Wednesday, 25 May 1938
Dáil Éireann Debate
Minister for Agriculture (Dr. Ryan): The Slaughtered and Detained Animals (Compensation) Bill, 1938, is intended to extend still further the principle, contained in two Acts already in operation, of compensation to owners of live stock, cattle, sheep and pigs, exported from this country and slaughtered or detained at a port in Great Britain in consequence of an outbreak, or suspected outbreak or apprehended danger of foot and mouth disease. The original Act dealing with this matter provides for a payment from a fund created under the Act which was passed in 1928. This fund awarded compensation in respect of live stock slaughtered because of this disease. Another Act was passed in 1932; this was brought in to extend the provisions covering compensation in respect of detention, lairage and feeding charges. Even though the cattle may not be slaughtered owing to foot-and-mouth disease, compensation may fall to be paid. The fund is built up of a levy paid by the owners of live stock to trustees created under the Act in respect of each animal exported, and there is no charge whatever on State funds. The levy is 2½d. on each head of cattle, ½d. on each sheep, and 1d. on each pig. The fund is managed by the live-stock exporters themselves, through the trustees. It was provided by the original Act of 1928 that, whenever the fund reached £40,000, or, in the opinion of the trustees, when it reached such a level as would be sufficient to meet any charges that might reasonably be expected to be payable under it, the collection of levies should cease. As a matter of fact, this position  was reached on the 24th April, 1934, when the Minister made an Order under the Act suspending the levy. It has not, up to the present, been found necessary to resume the levy. The second Act dealing with the subject is the Detained Animals (Compensation) Act, 1932, which extends the principle of compensation to live stock which, though not slaughtered, are detained at a British landing place for a period beyond the normal period. The Act provided for compensation in respect of such detention to cover the lairage and feeding charges. This Bill carries the principle of compensation still further, and provides for losses due to depreciation of live stock detained at British landing places beyond the normal period of detention. The compensation will also cover losses in cases in which the animals die at the landing places during detention beyond the normal period. Compensation in all cases except death will be payable after consultation with the National Executive of the Irish Live Stock Trade. The regulations may be amended from time to time as required. Compensation for animals which die in the lairage beyond the normal period of detention will be determined by a committee of assessors, as in the case of the Slaughtered Animals (Compensation) Act, 1928. Section 2 of the Bill provides for compensation being payable on and after the first day of October, 1936, in order that some cases which arose about that time may be the subject of compensation. Section 5 of the Act increases the compensation which may be paid to the secretary of the trustees from £200 to £300 per annum.
Mr. Cosgrave: Presumably the Minister has looked into the incidence of foot and mouth disease in the last three or four years as compared with the years 1928 to 1934. In view of the spread of foot and mouth disease during the last 12 months, would it not be wise to extend very considerably the provision of £40,000? Whatever the cause of the spread of the foot and mouth disease and its extension to new areas, there are speculations as to that. At any rate, it is evident that at no time within the last ten or 15 years has there been so much foot and mouth disease as during the last 12 months. In consequence, it would be well if this advisory body would consider the question of increasing the insurance, because that is what it amounts to. Obviously, an interruption in trade may occur in which compensation may have to be paid. This would make considerable inroads into the fund. Nobody feels very much the particular charge that is being made and it would be just as well to be on the safe side.
Mr. Gorey: What about taking precautions against the spread of this disease? It is commonly reported that a good deal of the prevalence of the disease in England is due to the several kinds of packing that come across. As has been pointed out to me, there is a good deal of empty sacking or sacks in which potatoes are brought in. Is there anything coming into the country from the Continent that would be likely to have a bearing on this disease? There is no doubt about the seriousness of it in England, especially in the last year. All the necessary precautions would not be misplaced, and everything that could possibly be done should be done to prevent the spread of the disease. A man in Waterford mentioned sacks and sacking to me as one of the causes of the spread of this disease.
Dr. Ryan: With regard to the point raised by Deputy Cosgrave, there is nothing to prevent the fund exceeding £40,000 if the trustees so advise. Up to this, the accumulation of the interest has been sufficient to defray any expenses that have arisen during the last four years. If we were to put on  a levy again, the ordinary income from live stock would be more than sufficient to pay any compensation that would be necessary, unless, of course, there was an outbreak in this country. Then our animals might perhaps have to be slaughtered at the other side. That is the sort of contingency that was provided for when getting the fund up to £40,000. If that contingency had not to be provided for, there would have been no need to have accumulated any fund at all. It is quite true, as Deputy Cosgrave said, that detentions at the other side are becoming more prolonged.
Dr. Ryan: Yes, more widespread, but we have sufficient income at the moment to defray any expenses that may arise. If the trustees think they ought to increase this fund above £40,000, there is nothing to prevent them doing so. They can proceed to collect the levy again and build the fund up higher even than £40,000.
With regard to the point raised by Deputy Gorey, the veterinary authorities in the Department of Agriculture have been very particular about packing coming into this country. As a matter of fact, practically every week we get requests to allow certain things in, packed in material that is prohibited under the veterinary rules, and these people always make some very strong plea that if we do not allow the packed article in, it will have to be sent back to Czecho Slovakia or Russia or some other place at enormous expense. I always have a certain amount of sympathy for the importer, but not for the shipping company, because they know these regulations and they do not take sufficient trouble and care to inform the importers about these regulations. If we were to be too easy with these importers and did not allow the straw or whatever it may be to be burned on board, as the request is very often, we feel the shipping companies would not exercise any care at all. I am saying this now because I feel that any Deputy may be asked to investigate  at any time when there is a refusal. We may be told that we are harsh with the importer, but we must do it.
Dr. Ryan: If you like to put it that way. It is the shipping companies we want to be strict with. If the shipping companies were strict and if they instructed importers properly, this would not occur.
Dr. Ryan: I know that and I think we are very strict with these companies. We have been very fortunate in this country so far with regard to foot and mouth disease, and that is largely due to the control exercised by our people.
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