Seanad Éireann - Volume 24 - 07 December, 1939
Pigs and Bacon (Amendment) Bill, 1939—Second Stage.
Question proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”
Minister for Agriculture (Dr. Ryan) James Ryan
Minister for Agriculture (Dr. Ryan): It may be no harm to bring Senators' minds back to how this legislation with regard to pigs and bacon was first brought in. I am sure every Senator read the report of the Pig Industry Tribunal that was issued about 1933. It was a very fine document, and gave a very good review of the whole pig and bacon situation. It made certain recommendations which were afterwards more or less implemented by legislation. That legislation was brought in in 1935 and set up two boards. The big idea in the recommendation was to have a fixed price for pigs, because we had the situation for some years before that where prices fluctuated very rapidly and, in fact, fluctuated geographically. Even on the same day the price of pigs was very different in one district from the price in another. The fixed price was what we wanted to get at, and, in order to fix a price for pigs, many other things were necessary. Under that Bill two boards were set up, and their composition was such that we had representatives of bacon curers on the Bacon Board and representatives of producers and bacon curers on the Pigs Board. At the same time we had been compelled before that to regulate exports, because the British Government had regulated imports in such a way that they were prepared to give a quota to the Government of any country trading in bacon by negotiation or agreement. The export quota was estimated  roughly at the amount of bacon we thought we could afford to export as being surplus requirements for home consumption.
We were asked by the British Government to give them that estimate about the end of November each year for the following year. That was a thing apart. The boards had no control over it, but, of course, they knew what the amount of export for the year would be, and they had to take that export into account when dealing with the various matters that came before them.
The first thing the Bacon Board had to deal with was the production quota. They dealt with that monthly, and the production quota was really a calculation by the board of the number of pigs that might be available in the country for the month to come. It was varied from time to time, and it never varied downwards, but sometimes upwards; in other words, the Bacon Board at times under-estimated the number of pigs that might come on the market, and had to bring in a supplementary production quota. The second thing the Bacon Board had to deal with was the matter of home sales. The home sales were fixed by the Bacon Board and, again it was an estimate of the amount of bacon that might be absorbed on the home market at the price which bacon might fetch having regard to the price of pigs. These are the two matters the Bacon Board had to deal with, and, as Senators will see, they were merely estimates, firstly, of the number of pigs available for absorption by the factories and, secondly, of the amount of bacon that might be required on the home market for the following month. The production quota was not, as some people have thought, the sum of the amount of bacon to be exported for the month, plus the amount to be consumed for the month at home, because sometimes there might be a carry-over of bacon from one month to another, and, at other times, there might be no carry-over, but, in fact, some absorption of the stocks carried over from the previous month.
The Bacon Board had to go further. Having fixed their total production  quota for the whole country, and their total home sales for the whole country, they had to fix the sub-allocation of production and of home sales. The sub-allocation of production was fixed as the sum of the export quota which the particular factory had got, plus its proportion of home sales. As I have already said, the board had no control over the export quota. They had to take that figure from the Department, and, in fixing their sub-allocation, they fixed the amount of production on the export quota, plus the proportion which the factory was entitled to on the home sales of the same month in the previous year. The home sales then were divided in the same way as between one factory and another. They were divided on the percentage basis that held as between one factory and another, which was the established practice, as the business was done by the factories before this control came in.
There was another consideration. The board fixed a certain price for pigs. They had no control over the export price of bacon. They had fixed home sales with a view to keeping the price of bacon in relation to the price of pigs, and they were in the position, therefore, that if the price of bacon exported were to fall below what would be a fair price, relative to the price of pigs, they had to pay something to the exporter of bacon to enable him to get the same price as if he had sold his bacon at home, and there was a hypothetical fund created for that purpose. They could collect a certain amount from each curer on production, and pay a certain amount out of that fund in respect of the bacon exported to bring it up to the level of the value of bacon sold at home. It might have worked in the reverse way, but it never did. One may have said, four or five years ago, when the Bill was coming in, that it was possible that, at times, the export price of bacon would be even better than would pay the curers, relative to the price of pigs, and, in that case, the levy under the hypothetical arrangement would be taken from those who exported, and something out of the fund given to those who were selling their bacon at home in order to bring the home-sold bacon  up to the value of the export bacon. I quite admit that all this is rather involved and more like a lecture on mathematics than on pigs and bacon, but I give this outline in order to refresh the memories of Senators on the old system before going on to what we intend to do in future.
It has been said in another place that this Bill was brought in because I was dissatisfied with the boards which were in existence. That is not true. The boards which were in existence did their work well, as well as any body of men could be expected to do it, within the legislation and within the regulations which followed the legislation, and the fact that I am bringing in this Bill does not in the least mean that I am dissatisfied with the personnel of these boards. I will explain the reason for the change later. I should like to say also that the boards themselves evidently share the opinion that I am dissatisfied with them, and they actually asked me to set up an inquiry so as to establish whether they had acted within the law and whether they had acted wisely, or not. I do not think I should do so, because I am afraid that everybody would take it as prima facie evidence that I was dissatisfied with the work of these men, if I were to set up a public inquiry. People would take it as an indication that I had some doubt as to the bona fides of the men who acted on these boards, and I have no doubt whatever. I am quite satisfied with the way they carried out their business, and it is for other reasons that this change is being made.
About three months ago, when the present war started, the British Government asked us to regulate, even more rigidly than before, the export of bacon from this country. In fact, they said in the beginning that they wanted all the bacon to go through one seller; in other words, they asked if we could possibly set up a government, or trade, organisation through which all the bacon would go, as it was being received on the other side by one buyer, namely, the food controller. I set up an export committee, composed of the  chairman of the two boards and two civil servants, one of whom had been dealing with all these questions of pigs and bacon on the administrative side, and the other with matters on the technical side. These three men took over all the questions relating to the export of bacon and pigs, the negotiations as to prices, the negotiations with the British Government as to conditions of export, conditions of payment and many other questions which arose. In fact, they had quite a number of matters to deal with when they were first set up. It entailed their going across to the officials in the Food Ministry on at least three or four occasions to get all these details settled up and it will, I am quite sure, necessitate their going frequently to keep matters right. That export committee is there. I think that for some time to come and, in fact, quite possibly for the duration of this war, the price of pigs here will have to be related to the price that we get for our bacon exported. If that is a fact, and I think that any Senator here who considers the matter very fully will come to the conclusion that that is going to be the fact, there is practically no necessity for the Pigs Board because the big function of the Pigs Board was to fix prices for pigs. They took many things into consideration. These are laid down in the Act. They had to consider the supply of pigs, the supply of bacon on the market, the export quotas we might be able to get from time to time, and also the cost of feeding stuffs.
I think that there is only one consideration now and that is the price that we can get for our bacon when we export it, and the price of pigs will be related to that. I do not see how it can be otherwise. I do not see that we could possibly, during this time of war, pay more for the pigs than they would be worth, having the value of exported bacon in mind. If we paid more for our pigs it would mean that the home consumer here or somebody else would have to subsidise the export of pigs to Great Britain. I do not think that I or anybody else could defend that at the present time. For that reason, amongst others, I think  that the price of pigs will have to be related to the price of bacon exported. Therefore, as I say, there appears to be no necessity for a Pigs Board because it is only a matter of calculation and this export committee could do it just as well as any other body of people. That is one point.
I think also that no matter how many pigs we have in this country and no matter how much bacon we manufacture, there is no danger about our finding a market for that bacon. I hope we will be able to consume as much bacon at home as ever we did, but whatever surplus we would have I do not anticipate that we would have any great trouble in getting the British Government to take it during this time of war. Again, for that and other reasons, I do not think that there will be any necessity to have production quotas. We can loosen up on these production quotas and let the factories take pigs as they come to them. If the production quota goes, and certainly the home-sales quota will go—I have no doubt about that—then the Bacon Marketing Board has nothing to do. So again we find that the Bacon Marketing Board has very little function to perform and this export committee can carry on the function of the Bacon Board quite easily.
The question will be asked, I am sure, as it was asked in the Dáil, the question that I certainly asked myself: If all that can be done, is there any necessity at all for a board or anyone to control things during this war? I think we can drop practically all control, but it is well, perhaps, to stick to the fixed price for pigs at any rate. If you examine the position during the Great War of 1914 to 1918, I think you will find that there were fluctuations even at that time as between one fair and another on the same day. That sort of thing would lead to dissatisfaction.
Mr. Counihan Mr. Counihan
Mr. Counihan: That will always continue.
Dr. Ryan Dr. Ryan
Dr. Ryan: We arranged the fixed price to stop it as far as we can. I believe, therefore, that it is useful to  continue the fixed price. This new commission will do that. By the way, in this Bill we are providing for the withdrawal of the production quota, but it can be reimposed if we find we have acted hastily or made a mistake. I will come to that point in a few minutes, and indicate where I think we might make a mistake in doing it. If the production quota is gone, the home sales quota is gone, and we are only fixing price; control is practically gone; there is no great control there, but I am very anxious that this commission should go in and take over the functions of the two boards, and be there to reimpose a certain amount of control if it is found necessary. They will have to control export, of course, on account of the arrangements on the British side for taking that bacon. They may have to use control to a certain extent in other directions. It is well they should be there, and especially, I think, they should be there to get all the information they can on this great subject of the production of pigs and bacon. I put it this way: if we were only looking as far as the duration of this war, I would not hesitate to agree with the Dáil or Seanad, if they asked me, to withdraw all control. But we must look beyond the war. I think every Senator will agree that when this war is over we are going to have a very difficult situation with regard to the export of bacon, and, I suppose, the export of other things, too, but I am dealing with bacon now. We are going to be competing in a market which may not be as good as it was in the past. We are going to be competing against countries which are very well organised for the production and export of bacon, and unless we are organised just as well as they are organised, and unless we are careful about every penny from the time the farmer starts to breed his pig up to the time the bacon leaves the country, we will not be able to compete. I am hopeful that, if we have this commission, we may in the course of 12 months or so, be able to get a report from that commission on the best system that could be adopted as a permanent system, which would come into operation, I hope, before the war  is over, and be there to deal with the situation when the war is at an end. That is my big reason, I can say quite candidly, for this commission, that they may be able to help me, or whoever is there when the time comes; that they may be able to help the Oireachtas in general in putting up the best possible scheme for consideration as a permanent scheme and, especially, as a scheme that will be ready to take over control of everything when the war is over.
I want also to impress upon the Seanad this point, because I think some of the speeches made in the Dáil would not perhaps have taken the lines they did if it were not that certain Deputies there were under the impression that this was a permanent scheme. I am not finding any fault with the speeches in the Dáil because they were all very helpful, but I think that some of them would not have taken the lines they did were it not for that reason. This is quite a temporary scheme for dealing with things for the time being and is in preparation for a permanent scheme which I hope we may be able to evolve in time.
I will just mention in detail a few matters that are in this Bill. First of all, as I have explained, the two boards go, both the Pigs Board and the Bacon Board, and all their functions are taken over by a commission. It is laid down in the Bill that the commission will consist of three people, and it is laid down in the Bill also that the two ordinary members will be civil servants of certain standing and that they will carry on all these functions of the Bacon Board and the Pigs Board. It is not laid down in the Bill, of course, that the present export committee would be the commission, but that is the intention, that those who are dealing with these exports of bacon and pigs would be the same people who would take over the commission and deal with all the matters relating to pigs for the time being.
As I have said already, the production quota can be suspended and can be reimposed if we do not find that it is to the best advantage. One danger I see in suspending the production  quota is this: Before control came in, we had 27 or 30 factories and they were getting a certain number of pigs. They were going on with the business. When control came in, the production was based on the production in the year before the Act was passed. I mean, the percentage was based on that. If pigs go down, of course, all the production is smaller in the same proportion; if pigs go up, the production is greater in the same proportion. It is fixed on a percentage basis as between one and the other. There might be a change in the distribution of pigs. I do not know. There might be, and it might be difficult for factories to get pigs now which could easily get pigs before this control came in, and there might be a temptation, especially for the bigger factories, if they find it difficult to get the pigs, to use some method or other of getting pigs as against a smaller one. Now, we may pass Bills here and make regulations as we like inflicting dire penalties, but whatever we do there are ways that pig factories can get pigs and in which we cannot stop them, and they can even get them above the fixed price.
Mr. Counihan Mr. Counihan
Mr. Counihan: And they will regulate the prices.
Dr. Ryan Dr. Ryan
Dr. Ryan: They will do it, anyhow. The one fear I have in dropping this production quota is that the big men may do considerable damage to the small men under this system, and it is for that reason that power has been taken to reimpose the production quota if it is thought necessary. I hope it will not be necessary, but under this, we can reimpose it if it is. We may adopt some other system that will deal with the difficulties we are trying to get over by dropping the production quota. I do not intend to deal with the difficulties which arose out of the production quota as I think Senators are fully aware of them. In Monaghan, for instance, there were many more pigs than local farmers could take, and again farmers found it hard to get rid of pigs and it may be that they are rather disgruntled and inclined to go out of pig production. To get over that difficulty we thought of dropping the quota.
 The home sales quota is definitely abolished and cannot be reimposed. I think we can take a risk in that, at any rate. There is again a danger there, but we are taking a chance on that. There is the danger that the factories might be tempted during the flush months of November and December into selling all the bacon produced during those months and, if they do, there will be a shortage in the months of February, March and April; since under this system of control there was a good carry-over from say October to November, again from that month to December, and again to January. This carry-over went right through until we came to the scarce spring months and then it got less and less until it was exhausted about May or June.
If we drop the home sales quota we may not be able to regulate that carry-over so well, but there are provisions in the Bill under which we can resort if necessary to the commission for authority necessary to give effect to the cold storing of bacon. I do not know if it will be necessary to resort to that, and I know it has its own disadvantages.
We are replacing the hypothetical scheme that was in operation by a stabilisation scheme. There is no change in that, except that it is a simpler scheme to work. Under the hypothetical scheme the board collected a levy from every curer on production and brought the money in and paid it out again on exports or on home sales as the case may be. In this way the curer pays a levy on exports alone, or on exports to a certain country. We have had cases where hams exported to America or exports for some short time to another country may have been profitable, and it would have been possible to have collected a levy on that export of bacon to that particular market and paid it into a fund. For example, there could have been exports to Great Britain, for a while, of bacon and ham and that levy could have been paid into a fund. In the same way, they can put it on for any period for bacon sold for export to Great Britain or for export to a particular country or for consumption at home.
 Another point dealt with in this Bill is the insurance find. Under the old arrangement up to this every curer was entitled to levy 9d. on every pig to cover insurance. Before this scheme a curer could make an agreement with the producer that after killing a pig, if he found he had to reject part of it he could deduct that from the cheque before sending it to the producer. Now he is not entitled to do that under the insurance scheme brought in, in 1935. Instead of that, every farmer contributed 9d. per pig towards an insurance fund in the factory and each factory was working its own insurance fund. If a factory made money they got it and if they lost it they had to pay up. The fact is that a number of factories have lost money on this insurance scheme while a number of others have gained. In order to equalise things the insurance fund is being made a general fund so that the factories will send up to the central fund or rather pay the commission 9d. per pig. It is 9d. to commence with, but that can be varied if necessary. They are paid out of the general funds on any condemnations afterwards.
Another point in reference to this Bill is with regard to the costings in the factories. We thought in 1935 that we had covered that point. It became doubtful after some time. It was considered by the lawyers in 1937. The point had not arisen in 1937 but it was in doubt; but subsequent to that it became established and accepted that the board could not demand the figures they required with regard to costings. It has been put beyond doubt into this Bill that the commission can ask for any figures they want in order to help them to get costings and so on from various factories.
Another point, which I think is the only one of any magnitude in this Bill, is with regard to arbitration. In 1937 we set up a scheme for compensating the smaller factories which were going out of production. It was composed of three members including the chairman of the Pigs Marketing Board and the Bacon Marketing Board. The arbitration board sat and considered certain cases but evidently each of the three men had a mind of his own and no two  could agree. Even if two did agree, it is doubtful if that would have been sufficient. Now a clause has been put in to say that, if a majority of this arbitration board agrees on a figure, that figure will be paid. If we cannot get a majority decision then the Minister appoints one of them—not the chairman, however—to be the arbitrator, and that disposes of the matter.
I believe I have dealt with the bigger matters which arise in this Bill. The smaller matters will arise on the Committee Stage, and the only thing I ask for is the co-operation of the Senators in getting the Bill through in a reasonable time, as we would be in a rather awkward position if this legislation were not passed before the 1st January.
Mr. Counihan Mr. Counihan
Mr. Counihan: I support this Bill with reservations. I support it because I believe it is a great improvement on the 1935 and 1937 Acts, but I have grave doubts that it will accomplish what I believe the Minister is honestly trying to do. I am a very strong believer in open markets and free trade, and in leaving the law of supply and demand to regulate prices. Since 1935, when the Pigs and Bacon Board came into operation, the prices of bacon and pork have been steadily rising, and a good price has been maintained the whole time in the British markets. That was not due in any way to the operations of the Pigs Marketing Board. I am sure—and I believe every sensible man who has any experience of the trade will agree—that the producers of pigs would have got much better prices if there were none of the restrictions which have been imposed by the Pigs and Bacon Boards on the sale of pigs. My object in rising is not to discuss the provisions in the Bill, but to plead with the Minister to withdraw the export licences on pigs, and give the producers of pigs and the pig traders a free market, and let the bacon curers look after themselves. If he does that, it will mean a very much higher price for the pig producer than he is getting at present. We can get a quota from Great Britain for all the supply of pigs that the Minister is able to offer.
 If the Minister strives to create competition, which does not exist at present, in the fairs and markets, the pig producer will get a very much better price. In the Dublin market to-day there were some representatives of the Pigs Marketing Board buying pigs there. I do not know whether that was for the purpose of a test or for the purpose of trying to work up the price of pigs in the market, but I know that they could not succeed in either of these two objects. It could not be for the purpose of a test, because the representatives of the Pigs Marketing Board would not be able to buy pigs at the price at which the dealer would buy them, and they would not be able to market pigs with the same facilities as the pig dealer or exporter. If it was for the purpose of trading, I strongly protest against the Government's interference with the ordinary trade of the country. I think it is an objectionable practice, and it is very much to be deprecated. I think that the Minister could obtain all the licences that he wants for exports to England, but, at least for the period of the war, he should allow a free market and let the pig producers get the highest price they can in that free market. I have been told in the Dublin market to-day that licences for the export of pigs are worth from £1 to 30/- per pig. That £1 or 30/- for the licence comes directly out of the producer's pocket. If a buyer who has not a licence is prepared to pay that price for one, he must buy a pig 25/- or 30/- less than he would otherwise pay. That is the reason there is very little competition. You find one exporter with 1,700 or 1,800 licences for the month, while another exporter has only 30 licences.
I understand that export licences are given on the basis of the number exporters shipped for the corresponding month in 1938. There might be good reasons why a pig exporter did not ship any pigs in a particular month last year. He might have been ill, or there might be some other reason which prevented him exporting during that month, although the export of pigs was his normal occupation. However, if he shipped none in one particular month, he got no licence for the corresponding  month. In that way a big percentage of licences might be assigned to one man. Senators need not have a great experience of business to know that if you give a monopoly of licences, and they are all in the hands of one or two people, that tends to destroy competition. The man who enjoys the monopoly can sit down until the two or three men with a small number of licences are satisfied, and then he can get all he requires at his own price. For that reason, I strongly urge the Minister to withdraw the export licence system for the period of the war, and give pig producers an opportunity of getting a fair price for their produce.
Much has been said about the enormous profits made by bacon merchants and factories under the Bacon Marketing Board scheme. I think that Senators might like to have a little more evidence on that point. For that reason, I should like to give a personal experience as to what happened in connection with a bacon factory in which I have a small interest. This was a co-operative bacon factory started by a number of farmers. It was established about 20 years ago. For the most of that time it paid no dividends and it was practically wiped out in about ten years. A London merchant then came along and subsidised the factory, but even then it paid no dividend. When the Pigs and Bacon Act came into force, since 1935, it is paying 20 per cent. I have received 20 per cent. on my shares.
Dr. Ryan Dr. Ryan
Dr. Ryan: A co-operative factory?
Mr. Counihan Mr. Counihan
Mr. Counihan: Yes, on ordinary shares in a bacon factory. I can name the factory if the Minister wishes. It is the Castlebar Bacon Factory. I have got 20 per cent. on the ordinary shares since that time. That shows that the bacon factories' profits have been exorbitant. I do not blame them for profiteering. I would profiteer myself if I had the opportunity. I, however, blame the Minister for providing them with the opportunity to profiteer. That is the reason I advocate a free market and the free export of pigs for the period of the war, and let the bacon  curers look after themselves. If he does that he will be conferring a great boon on pig producers and he will go a long way towards encouraging increased production. I hope the Minister will seriously consider that appeal.
Sir John Keane Sir John Keane
Sir John Keane: It is said sometimes that we never learn, but I think that if we could only hear the Minister in confidence for a few moments, he would tell us that he has learned a lot. He has learned from all the derelicts he has had to carry—the calf-slaughtering scheme, the intense cattle slaughter, the attempt to regulate the price that would be paid for cattle, the maize mixture scheme and other such schemes. Whether from conviction, or force of circumstances, they are now happily all on the scrap heap. I feel that we are fortunate in this respect, that the Minister dealing with the industry has had to deal with fluid conditions. He has been able to do all that in very striking contrast to the difficulties of the Minister for Industry and Commerce who has got himself tied up with a number of factories that have to be carried and cannot be scrapped because they are mixed up with Party prestige. They are a millstone around the country's neck. Let us be at least thankful that we are able, largely because this is a productive industry with an export trade, to get away in spite of all our mistakes from all this control and get back to more or less free dealing. The minute you begin to control anything, you entrench vested interests and capital. Although I am an unabashed capitalist, I have never ceased to protest against a system which enables capital to entrench itself and secure privileges and advantages of which the factories controlled always take advantage.
There is no good expecting a public spirit from business men. That is not the way it works. Under a free system of competition prices settle themselves, and supply and demand ensure that there shall be no extortion of the public. But, when you try to cut across those laws, as we have been doing, then we see that capital unduly enriches itself at the expense of the consumer. The Minister has had a  lamentable experience of control, and I would ask him to cut away from it. I understand that there is no restriction of this kind on sheep, mutton or beef. What is the difference in essence? What is the need of the control of bacon when apparently we are not going to control beef, or any other animal products? I hope the Minister will answer that when replying. The Minister gave one reason for this measure: that we are going, in some mysterious way, to get experience which will enable the trade to adjust itself to post-war conditions. He then went on to refer to other countries being so much better organised than we are. Is not the reason why they are better organised this, that there is free competition and no control? The whole history of the bacon trade in Denmark is due to this, that the farmers have the power to organise themselves, so that all the profits in the business go automatically to them. The farmer sends in his pigs to the factory which cures them with the highest possible efficiency. There are no restrictions. The bacon is then marketed by a central marketing board. All the money that is available, over and above the overheads and the interest on capital, where there is any, goes back to the primary producer. That is the lesson that we have got to learn.
As long as you have the capitalist system, it should be allowed to operate freely. The only alternative to it is the co-operative system which they have in Denmark, where it has been such a success. The less control we have the better. I have no faith even in the little that remains. The Minister said that he did not believe he could ever stop business people taking advantage of the position which control gives them. I hope he will go further than he proposes in this measure, and put an end to whatever control remains, because experience shows that it operates to the disadvantage of consumers and producers, and gives to those who have entrenched themselves with capital an undue advantage.
Mr. Baxter Mr. Baxter
Mr. Baxter: There is really not very much to be said about this Bill.  Neither of the Senators who preceded me has said much about it. The Minister admits that it is going to be a temporary measure. If it were not for that admission, Senators might have a good deal to say about it. I do not know if the Minister recollects the attitude of some of us when the original measure was introduced in 1935. I recollect that a very distinguished member of the House at that time—he is no longer with us, but he sat on the opposite side—seemed to be very enthusiastic about it.
I would like to be able to be as optimistic about the effects of this legislation as he was of the other. I did my best to make the Principal Act as workable as possible. It has since been generally recognised, I think, that it was not a very workable scheme. I do not think Senator Counihan was correct when he said that at the time these boards came into operation prices were going up, and that the market was there for our products. It was unfortunate, I think, that when the scheme was put into operation we were in the middle of the economic war, and that what may be described as chaotic conditions prevailed. To that extent, the legislation of that period got a very bad start and left a very bad taste in the mouths of a great many of our farmers who were not able to dispose of their pigs because of all the control that was introduced.
I cannot accept the Minister's point of view with regard to the way these boards discharged their obligations. What Senator Sir John Keane has pointed out is quite true, that the net result of that legislation was that capital increased its power, prestige and control over the industry, to an extent that it never was able to exercise before. The view generally held is that the producers' representatives on the Pigs and Bacon Board were not able and did not face up to the curers' representatives. The net result was that they let the curers' representatives get away with too much. If it were the policy of the curers to force the price of bacon up on the home market to the highest point which, in their opinion, the market would stand, the producers'  representatives ought to have forced the price of pigs up to the highest point which the curers could stand. If they had done that, there would not have been all this talk about the immense profits which the curers made, because, in the situation which I have visualised, they would not have been able to make them. I think that it was there that the principal failure was. It was in that respect that the Pigs Board did fail.
This business of the Minister and the Minister's representatives interfering with trade was adverted to both by Senator Sir John Keane and Senator Counihan. The trouble, of course, there is that once you begin to control you never seem to be able to stop. The war has presented us with a different situation. I agree that you can now get out of control for the time being, but if the war had not come along I cannot see how you would have been able to relax control or what conditions would operate for producers and manufacturers of bacon if control were removed. A great deal of fire has been heaped on the Minister's head because of the operations of the boards set up under the Principal Act. These sections in the Act are now being repealed. It is true to say that these boards were outside his control, and that in so far as they failed, to a great extent, at any rate, he could not be said to be directly responsible. In directly, perhaps, he was. He is now going to be in a different position.
What I do not like about his scheme is this—and I accept it only because it is a temporary measure—that he is going to put two civil servants, and apparently the chairman of the old boards, in control of this industry. I am not saying a word against the eminent gentlemen who are going to compose this commission. I am sure that if a selection were to be made by the Minister that, probably, according to his judgment, he would find it difficult to make a better selection, but it appals me to think that the control of a big industry like this, for the duration of the war, is going to be put into the hands of any three civil servants, I do not mind who they are. That, I think, is the most dangerous aspect of  the case from the Minister's point of view. The control of an industry in which several million pounds are turned over every year is a very great responsibility. As the head of a Department of State the Minister is shouldering heavy enough responsibilities at the moment. He has responsibility for the political consequences, if you like, of certain acts, and surely that is enough for any one man to carry. But when you are going into trade, and sponsoring a scheme, and when your own servants are handling that trade, and if everything does not go right the Minister has to take the consequences. I think that is wrong. It is bad and dangerous for a Government. That is the aspect of the measure that I like least.
I know a great many civil servants and, as individuals, they are very competent men who work very hard. But it is one thing to have a man discharging obligations day by day in an office, and quite a different thing when he is taken out of that position and put in charge of a big business, without taking him away from his responsibilities as a civil servant. If this were to be something permanent, or if he were acting as an ordinary business man, it would be rather different. He seems to be two beings at the same time, a civil servant and a business man. I do not think he can be both. A civil servant can be a good citizen, but he is a most cautious man, and must never say or do anything with which the head of his Department would disagree. While I wish the best of luck to the man who is going to operate the scheme, it would be better if the Minister had devised something else. I realise the difficulty he was up against. In so far as this measure is only going to be temporary, I accept the Minister's statement. I would prefer if he had said, that while it was temporary he would carry it over, until there was something else. He said he was going to get something better. I would not like to be the head of a Department which had under it a big trading organisation like this.
The Minister has got a report from the Commission on Agriculture. I do not know if he has had the opportunity of studying it. I urge that the scheme should only be operated for the shortest  period necessary to deal with this business. In so far as the measure is temporary I do not think there will be any difference of opinion in the House about accepting it. We realise that the Minister has to have something operating before the end of the year, and I take it that the House will not hinder him getting the Bill through. Nevertheless, we want time to look into the sections, as we have only got the Bill now from the other House. Perhaps the Minister could give some indication of his thoughts on the interim report. From what Senator Sir John Keane said, it is clear that other countries found a better way of dealing with this business than we did. The Minister has now got the bones of a better way from the Agricultural Commission, and it is his function to set about clothing those bones as quickly as he can, in the form of a better machine. The sooner he gets away from this contact with trade, that is inevitable under the Bill, the better it will be eventually.
An t-Ollamh Liam O Buachalla An t-Ollamh Liam O Buachalla
An t-Ollamh Liam O Buachalla: Is maith liom an seans seo fháil le rá go bhfuil áthas orm gur tugadh an Bille seo isteach, mar creidim gur Bille é a dhéanfas a lán le feabhas a chur ar an tionnscál muc agus bágúin.
I am afraid what I have to say will be in English, and for that reason I may not be able to express myself as readily as I would if I were speaking in Irish, so I must ask the House to be somewhat patient with me. I welcome this Bill, and I think the country will welcome it, and for two reasons. Firstly, because, to a great extent, it implements the recommendations of the Agricultural Commission, which has for such a long time been considering this whole question of the pig and bacon industry. I welcome it also because it is further evidence, if such evidence is needed, of the desire of the Minister to do everything that he possibly can in the interest of all classes of the community, and particularly in the interest of the agricultural community. I gather the Bill has become a necessity because it has been discovered that, however careful we were in the past in framing legislation, in regard to the  pig and bacon industry, that circumstances and conditions have developed which have operated to interfere with the smooth working of that legislation, and because of the failure of that legislation to secure, fully at any rate, the interest of those mainly concerned, namely, consumers and producers.
Reading the discussions that took place in the other House about this Bill, and in discussing the question with members of this House, I find that criticism has been levelled at the Minister because he introduced the Bill, which, it has been pointed out, is the third Bill he introduced for the purpose of promoting the pig and bacon industry. I am very pleased that he has introduced this third Bill, and I congratulate him on that action. As the House knows, I have not very much experience in regard to legislation, but I should like to say this, that I believe when legislation is found to be unworkable or for any reason has become obsolete, it ought to be withdrawn or amended or replaced. I think that is the natural and the proper way to look at such matters. There is very often no accounting for the actions of men, and particularly in the economic sphere. That is the view generally of economists. We find that our most careful plans and our most carefully thought out prognostications very often fail to work out. Why that is so is perhaps another question. We believe it is because of that inherent feature in man, free will, that there is no accounting for what he will do.
Even this third Bill in the interests of the bacon industry may not work but as a result of my going through the records of the speeches made in the other House, I believe that the agricultural community and consumers generally will agree that it is a very honest effort to secure the welfare of the pig and bacon industry; and that it will secure the interests of both producers and consumers.
There are two matters in connection with the Bill to which I wish to refer. The first has to do with Section 56, which gives to the new board power to ascertain the gross and net costings of bacon production. This, I believe, in spite of all the criticisms that have been levelled at the Bill, will certainly  prove a very effective check on any tendency on the part of the curers, or trader interests, to profit unduly at the expense of the producers or the consumers. I think that is a very useful section and that it will have a very good effect. Section 14, too, I think is a very effective section, especially from the point of view of securing the interests of producers and consumers. I should like to say that, in the ordinary course, I should not be in favour of Ministers or others having power to probe, as they think fit, into the affairs of business, or that they should have power to get any information they think they need as to the ordinary private business affairs of people, but this fact remains, that, in the case of this particular industry, undoubtedly an atmosphere of distrust has been engendered, and I think it is essential that that distrust should be allayed. The community in general will, I think, be very grateful for the provision of the safeguards which, in my belief, are contained in sub-sections (2) and (3) of Section 14.
I want to refer to another point which is not concerned so much with the provisions of the Bill, but with a certain propaganda which is being carried on in regard to the pig industry. Generally, the assertion is made that the pig industry has suffered severely, and that the pig population has declined severely because of Government policy. I think that any impartial student of the industry will agree that that is not so. On the contrary, were it not for Government policy, the industry would now be dead. It is continually asserted, for example, that the pig population has seriously declined. We have had that repeated time and again before our commission and elsewhere, but, viewed over the long term, it will have to be admitted that the pig population in Ireland has always been a somewhat fluctuating one. Even during the years of the Great War, when the prices of pigs soared, the numbers of pigs were considerably smaller than they were in 1938. For instance, if we take the year 1918, when pig production should have been at its peak, the numbers then were considerably lower—by just 100,000—than last year. In 1929, during the régime of  the last Government, which, by all accounts, did so much to help the live-stock industry, the number of pigs was some 945,000, and, in 1938, notwithstanding all the propaganda that is being carried on, the figure returned is 959,000.
I should like to refer in passing to the references made by Senator Sir John Keane, and particularly to his remark on the law of supply and demand. This is a principle in economics which is of considerable interest to students, whether in their first year or in their 20th year. I am sorry the Senator is not here now, because I should like to ask him just what would have been the position of the pig and bacon industry if the Minister had allowed that industry to take its course in accordance with the law of supply and demand. As a matter of fact, I should like to ask him, or anybody else, just what would be the position of this country in any conceivable branch of industry, with, perhaps, the possible exception of Guinness' stout and Jacob's biscuits, if it had not been for the policy of protecting the industry against this terrible law of supply and demand. Again, in passing, I should like to say that some people seem to have taken to themselves the right to speak for economists. I do not know whether I would be described as an economist or not, but that, in fact, is my profession, whether people like it or not, and I certainly am not a free trader. I take my economics for what they are. Text books are merely guides; they give us an insight, when we start to study a subject, into certain principles, and they help us; but there comes a time, and very soon, in one's study of economics, when one must leave the standard text books aside and face the facts of life. I am not a free trader. In passing, too, I should like to ask where is there a free-trade country in the world to-day?
It would be all very well if all countries were prepared—if I may put it this way—to don the habit of the friars and vow themselves to poverty, rigid discipline, and to do nothing but good to their neighbours; to do by their neighbours as they would have others do by themselves. Free trade  might work then, but nations do not seem to be willing to act in that way, and certainly, so long as the world is not willing to submit to rule like that, I advise the Minister and the Government to stick to the policy of protection.
Senator Sir John Keane also referred to Denmark and spoke of the success of the industry there. The outstanding thing about Denmark is that the co-operative spirit exists there, and that fact accounts for the high efficiency of the pig and bacon industry in Denmark. I am glad the Minister has entrusted this board with the duty of investigating and finding out how best eventually this industry may be run and controlled. I believe that eventually the co-operative organisation will be the most suitable. I am not quite sure at the moment when we could bring it in in Ireland, because though I am myself a co-operator—I believe in the economics of co-operation and I believe that in co-operation lies the salvation of this country—I am not sure whether our people are just yet ready for co-operation. In that regard, we have to face facts. I do not like to pontificate on the matter of co-operation—I have to sit, like some other members of this House, as a kind of judge, later on, on this particular question—but I am not sure at all that co-operation has so far been a success in this country. Why that is, if it is so, is something we have to find out later on; but it is because of co-operation that the pig industry has been such a success in Denmark. When I hear all this talk about free trade and control, I wonder what condition this country would be in if our Government had allowed it to follow the fortunes that would have come to it as a result of free trade. Particularly in regard to the bacon industry, when one considers the conditions obtaining for a long time in the world markets and the intensity of the competition on the part of producers in other countries, and in Denmark particularly, and when we recall the extraordinary strides made in other countries—Denmark again, for example—in the efficiency of pig and  bacon production as compared with the state of the industry at home, I must say, in all sincerity, that the Government is entitled to every possible praise for its work for the pig industry in this country.
The outstanding fact about the pig and bacon industry, as I mentioned a minute ago, is that it has not expanded, If you take the long view, it has remained more or less static for the last 90 years. That is worth while recalling in view of all that has been said in favour of free trade. Some people tell us that the only thing that can be worked to success in this country is the live-stock industry. We have to remember that that particular industry has been allowed to work, and has been encouraged under the most ideal free trade conditions over a period of roughly 130 years, in other words, from the passing of the Act of Union until the advent of the Fianna Fáil Government. In view of the fact that it is claimed that stock raising is the ideal, the natural industry for this country, in view of the fact that Britain went out of her way in every possible direction and on every possible occasion to encourage that industry, it is a most extraordinary thing that no branch of the live-stock industry has expanded.
This Bill, as I take it, and viewing it from the point of view of the recommendations of the Agricultural Commission, is intended not alone to save the pig and bacon industry. After all it is in danger. The war has interfered and has slightly altered facts but the war will not last for ever. As I say, this Bill is intended to secure the industry but it is also intended to secure the expansion of the industry, and I for one believe that it will. For that reason, I welcome the Bill and I am convinced that the country will welcome the Bill. The pig producers and the consumers will welcome it whatever about the bacon curers. I think the Minister has seen to it that the bacon curers will not get away with it as readily as they did in the past.
I take it from the attitude of Senator Baxter and from the attitude of Senator Counihan that they have not very much fault to find with the Bill and, as the Minister has explained that he would like to get the Bill as soon as  possible, I suggest that we ought to do all we can to give him the Bill with the least possible delay.
Mr. O'Dwyer Mr. O'Dwyer
Mr. O'Dwyer: I would like also to support the Bill. In view of all the criticism that has been recently directed against the Pigs Board, the Bacon Board and the whole system of control, I think it is only fair to give credit for what these boards have done. They have at least brought order out of chaos and they have stabilised prices at a time when the very uncertainty of the prices made it impossible to carry on the business. Before these boards were established there was no attempt at all to relate price to the cost of production. The farmer who bought store pigs when bacon was 70/- a cwt. might have to sell when the price was only 30/- to 40/-. Not only that, but the price at the bacon stores and fairs— especially at the bacon stores—fluctuated from day to day.
In fact, in the old days, when the farmer sent out a load of pigs to a fair in the morning, he had to wait until the car returned in the evening to learn the price operating that day. Looking back, I am convinced that it was that uncertainty in regard to price, that want of stabilisation, that was responsible for the great drop in the pig population. I firmly believe, and as a producer I have some knowledge, that if that system of control had not been introduced, if prices had not been stabilised and some effort made to provide a margin between the cost of production and the price, there would scarcely be any bacon produced in the country to-day. In view of the effects of free trade on the bacon industry, especially in the very old days before the bacon factories were established, and even since the establishment of the bacon factories, I would not be very enthusiastic about a return to free trade completely.
There is another point that I would ask the Minister not to overlook, that is the position of the consumer. It is only fair to say that during those years of the economic war and the great slump in prices, the consumer here had to subsidise the production of bacon and butter and other agricultural products,  and it is only fair now if there is before us—as perhaps there is—a great period of prosperity, that the consumer should reap some benefit from these things which he had to keep alive in the bad times. I would say that in the event of the price of bacon soaring in the world market that would be no reason why we should allow prices to soar here. I think it would be only fair to keep them within reasonable limits and that the consumer should reap some advantage from the sacrifices which he was called upon to make during other years.
I was glad to hear that this measure is only a temporary one, because I am quite convinced that the final solution of this question must be to make the whole bacon industry co-operative in every branch, just as the dairying industry has been made co-operative. Senator Sir John Keane cited the case of Denmark and the success of the co-operative bacon industry there. There is no need to go outside Ireland to see what co-operation will do. We have a clear example in the dairying industry to-day. The dairying industry is almost completely in the hands of co-operative societies. Groups of farmers in various parishes have formed themselves into societies and have set up creameries and carry on the business of manufacturing and selling dairy products. Some doubt has been expressed as to whether the people would be capable of carrying on the bacon industry on the same lines, but I do not see what justification there is for any such doubt when we consider the example of the co-operative creameries. Some of the co-operative creameries have a turnover of £1,000,000, and they carry on very many industries in addition to the actual work of the creameries. Some of them have already gone into the bacon industry. I see no reason to doubt why the bacon trade could not be carried on as successfully as the creamery industry.
There is another advantage in co-operative societies from the Government's point of view. During the period of the economic war, whenever the Government found it necessary to provide a subsidy they knew that no  matter how small that subsidy was it was always distributed evenly down to the smallest supplier or to the smallest man who had a cow. It has not been the same in any other business where the Government had to deal with individual concerns. There was no means of having the subsidies distributed and in the long run reaching the consumer.
Notice taken that 12 Senators were not present; House counted, and 12 Senators being present,
Mr. O'Dwyer Mr. O'Dwyer
Mr. O'Dwyer: I would like to re-emphasise that the ultimate solution of the question must be on co-operative lines. Without that there can be no full development of the pig industry here. Private concerns will not be able to gain the confidence which would be necessary in order to provide for the development of the industry. It is only co-operative concerns that could improve the quota and could help the primary producer. They alone could provide proper control of the product and the means whereby the producer could produce a better article. I am sure if the Minister inquires he will find that it is the almost unanimous opinion of the people who are acquainted with the situation that the ultimate solution of this question must be to make the whole bacon industry co-operative in every branch.
Dr. Ryan Dr. Ryan
Dr. Ryan: Nothing very much has been raised on the Bill that requires to be specifically dealt with. It appears to be the general consensus of opinion amongst nearly all the speakers that the final and the proper remedy for any cvils there are is co-operation. I think that practically every speaker came to that point. I was rather interested to here Senator Counihan say he still believed in free trade. I do not know that he would get anybody to agree with him nowadays, and I do not know if even Senator Counihan would be an out and out free trader for all countries. It might suit us to be free traders in certain respects and not in others, but I think even if we were to throw open the doors here for certain things Senator Counihan would probably object. For instance, if there  were no war, if we were to allow bacon in from everywhere the price of pigs would go down to half what it was. The same thing would happen if we were to adapt a free trade idea in the same way to any other live stock. For instance, we have had here for some time a tariff of 6d. a lb. on mutton and lamb.
In spite of that tariff at one time of the year for the last three or four years a certain amount of lamb was imported into this country. If there is no tariff at all, imagine what the prices of sheep and lambs will be like for the greater part of the year. It is all right being a free trader in certain respects, but I am afraid it is hard to live in the country at the present time by being a free trader.
I do not agree with Senator Counihan at all when he says that the producers would have been better off if this control had not been imposed. I think that the majority of pig producers are quite aware of the fact that this stabilised price was a good thing for them. For a greater part of the year for the last two years—I am not sure about going back further than that—the price of pigs was higher here than it was in the North of Ireland. That position could not have arisen unless we had control. We could not possibly export bacon or pigs and pay more for them here than in the export market.
Mr. Counihan Mr. Counihan
Mr. Counihan: You were subsidising them then.
Dr. Ryan Dr. Ryan
Dr. Ryan: Yes, but that was all due to control. The producer had no objection to our subsidising them, and for that reason the producers were quite pleased with the control scheme. They objected to certain parts of the scheme and wished to have certain things made right—one of them being the production quota—but I think no producer of pigs would like to see control removed in this country. To remove it for the period of the war would not make any difference.
Mr. Counihan Mr. Counihan
Mr. Counihan: That is all I asked for.
Dr. Ryan Dr. Ryan
Dr. Ryan: I think no producer of pigs would object to Departmental  control. It is not true to say that we can do absolutely whatever we like in regard to the quotas to Great Britain. I am sure that if we were to say to Great Britain that we would be able to send them three times as much as we have been sending them up to this, they would be pleased to accept it; but they will try to get a constant proportion of live pigs and bacon pigs, as otherwise it upsets them very much. A country which is at war must regulate things very finely and must try to regulate the amount of bacon and pigs which comes into the country in order to get the factories working properly in production of bacon, and they do not want us to say that we will send them in 50,000 pigs in the month of December and no pigs in March and April. For that reason the British Government is rather anxious that we should say that, whatever we have to send them, there should be a certain and constant proportion between live pigs and bacon. I am sure that Senator Counihan understands that it would not do to say that we will send half and half. I would not say that to the British Government, at the same time being sure that we could not send live pigs in March and April.
It has never been the practice in this country to send out live pigs from March to August. For that reason, we must keep down the proportion of live pigs to something reasonable—15 per cent. or 25 per cent., but we cannot exceed that very easily. We might agree with the British Government and say we would make this 15 per cent. of the total. I quite agree; however, that if I were to go to the British Government this month or last month and say that we could give an additional 25,000 they would be glad indeed to get them. That is what we have done in November and it is what we hope to do this month again, and the only thing to do in that way is to make certain monthly agreements with them about it.
We cannot withdraw control entirely as far as the British Government are concerned. They have only withdrawn control until the 5th, or the 15th some say, of January. The control will come  back then and exports will have to go through our export committee. There is no use in asking about withdrawing control for the period of the war because the British will go back to control during the month of January. We therefore could not possibly withdraw the licences for the period of the war.
I do not want to go into the question of what profits were made by bacon factories. The Prices Commission reported that they made too much, and I accept that. I accept also that the Prices Commission have been watching them since, and I assume that since that report the profits have not been extraordinary. I cannot say whether a 20 per cent. dividend is unreasonable or not in a certain factory. For example, if a certain factory cost £50,000 to erect and equip and it is doing badly and is bought for £4,000 or £5,000, the new people who get it would probably be entitled to 20 per cent. on that new capital. That would be nothing extraordinary. Something like that may be the position in Castlebar.
Mr. Counihan Mr. Counihan
Mr. Counihan: No; it is the same company which has been operating since the start.
Dr. Ryan Dr. Ryan
Dr. Ryan: In that case, they are doing very well. On the other hand, I have complaints from other factories who point out that our control would ruin them and that they are almost bankrupt as it is. So it is hard to know the facts.
I regret that Senator Sir John Keane is not here just now, as he congratulated me on learning through mistakes. I know that I have made many mistakes, but I do not agree that the calf slaughter scheme was a mistake and I will never admit it. I thought that it would have been a good thing if the population would consume veal instead of beef, but that did not succeed, I admit. We never compelled any man to slaughter calves. I said at the time that we were encouraging veal consumption, and the only way we could do that was to give the butcher a special price for the skin of the calf. I am surprised that a man like Senator Sir John Keane should adopt such a catch-cry in regard to the slaughter of  calves. It is ridiculous to go back to that matter. If the same position existed to-morrow I would advocate the same thing, and if Senator Counihan were in my position he would advocate it and he would not have had as much pity as I have.
With regard to the maize meal mixture, I would say to Senator Sir John Keane that, since it was withdrawn, for every hundred protests that came in I have received only one note of approval. In all of the counties of Leinster and in a good many of the Munster counties, where they are doing tillage work, they are afraid that there is going to be suffering by reason of the withdrawal of the maize meal mixture scheme. I do not think that will be so, however, as prices are going up for barley and oats and, therefore, there is no necessity for it. I am sure that at the time it was operating it did a great deal of good for the tillage farmers of this country.
Senator Sir John Keane says he is thankful to get away from this control. I do not wish to be a prophet but I am doubtful if we can get away from the system of control. It is like the question of free trade. If every country withdrew control it might be all right but, when we are trading with many other countries who are adopting control, we must exercise control here. Before we started in 1933, the British made us adopt a system of control as they said that we must inform them at the beginning of each year how many pigs and how much bacon we would have for export and then we had to send them out under licence. When we were trading with Germany we had to do the same thing; in fact, we actually had to buy the cattle which we were exporting to Germany. A similar thing happened in the case of the eggs for Spain. Control must take place nowadays before we can export to any countries where control is in operation and there is no use in trying to get away from that. It is all right for Senator Sir John Keane to talk in a theoretical way about free trade and no control, but when you come down to practical politics, you see that you cannot get away  from control. He talks about it as a long record of lamentable experience but I do not agree that it is any such thing. I think that since we brought in this control, to deal with the pig and bacon situation, it has been anything but a lamentable experience. I know half-a-dozen farmers who keep accounts in regard to pig production, and every single one of them says that he has been able to make a profit since control was introduced.
Mr. Madden Mr. Madden
Mr. Madden: Is the Minister not aware that the abolition of pig markets has had the effect of checking the commercial prosperity of towns?
Dr. Ryan Dr. Ryan
Dr. Ryan: I cannot say that. I have had deputations from towns in connection with that matter, and I have said to these people: “Is it not to your interest to see that farmers get the highest price possible for their pigs, no matter how they dispose of them? Will they not have more money to spend in your shops than if they were to dispose of their pigs in the old way?” They have admitted that that is true.
Mr. Madden Mr. Madden
Mr. Madden: But it seems to destroy the whole spirit of competition which is very healthy.
Dr. Ryan Dr. Ryan
Dr. Ryan: I do not think that competition in this matter has been very healthy. When competition had free play, one farmer got 58/-, another 56/- and another 54/- per cwt. Now, competition has been abolished, and everybody gets 60/- per cwt.
Mr. Counihan Mr. Counihan
Mr. Counihan: Does the Pigs Marketing Board not buy at the lowest possible price?
Dr. Ryan Dr. Ryan
Dr. Ryan: There is a fixed price, and the farmer need not give them to the buyer if he wishes. He can take them to the factory.
Mr. Counihan Mr. Counihan
Mr. Counihan: A little experience of that will teach him.
Dr. Ryan Dr. Ryan
Dr. Ryan: Before I was very old, I often sold pigs myself at the fair. I was told the price that I should get for the pigs. I was not allowed to take anything I was offered. When I reached the fair I often saw a number of buyers having a consultation. Then they would come along, and when one of them  made an offer you would feel quite ashamed of your pigs, it was so low. If you managed to sell them, you might read in the paper the next day that pigs at a fair 60 miles away fetched 5/- per cwt. more. How could the buyers afford to give 5/- or 6/- more per cwt. 60 miles away on the same day?
Mr. Counihan Mr. Counihan
Mr. Counihan: Is that not happening still?
Dr. Ryan Dr. Ryan
Dr. Ryan: No, there is a fixed price now. I cannot see the point of Senator Baxter's criticism. He spoke of civil servants being on this board. This is a board which will negotiate with the British Government with regard to prices and with regard to conditions under which bacon will be exported. When conducting these negotiations, as a rule they have people with them who have a practical knowledge of the trade. They generally bring a curer with them if it is a curer's business that is involved or a dealer if it is a dealer's business. They bring somebody like that to advise them on any point that may arise during the discussion. Apart from that, the authorities in Britain will fix a price for bacon and they will say “if the price of bacon is so-and-so, the price of pigs must be so-and-so.” The price will be fixed on a mathematical basis. These are all matters with which a civil servant, if he is a better scholar than the farmer, can deal more capably than a farmer.
In connection with the interim report, I was asked if I had studied it. I did study it and we have adopted some of the recommendations in it. We have not adopted the big recommendation with regard to rationalisation. Senators will remember that there was an unanimous report for some form of rationalisation. Half of the commission recommended that it should be on co-operative lines. Everybody appears to think that the co-operative basis is the proper one, but I have not made up my mind on that. We shall have to get further information before we make up our minds on that matter. It does appear to be accepted by every member of the Agricultural Commission—and on that commission there were farmers, economists, business men and labour  representatives, so that you had practically every interest in the country represented on the commission—that something should be done to rationalise the industry. When they were asked on what lines it should be rationalised, half of them said on co-operative lines, but the other half said that they had not made up their minds as to what direction it should take.
Senator O Buachalla drew the attention of the Seanad to the costings and the returns to be made by the factories, which he thought would be extremely useful. I think so, too. I think the publication of these matters may give a certain assurance to farmers and others that they are getting fair treatment. I should like to say that it is a pity that a number of free trade members of the Seanad were not present to listen to Senator O Buachalla, because I think his remarks would have done them a lot of good. I do not think there is any other point with which it is necessary to deal. There does not appear to be any great objection to the main principles of the Bill, and the details will come up for consideration on the next stage.
Question put and agreed to.
Committee Stage ordered for Wednesday, 13th December.
Seanad Éireann 24 Pigs and Bacon (Amendment) Bill, 1939—Second Stage.