Wednesday, 22 March 1933
Seanad Éireann Debate
Minister for Agriculture (Dr. Ryan): Amendments 2, 3 and 4 go part of the way at least to meet Senator O'Rourke's point. The section as it stands aims at defining maize-meal mixture, and I agree with the Senator that it is better first of all to define what the basis requirements are. We have done that now in amendments 2, 3 and 4. Afterwards we come back, in some section later on, to put in the requirements of what the mixture must be at the time of sale. By removing from Section 7 of the Bill paragraphs (c), (e), (f) and (g), we leave (a), (b) and (d). (a) says that the mixture is made solely from maize meal and any home-grown cereal, and (b) says that the maize or home-grown cereal consists of the entire product of the particular cereal, and (d) that the grain is commercially clean and sound and so on. That is all we prescribe in Section 7. As far as the miller is concerned, therefore, if he is not offering for sale, that is all that he is bound to observe. I think that it meets Senator O'Rourke's point to a great extent.
Dr. Ryan: The provisions in the Bill are mainly to protect the farmer against victimisation by the sale of proprietary and other feeding stuffs sold at exorbitant prices. We have come to the conclusion that we may not have included certain articles that might be sold as medicine, as appetisers, or as flavouring agents, which would not be regarded altogether as feeding stuffs. We desire to have the word “medicine” included in the section so as to widen it as much as possible.
(7) Any person (in this section referred to as a maize meal dealer) who has before the operation of this Act carried on a retail business of selling maize meal may, in accordance with this section, apply to the appropriate Minister to be registered in the register of maize meal dealers in respect of any premises at which he carries on such business.— (Senator The McGillycuddy of the Reeks).
9. Section 48, sub-section (2). After the word “importers” in line 42 to insert the words “a person registered for the time being in the register of maize meal dealers.”— (Senator The McGillycuddy of the Reeks.)
(c) in the case of an applicant for registration in the register of maize meal dealers, such applicant was bona fide engaged in a retail business of selling maize meal during any part of the appointed period, and the application for registration is made not later than one month after the appointed date.—(Senator The McGillycuddy of the Reeks.)
(e) if such premises are entered in the register of maize meal dealers, records of all maize meal brought on to or dealt with at such premises and of all dispositions of such maize meal; or”.—(Senator The McGillycuddy of the Reeks.)
Dr. Ryan: Amendments 18 and 19 have been introduced to meet a point raised by Senator O'Rourke in Committee on Section 61. The reason for his amendment was that if a maize miller was anxious to have his premises removed from the register of maize millers the Minister, as the Bill stood, could refuse which would be rather unfair. If a maize miller wanted to go out of business, or wanted to alter his registration, the Minister could refuse theoretically, but it is not likely that he would do it. In these two amendments we are meeting the Senator.
(2) The appropriate Minister shall cancel the registration of any person in any register kept by him upon the application of such person or, in the case of an individual, his personal representative or, in the case of a body corporate, the liquidator.
Dr. Ryan: I ask for leave to move an amendment to Section 68. In sub-section (1), line 19 to delete the figure “1932” and to substitute therefor the figure “1933.” The section as amended, will then read “Agricultural Produce (Cereals) Act, 1933.”
Section 80, sub-section (1) To delete in lines 56-57 the words “under and in accordance with a licence granted by the Minister” and to substitute therefor the words “such maize is sold under and in accordance with a licence granted to him by the Minister and is so sold to a person to whom a licence to purchase maize has been granted by the Minister.”
Dr. Ryan: The amendment may appear to be of a restrictive character, but in reality it will give the Minister more power to deal with a wider range of applications. The Bill, as it stands, does not give the Minister any control over the subsequent disposal of maize. The effect of that would be that the Minister would not be likely to give a licence unless he knew exactly beforehand how the maize was going to be disposed of. If, on the other hand, he had power to put in a condition with regard to the disposal of the maize afterwards he would be freer to issue those licences. Certain cases cropped up during the working of this scheme provisionally.  It is very difficult to forecast what may arise, but we have had certain examples. One was that of a person who applied for whole maize for the feeding of pigeons. Under the Bill as it stands we could not grant the application. Another case arose in connection with damaged maize that was unsuitable for grinding. A person applied for a permit to dispose of it. As the Bill stood we could not deal with that either. The more freedom that we have under the section the better it will be for those applying for licences because we can then exercise our discretion to a greater extent.
Section 81, sub-section (1). To delete in line 23 the words “forms part of a maize meal mixture” and to substitute therefor the words “(being the entire product of grinding maize) forms part of a maize meal mixture or of a compound feeding stuff one of the component parts of which is a maize meal mixture.”
Dr. Ryan: A rather unexpected point arose in this connection. It would appear from a reading of the Bill that a maize meal mixture could not be used in a compound feeding stuff which would, of course, be very awkward. A maize meal mixture could not be sold if any substance were added to it. The amendment provides against that, and makes the position clear.
82.—(1) It shall not be lawful for any registered maize miller to sell or offer for sale any maize meal mixture unless such maize meal mixture complies with the following specifications, that is to say:—
(a) oats (if any) included therein is, if an order under sub-section (3) of this section is not then in force,  in one or other of the following forms, that is to say, the entire product derived from grinding oats or the entire product derived from grinding the kernels only of oats, or, if any such order is then in force, in the form required by such order.
(c) in case such maize meal mixture does not include any oats or includes any oats in the form of the entire product derived from grinding oats, the amount by weight of the product derived from grinding maize included therein does not exceed the prescribed percentage of such maize meal mixture,
(d) in case such maize meal mixture includes any oats in the form of the entire product derived from grinding the kernels only of oats, the amount by weight of the product derived from grinding maize included therein does not exceed the appropriate prescribed percentage of such maize meal mixture.
(2) The Minister in making regulations in relation to the percentage referred to in paragraph (d) of the immediately preceding sub-section as prescribed shall, by reference to the quantity of oats contained in maize meal mixture to which the said paragraph (d) applies, divide such maize meal mixture into such and so many classes as he may think proper, and shall prescribe different percentages in respect of different classes, and the percentage so prescribed in respect of any such class shall for the purposes of the said paragraph (d) be the appropriate prescribed percentage in relation to every maize meal mixture which belongs to such class.
(5) If any registered maize miller acts in contravention of this section such registered maize miller shall be guilty of an offence under this section and be liable on summary conviction thereof to the penalties mentioned in Part I of the Schedule to this Act.
Dr. Ryan: This is a rather involved section. On two occasions previously I stated that a machine had been invented which appears to be economically and commercially successful for the de-hulling of oats. If it proves to be the success we think it is we may prescribe at a later date that only de-hulled oats will be used at least over certain percentages. We are advised by our experts on feeding-stuffs that it is quite safe to use up to 20 per cent. of whole oats in mixtures even for young animals—pigs and calves—but that for young pigs if one were to go beyond 20 per cent. of whole oats it would be unsuitable, and perhaps unhealthy. If this process of de-hulling oats is successful we can perhaps allow more than 20 per cent. of oats in the mixture. Perhaps it is better to take an example. If the percentage were 20 of home grown grain it would be hardly fair to ask one maize miller to put in 20 per cent. de-hulled oats as against a maize miller putting in 20 per cent. of whole oats. We propose to allow the miller to bring de-hulled oats up to about 70 per cent of the whole oats. If he put in, say, 14 per cent. of de-hulled oats and 86 per cent. of maize meal, or 20 per cent. of whole oats and 80 per cent. of maize meal, we would not have much difficulty if the maize miller is putting in no de-hulled oats. But suppose he was putting in 10 per cent. of barley and 70 per cent. of oats, or 12 or 14 per cent., the percentages would get so mixed that I am afraid we could not deal with it, at least I could not in the Seanad. We say that if you were to put in half de-hulled we would give  you half per cent., if more you would have to deal with cases of 12 and 14 and 20 per cent. The amendment is rather an involved one, and I find it rather difficult to explain it, I admit, and if Senators do not sit down and consider it carefully they will not understand it.
Mr. O'Rourke: It is a very involved amendment. I see the necessity. The machine for de-hulling was invented by an Irishman and it is a great success. I know the man well. As regards sub-section (2), I think it would be most objectionable to start off and have different classes of maize meal mixtures. It is the same commodity and if you have two or three mixtures, one with 10 per cent. and another with 12 per cent. and another with 14 per cent. it would be more complicated. I think the straight run maize meal mixture with a 10 or 20 per cent. is the proper thing. I would object to two or three classes of maize meal mixtures. I do not think they are necessary at all. Sub-section (3), which says that “the Minister may from time to time by order require any oats included in the maize meal mixture to be in the form of the entire product derived from grinding the kernels only of oats.” I entirely agree with that, but if the Minister is to make an order he should give the millers at least three months' notice. Very few mills are equipped with the necessary machinery. If the Minister made an order that there should be no meal mixture except in certain quantities three-fourths of the millers would have to close down. If the Minister would take the Advisory Committee of the millers into consideration, or if he would get his inspector to go round, and find out what the position is, I would be satisfied; otherwise I would oppose this sub-section (3).
The McGillycuddy: I think there should be due notice if there is to be a change. The millers might have their different stocks and they might then discover that they were liable to be fined if they kept a lot of the things they had in stock. I think it would be unreasonable unless you allow for some kind of notice.
Dr. Ryan: I have no hesitation in giving an undertaking upon that point.  This is a thing we would not do without consulting the Advisory Council and without giving them notice. We would not think of making the order referred to in sub-section (3) unless we found that de-hulling machinery had been installed and was a success and was the general practice all over the country. We would not do anything like that without consulting the council and without giving due notice.
Dr. Ryan: I think this amendment is aimed at trying to get the thing as uniform as possible. We are not going to ask one maize miller to put in ten per cent. and another 15 per cent. and another five per cent. of oats. We are trying to stop that and to make the matter uniform.
Mr. Jameson: In buying any kind of food for cattle, calves and the rest of it, the people supplying the food give us pamphlets explaining the food values and containing recommendations how to use them. The Government are going to alter the feeding qualities of different things for cattle and calves. Is there to be any scientific comparison, giving the information to the buyers upon these things, showing how the new foods will compare with those they had been in the habit of using, or will it be the case that buyers will have to find out by a system of trial and error, how they are to regulate these new foods, that they are giving to animals, as compared with those they had been giving. Will the Government tell the people the value of the different foods, and will they give them the result of practical experience as to the effect of the feeding of these new foods to animals? Everyone who sells me cattle food gives pamphlets telling me how best it should be used and the quantities to be used. But I have not heard of any information of that sort with regard to these new foods. Are our farmers expected to find out from practical experience what are the good and what are the bad foods? A clause like this makes  one think that there is to be a very large number of different qualities of foodstuffs to be sold, and anything that would guide us as to the food value, and as to what particular class of food should be used, would, I think, be of great use to the public.
Dr. Ryan: For the first time, under this Bill, the farmer will know exactly from the label on the bag what he is getting—the amount of oats, maize, barley and so on in the mixture. Even in compound stuffs he will know what he is getting. Experiments have been going on for years. Home-grown foodstuffs have been compared with imported foodstuffs. I myself, on the Second Reading of this Bill in the Dáil, gave the results of all these experiments, with regard to barley, oats and so on as compared with maize. Mr. Sheehy, up in Glasnevin, has carried out different experiments. Instructors in the country have been carrying out experiments on every class of animals with those foodstuffs, home-grown and imported. There is no difficulty. If you want to find out in what quantities a 20 per cent. mixture of maize and barley should be fed you can get it from the Department of Agriculture. There are leaflets issued on foodstuffs. There is one large leaflet issued by the Department on the value of foodstuffs and the value of one class of foodstuff as compared with another. These leaflets are there, and I do not think they could be supplemented in any way, but if it is necessary to issue a further leaflet it will be done.
Miss Browne: There is this very strong grievance, that farmers already accustomed to mix certain foodstuffs will not be allowed to do so in the future. They will have to buy their mixture and to pay more for it, and that is the bad part of this section of the Bill.
Sir John Keane: I ask the Minister, having prescribed a certain percentage which it is impossible by analysis or  examination to estimate how is that percentage to be carried out. I am informed that in the mixture of 30 per cent. of oats it is impossible for anybody, scientists or otherwise, to actually tell what percentage of oats is there.
Dr. Ryan: We have two tests, one the accountant's test and the other the chemical test. Chemists admit that they cannot give the exact percentage in a mixture of 80 per cent. maize meal and 20 per cent. barley. They could tell it if it was down to 5 per cent. barley, but whether it was 19 or 20 per cent. they could not. On the other hand, the particular chemist acting in this case, believes that he will be able to improve on the technique as time goes on.
The McGillycuddy: May I return to the matter of the leaflets for a moment. These leaflets really do not get down to the small farmers. You are going to have three or four more classes of food supplies. I suggest that these leaflets with instruction as to those foods should be distributed through the various schools in the country. In that way they would get down quickly to the people for whom they were intended. I think as a general principle these leaflets should be circulated through the schools.
Dr. Ryan: An anomaly might arise if this were not done, because it would make it unlawful to import, except on licence, cotton seed in grain. We have no objection to cotton seed in grain being brought in. We did not put it in the Schedules, but on the other hand, under this section cotton seed in grain would be forbidden, because it is part of the manufactured article that appears in the Schedule.
(4) Each of the articles specified in sub-paragraphs (b) to (w), both inclusive, of paragraph 7 of the Third Schedule to this Act shall be an excepted article for the purposes of this section, but if the Minister makes an order declaring that any of the said articles shall be a scheduled feeding stuff for the purposes of this Part of this Act, the article to which such order relates shall cease to be an excepted article for the purposes of this section.
The McGillycuddy: I should like to know how a man stands who has made a contract to supply certain feeding stuffs that are excepted in the Schedule. I think he should have got some warning as to his position.
Dr. Ryan: Of course such a man would have been warned with regard to these scheduled feeding stuffs since the Emergency Order was passed. Apart from that, if the Senator is afraid of the legal consequences, if a man is prevented by Government action or by any Act of the Oireachtas from carrying out a legal contract, I think he is absolved from responsibility by reason of that Act. He cannot be pursued further.
Dr. Ryan: The proposed addition is a necessary corollary to Section 90, sub-section (1). It is more or less consequential to the Bill itself. It is further necessary to give power to the Minister to issue licences in respect of such substances. It is merely a formality.
This amendment and the two following deal with that part of the Bill which provides for State milling by the Minister or by two Ministers. On previous Stages of the Bill the Minister stated that there was no intention of operating this part of the Bill unless the necessity arose for it and he hoped that that necessity would never arise. That statement in the opinion of the majority of the members of the House is, I think, open to considerable objection and I have drafted this amendment with a view to meeting the Minister's point of view as far as I can. He desires to have this power in the case of an emergency. The power is not taken away by the amendment but the amendment makes it necessary for the Minister to prove the need for it. That is all it does. I hope the Minister for Agriculture will see his way to accept this amendment. What I have said applies to the next new section as well.
Dr. Ryan: I am afraid I must oppose this amendment. I think it would be as reasonable to ask to have this part of the Bill, as was suggested on the previous stage, withdrawn altogether and that we should come back to the Dáil and Seanad in case of an  emergency and have this part of the Bill put through as a separate Bill. We do not want to have to face that. As a matter of fact when this part of the Bill was first included, it was put in because, as the Minister for Industry and Commerce explained, there were certain flour millers who had threatened that they would not work the scheme put up by him at an earlier stage. The fact of having this part in the Bill was sufficient to deal with the threat though it may not have been the whole reason why they did not proceed with the threat. Perhaps they found on reflection that the conditions imposed on them by the Bill were not so harsh but were in fact favourable. At any rate, they proceeded to work the scheme and they did not carry out their threat. In the same way I found that some of the maize millers were very hostile to the scheme and I thought it well to have this power there. As a matter of fact one maize miller has closed down. I do not believe it is because of the Bill though he says it is because of the Bill. He refused to work the scheme and he has closed down his business. He may have had other reasons for doing so. I have no intention whatever of using the powers in this Bill to open that particular mill again, but if there was concerted action amongst maize millers or flour millers, in view of some order or some regulation made under the Bill, not to work the scheme, I think it would be difficult for either the Minister for Industry and Commerce or myself to deal with it. It would be very difficult to deal with a situation like that if it were known that we had to go back to the Dáil or Seanad to get the leave of both Houses before we could deal with the problem. The only safeguard appears to me to be that we should have power to act immediately if there is any hold-up of the scheme. I think on the last occasion on which the matter was discussed the Senator had in mind putting forward an amendment to the effect that if in the opinion of the Minister an emergency had arisen, he should define it to a certain extent, but, that we would not have to go to the Dáil or Seanad, or at any rate, that the Executive Council would have  power to make an order declaring that emergency had arisen calling for the use of these powers. I cannot accept the amendment because I believe it would be no deterrent to the millers if they thought that we had to go to both Houses before we could get the necessary sanction to deal with them.
Mr. Jameson: The Minister has stated quite clearly that a state of affairs might arise in which conditions would be imposed on the millers which they could not accept and that they would not carry on milling under these conditions. The Government would then have power to come in and take over the mills and work them. I do not think anybody who has considered the Bill has ever contemplated that such a state of affairs would arise because that would be a very terrible thing for the country. It would be a terrible thing if the millers, because of something they could not accept, had to go out of business, and the mills in the country would have to be run by the Government. That is what we are afraid of. I think the Government themselves must be afraid of a state of affairs in which they would have to take over milling operations in the country. If such a state of affairs did arise it is a thing that the House should know all about.
The trouble is, that this section gives the Minister power to do things which may cause a revolution of that sort, which may drive people out of business and then give the Government, without any appeal to the House, power to go in and take the place of the millers, thus having the milling operations of the country carried on by the Government instead of by private persons. I think unless we can think of some way in which the Minister would first have to report to the House before embarking on such a step, we are incurring grave risks. What we ask is that when these most exceptional powers are going to be used the House should be consulted. We are quite open to meet the Minister if an amendment is put in which will provide that the Minister will consult the House before  entering on a business of this sort. We do not want to interfere with him except to provide for a danger that anyone must see lying ahead if a quarrel arises between the Government and the millers of the country. The House would be compelled to sit here and could not say a word in the matter. I do not think that even Ministers themselves hold that a bit of criticism in cases of that sort would do them any harm. It would bring a great deal of comfort to the minds of people in the country if they knew that the industry could not be interfered with in this way without the House hearing about it and knowing what was the cause of the whole thing. I think that is the idea that underlies Senator Bagwell's amendment.
Mr. O'Rourke: I support the amendment. I think it is quite reasonable to provide that such powers should not be brought into effect unless by resolution of both Houses. It would be a most extraordinary thing for the millers of the country at any time to take such a drastic step as to refuse to mill maize or flour because of some action by the Minister. But if the Minister and the millers were at loggerheads and things went that far, I think it is quite reasonable that before the Minister would get permission to take over mills he would have to come to both Houses and ask for their authority to do so. He can do that in two or three days. It is not a matter of six months. If the Houses are not sitting he can have them called together. I know the millers of the country very well, and I also know the Minister very well, and from my knowledge of them I do not think that anything such as this will ever happen, but it is as well to provide that if it does happen the Minister will have to come before us to justify his action. If he does that it may well mean that the dispute will be settled without resorting to such powers as are given in this Bill.
Colonel Moore: I object to this amendment. It is not the custom in this or any other country to tie Ministers' hands in this way. Certainly across the water Ministers have complete power to do practically whatever  they like once a Bill is passed. I never heard of any question of putting limitations on a Minister under a Bill of this sort.
Colonel Moore: When some very extreme measures were passed in this House in former years no limitations of this sort were sought to be imposed on Ministers. Here we have an attempt to cramp Ministers in a way that is quite exceptional. If Deputies or Senators object to anything that a Minister does under this Bill, they can bring forward a resolution to stop it if it is generally recognised that the action of the Minister is inadvisable. Ministers are thereby stopped from doing anything that is unreasonable, but to say beforehand that Ministers are not allowed to take advantage of a certain part of an Act is quite unexampled.
Sir John Keane: I think a lot of good comes from there, and I do not mind admitting it. I cannot speak as to the authenticity of the instances quoted by Senator Col. Moore, but I think any tendency towards bureaucracy on the other side should be deplored. As, however, we are an independent nation, this is an independent matter which we should consider on its merits. Is this not a question of nationalisation by a side wind? Should we allow an industry to be nationalised in this way? If you are going to nationalise industry, you should get the authority of Parliament, the sovereign body, and that is what this amendment involves.
Mr. Johnson: I am surprised that the Senator should be treating this as though it were a proposal to take over the whole of the milling industry at one fell swoop. It is nothing of the kind. It seems to me that what is contemplated is the possibility that, in  one particular corner of the country, there may an occasion arise where the Minister would need to act quickly, and he requires to have that power. In that case, he has to give a month's notice, and all the activities of the local people would be in operation, all the people concerned would have an opportunity of raising all the agitation they wished in regard to the intentions of the Minister within that month, and it can only be done in that case to a mill that is not being worked. Why there should be all this hullabaloo I am surprised, except that it is an attempt to scotch the Minister's power which he deems to be necessary to carry out the purpose of the Bill. It is quite clear from what the Minister told us last week and, on the face of the part of the Bill itself, that this is only an operation which can be undertaken by the Minister in special circumstances, where full notice is given and only where a mill which exists is not being worked. That is a very simple safeguard and should not entail all this kind of rather inflamed criticism of a section of the Bill, which is very mild and simple, and yet which is being treated as though it were a wholesale scheme of confiscation.
Mr. Bagwell: I am sorry that the Minister takes up the attitude he does about this amendment. I cannot agree that the running of industries by the State is a small thing or that it is quite usual. I think it is an exceedingly serious and very big undertaking, so serious that I do not think the Minister ought to have it in his power to do so without further consultation. My amendment does not abolish the principle. It only aims at limiting the power of the Minister and ensuring that he gets further authority. The Minister has said that the kind of amendment that was  expected from me was one stating a case, but I do not think that that would be much good because that would practically leave the Minister, after having stated his case, with full power to start milling without getting any further authority. I do not think that that would be of much practical value or any limitation of the powers in the Bill. Can the Minister suggest anything short of this? I confess that I do not see any way of doing it, short of this, and I think it is most objectionable that he should have the power of launching into so big and so far-reaching a thing because he alone considers that an emergency has arisen. Unless the Minister has some suggestion to make I will move my amendment, but I should like to meet him in a compromise if I could.
Dr. Ryan: I did not consider any amendment necessary and, therefore, I did not consider in the meantime what amendment Senator Bagwell might move, but I said that I thought he had in mind on the last day when moving an amendment a position in which, as he said himself, the particular conditions under which these mills might be taken over would be stated, but, as has been pointed out by Senator Johnson and others, it is only the unworked mill that can be taken over, so that the Minister's power is very restricted and I think that neither the Minister for Industry and Commerce nor myself has any wish to take those mills over at all. It is not nationalisation at all and, if we want to nationalise the mills at a later stage, we will not be afraid to come openly and explicitly before both Houses with a Bill of that sort, but this is not nationalisation.
Mr. Jameson: If the Minister gives us an assurance that there is no question whatever that in any case in which he is going to enter into business of this sort and take over mills, he must report to the Dáil, I think we would be met very considerably.
Cathaoirleach: It is anticipated that the Central Fund Bill, 1933, will reach us from the Dáil this evening. It will appear on the Order Paper for next Wednesday and there will be a motion from Senator Robinson to take all its stages.
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