Wednesday, 9 August 1967
Seanad Eireann Debate
Mr. O'Quigley: That, I think, will be in order but may I say that I wish to apologise to the House for the late appearance of the amendments. That is entirely due to the shortness of the time between the Committee Stage and the Report Stage allowed by the Government.
This amendment and the others consequential on it arise out of the debate on Committee Stage. I would direct your attention particularly to amendments Nos. 1 and 2. The others are in fact fully consequential and need not concern us directly here but the wording of Nos. 1 and 2 is important to the point that I am endeavouring to make here.
The House will recall that on Committee Stage I had a series of amendments dealing with this matter, the main object of which was to improve and clarify the Bill, because, as I pointed out, and I do not think this was effectively refuted by anyone, the wording of the definition section is such that in its present form it covers not only the carrying on of what one would normally take to be meant by the business of a livestock mart, the selling of cattle by auction in a livestock mart, but also the business of providing livestock marts, that is, establishing them,  constructing them and possibly either leasing them out or selling them to other people to operate. It seemed to me inappropriate that a concern whose job it was to build and provide these marts and which did not operate them should have its offices licensed, which is in fact an effect of the Bill in its present form.
In an effort to improve and tidy up the Bill, which did not meet with the degree of gratitude it merited from the Minister, I put down a series of amendments. The Minister took issue with them on several grounds and I felt that he had several good points. I had, for one thing, substituted for the word “adapted” in this definition section the words “constructed or reconstructed”. I thought this improved the section. The Minister thought otherwise, and while I was not entirely happy with his reasoning or entirely happy that in using the word “adapted” he was covering what he was intending to cover, he said he had been legally advised as to the meaning of the word “adapted”, and I therefore agreed to substitute “adapted” for “constructed or reconstructed” and have in fact reconstructed my amendment or adapted it by that substitution to meet his preference for the word “adapted”.
The second point he made related to another aspect of the amendment. He felt the amendment, as I had drafted it, might permit the selling of livestock by auction in places other than livestock marts. This, of course, in so far as it was the effect of the amendment as I had drafted it, was not intended. I accept and understand that the Minister's intention is to limit the sale of livestock to marts licensed for that purpose. In so far as my amendment might have this effect, it seemed appropriate to modify it and, accordingly, the purpose of the second amendment we have before us today is to make it quite clear that what is involved here is the selling of livestock by auction and that this can be done only in a mart in respect of which a licence is in force. This should meet the Minister's point.
There was some discussion also on a  wider point. The Minister seemed to feel it was necessary also to control the sale of livestock by methods other than auction. I was not clear fully what he was getting at. The Bill in its present form does not have this effect. It appears that the Minister has read the definition section in a manner rather different from the way it seems to me to read because he seemed to have interpreted the words “or otherwise” as a condition of the holding of sales of livestock so that this would have the effect of controlling the sale of livestock by non-auction methods at livestock marts. I was not quite clear about this. As far as I can see, it has no such effect.
As you can see, the wording of this definition section gives two different definitions of the business of a livestock mart. One is the business of selling livestock by auction and the other is the business of providing for the holding of sales of livestock by auction, a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction. The principal clause here is “providing a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction”, for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise”. It seems to me that one can only read the latter clause as meaning that this is the intention of the provision of those livestock marts. They are providing a place which can be objectively described as a place for selling livestock by auction. At the same time, the Minister seems anxious to cover the case where somebody might pretend—at least this is the effect of this amendment—that while actually adapting the premises for the purpose of the sale of livestock by auction, he intended to use it for the selling of livestock otherwise than by auction, and that there is a question of covering this intention.
I do not clearly know why one would wish to do so. I am trying to make clear that it does not have the effect of controlling the sale of livestock by non-auction methods at livestock marts. It only brings within the scope of the Bill the provision of a livestock mart adapted for selling livestock by auction but which might be provided by someone who intended or  stated subsequently he intended to sell livestock by another method. This would make sure that the man, although he built this place in such a way as to enable livestock to be sold by auction, could not avoid the law by claiming that it was never his intention to do so. It does not control the activities subsequently carried on in the marts. I do not think there is any issue in regard to that. I am trying to get rid of this control which the Bill in its present form introduces. This seems to me to be inappropriate with this Bill. The Bill should be concerned with the actual operation of livestock marts and should not be concerned with the setting up and leasing of marts.
It seems to me to be desirable, in order to clear this matter up, to amend the Bill along the lines which I proposed initially, but which I have subsequently changed by two qualifications in order to meet the points made by the Minister. This is what I have done. I hope the House will consider these amendments improve the Bill and that they surely meet the queries the Minister had. I hope they will prove to be acceptable.
An Cathaoirleach: Perhaps before proceeding any further, I should inform the House that there will only be one speech allowed on these amendments. There can be a second speech only by the proposer. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary would prefer to wait until other Senators have spoken.
Mr. Cole: There is one question I should like to ask. It is quite often the practice in a livestock mart that if I bring my cattle there, I am absolutely free to sell them to a customer in the mart ground. It is often done. I was in a mart yesterday and a man told me that he had bullocks there, that he already had two customers and he was hesitating whether to sell them and go home or wait and take  his time until 3 o'clock. Normally the buyer would hand in his name and he would come in from the office and agree that he was buying the cattle and would pay at the office when taking the cattle out of the premises. This amendment would exclude that. The cattle are not sold by auction at all in that case; although they are on the mart premises, they are not sold by auction.
Mr. O'Quigley: On the contrary, I thought Senator Cole was having hindsight and that he now sought to delete the words “or otherwise” which I sought the last day and I thought he was going to vote against the section. It is quite clear that what Senator Cole said took place yesterday will be an offence and will be prohibited and illegal once this Bill becomes law.
Mr. O'Quigley: Of course it will, that is, if the Bill in its present form goes through. That is what we were trying to get at the other day. That is why I sought to delete the words “or otherwise”. This amendment is also necessary for the reason, as I said on the last occasion, and I do not intend to repeat myself or at length——
We now have the absurd situation, if my information and opinion are correct, that the registered office of a company running a livestock mart will have to be licensed under this Bill. If that is not the height of absurdity, I do not know what is.
Mr. Rooney: And the function of a livestock mart. I should like to ask at what stage this function commences. Does it commence several hours before the auctioneer mounts the rostrum for the purpose of carrying on this “auction or otherwise”, which is described in the Bill, or does this really mean from the moment a farmer drives his cattle, sheep and pigs into the premises, although the auction may not take place for some hours afterwards because the livestock have to be gathered into the marts, sorted out, and got ready for presentation for sale by auction? I should like to know, especially having regard to what Senator Cole has said, what is the effective time at which the auction takes place?
Mr. McDonald: I should like to support this amendment. If amendment No. 1 were accepted, it would certainly clarify the position a great deal for a considerable number of people. Section 1 as worded is rather vague and certainly gives the Minister a lot of scope for doing exactly what he likes at any particular time. Acceptance of the amendment would greatly clarify the position and would give mart owners or the committees a better idea of where exactly they stand and what they can expect. It is perhaps unfortunate in 1967 that we should have such ambiguity in legislation such as this.
Mr. Davern: The question of changing the definition section has already been discussed and debated in the Seanad on numerous occasions and the present amendment suffers from the defect that it could be taken as meaning only a livestock mart as normally understood. Its acceptance would leave a very definite loophole  and indeed a very positive way for illegal sales to take place such as at an improvised mart in that an auctioneer who had already lost his licence because of contravention of regulations under this Bill could set up an improvised mart and carry on his business there.
Mr. Davern: By auction. However, the definition section as in the Bill will control, firstly, sales of livestock by auction irrespective of where the sales are carried on, and, secondly, sales by auction or otherwise at a place adapted for the sale of livestock.
Mr. Davern: The words “or otherwise” are necessary to prevent circumvention of control such as the holding of sales by hand in a mart. In regard to Senator Cole's question, what he has proposed is quite valid and sales he described may certainly go through, provided the mart itself is licensed. Senator Cole can be quite assured of that. The only prohibition would be if the mart had lost its licence. The exemption section, section 4, provides for auction sales, but the Minister does not wish to control sales on the farm and sales at agricultural shows as such. The amendment which was discussed previously and at length, and due consideration having been given to it, or to amendments of a similar type, is not acceptable to us and, indeed, it would make the operation of the Bill quite absurd.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: I have rarely heard a less convincing reply to any amendments put down. Two points were made. In regard to the first point, the Parliamentary Secretary said that it would permit the sale of livestock by auction at a place other than a livestock mart. A licensed auctioneer could go away and sell them somewhere else. Amendment No. 2 says that a person “shall not carry on the business of selling livestock by auction at a livestock mart”—I am looking for the correct wording.
I think the House may have been confused by somebody's inadvertence but certainly not by mine. The purpose of this amendment was to meet the point  made by the Minister here and, if the Parliamentary Secretary has been confused by the form circulated, I am sorry, but I cannot accept any responsibility for it. I wonder how we can now proceed, as the Parliamentary Secretary has been put in the position of answering an amendment that has not been put down?
An Cathaoirleach: The position is that the amendment as it appears on the Order Paper is the amendment as submitted to the Office. The amendment has been checked. To facilitate the Senator, perhaps the House would agree to allow him make the necessary change.
An Cathaoirleach: It would be a matter for the House if it wishes to give special permission to the Parliamentary Secretary to speak again. Does the Senator wish to make an alteration in the amendment? If so, the Chair is prepared to facilitate him.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: One way or the other, the Parliamentary Secretary has replied to an amendment which was not as I had drafted it and, therefore, the point he made is irrelevant. I can now understand why his reply seemed so nonsensical; it is not quite as bad as it sounded, as he was dealing with a different amendment from that on which I had been working. The Parliamentary Secretary will see that with the insertion of the word “except”, the main point he made against it was in fact the one I was endeavouring to cover. The Minister had made that point in the debate and on Committee Stage I said I wished to make this further amendment. Indeed the Parliamentary Secretary will see now that that point has been fully met here in the amendment, in the form in which it was originally submitted. That leaves us with really virtually nothing to answer.
The other point the Parliamentary Secretary made was one which showed the weakness of the argument, in that he could only justify the definition section by reading it quite differently and  with the addition of a word which is not in it. The words he used were:
There is no “at” at all in the Bill, which does not in fact provide for the holding of a sale of livestock by auction at a place adapted. It deals with something quite different; it covers the providing of a place adapted for the sale of livestock by auction or otherwise. If the Parliamentary Secretary can only make sense of the definition section by rewriting it, deleting a comma and inserting the word “at”, then it is quite clear that the section as drafted is unsatisfactory, as I found it. It is quite possible that if he reworded it, this might be an improvement. Certainly in its present form, as I pointed out in my opening remarks, it covers something which was not intended at all, that is, the business of providing for the holding of sales of livestock by auction or otherwise. The Parliamentary Secretary has not answered that point but he has rewritten the form in the Bill to mean something different, because the idea that it could cover such a case is so absurd that he himself could not accept or visualise that, and he tried to make more sense out of it. I feel, therefore, we are in a position where the case I had made for this amendment is fully met.
The second objection is thus one which ignored completely the Bill, as drafted, and substituted another version, which might or might not be an improvement. Therefore, as no case whatever has been made against the amendment, except for the two points I have made, I submit that the amendment should be accepted.
The purpose of this amendment is to ensure that it will not be a criminal offence if the owner of a livestock mart is guilty of a breach of a condition attached to a licence granted by the Minister. Very briefly, the position, as I understand it, is that the Minister will issue licences and may attach different conditions to different licences. On a breach of any condition, whether important or not, an offence will have been committed. That will be a criminal offence under section 7 and earns the penalties provided for in that section.
It seems wrong to enable a Minister of State, or any functionary such as a Minister, by a mere writing in his own office, which is never laid before Parliament and not the subject of any order, to say that failure to comply with the writing of the Minister can become a criminal offence. That offends against every concept of the criminal law of the country and against the Constitution, which may not mean anything to Fianna Fáil but does to us.
Mr. O'Quigley: I want to come to the Constitution which lays down that all citizens, as human persons, shall be treated equally. If the Minister can lay down by one writing something a breach of which would be a breach of the criminal law by one person, and by another writing lay down a condition which will not be a breach for another person, it does not seem to me that all citizens are, as human persons, being held equal before the law, certainly not the criminal law. For that reason I suggest we delete section 3 (4). There is an unanswerable case for its excision.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: I should just like to pinpoint the distinction between a regulation attaching to all livestock marts and a condition attaching to individual licences, different conditions being attachable to different licences. It seems inappropriate that a form of discrimination should be applied which would be unconstitutional. It is different where regulations apply to all equally and where a breach of them would not lead to unequal treatment before the law.
Mr. McDonald: I wish to support the amendment because I refute the suggestion that the agricultural community are a type of people who require special legislation, different and more stringent from that applied to any other section of the community. The farming community, mart owners or committees, should be treated equally with other sections. This subsection is completely unnecessary. The Minister should not be given this power which is altogether too wide, giving him an opportunity to wreak  vengeance on a particular mart or committee. I ask the House to accept the amendment. It will help to make a bad Bill a little less objectionable.
Mr. Yeats: I cannot see any point at all in the amendment. I could have seen rhyme and reason in an amendment, if it had been put down, to eliminate the section altogether so that the Minister would not have the power to impose conditions; but once he has power to impose conditions, I cannot see the point of the amendment because if it were accepted, you would have a situation in which the Minister could apply conditions before giving a licence, but if the conditions were broken, the Minister could not revoke a licence because no offence would be committed. Licences could simply flout the conditions. For instance, if a condition were made that a financial bond or indemnity must be taken out, that condition could be broken and nothing could be done about it. Though one could see the point—one might not agree with this—for abolishing conditions altogether, there is no point in giving the Minister power to lay down conditions with no power to do anything about breaches.
Like so much else in this Bill, there is nothing new in laying down conditions before a licence is given. There are many precedents. We can go as far back as Deputy Dillon's Fertilisers, Feeding Stuffs and Mineral Mixtures Act of 1955 which gives power to a Minister to lay down conditions before granting licences to people to carry on activities under the Act. It is an offence punishable by a fine to break any of those conditions.
Mr. J. Fitzgerald: I support the amendment because I think this is a dangerous power to give to the Minister. On Second Reading, we heard a lot about the various Acts and the powers given by them to Ministers. This section gives the Minister power, if he thinks fit, to revoke licences. Therefore, it can be made impossible for certain people to get licences if the Minister thinks fit. I am not speaking in terms of the present Minister for Agriculture. We are passing legislation for the future and this clause gives a  very dangerous power to any Minister, a power that could be abused and is quite likely to be abused.
Mr. Davern: The power to attach conditions is an essential part of the control proposed in this Bill, which is not peculiar in that respect. Every other Bill, affecting not only the Department of Agriculture but other Departments, has the self-same clause and, as Senator Connolly O'Brien has stated, it would be pointless to bring in a regulation in such a way that people could flout it without any punishment or any danger of revocation of their licences. In relation to this Bill, it must be remembered that if a licence is revoked for a breach of any of the conditions, the reason for the revocation must be placed before both Houses of the Oireachtas.
That in itself more than meets the point made by Senators. It will assure both Houses that there was not any favouritism or injustice as against any person or group of persons. Individual marts may have to be dealt with differently for the very good reason that there will be, and must be, variations which will make it necessary to have less stringent conditions applicable to certain marts. It is not intended to attach to licences any conditions which are not absolutely necessary. This makes the amendment unacceptable.
Mr. O'Quigley: The more we speak on this Bill, the more it is clear that some of the Senators on the Government side of the House would have second thoughts about certain of these amendments if the Bill had been discussed in a different climate. Senator Mrs. Connolly O'Brien rightly asks the purpose of passing rules and regulations if a breach of them is not to be an offence. This is not a case of rules and regulations. It is a case merely of the Minister laying down conditions. If those conditions are not complied with, it is a criminal offence: it is not a breach of regulation or order. The fact that the order would be laid before the Dáil or Seanad does not improve the situation for the reason that the man is guilty of a criminal offence and, under the penal provisions, may be  sent to jail or fined £100 or whatever the fine may be. I should have thought it was enough power to give the Minister and enough of a deviation from the law to enable a Minister, merely by his saying “That is one of the conditions of your business”, to make failure to comply with that condition a reason for withdrawing the licence. In this case, failure to fulfil the condition will not alone involve withdrawal of a licence but the creation of a criminal offence which may result in the man being put in jail. If there are precedents which the research of Senator Yeats has brought to light, they are bad precedents.
Out of evil cometh good. The one great effect this bad Bill will have will be to highlight how far power has been taken from the courts and Parliament and vested in Ministers of State. It will emphasise more clearly than ever before the necessity to scrutinise all Bills that give any power to a Minister —power of the order, magnitude and character that is provided in this Bill.
 It is as certain as night follows day that, from now on, Ministers will not be given the kind of power, either when we are in Government or when we are in Opposition, that is being taken in this Bill.
The Oireachtas was prepared to entrust powers of this character to Deputy Dillon when he was Minister for Agriculture. We are not at the moment prepared to entrust these powers to Deputy Neil T. Blaney, the present Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries. The difference is that we trusted Deputy Dillon but we do not trust Deputy Neil T. Blaney.
Brennan, John J.
Cole, John C.
Connolly O'Brien, Nora.
Eachthéirn, Cáit Uí.
Egan, Kieran P.
Honan, Dermot P.
|Ó Donnabháin, Seán.
Ó Maoláin, Tomás.
O'Reilly, Patrick (Longford).
Ryan, Patrick W.
Teehan, Patrick J.
|Conlan, John F.
FitzGerald, Garret M.D.
Murphy, Dominick F.
O'Quigley, John B.
O'Reilly, Patrick (Cavan).
O'Sullivan, Denis J.
Prendergast, Micheál A.
Quinlan, Patrick M.
“(ii) Conditions of sale shall be deemed to have been approved by the Minister unless the Minister has refused to approve of them within two months of the receipt of the conditions of sale and the Minister shall not unreasonably withhold his approval.”
The purpose of this amendment is to provide that where conditions of sale which now have to be submitted to the Minister, are submitted, they will be approved without undue delay. If we could be sure that conditions of sale would be pushed through the Department with the same speed, vigour and determination as this Bill was pushed through the Houses of Parliament, this amendment would be unnecessary.
Mr. O'Quigley: In the absence of that, I thought it proper to provide in the Bill that once conditions of sale are submitted, if they are not approved within two months, they should be deemed to have been approved. That is the procedure under the Town Planning Act. This is designed to meet the unnecessary delay that can be oreated by a too minute examination by the Minister and his authorised officers of conditions of sale. One can well see conditions of sale being examined in detail and one mart may submit conditions of sale which are not the same as another but which are entirely suitable to the kind of business and to the location wherein it is carried on, and I can well imagine the fetish of seeking uniformity manifesting itself strongly in such cases and communication after communication issuing from the Civil Service in an endeavour, on the part of the Minister, to cajole and browbeat the applicant livestock mart owner to bring his conditions of sale into line with some other conditions of sale. I want to have that kind of thing ended and to provide that the conditions will be deemed to have been approved after a lapse of two months.
It is also necessary in a Bill of this  kind to provide that the Minister shall not unreasonably withhold his approval. Ministers can be fractious and difficult at times, and possibly, unreasonable, and it is right that we should state it clearly as the view of the Legislature that a Minister should not act in that kind of captious way. That is the other purpose of putting down the amendment. Another and altogether unintended effect is to demonstrate to the Leader of the House his obstinacy and pig-headedness on the last occasion——
Mr. Rooney: This is a very desirable amendment and one we would expect the Minister to accept. It is designed to improve the Bill. As Senator O'Quigley mentioned, you could have a situation where, for one reason or another, possibly a personal one, a Minister might delay the sanctioning of conditions of sale. That could do a lot of damage to people who are seeking the necessary permission from the Minister. We now have had about 68 amendments, not one of which has been accepted. Here is an amendment which appears to be very reasonable. There is a lot to be said for it and very little to be said against it. It is a very reasonable provision to put into legislation of this nature. We are in the peculiar position of having spent six days in the Seanad proposing and discussing amendments, involving nearly 40 divisions, and not one amendment has yet been accepted. Usually, Bills before the Seanad are amended and improved in some respects. We had the Succession Bill amended——
Mr. Rooney: I am suggesting this amendment should not be rejected just  because it appears that the Minister and the Government have made up their minds not to accept any amendment. This is the last amendment and, as I say, not one has been accepted so far. I am in favour of this very reasonable amendment and I hope the Minister will see his way to accept it.
Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries (Mr. Blaney): What I feel is being overlooked in regard to this section is that these regulations and conditions of sale need not necessarily be approved in advance of the licensing provisions of the Bill being brought into operation. If this is so, marts in operation at the moment will be licensed to continue operation after the enactment of this measure and after the naming of the date for the coming into operation of the licensing provision.
They will continue to operate under existing conditions until the new provision in section 6 is given effect to. Therefore, there is no danger of a mart being “hung up”, as it were, awaiting a Minister's decision, or that they should in the meantime be operating in contravention of their licence until such time as their proposed conditions of sale have been approved by the Minister. That is the whole point I think the Senators proposing the amendment appear to have overlooked. They will continue to operate under their ordinary existing terms and conditions, unless and until these are changed by virtue of the operation of the particular part of section 6. Only then does this matter come into operation. It does not have to happen at all as the Senators seem to imply.
...provide that the receipt of entries for and the conduct of such auctions shall be carried out in accordance with conditions of sale drawn up by the owner of each such place and approved of by the Minister...
It is quite true that, if regulations are not introduced until they are introduced, of course they would continue  legitimately with their existing conditions. But there are several separate points made here, First, if the Minister contemplates—and he appears to, from the inclusion of this subsection—in regard to new marts that he will require that conditions of sale to be approved, as far as I could read this, any such regulation must apply equally to existing marts and to new marts. It says:
“Such auctions” are auctions of livestock at livestock marts. There is nothing here to say you can make different regulations for new and existing marts. There is nothing here to enable the Minister to make a regulation saying that, whereas existing regulations do not need to be approved, new ones would. If he intends to apply this section to new marts, it will be applied to existing marts. Certainly, the section makes it possible for the Minister so to provide. A situation could exist in which the Minister could in fact apply this section. By so doing, he would in fact be applying it automatically, as far as I can read it—it certainly would be open to him—to existing marts. If he held up approval of the conditions of sale, by doing that the Minister could put out of business any existing mart. By the mere fact that he did not give approval, the mart would not be operating legally and, even without going into the question of the licence at all, the mart could be put out of business.
It seems to me there must be some requirement that the Minister shall give this approval expeditiously and also—I emphasise this point and indeed it was in the original form of amendment—that he shall not unreasonably withhold his approval. A situation in which any mart can be at the mercy of the Minister, not only in respect of the regulations and conditions to the licence, but also through the witholding for a period of time or indefinitely his approval of conditions of sale, gives really far too much power to any Minister. Therefore, the  amendment is one which is necessary and the Minister's reply does not seem to meet the point at all.
Mr. Blaney: I want to reiterate what I have said: that the Senators are overlooking what I stated, and are confusing the issue. There will not be two sets of regulations, one for existing marts and one for new marts. If this becomes law, all existing marts will become licensed on the date appointed by the Minister. This date may be, and probably will be, in advance of the introduction of the regulations under section 6. They could not precede the licence provision being brought into operation. There will not be two sets of regulations, whether they precede or come subsequently to the actual licensing provision. They could not precede it in law and are not likely to come in simultaneously. The naming of the date for licensing is one thing, but the actual detailed preparation incorporating these and other matters takes some time and will require consultation with the various interests I have mentioned. It is fairly definite that they will not come in simultaneously but will probably come in subsequent to the naming of the date of the licensing provision. You can take that almost as a certainty. I cannot see it any other way at the moment.
When we come to that point, they will have been continuing to operate under the licensing provisions they had  up to the introduction of these regulations. It may well be that there will be little difference in the conditions of sale ultimately agreed. Most of them will not have any change to make. There is not any question of their being held up awaiting the making of the regulations incorporating these conditions of sale which must be pre-approved by the Minister. This is not going to happen. It is almost a certainty that such could not happen, even if I wished it so, which I do not.
Mr. O'Quigley: The Minister is not entirely correct—in fact, I think he is wrong—in what he said, and I say this without wishing to offend the Minister. He says that every existing mart will automatically get a licence when the licensing provision comes in and that that will precede the making of regulations. That cannot be so because subsection (8) of section 3 provides that existing marts will not be licensed until they comply with the regulations. It says:
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, a person who carries on the business of a livestock mart at any place and who, immediately before the passing of this Act, carried on that business at that place, shall, if in relation to the place, the regulations under this Act are complied with, be entitled to be granted a licence in respect of the place.
It seems to me, therefore, that the Minister cannot grant a licence in law —it is another day's work as to what he will do—but, in law, and under this Bill when it becomes an Act, he will have no power to grant a licence until  the regulations are complied with because a licence can only be given to livestock mart owners if, as subsection (8) says, in relation to the place, “the regulations under this Act are complied with”. There could not be anything clearer than that and no amount of trying to get around that will make it otherwise.
The Minister can grant a licence. I understood the Minister to say something the other day but it is one of the difficulties of knowing what the Minister said the other day that we are carrying on a Report Stage debate which hinges to a great extent on what was said on Committee Stage and we have not got the reports yet. That is one of the disadvantages of rushing the Report Stage. We have got only a day's report so far, which is a deplorable  position to have the House put in. What I understood the Minister to say the other day is that section 2 would not come in until the regulations came in. The question of issuing licences would not arise until the regulations were made. That is not the point I wanted to make at all. I am glad the Minister raised it.
The point I want to make is that whenever livestock mart owners do submit their conditions of sale, whether it is existing livestock mart owners or people who want to establish marts in future, they should be dealt with in a businesslike way, expeditiously, and I want to fix two months as the period for which they could be held up, and no longer.
|Conlan, John F.
FitzGerald, Garret M.D.
Murphy, Dominick F.
O'Quigley, John B.
O'Reilly, Patrick (Cavan).
O'Sullivan, Denis J.
Prendergast, Micheál A.
Quinlan, Patrick M.
Brennan, John J.
Cole, John C.
Connolly O'Brien, Nora.
Eachthéirn, Cáit Uí.
Egan, Kieran P.
Honan, Dermot P.
Ó Donnabháin, Seán.
Ó Maoláin, Tomás.
O'Reilly, Patrick (Longford).
Teehan, Patrick J.
Tellers: Tá, Senators McDonald and Malone; Nil, Senators Browne and Farrell.
Question declared lost.
Amendments Nos. 12 to 19, inclusive, not moved.
Question: “That the Bill be received for final consideration” put and agreed to.
Agreed to take the remaining Stage today.
Question proposed: “That the Bill do now pass”.
Mr. O'Quigley: We have now reached the Fifth Stage of this Bill on which there were 68 amendments on Committee Stage and 19 on Report Stage and which we discussed two days on Second Stage and four days on Committee Stage. The Bill is remarkable for the fact that no amendment to it was put down by the Fianna Fáil Party. It cannot be that there are not some brains in the Fianna Fáil  Party with some little suggestion to make on a Bill of this kind. It is not remarkable that no amendments were accepted. We have had the unfortunate position where an effective guillotine was used by requiring this House to sit for longer periods than was necessary, from 10 o'clock in the morning till 10 o'clock at night.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: 10.30.
An Cathaoirleach: As far as the Chair was concerned, there was no curb on the discussion of this Bill.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: The Senator was disappointed that there was not. Every facility was given.
An Cathaoirleach: Senator O'Quigley to continue on the Bill.
Mr. O'Quigley: The Chair has often-times been indulgent and kind in regard to discussion, orderly and disorderly as it was at times, and I do not intend in any way to reflect upon the Chair; my remarks are addressed to the Chair but intended to bounce on to the Government side.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: Or bounce off, more likely.
Mr. O'Quigley: This is a thoroughly bad Bill, and as Senator Yeats rightly suggested or implied a while ago, it is difficult to amend one section without amending the lot. You could not amend part of section 3 without deleting the whole section, because it is all fite fuaite tré na chéile.
Mr. Yeats: It is a well made Bill.
An Cathaoirleach: Senator O'Quigley must be allowed to make his speech.
Mr. O'Quigley: We have tried to mitigate the evil consequences of this Bill by putting down amendments which in other circumstances and in a different climate would have been accepted by a reasonable Minister; if not all the amendments, at least some would have been adopted, and with the expert staff available to the Minister, he would have brought in amendments that would have met points  made by this side and perhaps even by that side of the House.
An Cathaoirleach: What is not in the Bill is not under consideration, only what is in the Bill.
Mr. O'Quigley: The Bill is defective in that none of these reasonable amendments was accepted, and with all these infirmities, the Bill now becomes law. Indeed there was so much urgency attached to the passage of the Bill that we thought there would have been a motion for an early signature by the President, but that has not happened.
The Bill is defective in many ways. It is wrong that the Minister should be empowered, first of all to grant a licence, and it is certainly wrong that he should be entitled to fix different conditions to different licences. It is wrong that he should be entitled to fix conditions to any licence which should be specified in the regulations of any Bill. It is wrong that a breach of a condition should give rise to a criminal offence. It is wrong that the Bill should empower the Minister to revoke a licence if the licensee, in his opinion, is guilty of an offence. It is wrong to restrict, as has been done, the limited right of investigation to merely the building and the accommodation of a livestock mart. It is doubly wrong that the Minister should himself be empowered to determine whether a person has been guilty of a breach of any of the regulations in relation to the conduct of the business of a livestock mart. It is also wrong to empower him to revoke licences because of alleged breaches.
I say it is wrong that the Minister should have the power to appoint the person to conduct an inquiry or investigation. It is wrong that he should fix the remuneration of that person, wrong in principle if the inquiry is to have any semblance of impartiality. In that connection, the Minister might well consider asking the Chief Justice or the President of the High Court to recommend to him a number of barristers of ten years standing or more from whom he could pick the person to conduct an inquiry and making available to the Dáil the  panel of barristers so recommended to him. That would be a slight improvement on the measure as it stands.
It is wrong that existing livestock marts, which grew up when there was no legislation and continued to be built when there was no legislation, should not automatically get their licences under this Bill. They will not automatically get licences under the Bill, no matter how often the Minister says they will.
The Bill, as it now stands, raises constitutional issues, in my view, and in the view of many people of high standing as political scientists and as lawyers and politicians. I think that a constitutional issue is raised by the fixing of a condition in such a way that its breach gives rise to a criminal offence. The withdrawal of a licence, or its revocation raises, I think, a constitutional issue. Certainly the revocation of a licence will put a man or a company out of business in exactly the same way as the Supreme Court has declared the striking a solicitor off the roll of solicitors is a judicial function and that it is unconstitutional to vest that function or power in any person other than a judge.
These are matters to which, if there were some machinery available to this House under Standing Orders or under the Constitution, one would wish to draw the attention of the President so that he might consider whether he would refer the Bill to the Supreme Court in accordance with his constitutional powers.
In fact, this Bill is merely a framework for the regulations which are to be made and for the conditions which will be imposed and about which we know nothing. I hope the conditions imposed, especially in relation to existing livestock mart owners, will not be too severe. I do not think the Bill will afford any protection to farmers. There is nothing I can see written into the section dealing with the regulations which, explicitly at any rate, makes any provision for the protection of the farmer, big or small, or anybody else from the mismanagement of livestock marts by their owners. I hope that when the Minister  comes to make regulations, he will not fall victim to a suggestion made by Senator Honan, whom I regard as a very honourable and upright Senator, that he should prohibit in the regulations the raising of a levy by a mart owner for the purpose of providing a subscription to any organisation. That would be undue interference with the constitutional rights of livestock mart owners.
I want to say that all cases of the granting, withdrawal and revocation of licences, and imposing conditions provide an opportunity for patronage and pull. The Taoiseach had something to say about that and it was reproduced in last Saturday's Irish Times. He was referring to the difficulties of multiseat constituencies and said:
In these circumstances, the practice of patronage or “pull”, if you like, has grown in the people's minds to completely unreal dimensions and explains much of the current disillusionment and apathy towards politics.
I do not think this Bill will do anything to discourage patronage or “pull”, nor do I think that it will do anything to reduce apathy towards politics and politicians.
We should end on a humorous note and for that purpose I came to the House armed with Dublin Opinion. They have something to say about the Marts Bill which may well be immortal. I quote, with thanks to Dublin Opinion, the phrase “as mad as a Marts Bill.” I think that sums up this Bill.
Mr. Murphy: I shall confine myself to the question before the House and say that from our point of view we do not agree that the Bill before the House should now pass. We, in the Labour Party, accept that a case can be made for supervision of livestock marts and that supervision in the interests of the farming community is justifiable and desirable. We say, however, that the way it is proposed to be done under this Bill as it stands is a bad way and that far too much power is being put in the hands of the Minister, power which he can exercise at his sole discretion in many respects  under this Bill and which can be used to victimise people with whom the Minister or his successors may not agree. This is bad legislation.
Despite what the Minister said on, I think, the Second Stage, we further say that there is no real legislative precedent in this State for this type of legislation and for this exercise by the Minister of sole discretionary power such as he is given in this Bill. Therefore we oppose the passing of the Bill. It is not good for the community or for the development of a proper relationship between the Minister and the agricultural community. Probably the most serious aspect of it is that it creates a precedent which is bad for democracy. This type of legislation for which there is no precedent will, we feel, be used as a precedent by this and other Ministers in the future.
We do not know whether the President will sign this Bill or not, and if he does, whether it will subsequently be challenged as being out of line with our Constitution, but, to my mind, that is relatively unimportant. It is a very bad thing that legislation should be forced through the Oireachtas which, to say the least of it, is questionable on constitutional issues. We are left in a situation in which the Bill may or may not be challenged subsequently and found to be unconstitutional. If somebody feels strongly enough about it and can bear the risk of heavy legal costs, then this piece of legislation could be declared unconstitutional. It is bad that the Minister and his Party should press this piece of legislation through the Oireachtas, and perhaps subsequently find that the Oireachtas has passed something that is not in accordance with the Constitution. That is bad for the Oireachtas. It is bad for the Constitution. It is bad for democracy in this country. We therefore oppose the passing of this Bill.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: So many peculiar remarks were made on this Bill—and Senator Murphy's speech just now brings some of them to mind—that I am reminded of two other Bills which met with equal misrepresentations, distortions, fears and misunderstandings. We remember the Fluoridation Bill and  also the Land Bill. The bogey men were trotted out in each case for weeks. The press of the country in its news columns and correspondence columns——
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: On a point of order, is the Leader of the House entitled to speak on the Fluoridation Bill on the Fifth Stage of this Bill?
Acting Chairman (Mr. D.J. O'Sullivan): I was just about to——
Tomás Ó Maoláin: I was referring to the debates on this legislation and on other Bills.
Mr. Rooney: Not specifically.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: At any rate, all the bogey men were trotted out on this Bill and all the terrible things that were to happen, but the things which annoyed me most and to which I wish to refer were the repeated statements by Fine Gael and Labour Senators that the Bill was being steamrolled and rushed through, that there was something peculiar about it, that we did not want to have public discussion, that we wanted to get it through the House fast.
Mr. Rooney: The Senator wanted to spend 24 hours on it last Friday.
Acting Chairman: Senator Ó Maoláin.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: On the Bill.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: I was prepared to spend 24 hours on it tonight.
Mr. Rooney: That is hardly reasonable.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: There is nothing secret about this Bill. There was no rush about it. There is no record of pushing it through the Seanad or the Dáil as these facts will prove. The Bill was introduced in the Dáil on 31st May. It was circulated on 14th June. Second Stage was taken in the Dáil on 21st June. It was passed in the Dáil on 21st July and, mark you, during most of that period the local elections were on and this Bill was a talking point at every crossroads in the Twenty-Six  Counties. It reached the Seanad on 26th July and we have been seven days debating it so far. That means that in the Seanad and the Dáil for ten weeks the spotlight of the press and public discussion were on the Bill. Ten weeks amounts to two and a half months.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: Some Senators have suggested that an attempt was being made to rush them, apparently trying to create the impression that they did not get a fair crack of the whip, that there was some peculiar situation in which poor Fine Gael speakers were not allowed to speak. On Second Stage, during which the principle of the Bill was debated, we took 12 hours. On that Stage there were 23 speakers, made up as follows.
Acting Chairman: The Senator is now certainly out of order.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: Surely I am entitled to reply to the statements which were made.
Acting Chairman: Not on this Stage.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: Surely since Senator O'Quigley suggested that the Bill was being pushed through, I am entitled to say that the Bill was not pushed through and that ample time was given for the debate.
Acting Chairman: I should like the Senator to come now to the relevant matter on the Final Stage, that is, what is in the Bill.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: More than half the time on Second Stage was taken up by Fine Gael speakers. No attempt was made to push this Bill through. We have had 42½ hours so far on it. Senator O'Quigley and his Party have been hoping that at some stage they would force a position in which a closure motion would be brought in.
Senators complained also that we sat too late and that we extended the hours of sitting. The first moment when Senator O'Quigley declared that the Fine Gael Party would fight the Bill comma by comma, and line by line, I realised  that this was going to take time, and I went out of my way to ensure that Senators had ample opportunity to express their views on the Bill. That is why ample time was given on Committee Stage. As Senator Rooney properly remarked, last Friday we were prepared to sit until 10.30 a.m. on Saturday, if necessary, to conclude Committee Stage.
Mr. Rooney: That was unreasonable.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: It was reasonable as the Senator will see from Senator O'Quigley's speech of last Thursday in which he pointed to the democratic institutions in Great Britain where Parliament sits all night.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: This is not relevant to the Bill.
Acting Chairman: The length of the session is not under discussion.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: I was prepared to give ample time today and, if necessary, to sit on until we had disposed of the Bill. I am glad that Fine Gael and Labour realise that enough is as good as a feast, that we have now come to the end——
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: The end of this irrelevant speech.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: ——and that the Bill is about to become law. It gives me great satisfaction to be able to say how well and properly this Chamber defended the right of every Senator to have ample time to make his contribution. If Fine Gael were unable to persuade the Seanad on their point of view, they cannot blame what they sneered at as a machine majority. In every democratic country there must be majority rule.
Acting Chairman: The Senator's dissertation on democracy is interesting but it is not relevant. He should come back to what is in the Bill.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: He does not want to talk about the Bill.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: The Marts Bill is now being passed by a democratic majority. I will leave it at that.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: The Senator has nothing to say on the Final Stage of the Bill.
Mr. Rooney: In the 45 years since this Parliament was established, we have never had a Bill of this nature reaching Fifth Stage in the Seanad. It is unwanted and disputed. There has been controversy up and down the country about it. The associations that were consulted objected to it. They did not accept the proposals contained in the Bill and they have not accepted them, but the Minister has insisted on putting it through. The Bill we are discussing now is exactly the same as the Bill which left the Dáil; not one word, not a single sentence, has been changed since the Bill left the Dáil. Let us remember, too, that the Bill was guillotined in the Dáil. There were closures. There were 20 divisions in one day. Senator Ó Maoláin has said that he gave ample time here for the Bill to be discussed. That is quite true. He did give ample time but, remember, he brought us back here during the holiday period. He made the case that the Bill was circulated on 14th June last. That was the eve of the day on which the holidays were to commence, according to all the forecasts in the newspapers. The Minister knew that and that is why he threw down the Bill on the Table of the House, knowing that all preparations were made for Deputies and Senators to go on holiday.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: I did not know the newspapers were running the Dáil.
Mr. Rooney: In fact, it was thought at that time that the Dáil would adjourn before the local elections.
Mr. McGlinchey: On a point of order, is this relevant?
Mr. Rooney: I will not go outside the rules of order. I am making the case that Senator Ó Maoláin has made a plausible case in an effort to demonstrate that this Bill has gone through this House like a Rolls Royce. Actually, it has been steamrolled through.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: We are back to the steam age.
Mr. Rooney: Steamrolling is a different thing altogether. Senator ó Maoláin says he was being reasonable when he told us at 10.30 a.m. on Friday last that he proposed to sit until 10 a.m. on Saturday.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: If necessary.
Mr. Rooney: ——and, if we did not finish our business on Saturday morning after that 24 hour sitting, we would be back here again on this Wednesday discussing the matter.
Acting Chairman: We are here now on the Final Stage.
Mr. Rooney: This Bill has beer designed by the Minister. Its provisions have been drawn up by the Minister. Amendments put forward by the Opposition in the Dáil were rejected. The Minister's own amendments were put through by the Parliamentary majority. Here, we have discussed 68 amendments to the Bill, but not one change has been made in the Bill leaving the Seanad. Discussion was stifled in the Dáil. There were closures and guillotine motions.
Acting Chairman: That is not relevant.
Mr. Rooney: The provisions of this Bill are not acceptable to the Livestock Marts Association, the Civil Liberties Association, to newspaper editors. The newspapers have given us the benefit of a very carefully detailed examination of certain provisions in the Bill. We have reason to be grateful for that. Under some of the provisions in this Bill the name and address of every farmer in the country can be obtained through the marts. Every transaction can be traced by means of regulations. The turnover of any particular farmer can be obtained. The turnover of the marts can be obtained. The number of cattle, sheep and pigs handled by any particular mart and the number of cattle, sheep and pigs sold by particular farmers can be obtained. This Bill will, in fact, reveal the private  business of thousands of citizens in this country.
Mr. McGlinchey: That information is available already.
Mr. Rooney: Where?
Mr. McGlinchey: In any bovine TB office.
Acting Chairman: This cannot be resolved by question and answer.
Mr. Rooney: I did not know the turnover and the numbers of cattle were kept in the TB office. An argument was advanced here that this Bill may be found to be unconstitutional. The difference between this Bill and the Bills that were passed prior to the enactment of the 1937 Constitution is that, when that Constitution was being drawn up, it took into consideration legislation already on the Statute Book. That is quite a different matter. The Constitution we have now takes a view of legislation which is being passed and it is for that reason the argument is advanced that certain provisions in this Bill will be found to be unconstitutional. The Minister should indicate the approximate date on which he proposes to bring this Bill into operation, if it is signed by the President, and publish regulations under it.
Professor Quinlan: This Bill is now at its Final Stage and it is still the most anti-democratic measure piloted through this House during my period here. It marks another stage in the alarming march towards State control, State control which threatens to engulf us all. The unbridled personal power given to the Minister in this Bill is abhorrent to all true democrats who value freedom and liberty. In the prevailing climate of political patronage, coupled with the Minister's strong-arm tactics, the Bill may be said to be truly alarming. The extraordinary discretionary powers contained in this Bill, the myriads of unnecessary conditions and the multiplicity of orders and regulations—
Tomás Ó Maoláin: On a point of order, is the Senator reading? I understand it is not permissible to read.
Acting Chairman: It is not permissible to read, but the Senator may consult notes.
Professor Quinlan: —are all part of the stock-in-trade of a totalitarian State. They may be of use in Russia or in China, but, to me, and to all who value freedom and liberty, they have little place in a young republic within a year of celebrating the Jubilee of 1916.
Mr. Yeats: The Senator knows that is complete nonsense.
Professor Quinlan: Agriculture has been the subject of numerous committees of inquiry and reports. The assistance it gets from the Minister, as demonstrated in this Bill, is the strong-arm tactic and the most oppressive provisions possible. It is the antithesis of that at which the co-operative movement aims. Many spokesmen, including the spokesmen of the National Farmers Association, have said it is impossible to find anything in the Bill that will make any contribution to the advancement of agriculture, much less to prepare this country for entry to the EEC. One would have thought that this Bill would have some connection with this but, indeed, if this Bill is to be the advertisement that is to be sent out to the EEC Commission, especially their agricultural council, and, indeed, to the farmers unions of Europe to show how we propose to handle our farmers' unions here, then I might say that our prospects of getting into the Common Market are even worse than they might appear. It will appear that we are making no effort to prepare and this Bill sets the seal on it. Any Minister for Agriculture in Europe reading this Bill or any farmers union reading it and contrasting it with the liberal and permissive conditions under which their cattle marts operate, would be pardoned for wondering what kind of a totalitarian regime have they got in the Republic of Ireland.
We should think before it is too late and realise that our future must be built on genuine co-operation, the type of co-operation that Horace Plunkett and Father Finlay pioneered, not the type of jackboot co-operation that is  envisaged here. The only remedy for this is appeal to the Minister and the only appeal to the Minister that suggests itself in the modern climate is a type of political approach which is something which should not be established. Our courts are able and willing to carry out any licensing or any regulating or any work that may be required under a genuine Marts Bill and if given the duties no doubt they would discharge them in the same magnificent way that they have discharged their other functions.
Mr. Rooney: Even a bookmaker's licence must go to court.
Professor Quinlan: With those few words, I wish to oppose this Bill on Final Stage. I think we did our duty here by endeavouring, as far as possible, to expose the length to which this Bill could be put and to show that the discretionary powers given are much too dangerous to be entrusted to any Minister much less to a Minister who gave such a glaring example of political bias in the appointments in the past week to the boards of the Agricultural Institute and An Bord Gráin.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: Hear, hear.
Mr. McGlinchey: In what way?
Professor Quinlan: I cannot agree to the passage of this Bill but it will pass because the numbers are there and we cannot do anything about it——
Mr. Dolan: Not a thing.
Professor Quinlan: ——any more than we could get even the most reasonable amendments through this House.
Mr. Dolan: Thank your supporters for that.
Professor Quinlan: It is just wasting our time and playacting——
Mr. Dolan: Typical of Fine Gael.
Professor Quinlan: We were led to believe and assured by the Minister that he was listening and would consider  reasonable amendments when we know full well that when the Dáil has risen there is never any hope of getting an amendment through this House. Therefore, I think we might as well bring this—shall I say—farce to a close and keep our eyes open for the regulations and ensure that we give them the scrutiny they deserve and, where they overstep, in any way, give them our undivided and unlimited opposition.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: Make sure you phone the full text of that to the Cork Examiner.
Mr. Yeats: I do not propose to say very much. Enough has been said on this Bill and there is not much point in adding to it but I should like to say a few words in reply to that piece of nonsensical abuse which we just had from Senator Quinlan. Senator Quinlan would have been a magnificent amateur in a country-style melodrama.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: Ali Baba.
Mr. Yeats: He raises threats of disaster and dictatorship which simply do not exist in this Bill. Senator Quinlan knows as well as I do and as well as anybody else does that what he has been saying about this Bill is sheer unadulterated rubbish. He spoke about the farce of this debate. If ever there was a farce, it is this kind of statement coming from the likes of Senator Quinlan which he knows is not true. He knows that for years past dairying, bacon factories, pork butchers, creameries and a wide variety of agricultural activities by co-operatives and others have been licensed by provisions precisely similar to those in this Bill except that this Bill contains numerous safeguards which have never been put into any previous Bill and which go far beyond anything in any previous Bill and particularly far beyond anything provided in the fairly recent past by Deputy Dillon when he was Fine Gael Minister for Agriculture.
That is all I want to say. It is not that I am saying anything that Senator Quinlan does not know but I simply  think that that type of nonsensical and entirely inaccurate speech should not be allowed to pass without somebody saying it is nonsense. This Bill is nothing new. There is no new principle in it which has not been established for the past 40 years and more by all Governments and accepted by all Governments and all Parties inside and outside this House to work well. These disasters that Senator Quinlan has prophesied have never happened. There is no new principle in this Bill. It simply follows a well trodden path with safeguards that were not taken before.
Mr. Malone: Since we started the debate on this Bill in the Seanad the division bells have been ringing constantly. There will be no bells ringing down the country tonight if this Bill is passed as it is certainly about to be passed in a very short time. It contains so many built-in dangers that one wonders even at this late stage why the Minister refused in the course of the passing of the Bill through the House to accept any reasonable amendment so as to allay the fears of many sections of the agricultural community.
Instead of extending the idea of livestock sales marts in parts of the country where they are not held, people contemplating starting such in those areas will now think a second and a third time because of the passage of this Bill. It is an invention of the Minister's and despite the assurances which he has given repeatedly on almost every section that it is to see the farming community, I fail to see why he did not accept some of our amendments to cement those assurances and to allay the fears of the people. It is the invention of the Minister brought in without any demand from any section whatsoever and if it does not work out as he has claimed it will, then there is no doubt the invention will return to plague the inventor.
Mr. McDonald: This Marts Bill has at last been steamrolled through Oireachtas Éireann. I hope that the Minister and his civil servants are pleased and delighted because if they  are not happy this evening, then nobody is. Very few if any of the rural Deputies and Senators have come out in favour of this measure even though they have had to endure a forced march through the lobbies lasting over ten weeks as Senator Ó Maoláin told us. This Bill contains many principles which are new to this country and we must await with patience, fear and trepidation to see the form in which the Minister will bring in all these regulations he has promised us. We must also wait and see how and in what way this measure, now that it has gone through, will benefit the livestock industry in general and the farming community.
We would hope that there is in this Bill sufficient thought and scope to improve the position of the livestock breeders and owners in this country. We hope the Minister by this measure to which he has clung so dearly—he has not even allowed the slightest amendments to be made to it in all the ten weeks it has taken to put it through —now that he has it safely in his pocket will be able to improve the lot of the farmers and that he will be able to ensure stability in the cattle trade in the months that lie ahead.
We feel that the Minister has given himself ample power to do anything he likes. This Bill is so wide that I do not believe there is any possible regulation which he should like to bring in that he certainly has not power to do so. We hope he will devote his talents over the next few months to devising ways and means of helping the agricultural community and restoring the price of livestock that has been falling over the past few years and for which the forecast is not good for the months that lie ahead.
One would have hoped, instead of devoting so much time, energy and man hours to this measure, that the Minister and his Department would have, perhaps, put some thought and energy into the problems that are at present facing the agricultural community. Instead of that the Minister has devoted all his energy to this measure. We wait with interest to see the benefits he will bring to rural Ireland with this Bill seeing that he has  placed so much emphasis on it and has asked for it in such a hurry. Many people are genuinely disturbed in relation to what this legislation will mean for them. Some people say that it certainly infringes on their rights. However, even though this Bill is passed today, it has to go to the President for signature and who knows that the President may have second thoughts? Perhaps he may have listened to the many appeals and protests from the various organisations throughout the country against this Bill. The Oireachtas this evening finalises this piece of legislation that nobody but the Minister appeared to want. Let us hope that the Minister is happy that he has the Bill in his hands this evening.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: I should just like to make a few brief points in conclusion. Having listened to the debate, I think that while a case has been made for it, on the grounds of precedent, by the other side of the House, no case has been made for the Bill in its present form on the grounds of principle. I much prefer to look at a Bill of this kind on the grounds of any benefit that it will confer. There are good precedents and bad precedents and all Governments are responsible for good precedents and bad precedents. We should be concerned more with whether the Bill is good or bad in principle and not whether it has or has not got precedent in the past.
The atmosphere in which this Bill was discussed was unfortunate. Members from the other side of the House told us that it was not debated with as much detachment as they would have liked. In so far as that is true it arises from the circumstances in which the Bill was discussed. If anything could be claimed it is in relation to the atmosphere in which it was discussed and the action of the Minister last week who in the middle of this debate, having told us that he was not unfriendly towards the farmers and that there was no row with the NFA, did not show this in dealing with the appointments made last week. I am not surprised by the Minister's action but I am surprised that the Taoiseach allowed it to happen.
This Bill would be objectionable in  any circumstances because of the manner it was brought before the Oireachtas and because of the wide powers it gives the Minister. It is wrong to give him such a wide range of powers without adequate procedure for refusal. It is wrong that he should have such powers in regard to the licensing of marts and that he should be able to impose different conditions on different marts, as the Bill provides. It is wrong that the power of regulation should be so wide, although on that point I would not press unduly and, indeed, with another Minister I might be less worried about this. The fact that the Minister has power to revoke licences is something which should not be included in any measure of this kind.
I am personally convinced that this measure is unconstitutional. I look forward to it being challenged, the Minister having to come back to this House with a somewhat redder face than he now has and having to ask this House to do something with the Bill because it has been found by the courts to be unconstitutional and objectionable. I hope the Bill in its present form will not be abused by the Minister and that the powers in it will not be abused. The debate here has been helpful. I hope that because the dangers in the Bill have been so highlighted that any Minister would be very reluctant to abuse the powers which have been given to him.
Mr. P. O'Reilly: (Longford): You will make the Minister afraid if you keep on threatening him.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: I am not. I hope the Minister, now that he has got his Bill, will not abuse the powers given to him. I do not consider that a Bill of this kind should have been put through in this session. The Leader of the House has quite properly said that in this House there has not been any attempt to guillotine it.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: Thank you.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: That is a fair reflection of the fact that the Bill has been debated fully and fairly and on our side of the House very full consideration  has been given to it. I think the discussion has been useful. I should not say useful but potentially useful. Although the Minister gave an assurance on Second Stage that he would consider amendments of merit, this assurance has not been fulfilled. There has been complete failure to make any case against some of the amendments. Some of the amendments were found to be defective in some way but in many cases the arguments put forward never dealt fully with them although some of the amendments, by any standard of debate, would be considered good amendments which should have been passed. Despite the assurance the Minister gave at the conclusion of the Second Stage debate, he was determined he would not accept amendments because the Dáil has risen. That reinforces my argument that the Bill should not have been brought in at a time when the Minister would find it politically impossible to accept amendments, however sound they might be.
In conclusion, I should say on behalf of Fine Gael that the Bill in its present form is unacceptable, and Fine Gael when in office will replace it by a Bill, which is needed, to regulate the operation of marts in a constitutional and proper manner, in a manner that will ensure that justice is done and will be seen to be done and which will ensure that the rights of the citizens will be preserved.
Mr. P. O'Reilly: (Longford): I shall confine my remarks to what is in the Bill. Since it has been said that the Bill is a bad Bill, I should like to say that I regard it as a good Bill. In my view, the Bill was necessary. I do not at all accept the misrepresentation that is being thrown out at this stage in the hope of confusing the public that there is something evil in this Bill and that the Minister wants to do something, or that there is something in the Bill which will enable the Minister to do something, which has not been done before.
It is necessary to have public control over the vested interest in livestock marts. My only criticism is that the  power now being given under this Bill was not given to a Minister for Agriculture many years ago. The powers in the Bill are necessary, just as similar powers were necessary under the Fertilisers Act which was piloted through the Dáil and Seanad by Deputy Dillon.
Mr. O'Quigley: A useful measure.
Mr. P. O'Reilly: (Longford): A Minister's right to give licences is not something of mushroom growth. The principle of granting licence and having regulations and conditions attached goes back a long time, as does the right of the Minister for Agriculture, and no other authority but the Minister for Agriculture, to grant licences and to make regulations. I cannot understand why there is at this stage such a tirade of abuse, personal abuse directed at the Minister, and suggestions that the present Minister will abuse his power. It is not for me to defend the Minister. He is well able to defend himself. Much of this abuse has come from people who talk about charity but who also sometimes talk shibboleth. They are throwing out suggestions, using the privilege of Parliament, about maladministration, and so on. It is rather annoying, since people of today will have a right to grant licences and a right to make regulations which has been exercised under many statutes for many years. This is nothing new. My real criticism is that the power taken in this Bill should have been taken years ago. It would have protected many people from hardship which they now suffer because of difficulties that arise in certain marts. People feel that they are now in a position where they can be paid for their cattle and cash their cheques.
I speak about the real farmers, not the landowners or people who pretend to speak for the farmers. Surely the farmers must be protected from irregular vested interests.
Mr. Rooney: Are the farmers not landowners at all?
Mr. P. O'Reilly: (Longford): I can understand Fine Gael Members talking about vested interests. I know that  vested interests have grown up in cattle marts. I can understand Fine Gael supporting that sort of interest but I cannot understand why the Labour Party feel obliged to support that sort of vested interest.
Mr. Rooney: They do not like bad laws.
Mr. P. O'Reilly: (Longford): The purpose the Labour Party should have is not one in support of a vested interest. My only real objection to the Bill is, as I said previously, that it was not properly timed, was not brought in in time.
Mr. O'Quigley: Agreed.
Mr. P. O'Reilly: (Longford): I am glad to see that I have some area of agreement with the learned Senator. I have heard a lot about amendments and the failure of the Minister and of this House to accept amendments. My objection is that the Minister did accept one amendment in the Dáil which made provision for the setting up of a sort of inquiry by a senior counsel of ten years standing. To my mind, that is not a good principle, although it is a new one. A responsible Minister is a Minister responsible to Parliament. Since he has the power, he should exercise his responsibility, and whether it is by way of limitation of power, or anything else, the Minister under statute should not be in a position in which a senior counsel of ten years standing will be appointed to advise him publicly.
Mr. O'Quigley: It will be privately.
Mr. P. O'Reilly: (Longford): If that is the sort of improvement that is to be made in this House, I think it is a good job the Bill is now the way it is.
Mr. Blaney: It is rather difficult to know where to begin on the concluding Stage of this Bill. A number of matters have been repeated here, and I deliberately say “repeated”. There is nothing I have heard, nor have I got a note of anything having been said, by the Opposition in opposition to this Bill. If I  were to discuss the Opposition's opposition to this Bill, I could in all truth describe it as opposition for opposition's sake, but I could not go even one step of the way with them in the assertion that there are in the minds of our farmers in regard to the coming into law of this Bill feelings of fear and trepidation. Rather would I say that any fears or trepidation that may be in the minds of any of our farmers are due entirely to the misrepresentation and the false picture painted deliberately by the Fine Gael Party over the months since this Bill first saw the light.
They set out to misrepresent the Bill on the basis of what is not in the Bill. They have taken it on themselves to make a stand on this measure—for what purpose it is rather difficult to know. Their suggestions to me do not ring true, and I have said so. It could not have been as a result of a deal with the NFA.
Mr. O'Quigley: The Minister accepted the other day that there was no such deal.
Mr. Blaney: The Senator has repeated, for the sake of emphasis. I have no doubt, many of the statements he made on various Stages of this Bill, and I believe I should, in summing up on the Bill, again say that I do not see that this story could be true, though it is the only story that is going around, as to why Fine Gael have taken up the attitude they have on the Bill. The story does not ring true or make sense but it is the only story that is going the rounds as to why Fine Gael have persisted in their opposition to this measure for opposition's sake.
They tell us that all the amendments they put down were good and useful and would have improved the Bill. There was ample opportunity—as has been admitted by Senator FitzGerald —during the lengthy discussion to make the most of the amendments that were put forward. Contrary to what Senator FitzGerald has said and despite all the time available—and there was no want of time, no lack of time, for those who wished to make a case for any of their amendments—no good  case was made for any of the amendments, nor was it shown in regard to any of them that they would improve the Bill. It has been shown and is conceded by Senator Garret FitzGerald that many of them did not have good cases capable of being made for them.
Mr. O'Quigley: He said nothing of the kind.
Mr. Dolan: Senator O'Quigley was not here; he was on his holidays again.
Mr. Blaney: I heard Senator O'Quigley remark that without the record of what was said last week it was difficult to know what went on here. I suggest that if the Senator had been present he would know and if he does not know, he cannot blame anybody but himself.
Mr. O'Quigley: I was here.
Mr. Blaney: If he was here, then he did not understand what was discussed, if he needs the written record to indicate to him now what was said.
Getting back to the Bill, the allegation made, and reiterated here until we are sick listening to it, is that the Bill has been rushed. I understand Senator ó Maoláin earlier today gave an outline—the days, the dates, the times of the different Stages, and the time taken. We have on the records of this House for anybody who wants to read them and seek out the truth—and I am sure there are people who wish to get the truth, even though they may be supporters of Members of the Opposition talking on this Bill—the fact, despite the manner in which the smoke-screen has been spread by Fine Gael, that this measure was discussed at very great length, that it was not rushed at any point, that it was a measure of a nature which has gone through this House on many occasions in the past in only a very small part of the time taken to deal with this Bill, that the Fine Gael Party, as the predominant influence in the last Coalition Government—I hope, the last Coalition Government—put through a couple of measures obviously of the same nature as this, containing the same terms, and  indeed terms which could be regarded as more objectionable. If they were consistent, then they could scarcely have sponsored the measures back in 1955, of which we have already had ample example, and oppose this Bill now on principle, with Senator Rooney being stuffed in here with a supplied note of what he was to say——
Mr. O'Quigley: That is not so, and it is grossly irregular to say it.
Mr. Rooney: We will hear the Minister, but that is a ridiculous statement.
Mr. O'Quigley: On a point of order, when I started to review this debate, the Cathaoirleach ruled that I was not entitled to go back on what was said during the debate. The Minister is not now in order; he is entitled to speak on what is in the Bill, not to review Coalition Governments or anything else. That is quite irrelevant to the Bill.
Mr. Rooney: My remarks were spontaneous.
Mr. Dolan: The Senator was fed in the saddle like a cowboy.
Acting Chairman: The Minister is entitled to deal with what is in the Bill the same as any Member of this House.
Mr. Blaney: On the reference to Senator Rooney, I want to withdraw any suggestion that his notes were supplied to him. As he says himself, his remarks were spontaneous, but he did make the point that the Acts quoted as precedents were not comparable, in that they had been passed before the enactment of the Constitution in 1937. Granted, in so far as those pre-1937 measures are concerned; not granted in so far as anything post-1937 is concerned. What I have been talking about is post-1937 and is in fact related to the period 1954 to 1957. If these are not precedents since the enactment of the Constitution, I do not know what could be regarded as such, nor do I see the change of mind that must have taken place in Fine Gael to have sponsored and supported those principles then  and to find them abhorrent, as Senator Quinlan finds them, now.
What great change has taken place? How is it that we have had no objections to the precedents quoted? How has there been no move to remove these from the Statute Books? Surely this is only to be expected in view of the ever-vigilant attitude of Fine Gael, who look after the rights of our people to such a degree that what they did in 1955 has no relevance to what they do in 1967. Surely the people whom they purport to represent are entitled to know from Fine Gael if they have changed their minds in regard to things such as are contained in this Bill, which they were happy to put forward, and to enact, while in office in 1955.
Mr. McDonald: They have a different type of Minister now.
Mr. Blaney: That remark just shows the great broad-mindedness and scope of intellect of Senator McDonald. The sort of Minister—that is how we are to determine, through Fine Gael eyes, the terms of our legislation in the future. That is how we are to make subservient the Constitution of this country; we are going to bend it round to suit the whims and fancies of Fine Gael, their likes or dislikes of a particular Minister at a particular time, when he does not happen to be of themselves. Senator McDonald, I am sure, does not talk for Fine Gael when he makes that sort of remark.
It is asserted that the Bill is undemocratic, that it is abhorrent, that it takes away from the people certain democratic rights. I assert that the Bill's purpose, intention and, in practice, its use, will be to protect the rights of the farming community, to ensure that those rights continue in the future, to ensure that no monopoly, no group —no matter how they may describe themselves—will in any way take toll of our farmers merely to allow them to sell their stock at a mart, which may be the replacement of a fair at which they had the right to sell their stock freely to whom they liked, when they liked and in what manner they liked. That is  the whole basis of the worth of this measure and I think there is not a Member in the Opposition who will disagree with this or object to this as a purpose which should be subscribed to. I do not think there is anybody in the Opposition who would not subscribe to the principle of exposing the rights of our farmers to sell their animals freely. In fact, we can put it the other way, that the obligation is on us as a Government and on the Minister for Agriculture, as the custodian, as it were, of the farmers, to ensure that those rights, and all other rights, are continued in the future and that these measures are used to the benefit of the farming community. It is in fact the special role of the Minister for Agriculture to look after their interests to the best of his ability, no matter who is in the seat as Minister, irrespective of the day or year.
We had then the further suggestion that the Minister devoted all his energies during these recent months to pushing this Bill through. Might I suggest, at this late stage—and I have refrained from doing so over the past couple of months, lest I might in any way intimidate the free flow of speech from Fine Gael and their opposition to this measure—that if I have devoted more time to this Bill than should normally be given to it, the cause is the absolute opposition of Fine Gael and their absolute unreasonableness in opposition to this measure? They drew it out; they prolonged it; they used not only their own time but the time of the Minister for Agriculture and the time of every Member of this House that could be better devoted to other matters in prolonging this debate in their almost endless manner. The Opposition are the people who have devoted my time to this measure. It is not my choice that the Opposition should change their minds and take a new slant on things. It is not my fault if they have changed their minds and if nobody knows about it but themselves.
It is not my fault if I try to get from them now, for the benefit of their long-time adherents—and they still have a few—some explanation for the people who followed them in the past, particularly because they have subscribed  to measures of this nature, and they owe it to their supporters——
Mr. O'Quigley: How is this relevant to what is in the Bill? I was not allowed to proceed along those lines.
An Cathaoirleach: The Minister to continue, on the Bill.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: To continue? He has not been on it.
Mr. Blaney: References have been made to my devoting more of my time to this measure than I should have done, and my reply to them is quite relevant, and surely it is not unduly prolonging things on my part if I say that the rule is not of my making but rather of the Opposition, for opposition's sake and for no other reason. We have in this Bill something that was not in Bills enacted in the past and in operation at the moment. We have in this measure certain new additions that will provide for certain matters being put to the two Houses of the Oireachtas for the purpose of furnishing information to them so that they may be made fully aware of what is taking place and the reasons for it.
Regulations which are provided for in the controversial section—it took long enough to get through, controversial or not—are, by virtue of the terms of the Bill, required to be put before the two Houses of the Oireachtas and may be annulled, if they do not like them. That is in addition to the measures in which we had precedent in the 1950s, measures in which there is no such supplying of information to the Houses of the Oireachtas, measures in which the discretion is solely in the Minister for Agriculture to use when he feels like it, when he feels the power should be used, without the obligation of returning to the Houses of the Oireachtas and saying: “I did this; I did that. I withdrew this licence and the reason was so and so.” None of these things was provided for in those Acts which were supported by the people who oppose this Bill.
Their change of mind and their inconsistency become more obvious if one looks at their role in the past and  their role in relation to this Bill. Senator Quinlan spoke about the political prejudices displayed by the Minister for Agriculture—this is not the first occasion on which he did it— in relation to appointments to certain boards. What does Senator Quinlan want to get? If he wanted to get to know something about the appointment of boards, he should have asked for it. In so far as boards recently mentioned are concerned, for the information of Senator Quinlan and the House, the appointments made by the Minister were made because of the fact that they are solely at the discretion of the Minister—they are his nominations. These boards are supplied with nominees by the Minister to certain positions assigned to them by the Minister or the Government, and I cannot see why Senator Quinlan should draw up the appointments to these boards as something connected with this Bill, which he chose twice to do.
He quoted leader writers in certain of our newspapers who had nothing better to write about than to follow in that strain. My guess is that with the Show on, they will have more important things to write about in the morning.
Professor Quinlan: Introduce a Bill to control leader-writers.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: License them.
Mr. Blaney: If we were ever looking for ways and means of control, it would be to control certain Senators, not leader-writers, but they are harmless, even though uncontrolled. Appointments to the Grain Board were mentioned specifically and I think I should reply to the charges made by Senator Quinlan in relation to that board. How they are connected with this Bill I do not know, but the Senator has drawn from this the conclusion that the Minister who would make such appointments in this manner is a dangerous man to have the powers proposed in the Bill. Am I reading the Senator correctly?
An Bord Gráin were mentioned in a particular way here and it was notable  that certain other boards were not mentioned, though certain appointments were made to them at the same time. Bord Gráin were established in 1958 and their purpose was to market surplus wheat—as it happens, there has not been any since.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: Is this in order?
An Cathaoirleach: It was raised on the Fifth Stage and the Minister is entitled to reply.
Mr. Murphy: If the Senator was out of order, surely the Minister equally should now be out of order?
An Cathaoirleach: The Minister, to continue.
Mr. Blaney: If the House, or any sizeable minority of the House, wish to silence me on this matter and if it should be your ruling, I bow to it. On the other hand, if I may, I should like to continue to set Senator Quinlan's mind at rest because it seems to be the most disturbed in regard to this matter. The members of An Bord Gráin in 1958 were appointed for two years. They were four traders and five farmers. All of the five farmers were suggested by the NFA and the farmers were given a majority because it was expected they would provide the finances of the board through the wheat levy. The NFA were even given the chairmanship. That was for two years, from 1958 to 1960. In 1960, the board were re-appointed for one year and with this arrangement, the NFA agreed.
In 1961, the NFA had five members on the board, including the chairman, who were elected by themselves. The 1961 Board were reappointed in toto for a one-year period in 1962. In 1963, the Board were given the function of marketing feeding barley and importing grain. Membership of the Board was discussed by the then Minister for Agriculture and the NFA.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: They must have been on speaking terms then.
Mr. Rooney: Just about.
Mr. Blaney: They were communicating, let us say. It was accepted that there would be four traders, three NFA members and one co-operative representative and an independent chairman. The Minister for Agriculture of those days decided to nominate two NFA representatives and one farmer. None of these was necessarily selected or elected by the NFA. They were for the purpose of representing this new changed function of the Grain Board which went over to barley marketing for the purpose of representing pig-feeders. Of course it was the Minister's right to do that at the time. The NFA did not accept the two nominations made by the Minister and they refused to co-operate. That was in 1963 and the Minister made two other appointments. In 1964, the NFA accepted two seats on the board. The situation now is that, in re-electing or re-appointing the board, I have chosen people other than NFA nominees or NFA people. I have done so——
Professor Quinlan: Surely that is not proper.
Mr. Blaney: Why is it not proper?
Professor Quinlan: It is surely showing bias against the NFA.
Mr. Blaney: In 1963, a situation developed where nominations were not accepted by the NFA and they refused to co-operate. In 1966 and 1967, we had the declared intention of the NFA not to co-operate with the Department of Agriculture. I think nobody gainsays that as being a definite policy of the NFA.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: At present.
Mr. Blaney: 1966 and 1967.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: At present.
Mr. Blaney: We have not any knowledge of what is going on at present, have we?
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: If the Minister had communicated with them, he would know.
Mr. E. Ryan: Maybe you have knowledge of what is going on at present.
Mr. Blaney: Let us not get away from An Bord Gráin. The NFA, and no other organisation, had any pre-emptive rights in regard to the selection of that board.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: Legal rights.
Mr. Blaney: Pre-emptive rights.
Professor Quinlan: In other words, this is ministerial discretion.
An Cathaoirleach: The Chair understands that Senators made charges against the Minister. The Minister is entitled to reply to those charges, without interruption. I call upon the Minister.
Mr. Blaney: Here we have an organisation who, for their own good reasons, declared non-co-operation with the Department of Agriculture and yet we have people nominated by the NFA on An Bord Gráin and on other boards. It is very strange that their non-co-operation did not reach out to the boards during the past six months. This is a question which possibly Senator Quinlan will answer to himself—why the non-co-operation in everything but apparently it did not extend to the members of boards?
The second thing is that this board is there to do a job which is concerned mainly with farmers and pig feeders. Do I put people on it whose organisation has declared itself to be in the non-co-operative mood in so far as my Department is concerned or do I choose farmers' representatives who are prepared to co-operate? I chose the latter because I want the board to work.
Mr. Rooney: Are they farmers, now, or representatives? The Minister says they are farmers' representatives but are they farmers?
Mr. Blaney: They are representative of farmers.
Mr. Rooney: That is the point.
Mr. Blaney: It is not the point. However, this is really what it boils down to. Do we put people on the board merely because they were on it in the past who belong to an organisation who, since almost ten months, have been embarking on a campaign which included their declared non-co-operation with the Department of Agriculture? Do I continue those people on that organisation voluntarily, which is what I should have to do if I were to do it——
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: Yes, if the Minister had any decency——
Mr. Blaney: ——or do I choose people who are representative of the farming community and who I know will co-operate with the Department of Agriculture?
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: With the Minister.
Mr. Blaney: Exactly.
Mr. O'Quigley: Is this the Minister's idea of democracy?
Mr. Blaney: The Senator's idea of democracy is that somebody should walk on my face and, if I had two sides to my face—as some Senators have— that they should walk on the other side as well.
Mr. O'Quigley: Turn the other cheek.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: That is Christianity.
Mr. Blaney: I am dealing with the Department of Agriculture.
Mr. O'Quigley: On a point of order, I think, in fairness to those Members concerned who are not here to defend themselves, it should be pointed out that at all times they have discharged their functions as members of An Bord Gráin to the satisfaction of everybody.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: What does the Senator know?
Mr. Dolan: How is Senator Quinlan to judge?
Mr. Blaney: The Senator has raised this matter. Does he want to muddy the water further? I put on people who represent farming interests, who are prepared, to my knowledge, to co-operate with the Department of Agriculture, with the Minister for Agriculture and with the Government of this country in the interests of the farming community. Why should I not put those people on instead of putting on people who have been declared by their association to be non-co-operative in so far as the Government and the policy of the Department of Agriculture are concerned? I have no apologies to make for those changes.
Mr. Rooney: They are not farmers.
Mr. Blaney: This is not to be interpreted, as Senator Quinlan would like it to be interpreted, as merely a means of carrying on a vendetta. I have every right and reason to do what I have done and I have no apologies to make in the matter.
An Cathaoirleach: Perhaps I might inquire if the Seanad wishes to suspend business as it is now 6.5 p.m. or would Senators prefer to continue until the Final Stage is completed?
Mr. Blaney: How long the Minister will speak depends to a very great degree on how many further questions are asked by the Opposition that are not really relevant to the Bill and to which he is pressed to give an answer.
Mr. Malone: The Minister should now hold out the hand of friendship to the new president of the NFA.
An Cathaoirleach: Perhaps the House would now get away from that matter.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: Perhaps the Minister would.
Mr. Blaney: Why will Senators not be a little more original? This is another leader writer that has prompted Senator Malone. There is another leader written on this. I want now to come to the membership not only of An Bord Gráin but to that of An Foras Talúntais: this was mentioned also. Apart from the staff, there are no permanent posts in An Foras Talúntais.  Membership of the council has changed very substantially over the nine years of its operation. There were three three-years periods during which the council has been in existence. Only one of the university nominees has been a member for each of the three periods and he has now been replaced so there is no university professor who has carried through into the fourth term. Only one of the four university nominees for the current period was a member during 1964 to 1967 and none of them was a member during the previous period 1961 to 1964. That concerns the universities.
Only one of the five nominees of the agricultural and rural organisations on the present council—Mr. J. Finn—has been a member of the council in the past. Two of the five nominees who have been elected to this council are prominent officers of the NFA. On the previous council, that is, up to a few weeks ago, none of the representatives representing the agricultural and rural organisations was prominent in NFA affairs at all. Of the outgoing ordinary members of the last council, only one —Mr. Buttimer—could be said to be a prominent NFA figure. On this occasion, they have more than one. For the benefit of the leader writer, Fr. Collins, a very worthwhile member of this council for a number of years, can hardly be regarded as an NFA person. I do not think he was associated as such. For the information of those who would now criticise the present Minister, he was a Government appointee to An Foras Talúntais during the period he was there.
There has always been a chief agricultural officer on the council of An Foras Talúntais. We had a Mr. T. Connolly and a Mr. S. O'Donoghue in the past. Mr. J.J. Gallen's appointment retains the position of having a chief agricultural officer on the council who I think is a very useful man to have there. The appointments of two officers of the Department of Agriculture on the present council, instead of one, will enable my Department to keep in closer touch with the work of the institute. This is something that most people concerned about An Foras Talúntais would agree with. We  need closer touch between An Foras Talúntais and the Department in a really working way. In my estimation, there is no better way of achieving this than to have two officers of my Department on the actual council, and this I have done. One only is a replacement of an outsider. The other is a replacement of an officer of my Department who has been on the council for many years and who has been excused from going on it this time and is replaced by another officer. Now, the chairman, Mr. Litton, was chairman for nine years and during that time he gave great service to the council. I think that the new chairman who has now been appointed, Dr. Ó Tuama, will bring a fresh approach to the work of this council. He has a great deal to contribute and this is no harm in an organisation in which research is really their job and the work of which can be of such great importance in the future to the whole community.
The point I want to make here, as nobody else did, is that the NFA as such have two clearly identified people on the new council. They had one on the last council. How did they come to have two members on the council? It was by virtue of the fact that there are elections by certain organisations, whom the Minister indicates will elect a certain number of people. There are five groups of five, 25 organisations, and out of these five people are elected. Of the five two are prominent NFA people as against only one on the last council. I could have changed the panels if I wanted to have a vendetta with the NFA. This was a matter that came within my discretion to do but I did not do it. I did not make any changes in any way or try to interfere with them in any way. This is true. Why do you not look at the thing fairly? Why do you not look at it straight instead of in the jaundiced way in which Fine Gael look at these things? Senator Quinlan with his complaints does not help things but I hope to help the Senator to get rid of that jaundice and to look at things in their proper context. As I say, they have their members on the council. This was done by election and I could have,  if I was interested in unseating the NFA, as Fine Gael would suggest, taken certain steps which might have made it very difficult, if not impossible, for them to have got one member elected, never mind two. The Senator would make it appear that anything I could do to knock the NFA I have done.
An Cathaoirleach: Would Senators allow the Minister to continue?
Mr. Blaney: The Pigs and Bacon Commission is the third body at issue. Again, there is a certain system of election here and through that system one NFA man out of two people who were up for election was elected. One was an NFA man and the other, I think, would be described as an ICMSA man. In that regard they had their man elected on to the commission and the only nomination I make is and must be an officer of my Department, which I have done. I have taken no steps to try to rig the election against the NFA which, if we are to believe all we hear from over there, I must have been trying to do, but that shows that I was not because I was otherwise engaged. The fact that the NFA got one out of two on offer elected, the other going to the ICMSA, seems to have been a fair enough out-turn of that election.
I hope that Senator Quinlan will go a little more deeply into this matter and perhaps remove from his mind the unholy thoughts he has expressed with regard to the representations that have compelled the Minister, according to him, to make these changes and to see that what I have done I have done in the clear light of day. In regard to the Grain Board, I made appointments because I wanted people on it who were prepared to co-operate. I did not appoint people belonging to an organisation whose avowed policy has been that of non-co-operation with my Department. I do not think there can be anything regarded as unfair or discriminating as far as the elections to the other two organisations are concerned. I could have, if I so wished, brought about a situation wherein the election to these bodies might not  have enabled the NFA to have much say in them but I did not stir a finger to do so. They got two men elected where they had one before and one where they had one before.
I should like to square that account with Senator Quinlan and anybody outside who may have read him or believed him. In regard to the regulations which Senator Quinlan mentioned, I have promised consultation with the marts associations and also with the NAC. This, again, is a matter in relation to which I have gone to seek the advice, help and experience of people in the business. Surely that is not the act of a man who wishes to by-pass those people and interests and not to acknowledge that they have anything to contribute. They have promised co-operation and I am glad to have it and between them and my Department we can do a good job on the regulations which will make the Bill effective and useful to an even greater degree than if we were to make the regulations solely on our own.
Senator FitzGerald also mentioned the appointments to the boards. He made the queer suggestion that these appointments, about which I have spoken at length, did not help the discussion on this Bill. All I can take from that is confirmation of the fact that what we have been discussing has not been the Bill——
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: Not for the last half hour.
Mr. Blaney: For the last three, four, five, six, or seven weeks. This suggestion by the Senator would only copperfasten that belief, that we were not really concerned with the Bill; we were discussing appointments which have nothing to do with the contents of the Bill. He held out the hope that the dangers inherent in the Bill will have been so highlighted by this very learned discussion over these weeks that the dangers are unlikely to be realised, that by our discussion here and elsewhere, the teeth have been withdrawn from this dangerous Bill— although we have not changed it. If discussion at this length can do it, then it can be said to be worthwhile. It is  a thought that can console those who have had to stay here against their will, that a lengthy discussion brought about the situation that the dangers in the Bill, as expressed by Fine Gael, are now unlikely to emerge because of what was said here. That is a consolation to those who have had the comeback to oppose the Bill even though they may not have been opposed to it. A ludicrous sort of approach was that although it was debated fully, and I think it was also suggested it was debated fairly, this is a bad time of year, that it is out of season to bring Bills to the Seanad. What time of year would the Seanad wish to have a discussion on Bills? Is it not that they discuss them as soon as they are presented to them, or as soon thereafter as is convenient to them? When the Dáil goes into recess, invariably there is some carry-over of legislation to the Seanad.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: Non-controversial.
Mr. Blaney: This would have been non-controversial if you people had not made it otherwise. We cannot judge when Fine Gael are likely to change their minds about things. Looking back over the years, we had every reason to believe that this would be non-controversial, judging by the Fine Gael attitude in the past to measures of a similar nature. I would suggest you look up the measures you supported in the past and what some of you said about them and try to square that with what you said against similar terms used in this Bill. I think this suggestion of its being now out of season in the Seanad is all wrong. The suggestion that any carry-over from the Dáil could have been left for the Seanad to deal with next term, that that would have facilitated a great number of people, is something I do not agree with. I do not think that any time would have been gained for the working of either House by having the Seanad closed at the same time as the Dáil and that business left over from the Dáil should be held in abeyance until the Dáil and Seanad meet again in October.
If we did not do this Bill now and  if Fine Gael were of the same mind next October and November, we would not do anything next term except this Bill. Then all the things Fine Gael complain about being neglected would be further neglected and could not be taken until the following spring. I cannot see why they should complain about things not being done. If there are certain things you feel have been delayed because of the slow-moving nature of this Bill, to put the Bill back until the autumn would not help at all because it would still be in front of us. Unless we were to wipe it out ourselves—I think it was the fond notion of Fine Gael that this would happen, that it would melt away if we left it in cold storage for the summer and that it would not be there in the autumn—this is childish, as most Fine Gael people will now agree, because it would have been there and it would have taken up time in the autumn that could be usefully used on the other measures Fine Gael are talking about. Therefore, it is better to get done with it now so that when we come back we can get on with these other supposedly more important measures the Fine Gael people talk about. I would not suggest there is a season in which we should not discuss things in the Seanad and discuss them as fully as we have discussed this measure.
This Bill is now going through, despite all the protests of Fine Gael. How they gave force to their opposition is rather illuminating. Let us take a random look at some of the divisions. This is surely the crucial test in a democracy—how people turn up for the divisions as distinct from how they turn up for the speeches they make one day, then hurry off either to their businesses or holidays and come back the following week repeating the same sort of thing and disappearing immediately again after making their speeches. Section 1 of the Bill was opposed tooth and nail—whose tooth and whose nail, I am not quite sure. The division on the section was 28 for and eight against. Where is the consistent opposition of Fine Gael there? Whom do Fine Gael think they are codding about their opposition to this measure?
Mr. Prendergast: Whether it was 28 to eight or not, it would have been defeated.
Mr. Blaney: That is a defeatist attitude. Surely, in those circumstances, it would have sufficed to have left Senator Rooney in isolation on the Front Bench merely saying “No” all the time. We should have got through the Bill much more quickly. If it were merely a question of saying “No” and calling a division, Senator Rooney could have shown a token opposition. Senator Prendergast asks what is the point of being here if we are going to be beaten anyway. What is the point in wasting the time of the House?
Mr. Prendergast: It is your problem.
Mr. Blaney: If one follows Senator Prendergast's argument to its logical conclusion, is it not a waste of the time of the House to be having divisions when, in fact, you know you are going to be beaten? Would it not be better in every way if we had just Senator Rooney going on record as voicing Fine Gael's opposition tooth and nail to every line and word in this Bill? This would save the time of a lot of people here and would have the same effect, since Senator Prendergast says that numbers do not matter. On section 2 there was another division and the voting was 28 to 13. On section 3 it was 29 to 13.
Professor Quinlan: On a point of order, Sir, is this in order at this stage?
Mr. O'Quigley: It is all out of order —an open range.
Mr. Blaney: It is alarming that at the end of this measure the total opposition of Fine Gael got the headlines but their actual performance shows a ratio of 3 or 3½ to 1 against them. Where have they been during these votes? Why this total opposition when, in fact, the members of Fine Gael did not have the courage of their convictions to be here to vote in keeping with the opinions they expressed on the Bill? We are entitled to have an answer to that.
Mr. Prendergast: The Minister's view is : you dare not oppose.
Mr. Blaney: I do not purport to read the minds of Fine Gael, but I would say that the public are entitled to an explanation from Fine Gael for the great outburst of opposition to this measure and the poor performance of the Fine Gael Senators in the division lobbies. If you do not vote for your point of view, how can you possibly expect to get it?
Mr. Prendergast: We have not the right to nominate 11 people who will vote with us.
Mr. Blaney: These Fine Gael people may speak against the Bill but when it comes to the few minutes it takes to be in the division lobbies they are not here. Who is going to believe them in future? It is serious for an Opposition Party, which seems to be the permanent role of Fine Gael, that they are not keeping their trust.
Professor Quinlan: On a point of order, Sir, is this in order at this stage?
An Cathaoirleach: The Minister, to continue on the Bill.
Mr. Garret FitzGerald: On the Bill.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: This is on the Bill.
Mr. Rooney: Have we not heard enough?
Mr. Blaney: Judging by the manner in which you have not improved in your utterances over the past week, you cannot possibly have heard enough. It is one of the conundrums of this whole measure, even in the other House, but particularly here, that we had this total opposition in word but not in action. The people are entitled to know what has happened to Fine Gael. Have they lost their conviction that this Bill is as bad as they have been saying? Do they now see the folly of their ways and realise that what they have been saying is not true? Do they begin to see the light at last, that this Bill, in fact, represents an opportunity to help the farming community  and that it will do just that in the future and that Fine Gael are going to be found out, and that they are trying to mend their ways by at least being able to say: “Though I spoke against it, I did not vote against it.” Maybe this is the alibi and, if so, the people will discern this very soon.
I am very glad that, with all the time it has taken, the two Houses of the Oireachtas have seen fit to give that time to enable us to enact this measure, to put it on the Statute Book, and that we can get it into operation in the very near future. The question has been asked, and I cannot give an absolute definite answer, when will the Bill come into operation. The licensing provision, which is the main provision contained in section 2, will be brought in without very much delay.
The regulations will require some further time because of not only the drafting but the consultations that I have promised with these other associations—the Associated Marts and the IAOS. These people have to be consulted. They will have additions, possibly, and amendments that they will be able to suggest from their long experience that will be very useful in these regulations. It is very difficult to say at this stage how long this may take but it will take no longer than is reasonably possible to get the thing through and the regulations will come so soon as we possibly can get this sort of thing done.
Finally, in regard to something that Senator Quinlan said—he seems to have a little record of it that he plays out loud to the rest—that this is some sort of attack on the co-operative movement. We hear the name Plunkett mentioned and all sorts of things like that and suggestions that we are striking at the roots of democracy and at the whole concept of freedom and the Republic. Listening to the Senator, if one did not know his voice well and could not identify him, one could only come away with the belief that this was the great protector of the Republic in so far as this country is concerned. In so far as marts are concerned, is it conceivable that the Senator is not aware that out of the 95 marts, give or take a  few, more than 50 per cent are, in fact, not co-operative, that the last figures I can get, and I can only rely on a publication issued by the Associated Livestock Marts—that is the private group—show that out of 95—whatever time that was; it is only a very recent publication—55 were, in fact, privately owned? That left the smaller “half”, as one might say, of the 95 in co-operative hands. How, then, can one stand up, as Senator Quinlan has on more than one occasion, and assert that this is directed at the annihilation of the whole principles of co-operation? Surely, if it annihilates one, it will annihilate the other. Quite candidly, I do not follow the Senator when he says it will in any way negative the sense of co-operation that already exists. Nor will it in any way reduce the activities of co-operatives in the future. Rather should I see this measure as being an assistance towards co-operative development of marts where they are not yet established.
There is no better way to ensure this than by having the powers within this Bill to ensure that there will not be unfair competition brought into play, that there will not be large combines allowed to come along and sort of close up a local poor co-operative mart by a group that could not afford severe competition by some group who may feel “If we drive these out, we will be on to a good thing”. The terms of the Bill can be used to protect the co-operative in such circumstances. The Bill can be used to their very great benefit in these circumstances. The Senator should have further thought of what this Bill can do by way of help to these people rather than continue to harp on the great damage it will do, without backing up that assertion by any concrete case.
I cannot see what particular role Senator Quinlan plays in the community or in this House, what special position he has to talk from a lofty eminence in regard to matters of co-operatives and the co-operative movement and those who helped to found the whole concept of co-operatives. May be there is something in his makeup  or background. Maybe something we cannot see and that I am ignorant of entitles him to be the protector, not only of the Republic, not only of democracy in this country, but of the co-operative movement.
Professor Quinlan: As an elected Senator, I am entitled to voice my opinions.
Mr. Blaney: Of course, I am not in the slightest degree suggesting that the Senator is not entitled to do that and nobody here during all his contributions has ever suggested otherwise than that he had a perfect right but I am somewhat puzzled as to whether there is a reason why Senator Quinlan in particular should appear to talk here from an eminence, as it were, as the protector of the co-operative movement as well as of the democracy, as well as the protector of our Republic. This is all I am asking and I am not belittling the Senator's contributions. I am merely seeking information that may have eluded me in some way or another and which I should like to have filled in.
Professor Quinlan: In reply, I am speaking merely as a democrat.
Tomás Ó Maoláin: Ali Baba who discovered the magic words.
Mr. Blaney: This is, at least, informing me that I have not been remiss in any way, that there is nothing particular about Senator Quinlan that entitles him to talk differently or to talk as the sort of protector of these three great institutions—democracy, the Republic and the co-operative society. This I am satisfied to know because I thought I had missed something along the line.
Concluding on this measure, may I say what I set out to say but got diverted somewhat on the way, that I am, indeed, thankful to the two Houses of the Oireachtas for giving me so much of their time, for whatever may have been the motive, and for discussing this Bill as no Bill of this type has ever been discussed before, a discussion that has highlighted the shortcomings of similar Bills in the past, that has shown up inconsistency  of those who criticised this and supported that in the days gone by and have no apologies to make for their change of mind or any explanation to give for it. This long-drawn-out debate has shown that inconsistency is rampant and rife in so far as the opposition to this Bill is concerned and, being the sort of institution where you do not use quite the same terms as we did in another one, I will be more charitable than in the other House in describing it and merely leave it at “inconsistency”. Inconsistency has been shown to exist,  particularly in Fine Gael, who put through measures of this nature in the past, spoke for them, voted for them, and gave on this occasion total opposition and no explanation to the public. I think the public are asking why and are entitled to know why and will give their own answer in their own time as to what they think about the performance of Fine Gael in this matter.
Mr. O'Quigley: A disgraceful performance by the Minister.
The Seanad divided: Tá: 26; Níl: 15.
Brennan, John J.
Cole, John C.
Connolly O'Brien, Nora.
Eachthéirn, Cáit Uí.
Egan, Kieran P.
Honan, Dermot P.
|Martin, James J.
Ó Donnabháin, Seán.
Ó Maoláin, Tomás.
O'Reilly, Patrick (Longford).
Ryan, Patrick W.
Teehan, Patrick J.
|Conlan, John F.
FitzGerald, Garret M.D.
Murphy, Dominick F.
O'Reilly, Patrick (Cavan).
O'Sullivan, Denis J.
Prendergast, Micheál A.
Quinlan, Patrick M.
Tellers:—Tá: Senators Browne and Farrell; Níl: Senators McDonald and Malone.
Question declared carried.
An Cathaoirleach: Sar a gcuirfidh mé an Seanad ar athló, guím saoire shona do na Seanadóirí agus do na hoifigí.
The Seanad adjourned at 6.50 p.m. sine die.
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