THE ACTING-PRESIDENT read the Reports of these Committees which showed that the Agricultural Department had been engaged in developing the details of the scheme for the acquisition of untenanted land for allocation amongst landless men and uneconomic holders and the preliminary arrangements were approaching completion. The establishment of a Land Bank to provide the Financial assistance necessary for the promotion of this scheme was also being undertaken.
The arrangements for Arbor Day has been almost completed. The assistance of local bodies, the Sinn Fein Organisation, Colleges, Convents, etc., had been secured in the organisation of the Planting programme. Trees had been procured from nurserymen and supplied to Sinn Fein Cumainn and others and expert advice regarding planting had been provided. Owing to the mildness of the weather it was found necessary to defer the holding of Arbor Day until 29th November.
The motion for the adoption of the Reports was formally moved and seconded.
J.N. DOLAN (Leitrim Co.) said that the question of organising the Agricultural Loan Bank should be taken up at once, and that practical steps should be taken to settle on the land the people who would otherwise have to emigrate. He moved:
"That the Dáil authorises the Minister of Agriculture to complete as soon as possible the necessary machinery for the Agricultural Bank, and that the sum of £200,000 is hereby voted for the same, and may be drawn on by the Minister as required, provided the money is at the time available."
DR. CROWLEY (Mayo N.) seconded the motion. The matter was very urgent in Mayo. Farms were being put up for sale by private individuals. Some of these farms would be bought by graziers and the old conditions of things perpetuated. The effect on the country of the purchase and distribution of these ranches by Dáil Eireann would be very great.
E.J. DUGGAN (Meath S.) whilst admitting the urgency of the Land problem said it was clear that nothing could be done until sufficient money was available.
P.J. MOLONEY (Tipperary S.) said there were 300 acres of land on the banks of the Suir which he would like to see in the possession of the young men of the district.
J. O'MAHONY (Fermanagh S.) observed that the Joint Stock Banks would be glad to lend money to local men who could provide security for its repayment.
THE ACTING-PRESIDENT replying stated that the Bank could not be started without having a substantial capital behind it. If the Director of Agriculture used the capital as it came in there would be no Bank left to him. If there were £50,000 available the Bank might be started.
CATHAL BRUGHA (Waterford Co.) stated that the Director of Agriculture should be empowered to make use of the money as it became available to acquire land straight off.
W.T. COSGRAVE (Kilkenny N.) observed that the Director of Agriculture had stated that it would take at least six months to get the Bank going.
Dr. CUSACK (Galway N.) mentioned that many of his constituents had been making inquiries as to when the scheme would be ready.
DAITHI CEANNT (Cork East) was in favour of the allocation of a certain sum to be available in urgent cases. They should give a lead and show that something was being done in this direction.
Alderman T. KELLY (St. Stephen's Green) suggested that some practical steps could be taken through the medium of the Sinn Fein Bank during the interregnum. The new Bank should be firmly established before it proceeded with the work before it.
The ACTING PRESIDENT.—The sum of £1,000 which you have voted under this head is for initial expenses. If we start this Bank on a small basis it will be a failure. The Bank cannot be started in 2 month's, or in two months' or in three months' time. I hold that, as three-fourths of the people are agriculturists, the Land question is the biggest question we have in Ireland. I would suggest that the motion might be adopted with a direction leaving it to the discretion of the Ministry to advance funds as soon as it is considered advisable, and when there are sufficient funds at their disposal. We have no idea when we may get the money which is now being raised in America. To decide at present to devote any definite sum such as £200,000 would be an impossible proposition. What should be done is to adopt a proposal empowering the Ministry to deal with the whole question in the manner I have suggested.
The House concurred with the Acting-President's suggestion.
The Agricultural and Forestry Reports were then adopted.