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Cattle Fund

Volume 320: debated on Monday 22 February 1937

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Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That a Supplementary sum, not exceeding £100,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1937, for a Grant to the Cattle Fund."

11.12 p.m.

Early last year when the original Estimates for 1936–37 were approved by Parliament, the subsidy payments under the Cattle Industry (Emergency Provisions) No. 2 Act, 1935, were due to cease on 30th June, 1936. Accordingly, the original Estimate of £1,069,000 covered only the three months of April, May and June. The Cattle Industry No. 2 Act, 1935, provided an extension of the subsidy up to the beginning of November, 1936, on an order made by the Minister and approved by Parliament. An order made on the 15th June, 1936, extending the period to 31st October, 1936, and a supplementary estimate for further funds from 1st July, 1931, to 31st October, 1936, became necessary. When the supplementary estimate was presented in July, 1936, it was foreseen that permanent legislation could not be passed before 31st October, 1936, and that an extending Measure would be necessary. Therefore, under the Financial Resolution preceding the Cattle Industry (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1936, a supplementary estimate in July, 1936, made provision for Cattle Fund for the remainder of the year to 31st March, 1937. The additional sum was £2,930,900, making £3,999,000 for the financial year 1936–37.

The further provision of £100,000 makes the total provision for the year £4,099,000. That extra sum is needed because of the increased number of animals certified from August to December last year. It was anticipated that 668,000 cattle would be certified in this period compared with 661,000 in the corresponding period in 1935. In fact 691,000 cattle were certified. The Committee will realise that it was difficult to forecast precisely the number of animals presented and qualified. The figure depends on the number of home-bred cattle and the number of imported stores eligible after three months. The increase between August and December was due to the increase of store cattle from the Irish Free State in the first nine months of 1936 compared with 1935, this increase being partly offset by reduction of stores from the Irish Free State in the last three months of 1936 compared with 1935. Mainly for the reasons stated more cattle came forward than we anticipated when the July Supplenientary Estimates were framed. As the additional sum for which we are now asking is only 2½ per cent. of the total Estimate I think the Committee will agree that it is reasonable in view of the impossibility of making an adequate and precise forecast of the amount required.

11.16 p m.

It is necessary to point out that the statement just made by the Minister of Pensions proves what we on this side have argued in regard to this subsidy. The fact that this additional sum of £100,000 is required shows as we said that the present method of subsidy is putting additional cattle on the market. Instead of doing what we want it to do, namely, to improve the quality of the animals the subsidy has up to the present actually put a larger number of animals of an inferior quality on the market and helped to defeat to some extent the purpose which was in view. As there is to be an amendment of the basis of administration of the subsidy, we shall not tonight make a long protest against this Supplementary Estimate such as we otherwise would have made. On the details of the Estimate, it would be interesting to know what steps the Government propose to take with regard to the item in respect of compensation for injury to members of certifying authorities. Is this provision by way of premium for insurance to cover any possibility of injury or is it a request to the Treasury to provide £300 in respect of ex-gratia payments actually made in cases of injury? If so, it is a rather heavy charge and some better care ought to be taken with regard to these matters than apparently has been taken up to now. If animals are taken to certification centres there ought to be some arrangement to secure that they do not injure people. It ought not to be difficult to do so and in any case the Government ought to proceed by way of premium and insurance rather than specific payment.

Question,

"That a Supplementary sum not exceeding £100,000 be granted to His Majesty to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1937, for a grant to the Cattle Fund,"

put, and agreed to.