SECTION 106.

(1) Whenever the Board is of opinion that any bacon in the hands of a licensee (not being bacon kept in a cold store in pursuance of a cold-storage order) remains unsold owing to such licensee demanding an unreasonable price therefor, the Board may make an order (in this section referred to as a purchase order() requiring such curer to sell to the Board at such price as may be specified in such order a quantity (to be specified in such order) of bacon equivalent to the quantity of such first-mentioned bacon and to deliver such quantity to a place and at a time specified in such order.

Minister for Agriculture

I move amendment 100:

In sub-section (1), page 49, line 33, to delete the word " section " and substitute the words " Part of this Act.

This is a drafting amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 101:

In sub-section (1), lines 34 and 35, to delete the words " at such price as may be specified in such order " and substitute therefor the words " at a fair price to be specified in such order ".

This is designed for the purpose of placing on the Board the statutory duty of offering the curers a fair price for any bacon that the Board may compulsorily acquire from the curer. It is exactly anomalous with the position under the Housing Act or any other Act where the Government is entitled compulsorily to acquire property from a citizen and in the last analysis what is a fair price would be decided by the courts if no agreement were reached between the curer and the Bacon Board.

They are a tough set, those bacon curers.

Minister for Agriculture

This is really a penal clause and merely to bring him to his senses if he does not do what the Board believes he ought to do in disposing of the bacon. It is quite possible that the curer may have to sell the bacon at what he considers was not a fair price and the Board might say " Yes, you are getting a fair price " and it would be fair to leave it to the Chairman. I think he would be the best judge.

As the Section stands at present the Board can take the bacon over at any price it wants to. Who is to say what is a fair price ? If he is offered a fair price no sensible curer will go to the courts if he knows in his heart that the price is fair. If, on the other hand, an attempt is made to injure a trader by taking bacon at a penal price that is not the intention of the Bill; it is not the intention of Dáil Eireann to delegate to the Chairman of the Bacon Marketing Board the power to inflict fines on curers.

How do you define a fair price ?

The Court will define it. They would define it as the price fair to the vendor taking into consideration all relevant circumstances. That decision is being arrived at every day by the courts in respect of terms and contracts in Land Commission cases, housing cases and so on.

Deputy Maguire

In an ordinary commercial commodity would your idea of a fair price be the cost that the article represented to the curer ?

The courts would certainly define a fair price under the circumstances of the time—the conditions ruling in the market at the time the transaction took place.

Then the object of the section is to let a fellow squeeze all he can for his bacon and then to come along and ask the Board to distribute any he has left on his hands at a fair price. That scheme does not hold water.

Minister for Agriculture

Does not anybody know that the Bacon Board is going to take all these things into consideration. I am sure that the chairman of the Board—if he is going to be any use at all—will know much more about fair prices for bacon than any judge.

Is there any fear of penalising him by losing his quota ?

Minister for Agriculture

No, he is producing all the time.

I give up. One minute I am faced with the thesis that the strongest inducement should be offered to the curer, and five minutes afterwards there is a complete reversal. At four-thirty I am faced with a general claim for an economic price for the producer, and five minutes later, when I try to secure that price, no one wants to get it. Put the amendment, Mr. Chairman. This thing is becoming a farce.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 2; Níl, 7.

Tá.

  • Deputy Dillon.
  • Deputy McGovern.

Níl.

  • Minister for Agriculture.
  • Deputy Moore.
  • Deputy Beegan.
  • Deputy O’Reilly.
  • Deputy Belton.
  • Deputy Smith.
  • Deputy Maguire.
Amendment declared lost.
Question:—" That Section 106, as amended, stand part of the Bill "—put and agreed to.