We have disposed of Amendment 96 to the First Schedule. Amendment 97 appears to me to fall consequentially. Has Deputy Gorey anything to say on that?
THE DAIL IN COMMITTEE. - LAND BILL, 1923—THIRD STAGE RESUMED.
No, if it is consequential on the other.
I beg to move amendment 45 standing in the name of Eamon O Dugain. It is:
To insert a new Sub-section after Sub-section (2), as follows:—
"There shall be payable by the tenant to the Land Commission on the gale day on which the first instalment of the said annual sum shall become payable by him an additional sum, equivalent to a proportion of the said annual sum in respect of the period between the said gale day and the day on which the next dividends are payable on Land Bonds issued under this Act. The Land Commission shall have for the recovery of such additional sum the same remedies as they have for the recovery of unpaid instalments of purchase annuity."
The object is to enable the Land Commission to meet the amount that will be payable in respect of dividends for the short period that will elapse between the gale day and the day indicated.
I beg to move:—
To add at the end of Sub-Section (3) the following:—
"Provided that the Land Commission is satisfied that the tenant is cultivating, and will continue to cultivate the land as an ordinary farm in accordance with the proper methods of husbandry, and if he fails so to satisfy the Land Commission within a period of five years from the appointed day he shall no longer be deemed to have entered into a purchase agreement for the purchase of that holding."
The object of the amendment is to ensure that a proper method of husbandry referred to in a later clause as a condition shall be applied to all the land that is sold to the tenants. This is to endeavour to secure that the land that is purchased will at least be farmed in such a way as to satisfy the Land Commission, and to militate somewhat against the pure grazing system. There is no need to enlarge at this stage on that question. We are all satisfied that the advantages to the country are greater by reasonable methods of husbandry than by mere grazing. One of the conditions under which the State should come to the assistance of the tenants should be that a reasonable proportion of the land should be brought into cultivation. This amendment will not affect, to any appreciable degree, the great majority of the farms that are affected by this Bill, inasmuch as they are small holdings which in the main are cultivated. It will affect a minority of the holdings which are merely grazed and are not farmed. That is to say, they, are not held by agriculturists.
The object of the amendment is also to ensure, as far as the Land Commission can, that the land that is being transferred under the ægis of the State should be brought into cultivation.
This is an amendment to Section 25, that is to say, to the Section that deals simply and purely with tenants. There is an Amendment 62 to Section 28 in the same sense. Section 28 deals with advances for parcels of land, that is, advances to landless men for new holdings. I am prepared to accept something on the lines of Amendment 62—not in the terms of the amendment but something on these lines. When we reach that amendment I hope to read out the one which I will be prepared to accept. I would not be prepared to accept the amendment in connection with Section 25, which deals with tenanted land, for the very good reason that it would mean nothing. We are dealing with tenants; people who for one reason or another have vested interests in their holdings, grown up over a long period, and under all sorts of conditions, and around which a great lot of Irish history has been made. In that state of affairs it is idle to put in a provision which means that if the Land Commission official is not satisfied with the operations of the particular tenant he shall have power to take the holding from him. You could not do it. It could not be done. These are the facts as we find them at the moment. I do not believe, and I think the Deputy admitted it, that, except in the case of a very few holdings, it can make any difference. If you make economic holdings and give the small man sufficient land to make his holding economic without the assistance of any inspector, either of the Department of Agriculture or the Land Commission, he will work that holding economically. That has been the experience of the 1903 Act. Practically all the tenants who got economic holdings are farming their land as well, perhaps, as land is farmed either in Germany or France. Ownership made a tremendous difference. There is no real reason, therefore, for this in connection with tenanted land. It might, possibly, apply to two or three per cent. of cases, and it might, possibly, do some good in two or three per cent. of cases. But it has a great many drawbacks, and in 95 per cent. of cases it would be unnecessary and, if necessary, impossible to put into operation. Hence I could not accept it in connection with Section 25, but I am prepared to accept something on the lines of amendment 62 in connection with Section 28.
Did the Minister not consider that even two or three per cent., at least, should be deprived of the advantages which the Bill gives? That is all that the amendment proposes to do. It simply says that the purchase agreement shall not be entered into, that the purchase of the landlord's interest shall not be entered into, if the obligations laid down have not been fulfilled.
I admit this is only going to apply to two or three per cent. of cases, but it is for the two or three per cent. that I would like the amendment to be carried, or something to take its place to secure the same end, even for the tenanted land. We have been reminded frequently that there are black sheep even among small holders, that there are small holders who are not doing their duty by their holdings, and even the moderate pressure that this would apply to those might be sufficient to induce proper cultivation. The effect of the amendment would be to leave them as they are, not to give them the advantage of this Bill. That, I think, is not a great penalty, but it might be sufficient to induce that two or three per cent. to do their duty by their holdings and by the State. I think something of the same kind which is proposed to be applied to other classes of holders might well be applied to the tenant holder who does not do his duty by his land.
I think the answer to that is—that any amendment of that sort would really put a duty upon the Land Commission to keep inspecting holdings even though they would not find it necessary. You would have there in black and white in an Act of Parliament a provision which would make it the duty of the Inspectors to keep inspecting the holdings of the 70,000 tenants, between the appointed day and the date of vesting, in order to make sure that they were farming properly. We all know that they could not do that. It is hardly sound to put into an Act of Parliament something which we know cannot be carried out effectively. Further, take the two or three per cent. of cases of people who are not farming their land efficiently. We are in a position to deal with them under the Bill. When the Land Commission is making up its mind as to whether it will sell £3,000 worth or more of land to any farmer, it will certainly take into account whether he is a good farmer or not. They ought to take that into account, and they will be able to penalise the man who is not likely to make a good farmer by refusing to sell and exercising their discretion. With regard to the small tenant, I have seen cases of small tenants who were bad farmers, and lazy, perhaps, allowing their holdings to get into disrepair, and who after two or three years of ownership have become really good farmers. The best thing you can do with a small holder of that kind— even the two or three per cent.—is to give him an economic holding and make him the owner. Even though he has been an idle farmer up to then, even though his conditions made him rather careless and, perhaps, hopeless, still if you give him an economic holding, after two or three years of ownership he will begin to bend his back to the work, and in five or ten years will turn out one of the best farmers. Under that provision we might take up the holdings. These are the very cases in which we might take up the holdings, and we would be simply defeating our own object. We have ample powers within the four corners of the Bill to penalise any farmer who is not doing his duty to the State. Such a section I am afraid would be a dead letter. You have to consider the expediencies of the case as there are 400,000 tenants who have purchased without such a section. You put in a section which gives in a general way the idea that the Land Commission or the Department of Agriculture have some control after vesting, even when the tenant becomes the owner of the holding, which will cause further discontent amongst small tenants, who are rather shy of reading Acts of Parliament, and which will do more harm than good. I am afraid we are prisoners of history in the matter. We are dealing with 70,000 tenants and in respect to their proprietorship you cannot make distinctions between the 70,000 who have not purchased and the 400,000 who have purchased.
Deputy Johnson's idea of farming is only theoretical, and I presume the knowledge that the Minister for Agriculture has on the subject is much the same. All farmers, large and small, are out to make money. If the economic conditions permit it the large farmer will till a certain amount of his land in order to carry his stock during the winter. If he does not do so one or two of his neighbours will till portion of their land, and those who do not till can buy feeding from them. Supervision or over-riding of the economic wishes of small holders, or even of large holders, is not at all agreeable, and would not have any results commensurate with the ideas of Deputy Johnson.
This strikes me as a peculiar amendment. There are only 70,000 unpurchased tenants in the country while there are 400,000 who have purchased. This condition that it is sought to impose on the smaller number was never imposed on the larger number. It is compulsory interference, compulsory tillage or compulsory husbandry in the minds of theorists. I wonder would Deputy Johnson advance the principle of compulsory State interference about which we have heard a good deal in every business? Deputy Johnson and some other people seem to get it into their heads that it is only with land cultivation and farming that the State should interfere, or that it has room to interfere. I think this view is borne by people who know nothing about agriculture, and who do not live on the land. The men who know least about land are ready to talk the most about it. I know very little about business, and I do not want to interfere in anything I know nothing about. I leave business matters to commercial men. I do know a little about farming, and I say, and I know, that the State would be doing the worst thing it could do, to start compulsory interference in an industry run by men bred to it, and who have always, with a few exceptions, done the right thing. Deputy Johnson must assume that people engaged in agriculture are fools and that they do not know their business. This is really the thin end of the wedge towards compulsory tillage and compulsory supervision of the land. We had enough of that before. I oppose this amendment most heartily.
A point made by Deputy Johnson was that if this amendment is carried, so far as the small men are concerned, it will only put them back in the position they were in before, and merely deprive them of the advantages of the Bill. They will not be able to enjoy the full advantages of the Bill as under it they will get a reduction of 30 per cent. on the rents. If the amendment is carried they will not get that reduction. As the Minister for Agriculture stated they will not get that chance of becoming industrious self-supporting tenant farmers.
One is surprised to hear the arguments against this amendment. We have been led to believe for many years that the acquirement of the tenants' interest, and security of tensure had, as a matter of fact, ensured that the holdings would be well cultivated. Now we are told that that cannot be secured unless this transfer that is sought for in this Bill takes place—that there is really no security of tenure and no fair rent fixed—that, as a matter of fact, until the landlord's interest has been purchased out, the tenant is as he was before the 1881 Land Act. That contradicts all the claims that have been made in the past in furtherance of land purchase and fixity of tenure. The argument of Deputy Gorey, and more particularly the argument put forward by Deputy McBride, really go to the heart of this question. It comes to this, that under the Bill tenant purchasers may, if it pays them better, leave the land in grass. If it pays them better to let the land to the promoters of any new amusement then they may do so, that the interests of the State are not to be considered if those interests run across the monetary interests of the peasant proprietor. I join issue with that at once, and I would have understood up to this morning that Deputy McBride would not subscribe to such a doctrine. It is the argument of the grazier. It was the argument of the landlords who cleared their estates. They owned this property and might do what they liked with it. It is the argument, the policy, and the practice that led to the depopulation of Ireland. I dissent from that at once, and I say, as I have said before in this debate, that this land is held in trust, and the proprietor has not a right to let it go to wreck and ruin or to let it go into grazing at the expense of the people, if that policy means, or might mean, the depopulation of the country and the driving of still larger numbers away from the land. We contend—and it is sought to apply that contention to these holdings—that there should be some check upon even the possibility that the new proprietors will allow their land to go to waste.
It may be more profitable—it has been —to allow the land to be grazed than to allow it to be tilled. Therefore, the argument runs, the land must be grazed. If the demand for Irish cattle in England grows and grows, and if the demand for store cattle is growing, and the profits out of store cattle are to be increasingly greater as compared with the profits out of other produce, then, the argument runs, the landholders may and should have perfect freedom to allow that grazing system to be developed. I am surprised that Deputy McBride should put forward such a proposition, but I am still more surprised that Deputy Gorey should do so, in view of amendment Number 62. In that amendment he does, as a matter of fact, propose certain restrictions.
Not of the same kind at all.
Certain people shall prove their competence to work the land and if they do not prove it then the Land Commission shall have power to resume the land. I am surprised that Deputy Gorey should denounce the proposition that I have put forward on the grounds that he has done while at the same time he is proposing an amendment of a similar kind to another section. It is really not a very germane argument to say that because 400,000 tenants have become proprietors under Acts passed in the British Parliament without restrictions that we, when passing another measure to make 70,000 tenants into proprietors, must not put restrictions forward which we deem to be desirable. Because there were certain omissions, because past generations made mistakes in regard to 400,000 people, it is not a sound reason why we should make a similar mistake in regard to 70,000 people, and I do not think the alleged evil effects of the amendment are going to affect any but those who are incompetent. If it is true that proprietorship, and a sense of proprietorship, will make the change that the Minister believes, then all that is required in the amendment is that the Land Commission should be satisfied that a person is likely to prove a good husbandman, and as it will only affect two or three per cent., and perhaps even a smaller proportion, of the larger holders who are keeping their land out of cultivation because it pays them better, against the well-being of the State. That is the reason why I ask the Dáil to support the amendment.
Apart altogether from any question of policy, it does not seem to me that this amendment could possibly be put into operation. How is the Land Commission to be satisfied that the tenant will continue to cultivate the land as an ordinary farm? What period is that satisfaction to cover? Is it to the end of time or is it only a particular tenant or the particular tenant claiming by descent or otherwise from him? I am trying to put myself into the position of some one on behalf of the Land Commission. I am trying to discover whether my mind is satisfied or not that a particular tenant who has been on the land sufficiently long for him to be a purchaser under this Act has an intention that is going on for some interminable period to continue to cultivate his land as an ordinary farmer. Why, the thing is quite impossible. If it is to be done merely by the tenant making a declaration to the Land Commission:—"I hereby declare that it is my intention to go on cultivating," why, this thing is meaningless. All he has to do is to make a declaration of his intention to cultivate. If, on the other hand, his statement of intention is not sufficient, how, in the name of heaven, the Land Commission is to be satisfied of that intention I cannot see. Moreover, this amendment does not say what is to become either of the tenant or the unfortunate holding.
Supposing the Land Commission is not satisfied? The tenant is no longer to be deemed as having entered into a purchase agreement, but he is the tenant of the holding. This section deals only with what we may call the setting tenant. He is no longer liable for rent, because his landlord has gone. He is only liable to the Land Commission by reason of his being assumed to have entered into a purchase agreement. Therefore, it seems to me that this amendment, if enacted in the form it is at present, creates the simple position that the tenant who is in possession and did not satisfy the Commission should, therefore, remain free of rent or purchase annuity. There is no condition that the Land Commission, or any one else, is to resume possession of the holding, as there is in Deputy Gorey's amendment later on. At all events, part of the objection I have to the present amendment applies to Deputy Gorey's as well. The main thing is that if the tenant fails to satisfy the Land Commission at a certain date, he shall no longer be deemed to have entered into a purchase agreement. He is back to where he was before, with the exception that he is no longer under liability for any rent to the landlord or purchase annuities to the Land Commission or anyone else.
In this Dáil we hear a lot about the duty of the farmer to the State, but we would also like to hear the duty of the State to the farmer. Deputy Johnson seems to think that it would be a far better and wiser policy for the farmer to engage on a line of production which does not pay. Nobody says that it does. The agricultural Commission is sitting, and no one has come forward to say that agriculture pays. What I want to know is—is the farmer to run his business at a loss for the benefit of the State? That is what Deputy Johnson's argument comes to, to my mind.
Deputy Johnson is under a misapprehension as far as I am concerned. At a matter of fact nine-tenths of the land in Connaught, with which we are immediately concerned, cannot be continuously grazed; it must be tilled in order to carry the store cattle which Deputy Johnson considers are sold at enormous profit in England. But while I say that, there are other portions of land that cannot profitably be tilled. What would Deputy Johnson say about growing a field of potatoes where every stalk would be five or six feet high, with no potatoes underneath? That is not economy by any means, and that is what we want to guard against. Every farmer in Connaught, or any other place, must be as free as any shopkeeper in Dublin. He must support himself and his family, and in order to do that the must economically work his farm. He must till one field and graze another, or he must graze one farm and till another, and so on.
If the Deputy will read the amendment he will see that is provided for. I would draw the Deputy's attention to the provisions of Section 29. When we come to it I will listen with interest to his objections, but I do not know whether he intends to object to the provisions requiring that proper methods of husbandry shall be applied. If it is wrong in this case it is wrong in that case. If there are no proper methods of husbandry applicable to the case of the tenant purchaser, then there are no proper methods of husbandry applicable to the owner and the persons affected by Section 29. If Deputy Rooney is interested I tell him quite frankly that I will apply the same principle to every holder of every factory, mill, or other productive institution in the country.
And every shop.
And every salary.
Every factory and productive institution in the country. They are held in trust for the common good, and if they are held out of use, or not made reasonable use of, then they have a right to be interfered with and brought into proper use. If that is not sound morality as well as sound economics then I am open to be convinced to the contrary, and to have explained to me what is sound morality, and what is sound economics. One would have thought that we would not have had expounded the doctrine that every man has a right to do what he likes with his own. That is the doctrine that Deputy MacBride, Deputy Rooney, and Deputy Gorey want to impress us with. I deny it, and particularly if there is any satisfaction in that, in its application to that which is the very basis of life, the land. The whole theory of land holding in this country is that it is held by the occupier for the common good, and if its use by that occupier is against the common good then he has no right to further trusteeship over the land.
This discussion brings us back to the Constitution, and reminds me very much of the debates which took place when that Bill was going through this Dáil. I doubt if we ought to waste time, at this stage, and on this Bill, in discussing abstract principles. In one sense Deputy Johnson stated nothing that will not be found on the first stage of "Williams on Real Property." Land is held from the State, and in the past the State, not this State, but the British Government in its time here, has acted on that. In the course of the European War, when there was a food shortage, they insisted that owners of land should use it in the interests of the State, or putting it at the lowest, that at any rate they should not use it in the worst interests of the State, and cases occurred in which people were put out of possession of the land on the ground that they were not using it in the best interests of the State, or that they were using it contrary to those interests.
There were, of course, those who held it was an absurdity to indulge in urging petty prosecutions for food hoarding and to connive at the hoarding of the raw material of food production. Now, from time to time, in the face of great public needs, other States have shown, and no doubt, this State has shown, that there is no absolute property in land. One speaks of a "holding" rather than of absolute property. There is not, for instance, that absolute property in land that a man may claim in his watch, which he can wind or leave unwound if it suits him Land has been taken, from time to time, compulsorily for railways. We, ourselves, have admitted that principle from time to time, not merely with regard to land but also to premises. We have admitted it lately in passing a Bill for the compulsory acquisition of premises for the Civic Guard. That principle is not seriously questioned. I doubt if this amendment is calculated to improve this Bill. Everyone knows it suffers, as Deputy FitzGibbon pointed out, from much vagueness. What is an ordinary farm? Who is to decide whether a tenant is going to continue to cultivate it as an ordinary farmer? What is the proper method of husbandary?
If you refer to Section 29 of the Bill you will find these matters stated there.
It seems to me there will be various opinions as to the proper methods of husbandry, and the proper methods of husbandry will vary a good deal with the quality of the land and the nature of the soil, so that you are going to put a rather big task on whoever is to interpret this amendment if it becomes part and parcel of the Bill. I think that Deputy Johnson, although it was pointed out to him that this was a matter of two or three per cent., is rather out, through this amendment, to get recognition of a principle which is not challenged.
All that is required is that the principle that is advocated by the Minister in regard to one set of holdings shall be applied to the other set.
All I need say is that I do not think there is any doubt whatever that it is the duty of the State to make arrangements to provide that the National resources, and in particular the land of the country, shall be used to the best advantage. The question is, how? I maintain, as far as the particular case we have under discussion goes, that the best way to do that is to divide the land among the tenants of the country by making them the owners of their holdings, by making their holdings economic and putting them in a position to get the best themselves out of the land.
- Tomás de Nógla.
- Tomás Mac Eoin.
- Tomás Ó Conaill.
- Séamus Éabhróid.
- Liam Ó Daimhín.
- Seán Ó Laidhin.
- Cathal Ó Seanáin.
- Domhnall Ó Muirgheasa.
- Risteárd Mac Fheorais.
- Domhnall Ó Ceallacháin.
- Donchadh O Guaire
- Seán Ó Maolruaidh
- Mícheal Ó hAonghusa.
- Domhnall Ó Mocháin.
- Pádraig Mag Ualghairg.
- Seosamh Mac Suibhne.
- Peadar Mac a' Bhaird.
- Darghal Figes.
- Mícheál de Duram.
- Seán Mac Garaidh.
- Domhnall Mac Cárthaigh.
- Earnan Altún.
- Sir Séumas Craig, Ridre, M.D.
- Gearóid Mac Giobúin, K.C.
- Liam Thrift.
- Pádraig Ó hÓgáin.
- Pádraic Ó Máille.
- Seoirse Mac Niocaill.
- Fionán Ó Loingsigh.
- Séumas Ó Cruadhlaoich.
- Criostóir Ó Broin.
- Risteárd Mac Liam.
- Caoimhghin Ó hUigín.
- Proinsias Bulfin.
- Aindriú Ó Láimhín.
- Liam Ó hAodha.
- Próinsias Mag Aonghusa.
- Peadar Ó hAodha.
- Seosamh Mac Giolla Bhrighde.
- Liam Mac Sioghaird.
- Alasdair Mac Cába.
- Tomás Ó Domhnaill.
- Earnán de Blaghd.
- Uinseann de Faoite.
- Domhnall Ó Broin.
- Séamus de Burca.
- Mícheál Ó Dubhghaill.
I move Amendment 47:—To delete from the word "of," line 5, page 10, Sub-section (5) (b), to the word “or,” line 7, inclusive, and to substitute therefore the words: “To the standard price of the amount obtained by capitalising at the rate of four and three-quarters per cent. the original annuties payable on such advances, exceeds £3,000, or.”
This amendment does not require much commendation. It is merely to put the average tenant on the same level. Under the other Acts the part-purchaser would not be on the same level as the part-purchaser under this Act. The capital sum required at 2¾ per cent. under the Wyndham Act and the capital sum required at 4½ per cent. under this Bill would be different sums altogether. This amendment proposes to add annuity to annuity instead of advance to advance, as required by the Section as it stands. This would secure uniformity in assessing the real value of each of the holdings, whose price is to be added together for the purposes of this Section. Under the method proposed by the Section five holdings each paying an annuity of £100, payable under the Land Acts of 1885, 1891, 1903, 1909 and 1923, would all work out at widely different capital sums. The amendment proposes to substitute the annuity for the advance as a real test of the value of the holding. No matter what Acts the annuities are payable under they will be added together and capitalised for the purposes of this Section at the 4¾ per cent. annuity rate of the present Bill. I am sure that the reasons I have advanced in favour of this amendment will appeal to every member of the Dáil. I am not seeking to put one man in an advantageous position as compared with another. I am seeking to put them on the same level, and I would ask the Minister to accept the amendment.
I am accepting this amendment. It is perfectly just and meets the particular cases equitably. It is quite possible that the tenant who had purchased one part of his holding under the 1903 Act would not be able to purchase the balance under a different title now, whereas if he had not purchased under the 1903 Act he would be able to purchase both portions now. That is the result of the operation of the Bill, and the result of the price sections of the Bill, about which we heard so much last night. It is a correct principle, I think, to capitalise, as is suggested here, the original annuity at 4½ per cent. instead of at 3¾ per cent. or 3½ per cent., as the case might be, when arriving at the advance.
That will lead to a slight consequential amendment in Section 30, which we will deal with later.
Amendment 48: In Sub-section (5), Clause (d), line 16, page 10, to add after the word “congestion,” the words: “or for the development of agriculture, or otherwise in the public interest.”—Tomás O Conaill, Tomás de Nógla.
This amendment is consequential on an amendment which has been already lost.
I move Amendment 49:—
To add, at the end of Sub-section (3), line 44, the following:—
"The compensation payable to the tenant shall be paid in 4½ per cent. Land Bonds, equal in nominal amount thereto, and all claims attaching to the compensation shall be paid and discharged as if they were claims attaching to Purchase Money paid by means of 4½ per cent. Land Bonds under this Act."
I move Amendment 50:—
To insert a new Sub-section after Sub-section (4):—
"There shall be payable by the tenant to the Land Commission on the gale day on which the first instalment of the said annual sum shall become payable by him an additional sum, equivalent to a proportion of the said annual sum, in respect of the period between the said gale day and the day on which the next dividends are payable on Land Bonds issued under this Act. The Land Commission shall have for the recovery of such additional sum the same remedies as they have for the recovery of unpaid instalments of purchase annuity."
I beg to move:—
In Section 28 to insert after the word "persons," Sub-section (1), line 18, the words "or bodies." This is merely a technical amendment, dependent on a later amendment I am moving which inserts a new paragraph after Sub-section (1) (d) and proposes that advances be made to trustees for the purposes mentioned in Section 4 of the Irish Land Act, 1903, as extended by this Act, for the purchase by them from the Land Commission of parcels of land. I do not think there is anything controversial in this amendment. Section 4 of the Land Act of 1903 which governs the amendment reads:—
"In the case of the sale of an estate, advances under the Land Purchase Acts may be made for the purchase by any trustees approved of by the Land Commission of any parcel of the estate held subject to the provisions of this Act, for the purposes of turbary, pasturage, the raising of sand or gravel, the cutting or gathering of sea weed, the planting of trees or the preservation of game, fish, woods or plantations."
It is amended by this present Bill to include the tillage. There is nothing controversial in that and it is merely a technical amendment to include all the trustees in the provisions of this Bill. Some of them might be excluded if we were to leave the word "persons" in alone. I am proposing to include the word "body" as well as "persons."
This is a necessary amendment and I accept it. In the operations of the Land Commission it may be found expedient to make advances to bodies as well as to persons, and we are including the word "bodies" for that reason.
In the absence of Deputy de Roiste I wish to move: In Sub-section (1) to insert before paragraph (a), line 21, a new paragraph, as follows:—
"(a) A person whose holding has been acquired by the Land Commission for the reinstatement of the former tenant thereof or his representative.”
I wish to ask the Deputy if he happens to know whether the person mentioned in the proposed amendment will occurs anywhere else in the Bill.
Yes, there is an amendment further down.
This is on the same principle as the amendment which was moved under Section 21 on the previous evening. The Deputy considered that the Land Commission should be invested with certain powers to investigate all cases of evicted tenants, and many of those claims date further back than 1878. If the Land Commission is to deal with those claims it would be necessary that they should also in this Section be empowered to get advances under Section (28). Section 53 runs in the same direction.
"A person whose holding has been acquired by the Land Commission for the reinstatement of the former tenant thereof or his representative." That is the amendment, and the next amendment is to delete lines 26 and 27 in Sub-section (1) (c) and to insert in lieu thereof “a person who was heretofore the tenant of a holding.” That has not yet been moved. We may as well deal with the two together.” The Deputies will note that there is an Amendment No. 60 in the name of Padraic O'Maille. “In selecting persons under this paragraph the Land Commission may have regard to the cases of persons who, or whose predecessors in title, have been evicted from their holdings in consequence of proceedings taken by or on behalf of the landlord, and who are not included in paragraph (c) above.” There is also an amendment to the same Section in the names of Deputies Johnson, O'Maille and others, No. 57: “In Sub-section (1) (c), line 30, to delete the words ‘in ejectment for non-payment of rent.’” I am accepting Amendment No. 57 and also Amendment No. 60. In the Section as amended the word “bodies” will be added after “persons” and it will go on in accordance with Amendment No. 60.
"In selecting persons under this paragraph the Land Commission may have regard to the cases of persons who, or whose predecessors in title, have been evicted from their holdings in consequence of proceedings taken by or on behalf of the landlord, and who were not included in paragraph (c) above.” The effect of all that is to make it mandatory on the Land Commission to deal with evicted tenants since 1878. If the Land Commission succeed in completing that work, they will surprise me. There is no use in making promises that we cannot carry out. We will do our very best, and if we do that we will be doing more than most people think it possible the Land Commission will be able to do. We cannot right all the wrongs that have been done. That is absolutely impossible, but we will do our best. In the event of any obviously good case which, for technical reasons, would not come within the 1878 ruling, it is provided in the amendment I have read that the Land Commission may have regard to cases of persons who, or whose predecessors in title, have been evicted from their holdings in consequence of proceedings taken by or on behalf of the landlord. That means that the Land Commission must deal with tenants evicted since 1878, and may take into account, as special qualifying circumstances, the fact that a tenant was evicted before 1878. That is all we can do. Everyone who understands the evicted tenants' question, will realise that if we succeed in doing anything like what we promised we will do, we will be doing a lot. There are some amendments here that it would be really a misuse of language to describe as absurd. I cannot think of any other word. Take, for instance, Amendment 53, which suggests deleting lines 26 and 27 in Sub-section (1), and inserting words which would make the Sub-section read: “A person who was heretofore the tenant of a holding to which the Land Purchase Acts apply.” I believe there is an amendment later on to the effect that in the event of this person or his representative preferring to take money to land, he should get it. In the event of his preferring to take money, we may have to go back to the time of Niall of the Nine Hostages, or the time of Brian Boru. Nice legal questions will arise as to whether some of the ancient Irish chieftains, who advanced on their neighbours with clubs or spears, were really taking proceedings for ejectment against occupants of holdings, and whether those persons would be effected by the amendment. There are about one million representatives of Irishmen in Chicago, Poland and France, and for that matter all over the world. We are to send them out say, £1,000 each, the price of a good economic holding. That is the meaning of amendments which responsible Deputies have put in connection with this evicted tenants question. Fancy Deputies putting in amendments like those. Men capable of putting in amendments like those are utterly irresponsible. Even if the amendments were inserted in the Bill, they would mean nothing. They are not meant seriously to be put into practice, and 75 per cent. of the talk we hear about evicted tenants is purely opposition. It is, if I may say so, insincere. We are doing all we can for evicted tenants, first of all by specifying the limit of 25 years prior to the 1903 Act, and then giving the Land Commission a discretion, in the event of any case, for technical reasons, falling outside those limits, to deal with the persons concerned and regard the eviction of themselves or their ancestors as a special qualification.
I think the Minister has overlooked the fact that sentiment has been carrying us a long way in this country for some time past, and I suppose it will continue so for some time to come. Naturally, we would all like to get back the homes of our fathers, grandfathers, or great grandfathers. It would be much better than giving them to people from outside.
I would like to know from the Minister, seeing he has doubts as to having a sufficiency of land to deal with congestion and evicted tenants, to whom would he give the preference? Will he settle congestion first and then deal with evicted tenants, or will he give an equal share to both parties, and divide any available land as well as he can?
I will not have the giving of the land; but I expect the Land Commission will, of course, deal with congestion first. At the same time I have no doubt that after having dealt with congestion, there will be a considerable amount of land available for deserving evicted tenants or their representatives. The fact is that under this Bill we have power to take holdings from tenants, and if some of these people were not evicted, but were in possession of their holdings at the moment, we might be taking those holdings from them for the purpose of relieving congestion.
Deserving evicted tenants, in my opinion, have a prior claim.
With a view to meeting the difficulty of a shortage of land, I suggest that large ranchers and landholders should have their acreage reduced, and a man holding 150 acres should not be allowed the possession of any more, if there were congests in the vicinity or evicted tenants who required land.
Section 27 provides the limitation of advances. We passed that Section in Committee, and I thought Deputies would know about it.
I hope I understand the next three amendments clearly. Amendment 53, I take it, means that the Land Commission can go back any distance, even to the time, as the Minister for Agriculture suggested, of Niall of the Nine Hostages.
If the Land Commission deem it necessary.
Amendment 54 means that we go back 70 years from the Act of 1903—back to 1833. Amendment 55 proposes to go back to 1860. The proposal in the Bill is to go back to 1878. The Amendments are in proper order.
I move Amendment No. 53:—
"To delete lines 26 and 27 in sub-section (1) (c) and to insert in lieu thereof ‘a person who was heretofore the tenant of a holding.’”
I do not say that every case of an evicted tenant, or that every imaginary claim or alleged claim should be investigated by the Land Commission or by any other authority. I do not put forward a claim like that, which would be a silly claim. If I were to put forward a claim like that, very possibly I would be looking for a farm myself, and I hardly think there is any Deputy in the Dáil who, in that event, would not be looking for a farm somewhere or other. I do say that the Land Commission should have power to investigate claims put forward. We know that there are hundreds of unsound claims put forward, and no Land Commission could deal with all these, but there are claims that should not be confined to the twenty-five years limit. Other Deputies as well as myself have received letters during the past month from people all over the country, some of whom I know to be really deserving, and I think they should be investigated.
I think the Minister's reply to the previous amendment is most satisfactory, and I think Deputy O'Maille's amendment will satisfy us.
Then this amendment 53 is withdrawn?
I think I will withdraw it.
I beg to move:—
"In Sub-Section (1) (c), lines 26 and 27, to delete the words “within 25 years before the passing of the Irish Land Act, 1903,” and to substitute therefor the words: “since the passing of the Irish Land Act, 1860, (23 and 24 Vic., cap. 154).”
The object of this amendment was to bring the period back to the date when the modern movement, at least for eviction, began under the Deasy Act. That seemed to be the beginning of what might be called the preliminaries to the Land League, and it seems to be a natural starting point. I admit that the amendment which the Minister has proferred to accept goes a long way to meet the case. Nevertheless, I think that the proposal should begin after the passing of the Land Act of 1860, which does really date the period which led to the passing of the 1881 Act. If the Minister resists this, I am not going to press it in view of the agreement to accept amendment No. 60 and 57. He accepted those two, and they meet the case to a very great extent.
I am quite certain that we are indicating as much as we can possibly do in sub-section (c) as amended, taken together with sub-section (e) as amended. We are putting into this Act as much as could possibly be done. We could accept that, but we could not do it. That will enable us to deal with all genuine cases for the twenty-five years before 1903. That will enable us to try to pick out the deserving cases and to deal with them. It will enable us to deal with the border line cases.
I beg to move: "In Sub-Section (1) (c), line 30, to delete the words “in ejectment for non-payment of rent.”
I am accepting this amendment.
I move: After Sub-Section (1) (d), to insert a new paragraph as follows: “trustees for the purposes mentioned in Section 4 of the Irish Land Act, 1903, as extended by this Act.”
I accept that.
The next amendment is consequential on that. It reads "in Sub-section 1(e) to insert in line 38, after the word “person,” the words “or body.”
Is maith liom-so an leas-rún so do tharaisgint, agus sílim gur leas-rún é go mba cheart do'n Dáil glacadh leis. Déanfaidh sé deagh-shocrú ar chás a lán daoine gur scrios na tighearnaí talmhan amach as an dtalamh a bhí acu féin, nó ag a n-atharaca. Tá mórán acu san a bhí i gcruadh cás marogheall ar an ndibirt a cuireadh orra. Is féidir le Comisiun na Talmhan iad a thabhairt ar ais aris.
I beg to propose this amendment. I think it is a very essential amendment, because there is a number of cases of great hardship of people who suffered very much in the past through these evictions, and their immediate ancestors before them suffered. Deputy Ward on yesterday spoke about the wholesale clearances on the Glenbeigh Estate in Tírconaill, and it would be possible in this Sub-section to bring most of those tenants who have bona fide cases under this Land Bill. There are other tenants about the country, too, that it will bring in. These and their immediate ancestors suffered harsh and unfair treatment at the hands of the landlord and it would be quite possible under this Section also to deal with their cases. I am glad that the Minister has agreed to accept this amendment.
With regard to this amendment, it covers the cases of people to whom I referred here the other day. The Land Commission is given power in those cases, and that is all that we require, that the power shall be there and that once the land passes into the hands of the Land Commission all these cases shall be adjudicated upon. Theirs is a just claim.
After the Bill passes all the lands of Tírconaill will be in the hands of the Land Commission and, as the Deputy says, under these sections we will have power to do what is asked for in this amendment.
I think you ought to strike out the words "in title" after the word "predecessors." That deals with a person who is on the land. The people you are dealing with are people here who have no title. They only come in because their predecessors were evicted. I think you should say "persons who, or whose predecessors have been evicted."
I will accept that alteration.
I accept the amendment with the alteration.
On behalf of Deputy Day and Deputy Davin I beg to move to delete Sub-section (2) and to substitute therefor the following:—
"A parcel to be purchased under the provisions of this Section shall not be vested in the person to whom the advance is made for a period of five years from the date of the advance, and if, within that period, such person fails to satisfy the Land Commission that he is using and cultivating the land in accordance with proper methods of husbandary, or if he applies for permission to sell, let, or assign the land, the parcel shall not be vested, but shall be resumed by the Land Commission, and an advance may be made for the purchase of the parcel to some other person upon the like conditions."
I think that amendment is self-explanatory.
Amendments 61 and 62 are practically similar; their intention is the same. I am prepared to accept something like this; to add to Sub-section 2 "The agreement between the applicant and the Land Commission for the purchase of a parcel of land shall in all cases provide that the parcel shall not be vested in the applicant unless the Land Commission are satisfied that it is being worked by him in a husband-like manner, and that if the Land Commission are not so satisfied they may demand and recover possession of the parcel freed and discharged from any claim by the applicant." The Section would read something like this then:—"The Land Commission in deciding as to the suitability of applicants under this Section shall be satisfied as to their competence to work the land, and their intention to do so, and not to sell, let or assign it. "Then I would add: "The agreement between the applicant and the Land Commission for the purchase of a parcel of land shall in all case provide that the parcel shall not be vested in the applicant unless the Land Commission are satisfied that it is being worked by him in a husband-like manner and that if the Land Commission are not so satisfied they may demand and recover possession of the parcel freed and discharged from any claim by the applicant." That would give the Land Commission a certain amount of control over holding up the date of vesting, and between the date of the agreement and the date of vesting they would be enabled to satisfy themselves that the purchaser whom they had put on this parcel was likely to make a good farmer in the future. After the date of vesting they would have no control-none whatever. But from the date on which the agreement was entered into for the parcel up to the date of vesting they would have control. They would reserve control, and if before the date of vesting they came to the conclusion, from the conduct of the person who was getting the advance up to that date, that he was not a likely sort of farmer, they could eject him from the holding and resume possession. That is as far as we can go, and I think that would meet the case. Deputies will have to remember that, of course, the Land Commission have power to prevent a man from subletting or sub-dividing his holding after vesting, so that they have power to see that the holding will be retained as an economic holding in the possession of the tenant.
I presume the two amendments are being taken together. The only objection I see to the proposed amendment of the Minister is that there is no date mentioned. The vesting of the land may take place at any time after the man gets possession, and it may take place very quickly. There is no time of probation mentioned. The reason we put down our amendment is that men are likely to be put into holdings who have no agricultural training. My experience of land being divided is that in a good many cases the land was not farmed in anything like a proper manner. It was either continuously meadowed or let on the eleven months' system, and in many cases the men who got it were not suitable for working land, and they only held the land as a gamble until such time as the five years, or whatever limit it was, expired, and then sold it for whatever they could get for it. Some of these men had no intention of making a living out of the land, and it was simply wasted on them. It is to prevent such cases as that that our amendment is put down. It is very different from the previous amendment which Deputy Johnson took exception to. This amendment is meant to deal with men who have no experience of agriculture and never intended to make a living out of it. There should be a period of some years laid down to see if these men can make good. If, after a few years, a man has made good, and can satisfy the Land Commission that he intends to live out of the holding, then he should get his Vesting Order, but not until then. If the Land Commission are of opinion that he is not farming, and that he does not intend to make a living out of the land and is only treating it as a gamble, I think he ought to be dispossessed and the land handed over to somebody else, because we have any amount of men in the country who would make good if they got a chance. As a matter of fact, we have more men of that kind in the country than we can find land for. There is no use wasting land on people who, to put it mildly, are not suitable for the occupation of land. I would be better pleased if there were a definite period of probation, say three or five years, inserted in the Minister's amendment, so that a man could show whether he was going to make good or not.
I think the statement of Deputy Gorey would show that there are stages between the Minister and ourselves in moving this amendment. The Minister is prepared to insert a provision which will mean that the Land Commission must be satisfied as to the competence of the person in whom the land is to be vested before vesting. He does not say what the length of that period of probation shall be.
Not only satisfied of his competence, but that the holding is being worked in a husband-like manner up to the date of vesting.
Deputy Gorey desires to fix a date, but that after that date the purchaser may relapse into ignorance and laziness and carelessness, and that there shall be no interference We would prefer that that power to intervene might be retained so as to ensure that the good farming shall not be restricted to a short period, but that it shall be a continuous process-that there will be some assurance that the good habits of the farmer as a farmer may be continued in the son when he takes possession. I agree that the amendment suggested by the Minister does go some length to meet the arguments, but I do not think it goes far enough, and I would like a period to be stated, even if the Minister could not go as far as to accept the whole of the amendment put down by Deputies Day and Davin.
I would like to know the condition of mind of a farmer's son who would be under a state of perpetual observation by the Land Commission in order to see whether he was tilling his land properly. I think the Minister's amendment meets the case. Although I would like to see some period inserted, still this provision would ensure that a farm is being farmed before it is vested. I would be opposed totally to any such thing as placing a man, after he gets a holding, under the perpetual observation of the Land Commission.
This is the amendment which I favour. I must admit that there is not such a vast difference in principle between the policy which Deputy Johnson has outlined, and which the farmers disagree with, and this policy here which they are prepared to accept. There are some slight differences, but actually the principle is the same. There is very little difference in principle. There may be some arguments for confining this inspection up to the date of vesting, but the arguments that do apply to inspection up to the date of vesting apply, perhaps, with less force, but still they apply to some extent to inspection after the date of vesting. I am not in favour of inspection after the vesting, as I think the right way to get the best out of the land is to put the tenant purchaser on it under conditions which will enable him to put his best into it. I must observe that it is rather interesting that the differences of opinion over which there have been so much heat are really small. There is very little between the Farmers' Party and the Labour Party, if they thought this out. The reason I did not insert five years is this: There will be 75 per cent. of purchasers who will farm the land excellently for two or three years, obviously first-class men, and we should not hold up their vesting orders. I never thought I would hear arguments in the Dáil to delay vesting. I was prepared to hear arguments to the contrary, and to have it impressed on me that it was necessary to vest the holdings as soon as possible, and that one of the disadvantages of the previous Acts was that vesting was so long delayed. I certainly thought I would never hear an argument here in favour of delaying vesting. It is extraordinary how points of view change when applied to different problems. It would be unfair to hold up vesting in a very large percentage of cases where it is obvious that the purchasers of the land are good farmers or are going to be good farmers. It would be open to the Land Commission to hold up vesting if a man was not going on well, and perhaps hold it up longer than five years. That would meet the case Deputy Johnson puts up. It is not right to hold up vesting in the case where the purchaser is working his land properly and is likely to continue to do so.
We do not mean to hold up vesting, but we want the Government to retain machinery that gives them power for supervision for three or five years—not more than that. We think a man will show his worth in that time, and will have made good, or bad. We did not at any time purpose, as Deputy Johnson suggested, that the purchaser should be treated as a cart-horse and taken out and made do what others wanted him to do. That is what continuous supervision and compulsory powers really mean-that the man would be driven around between leading strings. I did not mean that vesting orders should be held up. The Minister has an amendment that meets our view, if three or five years were inserted.
I assume the amendment represents the view of the Deputy who moved it when he says quite definitely that the leading strings shall apply for a period of five years, during which the holding shall not be vested. Is that definite or not?
Definite so far as the amendment goes.
That is to say, it was the meaning the Deputy intended when he wrote down the amendment. It is quite right that he should be allowed to change his mind in the course of a discussion. I think the Minister has met the case fairly well. I would like to ask him whether it would not be more in conformity with custom to use the same phraseology in the amendment he now proposes as is in Section 29, instead of "husband-like manner," which rather suggests the back streets of Dublin.
What do you suggest?
The words in Section 29.
The words are "proper methods of husbandry."
I am quite prepared to insert these words. I hope I will be pardoned for observing that if this Land Bill is before the Dáil much longer the Labour Party and the Farmers' Party will come very close together. Deputy Gorey has now suggested a certain amount of supervision even after vesting. He is approaching Deputy Johnson rapidly.
There is hope for him yet.
I mean from the time possession is given.
This is the amendment the Minister proposes in place of Amendments 61 and 62:—"To add to Section 28, Sub-section (2): ‘The agreement between the applicant and the Land Commission for the purchase of a parcel of land shall in all cases provide that the parcel shall not be vested in the applicant unless the Land Commission are satisfied that it is being worked by him in accordance with proper methods of husbandry, and that if the Land Commission are not so satisfied they may demand and recover possession of the parcel freed and discharged from any claim by the applicant.'" In order to keep ourselves clear we will have to have Amendment 61 withdrawn and 62 not moved.
I beg to withdraw Amendment 61.
I am not moving Amendment 62.
I move the amendment suggested by the Minister.
I move: "To delete the word ‘land' in line 61, page 11, and in line 5, page 12, and to insert in lieu thereof the words ‘parcel together with the value of any other lands in the possession of the owner as ascertained by the Land Commission,' and in line 2, page 12, to delete the word ‘it' and to substitute the word ‘parcel'" The object of this amendment is to put a person all of whose land comes within the purview of this Bill in the same position as a person only part of whose land comes under it for the purpose of this Section. I think this amendment is very necessary in the interests of equity.
"To insert after the figures ‘£3,000' the words ‘unless in the opinion of the Land Commission it is expedient that this amount should be exceeded."'
This is more or less a consequential amendment.
Amendment 65 is not moved.
Motion made and question put: "That Section 29, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
Where in the case of a holding retained by the Land Commission, the Land Commission do not exercise their powers of resumption or if they exercise their powers of resumption in respect of only part of the holding, then if the tenant has used and cultivated the holding as an ordinary farmer in accordance with proper methods of husbandry, the Land Commission may resell to the tenant the holding at the standard price, or any part thereof not resumed at the proportionate part of such price applicable thereto as determined by the Land Commission, and may make an advance for the purpose of the purchase not exceeding such sum as with the amount of the advances, if any, whether redeemed or not, which may already have been made under any of the Land Purchase Acts for the purchase of lands of which the tenant is the proprietor at the date of such resale, does not exceed £3,000, the difference (if any) between the amount to be advanced and the price being paid in cash by the tenant to the Land Commission.
It was mentioned that in Section 30 there would be an amendment consequential upon Amendment 47. Where does it come in?
It comes in in line 25, to delete the word "of." The amendment I would ask the leave of the Dáil to move would be this: "To delete the word ‘of,' and to insert ‘obtained by capitalising at the rate of 4¾ per cent. the original annuities payable on the advance."'
Would the Minister, between this and the next stage, look into the word "original," because I fancy that there might be some annuities that have been subjected to decadal reductions, and therefore to make it quite clear that it is the actual annuity being paid at the moment, and not the original annuity?
I had that point in mind, and it was in view of that that I used the word "original."
Deputy Burke moves this as a consequential amendment to 47.
I move: "To insert after the figures ‘£3,000,' the words ‘unless in the opinion of the Land Commission it is expedient that this amount should be exceeded."' This is consequential.
I move: "To insert after the word ‘persons' the words ‘or bodies."' This is consequential on an amendment to Section 28.
I formally move the amendment. This amendment should be inserted after the word "Commission" on line 57, and not on line 58. The Section as it stands provides machinery where there is agreement between the owner of untenanted land and the Land Commission. The amendment provides machinery where there is no agreement, or where there is a conflict, and there may be a considerable block in the purchase if this machinery be not provided.
I could not accept that amendment. I think I explained the reasons before. The Bill takes power to take up compulsorily, and in fact automatically, all lands required for the relief of congestion or for facilitating the resale of untenanted land. The immediate operation of that would be to take up all untenanted land in the congested counties. That would be immediate under the operation of the Bill, so that it would be necessary to take up practically all the untenanted land elsewhere also for the relief of congestion, or otherwise to facilitate the resale of untenanted land. As I say, this Bill deals not only with congests but with evicted tenants, and it also provides for advances to evicted men. We want to have it perfectly clear that congests have the first claim, and we want to obviate as far as possible any difficulties that are in the way of dealing with the relief of congestion. If we started out to take power, in the first instance, to acquire land compulsorily for landless men, we would find that the Land Commission would be faced with an organised demand to take land here, there, and everywhere for landless men, who are more numerous and who have more influence and, perhaps, organising ability than the ordinary congested tenant, and probably before they quite realised what they were doing the Land Commission might find itself in the position of having to acquire land for landless men which later they might find necessary for the relief of congestion. It is only as the Act begins to operate that it will become clear whether or not it will be necessary to acquire land for the relief of congestion. There are congests on practically every estate in Ireland. There are so many congests in the congested districts that it would be necessary to acquire land outside of these districts for them. Nevertheless, we will be able to deal with considerable numbers of landless men and evicted tenants in congested areas, because we will find, as the Bill is put into operation, that it will be more suitable, perhaps, to migrate congests to lands outside the areas than to put them inside. That has been the experience in the operations of the 1903 Act. There are congests on practically every estate in Ireland. When the Land Commission require land for a few congests, they might buy a parcel of five hundred, six hundred, seven hundred, eight hundred, or a thousand acres, or whatever acreage is contained in any one title. They can deal with these few congests, and they can give the balance to the evicted tenants or the landless men. That arrangement preserves the proper sequence, and it is made quite clear that we owe our first obligation to the congested tenants, and that we are prepared to withstand any pressure that may come to deal with the more numerous and less deserving class in the first instance. I expect myself that practically all the available untenanted land will be acquired compulsorily under previous sections, and the only reason why this is put in at all is that the landowner may find himself left with a certain amount of land which he may wish to sell voluntarily to the Land Commission, but which you would not take under any circumstances. I want to put the Land Commission into the position to buy that and pay for it in Bonds, and without this Section they could not do so. I think the operation of the Act will prove that this will be the only function of this Section. The other available land will be taken up under the compulsory clause.
All the land is untenanted land under this Bill. I should like to know whether in respect of every holder of land who pays an annuity to the Land Commission if, under this Bill, that land is not untenanted land.
I am not quite clear as to what the Deputy wants to know.
I want to know if a man holds land in the Province of Connaught in a congested district, and is paying an annuity to the Land Commission under the terms of this Bill, is he not a holder of untenanted land?
He is a holder of untenanted land, excluded by Section 21, 2(a).
But not for the purposes of this Act. Section 21. deals with the question, and it specifically excludes land which has been purchased under other Land Acts.
Yes, Sub-section 2(a).
Yes, there is a proviso. "Notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing sub-sections, where the Land Commission before the appointed day declare in the prescribed manner that any land wherever situated, hereinbefore excluded from the operation of this section (other than land which comes within the description in Clause (e) of sub-section (2) of this section) is required for the purpose of relieving congestion, then such land shall vest in the Land Commission pursuant to this section.” That means that holdings that have already been purchased will not vest automatically in the Land Commission; like untenanted land, they could be acquired afterwards if it is found that the land which vests automatically in the Land Commission is not sufficient for the relief of congestion.
And would the tenant of this particular property get land elsewhere ?
Will the annuitants in the congested area in Connaught first have their land taken before you proceed to another province? Would not that be the proper thing?
I should imagine the Land Commission will take the first cases first, wherever urgent, whether in the congested areas or areas outside the congested districts. No one could say now where they would begin. The events of the next three or four months, and the result of their operations in connection with estates between this and the appointed day, will probably enable them to make up their minds where they should begin. They will probably be operating in different parts of Ireland at the same time.
The intention of this amendment was to complete, as was thought, the wish of the Minister. "The Land Commission may purchase any untenanted land they consider necessary for the purpose," and so on; that is if they consider it necessary, and the parcel of land which is in question is owned by a man who is not prepared to enter into an agreement regarding price, then the Land Commission's intention is frustrated, and there is no machinery of any kind whereby what the Land Commission thought is necessary can be carried into effect. The object of the amendment was to assist the Land Commission to have certain machinery at its disposal; inasmuch as the Minister thinks no machinery is necessary there is no occasion to press the amendment.
The Land Commission may purchase any untenanted land which they consider necessary for the purpose of parcelling land. Assuming a man holds 150 acres of land in fee farm grant, farming it as an ordinary farmer, and comes to the Land Commission and says, "I will sell you this land, as I do not want it," the purpose of this section is to enable the Land Commission to buy such farm if they consider it is necessary for the purpose of making advances to the various parties whom I mentioned. It would be necessary, but at the same time nobody would take up 150 acres of fee simple land held by an ordinary farmer, compulsorily. He would be entitled to farm that land, and he should not be put at a disadvantage by reason of the fact that he happens to own land in fee simple any more than his neighbour who owns 200 acres subject to an annuity. I want to put the Land Commission into the position that if such an owner offers to sell they can buy his land and give it to the landless men, and pay for it in Bonds.
After listening to the explanation of the Minister, I wish to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 69 involves a considerable expenditure of money. I would like Deputy de Roiste to explain that. There is one thing in the amendment, "The Land Commission may ascertain and award such compensation in the prescribed manner, and the source or sources from which the same is to be provided."
I ask leave to withdraw that amendment.
I beg to move—
"To insert before Section 34 a new Section as follows:—
In the case of any holding, purchased under a previous Land Act, which is still subject to a superior interest or other charge existing from before the time of the said sale under the Land Acts, the redemption price of such charge shall, on the application of the registered owner of the holding, be determined by the Judicial Commissioner, and shall be paid off by the issue to the owner of such charges of 4½ per cent. Land Bonds, as in manner prescribed by Section 3 of this Act, and the amount thereof shall be deemed to be an advance made under this Act, and shall be repayable by means of an annuity to be charged upon the lands, and consolidated with the existing purchase annuity, if any. The contribution of price shall not be payable in respect of any transaction under this Section."
This is an amendment to deal with a remarkable situation—a situation that even some of those responsible for the Bill were not aware of. In different parts of Ireland land is still subject to tithe rents and superior interests. We want these interests bought out under this Bill, and a period put to the payment of these interests; otherwise the land question is not settled. I would like to hear the views of the Minister on this question.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle took the Chair at this stage.
That is in a manner prescribed by Section 3 of this Act. I am in sympathy with the principle of this amendment, but as it is drafted it might mean that the annuity would be much larger than the fee farm rent. The fee farm rents, as a rule, are very small. We are really dealing here with untenanted lands which, in most cases, the ordinary owner would be selling, and not buying.
Generally, of course, they are small holders, but under the Act they would be actually selling to the Land Commission in the ordinary way. As I say, I am in sympathy with the principle of the amendment. If we ask the Land Commission to redeem these rents, they may come down on the holding, and regard it as tenanted land, and fix a price. If they adopted anything like the principle adopted in fixing a fair rent, and based their price on that they might fix a price on which the interest would be considerably higher than any fee-farm rents, because fee-farm rents are extremely low; in some cases they would not be more than three or four shillings an acre.
I am suggesting an alternative amendment which, I think, meets the case Deputy Gorey has in mind. It reads:—
"Where a holding has at any time been vested in a purchaser under the Land Purchase Acts, subject to a superior interest or charge the Judicial Commissioner shall, on the application of the proprietor after hearing all persons concerned, order the redemption of the said interest or charge, and all interests superior to them, and fix the redemption price thereof. The redemption price so fixed together with such costs as may be allowed by the Judicial Commissioner shall notwithstanding the provisions contained in subsection (4) of section 9 of the Purchase of Land (Ireland) Act, 1891, be advanced and paid by means of 4½ Land Bonds, and distributed by the Judicial Commissioner as if the redemption price were the purchase money of lands vested in the Land Commission under this Act. The advance shall be repayable by the proprietor of the holding by means of an annuity calculated at the rate of 4¾ per cent. on the amount of the advance, and the said annuity shall be consolidated so far as circumstances permit with the existing purchase annuity (if any) to which the holding is subject."
We are approaching it from the point of view of redeeming the rent, and that is I think what is in Deputy Gorey's mind.
Not exactly. There is the peculiar position that where purchased agreements have been already come to, and annuities paid in pursuance of those agreements the lands are still subject to these head charges. It is an extraordinary thing, I never heard of it until it was brought to my knowledge in the counties of Cork and Limerick. I believe Deputy Wilson has evidence of it in some cases in County Dublin. My amendment makes the matter clear in the case of holdings purchased under previous Land Acts which are still subject to these superior interests. There are, and I think it is news to the Minister to know it, some special cases of land already purchased but still subject to these head charges. At one time I did not think that was possible, but it is so and it cannot be disputed.
I desire to support the case put forward by Deputy Gorey, because I am aware that in my own area there are several cases of this kind. I have a letter from one individual in this peculiar position. He has tried to make an agreement with the head landlord, but without result. I think the amendment moved by Deputy Gorey would relieve many people from obligations of that kind by leaving it in the hands of the Judicial Commissioners to fix what will be a fair figure at which to get rid of these head charges to which the Deputy has referred.
As I say, I am in sympathy with the principle of this amendment. We agree, at any rate, that the question should be settled and I think we would be able to settle it on Report Stage.
I was going to suggest that.
There is another point which touches upon this that I would like to mention. I spoke to the Minister about it and he, certainly, gave me satisfaction, but there is still another point I wish to be clear about. There are tenants who are still unpurchased who have a big lot of turbary within the ambit of their holdings. Formerly, about twenty-five or twenty-six years ago, the landlords got no rent whatever for bog. There was a big area of bog and the tenants had the grazing rights of it and anybody could cut turf anytime and any where. Bogs then got scarce outside this area and a lot of people came in, with the result that the Landlord is getting more now in payment for bog than he got for rent before. Even after we had Land Acts passed and Judicial reductions took place in the Land Courts, the landlord continued to get money for the bogs on the tenant's holding. The landlord claimed the mineral rights and is getting more rent from turbary, as a mineral right, than he got previously as rent from the land. When we come to this I would ask the Minister to consider what price should really be paid for these bogs. This is a matter that will apply to the bogs in general, and I would like to bring it forward in order that the Minister might be able to open up all these large tracts of bog so that when people want to cut turf they may be able to get it. Turf is a great necessity in the country. I would ask the Minister to see that all tenants have a right to get turf.
A discussion on that matter cannot be raised on this particular amendment.
I will read Section 33 for the Deputy: "The powers of the Land Commission to acquire compulsorily any untenanted land shall be extended to include power so to acquire any bog whether the same is or is not subject to any right of turbary of other persons than the owner, and whether or not an advance under the Land Purchase Acts has been made for the purchase of lands including such bog, and if made, whether redeemed or not."
Then you have Section 36 which says:—"The powers of the Land Commission to make regulations with respect to turbary on bogs on holdings shall be extended 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 of turbary thereon, and so as to include power of defining the area on which the owner may cut turf and to make regulations conferring and defining rights of access to and through the bog over any land for the purposes of turbary."
I think that meets the point.
In view of the statement of the Minister on my amendment I ask leave to withdraw it.
I beg to move the following amendment to the Section:
In Sub-Section (1), line 28, to add after the word "embankment" the word "foreshore," and in line 36 to delete the words "Land Bonds sufficient to yield," and to substitute therefor the words "such amount of Land Bonds as will be adequate to place the said works in repair and in addition to provide."
We want to have this amendment inserted in the Bill because, in a good many cases where landlords had liabilities with regard to foreshore and embankments, they have been neglected for the last fifteen or twenty years, and at present are in a very bad condition indeed. I know in the case of an embankment on the River Barrow, that the money set aside under the purchase agreement for its maintenance has been exhausted, and now the question of its maintenance rests between the tenants and the Land Commission. I might say that before the money was set aside for its maintenance the bank was not in a proper condition, with the result that the amount set aside is altogether inadequate for its maintenance. We want to have these embankments, and the water courses, maintained in a proper condition, and the object of the amendment is to have reasonable safeguards provided for that purpose. We suggest that it is only fair, because the property that is being sold is the property of the landlord, and if the property has deteriorated, owing to the neglect of the water courses or the embankments, the money required to put them in a proper condition again ought to be provided out of the proceeds of the sale of the property. Otherwise, the State will have to assume a huge responsibility which, I suppose, would fall ultimately on the tenants.
I rise to support the amendment because it proposes to deal with a matter in which the people in my area are vitally concerned. When the landlord is being purchased out, he must be purchased out on conditions that applied in the past as regards his obligations to maintain embankments. This is a matter that concerns not only the people in my area, but a great many others as well. When the landlord is bought out, there should be deducted from the amount payable to him a sum sufficient in Land Bonds to ensure that his obligations in the past will be fulfilled in the future and so that protection will be afforded for the tenants who acquire that property. In the past, the landlords were bound to comply with a condition of that kind. We have a very important question of that sort in our area, and it applies to a great many people. The landlord now is under no obligation to keep the embankment, or at least the greater portion of it in repair, so as to protect the interests affected by these embankments. That is a matter, I think, that must be watched very carefully by the Land Commission, who must have power to deduct from the landlord, or rather from the purchase price, a sufficient sum in Land Bonds to continue in the future the protection afforded in the past by the landlords on these embankments. The Land Commission should see that the whole responsibility will not be thrown on the tenants, and that this obligation of the landlord in the past will not be overlooked in carrying out the purchase transactions.
I do not see what relation "foreshore" has in regard to this question. I think Deputy Gorey does not understand what that word covers. It might cover an extent of seashore a mile broad.
I mean on tidal rivers, such as the Shannon.
I do not think Deputy McGoldrick quite realises the nature of the amendment. I will read the Section for him: "Where it appears to the Judicial Commissioner that any watercourse, drain, embankment, or other work has, prior to the appointed day, been cleansed or maintained in whole or in part by or at the expense of the landlord, or in the case of untenanted land the owner, either alone or in conjunction with other persons, and whether under the terms of a contract of tenancy or otherwise, he may direct that out of the Land Bonds representing the purchase money there shall be transferred and applied in manner hereinafter provided, Land Bonds sufficient to yield an income equivalent to the average annual expenditure incurred by the landlord or owner in such cleansing or maintenance during a period of ten normal years."
That provides that out of the purchase money there shall be set aside "Land Bonds sufficient to yield an income equivalent to the average annual expenditure incurred by the landlord or owner in such cleansing or maintenance during a period of ten normal years." That is what Deputy McGoldrick was speaking in favour of, and it is in the Section. Deputy Gorey's amendment goes further, because it says to delete the words "Land Bonds sufficient to yield" and to add therefor the words "such amount of Land Bonds as will be adequate to place the said works in repair and in addition to provide" (the Section to read on) "an income equivalent to the average annual expenditure incurred by the landlord or owner in such cleansing or maintenance during a period of ten normal years." That is to say, that not only should there be deducted, and be set aside from the Land Bonds, an amount sufficient to keep the embankment and the foreshore in repair, but that there should be set aside from the Land Bonds an amount sufficient to put them in proper repair to start with. The Deputy quoted the case of the Barrow. I suppose if you bought out two or three of the biggest estates adjoining the River Barrow, the total purchase money would not be sufficient to do even half the work that Deputy Gorey contemplates in his amendment. In practically every case, the work would eat up the whole of the purchase money.
What about the Shannon?
The Shannon is in the same position as the case I have quoted. It may be that it was the landlord's fault, or it may be that it was not right at any time that the landlord should have had to keep the embankments on a river like the Shannon. No private individual could keep the river embankments of the Shannon or Barrow right. It would be quite impossible, and that is the real point in the case.
That is true with regard to embankments, but I am urging the cases of watercourses and drains.
Your amendment in eludes "embankments" and " foreshore." As I have stated, to do work of that kind would take practically three times as much as the purchase money of the estate in most cases.
I believe the word "foreshore" is too broad a term to use in this connection.
Under your amendment there is the question of maintaining the embankments, and that, I think, is really a matter for the State. If you do set aside, out of the price you give the landlord for the land, a sum sufficient to keep these things in repair, or in the repair they were kept in for the last ten years, then you are taking a big sum out of the purchase money, and you are doing as much at his expense as you should do. Anything further should be done by the State.
The Minister, I think, has missed my point. It is all right to say that a certain sum of money has been expended on works of this kind during the last ten years, but I say that no money has been expended on them during that period, and they have been utterly neglected. This amendment applies to watercourses and drains and not to embankments, and I hold that they have been utterly neglected during the last ten years. No money at all has been expended on them.
I am sure that during the last two or three years at any rate the sum expended on them has been nil.
I maintain that the period goes back ten years.
The words in the Section are "any watercourse, drain, embankment, or other work." That does not refer to the streams that flow through the tenant's holdings. If small streams of that character have been allowed to become choked, then really the tenant himself is to blame. The tenant who would allow a stream three feet wide to become choked on his farm and do incalculable damage, even though the landlord should have kept the stream cleaned, is really to blame himself. The tenant who would allow that to occur is as much to blame as the landlord, even though it is supposed to be the landlord's duty. Let us be clear. The section says "water course, drain, embankment or other work." That does not mean the ordinary stream you find flowing through a tenant's holding. I presume we are not disputing about that. Two men could do that in a day.
I am not disputing about ordinary drains. I am dealing only with main water courses.
We are dealing then with the bigger water courses—the River Shannon and the Barrow and the Suck, and numerous other big rivers that take a lot of upkeep. We propose to set aside from the landlord's purchase money a sum to yield a sufficient income to keep the works in an average state of repair. We propose to do that in the Section, but the Deputy proposes to go further and to set aside, not only what would yield an income sufficient to keep them in repair, but to set aside an amount which would put them into proper order. In 99 cases out of 100 that would eat up three times the purchase money. On the Barrow or the Shannon or on any of the big rivers it would simply eat up the purchase money. It would be for the Land Commission to say, in all fairness, what ought to have been expended for the last 10 years in upkeep and to set aside a reasonable amount. The Land Commission are not going to force a landlord or a landowner to drain the Barrow or the Suck or any of these bigger rivers.
I did not ask them
Deputy Gorey, in moving this amendment, referred to the Barrow. Everybody is acquainted with the conditions concerning the flooding of the Barrow. I would like to know what is to be given under this Clause to the tenants who, in order to save their land from flooding, made drains when in some cases that was the liability of the landlords. When the question of the Barrow and the Shannon, and the question of drainage generally, comes to be inquired into, the liability of the present owners of the waterways to maintain the embankments or drains will have to be inquired into. Tenants did a certain amount of work voluntarily which was really the landlord's work or the work of the people who owned or controlled the waterways. These are cases that should be taken into consideration when this matter is being considered by the Commissioners, and credit should be given to those people who have done work voluntarily in order to save their land from the flooding on the Barrow and the Shannon.
It will probably be necessary, in view of what the Minister has said, to introduce words into this Section to make it clear that the landlord who has neglected his work will not get off scot free in this matter. Otherwise it might happen that a landlord who spent £50 per annum during the last 10 or 15 years on these works would have stopped out of his purchase money a certain amount of bonds to produce that £50, whereas another landlord who expended no money and did no repairs would have nothing stopped out of his purchase money. It should be made quite definite that it will be within the power of the Land Commission to say what would have been a reasonable sum to expend in the upkeep of such works, and that a certain amount should be stopped from the purchase money of such a landlord to provide for the work which he should have done.
A good many of these properties are only valuable by reason of the condition in which the water courses are kept. Kept badly, the lands are valueless. I would like to know what will be the position in regard to foreshore rights. Where tenants' property abuts on the foreshore, will the landlord still have the right to the sea front and to the seaweed, which is very important in certain districts of the country? Personally I am not interested in it, and I know very little about it, but it would be well that the right should be defined. I know big tracts of the Midlands where drainage has been neglected and the water courses neglected. Down in Kildare and Queen's County——
On a point of order, the Deputy should draw attention to these matters on Report. We are on a specific section now, and if we get away from specific sections we will never get through with the Bill.
In line 37 of this Section it says "Land Bonds sufficient to yield an income equivalent to the average annual expenditure incurred by the landlord or owner." I know a case where there has been no expenditure at all for the last 10 years, and the work is absolutely defective.
I will undertake to put in words to meet the point made by Deputy O'Connell and Deputy Gorey—that is, where you have two landlords equally liable. One landlord did work and the other did not. The landlord who did the work might, as the Bill stands, be mulcted for so doing. There is a danger that something like that might occur, and I will put in words to meet it.
I move amendment 72
To add after the word "shall," line 8, the words "(a) in the case of tenanted land vest in the tenant, and (b) in the case of untenanted land shall.”
The Minister gave a promise on the Second Reading that this matter would be attended to, and we have put in words which would give effect to the promise.
Deputy Gorey's amendment would hardly meet the case. The Section would then read: "All sporting rights and all fisheries appurtenant thereto shall (a) in the case of tenanted land vest in the tenant, and (b) in the case of untenanted land shall' vest in the Land Commission.” That would apply to fisheries as well as to sporting rights as you have it drafted. I am not prepared to agree to that. Fishing is one thing, but sporting rights is another. I suggest the following amendment in Section 38:—
To delete this section, and insert:—
38.—(1) On the vesting of any lands in the Land Commission under this Act, all sporting rights as defined in Sub-section (2) of Section 13 of the Irish Land Act, 1903, including such sporting rights as may be superior interests, and all fisheries appurtenant to the said lands shall vest in the Land Commission, subject to any lease then existing, as if the owner or owners had agreed to sell them at such price as in the absence of agreement shall be fixed by the Land Commission (other than the Judicial Commissioner), or by the Judicial Commissioner on appeal from the Land Commission, regard being had in fixing such price to the fair value of the sporting rights and fisheries to the Land Commission and to the owner or owners respectively.
Provided that in the case of tenanted land the sporting rights other than fishing rights and fisheries shall be deemed to be of no appreciable value.
(2) Where the tenant of a holding of tenanted land is deemed to have entered into a subsequent purchase agreement for the purchase of the holding from the Land Commission under this Act, the sporting rights on and over the holding other than fishing rights and fisheries shall be vested in him with the holding.
(3) The purchase money of all such sporting rights and fisheries shall be paid in 4½ per cent. Land Bonds.
(4) The Land Commission shall have power to make regulations conferring and defining rights of passage through and over any lands to any river or lake and along the banks or shores of any such river or lake which in the opinion of the Land Commission may be necessary or expedient for the proper user and enjoyment of any fishing rights vested in the Land Commission under this Act.
There is no purchase money for sporting rights on or over tenanted land. The monies referred to are for sporting rights on untenanted lands which are extremely valuable There are large tracts of bogs which are valuable for sporting rights. They will be vested in the Land Commission, who will let them in the ordinary way. They will let them to the people who are most entitled to them. There are previous clauses in the Bill which give us the power to make sure that we have rights-of-way on banks of rivers or any rights-of-way we require in connection with fisheries.
We have not had time to read that amendment, but I expect the Section is going to be recommitted to Committee.
It should be clearly understood I am not going to recommit any section that is passed. I shall only recommit those that I have given an undertaking to recommit.
We had not time to study this. This is one of the sections we would like to have power to recommit.
It is open to the Deputy to propose an amendment to this section later on.
That will be done.
Does the Minister propose to introduce that now as an amendment at this stage?
I was going to ask the permission of the Dáil to do so.
Does Deputy Gorey consent to withdraw Amendment 72 and substitute this instead?
I know of several harbours the sporting rights of which never have been protected. The tenants along the foreshore make their living out of them. I would like to ask the Minister would those be included in sporting rights ?
The sporting rights of tenanted land will go to the tenant for nothing. Whether in a particular case certain sporting rights will go I cannot say until I know all the facts. The case would be governed by the facts. We cannot do more than to say that "the sporting rights of tenanted land will go to the tenant."
But this is not land at all; it is a kind of foreshore.
May I suggest that the proposal of the Minister, which he will admit is very important, and I think will be generally acceptable, be deferred to the Report Stage, and that this amendment, be circulated meantime, with notice that it is to be moved on the Report Stage? That would meet the desires of Deputy Gorey and the rest of the Dáil.
I will do that.
I want to ask a question with regard to mineral rights.
On a point of order, may I ask are we dealing with mineral rights on this section?
I shall withdraw my amendment.
I do agree it is very desirable that we should see this proposed amendment if possible, but would it not be better to adopt it now, so that we will have it in print as soon as we get this Bill circulated for the next stage, rather than adopt a section which seems not at all consistent with the amendment that the Minister has read out? As far as I can understand his amendment, it carries out pretty much what was in this Section, only in a different way. All sporting rights, he suggested, on untenanted land shall vest in the Land Commission, and to this he adds some proviso that in the case of tenanted land those sporting rights shall be deemed to be of no appreciable value —that is to say, that it will exclude them from the provision in this Section that they are to vest in the Land Commission, as if the owner had agreed to purchase them at such price as in the absence of agreement shall be fixed by the Land Commission. The Section fixed nothing for sporting rights, which is probably the value of sporting rights on tenanted land to anybody except the tenant, who, of course, can enjoy them himself, and prevent anybody else from getting any value out of them. Fisheries are another matter. The amendment of Deputy Gorey might have been very dangerous. It is right that all fisheries that vest in somebody other than the present owner should vest in the Land Commission, because if you happen to have two purchasing tenants with fishing rights on their holdings on opposite sides of the river, neither fishery will be worth anything either to the State or anybody else if the tenants choose to exercise the rights they ossess. No doubt fisheries are capable of being of great value to the State in many different ways. Therefore it is quite right that they themselves should see that those who now become possessors of their holdings, and who had leased their fishing rights to persons who owned the general fishing rights of a stream, should not be in a position to destroy the whole value of the fishing rights in the stream to others above and below. This amendment vests all fisheries in the Land Commission, and all sporting rights of untenanted land, at a price to be fixed. On tenanted land it will work automatically; there will be no price at all. I suggest we would have a better opportunity of seeing the full bearing of this amendment if we had it in print as a part of the Section when we come on to the next stage rather than if we had the Section as it stands here, with a slip of paper containing the amendment. It would be easier to study it if you had it in the place it would be in if the Bill is passed, rather than try and read it into the Section with which it has no actual physical connection. Therefore, I would ask Deputy Johnson to adopt the amendment read out, and then we will be in a position to tackle it on the Report Stage when we have time.
The only point in this matter is that the Dáil would be entitled to see an amendment of so important a nature before committing itself to accepting it. I think, however, it will be generally acceptable, and my first proposition was that it should be circulated in typewritten form at an early date, so that it could be considered on the Report Stage. If the Bill is to be printed and circulated with due notice before the Report Stage, then the proposition made by Deputy Fitzgibbon is quite satisfactory, and on that assumption I have no objection to accepting the amendment in this form at this stage, especially as I think it does meet the case made to the Minister in regard to those rights of fishermen who have for generations been working, say, at the mouth of the Shannon about Limerick, and on other rivers. I think it secures for them something for which they have been looking, and which prevents possible evils arising affecting them. If there is time to consider this amendment after the Bill, as amended, is circulated, and before the Report Stage, then I think the amendment might be accepted now.
The Deputies may take it that there will be time. There will be three days or more between the time the Bill will be in the hands of Deputies and the Report Stage. Of course, this Section can, be recommitted.
I am very much interested in the question of sporting rights. There are, as everybody is aware, a number of mountains in Wicklow on which there are sporting rights.
If this Section is to be recommitted, the Deputy, I suggest, will have an opportunity of later arguing the case. He should defer his argument until the recommitted section is introduced.
The Minister for Agriculture does not recollect that I will be going home to-morrow, and I will have twenty-four men outside my door waiting to know something about the sporting rights.
I beg to propose the suggested amendment.
We will be quite satisfied if the section is recast so as to include the substance of what we are now agreed on.
All I want to know is what the Minister is doing.
We are vesting the sporting rights on tenanted land in the tenants for nothing.
Quite so, but as regards the men owning the mountains, they pay rent for them, and they want the sporting rights.
They are getting those rights under the suggested amendment if they are tenants.
The landlord at the present time keeps a gamekeeper on these mountains, and the tenants cannot go looking for any game except surreptitiously. Those men are quite willing that when the Land Commission buys the rights from the landlord, as provided in the Act, to pay for them to the Land Commission, if that would meet the case.
That would exactly meet the case. The Land Commission can let the lands to whom they like if there are valuable sporting rights.
I would like to point out that if the Land Commission gets the sporting rights, and the tenant gets permission from the Land Commission, there will then be no sporting rights, no game. This is a matter on which some agreement should be come to.
Where does the question of mineral rights arise in the Bill?
It will be dealt with on recommittal in a section that will be proposed later.
On a point of order, before we reach those new sections under the heading of the National Land Bank, I may say that I have read them, and I am perfectly sure that I do not understand what they mean. I have asked learned Deputies what they mean, and they too have failed to get a grasp of them. It is perfectly apparent they introduce something entirely new, and that was not before the Dáil on the Second Reading. I suggest it would be fairer to the Dáil, to the Clauses, and to whatever they intend to achieve, that the Minister might be able to deal with them all as one, and if necessary take a further Second Reading. I do not know whether that is practicable or possible, but certainly some procedure ought to be adopted by which we will be able to deal with all the amendments from No. 73 to No. 80 as one, in order that the Minister might explain to the Dáil why they are being moved, what caused them to be introduced now, and what exactly they mean.
I do not think everybody is in such a state over those new sections as the Deputy who spoke. The meaning of the amendments is quite clear to anybody who knows anything about land purchase or the operations of the National Land Bank. I referred, as a matter of fact, to this matter on the Second Reading. The amendments are long, but they effect a very simple purpose. The National Land Bank financed £339,000 worth of sales during 1919, 1920 and 1921. A number of men got together and purchased fee-simple land. The National Land Bank put up the purchase money. They compelled the purchasers to form a co-operative society, and they made an advance to the society. The society gave a mortgage to the Land Bank for the full amount of the purchase money, so that the present position is, so far as this £339,000 is concerned, the Bank hold mortgages for that amount for land in various parts of the country, the land being owned in fee-simple by these co-operative societies. The trouble is over interest and sinking fund. The Bank compelled the co-operative societies to repay the money at the rate of 7 per cent for seven years, 6 per cent. for ten years, and 5 per cent. for thirteen years. Most of these societies are paying something like 7 per cent. on the money. That was all right in 1919 and 1920, but under present conditions it is not an economic proposition. We have come to the rescue, and the Land Bank is quite agreeable. We are advancing the money. In effect we are buying the land from the society, reselling to the society, and paying off the Land Bank mortgage. Roughly, if there is a mortgage of £10,000 on the lands of any society, the Government can buy the land at £10,000, advance £10,000 worth of Bonds to the Land Bank, and allow the society to repay that at the rate of four and three-quarters per cent. for 68½ years.
If we take a specific case it would make it quite simple. Assume a society owns a farm of land in fee-simple, a farm of about 600 acres, and that there is a mortgage on that of £10,000, a mortgage held by the Land Bank. The Land Commission, under the provisions of this Act, purchased that 600 acres. They are enabled to pay off any mortgages in Bonds. The provisions of the Act allow the society who are the owners of the land to pay off any mortgages in Bonds. The society does pay them off; they pay them £10,000 in Bonds. They repay that £10,000 worth of bonds by an annuity, just the same as any other tenant purchaser. The advantage to the society is that they are getting the money at 4½ per cent. interest instead of a 7 per cent. loan. That will help to put these societies on their feet.
Before this amendment is passed I would like to ask the Minister if societies are formed to purchase land in a similar way to the land purchased under the Land Bank, would these societies also come under this amendment?
We cannot have a discussion on it before the Dáil, but the Minister may answer a question.
I thought the Minister would include societies such as these.
This only deals with Land Bank societies.
I move: To insert before Section. 40 the following new section:—
The provisions of Part II. of this Act shall not, save as provided in this part of this Act, apply to any lands which have been purchased by a Co-operative Farming Society (in this part of this Act called a Society), or by a body of trustees, by means of advances made by the National Land Bank, Limited (in this part of this Act called the Bank), and which, at the date of the passing of this Act, are subject to a charge for repayment of such advances, or any part thereof.
One of the reasons why it is confined to the Land Bank Societies is that the Land Bank was started by the Dáil. It was financed by the Dáil, and we cannot escape responsibility for the transactions in which it was involved. It was formed at a time when there was a danger that a special land division movement would cut across the national struggle that was going on. To prevent the energies of the country being dissipated the old Dáil set up Land Courts, which gave decisions as to land to which claims were made. Then, in order that these decisions might be financed, the Land Bank was set up, and it carried on its work very largely as political work in order to prevent, as I said, the land agitation from cutting across the national struggle and reaching unmanageable dimensions. The idea was to give the hope to the people who would otherwise be inclined to go in and secure land on their own, to secure it by purchase. It was only able to carry out its work to a small extent. The total number of acres purchased was 10,730, and the number of people in the Societies who acquired land was 879.
It was, perhaps, as well that the Land Bank was not able to buy more land than was bought, for at that time these people were willing to pay anything for land. The Land Bank was continually refusing to finance transactions because the people concerned were willing to pay a far greater price than the Bank thought they ought to pay. It was not able to keep the price down in the way in which it should be kept down. In those boom years people were willing to pay any prices, without regard to the future. These transactions served a very good purpose in their time, and there is no reason why the people who entered into these transactions should be let down, as they would be let down if we allowed that very heavy burden upon them.
Will the Minister say where is the provision in the Bill which says the Land Bank is to be paid off in Bonds?
It is in a subsequent section.
I have looked through the subsequent sections, and I failed to find it.
Before Deputy Gavan Duffy spoke I was going to suggest that the explanation of the Minister for Agriculture is a very clear and lucid one, and that it is much more clear than these sections with which it deals. His explanation deals with matters not included in those sections.
Will the Deputy point out the matters not included in the section?
I may say that I asked that question for the purpose of information. I am considerably interested in the Land Bank, and I am glad to see that at last it is getting something like official recognition. A statement has been made to us which opens up a new vista for the future of that bank, and one would like to see this particularly important point as to the bank having to take Bonds.
It is in a subsequent section. It is dealt with by Amendment 77.
I beg to move:— To insert before Section 40 the following new section:—
All land purchased by a society or body of trustees, by means of an advance made by the Bank, shall, if any part of the advance is unpaid, vest in the Land Commission on the appointed day, in like manner and with the like consequences as if Vesting Orders under the Land Purchase Acts had been made on the appointed day in respect thereof, in pursuance of subsequent purchase agreements entered into by the Land Commission with the society or body of trustees, at the price fixed under the provisions contained in this part of this Act.
I beg to move:— To insert before Section 40 the following new section:—
The Bank shall furnish in writing to the Land Commission particulars of the lands so purchased, of the portion of the purchase money (if any) deposited with them by the society or body of trustees, of the advance made by them for the purchase thereof, of the amount due them in respect of such advance, and of the superior interests and other charges (if any) subject to which the lands were purchased by the society or body of trustees, together with such other particulars as the Land Commission may require and prescribe, and shall lodge with the Land Commission such deeds, documents, and maps as may be necessary for the purpose of verifying the particulars so furnished.
This Section merely provides that any particulars that the Land Commission wants can be obtained by it from the Land Bank.
I move:—"To insert before Section 40 the following new section:—
The Land Commission shall, from time to time, publish notices containing particulars of the lands so purchased, and of the superior interests and other charges, including the charge for the repayment of the advance due to the Bank, subject to which they were purchased, and such notices shall prescribe the time within which and the manner in which objections to such notices may be made, by reason of the inclusion or non-inclusion therein of any lands, or the omission or misdescription of any such superior interest or charge as aforesaid.
That speaks for itself. It is a very simple thing. I do not know why any Deputy cannot understand that.
I beg to move:— To insert before Section 40 the following new section:—
The Land Commission (other than the Judicial Commissioner) shall consider all objections duly made, and there shall be a right of appeal to the Judicial Commissioner, whose decision shall be final. The Judicial Commissioner shall, if he is satisfied that prior to the date of the passing of this Act the Society or body of Trustees had a good title to the lands so purchased, free from incumbrances, save the charge securing the repayment of the advance due to the Bank, and any superior interests or land purchase annuities, ascertain the superior interests issuing out of the lands, and shall fix the redemption price of all such superior interests and annuities, and shall also ascertain the amount due for principal (without giving credit for the deposit, if any, lodged with the Bank by the Society or body of Trustees) and interest on foot of the charge securing the repayment of the advance due to the Bank, and shall fix the price of the lands at such sum as shall be sufficient to redeem and pay off all such superior interests and annuities, and the charge securing the repayment of the advance due to the Bank, together with such costs as may be allowed by him. When the Bank shall have satisfied the Land Commission that they have repaid to the Society or body of Trustees such deposits as aforesaid, the price so ascertained, of which one-eleventh shall be contributed by the State, shall be paid in 4½ per cent. Land Bonds on the appointed day.
I might mention that it was the custom of the Bank to require societies to lodge on deposit in the Bank one-fourth of the purchase money. The Bank took a mortgage, however, for the full purchase money. This money here was merely lodged on deposit account. The interest accumulated, and helped, together with the 7 per cent. interest, the current interest, to redeem the loan. The State is paying one-eleventh of the purchase money in relief of the societies.
If the Minister will look more closely at the Section he will see that the objection I ventured to raise was not wholly unreasonable, because the Section to which he refers provides for the price being paid in Bonds. Of course, if that means the redemption price, the money to be paid for redeeming the mortgage to the Bank, it does provide that the Bank is to take Bonds. But I do not think it is clear. It would look as if it were an ordinary provision as to purchase price. The question you have to deal with is the payment back of money to the Bank, so that the word "price" is misleading if that is intended to mean that the Bank is to take its payment in Bonds.
I do not think it is. "The Judicial Commissioner shall, if he is satisfied that prior to the date of the passing of this Act the Society or body of Trustees had a good title to the lands so purchased, free from incumbrances, save the charge securing the repayment of the advance due to the Bank, and any superior interests or land purchase annuities, ascertain the superior interests issuing out of the lands, and shall fix the redemption price of all such superior interests and annuities, and shall also ascertain the amount due for principal (without giving credit for the deposit, if any, lodged with the Bank by the Society or body of Trustees) and interest on foot of the charge securing the repayment of the advance due to the Bank, and shall fix the price of the lands at such sum as shall be sufficient to redeem and pay off all such superior interests and annuities, and the charge securing the repayment of the advance due to the Bank, together with such costs as may be allowed by him." Does not that make it clear?
I do not think it makes it clear that the Bank must take payment in Bonds.
"Shall fix the price of the lands at such sum as shall be sufficient to redeem and pay off all such superior interests and annuities." The superior interests referred to are all possible superior interests and annuities, including the annuity due to the Bank on foot of the mortgage. The price shall be such "as shall be sufficient to redeem and pay off all such superior interests and annuities, and the charge securing the repayment of the advance due to the Bank, together with such costs as may be allowed by him. When the Bank shall have satisfied the Land Commission that they have repaid to the Society or body of Trustees such deposit as aforesaid, the price so ascertained, of which one-eleventh shall be contributed by the State, shall be paid in 4½ per cent. Land Bonds on the appointed day." The price will include not only the debt to the Bank, but the debt of perhaps the owner of some other superior interest. This land is like any other fee-simple land we are buying. There are superior interests on it. It is in exactly the same case as land owned by an ordinary owner in fee-simple who has his superior interests, and who has his mortgage. The Society own the land. They have a mortgage to the Land Bank; they may have to pay head rent to somebody else. The price includes the value of all the mortgages and head rents, and the price so ascertained, of which one-eleventh shall be contributed by the State, shall be paid in 4½ per cent. Land Bonds.
Perhaps I am unduly stupid, but I confess I see a difficulty. To say that the price shall be paid in Bonds is not the same as to say that the mortgage is to be paid in Bonds. Even after the Minister has read the provision of the Section in which the word "price" occurs twice I remain of the same opinion, that it is not made clear that the Bank is to be paid in Bonds.
The Bank will be very glad to be paid in Bonds.
It is perfectly clear: Amendment 74, which we have passed, says:—
All land purchased by a society or body of trustees, by means of an advance made by the Bank, shall, if any part of the advance is unpaid, vest in the Land Commission on the appointed day, in like manner and with the like consequences as if Vesting Orders under the Land Purchase Acts had been made on the appointed day in respect thereof, in pursuance of subsequent purchase agreements entered into by the Land Commission with the society or body of trustees, at the price fixed under the provisions contained in this part of this Act.
That makes these sections read with the rest of the Bill for the purpose of paying off mortgages.
It really depends on the reference back.
Am I right in saying that the Bank, which has advanced £1,900 on this land, will now be paid £2,800 in stock—4¾ per cent. Stock instead of 7 per cent.—is that the meaning of it?
If I were quite clear as to what the Deputy wanted to know I would answer him, but I am not.
It has been stated that the Bank is to take stock instead of their advance. Is that right?
The Bank is in exactly the same position as the owner of any other superior interest. They will get the full amount of their advance like any other mortgagee, but they will be paid in stock.
They have already advanced money at 7 per cent. to these societies.
It is not advanced at 7 per cent., but with Sinking Fund it amounts to 7 per cent.
That makes a slight difference—½ per cent., I suppose.
A great deal more than that.
The 7 per cent. in any case, with the money now at 4¾ per cent., works out at the figures I stated.
What is the Deputy's point?
If the Bank has advanced £1,900 to these societies, and holds them responsible for 7 per cent. to cover Sinking Fund and interest on that money, and it is now proposed to give the Bank stock in lieu of that 7 per cent. interest to bring them the same return at 4¾ per cent., that would amount to the figures I have stated.
They will not be paying back the interest, but the principal, the same as to any other mortgagee.
How much are those tenants getting as a reduction in rent by this?
A little more than the difference between the 7 per cent. and the 4¾ per cent., in view of the fact that we are paying off one-eleventh of the purchase money.
I am not opposed to this. I am very glad, for the sake of the tenants and for the National Land Bank, that this amendment has been introduced, but there are other tenants in the country similarly situated to the tenants affected here. What I want to know is, will these tenants be in the same position to get relief from their heavy financial responsibilities as the tenants under this Clause?
These Sections only deal with societies, and I am sure the Deputy has in mind a case where a number of landless men bought untenanted land one or two years ago and divided it up. They are now the owners in fee simple, each of a little bit, but owing a lot of money to the Bank.
They are collectively and individually responsible the same as the societies.
Is there not a difference between the case the Deputy has in mind and the National Land Bank —namely, that the other banks did not advance the whole of the money, or anything like it?
They advanced on the same terms.
Another point suggests itself. I do not know what the terms of the deposits may have been, but it occurs to me that some difficulty may arise between the societies and the banks. When this Bill is passed all the societies will be looking for immediate attention. The last clause says that when the Bank shall have satisfied the Land Commission that they have repaid to the society or body of trustees such deposit of £100,000, whether the deposit receipts are redeemable, and whether the money can be demanded at any time, or about the same time, may cause difficulty. I wonder has that point been considered.
That is a thing we could not inquire into really. The money is there on deposit receipt, and the tenants are entitled to it, and it is provided here that they shall get back that deposit if they so demand it. These sections were prepared in consultation with the National Land Bank.
—I beg to move:— To insert before Section 40 a new Section as follows:—
Subject to the provisions hereinafter contained, each Society or body of Trustees, which on the appointed day was in occupation of lands so purchased and vested in the Land Commission under the provisions of this part of this Act, shall be deemed, on the appointed day, to have entered into a subsequent purchase agreement with the Land Commission for the purchase of the lands from them, at a price equivalent to ten-elevenths of the price fixed under the provisions of the foregoing section.
There shall be payable by the Society or body of Trustees to the Land Commission an annual sum, calculated at the rate of 4¾ per cent. upon the sum for which the Society or body of Trustees is deemed to have agreed to purchase the lands, from the appointed day until the gale day next after the vesting of the lands in the Society or body of Trustees, or until the cesser and determination of the interest of the Society or body of Trustees in the lands.
The Land Commission shall have for the recovery of such annual sum the same remedies as they have for the recovery of unpaid instalments of Purchase Annuity.
There shall be payable by the Society or body of Trustees to the Land Commission, on the gale day on which the first instalment of the said annual sum shall become payable by them, an additional sum, equivalent to a proportion of the said annual sum, in respect of the period between the said gale day and the day on which the next dividends are payable on Land Bonds issued under this Act. The Land Commission shall have for the recovery of such additional sum the same remedies as they have for the recovery of unpaid instalments of purchase annuity.
All payments made by a Society or body of Trustees after the appointed day on foot of the annual sum payable to the Land Commission under this Section shall, from and after the vesting of the parcel in them be treated for all purposes as if they had been payments in respect of Purchase Annuity.
I think some provision should be made for the tenants affected by other Banks. Would it not be essential to these tenants, while this Bill is going through the Dáil, that they should be put in an equivalent position to those who are responsible to the Land Bank? I would like to have some provision made in the Bill, as I think otherwise it would be a great injustice on men who purchased on the same terms, simply because they had not purchased through the Land Bank.
You can ask a question of the Minister but you cannot make a speech. There is no amendment on the paper dealing with these tenants.
I am asking the Minister to put in an amendment later on to meet the point I have raised.
They are actually provided for already in the Bill. Most of these cases will vest as untenanted land in the Land Commission in the congested districts. The land will be re-sold to the owners. At present we are dealing with special sections referring to the Land Bank.
Is it not in the competence of any Deputy dealing with an amendment to complain that the amendment has a less extended range than he considers it justifiably should have?
The Deputy can ask a question but he cannot raise a discussion.
—I beg to move:—
To insert before Section 40 a new Section as follows:—
(1) After the appointed day, where the Land Commission are satisfied that lands so purchased and vested in the Land Commission have been properly managed, after the methods of good husbandry, and that the Society or body of Trustees is properly constituted under the rules governing such Societies, or the Deed of Trust appointing such Trustees and approved by the Land Commission, and has conducted its affairs according to such rules or such deed, and has not done or suffered any act, by reason of which the Society is liable to be wound up or dissolved or the body of Trustees is liable to be declared bankrupt or insolvent, the lands shall be vested in the Society or body of Trustees by means of a Vesting Order or otherwise.
(2) Where the Land Commission are not satisfied that the foregoing conditions have been fulfilled, and so declare in the prescribed manner, then the interest of the Society or body of Trustees in the land shall absolutely cease and determine, and the lands shall be retained by the Land Commission, as if they had been untenanted lands vested in the Land Commission under the provisions of Part II. of this Act.
—I beg to move:—
To insert before Section 40 a new Section as follows:—
The provisions contained in Part I. of this Act as to the costs fund shall not apply to proceedings under this Part of this Act.
I move "that the new Sections stand part of the Bill."
I move:—To delete Sub-section (4) and to substitute in lieu thereof the following Sub-section:—
"The registered owner and such other persons as may be prescribed, may at any time apply to the registering authority to ascertain the full title to the lands, and to enter on the register the burdens thereon and the rights and interest therein, which have not been affected or prejudiced by the registration of the ownership, with a possessory or qualified title, and the registering authority shall thereupon ascertain and enter on the register such burdens, rights and interests, and shall cancel on the register the registration, with qualified or possessory title, and thereupon the registration shall have the same effect as registration of a full or limited owner under the Act of 1891.
"If it is found on the examination of any application that registration with a qualified title only can be effected, registration with such title may be made."
It is really a matter of altering the wording. The Sub-section provides for the discharge of equities in cases where the holding is vested and registered subject to equities, which is the ordinary procedure applied to purchased land. I am sure a great many Deputies know what the discharge of equities means and that it is unnecessary to explain it.
I move:—To delete the words "before they have been," lines 28 and 29, and to insert in lieu thereof the words "without being." This is merely a verbal alteration.
I move:—To delete the words "the said," lines 34 and 36, and to substitute therefor the word "such," and to delete the word "to," line 36.
I move:—After the word "applicant," line 45, to delete all the words to the end of the Sub-section, and to substitute therefor the words "to such uses and upon such trusts as the lands would have stood limited had such person been registered as owner immediately prior to his death.
I move:—In Sub-Section (1), lines 9 and 10, to delete all from the word "and" to the word "contravention" inclusive, and to substitute therefor the words "and the proprietor shall be bound to cultivate the holding or parcel in accordance with proper methods of husbandry, to the satisfaction of the Land Commission; and on any failure to comply with the requirements of this Sub-section."
The object of this amendment is to have inserted these provisions which we brought on before, giving the Land Commission certain supervision over the conduct of the holding. There is certain supervision provided for in the Section, which states that there shall be no sub-division or letting. The amendment tries to secure also that there shall be not merely negative action but positive action, and that there shall be proper cultivation. I hope the Minister will see his way to accept the amendment.
This is practically the same as we had in amendment 62. We have agreed to a substituted amendment, and I need not now go into the question that was then raised. The Deputy, I think, knows that I have gone as far as I possibly could.
"To add after the word `Council,' Sub-section (4), page 20, lines 17 and 21, the words `or Town Commissioners,' and to add after the word `Councils,' line 25, the words `and Town Commissioners,' and to add after the words `Poor Rate,' line 28, the words `and for lands purchased by Town Commissioners under this Section out of the Town Rate.' "
In the absence of Deputy Burke I beg to move this amendment.
An Ceann Comhairle resumed the chair at this stage.
Amendment 87 by
"In Sub-section (4), page 20, line 17, to delete the words `Urban District Council,' and to substitute therefor the words `County Borough Council, Urban District Council, or Town Commissioners,' and in line 21, after the word `Council,' to insert the words `Town Commissioners.' "
These two amendments are practically the same. My suggestion is that "Town Commissioners" be added to the first.
The amendment which it is proposed to add to 86 is "In Sub-section (4) of Section 52, after the word `for' to insert `A County Borough Council or' and in line 27, after the word `purchased by,' to insert the words `a County Borough Council or.' "
Might I suggest that there should be included in line 17 the words, "Town Commissioners"
That is in 86 already. This is to add to 86.
I suggest that the shortest way out of this would be that Amendment 86 should be accepted and that in leaving 87 the Minister will agree to include the purpose of this in the next reading.
I think that would be simpler. The Minister accepts the substance of that?
"To add after the word ‘Commission,' the words: ‘not more than one year from the date of the passing of this Act.'"
This amendment is put up to make more definite the date of the appointed day. Its object is to make it as soon as possible.
We cannot fix the appointed day. There are many reasons why the appointed day should be fixed from the point of view of giving people an idea of when they can be sure they own their land. If we were to put down a date at all we should have to say about five years, and put in a provision leaving some authority to the Minister for Agriculture, or somebody, to extend the appointed day, because, as long as the operations of this Act continue—and I daresay they will continue for a great many years—it will be necessary to name an appointed day. We have deliberately left that vague. We hope to have an appointed day, as I explained, for some estates, immediately, and for other estates later, and to have an appointed day in fact as soon as we can get a few simple particulars that we require. We want to know the name and address of the tenant and the name and address of the landlord, and to know whether they are judicial tenants or non-judicial tenants, or first, second, or third term, and whether there is a sub-tenancy on the holding, and so on. I should say there would be an appointed day for some tenants in about a year, and the appointed day for all of the tenants would not come, I should say, before two years from the passing of the Act, and for some tenants perhaps longer. For the great majority of them, the appointed day will be about a year and a half. As to untenanted land, we might be able to buy some within two years. We certainly will not have all the untenanted land we require by within five or six or seven years hence. The Land Commission would have to be in a position to fix an appointed day whenever it suits them. If we are able to put all the tenants in the same position as if their holdings were vested within two years, our procedure will be at least five times as expeditious as the procedure under previous Acts. As a rule it took about ten years from the time negotiations started until the holding was actually vested in the tenants—hardly ten years, seven or eight years.
Under what Act?
Under the 1903 Act.
Here we propose within two years to put the tenant in the same position as if the holding was vested in him. In regard to untenanted land I should say the appointed day will be in about two years time. It is clear enough that we cannot name an appointed day for a definite period for all the tenants.
Motion made to report progress.