National Stud Bill, 1953—Committee and Final Stages.

Thursday, 19 March 1953

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 41 No. 10

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Section 1 agreed to.

Question proposed: “That Section 2 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. McGee: Information on James Thomas McGee  Zoom on James Thomas McGee  I am informed that I am entitled to speak on this section. I am interested, as a breeder, in this measure. I would have liked to have spoken on the Second Stage. When I [989] found I was being eulogised by Senator Quirke, I began to think I ought to try and make up a speech. When this measure first came before the country, I was amazed to find that one of my best friends, Deputy Dunne, took up the matter, but I was more amazed to find that he was doing so on behalf of the unemployed. To my mind, if ever relief is to be brought to the rural community and to the unemployed, then no greater event has happened to this end than the purchasing of Tulyar. With all respect to Senator Commons, one of the best racehorse meetings we have is at Ballinrobe, and it will take him a while to secure a majority of people in his favour around there, because they breed very good horses which take a good deal to beat.

If I am not mistaken, the entire country is wrapped up in rural employment. In the 60 odd years that I can recall, the entire transport of the community has ceased to have any connection with horses. I can recall when every street and every town had its oats store and when oats was taken in to be consumed by horses which then formed the backbone of the community's transport. That has now ceased, and there is no other animal which will live so successfully on oats, or consume so much in proportion to its own well-being as the horse. For that reason, the more you can exploit the horse the better it is for the community, and these facts make me adopt the one course there is for me to adopt, namely, to support the purchase of Tulyar.

I think that I am correct in stating there is an annual return of something like £3,000,000 from bloodstock and I would be very nervous lest the criticism being voiced prevents the directors of the National Stud from pursuing the proper course which is to buy, if necessary, two or three of the first six horses that won the “Triple Crown” in the European community, be they French or English. An investment of £250,000 is nothing if the return is an annual income of £3,000,000.

There was some mention made about Royal Charger and the fact that there [990] are rumours he may be sold. If Royal Charger can command anything like £100,000 at 13 years of age, the National Stud directors have done their duty well and truly, and are entitled to give more than £250,000 for one four-year-old. In addition to Royal Charger, you have Blackrock which in its first year of service was able to give numerous winners. What would Preciptic be worth to-day? He also had winners among his produce from his first years of service. Then we have Legend of Confey, one of Preciptic's progeny, who but for bad weather would have won at Haydock.

The men who bring in such horses at a first attempt are entitled to have first consideration and if the purchase of Tulyar proves to be wrong, let them double the figure of £250,000 to purchase another and better animal, because you would get that money back within three years. The bloodstock breeders are entitled to get consideration and are entitled to national prestige. Senator Quirke and the other Senators in supporting this proposal are doing their duty and putting right the wrong they did in hunting Blandford out. We must look at this purchase from the national-minded point of view and, if they made a mistake, I am pleased to see them rectifying it, and I weigh in with them. All I have to say is that the Stud Directors should be encouraged in every possible way and the money spent by them is spent in giving employment to labour.

Mr. Hearne: Information on Michael Hearne  Zoom on Michael Hearne  On the section, may I ask this question? This section provides that the capital of the company shall be increased to £500,000. Is it quite clear that the expenditure of the new capital is entirely within the competence of the board as was the original capital of £250,000? In other words, is it clear from this Bill which increases the capital that ministerial interference is not possible with regard to expending the additional capital?

Mr. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  I would like to put an addendum to Senator Hearne's question. Could it be a fact that the Minister proposes to hand over a sum of £250,000 to the board without inquiring how that money is to be spent? Was it not the purpose of [991] Senator Hearne's question to elicit from the Minister information and to get him out of the hobble in which he was, through being unable to say: “I have no responsibility good, bad or indifferent in this; it is on the National Stud Board and we are all agreed that they are sound men fit for their job, and it is their job to spend the money and my job to give the money”? Could it be a fact that the Minister proposes to take refuge in that kind of defence? In his speeches he made it quite clear that this money was required for the purchasing of Tulyar.

I want to put it bluntly to the Minister that this £250,000 is for the purpose of purchasing Tulyar and for no other purpose. I also want to find out whether the Minister regards this as a gamble or not, because, in concluding his speech on the Second Reading, the Minister created some doubt in my mind by referring at times to an investment and at other times to a gamble. As this is a section dealing with the paying over of £250,000, I want to know if the Minister is suggesting that we should invest that sum or, as he suggested, gamble it. Senator Colgan was in no doubt about it at all.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  This is a Second Reading speech.

Mr. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  No, no. I am on this section and want to know whether we are being asked to pay out £250,000 as an investment or as a gamble.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Senator Colgan has no responsibility.

Mr. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  I was afraid, A Leas-Chathaoirligh, that you were going to say no sense of responsibility. The Minister in dealing with the question in the Dáil at column 1658 on the 25th February, said that there was no gamble in this and that it was a good sound investment.

A great deal of the Minister's speech here to-day was a public acknowledgment of the fact that it was a gamble and, in a section such as this, whether we are dealing with racehorses, cattle or pigs, it was a gamble. I do not agree with the section, which I believe was inserted merely for the purpose of [992] purchasing this particular racehorse. I have not the knowledge or authority that Senator O'Reilly has on a question of value, but I am convinced that this sum of £250,000 is too high.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  We are not dealing with the value of the horse now. We are dealing with a sum of money.

Mr. O'Donnell: Information on Frank Hugh ODonnell  Zoom on Frank Hugh ODonnell  I assume that some portion of this £250,000 will be spent on the purchase of this racehorse, and might I ask the Minister to reply to two questions which I put earlier? The first is, when this racehorse is purchased, if it is intended to race him this year. It has already been stated by some of the papers that he will be raced.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  That question is not under consideration at the moment, and is not in order.

Mr. Walsh: Information on Thomas Walsh  Zoom on Thomas Walsh  I think I can answer the questions which were put during this debate. It is within the competence of the directors of the National Stud to spend this money, and they will not be directed by me or any Minister on how they should spend it. Regarding the question raised by Senator O'Higgins, concerning the purchase of Tulyar, we are giving this money for the purpose of buying a horse, but there is no compulsion so far as I know on the board to purchase this or any other animal. I believe that this is a sound investment.

Question agreed to.

Section 3,4 and 5, inclusive, and the Title, agreed to.

Agreed to take the remaining stages to-day.

Question—“That the Bill be received for final consideration”—put and agreed to.

Question proposed: “That the Bill do now pass.”

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  On this stage I would like to say a few words in connection with the value of the horse. The only way in which we can assume value is by comparison——

[993]Professor Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  May I say this, before Senator Quirke continues? Senator O'Reilly refrained from discussing the value of the horse in order that this Bill might be dealt with to-night, but if Senator Quirke now proposes to make a statement on the value of the horse he will be answered and this discussion might not finished by 10.30. Without any desire, and I have no interest in the matter, to dictate to the House, I think the simplest thing would be to get it finished with now.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  I propose to limit my statement to five minutes.

Professor Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Senator O'Reilly can then come in and you can see that this Bill will not pass to-night if that discussion is opened up.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  I merely want to clear the air.

Professor Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  I am only explaining that Senator Quirke is himself obstructing the passage of this Bill by insisting on making a statement. In order that the Bill might be passed to-night, Senator O'Reilly refrained from making a speech on the value of the horse, but if Senator Quirke now insists on making a statement, Senator O'Reilly will have the right of reply and the right to make his speech. If Senator Quirke insists he will possibly spike the whole business.

Mr. Hearne: Information on Michael Hearne  Zoom on Michael Hearne  If Senator Quirke wants to make a statement of five minutes I do not see that there can be any objection and Senator O'Reilly can then make a statement lasting five minutes.

Professor Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Or as long as he likes.

Mr. Hearne: Information on Michael Hearne  Zoom on Michael Hearne  Can they both not confine themselves to five minutes?

Professor Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  And any other Senator has a right to speak on the matter.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  I will confine myself to five minutes. I was saying that the only way in which to estimate the value of this horse or of anything is by comparison with something of a [994] similar nature. The only way in which we can estimate the value of Tulyar is by comparison with another horse of the same kind. The only way in which we can do that is by going back on racing history. At least three or four horses were syndicated for stud purposes and one of them for £160,000 in the last few years. Senator O'Reilly will see then by comparison what the estimated value of Tulyar is. That horse won £75,000 in the course of his unbeaten record.

Another thing which would give us an estimate of value would be the achievements of Nasrullah which while at stud in the course of six years produced yearlings which were sold by auction, and this does not include private sales, for a total of 314,390 guineas, and that did not include the horse No, which is one of the greatest horses in the United States.

Mr. P.F. O'Reilly: Information on Patrick F OReilly  Zoom on Patrick F OReilly  Senator Quirke left me completely in the air as to what his views are on the value of this horse. He has told us about three horses which were syndicated recently and one of which was syndicated for £175,000 but he did not tell us the names of the horses.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  I said it was syndicated for £160,000.

Mr. P.F. O'Reilly: Information on Patrick F OReilly  Zoom on Patrick F OReilly  Senator Quirke has conveniently or inadvertently omitted to tell the Seanad that that horse has been almost a complete failure at stud.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  That is not so.

Mr. P.F. O'Reilly: Information on Patrick F OReilly  Zoom on Patrick F OReilly  In fairness to the people concerned we should not go too deeply into this matter, but I can assure the House that it has been almost a complete failure.

Senator Quirke has told us about Nasrullah and used it as a comparison in estimating the value of Tulyar, but by comparison with Nasrullah I think it can be shown that we are paying too much for Tulyar. Nasrullah was sold for something like £120,000, paid in dollars. Nasrullah would not be far removed from Tulyar as a sire; I would not say he was as good but he has proved himself, which Tulyar has [995] yet to do, to be an excellent sire and he was sold recently for dollars for something in the neighbourhood of £120,000. That makes very little of the price being paid for Tulyar.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  I think the price was around £160,000.

Mr. P.F. O'Reilly: Information on Patrick F OReilly  Zoom on Patrick F OReilly  Senator Quirke has brought all this on himself in endeavouring to prove to the House the value of Tulyar.

I had decided, in order to allow the Bill to go through, to refrain from making a speech on this Stage and collecting all the material. I have, however, gone into the matter sufficiently. We are paying for this animal £250,000 and in stud fees we cannot hope to get anything like our capital expenditure back again. Not merely can we not make a profit, but we will not regain the capital which we now propose to expend on the purchase of this horse.

The horse in his first year will earn in stud fees about £10,000 on the assumption that he serves 20 mares at £500 each. In the other nine or ten years which will be the extent for which we can hope he will be available he will earn in service fees something like £200,000. We should then have got back £210,000, having expended a sum of £250,000 on his purchase. On those figures we should have lost a capital amount of £40,000. We shall have, during the nine or ten years we have him, lost in addition the cost of his keep and maintenance and the cost, which is not an inconsiderable amount, of insuring him.

This valuable animal must be insured for a very large sum and the premium may be in the neighbourhood of from £7,000 to £9,000 per annum. Undoubtedly should his progeny win well it will be to the benefit of the country and the prestige of the industry, the live-stock industry of the State. Nevertheless, the price, £250,000, is too much to pay.

I cannot over-emphasise the fact that the Minister is not correct in stating that all the money that will be spent on the purchase of yearlings will be spent in Ireland at Ballsbridge. [996] What will happen I suggest is this. Mares from Ireland will be sent to Tulyar. They will be very few because there will be a bigger demand and a bigger supply from England. Irish mares sent to Tulyar will foal here, and their progeny will foal here. Their progeny, say, ten per annum, will be purchased possibly by English people, but as for the other 30 yearlings, after they have foaled here or in England, they will all be in England where they will be sold and the profit made on the sale of them will go to England. I am not blaming the English people for endeavouring to gain any profit in that way. But it is wrong to think that the value of our export trade will be increased enormously or that it will run into millions.

Mr. S. O'Donovan: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  What about the second generation? They will not all be across the water.

Mr. P.F. O'Reilly: Information on Patrick F OReilly  Zoom on Patrick F OReilly  There may be nine or ten generations for that matter, but in the main the profit will be felt by people who send across from England. We have very few mares in this country to send to Tulyar. I feel I must repeat, having regard to what other Senators have said, that I have complete confidence in the National Stud, but I am exercising my right— and it is quite clear that I have the right—to express disagreement with the amount of money to be paid for the horse. It is utter nonsense for any sensible man to suggest that this animal or anything like it is worth £250,000. I repeat——

Mr. Hearne: Information on Michael Hearne  Zoom on Michael Hearne  I suggest that at this stage it is too late to be repeating anything.

Mr. P.F. O'Reilly: Information on Patrick F OReilly  Zoom on Patrick F OReilly  You might have suggested that to Senator Quirke.

Mr. Hearne: Information on Michael Hearne  Zoom on Michael Hearne  Senator Quirke kept to the agreement and spoke for only two minutes.

Professor Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Senator O'Reilly has every right to talk until 10.30 o'clock if he likes. Senator Quirke started this debate on the Fifth Stage and not Senator O'Reilly.

[997]An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  We will not get any further if this is to continue.

Mr. Hearne: Information on Michael Hearne  Zoom on Michael Hearne  I think the Standing Orders of this House provide that there should not be undue repetition.

Mr. P.F. O'Reilly: Information on Patrick F OReilly  Zoom on Patrick F OReilly  We shall not have any more repetition. If there has been any it was not begun on this side of the House. For people to tell this House that Ireland is going to make millions because of the purchase of Tulyar simply does not make sense and the less we hear about it the better. I am sorry for keeping the House so long but I felt that I had not done justice to the matter. I had made up my mind to facilitate the Minister so [998] that the Bill would go through this evening but because some Senators evidently took another view I had no option but to make my speech without preparation.

Question put and agreed to.

Mr. O'Higgins: Information on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  Zoom on Michael Joseph O'Higgins  I wish to be recorded as dissenting.

Mr. Commons: Information on Bernard Commons  Zoom on Bernard Commons  I, too, wish to be recorded as dissenting.

Professor Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  It should be noted that the Bill was passed this evening in spite of its supporters on the opposite benches.

The Seanad adjourned at 10.30 p.m. until Wednesday, 25th March, at 3 p.m.


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