The Chair suggests that amendments Nos. 1, 5, 6, 10, 13, 36, 37, 41, 43, 44, 47, 48, 49, 53 54, 55, 56 and 57 be taken together.
Livestock Marts Bill, 1967: Committee Stage.
I am afraid I must ask you, Sir, to speak those numbers a little more slowly.
The Chair has spoken.
Would you oblige the House by repeating the numbers, Sir?
The Chair wishes to inform the House that the Senators involved in these amendments have been informed of the suggestion.
Five minutes ago.
Once again, the amendments are: Nos. 1, 5, 6——
I can deal with them slightly faster than that.
Nos. 1, 5, 6, 10, 13, 36, 37, 41, 43, 44, 47, 48, 49, 53, 54, 56 and 57.
Thank you, Sir.
The suggestion is agreed?
It is understood that the decision on No. 1 will govern the decision on the rest?
I move amendment No. 1:
To delete lines 13 to 16 and substitute "‘livestock mart' means a place constructed or reconstructed for the sale of livestock by auction".
The point raised here is one which I, indeed, mentioned on the Second Stage as an example of the way in which the drafting of the Bill could be improved in Committee and you will recall that I asked the Minister for an assurance that he would be willing to consider on their merits amendments put forward to improve the Bill and would be prepared to accept them if it could be shown that they would, in fact, have that effect.
In this instance, the wording of the definition "business of a livestock mart" is extremely cumbersome and as a result of its cumbersomeness, an effect is produced which seems to be unintended. At least, I would be surprised if it were intended and I would be surprised if the Minister claimed that it was intended. The definition, as you will see, a Chathaoirleach, is "business of a livestock mart" means two things — the business of selling livestock by auction—that is the first thing — or the business of — words understood—providing a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction, "providing" being modified by the clause "for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise".
The crucial words to which I direct your attention are, "business of a livestock mart" means the business of providing a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction. That is one of the two things which "business of a livestock mart" can mean.
It seems to me that this is unnecessary, first of all, because what the Minister wants to do is to regulate the carrying on of the business of livestock marts. I do not understand, although I am quite prepared to hear him on this, why he would want to regulate the business of providing livestock marts as distinct from the business of running them. It may very well be that various organisations exist or could exist for the purpose of providing livestock marts to be leased out and run by other people. The Minister's concern, and it is, as I said on Second Reading, a proper concern, is for the proper running of those marts by the people concerned with their running I am, therefore, puzzled as to the need for this particular reference but perhaps the Minister might be able to indicate that he has some reason for this and on this I should like to hear him.
What bothers me, however, is that as a result of the insertion of this phrase here, the rest of the Bill becomes very cumbersome indeed in drafting and in one respect at least it makes nonsense because if you relate this definition in section 1 to section 2 (1), you find that the effect of the extension of the definition to this second alternative is to introduce the regulation of livestock marts to the place at which a business is carried on of providing livestock marts. That is to say, that if you have a group, perhaps, with headquarters in Dublin or somewhere else, whose interests involve the establishment of livestock marts throughout the country, financing the building of them and then leasing them out to another group to run, then the effect of section 2 (1) is to extend the regulations of this Bill, not to these livestock marts which will, of course, be covered by the first alternative of the definition, but to the offices in Dublin of the company providing the marts.
I doubt very much if this was intended. Indeed, when one reads later on in the Bill the kind of thing the Minister wishes to regulate, including matters of hygiene, it is pretty obvious the he is not seeking to regulate the headquarters in Dublin, Cork or anywhere else, of groups providing livestock marts and yet this is the effect of the combination of the second alternative part of the definition and section 2 (1), which says:
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.
Applying to the words "business of a livestock mart" in that clause the second part of the definition, the wording you then get is:
A person shall not carry on the business of providing a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction at any place——
shall not carry on that business at any place
——unless there is for the time being a licence in force in respect of that place.
The effect of the Bill, therefore, is to require that the offices of any group providing livestock marts shall themselves be licensed as livestock marts even though they may be a backroom or a group of front rooms in a building in Dublin all, evidently, not used as livestock marts.
It is quite clear that the Minister did not intend this. I take it he does not propose to issue licences or does not wish to be involved in issuing licences for such offices, to license them as marts and to inspect the hygiene of them. This is not his intention; yet, this is the effect of the loose drafting here and is the effect, in particular, of introducing this second and, I think, unnecessary alternative in the definition section, unnecessary for what the Minister seeks to achieve. Indeed, as I said on Second Reading, one has sympathy with some of the objects of the Bill. Even if one may object to the timing of its introduction, the way it is being pressed or some of the contents of the Bill, the need for some Bill of this kind exists. Nevertheless, one does not accept readily that this is what the Minister wants to achieve or that it is appropriate that he should achieve it.
Therefore, I went through the Bill with some care and have proposed the series of amendments, the first of which is the critical one, others being consequential. The purport of the amendment is to define "business of a livestock mart" much more narrowly and specifically by deleting lines 13 to 16 and by virtue of the amendment proposed here, "livestock mart" is defined rather than "business of a livestock mart" because what the Minister seeks to do, if I understand correctly what he said on Second Reading, is to regulate livestock marts to ensure that they are run properly, both as regards the business side and as regards matters like hygiene, and to ensure the efficient running of livestock marts in the public interest. It is not so much the business of the livestock mart as the livestock mart as a place, the Minister is trying to get at. In fact, the word "place" keeps recurring in the Bill and it is in the Bill because of the cumbersomeness of this initial definition, because the Minister has sought to define, not a livestock mart, which would make the whole Bill much simpler, but the business of a livestock mart.
My amendment proposes to define "livestock mart" rather than "business of a livestock mart" and to define it as a place, thereby getting at what the Minister is trying to get at, the regulation of these places. My amendment and the consequential amendments throughout the Bill will simplify the Bill and get over this anomaly, an unintended anomaly, I am sure, by virtue of which, as the Bill is now drafted, the Minister would be obliged to license offices of groups who are in the business of providing livestock marts.
I do not see that the Minister has any alternative, under the Bill as drafted, but to issue licences in respect of these headquarters premises of groups involved in providing livestock marts. Any such group would be in contravention of the law as drafted here if the premises from which its operations of providing livestock marts were not licensed by the Minister. Therefore I should like to ask the Minister if it is proposed to license such headquarters premises. If it is, then well and good, but it seems a very odd procedure, and I think he ought to tell us why he thinks it necessary to license offices of this kind for the purpose of hygiene and so on.
If the Minister does not propose to issue licences in respect of these headquarters premises, then it is essential to amend the Bill; otherwise, any group who wish to carry on the business of providing livestock marts will find it impossible to do so, as no matter where they have their place of business for this purpose, they will not be operating within the law without a licence.
Perhaps the Minister would tell us why he has included the second phrase. Is there some reason which has not occurred to me for extending this regulatory system to the place of the business of providing livestock marts and, if so, does he intend to issue a livestock mart licence in respect of this place of business? If not, how does he propose that such a firm should carry on business legally?
In the various amendments I have put down, I have tried to carry through the logic of the point I am making, and to point out all the changes that would be required as a consequence of the change I am proposing. I think these changes are needed, and I hope the Minister will meet me on this point and that he will explain how this particularly odd terminology has got into the Bill.
The whole purpose of the Bill is to control livestock marts as we understand them and as they are normally operated. However, we must keep in mind the possibility of attempts to circumvent such control. Bearing that in mind, I would say that the Bill and the definition as it is drafted in the Bill is as fair and reasonable as can be devised.
It would help us if the Minister would indicate the kind of evasion he has in mind. I am not familiar with the business of livestock marts and I am not clear how one could evade the control and the running of the mart, which is what the Minister wants to supervise by a procedure of the kind which appears to be envisaged by the wording here. The Minister could enlighten as to what activity he has in mind and what he is trying to cover. There is no point in trying to cover a loophole which the Minister cannot imagine.
I would also ask him to reply to my question as to whether he intends to license as a livestock mart the premises of the headquarters of a group engaging in this kind of business. If it is not so intended, then such a group, as I have said, could have no place within the country in which they could carry on their business legally. If it is a question of a loophole he wishes to cover—and I am thinking on my feet because I was not prepared for the point made by the Minister—then the right way to proceed would be to provide that no one shall carry on with the business of a livestock mart without a licence and, consequently, that the Minister may make regulations of some kind requiring that a licence be issued in respect of these headquarters premises about which we are talking, but to create a situation in which nobody can run this kind of business unless it is licensed as a livestock mart seems nonsensical. Perhaps the Minister would tell us, first, the kind of evasion he has in mind, and, secondly, whether it is his intention that headquarters premises should be licensed.
I do not think what is being discussed at the moment has any relevance to the amendment proposed. In order that I may understand what Senator FitzGerald is getting at, I should like to ask him what he intends in his proposed amendment No. 1, which I do not think has the effect he imagines. I should like to hear from the Senator how he thinks it changes the situation under the existing Bill.
I thought I had explained that. The purpose of the amendment is to apply the system of licensing not to the business of a livestock mart as defined in the present definition section but to the place of a livestock mart. As I said, the word "place" recurs throughout the Bill but "place" in each case has a double meaning. Because of the two-pronged wording of the definition section, "place" in each instance can mean either the livestock mart, the physical place where the sale of livestock is carried on, or it can mean the place of business that may be organising the provision of livestock marts. What I want to do is to eliminate the second meaning because it does not seem to be necessary. It seems to be quite inappropriate that a livestock mart licence should be issued in respect of these premises. I want to get rid of that provision. I hope that clarifies the point and that the Minister will answer the questions I put to him.
No; it does not clarify it very much. The amendment does not give the control or the cover that would be desirable in a case such as this. So far as control is concerned, it would do the job but it could, under this definition as proposed, which is substituting something for that which was already there—at least partly—be open to evasion by a person who had been either refused a licence or had a licence revoked and who would determine that he would carry on business in any case by having temporary pens and a temporary rostrum and all his paraphernalia of a merely temporary kind.
I do not see how "constructed or reconstructed" would cover that sort of situation. Indeed, it would throw one back to the term already used, that is the one which the Senator proposed to abandon, "adapted". That is a word which covers it much better and more securely than the words "constructed or reconstructed". That is one way in which I can visualise this situation developing and I am sure that is something that the Senator does not wish to allow to come to pass and that is the person who has been refused a licence or whose licence has been revoked setting himself up by temporary measures and cocking a snook at the law, while others had to conform to the law and have proper pens and proper equipment in every way.
I can see the Minister's difficulty now. I am sorry I did not understand the point at first. The point he is making arises from the fact that there is a double change in this amendment and what the Minister is concerned about at the moment is not the point I was making in respect of the elimination of the provision in relation to the licensing of the business of providing premises adapted for the sale of livestock by auction. He is concerned about the fact that I have proposed to modify the word "adapted" to "constructed or reconstructed". This was something that was put own in the Dáil. I have not read what was said in the Dáil but my understanding of the purposes of the amendment was that the word "adapt" might not cover—and perhaps on this the Minister could enlighten me—what the Bill proposes to cover as livestock marts.
The word "adapted" in its ordinary use—there may be a lawyer's meaning and a lawyer's view of it—concerns something which existed previously for the purpose but which has been changed and it seems to me to cover "constructed and reconstructed". My fear was that the use of the word "adapted" would not cover a building which was used as a livestock mart in the first instance if it was taken in its ordinary meaning. It may be that legally "adapted" can have a meaning quite the contrary, the meaning of something constructed especially for the purpose. When we talk about adaptation of Irish industry to free trade conditions we do not talk about the widening out of industry and establishing completely new industries but about improving and modifying existing industries so that they can survive in free trade conditions. That is the ordinary meaning of "adapted", adapting something that already exists. I should feel that the wording of the Bill as it is, unless the Minister has very good advice to the contrary on that point and can give legal precedents, would not have the effect that he wishes but would exclude premises built specially for the purpose of a livestock mart many of which exist and which the Minister seems very keen to bring within the framework of this Bill.
This is intended to be taken separately from the main point I was making and I should like to hear the Minister on the main point first. Then we could revert to the point I was making in the first instance from which the Minister has moved away to this other aspect of the amendment.
The term in the Bill is "a place adapted". That could be an open field that a man could adapt. Whether it was by a complete building or part of a building or in some other way made suitable or fit is the meaning of adapted as I understand it. This, applied to a place, could have any of the meanings including "construction or reconstruction" of a building and pens of a temporary nature that could be taken away or anything of that nature which for the time being could be said to have adapted the place or made it suitable or fit for this sort of business. This is the manner in which we see it and the manner in which I have been advised that it covers in a suitable way what we wish to cover in this definition section.
If the Minister is satisfied with that, very well. I must say I have some lingering qualms about it. I think I could see a court ruling that the fact that a building had been constructedab initio where nothing previously existed did not constitute adaptation, the word “adaptation” meaning a change of some kind in something that had already existed but not something constructed de novo. I am not entirely happy that the Minister is well advised but if the Minister is satisfied that his Bill and his purpose will not be frustrated by the use of the word “adapted” I would not press that point. In the light of what he has said, I am quite prepared on the Fourth Stage to revert to the word “adapted” which he has used and which he says is satisfactory and safe from his point of view.
Having said that, I should like to go back to the first point I was making. Let us, for a moment, assume that the words "constructed or reconstructed" to which he has objected are changed to "adapted". Now, could we deal with the first point I was making? If, in fact, the amendment read: "Livestock mart means a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction," this would rule out the provision of livestock mart licences for the headquarters premises of groups providing livestock marts.
I think the Minister was about to explain what sort of evasion was bothering him. He has mentioned one evasion already, the evasion of temporary arrangements being made which he felt would be encouraged rather than discouraged by using the words "constructed or reconstructed". If we switch, on the Fourth Stage, to "adapted" in this amendment would he explain what kind of evasion that would then in his view in his own text require the addition of the second alternative aspect of the definition which involves the provision of livestock marts licences for these headquarters premises? Does he intend that any groups of this kind which have headquarters premises shall receive livestock mart licences?
The definition in the Bill as we have presented it to the House proposes to control (1) the business of selling livestock by auction irrespective of where it takes place.
Does that include a farm?
Never mind that for a moment. It proposes to control (2) the business of providing a place for such sale or sales designed to circumvent auctioning. That is the essence of this matter.
I do not understand that point.
I rather thought that but I am doing the best I can.
"The provision of a place to circumvent auctioning", what do those words mean? I cannot follow what lies behind that. How could a place circumvent an auction?
The business of providing a place to facilitate the circumvention of auctioning.
A point occurs to me arising out of what both the Minister and Senator FitzGerald have said. It is this: Take a company which is the owner of a livestock mart or, if not the owner, is engaged in the business of selling livestock by auction, that company will have its place of business and that place of business will be its registered office and if it carries on business at its registered office, it seems to me you will have the peculiar situation that the registered office of a company will require to be licensed, as I understand the Bill, because it is carrying on, at its registered office, the business of selling livestock by auction. A peculiar situation will arise with regard to this and it is one which I imagine, has not occurred to the Minister. You have many solicitors' offices and you frequently have accountants' and auditors' offices which are the registered offices of companies. It seems to me that we may find ourselves in the ludicrous position of having to issue a licence to a company in respect of a place where it carries on the business of a livestock mart, the business of selling livestock by auction, that is, at its registered office in an auditor's or solicitor's office.
How can they do that?
If a company is registered, as it has to be, and it frequently happens that it is registered in a solicitor's office, or an auditor's office, or an accountant's office, and carries on the business of selling livestock by auction at its registered office, it seems to me that we are going to have someone applying for a licence in respect of the firm of X, Y and Z, Chartered Accountants, which it does not own, but which is its registered office. The owner of the office may not allow that. He may say: "I do not want to have anything to do with the Minister for Agriculture. I do not want to end up in Mountjoy, or bound to the peace for 12 months, or anything of that kind. Get out." We are then going to have a queer situation.
It seems to me that a registered company that is carrying on at its registered office the business of selling livestock by auction—even if it is only a firm of auctioneers who auction cattle and nothing else, or who auction cattle in addition to other things—may be said to be carrying on the business of a livestock mart because its business is the selling of livestock by auction, and it isinter alia carrying out this business in the company's registered office. It seems to me that we may end up with a situation in which a solicitor's office or an accountant's or an auditor's office, will have to be registered also for carrying out the business of a livestock mart. It will not be a case of a pig in a parlour, but a pig in a solicitor's or accountant's office.
I support what Senator O'Quigley has said. The point about a solicitor's office or an accountant's office was one I was going to make. I want to go back to what the Minister said before to see if I understood it correctly. It seems to me that the point he is making is that the selling of livestock by auction at licensed places is covered in the Bill. I should like to put it to him that my amendment has the same effect. There is no question, as I understand my own amendment, of in any way enabling this business of selling livestock by auction to be carried on anywhere else, because if my amendments to section 2 (1) were accepted the section would read:
A person shall not carry on the business of a livestock mart unless there is for the time being a licence in force in respect of that livestock mart.
The whole business of a livestock mart could only be carried on at a place where there is a licence in force in respect of it. It seems to me that I have covered the point there. If the Minister feels that my amendments would open up the possibility of selling livestock other than at licensed places, that is something we could consider on Report Stage. I think it is covered by the wording there.
I want the Minister to reply to Senator O'Quigley's point about the wording of the Bill requiring that the office of any company which provides livestock marts must be licensed as a livestock mart. I want to direct the Minister's attention to that point, and I want him to deal with it and answer it, and say what his intentions are with regard to solicitors' and accountants' offices, and whether he intends to license them as places where the business of a livestock mart is carried on under this Bill.
So far, the Minister has made several points which seemed reasonable in themselves, but they are peripheral and relate to the wording of the amendment which could be modified on Report Stage. He has not directed his mind, or at any rate has not directed his words, towards the point we are making. Assuming that any of the points he has made can be put through a tightening-up operation on Report Stage, I would ask him to give us his interpretation of the Bill in this respect, and to tell us his intention with regard to the licensing of these offices.
I cannot subscribe at all to the last suggestion made. Reduced to simple terms, it means that some cattle mart company in Thurles or Clonmel, which has its registered office in an accountant's office in Dublin, is carrying on the business of selling cattle by auction in that accountant's office in Dublin.
No. It is carrying on this business by providing a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction.
Surely an accountant's office in Dublin is not a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction.
"Business of a livestock mart" is defined in the Bill as "the business of selling livestock by auction or providing... a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction". An accountant's office could be the registered headquarters of a company whose business is providing a place.
I find it very difficult to understand this. Do I understand that the point is in regard to a hypothetical company in Dublin which is building livestock marts?
Is it running livestock marts or building livestock marts?
With respect to the Senator, it is what the Minister means by "providing".
I listened to Senator FitzGerald and Senator O'Quigley but, with the best will in the world, I was unable to make out what the point is. Are they talking about a company building livestock marts or about a company running livestock marts.
I may help Senator Yeats on this. "Business of a livestock mart" means the business of selling livestock by auction. If the company has a registered office, which it must have, it carries on this business at that registered office. That may not necessarily be the physical location of the office.
We do not intend to license solicitors' offices, accountants' offices, or any other such offices for the purpose of carrying on the business of a livestock mart. We do not envisage the holding of auctions in them. Neither do we envisage stock physically confined in such business premises, premises in which solicitors, accountants, and so on, carry on business. I am sure the Senator will accept that that is not the intention and that such a provision would not be contained in this Bill by this or any other Minister. That is the first question Senator Garret FitzGerald wants answered.
I am not quite sure what the second was, but I presume the intentions defined here in this Bill are as clear to the Senator as they are to everybody else. As I said, the Bill is designed to bring about a certain amount of control in relation to the normal processes of the livestock mart business. In having such control, it is necessary to take particular care that those who would circumvent that control will not be enabled to do so. That is, I think, a reasonable approach. I doubt if there is any Senator here, including those who have spoken in support of their own amendment, who would wish us to put through an amendment here which would bring into licensing control all those marts that are being run properly and that will continue to be run properly. If they improve their premises from the point of view of layout, structure, amenities and facilities, I am sure no one would suggest that, as a result of a decision here, all that should be brought under licensing, while, at the same time, enabling others who would not wish to conform to find a way out and run unlicensed establishments at no loss to themselves but to the loss of those who are actually conforming, who are doing a good job and who wish to continue doing it.
These are the two ways in which we have got to look at a measure such as this. If we are having licensing, we must ensure that we bring all those who are participating in the business within the confines of our jurisdiction and not only that but must make sure that others who wish to remain outside the jurisdiction are not facilitated in doing so by us. It is from that double standpoint one arrives at definitions such as this, definitions designed to make sure that both ends are covered. The legal advice I have is that this section does that in the best way and I cannot really add anything to the knowledge and experience of my legal advisers and of those engaged in drafting over the years.
First of all, it would appear to me that the Minister holds that the Cork Co-operative Mart is not carrying on its business, which is the business of selling livestock by auction, at the place where they hold their board meetings. This is a very dubious legal point.
As a matter of fact, that is not what I said. I said I had no intention of licensing under the Livestock Marts Act, when it becomes law, any such places as solicitors' or accountants' offices.
I was drawing a logical conclusion from the statement made by the Minister. It seems to me that, if he does not license them, that can only be because he believes that at such places the business of a livestock mart is not being carried on. I put it to the Minister that, first of all, the business of the Cork Co-operative Mart is the business of selling livestock by auction, as I understand the operations of that firm, and, secondly, that firm is carrying on its business at whatever place the board meets. I would ask the Minister to state which, if either, of these two propositions he favours?
I have no argument for either. They have no relevance to what is in the Bill.
If the business of Cork Co-operative Mart is the business of selling livestock by auction and if they are carrying on their businessvis-á-vis the business of selling livestock by auction where the board meets, then the place where the board meets must be licensed. I think that is a syllogism.
If the Senator wants that, then he should say so, but I have no intention of doing it.
What about another Minister?
I am not suggesting the Minister ever wanted or intended anything of the kind. I can appreciate he does not want this and he does not intend to do this, but this is an unintended effect of the Bill, as drafted, and I am quite clear as to what is intended and I am quite clear that this is the effect of the Bill, as drafted, and I have put to the Minister a syllogism, the logic of which I defy him to disprove. That is an appropriate method of debate. The Minister having said he accepts both propositions, there is no other conclusion than that the place where the board meeting is held is the place where the company is carrying on its business and the business of the company is selling livestock by auction anda fortiori, then that place must be licensed or else the board cannot meet. The Minister says he agrees with that. He should explain how one does not follow from the other.
The second point is a separate point raised by Senator O'Quigley. I should like the Minister to tell me which place he would envisage as being relevant? You could have a firm whose business is livestock marts, their building, construction and leasing. Such a company might have no other place of business at all other than its registered office. Having built the marts and leased them out, the place of business would be the registered office. What has the Minister in mind? The only places he can license would be the place of business or the registered office. The marts themselves would be licensed to the person carrying on the business there, so that would not arise, and, in those circumstances, the Bill requires that the Minister licenses a place where a firm carries on the business of selling livestock by auction and it seems to me he would be obliged to license them then. Again, I think we deserve an answer.
I am quite prepared to put forward amendments to my amendment on Report Stage. It would, I think, probably require two amendments to meet the Minister's points and to meet his requirements fully. One is that the word "adapted" be put in instead of "constructed or reconstructed" but, if the Minister is happy with "adapted", then I do not want to interfere with it. Secondly, in the light of my amendment, it may be necessary somewhere in the Bill to say, if this is the Minister's intention, that the business of selling livestock by auction shall be carried on only at legal marts. It is possible that in the form in which I have tentatively suggested amending it that would not emerge as a clear statement. I have been thinking about this and I would be prepared to meet the Minister on that point, if he is worried that my amendment would not meet the position. If I do that, I think the confusion he seems to fear is one which could not arise under the amendment I now propose.
The Minister said that the Bill is designed to prevent livestock being sold by auction anywhere except at a licensed place. I understand—perhaps I did not follow out the debate fully or properly in this respect—that, in fact, sales of livestock at a farm, for example, after the death of someone, were not covered by the Bill. Is it in fact the case that nobody may sell livestock by auction except at a livestock mart in future? Is that what the Minister intends? He seems to imply that in what he said to me. If that is the case, it will be necessary for me to meet that point in order to ensure that my amendments will not leave room for confusion. Is that, in fact, what the Minister intends? This is an important point. This had not been my understanding of it, but perhaps I did not read the debate with adequate care.
Perhaps the Minister would say if it is his intention that no auction of any kind of livestock will be held except at a livestock mart in future. There may be a working office as well as a registered office but there is no doubt at all that the registered office forms part of the place where the company, the firm of auctioneers, is carrying on its business. There is no doubt at all about that. If somebody wants to address a communication to the company in relation to its business, the proper and certain place to which the letter shall be addressed as provided in the Companies Act, 1963, is the registered office. May I refresh my learned friend's memory on the other side by referring to section 113 of the Companies Act, 1963? At subsection (1) it says:
A company shall, as from the day on which it begins to carry on business or as from the fourteenth day after the date of its incorporation, whichever is the earlier, have a registered office in the State to which all communications and notices may be addressed.
Would it not be the height of folly on the part of the Legislature in 1963 to direct, ordain or enact that communications were to be sent to a company not to a place where it carries on its business or rather to a place where it does not carry on its business? Would that not be the height of absurdity? What it does is it makes certain that a company being a ubiquitous creature, having no fixed abode shall have a fixed abode, that is, its registered office. That is the first starting place from which a company carries on its business. There is no doubt at all that it may also carry on at other offices but the principal place of business and its principal address is the registered office. That being so, we come back to the section. A company, a firm of auctioneers, would be carrying on the business of a livestock mart, if it is engaged in the business of selling livestock by auction and it will do that at the livestock mart itself, at an office in the town near the bank or at its registered office—at all three places; wherever it has an office, it carries on business—and therefore at the accountant's or solicitor's office if they are the registered offices of the company.
When cheques are being lodged at the local bank it is carrying on business there too.
No; that is an absurd and unwarranted intrusion by Senator Nash. That does not arise at all. There is no doubt at all about it wherever it has an office it is carrying on business. Therefore, if it sells livestock by auction it is in the business of a livestock mart and, therefore, under section 2, subsection (1) it will be necessary to license the offices of auctioneers, auditors, solicitors and every other place where the business is carried on.
I should like to clarify for Senator Yeats that I was raising a different point. I had no discussion with Senator O'Quigley on this amendment. He has strengthened my case by pointing out that not alone in respect of the second part of this definition but in respect of the first part a difficulty exists because of the wording of the Bill. My point related to the question of the case of a company providing livestock marts in the sense of constructing them and leasing them out. I realise now, as Senator O'Quigley pointed out, that the same is true as regards the business of selling livestock by auction. You can hardly say the directors of the Cork Cooperative Marts are not carrying on the business of a livestock mart when they meet—as I believe they do—in the solicitor's office which is the registered office of that company for their board meetings. To say that the board of a company when it meets as a board is not carrying on the business of the company would be ludicrous and the Bill requires that when they are carrying on the business of this company that this must be done in places licensed for this purpose under the Bill. Therefore, I would support Senator O'Quigley on his extension of the point I was making but I do want to distinguish the two points. They are separate and I think they have to be considered separately. I feel they are both valid and I would ask the Minister to answer the reasonable questions that I put to him in the first instance on which we still have not heard from him.
The longer we speak on this the more confused we are getting. Surely to goodness the business of selling livestock by auction is not transacted in any place or anywhere except at the auction where the cattle are sold. There it is the business of selling livestock by auction. Can anyone on the other side tell us where in any office in Dublin or Cork is the business of selling cattle by auction transacted? It can only be transacted in the places which the Minister is endeavouring to have suitable. I should like to ask the Minister the position, for instance, of the RDS which carries on sales at present. I presume they would have to be licensed under this Bill.
No, they would be exempted.
Do not answer me, please. I was asking the Minister.
I was trying to be helpful to the Minister.
Sales of cattle in the Dublin Market are carried on in the premises outside the Dublin Market which traditionally have been used down through the years. They are not classified as marts. They are not called marts at any rate but three or four firms have carried on sales down through the years. I presume that under this Bill they would also have to comply with the regulations of an auction mart, though I am satisfied they are never called an auction mart. Those are things that occur to me but it never occured to me that we could raise the question of whether cattle were sold in a solicitor's office.
I should like to answer a question put to me by Senator Ó Donnabháin by putting two questions to him. Is it not the case that the business of the Cork Cooperative Marts is the business of selling livestock? Does Senator Ó Donnabháin negate that proposition? If he accepts that, does he deny that they carry on the business of the company when the board of directors meet and where they meet?
If they meet in a hotel, they would not be carrying on the business.
Indeed, they would.
I will not carry on a conversation such as has been carried on unfortunately.
Senator Ó Donnabháin raised a very interesting point. He referred to the sales in Dublin and he said they were never described as marts. I presume he is referring to Ganleys, Gavin Lowes and Craigies. They were always referred to as sales and I presume that they are not exempt from the Livestock Marts Bill because, in effect, they are livestock marts.
That is the question I was asking.
I want to raise a point on that. They have their offices across the street from these sales yards and where livestock might not be sold in the yard, it is possible the sale might take place along the street——
Let us be quite clear that if you have in the Dublin Cattle Market certain auctioneers carrying on the business of selling livestock by auction they are also carrying on the exact same business of selling livestock by auction when they write out cheques in their office to complete the sales or fill up documents. There is no doubt about it and these are their registered offices.
I did not refer to the sale of cattle in the Dublin Cattle Market and the Senator is irregular in that. It is a different thing entirely.
Is the amendment being pressed?
Oh, yes. I am hoping the Minister will deal with it. I think he was waiting for the general discussion to develop before he spoke on it but I hope he will give his answer before I conclude. I should be glad if the Minister could help us on that point.
I have not said that.
Then I do not understand the point the Minister was making.
I do not know what point the Senator is attributing to having been made by me. I am at a loss to know what it is.
I understood the Minister to say that my amendments as drafted would mean that people could sell livestock at some place other than a mart by putting up a stall or some such structure and that it would not be a licensed mart. If it was not a mart you could sell. The Minister is nodding his head, which I take to be agreement that the business of livestock may take place only in a livestock mart.
That is a very logical conclusion.
I would be glad to have that point explained.
Could I possibly relieve the Senator of a great deal of difficulty? He has got around to the point where his amendment could be suitably amended to meet my wishes. This is a hypothesis, that I am in some problem in regard to what I have already there. In fact, I have no such problem. What is already there is quite in keeping with what I want and is quite satisfactory, so far as my legal advisers have been able to advise me. The problem here is that the Senator is trying to find some way around his amendment to what I want. It is clearly defined in the definition section what I want. I have already there what I want.
The Minister is making one mistake on that. This is symptomatic of the Minister's outlook and that of his Party, because if he is happy with what he wants, then he is not concerned about the views of Seanad Éireann. That seems to me to be highly undemocratic. Because he is happy with the Bill, it does not matter what the views of anybody else are, whether that person be on this side of the House or on his own side. I think Senator FitzGerald is right in trying to ascertain what the position is. Since this Bill as drafted, in the main, will be operated by the present Minister for Agriculture, as long as he is Minister for Agriculture, we want to know the extent to which he proposes to go on one side and on the other. I say this quite sincerely as everything else I say quite sincerely. I am not happy with what is contained in this definition. I may anticipate what the Minister has to say. When he has the section exactly as it is drafted, if anybody wishes to consult me, in five minutes I will indicate to them how they can set the whole thing at nought and still use their livestock premises, and not a sin in the world will they commit against this Bill or any other statute.
OK, so why worry?
We are here as legislators.
We are here as legislators and it is in that capacity I am speaking. I can assure the House that this measure which has been so hastily conceived can be as hastily set aside. All one wants to know is a little about the Sale of Goods Act and the general law of contract. In no time at all the Minister can revoke old licences or may refuse licences and the owners of those properties can still use their property to exactly the same effect and in exactly the same way without any contravention of the law. There is no court in the world will find anybody guilty of any offence under this Bill.
I am not very much concerned from that point of view. The Minister may be happy with his definition. This is a case where ignorance is bliss and it would be folly from the point of view of those who oppose the Bill if the Minister were wise to what I have in mind. I am concerned that we are getting things a bit confused, as Senator Ó Donnabháin, the great clarifier, has pointed out. I will ask this question and it will be a ‘yes' or ‘no' answer. I think the answer is ‘no'. There is no doubt that the existing fairs will continue and that the existing fairs do not have to be licensed under this Bill. I would be glad if the Minister would say that existing fairs and markets will continue and that there will be no need to license them.
I want an assurance from the Minister on much the same lines. There is in the midlands an old-standing tradition, especially in regard to bacon pigs, by which buyers attend mostly in the yards of publichouses or business premises one day a week or one day a fortnight. They buy pigs either by weight or by hand or submit them to the factory and let them be graded. Those are the three ways in which this business is transacted. I wonder if the owners of publichouses or merchants who only facilitate their customers by allowing the buyers to stand in their premises for the convenience of the farmers in the surrounding area, will be prevented from doing this now. I should like the Minister to give the House an assurance that this business will be allowed to continue and that there will be no need to have licences for the continuance of this long-standing and recognised practice.
I take it that the Minister, by nodding his head earlier, agreed with me. Before we go any further, we must get this straight. It seems it is the Minister's intention that livestock shall not be sold by auction except in premises licensed for the purposes.
Yes; that is the Minister's intention in this regard. Does this mean that the sale of livestock which takes place on a farm after somebody dies would require a licence, if there is no exemption?
How many ways have I to say something for the Senator to understand?
I am sorry. On several occasions I have not completely understood the Minister and that is why I am being careful in regard to the particular wording. The Minister's intention is to ensure that the sale of livestock by auction shall be carried on in a livestock mart. This is the purpose of the Bill. I can see that my amendments as I have put them down might not quite ensure that. It was not my intention to weaken the Bill in any respect. I wanted to clarify matters and to strengthen the Bill.
I still put it to the Minister that the Bill as worded means that the place or business of an auction mart, which includes the registered offices of such premises, must be licensed and that also when those premises are leased out to people, they also have to be licensed as livestock marts. No other reading is possible under section 2(1) in conjunction with the definition section. I do not think the Minister can take any other meaning out of this when he reads both sections together. The Minister has said it is not his intention to license the registered offices of livestock marts or other places of business provided for livestock marts. The Bill as worded could create chaos in this business because people would not be able to carry on their business by holding their board meetings or by setting up and organising a group to provide livestock marts. They could not get a licence because the Minister has stated he does not intend to issue it, and, under the law as provided, it would be illegal for them to carry on business in those circumstances.
I have, therefore, made the case completely for the amendment of the section. I accept that the amendments as I have worded them are imperfect and would not meet the Minister's legitimate requirements. Nevertheless, I would press on the Minister that he should accept that there is a need for an amendment here and that between now and Report Stage, he should consider how this should be amended. It would be better that the Minister should amend the Bill than that I should set my hand to it further.
I would ask the Minister, in view of the fact that his case has not in any way refuted it, to reconsider this and by an amendment similar, though not necessarily identical, to mine to amend the Bill in this respect between now and Report Stage, so that it will not create this ridiculous situation which in its present form it will create.
The trouble here is that I appreciate Senator FitzGerald's anxiety about getting this Bill proper while at the same time giving my attention to Senator O'Quigley's admonition that the Bill, in fact, as it stands does not matter, that he could advise anybody for a few half-dollars or a few dollars how to obviate the entire impact of the Bill. This brings me to something I do not understand. While appreciating the anxiety of Senator FitzGerald and having given ear to the wise legal advice being threatened rather than offered by Senator O'Quigley, I just cannot, at the same time, reconcile these views with their Party view, which was that Fine Gael are against this Bill in every way they can possibly oppose it. This was the idea. What are they against if Senator O'Quigley says it means nothing? He can show how to get around it. If that is so, what were we doing when the Bill was opposed by Fine Gael line by line and word by word? What are all the 68 amendments about, some of which have come as late as this morning?
Senator FitzGerald is on his own in this matter. He does not belong to the Party. Or is Senator O'Quigley not in communication with the Party? Is it that they do not listen to the advice of the Party as I have been listening?
All this becomes terribly involved and gets away from the content or merit of the Bill. I wonder is the only sane sort of solution one can come to, what all these divergent contradictions from Fine Gael really boil down to, that we are not supposed to deal with the Bill, that we are to have our attention distracted in so many ways that the Bill fades into obscurity? Is this what we are to get from the various fronts presented by Fine Gael, the various faces of Fine Gael, might I say?
This does not help me to accept even on trust some of the things Senator FitzGerald says, or some of the things Senator O'Quigley says, or some of the things some of the other members of Fine Gael say, when I find and detect that these are a Party not only of several faces but of contradictory and opposing ideas as to what this, that and the other word means.
It is the ambiguity of the provision that gives rise to different points of view.
It is difficult to give any weight to the view of any of those who are so obviously anxious to contribute to the improvement of this Bill when they do not seem to agree among themselves. They are opposing each other in their views. They do not tally up in their views, individually or collectively, and I am at a loss to know what to do about the advice of Fine Gael in this matter. It is not possible for anybody to draw a conclusion from this. Obviously, neither the views of the two Senators who have spoken, nor those of the Party as a whole who have been at me for weeks about this Bill, add up. One would think that we are dealing with a completely different document here today from that which we have discussed on a broad basis and at great length with the Fine Gael Party as a whole. Trying to see through all the mists created by these various approaches, possibly explained by what Senator FitzGerald says, that he had not been talking to Senator O'Quigley before he came in here——
On this amendment.
——on this amendment—this may explain the divergence of views. What Fine Gael are trying to say is still not clarified. But, probably what I am trying to do is so clear and has been said so often that even Senator O'Quigley must at this stage appreciate what is intended. His anxiety and the anxiety of his colleague to try to attribute what has already been said, meaning that it was never intended, or inferred, to the exercise of great imaginations and hallucinations as we described them the other day, is the only way one can begin to understand the contributions of Senators on the Fine Gael Front Bench on this Bill.
I am driven back to where I started, that is, what we intend to do under this Bill. We have it clear enough, provided you give cognisance to the fact that there are commas here and there in this definition section which I am told are there to facilitate the understanding of what is in it. I know I do not have to say this to Senator Garret FitzGerald or to Senator O'Quigley because both of them and particularly Senator O'Quigley, are quite adept at reading not only the commas in certain passages but those that might be left out. They are there for the benefit of those who may glance across the lines in great haste but they do mean something. They are intended to convey something, and having regard to the commas and the words as well, any commonsense sort of person having read it, will get the message. This is so evident that to try to follow the various advices I have been getting would only confuse those who already understand what is in the Bill. I should not like to do this.
I did, I hope, educate many of the Senators' colleagues as to what is in this section. I believe they know and accept what is in it, that they have a full understanding of what is in it, and that any of those little asides that are being thrown in will confuse them. Quite certainly I should not like the Fine Gael Party getting confused as to what is in the Bill because they fought so hard against it that it would be a letdown if it could be shown that they did not know what they were fighting against. Indeed, perhaps, I gave too much credence to the divergent views expressed by Fine Gael and the views of the two Fine Gael front benchers in this House.
We will not be licensing fairs, as Senator O'Quigley asked. It is not true to say that fairs are something which though they are not coming under licensing in this particular text, will be as free as they were in the past. In fact I would recommend to Senator O'Quigley and to others that they go back and find the charters under which some of those fairs are held, see under an alien power and alien kings what were the terms under which permission for those fairs was granted, see the manner in which they were designated, not only as to place but as to the days of the week they might be held—or the month—the produce that might be offered for sale on any of those particular days, the tolls that might be required to be paid by some lackey in the community who had done a service to the king or queen in the past and was now being paid off through his neighbours by allowing them to sell their produce in their town on specified days and on specified conditions. Those charters still exist. Read those charters and, mind you, some of them are most illuminating, and particularly illuminating in regard to some of the towns where fairs are held under those very charters. But apparently they have never thought about it or gone to the fairs in their home towns which are there and are being held up as having free access to the farmers. They are not at all as free as they would appear to be; they were controlled not so many years ago, there are rights of collecting tolls from people——
They do not collect them now; that is dead.
That shows what Senator McDonald knows about fairs; he does not know that there are tolls being paid.
Not in the midlands, apparently.
People should not start talking unless they know what they are talking about. All I have been saying is that fairs do exist, that tolls are still being paid, that they are there by charters of foreign powers.
We have advanced from 1492.
They are still there.
On a point of order, it is difficult to understand the amendment before the House but I cannot understand the Minister's contribution at all.
I am afraid the Senator's lack of understanding is not a point of order.
Is the Minister in order?
Is the Minister in order in giving a lecture on medieval history?
The Second Reading nature of the debate was puzzling me somewhat.
I understood earlier that Senator Garret FitzGerald said something to the effect that he was not satisfied with the wording of the amendment so I was merely asking him was he withdrawing it; that was all.
May I just finish, because I do not want to fall into the trap Fine Gael have already fallen into—taking to the point of obscurity what has already been said. Therefore, I should just like to leave the charters of the fairs to those who would wish to assert them. They are most interesting: tolls are still being paid and we do not propose even to charge for a licence here. Even where we issue a licence, there will be no charge. This was a point raised by Senator Rooney the other day when he said in an aggrieved sort of tone—"there is no charge". There will not be any charge for a licence.
There is a catch in it when it is free.
I think the validity of the points I was making in regard to this amendment has been amply demonstrated by the nature of the Minister's reply. To have replied in such a manner to an amendment in Committee Stage, bringing in such political red herrings, and paying no attention whatever to the technical points— other than pointing out that there were two commas in the sentence which I thought the Minister would have seen I observed from my reading of it—would seem to me to indicate that there is great substance in the point I was making. The Minister has no reply to it; he is obscuring the issue and I am emboldened therefore to feel I have a good point here. I do not understand— I do not want to pursue this matter, other than simply to revert to the point made by the Minister—what are these references to divergencies of views between Senator O'Quigley and myself, because we have discussed this now for 1¾ hours. He extended my argument somewhat further and with that I totally agree.
As regards the nature of the opposition to this Bill, it is my understanding that the function of an Opposition is that in reference to legislation which they consider to be untimely, or to be so substantially unacceptable that it is objectionable, they should oppose it on Second Reading. If that opposition, on Second Reading, should fail, then it is the Opposition's function to improve the measure, to eliminate those aspects of it which are undesirable, and to improve its quality so that it is better drafted. That I understand to be my duty as a legislator. That is what I have always understood and no communications I have had with anybody since I entered politics have altered that view. I considered it entirely appropriate, for the reasons I explained, to improve it, because I recognised that some legislation on auction marts might well be appropriate, even though the timing of it, the manner in which it was being pushed through, and the provisions of the Bill are of such a character as to be substantially inappropriate and, therefore, appropriate for opposition on Second Reading. We are discussing the Committee Stage. I was endeavouring, as I shall endeavour throughout this discussion, to improve it, and the red herrings the Minister has tried to draw across the Bill are simply an indication of the complete weakness of his argument. Therefore I feel I should stand firm on the point I am making.
Lest in replying to the red herrings, I might have created a few more and lest therefore there might be a shoal around—indeed, they might be breeding—let me say for the Senator's benefit that my difficulty in understanding the Fine Gael role—and I take it that when the Senator talks, he talks for Fine Gael in this Chamber—if I am wrong in that, please correct me, because this is where is begins and ends——
I thought I had made that clear during the past two years.
I take it that when Senator Garret FitzGerald speaks on a matter such as this, he is really speaking for his whole Party. As I under stood the Fine Gael Party viewpoint on this Bill, it was one of total opposition to it, and Front Bench spokesmen in that other place went out of their way on many occasions to indicate they were totally opposed to it, that there was no good in the Bill and that as soon as they became a Government, they would repeal it——
Yes; do not confuse me.
Then, we have Senator O'Quigley, who, I take it, also talks, when he does talk on matters such as this, for Fine Gael.
I am right so far; he says that the Bill, as it has come from the Dáil and is presented to this House, means nothing and that even at a moderate charge, he could show anybody who wishes to consult him the way to deal with it so as to make it practically non-existent, that he could show them a way around it and through it, and that anybody who wants to carry on livestock marts will be quite free to do it if they consult him. I presume, if they consult any of his legal colleagues, they will be able so to advise their clients. Therefore, this Bill, according to that spokesman of Fine Gael, is completely without worth: it does not do anything; it will not stop anybody from carrying on a livestock mart business in the future who wishes to do so.
How can we reconcile the two? One was total opposition by the Fine Gael Party and their Leader, who was followed by his speakers in the other House; and then at this late stage there is a new version and probably, being the latest edition, it is the main one, the common interest of Fine Gael that they do not totally oppose the Bill any more. This has come out only this evening. We have now found from this fount of knowledge that this Bill does not matter. If it does not matter, why the opposition to it? Where do we go from here? If it does not matter, Fine Gael must admit that their interpretation and their reading of the Bill was wrong because it meant something earlier: they said then it was doing all sorts of things they did not wish it to do. That is now to be thrown out the window and we must take the new testament from Senator O'Quigley that it does not matter, that there are so many ways to go through and around it that it might never have been put on the books as far as its effects are concerned.
What about the Succession Bill? Were they not right there?
If that is so, we should be told so. If they are to be considered a responsible Opposition it is only fair to themselves that they should give us clarification of their outlook on this measure.
If the Minister would give way to me——
They should do that for our guidance. Which stand is it to be? Does the Bill mean something, does it do all the terrible things they said it proposed to do during the debate in the Dáil, or does it not mean anything?
Quite clearly the Minister is at his best just now.
You may think so.
He is out to misrepresent what has been said so clearly. He is out to seek some sort of chink in the armour of Fine Gael. He confesses to be surprised by Senator FitzGerald and he says he is confused. Quite obviously the Minister needs a holiday and very badly. In case the Minister enjoys the cold comfort he was about to enjoy, we on this side, as Senators of Fine Gael, will oppose this Bill line by line and comma by comma and we will do that for the reason that this Bill has been born in hate. It has been brought forth and was designed against a particular section of the community. It is unwarranted interference by the Minister in the ordinary affairs of business people in this country. It takes from people the perfect freedom they have at present to conduct auction marts in the ordinary way and the Minister is taking to himself in this Bill powers which no Minister of State should have entrusted to him, with no right of appeal against an arbitrary and unlawful exercise of these powers by the Minister.
It is for those reasons that we intend to oppose the Bill line by line and section by section. Let there be no mistake at all about that. As I have said—the Minister has chosen to misconstrue and misrepresent it; the Minister is welcome to his happiness when he is like that—even when the Minister gets to the stage of implementing the Bill, if he does prevent people from holding auctions in marts or if he revokes their licences and if they consult with me——
——or with any lawyer, with any good lawyer——
That is better.
——they will be able to continue to use their premises and to frustrate the intentions of the Bill but they will not be able to do what they want to do at present. It will render more awkward what they want to do and it is for that reason that we ought to be careful with these definitions. As Senator FitzGerald has so clearly stated, being democratic and accepting the decision of the majority of Seanad Éireann, we are not without hope, having regard to the 11 Independent Senators who have been nominated by the Taoiseach, though not tied necessarily to the Fianna Fáil Party, such as Senator Nash who, one might say, is committed to opposing sections 2 and 3——
Why did Senator O'Quigley not stay to hear the reply to his attack?
I had to go to earn my living to western parts. Senator Nash can deal with what I said and I will be glad to learn from the Official Report what Senator Nash had to say. However, while we are here, and accepting the majority, I am not without hope that Senator Nash and some of the independent Senators nominated by the Taoiseach, who are not necessarily members of the Fianna Fáil Party, may come in with us on some of these amendments. That is what we are about in this Bill: we hope to be able to persuade some of the Senators on the other side to vote with us.
The Senator will have to do better than he has done so far.
Notwithstanding all that was said about this section in Dáil Éireann, as not infrequently happens it falls to Seanad Éireann to make such amendments as make Bills work. We had the Extradition Bill which would never have got off the ground but for an amendment proposed by me and accepted by the Minister for Justice. The Bill simply would not have worked otherwise. It passed Dáil Éireann, it passed the great officials and the Parliamentary draftsman. It may be it is because we have different skills, less to worry us, that we confine ourselves to legislation. We will continue to do this, not perhaps improve the Bill but eradicate its evil effects.
I will put down something slightly different on Report Stage to meet the points the Minister has made.
I object to the withdrawing of amendments with a view to putting them down on Report Stage.
The Senator did not say that. Amendment withdrawn?
The consequential amendments will not be moved. I suggest that amendments Nos. 2 and 3 be discussed together.
Not this particular one. There is another amendment which might be taken with it. Nos. 1 and 2 might have been taken together. I move amendment No. 2:
In line 15 to delete "or otherwise".
There are two or three things I wish to clarify. This is an amendment which got quite a nailing in Dáil Éireann and, as the Report of the Dáil shows, the amendment was carried. In other words, if we were to operate upon what is contained in the Official Report of Dáil Éireann of 18th July, 1967, I should not be discussing this amendment because these words have already been expunged from the section by the Dáil. I understand that the Journal of the House likewise shows——
The Chair has already ruled on that point.
I am in effect moving an amendment which, upon all the official evidence available to us, has been accepted by Dáil Éireann. However, the Chair has made its ruling and the Chair says we ought to discuss this amendment.
I think this would be a point of order. It has been asserted here, as it was asserted here earlier, that the Record of Dáil Éireann shows that this amendment would have been accepted on another stage in the Dáil. I have here the actual Division Paper used for that division. The question was "Livestock Marts Bill, 1967, Amendment No. 1: ‘That the words stand'". It was carried by 62 votes to 43. My recollection of it, while this assertion was being made earlier by Senator O'Quigley was that the form of this particular amendment, decided by the House, was "That the words proposed to be deleted stand": this was a normal form in the Dáil. Here is the document, signed by the four Whips. I suggest the Chair look at this document just to confirm that the matter is in order as far as the Dáil is concerned.
On a point of order, surely that document is the property of the Dáil, not of the Minister?
It is the property of the Oireachtas and this is part of the Oireachtas.
It is not the property of the Minister. I am surprised that the Minister can get hold of a document which is the property of the Houses of the Oireachtas.
There is nothing improper about it. The matter was raised here and an improper construction was put on what took place in the Dáil. If the Dáil records, as now available to any Member of the Oireachtas, show otherwise, I am entitled to get the document.
The Minister is not entitled to send one of his servants for a document which is the property of the Oireachtas.
Of course I am. Who is the Senator to tell me that I am not so entitled?
Does the Senator want a distortion to remain?
In this instance, I am not concerned about distortion but about whether a document which is——
It was sent for by the Minister and given into the possession of a servant of the Minister.
On a point of order, I should like to express my gratitude to the Minister for removing our doubts in this matter.
That was the purpose for which I sought it.
I shall now give the document into the charge of the Clerk Assistant of Seanad Éireann to be returned.
It is an extraordinary situation.
The truth of the matter is that the only document to which I have lawful possession is the Official Report of Dáil Éireann for 18th July, 1967, and it says that the amendment was carried. It does not matter what the form used in Dáil Éireann in relation to the taking of the vote and the announcement of a decision. I took the precaution of doing a little further research to see if this was a peculiar form of wording used in Dáil Éireann in relation to amendments. I find, in relation to the next amendment, contained in the same volume, Volume 230, col. 11 of the Official Report of Dáil Éireann, that the amendment was put, the Committee divided, Tá, 40; Níl, 63—and then we have the amendment declared lost and all the other amendments that were debated and were declared lost——
Is the Senator getting away from the amendment he was wrong about?
Does the Senator admit he made a mistake?
The way the Dáil does its business, and what happens in it according to an unrevised version of what purported to happen there, is not a subject for debate in this House.
The Minister having intervened to make certain observations and having produced a certain document, I feel bound to point out the way in which I got my information. That is all.
It is a good job somebody intervened to correct it.
May I say——
I think the whole matter——
I just want to say that I understand the Senator's dilemma in this matter. I merely bring the document to the notice of the House to prove that, whatever the Official Report says, this in fact is what took place and this is the document that counts.
And that should end it.
It is not the first time the Senator has been wrong.
That is all right. I said that on the face of it—prima facie—there appeared to be a conflict between the two documents. When the Senator reads the Official Report, he will see I was quite guarded because I rather suspected that the officials who deal with these matters made, what is quite unusual for them, an error. Therefore I said “prima facie”. I did not think it was an error which was repeated the whole way through the debate. I now want to come back to the amendment.
It is a pity the Senator did not add that to his contribution at the start.
We generally regret the words we said rather than the words we did not say. It is better to regret that we did not say it rather than to say something else. Now, to the amendment.
This amendment was, I think, debated and considered at length in the Dáil and, as I say, it might more appropriately have been taken with Senator FitzGerald's amendment No. 1. I confess I am not at all clear as to what is meant by including the words "or otherwise" after the word "auction" in line 15. I am quite sure the Minister wants to bring within the ambit of the Bill the business of selling livestock by auction. I am also clear, as a corollary to that, that he wants to bring within the ambit of the Bill the provision "a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction". I do not understand the qualification in the provision "for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise".
I can well understand that the Minister wants to require people to have licences if they are engaged in the holding of sales of livestock by auction at a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction. I am quite clear on that. However, in the light of the Minister's explanation that fairs deriving from medieval times are to be permitted to continue without let or hindrance, save in so far as the charter otherwise provides, not all he has said in the Dáil or all he has said here today enables me to understand why it is that, within the purview of this definition, he has a place which is provided for the holding of a sale otherwise than by auction. That is the kind of sale which I do not understand.
I thought the Minister was concerned purely with auctions, sales at auctions, even of sales by auctions. Now he says in this definition that he will prevent people from providing for the holding of sales which will take place not by auction but in some other way. I do not know what these kinds of sales are.
It has been suggested that the phrase "or otherwise", being so comprehensive, will capture a variety of situations which it would appear the Minister did not intend to capture. If the Minister wants to prevent the provision of any particular place for the holding of sales "by auction or otherwise", he should merely put into the Bill a provision for "the holding of sales of livestock" and then it does not make any difference whether or not it is a sale by auction: it is a sale and therefore it is out. If it is a sale otherwise than by auction, it is also out because people would then be obliged to have a licence for all classes of sales, if they provide for the sale of livestock.
For the life of me, I cannot see what the Minister is about or what he has in mind when he says he is going to prevent people from providing a place for the sale of livestock otherwise than by auction when, as I understand it, he is not going to prevent the provision of a place for the holding of a fair and if there is not an auction carried out there, they can sell without let or hindrance. The mere provision of a place for sale of livestock means, under this definition, that they will have to obtain a licence.
What I am saying is not a legalistic interpretation or anything of that kind. We all know that in every town in rural Ireland where one of those medieval fairs is still conducted, there are certain publicans, hardware merchants and grocers who have premises wherein they have large yards into which people put cattle, either after they have sold them or pending bringing them to the fair green, and so on. It seems to me that if a person continues to afford that facility to the farmers near a town, to the customers of his public-house, say, if he continues to hold that place available for sales otherwise than by auction, then, in fact, he is carrying on the business of a livestock mart. That is not so far-fetched as one might think because when we come to the interpretation of statute law, it is not what the Minister thinks or intends that ultimately matters but what the words mean. The Minister knows that as well as I do.
One finds that in the case of the Intoxicating Liquor Act an amendment had to be introduced to the intoxicating liquor code as late as 1962 to permit the parking of animal-drawn vehicles in licensed premises for the hours during which the sale of intoxicating liquor was prohibited. It is provided in section 2 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1962 that:
Notwithstanding anything contained in section 17 (which relates to the offence of being on licensed premises during prohibited hours) of the Act of 1927, it shall not be unlawful——
because up to that time it was unlawful——
for a person to be in any yard, stable, outhouse, shed or other like place forming part of premises in respect of which a licence is in force and which are not situate in a county or other borough... for the sole purpose of leaving therein, attending to, or removing therefrom, an animal-drawn vehicle.
In other words, when the prohibition of being on a licensed premises during prohibited hours was being enforced, it was found that people had horses and carts, or ponies and carts, parked on licensed premises at Mass time principally, and technically they were on licensed premises during prohibited hours and, therefore, guilty of an offence, and the publican with them. In order to mitigate this unforeseen hardship, section 22 of the 1962 Act was enacted.
It seems equally clear that if the person, the same publican as provides the facilities for the animal-drawn vehicle, provides facilities on fair days for people putting cattle, sheep or pigs on his premises, and if it happens that anybody conducts a sale at any time there—it may be the custom in some places that if you go down to Johnny Mac's place, you may be able to buy from X, Y or Z—and if thereafter people go down there and buy cattle, then he is carrying on the business of providing for the holding of sales otherwise than by auction. It may be that two or three people may come in and bid and accordingly the phrase "or otherwise" is going a great deal further than the Minister wants it to go. The definition can capture a great number of people against whom the Minister may not wish to direct his misdirected energies.
Plainly and simply, the inclusion of the words "or otherwise" is necessary to prevent evasion through non-auction sales. That is the sum and substance of it and not much more can be said about it.
Evasion through non-auction sales. How could there be evasion when the——
Do not be childish.
People, such as the proprietors of livestock marts, will be reading these debates in order to find out how far they are affected by the Bill. The Licensed Vintners Association, perhaps, and other people who have something to do with the storing of livestock on their premises, will also be concerned with the Bill. The Minister may say that it is designed to prevent evasion but the whole Bill is for one purpose, and it is not clear what kind of——
But it does not have the effect of preventing evasion at all. I am quite taken aback by this because the wording does not have that effect at all. It is the "business of a livestock mart" and selling by auction. As far as that is concerned, if the livestock are sold by non-auction, the Bill does not provide for it. It does not say anything about whether the cattle are sold by non-auction. It simply provides for the selling by auction or otherwise. The person who provides the place must have the intent that it shall not be used for non-auction sales but it is not the intent in that person's mind which is relevant. The purpose of providing the place must be the holding of non-auction sales. If it is provided quite legitimately as an auction mart and somebody subsequently carries on the sale by non-auction, that would be covered by the definition section. If the Minister is trying to prevent evasion, he is not going about it the right way.
No at all. The trouble about it is that the Senator either does not understand it or does not want to understand it.
He is trying very hard.
I do not know which is worse: it is a matter of degree.
Not being able to is the worse.
That is not quite what said.
I certainly want to understand; I admit I do not.
Sale otherwise than by auction at a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction. Is that too much to comprehend?
"Providing for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise, a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction." There are two separate points here. One is that the place must be adapted for the sale of livestock by auction. Believe it or not, I have been in those places. Certain provisions had to be made so that the auction can be carried on. Places have to be provided for the cattle, for the auctioneers and so on. The place must be adapted for this purpose.
Secondly, the purpose for which it is being provided by the person providing it must be for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise. If he contemplates at that point that they should be sold by either method, it comes within this section. If no place is provided for the sale of livestock by auction and subsequently somebody used it for a non-auction method, it would not come within the section.
This is quite capable of evasion unless you put in "or otherwise" because a person could provide a place which he would allege to be not for the holding of auctions but which could be used for it. Unless you have a place for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise, a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction, you are going to clearly have the opportunity of evasion. No matter what the person alleges the place is, if it is used for the sale of livestock by auction it is coming within the Bill.
If that is what is intended, it is a pity it was not said with the somewhat lugubrious clarity of Senator Ryan. At least, there is a great deal of clarity in some of what he says, but it cannot be expressed by throwing in the phrase "or otherwise". That is what it appears to mean. To somebody trying to read this Bill, to construe it, to find the intention, what Senator Ryan said is something you could conceive a Minister providing against. But, if that is what is intended to be put in the Bill, the phrase "or otherwise" just does not meet the Bill, if I might say so.
If it were not there, evasion could take place.
Oh, no. The Senator is talking about a type of evasion that can take place. That is what this definition should set out, spell out, in the detail and length he has given.
Having been paid the compliment of bringing some clarity to the situation, the Senator should not overplay his hand. That is the kind of evasion one can see the Minister trying to provide against. That is Senator Ryan's interpretation of providing for the holding of sales otherwise than by auction a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction. One can see that. May I confess that I have been reading for many years the definitions of different matters contained in Bills?
I have never come across, and I do not suppose we shall ever come across again because it will be seldom you will have Bills drafted with such indecent haste as this one—anything that equals this for lack of clarity, and for confusion. It may well be, of course, that the Minister likes it that way. It may well be that his purpose is not to have it too clear and that he can say afterwards: "It covers this as well as covering that". That may well be his purpose. That is all right in political speeches. We had a person in active political life in this country once upon a time who said one thing you could interpret anyway you liked. This may be carrying on from that style of oratory. That is not the way legislation should be drafted. I think that should be excised from the Bill until such time as what is clear is set out somewhat along the lines of Senator E. Ryan's interpretation of it. It covers what the Minister has in mind.
If I understand Senator Ryan correctly, he would say the amendment as proposed could create a problem. What I do not understand, if what he says is the problem of the definition section, is what purpose or value the clause with the commas has. I can see that if you delete "or otherwise" and leave it there, this might create a problem, now that I begin to understand what the purpose of this section is. But suppose you delete what is between the commas, would you be any worse off? You would be in the position that the business of a livestock mart means the business of selling livestock by auction or providing a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction, which is a matter of fact. If it has the necessary arrangements for that purpose, is there anything to be gained by saying it must be for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise? If it is adapted for the sale of livestock by auction, it could be used either way. Does it matter what the purpose so long as the place is adapted for the sale of livestock by auction? I cannot see there is any value in what lies between the commas. If the intention of putting in "or otherwise" is to have the effect Senator E. Ryan said, it would be best achieved by not putting in the parenthesis at all.
I think the Senator has, up to a point, gone along with great clarity and then suddenly diverted into the unknown. The "or otherwise" is necessary to prevent evasion in regard to places that have been adapted for the sale of livestock by auction. It is specifically there. Without the commas and without the words between the commas, this would not be clear. This is necessary in order to prevent evasion by the sale in forms other than by auction at such places so provided and adapted. The whole intention of this is to stop that gap. This does it and does it effectively. No other form of words we could find would have done it so effectively and with the same number of words. We might have been able to do it with a greater number of words, but that would have only added to the confusion. Without a doubt this is the purpose of it. Without it, it would not be the same definition. It would not have the same context or meaning, and evasion would be quite capable of being perpetrated in places adapted for sale by auction if they sold livestock other than by auction.
I am afraid the Minister has left me in the state of confusion I was in before Senator Ryan's intervention. Is the Minister trying to prevent livestock being sold by non-auction methods in auction marts?
If we have somebody who has provided the place and all the paraphernalia, the pens and all the rest of the things necessary for setting up a mart, and either through malpractice or otherwise he is refused a licence or has carried on business in it and has his licence revoked, what we want to ensure is that he does not get around that by being able to carry on sales other than by auction in this place. We want to ensure that he cannot get behind the law by devising certain ways of selling those cattle and obviating the need for a licence. "I have lost my licence," he may say "but I can still carry on." This is what he could do without these two words being there.
That is what I thought the Minister intended originally. Senator Ryan was of a somewhat different mind. If that is what the Minister means, first of all, I do not think we should, in fact, agree that in a Bill designed to regulate the business of selling livestock by auction we should set out to allow them to be sold in any other way. This is the first time the intention of the Bill was expressed to be as wide as this, that under this Bill the sale of livestock by non-auction methods can be prevented if it is in a building adapted for the sale of livestock by auction. It is quite inappropriate, beyond the needs of the situation, beyond what appears to be the intention of the Bill. But, having said that, on top of that, the putting in of "or otherwise' does not, in fact, achieve this result because "or otherwise" is in a clause which relates to the purpose of the provision of the premises and does not relate to what is carried on in the premises after being provided.
If the Minister wishes, rightly or wrongly—I would think wrongly—to prevent in such a building livestock being sold by non-auction methods, he would need to say so in some other point in the Bill but in putting the words "or otherwise" in here he is merely governing or affecting in some way the question of the purpose for which the mart is provided. "Providing for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise" that is the purpose for which it was provided. What that purpose may be is one question. What is done subsequently is another. This is the point I was trying to make earlier on and I was diverted from it by Senator Ryan. It is quite clear to me that if the Minister is trying to prevent non-auction sales taking place in an auction mart, this does not achieve that effect and could not possibly be read as doing so. The wording of the section taken as a whole makes that clear. It starts off, "business of a livestock mart" means the business of selling livestock by auction. That is point number one. When it comes to the selling it must be only by auction. When it comes to the question of providing the place, if that purpose is for the sale of cattle by any method then the place can be brought within the Bill whether or not, in fact, it is used for that purpose. But, they are two quite separate things. At no point in that definition section or anywhere in the Bill is there anything said to the effect that people cannot sell by non-auction methods in livestock marts. The wording "or otherwise" only affects the purpose and intention of the person who provides the livestock mart in the first instance, what was in his mind when he provided it. It has no effect whatever on what is done subsequently. If the Minister's intention is as he says it is, it is completely ineffective.
I am in two minds as to whether to abet him in the aims of tightening up on this matter, which I think would be inappropriate, and thereby making it technically a better Bill or leave the Bill in its present state of ambiguity and ineffectiveness. At any rate, the Minister must be clear that this clause does not do what he purports to do at all and will in no way tighten up in the way in which he wants done.
Is the amendment withdrawn?
Do you wish the amendment to be put?
Before you put the question, do I understand that amendments Nos. 2 and 3 were being taken together?
No, they were not.
- Boland, Gerald.
- Brennan, John J.
- Browne, Seán.
- Cole, John C.
- Connolly O'Brien, Nora.
- Dolan, Séamus.
- Eachthéirn, Cáit Uí.
- Egan, Kieran P.
- Farrell, Joseph.
- Fitzsimons, Patrick.
- Flanagan, Thomas P.
- Honan, Dermot P.
- Killilea, Mark.
- McGlinchey, Bernard.
- McGowan, Patrick.
- Martin, James J.
- Nash, John Joseph.
- Ó Donnabháin, Seán.
- O'Kennedy, Michael.
- Ó Maoláin, Tomás.
- O'Reilly, Patrick (Longford).
- Ormonde, John.
- Ryan, Eoin.
- Ryan, James.
- Ryan, Patrick W.
- Ryan, William.
- Sheldon, William A.W.
- Stanford, William B.
- Teehan, Patrick J.
- Yeats, Michael.
- Conlon, John F.
- Davidson, Mary F.
- FitzGerald, Garret M.D.
- Fitzgerald, John.
- McAuliffe, Timothy.
- McDonald, Charles.
- McQuillan, Jack.
- Malone, Patrick.
- Murphy, Dominick F.
- O'Quigley, John B.
- O'Reilly, Patrick (Cavan).
- O'Sullivan, Denis J.
- Quinlan, Patrick M.
- Rooney, Éamon.
I move amendment No. 3:
In line 16 to add at the end "but does not include the leasing or letting of any such place".
The purpose of the amendment is to add to the definition of the business of a livestock mart the words "but does not include the leasing or letting of any such place". The reason for this is that in the section the business of a livestock mart and carrying on the business of a livestock mart include providing for the holding of sales by auction or otherwise at a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction. The term "providing" is a term of very general connotation and can mean two things. It can mean actively providing in the sense that one is the owner and occupier of the mart and that one conducts or sees to the conduct therein of auctions of livestock. It can also mean that a person is the owner of the building, or the site wherein the auction of livestock is carried out. Therefore it seems to me that if I own a livestock mart and let it for a term of years or if I own the ground on which it has already been built and have let it for a term of years and the lessee of the property has built on it a livestock mart and if this Bill were to come into operation and the lessee were to get a licence under section 3 (8) not only would the lessee be bound to be licensed but I who merely fulfil the passive role of being the landlord or lessor of the ground on which the mart has been erected, would also be obliged to get a licence.
I feel that the Minister, comprehensive as he wishes to make the legislation, does not intend to go that far because what it would mean then is that a lessor or landlord or owner of land who would let or who in future might let land upon which would be constructed a livestock mart, if the actual occupier, the person concerned with the operation of the livestock business there were guilty of an offence and that thereafter auctioning of livestock in contravention of the provisions of the Bill were to be carried out, the lessor or landlord would be equally liable to a penalty under section 2 with the person who actually conducted the business in the mart.
I do not know if the Minister wants to go so far. I certainly think that a person who is already letting land on which a livestock business is being carried on should not, because of the action of somebody else, be liable to a penalty under section 2. The distinction which I am drawing between the owner and the occupier has already been drawn in existing legislation in relation to premises. Notwithstanding that the Minister would have this measure removed from the ambit of the court so far as possible, even the Minister may be subject tocertiorari— I am not too sure of that—but, certainly, in relation to the penalty provisions which will be the subject of consideration by the district courts, if a court were to construe the Act they would be bound to take note of existing provisions in relation to premises in a somewhat similar position to livestock marts.
I can well see the Attorney General prosecuting these offences calling in aid the Factories Act, 1955 and the Office Premises Act, 1958. In the Factories Act, 1955, a distinction is drawn between the owner and the occupier. In Mr. Shillman's book,The Factory Legislation of Ireland, published in 1956, he refers to the occupier in his introduction on page 10 and says: “The person primarily liable for any contravention of the Act is the occupier of the factory premises.” That is the position under section 100, subsection (1), which provides:
In the event of a contravention in or in connection with or in relation to a factory of any provision of this Act or any regulation or order made thereunder, the occupier or (if the contravention is one in respect of which the owner is by or under this Act made responsible) the owner of the factory shall, subject as hereinafter in this Act provided, be guilty of an offence under this section.
The term "occupier" has been construed in the courts as follows: "The occupier plainly means the person who runs the factory or warehouse, who regulates and controls the work that is done there and who is responsible for the fulfilment of the provisions of the Factories Act within it." I would have thought that the Minister's net only went the distance of capturing the person who runs a livestock mart, who regulates and controls the work done there, and who is responsible for the fulfilment of the provisions of this Bill within that factory or mart.
If one looks at section 6, under which it is proposed to make regulations in relation to livestock marts, one sees clearly that they may prescribe the manner in which such auctions shall be conducted. That is the job of the occupier. They may provide that the receipt of entries for and the conduct of such auctions shall be carried out in accordance with conditions of sale drawn up by the owner of each such place and approved by the Minister. Again that is the job of the occupier and something with which the landlord would have no connection. He may prescribe requirements as to the size, design, maintenance, repair, cleansing, cleanliness, ventilation, heating and lighting: the keeping of the premises in a proper state of repair. Again this would undoubtedly be the job of the occupier.
One can see that the size, design and maintenance would relate to the person who built the premises and let it. The regulations may prescribe requirements as to the accommodation, including washing facilities. That would relate to both the owner and the occupier conducting the auction. They may prescribe requirements as to and provide for the veterinary examination of livestock. That is a matter which would affect only the occupier. They may provide for the inspection of such places. That would be a matter which would affect the occupier rather than the owner.
One finds in the Factories Act, 1955, that the owner is defined as "the person for the time being receiving the rackrent of the premises in connection with which the word is used, whether on his own account or as agent or trustee for any other person, or who would receive the rackrent if the premises were let at a rackrent".
As the definition stands at the moment it seems to me that the owner of the ground upon which the factory is built, or the owner of a building which is let for the auctioning of livestock, or which is a building adapted for the sale of livestock by auction, or otherwise, is equally engaged in the business of a livestock mart with the man who is actually carrying on the business week in, week out, or month in, month out, as the case may be. It seems to me, therefore, that the word "providing" applies equally to the landlord who lets and to the occupier who occupies and actually conducts the business. It may be the Minister's intention to catch both. If it is, this seems to be an extraordinarily ill-conceived piece of legislation.
I do not think the Minister, wittingly, at any rate, would want to go that far. If he does, this suppose is what he would seek to have included in the Bill. I do not think there is any reason why the Minister should want to go against the landlord upon whose ground the mart has been built. I have been trying to get, but I was unable to find, the memorandum and articles of association of the Shannon Free Airport Development Company. They provide buildings in which manufacturing processes can be conducted. They have nothing to do with the manufacture of pianos or mirrors. I see that three factories are to be built in a particular county where a by-election may be expected.
Senator Dolan always reminds me of Oisín and Pádraig, and living in the past. Here we have Oisín i ndiaidh na Féinne agus é ag clampar.
The Senator mentioned Shannon and the rabbits.
I am Pádraig and he is Oisín—and we have the new testament to which the Minister referred earlier this evening.
The Senator has discussed that matter sufficiently and should now come to the amendment.
As I understand it, the Shannon Free Airport Development Company actually provide the buildings. If they provided a livestock mart, if one of their buildings were used for the conduct of a livestock mart in connection with the sale of dead rabbits, I do not think the Minister would want to capture the people who provided the facilities, but having leased it, and having dispossessed themselves of the right of access to it, the right to enter and the right to interfere in the conduct of affairs, should they be subjected to the penal provisions of this Bill? If the Minister wants to make landlords or lessors of premises equally liable with the people who occupy, control and conduct the auctions, then the definition contained in subsection (1) is entirely adequate for his purpose. I do not think he ought to do that and therefore I would urge upon him and upon the Seanad the need for accepting the amendment.
My advice is that landlords could not be held responsible for the business of providing places adapted for mart premises. I should like to say as well, though, having listened to everything that has been said, it is very unlikely that there is such a thing as commonsense used in the application of the law and that commonsense does have quite a high priority in the administration of the law in many ways. The element of commonsense plus the advice I have got is, I feel, ample to ensure landlords are not being brought in under the terms of the Bill, nor is it my wish or intention that they should be in the circumstances as outlined by Senator O'Quigley.
Are we clear as to what is meant by "landlord" here? If, in fact, the mart is provided in the same way as Shannon Free Airport and An Foras Tionscal provide factories, and are the landlords thereof, surely it comes within the scope of this Bill? Could it be held that Shannon Free Airport Company are not providing factories? They are landlords. They lease them out. I have never heard it suggested they are not providing the factories and I find it hard to believe that the Minister can sustain that.
I am not talking about Shannon Free Airport at all and I am sorry Senator McHugh is not here because I had a few remarks to make on that.
If they are relevant I am sure the Cathaoirleach will allow the Minister to say them in the absence of Senator McHugh. I am trying to be relevant by giving a direct analogy. If the Minister is prepared to talk about Foras Tionscal and the industrial estate in Waterford, I am quite willing to use that as an example. The word "provides" is quite clear and in this instance I do not think there can be any doubt about it. One might argue that, if it is a question of a ground landlord, the degree of inactivity involved in his particular part might conceivably exclude him from the application of the term "provides". I have no doubt whatever that where a building is built by a company and then leased to some concern for business purposes, that is providing.
The Minister suggested, I think optimistically, that in a matter of this kind it is always possible to use commonsense. Commonsense seems to be lacking at the moment in this discussion but, leaving out of account altogether the remote possibility of looking at this from a commonsense point of view, I should have thought that, reading the Bill, it is made quite clear that in respect of any particular mart, there is only one licence. The suggestion appears to be that it is open to the Minister to hand out licences, right, left and centre, and, under this Bill, it might be held, perhaps, that a ground landlord should also be given a licence to get at the man who is running the mart. It is perfectly obvious that under the Bill there can only be one licence given in respect of any one mart.
Where is that clear?
"A person shall not carry on the business of a livestock mart"—it is subsection (1) section 2.
In other words, you cannot be a landlord.
In respect of which place? Where the business is carried on: we are talking about the headquarters of the company.
In respect of the business: one licence for one place.
Incidentally, I am amused to hear Senator O'Quigley pontificating about Senator Dolan's habits of interrupting. Senator O'Quigley is one of the most prolific interrupters himself and he has now started to interrupt inside of five minutes.
But I am not back in the past. That is the difference.
There he is again. It seems clear to me that only one licence can be enforced in favour of a particular case and it is ludicrous to suggest that several licences would have to be given, some for the people who own the ground and some for those who own the buildings.
Senator Yeats does not give signs of having listened to the debate with attention. Having discussed the matter at some length and to some purpose before the tea interval, there are clearly two things contemplated in this—one is selling livestock by auction and the other is providing livestock marts, which is property business, State investment business, building livestock marts, providing them, but not running them—that is covered under the first part of the section—and then presumably leasing them out because, if they were operated by the same company, they would fall within the first part of the section but where you have a company providing such a mart, there have to be two licences. We made this point in the early part of the debate and the Minister accepted it in practice by changing the whole concept and making a Second Reading attack on Fine Gael in order to confound the issue because he found himself without any particular argument to refute the point made. There are two places involved. If a livestock mart is leased from a property company, then the place of business, wherever that may be—we need not get involved in the registered place of business—also has to be licensed as a livestock mart under this ludicrous provision. There are two places to be licensed and not just one place.
First of all, I should like to say to the Minister that Ministers are, of course, always advised and sometimes the advice is right and sometimes it is wrong. I have seen Bills here in relation to which Ministers were advised, and undoubtedly thoroughly advised, but, when other people had a look at them, it turned out that the advice was not all that it should have been. I am never impressed with this sort of answer from Ministers: "I am advised this is necessary". That is a cover-up when Ministers do not understand the legal technicalities involved. It is then they resort to: "I am advised by the parliamentary draftsman".
"I do not understand it, but...
I do not at all object to interventions by Senator Dolan. I told him the other evening I welcomed them.
Perhaps the Senator would leave that now and come to the subject of the amendment.
He has nothing else to talk about.
I did not interrupt, but I will if the Senator wants me to.
I want to come back to Senator Yeats' point. What section 2 is concerned with is a person who is not to carry on the business of a livestock mart at any place.
Yes, unless there is a licence in respect of that place.
Exactly, a licence in respect of that place.
There can be no doubt at all that if you have a big combine which put up a number of livestock marts, and that is all they have, they are providing, for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise, a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction. No amount of commonsense can get over that interpretation. If they own those premises, they are providing, for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise, a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction and being engaged in the business of a livestock mart, they must under section 2 in respect of every place owned by the combine have a licence themselves for providing the premises and the occupier being in the business of selling livestock by auction. That is clear beyond any doubt and the vacant and hollow laughs born of a deep abyssmal ignorance do not impress me and will not do anything to get rid of the precisely analagous situation contained in the Factories Act of 1955 where a clear distinction is drawn between the person who provides the building, being the owner or landlord or lessor, and the person who conducts the factory in the building.
When this Bill gives rise to the difficulties that it undoubtedly will give rise to, I do not want any members of the Fianna Fáil Party to go around and say: "Oh, that was all Blaney's fault; it was Blaney did it."
Surely, Sir, it is not in order to refer to the Minister as "Blaney".
The Parliamentary Secretary did not see the nuances.
Dillon has made his name.
The Senator might refer to the Minister in proper terms.
I am not referring to the Minister in the way he is going to be referred to.
The Senator should not abuse the privileges of the House. The Senator, to continue.
As clever as the Senator is, he cannot foresee what anyone may say.
I am merely going on what they said when Deputy Haughey was Minister for Agriculture. However, let me say the Honourable Mr. Neil Blaney, as he is always referred to in the Fianna Fáil Party. I do not want them to say: "It was the Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Neil Blaney, who was responsible for this Bill. Do not blame us, it was all Deputy Blaney's fault," as they said about Mr. Haughey and his dispute with the NFA.
Perhaps the Senator would confine himself to the terms of the amendment.
I shall do so.
We know what the Senator is at.
The Senator is at amendment No. 3 on the Order Paper. I do not want to leave members of the Fianna Fáil Party in any doubt as to what is in this Bill.
We have no doubt at all. You need not worry—we know what is in it.
I think you do not and that is the reason why there is such a deep division in the Fianna Fáil Party.
Words taken from the Honourable James Dillon.
I shall show that something that the Fianna Fáil Party——
Will the Senator come back to the terms of the amendment?
I beg to be excused from replying to these interruptions.
We excuse you.
What section 6 of the Bill provides in relation to the size, design, maintenance, ventilation, possibly heating, possibly lighting, washing facilities and sanitary convenience are all matters which will be the concern of the owner and the provider of the livestock marts. Is it going to be an answer by the lessee of those premises to say: "Ha, ha, the size may not be right, the design may not be right, the maintenance may not be right, the toilet and other accommodation may not be right; but these are all matters for the provider."? Will that be a good answer to the Minister and the barrister of ten years standing before whom he will go to meet this empty formula and make an appeal which will be considered afterwards by the Minister?
Surely the Senator is not finding fault with the barrister of ten years standing?
I shall deal with that on the next amendment. There is all night for dealing with that. I have as much respect for the barrister of ten years standing as the next because all I have to do is look into the mirror.
You will see something.
Yes, and not unpleasant, in my view.
Alice in Wonderland.
Let there be no doubt that the lessor and landlord is going to be caught equally with the person who occupies the premises. If he is not, what is the objection to clarifying the definition of "the business of a livestock mart" by including the words, which would put beyond any doubt the secure position of the landlord and lessor, "but does not include the leasing or letting of any such place"? I wonder has the advice given to the Minister by his advisers been that that would injure the Bill or would it mean that the acceptance of that amendment might be some kind of a tribute to those who proposed it and would that too greatly offend the Minister's reputation of being tough, rough and as hard as they come?
If the point made by Senator O'Quigley is that the lessor must have a licence, do I take it that if I decide to build six marts in different parts of this country, have a telephone beside my bed and run the marts from my bed, phone up occasionally and find out how things are going, I will have to apply to the Minister for a licence from my bed? This seems to be the point being made by Senator O'Quigley.
The Senator has divined our fears aright because that is what this police state type of Bill amounts to. That is the point we were on to earlier this evening if the Senator appreciated what we were dealing with. We were talking about the provision of marts for the sale of livestock by auction. The definition means the business of selling livestock by auction. The auctioneer has a premises, and if he is a company has a registered office where he conducts business of selling livestock by auction. He also conducts it in the mart. It means that both places have to be licensed. That is what we were talking about earlier this evening.
I am quite sure that in the licensing Acts there is a paragraph much the same as this which provides that a person may not carry on the business of a publichouse without a licence but it is possible to run five or six publichouses from an office without having a licence. I think, therefore, that the suggestion of Senator O'Quigley is absolutely ridiculous.
If Senator McGlinchey examined the relevant legislation, he would find it is much closer to the amendment I put down in that it relates to the licensed premises just as I have suggested that the legislation should apply to the livestock mart.
Amendment No. 1 has been disposed of.
I think the Senator has, in fact, got our point. We are concerned to protect the inviolability of his bedroom from the inspector of the Department.
It is the business, not the premises.
The question is that amendment No. 3 be agreed.
I was hoping we would hear the Parliamentary Secretary on the subject as he has listened to the debate with some attention, judging by his interruptions.
With all due respect to the Senator, I think the Minister has more than adequately covered the points raised and he did say, in fact, that commonsense will ensure that landlords of places used for mart premises will not be held responsible for the operation of those businesses and I would suggest, with all due respect to the Senator, that the Minister made one very significant contribution when he mentioned the word "commonsense" which seems to be completely lacking in the Fine Gael Front Bench.
With all due deference to the Senator, I think that if he weighs what the Minister stated in this regard, he will find that it more than meets all the arguments he adduced and, indeed, the ones which were completely extraneous to the matter in question, and which had no bearing whatever on this amendment. The amendment, as such, is unacceptable and we find that the arguments adduced weigh not at all on the side of altering the situation.
I should like to direct your attention, Sir, to the fact that the division bell is not ringing all over the premises. It is not ringing down at the post office or the restaurant. Something should be done about it.
How does the Senator know the bells are not ringing.
I have my ways of knowing.
If it is not ringing now, it has broken very suddenly. It was definitely ringing in the restaurant after tea, and in the environs of the restaurant.
- Conlan, John F.
- FitzGerald, Garret M.D.
- McDonald, Charles.
- Malone, Patrick.
- Mannion, John.
- O'Quigley, John B.
- O'Reilly, Patrick (Cavan).
- Rooney, Éamon.
- Ahern, Liam.
- Boland, Gerald.
- Brennan, John J.
- Browne, Seán.
- Cole, John C.
- Connolly O'Brien, Nora.
- Dolan, Séamus.
- Eachthéirn, Cáit Uí.
- Egan, Kieran P.
- Farrell, Joseph.
- Fitzsimons, Patrick.
- Flanagan, Thomas P.
- Honan, Dermot P.
- Killilea, Mark.
- McGlinchey, Bernard.
- McGowan, Patrick.
- Martin, James J.
- Nash, John Joseph.
- Ó Donnabháin, Seán.
- O'Kennedy, Michael.
- Ó Maoláin, Tomás.
- O'Reilly, Patrick (Longford).
- Ormonde, John.
- Ryan, Eoin.
- Ryan, James.
- Ryan, Patrick W.
- Ryan, William.
- Stanford, William B.
- Teehan, Patrick J.
- Yeats, Michael.
Amendments Nos. 4, 7, 8, 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 22 and 31 will be taken together. There are alternative proposals inherent in these amendments and separate decisions can be had for each group, if necessary.
I presume we can have separate decisions on these amendments.
On each group.
I do not know what you mean.
We have a group, amendments Nos. 4 and 8, in the name of Senator O'Quigley; amendment No. 7, in the name of Senator Quinlan; amendments Nos. 15, 17, 18, 19 and 22 in the name of Senator Murphy. These are alternative proposals so we can get separate decisions on them.
Amendments Nos. 12 and 31 are also separate.
I do not think that amendment No. 12 should be in the grouping mentioned.
Amendment No. 4, in the name of Senator O'Quigley.
Do I understand the position to be that we move each of these amendments as we go along and debate them together?
They will be taken as a group but the debate will be on No. 4.
Is each group to be moved separately? There is one case where there are two groups of amendments in the name of the same Senator.
At the end of the debate, the groups will be mentioned and a decision will be taken on them.
The position then appears to be that if the vote were taken on No. 4——
The debate is over the whole range of the amendments.
——the others will be put forward and a decision then taken?
No. 4 is the amendment; No. 8 is consequential on No. 4, and so on.
We will be guided by the Chair.
Would you please call out the amendments again?
The group which we are discussing together is: Nos. 4, 7, 8, 11, 12, 15, 17, 18, 19, 22 and 31.
I move amendment No. 4:
To delete line 17.
This amendment is at the heart of this Bill. It is to delete the sentence: "licence" means a licence under section 3 of this Act. In conjunction with that, I take it I am in order in talking on amendment No. 8 which means that if we decide to abandon the licensing of livestock marts and the carrying on of the business of livestock marts, we will put into their place another system of regulating—I do not like the word "control"—the conduct of the business of livestock marts.
As indicated on Second Stage, we in the Fine Gael Party are utterly and irrevocably opposed to the licensing of livestock marts as proposed in this Bill. There is a time and a place for everything and a time when certain things ought not to be done. The introduction of this Bill at this time has been judged by the Fine Gael Party, and in the light of the terms of the Bill itself, to be singularly inappropriate. The Minister has certain information, and I suppose the Minister for Justice has certain information, about things which were done during the unhappy dispute between the Government and the National Farmers Association and, perhaps, between the Government and the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association, for all we know. But one transgression—or isolated transgressions of this kind—does not put a whole class in this community or, indeed, in any other community, into the category of habitual criminals, and that is what this Bill, by implication, does.
Livestock marts were operated freely and successfully by the farmers and the co-operative movement, in its various aspects in this country, without let or hindrance, or assistance from, as far as I know, the Minister for Agriculture or his Department. I do not know whether they ever got any grants from the Agricultural Credit Corporation or from any other financial organisation operating under the aegis of the Oireachtas but those marts operated satisfactorily. Because of certain transgressions, in such instances as we have been told, the Minister proposes to take what can only be described as total power in relation to the existence and the coming into existence of livestock marts. If the Minister and the Government were genuinely concerned about the location and conduct of the business of livestock marts, there was another much more effective way in which they could have regulated them as the interests of the common good in their view would require.
There was nothing to prevent the Minister bringing in a Bill to make it obligatory on all livestock marts and persons carrying on the business of livestock by auction from registering with him, with committees of agriculture or with the various sanitary authorities—preferably, I would think, with committees of agriculture. Thereafter, having done that and made it an offence to conduct a business that was not registered, there was nothing to prevent the Minister from laying down standards of hygiene relating to size, design, maintenance, repair, cleansing, ventilation, the inspection of livestock by veterinary officers and the observance of other requirements which were deemed necessary, and, if those requirements were not complied with, to make it an offence, for failure to do so and, in that connection, to impose the kind of penalties in relation to repeated acts of non-compliance, or failure to comply, as we find in the licensing code.
The Factories Act, I am sure, is of as much concern to the people of this country as are the livestock marts. As the House will readily appreciate, we were more concerned, in the factory legislation, with the wellbeing and safety of the people who work in those factories and, to a lesser extent, of people coming into the factories on their lawful occasions. We did not require, the Oireachtas did not require, and the common good has not since demanded, since the introduction of that Act in 1955, that factories be licensed, that before you could have a factory you had to apply to the Minister for Industry and Commerce for a licence. That was not found necessary, but we were able, in the Factories Act of 1955, to prescribe standards of cleanliness in relation to overcrowding, temperature, ventilation, lighting, drainage of floors, slippery floors, sanitary accommodation, the protection of eyes, the use of phosphate, underground rooms, the lifting of excessive weights, operations involving glass or heat, lead process, industrial poisoning, the fencing in of dangerous machinery and other requirements in connection with transmission machinery, in relation to hoists and lifts, the training of persons working at dangerous machines, in relation to chains, ropes and lifting tackle, cranes, construction of floors, precautions against explosion of inflammable dust, gas, vapour or substance, and so on.
Here we were dealing with human beings, and we did not require the factory owners of this country, whether the occupiers or the persons who built them, as a class of criminals, to be licensed before being allowed to open a factory. Bearing that precedent in mind, I cannot see why there is any necessity for this piece of legislation, to require that somebody must go, cap in hand, and perhaps money in his pocket, to a Minister of State in order to obtain a licence or to hold on to a licence——
I thought it was understood that the licence was free. What exactly is the Senator implying?
——which a Minister of State can give him.
What does the Senator mean?
I will expand on that in good time.
Not by the use of further cliches, please.
I do not want to be anticipated in my speech or to get out of the order in which I am determined to make it. I say that what was good enough in 1955 in relation to human beings, and where human beings work, would seem to me to be eminently suitable for cattle in 1967, and it is not that they have got any more valuable, because their price has gone down steadily.
Why does the Senator not refer to some of the other Acts of 1955, such as the Seed Production Act?
We will come to them in good time. I want to point out that that was an Act passed by the inter-Party Government. Lest anybody should think that was an Act which did not commend itself to the Fianna Fáil Party, I remind the House that in 1958 we enacted a Bill, which is now entitled the Office Premises Act, 1958.
I hope the Senator will not repeat what he has said in regard to the Companies Act.
I am not dealing with the Companies Act at all; I am dealing with the Office Premises Act.
That has already been discussed here this evening.
The Companies Act, ach sin scéal eile.
Do not be running away from 1955.
Caithfidh an Seanadóir claoí leis an leasú.
Tá tréan-iarracht á déanamh agam ach níltear dom ligint.
Tá saor-chead ag an Seanadóir: Lean leis.
Más féidir leis.
In the Office Premises Act, 1958, a measure introduced in this House by the former Taoiseach, Deputy Lemass, we find no necessity to license people before they can keep an office. Deputy Lemass then, thorough-going and all as he was in his defiant post-revolutionary attitude, did not think he should provide that anybody who keeps an office should have to apply to the Minister for Industry and Commerce for permission to open and keep an office. That was not the view of Deputy Lemass or the Fianna Fáil Party in 1958. They enacted in 1958, with the consent of everybody—it was all but an agreed measure—the Office Premises Act, a measure which laid down standards in relation to cleanliness, overcrowding, temperature, ventilation, lighting, and had standards in relation to unsuitable rooms, safety, welfare, health and so on. I do not wish to weary the House unduly but the Bill made it an offence on the part of a person keeping an office if he failed to comply with the standards prescribed under the Act.
What would be wrong with enacting parallel legislation, if it were required at all, in relation to cattle marts? Why is it that in 1967 what is good enough and what has been found to be sufficiently effective in relation to factory and office premises is not good enough in relation to places where we sell by auction or otherwise cattle, sheep and pigs.
Cattle, sheep and pigs cannot speak or raise objections but officers working in offices could draw the authorities' attention——
If the Senator was ever at a pig market, she would have heard pigs and bonhams raising most effective objections.
I do not speak their language and I should not understand their grunts.
That is a deficiency in the Senator's upbringing. That is the worst of being city-born. This spurious concern for cattle, sheep and pigs, at a time when we should be dealing with redundancy payments or things of that nature, does not impress me at all. It may be justification in the Senator's mind for voting for this Bill but I am not impressed by that at all. If, indeed, the Senator were concerned about the people who have no voice, why is it that for so long in so many towns we have the medieval system where streets are the market places, where fairs are held in the streets and there is no concern for the women and young children who have to bear the fifth and squalor of their towns because a medieval king in medieval times made a charter, of which the Minister spoke——
Is the Senator asking the Minister to abolish fairs?
He is not doing anything of the kind. He is expressing concern for human beings.
Fianna Fáil want the marts hygienic but they do not give a damn how the fairs are run.
They will be like funeral parlours where rank corruption lies in state. That is what the cattle marts will be like because we shall have nothing but the decaying carcases of surplus cattle in the cattle marts while we have the Minister and Government in office. Under this Bill we are vesting in the Minister power to grant or withhold or revoke a licence. If a licence is granted by the Minister, all is well. If the Minister decides to withhold a licence from a person applying to establish a new mart, the Minister under this Bill provides no effective redress to the person who may be aggrieved by his decision. If the Minister decides to revoke a licence he is entitled to do so under section 3.
Up to now, up to the amendments in the Dáil, the Minister was not obliged even to fulfil the first requirement of natural justice—to give the reasons why he was revoking or withholding a licence. As a result of the pressure of public opinion and the numerous deputations the Minister has had, we have a spurious form of appeal provided in section 3. I say it is spurious because an appeal to a person nominated by the Minister can inspire no confidence of fair play in any fair-minded or reasonable citizen. The Fine Gael Party are utterly opposed to vesting in the one person the power to grant, to withhold, to revoke——
What about 1955?
I will deal with that in a moment. That is as absolute a power as it is possible to vest in any Minister of State and if that was done in 1955, and it was, it illustrates the difference between time and place and person——
And which side of the House you happen to be at a particular time.
I want to make it perfectly clear that our view in the Fine Gael Party is that matters of this kind are best determined by somebody other than a Minister of State. For that reason, on the Town Planning Bill of 1963 the Fine Gael Party opposed resolutely, in up to 130 amendments, the vesting of the vital power of appeal under the Town Planning Acts in the Minister for Local Government because we became aware, and we now know, the opportunities for graft that exist where powers of that kind are vested in a Minister of State and nobody knows better than the Minister for Agriculture, former Minister for Local Government, of the opportunities for graft and corruption that exist under this Bill and under the Planning and Development Act, 1963. The Minister knows all these opportunities—and they exist.
With all the talk one hears around the country and in this city at the present time, I do not think we ought, any longer, to vest in any Minister of State the power of birth, existence or non-existence of any business which the Minister seeks in this Bill. The Minister says to somebody who tries to establish a mart: "No, you cannot have it in that place." He may give it to the fellow in another field and the reason that may be adduced is that that field is on higher ground and there is better drainage there—and that is sufficient to convince an unsuspecting public but we know and the people know the opportunities that exist for graft and corruption where powers such as these are vested in a Minister of State.
We are not prepared to entrust such powers any longer to any Minister of State. For that reason, in relation to the Planning and Development Act, 1963, we have introduced a Bill to take away from the Minister for Local Government the power of deciding appeals and to vest that power, instead, in a judge of a court with an assessor on either side, one to be nominated by the Minister for Local Government and another from a panel compiled by the Local Appointments Commission.
As I understand the system of democracy we have in this country, we, in giving ourselves the Constitution that we have, have set our face against allowing any organ of State too much power. For that reason, we have made or attempted to make the Government subordinate to the Legislature and to the courts. We have made both Government and the Legislature subordinate to the courts so that individual freedom and liberty might be preserved.
There is no other system that civil-isation has evolved which provides the same kind of freedom and security, in dignity, for the individual as does our Constitution, the English Constitution and the American Constitution, to a lesser extent the English Constitution than ours and that of the Americans. For that reason, we have entrusted the right to decide what one might call matters of life and death, matters of continuing in business or not continuing in business, not to a Minister of State but to an independent judiciary that is above and beyond reproach, that has unquestioned integrity and that cannot be reached by graft or corruption. Because of the position in which they are placed, the same cannot be said of Members of the Oireachtas or of members of the executive arm of the State, of the Government.
I have been invited to say more about money and licences. I accept the ruling of the Chair, given here on the Appropriation Bill last December. I shall not try to circumvent that. What I said on that occasion is on record.
The Senator should not make accusations of corruption.
I said I shall not expose any Minister of State to the temptations provided in legislation of this kind, now that we know what can happen.
What does the Senator mean by that?
Read the Report.
I remember the former Minister for Finance who is now Senator Dr. Ryan.
Would the Chair ask the Senator what he means by that last statement, which is a reprehensible statement?
The Chair cannot prevent Senators from making political charges. Senator O'Quigley should continue—on the amendment, please.
I have not provided an interpretation section to my speech. I remember that, in his first Budget speech, the present Senator Dr. Ryan made the very laudable proposition that he would reduce the number of grades in the Civil Service. He said the structure was too complex and that there were too many grades in the Civil Service. For that, he received the encomiums not only of his Party but of the entire press in this country. Everybody thought we ought not to multiply unnecessarily grades in the Civil Service; that we ought to try to cut down on public expenditure; that, in that important field, the streamlining of our business administration, no better lead could be given than by the new Minister for Finance, the then Deputy Dr. James Ryan.
I find it very difficult to understand why it is necessary, when we come to a Bill of this kind, to by-pass the institutions which we have determined in our Constitution to establish to decide disputes between man and man and between the Government and the citizen. What is wrong with the courts? What particular power has the barrister of ten years standing, that is to be established under section 3 (6), that a district court would not have? Every day, the district courts deal with licences of one kind or another. They deal with dance hall licences. They are able to decide whether or not premises are suitable for the young people attending dances; whether the accommodation and the cloakrooms are adequate. They can decide, on evidence adduced before them, what number of people should be allowed to get into a dance hall. They can grant licences for restaurants and eating houses under the Intoxicating Liquor Acts. They can decide to renew licences. The circuit courts can decide to grant new licences under the Intoxicating Liquor Acts to hotels and public places. The district court can grant licences for lorries. They can grant licences, on appeal in relation to the suitability of premises, to betting offices. These are but a few of the variety of matters which the district court is called upon to adjudicate upon every day in the course of the administration of its jurisdiction.
Likewise, under the Health Acts of 1947 and 1953 and the old Health Acts which were in operation here when we took over, the Sale of Drugs Act, the Pharmacy Acts and the various regulations made under them, the courts were able to decide whether or not premises were in a fit and proper condition for the sale of food, for the display of food, for catering, and so on. No difficulty has been experienced in regard to any decisions of the district court in these matters. Why is it, then, that the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and the Fianna Fáil Party say, when it comes to the grant of a licence in respect of a livestock mart, that the courts are inadequate? Did the courts prove inadequate to deal with any of the various licences in the past or did they prove inadequate or hostile to any Government, including the present Government, in the administration of justice? The answer, of course, is that they have not. We have yet to have from the Minister a reason why a district court cannot adjudicate upon the granting or revoking of a licence but a barrister of ten years standing or upwards can. Now, in this amendment we propose that a district court shall be given the jurisdiction to grant a licence—what we call a certificate of qualification— to a person carrying on the business of a livestock mart. We provide that such a certificate of qualification shall be sought in open court so that the world and its mother—to use an unlovedcliché of Senator Ryan's—will know who is applying for what and where, the objections being made, the people who are objecting, and they can adjudicate for themselves through the medium of the press whether a person should or should not have a mart at a particular place.
What can be fairer and what could conduce more to justice and respect for the law than that an application be made in open court before a person whose independence, experience and integrity are not open to question. An application made in that kind of forum would inspire a great deal more confidence than the hugger-mugger approach of an application for a licence to a Minister of State, backed up by numerous representations from Deputies, Senators and fellow-travellers of a particular Minister. That is the alternative, an application in open court or the hugger-mugger applications that would be made to a Minister of State if this Bill goes through. I should like to hear the Minister advance his reasons for this. Let him ignore what happened in earlier days, and let him give us his reasons. This is what the public want to know.
Why must he duplicate the existing machinery of the courts with anad hoc barrister of ten years standing? Why is the Minister afraid of the courts? Why does he not use the existing machinery? Why does he disregard justice in open court? Why was it that the Minister in his first Bill proposed that on his diktat, he would grant or revoke a licence without reason assigned, without notifying the person in advance what the reasons were, and with no right of appeal? When he has been pressurised by the members of his own Party, and by public bodies such as the Incorporated Law Society, he then pretends he is giving a form of appeal in the guise of a barrister of ten years' standing who will be appointed by him and who will have no independence. That is the important thing; he will have no independence whatever. If he tries to equate the decision of a barrister of ten years' standing, appointed by himself and then to be subject to review by the Minister for Agriculture, with the decision of a judge of one of our courts, established by law under our Constitution, he is trying to equate two things which cannot and never will be equated. There is no equation between them.
On previous occasions I have adverted to the obligation that lies upon every Member of the Seanad to see that this House does not enact any law which is in any way repugnant to the Constitution. I have drawn the attention of the Minister and of the House to the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of the Solicitors Act, which was reported under the title of O'Farrell v. Gorman,re the Solicitors Act, in the 1964 Irish Reports. I cannot see how, in the face of that decision, the Minister can justify himself in taking the advice he will tell us he has got that this Bill is perfectly constitutional. No doubt, he will say that he has been advised that the Bill is constitutional, but I want to put on record my view that this Bill, in the light of that decision, cannot be regarded as constitutional, because everything the O'Farrell and Gorman case decides as being wrong and as being a usurpation of the judicial power of the State entrusted to and only to be exercised by judges established under the Constitution, is to be found in this Bill.
The fact that the Minister when revoking a licence will cause a statement of his reasons for doing so to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas is of no more value than saying he shall provide a death certificate when the man is dead, because on the date on which he lays before each House of the Oireachtas the statement of his reasons for revoking the licence of the livestock mart, the man who conducts it, or the co-operative society, will be out of business and it does not matter what happens then, because no matter who the Minister of the day is, there will be no redress. If a motion is put down to condemn the Minister or to appeal to the Minister or to request the Minister to cancel the revocation or renew the licence, the Minister will be able to snap his fingers and the motion will be defeated in exactly the same way as amendments to this Bill are being defeated by a majority in Dáil Éireann and in this House.
Let the members of the Fianna Fáil Party and those nominated by the Taoiseach and everybody else, remember that what our Constitution and what 1916 was about was the protection of individual liberty, giving the citizens of the 1920s, the 1960s and the 1980s security from arbitrary power imposed by a Government or exercisable by a Minister of State. That is what this Bill is going to do, to give arbitrary powers to a Minister of State. Let everybody remember that in the landlord days, whenever the battering-ram was brought to knock down country cottages, the first call-out was to open in the name of the law. The Minister will revoke licences, or refuse to grant licences to other people, all in the name of this law which is as invalid and oppressive and disregardful of individual freedom and liberty as the law which entitled the bailiff to call upon the cottier tenant to open in the name of the law. Let us have no doubt whatever, that is what this Bill is about.
When you have to apply to a Minister of State for a licence to go about your ordinary business of selling turf, of selling coal, that you have to be licensed for that, and that he can any day he likes revoke that licence and you have no redress under any court in the land, then you have reached the stage of despotism which I always understood our Constitution was designed to safeguard against and a stage of despotism which I understood we had finally thrown off in 1922 when we established our own Parliament and our own courts. Let the senior members of the Fianna Fáil Party not forget that, long before we had formal freedom here, one of the first things we did in the Sinn Féin days when we had our own Parliament out there in the Mansion House, was to establish our own Sinn Féin courts.
We should never have known it if you did not tell us.
I am recalling it. It is only last week I had the solitary experience of taking into my hands a very rare document—the Rules of the Sinn Féin courts. They were a reality.
And destroyed by your predecessors in 1922.
I knew that Oisín i ndiadh na Féinne would return. Now it is Oisín agus Harvey.
We used to hear a lot about Partition.
We will not hear it now.
There are no votes for Fianna Fáil in that now.
That is the fundamental objection there is to vesting in the Minister, and, indeed, that objection was always as fundamental in vesting in any Minister this arbitrary and despotic power. But, as I say, there is a time and place for everything. In the past the members of my Party and the members of the Fianna Fáil Party in opposition were prepared to entrust those powers to different Ministers of State, and that is where personalities come into it. That is where the personality and the circumstances change the situation. If a Minister comes in good faith to grapple with a problem and says "Here is an evil I want to eliminate" and everybody agrees, first of all, there is an evil present—it is not in this case, which is the first thing to distinguish this Bill—then he says "This is the way I propose to deal with it. I will operate these powers reasonably. My Departmental officials will ensure that this, that and the other is done. We will hear representations and you can be satisfied that these powers will be used sparingly, with commonsense and with discretion."
That is one thing. But when you have a Minister of State, who is working fulltime to make himself the most detested public figure in modern Ireland, introducing a Bill of this kind for which there is no need and to remedy an evil which does not exist, it is a very different story altogether. Somebody said something to me some time ago. I want to return to it. The members of the Fianna Fáil Party, as I said, individually down in their own constituencies will blame Deputy Neil Blaney, the Minister for Agriculture, for the Livestock Marts Act of 1967.
They will blame Deputy Neil Blaney in Tipperary, in Louth, in Laois-Offaly, in Kildare, in Kilkenny, where the County Committee of Agriculture passed a vote of censure on the Minister for introducing this Bill and a proposer proposing a direct "No" could not get a seconder. In Kilkenny the Fianna Fáil people will say: "We are all against it, but it was Deputy Neil Blaney, the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, who was insistent on this going through and we all know how tough he is. He is the man with the Donegal Mafia. You know what they are like." I want that to be very clear. Let the people know this. The Fianna Fáil Party as a body, despite the good show they will put on here, do not support this Bill. There are individual members, Deputies and Senators, who do not support this Bill. We have been told that they have opposed it in the Party rooms. I am breaking no confidences because no Senator or Deputy has spoken to me. But we know it.
Senator Nash, I can say, opposes this Bill and opposed it most vehemently within the confines of the Incorporated Law Society.
We listened to him the other evening.
He is not here this evening—the fugitive Senator fleeing from his conscience.
Where was the Senator?
I was entrained for Castlebar, where I had gone to earn my living. I am always here whenever I can be. That is more than can be said for many Senators. When I am here, I think Senators will agree I speak much more——
We certainly all agree with that.
——than the Members on that side.
And get a lot less said.
I do not know what you are complaining about.
Senator O'Quigley, on amendment No. 4.
Senator Nash is violently opposed to this and he is now at war with his conscience and a fugitive from this House. The newspapers do not approve of this Bill.
Which of them?
I have met rank and file members of the Fianna Fáil Party, the stalwarts down the country, who have said to me: "For God's sake, do your best to defeat this Bill."
It shows how much you are out of touch with opinion in your own Party when you laugh so hollowly as that.
Perhaps the Senator would come to the amendment?
This section is extremely objectionable, not only to myself, to my Party and to other Members of the House but to those people. One of those people said to me: "You know it is the lowest possible motive for objecting to it. It is going to do and it is doing our Party untold harm. We know that will not appeal to you. It is my lowest reason for being opposed to this Bill."
Where do you keep them locked up?
If anybody wants an oath on that, they can have it.
Does that account for the extra votes we got?
Does it account for the extra votes we got? I want to return to the amendment——
Thank you, Senator.
——after these diversions. I want to point out that we do not believe in the duplication of official functionaries. I share Senator Dr. Ryan's view that we ought not to build up a structure that is too complex or that contains too numerous strata. I think, therefore, that the district court is well suited for the granting of certificates of qualification to anybody who wants to embark on what would appear nowadays to be the very perilous business of engaging in the business of livestock mart. In amendment No. 8, which is down in my name, we propose not only that the application should be made in open court, but that the district justice ought to take into account the character, the conduct and fitness of the applicant, the fitness and convenience of the place and, as the courts have done successfully over the years in relation to other matters, take the businessman's view of it, consider whether or not there are an undue number of livestock marts in the area where it is proposed to carry on the mart in respect of which the application is being made to the court and, on that application, the Minister, livestock mart owners and any other person interested can come in and make his objections and, in the light of these objections, as the court does at present in relation, for instance, to dance hall licences, the court can impose its conditions.
I want to say that if the Minister is persuaded, as undoubtedly he has been, that it is right and proper that an investigation into the refusal by him to grant a licence to a prospective livestock mart proprietor or into his revocation of a licence should be the subject of an inquiry by a barrister of ten years standing——
The barrister speaking at the moment was often in a mart himself and knows what a mart is.
If the Minister has been persuaded into thinking that a barrister of ten years standing has some contribution to make to his deliberations——
Contribution is very easy. There is no necessity for a barrister.
I entirely agree. That is why I am entirely opposed to the idea of introducing barristers, licences, permissions or regulations into the conduct of livestock marts. The Senator has a point there and has, at least, if not the substance, certainly the spirit of this Bill within him. At any rate, if the Minister, as I say, has been persuaded to bring into his deliberations a barrister of ten years' standing, a much stronger case could be made by the Minister and by anybody else speaking on this Bill for going the whole way and leaving these considerations to the courts which the people have established to adjudicate on differences between themselves individually and between themselves and the Government.
It is for that reason that my Party are utterly opposed to the notion that a licence has to be sought, that a licence can be revoked by a Minister of State and that we think, in common with the many other people outside this House and the proposers and seconders of amendment No. 7, that this entire matter of deciding upon who shall have a licence or who shall conduct marts, who shall adjudicate on whether they are being conducted or not, should be left to the courts and not to the Minister.
Senator Stanford rose.
The House understands that we are taking these various groups and they are being discussed in the one debate? There will be separate decisions, of course. It is rather confusing, possibly, but the basis appears to be roughly the same.
I should like to refer to amendment No. 7, which stands in my name and in the names of Senator Quinlan, Senator Dónal Ó Conalláin and Senator Jessop. We put down this amendment primarily on a matter of principle. As we know, or as we should know, in this House, the welfare of our country depends on an equilibrium. It depends on an equilibrium between the Government and the courts, mainly, or between the Government and the Parliament and the courts. If we upset that equilibrium, if we disturb it, we are going to harm the ultimate welfare of our country. The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that at a delicate point of equilibrium the courts will have the ultimate decision.
I have been talking to honoured members of the Fianna Fáil Party on this matter and I know that this is a fine line to draw. I know that there are many matters in which the Minister grants the licence. I know that there are other matters in which the courts grant the licence. I think particularly of dance halls; I think of public houses. So the question in my mind is at which side of this fine line should this particular piece of licensing fall, and I am convinced personally that it should go to the courts, for several reasons: first, because it seems to me that where the representatives of the legal body have spoken they are firmly of the opinion that this should be a matter for their decision; secondly, I agree with the argument put forward by Fine Gael speakers that it would be unfortunate in the present climate of opinion in the country if it seemed —and I emphasise the word "seemed"—that the Government were taking powers which might be punitive—and I emphasise the word "punitive".
I do not think we can be at all sure about the probability of this. But the fact is that many people in the country fear that this power of licensing might be used in a punitive way. So, we have the lawyers as a body and we have a good many of the farmers and other citizens of the country perturbed about giving the powers of licensing to the Minister here.
There is another body I should like to mention, an honourable and highly respected one, the Irish Association of Civil Liberty.
I am a country man and I should like to ask a few questions so far as your contribution is concerned to the effect that the Dáil and Seanad have no function whatsoever, only the courts.
The Senator must not interrupt.
The Senator is very disorderly.
He should listen and learn.
I was referring to this respected and, as I think, honourable body, the Irish Association of Civil Liberty. They have no political affiliations. They are not, I hasten to add, to be confused with another body of similar name—a very confusing similarity—which is very much more radical than the original Irish Association of Civil Liberty. This Association has gone into this question in considerable detail and has very firmly come out in the public press against the taking of powers of licensing in this case by the Minister.
I think it is clear from the Bill itself that the Minister and the Government have qualms in this matter. That is the reason, obviously, why they suggest that if there is need for arbitration a barrister of ten years standing should be called to arbitrate. This will not do at all. It is halfway between two points of view and I do not think it satisfies either. To be quite frank, there is the gravest risk that such a barrister of ten years standing may have clear Party affiliations. In fact his promotion for the next ten years may depend exactly on how he decides matters of this kind. There is a very grave risk there. It is a risk which would not arise if a judge or a district justice, who is exempt and free from Party affiliations, should have this task. It seems to me crystal clear that it is highly desirable for the courts to have this decision.
I would appeal to the Minister, first, in terms of the general political theory —the kind of political theory on which I think almost all thinkers would agree —of the necessity for this equilibrium in the forces in the State; and, secondly, on the matter of expediency, that at this moment of some public alarm, it would be most regrettable to give the impression that this Bill will be used punitively. There are many things in this Bill that are desirable and good, but in this instance a fundamental issue is raised, and I would appeal to the Minister to consider it in that light.
I wish to support the amendment. The Senator has made a very excellent case for it, showing that if we believe in Government of the people, for the people and by the people—in other words, if we believe in democracy—the views of the overwhelming majority of the citizens of this State should carry weight. The association best in a position to adjudicate on the division of powers between the Legislature and the judiciary, that is, the Incorporated Law Society, have made their position completely clear in this situation, that they believe this is a matter for the courts. If the Minister and the Government can get away with the present effort, then it is the beginning of the end, for all licensing will pass on to the respective Ministers to be there fought and contested on Party political lines. If any local group wish to object to the setting up of a mart in their area, what is the proper thing to do? Get hold of your local TDs and send them after the Minister concerned; get them to put Party pressure on the Minister; get the local cumainn to pass resolutions and have those resolutions sent to the Minister. That is the logical outcome and, apparently, it is the only way to influence the Minister's decision.
Then if the Minister grants a licence or refuses it and an appeal is desired or required, we have what one can only call a farce, this so-called appeal to a barrister of ten years standing, a barrister who is already standing in the queue to be elevated to a judgeship at the next possible opening. Surely the people cannot look on such an arbitration scheme as a substitute for the cold, dispassionate judgment of the court itself. This would not be accepted in a civilised or democratic country. Indeed, I have a headline here from theIrish Times of 27th July, which says: “Lynch for Paris in October: Tackling the last hurdle armed with five EEC assurances”— and fettered by the Marts Bill, because that is what it is. In other words, it is proof positive to the other countries in Europe that we have not got a proper conception of democracy——
Would the Senator tell us who said that?
We do not know the position occupied by international organisations.
Would the Senator tell us what he is quoting from?
TheIrish Times of Thursday, July 27th.
Will the Senator quote it in full?
He should. It bears repetition.
The heading says: "Lynch for Paris in October", and the subheading is: "Tackling the last hurdle armed with five EEC assurances", and I suggest that should be coupled with "and fettered——
End of quotation.
Where did the other thing come in?
The cleverality of the Senator.
Would the Senator have the grace to withdraw it?
It is indicative of the Minister's attitude—
Will the Senator withdraw that aspersion on the integrity of theIrish Times?
It is significant, on this crucial and most important amendment aimed at the central defect in this Marts Bill, that the Minister has seen fit to depart from the House.
If that is the type of distortion the Senator has to use—
The only question posed by Senator Stanford here has been this question of which licences go to the courts and which are the subject of ministerial decision.
Nobody could take the Senator seriously after that.
We have to be very clear on the difference between the Dairy Produce Bill, 1928, the Seed Production Bill, the feeding stuffs Bill and other such legislation. In each of those cases, the legislation is dealing with a quality end product.
Cattle are not, of course.
No, and if Senator Yeats knew a little more about agriculture and spent a little more time out of Dublin, he would see the difference between a pound of butter and a bullock.
If Senator Quinlan spent a little more time in the Seanad, he would get used to telling the truth.
He would see that in the case of the quality end product, the whole reputation of the product depends on keeping a quality control. To that end a section has to be set up charged with the keeping of that control, in this case, in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. That section is empowered—and again quite rightly—to take drastic steps to ensure that our product is safeguarded and that its quality and its good name remain. However, in the case of the product of the mart, which is a bullock, he is not an end product; he is merely the product as it stands and later on has to be processed through a meat processing factory.
We should never have known if the Senator did not tell us.
You cannot take fundamentals too carefully, because we see the confusion that is being created in regard to the very simple difference between the two, showing that while one is appropriate for Ministerial action, the other is not. Senator Yeats was shocked in the last debate at the fact that a Minister had power to send inspectors in to burn some crops growing in a field but if the Senator knew a little more about the production of quality seeds he would realise that in producing seeds of this kind—it was probably beet seed or something like that—steps must be taken to ensure that there is not cross pollination of the seeds. To that end, certain other seeds cannot be grown within a specified area surrounding that field and consequently——
Can there not be an appeal?
There cannot be an appeal against established facts, as to whether the seed is growing there or not. Commonsense applies to these things. We must take account of what is happening in other countries. Especially at a time when we are so conscious of the international position and when, apparently, we cannot talk or even think of existence outside of association with EEC, one would imagine that in addition to gearing our industries and our organisations for competition in the EEC we would also be concerned to find out how they operate in the EEC, how their legislation works, and that we should be taking steps gradually to harmonise our laws with common practice in the EEC countries. In fact, the Minister for Justice assured the House some four years ago that that was the main aim of the law reform section in the Department of Justice and to that end they have brought in at least three or four Bills aimed at such law reform. Why then, if that is desirable—as, indeed, it is—depart so radically at the present juncture because nowhere in Western Europe is there anything approaching the type of licensing system that is proposed here?
We need only look across the Border and we see that there is not any licensing system in vogue there where they have only some controls in conjunction with efficiency payments as operated through the marts. The same practice prevails in England and we find that while our Minister is engaged in what I might call a nineteenth century feud with the farming organisations and with his failure to accord to that organisation the status it should have in any modern democratic state, in England there has been a complete review in a Bill which became an Act within the last year and which I have here with me, a Bill to establish a meat and livestock commission. This was the British approach to the same problem, something that had no relation to the advent here of the National Agricultural Council. In the British case the functions of the committee are carefully spelled out and the wide powers given to this commission include power to establish a meat and livestock commission and make other provision for the livestock and livestock products industries; to authorise grants for improvements of agricultural lands and make provision with respect to the shape and size of farms and related matters; agriculture and forestry on hill land, co-operative activities in agriculture; diseases of animals and other matters connected with agriculture. In other words, this is a fully comprehensive approach to the full development of agriculture by what we might call, in effect, a semi-State organisation, a body that has an independent existence. It has its functions spelled out very clearly in the Bill which runs to 94 pages. It is something that anyone concerned with the problem of the scientific and logical development of agriculture should study to see that in the scope of this commission there is integrated all the factors, the production, the processing and marketing. All these are combined in the one commission.
Is the Senator holding up the English Government as an example for us to follow?
I think we can learn a bit from them. I am never ashamed to learn from any other organisation which can offer us a good example.
Does the Senator recall his speech on the Free Trade Area two years ago and his opinions then in common with Senator FitzGerald?
Yes, and I stand over them as a scientist.
Do not be such a hypocrite.
Senator Ó Maoláin is going too far. Senator Quinlan is making a perfectly reasonable and logical statement and it is intolerable that the Leader of the House should set a bad example.
He did not set the example. These interruptions have been happening all through the debate.
We are considering the position in England where marts are not licensed. In connection with the provisions regarding marts, I should like to go through several pages but I have referred the House to this Act which is available in the Library, but I want to refer particularly to pages 76 and 77 which set out the functions of the commission. I shall quote the relevant part dealing with livestock markets: Article (1) deals with:
Advising on suitable and fair terms (other than financial terms) of contracts for the sale of livestock and meat, and preparing model or standard terms for inclusion in such contracts.
(2) Giving advice and information to assist buyers and sellers of livestock and meat to make bargains and do business.
Section 9, subsection (1), provides for:
Giving advice and information to those owning, conducting or using livestock auction markets on the efficient lay-out, design and operation of such markets, including in particular efficient methods of handling and penning livestock, and generally on matters conducive to efficiency.
(2) Compiling standard codes of practice for any of the activities connected with livestock auction markets with a view to their efficient and equitable organisation.
Yes, it is excellent. In other words, the commission will work in full harmony with the owners and advise them all the time. That is not the type of dictatorship proposed in this Bill.
That is wrong: you know it is wrong.
In respect of recommendations to the Government for adoption by the Government, section 5, subsection (4), sets out:
If at any time the Commission are satisfied—
(a) that a system compiled under this section is practicable, and
(b) that they have obtained sufficient experience of the operation of the system, and
(c) that they have the resources and facilities required to operate the system,
they shall submit particulars of the system to the Ministers with the view to the making of an order under the next following section.
In other words, they are to proceed gradually and to learn by experiment, and they are to be certain that what they are recommending is operable before they make any recommendation to the Ministers. That is an excellent safeguard.
A great deal of capital has been made out of the fact that orders made by the Minister will be laid before both Houses and may be annulled within 21 days without in any way preventing anything being done under the order in the intermediate period. In the English Act, subsection (11) provides:
No order shall be made under this section unless a draft of the order has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.
This is a positive and democratic approach rather than a negative approach. Nothing is done until Parliament has endorsed and approved the order. That is a much more satisfactory procedure than the one we have of locking the stable door when the horse has fied.
What the Senator is saying is very relevant to the Bill but I am wondering what it has to do with the amendment.
My amendment seeks to have the powers sought exercised by the courts rather than by the Minister. I am showing that the powers sought are completely undemocratic in any case, and that they are much more severe and more totalitarian than any corresponding legislation in operation in Northern Ireland, in England or in the EEC countries.
Did the Senator read them all?
I do not see any need for such legislation. The marts are there and have established themselves. There is a need for certain minor types of control to prevent mushroom growth but that period is past. We have a fairly stabilised system. The Minister is now insisting that we are to have licensing, whether we like it or not. In that case I want to ensure that it at least becomes a duty of the courts, rather than a prerogative of the Minister concerned.
I have adduced arguments showing that this legislation is totally out of step with the rest of Europe. In fact, if we were taking the Border seriously —which I do not think the Minister is—there should be an effort to coordinate the legislation here with the legislation in operation in Northern Ireland. There should at least be an effort not to bring in legislation here that the people in Northern Ireland would feel was repugnant to their ideas of freedom and liberty.
Anyone concerned with the freedom of the individual—and that applies to all citizens—would regard this Bill as a totally unnecessary intrusion by the State into the realm of the activities of private enterprise and co-operation. Any democracy or any group of citizens with any concept of freedom would view with horror and alarm the entrusting of these licensing powers in this Bill to the Minister. They would take it that we were substituting political pressure for reasoned argument within the courts, that any group of citizens who wished to object to a proposal to set up a mart in a certain area would be compelled to use political pressure as a means of registering their objection rather than briefing a barrister and having him go to court and present their case there.
In the past few days we have read of the operation of the courts in regard to the supermarkets. Even though they operated under a law which was over 80 years old, adequate scope was provided for the registering of objections—both the Minister's objection to the granting of licences and the reasons for it, and the right of the owner to defend his application in open court. He also has a right to appeal. That is democracy and I cannot see why it cannot apply here as elsewhere.
As mentioned by Senator Stanford, it is doubly necessary at a time when relations are in such a very unhappy condition between the Minister and the farming community that legislation that appears to be punitive should not be brought in and that powers should not be given to the Minister which people might feel could be used against any farming organisation. There is no need to mince words. If this is aimed at any organisation, it is aimed at the National Farmers' Association. No organisation has done more to uplift standards in agriculture, to improve production and make people efficiency-conscious than the NFA.
I cannot see how our application to join the EEC is strengthened when one of the steps the Government are taking in preparation for joining the EEC is an effort to break the main farmers' organisation, an organisation with 126,000 members. Tomorrow when the change from one president to another takes place, the president of the Ulster Farmers' Union will be an honoured guest at the change-over. That is the organisation the President of which, Mr. Deasy, held very urgent and necessary talks three days ago with his counterpart in the British farmers' association on mutual problems in relation to the marketing of cattle. These are all natural functions and this is the sort of thing which has been too long delayed. Ministers have appealed to the farmers to get together and form a single organisation. That single organisation is now there and it is up to the Minister and the Government to give it both the necessary recognition and the necessary status to ensure that it can play its proper role in the future development of agriculture within or without the European Economic Community.
Senator, I take it this is a passing reference.
A passing reference but, again, this is one of those things which sows the seed for the legislation before the House. We must face facts. I endorse Senator Stanford's appeal. Even at this late stage I would ask the Minister to prove himself a big man by divesting himself of this proposed power and give it instead to the courts where it rightfully belongs. I appeal to him to take that positive step towards the rationalisation of functions as between the Legislature and the Judiciary because, if we get into the European Economic Community, our future will lie on this division of power since the orders will not then be coming from the Minister or the Department of Agriculture; they will be coming from Brussels and if we vest this power in the courts and they use it well it will become even more significant than it might appear to be now. Secondly, I would ask the Minister to show that there is a purpose being served by talking in this House, to show that he is open to reason. I trust he will get up and make a dramatic announcement indicating that he will send this portion of the Bill back to where it rightfully belongs, to the Irish courts set up by the Irish people and backed by the Irish people.
Perhaps the House would give the Minister the opportunity of replying to the general points.
He is entitled to speak, I think, as often as he likes in this debate.
At this juncture perhaps the House would like to hear the Minister on the general points so far.
My intervention may or may not be dramatic but the announcement that Senator Quinlan is anxious to hear is unlikely to be, I am sorry to say, dramatic in the sense that he wishes it to be. I have heard only part of what Senator Quinlan had to say but, from the little I did hear, his role here in this debate would seem to be that of an advocate or a recruiting officer for the NFA. I do not know what that has got to do with this particular Bill and I cannot understand why it was repeated parrot-like by the Senator, as it has been repeated by his Fine Gael colleagues here and in the other House, that this measure is vindictive and this is a Bill of vengeance. I do not know what sort of little minds people who talk like that have got.
Have they any idea what the Bill is about? Why do they not read the Bill and find out for themselves what it is about instead of taking their cue from others, coming along here to assert that this Bill is aimed against the NFA? I said before—I repeat it now—that I have no row with the NFA. I object to the farming community being regarded as one and the same thing as the NFA and, from that point of view, I take the Senator who has just sat down to task. I have already appealed to other Senators and told them that they are either deliberately or intentionally trying to create difficulties by insisting that the NFA is the farming community of this country.
The Minister is clearly suffering from a delusion if he thinks he has not got a row with the NFA.
Relations are excellent.
My relationship with the farming community is, as I have already stated——
At its lowest.
——excellent and, so far as the NFA are concerned, I have not had a row with them. I have no row with them and, if they are making rows, that is their affair. I should not really have started to deal with the points made by Senator Quinlan first because he was the last speaker, but the whole tone of his speech consisted in harping on this idea that this Government have something to do with the NFA and the NFA represent the entire farming community and I am accused of trying to do down the farming community by introducing a Bill of vengeance directed at the NFA. The fact is I have brought in a Bill to license livestock marts, something of which none of us here, contrary to what Senator Quinlan thinks, need be ashamed. There is nothing undemocratic about this particular measure and nothing totalitarian. I am really shocked that Senator Quinlan should suggest I should model my legislation and behaviour on examples set in the Six Counties, a place about which I know a good deal more than the Senator does. I shall say no more than that.
The suggestion is that the giving of this power to the Minister is something unparalleled in the Six Counties, in Britain and in the EEC. They are, however, paralleled in many measures operative in this country today. I instance the dairy Acts, the Pigs and Bacon Acts, the control of AI stations, the Seeds and Fertilisers Act and the Planning Act of 1963, about which we heard so much from Senator O'Quigley.
Was it not opposed tooth and nail in the Dáil?
It is on record. On the Committee Stage, there were some 253 amendments. There were no divisions on any of them throughout the entire Committee Stage.
Tell us about the Report Stage?
The Senator wants to know about the Report Stage. There were 24 amendments agreed, five withdrawn and three not moved. One amendment was negatived. There was no division on the Report Stage and no division on the Final Stage. For the Senator's information, there is on record something which I think he should read and learn off, from somebody who was the Leader of his Party at that particular time. He had the clear situation developed, with which I am sure the Senator could not but agree at the time, since he was the Leader of the Fine Gael Party: at the end of the entire proceedings, we had a speech from the then Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Fine Gael Party, and this speech——
He paid tribute to Deputy Jones and generally to the manner in which the debate was conducted in the House.
Will the Senator just wait for this? This is something the Senator should know about because it is the most important statement by the Leader of his Party at that time in regard to the Planning Act. The reason he made this particular statement is that we had the situation of a very difficult Bill going through the Dáil with at least 253 amendments, and while those amendments were discussed, while they were put down by various people, we find that, in fact, there was no division on any of them. Surely to heavens the Senator at this stage must admit that he is in cloud-cuckooland when he talks about the total opposition of Fine Gael to the Planning Act, that they were going to try to amend it at this stage and that he should then go so far in his hallucinations as to challenge me and say: "If not on the Committee Stage, it must have been on the Report Stage". There, again, there were 33 amendments and not a division on the 33.
The Minister accepted some amendments.
Two hundred and forty-two agreed, three not moved and one negatived: no division on Report Stage and no division on the Final Stage, and a speech by Deputy Dillon at that time not just praising Deputy Jones but going on a little further. At column 1662 of volume 204, of the Official Report of 19th July, 1963, here is what Deputy Dillon had to say:
I would like to say a valedictory word on this Bill before it leaves the House. As an experienced parliamentarian, I have participated in a very minor and insignificant way in the discussions on this Bill but I have been a close observer of its progress in this House. As an experienced politician, I accept the principle that it is never expedient to praise a member of the Administration——
He was right in that obviously.
——but, subject to that reservation, we have reason to congratulate the Minister and Deputy Jones for a very fine performance in the enactment of a formidable piece of legislation which, we are all probably agreed, has been improved by its passage through this House.
Mr. Ó Maoláin
That is why they sent him to limbo.
He went on:
It would be only becoming for me here to express fully my admiration for the manner in which Deputy Jones has dealt with this piece of legislation on behalf of our Party and the Opposition. His encyclopaedic knowledge of it and his unfailing diligence and skill in bringing before the House those aspects of the legislation which we thought were susceptible of improvement have resulted in very valuable amendments to this Bill. That, in turn, resulted in an accented demonstration of the perfection of parliamentary legislation. That, I freely admit, could not have happened if Deputy Jones's efforts had not been met by the Minister, and when I speak of the Minister I speak of him in the widest sense of that term, in the spirit in which he has met them.
Maybe Senator O'Quigley would feel that that is enough of this at this stage. That surely crucifies his argument here about the Planning Act as a bit of legislation that was pushed through and that Fine Gael fought against——
We put down 253 amendments and the Minister accepted——
——when we find his Leader at that time talking in terms in which no person in the Opposition ever talked of a Minister of State in relation to any piece of legislation, not to speak of a Bill that was opposed, as Senator O'Quigley was asserting here this evening.
I have spoken in those terms in this House about the Minister for Justice.
The Planning Act was a bad, bad choice.
I shall go back to it tomorrow.
It was a very bad choice.
The Minister has to get Deputy Dillon to help him; he cannot get the members of his own Party to help.
Two hundred and eighty six opportunities by way of amendment and on not one was there a division.
Because the Minister said he was looking into——
Perhaps the Senator would allow the Minister to continue.
Two hundred and eighty six amendments on the various stages of that Bill and on not one was there a division, nor was there a division on the Report Stage, nor was there a division on the Final Stage of the passage of that very complicated bit of legislation, and then we had this speech by the then Leader of the Party. Maybe that was why he was dumped since—I do not know—but the fact is that Senator O'Quigley could not have picked a worse runner to support his argument or carry his colours than the Planning Act.
Tomorrow is another day.
Having said that, we have the other Acts I mentioned which are much more appropriate and have much more in common with the measure before us now. We have the Dairying Act running for 39 years where the creameries operate under licences granted at the sole discretion of the Minister for Agriculture, whoever he may have been or whoever he may be at whatever time those licences are sought. Will anybody suggest, including Senator Quinlan, that there are not a great number of those licences under which many creameries operate today? I challenge the Senator, and any other person here or outside this House, to say that there has, at any stage, been any effort made to upset that particular piece of legislation on any basis but particularly do I challenge anybody to suggest that there has been an attempt to upset or repeal or amend it on the basis that it was unfairly used, either politically or otherwise, by any Minister under any Government in the past 39 years.
This sort of legislation has been in operation since 1928, giving the Minister for Agriculture these powers at his sole discretion and without having to report to the Dáil either that he has refused or revoked a licence or give any reason for it which I am obliging the Minister for Agriculture to do under this Bill. These things have been in operation and not a finger has ever been raised and not a word has ever been said, and I challenge those who are challenging this Bill and the powers being sought by the Minister and the Government to say that there ever has been cause for complaint in this regard. Thirty-nine years of operation is surely a far better testimonial to the impartial manner of operation of the Ministers for Agriculture of this sort of power than all the gibbering that may have come from those who oppose a similar sort of power being given to the Minister today. Surely this is commonsense. Surely this is a logical way to look at things? If we do not agree that the 1928 Act makes up our minds, that one swallow never made a summer, let us look at the provisions of the 1935 Pigs and Bacon Act, where we find again——
The Minister is equating a pound of butter to a bullock.
I am afraid I do not understand.
One is a quality end product; the other is not.
That is the answer.
Not at all.
The butter is an end product of cows. What does the Senator call bullocks and heifers? Are they not end products of the same cows?
I do not know where they come from so. Whatever sort of produce it is I do not quite know.
The Minister must eat no meat obviously.
Perhaps the Senator might be able to help me in this one. We have the AI stations and the licensing of those stations. This again falls within the discretion of the Minister for Agriculture. What are they dealing with? Are they end products? I will not press that one. I will leave you to think over that until tomorrow. We have the fertilisers, feedingstuffs and mineral mixtures. Are they end products?
They are quality products.
The Senator is getting slightly mixed up. It is the next one he will say is a quality product. The Seed Production Act is a quality one. The Fertiliser, Feedingstuffs and Mineral Mixtures Act was passed under another Government, as was the Seed Act around the same time by the same Government. In every one of those Acts going back to 1956, 1947 and 1928, the Minister for Agriculture is given those particular powers. I have those powers today under those Acts in regard to all these things and nobody has, to my knowledge, made a complaint in regard to this Minister or any previous Minister having those powers. No such complaint has been received in regard to those pieces of legislation over the years.
There was no dispute.
You cannot get away from the fact that none of those Acts requests the Minister to bring to the Oireachtas his reason for revoking licences. He is not obliged to give any reason for doing so. Under this Bill, which is so much objected to because of this particular intention, which all sorts of people are talking about as a bad thing and that we should send it to the courts, the Minister is obliged to make his reasons for revoking licences known to the Oireachtas. There has been a lot of talk about the courts here and about how they have no difficulty in administering licences under the different Acts. There has been talk about dancehall and publichouse licences. I have already said—I have no hesitation in putting forward the point again—that there is not a true analogy to be drawn between the granting of dancehall licences, publichouse licences and the granting of licences for livestock marts. The reason I say this is that those who have to deal with this deal with public health and the courts deal with the public morals of our people.
May I just ask the Minister about auctioneers?
I have not made myself up on that one, and unlike some of the other speakers here, I do not, as Senator O'Quigley would say, anticipate what I am going to say. If I do not deal with this at the moments, it is not because I do not intend to. There are other matters I want to deal with now. I will remember the question and will come back to it at a later time.
All this hysteria that is being developed, pseudo-hysteria so far as Fine Gael are concerned, just does not ring true. The fact is that Senator O'Quigley before tea had a clear mind as to whether it is total opposition to the Bill which is the Fine Gael line, or whether it is his own line, to drive a coach and four through it and render it ineffective. He said that any good lawyer, including himself, could show how that could be done. That clear mind has disappeared since tea. I do not know whether he got a message about this or whether there is some other reason, but he is now reverting to the Fine Gael, line of total opposition for opposition's sake. I want to say that this really will not work.
There was all the talk about the provision in relation to barristers of ten years standing, that it is of no use, that it has no meaning. I notice that in fact barristers have not been mentioned at all since tea. This does not sound too good coming from those people. I mentioned the Pigs and Bacon Act of 1935. I am not aware that any particular objection has been made by Fine Gael over the years in regard to it. For the benefit of Senators who are interested, I refer to subsection (3) (c) (1) of section 30 of that Act. There they will find without doubt, without any change whatsoever, the same thing as is contained in this Bill, setting apart a barrister of ten years standing to make certain inquiries.
Is that as an arbitrator, that report to the Minister?
I have given ample references to enable the Senator to follow this up.
The Minister might be a little more helpful.
I am trying to be more helpful but there are other things I have to say before ten o'clock, and I only have a few minutes left. There are other provisions in some of those other pieces of legislation which are exactly the same as in this Bill.
They are other Fianna Fáil pieces of legislation.
I come again to Senator Quinlan. This Bill is designed, according to the Senator, to break the NFA and is not a preparation for the EEC. It is quite obvious the Senator has not been in circulation at all lately because he would realise that this is not what he says it is. He says it is a measure to break the NFA and secondly, it is not part of our preparation for the EEC or not the only thing we may be doing in preparation for the EEC. Again, I would refer him to the various newspapers, and suggest not that he read merely the various headlines, as apparently he did earlier today, but take a selection from over the past four or five weeks and to read the debates in the Dáil on the Adjournment motion. He will find that a great deal is being done in our preparation for our possible entry into the EEC in the years which lie ahead. A great deal more remains to be done and we are finding ways of doing this.
This Bill, I must reiterate, is in essence a measure that will perpetuate the rights of our farmers to sell their cattle without let, hindrance, intimidation or victimisation by any person in any part of this country who sets out to operate what we commonly regard, as a livestock mart. The reason for this asserting of those rights is to make sure that the rights of farmers to buy and sell will be preserved in the future when marts will by and large supplant fairs. Where the marts are successful, the fairs will gradually disappear.
Is there any great urgency?
I am not in a hurry about it. I am quite prepared to talk about it until the cows come home, quite prepared to talk about it again tomorrow.
Let the Minister get back to what he was talking about.
With regard to the urgency of this legislation, it was ordered to be printed on 31st May last. It is a very ordinary piece of legislation with several precepts in it relating to agricultural matters. Surely it is not our fault if Fine Gael cannot understand it, and if in addition the Labour Party, of which I understand Senator McQuillan is a member, cannot understand it. We have to be ever grateful to the Incorporated Law Society who were so succinct in their views in the matter, which they published in the newspapers. They had not the courtesy to send their thoughts to me but no fault to them—they are an eminent body.