the Government and by the Minister. This Bill, of course, shows how much the success of the marts is envied by the Minister. He wants to interfere now with their activities, particularly because these marts have been set up and are supported mainly by the farming community, a great number of them being NFA members.

When the Minister is replying, if he replies, I should like to know what his attitude would be if the NFA— not NFA groups throughout the country who are already associated with the business of marts, but the central organisation—decided to set up a mart and applied to him for a licence. Would his attitude be a continuance of the kind of resistance the NFA have been suffering at the hands of the Government—the type of non-cooperation they have been suffering at the hands of the Minister during the past 12 months?

Will the Minister also tell us of any organisation in the country who are in favour of this Bill? I have not been able to find in the newspapers the names of any such organisations—not a single one. The Minister may tell us that the National Agricultural Council have not turned down the Bill flatly. I can imagine the Minister sitting in the chair there, discussing this matter with himself with the others all around.

Even at this late stage, and there are plenty of precedents for it, the Minister should abandon the Bill or at least defer it while he is having second thoughts on the matter. Then, if it were justified, we could give him some kind of legislation before Christmas. In present circumstances it is only right I should confirm that Fine Gael will seek a mandate at the first opportunity to repeal the Bill. It is a serious waste if the time of Dáil and Seanad is to be taken up discussing a measure which, it must now be obvious to the Minister, is not acceptable to the people.

The Association of Livestock Marts of Ireland announced that in the event of the passage of the Bill in its present form, steps would be taken to test its constitutionality in the Supreme Court. That is what we are up against. The Minister, in trying to press this measure through Parliament, has succeeded in getting only as far as section 1 in the Dáil. The Seanad has the rest of the Committee work to do on the Bill, plus this Second Reading.

I wish to point out once again that the marts have proved to be highly efficient, competent and popular among those who have been availing of their service. They are a modern development, a modern method of selling livestock, replacing the old system of fairs. Of course, they are nothing new. All over the country—this is for the benefit of Senator Yeats, though I notice he has left—there have been sales yards where fortnightly sales or monthly sales of livestock have been held, where auctioneers stood up, cattle were marched around in a ring with buyers and sellers seated around on benches. To my knowledge those yards have been functioning for 70 years. They may have been there for 700 years. They have been operated by individual auctioneers and local farmers brought livestock in and bidding was accepted by the auctioneer.

Where were they?

Everywhere. I know of one in Lusk.

That is Dublin.

Quite recently there was one in Dunshaughlin. The marts are the modern version of the old sales yards. They are an organised service which go far beyond what individual auctioneers used to do in sales yards. A large amount of capital is now involved and a large amount of business is being transacted. Marts have mainly replaced fairs, though there are a number of fairs still in the country. The attitude of the Government, therefore, should be towards encouraging marts, towards giving facilities to the marts which would improve the system of cattle sales.

That is what the Bill will do.

It is nearly impossible at the moment to get a decent price for cattle and the situation is coming about rapidly when we shall have a surplus of 150,000 cattle on our hands. We know the difficulties through which owners of livestock, particularly cattle, had to go through last year and the headage grants which unfortunately were misdirected were designed to ease the situation. In the middle of all the farmers' trouble, the previous Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Haughey, came home to tell them he had sold 2,000 head of cattle—it would not represent even one week's sales in the Dublin Cattle Market—to the Germans. That lot have not been exported yet and are not likely to be.

If a group of farmers decided to hold an auction in a field belonging to a farmer, is the Minister to have power to go down through that man's private avenue, go into the field and interfere with the activities in that field—which happens to be the sale of livestock? The Minister would be better occupied in giving some thought to the possibility of improving cattle exports and stabilising cattle prices. We know the difficulties which are arising under the agreement with Britain in relation to the sale of cattle to Britain. Instead of pressing this Bill forward in order to get one over on the NFA, the Minister should spend more of his time fighting with the British Minister of Agriculture on behalf of our farmers.

I know that he had a meeting with the Minister of Agriculture, and I read that this Minister had a successful interview with the British Minister. However, unfortunately, some statements have come out since from the Farmers Union over there which have not been helpful in any way to the trading relations of this country so far as livestock are concerned. That is the kind of work it would be better for the Minister to be engaged in at present instead of going ahead with this kind of Bill that is designed to annoy farmers, to annoy owners, and, in fact, to achieve nothing.

He mentioned something about animal health and hygiene. Unfortunately, human health and hygiene need a good deal of attention in this country as it is. I notice that the Minister mentioned in his reply that he was contemplating a meat promotion board. Here, again, there is nothing in this Bill which will have anything to do with meat marketing. This meat marketing board was promised before the Presidential election by the previous Minister for Agriculture, and the NFA were very pleased with that promise, but when the election was over that promise was not fulfilled.

The Minister, perhaps in his Dáil statement, said that he wanted to ensure that the marts would be enabled to transact business withbona fide clients. I can envisage a situation, especially having regard to the activities between the NFA and the Government in the past, where John Brown will be appearing again at those marts, and apparently he will be very welcome. If he is not allowed to enter, the licence of the mart might be withdrawn. We know the infamous activity of John Brown in the past.

Do not go back to the Blueshirts now.

Of course, we know that that organisation ensured freedom of speech in this country and fought for democracy.

They have gone back to everything this year except the battering ram.

They were good enough to get commissions in the army during the emergency.

Senators who wish to indulge in personal conversations might retire from the Chamber.

What I wanted to mention about this is that it has been said here that it is intended that nobody will be kept from going into a mart, and that those who run the marts must now allow every Tom, Dick and Harry into the marts, every trouble maker along the road who can come in and make trouble puffing and bidding, and that every chancer and trickster in the country can complain to the Minister if he is not allowed to enter the premises of those marts which are licensed to carry on the business of marts. If the bids of these tricksters and chancers are not accepted in the marts they can now complain to the Minister, who in turn can threaten the marts with the withdrawal of the licence.

These are the situations which the present Marts Bill will promote. There is nothing in the Bill to relate to the type of persons who may be allowed to enter those marts or who may be part of their activities. We know ourselves that those marts are in the hands of very reputable auctioneers, and those auctioneers know their clients. They know the puffer and the chancer and the fellow who has the rubber cheque in his pocket, but now this kind of people are entitled to go in and bid and the auctioneer must accept that bid, and if he does not he is likely to have the licence of that mart withdrawn.

It is quite true that there were never so many people worried about a piece of legislation as about this one, with the exception of the Succession Bill, and, to his credit be it said, let us remember that the Minister who was responsible for the introduction of the Succession Bill threw it in the wastepaper basket when he found that a very large number of people were opposed to it and that there was an outcry against it. There is an outcry against this Bill. There is a widespread outcry against it.

What is the evidence of it?

Anybody who is able to read newspapers. Of course, the Senator has been reading theIrish Press. He will know better if he reads some of the independent newspapers and the Irish Times.

Capital "I" for independent.

The Fine Gael hack in theSunday Independent, for instance.

I am only mentioning to Senator Ryan that there is plenty to be seen in the newspapers in relation to this matter, and, in fact, Senator FitzGerald and Senator O'Quigley have already produced a large number of cuttings from various newspapers, not alone editorials from the newspapers themselves but also comments from various organisations, associations and representative bodies. All those people have spoken out against the Bill.

Now I notice Senator Yeats back here again.

I have been here all the time.

Well, I am sorry, Senator. When I looked around for you a few minutes ago there was no sign of you. Senator Yeats mentioned the Dairy Produce Act, 1924, the Creamery Act, 1928, the Pigs and Bacon Act, 1935, the Poultry Hatcheries Act, 1947, the Livestock Act, 1947, the Seed Production Act, 1955, the Fertilisers Act, 1958, and the Agricultural Fisheries Act, 1947. Was there any kind of public agitation or any widespread opposition to any of those Bills?

That is the point.

That is the point. Fianna Fáil accepted them. In other words, every one of those Bills provided a service which was considered necessary and was accepted by the people affected, and was considered necessary. But in this case the people affected are up in arms against it.

In addition to that you have independent bodies and associations such as, if I may repeat myself since Senator E. Ryan was not here, the Incorporated Law Society——

Repetition is not in order.

I am sorry. I am only repeating this for Senator E. Ryan.

The Senator may not be disorderly.

As I say, there are many other matters that the Minister could get busy about at present. There is the soil committee which we were waiting for for a long time. They have reported and we are waiting for something from the Minister on it. Similarly, there is the horse breeding committee. Nothing has been done about any of these things. The Minister could have brought them a step further instead of bringing in this Bill on the eve of the holidays, or at least on what we expected to be the eve of the holidays.

What will be, with the help of God.

That is not likely to be the case, because we have a duty here to deal with this Bill word by word, line by line, and we have only got past section 1 so far.

You have not got to the Bill yet.

The Dáil only got as far as section 1. We have a lot to do still here on the sections. Remember this, that the marts committees ought to have a right to reserve admission to the places at which a sale is being held, but this Bill does not give any right to the marts committees to reserve admission. The Minister might argue, and, indeed, I was reading in Deputy Gibbons' speech that certain persons might be excluded from the marts for one reason or another. They might stop the scab or the black leg, as one of the Labour Deputies described them. Well, if there are scabs or blacklegs surely the marts committees are entitled to reserve the right to admit such persons, but apparently there is no right of admission reserved as far as the marts are concerned.

Debate adjourned.
The Seanad adjourned at 10 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, July 27th.