Poisons Bill, 1960—Committee Stage.

Wednesday, 10 May 1961

Seanad Eireann Debate
Vol. 54 No. 2

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Sections 1 and 2 agreed to.

Question proposed: “That Section 3 stand part of the Bill.”

Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  I want to refer to the words in the last line of subsection (2) of Section 3: “... as the case may be, shall refer to it.” I wonder whether Comhairle na Nimheanna may initiate an inquiry itself as a Comhairle or must everything be referred to it?

Minister for Health (Mr. MacEntee): Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Everything must be referred to it.

Question put and agreed to.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  I move amendment No. 1:

In subsection (1), before paragraph [106] (g) to insert a new paragraph as follows:—

“( ) one person nominated by the Minister for Lands with special knowledge and experience of wild life,”.

My interpretation of the function of the Comhairle to be established under this Bill is that it will be advisory to the Minister in relation to matters set out in the Bill. For that reason, I think that I interpret the provisions of the section correctly when I say that the most ample representation that might be provided to the immediate interest is being provided in subsection (1) of Section 4, which provides that the Council shall consist of medical practitioners, pharmaceutical chemists, veterinary surgeons, a dentist and a person with a special knowledge and experience of agriculture.

It has occurred to me that it might be well to consider the purpose of the amendment. Its purpose is to provide that the Minister for Lands will be empowered to nominate to the Council one of the three persons who remain in paragraph (g) who would have knowledge and experience of wild life. My information is that as a result of the introduction of chemical or toxic sprays and dressings, there is a real danger of considerable damage being done to wild life, and particularly to game birds. I believe that is the experience of sportsmen and, indeed, of farmers who have observed the numbers of birds that have been killed as a result of eating seeds which were dressed with certain kinds of poisonous substances and sprays or by eating fruit and things of that kind which have been sprayed with toxic chemicals.

Apart altogether from the general observations of farmers and sportsmen, there is a report which I am sure the Minister has seen. It was compiled by the British Trust for Ornithology, the Royal Society for the Protection of birds and the Game Research Association. I must apologise, as I always do, for reading an English document to the House because I think in this country we ought to do our own researches into these matters. [107] I merely produce this document to illustrate that across the water there is also anxiety about the effect of toxic chemicals on wild life. I take it that wild life in this country is no less immune to those substances than it is in Britain.

It seems to me that we ought to consider giving representation on this Council to people with experience of wild life. The game, and the facilities for gunmen and sportsmen of every kind in this country, is one of our tourist attractions. We ought to ensure that nothing is done to diminish that attraction but that, on the contrary, everything is done to preserve it. In that connection, I note it is already the policy of the Legislature, as indicated in the Vote for the Department of Lands, to preserve wild life. In that Vote a grant of £7,500 is devoted for the preservation and improvement of game preserves in accordance with approved schemes. It would be the height of folly, and most wasteful, to spend £7,500 on preserving wild life and, at the same time, to let pass unheeded the effects which toxic chemicals might have on the game preserves of the country.

I gather from the Report of the British bodies to which I have already referred, that, from the point of view of cruelty to animals, these chemicals cause dreadful pain and suffering to the unfortunate wild life which happens to become poisoned by them. Therefore, I think it behoves us, when establishing a Council to deal with poisonous substances, to bear in mind that it is the policy of the Legislature, and the view of the ordinary people, that we should minimise, as far as possible, cruelty to animals from any cause.

Therefore, if animals such as hares and foxes are liable to be caused dreadful pain, as I gather from this Report, from eating birds and animals which have been poisoned by these toxic chemicals, we should make every effort to prevent that or minimise it. I suggest to the Minister for his consideration that, by having on the [108] Council a person experienced in game and wild life—I take it that “wild life” in the amendment includes game—would be well worth while. I should not in the ordinary course, when an executive council is being established rather than an advisory council, urge an amendment of this kind, but in the case of an advisory council, the more views we have that can conveniently be represented on it the better the council would be for the purpose of implementing the provisions of the Bill.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  I agree most wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed by my colleague Senator O'Quigley on this matter. Ten years ago the sprays and seed-dressings in general use were almost restricted to the ordinary Bordeaux mixture for potatoes and the ordinary mercurial seed-dressing for seed. In the past ten years there has been a complete revolution in this field. Now there is what is known as the dual-purpose seed-dressing, which not only gives protection to seed against bunt and smut and other diseases but, at the same time, protects the young plant from the ravages of wire worm. There are two types of it. They are both extremely toxic substances and one happens to be worse than the other. The two substances which are used are that on the B.H.C. base and the Dieldrin base.

The Dieldrin based substance is regarded as absolutely fatal to wild life which partake of the seed. I understand that this year some farmers ordered Dieldrin based dual purpose seed dressing for the purpose, not only of protecting the seed from the ravages of wire worm, but also of killing crows in rookeries beside the fields. If that seed dressing with the Dieldrin base will kill crows, it will certainly kill pheasants and partridges. It will certainly kill all kinds of wild life that partake of the seed. One can imagine that one of the functions of this body might be to restrict the sale of that type of seed dressing to the one with the B.H.C. base rather than the one with the Dieldrin base to preserve wild life.

Similarly, in the use of sprays there [109] is a necessity for regulation because, as I mentioned on Second Reading, there are two types of sprays in general use, the D.N.O.C. spray and the hormone sprays which are described as M.C.P.A., M.C.P.B. and other letters denoting chemical formulae. There is no doubt that it is necessary to use the more toxic of the two because, in certain instances, it has a range of kill over weeds which is greater and indeed can be different as well, inasmuch as that the weed that is killed by D.N.O.C. spray might not be killed by the M.C.P.A. spray, and similarly the weed killed by the M.C.P.A. hormone spray might not be killed by the toxic D.N.O.C. spray.

If there is need of both sprays, as I contend there is, there is absolute need for regulation in their use. For instance, if a regulation were made whereby when D.N.O.C. sprays were used or when the dual purpose seed dressing was used on a crop of cereals the sower of the seed or the user of the spray must compulsorily place small heaps of ordinary grain on the headlands and on the ditches where pheasants and partridge most commonly eat the seed then most of the birds which are lost would be saved.

One might ask if it is worth all the trouble. People have discovered it is worth the trouble. Since the prohibition on the shooting of hen pheasants, the number of pheasants here has increased enormously. People have discovered that the shooting on their lands is now worth almost as much as it is worth in England. In England, if one were to take a shoot of 1,000 acres, it might be over the land of four or five persons. One would pay not only for the covers thereon but for the fields, where a bird would never be shot, as much as 7/6d. an acre and one would have the right to propagate game therein and come and shoot there and preserve.

It is now being discovered at the same time in Ireland that those game rights are of value. Everywhere you have shoots being taken by people who want to have their sport and amusement in this form and who want to propagate game therein. If that is [110] so, is it not necessary that on this council there should be a representative who will see to it that, in a general way, where we have not wakened up just yet in districts to the value of shooting, wild life will be preserved? It is not a very hard thing to put small heaps of unpoisoned seed along the hedgerows and ditches where this highly toxic spray or seed dressing is used. It is not hard to insist that instead of using dual purpose dieldrin base seed dressing you should use BHC. When all the known opinion will tell you that BHC is just as good a base as dieldrin, I think there is room for Senator O'Quigley's amendment and that it should seriously be considered.

It is rather funny that the firm that manufactures the greatest quantity in the world of these toxic poisons is also the firm that has done most for the preservation of wild life. It is probably because they also——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  Are these matters that appropriately arise on these amendments?

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  I think so.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  I am afraid the Senator is going too far into the merits of certain preparations.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  I was not going to refer to a firm in an advertising way. I shall pass on from it, if you wish.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  I want to indicate to the Senator that he is going too far altogether into this matter and that it is not quite appropriate on this amendment.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  There is also the danger of poisoning fish in the cleaning out of sprayers and containers in which toxic weed sprays and seed dressings have been mixed or carried. There have been instances where wild life, to wit, fish, have been destroyed in large numbers, because people, having used a sprayer, with this highly toxic seed dressing in it, washed out the sprayer in the local river before putting it aside or using it for another purpose. Therefore, [111] the regulation is required to govern that particular use and that regulation would probably be introduced by a person on the Council who would have an interest in wild life. There is at the moment far too great a disregard for the side effects of using these preparations and I believe the amendment would be of great value in changing this situation.

Professor Stanford: Information on William Bedell Stanford  Zoom on William Bedell Stanford  I should like to add my support to this amendment. It seems to me that there are four clear reasons why a member of this kind is desirable on the Council which is being set up. The first is, as has already been pointed out, that we have a valuable natural asset in our game and fish. Are we going to risk losing some of that asset by carelessness in the use of these poisons? Again, sportsmen and fishermen and people throughout the country primarily interested in sport will be liable to suffer considerably if the wrong kinds of poisons are used on the land. Further we must remember the risk of upsetting the balance of nature by the drastic use of these chemicals. I imagine the farmer mentioned by Senator Donegan who massacred the local rookery may eventually have cause to regret it. He has upset the balance of nature. The rookery was probably there for at least 100 years. He does not know what the chain reaction to his action may be. He does not know the consequences of his drastic step.

The fourth reason is that we have a moral duty to dumb animals and, as a matter simply of the prevention of cruelty, this step is desirable. Saint Francis called the birds and animals our brothers and sisters and we know that he was right. If we put poisons on the fields and into the streams and kill these animals, I am quite certain we are morally doing wrong. I should very much like to see as a member of this Council a person who is either associated with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or who is interested in the preservation of game. Otherwise, the Council may [112] make wrong decisions on many occasions.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I think I had better try to bring the House back on to the track again by reminding Senators of what I said on the Second Reading of this Bill. The purpose of this Bill is to protect human life against the misuse of toxic substances. While I would regret as greatly as any Senator that wild life should ruthlessly or needlessly be destroyed, I am concerned to ensure that the use of any substance that may be used either in industry or agriculture—the misuse of which, let me repeat, would be dangerous to human beings—will be subject to control and regulations.

If a farmer finds it useful and profitable to himself and the community to employ a spray and if the spray is effective in protecting his crops against the various diseases to which we are subject, are we to prevent the farmer from using that spray because it might—and it only might—be detrimental to game birds or wild animals? Is that not the issue that Senator O'Quigley and those Senators who have supported him have failed to look at?

Is the proposed amendment not misdirected? Let me repeat that the purpose of this Bill is to ensure that the Minister will have advisers who will say that, in certain circumstances, certain substances may be used without endangering human beings. That is all I am concerned with and all, as Minister for Health, I am entitled to be concerned about. If Senators wish, they may promote a Bill to set up a council which will consider the use of poisonous substances in agriculture and regulate their use in such a way as not to endanger wild life. But let the cobbler stick to his last and what we are concerned about in this Bill, let me repeat, is to safeguard the ordinary common human being who has to use or who in some way or other comes in contact with these highly toxic substances now being produced in such great measure and that they will not become utilised in such a way, as I have said, to become a source of danger either to himself as a user or to his neighbour. That is [113] all we are concerned about in this Bill.

Senator O'Quigley, in introducing his amendment, referred to the Council as representing certain interests. No appointments are being made to this Council as representing special, in the sense of sectional, interests. What is proposed is to bring together persons who have special value as counsellors and advisers by virtue of the particular avocations which they follow and who will be able, in discussion amongst themselves, to determine whether a particular substance can be safely used by human beings. I was indeed surprised when Senator Donegan supported this amendment because the Senator has an amendment down to a later section of the Bill, the effect of which would be to allow a veterinary medicine, no matter how dangerous, to be used without any control or regulation. One of the bye-products—let me put it that way—of the use of certain of these medicines would be to leave around on the surface of the ground certain products which would be highly toxic.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  Baloney.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The Senator is quite entitled to interrupt me in that very elegant way but it is quite true there are certain preparations used in veterinary medicine, which, if not used with care and discretion, will produce toxic effects, as, for instance, a certain veterinary medicine used in the case of certain cattle diseases will produce toxic effects in the individuals who afterwards consume the milk of these animals. Therefore, it is not, as the Senator so elegantly remarked, baloney.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  It is baloney.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  As I said, I think we had better try to get the Seanad back on the rails again. This Bill is designed to protect human beings and to ensure so far as we can by regulation that these new drugs which are being produced in such great quantities and in such variety can safely be used by human beings. That is the purpose of the Bill and I do not think the Seanad should be allowed to meander off on [114] the trail upon which Senator O'Quigley has tried to start it.

Professor Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  There was a very well known Celtic scholar who wrote a book on “Early Irish History and Mythology” and who made great fun at the end of one chapter of the scholars who believed in departmental deities like the god of love and the god of war and said that in the old days that was not so. The Minister appears to take the same strictly departmental view. Surely all that he is being asked to do in the amendment, of which I have no special knowledge, is that in a Council of 15 people, one person shall be included who has a knowledge of wild life. Is there anything wrong, when we want to protect human beings, in taking a mild step like that, asking the Minister for Lands to put one person on to a Council of 15, who have only power to advise, who has a knowledge of wild life? Is it sufficient to say scornfully that the Seanad is off the track and that this Bill and the Minister are concerned only with human life?

There is no such thing as departmentalising human lives from other lives. Unfortunately or fortunately, the animals and ourselves all live together and the argument for doing this is surely overwhelming. If the only objection is a departmental objection, then I really think the Minister should not take up that attitude. Does the Minister not think that when people show some concern in a Bill like this which concerns the use of poisons, for wild life, which on various grounds, as has been said, is valuable to us we should take a simple step like this? I wonder if the Minister had made a point of order, would it have been ruled that wild life was out of order? I doubt it.

Professor Stanford: Information on William Bedell Stanford  Zoom on William Bedell Stanford  It refers specifically to bees and they are wild life.

Professor Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Yes, and one of the favourite themes of the Minister, when he waxes eloquent, is to refer to collective responsibility. Surely the Minister has collective responsibility for everything the Government do and surely a mere debating point, a mere [115] point of departmentalisation, should not be used to avoid discussion of the merits of something which is important and which has merits. If that is the only objection, it seems to me to be an entirely invalid objection.

The three Senators who spoke showed considerable knowledge of this matter and my friend, Senator Donegan, seems to know a great deal about chemicals, more than I do. All that Senator O'Quigley asked in the beginning was that under paragraph (g) of Section 4, where there are three people mentioned, it might be inserted that one of them should be a person deemed by the Minister for Lands to have special knowledge and experience of wild life. I do not see what harm it would do to put that in. Certainly from the point of view of the tidiness and effectiveness of our legislation, it would not do any harm.

I suggest to the Minister that he is taking a very narrow view of something which is quite useful and the kind of thing this House might reasonably do. Wild life is important from several aspects and one aspect that has been stressed is its importance from the point of view of income for the State, but there are other aspects. I suggest that what the Minister has been asked to do has nothing to do with politics or with government. It is quite a simple thing. He might do it and it would not do him a bit of harm and the responsibility would be on the Minister for Lands. If we can ensure that when chemicals are being used for agricultural purposes, they do not do harm to wild life, we shall be doing a good thing.

What Senator O'Quigley is asking for is not power to prevent people from doing things but merely to ensure that in a Council of 15 people, there will be one voice, a person with a certain type of knowledge, who will say when discussing certain things that certain substances would do great harm to game. That is not an unreasonable request; it is not an unworkable request. It would not do a bit of harm to the Bill. I suggest, with some knowledge of relevancy, that it could not be regarded as irrelevant or improper in a Bill of this kind.

[116]Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  I am sorry to say I cannot compliment Senator Hayes on his lecture with regard to the conduct of the debate on this Bill. First of all, he is wrong when he says there are 15 on the Comhairle. There are 17.

Professor Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  That is better. I thank the Senator for that.

Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  The Senator will also thank me for another correction later. The amendment proposed by Senator O'Quigley is to add another name, making it 18. He did not speak on those lines but suggested there should be one of the three with this special qualificaion. Therefore, he spoke entirely out of order on the amendment which he moved. That is my reading of it.

I also want to repeat that I think I was the only one in this House who pointed out the last day what the objects of the Bill were and I was contradicted afterwards.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  Surely the Minister did?

Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  The Minister in his speech repeated now that the poisoning of wild life is outside the scope of the Bill as it is before us. I am glad that Senator Donegan mentioned fish. The most dangerous weapon used in the catching of fish is explosives. I do not suppose explosives would be classified as poisons but I would have no mercy for people who use explosives to kill fish in rivers. However, I suppose that does not come within the scope of the Bill. The greatest cruelty to animals was unfortunately practised by the community to which I belong, namely, the farmers, in the eradication of the rabbit life of this country. Myxomatosis was the cause of the most excruciating death to rabbits. Rabbits are creatures which do the greatest damage to farmers' crops. I may, perhaps, be out of order.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  The Senator clearly is.

Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  The lecture given by Senator Hayes telling us what to do was entirely out of order also.

[117]Mr. Crowe: Information on Patrick Crowe  Zoom on Patrick Crowe  I have some practical experience of the dressing of seed. Some two years ago, there happened to be a person who possessed 30 tame pigeons. There was a neighbour of mine who dressed seed with Killcrow. That would be many miles from my place. The pigeons were killed as a result of consuming the poison. The point I want to make is that we must be very wary as regards poison.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  As customary, Senator Ó Donnabháin is extremely helpful in matters of order and procedure. I thought Senator Hayes did a good deal to quieten down the atmosphere which had been quite unnecessarily heated by the quarrelsome reply of the Minister on what I consider was a non-contentious matter which should be of great interest to all members of this House. I will not be quarrelsome in replying and dealing with any of the matters raised by the Minister.

I think it rather strange that the Minister said that the only purpose of this Bill was to deal with poisons dangerous to human life. The Long Title of the Bill is:

An Act to provide for the establishment of a Council to be called and known as Comhairle na Nimheanna and to define its functions, to provide for the regulation and control of the distribution, transport, storage and sale of poisons and of the manufacture of pharmaceutical preparations containing poisons and of the use of poisons for agricultural and veterinary purposes ...

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  The Long Title may be helpful but it does not determine the scope of the Bill.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  I want to point out that that was the impression I gathered from the Long Title of the Bill. I am sure we are entitled to refer to the Long Title. Section 15 brings in the Minister for Agriculture. The Minister for Agriculture is to be entitled to make regulations conformable with what is contained in the Long Title of the Bill prohibiting:

the application or administration of [118] poisons or particular poisons for agricultural or veterinary purposes or particular agricultural or veterinary purposes otherwise than by methods or processes specified in the regulations....

It would seem to me from that—and I trust the Minister will confirm that I am correct in my opinion—that the Bill is concerned with poisons for the protection of human life and is also concerned with the use and application of these poisons for veterinary and agricultural purposes. It is not correct to say that one is off the rails if one talks about the effect of poisons on wild life, animals, birds or insects.

I have no intention of becoming quarrelsome in regard to a matter upon which I think one may have different views but I do not see why they ought to be expressed in a quarrelsome way or, at any rate, in an unnecessarily quarrelsome way. I did think that when the Minister spoke about protection of human life, he might bear in mind the possibility that some of the toxic chemicals used in seed-dressing and for the purpose of spraying accumulate in the bodies of birds. It has been known—and so the report I read for the Minister earlier establishes-that foxes and other predatory animals which had eaten birds which had partaken of these toxic chemicals had been killed by the amount of poison in the birds they had eaten. It is not unknown that people eat partridge and pheasant. Therein—I put this seriously to the Minister for consideration—lies a possible danger to human life. The Minister does not want to yield upon this modest amendment, notwithstanding all the technical deficiencies that Senator Ó Donnabháin sees in it. I hope that the debate on the amendment——

Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  On a point of clarification, I should like to ask the Senator what does he want Does he want one or three or the amendment as he has put it down?

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  At least this debate will have this effect: It will alert the Minister's Department and the Council [119] to the possibility that human life—even one human life—may be destroyed by reason of the consumption of partridge, pheasant or other game which have partaken of some of these toxic chemicals. That is a danger which the Minister may not have considered up to the present time. To me, it seems to be a fairly probable source of danger, although it may be of rare occurrence. We ought to consider well the effect on human life of the use of these poisons in sprays and chemicals. Consequently, if you want to make this amendment relevant to the Minister's statement that the sole purpose of the Bill is the conservation and preservation of human life, there is undoubtedly a way to make it immediately and pertinently relevant.

In answer to Senator Ó Donnabháin, I do not mind whether the Council consists of 17 or 18 members. I merely said there are three hanging around at the end in paragraph (g), as I said earlier. I suggested that were the Minister to take out one of those three, that would involve another amendment, a procedure with which Senator Ó Donnabháin and other people are familiar.

Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  That is not in the Senator's amendment.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  If the Senator would kindly listen to me——

Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  The Senator is making it very hard.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  I know the Senator does not like hearing anything he has not heard before, and that is a lot of things.

Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  I have heard it all before.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  Paragraph (g) provides for three people. I think the intention is to have a council of 17— an odd number. I want to have one person taken out of those three and have a person with a special knowledge and experience of wild life appointed by the Minister for Lands. That would leave two in paragraph [120] (g). On Report Stage, that paragraph would have to be amended. That is a simple, well-known and regular procedure in this Parliament, and one with which I should have imagined Senator Ó Donnabháin would be quite familiar.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter  Zoom on Frank Carter  The Minister could hardly yield to Senator O'Quigley's amendment. As the Minister rightly said his Department is not a society for the protection of wild life. The Council is provided for in Section 2 of the Bill, and Section 4 provides for its composition. How do we know that each and every one of the 17 members who may make up the Council will not have knowledge and experience of wild life? At any rate, with all the eloquence we have heard in introducing the amendment——

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  Thank you.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter  Zoom on Frank Carter  ——we have not heard a definition of an expert on wild life. I could set myself up as an expert on wild life and so could the Senator.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  No I would not claim that.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter  Zoom on Frank Carter  Why did the Senator not give an objective and descriptive definition of his idea of an expert on wild life? This Bill, as the Minister rightly says, deals with the protection of human life. It deals with a range of poisons in two categories. I think that is where Senator Donegan possibly got mixed up and missed the point. The categories can be divided into poisons for agricultural use and poisons for veterinary use. Therefore, there is no obligation whatever on the Minister, in common sense, to accept an amendment of this sort. As the Minister rightly pointed out, if Senators are so interested in wild life, they could set up a society for the protection of wild life and sponsor a Private Members' Bill. That is the obvious way to do it——

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  Like the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, which has been on the Order Paper for over a year.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter  Zoom on Frank Carter  ——and not to insert a completely superfluous amendment [121] into a Bill that does not deal with the subject mentioned in the amendment, right, left or centre.

Mr. O'Reilly: Information on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  Zoom on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  If we were less argumentative and more practical in our approach, we might see one another's point of view more clearly. The object of the Bill is to protect, as my colleague said, the human subject. That is the only object of the Bill. It is proposed to set up a Council of 17 members. I cannot imagine that such a group of men could be appointed without at least one of them—and, I suggest, more than one—being reasonably expert on matters in regard to wild life and the habits of birds, insects and fishes. If experts have a balanced education— and there are times when I think they do not get a balanced education—I cannot imagine a group of 17 men who would not have some knowledge of and some interest in the habits of wild animals, birds, fish and insects. Even university lecturers and professors are sometimes interested in the habits of such wild life.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  Why pick on them?

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  They sometimes see some peculiar birds in this House —blackbirds.

Mr. O'Reilly: Information on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  Zoom on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  If we want to be practical, we must agree that there are risks in the use of all these proprietary articles. I am prepared to agree there is some need for better control and protection, but that is a very complicated matter and it cannot be done by putting down an amendment and succeeding in adding one person, who is supposed to be qualified, to the membership of a body of this sort. Perhaps it can be strongly argued that there is a need for the competent authority, the Department of Agriculture, to take some steps in regard to the sale, distribution and use of these substances, having regard to their toxic effect on animals, birds, insects and fish. No matter what regulations are made, unless there is cooperation on the part of the people, the regulations are not much use.

This is a very big question and cannot [122] be solved by an amendment along these lines. If there is a need, and I am inclined to think there may be, for the taking of some steps, the Department of Agriculture could make a comprehensive survey of the whole problem. It is a big problem. If there is a non-toxic or a reasonably toxic substance which would do the job properly with regard to agriculture, then a highly toxic substance should not be employed or sold. Most of these preparations are sold under trade names and the farmer, in his desire for them, will probably claim that he has the right to buy them and that he should not be restricted in that right.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  The Senator is now going over ground that has amply been covered before.

Mr. O'Reilly: Information on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  Zoom on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  I agree that I may be inclined to traverse some of the winding roads my colleagues have traversed. I regret to annoy you with that.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  Let us deal with wild life.

Mr. O'Reilly: Information on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  Zoom on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  Suppose the Minister had put into the Bill those restrictions on the farmer to use this and that——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  We are now concerned with the appointment of an additional member to the Council.

Mr. O'Reilly: Information on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  Zoom on Patrick Firmullagh OReilly  Yes, and that one person was to be appointed, I believe, as an expert in advising him as to how the farmer should be restricted. I am quite certain that the person who would object most loudly would be Senator Donegan. The tone of some of the speeches on the Second Reading was quite the opposite of the tone adopted now. The note on the Second Reading was that the farmer was to be restricted, unduly restricted. The case was made that the farmer should be quite free, in fact, exempt altogether, in regard to the use of substances. Now it appears there is a complete change around. It does not appear they were very practical in this. To me, it does not appear to be a consistent [123] line of approach. I take the view that, if there is need, a proper survey could be made by the Department of Agriculture because it cannot be solved by an amendment to put one person with any particular specialised knowledge on to this Council.

Professor Stanford: Information on William Bedell Stanford  Zoom on William Bedell Stanford  I would appeal to the Minister to reconsider his arguments against this amendment. He takes a strictly departmental view. That view has been supported by Senators beside him. But, even accepting that point of view, is he wise in his interpretation for his strict departmental view? I suggest that as Minister for Health, he is responsible for the total health of this country, the whole picture of Irish health.

It has been made very clear by earlier speakers that the poisoning of birds or fish may affect the health of human beings. I feel it is the responsibility of the Minister departmentally in that way. Consequently, I suggest that even his assumption that this is a departmental Bill is not a reasonable assumption. This is a Government Bill; the Government are behind this Bill. The Government are responsible for this Bill and the Minister is acting as a Minister of the Government in that respect. Undoubtedly, it has Government sanction. Presumably, it has been considered as a matter of general policy. In that way, I do not think it is fair to say that this amendment more properly concerns agriculture, local government or something of that kind. Why should Bills be strictly departmental in this way, if they have Government approval?

I hope that at Cabinet meetings every Minister is entitled to comment on another Minister's Bill, if it affects the general wellbeing of the country. I suggest this does so. Though the Minister may say, taking a strictly departmental view, that we are not entitled to make this change in the Bill, why should this House as a Seanad take a departmental view on the matter? We are here to improve legislation for the country as a whole as well as we can. We consider it is better to base this Bill more broadly [124] for the health of the country. I suggest the Minister for Health should be a general practitioner in Government and not a specialist in one particular line of this kind.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  I do not think we should pursue that line.

Professor Stanford: Information on William Bedell Stanford  Zoom on William Bedell Stanford  This House is not bound by any departmental protocol or prejudice or limitation. This House is here to improve Bills no matter what Minister is sponsoring them. I still hold that this is a desirable amendment.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  I would say that, notwithstanding the Minister's statement, the kernel of the reply was that the purpose of this Bill is to protect human life. His reply has entirely been exploded by Senator O'Quigley when he drew attention to Section 15 which draws in the Minister for Agriculture. So, in fact, one must imagine what happened in the production of this Bill. Presumably, if normal Cabinet procedure were followed, the draft of this Bill was circulated to every Department of State and every Department of State made its comments and had its right to make suggestions. Inevitably, it is obvious that the Minister for Health made suggestions and, as a result, we have Section 15. The Minister for Lands has been speaking on the propagation of game and on encouraging game. He has been spending money over the past two years to encourage game. It has every relevance, I respectfully submit.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  I submit it is not relevant. This Bill has nothing to do with the protection of game as such.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  I accept your ruling entirely, Sir. My view is that it is relevant to discuss what happens when a Bill is circulated to members of the Cabinet and in this case, the Minister for Lands. Did the Minister for Lands make any recommendations that he himself should be brought into this Bill, as the Minister for Agriculture has been brought in?

When one deals with the question of collective responsibility as mentioned [125] by Senator Hayes, I should like to give an example of collective responsibility and how it can enter if this amendment is disregarded. Suppose a group of people take a shoot and spend a considerable sum of money on it. If a farmer next door can get exactly the same result by using B.H.C. base spray rather than a Dieldrin base but uses a Dieldrin base and, as a result, many birds are destroyed, should there not be somebody to look after that aspect?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  I should point out now that there is a great deal of repetition taking place on this amendment.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  With respect, it is a highly important amendment.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  The Chair fully realises the importance of the amendment.

Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: Information on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  Zoom on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  I support this amendment. It seems to me to be the sort of amendment we might legitimately add. Really, the amendment will affect the constitution of the Council. The Council's function as laid down in Section 3 and as amplified in Sections 14 and 15 is to advise the Minister in relation to all kinds of regulations about the sale, distribution and even the prohibition of the use of certain toxic substances. It would appear to me to be valuable to have on the Council a member with specific knowledge of the effects of the use of certain toxic substances upon wild life. I should like to ask the Minister—and possibly his secretary might note the question so that we might hear the answer—does he feel that it would be out of order for him to ask the advice of this Council as to the effect they think the use of certain toxic substances would have upon the balance of wild life? I should like to know if he would consider it would be ultra vires to ask for that type of advice.

I should like to develop a point that has been made. It is quite proper to suppose that a toxic spray or seed dressing might truthfully be said to [126] kill one pest quite effectively, but, in so doing, it might kill the natural enemies of that or another pest. That is what Senator Stanford was referring to when he spoke about upsetting the balance of nature. It seems to me that that is the sort of advice the Minister might legitimately seek from this Council. It seems to me that we might be concerned to see that that special knowledge of what constitutes in wild life the natural enemy of certain pests might be extremely useful and therefore it seems to me the amendment is one the Minister should consider accepting.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  We are now somewhat like Macbeth when he sat down to give his banquet to Duncan and we must proceed without the gracious presence of the Minister for Health. We must speak to the empty chair.

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  The Senator realises why the Minister is not here?

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  Yes.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Liam O Buachalla  Zoom on Liam O Buachalla  It is accepted as the usual procedure.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  The Minister gets up and becomes very querulous about a straightforward amendment and then we have Senator Carter asking for a definition of wild life. I always thought wild life was a well-known term, embracing birds, game and fish. It is obvious that the Senator does not read the Evening Press which has an admirable feature called, I believe, “Wild Wisdom,” which is excellently written and deals with wild life. If the Senator wants to know what I meant by wild life, I can do not better than to recommend him to spend a few weeks reading “Wild Wisdom” in the Evening Press.

It is perfectly obvious that there is a greater deal of support for this amendment. Even Senator O'Reilly, who took a very reasonable view, admits that it is a big question. I recognise, and the sportsmen of this country recognise, that this is not a matter which can be solved overnight, nor is it easy to find out the exact substances which give [127] rise to the destruction of wild life. It is a very costly thing. To use an oftquoted phrase, I think we ought “to take a step in the right direction” and it would be a step in the right direction to put on the Council somebody with special knowledge and experience of wild life. I do not think there is anything extraordinary in asking that that be done. I think it would inure to the benefit of wild life and, if the Minister for Health has any doubts about its relevance in the Bill, to human life also.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Whenever Senator Hayes talks with an air of sweet reasonableness and with that plausibility of which he is a master, we may be certain that he is going to advance a completely disorderly proposition. Now, the first law of the universe is order. We cannot permit an Act which has a very serious purpose to become a sort of rubbish cart for any miscellaneous proposals that may be advanced during the course of its progress to becoming a statute. That is why I say, in the first instance, that this amendment is not proper to the Bill. It is not, as Senator O'Quigley pointed out quite rightly, excluded by the terms of the Long Title but still it is not in character and it is not consistent with the purpose of the Bill. It is not going to be very effective. If this proposal is put forward seriously as a proposal which is going in some way to protect wild life against the unwarranted use of substances by the farmer, it will be completely ineffective.

Just consider what is to be referred to the Council under Section 15 by the Minister for Agriculture. He will refer sprays and other mixtures which are used by the farmer in the course of his agricultural pursuits and some of these sprays as used by the farmer must have merit and virtue in them from the point of view of protecting the farmer's crops. In the course of discussion on a proposal coming from the Minister for Agriculture to the Council, somebody gets up and says: “That may be very effective as a safeguard against certain virus diseases and other things which will attack the farmer's crops, but it is going to be very dangerous [128] to crows”—and they are wild life, too —and accordingly, I being a person with special knowledge and experience of wild life, think that regulation should not be accepted by the Council and that the Council should recommend the Minister for Agriculture not to make it.”

What would happen in those circumstances? What if Senator Donegan, who is anxious to preserve the crows as against the crops, were a member of Comhairle na Nimheanna? What would he do if he happened to be a member of the Council nominated by the Minister for Lands? Would he say: “I am on the side of the crows and against the farmer?”

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  I instanced an example of what would happen.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  That is precisely the basis upon which this proposal has been put forward. If there had been a rather better approach by Senator O'Quigley when proposing the amendment, it could have been considered but certainly not in the context in which he advocated it. If he had said: “Well, if the Minister for Lands is prepared to nominate a person having this special knowledge and experience of wild life, it will not do much good but it will not do much harm,” one might have said: “I will concede a great deal to the sentimentalism of the Senator,” and I might be prepared to consult with the Minister for Lands on a matter of this sort, but then I am up against this very practical difficulty: there are 17 members already on this Council and some people might think that it is a little too unwieldy for its purpose. It may lead to prolonged discussions and waste of time in that, perhaps, a personal attitude, a personal interest and a personal point of view may be very strongly held, when an important matter is under consideration. If I make it 18 because I am pressed to do so by certain members of the Seanad, am I not immediately making it much easier for some other person to say: “Make it 19 because we have a special interest which we think ought to be represented on this Council also”.

[129]Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  That is why the Minister will not do it.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  That is one of the very strong arguments against the amendment, from a practical point of view. I am glad that Senator Donegan sees the force of that argument.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  No.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  If one concedes this, somebody else will come along and say: “I represent the licensed druggists” or “I represent those people who act as representatives for drug firms and pharmaceutical houses”. We should be practical. Ultimately, I should have to enlarge the size of this Comhairle until it would become a legislative assembly. It is not out of a spirit of complete unreasonableness that I say that. I have a great regard for the Senator's capacity, even if I do not agree with his point of view, but when he put the case before the Seanad in the way he did, I had to guide the Seanad back on the rails and, in doing so, I hope this amendment will not be pressed.

Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: Information on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  Zoom on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  In the absence of the Minister on other business, [130] I ventured to put a question to him which I am afraid he has not adverted to. I think it is relevant. Could he say whether he could consider it ultra vires to ask the advice of this Council on such a question as whether a toxic substance which was known to wipe out one pest might also wipe out its natural enemy or the natural enemy of other pests? Would he say, having regard to what he says about relevancy, whether it would be ultra vires even to consult the Council on that point? It seems to me to be of community interest and not of sectional interest.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The actual position at the moment is very similar to what the Senator has suggested. The Minister for Lands will be consulted both by the Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Health in the course of drafting regulations which he will submit to the Council, so that in so far as the Minister for Lands has a special function in relation to wild life, his views will be ascertained and given great weight in the formulation of any regulations which may be submitted to the Council for advice.

Amendment put.

Barry, Anthony.
Carton, Victor.
Cole, John C.
Connor, Patrick.
Crowe, Patrick.
Davidson, Mary F.
Donegan, Patrick.
Hayes, Michael.
L'Estrange, Gerald.
McGuire, Edward A.
O'Donovan, John.
O'Keeffe, James J.
O'Quigley, John B.
O'Sullivan, John L.
Prendergast, Micheál A.
Sheehy Skeffington, Owen L.
Sheridan, Joseph M.
Stanford, William B.
Tunney, James.

Ahern, Liam.
Brady, Seán.
Brennan, John J.
Carter, Frank.
Colley, Harry.
Connolly O'Brien, Nora.
Dillon, Gerard B.
Farnan, Robert P.
Fitzsimons, Patrick.
Hayes, Seán.
Lenihan, Brian.
O Ciosáin, Eamon.
O Donnabháin, Seán.
O Grádaigh, Seán.
O Maoláin, Tomás.
O'Reilly, Patrick.
O Siochfhradha, Pádraig.
Ruane, Thomas.
Ryan, Eoin.
Walsh, Laurence J.
Walsh, Louis.

Amendment declared lost.

[131] Question proposed: “That Section 4 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  The Minister provides under subsection (5) that the Minister shall appoint a person to act as secretary to the Council. I was wondering whether the intention was that the secretary would be whole time or part time, and, in either event, who would determine his conditions of service? I have a recollection that under the Prices Act, 1958, there were advisory committees and it was provided that the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, may appoint such officers and servants as he thinks necessary to assist the advisory committees. That being so, those appointed hold office on such terms and receive such remuneration as the Minister for Finance determines. That seems to be the standard practice, as we hear so often said, the common form, in this kind of thing. I am wondering whether any special remuneration or allowance, which I would support, will be payable to any officer of the Minister who may be appointed, or whether the person will be altogether outside the Minister's Department. If he is to be outside the Department, it does not seem to me that there is power in this section to enable the Minister to fix his terms of remuneration. Another question arises as to how the person to be appointed will be recruited. Will he be subject to the Civil Service Commissioners and to Civil Service regulations?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The person to be appointed as secretary will, as is customary, be an officer of the Department to which the Council will act as an adviser. He will be an officer of the Department of Health.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  I take it that if an officer or servant of the Minister is appointed as secretary of the Council, he will not lose any of his conditions of service—his service will not be interrupted, but will be deemed to be service in the Civil Service of the State.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  It will be a very much sought after appointment.

[132]Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  Very often, people seek after those things which are not good for them at a later stage.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Do not ask me to become the protector of the Civil Service, as well as the protector of wild life.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  In other Bills we have had, it was always provided that these people would be subject to the Civil Service Commissioners Act or the Civil Service Regulations Act. That immediately makes them entitled to Civil Service superannuation, because nobody is entitled to superannuation under the Superannuation Act, unless he has a certificate from the Civil Service Commissioners. I am concerned as to whether the person to be appointed secretary of this Council will be regarded as having interrupted his service.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  He will remain an officer of the Department.

Question put and agreed to.

Sections 5 to 7, inclusive, agreed to.

Question proposed: “That Section 8 stand part of the Bill.”

Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  I have a little marginal note. Is it necessary to indicate where the Comhairle will meet?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  No. The Minister fixes the place of the first meeting.

Professor Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Somebody must fix it.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The Minister fixes the date, time and place of the first meeting and you may be certain that he will provide accommodation for the Council.

Question put and agreed to.

Section 9 agreed to.

Question proposed: “That Section 10 stand part of the Bill.”

Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  This section says that a member of the Council [133] who ceases for any reason to hold office shall be eligible for reappointment. I wonder would that be contradictory of Section 9, which says that the Minister may at any time remove a member from the Council? Surely if the Minister removes a member from the Council, he would be unsatisfactory and would not then be eligible for reappointment.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I do not think there is any contradiction. The point is that the Minister must be free to select his own advisers. That does not mean that if he determines that a particular person is not competent to advise him, it will be binding upon his successor. Even if the Minister were to remove a person from membership of the Council under Section 9, for any reason, that should not debar the Minister's successor from re-appointing that person, if he sees fit to do so.

Question put and agreed to.

Sections 11 to 13, inclusive, agreed to.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  I move amendment No. 2:

In subsection (2), to add a new paragraph as follows:—

“( ) making it an offence for any person to distribute, supply or sell or give gratuitously for use, poison in any container which has been previously, or is normally, used for keeping non-poisonous substances.”

This amendment will not have any far-reaching consequences or will not, I hope, greatly upset the general provisions of the Bill. I am rather inclined to adopt that line in relation to this amendment, because, in his concluding speech on the first amendment in my name, the Minister said that if I had adopted the attitude that it would not do a great deal of harm, I might have got further with my amendment. I am therefore, rather tempted to adopt a wishy-washy, milk and water, lukewarm attitude.

[134] I think it is relevant to point out that the recent introduction of the Road Traffic Bill has been welcomed by all sides in Parliament, and outside by many members of the public, as an effort chiefly to preserve human life and to avoid, so far as possible, as a result of road traffic law and regulation, injury and damage to human beings. Recently, we passed a Bill relating to oil burners because it was found out that deaths, unfortunate and avoidable, had resulted from failure to take care in the use and manufacture of oil burners.

I am concerned in this amendment to give power to the Minister to make it an offence for any person to distribute, supply or sell or give gratuitously for use—that is, one person lending to another—poison in any container normally used for non-poisonous substances. I have in mind particularly the type of thing that happens in relation to various kinds of poisons, such as the use of whiskey bottles, gin bottles or things like that that are normally used for non-poisonous substances. Perhaps whiskey is not a good example to take.

Professor Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Is that a wishywashy example?

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  If a bottle of whiskey or a large quantity of whiskey were consumed at one standing, it would not result in immediate death, although it contains poison. It would have drastic consequences, of course. They may be regarded by some people as amusing or having a lighthearted effect, but it is not. Everyone who reads the papers will have read time and again of unfortunate people who have drunk poison out of containers which were normally used for non-poisonous substances. The risk is greater than one might imagine. Not everyone has the same capacity for seeing, and it might well happen that a person with bad sight might be confused in darkened places, such as cupboards or presses which very often are not well lighted, and in which poisons are kept. There might be one bottle which everyone in the household knows contains a poisonous substance, but a person might take [135] it accidentally. That has happened. There are no two ways about it. A person might take a poisonous substance accidentally and die as a result.

As Senator O'Reilly said this evening, you cannot do everything by regulation. If we were to stop at that, we would make no regulations and there would be no Poisons Bill or anything else, but we can try to minimise avoidable deaths so far as possible. I suggest the Minister should have power to make it an offence to distribute these poisonous substances in a bottle of the kind I have in mind, as suggested in the amendment. This is an amendment which the Minister should consider seriously. I do not think, if we read the provisions of the Bill carefully, that there is adequate power elsewhere, in Section 14 or in any section which would make it an offence to use containers which are ordinarily used for non-poisonous substances for the purpose of supplying or handing gratuitously to one's neighbour, poisonous substances. I accordingly recommend the amendment to the House.

Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  I should like to congratulate Senator O'Quigley on putting down this amendment and it certainly comes, to my mind, within the sphere of discussion on this section of the Bill. I should also like to tell him that I appreciate the manner in which he has introduced the amendment. Senator O'Quigley should not always take it that, if he is reasonably correct, no one else will agree with him. It has happened before, and we have agreed with him on occasion.

If the Minister cannot convince us that the subject matter of this amendment is covered, or can be covered by a clause in the section, I certainly support Senator O'Quigley. This section deals with the prohibiting, limiting, regulation and manufacture of poisons generally, and if the subject matter of the amendment is not intended to be covered by the regulations in the Bill, I should like the Minister to consider the amendment, because I think it is a serious matter. There is no [136] doubt that it is relevant to the use and distribution of medicines for human beings and veterinary medicines. By mistake, people have taken liquids from lemonade bottles or whiskey bottles—I think the smaller bottle is the more likely—and illnesses and poisonings have occurred. To be as brief as possible, I recommend the subject matter of the amendment for the Minister's consideration.

Professor Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Might I ask the Minister to be sweetly reasonable, in his own words, and not disturb this unwonted harmony. I do not believe the Minister is capable of that, might I say?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I shall try to overcome my natural infirmities because I should like to elicit from Senator O'Quigley what exactly he has in mind in proposing this amendment. When I read it first, I thought the emphasis might be on the phrase “give gratuitously”, but I am advised that is covered by the word “distribute”. The word “supply” appears to introduce a new concept in so far as it would ensure that any person giving a poisonous substance as a gift—one from the Greeks, perhaps—would be certain to present it in a bottle, a case or a casket, which would conform with the ordinary regulations governing the shape of containers for poisonous substances.

The Senator did not elaborate on that point. Instead, he referred to the case of an old woman moving in the dark who might take down a bottle which contained a poisonous substance, not being able to distinguish in the dark between it and the bottle which she really intended to use. That raised the question of storage and that is provided for in subsection (2) (b) where the Minister may make regulations with respect to the storage, transport, distribution, supply and sale of poisons.

I can make all the regulations one can conceive in order to ensure that poisonous substances shall be contained only in bottles or receptacles of a definite and distinctive shape. No person could ensure that these substances [137] will always be allowed to remain in the particular specified receptacles or containers and that they will not be decanted into some other vessel which might normally be used for keeping non-poisonous substances. Even if I felt it necessary to take additional powers under this section, I doubt if I could make a regulation which would be an invariable safeguard against the risk which Senator O'Quigley would wish us to ensure against.

I do not think it is necessary, so far as the distribution, supply or storage of any particular container is concerned, to incorporate a new subsection in the section because paragraph (a) of subsection (3) is prefaced by the saver that, without prejudice to the generality of subsection (2) of the section, regulations may be made under the section to regulate the distribution, storage, sale and manufacture of poisonous substances. I think, and I am advised, that the Senator's amendment is not necessary to enable a regulation to be made that a poisonous substance shall always be contained or kept in a package or container of definite and distinctive shape and colour. Unless the Senator bases his case for the amendment on transfer by gift rather than on transfer by sale, I do not think there is much purpose in the amendment.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  I think the Minister has fairly well taken up what I had in mind. Perhaps I did not express myself as clearly as I might. Someone goes into a retail shop to get some poisonous substance. He gets it in a container, say, a whiskey bottle. It is sold to him in that bottle and he brings it home. That is one of the things I think a regulation should be made to prohibit absolutely. In the past, that has been known to lead to certain death for some unfortunate people. The putting of poisonous substances into bottles ordinarily used for perfectly harmless things would constitute the real danger. The Minister points out that in subsection (2) (b) storage, distribution and sale might cover it. If he is so advised, I am quite happy about it.

[138] I want to get to the other part of the amendment—“or give gratuitously”. Suppose I happen to want some poisonous substance and I go down the road to my neighbour and he gives it to me in a bottle of the kind I am talking about, a whiskey bottle or something like that, and I bring it home. That is as great a source of danger, though not as frequently, as if the poisonous substance had been sold in that type of container. It may appear to interfere with the ordinary relations between neighbours, and so on. I do not hesitate to do that in the interests of human life.

As frequently happens, if a person goes into a retailer's shop and hands in the kind of bottle we want prohibited from use and asks for this or that poisonous substance, we want to ensure that the shopkeeper will say it is an offence to use that bottle for that purpose. In time, we will build up the knowledge that this is an unsafe and dangerous thing to do. I would hope that by an amendment of this kind we could have the belief that we would avoid the kind of loss of life which has occurred through that particular practice up to the present. I think the giving gratuitously of poisons in the kinds of containers I am talking about is not adequately dealt with in the Bill.

I have no hesitation in withdrawing this amendment for further consideration by the Minister, in the light of his explanation, if he would undertake to consider it and see if it is dealt with also in Section 14 and have an amendment for it on Report Stage.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I shall consider whether it is necessary to introduce an amendment to give power to make a regulation controlling transfer by gift.

Mr. Barry: Information on Anthony Barry  Zoom on Anthony Barry  The Minister should keep in mind that the real danger in this matter is the putting of poison into any kind of vessel, except a vessel that is clearly labelled. That is a real danger and has been the cause of one death, to my knowledge. I think it should be done by law and not by regulation. To put poison into a container of any kind that is not clearly [139] marked “Poison” should be an offence.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I shall look into it from that point of view.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  I move amendment No. 3:

In subsection (3) (e), line 56, before “pharmaceutical” to insert “registered veterinary practitioners.”

In the discussion in the other House the concentration was practically entirely on the constitution of the Council. I think that, even though we have been somewhat out of order here up to the present, the discussion has been more of an examination of the details of the Bill. My amendment seeks to insert the words “registered veterinary practitioners” after the words “registered medical practitioners.” I presume that veterinary surgeons and veterinary practitioners are not included in the interpretation of the words “registered medical practitioners” and therefore I want the Seanad and the Minister to consider the insertion of the words “registered veterinary practitioners”. If a registered veterinary practitioner is excluded from this clause without being licensed by the local authority, we are in a very awkward position. Surely the members of the veterinary profession have not to be licensed by the local authority or their premises supervised? To my mind, it is quite clear from the wording that they are excluded and therefore become liable to be licensed and registered by the local authority. The registered veterinary practitioner has equal rights with the registered medical practitioner and pharmaceutical chemists, dispensing chemists and druggists and the others specifically mentioned in paragraph (e).

I do not know why there has been such a concentration of criticism of members of the veterinary profession in the other House and in this House. As a member of the profession, I should like the Minister to consider this amendment. The veterinary profession, by virtue of its qualifications, [140] is entitled to a nomination for membership of this House and in all other walks of life, they are recognised as a learned profession, and therefore I cannot understand why they are not included in this section with equal rights as the other professions who are dealing with dangerous drugs and poisons.

Section 14 deals with the sale of poisons and drugs. There is nothing in section 15 dealing with sales and my reading is a veterinary surgeon, when a client comes to him and receives professional advice, cannot charge for any medicines, poisonous or otherwise, under this section. That would be a terrible wrong to inflict on any veterinary practitioner. The Minister is anxious to give an explanation and I hope he has a satisfactory explanation. In so far as the medical practitioner is concerned, when a patient calls to him, he advises the patient as to his illness and he is entitled to and does supply him with medicine and can charge for it. He can give a prescription to the patient and the chemist will supply the prescription, but as far as I can see, the veterinary surgeon is precluded from that right here.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  There is nothing in paragraph (e) of the subsection which is intended to discriminate against veterinary surgeons. The position is, if the Senator will look at the paragraph, that the authorities may provide for the licensing or registering of people engaged in selling or offering or keeping for sale poisons, and of premises in which these poisons are kept or sold. However, under the existing law, under the Pharmacy Act, 1875, there are four classes of persons who, by virtue of that Act, are entitled to sell and deal in poisons. Those are the people recited within the brackets; registered medical practitioners, pharmaceutical chemists, dispensing chemists and druggists and registered druggists. Those under the existing statute are entitled to keep and sell poisons.

No other person, no matter what his profession may be, is entitled to do that, unless he is licensed to do it, and that applies to a veterinary surgeon. Now it is not intended that [141] members of the veterinary profession should have to apply to the health authorities for a licence. They will be dealt with by regulation made under paragraph (b) of subsection (3). Under that paragraph, the Minister for Health, and in particular the Minister for Agriculture, have power to specify persons or classes of persons by whom poisons may be distributed, supplied or sold or offered or kept for sale and the general intention is that veterinary surgeons will be among the specified classes of persons who are entitled to do this.

Therefore, it was not necessary in dealing with paragraph (e), which is to protect and preserve an existing statute, to refer to them in any way. Indeed, if the Senator's amendment were to be accepted, it would be an added discrimination against the veterinary profession, because while general merchants might be licensed by health authorities to deal in and keep for sale certain toxic substances under this, the one profession outside the four which at the moment enjoy statutory rights which would be excluded would be the veterinary profession. So, as I say the amendment which Senator Ó Donnabháin proposes is not necessary and if it were to be accepted, it would be more detrimental than advantageous to the profession.

Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  I hope the Minister is absolutely correct in what he says. I read it that veterinary surgeons were definitely excluded and put in the same category as those who would sell——

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  That is the position under the existing law but they will be licensed by regulation made under paragraph (b). They will be licensed to prescribe and deal in and keep and sell veterinary medicines.

Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  Would it not be preferable and better if the veterinary surgeons were included in this section? I have not discussed this with anybody, other than members of the profession, and it was obvious to us that the fact of being excluded meant we were put in a category in which we would have to be registered or licensed by the local authority. If, however, the Minister guarantees that [142] that is not the case, the subject matter of my amendment is covered.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I have no hesitation whatever in giving the guarantee the Senator asks for.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  I move amendment No. 4:

In page 6, subsection (3) (h), line 11, before “by” to insert “and where an appeal to the Minister is not successful, an appeal to the High Court.”

Paragraph (e) which we have been discussing provides for the licensing and registering by health authorities of persons engaged in selling or offering or keeping for sale poisons, and so on. The position will be that a person may not sell, keep or store poisons, unless he is licensed or registered by a health authority. It is provided in subparagraph (h) that any person affected by the decision of a health authority which cancels or suspends a licence or registration may appeal to the Minister. I hope the Minister will pardon me if I refer to the Constitution. The Constitution is out of favour nowadays, I believe, with the Government.

Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  That remark is uncalled for.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  We will hear the Minister for Local Government talking about it next week on the Electoral Bill. They do not want the Constitution at all nowadays. It does not fit into their particular scheme or schemes.

Mr. Lahiffe: Information on Robert Lahiffe  Zoom on Robert Lahiffe  The Senator did not want it at one time.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  My political forebears always stood four square behind the Constitution, law and order. I trust the Minister will pardon my reference to the Constitution. I referred to it on the Greyhound Bill with which the Minister dealt in the Seanad. Once a man's livelihood depends upon registration, then if you withdraw his registration, you deprive him of his livelihood. The effect of the decision of the Supreme Court—of course, the official report of the decision has not [143] been published yet—on the Solicitors Act which required amendment of the Act by the Oireachtas was that, when it comes to striking a solicitor off the register and thereby depriving him of the opportunity of making his livelihood, it is a matter which falls to be done by the courts of justice alone. That is a judicial act and the rights of anybody in that regard may not be dealt with by inferior tribunals, the Minister or anybody else.

The shopkeeper's business depends on a substantial proportion of sales of seed dressings and sprays. It does not do for a health authority to withdraw his rights to earn his livelihood in that way. Unfortunately, I have not got the benefit of the official report of the decision in respect of the Solicitors Act case. The Minister no doubt has access to that. It seems to me to follow from that decision that if a person's licence or registration is withdrawn by a health authority, an appeal to the Minister will not meet the Constitutional requirements and that we must provide, as I am suggesting in this section, that where an appeal to the Minister is not successful, there shall be an appeal to the High Court.

I want to put this point of view to the Minister and the House. Appeals to the High Court and High Court proceedings are not trifling matters for anybody, but if a man feels he has been wrongly deprived of his licence or registration to carry on the business of selling, storing or distributing poisons, then I do not see any objection to his being given the right, which I believe he has at any rate, of appealing to the High Court on that matter from the decision of the Minister. It need not cost the Minister anything. The matter would depend upon the local authority but the fact that a local authority or the Minister will be aware that they are not the final court of decision in this matter will make them pause before interfering with the livelihood of a citizen. Accordingly, I recommend this amendment to the House.

Éamon Ó Ciosáin: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  I do not know whether we should take this amendment [144] seriously or not. A lot of time has been wasted on other amendments for which I see no necessity. The Senator mentioned a decision by the Supreme Court. There was such a decision but some of us have doubts as to whether all things were taken into consideration in arriving at that decision. In any event, it was not a unanimous decision by the Supreme Court; it was just a majority decision. Because of that, I do not know whether it has the sanctity the Senator would attach to it. I know very well that we must all accept a decision of the Supreme Court as final. There is no doubt about that and we are accepting it.

The Senator referred to the rights of traders and merchants in his discussion of this amendment. He tried to make the point that they should have the right of appeal to the High Court. The point is that these have not got a licence as matters stand. It is only in connection with the application for a licence to deal in the distribution of poisonous matters that it arises. They have no existing rights. If there is any reason for not granting a licence, surely it is quite sufficient that an appeal could be made to the Minister who would thus be given an opportunity of looking into the pros and cons of the case from the point of view of the number of people licensed in the particular area and whether it would be right at all to grant a licence. I do not think the amendment is at all necessary.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  One, indeed, wonders, when the Minister's supporters rise to speak, whether they have read what is in the Bill. I understood Senator Ó Ciosáin to say that the Minister would enter into it only when it came to an application for a licence. Am I right in that? I think that is what the Senator said.

Mr. Lahiffe: Information on Robert Lahiffe  Zoom on Robert Lahiffe  Nobody said that but you.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  What the Senator said was that this was merely a case of an application for a licence. It is only when an application is turned down that the matter would go to the Minister. I wonder if the Senator read the Bill?

[145]Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  Subparagraph (h) reads as follows:

...provide for an appeal to the Minister by the person affected from the decision of a health authority to refuse an application for, or to cancel or suspend, a licence or registration...

That deals with the cancellation or the suspension of a licence where a person has been in business, perhaps, for 20 years and who falls foul of the health authority and is put out of business by a decision to cancel or suspend his licence to engage in the sale and distribution of poisonous substances. That is what I am talking about. That is what the decision of the Supreme Court is about. You cannot put a man out of business except by a judicial act. I am not prepared to see the Minister for Health make these decisions vicariously. I am not prepared to say that is good enough. Subject to correction, I do not think it is constitutional.

In any event, what is the objection by the Minister or by Senator Ó Ciosáin to enabling a citizen of this country to go into the High Court and say: “I have been wrongly put out of business by a decision of the health authority and a refusal by the Minister”? If he is wrong, he will pay the costs, and that is always a sobering consideration which operates in determining whether or not he will go into court. Senator Ó Ciosáin is a lawyer, one of those horrible, despised people.

Éamon Ó Ciosáin: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  Who despises them?

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  Fianna Fáil. They are always talking about the lawyers' Government being one of the worst kinds of Government you could have.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  We had two examples of them, you know.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  The people will judge that next November or whenever it is. As you said yourself, you will just have the faithful few.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  If Senator Ó Ciosáin wants to talk about the decision of the [146] Supreme Court, he ought to give the facts correctly. I am rather shaken in my recollection when I hear him declare so emphatically that the decision of the Supreme Court in the Solicitors Act case was a majority decision.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I think the Senator was right.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  I do not think he was.

Éamon Ó Ciosáin: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  We will have to look it up.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  The Constitution provides in subsection (5) of Section 4 of Article 4 that

“The decision of the Supreme Court on a question as to the validity of a law having regard to the provisions of this Constitution shall be pronounced by such one of the judges of that Court as that Court shall direct, and no other opinion on such question, whether assenting or dissenting, shall be pronounced, nor shall the existence of any such other opinion be disclosed.

If my recollection is correct, the only decision of the Supreme Court in the Solicitors Act case was delivered by Mr. Justice Kingsmill Moore and I have no recollection of any other decision. If I am wrong, I shall apologise to Senator Ó Ciosáin, but I am fortified by reference to Article 34 of the Constitution.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  I do not think it has much bearing on this matter. I do not think it invalidates the Senator's arguments.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  Whether that be so or not, if it was a majority decision, it was a majority decision, but surely if it is a decision of the Supreme Court, it is final and it is the law and that is the end of it.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  But not on this Bill.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  I want to make it relevant to this amendment. We cannot, by an Act of the Oireachtas, deprive any citizen of his right to go into the High Court on a question as [147] to whether or not he has been rightly deprived of his livelihood by a decision of the Minister for Health. Therefore, I seek in this amendment to provide citizens of this country with a right of appeal to the High Court from any decision which the Minister for Health may take to put them out of business. That, I believe, is the entitlement of citizens under the Constitution and that is the purpose of this amendment. No amount of talk about a majority decision will get over that.

Éamon Ó Ciosáin: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  I did not intend to prolong this debate but having regard to the last remarks of Senator O'Quigley, I find that I have to stand up again. He tried to create the impression that the Minister with this Bill was depriving citizens of this country of their right to appeal to the High Court. There is no such intention in this Bill. There is nothing in it to prevent any citizen having recourse to the High Court or any court to which the citizen deems it proper for him or her to have recourse. Is that not the position? The Senator knows that as well as I do.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  Could the Minister not then go to the High Court?

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  What is the objection to saying that the citizen has this right?

Éamon Ó Ciosáin: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  What was the need when the right was already there?

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  Could the defence in the High Court not then be that the citizen had no right to come to them, that in fact the subject matter was covered by the Bill and the decision was final, irrespective of the rights or wrongs of the case in ordinary law or common sense? If the Minister went to the High Court, could his defence not be that the citizen had no right to go there?

Éamon Ó Ciosáin: Information on Eamon Kissane  Zoom on Eamon Kissane  That could not occur.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  I am not so sure.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I do not know any [148] provision in the Constitution or in the law which would prevent any person from going to the High Court to challenge this Bill on the grounds that it was repugnant to the Constitution. That would have practically the same effect as the amendment which Senator O'Quigley has put down. He bases his amendment on the Court decision in relation to another Bill affecting officers of the court. Do not forget that there is a very significant difference between the Solicitors Act and what is proposed here under this Bill.

The local authorities have had, since 1908, power to issue licences in certain circumstances to persons who want to use nicotinic preparations in sheep dips and for other purposes. Before the local authority issues that licence, it is bound to assure itself that sufficient provision has not already been made for the distribution and sale of these particular substances in that area. That is what is involved here. The existing procedure will continue. Under paragraph (e), the licensing health authorities are to be authorised to license or register persons who are engaged in the selling or offering or keeping for sale of poisons and of premises from which such poisons are sold. The local authority at the moment can turn such persons down and there is no appeal against a decision of the local authority, if it refuses to grant a licence.

What is proposed here is a further relaxation, if one likes, in favour of the applicant in so far as a local authority's decision will not be final. The matter can then go to the Minister, who will then on the facts before him as submitted by the applicant or by a solicitor acting on behalf of the applicant, determine the issue. Is it necessary in the case of a function such as this exercised by the local authority to provide for an appeal to the High Court? If there is anything repugnant to the Constitution in paragraphs (e) and (h) of this Bill, of course it can be simply tested in the High Court once and for all. Are we to encourage people to go to the High Court quite unnecessarily? I understand that at the present [149] moment the courts are sufficiently fully occupied to keep all the lawyers, or at least all the judges, occupied. I do not know that it is going to help the community very much to compel us, in order to deal with appeals to the High Court upon trivial matters such as this, to have to increase the size and cost of the judiciary.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  The Minister has succeeded in partly confusing me on one issue and, at the same time, clarifying another issue for me. He says that a citizen can go to the High Court and test whether or not a Bill is repugnant to the Constitution. I believe that Senator O'Quigley's amendment is intended to do quite a different thing. It would give him, by statute, an appeal from which he could hope to gain his rights in the High Court, and for that reason I find it a proper and valid amendment. The Minister says the position is that there is no appeal to the High Court.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  There is no appeal even to the Minister.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  There is no appeal against the Act of 1908 or to the Minister. I have not got the 1908 Act here and presumably we could not read and assimilate it in five seconds. Is it not conceivable, as the Minister says, that it may be repugnant to the Constitution, and is that not an extraordinarily big issue to take up because a person down the country is no longer permitted to sell articles dealt with in this Bill? I feel that Senator O'Quigley's amendment has now proved to be of value as a safeguard for the citizens. There is no doubt about that. No matter how sure of himself the Minister may be, or how categorically he lays down the law in regard to that situation vis-à-vis the present situation there is no appeal against the Act of 1908 or to the Minister under the new Bill. The citizen is fully entitled to the safeguards of Senator O'Quigley's amendment. I believe it is a great clarification.

Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: Information on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  Zoom on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  I feel that on this matter the Minister is right and that he has shown that the amendment, although ingeniously presented, is not necessary. I think the proposer of the [150] amendment realises that because he said in his opening speech that he felt the right of appeal to the High Court should be included, though he believed everyone had the right, anyway. That being so—and I think he is right in it —and granted that the Bill itself does not say the Minister's decision shall be final and, therefore, the Minister cannot attempt to deprive anyone of that right which he believes everyone has anyway, I think it disposes of any necessity which one might otherwise feel there was for the amendment.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  I do not think Senator Sheehy Skeffington quite understood what I meant when I spoke about the citizen's right being there anyway. What I meant was that every citizen has a right constitutionally to have matters determined in the High Court, if he wants to exercise that right, but there are certain matters which a citizen may not raise. For instance, the law under the Social Welfare Acts is that certain matters are appealable and others are not appealable and that is the end of it. The High Court was established to protect citizens and citizens should at all times have free access to it if they want to avail of it. The Supreme Court, in the case of the Solicitors Act, laid down a principle in its decision and that is the end of it. There is no use in talking about variants or the type of people concerned.

I cannot see any objection to the Minister permitting somebody to appeal from him. He says that the courts are cluttered up. If the courts are cluttered up nowadays, it certainly is not the fault of the judges and is not due to any increase in litigation. It is due to one other cause to which I shall not refer further. The cost of appeal to the High Court is not as great as the Minister might imagine. Every six months when the High Court goes on circuit, there are appeals to it from the decisions of the circuit court refusing applications for intoxicating liquor licences, and that has never proved to be an expensive form of litigation.

There is no reason in the wide earthly world why that facility should not be provided here. There is only [151] one reason the Minister has such a constitutional repugnance, that is, that we must not, in any circumstances, interfere with the decisions made by the Minister on the basis of recommendations made by his Department. The Minister feels repugnance to any interference of that kind and that is his only reason—not solicitude for people being penalised in costs and not solicitude for the state of business in the courts, but because the Minister will not have his decision upset by such things as High Court decisions or anything of that kind.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  I move amendment No. 5:

In page 6, subsection (3), before paragraph (i) to insert a new paragraph as follows:—

“( ) provide that, at the option of a person taking an appeal to the Minister in accordance with regulations made under the immediately preceding paragraph of this subsection, an appeal to the Minister shall be conducted on the basis of oral evidence being heard by the Minister with a right to any party involved in the appeal to be represented by solicitor and counsel,”.

Perhaps this amendment may be quite unnecessary, and I do not want to speak on it in any great length. The subsection which we have endeavoured unsuccessfully to amend provides for appeal to the Minister. If there is appeal to the Minister, I should like to know how it will be conducted. The Minister might not be aware of the case at the time, and it has not been unknown for a person to have been constituted by the Legislature as an appeals officer under the Department of Social Welfare, another Department with which the Minister is concerned. He is appointed not only to act as judge in the case between the Minister for Social Welfare and the citizen, but to go rooting around finding information to aid the Minister in his decision on the case which the appeals officer heard, and then found in favour of the Minister.

[152] That is not my idea of an appeal to the Minister. If there is to be an appeal to the Minister, it should be an appeal to the Minister himself. If the Minister wants to hear both sides of the case, that is the only way of doing it. It should be at the option of the person concerned to have an audience with the Minister. If the Minister does not want that kind of thing, or has not time for hearing appeals from people who have been deprived of their livelihood by the decision of a local authority, then the Minister should not take unto himself the right finally to decide, as he is doing in this Bill under which a person can be deprived of his licence to sell, store or distribute poisons. Anything else, and anything short of what I suggest in the amendment, is making a legislative farce to which we are all a party.

I know there is the stock answer and that the Minister can say that is common form. We hear that very frequently. I think it is time we put an end to that kind of common form. If there are to be decisions as between citizens and great bodies such as local authorities and the Minister, these decisions should not be taken in a kind of hugger-mugger way, on the basis, perhaps, of incomplete information, with no opportunity on the part of the person aggrieved by the decision, to question, cross-question or examine the basis of the information, or assert to the contrary before some competent authority as the Minister would undoubtedly be.

It is the business of everyone. We are inclined to say: “Oh, appeal to the Minister. It is all right because we know the Minister for Health and his predecessor and predecessors before him were just, liberal-minded men”, but, of course, we all know also that Ministers cannot do everything in the few hours they can spend in their offices every day. If the decision were to be taken at leisure, or at comparative leisure, by the Minister, that would be one thing, but I feel the Minister would not be in a position to take decisions in that way. Consequently, I would impose upon him the obligation, before he deprived a person of his livelihood in a case of [153] this seriousness, to get the evidence on the option of the person concerned only.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I am not accepting this amendment. I do not think any reasons are required to justify my refusal to agree to it. The Senator has spoken about an appeal to the High Court. He wants to robe the Minister with all the trappings of a High Court. Having spoken about the few hours available to a Minister to perform certain functions, he then proposed to encroach further upon them by obliging the Minister to hear oral evidence.

Professor Stanford: Information on William Bedell Stanford  Zoom on William Bedell Stanford  I tend to agree with the Minister on this point. I should be reassured if he would tell the House what happens in the ordinary way when an appeal is lodged. What is the ordinary procedure? I am sure he can give us confidence that it is fair and just.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  It depends upon the form of the appeal. In general, the appeal is on a question of fact which can readily be ascertained. My general function is as follows: All appeals come to me in the first instance and I refer them to the Department for observation and investigation which means that they verify whether or not the statements in the appeal are true. Then, on the basis of a recital of the facts, when the appeal comes to me, I read them all carefully and come to a decision myself on the merits of the case.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  The Minister is treating the amendment with something in the nature of contempt. I do not mind that at all. The Minister is loath to have any encroachment upon his valuable time. I am even more loath to have a citizen of this country deprived of his livelihood by a mere stroke of the Minister's pen. That is my concern.

Professor Stanford: Information on William Bedell Stanford  Zoom on William Bedell Stanford  I agree generally with Senator O'Quigley. It is simply a matter of deciding how much time the Minister may reasonably be expected to spend over matters of this kind. It could be very difficult for a [154] Minister if a garrulous solicitor comes into his presence and is prepared to talk for several weeks on this point. I can thoroughly sympathise with the Minister on this matter. Though we all applaud Senator O'Quigley's championship of justice, this is asking too much.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section 14 agreed to.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 might be taken together.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  I move amendment No. 6:

In subsection (1) (b), lines 13 and 14, to delete the words “and veterinary” and in lines 16 and 17, the words “or veterinary” where these words, respectively, occur.

This amendment is exactly similar to an amendment moved by Deputy O'Higgins in the Dáil. It relates to veterinary medicines. In the matter of veterinary medicines, the practice over a long number of years has been that wholesale pharamaceutical firms pay a yearly or a bi-yearly call to farmers and sell them their supplies of various vaccines and veterinary medicines which last them until the next call. There was a battle over the years as to whether or not this practice was proper, whether or not certain vaccines and certain injections should be given direct by these pharmaceutical firms to the farmer or whether they should be supplied only to the veterinary profession. That difference of opinion has largely been decided over the past number of years in favour of the practice of delivering these vaccines and veterinary medicines direct to the farmer.

Unlike sprays and weedicides, there is no history of death to animals or danger to humans because of the farmer having access, at what might be termed wholesale prices, to veterinary vaccines, medicines and injections. Most of these preparations are in general use. They are applied in the [155] same way and in the same quantity for the same sickness, the same disease, on all occasions. We are considering here Comhairle na Nimheanna which will consist of 17 people. When one considers the 17 persons, one finds that specifically only two people are nominated by the Minister for Agriculture whose main occupation is farming and that there could be three other persons who would have a certain special affiliation with farming and farmers. However there is no compulsory provision whereby they must have that affiliation to farmers.

I have the same worry as Deputy O'Higgins, that there might be a tendency, if not for the other preparations and those already on the market to be removed from direct sale by wholesale pharmaceutical chemists to farmers, for new drugs, vaccines and preparations to be removed from direct sale to farmers and to be directed to sale only to veterinary surgeons.

One must remember that, in this world to-day and in this country, vested interests work strenuously for themselves. I would not point the finger of scorn at any particular vested interest. At the same time, it is proved that medical practitioners, veterinary surgeons, pharmaceutical chemists and various people—these vested interests —could very well make decisions in relation to new vaccines and new preparations which would be prejudicial to the interests of farmers. I rejected the suggestion during the discussion on the previous amendment that there is any danger in this. I am a farmer and a farmer's son. I know of no case in which the application of veterinary medicines could be dangerous to human life. I know of very few cases where normal intelligent use of veterinary medicines to-day is dangerous to animal life. I feel that these two amendments should be accepted.

Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  The Senator is repeating what has already been said in the Dáil and to which I referred on Second Reading. Is it not good for us to repeat that this Bill is [156] to safeguard the human subject? I am appalled that a certain vaccine is being sold in chemist shops and in public houses throughout the country which is a definite danger to the human subject. I refer to a vaccine against contagious abortion which is a grave danger to the human subject who can get undulant fever from it. Undulant fever is a bad disease.

There is a relation all the time between the medical practitioner's medicines and poisons which are administered in small doses to the human subject and practically similar medicines being used by veterinary surgeons in the treatment of animals. Too much of anything is a poison. Too much alcohol is definitely a poison. I could quote several other things. I would say that for the representatives of the farming community or of any other community to insinuate that the veterinary profession is not the best friend of the farmers and that they will interfere with the rights of the farming community, of which they are members themselves, is unfair, unreasonable and simply not true. Veterinary surgeons are the sons of farmers. They do not become impostors when they become members of the veterinary profession.

It is extraordinary that Senator Donegan has changed from the view he held a while ago when he did not want to allow farmers to treat their seeds and lands with insecticides and vermicides because they might endanger wild life. He was restricting the farmer's right to treat his crops and to safeguard them from damage. Now he comes practically to attack the veterinary profession as if they were trying to put something over on the farmers and restrict the use of veterinary medicines. If the distribution of veterinary medicines—and by veterinary medicines I mean medicines of any kind that are a danger to the human subject—is to be controlled in the hands of the farmers, you might as well not have any control at all because there is that co-relation between that which is human medicine and that which is animal medicine.

I know of one vaccine which is being sold indiscriminately and it is a [157] danger to the human subject, if it is any good when it is bought. Perhaps Senator Donegan knows something about this vaccine which is used for the prevention of contagious abortion in cattle. If it has not been contained in a refrigerator and if it is shaken about too much in a car or elsewhere for 24 hours, it loses its efficacy but if it is effective and used by a person who does not know how to use it, he can contaminate himself and get a fever which may last for two years before he gets rid of it. Such things have occurred even with people who know how to handle it. I cannot quote any case of Mr. So-and-So getting undulant fever from the ignorant use of the vaccine but it is a danger.

Thank God, we have gone a long way towards the eradication of bovine tuberculosis but the next immediate problem that was at one time coincident with bovine tuberculosis is bovine abortion. It is being eradicated in the north of Ireland at present and in England and Denmark and America have been freed of contagious abortion. It is preposterous to say that the control of a vaccine like Strain 19 is restricting the farmer's rights to use a syringe on his cattle. People talk about the farmer's right to do what he considers necessary. It was said that a man is entitled to poison his own animals. I think he is not. If this legislation is to safeguard the human subject from the danger that would arise from the indiscriminate use of poisonous drugs, I cannot see what is to be defined as a poisonous drug.

I understand that of the 17 members of the Council the Minister for Agriculture will nominate only two members of the veterinary profession to the Minister for Health and if he is satisfied, those two will be appointed. Only two veterinary surgeons will be members of Comhairle na Nimheanna, a Council of seventeen whose purpose is surely to do their best for the citizens. They can do it only by recommendation to the Minister and his regulations are subsequently placed before both Houses of the Oireachtas to reject or accept as they think fit.

I emphatically express my disgust at [158] the attitude of members of the other House and of this House in trying to put over on the community that something is being done to take from the rights of the farmers. We all know that due to Macra na Feirme, Muintir na Tíre and other farming organisations, the farmers are more educated now than they were, but that argument cuts the other way, for a little learning may be a dangerous thing.

I conclude by repeating that there is one vaccine which unfortunately is being distributed indiscriminately through chemists and I am told that even publichouses can buy this Strain 19 which is alleged to confer immunity on cattle from contagious abortion. It is definitely dangerous if used ignorantly by a human being, if he is using a syringe and is not accustomed to using it from day to day. Anyone might easily inject some of this vaccine into his hand or into his eyes and I do not see why we should come along with this sort or argument that we are taking rights from the farming community or from any other citizen when we are merely safeguarding them from themselves and ourselves from ourselves. I only hope we will not further delay the enactment of this legislation by arguments which——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  If the Senator did not repeat the argument, we would not delay.

Seán Ó Donnabháin: Information on Sean ODonovan  Zoom on Sean ODonovan  I am not going to repeat it and that is all I have to say.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  Comparisons have been made between my attitude on Senator O'Quigley's amendment, which was defeated, on wild life, and my attitude on this amendment. There is no comparison at all between a man going out to a field to spray 10 acres with a highly toxic substance and spreading it in a haze of fog—a toxic haze which a child could assimilate and poison himself or herself quite easily—and the risk of a person injecting his eye or his flesh with Strain 19. In the publichouses all over the country, cartridges are normally sold and if you inject your heart or your head with a [159] cartridge, it is lethal. Cartridges are even more lethal than undulant fever. There are thousands of them lined up on the shelves and all you want is a licence to buy them. We have heard a most notable member of the veterinary surgeons' profession. I do not want to elaborate on his qualifications or noted career. He says Strain 19 is comparable with the sort of thing I have been talking about in sprays and weedicides. We are selling lethal things all over the country in publichouses. That can be extended to a four-pronged fork which is lethal, if you stick it into yourself. I did not insinuate that veterinary surgeons were acting in any improper way and I did not say that they were not friends of the farmer. If I were standing in an election to-morrow, I would be very pleased to stand on the result of that in relation to the veterinary surgeons in my own county of Louth.

With Comhairle na Nimheanna having 17 members, the great majority of whom represent—and this is not a derogatory term—vested interests, there is a danger that new drugs will come on the market which will be restricted in their use to veterinary surgeons and veterinary surgeons might find themselves on that Council in a situation in which doctors and pharmaceutical chemists were tending in that direction and they, willy nilly, must tend in that direction. Any of us who have been on boards, a county council, in the Dáil or other public body know the way things go. There is the danger that the farmer's opportunity to use new medical discoveries may be interfered with, if this amendment is not accepted.

Mr. Carter: Information on Frank Carter  Zoom on Frank Carter  By accepting this amendment, the Minister would be emasculating the whole Bill. We all know that publicans selling cartridges are licensed firearms dealers. Similarly, those who sell tobacco and whiskey are licensed for the sale of these commodities. That is a ridiculous argument and only a child would make that argument in defence of this amendment. There are two categories [160] of medicines or drugs involved here. There are medicines, drugs, weedicides, and all the rest, for agricultural use which are sold through garages, chemists, agricultural merchants and so on. Then there is the higher group of drugs dealing with animal sickness which are sold largely by chemists, people who understand the business. The upshot of Senator Donegan's amendment would be that any huckster's shop could sell the most potent drug on the market. That would not be a very happy state of affairs for any Minister for Health to deal with.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  A person must be registered in order to sell anything potent. This amendment refers to their use afterwards. Senator Carter is barking up the wrong tree.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I said at the beginning that the purpose of this Bill is to protect human life against the misuse or careless use of poisonous substances, not merely substances for traditional remedies which farmers use from time to time but the new drugs which Senator Donegan has emphasised and which are produced in such great numbers and with such rapidity from day to day. These drugs are much more potent toxically than those which our farmers have been accustomed to use and the effect of the amendment which the Senator is submitting to the House is that if one of those drugs were labelled as being sold for veterinary purposes, no control or regulation whatsoever could be exercised over its use.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  Use.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Yes, use. Therefore, we could not say to a farmer using one of those drugs that he must take certain precautions to ensure that he or his employees or some person who might consume either the meat or the milk of the animal would not suffer in health. Is that what Senator Donegan is standing over? That is what the effect of his amendment would be. I suggest to the House that while no person will decry the important part which agriculture plays in our economy, we must have some regard [161] to the fact that our primary function is to regulate the administration of our affairs in the interests of the human beings who compose our population. Every other interest must be secondary to that. The fallacy underlying the attitude of Senator Donegan and those who have associated themselves with this agitation is that they are losing sight of that fact and are saying that a farmer requires much greater consideration in relation to the health of his animals than the farmer, his children and his neighbours are entitled to from the agricultural community. That is a position which no rational, intelligent assembly could entertain for a moment.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  The Minister has misrepresented the case.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  In a masterly fashion.

Question “That the words proposed to be deleted stand part of the section” put and declared carried.

Amendment 7 not moved.

Sections 15 to 22, inclusive, agreed to.

Schedule agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment.

Report Stage ordered for Wednesday, 17th May, 1961.

Business suspended at 6.15 p.m. and resumed at 7.30 p.m.


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