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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 19 Jun 1923

Vol. 3 No. 29


Motion made and question again proposed:—"That this Bill be now read a Second Time."

I suppose, like every other Deputy who has spoken, I should congratulate the Minister upon introducing this Bill. I congratulate him, certainly, on the fact that he is in a position to introduce this Bill in an Irish Parliament, and that we have here to-day an Irish Minister introducing such a Bill into an Irish Parliament. The fact of his being able to introduce this huge measure in our own Parliament must make plain to every citizen in the State, and to people outside of it, also, the importance and the nature and scope of the work which is placed in the hands of the people of this country. Everybody ought to realise that this State is given the power to do good or to do evil. Every Deputy knows that, and this is one of the measures that ought to bring it home to the people.

On the Bill itself I do not know that I can congratulate the Minister. There are some of the terms of the Bill that I do not agree with. The Bill is not new. The principle of this Bill as regards compulsion and everything else was agreed, for instance, in 1918 and again in 1920.

As regards compulsion, yes, but the terms are different, I admit. The Minister, to use his own words, said, "We are meeting the position put up by the unpurchased tenants of the Saorstát, to force a Land Bill and to force an ending of this trouble." We refuse to pay rent, and we refuse to pay anything, in future, but annuities. I admit the Minister has met that fairly. The great question is that the agreements of 1920, and their monetary consideration, must be radically altered, and are, to a certain extent, altered by the conditions that prevail now in 1923. Anybody who has an eye to see, or who pays any attention to matters moving around, must know that the conditions in 1918 and in 1920, as compared with now are radically changed. The agricultural position is different altogether to-day from what it was then. Anybody who looks around the country to-day realises that the economic conditions that prevailed then, and the rates of the figures of purchase that prevailed then, are not obtaining to-day, and anybody who observes the burden that the State has to bear will be struck with the difference between the position prevailing now and what prevailed then. The purchase figures must be calculated so as to meet this difference. There is a good deal of sympathy here for one class of the community—the landlords. Some people call it "justice" and other people call it "fair play all round," and even some go to prove the innocence of these people. I have seen it stated in the papers that these people did not obstruct land purchase, and did not interfere with these things at all, but helped land purchase in every way. I have a letter here received by a tenant after the passing of the Wyndham Act. It is dated February 8th, 1905, and it is addressed to a gentleman named John Flynn. It is in reply to a letter demanding the right to purchase under the Wyndham Act, and it is only one, out of a hundred or a hundred and fifty similar letters that we could produce, and it reads:—"Sir, You may inform those, in whose behalf your letter appears to have been written that I have no intention of selling my property, and no intention of reducing rents, because sales have taken place on neighbouring properties, and, under these circumstances, I cannot receive a deputation to discuss such subjects. I may add that any of my tenants who want to see me can do so individually at any time." That is a sample of the attitude, one out of hundreds, of, those people towards every Land Act that was passed.

Now, with regard to the question of price, the price set out in the Bill falls very far short of the demand we put forward, and that applies both to price and arrears. I will deal with the question of price first. They are not even as high as the prices put up by Father Maguire on behalf of the unpurchased tenants of Co. Monaghan. These were 45 per cent. on first term rents, 40 per cent. on second term rents, and 35 per cent. on third term. Even that, which was the smallest demand of any county in Ireland except one, has not been met.

Deputy McGoldrick told us on Friday last a good deal about figures. I am sorry he is not here this evening, because I would like to have a talk with him about his figures. Can he deny, or can any Deputy in the Dáil deny, that a purchased tenant under the 1903 Act of a first term rental has benefited more by a reduction than the capital sum of less than 4.20 or not more than six years' purchase? Any purchaser under the 1903 Act could not be in receipt of a capital sum of less than 4.20, or more than six years, that is to say, that to the extent of a little less than four and a quarter of the capital sum he is better off than the man who never purchased. Four and a quarter years' purchase is a big thing as regards the financial position of the unpurchased tenants of this country, and would be a big thing now if taken into consideration with regard to this Purchase Bill. If four and a half years' purchase, with the rate of interest at 4½ per cent., were taken into consideration now, it would bring the present price to the unpurchased tenants of the country down to about 9½ or 10 years' purchase. I would like to know what Deputy McGoldrick based his figures on when he said that there was only a point in the difference as between 35 per cent. and 36 per cent. I would like to know what he was talking about. Was he making a comparison as between the time when the interest on purchase money was 2¾ per cent., compared with 3 per cent. or 4½ per cent. now? With regard to arrears, the Government has put it in their Bill that three years' arrears are to be considered, subject to a 25 per cent. reduction. On the Committee Stage we, acting on behalf of our people, will submit an amendment that only two years be considered instead of three, and that these two years' arrears be subject to a 40 per cent. reduction; adding one year to the purchase money, the other to be paid in cash. The majority of the unpurchased tenants of the country are poor men, small holders, with rentals from £5 to £25. Everyone in the country knows that the last three years have not been years of plenty; they have been lean years, and everyone acquainted with the condition of the country knows that men with these small rentals could not have amassed or could not have made money. To ask them now to pay three years' arrears on the purchase of their property would be asking them to do something which it would be impossible for them to do. People engaged in agriculture made no money in the year 1921; the land was worked at a loss, and there was no money made either in the following year, and as far as I can see there is very little money going to be made this year. Men in a small way who had to meet these losses, and who had to face facts and pay their way, had no money laid aside to meet three years' arrears now. If three years' arrears were to be added to the purchase it would mean that these men would have to go to the banks, if the banks were good enough or foolish enough, to give them the money, but what I submit is that you are asking these to do what is impossible. It must be remembered, too, that adding a year's rent to the purchase money now is a different proposition altogether to adding a year's rent to purchase money under the Wyndham Act, when the interest on purchase money was 2¾ per cent., while the present rate is 4½ per cent. Adding a year's rent to the purchase money now would be almost like adding two years under the Wyndham Act, and I ask the Minister to take a note of that fact. Anyone dealing with finance, or dealing with the people, cannot ignore the fact that, adding one year's rent to the purchase money now is equal, almost, to two years' rent under the Wyndham Act. I also want to say a word on behalf of a small body of third-term tenants. They number, I believe, about 5,000. These were men who, when their second term was up, went into the Courts. At that time the country was gradually forcing itself ahead; it was building up reserves and there was prosperity all round. There was security for everyone, and men knew what they were doing, and could make fairly accurate anticipations as to the future. When sowing their crops they could tell almost to within 6d. per barrel as to what they were going to get for their barley and oats, and it was the same as regards the sale of their cattle in the autumn. They could tell almost to within 10/- per head as to what the cattle would realise, and it was the same with the dairy farmer. He knew what his income was going to be. But the position is quite different to-day. No one knows what is going to happen, and there is no security or guarantee for those engaged in the agricultural industry. There is no steadiness in the industry. A man may sow a crop to-day, but someone else may reap it, or even worse, burn it to-morrow. My point is that these third-term tenants ought to be put on the same level as the second-term tenants. I notice from the Bill that there is no provision for lease-holders, except short lease-holders, or future tenants, or holders under fee-farm grants.

Probably that is an omission. It will be our duty as representing the people whom we do represent to put down amendments including all these tenancies, in fact any person who is occupying land at present. We view with pleasure the condition under which those in possession of uneconomic holdings and the landless men of the country are going to get a reasonable and decent way of living. We have been agitating for this and other sections of our people have been agitating before us, and I do congratulate the Government on this ranch-breaking proposal. It is something that has not been contained in any previous measure, and has never before been agreed to, and I do congratulate the Minister for Agriculture and the Government on handling this question in no uncertain manner. I am glad, too, that the evicted tenants—I mean the genuine evicted tenants, not the professional ones who are making capital out of it—will get a fair show, and I hope that will apply not alone to the evicted tenants since 1881, but since 1870, because it was the men who fought since 1870 who made the 1881 position. It was the men who were victimised and had to go on the roadside to draw attention to the condition of things who made this a living issue, and I think we ought to go back to 1870 at least. We demand, and we will put down amendments demanding a 40 per cent. reduction in the three classes of judicial rents dealt with in the Bill. There is no use discussing the question of amendments now, or making speeches about them, but we will put down amendments demanding that reduction, and I think that the majority of this Dáil ought to be with us in making that demand, because I do not think it is asking too much.

With regard to the sporting and fishing rights, I would like to deal with the sporting rights first. I see it is proposed in the Bill to reserve the sporting rights to the Land Commission. I know a little about preservation and about game. I have had a little to do with these matters in my time. It is a different matter altogether when you are dealing with game on untenanted lands or mountains, than it is when you are dealing with the game on the tenanted lands. There may be game on the untenanted lands and mountains in the hands of the landlord, but it is mainly the tenants who have kept any game there is on the tenanted lands of the country. It is the tenants that have preserved these lands and not the landlords. I never knew a landlord to preserve tenanted land. I can conceive no position in which you could look with more certainty to the destruction of game than if you were to make the tenant hostile to your laws. In a short time you would not have a head of game in the country if that were done. Without the co-operation and good will of the occupiers of the land game would disappear absolutely in six months from this country.

It might shorten the discussion if I explain that there are no sporting rights on tenanted land. The sporting rights are on untenanted land.

Then I may take it that it is the intention of the Government that the sporting rights on the tenanted land of the country go to the tenant?

There are no sporting rights on tenanted land.

There are sporting rights on tenanted land in the Co. Wicklow. Drumgoff, Fananerin, Ballinacor, Moniameen, Ballycreen, Sleecit, and Sleeman, are all tenanted mountains and the sporting rights are in the hands of the landlord.

We can hardly argue at this stage about facts.

Am I to understand that the sporting rights on the tenanted land will be given to the tenant?

If that is so, I can guarantee from my knowledge of the people of the country that game will multiply. There are no better preservers of game than the tenants. In my district where I happen to live, before we purchased the property in 1914 there was no game and no preservation. Since that time we have started preserving, and we have got the game, and at the present time we have hares in abundance; we have wing game in abundance, and the only trouble is that we have too much vermin—rabbits, etc. I am very glad that this question of the sporting rights is settled as far as we are concerned. With regard to the fishing rights, inland fisheries are quite a different proposition from the seaboard fisheries or the tidal fisheries near the mouths of the rivers. Our people hold that at least in the fresh water portion of our rivers the fishing rights, which have not been exercised heretofore in many cases—they have been exercised only in a few cases—should go to the tenant. We are not so keen about the fishing rights as about the sporting rights. At the same time our people hold that the fresh water portion of the fishing rights, at least, should go to the tenants in occupation of the land.

There is one clause, in fact there is a series of clauses in this Bill dealing with the powers of the Land Commission, and I think those powers, to say the least of them, would want to be more clearly defined. In fact they ought to be curtailed unless upon explanation we are convinced that they should be retained. We may be taking a wrong view of them. We may not understand everything that appears in the Bill—I am quite certain we do not—but I hope these clauses do not bear the meaning we put on them. We think that the Land Commission is to be given most autocratic powers, and that the matter needs very careful consideration. However, we can discuss that in Committee. With regard to the law proceedings for the recovery of arrears, that question of arrears has been in dispute for years. It became acute recently in dealing with the position up-to-date. There was no law in the country or very little law, and men had brought home to them when the 1920 Bill failed that it was up to them to force the position. They refused to pay rent. It was up to them to force the position so that they would be put on the same level as the rest of the purchased tenants, and no rent therefore was paid. That dispute has been going on. The first public intimation that this Government was going to deal with the question was contained in the speech of the Governor-General.

After a few months it was followed by the introduction of the measure we are now discussing. In other words, the State became an Arbitration Court on this question, and once the State not alone offered to arbitrate but compelled both sides to agree to what they thought right it was the duty of both sides to abide by the result. We abided by the result, but the other side did not. Wherever differences exist among men, in labour or in any other class of dispute, or differences arise between classes and nations, the first thing to ensure a settlement is that hostilities should cease in order to try and create an atmosphere of peace. The State demanded that both sides should agree to the proposal and await the result of legislation. One side has not done that. You cannot have peace and you cannot have an ending to a dispute of any description where one side is carrying on hostilities as they are to-day This war or this meanness, Shylocking, that is carried on aims at over-reaching the Bill and getting at the back of it. It is up to the Government and the Minister for Agriculture to preserve the legitimacy of their child in this Bill so that it will not be born in disgrace with the bar sinister across it. I can conceive no quicker way of creating chaos and disorder in the country than by allowing the landlord community to run rampant by taking advantage of the civil law on this question. We on these benches would not have said a word only that the Government forecasted this measure. We stood for the enforcement of the civil law and we stand for it still and make no apology for our action on the Enforcement of Law (Temporary Provisions) Bill. Deputy Nagle went down to Cork and asserted that he put up an amendment to save the tenants of this country from paying rents. Nothing of the sort was put down and Deputy Nagle knew when he was stating that that he was uttering a deliberate falsehood.

The Deputy must not say that someone was uttering a deliberate falsehood. The Deputy will withdraw that statement.

I withdraw the statement.

There were charges made against me also.

The Minister for Agriculture says that charges were made against him, but there are so many that I suppose he does not want to refute them all.

I do not think that I made any charges against the Minister. We and every other citizen of the country look upon it as our duty to obey this and every other measure introduced by the Government. Every citizen must respect the law and obey the decrees of the legislature from whom he claims protection. I will not say that landlords as a body have not done this, but there are a few individuals here and there who are the worst elements in the community. Some of them to my own personal knowledge are the worst elements in the community. One man in particular has not paid his railway fare for years. The station-master had to pay it for him. I see where this man has issued writs down in Cork and is getting them executed. I hope the Government will give the same protection to the people this man owes money to. They will have a job to recover it.

I think that the duty of the Government—indeed I not only think it, but I know it—is to preserve the status quo, and not to allow this thing to go on any further. This is not an attempt to deny civil rights to these people, but to prevent individuals getting behind the backs of the Legislature. I go further and I ask the Government to insert a clause in the Bill in the Committee Stage, making it retrospective whereby any moneys over and above the terms contained in the Bill will be recoverable, together with all costs, from those people who have been trying to get at the back of the law. I want this to date at least from the last gale day, or perhaps March ought to cover the whole of it, because there have been no executions before that and we do not want to go back further than that. The people want a clause in this Bill making it retrospective whereby moneys that have been extorted by law proceedings, together with all costs, would be recoverable. As to the men who paid voluntarily for the last two or three years, the best they can do is to do without this; I think they deserve no consideration. If this thing is not dealt with satisfactorily we will have to put up a Bill here ourselves though our party is small, rendering null and void all judgment decrees, writs of execution, writs of possession, etc., obtained since the introduction of the Bill.

We will back you in that.

We may not get much support, but that, in our opinion, is what should be done.

With all your faults we will support you.

A suggestion was made here about co-operative farming. I do not want to go into it extensively. Co-operative farming was mentioned, and I think it was asked here that some land should be set aside to test this question of co-operative farming. Now, co-operative farming has been fairly extensively tested already. The National Land Bank balance sheets could give you a lot of information about this question. There are two or three farms that I know that they have bought up and divided; there are two or three farms that they have bought up and employed labour on, and the result has been anything but satisfactory. The result has been simply bankruptcy. I can give instances. There is the Kilcomney farm down near Bagnalstown, and I can give instances of two or three others. I am afraid that in this question of co-operative farming the word "co-operative" does not cover everything. I think that a good deal else beside co-operation is needed, and I hope these things that are required will be forthcoming. If they are not this country will go down in misery and chaos, and people will die from hunger and want. The Minister for Home Affairs made a statement, I think when he was replying to Deputy Vaughan, about the seizure for rent and costs down in the County Cork. I took a note of it at the time, and I think it was twenty-five per cent. reduction he spoke about. Well, the twenty-five per cent. reduction would not cover the costs. What I want to know is had the Sheriff any instructions about the amount he had to seize, or had he instructions to take less than the amount of the warrant? I dare say the matter was only a retort by the Minister for Home Affairs. I have sufficient faith in the integrity of the Minister, and of the Government, to believe that they would not be a party to a swindle of this kind, for it is nothing less than a swindle. It is trying to swindle the people of the country and to get the better of the Legislature.

We are satisfied to abide by the Bill when it is passed, but we are not satisfied that any section should get around in this matter, and take advantage of the Legislature. I will not say any more about this question because I do believe that no member of the Government would be a party to conduct of this sort. There is no excuse for those men. Why should there be writs if there is going to be legislation? Why should there be force? There is another important question on this Land Bill to which I do not think attention has been paid in this Bill. In this Bill provision has been made for the maintenance of the waterways and embankments. That is all very well, but there is a bigger matter than the maintenance, and that is putting into proper order the water-ways. Those have been attended to years ago. All over the country to-day they have been allowed to fall into neglect, and they have been neglected for the past fifteen or twenty years, with the result that the condition to-day is that the land is deteriorated and flooded. Provision for the maintenance of present conditions would not be sufficient. It is practically a question of reconstruction, and I should ask the Minister to pay particular attention to this:—That these water-works should be put into a proper condition and then a sum set aside for their maintenance. There is also a question of turbary. I assume if the turbary is going to be taken either off the landlord, or the tenant, who acquired it under previous Acts, that the present owner or occupier is going to be compensated, and compensated to the full amount taken from him. I take that as a matter of course. The statement of the Minister with regard to the appointment of a Committee and the date of the Vesting Order is, I think, satisfactory, inasmuch as I take it that the annuity will, to all intents and purposes, be payable as from the appointed day. That is satisfactory. We could not ask for anything better than that. The only thing we ask for is that the appointed day be as near as possible to the passing of the Act. With regard to Deputy Johnson's arguments, I think I dealt with them before.

On several occasions.

I would like to deal with them again. In passing, I may mention that we are not sorry for supporting the Enforcement of Law Bill. I think it has done a great deal of good in the country. We would not question the operation or the Civil Law now were it not that this measure is being considered by the Legislature. There is not enough, and never has been enough, value put upon the improvements carried out by agriculturists in the country. The land, such as it is—its quality and productiveness, and everything in connection with it—is the result of the tenant's labours. It is his labour, and that alone, that has made the land what it is, and I maintain that enough of value had not been placed upon the improvements for which the tenant is responsible. The Land Commission always took matters as they found them. The man who farmed badly invariably came out best, and the man who farmed well never had his labour taken into consideration, not to speak of the amount of manure put out, and the attention he had to pay when improving his place. It is a general principle in this country at the present moment to take everything as you find it. If the original value on a good many properties that I know of were taken—their valution prior to the labour and improvements of the last forty, fifty or a hundred years—they would be next to worthless; they would not be worth sixpence an acre to-day. That applies more to property in the West than to property in the Midlands. Men have made good land on top of rocks, and the landlord is now asking for rent in respect of that land. He never asked for rent for the rocks, but when good land was made on top of them we are told that it is only justice to compensate the owner. I am not exaggerating when I say that in fixing rents there was never full consideration given to good and bad husbandry. I desire to emphasise that I have experience of at least thirty years visiting land with Commissioners, while some of the gentlemen who talk about justice were in pinafores. It is nobody's fault to be young; they will be getting good as they grow older. Another matter I wish to dwell upon is the amount of money advanced—£3,000, or whatever it is going to be. It is all right for a purchaser under the new Act purchasing his property, but if he happens to purchase under the 1903 Act it will be quite a different proposition. There is much less of a capital sum now required at 4½ per cent. than there would be under the 1903 Act. A man purchasing now could purchase more land—a sixty, seventy or a hundred acre farm—whereas a man purchasing partially under the 1903 Act and partially under this Act, could not purchase the same amount.

Because more of a capital sum is required under the 1903 Act, than there would be under this.

Because the landlord was getting a lot more.

He got it at 2¾ per cent. under the Wyndham Act. It is not because other Governments gave him a lot more that we should follow suit. They would not be on equal terms—a part purchaser under the Wyndham Act and a part purchaser under this Act. I think that is admitted. There is another aspect to this question, and that is whether a man who has already given up to the limit, or near the limit, for a holding, and who has three or four or five sons who are of age, can make the property over to those sons. This can be dealt with easily. I know any amount of people with sons 18 or 19 years of age, and the sons could not be made purchasers except the father purchases in trust for them. In all fairness a provision ought to be put into the Act by which the owner ought to be allowed to purchase in strict trust for his sons. First of all the man is only dealing with his own property, and secondly it spares the State any additional trouble in the way of finance or otherwise. It is a question that settles itself, and the gospel of charity beginning at home ought to apply in this case above all others. I would ask the Minister in his statement to remove a suspicion. There is suspicion amongst people in the country—suspicion not well grounded, I may say—but the facts of the situation lend themselves to suspicion. That suspicion is with regard to the recovery of arrears. Nothing could create more suspicion than lending the Army to collect arrears at the present moment. Even lending the forces of Civil Law is arousing suspicion, and I ask the Minister to end it. I do not hold that suspicion, but I am speaking for the rank and file, and I am endeavouring to tell you the way they think about it. With regard to justice—justice seems to me to be based upon previous Acts. The Blue Books of the recent Conferences giving the history of previous Acts have been always laid on the table in any Conference we have ever had. I take it, it is from this basis that justice is understood. We must remember justice dealt out in those cases was dealt out by an English Conservative Landlord Government. The 1903 Act is a Conservative Act fathered and sent out by George Wyndham, and there were other Acts. I do not think that these Acts were meant to do justice to the tenants. They were meant to be as much as could be extracted from them, and I do not think that is a basis to measure justice upon. I think all these Acts were good bargains for the landlords, excellent bargains. A good deal of praise has been given to the 1903 Act. I do not think it deserves it. The only praise I think you could give would be to the fool Government on behalf of the fooled people who put on big bonuses they paid under this Act. It is said that a good many of the landlords in Ireland to-day do not mind about the operation of this measure; that they are rich, but that a good many others are not able to pay their way and are poor. I believe that is true. But are we to pay for the sins and crimes of every waster, and his father before him, and his grandfather. perhaps, before him? What obligation is there that a man in any business should be recouped for the sins and crimes he committed? It is a crime for any man to waste the substance of his family. Everyone who knows the history of the social life in London and Dublin knows what these people have done in the way of squandering and wasting. They are wasters and nothing else. I do not think it is up to this Parliament, or to the Parliament of any nation, to make good the crimes of the wasters at the public expense.

Give them the dole.

It would be good enough for them. The question of the non-judicial tenants is rather a knotty one, and I give my full support to the Minister's method of dealing with it. It could not be based on a flat basis. It could not be done in justice with any honesty to the State and to the public purse. This question of non-judicial rent can only be fixed by a Commission if the State wants to secure itself, and the State must secure itself. A Commission has never gone out on these lands; a fair rent has never been fixed, neither First, Second nor Third. All these things must be taken into consideration, and if the State wants to secure itself, as I for one will insist that it will, it is only by a Commission going out, as the Minister has suggested, and taking into consideration the operations of all the previous Land Acts and the operations intended by the present Bill. Land, like every other business, must be valued when you come to take it in terms of purchase, not at what it is fetching on the market in Ireland at present. The English standard of what it is fetching in the market would be more right, but apart altogether from what it is fetching, the value of land must be taken from the revenue derived from the land. It must be taken from the amount of profits derived from the use of it. That is the only criterion for arriving at the value. What are the conditions in England to-day for better land? What are the conditions in England for farms when maintained and put up and kept in the highest state of efficiency by the landlord? What are such farms selling at? The English are a business people and the Irish are not. They have only one outlook on life; they have only one means of fulfilling the human destiny, and that is settling on the soil. You know what I mean by "human destiny." A man, like a nation, does not want to die out. He wants a home and is prepared to pay for it, not at its market value, but to give him a home, and that is the reason why land is costing as much as it is. In England it is quite a different proposition. It is dealt with there on purely business lines. There you have farm after farm well kept, beautiful homes, beautiful approaches, perfect drainage and fencing, and all this put up by the landlord, selling at less than Irish land under this Bill. I hope that the Dáil will take into consideration the full merits of the amendments which we are going to put up to this measure. It is an honest attempt, but it does not go quite far enough. We differ over this idea of justice—the Minister and our people. We want a little more, and we hope that little will be made good. It has been stated that the prices were agreed on in 1918. They were, but the conditions in 1918 differed from the present. The price a commonsense business man would have given in 1920 and 1918 he would not think of giving now. What was business in 1918 would be suicide or madness now. I hope that the Minister for Agriculture will deal with this vexed question of the arrears. All the other matters can be dealt with in Committee, but this question of arrears is urgent, intensely urgent. There is nothing but unrest in the country. It is as much as we can do to keep our people within the limits of the law. There is any amount of opportunity for lawlessness if we had not our people under control. They are under control and they are obeying us loyally and acting under our instructions, though not perhaps in every instance, but really, to take them as a whole, they have been very good and better than any other section of the community. I hope the Minister will deal with this question. If not we will have to introduce a Bill to deal with it.

I am very much disappointed with this pronouncement of the leader of the Farmers' Party in the Dáil. I am grievously disappointed. This morning's newspaper contained the announcement that Mount Etna was in eruption. I felt that this was the sympathy of nature with the affairs of man, that the leader of the Farmers' Party, like Nicholas Bottom in the play, "has roared as gently as any sucking dove." Occasionally, like the dove with its companions, when there is a little bickering there is a difference of opinion between the leader and his followers in the Dáil. For example, Deputy Wilson told us that the Wyndham Act of 1903 was very much superior, that it was a good Bill, and Deputy Gorey informs us that it was a bad Bill.

Bad for the nation.

The Deputy is very fond of uttering the charge of untruth against statements that are made by his colleagues here. He said just now one thing that was profoundly true. He said that he would count with confidence upon the Dáil exhibiting complete sympathy with the claims of the farmers. I am quite sure that they will. So far as sympathy is of any value to the cause, he has my complete sympathy, but the difficulty is to know how to extend and direct our sympathy, because the exponents of the case speak with such different voices.

We do not want sympathy; we want justice.

You want money.

We have already the land and we want justice.

Sympathy is the prelude to money when it is a question of the good feeling and friendly disposition of those who have a share in the making of laws by those who control the spending of money. I cut out of the "Independent" a very striking letter that was written by way of criticism of some features of the new Land Bill. The writer agrees with it in principle, but says it has some grave defects. They all, by the way, preface their criticisms with congratulations to the Minister. They are all pleased with the Bill only that they are utterly displeased with every section of it. It says——

Name of the writer?

"On the whole, it is an honest effort." Then follow veiled threats and mysterious suggestions. This letter goes on——

Who is it signed by?

It is a signed letter, but I do not think it is necessary to read out the name. However, if Deputy Gorey would like to have the name I will give it to him.

If you quote it in public, you must give the name.

Very good, I accept Deputy Gorey as the censor morum. It was written by Mr. James Haverty, of Moylough. Writing on the Land Bill, he says: “While I agree with it in principle, it has some very grave defects. I do not notice any reference to the large farms purchased years ago under the Ashbourne Act by large shopkeepers, all graziers, and still kept as grazing ranches.” This is the type of criticism to which nearly every measure in the Dáil is subjected to from time to time. Letters are written by people who fail to see, and very properly fail to see, something in a measure which they have not been at the pains to read. There are references to the large farms purchased years ago under the Ashbourne Act, and the references become very interesting in connection with the speech of Deputy Wilson. Section 21. Sub-section 3—one of the most interesting sections in the entire Act—takes power “notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing Sub-sections, where the Land Commission declare in the prescribed manner that any land wherever situated herein-before excluded from the operation of this Section, is required for the purpose of relieving congestion, then such land shall vest in the Land Commission pursuant to this Section.” I should have thought that the Farmers' Party would be very chary about proposing any interference with lands previously dealt with under earlier Purchase Acts.

On a point of order, I do not think the Deputy knows what he is talking about.

Order, order. Deputy Gorey must not interrupt in this way. If Deputy Gorey wishes to tell somebody that he is ignorant on the matter that is not a point of order.

Very well. On a point of explanation then. This refers to land purchased in the West, where men would be put on better farms.

Deputy Gorey is now proving like the correspondent I am reading, that he is not aware of all the Act contains. I suspected it before, and I am sure of it now. I will give him full proof before I have sat down that he does not know what is in this Act. If he did he would not have made the criticisms that he has committed himself to in this Act. Section 21, sub-section 3, confers power on the Land Commission to take land required for the purpose of relieving congestion on lands anywhere. When interference is necessary for the reform of the condition of the very poor among those who live upon the land how jealous and how attached the man becomes who already has a good farm. Let me read from Deputy Wilson's speech. Deputy Wilson knows his own mind and is able to state it with absolute clearness—"Then there is the question of the omnipotent power which is to be given to what in future they will call the Land Commission, the power to take land anywhere and at any time." Deputy Wilson, by the way, knows what is in the Act when he uses those words. I want to know what rules and regulations are there, and how the powers of the Land Commission are to be defined. Deputy Gorey wanted also to have the powers of the Land Commission more strictly defined, but he was content, like the bee with the flower, to touch upon it and fly away. Deputy Wilson is not afraid to speak his full mind on the matter and reveal what it is that troubles the hearts of those critics. It may be that the land of a working farmer would be required for the purpose of what would then be described as the common weal—let us plunder the landlord, let us dip deep into the Exchequer and beware of redressing the iniquities of uneconomic holdings, and beware of interfering with turbary, bought under previous Acts. You may gild what you do under the name of interest for the common weal—

I will not allow the Deputy to place a wrong interpretation on my words.

Deputy Gorey is not being quoted at all.

In dealing with turbary, I said I hoped a man whose land was taken would be compensated, and nothing more.

As one of the Deputies most nearly concerned in this criticism, I would like the Deputy to remember that I said the working farmer. Remember that. That makes all the difference.

He does not want to remember that.

I do want to remember everything. I hope Deputy Gorey will find I have an unpleasantly accurate memory for all he says. With Deputy Wilson I have no quarrel My heart goes out to Deputy Wilson in the criticism and views he expressed. He knows his own mind, and states it frankly. One would imagine to hear Deputy Gorey, that the chief thing that disturbs the sleep of a farmer is what is to become of his sporting rights. What a sense of proportion! Five-sixths of the Deputy's speech this afternoon was made up of lamentations about sporting rights, and how they would be secured, and the remainder was his reiteration of the question of arrears. There, of course I am with him. One would imagine to hear those speeches that we are in the presence of a highly revolutionary Act. They all congratulate the Minister on introducing this Bill, but they do not tell us what extraordinary alteration there is in the attitude of a Minister dealing with the land question here in this Bill, and the attitude that was ever taken, or dare to be taken, by any land reformer such as Mr. Wyndham, who was highly sympathetic, so far as an English Minister could be, or dared to be. Let me call Deputy Gorey's attention to some of these highly revolutionary items in the Bill. I take Section 21, which, speaking with professional interest, is a marvel of perfect draftsmanship. Section 21 says that "Subject to the provisions of this Act and notwithstanding anything contained in any other enactment, all tenanted land wherever situated, and all untenanted land situated in any congested districts county and such untenanted land situated elsewhere as the Land Commission shall, before the appointed day, declare to be required for the purpose of relieving congestion or of facilitating the resale of tenanted land, shall by virtue of this Act vest in the Land Commission on the appointed day." It then reserves from the operation of that, very cleverly, a number of types of land, and then at sub-section 3 proceeds with absolutely unmistakable clearness and sequence to say over what land the Land Commission shall be at liberty to exercise that power. That is in fact confiscation. I am not calling it confiscation to complain of it, but only being in the habit of calling things by their names, and loving to see a thing as it really is. I like to call it confiscation—confiscation which we will all, no doubt, applaud. I now turn to Section 35, sub-section (d), article 5 “Any holding which in the opinion of the Land Commission ought to be retained.” Now, that is in connection with the section which deals with a holding up to £3,000. “Any holding which, in the opinion of the Land Commission ought to be retained for improvement or enlargement, or for utilisation in connection with the relief of congestion.” If I were a landlord the only language I could apply to that would be that it was a most arbitrary power—that the Commission is to exercise, and that it can retain for the improvement or enlargement, or for the utilisation in connection with congestion any holding which in its opinion ought to be retained. It is the sole arbitrator, the first and final judge of whether reservation ought to be made or not. Could anything be finer for the relief of the people? Now, I take Section 36, which is the turbary section. “The powers of the Land Commission to make regulations with respect to turbary and bogs on holdings shall be expended so as to include power to make regulations with respect to turbary on any bog whether the owner thereof has or has not an exclusive right to turbary thereon.” Deputy Gorey feels the pinch there on his class. No claim of right is to exclude the interposition of the long hand of the Land Commission where it is necessary for justice, and making life proper for others who have not been benefited before. That is revolutionary with regard to the rights of property. It is that or nothing. Now, I take another section. Section 54, sub-section 2, article (a) “Provided that where land has become tenanted land, as above defined, by reason of a contract of tenancy entered into on or after the 1st day of September, 1922, if the holding is in a congested district county, the tenancy shall if the Land Commission, before the appointed day so declare, be deemed void as against the Land Commission, and the holding shall vest in the Land Commission as untenanted land.” Again, other stipulations are that something shall not be sold under the Act to the tenant unless the Land Commission certifies that the creation of a tenancy was in the interest of the country. Section 51 appeals to the lawyer, as it sweeps away every disability that was ever known to the law. “Every person who for the purpose of this Act is deemed to have entered into a purchase agreement shall be deemed capable of entering into such agreement, notwithstanding, infancy, lunacy, or any other disability to which he may have been subject.” No expensive litigation, no coming into the Chancery Court, simply with one sweep the infant and the lunatic will be dealt with, and the registration of title proceeds apace. The reference to the infant and the lunatic is rather with regard to the landowner. Deputy Wilson was premature in thinking that I was referring to the farmer. Another excellent item of the Bill about which the Farmer Party were silent is the genuine relief that is afforded, and I recommend their study, by Section 25 sub-section (5), and also Section 29 (a). Deputy Gorey was alive to the operations under Section 27 and Section 28, by which advances may be made to the following persons for purchase by them from the Land Commission of parcels of land. “A person being a tenant of a holding which is not an economic holding in the opinion of the Land Commission; a person who twenty-five years before the passing of the Act of 1903 was the tenant of a holding, and was evicted; a person who being a labourer, and who by reason of the sale of any land under the provisions of the Land Purchase Acts has been deprived of employment on the said land; and any other person to whom in the opinion of the Land Commission an allowance ought to be made.”

An Leas Cheann Comhairle took the Chair at this stage.

It seems to me that the antagonism to doing justice which found expression from the Deputy who spoke last with regard to the confiscation of landlords has overflowed its bounds somewhat—if I may mix my metaphor—and has extended to the Bill itself. There is a great deal being said about the sub-sheriffs and the decrees but very little about the substantial benefits which are being conferred upon every farmer and even landless men in the proposed operations in this measure. An importunate suitor for office to George III made the King ask Lord North "Who is that man?" and the Premier replied "He is the type of man, sir, that if you were to give him for a park Great Britain and Ireland he would ask for the Isle of Man as a potato patch." It is not enough, apparently, that all these things are being done and being done without mention, but there must also be huge reductions and advances. I would be very glad, for one, if we could declare all these arrears done with and sponged out and declare that "on and after the passing of this Act any arrears of rent shall be regarded as paid." But will the Exchequer of the country stand that? After all, there are other taxpayers in the country besides farmers. There are many doles which I would like to give but in the course of a few days I myself will be pleading with the Minister for Finance for further grants to the Universities in order to allow us to live.

I did not suggest that the State should have advanced doles.

I see that I must speak by the card or equivocation will undo us. What is it but a dole? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. I find it difficult to confuse my mind so as to get parallel with Deputy Gorey. Deputy Gorey very generously a few moments ago proposed to come down to the mentality of the common man and I wish he would begin with me and come down to my level because I cannot go to his. If reduction is to be made, where is it to come from except from the Exchequer of the State?

The landlord's pocket.

Then it has to come either out of the landlord's pocket or out of ours.

Not out of yours.

Really, sir, I am quite anxious to carry on a dialogue with Deputy Gorey, if it were in order, but after all there must be some decorum. It comes out of my pocket in so far as I am taxed. Deputy Gorey denies that that is so, which shows that not only does he not know what is in the Bill but what the State is, how it gets its money or from whom, or at any rate that he has that great gift of being able to chloroform a section of his brain so as to be unaware of what it does not suit him to realise. I am reminded of a little rhyme which applied to England originally but it is adaptable:—

Oh that there could in Ireland be A duty upon hypocrisy,

A tax on humbug, an Excise On solemn plausibilities.

We had these solemn plausibilities from Deputy Gorey just now. He would ask us to believe that we the ordinary taxpayers have no concern in this. Why this infamous ten per cent. or the lesser sum about which he has been so eloquent? where do these come from?

I was not eloquent, and and did not open my mouth on the matter.

There is a silence that is more eloquent than speech. Nothing struck me so much as the failure, notwithstanding diatribes about justice and generalities, to come down to concrete facts and discuss figures of the Bill to show what was incorrect or indefensible without quoting the case of felonious landlordism of thirty years ago. One would imagine one was wearing that bib that so offends Deputy Gorey. To cite one of the rhymes that was popular some time ago.

"We will tread the land that bore us

"The green flag floating o'er us,

"The friends, we tried, are by our side,

"The foe we hate before us."

As the Minister for Home Affairs pointed out the other day in retort to Deputy Johnson "every age has its ráiméis"—shall I translate, its humbug. Those landlords are no doubt most objectionable relics of the old regime, and if we could blast them out of their position as one would blast rocks out of a harbour what a delightful thing it would be. Just as if we could give the farmers all the land and if the rest of us betook ourselves to Canada to break virgin soil it would be a grand thing. I would remind Deputy Gorey that there is a General Election coming soon. If he has nothing to go upon but sectional claims and has no general policy, he will come back here with a smaller following than even he has at present. In this matter the Minister for Agriculture has acted as a statesman and not as a party politician. No doubt it would be very popular to go out on the hustings and talk of all the wrongs our peasantry has suffered at the hands of those unmitigated scoundrels. Unquestionably history shows that the landlords under the British regime were a blot upon the land. We are now trying to reconstruct Ireland. We want every citizen here to stay, and cast in his lot with Ireland. We realise that those men in many cases are more sinned against than sinning. I have so aroused the leonine wrath of Deputy Gorey that I may go on and say one little word in mitigation of his condemnation of the landlords who did not sell. Some of them were not able to sell, for the most excellent reasons that their estates were so encumbered that selling would mean becoming a conduit for handing money from one person to another and ruining themselves. That letter Deputy Gorey read is susceptible of a more charitable interpretation than he put upon it. I do not know the individual case. There may be circumstances in the case that would alter it, but as a mere letter it is quite possible that the private affairs of the writer were such that he could not discuss. It would not be likely that he would exhibit his financial position to people who were his natural foes. The fact remains that the Minister for Agriculture is seeking no more than to make tranquillity. He is trying to bring to an end, a quarrel, which if it were to continue would mean that the future of this country would be imperilled very gravely. He is behaving as a statesman in the matter.

The farmers of Ireland are not merely speaking with two voices in this Dáil, but with many voices outside. It would help us very considerably, in the Dáil in dealing with those amendments with which we are threatened, if we could get some measure of illumination from outside. Personally I have stated there is no letter that appears in the newspapers that I do not study with the same care as if my eternal welfare depended upon it, but I find that the writers of those letters, like the speakers of those criticisms, are either unwilling or unable to understand the situation. Some of their figures are extraordinary. They forget, for example, the purchasing power of money to-day. They are hypnotised by the difference between four-and-three quarters and two and a half. They do not realise that two and a half is nearer to six in present values than to four and three quarters. They are not in the world of to-day at all. They are living in another period absolutely. Some of those calculations are grotesque. Only that I feel that I am wearying the Dáil unduly, I would like to give you a specimen of it, and only that it is signed I would think Deputy Gorey had written it himself. This is agricultural arithmetic. "The landlord who sold in 1903 must now weep tears of repentance for being so foolish. He got only two and three-quarter per cent., or if paid in cash he could only invest his money at a time in securities bearing about the same rate of interest." I need not stop to point the absurdity of that. "We know what securities were yielding as a safe investment at that period, so the landlord who gets fifteen years' purchase, and is paid four and a half per cent. is equally as well off in purchase terms as the landlord who sold in 1903 at 24¼ years' purchase." The implication is he ought not to be. What has he done in the interval? "This is, bear in mind, under a Native Government elected by those who are the purchasers. Further, we are now dealing with the stubborn landlord who refused to sell when money was cheap." The writer was aware that money was cheap in 1903, but in the next and succeeding sentence he evidently forgets. That is why but for the evidence before me, I would attribute this to another author. "He has since drawn 20 years' rent from his tenants, who, in turn, will have to pay their annuities for 20 years longer." Again a slip of memory, the reduction in the land Courts which vitiates the entire calculation, the end of which is that an apocryphal tenant called Mike Hennessy is found to be paying £4,000 more than a man who bought in 1903. Here Deputy Wilson I am sure and Deputy Doyle must lament the leader whom they have elected to serve under, because I notice that when they put forward what are reasonable views, he seeks to suppress them. Deputy Wilson, for example, showed the accuracy of his knowledge of the Bill in his speech when he referred to the tenant as paying 4¾ per cent. He was corrected by his leader that it was 4½, whereas, of course, the 4½ attaches to what was the share of the landlord.

Those writers in the papers are not aware that there is a sinking fund. Some of them are not aware that there are no fees for registration.

However, I will take a leaf out of Deputy Gorey's book, and say that at the Committee Stage there will be more to be said. I will bear in mind what happened in the case of the clergyman who was getting a locum tenens, or a local demon as it is popularly called. The new clergyman asked how long he was expected to preach and the answer was: “well there is a feeling in this congregation that there are no souls saved after the first half hour.”

On a point of explanation I should like to know are we to understand that because the Minister for Agriculture may speak, at any time, the debate is thereby to be wound up.


The debate will be wound up by the Minister's speech. Any Deputy who wishes to speak on the Second Reading should speak before that.

I think it right to say a few words in regard to this Land Bill, as I believe I am the only unpurchased tenant in this House.

Oh, no, you are not

I have not a sod of land purchased. I do not belong to the Belton Association or the Fr. Maguire Association, or to Deputy Gorey's Association. My class were not represented at any deputation that came before the Minister for Agriculture, and I could give you one reason or many reasons for that. There was a Farmers' organisation in the County Sligo; that organisation did all it possibly could against us up to 1921, when we were trying to collect the rates, and when the Farmers' organisation sent round the country telling the people not to pay the rates.


The Deputy must confine himself to the Bill.

I must explain my position, and my status, and I think I have a perfect right, as an unpurchased tenant, to bring this matter forward. A very large landlord was Chairman of the Farmers' Union Organisation at that time, and what was more when I did not belong to the Farmers' Union I was told it was illegal for me to be represented on a delegation at any convention that would deal with the unpurchased tenants. Therefore, the unpurchased tenants, of my class, were shut out from any representation on deputations that came before the Minister for Agriculture, and I think it right to bring these points home.

Now I know more about the division of land than most Deputies in this House. I remember in the County Sligo, for it was there the land fight started—I mean the Sinn Fein Land fight agitation—what happened, and I know that there are some members here in this Dáil who were present at a Conference held somewhere between this building and Grafton Street in 1920. All I have to say now, in regard to this, is that I join in congratulating the Minister for Agriculture in bringing forward such a Bill, and I want to congratulate the men of that time and the men since that time that put him in the position to bring this Bill forward and put it in our power to support such a measure when brought forward. I got a communication from a man named Mr. Belton, a few days ago, not to support this Bill as brought forward, until he had become a member of the Dáil; but still I think I would advise the Minister for Agriculture to go ahead. I know the big rocks he has to meet and the little criticisms and the bickerings and the little jealousies that will be going on throughout the country amongst those parties who have not yet been returned to the Dáil.

Now Deputy Gorey speaks about compensation for bogs. He talks about sweat being put into the bogs. I think there is not much sweat put into the bogs, and I think there ought to be very little compensation given for bogs. Of course a reasonable amount should be given, but I do not think it should be much, because no man ever lost a bit of sweat over bogs. Now he spoke about the operations of the law. I know what the operation of the law is with regard to land, and I know the difficult problems that are before the Minister for Agriculture. I know, and would like to advise the people as well as the Minister here, what they will have to deal with in the connection of the division of this land. Everybody will say "we fought for this land and we must get this land." I am sure, although we may congratulate the Minister now, there will have to be drastic action taken with regard to anybody who gets up and says "I fought for this land and I must get it." There must be drastic legislation to deal with all this and all that it involves, because I know, being in the land fight so long, what difficult rocks are before the Minister and what disturbances they may lead to if drastic action is not taken. At the same time I certainly wish to congratulate the Minister on this Bill.

I was watching the Minister for Agriculture during the whole of the time of the speeches that have been delivered, and I have to say that he must be very level-headed because I did not see his head swell in the least despite the warm congratulations he received.

There is a good time coming.

It speaks well for the Minister, and it is very gratifying that he is not suffering any ill effect after the three or four days' speeches made by various Deputies upon this Bill. There are just one or two remarks I wish to make in reference to labourers' cottages. I have not heard any Deputy refer to the matter, or suggest that it was nearly time that the agricultural labourers, who are deprived of any insurance against unemployment, or of any right to out of work pay, should now be included in the Land Bill, and that they should get five acres of land instead of the half acre they have at present. I think that could be done in the Midlands, where there is plenty of available land and large ranches. Deputy Gorey said that the past three years for these people were lean years, but he forgot to say that the previous three years seem to have been very fat judging by the wealth they made from the land in their possession. To my mind the landlords are deserving of all that was said about them by Deputy Magennis and of all the names he was so pleased to call. Now the landlords of Ireland have been looked upon as one of the greatest evils of the country, and, certainly, it is true that owing to the action of the landlords the population of Ireland has been reduced by the emigrant ship which took the best of our people to foreign lands to build up foreign nations.

I do not wish to dwell on the subject at any length, but I earnestly hope that, when the time for payment comes, these landlords will not get any payment that would in any way hamper the tenant, or that, as a result of any payments made to the landlords, the land purchased by the tenants would hang like a millstone around their necks as happened with tenants who purchased land under the Land Bank system. Under this latter system the land in some cases came to £6 15s. an acre on the tenants. With such a rent as that it is impossible for a tenant to make a livelihood. When the ranchers are called on to hand over the land to the original owners who, I claim, are the people of Ireland, I hope the Government will not pay them big compensation, because the ranchers were the men who battered down the homesteads of the original occupiers of the land of Ireland. The ranchers, I hold, should not get huge compensation, nor should the tenants who purchase be hampered with such rents as would make it impossible for them to make a living in the country. There is no use in giving land to a man and fixing such a rent on him as would make him and his family slaves for the remainder of their lives. There is no doubt about this fact, that there are small farmers in Ireland at the present time who, because of the impossible rents that they are called upon to pay for the uneconomic holdings they occupy, are simply slaves, and they are unable to earn a decent livelihood for themselves or their families. I know that anyone who holds half an acre of land in the country has been invited to join the Farmers' Union. I was surprised to hear from Deputy O'Donnell that he was not a member of that Union. I would invite him, if he has no other Union to cater for him, to join ours. The duty of placing people on the land is certainly a very important work, and the necessity for giving people on the land a decent way of making a living will, I am sure, receive the attention of the Dáil and of the Government. The landlords have been looked upon as very bad men in the country, but the times are changing. We are beginning to realise that every individual residing within the Saorstat is a citizen of this country, and we want to treat him as such. It has been explained here day after day that justice will be done to the landlords. I hope that double justice will be done to the tenants. A great many cases throughout the country that call for immediate and sympathetic consideration are those of evicted tenants. These tenants, or their ancestors, were evicted not because they were not the original or proper owners, but because some middleman came along and offered a few shillings per acre more than they were paying for the land, with the result that the landlord evicted them, and, where they resisted eviction, their homes were battered down, and the land they had occupied for generations was turned into ranches. Some of the ranchers we have had in Ireland were people who came over with Cromwell or with his associates. I think it is about time these people were asked to clear out, and to hand over the land to those to whom it really belongs. I would not leave any of them in possession except where they could prove their ownership. I think if one were to go back on past history very few of these ranchers could make any claim at all to the land that they have. Some of the finest land in Ireland in the Counties of Westmeath and Longford is at present in the possession of ranchers. In the county Longford we have an old gentleman, a bachelor, who holds between sixteen and eighteen hundred acres of land. He was never of any earthly use to the Nation. I do not suppose he ever smoked a cigarette because he would have to pay a little duty to the Government if he did so, and he never had the courage to join the "Union of Hearts." I think a man like him should not have possession of such a large area of land. He may have even more land elsewhere. In the county Westmeath there are a couple of old ladies, probably not as bad as the old gentleman I have referred to, who have from 750 to 1,000 acres of land. I ask the Dáil is it right that a poor man, who may be lucky enough to possess a cow, should be summoned for trespass if that cow happens to look over the ditch of a neighbouring ranch, or that the military should come along and take the cow for trespassing. I think the Minister for Agriculture should take into his consideration cases like these in which poor people are suffering great hardship. In my opinion, the first duty of the Government is to look after the landless people, the agricultural workers and all the rest. I hope, when the Committee Stage is reached, that the Bill will be so improved as to give an opportunity to the occupiers of labourers' cottages, and workers similarly situated, to get a little land so that if they are ever knocked out of employment they will have the land to turn to to earn a living for themselves and their families, and so that they may be able to keep a cow to provide milk for their children. If that is done, it will go a long way to relieve the unemployment problem that is at present engaging so much attention. I think it is only fair that the poor should be raised from their present position and given some kind of security, and that the big ranchers should be lowered. Many of these poor people are suffering great hardships, people such as small farmers, unpurchased tenants, uneconomic holders, agricultural labourers and town workers. A great many of them have suffered long before 1916, in fact, since the start of Sinn Féin by Arthur Griffith. Ever since that time a lot of these men have suffered in one way or another in the service of the country. I think these people have suffered quite long enough, and I am sure that this Dáil will fully realise the necessity of putting an end to the sufferings of the small farmer and the uneconomic holder and of giving a way to the labourer to rear his family.

I hope I will succeed in remembering the various points that have been raised during the debate, but I must say I have been saved a considerable amount of trouble by Professor Magennis's answer to most of them. People have done me the compliment of wondering what were my impressions of the debate. The thing that struck me was what a pleasant thing it must be to be in opposition and not to be under the necessity of making sure that one's theories can be worked out in practice. I was invited by Deputy Johnson a few days ago to read The Fall of Feudalism and Stolen Waters.

You had a good week end.

I read them before the week end. I read them before I was under the necessity of introducing this Land Bill. I suppose we all know something of the history of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries apart from any little knowledge we have gained from these books. I am invited to go back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and in addition to reversing the processes or helping to reverse the processes that took place during those centuries I am invited to reverse them by somewhat the same methods that they were accomplished. That is really what Deputy Johnson's advice amounts to, and I am rather surprised to get that sort of advice from the Labour benches. I am not prepared to take that advice. I am not prepared to advise the Dáil that the Land question, or in fact any question, should be settled by going round in a vicious circle. As poetry seems to be the order of the day, shall I say it is the old story, "the good old rule, that they should take who have the power and they should keep who can." I am surprised to receive advice of that sort from the Labour benches. It is true that Deputy Johnson suggested that the equities of the case would be met if we gave the landlords terminable annuities, annuities, he suggested, for a period of twenty-five years. I do not know whether he has taken the trouble to work out the figures, because if he did I think he will find that the cost of terminable annuities of that sort, annuities even for twenty-five years, would not be very much less than the cost of the present scheme.

What about the price?

It would not be twice. However, leave the figures out of account, and let us consider the idea. I tried to make it plain on the First Reading and again on the Second Reading that we are dealing with land that for the last 100 years, and perhaps more than 100 years, has been bought and sold, devised, bequeathed, mortgaged, in a word, treated commercially, and that, consequently, we are dealing not only with the tenant for life with the immediate occupier, but with the owners of his superior interests— individuals, insurance companies, charitable institutions, banking institutions, here, and in England and in America. That is the fact, and it is an unpleasant fact that we simply cannot shut our eyes to. People may draw different conclusions from these facts, but these facts are there, and we must admit them. We are dealing with all these people. Deputy Johnson's suggestion of a terminable annuity would be simply informing them that they could whistle for their money. It would be informing the various banking institutions here in Ireland and in England and America who have lent money on the security of the land and on the strength of existing laws that they were not going to get a penny of it. That is the simple proposition, and I would like to pay Deputy Johnson the compliment of saying that he has taken his courage in his hands and stated his position clearly, so that we can all understand it. But I would like to know what is the position of the Farmers' Party and the other business men, or alleged business men in the Dáil on that question. Do they suggest that now in this Land Bill we ought to give notice to people who have invested money in the past in Irish securities, that they are not going to get it, and that we should give notice to prospective investors that Irish securities are not the proper sort of securities to invest money in in the future? I think we are entitled to an answer to that question. Deputy Johnson, as I say, has made his position perfectly clear on the matter, but I would like to hear from the other parties who have received this Bill with a certain amount of modified rapture. That is the question, and we must have an answer to it before we can get anywhere.

Our answer is contained in our demands, and there is very little difference between them and your terms.

The Farmers' Party have suggested that the price should be based on a reduction of 40 per cent. Of course the duty of an Opposition is to oppose, and I am perfectly sure if the price in the Bill was based on a 40 per cent. reduction that the Farmers' Party would think it their duty to come forward and to ask for a 50 per cent. reduction or a 45 per cent. reduction. I make all allowance for that.

We made our terms before you introduced the measure.

I make all allowance for that, but I think we are entitled to know, as Deputy Magennis asked, what are the processes by which they arrive at this figure of 40 per cent.? I do not know. I have a shrewd suspicion that if there is any validity at all in these processes that they are extremely variable, that they would apply equally to 50 or 60 or 75 or 80 or 100 per cent. In any case if we are talking business let us talk business and let us be told why 40 per cent. I have indicated the consideration which the Government had in mind in the fixing of 35 per cent. I have stated how it compares with previous Acts, and how it compares with the merits of the case at the moment. But we have got no reason whatever for this magic figure of 40 per cent., and we ought to be told it.

While I am on that, Deputy McGoldrick made a point on the last occasion on which this Bill was debated, and he said that the terms which we are giving tenant-purchasers in the Bill in fact compensate them for not having purchased under the 1903 Act. I repeat that statement, and I invite the mathematicians, there are some really marvellous mathematicians in the Farmers' Party, and I invite Deputy Wilson, who was able to prove on the last occasion that £1,505 was something like 20 years' purchase of £100 rent——

I will prove that 15 years' purchase under the Minister's rate of 4¾ was identical with twenty years at 3¼. Twenty years at 3¼ is 65 and his figures are 65 also. That is plain mathematics.

An Ceann Comhairle resumed the Chair at this stage.

The Deputy said expressly on the last occasion on which he spoke on this Bill that we were in fact giving the landlords twenty years' purchase. I am glad he withdraws and agrees we are only giving fifteen years, and in fact we are not paying in cash but in bonds.

The tenant will pay.

In any case there are so many mathematicians on the benches of the Farmers' Party that they should go into the question. If they do they will find a reduction which is something between ten and fifteen per cent. lower than the reduction which the tenants who purchased under the 1903 Act received, that is to say the reduction under this Bill is ten to fifteen per cent. better than the reduction under the 1903 Act.

First term.

On an average first term it would be over fifteen per cent. I am taking the average. If you like put it at 12 or 13 per cent. The tenants under this Bill are getting 12 or 13 per cent. on an average better terms than the tenants who purchased under the 1903 Act, and getting that for a period of between 66 and 68 years. That is agreed. It is not a matter of opinion. It is there in the Blue Books, and any mathematician, as I say, can make it out for himself. I say they are getting a reduction of anything up to fifteen per cent. more than the tenants who purchased under the 1903 Act, and getting that for the whole period of 68 years. The Deputy should capitalise that and compare it with the losses they have suffered, because they have been paying twenty-five per cent. more for the last, say, ten years, striking an average.

There were other Acts before the 1903 Act.

I will come to that. I suggest that we cannot go back and say every tenant in Ireland should have purchased in 1903. Let us take the average between 1903 and 1923—twenty years, and agree that for 10 years they have been paying 25 per cent. too much. Compare their position at the end of the 68 years during which they are getting 15 per cent. better terms.

On a point of order, I would like to know does the Minister refer to voluntary or compulsory sales.

All sales.

Does not the Minister know that 30 per cent. was the average reduction on the first term and 24 per cent. on the second term tenancies?

The Minister knows that the average on the first and second term rents was twenty-four per cent.; but, putting it in round figures I am making it twenty-five per cent.

I must interrupt the Minister. He forgets that the 1903 tenant would be twenty years paying nothing at the back end. He has forgotten that.

The Minister is forgetting nothing of the kind. As I said, I invite Deputies to be frank and to admit that they are talking in generalities, and never went to the trouble to make out the figures. Let them get their pencils and paper now, and take the advantage which the present tenants are getting over the tenants who previously purchased, and take their losses over the time they have not purchased, put one against the other, and come to me and the Dail with the answer.

We will not be believed when we come.


The Minister is so impressed with Deputy McGoldrick's figures that I suppose offhand he will put his price in the Bill. We have succeeded on one point in our amendment at any rate.

I have not mentioned Deputy McGoldrick's figures. I made these figures up for myself. It shows you the irresponsible demands that are put up on occasions like this. We are now apparently to go back, not to 1903, but to the previous Acts of 1885 and 1896. I presume what we have got to do now is to compensate all the tenants, four hundred thousand, who purchased under the 1903 Act for the rent they paid between 1885, when they should have purchased under the Ashbourne Act, and 1907, 1908 and 1909, when they did purchase. Responsible people should not put forward demands of that kind. It is not even a good debating point. We cannot go back and make it up to the tenants who purchased under the 1903 Act for not having purchased in 1885. We cannot make it up to the tenants who purchased under the 1909 Act for not having purchased under the 1903 Act. We do not admit for one moment that we are under a duty to do so, but we do say that we have given them terms which in fact compensate them for not having purchased under the 1903 Act. I have been asked why the Bill does not deal with fee-farm grants, long leases, and leases for lives. These are all fee-simple lands, they are all landlords if you like, who own what we call untenanted lands. They own the fee-simple of their lands; they are home-farms, if you like.

In theory, not in practice.

The farm lands are fee-simple lands, the best title there is. As I say, they are home-farms and entitled to the particular provisions of the Bill that home-farms are entitled to. They could be acquired for the relief of congestion, and I presume they are to be acquired at this 40 per cent. reduction. Are they?

I suppose we will give the same treatment to that class as we will give to any other owner of untenanted land. There is one thing we must learn. It is the only principle of democracy worth fighting about, and that is that one man is as good as another. Whatever treatment we give one owner of fee-simple property, any other owner should and will get the same. It is a debatable point as to whether we could not include within the scope of this Bill fee-farm grants and long leases—leases for sixty years or life leases. I am ready to consider that question. I am just pointing out its bearings on some of the theories which have been put forward by the Farmers' Party. With regard to price, I do not intend to go into the figures again, as they have not been seriously challenged. We have given our reasons for fixing 35 per cent. This 40 per cent. has been put up to us, and I may say I do not take it seriously. If I get facts and figures to justify it, I am willing to debate the matter. I recognise the Farmers' Party is under the necessity of saying 40 per cent. because we have fixed 35 per cent.

We will prove our contention later.

The question of fixing fair rents was discussed on Friday.

Why does the Bill not deal with tithe rent charges? Are those superior interests?

Of course they are superior interests.

The tenants pay them, and they should be dealt with under this Bill.

I do not understand the point. Perhaps the Deputy might remind me of it on the Committee Stage. It has been stated the tenant is not to be allowed for improvements, and the case of Adams and Dunseath has been quoted. I do not think there is anybody very clear as to the effect of that case. I doubt if the Judges themselves are very clear about it. Tenants have always been allowed for improvements, in practice. I have the Pink Schedule here, and Deputy Gorey will know what I mean when I refer to the Pink Schedule. It is the Schedule on which tenants pay rent, as assessed. On one side of it you have set out the annual sum which should be the fair rent on the assumption that all buildings were made or acquired by the landlord, and there are set out details of valuation, etc. Then you have various sub-heads setting out a description of the land, a description of various sections, the rate per acre of each section on the assumption that for the farm as it stands the rent has to be settled as the property appears to the valuer. Then you have sections specifying conditions for buildings, any additions necessitated by special incidence of taxation, and any deductions for inconvenience of access. That is one side. You have the complete schedule there, enabling the valuer to fix a rent on every section and in respect of every easement existing on the holding, and to make deductions in respect of drawbacks of every kind, want of water, inconvenience of access, and so on. Then on the other side you have improvements effected by the tenant, the nature and character of such improvements, present capital value, increased letting value due thereto, the extent to which a landlord has paid or compensated the tenant in respect of such improvement, and deductions from the rent on account of each such improvement. That is the schedule upon which every fair rent is assessed. On the one side you have the rent of the holding, and on the other side the improvements made by the tenant. In practice, the tenant always got the benefit of the improvement which he himself effected.

In the case of the rental, what is left after all those things have been deducted? You have the pure economic rent. Are we to understand that as the deduction?

That is a very nice point and we can answer it on another occasion. I am dealing with the point made the last day that the tenant does not get the benefit of the improvements he makes.

The full benefit.

I need not go any further if Deputies agree that I am correct.

The tenant never did get the full benefit.

With regard to Deputy Johnson's question, the land courts were set up in 1881, and rents have been regulated since by law. I can give the Deputy the average reductions that the tenant got on the first and second rents, and wherever a third rent was fixed, on the third rent. On top of all these reductions we are providing that a tenant should now get a 35 per cent. reduction. All these figures when taken into account and put against one another, really answer the question of whether the annuity at present fixed is what we would call an economic rent.

If that is the economic rent, during the years when there is no economic rent there should be no annuity.

That is another example of how easy it is to propound theories. I would like if the Deputy would suggest some way that would meet all the expediencies of the case and that we could carry into operation. It sounds very nice. As regards the third term tenants, or tenants with fair rents fixed since 1911, we are asked why not give them the 35 per cent. The answer is quite simple. The average reduction which tenants who went into Court after 1911 received was 9 per cent. Take the case of two second term tenants, on whose holdings rents of £100 were fixed in 1900. One of them failed to go into Court in 1911, and remained a second term tenant. He gets a 35 per cent. reduction which brings his rent to £65. The other goes into Court and he gets a 9 per cent. reduction. His rent at present is £91 and he gets 30 per cent. on that, and that brings him to 63.7 per cent. He is 1.3 per cent. better off than the second term tenant. That is the simple reason, and we cannot afford to treat an important question like this casually and fix figures at haphazard.

The reason we are not giving the tenants whose rents were fixed in 1911 the same terms as the tenants who had their rents fixed before 1911 is that the tenants who had rents fixed after 1911 got reductions, which the other class did not get and which leaves them in a better position than the other class now.

On a point of explanation what will happen in those cases where the rent is raised after 1911?

They will live at the loss. Where the tenant went into court and his rent was raised, we must assume that he had an extraordinarily low rent before going in. Very few tenants made such a mistake. Even during the war I do not believe there were two per cent. of rents raised, that is two in a hundred. What I want to impress on you is that we cannot have it both ways. That is you must deal in averages as we propose to do in the Bill or do as they did under the 1903 and 1909 Act, have the Land Commission to enquire into each case. With regard to the limit of £3,000 advance, I agree that that will react rather unfairly on the tenant who purchased, let us say, part of his holding under the 1903 Act. But the price under the 1903 Act was so much higher than the price here, he may have got an advance of £3,000 for a very small area of land, and I can well conceive certain cases of a tenant with 100 acres of land, fifty of which he had purchased under the 1903 Act, being unable to get an advance for the remaining fifty acres, whereas, if he had not purchased any of the land under the 1903 Act, he might be able to purchase it all within the limit namely, £3,000; that is quite possible, but I think we may in these cases give a discretion to the Land Commission to take all the circumstances into account. I was about inserting a clause empowering the Land Commission to make larger advances in the cases of men who had purchased already. But I think the discretion which the Land Commission will have, to take all the circumstances into account, will meet the case. If the Deputies think there is any question about it we can make it right in Committee. We all want to make it right. We do not want that a man should suffer because of fortuitous circumstances in any case, but I think the Section of the Bill which gives discretion to the Land Commission meets the case. Deputy Johnson made a point on this matter of the limitation of the advance. He pointed out that it was absolutely essential that there should be farms of sufficient size to make it possible to carry out scientific experiments. That is to have experimental farms. I am not quite clear as to what he means. I am not clear whether he means the necessity of getting ample land for the Department of Agriculture or whether sufficient land should be sold to the tenants or to a couple of them in an area to enable them to farm their land so as to be able to buy the latest machinery and to carry on the most up to date system of farming economically.

I had in mind that the Land Commission might hold, here and there through the country, large holdings for use in their discretion in the way of experiments.

They would be Governmental farms. There is no danger whatever that the Department of Agriculture would be short of land. On the other point I would regard it as extremely important that fairly good-sized farms should be sold, that advances should be made to enable people to purchase fair-sized farms, and I agree that the circumstances to which the Land Commission should advert when making up their minds as to whether they can give a man an advance of more than £3,000 should be whether or not he is farming his land economically, and that if he is they will give him a much larger advance to enable him to purchase a good-sized farm.

What does the Minister mean by a good-sized farm?

I am surprised that Deputy Davin would ask that. But it depends on the quality of the land. I could contemplate it being the very best business from the view point of the State that a man might have four hundred or five hundred acres of land. That would be a very rare case. I could contemplate that a two hundred and fifty to a three hundred acre farm would be extremely useful from the point of view of the State. I believe one fair sized farmer with two to three hundred acres of good land, and farming his land scientifically and economically, would be worth more than a Department of Agriculture farm in his parish, and worth more than any department could be. I would anticipate that that ought be the case in the future, and more especially so as agricultural education spreads.

Would the Minister tell us, in regard to this discretionary power given to the Land Commission, will the Land Commission be responsible to anybody—will the Minister have control over their policy?

That is a question more for the Land Commission Bill than for this. I do not think that the particular politician who is Minister for Agriculture should have any control over the Land Commission. The Land Commission has certain judicial functions. When the question of price comes before the judicial commissioner he hears evidence from both sides. That is a judicial act and should not be controlled in any way by the Minister. Purely administrative work is, of course, absolutely under the control of the Minister.

Apart from purchase —is the question of the administration of land to be left to the Land Commission, under the direction of the Minister?

I should say so, in general. This is a very wide question to answer. So far as the powers are judicial, the Land Commission has discretion. So far as they are administrative they are controlled by the Minister for Agriculture just the same as any other service.

Is that specifically in the Bill?

Certainly, that is provided for in the Land Commission Bill. With regard to turbary, I need not waste time over this. The Land Commission had always power to acquire turbary compulsorily; but we are specifically enabled by the Bill to acquire turbary compulsorily and to make any regulations necessary regarding it. We come now to sporting rights. As I stated, in practice there are no sporting rights that you can put any money value on. Deputy Wilson raised the point about there being valuable sporting rights on land over which the tenants have certain rights appertaining to their holdings. It is probably so in the case he has in mind, the case of a mountain where the tenant has the right of grazing over certain lands. Someone else has the sporting right. You can hardly call that mountain untenanted land in the ordinary sense of the word. But take an ordinary holding. There are no sporting rights on a holding on which you could put a money value. The holding goes entirely to the tenant. He holds that in fee simple. The same applies to fish and to fishing rights. Nobody ever thought of stopping a farmer from fishing for trout in the stream that flows through his land. We are dealing with the fishing rights on valuable rivers. These rights will be retained by the Land Commission. They are very valuable rights, and they are worth a lot of money. The Land Commission will dispose of them, probably by letting to the fishermen and to the other interests, who were making their living out of them up to that, at a reasonable rent, and I think that is an equitable way to deal with it.

What do you say about the sporting rights? Are you going to pay the landlord for these sporting rights?

There are mountains in Mayo with very valuable sporting rights which bring the landlord in a certain rent every year. He lives by it. They are as valuable as the grazing rights on the land. They are all lumped together, and a price is given for the land which covers everything, a price which is fair, not only to the vendor, but to the Land Commission, and this is the first time that has appeared in a Bill. Untenanted land which up to the present was bought—I am quoting the words of the 1903 and the 1909 Acts that dealt with the matter—at a price which is fair to the vendor——

Will the Minister provide a case in which he will allow the tenants to buy the sporting rights?

Before the Minister continues, may I say that I wonder do Deputies realise that this is a Bill containing sixty sections and two schedules, that it will have a Committee Stage, and that in the Committee Stage every section will be moved, and that every Deputy will have three speeches, and, it being an important measure, perhaps four?

And we are at the end of June.

And all these points can be raised at that particular time without taking them now.

And that in the meantime Deputies might read the Bill intelligently. Now, as regards the evicted tenants, of course everyone loves evicted tenants. If you have any sympathy to spare you always stand up and talk about the evicted tenants and the wounded soldiers of the land war. We try to deal with evicted tenants who have been evicted since there was such a thing as land tenure in Ireland, namely, since 1881. If you go back behind 1881 you will have, not only a claim for each evicted holding, but you will have four or five. Holdings changed hands three or four times between 1870 and 1881.

And since.

No, to nothing like the same extent. We cannot have perfection, but the fact is if we are able to deal effectively with the evicted tenants since 1881 we will be doing more than, I think, has been done since 1881.

The Bill provides for 1878.

1878 is the exact date. It deals with the tenants who were evicted since then. With regard to town parks, we are selling them to the tenants. With regard to advances to labourers, to groups, I am not quite clear as to what Deputy Johnson means, but we have taken power, under Section 52, to make advances to trustees for the purchase of land for the purpose of letting it for pasturage or tillage to labourers and others, and that clearly meets the case. Under the existing laws we have power to make advances to trustees for grazing purposes in connection with the grazing of cows near a town, and so on. We had no power to make advances to trustees for land for tillage; we are providing for that in this Bill. We can make advances to trustees in respect of land near a town either for tillage or for grazing purposes. I doubt if we would have power to make advances to groups of people except in that sense— to societies, let us say. It is very difficult. It is an aspect of the question I have been thinking about. It is very hard to know exactly what one should do in the matter, that is to say, without doing too much, without opening the door to a lot of abuses, and if the Deputy has any suggestions to make later I will be very glad to receive any help he can give me, and we can amend the Bill in that direction.

Does the Minister mean that under the terms of the Bill grants can be made through local authorities as trustees to acquire cow parks?

That has always been so.

Under this Bill?

Under this Bill we make one change. In addition to advances for cow parks, as you call them, advances can be made for the purchase of land for tillage, and advances can be made not only to local authorities, such as district councils, but to bodies like town commissioners.

That is what I had in my mind.

With regard to arrears, which I think is really the last point— Deputy Magennis dealt with it mostly—I explained already the reasons that prevent us from giving the same terms to tenants in regard to arrears as in regard to annuities. Again it is mathematics. If the price is right, if a 35 per cent. reduction is a fair reduction as an annuity, then we cannot give the same in regard to arrears, because until the landlord receives his purchase-money and is in a position to redeem his head-rent and superior interests he must pay his head-rent, interest charges and all the rest, in full and without any abatement. The position is this: When the landlord receives his purchase-money he will get 4½ per cent. on that. He will receive his purchase-money in bonds. His income will be 4½ per cent. on that. Now, if he has any mortgages, any encumbrances on that land, for every £100 of that purchase-money for which he is receiving an income of £4 10s., he will probably be paying 5 per cent. or 6 per cent. interest. That will be his position. He will overcome that difficulty by redeeming his superior interests and his encumbrances in bonds, immediately, but until he receives his purchase-money and is in a position to redeem these interests he must pay his full rent and interest charges. Hence, it would be absolutely inequitable to give the same terms in regard to arrears as you give in regard to annuities. Deputy Gorey mentioned another point which is a good point. He stated that, having regard to the fact that this Bill is now before the Dáil and is getting its Second Reading, it is scarcely fair for a landlord to attempt to get behind the intentions of the Bill by executing decrees on anything like a large scale, and Deputy Johnson, of course, was very glad to ring the changes on that particular point. This matter was debated before.

Deputy Johnson is now interested in showing that the Enforcement of Law Act is imposing the greatest possible hardship. I realise he is under that necessity, but it is not a fact that the Enforcement of Law Act has caused any hardship. The fact is that the mere presence of the law on the Statute Book, and, perhaps a little more the presence of the military in the counties, has obviated any necessity for their use in 95 per cent. of cases. The Enforcement of Law Act has done more to make people honest than, perhaps, any other Act or precept of the last 12 months, but there are particular cases. There is a case like this where we introduce a Bill such as this giving 25 per cent. reduction on rents, and, consequently, implicitly admitting that people are entitled to this 25 per cent. reduction. It would be unfair if the landlords attempted on any large scale to get behind the intentions of the Bill.

Or any small scale. In any case.

Yes. It would be unfair if its policy was to attempt to get behind the intentions of the Bill in executing decrees. However, we can meet the case. We have no power, as I have often explained, to interfere between a plaintiff and defendant. We never attempted to exercise that power, and what we can do, the resources of civilisation not being yet exhausted—what I am willing to do if necessary—is to make the Bill retrospective as from the date of its introduction, and I think that if there is a policy of executing decrees now in order to get in front of the Bill that tenants are entitled to that assurance. I would be willing to consider that. There is just one point left—Deputy O'Connell's query as to tenancies created since September, 1922. Section 52, Sub-section (2) reads:—"The expression `tenanted land' means land held under any contract of tenancy other than a fee-farm grant, or lease for lives or years renewable for ever or lease for a term of years of which sixty or more are unexpired, and the expression "untenanted land" shall be construed accordingly

"Provided that where land has become tenanted land as above defined by reason of a contract of tenancy entered into on or after the first day of September nineteen hundred and twenty-two, then

"(a) if the holding is in a congested districts county, the tenancy shall, if the Land Commission before the appointed day so declare, be deemed void as against the Land Commission and the holding shall vest in the Land Commission as untenanted land; and

(b) if the holding is situate elsewhere, the land shall be treated as tenanted land for the purpose of the provisions of this Act vesting tenanted land in the Land Commission, save as to the price thereof, but shall not be sold under this Act to the tenant unless the Land Commission certify," and so on.

Deputy O'Connell made the point that tenancies have been created within the last year or two for the purpose of forestalling the Act. That is true. He suggests that the 1st day of September, 1922, should be altered, and that we should go back further. I doubt myself if that clause is necessary at all, because the Land Commission has ample powers without that of acquiring any holding needed for relief of congestion. In that state of affairs I think that the clause is really unnecessary, that only makes assurance doubly sure. The Land Commission has ample powers under any circumstances to acquire any tenancy of any kind, even a present tenancy or a judicial tenancy. That, however, is another matter that can be dealt with in Committee.

There is just one point the Minister has not dealt with——

Now, Deputy Gorey must sit down. I intend to allow no more points to be raised on this Bill until we go into Committee on its 60 Sections.

Question put: "That the Bill be read a Second Time."
Agreed. Committee Stage ordered for Tuesday, June the 26th.

I think we should be in possession of the Official Report of to-day's debate before next Tuesday.

There is no doubt about Deputies being in possession of to-day's debates before next Tuesday. I think we will have them on next Thursday evening.