Agriculture (Research, Training and Advice) Bill, 1988: Second Stage (Resumed).

Wednesday, 1 June 1988

Seanad Eireann Debate
Vol. 119 No. 17

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Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

Mr. B. Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Before the debate adjourned I was referring to the mythology, and it is probably the worst pun one could think of, that agriculture is a sacred cow which is not permitted to be subjected to rational and dispassionate analysis. That is the way it appears; otherwise I could not understand why the apparent army of economists who have lectured this country about waste, inefficiency, poor markets, poor marketing, and in particular market rigidities within the labour market — which, of course, is newspeak for excessively high wages or trade unions that are too powerful — have directed their analysis at the manufacturing industry and the services area, both in the private sector and in the public sector, but no similar ruthless cost-benefit analysis has ever been done of what masquerades as an industry under the heading of agriculture.

I mentioned earlier the inefficiencies that are built into agriculture. We should remember that we produce milk for which there is no market; we produce [1801] butter for which there is no market; and we produce cheese for which there is no market. Indeed, it has been outside the mainstream agricultural industry that the greater part of the cheese industry, which actually is a competitive industry, has developed. It has not happened within the mainstream of agriculture. We produce beef for which there is no market. We do not — and I know that the Minister who is present is attempting to do something about this — produce those products for which there is a market — for example, vegetables and horticultural products.

It is astonishing that New Zealand, the same size as Ireland, can produce lamb, ship it half way around the world and apparently, if they were allowed, sell it cheaper than the meat we produce for continental Europe. Somebody ought to look at the facts about the agriculture industry in New Zealand so that a number of pet Irish myths about agriculture could be disposed of, the myth that farming is somehow a mysterious semi-black art which can best be done by those who have inherited from their parents the black magic of how to be a good farmer. The truth is that agriculture, properly done, is a business like every other business and can be run by a competent person in the way a person who graduates from university can run an engineering business, a chemical manufacturing business, a pharmaceutical manufacturing business or any other business. There are no mysteries and there are no black arts involved. Agriculture is a business and it ought to be seen and treated as such.

One of the characteristics of New Zealand agriculture is that an astonishingly large proportion of the people in the farming sector come from a non-farming background and go into farming as a career choice after they leave school or college. It is astonishing that we have no third level professional qualification equivalent to a degree in farming. One can get a degree in agricultural science, a qualification for those who are going to instruct farmers. To most Irish people it is almost a contradiction to talk in terms [1802] of a third level degree which would qualify somebody to be a farmer in the way that I did a third level degree to qualify as a chemical engineer or somebody else did to qualify as a doctor or a solicitor. Of course, if we were talking about a real business which competed in a real world of real prices and real markets that is the orientation we would have; but because what we have is so different one cannot invest in education for something which does not really exist, and the industry of agriculture does not exist. What we have is an expensive and expansive and — for those who benefit from it — a relatively comfortable rural welfare organisation which masquerades under the title of an industry. It needs to be dealt with at root and branch. That which agriculture is most given to lecturing the rest of us about — the benefits of the free market — ought to be experienced by agriculture for about ten years. If the people in Irish agriculture and European agriculture were to have about ten years of market forces and market competition they would appreciate more the sort of advice they are prepared to hand out to everybody else.

We cannot go on producing products, irrespective of market demand, at guaranteed prices. There is no point in imagining that what we have achieved at this stage can be retained. The tide of European opinion on the Common Agricultural Policy is shifting and we are going to have to shift with it. Can anybody imagine what would be said if, in our present financial crisis, a manufacturing industry which employed 20 per cent of our population, which produced something that nobody wanted to buy and which was dependent on guaranteed prices, was funded by the European Community to keep it going? Every economist in the country would be outraged, up in arms and telling us that this was artificial, unreal, an inefficient use of resources, and was so subsidy ridden that it would be impossible to make a decent economic cost-benefit analysis of what it was actually contributing to the country. Economists would, therefore, denounce it and the Government would begin to [1803] renounce it, in the way that the Government are withdrawing from most other areas of support for industry. Of course, if the industry remained inefficient they could always blame the unions. One of the great problems farmers have is that they cannot blame the trades unions for their own ineptitudes and, therefore, they pick on alleged trades union ineptitudes elsewhere.

The problem with Irish agriculture is that it is large, powerful and appallingly inefficient. It is not inefficient in the sense of its capacity to produce those goods for which there are guaranteed prices but it is inefficient in its capacity to produce goods for which there is a market, and that is quite different. That is what a real agricultural industry should be about. It should be about doing that which everybody recognises all productive sectors must do — produce products which a willing consumer wants to buy at a price which is attractive to the producer. Irish agriculture has singularly failed to do that. It is time that problem was confronted.

It is ludicrous to talk about increasing milk production and beef production in that context.

It has been a long held view of mine that there is an unwillingness to confront the inherent inefficiencies in agriculture. It is important to say that our agricultural land is perhaps the most important natural resource this country has. It is a fundamental, an non-expandable resource and it is, therefore, a resource that cannot be treated as a commodity to be bought and sold in the same way as other commodities, the supply of which can respond to demand. Therefore, it needs to be said that nobody can claim absolute ownership to a national resource like agriculture. It has to be also said that those who are either unwilling or unable to make proper use of such a fundamental natural resource should be encouraged to find some other form of activity and should be given an income which will encourage them to find some other form of activity. I do not believe anybody is entitled to live on or off the land in a way [1804] which does not use that resource to the maximum benefit of our society. If land is to be used it must be used in a way so that it will produce products which can be sold on the international market.

It is a matter of inevitability, whether it be in the short or longer term, that Irish agriculture and European agriculture will be exposed to market forces and to competitive forces, as Europe becomes more and more obsessed with internal free markets and internal competition. As a socialist I could defend the Common Agricultural Policy if the people who were defending it shared a philosophical value about the necessity of guaranteed prices and guaranteed food supplies. But since most of those who vigorously defend the Common Agricultural Policy would vigorously condemn a separate policy elsewhere, I find it impossible to any longer give my support to the Common Agricultural Policy.

Nevertheless, land is a major resource and it must be used. The only way to bring about the proper use of our land resources is through research and development and, on the basis of that research and development, training and the development of new markets. I regard agriculture, as it currently stands, as a non-industry with no future and it is in that context that the question of agricultural research must be addressed. It is quite clear that, if that non-industry is to be brought into a competitive position, new products and, therefore, new markets will have to be developed. That can only be done through an investment in research. The idea that a mysterious entrepreneur can sniff the wind and think up a new product and miraculously create it into something that can be sold in the market place is a little bit of free market nonsense that does not really exist. Those countries and industries which have been successful at developing new products, successful at maintaining their position in the market place and successful in their attempts to expand their share of the market have done it by planned and considerable investment in research.

What do we find here? According to the most recent estimates there will be a [1805] cut back of the order of a 43 per cent in the budget available for the new agency, Teagasc.

While I am on the question of the new agency, there are a couple of matters of detail on which I should like the Minister to tell me I am wrong so that he can give me the correct figures. A 43 per cent reduction implies, if it is evenly spread, a reduction in the combined staff of AFT and ACOT from 2,200 to about 1,200. There will be about 1,000 reduction in staff if the 43 per cent budget cut is sustained. It is interesting that the Department of Agriculture are subject to a 5 per cent reduction in their expenditure. It is interesting also that nobody can apparently persuade the Minister or the Department to tell us whether an audit of the efficiency of the Department has been conducted, whether that audit has indicated if the Department are over-staffed or understaffed and what, if anything, it is proposed to do about the alleged overstaffing.

I do not think public servants should be made redundant. Our public service is too small and it is not properly organised, adequate or sufficiently extensive. I stand over that, and I want to remind the House that the Economic and Social Research Institute have concluded that and solution to Irish unemployment must involve an extension or expansion of the public service. I am simply contrasting the reduction in the budget of an important area of development in agriculture — that is ACOT and AFT — with the relatively small contraction in the administration of agriculture via the Department of Agriculture. I am not suggesting that anybody in the Department of Agriculture should be made redundant. I do not believe in that. The present scheme of public service redundancies must be the most wasteful use of public money that this country has seen since the great election give-away of 1977, because we are going to spend a fortune in paying people to do nothing. That is the greatest and most ludricous farce this country will ever have been confronted with. I do not believe in that and I do not think it should [1806] have been introduced. I am not suggesting that it should be introduced now but I am simply contrasting the budget cutbacks for the new agency with the budget cutback for the Department of Agriculture.

The figures I have suggest that so far there have been between 450 and 500 voluntary redundancies in the two agencies. The disturbing feature about the figures I have at my disposal is that there have been about two voluntary redundancies in AFT for every one in ACOT. In other words, about 300 people have left AFT and about 150 have left ACOT. That means that the most fundamental area of Irish agricultural development and the one we most desperately need if we are ever to have an agricultural industry, which we do not have at present, is the one which has suffered most severely from the indiscriminate voluntary redundancies that seem to characterise this shift in employment in the public sector.

These figures also show that in 1982 there were about 250 people employed by AFT in Moorepark but that by October last year that number had been reduced to 193 and by June of this year the number will be down to 142. This has happened in an area which is central to research and the dairy industry. Is that an indication that the reality that there is no future for dairying I mentioned has dawned or is it simply the usual sort of thing that seems to characterise many of our cutbacks — an unwillingness to think through at all levels and to take clear-cut policy decisions which would be implemented? It is astonishing that the major centre of dairy research should have suffered a 40 per cent reduction in staff between 1982 and 1988. I find that extremely disturbing.

I want to refer to one specific area which was referred to in some detail in the farming column in The Irish Press, EC Directive 85/397 on mastitis control, which will be effective next year. It is suggested that if the EC standard was implemented about 30 per cent of milk producers would fail to meet its requirements and their products could not be [1807] sold. That could cost us up to £250 million and could put the best part of 5,000 jobs at risk. Obviously the control of mastitis is extremely important for the future of the dairy industry in the short term — and I do not believe that in its present form it can have any future in the long term. The farming column also states that three people who specialised in the area of mastitis control were employed at Moorepark, one of whom was responsible for the development of proper standards of milking equipment, particularly for imported machines. I am not a specialist in this area but I understand that the kind of milking machine used, and its care and maintenance, have a critical role in the spread and development of mastitis. Those three people have now left the service of An Foras Talúntais and this means, because a critical standard of mastitis control has to be met within the next 12 to 18 months, that there will be no expertise in the one area of research and development which could have educated, organised and developed standards, etc. If the Minister says he is confident that he has the resources within his Department to do this I think, without wanting to be offensive, that the Irish nation, in the light of the debacle of bovine tuberculosis eradication, has the right to be sceptical about such an assertion. That sort of mindless cutting back of public expenditure — not to achieve any clear objective but to meet an ideological target of reduction in the public service per se— even if it does not save a penny, which in my view it does not do, is going to devastate a large section of Irish industry and we are going to have a similar debacle to that which we all associate now with the elimination of bovine tuberculosis.

There is a serious crisis facing Irish agriculture, but I have not a scrap of evidence which shows that the industry, whatever about the Minister or the Department, are prepared to face up to it. People still apparently believe that they can use their considerable political clout to intimidate whoever happens to be Minister for Agriculture and Food to [1808] go on looking for more money to produce the same things which fewer people want to buy. As a result of this more of these products are accumulating in storage all over Europe. That is not a response to changing markets; it is not the response of a vibrant industry; and it is not the response of a self-reliant sector of our economy who are competing in the open market. It has all the characteristics of dependency, handouts and of everything that many people in agriculture are prepared to attribute to other sectors of our society. The greatest receivers and demanders of State hand-outs in our society are the agricultural community and until such time as that is brought to an end there will be no real vibrant agriculture industry in our society. That is the context in which this Bill needs to be judged because it will do nothing to develop vibrant alternative products, or achieve high levels of added value products and agriculture related food-based products.

I want to refer to an article by Professor Cunningham of An Foras Talúntais in the January, 1988 edition of the Food and Research Journal. That factual information in the article needs to be addressed the most, because Professor Cunningham refers to expenditure on research as a percentage of the value of agricultural production. He shows that our level of investment on that index is well below that of most of our partners in the European Communities and is more on a par with countries like, and I quote “Algeria, Turkey and Nigeria”. Do we really accept that what we have is a Third World agricultural economy, or are we talking about an agricultural economy which is actually part of the most developed agricultural industry in the world? If we are, then it is quite clear that all our partners in Northern Europe who are in the European Communities have recognised that there is only one way to develop agriculture and that is to invest heavily in research. I emphasise the word “research” because one of the other disturbing characteristics of Irish expenditure is that we actually expend proportionately more on training than we [1809] do on research. I would have thought that at this stage in our development, and after almost 20 years within the European Communities, we would have sufficient levels of skill in agriculture to be able to begin to shift our resources out of training and into fundamental research and development in order to give a future to what I have already described, and will continue to describe, as a “non-industry”. In other words, we should start producing products that can be sold.

Underlying the dubious values of combining these two agencies, something that is unprecedented in Europe, is the more fundamental threat contained in the reduction in the budget of the combined agencies. Nobody could convince me that that is not going to be at the expense of the development of agriculture. Unfortunately, in recent years our attitude to our physical environment, to developments in education and to industrial policy has been characterised by the notion that if we ignore something it will probably go away. That seems to characterise our attitude to official agricultural policy also. The Government and the major Opposition party believe we have to fight to defend the Common Agricultural Policy at all costs and hope for the best after that. That is not policy; that is putting your head in the sand mentality and hoping it will go away. The Common Agricultural Policy is effectively on its way out. It will be reduced in either absolute terms or real terms and Irish farmers will be the victims. There will be, as many of us involved in the Single European Act referendum predicted, a transfer of resources out of the Common Agricultural Policy into the increased Regional and Social Funds. Farming and farmers will be the victims and yet again farmers will become impoverished, dependent and will not have the resources to develop a vibrant industry. I do not think there is anything in this Bill which gives any hope that we will have a real vibrant agricultural industry.

There are a number of areas of the Bill which could be elaborated on. It is indicative of the real thinking behind this [1810] Bill that the official name in Irish bears no reference to the importance of research. Teagasc is the Irish word for instruction or teaching. Clearly, it does not involve research, because “taighde” is the Irish word for research. An amendment was put down in the other House to change the name of the body to An Comhairle Oiliúna Teagasc agus Taighde. Those who drafted this Bill and those who brought it in obviously did not regard research with the same importance as they regarded training. This is a national characteristic. We are not particularly heavy investors in research. The smaller countries of Europe have a heavier investment in research than we have and those which have per capita GNPs that compare with the best in the world have substantial investments in research. There is only one form of investment in research, and that is State investment. Members might not like that particular emphasis, but if they read OECD reports they will see that, effectively, all research is State funded — it is either funded directly by the State or it is funded indirectly by the State as tax write-offs.

There is a philosophical deficiency in this Bill which is crystalised by the absence of any reference to research in the official title of the new body. It would have been no problem to change the name to, for instance, An Foras Taighde and Teagasc, AFTT, so that it would have not been very different from the name An Foras Talúntáis. I have listened to many of the speeches made here and there seems to be a far greater concern about the instruction element of this new agency than there is about the research element, whereas I believe there is no point anymore in instructing more Irish farmers on how to produce more goods that nobody wants to buy. What we need to do is develop more new products other people want to buy at a price that is worthwhile to us. Of course, that area is being played down in this Bill. For instance, the Bill makes no reference to the publication of research findings and there is no obligation on Teagasc to publish anything. As Professor Cunningham [1811] says in the same paper, the only guarantee of quality in research, as distinct from quantity, is publication in refereed journals from outside the country. That is the only way one can have a guarantee that research is of an internationally acceptable standard. This Bill does not require Teagasc to publish anything. I find it an astonishing omission that whoever drafted this Bill — it is the Minister's responsibility at this stage — did not apparently either appreciate or have available to him the advice to enable him to appreciate the importance of publishing research material. Research which is not published, which is not internally refereed and which is not meeting international standards is entirely worthless, not because of the quality of the people but because there is no international yardstick against which it can be judged. That is the first amendment I would like to see in this Bill. It is a simple amendment to ensure that as far as possible all research done by this body, Teagasc, ought to be published. It is remarkable that it has not got such a reference in it.

Secondly, I find it astonishing that we have the extraordinarily heavily worded section 14 on disclosure of information. Disclosure of information seems to be a pet obsession of parliamentary draftspersons in my time in this House because the wording of section 14 is as follows:

A person shall not, without the consent of Teagasc, disclose any information obtained by him while performing duties as a member, or member of the staff of ... Teagasc.

I do not want to get involved in a tiff, but I would like to hear the Minister's views on it. I would like to know how that will affect, in particular, a member of a trade union working for Teagasc who gets involved in a Labour Court dispute about, for instance, conditions of employment, work practices, changes in job description, etc. In regard to anything that he knows about Teagasc, he or she will have to get his or her employer's permission before he can disclose it in [1812] an adversarial confrontation before the Labour Court.

There is no provision in this Bill to allow a member of a trade union to use publicly his knowledge about how Teagasc works, or what his job should be, in a trade union dispute without his being guilty of a criminal offence and subject to a fine of up to £800. I find the philosophy behind that astonishing. I think that it is actually not the intention, but it is one of the things that characterises a considerable amount of legislation that comes into this House — sloppy drafting. The Minister is getting fidgety, so I had better let him go to the Dáil.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Hussey): Information on Thomas Hussey  Zoom on Thomas Hussey  Does the Senator want to continue in the absence of the Minister?

Mr. B. Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  I do not think I will.

Acting Chairman:  I have to ask the acting Leader of the House to propose the adjournment of the House for ten minutes.

Mr. McGowan: Information on Paddy McGowan  Zoom on Paddy McGowan  I propose that we adjourn the House for ten minutes.

Sitting suspended at 8.35 p.m. and resumed at 8.45 p.m.

Mr. B. Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  There are just a couple of other matters. I was emphasising the importance of publication of research. I appeal to the Minister to introduce an amendment, given that he announced on Second Stage that he would introduce an amendment here. It appears there are no administrative or practical problems about accepting further amendments and I believe that an amendment on the question of publication of research is one that deserves serious consideration between now and Committee Stage.

There are a number of other issues. There has been a considerable amount of talk about the name, but I think we have said enough about that. It is extremely important that a provision, similar to that which exists for members of the board of [1813] Eolas, which is the amalgamation of the IRS and the NBST, should be introduced into this Bill. It is astonishing that there is no requirement on members of the board of Teagasc, or members of Teagasc, to make a disclosure of interest where such an interest might arise. For instance, if Teagasc is involved in doing some business with some agency with which the member of Teagasc has a business conncection, then that person should be required to disclose the interest. It would be wrong, improper and a waste of resources to provide that people could not be on the board of Teagasc simply because of that. But they should be required in the wording of the Bill which set up Eolas to declare such an interest and distance themselves from any decision making and that such an interest declared should be recorded in the minutes of Eolas.

I again invite the Minister to consider that, or to explain to me why he does not think it is necessary to have such a provision about disclosure of interest. It is both a healthy and a proper thing. The Minister may say that we can leave it up to the good sense of the people involved, and I am quite sure that is true in most cases. But if it is proper to have a disclosure of interest from the board of one agency dealing with research and development in the area of science and technology then it is quite clearly proper to have a similar requirement to have a disclosure of interest provision in an area dealing with agricultural research and development.

Finally, and at the risk quite clearly of pleading a special interest, which is what I am doing, I would like some member of this or of any Government to explain to me why it is that in every Bill that sets up a State agency there is a secific requirement on Member of the Houses of the Oireachtas or of the European Parliament, if employees of such an agency, that they go on leave. I do not know whether the people who draft legislation realise what the salary of a Member of Seanad Éireann is. The truth is that the salary of a Member of Seanad Éireann is about marginally in excess of the average [1814] male industrial earnings last year; and £10,000 is about the average male industrial earnings.

Every single Bill that comes in here has a provision that anybody who is an employee of an agency like Eolas or like Teagasc or like a long list of others, including the National Institute for Higher Education, must go on full time leave and draw no salary. I do not understand what motivates this. But if the successive Governments and the parliamentary draftspersons all feel that they want full time Members of Seanad Éireann, then Seanad Eireann Members should be paid a full time salary. If, on the other hand, we do not want the Seanad to be a vocational body representing a variety of vocational interests, then let it not be seen to be such.

I find it astonishing that we are to have in this House a panel representing agriculture from which, effectively, most of the specialist employees of the major State agency dealing with agriculture will be excluded because of the fact that nobody working in that sort of area could afford to live on what Seanad Éireann pays. I make no apologies for that.

Probably because I get myself into trouble for criticising politicians for having too much money I might get away with this. I would like the Minister to explain what precisely he means. Does he really mean that a researcher in An Foras Talúntais who is, perhaps, being paid £15,000 to £20,000 a year should accept a halving of his salary to become a member of the Seanad, or is it that this is a little frame of words because the wording verbatim moves from one agency to another? It is simply a decision by somebody somewhere in the offices of the Government that participation in politics and work is a bad thing. The truth is that many large sectors of the private sector in both the United States and Britain encourage participation in politics because they believe it gives an insight into politics and into their own activities. In this country we apparently tell people: “If you want to be a Member of that House of the Oireachtas which is specifically designed to be a vocational body [1815] representing vocational interests, then off you go; we will not sack you; we will be very benevolent but we will not pay you either” even though Seanad Éireann meets for about two days a week for about 40 weeks of the year which is about 80 days a year out of an average working year of about 220 days. You are missing 80 days out of that, one third of the time, and your salary is taken from you. I find that astonishing. I will be introducing amendments to delete the reference to Seanad Éireann and I will introduce amendments on every single Bill that comes from this Government or any other Government who make that ludicrous exclusion. There is a world of difference between membership of either the European Parliament and Dáil Éireann and membership of this House. This House incorporates a variety of people, some of whom have ambitions to be in the other House, many of whom have not, some of whom have party political affiliations, some of whom have not. It ought to be recognised as being different. It is quite clear in the perceptions of many Ministers that it is different and subordinate and, therefore, it ought to be recognised in legislation. I will happily introduce such an amendment on Committee Stage. I would like the Minister to explain in simple English to us how he, who earns well in excess of a Seanad salary, expects employees of Teagasc to live on £10,000 a year if they decide to become Members of Seanad Éireann and, if he does not, why he has such an unsustainable provision inserted into this Bill. If it is not sustainable, I invite him to remove it.

Mr. Cullimore: Information on Séamus Cullimore  Zoom on Séamus Cullimore  I welcome this Bill and I would like to compliment the Minister on his initiative in re-organising the research, education and advice services to the agricultural and food industry. Current national strategies for marketing tourism and food production must capitalise on Ireland's international image as a land of clean air and unpolluted soils and water. In the seventies and early eighties, agricultural policy was directed [1816] towards production with little thought given to factors beyond the farm gate. We are now in an era in which quality rather than quantity determines who is successful in the world food market. Consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in discerning the merits and failings of different patterns of food intake. Chemical and artificial additives in the food chain are now being rigorously examined by consumer protection groups.

The disaster at Chernobyl and constant spillages at Sellafield have brought home to us all the lethal destructive potential of nuclear power. They also demonstrated to us the deficiencies in our environmental monitoring systems. We have seen recent attempts by countries to question the radioactive levels in some of our food exports, for example powdered milk, thereby causing a doubt about the clean status of our environment. It is all very well for us politicians to pontificate about Ireland's clean and unpolluted image when we know in our hearts that at best our position is uncertain. We must be in a position to back up our claims with solid scientific data and to refute those who would sully the clean image of Ireland's food producing capability.

I am glad to report to this House that at present a beginning has been made with regard to a study of the status of our soils, crops and water. This investigation, under the aegis of the Nuclear Energy Board, in collaboration with the soil division of Johnstown Castle Research Centre, County Wexford, is but a first step towards providing the information needed in this critical area. Member states of the EC are becoming more and more concerned about the prospect of nitrate contamination of ground water. The principal factors generally associated with this problem are the application of a high rate of chemical nitrogenous fertilisers and the production of vast amounts of animal manures which result from intensive rearing and feeding systerms. Johnstown Castle Research Centre is currently investigating many of these [1817] vital questions on soil and water pollutants, their causes and effects on the environment. Much research needs to be done on this subject so that the producers, both industrial and agricultural, can be educated and persuaded to assist with our priceless national asset, our clean environment.

I would like to compliment An Foras Talúntais and ACOT on their contribution to Irish agriculture in the past. We are now living in a very challenging time. The open European market is imminent. Competition in the agri-food sector will be cut-throat. Our back-up services must have progressive and aggressive policies to meet and beat these challenges. Bearing this in mind, I urge the Minister to ensure that the management structures within the new Authority are capable of absorbing ideas and initiatives from all sectors of their staff and from the agri-food sector generally.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I regret that we have to speak about a very important legislative matter, which I support, the merger of ACOT and AFT, in the context of a lack of funding for that merger and at a particularly difficult time for agriculture vis-á-vis the national economic scene and the European budgetary scene. The recent severe cuts in the budget of ACOT and AFT raise major issues in relation to public policy. We must ask ourselves whether those responsible for this decision have seriously under-estimated the contribution which agriculture can make to the economic growth of the country. If this is so, it is no harm to remind ourselves about the contribution agriculture can make and is making to the level of exports.

It is a cliché at this stage to say that it is by far the most important industry in terms of share of national income, in terms of exports and employment which it generates in our economy. Its exports play a vital role in the economy from the point of view that they bring foreign earnings into the country to a greater extent than any other industry and they are a source of revenue that is much needed in order to repay our massive [1818] foreign debt. The gross value of visible exports increased from £4.1 billion in 1980 to £9.5 billion in 1986. Over £7 billion comes from so-called modern industries, many of which are attracted by our low tax regime for manufacturing industry and the remaining £2.5 billion comes from agricultural exports. That is the context in which we are talking about the value of agriculture to our total exports.

In assessing the value of agriculture to the economy, account must be taken of the fact that a very small import content is required to add to the value of our domestic agricultural produce. IDA surveys reveal that it takes about £16,000 for each job in foreign industries set up with the assistance of IDA grants. The amount of money it would take to keep family farmers on the land or to set up people in agricultural industry is considerably less than that. If we were to go by the EC figures it takes only £5,600 in terms of installation aid to fully instal a young farmer on the home farm. I do not think that is an adequate reflection of what it would take in order to instal a young farmer, but certainly it is a considerable help to many of them.

Profit repatriation is taking place on a large scale in this country in many of our multinational companies. The direction of our policy should be to limit our dependence on multinational companies by giving a lead to agriculture and having a vigorous campaign for improving the agricultural employment potential that is so evident today in an industry starved of investment.

Some of the modern industries with the most spectacular export performances contribute rather less than is realised to overall employment. For example, the office machines industry increased the value of its exports from £250 million in 1980 to over £1.8 billion in 1986. Over the same period it increased its employment by just 2,000 to reach 6,400 in 1986. In contrast, the agricultural and food industry, with exports valued at £2.5 billion in 1985, provided employment for 214,000 people. We have heard a lot in [1819] the recent past about the need for the country to reassert itself in terms of a more vigorous approach to creating more employment in the food industry. Before the last general election we had many posters and programmes of intent in relation to the value added that is essential, and indicating the employment that could be created in the value added areas of food, and its export potential. I am sorry to say that that aspiration has proved to be nothing more than a myth. We have seen over the last couple of years — and exacerbated over the last year — the serious decimation of our national herd. The statistics speak for themselves. We have lost 100,000 female animals over the last three years as a result of the super levy. The evidence suggests that we could lose 200,000 more cows in the next three years if we do nothing about the situation as it presently exists.

I want to take the opportunity to appeal to the Minister to draw up a radical and comprehensive programme immediately to tackle the problem of increasing our national herd so that we can realistically talk about increasing the amount of value we can add to our agricultural produce. We could then talk about creating jobs in the food and processing industry. We would not be talking in aspirational terms but about imaginative and real steps rather than fictional pious aspirations. We have the outlandish situation of Government policy throwing money at beef barons in order to create more meat processing capacity at a time when the actual national herd — the very raw material to create employment in that industry — is being whittled away daily by the decimation of the cow herd.

I know the Minister has made attempts to knock together the heads of various interest groups. I am sorry to say that his efforts have resulted in failure. I know it does not give the Minister any satisfaction to have to acknowledge that the efforts have been a failure. I would look forward in the coming weeks to the Minister drawing up a vigorous and comprehensive programme of his own. [1820] without depending on any other sector, to provide essential finance. I hope there will be also an imaginative programme to boost the national herd and to boost employment.

I want to acknowledge that over the last year or two ACOT had a significant involvement in trying to increase the suckler herd in many of the marginal and disadvantaged areas. In my own area we recorded a considerable degree of success in terms of a 12 per cent increase in the number of animals in County Kilkenny. It is very little because of the low base from which they are starting. Certainly, the disadvantaged areas and marginalised land can make a further contribution towards holding more female animals. The reclassification process and the extension of the boundaries is most urgent in this regard. It will make much more headage available. In view of the fact that two-thirds of that finance can now be recouped, following the success of the negotiations in February at the European Council meeting, we can now get back £2 out of every £3. Up to recently we were getting recoupment from the EC only on a 50/50 basis. This is a golden opportunity for the Minister to bring £2 into this country where he was able to bring in only £1 before. It makes financial sense to do so. It will assist many farmers in keeping female animals on their land in order to put them in calf to continental animals; because of the surpluses in milk production we would have to be realistic and promote continental animals and get payment for quality. The standards of grading and the standards of payment at factories are a disgrace when one considers the efforts farmers are making——

Acting Chairman:  The Senator should keep to the terms of the Bill.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I am leading up to the importance of having good research and advice in relation to this area. I am complimenting ACOT on the role they have taken in this regard in promoting the importance of having good agricultural practices and the general contribution that organisation has made. I hope they [1821] will continue to make progress under the provisions of this legislation.

Five times more money on agricultural advice and education is being spent in Europe than in this country. This is a very serious problem and is very hard to understand. At a time when we need more money in research and advice than ever before, because of the tightening margins in all our national enterprises, greater emphasis on research and development and advice and education is needed in order to bring farmers out of this present trough. They should have less dependency on surplus products, such as dairy and beef products. There should be alternative farming enterprises to provide some source of income for their families without having to resort to off-farm income in industrial employment, something which is very difficult to get.

In 1960 northern Europe was spending more on advice than on research. I do not have to remind this House that advice in Ireland is provided by ACOT and research is carried out by AFT. A decade later research expenditure there has doubled while spending on advice has increased more slowly. The Minister would have to take cognisance of the fact that the funding arrangements which he has proposed up to now in relation to our direction of policy, and the emphasis that has been put on ACOT and AFT under this merger, and on the development of education, advice and research is certainly not one that I would share. We have had a debacle over the last six months in relation to the morale of the organisation. The Minister may say otherwise, but he should realise that the morale of the organisation, because of the uncertainty in relation to funding, was never at a lower level. This is something which I hope he will be able to redress in the near future.

It is important to address the problem of this merger in its historical context. Various speakers have gone through the historical context of the county committee of agriculture structure which was there before 1979. The Minister of the day, former Deputy James Gibbons, [1822] decided that we were going to have an organisation which was less than adequate. The National Agricultural Authority which was proposed by the then Minister, former Deputy Clinton, at the time had left out research. It is ironic that 12 years later we have all State agencies under the one body. Farmers, rather than going to a plethora of organisations seeking advice on one hand and research on the other, are availing of services under the one roof. We are able to eliminate the duplication of research and advice which we had up to now. There may have been political reasons for leaving ACOT and AFT separate at that time. I am glad to say that those political considerations do not now exist. In the interests of amalgamation and rationalisation the Minister has decided that it is better to be less political and more efficient.

There was a tremendous amount of duplication, undoubtedly, in that organisation. I know the Minister, aided by the voluntary redundancy scheme, is eliminating rather quickly any possibility of further inefficiencies, with the assistance of an efficiency audit unit ordered by the Taoiseach. I know that he will have considerable studies at his disposal to ensure that there will be no duplication in the Department of Agriculture and Food. The officials will not mind the Minister taking £10 million out of the administation section and giving it to the new body under the ACOT-AFT merger. They would be delighted to do so. In fact, they advised the Minister so well on the Estimates for the Department of Agriculture and Food that he was clouded by some of the advice. The Minister seemed to forget about the arms of the State that extend down the country. I am talking about the funding arrangements he forgot about in relation to ACOT and AFT——

Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  That is a myth. The officials of the Department of Agriculture and Food have been grossly wronged in this. It is a myth.

[1823]Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I have to say to the Minister in this regard that, as a result of the publication of the Estimates for the Department for 1988, he made a 43 per cent cut in ACOT and AFT funding, and only a 5 per cent funding cut in the administrative section of the Department of Agriculture and Food. That speaks volumes. I would love to agree with him that it is a myth. He is a good man for statistics and the statistics show me that he has certainly lost the battle with his civil servants on this occasion. The ordinary people down the country in Nenagh, Roscrea, Thurles and all over North Tipperary and, indeed, some people from Tipperary all know that the story down the country is that various civil servants looked after themselves on this occasion, and rightly so. Obviously the Minister was not able to twist their arms. Maybe they were not long enough——

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  They put me on the grid iron and twisted my arm.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  It is time the Minister got those people off the grid iron.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  The Cabinet are responsible for the decisions.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Senator Hogan, I do not know whether it is the Minister, or you, or Senator Connor who is completely out of order, but what is going on here?

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  We are having a discussion——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  You should not be having a discussion at this point.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  We were having a two-way information flow. The Minister volunteered information which I was glad to receive from him. He was clarifying the position for me.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  You should not be having a two way information flow. I thought it was North Tipperary you were discussing?

[1824]Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I was telling the Minister what the situation is in North Tipperary in relation to the funding of ACOT and AFT——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Grand, but let us have Senator Connor's contribution at a later stage. He can answer you at a later stage. You, Senator Connor, remain quiet.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Sorry for the rude interruptions, and now I will continue. As somebody who has been a member of the Kilkenny County Committee of Agriculture since 1982, and somebody who has had a close association with that forum for a considerable length of time through my family connections, I must say I was very disappointed that a more assertive insertion into the legislation was not provided on the importance of a county forum in order to have local involvement in discussing and airing the agricultural policies of the day in relation to county committees of agriculture.

Section 17 is unclear as to the importance and powers the Minister will have to tell an organisation such as Teagasc — a name which I find very difficult to pronounce — what to do so that people like Senator Ryan and others in this House can continue to make a local contribution to the agricultural development in their own counties.

The concept of coming together once a month to speak about the various involvements and aspects of agriculture is important. Perhaps people in the Department may not have liked getting some of the correspondence they received as a result of some of those meetings. Maybe the Minister was guided by some of the same people to whom I referred earlier in relation to dismantling the county committees of agriculture in the context of this Bill. I am sorry the Minister saw them in that light. We cannot all be perfect in all the county committees. I have to pay tribute to the tremendous contribution that Kilkenny County Committee of Agriculture made in putting forward constructive suggestions on how various schemes could be [1825] adapted to meet the needs of the local people and the local farmers. They feel now that they have been deprived of a voice in communicating directly through their elected representatives and their representatives at county level to the Department of Agriculture and Food and the Minister of the day.

This will leave a vacuum. It will be more difficult for national politicians to explain at each and every cross-roads in their constituencies the various directions which Department policy is taking. Various individual problems might arise in the implementation of a scheme. I will give one example. In September 1986, the Euro-currency loans came in. They were very welcome to the farming community. They provided for the first time ever a cheap source of finance at 5.5 per cent to assist people to retain viable farming enterprises in the cereal and beef sector in particular. This allowed the financial institutions to give some breathing space to the farming community who were in financial difficulties. I am glad that, under duress, the Minister decided to continue the Euro-currency loans. The roll-over was very welcome at the time. It continues to make an important contribution to the viability of many farmers who find themselves, through no fault of their own but because of bad weather and higher interest rates which they could have foreseen at the time, unable to get themselves out of trouble. Hopefully it will assist them to become viable once more.

At that time we were delighted in the Kilkenny County Committee of Agriculture to bring before us representatives of the banks and of the State, and a Minister of State, to ask the State and the banks to forego their handling charges to make the cost of that scheme, and the interest rate that applied to that scheme, even more effective and attractive to the farmers involved. I am glad that we succeeded in having our little “tuppence worth” thrown into that particular argument. I was glad at that time that the Government decided to drop their handling charges. The banks did, too. Adaptations of various schemes should be [1826] aired at local level. There are problems at local level which might not arise in the Department of Agriculture and Food in Kildare Street, but which do arise down the country in the implementation of a scheme. It is essential that they should be sorted out for the betterment of agriculture and the farming community. ACOT after 1979 certainly took on a very aggressive role in terms of providing education and advice.

One of the major successes of ACOT since 1979 has been the green certificate course whereby 95 per cent of all young farmers entering agriculture in County Kilkenny are now coming through with the green cert qualification or with an agricultural college qualification before they go full time into farming. This is a wonderful tribute to the success of the course. The fact that it received assistance from the European Social Funding was a considerable help from the Exchequer point of view. I am sorry to see that that funding has ceased. I hope that the Minister will be able to restore most of that money on a future occasion through the increased funds available through the Regional and Social funds. The importance of education and advice through the agricultural colleges and through ACOT was emphasised by building into that certificate an incentive for land transfer. People had to have their 80 hours or 180 hours' education to be eligible for that installation aid, as it is called now. It provided a great incentive for young farmers to go into the ACOT centre, do their courses and qualify in order to be fully equipped to take on the family farm. Many people in my part of the country would like to see the Minister paying out that £5,600 a little more quickly than he has been doing. They would like to see the Minister providing more money in the Estimates for 1989. I was told today that people who were approved in February 1988 would not receive payment for the installation aid grant until 1989. Many young farmers will be disappointed to hear that. I hope that the Minister in the course of his reply to this debate, will be able to assist me in that process. Hopefully he will be able to [1827] assist the young farmers of north Tipperary, Kilkenny and places like that with the help of this grant. I knows they have not been jumping the queue yet.

ACOT's role in relation to promotion of agricultural production has been enormous. One of the things I am very disappointed about in relation to the voluntary redundancy scheme is that it has taken the best people out of the system. This has been referred to by other Senators here today. You cannot buy experience. You cannot buy commonsense. Perhaps some of the people who should have got out under the voluntary redundancy scheme did not. The unfortunate thing is that many of the people whom I would like to see retained in the service were unfortunately forced out of it under the voluntary redundancy scheme. The very nature of the word “voluntary” is a contradiction. Nevertheless, they found that they had no future in the particular organisation in the direction in which it was heading. Morale was low at the time. The confusion that up to today exists in relation to funding arrangements for the future of the organisation has left some people in the invidious position that the best thing they could do was get out of the organisation altogether and go into some other place of employment, or enjoy their latter years of life in happy retirement. I would suggest that it will be very difficult to build up that same level of expertise and experience that has been of paramount importance in many areas of the country. It is going to take a number of years to recover from that decimation of the service.

The importance of ACOT and of AFT has been emphasised because of the need to promote alternative enterprises for agriculture. The Minister will be aware that never before was this so important, because of the fact, as I referred to earlier, that the lid is on beef production. There is considerable scope and expansion in relation to peas and beans and in other areas of agriculture which have yet to come to fruition. Tillage crops, which have been very well researched in [1828] research stations like Oak Park in Carlow, have contributed to the doubling of the yield of various cereal crops over the years. Equally, spectacular progress has been made on sugar beet, potatoes and new alternative crops. In terms of present prices this amounts to a national gain, in raw material costs alone, of approximately £250 million annually to the State. The importance of research on tillage crops is significant when viewed in such stark financial terms.

Senator Cullimore referred to the important contribution that Johnstown Castle was making in Wexford. It is another research station which has had a cloud over it for the past number of months. An investigation in Johnstown Castle into alternative nitrogen fertilisers — and this is important in the context of all the various debates that are going on about pollution at the moment — discovered that urea which is about 75 per cent of the cost of the standard calcium ammonium nitrate, could substitute for between one half and three quarters of the total nitrogen required. The saving is considerable when you consider that the countrywide application of nitrogen is currently 320,000 tonnes per year. The Minister of State, Deputy Seamus Kirk, has been assisting the process in trying to get more substitution for and less importation of horticultural products. The mushroom industry, which is worth about £20 million and employs 1,600 people, was brought to its current level of national importance largely through research and development work that was carried out at Kinsealy. These developments in research and the improvements that have taken place in those areas cannot be underestimated when we are talking about the important contribution that these organisations can make. In addition, ACOT have now developed a very aggressive role and expanded into a number of other areas. In the farm business service, for example, they have put in very strenuous work in trying to assist farmers to get out of financial difficulty by introducing a scheme called the Farm Business Service. This scheme will [1829] assist farmers to keep on the rails financially so that they will not get into the position they were in a few years ago in relation to paying out large amounts of money for land. They will get on-the-spot recognition of their problems at a much earlier stage of development, so that they can farm their way out of it rather than have to be baled out by the State.

Another area which is of critical importance, and which ACOT have focused their minds on — and I must say that the Government have been focusing their mind on it also in recent times — is the area of pollution control. This is crucially important. It is something which has taken on significance in view of the debacle we had in 1987 in relation to some pollution spillages throughout the country. Not all of them were related to farming problems; some of them related to the problem of silage effluent. ACOT appointed a specialist in pollution control. Studies have been carried out and surveys done by ACOT people in the last couple of months while visiting farms. They give some sort of hope to farmers, so that they can in a year or two get themselves into a situation where they are free of the various problems in relation to pollution. I welcome that development. I acknowledge ACOT's contribution to that, as also will the Minister. I also welcome the extra grant aid from the State to eliminate the problem of farm pollution, which could get out of control if we do not take steps to remedy the situation now. A 55 per cent grant has been mentioned as a possible figure. I would hope that the Minister, with the silage season in full swing at the moment will recognise the need for people to put down silage slabs and to introduce preventative measures to control silage effluent now. Perhaps he would consider the suggestion that he would waive the necessity for application forms — I understand they are not yet available— so that farmers could start the work now, get the job done, get the necessary inspections carried out afterwards and then have the application forms filled up. [1830] If any farmer decides to do pollution control work he can only do good in terms of protecting the environment.

To get on to the future funding of ACOT and AFT under the Bill, and recognising what I have been saying about the importance of research and advice and education, I regret that ACOT have been living on overdraft accommodation since January 1988. That is not good for the organisation. It should never have happened. The confusion which arose over that merger has been compounded by the fact that there was a serious lack of funding. They were not able to pay wages at the end of January and they had to seek overdraft accommodation. I thought the Fine Gael proposal put forward at the time by which we could amalgamate ACOT, AFT, the Farm Development Service and An Bord Glas and transfer £7.5 million from the Department of Agriculture and Food Estimate to the administration section in that area, was a constructive approach which would have helped to keep the organisation on a sound financial footing at a very critical time. In the infancy of the merger it would have helped morale. It would have helped to streamline the organisation in a more confident and effective way. It would have helped the Minister in his consideration of the merger of ACOT and AFT as a very dynamic factor. He referred to it as a central dynamic feature of agricultural policy in the future. I do not think he instilled any confidence about dynamism in relation to the merger of ACOT and AFT by starving them of finances in the early stages of bringing about the merged organisation.

In referring to the charges for services, which we passed through this House last year, even though they had signed contracts with ACOT personnel many farmers were wondering if they would get the service for which they signed a contract in view of the fact that the number of advisers would be considerably less. There were worries about that and that has not been clarified. The funding arrangement is critical in relation to [1831] satisfying the fears of the farming community about charges and they want this matter clarified as soon as possible.

I was sorry to see so much ministerial control inserted into this Bill. That has been referred to by other speakers, and in the other House. The Minister should have given more autonomy to this organisation. He has adopted the big stick approach and he has brought more power from the outside world into the Kildare Street location, much more than I like to see. Perhaps he will comment on that in winding up the debate.

The Minister stated that Teagasc will concentrate on the essential services and those of low priority will be reduced or phased out. That was a dangerous statement to make because the smaller producer could take that statement out of context and think that the Minister was making a statement about a new organisation and did not care whether or not the smaller producer existed in relation to giving Teagasc the necessary back-up. That could be misinterpreted.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  Could the Senator quote the reference?

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I might have the context in which the Minister made the statement in the other House on the Committee Stage of the Bill.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  The Minister is asking you to quote, the date and column.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I could quote from the volume which I should have brought with me. I will come back to the Minister on Report Stage, if I am wrong.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  Please do.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  I will bring it to the Minister's attention. A statement like that could be taken out of context. I hope the Minister will reassure the House at the conclusion of this debate that he is not forgetting about the smaller producer who has an important contribution to make that such producers will not be phased out.

[1832] Various people have mentioned the change of name to Teagasc. Senator Ryan was speaking about it as I entered the House. It is regrettable that, in the context of the debate in the other House, the Minister did not see fit to change the name. I hope an amendment will be supported by various people in this House asking the Minister to consider changing the name at this stage. I was surprised such confusion had arisen about the word “Teagasc” of which various interpretations have been given. Some people suggest that it means incantations or magic spells. If it will have a considerable impact on agriculture, in the fashion which I have outlined, if it will cast a magic spell so as to transform agriculture, I will allow the Minister to keep the name. I would not like to see the name developed in the magic spell direction from the point of view of the fairytale association. I hope the Minister will think of a more realistic, saleable name. A lot of money has been invested by ACOT and the Department in selling the name “ACOT”. It is a household name and some variation of that might have been acceptable, such as ACOTT, which would have included the research element in the ACOT name.

In conclusion, I want to welcome the merger Bill, which is part of the business we are discussing here this evening. I regret that such legislation to merge ACOT and AFT was not better handled. Perhaps the Minister also regrets this. I hope the future funding of this new organisation will be such that it will guarantee a service to farmers, and that research and development, which are of more importance now than ever before, will continue to commend the same importance they did in the past and that the rationalisation which the Minister spoke about and which needs to be undertaken in agricultural centres will not impinge on various research stations in Kildalton, Oak Park or places like that. Perhaps the Minister can head into Tipperary for some of the savings he wants to make in terms of institutional care. I welcome the merger. I wish the organisation every success. I hope the changes [1833] we have suggested in the course of the debate will assist the process whereby agriculture can be promoted to the best possible extent in the interests of the country.

Mr. McGowan: Information on Paddy McGowan  Zoom on Paddy McGowan  I welcome the changes that are proposed. I welcome the restructuring of the agricultural industry and the new body that will now have responsibility for promoting agriculture.

Many people involved in agriculture, nationwide, will welcome the new Bill. Unlike Senator Hogan, I do not see any magic solution to our difficulties in agriculture. We can sing the praise of ACOT: we can be hypocritical, but we have to judge from our experience on the ground. Having spent 25 years as a member of a committee of agriculture, in 1985 I considered it not worth my while putting forward my name to be a member of that body. That is the value I would give it. Committees of agriculture have outlived their usefulness. We have so many structures and so many organisations. Some people who supported Governments in the past are speaking with their tongue in their cheek. It was impossible for ACOT to survive when we had offices full of staff who had nothing to do. I am thinking of the backlog before the farm development service was finally cancelled and withdrawn. I am thinking of the many backlogs, the thousands of applications, the number of people who were caught with applications for farm improvement and farm development schemes which never got off the ground. They were caught and they never had their grants paid. This Minister and the present Government were not part of that difficulty.

You would not need to be a university graduate to recognise that we have had a fairly difficult history in agriculture. Anybody coming from the West, especially from the patch I represent in Donegal, would welcome with open arms the setting up of new structures. I want to make some brief comments about my [1834] hopes and aspirations for the new organisation.

I would like to ask the Minister when he is appointing the chairman and the ten members of the new organisation — and I have read the Bill and I realised that the Minister is making provision for people with experience — to consider people who have a knowledge, and a background, and an input, and an experience in tillage. While Senator Hogan complains that the Minister may not be doing enough to support the cow herd, and far be it from it for me to not welcome any advances in any area in agriculture, those of us who represent areas with a tradition in tillage are asking the Minister at this stage how far can he go. Even in today's post I got two communications from the Minister. One of them says that I will be interested in the following announcement made this week about temporary milk leasing schemes, increased reactor grants, sale of intervention beef and so on. There has been talk about beef, about herds, about milk, transfer of quotas, clawbacks etc. to the total exclusion of those who actually have generations of commitment to the family farm and who have been working at tillage all their lives. We are enthusiastic about the new structures.

We sincerely hope the Minister will recognise that there is an imbalance at the moment and that now is the time to correct that imbalance. We applaud the decision to restructure the whole area of agriculture. I have read the Bill and I recognise that the Minister provided in section 10 that no Dáil Member, or Seanad Member, or MEP may be a member of the new board. I think that is right and proper. Senator Ryan said we spend only 80 days in the Seanad and this should not debar us from being on that body. Senator Ryan must be getting off a bit lighter than some of the rest of us who represent rural areas because I would claim as one Member of this Seanad that I spend nearly five days a week — not 80 days a year — at my work. It highlights the lack of input the lack of knowledge on the part of people who are the most eloquent when it comes to [1835] contributing to a Bill. I certainly think that it is right and proper that no Dáil, Seanad or MEP Members should be included in the ten-man structure. Under section 17 (1) the new structure will plan to set up subcommittees. Does the same restriction apply under this subsection? Would a Member of the Dáil, an MEP or a Member of the Seanad be excluded from those? I would be less definite about that aspect of it.

Regarding section 4 (5) (ii) where provision is made for testing of seeds and plants, including potatoes, I would ask the Minister to clarify for me what provision is in the Bill to make people who import seeds and plants, including potatoes and seed potatoes, meet the required standard to be laid down. In the past we have had an area where growers and packers and assemblers and wholesalers and those involved in the food industry, seeds and plants, were forced to comply with standards. I totally support the rigid standards laid down. However, coming up to the Border, or coming from outside the country, there was no examination to confirm that you had conformed to the standards laid down. Now is an opportune time for the Minister to include in this Bill a provision for inspection and to advertise widely abroad that where products fail to comply with the standards set under the new Bill they will be rejected and turned back. I ask for clarification on this aspect of the Bill.

Coming from a farming background I am enthusiastic about the Bill's provisions and I look forward hopefully to a completely new approach. There is room for fresh thinking on the potential development of agriculture. I have a very strong view about our involvement in Europe. We have to look at areas where we have to discontinue the production of many products because there has been a beef mountain, a butter mountain, a milk lake, wine lake or a mountain of agricultural produce of some kind or another. The people who enjoyed the benefits and got the intervention money to build those mountains are I think, the [1836] people who must be identified and who must pay to eliminate the mountains. Recently we had an important seminar in the Royal Marine Hotel in Dún Laoghaire which was held to highlight the technical advances in agriculture. We had somebody there from a university in the United States who highlighted the potential and the advantages of modern technology and what it could do for agriculture. I asked the professor who was there representing the University of Washington one question: “When you get your technology advanced to the stage when you have reached the peak and the maximum of aiding those involved in agriculture, and all of the those involved make a great success and increase their income from agriculture, what would you suggest can be done for the small producer in the West of Ireland who is put out of business in the course of achieving your great technological advance?” I am still waiting for an answer.

The Minister for Agriculture and Food has major responsibilities and it is nearly impossible for him to meet all the difficulties. I see great hope in the laying down of new structures. A lot of fresh thinking will have to go into agriculture and I strongly appeal to him to lay down guidelines for the new body which will include provision for the survival of those involved in tillage. If we allow the land to be abandoned and if we listen to Europe at the moment saying “We will pay you so much not to grow anything on your land, to abandon your land” I think we are going to pay the price later on. It would be a tragedy if we lose the value of the small home, the input, the number of people that are employed and the small farm that can sustain itself and the family. Many eloquent speakers on a variety of subjects have highlighted the value of the small family farm. I have great fears for the small family farm. I hope that this will be an opportunity to provide some support and to provide structures that will sustain those who are involved in this crucial area. I know that the Minister has many people advising him on how best to restructure the agricultural busines. I [1837] think he has a very difficult task ahead of him and I am looking forward with great expectations to this new organisation. The general public and those who are committed to live on and to work the land will welcome the setting up of the new structure. I just hope that when the Minister is appointing the new body he recognises that tillage must not be allowed to disappear as a part of our future in agriculture.

Professor Murphy: Information on John A Murphy  Zoom on John A Murphy  I propose to speak on one central aspect of this Bill. The Minister knows I would not chance my arm as an agricultural expert, but there are things in the Bill which do concern me. Normally, I would be very glad to welcome any measures likely to enhance the performance of the agricultural economy, but there are aspects of this Bill which do give me pause. I think it is a bit of a leap in the dark to put all these aspects of agricultural and food activity under one umbrella, as I understand there is no comparable organisation in European member states. If economy of administration is one of the aims, that is obviously, in these harsh budgetary times, a good thing; but it would be shortsighted if these aims were to be achieved at the expense of more important long-term considerations. If the new dispensation increases the efficiency with which research results can reach the end-users, then that will certainly be welcomed. There must be misgiving — and I know there is misgiving — in various sectors of the services affected about any new Bill which would introduce further ministerial and departmental restriction in areas which have not been accustomed to those restrictions; and, apart from the necessary fiscal control, an extension of bureaucratic control is quite clearly undesirable. The danger is that this might interfere with research activity, which is so vital to the agricultural industry.

The Minister has praised the excellence of the work which has been carried on in the research aspect of this industry; but any diminution of this research, any deterioration in research standards, any change in the nature of the research [1838] would be bad for the food industry with its promise of further employment, with its potential for expansion and the challenge that faces us with the completion of the internal market. It would be ironic if this legislation were in any way to militate against the objective which is being emphasised so much these days of putting our best foot forward in all areas of productivity in the next few years before 1992.

The Minister has paid tribute to the excellence of the work of An Foras Talúntais, which over the last two or three decades has played a crucial part in the increased productivity of Irish agriculture, especially over the halcyon years in the 1970s which we may not — probably will not — see again. The years ahead are going to be very competitive, the food industry is much more sophisticated than it used to be and obviously competitiveness is the name of the game now all along the line, not simply where farmers and food firms are concerned but competitiveness to research level as well. The research back-up is vital so that we can maximise cost reductions, improve quality, add value and add profitability. Unless we can match our European partners in the quality standards of their research and the skill and effectiveness of their research — people like the Dutch and the French — not alone will we not advance in the European market, where the new opportunities will be provided very shortly, but, even worse, we will lose our place here in our own home market.

It is important — and the Minister will, I am sure, agree — that the continuation of research in An Foras Talúntais should be related to our own specific needs, our own conditions — in other words, that our research should not be derived at second hand, or simply taken from other sources; so that, at the very least, it is important to maintain the present level of research. In previous contributions Senator Brendan Ryan quoted from Professor Cunningham's article which pointed out that the present level of research is no great shakes in the sense that the money spent on research does [1839] not put us in very favourable competition vis-á-vis our European partners and that really we are at the level of what are called middle income developing countries like Algeria, Turkey and Nigeria. At the very least, the expenditure on research should not be allowed fall below its present level.

There is disquiet about certain implications of this Bill among professional research staff. Everyone knows that morale is at a low level in many areas of the public service, and of what you might call the semi-State service, and that this is indicated by the departure for more fruitful fields of excellent public service staff. The morale will be further adversely affected if what is suspected of this Bill comes to pass, namely, if the spirit of restrictiveness and bureaucratic interference which seems to be represented in many clauses of the Bill is implemented.

I hope to make further coments on Committee Stage. Like Senator Ryan, I would like to say that there are things which should be put into the Bill and things that should be taken out of the Bill. What should be put into the Bill is an emphasis on the importance of research findings, because there is widespread fear among the people who would be affected by the Bill that research would be curtailed, that other activities will be imposed on the staff to the detriment of research, or that research will be custom made to particular ventures or operations and that the real value of research, which is research for its own sake paradoxically — that is what finally is of most benefit — will be affected. So, what I would like to see put into the Bill is an encouragement or a guarantee of the continuing importance of the publication of research findings, the kind of research which is referred at international level, which is the guarantee of international information being available to our researchers and that the whole international dimension of research will not be affected by the Bill. What is needed here is an explicit [1840] assurance and reassurance of the continuing importance of research. That is one thing which should be put into the Bill.

Again I echo the objection of Senator Ryan to the lack of any disclosure of interest clause for members of the board. He pointed out that such a clause appears in the Eolas Bill and the comparison is fairly close because Eolas is also concerned with areas of research. There seems to be no good reason why an interest clause for members of the board should not be inserted into this Bill and, indeed, into all Bills of this nature. It seems that one of the areas about which we are continuing to be very coy and reticent is the extent of the interests of public representatives, the extent of their private interests and the way in which that private interest may conflict with the public good. I cannot see any reason why such a disclosure of interest clause should not be inserted into this Bill.

Attention was drawn by Senator Ryan to the provision contained in the Bill prohibiting staff members of the new organisation from being Members of Seanad Éireann. It may be said, as it was often said to me in the past in this House when I lamented the fact that the expertise of a particular person should be lost to this House in particular because of membership of a particular board, that this is a long-standing tradition. There is a sense in which Seanad Éireann is a suitable place for people who are researchers and it seems odd to deprive if you like — because this is what it would mean in effect — a vocational body such as Seanad Éireann was intended to be, of the expertise of people like that. In fact, it seems to do far less harm, to put it negatively, to have a staff member of Teagasc as a Member of Seanad Éireann then it would to have a member of the board not disclosing his interest which might well be in conflict with the public interest. These are some of the things I would like to see put into the Bill and, correspondingly, I would like to see sections removed from the Bill which I will refer to again on Committee Stage.

Section 13 (3) which would seem to [1841] limit the freedom of research and section 19 which would again create an environment where the research arm of the new body would seem not to be independent, are some of the areas in which the Bill could be improved. I regret that in Bills of this kind I cannot give a wholehearted assent to them. This is a thing I would normally like to do. It seems to me there is a whole area of legislation to object to which would be simply perverse — and I do see the good intentions of this Bill — but it does seem to carry the harzards I mention and for that reason I have grave reservation about it. Go raibh maith agat, a Chathaoirligh.

Mr. Byrne: Information on Seán Byrne  Zoom on Seán Byrne  I welcome the Bill. I will not speak for too long because I believe that every day that passes is a costly day for the farming community and the nation. In the months that have passed we have lost some of the finest brains in both ACOT and AFT due to their complete frustration and not knowing what was ahead of them. That was a great loss to the nation as well as to the farming community. We have lost people with long experience in research and in advising people. Even in my own county we have lost some of our key advisers.

I welcome the Bill and I hope it will pass through this House as speedily as possible in the national interest. I have been a member of the local committee of agriculture in South Tipperary for over 21 years. I thought I would never see the day when, due to the delay in this Bill being passed, we had not the price of a stamp since early January. That is a sad day for our most important industry. The members of any committee of agriculture could go to the officials and be told: “We had no money even to write to you about any problem.” That is very sad. Under successive Governments billions have been wasted since this State was founded and continue to be wasted in useless areas in various Departments. This is a crying national scandal.

I know the Government have made a gallant effort to try to tidy up every Department. It is about time. The more I dig, the more I find out. We would have [1842] had a revolution if the ordinary public knew about squandermania in every Government Department over the past 30 or 40 years. It is a national scandal. Meanwhile, the county committees of agriculture have been living on a shoestring since 1 January. We met many times at our own expense. I wonder are there many people in the Department of Agriculture and Food who would do that. I believe they are slightly over-staffed there. Some of them do not know where they are or what their duties are. That is also a national scandal. There are people who do not want to be told what their duties are and where they are. They are reading The Irish Times every day. What consolation is that to a farmer down in Tipperary or up in Donegal with the tax man at one door, the pollution officer at another door and somebody else at some other door? Survival has been the name of the game in agriculture over the past four or five years with bad weather and quotas of every description. It is about time we as a nation stopped blaming everybody else for our problems and did something about them ourselves and got off the bloody fence. We have to much bureaucracy and very little democracy. I hope this Bill is not leading us that way. I have faith in the present Minister — being a Tipperary man himself — not to allow that to happen.

I also believe there should be no taxation without representation. I have seen some of the finest people in my own county of Tipperary and in other counties as well who spent many days holding meetings. I saw this coming about three years ago under the previous Government when we had various people trotting around holding area meetings. I was chairman of the County Committee of Agriculture in South Tipperary at the time. We had a big meeting down in Kildalton and we were brought in and asked for our views. I knew what would come. All the smart guys over in Kildare Street said: “These bloody fellows are sending up resolutions from various counties. We will have to get rid of them, silence them”.

The committees, as such, may have [1843] outlived their usefulness. I appeal to the Minister to see to it that there will be a replacement county structure because we want to monitor what is going on. The farmers in the various counties want to have some input into what type of advice is being given, that is, if we are to have any advice or any service because it is very thin on the ground now. Our advisory staff were not educated and employed to be revenue collectors. This is disgraceful. There are so few of them now on the ground that they are spending more of their time filling forms in the offices with no time to go to the ordinary farmer. This is a bloody disgrace.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Senator, I know you are a little bit cross, but you will have to stop using a certain word you have repeated.

Mr. Byrne: Information on Seán Byrne  Zoom on Seán Byrne  The word “disgrace”?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  No.

Mr. Byrne: Information on Seán Byrne  Zoom on Seán Byrne  What is it, a Chathaoirligh?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Not here.

Mr. Byrne: Information on Seán Byrne  Zoom on Seán Byrne  I know the Minister is doing his best in Brussels and at home. The whole ACOT service has been stood on its head in recent times. They have lost so many staff in each county that the few who are there have too many clients. They should not be wasting their time as revenue collectors. They should be giving advice, not filling forms and collecting revenue. Perhaps some of my friends over in Kildare Street could go down and spend time collecting money rather than reading The Irish Times. I am not making any false accusations. It is in the public press every day of the week. There are reports of so many hundred people; I do not know where they are trotting to or from. I would prefer to see them in Tipperary or any other county going out and collecting that money and let our advisers have more time to give advice on the ground to the small, the medium and the big farmers. This may be a bit of a joke, [1844] but to the people who have to live off the land it is not a joke, with the reduction in their incomes over the past number of years and all the various quotas — milk quotas, beet quotas, beef mountains, grain levies, and so on. The only exception is sheep.

I hope the Minister and his officials will not try to pull the wool over the farmers' eyes in this Bill. If the Minister does so, the people will remember him for it. Like the old advertisement on the radio for the veterinary product says: it is a queer name but good stuff.

I am also concerned about the area offices in each county. We have splendid offices in Clonmel, Cashel, Tipperary town and in my own area, Cahir — as good a farming area as any part of the country. I was very annoyed early in January when the area office was closed down. They had some of the finest advisers there down through the years. It is a dairy, beef and grain intensive area, stretching back to the borders of Cork, Limerick and Waterford. From the furthest point to the head office in Clonmel is 25 miles. That office was closed down and the secretarial staff were sent to Dublin to add to the pile. After a lot of hassle they agreed they would open the office two days a week. There was no saving there. We were told there were big savings to be made.

What section of society would accept that kind of carry on? If we were in a trade union we would bring the country to a standstill. Anything is good enough for the farmers. Close down the Garda stations, schools, polling booths, post offices and everything. What would be the reaction? They would not vote in some of the cities and towns unless there was a polling booth around the corner. Close down agricultural advice centres for farmers — to hell with them, let them go where they like.

I resent that attitude very much, and I wonder what the Minister will do with the other permanent offices we have? Will they be closed down and sold off? I hope not. I do not want to live to see the day when we would be just getting circulars from Kildare Street from people [1845] who have no practical knowledge of farming. I say this with all respect. This is what Senator McGowan said there a while ago. I will repeat it again: there is waste going on in this State in the wrong areas — consultants for this and architects for that hospital or school or whatever. Millions are being poured down the drain annually; yet we are crying out, saying: “Well, there is no money to do this and there is no money to do that”. We are penny pinching in an area where we should not be penny pinching; but we are not sweeping out all the wastefulness in the various Departments. Why hit agriculture? It is our own most important industry and has stood the people well in tougher times than we have now. I believe we will end up with about 250 advisers for the Twenty-six Counties, about 40 per cent of the total staff in that area. I think that is a bit lopsided, to say the least.

I appeal to the Minister again to use his good offices when this board is set up to see to it that there is a county structure, whatever it is. The farmers are not greedy people. I am not saying that any one ever became a millionaire out of committees of agriculture. Twenty years ago and more farmers were classed as second-class citizens. The advisory service went out to the boreens and parochial halls to advise farmers and to help and encourage them to raise their families and improve their incomes. They have great confidence in the advisory service to advise them about taxation, etc. That is all shattered now because most of the good people have gone. They could not sit around any longer and wait to know what is going to happen. Uncertainty in any area of life is bad, particularly in agriculture. It is like rain coming when you are cutting a field of hay or a field of corn.

One could go on. I hope when this Bill is passed that it will not be another layer of bureaucracy that will hinder the farmers of this country in their tough future. As I outlined a while ago, with all the various levies and quotas, I believe we need a top class advisory and research staff in order to assist as many people as [1846] possible to make a living on the land. Our Constitution refers to this as well.

At this critical time I think it is wrong that we should have such a valley period without a good service. I do not know the reason for all the uncertainty, why the Bill did not get greater priority last year, why it was not pushed through to get on with the job. We had to wait until June, but we hope it will be done as soon as possible at this stage anyway.

One could go on and talk about the wastefulness. I do not know why the Cathaoirleach objected to the point I made. If I made some slip of the tongue, I would not be the first in this House to make a slip of the tongue. I apologise if I made some slip of the tongue about something there a while ago.

I would like to pay tribute to the people in Moorepark, who are not too far from me, and also to those in Kildalton. There are wonderful people there. We have lost some of them as well, and I hope that the future of both Kildalton and Mooepark, Fermoy, will not be in jeopardy.

I will go back to the point I made about the collection of the fee from the farmer for advice. That has worked fairly well to a point. A lot more money is available out there, but the advisers have not time to collect it. I know this from practical experience. In our county the few advisers we have left cannot afford to offer assistance and advice to any more farmers. In other words, there are many of them out there willing to pay £100 or £200 but the advisers have not the time to provide the advice. That is rather serious. I would like the Minister to look into that urgently. Those people should not be spending their time filling forms. They are not revenue collectors; they are agriculture advisers. I would like the people in the Department to listen to that too. We should have plenty of other people to do that job.

I will admit that advisers as late as yesterday said: “We want to pull out of this thing. It is a sick joke. We are not qualified to go around sponging money off people, wasting our time. The farmers are ringing up but we tell them that we cannot go out because we have not the [1847] time”. There was a period earlier in the year when they were not allowed out because there was no travelling expenses for them. I wonder if that ever happened in Kildare Street?

As a result of all this the farmer down the boreen is losing faith in the whole system. The farmer who cannot increase his quota, the farmer who cannot grow beet, the farmer who cannot produce too much beef because his holding would not suit or who cannot go into the sheep production either because of the type of land he has — those are the people who need assistance, whether they be medium or small farmers. The big farmer can afford to pay for his advice more freely than the small man. A hundred pounds to a small farmer today with a young family is tough enough. The bigger man can lose it in his tax affairs and get some kind of a rebate.

I know the Minister is a practical man. I would appeal to him not to forget, as Senator Paddy McGowan said, the small family farms because they stood to this nation in the past not alone producing quality food during the war years but when men and women were needed, when we were trying to gain our freedom, they were there as well. It would be a pity if the qualify of life on our small farms is destroyed by too much of this red tape. We are notorious for it in this country. We have more people telling a few people what to do at great expenses. That is sad. The people out there, whether it is agriculture or any other area, are getting sick of this thing. Everything is costing so much. We have not the price of a stamp in the committee of agriculture since 1 January, and that is no exaggeration.

We cannot go blaming other people about the problems in this country because we cannot run our own affairs here efficiently. We will have to do it one of these days, because the taxpayers and the young people coming up are not as gullible perhaps as I and other Senators here would be to put up with this from any Government. I know the Government have made a gallant effort in the past [1848] year and a half and I compliment every Minister, including the Minister Deputy O'Kennedy. In my humble opinion they are the best Government since 1961 including the Minister for Agriculture and Food. It is about time because the people out there are getting fed up with it. They are paying too much for too little service.

Mr. McDonald: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  I can identify with the strong sentiments expressed by the previous speaker. He said he hoped the Minister would not pull the wool over our eyes. I can assure him that will not happen. I fail even to find the word “sheep” in this Bill. I would like to welcome the Minister to the House. It might be one of his first visits to this Chamber which we still have hopes will be only a temporary Chamber. I believe he served a very good apprenticeship next door for a few years.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  It always stands to them.

Mr. McDonald: Information on Charles B. McDonald  Zoom on Charles B. McDonald  Of course it does. Our role as participants in the Irish agricultural industry should be and must be to retain our standards as producers of pure, high quality natural farm products. Our standard should be the badge of highly guaranteed quality natural products. We need continuing research to maintain these high standards of value-added fresh quality foods. I must admit at the outset that, when the 1977 agriculture Bill was going through, that is, the National Agricultural Advisory Education and Research Authority, Bill, 1977, I was in favour of a unified system for the advisory service and the research services. I also personally favoured section 22 with the whole lot going into the Department, or what we used to refer to as section 22 of the Department of Agriculture coming out into the new service. I have nothing against the Civil Service running these services. As a matter of fact, from a political point of view it is much easier to get a response from a Department of State than it is from a [1849] statutory authority. We have 115 semi-State or statutory authorities with varying degrees of profitability and efficiency. We all know exactly the kind of service we get and the responses or non-responses we get most of the time from some of the most notable ones.

Like the previous speaker I was a member of a committee of agriculture since the mid-fifties, until the last local elections when we lost a few seats in my county. The number of seats allocated to us was quite small. Nevertheless, I do not have any regrets because I heard from colleagues who served on that committee that it was quite a disaster. Regionalisation of the service which was started in the 1977 Act was a change that did not work. As a farmer who needs the advice of the advisory service I have profited from it over the past 30 years. I have no great regrets about a change being made. Now as much as ever, we require a top-class advisory service and we certainly require a top-class research and development service. In this country we have never got down to having a top-class service.

I know that great work has been done by An Foras Talúntais over the years and Dr. Tom Walsh, Pearse Ryan and the present director Mr. Downey have led very notable and worth-while teams and have achieved a lot. The big mistake is again repeated in this Bill. One need only look at the back page and to see in the Second Schedule “Enactments Repealed”, including a section of the Bee Pest Prevention Act (Ireland), 1908. I do not think that is terribly important.

In the Agriculture Act, 1931, which set up the county committees of agriculture, Parts II and III are repealed. The whole of the Agriculture (Amendment) Act, 1934 is repealed; all of the Agriculture (Amendment) Act, 1944; all of the Agriculture (Amendment) Act, 1948; all of the Agriculture (Amendment) Act, 1955; all of the Agriculture (An Foras Talúntais Act), 1958; the whole of the Agriculture (Amendment) Act, 1958. We have the de-democratisation of the system by the removal of section 81 of the Electoral [1850] Act, 1963. The Agriculture (Amendment) Act, 1964, is gone; the Agriculture (Amendment) Act, 1967, is repealed; the entire Agriculture (Amendment) Act, 1970, is repealed; the Agriculture (Amendment) Act, 1971 is repealed; the Agriculture (Amendment) Act, 1974 is repealed; the National Agricultural Advisory, Education and Research Authority Act, 1977, is repealed; the Agriculture (An Chomhairle Oiliúna Talmhaíochta) Act, 1979, is repealed; the whole Agriculture (Amendment) Act, 1980, is gone and the Agriculture (Amendment) Act, 1987, is gone.

That is 57 years of legislation replaced by a small Bill, which I do not particularly like, with 31 sections. What I do not like about this is that in 13 of those 31 sections the power in 57 years of agricultural legislation goes not to the Minister for Agriculture and Food but to the Minister for Finance. That is a disgrace. The gurus in the Department of Finance in every area of activity, whether it is State, semi-State or you name it have dealt a death blow to the economy of this country. In every county and in every electoral area in the entire Republic, there small industries are closed down because the tax man, the Revenue Commissioners, put in receivers. There is no county in this country where the Revenue Commissioners, have not closed down industries and done away with employment and the amount of money spent on redundancy payments and on dole has far outweighed the debt due to the revenue. That is a fact. No Member of this House can deny it.

The powers of the Minister for Agriculture and Food after 57 years of legislation dealing with and improving the lot of Irish agriculture — an important industry in this country — have been transferred to the Minister for Finance who already has too much power. The officers of his Department have usurped the powers of every other Department in this State and this is my sole crib with this Bill. It is a disgrace and I am disappointed in the Minister for Agriculture and Food who has, I would submit, reneged on his loyalty to the farmers and the industry [1851] that he represents by allowing that to happen.

Perhaps the Minister would be kind enough to indicate when he is replying to this debate what reserved functions are now left for agricultural research and education and the advisory services. On top of that we have the food industry. We have the entire production and service industry and we have the Department of Agriculture and Food with 4,000 civil servants with very little to do. I am absolutely shattered at this Bill. I do not want to be accused of being political but why must we have that?

Section 4 (6) provides that Teagasc can earn money outside of the State, probably through agency work in the Third World. Is that the basis on which Irish farmers will have to compete after 1992? I do not understand where the priorities lie. Obviously, the draftsman is from the Department of Finance and once we accept that, we can see that this is just a new way of getting in additional taxation. It does not even have to be hidden at this stage and the fact that it will milk the system for what it is worth is a pity.

The original Bill was drafted in 1977 after considerable effort during 1975, 1976 and probably during 1977 before the change of Government. I submit that Mr. Gibbons who was the Minister for Agriculture in 1977 changed, as he was entitled to do, the Bill that was prepared by the previous Government because he did not like it. This Bill writes off agriculture and contains no recognition that in future the agricultural industry will require top class research programmes and facilities. I notice that the word “sheep” is not even mentioned in the definition section and yet if we listen to the advice we are getting sheep will be an increasingly important commodity in agricultural economics. Last year An Foras Talúntais were forced to discontinue their sheep research station in either Roscommon or Mayo, I do not know which. I want to know whether those services will be adequate.

I believe I can speak with a fair amount [1852] of authority on this Bill. I suppose I should declare an interest in it because I am a farmer and have been a member of a committee of agriculture for the best part of 30 years. I live quite near the research station in Oak Park which specialises in crop husbandry. The work carried out there is significant but there was a 50 per cent cutback in their funding last year. The Minister must be aware that crops, whether cereal or root, have not maintained their percentage profitability. The research arm of An Foras Talúntais should be available to devise and propagate new varieties of crops and pest control systems. I should like to know how they will compete with the services being provided by central Government now that their budget has been halved.

I hope the Minister will be kind enough to let the House know what powers are reserved to him and the Department of Agriculture and Food because the guy calling the tune in 13 of the sections is his colleague, the Minister for Finance. That is nonsensical. For many years we advocated the transfer of the semi-State organisation Comhlucht Siúicre Éireann which was under the Department of Finance to the Department of Agriculture and Food because we thought the Department of Agriculture and Food would be more sympathetic to that important semi-State industry. All of the technical services for agriculture advice and education are going to be under the thumb of the Minister for Finance and I think this is a nonsense — there are better words I could use to describe this but I do not want to incur the wrath of the Cathaoirleach. If the new body want to set up a scheme on a new strain of barley which requires finance, what sort of a hearing will they get in the Department of Finance? It is regrettable that they should have to make special provision for external agency services because that will not be required if we are going to compete in the Community.

Section 4 (1) provides that the functions of Teagasc shall be to provide or procure the provision of “educational, [1853] training and advisory services in agriculture, including such educational, training and advisory services in agriculture as may be specified by the Minister for the purpose of giving effect to any directive, regulation or other act adopted by an institution of the European Communities...” That is a very important function, but I should like to know why it has to be written in here. Will the Minister have a say in this or will he just implement directives? I ask the Minister to explain the phraseology used in this Bill? It will be a sorry state if the profitability of agriculture has to depend on the people in the Department of Finance, who do not have the slightest care about whether people are in or out of work. They have treated every other sector in the same manner and cutbacks are taken percentage wise. I believe that the officials who are specially chosen for the Department of Finance do not care about the human element of any job. If the Minister has any other experience of this he should tell the House.

In the early sixties there was great movement in the advisory services and the greatest boost they got especially in Tipperary, was the parish plan, which meant that there was one adviser for three rural parishes. The adviser was directed to become the friend, confidant and supporter of individual farmers and that system worked well during that period. I am not suggesting that we should revert back to that, but if the Minister funded the new organisation so that they could install a new computerised information service there might be some hope for this system. During the last few years ACOT were denuded of their ordinary advisory services in each county. The staff either went to regional offices or to the office in Blackrock, which overnight acquired a staff of almost 100 people.

At one stage County Laois had 17 advisers and one secretary. In order that services could be supervised at regional level ACOT had an office in the Lyons Estate of University College, Dublin, which was staffed by a regional director, a couple of assistant directors and a [1854] number of staff. In order that they could cater for the rest of the regions between 70 and 100 administrative staff were located in a new headquarters in Blackrock. I do not know which section of the Department of Agriculture and Food directed the service. I do not understand why the Minister of the day took that direct control away from the section because in the ordinary way that the Civil Service works they had achieved quite a lot. Output was much improved over the years and the service met most of the challenges of the time. The county committees of agriculture who have been castigated for the past five or six years for want of finance are now being unceremoniously abolished. I believe that the General Council of Committees of Agriculture were a valuable asset in channelling local advice to a central authority. Civil servants and draftsmen seem to have a tremendous detestation of public representatives and this is obvious from section 10.

The Minister in his Second Stage speech said — and I was surprised at this — that the position now is over 70 per cent of the committees' expenditure has been absorbed in travelling expenses of the members. I was a member of the Laois County Committee of Agriculture and for years and my reimbursement for travelling expenses amounted to the princely sum of £1.0.6. When I was chairman of the committee in 1979 I let the Laois Conference of the Blind use a section of the ground floor of our building which consisted of a kitchen, a pantry and another room, so that they could set up a craft shop to make baskets and so on. There were six or eight blind people involved in that craft shop, as well as a social worker from Tullamore. I rented the kitchen for one shilling a year because I thought it was the charitable and proper thing to do. The auditor surcharged me approximately £100 per year, but in effect I had not got a penny for years.

Before the last local elections I used to get £16 or £19 for each monthly meeting. There were 16 members on the committee and I think most people used to receive about the same amount. Is the [1855] Minister now saying that 70 per cent of the finance allocated to a county committee of agriculture was used to run the advisory service? I do not know the exact figures but I do not think the expenses for each member should have amounted to more than £170 or £190 a year. I have not been a member of a committee for the past three or four years but nevertheless I do not understand how travelling expenses could amount for 70 per cent of a budget. I am surprised that the Minister laid the blame for the closure of the advisory service on the cost of member's travelling expenses. I would like the Minister to explain that in fairness to county councillors and farmers of all political shades and opinions who have, since 1931, served their counties well.

When the first of the green certificates were introduced by the Department of Agriculture and Food my committee actually had to canvass farmers to let their sons go. The farming community in the main are conservative. The older farmers had got by without any such grandiose classes and they assumed their sons could do the same. Members went out of their way to ensure the success of the scheme and it is beyond me how the Department or the draftsman did not know exactly the nature of the work undertaken by the committees. I regret that a role has not been found for the General Council of Committees of Agriculture. It is an important aspect and I would be amazed if the Department and Minister were not aware of the fact that practices, procedures and husbandry in counties vary greatly depending on the quality of the land from one parish or townland to another. Therefore, one generalised grandiose scheme is not going to work, because what might suit one area may well be of little value to another area.

I should like to make a few general remarks about the service we are doing away with. To my certain knowledge An Foras Talúntais have been effective and efficient in carrying out the duties and responsibilities assigned to them under the Acts I mentioned earlier. The [1856] research centres at Moorepark, Oak Park, Johnstown Castle and Lullymore made an excellent contribution to the dairy, pig husbandry, root cereals, tillage, peat soil, vegetable and forestry sectors. I read in the newspaper that the research centre at Lullymore was to be closed and the board dispensed with and I believe this would be typical of the Department of Finance. In the midlands there are over a quarter of a million acres of cutaway bog and Bord na Móna, who I understand are on a wind-down, do not know what to do with it. It is not fit for forestry because Bord na Móna, despite protestations over the years, cut it down to the gravel so that there is not sufficient peat there to support an afforestation programme. I hope that the new organisation will ensure, in the interests of the midlands, that the peat experimental station at Lullymore will be expanded so that they can find ways of utilising that huge expanse of cutaway bog which covers large tracts of land in Counties Offaly, Kildare, Westmeath and Laois. If that bog is not utilised the people in those areas will be left with a brown desert and that would be highly undesirable. The people who are charged with research are the ones who must come forward with the suggestions and proposals for that bog. Research has been carried out in Lullymore for the past 25 or 26 years and results must be available which would ensure the proper utilisation of that bog.

I should like the Minister to give us a clear indication of where the agricultural industry is heading, especially when the research arm are not enthused by the importance of their job. Anyone who has visited any of the research stations over the last few months will know that the people there did not know whether they were coming or going and they do not have any great spirit.

The Bill proposes that ACOT and An Foras Talúntais be merged into one organisation. The recruitment grade for An Foras Talúntais was an honours graduate. They had no such requirement for the advisory service. I suppose that [1857] will not constitute a problem. Nevertheless, I think that we need this long research, for trials and for the development of new varieties. Indeed, the food technology sector is a whole new region where we must have an input and have results from the research if we are going to keep abreast and to benefit from the value-added, high quality guaranteed food products that this country is capable of producing.

It is difficult to know where one would try to amend the Bill. I would submit that it is a poor substitute for the 57 years of agricultural legislation that it repeals and I would hope that time and the Minister's expert ideas on quality will prove me completely wrong. I would hope to see a future in agriculture for myself, but from where do I get advice? I certainly will not get sympathy if I am depending on the Department of Finance. It has never been there in the 30 years I am here. In regard to any section of the community or any Department in the State, if they want to cut back they will cut back percentagewise and they do not really care what section is affected or is left out. I very much regret that this Bill is so restricted.

The Minister in his Second Reading speech, which I followed on the monitor and read with great care, paid a fullsome and very well deserved tribute to An Foras Talúntais and said it had a worldwide reputation for the excellence of its research. I quite concur with that. But, if the Minister is so proud of the work of An Foras Talúntais, why does he abolish their title and their designation and replace them with an unpronouncable Irish word “An Teagasc”, or whatever it is — I have not got my tongue around it yet. What will that mean to their colleagues in the research institute in Scotland or the Northern Ireland people who will probably work very hard to come to terms with it. I think these people will be obscure for the next ten years. Certainly, for the next four years they will be invisible. At this time, when we need the support of every arm of the State, it is important that An Foras Talúntais should be there. I would ask [1858] that in this instance the Minister would give a more recognisable name to his new creation. I think we are entitled to that.

The most important part of this Bill is the provision of research and training. I do not think that the ACOT service has ever recovered from the advice they gave previous to the last bank squeeze. As soon as farmers got into trouble ACOT not only distanced themselves from them but they charged people for going back for advice to make sure that they would not come near them. They were quite content to sit and do nothing and blame it on the lack of expenses or whatever excuse came into their heads. That, I think, has been a great disappointment, and we are suffering from that. We have a situation now where practically all agricultural product is gone onto quota. If you are a beet farmer you do not know whether you are going to have a beet contract until a week before you sow, indeed until they come around to sign the contract. Cereals have escaped, but cereals have been on contract for years so that in the main you wait for the price to see what you will sow. The whole agricultural industry is in turmoil. It is unfortunate, yet the Minister for Agriculture does not seem to be coming to grips with the problems. I do not know if the Minister recognises the problems that beset the agricultural industry, especially those of the smaller farmers at the present time. They have no one to contact. It would be far more honest if the Minister said “Listen, let's go and privatise the education and advisory services.” Take the aids to agriculture available in County Laois, one of the few counties where the complete scientific soil survey has been carried out by An Foras Talúntais and which shows clearly that sizeable portions of the county have a land quality much the same as County Leitrim. Yet for some reason this Government have absolutely no intention of designating those areas as disadvantaged when they clearly are. Those are the kind of problems farmers, big and small, are being faced with in rural Ireland, and I do not see that my county can be any different from the rest of [1859] them. There is the outrageous situation in County Offaly where one side of the River Shannon has been designated for the last 12 years; the east bank is supposed to be prime land and yet it floods to the very same height, five feet, for seven months of the year. The whole thing is a nonsense. I thought that this Minister for Agriculture would tackle those ongoing problems which have been paid lip service year in and year out.

I would hope that the Minister has not got this amalgamation idea wrong. Certainly, while I am not against change, I do not see in that anything that would make me very happy. Indeed, I am absolutely scared stiff at the idea that these important functions of the Minister for Agriculture should be transferred, almost with a cheer, to his colleague, the Minister for Finance.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  This is a very late hour of the night to be discussing agriculture but I understand the House is to finish at 11.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  We can get a directive from yourselves.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  I am used to sittings on agriculture right through the night, and one of the reasons I am anxious to get this through now is that for the next few weeks I will be engaged elsewhere right through the night. So perhaps we could conclude the Second Stage.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Perhaps Senator Ryan could help us out here. Senator McMahon, Senator Bradford, at least, and the Minister are to come in. Could you extend the time?

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I will not be very long, but I understand Senator Bradford is to speak and I think we have another speaker, as far as I am aware.

Mr. W. Ryan: Information on William Ryan  Zoom on William Ryan  I do not mind going on until 12 o'clock.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  There is a proposal [1860] to complete Second Stage and allow the Minister to reply. Is it agreed?

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I am reluctant to agree because I understand there is another speaker on our side in the House and I am not familiar with what decisions were made here earlier. I heard someone being assured that it would finish at 11 tonight.

Mr. W. Ryan: Information on William Ryan  Zoom on William Ryan  If we do not finish the Second Stage today we can take the Committee Stage next Tuesday, and we want to take the Committee Stage next Tuesday. There is a certain amount of urgency about the Bill.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Is it agreed that the sitting be extended to complete Second Stage and the Minister to conclude?

Agreed.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  It is to be regretted that this Bill is coming before the House at this time because there is an impression among the urban population, probably emanating from much of the publicity farming has been getting in Europe and here in this country, that farmers are no longer wanted or needed. This Bill is not going to help that impression or the division between the urban and rural dwellers.

We have seen some newspaper reports where it was said farmers have been paid, as one correspondent put it, to stay in bed, or paid to farm three quarters of their farm, and whatever they do with one other quarter is up for speculation. This is rather puzzling to the urban population and I do not think this Bill will help in that regard. However, the Bill is before us. I am not the youngest Senator here. I may be in the autumn of my life but I feel sure that many younger Senators will see the day when we will regret the passing of this Bill. Everything seems to be geared toward the concept of a large European market. Many would say that we are being ruled from Europe. I do not think any of the regulations or rules which come from Europe have ever benefited [1861] the small business person in Ireland, and certainly the small family farm will not benefit in the future.

I know it can be argued that whatever difficulties we have experienced — we have had fewer difficulties in farming areas than in other areas — we would have no hope outside the EC. We must be members of it; but I do not believe we must go along with all the rules and regulations these dreamers in Brussels come up with. I am sorry to say that our negotiators in Europe are either pressurised, outvoted or outmanouevred with regard to the many regulations, mostly affecting the farming community. Here we are gearing ourselves to that large European market and nothing small is to be counted anymore.

The Minister today gave us much to think about. He made a fair case generally for what he is trying to do, but he has not been altogether fair in all of his remarks. I believe agriculture over the years, even when ACOT was brought into existence, suffered in this country; but it will suffer still more. I am not talking about the large ranches, which they are used to talking about in Europe and in America and other countries where a holding of 500 acres is considered to be a small farm. I am talking about the small Irish family farm, which one apparently does not want anymore. When we move away from that there are many who will live to regret it.

I am not too sure what prompted this Bill. I am inclined to agree with Senator McDonald when he made reference to the Department of Finance. I see now that every move being made is referred back to the Department of Finance. Many of the other Departments, including the Department of Agriculture, have less power than when I first came into the Oireachtas, and that is not so long ago. There seems to be an over-anxiety to ensure that the books are balanced, that whatever measures have to be taken the money end of it must be right.

It would appear that the Department of Agriculture are gearing themselves to ensure that they do not overstep their expenditure. That is a great pity, because [1862] agriculture has been described by the Minister and by many of his predecessors as our greatest industry. How long will that last? Do we not need our small family farms any longer? If we are gearing ourselves towards creating farms of 800 acres, 1,000 acres or 2,000 acres, then it is about time the country was told that. We should not be edging towards it, pushing out, and causing suffering on these small family farms in the process. Of course, there are changes taking place in all aspects of life, but there are far greater changes in agriculture than in most other industries. Certainly, since we joined the EC, we can see that happening.

I often think of the time after the last war when we moved towards creating farms that would produce pigs exclusively, fowl exclusively or cattle exclusively. Many of the Senators will not remember that, but I am old enough to remember when we moved away from the couple of cows and the few pigs in the backyard and, indeed, when the cottier had his couple of pigs in the backyard. We thought we were going to flood all of Europe with pigs. The reverse happened. When we did away with the cottage pig the pig population dropped to figures none of us ever dreamed of. Instead of doing a better job we were cutting our own throats. Many of us would gladly go back to the days of great opportunities in the forties and fifties — opportunities which we missed — in opening up and supplying extra markets in Europe.

This Bill will make information and advice services more remote for the farmers who most need them. Of course, much has been done in research. I fully agree with the Minister in his remarks regarding An Foras Talúntais. A great deal has been done in bringing the results of that research and advice to farmers. But the greatest loss of all will be the loss of the county committees of agriculture, because much of the expertise, much of the advice and much of the knowledge that was brought to the farming community has been brought through the county committees of agriculture. Many farmers would never have accepted the advice that was coming down from the [1863] experts were it not for the presence in the local communities of the county committees of agriculture. I would appeal to the Minister, when this Bill becomes law, to make some provision for local committees once more. He has given way in the Dáil to having on the committee people other than his appointees — outside interests will have the right to nominate persons from which the Minister can choose. I do not think that is enough. Unless we get back to our county committees we will not be dealing adequately with the needs of the local small family farm.

A number of people in this State played an important part in the discussion when we were deciding whether we would join the EC. The biggest objection put forward at that time was that we would lose our sovereignty. We have a lot more to lose if we are to lose our traditional way of life on the Irish farm. Many thousands of European visitors come to Ireland each year simply to see how our farming is carried on. This will bring such a dramatic change in farming methods and farming generally in Ireland that I believe we will lose that.

The power of the county committees of agriculture have been eroded over the last few years. When we moved to ACOT it was not a move in the right direction because there were cutbacks. Gone are the days when the farmer, when building a house for his son, could call on the county committee of agriculture for advice as to how that new farmhouse should be laid out, not only on site but also the interior of the farmhouse. That might not seem very important; but how the family live on that family farm is extremely important because every member of the family is taking part in the business, unlike most other businesses. It is important that the house should be laid out in the proper manner. There is now no advice on that subject. Perhaps we could have suffered that, but many small farmers had to diversify in the difficult years we have just come through. I know many who went into poultry — the few hundred turkeys at Christmas which [1864] saved them from disaster, which saved them from being put out on the roadside. But they had to do it without the advice of county committees of agriculture because the poultry instructors were taken from us some years ago. Perhaps the Minister by the nod of his head is trying to correct me. It has been taken from the man with the small flock. The man with the big flock is required to pay for the service. I know very many small farmers, particularly in my own area, where the few hundred turkeys at Christmas saved them from disaster. Anyone producing fewer than 500 turkeys was not entitled to any service whether they were prepared to pay for it or not. It was only those with the larger flock, over 500, who could get the service provided they paid for it. One would have thought that it should have been the opposite. In years gone by such services, not only in this area but in other areas, were given to people who were too small to provide it for themselves and not given to the person who was big enough to provide it for himself. We did the reverse in agriculture; we looked after the person with the big farm, the big flock or the big herd, and the person with the small farm or the man who wanted to diversify had to diversify with his own knowledge or with what he could pick up from people perhaps serving on county committees of agriculture.

The Minister dealt with an item at page 6 and I believe he was grossly unfair.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  In fairness, the case was put very fully and very effectively. I took the point.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  In case the Minister did not fully take it, I will expand on it. I quote:

The position now is that over 70 per cent of committee expenditure has been absorbed in travelling expenses of the members and payment to ACOT for administrative services.

The Minister failed to give the expenditure in those areas over the years. If it is picked up by the press — we are probably too late tonight for the press to pick [1865] it up, which is just as well, but the Minister was not too late — it will drive another wedge between the agricultural community and city and town dwellers. Seventy per cent of what figure? Seventy per cent of 10 per cent of similar expenditure five years ago? The county committees of agriculture have been starved of finance. The only expenditure left to them was the travelling expenses. That was an unfair and an unfortunate sentence for the Minister to put on the record.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  I will have less time tomorrow to proof read speeches and the following day I will have less time and then someone like Senator McMahon will be able to make a 15 minute comment on what I said. There is a limit to the number of minutes in any one day, days in a week and weeks in a month. We will go on for another hour and than I will have less time again tomorrow.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Senator should be allowed to make his speech.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I am not quite sure what point the Minister is making. If the point the Minister is making is that I should shut up and sit down, then I am sorry he is making that point.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  If the Senator would give a little bit of inspiration or motivation or direction, it would be great.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Senator must be allowed to make his speech.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  If the Minister is saying that he has less time now to pay attention to this House than he has to Brussels, then perhaps the point is made, the point I was making earlier in my contribution tonight that the Minister is overworked, that the results we are getting at home because of negotiations and decisions at European level are not beneficial to the person who means more to this country than most other communities — the small farmer on the family farm whom we are forcing out of business. We are denying [1866] him the service he is entitled to. I would go far as to say that that person might have a case under the Constitution that we are denying him the right to live in this country, that we are giving him absolutely no assistance while we are prepared to give assistance to foreigners coming in to take a chance at some business and to make off again, leaving many suffering families behind them. We are grinding to a suffering existence the small Irish farmer. More than the loss of production on that farm will be felt in this country, because we are losing something which has been of great value from the point of view of tourism and of preparing them — as indeed more of them will have to be prepared — for other lands, because, unfortunately, over the next five years I can see more people leaving this country.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Senator must be allowed continue without interruption.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  I am glad the young farmers are not listening.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  Whatever about the young farmers of Ireland listening to me, I am afraid the Minister is not listening to the young farmers of Ireland.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Senator must be allowed to make his speech without interruptions.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I regret to have to say this, but I believe we will see more people emigrating from Ireland in the next five years than ever emigrated in any five years previously. I know it will take five years to prove me right or wrong. I hope I am wrong. I hope the Minister, or anyone who has heard me make this statement, will be able to say in five years time “Larry, you were wrong”. I believe that this Bill will drive more people from the land. In the past fewer people emigrated from the land than from industries in the towns or countryside. There is something that keeps an Irish farmer, or a lad or [1867] lassie reared on Irish soil, in Ireland. I very much regret the introduction of this Bill at this time.

Mr. Hussey: Information on Thomas Hussey  Zoom on Thomas Hussey  The Senator is out on his own, because all the other Fine Gael speakers welcomed it.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  It is not the first time that I was on my own. If I feel I am right I do not mind being on my own. My shoulders are broad enough. I am long enough on this earth and I have a neck hard enough to be able to withstand any opposition that comes providing I know I am right. I will give in easily if I am doubtful, but if I am right I will hold on. Many may see the farming industry as having come through a rough time. Many may see the small Irish farmer as a person who is not needed on the European map today. We will regret the day we close the shop.

I believe we are coming to a period when the Irish farmer will need more advice than he got during the forties, fifties or sixties because we are coming to a time of large markets, and huge production. As I said earlier, there is now a scheme to pay farmers to leave a third or a quarter of their farms uncultivated, but no Irish farmer is going to leave a quarter of his land uncultivated. This farmer would need advice on what to do when any such scheme is put to him. Of course, the Minister can say he can grow trees on his farm — a very good proposition, but no Irish farmer will take advice from forestry instructors to grow trees. If he is to grow trees on the other quarter or third of his farm it is from the agriculturalists that he will take the advice. I believe the departure of the county committees of agriculture is a disaster. I believe the Minister will probably see that. I could join the rosary with the Minister——

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  And bring in the undertaker and bring in all the young farmers of Ireland to hear the funeral service.

[1868](Interruptions.)

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I hope that somebody will read a few of my words somewhere. Perhaps not tomorrow. But they may read them in a year's, two years' time or maybe ten years' time when I have departed from this House, or maybe departed from this earth, for that matter. I am quite sure the Minister has doubts, but he is probably not allowed to put them to us I believe it would be far better if Ministers generally — I am speaking about Ministers right down along the line; not just a Fianna Fáil Minister but any Minister who may sit up there — were more frank in their Second Stage speeches in telling us “Of course, this is the way I see it. This is what I have to do, but there are dangers in it”. The Minister has not outlined any dangers in his speech. Of course, he has to hide his fears, because he must put the point across. I believe he does not have to do that. I believe no Minister has to do that in any Department. I believe they should be franker with people, just like the Department of Finance are being frank with the country now, and they are getting general acceptance of the cutbacks and what they are doing in health, social welfare, education and other areas like that. There is a general acceptance now of these cutbacks that we would not have got ten years ago, five years ago or perhaps four years ago.

I do not have to remind the House of the 1977 election — everything was then quite the reverse — but we would not have got an acceptance like that. I believe that, if Ministers were franker and if they outlined to us the dangers in Bills they were presenting and if the Minister said he would keep an eye on the situation, perhaps I could sit down with a little more ease. I am sitting down now with great fear in my heart of what will happen to agriculture here over the next few years.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  I would like to know when it is proposed to end this debate. I understand this morning on the Order of [1869] Business that this debate was to conclude at 11 o'clock. It is now 11.29 p.m. Could the Chair explain to me——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  I would like to point out that at 11 o'clock the House agreed to extend the sitting until the conclusion of Second Stage. Maybe the House would agree something different now, I do not know, but that is what they agreed at 11 o'clock.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  I was not consulted about the sitting being extended indefinitely.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I raised that point in the absence of information.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  I am quiet easy if people want or do not want to finish. The Cathaoirleach recorded the agreement of the House. Can we finish by 12 o'clock?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  By order of the House it was agreed to conclude Second Stage.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  I do not know how the House renews its orders every now and then. I understand there are well-accepted procedures, It is very unfortunate. Everybody knew this morning on the Order of Business that this Bill was to conclude at 11 p.m. and, at this unholy hour of the night, it is only a minimal consideration that it should be allowed to terminate now.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  It was an order of the House.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  There are other speakers to come and suppose it is not concluded at 12 midnight do we continue on?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  My only function is to ensure that the decisions of the House are carried out and, by agreement, it was decided to finish Second Stage. I can only abide by that decision. The agreements are made mainly through the Whips and I presume [1870] it was by agreement that that proposition was made at 11 o'clock.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  I am not aware——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  We cannot have a debate on it.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  We are having a prolonged debate which we should not have and I submit that it is against Standing Orders of this House that we should have a debate beyond 11 p.m.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Senator Connor, you will have to resume your seat. Senator Bradford, on Second Stage.

Mr. Bradford: Information on Paul Bradford  Zoom on Paul Bradford  I propose to report progress.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  That is contrary to the order of the House.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  On a point of order, I can see the Leas-Chathaoirleach's dilemma. The Leader of the House indicated today that we would go on until 11 o'clock and that there was not a rush about this legislation. Naturally, we want to facilitate the Minister but I understood that 11 o'clock was the termination time. I know there are other people who want to contribute and, if they were not aware of the decision at 11 o'clock to continue indefinitely, they would be very upset about a very important piece of legislation——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  There is nothing the Chair can do.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  Can we on this side propose the adjournment of the debate or can we reach a consensus that we would adjourn because the Minister——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  That is not possible. At the beginning of the day the Order of Business is decided and when the time for the House to adjourn came the House made a new order which was that it would consider——

[1871](Interruptions.)

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  Surely if we make an order at 11 o'clock we cannot make another order at 11.30 p.m.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  It is quite clear that proposals on the Order of Business come from the Leader or the Acting Leader of the House and I cannot accept the proposal from the Opposition side. This is the long followed practice and procedure and it is quite clear to the Chair.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I want to make the position clear. When this arose at 11 o'clock I made the point that I was not in a position to agree or disagree, but I understood there were to be further speakers on this debate and we discussed that for a time. I quite understand, a Leas-Chathaoirligh, that you cannot accept a motion from this side of the House. Perhaps the Acting Leader of the House would propose a motion that we adjourn at this stage because, quiet honestly, I was unhappy about agreeing to anything. I did not disagree but I did not——

Mr. Hussey: Information on Thomas Hussey  Zoom on Thomas Hussey  I think what the Senators are trying to do at this late hour is completely out of order. The Minister explained at the time we fixed the sitting at 11 o'clock that there was a certain degree of urgency about getting Second Stage of this Bill through the House, that he had other engagements next week and that he would not be able to come back for Committee Stage for some time. We agreed to continue and finish Second Stage tonight and that is very reasonable. Whatever length it takes, the Minister said he was prepared to sit on and finish it. We heard a lot of criticism from both Fine Gael and Labour speakers about the delays in putting this legislation through and getting this new board set up and it is wrong of them to——

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  You heard no complaints from us.

[1872]An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Chair must enforce the decision of the House, and that is it.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  It is only fair that I should be allowed to make my point. This Bill was introduced in the Dáil on 18 February. We get seven or eight hours to deal with it. Several of my colleagues have come to me to say they wish to contribute on this Bill. They were told it was concluding at 11 o'clock and that there was no way they could get in, and now suddenly they are being deprived of their right to speak——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  That is completely out of my hands at this stage. The Chair very much regrets that my only function is to carry out the orders of the House as proposed by the Leader or Acting Leader of the House and that is exactly what I am doing. The decision was made and I am not in a position to change it or entertain a proposition from the Opposition side of the House. That is the long-standing practice and all our colleagues are quite aware of it. Senator Bradford to continue on Second Stage.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  Certain Members of this House want to contribute to this debate and they are now stymied from contributing in this debate because of your actions. I suggest to the Leas-Chathaoirleach that you should operate in a democratic way.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  We cannot have a debate on this. Senator Connor, please resume your seat.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I ask our colleagues on the other side of the House to consider the dilemma we find ourselves in. I ask them to put a proposition to you——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Whips will consider it outside. If they want to make a change they can come back into the House but, in the meantime, it is my function to carry out the order of the House. I call on Senator Bradford to continue.

[1873]Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  Part of the agreement of the House was that Senators would conclude by 12 midnight and that I would have an opportunity to reply as a courtesy to the House. That was the agreement and I make no other comment about that. I came here to treat this House with respect and to have an opportunity to reply to the points made. It looks as if I will not have an opportunity to reply to the points made as there seems to be a view that I should not.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  On a point of order, there is no obligation on the Minister to reply to the debate tonight. In fairness to the Minister, he said there is no urgency. The Leader of the House said today there was no guillotine.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  I want to be quite objective because this is important. I owe this to the House of the Oireachtas. Next week I will be required to represent the country at the Council of Agriculture Ministers for two days. The following week I will be required to be at the same Council for one full week and, because of those obligations I am obliged to discharge to the people and the Oireachtas, I said that every possible effort would be made to make myself available until all hours of the day or night here, irrespective of what the proposal of the Members would be, that I should be reasonably physically and spiritually equipped to do the job I am expected to do next week. I only ask for that degree of understanding. The House agreed that we would finish by 12 midnight and I ask——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  I do not recall the time of 12 midnight being mentioned.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  Since the Chair does not know what arrangements were made, I suggest that you suspend the sitting immediately.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Senator [1874] Connor, resume your seat. Senator Bradford, do you wish to continue the debate?

Mr. Bradford: Information on Paul Bradford  Zoom on Paul Bradford  Yes. The position will be clarified later. I will continue with my own comments and, when it comes to 12 midnight, we will see what 12 midnight brings. I intend first to make a few points on the Minister's speech in the House earlier today. Many people have commented upon the name that has been put on this new amalgamated body. The Irish name, we are told, means either teaching or instruction — Teagasc. It is not a very well-chosen name and, whilst this may not be an extremely important point in the overall context of the Bill, it is a pity that agreement could not have been reached in the other House between the parties to find a more suitable title for the new organisation.

Undoubtedly, if the Minister had even organised a competition amongst infants of a school-going age, he would have had a better name proposed by people of that age group. The Minister informed us earlier that he has reflected on one issue since the Dáil debate concluded, namely the question of the establishment of subsidiary bodies by Teagasc, and he indicated his willingness to place an amendment before the Seanad to allow Teagasc to remove the restriction on the subsidiary bodies being wholly owned by the new organisation. I would agree with this amendment and, whilst I realise that some of the speakers earlier on expressed some doubt about the benefits of this, it is good that all State bodies are to be allowed to develop their functions in a broader fashion than they have been down through the years. I hope that, as a result of the decision to allow Teagasc to set up subsidiary bodies which are not fully owned, we will see them branching out into areas which the former AFT and ACOT bodies did not and that we will see some important joint venture bodies set up.

There has been much mention here in the debate of the importance of research to the whole agricultural industry. Obviously, we are all aware of agriculture's future dependence on the quality of [1875] research which we make available to it but, when we compare the amount of money being spent in this country in comparison with that being spent by our nearest competitors within the European Community, we have to agree that our efforts and our levels of expenditure are quite questionable. I have some figures here which show, for instance, how Britain has been spending 3.2 times the rate we spend in Ireland, how Belgium spends at least twice our rate, The Netherlands over one and a half times our rate, and France one and a quarter times the rate in Ireland. This shows that what has been happening up to now in this country has not been sufficient and that the further cutbacks which will be imposed as a result of this merger on the amount of money being spent on agriculture research will cause a continuing problem and will probably result in us falling further behind in the development of new products in comparison with our European competitors.

The former AFT body — which is not fully redundant — produced some dramatic results in the Irish agricultural field. As one who lives quite adjacent to one of these research stations, namely, the Moorepark dairy research unit in Fermoy, I would have to agree that the present uncertainty surrounding the whole future of the merged AFT — ACOT body and the undoubted uncertainty which has arisen as a result of the limited expenditure on it has caused a lot of difficulties for these institutes. If Moorrpark is anything to judge by, there is a great lack of confidence in the institutes at present. The whole agriculture industry will suffer as a result of this lack of confidence.

I know that, once this Bill is concluded here in the Oireachtas and once the situation becomes more clear, some of this concern and worry should cease but, at the end of the day, the limited funds which will be available to the research institutes will ensure that they will not be able to develop as they should and, consequently, the dairy industry and, [1876] indeed, all other projects in the agricultural sectors will not be developing as they should and will not be preparing for the future as they should.

I recall that, when we debated in this House last year the Bill dealing with the decision to allow the ACOT organisation to charge certain moneys and make levies for their services, those of us who warned at the time that it would result in a big fall-off in the number using the services were told by the Government spokespersons that we were trying to create a scare and that large numbers of people would not stop using the research or advisory services. However, almost a year later, I think even the Minister would have to admit that our assessment of the situation then was most certainly correct. Unfortunately, whilst the sum of money being charged by ACOT to many of the farmers might have appeared quite small, it proved to be beyond the reach of many of the farmers, particularly the smaller and under-developed farmers, and those people who needed the services most have, unfortunately, in many instances, stopped using the services. That is very regrettable and it is bad news for the agricultural industry as such and for the economy of the country as a whole.

We see at present a return of mass migration from the land to the urban areas and this movement of people in search of employment and in search of a better living than they can find on the land is adding to the unemployment figures and adding to the numbers taking the emigration option. The only way, in the short-term at least, in which we can try to alleviate that situation is by ensuring that people on the land have enough options to get around the present production quotas which face them. In order to bring this into being, we need to spend more, certainly not less, money on research and development. Unfortunately, in that report this Bill is going in the very opposite direction.

One need only look back briefly at the history of the research and advisory services to know that they have been most successful and have brought about [1877] a major increase in agricultural output, an increase in the overall GNP, and has put much spending power into the pockets of people in rural Ireland. For instance, when we consider the pilot schemes set up in the mid-sixties by the then Minister for Agriculture, Deputy Haughey, to develop agriculture, particularly throughout the western areas, we see that they increased real income in five years by over 40 per cent. This was an amazingly high figure and it showed how successful the advisory and research bodies were. From 1968 to 1974 we had schemes to help the smaller farmers and this type of small farm scheme produced an income increase of 70 per cent for those it was designed to help. This was a most laudable figure and it helped to keep people on the land and off the job market which was already overflowing.

The farm modernisation scheme was operated from 1976 to 1982, and was processed by ACOT, increased the real income of those who operated under the scheme by over 35 per cent, again a figure which speaks highly of the type of service being provided and those who were providing the service. The research, education and advice budget at present is falling very significantly at a time when it is needed most. I mentioned earlier the figures which we are spending in comparison with our European partners and they are quite insufficient.

A recent European study on the agricultural situation in the European Community showed that, on issues such as research and developments, countries such as The Netherlands, Belgium, etc. were spending the highest possible percentage, while countries such as Ireland and Italy, who need to be spending the highest, are spending the least. Consequently, we are falling further behind in the league of agricultural advancement throughout Europe. One of the gravest problems facing Irish agriculture today and one which certainly needs to be addressed fully by a properly funded, properly formed ACOT-AFT merged body is the problem of the structural difficulties which we face in some of the more western regions. As someone who [1878] comes from an area which is still considered agriculturally advantageous, I would have to say that we too in our areas see it.

I am speaking in particular of the huge number of fragmented holdings which are dotted all around the country and which cause quite a number of restrictions as regards development and advancement in farming. The solution to this problem of fragmented holdings needed not necessarily be the swallowing up of small farmers by the bigger farmers and the creation of larger units. It could well be the bringing together of many of these farmers to try to sort out some of the boundary differences and difficulties in their areas. Some sensible discussions which could well be organised by the research agencies would, I think, result in at least partial solutions to these problems. This would be extemely advantageous to the agricultural community.

The age profile of the farming community in this country has caused many problems and at present the rate of farm ownership among the over-65 community is one of the highest if not the highest in Europe. Admittedly, there have been quite a few attempts over the past ten years to try to redress this situation and we have seen special stamp duty exemptions etc., to encourage the earlier transfer of land holdings. We have seen schemes such as the installation grants system to bring about the earlier transfer of lands into the hands of younger farmers. However, as a result of the decrease in moneys at present available to ACOT, a fall-off will take place in the numbers of these necessary transfers because ACOT will not be able to run the number of courses which they should if farmers are to qualify for the special exemptions. ACOT will not have enough advisers going around the country to promote the transfer of land. It is regrettable that the consequences of this will continue in view of our difficult age profile situation.

There is another major structural difficulty in this country caused by what I would describe as inappropriate land use. Some speakers earlier mentioned the lack of afforestation development in areas [1879] where it could take off the ground in a quite dramatic fashion. Sometimes when we speak of afforestation we think of counties such as Leitrim where the percentage of trees grown could be increased dramatically but there are many acres of land throughout the more developed areas of the country where afforestation should be encouraged and would provide increased economic well-being. I see farmers in parts of my own territory spending many thousands of pounds on the development of poor land and, after a few years, this poor land unfortunately reverts to its former position. If they had spent some of this money on a policy of afforestation it would provide much greater longer term benefits. I welcome the forestry Bill which one of the Minister's colleagues has introduced. I know the topic of forestry is not relevant to this AFT-ACOT merger Bill, but I am just trying to make the point that, in order to encourage such things as an increased afforestation policy, we need the help of a full and well-financed development agency. Unfortunately, it would appear that in future years this will not be possible.

Many speakers and many people in the community who are concerned about the implications of this Bill have spoken of the fall-off this year in the budget of the combined ACOT-AFT body. We heard about a 43 per cent decrease. I am not sure whether that is correct to the nearest percentage point but it is fairly accurate. As has been said time and time again, when you consider that 43 per cent reduction in comparison with the far more minor reduction on the administrative side of the Department of Agriculture and Food, it is indeed a scandal. It is almost laughable that a body which had its budget reduced by 43 per cent is to be administered by a Department which had their budget reduced by only 5 per cent. It does not make any economic sense and it would be laughable but for the fact that for many people it will result in a sad situation.

(Interruptions.)

[1880]An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Senator does not need interruptions.

Mr. Bradford: Information on Paul Bradford  Zoom on Paul Bradford  I always take my colleague's advice. I have some figures here which indicate that, in 1987, 5,000 young farmers availed of the different type of agriculture courses which I mentioned earlier, those courses in particular which were designed to help and assist the speedy transfer of land to those young farmers. Unfortunately, it would appear that, under the present budget structure of the agricultural and research body, those numbers will drop dramatically. Perhaps in his reply the Minister could indicate what figure he feels this 5,000 will have fallen to by 1989. We have to recognise the fact that the only agricultural education available at present, apart from university degrees in agriculture, is the education available from the different agricultural colleges and the ACOT centres, etc. There will be less as a result of the reduced budget. It is a very short-sighted saving and the agricultural industry as a whole will lose as a result in the years ahead.

Senator Ryan mentioned the formation of the new Teagasc and the restrictions placed upon the groupings who may or may not be members of it. He mentioned in particular that Members of Seanad Éireann who are supposed, in theory, to represent the different vocational interests will not be allowed to be a member of the Teagasc body and he indicated that he would put down an amendment to rectify this. I agree with his assessment. It is ironic that some of us who were elected to the Seanad on the Agricultural Panel would under the present legislation be ineligible to be a member of the new body. This is something which the Minister should seriously consider. He should not confine the concession just to Members of the Agricultural Panel of the Seanad but extend it to the whole Seanad membership.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  On a point of order, it is now 12 midnight and I understand that [1881] the decision is that this debate should cease at 12 midnight.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The record shows that the House made an order at 11 o'clock saying that Second Stage will be completed.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  That would not appear to be the opinion of the Leader of the Opposition.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Chair has no discretion in the matter except to ask Senator Bradford to continue.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  I distinctly remember the Leader of the Opposition, not any more than 20 minutes ago, stating that it was his understanding that this debate conclude at 12 midnight. It is now past that. I suggest that we are in breach of the Standing Orders by proceeding beyond this point.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Chair has to carry out the Order of the House and the record shows that at 11 o'clock the House ordered that we would extend the sitting to conclude Second Stage. Senator Bradford to continue.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  My understanding was that the sitting was extended until 12 midnight. I protested against that; it has now reached 12 midnight and I suggest that it is time that——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  That is not correct, as the record shows. Senator Bradford to continue.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  I do not know what records you keep at this unholy hour of the night. With the greatest respect, the clear impression that was given and was also expressed by the Leader of the Labour group, who was probably here to hear the decision, was that we conclude at midnight. I was not here. The Leader of my group might have been consulted about this.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Senator [1882] Connor will appreciate that the Chair can only carry out the direction and the orders of the House. That is exactly what I am doing. I have directed that the record be listened to and examined and it is quite clear what the order was. I have taken that decision. I have directed the Clerk to listen to the tape and he has told me that the record shows that the House ordered at 11 o'clock that we would extend the sitting to conclude Second Stage. Senator Bradford to continue, please.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  In fairness, that was not the impression we had and it is not the impression——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  That is what the tape says.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  It may, but even the Minister at 11.30 p.m. indicated that he understood we were finishing——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Despite what anybody says, I have a responsibility to carry out faithfully the orders of the House.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I think I am correct in saying that we understood the motion to be that we would continue until 12 midnight and conclude——

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  If I had a little co-operation perhaps it would finish very shortly after 12 midnight.

Mr. Hussey: Information on Thomas Hussey  Zoom on Thomas Hussey  On a point of order, the original decision was that we would finish Second Stage tonight. That is quite clear in my mind.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  That is what the record shows.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I would propose——

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  It was unfair that decisions of this kind should be made behind my back. I was here leading my [1883] group on this subject today. I propose that this sitting be suspended as of now.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  I cannot accept that motion, because such a motion must come from the Acting Leader of the House.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  The Chair accepted the rescinding motion which rescinded the decision taken on the Order of Business this morning.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Senator O'Toole.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I would like to second the proposal of Senator Connor. I would like to say that, as a member of a group who had a discussion with the Leader of the Government party and with the Government Whip about the arrangements for today's debate, the arrangements were quite simple and quite clear: that the debate tonight would finish at 10.30 p.m. and that we would then take the Adjournment matter. People then come in at 11 p.m. and make further arrangements. I now propose that the House adjourn.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  There is nothing new in that.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I am sure that is nothing new, but you now have a proposal. I am afraid you are now going to have to put me out and I am going to push it to a vote.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Chair does not wish to put anybody out——

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I am seconding the proposal. I am determined to see it through.

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  I want to explain to Senator O'Toole that it is not within my power to accept that motion.

[1884]Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I think we are acting ultra vires, irregularly, to say the least, and irresponsibily. I second the proposal most vehemently, and I am highly supportive of my friends here in the Fine Gael Party. I am seconding and I wish to put the matter to a vote of the House.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  We cannot have a discussion on this now.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  Under the Standing Orders the House regulates and orders its own business——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Which it has done and which the Chair is endeavouring to carry out. What happened has been done many times.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  It is now going to be done again. There is a proposal from the House and I am seconding the proposal——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Unfortunately, the Chair cannot accept that motion. It is contrary to this question——

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  There is no question——

(Interruptions.)

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  There is a proposal in front of you and the proposal will have to be disposed of. Under the Standing Orders and regulations of this House the House orders its own business; the House is in session; the House has a proposal; the proposal has been duly seconded and the proposal must be disposed of one way or the other.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Would the Senator resume his seat?

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I am not prepared to resume my seat until this matter is put to the test of the House. There is a proposal before the House which I have seconded. The House orders its own business——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Standing [1885] Orders of the House have never envisaged the Order of Business being proposed from the Opposition benches. That is long standing procedure. I am only faithfully carrying out the orders of the House. Therefore, there is no motion.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  Whereas those erudite persons who put together the Standing Orders may not have envisaged this particular arrangements, there is very long standing arrangement that where a matter is not covered by the rules the executive authority of the House therefore decides what should be done.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  It is not possible to have a situation like that for the simple reason——

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I am seconding the proposal. I wish the matter to be resolved one way or another.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Would the Senator resume his seat?

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I believe we have a genuine problem here. It is not covered in the rules, as you have said. What the rules envisage and what the rules are interpreted to be is one thing. The House shall interpret the rules where the matter is not covered precisely by the rules. It is quite simple. There is a proposal that the House adjourn at this point. The proposal is seconded. I have no understanding of why that matter is not dealt with at this stage.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Would Senator O'Toole kindly resume his seat?

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  Sorry, I am not prepared to resume my seat.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Senator McMahon, please resume your seat.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  A Leas-Chathaoirligh, I would ask the Acting Leader of the House to put the proposition and then it will be——

[1886]An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Would the Senator resume his seat?

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I will, certainly, but I appeal to the Acting Leader of the House to put the proposition.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  To set the record straight, the Order of Business is dictated by the House. Senator O'Toole, would you kindly resume your seat or leave the House?

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  If the House dictates the order——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Would Senator Bradford resume his seat please?

Mr. Bradford: Information on Paul Bradford  Zoom on Paul Bradford  I am sorry. I am not prepared to let the matter die at this stage.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  I do not need anybody to lecture to me. When the Chair stands everybody must resume his seat. Senator Bradford, would you mind resuming your seat? In my long experience here I have never had to adjourn this House and I do not propose to do so now.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  There is a proposal before you.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  There can be no proposal for an adjournment from the Opposition benches. That is the long-standing procedure. Therefore, I cannot accept that motion, much as I would like to get home the same as others. I cannot accept it. You all understand the situation: the House made a decision at 11 o'clock. It is not the Chair's fault that the benches were not full. Would Senator Bradford kindly continue his speech?

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  On a point of order, a Leas-Chathaoirligh, who on my side of the House was consulted about this extension of time?

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I would also like to ask who on the Independent benches was [1887] consulted. We decided on the Order of Business for today——

(Interruptions.)

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The House stands suspended for five minutes.

Sitting suspended at 12.10 a.m. and resumed at 12.15 a.m.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  I understand Senator Bradford is in possession. Is that correct? Senator Bradford to continue.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  A Chathaoirligh, there has been a difficulty in your absence in relation to the lengthening of this debate tonight without consultation with anybody, as far as one can see. I have been objecting to this and I have suggested that the debate should have concluded at 11 o'clock as was arranged on the Order of Business this morning.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  In Senator Connor's absence we had agreement here that we would go on with the Second Stage of this Bill and that the Minister would reply and conclude at whatever hour. That was the decision of the House. The House, in your absence, Senator Connor, decided this.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  I would suggest to you, a Chathaoirligh, that somebody might have consulted with us and asked for our co-operation as a matter of courtesy, but that obviously was not done.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  It was a decision made at 10.55 p.m. I got that decision quite freely. The Minister's comment, as I recall it, was that he was quite used to sitting up all night and he would do it to facilitate anyone who wanted to speak. Senator Bradford was still to come in, if I recall correctly. I had called Senator Larry McMahon who was on his feet when I left the Chair. There was great peace and comfort. I was amazed when I was drinking orange at the other end of [1888] the House to hear there was a bit of trouble up here.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  I would always want nothing but peace and comfort in this House. I wonder how you arrived at the agreement of the House when none of us was consulted, I would have expected at least that somebody might have asked this side of the House.

Mr. Hussey: Information on Thomas Hussey  Zoom on Thomas Hussey  On a point of order, it is unfair of Senator Connor to say that nobody was consulted. There was agreement of the House at that time that we would continue until the Second Stage of the Bill was completed. The House was consulted.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Senator Bradford to continue.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  If there was an agreement within the House——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  The Senator must resume his seat or leave the House.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  I would like to know how you tested the agreement of the House or how you determined the agreement.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Senator Connor, your colleagues were here and I got the agreement of this distinguished House.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I was here and I was about to take part in the debate and the question was raised as to how long we were to sit. We had a small debate on that. I understood the decision to be to sit until 12. I was not the only person to have understood that. The Minister has since stated, since that question arose half an hour ago, that he understood we were to finish at 12. I was not the only one. I agreed to that reluctantly, because I did raise the point that we had other speakers, and certainly one other speaker from my party approached me about 10 o'clock and we assessed how long it would go on. We were of the understanding that time that it was to finish at 11. That speaker went away from this House, [1889] thinking that he could get in wherever the Bill came before the House again. There was a misunderstanding. To get out of this impasse I would appeal to the Leader of the House to propose that we now adjourn the debate until another day. We are pulling down the House.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  We are wasting time now, anyway. It is 12.20.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  It may save the House if we waste a little time now. It may save the House a lot of embarrassment, because quite honestly what has to go on here now is not helping the image of this House. I would appeal to the Leader of the House to put a proposition to you that we end this debate now and let us start it another day. He can easily do it; the proposition is there. It cannot be accepted from this side of the House, I understand, but it can be accepted from the other side. I think it is in the hands of the Leader now to end this whole embarrassment for many of us here, because reluctantly I agreed to sit until 12 o'clock. I am now being told that I agreed to sit until the debate ends, whatever time that is. That was not my understanding and it was not the understanding of the Minister who was present at the time.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Senator McMahon, I have to reiterate what I understood, and I was chairing the session of the House. I am still quite clear, and I was quite clear then, that what I was putting to the House and to my colleagues at the time was that we would finish Second Stage and that the Minister would conclude and that we would then adjourn. I honestly and sincerely mean I did not hear 12 o'clock stated but that we would finish, that I would call the speakers and the Minister would conclude. If the Minister would conclude that meant the end of Second Stage to me. In fact he made a remark that I recall, I remember the Minister Deputy O'Kennedy, saying that he was used to sitting all night in sessions, or something like that, and if it meant going [1890] on here it did not make any difference to him.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  Yes, he said that during the discussion. I would have to admit that. He did say that during the discussion, but the Minister has since stated that he understood we were to finish at 12. It is unfortunate that he is not here now. That was my understanding and I am accepting what you said and I am accepting that the decision was not as I understood it to be.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  How could anyone set a time of 12 o'clock when we were all agreed that we would let Senators speak and finish Second Stage and that the Minister would conclude? I do not know how he would even have put a time of 12 on it, with the greatest respect.

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  There was a proposition put to the House. The proposition was agreed. The proposition put was that we would conclude Second Stage tonight and that the Minister would reply. That is, as is.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Senator Bradford on the Bill.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  When was that stated, not at 11 o'clock?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  I cannot allow this to continue. I am going to be fair to everyone, and I hope I will always be considered in that way. I was in the Chair when this was decided. I do not know about the Minister being confused, but by God I am never confused in this Chair. If he said 12 o'clock while I was out of the Chair, that was his mistake. What I heard my colleagues agreeing to, as Cathaoirleach, was that——

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  Can I suggest that the debate continue, that we are going to conclude the debate on Second Stage tonight and that the Minister will reply.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  Can I suggest that [1891] those who left this House at 10.45 on the understanding that the debate——

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  They should not have left this House. They did not leave this House with the agreement of the Government party.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  No, but they left with an understanding that there was an agreement of this House to finish at 11.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Senator McMahon, we have been friends for a long time. You were on your feet; you agreed with the decision that we would go on. You were not here, Senator Connor. I did not hear a 12 o'clock time put on it.

(Interruptions.)

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  You cannot come to an agreement coming up the stairs, Senator Connor. It is in here you have to do the agreeing.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  It seems to me, a Chathaoirligh, that you had the agreement of this side of the House — the person holding for us on this side of the House agreed.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  May I——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Senator McMahon should resume his seat.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I am reluctant to resume my seat. I am reluctant to disobey your request, as that is what it is just now. It is something I have never done in this House. We are being grossly unfair to people I spoke to before coming in here at 10 o'clock when we assessed the length of time the debate would continue. I discussed with them, I told them that I would probably speak for 15 or 20 minutes. They watched the monitor and left this House at 10.45 on the understanding that the debate was concluding at 11. I reluctantly agreed to a 12 o'clock finish and the Minister backed me up on [1892] that here an hour ago or half an hour ago.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Senator McMahon, would you sit down for a minute?

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  A Chathaoirligh, you were in the House. You put a question and the question was carried by the House, We abide by the decision of the House. Reluctantly — I do not intend to do so — I would have to ask that people be named or else we get on with the business of the House.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Senator Bradford to continue.

Mr. Bradford: Information on Paul Bradford  Zoom on Paul Bradford  I will be delighted to continue with the second phase of my speech.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  In fairness, the last comment from the Government side “until it finishes”, that is totally contrary to what was agreed at the Order of Business today. I want to try to facilitate everybody. We did agree that and the Leader of the House gave the impression that there would be no rushing of this legislation. That is exactly what he said. I understand your dilemma.

An Chathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  When I left the House an hour ago nobody was rushing anything. I will sit here the same as you sat here until 4 o'clock in the morning if necessary. Nobody was rushing anybody. It was agreed to finish Second Stage, the Minister would conclude and we would go home. That is what was agreed by the Senators who were in the House. I am not interested in what rulings were given since. That was what was decided and it was agreed. Senator McMahon — whatever happened to him since I left the House — was in great form, he was in full flight as I left the Chair.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I still am in good form.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  When is this debate likely [1893] to conclude? Tonight, tomorrow, or next week? I have never seen the business of the House conducted in this manner before. At least give us some idea of when the debate is likely to finish.

Mr. W. Ryan: Information on William Ryan  Zoom on William Ryan  Senator Ferris said that he has never seen this done in this House before. I have, and he has a short memory.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  There is no agreement now.

Mr. W. Ryan: Information on William Ryan  Zoom on William Ryan  Once we finished at 4 o'clock in the morning and Senator Ferris was responsible for that, when he was deputy leader.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  There is no agreement now, but there was agreement then.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  There was agreement a while ago.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  I want to know——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Will you sit down and I will tell you?

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  When will the Second Stage finish? I was not going to call a vote on it, but I might now because of the attitude of the Government.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  I do not want those challenges thrown at me. The agreement of the House was that Second Stage would finish tonight. The speakers were to make their contributions and the Minister was to conclude. That was agreed and that is what is going to happen now, I understand.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  How do I interpret your meaning of “tonight,”? If it goes to 1 a.m. is that tomorrow morning? Does the debate still continue? Tomorrow is a holy day.

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  I would like Members of this House to cool down for a few minutes. Certain people want to make contributions to this very important Bill. [1894] There was an agreement of the House that we would conclude Second Stage tonight or during this sitting.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  That is not true.

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  I will not accept Senator Ferris saying it is not true. We will get the record of the House for the Senator within two or three minutes which will show there was an agreement of the House. I think Senator McMahon would have to agree. He did agree there are certain speakers who want to contribute. Senator Bradford is in possession. Senator O'Toole wants to get in and there may be other speakers here tonight. It is an extremely important Bill. On Committee Stage everybody will have an opportunity to ask questions that are relevant to any section of this Bill. There will be no rushing through of any section. It is basically a Committee Stage Bill. I can see that many people might want to make broad statements about the implications of the Bill.

Can we cool it down for a few minutes? Can I ask the House to accept the ruling which was made in the presence of people on the opposite side which was asked for by the Cathaoirleach and that Senator Bradford continue his contribution? Any other Senator in the House who wants to make a contribution can make it. The Bill will get an adequate airing on second Stage.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  It is not getting a hearing on Second Stage.

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  I do not think there is anybody in this House who will not have an opportuntiy to query every section of this Bill, or query any aspect of what the Minister wants or what the Opposition want to change.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  What is the rush with the Bill? Why will the Leader of the House not give us the necessary proposition?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Could we get agreement on this? The order of the House [1895] was made. Can we take whatever speakers want to contribute, the Minister can reply and then we can go home?

(Interruptions.)

Mr. B. Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  On a point of order, a Chathaoirligh. I do not want to be too pernickety. You said the Minister will finish and we can go home. Unfortunately, when the Minister finishes, neither myself, nor the Minister for Health will be going home for another half hour. May I inquire, on a point of order, is it now the order of this House that the times we agree in the morning are subject to amendment without reference to more than two or three Members because at 11 p.m. it happens to suit? I would like to know if in future I must sit in this House indefinitely because I can never be sure at what stage the House will finish, if the time at which it will finish is subject to the foibles or the choices of a number of Members who happen to be here at a particular time, or do we operate in the way I have always known this House to operate, which is on the basis of trust? I do not suggest for a second that there has been a breach of trust in this case. If we cannot actually accept what is said in the morning as being true for the entirety of the day, trust will collapse. It would have suited me better if we finished a long time ago.

If the time at which the House concludes is not a matter on which you can be certain at any stage, the House cannot conduct is business. I would like to know from the leader of the House if in future when he says in the morning we will finish at 11 p.m. that is the time we will finish, or will it suddenly become an indeterminate time when matters change. I would like you to rule on the Order of this House as to whether what we decide in the morning is something that is effectively temporary, part time and passive, and can be adjusted by the foibles of whoever happens to be here at 11 p.m. I find it unsatisfactory. I do not know what happened here. I was sitting waiting for the Minister to reply because I wanted to [1896] hear the Minister's reply to the debate and then I wanted to speak myself. I find now that I do not know when we will finish. That does not trouble me in particular because I am here and I will stay here, but I would like to know for the future if it is now the case that when the House is supposed to adjourn at 8 p.m. it might be 10 p.m., 12 midnight or 2 a.m. I would like to know what is going to happen for guidance for the future.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  I understand I have discretion, even at short notice, to accept a motion. I will try to answer Senator Ryan. The Senators who are now here were around the House. Perhaps they were not here but they were well aware of what was going on. You used the word “trust”. I think it is wrong to use that word. I hope we will all go on trusting each other in this House. I moved the motion here from the Chair. I got the agreement of the House. I do not know what has happened the House in the last hour. If some Senators are trying to say this did not happen before on legislation, it has happened.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  By agreement.

(Interruptions.)

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Was this not by agreement of the House a while ago?

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  That kind of snide remark is not in order. A Chathaoirligh, your point about agreement is disputed by the very person who was here.

Mr. B. Ryan: Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  On a point of order, after my limited six or seven years in this House, I understand agreement to mean agreement following on consultation between the various representatives of the various groups. I am not aware that there was any consultation between the various groups about this. I fully understand the procedure of this House. Agreement means consultation between the groups, on which we all agree, and we [1897] are very reasonable people. Agreement does not mean a proposal tossed around among the Members who happen to be in the House at a particular time and who decide what to do. I understood agreement to mean agreement between the groups after formal consultation.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  I do not think anything was tossed around. I resent that word. Nothing was tossed around in your absence.

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  I have been in this House for a number of years but not as long as certain other people who are present here. Can we continue with the debate and ask Senator Bradford to continue? Can I ask the Whips to get in touch with each other? We are getting nowhere. I am trying to bring this debate to a conclusion, to bring the Second Stage of this Bill to a conclusion and all we are doing is fighting and wasting everybody's time. If the House is not agreeable to that, we will continue. The Cathaoirleach put the question to the House. The House agreed to the question put. It is very unfair of Members of this House to challenge the ruling of the Chair on an issue which was quite unequivocal. There was no equivocation; it was straightforward. It is up to the Cathaoirleach to make a decision. I suggest at this stage that we cool down and get the debate moving forward, that Senator Bradford should continue his contribution and that the Whips should get together and discuss what we should do. May I ask the Cathaoirleach to consider that?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  That is reasonable.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  It should have been done long ago.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  If anybody wants to start arguing about this, we will continue and we will debate this until we finish Second Stage. I have made a reasonable suggestion.

[1898]Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  The Leader of the House has made a reasonable suggestion, I agree, but his lead up to it was most unreasonable. Following his suggestion he said: “We will continue”. This is grossly unreasonable. He has a dog in the manger attitude that we will continue irrespective of the wishes of Members of this House. It was under protest that I agreed to an extension of the sitting after 11 o'clock. I did agree to it, but my understanding was that we were agreeing to sit until 12 o'clock.

Mr. Hussey: Information on Thomas Hussey  Zoom on Thomas Hussey  You agreed to it.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I agreed to it but my understanding was we were agreeing to sit until 12 o'clock.

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  Can we agree to continue?

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I agreed that we would sit until 12 o'clock. I was not the only person in this Chamber with this impression. No less a person than the Minister — and the record will show that he stated this — was under the impression that we were to sit until 12 o'clock. The record of the House, which can be got now, will show that the Minister was under the same impression. I think the Leader of the House is being grossly unreasonable. I will again appeal to him because he has it in his hands to put an end to this whole saga or impasse.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Senator McMahon it is 12.40 a.m. Will you please sit down or get out?

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I ask the Leader of the House to put the proposition to the Cathaoirleach. We want it that way. We have put the proposition, but you cannot accept it from this side of the House. Who is being unreasonable? What is the hurry to finish this debate tonight?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Senator Bradford to continue.

[1899]Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  On a point of order——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Senator McMahon, sit down.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  May I appeal to the Leader of the House to put the proposition to you and that will end it until the next day?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  I will have to name you.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  There is no need to name me.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  I am not taking dictation any more. I was in the Chair when this was agreed.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I am not giving dictation. I am simply appealing to the Leader of the House. I cannot understand his dog in the manger attitude.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Senator McMahon, I will have to name you.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  In all my time here I have been reasonable. When it goes after 12 o'clock, obviously some people lose their reason. I appeal to Senator Lanigan to put the proposition to you and that will leave us all relieved.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  I was in the Chair when you and your colleague and Senator Hussey and Senator Willie Ryan agreed that the Bill would go on, the Minister would reply and we would conclude the Second Stage. The House would then adjourn.

(Interruptions.)

Sitting suspended at 12.45 a.m. and resumed at 1 a.m.

Mr. Bradford: Information on Paul Bradford  Zoom on Paul Bradford  I presume this is a case of part two, day two. Before we had that little difference, I was speaking about the make up of the new body. I hope that some of the suggestions mentioned by [1900] Senator Brendan Ryan will be taken on board by the Minister on Committee Stage, whenever that will be.

I should like to refer to one of the major considerations in this Bill, namely, the decision by the Government to abolish the county committees of agriculture and the General Council of the Committees of Agriculture. I regret this move very much because I see it as nothing more than a further assault on the powers and functions of the local authorities and local democracy. All of us who have been privileged to be members of county committees of agriculture know full well the benefits which accrued from them down the years and the dedicated approach taken by the members of those committees. There were major advances in agriculture developments as a result of the work of the county committees of agriculture. All the committees were of the opinion that the future wellbeing of agriculture was dependent on our involvement in planning, research and development at local level. Those of us who were on the county committee of agriculture felt that the members of such committees were best placed to know what decision were best for their own communities and environments.

Some comments have been made in relation to the travelling expenses scenario, as painted in the Minister's document. As Senator McMahon said earlier, we do not want a rehash of what has been said time and again; but, nevertheless, it is startling that 70 per cent of the budget of the county committees af agriculture went on travelling expenses. We are talking about 70 per cent of virtually nothing. For instance, last year the budget for the committee of agriculture in Cork was £50,000, whereas ten years ago it was £500,000. When one speaks of reducing balances like that it is very easy to see how this false picture can be presented.

Even at this late stage I join with the many people from all parties, and from many non-political sectors also, who have appealed to the Minister to reconsider his decision. The county committees of agriculture were not only a forum for [1901] agricultural debates for the elected members of the political parties but they were also an ideal forum whereby rural agricultural organisations, such as the IFA, the ICMSA, Macra na Feirme, the ICA and many more, could present their views on what was, and should have been happening in the field of agriculture. Once this forum is taken from them one is knocking away a layer of the very important fabric of agricultural development and taking away the voice of the rural people. It is the voices of these people which should be heard, not least when agricultural decisions are being taken.

We are told in section 17 of the Bill that the new body Teagasc — a name which I still have difficulty in pronouncing — may establish committees to assist and advise them in relation to their performance and functions. I would like that sentence to be worded slightly stronger. We should be saying that they “shall” establish and not that they “may”. I do not know who will have to make a decision on that but we should be absolutely clear that the new AFT-ACOT body will have a committee system so that the voices of the members of local authorities and of agricultural bodies will be heard. These voices should not be disregarded because they are the voices of the people who know what is really happening at local level. We have seen far too much centralisation. Over the past few years the decision-making process in relation to agriculture was moved from the county committees of agriculture and other related bodies to central Government and now it is moving further afield to Brussels. That is a very regrettable step, and I am sure all Members of the House would agree with me. I have heard numerous comments across party lines, that the decision to abolish the county committees of agriculture is a retrograde step and, while I do not intend to delve into it any longer, I again appeal to the Minister to carefully consider the moves he is making in this respect and at least to ensure that local voices will be heard when decisions are to be taken in relation to future developments in agriculture.

[1902] The Minister concluded his speech by stating that he hoped the new Bill would ensure that the best value for money would be got for the Exchequer from the resources at the disposal of the new Teagasc body. That idea should be applauded by all of us. But, because the new body will be working with such limited resources, I believe that in the future their room for expansion, for new ideas and new initiatives, will be almost stifled and that this will be very much a cost containing exercise. Any organisational group who do not have sufficient funding to operate as they should are certainly on the road to disaster.

The Minister hopes the Bill will deliver the specific services that are crucial to the success of the agricultural and food industry in the environment we face today. Of course, all of us would agree with him in that respect. But, as was mentioned by many speakers, part of this hope would entail the adequate funding of the research and development body. With a 43 per cent cut this year, and with certainly no hope of any future increase in the funding in the years ahead, this hope is almost forlorn before it begins. The agricultural industry certainly cannot function properly without sufficient funding for research and development. The cutbacks over the past year, and the envisaged cutbacks which we know are inevitable under the present regime, will be a false economic factor in agriculture in the years ahead.

The Minister hopes the Bill will bring together the education, training, advisory and research services under a unified management. It obviously will do that and hopefully provide the greater efficiency which the Minister is seeking. However, one cannot mention that aspiration without again getting back to the funding problem. I mentioned earlier the 5,000 young farmers who received education two years ago from ACOT and their related bodies. Unfortunately it now appears that because of the limited funding available this figure will inevitably decrease in the next few years. That will be felt by the whole agricultural sector in the years ahead and it will mean [1903] that the growth rates in agriculture will not be as high as they should be.

At this late hour I will leave my comments at that. I know that much of what I have said here tonight has been said already today, and has most certainly been said by the Members of the other House. I assure the Minister that, as a member of a local authority and of a county committee of agriculture, I am only restating what I am hearing and have heard time and again from councillors and other people who are working at local level. Those people are extremely worried about the effects of this merged body. They are more worried about their make-up and lack of funding than they are about the general principle.

None of us is opposed in any great fashion to the idea of a merger between ACOT and AFT because we all believe there is room for savings and greater efficiency. We are confident that this new body, if they are allowed to develop further, can produce the results which are necessary to ensure the future development of agriculture in this country. We all fear, however, that the lack of funds to Teagasc will hinder their development and growth and also hinder the development of the agricultural industry. We believe that as a consequence agriculture, while it may not become a lost cause, will certainly not be able to contribute to economic output, the creation of jobs and the stemming of the tide of emigration which it could if it got the funding that it so greatly deserves.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Senator O'Toole.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  Before we continue, we were not informed of the decision reached after the SOS. Will the debate continue until——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  I understand the order of the House is being maintained and that Second Stage will be concluded.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  We had a long argument on whether the order of the House was the proper order of the House.

[1904]An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  We are not going to go into that yet again, Senator Connor.

Mr. Connor: Information on John Connor  Zoom on John Connor  Since the Cathaoirleach insists on treating Members on this side of the House like dissident members of the Albanian Communist Party, I do not see why we should be sitting here listening to it.

Mr. W. Ryan: Information on William Ryan  Zoom on William Ryan  I take exception to that remark.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  There was an adjournment to allow the Government side to have consultation with the Minister. Could we at least be advised on what happened?

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  There were no consultations with the Minister. What the House does is the business of the House.

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  I understood from the Whip on the Government side that he was adjourning to have discussions. Can I be advised on the results of the discussion because I was not consulted?

Mr. W. Ryan: Information on William Ryan  Zoom on William Ryan  I did not suggest that we should adjourn. I do not know who suggested it.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Ferris: Information on Michael Ferris  Zoom on Michael Ferris  I do not know what decision was made during the adjournment.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Senator Ryan has answered Senator Ferris and he has accepted Senator Ryan's answer. Senator Joe O'Toole to continue.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  Unlike many other Members I am hardly a wet day in this House. I dislike the carry on that has been going on here for the last hour or so. I want to make a rational point before I begin my speech and if the Cathaoirleach does not accept it I will continue with my contribution.

It seems that there are only two more people to speak tonight. I have to speak and the Minister has to conclude. I may [1905] be wrong about that. It is now 1.15 a.m. We will resume sitting at 10.30 a.m., which is in eight or nine hours time. I will give an undertaking to this House to be absolutely brief, once we have established that two speakers only have to make a contribution. I have no wish to in any way foul up the workings of the House. What we have here is the Mexican standoff. It is well known that I have no commitment to either side of the House and many times I have called them the “Grand Coalition” or the “Coalesced Opposition”. Would it be acceptable for us to resume at 10.30 a.m. in the knowledge that there are two people only to speak?

I am making a serious attempt to resolve a problem in the best interests of the House and what we do together. We could adjust the Order of Business in the morning and I have given a guarantee that I will be absolutely brief in what I have to say in the morning. I can give a guarantee to the Minister that he will be out of here in a short time tomorrow morning. I would like the Acting Leader of the House to respond to my suggestion which is a way out of this impasse. People have put reputations and things on the line. I would prefer to adjourn the debate and resume it in the morning. I want to ask the Minister if that would be convenient for him. I recognise that the Minister may have commitments tomorrow morning and that he may not be able to deal with this Bill. May I ask the Minister to consider that suggestion?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  I think we should forget about what has happened. It upsets me deeply when one of my colleagues makes even the slightest insinuation that, in the Chair, I take sides in this House. I get deeply upset and it is not easy to upset me in political life. I would love to agree with Senator O'Toole but I think we should go on. I will leave it to the Minister and Senator O'Toole to decide what to do. I am upset by what has happened. It is not nice, and it is not the style of the Seanad. I left the Chamber in peace and harmony and a decision had been made. Senator Willie Ryan might want to reply [1906] to Senator O'Toole because he addressed him. I and the rest of the House should cool down. I am not easily hurt in political life because I have been too long in it but I feel hurt if a Senator insinuates here, outside or anywhere — and Senator Connor has done this — that I take sides in this House. I want to say to the Senator that because I am in this Chair I will lose votes rather than gain them in the next election. Senator Ryan to continue.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  I do not think he meant it.

Mr. W. Ryan: Information on William Ryan  Zoom on William Ryan  It has been the practice in this House, and I have been here a long time, that the leaders and the Whips have a chat now and again about business. Earlier on the Whips and the leaders of the Opposition agreed that this Bill would be completed by 11.30 p.m. I was told by the Leader of the Opposition party the number of speakers on his side but the number he gave me was far exceeded afterwards. I withdrew three of the speakers on our side to finish by 12 midnight but people who were not expected to speak came in and spoke, and they had the right to do that. This is not the first time this has happened. When we were in Opposition it happened too. I remember we had to stay here until 4 p.m. one morning because a certain person insisted that we should stay. With regard to what Senator O'Toole has suggested I do not know the Minister's commitments for tomorrow but I have arranged that the Intoxicating Bill will be taken tomorrow.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. W. Ryan: Information on William Ryan  Zoom on William Ryan  What guarantee have we that Senator O'Toole will be the only speaker? When we start in the morning we could have a whole litany of speakers. I have arranged with the Minister for Justice to take the Intoxicating Bill tomorrow. We have lost a lot of time arguing tonight.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  The Acting Leader of the House has asked a fair question —[1907] what guarantees can be given? Certainly the Independent group can give an absolute guarantee that, apart from myself, there will be no further speakers. I want to say further, a Chathaoirligh, that when I stood up here on the Order of Business — and as you will recall that we had an alteration, to say the least — gave certain commitments and reached certain agreements with the Acting Leader of the House on particular issues on the basis of that I would give further commitments to him. Other people decided not to meet the commitments that were given to me, but I still kept my side of it. I have been in this House for one year and I have acted honourably and given straight commitments on issues. My only interest at this point is not to have to stand up here and speak for an hour, two hours or whatever. I am not prepared to be party to either side of the House having a “go” at each other. I believe we can sort out this argument very simply and easily and I have given the formula which can deal with that. The House has established that there are only two further speakers, the Minister and myself. I will give a guarantee to the Minister that whatever time he needs in the morning he will get it and I will be prepared to defer to him at whatever point.

Mr. O'Kennedy: Information on Michael O'Kennedy  Zoom on Michael O'Kennedy  I am here only because as a Minister I am obliged under the Constitution to be here — and I am happy to be here — to respond to the debate. That I am prepared to do and it is a matter for the House to decide after that. I really cannot get involved, and I hope all Senators can understand that. I propose to reply when and if the House decided I should.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I know it would be irregular but would it be convenient for the Minister to respond first thing in the morning?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  No, it was decided that he would respond tonight.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  The Minister indicated [1908] he would be prepared to respond at the convenience of the House. I am trying to sort out this argument. Would it be convenient for the Minister to respond——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  I want to clear a point for Senator O'Toole and the Minister because it may arise again in the Seanad. The Minister has a constitutional right in this House but he does not dictate what we do in this House. He comes in — he has said it in another way but I am saying it more directly — when I call him to come in. We have been discussing this for over an hour here and we could have had three other speakers.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  There is no need to explain the Standing Orders of this House to me.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  Maybe I was explaining to the Minister.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I am being helpful in dealing with this. Can I ask if it would be convenient for the Minister to respond at 10.30 a.m. tomorrow?

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  No, we are concluding Second Stage. Would the Senator continue with his speech on the Bill?

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  It is with some regret that I respond and continue with the debate on the Bill.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  The Senator will still do well.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I find it absolutely laughable to the point of ridicule that this Bill——

Mr. Kiely:  I was here until 4 a.m. on a previous occasion and no obstruction tactics were adopted on that occasion as there were tonight, and I think Senator O'Toole is slightly responsible for that.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I am not sure what that related to but I would like to have it explained to me. At this stage I want to [1909] look for the protection of the Chair. I do not know what that assault was about.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  I will protect the Senator for the rest of the night. Will he carry on with his speech? I cannot do any more for the Senator.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  Thank you for trying, a Chathaoirligh. To allow this Bill to become an Act which would make further provisions in relation to agricultural advisory education and research services in something which I could accept because I believe that as a result of this Bill we will have to redefine what was previously regarded as the service sector of the public service. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind about that.

This Bill comes at a critical time in Irish agriculture. The major problem we have to deal with is low incomes. Our lack of wealth, the size of our borrowings and the level of our taxes, which have been diagnosed as problems, are but the symptoms of our low income problem. This is the problem we have before us now. We have plenty of natural resources and a surplus of cheap labour and, if our incomes were 20 per cent, 30 per cent or 40 per cent higher, the servicing of our debt would certainly be far less of a burden for us.

Since we joined the European Communities our national herd has been halved, and in a sense the farming community and the agricultural sectors have failed us in the area of the national herd. We have failed to make the progress we were entitled to in the areas of agricultural produce, development and research. The Pigs and Bacon Commission were got rid of a long time ago, I cannot remember the exact year. When I was going to school Ireland was regarded as an agricultural country, one-third agriculture, one-third industry and one-third service. I have listened year after year to the need to cosset, improve and develop our agricultural industry. In particular, I have listened to the comparisons between this economy and the Danish economy. I would like to put one statistic before the House in relation to [1910] the processing of pigs, bacon and pork in Denmark as opposed to the position in Ireland. In Ireland one million pigs per year processed while in Denmark 15 million pigs per year are processed. Somebody must be held responsible for that deterioration and very poor comparative figure between both countries.

The only way by which any industry can develop, whether it is agriculture or anything else, is by a system of encouragement through research, development and advice. We are now in the position where our agricultural sector is disimproving and getting smaller by the year. We have therefore a very definite responsibility to encourage that industry. Those areas, services parts of agriculture which need development must be developed through the application of new technology, the results of research and the development of the results achieved at various enterprises such as those in Kinsealy, Fermoy and many other places. It seems that this is precisely what we are not doing and a prime example of this is the amount of wheat that is grown in this country. Nobody has ever explained to me why we commit hundreds and thousands of acres to the growth of wheat when our climate is totally unsuitable to that crop. We continue to do that and we continue to subsidise it. As Members of the Oireachtas we are circulated on a regular basis with various food research magazines which deal with the results of trying different crops such as beans, peas, pulses and rape. I would like to see rape developed in a major way. The failure to do this is a reflection of the conservatism of Irish agriculture.

Surely somebody should be able to walk up to a farmer and explain to him or her the profitability of investing in different crops the results of growing and planting different crops compared to the conservative old fashioned ones and encourage them to grow them. Only ten years ago we had the obscenity of banks going around to farmers and talking them into building milking parlours and developing their farming industry and so on. Ten years later the farmers found themselves in the position of not being [1911] able to pay back the money they borrowed. It should be just as easy nowadays, if we had the proper facility, the proper service and advice areas, to try to get them to invest in other new, more productive and more profitable crops — and not just for the farmer but in terms of the spin-off in the agricultural-based industries.

I am bothered when we are told that the amalgamation of An Foras Talúntais and ACOT will in some sense lead to improvement and development. The kindest word one could say about it is that it is totally unnecessary. There is no area of development which does not need constant assessment of what it is doing, constant monitoring of the progress it is making, constant in-service education in terms of what it might be doing somewhat better than the farming community. The reason for that is that developments in various other parts of the world are slow to find implementation here. I recall just 18 months back that Kinsealy did an in-depth study of the application of hydrophonics to Irish agriculture. It struck me on a visit there at that time: how does one get the farmer in Dingle or the farmer in the Minister's own constituency of North Tipperary to introduce hydrophonics as opposed to the cultivation of rice? It is so difficult to get the movement from one to the other.

In the last number of years we have seen a most regrettable decline here in the produce of hothouses. This has got to do with a number of things. The main catalyst for the deterioration was the soaring price of oil in the mid-seventies. It happened in the strong market gardening areas. North Dublin would be a good example. People invested huge amounts of money in glasshouses and in cultivation based on the growth in those glasshouses. The repayments on the glasshouses, the cost of the oil and the interest which accrued was far more than what the farmers were getting back for the cucumbers or whatever produce they had under glass, so they went out of business.

That was five or six years ago. In the [1912] meantime the price of oil has dropped. Oil has now become a cost effective source of energy and source of heat. Unfortunately, nobody has told the poor farmers. Nobody has told them they can now reinvest. We now have the debacle of farmers growing in coldhouses what they could produce more effectively and more economically in hothouses and finding themselves losing out through imports from other countries. That is going on all the time. The only way we can change people from that position is to educate them, to give them the confidence and competence to change and to do better and to invest in what they are doing.

Last weekend I thought it would be a treat to have some new potatoes. The only new potatoes I could get in my local shop were imported produce. This, you might say, relates purely to the fact that we are in the northern hemisphere, further north than some of our colleagues who are able to import the produce cheaper. That might well be acceptable except that in a month's time it will be possible to get Dutch tomatoes cheaper on the Irish market than Irish tomatoes. That has got to do with cost effectiveness and efficiency in production. That is not good enough. Anything that encourages a deterioration in that area is something that we should guard against — and what we see here tonight is precisely that.

There is a great need for advice for farmers. There is a great need for advice in the production, development and expansion of the agricultural industry. We have really failed in this area. Why is it that one can walk into the supermarkets of Europe, Germany, Spain, France, the Twelve that we are part of and will be part of in a greater way when the internal market is complete in 1992 and see Irish produce there? Why is it that we cannot take our place in it? Why is it that we cannot produce cost effectively in that market? The infamous article in The Economist described this country and the opening sentence was: “Take a small, open post-peasant economy etc....”. That is what we are and that is what we are fighting against.

[1913] We will be in a position in 1992 where there will be such changes made in the internal free market of the European countries that we will have difficulty in surviving. It is important here to look at and compare agriculture with industry. We have changed a lot in the last year because we have become an exporting country. Exports in the last year have risen by almost 14 per cent. Therefore, in terms of exporting commodities, we can take on the world. We are selling now and therefore we can send out people to market our products. We know that our commodities are good and that our marketing techniques are good if properly applied. We know that, if our quality control is comparable with the best, we can sell our products. That is what is happening in industry, but it is not happening in agriculture.

Let me give the Minister an example to encourage his response. We are working at the moment on the basis of the dairy quota, which is looked upon by some as an advance and by others as regression. It is irrelevant for the purpose of this argument. As somebody who would be sitting in the cross-benches — were there cross-benches — I think successive Ministers for Agriculture have done their absolute best for this country whatever side of the House they happened to come from. I am not a party to arguements which put one Minister against another.

Could the Minister explain to me why a man could come back from Germany two months ago and say: “Listen, lads. I have found five new outlets for dairy products, for milk products, for milk in Germany and these are people who will buy your milk ex-quota. In other words, when you have exceeded your quota locally we have now found an export market for it in Germany”. I investigated that further. I wanted to find out just how this happened. What I found out was very simple. I am sure the Minister is well aware of it, but it was news to me. There is, in fact, no marketing structure in Ireland really. There is a centralised marketing structure for our dairy products of [1914] which we are all well aware. I am not talking about that.

We have now reached the stage where there are certain companies — Kerry being the leader — who have their own market structure. They are out there in Europe selling their products and they are finding markets but there are dairy co-ops all over the country with excess produce. They are not selling it. Why are they not selling it? There is a market for it in Europe and nobody can identify the market. Where does this tie into this Bill?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Where, indeed?

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I anticipated your interruption. This is a Bill which will make further provision in the area of advisory, educational and research services. At the moment, we are advising our people that there is no further in dairy produce: do not develop your dairy industry; our dairy industry has reached its peak; the European market is saturated; we cannot go any further in selling dairy products. Now we find that individuals can go to Europe and find new markets. Recently research took place in Fermoy into the development of the off-spin of dairy products, the development of the new product called Quark.

Quark, of course, has major potential in the Irish market. Kids love it; adults love it; and it is healthy in the sense that it is additive free and colour free. It has the capacity to be a major growth industry. It is made either from curds or whey. I always forget which, I was bad at nursery rhymes when at school. It is the solid one anyway. It can be sold as a chocolate bar or in many other ways. It has enormous potential for growth. It has only got potential for growth of course, as long as the raw material is available. The raw material is milk. We are now telling our farmers not to develop their dairy industry, that it has reached its peak, it is at its zenith, it has achieved its potential. It has not. That is just one example. I could give many more.

We could look at the general area of forestry. I am sure it has been touched [1915] on earlier tonight. At 10.55 p.m. when I looked comfortably at the monitor and thought we had the last speaker for the night and that it would not be necessary for me to speak until the next time, I wondered if Senators had dealt with the area of forestry. We have the best climate in Europe for the cultivation of biomass — wood to the rest of us lay people. Let me put that in some kind of context. I said we have the worst climate in Europe for the cultivation of grain, wheat in particular, and we should keep away from that. We do not have enough days of sunshine. I recall the advertisements Kelloggs had on television years ago — so many days of sunshine went into the production of the cornflakes which were developed from wheat. I wondered how we could be growing the same crop when we get only one-third of the number of days sunshine per year. We encourage that. Farmers still believe that because wheat seems to sell for a greater value than any other crop they should grow it.

What is the story about trees and wood? We can grow timber faster, we can grow it more economically than any other country in Europe. I do not need to tell you, a Leas-Chathaoirligh, of the spin-offs and the by-products and the industry that can be based on the production of wood. We are not doing it. There is a little bit of it being done, however, and what we are doing about that is selling it off to banks and people and not getting value. We know what banks and the large financial institutions do — those people who talk to us about a climate for industry, a climate for investment and the need to make sacrifices, the need to take pay decreases and the need to be patriotic and we see what they do when they have a 20 per cent or a 10 per cent stake in Irish Life. They sell it off when the Government are trying to organise a Buy Irish campaign. These are the same people we are now allowing to cream whatever small development we are doing in the area of forestry. Thank you for your acceptance of that particular point. I expected an interruption on it.

[1916] I will say, however, a Chathaoirligh, in terms of the forestry development, I suppose the most expensive commodity in any industry is resource and energy and there are many ways in which we can do it. There are natural ways and unnatural ways. I will not talk about hydro-electrical schemes and I will not talk about the nuclear scheme, but I will certainly point out that the whole area of energy and peat development from the cultivation and the burning and use of biomass — in other words, growing trees, burning them and replanting ect. — is an area in which we have failed to make progress, though we are in the best position in Europe to do that.

There has been a development or experiment in that area down around the Lyreacompane area and it is found to be exceptionally cost-effective. We are not sending anybody around making an assessment of land and saying to farmers they are not going to grow anything worthwhile in that area so we will ask them to drain it or do somethiang else. We should be advising them to grow trees there — grow trees and push the very worthwhile scheme the Government presented some years back in terms of payment over a period of years which they have done with banks and many other groups. This is a scheme which should be developed. This is not being done because people do not have the confidence and the competence to do it.

I see my colleague and indeed my cousin over there — Senator O'Toole — from his county of Mayo. Another politician of a different colour from himself has very recently——

Mr. M. O'Toole: Information on Martin J. O'Toole  Zoom on Martin J. O'Toole  I thought you were on my side.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  We are on the same side when it comes to blood but——

An Leas Chathaoirleach:  I thought the Senator was of a neutral colour.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I am neutral but fortunately we are of the same root. I can assure you that the house which he left in [1917] Lettermore is now a house of a different colour since he left it. I am just saying this to get the local interest and knowledge absolutely right.

I apologise for becoming slightly diverted there. I was referring to County Mayo and the development of the turf industry in that area. People said, and the State claimed also, that it would not be cost-effective or productive to continue with the peat production that was planned around that area of north-west Mayo. Geesala would be the nearest town to the area. The former Deputy Staunton is dealing with it there. That is an example of where somebody can go out and privately develop when we should, in fact, have had our agricultural advisers out there advising farmers to develop. I use that as an example of the mistakes we can make by not developing this area.

There is no case whatever for not developing agricultural research and agricultural advice and education. When I was very young I was a member of Macra na Feirme or Muintir na Tíre, whichever was the one for the young people. At that stage I learned various basic things about agricultural research, but in a very short time I learned things that plants need, things like oxygen and light and heat, in order to grow. That is the basic thing. You remember these things and they stay with you. But I think also somebody needs to come and say: “You should not be growing wheat there, you should be growing beans” or whatever needs to be developed in that area. We have failed in that area.

What will be the impact on the Exchequer of the proposals in this Bill? The proposals will lead to layoffs. The proposals will lead to redundancies. This is going to cost the State enormously. Indeed, to my mind it has put the State and the Government in a very questionable position. They are closing down these two areas. They are amalgamating them into one. What will the result be? The result will be quite simple. I can give you some examples of it at the moment. The Government are going to pay them a lump sum and to get out and they are [1918] going to give them a pension after that. There is a major difference between the lump sum and the pension. The lump sum they are going to pay these people does not exist actually. It is not money in the sense that it is not shown in the Estimates. It is not too be seen in the end of year records of the Government. The Government have done a deal with the Central Bank. It is a very vague area of law. It is governed by the 1926 Currency Act. The 1926 Currency Act allows the Central Bank, should it agree to do so, to make an advance to the Minister for Finance of the day. Any reading of the Act makes it clear that that was an advance on the amount of money which the State was entitled to in that year. However, both the Minister and the Central Bank have chosen to interpret it otherwise and it has not been challenged. The Central Bank is a privatised bank which is now subsidising the operation of this proposed Act. In what way, you might ask? It is facilitating the closing down of these two services to be replaced by something else with a loss of jobs. The Central Bank is a commercial operation.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  It is not mentioned in the Bill.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  In respect of the people being made redundant, which is a clear result of this Bill, the Central Bank this year paid into State funds over £119 million. The Government have now got from the Central Bank an advance close on £100 million. The agreement is that they will pay that back over the next five years — four payments of £20 million approximately to £25 million per year. This money does not appear anywhere, but it is being used to facilitate and support this Bill. I would maintain that this Bill is dependent on that money being available. In other words, if this money were not available to the State they could not implement what they propose to implement under this Bill.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  A passing reference to the financial side of it is certainly acceptable in a general debate [1919] like this but the Chair would prefer if the Senator did not dwell too long on that point.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  Why is that?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  It is not mentioned at all in the Bill. That is referred to in the Second Schedule.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I am sorry. I am sure you mean well; but I would refer you to section 30 of the Bill under the heading of “Expenses” and I quote:

The expenses incurred by the Minister in the administration of this Act shall, to such extent as may be sanctioned by the Minister for Finance, be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas and the expenses incurred by the Minister for Finance in the administration of this Act shall be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Chair can tell the Senator that is a standing provision common to every Act. The only point I was making is that the discussion on the Central Bank is hardly relevant at this stage.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  The fact that it is a standing section in a particular Act, of which matter I am well aware, does not preclude discussion.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  It is a matter more relevant to the Finance Act.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I hope that you would not be in any way attempting to censor me or that you would not in any sense intend to stop me from pointing out to the House the implications of section 30 of this Bill.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  I quite agree, but I am charged with the responsibility of maintaining relevancy in the debate. This is a general provision common to all legislation going through. The Chair [1920] believes that it might be more relevant to pursue that on a Finance Bill in greater detail.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  Far be it from me to explain to you what you may or may not believe, but certainly in terms of a reference to a Standing Order of the House or a rule of debate this is relevant in terms of two sections, sections 29 and 30 — section 29, which deals with the Finance Act of 1895 and which I am quite entitled to discuss to some extent, and section 30, which deals with the expenses incurred by the Minister. The Minister will incur expenses. They are very simple. There will be up to 1,000 people put out of work by the application of this. Who is going to pay for that? Are you saying to me that the cost of that should not be discussed on the Second Stage of this Bill? Are you saying to me that it s irrelevant to the application of it if I say to you that this is going to cost the State millions of pounds, not only in paid out income but also in loss of productivity?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  My observations were entirely on the question of the Central Bank. I do not think that a close examination of the role the Central Bank plays in the national finances arises on this Bill.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  Could I have a ruling on that? You are ruling that the operations of the Central Bank do not impinge on this Bill? Is that right?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Do not arise in detail on this Bill, which is quite different. Do not arise in detail. I did say that it would be more appropriate to a Finance Bill, where the Minister would have an opportunity of doing something about it. Even with the best of intentions, it is not possible to affect any improvement under this Bill.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I am afraid I have to put a few points to you. The fact that you believe something, and believe it honestly, I certainly have to accept. But I am [1921] sure you would also accept that you may well be wrong in what you believe. If I were to say that without the co-operation and support——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Is the Senator disputing the Chair's ruling.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  Not at this time, a Leas-Chathaoirligh, but it may well arise shortly.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Perhaps the Senator would like to carry on, on the Bill.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I am saying to you, a Leas-Chathaoirligh, that this Bill could not be implemented without the collusion of the Central Bank because there is an agreement under the Programme for National Recovery, to which the Government are a party, that there will be no compulsory redundancies in the public service. This proposed legislation before us will create redundancies. The Government are party to an agreement which says that there will be no compulsory redundancies. The only way in which both things can meet is by having voluntary redundancies. The only way we can have voluntary redundancies is by paying for them. The Government have told us time and time again that they do not have the money to pay for them. They are getting the money from the Central Bank. What could be more relevant than that?

I now wish to tease out where they are getting that money. They are getting that money, over the next five years, from the Central Bank. They are repaying it over four repayments of £20 million to £25 million per year. I am saying to you that they are doing that under the provisions of the Currency Act, 1926. To my mind, that is poor use of money. It also means that that £20 million per year will not be available to Revenue. It would mean, in this year for instance, that, instead of getting £119 million from the Central Bank, the Government would only get £99 million. So the taxpayer has to pay for [1922] that £20 million by the implementation of legislation such as this Bill.

A Leas-Chathaoirligh, I am sure you would agree with me that, as a legislator and as a Member of the Oireachtas, I have a clear duty to point out the implications of the Bill. It now seems it is costing us more than we are gaining. This Bill represents a net loss to the Government. This Bill represents a net loss to the State. This Bill represents an attempt, by the Government, to put many hardworking, productive public servants out of work who we really need in order to develop our agricultural sector and our agricultural industry. I believe it is a disgraceful way to do business.

What worries me also, in terms of the operation of the Bill — which you will have read, a Leas-Chathaoirligh — is the appointment of the Authority which the Minister has held very cleverly and very closely in his hands. You will see that he just barely appoints a majority of the committee. That worries me. One does not direct science. One does not direct the people who should be the leaders in society or the leaders in industry. You appoint the right people and you let them get on and do the job. There should be no difficulty for the Government in allowing that to happen. This is not happening. What we are doing here is both a waste of resources and an attempt to control, for the wrong reasons, the development of the agricultural sector. Our industry is deterioring and the quantity of the personnel we need in the industry is being reduced. I defy anybody to justify those two movements at a time when the industry itself is far from developing, but is contracting. That is where we are going in this Bill.

The cuts which now have this effect on ACOT and on An Foras Talúntais are not justifiable. Whoever decided that this direction was the most profitable road to go down gravely under-estimated the contribution agriculture can make to the development of Irish industry, the contribution that agriculture can make to the growth in the economy. This is home growth. The multinationals are not interested in agriculture. They are [1923] interested in coming in here, setting up a factory, bringing in the cheapest of imports, putting them together in a factory which is set up with taxpayers' money and support and subsidy, paying their workers a minimal wage, having the very least value-added to the products and exporting them and, because they are exporting them, getting the full benefit of the tax on exports. Then they repatriate their profits.

Despite the figures and the statistics which came out this morning in terms of the major contribution being made by foreign-owned companies, those people have no commitment to this country. Agriculture is a home-based industry. We can develop that industry. It is an industry which starts and can finish in this country. We have failed to do that because we lack people with vision to see down the road, to see the direction, and give us the growth we need. We had the greatest growth of any country in the Community last year. In real terms it should have been 4 per cent. In the terms we can judge from statistics, it comes out as a mere 1 per cent — the 3 per cent being the hole we all hate to speak of but which will continue to be there until we implement tax laws which can control it. However, that is not relevant to this Bill but it raised the problem of where will the agricultural sector and the development of agriculture be in 1992, with the completion of the internal market.

People think that 1992 is the start of something. Farmers all over the country believe it. I hear people speak about it all the time: “Where will be after 1992; cars will be cheaper; food will be cheaper”. In terms of agriculture we have failed to let people know that 1992 is not the start of anything. It is the finish of something. The start was on 29 April last year, when this House passed the Single European Act. That was the beginning. The year of 1992 is the end. This is the transition period. Agricultural produce and the development of the agricultural industry, envisaged in this Bill, will be open to the big bad world by 1992. We can no longer operate a protectionist [1924] operation from that point on. It is time to look at the kind of exports and the kind of development that is part of the agricultural industry.

I have given the figure for the development of exports last year — 14 per cent. It would be unfair to read statistics at this hour of the night because I do not think it would impress anybody just now. The crucial question is: in terms of all the industrial exports, what is the relative contribution of agricultural exports compared to industrial exports? We have £2.5 billion worth of agricultural exports compared with something over £7 billion of industrial exports. How does one assess the relative value to the economy? In assessing the real value of exports to the economy, account must be taken of the import content and also account must be taken of the profits repatriation associated with the exports. These are the two things which I have referred to.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  We are talking about agricultural education and research in the Bill. Would you relate your remarks to that? It is relatively narrow and, at the same time, it is fairly wide and comprehensive without having to stray even wider than that. I would appreciate the co-operation of the speaker on that point.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  If we were to talk about co-operation I could go on for a long period of time. I offered co-operation to this House on the ordering of yesterday's business. Tomorrow today will be yesterday. I offered co-operation at all levels from last week to this morning and to an hour ago. It ill-becomes anybody to talk to me about co-operation at this hour. The ruling you have just made is indicative of and reflects very closely the kind of a closed mind which we have had over the years.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  You cannot question the ruling of the Chair.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I am not questioning the ruling of the Chair. I accept your ruling and your interpretation of my [1925] words but they reflect the sort of closed mind which has been there in terms of developing the agricultural industry over the years. People see agriculture and the agricultural industry as something that stops at the field gate whereas, of course, that is only where it begins. I want to put that not just in the national context but in the international context.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  Unfortunately, the Bill is in the context of education and research in the Republic.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  Yes, but it would be nice in the Republic if we could all live our lives in such strait-jackets and such pigeon holes, but it is not that easy to do it. The Bill has implications. I am not about to be pushed down the road of being told what is relevant and what is irrelevant. If it is irrelevant just say so, a Chathaoirligh.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  The Chair has a right to rule on all matters of relevance here. That is what the Chair is here for.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I am aware that the Chair is there to order the debate. I want to make it quite clear to you, a Chathaoirligh, that it goes far beyond the ordering of what is just there at the moment. Certainly it has implications far beyond that. There is no doubt about it. That is what we are talking about here. If this Bill is passed the services which are available to farmers, the services which are available to agriculture and the agricultural industry will be seriously undermined. If they are undermined, if we are not producing in agriculture, the industry which is dependent on it will suffer. Is the Cathaoirleach saying to me that industry which is dependent on agriculture is irrelevant to the Bill? I am not challenging the ruling. I am asking a rhetorical question. I am not inviting interruption and I certainly would not wish you to respond to me in any way. It is a purely rhetorical question.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach:  In fairness it [1926] is 2.15 a.m. and I do not wish to curtail the debate in the least, but at this hour of the morning the Chair would be conscious of repetition and irrelevancy. You will have to pardon the Chair if he is sharper than usual.

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  I notice that the Leas-Chathaoirleach is quite pleased that it is 2.15 a.m. I do not intend to repeat myself and I have not repeated myself. Should I repeat myself, I will immediately stop. In the whole area of services to farming, in terms of support for farming, in terms of advising farmers on what they should do and what they might not do, there has been a serious curtailment. There has been a privatisation of it in many ways. This is a concern for us. If we affect farming, if we affect the advice to farmers, we are affecting the lives of many people outside it. This Bill has implications for a huge proportion of the population of this country.

I talked about the fact that agriculture might involve one-third of the workforce, services might be another one-third of the workforce, and manufacturing industry might be another one-third. That has changed and changed radically. Let us say that it has gone down to 25 per cent for agriculture. It is fair enough to say that 25 per cent of the population are in some way tangibly affected by the decisions we make here tonight in terms of the cutbacks to the agricultural service industry. Many of the modern industries with spectacular export performance contribute far less than agriculture. Unfortunately, many people judge agriculture by the number of people employed directly in agriculture.

I can recall that in my youth farming was a labour-intensive industry. I am not sure if you know what happens nowadays a Leas-Chathaoirligh. I live in a farming area and that is why I know a little bit about it. I have seen the changes that have taken place over the years. There was a time when it would take a farmer one day to plough an acre. So a 30 acre field took 30 persons days to plough. Nowadays you put in a tractor and the best plough available, and you do it in a [1927] day, or a day and a half. That is the ploughing part of it. We have taken the labour out of agriculture. We did advise our farmers to cut their production costs by doing this. Farmers no longer actually do that ploughing, but they get in agricultural contractors to do it. It becomes no labour. It is now possible to run a farm by remote control just by simply lifting the phone to the agricultural contactor.

Who is advising people to do this but those people who would look for the most cost-effective method of doing it? The field is ready for sowing and we then come to reaping the fruits of the labour. Similarly, whether it be a silage harvester or a combine harvester, the farmer again lifts the phone to the agricultural contractor and he can sit at home and have the job done in a couple of hours and then sell his produce. Therefore, farming has ceased to be a labour-intensive industry. Farming has now become an industry which can be worked with very few people involved in it. That is why the one-third ratio has changed. In the meantime, it has to be said that the output from farming has changed and improved over the years. Whether or not we have identified the productivity and the growth areas — and I mean that in the economic sense — of agriculture is not clear to me.

It is critically important that Ireland should develop her natural resources because an increase in the use of our natural resources means an increase in wealth creation, an increase in the quality of life of people dependent on agriculture which, basically, can spin off to a huge proportion of the population. We would expect groups like ACOT to give proper advice to farmers and we ask for that service to be developed. Proper advice to farmers from ACOT or other groups will lead to more productivity, greater development of our natural resources, greater use of our natural resources and to employment and an improvement in the quality of life of our population in general. That is why I feel that what we are doing here is regressive. We should be very careful and I counsel caution in that area.

[1928] I spoke earlier about the timber industry and the productivity which could be achieved there but, in terms of our grasslands, we have great competitors. We can be as competitive as any country in Europe in the utilisation of the produce from our grasslands. Indeed, it is just one of our natural resources which can be developed through agriculture. We can exploit and develop this strength and this potential to produce the surpluses and, from there, to have dependent industry and, from there, to produce commodities and export products which again lead to an improvement. This can only be done with proper advice to farmers and with people monitoring what is happening.

I know the Department of Agriculture and Food are very good at trying to keep excellent returns at the end of the year on the acreage being attributed to various aspects of agriculture. When somebody does an assessment of what is the most productive part of that acreage, does someone go along and say: “We must tell our advisers to go out there and get the farmers to change their ways, to invest in the new ways, to develop those areas, those lands, those acres which can be most productive in terms of the wealth of the country, in terms of the development of the country's resources? Even if that were being done, if the Minister were to decide tomorrow morning that is the way to work it, he needs the personnel to do it and the personnel are being lost through the implementation of this Bill. That is regrettable and that is really what we cannot tolerate and cannot support.

As well as that, because the agriculture and food industries have such a low import content and are groups who do not repatriate profits, they represent a huge gain for our foreign trade. In other words, all the value is added in this country. It is from seed to export. We do the lot. We grow the grass. We breed the cows. We sell the milk. We process the milk and we export the milk product. The profit comes back down the line through all those people operating through the coop, through the farmer, to the farm labourer and through all the people in the dependent industries.

[1929] That is the kind of industry we need to develop. We do need multinationals coming in here, on our terms, but it is far more profitable, it is far more cost-effective for us, to develop this industry from the grassroots in the greatest sense of that. It is safely said that, in the agricultural and food industry, a high proportion of the raw material comes form the land, comes from agriculture. Three times more of that produce comes from natural, national resources than would come from the multinational companies.

Over the past 18 years we have seen a huge development in the output from agriculture and agricultural-based industries. That output has grown by 50 per cent in that time. That is an accepted figure. There has been a 50 per cent improvement and, in the meantime, the output per worker involved in the agricultural industry has increased by 160 per cent. I just want to put those two figures in contrast and compare them. The output in agriculture has improved, or gained, or developed by 50 per cent since 1970. The output per worker working in the agricultural sector has increased by 160 per cent. In other words, over that period of time workers have become more and more cost-effective. Some of these workers are people like those involved in ACOT, in the farm services and in the advice services, but these are the people on whom we would be dependent. These are the people who have delivered, who have made these statistics possible: a 50 per cent growth in agricultual output, a 160 per cent growth in the output per worker since 1970.

In the meantime, regrettably, the increase in salaries or wages for the agricultural worker has not improved by anything like the improvement in their output. That is probably something which we have become used to. The whole impact of cuts in agriculture is something which makes us all suffer. The impact of the dairy cuts, for instance, and those cuts imposed by the imposition of the quota — and I referred earlier to the fact that imposition of the quota should not have meant a similar restraint in the [1930] development of the dairy aspect of farming because there are other markets out there and over and above the quota — is that implementing the milk quota in Ireland will involve a reduction by approximately a quarter of a million in the dairy cow herd in this country. That is regrettable and that is where we are heading.

I said at the beginning of my contribution that the national herd had been halved since we joined the Common Market. We are now talking about a further reduction through the imposition of the dairy quota. For those reasons, if those cuts are impacting on agriculture, if those cuts mean such a reduction in the dairy herd, in the numbers of cows, surely more than ever before we need research development and advice in the agricultural sector. What this Bill is doing is cutting back on that area. This Bill does not do what it sets out to do. If it did, I certainly would not be standing up here to oppose any attempt to make further provision in relation to the agricultural advisory educational and research services provided by or on behalf of the State. I would not be objecting to that. I would be supporting that point of view, but nothing in this Bill does what the Bill sets out to do.

The title of the Bill is a misnomer. It fails to produce; it fails to do what it sets out to do. At a time when technology is developing and growing all over the world, more than ever before we need people to see, test, monitor this technology and then advise and ensure the implementation of the results of that technology. Most of the benefit from increased technology comes to the economy at large. It does not actually come to the producer. This is a truism really. People know the technology is there, the research is there in many cases, but we are not implementing it. Why is it, if the Food and Technology Magazine can put in stark capitals that the use of a particular type of acreage is more productive with product A than with product B, the majority of farmers are still using product A? Why is that happening? It is because no one is advising them to do otherwise.

[1931] I think also that the proposed cuts in research and agricultural education could cost the economy dearly. I cannot work out the costings of that, but I would certainly request the Minister to tell me what is the cost to the State, not in terms of what we are paying for the lump sums — we have been through that already — but in terms of loss of production? It seems to me that, if the advisers were doing anything, they were directing farming to go in a particular direction that would be more profitable and more cost effective. If they cease to do that, there is a cost to the rest of us — not so much if they cease to do it but if there are not enough of them there to go around to do it, it means then it is not implemented and so, therefore, the agricultural sector becomes less cost-effective, the spin-off industry is reduced and we are doing the State a disservice by implementing, supporting and voting in favour of this legislation.

It has been said that by reducing the number of advisers, which is what this Bill sets out to do, we will also be in a more serious way reducing the number of farmers who will be in contact with the advisory services and will be reducing in many ways not just the quality of advice that is available — I have also dealt with the effect on produce — but the number of farmers who would interface with an advisory service. It is very hard to give figures on that, but I have heard one figure given by a fairly acceptable authority: that it will be reduced by 75 per cent. In other words, at the moment agricultural advisers are in contact with approximately 80,000 farmers per year and that, with the implementation of this legislation, that figure will be reduced to 20,000. That is an astonishing figure. How can anybody justify that? This service is set up as being a necessary one, even this Bill talks about how necessary it is to advise and direct farmers; but the Minister is now asking us to implement something which is going to reduce the effectiveness of the agricultural advisory service.

I have said that the numbers of farmers who are being advised or who interface [1932] or meet some advisers in the agricultural sector — and they come under many headings at the moment — is reduced from 80,000 annually to 20,000 by the implementation of this legislation. What does that mean in terms of acreage? In terms of acreage it means that those 80,000 farmers were controlling roughly eight million acres in this country — in other words, eight million productive acres were influenced in some way by the advisory service provided by the State. With the reduction of that figure now to 20,000 the acreage which will be affected is, in fact, reduced to three million. We are now talking about a reduction from eight million acres to three million acres. Asking us to support legislation which is clearly so regressive is tantamount to asking us to abrogate our responsibilities to the people who elected us and to the people who, soundly in their sleep tonight, feel that affairs are being well looked after.

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  At this stage I must interject and suggest that this debate has been extended out of all proportion. We did decide that we would finish this Stage of the Bill this evening. The Senator in possession will have adequate time to address himself to the various questions he has raised on each section of the Bill on Committee Stage. I would propose that the question be now put: “That Second Stage of this Bill be now passed.”

Mr. J. O'Toole: Information on Joe John O'Toole  Zoom on Joe John O'Toole  In opposing that guillotine motion from the Leader of the House, I can say that I am not surprised. Indeed, I am far from being surprised with the attempt that has been made to railroad legislation through here today and yesterday. It reminds me of the efforts which led in the middle of December to the implementation of the rod licence legislation.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  I accept the motion that the question be now put and I am putting the question: “That the question be now put.”

[1933] Question put and declared carried.

Senators:  Votáil.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  As the required number of tellers on the Níl side of the House has not been appointed, I declare the question carried.

Question: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time” put and agreed to.

Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 8 June 1988.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Tras Honan  Zoom on Tras Honan  When is it proposed to sit again, before I take the matter on the Adjournment of the House?

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  This morning at 10.30.


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