Seanad Éireann - Volume 128 - 13 March, 1991
Destructive Insects and Pests (Amendment) Bill, 1990: Second and Subsequent Stages.
Question proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Kirk) Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Kirk)
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Kirk): The proposed amendments in the Bill have two main purposes; first, to bring up to date the level of penalties provided in the original Act; and, secondly, to strengthen certain provisions in the original Act as regards the making of orders.
There is no basic change in the main structure of the 1958 Act. It has served its purpose well as the main vehicle for controlling the entry of plant material into this country and for dealing with destructive insects and pests. The Act gives wide powers to the Minister by way of orders to be made by him to prevent the bringing into the State of destructive insects and pests. It also gives powers to the Minister to make orders to prevent the spread of destructive insects and pests which are found in the country. Many orders have been made under the 1958 Act and are operative. There is also a provision in the Act of 1958 in regard to spraying of potatoes. This deals with a situation where a particularly destructive pest, such as Colorado Beetle, is found in a potato crop. The purpose of spraying would be to ensure that the pest did not spread to surrounding crops or gain a permanent foothold in the country.
This country is fortunate in having a relatively high standard of plant health and in remaining free from a number of destructive insects and pests found on the Continent and internationally. This fortunate position is attributable to the fact that our island situation forms a natural barrier against the migration of destructive insects and pests and also to the fact that for many years we have operated a strict phytosanitary control on imports of plants and plant products. In the case of some of the more important insects and pests here, we have statutory controls in operation to prevent their spread.
Since 1980 our national plant health scheme has changed to a harmonised EC scheme. While this arrangement removed the former licensing control on imports from other member states it continued the procedure of phytosanitarty certification and import check inspections, as well as a number of special measures to safeguard individual member states from particular destructive insects and pests of which they are free.
At present time the Community is considering the plant health controls which will operate in the Internal Market after 1992. A good deal of negotiation has yet to be gone through before the control system will take final shape. Our objective in these negotiations is, of course, that while having full regard to the implications of 1992 and afterwards, we will be striving to ensure that any changes in procedure will not leave us open to unacceptable risks.
The explanatory and financial memorandum circulated with the Bill gives information about the provisions of the different sections. I would, however, like  to make some comments on what is being provided.
Section 2 provides that a person who contravenes or fails to comply with an order made under certain sections of the 1958 Act shall be guilty of an offence. This provision remedies a deficiency in the earlier Act which did not specify that such an offence would be created. Section 2 of the Bill also strengthens the Minister's powers to make orders under sections 2 and 3 of the original Act.
Section 3 of the Bill extends the area of offence in section 8 of the 1958 Act; that is, the section dealing with the spraying of potatoes.
Section 4 is the central purpose of the Bill in that it updates the provisions for penalties in the 1958 Act. The 1958 Act provided for fines of £10 in some cases and £20 in others. These amounts are very much out of date considering the change in the value of money in the meantime. On the advice of the Attorney General, we are now providing for fines on summary convictions up to a maximum of £1,000 or for imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or a combination of both fine and imprisonment. These are serious punishments but we are dealing with a serious matter. Enormous damage could be done by the illegal bringing into this country of material contaminated by insects or pests which could ruin a particular sector of agricultural crops with great damage to the producers and traders involved in the business.
Costs of compensation could also arise as well as costly controls to be put in place and maintained to contain the outbreaks. In these circumstances the penalties are seen in proportion. It will, of course, continue to be the policy of the Department and the advisory service of Teagasc to inform and advise farmers about the risks of diseases and pests and the necessity for avoiding their entry here on products brought in.
Section 5 of the Bill provides for liability where the offender is a body corporate. This is a standard modern provision recommended by the Attorney  General. Sections 6 and 7 are procedural provisions.
The policy will continue to improve and operate every possible safeguard against entry of destructive insects and pests within the limits of EC obligations, and, in the event of such an insect or pest getting through the net, to take the quickest and most effective steps to prevent it getting a foothold or spreading within the country. This Bill will help to achieve this objective.
The Bill is of special significance to me because of my responsibilities in regard to the horticulture industry. An Bord Glas have been given the task of developing the horticulture industry so that we can greatly reduce our dependence on imports with benefit to the whole economy and to employment. An Bord Glas also have the task of developing the export trade in horticulture. We already have in horticulture some very valuable exports. We have the possibility of extending very greatly our export trade in other sectors. For example, there are great possibilities for substantial increases in exports of hardy nursery stock. That is the business of growing shrubs and trees for resale to garden centres, to public authorities and indeed to large-scale private users of this material in other countries. It is of vital importance that we retain a high standard of plant health and that we keep our controls at the highest possible level of efficiency.
I would like, to pay tribute to the staff in the Department of Agriculture and Food and in other State organisations which have responsibility for the formulation and operation of these very important controls. They are doing a good job and I would like to compliment them.
I commend the Bill to the Seanad for a Second Reading.
Professor Raftery Professor Raftery
Professor Raftery: I would like to welcome the Minister and I am glad he is with us for this small but very important legislation. We cannot do without  modern technology and chemicals in agriculture, horticulture or animal production. There are many people who would not agree with me. The Green movement is particularly concerned with the use of modern technology in food production. A considerable lobby is building up, anxious that we produce and consume food produced without the aid of chemicals. Unfortunately, the consumer has been taken in by some of this information and has no great protection in the matter.
Recently I picked up the results of a survey carried out in Britain by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries on analysis of residues in samples of food. They sampled staple dietary materials such as bread, milk and potatoes, fruit and vegetables and other miscellaneous foods. It was not a small sample. They analysed 760 samples of bread, milk and potatoes; fruit and vegetables, 667 samples; miscellaneous foods, 458 samples; animal products, 582 samples; cereal and cereal products, 266; imported and other foods, 1,536 samples and so on.
The interesting thing is that they also included in this survey what are, rather falsely called, health foods nowadays. Health foods give the impression that these foods have some health-giving attributes. It is a good selling gimmick but having gone through all of these foodstuffs and many others I did not mention such as dried fruit, animal feedstuffs and so on, the surprising thing that emerged was that the foods that had the highest percentage of undesirable residues were those classified as health foods. Some 60 per cent, or 202 samples out of 339, were found to have such residues.
I ask you, who is codding whom? Is the consumer not being exploited by being charged a premium price for a product that is supposed to convey some kind of health-giving qualities above and beyond those contained in food that is produced conventionally? That is the message that is going out quite clearly to the consumer and I have already called for some form of official certification of organically produced food. Consumers are paying a premium price for what is alleged to be  organically produced food. I am sure most of it is, but there is nothing to stop chancers, of which every society has a fair number, from getting conventionally produced food and selling it as organically produced food and making a nice mark-up in the process. In the interests of protecting the consumer from exploitation, and indeed genuine producers from having their good name sullied by chancers, we need some form of official certification of how food is produced.
I welcome this Bill which is overdue. There are too many people who are prepared to damage or endanger the wellbeing of other producers and I am very glad to note that the penalties are being increased substantially. We all know that there is a certain percentage of farmers who still do not dip their sheep, giving rise to pockets of sheep scab which endanger flocks all round and which place animals under considerable stress and pain. The Minister rightly said that the country is fortunate in having a relative high standard of plant health. That is not entirely due to the fact that we are an island nation. It is only right that we should compliment our officials in the Department of Agriculture and Food who have worked assiduously over the years to protect the quality of our plants and animals with some success.
However, we are now running into a new situation where, as the Minister said, our national plant health scheme has changed since 1980 to harmonise with the European Community scheme and it is right and proper that that should be so. We all know, however, that there are going to be considerable difficulties in the phytosanitary area as a result of the greater freedom of movement of various products and of people and services throughout the Community after 1992. This freedom of movement will bring its own risks. The building of the Channel Tunnel itself will create difficulties and we will have to be more vigilant at ports to protect the health status of our plants and animals. I note the Minister is aware of that and I am glad he is.
Section 2 provides that a person who contravenes or fails to comply with an  order made under certain sections of the 1958 Act shall be guilty of an offence. I welcome that. It is overdue. Careless people do not have the right to endanger the livelihoods of other producers or the quality of their stock or plants. In section 3 the Bill extends the area of offence in section 8 of the 1958 Act which is the section dealing with the spraying of potatoes, and rightly so.
We would have a very difficult situation on our hands if we had to deal with the Colorado Beetle. The Colorado Beetle is a small insect and it is not easy, despite the vigilance of our port officers, to detect it. Much larger organisms can escape officers at ports. It is right that we should have a strategy for dealing with the beetle if it happens to come into this country. Beetles can also come in in timber and we must be able to deal with that situation if it should happen.
I was amazed the fines had not been updated despite all the inflation we have had between 1958 and 1990 and that we are only now getting round to adjusting the fines that can be imposed. Who would take notice of a fine of £20 and £1,000 nowadays is not a very hefty fine, either. When one reads through the speech however and finds that the guilty person might also be responsible for compensation that could arise as well as for the costly controls put into place and maintained to contain the outbreaks, then I think it becomes a really effective deterrent.
I note also that the Minister said that Teagasc will have responsibility for advising and informing farmers. I would point out to the Minister that Teagasc — while it is only right that it should — are under very severe pressure having lost roughly 30 per cent of their staff in recent years as a result of Government cutbacks. Considering the ever-increasing workload and diminishing number of staff officers who not only have to give advice and information but who also have to collect part of their own wages and salaries from the people they serve, I wonder if they can devote sufficient time to advising and informing farmers about insecticides and  pesticides and various other things they should be using.
Section 5 of the Bill provides for liability where the offender is a body corporate. I am glad of that. They are not always innocent in matters like that. It is not always the private individual who is the offender. It is time that bodies corporate were brought into the net and held responsible for any omissions or failure to implement measures they are supposed to implement.
The Minister went on to say that there are great possibilities for substantial increases of exports of hardy nursery stock. I am sure there are. We have been talking about this for 50 years or more. It is like faith without good works — not worth a damn. The Minister has a glorious opportunity to do something about it. We now have An Bord Glas. The market does exist. The Dutch who are the main providers of such material have a disease problem. Their country is so intensively cultivated that they do not have the health status and the healthy soil we enjoy. That is a matter that we could and should exploit. They do not have our year-round climate nor the mild winter we enjoy. Bulb growers in Holland, for instance, have to cover entire areas of tulip bulbs with straw to protect them from the frost over the winter months and to remove the straw again in spring. These are the kind of costs we do not have to cope with. Yet, we never get around to exploiting those potential markets.
We have the disease-free status which is very important. We also have a reputation that often we do not always deserve. Yesterday I was lecturing to 15 Danish students who are spending a couple of months in University College Cork. One of them asked me after the lecture why we are always talking about our green image and our freedom from pollution. I said: “Why do you ask that question?” He replied: “I came here thinking that Ireland was a very clean country and everywhere I go I see pollution: litter, abandoned cars and various other things. I do not think it is a pollution-free country.” He was right of  course but that is minor pollution compared to pollution from heavy industry. At the same time, it is not good enough. We have to raise our standards. We can, however, say with certainty that we have a better health status in plants and in animals than they enjoy on the Continent of Europe. That should give us an opportunity to exploit markets there but these markets are not going to come to us. We must do something about going to them. I welcome and support this Bill and I hope it will get a quick and easy passage through the House.
Mr. Hussey Mr. Hussey
Mr. Hussey: A few weeks ago we debated the importance of banning pesticides and sprays. Today we are taking the other end of the stick — the Destructive Insects and Pests (Amendment) Bill, 1990. In that debate we made certain recommendations, advised on the careful use of pesticides and sprays and at the wind-up of the debate the Minister announced he was withdrawing the sale of strychnine from the market. We were all very pleased with that because we felt we had taken a step forward.
I welcome this Bill which is an updating of the 1958 Act. The Minister has assured us that the 1958 Act is serving its purpose well. I believe it is because over the years the Government of the day have been able to act immediately and to take corrective action under the Act whenever we were threatened by an outbreak of disease. We are fortunate that we have not had many outbreaks with the exception of a few in glasshouse nurseries during the eighties. That problem was caused by tobacco whitefly which was successfully eradicated on both occasions. On a few occasions the Department officials had to intercept consignments of imported coniferous timber which had not been properly debarked and some of the consignments were refused entry and were returned. Like Senator Raftery, I would like to congratulate the officials on their vigilance because on their shoulders rests the responsibility for preserving the high health status for which we have become  renowned. It is very important that we preserve that at all times.
We are fortunate that because of our island situation we escape the migratory movements of many destructive insects and pests, which often create havoc for farmers and horticulturalists on mainland Europe and can destroy entire crops in a very short time. They do not respect national frontiers and can spread from one country to another very quickly. Over the years we have operated very strict controls on imports of plants and plant products. For a country so dependent on agriculture it is only right that this is so. The production of high quality vegetables, meat and other agri-related products is of immense importance to our entire economy. The agri-food business amounted to £3.3 billion, or 21.3 per cent of total exports in 1989, so we should make no apologies for protecting that business and for maintaining a good standard of plant health.
The Colorado Beetle which the Minister mentioned in his speech has always been a source of great worry to potato growers. Indeed, it is important that growers be vigilant and protect their crops and their livelihood from this pest. There is a specific provision in the 1958 Act covering this pest. In recent years, a huge number of garden centres have opened. This trend is very welcome because it shows that people have at least become aware of the importance of planting trees and shrubs. In doing so, they are beautifying the countryside. The gardens of new houses are now landscaped properly and some beautiful shrubs have been planted. This is a very welcome development and it creates valuable employment in the nursery business. I understand we have built up an export business in this area also and that is to be welcomed. I am sure Bord Glas will develop and improve this line of business over the years.
Organic farming is an aspect we can promote but it is not something that will make progress unless a far greater price is paid for such produce. It will take considerable organising to get farmers to go into this kind of business.
 Over the years we have spent money on TB eradication, trying to get rid of the disease from our national herd. Departmental officials have worked very hard to try to get on top of that disease. As regards control of foot and mouth disease they were always present at our ports and they made sure that dreadful disease was kept out of our country. The more recent BSE scare has hit our farming community. We must be very careful because of the very bad publicity our cattle and meat exports got last year. We must be vigilant at all times.
In yesterday's Evening Press there was a report stating that this year we were going to be invaded by daddy-long-legs, spiders and other creepy crawlies. I hope they do not do too much damage and that we will be able to take immediate action to minimise any damage caused.
I welcome the Bill. As I said, it consolidates the 1958 Act. Section 4, updates the provision in relation to fines. This is necessary because the fines provided for in the 1958 Act are now out of date. We now provide for fines on summary conviction up to a maximum of £1,000. It is only right that we would update them because fines of £10 or £20 are really out of date. I welcome the Bill and wish it a speedy passage through the House.
Professor Murphy Professor Murphy
Professor Murphy: I surprise myself by making contribution to this Bill which I would normally find a bit esoteric for my tastes but having received the Order of Business on Friday, I was reading the paper on Saturday — The Cork Examiner to the uninitiated — and it had a very interesting article headed: “Getting back to Nature for safe pest control”. I was wondering whether what was said here is a matter of interest to the Department and whether it was part of their policy in regard to insect control. It refers to research in UCC which concentrates on natural methods of pest control, and in the context of other debates we are all in favour of natural methods, are we not?
Biologists in UCC are investigating the feasibility of developing a particular kind of fish, the Goldsinny Wrasse, which  offers exciting potential for sea lice reduction. Even more interesting, is the use of the bat and owl population to control pests. The owl population, it appears, is under decline because much of its natural habitat is derelict — the dramatic reduction in the number of ruined houses and so on — and yet the owl has a legendary effectiveness against the control of mice and rats. In folklore the bat has a very poor image and people still persist with old wives tales about bats flying into your hair and so on, but it appears the bat is one of the best insect hunters in existence. The bottom line is that this would be a more natural way of controlling pests and insects. It is not suggested as an alternative but it is a supplementary method which would reduce the considerable amount of money we spend each year on pesticides. I recommend this article to the Minister. In fact, I wonder whether it comprises any part of departmental policy. It was in The Cork Examiner on 9 March 1991.
Mr. Dardis Mr. Dardis
Mr. Dardis: I join with other Members in welcoming this legislation, and I also welcome the Minister and his officials to the House this afternoon. I agree it is a very important matter from the point of view of agriculture, and the economy that we should make every effort through legislation and otherwise to protect the very good plant health status we have in the country. During the coming decade our ability to market our agricultural produce will depend very much on it being associated with coming from a clean environment which we can stand over and say that the produce which comes from Ireland is of the highest quality and can command a premium price. That must be one of the mechanisms in our defence against the assault on farm incomes from developments within the EC and through GATT.
I note what the Minister said in relation to the Colorado Beetle and I share those sentiments. It is one pest that causes much concern and I congratulate the officials in the Department and the advisers in Teagasc for their vigilance over many years in protecting the country  from such a devastating pest. I congratulate them also for their viligance at airports and ports. The officers concerned have been extremely effective in keeping out insects and pests which by their very nature are quite difficult to detect and keep out of the country.
I would be somewhat concerned about virus diseases. I realise it is impossible for the Minister to legislate to keep out viruses which may be airborne or carried in by animals or birds. There are several diseases which are potentially devastating and which have already appeared in Britain having come there from the Continent — rhizomania in beet is one in particular which has led to whole fields being ploughed up in East Anglia and they can never grow beet there again. The root of the beet is totally destroyed. It would be quite simple to import this through seed, for instance, which is grown in the south of France.
Secondhand machinery is often imported from the east of England. What guarantee have we that particles of soil and so on that could introduce very undesirable crop and animal diseases will not adhere to these machines? Several years ago, when the Irish ploughing team competed in the World Ploughing Championships in Austria, they had to go through very rigorous procedures in relation to how machinery was cleaned and presented before they were allowed into that country with their machinery. We must exercise the same vigilance.
There is another disease in cereals which has spread gradually westwards from mainland Europe, that is, barley yellow mosaic virus. That is very serious for cereal growers. Fortunately, some varieties have been developed which have resistance to that virus but, again, it underlines the need for us to be vigilant.
The classic example of all is rabies and how it can be stopped from spreading westwards. As Senator Raftery said, we are fortunate in being an island as that confers certain advantages, but it does not remove the need to ensure that the very valuable asset we have of being a country producing good food from a clean environment is protected.
 There are implications for us on the plant health side — I am sure the Minister is quite well aware of this — in relation to what is going to happen in 1992 and under the GATT. Plant health is part of the 1992 agenda and part of the GATT agenda. While we would welcome the movement towards the Single Market, it is very important that everything is adjusted upwards to the highest standard rather than downwards when it comes to animal and plant health. It is notable that we adopt a policy of eradication rather than containment in most of these matters but, quite frequently, it is a policy of containment on the Continent and that might not be to our advantage. I understand the point that countries cannot establish artificial barriers which will limit access but there are such profound national interests involved here that we are entitled to protect our plants and livestock. I realise livestock are not a part of this Bill although one could assume that pests are, in some ways, livestock.
We need to be aware of the importance which other countries attach to these matters. I do not know if the Minister has been to New Zealand. I know some of his departmental officials have. If you travel there with Air New Zealand when the plane doors are opened officers come in with aerosol sprays and spray up and down the plane in the knowledge that will kill all the pests on the plane. I doubt very much if it is effective in killing the pests but it creates an awareness of the importance of the matter. It is quite noticeable also in New Zealand that frequently, in addition to the normal controls exercised by emigration officers, agricultural officers are present and everybody must pass by them. I realise that the Department's officers do a very efficient job at the seaports and airports. People are made aware, when they enter the country, of the need to report to them but it depends to a degree on goodwill. I am not sure to what extent they can positively intervene but our visitors need to be made very well aware that this is an agricultural country, that we depend for a lot of our trade on the food which  we produce and that we are quite determined to protect our food from any possibility of taint through pests or disease.
The other point mentioned by Senator Raftery was in relation to Teagasc. I share some of the sentiments which he expressed. Teagasc have a fairly important role to play in this matter and they must be given the resources to exercise that role and their wider remit in terms of advice and so on. I welcome the extra money which has been made available to them this year but they are still in need of very substantial assistance. I want to see that service maintained and upgraded as part of the overall strategy to keep our disease-free status and to assist our farmers.
I have pleasure in welcoming the Bill. The Progressive Democrats wholeheartedly support it.
Dr. Upton Dr. Upton
Dr. Upton: I welcome the Bill. We are blessed with a very high standard of health in our plant and animal products. In relation to plants there are a number of reasons for this. First, as a number of Senators have already said, our location and the fact that we are an island has, undoubtedly, contributed very significantly to keeping a number of very important pests and diseases out of this country. The second reason is, to a large extent, due to the efforts and work of the various experts in agriculture in this country over the years.
We have a very fine tradition of agricultural expertise, particularly in this area, going back to the work of the late Professor McKay and the late Professor Loughnane. Some of these people were pioneers. Professor McKay wrote four or five books on plant pathology which was a major achievement in the forties. These books would be dated now but in those days it was a magnificent achievement. Similarly, there were experts on insects and so on, for example, the late Eugene McMahon, John Carroll and others, who were pioneers in their own way and made a tremendous contribution to agriculture which has not been fully appreciated. The  experts in the Department of Agriculture, in the research department of Teagasc and, indeed, the experts out in the fields, the Teagasc advisers, continue to play a vital role in ensuring that the health of our plant material is at a very high standard.
There is no doubt that we will face an increased risk of importing plant diseases and pests with the developments in trade. The more materials we import the greater the risk of importing undesirable pests and pathogens that attack plants. Trade will develop. The Channel Tunnel has been mentioned. We all look forward to increased tourist activity and so on, but we have to keep in mind that as the numbers of tourists who come to the country increase there is also, as it were, a certain amount of extra risk associated with them. We need to take precautions to ensure that does not lead to a proliferation of undesirable material.
I have expressed concern about the use of pesticides already. I repeat much of that concern today. The controls on the use of pesticides still leave a lot to be desired. There is no obligation on the people who use them to have any expertise nor is there an obligation on them to read the label or the instructions. That is a matter of concern and I would be interested to hear the Minister's response. I am also concerned about the health implications from the excessive use of these products. The reality is that the full health implications of persistent exposure to small amounts of pesticides are not understood. Some estimates from America suggest that as much as 1 per cent of cancers arise due to the use of pesticides. I know that one can argue these cases in a number of ways and from a number of different angles but, one way or the other, we should be very concerned about the use of pesticides because of the health implications.
We should also be concerned about maintaining our image as a producer of pure foods. The image which this country has in the European market as a producer of wholesome, clean, green products is a very valuable asset. It is vital that we  protect that reputation and guard it jealously. I agree with Senator Dardis when he said that our objective should be to have the highest possible standards and if there are changes in Europe they should be directed towards bringing European standards up to Irish standards rather than forcing us to reduce our standards. We should be persistent and dogged as regards protecting our standards and reputation. There is a tendency in Europe to move towards policies of containment of certain diseases. That is shortsighted and foolish and, as time goes by, the pure image of our food products will prove to be invaluable. We will be able to obtain a considerable premium for our products based on that. If we ensure that nothing happens to damage that image, we will be paid rich dividends in time to come.
I share some of the concern expressed by Senator Raftery when he spoke about the necessity for certification of organically produced produce. It is very important that the consumer be in no doubt that when he or she purchases what is labelled as organically produced produce that produce has met certain standards. I am concerned at the evidence he brought forward in relation to foods which are sold as health products which indicated that those products had higher levels of pesticides/herbicides residue in them than had food taken from the general food pool. That is a matter of great concern.
I welcome this very desirable measure and I hope it will go through the House without any problem.
Mr. McGowan Mr. McGowan
Mr. McGowan: I welcome the Minister, Deputy Kirk, and compliment him on introducing this important legislation which covers the health life of plants and the whole area of food production. I compliment the officials in the Department. The Department of Agriculture have served us well. If we go back to the time of the war years when there was foot and mouth disease, they were able to take protective measures at ports and airports. Down the years, whatever the strength of the Departmental staff, they always  had an interest in protecting us against the importation of insects and pests. The general public are aware of the Department's achievements down the years and it is important to recognise this.
As I said in relation to another debate, there is need for balance. A farmer looks for protection and those involved in horticulture look for protection. There are different views and approaches on the question of the control of rabbits, grey crows, pigeons, rats, mice, mink and seal. The minute we start talking about control there is nearly a revolt by a section of the people who believe it is right to maintain and protect some species. There is a conflict. Recently I wrote to a firm that manufactures breakfast cereals and I suggested to them that they were spending vast amounts of money on advertising. I would love to establish how they deal with vermin or pests and what chemicals they use. How can they convince the public that in the production of imported breakfast cereals or powdered soups harmful chemicals have not been used?
Massive resources are needed to protect our plants and animals. The protection afforded by another country was brought home to me when I disembarked from an aeroplane in Miami. I had one orange in my bag the officials at the airport took the orange and questioned me at length. I said it was a lot of fuss to make over one orange but the official said the economy of the state of Miami depended on oranges and it would be foolish of him to allow anything to be imported that would endanger the economy of his state. He was right. Even if the legislation is perfect, do the Minister and the Department have the necessary resources to protect us? Borders are disappearing and controls are disappearing. How can the general public be assured there is control and protection? We have a better chance of establishing controls and measures as far as our own food chain is concerned.
Overall, the Bill is welcome. I wish the Minister and his officials well and I hope he is successful. The community will be behind the introduction of this Bill and I wish it success.
Mrs. Doyle Mrs. Doyle
 Mrs. Doyle: I cannot resist suggesting that I have yet to find legislation that is perfect, even though I accept that in this area our record in protecting our animal and plant health status has been particularly good relative to other nations. I will go no further than that.
I support the Bill but, like many other speakers, it is the broader aspects I will speak about. I feel it was because of the importance of agriculture to our nation that we joined the EC in 1973. There were other considerations of course, such as being part of Europe geographically, but the implications for our agricultural sector and agri-business sector was a paramount consideration in opting for Europe and proceeding down that road and being a full and equal member of the Twelve which we are now. As an aside, the figure of 20 per cent or 21 per cent was given in relation to agricultural exports. Our net agricultural exports are nearer to 40 per cent when you consider the sourcing of the raw material. The point being made by all of us is that there is an enormous contribution made to this country, to our exports, to our GNP, by agriculture and the agri-business sector. I am extremely concerned about what I see as the levelling down of standards in the Single Market when it comes to animal and plant health status. There is a growing concern in the country among the agricultural scientific and veterinary sections generally about what the final decisions will be in this area.
Incidentally, the Minister is very welcome this afternoon. It is nice to see a Minister of State here in his own right, in control of his own brief with legislation and not just part of the rent-a-Minister syndrome that I am afraid pervades this House and which has done so through many governments over the years. When they cannot find the Minister, a Minister of State is shoved into the House. I once used the expression “wheeled in here with a script thrust into his hand” and some of my colleagues on the other side  of the House still remind me of that statement. The Minister is very welcome with this Bill that deals specifically with his own brief. I congratulate him on it because we have no difficulty with the specifics of the Bill this afternoon.
In his speech the Minister said: “At the present time the community is considering the plant health controls which will operate in the Internal Market after 1992.” It is now March 1991. We have until the end of 1992 to know what surprises, what bag of tricks the mysterious bodies in the Community have who are considering the plant health controls. You could add in the animal and plant health controls that will operate in the Internal Market after 1992. None of us can over-emphasise the importance of the outcome of these considerations and it is to that I would like to direct my few words this afternoon.
Who in the Community is doing the consideration? It is very important that the profound national interest, as one Senator referred to it, in relation to the Irish position is fully understood by those doing this consideration. The outcome of these negotiations and the final deal that will be made in relation to the animal and plant health controls that will operate in the Internal Market impact on every aspect of agriculture and the environment in this country. Why should we have to accept a levelling down of standards? Can we insist on the rest of the Community coming up to our standards in this area? It is little to ask for as a nation that joined the Community primarily because of what we had to contribute in the agricultural and agri-business arena.
The Department of Agriculture and Food and the officials have done an excellent job in protecting the health status of this island in terms of animal and plant health status in the past few decades. Are we to be asked now to abandon all the controls at our borders and ports? Whatever we accept and whatever we insist on in terms of standards in this area in post-1992 Europe, we should ask our colleagues in the northern part of this island to stand with us because it is as an island  we should treat this issue given the importance of island status in animal and plant health rather than just in relation to the Republic versus a UK situation. When we talk about animal and plant health status, it is in the context of an all-Ireland position and I am sure Members would accept that.
Is there any reason why we should accept a levelling down of standards? Is there not an extremely good case to be made for totally different treatment of Ireland, and perhaps also the United Kingdom — I will let them make their own case — to be used as a foundation stock island for the Community post-1992? With the best will in the world and with the strictest controls in the world there will be outbreaks of animal and plant diseases on mainland Europe, as there have been over the last decades, outbreaks of different diseases which, mercifully, we have escaped in the main. If there are epidemics of any kind on mainland Europe is there not a tremendous advantage in having a foundation stock in the Community that will be free of that particular disease? In other words, the very fact that we are the last island nation in the Community given the Channel Tunnel, could we not perform a major service to our EC colleagues by being treated as a foundation stock island in relation to animal and plant health generally?
That is the case I put this afternoon. It might not be completely in the spirit of the Internal Market, and I accept that is probably what the Minister will tell me, but as I understand it generally and from what the Minister said this afternoon, the matter is still under consideration. My plea is that our island nation status should get particular recognition not just because it will protect the animal and health status of this nation now but because we have a particular role we could play in the Europe of the future in the event of any major epidemic or disease in either the animal or plant health fields. I think we could offer a unique service to the European Community in this area and I would ask the Minister to pursue that line as strongly  and vigorously as possible. If we do not achieve that situation in terms of the final outcome of the considerations that are going on in this area at the moment, I am quite sure the Department of Agriculture and Food will find it very difficult to climb down and abandon the safeguards they have had in place for so many years.
I had occasion in the past few years to draw up a policy on pig production and in researching it I was looking at the whole area of increasing our breeding stock in relation to pigs. There is one area that fascinated me and that is that the corona positive pigs were not allowed to be imported into this country because we were corona free in Ireland. The corona virus in pigs equates to the common cold, nothing more and nothing less, it is not a big deal. It can be specifically tested for now which it could not in the past. I think it was confused with an enteritis or a similar disease. You could not specifically isolate corona positive from other problems in pigs. Now you can and that has been possible for some time, but there is still a ban on importing pigs even from the UK if they are corona positive. From 1 January 1993 all the corona positive pigs in the world can land on our shores and, to my understanding, I do not think the Department of Agriculture and Food will be able to do a thing about it given the road we are travelling on and the changes in controls that appear to be on the horizon in this area. That is only one example.
At the moment if you travel either to the UK or to the Continent with animals in a lorry be they cattle or horses or whatever, you cannot bring them back into the country with hay or straw on the lorry, with bedding on the floor of the lorry or any hay in the lorry. Obviously there are good reasons for that in protecting the plant health status of our country and I can understand that fully but all the controls in that area will be abandoned on 1 January 1993. I am talking about areas that would not even be headline grabbing. I am not talking about major diseases that really capture the media. These controls which are in  place now for very good reason apparently will have to be abandoned because we have accepted blindly the fate of the Internal Market in relation to the animal and health plant status of our island.
I question severely the road we appear to be travelling. I know there are hundreds in this country like me who wonder if we will wake up some morning exposing the health of our animals and plants to all sorts of unacceptable risks. I think I borrowed that expression from the Minister's speech. He said “We are striving to ensure that any changes in procedure will not leave us open to unacceptable risks.” We are with the Minister fully on that; any risk that reduces our standards is unacceptable. If the Minister agrees with that and puts it on the record today we will take tremendous comfort from the outcome of the negotiation that are going on in the Community in this area.
There are many other areas where problems have raised their head through different sectors of agriculture. Apparently it must be the same committee, or it is the same procedure, that is considering the plant health status of the Community post-1992 who are also looking at the veterinary status and the veterinary implications for the Internal Market.
In relation to horse production, EVA and CEM will not be notifiable diseases, if I am using the correct expression and I am subject to correction on that. They will not be among the diseases where we can prohibit importation. Again, that is a lowering of standards. There will be voluntary treaties and voluntary agreements entered into in relation to some of these diseases. Perhaps that is the avenue we could travel in relation to plant health as well. I know in relation to animal health that voluntary tripartite arrangements are being entered into. In fact, five nations are coming together to protect horse production. They were not able to get the relevant committees in the Community to accept their concerns in relation to certain diseases so they are entering into a voluntary code of practice, or a voluntary agreement, to protect production in the countries in question.
 Will we look to this whole procedure of voluntary codes of practice to protect our island nation? I would like the Minister to point out to us in his reply who is considering the plant and health controls, what structures are they being considered through and who in our Department and in our Government generally has an input into those considerations and the line of the Government on the matter. I would like the Minister to tell the House the line of the Government in relation to the negotiations and considerations that are going on in this area at the moment. Are they taking a very strong line in not leaving us open to any unacceptable risks? Does the Minister consider a reduction in standards from the present level to be an unacceptable risk? Will he be pursuing a particular treatment for Ireland to become the foundation stock island of Europe in the event of outbreaks of diseases and, can he pursue that line with conviction, given our health status?
An interesting point was made by Senator Dardis when he referred to programmes of containment rather than eradication in many areas. The one blot in our copybook and the one area where we can be held to have failed in this country is in the eradication of bovine TB. We have managed to come to terms with most of the other diseases. We have managed to put in place controls at our borders and ports; generally speaking, thank God, we have been foot and mouth disease free and more or less free of Newcastle's disease. One could pick any disease across the whole range and see we have managed to contain or control it. However, for some reason, and we all understand the reason, bovine TB has defeated the best efforts of the Department of Agriculture and Food and I have to confess to date even the ERAD Board, I would think, would admit to making slower progress than they thought when they started off with the media headlines and the flurry of excitement when the Minister, Deputy O'Kennedy, set it up and threw millions of pounds at it. Despite the money the Government are spending on it and, despite the increased levies the farmers are contributing right  across the board towards it, I wonder what progress we are making?
We can only wish them progress and success in an area that has defeated the best efforts of very good Ministers over the years. It is one huge blot on our copy book when it comes to holding ourselves out to the rest of Europe as an example of animal and plant health status and management of these problems generally. The whole area of animal and phytosanitary control concernes me and I think we will have other occasions on which to debate it if the Minister cannot give us assurances now with regard to the way we will be treated. Perhaps the Minister will come back to us when discussions are under way, or at a more final stage, to indicate how Ireland will be treated in the Internal Market in this regard.
I would like to turn briefly to another aspect, namely, the whole area of research. When it comes to insect and pest control research, the priority we give to research in this country leaves a lot to be desired. I am afraid the present Minister must stand indicated for the way Teagasc have decimated the research section of that body. Research and investment in modern technology will depend on the result of the investment today, in the past couple of years and the next few years. We have managed to halt most research programmes that were in the planning process, that were in the pipeline. There is a lead-in to all research programmes.
Unless we feel we are going to piggyback on the research of other nations, much of which may not be applicable to the conditions in this country, I do not know how the farmers and food producers today are going to get the service they deserve from the Department of Agriculture and Food in the years to come. By decimating the research programme and by Teagasc decimating their research section we are failing other farmers and food producers of the future. The years will slip by and by chopping off programmes, by choking them financially, the effect is not immediate. This Government may have come and gone  but someone else will be picking up the results of the appalling decisions that have recently been made to axe research programmes.
I think it was Senator Murphy who talked about natural pest control. Unless we know what we are doing, we cannot advocate natural pest control. We cannot even advocate to the farmers of the future the levels of pesticides and insecticides they should use. We cannot determine the effect on the environment of the over-use of pesticides and insecticides. We cannot determine the effect on human health of the over-use of pesticides and insecticides. We cannot determine the effective withdrawal date or how long before slaughter or harvest the product can be used after being sprayed with the pesticide or insecticide. If we fail in this whole area of research we are failing the next generation of farmers and indeed the next generation of people in our country who will depend on food production by our farmers and indeed imported foods as well, and who expect the Government to be able to guarantee safety in these areas. We fail them by axing the research programme now and I am afraid this Government will stand indicted.
The economic unit in Teagasc has been totally abolished. One of the roles of the economic unit was to interpret for the nation the implications of different legislation and regulations and orders and directives, etc. coming from Europe and how they would pertain to agriculture, agri-business and food production. We have decimated the economic unit. We have reduced research to a point at which most programmes are not viable but have completely obliterated the economic unit in Teagasc. Again, perhaps, we are not getting the best advice and the best interpretation of the implications of certain regulations and directives in relation to the Internal Market. Can we be sure in regard to the considerations the Minister referred to in relation to phytosanitary and plant health controls generally that the implications for this country are being interpreted as they should?
I welcome the Bill. It is worthwhile  and it deals with a very specific area. The broader canvas must be how we are going to treat this island nation of ours with its high animal and plant health status in the Europe of the Internal Market and whether we can make a case to become the foundation stock island for Europe and provide a particular service to our other European colleagues. That is my plea to the Minister this afternoon and I would dearly love to know his views, the views of the senior Minister and the Government's views as to how they will proceed in this most important area.
Mr. R. Kiely Mr. R. Kiely
Mr. R. Kiely: I welcome the Minister to the House. As previous speakers said, he is a frequent visitor here and he is most welcome. This is a short Bill but that does not take away from its importance. Disease control and disease prevention in all forms in humans, livestock and crops must be taken seriously. This Bill could be called a technical Bill. It does not set out any new principles. The principles of control in the 1958 Act, which we are proposing to amend, are sound. These principles are that we do all we can to keep diseases from entering the country. If one is unfortunate enough to have an outbreak of a disease, proper measures on how to deal with it are contained in the Bill. The Bill updates the fines which may be imposed by a court for an offence which is proved in court. That is as it should be. People laughed at conventions that result in the maximum fine of £20 being imposed. That fine would have been all right in 1958 or previous years, but it is not a deterrent or a proper fine nowadays. The Bill proposes to increase the maximum fine to £1,000 or three months imprisonment. I am sure that the court, when dealing with offenders, will take into account the circumstances of the offence.
I agree fully with the Minister's wish that there should be a better attitude to disease prevention by people whose business is badly affected by disease. In my country many people depend on the poultry industry. In west Limerick there  are two major poultry processing factories, one in Kantoher and one in Castlemahon. Castlemahon chicken and Kantoher chicken are for sale in every part of the country. They also export their produce. Once there is an outbreak of disease tremors go through the industry because most producers have massive borrowings and they could be left in bad financial circumstances. As I have already said, they export a substantial amount of their produce and provide great employment. In the areas I speak of vast employment is provided by the growers and in the processing of poultry in the factories. Therefore the curtailment of any disease is important.
Difficulties arose recently in the poultry sector but the Department of Agriculture and Food were able to confine the outbreak not only to one area but to the one building. They have now lifted all restrictions. Sometimes public representatives and others can be quick to criticise public officials but we have to recognise that they have been very effective in dealing with every outbreak of disease down through the years. We should pay tribute to them for this. At times we may not be satisfied with the way in which they deal with these outbreaks. They may take short cuts, but they have proved successful at the end of the day. I would like to pay tribute to them for the way in which they have dealt with these outbreaks and in particular the most recent outbreaks.
Farmers are worried about falling incomes and the outcome of the GATT negotiations. Hopefully their fears are exaggerated. Many people tend to forget that our agriculture sector is in a good, healthy state. That is because we are an island nation and we are in a better position than most to retain our disease-free status in many areas. I am not saying that our status in relation to disease is perfect. It never will be until TB is completely eradicated.
A more informed and responsible attitude should be adopted by all people involved in the scheme. For that reason, I support the Minister's appeal to farming organisations to actively promote among  their members the measures necessary to clear up various forms of disease. I am sure many farmers and others involved in the areas of eliminating TB are not responsible. As was said by previous speakers, it has been with us a long time and progress has been slow. All concerned must co-operate to ensure its complete eradication.
It is important that proper hygiene standards are maintained by those working in this area, especially in the poultry and beef processing industries. It has been proved by the more progressive growers and producers that if high hygiene standards are maintained the better returns a producer will get. Even in difficult times, for example, when the exchange rate between the punt and sterling was bad, producers who maintained high hygiene standards were able to weather the storm without any difficulty.
Fines under the Act are out-of-date. The problem with many of the cases which come before the District Court is not the maximum fine which may be imposed, the jail term or whatever, but the attitude of the courts. Someone who is not adhering to the regulations is brought to court only to have a low fine imposed on him. These fines may have been satisfactory 40 or 50 years ago, but they are certainly not satisfactory today, when so much depends on hygiene in agriculture production, processing and so on. If someone in the agriculture sector is careless, it can have a devastating effect on many people not alone those involved in the agricultural industry but those who are depending on the agricultural industry for employment, for food, etc. The Minister referred to risks. In 1992 and subsequently we will be striving to ensure, and I quote from the Minister's speech, “that any changes in procedures will not leave us open to unacceptable risks”. Senator Doyle need have no fears or concerns because I am sure the Minister and the Department will take the necessary precautions to ensure that there will be no unacceptable risks.
Mr. S. Byrne Mr. S. Byrne
Mr. S. Byrne: I welcome this Bill. It is important that it be brought in because  we have an opportunity now of preserving the great record we have in our exports of trees and shrubs. I hope the regulations will be strong enough to prevent diseases and insects of various kinds coming into our horticulture and agriculture areas.
In regard to destructive insects and pests, we have gone raving mad here over the past 20 years. I agree with Senator Doyle that in the past 20 years the agriculture industry has been snowed under with dumped chemicals and sprays. The Department of Agriculture did not seem to give any thought to what effect they would have on the human being, on the soil, or on animals. Take, for example, DDT. This was used nearly like butter a few years ago. We were about ten years behind the United States which had banned the use of it when it was found to be the most dangerous cancer forming agent that could be used on the farm. I believe it is still being sold here. That is how loose the system is here and that is only one example. Corn sprays and beet sprays are being dumped here without any research carried out to find out the effects of the end product on the human being. More will have to be done in the future. Have we to wait, as we had in the case of DDT, for about 25 years, until the harm is done?
I agree with Senator Doyle, that over the past 20 years the whole farming and horticultural scene has been left wide open to ruthless people who distribute those goods at enormous profit. Those goods have been rejected by some countries, yet we accept them. It takes us about ten years to wake up and introduce proper controls. This happened in the case of DDT and I am sure it is happening in other areas as well. I hope the Minister, who is from rural Ireland, has taken action to ensure that will not happen in the future. The whole food chain has been poisoned by all types of sprays and God knows what effect they are having on humans. They are affecting the balance of nature because certain pests are necessary. Certain types of sprays kill all insect and snail life in the soil and do long term damage.
 I appeal to the Minister to ensure that the indiscriminate use of sprays and chemicals wll cease. Nature has its own way of dealing with things and the killing of many types of insects only leads to other problems later. We should be concerned about insects which come here in foreign containers.
I welcome the Bill and hope it will protect both our horticultural and agricultural industries. I appeal to the Minister to take on board the point made by Senator Doyle and myself about drugs or chemicals used in the dairy, agriculture or horticulture area. It has been said that if you turn off the kitchen light your head of cabbage will glow and you will not need a bulb in the light.
A few years ago a lady, who had bought some imported vegetables, asked me where she could have them tested. I spent about half an hour on the telephone going from Billy to Jack in the Department of Agriculture and Food. In the end, I had to tell her I did not know who was responsible. That area should be tidied up. There should be spot checks on imported products and also on home produced goods to ensure that they are safe for human consumption.
In the beef industry irresponsible people are using angel dust, and so on, and those people must be brought to heel. People's health must be seen to be protected and we must not give way to people who want to make a fast buck over a short period, regardless of people's health. Perhaps I have gone slightly off course in saying that, but it is an important point. If we are concerned about insects coming in here we should also be concerned about the insects at home and the unnecessary destruction of some of them, including snails. They have a very important role to play. We have the best land in the world if it were used properly and in the years ahead we do not want it impaired in any way by the type of haphazard, indiscriminate use of drugs, chemicals and sprays which has gone on for 20 years. Nobody will cry halt until a medical doctor proves that they are harmful to humans. We are doing nothing  in that area for a country that produces so much food both for export and home consumption. We should be doing more to ensure that the people who are trying to make soft money and become rich overnight will not get away with it in the future.
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Kirk) Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Kirk)
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture and Food (Mr. Kirk): I thank Members for their contributions on this Bill. While, naturally, on Second Stage the subject will afford licence, as it were, to move into fields perhaps removed from the actual field we were talking about, nonetheless, it all adds up to a worthwhile discussion on the whole area. I will endeavour as briefly as I can, as we are hoping to take all Stages today, to deal with a number of points raised as the discussion proceeded.
Senator Raftery mentioned the question of the high level of residue in foods in Great Britain. The legislation we are dealing with today is not particularly about food residues but about necessary amendments to the 1958 legislation. He also referred to organically produced food. At the moment, the Community is at an advanced stage in the preparation of regulations to cover this area which will provide the wherewithal to allow us to introduce a system of certification. In the interim, IOFGA, the Irish Organic Farmers and Growers' Association, hold an examination and provide a symbol to their growers which identifies organically produced products. From the point of view of having statutory arrangements, we will have to await the completion of the Community regulation on the subject. I agree with the sentiments expressed by Senator Raftery. There is a clear and obvious need to have control and an adequate system of certification.
On the question of the hardy nursery stock, Bord Glas, the State body with responsibility in this area, have clearly identified the hardy nursery stock as an area with considerable potential for development. The possibility of developing further exports to Britain is being actively pursued both by the board, Córas Tráchtála and prominent growers in the  hardy nursery stock sector. The development of exports to the UK is not, as it were, the confinement of their effort. The possibility, for instance, of developing an export market for Christmas trees to Germany is being actively pursued. It would appear that there is a significant market potential in that part of the world. However, there is nothing instant about the growing of Christmas trees. There is a lead-in period where the obvious capital investment has to be made in the particular project before the product is available for sale. There is at least one or, perhaps, two people pursuing that possibility on a commercial basis, which I am glad to see. Naturally, we expect that Bord Glas will afford whatever assistance they can to anybody pursuing that matter.
The question of the maximum fine is one of the principal considerations in the Bill. The level of fines under the 1958 Act is completely inadequate but there is now a provision for a maximum fine of £1,000. The Attorney General advises that this is about as high as it should be for a summary conviction in the District Court. Senators will have gleaned from Second Stage that there is also provision for prison sentences of up to three months or, indeed, a combination of both.
I thank Senator Murphy for his news item in The Cork Examiner last Saturday. It is an area we are actively pursuing at present. There is an organic unit in the Department of Agriculture and Food and in the budgets of the last two years there was a provision of £450,000 to further the work in that area. Naturally the whole area of the research and development of suitable production techniques for organic growing will need to be a priority and any research work, no matter who is carrying it out, whether it is in UCC or wherever, is to be welcomed. It reflects the growing interest there is in Getting Back to Nature through safe pest control and we will be inquiring further about the project in question.
Senator Dardis mentioned the problem of rhizomania, a disease which affects sugar beet. We have had no cases of it here but we have a controlling order in  place since last year to deal with any possible problem that might arise. Also, we require that all secondhand machinery must be washed free of soil before it is imported, as part of the controls.
Senators referred to Community legislation on plant health and the draft regulations which will apply after 1992. They are at present being considered in Brussels by the various experts representing member states. Naturally the thrust of the argument from our point of view will be for a general raising of standards within the Community to match our high health status which is principally as a result of our island location. That advantage will continue to be available to us and will obviously be very worthwhile in the longer term.
Senator Doyle made a number of points. The plant health regime to be put in place post-1992 is at present being considered at Commission level and the working party on agricultural questions is actively applying its mind to it at the present time. I cannot anticipate what the outcome will be or when we will have an outcome but it will probably be some time in 1992. These groups are made up from expert officials from the respective member states in the Community and, of course, our experts are drawn from the Department of Agriculture and Food and the Forestry Service.
In a general reference to the position with regard to the economic unit in Teagasc, it is fair to say that the various implications under the sphere of economic matters for the agricultural industry will be dealt with by the Department of Agriculture and Food. There is, of course, provision for consultation with the State agencies, Teagasc and the various farming organisations and they will be kept informed of progress under the GATT heading or whatever. The primary function of the economic unit in the Department of Agriculture and Food will be to examine, recommend and suggest the best approach in this area.
On the question of our island location we are endeavouring to have an isolated zone status established as part of the  negotiations, particularly in regard to forestry, potatoes and nursery stock. We have clear advantages over other member states on mainland Europe and I hope that this advantage, because of our location, can be of benefit to us both in the short term and in the long term. Indeed, we have a request for the designation of Ireland as a high grade seed area for our seed potatoes. As you can imagine, in the general area for which the Office of Horticulture have responsibility, potatoes are by far the major consideration. If the annual output from that industry is worth approximately £50 million naturally it is an area on which we will focus. I hope that in the long term our natural advantages due to our location will be of benefit to us in the development of the seed potato sector. That area, for one reason or another, has lagged behind and has impacted on the ware sector. Senators can be assured that is being addressed at present by Bord Glas, the Office of Horticulture and Teagasc and we will endeavour to gain any advantage we can as part of the negotiations in that regard.
I thank the Members for their fine contribution to this legislation. It is quite restrictive. As I said earlier, the discussion drifted somewhat around the general subject but that is understandable in the circumstances.
Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Bill put through Committee, reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.
Acting Chairman (Mr. Fitzgerald) Acting Chairman (Mr. Fitzgerald)
Acting Chairman (Mr. Fitzgerald): I ask the Leader of the House to propose that the sitting be suspended until 6.30 p.m.
Mr. Fallon Mr. Fallon
Mr. Fallon: I so propose.
Professor Murphy Professor Murphy
 Professor Murphy: It is very poor management of the Seanad's time that we should now be adjourning for two hours.
Acting Chairman Acting Chairman
Acting Chairman: Things do not work out always as they should.
Mrs. Doyle Mrs. Doyle
Mrs. Doyle: As a matter of principle, we should have back-up legislation. We will be in a lather Friday trying to get urgent legislation through and, as Senator Murphy said, we have a couple of hours now and generally we should have work to do. We should always have back-up legislation so that our time is used more constructively.
Acting Chairman Acting Chairman
Acting Chairman: The Senator knows the rules of the House. We cannot bring legislation or Bills forward because there may be people anxious to speak on the next Bill and if we brought the debate forward they would miss it.
Sitting suspended at 4.55 p.m. and resumed at 6.30 p.m.
Seanad Éireann 128 Destructive Insects and Pests (Amendment) Bill, 1990: Second and Subsequent Stages.