Seanad Éireann - Volume 140 - 29 June, 1994
Irish Horseracing Industry Bill, 1994: Second Stage.
Question proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh) Joe Walsh
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): I am pleased to be in the Seanad for the Irish Horseracing Industry Bill, 1994, which is important and, indeed, critical to the industry of horse breeding and racing. The time and effort put into this Bill by the Government and I and all the constituent parts of the industry is indicative of its importance. It is also indicative of the level of commitment to Irish racing and a recognition of the success and potential of the sector.
 We have only to look at other sports to see that when, as a nation, we become committed to something and work together supporting it we can overcome obstacles and compete with the best on the world stage. On that note I would like to express my congratulations on the performance of the Irish team, the management and the fans.
It is the international reputation we have always had for our thoroughbred horse breeding and racing that gives me the confidence to predict a bright future for this industry. However, our international reputation, no matter how good, will quickly fade if we do not work continuously at maintaining it. That means continuing to produce a good quality racing horse and maintaining a well organised, strong racing industry.
The home industry will provide training and experience for the horses, entertainment of the highest quality for the Irish public and the tourist, betting opportunities for the punter and employment for about 25,000 people. It helps a lot in maintaining a lively interest in a sport which contributes substantially to Exchequer revenues from taxes on off-course betting and provides a shop window for our exports of Irish thoroughbreds which are valued at about £50 million annually.
We have a long and well established tradition in breeding thoroughbred horses for racing or export and they contribute substantially to the economy all over the country as there are a number of small breeders scattered throughout the country. We can also be proud of the organisation and structure of our racing industry which are already at a level of development which surpass many of our counterparts abroad.
Latest figures for output of the horse industry indicate an annual value of over £60 million. In 1993, for example, there were over 226 race fixtures held at 26 racecourses which were attended by over one million people. Total betting turnover at these fixtures exceeded £89 million yielding between £3 million and £4 million in revenue to the industry. Off-course betting turnover reached £350  million which brought in revenue to the Exchequer of £35 million. These are substantial figures but they can be substantially improved. I anticipate that under the provisions of this Bill facilities will be put in place to increase the turnover in betting on-course and off-course and improve the entertainment value of the new facilities.
In New South Wales in Australia, for example, which has a population of 6 million — which is not that much greater than that of the island of Ireland — the total betting by bookies is over £1 billion annually. One can imagine if we could scale up our betting and our facilities the amount of money that would be available for reinvestment for the development of the industry and the additional moneys for the Exchequer.
We must recognise that despite its relative strength this industry has not escaped the recession which has hit the sector worldwide in recent years. The position of the race horse owner has become particularly critical. The costs associated with keeping a horse in training have increased more rapidly than prize money. This in turn has caused problems for some trainers who are finding it increasingly difficult to retain their patrons or to find new ones.
On-course betting turnover, which generates the main source of income for the Racing Board, has been in decline in recent years. Bookmaker on-course betting turnover fell from £104 million in 1990 to just over £70 million last year with a resultant decline in levy income from £5.2 million to £3.5 million over that period. As a consequence, the level of funds available to the industry as a whole has been contracting and there have been insufficient moneys available for development of racecourse facilities. This is most unfortunate at a time when horse racing has to compete with an ever growing list of leisure activities. Despite these difficulties the industry remains important and recent international trends suggest that the time is ripe to embark on a new development stage in this industry.
 Unless the facilities available at racecourses are continually improved there is a danger that the industry could get caught in a downward spiral of falling attendances, lower levels of betting and consequent reductions in income accruing to the racing industry with falling levels of prize money and little or no money available for capital development.
The situation would have been much worse but for the action taken by the Government to introduce a grant-in-aid for the Racing Board in 1989 and since then £13 million has been put into the industry by the taxpayers. Of this figure £7.5 million was used to supplement prize money at the lower levels and about £4 million to develop racecourse facilities. The balance was allocated to promotion and advertising of the sport, marketing of horses and the provision of infra-structural services. With regard to the marketing and promotion of horses I want to pay tribute to the Irish thoroughbred marketing group which has done a brilliant job in its area of activity.
These measures have brought about a significant degree of improvement. I think most people in the industry would agree that with an improved organisational structure and greater resources the horseracing industry has considerable potential for growth leading to increased income for the economy generally and, in particular, to additional employment in the sector. The racing industry is a labour intensive one and expansion is directly reflected in higher employment. A figure of 25,000 earning a livelihood from a sector of the industry in Ireland is important.
Apart from the worldwide recession which the industry has experienced in recent years, the problems of the industry in Ireland can be traced to a shortage of funds and the lack of a coherent approach to its development. Having two separate bodies was not of any help. I do not want to be critical of the governing bodies — the Turf Club and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase Committee — which have done valuable work in administering Irish racing for over two centuries. Their guardianship of the rules of racing and  of its integrity is recognised domestically and internationally as being first class.
Since its establishment in 1945 the Racing Board for its part has performed an excellent role in the financing and development of the industry within the terms of its remit. All of those who accepted appointment to the Racing Board and the members of the governing bodies served in a voluntary capacity and all are entitled to our thanks for their valuable contributions.
None of that takes from the fact that, in the present circumstances, the absence of a single body to provide the focus for direction and funding is a serious impediment to its development. That is why we are now proposing in this legislation the establishment of a new horseracing authority to provide that focus for the future. The new Bill, as well as proposing a new organisational structure, will provide a comprehensive legislative framework for the industry. We are providing in this legislation for the development of the industry well into the next century.
Our guiding principle and our only motivation in all of this is to put in place arrangements and legislation that will enable the industry to realise its full potential. I am glad to be able to point out that it was the industry itself that recognised the difficulties it was facing and it was its decision to do something about it that eventually lead to my proposals for the restructuring of the industry which I announced in October 1992; I am referring to the joint working group set up by the Racing Board and the governing bodies in 1991 under the chairmanship of Dr. Paddy Moriarty. That group examined the key areas in the industry which most needed to be addressed. A large degree of consensus was reached at that time on what needed to be done.
I subsequently established another committee with wider industry representation which was chaired by Michael Dowling, Secretary of my Department. The valuable work done by the Moriarity Committee formed a basis for the work of the Dowling Committee. This committee  reached agreement on the outline of a draft Bill to establish the new structure. Some changes to that agreement became necessary in the course of the formal drafting process to conform with legal requirements and to ensure that the precise meaning of all its provisions could be clearly understood. During this process, and indeed after the Bill was published, I continued to receive further representations from various interests in the industry on various aspects. I accepted some of the points made and put forward some amendments on Committee Stage in the Dáil to accommodate those concerns, which I felt were legitimate. On Report Stage, I also accepted the broad thrust of some amendments which were put forward by Opposition Deputies on Committee Stage. The result of this is the Bill now before the House. It is now in a form which is generally acceptable to the industry and its various provisions represent a good balance for the overall industry.
I was anxious from the outset that the Authority should be a representative one covering all the main sectors in the industry. I recently announced that the Government had decided on the 16 people to be invited to act as members of the new Authority. I have asked those selected to act in an interim capacity, pending the finalisation of this legislation and the making of an order formally establishing the new Authority. I felt that this was desirable so that preliminary arrangements on structures, staffing and other matters could be put in place as soon as possible. It is essential that this job be done carefully and well and that the time and energies of the new Authority be devoted almost exclusively to it for the immediate future. I will, therefore, after the enactment of this Bill, postpone for some time the signing of the commencement order of the Authority to give it the opportunity to complete this work. In the meantime the Racing Board will continue with the necessary day-to-day business of the industry.
The question of the membership of the new Authority was repeatedly raised in the Dáil. We need the number proposed  to create sufficient balance on the Authority. What is important first is the quality of the membership. We have put in place a high quality Authority well capable of giving a strong lead to the industry. The second important element is how the Authority works. It is critical that members see themselves not primarily as sectoral representatives, but as a board of directors for the industry. They must work cohesively to promote and develop the industry as a whole.
This is a major national task and I am confident the Authority we have put in place is capable of undertaking it. We intend to let it get on with the job without interference. It represents the industry and it will be its responsibility to work out and implement what is best for its overall development. We will, of course, give all the assistance necessary to ensure that it can work effectively.
The new Authority has an important role to play in ensuring the Irish horseracing industry is developed to its full potential and that it will lead to the further development of the industry, which will continue to enhance our international reputation of having a high standard and ensure our horseracing and breeding industry is in the first division of that industry worldwide. Having got broad consensus on how we should develop this legislation to secure the future of the industry and appointed a broadly representative board, it is essential that sectoral, petty and narrow interests be put aside and that the new Authority will work in a coherent way to serve the industry well and in the best interests of those working in it. I should say at this point that I was conscious in proposing the new structure of the necessity of preserving the strengths of the present regime. In particular, I was careful to provide for the independence of the governing bodies as the institution responsible for the rules of racing and the integrity services. It is also important to ensure the efficient administration provided by the registry office would continue to be available to the industry.
The governing bodies have, as the Members know, successfully administered  Irish racing for over 200 years. Without their contribution racing could not have developed. The two bodies have carried out their functions professionally and have regulated racing with impartiality. They have also invested their own funds, which they earned outside their formal role in the sector, back into the industry for the benefit of all when such investment was badly needed. Irish racing certainly would not have flourished but for the major contributions of the governing bodies over the last two centuries.
It is for these reasons that I propose to give legislative backing to those functions of the bodies which all sections of the industry agree they should continue to perform. Section 39 of the Bill, for example, provides for their continued regulation of horse racing, the making and enforcement of the rules of racing and the provision of the integrity services. They have, of course, also been given formal and substantive recognition by being given the right to nominate three stewards directly onto the Authority. A fourth member will be representative of National Hunt interests and will be appointed on the nomination of the racing regulatory body. The Turf Club and National Hunt steeplechase committee will be the new racing regulatory authority.
There are other provisions in Part 3 of the Bill giving the racing regulatory body the statutory right to make charges for its services and guaranteeing to it the costs of its integrity services. I am satisfied the position of the governing bodies is given fair treatment in this Bill and is in fact being strengthened by the new legislation. They have a major role to play in the new structure. Therefore, it is correct they should get statutory recognition. I would like to make it clear that any activities of the racing regulatory body or of its constituent bodies other than those outlined in the Bill are not affected by this legislation.
A major issue for the industry is its financing. Apart from the need for a new Authority to rationalise the way in which the industry was organised, it has suffered  badly in modern times from a lack of adequate financial resources. As I have already mentioned, the Government has provided over £13 million to the industry through the Racing Board over the past four years in recognition of this shortage of funds. I have repeatedly stressed the Government's long term commitment on this question.
I now want to place this matter in a broader context. When formally established, the new Authority will, of course, have to set about devising strategies for the development and promotion of the industry on a multiannual basis. This will involve virtually all the Authority's functions. It also requires a substantial degree of financial certainty. To facilitate the Authority in this regard, I can confirm that it may plan for the future on the basis that the Exchequer contribution will be maintained at current levels. I must emphasise that the contribution is considerable; this year it stands at £6.6 million. I also put £1 million into the old Racing Board and gave a substantial contribution to the Irish thoroughbred marketing organisation. With regard to horseracing in other jurisdictions, this compares favourably with the contribution made by our taxpayers, is reasonable and adequately recognises the importance and potential of the industry.
It is, of course, essential that the industry itself strengthens its financial base by increasing its revenue from other sources. There is no point in squeezing the taxpayer for additional money if the industry itself does nothing. An additional effort will have to be made to raise money for reinvestment if the industry is not producing the goods and earning adequate revenue.
The Authority's promotional role is relevant in this regard. It must look at how revenue from other sources can be tapped, especially through the development of new sources of betting revenue. An efficient tote system, for example, is required. It will generate real revenue for reinvestment in the industry. I have already given an example of one racing area in New South Wales and there are  many others. Some will say these areas have much larger populations, but a greater effort will have to be made. I expect the new Authority to make a greater effort to substantially raise its own revenue. If extending tote operations to off-course locations would be of help, we are prepared to facilitate this through an appropriate adjustment of the licence.
Finally, I must emphasise that the new Authority, which is a commercial State company, is principally a promotional and development body rather than a trading one. In recognition of the fact that any surplus it makes will be reinvested to promote and develop the industry, the Government is prepared to consider conferring tax exemption status on the Authority in the new Finance Act. This gives an incentive. Rather than having some of this money raised being siphoned off by the Revenue Commissioners, it will be available for reinvestment in the industry. It is a sufficient incentive for the new Authority to proceed to rationalise its activities at an early date and seek new sources of income.
The new legislation opens up opportunities to increase the overall level of betting turnover and levy revenue which were not available under the old Racing Board regime. I hope these opportunities will be grasped by the Authority in a way that will see revenue from this source greatly increased to the benefit of the industry as a whole. In this regard I refer the House to section 54 of the Bill, which allows the Authority to apply a levy on all bets placed at a racecourse on horse races or any other events taking place elsewhere. Heretofore these were regarded as off-course bets and were liable to the 10 per cent off-course betting tax.
The Finance Act, 1994 includes provision under section 89 to remove the 10 per cent tax on such bets. In the Bill before the House the Authority is required to apply a rate of levy on those bets equivalent to the rate of tax applying to similar bets placed on the high street, which at present is 10 per cent. The result will be that the revenue from levies on  all bets placed at racecourses will go to the Authority for the benefit of the horse racing industry. While the amount of betting at racecourses on off-course events is estimated to be quite small at present, under the new legislation there will be an incentive for the new Authority to develop this source of revenue and at the same time to encourage increased attendances at race meetings.
Another new source of revenue for the industry is provided for in section 12 of the Bill, which empowers the Authority to make charges in respect of the carrying out of any of its functions or the provision of any of its services. Under section 43 the Authority may require the racing regulatory body to collect fees, levies or charges on behalf of the Authority. This is a new and flexible possible source of funding. Charges could be set, amended or removed without the need to put elaborate arrangements in place. It would in particular allow the Authority a greater flexibility in ensuring a fair and equitable distribution of the burden of the industry's costs.
The Bill also provides for a range of new controls in key areas. Section 26 provides that the Authority must approve the amount and form of prize money offered in respect of all races. This is not unreasonable, given that the Authority will be making a significant contribution to the prize money fund and will be, in effect, the guarantor of that fund.
The allocation of fixtures and the setting of programmes are functions which were heretofore performed by the governing bodies but which are now being assigned to the Authority. The Authority will have the principle role in regard to the development of Irish racing, especially in regard to its current funding. Fixtures are central to all of this and it is therefore logical that the fixtures committee be appointed by the Authority.
The establishment of the fixtures list is, of course, a sensitive issue and it is important that there is careful balance in the composition of the committee charged with deciding on the fixtures. We have provided for that balance in the legislation. The programme committee is  also, of course, important and requires the participation of quite a number of people with specialist knowledge and expertise. It is sensible that it be left to the Authority to call on such expertise as is required without constraining its options in this regard through tight legislative provisions. Regarding race programmes therefore, section 20 provides that the Authority establish that committee after consultation with the regulatory body.
It is important to emphasise that the work of the Authority in this and in many other areas covers the industry in the whole of the island. It is also important that the potential of the industry in the whole island is developed to the full. I will be formally asking the Authority to have special regard in all of its activities to the development of the industry in Northern Ireland. I will be especially asking it to ensure that such development is catered for in the terms of reference of the fixtures committee and the remit of the programmes committee.
Section 33 of the Bill proposes to control starting price returns. All who are familiar with the racing scene will appreciate the need to ensure that there is only one starting price determined and published for each horse in any race. These starting prices are used by off-course bookmakers in setting the odds at which bets are paid. For this reason we must ensure that the integrity of the starting prices is maintained and section 33, as currently drafted, provides adequately for this. It is not intended to interfere with arrangements whereby racecourses benefit from the revenue generated by starting price contracts, but simply to ensure that this essential element in the running of racing is adequately controlled and is independent from sectional interests.
Section 53 deals with the regulation by the Authority of bookmakers on racecourses. The lifeblood of racing is the betting that takes place. In order to make racing attractive we must have quality racing at venues with good ancillary services and betting facilities. For example, I saw a new development at the Curragh  racecourse over the weekend where a first class screen was installed across from the finishing line, courtesy of one of our electrical companies. The screen was of a very high quality and was one of the best I have seen at any track internationally. It would be nice for the ordinary punter, who cannot get into the boxes or the main stands, if they could see all of the race from the ground, with good quality facilities such as those introduced at the Curragh. This is only one example and I would like to see more facilities of this kind in many of the tracks around the country.
One of the initiatives which is provided for under section 53 is the possible introduction of betting offices at racecourses. I realise that there are those who strongly believe that this would not be a positive move. For anybody who knows anything about racing, one of these offices was installed at Leopardstown racecourse for some time and was discontinued. I believe that this was a mistake and a disappointment to many people who attend race meetings at Leopardstown. I would like to see that, not alone is it reinstated, but that a similar facility be provided at other race tracks throughout the country.
It is possible that the full range of betting services could be provided by an extension or development of the current system of on-course bookmaking at pitches. It may prove to be the case that in the long term a combination of pitches and betting offices would be the best method of providing the service which the punter wants. In the final analysis this is something which will have to be decided by the Authority. This Bill allows the greatest possible flexibility in that regard. However, in making regulations under this section, the Authority may take into account agreements reached between the racecourses and bookmakers. In that context I will be asking the Authority to decide on this issue at an early date.
In future, racecourses will be authorised by the Authority. Previously the Racing Board had no legal function in  this regard. The new Authority must be in a position to ensure that all racecourses have appropriate facilities for all those involved in horse racing and are capable of providing a quality level of service to the racegoer. For example, I attended a race meeting at one the country's tracks over the Christmas period. Naturally, the weather was most inclement and very cold. My family was with me and we searched for some place to have a cup of coffee. We finally found a place, but it had no heating. Eventually a SuperSer heater was provided, but unfortunately it did not contain a gas cylinder, resulting in a chilly experience by all when taking the coffee and a great deal of criticism, especially from the younger members of my family.
This example illustrates the lack of facilities, and the lack of appreciation that there are other entertainments available on Saint Stephen's Day, a weekend or whatever. Unless those in charge of racing and race tracks provide suitable accommodation and appropriate facilities, younger people especially, and those additional people apart from the hard core racing people, will not be attracted to the racecourse.
The provision of section 59 will satisfy this need, and also the requirement that all racecourse authorisations have to be reviewed every five years. I hope this will ensure the maintenance of high standards on an ongoing basis so that if management of racecourses become lax they will be subject to review every five years and kept up to date.
Section 61 of the Bill deals with broadcasting and filming rights. It allows the Authority some say in the transmission or relaying of any broadcast of any race fixture. This is necessary in order to ensure that such broadcasting is always done in a way which is in the best interests of the industry as a whole.
I draw the attention of the House to two or three other provisions in the Bill which, in due course, could prove to be significant. Section 35 would allow a subsidiary of the Authority to apply for a bookmaker's licence. Under section 36, however, it would need the consent of  the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the Minister for Finance before it could establish such a subsidiary.
The operation of bookmaker offices by a subsidiary of the Authority could prove to be the vehicle by which a new range of betting services could be introduced. It could also be a revenue booster for the Authority. However, the relevant provisions in the Bill are enabling ones and the whole area would require some detailed research and analysis before any Ministerial consent, as provided for, could be given. I would also draw attention to the fact that joint ventures between subsidiaries of the Authority and other companies are provided for in section 36. This could lead to some beneficial partnerships between State and industry.
Part 9 of the Bill deals with the amendment of the Licensing Acts. The area of liquor licences for racecourses has been restrictive up to now. Sunday racing has added to these problems as occasional licences are not allowed for Sundays. The changes proposed here for horseracing are similar to those that have applied to greyhound racing since 1962. If it is to retain its customer support, racing must be in a position to provide a comprehensive entertainment and leisure service.
Standard provisions for State boards in relation to a code of ethics for the Authority and its staff and for ministerial control on pay, superannuation and borrowing are included in Part 2 of the Bill. The dissolution of the Racing Board and the transfer of all its assets, liabilities and staff are provided for in part 10.
Before I conclude, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute once again to the Racing Board, the Turf Club and the Irish National Hunt steeplechase committee for the magnificent contributions they have made to Irish racing down the years. I would particularly like to thank all those involved in the various committees and working groups that helped us to bring forward this Bill. I feel we are about to turn a corner and to witness the start of the next major phase  in the development of the horseracing industry. I refer in particular to the Moriarty working party, the Dowling committee and the Brosnan interim committee which worked on the financing and structures of the industry for a few months earlier this year, preparing the ground for the Authority. All of the material prepared by the latter committee will now be examined by the recently appointed Authority acting in an interim capacity.
Inevitably there were on occasions different perspectives within the various groups, but they all worked conscientiously to overcome these and in the end the whole process concluded with broad consensus. This work was invaluable and I would wish to place on record our thanks to the chairman, Dr. Paddy Moriarty, Michael Dowling and Denis Brosnan and all the members of the groups for their unstinted efforts in sign-posting the way forward.
To reiterate briefly, in this Bill we are establishing an overall Authority to manage, promote and develop Irish racing; we are putting in place an updated and comprehensive legal framework for the industry; and we are giving legal recognition to the work of the governing bodies in regard to the rules and integrity of racing.
I commend the Bill to the House.
Mr. Cosgrave Mr. Cosgrave
Mr. Cosgrave: I welcome the Minister to the House and compliment him on getting the Bill to this stage. For many years people have sought this legislation and advised on its possible contents. Like the Minister and others in the House, I have more than a passing interest in horseracing. I know the Cathaoirleach is also interested in horses and other four-legged friends as well.
This Bill comes before the House after long deliberation and many reports. While there are reservations in relation to some aspects of it, there are conflicting viewpoints which must be taken on board concerning such a widely based industry. Hopefully we are getting the balance right as regards where we are going and what we are going to do. The racing  industry is a broadly based one, employing between 25,000 and 30,000 people with many others receiving spin-offs from it. People talk about Jack's Army bringing credit to the country, but the racing industry has for many years brought tremendous credit and publicity to the country. We have only to think of the famous exploits of Irish horses, trainers and jockeys at Cheltenham and Epsom.
I appreciate that the Minister had to go ahead and announce the interim Authority, even though it is unusual to do so prior to legislation being passed. By and large, whether the Minister had announced the interim Authority before or after listening to me, many of its members would still be there. I have some reservations, however, about whether the jockeys themselves should have been represented. There have been complaints about having too unwieldly a board and some ends of it seem to be, if not over represented, then adequately represented. With regard to the geographical spread, we might say that the Minister's colleague, Deputy McCreevy, has not done badly with about seven members of the board. The fact that some may be members of certain comhairle ceantar is probably only coincidental. Some of them are very good people and no matter who was picking them — even Jack himself — they would merit a place on the team.
One appointment which has caused difficulties and concern relates to the representative from Northern Ireland. It is my understanding that the five areas there met and unanimously selected Jim Nicholson, who manages one of the tracks in the North. Yet, another name was dragged out of the hat which many people with an interest in the sport had not heard of before. I have nothing against the appointee, but the appointment has queered the pitch and perhaps soured certain relations. I noticed a nice picture of the Minister with Mr. Nicholson, in happier times, in The Irish Field of Saturday, 25 June 1994. I hope the fact that he was omitted is no reflection on Jim Nicholson's position. As the sole weekly  racing paper in the country, The Irish Field gave a lot of prominence to various viewpoints relating to the whole question. To be fair to Mr. Nicholson and to others, perhaps when the Minister is replying he could at least address that point. Obviously, the Minister was trying to get the balance right in every sense. However, I notice in today's paper that one of the prominent commentators, Mr. Kidd, refers to the fact that if various organisations make a nomination their choice should have been accepted.
Many members of the new Authority represent various areas and interests and have done a lot of good work. When this Authority is judged in five or ten years' time, the proof of the pudding will be in what it has achieved. That is what all of us with an interest in the improvement and development of racing want to see.
I wonder if the Racing Club of Ireland's nominee was put up by the Racing Club, if a choice was made or if a list of names was put forward. It may not have been possible for the chairman, Kevin Smith, who has done a good job, or Ian Scott and others to act on the Authority, but at times one questions how some of these appointments were made. If the people on the Authority get together and work together it will be worthwhile. It is important to bury old differences of opinion and private feuds, of which the Minister is only too well aware. If that happens then racing will be the winner.
One can say many things about how racing should be developed. It is a consumer based sport, there is a lot of money involved and it is important that we continue to attract good attendances at race meetings.
There are various types of race meetings, those where pattern, group or classic races are held and festival meetings. Various other meetings have developed successfully, such as Kilbeggan, Roscommon and Wexford which have been greatly revived in recent times. This has been mainly due to supporters' clubs securing local sponsorship. I am sure the Minister would be the first to accept that much of what they have achieved has  been without the help of the Minister or the board. People saw a need, they saw benefit to a town and they got on with it.
In the context of trying to achieve the correct balance, I said initially that I hoped we were not simply paying lip service to the northern aspects of this matter. For many years, a strong northern racing contingent has existed. Many from the south attend race meetings in the North for paltry prize money. We hope and expect that people from the north will come to festival meetings in Galway, Listowel, Tralee, Killarney, etc. It is important that improvements are realised.
It is also important that the financial and betting aspects of the industry and the operation of the tote are examined and revamped. In England, on the track one can have a tote bet on a meeting at another venue but this is not possible in Ireland. We introduced an expensive tote system but we are not getting the best from it. The Minister will probably accept this point. In Ireland, it is rare that two or three meetings are held on the same day. This only happens on a certain number of days in the year, for example, when the Downroyal or Downpatrick meetings are held. Does the Minister have proposals in relation to this point? Will it be possible under this Bill for the tote to operate in the North also? There may be problems in terms of logistics in that regard but if we are discussing an expanded operation, everything should be considered.
Attendances at meetings and how owners are doing in terms of their returns are further elements which must be examined. Good handicap £5,000 races in Galway attract 24 or 25 runners. Yet, as the Cathaoirleach is aware, at the Curragh last Sunday there was a total of seven runners in two group races — four horses in one, of which there were no Irish horses, and three in the other. That is not what the public want. If the Derby had not been on last Sunday, many people would not have attended the meeting.
The Minister mentioned how television can promote racing but also act  as a distraction or opponent to it. On Saturdays, if the card is not good in a certain area, there might be five or six races on Channel 4, a few on the BBC and others, given the introduction of racing on Sky Television. If this Authority does not get its act together, we will lose many people from meetings. We must examine how to deal with this situation.
There have also been changes in the area of horse ownership. There are fewer wealthy individual owners, aside from the Arabs and the Aga Khan. The future lies in syndicates. For a relatively small outlay, a small group of people can gain quite an amount of enjoyment. However, they must get or have the possibility of getting a return on their investment. There have been various syndicates made up of groups from a pub or members of a football club. Some good syndicates have come together and, with a relatively small amount of money, have been very lucky. They have provided encouragement for others to become involved in horse ownership because, by and large, single people in the middle income bracket could not afford to own horses.
The question of how a racing authority looks at fixtures, how it plans and tries to raise the overall standard in terms of runners, decent fields and adequate prize money is important. This must be examined because not every race is the Budweiser Derby. It is important to attract people and to ensure a certain return. We must also encourage breeding, especially those people who have a single mare in a field at home, and tell them how they can play their part.
Much work has been done since the Racing Board was established in 1945. However, 50 years have passed and it is possible that more changes should have been introduced sooner in that time. The Turf Club and the Racing Board have guided the racing industry for the past 200 years and although they are not faultless, in the main the sport has done very well but there is room for improvement.
Another matter which must be examined is the improvement of some race courses. The Minister said recently that  matters were proceeding in relation to the Mallow track. I have no doubt that it is quite close to the Minister's heart.
An Cathaoirleach An Cathaoirleach
An Cathaoirleach: Senator Sherlock is smiling.
Mr. Sherlock Mr. Sherlock
Mr. Sherlock: We will invite the Senator down sometime.
Mr. Cosgrave Mr. Cosgrave
Mr. Cosgrave: Is that the position in Mallow? Some of the talk about the possibility of developing a new race course is draft. We should try to maintain and improve existing courses. Are matters proceeding satisfactorily in relation to Mallow?
There is obvious concern about sections of the Bill where the Authority has the power to remove some of the tracks. While there may be question marks over some tracks at present, I hope they would be given a chance to improve and that they will also be given much needed funds. Some tracks could learn from other tracks when it comes to carrying out improvements.
With regard to the operation of the Authority, I hope various people on the board will not just be yes men or women when it comes to making decisions. Ultimately, it is important that racing is the winner and that people on the board work to the benefit of the industry without trying to prove a point against others with whom they may have disagreed in the past. I ask the Minister when replying or on Committee Stage to deal with the question of the executives, particularly with regard to administration, the tote, courses, etc.
The operation of the betting chains and those who operate on the tracks, the extension of the tote, etc., must also be addressed. Are vested interests preventing the introduction of things consumers want? The Minister mentioned the betting shop at Leopardstown racetrack. It was already fairly streamlined; one could not bet on Irish racing and it closed down. Like me, the Minister was a visitor to Leopardstown. People there had a choice; there were three meetings on SIS;  one could even bet on the dogs running at Harringay. At times people did not want what was happening on the Leopardstown track. They were not interested in races with five horses and a five to two favourite; they wanted a choice. One was lucky to get such people there. They would have preferred to stay at home or to go to their local betting shops. To attract customers we must give them what they want. Racing is competing with all sorts of other sports which provide corporate facilities where people can have meals and drinks. People do not want to go to places with superser heaters and where the sandwiches were made last year. Such places may be the exception. However, the Minister has been in some of them himself and standards must be improved. Consumers pay at turnstiles for themselves and perhaps their spouses and families.
We must also look at how these tracks are operated. A track may need to be cared for 52 weeks of the year even if it holds only a few meetings. There is also the question of whether some other use can be made of tracks on days on which meetings are not held. This does not necessarily apply to all tracks but some tracks are only used on about 25 days and are like monuments for the rest of the year.
On Committee Stage I am sure we will discuss other matters relating to racing. Most of us support the thrust of the Bill. We want to see a good promotion of the racing industry. We must cater for the wishes of consumers. They are becoming more discerning and are in a more competitive business. I have reservations about some sections but I hope that in the Bill we have got the balance right. I have reservations about some aspects of the Authority, in particular the Northern Ireland appointment. I intend no disrespect to the nominee from there, but it seems a little peculiar that when various regions met to decide on the appointment, this nominee was not acceptable. I hope there was not undue political consideration involved in the appointment.
Some matters must be looked at by the Authority when it meets to discuss racing  fixtures and planning. Listowel racecourse recently applied to hold a two day meeting over the May bank holiday weekend. A similar application from Limerick was accepted, but a success story like Listowel should be on the agenda for another bank holiday weekend. It would probably have to be a two day meeting, given the time it would take to travel there. It takes some of us a long time to return from such festival meetings. We must look at some of these meetings. It may be difficult to hold meetings such as that held at Bellewstown at other times of the year. We must make the best use of tracks for the industry. We have seen the success of Sunday meetings. Many people want to go to meetings on Sundays as they may have other things to do on Saturdays. In Wolverhampton there is floodlit racing. This may not happen here for some time, but work and leisure patterns have changed and the Minister may be the person to turn on the floodlights somewhere for racing.
We support much of the thrust behind the Bill. However, we will table amendments on Committee Stage and will have more questions to which we will require answers. Those of us who have more than a passing interest in the trade want the Bill to be successful. We have seen the great benefits which have come about. Irish thoroughbred horses are revered and well known. The successes we have seen in recent years — for example in Cheltenham — have partly come about because of the extra prize money being offered. Horses such as Mary Gale and Vintage Crop are being kept here and I hope we will see further exploits. We have seen vintage performances by Michael Kinane in Ascot and he has been a great ambassador for the country so many times.
The Minister stated that some of the money placed on bets will be given to tracks or to the Authority to put back into tracks. In some tracks facilities are totally cordon bleu but in others there is room for improvements, for which money should be provided. We will oppose the Bill on Second Stage and will  be raising other matters on Committee Stage. I trust the Minister will accept my points, which I hope were constructive, and that he will respond to them in time.
An Cathaoirleach An Cathaoirleach
An Cathaoirleach: I notice that Deputy Doyle is in the House. I do not know if she is here to watch over Senator Cosgrave or to haunt me. She is welcome back on a temporary basis.
Mr. Sherlock Mr. Sherlock
Mr. Sherlock: She might want to be appointed to the board and is keeping a watching brief on this issue.
Mr. R. Kiely Mr. R. Kiely
Mr. R. Kiely: I welcome the Minister and am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on the Bill, which is very important for the Irish horseracing industry. I compliment him on introducing it and know he has a keen interest in racing. Because of this interest I know he will ensure that any legislation he introduces will be for the improvement of this vital industry. This Bill will provide a comprehensive legislative framework for the industry. It will provide for the development of the industry well into the next century.
Ireland has a well established tradition in breeding thoroughbred horses for racing and export. Over the years we have seen the establishment of large studs which boost the morale of horsebreeding. However, it must be emphasised that the breeding of thoroughbreds has been and will continue to be a farm based activity, where farmers keep two or three brood mares in a mixed enterprise system. I was delighted when a cousin of mine who has a few mares produced the winner of the English Grand National one year, which was great for the locality. I am sure that there are many other such breeders with mixed farming enterprises who have bred good horses. More than 7,000 thoroughbred foals are born annually. Ireland has achieved an international reputation for producing quality horses.
I welcome this very important legislation which deals with an indigenous industry. It is a wonderful tradition with great potential which is still not being realised. However, I am sure that this  legislation will help to achieve the full potential of the industry. Our horses are the best in the world, which is a tribute to those involved in the industry over the years, including breeders, trainers and jockeys. As was mentioned, the industry employs 25,000 to 30,000 people. If a body or a board announced the creation of 25,000 jobs, it would be warmly welcomed. When an industry is going well there is a boom in employment and there is also spin off employment.
Of the 7,000 horses which are born annually, approximately 4,700 appear on our race courses. Of these, only 1,200 win races. There are 1,800 races during the year involving £12 million in prize money, giving an average prize money of just below £7,000. In Britain there are approximately 11,000 race horses in training which are involved in about 7,160 races. The prize money is slightly in excess of £51 million, which again averages at a little over £7,000 per race. Therefore, there is a little or no difference between prize money here and in Britain, but we have a greater number of horses competing in races. I suppose that we have too many horses. We have 300 trainers whereas in Britain there are approximately 550 trainers. It is nothing short of a miracle that we have so many. I do not know how some survive. It appears that they are all willing to take a chance and are prepared to battle on. I wish them all well.
Many trainers become involved in racing on leaving school and many remain in the industry for the rest of their lives. A local example is Michael Hourigan, whose family had no background in horse racing. He was apprenticed as a jockey and is now one of the most successful trainers in Ireland. He is a neighbour of mine and I wish him well. It is great to see such people achieving success in the horseracing industry.
While there are not many trainers in my county of Limerick and in the Minister's area, they have been successful. When I was young I used to go to Listowel for the holiday meeting and Martin  Maloney was a champion jockey at that time. He was from County Limerick and we were great followers of his. We used to bet on him at Listowel, but unfortunately he let us down on a few occasions and we were poorer coming home. Unlike Senator Cosgrave, I have just a passing interest in horseracing. When I go to races I think that I know a lot about horses, but before I go home I find out that I know very little. It is a costly lesson, but that is all part of the sport.
I would like to see a more professional approach to training. We should study the structure of the industry. Point to point racing is very popular in County Limerick and in the Minister's county of Cork. I was at a point to point meeting in Kildorrery last year. I do not have much time on Sundays to go racing, but on this day there was not any good hurling match or football game on. I do not know whether the Minister went to Cork or the Curragh last Sunday. I would definitely go to Cork, but I could not go there last Sunday because of other GAA commitments. There were nearly 200 horses racing in Kildorrery that day and ten or 12 races, which is an indication of the popularity of point to point racing. The successful owners will go on to further success and race on the 26 race courses throughout the country and probably abroad.
Credit is due to horse owners, who in many cases have little return for their major investment. It is well known that the average training fee is approximately £150 to £200 per week, which does not include veterinary, travelling, entry and other fees. A small owner might have one or two horses in national hunt racing only to find after four years that the animal will not appear in a race track, although the owner paid a large sum of money for a yearling and incurred various expenses in bringing it to the stage where it could race.
Senator Cosgrave mentioned syndicates and there is an increase in the number of people syndicating horses, which is very welcome. My only hope of having an interest in a horse is to become involved in a syndicate because I doubt  that I could afford to buy one myself. It is an economic way of becoming a racehorse owner. The expenses are shared and it provides the same amount of enjoyment, although the return might not be as great. There is great enjoyment in owning a horse and seeing it running and winning.
I appreciate the difficulties involved and the Minister's success in providing additional funding this year. I think he said that the Exchequer provided £6.6 million for racing, which is a large sum of money. It is good that this legislation will provide the means for the industry to increase its funding from its own resources. That is very important.
There are 26 tracks in the country and I appeal to the Minister not to allow this new horse racing Authority or anybody else to close them down. Mallow race track was mentioned and, as Senator Sherlock and the Minister would know, I live quite near to Mallow and I would like to see the facilities there being improved. The Minister also mentioned facilities at race courses. Some of the facilities are inadequate, particularly the betting facilities. There is always a rush, particularly at tote offices, to place bets. We are living in an age when people want the best facilities. In order to encourage people to go to race courses there will have to be proper facilities. I am sure that this new board will ensure that facilities are improved.
As I said, I have only a passing interest in horseracing. I cannot go to Sunday races because of my interest in hurling and football games. I can only go to holiday meetings, which are great occasions, especially the Listowel meeting, which is the west Limerick, north Kerry and Clare farmers' annual holiday meeting. I wish the Minister success with this legislation.
Dr. Henry Dr. Henry
Dr. Henry: I welcome the Minister and this Bill. For most of us racing is entertainment. However, it is a very important industry for a large number of people. The Minister is right to point out the number of people which it employs and that there is potential for employing a far greater number. I will speak later about  areas which are not often considered to be connected to racing but which I think are, such as the tourist industry. It is very important, now that the breeding industry appears to be recovering, that we make a really big effort in the racing industry because it is essential that our horses have a showcase. Unless we have adequate showcase meetings, we will not able to maintain the current interest in Irish horses. As the Minister is aware, there is very good breeding in other countries. It is one thing to have our horses running abroad, but they must be seen running here as well. If we do not have enough confidence to put domestic investment into our own industry, those abroad will have little sympathy for us if we are left with paddocks of brood mares.
I am fascinated to hear the Minister and other Senators talk about the return one gets from the horse industry. I do not know of any member of my family who has ever got a return from horses. However, it has not deterred them from being involved in every aspect of the industry. I will presume that there are those who get a decent return from horses. As Senator Kiely said, one would need to be running another few projects on the farm to be sure of being able to support the horses.
The Minister is correct in stating that the facilities at various race tracks have to upgraded. This is extremely important. When one sees the facilities in tracks abroad one can understand why it is difficult to attract people accustomed to sophisticated entertainment to tracks with inadequate conditions. I have not been in Mallow for a few years, but the last time I was there the conditions were not satisfactory for someone spending the best part of a day at a race course.
An investment must be made in this area. I agree with Senator Cosgrave that rather than talking about opening other tracks, we would be better advised to concentrate on the existing ones. I have not seen the course at the Curragh with the television where one can watch the whole race. I have seen it at other courses and it is incredible. It makes a huge difference to one's enjoyment, and, if one  is fairly small, one no longer has to ask what happened at the end of a race. I applaud the Minister's efforts in improving the facilities there.
I have few comments to make on the betting aspect of the Bill because I really do not understand it. It is a pity that the country seems to rely totally on betting — for example, through the Lotto — and now racing is to be totally supported by betting. It is certainly more justified that the racing industry should rely so heavily on betting rather than that the health and education services have to rely on the Lotto.
Senator Cosgrave made several points with which I agree, particularly those concerning the cost of training and the worringly small number of horses in some races. This is a problem, because training is appallingly expensive now. Senator Kiely gave some figures which I am sure are correct, if not modest. I do not know how this problem can be solved. Syndicates have started, and this is totally different from having Lady Beaverbrook or some other rich person with a string of horses. It would be sad if it got so out of hand that only a small number of horses was involved.
Senator Kiely mentioned the point to point meetings where there is a large number of horses involved. The fields are so big in some of the point to point meetings now that it presents quite a problem. I gather that efforts were made to lengthen the season, but this has not been possible. The point to point meetings are an extremely large source of income, so the Minister might examine the possibility of lengthening the season. Farming has changed so much that the difficulties with starting the season before Christmas may no longer exist. It would be worthwhile for the Minister and his Authority to examine the area.
The joy of point to point meetings for local people and the pride they take in local events is often underestimated, as is the tourist potential. I cannot be the only person who goes home for the local point to point. Visitors come down to guest houses and so on if the meeting is  well organised. Despite the fact that much money is collected from point to point meetings, there is not a great deal of money ploughed back into them. Perhaps the Authority could look at that. I know the Turf Board give grants and so on, but I would like to think that could be improved.
The Minister quite rightly praised the voluntary work of those in the Racing Board, the Turf Club and the Irish National Hunt steeplechase committee and all those who sat on various committees over the last few years to examine this industry. All of us who get enjoyment out of racing owe a great deal to the voluntary work put in by numerous people on committees all over the country who work in a voluntary capacity to keep fixtures going and organise race meetings. They should be acknowledged today.
Mr. Lydon Mr. Lydon
Mr. Lydon: There are few activities or businesses in which Ireland has an outstanding reputation, tradition and standing but horse breeding and the racing industry is one of them. Throughout the thoroughbred world the Irish horse and horseman is recognised as being right at the top. The new Authority will help to maintain and improve an industry which offers young people an interesting, healthy and worthwhile occupation, particularly in these days of set aside.
No amount of praise is sufficient for the efforts of the Minister, Deputy Walsh, and the officials in his Department and their persistence in bringing together the interest groups involved in racing and breeding, some of whom by all reports were reluctant to accept or participate in unification. In thanking the Minister for being so single minded and persistent, we must consider the opportunities the new Authority will offer the racing and breeding enterprises operating in Ireland.
Before moving forward, the Authority must tidy up those aspects which need attention. It is comparable to “mucking out” before exercise. Having in this case inherited a mess, the Authority must rectify  and rationalise before it proceeds to the next stage of obtaining new investment.
It is widely recognised that the tote has been a loss maker for years. This haemorrhage must be stopped and no excuse for not doing so should be accepted. Work practices and computer inadequacies have been suggested as reasons for the fact that the tote does not make a profit. This allegations may be correct but, whatever the reason, this must be addressed immediately and the drain must be blocked.
When one travels around Ireland one finds race courses which are in dire financial need. This House should caution against the prospect of the Authority being seen as a form of rescue agency for inefficient or non-viable race courses, particularly if they are privately owned.
It is often propounded that in some areas there is too much racing and consequently the attendance is insufficient to make meetings profitable. If this is the case the number of meetings must be reduced immediately and perhaps the number of races on an individual day increased. We must remember that a reduction in the number of days on which racing is held would add to the sense of occasion on the basis that what is seldom is wonderful. Some 300 days racing with seven races per day is exactly the same as 210 days with ten races per day. When we reach a stage where on Derby day at the Curragh there are three and four horse races, it is clear that, as the saying goes, something is rotten in the state of Denmark and it is time to examine the management and their so-called master plan.
Racing is always referred to as the shop window of the industry. The better the shop window the more likely it is that someone might wish to enter the shop and invest. Those investments bring jobs in provincial and rural locations, all of which help to keep communities together and give young people hope.
All over the world young Irish horsemen are sought after in stud farms and racing stables, and four of the top jockeys in the world today were born in Ireland.  Racing has been good to them and it will be good to many more young people in the future. The names of our trainers are known internationally, including people of the calibre of Vincent O'Brien, John Magner and John Mulhern.
I recommend the Bill to the House and in doing so caution this new Authority to avoid the wastage that has occurred to date in some areas. I ask them to be prudent, frugal, inventive and, above all, to protect and build on the great tradition. I see this as a new beginning for Irish horse racing. We are getting away from many of the old practices and old faces, such as captains and majors who got their commissions in the East Indian Rifles. I see this as a new beginning, a new time for Ireland and horse racing. I commend the Bill to the House and thank the Minister for introducing it.
Mr. Sherlock Mr. Sherlock
Mr. Sherlock: The establishment of a new racing Authority is welcome. The Irish horseracing industry must be placed on a sound financial footing in order to maximise its potential. The industry must also reflect the attitude and interest of the participants. The main difference between the new Authority and that which existed previously is the openness and transparency in the new Authority. I congratulate the Minister on his initiative in introducing this legislation.
Looking at the horseracing industry in the same way as we would look at an industry in the industrial sector means posing the same basic question: how do we organise it in a way that will obtain top class international competitive performance? The Fine Gael spokesperson expressed her reservations in the Dáil and spoke about the prospect — she almost said it was frightening — of Deputy Pat Rabbitte becoming chairman of the board. It would be no bad thing, perhaps, if a person of his calibre was chairman. In the past some people believed that because they had a tradition in the industry nobody else knew anything about racing.
The Irish thoroughbred industry is a substantial indigenous enterprise employing 12,000 people and many thousands  more are employed part-time and in ancillary businesses. I am glad that section 23 of the Bill provides for the superannuation of employees of the board. The enthusiasm of people engaged by trainers and others and the unsocial hours they work must also be recognised. These people have a great interest and involvement in the industry. Their commitment is second to none and their diligence in the performance of their duties must not go unrecognised.
Previously, it was very hard to get information about the industry. Two or three years ago if I inquired about the prospects for Mallow racecourse — which I occasionally did — I would have received vague answers or no answers in some instances. I congratulate the Minister on his initiative regarding Mallow racecourse. The community was a little disappointed that the decision took longer than anticipated. However, it is a great vote of confidence in the horseracing industry in Munster, and particularly in Mallow. The community has been waiting for this development and is ready to play its part in developing the only track in Cork. Perhaps the Minister would give an indication of what progress has been made regarding the track in Mallow.
I have been following the establishment of the commission with interest. Senator Rory Kiely referred to his visit to the Kildorrery race meeting. I went to a race meeting in Doneraile this year and it was 7 o'clock in the evening before the races were completed because the maiden race had to be divided three ways. That is an indication of the enormous interest in the racing industry. It is vitally important that the racing Authority be established.
Lord Killanin said, in a letter sent to me and to the newspapers, that the Bill was flawed. He referred in particular to the betting industry. However, I do not have strong views on that issue. It is a long time since I went to Greenpark on St. Stephen's Day. On that day the person standing beside me had the winner of a particular race as a result of  a tip “from the horse's mouth”. I was never as enthusiastic about betting afterwards.
Although little horse breeding is carried on in Counties Cork and Kerry the existence of race courses in those counties is very important for the tourist industry. Perhaps racing could be better promoted as a tourist attraction through a promotion budget provided from the racing Authority's increased income. There should be greater emphasis on racing as a tourist attraction. A number of Irish punters travel to Cheltenham each year to enjoy the atmosphere and the craic. We could do the same in this country.
The Irish horse industry can have a bright future. The CAP reforms encouraged farmers to get involved in the horse industry. After years of recession in that business sales are picking up. Recently I met a number of people whose horses were taking part in a point-to-point meeting. They were confident about the future and said sales were picking up.
The establishment of a new horseracing Authority will breathe new life into the industry and I am glad a Minister from County Cork has been instrumental in its establishment.
Mr. Dardis Mr. Dardis
Mr. Dardis: I am tempted to call a vote on this matter. It is only my regard for the Minister that prevents me from doing so. Members from the Government side should be attending this debate. On one famous occasion in the past we defeated the Government in this House when it had no representative to respond to a question put by the Chair. However, I will not call for a quorum this afternoon.
In welcoming the Minister to the House, I acknowledge his interest in this matter. Being a keen and regular racegoer, he speaks with authority when commenting on the industry. I also commend the Minister for amending the Bill in the Lower House. Some provisions which I would have considered objectionable, particularly one regarding the rules of racing and who should regulate those rules, have been amended to a satisfactory degree.
 However, the Bill is still defective in several areas. The Minister's assertions that the industry has potential, that it must be regulated, that legislation is required to do so and that some reorganisation is necessary are not at issue. The issue is whether this Bill is the best way to do it and in my view it is not. It interferes to an unhealthy degree in a sport. One can debate whether horse racing is an industry or a sport. It is both and, as a general principle, it is wrong for politics and sport to mix. In this legislation politics and sport mix to an unhealthy degree. I do not deny that horse racing is an important industry which requires regulation. Obviously, the regulation of the industry must receive attention.
Even by the leisurely standards of equine gestation it has taken a long time to introduce this Bill. Perhaps that indicates the debate which took place within the industry about the content of the Bill. The Minister has spoken about the value of the industry and I will not repeat his remarks. However, there are some features he did not address which are worth considering. The most recent report of the Turf Club was published in 1993. This set a headline for the Racing Board, which appears to be far more tardy in the production of figures, although it took the Turf Club 200 years to produce its first report.
There are about 3,000 owners in the industry. It is perceived that a small group of people control the industry, basically the sheikhs, the Aga Khan and Mr. Robert Sangster. They may be dominant but there are 3,000 owners, many of whom are small owners. That can be said with certainty because fewer than 6,800 horses are in training; the effective figure is lower than that because the average monthly number in training is 4,840. Given that there are 3,000 owners and 4,840 horses, it can be seen the average number of horses per owner is extremely small.
I profess a vested interest in this matter because I am one of those unfortunate people who invested money in one of these four legged animals, which might  more appropriately have been turned into dog food than being run on the race courses of Ireland. We have been told about the marvellous fun we have and it is certainly enjoyable to go to Thurles, Wexford and Roscommon, especially to national hunt events. However the fun is costly, as I believe the Minister knows to his detriment. We are confronted with expensive training fees, but that is not to say horse trainers make a lot of money — the vast majority of them do not. If there is to be a priority in the legislation and what the Minister hopes to do with the Bill, it must be to address the problems facing owners. That means introducing small improvements. For example, if a horse is entered in a race in Thurles worth £1,000, the owner should be able to park his car and get a cup of tea. Having invested in the industry owners expect that much in return. We are in it for the sport rather than the profit, but the industry has an obligation to the owners which is not being fulfilled to the extent it should.
I do not disagree with the Minister about the need to promote and improve the industry but the question is whether the Bill does that to best effect. In certain areas it does not because politics and sport do not mix. There seems to be a wider agenda. A small group of people believe they know what is best for the industry and regard people with years of experience in horse racing as not competent to have a view. There has been a clash between the different elements which has not been healthy.
I accept the Minister has done his best to resolve the conflicts and one hopes he will continue to do so. Those unhealthy divisions exist and the genesis of this Bill has been surrounded by some of this controversy. As Senator McDonagh said, Lord Killanin made a statement which exhibited deep concern on the part of someone who had vast experience not just in the Irish racing industry but in sport worldwide. Hopefully his reservations can be taken into account in the legislation and dealt with here.
To what extent is it appropriate for the State to intervene in this industry?  Private enterprise flourishes in this industry above all others and it is at the core of the horse racing business. The Turf Club's 1992 report spoke about a joint racing authority, which is certainly not what has come to pass. It is not joint in the sense of a partnership between the Turf Club and the Racing Board or its successor.
Prize money is also essential to the success of the industry. If it is lucky a horse can win a £1,000 or £1,500 race but it costs much more than that to participate in the sport, especially when one considers the initial cost of buying a horse. The total prize money was £12.2 million last year and £12.91 million the previous year; this shows there has been a fall in the prize money and the number of race meetings has fallen also.
Of the 1,696 races which took place in 1993, 700 had some form of sponsorship. There is a lesson to be learned there because, compared to other sports, the racing industry has been slow to realise the potential in sponsorship. The Minister and I have attended race meetings where there was generous hospitality from sponsors but the industry and the race tracks have been slow to exploit this. In Britain it has been suggested that the jockey's colours could carry sponsorship as soccer players do at the World Cup. This is not bad if it brings money into the industry. If there is corporate money to be captured for this flagship Irish industry let it be captured.
The average prize money at races is £7,208 which suggests all is well. However, if group races, which account for £1.85 million of the total, are excluded, the average falls significantly. The prize money issue must be tackled because it is fundamental to a person's decision to buy and train a horse.
The Minister made considerable play of the amount of money invested over the past few years and mentioned a figure of £13 million. I refer him to the amount of money collected in on-course and off-course betting facilities. A sum of £35 million in off-course betting levies goes to the Exchequer, which puts the level  of Government funding into perspective. The Exchequer is a significant net beneficiary and the industry is suffering as a result.
The funding provision is one of the big deficiencies of the Bill. It is much to arbitrary and open to an individual Minister and to the Authority to determine the amount of money which will go into the industry. I do not question the commitment of the present Minister to horse racing, nor do I question his knowledge, but what will happen when his successors have access to this legislation? If they prove to be hostile to the industry, as some people are, what happens?
One assertion which should be nailed for all time was that made by Senator Lydon. He said the members of the Turf Club are retired colonels or members of the British Raj. The honorary members of the governing body of the Turf Club include Mr. Liam Cosgrave and Mr. Charles J. Haughey, neither of whom, to my knowledge, is and ever has been such a person.
Mr. Belton Mr. Belton
Mr. Belton: Senator Lydon obviously thinks they are.
Mr. Kelleher Mr. Kelleher
Mr. Kelleher: Mr. Haughey has been called other names.
Mr. Dardis Mr. Dardis
Mr. Dardis: Other members include Dr. A.J.F. O'Reilly, Mr. Michael Roarty, who people would have seen last Sunday on the television if they were watching the Irish Derby, His Royal Highness, the Aga Khan, Lord Killanin and Mr. Denis Brosnan, who the Minister knows and whose name appears on the new Authority. We should nail the lie that members of the Turf Club are Colonel Blimps who have been around for the past 100 years and have no knowledge of or interest in racing. That is not the case. The Turf Club members are well qualified professional people. It should not be suggested otherwise. In fairness to the Minister, he would not suggest that. Some of the complimentary things he said about the Turf Club do not square with the reality of some of the provisions in this Bill. Someone in the  other House described it as gelding the Turf Club. I would not go that far, but I would say they are carrying a 12 stone penalty in a claiming race and they probably have blinkers as well.
I want to ask the Minister about the Curragh race course. He makes the point that the governing bodies will continue to do the things they have previously done. The Turf Club owns the Curragh racecourse. Does that mean that relationship will continue or will it change when the new Authority is established? I believe the answer is straightforward and I would like to hear it.
Managements of racecourses must realise they are part of the entertainment business because they do not seem to acknowledge this fact. I live within a short distance of the Curragh racecourse and several meetings have taken place there to discuss the falling attendances and how to attract people back to the racecourse. The average attendance at Irish races in the past 12 months was 4,400 people, a small number. The point was made that one million people attend races during the year. However, the average attendance is 4,400. There were 7,000 people at the Curragh for the 1,000 guineas race meeting. The numbers are decreasing because the tracks are in competition with television and other forms of entertainment, which were not available when we were growing up.
Why would someone pay to go to the Irish Derby last Sunday to see fields of three and four horses and only two races in a card which could be described as good fields — one was the Irish Derby and the other was the race in which “Vintage Crop” was running. This aspect must be dealt with. Is this happening because all the good horses have left the country or is it because the entry fees are too high for the ordinary owner I described earlier?
How do we contrast that with Punchestown, where the place is full during the festival? What is it about the Punchestown management which makes it different from other managements around the country in terms of being able to promote a festival which brings visitors  into the country and revenue into the area? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that national hunt racing is more attractive to the Irish person than flat racing and that the social ambience which goes with national hunt racing is more attractive to the Irish psyche than flat racing which has become elitist. I visited one particular track where great play was made of the fact that the so-called reserved enclosure had been eliminated and the two tier layer of——
Acting Chairman (Mr. Sherlock) Acting Chairman (Mr. Sherlock)
Acting Chairman (Mr. Sherlock): Tá an t-am beagnach istigh.
Mr. Dardis Mr. Dardis
Mr. Dardis: I am only warming up because I thought I had a half an hour.
Mr. Belton Mr. Belton
Mr. Belton: The Senator will be up before the stewards.
Mr. Dardis Mr. Dardis
Mr. Dardis: An appeals procedure would need to deal with that.
Mr. Wright Mr. Wright
Mr. Wright: After all the Senator has just said.
Mr. Dardis Mr. Dardis
Mr. Dardis: As regards the investments which racecourses must make to improve their facilities and so on, Naas racecourse must sell land to finance its development. Application was made to the Minister for Finance to have rollover relief for capital gains purposes. My understanding is that this is not available in this instance. Given the amount of the investment, it should be allowed if it is going back into the business.
The other point concerns the five year licence. If someone wants to develop a racecourse and invest a significant amount of capital, the licence should be for a longer period than five years. How can one make strategic investment plans on the basis of five year licensing?
I have reservations about certain aspects of this Bill which I could discuss in greater detail. I await the Minister's reply with interest and we will table amendments on Committee Stage.
Mr. Kelleher Mr. Kelleher
Mr. Kelleher: I welcome the Minister to the House. The last time we discussed  the horseracing industry was during the debate on the National Stud (Amendment) Bill, 1993, when we talked about the need for capital to purchase a better class of stallion for the Irish thoroughbred breeder. It is important to have a coherent plan for the Irish horseracing industry, which is recognised as valuable and there is potential for growth. It has also been recognised that Irish horses have an international reputation and the skills of the people involved in the industry have been acknowledged worldwide.
We must accept the fact that there has been a worldwide recession in the horseracing industry over the past number of years. However, we also have domestic problems which this Bill will tackle. For two centuries, two governing bodies have been responsible for the Irish horseracing industry. They have performed their duties as admirably as they could within their brief. However, it is now time for a coherent plan, as laid out in this Bill, to promote the industry and to encourage its growth and development.
One of the biggest problems in the Irish horseracing industry is the lack of funds available to the National Stud. There seems to be a lack of available finance and the Minister must face this issue. We must ensure that the stigma of betting on and off the courses is removed. For too long there was a stigma attached to people who went into a betting office to put money on a horse. Betting is not an evil or a sinful pastime. However, there is a difficulty in this area which must be overcome.
As other Senators mentioned, the issue of prize money must be tackled because it is expensive to keep a racehorse in training and to provide proper facilities for it. If we do not have proper prize money, the sport will become concentrated in the hands of a few wealthy people and it will be taken from those who founded the horse industry with one or two horses. This must be considered by the new horseracing Authority.
I welcome the availability of tax exemption status and the fact that any surplus will be reinvested to promote and  develop the industry. The Government is prepared to consider conferring tax exemption status on the horseracing Authority in the next Finance Bill. We must acknowledge and welcome this. The Minister has excellent knowledge of the industry and has prioritised it as an area for growth and development.
I look forward to the remaining Stages of this Bill when I hope to contribute in more detail. I have great faith in this Bill and I hope it achieves what it sets out to do. I congratulate the Minister and the Department for bringing this issue to the fore.
Mr. Belton Mr. Belton
Mr. Belton: I welcome the Minister and the Bill to the House. The new horseracing Authority is welcome. All industries, especially the racing industry, need to be updated at certain times and there is no doubt that the horseracing industry needs to be updated.
Horseracing provides potential for tourism with evening meetings during the summer. I have attended such meetings to my cost, because a person must be prepared to lose the money in his pocket. In recent years people on touring holidays have attended evening race meetings. It is another asset which this country can offer the tourism industry. Some of the money for the National Development Plan will be spent under the heading of tourist investments. The Minister should consult with his colleague, the Minister for Trade and Tourism, Deputy McCreevy, who seems to be the authority on how this money will be spent in this area.
Many years ago it was announced that Roscommon and Kilbeggan racecourses were to close because the day of the small racecourse was over and racecourses needed to be located near Dublin and other major cities to survive. Like other predictions and plans relayed, the opposite happened. At present racecourses like Roscommon and Kilbeggan are booming while Dublin tracks and those in the vicinity of the city are finding it difficult to survive because people are not attending meetings.
 If one asks why people do they not go to Leopardstown or the Curragh, they will say they do not like flat racing because there are few runners, the same trainer wins all the time and the favourites are always odds on. It is seldom that those who go into a betting shop bet on an Irish race. I hope the Minister bears that in mind.
Because it is expensive to keep a racehorse and it is difficult for trainers to survive, perhaps trainers and owners, because there is only limited prize money available, want to go for the big coup. In order to set that up, horses are not given a full push on the way to that famous coup. Perhaps the Chairman, Senator McDonagh, will enlighten us about that. We will not ask him about his expert knowledge on horseracing and how to train winners.
I welcome the fact that on course levy money will go directly to the horseracing Authority. It is right that revenue raised at race tracks is directly fed back into the industry. Some of the income from off-course betting should be ploughed back into the industry because many tracks need to be updated, although some have made efforts in recent years by providing restaurants, bars and stands.
I refer to safety on race tracks, something of which Minister should be aware. I attended a race meeting where, at the first hurdle, a horse fell and the jockey was injured. There was a mix up and by the time help and on-track facilities arrived, the horses had come around again. That is something of which the new Authority must be aware. Safety on some race tracks must be improved from the point of view of the jockeys and the crowds. At some of the larger and at holiday meetings, crowds tend to spill out on to the race track at the fences, especially at meetings like the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse.
I am sure the Minister is aware that many race tracks seek extra funding for development plans — few race tracks do not have development plans. This is an opportunity to provide the necessary funding. The Minister should consult with his colleague, the Minister for Trade  and Tourism, Deputy McCreevy, who will have money to spend on tourism. Perhaps racing could be included in a tourism related plan; I am sure those involved would not hesitate to team up to develop plans. It is an area which the Minister might look at. Nobody has given me a hot tip, but those of us who attend race meetings know the hotter the tip, the more likely it is to fail. However, I hope this new Authority does not fail and I wish the Minister the best.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh) Joe Walsh
Minister for Agriculture, Food and Forestry (Mr. J. Walsh): The problem I have at race meetings is that I get more than one tip for each race, I then have a problem deciding which will win.
I thank Senators for their valuable, well informed and sincere contributions to this debate. They were helpful and interesting and were made for the best reasons and in the long term interest of the industry. It is regrettable that we do not have debates on major industries like this more often in the Seanad.
This is a comprehensive and important Bill which refers to most aspects of the industry. It will make important changes in the way the sector is managed and financed. These changes are necessary and the new structure will serve the industry well. For this to happen the new Authority will have to be innovative and give strong leadership.
The point has been made by several Senators that we are in competition with various other sports and entertainment. We need innovation, imagination and the progressive implementation of policies for the future and for the future racegoer. I meet many people who go racing and most of them are hard core racegoers. They enjoy the sport and they are fans of it. Whole families or younger couples are not often seen at the races. Senator Dardis and others mentioned that for example in the Curragh last weekend we saw many people who were there last year and will be there again next year, but in between very small numbers of them are regular racegoers.
 The facilities and the cards at race meetings must be improved. I agree that they are very good in the Curragh and many other places. Very few Irish people like to see three or four horses running five or six furlongs with an odds-on favourite. That is not what they go to see. Senator Sherlock referred to Doneraile point to point and Senator Rory Kiely referred to Kildorrery. I was at a number of point to points this year. The last one I attended was in Kinsale. The crowds of people there were absolutely enormous. The fields at a number of the races had to be subdivided to cater for all the horses there. People were training, breeding and running horses for prizes of around £100. The prize money was very small but the pride in the animal and the pride in the breed and bloodline was sufficient for them. It was totally for the sport. There was very little commercial consideration because again, as Senator Henry and Senator Dardis pointed out, most people who invest in the ownership of a horse do not get a good return on their investment unless they are extremely lucky. It is not a great investment. The return on it is usually negative. There is a well worn story about how to make a small fortune out of horse racing. The way to make a small fortune is to start off with a large one and it will not be too long getting small in that business.
I expect the Authority will examine the possibilities in all of these areas as soon as possible and will take the necessary action to provide a sound revenue base for the Authority. It will then have to decide on the long term investment programme for the use of the funds which it has generated itself and from State funds as well. Racecourses and their facilities would have to be improved and modernised and upgraded. Marketing and promotion also need considerable improvement. Irish Thoroughbred Marketing have done a tremendous job in this area. Senator Sherlock commented on the fact that some owners at least seem to be reasonably happy with the prices they were getting. There has been a general upswing in the industry and as  well as everything else the Irish thoroughbred horse has been promoted in a very professional way by Irish Thoroughbred Marketing.
This legislation should breathe new life into the industry. It will give the industry the impetus it needs and I will not be happy if it is just more of the same. There must be fundamental changes in the industry. It must be brought into the next century. The Authority must ensure that it competes with other forms of entertainment. Radical and pronounced changes are needed, in particular to cater for the modern person and the younger age profile. The age profile of the regular race goer must be from 35 upwards and probably older than that. I seldom see young couples and younger people and people new to the industry apart from some of the glamour events like the Derby or the Oaks.
A whole range of people come to festival or holiday meetings and it is grand to see them enjoying themselves. There is plenty of good racing, usually national hunt steeplechasing and hurdles with a mix of racing and facilities there. Some of our tracks could learn a from this. How can Galway, Listowel and other festival meetings like that present a range and a variety of racing activities to attract people there? Some people might say that it is only done once a year. That is true, but the race tracks in Galway and Listowel are crowded for the week of the races. The turnover on the tote for Galway race meeting must make up a very large proportion of the overall turnover of that organisation.
I acknowledge that there is still some concern about the Government funding aspect of the new arrangement. If I had my way I would earmark a certain amount of money for this industry for the next 100 years. I would like to be able to provide in the legislation for an adequate permanent State contribution of the kind demanded, but this is simply not possible. The same section in this Bill in relation to State funding applies to every other body which receives a State contribution.
In relation to State contributions, about two thirds of total racing revenue  in the last couple of years has come from the taxpayer. It is entirely reasonable that there should be accountability for this money, because if the taxpayers are putting in two thirds of the amount the State is entitled to know how this money is spent and to have some interest in it.
I have many other things to do in the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, but I have an interest in this sport. It has tremendous potential and it will respond to new leadership and to the increased amount of money. It is not possible to do it the way people want to or the way I would like to do it. However, I have given an undertaking both in the other House and here that this contribution from the taxpayer will be forthcoming right into the future and that it should be adequate and appropriate. I have in good faith convinced the Department of Finance and the Revenue Commissioners that the new Horseracing Authority should be tax exempt. I intend to introduce an amendment next year to allow this to happen as an incentive for the new Authority to operate the tote and other fund-raising activities more efficiently so that they can plough revenue raised back into the industry.
We have for this year provided the full level of funding required through the Vote for the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. I am already on record in this House regarding my commitment for future funding. I have already appointed members of the new Authority on an interim basis pending enactment of the legislation. There is a balanced representation from all the various interests of the horse racing industry on it and they have between them a vast depth of skill and experience. I want to see the Authority giving us a return on our investment in terms of a growing vibrant industry, increased employment and, if at all possible, better conditions in jobs in the industry.
Senator Sherlock talked about some of the people in the industry who work extremely hard. It is fine for us to say that Sunday racing is a great thing, but young lads have to get up and muck out the stables on a Sunday morning and  people have to take the horses to the races on Sunday evening and return home with them, wash them down and look after them. They have their whole weekend taken up. We have to consider the unsocial hours worked by those in the industry. It is a seven days per week job and those trainers and owners and people working in it earn their money.
A number of Senators expressed concern about the position of the Turf Club. The position of the Turf Club and the emphasis on the different sectors of the industry is exaggerated. I have spent a great deal of time with the different people involved and through the various different committees and groups. It was not the easiest thing in the world to get them all in the one paddock, but they are there and they are all interested in the industry. I believe that they will work together in a coherent way for the development of the industry. I was very pleased on Wednesday 22 June to hear the new senior steward of the Turf Club, Mr. Michael Osbourne, speak. He is internationally renowned and a fine person in every possible way. He is a little different from some of the former senior stewards in that he is president of the Kildare GAA. I would say he the first senior steward who is president of the Kildare GAA and I hope that Kildare will go on to win the Leinster final on this occasion and——
Mr. Belton Mr. Belton
Mr. Belton: Why not Dáil Éireann?
Mr. J. Walsh Mr. J. Walsh
Mr. J. Walsh: ——they will probably go on to win the All Ireland. It is good to see a person of the international stature of Mr. Osbourne involved and his predecessors did a fantastic job over 200 years. They did it voluntarily and got nothing out of it and often put their own resources into it. Senator Rory Kiely talked about missing race meetings because they clashed with GAA fixtures. It now happens that some of the Curragh fixtures are decided upon having regard to GAA matches around the country.
It is important that Mr. Osbourne said he was fully behind the new Authority. He said that it would make racing more  attractive for a lot of reasons and it would ensure better facilities in that it would be involved in giving capital grants to racecourses to improve facilities and comforts for the clients going racing. He said that horseracing was a great Irish sport which is good value for money. It is my intention that that philosophy will run through the new Authority.
As I implied in my introductory speech, the position of the governing bodies is secured in the Bill. We all recognise the major contribution they have made over 200 years. The bodies are committed to the development of this industry and recognise fully that its potential must be realised to the maximum. The governing bodies will continue to make and enforce the rules of racing and to maintain the integrity of racing in an independent and autonomous fashion without interference from others and will do so with the full statutory backing provided by this legislation.
The provisions in relation to bookmakers and betting have been improved and I hope will lead to the provision of the full range of betting facilities that are sought by the public. Racecourses will now be reviewed every five years and in these reviews I expect the Authority and course management to make every effort to satisfy the demands of the public by way of modern facilities. These should encourage new people to take an interest in this fascinating sport.
I was glad to be able to bring forward a Bill on the horseracing industry which received such strong support from the major sections of the industry and I was glad to hear the welcome to much of the Bill given in the Dáil and in the Seanad by Senators who know the industry and accept that there is need for development. The success or otherwise of the new regime will depend on the industry itself and it will give them every encouragement to progressively move the industry forward.
Senator Cosgrave made a thoughtful and informed contribution, as is fitting from a person from a family with such a long tradition in support of the racing  industry at all levels. The Senator raised the matter of the operation of the tote and the staff and they will all be matters for the new Authority. I will be calling the first meeting of the new Authority on 4 July and I hope to arrange it so that it will not clash with Ireland's football match in Orlando, but if it does not clash I will be there to welcome the new members. In essence, the new Authority will be told to get on with the job it has been invited to do without interference from the Minister, the Department or anybody else.
Senator Cosgrave asked in particular about the new members of the Authority and especially those from the Racing Club of Ireland. The Racing Club of Ireland nominated three members and submitted the nominations to me and I invited one of the members submitted to be a member of the new Authority. I assume that the Racing Club of Ireland submitted three appropriate members who would represent and reflect the interests of that club. I did that in allowing for the nomination of the punter who pays money to go to the racing rather than watch it from their living room. I did not confine it to any one club because a number of members of clubs said that in many racecourses there are good clubs surrounding the management who do a tremendous amount of work and in the future clubs may emerge, so I want to leave it open to the racegoer. In October 1992, when I began my consideration of this matter, I was the first person to have the intention that the punter should be represented on the Authority — the ordinary racegoer who looks for the little comforts at a race meeting. I was glad to have the punter represented and it is untrue to say that this was dragged out of me — an accusation I have read about.
A number of Members mentioned point-to-point meetings. I like point-to-point meetings myself and I am delighted that there is so much interest in them. I will bring it to the attention of the new Authority that there is a great interest in point-to-point meetings in Seanad Éireann. Irish people like to be as close to the horses as possible, not that we  would want them to get too close, of course. I would not like to see them bringing down Mr. Michael Kinane, or anybody else for that matter, while running across the track.
Mr. Mullooly Mr. Mullooly
Mr. Mullooly: A Seanad election is a little like a point-to-point meeting.
Mr. J. Walsh Mr. J. Walsh
Mr. J. Walsh: Yes, a little. I will take up the issue of the extension of the season because in dividing up various races it would be far better if it could be extended. I do not know why it could not be extended, but I will look into the matter.
The question of Mallow was raised and it is an issue close to my heart. I asked the Racing Board if it would look at the position of Mallow and the race-starved race-going people of Cork to see if a track appropriate to the racegoer could be provided in the Cork region. The Racing Board had a look at Mallow. It is a family owned racetrack and the Racing Board negotiated with the family and agreed on the outline of acquiring the track. The principles of that matter were agreed to some time last year. I was happy about that. In anticipation of putting a sizeable investment into it to upgrade the facilities and the track, I put money aside in this year's budget which is there to be drawn down. Since then the detail of that acquisition is taking longer than I and the people in Cork and the surrounding areas would have liked. I would have hoped that a lot of the work would have been done at this stage. Hopefully, the matter will be resolved as quickly as possible.
I referred to a number of aspects of Senator Dardis' contribution. To allay any fears he might have about too much interference, I can assure him that I have no intention whatsoever of interfering other than to ensure that there is an adequate amount of finance made available and that the Department can facilitate the development of the industry. The Curragh racecourse will remain the property and under the management of the Turf Club; this legislation will make no change whatsoever in that regard.
 A number of Members referred to prize money and its improvement. We are not doing too badly in that regard. Senator Dardis pointed out that it is roughly around £7,000, but if we take out the classics or groups it is somewhat less than that. However, it compares more than favourably with the situation in Britain. With a more efficient operation and better sources of revenue the prize money can and will be improved.
Senator Belton referred to the funds allocated to my colleague, the Minister for Tourism and Trade, Deputy McCreevy; I have had my eyes on those funds for some time. I convinced him that he should make an allocation to the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Organisation because there is big export potential for our thoroughbred horses. Indeed, the Minister came up trumps there; Bord Fáilte also made grants available to Punchestown. He was also deeply involved in attracting the World Equestrian Games which will be held in that location in a few years time. My colleague is certainly making his contribution in that regard.
This is an important Bill. The contributions made in this House are important and I will take them into account. I know they were made for the best reasons, namely, the improvement and development of the industry.
Everybody cannot be entirely satisfied by what one does in this life and the same would apply to this Bill. The membership of the new Authority fairly reflects all aspects of the industry. I would like to have seen more Cork people on the nominations that came through, for example, but it did not happen. There might have been more Galway people on it, but that did not come through the system. However, it is broadly representative of the industry. There is enough skill and experience among those on the Authority to do a good job, with the right motivation.
The same would apply to the North of Ireland. I often go to horseracing in the North. I know Jim Nicholson, a fine person who has done a professional job with the Down Royal racecourse. It is Government policy — I have no problem  with it — to have a gender balance requirement on boards. I am pleased there are five women on this new Authority. I defy anybody to say that any of these women did not deserve to be appointed. This is not the case.
I had no interest in the political affiliation of any member of this Authority. Indeed, I would have been happier if no reference had been made to it. I know for sure that there is no comhairle ceanntar member on it.
Mr. Belton Mr. Belton
Mr. Belton: Is the Minister saying there are no paid up comhairle ceanntar members on it?
Mr. J. Walsh Mr. J. Walsh
Mr. J. Walsh: I suspect that if one went through the voting pattern of the Authority, it would be a varied one. My only interest was in the calibre of the people selected. I am confident they will do a good job for the industry. If they do not succeed, it will be me, as Minister, who will suffer because I appointed them and I will stand over it. As the person representing the taxpayer, who contributes two-thirds of the total revenue to the industry, I am entitled to a choice in the matter; I am as entitled to have as subjective a choice as any commentator or scribe. The responsibility for this industry will lie on my shoulders and I hope this will be the case for some time to come. I certainly look forward to the further development of this industry. It is already at a high standard of development here. Not alone do I have the responsibility on behalf of the taxpayers and the Government, but I enjoy the sport. I have a personal and vested interest in ensuring that there will be more varied facilities available when I have more leisure time on my hands, to continue to enjoy horseracing for many years to come.
Question put and agreed to.
Acting Chairman (Mr. R. Kiely) Acting Chairman (Mr. R. Kiely)
Acting Chairman (Mr. R. Kiely): When is it proposed to take Committee Stage?
Mr. Wright Mr. Wright
 Mr. Wright: It is proposed to take Committee Stage at 10.30 a.m. tomorrow.
Committee Stage ordered for Thursday, 30 June 1994.
Sitting suspended at 4.25 p.m. and resumed at 6 p.m.
Seanad Éireann 140 Irish Horseracing Industry Bill, 1994: Second Stage.