I beg to move:—
"That in the opinion of this Dáil it is essential that an Order should be made enforcing that a stated minimum of the arable land on each agricultural holding shall be tilled."
I have brought forward this Motion because I think it is necessary that there should be compulsory tillage in Ireland to give much needed employment to landless agricultural labourers. Now there are at least 10,000 and possibly more agricultural workers in Ireland at the present time unemployed and these people will continue unemployed unless something is done by this Dáil to relieve their wants. We think that the best thing to do in the present circumstances, seeing that the land of Ireland is owned by private individuals and that these private individuals are not willing to do what is necessary themselves, we of this Dáil should compel them to do it. We had a precedent in 1917 when the British Government passed the Corn Production Act, one of the terms of which insisted that a certain percentage of the arable land in this country should be tilled. As a result of that quite a number of farmers tilled considerably more than had been in the Schedule. They did that in the interests of the British ruling classes and the capitalist classes who were engaged in the European War and who were trying to bring that war to a conclusion beneficial to the capitalists of Great Britain. We think they ought to be equally willing to till a certain portion of their land to keep a certain portion of landless labourers in Ireland from dying from starvation. In 1920 and 1921, as a result of the going out of operation of the Corn Law 370,000 acres went out of tillage, and as a consequence 10,000 labourers have been disemployed. We heard last week in some of the Debates that unemployment was responsible in a good many cases for irregularism in Ireland. That was put forward by Mr. Figgis and others and they urged that there should be some measures taken to relieve unemployment. We think that ought to be taken into consideration by the Members of this Dáil, and that they should agree to the Motion before the Dáil at the present time. We know very well there will be many farmers in this Dáil and throughout the country who will object to it. All farmers are not tarred with the same brush, but unfortunately they would object to anything coming from Liberty Hall. Some years ago, some members of the Farmers' Union said there were not enough of lamp-posts in Ireland to hang the agitators from Liberty Hall. At the same time other Members of this Dáil, who are not farmers, will, I am sure, consider the Motion without prejudice, even if it did come from Liberty Hall. I beg to bring it before the Dáil, and I trust they will give it the consideration it deserves.